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Links 18/8/2021: Amiga 500 ‘Back’ and Debian’s KDE/Plasma Status Explained

Posted in News Roundup at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux on Mars!

      On 19 April 2021, powered flight on another world took place for the first time. When a 1.8kg drone successfully lifted 3m from Mars’ dusty surface for less than a minute, it wasn’t simply another small step for humanity exploring the universe: it was also a giant leap for open-source software. For this tiny drone is powered by Linux.

      The drone’s name is Ingenuity, although NASA also refers to it as the Mars Helicopter (for reasons that become obvious once you see it). The project is highly experimental, with future flights only expected to last for 90 seconds and the mission itself slated to run for 30 days, but the technology could lead to future Mars missions that deploy drones to explore and collect samples, covering a much vaster swathe of the planet’s surface than a ground-based rover could ever manage.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • Zink Vulkan driver Suballocator lands in Mesa, certain games get ‘over 1000%’ more FPS

          Zink, the OpenGL implementation on top of Vulkan continues to be an exciting development for Linux open source graphics drivers, with some new code landing in Mesa to improve its performance.

          The code in question relates to a Suballocator, something that developer Mike Blumenkrantz who has been contracted by Valve blogged about that we covered back in June. Even back then, Blumenkrantz showed how Tomb Raider running on Zink with this new code went from 9FPS to 91FPS (those are the last specific numbers given).

    • Applications

      • Excellent Utilities: lsd – next gen ls command

        This is a series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We cover a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides. There’s a complete list of the tools in this series in the Summary section.

        The Command Line Interface (CLI) is a way of interacting with your computer. To harness all the power of Linux, it’s highly recommended mastering the interface. It’s true the CLI is often perceived as a barrier for users migrating to Linux, particularly if they’re grown up using GUI software exclusively. While Linux rarely forces anyone to use the CLI, some tasks are better suited to this method of interaction, offering inducements like superior scripting opportunities, remote access, and being far more frugal with a computer’s resources.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Install VistA on GT.M or YottaDB

        A Mumps database (like VistA) is a series of routines and globals (a global in Mumps really means a file on disk). To load VistA into GT.M/YottaDB, you need to obtain the these from the CACHE.DAT distributed by the VA. Efforts are underway to lobby the VA to distribute the FOIA instance as a set of globals and routines; rather than in a proprietary format.

        Since the establishment of OSEHRA, each monthly update of FOIA is exported as routines and globals in zwrite format at GitHub. In addition, DSS vxVistA can be obtained from this repository and WorldVistA can be obtained from here.

        In our example, for setting up a VistA Database, we will use FOIA VistA.

      • How To Install and Secure MongoDB on CentOS 8 – TecAdmin

        MongoDB is a popularly used document-oriented, NoSQL, database program. The term NoSQL refers to not only SQL which is an approach to designing databases. A NoSQL database is modeled in a way that the storage and retrieval of data are done through documents, instead of using the tabular structure (tables and rows) used in the more traditional relational databases.

        MongoDB is a general-purpose database in which data is stored in flexible JSON-like documents in key-value pairs. Each MongoDB database has collections that contain documents. These documents can have different sizes, contents, and numbers of fields. It supports an optional schema model which means that the blueprint of the database doesn’t need to be defined beforehand. The MongoDB databases are very scalable.

        The document-oriented model makes MongoDB very flexible. It is great at load balancing and duplicating data and can run on multiple servers. These features allow it to keep the system running even if there is hardware failure. Following are some of the key features of MongoDB…

      • How To Mount Google Drive On Linux Operating Systems | Itsubuntu.com

        Thinking of using Google Drive in your Linux based operating systems then this tutorial is for you. In this tutorial post, we are going to show you the basic idea behind the mounting Google drive on Linux operating systems.

      • How to Install Ionic Framework on Debian 11 – LinuxCapable

        Ionic Framework is a free and open-source toolkit for building performing, high-quality mobile and desktop apps. Ionic comes with integrations for popular frameworks like Angular, React, and Vue and is one of the more popular frameworks amongst developers today in the mobile applications field.

        In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Ionic Framework on your Debian 11 Bullseye, its dependencies, create a project, and learn how to start the test application.

      • How to Install KDE Plasma in Linux Desktop

        KDE is a well-known desktop environment for Unix-like systems designed for users who wants to have a nice desktop environment for their machines, It is one of the most used desktop interfaces out there.

