MAJOR PATRICIA MURRAY’S CHALLENGE COIN BACKSTORY
Challenge Coin History
During World War 1, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck.
Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the pilots’ aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification.
He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector and they sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity.
Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner - a challenger would ask to see the medallion. If the challenged could not produce a medallion, they were required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued on throughout the war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.
Yoga Gives Back India Mission featured in LALALA Newspaper
“Aiming to support to build sustainable livelihoods”,
“Another face of a professional” series Yoga Gives Back
Disorder In The Court [via Ron Weaver]
These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget...
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: We do...
ATTORNEY: You do?
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep , he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's 20, much like your IQ.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them... The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
Were anti-Christians behind pilgrimage site attack? 2,000-year-old Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury is cut down. [via Nina Reznick]
By Luke Salkeld
Standing proudly on the side of an English hill, its religious roots go back 2,000 years. But a single night of vandalism has left an ancient site of pilgrimage in splinters. The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury has been chopped down in what is being seen by some as a deliberately anti-Christian act. A feature of the skyline surrounding the Somerset town, the tree has been visited by thousands retracing the steps said to have been taken by Joseph of Arimathea, who some say was Jesus’ great uncle.
Police tape surrounds the vandalised Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury as stunned locals look on. The branches were cut off overnight and a police investigation has been launched
The tree in all its glory before it was hacked apart. Legend says it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who helped Jesus of the cross. To the right of the tree, in the distance, is Glastonbury Tor
According to legend, Saint Joseph travelled to the spot after Christ was crucified, taking with him the Holy Grail of Arthurian folklore. He is said to have stuck his wooden staff – which had belonged to Jesus – into the ground on Wearyall Hill before he went to sleep. When he awoke it had sprouted into a thorn tree, which became a natural shrine for Christians across Europe. To add to its sacred status, the tree ‘miraculously’ flowered twice a year – once at Christmas and once at Easter. It survived for hundreds of years before it was chopped down by puritans in the Civil War, but secret cuttings of the original were taken and planted around the town. It is from one of the new plants that a replacement tree was planted in the original spot over 50 years ago. Yesterday residents of Glastonbury wept as they surveyed the damage done to the tree on Wednesday night. Katherine Gorbing, curator of the town’s abbey, said: ‘The mindless vandals who have hacked down this tree have struck at the heart of Christianity.
A member of the public gathers sprigs from the chopped branches while (right) onlookers cry and say prayers
‘It is the most significant of all the trees planted here and can be linked back to the origins of Christianity.
‘When I arrived at the Abbey this morning you could look over to the hill and see it was not there.
‘It’s a great shock to everyone in Glastonbury – the landscape of the town has changed overnight.’
Every winter a sprig of thorns from one of the town’s trees is sent to the Queen to be used as a table decoration on Christmas Day.
Glastonbury mayor John Coles, 66, took part in the annual cutting ceremony last week using the tree at St John’s Church.
Yesterday he recalled watching a tree being planted on Wearyall Hill in 1951 for the Festival of Britain. Although that specimen died, it was replaced the following year and stood firm until this week. Mr Coles said: ‘It’s the saddest thing I’ve seen in Glastonbury. Some of the main trunk is there but the branches have been sawn away. I am absolutely lost for words.’
Experts had verified that the tree – known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora – originated from the Middle East.
Avon and Somerset police have begun an investigation but because there was no tree preservation order on the Holy Thorn, it means the vandals are unlikely to be prosecuted. The land on which the Holy Thorn stood is owned by Edward James, who was arrested this week in connection with an investigation into failed currency exchange firm Crown Currency Exchange, of which he is a director.
According to the administrator’s report, Crown Currency collapsed owing £16million with little more than £3million in the bank. Last night there was speculation that the attack on the Holy Thorn may have been part of a vendetta against him.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION? [via Nina Reznick]
TO BE OR NOT TO BE? [via Nina Reznick]
Vegetative Patient Answers Yes and No Questions With His Brain
Raising questions about the definition of a vegetative state as well as what to do with people in them, a new study observed the brain of an unconscious patient responding to yes and no questions just like normal.
Of the 54 test subjects in the New England Journal of Medicine study, one man who had been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state some five years earlier accurately answered yes or no questions. The answers came by way of a brain scan conducted by an MRI machine.
As shown in the image above, answering "yes" and "no" registers activity in different parts of the brain. When the patient was asked if his father's name was Thomas, the scan showed his brain indicating "no." When asked if his father's name was Alexander, the scan showed the correct answer of "yes."
The study brings up some sticky issues involving the ethics of treating vegetative and seemingly vegetative patients. But it also provides scientists with rare insight into the elusive nature of human consciousness itself. [Pop Sci]
Send an email to Kyle VanHemert, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doesn't Blockfinder prove how futile secrecy is now that the web is past its infancy? [via Nina Reznick]
The American Wikileaks Hacker
Jacob Appelbaum fights repressive regimes around the world - including his own.
