01.15.21

Links 15/1/2021: GStreamer 1.18.3 and Proton 5.13-5

Posted in News Roundup at 9:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • What my Linux adventure is teaching me about our possible future

        I am a Linux ambassador of sorts. I’ve been using the Linux computer operating system since 2013. I can still remember the light feeling I had the day I broke free of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

        No more constant worries about viruses hijacking or corrupting my computer. No more outlays to pay for each upgrade. No more worries that the next upgrade will be really lousy and buggy and remain so for months or even years. And, above all, no more freezes in the middle of my work and work lost as a result.

        Now eight years into my Linux adventure I am wildly satisfied with that choice. That remains the case even though my most recent upgrade did not go as planned and got stretched out over several days. But this latest upgrade has made me think hard about why I stick with Linux and what the Linux way of doing things can tell us about a possible, better future.

        I think some of the principles and structures I’m seeing are found in practically every pursuit, agriculture, education, the arts, politics, and commerce. If you are growing some of your own food, you are practicing these principles and creating similar structures. If you are teaching outside existing educational systems, you are likely doing the same. If you are writing, painting, singing, dancing or somehow expressing yourself artistically, you are probably already moving toward the world that the Linux community is pioneering in its own corner. If you created a business not only to have a livelihood, but because you want to change the world, you are almost certainly on the same path.

        Let me explain a little about Linux, and then try to relate that to the broader world.

        First, I tell people who decide to try Linux that they are not merely loading a piece of software on their computer; they are joining a community. This is a very important distinction.

      • Behind the Scenes of System76: Customer Happiness Team

        In this installment of our Behind the Scenes series, we spoke with head happiness guru Emma Marshall, an enthusiastic Linux, pink, and T-Swift enthusiast who helms the Support Team. Read on for an inside look at the methods—and the madness—of System76’s tech support crew.

        [...]

        I have two. Wait… I have a lot. But I’ll try to keep it to two. The Pop!_OS release in 2017, when we released the operating system and were flashing USBs, like hundreds of USBs in this side room. We were in an office building, but we were actually starting to try to manufacture things with a laser in this side room that had black curtains so no one could see what we were doing in there. So all of us bunched into this really small room and we popped champagne bottles and they were flashing the USBs. They were all over the table. It was so cool. I think we all got a little tipsy that day. Maybe a lot tipsy, actually.

        Then we had our first million dollar month. That was when our office was downtown. It was a day of celebration for everyone. It was the realization of how big we’d become. There was so much laughing and excitement, and we were a small, tight-knit team at the time. I remember that day feeling like, wow, we’re really doing well. That was a really cool feeling.

    • Server

      • 5 reasons why you should develop a Linux container strategy

        Containerization has gained in popularity over the past few years. However, the subject still remains elusive for some. There are many different opinions revolving around this architectural paradigm, spanning from “containers are just a way to obfuscate bad code” to “you are a dinosaur if your entire infrastructure isn’t already containerized.”

        If you have one of these strong opinions, this post probably is not for you. The following is for those who have not had the time nor bandwidth to research the topic and are not sure how the architecture might help within their organization. In this article, I give a simple explanation of some of the advantages of adopting a container strategy within your infrastructure and give you some quick and simple tips to get started. There are, in fact, many advantages of containerization within your infrastructure, both from a technical perspective and the development lifecycle perspective.

      • Kafka destination improved with template support in syslog-ng – Blog – syslog-ng Community – syslog-ng Community

        The C implementation of the Kafka destination in syslog-ng has been improved in version 3.30. Support for templates in topic names was added as a result of a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project. The advantage of the new template support feature is that you no longer have to use a static topic name. For example, you can include the name of your host or the application sending the log in the topic name.

        From this blog you can learn about a minimal Kafka setup, configuring syslog-ng and testing syslog-ng with Kafka.

      • Announcing Istio 1.8.2

        This release contains bug fixes to improve robustness. This release note describes what’s different between Istio 1.8.1 and Istio 1.8.2

    • Kernel Space

      • 5.11 Merge window, part 2

        Linus Torvalds released the 5.11-rc1 prepatch and closed the 5.11 merge window on December 27. By that time, 12,498 non-merge changesets had been pulled into the mainline; nearly 2,500 of those wandered in after the first merge-window summary was written. Activity slowed down in the second week, as expected, but there were still a number of interesting features that found their way into the mainline.

      • Portable and reproducible kernel builds with TuxMake

        TuxMake is an open-source project from Linaro that began in May 2020 and is designed to make building Linux kernels easier. It provides a command-line interface and a Python library, along with a full set of curated portable build environments distributed as container images. With TuxMake, a developer can build any supported combination of target architecture, toolchain, kernel configuration, and make targets.

        Building a Linux kernel is not difficult. Follow the documentation, install the dependencies, and run a couple of make commands. However, if a developer wants to build for multiple architectures, with multiple toolchains, things get complicated quickly. Most developers and maintainers have a set of custom scripts that they have written and maintained to perform their required set of builds. TuxMake provides a common layer of abstraction to reduce the need for every developer to write their own build scripts.

        TuxMake publishes containers for various toolchain/architecture combinations. These containers eliminate the need for individual developers to source and install multiple toolchains and toolchain versions on their systems. It also makes builds reproducible and portable because now the environment in which a kernel is built is versioned and shareable across the internet and on mailing lists.

        TuxMake has two goals. First, remove the friction that may cause developers, especially new developers, to skip build testing for uncommon toolchain/architecture combinations. Second, to make it easier for builds and build problems to be described and reproduced.

      • Linux 5.12 To Allow Disabling Intel Graphics Security Mitigations – Phoronix

        The Linux 5.12 kernel will allow optional, run-time disabling of Intel graphics driver security mitigations, which so far is just in regards to last year’s iGPU Leak vulnerability. This i915.mitigations= module parameter control is being added as part of finally fixing the Haswell GT1 graphics support that was fallout from this mitigaion.

        The drm-intel-gt-next pull request to DRM-Next for Linux 5.12 was sent in. Most notable is that fixing of the Haswell GT1 support that came from the clear residual security mitigations. Since that iGPU Leak mitigation for Gen7/Gen7.5 graphics was merged last year, Haswell GT1 graphics have resulted in hangs at boot. That’s finally fixed up. Besides being in Linux 5.12, it should also get back-ported to recent stable kernel series as well.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Open-Source “Nouveau” Driver Now Supports NVIDIA Ampere – But Without 3D Acceleration – Phoronix

          Patches were sent out today that provide the open-source Linux kernel “Nouveau” driver with support for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series “Ampere” graphics cards. But at the moment there is no 3D acceleration and the developers are blocked still by signed firmware requirements, so it’s basically just a matter of having kernel mode-setting display support.

          Red Hat’s Ben Skeggs sent out the pull request today that provides kernel mode-setting support for the RTX 30 “Ampere” graphics cards with the long-standing open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver

    • Applications

      • Haruna Video Player Is A Cool mpv GUI Frontend

        Haruna is a free and open source Qt / QML video player for Linux that makes use of mpv (libmpv) for video playback.

        libmpv makes it possible to embed mpv into other programs as the video / audio playback backend. New to mpv? This is a free and open source media player based on MPlayer, mplayer2 and FFmpeg, that runs on Linux, *BSD, macOS and Microsoft Windows, and there’s also an Android port.
        mpv has become quite popular in recent years thanks to features like high quality video output (using OpenGL as well as the new Vulkan API, which supports over 100 options for controlling playback quality, including the use of advanced upscaling filters, color management, etc.) with optional hardware acceleration.

      • GStreamer 1.18.3 stable bug fix release

        The GStreamer team is pleased to announce another bug fix release in the stable 1.18 release series of your favourite cross-platform multimedia framework!

        This release only contains bugfixes and it should be safe to update from 1.18.x.

      • Carbon Player – desktop media player

        My favorite pastime is to see an eclectic range of bands, solo artists, and orchestras live. It’s such a life-changing and exhilarating experience to be present. It’s one thing to be sitting at home listening to a CD or watching music videos on TV or on YouTube, but being with an audience, packed out in a stadium or music hall, takes it to another level. But it’s an expensive pastime, and still on hold given the current coronavirus pandemic. I’m therefore listening to music from my CD collection which I’ve encoded to FLAC, a lossless audio format, and stored locally.

        Linux offers a huge array of open source music players. And many of them are high quality. I’ve reviewed the vast majority for LinuxLinks, but I’m endeavoring to explore every free music player in case there’s an undiscovered gem.

        Carbon Player is a cross-platform media player written in JavaScript and uses Electron, an open-source software framework developed and maintained by GitHub. Let’s see how Carbon Player fares.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install IonCube Loader on Ubuntu – Cloudbooklet

        How to Install IonCube Loader on Ubuntu. IonCube Loader is a PHP extension used when you are using a PHP script that is encrypted using ionCube. IonCube needs to be installed in your webserver and made accessible to your PHP to use it.

        In this guide you are going to learn how to install ionCube loader on Ubuntu or Debian and configure your PHP or PHP-FPM and PHP-CLI to use it.

      • How to Setup CentOS Stream from AWS Marketplace

        In the current trend of IT Infrastructure, Cloud Computing occupies a tremendous role. Most of the top companies are looking for Cloud Providers to have their Infrastructure. As per our requirement, we can provision our servers at any time. According to the server configuration, we will be charged per usage.

        Amazon Marketplace is the place where you can find software from qualified third-party vendors. It is like an online software store where you can buy software and use it as per your need.

        In this article, we will see the detailed steps to launch CentOS-Stream from AWS Marketplace.

      • Create a MAN page for your own program or script with Pandoc – PragmaticLinux

        A MAN page is documentation for a software program or script, created in the groff typesetting system. Ever tried writing a MAN page? I bet you thought to yourself: “Yeez, there’s got to be an easier way to do this”. Luckily, there is. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to write a MAN page comfortably in Markdown. Then we’ll use Pandoc to create the actual MAN page for your program or script, properly formatted in the groff typesetting system.

      • Looking into Linux user logins with lslogins

        One convenient way to list details about user logins on a Linux system is to use the lslogins command. You’ll get a very useful and nicely formatted display that includes quite a few important details.

        On my system and likely most others, user accounts will start with UID 1000. To list just these accounts rather than include all of the service accounts like daemon, mail and syslog, add the -u option as shown in the example below.

      • How to Install Privacy-friendly Whatsapp Alternative Signal in Linux

        WhatsApp introduces its new privacy policy recently due to which signal emphasizing and getting much more attention for its privacy and security it offers. If you make your mind to

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 6.0 Released, Download Your Copy Now

        Finally, A new stable version, Wine 6.0 is available for the download. Wine is a software that helps you to run many Windows based apps on Linux based operating systems.

      • Wine 6.0 is out with better Direct3D support and other improvements

        The team behind Wine, a compatibility layer to run Windows applications and games on systems such as Linux or Mac OS, has released Wine 6.0 to the public. Downloads, a compatibility database, and other information is available on the official project website.

        Wine 6.0 is available as source code and as binaries. Major changes in Wine 6.0 include DirectShow and Media Foundation support, improved handling of certain game copy protections, and support for an experimental Vulkan renderer for WineD3D.

      • Proton 5.13-5 Fixes World Sounds in Cyberpunk 2077, Improves Fallout 76 and More

        This is Proton’s first release in 2021 and brings quite a bunch of goodies from Proton Experimental, including support for world sounds in Cyberpunk 2077, support for a new OpenXR virtual reality API to use the VR mode of the Microsoft Flight Simulator game on AMD hardware, and online play in Red Dead Online and Read Dead Redemption 2.

