07.10.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 10/7/2021: Video decoding in GStreamer with Vulkan, KDE Frameworks 5.84.0 and

Posted in News Roundup at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Poll: Are you using Linux on your Chromebook? [Ed: All Chromebooks have Linux in them; this serves to show how meaningless that brand became]

      Well, I’m about six weeks out from starting my first semester for my Masters in Computer Science. So today I started cleaning up the Linux instance on my Chromebook. My intention is to do what I did for undergrad CS coursework and use a Chromebook for most, if not all, of my work. That got me wondering how many of you use Linux on your Chromebook.

    • Linux losing ground to Android TV and Huawei in pay TV and OTT [Ed: Do they even realise that Android has Linux in it and is no better or worse than those “Linux-based proprietary set-top boxes”? Linux is not freedom.]

      Linux-based proprietary set-top boxes are steadily losing market control as Android TV and Huawei’s HarmonyOS software integration are projected to dominate across set top boxes, smart TVs and connected TVs, a new study from Rethink Research found.

      Globally, Linux set-top boxes are forecasted to have their market share decrease from 85% in 2020 to 48% in 2026. This huge depreciation can be partly attributed to the rapid decline of pay TV households.

    • Server

      • It’s time for ARM to embrace traditional hosting

        ARM is everywhere these days — from phones to hyperscale server deployments. There is even an ARM workstation available that has decent specs at an acceptable price. Amazon and Oracle tout white paper after white paper about how their customers have switched to ARM, gotten performance wins and saved money. Sounds like everything is on the right track, yes? Well, actually it’s not.

        ARM for the classes, x86 for the masses

        For various reasons, I’ve been informed that I need to start rethinking my server infrastructure arrangements. We won’t go into that here, but the recent swearing at San Francisco property developers on my Twitter is highly related.

        As I am highly allergic to using any infrastructure powered by x86 CPUs, due to the fact that Intel and AMD both include firmware in the CPU which allow for computation to occur without my consent (also known as a backdoor) so that Hollywood can implement a largely pointless (especially on a server) digital restrictions management scheme, I decided to look at cloud-based hosting solutions using ARM CPUs, as that seemed perfectly reasonable at first glance.

        Unfortunately, what I found is that ARM hosting is not deployed in a way where individual users can access it at cost-competitive prices.

        [...]

        You can still buy ARM servers on the Equinix Metal platform, but you have to request permission to buy them. In testing a couple of years ago, I was able to provision a c1.large.arm server on the spot market for $0.25/hour, which translates to $180/monthly.

        However, the problem with buying on the spot market is that your server might go away at any time, which means you can’t actually depend on it.

        There is also the problem with data transfer: Equinix Metal follows the same billing practices for data transfer as AWS, meaning actual data transfer gets expensive quickly.

        However, the folks who run Equinix Metal are great people, and I feel like ARM could work with them to get some sort of side project going where they get ARM servers into the hands of developers at reasonable pricing. They already have an arrangement like that for FOSS projects with the Works on ARM program.

      • Linux vs. Windows: How to Pick the Best Server OS for Your Website [Ed: They still write such clickbait in 2021? In Web servers Microsoft is already dead, almost extinct. GNU/Linux won.]

        There are many web hosting elements to consider before building a website, including price, bandwidth, storage, and software compatibility. However, one of the most important decisions that you’ll make is whether to go with Linux or Windows Server as the server’s operating system. For most people, Linux is the common server choice; Windows Server is for server admins and companies that need Microsoft’s services. The average blogger won’t experience significant differences between the operating system while writing a hot take, but the stakes are higher for businesses with specific backend needs. If you’re on the fence about the operating system that’ll power your site, this guide will help you make an informed decision.

      • Sean Whitton: Live replacement of provider cloud images with upstream Debian

        Tonight I’m provisioning a new virtual machine at Hetzner and I wanted to share how Consfigurator is helping with that. Hetzner have a Debian “buster” image you can start with, as you’d expect, but it comes with things like cloud-init, preconfiguration to use Hetzner’s apt mirror which doesn’t serve source packages(!), and perhaps other things I haven’t discovered. It’s a fine place to begin, but I want all the configuration for this server to be explicit in my Consfigurator consfig, so it is good to start with pristine upstream Debian. I could boot one of Hetzner’s installation ISOs but that’s slow and manual. Consfigurator can replace the OS in the VM’s root filesystem and reboot for me, and we’re ready to go.

      • Up Gets an Update | Removing Old Kernel Config Files from Ubuntu

        This video is all about finding an automatic way to remove old Kernel config files from Ubuntu based systems. More about UP…

    • Kernel Space

      • New Arm Hardware Support In Linux 5.14 From Raspberry Pi 400 To Qualcomm Auto Bits

        Arriving late for the Linux 5.14 merge window that is closing this weekend are all of the Arm SoC and platform changes for this next kernel version.

        Among the plethora of Arm hardware support changes to find with Linux 5.14 include:

      • Intel Working On Implementing GuC Firmware Based Power Management For Linux – Phoronix

        Going back to 2017 was work on firmware-based power management for Intel graphics with its GuC implementation. That work didn’t advance with the time but now with Intel renewing their work around GuC and with future hardware may mandate this binary-only firmware, they are again revisiting the GuC power management.

        Intel has been working to transition to GuC firmware-based scheduling as an option for Gen11/Icelake graphics and newer. At this time they don’t appear to be looking to forcing GuC by default for existing hardware but that may change for upcoming/future Intel graphics hardware. The open-source driver work around GuC has been ongoing for years. The GuC microcontroller has been around since Skylake for being able to offload some functionality from the kernel graphics driver to this microcontroller. The one area where GuC is being used currently within the kernel is around its “HuC” for HEVC/H.265 authentication with their media driver.

      • USB Low Latency Audio Support Re-Submitted For Linux 5.14

        Linux 5.14 has re-landed support for improvements to lower the latency of its USB audio driver.

        Recently there was work by Linux sound subsystem maintainer Takashi Iwai of SUSE to reduce the latency of the USB audio driver during audio playback. The improvements have been successfully tested with PulseAudio, JACK, PipeWire, and other user-space software.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Víctor Jáquez: Video decoding in GStreamer with Vulkan

          Vulkan is a cross-platform Application Programming Interface (API), backed by the Khronos Group, aimed at graphics developers for a wide range of different tasks. The interface is described by a common specification, and it is implemented by different drivers, usually provided by GPU vendors and Mesa.

          One way to visualize Vulkan, at first glance, is like a low-level OpenGL API, but better described and easier to extend. Even more, it is possible to implement OpenGL on top of Vulkan. And, as far as I am told by my peers in Igalia, Vulkan drivers are easier and cleaner to implement than OpenGL ones.

          A couple years ago, a technical specification group (TSG), inside the Vulkan Working Group, proposed the integration of hardware accelerated video compression and decompression into the Vulkan API. In April 2021 the formed Vulkan Video TSG published an introduction to the
          specification. Please, do not hesitate to read it. It’s quite good.

          Matthew Waters worked on a GStreamer plugin using Vulkan, mainly for uploading, composing and rendering frames. Later, he developed a library mapping Vulkan objects to GStreamer. This work was key for what I am presenting here. In 2019, during the last GStreamer Conference, Matthew delivered a talk about his work. Make sure to watch it, it’s worth it.

          Other key components for this effort were the base classes for decoders and the bitstream parsing libraries in GStreamer, jointly developed by Intel, Centricular, Collabora and Igalia. Both libraries allow using APIs for stateless video decoding and encoding within the GStreamer framework, such as Vulkan Video, VAAPI, D3D11, and so on.

          When the graphics team in Igalia told us about the Vulkan Video TSG, we decided to explore the specification. Therefore, Igalia decided to sponsor part of my time to craft a GStreamer element to decode H.264 streams using these new Vulkan extensions.

        • GStreamer Making Progress On Vulkan Video Support

          Back in April was the release of Vulkan Video extensions for GPU-accelerated video encode/decode using this cross-platform API. NVIDIA was quick to publish a beta driver with Vulkan Video support while adoption beyond that by drivers or multimedia software has been rather limited so far. Fortunately, the popular GStreamer multimedia framework for Linux users is working in the direction of supporting Vulkan Video.

          Igalia developers have been working on Vulkan Video support for GStreamer, building off earlier work on a GStreamer plug-in that used Vulkan for video uploading/compositing/rendering.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install OpenSSL on CentOS 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install OpenSSL on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, OpenSSL is a robust, commercial-grade, full-featured Open Source Toolkit for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol formerly known as the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. The protocol implementation is based on a full-strength general-purpose cryptographic library, which can also be used stand-alone. OpenSSL is used by many programs like Apache Web server, PHP, and many others providing support for various cryptographic algorithms such as ciphers (AES, Blowfish, DES, IDEA, etc.), and cryptographic hash functions (MD5, MD4, SHA-1, SHA-2, etc.)

        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 the OpenSSL on a CentOS 8.

      • Chattr Command in Linux with Examples – TecAdmin

        The “chattr”, short for change attribute, is a command-line utility in Linux used to change attributes of a file e.g a, i. This command is primarily used to make various files immutable and undeletable for regular users.

        File management is a complicated process in Linux as it is a multi-user operating system. The administrators can change the attributes of a file using the “chattr” command so it cannot be accessed and changed by anyone except the superuser. This saves the important files from accidental deletion.

        In this write-up, we will focus on how to modify the attributes of a file by using the “chattr” command. We will also learn about different flags that can be used along with the “chattr” command.

      • How to Dual Boot Fedora and Windows – It’s FOSS

        Dual booting Linux and Windows is one of the popular ways to enjoy the full potential of the two operating systems. You have both Linux and Windows installed on the same system and you can choose which one to use after starting your system.

      • Linux Hardware Database – How To Submit Your Computer Info

        Want to see how popular GNU/Linux is? See Linux-Hardware.org, you can find chart showing how many this operating system installed in the world with percentages of distros. Today, it held 100,000 computer hardware collected in this database by contributors world wide and still counting! This article covers using this website as your simple research and hardware buyer reference as well as how to contribute your Ubuntu computer information to this website so everyone can read and benefit from it. Users of OS other than Ubuntu can also practice this tutorial to contribute. Let’s start.

      • How to Install Logwatch on Ubuntu 20.04

        Logwatch is a system log analyzer and send that report to email. It generates a summarized log report which contains sshd – authentication failures, sudo – sessions opened, vsftp failures, postfix, failed logins, disk space and more.

        Logwatch can also print the report on the console. This report can be scheduled to run at specific date and time using cron.

        In this tutorial we learn how to install Logwatch on Ubuntu 20.04.

      • How To Format Shell Programs Using Shfmt In Linux – OSTechNix

        In this guide, we will be discussing what is Shfmt, how to install Shfmt in Linux, and finally how to format shell programs using Shfmt in Linux.

      • cron is running all jobs twice – solved

        This started earlier today and I solved it only just now. It took me a while to find out it was duplicate cron jobs, and even longer to find out why.

