How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy — Part IV: Doing The Task

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel at 7:59 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By Gavin L. Rebeiro




1 Acknowledgements

2 Introduction

2.1 Prerequisite Knowledge
2.2 Apparatus

3 Fundamentals

3.1 Communication
3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer
3.3 Drivers
3.4 Operating Systems
3.5 Special Files

4 YOU ARE HERE ☞ Doing The Task

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media
4.2 Connecting Physical Components
4.3 Using Picocom
4.4 OS Installation

5 Thanks

6 OpenPGP Key

A Malicious Hardware

B Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

C Digital Multimeter Tests

Summary: We now spell out the steps taken to actually replace the Raspberry Pi OS with something more trustworthy (for background see Part I, Part II, and Part III)

We’ve now covered enough ground to make the installation of
NetBSD on our Raspberry Spy (over our UTUB) a relatively painless matter.

Let’s go through the process in little steps.

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media

I’m going to grab the appropriate NetBSD image by taking hints from the following:

NetBSD/evbarm on Raspberry Pi tells us everything we need to know to pick the right image. All the sections here related to booting are worth reading at least once. Also read sections about consoles and serial consoles at least once.

Raspberry Pi boot modes is useful if you want to dig deeper into the booting mechanisms of the Raspberry Spy. USB mass storage boot is particularly useful for booting off USB. Trust me, you don’t want to muck around with SD cards; they’re a nightmare.

NetBSD/evbarm can be referenced for general information about NetBSD on ARM boards.

The above links should give you a good idea of what’s going on and what needs to be done with regards to putting a NetBSD on a boot media that goes into a Raspberry Spy.

Let’s go through a concrete example.

My Raspberry Spy is of the model “3 B+” variety so I’m dealing with an ARM64 CPU architecture. We’ll follow along the instructions outlined in Installation procedure for NetBSD/evbarm; pay close attention to the section “NetBSD/evbarm subdirectory structure”; I follow these instructions as I explore Index of pub/NetBSD/NetBSD-9.1/evbarm-aarch64/.

I grab the appropriate image like so:

$ mkdir ~/Downloads/netbsd
$ cd ~/Downloads/minted
$ wget https://cdn.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD/NetBSD-9.1/evb c
 → arm-aarch64/binary/gzimg/arm64.img.gz

Now that we’ve got the image, we can write it to our boot media. I’m going to assume you have an appropriate reader already plugged into your GNU/Linux box. I’ve got my USB thumb drive as “/dev/sdg” on my system. Use the right block device file on your system1. We base our procedure along the lines of “Installation for ARMv7 and AArch64 devices with U-Boot” section from Installation procedure for NetBSD/evbarm:

$ gzip --decompress --keep arm64.img.gz
# dd if=arm64.img of=/dev/sdg bs=1M conv=sync
 → status=progress
$ lsblk -f | grep sdg

We’re going to ignore the minutiae of writing to block devices, bootloaders, and other adjacent topics related to the utilities we just used; that’s left for another time. We care about learning how to use a serial console in this project so we must stay focused on our primary target.

We’re going to have a look at how to make a serial install possible via some editing of the “cmdline.txt” file that now resides in the boot media (on the boot partition which is of type “vfat”):

# mkdir /media/netbsd_image
# mount /dev/sdg1 /media/netbsd_image
# grep "console" < cmdline.txt
# root=ld0a console=fb
# grep "enable_uart" < config.txt
# enable_uart=1

The “console=fb” part is to get out OS image to use the HDMI output. We will get rid of that string from the file “cmdline.txt”. Who needs that anyway? One way to do it2:

# ed cmdline.txt
root=ld0a console=fb
root=ld0a console=fb
# echo ",p" | ed cmdline.txt

Remember to check your edits!

We also ensure that “enable_uart=1” is set in the file “config.txt”:

# echo ",p" | ed config.txt

Everything looks good! Additional useful information on the Raspberry Spy UART can be found in UART configuration. Pretty self-explanatory. That wasn’t so hard. Was it? Note that the following links document the files we’ve been messing around with:

The Kernel Command Line

It’s a good idea to back up the state of your image, at this point3. We can now safely unmount our boot media and get on with the project:

# cd ~
# umount /media/netbsd_image

We change directory, before we unmount, so that we don’t get any “device busy” errors.

We’ve now got our boot media ready. Onwards!

4.2 Connecting Physical Components

Before you power up your UTUB, you should really check that the pins are working properly. The very basic test you should do is to check that the right voltage is being supplied. Check out Appendix C.

The pins on our UTUB and Raspberry Spy that we’re interested are the following:

• Raspberry Spy: Pin6 (Ground), Pin8 (GPIO14, TXD), Pin10 (GPIO15, RXD). You can find the layout in the official GPIO page.

• UTUB: I’ve got a CP2104 UTUB so I’ve got to only worry about the pins marked TX, RX, and GND. I have other pins on the module but they’re not relevant for this task.

We won’t be using any of the voltage pins on the boards because it’s more prone to errors. Just use the USB power supply that comes with your Raspberry Spy.

Don’t plug anything into power for the following sequence. Connect the jump-wires like so:

• Ground on UTUB to Ground (Pin6) on Raspberry Spy.

• TX on UTUB to RX (Pin10) on Raspbery Spy.

• RX on UTUB to TX on (Pin8) Raspberry Spy.

“We won’t be using any of the voltage pins on the boards because it’s more prone to errors.”Don’t make the rookie mistake of matching TX with TX and RX with RX; TX always goes to RX and RX always goes to TX. Keep this in mind, always, when working with UARTs. Colour-coding your jump-wires helps.

We’ll just go over the order of attaching the stuff to do with power on our devices:

• Attach the USB power adapter to the Raspberry Pi without plugging the adapter into the power outlet.

• Attach the UTUB to your GNU/Linux box.

• Attach your USB power adapter to your power outlet.

The logic for the above procedure is that you can ensure that your serial interface is up and running before you start getting input from your Raspberry Spy.

4.3 Using Picocom

Using picocom(1) is simple. All we need to do is select the correct baud rate and give the right device file as a parameter to picocom(1).

I’ll give you an extract from the manual page to enlighten you:

In effect, picocom is not an "emulator" per-se. It is a
simple program that opens, configures, manages a serial
port (tty device) and its settings, and connects to it
the terminal emulator you are, most likely, already
→ using
(the terminal window application, xterm, rxvt, system
console, etc).
When picocom starts it opens the tty (serial port)
given as its non-option argument. Unless the
--noinit option is given, it configures the port to
the settings specified by the option-arguments (or
to some default settings), and sets it to "raw"
mode. If --noinit is given, the initialization and
configuration is skipped; the port is just opened.
Following this, if standard input is a tty, picocom
sets the tty to raw mode. Then it goes in a loop
where it listens for input from stdin, or from the
serial port. Input from the serial port is copied
to the standard output while input from the standard
input is copied to the serial port. Picocom also
scans its input stream for a user-specified control
character, called the escape character (being by
default C-a). If the escape character is seen, then
instead of sending it to the serial-device, the
program enters "command mode" and waits for the next
character (which is called the "function
character"). Depending on the value of the function
character, picocom performs one of the operations
described in the COMMANDS section below.

We use “C-a C-x” (Ctrl+a followed by Ctrl+x)4 to tell picocom(1) to exit; for more, RTFM; in particular, pay close attention to the “COMMANDS” section.

Make sure you’ve set up all the physical connections, as advised. It’s time to attach our UTUB to our GNU/Linux box and then make sure we invoke picocom(1) correctly:

# picocom --baud 115200 /dev/ttyUSB0
picocom v3.1

port is         : /dev/ttyUSB0
flowcontrol     : none
baudrate is     : 115200
parity is       : none
databits are    : 8
stopbits are    : 1
escape is       : C-a
local echo is   : no
noinit is       : no
noreset is      : no
hangup is       : no
nolock is       : no
send_cmd is     : sz -vv
receive_cmd is  : rz -vv -E
imap is         : 
omap is         :
emap is         : crcrlf,delbs
logfile is      : none
initstring      : none
exit_after is   : not set
exit is         : no

Type [C-a] [C-h] to see available commands
Terminal ready

It really is that simple. You’ve now got a serial terminal ready and listening.

4.4 OS Installation

Now that you’ve got a serial terminal operational, all we have to do to install NetBSD on the Raspberry Spy is to plug the USB power adapter into the power outlet. Keep a close eye on what goes on in the output of your serial terminal:

[   7.4246937] root device:
[  11.6252523] use one of: mue0 sd0[a-p] ddb halt reboot
[  11.6252523] root device: sd0
[  13.9755661] dump device (default sd0b):
[  15.7257992] file system (default generic):

You should be promoted to pick a root device. I pick “sd0” as it’s the first ’disk’ offered by NetBSD (which can only be my boot media)5. I go for the suggested defaults, for everything else. No need to overcomplicate things, at this point.

You will probably see your Raspberry Spy reboot once or twice during the OS install process. Just pass the same parameters for the boot device, and you should be good to go.

Eventually, you should be met with the following:

NetBSD/evbarm (arm64) (constty)


If you login as “root”, you should have a nice login shell presented to you.

And we are done! You’ve successfully done some tinkering over a serial terminal. That wasn’t so hard. Was it? You can shutdown your device (halt the OS) like so:

# shutdown -p now
[   910.5814809] The operating system has halted.
[   910.5814809] Please press any key to reboot.

You can now disconnect the power supply from your Raspberry Spy. Then just send “C-a C-x” to picocom(1); after which, you should see:

Thanks for using picocom

Welcome to the world of serial terminals; hack your heart out!
1 The command lsblk -f should help you out here. Don’t wipe the wrong device by accident.
2 If you use another text editor, that’s fine. You really should learn ed(1) at some point though, especially if you want to get into embedded systems.
3 At least keep track of the files that you tweaked. If you use some sort of version-control-system, you get bonus points.
4 I don’t know why the manual doesn’t bother to explicitly mention that these are GNU-Emacs-style key sequences.
5 See the NetBSD sd(4) manpage for details.

Corporations Do Not Represent Communities and Activists, They Just Exploit Them, Discredit Them, and Hijack Their Hard Work

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Video download link

Summary: The AstroTurfing and the Googlebombing campaigns of large corporations would have us believe that genuine activists are toxic and malicious people, whereas corporations exist to save the world from evil people; don’t fall for those Public Relations tactics (a gross inversion of narrative)

FOR quite a few years people have warned abut the hypocrisy of mega-corporations in the field of technology, arguing that they combat racism when they in fact profit from racism. Clyde W. Ford has mentioned this in relation to IBM, which he knows very well, and also Google [1, 2]. Even employees of those companies increasingly become aware that their salaries are paid by institutional racism. Some resign. Some don’t. Some just want to pay the mortgage.

Racism is a real and persistent issue, but it won’t be tackled by corporations that profit from racism. This past week Microsoft did a great deal of veiled racism to distract from its incompetence. The sad thing is that by hijacking popular movements against racism and sexism (Mozilla Corporation does this all the time, even yesterday) those corporations harm the grassroots efforts. They help portray the activists as corporate shills while at the same time berating and demonising real grassroots/community-led efforts.

The video above deals with this difficult subject. It’s considered difficult because of the risk of being taken out of context. In the video I mostly discuss issues we’ve long covered in Techrights and I also show the Googlebombing efforts undertaken by those most culpable. Shame on IBM, shame on Google (also for taking money from Bill Gates for reputation laundering, which he desperately craves and needs), and shame on Microsoft for attacking software freedom while bribing the Linux Foundation for openwashing and greenwashing.

Why the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Blunder is a Lot More Serious and Profound Than the Corporate Media is Willing to Acknowledge

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: As this video points out, the ongoing series by Gavin L. Rebeiro is justified by the fact that the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation continues to work with and some might say for Microsoft; it sold out millions of customers

JUST over a month ago we broke the story about the ‘Raspberry Spy’ and more than a month since then we’re still covering the subject — an issue that has not yet been taken seriously or tackled in any meaningful way by the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation (or RPF).

When we discovered the blunder over a month ago and turned it into a major scandal (lots of articles and videos about it since then) we worried about the misuse of data collected by Microsoft from millions of devices, bearing programms such as EDGI in mind. An associate of ours who suggested a fix said that “everyone so far has been distracted by privacy threat posed to individuals; Microsoft only attacks certain key individuals, everyone else is ignored; the real threat is that Microsoft will send a team to the institutions it detects through this programme: Did RPF just sell out the schools?”

It did, by virtue of helping Microsoft interject proprietary software and surveillance into classrooms. Instead of becoming a ‘Trojan horse’ for computing freedom today what we have is a Trojan horse for Microsoft. It all started in later January, back when the ‘Raspberry Spy’ Foundation secretly planted the malicious code. Here we are in March and there’s no sign of regret or rollback. This is why some have gone as far as wiping the OS from their ‘Raspberry Spy’.

Links 6/3/2021: “SLS” Mitigation and Exiv2/KDE Project

Posted in News Roundup at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Developers Continue Discussing “SLS” Mitigation For The Kernel – Phoronix

        Disclosed by Arm last summer was the Straight Line Speculation (SLS) vulnerability and they were quick to introduce new safeguards against SLS in the GCC and LLVM compilers. The compiler-based mitigations to straight-line speculation involves adding speculation barrier sequences around the vulnerable instructions to prevent speculatively executing instructions around changes in control flow. While compiler developers were quick to add the options, so far the Linux kernel developers are in disagreement still over its importance and the proposed patches that would flip on this option when compiling the ARM Linux kernel.

        While compiler support is out there for hardening against straight-line speculation on ARM, seeing these options utilized by potentially affected software hasn’t been so quick. In February there were Google engineers proposing a kernel option for enabling the ARM SLS mitigation. The kernel patch is for basically enabling the “-mharden-sls=” compiler option for inserting speculation barrier (SB) instructions or otherwise DSB+ISB instructions around the instructions vulnerable to SLS.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install VirtualBox on Manjaro 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install VirtualBox on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, VirtualBox is open-source cross-platform virtualization software for x86 architecture and this software allows you to create and run guest operating systems (“virtual machines”) such as Linux and Windows on top of the host operating system.

        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 VirtualBox on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

      • How to Install and Configure Nagios in Ubuntu Linux

        Nagios is a robust continuous and real-time monitoring tool to monitor your organizations and servers. Nagios can be installed on Ubuntu Linux desktop and server system for both manual and automatic monitoring. If you have a company that runs server-level operations, you probably need continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tools to make your production rate faster and better.

        Nagios can help you to grow your company by providing better analysis. However, if you have a software production company, you can look at the Jenkins server features. Jenkins and Nagios both can be used in Linux through a plugin arrangement.

      • Linux Filesystem Error: Transaction failed when using LXD – nixCraft

        I am a big fan of LXD, a next-generation Linux system container manager and default on Ubuntu. It allows me to run desktop apps or server apps in an isolated environment. Ubuntu provides LXD with robust security in mind. However, this might lead to undesired side effects, such as individual packages under OpenSUSE or CentOS Linux may not be updated. One such package is the filesystem package. Let us see how to fix Error: Transaction failed when you try to update filesystem package under CentOS, OpenSUSE, and other Linux containers running under LXD.

      • Creating Text | Inkscape

        This is the fourth of Inkscape For Students the series after we learned about Fonts before, now we will learn how to create text. When doing design with computer, you will find text is an important part — you will earn so much by just learning text alone. This is why this series invite you to practice firstly with text before shapes and colors. Now let’s learn and practice!

      • Making 12factor Elixir/Phoenix releases

        Elixir had a bad reputation for its deployment story due to the complex tooling and compile-time configuration preference. That is history now as we can easily make Elixir v1.11 releases with the runtime configuration to adhere to the 12factor style of deployment.

        If you don’t know what 12factor is, it’s a document made at Heroku with recommendations how to design your applications. Although the purpose was most likely about stirring people into making applications that would run smoothly on the Heroku platform, it’s a quite sensible set of recommendations.

