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Corporations are people, Sarah Guthrie paints their portraits


Scott Edelman sez, "Artist Sarah Guthrie (whose work I discovered at the Crystal City, VA art installation Artomatic) believes that since Citizens United grants corporations the same legal status as human beings, they's surely want their own portraits. And so she has painted AT&T, Mattel, General Mills and other corporations in the style of the old masters in a series she calls Corporate Masters. She writes: 'The corporations selected are large multi-nationals that have been highlighted in the news recently: for legally paying less in federal income tax than you and me; for market domination; for bringing the economy to the brink of disaster.'"

3 more reasons to visit Artomatic (Thanks, Scott!)

Spirit Level documentary needs your support

Katharine sez, "Dartmouth Films are working with the Equality Trust on a documentary film of 'The Spirit Level, which aims to take the message of the book -- that more equal societies are better for everyone -- out to a wider audience. With growing unease over the last year about tax avoidance & the social effects of inequality (and the success of movements such as Occupy and Uncut), the film hopes to put pressure on governments and political parties from all ends of the political spectrum to pursue fairer policies. The film's campaign is live for three more weeks only at Indiegogo, and you can support the project by pre-buying the film or following the film on Twitter."

Occupy footage exonerates journalist; cop lied under oath

Photojournalist Alexander Arbuckle, arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street protests, was acquitted Tuesday after a short trial. Moreover, footage shown in court suggests that police lied about what happened.

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May Day protests: gas, brutality, and baseless arrest

Mike from Mother Jones sends us a link to the magazine's coverage of yesterday's May Day protests: "Mother Jones reporter was close at hand, and got disturbing photos and video of Oakland Police officers tackling a girl on a bike who didn't seem to be doing anything provocative. He then got a nice taste of OPD attitude: 'Fuck, I just got teargassed,' he tweeted. The video clips are about halfway down, but lots of good photos and bicoastal coverage, too."

"#$#! I Just Got Tear Gassed!" and Other MoJo Tales From Occupy May Day

May Day, 2012 (big photo gallery)

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A protester holds a Guy Fawkes masked teddy bear during May Day demonstrations in Los Angeles. Below, more photos from demonstrations around the world today (Canada, Germany, Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, and more) in support of workers' rights and economic justice.

Joe Sabia

Above, Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia took these iPad snapshots of taxi drivers and workers protesting in NYC's Greenwich Village. "These photos are on the mid to tail-end of the march," Joe tells Boing Boing, "They're on Tenth and Broadway, heading south from Union Square."

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Stephen King calls on politicians to tax him and other rich people

"Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!," Stephen King's op-ed in The Daily Beast was published on April 30, but it's perfect for May Day:

The Koch brothers are right-wing creepazoids, but they’re giving right-wing creepazoids. Here’s an example: 68 million fine American dollars to Deerfield Academy. Which is great for Deerfield Academy. But it won’t do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where food fish are now showing up with black lesions. It won’t pay for stronger regulations to keep BP (or some other bunch of dipshit oil drillers) from doing it again. It won’t repair the levees surrounding New Orleans. It won’t improve education in Mississippi or Alabama. But what the hell—them li’l crackers ain’t never going to go to Deerfield Academy anyway. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke...

At the risk of repeating myself, here’s what rich folks do when they get richer: they invest. A lot of those investments are overseas, thanks to the anti-American business policies of the last four administrations. Don’t think so? Check the tag on that T-shirt or gimme cap you’re wearing. If it says MADE IN AMERICA, I’ll … well, I won’t say I’ll eat your shorts, because some of that stuff is made here, but not much of it. And what does get made here doesn’t get made by America’s small cadre of pluted bloatocrats; it’s made, for the most part, in barely-gittin’-by factories in the Deep South, where the only unions people believe in are those solemnized at the altar of the local church (as long as they’re from different sexes, that is)...

I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies. Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-fucking-American is what it is. I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that—sorry, kiddies—you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay—not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay—in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.

Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake! (Thanks, Spider Robinson!)

