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08.08.20

Fearmongering Was Originally an IBM Thing, Not a Microsoft Thing

Posted in FUD, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft learned from IBM, another strong proponent of — and leading lobbyist for — software patents

FUD at Wikipedia
FUD explained at Wikipedia

Baby Yoda: 'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.' Steve Ballmer: 'We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability. [...] People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.'
Those Steve Ballmer quotes are real

Summary: Microsoft made FUD famous, but it was actually IBM’s practice that made it commonplace in the first place (the term or acronym was coined before Microsoft even mattered and on the same year Microsoft was founded)

THE IDEA that IBM and Microsoft are opposites or that Red Hat and Microsoft are still competing with one another is rather simplistic. Red Hat considered selling itself to Microsoft and is sometimes accepting Microsoft as prime sponsor of its events. Those are not accidents. We recently learned that Red Hat's CEO wasn't even using GNU/Linux, so he’s a lot like Jim Zemlin from the Linux Foundation. When I asked him about software patents 9 years ago he told me: “Software patents are not a criteria in our expansion plans.”

“Red Hat is being assimilated to IBM rather than IBM adapting to the Red Hat culture of “open org” or “Red Hat way” or whatever.”To him, whether or not there are software patents in Europe does not matter. Only half a decade earlier Red Hat pushed hard against these and then it started applying for lots of software patents that are now IBM’s (and IBM uses such patents to shake down loads of companies).

Recent IBM moves suggest to us that not much is changing. Red Hat is being assimilated to IBM rather than IBM adapting to the Red Hat culture of “open org” or “Red Hat way” or whatever. Non-compliance is not an option. At the moment some workers are rather afraid; IBM doesn’t keep its promise/commitment to Red Hat. We were warned about this is a very long time ago by a past victim of IBM takeovers. They rely on people forgetting their promises about 18 months down the line.

[Meme] People Get Fired for Being Bought by IBM (With a Crummy Severance Package)

Posted in IBM, Red Hat at 9:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM firings

Summary: IBM used to proudly provide job security and one could have a job there for decades (career ladders and worker benefits of all sorts are what some people assess this when looking for an employer, e.g. whether they can progress, get promoted, stay onboard); by today’s standards only a month’s salary is exceptionally bad, especially when one gets fired without warning, but this is what IBM did to some Red Hat employees

New FSF Video Makes the Case Against Microsoft GitHub (and Similar), So Why is the FSF’s Board Being Filled Up With Active GitHub Users?

Posted in FSF, Microsoft at 8:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The FSF makes a good point about “important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration” — the very things that are under attack by Microsoft’s GitHub, which is all about coercion and monopolistic control over developers

“This video is the second in a series of animated videos created by the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF),” the FSF said yesterday, “and this one is themed around our campaign against the use of proprietary remote education software.” (see The University of Costumed Heroes: A video from the FSF and The FSF’s approach to using online videos for advocacy)

Sounds like… GitHub.

It says “corporations try to capitalize on the need to establish new remote education practices. Free software not only protects the freedoms of your child or grandchild by allowing people to study the source code for any malicious functionalities, it also communicates important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration.”

Again. Sounds like… GitHub.

Fuzzy Buddies: Let me walk you through important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration.

As one person put it, “you have to see the latest FSF video about “Utopia” (it’s a fictional video conferencing platform — you linked to the video already) [as] it’s basically a video on why you shouldn’t use GitHub. I am quite certain they didn’t mean it to be — what with a new president and board member that use it, of course.”

Oh, look. The person who said this to us had already checked:

Zerline and Knauth at GitHub

To restore some trust it would make sense for them to delete GitHub. That would demonstrate “important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration.”

Techrights is Not Against Microsoft

Posted in Antitrust, IBM, Microsoft at 8:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or: Techrights is against injustice and monopoly abuse

Did you know the media, including BBC, is infiltrated by Microsoft? Bill Gates is repeatedly bribing it to pretend he and Microsoft are benevolent. No wonder major publishers rarely blast Microsoft anymore.
Microsoft UK executives taking top positions at the BBC and Bill Gates bribing the BBC is a matter of public record. It’s just one of many (countless other publishers receive bribes from Gates and advertising money from Microsoft). As a former Microsoft employee told me some hours ago (this was specifically about MJF/ZDNet): “It’s like, was being blacklisted for two years just a shot across her bow and punishment for a journalist who makes a living off of covering Microsoft and maintaining access to them? Given how she fell in line, it seems like a perfect example of how Microsoft and other tech companies can silence journalists and even get them fired if they’re exclusively on that company’s beat. What’s a news outlet to do with a journalist that they hired to cover Microsoft if Microsoft has blacklisted them? Fire/hire a new one that isn’t blacklisted? What do you think journalists are going to do in such situations besides play ball, drink the wine, enjoy the swag, and do little else than promote the technology industry, especially when the world is blind to the offense otherwise. It’s just their little secret…” (IBM tried doing this to me)

Summary: It may be a suitable time to explain why Microsoft is mentioned so much and why it’s not a fixation but a reactionary priority

THERE seems to be a misunderstanding. This site began as a reaction to Novell, not Microsoft. It’s against software patents, it is against corruption, and it stands for many things (rights are a positive, not a negative). If Microsoft is mentioned here a lot, it is because Microsoft is by far the biggest offender — worse than IBM has even been in its entire history. Look no further than the whole TikTok thing. Shades of what Microsoft did to Novell, Yahoo, and Nokia…

If Microsoft keeps hijacking and then destroying companies, who’s to say Microsoft deserves any respect whatsoever? They ruin more than they create and they render many people jobless (unemployment is a growing problem worldwide).

“Look no further than the whole TikTok thing. Shades of what Microsoft did to Novell, Yahoo, and Nokia…”This point really ought to be stressed again; lately we’ve been reacting to a bunch of bad things from IBM, which seems to be firing a growing number of Red Hat employees. Only days ago we saw “Fedora Infrastructure Status: Major service disruption,” alluding again to “Service ‘Account System’ now has status: major: id and fas issues being investigated” — something we’ve seen a lot of lately. The uptime of Fedora services has been rather appalling lately, both for migration reasons (we don’t know the reason and nature of these migrations) and technical failures. People at Red Hat might be in denial about it and Fedora volunteers, whom we reached out to in recent days, refuse to talk about it; but something just isn’t right. As we noted yesterday, they don't view Microsoft as a rival anymore. Yesterday Red Hat promoted .NET again. This is not normal. I’ve used Red Hat since I was 18 and Fedora since the project started (I was a doctoral student at the time, way back when it was still “Fedora Core”). Planet Fedora is something I’ve followed closely for years. What’s happening right now is not normal by any stretch of imagination.

“People at Red Hat might be in denial about it and Fedora volunteers, whom we reached out to in recent days, refuse to talk about it; but something just isn’t right.”Yours truly, on behalf of the Techrights team, just wishes to clarify that Microsoft is mentioned here a lot (mostly negatively) because Microsoft earned that. Microsoft deserves that. But threats to software freedom and users’ rights extend well beyond Microsoft — a matter we shall have to deal with a lot more often in the coming years. As somebody put it in Pleroma/Fediverse the other day (replying to something I said): “Silicon Valley was built on Pentagon money and every single corporate social media platform has been dutifully serving the role of a state contractor in controlled narrative management since Occupy Wall Street. It is literally impossible by design for any political dissent to go viral on the modern web.

“Normally these are things Trump leads from behind on by “opposing” it, in order to manufacture consent for his administration’s actual pro-war pro-surveillance accelerationism.”

“The title of this post does not imply that we shall take our eyes off Microsoft; it’s just to remind everyone that Microsoft merely receives flak proportional to the harms it is still doing.”Over the years I’ve seen citations that serve to support this assertion and we’ve occasionally complained about social control media giants and their impact on people’s minds.

The title of this post does not imply that we shall take our eyes off Microsoft; it’s just to remind everyone that Microsoft merely receives flak proportional to the harms it is still doing. That includes attempts to hijack social control media giants of other countries. We made a meme about that as recently as yesterday.

The THRIVE Guidelines

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 6:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

2020 figosdev

Index

Verbouwing
Chapter 12: The THRIVE Guidelines; Originally "How to THRIVE, in Uncertain Times for Free Software"

Summary: “Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others.”

Apologies for the acronym: “To Help Realise Ideal Volunteer Efforts” (THRIVE).

These guidelines were written in late July 2019, before the FSF Titanic series or rms stepping down. The reaction I tend to expect to a list like this is: “Oh no, a Code of Conduct.”

The guidelines are barely about conduct anyway, they are more about process guidelines for “what to do with your autonomy” in the context of a larger group where participation is completely voluntary and each individual consents to participate.

“Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others.”These are intended to assist, not to be imposed. Maybe a better way to consider them is as a sort of informal RFC. The thrive guidelines even have a own Code-of-Conduct Escape clause:

“Wherever these guidelines are misused to threaten community and development, they should be regarded with scrutiny — whenever these guidelines help create a foundation for purposeful development and progress, they should be considered thoughtfully.” This reinforces the idea that the guidelines are non-binding.

I will quote each of the ten guidelines one a time, and comment on each in the hopes of further clarification.

1. “Integrity and checks and balances are more valuable than false compromise.”

I’m fond of pointing out that just enough compromise can be wonderful, but too much can be devastating. Having more than one group working to maintain and improve the ecosystem means that if one authority (or respected group) goes sour, then others can speak up and offer a backup plan.

Fans of a single, centralised point of authority won’t like this. But, it is a recommendation. It is non-binding, so people who are against it simply won’t have anything to do with it. As I said elsewhere, for example:

“When we agree on something, we struggle together. When we can’t agree, we struggle apart. It’s very useful to find our commonalities, and understand our differences. For many of us, Stallman and freedom are two things we are not willing to compromise on.”

That isn’t a decision that a central authority needs to make. Many of us are not willing to bend on the Stallman issue (a reminder that this guideline predates the Stallman issue.) So we invite anybody who is willing to work with us despite not bending on that issue, do so. They don’t need to sign an oath of loyalty to Stallman, but if they ask us to do something unjust against him — that’s something we won’t do.

At that point, you have a schism — and you would actually have that schism anyway. The difference is that some of us are building something that is more schism-tolerant. Other points address this a little more directly.

2. “Ignoring your own standards, as well as taking rules too seriously, can compromise the integrity of your community. Many communities are already diminished along these lines.”

This is mostly a comment on the state of communities, and a recommendation to try to live up to your own community standards. Those who already oppose the imposition of a Code of Conduct can read this as: “If you have a Code of Conduct that expects certain behaviour of others, you are naturally expected to treat them just as well as you’re demanding of them.”

“Many have called for a certain large, corporation associated with a particular primary-coloured hue to apologise for their active role in the Holocaust.”Nobody is perfect, and it’s obvious that people already hold some to a more unreasonable interpretation of their standards than others. While suggesting that people not do that isn’t likely to cancel out any hypocrisy directly, this point at least comments on it.

3. “The corporate monopolies that promise to help resolve these problems, have a history of fundamental selfishness and interference. Giving these corporations too great a say in matters has helped them to destroy communities and stifle their efforts.”

This point comments on past mistakes, and also predates one of the best examples. Many have called for a certain large, corporation associated with a particular primary-coloured hue to apologise for their active role in the Holocaust. Yet one of their subsidiaries asks for an arguably more grassroots organisation to seize an opportunity for greater diversity.

You could argue this is the same point as the second one, addressed specifically to very large and powerful companies. While it is unlikely to change the course of those companies directly, it serves as a warning to those who would take their requests (and perhaps, their lip-service) too seriously.

4. “In practical terms, ‘working together’ means finding enough common ground for collaboration. It does not mean abandoning the principles or values of your own community.”

Some differences are worth working past. Other differences are simply worth accepting. Another way of saying this is that along with diversity of people, we should make it possible (whenever we can bring ourselves to do so) to include people with a diversity of opinions. In my own opinion, this is a strength that we were doing impressively well with, before all this corporate help showed up.

One only need look to Stallman to demonstrate how intolerant we’ve become of opinions — but that intolerance is a standing threat to all of us if we wish to work together and not be ridiculous when we use the word “inclusion.” While these guidelines are not meant to be imposed, if more people had taken them to heart, it would have possibly been more difficult to let Stallman suffer as much as we already have.

Not that I want you to think this is all about one example. What I really want you to do is think about how it would be for an entire community to start stoning you because of something you yourself were misquoted as saying by Forbes or ZDNet. All of these guidelines predate that incident, but many of these would have helped mitigate it.

