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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hacked Off

Malware problems on several of my websites affected all my php files. This is literally thousands of files. My reaction to this reminded me of an image I saved which says something about how small things can really upset us (maybe computer related things in particular).

This attack has prompted me to look seriously at website security. In addition to cleaning the php files, I’m getting rid of a lot of old scripts and directories that have built up over many years and are no longer used. A cleaner script found at php-beginners.com, helped me to clean whole directories rather than each php file individually. However I need to address underlying vulnerabilities after I’ve done the clean up.

I think that my host Dreamhost may have more vulnerabilities than most, also it appears that WordPress has vulnerabilities and WP sites have suffered a number of attacks recently. Dreamhost was recently attacked: techcrunch.com. Also there has been some criticism of the way DH handles WordPress installations: wpsecuritylock.com. Since the attack came the day after WP installations on NYPO and Netstorms there is a strong likelihood that this is the source of the current problem and I’m following the advice on the wpsecuritylock.com site.

A May 2010 article on SEO Services Goa suggests that hackers use a complex strategy for attacking PHP based site. The suggestion that all PHP files should be made read only does not seem feasible since there are thousands of PHP files on a site like WP or Joomla site.

Related:

1stwebdesigner.com

bulletproof-security-pro

Cynthia McKinney

Posted on 23rd Feb. This should really be an article rather than a blog post as I will return to edit it over several days as I have the time and inclination.

Cynthia McKinney is not well known by the mainstream media outside of the US. In the US the media seems to characterise her as crazy. This video of her at a Congressional hearing shows her to be a competent politician who is well worth listening to:

Here McKinney asks three question which are essentially about possible corruption within the US military industrial complex. The first question concerns a private government contractor DynCorp implicated in child sex trafficking; the second question is about billions of dollars unaccounted for in the Department of Defence; and the third question is about the air defence drills that coincidentally took place on the day of 9/11.

It’s worth reading the full text of McKinney’s Conversation with Gary S. Corseri.

A Conversation with Gary S. Corseri
The former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate discusses the evolution of her worldview: her opposition to U.S. imperial wars (“the attack on Libya was an attack on Africa”); the “Israelization” of U.S. foreign policy; and her assessment of the Occupy Movement – “they’ve given us a way to self-identify.”

It feels odd that many people consider anyone who asserts that 9/11 was ‘an inside job’ to be nuts. Their premise for this judgement is generally that it seems impossible that the government could have kept a lid on a crime of such enormity. They treat this as almost axiomatic and so are not willing to engage with the evidence. There is a sense of intellectual snobbery in their dismissal of those who take the inside job hypothesis seriously, but is actually intellectually dishonest; it is not axiomatic that a powerful organisation would be able to keep a lid on a vast conspiracy. The notion of ‘shadow governments’ existing in democracies below the radar of public scrutiny, far from being impossible is almost a necessary assumption, the only question is of the depth and organisation of ‘the shadow’.

“Any time the War Machine rolls—I have to oppose that!”
GC: In 2004, you signed the 9/11 Truth Movement statement, calling for new investigations of “unexplained aspects of the 9/11 events.” More than 7 years have passed since then. What would you say are some of the more egregious “unexplained events”?
CM: … How is it that the people of the United States can invest trillions of dollars in the military and Intelligence infrastructure—and it failed four times in one day? … That singular question has never been answered.

McKinney is not asserting that 9/11 was an inside job she is only asking for a thorough investigation. Even if we accept the official story, the questions that have been raised by reputable and technically qualified commentators should be answered.

McKinney is much more of an activist than a politician; this is clear from the Gaza incident video above. She is prepared to put her life on the line.