      • Managing network using IFCONFIG & NMCLI command in Linux – LinuxTechLab

        Earlier we have discussed how we can configure network connections using three different methods i.e. by editing network interface file, by using GUI & by using nmtui command (READ ARTICLE HERE). In this tutorial, we are going to use two other methods to configure network connections on our RHEL/CentOS machines. We are going to discuss ‘nmcli’ command & ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux.

      • How to install Intellij Idea 2021 Community on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Intellij Idea 2021 Community on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How To Set/Create Environment and Shell variables in Linux – TecAdmin

        Shell, the command interpreter of an OS, processes the commands entered into the command line and widely used in Linux. A variable is like a pointer to a particular data and holds a particular value that could be anything. A user can create, delete or assign variables with the help of Shell.

      • How to Setup SSH Keys on Ubuntu 20.04

        SSH keys provide a secure way for logging to a server with private and public key based authentications.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Ships Frameworks 5.84.0

          KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.84.0.

          KDE Frameworks are 83 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the KDE Frameworks release announcement.

          This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

        • KDE Frameworks 5.84 Released with Expandable Tooltips, Performance Improvements

          KDE Frameworks 5.84 introduces a new user interface feature called expandable tooltips, which adds a “Press Shift for more” label to the tooltips in KDE apps that use the KXMLGui and Kirigami frameworks to display the longer text of that tooltip. This is a replacement of the “What’s This?” feature.

          This release also improves the clearing of global shortcuts for Plasma applets, improves the performance of SVG lookups in the Plasma desktop for a more responsive experience using less resources, fixes the most common crash in the Plasma calendar, and improves the appearance of tooltip shadows in the Plasma desktop.

        • Approximately Two Pink Weeks In Tok

          The past two weeks in Tok have been relatively slow, focusing on quality of life features & more user experience improvements more than sweeping new features.

          Most noticeably, Tok now has an in-window menubar on desktop if you do not have a global menu bar. This provides globally available functionality in a well-organised palette of commands.

        • Floating Applets: The Making Of (Devlog!)
        • Maui Monthly Report 13

          We are a month away from the upcoming 2.0 release, and this blog post is a quick overview of things coming to the next stable release.

        • My Akademy 2021 (2)

          Akademy was over all of a sudden. I was all set to do the conference closing, with my KDE e.V. board-hat on – the e.V. supports the community, and it is the community that makes the conference, with talks, birds-of-a-feather sessions, and all that good stuff.

          Much to my surprise I was called up by Luigi before my time slot and forced to give an acceptance speech for an Akademy award. I’ll summarize here…

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Shaun McCance: Discovery Docs Part 1: Discovering Why

          This is Part 1 in a series about the Discovery Docs initiative, which I will present about in my upcoming GUADEC talk.

          A long time ago, in the days of bonobos and fishes, GNOME documentation was written as long, monolithic manuals. We split these beasts into digestible pages as best we could (which is to say, poorly) and hoped for the best. Then we had an idea. What if we actually controlled the granularity at which information was presented? What if, instead of writing books, we wrote topics?

          And so we did. We weren’t the first software project to make this shift, but we were early on the curve, and we did it radically. While many help systems still try to shoehorn topics into a linear structure, our help focuses on creating a navigable web of information.

          The question of how big the topics are — how big the chunks on the web are — is entirely up to us. For the most part, we have chosen small topics with the least amount of information we could get away with. The reasoning is that users can find quick answers to questions, and if they want to learn more, we have extensive cross linking. Our topics have mostly followed the familiar trichotomy of tasks, concepts, and references. Our documentation is deliberately excruciatingly boring.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Ubuntu 21.04 Review – A Fun Computing

          This is our review of Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo. This release is a dedication to Adam Conrad, a respected Ubuntu Developer, who passed away earlier this year. It is a fun computer operating system, quick and responsive on today’s hardware standard, with full of useful apps and amusing games, with a few of challenges and shortcomings. Let’s see it together.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • PCLinuxOS pidgin chat program updated to 2.14.6

          Pidgin is a chat program which lets you log into accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on XMPP and sitting in an IRC channel at the same time.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2021/27

          Dear Tumbleweed users and hackers,

          From the feeling, I probably have to say, the Summer holiday is upon us. Tumbleweed is still rolling of course: it’s not warm enough to have melted our rubber tires to make them sticky glue. During the last week, we have released 5 snapshots (0702, 0703, 0704, 0706, and 0707)

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • IBM emeritus IWB: The Transformation of Logistics in the Retail Industry

          In the spring of 2018, MIT launched the Work of the Future Task Force to understand the impact of our increasingly intelligent machines on the future of work, and how to best harness these technological innovations for social benefit. The MIT-wide task force released its findings and recommendations in a November, 2020 report, – Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines.

          In addition to the task force report, the Work of the Future initiative has published a number of working papers and research briefs on related topics. I’d like to now discuss one of those briefs, The Future of Work in Logistics by Arshia Mehta and Frank Levy, which explored the transformation of the retail industry since the advent of e-commerce in the 1990s. The brief is a very interesting case study of the evolution of the retail industry over the past few decades.

          “Twenty years ago, U.S. distribution networks were built to deliver products in bulk to retail stores,” wrote the authors. “Today, large parts of distribution networks are built to deliver individual items to home residences. The shift has been driven by technology, working through e-commerce, and recently reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

          e-commerce was one of the earliest applications on the Internet. Amazon and eBay started handling e-commerce transactions in the mid-1990s. Online sales grew slowly at first. In 2001 online shopping comprised 1% of all US retails sales, partly because the vast majority of users accessed the Internet over dial-up phones, and only 4% did so using the much more convenient broadband access. In those early days, online shopping was considered a novel application for leading edge Internet users.

        • A week with Fedora 34 on the Late 2016 Lenovo Yoga 900.

          I finally got my old computer out of the bedroom, since the new computer had to go back to Lenovo for an undetermined length of time due to a malfunctioning USB hub. Even at 5 years old, the Late 2016 Yoga 900 still going strong with Fedora 34, which I upgraded to last week.

          The upgrade process went off without any hitch, using the DNF system upgrade plug-in. This isn’t an official way to upgrade Fedora, but then again, what is? GNOME Software probably works, but I like to know what’s going on in the background so if something does glitch I know what went wrong.

          In Fedora 33, the default file system was changed to BtrFS. While I was skeptical initially, it turned out to be the right decision. While it did not use compress by default, it was a simple matter of editing /etc/fstab to tack on the ,compress=zstd switch on the / and /home mount options and then to compress both my / volume and /home subvolume. Just as easily as tacking on a sudo to the command I found at the Arch Linux wiki btrfs filesystem defragment -r -v -czstd / and then following up with btrfs filesystem defragment -r -v -czstd /home and waiting a few moments.

        • Fedora Community Blog: Friday’s Fedora Facts: 2021-27

          Here’s your weekly Fedora report. Read what happened this week and what’s coming up. Your contributions are welcome (see the end of the post)!

          The Nest With Fedora CfP closes next Friday! Registration is open now.

          I have weekly office hours on Wednesdays in the morning and afternoon (US/Eastern time) in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. See the upcoming meetings for more information.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • A new open source operating system for embedded systems

        There’s a growing demand for embedded operating systems, and it’s best when the one you build upon is open source. The RT-Thread project’s R&D team has spent three years of research and intensive development to arrive at the project’s latest offering: RT-Thread Smart. It is a microkernel operating system aimed primarily at midrange to high-end processors such as RISC-V with a memory management unit (MMU) and provides a competitive software platform for all industries in the embedded space.

        RT-Thread Smart is a professional, high-performance, microkernel operating system for real-time applications. It offers an open source foundation for embedded devices in any market, including security (e.g., internet protocol cameras), industrial control, onboard devices, consumer electronics, and anything else using embedded technology (which is increasingly coming to mean “everything”). It’s significant because, unlike traditional IoT operating systems, a microkernel operating system can fill the gap between a traditional real-time operating system (RTOS) and a comparatively large operating system like Linux to achieve the best balance between real-time performance, cost, security, startup speed, and more.

      • 12 Strong Free and Open Source Chess Engines

        Chess is a recreational and competitive board game played between two players. It is a very popular game, played by millions across the world, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.

        Chess has the virtue of being suitable for people of all ages. It has many positive attributes such as to help individuals develop their memory, improve and enhance their concentration, as well as logical thinking. It also promotes and improves imagination and creativity. Chess is one of those games that takes a few days to learn and the rest of your life to master, with the game being a never ending learning process, even for the top players.

        The game is played on a square chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. Each player controls 16 pieces, and the object of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king.

      • Funding

        • A new report addresses the key success factors in public investment, when the target is open source.

          On 21 June, the consultancy Public Digital, funded by the Omidyar Network, published the report “Open source in government: creating the conditions for success”, which aims to inform policy makers on their governments capability, with the objective of ensuring value for money in key digital sectors, amongst which stands out open source. By conducting 19 interviews in four continents, the team built up a self-assessment tool for governments, called Open Source Capability Model for Governments, aimed to inform open-source-related national policies through the identification of key investment areas for public money with an eye to sustainability.

        • Open Source from an Investment Angle

          Open source can be viewed from a variety of angles, including from a pure software development approach, from a licensing angle, and in terms of community health and engagement, says George Anadiotis.

        • Open-source growth and venture capital investment: Data, databases, challenges, and opportunities | ZDNet

          Today, we explore open source software (OSS) and its commercialization from yet another angle: the investment angle. There are a couple of venture capitals out there that seem to be ahead of the curve in terms of their understanding of, and investment in, commercial open source companies. Runa Capital is one of them, and we caught up with Konstantin Vinogradov, Runa Capital Principal, who shared his views, findings, and outlook for commercial OSS.

      • FSF

        • FSF Contributor’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide [Ed: IBM-led lobbying against FSF CLA]

          Today, we’re happy to announce the publication of our Contributor’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide. The guide is meant to help contributors to Free Software Foundation (FSF) copyrighted packages better understand our copyright assignment program.

          Copyleft licenses like the GNU General Public License rely on copyright law in order to ensure that free software remains free. The tools that copyright law provides enable the copyright holder on a work to make sure that the work is always distributed in a way that enables users to run, edit, share, and contribute to their modifications of the work. When a license violator fails to live up to these standards, only the copyright holder is able to use the powers granted by copyright law in order to enforce the terms of the license on the code. For over thirty-five years, the FSF has handled license enforcement for many important GNU Project packages. In order to put us in the best position to do that enforcement work, we require contributors on FSF-copyrighted packages to assign their copyright to the FSF.

          Thousands of contributors have happily made such assignments over the years, but often have questions about the process or what assignment means. The FSF’s Licensing & Compliance Lab created this FAQ so we could collect the answers to the most common questions in order to help contributors better understand the system and keep the program running smoothly.