“All of these guidelines predate that incident, but many of these would have helped mitigate it.”These really are anti-monopoly recommendations, for making communities hopefully more robust in the presence of well-organised social attacks. If you think you can create a better version, these guidelines are already in the public domain.

And people are going to argue for more centralisation, of course. Some people like centralisation and single-points-of-failure, because they think of control exclusively in terms of benefits, not costs. Decentralisation has costs as well.

Very few meaningful decisions are made without accumulating both costs and benefits. It’s really a question of what benefits are desirable and what costs are unacceptable. If you can accept a single-point-of-failure that guarantees a tragedy in the long run, there are some short-term benefits to say the very least.

5. “In dealing with both critics and allies, it is always more useful to look past the superficial — towards motivations, true nature and real effects. Society encourages the shallow evaluation of goods and services, as well as of people. Vital communities must do better in this regard than general society, if they wish to thrive. This is not intended to eliminate speculation, only to temper superficiality.”

Superficiality is a theme I’ve addressed in other articles on Techrights. Back when the “Free Software Federation” was more of a concept, these were guidelines on how people who want such a thing to work (this by no means assumes that everybody would want it to) could understand how to make it run smoothly enough.

A lot of it comes down to accepting differences, having more than a single venue for progress to be worked on, and working together when it makes sense. This is more robust because if you get Amish-shunned out of one community that has gotten a bit weird or been taken over, there are other places nearby where you can contribute instead.

It is also a strong suggestion that such schemes have gradually been proven necessary if we want Free software to continue to have the level of practical success it already had in the past. A lot of people already look around and realise that “something has gone terribly wrong.” You can be certain there will be people demanding that single-points-of-failure be reinforced by more monopolistic means.

“Another thing to think about the is the level of censorship and interference going on.”As recent history has shown us, when that happens it can leave us generally out of the loop — just sort of waiting for “permission” or a “cue” to get back to business as usual, while we try to figure out how to respond or move forward, without much in the way of means to do so. A reasonable word for that effect is “devastation.” It’s good to ask if we would have that level of devastation right now, if we had found a way to make Free software (as a movement) “more robust” or as I keep saying, “more decentralised.”

In the past, we had collaboration schemes as loosely defined as something called a “web ring.” Today, a “mesh network” would be a resilient structure more worthy of consideration than a “ring” (which was often maintained by a single person, albeit one who was very open to all sorts of people joining and adding their website.)

So you could, if you wanted to maybe overhype the idea, call this an “early version of a social protocol for a voluntary organisational mesh network.” But just calling it the “THRIVE Guidelines” is probably a lot more reasonable.

Another thing to think about the is the level of censorship and interference going on. In security terms, this should be part of our threat model:

“The FSF (Boston) is at least somewhat compromised, and FSFE is (as I already thought) more compromised.”I’m referring to this sort of behaviour from large corporations.

I’m also referring to this sort of behaviour from our beloved non-profits.

And even in the example of the FSF and FSFE:

“In 2018, FSFE used these tactics to make it appear that nobody supported elections any more.”

“In 2019, rogue elements of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) staff used the same tactics to undermine their own founder, Richard Stallman.”

NOW, if we can’t even even trust the FSF to prevent this sort of thing, and if their own objectives are being compromised by the (completely unjustified — as in there is simply no good reason given) censoring of mailing-lists, what exactly do we do?

When I wrote about the need to create lifeboats for the same organisation prior to a great tragedy — which happened not 30 days later, as things turn out — I wasn’t doing that because I thought it would make a great story. I was doing it for exactly the reason it said on the tin:

A. The FSF is vulnerable.
B. The FSF is vulnerable.
C. The FSF is vulnerable.

The most obvious way around this (mission-damaging) censorship (a topic Daniel Pocock knows more about than I do — I comment on the things he goes into great detail about — with actual facts and evidence that I had only expected to come out eventually) is to have more communication, interconnection and organisation between autonomous “nodes” of this movement.

As it happens, such nodes already existed. The FSF (Boston) is at least somewhat compromised, and FSFE is (as I already thought) more compromised. I don’t even think the other FSF chapters are prepared to defend everything the FSFE is doing right now.

So who is going to hold the FSFE accountable on these matters? Their members? The FSFE is (according to what I gather from reading the things Pocock says, but not to put these words in his mouth) manipulating its members with an almost Facebook-like tactic. I’m surprised, but not shocked that it has come to that.

A federation that cares about Free software has the potential to “route around” not only mailing-list censorship, but even the corruption that happens at the very top of these organisations. But it loses that flexibility if we try too hard to “unite” under the same bad ideas. It is the redundancy that creates the robust nature of what we are doing.

If you’ve ever tried to write code that uses concurrency, you know that such things are a little less intuitive. This sort of redundancy is also less intuitive, so to make it more accessible to more people, we have these recommendations.

Now, where do we get future coders from? From time to time, some people express concern about the “aging” of their developer force. This means that people capable of contributing either aren’t allowed to join, aren’t aware of the opportunity to join, aren’t interested in joining — or don’t even exist.

One way to address all of those points is with education:

6. “Without some greater commitment to the needs and education of users, Free software will soon lose too much ground to corporations that falsely pander to them. This is not a call to make everything ‘user friendly.’ As a user, you are free to develop on your own terms. There are still areas in which progress could be made regarding development.”

Should we allow repos (such as F-Droid) to be balkanised over political differences? Maybe not:

7. “It is better to have communities divided over politics than to have software development and repos hijacked and repurposed by a single political faction.”

How can a federated community help prevent such hijacking of repos? With a (relatively) neutral 3rd (or 3rd, 4th and 5th) party:

8. When communities with valuable contributions become divided over political differences, umbrella communities and organisations are a positive way to invite long-term resolution. Haste and superficial resolution are less positive, though “first step” efforts will hopefully count for something.

But false compromise is once again warned against — due to the amount of it I think we’ve already witnessed. We always want to enable cooperation where we can, without introducing false compromises and bad compromises. Freedom of course, produces differences:

9. “Each community should be allowed to explore its own options to further the long-term benefits of its efforts towards software freedom — subject to informal approval and/or intellectually honest (fair) critique from from other communities.”

If you need permission to comment, we really have dramatically changed as a movement. Point 9 says more than that, but this is a point worth reiterating at this time.

But what about the users? What should we do for them? The user of today may one day become the ally of tomorrow. So maybe, let’s one way to set a good example for our future is:

10. Communities should avoid, as much as possible and practical, efforts to lock other users into their software or distributions. The more important and popular (and fundamental) the software is, the more modular and optional and flexible the software should ideally be. Even the distro itself should become more modular and universal — via thoughtful design conventions, rather than rigid and demanding standards. But when in doubt, refer to points 5 and 9.

If you’ve read the FSF Titanic series [note: this book is an update to that series for the year 2020] there are many more comments on making this sort of thing possible.

As for this list of recommendations — you can think of it as being told what to do, no matter how much someone stresses that the idea is nothing of the sort. On the other hand, I would say that it’s unfair to ask people to do something complicated and revolutionary without providing some real suggestions as to how it could be possible.

These guidelines were one of the first steps (predating, and even helping to inspire the FSF Titanic series) towards providing those real suggestions.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Links 8/8/2020: Mageia 8 Hits Beta and FSF Has New Video

Posted in News Roundup at 11:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Is There Room for Linux Workstations at Your Organization?

      Although it’s been a long time since Linux was more difficult to use than Windows, most companies have been reluctant to deploy Linux workstations to its employees. That might be changing.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Upcoming review: something POWERful

        I don’t yet know what exact specifications my review unit will have, but I’m assuming it’ll be the base model that has the 4-core POWER9 processor with SMT4 (4-way multithreading). I do know it’ll come with an AMD Radeon Pro WX4100 LP, which will be the only piece of hardware requiring card-side proprietary firmware (but it’s optional, since the mainboard itself has basic open source graphics capability too).

        I don’t usually do this, but there’s a first thing for everything, so here we go: do any of you have any questions about this exotic hardware you want me to try and answer? Specific things to look into? I’ll also be able to ask some questions to Raptor’s CTO, so there’s a lot of opportunity to get some serious answers.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Noodlings | Hardware is for the Terminal

        18 is such an adult number. Perhaps I am truly becoming a grown up podcast here.

        [...]

        This is another gift to future me from present me. I made the mistake of not properly writing this down before so I had to search for the answer. The problem is, sometimes, it seems as though Plasma is not shutting off my external screens consistently. I can’t say why but I have a suspicion that it is due to a specific communication application as I can almost guarantee that it is preventing my screens from turning off. I don’t have definitive proof of this so I am not going to put it in writing.

    • Kernel Space

      • Char/Misc Is Still Quite Busy With Linux 5.9 Still Lacking An “Accelerator” Subsystem

        The “char/misc” area of the kernel continues to be quite busy for Linux 5.9 included as a sort of “catch-all” for the Linux kernel drivers not properly jiving within other areas. While there previously was talk of formally making a hardware accelerator subsystem for the Linux kernel for fitting some of the drivers currently living under char/misc, as of Linux 5.9 that still has not materialized.

        With more AI driver work for mainline and new accelerator devices coming to market, the “accelerator” subsystem will surely come in due course but for now the likes of the Habana Labs driver live under the char/misc umbrella.

      • ARM Now Defaulting To Schedutil Governor, Other Power Management Work For Linux 5.9

        There are a number of notable power management changes to find with the Linux 5.9 kernel.

      • Linux Plumbers Conference: Toolchain Microconference Accepted into 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference

        We are pleased to announce that the Toolchain Microconference has been accepted into the 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference!

        The GNU toolchain has direct impact on the development of the Linux kernel and it is imperative that the developers of both ecosystems have an understanding of each other’s needs. Linux Plumbers is the perfect venue for the two communities to interact, and the GNU Toolchain microconference’s purpose is to facilitate that happening.

        Last year’s meetup at Linux Plumbers proved that it is critical that the two communities communicate with each other. As a result of last year’s microconference, the GNU toolchain has completed adding support for BPF, in a more flexible and usable way and system call wrappers in glibc were improved. There have been security features derived from the discussions, such as zeroing of registers when entering a function and implicit initialization of atomics.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Kubuntu 20.04.1 has been released today, featuring the beautiful KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS

          The Kubuntu Team is happy to announce that Kubuntu 20.04.1 LTS “point release” is available today, featuring the beautiful KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS: simple by default, powerful when needed.

          As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Kubuntu 20.04 LTS.

        • This week in KDE: window thumbnails on Wayland

          This week we got tons and tons of stuff done, including window thumbnails on Wayland! This much-awaited feature brings our Wayland session ever closer to parity with the X11 session.

        • More Wayland Fixes Pile On For KDE Plasma 5.20

          Getting KDE’s Wayland session into shape remains a priority for developers this year and it’s looking like the support should be quite slick come Plasma 5.20.

        • GSoC’20 progress : Phase II

          And just like that, the second phase of my project for Google Summer of Code is done. The evaluation results have arrived and I have passed successfully. I am thankful to my mentors for providing help and guidance throughout this project.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Epiphany History Selection Mode

          Since my last blog post I have been working on implementing a selection mode for Epiphany’s History Dialog. The selection mode is a pretty common pattern seen throughout GNOME applications. It’s used to easily manipulate a set of selected items from a list or grid. I’ve used the selection mode from GNOME Boxes as a reference when implementing it in Epiphany.

          [...]

          Activating the selection mode reveals the action bar at the bottom which can be used to delete the selected items from history or open them in new tabs in the main browser window.

          Another new change is the addition of the Copy URL button located to the right of each history row. The button is used to copy the item’s URL to clipboard. This change is not directly related to the selection mode, but it was added in order to remove the right-click popover menu which was previously used to open history items in new tabs and copy URLs to clipboard.

    • Distributions

      • Best Multimedia Linux distributions

        When choosing the best Linux distribution for your needs, multimedia experts such as video editors and photographers will benefit most from a Linux distro that specializes in multimedia production.

        There are a few Linux distrubitions that fill the gap for multimedia gurus, and we’re going to cover the top choices in this article. Read below to see our countdown of the five best multimedia Linux distros.

      • New Releases

        • elementary OS 6 Promises New Look and Feel, New Installer, and More

          elementary OS 6 is under heavy development these days, and developer Cassidy James Blaede shared today some of the work that’s going on behind the curtains. He just revealed in a blog post a part of the major changes coming to elementary OS 6, due for release later this year.