GC: Let’s continue with this theme of recognizing other people’s human rights. … More recently, this past year, you were in Tripoli when NATO bombed Libya. What were you doing there… and can you describe that experience?
CM: I voluntarily went to Libya. … Any time the War Machine rolls—I have to oppose that! Libya was a special case, a personal case… because I had just been to Libya. … I had taken a delegation of independent journalists to go to Libya… because I did not believe the explanation that was given to the public about the necessity to bomb Tripoli and other cities in Libya. … While we were there… we experienced what “shock and awe” is all about. The individual who went to the UN with allegations of thousands dying at the hands of Colonel Gaddhafi and the Libyan government—when he was pressed to substantiate his claims, he couldn’t.
GC:That reminds me of the allegations made against the Iraqis in Kuwait, back in 1990–that they were taking babies out of incubators and throwing them on the floor!
CM: It’s also a situation similar to that of the Cuban-American community congregated down in Miami… right after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 where we had a community of expatriates who were willing to unleash terror on their own country… and, a similar thing was happening in Libya… with the United States providing financing for these individuals willing to lie about what was happening.
This information is available on the Internet. Julien Teil interviewed the individual making these false claims at the UN. The interview can be found at www.laguerrehumanitaire.fr [4]. …It’s on YouTube, as well. Julien also interviewed the woman at Amnesty International who had claimed that “African mercenaries” were supporting Gaddafi’s repression of his people; but, when challenged—and this was all after the devastation—she admitted that it was “just a rumor.”
My colleague, David Josue, and I had been in Libya to attend a conference for Africans on the continent as well as Africans in the diaspora. And what the Jamahariya government had devised was a call to Africans in the diaspora who were unhappy with their treatment at the hands of white Americans or white Europeans, etc.—to come back home to Africa and to help Libya rebuild Africa and rebuild itself.
[Interviewer’s NOTE: (from Wikipedia): “Jamahiriya” is a term coined by Gaddafi, usually translated as “state of the masses.”]
… That was the purpose of this conference I had attended. … And it was at that conference that the Jamahiriya committed 90 billion dollars to help in the creation of The United States of Africa. … That would also include a million-person army for continental Africa to drive back the attempts of AFRICOM and others to occupy the African continent. … That was in addition to the proposal for a gold-backed dinar for all of Africa. … The daughter of Kwame Nkruma was at that conference; the son of Patrice Lumumba was at that conference… the grandson of Malcom X was there. … The atmosphere was electric with the idea of the re-building, the re-kindling of the movement that these African leaders—or their forebears—represented. Well… that was all put to an end by NATO’s bombing. …
[Interviewer’s NOTE (from Wikipedia): The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of nine United Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces.]
The attack on Libya was an attack on Africa! It was an attack on my aspirations as a person of African descent to have a free and independent Africa. That’s what was attacked!
“The attack on Libya was an attack on Africa!”
GC: I’ve never had as complete a picture of that. … I’d heard that Gaddafi wanted to set up a gold-backed dinar. … In fact, people like Ron Paul even talk about using gold-backed currency… so I’ve heard that as a rationale for what we were doing there—trying to prevent any challenge to the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. … But…, nobody has described the situation as completely as you have.
My final question on Libya is this: You have praised Colonel Gaddafi’s GREEN BOOK and the kind of “direct democracy” advocated therein. Can you give us a brief lesson as to how that “direct democracy” differs from our “representative democracy”?
CM: Our “democracy” is neither democratic nor representative! But… let’s start with what the Jamahiriya means to me. … The only stake that I have is that I want to see a free and independent Africa…, but the type of government that Libya has should be determined by the Libyan people. I don’t really have a say in that. … And I shouldn’t have a say in how they dispose of their governmental form. … Therefore, it’s inexcusable to ask another country to bomb your fellow countrymen if you really care about your country!
The Jamahiriya–which had the highest living standard in all of Africa–had free education up through the Ph.D. level; free health care; free utilities, subsidized—and free, if you were poor—housing; subsidized food; subsidized transportaion, including car expenses… and so, the necessities of life were paid for by the direct democracy known as the Jamahiriya.
Can you imagine…? I have a cousin who is $120,000 in student debt in the U.S. She has a Master’s degree as a social worker. Now, if she had been born in Libya—she would have no such debt. … I went to a university outside of Tripoli and asked the students about their tuition fees… and the word didn’t translate. I asked them about what they paid to attend the university. … It was $9.00 per year!
When I was in Congress, one of my allies was Senator Mike Gravel… and Senator Gravel’s initiative is about “direct democracy.” He had been to Libya… and he supported the establishment of the revolutionary committees which was the way Libyans determined how they would use their oil money.
A question under discussion when I attended the conference there was whether the subsidies for gas/petrol or the subsidies for education would be increased! (In the US, under “austerity” measures, people are being told which programs will be eliminated or eviscerated; in Libya, they were voting on which programs would get increased subsidization!)
What I have said publicly is that what we have been seeing is the Israelization of US policy. You know… the only reason the Libyans took any interest in me was that someone in Libya, looking at their television, saw me having all these problems trying to get into Gaza… and they said, “We want to know her!” That’s why I was invited to attend this conference on THE GREEN BOOK—to explain what I was trying to do in Gaza. And what I observed in Libya was the same kind of collective punishment I observed in Gaza. People supporting their own governments were being punished by outsiders who opposed those governments!
This is the kind of thing that happens in the absence of ethics in journalism. … Because… we don’t have journalists in the Mainstream—I call it the Special Interests Press–to educate and provide information to citizens so they can make a critical analysis of issues. That is absent. … We need ethics in scholarship; ethics in journalism, as well. …The journalistic community has gone along with the kind of death and destruction that has been visited upon Libya… and so many other countries. We’re setting up drone bases all over Africa… and people here don’t even know… don’t begin to understand. …

