Daily Archives: 19/02/2011

( In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of national governments shut off internet access in attempts to quash dissent. PC World has a guide on how to access the web when the powers that be are blocking it, or post-apocalypse, when telecommunation networks are in shambles. Supposedly antiquated devices such as dial-up modems may someday be direly important amid the smoking ruins of post-America:

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you. If you’re trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can’t rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts–essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you’re in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn’t really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven’t tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total communications blackout–as we’re seeing in Egypt, for example–you’ll be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even ham radio, could still work, since these “abandoned” tech avenues aren’t being policed nearly as hard.

In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still operational. It’s slow, but it still works–the hard part is getting the access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don’t try to stream any videos with this, now), but it’s exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.

Response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor and creator of the Makerbot 3D printer, has called for “Apps for the Appocalypse,” including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.

Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart’s Pirate Box is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn’t take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you’re in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won’t have to worry about anyone–even your government–keeping you from doing just that.


( Infoshop News – February 18, 2011

US, Madison — The city of Madison is seeing the largest protests in decades as people speak up against Republican attacks on public sector workers, unions, collective bargaining and Democrats. The Republican campaign is clearly a political attack on Democrats, but also an attack on unions in a very pro-union city and state. Tens of thousands have turned out to protest on the grounds of the State Capitol and inside the building. Protesters have been joined by teachers and government workers who are striking in the form of sick outs.


( SULAIMANIYA – At least one person died and dozens were injured Thursday in Iraqi Kurdistan’s second largest city as angry protestors attacked the local headquarters of one of the two ruling Kurdish parties, while an opposition building was set ablaze in the other major Kurdish city.

The violence broke out in Sulaimaniya following a rally organized by a number of civil society groups to express solidarity with protestors in Egypt and Tunisia and protest the poor state of public services and corruption in the autonomous Kurdish region. Read More

( By allowing emissions to to rise humans may have doubled the likelihood of further floods like those that struck the UK in 2000, say climate scientists in first attempt to prove link between man-made climate change and extreme weather

Humans are increasing the risk of dangerous flooding events by allowing greenhouse gas concentrations to continue to rise in the atmosphere, according to a groundbreaking new study.

Analysing the floods in England and Wales in 2000, climate scientists found a 2-in-3 chance the odds of the flooding happening were at least doubled. Although admitting the floods would have been likely to have occurred anyway, the study is the first to quantify a link between rising greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and extreme weather events.

The floods of the Autumn of 2000 were the wettest on record in the UK with damage to more than 10,000 homes and businesses and an insurance pay-out of £1.3 billion.

Co-study author Dr Peter Stott, of the Met Office, said scientists were now beginning to unravel the links between natural variability and man-made climate change.

‘This research establishes a methodology that can answer the question about how the odds of particular weather events may be altering. It will also allow us to say, shortly after it has occurred, if a specific weather event has been made more likely by climate change, and equally importantly if it has not,’ he said.

The researchers simulated the weather in Autumn 2000, both as it was, and as it might have been had there been no greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the 20th Century. They repeated this process thousands of times using a global volunteer network of personal computers participating in the project estimate the impact of the emissions on extreme weather.

Environmental campaigners highlighted the recent droughts in Russia and China and widespread flooding in Australia and Pakistan as extreme weather that may also be linked to climate change.

‘It is not possible to categorically state that any one specific weather event is a direct result of climate change, but it is clear that the increase in greenhouse gases is loading the dice and increasing the risk of extreme weather events in future,’  said WWF head of climate change Keith Allott.

‘We need to get on with reducing carbon emissions as a matter of urgency – and in the UK the best ways of doing that are an ambitious Green Deal to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, and a strong commitment to provide all our energy from clean renewable sources.’


( This video shows protesters walking towards the Pearl Roundabout (Lulu circle) chanting “Peaceful, Peacefully” when gunshots are heard.

This next video shows another perspective of the event, capturing images of the aftermath: some protesters lie on the ground, blood around them, while their fellows scream in anguish over their still bodies. (WARNING: graphic images)


( End Attacks on Peaceful Protesters! FEBRUARY 18, 2011

Government security forces have killed at least 84 people in three days of protests in several cities in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today, based on telephone interviews with local hospital staff and witnesses.