    • Games

      • Having VR issues on Linux? You should look to disable async reprojection | GamingOnLinux

        Virtual Reality is still a niche and doing it on Linux is a niche within a niche, that said when it works it’s brilliant but there’s a few problematic issues that have arisen recently.

        After having played a great many hours, and picking up a fan to prevent myself overheating, I feel it’s safe to say I’m now a huge fan of VR. Sadly though, there are times where updates roll out with SteamVR that cause problems on Linux and it doesn’t really seem much of a priority for Valve to fix (compared with updating Proton).

      • Is AMD Ryzen Good For Gaming? The Best AMD CPUs Reviewed – Make Tech Easier

        Is AMD Ryzen good for gaming? This has been a pretty common question since the initial launch of the Ryzen series in 2015. Even today, there can be legitimate debates launched when AMD fails to compete with Intel in some way. To properly answer the question, we need to dive into the details of how AMD has competed with Intel in the CPU space and provide good Ryzen CPU recommendations.

      • Among Us not connecting on Linux with Proton? Here’s a simple fix | GamingOnLinux

        Among Us continues to be a very popular game and it can run quite nicely on Linux with Steam Play Proton, however if you have issues with it not connecting or getting a black screen – there’s a really simple fix.

        One reason we’re bringing this up, is that recently Epic Games released a new game mode for Fortnite called Fortnite Impostors. No guessing needed where they got the idea and terminology from. There’s been a lot of talk on how Epic with Fortnite has, again, copied a developer without credit. The Among Us developers don’t seem to be particularly amused by this either. Epic teams up with all sorts of brands but apparently not indie game developers.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Debian KDE/Plasma Status 2021-08-18

          Bullseye has been released, and we are in the post-release rush with lots of changes going on. On the KDE/Plasma side we are trying to move all our accumulated changes to unstable. On the OSC side, frameworks 5.85 and KDE Gears 21.08.0 have been released.

          As mentioned previously, the now released Debian/Bullseye contains KDE Frameworks 5.78, including several backports of fixes from 5.79 to get smooth operation. Plasma 5.20.5, again with several cherry picks for bugs will be in Bullseye, too. The KDE/Apps are mostly at 20.12 level, and the KDE PIM group packages (akonadi, kmail, etc) are at 20.08.

    • Distributions

      • SerenityOS offers a Unix-like experience with 90s computing vibes

        Microsoft is busily working away on Windows 11 and its redesigned, modern interface. Andreas Kling, meanwhile, is building the wonderfully retro Unix-like SerenityOS from the kernel on up.

        Maybe Fluent has really struck a chord with you. If, however, you feel like Windows interfaces peaked with Windows 2000, you’ll love the aesthetic in SerenityOS. Kling calls the project “a love letter to 90s user interfaces,” and it’s easy to see why. There are elements of classic Windows, MacOS and NeXT UIs and there’s no attempt to accommodate touchscreens the way most of today’s desktop OSes do.

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 16 Officially Released : Linux Alternative To Windows 11

          Zorin OS 16 is now available for the public. Based on the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa), Zorin OS 16 has been refurbished with a new and improved appearance.You will see new artwork and desktop wallpapers on the Zorin OS 16.

          One of the interesting GUI feature that you will see on Zorin OS 16 is Windows 11-like desktop layout. Zorin OS which is one of the easy to use Linux distro now displays a blurred version of your desktop wallpaper in it’s latest version of Zorin OS 16.

        • Manjaro Linux 21.1.0 Pahvo is out with installer improvements, new desktop upgrades

          Manjaro Linux, the distribution based on Arch Linux but with an aim to make it more suitable for less advanced users, has a big new version released with Manjaro 21.1.0.

          With this release the major supported desktops have been upgraded with GNOME 40, which sees the Manjaro team tweak the layout used to more closely follow standard GNOME with “some adjustments to reduce the pointer travel for users who prefer using mouse with gnome”. However, they also supply a “legacy” layout option too which gives you a different approach if you prefer it.

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Realtek AP-Router SDK vulnerabilities could impact millions of routers and IoT devices

        The IoT Inspector Research Lab has discovered four high and critical vulnerabilities in the Realtek AP-Router “Jungle” SDK used for RTL819x SoCs that could impact millions of WiFi routers and dongles.

