02.27.21

Links 27/2/2021: IPFS 0.8, OnionShare 2.3.1, and New Stuff in KDE

Posted in News Roundup at 3:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Build your own technology on Linux

      In 2021, there are more reasons why people love Linux than ever before. In this series, I’ll share 21 different reasons to use Linux. Linux empowers its users to build their own tools.

      There’s a persistent myth that tech companies must “protect” their customers from the many features of their technology. Sometimes, companies put restrictions on their users for fear of unexpected breakage, and other times they expect users to pay extra to unlock features. I love an operating system that protects me from stupid mistakes, but I want to know without a doubt that there’s a manual override switch somewhere. I want to be able to control my own experience on my own computer. Whether I’m using Linux for work or my hobbies, that’s precisely what it does for me. It puts me in charge of the technology I’ve chosen to use.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • The Latest Release Of 0 A.D. Looks Amazing!

        0 A.D. is a real-time strategy game that is free and open source. It has been around for a number of years and is one of the best examples of how good an open source game can be. A couple of days ago, they had a huge release. Some of the most notable changes are the incredible graphics. NOTE: This is my second time uploading this video. The first time I uploaded the video, I did not realize that Kdenlive had rendered it in 720p. Bad Kdenlive, bad!

      • Your First Step To Learn Vim

        You’ve probably noticed that I’m really awful with vim and don’t do anything in an efficient way. Part of that is due to me never having finished vim tutor so what better way to do that than do it on stream.

      • How To Use VIM Editor

        This post will show you how to use VIM! Vim is a text editor that edits all kinds of text files. For instance, the text file may be a shell script with a .sh extension or it can be a text file with a .txt extension.

    • Kernel Space

      • Google Funds Linux Kernel Developers to Focus Exclusively on Security

        The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) and the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) recently published an open source contributor survey report that identified a need for additional work on security in open source software, which includes the massively pervasive Linux operating system.

        Linux is fueled by more than 20,000 contributors and as of August 2020, one million commits. While there are thousands of Linux kernel developers, all of whom take security into consideration as the due course of their work, this contribution from Google to underwrite two full-time Linux security maintainers signals the importance of security in the ongoing sustainability of open source software.

      • Security News in Review: Google Funding Security Development for Linux Kernel

        We’re back after a skipped Security News in Review last week. In this week’s edition of our roundup of the biggest cybersecurity news stories, we have reporting on ransomware attacks shutting down Underwriters Laboratories and a payment processor widely used by state and municipal governments, as well as a report on Google partnering with the Linux Foundation to hire two people whose sole job will be to improve the security of the Linux kernel.

        Read on for the latest Security News in Review, and let us know if we missed anything.

      • Google to Underwrite Contributors to Linux Security

        Google and the Linux Foundation announced this week they will underwrite two full-time maintainers for Linux kernel security development.

        Gustavo Silva is currently working full time on eliminating several classes of buffer overflows by transforming all instances of zero-length and one-element arrays into flexible-array members, which is the preferred and least error-prone mechanism to declare such variable-length types. He is also actively focusing on fixing bugs before they hit the mainline, while also proactively developing defense mechanisms that cut off whole classes of vulnerabilities. Silva sent his first kernel patch in 2010 and is an active member of the Kernel Self Protection Project (KSPP).

        Nathan Chancellor will be focused on triaging and fixing all bugs found with Clang/LLVM compilers while working on establishing continuous integration (CI) systems to support this work. He has been working on the Linux kernel for four and a half years.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Ben Widawsky: Framebuffer Modifiers Part 1

          In a now pretty well established tradition on my part, I am posting on things I no longer work on!

          I gave a talk on modifiers at XDC 2017 and Linux Plumbers 2017 audio only. It was always my goal to have a blog post accompany the work. Relatively shortly after the talks, I ended up leaving graphics and so it dropped on the priority list.

          I’m splitting this up into two posts. This post will go over the problem, and solutions. The next post will go over the implementation details.

        • Broadcom VK Accelerator Driver, More Intel ACRN Code Arrives For Linux 5.12 – Phoronix

          Greg Kroah-Hartman this week sent in “the large set of char/misc/whatever driver subsystem updates”, which as usual — given it’s a catch-all area of kernel drivers not fitting well into other subsystems — there is an interesting mix of additions.

          Linux 5.12 still isn’t moving forward with any “accelerator” subsystem for the likes of the Habana Labs driver and other accelerators / offload cards, even with Linux 5.12 bringing the Broadcom VK accelerator driver, so for now the char/misc area of the kernel continues to expand.

        • Mesa Flips On OpenGL Threading For Valheim To Deliver Better Performance – Phoronix

          For those enjoying the Valheim, the new survival/sandbox game that has been an incredible success and sold more than four millions of copies so far while being a low-budget indie game, Mesa should be providing better performance when using its OpenGL renderer.

          Valheim is powered by the Unity game engine and is natively supported on Linux. Initially the focus was on the OpenGL rendering support while the game is now running out Vulkan support. But for those sticking to OpenGL usage, Mesa Git is performing better thanks to enabling OpenGL threading.

    • Applications

      • Really Simple Syndication – SolutionsWatch

        Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, is a great way to get the latest headlines, articles, podcasts and other content directly from the myriad of smaller websites across the web instead of going through filtered big-tech controlled services.

        There are many free software RSS feed readers you can use to keep track of dozens of independent websites using the RSS feeds. QuiteRSS, Liferea and the built-in RSS feed reader in the Thunderbird e-mail client are good choices. Akregator, made for the KDE Plasma desktop, may also be a good choice depending on what version your distribution ships with (it krashed all the time a year ago).

        Building up a nice collection of relevant RSS feeds in your favorite RSS feed reader will take some time. You may find that it is worth it if you want to be able to see what’s new at all the sites you occasionally visit, including the smaller and more obscure ones.

      • What is the GNOME Editor in Linux?

        If you are operating a Linux operating system through the GNOME editor, you will see a graphical text editor that you can use easily and well. It is a basic text editor that has a couple of advanced features for the fun of editing. When you start gedit with multiple files, it will load the files into individual buffers and display each of them as a tabbed window inside the editor’s main window. The left frame inside the gedit editor will show the documents that you have been editing.

      • IPFS 0.8 Is Released

        The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a system for storing and transfering verifiable, content-addressed data in a peer-to-peer network. You can imagine a combination of a large git tree and huge BitTorrent swarm to get an idea of how it works. That’s not what it is, but is very roughly how it works.

        One difference between git and IPFS is that the data stored on IPFS is not necessarily persistent. It is possible to make data persist on your own IPFS node by “pinning” it. go-ipfs, the GO implementation of the file system server part of IPFS, supports remote pinning as of version 0.8.0. You can now ask remote services to pin your data for you using a authenticated API but you can’t expect random strangers to do that for no reason. There is simply no incentive to pin some random strangers data since IPFS does not have any crypto-currency, or any other payment system, built into it. The new remote pinning feature is therefore mostly useful for remote IPFS servers under your control or the control of someone you’ve paid or made some deal with.

      • OnionShare 2.3.1 Is Released

        OnionShare is a simple and user-friendly graphical program that lets you share files, start a secure chat server or host static websites on the secure and traffic-analysis resistant Tor network. The latest version adds support for tabs, secure chatrooms and a better command-line interface.

        [...]

        OnionShare 2.3 adds support for tabs, like web browsers have, so you can leave a chat server tab open and choose files to share or configure a “website” or two in other tabs. The “websites” OnionShare supports are limited to plain files on the local file system, you can not use it to setup a darknet market or a wiki or other more advanced websites with dynamic content.

      • Best Free and Open Source Software – February 2021 Updates

        The table above shows articles updated in February 2021.

        For our entire collection, check out the categories below. This is the largest compilation of recommended software. The collection includes hundreds of articles, with comprehensive sections on internet, graphics, games, programming, science, office, utilities, and more. Almost all of the software is free and open source.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • 【VimTutor】Vim Speedrun Any % WR Glitchless – YouTube

        You’ve probably noticed that I’m really awful with vim and don’t do anything in an efficient way. Part of that is due to me never having finished vim tutor so what better way to do that than do it on stream.

      • Copy File Contents Into Clipboard Without Displaying Them – OSTechNix

        This guide explains what is Clipboard, and how to copy file contents into Clipboard without displaying the contents of the file using any text viewer applications in Linux.

        What is Clipboard?

        You will definitely cut or copy and paste texts on your system multiple times a day. You may not have remembered how many times you copied something or haven’t ever thought about where the copied texts are actually stored. But, you should have copied/cut texts so many times. For those wondering, there is temporary place called “Clipboard” in an operating system. Clipboard is the place where the copied/cut data are kept temporarily.

        Clipboard is a buffer used for short-term data storage. It is mainly used to transfer data within and between applications, via cut, copy and paste operations. Clipboard is usually temporary and unnamed place that resides in your Computer’s RAM.

        The clipboards are called “Selections” and there are three types of clipboards available in X11 window system in Linux.

      • How to install TeamViewer in Linux

        TeamViewer is a cross-platform application that enables an user to control remote computers over the internet or network.

        It is used for remote access, remote control, remote support, web conferencing, desktop sharing and file transfer between computers.

        TeamViewer is a proprietary computer application, which is free for Private and Non-Commercial use.

        It supports multiple Linux distributions and this article shows how to install TeamViewer on Ubuntu, Fedora, and Red Hat systems.

      • Thunderbolt bridge connection in Fedora 33

        My home network is extremely slow, because I have CAT5e cables everywhere. I was wondering if I can use Thunderbolt ports which I have both on the new Mac M1 and Intel NUC with Fedora. So without my breath, since some Thunderbolt docks are known to brick the new Macs, I connected the two guys. And it worked automatically!

      • Petter Reinholdtsen: Updated Valutakrambod, now also with information from NBX

        I have neglected the Valutakrambod library for a while, but decided this weekend to give it a face lift. I fixed a few minor glitches in several of the service drivers, where the API had changed since I last looked at the code. I also added support for fetching the order book from the newcomer Norwegian Bitcoin Exchange.

        I alsod decided to migrate the project from github to gitlab in the process. If you want a python library for talking to various currency exchanges, check out code for valutakrambod.

      • Simos Xenitellis: How to run a Windows virtual machine on LXD on Linux

        LXD is a hypervisor to run both system containers (a la LXC) and virtual machines (a la QEMU) on Linux distributions. System containers are lightweight because they are based solely on the Linux kernel for their virtualization features, and support Linux guests only. However, virtual machines can run other operating systems. In this post, we see how to run Windows in a LXD virtual machine.

        The benefit with running Windows through LXD is that you are using the familiar LXD workflow and takes away some of the the complexity from the other ways of running a VM (like virt-manager).

        The content of this tutorial came from https://discuss.linuxcontainers.org/t/running-virtual-machines-with-lxd-4-0/7519 Look towards the end of the thread where Stéphane Graber describes how to simplify the process compared to the instructions at the top of that thread.

        The prerequisite is that you have LXD configured and running.

      • Debian: uninstall package [Guide]

        From Apt-get to Synaptic Package Manager, there are many ways to uninstall packages in Debian Linux. In this guide, we’ll show you all the ways you can uninstall packages from your Debian Linux system.

      • How to Install Wine 6.3 in Ubuntu 18.04 / 20.04 / 20.10 | UbuntuHandbook

        The Wine team announced the new development release Wine 6.3 with new features and various bug-fixes.

      • Nginx: 413 – Request Entity Too Large Error and Solution – nixCraft

        I‘m running nginx as a frond end to php based Apache+mod_fastcgi server. My app lets user upload images upto 2MB in size. When users trying to upload 1.5MB+ size image file using nginx reverse proxy, they are getting the following error on screen:

        Nginx 413 Request Entity Too Large

        How do I fix this problem and allow image upload upto 2MB in size using nginx web-server working in reverse proxy or stand-alone mode on Unix like operating systems?

      • How to check if file does not exist in Bash – nixCraft

        How can I check if a file does not exist in a Bash script?

        We can quickly tell if a standard file does not exist in Bash using the test command or [ builtin. This page explains how to find a regular file under the Linux or Unix-like system using Bash.

      • How to Verify SHA256 Checksum of File in Linux using sha256sum

        The last week I intend to install Red Hat on my System. I was able to download and create a bootable device using the dd command without any hassle.

        If you know, Red Hat has options to Test media & Install Red Hat Enterprises, so I have selected those options; while it’s verifying media, it shows the error of The file header checksum does not match computed checksum.

      • What is Automation and Configuration Management with CHEF – Part 1

        Configuration Management is the key focus point of DevOps practice. In the Software development cycle, all the servers should be software-configured and maintained well in such a way that they should not make any break in the development cycle. Bad configuration Management can make system outages, leaks, and data breaches. Using Configuration Management tools is about facilitating accuracy, efficiency, and speed in the DevOps-driven environment.

