Notes From the Northern Colony

Greum Maol Stevenson, Scottish Writer and Activist

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Today Living Rent launched our Tenants' Manifesto. There were speeches from Meg Bishop, Nick Durie, Annemarie Craig, Nicky Patterson, Angela McCormack, and me. We discussed each of the manifesto's five demands, and then there was a varied question-and-answer section. This, of course, was all online.

#livingrent #wyndfordtenantsunion #socialhousing #publichousing #rentcontrol #glasgow #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Being dead makes people like you better.

In this article, Gerry Hassan eulogises Donald Dewar, Scotland's first First Minister, who died 20 years ago. Hassan's admiration for Dewar seems to be based on how bourgeois he was:

“Donald Dewar was a profoundly decent person, imbued with an older sense of public mission and morality, who often seemed out of kilter with the times – drawing from a deep reservoir of how the middle and professional classes used to behave. His death robbed the Scottish Parliament of leadership and aided a period of institutional instability, but even more began a series of steps that led to Scottish Labour’s long descent into near-irrelevance.”

Hassan is right about one thing: “Dewar as First Minister was no natural leader, but his death removed a politician who could speak to the Scotland beyond Labour.” He appealed to the right wing as much as to the left, because he was an establishment shill who, either through ignorance or dishonesty, played down the hardships so many people living in Glasgow endured.

In 1990, Dewar appeared on the STV show Scottish Books to discuss Alan Spence's novel The Magic Flute. Dewar complained about Spence's description of Glasgwegians in the 1960s living in slum flats without bathrooms, or even hot water on tap. He declared that no one in Glasgow was living in such conditions by then.

If Dewar, a doctor's son and a lawyer who became a millionaire, had bothered to visit Maryhill in the 1970s, he would have known that not only was Spence's description correct, it was still that way a decade later. In Raeberry Street and Mount Street, to name only two, people washed at the kitchen sink, with water boiled in a pot, and, if you were lucky, you had a toilet (just a toilet) in your flat, instead of a cludgie outside that you shared with neighbours, and that is how it was until 1978, when the buildings, which were also infested with rats, were demolished.

It's hard to believe Donald Dewar was unaware of this. Perhaps he was too busy counting his millions to notice.

#donalddewar #gerryhassan #scottishlabourparty #scottishpolitics #glasgowslums #maryhill #poverty #bellacaledonia #alanspence #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Dear Mr Murray,

You are an impressively meticulous reporter. You are also thin-skinned and self-absorbed, and, as I have previously written (while defending you), you have a tendency to embarrass yourself when you take things personally.

This was demonstrated by your response to my previous post.

Bella Caledonia magazine posted a link on Tw**ter, and your reaction was to ignore the questions I had asked and make it about yourself. In response to my asking if you had blocked Protonmail, or if your Russian email provider did so automatically, you wrote, “I don't know what Protonmail is, let alone have blocked it.” For someone who is supposedly concerned about surveillance — and who is a friend of Julian Assange — to not know about a popular encrypted email service is bizarre, and indicates you are dangerously ignorant and naive, as I suggested here. (I wonder now if it was a similar naivete, rather than something more sinister, that caused you to obtain “press credentials” from Black Isle Media, an amateur “news” site run by a wannabe terrorist who assaulted a pregnant woman.)

You then wrote: “Better query – why is Bella Caledonia obsessed with promoting paranoid attacks on Craig Murray?”

You did not explain how what I wrote was paranoid, or even how it was an attack. And, of course, it was not. Not only am I not your enemy, I recently agreed to testify as your witness at your impending trial for contempt of court, and your lawyers took a precognition from me and filed it as an affidavit.

The only paranoia on display was yours, when you told Bella Caledonia, “I find it very hard to understand why anyone is accusing me of anything.” But I had not accused you of anything.

While you ignored my questions, you answered a question I had not asked. “I have a mail.ru account because I used to live in St Petersburg and Tashkent,” you wrote. “I also have btinternet and gmail and a blog contact button.” Leaving aside the naivete of a journalist and activist using email provided by Google, you seem to be using the classic politician's evasion — ignoring the questions being asked and talking about something else instead. And you did not explain why, of your various email addresses, the Russian one is the one on your website.

It turns out that your Russian mail server does indeed block Protonmail.

After the email sent to you bounced back, the person who sent it then tried to post it as a comment on your blog. It said: “I work in tech. The reason they're insisting that people dial in is so they can track their phone numbers and devices. I strongly advise against doing so.” The comment never appeared, which you claim was the decision of “the mods.” You wrote: “To be fair, it does seem the mods may have blocked a comment. I can't find the comment but there seems to be a response to it from one of the mods... I think the mod wasn't chuffed when I was asking people to listen to the hearing, by someone posting telling them not to. I would not have blocked it myself.”

