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Journalist vs. the Syrian Electronic Army

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the place-your-wagers-now dept.

Security 43

New submitter Drunkulus writes "Journalist Ira Winkler has an article about his personal run-in with the Syrian Electronic Army. While admitting that the SEA has succeeded in hijacking the Wall Street Journal's Twitter accounts and defacing the RSA conference website, he calls them immature, inept script kiddies in this Computerworld column. Quoting: 'These people purport to be servants of the genocidal dictator of Syria and came together to support him, but they wasted their hack on what amounted to cyberbullying. This is not behavior that the SEA's Syrian intelligence handlers would condone. The SEA wasted an opportunity to promote its message, while divulging previously unknown attack vectors. ... I don't think that sort of immaturity will go over well with the SEA's Syrian intelligence bosses. And that could have implications for the influence of the group in the future.'"

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But that is the Republican way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46992993)

They're just emulating their heroes. They love the way the Republicans rule here and have implemented a theocracy where you are often murdered for opposing religion. Just look at how they shutdown Occupy. That was the most powerful force for social change the world has ever seen. The Republicans with a few arrests and murders shut it down completely. Yes, Occupy had some great wins, but in the end, most of the leaders are in hiding.

Re:But that is the Republican way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993027)

It's sad how quickly that 1% of the people can shutdown 99% of us. Of course, they're the ones that are so very violent that they own guns. They have subjugated us in our own personal hell. We can only long for the days before the Republicans took our freedom. The rulers of Syria copied the tactics of the rulers of the USA. We no longer have freedom.

Re: But that is the Republican way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46994083)

Get a job you freakin hippie.

GENOCIDAL? (2, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 months ago | (#46994325)

What a load of propaganda. There's no coherent argument for Syria's state involvement in any genocide, unless you seriously debase the value of that term.

Assad is a strong-man, indeed, but he protects a multi-ethnic, woman-empowering and minority enabling nation-state. Secular modernists, Christians, Druze, Alawi, Sunni and Shia, along with unusual proto-Islamic and pre-Christian minorities are treated equally as Syrian.

The armed, "Syrian" opposition, that seeks to topple him? Not so much. These are the Wahabbist fighters sponsored by US and Qatari dollars - who'd implement whippings and stonings for teaching girls to read. They are imports from all the world's disaffected - but particularly Saudis - where it is a state policy to send these dead-enders abroad on "holy mission" and deflect their rage from the Saudi state itself, which is the natural source of their deprivations and disenfranchisement.

Who's calling Assad "genocidal"? Winkler - a spook from the NSA. That's who. He is also NOT unaffiliated with that little regional country which seeks disruption and neutralization of its neighbors. It is a pity that he is allergic to Truth.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 3 months ago | (#46995511)

The armed, "Syrian" opposition, that seeks to topple him? Not so much. These are the Wahabbist fighters sponsored by US and Qatari dollars - who'd implement whippings and stonings for teaching girls to read.

The Syrian opposition consists of multiple parties, the one you describe being a small fraction. The sad thing is that they do not agree with each other substantially.

You are making Assad sound like a defender of his country. No doubt that is what he thinks. But he and his army have committed atrocities

The U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria confirms at least 9 intentional mass killings in the period 2012 to mid-July 2013, identifying the perpetrator as Syrian government and its supporters in eight cases, and the opposition in one.[526][527]

By late November 2013, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) report entitled “Violence against Women, Bleeding Wound in the Syrian Conflict”, approximately 6,000 women have been raped (including gang-rape) since the start of the conflict - with figures likely to be much higher given that most cases go unreported.[528][529][530]

According to three eminent international lawyers.[531] Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the "systematic killing" of about 11,000 detainees. Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

find this and more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Indeed, not genocide, but: When the political opposition started to demonstrate, and Assad began to detain, torture and kill them systematically, these people begged the international community to step in and support peaceful demonstration. These educated, intellectuals, potential leaders -- who could have formed a new Syria -- are dead now. We left them to die. That is precisely why only the radicals are left.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (3, Informative)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46996179)

Up until US propaganda started, which was during the Libyan revolution (which we paid a lot of money for, and even bombed quite a few people) Syria was known as the most modern and open society in the Middle East. These are not "stories", go read pretty much anything prior to the Libya revolt. Women in Syria could work and drive, they were not force to wear coverings. There is and was no "State" Religion, which for the Middle East is unheard of (including our 'allies' Saudi Arabia and Israel). There were plenty of Christians and Jews and yes several varieties of Muslims.