      • Programming/Development

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: drat 0.2.1: Small Tweak

          A new minor release of drat arrived on CRAN overnight. This is a minor update relative to the 0.2.0 release in April. This release will now create an empty file index.html in the top-level (when initRepo() is called), and check for presence of such a file when adding files to a repo (via insertPackage()). This helps to avoid getting ‘404’ results when (perfectly valid) drat repos are checking by accessing the top-level URL, as for example CRAN does when testing if an Additional_repositoiries is reachable. The ‘step-by-step’ vignette had already suggested creating one by hand, this is now done programmatically (and one is present in the repo suggsted to fork from too).

          drat stands for drat R Archive Template, and helps with easy-to-create and easy-to-use repositories for R packages. Since its inception in early 2015 it has found reasonably widespread adoption among R users because repositories with marked releases is the better way to distribute code. See below for a few custom reference examples.

        • Timezones of Countries and Country Subdivisions

          While this ultimately is just a small table with a few hundred entries, it’s actually rather complicated to get to.

          The official IANA zonetab has at least some data on countries, but for the country subdivisions we need more. The most detailed data in this regard is the IANA timezone boundaries dataset, which contains high resolution geographic areas for each timezone, generated from OSM.

          Inspired by that I built a similar dataset for countries and country subdivisions boundaries some time ago. What we are looking for now is the intersection of those two.

          Not something one would want to implement manually, but fortunately QGIS provides the right tools for this already. We use that in form of a Python script that can run inside QGIS, download and unpack the needed data files, preprocess them for our use, compute the data we need from then and then generate C++ code from that.

          [...]

          Feedback for this is very welcome, on the implementation but also regarding use-cases and requirements you have in your application. Check the corresponding Phabricator task and the Gitlab branch for this, or find me in the #kde-devel channel on Matrix, the weekly KF6 meetings or the kde-frameworks-devel mailing list.

        • Why are app developers porting to Apple Silicon and not to Linux? [Ed: Stuff they port is likely worthless proprietary software that GNU/Linux users won't run anyway]

          Today we’re going to address something that is regularly pointed out to me in the comments: why would third party application developers go through all the trouble of porting their apps to Apple Silicon, which is a whole new architecture, and not do a port for Linux, which runs mostly on x86 CPUs, same as what Macs and Windows computers generally run up to that point

        • Perl/Raku

        • Rust

          • Announcing Arti, a pure-Rust Tor implementation (Tor blog)

            The Tor project, which provides tools for internet privacy and anonymity, has announced a rewrite of the Tor protocols in Rust, called Arti. It is not ready for prime time, yet, but based on a grant from Zcash Open Major Grants (ZOMG), significant work is ongoing; the plan is “to try bring Arti to a production-quality client implementation over the next year and a half”. The C implementation is not going away anytime soon, but the idea is that Arti will eventually supplant it.

  • Leftovers

    • More Fables (Inspired by Aesop and William Bartram)

      The morning was uncommonly hot even for Micanopy, a small town (pop. 600) in northern Florida. There had been rain, but rather than rinsing the air, it added to the humidity. Now the sun was out, and steam was rising from the asphalt on County Road 346 to Hawthorne. I was headed to Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve, a 2,800-acre protected upland between Orange Lake and Lake Lochloosa.  My plan was run about 4 miles at a slow pace, drink lots of water, and stop in the shade if I got dizzy.

      The drive usually takes about fifteen minutes, but you must be cautious. The two-lane highway beneath a canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss,  is narrow, and while traffic is light, there are always animals crossing the road or browsing along its sides. I regularly see sandhill cranes, turkeys, deer, crows and vultures. The black vultures especially catch my eye. Their dark, featherless heads remind me of hooded executioners. They can often be seen standing around a deer corpse on the grassy shoulder of the road, their wings parted and drooping, like baggy suits, as they wait their turn to eat.

    • Science

    • Education

      • The Eurocentrism Curse

        Indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and communities, placed in badly run schools where they were forbidden to use their own language and subjected to all sorts of physical and mental abuses, as testified by survivors. Thousands went missing, their families given no answers, and survivors left with profound emotional scars.

        Another shocking feature of this horrific tale of lost children is that the last school closed only very recently: in 1996.  Why didn’t successive government through the many years provide judicial, educational, humane even, oversite? What kind of Christianity did the local Anglican and Catholic teachers practice when sadist, even rapists and pedophiles, perhaps even killers, were allowed near vulnerable children?

      • Randi Weingarten Rips CRT Critics for ‘Trying to Stop Us From Teaching Students Accurate History’

        The Republican Party’s cynical assault on Critical Race Theory is a political strategy that relies on controlling the message going into the 2022 midterm elections. So partisan apparatchiks, along with the talking heads that populate the GOP’s media echo chamber, have adopted a rigid approach to any dissent from the party line regarding what it hopes will be the new orthodoxy on teaching—or, to be more precise, not teaching—about historic and systemic racial injustice in America. If someone dares to suggest that what Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are proposing is not just shamelessly anti-historical but also threatening to freedom of speech and honest dialogue in the United States, the response is guaranteed to be rough.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Juul Rented A Scientific Journal For a Month To Spread Glorified Marketing

        One-time darling in the e-cigarette space, Juul, has witnessed an absolutely stunning collapse. The one-two punch of a rash of mysterious deaths and illnesses linked to nicotine vaping, compounded by an investigation into the company’s dodgy marketing to teenagers, has resulted in the company’s market share in e-cigarettes dropping from around 75 percent at its peak to 42 percent today. And depending on an upcoming FDA ruling, the company could soon see its products banned in the US entirely.

      • The Disability Revolution We All Need

        A powerful scene in the Peabody Award-winning documentary Crip Camp shows a sit-down protest by over 100 mostly disabled Americans inside the old federal office building in San Francisco. The year was 1977, the mood: defiant, angry, excited. At issue was government enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the first federal law ever to ban discrimination against people with disabilities.

      • Why We Should Change How We Talk About Nonhuman Animals

        Happy was born in the wild but was captured as a calf in the early 1970s. She ended up at the Bronx Zoo in New York City a few years later, where she’s been ever since.

        Given what we know about how physically and psychologically detrimental captivity is for elephants and how vastly different their lives are in the wild, it’s virtually impossible to draw the conclusion that Happy is content at all after enduring decades of confinement that include years of isolation.

      • Celebrity “vegan cardiologist” Dr. Joel Kahn has become an antivaccine COVID-19 crank

        Dr. Joel Kahn is a fairly well-known cardiologist in my neck of the woods who recently came to my attention for his Twitter feed and its plethora of antivaccine pseudoscience. We’ll get to that in a moment, after I look at who Dr. Kahn is, given that I’ve only mentioned him on this blog one time before, in the context of his recommending a book by Vani Hari, otherwise known as the “Food Babe.” Specifically, he is an “integrative” (or, as he likes to put it, “holistic”) cardiologist who practices in the suburbs of Detroit at what appears to be a concierge practice. Of note, Dr. Kahn DOES NOT ACCEPT INSURANCE PAYMENTS FOR OFFICE VISITS (and the all caps are not mine, but straight from the page on his website that informs patients of this). Also, he charges $500 for a one-hour consultation and $250 for half-hour followup visits. (Nice work if you can get it.) Dr. Khan calls his clinic the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity and advertises thusly:

      • Data Show Far-Right Media Could Be Fueling Growing Partisan Vaccination Gap
      • In Win for Overdose Prevention, Rhode Island Approves Harm Reduction Centers
      • Big Pharma Firms Spend More on Executive Pay and Dividends Than on Research
      • After Months of Controversy, FDA Chief Requests Probe of Alzheimer’s Drug Approval

        Public health advocates and other critics of the Food and Drug Administration’s June decision to approve the first new medication for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly two decades welcomed the acting commissioner’s Friday call for an independent investigation into the agency’s review of the questionably effective drug—including staff contact with its developer, Biogen.

        The probe request from Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, came just a day after the agency narrowed its recommendation about which patients are given Biogen’s drug aducanumab, known by the brand name Aduhelm. It also follows an exposé in STAT revealing that “FDA officials worked hand in hand with Biogen executives to get the drug on the market.”

      • Fox News’ Anti-Vaccination Hysteria Has Reached a Disturbing New Level

        It’s unclear how vaccinating people against a virus that has now killed more than 600,000 Americans and 4 million people worldwide constitutes some sort of Democratic power play, but that doesn’t even matter. The idea is displayed in all caps for Ingraham’s viewers to absorb in all its incoherence, and absorb it they have. According to an ABC/Washington Post poll released over Fourth of July, 93 percent of Democrats have either been vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated, compared to only 49 percent of Republicans.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Spike in “Chain Gang” Destructive Attacks on ATMs

          Last summer, financial institutions throughout Texas started reporting a sudden increase in attacks involving well-orchestrated teams that would show up at night, use stolen trucks and heavy chains to rip Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) out of their foundations, and make off with the cash boxes inside. Now it appears the crime — known variously as “ATM smash-and-grab” or “chain gang” attacks — is rapidly increasing in other states.

        • ‘Barely able to keep up’: America’s cyberwarriors are spread thin by attacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

          But then ransomware exploded again. One of the most prolific ransomware gangs, REvil, conducted its boldest attacks yet over the Fourth of July weekend, on Kaseya, which services customers who in turn contract with thousands of businesses. Though the dust has yet to settle, researchers say the hack allowed REvil to infect more than 1,500 different organizations. The gang seems to have bitten off more than it can chew and has asked for a $70 million lump sum to unlock all infected computers.

          Jake Williams, the chief technology officer at the cybersecurity company Breachquest, said his company had drastically increased the number of ransomware cases it handled even before the Fourth of July spree.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • If you’ve mastered Python 101, you’re probably better at programming than OpenAI’s prototype Codex [Ed: "Hey hi" hype is still mostly garbage and marketing (paid-for media to sell proprietary software and keyloggers for IDEs)]

              The artificial intelligence lab revealed the shortcomings and limitations of non-production builds of its Codex model in a pre-print paper this week. It should be noted a distinct production variant of the system powers GitHub Copilot; the preliminary models discussed in the paper are smaller and are only trained on Python whereas Copilot was trained on more data and supports code-completion for a range of programming languages.

              Still, GitHub Copilot suffers from similar problems as the prototypes of Codex. Namely, the code generated is unlikely to be correct and useful for developers in its first attempt, and it tends to come up with responses that at first glance appear sensible but may be wrong. Programmers should carefully check the auto-written code for any mistakes.

        • Security

          • Sophos acquires Linux-focused security firm Capsule8

            Global cybersecurity firm Sophos has acquired Capsule8, a provider of runtime visibility, detection and response solutions for Linux production servers and containers covering on-premise and cloud workloads.

          • Why Linux’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness [Ed: Qualys is not journalism, it is shameless self-promotion and marketing; TechRader is PR, not news]

            Unpatched vulnerabilities are one of the main points of entry for cyberattacks. Attacks on infrastructure are increasing, and IT teams are struggling to keep up with the swathe of new issues that are discovered. Patch management should therefore be a key focus for IT and security teams in the race to keep ahead of attackers.

          • Security warning deluge from ‘npm audit’ is driving developers to distraction [Ed: Pentagon tentacle and NSA back doors peddler Microsoft remains the biggest supply chain risk; NPN is not trustworthy at all.]

            Dan Abramov, a software engineer at Facebook, this week published a plea to silence a particularly vocal JavaScript security tool – and its creators more or less agreed there’s room for improvement.