          First and foremost, elementary OS 6 promises a new look and feel. What’s changing beside the default wallpaper? Well, the typography and the system stylesheet, which apparently affects almost everything on the system, from the panel and default apps to all curated apps in the AppCenter.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Mageia 8 Hits Beta with Plasma 5.19.3, Firefox 78, and Linux Kernel 5.7.9

          Mageia 8 beta comes about a month after the release of Mageia 8 alpha and brings with it various updated core components compared to the previous version, which include the Linux 5.7.9 kernel, Mozilla Firefox 78 web browser, LibreOffice 6.4.5 office suite, and KDE Plasma 5.19.3 desktop environment.

          The Mageia 8 beta release is available for download right now from the official website for early adopters. Three live editions are provided with the KDE Plasma, GNOME, and Xfce desktop environments for 64-bit computers, and there’s also a 32-bit ISO image only with the Xfce desktop.

        • Mageia 8 Beta 1 Released With Many Improvements
        • More Progress for Mageia 8 – Beta 1 is available for testing

          We are happy to announce the release of Mageia 8 Beta 1. After the good feedback from Alpha 1, there have been some improvements and fixes for this release, we look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts so that we can continue to get Mageia 8 ready for release.

          A full list of included packages is available in the .idx file for the installation media.

          For those that want to jump in and test straight away, the images can be downloaded here, as always with pre-release images, use your best judgement.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • IWB (the man who brought GNU/Linux to IBM): Are We Becoming a Decadent, Stagnating Society?

          Earlier this year I read a very interesting essay, “The Age of Decadence”, by NY Times columnist Ross Douthat. The essay is adapted from his recently published book The Decadent Society – How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. This long essay covers a lot of ground, from technology and innovation to politics and religion. The essay was published in early February, before Covid-19 spread across the US. I’ll discuss the original essay, but I do wonder how it would have been modified to reflect the impact of the pandemic.

          “The real story of the West in the 21st century is one of stalemate and stagnation,” wrote Douthat. “Everyone knows that we live in a time of constant acceleration, of vertiginous change, of transformation or looming disaster everywhere you look. Partisans are girding for civil war, robots are coming for our jobs, and the news feels like a multicar pileup every time you fire up Twitter. Our pessimists see crises everywhere; our optimists insist that we’re just anxious because the world is changing faster than our primitive ape-brains can process.”

          “But what if the feeling of acceleration is an illusion, conjured by our expectations of perpetual progress and exaggerated by the distorting filter of the internet?,” he asked. What if we really inhabit an era in which repetition is more the norm than invention; in which new developments in science and technology consistently undercover; in which we’re comfortably aging, “no longer optimistic about the future… [while] growing old unhappily together.” What if “Our civilization has entered into decadence.”

        • Matrix encrypted chat rolls out across Germany, Project ACRN’s new IoT release, and more open source news

          In this week’s edition of our open source news roundup, an open source microfluidics pump, Germany rolls out an encrypted messaging platform based on Matrix, and more open source news.

        • Fedora program update: 2020-32

          Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora this week. Nest With Fedora is happening now! Fedora 33 branch day is Tuesday.

      • Debian Family

        • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in July 2020

          This month I accepted 434 packages and rejected 54. The overall number of packages that got accepted was 475.

        • Improvements to Merge Proposals by the Janitor

          The Debian Janitor is an automated system that commits fixes for (minor) issues in Debian packages that can be fixed by software. It gradually started proposing merges in early December. The first set of changes sent out ran lintian-brush on sid packages maintained in Git. This post is part of a series about the progress of the Janitor.

          Since the original post, merge proposals created by the janitor now include the debdiff between a build with and without the changes (showing the impact to the binary packages), in addition to the merge proposal diff (which shows the impact to the source package).

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Driving Value as a Tiny UX Content Team: How We Spend Content Strategy Resources Wisely

            Our tiny UX content strategy team works to deliver the right content to the right users at the right time. We make sure product content is useful, necessary, and appropriate. This includes everything from writing an error message in Firefox to developing the full end-to-end content experience for a stand-alone product.

            Mozilla has around 1,000 employees, and many of those are developers. Our UX team has 20 designers, 7 researchers, and 3 content strategists. We support the desktop and mobile Firefox browsers, as well as satellite products.

            There’s no shortage of requests for content help, but there is a shortage of hours and people to tackle them. When the organization wants more of your time than you actually have, what’s a strategic content strategist to do?

          • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 77
          • Improving Your Experience across Products

            When you log into your Firefox Account, you expect a seamless experience across all your devices. In the past, we weren’t doing the best job of delivering on that experience, because we didn’t have the tools to collect cross-product metrics to help us make educated decisions in a way that fulfilled our lean data practices and our promise to be a trusted steward of your data. Now we do.

            Firefox 81 will include new telemetry measurements that help us understand the experience of Firefox Account users across multiple products, answering questions such as: Do users who set up Firefox Sync spend more time on desktop or mobile devices? How is Firefox Lockwise, the password-manager built into the Firefox desktop browser, used differently than the Firefox Lockwise apps? We will use the unique privacy features of Firefox Accounts to answer questions like these while staying true to Mozilla’s data principles of necessity, privacy, transparency, and accountability–in particular, cross-product telemetry will only gather non-identifiable interaction data, like button clicks, used to answer specific product questions.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Week 9 Report

          The last week was the 9th week of coding weeks in GSoC program. I almost finished my final exams period I will start to work again with the regular rate.

      • FSF

        • The University of Costumed Heroes: A video from the FSF

          This video is the second in a series of animated videos created by the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF), and this one is themed around our campaign against the use of proprietary remote education software.

          We must reverse the trend of forsaking young people’s freedom, which has been accelerating as corporations try to capitalize on the need to establish new remote education practices. Free software not only protects the freedoms of your child or grandchild by allowing people to study the source code for any malicious functionalities, it also communicates important values like autonomy, sharing, social responsibility, and collaboration.

        • The FSF’s approach to using online videos for advocacy

          A consistent bit of feedback we hear from both current and potential free software supporters is: do better at using video to communicate the importance of free software philosophy. If we aim to make free software a “kitchen table” issue, it is imperative we reach new audiences and make our points clearly, in formats that successfully engage people with limited time, across a diverse set of learning styles. From a technical perspective, this means reaching them where they are — or more specifically — on whatever device they are using at the moment.

          Many unfortunately commonly used devices such as the iPhone do not support the video and audio formats we prefer to use in the world of free software. Apple’s iron grip on the device prevents all but technically advanced users from installing the software necessary to play these formats: among them Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and WebM. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and other free software activists advocate for these formats due to the danger posed by software patents, a pernicious legal invention that casts a dark cloud over all software development. Software patents make it possible for patent owners who can state their case well enough to make claims against any piece of free software. This alone puts developers at risk. One doesn’t even need to have a valid patent to threaten action: if the developer lacks the funds to defend themselves, an absurd patent claim could be equally dangerous.

      • Programming/Development

        • 10 Best Free Neovim GUIs

          Vim is a highly configurable, powerful, console-based, open source text editor. It’s efficient, letting users edit files with a minimum of keystrokes. Vim offers word completion, undo, shortcuts, abbreviations, keyboard customization, macros, and scripts. You can turn this into your editor for your environment.

          [...]

          To use Neovim, you can use the program in a terminal emulator. Alternatively, there’s the option of using a third party GUI designed for Neovim. Neither Vim nor Neovim were built for beauty. However, many users prefer a graphical interface combined with the power of Neo(vim). One interesting aspect of Neovim’s RPC support is that developers can create new front-ends for Neovim that are outside of the terminal.

          This article seems to highlight the best free and open source front-ends for Neovim. Here’s our recommendations. The vast majority of the software featured in this article is cross-platform.

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RVowpalWabbit 0.0.15: Some More CRAN Build Issues

          Another maintenance RVowpalWabbit package update brought us to version 0.0.15 earlier today. We attempted to fix one compilation error on Solaris, and addressed a few SAN/UBSAN issues with the gcc build.

          As noted before, there is a newer package rvw based on the excellent GSoC 2018 and beyond work by Ivan Pavlov (mentored by James and myself) so if you are into Vowpal Wabbit from R go check it out.

        • Python

          • Simulating a Turing Machine with Python and executing programs on it

            In this article, we shall implement a basic version of a Turing Machine in python and write a few simple programs to execute them on the Turing machine. This article is inspired by the edX / MITx course Paradox and Infinity and few of the programs to be executed on the (simulated) Turing machine are taken from the course. Also, some programs are from this Cambridge tutorial.

        • Rust

          • Possibly one step towards named arguments in Rust

            A number of programming languages offer a feature called “Named Arguments” or “Labeled Arguments”, which makes some function calls much more readable and safer.

            Let’s see how hard it would be to add these in Rust.

  • Leftovers

    • The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified

      With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is warning us today that if we fail to build alternatives to the current system governed by voracious, ruthless and extractive capitalism, it will rob our descendants of the future.

    • Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
    • The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski

      Among my favorite writers, Harvey Pekar and Charles Bukowski share an uncommon distinction. Despite having lowly jobs as a Cleveland veterans hospital file clerk and sorting mail in the post office, they received the highest accolades for their work. In a 1985 New York Times book review, David Rosenthal wrote that “Mr. Pekar’s work has been compared by literary critics to Chekhov’s and Dostoyevsky’s, and it is easy to see why.” As for Bukowski, Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “America’s greatest living poet today,” although his biographer Howard Sounes discounts that as a tale Bukowski circulated. As for me, I don’t need Sounes’s imprimatur to evaluate Bukowski’s literary merits. I regard him as one of our best writers of the past half-century, and the kind of writer that helped me keep me feeling less isolated in a mammon-worshiping nation. Writers who have held down regular jobs like Herman Melville on a whaling ship or Jack Kerouac as a railway brakeman are closer to our reality than those churned out on the Iowa Writer’s Workshop assembly line.

    • Celebration of Change
    • THE LAST BIG GULP – Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School Of Medicine
    • For Ottessa Moshfegh, Novel Writing Is a Spiritual Experience
    • The Worst that Can Happen to an Author

      But being a writer is about being able to take a punch and either laugh it off or full-on ignore it. I’m a full time writer, and not a week goes by that I don’t get a scathing review from someone who didn’t read the book description or even look at the cover. (Don’t read your reviews. Seriously.)

    • Education

      • How COVID-19 Is Normalizing an eLearning-Industrial-Complex in US Higher Education

        We should think critically about whether the emergency response at a moment of crisis is being used to justify the questionable collaboration of neoliberal universities with a billion-dollar eLearning industry that prioritizes profit over learning.

      • Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall

        Our infantile President needs to be taught some lessons. It’s not just the lessons that the liberal meritocracy wants him to learn. Trump’s opposition in the majority of the Democratic Party and the corporate media who backs them up wants Trump to start listening to the experts—who are often in their position of power through many of the same tactics as Trump: ability to bullshit, lack of empathy, being boring enough to have ambition. Our country may be full of idiots but they are mostly at the top.

    • Hardware

      • What’s wrong with Intel, and how to fix it: Former principal engineer unloads

        Piednoel said Intel’s technical decisions have largely been “nonsense” since 2016. Incidentally, Piednoel left Intel in 2017 after serving as a principal engineer and performance architect for 20 years, working on CPUs from the Pentium III to the 6th-gen Core i7. The outspoken engineer often made technical presentations and demonstration pitches to the hardware press, passionately arguing why design decisions made by Intel were the right decisions.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Navajo Nation’s Shortage of Clean Water Is Impeding Efforts to Control COVID

        Growing up in Vanderwagen, an arid, mountainous checker-board region of the Navajo Nation near the Arizona-New Mexico border, Sunny Dooley learned from an early age that safe, clean water was as precious as a rare mineral, and just as hard to find.

      • The White House Paid Up to $500 Million Too Much for These Ventilators, Congressional Investigators Say

        Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

        The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

      • South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results

        On May 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the epicenter of COVID-19 had moved to Latin America, particularly South America. The region now has the highest number of new cases and deaths in the world. Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile, in this order, have the highest number of deaths in the region.

      • What Happens When Covid-19 Becomes Old News?

        The struggle against Covid-19 has often been compared to fighting a war. Much of this rhetoric is bombast, but the similarities between the struggle against the virus and against human enemies are real enough. War reporting and pandemic reporting likewise have much in common because, in both cases, journalists are dealing with and describing matters of life and death. Public interest is fueled by deep fears, often more intense during an epidemic because the whole population is at risk. In a war, aside from military occupation and area bombing, terror is at its height among those closest to the battlefield.

