The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: March 2015

Revilak is first elected Pirate

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Steve Revilak, our quartermaster, was elected to Arlington town meeting Saturday night. He is the first elected Pirate in Massachusetts. Four town meeting member positions were up for election in his precinct. He tied for second place in the five way race. His success was due, in part, to his door-to-door efforts. Noelani Kamelamela and Kendra Moyer lent a hand. Most every municipality in Massachusetts has an election this year and we are looking for candidates. Contact us if you are interested. Congratulations, Steve!

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At the flick of a … what?

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A friend recently showed me a press release from the House Judiciary Committee, titled “at the flick of a switch“. The press release is a little (shall we say) odd, and my first reaction was “wow, somebody hacked the Judiciary Committee’s website”. After clicking around, I realized that it was an honest to goodness press release. All I can say is …, well, wow. The kind of wow that generally follows an uncomfortable period of silence and awkward stares. The house majority and our president have different ideas about immigration policy; that’s no secret. But the Judiciary committee’s press really feel like a bad temper tantrum, similar to Verizon’s response to the FCC’s Net Neutrality Ruling. I don’t think it’s possible to make a rational response to the Judiciary Committee’s document. So, I’m just going to respond. I can almost picture their copy writer: “Mom! Barack … he … he took my deportations away. Mom! He … he’s not giving them back to me. Mom! He’s treating the immigrants like … like they were bankers! Mom!” But let’s take a look at point number one: 1. Right now, one single person – the President of the United States – can turn off the enforcement of our immigration laws unilaterally. For real. To the best of my knowledge, the enforcement of immigration law is a function of the executive branch; the President is the head of the executive branch; therefore, it follows that the President would have a significant amount of influence over how immigration enforcement is done. Indeed, the President of the united states has a lot of powers. The president can authorize the use of military force. He can authorize drone killings. He’s even got our nuclear missile launch codes. Like it or not, these are things our executive … Read more

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The Internal Panetta Review: Still a secret

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One of last year’s prominent stories was a Senate subcommittee investigation into allegations of CIA torture. A Guardian article mentioned a document called the Internal Panetta Review. I submitted a public records request for the Internal Panetta Review on March 16th, 2014. March 16, 2014 Information and Privacy Coordinator Central Intelligence Agency Washington, D.C. 20505 Dear Coordinator: Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552, I am requesting a copy of the “internal Panetta review”, which is referenced in this 12 March 2014 article in the Guardian newspaper: If there are any fees for searching for, reviewing, or copying the records, please notify me before processing if the amount exceeds $50.00. I fall into the “Other” fee category, as described on If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law. The CIA acknowledged my request on March 31st, 2014, assigning it FOIA request #F-2014-01121. On March 10th the CIA denied my request in full: 10 March 2015 Reference: F-2014-01121 Dear Mr. Revilak: This is a final response to your 16 March 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy of the internal Panetta review. As you will recall, in our 31 March 2014 letter, we informed you that we had already initiated searches for this information in connection with an earlier FOIA request received prior to yours that was being processed in the litigation stage. We cross-referenced your request to the earlier one in order to send you any records that were found to be releasable. As a result of our searches undertaken in connection with the earlier request, we located material that was determined to be currently and … Read more

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Worcester Cryptoparty – March 22nd

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The Massachusetts Pirate Party’s next cryptoparty is Sunday March 22nd, from 2pm-4pm at the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Street, Worcester, MA 01608. The event will take place in the Banx Room. What’s a cryptoparty? It’s a gathering where people learn about cryptography, and how to keep their digital communications private and secure. It’s useful to bring a laptop, so that you can try out the tools we’re presenting. (Bringing a laptop isn’t a requirement though; it’s purely optional). On Sunday, we plan to look at Jitsi (a Voice over IP program) and GnuPG (software for encrypting email messages, and creating digital signatures). This event is free, and open to the public.