      • Proton 5.13-5 is now up bringing in some of the experimental changes

        The Proton compatibility layer for running Windows games on Steam for Linux has levelled up some more with the latest Proton 5.13-5 now available to everyone.

        Pulling in some of the bigger changes from the Proton Experimental testing area, it has some impressive increased compatibility. You will find that Red Dead Online and the online features directly in Read Dead Redemption 2 will now work.

      • Proton 5.13-5 Now Available With Cyberpunk 2077 Fixes, Microsoft Flight Simulator VR

        After experimental builds and the recent release candidates, Valve’s Proton 5.13-5 is now available as the latest version of this Wine downstream for powering Steam Play for running Windows games on Linux.

        Proton 5.13-5 is notable in that there is expanded OpenXR virtual reality API support to now allow Microsoft Flight Simulator to work on Linux in VR mode. At the moment that Flight Simulator VR mode requires AMD graphics hardware. Also notable are fixes for sound within the game Cyberpunk 2077.

    • Games

      • Get a free copy of Bomber Crew during the Humble Winter Sale

        How about a free game for the coming weekend? Humble Store has Bomber Crew going free during their new Winter Sale so you can pick up some other cheap games too. Bomber Crew is a really highly rated and enjoyable game too, so it’s a pretty good pick to get free!

        As for the new Humble Winter Sale, it’s a big one with lots of publishers big and small joining in. Plus there’s of course masses of fantastic indie games that deserve plenty of attention. If you want to look over what the bigger lot have take a look at the sales for SEGA, 2K, Deep Silver, Humble Games, Codemasters, THQ Nordic, Kalypso Media and also Team17 have an existing sale still on.

      • Prison Architect: Going Green announced for release on January 28

        Paradox Interactive and Double Eleven have announced the next expansion and free update for Prison Architect with the Prison Architect: Going Green DLC launching on January 28.

        Seems like bit of a theme with Paradox published games. We had the Cities: Skylines – Green Cities DLC in 2017, the Surviving Mars: Green Planet DLC in 2019 and now prisons are going green too. You will be able to create a more environmentally friendly prison with farming and all sorts.

      • 【Xonotic】Let The Mayhem Commence Again

        I had a lot of fun in the last Xonotic stream we did so I thought I’d be fun to try that again, I tried to test out my server with other people on it and it seems like it’s working this time but we’ll truly see when the open source arena shooter mayhem begins

      • The State of Virtual Reality on Linux

        …Until after some life changes, an unexpected influx of money, and curious about all the news about Half-Life next installment (Alyx) and Valve’s own VR system, the Valve Index, and the claims that it is supported on Linux, I took the plunge and bought it. I got it on my house on April 30, 2020, an exact year after its debut.

        What happened to me next was extraordinary. I met new worlds, I felt new things, I traveled to many places in the hardest months of the Lock-downs. It is not easy to describe, since it is so linked to the senses, so real and at the same time so abstract. In this article, I’ll try to laboriously describe what I felt — without ever leaving Linux — and give numerous examples. For that, though, I have to start with boring stuff. Stay with me and you won’t regret.

        So. This article will try to convey how Virtual Reality on Linux became viable, what are its challenges and limitations, which applications and games run on it, what are the terms and technologies associated to it and what to expect from the future. And also give a light whether it’s worth investing on this technology today, instead of waiting for it to mature as most people must think.

      • Valve Is Planning Something Special For Linux Gaming In 2021

        Before we get to that carrot Valve is dangling in front of us for 2021, let’s begin with a sobering observation. Despite two straight years of incredible advancements in Linux gaming — specifically Proton, the compatibility layer that lets us easily run thousands of Windows games on Linux — there has been a negligible increase in Linux gaming adoption. As marketing-centric scribe James Mawson so poignantly states, it’s a “growth so feeble, it’s difficult to separate from statistical noise; Linux isn’t even a serious threat to the Mac in this space.”

        Wow. Sobering indeed.

        Clearly We Have Work To Do

        Proton 5 now ships with the Steam for Linux client, and it introduces improved performance, support for DX12 and much more. As Valve’s informative 2020 recap points out, an increase in developers testing their games against Proton (without needing to invest huge time and resources into developing native ports) resulted in some big AAA titles like Death Stranding, Cyberpunk 2077 and others being playable on Linux at or shortly after their native Windows releases.

        That’s wonderful for gamers already immersed in the Linux gaming ecosystem, but let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that there are still many reasons to dual-boot Windows. Maybe it’s the lure of popular games that rely on anti-cheat software or invasive DRM. Maybe it’s the subpar support for brand new hardware like the Radeon RX 6000 GPUs.

      • Axiom Verge gets a first ever free update six years later with the Randomizer Mode

        While work continues on the sequel, Axiom Verge has a first ever free content update following the release back in 2015 with a new Randomizer Mode. Never played Axiom Verge? You’re missing out. A true love-letter to the classic metroidvanias!

        This brand new update is currently in Beta, requiring you on Steam to opt into it in the usual way. Right click the game, go to Properties and hit Betas on the left panel and find it there. As the name of the update might suggest, it makes things a bit more random but “in a very sophisticated way”. This mode is smart enough so you won’t get stuck because of needing a certain item to progress onwards.

        How did it come about so long after release? Thanks to the speedrunning community, along with a developer of a mod that gave players an unofficial version of this but it needed a copy of the game. They teamed up to add it into the base game with the modder refusing any compensation for it. How nice for all of us!

      • Stockholm to host the 2021 CS:GO Major, with the biggest ever prize pool

        Valve along with PGL have announced the return of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s next Major Championship that will take place this year in Sweden.

        Not only has competitive esport CS:GO returned, it’s coming back with a bang too. This will be the biggest single prize pool in CS:GO history with twenty four teams competing for 2 million dollars USD. Not only that, this will also be the first event that is broadcast live in 4K resolution. The main event will be during November 4-7, so they’re leaving enough time to hopefully see COVID-19 get a little more under control as this will be an in-person event with a live audience.

    • Distributions

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • AlmaLinux, a CentOS alternative is planned release by March 2021

          CloudLinux is announcing project AlmaLinux formerly known as Lenix by officially publishing its website and stating that the release will be available in the first quarter of this year- 2021.

          CentOS alternative Linux distros are now in quite searches after the announcement of RedHat, which is the life of CentOS 8 Linux going to end soon this year. Thus, it gave other companies and developers a chance to grab the users who will be coerced to adopt the paid licensing of RHEL.

          For example, CentOS’s initial developer and the founder of the CentOS project Gregory Kurtzer stated immediately after the RHEL announcement that they are coming soon with RockyLinux, based on RHEL code. And on the same path CloudLinux that already has its CentOS-based OS for hosting services announced a parallel project Lenix, that is finally now has been named “Alma Linux”. Alma is a Spanish word, means “the soul”.

        • Some unlikely 2021 predictions

          Support for CentOS 8 will end at the end of the year; users will have to transition to CentOS Stream or find another solution altogether. For all the screaming, CentOS Stream may well turn out to be good enough for many of the deployments that are currently using a stable CentOS build. Others are likely to find that, in this era of cloud computing, a long-term-stable distribution isn’t as important as it used to be. If the “machines” running the distribution will not last for years, why does the distribution they run need such a long life? The end of CentOS could have the unintended effect of undermining the demand for ultra-stable “enterprise” distributions in general.

          There will be attempts to recreate CentOS as it was, of course; most or all of them are likely to fail. Maintaining a stable distribution for years takes a lot of work — and tedious, unrewarding work at that. CentOS struggled before Red Hat picked it up; there is no real reason to believe that its successors will have an easier time of it. The fact that the alternative with the most mindshare currently, Rocky Linux, has no publicly archived discussions and only seems to communicate on the proprietary Slack platform is also worrisome.

          For better or for worse, the Fedora project has a well-established relationship with Red Hat. The status of openSUSE is nowhere near as clear, which is one of the causes of the ongoing strife on its mailing lists over the last year. OpenSUSE will need to better define its relationship with SUSE in 2021, even if additional stresses, such as the creation of the independent openSUSE Foundation or the rumored public offering by SUSE, don’t happen. Like Fedora, openSUSE is the descendant of one of our earliest and most influential distributions; it will be with us for a long time yet, but exactly how that will happen needs to be worked out.

      • Debian Family

        • Debian ‘Bullseye’ enters final phase before release as team debates whether it will be last to work on i386 architecture

          Gevers also noted that support for the i386 architecture is no longer being waived. If a decision is made to drop it, he said, the start of the Bookworm cycle is a good moment to deal with any issues. “We’re interested in the discussion about i386 support in Debian that was going on recently,” he said.

          The discussion was kicked off by Debian contributor Andrew Cater, who questioned the future of i386. “There seems to be only one maintainer,” he said. “No one has real UEFI hardware for i386 and it’s becoming harder and harder to justify spending too much time on testing of the images as fewer and fewer machines can benefit from them.”

          Although new PCs all support 64-bit architecture, 32-bit applications are common, and there are also embedded use cases. Many older PCs also remain in service. “i386 hardware is so numerous and widely spread that [the] tiny fraction of i386 users might be more users than half of our release architectures combined,” claimed one comment to the thread.

          Studying data from a Debian telemetry package called Popularity Contest confirmed this. “There are an order of magnitude more people with i386 kernels (and thus presumably i386 hardware) than there are for every other non-amd64 release architecture combined. Further, there are more people with old i386 hardware than there are for any other arch,” said another developer.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Another Linux Kernel Vulnerability Was Patched in All Supported Ubuntu Releases

          Affecting Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 ESM (Trusty Tahr), the new security vulnerability (CVE-2020-28374) was discovered in Linux kernel’s LIO SCSI target implementation.

          Due to this security issue, the LIO SCSI target implementation failed to perform sufficient identifier checking in certain XCOPY requests, allowing an attacker with access to one or more LUNs in a multiple backstore environment to either expose sensitive information or modify data.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • How open source builds distributed trust

        This is an edited excerpt from my forthcoming book on Trust in Computing and the Cloud for Wiley and leads on from a previous article I wrote called Trust & choosing open source.

        In that article, I asked the question: What are we doing when we say, “I trust open source software”? In reply, I suggested that what we are doing is making a determination that enough of the people who have written and tested it have similar requirements to mine, and that their expertise, combined, is such that the risk to my using the software is acceptable. I also introduced the idea of distributed trust.

        The concept of distributing trust across a community is an application of the wisdom of the crowd theory posited by Aristotle, where the assumption is that the opinions of many typically show more wisdom than the opinion of one or a few. While demonstrably false in its simplest form in some situations—the most obvious example being examples of popular support for totalitarian regimes—this principle can provide a very effective mechanism for establishing certain information.

      • tomboy-ng – Simple Note-Taking Application for Desktops

        tomboy-ng is a free and open-source note-taking application for Linux, Mac, and Windows desktops. It is built with simplicity in mind which makes it easy to use for organizing different ideas and managing notes using typical note-taking features such as rich text markup, spell check, printing, import and export, MarkDown editing, and backup recovery.

        tomboy-ng is a fork of the now-discontinued note-taking app, Tomboy, whose best ‘selling point‘ was its ability to relate notes together thanks to its WikiWiki-like linking system. All you need to do in order to digitize your idea in an organized manner is to type a name. When you press the link button, tomboy-ng create a branch of the main idea, and all branches (as links) won’t break even when you rename or reorganize them.

      • 3 plain text note-taking tools

        Markdown, created by Aaron Schwartz and John Gruber, is the format I use the most day today. From reading and writing README files, documentation, note-taking, and even source code comments, Markdown allows me to add formatting without sacrificing the ability to read the document easily.

        Additionally, Markdown has several “extended versions” to allow for items that were not part of the original design. In particular, GitHub Flavored Markdown is exceptionally popular due to its use in the eponymous source control site.