On July 29th, returning from a trip to Europe, Jacob Appelbaum, a lanky, unassuming 27-year-old wearing a black T-shirt with the slogan "Be the trouble you want to see in the world," was detained at customs by a posse of federal agents. In an interrogation room at Newark Liberty airport, he was grilled about his role in Wikileaks, the whistle-blower group that has exposed the government's most closely guarded intelligence reports about the war in Afghanistan. The agents photocopied his receipts, seized three of his cellphones — he owns more than a dozen — and confiscated his computer. They informed him that he was under government surveillance. They questioned him about the trove of 91,000 classified military documents that Wikileaks had released the week before, a leak that Vietnam-era activist Daniel Ellsberg called "the largest unauthorized disclosure since the Pentagon Papers." They demanded to know where Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was hiding. They pressed him on his opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Appelbaum refused to answer. Finally, after three hours, he was released.
Sex, Drugs, and the Biggest Cybercrime of All Time
Appelbaum is the only known American member of Wikileaks and the leading evangelist for the software program that helped make the leak possible. In a sense, he's a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook's ambition is to "make the world more open and connected," Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. An anarchist street kid raised by a heroin- addict father, he dropped out of high school, taught himself the intricacies of code and developed a healthy paranoia along the way. "I don't want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time," he says. "I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don't want a data trail to tell a story that isn't true." We have transferred our most intimate and personal information — our bank accounts, e-mails, photographs, phone conversations, medical records — to digital networks, trusting that it's all locked away in some secret crypt. But Appelbaum knows that this information is not safe. He knows, because he can find it.
This article appears in the September 2, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.
He demonstrates this to me when I meet him, this past spring, two weeks before Wikileaks made headlines around the world by releasing a video showing U.S. soldiers killing civilians in Iraq. I visit him at his cavernous duplex in San Francisco. The only furniture is a black couch, a black chair and a low black table; a Guy Fawkes mask hangs on a wall in the kitchen. The floor is littered with Ziploc bags containing bundles of foreign cash: Argentine pesos, Swiss francs, Romanian lei, old Iraqi dinars bearing Saddam Hussein's face. The bag marked "Zimbabwe" contains a single $50 billion bill. Photographs, most of them taken by Appelbaum, cover the wall above his desk: punk girls in seductive poses and a portrait of his deceased father, an actor, in drag.
Appelbaum tells me about one of his less impressive hacking achievements, a software program he invented called Blockfinder. It was not, he says, particularly difficult to write. In fact, the word he uses to describe the program's complexity is "trivial," a withering adjective that he and his hacker friends frequently deploy, as in, "Triggering the Chinese firewall is trivial" or "It's trivial to access any Yahoo account by using password-request attacks." All that Blockfinder does is allow you to identify, contact and potentially hack into every computer network in the world.
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He beckons me over to one of his eight computers and presses several keys, activating Blockfinder. In less than 30 seconds, the program lists all of the Internet Protocol address allocations in the world — potentially giving him access to every computer connected to the Internet. Appelbaum decides to home in on Burma, a small country with one of the world's most repressive regimes. He types in Burma's two-letter country code: "mm," for Myanmar. Blockfinder instantly starts to spit out every IP address in Burma.
Blockfinder informs Appelbaum that there are 12,284 IP addresses allocated to Burma, all of them distributed by government-run Internet-service providers. In Burma, as in many countries outside the United States, Internet access runs through the state. Appelbaum taps some keys and attempts to connect to every computer system in Burma. Only 118 of them respond. "That means almost every network in Burma is blocked from the outside world," he says. "All but 118 of them."
These 118 unfiltered computer systems could only belong to organizations and people to whom the government grants unfettered Internet access: trusted politicians, the upper echelons of state-run corporations, intelligence agencies.
"Now this," Appelbaum says, "is the good part."
He selects one of the 118 networks at random and tries to enter it. A window pops up asking for a password. Appelbaum throws back his head and screams with laughter — a gleeful, almost manic trill. The network runs on a router made by Cisco Systems and is riddled with vulnerabilities. Hacking into it will be trivial.
It's impossible to know what's on the other side of the password. The prime minister's personal e-mail account? The network server of the secret police? The military junta's central command? Whatever it is, it could soon be at Appelbaum's fingertips.
So will he do it?
"I could," Appelbaum says, with a smile. "But that would be illegal, wouldn't it?"
No one has done more to spread the gospel of anonymity than Appelbaum, whose day job is to serve as the public face of the Tor Project, a group that promotes Internet privacy through a software program invented 15 years ago by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He travels the world teaching spooks, political dissidents and human rights activists how to use Tor to prevent some of the world's most repressive regimes from tracking their movements online. He considers himself a freedom-of-speech absolutist. "The only way we'll make progress in the human race is if we have dialogue," he says. "Everyone should honor the United Nations human rights charter that says access to freedom of speech is a universal right. Anonymous communication is a good way for this to happen. Tor is just an implementation that helps spread that idea."
