Julian Assange’s right to asylum

  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is asking Ecuador for asylum, while Sweden seeks to extradite him from England.  Many friends of the Bradley Manning Support Network are asking Ecuador to grant Assange’s request here via RootsAction.

“Assange’s fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational… consider the treatment of Bradley Manning

By Glenn Greenwald, UK Guardian (Op-Ed). June 20, 2012

If one asks current or former WikiLeaks associates what their greatest fear is, almost none cites prosecution by their own country. Most trust their own nation’s justice system to recognize that they have committed no crime. The primary fear is being turned over to the US. That is the crucial context for understanding Julian Assange‘s 16-month fight to avoid extradition to Sweden, a fight that led him to seek asylum, Tuesday, in the London Embassy of Ecuador.

The evidence that the US seeks to prosecute and extradite Assange is substantial. There is no question that the Obama justice department has convened an active grand jury to investigate whether WikiLeaks violated the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. Key senators from President Obama’s party, including Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have publicly called for his prosecution under that statute. A leaked email from the security firm Stratfor – hardly a dispositive source, but still probative – indicated that a sealed indictment has already been obtained against him.Prominent American figures in both parties have demanded Assange’s lifelong imprisonment, called him a terrorist, and even advocated his assassination.

For several reasons, Assange has long feared that the US would be able to coerce Sweden into handing him over far more easily than if he were in Britain. For one, smaller countries such as Sweden are generally more susceptible to American pressure and bullying.

For another, that country has a disturbing history of lawlessly handing over suspects to the US. A 2006 UN ruling found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for helping the CIA render two suspected terrorists to Egypt, where they were brutally tortured (both individuals, asylum-seekers in Sweden, were ultimately found to be innocent of any connection to terrorism and received a monetary settlement from the Swedish government).

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, Swedish law permits extreme levels of secrecy in judicial proceedings and oppressive pre-trial conditions, enabling any Swedish-US transactions concerning Assange to be conducted beyond public scrutiny. Ironically, even the US State Department condemned Sweden’s “restrictive conditions for prisoners held in pretrial custody”, including severe restrictions on their communications with the outside world.

Assange’s fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded. One need only look at the treatment over the last decade of foreign nationals accused of harming American national security to know that’s true; such individuals are still routinely imprisoned for lengthy periods without any charges or due process. Or consider the treatment of Bradley Manning, accused of leaking to WikiLeaks: a formal UN investigation found that his pre-trial conditions of severe solitary confinement were “cruel, inhuman and degrading”, and he now faces capital charges of aiding al-Qaida. The Obama administration’s unprecedented obsession with persecuting whistleblowers and preventing transparency – whateven generally supportive, liberal magazines call ”Obama’s war on whistleblowers” – makes those concerns all the more valid.

Read more at guardian.co.uk



LulzSec exposes alleged child porn traders

Apparently operating under the semi-defunct LulzSec banner, infamous hacker Sabu appears to have taken over a website forum alleged to to be trading in child porn.

Over 7000 account log-in details for the site http://www.densetsu.com/ were posted up on pastebin.

The Densetsu site itself now simply contains a list of file folders now marked as “owned by Sabu”.

Sabu’s Twitter feed has be unchracteristically quite of late, possibly because it seems likely he’s been ‘doxed’ as a PR man for Portugal.

A statement on the pastebin post reads: “virtual CP is wrong so we decided to take over the http://www.densetsu.com/ forum”.


Densetsu.com and describes its self as “A site dedicated to asian games and entertainment. Anime Densetsu is an interactive site, which allows you to discover people around the world with similar interests.”

We tried one of the log-ins at random and could successfully log in to the site. We left pretty sharpish.

If Sabu has indeed been outed, this may be a PR offensive. After all no-one loves a paedo.

Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2011/08/30/lulzsec-exposes-alleged-child-porn-traders/#ixzz22R3xtPub

50 Days of Mayhem: How LulzSec Changed Hacktivism Forever | Damon Poeter | PCMag.com

50 Days of Mayhem: How LulzSec Changed Hacktivism Forever


LulzSec didn’t invent hacktivism, let alone hacking. But the small crew of publicity-hungry digital pirates may have ushered in a new era for both as they merrily sailed the cyber-seas for 50 days of mayhem that became perhaps the biggest tech story of the first half of 2011.

LulzSec now says that it’s put the Lulz Boat in permanent dry dock. Taking the group at its word, what did these six individuals (the membership number LulzSec now cops to) accomplish in their brief but explosive time in the spotlight?

Brand Name Hacktivism
More important than the digital scalps LulzSec took—Sony, PBS, Infragard, the CIA, Arizona’s Department of Public Saftey, to name a few—was the group’s canny use of social media and clever manipulation of a pliant press that may have redefined hacktivism forever.

LulzSec, short for Lulz Security, seems to have coalesced some months ago from the core group of hackers in the Anonymous collective which raided the computer systems of security firm HBGary Federal in February. Many of the handles used by purported Anonymous members in leaked Internet Relay Chat (IRC) logs where the HPGary Federal hit is discussed extensively have been linked to LulzSec’s core group of six members.

At some point, it seems, this group came up with a remarkably effective strategy for branding itself and publicizing its exploits. That campaign involved adopting a name based on the “in it for the lulz” (or laughs) Internet meme that straddles the line between being recognizable to a good chunk of the mainstream audience and still insider-y enough to seem young and hip.

Next, LulzSec used Twitter and its own Web site to great effect in scoring media coverage of its latest adventures in hacktivism. The LulzSec Twitter feed had more than 283,000 followers by the time the group called it quits. Following LulzSec’s first major attacks, including a hack of Fox.com and the publication of thousands of transaction logs from ATMs in the U.K., scores of mainstream and tech journalists began following “The Lulz Boat” religiously on Twitter.

A LulzSec core member called Topiary is believed to have been the group’s mouthpiece and PR specialist. His taunting, witty tweets entertained LulzSec followers in between the gleefully transmitted news that another prominent site had been taken down or defaced, or that documents had been uploaded to public forums with gigabytes full of sensitive data purloined from a network intrustion.

The final ingredient in the group’s success was simple. LulzSec delivered. During its 50-day run, LulzSec alerted the public to a high-profile hack, Web page defacement, or site takedown about once every three to four days.

More than the funny ASCII drawings of boats or the colorful operational names (“F*** FBI Friday,” “Chinga La Migre”), this is what kept everybody coming back for more “lulz.”

This is Why We Can Have Nice Things
LulzSec may also have paved the way for a new method of doing things within the loose online collective known as Anonymous. That anarchic movement has been fairly successful in its various cyber-pranks and site takedowns since getting serious about such operations in recent months. The bumbling, opportunistic raid on Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account back in 2008 by anonymous members of 4Chan’s /b/ board seems like ages ago.

But the arrests of dozens of suspected Anonymous members in recent weeks demonstrates that such a large, flowing membership base is probably detrimental to keeping secrets. Whether or not authorities are now closing in on LulzSec’s members, the group did manage to pull off their 50-day lulz spree without getting caught.

Instead of operating within the sprawling, “leaderless” climate of Anonymous, LulzSec formed itself as a small cadre of talented individuals, each with a key skill to offer (despite being derided as “script kiddies” by some rival hacking groups, LulzSec had skills). The group was reportedly comprised of hackers (like Sabu) who handled the network intrusions, coders who built software tools, botnet owners who launched DDoS attacks, and even a frontman in Topiary.

LulzSec almost certainly emerged from Anonymous and likely has simply melted back into its ranks since disbanding. The group may have distanced itself from Anonymous at first, but with the launch of Operation Anti-Security in concert with Anonymous, LulzSec indicated it had never really strayed too far from its roots.

With reportedly strong ties to other senior members of Anonymous, LulzSec’s members may be in a very good position to instruct others on the strategy and tactics that made them such a success. The group already has copycats like Canada’s LulzRaft. Would it be all that surprising to see more tight-knit hacking cells emerge from Anonymous and elsewhere?