Just Do It environmental outlaw activist documentary screening, free online for May Day

Emily sez,

Just Do It - a tale of modern-day outlaws is an exciting new documentary which takes you behind the scenes of the secret world of environmental direct action in the UK. Granted unprecedented access to film, director Emily James embedded herself inside a group of nonviolent UK activists as they shut down airports, stormed the fences of coal power stations, and super-glued themselves to bank trading floors, all despite the very real threat of arrest.

The film opened in the US just last week on Earth Day, however, in solidarity and support with May Day actions planned around the world - starting at 5:30pm EST on Monday 30th, the full film will be available to watch online for FREE for 24 hours on occupy.com, with a live Q&A with director Emily James at 7pm EST. To reserve your seat for the 5:30pm screening, simply head over to www.occupy.com/watch/ or to watch the film at any time during the 24-hour invitation, click "watch now" in the player.

You'll remember Emily and her awesome movie from such blogposts as this one.

Just do it | Occupy.com

May Day General Strike posters


Hugh sez, "Check out Eric Drooker's latest May Day poster -- he has a bunch that can be downloaded here as well. I've got one as well on my Flickr page.

(Thanks, Hugh!)

Occupy Dagobah


A little bit of Star Wars-meets-Occupy street art, snapped near my flat in Hackney, London.

Occupy Wall St The 99% We Are, Yoda stencil, Great Eastern Street, Hackney, London.jpg

Why Debt is creeping into so many science fiction discussions

On Tor.com, author and reviewer Jo Walton has an insightful look at why so many science fiction readers and writers are discussing David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, a book that is already a darling of the Occupy movement:

One of the problems with writing science fiction and fantasy is creating truly different societies. We tend to change things but keep other things at societal defaults. It’s really easy to see this in older SF, where we have moved on from those societal defaults and can thus laugh at seeing people in the future behaving like people in the fifties. But it’s very difficult to create genuinely innovative societies, and in genuinely different directions. As a British reader coming to SF there were a lot of things I thought were people’s amazing imagination that turned out to be normal American things and cultural defaults. And no matter how much research you do, it’s always easier in the anglosphere to find books and primary sources in English and about our own history and the history of people who have interacted with us. And both history and anthropology tend to be focused on one period, one place, so it’s possible to research a specific society you know you want to know about, but hard to find things that are about the range of options different societies have chosen.

What Debt does is to focus on a question of morality, first by framing the question, and then by examining how a really large number of human societies over a huge geographical and historical range have dealt with this issue, and how they have interacted with other people who have very different ideas about it. It’s a huge issue of the kind that shapes societies and cultures, so in reading it you encounter a whole lot of contrasting cultures. Graeber has some very interesting ideas about it, and lots of fascinating details, and lots of thought provoking connections.

For a more academic discussion of Debt among political scientists and economists, see this Crooked Timber seminar on the book, and the author's reply. I liked Debt, but was also frustrated by the amount of circling back and meandering the author engages in. That said, it was one of my more thought-provoking reads of 2011.

The Best Science Fiction Ideas in any Non-Fiction Ever: David Graeber’s Debt: The First Five Thousand Years

What role for journalists in holding the powerful to account?


Laurie Penny, corporate-crime-fighting superhero journo, has a corker of an essay on Warren Ellis's website, about the uneasy role of muckraking journalism in the late days of crony-capitalism:

I thought I got into journalism to tell truths and right wrongs and occasionally get into parties I wouldn’t normally be cool enough to go to. Right now though, with a few exceptions, professional journalism is rarely seen as an exercise in holding power to account. Justly or unjustly, the media, especially but not exclusively the mainstream, corporate-controlled press, has come to be seen as the enemy of the voiceless rather than their champion. Justly or unjustly, few people believe what they read in the papers or watch on the news anymore, because belief has long ceased to be quite as important as complicity when it comes to the Daily Mail, the Daily Post or News International. On the streets of Athens and Madrid as well as during the London riots of August 2011, journalists have been threatened and attacked by desperate young people making havoc in the streets. Why? Not because these young people don’t want to be seen, but because they don’t want to be seen through the half-closed eyes of privilege.

