Archive for the ‘General Nonsense’ Category

Syrian Hackers Deface the Website of Brown County, Ohio

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Syria-News today reported that Syrian Hackers defaced the website of Brown County, Ohio. Below you’ll find a screen grab of the page that was still defaced at the time of writing this post. The hackers went by the names The Pro, SaQeR SyRia, and boy-25 and identified themselves as being from the Occupied Golan Heights.

Screen capture of Brown County website, accessed 10:00 am EST, Feb 16, 2011

The hackers did not list any demands apart from apparently bringing attention to the Golan Heights which Israel invaded in 1967 and annexed later completely ignoring International Law and UN resolutions. Unfortunately Brown County was punished for a crime it didn’t commit. Hacking is in no way acceptable. Surely you can’t hope to solve major regional geopolitical problems by hacking websites of an innocent county in north-eastern US. The hack seems to have happened some time ago, at least it’s been long enough for Google spiders to index it:

Screen capture of Brown County Ohio Google search, accessed 10:30 am EST, Feb 16, 2011

Syrian reactions to the news were divided between cheering the hackers on and berating them. Below are some translations of comments left on the afore-mentioned Syria-news article:

Susu: You’re a master, keep on hacking other Israeli and American websites!

Rami: What an achievement! People show off scientific discoveries and inventions and you go about hacking American websites? I don’t know what to say… you’re leaving us with no friends

blah: Bravo! make them hate us more!

Huda: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This is a stupid operation that is surely to backfire. What’s the use? Is it just to show off? Does inserting the Quran help Islam or harms it? […] I believe this is an operation to link Syria to Islamist terrorism.

Mahmoud: DUMB TERRORIST! Do you know what you’re doing? Do you realize that you’re acting like Al Qaeda? Do you know that you’re linking Syria to Al Qaeda  when you abuse the Quran and use it in your operation? Oh my God how will we make you understand?

Hacking governmental website has become a common occurrence in Syria recently. Youth have repeatedly hacked the websites of ministries and universities as they view it their only way to get their demands across to the government. The demands varied between asking for a better education, protesting unemployment, and frequent power outages. Sometimes, their only target was to point out security flaws in these websites suggesting that the government should invest some more in protecting its online presence.


Urgent Call From Egypt

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I just received the following appeal via email which I’m publishing as is.

A Call to the People and Governments of the Free World

We call upon all of you to support the Egyptian people’s demands for a
good life, liberty and an end of despotism. We call upon you to urge
this dictatorial regime to stop its bloodshed of the Egyptian people,
exercised throughout the Egyptian cities, on top of which comes the
city of Suez. We believe that the material and moral support offered
to the Egyptian regime, by the American government and European
governments, has helped to suppress the Egyptian people.

We hereby call upon the people of the free world to support the
Egyptian people’s non-violent revolution against corruption and
tyranny. We also call upon civil society organisations in America,
Europe and the whole world to express their solidarity with Egypt,
through holding public demonstrations, particularly on People’s Anger
Day (28/01/2011), and by denouncing the use of violence against the
people.

We hope that you will all support our demands for freedom, justice and
peaceful change.

Egyptian National Coalition


نصائح وقائية هامة للمتظاهرين في مصر وتونس

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كنت أتابع المظاهرات في تونس ومصر بكل إعجاب وفخر، وأنا مع المتظاهرين (قلباً وإن لم أكن معهم جسداً) حتى التغلب على آخر مستبد في بلادنا. أثناء تصفحي للإنترنت وجدت نصائح هامة وقيمة موجهة للمتظاهرين، وقمت بترجمتها بسرعة. أرجو المساعدة في إيصالها للمتظاهرين في تونس ومصر للحفاظ على سلامتهم، ومساعدتهم على مواجهة القمع من قبل الشرطة وقوات حفظ النظام ومكافحة الشغب:

