Jon Stewart just did a segment on Homelessness everyone needs to see

Originally published at the NAAIJ on Jan 12th, 2015. Check the NAAIJ for most recent updates

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It should be pretty easy to emphasize with the homeless. But until you have actually been homeless it may not be so easy to put yourself in their shoes … assuming they have shoes. Myself, I was homeless for an extended period of time a little over a decade ago. Perhaps it’s something about sleeping on a 5 inch mat a foot away from a hundred other people in similar or worse predicaments. Keeping all your worldly possessions either on your person or in a backpack which you are using as a pillow either out of necessity or security.

Then the morning comes. You wake up, place your 5 inch mat in a stack with all the others and help setup the tables and chairs, But first you take an inventory or whatever meager possessions you may have. Mats away and tables up you then get in line for breakfast.

Next its out into the cold to panhandle during the morning rush at the transit station. Warming up every few hours in the library or the recreation center. In my case brushing up on programming skills and breaking into the computer networks around me.

It is a unique perspective to say the least, and it is this perspective that makes me quite enthusiastic about news out of Utah recently that was highlighted on Jon Stewart‘s ‘The Daily Show‘ on an initiative to actually house the homeless.

You can view the segment here (so long as you make Comedy Central believe you reside in the United States)

Failing that you can watch this discussion by The Young Turks on the same program.

The segment features the Director of the ‘Homeless Task Force’, Llyod Pendleton dropping some absolute gems like the programs resounding success of reducing homelessness by 72% since 2005. Nevermind the question that is on everyone’s mind ‘How much are these homeless going to cost me of my tax dollars’ — Realistically. Pennies. In fact a few less pennies than what is currently siphoned off your paycheque.

Actual figures … About $8,000 LESS than what it costs to simply do nothing and let them be incarcerated, hospitalized or institutionalized.

To quote the Director, “We gave homes .. To the homeless. Yes. It’s simple. You give them housing, And you end homelessness.”

What a sudden outbreak of common sense that was! Who would have thought you could end homelessness by giving people one of the several to 2 dozen vacant homes per homeless person in America. And save $8,000 a head while doing it!

You can read Mr. Pendletons testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing,and Urban Affairs Committee in 2007 here

Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter E-mail: veritas [at] vts-tech [dot] org [PGP]

Rival hackers offer to distribute ‘The Interview’ Movie for Sony Pictures.

Originally published at the NAAIJ on Dec 20th, 2014. Check the NAAIJ for most recent updates

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Rival hackers from The 2600 Community have offered to screen and distribute Sony Pictures ‘The Interview’ Movie. The full text of the offer has been republished verbatim below:

You’ve probably been hearing quite a bit about hackers recently. According to the mass media, hackers have been holding Hollywood hostage, are working for the North Korean government, and are basically equivalent to terrorists. Some of this we’ve heard before and some is just completely out of left field. As one small part of the vast and diverse hacker community, we felt compelled to not only say something, but to do something.

First, let’s clear one thing up: We have little remaining ill will towards Sony for their part in the MPAA lawsuit against us in 2000, when we were hauled into federal court for publishing a computer program that would allow Linux users to view DVDs. We learned a valuable lesson about corporate America, the government, and the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We saw how the media could be so easily manipulated by the powers that be. And, while we lost the case, we became the first actual victims of the DMCA, and had the privilege of being the ones to warn the rest of the country what was ahead. That fight has been going on ever since. And Sony played a valuable role in motivating us. We thank them for that.

As hackers, we have a strong commitment to freedom of speech, which we regularly express through our magazine, our radio shows, our conferences, and any other medium we can get our hands on. Most in the hacker world share in these very basic values.

We’ve protested films in the past when they’ve been unfair to the hacker community. It tends to freak out those in power when they realize hackers are angry at them, but most of those fears are based on paranoia and ignorance as to what the hacker community is really all about. And cutting off speech, silencing unpopular views, and avoiding controversy are not what we’re about.

As you have undoubtedly heard, Sony has decided to cancel the release of their controversial film “The Interview.” They’ve done this because of a single, vague threat that is tantamount to something we’ve all seen at one time or another on an IRC channel and not thought twice about. By focusing on this threat, however, Sony can attempt to extricate itself from the controversy and the immensely stupid movie plot it agreed to produce – and blame the whole thing on hackers, albeit North Korean ones. (They might also escape liability for their inadequate computer security by claiming the massive compromise of their systems was equivalent to a terrorist act. But that’s another story, or possibly a whole new movie.) In their gross generalization, and with the help of the mass media, the entire hacker community is being painted with a very broad and dark brush.

