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I wanted to post this yesterday and maybe be the first to point out what I wanted to point out, but something came up.  C’est la vie.  Maybe I’m still the first to point it out.

Hacking Team is a surveillance technology company that sells its services to governments around the world, especially of the authoritarian variety, to aid in surveying their entire population.  This includes the United States government, as the FBI has spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars on their products in recent years.  Here is a commercial of theirs whose intended audience is dictatorial and absolute monarchical regimes (and regimes that wish they were):

The other day, hacktivists attacked Hacking Team, gathered all of their data, commandeered their CEO’s twitter account, and released over four hundred gigabytes of their e-mail, files, and source code.  Yesterday, July 9, 2015, WikiLeaks published over one million e-mails from Hacking Team in a searchable way.  I searched through them yesterday with a few different search terms.  As peaceful protests in authoritarian regimes in recent years come to mind when I think of companies like Hacking Team, one of the terms I used was ‘Ben Ali,’ for which I found an e-mail dated January 28, 2011 (after dictator Ben Ali of Tunisia had already been ousted) from CEO David Vincenzetti to the sales team.  The bulk of the e-mail is a news article he’s sharing about the Arab Spring spreading to Yemen.  But at the top of the e-mail is a very damning sentence written by Vincenzetti:

Political unrest in Arab countries could jeopardize HT’s business expansion in the Middle East!!!

And the subject line of that e-mail?  I kid you not:

Danger (was: Yemenis call for an end to Saleh regime)

You can see the e-mail for yourself by clicking here.

That is about the most damning thing I can imagine in this context short of an e-mail saying, “We help governments monitor dissidents.”  Please spread this widely.  Please search through these e-mails and the other files, data, and source code that have been leaked, and share as much damning stuff you can find.  Widely forward news articles or any work done by scholars and others on this leaked material.  Together, we will make Hacking Team no more, just like we did to HBGary Federal!

Click here to go to a LeakSource page that will get you to all the leaked material and other goodies.

Click here to go to the searchable WikiLeaks dump of just the e-mail archive.

Also, below is another fun goodie for you. Two crypto activists, Claudio Guarnieri and Morgan Marquis-Boire, giving a lecture titled “The Militarization of the Internet” on December 29, 2013 at the Chaos Computer Conference, expose Hacking Team and a number of similar companies.  Enjoy and solidarity!

This blog post is dedicated my dear friend and fellow activist, Amelia Campbell.

One night, over three years ago, my father spoke very nastily and downright meanly to me about my activism. I won’t rehash the whole argument here, but I remember it very well. You can ask me about it in person, and I’ll gladly give you all the gruesome details. Though his pathetic attempt to belittle me did not ultimately discourage me, I’m still upset with him for his BS, so I’d like to share some thoughts with you that I would share with my father were he a better man (technically, he could at any moment become that better man, but I’m not holding my breath at present). Okay, here goes…

Life is a responsibility; life is your responsibility to those (human, animal, plant, alien, etc.) who share time and space with you during your existence, and life is your responsibility to those whose existence will come as and long after your existence ends. Given this, I shall now defer to a man I don’t like, President Theodore Roosevelt, who spoke wisely when, in his speech, “Citizen in a Republic,” delivered in the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910, he made the following remarks:

“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who ‘but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.'”

I hope my brief words and Teddy’s much longer words will be of use to you, and feel free to share them if you want (Teddy’s words are in the public domain, and the description I gave of life I give everyone permission to share non-commercially, but I sure would appreciate attribution). With that, I would like to recommend the new film Tomorrowland to all my activist friends and to all activists and people who are considering activism. It’s still in theaters, so I suggest going with a group of fellow activists. It’s deeply vindicating.

P. S: This is only my second blog post, and my first one was back in November of 2013. I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting. A lot more are coming, and soon. Now go see Tomorrowland.

The United States at this moment makes for an interesting setting.  We face many challenges as a society but we also have a strong, collective desire to overcome them.  Recently, our country has seen multiple labor and union uprisings and a movement called Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Together demand radical political and economic change and mostly not succeeded.  Instead these movements have been ignored, mocked, and brutalized, and the political and economic crises have both only deepened.  All the same, Occupy and the labor movement have made their fellow citizens more acutely aware of the control big business has over their government, as well as the separation of the American population into distinct socio-economic classes.  All the same, very many Americans, just under half, in fact, are still beholden to one or the other major political parties.  Most liberals, though they have internalized the reality that big business controls the government and the public does not, still believe that mostly only the Republican Party is the party of big business, but that the Democratic Party is still somehow the party of the people.  These liberals, and most conservatives, are aware that most of the funding that Obama and Romney and Obama and McCain and Bush and Kerry and Bush and Gore all received came from the veritable 1% or .1% or .01%.  They are aware that Republicans in Congress and Democrats in Congress both are equally the target of and friendly with lobbyists.  And yet, most liberals and conservatives, at least the ones that have not been disaffected and still vote, still think their party is the party of the people and the other party mostly represents special interests.