        I don’t think you have to adhere to 12factor at all costs, but some points make sense. This post is namely about section III., which recommends storing configuration in an environment. Something a bit problematic in Elixir before, but something I always wanted.

        Sections on dependencies and logs are also relevant, while sections on stateless processes and concurrency might not apply to us as Beam has its own lightweight stateful processes. However, you can decide to keep Elixir nodes stateless and use something like Redis.

      • How to Use Scanline Sync and Cap FPS In RivaTuner – Make Tech Easier

        While RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) is most well-known for being bundled with MSI Afterburner and used for monitoring and overclocking GPUs, RTSS actually has some use separate from Afterburner. Here, we discuss those functions and teach you how to use them to cap your FPS (frame per second) or enable Scanline Sync.


        FPS in this context refers to Frames Per Second, and on PCs where you have an FPS exceeding your refresh rate (such as 100 FPS on a 60 HZ panel), you’re much more prone to screen tearing and highly-variable FPS. Both of these can be visually disorienting and a competitive disadvantage, but the seemingly only way to fix it in most games is to enable some form of V-Sync, which is much more visually consistent but adds a lot more input latency.

        Using an FPS cap, you can set your in-game framerate to just at or just under your screen refresh rate. If the game you’re playing offers an FPS cap, chances are high that you’ll want to use that cap instead of RivaTuner’s, but if you want to learn how to use RivaTuner’s for universal application, keep reading.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Itinerary @ German Open Transport Meetup

          The German Open Transport Meetup started mid last year, as a get-together for anyone interested or involved in mobility or transportation in general, and in Open Data/Free Software in that context in particular.

          Being forced to be virtual from the start due to the pandemic is probably what gave it the critical mass to keep up the unusual high pace for such an event with its bi-weekly rhythm, and with no shortage on topics in sight.

          Many of the things discussed at the meetup so far had immediate impact on KDE Itinerary (and the KPublicTransport library in particular), the biggest example probably being the rental bike/scooter support. A large number of the attendees actually working for local or national transport operators or public administration has also been invaluable for getting first-hand access and insights.

        • Exiv2 project submission to the KDE community
          Ladies and Gentlemen:
          I am writing to you on behalf of the Exiv2 project https://exiv2.org.
          Exiv2 is a C++ library and a command-line utility to read, write, delete
          and modify Exif, IPTC, XMP and ICC image metadata. It is widely used in the
          Linux ecosystem and part of many applications such as digiKam, Gimp,
          darktable and many more.
          The Exiv2 project is hosted at the moment on GitHub (
          https://github.com/Exiv2/exiv2). We would like to evaluate the possibility
          of onboarding the Exiv2 project into the KDE community.
          The project is in good shape and the next release is scheduled to ship May
          2021. There is a small group of people who frequently contribute to the
          project.  However the current maintainer, Robin Mills, is retiring at the
          age of 70 after 13 years of service to the project.  Robin has written a
          book about the project and discusses every aspect of both the Exiv2
          Architecture and Image Metadata Standards.
          Last Saturday (2021-02-27) there was a meeting concerning the future of the
          Exiv2 and we tried to find a new maintainer.  Regrettably because of the
          time demand imposed on the maintainer, no one volunteered.  By joining the
          KDE community we hope to address this issue and keep this important project
          alive. The meeting notes can be found on the GitHub issue (
          In addition to finding a new maintainer, being part of KDE would bring
          Exiv2 into the Open Invention Network.  We are very interested in this
          aspect of KDE as it mitigates risks involved in patent discussions.
          Alex Esseling and Robin Mills
        • Exiv2 Looks To Team Up With The KDE Project

          Exiv2, the widely-used C++ metadata library / tools for dealing with image metadata via EXIF / IPTC / XMP standards and ICC profiles is looking to join the KDE project.

          This C++ library and CLI tools for dealing with image metadata is widely used already in the open-source world, including by several KDE programs like Krita, digiKam, and KPhotoAlbum. Software outside of KDE like GIMP and Darktable also leverage this image metadata library.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • Manage containers on Raspberry Pi with this open source tool

          Containers became widely popular because of Docker on Linux, but there are much earlier implementations, including the jail system on FreeBSD. A container is called a “jail” in FreeBSD terminology. The jail system was first released in FreeBSD 4.0 way back in 2000, and it has continuously improved since. While 20 years ago it was used mostly on large servers, now you can run it on your Raspberry Pi.

          Jails vs. containers on Linux

          Container development took a very different path on FreeBSD than on Linux. On FreeBSD, containerization was developed as a strict security feature in the late ’90s for virtual hosting and its flexibility grew over the years. Limiting a container’s computing resources was not part of the original concept; this was added later.

          When I started to use jails in production in 2001, it was quite painful. I had to prepare my own scripts to automate working with them.

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • The Document Foundation updates LibreOffice Community to 7.1.1

        A month after version 7.1 of LibreOffice hit the streets, the first update has landed replete with a swathe of bug fixes for the suite.

        The fixes lurk in the Community edition of LibreOffice, aimed squarely at enthusiasts and early adopters. The Document Foundation (TDF) would much prefer biz customers sign up for something from the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications, with “long-term support options, professional assistance, custom features and Service Level Agreements” for a fee.

        The 90 or so fixes deal with a wide variety of niggles that came as part of the 7.1 release. Notable resolved issues include a regression that resulted in a crash when undoing a paste under certain circumstances, and a pesky enter character that could find its way into the input boxes of CALC after copying from a cell and pasting. Minor, for sure, but maddening if one was afflicted by it.

        More serious problems dealt with include a borked print range when CALC files with external links are saved and reopened and some full-on crashes around the COUNTIF function.

      • Daffodil Promoted To Being An Apache Top-Level Project

        Following the recent promotions of DataSketches and ECharts, the Apache Software Foundation has promoted Daffodil as their newest top-level project. Apache Daffodil is an open-source universal interchange implementation of the Data Format Description Language (DFDL).

        The Data Format Description Language (DFDL) standard is a modeling language for text and binary data in a standardized manner. DFDL basically aims to make data more portable thanks to providing an open framework for describing any data format.

  • Leftovers

    • Conspiracy Theories

      Sometimes they never come to light; more often, they do, but only after, sometimes long after, they are executed or aborted. And sometimes they happen in plain view.

      The term has negative connotations. Inasmuch as conspirators generally conspire for what they take to be worthwhile purposes, this is odd, to say the least. But the dictionaries insist.

    • Leftwing Pokémon

      A couple of years later, I testified at the Winter Soldier Hearings in Silver Springs, Maryland, where dozens of veterans shared stories about war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I arrived at the venue, an older Vietnam veteran came up to me and said, “Vinny! We’re gonna end this war! Those fuckers in the White House will have to respond to us now. No way they [the media and politicians] can ignore the vets!” He believed in the power of narrative and symbolic protest, a victim of the post-1968 left political culture.

      Unfortunately yet predictably, in hindsight, the powers that be did ignore the Winter Soldier Hearings — as did 99% of Americans who never even knew the event happened. Tens of thousands of dollars spent (perhaps hundreds of thousands). Leftwing media abound. The results? Some new donors and members. The strategy? There was none. The whole event was a performative and symbolic spectacle meant to “shift the narrative” — typical NGO babble.

    • ‘When Other People Tell Our Stories, They Get It Wrong and Cause Us Great Harm’

      The February 26, 2021, episode of CounterSpin included an archival interview Janine Jackson conducted with Joseph Torres of Free Press about his book News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, originally aired December 23, 2011. This is a lightly edited transcript.

    • The Odyssey of An Wei, the Forest Gump of China

      Born in a small village some distance from the northwestern city of Xian, An Wei was seven years old when Mao took control of the country in 1949. As the son of peasants, he was part of the first generation of schoolchildren to get a Communist education. He participated in the new communes of the Great Leap Forward, starved during the famines of the early 1960s, and suffered through the Cultural Revolution. Working as an English translator, he helped China build bridges to the West and join the international community. Later in life, he served as a Communist Party leader in the remote village where he was born, fighting against endemic corruption and for grassroots democracy.

      In Nancy Pine’s fascinating biography, One in a Billion, An Wei emerges as the Forest Gump of China. He was not only present for all of the major events that took place after 1949 but even shows up in pictures cheek and jowl with famous personages like Jimmy Carter, Edward Heath, and Helen Foster Snow. But even China scholars will not likely be familiar with An Wei’s story, for he himself is not famous. He is neither a leader nor a dissident. He is just one of the many Chinese who have lived through tumultuous times far from the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

    • Don’t Stop Thinking About (Tom) Tomorrow

      Dan Perkins was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1961, back in the days when the future still existed. The Kennedy presidency and the New Frontier gave birth to the last plausible and widely shared utopian moment, one that outlived John Kennedy’s own assassination by a few years but ultimately withered in the face of increasing pessimism. It was the Apollo epoch, the time of the space race, of American engineering and technocratic mastery, of scientists in crew cuts who promised health and happiness via gizmos and pills, of slick and streamlined advertising and pulp art merging with high culture in the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and of science fiction dreams entering the public imagination via Star Trek. In that giddy moment, even so misanthropic an artist as Stanley Kubrick could dream, as he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), of humanity making an alien-assisted evolutionary leap into the stars.1

    • Reporters’ Alert: Launching a New Website

      There are some fine reporters, like David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post, Charlie Savage of the New York Times, and David Brancaccio of NPR, who do pick up their phones or promptly return calls. When I asked Fahrenthold why he responds to calls he replied that that was how he gets stories. Years ago, that would have been such an obvious explanation, as not to be uttered.

      Citizen groups constantly have ideas and industry documents and materials they have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that they are willing to share with reporters. But they too often cannot easily get through to key reporters. Some stop trying. They wonder why today’s media mavens do not replicate the reporting of their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s. Their newsworthy reporting and editorializing helped mightily in the success with Congress by the emerging consumer, environmental, civil rights, and other reform groups. A better, safer country resulted from solid reporting on the drives for justice waged by citizen groups.

    • Award-Winning Playwright, Longtime Common Dreams Contributor Bill C. Davis Dies at 69
    • Planned Human Obsolescence

      Setting a time for meeting the class online is doable for some, but many lives are too disrupted to do so reliably, and so many students are choosing courses that are “asynchronous,” that is, which require participation at a time during each week when it works for the student, but no required time to all meet online as a class.

      This makes the cascading scheduling challenges for students with children more manageable. I see their written posts timestamped at odd hours, often when their children—who are themselves in school from home online for many hours a day—are asleep.

    • The Scarlatti App

      Hand-crossing was the domestic keyboard workout of choice for the eighteenth-century virtuoso and amateur. The most flamboyant purveyor of the technique was Domenico Scarlatti, born in 1685, the same year as Bach and Handel. An Italian who spent most of his career on the Iberian Peninsula, Scarlatti outlived his celebrated contemporaries. Maybe his keyboard calisthenics gave him the edge in the longevity race.

      The apparatus of choice the harpsichord, the piano still the new kid on the keyboard block. Either apparatus—or the organ—worked for Scarlatti’s self-improvement schemes. His collection of thirty sonatas (opening the catalog of his works as K. 1-30) were published as the Esserzici (exercises) in London in late 1738 or early 1739. For those who had the money to buy this sumptuous volume, here was a hand-crossing workout regime graduated in difficulty from the almost relaxed to the downright sadistic.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Bad Stimulus: the Problems with Biden’s COVID Relief Package

        Biden’s stimulus is not the stuff of economic revolution—it’s a mix of common sense and keeping the lights on. And the fundamental thinking behind the stimulus approach reflects a continuation of neoliberal policies of the past 40 years; instead of advancing broader social programs that could uplift the population, the solutions are predicated on improving individual purchasing power and family circumstances. Such a vision of society as a collection of enterprising individuals is a hallmark of the neoliberal policy formula—which, as the stimulus bill is about to make clear, is still prevalent within the Democratic and the Republican parties. This attention to individual purchasing power promises to be the basis for bipartisan agreement over the next four years.

        The reality is that social programs on health care and education, and a new era of labor and banking regulation, would put the wider society on sounder feet than a check for $1,400.

      • The Private Health Insurance Industry: Should It Be Eliminated?

        Despite the industry’s ongoing claims that it serves us well as the backbone of financing U. S. health care, it has abused the public trust and become a barrier to urgently needed health care reform that can assure access to affordable health care of improved quality for all Americans. Here are compelling reasons to replace the industry with a not-for-profit public financing system such as universal coverage under Medicare for All:

        With its dependence on a failing system of employer-sponsored coverage, an outdated private health insurance industry does not deserve ongoing federal bailouts. Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon and public health researcher, is spot on with this insight:

      • House Progressives Urged to ‘Wield Their Power’ to Fight Senate Sabotage of Covid-19 Relief Bill

        “Democrats as a whole will pay the electoral price if they fail. The costs will not be simply borne by a few moderates who buck the Democrats’ popular agenda items.”

      • ‘We Need to Be on a War Footing’: Head of WHO Calls for Vaccine Patent Waivers to Halt Pandemic

        “Dr. Tedros is right,” said Oxfam International. “It’s time to end vaccine monopolies.”

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • At Least 30,000 U.S. Organizations Newly Hacked Via Holes in Microsoft’s Email Software

            At least 30,000 organizations across the United States — including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments — have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that’s focused on stealing email from victim organizations, multiple sources tell KrebsOnSecurity. The espionage group is exploiting four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server email software, and has seeded hundreds of thousands of victim organizations worldwide with tools that give the attackers total, remote control over affected systems.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Defence/Aggression

      • FBI Arrests Former Trump Appointee for Role in January 6 Capitol Breach
      • Why Are We Still Giving the Pentagon More Money?

        This country is in a crisis of the first order. More than half a million of us have died thanks to Covid-19. Food insecurity is on the rise, with nearly 24 million Americans going hungry, including 12 million children. Unemployment claims filed since the pandemic began have now reached 93 million. Given the level of damage to the less wealthy parts of this society, it’s little wonder that most Americans chose pandemic recovery (including the quick distribution of vaccines) as their top-priority issue.

      • Roaming Charges: No Neanderthal Ever Bombed Syria

        + But what about the airstrikes themselves, Barbara, and the people they killed? Are your objections merely procedural? Would they have been “OK” if Congress had authorized them, as they likely would have?

        + How to decode NYT stories: The headline proclaims Biden’s bombing targeted “Iran-backed militias.” The story itself says: “Little is known about the group, including whether it is backed by Iran or related to the organizations that used the facilities the American airstrikes targeted on Thursday.” But the headlines sell the wars…

      • Biden, Afghanistan and Forever Wars

        The Afghanistan imbroglio for US planners raises the usual problems.  Liberals and Conservatives find themselves pillow fighting over similar issues, neither wishing to entirely leave the field.  The imperium demands the same song sheet from choristers, whether they deliver it from the right side of the choir or the left.  The imperial feeling is that the tribes of a country most can barely name should be somehow kept within an orbit of security.  To not do so would imperil allies, the US, and encourage a storm of danger that might cyclonically move towards other pockets of the globe.

        It never occurs to the many dullard commentators that invading countries such as Afghanistan to begin with (throw Iraq into the mix) was itself an upending issue worthy of criminal prosecution, encouraged counter-insurgencies, theocratic aspirants and, for want of a better term, terrorist opportunists.

      • Trump and Biden’s Secret Bombing Wars

        The Western media reported the U.S. airstrike as an isolated and exceptional incident, and there has been significant blowback from the U.S. public, Congress and the world community, condemning the strikes as illegal and a dangerous escalation of yet another Middle East conflict.

        But unbeknownst to many Americans, the U.S. military and its allies are engaged in bombing and killing people in other countries on a daily basis. The U.S. and its allies have dropped more than 326,000 bombs and missiles on people in other countries since 2001 (see table below), including over 152,000 in Iraq and Syria.

