Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks Talks Back To Power - The Politics of Information IV

Well, the Wikileaks story is growing, taking on the dimensions of the Daniel Ellsberg/Washington Post/Pentagon Papers; very exciting this is happening in my time!

As I write, the Wikileaks site is under a major DDOS attack, the first beginning 28 Sunday 11 in an attempt to keep Wikileaks from publishing the quarter of a million diplomatic cables released that day and sent to the NY Times, the Guardian and others. That attack was rerouted and Wikileaks got up again (never gonna keep 'em down - thx The Register) but is today 30 Nov @2:51GMT/UT experiencing a 10GB per second DDOSsing.

I was wondering what Wikileaks would do in response to the attacks on Julian Assange and the attempt by the Pentagon to blackmail, intimidate or threaten Wikileaks and obscure the real issue: the Afghan War Diaries and the information they reveal.

The attacks on Wikileaks continue; Forbes Magazine has the incendiary article titled "Julian Assange Wants To Spill Your Corporate Secrets" today. This is ridiculous, as Wikileaks has no incentive nor interest in some company's methods of accounting, share splits or other business-related operations; only in criminal acts and outright lies to stockholders and the public. But you see how this slanting and spinning of news is done as a disinformation and propaganda campaign.

The Obama Administration has revealed its own hollow rhetoric and bombast in caving in to Pentagon and other pressures in instigating US Justice and Defense Department investigations into trying Julian and Wikileaks for charges under the Espionage Act, echoing the charges brought against Ellsberg, The NY Times and The Washington Post by John Mitchell, Henry Kissinger, William Rehnquist and Richard Nixon and finally leading to Watergate and the downfall of the Nixon Administration.

Ultimately in that case justice and the First Amendment prevailed, revealing not "state secrets" designed to keep this nation safe and secure but the considered manipulation by men of power to expand and continue an unjustified war resulting in the death and crippling of hundreds of thousands of young men, the feeding of the military-industrial complex for profit warned against by President Eisenhower and the absolutely morally-bankrupt conduct of men of power to profit off war and human misery.

Hooray for Wikileaks, hooray for the First Amendment; hooray for brave men and women of honor, integrity and journalism and hooray for the net, the Last Free Press.

... and yes, this blog post is about art, as was Picasso's Guernica.

ps - thx to soror Nishi for pointing me to an interview with one of my favorite people, Noam Chomsky on this and other issues:

Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal "Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership"

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Politics of Information Part III

You might know my State of Mind installation currently being hosted by Four Bridges Project in Second Life or from the machinima by Iono Allen.

This post is intimately concerned with both the topics and the mechanisms of that installation. If you do not like politics in your art, please feel free to skip this post. I feel compelled to speak not only as an artist who examines the sociological and psychological underpinnings of people and societies but as a human being.


Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, has been being made media fodder for a disinformation and smear campaign directly along the lines I engaged in State of Mind after releasing The Iraq War Logs - hundreds of thousands of SIGACT documents detailing the war and subsequent occupation of Iraq from January 2004 through December 2009.

He is being tried in the court of media, which is seeking to influence public opinion and subvert the message of the documents themselves and the mission of Wikileaks. Those documents and that mission are far too complex to go into in this post; I urge you to investigate them yourself.

My concern as a media artist and student is to examine the use of ad hominem attacks, control of the media and disinformation for political purposes, and for shutting down or marginalizing public debate about serious and life-determining issues by distraction, dissembling and targetting the messenger in order to discredit the message.

The "case" against Mr Assange has taken several bizarre twists lately. The truth of the "allegations: are as follows:

- The charges are ex post facto. Both of the women involved have admitted several times in public documents that the sex they had with Julian was consensual. and that they continued to instigate friendly contact well after the alleged incidents. Only after the women became aware of each other's relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him. There was no drunkenness, no drugging, no forcing, no persuasion; they admit they freely had sex with him. Neither one is underage.

- Mr Assange did not "flee the country" as is being promulgated by several Large Media Outlets. The prosecutor repeatedly declined to question Mr Assange while he was in the country and approved his request to leave the country on business matters. The first time these charges were brought, the Swedish prosecutor dropped the charges.

