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Revolution Blog

From time to time, the operators of this site may wish to comment on current events, or make announcements about happenings in the revolution to end slavery (again). This is our place to do this.
Published on 2012-10-06
Recently, the efforts of a US-based hedge fund to collect on bonds owed by Argentina made the news when a ship belonging to the Argentine navy was impounded in Ghana:

Hedge fund seizes ship(external link)

Seized Ship Remains in Ghana(external link)

The ARA Libertad(external link)

What can one say but LOL.

Highly amusing how being asked to pay your debts is described by the Argentine socialists as "extortion" and "violation of diplomatic immunity." Sovereign immunity means you're immune from having to pay your bills! Perhaps the funniest bit is that virtually every other state in the world has much the same story as Argentina, just a few chapters behind.

Of course if the "vulture funds" really want to collect from all those states, they'd sure better get to work building up their military forces. One 60yo sailing vessel won't get them very far. ;-)

Published on 2012-08-24
Results Are In

Earlier in this blog (see January), we discussed the prospects for the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign. While we didn't expect it to be successful, we did think it likely to teach some important lessons to people still expecting to resist tyranny from within the political system. Well, here we are a few days before the Republican party convention in Tampa, so it seems like a good time to check in and see how things appear to be going:

The Iron Fist in Tampa(external link)

RNC Pulling Out All Stops To Keep Ron Paul's Name Out Of Nomination(external link)

Clearly, rules don't matter, and neither does your vote. Only forms without substance remain. The heart of America is stilled but the corpse trudges on. The Soviet Union or Maoist China couldn't have done it any better.

An anarchist is someone who does not accept the right of the state to exist, or the legitimacy of its authority — over anyone. As an outcome of the 2012 election cycle, one would be foolish not to expect many thousands, perhaps millions, of new anarchists to be minted. The lessons are clear, and our principal expectation is materializing: the state can indeed turn back the liberty movement, but only at the cost of squandering much of its slender remaining stock of legitimacy.

Published on 2012-07-05
Worried that "leakers" might make it impossible for them to conceal the truth, US feds are now planning to spread deliberate lies, so that they can then track the spread of those lies in order to catch the leakers. Which implies that from now on, the only time they'll want the public to hear what they're saying is when they're lying. So, if you haven't just assumed that the feds are pretty much always lying, then you'd better start. (LOL) at this:

Wired - Fog Computing(external link)

Excerpts:

"Darpa... researchers say they’ve built “a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation … and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this ‘disinformation technology.’”"

"In June, for example, the National Security Agency refused to disclose how many Americans it had wiretapped without a warrant. The reason? It would violate Americans’ privacy to say so."

These people don't need fog computing, they already live in a fog of counterfeit reality. Ayn Rand would be smugly delighted.

Published on 2012-05-30
Intentional design weaknesses found in milspec silicon chips

Everyone knows that application software and operating systems can have security issues, particularly if the name of the manufacturer is something like Microsoft. But one of the things we all tend to take for granted is that our hardware, the actual silicon IC chips that run our computers and phones and tablets, are naturally free of such vulnerabilities. This turns out to be an unwarranted and optimistic view.

This article(external link) describes a serious security backdoor in an embedded systems chip, the Actel ProASIC3, which is heavily marketed for use in military devices, and other mission-critical civilian applications such as power generation, aerospace, aviation, aerospace, public transport and automotive products. It turns out that this backdoor, which effectively bypasses any software-level encryption, was deliberately inserted by the manufacturer as an integral component of the chip design. An interesting and ground-breaking "PEA" technique was used to perform this investigation in only two weeks, as opposed to thousands of years that would be required for previous approaches (see this technical white paper(external link) for details.)

In a similar context ZTE, a major smartphone manufacturer, has recently been outed as having similar difficulties(external link). The point here is that via a "setuid root binary" backdoor, anyone who knew the secret password could access the user's phone and extract data from it, or even alter its programming.

This reminds us of how on old DEC VAXen, there was always a VMS superuser account, username FIELD password SERVICES, which was intended to let DEC service personnel access the system when on-site, without needing to obtain the local SYSTEM password from the customer. Very few installations actually disabled the FIELD account, or changed its password. Therefore anyone in-the-know could use this, at almost any VAX installation.

A similar strategy, albeit with a more nefarious purpose, was used years ago by a Swiss firm which sold diplomatic encryption systems to embassies around the world. Turned out the Swiss firm was a CIA front, and there was a backdoor into the system so that CIA agents who knew the passwords could quietly monitor the diplomatic exchanges of other governments with their embassies. (And then they complain about Wikileaks, lol.)

Consider also the story which broke late last year about a hidden "service" running on certain Android phones, which logged all keystrokes and uploaded them to the vendor periodically:

Busted! Secret app logs phone keystrokes(external link)

This is technically malware running in the phone's operating system rather than its firmware or chip BIOS, but the implications are similar.

We also know that modern Microsoft Windoze installations are designed to interface with USB keys, openly sold to law enforcement agencies, which capture all personal user data and stored passwords when plugged into any USB port. It would be surprising if the analogous behavior wasn't available on Apple products, including iOS devices, simply because Apple, like Microsoft, is a large US-based corporation with offices whose doors can easily be kicked in by federal goons.

In sum it is unwise to make assumptions about firmware, any more than about O/S or application software. It's good that people are checking out and finding these things. This is even more good reason to value open source products, not only for software and operating systems but also for firmware and even chip hardware.

Published on 2012-05-01
There's a scene in Jonathan Livingston Seagull where the avian protagonist is told to "step into the circle for shame." This is frequently the fate of iconoclast individualists and non-conformists, when their activities have drawn the negative attention of their more conformist peers and the "powers that be" in their society.

Longtime freedom activist and software entrepreneur Phil Zimmermann, the celebrated author of Pretty Good Privacy some two decades past, has recently teamed up with some bright associates to produce a new privacy-enhancing crypto-product called Silent Circle(external link). It promises to supply an all-in-one integrated product for secure email, text, video, and phone (including cell). Details are still sketchy because the beta isn't even due to start until mid-July, but given the past history and credentials of the team it promises to be worth watching. Their slogan is Come Into The Circle — not for shame, but for privacy. The indicated target market is: "security conscious individuals, human rights groups, oppressed dissidents, NGOs, special operations units, small businesses and corporations."

Which could include just about anybody these days. Probably even seagulls flying alone and out of formation. smile

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