McKinney’s appearance on Libyan state television during the Intervention was courageous. It led to her being branded as a ‘Gaddafi supporter’ as though that were automatically a badge of dishonour and a cause for rejecting her as a serious commentator as in this article: Cynthia McKinney In Libya. Supporting Gaddafi is certainly problematic; from the, admittedly superficial, research I’ve done Gadaffi comes across as an enigmatic figure who did a lot of good for Libya and Africa and yet at the same time earned the hostility of a large section of his people. Gaddafi advocated direct democracy and claimed to have no role in government yet he seemed to have had the right to determine the disposition of Libya’s resources. McKinney’s support for Gaddafi is understandable in the light what he was advocating for Africa and while it may be problematic given that he was an autocrat with a clear history of repression, there is value in having voices that run counter to the the consensus (in the West) characterisation of Gaddafi as a ‘demented dictator’ because that characterisation was used as a weapon to justify war.

Related:

Mahmoud Jibril and Qaddafi’s Wealth Redistribution Project

Jamahiriya and Occupy

GC: Related question: Okay…also about Current Events: this is about the Occupy Movement, then. …
CM: Okay. …
GC: We live in a Surveilance State. Our license plate numbers are routinely recorded; we’re finger-printed for jobs, our Social Security numbers serve as National I.D.’s, our e-mails are monitored for “code” words or phrases, our homes are surveiled by satellite mapping systems of Google, Yahoo, etc. Those who protest, as in the Occupy Wall Street movement, are arrested, booked, and more closely watched. Now they have “records” that affect their employment. … My question is: how do we battle this pervasive system? Do you get discouraged? What do you do when you are discouraged? Who are your “heroes”? To whom do you turn for inspiration?
CM: Do I get discouraged? Yes! What do I do when I’m discouraged? … find other people who are not yet discouraged!
Who are my heroes? Everybody! Everybody who has a tough row to hoe in life! Those are my heroes. Those are the people who give the most! When I was running for Congress back in 1992–for the first time—I was running to represent the second poorest district in Georgia… and, what I learned was that the poor people gave the most! The people who had… didn’t give as generously as the people who didn’t have! So… my first campaign theme was, “Warriors don’t wear medals, they wear scars!” So… my heroes are the community and neighborhood warriors who have a whole lot of scars, a whole lot of dignity.
GC: I’d like you to talk specifically about what used to be called the Black Liberation Struggle. As a young, white man, I was inspired by the works of black writers like Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Leroi Jones (now called Baraka), Eldridge Cleaver, W.E.B. DuBois, and poets like Langston Hughes. Martin Luther King and Malcom X were inspirational leaders for all people; Rosa Parks was a woman of quiet, dignified courage. But, now, with the election of Obama, and with the prominence of people like Bill Cosby first, and Oprah Winfrey, the billionairess—the great struggles of the past almost seem quaint. What’s your take on this? Who are the great black leaders today? What is the struggle about today?
[Note:There are 7 million Americans now under “correctional observation.” More African-Americans’ lives intersect with our prison-industrial-surveillance complex than there were African-American slaves in 1850!]
CM: You asked me who are my heroes. … One of my heroes is Glen Ford, who writes for The Black Agenda Report [http://blackagendareport.com [6]/]. I view him as the most astute political observer of our times.
There’s a whole lot of pundits who are in our faces every Sunday morning who think they are political observers…, but they are not astute! And they’re also not independent. Glen Ford is independent, he’s been through the wars and he has no special interests to kow-tow to. … He just wrote a piece… “Can the Proud African-American Progressive Legacy Survive Another Four Years of Cowing to the Corporate Servant in the White House?” That’s strong stuff…, but right on point!
We have a situation now… it was the Black struggle that really defined morality in the United States. It defined the moral imperative. And the character of the country was measured by how well it answered the call of Black people for justice. But what happens when Black people stop asking for justice? I think you get exactly what we’ve got now—a President who is dropping bombs on Africa… which is un-thought-of; I mean, it would have been un-thought-of four years ago that Africa would be bombed—routinely! But it’s a routine matter now that the United States Africa Command [AFRICOM] would actively establish itself and militarize the US relationship with Africa. AFRICOM represents a kind of US imperial occupation of the continent that we haven’t seen since the days of outright colonialism of the Europeans. We are being told about issues that are “important”…, but we’re ignoring the real issues that are important! Henry Kissinger said that he couldn’t believe the amount of good will that was embodied in this president! But… what people like Kissinger don’t “get” is that this president sits on top of the historic Black struggle that characterized the United States to the world! People around the world thought that Barack Obama characterized the New United States! But… far from it! A lot of people got tricked and fooled and now… as philosopher Michel Foucault has observed—the every-day actions of ordinary people actually entrap them in “powerlessness”. … So, to break out of your powerlessness, you’ve got to break out of your existing paradigm. So, as long as Barack Obama is representative of the existing paradigm, this is what we’re going to get… because the existing paradigm is war and more war!
“The Occupy Movement has given to us—they’ve given us a way to self-identify.”

