03.17.21

Links 17/3/2021: Tor 0.3.5.14/0.4.4.8/0.4.5.7 and Sway 1.6 RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Bootlin contributions to Linux 5.11

        Linux 5.11 was released quite some time ago now, but it’s never too late to have a look at Bootlin contributions to this release. As usual, we recommend reading the LWN articles on the 5.11 merge window: part 1 and part2. Also of interest is the Kernelnewbies page for 5.11.

      • Intel Alder Lake S Enablement Code Sent In To DRM-Next For Linux 5.13 – Phoronix

        Coincidentally on the same day as formally announcing Rocket Lake S, Intel’s open-source driver engineers have sent in their next-gen “Rocket Lake S” enablement code to DRM-Next for landing this spring in the Linux 5.13 merge window.

        A big batch of Intel kernel graphics driver code was sent in as a pull request on Tuesday for DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 5.13 merge window, which should be opening around the end of April and then releasing as stable this summer. Like clockwork with Intel being well known for their timely Linux hardware support, Alder Lake S graphics support headlines this pull.

        With building off the existing and mature Gen12 Xe graphics code path, the Alder Lake S enablement isn’t all that big but still significant. This Alder Lake S graphics enabling goes along with a lot of other Alder Lake enablement that has been happening in the kernel from sound support to other device enablement.

      • Serious Security: The Linux kernel bugs that surfaced after 15 years – Naked Security

        The bugs were found in the kernel code that implements iSCSI, a component that implements the venerable SCSI data interface over the network, so you can talk to SCSI devices such as tape and disk drives that aren’t connected directly to your own computer.

        Of course, if you don’t use SCSI or iSCSI anywhere in your network any more, you’re probably shrugging right now and thinking, “No worries for me, I don’t have any of the iSCSI kernel drivers loaded because I’m simply not using them.”

        After all, buggy kernel code can’t be exploited if it’s just sitting around on disk – it has to get loaded into memory and actively used before it can cause any trouble.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Samuel Iglesias: VK_KHR_depth_stencil_resolve support on Turnip

          Last year, I have been working on Turnip driver development as my daily job at Igalia. One of those tasks was implementing the support for VK_KHR_depth_stencil_resolve extension.

          [...]

          I also found other VK_KHR_depth_stencil_resolve CTS tests failing: the ones testing the format compatibility for VK_FORMAT_D32_SFLOAT_S8_UINT and VK_FORMAT_D24_UNORM_S8_UINT formats. For VK_FORMAT_D32_SFLOAT_S8_UINT failures, it was needed to take into account the particularity that it has a separate plane for the stencil part when resolving it to VK_FORMAT_S8_UINT. In the VK_FORMAT_D24_UNORM_S8_UINT failures, the problem was that we were setting wrongly the resolve mode used by the HW: it was wrongly doing a sample average, when we wanted to use the value of sample 0. This merge request fixed both issues.

          And that’s all, this was a extension that allowed me to dive into the different resolve paths used by Turnip and learn one or two things about the HW ;-) Thanks a lot to Jonathan Marek for his reviews and suggestions to improve the implementation of this extension.

        • Steam Adds Support For The Single-File Mesa Shader Cache

          It was less than one month ago that Valve developers added a new “single file” cache option for Mesa as an alternative to its existing multi-file cache. Valve now with their latest Steam for Linux beta is supporting this new single-file cache for faster performance.

          The Mesa single file cache can help for on-disk space savings, compared to the existing Mesa on-disk shader cache taking up as much as 3x the space of the single file cache. The single file cache also makes it easier to redistribute cached shaders such as via Steam with all the shaders being tucked into one file rather than many different ones.

        • RADV Lands Another Navi Optimization In Mesa 21.1 To Help With MSAA Performance – Phoronix

          The developers working on the RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver for Mesa are relentless in their quest for delivering optimal performance. Hitting Mesa 21.1 today were another set of patches for enhancing the MSAA anti-aliasing performance for GFX10 (Navi 1x / Navi 2x) graphics cards.

          With this MR to allow skipping FMASK decompressions, Vulkan games making use of multi-sample anti-aliasing (MSAA) should see around 1~2% faster performance with the current Navi and newer GPUs.

        • Sway 1.6-rc1 Released With Better Touchscreen/Tablet Support

          For fans of Sway as the i3-inspired Wayland compositor the v1.6 update is coming soon while out today is the release candidate.

          Sway continues enjoying a lot of popularity as one of the “alternative” and lightweight Wayland compositors as well as for spearheading the WLROOTS compositor support library. With Sway 1.6-rc1 there are more improvements inbound for bettering this compositor.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT Linux Performance

        At the start of March AMD announced the Radeon RX 6700 XT as their new RDNA2 graphics card starting out at $479 USD. Tomorrow the RX 6700 XT is going on sale while today marks the embargo lift on reviews. We have been testing the Radeon RX 6700 XT over the past two weeks and have up our initial Linux support experience and gaming benchmark results to share.

        The Radeon RX 6700 XT is AMD’s new RDNA2 offering that offers 40 compute units, 2560 stream processors, 96MB of infinity cache, and 12GB of GDDR6 video memory on a 192-bit interface. Pricing will start out at ~$479 USD and should be available tomorrow, retail stock permitting – AMD insisted on the call they have been working to ensure sufficient supplies are available.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • 3 Ways to check DNS records from Linux terminal

        DNS stands for Domain Name System or Domain Name Servers which translates Internet domain and host names to IP addresses and vice versa.

        DNS is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network.

        It’s basically a set of mapping files that tell the DNS server which IP address each domain or host is associated with, and how to handle requests sent to each domain.

      • How To Install Chef Workstation on CentOS 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Chef Workstation on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, A Chef is a configuration management tool that simplifies the manual and repetitive tasks for infrastructure management. With the Chef users can easily manage, configure and deploy the resources across the network from the centralized location irrespective of the environment (cloud, on-premises, or hybrid).

        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 install of the Chef Workstation on CentOS 8.

      • How to Install Podman on Ubuntu 20.04

        Podman (POD Manager) is a tool to manage OCI containers and pods. It is an open-source project which can be used in most Linux distributions that use daemonless container engine.

        Podman and docker use two different architectures. Docker depends on daemon for all its functionality where Podman directly interacts using runC. Podman has more functionalities in the Kubernetes environment. Commands are very similar to Docker commands and can work on root and rootless mode. Much different from other container runtime podman has the ability to deploy pods.

        In this article, we are going to explain how to install Podman on Ubuntu 20.04 and learn its basic usage to manage images and containers.

      • How to Use Linode StackScripts for Deploying PreConfigured Linux Servers

        There are always a few things to do after deploying a new Linux server. It could be changing the SSH configuration, creating non-root users or installing and configuring Docker.

        These are all repetitive tasks that could be especially frustrating when you’re testing something and you have to deploy servers with the same configuration.

        For example, I use reverse proxy setup to test out different kinds of web services and applications. Doing all those steps again and again on all the new servers could be such a pain.

      • How to download Youtube videos on Linux using command line

        Use the youtube-dl tool in the Command line terminal of your Linux to download and save various online videos directly on your local drive.

        YouTube is one of the popular platforms to watch videos online and in case you want to download some of your videos from it on Linux such as Ubuntu, Debian, RHEL, Fedora, and CentOS; then we don’t need some GUI software. This can be done directly using the command terminal of the Linux distro you are using.

        Moreover, many of us are not regular YouTube video downloaders, thus for once in a while getting some video for offline usage doesn’t need software. We can use a simple command-line tool called youtube-dl for downloading online videos. However, this tutorial is for educational purposes, thus before saving anyone’s video please take care of all copyright laws applicable to that.

      • How to Dual Boot on Systems With SSD and HDD Both

        Another dual boot video but this one is slightly different. In this scenario, your system comes preloaded with Windows 10 with a small SSD and a large HDD. Where do you install Linux on it? On the SSD or HDD?

      • File systems and UUIDs on Linux | Network World

        File systems and UUIDs have a special relationship on Linux systems. What are these very long identifiers and how can you view the connections between them and disk partitions?

      • How to Check Disk Space on Ubuntu 20.04

        Tracking disk usage information is a day-to-day task of any system administrator. Linux has some built-in utilities that help you find the disk space of your system.