      • America’s Multiple Infections

        On a per capita basis, Belgium has been the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus. With a population of 11.5 million, it registered over 66,000 infections and nearly 10,000 deaths. In fact, Belgium’s level of mortality of 860 deaths per million inhabitants is the highest in the world.

      • Love Mask
      • Students Suspended for Taking Pictures of Crowds in Georgia School’s Reopening

        A high school in Paulding County, Georgia, is facing steep criticism for how it has handled reopening its schools after several images on social media revealed a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing among the student body.

      • Portraits of a Pandemic

        Over the past five months, I have been drawing daily portraits of people affecting and affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning August 14, they will be a weekly feature at TheNation.com.

      • Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response

        As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, many rural communities are in a uniquely difficult position.

      • Alec Baldwin lets his antivaccine freak flag fly by interviewing RFK Jr.

        Science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and disinformation about COVID-19 have been dominating the topics of this blog for such a long time that it’s seeming like an increasingly long time since I’ve written much about the topics that used to be the main drivers of this blog; e.g., antivaccine misinformation, cancer quackery, science denial, and just plain science. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in so much pseudoscience, misinformation, and disinformation that is even more direct a threat to public health than the antivaccine movement that I’ve largely been concentrating on it since March, with relatively few posts that are “purely” about other topics. Examples include conspiracy theories that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was created in a lab, that 5G networks and/or influenza vaccines increase susceptibility to COVID-19, that masks don’t work to slow the spread of COVID-19 (they do), that COVID-19 is far less deadly than health authorities have estimated, that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for coronavirus, and the like have dominated this blog for nearly five months. Also, to the big surprise of many but unsurprising to those of us who’ve been paying attention to the antivaccine movement for years, a confluence between the antivaccine movement and the antimask/COVID-19 denialist movement and the antivaccine movement, which brings us to Alec Baldwin and antivaccine activist and leader Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

      • Fixing the COVID Numbers

        Right on schedule, when the death rate started to rise again, the Trump regime put the kibosh on any further CDC covid reporting. In the weeks before this death-rate spike, as the covid conflagration burned through Trump country, regime spokesmen crowed about the death rate being flat. No matter that all health experts warned death is a lagging indicator. No matter that the plague roared out of control. The Trump regime had a plan. Like any good banana republic, when the news got bad, the strongman stopped the news.

      • Neil deMause on Reopening Coverage, Nicole Porter on Covid and Prisons
      • Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose

        + Four years of Trump, the most precipitous collapse of the US economy in history and one killer pandemic later and we’re right back to where we were in the late summer of 2016…

      • The COVID Interregnum

        A little over 500 years ago, Europeans, driven by a lust for riches and enabled by new technologies, colonized the Americas and set about making them productive in an entirely new way. The reasonably self-sustaining economies of the indigenous peoples were swept away and the organic and mineral resources of their lands were incorporated into systems of production that generated surplus wealth, by serving newly established markets in the Americas and around the world. Thus, was the New World enfolded into the then emerging system of capitalism.

      • 20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19

        I was in the Iraqi Kurdistan region when COVID-19 hit the world hard in March of this year. Suddenly, all airports, roads between cities in Iraq, and life itself were shut down in Iraq and many countries around the world. A strict curfew was imposed while I was visiting my relatives in Duhok city. The curfew kept getting extended, mostly two weeks at a time with no end in sight. I decided to remain calm and maintain my equilibrium. After everything I have experienced in Iraq over the years, there is hardly any disaster that can take me by surprise, I thought to myself. Not even death itself will get the pleasure of taking me by surprise at this point.

      • War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast

        The struggle against Covid-19 has often been compared to fighting a war. Much of this rhetoric is bombast, but the similarities between the struggle against the virus and against human enemies are real enough. War reporting and pandemic reporting likewise have much in common because, in both cases, journalists are dealing with and describing matters of life and death. Public interest is fueled by deep fears, often more intense during an epidemic because the whole population is at risk. In a war, aside from military occupation and area bombing, terror is at its height among those closest to the battlefield.

      • Republican Gov. DeWine Tests Positive for Covid-19 as Virus Sweeps Across Ohio Ahead of Trump Visit

        The announcement comes as teachers and parents criticize the state’s school reopening plans.

      • Japan’s coronavirus fatigue is fueling defiance in Tokyo, even as the case count rises
    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • [Old] Pekka Lundmark to start as President and CEO of Nokia on August 1, 2020

          Espoo, Finland – Pekka Lundmark will start his new role as President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia on August 1, 2020, one month earlier than previously communicated. Rajeev Suri will leave his current position on July 31, 2020 and continue to serve as an advisor to the Nokia Board until January 1, 2021.

          The earlier start date is due to Fortum having appointed a new CEO as of July 1, 2020 and after a one-month transition period Pekka is available to take over at Nokia.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Have I Been Pwned Set to Go Open-Source

              “I need to choose the right parts of the project to open up in the right way at the right time,” he said. “The transition from completely closed to completely open will happen incrementally, bit-by-bit and in a fashion that’s both manageable and responsible.”

              He added, “I want to get to a point where everything possible is open. I want the infrastructure configuration to be open too and I want the whole thing to be self-sustaining by the community.”

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • TikTok and WeChat: Chinese apps dogged by security fears

              Tencent surpassed Facebook’s net worth after it became the first Asian firm to be valued at more than $500 billion in 2017.

              The Hong Kong-listed company now has a market capitalisation of HK$5.32 trillion ($686 billion), compared with Facebook’s $756 billion.

            • Home Lab

              I became more interested in personal privacy after my Roku started spying on what we were watching outside the Roku itself, our mesh WiFi router switched to a subscription model for “AI” and “cloud” features, and our smart home switches required access to “the cloud” just to turn on lights. TVs, WiFi routers, and smart home devices are all driving prices down by supplementing hardware sales revenue with personal data sales.

              On top of that, after creating a custom smart lock, I saw first hand how Google and Amazon’s smart home infrastructures are built around selling cloud services and capturing my personal data, while Apple HomeKit is designed to work without any internet access at all.

              Given these consideration, I wanted a more robust router and firewall between my home network and the internet. I wanted to be able to completely block smart home devices from accessing the internet. And I wanted to do everything as cheaply as possible while maintaining compute resource (CPU, RAM, disk) separation between self-hosted services.

            • The US declared war on TikTok because it can’t handle the truth

              TikTok does gather a lot of personal data, but it’s no more than what Facebook and other social networks also gather. The difference between TikTok and Facebook is that we have a great deal of transparency into the process by which Facebook gives your information to various governments. And specifically, Facebook does not release data to the Chinese government.

            • Trump’s WeChat ban could touch everything from Spotify to League of Legends

              Tencent is one of the largest tech companies in the world, and it’s spent the last few years buying stakes in video game studios, music companies, and social media apps. It’s bigger than ByteDance, and with significant ownership stakes in Snap, Blizzard, Spotify, and others, it’s far more embedded in the global tech industry. Yesterday’s order made those connections much more dangerous, even if they fall outside the narrow legal consequences of the order. As Tencent responds and its business partners are forced to choose sides, the consequences could be far broader than the White House realizes — and far more damaging to the average consumer.

            • Trump ban of Tencent Holdings could affect Fortnite, League of Legends and other games

              The crux of both orders lies within Section 1 (a), whose language differs only in the named company. “The following actions shall be prohibited beginning 45 days after the date of this order, to the extent permitted under applicable law: any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”

              In the case of Tencent, that would mean customers in the United States would be banned from engaging with Tencent-owned games or subsidiaries. What’s not clear is whether those users would also be prohibited from engaging with companies in which Tencent has an interest.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Trump Blasted for Naming ‘War Criminal’ and Iran-Contra Convict Elliott Abrams as Iran Envoy

        “Elliott Abrams has made a career of lying and committing criminal acts that have led to the death and suffering of innocent people from Guatemala to Iraq.”

      • What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China

        Chinese and Indian forces have pulled back from their confrontation in the Himalayas, but the tensions that set off the deadly encounter this past June—the first on the China/India border since 1975—are not going away. Indeed, a combination of local disputes, regional antagonisms and colonial history have brewed up a poisonous elixir that could pose a serious danger to peace in South Asia.

      • Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet

        Jammu and Kashmir, widely referred to as Kashmir, has had many designations since India and Pakistan were partitioned by Britain and gained their respective independence from the Empire: a Princely State, a State, a Union Territory. The 86,000 mile, Muslim-majority region sits in the Himalayas on the border with China. It is of strategic significance to both India and Pakistan, primarily because of the Siachen Glacier which brings freshwater the drought-ridden nations. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons: armaments of such destruction that even a “minor” regional war would cause more than a decade of global nuclear winter.

      • 75 Years On: Reflections and Preflections on Hiroshima

        We cannot change what happened, neither the heinous military nor the tragic moral stains that indelibly mark its occurrence.  But we can transcend it, rise above it, by naming it, acknowledging it, repudiating it, and committing ourselves to a greater expression of the people and society we imagine and hope ourselves to be.

      • Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood

        Today, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima, should be a day for quiet introspection. I recall a summer morning following the U.S. 2003 “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq when the segment of the Chicago River flowing past the headquarters of the world’s second largest defense contractor, Boeing, turned the rich, red color of blood. At the water’s edge, Chicago activists, long accustomed to the river being dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day turned the river red to symbolize the bloodshed caused by Boeing products. On the bridge outside of Boeing’s entrance, activists held placards urging Boeing to stop making weapons.

      • DNC Platform Condemns BDS But Not Israel’s Occupation of Palestine

        Due to a series of decisions by the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC’s) platform committee, progressives are concerned that the Biden-led Democratic Party’s foreign policy toward Israel and Palestine will more closely resemble that of Republicans than that of the Democratic rank-and-file.

      • The Military is Sick

        American military personnel are getting sick in significant numbers in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. As The New York Times reported in a pieceburied in the back pages of its July 21st edition, “The infection rate in the services has tripled over the past six weeks as the United States military has emerged as a potential source of transmission both domestically and abroad.”

      • Clive Ponting, Hero

        Clive Ponting, doyen of British whistleblowers, anti-imperialist historian and campaigner for Scottish independence has died at his home in Kelso, age 74.

      • USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
      • Book: Pentagon Officials Withheld Options From Trump for Fear He May Start a War

        A new book by CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto details how several officials were reticent to provide President Donald Trump with military options out of fears he could have responded to international events by starting new wars.

      • Gun Lovers Should Be Thanking Tish James for Suing the NRA

        New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a blockbuster lawsuit yesterday calling for the dissolution of the National Rifle Association. The charges follow an investigation led by her office into the NRA’s alleged financial misdealings. The lawsuit accuses NRA leaders of violating state and federal laws and diverting millions of dollars meant for the NRA’s operations into their personal coffers. Longtime NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre is a named defendant in the lawsuit, along with three other current or former high-ranking NRA officials.

      • Ex-Saudi official says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent hit squad to kill him

        Assassination attempt was foiled by Canadian authorities, Saad al-Jabri says in lawsuit against Saudi royal

      • More tanks, troops deployed in Ladakh

        In response to China’s deployment of more than 17,000 troops and armoured vehicles opposite Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) and Depsang plains in Ladakh, India has made heavy deployment of troops and tank regiments in the area to counter any misadventure by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) there.

      • Jalalabad Jailbreak Highlights Resurgence of ‘Eliminated’ ISIS

        The site of the attack was particularly worrying because the Jalalabad prison holds hundreds of Taliban fighters—and, potentially worse, fighters claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, a terrorist group that has made this eastern Afghan city one of its primary targets.

      • ‘Still Here’: Honoring Hibakusha 75 Years After

        As we hear the voices of the victims of the atrocities, it is time we take definitive action to continue their fight to once and for all abolish nuclear weapons.

      • A Reversal in the Name of Human Survival

        We must turn away from war, and the profit motives that drive so much of it, if we are to finally realize our dreams of peace and justice.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Saying PACER Overcharged Users

        A lawsuit against PACER for its long list of wrongs may finally pay off for the many, many people who’ve subjected themselves to its many indignities. The interface looks and runs like a personal Geocities page and those who manage to navigate it successfully are on the hook for pretty much every page it generates, including $0.10/page for search results that may not actually give users what they’re looking for.

      • Facebook removes QAnon group, cites harassment and misinformation

        The 200,000-member group titled “Official Q/Qanon” was taken down on Tuesday after several posts were removed for violating Facebook’s guidelines on bullying and harassment, hate speech and false information that could lead to harm.

