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Links 31/7/2021: KDE Progress and Activision Catastrophe

Posted in News Roundup at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Making Our Demands Both Practical and Visionary

      The post was an unexpected sensation, and it would become a reference point in debates for years to come. “I wrote it so quickly,” Kaba reflects. “I was asked some questions by several young organizers who identify as abolitionists who were struggling mightily when all these proposals around body cameras and stuff were coming out. These organizers wanted to support something, but didn’t know what and didn’t think they knew how to figure that out on their own. I wrote that piece very fast and put it out on my blog. It went viral—somebody emailed me from London to say that they’re using it there. I was like, my God, that’s really amazing and great for something to be helpful to a lot of people.”

    • The Global Right Wing’s Bizarre Obsession With Pedophilia

      But now he may have gone too far with his attack on an unlikely (and universally unliked) group of people.


    • The Air-Conditioning Nightmare: an Interview With Eric Dean Wilson

      But Wilson goes beyond the technical explanation of how Freon (and other gases that have replaced it) that still threaten our environment. Instead, he shows how our faith in the ability to cool the world without environmental repercussions is still with us. In an interview, Wilson unveils how our marketplace-driven economy creates a consumer culture where air conditioning has become a necessity underlying that faith.

      “After Cooling” begins with an unusual insight — the public initially resisted the idea of cooling air for personal comfort. It was too strange to attract buyers.

    • The Indian Nation and Its Borders

      This is the story of modern India, a nation created when Britain finally gave up its colonial hold. Its birth was celebrated as a great victory for freedom and independence. Its creation was also a genocide. Muslims were forced to flee their homes and villages and were massacred along their way to the other newly formed nation of Pakistan. Retribution followed. As far as the Indian politicians were concerned, the definition and defense of their newly made borders would define their national independence. In Suchitra Vijayan’s new book Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India, it becomes clear that those borders would provide an excuse to kill and steal at will in the name of Indian nationhood.

      In what can best be described as a uniquely truthful take on the modern nation-state, Midnight’s Borders describes the ongoing skirmishes, police actions and wars that have defined the making of the Indian nation. In doing so, the author illuminates the nature of border policies around the globe and the fragility of the nation-state concept. In a text whose title reference’s Salman Rushdie’s fictional masterpiece Midnight’s Children and took seven years to complete, Vijayan describes the life and the lives of individuals, families and hamlets affected by the borders imposed on them from the outside. These descriptions are written in inviting prose while simultaneously describing the destruction of lives and cultures, families and relationships. It is these stories that make this a true people’s history.

    • Hinterlands: Rural Detroits

      One of those turns leads to Old Trinity road, a narrow, worn-down, two- lane street that goes on for several miles before dead-ending near the town of Trinity. Driving along Old Trinity road, I cruise through sparsely populated, residential areas, mostly mobile homes and wooden houses that look like large shacks. The air is heavy with humidity and the smell of vegetation broiling in the mid-day sun. What is striking is the amount of decay. It seems every third house is abandoned, some buckled in.

      It reminds me of a rural Detroit. Some structures have been burnt, but most still stand, tottering like street corner drunks in knee-high weeds. Backwoods near the train tracks, lays two piles of rubble, obscured by trees and dancing shadows, the remains of older houses hastily dumped without proper burial. Were they torn down and dropped off from elsewhere? Abandoned, did they implode under their own weight in the backwoods where they formerly sat? Were they ripped apart by tornadoes? Each reason is equally plausible and the true reason obscured.

    • Roaming Charges: All That Twitters is Sold

      + The torment of Iraq has gone through different phases, each political generation leaving its own ruinous mark: coups, industrial sabotage, infiltration, assassination, instigation of a calamitous war against Iran, insurrections, embargoes, provoking the invasion of Kuwait, air strikes, bombings, invasion, arming and abandoning of Kurdish rebels, financing and arming of religious militants, blockades, a savage shadow war of economic sanctions, radiological warfare from the use of Depleted Uranium munitions, open air burning of chemical weapons, denial of medical supplies to treat cancer patients, destruction of dams, power plants and sewage treatment facilities, cruise missile strikes, deployment of hunter-killer squads, the framing of Iraq for stockpiling WMDs it didn’t possession, shock-and-awe bombing of civilian targets, invasion, occupation, surge and resurge, home invasions, de-Baathification, torture, murderous raids by private military contractors, drone strikes…

      + It is worth noting that Iraq was bombed once every three days from the end of the Gulf War to the beginning of the Iraq War. Obama “pulled out” and then returned with a vengeance. Trump, who postured as war critic, orchestrated the saturation bombing of Mosul, a blitz that killed far more civilians than ISIS insurgents.

    • Opinion | The Soldiers Who Resisted the First Gulf War Deserve Recognition

      International Conscientious Objectors’ Day is observed annually on May 15. Thirty years ago this month, at the conclusion of the first Gulf War, Private First Class Sam Lwin and 24 other Marines were charged with desertion. They were among tens of thousands across the U.S. armed forces who applied for conscientious objector, or CO, status or otherwise resisted participation in a war that they came to realize was wrong. Lwin, a Burmese-American student and Marine reservist of Fox Company, led seven others in his unit to resist the U.S. Marine Corps, ultimately joining a mass exodus of the military in which soldiers deserted at higher percentages than even in the Vietnam War. The story of why these soldiers resisted, how and with whose help is lesser known but deserves greater recognition.

    • ‘Flawed from a human rights perspective’: Lithuania is seeing a massive increase in illegal crossings from Belarus. What’s fueling this crisis? And what’s Lukashenko getting out of it?

      Since the spring, hundreds of people from the Middle East and Africa have been entering Lithuania — all of them through Belarus. In fact, illegal border crossings have increased by a factor of 39 since last year. The Lithuanian government has toughened its residency laws, started constructing a new border fence, and accused Belarus of encouraging illegal migration; meanwhile, Alexander Lukashenko has tried to pin the blame on Western sanctions. Several media outlets — including the Lithuanian news sites 15min and LRT, as well as the Belarusian outlets Reform.by and Mediazona Belarus — have published in-depth reporting on the crisis, revealing how migrants get to Lithuania, who’s helping them, and how much they pay for it. Meduza summarizes the findings of these investigations here.

    • Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

      The case of an American human rights attorney who won a multibillion-dollar judgment against one of the world’s largest oil companies and has spent the past two years on house arrest led a pair of Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday to raise questions and concerns about the use of private prosecutors in the federal court system.

      “The case of environmental lawyer Steven Donziger has garnered significant attention and shined a spotlight on private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges.”—Sens. Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse

    • The Jobs Bill Must Protect Dreamers

      DACA has been a GOP target since 2012, when President Obama created it to protect undocumented young people who’ve spent their whole lives here. It’s faced numerous GOP legal challenges and a suspension of the program under Trump.

      In spite of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that upheld DACA, a new Texas federal court ruling by anti-immigrant judgeAndrew Hanen deemed the program “illegal,” leaving hundreds of thousands of young immigrants in limbo once more.

    • What it Takes
    • Going Dark

      This blog will be going dark for a few months. The Queen kindly paid for my dinners for over twenty years while I was a British diplomat and Ambassador, and now she is going to be paying for my dinners again. That is very kind, I thought she had forgotten me.

    • Craig Murray’s jailing is the national security state’s latest assault on independent journalism
    • Welcome to Washington Square Park, Capital of Woke Bohemia

      “The rotting core of the Big Apple.” That’s how the British Daily Mail recently described the scene in New York’s iconic Washington Square Park. To the outraged readers of the Mail and our own New York Post, the park has become “a no-go zone for law-abiding locals.” Well, I’m a local, and I see something very different.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Kinder, Gentler GMOs?