        Many file editors support Markdown highlighting out of the box with no extra add-ons or effort required.

        [...]

        I cannot leave out Org when I talk about text formatting. Originally designed for use with GNU Emacs, Org Mode has become one of the go-to plain text formats for notes, to-do lists, documentation, and more. Org can be written and used in a whole host of text editors, including Vim. Org is simple, easy to learn, and one of my favorite text formats for notes.

        At the end of the day, choosing Markdown, AsciiDoc, or Org for plain text notes is a way to make sure they can be read and updated anywhere. And if you are like me, you’ll find yourself using the same syntax when taking paper-based notes as well!

      • Daniel Stenberg: Food on the table while giving away code

        I founded the curl project early 1998 but had already then been working on the code since November 1996. The source code was always open, free and available to the world. The term “open source” actually wasn’t even coined until early 1998, just weeks before curl was born.

        In the beginning of course, the first few years or so, this project wasn’t seen or discovered by many and just grew slowly and silently in a dusty corner of the Internet.

        Already when I shipped the first versions I wanted the code to be open and freely available. For years I had seen the cool free software put out the in the world by others and I wanted to my work to help build this communal treasure trove.

      • Collaboration Platform “Twake” To Give 6 Months Free Access to First 10,000 Enterprises

        Twake is an impressive open-source collaboration platform offers many goodies even being in the beta stage.

        You can also check out our original coverage that we published last year to know what exactly it offers and why it looks to be a promising modern Nextcloud alternative.

        In case you didn’t know, Twake is developed by LINAGORA, a France-based open-source company. Their servers are hosted in EU, and they are GDPR compliant.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla’s post doesn’t go FAR ENOUGH!

            If you watch this video and think that I’m calling for “censorship” or think I’m some kind of “leftist,” then you obviously didn’t pay attention.

          • Another Rust-y OS: Theseus joins Redox in pursuit of safer, more resilient systems

            Rust, a modern system programming language focused on performance, safety and concurrency, seems an ideal choice for creating a new operating system, and several such projects already exist. Now there is a new one, Theseus, described by creator Kevin Boos as “an Experiment in Operating System Structure and State Management.”

            The key thinking behind Theseus is to avoid what Boos and three other contributors from Rice and Yale universities call “state spill”.

          • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 373
          • Socorro Engineering: Half in Review 2020 h2 and 2020 retrospective

            2020h1 was rough. 2020h2 was also rough: more layoffs, 2 re-orgs, Covid-19.

            I (and Socorro and Tecken) got re-orged into the Data Org. Data Org manages the Telemetry ingestion pipeline as well as all the things related to it. There’s a lot of overlap between Socorro and Telemetry and being in the Data Org might help reduce that overlap and ease maintenance.

            [...]

            2020 sucked. At the end, I was feeling completely demoralized and deflated.

          • Reimagine Open: Building a Healthier Internet

            Does the “openness” that made the [Internet] so successful also inevitably lead to harms online? Is an open [Internet] inherently a haven for illegal speech, for eroding privacy and security, or for inequitable access? Is “open” still a useful concept as we chart a future path for the [Internet]?

            A new paper from Mozilla seeks to answer these questions. Reimagine Open: Building Better Internet Experiences explores the evolution of the open [Internet] and the challenges it faces today. The report catalogs findings from a year-long project of outreach led by Mozilla’s Chairwoman and CEO, Mitchell Baker. Its conclusion: We need not break faith with the values embedded in the open [Internet]. But we do need to return to the original conceptions of openness, now eroded online. And we do need to reimagine the open [Internet], to address today’s need for accountability and online health.

      • CMS

        • Algolia Search in Jekyll

          I am relieved and delighted to have finally managed the Algolia search setup for Unix Tutorial. I’ve been looking to upgrade search for a long time but had not enough JavaScript and CSS knownledge to replace the default search with Algolia’s one.

          I’m going through a short technical course about Vue (JavaScript framework), so this must have put me into the right mindset.

      • Programming/Development

        • Coming in glibc 2.33: Reloadable nsswitch.conf

          In my previous article about nsswitch.conf I talked about how simple, perhaps too simple, this config file is to use. What I didn’t cover then was how simplistic its internal implementation is. Specifically, an application only loads this file once—the first time it’s needed.

          So, what do you do when nsswitch.conf needs to change? How do you update all of the running applications? You don’t! The only way to force a reload is to stop the application and restart it. That is not always an option, especially for critical applications that might take a long time to restart.

          Recent work behind the scenes in the GNU C library will change all of this. As of glibc version 2.33, this config file now reloads and reparses each time it changes, and only the configuration is reloaded. If the configuration calls for an external shared library to be loaded, that object is only ever loaded once. It may be called in a different sequence, or not called at all, but it is never unloaded. This behavior avoids a whole class of problems related to unloading shared objects that might still be in use.

        • SEGGER’s Complete J-Link Software Now Available for Linux on ARM

          SEGGER’s entire portfolio of J-Link software is now available for Linux on ARM, for both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms. This includes both the command-line programs and GUI tools such as J-Flash, J-Flash SPI, J-Scope, the J-Link Configurator, and the GUI version of the GDB Server.

          “J-Link can now be used on Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based machines, without any limitations,” says Alex Grüner, CTO at SEGGER. “Small single-board ARM computers now offer the same functionality as x86 powered machines. The inexpensive Raspberry Pi and similar boards are now viable options, especially in test farms and production environments.”

        • Bootstrappable builds

          The idea of Reproducible Builds—being able to recreate bit-for-bit identical binaries using the same source code—has gained momentum over the last few years. Reproducible builds provide some safeguards against bad actors in the software supply chain. But building software depends on the tools used to construct the binary, including compilers and build-automation tools, many of which depend on pre-existing binaries. Minimizing the reliance on opaque binaries for building our software ecosystem is the goal of the Bootstrappable Builds project.

          For example, GCC is written in C and C++, which means that it requires compilers for those two languages in order to be built from source. In practice, that generally means a distribution would use its existing binary executables of those tools to build a new GCC version, which would then be released to users. One of the concerns with that approach is described in Unix inventor Ken Thompson’s Turing Award lecture “Reflections on Trusting Trust” [PDF]. In a nutshell, Thompson said that trusting the output of a binary compiler is an act of faith that someone has not tampered with the creation of that binary—even if the source code is available.

          The Bootstrappable Builds project was started as an offshoot of the Reproducible Builds project during the latter’s 2016 summit in Berlin. A bootstrappable build takes the idea of reproducibility one step further, in some sense. The build of a target binary can be reproduced alongside the build of the tools required to do so. It is, conceptually, almost like building a house from a large collection of atoms of different elements.

        • Parasoft Accelerates CI/CD Pipeline Through Partnership With IAR Systems

          IAR Build Tools for Linux uses the leading build tools from IAR Embedded Workbench and empowers software developers who build safety-critical applications to work directly on the Linux host environment, eliminating toolchain version management.

        • Josef Strzibny: Working with decimals in Elixir

          Integers are not enough, and floats are flawed? Decimals to the rescue! A short guide of what’s important when working with decimals in Elixir.

          This post is about the Decimal 2.0 module from decimal Hex package.

          As with every module in Elixir, running h Module and Module.module_info in IEx is a good place to start.

        • Swift Deploys: Dealing with Anti-Patterns and Unresolved Issues

          In a long end-of-the-year blog post, Charity Majors, co-founder and CTO of honeycomb.io, discussed lead time to deploy, or “the interval encompassing the time from when the code gets written and when it’s been deployed to production.”

        • Perl/Raku

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Learn awk by coding a “guess the number” game | Opensource.com

            Once you understand these concepts, you can start figuring the rest out. For example, most languages have a “way of doing things” supported by their design, and those ways can be quite different from one program to another. These ways include modularity (grouping related functionality together), declarative vs. imperative, object-orientation, low- vs. high-level syntactic features, and so on. An example familiar to many programmers is “ceremony,” that is, the amount of work required to set the scene before tackling the problem. The Java programming language is said to have a significant ceremony requirement, stemming from its design, which requires all code to be defined within a class.

          • The terminal, the console and the shell – what are they?

            The other day, as I was going through some of my old notes, I stumbled upon something I had written about the console, the terminal and the shell on Unix-like operating systems. I have decided to rewrite these notes in order to share them here on my website. So without further ado we will now stroll down memory lane and take a quick look at the origins of the Unix terminal and shell. And I will also give my advice to new users on Linux or BSD regarding the choice of terminal emulator and shell.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Email is the messenger you should migrate to

        But the most important thing: Delta Chat allows you to communicate even with people who don’t use Delta Chat at all, all you need is an email address! If you write to someone without Delta Chat, they will just get a normal email. I would argue that even beats Matrix or XMPP.

        Conclusion: If you are concerned about security when chatting and would rather use a decentralized messenger (no silo), you are in good hands with email and Delta Chat.

      • IMAPS specialisations – call for participation in the public review of LIMAPS, OIMAPS, SIMAPS and TIMAPS!

        The objective of this public consultation is to produce updated releases of the IMAPS specialisations, which will provide insights on specific interoperability viewpoints of the digital public service, i.e. the legal, organisational, technical and semantic interoperability viewpoints. Both IMAPS and its specialisations assess the various areas of a digital public service in terms of behavioural interoperability specifications, capabilities and manifestations. The update of the releases of the IMAPS specialisations will be based on change requests coming from stakeholders interested in the solutions.

  • Leftovers

    • Opulent Doom

      What wholeness might contemporary literary fiction aspire to? Heavy plotting is outmoded, if not willfully retrograde. Many novelists avoid omniscience, like inept or unwilling gods. Trusty, plausible narrative structures—the picaresque, say, or the bildungsroman—are approached cautiously, as if they might collapse while one is yet inside. Coherence, difficult enough to find in life, seems even scarcer in the fictive imagination. “The vastness of sensation and experience, of history and knowledge, limits us, sends us back to the small as a relief from the incomprehensible,” Elizabeth Hardwick wrote in 1969. Half a century later, the dimensions she identified seem to have further contracted. The popular trappings of classical works—pride, guilt, Eros, the quest—have given way to something else. Truer to experience is the accumulation of apprehensive detail: fragment, digression, traumatic memory, aphorism, and the like.

    • We Can Do It!
    • No Proof, No Evidence, No Truth

      All this is old news.  But, two things struck me from reading the newspaper article.

      The first was the oft-repeated statement that no courts have been willing to hear these claims of fraud.  This is absolutely and unequivocally untrue.

    • Escaping the Singularity: Why Artificial Intelligence Will Not Save the Planet

      Artificial intelligence has been touted as the next frontier in technological innovation by the world’s brightest minds and celebrity CEOs like Elon Musk, who predict a hyper-connected future where big data, smart infrastructure, and biology all fuse into what ‘futurist’ Ray Kurzweil and others call the technological singularity.

    • Usenet Spam: a Slice of History

      The “modern era” of spam is generally accepted as having begun in 1994, when the law-firm of Canter and Seigel sent a message to 5,500 newsgroups advertising their Green Card lottery services. They said the advertisements netted them $100,000 in business for an outlay of “only pennies”, although this claim came on top of them launching a spam-for-hire business so take it with a grain of salt.

      Spam on Usenet was a big deal beacuse of the way Usenet worked. It was a broadcast protocol where every message posted to Usenet got copied to every server that carried the newsgroup it was posted to. At least in theory. In practice, the system was highly unreliable and you just got used to replying to some post you never saw, except that someone’s reply to it made it as far as your server.

