Category Archives: politics

#iranelection

I’ve been watching the internet concerning the Iranian elections lately and I have to say that the information being delivered over the net is far more interesting than what traditional media has to offer, plus it’s a lot faster too.

A few things are quite interesting about this whole thing from an geek point of view on how the so called new media is used in the conflict:

1. Easy channels of information = easy channels for disinformation. As bloggers use blogs, Twitter and facebook to spread instant updates on what’s going on inside Iran, the government sets up fake account to spread disinformation using the same channels. Keeping your bullshit filter up when going through the information spread on the various networks is mandatory to not get suckered into the false news.

2. The firewalls have eyes. While the internet is the medium to spread news in a somewhat anonymous fashion, it’s also being actively monitored and  partially controlled by the government to try and track down protesters. The same goes for cellphone networks and SMS traffic. Public proxies and anonymizers can help to keep the identity of the bloggers safe, but those are being shut down as well. Governments all over the world are lobbying to limit the privacy of their civilians by forcing ISP’s to track their user’s actions on the net under the excuse of increasing security and fighting the terrorist threat. Once this is achieved there is no turning back and these tools can be used for less noble goals which is now being displayed in Iran. Keep this in mind next time politicians talk about forcing your internet provider to keep logs. Tools like Tor, Freenet, proxies and anonymizers are also imported for this reason.

3. Sometimes helping turns out to be not helping. People all over the world are trying to help the Iranian protesters using all sorts of geeky tricks. Unfortunately these tricks seem to be working more against them in some cases. Some people started DDos’ing Iranian websites. This turned out to be blocking overal internet traffic in Iran, including those of the protesters trying to get the word out. Retweeting messages of legit Iranians for example can blow their cover as Boing Boing mentions. Retweeting false information is another. Which brings us to..

4. Who can you trust? Trust is the major issue here. Can the blogger’s information be trusted? Can a website or forum be trusted, or is it a tool set up by the government to lure in the unwary? The gov has been said to set up so-called anonymous twitter-sites which simply log protesters accounts and IP’s for easy tracking. Trusting your Twitter or GMail account to a malicious website which then uses it to spam your friends is one silly mistake to make. But if your life depends on it you better be damn sure that site can be trusted before you hit the submit button.

5. The internet is supportive. All over the net support is being raised (noticed those green icons on Twitter?), rightfully or not. The underdog is always popular online and I frankly don’t have a clue yet who’s right and who’s wrong in this story, but by making such a fuss the government is certainly not looking like the good guys in this one. One thing I do know is that it’s important to allow free speech and that’s what the Iranian government is now trying to stop by blocking access to the net. It’s cool to see the Swedes at Piratebay have set up a forum which Iranians can use in full anonymity for example. I’m not linking directly to it here as it seems to be down at the moment, probably because of the increased traffic it’s getting right now, so they don’t need those few extra clicks coming from here.

Cyberwar is no longer science-fiction.

Photo by MisterArasmus, copyrighted so I’m going for fair-use here :)

war ain't cheap

Blackhawks flying towards the setting sun
Photo by SGT Buttler, cc-licensed

3 trillion dollar. That’s what the war on terror has cost the US of A until today. I can’t even imagine how much that is, but if nobel prize winner Joseph Sitglitz says so, I bet he ain’t bullshitting. Check the link and google news for the details but you can image that this is going to cost the US population. Those debts will have to be paid at some point, and hell, the US economy isn’t doing all that great as it is already.

It’s ironic that the war that was to stop international terrorism is actually succeeding in fulfilling the goals set out by those who flattened the twin towers in the first place. With their limited budget they managed to set of a chain of events that eventually brought the US to it’s knees economically. At least, that’s what likely to be happening, unless the next in line manages to turn that ship around before it hits that iceberg head on.

I think I hear champagne popping in a cave in Afghanistan somewhere.

scary stuff

Said the spider to the FlyNo not huge hairy spiders crawling on your face at night, or mutating radioactive zombies (although those would be rather scary), but more real life stuff.

The possibility of a Christian reverent becoming president of the US of A. FTW! As if it wasn’t bad enough already with the currently inspired by Christianity-when-it-suited-his-cause Bush Jr.

Creationism anyone? No thanks, but that twat will probably think it’s better to believe that instead of the daunting idea we all come from monkeys. Monkeys ffs. Warthogs would be worse IMHO. Monkeys are funny at least. Looks like McCain is in the lead for the Republicans so we might be in the clear, but still, I remember the last twat getting elected when we (the Europeans) thought it would never happen (again). Let Super Tuesday bring us hope!

Or how about Yahoo! being taken over by Micro$oft. Childs down my geeky spine that sends hmmm! I understand that the Empire wants to compete with Google and all, but it’s going to be the Dark side against the Google side I guess when it comes to that. Is Google not evil just because they claim so? I’m not sure, but they have shown far less evil streaks than the folks from Redmond have.