In the past year alone, Tor has been downloaded more than 36 million times. A suspected high-level member of the Iranian military used Tor to leak information about Tehran's censorship apparatus. An exiled Tunisian blogger living in the Netherlands relies on Tor to get past state censors. During the Beijing Olympics, Chinese protesters used Tor to hide their identities from the government.
The Tor Project has received funding not only from major corporations like Google and activist groups like Human Rights Watch but also from the U.S. military, which sees Tor as an important tool in intelligence work. The Pentagon was not particularly pleased, however, when Tor was used to reveal its secrets. Wikileaks runs on Tor, which helps to preserve the anonymity of its informants. Though Appelbaum is a Tor employee, he volunteers for Wikileaks and works closely with Julian Assange, the group's founder. "Tor's importance to Wikileaks cannot be understated," Assange says. "Jake has been a tireless promoter behind the scenes of our cause."
In July, shortly before Wikileaks released the classified Afghanistan war documents, Assange had been scheduled to give the keynote speech at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE), a major conference held at a hotel in New York. Federal agents were spotted in the audience, presumably waiting for Assange to appear. Yet as the lights darkened in the auditorium, it was not Assange who took the stage but Appelbaum.
"Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance," Appelbaum began. "I am here today because I believe we can make a better world. Julian, unfortunately, can't make it, because we don't live in that better world right now, because we haven't yet made it. I wanted to make a little declaration for the federal agents that are standing in the back of the room and the ones that are standing in the front of the room, and to be very clear about this: I have, on me, in my pocket, some money, the Bill of Rights and a driver's license, and that's it. I have no computer system, I have no telephone, I have no keys, no access to anything. There's absolutely no reason that you should arrest me or bother me. And just in case you were wondering, I'm an American, born and raised, who's unhappy. I'm unhappy with how things are going." He paused, interrupted by raucous applause. "To quote from Tron," he added, "'I fight for the user.'"
For the next 75 minutes, Appelbaum spoke about Wikileaks, urging the hackers in the audience to volunteer for the cause. Then the lights went out, and Appelbaum, his black hoodie pulled down over his face, appeared to be escorted out of the auditorium by a group of volunteers. In the lobby, however, the hood was lifted, revealing a young man who was not, in fact, Appelbaum. The real Appelbaum had slipped away backstage and left the hotel through a security door. Two hours later, he was on a flight to Berlin
By the time Appelbaum returned to America 12 days later and was detained at Newark, newspapers were reporting that the war documents identified dozens of Afghan informants and potential defectors who were cooperating with American troops. (When asked why Wikileaks didn't redact these documents before releasing them, a spokesman for the organization blamed the sheer volume of information: "I just can't imagine that someone could go through 76,000 documents.") Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter, called the group "a criminal enterprise" and urged the U.S. military to hunt them down like Al Qaeda. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, said that the soldier who allegedly provided the documents to Wikileaks should be executed.
Two days later, after speaking at a hackers conference in Las Vegas, Appelbaum was approached by a pair of undercover FBI agents. "We'd like to chat for a few minutes," one of them said. "We thought you might not want to. But sometimes it's nice to have a conversation to flesh things out."
Appelbaum has been off the grid ever since — avoiding airports, friends, strangers and unsecure locations, traveling through the country by car. He's spent the past five years of his life working to protect activists around the world from repressive governments. Now he is on the run from his own.
Appelbaum's obsession with privacy might be explained by the fact that, for his entire childhood, he had absolutely none of it. "I come from a family of lunatics," he says. "Actual, raving lunatics." His parents, who never married, began a 10-year custody battle before he was even born. He spent the first five years of his life with his mother, whom he says is a paranoid schizophrenic. She insisted that Jake had somehow been molested by his father while he was still in the womb. His aunt took custody of him when he was six; two years later she dropped him off at a Sonoma County children's home. It was there, at age eight, that he hacked his first security system. An older kid taught him how to lift the PIN code from a security keypad: You wipe it clean, and the next time a guard enters the code, you blow chalk on the pad and lift the fingerprints. One night, after everyone had gone to sleep, the boys disabled the system and broke out of the facility. They didn't do anything special — just walked around a softball field across the street for half an hour — but Appelbaum remembers the evening vividly: "It was really nice, for a single moment, to be completely free."
When he was 10, he was assigned by the courts to live with his father, with whom he had remained close. But his dad soon started using heroin, and Appelbaum spent his teens traveling with his father around Northern California on Greyhound buses, living in Christian group homes and homeless shelters. From time to time, his father would rent a house and turn it into a heroin den, subletting every room to fellow addicts. All the spoons in the kitchen had burn stains. One morning, when Appelbaum went to brush his teeth, he found a woman convulsing in the bathtub with a syringe hanging out of her arm. Another afternoon, when he came home from school, he found a suicide note signed by his father. (Appelbaum saved him from an overdose that day, but his father died several years later under mysterious circumstances.) It got so that he couldn't even sit on a couch for fear that he'd be pierced by a stray needle.