        For readers who might not wade through the 7,000-word puff piece by Jennifer Kahn, the gist was provided in bold print on the magazine cover, alongside a cross-section of a tomato with dark purple flesh: “Overblown fears have turned the public against genetically modified food. But the potential benefits have never been greater.”

        The article was preceded in the print edition by a two-page spread restating the title in 2-inch high capital letters — “LEARNING TO LOVE G.M.O.S”— framing a big color photo of a papaya in cross-section. Turn the page and there’s a big color photo of two sugar beets, each with a caption. One says, “Produces more pounds of sugar per acre.” The other says, “Holds up to glyphosate, a common pesticide.” Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is sold as an herbicide, not a pesticide. Maybe some Times editor remembered reading that Roundup had decimated the Monarch butterfly population. It had, but that was a consequence of Roundup decimating the milkweed that sustained the lovely orange insects.

      • On Medicare’s 56th Birthday, Activists Deliver 125,000+ Petitions Urging Congress to Expand the Program

        Progressive healthcare activists marked Medicare’s 56th anniversary Friday by delivering more than 125,000 petitions urging Congress to lower the popular program’s eligibility age and expand its coverage to include vision, hearing, and dental services—upgrades that proponents say are long overdue to help protect seniors from soaring out-of-pocket costs.

        “Now, as a doctor I can tell you: Your eyes, your ears, and your teeth are connected to your body,” Dr. Sanjeev Sriram, an adviser to the advocacy group Social Security Works, said during a rally on Capitol Hill. “I did not have to go to medical school to tell y’all this, but apparently I do have to tell Congress this.”

      • War on cancer progress report, belated 2021 edition

        If you’ve perused the alternative medicine (i.e., quack) cancer literature as long as I have, you’ll recall seeing certain key narratives recurring. One such narrative, of course, is that “conventional” cancer treatments (often characterized as “cut, burn, poison”) do more harm than good. Another such narrative is that you can almost completely prevent cancer if only you eat the right foods, use the right supplements, and live the right lifestyle. There are others, of course, often based on a germ of truth exaggerated and weaponized to spread fear and suspicion of science-based cancer treatments. For example, it is true that “conventional” treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are associated with unpleasant side effects and occasionally life-threatening risks, and diet and lifestyle can reduce your risk of cancer, but not by nearly as much as these narratives claim. (Contrary to one favorite narrative, vegans, for instance, can still get cancer.)

      • There’s No ‘Vaccine Mandate’—but That Doesn’t Stop WaPo Asking People How They Feel About It

        The Washington Post (7/29/21) let the opposition rather than the facts frame its latest story on the new federal directive on testing, masks and vaccination. The headline read:

      • Biden Promotes $100 Incentives to Encourage Unvaccinated to Get Their Shots
      • Both the Delta Variant and Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal to Our Society
      • ‘A Very Serious Threat’: CDC Document Warns Delta Variant Is as Contagious as Chickenpox

        An internal slide presentation assembled by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the Delta variant of the coronavirus—now the dominant strain in the U.S. and across much of the world—is as transmissible as chickenpox, could lead to more extreme illness than earlier mutations, and can likely be spread by people who are fully vaccinated.

        First obtained by the Washington Post on Thursday, the document (pdf) states that the “Delta variant may cause more severe disease thanAlpha or ancestral strains,” citing data on hospitalizations and deaths in Canada, Scotland, and Singapore. While noting that people who are fully inoculated against Covid-19 can still catch and spread the Delta variant, the document stresses that vaccines are extremely effective in preventing severe illness and death.

      • The Delta Variant Is Contagious as Hell—and People Are Selfish

        On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control updated mask guidelines—again. The CDC suggested that vaccinated Americans should wear masks while indoors—again—in areas of “substantial or high transmission.” Predictably, the new guidance led to a surge of Republican politicians vowing to do everything they can to keep the virus going and kill their own supporters—again.

      • Surveillance Data Shows White-Tailed Deer Exposed to SARS-CoV-2

        The finding that wild white-tailed deer have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 is not unexpected given that white-tailed deer are susceptible to the virus, are abundant in the United States, often come into close contact with people, and that, more than 114 million Americans are estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

        APHIS is working closely with federal and state partners, including the Department of the Interior, the CDC, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, to determine next steps. Results from this surveillance effort are currently being prepared for publication in a peer-review journal.

      • Think the delta variant is scary? Anti-vaccination Trumpers are truly terrifying

        The delta variant is just a mindless virus. The real problem is our fellow human beings who, as political science professor Scott Lemieux wrote recently, confuse “free riding with freedom — letting people do what they want with no consequences even when the consequences are borne by other people as well.” The problem, as I’ve written about more times than I care to think about, is political. Put bluntly, a huge percentage of Donald Trump’s America is refusing to get inoculated, to stick it to the liberals and undermine Biden’s presidency.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Mastodon now has an official iPhone app

          Decentralized social network Mastodon now has an official iPhone app. The nonprofit behind Mastodon launched the app on iOS today, supplementing an existing web version and several third-party apps for iOS, Android, and other platforms. The app is free and offers a similar feature set to Mastodon’s core service, although it doesn’t include Mastodon’s broad local and federated timelines.

        • Older Kindles may lose internet connection, Amazon warns

          First- and second-generation Kindles did not come with wi-fi functions included, using mobile internet only.

          But the slower technology used at the time – 2G and 3G internet – is being discontinued in some places, particularly the United States.

        • SolarWinds [crackers] accessed over two dozen federal prosecutors’ offices: DOJ

          The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday that the [crackers] behind the major SolarWinds attack compromised employee accounts in more than two dozen federal prosecutors’ offices.

          The DOJ said in an update that the [crackers] are believed to have compromised the accounts from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. The data includes “all sent, received, and stored emails and attachments found within those accounts during that time.”

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Top German Court Says Facebook Must Inform Users About Deleting Their Posts Or Suspending Their Account, Explain Why, And Allow Them To Respond

              We’ve just written about Germany’s constitutional court grappling with the issue of whether government users of zero-days for surveillance have a responsibility to report the flaws they use to the relevant developers. Another senior court in the country has been pondering an even thornier question that is occupying judges and lawmakers around the world: how should social media police so-called “hate speech” on their services in a way that respects fundamental rights on all sides?

            • Digital Rights Groups Hail Record €746 Million Amazon Data Privacy Fine

              Digital rights advocates on Friday applauded a €746 million fine levied against Amazon by a Luxembourg regulator for the tech giant’s violation of European Union data privacy laws.

              The record penalty—which converts to about U.S. $886 million—was imposed on July 16 by CNPD, Luxembourg’s data protection agency, and disclosed in an Amazon regulatory filing (pdf) on Friday, according to Bloomberg.

            • Amazon Fined 746 Million Euros Following Our Collective Legal Action

              On July 16 2021, the Luxembourg Data Protection Agency finally rendered its opinion on the collective legal action we and 10 000 more people took in May 2018 against Amazon. This decision breaks a three-year silence which had started to make us expect the worst.

            • Parents Are Asking TikTok For Access To The Videos Their Kids Are Watching

              The petition states that TikTok uses a secretive algorithm to recommend content to users, making it difficult for parents to keep tabs on what their kids engage with on TikTok. They can be exposed to bullying, sexual exploitation, pro-eating disorder videos and creators encouraging violence, self-harm or dangerous challenges, says the advocacy group.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | Can the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6 Actually Help to Defend Democracy?