- At this point, Mr Assange is wanted for questioning - pretty much standard operating procedures when any criminal charges are brought against an individual. He is not "wanted" for a "crime." The Swedish police informed the press of the charges against him, and identified him by name, before they had even spoken to him - which they still haven't. The Swedish prosecutors (now multiple), in contravention of (apparently) Swedish law, have been announcing "We're going to arrest Assange for rape!" and then not doing anything about it, not telling him what the charges are, and not bringing him in for questioning.


This is not the behavior of someone who wants to prosecute a criminal in the court of justice; if they had a case, they would bring it, and Assange would go to jail for rape. This is the behavior of someone who wants to hang an innocent person in the court of public opinion.

This smear and disinformation campaign began only a few months after the release of The War Diaries and murky comments by the Pentagon alluding to extraordinary rendition and assassination of Mr Assange and the illegal shutting down of Wikileaks.

It has direct ties to yesterday's 19-0 vote by the US Senate Judiciary Committee's Combatting Online Infringement And Counterfeiting Act allowing the Department of Justice, through a court order, to order U.S. Internet service providers to redirect customer traffic away from infringing websites not based in the U.S.

It speaks directly to me as someone who lives and breathes the net and believes in informed public debate, access to all information so that I may make up my own mind and in the principles of the men who founded this country and are given lip service while being subverted for political and profit motives. It concerns my home and what is important in my life, which is what art is supposed to be about.

So please accept my apologies if you think this post has no place on an "art blog" or you do not care to know about such problems. I know it's uncomfortable and unfashionable. This hurts and frightens me. As with State of Mind, I felt I must speak or just start screaming.

I leave you with two excellent letters recently published by Mr Assange's Swedish and US attorneys in the firm belief in combatting propaganda with information. I urge you to make up your own mind about these tactics, this story and the role that art/information/media/influence and propaganda play in your own thoughts and ideas.


[added emphases mine - M]

LONDON, 2pm Thursday November 18, 2010

Mark Stephens of law firm Finers Stephens Innocent said today, “On the morning of 21 August 2010, my client, Julian Assange, read in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen that there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to allegations of “rape” involving two Swedish women.

However, even the substance of the allegations, as revealed to the press through unauthorized disclosures do not constitute what any advanced legal system considers to be rape; as various media outlets have reported “the basis for the rape charge” purely seems to constitute a post-facto dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex days after the event. Both women have declared that they had consensual sexual relations with our client and that they continued to instigate friendly contact well after the alleged incidents. Only after the women became aware of each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him.

The warrant for his arrest was rightly withdrawn within 24 hours by Chief prosecutor Eva Finne, who found that there was no “reason to suspect that he has committed rape." Yet his name had already been deliberately and unlawfully disclosed to the press by Swedish authorities. The so called “rape” story was carried around the world and has caused Mr. Assange and his organization irreparable harm.

Eva Finne’s decision to drop the “rape" investigation was reversed after the intervention of a political figure, Claes Borgstrom, who is now acting for the women. The case was given to a specific prosecutor, Marianne Ny.

The only way the accused and his lawyers have been able to discover any substantive information regarding the investigation against him has been through the media. Over the last three months, despite numerous demands, neither Mr. Assange, nor his legal counsel has received a single word in writing from the Swedish authorities relating to the allegations; a clear contravention to Article 6 of the European Convention, which states that every accused must be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him”. The actions by the Swedish authorities constitute a blatant and deliberate disregard for his rights under the Convention.