I sorta like(d) Yahoo. They have a lot of good services, and for a lot of those duplicates exist by M$, so my guess is a lot of those will be terminated at some point. Yahoo! chat vs MSN, 360° vs MSN spaces, Yahoo!Mail vs Hotmail… take your pick. Microsoft is also very good at pushing their own shit through the Windows operating system. From default internet searche pages, chat clients, media players to desktop search software. As a big monopolist they always try to pull this kind of stuff off, and the internet is their next goal to try and do the same. This can only be bad news to all of us. I think I’ll wait before I get that Flickr pro account I was thinking off, and see how this thing turns out.

(“Said the spider to the fly” image by Thomas Hawk, some rights reserved)

not split up yet

Tricolor massifWe haven’t split up yet, just in case you’re wondering how that small country named Belgium has been up to lately. Turns out it wouldn’t be such an easy task after all. I read this article in the local paper that stated that if Flanders would separate itself from the rest of what would still be called Belgium then, we would instantly drop out of the European Union. Yikes.

Now it’s not like they would be able to stop us from using the Euro oslt. But it would mean a lot of legal stuff would become very fuzzy. Investors looking for places to put their money in would skip our little land, because fuzzy legal stuff isn’t exactly what they are looking for. Economically it would be a bad idea to step out of the European Union like that, and we all know that you joining it is about as smooth as getting to pandas to get jiggy with it.

The neat part is that there’s quite some internet activity going down about this whole thing as well, with new sites popping up, and polls to take and all those kind of interweb fun. Here’s some links to stuff like that, in Dutch I’m afraid:

  • De BelgoMeter to find out if you’re a separatist, or a unionist. I’m pretty much in the middle I found out.
  • Red de solidariteit which is a petition for those who don’t want “the Be” to split up.
  • and last but not least, I love Belgium, about… well, you can guess that one right, even if you don’t speak Dutch or French which all posts are written in. Nice touch.
    (Via Ine btw).

belgium on the verge of a breakup?

Even though I’m not really into politics that much, currently we are having a very interesting political episode going down in our little country.

If you know Belgium you also know that the country is split up into several parts, making things rather complicated to govern.

As the federal elections took place a few months ago and a new federal government is supposed to be formed, things are getting a bit out of hand between the Flemish and French speaking politicians.

You see, the Flemish part is currently the wealthiest, and the Walloon part is sort of depending on us. Due to a long history of negotiations and cutting deals between the French and Flemish parts a lot of odd situations have arisen over the decades and the Flemish side wants to get those sorted now.

Problem is the Walloons like things just the way they are. They fear that any kind of change will be in their disadvantage. A lot of these issues are silly when you look at them however, and that counts both ways.

It’s not a crisis just yet, but it’s getting pretty darn close to it now. The King even got involved over the weekend trying to get the parties to work together, which only happens if things are truly in a rut. The separatists that always wanted to see Belgium split up into it’s linguistic regions are louder than ever at this time of course, but frankly I don’t think that is a realistic solution anyway.

Belgium is small as it is, and splitting it up into even smaller parts is ridiculous imo. Besides, the arguments that plead for the split are mostly based on a number of unfair rulings from the past, which can still be set straight. Both parts need each other in some degree. Without Wallonia, Flanders will never reach the Kyoto norm on it’s own for instance, just to give an example.

It’s mostly a political thing anyway, with a bunch of politicians who now do not want to back down and loose face, and the support of their voters. This is only augmented by the media (RTBF, I’m looking at you) who are putting some oil on the fire, heating up opinions, and making it even harder to build a compromise.

How this will turn out is hard to predict, but I’m hoping that no side has to roll over for the other. This counts specifically the Flemish side, since that is what has happened enough in the past already.

Politically and historically this could be an important milestone to grow into a stronger and better Belgium, but it’s going to need the will of politicians from both sides to work together to accomplish this.

german gov going crazy?

A German flag.The German government is making some odd waves lately. I posted about their odd internet censorship policy before affecting Flickr users in Germany, but there’s two posts on Hadez’ blog that really made me raise an eyebrow to who’s in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the European Union.

First there was the law they passed making all hacking tools illegal in Germany. Owning a tool, which means just having it on your hard drive is enough to get sent to jail for a year, or get a serious fine. Hacking tools however are not evil pieces of satanic source code mind you, they are the tools used by security experts and IT network admins to keep their networks running safely, while trying to detect intrusions, or prevent them.
It’s like with a crowbar. It’s used for burglary sure, but not everyone with a crowbar is intending to break into your car or house now is he?

A second one I thought was exclusive for those silly bats that live across the Atlantic. You know, those lads that got Bush junior re-elected and like to bomb small countries and all. They have these debates going down on whether or not Intelligent Design (talk about a contradiction) should be taught in school as an alternative to Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Turns out the same discussion is arising in Germany as well now ffs. Looks like the Americans aren’t the only silly bats out there anymore, and they moved into my backyard dammit.

I’m really hoping the rest of Europe isn’t going to be picking these crazy laws up as well, or we’re al screwed.