        The House Select Committee to Investigate January 6 is off to a good start. 

      • Afghanistan, Failure and Second Thoughts

        The spokesman was, however, willing to make general remarks about a belated return.  When, he could not be sure, but Canberra’s diplomatic arrangements in Afghanistan “were always expected to be temporary, with the intention of resuming a permanent presence once circumstances permit.”  Australia continued “to engage closely with partners, including the Afghanistan government and coalition member countries.”  Rather embarrassing remarks, given the sudden closure of the embassy on June 18.

        The Australian response, confused and stumbling, is much like that of their counterparts in Washington.  While the Biden administration speeds up the departure of troops, the cord to Kabul remains uncut though distinctly worn.  In April, the US House Services Committee was told by General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of US Central Command, that the Pentagon was “further planning now for continued counterterrorism operations from within the region.”

      • January 6 Uprising Was an Attempted Fascist Coup d’Etat

        To describe the uprising as anything but a coup is a serious mistake. It was a four-hour attack in which the Capitol of the United States was overrun by hundreds of right-wing militias. Thousands were outside watching and waiting. The insurrectionists took control of the House and Senate, and in so doing, the United States government. Members of Congress were evacuated (rescued) by capitol police. Offices and conference rooms were breached and sacked; they were tracking down members of Congress. One of their goals was to assassinate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. Liberals and democrats were no doubt prime targets, especially young Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And their task once breaching the Capitol was to place their “heads on pikes.”

        After several hours, Capitol Police and the DC National Guard cleared the Capitol and restored order.

      • Opinion | SOS: A Plea for Freedom From Misleading Media Narratives on Cuba

        In the wake of this month’s protests in Cuba over food and medicine shortages and other complaints, the New York-based magazine Travel + Leisure ran an item titled “4 Ways to Help the People of Cuba Right Now.”

      • Let Cuba Live: the Movement Standing Up to Biden’s Maximum Pressure

        Not a priority, closely engaged, top priority: matters have moved rapidly from March 9 to July 22. What moved the Biden-Harris administration to focus so quickly on Cuba? On the morning of July 11, some people in Cuba—notably in the town of San Antonio de los Baños—took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the social and economic problems created by the U.S.-imposed blockade and by the global pandemic. The reaction to these events in Havana and in Washington, D.C., is instructive: Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel heard the news of the protests, got into a car, and drove the 40 miles to San Antonio de los Baños, where he met with the people; while in Washington, Biden used the protest to call for the overthrow of the Cuban government. U.S. government-funded nongovernmental organizations and Cuban American groups hastened to take advantage of the frenzy, excited by the possibility of regime change in Cuba.

        On the evening of July 11, tens of thousands of Cubans rallied across Cuba to defend their revolutionary process. Since that Sunday evening, Cuba has been calm.

      • The US Has No Business Lecturing Cuba About “Free and Fair” Elections

        Inevitably, the protests have also served as a convenient tool for the US government and its allies in the Cuban-American exile community to reinvigorate their decades-long campaign to impose “regime change” on the beleaguered Caribbean island nation. Needless to say, at the forefront of calls for an even more aggressive US stance toward Cuba have been hardline representatives of this community. The mayor of Miami, the Babylon of militant anti-Castro agitation, has even called for direct US military intervention to “liberate” the island. In an interview with Fox News, Suarez even refused to rule out US airstrikes against Cuba, stating that this “has to be explored and cannot be just simply discarded as an option that is not on the table.” As would be expected, amongst the justifications for such aggressive measures is the demand for “free and fair elections,” which features prominently in the pronouncements of these figures. An open letter from Marco Rubio, the Florida exile hardliner Senator, and co-signed by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and 143 other members of congress, for example, states: “Freedom-loving nations must make clear our full and unwavering support for Cuba’s pro-democracy movement, and for free and fair elections, with international supervision.”

        To the politically naïve, this might seem like a perfectly reasonable sentiment. After all, according to the prevailing political mentality within Western nations, the holding of “free and fair elections” is perhaps the most basic prerequisite that a country must meet in order to be accepted into the family of “freedom-loving nations.” The implicit corollary, of course, is that the US is perfectly entitled, if not duty-bound, to punish those countries that fail to meet this most fundamental of requirements. The reality, however, is that the US doesn’t have a shred of credibility when it comes to lecturing others about “free and fair elections,” let alone imposing punitive measures on those who fail to hold them. Because an investigation into the US’s behavior on the global stage reveals its stunning hypocrisy when it comes to Cuba and other US adversaries. And this hypocrisy is no accident, but rather plays an important part in providing a false veneer of credibility to the US’s self-serving foreign policy goals.

      • Australia: A Laboratory of Empire with Lowkey & Aamer Rahman
      • How Ben & Jerry’s Exposed Israel’s anti-BDS Strategy

        By responding to the Palestinian call for boycotting apartheid Israel, the ice cream giant has delivered a blow to Israel’s attempts at criminalizing and, ultimately, ending the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

        What differentiates Ben & Jerry’s decision to abandon the ever-growing market of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank from previous decisions by other international corporations is the fact that the ice cream company has made it clear that its move was morally motivated. Indeed, Ben & Jerry’s did not attempt to mask or delude their decision in any way. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a statement by the Vermont, US-based company read on July 19.

      • Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of Apparent War Crimes in Gaza Assault
      • What Philadelphia Reveals About America’s Homicide Surge

        Nakisha Billa’s son was still a baby when she decided to make their first flight to safety. It was early in 2000 and she and Domonic were living in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington, which had long suffered some of the highest crime rates in the city. Billa was 22, proud to be living in her own place after having been raised in West Philadelphia mostly by her grandparents, and flush with the novelty of motherhood. “When I found out I was carrying Dom, it was the best thing that had ever happened to me,” she said. She liked to kiss his feet, and he liked it, too, so much so that he would stick them out invitingly with a big smile on his face.

      • We Need to Scale Back America’s War Machine

        As a ROTC cadet and an Air Force officer, I was a tiny part of America’s vast Department of Defense (DoD) for 24 years until I retired and returned to civilian life as a history professor. My time in the military ran from the election of Ronald Reagan to the reign of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It was defined by the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s brief unipolar moment of dominance and the beginning of its end, as Washington embroiled itself in needless, disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. Throughout those years of service, I rarely thought about a question that seems ever more critical to me today: What would a real system of American national defense look like?

      • Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of Apparent War Crimes in Gaza Assault; Urges ICC Probe

        Human Rights Watch is calling on the International Criminal Court to open a probe into apparent Israeli war crimes committed during its recent 11-day assault on Gaza that killed 260 Palestinians, including 66 children. We discuss a major report HRW released this week that closely examines three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinians civilians in May. U.S.-made weapons were used in at least two of the attacks investigated. Human Rights Watch concluded Israel had committed apparent war crimes. “You had people’s entire lives — their homes, their businesses, their wives, their children, their husbands — gone in a flash,” says Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, who helped lead the investigation. “The international community focuses on Gaza maybe when there are armed hostilities. But two months later these families continue to deal with the aftermath of the devastation wrought upon their lives.”

      • Preventing an American Pinochet

        As I watch, I see a chilling parallel to the rise of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

        Steve Stern’s book Remembering Pinochet’s Chile opens with a couple greeting the 1973 military coup that launched Pinochet’s dictatorship by toasting the fighter jets with champagne. Decades later, they still remember Pinochet fondly.