      • Facebook removes one of largest QAnon conspiracy groups after false posts

        QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs based on anonymous web postings from someone claiming special insider knowledge of the Trump administration. The core tenet is that President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators including prominent Democrats.

        Though the FBI has identified QAnon as among fringe movements likely to encourage extremist violence, a growing number of office-seeking Republicans have praised the loose association.

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • American Failures: August, 2020

        It’s probably unpatriotic and maybe treasonable to talk about American failures but they are now so glaring that some 12 minutes of read time seems pardonable in this Age of Twitter “discourse.” That such obvious failures, if admitted at all, are politicized relative to which side of the Blue/Red street you are one is itself a notable failure. I mean we can’t look around and identify in complete correspondence as to what we see.

      • State prosecutors request prison terms for activists accused of dressing a Putin mannequin in a prisoner’s uniform

        State prosecutors in Perm have requested prison terms for the three defendants in a hooliganism case that was opened over a protest action involving a Putin mannequin dressed up in a prisoner’s uniform, reports the Telegram channel “Apologia Protesta.”

      • The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics

        The US Left Needs Humility to Understand the Politics of México

      • Political consultant arrested in Belarus accused of inciting riots

        Well-known political consultant Vitaly Shklyarov, who was arrested in Belarus on July 29, is facing charges of inciting riots under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, Shklyarov’s lawyer Anton Gashinsky told the news outlet Tut.by. 

      • Putin and Lukashenko discuss arrest of 33 suspected Russian mercenaries in Belarus

        Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone call with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) on Friday, August 7 — just two days before the presidential elections in Belarus. 

      • ‘I didn’t think it was all so fragile’: Inside the breakout opposition campaign that turned the Belarusian presidential election on its head

        The most unexpected development in this year’s unusually contested presidential race in Belarus has been the Svetlana Tikhanovskaya campaign. A housewife without political ambitions until just months ago, she’s mounted a formidable challenge to Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka), threatening his 26-year reign. Even in small towns far removed from Belarusian politics, Tikhanovskaya’s speeches at rallies draw thousands of people. At Meduza’s request, Belarusian journalist Yan Avseyushkin spent several days with the Tikhanovskaya campaign to try to understand how this team has succeeded where so many others failed. 

      • Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People

        As the nation celebrated Independence Day on July 4th, 2020, Summer Taylor, a white non-binary person was killed after a car drove into a crowd of protestors in Seattle on July 4. Taylor was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Taylor worked full time at Urban Animal veterinary hospital. Over the holiday weekend, two Black trans women – Shaki Peters (of Amity, LO) and Bree Black (of Pompano Beach, FL) – were also killed.

      • When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan

        Well folks, it’s official, Donald Trump has declared war on America. Probably should have saw that coming. After all, I’ve long argued that our dayglow duce isn’t an isolationist but merely the world’s shittiest imperialist. After trying and failing miserably to bring fascism to Nicaragua and Venezuela, Trump has set his sites on targets much more suited to his America First brand of colonialism. The one war our asshole in chief has managed to wage successfully after all has been the federal government’s war on undocumented brown children. He may have failed to give Israel Iran but he succeeded swimmingly at giving ICE Aztlan, setting up a veritable gulag archipelago of Chuckie Cheese concentration camps on the Rio Grande that would make Woodrow Wilson wet with envy. Now he’s sicking those same feds on America’s more belligerent third world neighborhoods, turning Seattle and Detroit into Managua and Caracas in a sad and evil attempt to fellate his flaccid poll numbers by publicly thrashing black people and their allies for demanding an end to police state apartheid.

      • Police investigate teenage girl’s death at convent seized by defrocked Orthodox priest

        On August 6, 15-year-old Marina passed away at the Sredneuralsk Women’s Monastery — the same convent outside of Yekaterinburg that was taken over by the recently defrocked Orthodox priest Sergii Romanov in June. A source told the news outlet 66.ru that Marina had been living at the monastery’s “hospice,” and that she had died of cancer. The Sverdlovsk Region’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, Igor Morokov, said that Marina had been staying at the monastery with her parents, and confirmed that she died of natural causes: “A disease, there’s nothing criminal there.” Nevertheless, Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin ordered an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Marina’s death.

      • ‘I want changes!’ Minsk court jails two sound engineers for ten days for playing a famous protest song at a pro-government event

        On Friday, August 7, a Minsk court jailed sound engineers Kiryl Halanau and Uladzislau Sakalouski for ten days on administrative charges of minor hooliganism and disobedience, reports Mediazona. The court made this decision the day after Halanau and Sakalouski played the famous protest song “Khochu Peremen!” (“I Want Changes!’) by the Soviet-era rock band Kino during a pro-government concert at the Belarusian capital’s Kievsky Square. During the lead up to the 2020 presidential elections in Belarus, this particular song has been used during campaign rallies in support of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya).

      • Electionland 2020: Masks at the Polls, Election Funding, Ex-Felon Enfranchisement and More
      • Outraised 250-1, Progressive Marquita Bradshaw Upsets Establishment Opponent

        Despite being outraised 250-1 by her establishment-backed opponent, progressive environmentalist Marquita Bradshaw scored a stunning upset victory in the Tennessee Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat on Thursday after running on a platform that included Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

      • “The World’s Most Dangerous Man”: Mary Trump on Her Uncle, President Trump, & Why He Must Be Ousted

        “In my family, being kind was considered being weak,” says Mary Trump, President Trump’s niece, a clinical psychologist and author of “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” We spend the hour with Mary Trump, discussing her book the president doesn’t want people to read, in which she describes his upbringing in a dysfunctional family that fostered his greed, cruelty and racist and sexist behaviors — which he is now inflicting on the world. Mary Trump also discusses the president’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, his long history of lies and misrepresentations, and the dangers of his reelection. “I believe that this country is on the knife’s edge, and I don’t want anybody going to cast their vote in November being able to claim that they just don’t know who they’re voting for,” she says.

      • Trump Supports Housing Segregation—and So Do a Lot of White Liberals

        In recent weeks, just after the umpteenth round of media reports about the president’s purported change in tone, Donald Trump resumed stoking white people’s fears of Black people. This time, his racist outbursts were directed at “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” who he indicated would find themselves living in a multiracial nightmare if Joe Biden is elected.

      • Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies

        It seems every day since I last wrote about Amazonia and COVID-19 about three months ago, another Amerindian leader has died from Coronavirus, another knowledgeable elder gone, and more tragedy compiling upon tragedy not only in the Brazilian Amazon but throughout indigenous communities in Lowland South America. By any standard, at least in Brazil, the Brazilian federal government’s neglect of its indigenous peoples and the deleterious effects from the COVID-19 disease, are tantamount to genocide. Many observers, inclusive of anthropologists, journalists, NGOs, and jurists like Deisy Ventura have said as much in regard to investigating those responsible for Amerindian genocide such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration.

      • Russia Needs a New Gorbachev

        The mass protests in the Far East city of Khabarovsk, now in their fourth week, are unprecedented for the Russia of the last 20 years. The spark that lit the fuse of popular outrage was the unexpected arrest of Governor Sergei Furgal in on July 11 on charges of organizing the murders of businessmen in 2004 and 2005.

      • Listening, Conflict and Citizenship

        In Strong Democracy (1984), Benjamin Barber argues that liberals have reduced “talk to speech” which has “unfortunately inspired political institutions that foster the articulation of interests but that slight the difficult art of listening” (p. 174). He thinks that our representative form of politics enhances the “speaking function … while the listening function is diminished” (ibid.). Barber further contends that the Anglo-American adversary system penalizes listening. In contrast, participatory processes of self-legislation nourish mutualistic listening. Listeners do not scrutinize the opponent’s position to crush their opponents.

      • Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy

        For many reasons, democracy is associate with the word liberal. A liberal shows commitment to fundamental democratic values such as freedom of speech, the separation of powers, and the protection of individual rights. In this understanding, George W. Bush is as much of a liberal as Barack Obama. In the American understanding, however, only one of the two is a true liberal. In today’s politics, it is rather doubtful to see Donald Trump as any kind of liberal – not in the more general and not in the American understanding.

      • A Biden Administration Will Have to Confront Trump’s Corruption

        On July 21, The New York Times described a small but typical example of corruption in the Trump era. “The American ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, told multiple colleagues in February 2018 that President Trump had asked him to see if the British government could help steer the world-famous and lucrative British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland,” the newspaper reported.

      • Believing ‘Wall Street Journal’ Op-Eds Can Be Deadly

        In 1981, Ben Bagdikian, a veteran journalist and former dean of the University of California, Berkeley, journalism school, tried to explain why The Wall Street Journal published an opinion section dominated by an almost lunatic fringe. “Executives and stockholders really do want to know the unpleasant truth about corporate life when it affects their careers or incomes. At the same time, however, most of them are true believers in the rhetoric of free enterprise,” he noted. Therefore, by “singing the grand old hymns of unfettered laissez-faire on the editorial pages” while reporting the truth in its news pages, “the Journal has it both ways.”

      • Progressives Are Rallying Behind Karen Bass for VP

        More than 300 progressive Democratic National Convention delegates from more than three dozen states are signaling to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that they want him to choose Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chair Karen Bass as his running mate. “We, delegates to the DNC for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and others, believe Congresswoman Karen Bass is the best choice among Vice Presidential candidates under consideration to help unify our party and move our nation forward,” reads the statement that was circulated Friday. “We urge Vice President Biden to choose her to join the ticket.”

      • The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election

        First, it was a public health crisis. Now, it’s decimating the economy. And for it’s next trick, the coronavirus is threatening to undermine the 2020 election.

      • Judge Rules Trump Rape Accuser E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Suit Against President Can Proceed

        The decision means the writer’s attorneys can continue seeking Trump’s DNA as evidence and trying to interview him under oath.

      • DNC Appears Ready to Sideline Progressive Standout Ocasio-Cortez at Upcoming Convention

        “You want Bill Clinton to speak but maybe not AOC. Okay, dummies.”

      • ‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a Major Trump Donor—Ousts Top Officials

        “America is in a dead sprint to authoritarianism. The man is pulling out all the stops to prevent the citizens of this country from holding a legitimate election in which he might face removal from office.”

      • Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left

        The rapid end to the electoral fortunes of the Anglo-American left in 2020 was engineered by radical centrists for the benefit of capital. What was banished, in addition to vibrant and informed opposition to an atrophied political class, was the prospect of Federal government programs that are both desired and needed by the American people. Even if the agents of atrophy get it together in coming weeks to toss a few crumbs to those economically displaced by the pandemic, current woes arrived decades into engineered economic decline.

      • As Biden Mulls VP Pick, Pundits Vie for Most Substance-Free Forecast

        Useful coverage would lay out each potential pick’s background and qualifications. While you certainly can find that if you look hard enough, many journalists seem quite content to avoid content.

      • “Let’s Make It Happen!” Declares Jayapal of Medicare for All After Single-Payer in Canada Lauded as Shield Against Pandemic

        “It is worth fighting for a system that puts public health ahead of profits: Medicare for All,” said a doctor touting Canadian system.

      • Mary Trump on Her Uncle, President Trump, and Why He Must Be Ousted

        “In my family, being kind was considered being weak,” says Mary Trump, President Trump’s niece, a clinical psychologist and author of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. We spend the hour with Mary Trump, discussing her book the president doesn’t want people to read, in which she describes his upbringing in a dysfunctional family that fostered his greed, cruelty and racist and sexist behaviors — which he is now inflicting on the world. Mary Trump also discusses the president’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, his long history of lies and misrepresentations, and the dangers of his reelection. “I believe that this country is on the knife’s edge, and I don’t want anybody going to cast their vote in November being able to claim that they just don’t know who they’re voting for,” she says.

      • Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here

        Sorry, Trump’s Not Conceding

      • Russians are receiving text messages about the U.S. State Department’s $10 million reward for information on election interference

        Residents of cities across Russia are receiving SMS messages about the U.S. State Department’s newly announced $10 million “Rewards for Justice” (RFJ) offer for information that helps identify or locate hackers attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections, reports the Russian outlet TJournal. 

      • Will Trump face real consequences for his crimes? The answer will haunt America’s future

        But one of the most important priorities must be to re-establish democratic and ethical norms in the wake of Trump’s brazen corruption. Congress can make new laws and the president can create executive orders, but if they want to get the job done there must be some accountability for this crime spree.

        It’s hard to know where to start, but as you may recall there’s a report that lays out in great detail Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. It even makes a very strong case that he can be prosecuted after he leaves office for committing these crimes.