Journalists are losing any case we ever had for special pleading. For the younger generation of digital natives, there is no particular reason to be deferential towards anyone who happens to be at a protest with a phone that can get the internet and an audience of thousands: it’ll be you and a hundred others, and unless the police have given you special privileges to write precisely what they want and nothing else, your press pass is less and less likely to keep you safe from arrest. As more and more ordinary men, women and children without degrees in journalism acquire the skills and technology to broadcast text and video, the media has become another cultural territory which is gradually being re-occupied. Those on the ground do not have to wait for the BBC and MSNBC to turn up with cameras: they make the news and the reporters follow. They have grown up in a world of branding and they know how to create a craze and set the agenda. They occupy the media. And the media is starting to worry.

GUEST INFORMANT: Laurie Penny (Thanks, Laurie!)

Students protesting tuition hikes pepper-sprayed by police in Santa Monica, CA

(video: Jenna Chandler, Santa Monica Patch)

Last night at Santa Monica College (about 20 blocks from the beach here in Los Angeles, CA), police pepper-sprayed some 30 students in a crowd of about 150 protesters. The students want affordable education. They gathered during a meeting of the college's board of trustees to voice opposition to planned tuition hikes that would raise the cost of bread-and-butter courses during the summer session by as much as 400%. I was close enough to the location last night to hear helicopters and sirens as it happened.

The LA Times reports that Santa Monica police are today "trying to sort out" who used pepper-spray on the peacefully assembled students. Reports I heard last night indicated that the person or persons responsible were campus police, not Santa Monica police, who were called in later to secure the site. Among the injured: a child, who looks to be about 4 or 5 years old from these photos.

One student eyewitness tweeted:


More eyewitness video plus photos of two of the victims follow, at the end of this Boing Boing post.

Student blogger zunguzungu in Berkeley, who has been covering student protests and campus police brutality throughout California, rounds up news link and posts about the incident this morning. An excerpt:

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CC-licensed boardgame about demonstrators and cops seeks Kickstarter funds


Justin Nichol sez, "Black Flag Games is currently running a Kickstarter to produce a radical boardgame project called 'A Las Barricadas'. It is a boardgame about conflict between state police and anti-authoritarian demonstrators. It is a two-player game with each player representing one of these social forces. The theatre of the conflict is street demonstration. It has been designed to inspire tactical consideration and conversation and is being developed and designed by the Black Flag Games Collective, committed to the idea that games and interactive media can have an impact in the struggle for a free and cooperative world. We are also committed to the ideals of free culture and aim to deliver professional play experiences that enrich a participatory entertainment culture."

The game has seen light playtesting and has been in development for well over a year. We want to involve the broader community in refining and polishing the game before final publication. So as part of our Kickstarter, you will be able to sign up to receive a Playtester Prototype as a reward, which you will receive well before the final game is shipped. You will also receive surveys and a means with which to communicate issues and bugs in the game before it goes to print. You will also receive a special playtester credit in the rulebook of the game.

A Las Barricadas - A Boardgame of Social Conflict (Thanks, Justin)

Homeland Security memo warned of violent threat posed by Occupy Wall Street

An October, 2011 Department of Homeland Security memo on Occupy Wall Street warned of the potential for violence posed by the "leaderless resistance movement." (via @producermatthew).

Update: Looks like there's a larger Rolling Stone feature on this document:

As Occupy Wall Street spread across the nation last fall, sparking protests in more than 70 cities, the Department of Homeland Security began keeping tabs on the movement. An internal DHS report entitled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street [PDF]," dated October of last year, opens with the observation that "mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas." While acknowledging the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of OWS, the report notes darkly that "large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement."

What's Occupy Minnesota doing during winter?

It's cold outside in Minnesota (though, not as cold as it usually is), but the Occupy movement has not been idle here. They've been busy occupying a house threatened with foreclosure and saving homeowner Bobby Hull from becoming homeless. Hull says the very public pressure and media exposure provided by Occupy played a major role in convincing his lender to let him renegotiate the mortgage. If you're in Minnesota and your house is at risk, contact Occupy at Occupyhomesmn@gmail.com. (Thanks, Laura!)