      • Is the US Heading for the Exit?

        And then, of course, came the launching of the Global War on Terror, which soon would be normalized as the plain-old, uncapitalized “war on terror.” Yes, that very war — even if nobody’s called it that for years — began on September 11, 2001. At a Pentagon partially in ruins, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, already aware that the destruction around him was probably Osama bin Laden’s responsibility, orderedhis aides to begin planning for a retaliatory strike against… Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Rumsfeld’s exact words (an aide wrote them down) were: “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

        Things related and not. Sit with that phrase for a moment. In their own strange way, those four words, uttered in the initial hours after the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, still seem to capture the twenty-first-century American experience.

      • Let’s Reinvent the U.S. Military for Real National Defense

        During the Cold War, I took it for granted that this country needed a sprawling network of military bases, hundreds of them globally.  Back then, of course, the stated U.S. mission was to “contain” the communist pathogen.  To accomplish that mission, it seemed all too logical to me then for our military to emphasize its worldwide presence.  Yes, I knew that the Soviet threat was much exaggerated. Threat inflation has always been a feature of the DoD and at the time I’d read books like Andrew Cockburn’s The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine. Still, the challenge was there and, as the leader of the “free world,” it seemed obvious to me that the U.S. had to meet it.

        And then the Soviet Union collapsed — and nothing changed in the U.S. military’s global posture.

      • Islamic Jihadists Kill Nearly 3,500 Nigerian Christians, Attack 300 Churches in 200 Days

        Members of the Islamic jihadist group Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are named throughout the report. These terror groups are relentless in their efforts to gain control over the country through the kidnapping and killing of innocent victims.

        Hundreds of children from Nigerian schools have also been targeted this year, kidnapped by armed insurgents threatening to harm their captives unless a ransom is paid.

      • It’s the religion, stupid

        The conflict with the Palestinians cannot be resolved so long as their leaders are driven by a religious rather than a political agenda. You cannot reach compromises with people who believe that Allah has given them marching orders to reconstitute the Islamic empire and, ideally, expand it throughout the world. For them, Israel is a cancer in the Islamic body that must be excised. Israel can dismantle every settlement, withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines and declare Zionism dead, and it would not satisfy them.

      • Watchdog Alarmed at ‘Mounting Taliban Revenge Killings’

        A global human rights monitor on Friday accused the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan of detaining and executing suspected government officials as well as security forces, and in some cases their relatives.

        Human Rights Watch lamented in a statement that the Taliban’s retaliatory actions ran counter to their pledges that no harm would be inflicted on people who worked for the Afghan government or assisted the United States and NATO troops.

      • Turkey serving as vessel for radical Islamists – U.N. report

        Uyghur, Turkmen and central Asian migrants living in Turkey serve as a significant pool for membership in radical Islamist terrorist organisations, according to a report presented to the United Nations Security Council, Voice of America Turkish reported on Saturday.

        Members of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria’s northern Idlib province see Turkey as an important gateway, according to the 22-page U.N. report detailing global terror activities in the first six-months of 2021.

      • Afghan comedian Khasha Jawan assaulted, killed by Taliban: Report

        Ariana news said Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh in a Facebook post wrote that the comedian was executed by the Taliban in a “kangaroo court.”

    • Environment

      • Exxon-Influenced Senators Carved Climate Out of Infrastructure Almost Entirely
      • Slamming China Won’t Save Fossil Capitalism From Itself

        The planet is burning and the arsonists are in charge, as one environmentalist once observed. So in late June and early July, with extreme heat afflicting a quarter of the globe, it became clear that the time had come for the Biden government, and indeed every government, to end the burning of oil, gas and coal. Personally, I favor nationalizing the fossil fuel industry, that is, the wealth of the arsonists. Howsoever we phase it out, this termination needs to happen NOW. Or we as a species will likely not survive. What will come after homo sapiens? No doubt beings adapted to extreme heat, unlike us, with our lineage naturally selected during an ice age.

        At the very least, it’s time to slash fossil fuel subsidies. As for the aforementioned nationalizing of oil, gas and coal corporations in order to eliminate their product, desirable as this may be, history, unluckily, is against it. In the past, the U.S. has launched wars and invaded countries that threatened to nationalize fossil fuel companies. Think Iran in 1953 and the pandemonium caused by the western overthrow of that country’s legally elected president: the shah, the torturers in Savak, the hostage crisis, the decades-long American attempt to get even for it, the disastrous election of Reagan and all the evils of hyper-capitalism that flowed from that. Just the hint of such a nationalization is a casus belli for U.S. elites. And it’s likely they knowingly and willfully refuse to put two and two together regarding control of fossil fuel companies and our collapsing climate. Even if they did, U.S. politicos, plutocrats and corporate titans would probably rather die, felled by extreme weather, than turn oil companies over to the state. And at the rate we’re going, they will get their wish.

      • Opinion | ALEC’s Annual Meeting Queues up Fights Over Federal Powers, Fossil Fuels, Big Tech, Labor Rights, and the GOP’s Culture Wars
      • Science Museum Just Killed Its ‘Own Reputation,’ Says Greta Thunberg After Docs Reveal Gag Clause With Shell

        The London Science Museum is facing fresh criticism from climate campaigners following revelations that the institution signed a “gagging clause” with Shell banning it from criticizing the oil giant as part of an exhibition sponsorship agreement.

        “The ‘Science’ Museum just killed irony (and their own reputation),” Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg tweeted Thursday.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Opinion | A Missed Opportunity: Rights of Nature Removed From New Draft of Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

          On July 12, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat released the first draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, deleting what is arguably the most important enabling condition: “to consider, where appropriate, the rights of nature,” replacing this language with “employing rights-based approaches.” This framework would have been the first international treaty to recognize Nature’s rights. 

        • Species Spotlight: Will the Panamanian Golden Frog Survive?
        • Glimmers of Hope for Wildlife in Colorado

          The biggest sign of change—and a real reason for wildlife enthusiasts to be excited—is of course the passing of Proposition 114 in November of 2020. The ballot measure directs Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to bring the gray wolf back to Colorado, where it has been largely absent since the 1940s. How and where exactly reintroduction will happen is still up for much input and debate. And we can be sure that anti-wildlife interests will be fervent in advocating that wolves be hunted, trapped, lethally “managed,” and otherwise persecuted. Guardians will be there howling for wolves to be safe, protected, and bountiful enough to work their ecosystem magic across the state.

          Another win for wildlife in Colorado that may have flown under the public radar, but that is critical for conservation: Governor Polis recently signed three bills into law to provide much-needed funding for CPW to protect the state’s diverse wildlife, habitat and park system. What’s particularly noteworthy about these new laws is that they will allow the general public to provide funding for wildlife conservation, not just hunters and anglers, who have historically paid for and directed state wildlife agencies.

        • How the USDA is Failing America’s Captive Elephants

          “Elephants who are kept in small enclosures are in increased danger of developing chronic foot disease and arthritis, both of which lead to frequent instances of death for captive elephants,” according to Dr. Toni Frohoff, a biologist and behavioral ethologist. “In fact, the most common reason for premature death of captive elephants is lack of space and standing on hard and/or otherwise inappropriate surfaces.”

