Guccifer hacker – the one who leaked DNC emails – taunts US government I guess this is the world we live in now. With increasing attention being paid to the way that hacks of formerly secure and private information is destablilizing governments around the world, the hacker known as “Guccifer” has emerged from hiding (?) and […] [...more]
Guccifer hacker – the one who leaked DNC emails – taunts US government
I guess this is the world we live in now.
With increasing attention being paid to the way that hacks of formerly secure and private information is destablilizing governments around the world, the hacker known as “Guccifer” has emerged from hiding (?) and posted a sarcastic message on his/her/their blog:
I really hope you’ve missed me a lot. Though I see they didn’t let you forget my name. The U.S. intelligence agencies have published several reports of late claiming I have ties with Russia.
I’d like to make it clear enough that these accusations are unfounded. I have totally no relation to the Russian government. I’d like to tell you once again I was acting in accordance with my personal political views and beliefs.
Sure you were. Sure you were.
It must be noted that the original “Guccifer” is in jail , and this “nym” only came up after the hacking operation against the Democratic National Committee was exposed, and people started pointing fingers at the Kremlin. More on that in a bit.
Fireworks over the Kremlin
Guccifer had previously claimed to be Romanian. However, according to IT News, this claim proved to be false:
There’s good reason to doubt Guccifer’s claims. He or she — or they — previously claimed to be Romanian, but a journalist previously reported testing out Guccifer’s Romanian skills and found them lacking.
Guccifer 2.0’s re-emergence after a two-month hiatus from Twitter and his blog is certainly designed to stir the pot. Especially after Donald Trump spent weeks doubting Russian involvement in the hack and only this week changed his tune to match that of U.S. intelligence agencies.
It was based on that intelligence assessment that President Obama ordered sanctions against Russia and also vowed covert action.
considering a long trail of breadcrumbs pointing back to Russia left by the Guccifer hacker, as well as other circumstantial evidence, it appears more likely that Guccifer 2.0 is nothing but a disinformation or deception campaign by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own hack—and a hasty and sloppy one at that.
The main element pointing to Russia is the timeline of the events. For a year, hackers with ties to the Russian government—likely the FSB and the military GRU—were inside the servers of the DNC, stealing documents and even reading chats and emails, according to CrowdStrike and The Washington Post. Then, after the IT people at the DNC noticed weird network activities and called in CrowdStrike, the hackers got kicked out. This led to the operation being exposed in the media.
So when you start looking closer, some things leap out at you: The leaked documents contain metadata indicating they’ve been opened and processes on multiple virtual machines, as the independent cybersecurity researcher known as Pwn All The Things pointed out on Twitter on Wednesday. Some of these machines had different configurations, including one with the Cyrillic language setting and the username of “Iron Felix,” referencing Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first head of the Soviet intelligence services.
Again: this “lone hacker” uses many VMs, speaks Russian; username is founder of USSR secret police & likes laundering docs via Wikileaks.
Is a market-based solution the best way to solve the fake news problem? There’s been a sudden realization outside the cozy confines of digital business model nerds, that the open nature of the web has allowed an entire class of scammers to establish themselves, grow, and flourish. The end result of this has been that […] [...more]
Is a market-based solution the best way to solve the fake news problem?
There’s been a sudden realization outside the cozy confines of digital business model nerds, that the open nature of the web has allowed an entire class of scammers to establish themselves, grow, and flourish.
Actual journalists take notes and try to verify information before publishing. Fake News sites just make stuff up.
The end result of this has been that a substantial percentage of the U.S. public can no longer distinguish fact from fantasy. And they then vote accordingly. This is generally seen as a Bad Thing. Not just because one particular political party lost the recent election – if anything, the GOP is as up in arms over this as the Democrats, because they see their voting base as unruly and detached from reality, due to their reliance on fake news stories. The end game of an entire voting population lost to fantasy is that the country, already borderline ungovernable, becomes so splintered that it starts making really idiotic decisions (“Let’s invade Guatemala! They’re sending us Snake People disguised as immigrants!”).