      • Killer Kim Reynolds and the Fascist State of Iowa

        Trumpism-fascism is far from dead in Iowa (and in many other “red states”). The anti-science white nationalist MAGA party has a stranglehold here. It holds the governors’ office, 32 of 50 seats in the state senate, 59 of 100 seats in the state house, 5 of the 7 state supreme court seats, both of the state’s 2 US Senate seats, and 3 of the state’s 4 US House seats.

        I have no love for the dismal, dollar-drenched, neoliberal Democrats in Iowa or anywhere else, but this lopsided Republifascist representation (enabled to no small extent by the Weimar-like Dems) comes with lethal consequences.

      • ACLU to Biden: Do Not ‘Review’ Drone Killing Program—End It Once and for All

        “Tinkering with the bureaucracy of this extrajudicial killing program will only entrench American abuses,” said the group’s national security expert.

      • Taking War Personally

        So wrote Stephen Zunes, in the wake of Joe Biden’s first act of murder as president . . . excuse me, his first act of defensive military action: bombing a border post in Syria last week, killing 22 of our enemies. This action, of course, will quickly be forgotten. “The United States has bombed Syria more than 20,000 times over the past eight years,” Zunes notes, adding:

        “The United States began bombing these ancient lands 30 years ago, at the start of the Gulf War. The U.S. has continued bombing Iraq and neighboring countries on and off ever since. Each time, we have been told that doing so would protect American interests and help bring peace and stability to the region. Yet each period of airstrikes has brought more suffering, more violence, less security and greater instability.”

      • Opinion | Biden’s Bombing of Syria Is a Dangerous Step Backward

        Latest military attack shows that the new President hasn’t broken from the failed policies of the past.

      • ‘We Need to Make Sure It’s Done Right’: Peace Advocates Welcome Biden Move to Limit War Powers

        The president and Congress, said one leading anti-war campaigner, “must work together to actually end the decades long fighting, killing, dying, and spending that is on automatic pilot.”

      • When Do the Rules Apply?

        Biden had campaigned on revitalizing U.S.-Iran relations by rejoining the nuclear deal that Trump had walked away from. Yet, like so many presidents before him, he reached for the military option rather than a diplomatic one.

        This isn’t surprising. But it is illegal.

      • Hugo Chávez’s Legacy: Unity and Anti-imperialism
      • As Labor Secretary, Will Marty Walsh Represent All Workers?

        This responsibility has been much on my mind in recent weeks with President Joe Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be his administration’s secretary of labor.

        On the surface, one might think that I should join much of the rest of the press corps in celebrating this as a good common sense move on Biden’s part. In fact, given my background as a “labor guy” and Walsh’s lifelong commitment to the labor movement, it would seem the height of petulance for me to do anything other than sing his praises and express excitement that someone from “my team” is in charge of labor policy for the federal government.

      • NATO Video Talks ‘Diversity, Respect, Embrace’ But Critics See Through the Wash Job

        Earlier this week, NATO put out a promotional video celebrating their diversity. The heavily-produced video featured a range of smiling people of all ages, genders and races, painting the international military alliance as a progressive force.

      • Blood for Oil

        Thirty years ago, when the United States launched Operation Desert Storm against Iraq, I was a member of the Gulf Peace Team. We were 73 people from 15 different countries, aged 22 to 76, living in a tent camp close to Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia, along the road to Mecca.

        We aimed to nonviolently interpose ourselves between the warring parties. Soldiers are called upon to risk their lives for a cause they may not know much about. Why not ask peace activists to take risks on behalf of preventing and opposing wars?

      • Biden Acts with Impunity (to Send Iran a Message, by Attacking Iraqis in Syria)

        In March 2003, in the worst crime of the 21st century, a war-based-on-lies led by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. invaded and destroyed the modern country of Iraq, generating mass flight and civil war. Half a million people were killed and the suffering continues.

        Too soon do we forget the magnitude of the atrocity, including the cheerful murderous bombing sprees revealed by Wikileaks, the Abu Ghraib torture, the ignorant mishandling of Sunni-Shiite issues, the civil war and terror engendered by the criminal occupation. During the Trump years our attention’s been focused on one evil man, who happens to have actually pursued a policy of withdrawal from the Middle East. We forget how the man now president supported this war enthusiastically and praised his son Beau for his “service” in Iraq in 2008-9 when the oppressive, imperialist nature of the (de facto ongoing) occupation was perfectly clear.

      • US, Allies Drop 46 Bombs Per Day for 20 Years in Middle East and Africa

        The United States and its allies have dropped at least 326,000 bombs and missiles on countries in the greater Middle East/ North Africa region since 2001. That is the conclusion of new research by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of anti-war group CODEPINK.

      • We Must Protect the Squad!

        What’s being done to ensure members of the squad are protected from future attacks by violent white terrorists? No, really—I’m asking. This group of Black and brown congresswomen has long been the target of right-wing terror. In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib received so many death threats that they asked to be informed only if they were “credible and imminent.”

      • Withdrawing US Troops From Afghanistan Is Only a Start. We Have to End the Air War Too.

        In recent months talk of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has increased once again. It’s not the first time during the course of the nearly two-decades-long war that we’ve heard this, and at several points since the war began in 2001, some troops have actually been withdrawn. But somehow, almost 20 years in, there still isn’t very much talk about what it will actually take to end US actions that kill civilians. We hear talk about the “forever wars,” of which Afghanistan is of course the longest, but not much about what their first perpetrator, President George W. Bush, named the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT)—and the effect that that’s had.

    • Environment

      • ‘Good Jobs for All’: Sunrise Movement Launches Campaign to Fight Climate Crisis With Work Guarantee

        “With so much work to do building a better society that works for all of us, there’s no reason anyone in the richest country in the history of the world should be unemployed, underemployed, or working a job that isn’t in the public interest.”

      • Approaching a Risky 1.5°C Global Overshoot

        As described in the report, nations are not meeting their voluntary commitments to decrease carbon emissions, especially based upon the Paris ‘15 goals to decelerate CO2 emissions of cars, trains, planes, and collectively, the human-generated colossus. (Source: We Are Nowhere Near Keeping Warming below 1.5°C Despite Climate Plans, NewScientist, February 26, 2021)

        According to data provided by the 74 nations that have reported to the much-heralded Paris climate accord, collectively, their plans are to reduce emissions by 2030 to 0.5% of 2010 levels, which is inadequate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly stated that global emissions be reduced by 45%, otherwise, there’s no chance of staying below 1.5°C. (Source: Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for Policymakers, IPCC, 2018)

      • Economic Growth is the Cause of Climate Change, Not the Solution to It

        This relationship between GDP and greenhouse gas emissions is more than a statistical anomaly. It is evidence of the causal relationship between them. And because GDP can be stated in terms of income, responsibility for climate change is approximated through the distribution of income. Those with higher incomes are responsible for a greater quantity of climate change than those with lower incomes. This assignment of responsibility works at the level of nations and economic class. Rich nations are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than poor. And the global rich bear more responsibility than the global poor.

        In a world where capital is both fungible and mobile, the framing of greenhouse gas emissions within national geographical boundaries— as the Paris Climate Accord and other environmental agreements do, substantively misrepresents the political economy that produces them. Additionally, while technological innovation is both welcomed and encouraged here, the declining rate of economic growth since the neoliberal epoch began explains the declining rate of growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, bottom-up theorizing about the impact of green technologies isn’t yet showing up in this top-down data.

      • Ancient tree shows result of magnetic pole switch

        A preserved ancient tree trunk records the story of a climate catastrophe more than 40 millennia ago. It could happen again.

      • From the Murder of Berta Cáceres to the Dam Disaster in Uttarakhand

        In addition to being sacred to the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, the Gualcarque River is a primary source of water for them to grow their food and harvest medicinal plants. Dams can flood fertile plains and deprive communities of water for livestock and crops. The Lenca knew what could happen if the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) were to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque. As Nina Lakhani describes in Who Killed Berta Cáceres?, the La Aurora Dam, which started generating electricity in 2012 “left four miles of the El Zapotal River bone dry and the surrounding forest bare.”

        In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing opposition to the Agua Zarca. She had been a co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The following year, thousands of Lenca marched to the capital Tegucigalpa demanding schools, clinics, roads and protection of ancestral lands. Indigenous groups uniting with them included Maya, Chorti, Misquitu, Tolupan, Tawahka and Pech. Lakhani describes that “From the north coast came the colorfully dressed, drumming Garifunas: Afro-Hondurans who descend from West and Central African, Caribbean, European and Arawak people exiled to Central America by the British after a slave revolt in the late eighteenth century.”

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

      • ‘They Should Be Ashamed’: With Jobless Benefits to Expire in 9 Days, Republicans Pull Out All Stops to Obstruct Relief Bill

        “When Sen. Johnson voted to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, he didn’t force staff to read the bill. But now that working people need help, he’s forcing a delay.”

      • Paid Sick and Family Leave Can’t Wait

        I was consumed with anxiety not just about her health, but also about money. How much time would she need to take off work? Would her rent and bills be paid on time or at all? Could I afford to help cover some of these costs for her?

        My mother works a low-wage job in medical billing at a small doctor’s office. Unlike me, she doesn’t have the option to work from the safety of her home and physically interacts with patients on a daily basis. Her job offers only three paid sick days a year — with no other form of paid leave.

      • How Financial Policy Drives Economic Inequality…and How to Fix It
      • Opinion | Jobs Report Shows Congress Must Pass Full $1.9 Trillion Relief Package Immediately

        The $1.9 trillion relief and recovery bill being considered in Congress this week is exactly what workers and their families need right now.

      • Princes Among Thieves

        Throughout the trump White House years, she was the Secretary of Education. In that capacity she did so many great things for the education of wealthy children that it is hard to recall them all.  A couple of her more recent ones, however, serve as good examples of her efforts on their behalf. During the second month of the COVID 19-pandemic in 2020, she demanded that public schools reopen in the fall.  She said that if they didn’t she’d send their money to private and religious schools.  In May she used federal coronavirus relief funds to create a $180 million voucher program for private and religious schools.

        The good works of Betsy and her family were not limited to helping private and religious schools.  In May 2020 it was disclosed that Betsy and other family members had funded the Honest Election Project.  Its  goal was to fight efforts to expand vote-by-mail options in the 2020 elections. Betsy’s brother, Erik Prince, was also  involved in assorted companies that were engaged in non-education ventures.  One of them was Blackwater USA.

      • Digital Currencies Like Bitcoin And Etherium And Tokens Based On Them Are Practically Useless As Of March 2021

        Digital crypto-currencies, based on free open source software, promised banking for the poor and the unbanked, cheap and quick transactions, micro-transactions and a financial revolution. Several cryptocurrencies have great success as speculative instruments and stores of value, but that’s it. All the bigger ones have become practically useless for just about everything else and so have all the smaller ones that don’t have their own blockchain.


        A European SEPA bank transfer is either completely free or very cheap. A VISA debit card will typically have a monthly fee around $3 and a zero per-transaction fee. Credit cards are mostly completely free as long as you pay your bill on time. They do become very expensive very quickly if you don’t.

        Sweden has a very popular and widely adopted bank-to-bank payment smartphone application called Swish. Using it is free. Having the application is free in some banks, others charge a $2-3 monthly fee.

        It is very hard to call a $20 transaction fee competitive or even remotely attractive for someone who wants to send $100 worth to a friend. It is even more ludicrous to pay a $20 fee if you buy a $30 T-shirt in an online store. $20 would, on the other hand, be a small price to pay if you are buying a shiny new electric car from a rocket scientist.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Why Congress Must Pass Voting Rights Reform Now
      • The Supreme Court Is Poised to Find New Ways to Disenfranchise Black Voters

        Earlier this week, the Supreme Court entertained a frontal attack on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Republicans in Arizona, likely still eating their feelings after losing both the presidential election and another Senate seat, have instituted a pair of new voter restrictions aimed directly at depressing the minority vote.

      • “Moderate” Democrats May Obstruct Fundamentally Essential Electoral Reform
      • Media Find ‘Heroes’ in Republicans Who Oppose Trump…and Also Democracy

        Major media outlets have largely come around—a day late and a dollar short—to calling out Trump’s extremism and lies, particularly the Big Lie that the election was stolen (FAIR.org, 1/7/21). But this rejection of Trumpism and the Big Lie goes hand in hand with the elevation of a “reasonable” or “admirable” wing of the GOP, whose own extremism and undermining of democracy are thereby whitewashed.

      • Justice Finally Catches up With Sarkozy

        This is a legal landmark for the French judicial system for two main reasons. First, no former president had been sentenced to an actual prison sentence since France’s collaborationist leader Marshal Pétain in 1945. (This said, Sarkozy’s one-year jail sentence will probably not be spent behind bars, but under house arrest with an electronic tag). The former president Jacques Chirac received a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for embezzling public funds when he was Paris mayor.

        And second, the French judicial system has long been seen as being deferential to the government of the day in sensitive political cases. This court decision definitely runs counter to this tradition. It took a lot of tenacity on the part of the Parquet National Financier (the judicial institution in charge of tracking down complex financial crimes) to counter attempts by Sarkozy and his allies to undermine its authority. In the end, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law prevailed. It was also the triumph of democracy: evidence that no citizen, however powerful he or she might be, is above the law.

      • Marching Through Georgia
      • Opinion | The Choice for Democrats in Congress: Go Big or Go Home.

        The precedent created by letting one or two moderates derail popular legislation supported by the rest of the caucus is truly dangerous.

      • Missing Voters and Missing Unemployed Black Workers

        Just as many people decline to respond to political pollsters, people are increasingly refusing to respond to the various surveys the government’s statistical agencies field to gather data about people’s work, income, and spending patterns. The Current Population Survey (CPS), the main source for information on employment, unemployment, health care coverage, and income has seen a substantial decline in response rates over the last four decades. As of last year, the coverage rate was just over 85 percent, meaning that the CPS did not get responses from almost 15 percent of the households that were targeted for the survey.

        The rates of non-response differ substantially by demographic group. Older people and white people tend to respond at much higher rates than the young and people of color. The lowest response rate is for young Black men, where the coverage rate is less than 70 percent.

      • Late Winter Riot Flicks for the Coming Summer Uprising

        That’s because the 2020 Summer Uprisings were bigger than George Floyd and the institutional racism that lynched him. It was about a whole damn nation pushed to the brink by a daughtering old police state that can lock up half of New Africa but can’t manage a goddamn virus. This nation needed to vent fire and it felt good, even to cripples like me who were too damn sick, even before Covid, to join in the festivities. We could shake our canes from our prison cells and shout ‘give em holy hell’ from behind the bars, and holy hell they did indeed give. So that’s why in these loathsome last days of Winter 2021, this veteran agoraphobic couch potato has picked ten movies to prep you for the next uprising. Most are about social upheaval in one shape or form. Some are merely about the factors that create this discord. All are must see cinema for anyone getting through the night with a brick in their hand. Enjoy!

        La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)–  “Its about society in free fall.” La Haine (French for ‘Hate’) may be the greatest riot movie since The Battle of Algiers because it deals so intimately with what inspires just such an uprising. In stark black and white, La Haine follows three young men through twenty hours between a riot started by the racially charged police murder of a friend and another shocking act of violence that will inevitably inspire the exact same results to repeat themselves all over again. The sense of nihilism is thicker than smog as these lifelong friends struggle not just to escape the ghetto but to escape a fate that seems as inevitable as the sun rising. In spite of the glib humor I use to cope with these issues, an uprising of any kind is nothing to take lightly. It all too often leads to a cycle of pointless violence if it isn’t held with the proper perspective on social justice. “Hatred breeds hatred” as Hubert says. Be careful not to fall into this trap and remember always that the abyss stares back.