          Many people are unaware that circuses are still part of the American culture. The closing of the infamous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May 2017 did not mark the end of cruelty perpetrated on elephants, who are forced into captivity and made to perform in circuses. Between 25 and 30 traveling circuses, which include caged wild animals, continue to travel and operate in the United States. There are currently more than 60 elephants and hundreds of other animals still being used for human entertainment. Circus animal cruelty and exploitation are rampant. Some operators like Loomis Bros. Circus and Carson & Barnes Circus continued operating throughout the worst of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and were once again advertising their show schedulesfor the spring and summer season in 2021. Currently, Carden Circus, Loomis Bros. Circus, Carson & Barnes Circus, Tarzan Zerbini Circus, and others are back on the road with elephants and other wild exotic animals.

      • Overpopulation

    • Finance

      • Opinion | America’s Billionaires: Borrowing Their Way to Tax Avoidance

        No widely acclaimed artist in the 20th century baited and battled the rich with as much gusto as Diego Rivera. The Mexican painter’s Great Depression-era confrontation with Nelson Rockefeller, then the twenty-something grandson of the world’s single richest individual, captured front-page real estate all across the United States—and far beyond.

      • Is There a Progressive Case Against Quantitative Easing?

        These purchases of longer-term bonds, known as “quantitative easing” (QE), had the effect of raising bond prices. The vast majority of bonds are held by the wealthy, with close to half being held by the richest one percent. This has the effect of increasing wealth inequality. Lower interest rates also have the effect of raising stock prices, other things being equal.

        The Fed’s QE policy was surely a factor in the sharp run-up in stock prices since the start of the pandemic. Since the ownership of stock is also enormously skewed toward the wealthy, the effect on stock prices also worsens the inequality of wealth. For these reasons, some progressives have argued that QE is a regressive policy which should be abandoned.

      • Omar Unveils Guaranteed Income Bill to Send American Adults $1,200 a Month
      • Democrats Make Last-Minute Push to Extend Eviction Moratorium
      • Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

        House Democrats on Friday afternoon gave up on the effort to enact legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium after failing to secure enough votes for passage, even as progressive lawmakers warned of the “death and suffering” that will likely result from millions of people losing their homes as the more dangerous Delta variant drives a resurgent Covid-19 pandemic.

        “Extending the federal eviction moratorium as quickly as possible is the least we can do for those in our communities who need our help the most.”—Rep. Cori Bush

      • Homelessness Escalates as California’s Recall Election Nears
      • Former Sen. Carl Levin Dies At 87

        A foe of fraud and waste, Levin led an investigation in 2002 into Enron Corp., which had declared bankruptcy the previous year amid financial scandals. The probe contributed to a new federal law that requires executives to sign off on financial statements so they could be criminally liable for posting phony numbers.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Populist-Epistemology

        If in the past this was a kind of academic/politics as usual/perennial situation, it is now a “blood in the streets” situation, itself, a big problem.

        Why? Short answer: epistemology has gone populist. How we know is now a personal possession that we will fight to the death to defend, a scary situation because it’s a personal fait accompli which preempts any refutation. It’s a non-dialectical sort of epistemology in which you talk to your bathroom mirror and he hears you out and goes along.

      • With New Guaranteed Income Bill, Omar Proposes Sending Most People in US $1,200 Per Month

        Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is set to introduce legislation on Friday that would establish a guaranteed income program and postal banking services to provide most U.S. adults, including undocumented taxpayers, with a $1,200 monthly check.

        “For too long we have prioritized endless growth while millions are homeless, hungry, or without healthcare.”—Rep. Ilhan Omar

      • ‘Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,’ Trump Told DOJ in December

        Additional evidence of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to invalidate and reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential race came to light on Friday when the New York Times, using newly obtained documents, reported that Trump pressured top Justice Department officials in late December to declare that “the election was corrupt” so that he and his GOP allies could overturn the results.

      • ‘About Damn Time’: DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump’s Tax Returns to Congress

        The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said Friday that the Treasury Department is obligated by law to hand former President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, opening the door for Congress to finally obtain the documents after more than two years of legal battles and stonewalling by his administration.

        “It is about damn time,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said in a statement. “Our committee first sought Donald Trump’s tax returns on April 3, 2019—849 days ago. Our request was made in full accordance with the law and pursuant to Congress’ constitutional oversight powers. And for 849 days, our request has been illegally blocked by a tag-team of the Trump Justice Department and a Trump-appointed judge.”

      • As Biden Refuses to Act, Dems Make Last-Minute Push to Extend Eviction Moratorium

        House Democrats are racing against the clock to build support for legislation to extend the soon-to-lapse national eviction moratorium after the Biden administration announced Thursday that it wouldn’t act on its own, potentially leaving millions of people at risk of losing their homes amid a deadly pandemic.

        But with the moratorium set to expire Saturday, the last-minute effort faces long odds given that Republicans—and some Democrats—are unlikely to support an extension, despite experts’ warnings about the potentially devastating public health impacts of allowing a wave of evictions as the Delta variant tears through the country.

      • Joe Biden’s Hollow Resistance: Words vs. Deeds

        Words and Deeds

        The judgement remains accurate. Populist- and progressive-sounding words are as usual common in Democratic presidential rhetoric while populist and progressive deeds are as usual scare in Democratic presidential conduct. Remember Biden’s campaign promise to significantly slash college student debt? It’s an empty pledge so far. Early in his presidency, Biden asked the Education and Justice Departments to “review his legal authority” to cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower by executive order. No review is required. The Higher Education Act clearly grants the U.S. president broad discretion to cancel student debt. The legal assessment is a diversionary and holding action reflecting Biden’s reluctance to irritate the nation’s leading financial institutions, whose interests he dutifully served over three decades in Congress.

      • Putin establishes commission for historical education headed by ex-Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky

        Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on establishing an interdepartmental commission for historical education. This document was published on the government’s legal information portal on Friday, July 30. 

      • Russia blocks website for Khodorkovsky’s Dossier Center

        Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, has restricted access to the website for the Dossier Center — an investigative-journalism nonprofit founded by exiled former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. 

      • Trump May Have Broken Promise to Donate Salary in Last Year as President
      • Eric Blanc, the Finnish Revolution of 1918 and Voting Democrat

        The “right lessons” turned out to be that the only “plausible path to socialist transformation in parliamentary countries is a radical form of democratic socialism.” And guess what that “radical form” amounts to: “socialists should only take executive office like presidencies during a socialist revolution.” In other words, Lenin was all wrong. He should not have fought for Soviet power but waited as if the “socialist revolution” were an embryo in the ninth month. Blanc would still insist that he is an orthodox Marxist, but Karl Marx made it patently clear that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not rest on “executive office.” Instead an armed people would rule in their own name—the Paris Commune, in other words.

        In 2014, Blanc was likely still a member of Socialist Organizer, a tiny Trotskyist sect led by his father Alan Benjamin. They were in a satellite of Pierre Lambert’s version of the Fourth International based in France. If the training he received in this sect helped him develop his theories about the borderlands, that’s to their credit. Since he has never written about his political evolution, we have to assume that his flight from the Lambertists was motivated by a need to hook up with broader trends on the left. He joined the ISO at some point and presumably was one of the people who voted for its dissolution under the impact of the Sanders campaigns. His final destination was the DSA, where he functions as an éminence grise justifying work in the Democratic Party as the best way to recover the Kautskyist Social Democratic tradition that lost all of its authority after the Bolshevik revolution. Blanc is trying to turn back the clock in his latest article to recreate this Shangri La of social democracy. You can bet that it will be studied in depth by the house intellectuals at Jacobin and those DSA’ers who identify with The Call, a magazine put out by Blanc’s Bread and Roses caucus. Unlike the average DSA’er, these comrades try to establish their revolutionary continuity to Karl Marx as if anybody cared. To me, such efforts remind me of the genealogy charts of thoroughbred horses more than anything else.