        An attacker can use a network attack, e.g. without physical access to the device, to generate a buffer or stack overflow helping him access the system and execute his own code. Realtek has released an advisory (PDF) with patchsets for all four vulnerabilities so you should upgrade the firmware if you can.

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Celebrating the community: Toshan
        • Introducing the PineNote

          You’ve been asking us to create an e-ink device for years, and indeed we actually looked to make one as early as 2017. I even remember publicly ping-ponging ideas with the community members at the time and researching which SoC would be the best fit for such a device. At the time we were looking to create an alternative to the entry-level Kindle and other such big-brand e-readers. We quickly learned, however, that big brands heavily subsidize their e-readers via book sales and even if we sold an open e-reader at cost (or a loss), we still couldn’t possibly match popular devices’ price tag. Thankfully, the technology landscape and what is achievable using e-ink has significantly changed since 2017. Since the announcement of Rockchip’s RK3566 we knew our opportunity to create an open e-ink device had arrived. Early this year we made the decision to create the PineNote.

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Setting new expectations for open source maintainers

        For a long time, there were two basic tests for releasing open source: “Does it do what I need it to do?” and “Does it compile?”

        Sure, it was nice if it did things for others, but more than anything else, it at least needed to be fun for the developer and run at all for others. Then with the rise of package management, things leveled up a bit: “Is it packaged?” Shortly after that, the increasing popularity of test-driven development added another requirement: “Do the tests pass?”

        Each of these new requirements made more work for open source maintainers, but (by and large) maintainers didn’t grump too much about them. I think this happened for two reasons: First, the work was often aligned with skills developers needed to learn for their jobs, and second, they were broadly perceived as beneficial for all users of the software, not just corporate developers.

      • A guide to database replication with open source

        In the world of constantly evolving data, one question often pops up: How is it possible to seamlessly replicate data that is growing exponentially and coming from an increasing number of sources? This article explains some of the foundational open source technologies that may help commoditize database replication tasks into data warehouses, lakes, or other databases.

        One popular replication technology is Change Data Capture (CDC), a pattern that allows row-level data changes at the source database to be quickly identified, captured, and delivered in real-time to the destination data warehouse, lake, or other database. With CDC, only the data that has changed since the last replication—categorized by insert, update, and delete operations—is in scope. This incremental design approach makes CDC significantly more efficient than other database replication patterns, such as a full-database replication. With full-database replication, the entire source database table with potentially millions of rows is scanned and copied over to the destination.

      • Web Browsers

        • Browsers listening to developers or users requires them to be humble

          The reality of the modern web is that browsers currently hold all of the power, which practically speaking means that Chrome holds all of the power. What happens is in their hands, and Chrome especially has demonstrated that it will add or remove things regardless of what the standards may or may not say. This will not be changed just by changing who is involved in the standardization process; it will only be changed by Chrome and other browsers deciding to listen and then to change their plans based on what they hear, to do things they didn’t plan to do and not do things that they had planned to do.

      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

          • 1994: How Perl Became the Foundation of Yahoo

            A quick note about what Yahoo was, as a product, during the year 1994. It was a simple directory of websites, structured as a hierarchy. As 1994 began, there were just 623 websites on the Web, according to a study by MIT Researcher Matthew Gray. Yes, less than 1,000 websites in the entire world! So Yang and Filo’s directory was designed to help early web users navigate this small but growing world of websites. (Incidentally, the software program Gray used to measure the size of the Web was called World Wide Web Wanderer, aka the Wanderer — and it was a Perl-based web crawler, first deployed in June 1993.)

            Thanks to some Twitter sluething by Andy Baio and Joe Crawford earlier this year, the May 1994 Perl script that generated an early version of the Yahoo directory is available to view on GitHub. Here’s a slice of that Perl code, which in this case served to create the directories: [...]

  • Leftovers

    • Whatever, Voice of Reason

      Support independent cartooning: join Sparky’s List—and don’t forget to visit TT’s Emporium of Fun, featuring the new book and plush Sparky!