A lot of journalism pundits have started to pile on, as the stories about scammers (and let’s just coin this phrase right here and now: LIE MERCHANTS) surface, and their behavior becomes more and more brazen. The last few weeks have seen:
All these trend lines have converged this year, and resulted in a toxic mess. We now have the worst of both worlds: the Lie Merchants are making coin hand over fist, because they spend nothing on reporting, research, fact-checking, interviews, verification, travel to personally witness events, or any of the other costs of an actual, functioning news organization.
Pages like Freedom Daily play to the biases of their audiences — and to those of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm — by sharing videos, photos, and links that demonize opposing points of view. They write explosive headlines and passages that urge people to click and share in order to show their support, or to express outrage. And in this tense and polarizing presidential election season, they continue to grow and gain influence.
There are a lot of solutions being bandied about, but today I will focus on one that to me, shows a lot of promise: cutting these Lie Merchants off from the advertising revenue that sustains their operations. This will necessitate some kind of human intervention; we are going to need to come up with a human-intermediated way of validating people who produce actual, factual, news.
The opening shot in this burgeoning war was fired by online ad-tech outfit DoubleVerify, with their DV Digital Impression Quality product, which purports to be able to block advertiser’s money flowing to fake news sites by blocking their ads from being displayed on Lie Merchant sites via the (broken, but that’s a different subject) ad exchanges.
Can a market-based solution to Lie Merchants work? Well, one of the biggest obstacles is going to be the public’s appetite for such ugly, idiotic brain fodder. But if we choke off the reason these fake news sites exist in the first place – that they are wildly profitable – then we are going to take an important step towards cleaning up the online news space.
OK, this is going to need a bit more work to turn into something that rivals the Cluetrain Manifesto, but there is definitely something here. [View the story “12 Steps for Media Sobriety: A Post-Trump Recovery Plan” on Storify] [...more]
OK, this is going to need a bit more work to turn into something that rivals the Cluetrain Manifesto, but there is definitely something here.
So this happened: I got asked to help train a team of 25 bright, ambitious, clever & talented people from Jiangsu Broadcasting. I believe they are headquartered in Nanjing, and they were set loose in Los Angeles for 20 days (missing out on some big & important holidays in China) to learn what they could […] [...more]
So this happened: I got asked to help train a team of 25 bright, ambitious, clever & talented people from Jiangsu Broadcasting. I believe they are headquartered in Nanjing, and they were set loose in Los Angeles for 20 days (missing out on some big & important holidays in China) to learn what they could about how to adapt to the shift from traditional broadcast TV, to a more multiplatform approach.
Here’s a gallery of images from the last day, when they had to present their projects.
Yeah, I read the caption to this too – “loser … instantly … falling into a pit…” and realized that China’s gameshows are totally badass.
Here are the contestants, perched on their precarious peninsulas (see what I did there?), waiting to have questions fired at them by the stern hosts.
The students partied it up while they were in L.A., and experimented with Vine to post pictures of themselves toasting their success with California wine.
As part of their presentation, one of the teams of students built sequences into their Prezi, where they took the letters U-S-C and used them to talk about how much they enjoyed their time in L.A. They were particularly impressed by the cheerleaders at our football matches.
I think this spells out “M V” — maybe they saw the old Village People “YMCA” hand gestures, and figured they’d one-up it?
So my students think I’m “Sully” from Monsters, Inc. Large, hairy, kinda goofy, by generally friendly and harmless. I guess this represents progress of a sort – usually, my students call me Hagrid.
They were challenged to think strategically about how best to incorporate social media into their marketing and programming mix.
Contestants on the singing contest show “The Hidden King” put on masks and perform against each other. Some of the masks really get ornate.