      • As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

        While President Joe Biden campaigned on a pledge to reverse the “failed” policies of his predecessor that “inflicted harm on Cubans and their families,” his administration—already under mounting pressure from progressives to deliver on that promise—announced new sanctions against Cuba on Friday.

        Following Cubans’ recent protests over shortages of food, medicine, and other essentials during the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Cuba’s main law enforcement body, Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR), as well as its director and deputy director, Oscar Callejas Valcarce and Eddy Sierra Arias.

      • Russia’s federal censor orders YouTube to block ‘Navalny Live’

        Russia’s federal censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has ordered YouTube to block Alexey Navalny’s popular channel “Navalny Live.” This was reported by the channel’s producer, Lyubov Sobol — in a YouTube video.

      • Hawley’s “Love America Act” is All About Hate

        And that the rest of America subsidized the slave-owners’ states and continues to subsidize them to this day.

        Hawley, of course, is the guy who gave a fist-salute to the armed white supremacist traitors who stormed the US Capitol on January 6th to assassinate Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi. He hopes to ride his white supremacy shtick to the White House.

      • Biden Furthers Trump Immigration Policy With Expedited Deportations of Families
      • “People Are Outraged”: General Strike in Guatemala Denounces Corruption & Mishandling of Pandemic

        We go to Guatemala to speak with an opposition lawmaker and a Maya K’iche’ leader who joined Thursday’s major national strike demanding the resignation of right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei and other government officials facing allegations of corruption. Major highways were blocked for hours as protesters marched through Guatemala City and in rural communities denouncing corruption, a worsening economic crisis and the government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic. The demonstrations are the “third chapter of our history in the fight against corruption, which started in 2015,” says Lucrecia Hernández Mack, Guatemalan physician and a member of the Guatemalan Congress with the political party Movimiento Semilla who was the first woman to lead the country’s Ministry of Health. “People here in Guatemala are just outraged.” Indigenous governments and people across Guatemala united in leading the call for the mass mobilization, adds Andrea Ixchíu, Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist and human rights defender in Totonicapán, Guatemala. “We are tired [of] how in the midst of the pandemic the Guatemalan government is stealing the money from the vaccines and militariz[ing] the country.”

      • New York City’s Radical Proposal for Noncitizen Voting

        Lucia Aguilar has been living in New York City since she was 3 years old. In her late 30s now, she works at a nonprofit in East Harlem, where, for the last 16 years, she’s helped manage a community food bank. She has a green card at this point, but she still has years to wait until she can apply for citizenship.

      • House Democrats Want to Know the Truth About the Bolivian Coup

        The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday night to approve a measure directing the State Department to investigate the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) and its role facilitating the coup against Bolivia’s three-term President Evo Morales in 2019. The provision, which was tucked into the $67 billion State Department and foreign operations spending package, instructs the State Department to gather information regarding the OAS’s unfounded claims of election fraud. The OAS’s accusations, and the US media’s rushing in to parrot these falsehoods, led to the expulsion of Bolivia’s popular left-wing president, and put the country in the hands of an unelected military junta. Jeanine Áñez, who declared herself the “interim” president after Morales was ousted, oversaw the massacres of Indigenous protesters and other human rights violations during her year in power.

      • Nina Turner Wants to Go to Congress as a Champion for Labor Rights

        If you want to know where Nina Turner is coming from, take a look at where she has been.

      • Delhi HC adjourns hearing on pleas of WhatsApp, Facebook challenging IT Rules till Aug 27

        Delhi HC adjourns hearing on pleas of WhatsApp, Facebook challenging IT Rules till Aug 27New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday adjourned the hearing, till August 27, on the pleas by WhatsApp and Facebook challenging the central government’s Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 that would require messaging services to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service.

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Disentangling Disinformation: Not As Easy As It Looks

        Body bags claiming that “disinformation kills” line the streets this week in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. A group of protesters, affiliated with “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” (an organization that is, confusingly, not affiliated with Facebook or its Oversight Board), is urging Facebook’s shareholders to ban so-called misinformation “superspreaders”—that is, a specific number of accounts that have been deemed responsible for the majority of disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

      • Disinformation for Hire, a Shadow Industry, Is Quietly Booming

        Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies.

        They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability.

        “Disinfo-for-hire actors being employed by government or government-adjacent actors is growing and serious,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, calling it “a boom industry.”

      • Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation

        A coalition of congressional Democrats is pressuring the CEOs of four social media companies to combat the spread of Spanish and other non-English language disinformation on their platforms.

        Democratic Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) led 23 colleagues in sending letters to the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Nextdoor requesting detailed information on content moderation policies for the top five languages users on the platforms encounter.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Last Month In An LA Court I Witnessed The Future Of A World Without Section 230; It Was A Mess

        Disclosure: I was an expert witness for RedBubble in this case (and another case) and submitted some reports regarding this case much earlier in the process, though I did not testify at this trial. I had nothing to do with this trial other than attending it as an interested observer, concerned about litigation involving content moderation. As you can see, however, my opinions on this remain identical to my opinions on content moderation going back basically forever…

      • When Government and Big Tech Collude Against the First Amendment: an Interview With Nadine Strossen

        However, Nadine Strossen, who was president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 to 2008 and is now professor at New York Law School puts forward the following argument:

        I recently spoke to Strossen, please excuse the not terribly photo-oped nature of the audio and video. A very lightly edited and hopefully sufficiently cleaned up transcript of the interview is below.

      • Google says it removed 71,132 content pieces in May, 83,613 items in June in India

        Google removed 71,132 pieces of content in May and took 83,613 removal actions in June following user complaints, the company said in its monthly transparency reports released on Friday. In addition to reports from users, Google also removed 6,34,357 pieces of content in May and 5,26,866 in June as a result of automated detection.

        The US-based company has made these disclosures as part of compliance with India’s IT rules that came into force on May 26.

      • Sharia London: Christian Refugee Hatun Tash Stabbed While Wearing Charlie Hebdo T-Shirt (UPDATE)

        On Sunday, July 25, a Christian preacher and brave critic of Islam, Hatun Tash, was stabbed by a terrorist at Speaker’s Corner in the United Kingdom. The Christian refugee from Turkey fled to Britain to escape persecution following her conversion from Islam to Christianity. Hatun was stabbed while wearing a Charlie Hebdo shirt that states, “L’amour: Plus fort que la haine,” which translates to “Love: Stronger than Hate.”

      • Woman in Charlie Hebdo T-shirt stabbed in London park

        “We know that this assault was witnessed by a number of people, many of whom captured it on their phones. I would ask them, if they have not already done so, to contact police,” says Detective Superintendent Alex Bingley.

      • Hatun Tash: Speakers’ Corner is anti-Christian, says woman who was stabbed

        Hatun Tash told The Times that over the past two years she had been verbally and physically assaulted at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, which is known for freedom of expression.

        A fortnight before she was attacked, Tash had begun legal proceedings against Scotland Yard over allegations of false arrest and imprisonment.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Indian Photojournalist Danish Siddiqui Not Killed In Crossfire, But Executed By Taliban: Report

        According to a media report, Danish Siddiqui, who was killed while covering clashes between Afghan troops and the Taliban in Kandahar city, was actually killed after Taliban verified his identity.

      • Turkey sees 158 percent rise in police violence towards women journalists

        Violence against women journalists in Turkey has sharply increased by 158.82 percent this year, in comparison to the cases recorded last year, the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) said on July 28.