      The cost of sending a Usenet message was tiny for you and the one server you were connected to, but the cost of storage and processing multiplied by every server in the network, plus the bandwidth costs of ferrying your message betweeen all these servers, was significant.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Bury Me Furious

        Losing dozens of friends in your 20s and 30s and then getting diagnosed with a deadly virus yourself when you’re young really fucks you up. I’ve lost more people than I care to count to AIDS since the late 1980s—and many of those who survived still bear the scars of those years. Some, like my old friend Spencer Cox, made it through to see the advent of treatment for HIV infection, but stopped taking his drugs a little less than a decade ago, and died. He just couldn’t find a way to live with the aftermath of what we all saw.

      • ‘No Reason for This—Other Than Greed,’ Says Sanders as GAO Shows Medicare Pays Twice as Much as VA for Same Drugs

        “We can no longer allow the pharmaceutical industry to rip-off the more than 40 million people who receive prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D and fleece U.S. taxpayers.”

      • Because ‘Time for Urgent, Bold Change Is Now,’ 200+ Groups Tell Biden to End Failed War on Drugs

        “We are urging the administration to abandon criminalization as a means to address substance use, and instead ensure universal access to equitable evidence-based solutions rooted in racial and economic justice and compassion.”

      • Chaotic Vaccine Rollout Leaves Seniors Frustrated and Confused
      • Twitter temporarily restricts account for Russian coronavirus vaccine ‘Sputnik V’

        The Twitter account for Russia’s “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine, @sputnikvaccine, has been temporarily restricted due to “unusual activity.” 

      • Dr. Ali Khan: U.S. Needs to Quickly Ramp Up Vaccinations as COVID Kills Over 4,000 in Single Day

        As the United States breaks all records for coronavirus cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns another 92,000 could die in the next three weeks as complaints grow over the slow distribution of COVID vaccines. Across the country, hospitals are overflowing, and ICU beds are in short supply. In Los Angeles County, an epicenter of the outbreak, a staggering one in three residents has gotten the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to new data. For more on the pandemic, we speak with epidemiologist Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health and the former director of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, where he oversaw the Strategic National Stockpile. He says that despite the grim statistics in the United States, other countries with more proactive pandemic responses have shown that it is possible to bring the virus under control and largely return to normal life. “We can do that same thing here in the United States if we use good science,” he says.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Partners Feel ‘Betrayed,’ ‘Taken Aback’ By Microsoft’s Direct Calls To Customers

          A California MSP learned a lesson years ago when a software vendor tried to go direct with his end users. So when Microsoft demanded contact information for his customers, he gave them an email address that went directly to him instead. Earlier this week that email account, which was set up about 18 months ago in the hopes that it would not be used, received a message from a Microsoft business development specialist offering his customer “free training.” “That’s exactly what I would do if I was trying to steal someone else’s business,” said the MSP, who asked not to be named because he fears retribution from Microsoft for speaking out. “It’s just wrong. It’s just wrong. Plain and simple.”

        • Windows 10 bug corrupts your hard drive on seeing this file’s icon

          In August 2020, October 2020, and finally this week, infosec researcher Jonas L drew attention to an NTFS vulnerability impacting Windows 10 that has not been fixed.

          When exploited, this vulnerability can be triggered by a single-line command to instantly corrupt an NTFS-formatted hard drive, with Windows prompting the user to restart their computer to repair the corrupted disk records.

          The researcher told BleepingComputer that the flaw became exploitable starting around Windows 10 build 1803, the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, and continues to work in the latest version.

          What’s worse is, the vulnerability can be triggered by standard and low privileged user accounts on Windows 10 systems.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • Open source software security in an ICT context – benefits, risks, and safeguards

            In a recent report, contributors to free and open source software (FOSS) claimed they spent only 2.27 percent of their contribution time on security. In our latest blog post, we delve into open source software security, and discuss why it’s key for building robust and open interoperable networks.

            [...]

            Is open source software better than proprietary software when it comes to security vulnerabilities? Elias Levy, the person behind the infamous (vulnerability) full disclosure mailing list, Bugtraq, said two decades ago: “No. Open Source Software certainly does have the potential to be more secure than its closed source counterpart. But make no mistake, simply being open source is no guarantee of security”.

            Building and delivering complex system software without security vulnerabilities requires investment and due diligence, regardless if the code is open sourced or proprietary (see figure 1, below). As the Mozilla Foundation states: “Security is a process. To have substantial and lasting benefit, we need to invest in education, best practices, and a host of other areas”.

            Tools and resources are available. With safeguards in place, OSS can be used effectively at low risk to realize its intended benefits. ICT products relying on OSS must be developed using methodologies and safeguards that ensure the expected level of security is met. OSS can accelerate innovation, reduce the development timeline, speed time to market, realize cost savings, and be secure. ICT vendors must take responsibility and practice a higher level of due diligence when using OSS components.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • It’s Business As Usual At WhatsApp

              The good news is that, overall, this update does not make any extreme changes to how WhatsApp shares data with its parent company Facebook. The bad news is that those extreme changes actually happened over four years ago, when WhatsApp updated its privacy policy in 2016 to allow for significantly more data sharing and ad targeting with Facebook. What’s clear from the reaction to this most recent change is that WhatsApp shares much more information with Facebook than many users were aware, and has been doing so since 2016. And that’s not users’ fault: WhatsApp’s obfuscation and misdirection around what its various policies allow has put its users in a losing battle to understand what, exactly, is happening to their data.

              This new terms of service and the privacy policy are one more step in Facebook’s long-standing effort to monetize its messaging properties, and are also in line with its plans to make WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct less separate. This brings serious privacy and competition concerns, including but not limited to WhatsApp’s ability to share new information with Facebook about users’ interactions with new shopping and payment products.

              To be clear: WhatsApp still uses strong end-to-end encryption, and there is no reason to doubt the security of the contents of your messages on WhatsApp. The issue here is other data about you, your messages, and your use of the app. We still offer guides for WhatsApp (for iOS and Android) in our Surveillance Self-Defense resources, as well as for Signal (for iOS and Android).

            • Apple’s new privacy labels show how data hungry Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are
            • ‘We found a wiretap’ Lyubov Sobol’s campaign team head released from custody with bugged cell phone

              In her latest video for “Navalny Live” opposition figure Lyubov Sobol revealed that her campaign manager, Olga Klyuchnikova, found a listening device planted inside her cell phone following her release from jail at the end of December 2020. According to Klyuchnikova, her iPhone was “noticeably malfunctioning” when she was allowed to use it while still in custody, leading her to believe that FSB officers had “clumsily” tampered with the device. She now plans to appeal to state investigators to open a criminal case for violation of privacy.

            • The State of IPv6 support on the Tor network
            • Govt steps into WhatsApp row, ‘examining’ data-sharing update

              The government has stepped into the raging privacy controversy over WhatsApp’s latest update and has started an “examination” of the new mandate that the company has asked users to agree to by February 8. “We are collecting details,” official sources told TOI, in an indication that the government is keeping a watch over the concerns around potential privacy violations in WhatsApp’s new updates that involves sharing certain business/transactional data with Facebook, the parent of the world’s biggest messenger.

              WhatsApp’s new privacy terms give it the right to share user data, including location, phone number, contacts list and usage pattern, with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. The move has been questioned by privacy advocates, entrepreneurs such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, and certain government agencies abroad, citing Facebook’s poor track record in handling user data.

            • WhatsApp New Policy And the Backlash From “Common” People Will Cooldown

              Just a week ago the internet was hit with the news about WhatsApp privacy policy updates. Everyone was talking about such a major update in the policy and how it could affect WhatsApp users. In this article, I will not only discuss the change in the policy but how it will change the majority of its users.

            • Help Quit WhatsApp

              Recently, people got awareness to leave popular proprietary software WhatsApp. We even saw # Delete Whatsapp hashtags on social networks. For Ubuntu users who want to switch away from it here’s alternatives, namely Telegram and Element, which are free and easy, and available for Ubuntu too. Fortunately, today both are also available for users who use Debian, Mint GNU/Linux, and other Ubuntu-family computers. For Android users, both are already available at F-Droid. They are Free Libre Open Source Software also known as FLOSS. We hope these will always be friendly and useful for us forever. Please share this with your friends!

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | A Layman’s Guide to Spotting Sedition, Treason, and Lunacy in General

        The words people speak have consequences—but maybe not what you think.

      • Opinion | There’s Nothing Vegan About War

        As more and more people rethink their consumption of animal products, it is inevitable that the world’s military forces will increasingly use veganism to appear progressive, trendy, and virtuous. My plea to my fellow vegans: don’t fall for it.

      • Klete Keller: From Gold Medalist to Capitol Insurrectionist

        An Olympic medalist, his United States Olympics red, white, and blue team jacket worn with pride, was part of the fascist mob that marauded through the Capitol building last week. His name is Klete Keller, a swimmer who medaled at the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympics, including winning golds. Keller wasn’t just a passive observer. He has been indicted in US District court for his part in the attempted insurrection.

      • The Capitol, Fortified

        Washington, D.C.—On the evening of the Capitol attack, when authorities finally began beating back the mob, rioters were defiant. “We’ll be back!” I heard one Trump supporter yell at police last Wednesday. Another shouted, “This isn’t over, bitches!”

      • ‘Famine Not Seen in 40 Years’: UN Warns Pompeo Decision in Yemen Could Lead to Hundreds of Thousands—If Not Millions—Dead

        “It literally is going to be a death sentence,” said the World Food Programme chief about the U.S. Secretary of State’s decision to label the Houthis a terrorist organization.

      • ACTION ALERT: What Can ‘Now Be Told’ by NYT About Pentagon Papers Isn’t Actually True

        The day New York Times journalist Neil Sheehan died, the Times ran a story (1/7/21) with the headline, “Now It Can Be Told: How Neil Sheehan Got the Pentagon Papers.” It purports to be the true story of how the paper obtained the Defense Department’s classified history of the Vietnam War that had been secretly photocopied by former Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg. Here’s what Sheehan told reporter Janny Scott in 2015, on the condition that it could not be published until after Sheehan’s death:

      • What It Meant to be Conflicted During the Vietnam War

        The history of how the Pentagon Papers, the history of how the government of the US lied to the people of the US and the rest of the world, about the conduct of the Vietnam War, had its final denouement in apartments and a copy business in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area. That Daniel Ellsberg, a hero of that epoch was conflicted over giving those papers he had copied from the Rand Corporation to the late journalist and author Neil Sheehan (“After 50 years, the Pentagon Papers give up their final secrets,” Guardian, January 10, 2012) was not so different than the angst that millions of us felt during that war. And there were great penalties that could have been paid for those courageous enough to step over the line and do the right thing.

        I met men who had done the right thing during a trip to Montreal, Canada in April 1970, only weeks after returning home from basic and advanced training in the military. These men had already paid a great price for their decision to leave the US and it was on every face in that office for war resisters near the campus of McGill University.

      • Russian military investigators formally refuse to examine alleged FSB involvement in Navalny poisoning

        Russia’s Military Investigative Committee (a department subordinate to the country’s federal investigative agency) has formally refused to examine allegations that FSB officers were involved in the August 2020 poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny. 

      • The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba

        In the six years since, Trump’s State Department could not point to a single act of terror sponsored by Cuba. Instead, Secretary Pompeo based his decision on Cuba’s alleged support for the ELN (National Liberation Army – Colombia’s second-largest guerilla group) and the harboring of a handful of U.S. fugitives wanted for crimes committed in the 1970s, including renowned Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. Lacking more specific accusations, the State Department criticized Cuba for its supposed “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

        These claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. Regarding the ELN, the gist of the story is that the Trump administration is punishing Cuba for its role in attempting to bring peace to the long-simmering conflict in Colombia. ELN negotiators arrived in Cuba in 2018 for peace talks with the Colombian government. As part of the protocols for these meetings, ELN negotiators were allowed entry into Cuba and promised safe passage back into Colombia after their conclusion. Guarantor countries, including Cuba and Norway, assumed responsibility for their safe return. The talks collapsed in January 2019 following an ELN car bombing in Bogotá that killed 22 people. Colombia requested the extradition of the negotiators, but Cuba refused because the Colombia government will not honor the previous government’s commitment to guaranteeing the negotiators’ freedom upon returning home.