We have decided to call their bluff. To demonstrate that hackers have no interest in suppressing speech, quashing controversy, or being intimidated by vague threats, we ask that Sony allow the hacker community to distribute “The Interview” for them on the 25th of December. Now, we’re aware that Sony may refer to this distribution method as piracy, but in this particular case, it may well prove to be the salvation of the motion picture industry. By freely offering the film online, millions of people will get to see it and decide for themselves if it has any redeeming qualities whatsoever – as opposed to nobody seeing it and the studios writing it off as a total loss. Theaters would be free from panic as our servers would become the target of any future vague threats (and we believe Hollywood will be most impressed with how resilient peer-to-peer distribution can be in the face of attacks). Most importantly, we would be defying intimidation, something the motion picture industry doesn’t quite have a handle on, which is surprising considering how much they’ve relied upon it in the past.

We sincerely hope Sony doesn’t refuse this offer because of the potentially bitter irony of having hackers show them how to run their own industry. Perhaps if they had spent less time in court and more time learning to stand up for the values they allegedly hold (not to mention installing a little security on their systems and protecting the privacy of their employees and associates), this little bit of drama might never have had to happen. But then, where would Hollywood be without drama?

Even more vital than ensuring that the public gets to experience (and judge) art for themselves is the need for hackers to show their true colors. These are not the colors of terrorists, bullies, or government agents, but rather those of creative individuals who can cause all kinds of mischief and, in the process, come up with unique solutions and ingenious ways of preserving freedom. We believe it’s the latter category that really scares those in power and is likely at the heart of all of the wild fear-mongering we’re hearing today. Failure to correct these misconceptions now could easily assure future crackdowns that will affect all of us.

We will be preparing a section of our website for screening of “The Interview” on December 25th. If Sony agrees, we will work our asses off to make this happen. If they don’t give us permission to do this, then we will point to any sites that have managed to obtain the film. The address to write to for anyone from Sony, North Korean officials, hackers around the world, or the general public is [email protected].

Censorship and fear must be fought at every opportunity. We made that point while opposing Sony in the past. Now we must make that point again, this time for their benefit.

Source (2600.com)

Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Nigel is also the Assistant Webmaster for the NAAIJ. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter E-mail: nigel [at] naaij [dot] org [PGP]

Welcome to NigelTodman.com

Welcome to NigelTodman.com

I transferred my blog of a number of years over here. Importing just about all the content. I have been having some issues with free file hosts and DMCA Abuse – So .. I’ll just host my software, tools and source code myself.

The most recent posts for most of the stuff I’ve written should have working mirrors on this domain.

Will be fixing up links in the coming weeks.

John Oliver did a segment on Drones everyone needs to see.

Originally published at the NAAIJ on Oct 1st, 2014. Check the NAAIJ for most recent updates

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Every so often I see ‘Independent’ publications like The Huffington Post or established outlets like The Washington Post make entire articles about the very relevant stories that the likes of Jon Stewart and John Oliver bring to us. Unfortunately those outlets prefer to focus on the quite obviously less relevant stories. Like what the latest talking head on FOX News said, Or what the latest thing Justin Bieber did was or exactly how Canadian our drunken, crack smoking Toronto Mayor is.

This segment on John OliversLast Week Tonight‘ is much more relevant and even made me have a ‘Holy Sh*t’ moment, and I’ve been paying attention to these issues for some time.

At the time of writing that segment, On YouTube alone, has 2,228,059 views.

Perhaps you noticed what I noticed. What Oliver has done is scour the Internet and discovered some absolute gems of extreme negligence and legal culpability on the US Governments Drone program. Now anyone that has been following these issues knows that the US Government routinely kills innocent women and children and otherwise ‘definitely not a terrorist’ non-combatant civilians. (Not at all unlike what Israel does to Palestine) But what Oliver has unearthed is a tacit almost candid admission that the US Government has next to no bloody idea exactly who it is it is killing — but they ‘are definitely an appropriate target’ — even if they cannot prove in any manner, shape or form that the people they just damn well killed have any tangible connection to Terrorism whatsoever!