      • Turkey: CFWIJ demands action to end police brutality against journalists

        The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) continues to follow the direct targeting of journalists and the disproportionate use of force against women journalists who follow events in the country. We consider the latest events quite alarming and we are deeply concerned about the physical assaults women journalists have suffered.

        Since the beginning of 2021, CFWIJ has recorded at least 44 women journalists subjected to police violence in Turkey. Three women journalists’ had their houses raided and were detained for their journalistic activities. At least 13 female reporters were detained while following events in the field. Many of them were exposed to verbal harassment by the police at the same time as those cases.

      • False Islamic doctrines: Ibu Yati, two individuals claim trial

        Three individuals including a former journalist, well-known as Ibu Yati, pleaded not guilty in the Selangor Syariah High Court today, to expounding religious doctrines contrary to Islamic law and spreading them through Facebook between December last year until February this year.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • “Pushing Back at Authority”: Son Volt, and the Power of Protest Music

        Calling on those ghosts again, Farrar asks in “Living in the USA,” the best song on Electro Melodier, “Where’s the heart from days of old?” His further inquiry, sung in the plaintive, honest, and intimate voice of a long-lost friend, provides clarity into the target of his political and emotional scavenger hunt: “Where’s the empathy? Where’s the soul?” Closing the chorus with, “Living in the USA…” leaves the listener with a sociocultural mystery. Do those words form a question or an answer?

        Great art eschews the easy solution and the quick fix. Son Volt’s new music is no exception to the rule. Like all brilliant artists, Farrar doesn’t conceal the complexity and contradictions of his subject matter. He spotlights them. Depending on when and how he enunciates the phrase, “Living in the USA,” it can act as ridicule to an Empire in decay, unable to enforce its foundational rhetoric of freedom and equality, or as a declaration of hope – the hope that lives in the streets, the organizer meetings, the ballot box, the picket line, the pipeline protest, and every site of combative action against injustice.

      • DC Court Dumps Police Union’s Attempt To Block Release Of Recordings, Officers’ Names Following Police Shootings

        Last year, a number of police reforms were passed by the city of Washington, DC. These efforts angered the Fraternal Order of Police — which represents a number of DC Metro police officers — enough for it to sue. It sued over two reforms in particular: the release of police recordings (body cam or otherwise) and the names of officers involved in shootings of residents.

      • ‘I want to show I’m not afraid’: Opposition politician Violetta Grudina on her forced hospitalization and decision to go on hunger strike

        Violetta Grudina used to lead Alexey Navalny’s campaign office in Murmansk — before this opposition movement was outlawed as “extremist,” that is. In the summer of 2021, she announced plans to put her name on the ballot for the upcoming City Council elections. Not long after, the authorities opened a criminal case against her, claiming that Grudina failed to fulfill quarantine requirements while recovering from the coronavirus in June. On top of that, in mid-July, Grudina was hospitalized by court order — despite the fact that she tested negative for COVID-19 and no longer had any symptoms. On July 26 — after almost two weeks in the hospital — the opposition politician announced a hunger strike. In conversation with Meduza, Violetta Grudina talks about her forced hospitalization, going on hunger strike, and why she’s not giving up on running in the fall elections.

      • Rise of the Right: How the Vaudeville Left Fuels White Supremacy
      • Florida Sheriff’s Office Now Notifying People It Will Be Inflicting Its Pre-Crime Program On Them

        The Pasco County (FL) Sheriff’s Office has been swamped with negative press coverage centering on its predictive policing program. The Office claims it’s not “predictive policing,” but rather “intelligence-led policing.” Whatever you call it, it sucks.

      • Luke Harris on Critical Race Theory, Cindy Cohn on Pegasus Spyware
      • Judges Rule in Favor of a School’s Use of Shock Therapy That UN Calls Torture
      • Anti-BDS Jewish Orgs Back Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Sales Ban in Settlements Despite Israeli Pressure

        Israel has launched what has been described as a maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever, after the iconic ice cream brand announced it would halt sales in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has asked 35 U.S. governors to enforce state laws which make it a crime to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, who no longer have operational control of the company, have defended the company’s decision. A number of Jewish groups including J Street, the New Israel Fund and Americans for Peace Now, all of whom oppose BDS, have defended Ben & Jerry’s decision and rejected accusations that the company’s decision was antisemitic. “What we are seeing is an aggressive, over the top, full-court press from senior officials in the Israeli government … to target Ben & Jerry’s simply for the fact that they made a principled decision to respect the distinction between the state of Israel and the territory that it occupies beyond the green line,” says Logan Bayroff, Vice President of Communications of J-Street. “These anti-boycott laws aren’t just posing issues under the first amendment, they’re actually punishing companies that do the right thing by ending their complicity in human rights abuses,” adds Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch.

      • Yes, the Constitution was “Pro-Slavery”

        Naturally, that reframing has enjoyed quite a bit of pushback, much of which amounts to wrestling over whether the US Constitution, as originally written and ratified, was designed around the goal of protecting the institution of slavery.

        “Nikole Hannah-Jones and other 1619 acolytes,” Dr. Brion McClanahan writes at the Tenth Amendment Center, “have been consistently pushing the idea that the Constitution was a ‘pro-slavery’ document.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Broadband Portion Of Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan Appears Watered Down But Still Helpful

        As we’ve noted previously, the broadband component of the Biden infrastructure bill has slowly been whittled down during “bipartisan negotiations.” What was first a $100 billion proposal is now a $65 billion proposal, with things industry didn’t like (like support for community broadband) slowly hollowed out. And while the White House fact sheet on the agreement offers some detail on the compromise (which still isn’t technically final), it remains arguably vague:

      • Picking Up Where Bill C-10 Left Off: The Canadian Government’s Non-Consultation on Online Harms Legislation

        The government says it is taking comments until September 25th, but given the framing of the documents, it is clear that this is little more than a notification of the regulatory plans, not a genuine effort to craft solutions based on public feedback. For a government that was elected with a strong grounding in consultation and freedom of expression, the reversal in approach could hardly be more obvious.

    • Monopolies

      • Stop The Antitrust Gerrymandering

        The social media app TikTok was reported to have passed more than 3 billion total downloads in July and was the most downloaded app in the first half of the year. This growth is impressive as it not only was banned in India but is the first app not owned by Facebook to pass 3 billion downloads. Yet in the recent antitrust cases from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the states attorneys general against Facebook, there is little mention of the popular app.

      • Microsoft is facing a subpoena for millions of documents in Google’s antitrust case

        The sweeping federal antitrust case against Google has given rise to a significant fight over data held by Microsoft, and the company is now facing a subpoena for millions of documents that could shed light on its attempts to compete with Google’s search engine. Having initially cooperated with prosecutors in building an antitrust case against Google, Microsoft could be obligated to produce millions more documents at the request of Google’s defense team.

        At a status hearing on Friday morning, Judge Amit Mehta heard arguments from both Google and Microsoft on the issue, but ultimately found more information was required before the court could give guidance as to how much internal data Microsoft would be required to produce.

      • Copyrights

        • US drops extradition against one Megaupload defendant after ‘life-threatening’ illness emerges

          The Megaupload Four is now the Megaupload Three – the United States has dropped its extradition case against one of the defendants who has a “life-threatening” medical condition.

          Megaupload’s former marketing manager, Finn Batato, is no longer among those sought on a string of charges in the US copyright-related case.

          It comes as the tenth anniversary of the January 2012 arrest of the Megaupload Four approaches without an extradition date set.