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Your Voice: Boston Olympics

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We have had some interesting discussions on IRC about Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.   Some of us point to the lack of transparency of the private bid, the fact that most recent Olympics have been wildly over budget usually at government expense and the resulting increase in police power and loss of freedom of speech.   Others think there may be a silver lining to it if it yields needed infrastructure spending (hello MBTA) and it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. What do you think? Image: Mark Cartwright, published on 26 April 2012 under the following license: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

published under Economy, Freedom of Speech, Fun and Games, Main Topic, Transparency | 1 Comment

The Stingray: Another Fine Product from Harris Corporation

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The Stingray: Another Fine Product from Harris Corporation During the last few months, we’ve started to learn more about IMSI catchers, more commonly known as Stingrays. Essentially, a stingray is a device that announces “Hello … I’m a cell tower”; mobile phones in the area respond with “hello tower, … I’m a cell phone”. This allows law enforcement to (for example) obtain a list of all cell phones in a particular area, or to capture individual conversations. Here’s what a Stingray looks like: (Photo courtesy of the US Patent and Trademark Office). The trademark registration describes this device as “multi-channel, software-defined two-way electronic surveillance radios for authorized law enforcement and government agencies for interrogating, locating, tracking, and gathering information from cellular telephones”. To me, the Stingray looks like a funky old piece of broadcast equipment. That’s not really surprising; Stingrays are manufactured by Harris Corporation. Harris used to manufacture broadcast consoles, before spinning off that divisision into Imagine Communications. Harris Corporation is a publicly traded company, meaning that they’ve got intellectual property to protect, and SEC forms to file. Even with all the secrecy around Stingrays, we have plenty of opportunities to learn about Harris the company. For example, we can do a quick search of the USPTO’s patent database, and see some of their patents. Personally, I think that “Noise, Encryption, and decoys for communications in a dynamic computer network” (8,959,573) sounds kind of interesting, along with “Systems and methods for controlling movement of unmanned vehicles (8,965,620). Of course, my favorite documents to look through are SEC filings, form 10-K in particular. 10-K is an annual filing, where companies provide an overview of their financials, and information that might be material to investors. This includes a description what the company does, its general strategic vision, and the risks it … Read more

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Cancelled: Boston Peace Parade This Sunday

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UPDATE: Sadly, this year’s Peace Parade has been cancelled 🙁 This Sunday, the 15th, forty organizations and thousands of marchers are expected to participate in the Saint Patrick’s Day Peace Parade in South Boston. We will join them and march for Manning, Snowden, open government and personal privacy. Join us. Bring your banners, signs, and friends! Tell us if you plan to join us. We will assemble at 11am near D Street near Cypher St. in South Boston. The parade starts at noon. We march in the political groups division which should assemble near the corner of D Street and Cypher Street. Look for our banner. We would appreciate it if you told us you plan to attend, but it is required. Getting to the Assembly Area We will be around the corner of D Street and Cypher Street. By the T Come by T if at all possible as the area will be very congested. Broadway is the closest MBTA subway station, though it tends to get crowded so you will need to give yourself much extra time to get there. An alternative way is to get off at the MBTA Silver Line’s World Trade Center stop and walk from there. We included maps for both methods. Via Broadway MBTA Station Via World Trade Center MBTA Station By Car Parking Parking is available for participants in the St. Patrick’s Peace Parade. Vehicles must enter from the north from Summer Street onto D Street; the parking lot is on the 400 block of D Street, across from Louis Street. Turn right off of Summer Street, just after the Convention Center. The lot will be a few blocks up on the left look for white VFP flags. Allow extra time for traffic. From the North Route I-93 to South Station exit … Read more

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Mass Pirates Endorse “We the People Act”

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(Updated (Oct 18th 2015): we have since withdrawn support for the We The People Act.) Dollars are not votes. Last fall, the Massachusetts Pirate Party helped gather signatures for PassMassAmendment. This was an effort to amend the Massachusetts constitution, adding language that (1) Corporations are not People, and (2) Money is not speech. The effort gathered over seventeen thousand signatures; unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to trigger the amendment process. Work on this issue continues, and the Massachusetts Pirate Party is proud to endorse the We the People Act. This legislation (H.D. 1988 in the house, Sponsored by Cory Atkins; S.D. 1538 in the senate, sponsored by Jamie Eldridge), calls on Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution asserting that the rights protected by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons, i.e. human individuals, only and Congress and the states shall place limits on political contributions and expenditures to ensure that all citizens have access to the political process, and the spending of money to influence elections is not protected free speech under the First Amendment The We the People Act “puts Massachusetts on record calling for a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing the amendment”, if congress fails to do so after six months. The We the People Act has 62 co-sponsors in the MA house, and 19 in the Senate. If you don’t see your legislators listed, give them a call and ask them to support the We the People Act. Three other states have called for a constitutional convention: California, Vermont, and Illinois. We hope to see Massachusetts become number four.

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