Occupy London says St Paul's Cathedral colluded with eviction effort

Following last night's eviction of Occupy London from St Paul's Square, many of the protesters blame the cathedral for colluding with the eviction effort. This past winter, the cathedral was rocked by a series of high-profile departures from clerics who sided with Occupy, and this culminated in the cathedral "pausing" its action against the protests. Writing in The Guardian, James Ball and Ben Quinn describe the accusations that the protesters have levied against the cathedral.

At midnight five spotlights illuminated the square as the standoff continued. At 2am the lights were briefly switched off. When turned on again, four people, believed by protesters to be police officers, were stood on the balcony of the cathedral. Soon after, police revealed to press that they had the cathedral's permission to remove protesters from its steps.

"I was shocked to see policemen on the balcony," said Naomi Colvin, a spokeswoman for Occupy. "It seemed to be collusion. Tammy [another activist] just gave an interview saying how betrayed she felt when she learned the cathedral gave permission for us to be removed from its steps.

"That wasn't covered in the high court orders – it's like St Paul's has learned nothing from the last four months."

The canon chancellor of St Paul's, Giles Fraser, resigned in October over attempts by the cathedral to remove protesters by compulsion. Fraser was on the edge of the eviction, but police refused to let him cross a cordon to get closer to the cathedral.

Occupy London protesters accuse St Paul's of betrayal

Occupy London protesters evicted from St Paul's square

The Occupy London camp at St Paul's Cathedral has lost its legal fight to remain in place. Once the injunction was ordered, bailiffs and officers from the City of London Police (a separate police force directed by the Corporation of the City of London, whose council is elected by the companies in the financial district, with more votes going to larger companies) gave the camp five minutes to vacate.

Judging from the liveblog maintained by The Guardian, it sounds like the procedure was remarkably orderly, with the police and the camp both taking steps to minimize conflict with one another.

Catherine Brogan, a poet and high-profile member of the Occupy movement, said it made sense for the authorities to come on a Monday night.

"There was talk of prayer rings and of other people coming down to support us when this happened, but many of our supporters are elderly or obviously live in areas other than the centre of London, so this would have caught them by surprise," she said.

"This has always been a peaceful process, and it has never looked like turning into anything other than that," she added. "There's definitely no Molotov cocktails stashed, it is very timid. I just hope the police respect that, and don't react in the way I've seen them reacting at other times, at other protests."

Activists from the camp say they will take their case to the European court of human rights, but judges denied them a stay of eviction, and it is understood that the City of London Corporation, which brought the case against the protest camp, has has now acted to remove up to 100 tents from the grounds of the cathedral.

Occupy London: police and bailiffs move in to evict St Paul's protesters

Lessig's One Way Forward

Lawrence Lessig’s new ebook One Way Forward is one of the most exciting documents I’ve read since I first found The Federalist Papers.

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Police raid on Occupy DC

Quinn Norton's first-person account of the police raid on Occupy DC for Wired is riveting and scary. The Occupy camp that was demolished was riven by a deep disagreement on tactics and politics, and the police raid was a dramatic change from the good relations the camp had enjoyed with local law enforcement.

Screams of anger, panic, and pain began to cut through the grey air, and I managed to get back into the crowd a bit, away from the police. In the midst of the pressed and screaming crowd I saw two occupiers, Mo and Georgia, find each other, and hug. They stayed there, oblivious to the cacophony around them, both their eyes glassy and vacant and a little too wide open.

I grabbed a woman I recognized from the info tent and pointed to them. “Get them out of here,” I told her. She just looked at me for a moment in the chaos, and I repeated, “Get them the fuck out of here.” She nodded and grabbed them, still hugging. I spun around, and the riot line was on me. Pushed from every direction, I tripped over something behind me which turned out to be a person on the ground. The officer in front of me screamed “Move back!” but other people were falling on the fallen, and there was no way to move back without trampling them, and no way to stay without being trampled.