One of the other ways that the students considered to drive traffic, awareness and interactivity with their content, is to start using the gossip sites to send out photos of Chinese celebrities making fashion faux pas. Zippers undone, bad armpit hair-shaving, etc. Somewhere, Perez Hilton nods and murmurs appreciatively.
They’ve gotten the message that to compete against the market leader – a spinoff of “The Voice” – they are going to have to use a mix of social media strategies to try to build up a more engaged audience.
Unable to built a real high-quality mask of their own, the students resorted to sticking post-it notes to the foreheads of their singer. I gave them extra points for resourcefulness and creativity. And, of course, silliness.
The promos for “The Hidden King” would not look out of place in a Thor movie. Some huge guy, dreadful, menacing music … swinging a hammer with a glowing symbol in it … if it was a movie, I definitely would go see it.
Ukrainians fighting the Kremlin’s propaganda machine release report on what they’ve learned While I’ve been regularly sharing, reposting and ReTweeting the efforts of my friends, colleagues and students in Ukraine over the past year and a half, I must admit that there are times when I kinda lose track of what’s really happening over there. […] [...more]
Ukrainians fighting the Kremlin’s propaganda machine release report on what they’ve learned
While I’ve been regularly sharing, reposting and ReTweeting the efforts of my friends, colleagues and students in Ukraine over the past year and a half, I must admit that there are times when I kinda lose track of what’s really happening over there.
Every day, they scour the airwaves and the web for examples of Russian propaganda. They are like the “Daily Show” of Ukraine … without quite so many jokes. Because, well, people are dying. And that’s kinda hard to make into Teh Funny.
I can’t quite express in words how proud and humbled I am by StopFake.org, the online effort by Yevhen Fedchenko, the Mohyla School of Journalism, and the Institute for the Digital Future of Journalism, to report the truth and counter the cynical, evil lies that are being daily concocted by the Putin regime to mislead and delude people around the world. Their efforts these past few years have made me feel like a spoiled gringo, as so often happens when I work with journalists in countries where the government or cabals of criminal oligarchs decide to crush a free and independent press.
Which is why it’s even worse to see us doing it to ourselves.
The Teleprompter is Us Tonight’s State of the Union address is being billed as “the most interactive political act ever.” Well, other than the crowdsourcing that brought people to the guillotine during the French Revolution. Although, if you read through the comments sections on some of the danker political blogs, there’s certainly reason to look […] [...more]
The Teleprompter is Us
Tonight’s State of the Union address is being billed as “the most interactive political act ever.”
Anyway – it appears that Obama’s web team has spent the past year (or more) preparing to swing into full campaign mode.
In December 2011, I wrote in the ReadWriteWeb Predictions for 2012 that the presidential candidate with the best social media campaign would be the one to win the White House in November 2012. I also said that President Obama would likely be reelected. While social media is not the be all, end all factor in determining the results of elections, pundits will argue that it has greater weight now than it ever has. Candidates pay attention to what their Twitter followers are saying.
To a certain extent, tonight’s State Of The Union will be the biggest campaign stump speech that Obama will give all year, except for maybe the Democratic National Convention. Around the State of the Union speech, the President has built a robust social media campaign to give citizens a voice. This is how government should be run. Open. Transparent. Interactive. Go to where the people are as opposed to making them come to you.
Let’s see how that interactive thingy worked, shall we? ue
The YouTube questions were pretty much what you’d expect – a mix of the rude, the longwinded, the unanswerable and the insane.
Tell EMINEM to Put another Album out..(Name is E=Mc2)
What are you going to do with all the police who think they are all that, just because they can do almost anything they want without getting caught doesn’t make them better. Also my friend told me a police was setting a role model of cussing a 5 grdr
Will you tell us why you passed the SOPA? Do you have anything againsy gay people? Can YOU stop making Cigars? What do people have to have in order to become the president? Is the world gonna end in 2012? PLEASE ANSWER ALL THESE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!!
I would love to know why marijuana not legal. It is really good for you they said on cnn News it don’t do anything to your lungs compared to people who smoke cigarettes. Also it kills Brain cancer cells and blocks heart blockages.