    • Mythos and Cliché: The Fractured History of Los Angeles

      In his seminal study of Los Angeles in the boom and bust years from 1920 to 1940, Carey McWilliams memorably called Southern California “an island on the land.” Mostly he was talking about the weather. An area of approximately 275 miles, Southern California is often described as possessing the only Mediterranean climate in the United States. McWilliams disputed this; he found the region’s extreme temperateness “a freak of nature”—like nowhere else on earth—and “climatically insulated, shut off from the rest of the continent.” Alas, this insulation no longer holds: While ever a land of “sky and air and ocean breezes,” Southern California is being changed by the climate crisis just like everywhere else. Sea level rise is eroding its beaches, and, away from the coast and sand, the weather is no longer as mild, so fire season has become a year-round prospect. (This past winter was among the three driest on record.) In a globalized world undergoing a global catastrophe, nowhere is really an island after all.

    • Education

      • Opinion | Is Higher Education a Pyramid Scheme?

        For the last decade and a half, I’ve been teaching ethics to undergraduates. Now—admittedly, a little late to the party—I’ve started seriously questioning my own ethics. I’ve begun to wonder just what it means to be a participant, however minor, in the pyramid scheme that higher education has become in the years since I went to college.

    • Hardware

      • Amiga 500 is back! This is this replica console with gamepad and 25 games

        A whole generation of gamers grew up playing with one of these consoles, and the Retro Games company already carries a few models including the THEC64 Mini that replicates the famous Commodore 64 (as well as its original size variant). Now it is the turn of the emblematic Amiga 500, which will arrive in a reduced format thanks to the fact that, like the previous ones, it actually carries modern hardware and an emulator to run the games.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Joining Fight Against Line 3, Health Professionals Urge Biden to Block Project

        U.S. doctors, nurses, and other health professionals came together Tuesday for a national day of solidarity against Line 3 that included various events and a letter calling on President Joe Biden to block Enbridge’s tar sands project.

        The health professionals are pressuring Biden to “take action that climate science demands, listen to the voices of Indigenous frontline leaders,” and reverse the federal government’s permitting of Line 3 under former President Donald Trump.

      • Public Education Is Set Up to Fail in the Pandemic

        The spike in Covid-19 cases in the United States, driven largely by the Delta variant, is on a collision course with back-to-school season, which will see children—who are more affected by the variant—returning to in-person instruction en masse, often without masks, vaccinations, regular testing, or better ventilation.

      • The Delta Variant of Global Stupidity

        Avoiding global catastrophe from the more infectious delta variant of COVID-19 doesn’t require a huge commitment from people and governments. Richer countries just have to ensure more widespread availability of vaccines. And individuals have to get vaccinated.

        COVID-19 is not an asteroid on a collision course with the planet. It’s not an imminent nuclear war. It’s an invisible enemy that humanity has demonstrated it can beat. It just requires a bit of cooperation.

      • After Banning Mask and Vaccine Mandates, GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Gets Covid-19

        Already under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic—in addition to recent attacks on voting rights and immigrants—Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, provoking fresh criticism of his anti-public health policies.

        “Our governor has been working to keep masks out of schools harder than he has worked to keep guns out of schools.”—Marked by Covid

      • Feds Set to Advise an Extra Round of Vaccinations, Which Could Start Next Month
      • Nearly 7 in 10 Support Mask Requirements in Schools, New Poll Shows
      • Opinion | Why Does Your Right to Unmask Usurp My Child’s Right to a Safe School?

        “Daddy, I’m afraid.”

      • Why no one really knows how bad Facebook’s vaccine misinformation problem is

        Researchers aren’t just clamoring for more information about Facebook, either. YouTube, Twitter, and other social media networks also have troves of data about Covid-19 misinformation that could help researchers. But because Facebook is the largest social media platform for sharing news — one where many posts are private — the company is central to the debate about transparency in Big Tech and the societal impacts of its products.

      • Pesticides can amplify each other. Bees have become the victims.

        When different pesticides mix together, as they often do on farms, they can amplify the effect of one another, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. In deadly combination, they can be even more damaging to bees. Previous research has found that these “synergies” can harm fish and other creatures, too.

        What’s most troubling is that regulators in the US and elsewhere don’t take the dangers of these interactions fully into account — even though they’ve long been aware of them. The Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees pesticides in the US, effectively ignored a recommendation to determine which chemicals farmers most commonly mix together, and what risk those combinations pose to bees. Europe is making more progress, but its regulations still fall short, experts say.