      • How To Share Folder In AQEMU Virtual Machine

        Completing the AQEMU VM guide, now it’s a how to do folder sharing on it. With this, guest OS can transfer (copy-paste) files with the host OS. It is surprisingly easy and does not require proprietary software so you can do it on completely free operating systems like Trisquel too. Now let’s go.

      • How To Make AQEMU Single Window

        Continuing the AQEMU guide, it is more efficient to make running virtual machine into single window (attached) instead of double (separated) and this simple note explains how to configure that. Let’s go!

      • LFCA: Learn Basic File Management Commands in Linux – Part 2

        This article is Part 2 of the LFCA series, here in this part, we will explain about Linux file system and cover the basic file management commands, that are required for the LFCA certification exam.

        As you get started out in Linux, you’ll spend a great deal of time interacting with files and directories. Directories are also known as folders, and they are organized in a hierarchical structure.

        In the Linux operating system, each entity is regarded as a file. In fact, there’s a popular statement in Linux circles that goes: ‘Everything is a file in Linux’. This is just an oversimplification and in the real sense, most files in Linux are special files that include symbolic links, block files, and so on.

    • Games

      • Crusader Kings III 1.3 free update and Northern Lords DLC out, free to play until Sunday | GamingOnLinux

        Easily one of the best strategy games supported on Linux, Crusader Kings III from Paradox Interactive has a huge free update plus a DLC and some free to play time.

        The 1.3 “Corvus” update went out which adds in a huge amount to the game including Winter. Yes, Winter is coming so you need to be more prepared than ever as the map gets a blanket of snow and there’s a few different types. There’s a new personal combat system that has characters have a duel, the Poet trait has been added to the game, an enhanced hair & beard inheritance gene system, a vast number of new Coat of Arms for Norse rulers, 8 new Norse-inspired Custom Faith icons and more.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Distributions

      • 10 Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Old Computers and Low-Power Systems

        The best lightweight Linux distros still provide users with a modern computing experience, even on older computers and devices with low-end hardware. They retain many features that make Linux such a versatile operating system while cutting out the bloat that would otherwise make these distros unsuitable for low-end machines. So without any further delay, here are the best lightweight Linux distros you can use to breathe life back into your old computers.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Google Translate

        Google has a firm grip with their products and services ubiquitous on the desktop. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there can be questions about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.

        What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.

        In this series, we’ll explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We’ll recommend open source solutions.

      • My favorite open source project management tools

        Projects like building a satellite, developing a robot, or launching a new product are all expensive, involve different providers, and contain hard dependencies that must be tracked.

        The approach to project management in the world of large projects is quite simple (in theory at least). You create a project plan and split it into smaller pieces until you can reasonably assign costs, duration, resources, and dependencies to the various activities. Once the project plan is approved by the people in charge of the money, you use it to track the project’s execution. Drawing all of the project’s activities on a timeline produces a bar chart called a Gantt chart.

      • DevOps tool K6’s journey to open source

        Robin Gustafsson, CEO of K6, an open source load-impact service, joined Ben Rometsch, CEO of Flagsmith, an open source feature-flagging product, on episode 8 of The Craft of Open Source podcast. Their conversation offers interesting insights into what K6 does, how the software developed, and the decisions the project made along the way.

        K6 provides a load-testing service, which means it helps identify reliability and scalability problems in software systems such as websites, web apps, APIs, and microservices. In other words, K6 can be programmed to test whatever needs to be tested to identify potential issues from increased traffic and overloading.

      • Web Browsers

        • Vroom, Vroom: Vivaldi Browser Gets a Serious Speed Boost

          Google Chrome recently talked up its performance enhancements on Windows, macOS and Android, now Vivaldi it taking its turn.

          The latest version of this Chromium-based browser is here and its makers say it’s faster than ever: browser tabs open twice as fast as in previous versions, while new windows open 26% faster than before.

          Stats were gleaned from tests using internal benchmarks conducted on an Ubuntu PC with a 2 GHz Intel Core i3 CPU and 4 GB RAM. While Vivaldi hasn’t benchmarked its browser comparative to others, (i.e. Vivaldi is faster than before but not necessarily faster than, say Chrome), those who use it are sure to be thrilled nonetheless.

        • Vivaldi Browser 3.7 Released With Significant Performance Improvements – It’s FOSS News

          Even though Vivaldi Browser is not entirely an open-source browser, it offers proper Linux support by offering both DEB and RPM packages to install it.

          It may not be the most popular choice but it is still an impressive browser that lets you enhance your productivity by easily managing the tabs and windows that you’ve launched. Not just limited to that, it also keeps an eye on its performance efficiency so that it presents a better experience overall when compared to Google Chrome.

          Now, as per a recent press release, it looks like Vivaldi has made some significant performance improvements. And, surprisingly, they claim that their test results were based on a system running Ubuntu 18.04 with 2 GHz Intel Core i3 CPU and 4 GB RAM as the hardware configuration.

        • Brave – Privacy-focused Web Browser

          Brave is an open-source Chromium-based, privacy-focused, and cross-platform web browser. It has almost all the features that popular web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox have with additional protection against ads, online surveillance, and more.

          [...]

          Brave team did an interesting test to find which web browser performs better. In the test, it compared Brave with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge on Windows, MacOS, and Android. In the test, it found that Brave opened popular sites 3 to 6 times faster, consumed about half system memory & power, and a third of data usage. You can read the full report in this article.

          If you browse with Brave regularly, it shows you interesting information, the number of trackers brave blocked, internet bandwidth & time saved while browsing the Internet.

          Being based on Chromium web browser, users can install all their favorite extensions. Brave team also checks extensions and warns users if they try to install an extension that they have not checked yet.

        • Flow Browser, a Raspberry Pi optimized web browser for HMI

          We asked the company to run some tests and benchmarks for us. First starting with html5test.com score being 332 points for Flow compared to Chromium’s 471 on the Raspberry Pi 400. Ekioh explained that some of the features of a standard web browser may not be needed for HMI use cases. It’s not too bad as sites like the Guardian, Wikipedia, Twitter, The Register can apparently render just fine, and so is CNX Software.

        • New releases (with security fixes): Tor 0.3.5.14, 0.4.4.8, and 0.4.5.7

          We have a new stable release today. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.5.7 on the download page. Packages should be available within the next several weeks, with a new Tor Browser coming next week.

          Also today, Tor 0.3.5.14 (changelog) and Tor 0.4.4.8 (changelog) have also been released; you can find them (and source for older Tor releases) at https://dist.torproject.org.

      • Education

        • Announcing foss-north 2021

          The conference will be held on May 31 – June 1, paired with the community day on May 30. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the descision to go hybrid or fully virtual will be taken mid April 2021.

          Call for Papers

          The call for papers is open until April 11. For more information, visit the Contribute page.

      • FSFE

        • “I Love Free Software Day” report for 2021

          For this year’s “I Love Free Software Day” we tried something new. Together with FSFE’s volunteer Florian Snow we created some share pictures for sharing our love for Free Software. Those share pics could be used to create a personalised message saying why you love Free Software. The pictures could then also be shared on social media.

          Our second novelty this time was our Software Freedom Podcast Episode which provides a nice background of the origin and last 11 years of the “I Love Free Software Day”. For the episode, Bonnie Mehring also invited several people from popular Free Software communities and asked them to share their thoughts about “I Love Free Software Day” and its importance.

          Similar to the last years we have been heavily present on social media, and due to the current pandemic, had not planned for any offline events. But this did not prevent us from celebrating and sharing our love for Free Software. Here are the numbers and figures for “I Love Free Software Day” 2021. In the Fediverse #ilovefs was the most used hashtag!

      • Programming/Development

        • Mike Hommey: 6000

          It seems to be a month of anniversaries for me.

          Yesterday, I was randomly checking how many commits I had in mozilla-central, and the answer was 5999. Now that I’ve pushed something else, I’ve now reached my 6000th commit.

        • 10 Best Free Programming Graphical User Interfaces for R

          AI, Machine Learning, and data science are some of the most valuable skills right now. The rising popularity invites several beginners to the field. The beginners always suffer in the choice of a programming language. The decision is, of course, the developer’s to make. In this regard, R is one of the best programming languages for AI and ML. It supports a free software environment and statistical computing. However, you will need a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to work with R. Many data scientists prefer to work in the command line, but beginners should choose a definite GUI. There are many free Graphical User Interfaces for R. We have listed some of them so that you don’t have to waste time searching them.