Claiming Assad is genocidal requires a new definition of the word! The people revolting have actually been "revolting" since at least the 1980s attempting to over throw the Government of Syria primarily to convert the country to Sharia Law under 1 Islamic Religion. Again, that is a fact not a "story". Syria is no more Islamic as a Country than Russia is Christian. People make that false claim based on the President's beliefs, but that would be like claiming that the US was Catholic under Kennedy and Quaker under Nixon.

Assad has been against US policy of imperialism for as long as he's been in office. He wants to remove Syria from the US Petrol Dollar (quite like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi) but of course you may not see the significance. His plans to do so started around the same time as Libya, and suddenly the revolutionaries in his country gained a lot more people, money, and weapons. Kind of like Libya, wow!

If you want to say that "he's a dictator so we should hate him" then you had best look at our primary ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. Then take a close look at Israel and what they do to Palestinians. If you want to claim someone is "X" at least do the friggin homework to back it instead of taking someone's word for it.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#46997159)

The people revolting have actually been "revolting" since at least the 1980s attempting to over throw the Government of Syria primarily to convert the country to Sharia Law under 1 Islamic Religion.

If you really think that, I can only imagine you've never been to Syria. The revolt against Assad in 2011 originally had the participation of more than Islamists. The Aleppo intelligentsia, many of whom were freethinkers and envisioned a Syria as free as European states, played a major role in that city's uprising. If Assad had not responded with such violence, which drove Aleppo's educated classes to flee to Turkey or the West, then Islamists would not have had such a vacuum to step into.

And for what it's worth, Syria does privilege Islam and put constraints on other religions. It is illegal for Christians to seek to convert Muslims, but Muslims are allowed to engage in dawah among the Christian population. Christian places of worship may not display a cross on top of their buildings. Yes, I am aware that the Islamist opposition is infinitely worse, but Syria does not quite limit the influence of Islam vis-a-vis other religions like Lebanon does.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 months ago | (#47004375)

Assad enjoys an actual 70% approval by the people of Syria, at current assessment.

In the US, Obama carries on with a popular approval of just under 50%. Let us not dwell on the US Congress, which is wobbling around 10%.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47004473)

Are you confusing me with another poster? I never said that Assad’s popularity with the public in that part of the country he still controls is low.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#46997195)

There were plenty of Christians and Jews and yes several varieties of Muslims.

Geez, and if you think that Syria had "plenty of Jews", now I'm sure you've never been there. There are only a handful of Jews left in Syria, fewer than one hundred people, and post-1948 Jews faced enormous restrictions. (Wikipedia even has an article [wikipedia.org] on the subject for your edification). For me personally, one of the most poignant aspects of my own spell in Syria was having knowledgeable locals point out former Jewish sites, which were seized by the state and turned to other purposes without the least commemoration of their former function.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46999351)

Extraordinary claims require at leas some evidence, and I never saw Assad persecute anyone for their Religion. In fact when he first took office he prosecuted people that discriminated. His dad was much the same, so if you want to claim he's committing genocide show me some facts.

Facts speak to me, not opinion based largely on fallacy and false information.

Though they were occasionally subjected to violence by Palestinian protesters, the Syrian government took measures to protect them. There was a Jewish primary school for religious studies, and Hebrew was allowed to be taught in some schools. Every two or three months, a rabbi from Istanbul visited the community to oversee the preparation of kosher meat, which residents froze and used until his next visit.[45]

I'm not sure you read the article you linked very well. Or perhaps you were just ignoring the whole of my post where I was claiming that Assad is not accused of genocide by anyone sane.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#46999403)

His dad was much the same, so if you want to claim he's committing genocide show me some facts.

Perhaps you are confusing me with another poster. I never made the claim that Assad is committing genocide.

Facts speak to me, not opinion based largely on fallacy and false information.

And yet you were the one who claimed that Syria has "plenty of Jews". Do you really want to claim that a dwindling population of well under a hundred people qualifies as "plenty", or are you man enough to admit that you were wrong?

With regard to your quotation from the Wikipedia article I linked to, that passage in no way contradicts the evidence elsewhere in that article that Syria's Jewish community had nearly vanished by the time the revolution broke out.