      • Why it’s so hard to be a nurse in America, according to two nurses

        The roughly 3 million registered nurses (RNs) currently employed in the United States are, in Sara’s words, “the eyes and the ears and hands and feet of providing health care.” But nurses are leaving the profession at a staggering rate. According to a 2021 report from Nursing Solutions, the turnover rate for registered nurses last year was close to 20 percent. This leaves hospitals understaffed: About 10 percent of hospital RN positions were vacant last year, the same report found, perpetuating a cycle of burnout and likely worsening the quality of care for patients.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Redaction Failure Shows Grayshift Is Swearing Cops To Secrecy About Its Phone-Cracking Tech

          Law enforcement loves its new tech advances. It also hates to talk about them, operating under the assumption that the business of serving the public isn’t the public’s business. When pressed, officials will say something about staying one step ahead of criminals. But more often the opacity is nothing more than antagonism directed at people who expect transparency from those cashing publicly funded paychecks.

        • LockBit 2.0 Ransomware Proliferates Globally

          The LockBit ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) gang has ramped up its targeted attacks, researchers said, with attempts against organizations in Chile, Italy, Taiwan and the U.K. using version 2.0 of its malware.

          Attacks in July and August have employed LockBit 2.0, according to a Trend Micro analysis released on Monday, featuring a souped-up encryption method.

        • Top researcher slams Microsoft over ‘astonishingly bad’ security advisories

          A well-known security researcher has slammed Microsoft for its “astonishingly bad” security advisories, pointing to the wording in a TCP/IP remote code execution vulnerability released on 10 August this year as an example.

        • BlackBerry software flaw could impact cars, medical devices – U.S. agencies

          The warning came after the Canadian company disclosed that its QNX Real Time Operating System has a vulnerability that could allow an attacker to execute an arbitrary code or flood a server with traffic until it crashes or gets paralyzed.

          The software is used by automakers including Volkswagen, BMW and Ford Motor in many critical functions including the Advanced Driver Assistance System.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Speak Out Against Apple’s Mass Surveillance Plans

              Last year, EFF supporters spoke out and stopped the EARN IT bill, a government scheme that could have enabled the scanning of every message online. We need to harness that same energy to let Apple know that its plan to enable the scanning of photos on every iPhone is unacceptable. 

            • Good News: Twitter Announces An Excellent Lead For The Bluesky Decentralized Social Media Protocol Project

              It has been nearly two years since Jack Dorsey announced plans to explore switching Twitter from its current setup as a centralized platform controlled by one company to a distributed protocol project that anyone can build on — called Bluesky. This was especially exciting to me, since some of Jack’s thoughts were inspired by my “Protocols, not Platforms” paper. There hasn’t been that much news on Bluesky since then — leading many to insist that the project was going nowhere. However, there have been plenty of things happening behind the scenes — at least somewhat complicated by the whole pandemic thing. In January of this year, an “Ecosystem Review” document was published.

            • Jewel v. NSA: Americans (Still) Deserve Their Day in Court

              Though we filed our our landmark Jewel v. NSA case in 2008, no court has yet ruled on the merits – whether the mass spying on the Internet and phone communications of millions of Americans violates U.S. constitutional and statutory law. Instead, despite the enormous amount of direct and circumstantial evidence showing our clients’ communications swept up by the NSA dragnet surveillance, along with those of millions of other Americans, the trial and appeals courts still found that the plaintiffs lacked legal “standing” to challenge the practices.

              As we said in our brief to the Ninth Circuit, this dismissal “hands the keys to the courthouse to the Executive, making it impossible to bring any litigation challenging the legality of such surveillance without the Executive’s permission.  It blinds the courts to what the Executive has admitted: the NSA has engaged in mass surveillance of domestic communications carried by the nation’s leading telecommunications companies, and this surveillance touches the communications and records of millions of innocent Americans.”

              This fight has been long and hard. But we remain determined to ensure that the network we all increasingly rely on in our daily lives—for communicating with our families, working, participating in community and political activities, shopping, and browsing—is not also an instrument subjecting all of our actions to NSA mass surveillance. We are evaluating the options for moving the case forward so that Americans can indeed have their day in court.

            • Palantir Buys Gold Bars as Hedge Against ‘Black Swan Event’

              The company spent $50.7 million this month on gold, part of an unusual investment strategy that also includes startups, blank-check companies and possibly Bitcoin. Palantir had previously said it would accept Bitcoin as a form of payment before adding precious metals more recently.