        • What Is a DevOps Engineer?

          The principles and practice of DevOps are still evolving and finding new applications within organizations. But, these days, a DevOps approach is key to successful digital transformation, cloud computing, security, site reliability, and more. Within this scope of continuous change, DevOps engineers play a crucial role.

          [...]

          In today’s tech landscape, “the old-school IT silos are gone,” writes Neelan Choksi, “and every engineer must be more well-rounded and contribute more than just the activities traditionally associated with their job title.” With the overlapping roles and responsibilities of DevOps engineers, software engineers, SREs, and others, it’s important to keep your skills up to date and stay informed about industry best practices. You can learn more from the resources below.

        • [Old] The Great Divide

          The divide is between people who self-identify as a (or have the job title of) front-end developer, yet have divergent skill sets.

          On one side, an army of developers whose interests, responsibilities, and skill sets are heavily revolved around JavaScript.

          On the other, an army of developers whose interests, responsibilities, and skill sets are focused on other areas of the front end, like HTML, CSS, design, interaction, patterns, accessibility, etc.

          Let’s hear from people who are feeling this divide.

        • Python

          • Bloom Filter: A Simple Way to Optimize Your Software

            A Bloom filter efficiently tests if an element is a member of a set. It was first proposed by Burton Howard Bloom all the way back in 1970. Although a little unknown, they have become ubiquitous, especially in distributed systems and databases. Bloom filters are an excellent time and memory saver.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

        • Java

          • Oracle Announces Java 16

            Today Oracle announced the availability of Java 16 (Oracle JDK 16), including 17 new enhancements to the platform that will further improve developer productivity. The latest Java Development Kit (JDK) finalized Pattern Matching for instanceof (JEP 394) and Records (JEP 395), language enhancements that were first previewed in Java 14. Additionally, developers can use the new Packaging Tool (JEP 392) to ship self-contained Java applications, as well as explore three incubating features, the Vector API (JEP 338), the Foreign Linker API (JEP 389), and the Foreign-Memory Access API (JEP 389), and one preview feature, Sealed Classes (JEP 397).

          • Oracle Launches Java 16 with 17 New Features for Developers

            Oracle has launched Java 16 (Oracle JDK 16) which includes 17 new enhancements expected to further improve developer productivity.

            According to the software company, Java updates can be expected every six months to provide developers with a predictable release schedule. This offers a steady stream of innovations while also delivering continued performance, stability and security improvements.

          • Programming 101: Input and output with Java | Opensource.com

            When you write a program, your application may need to read from and write to files stored on the user’s computer. This is common in situations when you want to load or store configuration options, you need to create log files, or your user wants to save work for later. Every language handles this task a little differently. This article demonstrates how to handle data files with Java.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Souped-Up Gopher: Project Gemini’s Plan to Revolutionize Internet Browsing

        A team of highly motivated and principled developers is quietly building an entirely new web of content, served by different servers and accessed with an entirely new kind of software.

        As the community grows, it’s been consciously designed to invite the involvement of others. The plan also involves keeping out, hopefully forever, some of the worst features that crept into our modern web. It offers a fresh and thought-provoking perspective on some of the choices we’ve already made in the online world of today. And raises interesting questions. If you were designing a new protocol for sharing documents and files over our vast global networks, what would you leave in?

        And more importantly, what would you leave out?

  • Leftovers

    • One of the greats Russian-Tajik singer Manizha is headed for Eurovision 2021. Here’s how her music has evolved over the years.

      Last week, Russian-Tajik singer Manizha Sangin (known by the stage name Manizha) won the Russian ticket to the Eurovision Song Contest during the country’s first open vote in seven years. Her entry, a song titled “Russian Woman,” sparked an outpouring of commentary, not only on social media but also from public figures in Russia. At Meduza’s request, music journalist Artyom Makarsky recounts how Manizha’s image and her music have changed over the years — and how key elements of her solo work came together in “Russian Woman.”

    • Fugazi: The Path of Most Resistance
    • Apple won’t leave Russia: iPhone maker bows to new government-imposed app requirements

      On March 16, the newspaper Vedomosti reported that the computer manufacturer Apple has agreed to comply with a law that requires the company to pre-install Russian-made applications on new mobile devices. Sources at Apple have confirmed this information to Meduza. Beginning on April 1 (when the new regulations start to enter force), customers activating their new iPhones and iPads will be prompted to install applications from a government-drafted list of domestic-owned software. The Russian legislation in question is known informally as “the law against Apple.”

    • Teen responsible for major Twitter [crack] to serve three years in prison

      Clark, who was arrested last year at the age of 17, was sentenced as a minor and will serve time in a juvenile facility followed by three years of probation, with a minimum sentence of 10 years if he breaks the probation.

      Clark was charged with using a variety of [cracking] and social engineering techniques to gain access to dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts and ask followers to send bitcoin to a cryptocurrency account.

    • Teen ‘mastermind’ behind the great Twitter [crack] sentenced to three years in prison

      Teenage Twitter [cracker] Graham Ivan Clark has pleaded guilty to last summer’s unprecedented bitcoin scam attack that involved the takeover of dozens of high-profile accounts on the social network, according to paperwork filed in Florida court on Tuesday. Clark, who was 17 when accused of leading the scam, will spend three years in prison as part of his plea deal. The Tampa Bay Times reported the news earlier today. Clark has already been credited with 229 days of time served since his arrest last summer. As part of the deal, Clark is also being sentenced as a “youthful offender,” which lessened his prison time and also opens up the possibility that he can serve some of his sentence at a boot camp, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Clark will also be banned from using computers without permission and without supervision from law enforcement.

    • Education

      • Russian lawmakers adopt amendments requiring official permission for ‘educational activities’

        The Russian State Duma has adopted in the third and final reading amendments to the education law aimed at bringing public outreach under state control to prevent “foreign interference.” Going forward, carrying out educational activities outside of a formal setting will require permission from the authorities. 

      • Why Programmers Should(n’t) Learn Theory

        I recently hit my five-year anniversary of teaching professional software engineers, and now is a great time to reflect on the role that theoretical topics have played in my work, and whether I’d recommend someone looking to become the arch-engineer of engineers should include in their path steps I’ve taken in developing my own niche of expertise.

        I’ve sometimes described my work as being a translator of theory, turning insights from research into actionable advice from engineers. So I’ve clearly benefited from it myself. And yet I spend a lot of time telling engineers not to study theory, or that it will be too much work for the benefit, or that there are no good books available.

        Parts of it are useful sources of software-engineering insight, parts are not. Parts give nourishment immediately; parts are rabbit holes. And some appear to have no relevance to practical engineering until someone invents a new technique based on it.

        I now finally write up my thoughts: how should someone seeking to improve their software engineering approach learning theory?

      • Cornel West quits Harvard after failing to win tenure

        He finally announced his planned departure through The Boycott Times, a social activist publication where he serves on the advisory board. There, he said he had returned to Harvard in 2017 to see if it would tolerate him talking frankly of the nation’s failure to confront oppressive capitalism.

      • University Spiralists and Aca-Zombies

        Today, universities are endured by academics until retirement and by students until securing a job. For both, the university quite literally means being prepared to accept and experience considerable discomfort. This discomfort is created by managers who have replaced scholarly officials Managerialism. While neoliberalism works mostly outside of companies, corporations and universities, inside them it takes on the form of managerialism—managing for the sake of managing..

        University Managerialism means a constant and above all consistent adherence to an all-defining performance culture euphemistically camouflaged as organisational culture. This organisational culture which is more often than not a managerially imposed culture is shaped by performance management, performance measures, performance assessments – mostly by done non-academics and orchestrated against academics – and by key performance indicators invented by university apparatchiks. In all this, performance means play-acting, pretending to be scholars but without any scholarship, and outright deceit. These university managers (or perhaps better university apparatchiks to use an old Stalinist term) take on two forms:

      • Opinion | What’s Your Zip Code? Why Poverty Matters in Public Education

        Our society has not taxed itself to make sure that all kids have great schools. 

      • The Institutional Bias of Forestry School Research

        A good example is a recent announcement by the Oregon State University Forestry School that:

        These researchers are arguing a restriction on cutting large trees (the 21-inch rule) in eastern Oregon hinders the “restoration” of forests.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Can We Stop Pretending SMS Is Secure Now?