            “As of today, npm audit is a stain on the entire npm ecosystem,” Abramov declared in a blog post. “The best time to fix it was before rolling it out as a default. The next best time to fix it is now.”

            According to Abramov, 99 per cent of the vulnerabilities flagged by the command are false alarms in common usage scenarios. And this appears to be a fairly widespread sentiment among npm users.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Amazon.com Wants to Monitor You in Your Sleep, for Your Benefit

              The Federal Communications Commission on Friday granted Amazon.com Inc. approval to use a radar sensor to sense motion and “enable contactless sleep tracing functionalities.”

              Amazon on June 22 asked the FCC, which regulates airwave uses, for permission to market a device that uses radar. The technology captures movement in three dimensions, enabling a user to control its features through simple gestures and movements, the company said in a filing.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Dead Heat: It Is Too Late to Leave

        What if you saw someone walking past a burning house who paid no attention to it? They don’t try to put out the fire. They do nothing to help the people crying out inside. They just keep walking. You would think there was something wrong with them, wouldn’t you? Now imagine the burning house is their own, and their own friends and family are trapped inside. That seems sociopathic.  And yet that person is us, and the house is humanity’s common home.

      • The narrow borders of militarism

        The fate of House Resolution 476, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, will give us a clue how close “we,” by which I mean the leading military power on the planet, are to transcending our suicidal certainties.

        The wording of this bill concludes thus:

      • Interventionism Gave Us Afghanistan and Iraq

        Not so! That’s because pre-9/11 interventionism is what brought about the 9/11 attacks, which were then used as the excuse for more interventionism in the form of the invasions and forever wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

        From the late 1940s, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were convinced that the Cold War against the Soviet Union and “godless communism” would go on forever, which would, of course, guarantee ever-increasing budgets for these national-security state entities. 

      • Taiwan: A War That Must Never Be Fought

        Taiwan has become the most dangerous flashpoint of the emerging new Cold War between the U.S. and China. Neither side wants war, but accidents and miscalculations—like those that triggered the First World War—can happen.

      • Progressives, Peace Groups Welcome Biden Announcement of US Afghan Withdrawal Date

        Peace activists joined progressive U.S. lawmakers Thursday in welcoming President Joe Biden’s announcement that most American military operations in Afghanistan will cease by the end of August, even as Taliban battlefield victories raise the specter of a return to fundamentalist rule over the war-weary nation.

        “Two decades of U.S. war and occupation did not and will not bring peace to Afghanistan.”—Kate Kizer,Win Without War

      • William Dodge on Nestle Slave Labor, Michael Ratner on Donald Rumsfeld

        This week on CounterSpin: Nestle CEO Mark Schneider told investors in February that “2020 was a year of hardship for so many,” yet he was “inspired by the way it has brought all of us closer together.” And also by an “improvement” in Nestle’s “profitability and return on invested capital.” “The global pandemic,” Schneider said, “did not slow us down.”

      • Good Riddance to Bad Rummy

        That’s the Iraq War (also the Afghan war). Everybody lost (except maybe Iran and Israel) and continues to lose, 20 years later, as a defeated America fitfully attempts an ignominious, dangerous, but better-late-than-never withdrawal.

        One of the chief architects of both of these forever-losing Perma Wars, as well as the post-9/11 War on Terror and Worldwide Web of Torture surrounding them, passed away on June 29th, 2021, and on the occasion of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s death, I am mourning the victims of his war crimes.

      • Donald Rumsfeld: RIP (With Maybe a Bit More P Now He’s Gone)

        Starting off as just one more conservative congressman from a conservative Chicago district, he joined the gang in opposing anything social in the programs of Presidents J. F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and in the general attack against Fidel Castro. But clever, handsome, a good speaker and a dependable rightist, he moved on up the line and President Nixon appointed him to be head of the Office of Economic Opportunity, the federal antipoverty agency, where he had a far better chance to oppose anything social for the underprivileged.

        After Nixon was forced to quit as president his successor, Vice President Gerald Ford, made Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense. In his two years at that job his main accomplishment, in 1976, was to stymie a nearly agreed-upon arms control agreement with Moscow and effectively kill any other disarmament negotiations.

      • Why Whistleblower Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

        These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

        The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.

      • Lebanon Faces Dire Crisis After the Elite Plundered the State for Decades, Exacerbating Inequality

        Lebanon is days away from a “social explosion,” according to the country’s prime minister, amid what the World Bank has described as one of the worst economic depressions in modern history. The country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value, unemployment has skyrocketed, and fuel prices have soared. Most homes and businesses, and even hospitals, only have power for a few hours each day, and pharmacies are running low on medicine. The U.N. has warned over three-quarters of households in Lebanon do not have enough food or money to buy food. Lebanon is also facing a massive political crisis following the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut last August, which killed over 200 people, injured 7,000 and left more than a quarter-million Beirut residents unhoused. Nisreen Salti, an economics professor at the American University of Beirut, says “the entire system crumbled” in Lebanon due to decades of structural inequality. “The business and political class that benefited from the system was able to plunder the economy for 20-odd years,” Salti says. We also speak with Middle East scholar Ziad Abu-Rish of Bard College. He says the economic crisis and the port explosion, for which there have been no major prosecutions, both reveal the impunity with which the country’s elites operate. “Part of the problem is the total lack of accountability,” Abu-Rish says.

      • In Modi’s India, Being a Tribal Woman is an Act of Resistance

        The women were rallying against the extrajudicial killings, sexual abuse, and arrests that have become daily realities for many Adivasi people – especially women. The police soon descended and arrested one of their leaders, Hidme Markam. Today, Markam has been in custody for four months, held under India’s notorious UAPA – a draconian act designed to control terrorism, but now used to silence anyone who speaks out against the government.

        All over the tribal lands of central India, Adivasi people are having to fight to defend their most basic rights. Just days before her arrest, Markam gave an interview. Speaking quietly but forcefully she said: “If we look at the everyday situations women are facing: they are being beaten every day; they are being jailed every day. Every day, wherever our women go, they face the same kind of abuse”.

      • From Iowa Nice to Iowa Nazi: a Report from the Friendly Fascist Heartland

        “Red” states like Iowa, home to former long-term Congressman Steve King, who praised the Dutch white nationalist Geert Wilders as follows in March of 2017: “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

        Iowa, home to governor “Killer” Kim Reynolds who recently signed a bill making it a crime for teachers in public educational institutions to tell the true story of white systemic racism and sexism in American society past and present.  (Please sign up with CounterPunch+ to read my forthcoming essay [available this Sunday] showing how these and other state bills outlawing the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” are a perfect match for Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley’s 10-point dissection of fascist politics more ideational components.)

      • Nuclear Stockholm Syndrome

        First, Sunkara poses the decline of the nuclear industry in the West as an achievement of progressive political movements. Specifically, he cites the decline of nuclear power in Germany as attributable to a “Green party-spearheaded campaign.” This decline has been more reasonably ascribed to both market conditions and missteps by nuclear industry giants such as Westinghouse and AREVA. From its inception, nuclear power has been heavily dependent on government subsidies to appear economically viable (subsidies such as insurance and the disposal of waste largely configured as taxpayer burdens).

        Rather than succumbing to its political opponents on the left, the industry has been sunk by its structural economic dysfunctions. In the US, this has sparked schemes to secure additional taxpayer subsidies in legislative fixes such as guaranteed returns for nuclear utilities, and outright bribery of legislators for taxpayer bailouts of failing companies.

      • Roaming Charges: Flaming Patriots

        + I watched George Cukor’s Keeper of the Flame over the holiday weekend, not expecting much, except for some snappy repartee between Hepburn and Tracy. Tracy plays a reporter during the early days of WW2, who travels to Maine to interview the widow of a Lindbergh-like American hero, who has just died in a mysterious car crash. The film moves along pretty briskly and conventionally until Hepburn opens a locked cabinet in her husband’s office (an old arsenal from the Revolutionary War era), turns to Tracy, who had been an admirer of her husband (Robert Forrest), and says:

        Keeper of the Flame works as a story and a warning about patriotic fervor. There’s tension, mystery social comedy and romance, though as with most Tracy/Hepburn films, it is a find of flirtation devoid of erotic charge. Cukor avoids flashbacks. We never see Forrest, except in a brooding portrait above the fireplace which Hepburn and Forrest’s assistant, a Goebbels-like character icily played by Richard Whorf, tend like a shrine. The painting is a menacing presence long before we learn Forrest’s evil secret.

      • Malcolm Gladwell’s Beige Skin Privilege

        The editors of the NYer and their counterparts in book publishing and television and online media have created a Frankenstein who they keep pretending is not monstrous. On CNN this week Gladwell was fawned over by smart, sensible Ari Melber as he promoted his latest best-seller, “The Bomber Mafia.”  The book was deemed “a love song to the United States Air Force” by Thomas Ricks in the NY Times Book Review.

        “In Gladwell’s deft hands, the Air Force generals of World War II come back to life as the stirring 20th-century equivalent of Adm. Horatio Nelson and his band of audacious captains from the age of fighting sail,” writes Ricks. “The unexpected hero of Gladwell’s story is Curtis LeMay — yes, that one, the general who firebombed Tokyo and dozens of other Japanese cities and then, decades later, supposedly advocated bombing the Vietnamese back into the Stone Age. (Gladwell partly excuses this notorious phrase, saying it was likely the work of a ghostwriter.)”

      • Was it Just? America and Her Suicidal Combat Veterans

        Anyone who served in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan may likely now know more friends killed by suicide than killed by the Taliban or by Iraqi insurgents. The same possibly for veterans who fought in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. Suicide after taking part in war, and its killing, is not a new phenomenon, and its likely cause, guilt, is understood if seldom discussed.

        Greek and Roman histories speak of suicide and what we now call invisible wounds. Our greatest literary voices, like Shakespeare and Homer, wrote of it. Following the American Civil War, period sources describe suicide, alcoholism, drug overdose, and exposure due to homelessness that killed and debilitated hundreds of thousands of veterans.  In America’s other “good” war, World War II, 1 in 7 combat veterans were discharged as psychiatric casualties. In an era where a psychiatric diagnosis was often shunned and avoided, and when post-traumatic stress disorder would not become a medically recognized diagnosis until the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of World War II veterans were mentally and emotionally devastated. However, the discussion of what World War II veterans were going through, and then Korean veterans, was censored by the US government. The Vietnam War, as it did so many other things in our society, changed the discussion on the psychological and psychiatric consequences of war. Suicide among Vietnam veterans became an open secret widely discussed, if not among the public than among veterans.

      • Eswatini, Formerly Swaziland, Sees Brutal Government Crackdown on Mass Protests over Inequality

        The government of the southern African nation of Eswatini, which was known as Swaziland up until 2018, is brutally cracking down on the largest anti-government protests in the country since it became independent from Britain 53 years ago. Eswatini, bordered by Mozambique and South Africa, is currently facing an economic crisis with a shortage of gas, food and other resources. More than half of Eswatini’s citizens live in poverty, while King Mswati III is known for his lavish lifestyle, including owning expensive cars. Amnesty International reports at least 20 protesters have been killed by state security forces, and dozens of others tortured, detained or abducted. We speak with a women’s rights activist in Manzini, Eswatini, who asked for her face and voice to be obscured due to safety concerns. She says the situation is especially dire for women. “Their situation is very bad,” the activist says. “We’ve been facing the scourge of gender-based violence, but this situation will exacerbate.”

