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Politics and Rumors23 Jul 2013 at 1:01 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Uptodatepronto posted the results of the July 2013 poll of r/SyrianCivilWar opinions in the Syrian conflicts. With only 333 samples, a huge unknown self-selection bias and who knows what ballot stuffing, this data must be taken as anecdotal.

There were three questions :

  1. Who do you support in the Syrian Civil War ?
  2. Do you believe there can be a political solution to the conflict ?
  3. Who, if anyone should the United States, France and Britain arm ?

The possible answers to the first question were quite sparse, so I decided to aggregate them to have large enough samples in each category… I’m sure that many will object to the mixed bag that I made of the ‘Government’ and ‘Rebels’ aggregates – did I mention that I’m a clueless foreign observer ?

Original answer Aggregate
None of the factions involved Neutral
FSA Rebel
Al Nusra
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant
SAA Government
Kurdish Kurdish


I consider the first and third questions to be redundant : while a majority rejects foreign injection of weapons into the conflict, there is a strong correlation between support for a given side and desire to see it armed… Though two government-side supporters want arms for the FSA and one government-side supporter wants them for ‘anyone who opposes the Assad regime’ – remember what I said about the data  ?

Who, if anyone should the United States, France and Britain arm ?
Who do you support in the Syrian Civil War ? No-one FSA through Supreme Military Council SAA Kurds Anyone who opposes the Assad regime
Government 108 2 9 1
Kurdish 17 4 5
Neutral 69 7 1 1
Rebel 49 53 1


Now, let’s perform the cross tabulation that I came here for :

Do you believe there can be a political solution to the conflict ?
Who do you support in the Syrian Civil War ? Certainly Very likely Likely Maybe Unlikely Very unlikely Impossible
Government 10 4 19 21 32 21 13
Neutral 8 4 7 12 20 20 8
Rebel 3 2 3 16 22 45 12
Kurdish 2 3 8 8 4


From that chart lets graph the proportion of supporters of each aggregate party for the total of each political solution likelihood answer class :

From this representation, I make the following observations:

  • Neutrals and supporters of factions aligned with the government are slightly more likely to believe in the likelihood of a political solution
  • Kurds and other rebels are more likely to find a political solution highly unlikely

Those could be interesting hypothesis to test in a wider and more disciplined survey… So, more than ever, the real conclusion is : moar data !

The worksheet I produced this from is available here but,  again I must emphasize how lacking the raw material is.

Networking & telecommunications and Politics and Rumors and The Web26 Mar 2010 at 15:01 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Stéphane Bortzmeyer has a very long track record of interesting commentary about the Internet – his blog goes back to 1996. Its a pity that my compatriot doesn’t write in English more often: I believe he would find a big audience for his excellent articles. But as he told me : “Many people write in English already, English readers do not need one more writer”. I object – there is always room for good information to be brought to a greater audience. And since his writings are licensed under the GFDL, I’ll do the translation myself when I feel like it.

Maybe this will be the only of his articles I translate – or maybe there will be others in the future… Meanwhile here is this one. I chose it because DNS hijacking is a subject I am sensitive about – and maybe because of the exoticism of Chinese shenanigans…

Before reading this interesting article, please heed this forewarning : as soon as we talk about China, we should admit our ignorance. Most people who pontificate about the state of the Internet in China do not speak Chinese – their knowledge of the country stops at the doorstep of international hotels in Beijing and Shanghai. The prize for the most ludicrous pro-Chinese utterance goes to the Jacques Myard, representative at the National Assembly and member of the UMP party, for his support for the Chinese dictatorship [translator’s note : he went on the record saying that “the Internet is utterly rotten” and went on to say that it “should be nationalized to give us better control – the Chinese did it”]. When it comes to DNS, one of the least understood Internet services, the bullshit production rate goes up considerably and sentences where both « DNS » and « China » occur are most likely to be false.

I am therefore going to try not emulating Myard, and only talk about what I know, which will make this article quite short and full of conditional. Unlike criminal investigations in US movies, this article will name no culprit and you won’t even know if there was really a crime.