I think you need to learn to read better, and understand that if you make claims, people are going to check them and hold you to them.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46999673)

Perhaps you are confusing me with another poster. I never made the claim that Assad is committing genocide.

No, I'm not confusing you with a different poster. You ignored the summary of my post and chose to try and nitpick. If you are nitpicking and ignoring the purpose of my post (which has the word genocide all over it) you are either defending the person making a false claim or attempting to subvert the topic.

I think you need to learn to read better, and understand that if you make claims, people are going to check them and hold you to them.

I think you should be more courteous in conversations you butt in to, and expect criticism when you are rude. I can read just fine, and it was not me attempting to hijack your post.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46997849)

The people revolting have actually been "revolting" since at least the 1980s attempting to over throw the Government of Syria primarily to convert the country to Sharia Law under 1 Islamic Religion.

The standard Assad propaganda line, he's all that stands between us and the forces of Islamist Al Quaeda hell on earth. Therefore, nerve gas on his own people, the ingrates, is entirely justified!

You're only fooling the persistently uninformed.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46998963)

When UN evidence has repeatedly shown that Rebels are the ones using chemical agents, and sects of the FSA admit to making, smuggling, and using the chemical agents, I perceive your claims as simple bullshit.

That's not to claim Assad is innocent, but rather we have no evidence that he has used any chemical weapons on his own people. We have hearsay from the same people that claimed Saddam was creating WMDs and going to dirty bomb every city in the US.

I don't trust US propaganda any more than I trust someone else' propaganda. I don't trust known liars, and think anyone that does is a fool. I look at facts, and facts don't back your claim.

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

rotovator (837725) | about 3 months ago | (#47004113)

You're 99% right, but haters and belivers (of the USA propaganda) are going to focus on the 1% doubtful affirmations you make to try to discredit you. People of the USA, you and we (I'm spanish) are under the same type of government that Hollywood portraits as Hitler Nazi Germany.

Proof of the lies about Lybia, Siria, etc. are that they are told in the media (cnn, etc) just when it is necessary. Gaddafi had a good reputation over the last years before the "arab Spring", bussines with european nations were on the rise, and He traveled freely to european nations and signed many agreenments. How can he be suddenly seen as a Genocidal dictator? That is told about north Korean leader every day, but it was told the opposite during many years about gadafi.

Lies are "manufractured" when needed, told when needed, and americans won't belive any other than their FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC. And won't remember anything if necessary to be "belivers".

Re:GENOCIDAL? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#47005201)

I agree with you completely on all accounts. I try to be careful not to give information that can be doubted, at the same time I can not possibly cite decades worth of reading materials. So people will do the homework, or not. Makes no difference to me and my knowledge personally. As the old proverb says "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink".

Where I believe many people go wrong arguing against US policy is to build straw man arguments. I don't think Gaddafi for example was a great guy, he had decades of reputation built as a rebel that didn't care about foreigners to the point of killing them on occasion. No matter how he was behaving before the 'arab spring' that was a hard one for him to overcome.

Why however did the US wait until they did to take action against the guy? When I was in the Military in the 1980s we dropped a bomb on the guys house and killed several of his relatives in retaliation for him attacking a Navy ship. If he was really such a bad guy, we should have and could have finished the job then. But we didn't, so.. people should be looking at why all of a sudden we wanted him out and helped people revolt in his country. There are plenty of reasons related to money which have nothing to do with him being a bad guy.

I also agree that lies get manufactured when needed, but the issue with propaganda is that the best propaganda is not a lie. It's too easy to get caught in those. The best propaganda is a distortion of truth and giving out just enough so that people believe the line you are trying to sell them. The US learned this the hard way when claiming Saddam was ready to dirty bomb the world, and tactics changed pretty quickly. During the Kennedy years they would have just kept up the lies because they controlled all of the media at the time. The internet has forced them to change tactics.

Re:But that is the Republican way (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#46993087)

They're just emulating their heroes. They love the way the Republicans rule here and have implemented a theocracy where you are often murdered for opposing religion.

The troll who first posted this is probably beyond hope, but it is worth pointing out that the SEA is on the side of Assad, not the Islamist rebels. Sure, Assad privileges his own Alawite sect and it's not easy to publicly be an atheist in Syria (though when I was there before the war, lots of young people would discreetly identify as such), but if you want to talk about a Syrian group wanting to impose "theocracy" right now, you wouldn't point to Assad.