      • America Has Entered the Weimar Era

        Yet America’s largely self-inflicted COVID-19 disaster may be eclipsed by the country’s political unraveling, which has proceeded with warp speed in the last few weeks, with the once celebrated American way of succession in power via the ballot box dealt a body blow by a large sector of the electorate that has marched in lock step with their leader in refusing to accept the results of the presidential elections.

        Joe Biden will be seated this time around, but he may be regarded as illegitimate in the eyes of the 74 million Americans under the spell of Donald Trump. Future electoral contests for power may well end up being decided by a strong dose of street warfare, as the U.S. goes the way of Germany’s ill-fated Weimar Republic. The violent storming of the Capitol by a Trumpian mob underlined the face of crises to come.

      • Bond Modification Sought After Alleged Kenosha Killer Kyle Rittenhouse Drinks Beer, Flashes White Power Signs With So-Called ‘Proud Boys’

        “The defendant’s continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm.”

      • Opinion | We Must Defeat the Far-Right Insurrectionist Movement. Here’s How

        We need to mobilize like never before.

      • POW Nation

        “POWs Never Have A Nice Day.” That sentiment was captured on a button a friend of mine wore for our fourth grade class photo in 1972. That prisoners of war could never have such a day was reinforced by the sad face on that button. Soon after, American POWs would indeed be released by their North Vietnamese captors as the American war in Vietnam ended. They came home the next year to a much-hyped heroes’ welcome orchestrated by the administration of President Richard Nixon, but the government would never actually retire its POW/MIA (missing in action) flags. Today, almost half a century later, they continue to fly at federal installations, including the US Capitol as it was breached and briefly besieged last week by a mob incited by this country’s lame-duck president, ostensibly to honor all US veterans who were either POWs or never returned because their bodies were never recovered.

      • POW Nation: When Will America Free Itself From War?

        Remembering the sacrifices of our veterans is fitting and proper; it’s why we set aside Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November.  In thinking about those POWs and the dark legacy of this country’s conflicts since World War II, however, I’ve come to a realization.  In the ensuing years, we Americans have all, in some sense, become prisoners of war.  We’re all part of a culture that continues to esteem war, embrace militarism, and devote more than half of federal discretionary spending to wars, weaponry, and the militarization of American culture.  We live in a country that leads the world in the export of murderous munitions to the grimmest, most violent hotspots on the planet, enabling, for example, a genocidal conflict in Yemen, among other conflicts.

        True, in a draft-less country, few enough Americans actually don a military uniform these days.  As 2021 begins, most of us have never carried a military identification card that mentions the Geneva Convention on the proper and legal treatment of POWs, as I did when I wore a uniform long ago.  So, when I say that all Americans are essentially POWs, I’m obviously using that acronym not in a legal or formal way, but in the colloquial sense of being captured by some phenomenon, held by it, subjected to it in a fashion that tends to restrict, if not eliminate, freedom of thought and action and so compromises this country’s belief in sacred individual liberties.  In this colloquial sense, it seems to me that all Americans have in some fashion become prisoners of war, even those few “prisoners” among us who have worked so bravely and tirelessly to resist the phenomenon.

      • Violent Right Wing Forces Have Been Activated, It Requires Strategic Action to Stop Them

        It is important in times of crisis like this to pause, take a deep breath and think about the ramifications of our responses given the present makeup of the US political structure. It is also necessary to look past the events of January 6 to the conditions that created the environment in which this type of action could occur and what it will take to change them.

        The inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20 is not the end of the era referred to as Trumpism. Violent right-wing forces have been activated and they are not going away unless major actions are taken to divide them and remove the material conditions that gave rise to them. That is our task going forward.

      • What to Expect in the Final Days of Trump’s Fascist Reign
      • UN expert: crippling US sanctions on Syria are illegal and hurting civilians
      • New Analysis Shows US Police 3 Times More Likely to Use Violence Against Leftist Protesters Than Far-Right

        The report’s findings came as a surprise to virtually no one. 

      • Police Are Three Times More Likely to Use Force Against the Left, Data Shows
      • FBI and DHS Were Warned About Jan. 6. They Didn’t Prepare a Threat Assessment.
      • Trump Supporters Blame Antifa, Not the President, for Capitol Chaos Last Week
      • Opinion | Can Biden Achieve Progress Where It Matters While Avoiding a New Cold (or Hot) War?

        President Biden’s China conundrum.

      • Biden’s China Problem: Resisting a New Cold War in Asia

        There is a story that Washington policy-makers like to tell about America’s relationship with China, a narrative of the betrayal of naive hopes that is closer to a fairy tale than a sober analysis of history. The fable goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a hermit kingdom called China, poor, angry, and isolated. Two visionary statesmen, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, visited this unhappy land and opened it up to the world. With diplomacy and trade, successive American leaders helped build up China, with the dream that, as it grew richer, it would join the United States in upholding a harmonious global order. But engagement proved a false dream: As China grew richer, it remained despotic, undercutting America with sharp trade practices, repressing its own people, and threatening its neighbors. Suddenly America found itself confronting a monster. Shortly before he died in 1994, Nixon told The New York Times, “We may have created a Frankenstein.”

        Nixon’s invocation of the Frankenstein monster reveals the emotions underlying this historical myth: the creation that betrays its creator. To get a glimpse of Dr. Frankenstein at the height of his hubris, it’s worth revisiting former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick’s 2005 speech calling on China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the American-led international order. The paternalistic assumption was that the United States and China had no deep-seated disagreements, and provided China put aside any ambitions to challenge US hegemony, it could evolve into a junior partner in empire.

      • Russian prison officials say they are ‘obliged’ to arrest Navalny upon his return to Moscow

        In a statement released on Thursday, January 14, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said it is “obliged take all actions to arrest” opposition figure Alexey Navalny upon his return to Russia, pending a court decision on revoking his probation and replacing it with a prison sentence.

      • Unpacking the Aftermath of Trump’s Coup Attempt With Brian Becker

        As more details of the apparent conspiracy headed by President Donald Trump to storm the U.S. Capitol building and prevent the electoral college certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory come to light, the United States finds itself on a dangerous precipe. 

      • A Parler archive is being converted into an interactive map of the Capitol building attack

        A developer going by the name of Patr10tic has created an interactive map using GPS metadata and videos from the app Parler to offer a glimpse of what was happening inside and around the Capitol building during the violent protest on January 6th (via Motherboard).

        The project is an expansion on similar maps like the one Gizmodo created to illustrate just how many Parler users were part of the mob that occupied the Capitol building, based off an archive created by a researcher known as @donk_enby. Patr10tic’s map (currently named “Y’all Qaeda”) uses the same archive and connects GPS coordinates with actual video, offering a map of red icons placed around the Capitol for each associated video post.

      • Some among America’s military allies believe Trump deliberately attempted a coup and may have had help from federal law-enforcement officials

        Multiple European security officials told Insider that President Donald Trump appeared to have tacit support among US federal agencies responsible for securing the Capitol complex in Wednesday’s coup attempt.

        Insider is reporting this information because it illustrates the serious repercussions of Wednesday’s events: Even if they are mistaken, some among America’s international military allies are now willing to give credence to the idea that Trump deliberately tried to violently overturn an election and had help from some federal law-enforcement agents.

      • Huawei patent mentions use of Uighur-spotting tech

        The filing is one of several of its kind involving leading Chinese technology companies, discovered by a US research company and shared with BBC News.

        Huawei had previously said none of its technologies was designed to identify ethnic groups.

        It now plans to alter the patent.

      • Huawei’s patent for technology identifying Uighurs by facial recognition uncovered

        Huawei’s patent, originally filed in July 2018 in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describes advanced artificial-intelligence techniques that identify various features of pedestrians photographed or filmed in the street. It is mainly concerned with how different body postures, such as whether someone is sitting or standing, affect accuracy. However, it also lists “attributes” that can be used to target specific individuals, including ethnicity.

    • Environment

      • Carbon capture and storage won’t work, critics say

        Carbon capture and storage, trapping carbon before it enters the atmosphere, sounds neat. But many doubt it can ever work.

      • Arrests in Minnesota After Water Protectors Chain Themselves Inside Pipe Section to Halt Line 3 Construction

        “Enbridge’s last-ditch effort to build fossil fuel infrastructure is killing people and the planet.”

      • ‘That Is Not Justice!’ Outrage as Snyder Hit With Just Two Misdemeanor Counts Over Role in Flint Water Crisis

        The charges come as new reporting indicates the former Michigan governor was aware of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak linked to the water crisis months before he acknowledged it in public.

      • Energy

        • Decoding the Hype Behind the Natural Gas Industry’s Hydrogen Push

          In December, ABC News ran an article with the headline “Why green hydrogen is the renewable energy source to watch in 2021.” And as Bloomberg has reported, Airbus is betting big on hydrogen as a fuel for its planes. Meanwhile, South Korea’s SK Global just announced an investment in U.S. hydrogen fuel cell producer Plug Power; in the past year, the company’s stock value has increased ten-fold.

        • Over 75 Indigenous Women Urge Biden to Stop Climate-Wrecking Pipelines and Respect Treaty Rights

          “Joe Biden, we are asking you to stand on the right side of history and humanity by putting an immediate end to the deadly pipelines destroying our Earth, our communities, and all life.”

        • Samsung put the final nail in the box that used to contain a charger

          There are still some arguments why smartphone companies should keep bundling power bricks with their new devices, like how there will always be some people who’ve never owned a phone before and won’t have a charger. Many will also point out that these companies are doing it for selfish reasons — still charging you the same amount or more for a phone while giving you less value in the box. (It’s fun to rag on these companies’ duplicity, too.) But like my colleague Dieter said succinctly last June, I don’t care: let’s get rid of 300,000 tons of e-waste and help the world’s remaining brand-new USB-C smartphone buyers get their chargers elsewhere.

        • Finland demonstrates ice technology expertise with innovative and sustainable icebreaker vessel

          Danfoss Editron’s hybrid-electric system is powering the removable bow with two generators, built as a DC system, and two propulsion systems. The company has also provided a front supercapacitor so that peak powers can be efficiently controlled. The EDITRON software also cuts fuel and delivers high efficiencies as the diesel generators in the DC system can be driven at variable speeds. The power plan and propulsion system of the removable bow have been designed to be operated from the pusher tug wheelhouse, while the machinery can operate unmanned.

        • Finland demonstrates ice technology expertise with innovative and sustainable icebreaker vessel

          As winter temperatures in Finland can plummet to -30°C, icebreakers are a necessity even during mild winters. Introducing hybrid electric power in icebreaking operations will help the country meet its target to lower emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Western Wolf Coalition Files Lawsuit Challenging Nationwide Wolf Delisting

          The most recent data from the Service and its state partners show an estimated 4,400 wolves inhabit the western Great Lakes states, but there are only 108 wolves in Washington state (with only 20 outside of eastern Washington), 158 in Oregon (with only 16 outside of northeastern Oregon), and a scant 15 exist in California. Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain essentially absent from their historical habitat in these states.