      • To End Collective and Cruel Punishment, Biden Must Go Further on Sanctions Relief

        On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued a national security directive to review the impact of sanctions on the global response to COVID-19, with an eye towards offering sanctions relief. Nearly five months later, the first concrete steps have been taken: the Treasury Department issued general licenses on June 17 to facilitate the purchases and delivery of vaccines and medical supplies to Iran, Venezuela, and Syria.

      • US-Backed Haitian Government Reportedly Requests American Intervention

        Officials from Haiti’s U.S.-backed government on Friday reportedly requested the deployment of American troops to the Caribbean nation to protect key assets—and presumably the regime itself—amid the chaotic aftermath of Wednesday’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince.

        “There’s this folly… that these moments should be used as opportunities to exert influence internationally. I think that’s short-sighted.”—Jean Saint-Vil, Haitian-Canadian activist

      • Suspected Assassins of Haitian President Moïse Trained by US, Linked to Pro-Coup Oligarchy

        As shock grips the Caribbean island nation of Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, the Haitian government has carried out a campaign to arrest suspects it alleges are responsible for the murder.

      • Biden Kneels Before Israeli President’s Chief of Staff

        On July 5, 2021, Alison Weir, the daring and indefatigable Executive Director of If Americans Knew, posted a photograph of Joe Robinette Biden prostrating himself in front of outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin – right smack in the White House’s Oval Office – the world’s nerve center of supreme power.

        My title, Biden Kneels Before Israeli President’s Chief of Staff, is a direct quote from Ms. Weir’s email missive.

      • Opinion | What I Dreamed Of: Fighting Israel’s Relentless Overwhelming Of The Already Overwhelmed
      • “Unchallenged Orientalism”: Why Liberals Suddenly Love the Lab Leak Theory

        The theory that the COVID-19 pandemic began life in a Chinese laboratory is going viral. Once considering it an anti-science conspiracy theory, the corporate press has done a full 180° turn — and many progressive, alternative media figures are following in its footsteps.

      • The People vs. Mahmoud Abbas: Are the Palestinian Authority’s Days Numbered?

        This assertion has been oft repeated recently, especially after the torture to death on June 24 of a popular Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, 42, at the hands of PA security goons in Hebron (Al-Khalil).

        The killing – or ‘assassination’ as some Palestinian rights groups describe it – of Banat, however, is commonplace. Torture in PA prisons is the modus operandi, through which Palestinian interrogators exact ‘confessions’. Palestinian political prisoners in PA custody are usually divided into two main groups: activists who are suspected by Israel of being involved in anti-Israeli occupation activities and others who have been detained for voicing criticism of the PA’s corruption or subservience to Israel.

      • Taliban capture key Afghanistan border crossings

        The militants say they seized two key border towns – Islam Qala near Iran, and Torghundi bordering Turkmenistan.

        Video footage appeared to show Taliban forces taking down the Afghan flag from the roof of a border customs office.

        The Taliban are rapidly retaking land across Afghanistan as the US-led mission removes the last of its troops.

        Taliban officials say their fighters have taken control of 85% of territory in Afghanistan – a claim impossible to independently verify and disputed by the government.

      • Carlos Lazo: The Cuban American Leading the Charge to Transform U.S.-Cuba Policy

        While right-wing Cubans in Miami call him “comunista,” Lazo has no time for ideology. He is neither for or against the Cuban government; he is for the Cuban people, the Cuban families. And he is disgusted by the cruelty of the U.S. blockade and by politicians who use the Cuban people as a political football–especially during this pandemic.

        Lazo portrays Cuba and the U.S. as his parents—Cuba is his mother, the U.S. his father. He sees his job as trying to stop them from fighting and instead to embrace each other. “We try to unite people, whatever their ideology, religion, race or nationality,” Lazo told me. “The important thing is to take down walls that separate us and build bridges between our people.”

      • Head of Haiti’s Palace Guard Subject of US Law Enforcement Investigation into Arms Trafficking

        On Thursday, July 8, the chief government prosecutor in Port-au-Prince requested that Herard present himself for questioning in relation to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. A source close to the deceased president, requesting anonymity out of fear for their life, claimed that Moïse was personally aware of the US investigation into Herard, and that Moïse had told them that “the US is taking care of it.”

        Herard, in 2012, was one of a small group of Haitians sent to Ecuador under then-president Michel Martelly to train at the Eloy Alfaro Military Academy. He eventually entered the president’s palace guard and became head of the USGPN in February 2017 after the inauguration of Moïse. Despite Herard’s high-level presence within the USGPN, he also operates a private security company. The practice, while a clear conflict of interest, has become increasingly common among police officers in recent years.

      • America’s Impressive History of Bioweapons Attacks Against Its Own People

        (Word to the wise, “Sinophobia” means anti-China hatred, not anti-cinema hatred as I had thought. So I apologize to all the people who posted a movie review for Fast And Furious 27 and noticed a response comment from me reading “GODDAMN SINOPHOBE!” Under the circumstances, that was an odd thing to yell.)

        During the Trump Administration, the Wuhan lab leak theory was called a ridiculous conspiracy that blossomed out of Trump’s racist brain — which it did. It absolutely did. And he should get some credit for that because anyone can be racist but Trump is a racist inventor. He comes up with new and exciting ways to be racist. So he deserves some credit for his innovation.

      • America- Led NATO in Afghanistan: Crimes against Humanity Call for Accountability

        After the 9/11, America led NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan was a revulsion against truth as it was in complete disconnect to the living consciousness of global community. David Corn (“Is the President a Pathological Liar? Bush’s unhealthy relationship with reality”: LAWeekly: 12/11/2003), outlines the compelling facts:

        “Bush was more likely engaged in the deceit of triumphalism- ignoring facts and saying whatever sounds good to juice up the public. It was hype, extreme rhetoric, utterly divorced from events on the ground….a demonstration to Bush’s penchant to embrace and (peddle) self-serving fantasy over the obvious truth….We will not rest until we bring these committed killers to justice…We must, and we will continue to take the fight to the enemy.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Transparency, Openness, and Our 2020 Financials

        Every year, as required by U.S. federal law for 501(c)(3) nonprofits, the Tor Project completes a Form 990, and as required by contractual obligations and state regulations, an independent audit of our financial statements. After completing standard audits for 2019-2020,* our federal tax filings and audit are both now available. We upload all of our tax documents and publish a blog post about these documents in order to be transparent.

        Transparency for a privacy project is not a contradiction: privacy is about choice, and we choose to be transparent in order to build trust and a stronger community. In this post, we aim to be very clear about where the Tor Project’s money comes from and what we do with it. This is how we operate in all aspects of our work: we show you all of our projects, in source code, and in periodic project and team reports, and in collaborations with researchers who help assess and improve Tor. Transparency also means being clear about our values, promises, and priorities as laid out in our social contract.

    • Environment

      • Infrastructure Plan With Major Climate Investments Would Create 26 Million Jobs: Report

        A report released Friday by Data for Progress and Evergreen Action shows that an infrastructure package with $2.6 trillion in climate investments would create 26 million green jobs over a decade—contributing to a post-pandemic economic recovery that advances renewable energy and environmental justice.

        The groups’ new report explains how, by following the recommendations outlined in their “Clean Jumpstart 2021″ plan, congressional Democrats can deliver on President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to put millions of Americans to work building “modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy economy.”

      • Mayor of Canadian Town Destroyed by Wildfire Writes Heartbreaking Letter to Residents

        This magnitude of destruction will only become more common as the climate crisis progresses. This fire already has a precedent: In 2018, the Paradise, California, wildfire destroyed 95 percent of the town in a matter of minutes. And studies have assured us that instances of “megafires” will increase as temperatures rise and droughts expand; one study projects that by the middle of the century, we’ll have 35 percent more “fire days” per year. “We’re at the spear point of climate change, but it’s coming for everybody,” said Murray. “We have to work together to get ready to make changes now, because as we discovered, if you’re scrambling at the last minute, you leave people behind.”

      • Extreme heat and cold kill five million every year

        Five million people die annually of ever more extreme temperatures. And this is happening now on five continents.

      • Drought Takes Hold of California
      • Head of Dam-Building Company Convicted in Murder of Activist Berta Cáceres
      • A Green New Deal for Pacific Northwest Forests, Workers, and Communities

        As our communities still reel from the recent deadly heat wave and stare down the barrel of another wildfire season, Pacific Northwesterners know all too well what it means to experience the climate crisis up close. From mega-fires, “atmospheric rivers,” and once-in-a-millenia droughts, our region is a harbinger of the new normal in a quickly warming world. Just last year, the climate-driven Labor Day wildfires leveled entire communities as the world looked on in horror.

      • Progressives Demand Green New Deal as New York Floods and West Prepares for Heat
      • Warning Against ‘Exxon Infrastructure Deal,’ Progressives Say Jobs Package Must Center Climate

        Nearly a dozen progressive lawmakers led by Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said Thursday that the Democratic leadership must prioritize major investments in climate action in an emerging infrastructure package, pointing to ongoing heatwaves, wildfires, and floods across the country as evidence of the need for transformative changes to the nation’s energy system.

        “Climate action IS infrastructure—and we can’t wait any longer to address it at the scale necessary.”—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

      • ‘Biden Climate Timeline’ Details Broken Promises on Planetary Emergency

        President Joe Biden promised a “whole-of-government approach” featuring “bold” measures to tackle the climate emergency and vowed to undo environmental damage done by his predecessor, Donald Trump, whom he dubbed a “climate arsonist.”

        But a new tool launched Thursday from advocacy group Food & Water Watch shows how Biden and other officials in his administration have made statements and taken actions that run counter to those promises.

      • Flooded NYC Subways Exemplify Why Climate Is Key to Infrastructure Fight

        Footage of New Yorkers struggling to wade through filthy, waist-deep water at a Manhattan subway station as heavy rainfall engulfed the city’s aging and long-neglected infrastructure on Thursday added fuel to progressive demands for a robust federal spending package that confronts the climate crisis—which is making such extreme weather more frequent and destructive.

        “It’s been raining for two hours and our infrastructure is flooding and overwhelmed,” tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “Our infrastructure package must address the climate change crisis with the urgency it deserves—with massive investments in decarbonization and clean energy.”

      • ‘That’s Lethal, Communities Completely Exposed to This Kind of Heat’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Vivek Shandas about climate impacts for the July 2, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Energy

        • With Amazon Rainforest at ‘Tipping Point,’ Big Banks Told to End Fossil Fuel Financing

          Amazon Watch and Stand.earth revealed Thursday that major European and U.S. banks are at high risk of funding corruption, environmental harms, and human rights violations in the Amazon basin—along with exacerbating the climate emergency and escalating deforestation—due to their relationships with fossil fuel companies and traders.