An outsider in his own home, Appelbaum embraced outsider culture. He haunted the Santa Rosa mall, begging for change. He dressed in drag and "I ♥ Satan" T-shirts, dyed his hair purple, picked fights with Christian fundamentalists and made out with boys in front of school. (Appelbaum identifies himself as "queer," though he refers to at least a dozen female lovers in nearly as many countries.) When a friend's father encouraged his interest in computers and taught him basic programming tools, something opened up for Appelbaum. Programming and hacking allowed him "to feel like the world was not a lost place. The Internet is the only reason I'm alive today."
At 20, he moved to Oakland and eventually began providing tech security for the Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace. In 2005, a few months after his father died, he traveled alone to Iraq — crossing the border by foot — and set up satellite Internet connections in Kurdistan. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he drove to New Orleans, using falsified press documents to get past the National Guard, and set up wireless hot spots in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods to enable refugees to register for housing with FEMA.
Upon returning home, he started experimenting with the fare cards used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and discovered it was possible to rig a card with an unlimited fare. Instead of taking advantage, he alerted BART officials to their vulnerabilities. But during this conversation, Appelbaum learned that BART permanently stored the information encoded on every transit card — the credit-card number used, where and when they were swiped — on a private database. Appelbaum was outraged. "Keeping that information around is irresponsible," he says. "I'm a taxpayer, and I was given no choice how they store that data. It's not democratically decided — it's a bureaucratic directive."
Given his concerns about privacy, it's easy to see why Appelbaum gravitated toward the Tor Project. He volunteered as a programmer, but it soon became clear that his greatest ability lay in proselytizing: He projects the perfect mix of boosterism and dread. "Jake can do advocacy better than most," says Roger Dingledine, one of Tor's founders. "He says, 'If someone were looking for you, this is what they'd do,' and he shows them. It freaks people out."
The Internet, once hailed as an implacable force of liberalization and democratization, has become the ultimate tool for surveillance and repression. "You can never take information back once it's out there," Appelbaum says, "and it takes very little information to ruin a person's life." The dangers of the Web may remain abstract for most Americans, but for much of the world, visiting restricted websites or saying something controversial in an e-mail can lead to imprisonment, torture or death.
Last year, some 60 governments prevented their citizens from freely accessing the Internet. China is rumored to have a staff of more than 30,000 censors who have deleted hundreds of millions of websites and blocked an eccentric range of terms — not only "Falungong," "oppression" and "Tiananmen," but also "temperature," "warm," "study" and "carrot."
On a bright afternoon in San Francisco, before Wikileaks dominated the headlines, Appelbaum is dressed in his usual hacker uniform: black boots, black socks, black slacks, black thick-rimmed glasses and a T-shirt bearing an archslogan. (Today it's "Fuck politics — I just want to burn shit down.") Though his work requires him to sit at his desk for most of the day, he is rarely stationary. He frequently jumps up and executes a series of brief, acrobatic stretches.He kicks a leg up against the wall, cracks his neck violently, tugs one arm across his chest and, just as abruptly, sits back down again.
He explains that we have to take a cab to pick up his mail. Like being a strict vegan or a Mormon, a life of total anonymity requires great sacrifice. You cannot, for instance, have mail delivered to your home. Nor can you list your name in your building's directory. Appelbaum has all of his mail sent to a private mail drop, where a clerk signs for it. That allows Appelbaum — and the dissidents and hackers he deals with — to use the postal system anonymously. Person One can send a package to Appelbaum, who can repackage it and send it on to Person Two. That way Person One and Person Two never have direct contact — or even learn each other's identities.
Tor works in a similar way. When you use the Internet, your computer makes a connection to the Web server you wish to contact. The server recognizes your computer, notes its IP address and sends back the page you've requested. It's not difficult, however, for a government agency or a malicious hacker to observe this whole transaction: They can monitor the server and see who is contacting it, or they can monitor your computer and see whom you're trying to contact. Tor prevents such online spying by introducing intermediaries between your computer and the system you're trying to reach. Say, for example, that you live in San Francisco and you want to send an e-mail to your friend, a high-level mole in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. If you e-mail your friend directly, the Guard's network could easily see your computer's IP address, and discover your name and personal information. But if you've installed Tor, your e-mail gets routed to one of 2,000 relays — computers running Tor — scattered across the world. So your message bounces to a relay in Paris, which forwards it to a second relay in Tokyo, which sends it on to a third relay in Amsterdam, where it is finally transmitted to your friend in Tehran. The Iranian Guard can only see that an e-mail has been sent from Amsterdam. Anyone spying on your computer would only see that you sent an e-mail to someone in Paris. There is no direct connection between San Francisco and Tehran. The content of your e-mail is not hidden — for that, you need encryption technology — but your location is secure.
Appelbaum spends much of each year leading Tor training sessions around the world, often conducted in secrecy to protect activists whose lives are in danger. Some, like the sex-worker advocates from Southeast Asia he tutored, had limited knowledge of computers. Others, like a group of students Appelbaum trained at a seminar in Qatar, are highly sophisticated: One worked on the government's censorship network, another works for a national oil company, and a third created an Al-Jazeera message board that allows citizens to post comments anonymously. In Mauritania, the country's military regime was forced to abandon its efforts to censor the Internet after a dissident named Nasser Weddady wrote a guide to Tor in Arabic and distributed it to opposition groups. "Tor rendered the government's efforts completely futile," Weddady says. "They simply didn't have the know-how to counter that move."