            • Business Round-Up: Cashless future closer thanks to corona

              Vendors are obliged to accept cash between 06:00 and 22:00, but if they are located in an area deemed vulnerable to robberies, a card-only policy is legal during midnight hours.

            • Pegasus row: SC issues notice to Centre, says govt need not disclose anything which compromises national security

              A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana sought the Centre’s response on the pleas and said it will take up the matter after 10 days and see what course should be adopted.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | We Are the Least Trustworthy People On the Planet: Another Ghastly Retreat From Empire
      • Opinion | When Will We Stop Letting Our Presidents Lie America Into Wars?

        Let’s never forget that what we are watching happen right now in Afghanistan is the final act of George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection strategy.

      • Progressive Critics Say Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

        As the hawks who have been lying about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan for two decades continue to peddle fantasies in the midst of a Taliban takeover and American evacuation of Kabul, progressive critics on Tuesday reminded the world who has benefited from the “endless war.”

        “Never has it been more important to end war profiteering.”—Public Citizen

      • Opinion | We Can’t Let Pro-War Generals Who Lied About the Afghanistan War Define Its Legacy

        The horrific culmination of the 20-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan should be cause for sober reflection on the imperial hubris and bipartisan pro-war consensus that enabled such a ruinous military intervention to grind on for so long. But instead of a reckoning, the very architects of the war are getting the final word on its legacy—a kafkaesque conclusion to a remarkably cruel chapter. This dynamic adds fresh insult to the disastrous conditions Afghans now face, as the Taliban seizes control of Afghanistan, and the United States implements callous closed-door policies toward people attempting to flee the country, leading to ghastly scenes at Kabul’s airport.

      • Opinion | A Thoughtful Response to the Tragedy in Afghanistan

        As my husband and I ate dinner Sunday evening and reflected (as we do each night) about what we are grateful for, I was simultaneously aware of our abundance of unearned good fortune and sick to my stomach thinking about the people— especially the girls and women—in Afghanistan. I can only imagine their terror and despair, and imagining leaves me overwhelmed.

      • Biden Forfeits His Afghan Victory by Defending His Deep State Advisors

        The effect was to show how drastic his own misconceptions are, and how he will continue to defend neocon adventurism. What seemed for an hour or so as a public relations recovery is turning into a denouement of how U.S. fantasy is still trying to threaten Asia and the Near East.

        By throwing all his weight behind the propaganda that has guided U.S. policy since George W. Bush decided to invade after 9/11, Biden blew his greatest chance to burst the myths that led to his own bad decisions to trust U.S. military and state officials (and their campaign contributors).

      • Azmat Khan: Deadly U.S. Air War in Afghanistan Helped Taliban Gain New Recruits Who Wanted Revenge

        Investigative journalist Azmat Khan, who has reported extensively in Afghanistan, says President Joe Biden has not yet addressed the chaos unleashed by the collapse of the Afghan government. In remarks on Monday, Biden “really focused on the decision to end the war” and ignored criticism about chaos at the Kabul airport and the abandonment of thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. over the last 20 years. “None of that was really discussed in any detail,” Khan says. She also discusses why the Afghan military fell so quickly to the Taliban, its overreliance on U.S. air power, how civilian casualties weakened support for the U.S.-backed government, and the massive profits the two-decade-long war generated for U.S. defense contractors.

      • Last Charge for the Dead Enders: Blame Biden for Leaving Afghanistan

        Never mind that the U.S. national-security establishment had twenty long years to achieve its goal of bringing a model society to Afghanistan. 

        Never mind that U.S. officials sacrificed the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghans in their quest to bring “democracy” and “enduring freedom” to Afghanistan.

      • The Death of the “Lima Group” and Re-Birth of the Latin American Anti-Imperialist Left
      • Taliban Vow ‘No Revenge’ Against Fellow Afghans Who Worked With US Forces

        During their first press conference since retaking control of Afghanistan, Taliban representatives on Tuesday vowed not to seek retribution against fellow Afghans who worked with U.S. occupation forces and said the new government will respect the rights of women—with the caveat that they must adhere to the group’s interpretation of Sharia law.