          “These policies have loopholes that allow money to continue to flow to companies involved in oil expansion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, corruption, and the violation of Indigenous peoples’ rights.”—Angeline Robertson, Stand.earth

        • Suffocating in Plastic
        • It’s Time to Repeal Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Say Progressives

          Progressives in and out of Congress are leading a push to eliminate all subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, making a repeal of these multibillion-dollar giveaways a red line in the upcoming budget reconciliation package, the larger spending bill aimed at implementing most of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Environmentalists and left-leaning congressional Democrats are especially motivated to take on the oil and gas industries after a covertly recorded video, made in a Greenpeace sting this May, caught ExxonMobil lobbyists boasting about their efforts to sabotage climate initiatives in Washington.

        • What the Exxon Tapes Reveal About the American Petroleum Institute’s Lobbying Tactics on Oil Trains

          Senior ExxonMobil lobbyists were recently exposed by undercover reporting from UnEarthed, an investigative journalism project of Greenpeace, which captured footage of the employees explaining how the oil giant influences policy makers using trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute (API).

          The undercover footage revealed Exxon lobbyists boasting about wins for the company under the Trump administration and admitting to continued efforts to sow doubt about climate change and undermine action to tackle the crisis. The recordings also confirmed the findings of years of DeSmog research on API’s lobbying tactics. “Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we hide our science? Absolutely not,” Keith McCoy, a senior director in ExxonMobil’s Washington, D.C. government affairs team, told the undercover reporter Lawrence Carter. “Did we join some of these ‘shadow groups’ to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true. But there’s nothing illegal about that. You know, we were looking out for our investments; we were looking out for our shareholders.”

          Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

      • Bangladesh Factory Fire Kills Dozens of Workers Locked Inside

        A massive fire engulfed a food processing factory overnight in Bangladesh, killing more than 50 people and injuring at least 26 more, with additional workers still suspected to be inside the building after being trapped by an illegally locked door, officials said Friday.

        After flames erupted Thursday around 5:00 pm local time on the ground floor of the seven-story Hashem Foods and Beverage factory in Rupganj—part of the Narayanganj district located about 12 miles southeast of Dhaka, the nation’s capital—firefighters spent the entire night battling the blaze, which was reportedly still burning nearly 24 hours later.

      • Why Capitalism Sucks

        Every employee should always feel from “day one” (as Jeff Bezos calls it) that their employer cannot wait to eliminate them. Capitalism compels all businesses to reduce expenses to increase profits. Businesses are surrounded by a competitive landscape where their ability to manage expenses will determine their profitability. Owners and investors are always looking over the shoulders of managers, insisting costs be constrained and profits increased. Every employee in America has a bullseye on their back from the moment they are hired until they are fired or quit.

        The adversarial relationship between owners and workers is intrinsic to capitalism. It gave rise in the United States to the labor movement as farm workers took up factory jobs where they were treated like equipment, not human beings. There is a tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway near my home that was built by both slave labor and free labor. When two slaves died on the job, the tunnel’s builders had to compensate the slaves’ owner a substantial amount. So they switched to “Irish” laborers because they didn’t have to compensate anyone if they died on the job. Fourteen Irish workers died in a single year, without death benefits. Under capitalism, human expenses are a cost to be minimized.

      • Oxfam Report Shows 11 People Are Dying of Hunger Every Minute—Outpacing Covid Fatalities

        As many as 11 people around the world are dying of hunger and malnutrition every minute—outpacing Covid-19 deaths—according to a report published Friday by the international charity Oxfam.

        The report (pdf), entitled The Hunger Virus Multiplies: Deadly Recipe of Conflict, Covid-19, and Climate Accelerate World Hunger, says that a year-and-a-half into the coronavirus pandemic, “deaths from hunger are outpacing” those from the virus.

      • Why Shouldn’t the People Own the Banks?

        Even as the pandemic devastated New York City, megabanks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America continued to do a roaring trade. And now those financial behemoths are set to manage the funds that New York City and other municipalities will be deploying for the recovery. But financial justice advocates want to see the City move its money from the Wall Street titans to a public bank, owned and operated by the people.

      • Meet MacKenzie Scott, Our New Good Billionaire

        With Bill Gates’s reputation as our leading philanthropist imperiled by high-profile allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women, fellow billionaire MacKenzie Scott may be taking over the mantle as our new “good billionaire”—the super-rich model citizen whose charitable beneficence justifies the existence of the billionaire class.

      • The Trump Charges Obscure a Bigger Story of How the Rich Legally Avoid Taxes

        A much bigger story than the Trump Organization’s alleged tax fraud was a ProPublica story in June of how fabulously wealthy individuals like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have paid little to nothing in federal income taxes for years. Reporters obtained confidential tax records for thousands of wealthy Americans from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and concluded that, “the wealthiest can—perfectly legally—pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year.” The heart of the story is that the form of wealth owned by the richest Americans—stocks, real estate, and other assets—is simply not taxed until it is sold.

        Based on tax information published by the New York Times last fall, Trump, like Bezos and other billionaires, has paid little to nothing in taxes for years. The scheme that the former president relied on in order to do this was somewhat different. “His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes,” explained the New York Times.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • In 18 Months, Republicans Are Very Likely to Control Congress. Being in Denial Makes It Worse

        Next year, if Republicans gain just five House seats, Rep. Kevin McCarthy or some other right-wing ideologue will become the House speaker, giving the GOP control over all committees and legislation. In the Senate, where the historic midterm pattern has been similar, a Republican gain of just one seat will reinstall Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader.

        To prevent such disastrous results, Democrats would need to replicate what happened the last time the president’s party didn’t lose House or Senate seats in a midterm election — two years after Bush entered the White House. The odds are steeply against it, as elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich points out: “Bush was very popular in 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11. According to a retrospective FiveThirtyEight average of polls at the time, he had a 62 percent approval rating and 29 percent disapproval rating on Election Day 2002. And in this era of polarization — where presidential approval ratings are stuck in a very narrow band — it’s hard to imagine (President) Biden ever reaching that level of popularity.”

      • ‘We Have Seen the Deepening of the Anti-Democratic, Anti-Protest Legislative Trend’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Vera Eidelman about Fourth of July freedoms for the July 2, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Tweet Every Voice: Assault on A Capitol Fourth

        And so it was with the 41st installation of A Capitol Fourth, the musical revue on PBS that celebrates Independence Day. An annual program born a decade after PBS got going in 1970, this monocultural-marketed-as-multicultural extravaganza runs to an hour-and-a-half of tough summer sledding. Even before it aired this year, right-wingers lifted their discordant voices on Twitter.

        The offending number was “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sugn by host Vanessa Williams. Penned by the activist, poet, and lawyer, James Weldon Johnson in 1900, the hymn gives voice to the struggle of Black Americans without naming them explicitly, though racial violence is not shied away from, as at the close of the second stanza:

      • DNC Strategy Denounced as ‘Clueless and Depressing’ Amid GOP Assault on Voting Rights

        “Clueless and depressing” was how one voting rights expert described the Democratic National Committee’s Thursday announcement of a new $25 million plan to invest in get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2022 midterm elections—an effort that critics said the Biden administration appeared to be treating as an alternative to passing voting rights legislation like the For the People Act.

        The “I Will Vote” plan, unveiled by Vice President Kamala Harris at Howard University, conveyed little understanding of the fact that “we stand at an inflection point about whether we can be a multiracial democracy or not,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, who highlighted the Republican Party’s concerted voter suppression efforts across the country.

      • Biden Executive Order Disrupts Hot DC Trend Of Pretending ‘Big Telecom’ Doesn’t Exist

        We’ve been submerged in kind of a bizarre asymmetrical tech policy paradigm over the last few years, in which “big tech” is viewed as the absolute root of all evil requiring all manner of hand-wringing and antitrust/regulatory reform. At the same time, policy leaders have simply forgotten that heavily monopolized internet-adjacent sectors like “big telecom” even exist, giving them cover to gut regulatory oversight, consumer protections, and media consolidation rules. Telecom (AT&T) and media (Rupert Murdoch) giants have successfully exploited legitimate public anger at big tech to encourage this kind of lopsided policy thinking.

      • Biden’s Executive Order On Competition Has… Lots Of Really Good Ideas? Though, Potential Overreaches On Executive Power

        Given how many discussions on antitrust these days are mind bogglingly bad, I was nervous when it was announced that the Biden Administration would be releasing an executive order on competition. Now that it’s out however, I have to admit that I’m very surprised. The executive order is actually full of mostly good ideas. I was… not expecting that. I do think, however, that in some areas it probably (unfortunately) over-stretches executive authority, which should be concerning. But on the whole, there are a bunch of ideas in here to actually deal with anti-competitive problems.

      • Suing to End Autocracy

        As of late June, what steps had our fearless leaders in the Democratic party taken to block the GOP-led voter suppression juggernaut? They were busy over the past year, idiotically, suing in at least three states – Texas, Pennsylvania and Alaska – to deny the Green party ballot access. You read that right. Confronted with an existential threat to democracy itself, our bold Dem leaders pick on some little guy. Will this halt or in any way impede GOP suppression of Dem voters? I don’t think so. At this rate, the GOP will have outlawed anyone voting except Republicans, while Dems dither over whether to appoint a commission on the matter. If Democrats don’t pull themselves together, fast, and get their eye on the ball, we’ll be a one-party autocracy – and giant bronze statues of Trump will adorn every park in the nation. He may even get his face carved on Mr. Rushmore, though I doubt he’ll achieve the Nobel Prize dream-come-true his heart lusts for with such infantile passion. Foreigners have too much sense for that.

        If the shoe was on the other foot, Trump would sue; so would Giuliani, with or without his law license. So it was with some relief that I read on June 25, that the justice department has sued Georgia over its racial disenfranchisement laws. But this rare display of Dem backbone should not get anyone’s hopes up too high: when this case reaches the Supreme “Only Whites Vote” Court, you know how that body will rule. After all, they’re the people who gutted the Voting Rights Act. They may well regard this suit as their hammer to smash the few remaining legal shards protecting minority voters.

      • There’s a Dirty Tricks Campaign Underway in Peru to Deny the Left’s Presidential Victory

        By the evening of June 6, 2021, Peru’s National Jury of Elections should have declared Pedro Castillo the winner of the presidential election. But it did not. A month later, matters remain in stasis as Peru does not yet have an official winner of the election.

        Castillo’s opponent, Fuerza Popular’s Keiko Fujimori—the daughter of the former dictator Alberto Fujimori—has hired a range of Lima’s top lawyers to obstruct any decision by the state’s electoral commission. In addition, her team has cast aspersions against the campaign of Castillo and Perú Libre, accusing them—without evidence—of being financed by disreputable groups, including drug cartels. The Peruvian media, largely controlled by the oligarchy, have gone along with Fujimori’s allegations; their apparent goal is to paint Castillo as an illegitimate winner and to set aside the verdict of the electorate.