  • النظارات الوقائية (ولكن ليس جميعها): يجب أن تكون عازلة للهواء (أو يمكن إغلاق الفتحات بالشريط اللاصق) مفيدة ضدة جداً الغازات المسيلة للدموع ورذاذ الفلفل. يتوجب استخدام نوع لايتكاثف عليه .البخار من أجل الحفاظ على القدرة على الرؤية في جميع الأوقات
  • تعرّق الجسم: عرق الجسم يستوعب الغازات المسيلة للدموع وغيرها، ولذلك حاول تجنب التعرق ما استطعت وحاول الاستحمام في كل فرصة للتخلص من التعرق.
  • مطافئ الحريق: على الرغم من أنها ثقيلة، ولكن يمكن استخدامها بفعالية شديدة لحجب رؤية قوات حفظ النظام المرتدية للأقنعة والحاملة للدروع الشفافة.
  • المطارق: دون وجود الكثير من الحجارة على الطرقات، البديل الأفضل هو صنعها، والمطارق وسيلة ممتازة لذلك. (المدونة لا تشجع استخدام العنف إطلاقاً، ولكن بعض الحالات قد تستوجب الدفاع عن النفس بأي ثمن)
  • الماء: احمل ما استطعت من الماء بشكل دائم وذلك لمحاربة التجفاف وللحفاظ على طاقتك وقدرتك على المشاركة لأطول وقت ممكن.
  • بالونات مملوءة بالدهانات الزيتية: ولها عدة فوائد وهي أنها ستسبب مشاكل في الرؤية لقوات مكافحة الشغب التي تستخدم الأقنعة والدروع الشفافة، كما أنها ستعلم على أفراد الشرطة مما يسهل تتبع تحركاتهم وخططهم.
  • سدادات للأذنين: ويمكن الحصول عليها أو صنعها بشكل مرتجل بسهولة. في حال استخدمت القنابل الصوتية أو غيرها من الأسلحة الصوتية المضادة للتظاهر، إن لم تكن تملك سدادات للأذنين فليس أمامك فرصة أبداً.
  • رذاذ الطلاء Spray paint: كما ذكرت أعلاه، فهي أيضاً مفيدة حيث ستسبب مشاكل في الرؤية لقوات مكافحة الشغب التي تستخدم الأقنعة والدروع الشفافة.
  • صفائح حماية للساقين (مثل تلك المستخدمة في كرة القدم): إن كنت تواجه قوات مكافحة الشغب وكانوا يحملون الدروع فبقدورهم توجيه ركلات مؤلمة جداً إلى ساقيك من تحت دروعهم. يمكنك صنع صفائح حماية للساقين مرتجل بربط قطع من البلاستيك حول ساقيك.
  • الإسعافات الأولية: معرفتك لمبادئ الاسعافات الأولية قد تمكنك من إنقاذ حياة. تعلم اسعاف الجروح والنزيف، والحروق، وإصابات الجهاز التنفسي، والدوراني، وإصابات الجهاز المحرك (العظام والمفاصل والعضلات) وإسعاف المصاب فاقد الوعي، بالإضافة لبعض الطرق المرتجلة لحمل ونقل المصابين (انظر القسم الأخير من رابط الحمل والنقل) في حال تعذر وصول سيارات الإسعاف إليهم.

تذكر أن شرطة مكافحة الشغب يتفوقون عليك بشيئين فقط: التدريب والمعدات، ويمكنك مواجهة ذلك بصنع معدات مرتجلة من مواد عادية ومتوفرة. يمكنك مراجعة هذه المقالة لرؤية أمثلة عن العديد من تكتيكات الدروع المرتجلة.

عليكم بهم! ثورة حتى سقوط الطاغية.


Internet at Liberty Conference 2010, Budapest

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I will be covering live the Internet at Liberty Conference in Budapest organized by Google and the Central European University.


Freedom for Ali Abdulemam

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Ali Abdulemam is the founder of the very popular forum BahrainOnline.org, and a Global Voices Advocacy author. He was arrested on September 4th after receiving an order to appear at a National Security facility. Bahrain News Agency (BNA) claimed[ar] he was arrested while attempting to flee the country.