        There are two models of configuration Management tools – PUSH-based & PULL-based. In the PUSH-based, the Master server pushes the configuration code to the servers wherein PULL-based individual servers contact the Master for getting configuration code. PUPPET and CHEF are widely used PULL-based models, ANSIBLE is a popular PUSH-based model. In this article, we will see about CHEF.

      • How to Install XWiki on Ubuntu 20.04

        XWiki is a free and open-source Wiki Software platform written in Java. It runs on servlet containers like Tomcat and uses a database such as MySQL to store information.

      • How To Install Zoom on Manjaro 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Zoom on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. It is commonly used in education sectors, in workplaces for communication with clients and colleagues, teleconferencing, and even for social relations.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of Zoom on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

      • Starting LaTeX on Ubuntu with the User Friendly Gummi

        Academics people and alike tend to love documents written with LaTeX — one of the best text creation systems you can run on computer. The benefit is, the resulting document is truly beautiful. To start making LaTeX document on Ubuntu, you can start with the user friendly application, Gummi, which features preview. This short tutorial includes examples for basic texting and several math formulas. Now let’s learn!

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 6.3 Is Released

        The latest Wine development release 6.3 has 24 game-specific bug-fixes. Those include a partial imagehlp.BindImageEx implementation for py2exe, a fix for the Monopoly Deluxe installer, a fix that allows the Logos Bible Software versions 4 through 9 to download the files it needs, a crash fix for Seagate Crystal Enterprise 8.0, a fix for all the Macromedia Director Player 4.x based games and a fix for Civilization IV BTS which wouldn’t let you return to full-screen if you alt-tabbed away from it since a regression was introduced with Wine 4.10.

        Wine 6.3 has one rather important fix for the Steam for Windows. It will no longer enter a endless restarting cycle after launching any game

        There’s also a few build-specific fixes. It is now possible to build Wine with clang-10.0 as a crosscompiler without encountering a horrible build failure.

        There’s also some general changes. The WineGStreamer library has been turned into a portable executable, WinRT support as been added to the Wine Interface Definition Language (WIDL) and there is better debugger support for the NT syscall interface.

      • Windows compatibility layer Wine 6.3 is out now

        Step right up and grab a bottle: a fresh biweekly development release is out for the Windows compatibility layer Wine with Wine 6.3 bringing together more of the latest and greatest into a suitable release for you to try.

        For newer readers and Linux users here’s a refresher – Wine is a compatibility layer built for operating systems like Linux, macOS and BSD. The idea is to allow other platforms to run games and applications only built and supported for Windows. It’s also part of what makes up Steam Play Proton. Once a year or so, all the development is bundled into a stable release.

      • Install Wine 6.3 in Ubuntu 20.04 / Linux Mint & Fedora 33

        The wine team released its new development version 6.3

        As you know Wine application is used to run windows applications on Non-Windows Operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, and macOS.

        This tutorial will be helpful for beginners to install wine 6.3 in Ubuntu 20.10, Ubuntu 20.04, Fedora 33, and Linux Mint 20.1.

      • Wine-Staging 6.3 Should Fix Some Half-Decade Old Bugs For Some Installers

        Two weeks ago Wine-Staging 6.2 came in at 669 patches while now with the Wine-Staging 6.3 point release has climbed to just under 700 patches atop the upstream Wine code-base.

        Wine-Staging 6.3 clocks in at 694 patches even with a number of patches having been upstreamed, primarily around the WIDL WinRT code.

        There are new patches with Wine-Staging 6.3 in trying to address some permission issues. In particular, Bug 39263 around Discord and other programs using the Squirrel installer needing to be run as an un-elevated process. That bug has been open since 2015 while also addressed by Wine-Staging 6.3 is Bug 40613 that has been open since 2016. That second bug is over various applications needing to be run unprivileged / as a normal user rather than administrator. That bug report pertains to WhatsApp, OneDive, Smartflix, and other Squirrel installer based software.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Welcome KGeoTag!

          Just a quick shout-out to Tobias who just released version 1.0.0 of KGeoTag. As you can probably guess from the version number, KGeoTag is quite a young project – though it already has some nice features.

          You can use KGeoTag to assign image files to GPS locations. This can help you with remembering the exact location where a photo was taken, or with discovering images that were taken at the same place. Of course, this is most useful when used together with another program such as KPhotoAlbum, that can adequately display this information and lets you search by GPS coordinates

        • This week in KDE: a little bit of everything

          Fixing up Plasma 5.21 continues, and we also did a lot of UI polishing this week…

          A Task manager can now be configured to not cause its hidden panel to become visible when one of its apps or tasks receives a “needs attention” status (Michael Moon, Plasma 5.22)

          You can now apply global themes, color schemes, cursor themes, plasma themes, and wallpapers from the command-line, using some fancy new CLI tools with names like plasma-apply-colorscheme (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, Plasma 5.22)

          KDE apps now support the HEIF and HEIC image formats (Daniel Novomeský, Frameworks 5.80)

        • KDE Rolling Out New CLI Tools, Many Crash Fixes

          KDE developers have been wrapping up February with a number of new command line tools being worked on for applying various cosmetic changes to the desktop. There have also been many crash fixes addressed in recent days.

          KDE developer Nate Graham is out with his weekly post summarizing all of the development happenings for the past week. Among the highlights for these open-source desktop environment changes over the past week include…

        • Documentation Improvements in KDE

          Doxyqml, our documentation bridge between QML and doxygen, got various improvements, thanks to Olaf Mandel and Lasse Lopperi. Now QML enums are supported and the lexer/parser got various bug fixes.

          Speaking of QML documentation, the Kirigami API documentation was improved and now uses more correctly @inherit tags and @property tags. There is still room for improvements, but the current state is already a lot better. Most Components are now showing all their properties correctly and the type of the property is correct. (kirigami!239)

          Another improvement is that the generated Kirigami documentation now shows more accurate names: e.g. Kirigami.Page instead of org::kde::kirigami::Page. This makes it easier to read and navigate the documentation.

          There was also a bit of background work inside KApiDox, Jannet added support for QDoc, allowing to use QDoc as an alternative to Doxygen. This might be a better solution for generating documentation for projects with a lot of QML.

        • MJ Inventory Released

          Today I will finally announce the availability of my new open source application MJ Inventory. Yes … I am still looking for a better name.

          In the previous post I talked a bit about the motivation behind the project. Now comes the release in the tradition of the bazaar. Release early, release often. Its still not completely clear where this project is going but here it is. Let’s see if someone else is finding it useful. Or even if it is working for anyone but me :).

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Mageia 8 has been released

          The Mageia distribution has announced the release of Mageia 8. It comes with the usual array of new packages, including a 5.10.16 kernel, Plasma 5.20.4, GNOME 3.38, Firefox 78, Chromium 88, LibreOffice 7.0.4.2, and more.

        • Mageia 8 Linux distro ready for download

          I’ve never seen a kangaroo in person, but I know they exist because I have seen them on the internet. The same goes for Mageia users. Never in my travels have I encountered someone that regularly uses that Linux-based operating system. True, meeting any fellow desktop Linux user in public is rare in and of itself, but when I have, they typically use something more common, such as Ubuntu or Fedora. I have only witnessed Mageia users on the internet.

          So, yeah, Mageia is hardly the most popular Linux distribution, but it is fairly well-known — by people in the Linux community, at least. For fans of that operating system, I have what should be very exciting news; following a fairly lengthy development period, and several pre-release versions, the stable Mageia 8 is finally ready for download!

        • Mageia 8 Released – Flips On AMDGPU For Older GCN GPUs, Better ARM Support

          Mageia 8 is out today as a significant and long overdue update to this Linux distribution long ago derived from Mandriva/Mandrake lineage.

          Mageia 8 entered alpha nearly one year ago with better ARM support, compressing RPM metadata using Zstd instead of XZ, Python 2 removal work, and more. Mageia 8 Beta then arrived over the summer with more updates. Earlier this month the Mageia 8 release candidate arrived with an interesting change of enabling AMDGPU by default for GCN 1.0 / 1.1 GPUs rather than defaulting to the older Radeon DRM driver. This means those original GCN GPUs now have Vulkan out-of-the-box, AMDGPU DC, and in some cases better performance compared to the Radeon DRM driver.

        • Kali Linux 2021.1 Released: Tweaked DEs and Terminals, New Tools, Silicon Macs

          Offensive Security has released Kali Linux 2021.1, the latest version of its popular open source penetration testing platform. You can download it or upgrade to it. Kali NetHunter, the distro’s mobile pentesting platform, now has an upgraded BusyBox engine and tools updated to the latest version (or, in some cases, completely rewritten). There are two new Kali ARM images: one that can be used with VMs on Apple Silicon Macs (Apple M1) and the other for the Raspberry Pi 400′s wireless card.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Lite 5.4 Will Be Based on Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS, Release Candidate Ready for Testing

          Linux Lite is a user-friendly distro that aims to bring more ex-Windows users to the Linux and Open Source ecosystem. The new release of this Ubuntu derived distribution, Linux Lite 5.4, will be based on Canonical’s recently released Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system.

          But Linux Lite 5.4 will ship with the long-term supported Linux 5.4 LTS kernel instead of the much newer Linux kernel 5.8 from Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS. However, users will be able to install any other kernel they want up to the recently released Linux kernel 5.11 from the software repositories with just two commands.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Set up your own Slack-like chat system on Linux

        Zulip’s 3.0 release back in July saw over 100 people contribute from all over the world. It also brought support for Ubuntu 20.04, so we fired up our server to see just how easy it is to install and if it could restore our faith in chat. We’re pleased to say it’s super easy and we strongly recommend adding it to your server, too.

        [...]

        The two key bits of terminology to grasp are streams and topics. Streams are a broader hierarchy and can be thought of as separate chatrooms.

        Different members of your team can be members of different streams, and streams can be made private so that only certain people can see them. Within a stream every message has its own topic and conversations will appear threaded thusly, rather like email subject lines.

        However, unlike email subject lines you can’t be lazy and have a blank thread. This tiny bit of extra effort is what enables everything to be so nicely organised, so that you can enjoy hassle-free open source messaging whether in real time or asynchronously, perhaps catching up on messages from your colleagues in other time zones.

      • Library management system with global Open Source community

        It is difficult to choose a single benefit in Koha, says Jessica Andersson from Alingsås Library, who is also in the board of Koha’s Sweden Network. Koha is build to be modular and features can easily be controlled by activation or de-sctivation. This is a flexibility, which Jessica Andersson points out to be unique in Koha.

      • Web Browsers

        • Chromium

          • Lyra: A New Very Low-Bitrate Codec for Speech Compression

            Connecting to others online via voice and video calls is something that is increasingly a part of everyday life. The real-time communication frameworks, like WebRTC, that make this possible depend on efficient compression techniques, codecs, to encode (or decode) signals for transmission or storage. A vital part of media applications for decades, codecs allow bandwidth-hungry applications to efficiently transmit data, and have led to an expectation of high-quality communication anywhere at any time.

            [...]

            To solve this problem, we have created Lyra, a high-quality, very low-bitrate speech codec that makes voice communication available even on the slowest networks. To do this, we’ve applied traditional codec techniques while leveraging advances in machine learning (ML) with models trained on thousands of hours of data to create a novel method for compressing and transmitting voice signals.

          • Google’s New Lyra Voice Codec + AV1 Aim For Video Chats Over 56kbps Modems In 2021

            Google’s AI team has announced “Lyra” as a very low bit-rate codec for speech compression designed for use-cases like WebRTC and other video chats… With a bit rate so low that when combined with the likes of the AV1 video codec could potentially allow video chats over 56kbps Internet connections.

            Google engineers formally announced Lyra on Thursday as this new codec to challenge the likes of Opus. Lyra leverages machine learning to make it suitable for delivering extremely low bit-rate speech compression.

            Google’s Lyra announcement noted, “Lyra is currently designed to operate at 3kbps and listening tests show that Lyra outperforms any other codec at that bitrate and is compared favorably to Opus at 8kbps, thus achieving more than a 60% reduction in bandwidth. Lyra can be used wherever the bandwidth conditions are insufficient for higher-bitrates and existing low-bitrate codecs do not provide adequate quality.”

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Accessibility: 2021 Firefox Accessibility Roadmap Update [Ed: Mozilla is not consistent. It speaks of people with disabilities, but was eager to go on with DRM (EME) inside Firefox despite is being an attack on disabled people]

            People with disabilities can experience huge benefits from technology but can also find it frustrating or worse, downright unusable. Mozilla’s Firefox accessibility team is committed to delivering products and services that are not just usable for people with disabilities, but a delight to use.

            The Firefox accessibility (a11y) team will be spending much of 2021 re-building major pieces of our accessibility engine, the part of Firefox that powers screen readers and other assistive technologies.

            While the current Firefox a11y engine has served us well for many years, new directions in browser architectures and operating systems coupled with the increasing complexity of the modern web means that some of Firefox’s venerable a11y engine needs a rebuild.