      • Giuliani Isn’t Alone in Possible Ties to Foreign Lobbying in Trump White House
      • Chuck Schumer Vows to Push for Creation of Civilian Climate Corps
      • Funding for Public Broadcasters in Pennsylvania Budget? Zero Bucks

        Defenders of local media expressed concern Friday following new reporting highlighting how Pennsylvania’s recently signed state budget fully eliminates funding for state broadcasters.

        The budget decision was “precisely the opposite of what we should be doing,” tweeted Victor Pickard, professor of media molicy and political economy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, where he co-directs the Media, Inequality and Change Center (MIC).

      • It’s Not Too Late to Prosecute Trump-Era Crimes

        America has an accountability problem. In fact, if the Covid-19 disaster, the January 6 Capitol attack, and the Trump years are any indication, the American lexicon has essentially dispensed with the term “accountability.”

      • DHS taps new head for intel office

        In a letter to staff, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced John Cohen will lead the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) in addition to his role as the coordinator for counterterrorism.

      • Biden “Dealt a Better Hand” Than Any President Ever, Stephen Miller Claims
      • Schumer Puts Indirect Pressure on Justice Breyer to Retire in Letter to Dems
      • ‘We’re all you’ve got’ Nikolai Rybakov explains his party’s problem with the Navalny movement and his belief that Yabloko is Russia’s only option for democrats

        In the past few days, the leaders of the Russian democratic opposition party Yabloko have deliberately alienated Alexey Navalny’s followers. The party’s founder and chief authority, Grigory Yavlinsky, recently spoke to the independent television network Dozhd and said plainly, “We aren’t going to pursue Navalny’s politics, and we aren’t inviting his supporters onto our party lists. Those who want to vote for Navalny needn’t vote for us.” Not long before these remarks, Yabloko’s party congress blocked an initiative by its Moscow bureau to nominate Oleg Stepanov (Navalny’s former Moscow office coordinator) in the upcoming State Duma elections. The party also rejected a motion to nominate former political prisoner and Lyubov Sobol volunteer Alexey Minyailo. At the same time, Yabloko endorsed the candidacy of Andrey Pivovarov, the jailed former head of the Open Russia movement. “This is a humanitarian step in support of a political prisoner, but we understand that he won’t be waging any kind of campaign from pretrial detention,” clarified the party’s deputy director, Ivan Bolshakov. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev spoke to Yabloko chairman Nikolai Rybakov about why the party decided to dissociate itself so strongly from Alexey Navalny, whom it considers to be its allies today, and how it expects to do in Russia’s September parliamentary elections.

      • Approval for Navalny’s activities declines after ‘extremism’ ruling

        As of late June 2021, just 14 percent of Russians approve of Alexey Navalny’s activities, down from 20 percent in September 2020. The opposition politician’s disapproval rating also grew from 50 percent to 62 percent over the same period, according to the results of a new survey from the independent Levada Center.

      • Facing New Complaint, South Carolina Magistrate Removed as County’s Chief Judge

        A South Carolina magistrate has been removed as her county’s chief judge following a string of allegations that she abused her position and breached her duty to remain impartial toward the local sheriff’s department, which until recently was run by her husband.

        State Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty ousted Angel Underwood as Chester County’s chief magistrate on July 1.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Section 230 Continues To Not Mean Whatever You Want It To

        In the annals of Section 230 crackpottery, the “publisher or platform” canard reigns supreme. Like the worst (or perhaps best) game of “Broken Telephone” ever, it has morphed into a series of increasingly bizarre theories about a law that is actually fairly short and straightforward.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • ‘The caravan goes on’: Meduza talks to the Tut.by team about launching a new media outlet while their colleagues sit in jail

        In the face of pressure from the authorities, the most prominent independent media outlet in Belarus, Tut.by, ceased operating in mid-May. On top of blocking Tut.by’s website and freezing its company bank account, the Belarusian authorities detained a number of its staff and initiated a felony tax evasion case against the publication’s leadership. Despite the persecution, some of Tut.by’s journalists and managers were able to flee Belarus. Now they’re spread out around the world, living in countries from Ukraine to the United States. On July 8, the Tut.by team launched a new media outlet — Zerkalo.io — to hold their publication’s place until it can resume working in Belarus. To find out more about this new venture, Meduza spoke to Zerkalo.io’s acting editor-in-chief, Anna Kaltygina, and manager Sasha Pushkina. All of the outlet’s other employees preferred not to reveal their identities for security reasons. 

      • Journalists’ association astonished at certain politicians’ statements

        Also, the statements of various politicians that the organisation was consulted about this law is not true. It was never invited to discuss a new text and advice was never taken into account.

      • Rotten at the Core: the US Appeal of the Assange Ruling

        On July 7, the UK High Court of Justice agreed to hear the appeal from the US government on narrow grounds, though no date has been set for those proceedings.  The Crown Prosecution Service, representing the US government, is challenging District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s ruling that Assange not be extradited for health and medical reasons.

        That judgment accepted the defence’s evidence that Assange was a suicide risk, and that the conditions of detention in a US supermax prison facility might well exacerbate it.  There was also a “real risk that … Assange will be subject to restrictive special administrative measures [SAMs].”  The result of such measures would see his mental health “deteriorate to the point where he will commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ described by Dr [Quinton] Deeley.”  She was further “satisfied that Mr Assange’s suicidal impulses will come from his psychiatric diagnoses rather than his own voluntary act.”  Given such evidence “it would be oppressive to extradite [Assange] to the United States of America.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The Duty of Aiding Central Americans

        I had gone to visit the town’s historic cathedral when I saw an old Mayan woman dressed beautifully, kneeling and praying on the steps in front of the church. I instinctively grabbed my camera and was ready to shoot when the woman turned towards me and said, “One dollar!”

        Although initially I refused to pay her for the photo, I realized it was her right to demand compensation for something that would benefit me. Unintentionally, I had wanted to take advantage of this woman, something that the Mayans had been used to for centuries following the Spanish conquest of the country.

      • Montana Senator Thinks The Third Time Is The Charm For His Anti-Flag Burning Amendment

        Far too many government officials think it would be a good idea to lock up people for exercising their First Amendment rights. There’s a lot of stuff certain politicians (including our former president!) and their supporters think should be criminal acts, but keep running head-on into the Constitution and its protection of speech.

      • The Democracy vs. Freedom Dispute

        Most of the men who put together the U.S. Constitution saw the world in class, racial and gender terms. While they wanted a more democratic government than that in England which, for propaganda purposes, they had portrayed as a tyranny, the new American democracy had to be carefully structured. Here is how this translated from theory into practice: the common man’s passions should be held in check by a system that kept the power to make policy in the hands of those white males who had “a material stake in society”—that is, the propertied class. For large segments of the population democracy was to be denied due to both gender and color.

        Only a relative few of these men were thinking about freedom per se. And those who did, certainly did not define it in open-ended libertarian terms. Indeed, in late 18th century America, freedom came in two flavors: (1) first and foremost, the freedom from “unreasonable” taxation. What is unreasonable in this sense, would be argued about incessantly right up into the present. (2) Protection against the abuse of government power. The notion of abuse was directly connected to a) examples of alleged British excesses leading up to the American Revolution and b) Federalist party practices (when in power) like the suppression of critical newspapers and pamphlets. It is to cover a host of these sorts of issues, collectively posited as the protection of individual rights or freedoms, that Jefferson and Madison insisted a bill of rights be added to the Constitution as its first set of amendments. Once this was accomplished (December 1791) America’s democracy and a constitutional list of protected rights/freedoms, became compatible.

      • Make Police Obsolete

        I was one of those instances, tackled and arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, OR. So was my husband, and hundreds of other non-violent protesters. Less than a year later my nephew’s father was killed by police in my California hometown. Jose Flores was killed by the Yuba-Sutter Regional SWAT Team on April 20—the day Derek Chauvin was convicted for killing George Floyd. He did not pose an immediate threat to his family or police officers; he was alone in a house. Yet soon after a fully equipped SWAT team “subdued” him, he was pronounced dead. Now, his unborn child will never know his father and his young son will grow up without his father. Jose is just one the 530 civilians (as of July 7) killed by police officers in the U.S. this year.

        Fast forward to summer 2021: President Biden is calling for the allocation of COVID-19 aid money for more policing and police continue to kill civilians unabated. How did we get here?

      • The Roberts Court Is Like Strom Thurmond in Judicial Robes

        Civil rights activists marched, were jailed, and sometimes killed in their efforts to achieve equal rights and voting rights for all Americans, including pressuring Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Meanwhile, segregationist Klan members marched in hooded robes and lynched black people in an effort to terrorize the civil rights movement. Simultaneously, their Dixiecrat allies in Congress like Strom Thurmond filibustered for weeks to try to prevent the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act from being passed. Fortunately, they ultimately failed.

      • Biden Applauded for Executive Order Targeting ‘Insidious’ Anti-Worker Practices

        Among the 72 initiatives packed into the far-reaching executive order President Joe Biden signed Friday are steps that labor advocates welcomed as important victories for U.S. workers, including a provision calling for the limitation of noncompete clauses that drive down wages by preventing employees from quitting for better-paying jobs.

        “The measures encouraged by this EO represent a wish list progressives and other pro-competition advocates have been promoting for years, and in some cases decades.”—David Segal, Demand Progress Education Fund

      • Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation challenges ‘extremism’ designation in court

        Lawyers for Alexey Navalny’s organizations have appealed the Moscow City Court’s decision to outlaw his Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK), Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation, and national network of campaign offices as “extremist.”

      • Texas Pushes “Worst Voter Suppression Bill” as Activists Demand Urgent Action
      • As Texas Pushes “Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Country,” Activists Call on Biden to Do More

        As President Joe Biden met with civil rights groups this week to discuss how to fight voter suppression efforts, Texas lawmakers followed other battleground states controlled by Republicans with a new push to overhaul the state’s election laws. New restrictions would include a ban on drive-thru voting and 24-hour or late-night voting options, and election officials could be penalized for sending out unsolicited absentee applications. The measures would also impose stringent signature-matching requirements and increase the power of partisan poll observers, which can result in intimidation. “This would make it the worst voter suppression bill in the country,” says Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, who urges Democrats across the United States to take part in walkouts and other maneuvers to impede voter suppression bills. “What we need right now, along with civil disobedience on the streets, is legislative disobedience,” Albright says.

      • The End of the Veiled Prophet

        After 140 years, 2021 might be the end of the Veiled Prophet in public life. For 40 years, St. Louisans have celebrated the Fourth of July downtown at the VP Fair (renamed Fair St. Louis in 1992.) The accompanying Veiled Prophet parade, in which a daughter of a local aristocrat rides in a float alongside a man whose identity is obscured by an elaborate veiled headdress, has been a staple of summer in St. Louis for generations. But after a year of protest against police violence and systemic racism, as well as some massive shifts in local politics, with the election of a new progressive Mayor Tishaura Jones earlier this year as well as the newest Squad member Cori Bush to Congress in 2020, the Veiled Prophet has finally lost its unearned place in public life.

      • Abbott’s Habit
      • Biden to issue executive order to curtail noncompete clauses

        President Biden plans to sign an executive order to crack down on noncompete agreements used by employers to prevent their employees from moving to rival firms, the White House announced Wednesday.