        SMS text messages were already the weakest link securing just about anything online, mainly because there are tens of thousands of employees at mobile stores who can be tricked or bribed into swapping control over a mobile phone number to someone else. Now we’re learning about an entire ecosystem of companies that anyone could use to silently intercept text messages intended for other mobile users.

      • Correlated Failure

        sThe invaluable statistics published by Backblaze show that, despite being built from technologies close to the physical limits (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording, 3D NAND Flash), modern digital storage media are extraordinarily reliable. However, I have long believed that the models that attempt to project the reliability of digital storage systems from the statistics of media reliability are wildly optimistic. They ignore foreseeable causes of data loss such as Coronal Mass Ejections and ransomware attacks, which cause correlated failures among the media in the system. No matter how many they are, if all replicas are destroyed or corrupted the data is irrecoverable.

      • Proprietary

        • Microsoft hurries out this fix for Windows 10 printer crash problem

          Microsoft has released an out-of-band fix for printer troubles caused by last week’s Patch Tuesday update for older versions of Windows 10, plus a preview of Windows 10 20H1 to those who are on the Beta Channel of the Insiders program with a bunch of fixes for various glitches.

          Microsoft’s March 2021 Patch Tuesday update was somewhat overshadowed by the critical Exchange vulnerabilities, but this month’s Patch Tuesday also created Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) problems for Windows 10 PCs connected to multiple printer brands, as reported by Windows Latest last week.

        • Microsoft Apologizes ‘Deeply’ For Worldwide Azure, Teams Outage
        • Some Microsoft services still affected after authentication update issue

          But complaints continue to pour in, many about Teams not working as expected, and Sharepoint Online and OneDrive playing up as well.

        • Alibaba’s Web Browser Is Removed From Chinese App Stores

          Alibaba’s UC Browser vanished from China’s largest app stores after state-backed broadcaster CCTV blasted the popular mobile browser along with other services for failing consumers.

          Government-run China Central Television included the app among a number of brands it accused of flouting consumer rights in its annual name-and-shame program for March 15, World Consumer Rights Day. App stores run by Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. were among the local app stores that’ve since pulled the app, though Apple Inc. continues to offer UCWeb for iOS users.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • [Openwashing alert] The Rise of Open Source: Pandemic, Economy, Efficiency, Trust [Ed: Articles such as these remind us that “OPEN SOURCE” means monopolies now and that term is generally dead, needs to be abandoned. Speak about "Free Software" and “Software Freedom” (they hate this “F word”). People who "Speak" for "Open Source" are funded by the bodies that police the "Brand"; check their biggest sponsors to find proprietary software and surveillance companies. They sold us out.]

              Those familiar with open source know that it works and comes with many benefits. A testament to the rising adoption of open source is the recent moves by software giants such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle into the open-source community.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Google’s Efforts To Be Better About Your Privacy, Now Attacked As An Antitrust Violation

              We’ve talked a lot in the past about how almost no one seems to actually understand privacy, and that leads to a lot of bad policy-making, including policy-making that impacts the 1st Amendment and other concepts that we hold sacred. Sometimes, it creates truly bizarre scenarios, like the arguments being made by Texas’s Attorney General in the latest amended antitrust complaint against Google.

            • Charles Booker Eyes Running Against Rand Paul by Building Urban-Rural Coalition
            • Florida Sheriff’s Office Sued For Using ‘Predictive Policing’ Program To Harass Residents

              The Pasco County (FL) Sheriff’s Office is being sued over its targeted harassment program — one it likes to call “predictive policing.”

            • EU nations’ attempt to water down privacy protections could increase tension with US over personal data flows across the Atlantic

              To understand why a single sentence is potentially so momentous, it is necessary to go back a few years. At that time, a group of privacy organizations, including Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net, had brought legal actions against the UK, France and Belgium for their continuing use of “bulk data collection” – that is, indiscriminate mass data retention. The governments of these countries justified this invasion of privacy on the grounds of “national security”. On 6 October 2020, the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), issued its judgments for three related cases:

            • EFF’s Crowd-Sourced Atlas of Surveillance Project Honored with Award for Advancing Public’s Right to Know About Police Spying

              The Atlas, launched in July, contains data on more than 7,000 surveillance programs—including facial recognition, drones, and automated license plate readers—operated by thousands of local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide. With a clickable U.S map and a searchable database of cities and technologies, the Atlas sheds light on the devices and systems being purchased locally, often without residents’ knowledge or any oversight, to surveil people and neighborhoods.

              EFF shares the award, presented by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, with students and faculty members at University of Nevada, Reno Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ). Over the course of two years, hundreds of students have researched and collected public records, news articles, and open datasets to build the Atlas of Surveillance database. The project also compiles for the first time research collected by news organizations, nonprofits, and academics, including the ACLU and the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

              “Law enforcement agencies around the country have collected more and more advanced surveillance systems to gather information en masse on the public. But details about which police departments have acquired what systems had never been aggregated before into a single place,” said EFF Director of Investigations Dave Maass, who leads the project. “When the Reynolds School approached EFF about working together with as many as 150 students each semester on a project, the Atlas of Surveillance was born.”

            • MEPS Call For Further Improvements To The GDPR Implementation And Strengthened Enforcement

              The MEPS adopted on Tuesday the draft resolution evaluating the functioning of the GDPR and called for effective enforcement, and adequate resources for supervisory authorities.

              In the draft resolution adopted on Tuesday with 41 votes to 2 and 24 abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee concludes that so far the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been an overall success and that it was not necessary at this stage to update or review the legislation.

            • Facebook’s GDPR bypass reaches Austrian Supreme Court

              Facebook’s “consent bypass”. When the GDPR came into effect, one big benefit was the duty to have a clear opt-in consent when companies want to process user data. In addition to consent, there are five other legal bases to process data under Article 6(1) GDPR. One of these basis is processing that is “necessary for the performance of a contract”. On 25.5.2018 at midnight, when the GDPR became applicable, Facebook has simply named things like “personalized advertisement” in its terms and conditions. Facebook now argues that it has a “duty to provide personalized advertisement” to the users, therefore, it does not need the user’s consent to process his or her personal data.

              The big difference between consent and contract? The GDPR has very strict rules on consent. Users must be fully informed, have a free choice to agree or to disagree and must be able to consent to each type of processing specifically. Users can also withdraw consent at any time and at no costs. Contracts are, however, a matter of each national law and are usually much more flexible. Users must not have understood a contract to be bound, details can be hidden in “terms and conditions” and they may come on a “take it or leave it” basis.

            • Dropbox adds a free, limited password manager

              Beginning in April, users of the Dropbox Basic plan can try a limited version of the Dropbox password manager, known as Passwords. Here’s the catch: You’ll be able to save only 50 passwords. You’ll also be limited to syncing those passwords on three devices. (Eventually you’ll be able to share those passwords securely via another user—that feature is coming soon, Dropbox says.)

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | The Ongoing Calamity: US Collective Punishment of the Venezuelan People Must End

        Washington’s agenda in Venezuela has unmistakably failed, and no amount of additional sanctions is likely to change the political outcome.

      • Opinion | How Endless Wars Abroad Helped Spark the January 6 Attack at Home

        What once might have seemed improbable for our democracy to suffer suddenly became a reality, one that had long been experienced by so many other peoples at our hands.

      • UK Nuclear Arsenal Plan Slammed as ‘Irresponsible, Dangerous’ Violation of International Law

        “As the world wrestles with the pandemic and climate chaos, it beggars belief that our government is opting to increase Britain’s nuclear arsenal.”

      • Day of the Drone

        While there is some truth in the hype, one needs to be especially wary of military “game changers,” since there is always a seller at the end of the pitch. In his examination of the two major books on drones–Christian Brose’s “The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare,” and Michael Boyle’s “The Drone Age”–military analyst Andrew Cockburn points out that the victims of drones are mostly civilians, not soldiers. While drones can take out military targets, they are more commonly used to assassinate people one doesn’t approve of.A case in point was former President Trump’s drone strike that killed Qasem Solemani, a top Iranian general, a country we are not at war with.

        In just the first year of his administration, Trump killed more people–including 250 children–with drones in Yemen and Pakistan than President Barack Obama did in eight years. And Obama was no slouch in this department, increasing the use of drone attacks by a factor of 10 over the administration of George W. Bush.

      • New freight information system: EU Commission launches pre-declaration with risk analysis

        For „safety and security“ purposes, imports into the European Union must be pre-declared in future. This advance data contains information on all persons, companies and means of transport involved in the sale, transport or shipment of the goods.

