Thursday, March 26, 2009

Police raid domain owner Theodor Reppe's home over 'censorship lists'

Handcuffs / FilePOLICE have raided a Wikileaks associate's homes in Dresden and Jena after the website published a list of banned websites.

Theodor Reppe owns the German domain registration for "", one of the many URLs used by the whistleblowing website.

This morning, Wikileaks published a Twitter update:

"Police raid home of domain owner over censorship lists - stay tuned."

Wikileaks, which offers an anonymous service, has previously published alleged web censorship lists from Thailand, Denmark, and Australia.

A statement on Wikileaks's website claims police were investigating the "distribution of pornographic material" and "discovery of evidence".

Wikileaks claims Mr Reppe is not involved in the website other than "sponsoring the German domain name and mirroring a collection of Wikileaks US Congressional Research Service reports".

Mr Reppe also reportedly maintains one of the most popular anonymous proxy servers in Germany.

Wikileaks told it's not clear whether the raid was initiated after complaints from Australia.

"The raid is over the censorship lists, but which particular list, we can not be certain, although the Australian lists are the most recent and the most prominent due to their non-voluntary status."

In the past week, Wikileaks published three lists all purporting to be the Australian Communications and Media Authority's (ACMA's) blacklist of websites.

While ACMA and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week denied the list belonged to ACMA, they both warned that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would investigate its distribution.

The lists contained apparent links to child pornography websites, gambling sites, as well as relatively innocuous sites including those of a dentist and canteen manager.,28348,25240192-5014239,00.html

Beware Conficker worm come April 1

In an event that hits the computer world only once every few years, security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of a bit of malware which is set to wreak havoc on a hard-coded date. As is often the case, that date is April 1.

Malware creators love to target April Fool's Day with their wares, and the latest worm, called Conficker C, could be one of the most damaging attacks we've seen in years.

Conficker first bubbled up in late 2008 and began making headlines in January as known infections topped 9 million computers. Now in its third variant, Conficker C, the worm has grown incredibly complicated, powerful, and virulent... though no one is quite sure exactly what it will do when D-Day arrives.

Thanks in part to a quarter-million-dollar bounty on the head of the writer of the worm, offered by Microsoft, security researchers are aggressively digging into the worm's code as they attempt to engineer a cure or find the writer before the deadline. What's known so far is that on April 1, all infected computers will come under the control of a master machine located somewhere across the web, at which point anything's possible. Will the zombie machines become denial of service attack pawns, steal personal information, wipe hard drives, or simply manifest more traditional malware pop-ups and extortion-like come-ons designed to sell you phony security software? No one knows.

Conficker is clever in the way it hides its tracks because it uses an enormous number of URLs to communicate with HQ. The first version of Conficker used just 250 addresses each day -- which security researchers and ICANN simply bought and/or disabled -- but Conficker C will up the ante to 50,000 addresses a day when it goes active, a number which simply can't be tracked and disabled by hand.

At this point, you should be extra vigilant about protecting your PC: Patch Windows completely through Windows Update and update your anti-malware software as well. Make sure your antivirus software is actually running too, as Conficker may have disabled it.

Microsoft also offers a free online safety scan here, which should be able to detect all Conficker versions.

Living on Eggshells: Lessons From The Depression

We're all picking up our own versions of the eggshell ritual these days. Maybe you circle past the valet until you find a spot on the street, maybe you just don't go out to eat much anymore, or maybe you go to a matinee instead of Macy's on Sunday afternoons. Even if you're doing fine, you've probably started making your coffee at home, and you've finally found the courage to say, "tap" when the waiter asks, "sparkling or flat?"

True, we will always be the creators of the Hail Mary pass, and this is still the Republic of Risk and Reward. But when did we begin to cripple ourselves with the idea that "rich" is a stage of life as inevitable as adolescence or old age, and with the attitude that no amount of debt or deception can keep us from getting our due? When were we consumed by our own consumption? We've always heard that rich and happy aren't the same thing, but its been a while since we've been forced to prove it.