        The president’s order would encourage the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban or limit noncompete agreements.

        “Roughly half of private sector businesses require at least some employees to enter noncompete agreements, affecting over 30 million people. This affects construction workers, hotel workers, many blue-collar jobs, not just high-level executives. He believes that if someone offers you a better job, you should be able to take it. It makes sense,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.

        In an effort to limit the number of jobs in the U.S. that require a license, Biden’s forthcoming order would also encourage the FTC to ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions, which could impede workers’ ability to move and gain more in wages.

        Psaki said that almost 30 percent of jobs in the U.S. require a license.

      • Amazon reportedly doesn’t want employees to know when they’re on performance plans

        This means an employee could be on track to losing their job without ever knowing that their performance is under intense corporate scrutiny, and some who found out they were in the program said they have never gotten feedback on their deficiencies at all.

      • Amazon tells bosses to conceal when employees are on a performance management plan

        Amazon instructs managers not to tell office employees that they are on a formal performance-management plan that puts their job in jeopardy unless the employee explicitly asks, according to guidance from an Amazon intranet page for managers.

        The policy, a copy of which was viewed by The Seattle Times, helps explain why some Amazon employees have described the experience of being on the performance-management plan, called Focus, as baffling and demoralizing. Some managers, too, question why they are asked to conceal that their employees are on a pathway that often leads out of the company.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Cord-Cutting Leads To Gaming Studios Exploring In-Game Ads To Unlock Gaming Perks

        Advertising in the digital age is always something of a tricky subject. On the one hand, we have made the point for years that advertising is content and content is advertising. The point there is that the more useful and entertaining or engaging advertising tends to be, the more the public looks at it as just more content to consume, while really good content also serves as an advertisement of sorts for the content provider. Many folks simply believe that the public hates advertising full-stop, but that’s really not true. Were it true, one of the hallmark experiences of the Super Bowl wouldn’t be watching the ads. Instead, ads have to be engaging, fun, or useful. Unfortunately, the vast majority of advertising is otherwise, leading to the public tending to look for ways to not have to experience advertising generally.

      • Why Do We So Quickly Blame The Internet And Anonymity For Things That Are Not About Anonymous People Online?

        The BBC has an admittedly frightening story about a Glasgow MP who had to deal with death threats from what appears to be a seriously disturbed individual. The story is horrific on many levels, and I don’t doubt it was terrifying for the MP, Carol Monaghan. But what I’m confused about is why her response is to blame anonymity and social media, when it appears that (1) the individual threatening her is known, and (2) much of the harassment did not occur on social media. But, most of the article still focuses on how she’s now demanding social media companies do more to stop anonymous harassment.

      • Biden Told to Move on FCC Nomination If He Wants Net Neutrality Restored

        President Joe Biden on Friday was urged to appoint a third Democratic commissioner to the empty seat on the Federal Communications Commission after the president signed an executive order encouraging the panel to reinstate net neutrality rules.

        Fight for the Future was among the advocacy groups making the demand and said Biden “knows full well that none of this can happen” until he rounds out the commission.

      • We Can’t Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without the Internet

        The Internet is a critical enabler for sustainable development. It unlocks human capabilities and provides the platform upon which an emerging digital economy can thrive. As the Internet and digital technologies become more essential, it also becomes more urgent to connect the people who are being left behind. The SDGs take that into account, having called for universal and affordable access in least developed countries by 2020—a goal that we are still far from reaching. If we don’t take action now, we face the risk of the current digital divide deepening several other divides, such as economic and gender inequalities.

      • [Mozilla] Net neutrality: reacting on the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

        In March 2021, we sent a joint letter to the FCC asking for the Commission to reinstate net neutrality as soon as it is in working order. Mozilla has been one of the leading voices in the fight for net neutrality for almost a decade, together with other advocacy groups. Mozilla has defended user access to the internet, in the US and around the world. Our work to preserve net neutrality has been a critical part of that effort, including our lawsuit against the FCC to keep these protections in place for users in the US.

    • Monopolies

      • Joe Biden Just Threw Down the Anti-Monopoly Gauntlet—but One Big Question Remains

        Joe Biden just threw a big punch at corporate monopolies, one of the biggest Executive Branch punches of any president in the last 40 years. In a massive executive order issued on Friday afternoon, he did three things: forcefully rejected the pro-monopoly world view of the last 50 years, issued 72 directives to over a dozen executive agencies, and created a council to ride herd on agencies to make sure they do their job in rulemaking to achieve this vision.

      • Patents

        • Munich court challenges Düsseldorf for top spot as German patent cases decline

          Seven regional courts in Germany conduct hearings on intellectual property rights, which altogether recorded a total of 714 newly-filed lawsuits in 2020. This is around 9% fewer than in the previous year, where parties filed 789 patent suits. While the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly played a role, it would be wrong to blame the decline in patent cases solely on the pandemic. The combined case numbers of the three major patent courts have been falling for years.

          However, the Munich Regional Court again saw its caseload multiply. Recently, the court surprised the public by opening a third chamber for technical property rights. These tend to include utility models, plant variety protection and employee invention rights.

          According to a JUVE Patent survey of European patent courts, Düsseldorf, Munich and Mannheim continue to dominate the patent cases field in Germany.

        • The ITC In 2020: Anything But Typical [Ed: Embargo instead of competition]

          With the American republic having just had its 245th birthday, let’s take a look at an agency that’s charged with regulating trade with foreign countries, encouraging American industries, and protecting American labor.

          I’ve previously criticized the International Trade Commission (ITC) for having gone from being a trade court protecting U.S. domestic industry to being a specialist patent court that protects patent owners, regardless of whether they’re American and regardless of whether the defendants are American. And, as I found when reviewing ITC cases, the facts show that while the “typical ITC case” is described as having “a domestic complainant [plaintiff] and a foreign respondent [defendant],” the reality is quite different.

        • Huawei signs 4G patent license agreement with Volkswagen supplier, its largest automotive licensing deal thus far [Ed: Darn thickets and evergreening with patents, just like with MP3, ensuring no communication technology is ever in the Commons]

          Huawei, which owns one of the world’s leading cellular standard-essential patent (SEP) portfolios, just put out a press release announcing “a license agreement with a supplier of Volkswagen Group.” The announce goes on to say that it’s a 4G deal (suggesting to me that they’re still going to have to negotiate 5G terms) and “covers Volkswagen vehicles equipped with wireless connectivity.” According to Huawei, it marks the Chinese company’s “largest licensing deal in the automotive industry.” Huawei apparently has other license agreements in the automotive industry in place as well, and “expects more than 30 million vehicles to be licensed under its patents based on existing license agreements.” (emphasis added)

          Huawei itself is an automotive supplier, too. I’ve seen them as an intervenor in the Nokia v. Daimler cases, and a license agreement between Huawei and Sharp effectively covered about 86% of Daimler’s car sales.

          I’d like to know the name of that unnamed Volkswagen supplier, and whether it’s a tier 1 license deal (covering telematics control units (TCUs)) or covers components higher up in the supply chain.

          Whether it’s a tier 1, 2 or 3 license, the announcement suggests that the licensee can’t sell those components to other car makers under this particular license agreement, which appears to be specific to Volkswagen Group’s 12 brands: Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania, and MAN.

        • BREAKING NEWS: German Constitutional Court rejects second challenge to UPC

          In a press release published today, the German Constitutional Court announced that it rejected the latest constitutional challenge against the 18 December 2020 ratification act for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) [press release here, decision here].

          As readers will recall, this is not the first time the ratification of the UPC Agreement by the German government gave rise to constitutional challenges. In February of last year, the German Constitutional Court upheld a challenge against the initially proposed ratification act [here, Katposts here and here]. But the Contitutional Court’s 2020 decision was based on more or less procedural concerns, which were quicly remedied by the German legislator. A new act, this time with proper quorum, was passed by the German Bundestag in November 2020.

        • As Rich Nations Refuse to Share Vaccines, Africa Suffers ‘Most Dire Pandemic Week’

          Underscoring the desperate need to dramatically increase equitable access to coronavirus vaccines on a global scale, Africa just saw its worst pandemic week yet and conditions across the continent are only expected to get worse in the weeks ahead.

          “The worst is yet to come as the fast-moving third wave continues to gain speed and new ground.”—Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO

        • Software Patents

          • AutoBrilliance patent held unpatentable

            On July 6, 2021, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents, LLC v. Autobrilliance, LLC, holding all challenged claims (claims 1, 2, and 4-7) of U.S. Patent 6,792,351 unpatentable. The ‘351 patent, directed to multi-vehicle communication, had been asserted in district court litigation against Toyota.

      • Copyrights

        • Barry Diller Headed 2 Hollywood Studios. He Now Says The Movie Business Is Dead

          Diller acknowledged the recent success of streaming services and how indispensable they became during the pandemic, but he was less complimentary of their expensive efforts to create more original content.

          “These streaming services have been making something that they call ‘movies,’ ” he said. “They ain’t movies. They are some weird algorithmic process that has created things that last 100 minutes or so.”

          For Diller, this is about seismic change and nostalgia, but it is also about semantics. The definition of “movie,” he said, “is in such transition that it doesn’t mean anything right now.”

        • Slow and Steady Wins the Race? – Nigeria’s Copyright Amendment Bill is finally before the National Assembly

          Three years after Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council considered and approved the Copyright (Repeal) Bill, it has now been transmitted to the National Assembly for enactment into law.

          Readers following the copyright reform process in Nigeria would recall that following public comments in February 2015, a team of national experts engaged through the Nigerian Copyright Commission revised the Draft Copyright Bill before it was presented to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval.

        • Media Giants Request Dynamic Order to Block Pirated NHL Streams in Canada

          Several of the largest Canadian media companies, including Bell and Rogers, are asking the Federal Court for a new and broader piracy blocking order. To prevent multi-million dollar losses, the media giants want Internet providers to dynamically block IP-addresses that provide access to pirated NHL streams.

        • Police Arrest Two More For Uploading 10 Minute Movie Edits to YouTube

          Last month, police in Japan arrested three people for uploading so-called “fast movies” to YouTube. These edits reveal entire plotlines of major movies in just a few minutes while breaching copyright law, movie companies claim. Police have now made two more arrests of people alleged to have provided narration for the edits.

        • Sony Studio Acquisition Of Nixxes May Portend Company Opening Up The PlayStation’s Walled Garden To PC Gaming

          Late last year, we discussed Sony’s corporate report on where its income sources were detailed out and laid bare the fact that the biggest revenue generator for the company was in gaming. We noted at the time that what made all of this really interesting is that this revenue generation occurred under Sony’s famous walled-garden policies, where the company went to great lengths to silo its own games into the PlayStation console while also trying to gobble up exclusives for the PlayStation. Coinciding with all of this, though, were some cracks starting to form in that policy. Sony finally opened up games on the PlayStation to cross-platform online play, allowed the PlayStation Now service to run on PCs, and even moved some of its first-party titles onto other platforms, such as having MLB: The Show appearing on the Xbox for the first time and Horizon: Zero Dawn getting a belated PC release.

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