Social Media and the Virtual Reality of the Irish Political Class: No 1

FearTo learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise” Voltaire.

We don’t see the people who are doing real things getting enough props. We often see politicians who are everywhere but nowhere at the same goddamn time. You know the kind of person: You see them everywhere on television but nowhere in front of your face. ” Chuck D

“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits, in the classic formulation. Now, it has long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist, with whatever suffering and injustice that it entails, as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can. At this stage of history either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity, sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny for anyone to control. As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must — namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may well be essential to survival.” Noam Chomsky

It has been apparent to many people in this state, across Europe and much further afield that the professional political class are living in a sort of virtual reality. We have political system that has been described as corrupt in all areas of public life in the Mahon report. We have elected government ministers who come onto the state broadcaster stating clearly that lying is an electoral strategy, and we have political organisations that opportunistically use the massive rise in suicides in the state to try deflect the role their decisions play in the rising tide of material and emotion misery of our society. We have successive government ministers beholden to finance capital, and we live within a neoliberal politcal system where the power of capital continues to squash the possibility of genuinely democratic equality. We live is a state where tax laws are written by the same Irish legal firms that benefit from Ireland position in the global tax dodging network. The main political organisation in government, Fine Gael was explicit in saying any tax rises on the rich and on private corporations cannot be countenanced unless the most impoverished in our society got kicked a lot more so as not to upset universal kamra, the ever vague but omnipotent entity know as the “confidence of the market”.  Few professional political commentators ever seems to point out that if ‘confidence’ is the only thing holding this system up, perhaps the system itself is a fundamentally flawed concept and we need something completely different.  I dunno this might be a bit out there, but something founded upon care, compassion, social need might be a start. But I would say that being a left wing anarchist extremist. Maybe Im a dreamer. But Im not the only one.

Meanwhile back in the real world we have a government minister Kathleen Lynch, with responsibility for mental health saying she will consider setting up a support system funded by us to help TDs and Senators ‘deal’ with increasing levels of public anger, whilst at the same time slashing public resources funded by us on our public mental health. Then we have FG TD Mary Mitchell O Connor releasing a press release saying “It is impossible to quantify how many deaths have been caused or contributed to in this country by the negative elements of social media. The unconstrained venom being directed at individuals on Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube is undoubtedly doing untold damage.” The contradicitions may not be immediately obvious, but if suicides due to social media are “impossible to quantify” how can they be “undoubtedly doing untold damage”

No one can condemn serious attempts to look at how peer abuses amongst school kids affects them and to try to reduce harm, however people like Pat Rabbitte etc have specifically conflated bullying within younger kids with people being completely pissed off at the structural failings of our political and economic system.

There are no government press releases on suicides relating to the indignity, social stigma and powerless that often comes from being forced into poverty or unemployment, or from the multiple and complex fears causes by threatening letters sent by private money lending banks and organisations. Using the framework and logic of the public pronouncements made on social media as factors in death, perhaps we should ourselves should be creating our own counter narratives. Would the possibility of change and equality in our society be better served by properly describing many of the deaths as “assisted suicide” since banks and government decisions have help facilitate peoples decisions to take there own lives. Or should we follow the lead of people in Spain who now reframe suicide caused by the macro political-economic system as murder.

Its hard to know whether the attitudes and statements from government are founded on intellectual incoherency or collective psychological dishonesty, but it is as if the present political class feel that they have some intrinsic right to live behind a firewall of their own victimhood, sealed off from the social consequences of their actions on our lives. However their attitude to peoples ability to use social media tools and comment public spaces afforded us via Twitter, blogs, comments sections etc is telling. Nor is it restricted to Ireland. Its a global issue with very real consequences. This week Rashid Saleh al-Anzi was sentenced to jail in the ‘friendly’ dictatorship in Kuwait for sending a tweet calling for political reform and an end to corruption. This got reported in the Irish Times. Last week noted right wing ‘economist” Jim Power called for ‘less democracy and more benign dictatorship’ on Newstalk. His interviewer let this without exploring any of the implications for such proto-facist free marketeerism. Once again it was ordinary folks using social media technology that took up that baton.

We are basically being told to shut the fuck about our own existences, about our material poverty and our individual and social fears for the future. Even as we are being pissed upon, we are being spoken too ask the rabble, the mob, the motley children, to be scolded and put in our place by our more learned others. The instinctive response to that is a simple and clear “No. Fuck Them.”