The Libyan authorities should immediately end attacks on peaceful protesters and protect them from assault by pro-government armed groups, Human Rights Watch said.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the eastern Libyan cities of Benghazi, Baida, Ajdabiya, Zawiya, and Derna on February 18, 2011, following violent attacks against peaceful protests the day before that killed 20 people in Benghazi, 23 in Baida, three in Ajdabiya, and three in Derna. Hospital sources told Human Rights Watch that security forces killed 35 people in Benghazi on February 18, almost all with live ammunition.

“Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces are firing on Libyan citizens and killing scores simply because they’re demanding change and accountability,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Libyan authorities should allow peaceful protesters to have their say.”

Muammar Gaddafi has ruled Libya for 42 years.The protests in Benghazi on February 18 began during funerals for the 20 demonstrators killed by security forces the day before. Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces with distinctive yellow uniforms opened fire on protesters near the Fadil Bu Omar Katiba, a security force base in the center of Benghazi. One protester told Human Rights Watch he witnessed four men shot dead.

By 11 p.m. on February 18, Al Jalaa Hospital in Benghazi had received the bodies of 35 people killed that day, a senior hospital official told Human Rights Watch. He said the deaths had been caused by gunshot wounds to the chest, neck, and head. Two sources at the hospital confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the death toll for February 17 was 20, and that at least 45 people had been wounded by bullets.

The senior hospital official told Human Rights Watch, “We put out a call to all the doctors in Benghazi to come to the hospital and for everyone to contribute blood because I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Witnesses said that after the February 18 shootings, protesters in Benghazi continued on to the courthouse and gathered there throughout the evening, the crowd swelling to thousands.

In Baida, further to the east, protesters on February 18 buried the 23 people who had been shot dead the day before. One protester told Human Rights Watch that police were patrolling the streets but he had seen no further clashes.

In Ajdabiya, to the south of Benghazi, one protester told Human Rights Watch that early on February 18 people had gathered to bury the three protesters shot dead the day before. He said that on February 17, Revolutionary Guard officers fired upon peaceful protesters who were calling for a change in government. He said the protests were ongoing as of 9:30 p.m. on February 18 but that he had seen no further violence.Tripoli, Libya’s political and economic capital, remained quiet compared to the east of the country. Human Rights Watch spoke to the family of a man who had been summoned by Internal Security because of his postings on Facebook. On February 18 Internal Security officers came to the family’s home at around 6 p.m. and took both the man and his uncle away with them to an undisclosed location.“The Libyan government doesn’t allow journalists and human rights monitors to work freely,” said Stork. “But the world is watching what’s happening, and abusive forces and their commanders can be held to account.”

( Memo to President Obama: Given the absence of intelligent intelligence and the inadequacy of your advisers’ advice, it’s not surprising that your handling of the Egyptian uprising has set new standards for foreign policy incoherence and incompetence.  Perhaps a primer on how to judge the power that can be wielded by mass protest will prepare you better for the next round of political upheavals.

Remember the uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989?  That was also a huge, peaceful protest for democracy, but it was crushed with savage violence.  Maybe the memory of that event convinced you and your team that, as Secretary of State Clinton announced when the protests began, the Mubarak regime was “stable” and in “no danger of falling.” Or maybe your confidence rested on the fact that it featured a disciplined modern army trained and supplied by the USA. Read More

( On February 15, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced possible measures to start rationing gasoline [es]. This matter constitutes a very sensitive issue for Venezuelans, since Venezuela is a country with one of the world’s lowest gasoline prices, where according to the government, about 90% of its total cost is subsidized. After the announcement, bloggers and Twitter users reacted in different ways.

Daniel, a Venezuelan blogger, writes an open letter to Rafael Ramirez – president of state-owned oil companyPDVSA – in his blog, Venezuela News and Views [es]. He says that the government’s previous measures led to an energy crisis and insufficient production of gasoline, and asks:

And now you want to impose on us rationing without even apologizing? Or perhaps you are not guilty of rationing in Táchira where your corrupt military does every possible smuggling of gasoline to our neighbouring country? Is that what you want, that the National Guard obtain that business and resell gasoline to us at any price that they will obviously be the ones who control?

Blogger moctavio, at The Devil’s Excrementsaid:

rather than eliminate these subsidies and/or increase the price of gasoline, Chavez solution is very simple: Gasoline rationing. The Government will force us to consume in 2011 100,000 barrels less a day than in 2010. What’s next? Rationing sand? Because after all, we have had water and electricity rationing, food shortages and now gasoline rationing, all once abundant in Venezuela.

Read more…