Homesteaders in the Hood

Squatters are multiplying in the recession—what should cities do?

Abandoned Office.To survive, everyone needs to have a place to be and to sleep, eat, and, let's face it, go to the bathroom. For most of us, that place is the home. As rising unemployment pushes more people out of their houses and apartments, however, and growing numbers of Americans cannot find a place to perform these essential functions legally, they will have little choice but to break the law. And so some of them are turning to a strategy that has cropped up repeatedly in American history—squatting. Governments are sometimes tempted to respond to a spike in this form of outlaw residency by simply forcing squatters out. The better strategy, however is to treat squatting as a symptom of a simultaneous failure of both the market and the government. Viewed in this light, an outbreak of squatting is a sign that governments should change their housing policies to make it easier for poor people to find the housing they need—as law-abiders instead of renegades.

Squatting, or unlawfully occupying and making use of land that belongs to someone else, tends to emerge when poverty and homelessness intersect with absentee ownership. It was widespread on the frontier of the 19th-century West, where settlers who couldn't afford to purchase land at market prices often simply occupied land owned by Eastern speculators (as well as land owned by the federal government and by Native American tribes).

From the point of view of local officials, this was a win-win, of a sort. Far-away owners were more interested in free-riding on rising property values, and flipping their land, than in developing it productively. So they resisted paying property taxes or investing in infrastructure. As a result, governments in the West were happy to lend squatters a hand in their efforts to get property out of the speculators' hands. Local governments frequently made it easier for squatters to obtain title through the legal doctrine of adverse possession (sometimes colloquially called "squatters rights")—for example, by shortening the time period required for squatting to mature into ownership. Ultimately, even the federal government joined in. After years of using the Army to chase squatters off its lands, Congress decided to create a legal avenue for settlers without money to become landowners: the 1862 Homestead Act.

A century later, in the 1970s, squatting went urban. In city after city, the market for urban housing collapsed amid a toxic (and self-reinforcing) brew of riots, redlining, and the flight of the white middle class to the suburbs. City governments acquired thousands of vacant units from owners who had fallen behind on their property taxes. Rather than turning these properties over to remaining low-income residents searching for affordable housing, many cities sought to auction them off to speculators, who in turn frequently fell behind on their own tax payments. In the meantime, the vacant buildings became magnets for crime and illegal dumping. In response, groups of squatters—backed by community organizations like ACORN—began to take over city-owned, vacant housing. Many city governments cracked down on the squatters, but others took a more measured approach, coming up with programs whereby urban "homesteaders" could acquire vacant housing through "sweat equity."

March On The Pentagon

By Thomas Good

A protester outside the Lincoln Memorial
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

WASHINGTON — It was at the Pentagon that three thousand plus anti-war demonstrators met up with their pro-war counterparts — all thirty of them. 

Lynne Stewart spoke at the rally before the march
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

On Saturday, March 21, thousands of anti-war protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear speeches and greet one another — before marching against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Members of Iraq Veterans Against The War on the
Arlington Memorial Bridge
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

By midday, on the second day of Spring, the protesters were marching across the Arlington Memorial Bridge -- en route to the Pentagon.

A small number of counter-demonstrators showed up
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

As the long column of protesters turned to enter the Pentagon parking area they passed a group of about thirty middleaged counter-demonstrators holding signs that said "love it or leave it" and "you never marched against terrorists". Some of the protesters stopped to take pictures of the counter-demonstrators and then continued on to Crystal City where they chanted outside the offices of several war profiteers while police looked on.

Police in riot gear lined the streets of Crystal City, Va.
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Heard along the march route: protesters chanting "Hey Obama, yes we can - troops out of Afghanistan…"

View Photos/Videos From The Action…


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The Big Sleep: Raymond Chandler, 50 Years Dead


Writer who gave L.A. a lasting identity took the language of the street and made it sing

By Judith Freeman

Raymond Chandler died 50 years ago this week. On March 26, 1959, at 3:50 in the afternoon, he took his last breath in the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, having drunk himself to death, though the official cause of his demise was listed as pneumonia. He was 71 years old, an unhappy and lonely man who'd finally run out on his luck.