We are now concerned that prosecutor Marianne Ny intends to apply for an arrest warrant in an effort to have Mr. Assange forcibly taken to Sweden for preliminary questioning. Despite his right to silence, my client has repeatedly offered to be interviewed, first in Sweden before he left, and then subsequently in the UK (including at the Swedish Embassy), either in person or by telephone, videoconferencing or email and he has also offered to make a sworn statement on affidavit. All of these offers have been flatly refused by a prosecutor who is abusing her powers by insisting that he return to Sweden at his own expense to be subjected to another media circus that she will orchestrate. Pursuing a warrant in this circumstance is entirely unnecessary and disproportionate. This action is in contravention both of European Conventions and makes a mockery of arrangements between Sweden and the United Kingdom designed to deal with just such situations. This behavior is not a prosecution, but a persecution. Before leaving Sweden Mr. Assange asked to be interviewed by the prosecution on several occasions in relation to the allegations, staying over a month in Stockholm, at considerable expense and despite many engagements elsewhere, in order to clear his name. Eventually the prosecution told his Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig that he was free to leave the country, without interview, which he did.

Our client has always maintained his innocence. The allegations against him are false and without basis. As a result of these false allegations and bizarre legal interpretations our client now has his name and reputation besmirched. Thousands of news articles and 3.6million web pages now contain his name and the word “rape”. Indeed, three out of four web-pages that mention Mr. Assange’s name also now mention the word “rape”—a direct result of incompetent and malicious behavior by Swedish government prosecutors. My client is now in the extraordinary position that, despite his innocence, and despite never having been charged, and despite never receiving a single piece of paper about the allegations against him, one in ten Internet references to the word “rape” also include his name. Every day that this flawed investigation continues the damages to his reputation are compounded.”

Mark Stephens is contactable on 0207 344 7661 or his cell 07831 115000


Letter from Swedish Counsel Bjorn Hurtig to English co-Counsel for Julian Assange.

Note Neither Mr. Assange nor Counsel, nor WikiLeaks have ever received a single written word, at any time, in any form, from Swedish authorities on the Swedish investigation against our editor.

From: Björn Hurtig
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2010 12:43 PM
To: Jennifer
Subject: SV: Our client

Dear Jennifer,

Enclosed You will find a copy of the documents that I have would like to send to the prosecutor. I have not been able to have the document translated in detail, but I will now tell You the most important things in it.

First of all I comment the ongoing investigation and tell the prosecutor that I have asked her several times that they should hear my client so that we can be aware of the accusations. They have said no to this initially (and by this I mean for several weeks). Furthermore I remind her that I several times have asked her to give me the evidence in the case. She has said no to this also. I then tell her that I have asked my questions informally and in writing and tell her about a formal request that I made 14 of September 2010. This formal request has not yet been formally answered, which I find to be a breach of Swedish law (23:18 Rättegångsbalken). I also tell her that Sweden has not followed art 6:3 of The European Convention of the 4 november 1950, because Julian has not been informed of the accusation in detail and in his own language. Neither has he been informed of the documents in the case in his own language. This is an incorrect behavior.

I then tell her that Julian is indeed willing to participate in a hearing. But I remind her that I asked her in writing (14 of September) if he was free to leave Sweden for doing buissines in other countries and that she called me and said that he was free to leave. This is important because it means that Julian has not left Sweden in trying to escape the Swedish justice. Then I reminds her that Julian and I several times have tried to give them dates when he could come to Sweden and participate in a hearing, for example I spoke to the second prosecutor Erika Leijnefors during week nr 40 and told her that Julian could participate in a hearing the 10 of October (a Sunday) or some day the following week. The prosecutor in charge (Marianne Ny) said no to this. Other times Marianne Ny has said no to our proposals due to that one of her police officers were sick or because the time did not suit her. This is also important because it shows that Julian has tried but Marianne Ny has said no. I go on remembering her that Julian has suggested that he could participate over a phone line and from an Australian Embassy. She has said not to this also. Then I tell her that Julian is willing to participate through a videoconference or to make a written statement over the accusation and the questions they may have. This is of utmost importance, since it shows his willingness to participate. I remind her of a ruling from our Highest Court; NJA 2007 s.337, in which the court did not put a man in custody although he was abroad and did not come to Sweden to participate in a hearing. It was not proportional to do such a thing, since he left Sweden rightfully (just like Julian) and thus did not try to escape the Swedish justice, he was willing to participate via phone or in writing and so forth.