Why you are spending more money to grab genitles at airports, sell children, traffic weapons, drugs, eugincs depopulation…rather than allowing non corrupt technicians associated with The Venus Project to solve every human need including yours?
Mr. President, if you want my vote again this November, please answer this: WHERE IS THE CHANGE!?Minimum wage still doesn’t cover our basic necessities.A human being cannot survive on these wages with children. How are your children doing? Quite well
This is a short clip from the recent “Town Hall” type meeting that brand-new Rep. Karen Bass had with her constituents here in Cal-33. This has got to be one of the most diverse districts in California, if not the entire U.S. in these Gerrymandered times.The room was a real mix of black, white, Asian, […] [...more]
This is a short clip from the recent “Town Hall” type meeting that brand-new Rep. Karen Bass had with her constituents here in Cal-33. This has got to be one of the most diverse districts in California, if not the entire U.S. in these Gerrymandered times.The room was a real mix of black, white, Asian, Latino, old, young, male, female … there were even a couple of Tea Party types loudly blaming Bass in the hallway outside the room. I half expected them to act the fool during the meeting, but somehow these old white angry men wilted in the face of the loud cheering that Bass got.
Which is my one objection to the whole exercise. There was a lot of preaching to the choir here. She told the people in the room what they wanted to hear – that the GOP is planning on destroying Medicare, jobs, the economy and basically everything else. Which may have a bit of truth to it – but seems to be the kind of exaggeration and spin that seems to piss off so many of the constituents when they see it coming at them from the other side on Fox News.
The best part of the meeting was when Bass brought up one of her pet issues – foster care. She mentioned that she was working with Michelle Bachman. The room erupted in boos. But to her credit, Bass stood up there and said that despite not agreeing on just about every other fact under the sun, she and Bachman were working together on reforms to the foster care system. And that Bachman had fostered 14 kids on her own, and graduated each kid from high school, while simultaneously raising five of her own.
The room went quiet, and you saw a lot of people raising their eyebrows and looking sideways at each other.
“Respect,” muttered a guy in the row behind me.
In these polarized times, that kind of reaching across the aisle, no matter how out of the limelight the issue, is something that we need more of.
The problem is that Strontium-90 looks to the body like calcium. So the children's bodies grab it and add it to the calcium being deposited in the bones. And once it's there it quietly goes about poisoning the bone marrow, causing strange and unpredictable cancers. Mutations. Leukemia is about as benign as it gets. [...more]
200,000 deaths. Could Fukushima get this bad?
This video was produced by my students at the University of Mohyla‘s Institute for the Digital Future of Journalism in Kiev, Ukraine. It’s in Ukrainian, so my English-speaking audience won’t be able to understand the narration or interviews.
Which is kinda beside the point, after you look at these kids.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the radioactivity spewed out in a meltdown. Their bodies are growing, and as part of the growth process, the body is constantly looking for calcium to add to their bone structure.
In light of the recent disaster at the Fukushima Reactor Complex in Japan, it is more than a little chilling to look at these pictures of deathly ill children that are still – STILL – turning up in “cancer blooms” in Ukraine, long past the time when the rest of the world considered the whole matter done & dealt with. That’s the thing about true nuclear meltdowns: they don’t just go away when the news cycle gets bored of them (they way it so clearly has with the Fukushima situation).
The problem is that Strontium-90 looks to the body like calcium. So the children's bodies grab it and add it to the calcium being deposited in the bones. And once it's there it quietly goes about poisoning the bone marrow, causing strange and unpredictable cancers. Mutations. Leukemia is about as benign as it gets.
So look at these images. Remember that back in ’86, the governments — in the USSR and elsewhere – were also saying that there was nothing to worry about. That the levels of radiation that were released were so low that they posed no real danger. Nothing to worry about. Move along.