      • Trump administration insider reveals how the US military sabotaged a peace agreement to prolong war in Afghanistan
      • Washington in Afghanistan: How Long Must This Go On?

        Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Biden White House (and its friends in the Pentagon) are considering postponing the scheduled May 1, 2021 withdrawal of most US military forces from Afghanistan.  This is not only wrong, it’s foolish. The US will not get its way in Afghanistan more than any other invading nation has. Twenty years of war and close to fifty years of armed meddling should prove that. Although only 2500 troops officially remain in Afghanistan, the symbolism of their leaving without a victory seems to be too much for some to take.  Indeed, last month Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said US military forces “will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan that puts [its] forces or the alliance’s reputation at risk.”  When all other reasons to occupy a nation with foreign forces have proven false, Washington is never afraid to bring up the face-saving argument.

        After all, if one truly takes a moment to consider it, what reputation is General Austin referring to?  Would it be the reputation of NATO as a tool of the world’s bloodiest imperial nation?  Or perhaps he meant the United States’ reputation as the nation whose promises at peace talks were referred to by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce in this manner: “White man speak with forked tongue?”  Maybe he was referring to the reputation of the US/NATO weapons industry’s claim that its products are designed to make and keep the peace; a claim brutally exposed in Afghanistan.

      • Intersectional Imperialism: A New Era of Imperial Ideology is Upon Us

        With Trump-style nationalism out the door, a new era of imperial ideology is upon us. This mutation of the empire’s dominant dogma is manifesting throughout global institutions of economic, political and social control and is materializing in a myriad of conflict theatres.

      • Two business owners arrested for assaulting Capitol Police officer who died following January 6 attack

        Nearly 350 arrests have been to date related to the January 6 assault on the Capitol, with the most serious charges leveled against fascists affiliated with the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys militia groups, whose membership is dominated by current and former police and military members. Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz (Florida), Lauren Boebert (Colorado) and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (Georgia) have boasted of using members of both right-wing groups for “security” at campaign events.

      • Erasing memory in China’s Tibet

        Yet the vast majority of its staff and funding is concentrated on shaping what happens inside China’s borders. Areas within China that are deemed to merit special attention have their own divisions within the UFWD – initially Inner Mongolia, then Tibet, and most recently Xinjiang. The tactics employed within China are strikingly similar to those employed abroad – the UFWD seeks to co-opt, coerce or silence.

        Co-optation, until recently the preferred strategy, focuses on winning over elites to the CCP’s worldview. This month’s episode of The Little Red Podcast suggests that the CCP has given up on co-optation on the Tibetan plateau. Which leaves coercion and silence. When you compare it to the degree of attention Tibet received in the 1990s, there is grim evidence that this strategy might be working, at least internationally.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Freedom Of Information Act In Crisis: Government Transparency During The Biden Era

        The United States Supreme Court ruled on March 4 that federal government agencies may invoke the “deliberative process privilege” to conceal documents from release under the Freedom of Information Act. It was widely viewed as a setback for government transparency.

        Sierra Club sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for “biological opinions” in which they found a rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “for the intake of cooling water from power plants and industrial facilities would impermissibly affect threatened and endangered species.”

    • Environment

      • ‘Climate Change Is Here’: Europe’s Recent Droughts ‘Unprecedented’ in Millennia, Study Finds

        “Our results show that what we have experienced over the past five summers is extraordinary for central Europe, in terms of how dry it has been consecutively.”

      • Guam’s Militarization by the U.S. Is Also a Story of Indigenous Resistance

        JA: We are adamantly opposed to hypermilitarization plans on the island by the United States and have filed with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. When I say it’s an aggressive wave of militarization, it’s like we’re all standing on the shoreline watching it come in. They’re going to flood the island with so many U.S. military personnel and their dependents. The building of the new Marine Corps base and live-fire training range has directly destroyed thousands of acres of pristine rainforest and limestone forest. It’s not symbolic at all. It’s a real, on-the-ground struggle in and out of the courtroom to arrest the spreading canopy of militarization and to fight for our right to determine our own future. It’s an infringement of the Indigenous Chamorro people’s right to free, prior, informed consent.

      • Germany hits climate target thanks to pandemic

        Germany said Tuesday it had met its national climate goal for 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic helped to drive the biggest reduction in emissions for three decades in Europe’s biggest economy.

        Greenhouse gas emissions last year were around 41 percent lower than 1990 levels, the biggest yearly decline in more than three decades, the environment minister said.

      • The Crushing Environmental Burden of Greek Tourism

        Greece was not alone in losing tourism in 2020. Tourism declined dramatically everywhere. That decline had “a profound effect around the world.”

        Less international travel was beneficial to air quality and climate change. Global warming gas emissions declined by about seven percent. Experts say that kind of decline, 7.6 percent in greenhouse gas emissions, would be necessary every year for ten years to stabilize global temperature to about 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the temperature in pre-industrial age.

      • Green Groups File ‘First-of-Its-Kind’ FTC Complaint Against Chevron for Climate Lies

        “The world’s second biggest polluter shouldn’t advertise that they’re good for the environment.” 

      • Lunar Noah’s Ark might help threatened species

        Desperate times demand desperate measures. So just possibly a lunar Noah’s Ark might help to avert the threat of extinction.

      • Senate Confirms Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary
      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Centennial Mountain Heli-Skiing

          On December 30th, 2020, conservations organizations Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and the Native Ecosystem Council submitted scoping comments to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest arguing that the Forest Service must complete a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for this project because the project will have significant individual and cumulative impacts on the environment.

          Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies stated “the Alliance has reviewed the statutory and regulatory requirements governing National Forest Management projects, as well as the relevant case law, and compiled a check- list of issues that must be included in an EIS for the Project in order for the Forest Service’s analysisto comply with the law.”

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Analysis Details How Bill in Congress Could Stop GOP Voter Suppression Nationwide

        By passing the For the People Act, as the House recently did, the Senate can “nullify new voter restrictions currently advanced by Republicans at the state level.”

      • Ron Johnson Says He Wasn’t Afraid on Jan. 6 But Would Have Been If It Were BLM
      • Opinion | The Right to Vote Is Essential to a Functioning Democracy

        America has become increasingly polarized politically. But democracy—and the right to vote—must be above partisanship.

      • NY State Senator Alessandra Biaggi Says Cuomo Has Abused His Power for Years & Must Resign

        New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is refusing to step down despite growing calls for his resignation after multiple accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct, as well as his cover-up of thousands of COVID-19 nursing home deaths. Alessandra Biaggi, a New York state senator representing parts of the Bronx and Westchester, says it’s long past time for Cuomo to go and that the many scandals surrounding the governor reveal a consistent pattern. “The governor has not only abused his position of power, but he has used it in a way that is political and as a way to have the executive branch essentially protect himself and not the people of New York,” says Biaggi.

      • Progressives to Biden: No Ambassadorship for ‘Ladder-Climbing Hack’ Rahm Emanuel

        “Appointing Rahm Emanuel to anything is a broken promise. We don’t ‘build back better’ by rewarding coverups for murder.”

      • ‘It’s the Biggest Assault on Voting Rights Since the End of Reconstruction’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Mother Jones‘ Ari Berman about voter suppression for the March 12, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Biden Opened Temporary Legal Status to Thousands of Immigrants. Here’s How They Could End Up Trapped.

        President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are working to rescue immigrants who’ve been living in the U.S. for decades under a “temporary” legal status. But the Biden administration is simultaneously extending that same status to hundreds of thousands more immigrants — putting them at risk of getting caught in a similar limbo.

        The problems posed by the temporary protective status program came into focus last week when the administration used executive authority to grant the status to as many as 300,000 Venezuelans and about 1,600 Burmese currently in the U.S. who are deemed unable to safely return home because of humanitarian emergencies in their countries. Activists and some elected Democrats are pushing the Biden administration to issue more TPS grants for immigrants whose home countries are suffering from war, natural disasters or other emergencies, including Haitians who arrived in the U.S. after 2011 and Cameroonians.

      • ‘Weapon of Mass Obstruction’: Durbin Blasts Filibuster on Senate Floor

        “It’s time to change the Senate rules and stop holding this Senate hostage.”