Occupy DC Evicted From a Winter of Communal Discontent

Alan Moore explains the Guy Fawkes mask, Occupy, Anonymous and anti-ACTA protests

Alan Moore, writer of V for Vendetta and enigmatic wizard of comicology, describes the relationship between the Guy Fawkes mask and Anonymous, anti-ACTA protests, and the Occupy movement. Beginning with the Moore-ish phrase, "Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire, and the adoption of the V for Vendetta mask as a multipurpose icon by the emerging global protest movements is no exception," Moore goes on to semi-seriously condemn the ugly reality of post-capitalist winner-take-all economics and explain why V for Vendetta has found such fertile soil in this decade.

It also seems that our character's charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid's Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Neglect

Our present financial ethos no longer even resembles conventional capitalism, which at least implies a brutal Darwinian free-for-all, however one-sided and unfair. Instead, we have a situation where the banks seem to be an untouchable monarchy beyond the reach of governmental restraint, much like the profligate court of Charles I.

Then, a depraved neglect of the poor and the "squeezed middle" led inexorably to an unanticipated reaction in the horrific form of Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War which, as it happens, was bloodily concluded in Northamptonshire.

Today's response to similar oppressions seems to be one that is intelligent, constantly evolving and considerably more humane, and yet our character's borrowed Catholic revolutionary visage and his incongruously Puritan apparel are perhaps a reminder that unjust institutions may always be haunted by volatile 17th century spectres, even if today's uprisings are fuelled more by social networks than by gunpowder.

Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous (Thanks, Gawain Lavers!)

Journalist arrested covering Occupy Miami eviction recovers arrest-video deleted by police

Carlos Miller, an accredited photojournalist covering the Occupy Miami eviction, was arrested by Miami-Dade police, who deleted several videos from his camera before they returned it to him. Miller recovered some of the deleted files and has posted them to YouTube. They support his version of the events of that night, in which he was subject to arbitrary arrest. The deletion of a journalist's arrest-video seems a move calculated to obscure guilt on the part of the police.

So now the next step is taking my camera to a professional recovery service with a forensics specialists who will not only retrieve the entire deleted footage without interruptions, but would also determine the exact time the footage was deleted

That will determined that the footage was deleted while I was in custody and the camera was in their possession, leaving them no defense for blatantly violating my Constitutional rights.

I also plan on obtaining the footage recorded by the Miami police officer as well as the footage recorded by the television news cameraman.

And, of course, I plan on filing an internal affairs complaint against Perez as well as a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice for deleting my footage.

Here Is The Recovered Video Police Deleted Of My Arrest (via Ars Technica)

Guy Fawkes mask stencil

Here's some handy, infringealicious clip art for the discriminating Anon who wants to make a statement without paying a royalty: a Guy Fawkes mask, suitable for urban art, dress-up, and silkscreening.

Guy Fawkes Mask clip art (Thanks, @crisnoble!)

Conclusion to "Existential Dread" - a history of Anonymous's activities in 2011


Quinn Norton has completed her triumphant history of Anonymous's actions in 2011 for Wired and this installment is amazing, containing real insight into how the world sees Anon, how Anon sees itself, and how those two mix. I was really taken with the following section, which reminds me a lot of Clay Shirky's idea that the pre-Internet world was one of "select, then publish" but that now we live in the world of "publish, then select":

The Freedom Ops are useful in explaining how Anonymous ops work. At any time on IRC there were ops for any number of countries, not just Middle Eastern ones. There were channels for Britain, Italy, Ireland, the USA, Venezuela, Brazil, and many more, as well as Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and most of the rest of the Middle East. Most of the ops had few participants, so those who were there linked to a press release or video about problems in that country with a bold call to action, but, for long stretches, nothing would happen.

That was OK; that is how Anonymous proposes ideas to itself. This reverses the order that the media was used to. In most of the world, the bold proclamation comes after the decision to act. In Anonymous, hyperbolic manifestos and calls to apocalyptic action show you want to talk about an issue. For many people reporting on Anonymous, it often looked like Anonymous was all bluster and no action.