In distributing Tor, Appelbaum doesn't distinguish between good guys and bad guys. "I don't know the difference between one theocracy or another in Iran," he says. "What's important to me is that people have communication free from surveillance. Tor shouldn't be thought of as subversive. It should be thought of as a necessity. Everyone everywhere should be able to speak and read and form their own beliefs without being monitored. It should get to a point where Tor is not a threat but is relied upon by all levels of society. When that happens, we win."
As the public face of an organization devoted to anonymity, Appelbaum finds himself in a precarious position. It is in Tor's interest to gain as much publicity as possible — the more people who allow their computers to serve as relays, the better. But he also lives in a state of constant vigilance, worried that his enemies — envious hackers, repressive foreign regimes, his own government — are trying to attack him. His compromise is to employ a two-tiered system. He maintains a Twitter account and has posted thousands of photos on Flickr. Yet he takes extensive measures to prevent any private information — phone numbers, e-mail addresses, names of friends — from appearing.
"There are degrees of privacy," he says. "The normal thing nowadays is to conspicuously report on one another in a way that the Stasi couldn't even dream of. I don't do that. I do not enter my home address into any computer. I pay rent in cash. For every online account, I generate random passwords and create new e-mail addresses. I never write checks, because they're insecure — your routing number and account number are all that are required to empty your bank account. I don't understand why anyone still uses checks. Checks are crazy."
When he travels, if his laptop is out of his sight for any period of time, he destroys it and then throws it away; the concern is that someone might have bugged it. He is often driven to extreme measures to get copies of Tor through customs in foreign countries. "I studied what drug smugglers do," he says. "I wanted to beat them at their own game." He shows me a nickel. Then he slams it on the floor of his apartment. It pops open. Inside there is a tiny eight- gigabyte microSD memory card. It holds a copy of Tor.
As fast as Tor has grown, government surveillance of the Internet has expanded even more rapidly. "It's unbelievable how much power someone has if they have unfettered access to Google's databases," Appelbaum says.
As he is quick to point out, oppressive foreign regimes are only part of the problem. In the past few years, the U.S. government has been quietly accumulating libraries of data on its own citizens. Law enforcement can subpoena your Internet provider for your name, address and phone records. With a court order, they can request the e-mail addresses of anyone with whom you communicate and the websites you visit. Your cellphone provider can track your location at all times.
"It's not just the state," says Appelbaum. "If it wanted to, Google could overthrow any country in the world. Google has enough dirt to destroy every marriage in America."
But doesn't Google provide funding for Tor?
"I love Google," he says. "And I love the people there. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are cool. But I'm terrified of the next generation that takes over. A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. At some point people are going to realize that Google has everything on everyone. Most of all, they can see what questions you're asking, in real time. Quite literally, they can read your mind."
Now, in the wake of the Wikileaks controversy, Appelbaum has gone underground, concealing his whereabouts from even his closest friends. He suspects his phones are tapped and that he's being followed. A week after being questioned in Newark, he calls me from an undisclosed location, my request to contact him having been passed along through a series of intermediaries. The irony of his situation isn't lost on him.
"I'll be using Tor a lot more than I ever did — and I used it a lot," he says, his voice uncharacteristically sober. "I have become one of the people I have spent the last several years of my life protecting. I better take my own advice."
THANKS, WIKILEAKS, FOR MAKING THE WORLD A MORE DANGEROUS PLACE
WikiLeaks is a whistle-blowing Web site that became the focus of a global debate over its role in the release of thousands of confidential messages about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conduct of American diplomacy around the world. The once-fringe Web site, which aims to bring to light secret information about governments and corporations, was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, an Australian activist and journalist, along with a group of like-minded activists and computer experts.
Wikileaks made its initial reputation by publishing material as diverse as documents about toxic dumping in Africa, protocols from Guantánamo Bay, e-mail messages from Sarah Palin’s personal account and 9/11 pager messages. When it published tens of thousands of confidential military field reports about the two wars in July 2010, it was denounced by American officials for endangering the lives of soldiers and civilians. The release in late December of some of a trove of 250,000 diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks led to anger and criticism from officials worldwide.
Wikileaks made the material on Iraq and Afghanistan available to a number of news organizations, including The New York Times, in advance. The Guardian shared the diplomatic cable collection with The New York Times. By early December, Wikileaks had posted only a few thousand on its Web site.
According to a December 2006 cable, shortly after the radiation poisoning in London of a former K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, a senior Russian official asserted that Moscow had been tailing his killers before he died but had been waved off by Britain’s security services. The Russian assertion, denied by British officials, seemed to revive a theory that the British intelligence services played a murky role in the killing.