            Browsers, including Firefox, once simple single process applications, have become complex multi-process systems that have to move lots of data between processes, which can cause performance slowdowns. In order to ensure the best performance and stability and to enable support for a growing, wider variety of accessibility tools in the future (such as Windows Narrator, Speech Recognition and Text Cursor Indicator), Firefox’s accessibility engine needs to be more robust and versatile. And where ATs used to spend significant resources ensuring a great experience across browsers, the dominance of one particular browser means less resources being committed to ensuring the ATs work well with Firefox. This changing landscape means that Firefox too must evolve significantly and that’s what we’re going to be doing in 2021.

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • Open source database migration guide: How to transition

          Open source database migration typically involves more than just a database. It is more accurately described as a database ecosystem transition, which can include multiple independent projects for management, monitoring, tuning, connection pooling, high availability and third-party support. Beyond the database ecosystem, application integration with the database may be impacted as well.

          The appeal of open source databases, particularly for smaller non-mission-critical systems, has led to increased adoption and market popularity.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • GNU Poke 1.0 Is Released

            Poke is a new interactive editor for binary data with a full-fledged procedural, interactive programming language designed to describe data structures and to operate on them. This is the first release after 3 years of work by 19 contributors.

            [...]

            It is supposed to be a binary editor, so there is probably some way to make actual edits using Poke. Perhaps you’re supposed to use the extract, copy and save commands somehow. Perhaps not. The mystery remains unsolved. You can probably solve it if you are a GNU and/or computer scientist.

          • What is GNU/Linux Copypasta?

            I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re refering to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

            Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called Linux, and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.

            There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine’s resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called Linux distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux!

      • Programming/Development

        • Testing 4×4 matrix inversion precision

          It is extremely rare that a hobby software project of mine gets completed, but now it has happened. Behold! Fourbyfour!

          Have you ever had to implement a mathematical algorithm, say, matrix inversion? You want it to be fast and measuring the speed is fairly simple, right. But what about correctness? Or precision? Behavior around inputs that are on the edge? You can hand-pick a few example inputs, put those into your test suite, and verify the result is what you expect. If you do not pick only trivial inputs, this is usually enough to guarantee your algorithm does not have fundamental mistakes. But what about those almost invalid inputs, can you trust your algorithm to not go haywire on them? How close to invalid can your inputs be before things break down? Does your algorithm know when it stops working and tell you?

          Inverting a square matrix requires that the inverse matrix exists to begin with. Matrices that do not mathematically have an inverse matrix are called singular. Can your matrix inversion algorithm tell you when you are trying to invert a matrix that cannot be inverted, or does it just give you a bad result pretending it is ok?

          Working with computers often means working with floating-point numbers. With floating-point, the usual mathematics is not enough, it can actually break down. You calculate something and the result a computer gives you is total nonsense, like 1+2=2 in spirit. In the case of matrix inversion, it’s not enough that the input matrix is not singular mathematically, it needs to be “nice enough” numerically as well. How do you test your matrix inversion algorithm with this in mind?

          These questions I tried to answer with Fourbyfour. The README has the links to the sub-pages discussing how I solved this, so I will not repeat it here. However, as the TL;DR, if there is one thing you should remember, it is this:

        • Getting started with COBOL development on Fedora Linux 33

          Though its popularity has waned, COBOL is still powering business critical operations within many major organizations. As the need to update, upgrade and troubleshoot these applications grows, so may the demand for anyone with COBOL development knowledge.

          Fedora 33 represents an excellent platform for COBOL development.
          This article will detail how to install and configure tools, as well as compile and run a COBOL program.

        • 3 Excellent Free Books to Learn about ClojureScript

          ClojureScript is a compiler for Clojure that targets JavaScript. It emits JavaScript code which is compatible with the advanced compilation mode of the Google Closure optimizing compiler.

          Clojure is a dialect of the Lisp programming language. It’s a well-rounded language. It offers broad library support and runs on multiple operating systems. Clojure is a dynamic functional general purpose programming language that runs on the Java platform, combining the approachability and interactive development of a scripting language with an efficient and robust infrastructure for multi-threaded programming. Clojure features a rich set of immutable, persistent data structures, first-class functions and dynamic typing. Clojure programs are composed of expressions and written in terms of abstractions.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • ISO 8601: the better date format

        If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that there are different date formats in the world such as the American one (mm/dd/yyyy) and the European one (dd.mm.yyyy). If you’re smart enough, you’ve probably also noticed that the American one makes no sense and is just awful. A simple conclusion that many people draw out of this is that the European format is the best one, however I don’t think this is true. If you’re one of these people who think so, I’m here to (hopefully) change your mind by introducing you to a lesser-known date format called ISO 8601.

  • Leftovers

    • ‘A Red Alert for Our Planet’: New UN Report Shows Radically Bolder Action Needed to Hit 1.5°C Target

      “It’s staggering how far off track countries are to dealing with the climate crisis.”

    • Opinion | Windmills: The New Scapegoat

      The real scapegoat here is the Green New Deal, proposed legislation—not actual law—that begins re-envisioning who we are as a nation and what our relationship is to the future.

    • Smithfield Pork’s Sustainability Scam

      In reality, the corporate giant relies on a sprawling network of polluting factory farms and slaughterhouses, responsible for widespread pollution of our air and water. And one of Smithfield’s most aggressive clean image initiatives relies on — if you can believe it — massive, leaky lagoons of pig manure.

      That yawning gap between the company’s carefully crafted image and its record of environmental degradation is why Food & Water Watch, joined by several other farming and environmental groups, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Smithfield’s deceptive and misleading advertising.

    • What Lawrence Ferlinghetti Means to Me

      Brave and yet cautious, he often wore a Cheshire cat grin and went out of his way to be supportive, not only to me, but also to other writers much younger than him. My own connections to Ferlinghetti are tied to my connections to San Francisco, as a literary place and a cultural outpost of bohemian Paris, where he went to school and was influenced by George Whitman’s bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which opened in 1919, the same year Ferlinghetti was born.

      On KQED, two days after Ferlinghetti’s death on February 22, 2021, Elaine Katzenberger, the executive director at City Lights, noted that he was shy and that it wasn’t easy to get to know him. Indeed, he wasn’t outgoing the way Allen Ginsberg was, but it was worthwhile to get to know him.

    • Bitcoin and Baseball Cards
    • Imagining Palestine: On Barghouti, Darwish, Kanafani and the Language of Exile

      The death in Amman of Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti, an intellectual whose work has intrinsically been linked to exile, brought back to the surface many existential questions: are Palestinians destined to be exiled? Can there be a remedy for this perpetual torment? Is justice a tangible, achievable goal?

      Barghouti was born in 1944 in Deir Ghassana, near Ramallah. His journey in exile began in 1967, and ended, however temporarily, 30 years later. His memoir “I Saw Ramallah” – published in 1997 – was an exiled man’s attempt to make sense of his identity, one that has been formulated within many different physical spaces, conflicts and airports. While, in some way, the Palestinian in Barghouti remained intact, his was a unique identity that can only be fathomed by those who have experienced, to some degree, the pressing feelings of Ghurba – estrangement and alienation – or Shataat – dislocation and diaspora.

    • Why Xavier Becerra Is a Smart Pick to Run HHS
    • Cutting Down Our Future
    • San Francisco Blues, 101
    • Beyond “Missed Opportunities”: How Should Revolutionaries respond to Judas and the Black Messiah?

      It’s also too easy these days—with the aid of our simmering social media silos—to develop political expectations for mass culture that are far beyond, or even utterly out of touch with, the base-line discourse running through the broader society.

      Say what you want about the selections, omissions, emphases, or ellipses of Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah, but let’s not let our revolutionary wish-list keep us from appreciating a number of the ways that this film intervenes—with force and clarity—in our present American political discourse.

    • Small Towns and Rural Communities Need Transit, Too

      For many Americans, public transit is the only option to get to work, school, the grocery store, or doctor’s appointments. But nearly half of us have no access to public transit. And those that do are now confronting limited routes, slashed service times, and limited disability accommodations.

      This isn’t just a worry for people who live in cities — over a million households in rural America don’t have a vehicle. In rural communities like Wolfe County, Kentucky, Bullock County, Alabama, and Allendale County, South Carolina, fully 20 percent of households don’t have a car.

    • Tales of the Mighty Whitey: Deep Diving in the Dark Web Dumpster

      Fraud and deceit among the politicians whose job description highlights compromised positions?  In America? I’m going with the crullers scenario.

      But however one chooses to see the events of January 6 (or ‘1/6/1’ — if you’re keeping tabs of the rolling pearl harbors), on display was fat slobby mighty whitey devilry, led by a Proud Boy FBI informant and, apparently, avid Stephen King readers over at QAnon, the couch potato caliphate, who finally got off their asses and did something. Rebel Yell in the corridors. One of them even hee-hawed off with Nancy Pelosi’s podium, although I’m told she maintained control of the gavel.

    • Power Analysis Failure

      “No, Wind Farms Aren’t the Main Cause of the Texas Blackouts,” a New York Times headline (2/17/21) instructed readers three days after the extreme weather event that precipitated widespread infrastructure failures in the Lone Star State, failures that caused mass suffering and led to dozens of deaths. The article, by Dionne Searcey, appeared after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was called out by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (among many others) for blaming renewable energy sources for the state’s power grid collapse.

    • Now He Sings, Now We Sob

      From its invention in the eighteenth century, and increasingly across the century that followed, the piano was the beating heart of the home. Loved ones gathered around it for wordless reverie, then joined their voices in song. Often they cried, alone or together. How was it that feelings were encouraged to express themselves by fingers moving across ivory and ebony keys, the hammer-struck strings resonating with emotion?

      The cover photo of Corea’s album, his second as a leader, updates the Biedermeier décor of those now cheerful, now tearful evenings of yore, parquet floor replaced by shag carpet, cut glass decanter by chrome drinks tray. Posters not paintings hang on the wall. Instead of portraits of ancestors or the Kaiser, family photographs perch on polished wood furniture. The polyester curtain is drawn to keep the big city’s lights and sounds out of the apartment where the pianist is alone at the keyboard, deep in his music.

    • Illusion Geopolitical Unmasked: the Metastasis  Global of ‘New Normal’

      That we are  encouraged to believe in  and not to question axioms as  concerns different  power structures prevailing at a Geopolitical level being to some rough approximation of that  which  Orwell delineated as ‘Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania‘ has a political utility?

      What if such hegemony of Geopolitics  expresses  a unipolarity become; if  it no more than mere illusion sense of belief controlled purposive, that the concept of ‘Deep State’ has attained a unipolar status of megalomaniacal proportionality pragmatic; that geopolitical differentiation  now represents but wings ‘beating propagandic’  under the pump of a singular  dark heart of corporatist necrotrophy/oligarchic collective undergoing a metastasis – from ‘bipartisan’  at a national level to ‘tripartisan’ at a geopolitical level?

    • Joe Biden Tells the World “America Is Back” — Not That It Ever Really Went Anywhere

      “America is back,” President Joe Biden bellicosely proclaimed in his major foreign policy priorities speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 19. Repeating it for effect, Biden signaled the end of the Trump interregnum.

    • “America is Back”: Make the Best of It

      He seems as pleased as can be about it too. So is the entire political class, except for the miscreants wedded to Donald Trump or to rightwing views, distinguished mainly by their vileness and stupidity.

      There are alarmingly many Americans who hold those views, but there are more who do not. Thank God. But not too much.

    • Science

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Opinion | The Most Fundamental Stumbling Block To Vaccine Access Is That Private Pharmaceutical Companies Are in Control and Rich Countries Are Enabling Them

        Charitable donations from rich countries and individuals are welcome—but they won’t ensure fair vaccine distribution unless the drug-patenting system is reformed, too.

      • ‘Blood on Our Hands’: 400+ Groups Call on Biden to Support Making Vaccine Recipes Available to the World

        “This should be a no-brainer. President Biden must grant the [WTO] waiver so that millions around the world can develop the vaccine and save lives.”

      • Health Care and Colonialism: A Sickness unto Death

        Some of these injustices might seem small to those not subject to them. They might also seem reasonable. They are often justified to society on the basis of cost. Other times, their justification relies on tropes that demean and stereotype present day members of once colonized or enslaved peoples. We are all familiar with such stereotypes and even non-critical eyes notice them being used in television shows, movies and other media. Even here, this use is not necessarily intentional, but is a result of the insidiousness of these stereotypes. It seems unnecessary to provide examples of these tropes here, since most people who live in North America are aware of them on some level, thanks to the work of anti-racist/anti-white supremacy advocates in the past and in the present.

        This knowledge is of little use, though, if the injustices based on these stereotypes continue. This fact is one of the fundamental messages of Pediatric Emergency Physsician and Professor Samir Shaheen-Hussain’s new book, Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism Against Indigenous Children in Canada. Shaheen-Hussain, who teaches at Montreal’s McGill University and is also a practicing physician, was one of the leaders of a campaign trying to end the practice of not allowing severely ill and injured children from the Inuit and Cree in Quebec to be accompanied by a caretaker when the care they required meant a plane flight to a hospital in Montreal or another Quebec metropolis. It was after some years of quietly accepting the practice that Shaheen-Hussain and others began a campaign to change the practice. His understanding that the policy itself—which was never actually encoded into law—was not just prejudicial to Indigenous peoples, but was a manifestation of Canada’s colonial history in their present day lives.