This raises two additional questions, and I hope you will answer them rather than evading them or lashing out. They are:

  1. Who are “the mods” who decide what comments are allowed on your blog, rather than you making the decisions yourself?

  2. Now that you know that people who attend your trial virtually will be tracked and surveilled, are you concerned enough to warn them, or are you only concerned about yourself?

Sincerely, Greum Maol Stevenson

#craigmurray #julianassange #alexsalmond #surveillance #protonmail #russia #scottishpolitics #bellacaledonia #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

On August 25, Craig Murray asked his supporters to virtually attend a procedural hearing for his trial for contempt of court, which was being held the following day. To attend, you had to dial a phone number; you could not simply watch a livestream in a browser.

A person in the tech world discovered that this was so phone numbers, and devices, could be tracked. Using the encrypted service Protonmail, this person emailed Murray, who has a Russian email address, telling him this, and advising people not to call the number. The email bounced back, with a message saying Protonmail was blocked. The person then posted a comment on Murray's blog, sharing the information and asking whether Protonmail was blocked by him personally (and, if so, why) or his Russian email provider, mail.ru.

The comment was not allowed to be posted.

#craigmurray #alexsalmond #scottishpolitics #protonmail #russia #surveillance

by Greum Maol Stevenson

In his latest report from the show-trial that is Julian Assange's “extradition hearing,” Craig Murray writes:

Even my blog has never been so systematically subject to shadowbanning from Twitter and Facebook as now. Normally about 50% of my blog readers arrive from Twitter and 40% from Facebook. During the trial it has been 3% from Twitter and 9% from Facebook. That is a fall from 90% to 12%. In the February hearings Facebook and Twitter were between them sending me over 200,000 readers a day. Now they are between them sending me 3,000 readers a day. To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline. My own family have not been getting their notifications of my posts on either platform.

That Murray is surprised by this would be comical were his naivete not the norm, rather than the exception. It is both bizarre and outrageous that journalists and activists use Twitter (which, according to Blacklight, captures your keystrokes) and Facebook. Both companies have shown themselves to be enemies of factual journalism, progressive politics, and democracy as a whole. To use those platforms is to validate them, and to accept their modus operandi, so it makes no sense for Murray to start complaining now.

To use Twitter or Facebook is to relinquish journalistic and political integrity. Audre Lorde still speaks to us from nearly 40 years ago: “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”

Writers, activists, and political groups must create their own media, based on what some people in the Fediverse call “the solidarity economy.”

#craigmurray #julianassange #surveillancecapitalism #socialmedia #tracking #fediverse #blacklight #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Not all websites track you. This one doesn't, and neither does Gerry Hassan's. But here are some that do (information found using Blacklight):

The National has 29 ad trackers, more than four times the average of seven found on popular sites. It also has 12 third-party cookies, four times the average of three. On the bright side, it has no Google Analytics.

The Herald, owned by the same company as The Herald, is worse, with 35 ad trackers and 14 third-party cookies.

The Scotsman is worse than both of the above combined, with 41 ad trackers and 75 third-party cookies.

Scotland on Sunday, owned by the same company as The Scotsman, has 33 ad trackers and 59 third-party cookies.

Glasgow Live has 34 ad trackers, 66 third-party cookies, and allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

The Ferret has seven ad trackers, three third-party cookies, and allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

Bella Caledonia has one ad tracker. But it allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

Craig Murray's site has one ad tracker and eight third-party cookies.

Wings Over Scotland, aka The Daily McMail, has one ad tracker and three third-party cookies.

Common Weal has one ad tracker.

The Scottish Book Trust's site has four ad trackers, could be monitoring your keystrokes and mouse clicks, allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet, and tells Facebook when you visit the site (though if you use Facebook this is the least of your worries).

#scottishwebsites, #theherald #thenational #thescotsman #scotlandonsunday, #craigmurray #gerryhassan #theferret #scottishbooktrust #commonweal #bellacaledonia #scottishpolitics #surveillancecapitalism #blacklight #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

I've seen and admired the work of street artist Oh Pandah all around central Glasgow the last few months, so today I was happy to discover they'd made a visit to my bit.

#maryhill #glasgow #graffiti #streetart #ohpandah #bigheids #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

The day after the “incident.” A week after the “incident.”

#wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #scotland #crime #violence #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Don't use Google, use Duckduckgo.

Don't use iMessage or SMS or FaceTime or WhatsApp, use Signal.

Don't use Zoom, use Jitsi.

Don't use Twitter, use Mastodon.

Don't use Youtube or Vimeo, use Peertube.

For email, use Fastmail or Protonmail.

Instead of Instagram, use Pixelfed.

Instead of Facebook, talk to your friends.

And if you're reading this, you're viewing the blogging platform you should use: Write.as.

#ethicaltech #dontbeevil #surveillancecapitalism #onlineprivacy #digitalprivacy #digitalsecurity #tracking #greummaolstevenson

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