The uproar over the release of the diplomatic cables coincided with mounting legal troubles for Mr. Assange, who is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and molestation involving two Swedish women. He has denied the allegations, saying the relations were consensual, but on Dec. 7, 2010 police in Britain arrested him on a Swedish warrant connected with the alleged sex offenses. Mr. Assange was initially denied bail by a London court but later released on bail of $315,000. He is fighting extradition to Sweden.
Within 12 hours of the decision to deny Mr. Assange bail, attacks on the Web sites of WikiLeaks’s “enemies,” as defined by the organization’s impassioned supporters around the world, caused several corporate Web sites to become inaccessible or slow down markedly.
In a campaign that had some Internet activists declaring the start of a "cyberwar," the battle-lines are being drawn ever clearer. Supporters of Mr. Assange cast him as a crusader, and foes, including the Obama administration, infuriated by revelations of sensitive material whose publication, say he threatens American security interests, alliances and lives.
In December, it was reported that federal prosecutors in Washington were looking for evidence that would enable them to charge Mr. Assange with helping the Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information. The American prosecutors believe that if he did so, they could charge Mr. Assange as a conspirator rather than a passive recipient of the documents.
The Web Site
WikiLeaks has a core group of five full-time volunteers and there are 800 to 1,000 people whom the group can call on for expertise in areas like encryption, programming and writing news releases.
Mr. Assange used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks in 2006, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.
In recent months, some of Mr. Assange’s closest associates in WikiLeaks have abandoned him, calling him autocratic and capricious and accusing him of reneging on WikiLeaks’s original pledge of impartiality to launch a concerted attack on the United States
WikiLeaks publishes its material on its own site, which is housed on a few dozen servers around the globe, including places like Sweden, Belgium and the United States that the organization considers friendly to journalists and document leakers.
By being everywhere, yet in no exact place, WikiLeaks is, in effect, beyond the reach of any institution or government that hopes to silence it.
Because it relies on donations, however, WikiLeaks says it has struggled to keep its servers online. It has found moral, but not financial, support from some news organizations, like The Guardian in Britain, which said in January that “If you want to read the exposés of the future, it’s time to chip in.”
WikiLeaks has grown increasingly controversial as it has published more material. (The United States Army called it a threat to its operations in a report in March 2010.) Many have tried to silence the site; in Britain, WikiLeaks has been used a number of times to evade injunctions on publication by courts that ruled that the material would violate the privacy of the people involved. The courts reversed themselves when they discovered how ineffectual their rulings were.
With Mr. Assange's arrest, the authorities he has reveled in provoking will have a new degree of control over his movements, though not necessarily over WikiLeaks. His long months as a self-described refugee are over. Accustomed to a life in the shadows, staying with friends, paying cash and communicating mainly by Twitter, he has added a sense of mystery to the celebrity — or notoriety — that has developed around him.
In a reaction to his legal troubles in Britain, a message on the WikiLeaks Twitter feed said the group was “let down by the U.K. justice system’s bizarre decision to refuse bail” to its founder, but added that the releases of secret State Department cables that began last week would “continue as planned.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said that American officials were conducting “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature” into the WikiLeaks releases, a position the Obama administration has held for months, since WikiLeaks began releasing secret Pentagon documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars in summer.
But the London arrest could complicate matters for Washington, backing up any criminal case it might begin against Mr. Assange behind the Swedish investigation. Sweden and Britain have extradition treaties with the United States, but both allow extradition rulings to be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
An early attempt to shut down the Wikileaks site involved a United States District Court judge in California. In 2008, Judge Jeffrey S. White ordered the American version of the site shut down after it published confidential documents concerning a subsidiary of a Swiss bank. Two weeks later he reversed himself, in part recognizing that the order had little effect because the same material could be accessed on a number of other “mirror sites.”
The Army has charged Pfc. Bradley Manning with disclosing a classified video of an American helicopter attack to WikiLeaks, as well as more than 150,000 classified diplomatic cables. The private is also the main suspect in the disclosure to WikiLeaks of more than 90,000 classified documents about the Afghan war.
Hundreds of Internet activists mounted retaliatory attacks in early December 2010 on the Web sites of multinational companies and other organizations they deemed hostile to the antisecrecy organization and its jailed founder.
Targets of the attacks, in which activists overwhelmed the sites with traffic, included the Web site of MasterCard, which had stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks; Amazon.com, which revoked the use of its computer servers; and PayPal, which stopped accepting donations for Mr. Assange’s group. Visa.com was also affected by the attacks, as were the Web sites of the Swedish prosecutor’s office and the lawyer representing the two women whose allegations of sexual misconduct are the basis of Sweden’s extradition bid.
The speed and range of the attacks appeared to show the resilience of the backing among computer activists for Mr. Assange, who has appeared increasingly isolated in recent months amid the furor stoked by WikiLeaks’s Web site posting of hundreds of thousands of secret Pentagon documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The cyberattacks in Mr. Assange’s defense seem to have been coordinated by Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of activist computer hackers who have singled out other groups before, including the Church of Scientology.