It came as quite a surprise to me to learn that there is a widely known (but officially denied) statistic: 200,000 people have died as a result of the radiation leak at Chernobyl. Apparently, even the average Ukrainian on the street (Dmitri Six-Pack?) knows that the government has drastically underplayed the casualties. The problem is that it is devilishly hard to pin down what it is that has caused a death 5, 10, 20 or more years after an event. Was it the radiation? Or heavy metals in the groundwater? Second-hand smoke? Or just genetic bad luck?
Valiant Ukrainian doctors refused to shut up about the root causes of the cancer crisis. Some of them paid a heavy price for not going along with the program. Not shutting up.
When I was teaching at Mohyla, coincidentally, across the hall from my classroom, there was a doctor’s conference being held. The doctors were quietly furious. They felt that they had been screaming their lungs out about this problem, but that they were being ignored, hushed up.
Even arrested and carted away for daring to contradict the official line.
They had come to a journalism school to meet directly with people who they hoped would help them sound the alarm. To tell the story that things weren’t what the Men In Charge were saying.
“At least 500,000 people — perhaps more — have already died out of the two million people who were officially classed as victims of Chernobyl in Ukraine,” said Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine. “[Studies show] that 34,499 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers were nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.
“We have found that infant mortality increased 20 percent to 30 percent because of chronic exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again in June. They’ve not said why they haven’t accepted it.”
Evgenia Stepanova, of the Ukrainian government’s Scientific Center for Radiation Medicine, said: “We’re overwhelmed by thyroid cancers, leukemias and genetic mutations that are not recorded in the WHO data and which were practically unknown 20 years ago.”
It’s impossible to look at these pictures and not feel a small sliver of dread in the pit of your stomach.
So many children have gotten awful, incurable cancers that they have had come up with all kinds of special equipment to treat their frail, tiny bodies.
This is going to happen in Japan. The invisible killer has already been unleashed there. The radioactive poisons released into the ocean are, by definition, heavy metals. They aren’t going to go very far. At least, not at first.
A while back, I was asked to give me take on “The Emerging Visual Language of Online Video” as part of Rosental Alves’ amazing yearly journalism conference in Austin. I made the room laugh when I showed parody videos like the “SoulWow” and others, created by the People Formerly Known As The Audience. Check out […] [...more]
A while back, I was asked to give me take on “The Emerging Visual Language of Online Video” as part of Rosental Alves’ amazing yearly journalism conference in Austin. I made the room laugh when I showed parody videos like the “SoulWow” and others, created by the People Formerly Known As The Audience.
Check out this interpretation of Bob Woodward’s book on Obama & Afghanistan:
My larger point (other than getting a cheap laugh, which is never to be, well, laughed at) was that the first impulse of video-makers is to take things that they know and love, and that their friends know and love, and to do their own snarky take on them. It’s what we see when little kids get their mitts on video cameras for the first time, and produce their own home movies.
It’s what Spielberg did when he was a kid and producing his own WWII epics in his backyard. My sisters, cousins & I did this back in the (mumble mumble) decade, with 8mm film, and a script based on what we had seen of ads of movies like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (we couldn’t get into R-rated theaters in Wisconsin).
For the average user, producing a video is an inherently daring process. Any media creation is, really – but creating a video is so much harder than typing into a WordPress text window (ahem), that it ratchets up the anxiety. As any good comedian can tell you, laughter is the release of anxiety.
Creating funny, sarcastic or absurdist videos is a way to laugh at yourself, before everyone else does (again – check with comedians as to why they became class clowns – something to do with avoiding beatings from the bullies, I expect).
But now these videos are coming into their own. Before the book has really cleared out of the news cycles, already there’s a video (pretty good quality, too), interpreting it in a way that makes you pay attention.
I conducted a series of interviews with journalists, bloggers, opposition political leaders and human rights workers in the cities of Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan. They are begging for help to combat increased government attacks, censorship, harassment and intimidation. [...more]
Under the guise of “protecting citizens from terrorists and porn,” the government in Kazakhstan is eliminating freedom of speech and of the press via a particularly toxic cocktail of Old Stalinist School beatings, jailings and intimidation – and cutting-edge CyberWar attacks.