He died alone, with no friends at his side, which was pretty much the way he'd lived his life. His beloved wife, Cissy, had passed away five years earlier and ever since, he'd been trying to do himself in, first by taking a loaded gun into the shower and firing off a couple of rounds — what he later called the most inept suicide attempt in history — then later simply turning to gin and Scotch as his weapons of choice. Seventeen people showed up for his funeral, presided over by a pastor he'd only met once and didn't much care for.

He's buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego, in an undistinguished grave — just a simple, flat headstone set flush with the ground and surrounded by nearly identical markers arranged in long, boring rows. Nobody thought to plant him next to his wife, whose ashes were stored in a crypt not far away. By then nobody really cared what Chandler might have wanted. If you want to pay a visit to his grave, you have to hunt for it. And there it is: Raymond Thornton Chandler, Author, 1888-1959, In Loving Memory. The "author" part nails it in that sublimely minimal way. Still, it's a pretty lousy little headstone for such a great writer.

We remember Chandler for a lot of things. As the guy who put L.A. on the literary map, along with John Fante and Nathanael West, who published their first novels the same year The Big Sleep came out, in 1939 — a boffo year for L.A. letters. We remember him as the writer who gave the city a lasting identity. As the person who elevated the lowly mystery to the realm of literature. As a damn funny writer who mastered the art of repartee and the bon mot. The guy who took the language of the street, American slang, and made it sing. The King of the Simile. The Bard of Bad Blondes. And perhaps most of all, we remember him as one of the great American literary stylists, capable of tossing off lines like these:

"Cops are like a doctor that gives you aspirin for a brain tumor, except that the cop would rather cure it with a blackjack."

"A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock."

"The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips."

"His smile was as stiff as a frozen fish."

"He was a guy who talked with commas, like a heavy novel."

And, a personal favorite: "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window."

He said he was the first to write about Los Angeles in a realistic way. To write about a place, he said, you have to love it, or hate it, or both, alternately, the way you do a woman. Vacuity and boredom were futile. L.A. never bored him. He found it banal, maybe, but never vacuous. He both loved it (when he first arrived in 1912) and hated it (by the time he left in 1946), until finally, he said, it became a tired old whore to him. Never mind that he, more than any other writer, helped to turn Our Lady of the Queen of Angels into a woman of the night. He got this city better than anybody else, its rhythms and rudeness, its gas stations filled with wasted light, the houses in canyons hanging in the blackness, the smell of the air, the feel of the winds, the very pulse of the place, which is why his novels never seem dated: He captured the essence of the city, not just its temporal surface.

Oxford Literary Festival: George Orwell's son speaks for the first time about his father

John Carey talks to George Orwell's son, Richard Blair

Richard Blair with his father George Orwell photographed in 1946 by Vernon Richards.(CopyWhat would it have been like to be brought up by George Orwell? Pretty grim, you might think. But you would be wrong. In June 1944, Orwell and his wife Eileen adopted a three-week-old boy whom they named Richard Horatio Blair (Eric Blair being Orwell's real name). Now a retired engineer living happily in an immaculate house in a picture-book Warwickshire village, Blair has never publicised the fact that he was related to Orwell, always preferring to remain in the background. But ahead of a talk at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival with Orwell's biographer DJ Taylor (details, below right), Richard agreed to speak to me about his memories of his childhood.

Richard was only six when Orwell died in January 1950, but he remembers him with great warmth. He had, he says, "a heart of deep paternal affection". As you might expect, Richard's recollection of their time together is patchy, and he cannot recall Eileen at all. What do remain vivid for him, however, are the years he spent with his father on the island of Jura off the west coast of Argyll.