Anonymous claimed responsibility for the MasterCard attack in Web messages and, according to one activist associated with the group, conducted waves of attacks on other companies. The group said the actions were part of an effort called Operation Payback, which began as a way of punishing companies that attempted to stop Internet file-sharing and movie downloads.
The cyberattacks on corporations were seen by many supporters as a counterstrike against the United States. Mr. Assange’s online supporters have widely condemned the Obama administration as the unseen hand coordinating efforts to choke off WikiLeaks by denying it financing and suppressing its network of computer servers.
Murder by Radiation Poisoning
A cable, dated Dec. 26, 2006, and marked “secret,” was one of several in the WikiLeaks trove that tried to examine the still unanswered question of who exactly ordered the use of a rare radioactive isotope, polonium 210, to poison a former K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, who died on Nov. 23, 2006. Russia produces polonium commercially, but the process is closely guarded and British investigators have concluded that the isotope could not have been easily diverted without high-level intervention.
A senior Russian official asserted that Moscow had been tailing Mr. Litvinenko's killers before he died but officials from British security services stopped them. The Russian assertion, denied by British officials, appeared to breathe life into a theory that the British played some kind of role in the killing — a notion voiced at the time by some in Moscow to deflect allegations of the Kremlin’s involvement in the murder.
A separate cable from Paris suggested that at least one senior American official, Daniel Fried, seemed skeptical of statements by Vladimir V. Putin — then Russia’s president and now prime minister — that he was unaware of the events leading to the killing, which Britain has blamed on another former K.G.B. officer, Andrei K. Lugovoi.
Mr. Lugovoi, now a member of the Russian Parliament, has denied British charges that he murdered Mr. Litvinenko by slipping polonium into a teapot at a British hotel where the two men met on Nov. 1, 2006. Russia has refused a British request for Mr. Lugovoi’s extradition and the relationship between two countries has not fully recovered from deep strains after Mr. Litvinenko’s death.
JENINE MAYRING’S ZOMBIE BOYFRIEND GETS RECOGNITION
'Zombie Boyfriend' Turns Heads at International Davey Awards
NEW YORK, Nov. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The winners of the 2010 Davey Awards have been announced by the International Academy of the Visual Arts. "Zombie Boyfriend," a music video produced by Brooklyn Girl Productions and directed by Jenine Mayring for indie artist Emii, won a Silver Davey Award.
Award-winning director Jenine Mayring commented, "It's especially exciting to collaborate with a female recording artist to help convey their unique perspective visually. To have our music video be recognized by the IAVA is equally as exciting, and I am deeply honored to receive such a prestigious award." The recent accolade marks the second Davey Award for multi-hyphenate Jenine Mayring. In 2007, she won a Gold Davey Award for producing a regional television commercial entitled "Making Faces" for NORMS Restaurants, a chain based in southern California.
With over 4,000 entries from across the U.S. and around the world, the Davey Awards honors the finest creative work from the best small firms, agencies and companies worldwide. The Davey Awards is judged and overseen by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), a 200+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current IAVA membership represents a "Who's Who" of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms, including Sotheby's Institute of Art, Yahoo!, Estee Lauder, Wired, Insight Interactive, The Webby Awards, Bath & Body Works, Brandweek, Polo Ralph Lauren, ADWEEK, Alloy, Coach, iNDELIBLE, MTV, Victoria's Secret, HBO, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Myspace.com, and many others.
"The International Academy of the Visual Arts was honored to have once again participated in the International Davey Awards competition. We were truly amazed and excited at the overall caliber and quality of this year's pool of entries," noted Linda Day, Executive Director of the IAVA. She added, "The Davey Awards serves as the benchmark for recognizing creative excellence and continues to raise the bar in honoring the best work from small agencies and firms worldwide. Congratulations to the 'Creative Davids' at the forefront of their industry, helping to push the limits in creativity and design."
Napaman's Best Wines of the Year
Napaman’s Best Wines of the Year -- And the top wine was white!
2005 Domaine Marius DeLarche Corton-Charlemagne, Reserve
When the white wine at dinner blows all the heavy-hitter reds out of the water, you know you’ve had a special wine. Which was certainly the case for this wine, making it qualify for Best Wine – Red or White – of the Year.
In fact, at one dinner, it actually outscored all of the best reds, which I tasted this year, making it the first time ever that my highest scoring Best Wine of the Year is a white.
I brought a bottle of the 2005 Marius DeLarche Corton-Charlemagne Reserve to dinner at Bardessono, in Yountville, thinking the white Burgundy might make a pleasant dinner opener. Little did I suspect it would be the wine of the dinner… of the night.. and of the year!
The perfectly aged, 5-year-old wine had rich butter notes and a surreal finish of fruit, lingering in the mouth for a good 30 seconds.
Exhibiting sensational richness of fruit and a dreamlike weight in the mouth, this wine rated 98 points. Picky-picky, probably should have been 99 or 100.
Our dinner hosts, Rob and Lexi Adler, brought a sumptuous 1998 Valpolicella to dinner and I brought several additional wines, including a 1999 Barolo and a 2000 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but these killer reds just didn’t have the magic of the DeLarche.