      • Official: US Adversaries Taking Sides, Wielding Influence Ahead of Election

        National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said U.S. intelligence indicates that all three countries are hoping to sow further divisions in the United States and “undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process.”

        But he said Russia, China and Iran are divided over whom they would like to see win the presidential contest in November: President Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

      • Twitter Begins Labeling “State-Affiliated Media” Accounts, Will Stop Amplifying Them

        Among the accounts to be labeled are Russian media companies RT and Sputnik as well as China’s Xinhua News, People’s Daily, CGTN and Global Times.

      • Sensitive to claims of bias, Facebook relaxed misinformation rules for conservative pages

        According to internal discussions from the last six months, Facebook has relaxed its rules so that conservative pages, including those run by Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk, were not penalized for violations of the company’s misinformation policies.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • FTC Commissioners Are Upset About Section 230; Though It’s Not At All Clear Why

        Another day, another bunch of nonsense about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The Senate Commerce Committee held an FTC oversight hearing yesterday, with all five commissioners attending via video conference (kudos to Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter who attended with her baby strapped to her — setting a great example for so many working parents who are struggling with working from home while also having to manage childcare duties!). Section 230 came up a few times, though I’m perplexed as to why.

      • Content Moderation Case Study: Social Media Services Respond When Recordings Of Shooting Are Uploaded By The Person Committing The Crimes (August 2015)

        Summary: The ability to instantly upload recordings and stream live video has made content moderation much more difficult. Uploads to YouTube have surpassed 500 hours of content every minute (as of May 2019), making any form of moderation inadequate.

      • EFF Joins SPLC Letter to Georgia High School Expressing Concern Over Restriction to Students’ Free Speech

        The First Amendment includes the right to use technology to create and preserve images, and otherwise collect information, of newsworthy events. This issue has arisen in numerous contexts, including the right to record the police performing police-work, and we have filed several amicus briefs that have helped firmly establish that right in the law.

        Consistent with this, we joined a letter protesting the actions of officials at a high school in Georgia who suspended a 15-year old student for posting a photograph of the school’s crowded hallways to Twitter. The photograph, of the school’s second day back in operation, illustrated what the student perceived to be the serious public health danger in the school’s reopening. The student tweeted a photograph showing crowded hallways on the first day of school, which was widely circulated on social media. The student was initially suspended for five days, but the suspension was revoked after two days and purportedly removed from her record. According to news reports, at least one other student was also suspended and then reinstated. The school also reportedly warned students over the intercom system that “‘there will be consequences for anyone who sends things out’ that shows the school in a negative light.”

      • Indonesian Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Destroying Quran

        “The defendant has been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam,” presiding judge Tengku Oyong said as he read the court’s verdict, AFP reported.

      • Indonesia jails Muslim for destroying Koran

        The district court in Sumatra’s Medan city sentenced Doni Irawan Malay, 44, to three years in prison on Tuesday (Aug 4), less than the four years demanded by prosecutors.

        “The defendant has been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam,” said presiding judge Tengku Oyong as he read the court’s verdict.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Stuttgart Peace Prize 2020 Goes to Journalist Julian Assange

        The award is expected to be granted to the Australian journalist in December. A total of 26 people and institutions were nominated to receive the recognition. Assange got 310 votes in favor, followed by Reporters Without Borders (258), and the Zic Zac sewing studio (227).

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?

        On July 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised he would annex part of the Jordan Valley. He did not, but he may still do so before U.S. elections in November and while President Donald Trump is still in office. It could be his legacy.

      • Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn ‘Qualified Immunity’

        “Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.”

      • Illinois Has Promised to “Infuse Love” in Its Juvenile Justice System, but What Will Actually Change?

        Last week, in announcing a plan to overhaul Illinois’ juvenile justice system, state officials repeatedly used a term not often heard in discussions about criminal justice: love.

        “At the root, children and families want us to infuse love in our policies and practices,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who leads the state’s Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, said at a press conference last Friday. “Somehow along the way, we have forgotten the power of love as it pertains to government and how we treat our children.”

      • Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again

        “In our countercultural bubble, we assumed everyone watching the convention shared our feelings of revolt, but the spectacle in Chicago, as history showed us, had an unintended effect. It was the ‘law-and-order’ [Richard] Nixon who got elected.”

      • ‘What We’re Seeing Now Is Jim Crow 2.0’
      • The NCAA Finally Faces a Reckoning

        The top college athletes in the revenue-producing sports knew which way the wind was blowing as soon as word of a deadly pandemic hit the airwaves. They knew that even if there were no vaccine, even if the rest of the campus were shut down, even if they had to be sent to a hermetically sealed bubble, they’d have to play. If they were to catch the virus, then “next man up,” and the train would keep rolling on. That’s the reality of the modern neoliberal campus; that’s the reality of NCAA; and no one knows that better than the college athletes themselves.

      • Young People Are Leading the Growing Movement for Police-Free Schools

        In this moment of transformative possibility, amid activists’ growing calls to defund and abolish the police, young people across the country are leading a movement to remove police officers from schools. They are demanding that city and school district leaders reallocate funding for police into services and resources for students, including counseling, social workers and restorative justice programming.

      • Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade

        The first instalment in this two-part series, which focused on dismantling the ‘Irish slaves’ myth, made three critical assertions: first, that the attempt to draw equivalence between Irish (and British, Scottish) indenture and African chattel slavery was “untenable, and callous in the extreme” and “almost always deliberately concocted at source through flagrant manipulation of numbers and chronology”; secondly, that the narrow channels in which the ‘debate’ has been confined obscure important developments in the evolution of ‘race’ and ‘race-making’ in the plantation societies of the Americas; and third, that although indenture and racially-based slavery for life were not “comparable in terms of scale or importance in generating the economic foundations that would launch global capitalism,” it was also mistaken to regard them as ‘galaxies apart’: they were “distinct but related forms of exploitation at the birth of the modern world”.

      • The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid

        In a world where nationalism and social division is increasing, bigotry growing, are the words refugee, asylum seeker, migrant worker, derogatory labels triggering prejudice and intolerance? Such terms create an image of ‘the other’, separate and different, strengthening tribalism, feeding suspicion, our common humanity denied.

      • Lebanon’s corrupt, colonial system leads to explosion catastrophe
      • ‘Enraging and Inexcusable’: Louisiana Supreme Court Rules Black Man Convicted of Garden Tool Theft 20 Years Ago Should Die in Prison

        “A system that condemns a man to life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers is not justice,” said the ACLU.

      • Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility

        These first two August weekends, the RBC Bluesfest Ottawa drive-in concerts – livestreamed online with #CanadaPerforms, a federal program to support artists during the COVID pandemic – are being hosted at a venue that may raise eyebrows to anyone supporting the current protests against racism and monuments to a racist-colonial past.

      • Dissenter Weekly: Prison And Police Whistleblowers Face Retaliation For Objecting To Violence

        On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights a report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) that showed dissent channels in federal government agencies aren’t leading to changes and most employees see them as risky.

        “The report found that the existing channels at the State Department and other agencies are underutilized, and that the systems don’t provide sufficient incentives or protections for employees,” POGO declared. 

      • Tracking Missed Yazidis Increasingly Harder Six Years After IS Genocide

        According to the Kidnapped Yazidis Rescue Office in Duhok, Kurdistan Region, 3,543 kidnapped Yazidis have been rescued with 2,800 still missing.

      • Iranian Clerics: The Coronavirus Is Man-Made, Aimed At Harming Religious People; Only Women Spread Disease, So Only They Need To Wear Masks

        “This evil virus is man-made and is a plot against man and against humanity. According to the honorable [Supreme] Leader [Ali Khamenei], this is an evil virus, for several reasons. The main reason is that this virus is secular. That is, one of its destructive impacts is changing cultures, particularly deeply religious cultures. This means that in addition to being a political and economic virus, its [aim] is to change the religious cultures and lead society towards secularism…

      • Russell Ledet Is Working to Combat Racial Disparities in Health Care

        When Russell Ledet was in college, he worked as a security guard at a local Louisiana hospital. Today, he’s a medical student at that same facility. Ledet had been part of this country’s sprawling security apparatus, and saw how racial disparities in medical care break down by race — two issues that have rocked the U.S. in this year of anti-police uprising and a deadly pandemic.

        For Ledet, his job as a security guard and being a medical student are just turns on his unconventional path. The Lake Charles, Louisiana, native had assumed that college was only for the wealthy, so he joined the Navy at 18, and served in the intelligence community for nearly a decade. Eventually, he enrolled at Southern University and A&M College, a historically Black university. He went on to receive a Ph.D. from New York University, and now, at 34, Ledet is earning an MD and MBA at Tulane University. He is a husband, father of two, veteran, scientist, philanthropist, medical student, and business school student. He appears to have limitless potential, and is driven to understand and shape the way health care interfaces with vulnerable populations; as a forever student, he is always learning.

        Teen Vogue spoke with Ledet about his experience climbing the steep academic ramp without losing his balance.

      • Louisiana Supreme Court Won’t Review Life Sentence For Man Who Stole Hedge Clippers

        A Louisiana man will continue to spend his life in prison for stealing a pair of hedge clippers, after the state’s Supreme Court denied his request to review a lower court’s sentence.

        Fair Wayne Bryant was convicted in 1997 of stealing the hedge clippers. Prosecutors pursued and won a life sentence in the case, a penalty permissible under the state’s habitual offender law. Bryant appealed the life sentence as too severe.

      • 44% of UK Muslims back anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, poll finds

        The report is based on a poll of 750 British Muslims conducted by the Savanta-ComRes polling agency between November 25 and December 5, 2019. It draws comparisons with wider attitudes in the UK which were explored by an ICM Unlimited survey of 2,011 British adults carried out between December 6 and 9, 2019.

      • Women Banned From Riding Bikes In Iran Province Run By Ultra-Conservative Cleric

        The head of the Khorasan-e-Razavi Province Cycling Board, Mehdi Roozbehaneh, says the Headquarters has obtained “relevant permits” for the ban. It has been decided that women are not allowed to ride bicycles in Mashhad’s public places, Roozbehaneh maintained.

        Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Vice, also known as “enjoining good and forbidding wrong,” is a Quranic expression calling the faithful to propagate good deeds and condemn wrong-doing. However, the Quran does not say people or even state bodies have the right to “enforce” the term.

      • Dreamers’ Children: Up to 200,000 American Kids Could be Left Parentless

        In his continued attacks on DACA and TPS beneficiaries, Trump aims to create a dramatic influx of children into the child welfare system.

      • Defendants in Russia’s controversial extremism case receive sentences ranging up to seven years in prison

        On Thursday, August 6, Moscow’s Lublinsky Court announced the verdicts in the controversial “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremism case. Seven defendants were found guilty of organizing an illegal extremist group. 

      • An Unbelievably Disastrous State of Affairs

        Like most of the rest of the U.S. population, Montanans are wondering how we’re going to get out of the very serious and growing problems afflicting our state and nation right now. They are also, on an increasing basis, growing very angry that our Republican president and his snarling pack of enablers are ignoring the old adage that “when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” There’s no great mystery how we got in this unbelievably disastrous state of affairs, but getting out is the greatest challenge facing our nation in a century.

      • Federal Judge Calls Out Qualified Immunity’s Contribution To Racist Policing

        If you only read one qualified immunity decision this year, make it this one. (At least until something better comes along. But this one will be hard to top.) [h/t MagentaRocks]

      • Extreme hide-and-seek: A childhood classic gets an unbearably Zoomer spin on YouTube

        You loved playing hide-and-seek as a kid, but you never experienced the game as Russian YouTubers have popularized it. “Extreme hide-and-seek” has become one of the most popular subgenres on Russian-language YouTube, where vloggers have attracted tens of millions of views by filming themselves hiding and seeking in empty waterparks, underground bunkers, abandoned buildings, and more. (This kind of thing has its fans in the West, as well.) Whole teams of people are involved in these spectacles, always escalating or tweaking the rules to make the competition even more outlandish. Seekers have dressed as SWAT police and killer clowns and even launched fleets of drones to track down their prey. One YouTube channel even married the game with a Nerf war. Meduza collected a handful of Russia’s extremest extreme hide-and-seeks.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber

        Social media algorithms serve us up with what we like to see because the more we scroll, the more data they can harvest, and selling that data is their business model. Lately, it’s been popular to refer to the increasingly narrow worldview that we receive this way as an “echo chamber.” Commentators have been warning that both ignorance and polarization are the result, and that we need to take deliberate steps to avoid being boxed in and judgmental. Agreed.