But that’s the wrong way to look at it. For the lulzy hive mind, bluster can be the point itself. Other times, quieter, less dramatic actions would spring up and fill the channel, only for it to go quiet again when anons had moved on to another action. For the Freedom Ops, lying fallow was no shame, and dormant ops often sparked up in response to news events from the relevant region.

Quinn notes that this installment is "longer than the first two parts [part 1, part 2] put together, and only covers 2011-- a doozy of a year! ...I think 2012 may be an even crazier year with the hive mind."

2011: The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread (Thanks, Quinn!)

(Photo: Quinn Norton)

Oakland cops complicit in covering name-badges at Occupy protests disciplined

Remember this video, in which protesters ask an Oakland PD officer why he illegally covered his name-badge, then, when he won't answer, ask a supervisor why this was so? Well, both the cop and his supervisor have been disciplined for their roles in the incident (the cop for covering his badge, the supervisor for failing to report the illegal conduct). The supervisor, formerly a lieutenant, has been busted down to sergeant, and the officer has been suspended for a month (no word on whether he will be paid during the suspension, which he is appealing).

After an internal investigation, Hargraves was ordered suspended for 30 days, and Wong was demoted to sergeant for failing to report the incident to internal affairs, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because the department considers the case a confidential personnel matter...

"[An video the officer had seen on the net involving another officer] called for violence against the officer, including burning down his home," Hargraves wrote. "This caused me great concern for the safety of my family."

But civil rights attorney Jim Chanin said Wednesday, "That's like saying that you can steal from a store because you're poor. If you take that to its logical conclusion, every police officer every day faces possible exposure and danger because their names are on their badges."

Chanin added, "Officer Hargraves could have asked to get an undercover assignment. He could have asked to be taken off duty that day. Instead, he decided to go and get his pay and violate the law. There's no excuse for that."

Oakland cops disciplined for name-covering episode (via JWZ)

Judge orders Zucotti Park barriers removed, jubilant Occupiers return

After a judge ordered the removal of the barriers around Zucotti Park (a privately owned space that is open to the public, built as part of a deal to allow a property developer to put up more buildings), jubilant #Occupy protesters streamed into the "spiritual home" of the Occupy movement. Puzzled private security guards are now jostling for space as the place refills with protesters.

#Occupy Wall Street Returns to Zuccotti Park (#OWS) « naked capitalism

A thousand heroes' faces

Turnstyle's Robyn Gee interviews Brooklyn-based photographer Vanessa Bahmani, who took 1,000 portraits of Occupy Wall Street Protestors with a medium-format camera.

One of the things that inspired me to do this was when mainstream media gave Occupy Wall Street attention; it was very negative. [Mainstream media said,] “They’re just crazy, jobless, lazy hippies.” But there was nothing crazy about anyone there. I talked to veterans, pilots, families, students, teachers, investment bankers and even Wall Street employees.

Photographer Gathers 1,000 Portraits Of Occupy Wall Street Faces [Turnstyle]

LA City Attorney to Occupy: pay for brainwashing lessons on limits of free speech and we'll drop the charges


The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office has offered Occupy protesters a get-out-of-jail card: all they need to do to skip their court dates is pay $355 for private "free speech lessons" where they will be taught a highly selective version of Constitutional law that holds that the First Amendment doesn't include the kind of protest they enjoy.

It's like they combined traffic school with Maoist "self-criticism sessions" from the Cultural Revolution to make something worse than both combined.

As a civil rights attorney working with some of the approximately 350 protesters who have been arrested in recent weeks noted, the offer is nothing short of "patronizing."

However, it's much more than that. It's a disgusting and cynical way to alleviate the strain on city courts by having protesters pay for an unofficial guilty plea.

In short, the city is offering protesters the chance to purchase courses in which they will learn about the free speech LAPD officers stripped from them.

Apparently, in L.A., you can pay to learn about the free speech you don't actually have.