          “As a direct result of human persecution, wolves became functionally extinct across the contiguous U.S. in the 1960s,” said Sarah McMillan, conservation director at WildEarth Guardians. “Wolf reintroduction into Yellowstone in the mid-1990s was the start of an amazing effort to restore this keystone species to its historic range, an effort that is nowhere near completion. The Service may not claim victory and throw up its hands in the middle of recovery efforts, even if wolf management is challenging and has become a political hot potato. This directly contradicts the plain language and the intent of the ESA.”

        • Conservationists File Lawsuits to Stop ‘Death Sentence to Wolves’ Ordered by Trump

          “This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy.”

        • The nature effect in motion: visual exposure to environmental scenes impacts cognitive load and human gait kinematics

          In conclusion, the two studies reported here present compelling evidence that nature and urban image material pose different demands on cognitive processing that can be quantified on a moment-to-moment basis, using reaction times or gait kinematics as measures. This opens a new line of research to further our understanding of the causal mechanisms underlying health benefits through exposure to nature. What exactly is it in green spaces or nature more generally that promotes restorative effects on cognition, and how much exposure is needed to obtain such effects? With the ability to use changes in gait kinematics as a promising way to objectively quantify and track environmentally induced cognitive load, our results point toward a powerful new approach for addressing these important questions at the nexus of research in cognition and environmental design.

    • Finance

      • After Biden Vowed ‘$2,000 Checks Will Go Out the Door’ Ahead of Georgia Wins, Relief Plan Reportedly Includes Just $1,400

        A $1,400 direct payment on top of the recently approved $600 would total $2,000. But as one critic argued, “I don’t think that’s what Biden promised. And I know it’s not what most people heard.”

      • Donald Trump Built a National Debt So Big (Even Before the Pandemic) That It’ll Weigh Down the Economy for Years

        One of President Donald Trump’s lesser known but profoundly damaging legacies will be the explosive rise in the national debt that occurred on his watch. The financial burden that he’s inflicted on our government will wreak havoc for decades, saddling our kids and grandkids with debt.

        The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.

      • War of the (Financial) Worlds

        We all know, of course, that we’re living through a once-in-a-century-style pandemic; that millions of people have lost their jobs, a portion of which will never return; that the poorest among us, who can withstand such acute economic hardship the least, have been slammed the hardest; and that the global economy has been kneecapped, thanks to a battery of lockdowns, shutdowns, restrictions of various sorts, and health-related concerns. More sobering than all of this: more than 360,000 Americans (and counting) have already lost their lives as a result of Covid-19 with, according to public health experts, far more to come.

        And yet, as if in some galaxy far, far away, there also turns out to be another, so much more upbeat side to this equation. As Covid-19 grew ever worse while 2020 ended, the stock market reached heights that hadn’t been seen before. Ever.

      • Trump Rule Aimed at Forcing Banks to Fund Gun Makers and Big Oil Called ‘Parting Gift’ to Corporate Cronies

        “We call on the Biden administration to pursue all available courses of action to ensure that this rule never takes effect.”

      • US debt surged by $7 trillion under Trump. It will go much higher under Biden
    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland?

        Nuland would be a ticking time-bomb in Biden’s State Department, waiting to sabotage his better angels much as she undermined Obama’s second-term diplomacy.

      • Sheryl Sandberg Makes Disingenuous Push To Argue That Only Facebook Has The Power To Stop Bad People Online

        While Twitter is opening up to have the difficult conversation about how content moderation and the open internet should co-exist at a time when the President of the US has inspired an insurrection, Facebook, perhaps not surprisingly, has taken another approach. It’s one that is condescendingly stupid, and simultaneously self-serving.

      • Opinion | A Second Trump Impeachment Has Not Lessened the Current Danger

        This move by House Democrat is insufficient to forestall the possibility of further Trumpist-incited violence.

      • There Can Be No ‘Unity’ With Seditious Republicans

        “Unity” is the word that white people use when they want to accommodate and appease the forces of white supremacy. It’s what made antislavery whites in the North compromise and unite with rapists and murderers who held human beings as farm animals, in order to have a Constitution. It’s what made Abraham Lincoln, the so-called Great Emancipator, offer “charity” instead of “malice” to the violent insurrectionists he had just beaten. It’s the word white people invoked when they advocated the imprisonment of “outside agitators” like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis during the civil rights era. “Unity” is what oppressors always call for when they seek amnesty for their actions.

      • Opinion | Insurrection, Pandemic, and Censorship

        Democracy requires an informed citizenry and reliably informative media. 

      • McConnell Continues to Refuse Reconvening Senate Following House Impeachment
      • ‘Being Neutral in the Face of a Fascist Threat Is Not an Acceptable Journalistic Value’

        Janine Jackson interviewed political scientist Dorothee Benz on the January 6 insurrection for the January 8, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Judge Not Impressed By Parler’s Attempt To Force Amazon To Put It Back Online

        It appears that Parler’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon for suspending its AWS account isn’t off to a very good start. In an emergency hearing on Thursday to see whether or not the judge would order Amazon to turn AWS back on for Parler, the judge declined to do so:

      • QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Threatens Joe Biden With Impeachment
      • White Nationalist Barbarians Storm the Gate(s) of the U.S. Capitol

        In terms of those who have already be identified and arrested, where more should follow, shouldn’t all who entered the Capitol building also face murder charges? Let’s consider this scenario: Two people rob a store, where one of them kills the clerk and the other one steals the money. In this case, typically, both will be charged with different degrees of murder, apart from armed robbery and other charges. Why should those who engaged in an attempted coup, a more serious crime, be treated any differently? I’m sure if the seditionists were brown or black, as many others have articulated, the brutal nature of the State and its agents of suppression would’ve been on full display. If they were Muslims, this scenario would’ve provided Trump with a false pretext to invade Iran, like in the case of 9/11 with former President George W. Bush and Iraq.

        As we focus our national attention on the culprits behind this attempted coup, let’s not forget the strong and powerful supporters of Trump, where they should also be held accountable (or eternally shamed at minimum), like the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, for the vitriol rhetoric and events leading up to the violent and deadly attack on the Capitol. This includes, among others, Trump’s immediate family (especially Donald Jr., Jared and Ivanka!); Trump subordinates, like Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and the guy who didn’t get hugged as a kid, Stephen Miller; soon-to-be-disbarred Rudy Giuliani; idiotic and immoral Republican leaders in Congress, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA),  Jim Jordan (R-OH), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), etc.; and, let’s not forget the estimated 74 million people who voted for the most incompetent and deranged President in U.S. history.

      • No Tears For Twitter Trump

        That’s why the left needs to forget all seemingly large disparities in answers and instead unite around asking the moral questions. The left need not be divided on the lines of specifics but rather reach solidarity through the common act of care. For every person caring looks different. This is a beautiful thing and the existence of this diversity of opinions is part of the leftist project of anti-hierarchy generally.

        To split the difference here I would say that the argument in favor of free speech generally assumes that if we let the powers that be come for the right then they will come for the left next. But this is exactly the opposite of what is going on. If people of color stormed the Capitol there would have been a massacre. The fact that it took inciting a riot for Twitter to ban Trump shows that censorship only reaches the right far after it has already done its damage on the left.

      • Trump and His Billionaire Enablers

        But what about the billionaire donors to Trump’s campaign and his victory PACs?  Especially those who gave substantial donations in 2019 and 2020, when it was clear that Trump was causing a crisis in our democracy?

        Unlike those who gave to the 2016 campaign but distanced themselves from Trump after seeing him in action, will there be any accountability for these most recent billionaire enablers of Donald Trump who saw what damage he caused–but still stood by him?

      • Twitter’s Ban on Trump will Deepen the US Tribal Divide

        The flaws in this reasoning need to be peeled away, like the layers of an onion.

        Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Trump for, among other things, “incitement of violence” effectively cuts him off from 88 million followers. Facebook has said it will deny Trump access to his account till at least the end of his presidential term.

      • Resolution to Expel House GOP Who Voted to Overturn Election Is Gaining Momentum
      • Genetic Engineering, Agriculture and Brexit: Treachery in Our Midst

        In the wake of Brexit, he attacked the EU’s stance on genetic engineering in agriculture by saying:

        Eustice’s statements form part of a long-term pro-genetic engineering-deregulation propaganda campaign. It follows on from Boris Johnson’s first speech to parliament as prime minister in 2019 in which he proclaimed:

      • A glitch in the system: The rise and fall of Sardana Avksenteiva, once the most popular mayor in Russia

        Sardana Avksentieva is stepping down after almost two and a half years as the mayor of Yakutsk, a port city in eastern Siberia. Until January 11, she was (and technically still is) the only sitting head of a Russian regional capital who won office by defeating a candidate from United Russia, the country’s ruling political party. Sometimes called the “people’s mayor,” Avksentieva was popular beyond her hometown. As soon as she took office, she sold off the city government’s expensive SUVs, then lowered public transportation fares, and last year she announced plans to transfer city employees to open offices on the outskirts of town. She also voted against constitutional amendments that could extend Putin’s presidency and voiced support for the self-proclaimed shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who’s repeatedly attempted treks to Moscow, where he plans to “exorcize” Vladimir Putin. The “people’s mayor,” however, has now named Yevgeny Grigoryev, a member of United Russia and the winner of the Kremlin’s “Leaders of Russia’’ contest, as her successor. Sources told Meduza that the Kremlin spent years engineering Avksentieva’s resignation.

      • Impeachment Too Good for Trump

        He was the first among our 45 presidents to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. This time, for “incitement of insurrection.” More than well-deserved for a narcissistic, sociopathic madman who turned our country upside down for four chaotic years, something different, much of it bad, coming daily.Trump will get the attention he so craves by being long mentioned in history, but as a disgrace to his country. The vote to impeach was 232-197, including 10 members of his Republican party. But impeachment, even twice, is too good for him. He should be in prison.

        The Senate should try him before he leaves office Wednesday. But the all-powerful Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reportedly has said he won’t recall the senators until Thursday, a day after Trump leaves office. McConnell was Trump’s enabler-in-chief.

      • Trump Was Impeached Twice Within the Span It Takes a Giraffe to Gestate a Calf
      • Department of Redundancy: Trump Racks Up Another Impeachment

        Call it what you want—coup attempt, attack, riot, insurrection, whatever—the event that occurred on January 6th at the Capitol and Donald Trump’s role in inciting it make this round of impeachment hearings quite simple.  Although there is little room for wiggling on the trumpists’ part, one can be certain that the Jim Jordans of the House will do their best to turn the fascist assault into something it clearly was not.  That’s why Trump gives people like Jordan medals; because not only will they lie for him no matter what he does, because they don’t know they are lying the lies are even more convincing.

        In the prelude to this impeachment hearing, a few Republicans denounced them as adding to the divisions in the nation.  This approach seems especially disingenuous given the past four and a half years where every goddamn Republican in power encouraged the very same divisions they are decrying now.  As I write, there’s a GOP clown representing Utah telling the PBS reporter that there needs to be an investigation before there is a vote on the single charge of inciting the riot.  He tells the world that he needs more proof that Trump was involved in the incitement.  His argument is as convoluted as one might think.  It is no real argument, just a twisting of everything we saw with our own eyes not only on January 6th, but also in the weeks leading up to the election and in the weeks between.  If you recall, Trump insisted (and continues to insist) that he won the election no matter what the courts, the electors and the votes themselves said.

      • ‘Damning’ New IG Report, Says ACLU, Shows Just How Far Trump Team ‘Was Willing to Go to Destroy’ Immigrant Families

        “Just when you think the Trump administration can’t sink any lower, it does.”