      • Pandemic May Have Left Over 250 Million People With Acute Food Shortages in 2020

        In the United States, “food insecurity has doubled overall, and tripled among households with children” due to the pandemic, states a June 2020 report by the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University, which relied on data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. In a recent interview with CBS News, IPR Director Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach warned that these statistics would likely “continue to hold,” with the numbers indicating particularly dramatic rises in food insecurity among Black and Latinx families. Indeed, families of color are being disproportionately impacted. According to an analysis of new Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), 22 percent of Black and 21 percent of Latinx respondents reported not having enough to eat, compared to just 9 percent of white people.

        Globally, the effects of COVID-19 on food security are equally, if not more, severe. According to a CBS News report, WFP Director David Beasley told the UN Security Council in April 2020 that the world is on “the brink of a hunger pandemic.” He added, “In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation.”

      • Just Die

        Minutes out, heading to Brooklyn, H, V, and I stopped at a COVID test site. I’d heard stories about the test, the discomfort, that someone’s nasopharyngeal swab was so intrusive a cerebral fluid leak occurred. I watched as H and V were tested—to see if either registered pain and saw only a slight grimace and teary eyes. My turn. Not bad enough to induce my hair-trigger vasovagal syncope, however, the nurse turned, walked back to me, and said, “I’m sorry. I dropped your swab. It’s the first time this has happened to me, and I’ve done hundreds of these tests. I’m going to have to swab you again.”

        “Shit.”

      • Honor Black Lives by Ending Racist Wars

        The stars of this new corporate Blackanalia, naturally, are the monarchs of the New Black Renaissance, Barack and Michelle Obama, because nothing says racial justice like looking glamorous while getting away with war crimes. The new dream is apparently being woke enough to pass mediocre healthcare reform between murdering teenagers of color in Yemen with drone strikes. I need to sit down. No, I need to stand up.

        All of this wouldn’t feel so goddamn personal to me if it didn’t all feel so goddamn familiar. I may be but a pale-faced faggot but I’ve witnessed this same damn shit as a Queer person with what those same corporate scumfucks have done to Pride Month. A holiday that began with my people kicking the Queer Christ out of a bunch of roll crazy pigs has been reduced to a photo-op for gangsters like Kamala Harris to pose in front of and cover up the stench of the Prison Industrial Complex on her breath. Maybe this is unfair, but I think all marginalized people, all the ones I know anyway, look to Black Power for guidance and inspiration, like a beautiful Afroed older sister to teach us how to crack wise and beat the man. It fucking hurts to see this badass domesticated into something of value to the people we fight.

      • ‘The CDC Must Appeal Immediately’: Trump-Appointed Judge Strikes Down Pandemic Eviction Moratorium

        The pause on evictions was put in place to help stem the spread of Covid-19.

      • “The Control Group”: A litigation-driven antivaccine survey of the “unvaccinated”

        There are more awful incompetently designed and executed “studies” of unvaccinated populations compared to vaccinated populations carried out by antivaxxers than I can even count. I know. I’ve been shooting them down since at least 2005. (Anyone remember the dumpster-diving in the VAERS database by the not-so-dynamic duo of Geier père et fils?) The problem is that there are far more crappy antivax studies than even this single clear Plexiglass box of colored blinking lights can deal with. The torrent of bad antivax “science” is a veritable firehose—nay, a veritable tsunami—that one person just can’t handle, however fast and verbose he is at blogging and Twitter. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged these tendencies, as crappy antivax studies have now morphed into crappy antivax studies about COVID-19 vaccines. Still, even in the midst of a deadly pandemic that in a little more than a year has killed over a half a million people in just the US alone, it’s depressing to see that the same old, same old is still a thing among antivaxxers, namely crappy surveys masquerading as “studies” of the unvaccinated that claim to find that the unvaccinated are oh-so-much “healthier” than the vaccinated. So it was that I came across an article on Vaxxter earlier this week, New survey of vaccine-free group exposes long-term impact of vaccination policies on public health by Greg Glaser and Pat O’Connell. Basically, the survey is called The Control Group Pilot Study, and apparently it was published late last year. Why Vaxxter is only getting around to it now, I don’t know, but let’s take a look:

      • The Pandemic Tested Our Social Safety Net. It Failed.

        Economic crises shine a spotlight on a society’s inequities and hierarchies, as well as its commitment to support those who are most vulnerable in such grievous moments. The calamity created by Covid-19 is no exception. The economic fallout from that pandemic has tested the nation’s social safety net as never before.

      • Combating pollution

        While Pakistan’s carbon emissions are very low in comparison to the rest of the world, it is among the most polluted countries in terms of ambient (outdoor) air pollution and water contamination. According to rankings compiled by IQAir, Pakistan was the world’s second most polluted country in the world for both 2018 as well as 2019, behind Bangladesh, with air quality characterised as “unhealthy” as measured by levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres).

      • Facebook censors WSWS article exposing “Wuhan lab” conspiracy theory

        Multiple readers confirmed that upon attempting to share the article, they received a message saying “no one else can see your post” because Facebook does not “allow false information that has been repeatedly debunked,” implying that the article contains “misinformation about COVID-19.” Some readers reported that immediately upon sharing the article, their Facebook accounts were suspended for three and, in some cases, seven days.

        Absolutely nothing in the WSWS article was wrong, false or misleading. The article in question was based on the position of the World Health Organization, which has excluded investigation of a non-natural origin of COVID-19 on the grounds that there is no evidence to support the claim.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Microsoft to cut perpetual Office support by 50%, raise price by 10%

          Reducing support for Office LTSC and 2021 to five years makes the software less attractive in any comparison with Office 365/Microsoft 365. Perpetual licensing’s biggest advantage over subscriptions is cost, but that advantage relies on the customer upgrading relatively infrequently. By offering an upgrade every three years and limiting support to five years, Microsoft has forced customers who want or need perpetual licensing to deploy every version. There’s no way to skip an upgrade because there’s no overlap in support for versions n and n+2.

        • SolarWinds’s Security Practices Questioned by Lawmakers

          The cyber-attack was revealed in December after FireEye Inc. discovered it while investigating a breach of its own. The [attackers] implanted malicious code into SolarWinds’s popular Orion software, and as many as 18,000 customers received it while updating the software. Far fewer were actually targeted for secondary attacks — about 100 companies and nine U.S. agencies, according to the White House.

          A persistent question has been how the [attackers] originally breached SolarWinds. At the hearing, SolarWinds CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna said the company was still investigating but had narrowed it to three possible methods. The [attackers] may have used a technique called “password spraying,” where the attackers “spray” passwords at a large volume of usernames. A second possibility was that the [attackers] stole credentials, he said, while the third was a breach of a third-party application used by SolarWinds.

        • Security

          • Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 168 released

            The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 168. This version includes the following changes:

            * Don't call difflib.Differ.compare with very large inputs; it is at least
              O(n^2) and makes diffoscope appear to hang.
              (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#240)
            * Don't use "Inheriting PATH of X" in debug log message; use "PATH is X".
            * Correct the capitalisation of jQuery.
            

          • Your old home router is probably vulnerable to hackers [Ed: ‘New’ Linux FUD from ‘old’ Microsoft partners]

            Linux is the most-used operating system on Internet routers, but a recent study from Fraunhofer FKIE has shown that these devices are running extremely old and potentially insecure versions of the Linux kernel.

            While the Fraunhofer report is more than six months old, information security expert Bruce Schneier shared it recently, noting that it has not been widely reported.

            According to the report, Linux powers more than 90% of broadband routers. However, these devices which act as our gateways to the Internet often run on Linux kernels that are more than ten years old.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Oracle, Which Promised To Protect TikTok User Data From China, Helps Chinese Law Enforcement Snarf Through Lots Of Private Data

              As you’ll recall, last summer there was a whole performative nonsense thing with then President Trump declaring TikTok to be a national security threat (just shortly after some kids on TikTok made him look silly by reserving a million tickets to a Trump rally they never intended to attend). Trump and his cronies insisted that TikTok owner ByteDance had to sell the US operations of TikTok to an American firm. The whole rationale about this was the claim — unsupported by any direct evidence — that TikTok was a privacy risk, because it was owned by a firm based in Beijing, and that firm likely had connections to the Chinese government (as do basically all large Chinese firms). But how was that privacy risk any worse than pretty much any other company? No one ever seemed to be able to say.

            • TikTok owner agrees to $92 million privacy settlement with U.S. users

              ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the short video app TikTok that has more than 100 million U.S. users, agreed to the settlement after more than a year of litigation.

            • Twitter is exploring a subscription option called ‘super follows’

              The feature, which is in internal testing and not launched, would represent a shift on a service that’s always been free, pushing Twitter in the direction of companies such as Patreon, OnlyFans or Substack that offer the chance to make money from significant or devoted followers.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Course of Chile’s Revolt, Seen from the Streets: Interview with Victoria Garcés López

        For more analysis of the context of the Chilean revolt, CounterPunch’s Matthew Collado spoke with Victoria Garcés López. Garcés López is a public school teacher, a trade union militant, and a leftist and feminist activist based in the capital Santiago. In this wide-ranging interview she describes her own politicization and activism, Chile’s recent history leading to the revolt, its composition, and the perilous process ahead to build democratic foundations for Chile. Garcés López provides an illuminating portrait of this moment of transition, as seen and felt in the streets. The interview has been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity.

        MC Talk a bit about yourself and your political background.

      • Lawmakers Say Biden Admin Must Present Congress Legal Justification for Bombing of Syria

        Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said that “retaliatory strikes, not necessary to prevent an imminent threat, must fall within the definition of an existing congressional authorization of military force.”

      • Sanders Warns Biden Attack on Syria Puts US on ‘Path of Continuing the Forever War Instead of Ending It’

        “Our Constitution is clear that it is Congress, not the president, who has the authority to declare war,” the senator asserted.

      • ‘Utter BS’: Human Rights Advocates Outraged Biden Won’t Punish MBS Over Gruesome Khashoggi Murder

        After release of U.S. intelligence report, one critic said letting Saudi crown prince “get away with the murder” of dissident journalist “is absolutely abhorrent and horrific.”

      • The Guantánamo Nightmare Has to End

        The Constitution Project, a Washington-based non-partisan research and advocacy group, stated that “U.S. forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties. Such conduct was directly counter to values of the Constitution and our nation.”

        Equally appalling has been the involvement of medical personnel who supervised the interrogation of detainees, as denounced by Open Society and the Institute of Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) to the point that the US Department of Defense (DOD) considered those health professionals “safety officers’ rather than doctors. In its report “Deprivation and Despair: The Crisis of Medical Care at Guantánamo,” Physicians for Human Rights (USA) gives a detailed account of the abuses that detainees were subjected to in Guantánamo.

      • Canadian Support for the Dictatorship in Haiti

        Last week a public letter was released criticizing Canada’s “support for a repressive, corrupt Haitian president devoid of constitutional legitimacy.” It was signed by three current MPs and three former MPs, as well as Noam Chomsky, David Suzuki, Naomi Klein, Roger Waters, El Jones and 500 others.

        The letter notes that Canada “continues to fund and train a police force that has violently repressed anti-Moïse protests. The Canadian ambassador in Haiti has repeatedly attended police functions all the while refusing to criticize their repression of protesters. On January 18 ambassador Stuart Savage met the controversial new head of police Leon Charles to discuss ‘strengthening the capacity of the police.’”

      • Rethinking Israel’s Blank Check in Light of Palestinian Teen’s Death with US Weapon

        Last year, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager with an American gun. Now human rights organizations, activists, and politicians are calling on the United States to investigate the killing and stop the flow of military support to Israel.

      • Futile: Saudi’s Decade-Long Attempt to Bottle Up Yemeni Youth Revolution is Failing

        A decade has passed since a massive popular uprising was sparked in Yemen by the wave of pro-democracy protests surging across the Middle East and North Africa known as the Arab Spring. The protests called for the overthrow of dictatorial regimes and sought democracy, sovereignty, and the elimination of poverty and unemployment. For Radwan Ali al-Haimi, a Yemeni youth and one of the leaders of the uprising, the hope for a new era of freedom and democracy cannot be crushed by Saudi Arabia and will come true with time.

      • Opinion | Trillions of Our Tax Dollars for New Nuclear Missiles? Let’s Stop the Omnicider!

        It’s hard to imagine a more colossal waste of money, energy and human ingenuity, especially with the pandemic and climate chaos bearing down on us.

      • Biden’s Opportunity with China

        Biden will have to craft a China policy that will convince Americans, and Chinese leaders, that he can both compete with and where necessary confront China, relying on diplomacy rather than on threats and bluster. China will be a severe test for a new administration whose highest priorities are the pandemic and the economy.