Is it ‘polite’? Is its ‘nice’? No its not. Of course its not. There is nothing polite about introducing charges for people needed chemotreatment, there is nothing polite about hiding 25 years worth of meeting minutes of the Clearing House Group, there is  nothing polite about poverty or house eviction. Theres nothing polite or nice getting legal letters from money lender taking you to court whilst the coked up fuckers in global high finance and the Irish professional legal firms who screwed us over indemnify themselves with law and corporate structures they designed precisely for that purpose. So excuse us if we lose our decorum a little. There’s a war going on outside and its a war on our lives. Its a war of inequality and a war against democracy and justice.

Fuck’em for evening daring to demand I/you/we ‘be nice’ as I/you/we watch people around hurting and fearful. Fuck’em for trying to encourage us to internalise their bullshit worldviews and values and lack of social imagination. Fuck’em for being so stupid as to think we are not aware of what goes on around us. But saying Fuck’em is merely an emotional indicator, and on it own it is just a temporary release. The refusal to be bound by the logic of market democracy is an orientation. If we aim only to be able to criticise, rather than to change, if the limits of our desire are only to be able to tweet or make comment, rather than to act together to assert full authority over the decisions that affect our lives we will remain in an echo chamber of our collective dispairs. What we have now is the ability to be visible to each other in ways previously impossible. It will take more than 140 characters to really challenge unjust power but making a new meanings, new social imaginations from our own narratives, about our actual existences as they are now, is central to making what previously seem impossible possible.


That Sunday Business Post/RED C Poll & “objective journalism”

Red C Poll Cover

So the Sunday Business Post commissioned a poll by RED C. I’ve embedded the full report below.

Nothing out of the ordinary in the questions. It looked at attitudes to abortion, and the state of popular support in the population for the political organizations that jockey to be the Troika managers of your lives.

Some results got lots of airtime and covered by all the mainstream media outlets. However as noted by the good folks over at Rabble the  mainstream media ignored a  very significant section of the poll.

Within the part ignored (page 11 below), results showed that of those polled, 88% wanted to see a rise in taxation of incomes of €100,000 and over.  This was the highest figure for any of the questions posed by RED C, and yet not one journalist in Ireland has bothered to report on this in the context of Wednesdays forthcoming blood bath budget. The Sunday Business Post, which commissioned the poll, didn’t even bother mentioning it or expanding on the implication of such high support for tax increases on the rich.  67% of those polled are against any cuts to welfare support such as child benefit or  to state pensions. Again this hasn’t been reported.

It says lots about the interests of corporate media when statistics directly relating to the upcoming budget are sought from the public, only to become airbrushed out of mainstream media’s conversation. Why did they bother their hole getting RED C to ask the questions in the first place….

Online privacy and security across our communities.

This 392 page, Creative Commons licensed handbook is designed to help those with no prior experience to protect their basic human rights to privacy in networked, digital domains. By covering a broad array of topics and use contexts it is written to help anyone wishing to understand and then quickly mitigate many kinds of vulnerability using free, open-source tools. Read it, act on it and share. Follow @cryptoparty for updates etc.

A Note From Below To The Yes Voter.

“WE, the working poor, the unemployed, the people with the material least have a functional value is neoliberal society. We aren’t just blackmailed or threatened. We are the blackmail, we are the threat. We are Ghosts. You might see us, you might recognise us, Shit, you might even tweet us.  But we will remains Ghosts to you, the see-through collateral damage of a state that is told by its owners that it must be the economy of their desire rather than it be a society of our desire.

Like an inverse cruelty lottery, our growing numbers, our visibility, our actual existence,  is blackmail writ large. Ghosts seen but without voice as Ghosts with voices are people.  “Take the hit, vote Yes, suck up this policy”  they say, “or you will join the growing ranks”.  The professional PR teams from Merrion Row place such incendiary rhetorical devices carefully yet irregularly. To talk solely of ‘bombs’ and ‘guns to our head’ is a dangerous game in Irish politics. They know that, we know that.

Instead explicit vocal threats are wrapped up for consumption with phrases such as “the benefit of the country” or “patriotism” that melt away like ‘the body of christ’, sticking to your mouth and the back of your gullet. The swallowing is hard because you know it to be untrue, you know yourself that this emanates from mouths within opportunistic political organisations,  and is scripted by professional liars, both that have been part of the fabric of abuse and corruption since the states inception.  Our health must suffer for the collective health of Mythical Mother Ireland is seems.