      • Rep. Mondaire Jones: Voting Rights Bill H.R. 1 Is of “Foundational Importance” to U.S. Democracy

        The House of Representatives has approved sweeping legislation protecting the right to vote with the For the People Act, which has been described as the most sweeping pro-democracy bill in decades. The legislation is aimed at improving voter registration and access to voting, ending partisan and racial gerrymandering, forcing the disclosure of dark money donors, increasing public funding for candidates, and imposing strict ethical and reporting standards on members of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill, which comes amid a nationwide attack on voting rights in courthouses and statehouses, is heading to the Senate, where it is expected to die unless all 50 Senate Democrats unite to end the filibuster. Democratic Congressmember Mondaire Jones of New York says H.R. 1 is “of foundational importance” to preserving U.S. democracy against Republican attacks on voting. “The modern-day Republican Party cannot compete on the merits of its policy ideas,” says Jones. “Rather, it is seeking to disenfranchise large swaths of the American electorate, especially Black and Hispanic people in Southern states.”

      • Meet the ‘foreign agents’ Drawing on their own pasts, Russian charity workers at Humanitarian Action are helping thousands overcome drug addiction

        Russia’s Justice Ministry added “Humanitarian Action,” a charity based in St. Petersburg, to its list of “foreign agents” in late 2020. The organization works mainly with drug users and people living with HIV, but the authorities decided that it is also engaged in “political activities,” including its employees’ criticisms of government policy on HIV and drug dependence. Humanitarian Action helps thousands of people every year, some of whom manage to overcome their substance abuse. Meduza spoke to three people at the group who now use their own experiences with overcoming addiction to help others.

      • Opinion | Corporate Media Praise Republicans Who Oppose Trump, but Whitewash Their Extremism and Undermining of Democracy

        Their own credulous coverage of the little lies of vote fraud, which went on for decades and their willingness to lionize purveyors of those lies to this day, have played no small role in allowing it to happen.

      • Leftist and Liberal Unite!

        For Peterson, everyone in power was a cultural Marxist, so how could he point to any one person? What is the state of the American left if their symptom is nearly the same as Peterson’s? Of course, it’s more complicated for the American left. Zizek claims the difference between the Stalinists and the Nazis is that the Stalinists sincerely believed in what they were doing. Likewise there is a difference between the American left and American right. The American right sees liberals and leftists as the same. The American left sees itself as the Marxist the right fears, just without the cultural priority. Instead, the left claims to be material.

        Of course here is where I think while the postmodern shift was too critical of Marx, they were at least structural thinkers in the same way as Marx. Thus, when they claimed there was no reality they had a real material argument. Now it’s almost the reverse. Instead of having leading leftist thinkers actively responding to Marx we have an embrace of Marx that isn’t Marxist at all.

      • ‘If Only The President Knew’ – That State of The Union Address You’ll Never Hear or See.

        Well ‘hats off/ tug of forelock ‘as opposed to the more traditional as became Nazi, sense of raise of one arm to Corporatism (the MICC) as similar abuse of belief goes; ‘Amerika ‘now representing a ‘State of Disunion ‘ such the circling of the drain’ as medically abbreviated ‘CTD’ such the austerity as pretension to perspicacity goes?

        Nowadays it’s not the raise of an arm as much as the roll up of sleeve on arm prior to jab accepted, such the fervour ‘patriotic” as faith evidenced?

      • ‘It Has to Go’: The Demand to End Filibuster Intensifies in US Senate

        “The filibuster didn’t come from the Constitution, or from our founders,” argued Sen. Tina Smith, one of a growing number of Democrats now coming out against the arcane procdure. 

      • Opinion | I’ve Made Up My Mind: The US Senate Must Abolish the Filibuster

        The filibuster has long been the enemy of progress. In fact, it’s been a highly effective tool to thwart the will of the people.

      • Against Neoliberalism, a Search and Struggle For an Authentic Living in La Marea: A Film Review

        The film carries a youthful layer of optimism with a subtle dialectic framework between the Mexican filmmaker who immigrated to the United States and his conational who decides to pursue the Mexican Dream. The main protagonist, Jorge, affirms his place of dwelling in the world distant from the major metropolises of Mexico and the global North.

        Novelo pans across Seybaplaya, Campeche (Mexico), a town of fishermen in the most circular time frame. It is a sequence that runs, walks and moves at the pace of a non-urban town, unlike other films where time is squeezed, rushed, sliced, flattened and linear. It is a moment with a movement. Unlike most urban cities with chaotic dissonance of noises stacked on top of each other with no rhythm, La Marea’s soundtrack evokes the common living elements of nature: thunder, rain and lighting, which sing differently to a town that grasps the notes of flashes, drips, and singing roosters with a distinct tempo of organic rhythms and meaning. Seybaplaya’s surrounding nature “is not a landscape, it is, memory.” It is Jorge’s and his town’s biography.[2]

      • Social Media Microtargeting and the Evolving Ministry of Truth

        If you’ve ever wondered how that cookware ad happened across your internet browser window after you’d spent ten minutes searching for a turkey baster last Thanksgiving, the answer is that you – or more precisely, the devices you use to surf the net – have been microtargeted.

      • South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Is a Deadlier, More Delusional Alternative to Trump

        South Dakota has suffered more than the vast majority of states since the coronavirus pandemic hit. Though it’s one of the least populous states in the nation, its Covid-19 per capita death rate is the eighth highest in the nation. Its per capita case rate is even worse: number two in the United States, after neighboring North Dakota.

      • Will Neoliberalism Morph into Fascism in the United States?

        Some of these measures included massive liquidity injections, lowering interest rates to zero, credit and loan guarantees, Federal Reserve purchase of government bonds and as pitifully small and delayed one-time direct payment to most Americans.  The fiscal stimulus packages already enacted are a quarter larger than those put in place during the Great Recession of 2008 and Biden recently proposed an additional $1.9 trillion coronavirus package in new federal spending.

        This episodic intervention in a crisis can be seen as another selective intervention by the state to ensure class rule. But the larger context includes the countless, irrefutable examples of the state’s welcome intervention to redistribute wealth upward and in prescribing critical market state functions in terms of policing, incarceration, surveillance, militarization and a host of other supportive services. U.S. interventions around the globe in support of the empire are so transparently obvious as to not warrant further elaboration.  Lapavitsus speculates on whether this massive state intervention in the economy could result “…in a more authoritarian form of controlled capitalism in which the interests of the corporate and the financial elite would remain paramount.” Unless there’s a mass mobilization from below there is no evidence suggesting that whatever is done will address the needs of working people.  Although Lapavitsus never explicitly suggests that neoliberalism will be transfigured into fascism, it’s not implausible to draw that conclusion.

      • The ReTrumplican Party

        The list goes on, but you get the idea. At CPAC, it was business as usual, with Trump lying his head off and his lemmings-like followers drinking all the Kool-Aid he offered.

        Following the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol building, there were some noises being made about the need for the Republican Party to, perhaps, make some changes in the way it conducts business. But can the powerful CPAC be seen as a barometer of the current situation, and maybe an omen of things to come? Not necessarily; while CPAC doesn’t represent the entire party (there was nary a RINO (Republican in Name Only) present, and they do exist), it is quite the activist base.

      • Ouchy, Fauci and Ron Klain: The Equivocator and the Prevaricator

        And then, like Biden and 97% of the subservient U.S. CongressWimps, he had to equivocate on whether Israel is morally and legally obligated to allow COVID-19 vaccinations to enter Occupied Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) where 5.5 million Palestinians are living under the world’s most brutal occupation that has gone unabated for the last 73 years.

        Was Fauci’s equivocation politically motivated? And, was he condoning and supporting Israeli Medical Apartheid in what is proving to be a perpetual Mengele style genocidal strangulation of Palestinians in their own land?

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Is The Digital Services Act Going To Make A Huge Mess Of Website Liability In The EU?

        I’ve been so focused of late on issues related to Section 230 in the US, that I’ve had barely any time to devote to the Digital Services Act in the EU, which is the EU’s ongoing efforts to rewrite intermediary law in the EU. The reports I have followed have been a mix of concerns, with the admission that it at least appeared that EU politicians were trying to get a good grasp on the issues and trade-offs and not rush in with a totally horrible plan. That doesn’t mean the end result is good, but so far it does not appear to be totally disconnected from reality, as with many similar proposals we’ve seen around the globe.

      • Reporter Sues DOJ To See If It Is Trying To Help Devin Nunes Unmask @DevinCow Twitter Account

        As I’m pretty sure most of you know, Rep. Devin Nunes has been filing a ton of blatant SLAPP lawsuits trying to silence criticism and mockery of him, as well as critical reporting. Kind of ironic for a guy who co-sponsored a bill to discourage frivolous lawsuits and who has regularly presented himself as a free speech supporter. What kicked off those lawsuits, somewhat incredibly, was a satirical Twitter account, @DevinCow (mocking Devin Nunes for repeatedly holding himself out as a “dairy farmer” from Tulare California when it turns out his family farm moved to Iowa years ago).

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Freedom of Thought and the Death of Ideology

        If global and national challenges are to be met fully and whole-heartedly, creative reimagining, free of doctrine, is required; independent thinking outside the ideological box. Decrepit systems must be reappraised, the good retained the rest rejected; values realigned, belief systems revised and expanded. Humanity has been wedded to ideologies of one kind of another for eons. Our devotion to them strengthens self-identity, albeit limited and false, and provides a degree of comfort and order in a chaotic world which has no easily discernible logic or purpose to it. This is particularly so in relation to organised religions with their defined order, fixed doctrine and mapped-out route to ‘God’.

        Capitalism, democracy and Christianity (2.2 billion believers) are the most pervasive global ideologies, but there are a host of others. In the religious field there’s Islam, the fastest growing religion (1.8 billion); Hinduism (the world’s oldest, one billion), which is not really a religion but a collection of traditions and ancient philosophies; Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism, plus a bundle of sub-sects. Then there are the socio-economic/political structures: Socialism, Neo-liberalism, Communism, Fascism, and the many divisions; on and on it goes.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Hell in Every Way: My Life Inside a Temporary Refugee Camp on Lesbos

        I think all the refugees have now been assessed, except for the latest arrivals. Asylum seekers need three separate cards to complete their documentation, but the UN refugee office has not yet opened in the camp, as a result of which many refugees’ cards remain burned or damaged from the Moria fire. When we protest, we are told that we have to wait for the UN office to open.

        Moria was hell in every way. It is true that I lived in the Dutch section, but the overcrowding caused tents to be erected on both sides of each road and access to sanitation and food was not easy. There was no respect for law and order in the camp and Greek police paid no attention.

      • “We Do This ’Til We Free Us”: Mariame Kaba on Abolishing Police, Prisons & Moving Toward Justice

        Outrage over police brutality and the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people has generated calls to defund and abolish the police. Longtime organizer Mariame Kaba’s new book, titled “We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice,” brings together collected essays, interviews and other writings that she and numerous collaborators produced between 2014 — the year of the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of Michael Brown — and today. Kaba says the book grapples with “the fact that so many people around the country recognize the complete and utter failures and limits of so-called reform” to systems of injustice. “People are impatient with incrementalism and are impatient with solutions that don’t actually address the root causes of violence.”

      • Innocent and Framed: Free Mumia Now!

        The movement to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the most prominent political prisoner in the U.S., from the slow death of life imprisonment and the jaws of this racist and corrupt injustice system is at a critical juncture. The battle to free Mumia must be is as ferocious as it has ever been. We continue to face the unrelenting hostility to Mumia by this racist capitalist injustice system, which is intent on silencing him, by all means.

      • Biden Needs to Keep His Promises on Immigration

        In January, Biden kicked off his presidency with splashy executive orders ending the Muslim ban, protecting young undocumented people from deportation, and making sure immigrants are counted in the Census.

        In February, he introduced a massive immigration reform bill that would, among other things, provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. And on the first day of March, his administration announced plans to reunite families separated at the border under former president Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

      • ‘Saving Lives Is Never a Crime’: Aid Groups Reject Charges Over Mediterranean Refugee Rescue Missions

        “This is a political declaration of intent to criminalize solidarity, and it has a deadly consequence: people die, when they could be saved,” said the crew of the vessel Iuventa.

      • The Test of Our Endurance

        In Belgium, businesses are going under at an alarming rate. Figures for France are no better. Stores and hotels are shuttered everywhere you look. In Holland, riots broke out in January over the imposition of a new confinement. Madrid, an anarchist friend laments, “is TOO open,” with theatres, movie houses and bars doing brisk business. He blames it on the “right wing, ex-Falange, all-business president” of the Comunidad Autonoma. Museums are reopening in Italy, while new lockdowns threaten. Someone will explain how that’s going to work. Two museums in France tried – in Perpignan, under a Rassemblement National mayor, and Issoudun, with a Socialist in charge – before the courts got in the way. (Musée Saint Roch in Issoudun remains closed provisoirement, temporarily. You can translate that, too hot for the judge to handle.) Our twice daily dip in the petri-dish underground is sanctioned but standing in front of a painting is not.

        Covid is hollowing out our politics. Big issues have been swept aside – provisoirement. It’s all Covid all the time. Regional elections have just been delayed for three months. In Paris the political jockeying continues, to humorous effect. A junior minister at city hall argues for a short, sharp 3 week confinement, hoping that this places Paris at the avant garde of the Do Something battalion. Unfortunately for him the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, one eye on next year’s presidential race, promptly elbows him aside, declaring weekend confinements inhumane, essentially reducing people to the status of worker drones, a point made in the interview below. The terribly difficult, if not insurmountable, dilemma is how to make draconian confinements sound palatable and politically correct – in short, how to make them sound good for you. They aren’t, and people know it.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Monopolies

      • Parler Drops Its Loser Of A Lawsuit Against Amazon In Federal Court, Files Equally Dumb New Lawsuit In State Court

        As you may recall, Parler had filed a ridiculously weak antitrust lawsuit against Amazon the day after it had its AWS account suspended. A judge easily rejected Parler’s request for an injunction, and made it pretty clear Parler’s chances of succeeding were slim to none. Parler, which has since found a new host, had indicated it would file an amended complaint, but instead it chose to drop that lawsuit in federal court and file an equally laughable lawsuit in state court in Washington (though with some additional lawyers).

      • Copyrights

        • Spanish Supreme Court applies Cofemel and rules that bullfighting cannot be protected by copyright

          A bullfight (in Spanish: corrida; the final stages are called faena) is a contest that involves a bullfighter (a matador) and a bull, in which the former seeks to subdue, immobilize or kill the animal in accordance with a set of rules. The best-known type of bullfighting is the Spanish-style one, which has been traditionally regarded as both a sport and performance art.

          In relation to the latter qualification of bullfighting, a question that has recently arisen is whether a bullfight might be regarded as a work protectable under copyright law.

          The Spanish Supreme Court answered this question in the negative last month, when it delivered its judgment in a longstanding copyright saga, which had first begun after a well-known Spanish matador, Miguel Ángel Perera Díaz, was refused registration – by the Madrid Copyright Registry – of a faena of his.


          The Supreme Court considered it necessary to undertake a joint assessment of whether the object in question could be regarded as a work that is original.

          The Supreme Court reviewed the FAPL judgment and considered that, whilst relevant, it would not serve to exhaust the analysis, since a bullfight is not just a sporting event. Besides the physical performance and the athletic ability of the matador, there is something more in a bullfight: the artistic dimension thereof.

          The Court thus deemed it more helpful to look at another CJEU decision for guidance: Cofemel [Katpost here]. In that 2019 ruling, the CJEU consolidated its settled case law, starting as early as Infopaq [Kat-anniversary post here], and clarified – once and for all – that, under EU law, copyright protection arises when there is (1) a work, which is (2) original. Nothing further is required.


          Considering the case of choreographic works, the Spanish court also suggested that the precision and objectivity that is needed to qualify as a work under Levola Hengelo is one that allows the ‘object’ to be reproduced. This, however, is a requirement that has never featured in CJEU case law and, in my view, should be rejected: the taste of the cheese at hand in, eg, Levola Hengelo is something that can well be reproduced (all Heks’nkaas boxes taste the same), yet it is not something that can be delineated with sufficient precision and objectivity, at least for the time being (see Levola Hengelo, at [43]). The test should thus be only one of precision and objectivity, not also replicability. There is and there should be room for improvisation in copyright law, including with regard to choreographic works, performance art, and similar ‘objects’.