In the second last section of the letter I tell the prosecutor that she should think of the damage that Sweden already has done to Julian by letting his name in public. I tell her that I have heard that there is a police investigation going on about the first prosecutor who let Julians name out In public, which shows that it is a serious matter. If the prosecutor now goes forward with a request of Julian being put in custody it is my opinion that the damage could be enormous; whatever the outcome of the trial may be. Therefore I urge her to come back to me with a proposal of when and where we could have this hearing instead of her dragging Julian in to court.

In the last section I tell her that if she proceeds with her plans of a custody trial, I want all documents. This I say because I do not trust them to give me everything.

So Jennifer, this is the main things in my letter. I hope You understand what I am writing. If not, please call me. I will not be able to take Your calls today though, since I will be busy the rest of the day. If You do not call med, please let me know a s a p if I can send the letter to the prosecutor. I would like to send it first thing tomorrow morning. You may tell med by mail.

Best regards

Björn Hurtig


So come and get me, Department of Mental Security, Ministry of Truth. Put me on a Watch List. You can hurt me, you can make me sick to my stomach, you can make me despair; you can make me ashamed of my own country before the face of its fathers. But you cannot take my liberty of mind. I am a free person.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The New Grids - Cui Bono?

I am taking pity on Soror Nishi and making a post here to spare her my post-long mini-essays on her own blog, this one "My Virtual Future." Soror is always a good read and stimulating to thoughts and issues, hence this posting.

The Latin phrase 'cui bono' renders as, "who profits?" It's a good maxim to use in any situation. Who profits from multiple grids, the expansion of the grid technology, the diversity of grids?

We do of course. That is, the 'we' who identify not with some brand-name, some virtual equivalent of Abercrombie & Fitch snobbishness, Microsoft/Apple fanboi fever, Novell 'we're going to rule networking so get with us or die' myopia... in short, people with open minds and the intelligence to think outside the proscribed or trendy view towards the future of the entire network.

I remember when Novell and Token Ring ruled networking, despite awkward structures, deadly custom partitions which, if disturbed, would lock you out of your data and applications and cause untold misery and loss. I remember having to call the High Priests of IBM, doing everything short of sacrificing two cows and a flock of doves to petition for a moment of their mighty time to this unworthy enduser. Same story with Cobol, Fortran and proprietary transmission protocols and disk schemes. I remember being told that TCP/IP was a fringe technology, not really 'ready for business' and that I was wasting my time with this new protocol...

And what was the result? The future blew those technologies and stances away and the unemployment lines were full of those fully-invested in the entrenched wisdom of the past.

Lucky for me that I was on the net so early, in contact with people mostly older and wiser than me, who gave me a thorough grounding not only in the tech prevalent at the time, but in thinking about the future. The most valuable tech lesson I picked up from these people and the one which has continually served me well is that being invested in one single approach, technology or platform is not only foolish but short-sighted and dangerous.

The same principle applies in the arts. I remember the snobbishness that accompanied electronic music's debut into mainstream music; the nose-turning and sniffing against synthesizers and digital recording. Sure, there are good and artistic reasons to use real saxaphone players or analog tape machines even now; the point is that you use the best tool for the job, for what you wish to accomplish, and having a variety of tools at your disposal gives you more options.

The current tussling over "who's grid is da best grid" is a good example of clannish and isolationist thinking which will only hurt those invested in it. If life teaches you anything, it is to be flexible to changing circumstances, to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, to know when an Oblique Strategy or lateral thinking is called for in a situation.

The internet itself was designed to be flexible, to have multiple routes and multiple access points, to be resilient and changing in response to structural problems or obstructions. "The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it" is very applicable here; censorship of ideas and a willingness to embrace or at least explore new ways and means can be considered damaging to your own thinking, forcing you into an intellectual and stagnant backwater while the future merrily rolls onward, leaving you behind to play with your Token Ring and curse your Novell partition for locking you out of your data.

The work being done by Pathfinder, soror, Wizard Gynoid and others is a laudible example of forward-thinking, net-centric investigation into the burgeoning technology of the grid and hypertransport. The political (because let's face it, that's what it is) wrangling over "why you should go with X grid and not the others" is provincial and indicates an investment in some ideological approach, stance or philosophy that is entrenched and backward-looking.