Irelands new middle classes, our ‘relatively secure’ – a few paychecks away from an economic cliff themselves –  are taught to see us as a manifestation of their own fears.  They/you act like scaffold and window dressing to an empty pyramid of injustice and power-over that has no moral legitimacy in our eyes. Drape what you like on the scaffolding, but the Wizards of Oz has bolted. Long live the Wizard of Oz. We reject the legitimacy of other human beings to treat our lives as the waged slaves of the gambling rich. We reject their authority to make our futures dependent upon the protection of the institutionally corrupt. We will burn their debt before we let them burn our futures with their debt.

Your/our elected ‘leader’ even refused to come on to TV to debate and discuss financial dictates and capitalist desires inherent in this referendum. This in a time where the internet has been around for the life time of some voters! The PR teams manage this man – supposedly who put himself before us to serve us – to not talk about the referendum. They may mange their reality, but they will never manage ours.

So yes today in this Yes vote we recognized our function. Our function today is to remain materially impoverished so that the possibility of you joining us keeps you in your place. We are the humans that manifest the PD matra that inequality is necessary. We are the Ghosts of neoliberalism and representative ‘democracy’. Today you may even celebrate a Yes because it reduces your fear of becoming one of us. The gun remains at your head, but the finger was lifted off the trigger. Are we stable yet?

We give a warning based in care, solidarity and an expression simply of another humanity and another way of doing this. We are not Ghosts to each other. We will continue to dig at the foundation of this disgusting economic and political system and its immoral arithmetic. It was with our bodies that we built ghost estates only to become Ghosts ourselves. But Ghosts have memories. Ghosts know how to care for each other. Ghosts know how to love as they fight for a society that places the eradication of social injustice as its primary function. As we dig at the foundations to build something new we make sure with give encouragement to you in the middle but really, like us, outside. We carry you, whilst you carry fear. The burden is heavy. Let go of the scaffolding, Let go off your fear. Say out loud “I’m afraid of no Ghosts”, see us as humans to struggle with and beside and we will catch you.”

An unemployed labourer.

Two Irish arrested in FBI Lulzsec sweep.

UPDATE 1 19.13pm from RTE website

The FBI says O’Cearrbhail hacked into the personal e-mail account of a garda. With this information he then learned about how to access a conference call that the Garda, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies.

The FBI then says accessed that call, recorded it and distributed it.

A man was arrested in Dublin in connection with the international operation.

“Working with international colleagues as part of ongoing investigations into computer hacking, a male was arrested this morning,” a spokesman for the gardaí said.

“He is currently detained in Terenure Garda Station”, said the spokesman, adding that the suspect could be held for questioning for 24 hours without charge.



There was a series of arrests across the US and several in Europe as the FBI rounded up 6 hackers and digital activist as part of a crackdown on the Anonymous offshoot Lulzsec. Several of the arrest are actually rearrests.

Those arrested included a 19 year old from Birr, Offaly Donncha O Cearrgbhail  (Donncha Carroll)  and another 25 year old Darren Martyn. Darren faces  charges of two counts of computer hacking conspiracy, each count with a max of 10 years.

Donncha is charged with “one count of with one count of computer hacking conspiracy, for which he faces 10 years in prison. He is also charged in the complaint with one count of intentionally disclosing an unlawfully intercepted wire communication, for which he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison” according to the FBI

The charge sheets as presented by the FBI presser – see bottom- actually mentions the Fine Gael website hack of January when according to the party details of 2,000 subscribers were stolen, according to RTE reports. Fine Gael themselves released a statement back them saying the site was “professionally hacked”.  One assumes the use of the word “professionally” was less about having any evidence that people were paid to do it, and more about trotting out excuses given to them by US company ElectionMall that was actually running the site. Wouldn’t want to be seen to be cracked by amateurs eh? Donncha was arrested and released w/o charge last year relating to the FG hack.

So the charges facing both are pretty serious. 10 years in the nick is no laughing matter. But something struck me very quickly reading the charges. Donncha  is being charged with “intentionally disclosing an unlawfully intercepted wire communication”. This relates to this hacked phone conversation between a rather easily amused FBI agent and two English cops at the Met.  But heres the rub. I downloaded that same MP3 file and rendered it through a cracked version of Camstudio with a jpeg, and uploaded to my youtube account.

Its been watched/listened over 21,000 times. If that’s not  “intentionally disclosing an unlawfully intercepted wire communication” I don’t know what is.  So there is couple of options here. Either these charges are kinda meaningless in a age of the fluid and free flowing exchange of digital information, or I’m equally guilty of the charges as mentioned.  What ever it mean, the extradition of this folks to the US needs to be resisted.