How To Deal With Your Raspberry Spy — Part III: Fundamentals

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 6:12 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Gavin L. Rebeiro




1 Acknowledgements

2 Introduction

2.1 Prerequisite Knowledge
2.2 Apparatus

3 YOU ARE HERE ☞ Fundamentals

3.1 Communication
3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer
3.3 Drivers
3.4 Operating Systems
3.5 Special Files

4 Doing The Task

4.1 Preparing The Boot Media
4.2 Connecting Physical Components
4.3 Using Picocom
4.4 OS Installation

5 Thanks

6 OpenPGP Key

A Malicious Hardware

B Linux Kernel Source Tree Analysis

C Digital Multimeter Tests

Summary: Following the introductory and preliminary parts (Part I and Part II) we dive deeper into the steps taken to replace the Raspberry Pi’s GNU- and Linux-based OS with something like NetBSD

Now that you know what you need to get started, let’s gently walk through an overview of the fundamental ideas and topics that we’ll be engaging and experimenting with.

The order of topics may seem strange at first but things should make sense as you move on.

3.1 Communication

If we want two computers to communicate, there needs to be some protocol that they both speak.

If we want two computers to communicate, there needs to be a physical medium over which they can communicate.

Almost all computers and their peripherals communicate over USB these days. But when it comes to getting into the nitty-gritty details, you will often find UART humbly serving the same purpose it has for decades of computing. Fortunately for us, almost every embedded system these days supports UART; this includes the Raspberry Spy.

“Why bother with this anachronistic technology? Glad you asked!”We’ll be using our UTUB to install a new OS on our Raspberry Spy over a serial interface (UART). The program that we’ll be using to do this serial communication is picocom(1).

Why bother with this anachronistic technology? Glad you asked! Once you know how to operate something like a UTUB and a program like picocom(1), you can “break into” several devices and modify them how you wish. Routers, motherboards,
embedded systems, etc. all tend to have some sort of serial interface on them. Once you learn the basics, you are equipped to liberate yourself and gain more computing freedom.

But wait. Isn’t all this embedded stuff way too difficult and only for “experts”? HOGWASH! You can do it too. Don’t
fall for the propaganda. You are perfectly capable of doing a bit of serial hacking to liberate your devices. You paid for them, after all. You should be able to do whatever you want with them (and you will). Onwards!

3.2 Kernel Ring Buffer

What on earth is a “kernel ring buffer” (KRB)? Ever heard of dmesg(1)? dmesg(1) is what you use to read the KRB. Not so scary now. Is it?

Why is the KRB important? Well: when you plug in (or out) a device, you can see the messages show up in the KRB. If you learn how to pay attention to the KRB, when you are working with hardware, you will become a lot better at trouble-shooting your own problems. Take strings you don’t understand and plop them into your favourite search engine; try the apropos(1) command as well.

As we progress with our project, we’ll see how to leverage dmesg(1) to our advantage. Learning proper use of dmesg(1)
is an essential skill if you want to improve and maintain your computing freedom; dmesg(1) allows you to demystify the inner workings of your computer and get clues on how to fix problems yourself.

3.3 Drivers

Say you plug in your mouse or keyboard into your computer; or even plug them out. The software responsible for translating the physical signals from the mouse or keyboard, to the intermediary physical devices, to the more abstract layers of your operating system (like stuff you see on the screen) is called the kernel; this is the “Linux” part of GNU/Linux.

The kernel is the layer of software that sits between the physical hardware and the more abstract levels of software that gives you an “operating system”. When you plug in or out your keyboard or mouse, the Kernel has programs which recognise those types of devices and then loads the appropriate software required to use those physical devices; such software are called “device drivers”.

All of the above is a bit vague. Let’s take a look at what this looks like in practice; I’m going to plug out and plug back in my mouse while staring at dmesg(1):

1   # dmesg --human --follow
2   ...
3   [Feb19 17:26] usb 7-4: USB disconnect, device number 2
4   [ +25.036175] usb 7-4: new low-speed USB device number
            → 4 using ohci-pci
5   [ +0.193047] usb 7-4: New USB device found, 
            → idVendor=0461, idProduct=4d81, bcdDevice= 2.00
6   [ +0.000006] usb 7-4: New USB device strings: Mfr=0,
            → Product=2, SerialNumber=0
7   [ +0.000004] usb 7-4: Product: USB Optical Mouse
8   [ +0.007570] input: USB Optical Mouse as 
            → /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-4/7-4:1.0/0 c
            → 003:0461:4D81.0005/input/input18
9   [ +0.000303] hid-generic 0003:0461:4D81.0005: 
            → input,hidraw3: USB HID v1.11 Mouse [USB Optical
            → Mouse] on usb-0000:00:16.0-4/input0

We’ll briefly analyse this output and introduce a few important tools in the process.

The first thing to note is this string “using ohci-pci”. It’s time to bring in the Linux-specific tool modinfo(8); let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with:

1 $ modinfo ohci_pci
2   name:        ohci_pci
3   filename:    (builtin)
4   softdep:     pre: ehci_pci
5   license:     GPL
6   file:        drivers/usb/host/ohci-pci
7   description: OHCI PCI platform driver

That output is quite self-explanatory. We see the name of the kernel module; we see that its a builtin kernel module (which means it’s compiled into the kernel). “softdep” stands for soft dependency. We see that the license is GPL. We see the location in the kernel source tree this kernel module resides. And, finally, we see a short description of the kernel module.

I hope, at the point, you’ve realised that “kernel module” is synonymous with “driver”. See? Not that complicated.

So what does this have to do with our USB mouse? Well: when it comes to interfaces, there’s usually a few things that sit between your device and the userspace of your operating system. I’ll leave it as a research project for you to figure out what “HCI”, “OHCI”, “EHCI”, “PCI”, etc. mean.

The next crucial bit of driver information here is the “hid-generic” part; find out what this kernel module does with modinfo(8).

The next thing I want you to do is have a look at the output of the Linux-specific tool lsmod(8); Note the column headers. grep(1) through the lsmod(8) output for the following strings:

• usbhid
• hid_generic
• hid

The “USB HID v1.11 Mouse” from our dmesg(1) output should give us a good idea of what’s going on here. Don’t know what
“USB HID” means? Look it up. Find out what the above kernel modules do, from the stuff you’ve already learned so far.

Let’s take a look at some sample lsmod(8) output:

1 $ cat <(lsmod | head -n 1) <(lsmod | grep hid)
2 Module                     Size Used by
3 mac_hid               16384  0
4 hid_generic           16384  0
5 usbhid                57344  0
6 hid                  135168  2 usbhid,hid_generic

You’ve now got a bit of background knowledge to make sense of what’s going on when you plug things in and out of your GNU/Linux unit.

3.4 Operating Systems

We’re going to be a bit adventurous with our choice of OS to put on the Raspberry Spy. We’re going to go with NetBSD; this is a great OS for embedded systems and one you should be familiar with if you plan on doing any embedded work.

NetBSD is an OS with its own kernel and userspace. Thus, NetBSD runs the NetBSD kernel and NetBSD userspace utilities; this is in contrast to the Linux kernel and GNU userspace (GNU/Linux)1.

NetBSD is quite a beginner-friendly BSD because it has ample documentation; the fact that NetBSD has the primary focus of portability also means you can learn a great deal about portability from several perspectives.

A side note here. Avoid usage of package managers. They are bad for your freedom; to most people, package managers are entirely opaque systems that turn the computer operator into a mere consumer. Learn how to build your software from source code. This way you see all the dependencies2.

The opaque package manager is exactly how the Raspberry Spy Foundation smuggled in spyware into the Raspberry Spy. If you build all your programs from source code, you would be less vulnerable to these espionage tactics3.

You should be the operator of your computer, not a “user”. A “user” is effectively being “used” because they are treated like stupid consumers that get dictated to by other people. Don’t fall for this “user” trap. Be the operator of your computer; take back control; education is the true path to computing freedom.

Note that a lot of these operating systems we’re talking about follow some version of the POSIX specification (with varying degrees of compliance).

3.5 Special Files

It’s important to understand how special files relate to device drivers. What’s a special file? Glad you asked.

Let’s take a look at our friend dmesg(1) as we plug in our UTUB:

1  [Feb22 12:13] usb 7-1: new full-speed USB device number
    → 3 using ohci-pci
2  [ +0.202882] usb 7-1: New USB device found,
    → idVendor=10c4, idProduct=ea60, bcdDevice= 1.00
3  [ +0.000006] usb 7-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=1,
    → Product=2, SerialNumber=3
4  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: Product: CP2104 USB to UART
    → Bridge Controller
5  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: Manufacturer: Silicon Labs
6  [ +0.000003] usb 7-1: SerialNumber: 010C48B4
7  [ +0.024088] usbcore: registered new interface driver
    → usbserial_generic
8  [ +0.000010] usbserial: USB Serial support registered
    → for generic
9  [  +0.003272] usbcore: registered new interface driver
    → cp210x
10 [  +0.000025] usbserial: USB Serial support registered
    → for cp210x
11 [  +0.000081] cp210x 7-1:1.0: cp210x converter detected
12 [  +0.010528] usb 7-1: cp210x converter now attached to
    → ttyUSB0

Bit of a mouthful. Let’s break it down into pieces that we can actually digest:

• Take a look at the Linux kernel modules usbcore, usbserial, and cp210x with modinfo(8). Not so scary now. Is it?

• Next, have a look at the line “usb 7-1: cp210x converter now attached to ttyUSB0”. You should understand all the lines leading up to this one; however, we need to do a bit of digging to find out what this whole “ttyUSB0” business is about. We’ll look into some other helpful things in the process.

Here we have a special file called ttyUSB0; So uh where is this file? Let’s see:

1  $ find / -name "ttyUSB0" 2> /dev/null
2  /dev/ttyUSB0
3  /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0
4  /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/t c
       → tyUSB0
5  /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:16.0/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/t c
       → tyUSB0/tty/ttyUSB0
6  /sys/bus/usb-serial/devices/ttyUSB0
7  /sys/bus/usb-serial/drivers/cp210x/ttyUSB0

The path we really want here is “/dev/ttyUSB0”4. Time to do a quick check:

1  $ ls -al /dev/ttyUSB0
2  crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Feb 22 12:13
      → /dev/ttyUSB0

The “c” in “crw-rw–” tells us that this is a character file. The “188, 0” tells us that the “major” and “minor” number, respectively, of this special “character file”. These files are created with mknod(1). The following can be a useful pointer, when you are lost:

1  $ file --mime /dev/ttyUSB0
2  /dev/ttyUSB0: inode/chardevice; charset=binary

Good stuff. We’re getting somewhere. To find a full list of what these major and minor numbers refer to, we can have a look in the Linux kernel source tree:

1  $ less linux/Documentation/admin-guide/devices.txt
2 ...
3  188 char       USB serial converters
4           0 = /dev/ttyUSB0     First USB
                    → serial converter
5           1 = /dev/ttyUSB1     Second USB
                    → serial converter
6             ...
7 ...

That’s that part demystified. Isn’t learning great? Now you know where to get the right numbers if you want to use mknod(1) manually on GNU/Linux systems5.

Now what does all of this mean? We essentially have “cp210x” which is a discrete Linux kernel module; this Linux kernel module is then “attached” to the special file ttyUSB0; it’s this special file ttyUSB0 that the program picocom(1) will be attached to, in order to perform serial communications.

You can also see where the different parameters like “idVendor” and “idProduct” come from by taking a look at the appropriate path in the Linux kernel source tree:

1  find ./ -regex ".*cp210x.*"
2  ./drivers/usb/serial/cp210x.c
3  $ less drivers/usb/serial/cp210x.c
4  ...
5  { USB_DEVICE(0x10C4, 0xEA60) }, /* Silicon Labs
        → factory default */
6  ...

On GNU/Linux systems, you should also take a look at the path /usr/share/misc/usd.ids:

1  $ less /usr/share/misc/usb.ids
2  ...
3  10c4 Silicon Labs
4  ...
5           ea60 CP210x UART Bridge
6  ...

Now let’s have a look at what it looks like when we pull out our UTUB:

1  $ dmesg --human --follow
2  ...
3  [Feb22 15:45] usb 7-1: USB disconnect, device number 3
4  [ +0.000384] cp210x ttyUSB0: cp210x converter now
       → disconnected from ttyUSB0
5  [ +0.000164] cp210x 7-1:1.0: device disconnected

There you have it! You should understand what’s going on in that output, with your new knowledge of Linux kernel internals. Remember, tools like lsmod(8), modinfo(8), and dmesg(1) are the first things you should look at when you plug things in and out of your GNU/Linux box. This stuff is incredibly simple, if you know where to look; now you know where to look! No need to be afraid.

Finally, we have the commands:

 $ lscpi -k


 $ lsusb -t

You now know enough to figure out yourself what you get from lspci -k and lsusb -t6.

You now have a healthy dose of knowledge injected into your grey matter to enable you to handle special files on GNU/Linux systems7.
1 Technically, there’s also different bootloaders to worry about but we’re going to ignore bootloaders for now as we have enough to deal with. It’s also very unfair to GNU to just call it “userspace”; GNU gave the world things like the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Autotools – things without which much of software today wouldn’t exist; there seems to be mass amnesia in the computing world around this, whether it be deliberate or not. And guess what? GNU was about freedom, first and foremost.
2 i.e., how much junk the software you want to use depends on. It’s a great way to filter out bloatware. You will also be able to learn to spot “common denominator” programs software of a certain type depends on. Often, this will enable you to refine your criteria for a program in order to find exactly what you need – opposed to what you think you need (or what others make you think you need).
3 However, don’t think you’re entirely immune, if you compile everything from source. Much has been infiltrated at the source code level.
4 The other paths are just as interesting. See Appendix B for details on the specifics.
5 A skill every GNU/Linux operator should have.
6 Don’t know what the options mean? RTFM.
7 Some of this special file handling knowledge applies to other POSIX-like operating systems as well, with minor details changed.

Links 6/3/2021: Linux 5.12 RC2 and OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Woes

Posted in News Roundup at 4:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • What is Linux, and which versions are best for beginners?

        Linux is not much different from Windows or macOS. It’s basically a graphical operating system that allows you to use apps, browse the web, and perform all the same functions a Windows or Mac computer does.

        Linux has been around since the 1990s and is in more devices than you may know. This versatile operating system is used in routers, smartphones, streaming boxes, televisions, smartwatches, cars, and even appliances. More importantly, this operating system also runs on most servers globally, including the servers that run the internet and government and corporate operations.

        Like its Windows and Mac counterparts, Linux is made up of several code layers that make it work. Layers such as a bootloader, kernel, GUI, and applications. All of these layers work together to create what users see and interact with on their display.

      • Kubuntu Focus M2 Linux laptop now available with NVIDIA RTX 30x series graphics

        The Kubuntu Focus M2 is a 4.4 pound laptop that ships with the Kubuntu GNU/Linux distribution pre-installed. First launched in October, the 4.4 pound notebook has a 15.6 inch, 144 Hz full HD matte display, an Intel Core i7-10875H octa-core processor and NVIDIA graphics.

        When the notebook launched last year it was available with NVIDIA RTX 20 GPUs, but now you can configure the system with up to RTX 3080 graphics.

        Entry-level configurations are also getting a price drop.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.12-rc2
        Ok, so this is a couple of days early, but rc1 had the nasty swapfile
        issue, so I'm just accelerating rc2 a bit.
        Outside of the swapfile IO offset fix, the only other thing that
        stands out is some io_uring thread handling re-organization, which not
        only solved a few fundamental issues, but actually made the code
        smaller and simpler too.
        Other than that it all looks pretty normal: drivers dominate (with
        sound being most notable, with the ASoC Intel SOF support being split
        up sanely). But there's some btrfs work, kvm, iscsi, etc. A few random
        things all over.
        Shortlog appended for your viewing pleasure, and I sincerely hope (and
        believe) that rc2 is in a lot better shape than rc1 was.
      • Linux 5.12-rc2 Released Early – A Rare Friday Kernel Due To That Nasty Corruption Issue

        While Linus Torvalds long has released his new kernel releases — both release candidates and the inaugural stable releases — every Sunday, there are the occasional exceptions like this week with Linux 5.12-rc2 being issued on Friday night. The Linux 5.12-rc2 release has come early due to that nasty file-system corruption issue stemming from botched swapfile handling.