When—not if—that happens, those next-gen LulzSecs would be wise to heed a final lesson from the originals: Know when to quit. And when you do, know how to bow out with some panache. LulzSec’s stated motivation for disbanding was “boredom”—a game effort at laughing in the face of the real reason—that authorities were closing in.

For more, see PCMag’s Guide to Knowing Your Hackers and Did LulzSec Change the Hacking Game, or Just Get Lucky?

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Higgs Boson: ‘God Particle’ Discovery Ignites Debate Over Science And Religion

Religion News Service  |  By  Posted: 07/14/2012 10:38 pm Updated: 07/14/2012 10:38 pm

Higgs Boson Religion

FILE – In this March 30, 2010 file photo a scientist looks at the pictures of the first collisions at full power at the CMS experience control room at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland. The head of the world’s biggest atom smasher is claiming discovery of a new particle that he says is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson known popularly as the “God particle” which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape. (AP Pho

(RNS) The Higgs boson is perhaps better known by its sexier nickname: the “God particle.”

But in fact, many scientists, including the physicist for whom it is named, dislike the term.

In 1993 when American physicist Leon Lederman was writing a book on the Higgs boson, he dubbed it “the goddamn particle.” An editor suggested “the God particle” instead.

One thing is clear: The July 4 discovery that marked a new chapter in scientific knowledge also reignited debate over the universe’s origins — and the validity of religious faith as scientific knowledge expands.

The Higgs boson explains why particles have mass — and in turn why we exist. Without the boson, the universe would have no physical matter, only energy.

The cosmological implications are hotly debated. Can God fit in a scientific story of creation?

The answer is “no” for Lawrence M. Krauss, an Arizona State University theoretical physicist. He argued in Newsweek that the Higgs boson discovery “posits a new story of our creation” independent of religious belief.

“Humans, with their remarkable tools and their remarkable brains, may have just taken a giant step toward replacing metaphysical speculation with empirically verifiable knowledge,” he wrote.

With enough data, physics would make God obsolete, he said. “If we can describe the laws of nature back to the beginning of time without any supernatural shenanigans, it becomes clear that you don’t need God.”

Religious believers see things differently.

Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno argued in a Washington Post column that scientifically deduced universal laws expose “the personality” of God. “The mysteries revealed by modern science are a constant reminder that reality is bigger than our day-to-day lives,” he wrote.

Alternative medicine guru Deepak Chopra said in a YouTube video that the boson hints at a divine interconnectedness of all things.

“It only strengthens the notion that the universe comes out of a nothingness which is everything,” he said.

This much is true: Higgs bosons — which permeate the universe — help us understand how something comes from nothing.

The awe we feel with this heady topic causes even nonreligious people to use religious language, said Philip Clayton, dean of Claremont School of Theology and a researcher of science and religion.

“Humans are really fascinated with what we know scientifically and what lies right at the boundaries of what we can know,” he said.

Albert Einstein’s quip that God “doesn’t play dice with the world” is a metaphor to help explain our quest for order in a world that seems chaotic, Clayton said.

Such metaphorical language helps to explain the world at the particle level where physical laws such as gravity break down, and physicists rely on abstractions to describe how particles interact.

Clayton said discussing whether the discovery “disproves religion or supports creation” misses the point. “The fans and the foes of religion … are overreaching on both sides. The quest for the Higgs boson, and its ultimate discovery, neither proves nor disproves God,” he wrote in a Huffington Post column.

But Krauss says science isn’t trying to disprove God. Rather, data only have to offer an explanation for the universe that would make a divine creator redundant. When English physicist Peter Higgs proposed the Higgs boson in 1964, it helped codify an incomplete model of the universe. This model was shown accurate through experimentation culminating in July 4’s discovery.

Krauss said further experimentation will lead toward a “unified theory” of the universe that accounts for everything from quarks to galaxies.

“That’s the difference between science and religion,” he said. “We don’t require the universe to be what we want — we force our beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality.”