Re:But that is the Republican way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993111)

Exactly correct. Assad is a "bad dude", but is he worse than the Islamists? Really?

Re:But that is the Republican way (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#46993135)

He's worse in that he's a lot better-equipped, with his own mechanized army and all...

Re:But that is the Republican way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46996679)

So would we really want the islamists to win and end up better equipped?

Re:But that is the Republican way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993243)

" Just look at how they shutdown Occupy. That was the most powerful force for social change the world has ever seen. "

BWAAAHAHAHAHAhahahahaaahaaahaaaaa!!

Good one. Really.

Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 months ago | (#46993089)

Ira Winkler is a journalist now? That seems odd to me. Attrition.org has an excellent summary of all the different smells of bullshit that emanate from this guy. [attrition.org] He also got thrown out of Microsoft after conning them into hiring him to teach a class on application security where he literally used little dinosaur figures to try and teach the class. He was feckless...and this was *before* Microsoft got as good at security as they are now, before they developed their own SDLC, etc.

Re:Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993227)

I actually question the entire story Winkler puts forth. How does he even know these guys are actually Syrian? The two people he named had vaguely middle-eastern names, but even he admits they were located outside of Syria. How does he know they're not some minor criminal enterprise or just trolls pretending to be with Syrian intelligence?

The other question is, if these guys are actually Syrian intelligence, why even bother wasting all these resources just to attack a guy who is basically a nobody? I'm sure Syria's intelligence operatives have far more important things (such as a 3-year-old ongoing civil war) to worry about than some self-proclaimed "security expert".

Re:Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#46993317)

well at this point he is basically making a story about him being attacked as a rehash of the actual happening.

nobody gives a shit. the Syrian dictator the least(which gets us to another point, even if they were real then their "handlers" wouldn't probably have a clue either or were busy with the actual war..).

Re:Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 3 months ago | (#46993929)

"he literally used little dinosaur figures"
Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal!

Not too shocking really (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46996077)

Computerworld is not even considered a trade rag anymore, it's generally considered a Microsoft advertisement. Hell, even the Windows geeks I work with hate that magazine. When factoring in the writer, the magazine, and the rhetoric used in the article, I can't help but wonder if this is a ploy by the propaganda machine to start drumming up for war with Syria again.

Re:Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (1)

schnell (163007) | about 3 months ago | (#46996355)

Attrition.org has an excellent summary of all the different smells of bullshit that emanate from this guy.

I have no dog in this fight - I have literally never heard of "Ira Winkler" before today, at least that I remember. But from a quick review, the linked page seems needlessly argumentative and dismissive. Do you really need to take shots at people for saying cliches like "opinions are like a**holes - everybody has one?" Is that a reason to disqualify this guy from having an authoritative voice?

Again, I don't know this guy and there may be dozens of reasons to blow him off as a blowhard douchebag. The linked article, however, seemed very biased and did not appear to provide those reasons conclusively. Can anyone provide a link to something resembling an impartial view of this guy and his work?

Re:Amateur? SKiddie? Takes one to know one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47005109)

I have to agree with this. I never heard of him either, so I read the attrition comments and the person who wrote it really seems like he has no good words for anyone and really lost it, besides of the fact the "references" are long gone, or he quotes anonymous "reliable" sources, which he criticizes everyone else for doing. Googleing Ira, there are 37,000+ links to him. This is what apparently got the Syrians excited: http://www.rsaconference.com/videos/188/syrian-electronic-army-their-methods-and-your

Also PaulDotCom is someone with real cred and here is his interview with Ira: http://blip.tv/securityweekly/interview-with-ira-winkler-episode-343-6637715

The U.S. is much better at attacking journalists (2)

Latinhypercube (935707) | about 3 months ago | (#46993129)

The U.S. is much better at attacking journalists.
Who needs hackers.

Let's see: A jew writing about Arabs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993153)

"Gosh - I wonder if he'll say something bad" (not): Of course he will! I wish that those "middleeasterners" had the BALLS to just once and for all FIGHT IT THE FUCK OUT amongst themselves, instead of dragging the rest of the planet into their mess! Afaik? They are RELATED IN ANTIQUITY (Jacob & Esau jealousy in blessings from their father iirc - correct me IF I am wrong here though TIA)... this is a family feud, for Pete's sake - a hatfileds vs. mccoys. They should have taken care of ALL OF THIS, during the 6 days war in the sixties, but no: They have to keep this crap up, till doomsday (which may be sooner than we all think).