        This is the data loss issue I was warning Phoronix readers about for more than one week (and even days prior to that on Twitter when beginning to see this recurring issue) that then was pushed into the spotlight this week. With Intel’s graphics CI systems being hit by the file-system corruption too, developers quickly jumped in on the issue. The corruption was too much for even e2fck to handle correctly and at least in every system I tested led to all the data being lost.

      • Radeon RX 6800 Series Seeing Some Small Gains With Linux 5.12 – Phoronix

        When it comes to the AMDGPU kernel driver changes in Linux 5.12 for modern open-source AMD Radeon graphics, most notable is RDNA2 OverDrive overclocking support now being available as well as AMDGPU FreeSync over HDMI (pre-HDMI 2.1). But from initial testing the new in-development kernel is showing mostly subtle performance improvements for the Radeon RX 6800 series over Linux 5.11.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install CHEF Workstation in RHEL and CentOS 8/7

        Chef is one of the popular configuration management tools, which is used to rapidly automate deployment, configurations, and management of the entire IT infrastructure environment.

        In the first part of this Chef series, we’ve explained Chef concepts, which consists of three important components: Chef Workstation, Chef Server & Chef Client/Node.

        In this article, you will learn how to install and test Chef Workstation in RHEL/CentOS 8/7 Linux distributions.

      • Install Libreoffice 7.1.1 on Ubuntu / LinuxMint / CentOS & Fedora

        This tutorial will be helpful for beginners to install LibreOffice 7.1.1 on Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Centos 8, Fedora 33, and LinuxMint 20.1.

        LibreOffice released the newer version in the 7 series as 7.1.1 and it comes with new features and bug fixes and program enhancements.

        All users are requested to update to this version as soon as possible.

      • How to live stream from your Linux desktop | TechRadar

        Live streaming is an increasingly popular medium, enabling you to produce content that’s shared in real time and – if your online provider supports it – available afterwards for those who missed the live show.

        If you’re looking to make your next online live stream something special, then take a look at OBS Studio.

        Not only can you easily combine multiple video and audio sources into a single stream, OBS Studio provides you with a means of breaking down your stream into specific sections, making it easy to seamlessly switch between different sources and screen setups. Crucially, it works with all the major online streaming providers.

      • Specify Name (Save As) When Saving File in vi / vim

        The vi (or vim) text editor is a very effective text editor for Linux / UNIX systems. It has been around since 1976 and you either love it or hate it. In order to be effective with the editor, it is important to know all the commands. One such command is specifying the name, or save as, of the file before you write it to disk. Let’s take a look at how to use the “save as” feature in vim.

      • Josef Strzibny: Download RPM packages locally with DNF

        Sometimes, you only want to download RPM packages without installing them. This is now super easy with DNF.

        If you remember Yum, you had to resolve to installing a yum-plugin-downloadonly plugin or a separate tool to be able to download them for inspection.

      • Arturo Borrero González: Openstack Neutron L3 failover issues

        In the Cloud Services team at the Wikimedia Foundation we use Openstack Neutron to build our virtual network, and in particular, we rely on the neutron-l3-agent for implementing all the L3 connectivity, topology and policing. This includes basic packet firewalling and NAT.

        As of this writing, we are using Openstack version Train. We run the neutron-l3-agent on standard linux hardware servers with 10G NICs, and in general it works really well. Our setup is rather simple: we have a couple of servers for redundancy (note: upstream recommends having 3) and each server runs an instance of neutron-l3-agent. We don’t use DVR, so all ingress/egress network traffic (or north-south traffic) flows using these servers. Today we use a flat network topology in our cloud. This means that all of our virtual machines share the same router gateway. Therefore, we only have one software-defined router.

        Neutron does a very smart thing: each software-defined router is implemented on a linux network namespace (netns). Each router living on its own netns, the namespace contains all IP addresses, routes, interfaces, netfilter firewalling rules, NAT configuration, etc.

        Additionally, we configure the agents and software-defined routers to be deployed on an high availability fashion. Neutron implements this by running an instance of keepalived (VRRP) inside each router netns. The gateway IP is therefore a virtual address that can move between the two instances of the neutron-l3-agent.

      • Prepare for successful container adoption with these tips

        IT teams use containers to build more dynamic applications and support modern microservice architectures. And containers are a critical tool for IT organizations to take advantage of innovations, such as cloud services, Agile methodology, DevOps collaboration and mobile apps.

        As businesses turn to containers to fuel development and support infrastructures, they must identify which workloads benefit from containerization, as well as strategize automation benefits and deploy the right tools for management.

        As a result, IT teams are better positioned to evaluate savings potential, adopt key DevOps processes and apply IT training where necessary. In this article, we explore containerization’s history and its uses, assess ideal workloads, potential operational savings and key management approaches.

      • How to Install VirtualBox 6.1 On Linux?

        Virtual Machines are software used to run other operating systems within a pre-installed operating system. This self-contained OS runs as a separate computer that has no relation to the host OS. VirtualBox is an open-source cross-platform software that can help you run multiple guest operating systems on a single computer. In this article, let’s look at how to install VirtualBox 6.1 on Linux, easily.

        Why Install VirtualBox?

        One of the most important use cases of VirtualBox is its ability to try out/test various operating systems without fiddling with your internal storage. VirtualBox creates a virtual environment that utilizes system resources like RAM and CPU to power the OS inside a container.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • This week in KDE: Adaptive panel opacity and auto-restored unsaved documents in Kate!

          A big Plasma feature was added this week: adaptive Plasma panel opacity! Now the panel and panel applets are more transparent than they were before, allowing more of a tint from the beautiful wallpaper on your desktop! But what’s this? You’re about to complain that you maximize all your windows so the increased transparency will look ugly? In fact, we now make your panel and panel applets 100% opaque when there are any maximized windows, ensuring no ugly effect! But what if you don’t want that either? Well, if you don’t want adaptive opacity we now let you make your panel and panel applets always transparent, or always opaque! Hopefully that should make everyone happy. Let’s give a round of applause to Niccolò Venerandi and Jan Blackquill for this work, which will show up in Plasma 5.22.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Christian Hergert: A GTK 4 based Text Editor

          It started as an application for me to verify the correctness of the GtkSourceView 5 API (which targets GTK 4). After that it helped me implement JIT support for GtkSourceView languages. Once that was done it became my test case while I wrote the GTK 4 macOS backend and revamped the GL renderer.

          It is a simple and humble text editor. It does not have all the corner cases you’d expect from a text editor yet. It does not have aspirations to be a programmers text editor.

          Now that you know this is very much a technology preview release only, you might be tempted to keep your important data away from it.

    • Distributions

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2021/09

          This week has proven to be challenging for Tumbleweed. We have built and tested 6 snapshots, and only 2 of them were of sufficient quality to send out to the users. Of course, that means our QA infrastructure is well suited in protecting you, the users, from running into trouble – and that is the best thing we can show with this.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Announcing special guests for Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience 2021

          From throwing out the first pitch during a Boston Red Sox game at the iconic Fenway Park and Grammy Award-winning band Weezer rocking the night away at the San Francisco Armory to Neon Trees and Fitz & the Tantrums giving attendees a night to remember at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, Red Hat Summit has shown we can bring the excitement and the entertainment to the agenda. In the age of social-distancing however, we can’t bring everyone together for a concert, but we can still show you a good time. This year, at Red Hat Summit 2021, we are going to be joined by several special guests – Ben Folds and Mick Ebeling! These sessions will be hosted by Red Hat solutions architect, Angela Andrews.

        • Self-supported Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server virty users see stealth inflation

          Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server has maintained the same starting price over the past few years. Now, changes to the way the software is licensed have doubled the cost for some self-support customers using virtual machines.

          The change dates back to 2019, when Red Hat said its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server, Self-support (RH0197181) was in the process of being retired and has been superseded by Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server Entry Level, Self-support (RH00005). According to a Red Hat spokesperson, RH00005 debuted in 2013 and RH0197181 stopped being sold in 2015.

          Both of these RHEL SKUs sell, or were sold, for $349 in the US. But only the discontinued product allows the use of virtualization at the lowest price tier.

          Now customers who opted for the discontinued entry-level offering have found they need to pay more than twice as much ($799 for the standard tier) to run a guest VM on a physical system.

          What’s more, Red Hat in its subscription guide declares that its self-supported option “is not intended for production environments,” making it clear that self-supported commercial usage with VM support requires greater investment that before.

      • Debian Family

        • Whonix vs Tails Linux- Difference between the two Incongito Systems

          Well, there is no huge difference between Whonix and Tails Linux systems as both are Debian-based and designed to maintain the privacy, security, and anonymity of the person who uses them. However, there are some features offer by the developers of these secure Linux systems that make them different, and here we know what are those?

          Security is the great concern of people who are in testing, ethical hacking, surfing the Dark web, or just one who worry about its privacy while going online. In such scenarios, Tails, Whonix, and other similar Linux systems will be great options to maintain security and anonymization. Let’s go through the different aspects of these two Linux operating systems to know what makes them different from each other.

          As both the Whonix and Tails are based on Debian thus, in terms of the base code, they won’t be any different. The difference will be in the number of tools, how hardened the OS, portability, and more… For reference see the below table.

        • Yet Another Me – A debuginfod service for Debian

          This last Tuesday, February 23, 2021, I made an announcement at debian-devel-announce about a new service that I configured for Debian: a debuginfod server.

          This post serves two purposed: pay the promise I made to Jonathan Carter that I would write a blog post about the service, and go into a bit more detail about it.


          You can find more information about our debuginfod service here. Try to keep an eye on the page as it’s being constantly updated.

          If you’d like to get in touch with me, my email is my domain at debian dot org.

          I sincerely believe that this service is a step in the right direction, and hope that it can be useful to you :-).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Tantek Çelik: One Year Since The #IndieWeb Homebrew Website Club Met In Person And Other Last Times

            March 2021 is the second March in a row where so many of us are still in countries & cities doing our best to avoid getting sick (or worse), slow the spread, and otherwise living very different lives than we did in the before times. Every day here forward will be an anniversary of sorts for an unprecedented event, experience, change, or loss. Or the last time we did something. Rather than ignore them, it’s worth remembering what we had, what we used to do, both appreciating what we have lost (allowing ourselves to mourn), and considering potential upsides of adaptations we have made.

            A year ago yesterday (2020-03-04) we hosted the last in-person Homebrew Website Club meetups in Nottingham (by Jamie Tanna in a café) and San Francisco (by me at Mozilla).

            Normally I go into the office on Wednesdays but I had worked from home that morning. I took the bus (#5736) inbound to work in the afternoon, the last time I rode a bus. I setup a laptop on the podium in the main community room to show demos on the displays as usual.

          • Firefox B!tch to Boss extension takes the sting out of hostile comments directed at women online

            A great swathe of the internet is positive, a place where people come together to collaborate on ideas, discuss news and share moments of levity and sorrow, too. But there’s also a dark side, where comments, threads and DMs are peppered with ugly, hostile language designed to intimidate and harass. Women online, especially women who are outspoken in any field — journalism, tech, government, science, and so on — know this all too well.

            What’s the solution? People being less terrible, obviously. Until we reach that stage of human maturity, the B!tch to Boss extension for Firefox can help by replacing words like “bitch”, often used in derogatory comments and messages directed at women, with the word “boss”.

      • FSF

        • Let’s get excited: The LibrePlanet 2021 schedule is here!

          Can you believe we’re only three weeks away from another inspiring and exciting edition of LibrePlanet? On March 20th and 21st, 2021, free software supporters from all over the world will log in to share knowledge and experiences, and to socialize with others within the free software community.

          We’ve been overwhelmed with support for the upcoming online edition of the conference, first with a record number of speaker submissions, and now with a flood of registrations. Even if attendance is gratis, it’s important that you register in advance, in order to help us prepare for the number of guests we’ll be welcoming.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • EU Open Data Days

            Participate in the first edition of the EU Open Data Days 2021 from 23-25 November 2021.

      • Programming/Development

        • Create a Cross-Platform Twitter Clone with Vue.js

          A fun way to learn new programming skills is to create a clone of a popular app. We’ve released a course that will teach you how to create a Twitter clone using Vue.js, the Quasar framework, and Firebase.

          Danny Connell, from the Make Apps With Danny channel, created this course. You will learn how to create a beautiful, responsive, cross-platform Twitter app from scratch and get it running and working on 5 different platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web Browser.

  • Leftovers

    • Suzanne Vallie – Ocean Cliff Drive
    • Science

      • ‘Space hurricane’ that rained electrons observed for the first time

        Scientists from China, the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom found the space hurricane while combing through satellite observations from August 2014. As satellites orbited around the planet and passed over the North Pole, they caught glimpses of a massive disturbance in the upper atmosphere.

        The spiral-armed space hurricane swirled roughly 125 miles over the North Pole, churning in place for almost eight hours, Lyons said.

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

      • New York Congressmember Mondaire Jones: Israel Should Ensure Palestinians Have Access to COVID Vaccine

        Israel has failed to make COVID-19 vaccines available to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, despite its responsibility under the Geneva Conventions. Critics in the United States say this “vaccine apartheid” is another example of Israeli human rights abuses going unpunished, even as the country receives billions in U.S. aid each year. Congressmember Mondaire Jones of New York says Israel must ensure that Palestinians are vaccinated. “There’s no question about that,” he says. “I don’t think that anyone can argue otherwise in good conscience.”

      • Harmful messages from authority about the J&J COVID-19 vaccine

        There was some good news about a week ago about COVID-19 vaccines when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. So now we have three effective vaccines from three different companies against COVID-19. The news got better two days ago, when news stories reported that Merck will team up with J&J to manufacture the new COVID-19 vaccine. I say this is all good news, because anything that makes available a larger supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a good thing and important for helping to end the pandemic.

      • U.S. Agricultural System’s Deadly Apartheid

        Some of the infections are to shed and meat packing workers who work inside in crowded and unsafe conditions in the best of times.  But many of these workers work outside.  So their infections likely don’t come in the course of work but in the places where they live and during the ride to and from work, especially if they ride in labor contractor buses and so on.

        Agricultural workers often live in poor and overcrowded housing, and lack access to proper hygiene and medical care.  These are part of the picture. And it needs to be said that not only are workers trapped in these conditions but their ability to protest and change them are limited by the deprivation of basic human and civil rights.

      • Covid at 1 Year and Counting: The American Book of the Dead

        Beware the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. Evolution is playing nasty riffs on the coronavirus, and falling infection rates could be reversed if the more transmissible and virulent British and South African variants become fully naturalized—or if a dangerous California strain, awkwardly known as B.1.427/B.1.429, spreads to the rest of the country. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington recently warned that the national Covid death toll could rise as high as 654,000 by May Day.

      • COVID Deaths Soar in Brazil as Bolsonaro Blasts Lockdowns
      • COVID Deaths Soar in Brazil as Bolsonaro Blasts Lockdowns. Experts Warn It Will “Get Worse.”

        Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll has now topped nearly 260,000, the world’s second worst after the United States, as hospitals are overwhelmed with new cases. International concern is also growing about the P1 variant of the virus, which overwhelmed the Amazonian city of Manaus and caused its hospitals to run out of oxygen. Less than 4% of Brazil’s population has been vaccinated. Marcia Castro, demography professor at Harvard University, says the crisis in Brazil is due to “a combination of inaction and also wrongdoing” by officials, including President Jair Bolsonaro, who has opposed lockdowns, masks and other public health measures. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” warns Castro.