I conducted a series of interviews with journalists, bloggers, opposition political leaders and human rights workers in the cities of Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan. I was there because in mid-October of 2009, the US State Department invited me to travel to Kazakhstan to do a series of training sessions on New Media and how journalists there could learn from the mistakes that First-World TV & newspapers have made, to prepare themselves for the future.
While I was able to show them some of the new technologies and techniques in online video, mobile, social media and web monetization that I’ve developed an expertise in, I found that their crisis is far more serious than that of US publishers and journalists, whose problems revolve around absurd levels of debt entered into by multi-billion dollar corporations, and the lack of a coherent business strategy.
Kazakh journalists are quite literally fighting for their lives – and losing.
I found this out myself, when I wound up in the hospital with a severe case of food poisoning, the night before I was scheduled to conduct a class for the pro-democracy rights workers, independent journalists and dissenting bloggers. I feel almost ashamed to bring this up, because compared to what the Kazakh journalists go through, barfing for 8 hours seems like a resort vacation. Still, the embassy doctor told me I was on the point of cascading organ failure from radical dehydration. Next stop: a pine box in the cargo hold on the way back to Los Angeles.
A couple days and 4 liters of IV fluid and antibiotics later, my vision cleared and I was finally able to reschedule with the Kazakhstan’s most independent journalists and bloggers. (I had to cancel a trip to Shymkent, where even more dissidents hoped to get my help.) They wanted to interview me, because they were suspicious about my absence. “You don’t honestly think that what happened to you was an accident?” they asked. I admitted that in my most paranoid moments, I wondered…
“There are no coincidences here,” they told me. They went on to state that repeatedly, journalists, human rights workers or others who have come from the U.S. or Europe to meet with them, mysteriously get sick – just the way I did – are hospitalized, and wind up going home a couple of days later without ever actually meeting or doing any work. They all wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me for joining the club of journalists who have gone to the hospital because of their political beliefs.
I will never know if it was just a bad piece of chicken, or if I barfed out some heinous admixture of polonium and whatever PCBs/Dioxins they fed to the former president of Ukraine that turned his face into a puffy, pockmarked lunar landscape. But I will admit that seeing a couple of goons waiting in an SUV every morning to tail us around contributed to my motivation to publish this piece.
First – a bit of scene-setting: Kazakhstan is an enormous country, spread out over vast empty sub-Siberian steppes (as you can see in my pictures here), with a relatively tiny population of 16 million. It’s floating on an ocean of oil and gas, and may soon be the world’s leading exporter of uranium – check out the Wikipedia entry, if you want more facts & figures.
Put simply, Kazakhstan is a popcorn shell jammed in the teeth of international war & petro-diplomacy. It’s stuck between China to the east, Russia to the north, and Afghanistan & Pakistan to the south. They export a billion barrels of oil a year to Russian refineries, and their natural gas keeps the lights on throughout Western Europe. The U.S. uses their airspace and bases for the war in Afghanistan, and rocket launches from the old Soyuz complex near Baikonur keep the International Space Station functioning.
Nursultan Nazarbayev has been president of Kazakhstan since it split off from the former Soviet Union in 1989. Just this year, the constitution was changed to basically allow him to be president for life, and it’s a tossup as to whether or not there will ever again be open elections.
While I was there, I visited the cities of Almaty and Astana, which represent the past and the future of Kazakhstan. In 1997, Nazarbayev decreed that the capitol would be moved from the ancient city of Almaty, which is in a green valley just north of the Himalayas, on the old Silk Road, to Astana, which lies in the midst of 1,000 miles of Siberian steppes, surrounded by nothing.