        “Whoever has worked in the military, in translation, we have given amnesty to everybody. There is no revenge,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said from the capital of Kabul as the U.S. resumed evacuation flights for Americans and some Afghans who worked with U.S. forces, which have been in the country since the disastrous 2001 invasion.

      • Opinion | American Wars: Blood in the Sand

        The magnitude of the United States’ failure in Afghanistan is breathtaking. It is not a failure of Democrats or Republicans, but an abiding failure of American political culture, reflected in US policymakers’ lack of interest in understanding different societies. And it is all too typical.

      • It is Government Weakness, Not Taliban Strength, That Condemns Afghanistan

        The speed of the Taliban success has caught the world by surprise – as no doubt it was intended to do. There has been no “decent interval” between the US departure and the Taliban attack, as there was in South Vietnam between the final US withdrawal in 1972 and the defeat of the South Vietnamese government by the North Vietnamese army in 1975.

        The fact that everything the US and Britain fought for in Afghanistan over two decades is collapsing at such a pace underlines the extent of the Western defeat and will reinforce the belief that the era of the US as the sole super power is coming to an end. As with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, failure in Afghanistan has global implications far beyond the country where the war is being waged. In fact the defeat is more complete than that suffered by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but after Soviet withdrawal the Communist government in Kabul survived for several years, in sharp contrast to the present debacle.

      • One Year of Afghanistan War Spending Could Fund Resettlement of 1.2 Million Refugees

        As the Biden administration faces criticism for not doing enough to assist those fleeing Afghanistan, an analysis released Monday showed that the roughly $19 billion the Pentagon budgeted for the U.S. occupation of the country in 2020 alone could cover initial resettlement costs for 1.2 million refugees.

        “We have a duty to save lives—and to do so, we must welcome many, many more refugees as quickly as possible.”—Rep. Cori Bush

      • Corporate Media Are Erasing US’s Long-Term Culpability for Afghanistan War
      • Deadly US Air War in Afghanistan Helped Taliban Gain New Recruits
      • White Feminists Wanted to Invade

        On a March evening in 1999, a wealthy Hollywood socialite named Mavis Leno, the wife of late-night superstar Jay Leno, held a fundraiser to which she invited her rich and/or famous friends. The event was to benefit the Feminist Majority Foundation’s campaign to “End Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan,” which highlighted the barbaric conditions of women living under Taliban rule. (Nowhere, of course, did anyone point out that the Taliban owed its strength at least in part to US foreign policy.) Before long, actresses like Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep signed on and made the issue a cause célèbre.

      • US Policy Toward Afghanistan Was a Recipe for Collapse From the Start
      • A Year’s Worth of Afghanistan War Spending Could Resettle 1.2 Million Refugees
      • The United States, Afghanistan, and the Doctrinal Boundaries of Permissible Reflection

        Hence, while there is contestation in U.S. media and political culture over how to respond to the flood of migrants seeking entrance to the United States on the nation’s southern border, there is little if any serious mainstream media discussion and critique of the long and many-sided role that U.S. capitalist imperialism has played in imposing abject misery on millions of people across Central America and Mexico.

        The US invasion of Vietnam (and Cambodia) and Iraq could be criticized in dominant US media as bad strategy, as mistakes, but never as monumentally mass-murderous, racist, and imperialist war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      • Afghanistan: Taliban Victories Explain the Wisdom of US Withdrawal

        The US occupation’s puppet president, Ashraf Ghani, blames his government’s debacle in progress on the “abrupt” withdrawal of US forces. Apparently 20 years of the US doing his heavy lifting — contributing not just troops but money, training, and support for his own army — followed by 15 months’ notice of withdrawal, then a three-month extension of the withdrawal deadline, just didn’t give him time to prepare.

        American hawks aren’t complaining about the “abruptness” of the withdrawal timeline. They’re appalled that the US would ever, under any circumstances, consider withdrawing at all. The fiction they’d have us subscribe to is that until and unless Afghanistan becomes a western-style “liberal democracy,” withdrawing means that the 2,500 Americans killed there will have “died for nothing.”