      • Mumia Abu-Jamal Tests Positive for COVID, Prompting Urgent Call to Release Elder Political Prisoners

        Renowned political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawyers confirmed Wednesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and also has congestive heart disease. Abu-Jamal also suffers from the preexisting conditions of liver disease, which advocates say is directly related to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ failure to treat his hepatitis C in a timely fashion. Mumia’s doctor, Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, says the only appropriate treatment is freedom. Marc Lamont Hill, who co-authored a book with Abu-Jamal titled “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America,” says this is an opportunity to exercise COVID compassion. “The only possible solution, the only fair solution, is to let Mumia out of prison,” says Lamont Hill. “Not just Mumia, but all political prisoners, all people over 50.”

      • The Pandemic Has Laid Bare the Cruel Burdens Placed on Single Mothers

        In 2002, when my first son was about 6 months old, he, his father and I went to visit some of my extended family. At one point I sat with my young cousin, who was about 7 years old, and asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.

      • Reckless Governors Are Lobbing a Hand Grenade Into Biden’s COVID Plan
      • 25 Years of GMOs, and Some New Insights from Argentina

        Twenty-five years later, genetically engineered crop varieties are grown on roughly 190 million hectares worldwide – a relatively constant figure since the early to mid-2010s – and the profile of what is being grown and where does not differ very much from the late 1990s. Half the global GMO acreage is in soybeans, with soybeans, corn, cotton and canola representing 99 percent of all genetically engineered crops. Forty percent of all GMO acreage is in the US and 95 percent of the acreage is in just seven countries. Eighty-five percent of GMO crops are engineered to withstand high doses of chemical weed-killers – most often Monsanto/Bayer’s “Roundup” family of herbicides – and more than 40 percent produce a bacterial pesticide aimed to attack various “pest” species, but with long-documented harms for a host of beneficial insects. (The total exceeds 100 percent due to varieties that contain multiple, or “stacked,” engineered traits.)

        As many readers know, this technology has failed to demonstrate any consistent advantages for crop yields or food quality, but has helped drive an unprecedented consolidation of corporate power in the global seed and agrochemical sectors. Following a mid-2010s cycle of mergers – which greatly compounded the impact of the original late-nineties wave of GMO-driven mergers and acquisitions – three global agribusiness empires came to control 70 percent of agrochemical production and more than 60 percent of the commercial seed market. The recently merged entities are Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina-Syngenta and Corteva, a company formed from the merger of Dow and DuPont’s agribusiness divisions. Four giant grain-trading and processing companies (ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfuss) now control 90 percent of crop export markets worldwide.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • White House calls Microsoft email breach an ‘active threat’

          Cybersecurity group FireEye said in blog post late Thursday night that [attackers] had been in at least one client’s system since January, and that they had gone after “US-based retailers, local governments, a university, and an engineering firm,” along with a Southeast Asian government and a Central Asian telecom group.

        • We can’t teach in a technological dystopia

          I want to argue here that universities are fostering abusive technologies that replace empowerment with enforcement. There are worries, and much evidence, that we are already giving away too much control to Big Tech companies, which not only have vast appetites for our data, but also harbour ambitions to usurp the role of universities. Google offers courses with certificates it considers equivalent to three-year bachelor’s degrees to people it is hiring, for instance. And US universities such as Duke partner with Google Cloud to deliver large parts of their curriculum as outsourced digital education.

          The problem is not that these services are poor substitutes for in-person education. On the contrary, they are very good at providing a narrow range of outcomes: namely, consistent, efficient training and testing. But that is not the same thing as education.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • FBI Director Uses January 6 Insurrection To, Once Again, Ask For Encryption Backdoors

              FBI Director Chris Wray needs to shut the fuck up about encryption.

            • Reddit Takes Step Toward Eventual IPO, Naming Vollero First CFO

              Vollero led Snap Inc.’s IPO preparations when he served as CFO at the social media company from 2015 to 2018. He has also lead finances for Mattel Inc. and most recently at security and facilities services firm Allied Universal Corp. At Reddit, Vollero will expand the finance team as the company grows and looks toward an IPO.

            • Please do not give billionaire Jack Dorsey money for his tweet

              Jack Dorsey, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Twitter, a man who stans bitcoin right on his Twitter bio, is attempting to sell his very first tweet as an NFT — a digital good that lives on the Ethereum blockchain.

            • How The Third Party Cookie Crumbles: Tracking And Privacy Online Get A Rethink

              Google made some news Wednesday by noting that once it stops using 3rd party cookies to track people, it isn’t planning to replace such tracking with some other (perhaps more devious) method. This news is being met cynically (not surprisingly), with people suggesting that Google has plenty of 1st party data, and really just doesn’t need 3rd party cookie data any more. Or, alternatively, some are noting (perhaps accurately) that since Google has a ton of 1st party data — more than just about anyone else — this could actually serve to lock in Google’s position and diminish the alternatives from smaller advertising firms who rely on 3rd party cookies to bootstrap enough information to better target ads. Both claims might be accurate. Indeed, in the “no good deed goes unpunished” category, the UK has already been investigating Google’s plans to drop 3rd party cookies on the grounds that it’s anti-competitive. This is at the same time that others have argued that 3rd party cookies may also violate some privacy laws.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Doctors’ Alliance trade union got donations from eight foreign countries, says Russia’s Justice Ministry

        Two days after designating the Doctors’ Alliance as a “foreign agent,” Russia’s Justice Ministry released information claiming that the organization received money from nationals in Singapore, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Norway, Belarus, and Ukraine. Federal officials also accused the trade union of political activity (Russia’s “foreign agent” designation applies to foreign-funded groups involved in politics) in the form of organizing rallies, mobilizing voters, recruiting minors, and trying to influence public political opinions.

      • Full-Spectrum Extinction

        Well, which malicious “adversary” is it? Will the Putinoids shortly sink the next American vessel to transit the Black or Barents Seas? Are the ever more malevolent Chinese aiming their new supersonic missile ship killers at the next U.S. carrier to transit the straits of Taiwan?

        The Pentagon’s push for “full spectrum dominance” was extolled in the 1990s and it has proceeded full speed. Peace President Obama , having won the Nobel prize before doing anything peaceable, soon asserted his “pivot to the east” in fear of growing Chinese economic and military power. He also initiated the $1 trillion nuclear expansion program, stage managed the bombing and destruction of Libya, and armed the Saudi war in Yemen. Trump may have come close to nuclear war with North Korea but that issue is still on the burner. Not long ago the Pentagon called for a $100 billion development of missiles better able to carry and target nuclear weapons. Last week the U.S. Airforce dispatched B-1 Bombers to Norway that now overfly the Russian base in the Baltic and earlier deployed combat Marine units there as well. Recall that American armed forces are now stationed along Russia’s very borders and the NATO Alliance has essentially encircled Russia and now keens that it must urgently confront the Chinese peril.

      • Tulsi Gabbard calls out the US dirty war on Syria that Biden, aides admit to
      • Marc Lamont Hill & Mitchell Plitnick on ICC Probe & the “Palestine Exception” in Progressive Politics

        Israel and the United States blasted the International Criminal Court’s decision to open a probe into Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories, as well as crimes committed by Palestinian militant groups. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the Biden administration “firmly opposes” an investigation. Mitchell Plitnick and Marc Lamont Hill, co-authors of “Except for Palestine,” say it’s an illustration of the “Palestine exception” that makes even supposedly progressive people unwilling to criticize Israel’s human rights abuses and its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories. “We are attempting to show that the American left — those who identify as progressive, radical, liberal, what have you — have not held up the bargain in terms of matching their own ideals and values on this question of Israel and Palestine,” says Hill.

      • Vaccine Apartheid: Marc Lamont Hill, Mitchell Plitnick on Israel’s “Indifference to Palestinian Health”

        Israel has had the fastest vaccination rollout in the entire world, with 40% of Israelis already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have received almost no doses — a situation critics call “vaccine apartheid.” By one count, just 34,000 vaccine doses have been administered to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which has a population of over 4.5 million. “What we’re seeing right now is a gross injustice,” says Marc Lamont Hill, author and professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University. We also speak with Mitchell Plitnick, political analyst and president of ReThinking Foreign Policy, who rejects Israel’s claim that the Oslo Accords put public health responsibility on the Palestinian Authority. “The Oslo Accords don’t say that,” Plitnick says.

      • Opinion | Rewarding Failure: Why Pentagon Weapons Programs Rarely Get Canceled Despite Major Problems

        As scores of billions of dollars are thrown away on failed weapons systems, America’s roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure continue to crumble. 

      • CIA To FOIA Requester: Assassination Attempts Are Illegal So Of Course We Don’t Have Any Records About Our Illegal Assassination Attempts

        The CIA has delivered a rather curious response to a records requester. J.M. Porup sent a FOIA request to the agency asking it for documents about its rather well-documented assassination attempts and received a very curious non-answer from the US’s foremost spooks.

      • ‘They watch television and drink tea’: Here’s what Navalny’s lawyer told us about the detention center where he’s imprisoned

        On February 25, opposition politician Alexey Navalny was transferred from Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina remand prison. No official statements were made about his whereabouts, but several media outlets immediately reported that Navalny had been moved to Penal Colony No. 2 in the city of Pokrov, Vladimir Region. A week later, on March 3, Navalny’s lawyers finally managed to locate him: at Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 3 (SIZO-3) in Kolchugino, another town in the Vladimir Region northeast of Moscow. In his own words, Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev tells Meduza about the search for Navalny and the conditions the opposition figure is being held in now.

      • ‘No One Is Above the Law’: Rashida Tlaib Rips Biden Admin’s Opposition to ICC War Crimes Probe of Israel

        The Michigan congresswoman said the ICC “has the authority and duty to independently and impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine.”

      • Opinion | Why Biden Is Dead Wrong on the ICC and Occupied Palestine

        Since Palestine as a permanent UN observer state is a member of the ICC and invited the court into its territory, the International Criminal Court has every right to investigate violations of the Rome Statute that took place in those territories.

      • Prüm Framework: EU Presidency wants a European Weapons Register

        In a decentralised system, the police forces of the EU member states network DNA files, fingerprints, vehicle data and soon also facial images. The automated retrieval of data in criminal investigations is now to be extended to firearms. However, a feasibility study had rejected this idea.

      • Purging Inconvenient Facts in Coverage of Biden’s ‘First’ Air Attacks

        When the Biden administration bombed Syria on February 25, the attack killed “at least 22,” most of them members of Iraqi militias, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring organization opposed to the Syrian government. The US said the bombing was retaliation for three rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq that it claims were carried out by groups allied with Iran (NBC, 2/25/21). In one of the attacks, rockets fired at Erbil airport killed a military contractor and an Iraqi civilian.

      • We Need an International Treaty to Ban Weaponized Drones
      • Opinion | The US War Machine Doesn’t Want Us to Take War Personally

        The God of War is our ruler, and the job of the guy we elect as president is to slather our every act of war in sophisticated justification, a.k.a., public relations.

      • Analysis Finds Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Mob Was ‘Hodgepodge’ of Unaffiliated Right-Wing Extremists

        “Inspired by a range of extremist narratives, conspiracy theories, and personal motivations, individual believers made up a significant portion of the crowd at the Capitol.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Dissenter Weekly: Report Shows How Whistleblower Protection Laws Often Fail Whistleblowers—Globally

        In this edition of “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights an important report from the Government Accountability Project and the International Bar Association on the state of whistleblower protection laws in 37 countries.

        Kevin also covers two Congolese whistleblowers who revealed their identities at great risk to themselves. They disclosed information related to a money laundering network in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is tied to the exploitation of resources and minerals.During the final part of the show, he discusses a report on the raw or undercooked food members of the National Guard are being fed while deployed at the Capitol Hill building.

      • QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction

        On forums and in chats Friday morning, some QAnon followers quickly began claiming that March 20 was the actual date that Biden would be arrested while others applauded the community for not falling for the March 4 false flag.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • GOP Goes All In to Obstruct Relief Bill Nine Days Before Jobless Benefits Expire
      • Opinion | The Richest Country in the World Should Guarantee Universal Paid Sick and Family Leave

        For workers like my mom, the financial strain caused by a lack of paid leave can be just as stressful as catching COVID-19.

      • Rev. William Barber to Democrats: “Stick Together” and Pass the $15 Minimum Wage
      • What the Ecuadoran Elections Mean for the U.S.

        On February 7, leftist economist, Andres Arauz, 36, received nearly 33 percent of the Ecuadorian vote. He needed 40 percent to win outright, so he will advance to a runoff on April 11. The other two candidates, one a right-winger and the other, Yaku Perez, an indigenous eco-socialist, didn’t come close – each scored nearly 19 percent of the vote. The fact that the two left parties together add up to 52 percent of the vote, speaks volumes about where Ecuador is heading politically. Unfortunately, as often happens on the left, the rift between these two assemblages is bitter. And classic. It literally divides between a readily recognizable if traditional left-wing group focused on social gains and one whose peasant base is particularly incensed about mining and environmental destruction.

        Arauz formerly served as director of the central bank and later as a minister in the government of leftist firebrand and erstwhile president Rafael Correa. That’s the traditional left-wing camp. “Arauz has pledged to end austerity measures imposed by Ecuador’s outgoing right-wing President Lenin Moreno,” according to Democracy Now! “and is close to former President Rafael Correa, who led the country from 2007 to 2017 and has been credited with lifting over a million Ecuadorians out of poverty.” In the February 7 election, other leftist parties made gains, though Arauz’s clearly had the most wins. His closeness to Correa no doubt gave Ecuadorians hope: under Correa, the country’s “minimum wage doubled, poverty plunged, education and health care spending soared, and GDP growth exceeded regional averages,” according to Bhaskar Sunkara’s recent interview with Arauz for Jacobin.

      • Small Acts

        While we don’t know what the final bill will look like, at least now we can get an idea of what is in it. Overall, as expected, the provisions in the bill will help to provide some financial assistance to some people, but they won’t solve the crises we face. And the Biden administration is backtracking on promises made on the campaign trail.

        As Alan Macleod writes, Biden has abandoned raising the minimum wage, ending student debt and the promised $2,000 checks. His focus is on forcing people back to work and school even as new, more infectious and more lethal variants of the virus causing COVID-19 threaten another surge in cases and deaths. There is only one promise Biden appears to be keeping, and that is one he made to wealthy donors at the start of his campaign when he said, “nothing would fundamentally change.”

      • Essential Workers Deserve $15 an Hour

        And we’re struggling so hard to make ends meet.

        Congress is debating whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Experts say this would raise wages for 32 million workers like me.

      • ‘Shameful’: Millionaire Senators Vote Against Popular Minimum Wage Raise That Would Lift Millions Out of Poverty

        “It is despicable and unacceptable that there is not unanimous support among Democrats in Congress for a $15 minimum wage,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

      • Opinion | Essential Workers Deserve $15 an Hour

        We care for your parents, children, and homes. We should make enough to care for our own, too.

      • Here Are the 8 Democrats Who Just Joined GOP to Vote Down Sanders’ $15 Minimum Wage Amendment

        “Every single Dem who voted against a $15 minimum wage should be primaried.”

      • Michelle Holder on Black Women & Minimum Wage, Alice O’Connor on the War on Poverty
      • Snatching Conceit From the Jaws of Victory

        We are also right and good to pretend that false promises of $2000 “will go out the door” if people emerge in a pandemic to turn their red state blue. Wasn’t this supposed to happen right away? Is it really good practice to be shady with people’s money when so many are broke? I don’t think anyone enjoys small print legalese behavior,and will probably file that incident away in their mind as “wow, I’m so glad these smarmy, arrogant bastards asked me to do something for them and they are not producing what they said they would in return. I will definitely turn out again to do them a favor next time they ask.” Even if the Dems get the reduced $1400 out presumably sometime before the next germ out there in some unspoiled wilderness gets released via condo construction—well, they will have still squandered all the good will for largely no decent reason other than a cruel adherence to neo-liberal austerity group-think and a sexually based penchant for Lucy and the football based scenarios.