A brief aside on Astana: the best way I can describe this city is to ask you to imagine what would happen if you downloaded the brains of Albert Speer and Walt Disney into a 14-year-old ADHD sci-fi fan & meth freak, and then gave him a trillion dollars and asked him to design the capitol city of Mars. Dubai in the tundra? Shanghai without the workers or industrial base? Calgary with a creeping sense of menace?
The oil billions have funded the construction of massive towers and buildings; of wide boulevards, lined with struggling fresh-planted saplings; of monuments to the ego of Nazarbayev, where wide-eyed rural citizens line up, and hold up their babies so they can put their tiny hands into the impression of the Glorious Leader’s hand, memorialized forever in a 20-pound block of solid gold.
“It’s all one giant money-laundering scheme,” a journalist confided to me. “The government says that it’s putting up these buildlings, making this city out of nothing for the future of the people of Kazakhstan. They keep comparing this place to Washington, D.C.
“But what it’s really about is that they budget $200 million, maybe for a new library or art gallery. ‘For the people, for the culture of our country,’ they say. Then they build it for $50 million, maybe $20 million. The rest all disappears.”
There is no real reason for this city, built for giants, and inhabited only by people who work for the kleptocracy, to exist, other than what you can read in “Ozymandias.”
““My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Yeah. It’s like that. Particularly the parts about the “sneer of cold command.” If you squint a little bit, from atop the big observation towers, you can see the tangled rusted girders sticking up out of the blasted, brown tundra.
As you’ll see in the following videos, the main problem they need help with is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that are unleashed on them when they dare to step over the line and criticize the government, write about the massive corruption in the banking system, or report the latest bombshell from the president’s ex-son in law. (He fled the country, and now lives in Austria, from whence he periodically releases embarrassing information – such as audiotapes of government officials conspiring to murder & steal.)
In the interviews that are included here, the Kazakh journalists talk about these kinds of problems – of the beatings, intimidation, jailings, fines, cyber-attacks and other methods by which freedom is being systematically strangled to death. I will write more about this issue in other postings, but for now, I think the greatest impact is for you to hear their raw voices.
I apologize in advance for this video. I had to blur the face and distort the voice of this journalist, to protect him from the brutal reprisals that are becoming almost commonplace in Kazakhstan. I wish that I could show you the blood clot in this man’s eye, or the fading bruises at the corners of his mouth.
I wish that you could see the way he hunches his shoulders when talking about the beating, stomping and kicking orgy of violence that landed him in the hospital recently, or the anger that replaces that fear when he talks of the beatings that have been inflicted on his colleagues.
I hope that you can still hear in his voice the raw sadness and sense of loss that is evident when he talks about the feeble FlashMob protests that are the only act of defiance left to them, and how even that is being systematically taken away.
But I cannot. I cannot bring this story to you in this open and honest way; maybe it is paranoia, but if it is, then it is well-founded paranoia. The pervasive fear that has been pounded into journalists in Kazakhstan is communicable, and if I have succumbed to it as well, so be it. I would rather err on the side of caution with these interviews than expose some of the people in them to further harm. This is also why I have beeped out the names of some of the other recent victims, as well as other information that would make it easy to identify this person.
I do recognize that this journalist’s voice and accent make what he is saying a little hard to understand, and so I am adding subtitles.
These journalists told me that the hardest part for them is the feeling of being utterly alone; that the daily outrages against them have been covered up, denied, made to disappear as they themselves are being made to vanish, one by one.
I decided to share these improvised videos (recorded before and after training sessions I led) because the journalists and bloggers I met pleaded with me to share their stories in the hopes that someone in the outside world would pay attention. To them, the internet represents the last, best hope of writers and photographers and editors who dare to speak truth to power. They have been pushed to the brink, and the DDoS attacks now threaten even that.
I was authorized to show the face and voice of journalist Yevgeniya Plakhina of Respublika.kz, and so she appears here undisguised, although there were some subjects that we discussed that she later requested be edited out. I will post some of the other videos in a later post, since this is getting a bit long.