Re:Let's see: A jew writing about Arabs (1)

Suferick (2438038) | about 3 months ago | (#46993763)

Yes, you're wrong. The Arabs are supposed to be descended from Ishmael. It was the Edomites who were descended from Esau.

Re:Let's see: A jew writing about Arabs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993849)

Figured I was (by my asking for correction). They're relatives though in any event that cause trouble not only for themselves but all others as well. Well, instead of that? Just fight it out like men, not whimps, and get it over with once and for all after all these millenia of this crap! I've seen the AIPAC workings here in the USA (jew PAC group) and the monies sent that way by them (or rather "the JewSA" vs. USA) are phenomenal and insane. Instead of paying for others to fight for you, do it yourself, get it over with, for good.

Wha...?! (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 3 months ago | (#46993211)

I used to deal with cleaning up the aftermath of the SEA daily. I see no evidence of nation state intelligence agency backing. They're mostly script kiddie exploits. They hit vulnerable older versions of popular software like WordPress and its plugins. Then they upload PHP web shells that are basically no different from r57 or c99. Spidershell would an improvement. Before the civil war they typically defaced sites with new pages decrying Israel's existence and calling for others to join them in defacing sites. Every other site defacing operation was basically the same or better.

just for the record... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993425)

Quote from TFA:

"These people purport to be servants of the genocidal dictator of Syria [...]"

Assad is a dictator... BUT NOT GENOCIDAL - on the contrary, he protects Syrians (of all ethnicities/religions) from the GENOCIDAL (Sunni Muslims) Islamists (their "moto" is: "Shia's in the grave, Christians in Beirut"! So... genocide-ethnic/religion cleansing!)
I am a Greek, living in Greece - i don't have any relations with Syrians but since i am a close neighbor i think i understand good enough the situation there. Keep in mind that in Syria there are many Greeks -living there from even before Christ times- that support Assad (even if he is a dictator - and not Christian as they are) because those GENOCIDAL Islamists have shown from the begining who they are and what they want (despite what the Western "journalist" may report...).

Bad Smells All Around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993483)

The Syria War and the US involvement in it smacks of Vietnam, but worse.. The US is supporting zealots and haters while a legitimate civil govt, who has alliances with Russia, is attacked.. ugly and very smelly.. no idea about this goof the article refers to, but it seems like more foolishness to me... signed - a US Citizen

Butthurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46993489)

is what this is

Assad (4, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | about 3 months ago | (#46993545)

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that he may be bad, but the alternatives are far worse. In most countries it seems the Arab Spring has had little beneficial effect in terms of Freeeeedom!

Re:Assad (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 3 months ago | (#46994319)

Remove a dictator with a revolution and you're likely to get chaos and extremism, unless it was a short term dictator in a country with a strong history of bureaucratic institutions. Not unique to the middle east, the DRC after Mobutu is an obvious example.

Revenge (1)

slapout (93640) | about 3 months ago | (#46993873)

Sounds like he's trying to get back at them by making their bosses mad at them.

Not Official (2)

enter to exit (1049190) | about 3 months ago | (#46995767)

Their affiliation with any Syrian government is likely nil.

They seem to be an uncontrollable incoherent, loosely affiliated group without any hierarchy who just use the brand as a PR banner. Like Anonymous or Al-Qaeda.

Re:Not Official (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46996255)

Absolutely. Groups like this are just used for propaganda purposes. How easy would it be to control a loose group of people like the group anonymous? It is very likely that various interest groups have manipulated these groups for their own purposes.

Plus, The media has most folks including many slashdot readers completely brainwashed. Just yesterday the big news was "Antarctica sea ice is melting and the ocean level will rise." Well, being that most slashdot readers are on the global warning bandwagon think global warming is 95% caused by man bandwagon were quick to go along with this, without realizing that ice sea is for the most part under water and even if it were to melt the ocean level wont rise.

Fact is, antarctic sea ice grew over the southern pole summer by a large amount, even larger to that of 2008 which was a record year in recent history. And is everyone forgetting that just 6 months ago a global warming investigation ship got stuck in ice , and so did the ice breaker trying to rescue it?

The media manipulates most people's view of the situation beyond the imaginable. I only hope people start to clue in to the brainwashing mechanisms in play.

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