        Yet Biden can neither put China on the back burner nor allow China policy to be determined by ideological China-bashing and Trump’s trade war, which caused major job losses and hurt farmers, consumers, universities, and overseas investors.

      • A New Cold War on a Scalding Planet: Biden, Climate Change, and China

        Biden is certainly aware of the dangers of global warming. In that same Foreign Affairs article, he labeled it nothing short of an “existential threat,” one that imperils the survival of human civilization. Acknowledging the importance of relying on scientific expertise (unlike our previous president who repeatedly invented his own version of scientific reality), Biden affirmed the conclusion of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that warming must be limitedto 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels or there will be hell to pay. He then pledged to “rejoin the Paris climate agreement on day one of a Biden administration,” which he indeed did, and to “make massive, urgent investments at home that put the United States on track to have a clean energy economy with net-zero [greenhouse gas] emissions by 2050” — the target set by the IPCC.

        Even such dramatic actions, he indicated, will not be sufficient.  Other countries will have to join America in moving toward a global “net-zero” state in which any carbon emissions would be compensated for by equivalent carbon removals. “Because the United States creates only 15 percent of global emissions,” he wrote, “I will leverage our economic and moral authority to push the world to determined action, rallying nations to raise their ambitions and push progress further and faster.”

      • Biden ‘Revenge’ Bombing of Syria ‘Violates International Law’: Legal Scholar

        “The use of military force on the territory of a foreign sovereign state is lawful only in response to an armed attack on the defending state for which the target state is responsible.”

      • Another Step Back for Biden: Attack on Syria Draws Establishment Cheers

        Barely a month into his presidency, Joe Biden launched an airstrike on Syria yesterday. The attack was reportedly aimed at militias close to the Iraq border, killing 22 people — considerably more than the White House first claimed. In the attack, 1.75 tons of bombs were dropped on a small border-crossing village, according to The New York Times.

      • ‘No one cares if we die’: Ex-Syrian rebels recount Nagorno-Karabakh nightmare as ‘disposable force for Turkey’
      • Opinion | Biden’s Reckless Syria Bombing Is Not the Diplomacy He Promised

        Biden must recognize that the best way to protect U.S. personnel in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region is to take them out of the Middle East.

      • Opinion | Dangerous US Bombing of Syria Worsens Regional Instability and Threatens Iran Nuclear Deal

        Regardless of who is giving orders to US bombers, we know that deploying US troops, drones, and warplanes across the region does not provide safety or security for anyone.

      • Capitalism and Political Violence at Home and Abroad

        To be clear, there are plenty of American nationalists who support militarism outside of their direct economic interests. The usual counter— that economic causality is implausibly reductive in a large and complicated world, proceeds from a narrow view of economic motives. Military production is a large part of the U.S. economy— money is made when bombs are dropped. And U.S. military operations have followed the resource needs of American businesses quite closely for well over a century. Finally, capitalism requires the creation of property rights, political stability and control over labor, to facilitate the production and expropriation of wealth.

        Graph: the great mystery of why the U.S. / NATO chose regime change in Libya in 2011 has been solved. Libya has the largest proved oil reserves on the African continent. Through broader, and more plausible, consideration of economic motives, most U.S. foreign policy, irrespective of the political party in charge, has one or more economic motives that explain it. Source: Statista.

      • Media Completely Ignore American Secret Agent’s Trial for Terrorism in Venezuela

        Unless you read the local Venezuelan press, you are unlikely to know that an American secret agent is currently standing trial in Venezuela on charges of terrorism and weapons trafficking.

      • Future Combat Air System: Industry squabbles over largest European defence project

        The governments of France, Germany and Spain want to develop an AI-based air defence network by 2040. It consists of a new generation of fighter jets accompanied by swarms of drones. A „Combat Cloud“ will then ensure networking with other units on the ground and in the air.

      • “We Want the Truth Uncovered”: Malcolm X’s Daughter Ilyasah Shabazz Backs New Probe into Assassination

        The family of Malcolm X is demanding a new investigation into his 1965 assassination in light of the deathbed confession of a former New York police officer who said police and the FBI conspired to kill the Black leader. Ilyasah Shabazz, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and one of Malcolm’s six children, says the latest revelation is further evidence of how the authorities worked to infiltrate and undermine Black organizations during the Civil Rights Movement. “All he wanted was for America to live up to her promise of liberty and justice for all,” she says of her father. “I’m happy that the truth can finally be uncovered.”

      • The Assassination of Malcolm X: Ex-Undercover Officer Admits Role in FBI & Police Conspiracy

        The FBI and New York Police Department are facing renewed calls to open their records into the assassination of Malcolm X, after the release of a deathbed confession of a former undercover NYPD officer who admitted to being part of a conspiracy targeting Malcolm. In the confession, Raymond Wood, who died last year, admitted he entrapped two members of Malcolm’s security team in another crime — a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty — just days before the assassination. This left the Black civil rights leader vulnerable at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, where he was fatally shot on February 21, 1965. Raymond Wood’s cousin Reggie Wood, who released the confession last week at a press conference, tells Democracy Now! his cousin’s involvement in the plot haunted him for much of his life. “Ray was told by his handlers not to repeat anything that he had seen or heard, or he would join Malcolm,” says Reggie Wood. “He trusted me enough to reveal this information and asked me not to say anything until he passed away, but at the same time not to allow him to take it to his grave.”

      • Was the Killing of Ahmad Erekat an Extrajudicial Execution?

        On June 23, 2020, Ahmad Erekat, 26, was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the Container checkpoint in the central West Bank after he emerged unarmed from his car, which had crashed into the checkpoint. The Israeli authorities have consistently claimed that its personnel were acting in legitimate self-defense against a deliberate attack. As is their practice in such circumstances, they seized Ahmad’s body and have to this day refused to release it to his family for a proper burial. Ahmad’s family, as well as Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights organizations, have called the Israeli version of events into question from the very outset, citing evidence that the crash was an accident, that Ahmad was unarmed and moving away from his killers before he was repeatedly shot, and pointing out that it made little sense for Ahmad to have carried out an attack on the day of his sister’s wedding.

      • It’s Still Time to Abolish ICE

        When a white man shot up an El Paso Walmart in 2019, a woman named Rosa was inside. She survived the massacre, then worked with prosecutors on their criminal case against the shooter. Within days of President Joe Biden’s taking office, a busted taillight upended Rosa’s life again. Rosa lived in El Paso, but she didn’t have the government’s permission to be there. During the traffic stop, local police arrested her, then handed her over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Soon she was in Mexico.

      • Biden’s Reckless Syria Bombing Is Not the Diplomacy He Promised

        According to the Pentagon, the U.S. strike was in response to the February 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed a contractor working with the U.S. military and injured a U.S. service member. Accounts of the number killed in the U.S. attack vary from one to 22.

        The Pentagon made the incredible claim that this action “aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq.” This was countered by the Syrian government, which condemned the illegal attack on its territory and said the strikes “will lead to consequences that will escalate the situation in the region.” The strike was also condemned by the governments of China and Russia. A member of Russia’s Federation Council warned that such escalations in the area could lead to “a massive conflict.”

      • American Gulag

        Equaling the Soviet gulag at its height in the 1950s in numbers of prisoners, the U.S. also locks away 61,000 of them in the torture called solitary confinement and 2700 in the terror called death row. These are not the policies and actions of a civilized society. This is barbarism. As long as this continues, any American politician who climbs up on a high horse about government abuse of citizens in another country is a pathetic hypocrite who deserves to be laughed out of public life.

        Privatization of prisons has made things worse. Of federal prisoners, 19.1 percent are in private prisons, as are 6.8 percent of those in state prisons. These privately run hellholes turn a profit by jacking up fees for inmates from everything from phone calls to mail to video-conferencing with a lawyer. They also make money by skimping on decent food and proper medicines and have lots of other ingenious ways to squeeze dollars out of their captives. Politically, private prisons are a reactionary force, promoting, naturally, tougher crime laws and longer sentences. Because that’s how they make money – for them, the more prisoners, the better. Private prisons contributed to the 408 percent increase in the U.S. prison population from 1978 to 2014.

      • Joe Biden’s US Foreign Policy: Return to the Old Normal?

        No more assuring words could have been uttered for George W. Bush’s former Defense Secretary Colin Powell and the 70 odd Republican national security officials, who wrote an open letter endorsing Biden out of fear that Trump would upset the bipartisan foreign policy consensus of regime change, forever wars, and the NATO alliance. Republican neo-cons now shelter in the Democrat’s big tent, today’s party of war.

        The major difference from his predecessor is that the new US president promises a greater reliance on multilateral diplomacy and international cooperative agreements to achieve US imperial goals. Biden pledged to remain in the World Health Organization and to return to the Paris Climate Agreement, although compliance with the latter is voluntary and Biden defends fracking. After Trump withdrew the US from the UN Human Rights Council three years ago, the US will reengage as an observer. And Trump’s “Muslim ban” was reversed in Biden’s first day in office.

      • How Real Nazis Came to the Americas: the Recruitment of Klaus Barbie

        Yet the career of this heinous war criminal scarcely skipped a beat before he found himself securing entered on the US payroll in postwar Germany. The Barbie was shipped out of Europe by his new paymasters along the “ratline’ to Bolivia. There he began a new life remarkably similar to his old one: working for the secret police, doing the bidding of drug lords and engaging in arms trafficking across South America. Soon, his old skills as a torturer became in high demand.

        By the early 1960s, Barbie was once again working with the CIA to put a US-backed thug in power. In the years that followed, the old Nazi became a central player in the US-inspired Condor Program, aimed at suppressing popular insurgencies and keeping US-controlled dictators in power throughout Latin America. Barbie helped organize the so-called “Cocaine Coup” of 1980, when a junta of Bolivian generals seized power, slaughtering their leftist opponents and reaping billions in the cocaine, boom, in which Bolivia was a prime supplier.

      • Cover-up of January 6 coup attempt continues at House hearing on “security failures”

        In the third congressional hearing held this week on the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, acting US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman and Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

        The hearing, chaired by Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, was the latest to interrogate the leadership of the various police agencies about their failure to maintain the security of the Capitol. Members raised questions about how and why, despite receiving numerous intelligence reports warning of the assault, little or no action was taken to prevent it.

      • Hundreds of Nigerian Schoolgirls Taken in Mass Abduction

        Gunmen abducted 317 girls Friday from a boarding school in northern Nigeria, police said, the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of students in the West African nation.

        Police and the military have begun joint operations to rescue the girls after the attack at the Government Girls Junior Secondary School in Jangebe town, according to a police spokesperson in Zamfara state, Mohammed Shehu, who confirmed the number abducted.

    • Environment

      • We are nowhere near keeping warming below 1.5°C despite climate plans

        A UN analysis of plans from 74 countries, accounting for almost a third of global emissions, found they would reduce those nations’ emissions by 0.5 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that global emissions must fall by about 45 per cent by 2030 to stand a chance of staying below 1.5°C.

      • Scientists see stronger evidence of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation, an ‘Achilles’ heel’ of climate

        Although evidence of the system’s weakening has been published before, the new research cites 11 sources of “proxy” evidence of the circulation’s strength, including clues hidden in seafloor mud as well as patterns of ocean temperatures. The enormous flow has been directly measured only since 2004, too short a period to definitively establish a trend, which makes these indirect measures critical for understanding its behavior.

        The new research applies a statistical analysis to show that those measures are in sync and that nine out of 11 show a clear trend.

      • UN survival plan offers new hope for the planet

        A bold UN survival plan could put nature back in charge of the Earth − and researchers explain why that should happen.

      • Energy

        • A Blizzard. A Power Outage. A Failure of the Heart.

          From sea to shining sea, ordinary people stepped up to take care of one another. My brother volunteered to snowblow the Seattle offices of an autism support center. A colleague in Portland, OR, posted warnings not to walk under the snapping, ice-laden branches of city trees. Friends in West Virginia popped back online to make sure everyone was fine after three days without Internet. When Texas megachurches refused to shelter people, a mattress store opened their doors to those without power. Up and down my dirt road in New Mexico, people checked-in with each other as they walked dogs, drove to work, and dug out their driveways.

          This is the America I believe in. In a time of political outrage (and even more outrageous headlines), I believe the content of our national character is found in how we take care of one another. Especially in times of crisis. This spirit of neighborly caring is a widely-shared value, stretching from rural communities to urban neighborhoods, encompassing everything from faith-based relief efforts to mutual aid networks.

        • Molly Ivins Can Say That About Texas
        • When Power Grids Secede: What Happened in Texas

          Second, I’ve been exasperated by the coverage. Actually more by the liberal-left voices than the wingnuts. The wingnuts don’t have any of the facts right, but they are correct in one sense: the explanation is very simple.

          (The socialists are correct, for once. This is very simple and the explanation is the one they apply to everything. Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.)