DNS root servers hijacking for the purpose of implementing the policy (notably censorship) of the Chinese dictatorship has been discussed several times – for example at the 2005 IETF meeting in Paris. It is very difficult to know exactly what happens in China because Chinese users, for cultural reasons, but mostly for fear of repression, don’t provide much information. Of course, plenty of people travel to China, but few of them are DNS experts and it is difficult to get them to provide data from mtr or dig correctly executed with the right options. Reports on censorship in China are often poor in technical detail.

However, from time to time, DNS hijacking in China has visible consequences outside of Chinese territory. On the 24th March, the technical manager for the .cl domain noted that root server I, anycast and managed by Netnod, answered bizarrely when queried from Chile :

$ dig A

; <<>> DiG 9.6.1-P3 <<>> A
; (1 server found)
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 7448
;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;              IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:       86400   IN      A

;; Query time: 444 msec
;; WHEN: Wed Mar 24 14:21:54 2010
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 66

[translator’s note : sign of the times, the Chilean administrator chose to query – and, before that, used to be classic example material Mauricio used (or because it is hijacked by the chinese govt, unlike (or even]

The root servers are not authoritative for The queried server should therefore have answered with a pointer to the .com domain. Instead, we find an unknown IP address. Someone is screwing with the server’s data :

  • The I root server’s administrators as well as its hosts deny any modifications of the data obtained from VeriSign (who manages the DNS root master server).
  • Other root servers (except, oddly, D) are also affected.
  • Only UDP traffic is hijacked – TCP is unaffected. Traceroute sometimes ends up at reliable instances of the I server (for example, in Japan) which seem to suggest that the manipulation only affects port 53 – the one used by the DNS.
  • Affected names are those of services censored in China, such as Facebook or Twitter. They are censored not just for political reasons, but also because they compete with Chinese interests.

If you want to check it yourself, is hosted by China Unicom and will let you resolve a name :

% dig A @ 

; <<>> DiG 9.5.1-P3 <<>> A @
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 44684
;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;              IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:       86400   IN      A

;; Query time: 359 msec
;; WHEN: Fri Mar 26 10:46:52 2010
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 66 is a currently unassigned address and it does not belong to Facebook. [translator’s note : I get which is also abnormal]

It is therefore very likely that rogue root servers exist in China and that Chinese ISP have hacked their IGP (OSPF for example) to hijack traffic bound toward the root servers. This does not quite explain everything – for example why the known good instances installed in China still see significant traffic. But it won’t be possible to know more without in-depth testing from various locations in China. A leak from this routing hack (similar to what affected YouTube in 2008) certainly explains how the announcement from the rogue server reached Chile.

« The Great DNS Wall of China » and « Report about national DNS spoofing in China » are among the reliable sources of information about manipulated DNS in China.

For more information about the problem described in this article, you may also read « China censorship leaks outside Great Firewall via root server » (a good technical  article), « China’s Great Firewall spreads overseas » or « Web traffic redirected to China in mystery mix-up ».

This article is distributed under the terms of the GFDL. The original article was published on Stéphane Bortzmeyer’s blog on the 26 March 2010 and translated by Jean-Marc Liotier the same day.

Jabber and Rumors and Social networking and Technology and The Web09 Feb 2010 at 12:29 by Jean-Marc Liotier

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal mentioned by ReadWriteWeb, Google might be offering a microblogging service as soon as this week.

When Google opened Google Talk, they opened the service to XMPP/Jabber federation. As a new entrant in a saturated market, opening up is the logical move.

The collaborative messaging field as a whole cannot be considered saturated but, while it is still evolving very fast, the needs of the early adopter segment are now well served by entrenched offers such as Twitter and Facebook. Touching them will require an alternative strategy – and that may lead to opening as a way to offer attractive value to users and service providers alike.

So maybe we can cling on a faint hope that Google’s entry into the microblogging field will support decentralized interoperability using the OpenMicroBlogging protocol pioneered by the open source micro messaging platform. Shall we take a bet ?

Don’t you love bar talk speculation based on anonymous rumors ?