        Then there are those who are following geopolitical events in between their anxiety attacks–they will say “I”m also impressed that rules have been bent to bomb people I don’t know in Syria, but I see that rules can’t be broken to help me be able to afford even 75% of an average rental in my state via minimum wage increase—but at least I have the knowledge that someone has been bombed.” So there’s that.

      • Rev. William Barber to Democrats: Overrule the Senate Parliamentarian & Pass the $15 Minimum Wage

        The Senate has voted to open debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The legislation has widespread support from voters, with one new poll showing 77% of Americans support the bill, including nearly 60% of Republicans. But the Senate bill has some key differences from the package approved by the House, including a reduction in the number of people eligible for direct stimulus checks and no provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, the Fight for 15 continues, with the Senate considering an amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour over a five-year period. Reverend Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach, notes that 140 million people in the U.S. were already living in poverty before this pandemic, and he urges Democrats to “stick together” and push through the minimum wage hike.

      • Unemployment Drops to 6.2 Percent — But Long-Term Unemployment Continues Soaring
      • ‘Stop Nickel and Diming the American People’: Anger Grows as Senate Democrats Move to Deny Relief Checks to 17 Million

        “While you’re quibbling over who you want to exclude, people are suffering. SEND THE CHECKS.”

      • The Pandemic’s Existential Threat to Black-Owned Businesses

        Of all the products made at Danette Wilder’s small manufacturing plant near the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the products she depended on most for sales were the O-rings cranked out by her vintage presses.

        Each month, Wilder’s crew of six people, working at long tables as they listened to a soundtrack of funk and R&B, made thousands of the rubber loops, cut from spools into precise strips and spliced into uniform perfect circles.

      • AOC Slams Biden Administration Over Lowering COVID Stimulus Income Thresholds
      • Opinion | Will 2021 Be Public Banking’s Watershed Moment?

        For local governments, public banks offer a path to escape monopoly control by giant private financial institutions over public policies.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Former Impeachment Manager Sues Trump Over January 6 Capitol Breach
      • The Long History of America ‘Uncanceled’

        The conference was light on policy and heavy on grievance. One New York Times reporter said it was a clear sign that “Trumpism is replacing conservatism” in the GOP. But in a lot of ways the “uncanceled” theme fit right in with currents that have defined the movement for decades.

        Conservatives like to advocate for “individual freedom,” but they don’t mean it in the way you might think.

      • Arabs Warn Biden: We Do Not Want Another Obama

        Prominent Arab political analysts and commentators are dumbfounded that the Biden administration has chosen to appease Iran and Islamists instead of working with Washington’s traditional and long-time allies in the Arab world.

        In a series of articles published after the release of the US intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many Arab analysts and columnists have warned that the Biden administration was harming US interests in the Middle East.

        Some said they saw the decision to release the report as a kind of sequel to the Obama administration’s failed policy of meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

      • John McAfee indicted by US officials for alleged cryptocurrency scheme

        Charges against the men were unsealed in a Manhattan federal court on Friday. Both are alleged to have used McAfee’s Twitter account to spread information on cryptocurrency investments to hundreds of thousands of followers and profit from the effort.

        The cryptocurrencies the defendants are alleged to have promoted were bought up by McAfee, Watson and other members of their team ahead of time. McAfee then advertised the cryptocurrencies on social media as good investments without disclosing that he had bought large quantities, inflating their market prices.

      • How Bruce Springsteen – and the left – can reclaim and cultivate a vocabulary of patriotism

        Beyond the ignorance of the Trump insurrectionists, it is essential for the left to evaluate how the far right monopolized patriotism and the hallmarks of Americana without much difficulty. The left has always demonstrated a healthy aversion to displays of national pride. Understanding the manipulative power of the flag, and that maudlin tributes to “God and country” typically shadow the ongoing injustices that take place under their invocation, progressives have largely neglected to offer a counterargument to operationally anti-American pundits and politicians who personify the words of Jewish activist and journalist James Wise, often misattributed to Sinclar Lewis: “If fascism comes to America . . . it will probably be wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty.”

      • Skeletons in the Neoliberal Cupboard

        And neoliberalism also has many other skeletons lurking in a cupboard. Largely, this is not what the prophets of neoliberalism want you to know. Well, it is bit of a Rumsfeld moment. There are many things we know about neoliberalism that they think we don’t know. But there are things we do not know about neoliberalism. Finally, there are things the fortune-tellers of neoliberalism do not want us to know.

        Now we will expose some of these secrets, the things the demagogues of neoliberalism do not want us to know.

      • Georgia Bill Would Criminalize Giving Water to Voters Waiting in Long Lines
      • Biden’s Foreign Policy: No Joy in Mudville

        For four years, that was the excuse I got from anti-war Donald Trump supporters every time he escalated one of the several wars he inherited from George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

        I expect to start hearing it from anti-war Joseph Biden supporters soon.

      • Right-Wing Supreme Court Justices May Weaken Key Provision of Voting Rights Act
      • Biden, Team D and the Dimming Prospects of Getting Anything Meaningful Through the Senate

        1. A nominal 50-50 split,

        2. Joe Manchin and Kysten Sinema enjoying the power that having a line-item veto provides,

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Russian catering mogul Evgeny Prigozhin wins another defamation lawsuit against Alexey Navalny, along with almost $7,000

        Alexey Navalny is locked away for the next two and a half years, but catering mogul Evgeny Prigozhin’s litigation against the opposition politician drags on. A court in Moscow has granted another of Prigozhin’s defamation claims, at least in part, awarding the businessman 500,000 rubles ($6,710).

      • Content Moderation Case Study: Bumble Shuts Down Sharon Stone’s Account, Not Believing It’s Really Her (2019)

        Summary: Almost any platform that allows users to create accounts eventually has to deal with questions of identity and impersonation. Many platforms set up systems like “verified” or “trusted” users for certain recognizable accounts. Others focus on real name policies, or trying to verify all users. But services often discover challenges that come with celebrity users and verification.

      • Opinion | Ma Bell with Mind Control: Liberalism, Radicalism, and the Evolving Face of Censorship
      • Two Christians Sentenced to Prison and Heavy Fine in Algeria

        “Continuing our fight, we asked the administrative court to intervene,” Pastor Seighir said. “Here too we were successful, and the judgment arrived on October 13, 2019 ordering the removal of the seals and the reopening of the bookstore, with financial compensation of 500,000 dinars [US$3,745]. Unfortunately, the wali did not comply with the order of justice, and the bookstore remained closed. Four years of closure.”

      • A Cardinal Sin

        Free speech matters more to me, I suspect, than to a scholar of French fiction. It might even be said that my family came to Stanford in 2016 as free-speech refugees. My wife Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s public criticisms of her former religion are regarded by Islamists as blasphemy, punishable by death. Her name appeared on an Al Qaeda list of 11 targets which included the editor of Charlie Hebdo. Following the massacre in Paris that claimed his life in 2015, we were advised to relocate from Harvard because of the ease with which we could be tracked down. After 12 years of teaching some of the history department’s most popular courses, I was reluctant to leave—all the more so when I was informed that the Stanford history department had no interest in offering me even a courtesy appointment, much less a joint one. But we had to move, and Hoover’s offer was in many other ways attractive.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Detroit Will Use $200,000 in Taxpayer Money to Fund Claim Against BLM Group
      • The House Passed a Bill Named for George Floyd. It Won’t Stop Police Killings.
      • Cornel West: The Whiteness of Harvard and Wall Street Is “Jim Crow, New Style”
      • Israel: Orthodox Parties Shaken by Court Ruling on Law of Return

        In a groundbreaking eight-to-one decision, the Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that the Law of Return, which grants citizenship to any Jewish person who comes to Israel, applies to anyone who converted to Judaism while in Israel through a non-orthodox conversion. This ruling has created a great deal of political turmoil and anger among Zionist-religious parties and the State chief rabbinate.

      • Ruling on Murder Case by Judge Suffering From Dementia Will Stand, Court Says

        A New York judge has rejected the claim of a Brooklyn man who said his bid to have his murder conviction overturned was mishandled by a judge later found to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

        Judge Raymond Rodriguez of State Supreme Court said he found no evidence that his former colleague’s illness had affected her decision to deny the man’s motion to have his 1999 murder conviction vacated.

      • Court says you can sue TSA agents who don’t let you film them

        Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that TSA checkpoint staff can be sued (and, potentially, held personally liable for damages) for stopping a traveler from recording video with his cellphone of them searching (“patting down”) his wife, and ordering him to delete the video.

        The initial decision in the case of Dyer v. Smith is likely to be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. But Judge Gibney’s ruling is an important step toward holding the TSA accountable to the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech and of the press) and 4th Amendment (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure) to the US Constitution.

        In particular, Judge Gibney not only (1) recognized that members of the public have a Constitutional right to film at TSA checkpoints, and not to have their recordings seized, but also (2) rejected the claim that this right was not “clearly established” and thus that TSA checkpoint staff should have “qualified immunity” from lawsuits, and (3) allowed the lawsuit against the TSA to go forward, under the so-called “Bivens doctrine” already recognized by courts in other contexts, even though there is no specific law (other than the Constitution itself, which ought to suffice) providing for lawsuits against TSA staff who violate travelers’ Constitutional rights.

      • Egypt – Another Terrifying Case of Anti-Christian Persecution

        Even today, though, most human beings on the Earth haven’t the luxury of fabricating such ideologically-useful fantasies as “micro-aggressions” and the like over which to be aggrieved. They can’t afford to deny the self-evident tenuousness of the social order in which they find themselves and the ubiquity of the inhumanity with which all too many people treat others. The pseudo-sophistication that permits affluent Westerners to dismiss Good and Evil as the imaginary preoccupations of the superstitious and uneducated most of the rest of the planet, if they thought about it at all, would recognize as both demonstrably stupid and a fast track to certain death.

      • Federal Legislators Take Another Run At Ending Qualified Immunity

        Last summer as protests raged around the nation in response to the killing of an unarmed black man by a white Minnesota police officer, federal legislators offered up a solution to one of the hot garbage problems of our time. A federal police reform bill contained a number of fixes to policing in America, including one crucial element that would make it far easier for citizens to pursue lawsuits over rights violations: the termination of the qualified immunity defense.

      • Arkansas Lawmakers Pass Near-Total Abortion Ban in Bid to Force SCOTUS Review
      • What the Horrific Crash on the Border Says About U.S. Immigration Policy

        The cause of the collision between an SUV and a semitruck that left 13 dead in Holtville, California, on Tuesday morning is still a horrific mystery. But federal investigators are exploring a likely explanation for why the overloaded car sped through an intersection in the rural area: a case of human smuggling turned deadly.

        Surveillance footage shows the 1997 Ford Expedition and another SUV loaded with people entering the U.S. through a breach in the border fence shortly before the crash. Ten victims were Mexican nationals; the other three were women from Guatemala. While consular officers keep working to confirm victims’ names, special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement began piecing together how 25 adults came to be crammed into a vehicle meant for no more than eight.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Why You Can’t Sue Your Broadband Monopoly

        The relationship between the federal judiciary and the executive agencies is a complex one. While Congress makes the laws, they can grant the agencies rulemaking authority to interpret the law. So long as the agency’s interpretation of any ambiguous language in the statute is reasonable, the courts will defer to the judgment of the agency.

        For broadband access, the courts have deferred to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) judgment on the proper classification of broadband services twice in the last several years. In 2015, the Court deferred to the FCC when it classified broadband as Title II in the Open Internet Order. In 2017, it deferred again when broadband internet was reclassified as Title I in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. A Title II service is subject to strict FCC oversight, rules, and regulations, but a Title I service is not.

        Classification of services isn’t the only place where the courts defer to the FCC’s authority. Two Supreme Court decisions – Verizon Communications, Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC v. Billing – have established the precedent that if an industry is overseen by an expert regulatory agency (such as broadband being overseen by the FCC) then the courts will defer to the agency’s judgment on competition policy because the agency has the particular and specific knowledge to make the best determination.

      • Tim Wu, the ‘father of net neutrality,’ is joining the Biden administration

        Wu is a prominent voice online, as one of the most well-known advocates for a free and open internet. He’s spent years arguing for the concept of net neutrality — the idea that the internet should be free of throttling or control from the government or companies that provide it.

        He’s also been a prominent voice in recent years on the subject of antitrust regulation against big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, arguing that these companies have gotten too large and lack competition.

      • Biden appoints tech critic to competition policy role

        A notable critic of the biggest tech companies, Columbia University Law School professor Tim Wu, is joining the Biden administration in a role focused on addressing the market power of the tech giants.

        The White House on Friday announced Wu’s appointment as special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy.

      • AT&T Spins Off DirecTV After Losing Billions On Its TV Dreams

        We’ve noted a few times how giant telecom providers, as companies that have spent the better part of the last century as government-pampered monopolies, are adorable when they try (then inevitably fail) to innovate or seriously compete in more normal markets. Verizon’s attempt to pivot from curmudgeonly old phone company to sexy new ad media darling, for example, has been a cavalcade of clumsy errors, missteps, and wasted money.

      • Electricity vs. Broadband: Does History Repeat Itself?

        One can see something similar with regard to the introduction of revolutionary technologies like electricity and broadband.

        Today, Americans take household electric for granted, but this was not always the case. Millions of U.S. households have access to electricity to power water heating, lighting, refrigeration, TV, telephone and other products. And yet, according to one estimate, about 15,000 families — 60,000 people – are not connected to the electric grid; many are located on Native American reservations. (In addition, about 18,000 families don’t have running water in their house.)

    • Monopolies

      • Could One of Your Facebook Friends Be the Next Qanon Shaman?

        “In the past you had to seek it out,” Phillips explains. “Now, it comes to you. Algorithms often know things about us that we might not know ourselves.” This feedback loop massively accelerates the ferment of a conspiratorial mindset. Computer scientist Tristan Harris, formerly of YouTube’s parent company Google, told The New York Times that the promotion of “extreme” content could be, to some extent, by design. “If I’m YouTube and I want you to watch more,” he said, “I’m always going to steer you toward Crazytown.” Beliefs that might have previously calcified through a much longer process—a lifetime of evenings spent tuning to conspiracy theory radio or perusing titles in the shadier corners of specialty bookstores—now take hold seemingly overnight.

      • Copyrights

        • Should CC-Licensed Content be Used to Train AI? It Depends.

          CC is dedicated to facilitating greater openness for the common good. We believe that the use of openly accessible content can lead to greater innovation, collaboration, and creativity. We also believe that the limitations within copyright law, which generally privilege the reuse of the facts and ideas embodied in creative works, contribute to a rich and generative public domain. CC thus supports, in principle, broad access and use of copyright works, including openly licensed content, to train AI in the public interest. Such access can, for instance, help reduce bias, enhance inclusion, promote important activities such as education and research, and foster beneficial innovation in the development of AI.

        • EA College Sports Is Back, But Some Schools Are Opting Out Until Name, Image, Likeness Rules Are Created To Compensate Athletes

          Way back in 2013, a class action lawsuit started by ex-UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon resulted ultimately in the NCAA found to have violated antitrust laws. The antitrust bit comes from a waiver the NCAA forces student athletes to sign that removes their ability to be compensated for their names, images, or likeness (NIL). While this restriction has been in place at the NCAA for eons, this case came about due to O’Bannon discovering that he was represented in EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball game in a “classic” team loaded into the game.

        • RomUniverse Owner Opposes Nintendo’s $15 Million Piracy Damages Request

          The owner of RomUniverse has asked a California federal court to deny Nintendo’s motion for summary judgment, including $15 million in piracy damages. In a pro se defense, the owner denies that he uploaded pirated games, while pointing out that others had access to the now-defunct site and its social media accounts.

        • New UK Police Unit Announces Two Arrests Following Pirate IPTV Investigation

          A hitherto unknown police unit formed by City of London Police, the Intellectual Property Office and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, has announced two arrests in the UK following an investigation into pirate IPTV. The fledgling North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit says it executed five warrants and also seized electrical items, cash and counterfeit goods.

IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 05, 2021

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:58 am by Needs Sunlight

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