        • Mitch Jones on Texas Freeze-Outs, Joe Torres on News for All the People
        • Lawsuit Reveals New Allegations Against PG&E Contractor Accused of Fraud

          Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric accused two of its former employees of accepting bribes to funnel business to a waste-hauling company after the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history.

          One supervisor for PG&E allegedly had his driveway paved on the power company’s dime. A subordinate is accused of having received a bribe in an unorthodox property transfer of a multimillion-dollar house in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco.

        • Windmills: The New Scapegoat

          That explains the emergence, in recent weeks, among right-wing politicians and media hacks, of a truly bizarre and unexpected scapegoat: the evil windmill!

          In the wake of the winter storm that shut down the Texas power grid and deprived much of its population of electricity, warmth and drinkable water, these hacks and pols have been desperate to divert public awareness from basic facts, such as the utter failure of the state’s deregulated power grid to winterize and remain functional in difficult weather, and — ultimately far worse — the looming ecological collapse caused in large part by ongoing fossil fuel extraction and consumption.

        • Analysis: How Exxon Is Being Forced To Accept The Reality Of Bad Fossil Fuel Investments

          According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), proved reserves are “the estimated quantities of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids which geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.”

        • Fossil Freeze: Deadly Texas Catastrophe Shows How Natural Gas Systems Can Fail when Demand Spikes

          Those false claims were rapidly called out, rebutted not just by backers of renewable energy but also by Texas’ own power grid operators, who revealed that wind turbines were among the least of the Lone Star State’s problems. Other politicians made headlines for absurdly blaming the “Green New Deal” — a sweeping proposal to rapidly decarbonize the economy that neither Texas nor the U.S. has yet adopted.

        • Bitcoin energy use ‘bigger than most countries’

          The University of Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) studies the burgeoning business of cryptocurrencies.

          It calculates that Bitcoin’s total energy consumption is somewhere between 40 and 445 annualised terawatt hours (TWh), with a central estimate of about 130 terawatt hours.

          The UK’s electricity consumption is a little over 300 TWh a year, while Argentina uses around the same amount of power as the CCAF’s best guess for Bitcoin.

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

      • Opinion | Austerity as Fake News: It Is Time to Bury Myth That a Race to the Bottom Will Get Us to the Top

        To honor Black history, now is the moment to remind people about the power of government action, especially but not exclusively during moments of crisis.

      • Opinion | ‘Global Minimum Tax on Multinationals’: An Open Letter to Joe Biden on International Corporate Taxation

        For too long, international institutions have failed to address one of the most toxic aspects of globalization: tax avoidance and evasion by multinational corporations.

      • It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution — Yes, I Mean It.

        I know it’s the third rail of politics, but I’m not running for a damn thing, which makes me free to speak the truth. (Well, I am running for president of my neighborhood elementary school’s PTA, but I’m pretty sure I’ll win easily since my campaign slogan is “Extend the school day to 20 hours because we don’t want to deal with those little monsters. You take ‘em!” . . . Well, I’ll win as long as they don’t find out I don’t have a child.)

        Anyway, we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades.

      • China’s Big New Market…in China

        It’s over. The China threat. No Thucydides trap of rising power threatening established power. Still scope for misunderstandings, a naval clash in the South China Sea, an exchange at the border war with India, fighter jets taking matters into their hands. But the economic race with the United States is over. China has new economic goals. Actually, China has new priorities and the economy is now second fiddle to politics. Gone are the visions of a new world order. Covid has played a part but it also provides useful cover for Beijing to chart a new course. Ever since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, China’s growth rate has been dropping, even according to official figures. Beijing has indicated a willingness to accept a post-coronavirus growth target of 5 percent or less. In the BC era (Before Covid) this would have set alarm bells ringing as it was assumed that nothing less than growth of 6 or so percent could guarantee the stability required for the party to stay in power.

        An October meeting of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, supported Xi’s agenda for the 14th five-year plan. No surprise there. But the communiqué, set to be endorsed in March when the rubberstamp National People’s Congress, or parliament, meets , included an item that almost shyly stated a new departure: it said that China would “basically achieve socialist modernization” by 2035 in order to finally “reach the level of moderately developed countries’’. The rampant growth model that had astounded, frightened and helped the financial-crisis hit West, has encountered a reality too often ignored; the party is over because of the party.

      • ‘Workers Are Increasingly Required to Sign Away Their Rights’

        The February 19, 2021, episode of CounterSpin brought together archival interviews from Celine McNicholas, Joanne Doroshow and Kate Bronfenbrenner on forced arbitration and the NLRB. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Danny Glover: “The Best Anti-Poverty Program is a Union”

        The warehouse’s more than 5,800 predominantly Black workers are in the middle of a historic vote on unionization. If a majority vote in favor, they would become the e-commerce giant’s first U.S. employees to form a union.

        In the lead-up to the vote, Amazon deployed what the union calls the “gold package” of anti-union tactics, including intimidating meetings with managers, setting up a fear-mongering website, and plastering workplace restrooms with propaganda.

      • Opinion | Biden Absolutely Has the Power To Unilaterally Cancel All Federal Student Debt. He Just Refuses To Do It.

        Biden owes this country debt relief not only because he campaigned on it, but because he helped cause the problem.

      • Vladimir Putin’s Very Bad Week

        Putin is considered the richest man in the world for the amount of wealth he controls, not the amount he owns. Alexei Navalny is considered the bravest man in the world for returning to Russia after recovering from Novichok poisoning in Germany. Putin had Navalny’s returning flight diverted to avoid mobs of protestors, then arrested Navalny at the airport.

        Never lacking a certain Russian sense of humor, Putin charged Navalny, whom he calls “the blogger,” with violating parole while in a coma being treated from Novichok poisoning in a German hospital. Navalny, not missing a beat, has begun to refer to Putin as “Vlad the Underpants Poisoner” after Navalny tricked a Russian intelligence agent into revealing how the deadly nerve agent had been administered.

      • ‘Abolish the Filibuster. Replace the Parliamentarian’: Ilhan Omar Says Democrats Must Go Big to Pass $15 Minimum Wage

        “What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.”

      • 150K+ Voters Back $15 Minimum Wage as Biden and Harris Pushed to #Keep15In Pandemic Relief Bill

        “Decency is Democrats using the political power they’ve been handed to finally deliver for the hardworking people of this country.”

      • Progressives to VP Kamala Harris: ‘This Is Not a Difficult Decision. Use Your Power. Keep $15 In.’

        “A $15 federal minimum wage is now in the hands of Kamala Harris. There is a path to get it done. Refusing to step up will be seen as a huge failure.”

      • ‘It Should Be Easier to Raise Minimum Wage Than to Drop Bombs on Syria’: Progressives Fume at Biden

        “We assassinate people by drone strike and have a literal prison colony in Guantanamo but where we draw the line is ignoring the Senate parliamentarian when [she] says no to a minimum wage hike.”

      • How Can Blockchain Become a Truly Transformative Technology?

        I first became interested in blockchain technologies when in 2016 the World Economic Forum (WEF) named The Blockchain in its annual list of Top Ten Emerging Technologies citing its potential to fundamentally change the way markets and governments work. The WEF noted that “Like the Internet, the blockchain is an open, global infrastructure upon which other technologies and applications can be built. And like the Internet, it allows people to bypass traditional intermediaries in their dealings with each other, thereby lowering or even eliminating transaction costs.”

        The blockchain first came to light in 2008 as the architecture underpinning bitcoin, the best known and most widely held digital currency. The blockchain’s original vision was limited to enabling bitcoin users to transact directly with each other with no need for a bank or government agency to certify the validity of the transactions. But, like the Internet, electricity and other transformative technologies, blockchain has transcended its original objectives. Over the years, blockchains, – and the more encompassing distributed ledger technologies (DLT), – have developed a following of their own as distributed data base architectures with the ability to handle trust-less transactions where no parties need to know nor trust each other for transactions to complete.

        Could blockchain/DLT become truly transformative technologies? And if so, what will it take?

        As firms increasingly rely on supply chain partners for many of the functions once done in-house, managing their increasingly complex operations across a network of interconnected institutions has become major challenge. Over the past few decades, digital infrastructures and applications have significantly increased the volume of transactions among institutions, both within countries and around the world. Increasingly, the unit of competition is no longer a single firm but a networked ecosystem of institutions working closely with each other.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Noting ‘Most Americans Do Not Give a Sh*t’ What Parliamentarian Says, Campaigners Urge Biden-Harris to Fight for $15

        “Why is President Joe Biden fighting harder for Neera Tanden’s nomination than for the tens of millions of Americans who desperately need a raise?”

      • A Firefighter Election: Can Veteran of Wisconsin Uprising Rescue the IAFF?

        In mail balloting already underway, local union delegates are casting votes on behalf of 320,000 IAFF members throughout the U.S. and Canada. They are choosing a replacement for 75-year old Harold Schaitberger, a full-time union official for more than four decades and a longtime mover-and-shaker in national Democratic Party circles, who announced his retirement last fall. Vying to succeed him are IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly, a 47- year old Air Force veteran and former leader of the union’s Massachusetts branch, and Mahlon Mitchell, a 43- year old African-American from Madison, who heads the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin

        Both are energetic, ambitious, and young—by US labor leader standards. But Kelly more strongly reflects the insular “old school” culture of this public sector craft union, while Mitchell, a 2016 Democratic National Convention delegate for Bernie Sanders, has favored Fire Fighter alliances with other public workers facing budget cuts or loss of their workplace rights. Advocating the latter approach put Mitchell in the national spotlight for the first time ten years ago this month. That’s when Walker, Wisconsin’s right-wing governor and the Republican dominated state legislature were pushing Act 10, a law designed to weaken public sector unions—other than those representing police and fire-fighters. Under the strong local leadership of Madison Firefighter president Joe Conway, and with Mitchell newly installed as the union’s statewide leader, the IAFF refused to be part of Walker’s divide-and-conquer strategy.

      • UN Report Condemns US Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela

        Douhan, in her report, “reminds all parties of their obligation under the UN Charter to observe principles and norms of international law [and] that humanitarian concerns shall always prevail over political ones.”

        She “underlines the inadmissibility of applying sanctions extraterritorially and urges the U.S. Government to end the national emergency regarding Venezuela.” The United States must “revise and lift sectoral sanctions against Venezuela’s public sector, review and lift secondary sanctions against third-state parties.” All states need to “review and lift targeted sanctions in accordance with principles of international law.”

      • Republicans Failed to Sink Deb Haaland’s Nomination—and Looked Like Fools in the Process

        Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo tribal citizen and President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department, is on the brink of history. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary. Interior manages one-fifth of the nation’s land and vast supplies of natural resources, all taken from Native people, as well as the lion’s share of federal Indian policy. This makes Haaland’s appointment even more significant—not just symbolic, but a true restoration of power to a people who nearly lost everything.

      • New Symbolic Role for the Israeli Flag

        During the January 6 insurrection, hardly any of the U.S. media took note of the following fact: amongst the signs and banners of rightwing organizations—the “South will rise again” Confederate states enthusiasts, the fascist-like Rambo militias, and the disparate run-amok MAGA maniacs—stood a very large Israeli flag.

        If you are looking for comment and contextualization of this appearance, the best place to go is the Israeli progressive web-based magazine, 972.  There you will find a very good piece, dated 22 January 2021, by Ben Lorder.

      • We Need Democracy, Not Billionaire Philanthropy

        Now, I care deeply about climate change. So here’s a question: What does Gates, whose 66,000 square foot mansion features a 60-foot swimming pool, six kitchens, and a dining hall large enough for 200 people, have to offer about solving climate change if he doesn’t start with scaling down his own lifestyle?

        Gates owns multiple large properties — including mansions, horse farms, and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland — and the harm they pose to the climate is made worse by the greenhouse gases emitted when he flies between each of them on his private jet.

      • RIP Mean Old Uncle Rush

        Ding Dong, the Blowhard’s Dead.

        “Little Item,” I should explain, was the deceased’s lame attempt at slut-shaming me. But before we get into our personal “relationship,” let me just savor how karmically fitting it is that Rush Limbaugh, the Godfather of Modern Bigotry, met the Grim Reaper (not Mitch the Bitch for the Rich—the other one) in the middle of Black History Month. It also happened to come as a lovely late Valentine for those of us this King of Creeps tried to slut-shame, a nice Lupercalian spank to stimulate a Rush-free Bonobo Spring.

      • The Good, The Bad and the Profound

        To make the political climate even worse, politicians served up the doozy of trying to blame renewable energy for the failure of the power grid in Texas.

        Though it should still be a day of celebration,  today also marks the day we reached the unthinkable number of 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19, at the same time that most states are opening back up. And, our young people are becoming suicidal at alarming rates, a secondary yet major pandemic. As a psychiatrist, I see that thus far we are doing virtually nothing about that escalating tragedy.

      • Trump Briefings? Always News. Biden Briefings? Not News.