You’re probably here because like myself you chose to remain informed and dig deeper into the issues. The US Navy 3-Star Rear Admiral depicted in the video is none other than Deputy Director for Global Operations (J-3) Adm. Stufflebeem. The full transcript of that Pentagon Briefing is available from the Yale School of Law (They are probably just as shocked as we are that someone was able to deem this ‘legal’)

I’ll recite an extended excerpt of the transcript here, going beyond what Olivers clip entails, but containing it in full:

Question: When can we expect the Pentagon to release either the photographs or the videotape of this site and some of the evidence that was gathered?

Ms. Clarke: I don’t know.

Adm. Stufflebeem: I don’t know either. That —

Question: May we make that as a request?

Ms. Clarke: You can certainly make that as a request.

Question: Do you have strike imagery?

Question: Admiral —

Adm. Stufflebeem: Yeah.

Question: I’m curious. You said you don’t know who was killed in this attack, whether it was civilians, Taliban, or —

Adm. Stufflebeem: I’m sorry.

Ms. Clarke: We don’t know exactly who it was.

Adm. Stufflebeem: We don’t know the identities of the individuals involved.

Question: But you’re convinced they’re Taliban?

Adm. Stufflebeem: We’re convinced that —

Ms. Clarke: We’re convinced it was an appropriate target, based on the observation, based on the information that it was an appropriate target. We do not know yet exactly who it was.

Question: And I’m curious. In this uncertainty, why would you attack this with a missile, as opposed to going in with a Special Forces team, perhaps surrounding the area, and trying to find out who was who, rather sending the missile? Wouldn’t that be a more proper way to do this, perhaps?

Adm. Stufflebeem: Well, if you — in fact you have a quick reaction force that is on standby, in close proximity, and where vehicles have stopped and congregated, and people have gotten out and are having a meeting, if you have a team that’s ready to pounce, maybe so.

If because of the location of where it is and because of the type of a system that you’re using to monitor these areas, you don’t have that, and you have the information that would lead you to believe that this — the time to be able take advantage of this would be now, rather than lose it — I think this was probably the best weapon that was available at the time in the location.

Question: Were you afraid these people were going to get away? I mean, you had them under surveillance. Why wouldn’t you just instead go in and make sure you know who’s who? It could be scrap deals, it could be Taliban, it could be civilians.

Ms. Clarke: I’d say, again, based on the information they had and the observations, they believed it was an appropriate target. And again, we’re somewhat at a disadvantage here, since it was not DoD per se. But they thought it was an appropriate target, and they used what they had at the time.

Other instances of clearly very innocent people being executed en masse by the US Government is evidenced by this Dec. 2013 case as reported by DemocracyNow.

“Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, “some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians” and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as U.S. and Yemeni government officials initially claimed. The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports.” Turning a Wedding into a Funeral.

Or this report from the UK Telegraph that details no less than 168 children and as many as 775 innocent civilians executed by the US Government for happening to live in the wrong Country.

“In an extensive analysis of open-source documents, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 2,292 people had been killed by US missiles, including as many as 775 civilians.

The strikes, which began under President George W Bush but have since accelerated during the presidency of Barack Obama, are hated in Pakistan, where families live in fear of the bright specks that appear to hover in the sky overhead.

In just a single attack on a madrassah in 2006 up to 69 children lost their lives.

Chris Woods, who led the research, said the detailed database of deaths would send shockwaves through Pakistan, where political and military leaders repeatedly denounce the strikes in public, while privately allowing the US to continue.

“This is a military campaign run by a secret service which raised problems of accountability, transparency and you have a situation where neither the Pakistanis nor Americans are clear about any agreements in place and where the reporting is difficult,” he said.

“All of this means that when things go wrong there is simply no redress for the families of those who have been mistakenly killed.”

The research, culled from more than 2,000 news reports, leaked documents and witness statements, show how the drones gradually moved from a rarely used tool, beginning with a single strike in 2004, to a frontline weapon of war.” 168 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since start of campaign

If you would like to learn more about the potent illegality of America’s War on Terror. A documentary film by Jeremy Scahill entitled ‘Dirty Wars‘ is a great primer on the subject.

This is the trailer for ‘Dirty Wars’

Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter E-mail: veritas [at] vts-tech [dot] org [PGP]

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