Orwell had been drawn to Jura after the premature death of his wife in London in 1945. Eileen to my mind is the heroine of the Orwell story. She had not been keen on the idea of adoption, but agreed to it because she knew that Orwell, who believed he was sterile, was desperate for a son. Knowing she was ill with a tumour, she put off consulting a specialist, for her husband's and Richard's sake, until the adoption was finally legalised. As her letters show, she quickly came to love little Richard, but the delay in seeing a doctor cannot have helped her and she died on the operating table under anaesthetic.

Living, after Eileen's death, in a cramped, dark flat in Canonbury Square in north London, Orwell was determined that his son should grow up in the country, where he could fish and hunt and get back to nature. He had discussed the idea of moving away from London with Eileen before she died, and in 1946, at the invitation of his friend David Astor, the editor of the Observer, he spent a few weeks on the island. Captivated by the sea and air and emptiness, he decided to move up there permanently.

Barnhill, the farmhouse at the north end of the island that he rented for himself, Richard and Richard's nanny Susan (soon replaced by Orwell's bossy sister Avril), had no electricity or telephone and the mail came only twice a week. The nearest village, Ardlussa, was eight miles away along a rough track, and it was 25 miles to the nearest shop. To most settlers these might seem inconveniences, but they were positive attractions to Orwell, even though he was beginning to suffer badly from the TB that would eventually kill him.

He had always been critical of the "softness" of civilisation, and as the illness took hold the need to pit himself against physical challenges grew. Besides, Barnhill's remoteness would ensure that he was not pestered by visitors, and could settle down to a serious spell of writing. It was at Barnhill that he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Best kept secret in the Navy

In this hotshot piece of recruitment propaganda, you get an inside look at the US Navy's elite river warriors. NSFVATB (not safe for viewing around teenage boys)

Homeless 101

Seattle Pacific students spend 5 days on streets to feel pain of homeless

Eighteen Seattle Pacific University students spent their spring break living as if they were homeless, as part of the private, Christian college's experiential "urban plunge" program.

Google the words "spring break" and up pop images of bikinis, beaches, more bikinis, and margaritas.

That couldn't be further from the experience this week of 18 Seattle Pacific University students. They chose to spend their spring break on the streets of Seattle living as if they were homeless, as part of the school's experiential "urban plunge" program.

For these students, spring break was all about long johns and layers, Dumpster diving and wandering.

Sophomore Sarah Long said she spoke to dozens of homeless people over the five days and was struck that every single one had plans to find housing and jobs.

SPU student Mike Zetterberg rolls in dirt to make his clothes more soiled before he sits on the sidewalk with other students to ask for money.

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "They are not willing to resign themselves to staying on the streets, but they are also not taking the actions they need to get off the streets. ... It's hard to know how to solve it, it's just so complex."

Urban plunge has been running more than 20 years and is one of several ways in which faculty and students at the small, private Christian college attempt to confront issues like materialism and public service.

Other students have formed a club in which they try to live in an ascetic manner — wearing no shoes on certain days, even during December's snowstorms. One student gave up his apartment to live in a van.

Jewish groups denounce Oliphant Gaza cartoon

Two Jewish groups have denounced a Pat Oliphant political cartoon on Gaza as anti-Semitic, likening its fanged Star of David to Nazi imagery before the Holocaust.

The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling the Jewish symbol as it menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.

"The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras," the center said in a statement. "It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide."

The center called on media outlets to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement calling the cartoon "hideously anti-Semitic."

"It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition," the statement said. "The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart."

Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant's cartoons, did not return messages left after hours.

The Gaza cartoon alludes to Israel's invasion of the Palestinian territory in December to halt rocket fire from the area and weaken it militant Hamas rulers. More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to a Palestinian human rights group.

Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world.

Good thing they didn't see this one

TAKE ACTION to demand Anti-Immigrant AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio be REMOVED IMMEDIATELY!


May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights

Take Action to demand racist, anti-immigrant
Maricopa County AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio be REMOVED IMMEDIATELY!

Fill in the Online Petition at to send a message to the Homeland Security Department, President Obama, Arizona Governor Brewer, Congressional leaders, the Arizona Congressional Delegation, the Arizona Legislature and members of the media telling them you want ARPAIO REMOVED IMMEDIATELY and the Homeland Security 287(g) contract with his office cancelled at once!