      • Critics Say ‘Scorched Earth’ Threat Over Filibuster Shows McConnell ‘Getting Scared’

        “McConnell is clearly getting desperate as momentum grows to eliminate the filibuster as a weapon he can use to maintain power from the minority.”

      • When Public Officials Get Rented Out by Corporate Power, the People Lose

        Murthy’s reputation peddling is part of a long history of legalized corruption deemed publicly acceptable to the American elite. It is an open secret in Washington that the real value of powerful regulatory positions in government (which already come with six-figure salaries most couldn’t dream of) is a post-government career on influential corporate boards, C-suite executive positions, and active recruitment by industries eager for knowledge of the inner-workings of government. Most deleterious, however, is how former public servants’ public reputations are used to launder corporate misdeeds and appeal to regulators.

        Take, for example, the voracious head-hunting of former government officials by the dodgily-regulated emerging fintech industry. Max Moran and Timi Iwayemi recently revealed how they are slowly “building an echo chamber of industry voices and former regulators to ease oversight and permit [fintech’s] predatory practices.” Varo Bank was emblematic of this push when it was seeking the first-ever fintech national banking charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which would exempt it from consumer-protection banking regulation. They were in the “last leg of the race” when they added top OCC official Amy Friend to their board. In Bank Automation News’ words, Varo hired Friend to “raise the company’s appeal to regulators.” Their gambit worked. Only months later, Friend’s regulatory credentials helped them secure the charter.

      • Blinken, Biden, and the Blob

        The old moon laughed and sang a song, As they rocked in their jackets straight. “You’ll never win so long as you’re still “Trying to make America great.” A soprano, Peace, leant her voice as well: “You can’t catch me,” she sang. “With your murder drones or your Star Wars clones — “Better melt down the whole shebang,” Peace informed the triumvirate mob, Blinken, Biden, and the Blob.

        Day and night their coups they threw, Tossing bombs at imperial gloam. Then up from the earth a cry arose That sent them crawling home: “Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed “But alas it could not be; “There’s just no way for a killer cop “To spread democracy. “Drink from this cup and wake the fuck up,” Was the cry heard by Blinken, Biden, and the Blob.

      • Vijay Prashad Warns Biden Is “Doubling Down” on Trump’s Anti-China Cold War Policy

        Beijing has accused the U.S. of perpetuating a Cold War mentality as President Joe Biden and senior administration officials shore up alliances in the Pacific region to counter China’s growing influence and increasingly describe the country as a geopolitical threat. Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, says the “bellicose” tone out of Washington is not because the U.S. sees China as a military threat, but because China threatens U.S. dominance in the scientific, technological and diplomatic spheres. “It’s very chilling what the U.S. government is doing in ramping up this cold war,” says Prashad.

      • Warning Biden’s Syria Strikes Set ‘Dangerous’ Precedent, Groups Push Congress to Respond

        A joint letter urges lawmakers to “defend the Constitution and Congress’s exclusive authority, under Article I, to declare war and authorize the offensive use of military force.”

      • Perfidy Meets Putty – Congressional Democrats Betray Voters

        Here is the present scene. Leading Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have decided to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the giant health insurance companies like Aetna and United Healthcare to “cover recently laid-off workers and those who purchase their own coverage,” as The New York Times reported. There are no price restraints on the gouging insurance premiums or loophole-ridden policies. That is why giant corporate socialist insurers love the “American Rescue Plan,” which gives them socialist cash on the barrelhead. The law lets insurers decide how and whether they pay healthcare bills with co-pays, deductibles, or grant waivers. All these anti-consumer details are buried in the endless and inscrutable fine print.

        Whatever happened to the Democrats’ (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pramila Jayapal, etc.) demand for single-payer – everybody in, nobody out – with free choice of doctors and hospitals instead of the existing cruel, and profiteering industry for which enough is never enough? Senator Sanders often mentioned a Yale study, published on February 15, 2020, that found:

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Russian lawmakers approve second reading of legislation making it a felony to ‘insult WWII veterans’

        The Russian State Dumas has approved in its second reading a package of draft laws on amending the administrative and criminal liabilities for publicly “insulting the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland.” The package of bills was spearheaded by lawmaker Irina Yarovaya, who’s best known for pushing for controversial “counter-terrorism” legislation in 2016 that broadly expanded police powers and data collection.

      • Apple Sued Over ‘Diverse’ Emojis Which Is All Idea and No Specific Expression

        The inability of someone to understand the idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law strikes again! For those of you not familiar with this nuance to copyright law, it essentially boils down to creative expression being a valid target for copyright protection, whereas broader ideas are not. In other words, the creator of Batman can absolutely have a copyright on Batman as a character, but cannot copyright a superhero who is basically a rich crazy guy who fights crime in a cape and cowl with a symbol of an animal on his chest. You get it.

      • Tibetan Teens Reportedly Jailed for Breaking WeChat Ban

        Three Tibetan teenagers are missing and one is hospitalized with two broken legs after reportedly failing to register a WeChat text group chat with local authorities, according to a Tibetan advocacy group.

        The teens, who have been named as Dadul, Sangye Tso and Kansi, live in the eastern area of Tibet governed as the Qinghai Province of China, according to Tibet Watch, a British charity that documents human rights abuses in Tibet.

      • Roskomnadzor threatens to block Twitter in Russia in one month

        Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor (RKN), plans to block Twitter in one month unless the network removes certain “illegal content,” RKN’s deputy head Vadim Subbotin announced on Monday March 16, Interfax reported. 

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Sahouri Acquitted, But US Press Freedom Still Under Attack

        When Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was acquitted on misdemeanor charges related to her coverage of a Black Lives Matter protests last summer, she declared (New York Times, 3/10/21) that the jury’s “decision upholds freedom of the press and justice in our democracy.” Amnesty International condemned the charges, and journalists feared that a conviction would be a game-changing attack on the press.

      • Behind Chechnya’s executions Journalists publish revelations from a former police officer who says he guarded prisoners before they were killed

        On Monday, March 15, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a report by journalist Elena Milashina, titled “I Served in the Chechen Police and Didn’t Want to Kill People.” The story features revelations from Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a former officer in Chechnya’s Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment, about how his unit executed several locals in early 2017. He says he helped arrest and interrogate some of these people, but he denies participating in their torture and murder. Before publishing Gezmakhmaev’s story, Novaya Gazeta and its partners helped him and his family flee Russia. In the article, Milashina describes in detail how she connected with Gezmakhmaev, what he did in the Chechen police, how the executions took place, and what role high-ranking police officials allegedly played in the killings. Meduza summarizes the report below.

      • Moscow police investigating ‘chemical attack’ on Novaya Gazeta office

        Moscow police are investigating complaints from Novaya Gazeta journalists about a “chemical attack” on their office, reports the Russian state news agency TASS, citing an unnamed source in law enforcement. This comes after the independent newspaper called on the Moscow government to take part in a joint investigation into the incident. 

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Opinion | Dear Racist America, Derek Chauvin Is On Trial. Not George Floyd.
      • UK Home Office Floats Bill That Would Make It Illegal To Be Too Loud During A Protest

        The British government is looking to literally silence dissent. Protests are a fact of life. There hasn’t been a government yet that’s been able to avoid them. But governments still do all they can to prevent them from reaching critical mass. In Hong Kong, the Chinese government has turned protesting into a national security crime with life sentences. In the United States, legislators are still trying to find ways to shut people up without violating their long-protected right to be verbally and demonstratively angry at their government.

      • Opinion | Republicans Want to Criminalize Protest

        Citizens in the affected states need to get out and fight these anti-democratic measures—while they still can.

      • Man Sues Hertz For Not Turning Over A Receipt That Would Have Cleared Him Of Murder Charges Until After He Spent Five Years In Jail

        Law enforcement loves loves LOVES third parties. Anyone one step removed from someone they’re investigating generally isn’t covered by the Fourth Amendment, which means no one needs a warrant or probable cause to go fishing for “third party” data.

      • Opinion | Why the United States Calls Some Refugees ‘Asylees’

        Drawing distinctions between refugees and asylees is a political exercise, and a perilous one.