      • Revisiting The Common Law Liability Of Online Intermediaries Before Section 230

        On February 8, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Telecommunication Act of 1996. Title V of that act was called the Communications Decency Act, and Section 509 of the CDA was a set of provisions originally introduced by Congressmen Chris Cox and Ron Wyden as the Internet Freedom & Family Empowerment Act. Those provisions were then codified at Section 230 of title 47 of the United States Code. They are now commonly referred to as simply “Section 230.”

      • The Department of Justice wants to stop California from having net neutrality

        The US Department of Justice has filed for an injunction to stop Claifornia from implementing their own net neutrality laws. Net neutrality has been repealed in the United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) effective since summer 2018, and now the effort of states to bring their citizens back under net neutrality protections is being challenged by federal law. In the wake of the FCC repeal of net neutrality laws in 2017, many states sought to pass their own net neutrality laws. The same thing occurred after the repeal of broadband privacy laws in 2017. In the case of broadband privacy which was passed at the state level in Maine, the internet service providers (ISPs) actually tried to stop the law from being enacted by claiming that their right to selling profiles of user internet activity and history is part of their constitutional right to free speech. In the case of net neutrality, California was the largest state to pass net neutrality rules for internet companies and users within its borders. As part of the FCC repeal of net neutrality laws, the FCC actually included language that would forbid individual states or smaller jurisdictions from passing their own net neutrality laws.

      • What is the Small Web?

        Today, I want to introduce you to a concept – and a vision for the future of our species in the digital and networked age – that I’ve spoken about for a while but never specifically written about:

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Congress To Consider National Right To Repair Law For First Time

        About five years ago, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots “right to repair” movement. The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion’s share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

    • Monopolies

      • Focals ‘Smart’ Glasses Become Dumb As A Brick After Google Acquisition

        Time and time again we’ve highlighted how, in the modern era, you don’t really own the hardware you buy. Music, ebooks, and videos can disappear on a dime without recourse, your game console can lose important features after a purchase, and a wide variety of “smart” tech can quickly become dumb as a rock in the face of company struggles, hacks, or acquisitions, leaving you with pricey paperweights where innovation once stood.

      • Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC

        Belief in Google’s promises is much like believing in virgin births. For a company so proud of its pursuit of a transparent information environment, it has remained committedly opaque about informing customers on the way it gathers user data. Statements from the company over the years have not been reassuring, and should foster prolonged scepticism and dread. “Google policy,” former Google executive Eric Schmidt explained with flesh-crawling discomfort in 2010, “is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” Don’t bother typing at all, he claimed. “We now where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” Always a charmer.

      • Ranking the Infinite Greed, Power and Controls of Giant Corporations

        People have the right to know how CEOs and major corporations do on the “Hedonistic Index” of greed and power.

      • Console Exclusive Games Have Given Way To Console Exclusive Game Characters

        Editor’s Note: Originally, this article was set to run before the article of Crystal Dynamics defending this decision… but somehow that didn’t happen. You can read that article here if you like, or if you haven’t already, you can read this one first, and recognize that time has no meaning any more, so the linear publishing of articles is no longer necessary… or maybe Mike just screwed things up. One of those.

      • Patents

        • Victory! EFF Defends Public’s Right to Access Court Records About Patent Ownership

          The public’s right of access to court proceedings is well-established as a legal principle, but it needs constant defending. In part, that’s because private parties keep asking publicly-funded courts to resolve their disputes in secret. As we and others have written before, this problem is especially great in patent cases, where parties on opposite sides of a case often agree with each other to keep as much of the litigation as possible hidden from view. That deprives the public of material it has every right to see that could affect its rights to engage, like documents establishing (or undermining) a patent owner’s right to bring suit on the basis of a patent which they claim to own.

          Although this problem is pervasive, when we looked at a lawsuit filed by Uniloc—one of the most litigious patent trolls in the world—the amount of secrecy the parties agreed to was shocking. In Uniloc v. Apple, important, dispositive motion papers were filed with entire pages of text redacted, including information that could not possibly qualify as confidential, like case law citations. And what were those papers about? Whether Uniloc had the right to sue anyone, including Apple, for infringing the patents in the case. Because Uniloc is a prolific patent litigant—filing more than 170 patent infringement lawsuits in 2018 alone—questions about its right to sue have powerful ramifications on the public, including makers and users of a wide array of technology products.

      • Copyrights

        • ISP Cox Asks Court to Reduce Piracy Damages By $243 Million

          Cox Communications is requesting a reduction of the piracy damages awarded by a Virginia jury last year in favor of a group of prominent music companies. The ISP argues that 2,438 duplicate or overlapping works should be scrapped, which translates to a massive $243 million in damages, roughly a quarter of the total.

        • Report: US Pirate IPTV Industry is Worth $1 Billion, So Who’s Making Big Bucks?

          The entertainment industry-backed group Digital Citizens Alliance and content protection company NAGRA have published a new study which estimates the pirate IPTV market in the US to be worth a cool billion dollars. So who is making the big bucks from illicit live TV and VOD content and how?

[Meme/History] OpenPOWER or Just White POWER?

Posted in IBM at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday: IBM and the Bomb: Series Index (on 75th Anniversary of Atomic Bombs Being Dropped on Civilians)

Drake Hotline Bling (Garfield Version): Soft power and software power

Summary: Antiwar and anti-nukes activists cannot support those causes and support IBM at the same time, as the founder’s son (father received a medal from the Nazi Party) flew “an American heavy bomber” and enjoyed a track record of nepotism, propelling him to the top both in the military and at IBM

IBM's POWER

As per Encyclopedia.com:

Trouble at School

Thomas Watson, Jr. was a poor student and often in trouble. He embarrassed his father, a member of the school board, by putting skunk odor in the school’s ventilating system, forcing the school to close for the day. Watson had trouble reading and had little self-confidence. The greatest moment of his childhood was when he flew in an airplane for the first time, at age ten, and saw his first film with sound, both on the same day. Although his father always told him he was free to choose any career, Thomas Watson, Sr. groomed his son from an early age to take over IBM, taking him to sales conventions, factories, and meetings.

Because his grades were poor, Watson needed his father’s help getting into college. He attended Brown University, where he also received poor grades, but managed to graduate. In September of his freshman year, Watson learned to fly, gaining a great deal of self-confidence. Besides flying, Watson spent his time at college drinking and socializing. In his senior year, Watson decided that he wanted to work for IBM.

[...]

In 1952, the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department brought a restraint of trade case against IBM. Watson went over his father’s head, allowing IBM’s lawyers to settle the case by signing a consent decree in January 1956. In 1969, the Justice Department filed an antitrust complaint accusing IBM of monopolizing the computer industry. The government wanted IBM broken up. This was one of the biggest antitrust cases ever. The government felt that IBM’s marketing tools were used to destroy their competition. Six months after the suit was filed, IBM gave up the marketing practice of bundling-selling everything a computer customer would need for one price. Instead, each component was sold separately. The government’s case dragged on until 1981, when the Reagan administration finally dropped it.

“Fearing, he wrote, that his 1937 graduation left him prepared only to be a playboy, he nevertheless joined IBM and went to work as a salesman. His territory was Wall Street, where he set records but was plagued by doubts as to whether he got special help as the boss’s son.”Washington Post, 1994

“With the Korean war came a great demand for computing power in defense-related specialties — guided missiles, cryptanalysis, weather forecasting, and so on. Tom spurred IBM into the field with a machine called the Defense Calculator.”CNN, 1990

Rebuilding Communities

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 9:20 am by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

Index

Rebuilding broken CD
Chapter 11: Rebuilding Communities

Summary: “First, we should talk about how our communities have regressed.”

This chapter was originally called “Narcissism in The Community”, and the title change isn’t to be more “constructive” or “practical” or anything like that. It is simply to acknowledge the fact that our communities have regressed to the point where rebuilding is necessary.

What I mean by “rebuilding is necessary” is that the ideas needed to rebuild the Free software movement are not truly welcome in any community that I know of. If you want to be free, you will have to be the community you want — you’ll have to look for people that want the same thing, and work with them to reestablish the links we used to have.

“There ARE people who care about freedom, but we don’t have enough people yet to rebuild.”Debian is not going to rebuild. Devuan is not going to rebuild. Other communities are hostages of Microsoft GitHub. Hyperbola has forum software that simply doesn’t work properly.

There ARE people who care about freedom, but we don’t have enough people yet to rebuild. And with everything that’s going on, its not going to be easy.

One community that I can recommend is Techrights. In my opinion we need more communities like that one. And despite my rule that the necessary ideas are not welcome, Techrights has proven to be an exception. We need more than one exception. I’ve written lots of things about how to go about that, but I haven’t talked about it in this book yet. First, we should talk about how our communities have regressed.

“First, we should talk about how our communities have regressed.”First, conflict does happen in struggles for progress. If you want to avoid conflict entirely, you will avoid progress right along with it. That’s the reason our communities are becoming quasi-fascist (with a politically correct face on it) — they aren’t regressing psychologically, they’re regressing politically.

Zero-tolerance policies and thought policing are not signs of a healthy (or progressive) political atmosphere. What they do is punish people for being human, and create policies that favour people being fake. I don’t mean friendly or polite — I mean fake. There’s nothing polite about people gaslighting you and lying to your face.

“In short, narcissists and cult tactics have taken over.”All of these so-called “safe space” policies have increased the amount of gaslighting and bullying in communities, while making the tone more polite. All of it is deeply condescending and deeply dishonest. In short, narcissists and cult tactics have taken over.

I’ve actually been in a cult, and it included some of the nicest-seeming people I ever met. I don’t mean they were all creepy smiles and cloyingly friendly, but they were certainly polite. I spent years trying to understand what they wanted, but ultimately (and in hindsight it sounds really obvious, doesn’t it?) What they really wanted wasn’t the outward appearance of it, but conformity and obedience.

“For the most part, what the cult did with people who didn’t fit in was a lot like Reddits shadowbanning.”Maintaining the outward appearance was simply a way for people to survive. If you didn’t act like everybody else, people knew something was wrong with you, and they would work to fix it. But if you didn’t conform, if you didn’t meet the ideal template that was being imposed, people politely worked to push you back into that shape they required of everyone.

Ultimately however, this effort to politely help people back into their cult template was pretty superficial. For the most part, what the cult did with people who didn’t fit in was a lot like Reddits shadowbanning. They would still smile to your face and act like you were part of the community, but you were never really part of it again.

“This is a deeply confusing dynamic to find your way on top of — as with Reddit, you can spend quite a while talking to yourself without realising that you’re the only person who can hear you.”You were being very politely shunned and excluded everywhere you went, and nobody had to put a mark on you (or your name on a list) because everybody was mirroring the behaviour of everyone else — if anybody important shunned you then everybody else would do the same. You didn’t fit, you would never be part of the community, but to your face they would pretend you were welcome.

This is a deeply confusing dynamic to find your way on top of — as with Reddit, you can spend quite a while talking to yourself without realising that you’re the only person who can hear you. You can even forget what it’s like to feel heard or understood.

A society that does this — even a community that does this, is fundamentally broken and deeply dysfunctional. It’s sort of built around the penultimate form of gaslighting, where everybody who doesn’t lie to your face ends up lied to their own face. This is a really effective and insidious way to dismantle communities.

“A society that does this — even a community that does this, is fundamentally broken and deeply dysfunctional. It’s sort of built around the penultimate form of gaslighting, where everybody who doesn’t lie to your face ends up lied to their own face.”Because it rewards appearances and image over integrity, it ultimately puts narcissists in charge. Any effort to remove narcissists from play is going to lead to more insidious bullies taking their place — a revolution is doomed to fail, and that’s by design. But there are things that can be done.

Unfortunately, what is hopeless (and they sort of know this) is taking back a community that is lost to these sorts of cult tactics. Many people fail to notice this happening to their community — if everyone knew, they would not endorse it. Narcissists target individuals, while building up other people that act loyal to them. This results in many people who feel their community is stronger, even as their community starts to fall apart.

I’ve already talked in more detail about how these communities are dismantled. Techrights talks about this more than I do, because they simply have more detailed information. What I have is my first-hand experience with cults and narcissistic abuse, both overt and covert. My experience overlaps with details from Techrights, which deepens the argument for those who are interested in reform.

But to put it in simple terms, the narcissist is a monopolist — there is one correct way of doing / seeing / believing, and they have it. Your job is to adopt prescribed actions / perspective / beliefs, even when it is wildly contradicting and often made up on the spot.