Ali was arrested once before in 2005 for reasons related with his online activity. His arrest now is a part of a government crackdown on internet websites and forums in Bahrain. A day before Ali’s arrest the Bahrain Center for Human Rights published an urgent call for action[ar] reporting arrests of human rights activists, politicians, and religious figures. The plea included reports of severe torture and prisoner abuse. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) have also reported on a massive campaign to block dozens of websites and persecute activists and political figures.

You can contact Bahraini officials to demand freedom for Ali and other activists by using the following contact info provided by Bahrain Centre for Human Rights:

Sheik Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheik Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa
Prime Minister
Fax: +973 1753 2839

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa
Foreign Minister
Phone: +973 172 27 555
Fax: +973 172 12 603

Sheik Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Phone: +973 175 31 333
Fax: +973 175 31 284

You can also directly contact the Foreign Minister on twitter @khalidalkhalifa


World Day Against Cyber Censorship

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Today, March 12, is the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Thus, it’s a perfect timing to finally pen down some of the ideas on the topic that I’ve intended to write for so long. Threatened Voices is a Global Voices Advocacy “collaborative mapping project to build a database of bloggers who have been threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to the campaigns to free them.”

As you can see from the map, Arabic speaking countries are a ‘hot area’ where many voices are threatened. I looked closely at the data to see what I can get out of it. My approach was to select a sample of the worst offenders and do a little comparison. I chose the following regimes for this mini-research project I did: Assad of Syria, Mubarak of Egypt, Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mohammed VI of Morocco, Saud of Saudi Arabia, Al Nahyan of UAE, and Sabah of Kuwait. Now wouldn’t it be interesting to see comparison between a regime’s years in power opposed to how many voices were threatened in those years? I thought so too and here’s what I found:

Voices Threatened vs. Years in Power*

Voices Threatened Vs Years in Power Read the rest of this entry »


Call 911! There’s an Arab on the Train!

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A couple of years ago, an American friend of mine asked me: “Would you want to live in the U.S. ?” I replied in the negative: “Why would I want to live in country where I’m treated as terrorist until proven otherwise?” She said that my expectations were inaccurate; that I would blend in, and go unnoticed in an international city like New York.

Being the skeptic that I am, I had to see for myself before I could make a final judgment.

I arrived in Boston on June 20th, 2009, knowing that I would have to go through “Secondary Screening” at the airport. The waiting room had a weird mix of people:  a Lebanese kid (he looked 16); a Russian young man with missing papers that was trying to weasel his way in; a bunch of disgruntled Spaniards, including a plane crew, that were irked by the fact that they would have to go through the humiliation of secondary screening. My experience was not so bad, I waited for a little over three hours before my turn came up and I was asked a couple of trivial questions about my parents before being allowed out. That was anticlimactic. It was an inconvenience, but it was still easier for a Syrian national to be granted entry to the U.S. than to some Arab countries.

Up until last week, my stay in the U.S. had been one smooth ride. I had been pleasantly surprised to have no incidents, no one with nasty prejudices. I had been treated as any other human being. Then came a trip to Washington D.C. where I opted to take the train because flying for a Syrian in the U.S. does not go without hassle. To my surprise the train  had no WiFi so I unfortunately chose to watch an episode of Al Jazeera documentary in Arabic called The Story of a Revolution ( حكاية ثورة Hikayat Thawra) on the Palestinian struggle against Israeli oppression and occupation, and yes, the oppression of the various  Arab regimes that were trying to use Palestinian suffering for domestic political gains.