      • Immigrant Advocate: Unaccompanied Minors Are Not a “Border Crisis” But a Humanitarian Crisis

        Thousands of migrant children seeking refuge are being held in crowded cells amid an increase in asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Despite claims by Republican lawmakers during a tour of the southern border aimed at warning against rollbacks of Trump’s immigration policy, most adults at the border are still being turned away, while the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied children to cross while their cases are processed. Thousands of the unaccompanied minors are being sent to cities across Texas to be housed and processed, including Dallas, where FEMA will hold as many as 3,000 unaccompanied teens. Fernando García, founding director of the Border Network for Human Rights, says that despite Republican claims about a “crisis” at the border, the situation is not new or unexpected. The Biden administration “was not ready to deal with a situation like this,” says García, “after Trump destroyed the infrastructure in the refugee asylum systems in the last four years.”

      • When Scandal Preempts the Pursuit of Justice: a Review of MLK/FBI

        The other night I saw, for the first time since its January 2021 release, the documentary MLK/FBI: a probe into the inextricable paths of the luminary, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a man, who may very well be, the most homicidal, chauvinistic, racist zealot in the history of America, John Edgar Hoover – (The treasonist, Jefferson Davis notwithstanding.)

        The film was directed by, Sam Pollard, one of most brilliant cinematic narrators in recent times. An artist, who, for me, up until this film, has aroused very little disappointment, although, in the name of honesty, most of the work that resonates with me Pollard did under the job title of editor, and was directed by the fearless capable hands of Spike Lee – and a few others. That said; Pollard’s foray into the duties of director has been impressive. His (1990) Eyes on the Prize and (2016) Two Trains Runnin are superb films – and his (2021) Black Art in the Absence of Light, is teed up on my Amazon Prime favorite list, ready for my eagerly awaiting first look.

      • Daniel Ellsberg, Peter Kuznick, and Peter Dale Scott – The Project Censored Show

        Peter Dale Scott is a retired professor, a former Canadian diplomat, and a prolific author on the ‘deep state.’ James Galbraith is Professor of Government at the University of Texas, and a son of the late author John Kenneth Galbraith. Aaron Good teaches at a Quaker high school in Pennsylvania, holds a doctorate from Temple University, and is a frequent contributor to Project Censored.

      • Amazon union battle comes to Washington

        The unionization battle between workers at a Bessemer, Ala., plant and Amazon is set to take center stage during a Senate hearing on wealth inequality Wednesday.

        Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will notably be absent, even though one of the employees agitating for higher wages and less exhausting work quotas will be present for testimony.

      • Uber drivers in the UK will now get minimum wage and paid vacation after a big court win

        Uber will classify around 70,000 drivers in the UK as workers and give them some benefits after losing an appeal at the Supreme Court level in February, following a years-long legal battle over their employment status. Drivers will still not be considered full-time employees, but they will receive a minimum wage, holiday time, and will be enrolled in a pension plan starting on March 17th.

        The decision in February was one of the biggest wins yet for drivers, and for gig workers writ large, in the UK. But that victory came just a few months after voters in California approved Prop 22, a ballot measure that reversed a previous decision to classify drivers as employees. And despite repeated claims that classifying drivers as employees would make things more expensive for customers, all the major gig economy companies have since raised prices anyway. Uber, which helped bankroll the effort to pass Prop 22, is now looking at making similar moves in the European Union.

      • [Old] Uber Wants to Export Prop 22 to Europe

        While Khosrowshahi’s rhetoric sounds nice on paper, his invocation of California’s Proposition 22 makes clear what Uber is actually looking for here. Presented to voters as a way to avoid price hikes—which happened anyway—the gig industry-sponsored citizen ballot measure essentially offered a few weak concessions in exchange for the ability to continue to exploit their workers, who often already make below minimum wage.

        While Uber is presenting the implementation of a Proposition 22-style system covering the European Union as “progressive,” the reality is that such a move could lock workers for years to come into a system that continues to exclude them from the continents’ traditionally strong welfare protections.

      • Uber drivers in the UK to receive earnings guarantee, holiday pay and pensions

        From tomorrow, more than 70,000 drivers in the UK will be treated as workers, earning at least the National Living Wage when driving with Uber; this is a floor and not a ceiling, with drivers able to earn more, as they usually do. They will also be paid for holiday time and all those eligible will be automatically enrolled into a pension plan.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Higher Prices, Less Competition: Some Reflections on the Proposed Rogers – Shaw Merger

        Third, get ready for talking points that will make your head spin. As Rogers and Shaw seek to convince the government and regulators that their deal should be approved, months of criticizing competition from MVNOs may suddenly be promoted as an effective competitive alternative. Further, the companies will re-up old promises to invest in rural connectivity, 5G or anything else that might garner political support. Of course, there is always a price to be paid for those promises and in this case, it will be wireless customers that foot the bill in the form of even higher costs in what is already one of the most expensive wireless markets in the world.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Netflix Starts Cracking Down On The Diabolical Menace Of Password Sharing

        Back when Netflix was a pesky upstart trying to claw subscribers away from entrenched cable providers, the company had a pretty lax approach to users that shared streaming passwords. At one point CEO Reed Hastings went so far as to say he “loved” password sharing, seeing it as akin to free advertising. The idea was that as kids or friends got on more stable footing (left home to job hunt, whatever), they’d inevitably get hooked on the service and purchase their own subscription. Execs at HBO (at least before the AT&T acquisition) have stated it doesn’t really hurt these companies’ bottom lines in part because, much like with traditional piracy, there’s no guarantee these users would actually subscribe if they lost access.

      • Cory Doctorow: Free Markets

        2020 was a hard year, but for me, it had a bright spot: In September, I launched and executed the most successful audiobook crowdfunding cam­paign in history. I made $267,613. In the space of a month, I went from worried about my family’s finances to completely secure about our ability to pay our mortgage and taxes and add a good chunk to our retirement ac­counts. It was an extraordinary month.

        But I wish I hadn’t had to do it.

        If you’ve read this column before or paid atten­tion to my work over the years, you know that I’m violently allergic to “digital rights management” (DRM), the software wrappers that Big Tech puts around digital books, movies, music, and games, purportedly to prevent unauthorized copying.

        If stopping unauthorized copying is DRM’s job, then I think we can all agree that it’s a dismal failure. Every DRM-restricted work available to stream or download is also available as a free, unauthorized file somewhere on the internet, the DRM having been removed by some enterprising member of the public.

        But DRM serves a much more commercially important role: it allows for rent-seeking. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) felonizes removing or tampering with or bypassing DRM, even when no copyright infringe­ment takes place. Violating this law comes with heavy penalties: a five year prison sentence and/or a $500,000 fine (other countries, including the EU states, Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, etc. have their own versions of this law, thanks to the energetic arm-twisting of the US Trade Representative).

        [...]

        Can it really be a coincidence that both companies have also made it nearly impossible to download a file from the internet and get it to play on your phone without an app?

    • Monopolies

      • ‘Total Scandal’: Memos Expose Failure of Obama-Era FTC to Stop Google’s Monopoly Power

        Law professor Zephyr Teachout called the series a “devastating takedown” of the Federal Trade Commission and its economists under the former president.

      • Counterfeit crisis compels litigation and collaboration rethink [Ed: People in law firms, who try to control the border not for security but for robber barons who employ them, are perfectly happy to exploit "COVID" (who doesn't?)]

        Counsel at 3M, Gilead and elsewhere reveal how they’re tackling a spate of counterfeiting driven by COVID and changing consumer behaviour

      • Patents

        • Priority Claims in US Applications

          The vast majority of US non-provisional patent applications (utility) claim some form of priority relationship back to a previously filed patent document.

        • CRISPR Chronicles Continue [Ed: On go the dreamers who lobby the US government and politicians "in robes" to allow patents on life and on nature (not inventions)]

          While those interested in the outcome await the April 9th filing of motions authorized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in Interference Nos. 106,126 (between Senior Party Toolgen Inc. and Junior Party The Broad Institute, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collectively termed “Broad”) and 106,127 (between Senior Party Toolgen Inc. and Junior Party The University of California/Berkeley, the University of Vienna, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, collectively termed “CVC”), some “housekeeping” types of activities have arisen in these interferences as well as in the earlier-declared Interference No. 106,115 between Broad as Senior Party and CVC as Junior Party.