I'm not urging anyone to commit to a choice of grids; some grids serve an individual or organization's needs better than others, just as some libraries excel in technical reference sections while others concentrate on English Literature or architecture. The point is, we all benefit from the multiplicity of libraries and approaches. We all benefit from being able to access multiple sources and options in almost everything we involve ourselves in in life.

I am part of a community - the network. I do not care if you use Windows, Mac or Linux to get there (although I do have my own preferences). Saying "I will only talk on the net to people using Linux" would be stupid, yes? Because the method of achieving online presence is an irrelevant issue to your presence on the net and your ability to be part of a community. I don't care if your website is hosted by GoDaddy, Yahoo, private host or a university. I don't care if you have an incredibly-detailed technical blog or an enthusiastic independent music site; it's irrelevant to me that you may spend your time chatting away on IRC or building virtual coliseums. What is important to me is that you are present; you are part of the community of the internet. Everything else, all the other issues, are background to this simple awareness of what I am involved and invested in.

So, who profits from the expansion of the grid; the multiplicity of the worlds, the explosion of boutique and specialized grids and the beginnings of the hypertech transport tech that has the importance today that the birth of HTML did in 1990? You do. I do. We all do.

I urge people to remember what they are involved in and what they invest a large amount of time in - a community. Try to see the bigger picture. Try to think of yourself as a netizen first, a gridnaut second and after that, you can be as partisan as you like about which football team er I mean grid you root for. But don't sit back in your comfy armchair and pontificate about something you have no experience in; go out and explore a variety of these grids and open your mind to the experience of them and the meaning of them in the larger picture.

"To explore strange new worlds... to seek out new grids and new civilizations... to boldly go where no avatar has gone before..." This is the continuing mission of the Starship Miso, although it's been longer than 5 years ^_^ I hope it will continue for the rest of my life, and I hope it will for you too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday WWW!

"It was 20 years ago today/Sergeant Timmy thought the bandwidth play..."

Here is the original proposal to the 3Wc regarding the creation of a hypertext-linked World Wide Web from Nov. 1990.

It was exciting then and it's still exciting now, to realize how far we have come since then. All cheers and honors to Tim Berners-Lee for having a large hand in the world we experience today.In many ways it's as if the printing press, radio, telephones, telegraph and television had all happened at once instead of over a 400 year time span.

Who will be the visionary(s) that are spoken of in this way in 20 years for the birth of the Hyperverse? Stay tuned ^_^

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Nazz Lane & Scruplz Interviews


Not only is my butt famous (see last post) but I have been graced in having two interviews published this week.

The first is by Nazz Lane over at Lane's List. Nazz is a great interviewer, making you feel at home and like a friend, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation that we had. It's in two parts because of my self-confessed Chatty Cathy Syndrome (CCS) and Nazz deserves 3 Gold Stars for Editing Patience and Effort. * * *

The second is by Dividni Shostakovich and comes in the Scruplz Magazine Intellibook format, which you can read on the website or IM me inworld for a copy there.

UPDATE Nov. 13 - Dividni has posted the blog of the Scruplz Magazine interview with additional conversation cut for length (you know me *ducks head*


Woohoo, my butt's famous!

Ok, some self-promotion here:

A little while ago I was honored to be asked to pose for Gracie Kendal's "I'm still thinking of a name to call it" project. Well, yesterday Gracie sent me a texture inworld of some of the RL prints she made of those photos and put up a blog post about it.

And my butt is prominently featured!!! Woohooo!

You can see my absolutely gorgeous butt here!

That is all ^_^

Monday, November 1, 2010

Virtually Interesting

So, you want to see some hawt 3D virtual avatar action?

Look no further:

Orangina Naturally Juicy - French Version @youtube


New Feature - What Is Miso Reading?

I put a small links section below Followers to paste up some of the links I get to in my travels on the net of articles I am reading & thinking about for people who like to snoop in other people's libraries :D