03.06.21

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.
          
          https://clanmills.com/exiv2/book/
          
          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 (
          
          https://github.com/Exiv2/exiv2/issues/1466).
          
          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.
          
          Yours,
          
          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’.

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  16. Exposing Hard Truths is the First Step or the Path Towards Justice

    A reflection and a moment taken to set aside tribalism (shallow differences based on allegiances of personal comfort), for we need look back at actual facts — however inconvenient at times — and consider the reality of the situation



  17. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, April 15, 2021



  18. [Meme] Laundering Bribes as 'Cooperation Money'

    Germany has financial interest in ensuring that EPO abuses carry on and nobody holds the EPO accountable



  19. Articles in Support of Richard Stallman

    Reproduced with permission



  20. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 20: Taking Stock

    Benoît Battistelli's legacy at the EPO is a legacy of corruption and cover-up; we take stock of how illegality was defended and persists to this day



  21. Links 15/4/2021: Zorin OS 16 Beta and Pushing Linux to GitHub- and Microsoft-Connected Rust

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] Enemies With Common Interests

    The Software Freedom Movement (or Free Software Movement) has many enemies; some of them just hide in the shadows or speak out through shadowy front groups/NGOs that they semi-officially sponsor



  23. [Meme] Germany's Red Cash Cow

    EPO brings a lot of money to the German state. But at what cost to citizens and Germany’s public image?



  24. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 19: The Deafening Silence of the Media

    "There has been speculation that Maas might have had his own political interest in protecting Battistelli and the Balkan Express because of certain allegations about financial irregularities involving the German Patents and Trademark Office (DPMA) which were doing the rounds at the time."



  25. The Indirection Game

    How to attack institutions and concepts by personifying them, then proceeding to character assassination based on lies and deliberate distortions



  26. Links 15/4/2021: LXQt 0.17, Proxmox Backup Server 1.1

    Links for the day



  27. The Patent Battles in Europe Are Connected to the War on GNU/Linux (as a Community-Led Effort)

    Monoplisers of GNU and Linux want us to think that OIN is the solution while they actively lobby for software patents in Europe and the people in charge of Europe’s second-largest institution and Europe’s largest patent office help them; this long video contains thoughts about news from the past couple of days



  28. Richard Stallman: Freedom is the Goal (Updated)

    What Richard Stallman (RMS) told me in person on his trip here



  29. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, April 14, 2021



  30. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 18: Zero Tolerance for “Lawless Zones”?

    "It comes as no surprise that Maas appeared as a guest of honour at the European Inventor of the Year Boondoggle in Berlin in 2014 where he was seen on stage clapping along with the EPO President."


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