Other arrested include Hector Xavier Monsegur  aka Sabu, who is being pinned as one of the core members of Lulzsec. His wrap sheet is also linked at the end of this article, but includes hacks going back as far as Paypal, but also the infamous HBGary hack which exposed a plan by private security firms to orchestrate  political smearing campaign to discredit Wikileaks just after the release of the intercepted US embassy cables.  I’ve written about here.

I have followed the evolving of movements within the Anonymous network since back  late 2010 and about a year ago i wrote a rather longish piece about a more obvious political narrative linking the uprising in Tunisia with and uprising in Wisconsin.

Lulzsec and Antisec seemed very capital P political, but also quite brazen and media conscious. I wrote about an attack on Nato here which at the time seemed a much to be biting off and all about saying “we are here”. In that sense its clear that the game was as important as the action. You dont get to shit on Nato’s door and do so publicly and not expect to provoke a response.

So its safe the assume that the wider western intelligence community has eyes ears and trojans locked within the Anonymous community. The FBI themselves have said that the flipped Saba, and in doing so got exactly the response so far online. One of paranioa, recrimination and lots of variations of “I told you so”. Anyone who is familiar with the risk of undercover policing surveillance know this response.  Its one that state/corporate security agencies try to provoke.

But its worth noting some useful points, most of are made already over at death and taxes so I’ll quote extensively

As reported by Fox News yesterday, LulzSec “mastermind” and Anonymous hacker Sabu (real name: Hector Xavier Monsegur) was flipped by the FBI. Big surprise. Give the FBI a cookie.

There has been a widespread belief that Sabu was a rat for quite some time within the hacking community—an August 2011 chat between Sabu and Virus, for instance. Virus quite prophetically wrote in that infamous chat: “I’m absolutely positive, you already got raided, and are setting your friends up and when they’re done draining you for information and arrests they’ll sentence you and it’ll make nose.”

Beyond that, in a community wherein anyone can have a voice, it stands to reason that subversive government influences are present, whether passively watching or actively suggesting. Disinformation, false flag operations, and immunity: these are the human intelligence gathering techniques that spy agencies use to infiltrate movements.

With that in mind, one of two possibilities exist: The FBI has transformed Anonymous into one monolithic false-flag operation, or agents take down hackers the way they take down other targets—with one or multiple informants. Judging the FBI’s efforts purely on the frequency of Anonymous’ activities throughout the last year, it’s probably safe to say that the FBI hasn’t accomplished the former.

If this conclusion is wildly off-base, and the former is true, then one has to entertain the following possibilities: the Stratfor hack was socially engineered by the FBI; Stratfor allowed it; and the FBI manipulated Anonymous into a partnership with WikiLeaks in the publication of the Global Intelligence Files. Then, of course, one must wonder if WikiLeaks itself is not a false-flag operation. This scenario seems rather unlikely, especially in a world where those who attempt to regulate the Internet are always one step behind.

Where then does this leave Anonymous and its supporters?

Again, judging from Anonymous’ efforts in the last year, which included a hybridization with Occupy Wall Street, the Stratfor hack,  a partnership with WikiLeaks, an infiltration of the FBI and Scotland Yard’s conference call on Anonymous, Operation ANTI-ACTA (which struck the Polish government), and the CIAPC hack (following Elisa’s blockade of The Pirate Bay), amongst other projects; it would seem seem that Anonymous, as a global collective, has grown far beyond LulzSec and Sabu’s influence—that it has indeed shed Sabu’s influence.

Anonymous’ efforts are truly global now and ever-shifting. Unless people believe that stool pigeon Sabu’s opera singing is evidence of some international, multi-state false flag conspiracy to nab radical hackers, Anonymous likely won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Here’s a suggestion to the FBI: Maybe you should spend a little less time pursuing Anonymous and put more effort into bringing to justice the white-collar criminals who crashed the economy in 2008, thereby pocketing billions and evaporating middle class savings, delaying retirement, and sending families into the grip of poverty; driving individuals to suicide, or illegal and prescription drug use to numb the pain; to theft, alcoholism, and welfare that the GOP hates so much; and saddling college graduates with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from which they won’t soon liberate themselves.

Yes, one can see how a DDoS attack launched against Sony Pictures would be a priority. The FBI does work for politicians after all, who are kept in office by the campaign donations of corporations

Here you can find the full details of the FBI charges on their press release

Heres the court sheets for sabu doxed of course

#OpIreland: Defacement of & Sean Sherlock TD doxed

What the defacement looks likeTonight, digital activists working within the Anonymous network have defaced a website “Get” Describing itself as a” Fantastic Irish Broadband Website featuring the latest deals from Every Irish Broadband provider ” the site has been hacked and  displaying a message “Hacked by Juzzy”.  A few click throughs brings you to a message from Anons. The hack is explained as being “grey hat”, not intentional damage but merely showing the site admins/owners that it is not secure. They did say they will be back.

