Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage
Posted: under Conspiracy Theories, Politics & New Media, Ukraine.
Tags: Clinton's emails, digital terrorism, DNC, Guccifer, hacking, Russian state-sponsored cyberwarfare, Wikileaks
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.
Digging deeper into the provenance of the Guccifer hacker, we find that it’s not really the intelligence agencies and the Obama administration that’s pointing the finger at the Russians – it’s pretty much every reputable internet security outfit as well.
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.
Not exactly hard to connect the dots there.
Posted: under Conspiracy Theories, Politics & New Media, Ukraine.
Tags: digital antibodies, faked news, false photos, propaganda, Russia, stopfake.org, Ukraine
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.
Posted: under Ukraine.
Tags: Crimea Annexation, Denial of Reality, disinformation campaign, fighting back, Kremlin, Politix, Ukraine
This is why it is important to teach journalists how to use social media.
My friends and colleagues in Ukraine are fighting a protracted battle in the global court of public opinion, and they are using all the digital tools and techniques that I’ve been referencing/showing off/misusing during the last seven years that I’ve been teaching and training there. Read More
Posted: under Digital Migration, new media, Online Video, Ukraine.
Tags: experimenting, iPad 2, Kiev, multimedia, new media, New Media Strategery, Online (Multi)Media, Online Video, professors, shooting video, students, training, Ukraine, visual storytelling, Web Tech, Web/Tech
…in the courtyard of the Institute for the Digital Future of Journalism
I’ve got great video of everyone having a blast, experimenting with the new guerilla-style video production tactics I’ve been teaching them — I showed them how to use the front and rear-facing cameras on their iPads to shoot video. Here, they are working on producing “establishing shots” using whatever equipment is available to you at the time; in this case, it means holding the iPad up in front of your face and doing slow 360s, talking to the camera, so the audience can see for themselves what the landscape around you looks like.
They absolutely loved their brand-new iPad 2s. It was like seeing little kids getting handed Magic Mirrors. They were polite enough for most of the day, but about mid-afternoon, I just lost them in the wilds of the App Store. Also - I will never understand how the Ukrainian women manage to walk down these uneven, treacherous ancient cobblestone streets in stiletto heels.
I also taught them the basics of shot selection, framing, the Rule of Thirds, and some basic stuff about editing and shot sequencing as a means to create emotion. It was about a semester’s worth of material crammed into a one-day lecture, but at least I opened them up to what is possible, and where they can go to try to learn more on their own.
This is still a beautiful city, even if the sky in unrelenting slate gray, and the wind from Siberia knifes right through you after the sun goes down…
At night, the streets of Kiev are filled only with the rumble and clatter of Dr. Zhivago trolley cars, and the whistling north wind. The architecture here is like the people; kind of battered, but still full of character. Resilient.
I haven’t gotten to see as much of this city as I would like; I’ve always been working too hard, or pretty much exhausted & creaking from the demented flight schedule it takes to get here from Los Angeles. Still, the little I have been able to discover on my own has been delightful.
This time around, my students arrived in my classes with significant New Media skills. Some of them were already creating infographics, and this girl is already ghost-blogging for big financial companies. As you can see, she is quite determined; meanwhile, behind her, another of my more active and vocal students gasps in horror at the convoluted assignments I have inflicted on the class...
One of the greater joys of this class was seeing my students help each other out. When they got stuck with some of my more technically challenging exercises, they reached out to each other, and shouted advice back and forth across the classroom.
There is no better feeling for me. I am only here for such a very short time; I keep wishing that I had an entire semester to really reach deep into these young people, to help them draw out their skills & refine them. But seeing their willingness to follow me down these strange multimedia pathways, and to help each other out along the way … leads me to believe that they will continue to help each other out after I am gone.
Posted: under Online Video, Politics & New Media, Ukraine.
Tags: Chernobyl, child cancer, Community, Fukushima, government coverup, Kiev, leukemia, Mohyla, Online Video, Politics & New Media, radiation, reactor, Ukraine, visual storytelling
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.
So decades from now, the fish that eat the crustaceans that eat the plants that grow in the muck … those fish will have Strontium-90 in them. Cesium-137. Ruthenium-106. Phosphorus-32. Plutonium. Uranium. God knows what else.
I haven’t seen a TV news show yet that has come clean about what is being released into the environment. The closest we got was on the Bill Maher show last Friday night, where scientist Michio Kaku said it plainly: “This is a giant science experiment. And we are all the guinea pigs.”
- The parents of these children do what they can to cheer them up. Note the little stars and decorations on the surgical mask. I’m not sure if this makes it better, or even more heartbreaking.
Posted: under Foodstuffs, Ukraine.
Tags: Drinking games, Foodstuffs, Travel, Ukraine
…and this is where my problems really started…
Note that in Kiev, you can get sex on the beach. The drink, that is.
Actual sex on the beach is not recommended.
Posted: under Ukraine.
I’m on my last day of training here in Ukraine (I was informed that they prefer that we gringoes say "Ukraine" rather than "The Ukraine" … not sure what their objection to the article is, but OK…)
The reporter teams have done some stunning work in only a week. We assigned them to go out and shoot and edit together video reports for the web; yesterday, we went over their (mostly) finished results, and gave them some pointers on camerawork, editing and sound.
I hope to be able to post some of their efforts here – the reports range from the funny (a piece on how Ukrainian women are so much more demanding now than they used to be – the poor guys here used to be heroes if they brought a woman a piece of smoked fish – now they have to get diamonds and perfume) – to the tragic (a piece on how the out-of-control development here is displacing old widows who are struggling to survive in a world they no longer understand).
And then there’s the interviews with the victims of the sex slave trade.
My only regret so far is that I have not been able to do any real sightseeing here, but this task (teaching print journalists how to handle a videocamera, how to edit in Edius and Avid Liquid, what sort of stories are appropriate for multimedia, etc.) has been so demanding, I really haven’t had the energy to get out and see this ancient, beautiful city.
Heh. I did go out last night for Tex-Mex food. It was my inner daredevil taking ascendancy again … I wanted to know how Ukrainians could possibly process the South Texas cuisine … but I have to say, it wasn’t bad. Beats Taco Hell, that’s for sure. And it goes good with the strong local beers…
Photos and (I hope, I hope) video to come…