        Nowadays, corporate media would have you believe they are appalled by Donald Trump: He’s a liar and a cheat who distorted our democracy and was rotten to the press. I mean, they had to cover him because he was president, but they held their nose the whole time, and now they can’t wait to get back to serious reporting on policy.

      • How Sir Kier Starmer Got His New Labour Mojo Back!

        Back then, this great chamber had been a place of celebration; vast numbers of ecstatic people swaying to the beat of a great electoral triumph, colourful banners fluttering their victory reds – Cool Britannia celebrities mingling with billionaire press barons.  The future had been bright; the future had been New Labour!

        Now, though, he pushed through the large eroded doors only to be greeted with a chasm of darkness.  The great hall was dank and empty except for the overturned tables, a few broken, lonely chairs, a single torn poster splayed across the floor – its slogan written out in thin, ghastly lines of dried blood:

      • How coronavirus stimulus funds helped one state create a ‘broadband miracle’

        The result has been an acceleration in broadband deployment that could make Mississippi one of the most connected states in the nation within the next five to six years. That’s a huge leap for the state, which last year ranked 42 out of 50 in BroadbandNow’s 2020 connectivity rankings. The Federal Communications Commission says that at least 35% of rural Mississippians lack access to broadband.

      • CPAC Erupts in Delight After Hawley Brags About Trying to Overturn Election

        Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) spoke a lot about loving America during his speech at CPAC, but he only got the crowd out of their seats when he bragged about his literal attempts to destroy it.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible: Recent Examples Of Misunderstanding Context

        I’ve said over and over and over again that content moderation at scale is impossible to do well, and one of the biggest reasons for this is that it’s difficult to understand context. Indeed, I’ve heard that some content moderation policies explicitly suggest that moderators don’t try to take context into account. This is not because companies don’t think it’s important, but the recognition that understanding the context behind every bit of content, would make the process so slow as to be absolutely useless. Yes, it would be great if every content moderator had the time and resources to understand the context of every tweet or Facebook post, but the reality is that we’d then need to employ basically every human being alive to be researching context. Low level content moderators tend to only have a few seconds to make decisions on content, or the entire process slows to a crawl, and then the media will slam those companies for leaving “dangerous” content up too long. So tradeoffs are made, and often that means that understanding context is a casualty of the process. And, of course, that leads to some ridiculous (and hilarious) results. Here are three recent ones that came across my radar. First, someone marketing a tabletop roleplaying game discovered that when they tried to purchase ads on Facebook and Instagram marketing their TTRPG, they had their entire account shut down because they used the word “supplement.”

      • Illinois Lawmaker Proposes Unconstitutional Ban Of ‘GTA’ In Response To Carjackings

        If ever there were a stupid, unconstitutional notion that appears to be evergreen, it must certainly be attempts at outright banning games from the Grand Theft Auto series. While a certain segment of public officials have long sought to blame video games generally for all the world’s ills, the GTA series has been something of a lightning rod for attempted censorship. Honestly, it’s not totally impossible to understand why. The game is a violent, humorous parody of modern American life and pop culture, taken to such extremes so as to artistically point out the flaws in our society.

      • India’s New Cyber Law Goes Live: Subtracts Safe Harbor Protections, Adds Compelled Assistance Demands For Intermediaries

        New rules for social media companies and other hosts of third-party content have just gone into effect in India. The proposed changes to India’s 2018 Intermediary Guidelines are now live, allowing the government to insert itself into content moderation efforts and make demands of tech companies some simply won’t be able to comply with.

      • Content Moderation Case Study: Removing Nigerian Police Protest Content Due To Confusion With COVID Misinfo Rules (2020)

        Summary: With the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the large social media companies very quickly put in place policies to try to handle the flood of disinformation about the disease, responses, and treatments. How successful those new policies have been is subject to debate, but in at least one case, the effort to fact check and moderate COVID information ran into a conflict with people reporting on violent protests (totally unrelated to COVID) in Nigeria.

      • What will changing Section 230 mean for the [Internet]?

        Section 230, which turned 25 years old this month, has played a central role in shaping the [Internet]. Over the past year, Congress has introduced several proposals to change the law — some of them drastic — but the bills have often focused on a handful of very large tech companies like Facebook and Google. In reality, Section 230 has created a lot of the web as we know it.

        On Monday, March 1st, we’re holding an event on Section 230 and the future of tech regulation. After a keynote from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), I’ll be sitting down with Wikimedia Foundation general counsel Amanda Keton, Vimeo general counsel Michael Cheah, and writer and strategist Sydette Harry to discuss how changing Section 230 could change the web. For a broader sense of its impact, however, I also spoke to a range of companies, nonprofits, legal experts, and others with a stake in preserving or reforming the law.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • US implicates Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi’s killing

        The intelligence findings were long known to many U.S. officials and, even as they remained classified, had been reported with varying degrees of precision. But the public rebuke of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is still a touchstone in U.S-Saudi relations. It leaves no doubt that as the prince continues in his powerful role and likely ascends to the throne, Americans will forever associate him with the brutal killing of a journalist who promoted democracy and human rights.

        Yet even as the Biden administration released the findings, it appeared determined to preserve the Saudi relationship by avoiding direct punishment of the prince himself despite demands from some congressional Democrats and Khashoggi allies for significant and targeted sanctions.

      • US says Saudi prince approved killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, mum on Jared Kushner role

        Much of the evidence detailed in the report remains classified, although the report does make explicit mention of bin Salman’s role in the murder. The conclusion was based on what intelligence officials knew about political activity within the Saudi Kingdom, including the involvement of one of the Crown Prince’s key advisers, Saud al-Qahtani, as well as members of his security detail.

      • Report: Saudi Crown Prince Approved Khashoggi Operation

        Human rights advocates condemned the Biden administration’s decision not to target the crown prince personally. “To avoid imposing these sanctions on Mohammed bin Salman would undermine the credibility of the sanctions that have been imposed on the other culprits,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, the organization founded by Khashoggi shortly before his murder. Amrit Singh, lawyer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, which attempted to sue the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to release the report, called the decision “unconscionable.”

      • Saudi Prince Approved Khashoggi Killing, U.S. Intel Report Concludes

        The two-page report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, based the conclusions on MBS’s “control of decision-making in the Kingdom,” the involvement of his advisers and “elite personal protective detail” in the operation, as well as the prince’s “support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.”

        According to the report, when Khashoggi was murdered, MBS had “absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence operations,” meaning it is not likely that he would have been unaware of the operation to kill Khashoggi. And because MBS “fostered an environment” where aides who failed to complete tasks were fired or arrested, “aides were unlikely to question [his] orders or undertake sensitive actions without his consent.” Finally, the report says that MBS “viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom” and supported using violent means to “silence him.”

      • U.S. officially points the finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi killing

        A long-awaited American intelligence report made public Friday concludes that the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia approved the gruesome political killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for the Washington Post.

        While that overall conclusion by the CIA and other agencies about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was first reported two years ago, its official publication on U.S. government letterhead shines a spotlight on the dilemma facing President Joe Biden, who has emphasized the importance of human rights in foreign policy but is not prepared to cut ties with a key American ally.

      • Jamal Khashoggi: US says Saudi prince approved Khashoggi killing

        The report released by the Biden administration says the prince approved a plan to either “capture or kill” Khashoggi.

        The US announced sanctions on dozens of Saudis but not the prince himself.

      • The CIA blames MBS for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

        Perhaps America’s spies know more than they let on. What they released was only a redacted version of a classified report. For Mr Trump, though, even that was too much to reveal. Prince Muhammad enjoyed a close relationship with his administration, particularly with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser. In 2019 Congress passed a law that required him to issue an unclassified version which could be made public. Mr Trump ignored it. Bob Woodward, a Washington Post journalist, said the president later bragged about shielding the prince: “I saved his ass,” Mr Trump reportedly said. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone.”

      • US Intelligence Report Singles Out Saudi Crown Prince in Khashoggi Killing

        The report, which said the crown prince likely authorized Khashoggi’s killing or capture, prompted the Biden administration to announce visa restrictions against 76 Saudi citizens. Blinken said they are “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.”

      • The Dissident: Jamal Khashoggi documentary points finger at Saudi Arabia’s crown prince

        Using transcripts obtained from the Turkish government, Fogel’s film suggests that Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post who had exiled himself to the US, was suffocated and then dismembered inside the consulate.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • United States of Trauma
      • Reckoning With a Year of Shared Isolation, Pandemic, and Protest

        Covid-19 sneaked into the world like a thief in the night, so it’ll never be easy to give a precise date for when it began—or when it will end. Still, there are a few rough milestones that can be used to mark its progress through our lives.

      • Caregivers Need Care Too

        “I see a lot of parents break down in here,” said Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, owner of Dee’s Tots, a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, New York. “They don’t want to do this, but they have to go to work and pay their bills. This is the way the world is at the current moment.”

        Nunu and her husband Patrick “Pop-Pop” Hogan are the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Loria Limbal called Through the Night. The film follows three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots. Limbal first learned about Dee’s Tots through an article she read years ago. The stories of these struggling families reminded her of her own mother, who worked the night shift making minimum wage while raising four children. The film is a love letter to those who are expected to work as if they are not a mother, and mother as if they don’t work.

      • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Condemns NYPD Test Deployment of K-9 Robot in Bronx Home

        “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”

      • ‘It’s manic depression or he ate a battery’: Russia’s Foreign Ministry endorses conspiracy-theorist initiative that attributes Alexey Navalny’s near-fatal illness to psychiatric drugs, not a chemical weapon

        Last December, doctors at the Charité Clinic in Berlin, where Alexey Navalny was treated after falling suddenly and gravely ill, published a research paper in the scientific journal The Lancet about “a 44-year-old man” from Russia who survived exposure to a Novichok-group nerve agent. The article didn’t identify Navalny by name, but the Charité Clinic later confirmed in a press release that the patient in question is Alexey Navalny. In January 2021, a little-known German-language website called “World Economy” (run by the pro-Kremlin Russian journalist Alexander Sosnovsky) released an interview with a Swiss neurologist named Vitaly Kozak who claims to have discovered “contradictions” in the report that appeared in The Lancet. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later cited Kozak’s remarks, demanding an explanation from European leaders, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has accused the West of evading “uncomfortable questions” about Navalny’s illness. At Meduza’s request, journalists Anna Vilisova and Ilya Shevelev took a closer look at Dr. Vitaly Kozak.

      • Federal Court Agrees: Prosecutors Can’t Keep Forensic Evidence Secret from Defendants

        For the first time, a federal court has ruled on the issue, and the decision marks a victory for civil liberties.

        EFF teamed up with the ACLU of Pennsylvania to file an amicus brief arguing in favor of defendants’ rights to challenge complex DNA analysis software that implicates them in crimes. The prosecution and the technology vendor Cybergenetics opposed disclosure of the software’s source code on the grounds that the company has a commercial interest in secrecy.

        The court correctly determined that this secrecy interest could not outweigh a defendant’s rights and ordered the code disclosed to the defense team. The disclosure will be subject to a “protective order” that bars further disclosure, but in a similar previous case a court eventually allowed public scrutiny of source code of a different DNA analysis program after a defense team found serious flaws. This is the second decision this year ordering the disclosure of the secret TrueAllele software. This added scrutiny will help ensure that the software does not contribute to unjust incarceration.

      • Fifth Circuit Says Tasing A Person Soaked In Gasoline And Setting Them On Fire Isn’t An Unreasonable Use Of Force

        So, here’s where we’re at in the Fifth Circuit: cops can literally set a person on fire and walk away from it.

      • “The Whole System Needs to be Indicted”: Attorney Benjamin Crump on Overhauling U.S. Policing

        The Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, prohibit federal no-knock warrants, establish a National Police Misconduct Registry and other measures. The legislation, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, is in response to a series of high-profile killings of Black people in 2020 and the nationwide racial justice uprising they sparked. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of Floyd, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other victims of police and racial violence, says the legislation is “crucial” for reforming police culture across the U.S. and reducing violence against Black people. “We need systematic reform,” says Crump.

      • Kamala Harris Could Deliver $15 Minimum Wage If Democrats Really Wanted It

        For one thing, the president could just ask Kamala Harris, the president of the Senate, to overrule the parliamentarian. In fact, one former parliamentarian has said it’s entirely at the VP’s discretion to listen to MacDonough on a ruling like this one or not. And there is ample historical precedent for not listening to the parliamentarian — as Slate reports, “Vice President Hubert Humphrey routinely ignored his parliamentarian’s advice.”

        A coalition of groups — including the Women’s March, UltraViolet, CASA, and the Urban League — sent a letter to Biden Thursday, urging him to do exactly that. But Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain threw cold water on the idea earlier this week, saying the administration would “honor the rules of the Senate.”

        The other option that’s available to Biden? He could ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to have the parliamentarian fired. That’s what the GOP-controlled Senate did back in 2001, when the parliamentarian ruled the Bush tax cut could not be passed through a reconciliation process in circumstances nearly identical to this one. And that might be the redeeming quality some working class voters see in the party — the GOP may be primarily concerned with cutting taxes for the wealthy, but at least, when they say they’re going to do something, they actually get the job done.