The unfortunate fact is, of course, that people who still have faith in the system and faith in the party they identify with, are mostly wrong, and the politically disaffected, who are just as great in number, are mostly right.  There is little reason to trust the president or our governors or even our mayors and it doesn’t matter which party they come from.  The same can be said for most of our congresspersons, most of our state legislators, and a great deal of our city councilpersons.  However, where many disaffecteds are incorrect is in the idea that there is absolutely nothing that can be done.  In fact, there are things that can be done.  One of those things is activism.

As an activist myself, including in the Occupy movement, the anti-fracking movement, and elsewhere, my opinion is that activism is the most crucial way that the citizenry can have an effect on our government’s policy.  Indeed, it is the only way we have ever brought about major political and economic change, except, of course, for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  In recent years, in many parts of our country, environmentalist movement has protected us from fracking, and in many places absent of sizeable environmentalist movement, the population has had to suffer from fracking.  And suffering from fracking is no modest suffering.

However, as an Occupy activist, I have to admit that our victories have been few and far between.  At local levels, we have enjoyed municipal, county, and even state governments joining the fight against foreclosures by introducing people-minded policies, such as foreclosure moratoriums and a variety of other creative programs.  As well, we the activists have, without the help of political authority, prevented or even reversed many foreclosures all over the nation.  And there have been other victories on other issues at the state and local levels made by the Occupy movement, it’s child movements, and it’s abeyance structures.  But the fundamental economic-political crises remain entirely unalleviated.  Occupy began hardly more than a month after the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, when both parties in Congress (okay, mostly the Republicans are to blame here, I’ll admit) couldn’t come to an agreement on raising the debt limit and we came very close to a default, and, as a result of this, our credit rating was lowered, and even worse, the American people were forced into a govermental sequestration, which is really just a nice-sounding word for “austerity.”  As such, we ought to understand Occupy for all that we Occupiers said it was- not only a demand for an end to the gaping, much-larger-and-much-longer-than-just-one-recession economic crisis, but also a demand for an end to the even deeper, seemingly bottomless, political crisis.  And because we ought to understand it that way, we must recognize that if only two years later, the Congress shut down the government over the debt limit, our success in th national arena was not very great.

This is not to say that on the national level, activism is equally as ineffective as voting.  Let us recognize that our very recent Occupy/labor/environmentalist/feminist/student/whistleblower-lead democratic awakening is still in it’s infancy.  The Civil Rights Movement of the post-war period, which began in earnest no later than 1955 (which is not to forget that the movement existed over the entire six decades before then, both in activity and in dormancy), only saw local and state victories in its first few years.  But after a number of years, there were many major national-level victories, like the Civil Rights Acts of 1960 and 1964, the Voting Rights Act, and federally-enforced desegregation as a result of the state and local governments making virtually no progress in complying with the Brown decisions.  Indeed, activism can be very effective even at the federal level if it can gather lots and lots of people who are willing to keep the fight going for a long time.

This is precisely what the United States deserves right now and long into the future.  At a time when our education system is being destroyed, when the war machine is carrying atrocities in our name as well as, along with the financial industry, gutting our economy, when the so-called “War on Drugs” and the NSA spying program and the PATRIOT ACT and the NDAA and the for-profit prison system and the acquisiton of surveillance drones and armored tanks by local police departments are killing the freedoms we once took for granted, when the Congress and, to some extent, the White House insist on “austerity or else,” when journalists are treated with harsh state repression for carrying out their extremely critical and democracy-sustaining duty, when fracking and mountain top removal and many other forms of environmental degradation have ruined the lives of so many people, animals, and plants, when pornography industry is colonizing our minds and causing preteens to pressure other preteens into sexting, when our economy is in deep structural not incidental crisis, when whistleblowing is considered espionage, when the schools are even more segregated than they were before desegregation, when there are more black men in prison than were enslaved prior to the Civil War, when we have the largest percentage of our citizenry in prison in the whole world, when our police departments have received training from Blackwater, this country deserves as much activism as its able-bodied citizens are capable of giving it.  So let us build on what we already have.  Let us all break free from our illusions about our leader looking out for us.  Let us get out in the streets in greater numbers than at any point in our history.  Let’s get together and MAKE history!  We CAN reverse course.  We CAN restore the Constitution and our freedom.  We CAN end racism and sexism.  We CAN create an economy for all.  We CAN build a different tomorrow.  Another world is possible; let’s be unstoppable!