NOT SATIRE: L.A. Tells Arrested OWS Protesters They Can Pay for "Free Speech" Classes to Avoid Court (Thanks, phosphorious!)

(Image: Police Lines blocking City Hall entrance, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from neontommy's photostream)

ACLU fights Kafkaesque secret Occupy Boston Twitter subpoena

The ACLU of Massachusetts is representing an anonymous Twitter user who has been targetted by an Assistant DA who is trying to build a case related to Occupy Boston; the court and the ADA have sealed the proceedings, so no one -- not even some of the ACLU staff working on the case -- is allowed to know what is going on:

I had gone to court to listen to our legal team argue a case to protect the First Amendment rights of our client, Twitter user @p0isAn0n, aka Guido Fawkes. That user, who wishes to remain anonymous throughout the proceedings, was the target of a Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney’s administrative subpoena to Twitter, dated December 14, 2011. As we wrote last week, the subpoena asked Twitter to hand over @p0isAn0n’s subscriber information, including our client’s IP address, which can be used to help track down someone’s physical residence...

The known knowns: the scrum of lawyers, defense and prosecution, addressed the judge. I saw the judge speak to the lawyers. Then I saw our attorneys return to their bench, closer to where I was sitting, out of earshot of the sidebar. But the ADA stayed with the judge. He spoke to her, with his back to the courtroom, for about ten minutes. Our attorneys didn’t get to hear what he said to her, didn’t have a chance to respond to whatever the government was saying about our client, about the case. It was frankly shocking.

After those ten minutes of secret government-judge conversation, our attorneys were invited back to the sidebar, whereupon the scrum of lawyers spoke with the judge for another ten or fifteen minutes. Then they dispersed. The judge uttered not one word to the open court. And that was it.

Stunned, I followed a group of reporters outside and listened as Attorney Krupp attempted to answer their questions. It was then I realized that the judge had impounded all the court records related to the case, and mandated complete secrecy governing the proceedings. The public wasn’t even to know whether our motion to quash had been approved or denied.

WTF? (What the Fawkes?) (Thanks, Joy!)

Linguistics, Turing Completeness, and teh lulz


Yesterday's keynote at the 28th Chaos Computer Congress (28C3) by Meredith Patterson on "The Science of Insecurity" was a tour-de-force explanation of the formal linguistics and computer science that explain why software becomes insecure, and an explanation of how security can be dramatically increased. What's more, Patterson's slides were outstanding Rageface-meets-Occupy memeshopping. Both the video and the slides are online already.

Hard-to-parse protocols require complex parsers. Complex, buggy parsers become weird machines for exploits to run on. Help stop weird machines today: Make your protocol context-free or regular!

Protocols and file formats that are Turing-complete input languages are the worst offenders, because for them, recognizing valid or expected inputs is UNDECIDABLE: no amount of programming or testing will get it right.

A Turing-complete input language destroys security for generations of users. Avoid Turing-complete input languages!

Patterson's co-authors on the paper were her late husband, Len Sassaman (eulogized here) and Sergey Bratus.

LANGSEC explained in a few slogans

Boston PD's bizarre Occupy subpoena to Twitter


A reader writes, "Boston PD subpoenas Twitter for info on users tweeting about Occupy Boston; they say it relates to a 'criminal investigation'. Also notice their ignorance when asking for account info on tags such as '#occupyboston'. Smart cookies over there."

Note that they're also looking for IP addresses for Guido Fawkes, a well-known, right-leaning British blogger (real name Paul Staines) who -- as far as I know -- has nothing to do with Boston (let alone Occupy Boston). My guess is that they've somehow mistaken Guido Fawkes for some kind of superdistributor of Guy Fawkes masks or similar (the historical Guy Fawkes did adopt the name Guido while fighting in Spain in the the 16th cen), which is to say that they're not just on a fishing expedition, they're on a fishing expedition that's grounded in profound ignorance.

And yup, they don't know the difference between a hashtag and an account.

Subpeona on @p0isAn0n @OccupyBoston #BostonPD #d0xcak3