      • Fight for $15 Is Also About Forming a Union, St. Louis Workers Emphasize

        Last month, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the U.S., released a fact sheet detailing the transformative potential of the Raise the Wage Act. According to EPI data, the wage increase would benefit nearly 32 million working people — or 21% of the entire U.S. workforce — resulting in an extra $3,300 in annual income on average per affected individual. Notably, 23% of those workers are either a Black or Latinx woman, and more than one in four (28%) have children.

      • Man kills daughter for ‘honour’ in Lahore

        She said her son Yasin also rushed to the scene and suffered a bullet injury in a bid to rescue his sister.

      • Dissenter Weekly: Whistleblowers Expose ‘Software Bug’ Keeping Incarcerated Past Release Dates

        In this edition of “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola covers a “software bug” exposed by whistleblowers, which resulted in hundreds of people staying incarcerated past their release dates.

        Kevin also highlights an update on a previous whistleblower story involving an ICE union deal the Trump administration inked during their last days in office.The show concludes with coverage of a contractor who blew the whistle against Perdue, an agribusiness that produces poultry, and a story from the Grayzone involving leaked files that reveal how the BBC and Reuters were involved in a British covert program to “weaken Russia.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • ‘Life-Changer for Millions’: FCC Approves Program to Help Poor Families Overcome Digital Divide During Pandemic

        “As the pandemic nears its one-year mark, it’s only gotten harder for many people to afford essential internet connections to the remote learning, work, and healthcare services they need.”

      • Study Shows California Telcos Are Simply Letting Their Networks Fall Apart

        On the one hand, it’s understandable that US phone companies companies don’t want to maintain aging copper phone networks in the wake of sagging usage. On the other hand, traditional phone networks are very much still in use (especially among vulnerable elderly populations), many of these DSL lines remain the only option consumers can get thanks to spotty US broadband deployment, and much of the phone and DSL infrastructure was heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. Oh, and as Texas just realized, many of these older copper phone lines still work during disasters, when internet voice services don’t.

      • Judge rules that California can continue with its net neutrality law

        The ISPs and their lobby groups were able to file a motion for an injunction to stop the state from enacting the net neutrality law while the courts figured it out; however, that injunction has officially been denied.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Illumina v MGI Part 2: Has the UK lost its way on the doctrine of equivalents? [Ed: AstraZeneca lobbying regarding patent law ]

          The Actavis questions are used to determine whether an alleged infringement that does not fall under the literal (or normal, purposive) construction of a patent claim, none-the-less falls under the scope of the claim according to the doctrine of equivalents (DoE) as established in Actavis v Eli Lilly ([2017] UKSC 48). The first two Actavis questions ask 1) whether a variant (the alleged infringement) achieves substantially the same result and substantially the same way as the claimed invention and 2) whether this would be obvious to a skilled person at the priority date. If the answer to both questions 1) and 2) is “yes”, the 3rd Actavis question asks whether the skilled person would none-the-less have understood the patentee as intending strict compliance with the literal meaning of the claims, and thus as not covering the variant. The variant infringes under DoE if the answer to question 3 is “no”.

          The 3rd Actavis question can cause cognitive dissonance for patent attorneys trained to draft patent claims which include only those features necessary for defining the core inventive concept. To a patent attorney, the intention for a feature to be limiting might thus be found in the very fact of the inclusion of that feature in the claims. In his guidance on the 3rd Actavis questions, Mr Justice Birss in Illumina v MGI adds a further complication. Mr Justice Birss found that, when answering the 3rd Actavis question, a strict definition in the description excluding a variant was evidence of the patentee’s intention for strict compliance with the literal meaning of the claims. This creates a peculiar situation, in which definitional language in a claim may be non-limiting whilst definitional language in the description is limiting.

        • Appropriateness Of APJ Appointments To Be Argued Monday In Arthrex [Ed: Patent zealots try to scuttle mechanisms by which to throw out fake patents]

          On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in U.S. v. Arthrex (also referred to as Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew, one of the consolidated cases at issue). The appeal, which will address whether the appointment of PTAB judges is constitutional under the Appointments Clause, is the most important patent case being heard by the Court this year, as a negative decision could potentially derail the PTAB’s work entirely.

          [...]

          While there is no single test to be applied to determine if an officer is a principal or inferior officer, there are two general concerns that show up in the case law. The first is whether the officer is subject to the supervision, direction, and/or control of a Senate-confirmed principal officer. The second is whether an officer has policy-making powers that set the policy of the U.S. government.

          With respect to the first concern, supervision and control, the question of the ability to remove an officer from their job has been seen as a particularly important factor. However, while the ability to remove is important, it isn’t the sole way in which supervision and control can be exerted. The ability of a principal officer to direct the fashion in which an inferior officer works is also important, as is the ability of a principal officer to set the policies which the inferior officer applies as part of their work.

          With respect to the second concern, the issue is whether the policy of the United States is set by a politically accountable official, either elected or subject to confirmation by an elected official, or whether policy can be set by officers who are not subject to the same political accountability. This general concern with accountability provides an additional guideline. The ability to set U.S. government policy is a signal that an officer is a principal officer, while lack of such ability is a signal that the officer is an inferior officer.

        • FRAND-Einwand II: Werther and the love of contracts

          Neither of French case law nor of a mood note on a general theme today, like Werther I prefer to suffer with my eternal love for Goethe’s language to evoke the Sisvel vs Haier II decision (FRAND-Einwand II, i.e. Defense FRAND II) of the Bundesgerichtshof (i.e. German Federal Court of Justice) rendered last week ; all with a “French touch” of course (if only to pay homage to recent Daft Punk’s split).

          This ruling follows the important decision of last July in the Sisvel vs Haier case. Although the outcome of the decision had already been revealed by the Court in May, its reasoning had so far remained unknown. Rejecting again Haier’s FRAND defense, the Court explains more precisely its interpretation of the criteria that had been identified in Huawei vs ZTE.

          First of all, it confirms its approach focusing on the overall behavior of the parties, according to which negotiation implies reciprocal obligations. An abuse is only committed in the case of a categorical refusal to take a license or an unreasonable and categorical offer by the holder of the SEP. Thus, the expression of the mere willingness to take a license, for example, will not suffice. The agreement should be the result of a negotiation process in which the interests of the parties can be discussed, so that this discussion can lead to a fair and reasonable balance of interests. It is a flexible and evolutionary conception and not simply strict and static one.

          [...]

          In the end, if the “Defense FRAND 2” decision is not revolutionary, it nevertheless has the merit of elegantly reminding us that the didactics underlying any FRAND negotiation cannot be confined within the strict and imprecise straitjacket of competition law, in which the Court of Justice has attempted to lock it. The ECJ could also benefit from Werther’s adventures: « es genügt, aus tiefstem Herzen zu lieben, um alle anderen freundlich erscheinen zu lassen ».

        • COVID and ViCo: EPO referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal [Ed: Illegal practices referred to judges who are illegally besieged by corrupt EPO management]

          In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a large proportion of the legal sector transitioning to a ‘work from home’ arrangement, with meetings taking place remotely. Non-essential travel has largely been curtailed worldwide and this has raised the issue of in-person European Patent Office hearings.

          At the beginning of the pandemic, the EPO chose to postpone all opposition and appeal hearings, with the hope that they would resume quickly. As it became evident that international travel would remain limited for a long period, the EPO began holding virtual hearings in order to start clearing some of the backlog. At first, hearings only took place via Video Conferencing (ViCo) with the consent of all parties. This led to limited uptake and it was announced in December that from 1 January 2021, appeal hearings could be held by ViCo even without the agreement of the parties concerned. This has been incorporated into new Article 15a RPBA. Similar decisions had previously been taken regarding hearings before the Examining and Opposition Divisions.

      • Copyrights

        • Refriended in Defeat: Australia Strikes a Deal with Facebook

          The Code’s ostensible purpose is to address the inequalities in the news market place by pushing digital giants and news outlets into reaching commercial deals.  Failing to do so will lead to final offer arbitration between the parties, where the independent arbitrator selects one of the deals on offer.  That selection would be binding on both parties.

          Facebook was having none of it, with its managing director for Facebook Australia and New Zealand William Easton stating that the scheme “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”  Left with “a stark choice” – to either comply with the law drafted in ignorance of such realities, “or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia”, Facebook preferred the latter option.  The main objective, then, was for Facebook to press the Australian government to abandon the code altogether or, what was more likely, soften the terms of its application.

        • The Best Summary Of Australia’s News Link Tax / ‘Bargaining Code’

          I’ve been somewhat amazed at the response to Facebook’s decision in Australia to first block news links, in response to a dangerous new law, and then to cave in and cut deals with news organizations to pay for links. Most amazing to me is that otherwise reasonable people in Australia got very angry at me, insisting that I was misrepresenting the tax. They keep insisting it’s not a tax, and that it’s a “competition” response to “unfair bargaining power.” Except, as I’ve discussed previously, there’s nothing to bargain over when you should never have to pay for links. The links are free. There’s no bargaining imbalance, because there’s nothing to bargain over. And, it’s clearly a tax if the only end result is that Google and Facebook have to fork over money because the government tells them to. That’s… a tax.

        • High Court grants, for the first time, website blocking orders targeting cyberlocker and streamripping sites/app and considers that CJEU won’t follow AG Opinion in YouTube/Cyando

          Earlier this week, the High Court of England and Wales issued two website blocking orders, which set new precedent and are the expression of a further development in the rich UK website blocking jurisprudence.

          The orders, which were issued by Miles J further to applications made by record labels that are members of BPI, are the first orders ever granted in the UK to block access to, respectively, a cyberlocker and a number of streamripping sites/app.

          The decisions are also interesting from a broader, EU perspective, in that the judge considered that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is unlikely to follow the position adopted by Advocate General (AG) Saugmandsgaard Øe in his 2020 Opinion, when it decides YouTube/Cyando, C-682/18 and C-683/18 [Katpost here].

          [...]

          I have already discussed the AG Opinion in YouTube/Cyando and considered it one which adopts a ‘regressive’ reading of CJEU case law on the right of communication to the public. The CJEU decision in this case is keenly awaited, though there is no information as to when it might be released.

          Besides its relevance to the construction of Article 3 of the InfoSoc Directive, the position that the CJEU will adopt in this case is likely to also have an impact insofar as the construction of Article 17 of the DSM Directive is concerned (the UK will not transpose it). Although the referrals are obviously not based on Article 17, a discussion of the regime introduced by this provision featured at the hearing and in the parties’ submissions and was also directly dealt with by the AG in his Opinion.

          Ultimately, the AG’s position is that Article 17 would be a change in the law, not a clarification thereof. Miles J did not endorse this reading [for my analysis, see here] and considered that the CJEU will not do that either.

        • Florida Judge Keeps Questioning Copyright Troll’s IP-address Evidence

          Strike 3 Holdings has targeted thousands of alleged BitTorrent pirates in U.S. courts over the past several years, collecting millions of dollars in settlements. Not all judges are pleased with the way Strike 3 operates, however, and Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro is particularly critical of the IP-address evidence.

        • “Grumpy Cat” is Long Gone But Her Copyright Lives On in Court

          Grumpy Cat is no longer with us. Tardar Sauce passed away in 2019 but the humans she shared a house with are keeping her memory alive. They do this in the form of merchandise, but also in court where they have filed over a dozen lawsuits against sellers of counterfeit and copyright-infringing products.

        • From Creativity to Exclusivity: The German Government’s Bad Deal for Article 17

          A glimpse of hope was presented by the German government in a recent discussion paper. While the draft proposal fails to prevent the use of upload filters to monitor all user uploads and assess them against the information provided by rightsholders, it showed creativity by giving users the option of pre-flagging uploads as “authorized” (online by default) and by setting out exceptions for everyday uses. Remedies against abusive removal requests by self-proclaimed rightsholders were another positive feature of the discussion draft.

          However, the recently adopted copyright implementation proposal by the German Federal Cabinet has abandoned the focus on user rights in favor of inflexible rules that only benefit press publishers. Instead of opting for broad and fair statutory authorization for non-commercial minor uses, the German government suggests trivial carve-outs for “uses presumably authorized by law,” which are not supposed to be blocked automatically by online platforms. However, the criteria for such uses are narrow and out of touch with reality. For example, the limit for minor use of text is 160 characters.

          By comparison, the maximum length of a tweet is 280 characters, which is barely enough substance for a proper quote. As those uses are only presumably authorized, they can still be disputed by rightsholders and blocked at a later stage if they infringe copyright. However, this did not prevent the German government from putting a price tag on such communication as service providers will have to pay the author an “appropriate remuneration.” There are other problematic elements in the proposal, such as the plan to limit the use of parodies to uses that are “justified by the specific purpose”—so better be careful about being too playful.

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