          The Board issued a Memorandum on March 1st and an Order on March 9th. In the Memorandum, the Board considered CVC’s request for an order “sequestering” members of Broad’s legal team in upcoming depositions of two Broad witnesses, Drs. Breaker and Ellington. CVC’s reasons in support of their request is that “Dr. Breaker adopted the entirety of Dr. Ellington’s direct testimony as his own testimony in paragraphs 25 and 32 of his declaration,” and thus the expectation is that “the cross examinations of Drs. Breaker and Ellington will significantly overlap and without sequester of Broad’s counsel the second witness to be deposed may be prepared knowing what questions will be asked.” This would give the Broad an unfair advantage, according to CVC, and thus be prejudicial. Also, CVC notes that in the earlier interference between these parties, No. 106,048, CVC had agreed to sequester their counsel.

        • Huawei’s announcement of 5G license fee structure favors Apple, Samsung, while countering Nokia/Ericsson-style patent royalty stacking

          To focus on just one number–$2.50 (per-unit 5G SEP royalty cap)–doesn’t do justice to a bilingual event (video) that lasted more than two hours and featured such speakers as former WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. On the same occasion, Huawei released a 47-page White Paper (PDF). Among other things, it was interesting to hear that Huawei is one of the top three contributors to the Linux kernel. Yet we live in a world of ever shorter attention spans, so what made headline news yesterday was the announcement that “for every multi-mode 5G smartphone, Huawei will provide a reasonable percentage royalty rate of the handset selling price, and a per unit royalty cap at US$2.5.”

          Many of the questions reporters asked Dr. Song Liuping, Huawei’s Chief Legal Officer, and Jason Ding, Huawei’s IP chief, also focused on 5G licensing.

          Due to a trade war started by the previous U.S. president, with Nokia and Ericsson constantly staking the flames through lobbying, Huawei is restricted in its ability to serve customers in several major markets. Against that backdrop, I was a bit concerned that the Chinese company would become more aggressive in its patent licensing business. Figuratively speaking, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that–regardless of the political landscape–Huawei is still clearly in the camp of product-focused innovators. Rather than align its IP policies with those of Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia, or InterDigital, it’s clear now that Huawei wants IP to be licensed in ways that enable innovation in smartphones, connected cars, and the wider IoT field.

        • “We’re conducting patent proceedings faster than ever before” – an interview with Nathalie Sabotier and Carine Gillet [Ed: JUVE does reputation laundering for INPI France, which is notorious for corruption across Europe]

          JUVE Patent: Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, participating in hearings has been more difficult for the interested public. In addition, the French courts’ rulings on patent proceedings can still not be found in an online database as planned. What is your view on the problems companies and lawyers have keeping up to date with current French case law?
          Carine Gillet: The public regained access to the hearings after the end of the first lockdown, in September, and it shall remain accessible even if a new lockdown is decided. We would very much like to publish all our rulings, but unfortunately the situation has not changed since last year. We are only allowed to give the rulings to the parties themselves.

          [...]

          Gillet: During the first lockdown in France, which lasted from mid March to mid May, our chamber was among those no longer allowed to hold oral hearings. From 11 May to the end of June 2020, we were only able to conduct some hearings by videoconference. After that, we went back to normal . And of course, we went on to rule on cases, but only in written form.

          Sabotier: In exceptional cases, proceedings may also be heard in writing only. But this doesn’t work for patent cases, as it is important for the lawyers to explain, and it is more practical to receive, technical information orally.

          [...]

          Gillet: No. Our tradition in France is still to hear the validity and infringement of a patent together. In individual cases, we bring forward individual legal issues to save time and reduce costs for the parties. In exceptional cases, such separation is not forbidden.

          Sabotier: For example, we had a patent dispute over the hormone preparation Levothyrox. The manufacturer Merck had changed its formula and applied for a patent for the product again. Around 100 patients with thyroid problems filed suit against this for insufficiency of disclosure, lack of novelty and lack of inventive step. In this case, we decided in advance whether the claimants had a legitimate interest.

          Gillet: These advance decisions are a good way to reduce the parties’ costs if the proceedings can be decided on one issue.

        • Over 180,000 patent applications received by European Patent Office in 2020 [Ed: When you lower your guard and allow illegal patents to be granted, even software patents, what would you expect? Europe in peril, EPO breaks the bank.]

          The European Patent Office (EPO) received a total of 180,250 patent applications last year, which was a slight 0.7 percent less than in 2019, when a record 181,532 applications were filed, with most inventions in the field of medical technology.

        • China files record number of patent applications in 2020 [Ed: China state propaganda sites help the reputation laundering of corrupt EPO management, which grants loads of illegal patents and invited applications not compatible with the EPC]

          Chinese companies filed more European patent applications in 2020 than in the previous year, with the year’s growth of nearly 10 percent taking the level to a new high, despite COVID-19 pandemic disruption, a new report has found.

          On Tuesday, the European Patent Office, which is also known as the EPO, published its Patent Index 2020, which showed patent applications from Chinese inventors amounted to 13,432 last year, an increase of 9.9 percent year-on-year. It was the highest growth rate among the 10 leading patent-filing countries.

      • Copyrights

        • Waiting for Google

          Google v. Oracle was argued (after being reset last term for additional briefing) on October 7, during the first week of this term. We still don’t have an opinion, and the time delay makes me worry that the opinion(s) will be more Guffman than Godot.

          While we wait (and it could be any time), I wanted to point to a recent case that illustrates the concern at issue in this case if Oracle wins. The facts of this case are remarkably similar to my remote control analogy, which I continue to think is the best analogy to date (and which I hope some Supreme Court clerk happened to read).

          The case is Pyrotechnics Management, Inc. v. XFX Pyrotechnics LLC and FireTEK, a W.D. Pa. case that just issued a preliminary injunction. The facts for our purposes are not complicated. Both parties make a device used to control fireworks displays. The device issues and responds to commands, which are basically numbers sent along the wire. It’s called a protocol by the plaintff (and anyone else familiar with this kind of technology). It’s functionally no different than an API like that in Google v. Oracle – it’s a set of commands that tells devices to do something.

          [...]

          If you don’t see why this is problematic, then nothing else I write will convince you otherwise – you are basically OK using copyright to obtain a 100 year backdoor patent on any device that sends and receives an arbitrary set of commands. But this is not a good result. Copyright policy – let alone the statute – simply should not allow for this outcome that uses copyright to limit functional information sharing in computer programs and electronic devices.

          As I advocated in my amicus brief and many other blog posts, I’ve got no quarrel with the argument that the set of numbers collected by the plaintiff may be copyrighted. But that copyright cannot extend to enforcement against the method of using those numbers to operate devices. So, you can’t copy the description of the protocol verbatim, perhaps, but it is not infringing to send numbers down a wire. The statute couldn’t be more plain on this – methods of operation cannot be protected, no matter the form in which they

        • Wikimedia will launch a paid service for big tech companies

          Wikimedia is still finalizing how Wikimedia Enterprise will operate. But broadly, it’s like a premium version of Wikipedia’s API — the tool that lets anybody scrape and re-host Wikipedia articles. Enterprise customers could get data delivered faster or formatted to meet their needs, for instance, or get new options for sorting and posting it. As Wikimedia Foundation senior director Lane Becker explains to Wired, companies may already be paying employees to clean up Wikipedia data, and Enterprise will do that kind of cleanup at the source. Or if they want, companies can keep using the existing API for free.

        • JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber): 9 March 2021

          On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

          Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the embedding, by means of the technique of framing, in a third party website page, of works that are protected by copyright and that are freely accessible to the public with the authorisation of the copyright holder on another website, where that embedding circumvents measures adopted or imposed by that copyright holder to provide protection from framing, constitutes a communication to the public within the meaning of that provision.

        • Meet your new Global Network Council Executive Committee!

          In December 2020 the Creative Commons Global Network Council (GNC) voted on the new Executive Committee (ExCom). The ExCom took up its work in January 2021 and will be working throughout the next year and beyond by supporting the Network, fostering and strengthening connections, and encouraging activities around the new CC Strategy.

          Meet the six elected members of the ExCom below!

        • ISP Wrongfully Handed Customer Data to Pirate-Chasing Law Firm

          Swedish ISP Telia has handed over more information about its customers to so-called copyright troll law firms than any other in the country. However, it now appears to have gone one step further by handing over subscriber information to a law firm despite being told by a court not to do so.

        • Sports Industry Can Earn Billions by Selectively Converting ‘Willing’ Pirates

          New research published by Synamedia shows that the sports industry can potentially earn billions in extra revenue with a tailored approach to piracy. Rightsholders should ignore sports fans who are unwilling to pay while offering both a carrot and stick to the three-quarters who are more likely to be converted.

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