And on May 1 join thousands and thousands to demonstrate for worker and immigrant rights in cities throughout the country! For more information, go to

Text of the online petition message follows:

To: Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Homeland Security; Esther Olavarria, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy; ICE Director Torres; Arizona Governor Brewer
cc: President Obama, Attorney General Holder, U.N. Secretary-General Ban, Arizona Congressional Delegation, Congressional leaders, Arizona legislature and members of the media

Dear Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Homeland Security and Esther Olavarria, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Homeland Security, ICE Director Torres, Arizona Governor Brewer, Arizona legislators and Congressional leaders:

Remove Anti-Immigrant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office NOW!

Cancel the Homeland Security Department's 287(g) contract with Seriff Arpaio's office IMMEDIATELY!

The entire country is appalled and outraged at the racist, anti-immigrant actions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona.

Arpaio's racist history and abuse are well documented.

  • At his "Tent City" jail, temperatures can reach a deadly 150 degrees in the summer.
  • His practice of feeding prisoners just twice a day with spoiled food, his reinstatement of the chain gang and his cruel treatment of inmates--including those awaiting trial who have not been convicted of any crime--have already cost Maricopa County more than $46 million in lawsuit settlements.
  • His latest stunt of parading the victims of his racial profiling shackled and dressed in striped prison clothes, through the streets of Phoenix from the County Courthouse to his Tent City jail -- a public humiliation -- is reminiscent of slaves being paraded to the auction block, and is the latest and last outrage that the people of Arizona should have to endure.
The actions of Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix, Arizona extend the militarization of the border to the entirety of Maricopa County. The actions of Sheriff Arpaio and his posse have declared open season on all people of color, including documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as people born in the U.S.

The 287(g) Agreement now in place between the Sheriff of Maricopa County and the federal government has been implemented in violation of the constitutional right of Equal Protection and with blatant discriminatory enforcement tactics by Sheriff Arpaio.

I call upon the people of Maricopa County, the local and federal government, and all politicians to stop these perpetrators of hate and fear.

I call for the removal of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and for the end to the systematic practice of racial profiling and other discriminatory policies that have fostered a racist and hostile environment against immigrant and indigenous people.

(your signature appended here).

Fill in the Online Petition at


UNITY: Apr 3 & 4


Statement from United for Peace and Justice and the Bail Out the People Movement:

Join us for actions on Wall Street in New York City on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against war at his historic "Beyond Vietnam" speech at Riverside Church in NYC. A year later to the date, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis where he had traveled to lend support to the struggle of striking sanitation workers.

This year, on April 3 and April 4, we honor the legacy of Dr. King with our urgent call for a new direction by marching on the financial capital of the country, Wall Street. What brings us to Wall St. is clear:

  • The human costs of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mount every day, and each month upwards of $12 Billion are drained from our national treasury. Now is the time to end these wars, now is the time to bring all the troops home! The long term solution to our nation's economic crisis must include major cuts in military spending and putting our money to work in the rebuilding of our communities.
  • Instead of pouring our money into bailing out wealthy bankers we need government investments in spending that creates new jobs, provides health care and quality education for all, ends the foreclosure epidemic and supports sustainable, clean energy.

Dr. King understood that the struggle for economic and social justice at home is tied to our work for peace abroad. On April 3 and April 4 we are taking the next step on this journey. By bringing people into the streets of the financial center on these two days we will send a strong, clear message: Now is the time to raise our voices in a unified call for the changes we know must be made, the changes millions of people are demanding.

The activities on Friday, April 3 are being led by the Bail Out the People Movement: and the April 4 activities are being led by United for Peace and Justice: On Friday, April 3 United for Peace and Justice will join Bail Out the People's program on Wall Street. On Saturday, April 4 Bail Out the People Movement will gather on Wall Street and join United for Peace and Justice's March to Battery Park. We encourage you to participate in both days of action, but if that's not possible we hope you will be out with us on at least one of these days.