However the website defacement is linked to the recent decision by Sean Sherlock TD to push ahead with draconian legislation that has been lobbied for by the “entertainment” corporations, but that has been resisted by both internet providers and ordinary users  of the net.  A petition of 80,000 was handed in to Sherlock but as  Minister for Research and Innovation he went ahead and signed into law a statutory instrument to amend copyright legislation In Ireland

Speaking with, Sherlock said that if the committee decides new legislation is required then the Government will embark on that course of action.

Sherlock said the key opportunity is to make Ireland a leader in the handling of copyright and intellectual property issues and at the same time be sensitive to the economic challenges and opportunities of the digital age. The Government, he said, does not want to issue proscriptive measures, at the same time it wants to allow the internet industry to flourish and help protect the rights of right holders

This basically is another way of saying Ireland, not content with being a tax haven for multinational giants so they can slush money through, is now also being marketed by dipshits like Sherlock as the country that will censor and clamp down on the free sharing of information and knowledge.  Its worth noting that this perhaps is being driven because Ireland is a tax haven. If large corporations register their Middle East, NorthAfrica, European and Asian HQ’s here for tax dodging purposed, they them come under our data legislation. By buying of legal firms to lobby for changes in legisaltion of gombeens like Sherlock, corporations get a double whammy.

It comes as no surprise that Ireland Inc will love to profit from censorship, but its little odd that the connections between how favorable tax legislation that attracts corporations opens the door for those same corporations to try and shape other laws while they are here.

Tonight some people have been sharing information on Sherlock himself

Heres some footage from one of the first anti SOPA demos last month on Feb 4

Update. Thanks to Maive Broslol for pointing out the petition numbers were 80,000 and not 8,000 as originally stated.

Wikileaks teams up with Anonymous & releases The Global Intelligence Files

Today Wikileaks has begun to release emails from Stratfor Intelligence that had been hacked by Anonymous at  Christmas. It an extradinary display of organisation to keep it secret, Anon have teamed up with Wikileaks to make public the communication between Stratfor and its high level coporate clients.  Wikileaks sent this tweet on 30nDec as an public acknowledgement that the files where on its servers

Wikileaks tweets that Stratfor files where recieved

Press release and more info on it her

The original hack by Anon over the christmas period as part of the LulzXmas operation. Its worth saying that nothing is actually stolen in any of these hacks, merely copied. However credit card details of high ranking staff and subscribers to Stratfor where used on a Robin Hood style spree that saw donation made to a variety of progressive charities using the credit card details. In cases like this the banks refund the card holders and charities get to keep the “donations”.

CNN reports that Stratfor as saying

” that thieves compromised its data systems in December and stole a large number of company e-mails, along with private data about its subscribers, employees and readers.

“Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” the company said about the leaked e-mails.

It said the release was “another attempt to silence and intimidate the company, and one we reject.”

“Stratfor will not be silenced and will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely upon,” the statement said.

Describing the e-mails as private property, Stratfor said they were written casually, with no expectation anyone outside the communication chain would ever see them.

“They should be read as such,” the company said. “Stratfor understands that this hack and the fallout from it, including the disclosures by Wikileaks, have created serious difficulties for our subscribers, friends and employees.”


Regardless of what Stratfor say this is a serious embarassment. Many of those operating under the banner of Anonymous can no longer be dismissed as nerdy wannabe, and the political/social justice articulation of many will be defining for those on the edges of this networked movement of digital direct action. These hacks are not only direct actions against covert agency’s but also create a political narrative and view on the world that centers war, capital and power as thee main blockages not simply to more egalitarian sharing of digital information, but indeed a more egalitarian society.

Whats interesting is the lack of UK papers involved as media partners following the very public spat between The Guardian and Assange who is awaiting out come of a extradition proceeding to Sweden where he faces serious charges of sexual assault. That there is no Irish media partners is perhaps no surprise to many, yet still poses the question.

From an activist perspective there initially seems to be much to be interested in, from the surveillance of the Yes Men and Bhophal activists to PDFs on terminology of corporate surveillance

You can browse the releases to “reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods”

You can follow the crowdsourcing research on twitter at #gifiles

Stratfor themselves have dismissed the leaks as meaningless

Fucking Our World For The Lulz.