Every narcissist tries to build a cult, in a manner of speaking. It may have a few people, it may ultimately have thousands, and it may just be a handful of friends. There is nothing wrong with having a handful of friends, but the narcissists will lie to them, treat them all to double standards, and never be accountable for anything truly important.

Sounds great, right? But the trick is they all get something they want, even if it’s a lie. They get “opportunities” and (sometimes) additional praise and recognition, they get a place in the cult structure if they are valuable enough to the cult leader.

“You can (I believe so, but I would be interested in a more thorough examination of this theme) have a cult that doesn’t go all the way to the top, at least not on the visible project level.”One thing that I learned from one or two Free software communities is that the cult leader doesn’t have to be the project leader. You can (I believe so, but I would be interested in a more thorough examination of this theme) have a cult that doesn’t go all the way to the top, at least not on the visible project level.

What I mean is that you can have a cult develop in the Python community (this is hypothetical and NOT a critique of the Python community, though I am inclined to think Guido van Rossum is not all bad) without the actual project leader having anything to do with it — the “cult” would exist on a tier lower than Rossum himself, and the leader would be the person who runs the community rather than the person who runs the actual project.

It may seem otherwise, but you don’t need a gullible project leader for this to happen. You can actually have a project leader / founder who becomes aware of — and will even admit — this problem exists, without having any idea how to fix it or what to do about it.

This is particularly difficult to fix given that this probably happens in the first place because the project leader / founder doesn’t WANT to lead a community, (not because they’re unappreciative but because its not in their skill set or schedule) so they end up trusting people who seem alright, only to have the entire community side run amok.

None of this is to say that communities never have narcissistic project leaders, only that a dysfunctional community doesn’t always mean a terrible or dishonest project leader. You can of course argue that an effective leader will not become a hostage of their own project — but when they didn’t have the goal of building a community in the first place, and left that to someone else, asking them to fix the mess that was created is asking more of them than they were avoiding (by not creating a community) in the first place.

Instead, they leave it “up to the community” — and so the problem continues.

The best defense against this is to learn how to recognise corrupt and dishonest community leadership. This problem is practically oozing out of so many high-profile communities right now, but they have some very good defenses and camouflage that is difficult to argue with. Knowledge is power, so let’s talk about a few details from the original version of this chapter.

Narcissists take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important. Some narcissists are very intelligent people, but the word “clever” would apply more universally, and narcissism is more about control and dominance than intelligence.

Misunderstandings happen all the time. As many misunderstandings are harmless (and they really are, they’re worth resolving whenever possible) a narcissist will try to make everything seem like a misunderstanding. Don’t let this sour you on trying to resolve honest disputes.

Most people probably still think of narcissism as just an inflated sense of self. That definition may have validity but is not too good, when every idealist is trying to find some way to save the world. Oh, you don’t want to use software that doesn’t include source code? Boom, you’re a narcissist. Beyond just trying to do “big things”, a narcissist may:

1. pretend to care about you or other people

2. misquote you and speak for you and gaslight you

3. use smear tactics and try to intimidate you, even as a response for anything they dislike about you at all

4. constantly accuse you of things they are doing themselves — then say they were “just kidding, lighten up”

5. play a hero, pretend to care, but have actions that never match their words

6. play people and groups against each other, often over incredibly insignificant faults

7. routinely miss the point of what you’re saying and demand you consider their points (exclusively) — all conversations with narcissists are one-sided

8. have consistently different standards for what they will tolerate vs. what they will dump on you

Narcissists do not respond (initially, later on, after repeated attempts, or under any circumstances whatsoever) to logic or honesty with logic or honesty. They only ever double down with fallacy and lies.

Though they may not always appear to act in groups, narcissists do swarm together. If there’s one nearby that you can discern, there are often others lurking around. They feed off your emotions and off the imaginary things they attribute to your feelings – whether good or bad.

This is another reason why revolution won’t fix this. When narcissists rule a community, people usually assume there is just one problem person where there is actually a small network. Plus, if you try to eject every member who displays one or two narcissistic traits, you will also stop their victims.

You want three things for a victim of narcissistic abuse: You want to give them an opportunity to heal, You want to give them room to speak that the narcissist tried to troll them out of – and you definitely, definitely want them to fully understand why it is self-destructive to try to go after the troll either directly or publicly.

Many people think this is just about protecting emotionally fragile people’s feelings – or creating a “perfect” code of conduct, or that this is just an opportunity to squash more free speech. Unfortunately, it can be all those things, even if those things won’t work.

When you increase the number of tools and features for controlling people and groups, narcissists tend to find better uses for those tools than the rest of us. This is true whether you’re talking about technology or politics.

One of my favourite spins on the truth is when people in favour of zero-tolerance policy create a strawman around rules and “consequences” — as if before the Gestapo arrived and started carting people away, everyone was simply doing their best within a lawless online society. You claim to defend freedom of speech, they will say to you — but actually you just think there should be speech “without consequences”.

Call me Newtonian, but I think every action has a reaction — I’m not quite as certain about the “equal and opposite” part. When the reaction is utterly disproportionate and the rules are oppressive, I have a problem with things that are ridiculously unfair that stifle communities. Somehow I don’t think that’s exactly what was being suggested though. I have a problem with things that are ridiculously unfair that stifle and ultimately dismantle communities, but the way they talk about it, you’d think that was an unreasonable, even indefensible stance to have.

A few years ago, my girlfriend expressed an interest in going to LibrePlanet. I had already withdrawn my FSF membership over its advocacy against Free Culture (which they will dispute I’m sure, though they’ve also told me they cannot misrepresent what they don’t support in the first place; an argument I find not only peculiar, but unsound). And being outspoken, I found it difficult to imagine attending without making some comment about this which was sure to elicit some negative response.

Having looked over the policies for attendees, I thought some of them were slightly unreasonable — I didn’t expect them to be enforced in good faith, either. Of course they’re worded to be completely innocuous and seem reasonable, but many have experienced what such things are really like in practice — I thought I had enough reason to be a bit cynical about it.

What I never would have guessed, however, is that the rules would be enforced to the point where people would petition against the organisation’s own president being there just because he made a comment and question over the head of the emcee/thought police/LibrePlanet pimple-faced dictator.

One of the signs you’re in a cult (or a coup, or just an abusive controlling relationship) is if you spend years being absolutely CONVINCED that your doubts are just cynical, only to find that in hindsight they were incredibly reserved and understated for the reality of the situation.

I was worried that I might pay good money to be treated like a bit of a serf by some glorified hall monitors, not that the policies were so slanted that they would lead to an actual organisational coup. And while that’s a great statement if you’re trying to be pithy, I am still beside myself about it close to a year after that coup was largely successful.

We are still living through the farce that a corporate overthrow of several non-profit organisations is going to be followed up by reforming and healing the devastation that happened to the FSF. This won’t happen, for several reasons.

The first is that reform was never the goal. For several years, the goal has been to remove people who stand in the way of corporate sponsors, including rms and Linus. They succeeded in this goal; even with these two leaders (and I don’t like Linus Torvalds at all, he’s a shill and a heel — though when he was in control of the kernel he did a better job at that than anybody who might replace him now — besides, it was his own kernel) technically at the helm of something, they are like like Dwight Schrute on the Booze Cruise; the boat doesn’t go where they steer anyway. Linus and rms are both shadowbanned from GNU and the Linux kernel.

“Linus and rms are both shadowbanned from GNU and the Linux kernel.”Once again, a community that does this is not functional — they’ve replaced a fundamental reality with a perpetual broadcast of rhetoric and lies. RMS is still the head of the GNU Project, but the GNU Project doesn’t follow anything he says, instead it drifts closer to the sworn enemies of Free Software (not even sworn by the FSF, sworn by the enemies themselves). Linus is still the leader of Linux, even though we’ve known for years he’s grooming his more corporate replacement (who wouldn’t, at his age?) and his bosses (plural) from Microsoft will tell you the same.

If this is the reality, then these shadowbans aren’t just a lie to Linus and rms — they’re also a lie to every supporter of the Linux kernel and the GNU Project. Are we supposed to simultaneously hold onto the ideas that we are supporting something not corrupt, while also being lied to on a constant basis?

It’s “funny” (but not “haha funny”) that when a community does this systematically, it’s considered legit — while just a single person doing this is considered someone to get away from, something to flee. If a person is constantly gaslighting you and diminishing the importance of everything you stand for, the thing to do is run away and find shelter. But if an organisation does the same thing — better send in those donations folks, throwing more money at corruption always helps!

501(c)3 not-for-profit corporations like NPR or the FSF, once corrupted through powerful sponsors, do not tend to ever get back to serving the public interest they were created to serve.

They will continue to promote similar messages (“Listener-Supported”, blah blah blah) but this is a veneer over the fact that the connection to their own mission is now deeply cynical and “just legitimate enough” to maintain their charter, while the corporate dollars (plus all other donations) keep rolling in. It would be a heck of a scandal if only the FSF succumbed to this, but quite a lot of similar non-profits eventually do.

Conflating even a non-profit corporation with a community is dangerous, because if the organisation fails there is no reason the movement itself should. Some of what the FSF did has become superfluous — it would be ideal to maintain it if it were not corrupt, but if it is going to be dishonest with everybody, we can’t really trust it.

If a corrupt non-profit org was someone you lived with, you would be looking for a new home. But if it’s a non-profit organisation that talks about “community” all the time, people will stay until the writing on the wall is set in font they can read three towns south of it.

The FSF doesn’t need to promise it can change, it has already proven it can. Nor does it need to prove it can get back to what it was — only the forging of new communities (independent of the corruption and its sponsors) can stand for what was stood for, while donating to the Former Software Foundation buys you lip service and Thank GNUs.

When I wrote the original version of this chapter, I was trying to help people understand both Open Source and the glorified-hall-monitor thought police types that suppress the community in our communities. I was probably also thinking of people who have carried on the legacy of OpenRespect and its ilk — so-called community leaders who also serve as a sort of propaganda marshal.

Now it is also to illustrate the ways in which the FSF has turned away towards “Free as in speech” (as the GNU website says at free-sw.en.html) and turned towards the vapidness of Open Source, which the FSF always said missed the point.

There were good reasons for Free Software to have a 501(c)3 and there will be other good reasons (there will likely be other 501©3s as well) and to be certain, many of the organisations (OSI, FSFE, SFC) that are in some way or other “offshoots” of the FSF have not fared (or even tried) better. OSI worked tirelessly to open up their organisation to something more “democratic”, which quickly led to Microsofties on the board and OSI getting quieter about certain problems.

If you are in this sort of turmoil at home, the best hope is if you can find community or shelter elsewhere — believe me, I KNOW this.

The best hope for Free software then, is not just “a” home — but a vast, volunteer (grassroots) network of “homes”. Not just for development, but for the Community we were promised (or used to have). I know interest in such homes for the community has increased, but people are still unaware that they have the tools to make it happen. This book is one more grand effort to clarify the possibility.

Some will argue that they still have a home, for example with Debian or Trisquel. They are entitled to their feelings of course, but they are living under occupation — an organisation that shadowbans its own creator is an organisation that has shadowbanned us all. It isn’t really listening, but it still gets something out of lying and pretending it cares.

A just world would give the rest of us somewhere to flee this entrenchment, or at least allow us to create that ourselves. But what would we try to accomplish, if our communities were actual communities again? That’s up to us. And by “us” I don’t mean those of us that agree on the same thing (such as what I propose). I mean literally, everybody who honestly cares about the future of Free software.

And we won’t all agree. That’s why the grassroots movement that most likely serves us all is one that is decentralised, with fairly autonomous nodes, and has some common thing (like the Free Software Definition) with a fair amount of slack between groups. And something that functions “well enough” if mostly informally, as representation.

No single group will control the rest, but the sum of the whole will nonetheless have a direction. With that said, we aren’t just talking about a process. The ideal is to have a (voluntary) grassroots movement and organic (naturally formed) communities that lend strength to each other.

But in the days of peak freedom, our individuality was a strength, not a sin. I try not to support cults; I would rather help people create alternatives based on people who have some degree of mutual humanity — people who will work to improve things, but not to pretend that they (or that things) are, could be, or even should be flawless. Yes, we seek an ideal. And we can generally admit (and try to correct) mistakes.

Very likely the biggest mistake we have made as a movement is trusting the sponsors far more than we should have. How many 501(c)3s do you know that would ever admit that, after being taken over?

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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