I was so enthralled with this Corton-Charlemagne, in fact, that over the next two months, I pulled additional bottles from my cellar. One bottle was a close, 97 point, experience, while the other was a distant 93-pointer. Never forget: bottle variation is alive and well in even the most expensive, most pedigreed, wines in the world.
2003 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
The year was barely a week old when we opened what was one of the top wines of the year to come!
Carol and her twin sister, Shelly, celebrated a significant birthday at one of our favorite Napa Valley restaurants, Tra Vigne. For the occasion, I brought along a magnum of 2003 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District.
The wine blew away everything else on the table, and there were a considerable number of bottles on the table. The Pine Ridge was harmonious, balanced, filled with ripe red and black fruits, and loads of personality.
If this wine were a car, it would be an impressive, 500 horsepower, BMW M6, capable of blowing away the competition with elegance and speed, given the firepower under the hood. This was the single best bottle of Pine Ridge, (a perennial favorite in our cellar), which we’ve ever had. 97 points.
2000 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Hot on the heels of the Pine Ridge experience, Farmstead Restaurant opened in St. Helena and we had another top wine of the year, though in our least favorite restaurant of the year. (Maybe we should start an annual roundup of least favorite restaurants, too?)
Friends brought a bottle of 2000 Bryant Family Vineyard to dinner, while we brought a 1995 Leoville las Cases. Parker scored them equally 95 points upon release.
I thought our Las Cases, a St. Julien Bordeaux with great pedigree, showed insufficient complexity and had muted, muddled, top and bottom notes. A rather punk bottle, barely worth 91 points.
But the Bryant Family Cab – ahhh, symphonic bliss in a bottle. Syrupy thick, texturally rich (very silken), and alive with juicy flavors. Loads of ripe black fruits, a hint of chocolate, too. Couldn’t get enough of this one, and scored it 97 points.
The 2000 Bryant, like all vintages, was produced from 100% Cabernet, and was the handiwork of winemaker Helen Turley (from the first vintage in 1992 through 2002).
The premium today on this 10-year-old wine is somewhat staggering. Wine merchants across the country are charging as much as $700 a bottle, considerably more than what this wine cost on release, when 800 cases reached the market. I guess wine lovers have discovered how good this wine is – and apologies from napaman for putting additional pressure on pricing with this encomium.
1999 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Our good table mates, Barry Stern and Lea Kendall, joined us at Cantinetta Piero last April, bringing with them a bottle of 1999 Domaine du Pegau.
Barry and Lea had brought the 1998 vintage of this wine to a dinner last year, earning them – and the wine – top spot in our Best Wines of 2009. I scored the 1998 vintage a perfect 100 points. It was Napaman’s Wine of Last Year.
The 1999 vintage isn’t far behind in finesse or finish. It’s an arousing wine, filled with herbs, leather, ripe red berries, and a Virginia tobacco denouement. In a word: Delicious.
Imagine having two wines, this 1999 Pegau and the 2000 Vieille Julienne (description follows) at the same table with some mighty impressive food. Life doesn’t get much better. 97 points for the Pegau.
2000 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf-du-Pape
As mentioned, we dined with Barry Stern and Lea Kendall at one of our favorite new restaurants, Cantinetta Piero, in Yountville, where they serve very well prepared Italian fare. Of particular note is their selection of mixed, house-cured salume, which makes an ideal table starter.
On leaving home, I had grabbed the 2000 Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf-du-Pape, curious to see how the wine was evolving. I’d had one bottle earlier out of a six-pack I own and recall that it was a stunner; perfectly focused, elegantly dressed, ready for prime-time, a knock-out of a wine.
The bead, texture, and finish on the bottle opened with Barry and Lea were all in perfect harmony. 97 points.
For the record: Five months later, in September, we had a third bottle from my half-case and it was equally as impressive; uber-complex, almost syrupy thick, a great rush of flavors followed by a lengthy middle palate revealing dark fruits, bramble, and garrigue. 97 points again.
2000 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf-du-Pape
This was the single best bottle of this vintage, which I’ve had from two cases purchased upon release from Kermit Lynch, in Berkeley.
We enjoyed this wine at the home of Tom and Linda Scheibal. Tom had gone into the wet forests south of Calistoga in the morning to forage for mushrooms. He found a gold mine of fresh chanterelles and picked and stuffed 15 pounds into a pillowcase. Linda, who is an extremely talented cook, made fresh egg pasta, and tossed the barely-sautéed chanterelles into her lighter-than-air, golden tagliatelli.
In general, I have been disappointed with many of my 2000 vintage Chateauneufs-du-Pape. The vintage was initially described as stellar, but I have found many 2000s, including earlier opened bottles of Vieux Telegraph, to border on austere and angular, certainly from what critics hailed as a “great vintage.”
But this 2000, from one of my favorite workhorse houses, was simply sensational. It displayed fresh ripe red fruit, had vibrant top notes and a chorus of flavors at the finish, all singing in harmony. An ideal complement to Linda’s dinner. 96 points.