      • Constitutional Lawyer: Trump Is a Clear & Present Danger, a Senate Impeachment Trial Is Needed Now

        The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, and Trump will end his term in office with the distinction of being the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in the 232-197 vote to impeach, and Trump now faces a trial in the Senate. Constitutional attorney John Bonifaz says the House “did its duty” and that the Senate must move quickly to take up impeachment proceedings. “Those who did not vote to convict last time are responsible, in part, for allowing this president to stay in office, someone who has clearly abused his power time and time again, leading to this violent attack on the U.S. Capitol,” says Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech for People.

      • Impeachment Comes as Violence and Racism at Heart of Trump Era Boils Over
      • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Impeachment Is Late Attempt to Curb Violence & Racism at Heart of Trump Era

        We look at the fight for accountability after a white supremacist mob attacked the U.S. Capitol and as President Trump is impeached for a historic second time for his incitement of violence. Supporters who took part in the January 6 attack — including current police officers — have been arrested across the U.S. for their involvement in the insurrection. Ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, the FBI is warning police chiefs around the country to be on high alert for right-wing domestic terror attacks. The Pentagon said it’s increasing the number of National Guard soldiers deployed to the nation’s capital to 20,000 — twice the combined number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan — in stark contrast to the response to last week’s riot. “The impeachment yesterday is a culmination of sorts of the kind of violence and racism that has been at the heart of the Trump administration that finally boiled over,” says Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University and contributing writer at The New Yorker magazine. “We have a government that has completely spun out of control at the hands of Donald Trump.”

      • Bibi and Jonathan Pollard: Two Anti-American Peas in Their Own Pod

        We need to be reminded of the reasons for Pollard’s unusually long jail sentence.  First of all, he was not a zealous Zionist trying to protect Israeli national security.  Before trying to sell sensitive documents and intercepts to Israel, he tried to sell sensitive intelligence to Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi and others.  Second, some of Pollard’s materials ended up in the Soviet Union, which begs serious questions about Israel’s security forces that have never been answered.  Third, Pollard’s perfidy compromised important collection activities that led to a failure to prevent acts of terrorism against Israel, resulting in loss of life.

        These are presumably the reasons why then secretary of defense Casper Weinberger ignored a previous agreement with the courts and made sure that Pollard received a life sentence under the Espionage Act, the only American who ever received such a sentence for passing intelligence to a so-called ally.  Pollard claimed falsely that he committed espionage only because the United States “collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information.”  In fact, I participated as a CIA analyst in numerous intelligence exchanges with Mossad, and can certify that the U.S. intelligence community could not have been more generous with its intelligence sharing with Israel.  It took more than a decade for Israel to acknowledge that Pollard was on the Israeli payroll.

      • Ripe for Fascism: A Post-Coup d’Trump Autopsy of American Democracy

        Most legacy media outlets sought to persuade voters to choose Joe Biden for president because “democracy is on the ballot” and once Trump was out of office, things would return to normal, we could all go back to “brunch.” However, this analysis overlooks the crucial realities of how we got here and, as Lau Tzu might suggest, where we have been and are heading. The “return to normal” rhetoric distracts from the reality of American democracy: it is in such an emaciated state that a more adept and sophisticated version of Trump could easily come to power. It was our infatuation with what passes for “normal” that brought about this historical moment. The Democracy Index rates the U.S. as a “flawed democracy,” which means that the elections are free and fair, basic civil liberties are respected, but there are underlying issues (e.g. the erosion of the free press and suppression of opposition political parties and viewpoints). Prior to Trump, scholars noted that the U.S. was an oligarchy, not a democratic republic. However, rudimentary corporate news media narratives concerning the so-called “coup” at the U.S. Capital January 6th leave out crucial realities that can easily lead audiences to glean that Donald Trump and his followers single handedly undermined the American democratic experiment. To be clear, Trump as a person and as a symbol has been responsible for the proliferation of dangerous and disgusting attitudes and behaviors in the U.S. However, we have been heading here for decades. To alter where we are heading, we need to confront certain realties that media narratives distract attention from on a ritual basis.

        The first reality is that we have to focus our energies on helping citizens discern fact from fiction. Trump’s behavior is unequivocally reckless, but his rhetoric would have been unsuccessful sans a significant population whose material decline, after 50 years of neoliberal policies, became susceptible to the fake news that permeates the internet. Indeed, their behavior illuminates a rarely discussed aspect of so-called fake news: it is particularly dangerous when it leads people to believe they must take aggressive actions they deem are morally justified. For example, the people at the Capitol would be heroes if there was actually well-sourced, demonstrable factual evidence that 2020 election was stolen. So too would the individual who shot up the restaurant in Pizzagate, to expose a pedophilia ring. In both cases, individuals showed concern for children and democracy, but reacted to false or incomplete information. That is to say, someone is not necessarily a bad person for engaging with fake news, but it can lead them to engage in horrific behavior. We saw this from left leaning voters as well. When it came to Russiagate, the Democrats repeatedly red-baited with the baseless and disproven claims that the Russians aided Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, colluded with Trump’s 2016 campaign, shut down a Vermont power plant, put a bounty on U.S. soldiers, hacked the Democratic Party’s emails in 2016, and released Hunter Biden’s computer. People who engage with fake news are not bad people, but too often lack the skills to evaluate and analyze content critically.

      • What Sex Workers Want Kamala Harris to Know

        “On the issue of finding a safe place for sex workers, I’m a huge advocate. I always have been,” Vice President–elect Kamala Harris said in a February 2019 interview with The Root. But if you ask sex workers, they’ll give you a different story.

      • Facebook’s ‘stop the steal’ ban misses 90 groups promoting election misinformation: analysis

        Ninety groups on Facebook promoting debunked claims about election fraud remained on the platform as of Wednesday, after the social media giant said it would remove content containing the phrase “stop the steal,” according to an analysis released Thursday by nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz.

      • Atop the Powerful Budget Committee at Last, Bernie Sanders Wants to Go Big

        Republicans have long feared the prospect of Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, taking the helm of the powerful committee given his embrace of bigger government and more federal spending with borrowed money. With Democrats reclaiming the Senate, that fear is about to become a reality. Mr. Sanders, the most progressive member of the chamber, will have a central role in shaping and steering the Democrats’ tax and spending plans through a Congress that they control with the slimmest of margins.

      • Illegal Quran Statue in Swedish City Defaced in ‘Artistic Performance’

        The City of Malmö said they had no previous knowledge of the deployment, are unaware of the authors’ identity, and remain undecided about its future.

      • On US Capitol Security — By Someone Who Manages Arena-Rock-Concert Security

        When there are enough outliers in a crowd, it throws the normal dynamics of crowd control off; everyone in my business knows this. Citizens tend to hold each other to certain standards ­ which is why my 40,000-person town does not have 40,000 police officers, and why the 8.3 million people of New York City aren’t policed by 8.3 million police officers.

      • The Capitol Police were so unprepared this week that an event planner like me could tell

        Many members of the mob who marched on the Capitol clearly telegraphed their intentions in advance. Some, terrifyingly, had even professed they were ready to die for the cause. Importantly, some professed this before they arrived. And yet, the Capitol Police appeared to plan for a mostly courteous crowd (and local law enforcement continue to say they had no idea what was openly being planned).

        The failure of those in charge to realize this crowd would be destructive was astounding.

        Although the staffing at the Capitol appeared to be disastrously light regardless of the crowd size — Trans-Siberian-Orchestra-concert light — from my perspective as an event planner, the issue at hand that should have driven more of the security protocols was less the size of the crowd and more the very specific brand of “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude that some of the attendees embraced. It’s a scary trait in a person that gets exponentially scarier when a large proportion of a crowd is made up of those outliers and others are willing to follow their lead.

      • Oppose Certification of the ES&S ExpressVote XL Voting Machine

        My name is Howie Hawkins. I have been on statewide New York ballot seven times as a candidate for the Green Party: for Comptroller in 1998 and 2002; for US Senate in 2006; for Governor in 2010, 2014, and 2018; and for President in 2020.

        New York now uses the gold standard for election integrity: voter-marked, machine-scanned paper ballots that can be readily audited and recounted in public view to ensure an accurate count of the vote.

        I urge Board of Elections not to lower New York’s standards of election integrity by certifying the ES&S ExpressVote XL Voting Machine.

        At at time when so many Americans do not believe the results of the presidential election in part because of distrust of electronic voting machines, it is particularly important that New York state not lose the confidence of the voters in election results. That could happen by switching to touch-screen ballot-marking devices that security experts warn, and election experience has shown, are prone to mistakes and malicious hacking.

        I have many additional specific concerns with the ExpressVote XL machines, but I will focus on three here:

        1. The printout of the voted ballot ExpressVote XL machine gives a barcode for the votes that the machine reads but the voter can’t read and verify. Security experts warn that this system creates opportunities for mistakes or deliberate manipulation to alter election outcomes. The ExpressVote XL machines miscounted tens of thousands of votes elections in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in 2019.

        2. Touchscreen voting causes long lines because only one person can mark their ballot at a time per machine as opposed to many people voting on hand-marked ballots at the same time. Long lines make voters feel pressured to hurry up and not check to see if their vote was properly recorded on the paper ballot under the glass by the machine.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Jack Dorsey Explains The Difficult Decision To Ban Donald Trump; Reiterates Support For Turning Twitter Into A Decentralized Protocol

        Last Friday, Twitter made the decision to permanently ban Donald Trump from its platform, which I wrote about at the time, explaining that it’s not an easy decision, but neither is it an unreasonable one. On Wednesday, Jack Dorsey put out an interesting Twitter thread in which he discusses some of the difficulty in making such a decision. This is good to see. So much of the content moderation debate often is told in black and white terms, in which many people act as if one answer is “obvious” and any other thing is crazy. And part of the reason for that is many of these decisions are made behind close doors, and no one outside gets to see the debates, or how much the people within the company explore the trade-offs and nuances inherent in one of these decisions.

      • Dominion Voting Systems Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Former Trump Lawyer, Sidney Powell

        We write a lot about defamation suits here at Techdirt. Most of what we cover are baseless lawsuits — lawsuits featuring powerful people “punching down” in hopes of silencing critics.

      • Parler’s CEO Promises That When It Comes Back… It’ll Moderate Content… With An Algorithm

        Parler, Parler, Parler, Parler. Back in June of last year when Parler was getting lots of attention for being the new kid on the social media scene with a weird (and legally nonsensical) claim that it would only moderate “based on the 1st Amendment and the FCC” we noted just how absolutely naive this was, and how the company would have to moderate and would also have to face the same kinds of impossible content moderation choices that every other website eventually faces. In fact, we noted that the company (in part due to its influx of users) was seemingly speedrunning the content moderation learning curve.

      • Section 230 Year-in-Review for 2020

        Section 230 had such a drama-filled year that I decided to do a separate roundup, in addition to my annual Internet Law wrapup coming soon. (I know 2020 feels like it was a decade ago…) Trigger warning: this post is a shitshow. My list of Top 10 Section 230 developments of 2020: [...]

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • 20 years a blogger

        It’s been twenty years, to the day, since I published my first blog-post.

        I’m a blogger.

        Blogging – publicly breaking down the things that seem significant, then synthesizing them in longer pieces – is the defining activity of my days.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Opinion | How We Came to Build A Progressive Ground Game

        After Bernie’s campaign ended, we were determined to stay in the fight. We built our own structure which was key in the freedom and guidance in making our actions effective.

      • “No One Took Us Seriously”: Black Cops Warned About Racist Capitol Police Officers for Years

        When Kim Dine took over as the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in 2012, he knew he had a serious problem.