GC: How do we “break out”? How do we fight the Mainstream Media that’s constantly projecting that paradigm and hammering it into our brains?
CM: The literature suggests that people have to be confronted with a “disorienting dilemma” that causes them to reflect on what they’ve just experienced. …
GC: Cognitive dissonance?
CM: That’s right. … Reflect on what you always assumed… and what you’ve been confronted with that contradicts your assumptions. … For some people, it was the murder of JFK; for others, it was the murder of Malcom; for others, it was the murder of MLK; for a whole bunch of others, it was the murder of RFK; and for some people who began to look and pay attention like me… it was the murder of all of them and then add onto it the murder of the members of the Black Panther Party—who were attacked by our own government. …
You could say that for me, my first “disorienting dilemma” was when I realized that I was black. I realized that the world around me was not like me, and that it didn’t value my black skin! That, for me was when I began to pay attention and wake up!
GC: How old were you?
CM: Seven or eight. …You know… for some people it’s religion, it’s race, it’s gender, it’s, maybe, sexual orientation. … Everyone has their moment of reckoning.
I think, ultimately… it’s about the love we have for humanity and how we see something is wrong and we have to stop it!
So… by the time I got to Congress… I had had my “reckoning,” and I had had my “break-out” moments, and I guess this gave me strength and vibrancy… and there were people who didn’t like it. I wore my hair differently, I dressed differently from the other people in Congress. There was even a segment of the Capitol Hill police that didn’t like that. …
“What happens when Black people stop asking for justice?”
GC: What year was that?
CM: 1993. …
GC: Wasn’t there a much more recent incident with the Capitol Hill police?
CM: No, no, no. … It happened for twelve years! … Twelve years of harrassment from the Capitol Hill police! They considered it a “sport” to harass me! … It’s available on the Internet… if you go to YouTube and you put in “The Last Plantation.”
GC: The infamous incident is when you apparently struck back at the officer who was harassing you. … Is that correct?
CM: The officer had no business putting his hands on me! … And I reacted like any normal person would react when being attacked by some great big, huge guy from behind! … This was a “hit.” It was a “hit”—a “sport”–for the white officers. You’ll see if you go to that “Last Plantation” site that I had been targeted because I had written a letter of support for the Black Capitol Hill police officers.
GC: And this most infamous incident… that was the same day as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted?
CM: That’s right. … The Mainstream Media didn’t want to lead with that indictment, did they? It was much more sensational and distracting to lead with the story of a black Congresswoman attacking a Capitol Hill police officer!
[Laughter]
GC: You’re a pretty brave woman, aren’t you?
CM: Everybody can be brave… they just need that break-out moment of recognition. … I’ve stood on some big shoulders. … As I said before—my campaign theme: “Warriors don’t wear medals… they wear scars.”

WordPress or What?

I’ve just updated the Netstorms Limited website using WordPress. I suspect that WP is going to be my CMS of choice as I develop as a web developer. I will continue learning to use Joomla as some community groups use that CMS but having some experience of both systems I can’t see that Joomla has any advantages.

There is an interesting article and discussion of the relative merits of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal at computerworld.com.

Related:

SoNET, Elegant Themes, Article on Theme Builders

Joomla Database Backup and Restore Issues

This useful video from internetteachings.com has helped me solve a problem transferring a Joomla database from one host to another.

I am working on a client’s website and was worried that I might have lost some information. The website uses the JA_Mica template with a plugin for in-content tabs; something I did has stopped me accessing pages using those tabs. This in itself is not a huge problem because we had decided to stop using the tabs anyway but I couldn’t access the content in the tabs. However I had made a backup of the site files and database about a month ago and was able to set up a duplicate of the client’s site on my Dreamhost account.

Backing up sites before working on them is essential even if you are just doing little things. The instructions on this vid for backing up and restoring Joomla databases are useful:

See also: howtojoomla.net

One problem I’m still having with the backup installation is that I’m not able to change templates for some reason.

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