حكاية ثورة - Copyright Al Jazeera

Halfway through the episode I noticed a hawk-eyed middle aged man ogling my screen with a death stare. I did not pay much attention to him and I went back to my documentary. Minutes later I hear him  on the phone talking about me to what I assumed to be 911. He was on a rant about a terrorist watching a video in Arabic, at one point he said something about Jihad as well. He was soon yelling profanity making sure I could hear it though he wasn’t saying it directly to my face, things like: “What the fuck is this shit,” “I’m not putting up with this shit.” He soon proceeded to leave the cart, I assumed he was also going to report me to the train’s staff as well. I took advantage of his absence and called 911 myself and told them that there was a guy acting in a threatening manner because he saw me watching a documentary in Arabic on my laptop. They advised me not to confront him and just move to another cart for my own safety. Read the rest of this entry »


A Few Thoughts to Inaugurate my New Blog

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The Shorty Awards are unique awards for the Twitter community in several categories ranging between humor, entertainment, art, tech, politics, and many others. This year the politics category is on fire with Ali Abunimah becoming a finalist in the competition by popular vote. He basically swept the rug from under the feet of a racist Zionist spreading misinformation like a perfect propagandist tool while claiming to lead a “Jewish Internet Defense Force.” The problem is that David is blatantly racist, although he’s doing a poor job denying it; Most Jewish organizations/people are ignoring him or even outright shunning him. If you happen to have a twitter account and want to help Abunimah maintain his lead in the final round of votes you can go to the his shorty awards page and vote for him from there. Make sure you mention the reason you’re voting for him (e.g. because he supports equality and human rights.)

_______

I have been in the US for over seven months now. Sometimes a friend asks: “Do you miss Syria?” I always think about that and reply by saying that more than anything I miss the people (and sometimes the food). What makes a homeland is the people inhabiting it before the land itself. In a recent conversation with a Syrian friend whom I’ve never met, he was saying that he didn’t want to leave the country because he didn’t want to have to adapt to a new world and new people.  Distance is becoming more and more irrelevant everyday. People of different cultures are becoming less alienated with every click of a mouse in each forsaken corner of the world. The only real challenge that traveling entails is leaving behind those whom you care about the most; Language is acquirable. Cultural customs are a breeze to get used to. A job or an education are attainable. But how easy is it to brew an indifference towards those closest to you?

_______

To motivate myself into writing more than one post a month over here; I will start a series of posts about the different projects, websites, and organizations that I have been involved with to various degrees recently.

_______

I really wanted to include something about Syria in this post, so I looked at Syria-news for inspiration. I can’t say that the news have changed much: Corruption. Embezzlement. A vicious circle of useless talks with Western officials. Another honor killing. Another major traffic accident with dozens injured or dead. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Diala el-Hajj Arif, is still an imbecile; I hate her with the heat of a thousand suns.

Things haven’t changed much.

_______

سَأعيشُ رَغْـمَ الـدَّاءِ والأَعـداءِ * كالنَّسْـر فـوقَ القِمَّـةِ الشَّمَّـاءِ
أرْنُو إلى الشَّمْسِ المُضِيئةِ هازِئاً * بالسُّحْبِ والأَمطـارِ والأَنواءِ
لا أرْمقُ الظِّلَّ الكئيـبَ ولا أرَى * مَا فـي قَـرارِ الهُـوَّةِ السَّــوداءِ

نشيد الجبار (هكذا غنّى بروميثيوس)،   أبو القاسم الشابّي


Bringing Nothing to the Party by Paul Carr

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Today Paul Carr, my favorite author on Tech Crunch, announced that he will make the pdf version of his latest book “Bringing Nothing to Party” available for free through a Creative Commons licence allowing noncommercial redistribution while crediting his website http://www.paulcarr.com .

I haven’t read the book yet so I will withhold giving an opinion for now. If you feel adventurous enough to start reading a 275 page book you can download it right here.


Blog Action Day 2009 – Climate Change

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Care to act?

Today is Blog Action Day, this year’s theme is Climate Change which many of you know is happening rapidly. Sea levels are rising at an increasing pace, and we’re losing glaciers and polar ice caps. Global action on the subject is a long way from being satisfactory or effective. The US demands China to lower their CO2 emissions because China is the worst offender when it comes to emissions. On the other hand, China demands that the US lower emissions since the US has the largest carbon print per capita. The blame game goes on and in the end  – which is coming a lot sooner than we projected – all of us are losing. Read the rest of this entry »