        Since 2001, hundreds of Black officers had sued the department for racial discrimination. They alleged that white officers called Black colleagues slurs like the N-word and that one officer found a hangman’s noose on his locker. White officers were called “huk lovers” or “FOGs” — short for “friends of gangsters” — if they were friendly with their Black colleagues. Black officers faced “unprovoked traffic stops” from fellow Capitol Police officers. One Black officer claimed he heard a colleague say, “Obama monkey, go back to Africa.”

      • So-called “Consent Searches” Harm Our Digital Rights

        Police use this ploy, thousands of times every year, to evade the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that police obtain a warrant, based on a judge’s independent finding of probable cause of crime, before searching someone’s phone. These misleadingly named “consent searches” invade our digital privacy, disparately burden people of color, undermine judicial supervision of police searches, and rest on a legal fiction.

        Legislatures and courts must act. In highly coercive settings, like traffic stops, police must be banned from conducting “consent searches” of our phones and similar devices.

        In less-coercive settings, such “consent searches” must be strictly limited. Police must have reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot. They must collect and publish statistics about consent searches, to deter and detect racial profiling. The scope of consent must be narrowly construed. And police must tell people they can refuse.

      • PASP Decrees: first battle lost against the massive registration of political activists

        On 4th January 2020, the Conseil d’Etat (the French highest administrative authority) rejected the appeals urgently lodged by several associations (to which we had contributed) against the three decrees PASP, GIPASP and EASP (more explanations can be found here). Therefore the massive registration of political activists, their entourage, their political opinions as well as their health data will not be suspended. Indeed, since the files are being extended by a regulatory text, only the Conseil d’Etat had the power to stop the government’s security ambitions – which it has just refused to do, at least for now. This refusal reveals the failure of the system which claims to supervise police files: the only counter-power placed against the ambitions of the police is a Conseil d’Etat which, on security issues, is regularly lacking independence vis-a-vis the government and showing permissiveness in the application of the law (as in this decision, with a legal demonstration as brief as confusing).

      • Detained, interrogated, and driven home: Marina Chaika shares her official statement to investigators detailing her recent abduction

        Marina Chaika, the ex-wife of Russian businessman Artyom Chaika (the son of Russia’s former attorney general) has confirmed to Meduza that she was in fact abducted, detained, and interrogated earlier this week. In addition, Chaika has shared a copy of the official statement she submitted to state investigators with Meduza’s correspondent. Here’s what Marina Chaika said in her formal account of the kidnapping.

      • Christian convert killed in Mayuge district

        Yusuf Kintu, a 41-year-old former Imam of Macca Mosque in Dolwe Island, Mayuge district was attacked and killed by a Muslims mob a few days after he renounced Islam to follow Christ.

        International Christian Concern (ICC), a persecution watchdog located in Washington, DC, whose concern is the human rights of Christians and religious minorities, released a report yesterday confirming Kintu’s death.

        The organisation said the father of four (4) succumbed to his injuries on December 7, 2020 after he was seriously beaten and left unconscious by a local Muslim community in the area that was upset in him for leaving Islam and becoming a Christian.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • House Lawmakers Question Telecom Giants Over Broadband Price Gouging During A Pandemic

        House lawmakers say that telecom giants are exploiting a national health and economic crisis to make an extra buck.

      • Ericsson chief asks his own country to lift Huawei ban

        It may take some time to digest this, but the the head of Sweden’s telecommunications equipment vendor, Ericsson, is lobbying the government to lift ban on his main competitor, China’s Huawei.

      • T-Mobile to Expand and Advance the Nation’s Largest 5G Network with New 5-Year Agreements

        Building on two decades of partnership, the Un-carrier will work with Ericsson and Nokia to expand its nationwide 5G network for better 5G coverage and future game-changing experiences, and advanced network capabilities like 5G carrier aggregation. T-Mobile launched the world’s first nationwide standalone 5G network last summer, and recently pulled off the world’s first 5G standalone (SA) data session with New Radio Carrier Aggregation (NR CA). T-Mobile is the first and only U.S. provider to combine the power of Extended Range and Ultra Capacity 5G, boosting speed and performance. T-Mobile also plans to add advanced technical capabilities like voice over 5G (VoNR), network slicing, and multi-user massive MIMO to its 5G network.

    • Monopolies

      • Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit alleging e-book price fixing

        Amazon is accused of fixing the price of e-books sold on the e-commerce site through anticompetitive agreements with the nation’s top five publishers, according to a complaint filed Thursday.

        The class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York alleges that Amazon and the publishers entered into price fixing agreements in 2015, allowing the publishers to increase their e-book prices by up to 30 percent while protecting Amazon from price competition from other e-book retailers.

        The lawsuit also alleges Amazon violated antitrust and consumer-protection laws through the agreements with the publishers known as the “Big Five,” made up of Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin-Random House and Simon & Schuster.

      • Patents

        • Superhero status?: the European Commission and its IP Action Plan
          [Ed: "Readers of our blog will know that the Unitary Patent System has had a chequered and controversial past." Because it's illegal? And unconstitutional? And promoted using lies, bribes, lobbying... ]

          As part of the Commission’s drive to reducing the complexity of the existing IP framework, the Action Plan proposes a rapid roll out of the Unitary Patent system in 2021 to create a one-stop-shop for patent protection and enforcement across the EU. Readers of our blog will know that the Unitary Patent System has had a chequered and controversial past. As a casualty of Brexit, the UK government announced that it will be withdrawing from the Unified Patent project (see Lens post here). We are still waiting to see if Germany’s recent re ratification will survive further constitutional challenges (see Lens post here).

        • What the UK-EU trade deal means for intellectual property rights [Ed: “There is no mention of the UK’s continued participation in the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”)” is misleading as there’s no UPC and there never will be. They pay to spread this.]

          The section of the trade deal devoted to patents is very short indeed, reflecting the fact it is not an area of harmonised law. There is no mention of the UK’s continued participation in the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) even though Prime Minister Theresa May ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court in April 2018. Indeed, in February 2020, a government spokesperson confirmed that the UK would no longer be participating in the near EU-wide patent scheme (Spain, Poland and Croatia are also not part of it). This is presumably because the European Court of Justice has a role in that system which is politically unacceptable to the current UK government. It means that Unitary Patent proprietors will not benefit from UK coverage within the new system when it launches (potentially at the end of 2021).

        • This week in IP: Samsung top PTAB petitioner, UPC faces more delay, Michael Jordan wins in China [Ed: "UPC faces more delay" is a lie; UPC will never materialise, but UPC boosters carry on spinning and lying]

          The fabled unitary patent and concurrent Unified Patent Court look set to be delayed again, at least in the short term, following a request from Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court to pause the final ratification step.

          On Wednesday, January 13, the FCC asked Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier to refrain from signing the country’s ratification into law while it considers two new constitutional complaints challenging ratification that were filed with the court in December.

          The court will now decide whether to throw out the complaints as inadmissible or unfounded in the short term, or consider one or both of the challenges. If the FCC opts for the latter option it could severely delay the UPC coming to fruition, or even put an end to the plans.

          Sources have told Managing IP that the president’s agreement to delay signing the bill is not an indication of the case’s strength, but is a procedural matter. The FCC has not commented on the contents of the complaints.

          Ingve Stjerna, the German attorney who filed the first constitutional complaint against the UPC in 2017 – and which the FCC partially allowed in 2020, has confirmed he submitted one of the latest cases.

          The identity of the second complainant is unknown, but one organisation that has previously indicated it would challenge the UPC is the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. In March last year, the FCC declared that the act approving the UPC Agreement had not been signed off by a required two-thirds majority in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. At the end of November last year, the Bundestag approved the act with the necessary qualified majority.

        • “UK patent boutiques must be bold about closer links with Europe”[Ed: UPC boosters in ‘journalist’ clothing — that is what JUVE has become]

          Brexit has finally begun. On 31 December, the UK officially bid farewell to 47 years of membership of one of the world’s biggest trade blocs. Much UK and European patent jurisprudence, such as the European Patent Convention, operates outside the EU’s realm. The UK remains fully involved in the European Patent Office. Nevertheless, for Europe’s IP community, the loss of the UK as a member state is a blow.

          In some respects, consequences of Brexit such as the UK government’s withdrawal from the Unified Patent Court system are already having a tangible affect. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has established two important but separated litigations hubs in Europe. One is the UK, the other the continental system. The latter includes a potential UPC.

          At some patent litigation firms – and especially UK patent boutiques – their existing European links will determine future success. However, London’s patent courts and reputation of its judges remain secure. This more than anything should be enough to fix the capital as a future patent litigation hotspot.

      • Copyrights

        • Member of SPARKS Scene Piracy Group Pleads Guilty

          One of the key members of Scene piracy group SPARKS has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The US Government signed a plea deal with Jonatan Correa, who admitted being part of the notorious Scene group. While the offense is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison, both parties agreed to a guideline of 12 to 18 months.

        • The Pirate Bay is Pretty Broken Right Now But Can Be Coaxed Back to Life

          The Pirate Bay retained its position as the world’s most popular torrent site at the start of 2021 but all is not well. While the site is up and accessible for most, the index is suffering significant technical problems that due to their confusing nature, have many users scratching their heads. Nevertheless, there are still options to coax it back to life.

        • Scholars fume as PhD theses sold as e-books on Amazon

          Scholars have condemned “unlawful” attempts to sell their PhD theses without permission on Amazon’s Kindle service.

          The outcry follows the discovery by academics who took their doctoral studies at Durham University that their PhD dissertations had been scraped from the university’s online thesis repository, where they are freely available, and were being sold as individual titles for as much as £9.99.

          Around 2,000 PhD theses – many of which appeared under the authorship of ‘Durham Philosophy’ – had been made available as Kindle e-books, according to Sarah Hughes, vice-chancellor’s research fellow in human geography at Northumbria University.

        • Royalty distribution in Nigeria: Must collective management organisations distribute royalties only to members whose works were used? [Ed: The copyright cartel goes after poorer countries as well]

          A distinction must be made between prohibiting “general distribution” as contrary to a CMO’s memorandum and articles of association and, one prohibiting “general distribution” as illegal by virtue of Regulation 15 of the CMO Regulations. Regrettably, the learned trial judge did not pronounce on how Regulation 15 should be applied but relied on an interpretation of the company’s (i.e. COSON) memorandum and articles of association. It is thus safe to assume that the court’s decision was with respect to the plaintiffs’ case rather than an interpretation of Regulation 15 specifically. In this Kat’s opinion, a CMO cannot distribute royalties to reflect usage with precision. It can only ensure that royalty distribution reflects use “as nearly as possible” [per Regulation 15(1) of the CMO Regulations]. This is because deductions may be made from royalties and applied to other purposes outside direct distribution to members. That some deductions are applied to other purposes other than distribution to members, whose works were used in a given year, may be gleaned from Regulation 10 of the CMO Regulations. Regulation 10 permits CMOs to “withhold from the amount collected or received by it such deductions necessary to cover any expenditure incurred in the fulfillment of its functions” subject to a maximum limit of “30% of the total royalties and fees collected during the year in which the deductions are made”.

          Perhaps, the problem with “general distribution” was that it was still referred to as “royalties” distributed directly to members alongside “specific distribution”. [Apart from “general distribution”, COSON makes “special distribution” to members whose works were used in a given year.] But, that should not mean that a CMO cannot apply certain portions of royalties received towards the welfare of its members.

          It would have been helpful if the court explicitly interpreted Regulation 15 of the CMO Regulations vis-à-vis the rationale for the practice referred to as “general distribution”. That opportunity having been missed, it is hoped that in the meantime, the Nigerian Copyright Commission as the regulatory agency for the copyright sector can issue some directives to clarify things. CMOs should be able to, with its members’ approval, deduct a percentage of royalties received to cater for the welfare of its members as well as to other socio-cultural functions.

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