        • US drops extradition against Megaupload defendant

          The quiet dropping of the extradition of Batato was signalled in a single line of the latest Court of Appeal judgment. It recounted the charges and desired extradition of Kim Dotcom, Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann.

          It then said: “Until very recently, it was also seeking the extradition of Mr Batato but due to health issues no longer does so.”

          A footnote on the court order said that Batato was “formally discharged” by the District Court – where the extradition case was originally lodged – on June 10 this year.

        • Scarlett Johansson Is Suing Disney For Its Streaming Release Of ‘Black Widow’

          MONDELLO: After the opening weekend, the numbers fell off a cliff. Industry observers suggest that one reason attendance fell so quickly is that Disney had screened the film simultaneously on Disney+, allowing audiences to bypass theaters and watch it at home. Scarlett Johansson is the film’s star and also its executive producer. She says in her lawsuit, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, that her agreement with Disney’s Marvel Entertainment guaranteed an exclusive theatrical opening and based her salary in part on the film’s box office performance.

        • Games Workshop is trying to shut down fan animations

          Games Workshop is facing backlash after making changes to its IP [sic] Guidelines to clamp down on fan-made animations.

          For the most part, changes to Games Workshop’s IP Guidelines make a lot of sense. It makes sense for the miniatures company to enforce a zero tolerance policy towards people 3D printing its designs, for example. But things take a turn for the concerning when it comes to a note on fan-made animations, which reads: [...]

        • Copyright Troll Richard Liebowitz Keeps On Losing In Court

          Copyright troll Richard Liebowitz (who once demanded he not be called a copyright troll), who has been suspended from practicing law in NY, continues to rack up embarrassing losses in court. I hadn’t realized that after the Southern District of NY suspended Liebowitz, a bunch of other courts followed suit, asking him why he shouldn’t be suspended elsewhere. In North Dakota, rather than fighting it, Liebowitz meekly consented to the suspension. In the Southern District of Illinois, Liebowitz didn’t even respond to the court’s order to show cause, and was thus suspended as well. In the Eastern District of NY he was suspended as well The 10th Circuit Appeals Court suspended Liebowitz as well. That’s based on just a quick look — it may have happened in other courts too.

        • Jake Paul Fight Piracy: Judge Dismisses Triller’s Lawsuit Against YouTuber

          After filing a wave of lawsuits against entities alleged to have streamed the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren fight without permission, Triller has clocked up another failure in a US court. A lawsuit filed against YouTuber ‘ItsLilBrandon’ has been thrown out by a judge after Triller failed to follow the court’s orders.

        • BREIN Pulled 466 Pirate Sites and Services Offline Last Year

          Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is one of the most active civil copyright enforcement groups in the world. This week the group announced its 2020 achievements, which include the shutdown of hundreds of pirate sites and services, dozens of settlements, and a local Pirate Bay blockade.

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    Links for the day

  3. Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) and KU Leuven Boosting Americans and Cancellers of the Father of Free Software

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), along with the SFLC one might add, have been under a siege by the trademark-abusing FSFE and SFC; Belgium helps legitimise the ‘fakes’

  4. Techrights in the Next 5 or 10 Years

    Now that I’m free from the shackles of a company (it deteriorated a lot after grabbing Gates Foundation money under an NDA) the site Techrights can flourish and become more active

  5. 60 Days of Articles About Sirius 'Open Source' and the Long Road Ahead

    The Sirius ‘Open Source’ series ended after 60 days (parts published every day except the day my SSD died completely and very suddenly); the video above explains what’s to come and what lessons can be learned from the 21-year collective experience (my wife and I; work periods combined) in a company that still claims, in vain, to be “Open Source”

  6. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, January 30, 2023

  7. Taking Techrights to the Next Level in 2023

    I've reached a state of "closure" when it comes to my employer (almost 12 years for me, 9+ years for my wife); expect Techrights to become more active than ever before and belatedly publish important articles, based on longstanding investigations that take a lot of effort

  8. The ISO Delusion: When the Employer Doesn’t Realise That Outsourcing Clients' Passwords to LassPass After Security Breaches Is a Terrible Idea

    The mentality or the general mindset at Sirius ‘Open Source’ was not compatible with that of security conscientiousness and it seemed abundantly clear that paper mills (e.g. ISO certification) cannot compensate for that

  9. Links 30/01/2023: Plasma Mobile 23.01 and GNU Taler 0.9.1

    Links for the day

  10. EPO Management Isn't Listening to Staff, It's Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

    “On 18 January 2023,” the staff representatives tell European Patent Office (EPO) colleagues, “the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced the major concerns of staff, the organization chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.”

  11. Links 30/01/2023: Coreboot 4.19 and Budgie 10.7

    Links for the day

  12. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 29, 2023

  13. [Meme] With Superheroes Like These...

    Ever since the new managers arrived the talent has fled the company that falsely credits itself with "Open Source"

  14. Not Tolerating Proprietary 'Bossware' in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

    The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.

  15. The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

    When the company where I worked for nearly 12 years spoke of pragmatism it was merely making excuses to adopt proprietary software at the expense of already-working and functional Free software

  16. Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

    Distributions of GNU/Linux keep urging us to move to the latest, but is the latest always the greatest? On Friday my Debian 10 drive died, so I started moving to Debian 11 on a new drive and here's what that did to my life.

  17. Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

    Nowadays "the news" is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor 'report' about "Linux servers" failing to work

  18. Microsofters Inside Sirius 'Open Source'

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it

  19. Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

    Links for the day

  20. The Hey Hype Machine

    "Hey Hype" or "Hey Hi" (AI) has been dominating the press lately and a lot of that seems to boil down to paid-for marketing; we need to understand what's truly going on and not be distracted by the substance-less hype

  21. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 28, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 28, 2023

  22. Unmasking AI

    A guest article by Andy Farnell

  23. The ISO Delusion/Sirius Corporation: A 'Tech' Company Run by Non-Technical People

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ was hiring people who brought to the company a culture of redundant tasks and unwanted, even hostile technology; today we continue to tell the story of a company run by the CEO whose friends and acquaintances did severe damage

  24. Links 28/01/2023: Lots of Catching Up (Had Hardware Crash)

    Links for the day

  25. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, January 27, 2023

  26. Microsoft DuckDuckGo Falls to Lowest Share in 2 Years After Being Widely Exposed as Microsoft Proxy, Fake 'Privacy'

    DuckDuckGo, according to this latest data from Statcounter, fell from about 0.71% to just 0.58%; all the gains have been lost amid scandals, such as widespread realisation that DuckDuckGo is a Microsoft informant, curated by Microsoft and hosted by Microsoft (Bing is meanwhile laying off many people, but the media isn’t covering that or barely bothers)

  27. This is What the Microsoft-Sponsored Media Has Been Hyping Up for Weeks (Ahead of Microsoft Layoffs)

    Reprinted with permission from Ryan

  28. [Meme] António Campinos Wants to Be F***ing President Until 2028

    António Campinos insists he will be EPO President for 10 years, i.e. even longer than Benoît Battistelli (despite having appalling approval rates from staff)

  29. European Patent Office Staff Losing Hope

    The EPO’s management with its shallow campaign of obfuscation (pretending to protect children or some other nonsense) is not fooling patent examiners, who have grown tired and whose representatives say “the administration shows no intention of involving the staff representation in the drafting of the consultant’s mandate” (like in Sirius ‘Open Source’ where technical staff is ignored completely for misguided proposals to pass in the dark)

  30. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, January 26, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, January 26, 2023

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