      • AOC Stresses Moral Obligation to Afghan Refugees as Fox Revives Racist Tropes
      • If Liz Cheney’s Assigning Blame for an “Epic Failure” in Afghanistan, She Can Start With Her Father

        “This has been an epic failure across the board, one we’re going to pay for for years to come,” declared Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, as she denounced Joe Biden’s decision to complete the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

      • ‘Why Isn’t ‘Afghanistand’ Leading The News?’ Sky’s US Troop Withdrawal Coverage Is Going About As Well As You’d Expect…?

        As distressing scenes emerge from Afghanistan of a panicked population trying to flee slaughter, it’s comforting to know that Sky News has worked out who is to blame. Chris Graham suspends reason and accountability to bring you this special report.

      • Rather Than Focus on How the US Got Out of Afghanistan, Focus on How It Got In

        While politicians and pundits debate “who lost Afghanistan,” that question will likely seem very distant from many Americans’ lives. Indeed, more than two-thirds supported the decision to withdraw. If anything, most Americans might wonder how the United States came to be in the position to “lose” Afghanistan in the first place.

      • Ret. Col. Ann Wright on Reopening U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2001 & Why She Supports Troop Withdrawal

        Retired U.S. Army colonel and former State Department official Ann Wright, who helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in December 2001 and later resigned in protest, says the United States should reopen its embassy now and needs to maintain a diplomatic footprint in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. “If the United States really wants to help the people of Afghanistan … we’ve got to have a presence in Afghanistan,” says Wright.

      • Afghan Scholar: The U.S. Can’t Distance Itself from Chaos Unfolding Now After 20 Years of War

        Thousands of Afghans who worked for the United States and other foreign countries remain stranded in Kabul two days after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. Military flights out of the Kabul International Airport have resumed a day after thousands of Afghans raced to the airport with hopes of leaving the country. President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation and criticized the U.S.-trained Afghan military for collapsing “without trying to fight” the Taliban in many cases. Afghan law professor Haroun Rahimi, who was en route to Kabul when he heard the news of the Taliban takeover and stayed in Turkey, says Biden must take responsibility for the U.S. role in Afghanistan. “He was not willing to accept any responsibility. It’s as if the U.S. was there as a bystander,” says Rahimi. “The way that President Biden was distancing the U.S. from everything that happened over the past two years was just disingenuous and just inaccurate.”

      • War Powers: immense profits for arms dealers, incalculable losses for Australians

        The economic cost to Australia are in the billions of dollars.

        But of course that price tag is nothing compared to the millions of lives that have been lost, lives of Australian defence personnel and civilians.

        The number of defence personnel killed does not even include the 500 veteran suicides in Australia since the start of the Afghanistan war.

      • Profits and poppy: Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade a boon for Taliban

        Despite the threats posed by Afghanistan’s illicit drug business, experts noted, the United States and other nations rarely mention in public the need to address the trade – estimated by the UNODC at more than 80% of global opium and heroin supplies.

      • The Afghanistan War And The Dissenters We Should’ve Listened To

        This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter. Become a paid subscriber and help us expand our coverage of whistleblower stories.

        President Joe Biden delivered a speech where he stood by the withdrawal of United States military forces from Afghanistan, but he crudely blamed the people of Afghanistan for the chaos that has unfolded over the past several days.It was a lie to assert the war in Afghanistan was never about nation-building. Neoconservatives in President George W. Bush’s administration, who launched the war, deployed troops for an open-ended mission to establish a government that could secure the country against the Taliban and be a reliable ally in the region.Biden also lied about opposing a surge in Afghanistan when he vice president in President Barack Obama’s administration. He backed sending an additional 20,000 troops but was opposed to sending more than 20,000 like Obama did.The president had nothing to say about the Pentagon and CIA’s resistance to adequately planning for withdrawal, even though that could have helped avoid some of the scenes of panic which were broadcast.As Matthew Hoh, former State Department official who resigned in protest against Obama’s surge, put it in a CODEPINK webinar, the speech reflected the willingness and ease in which U.S. officials can lie and get away with it. They do not have to fear being called out or confronted. And that has allowed “all wars throughout the Muslim world to continue” and evolve into wars that are hidden and secret. (But of course, not secret and hidden to the people suffering from their impacts.)Plenty of time should be spent sifting through the lies and delusions spread about the Afghanistan War because many of those lies and delusions contributed to a collective shock as the Taliban took control of Kabul. However, just as important are the truths that were uttered by dissenters against the agenda of perpetual war promoted by war hawks and craven politicians.So let’s elevate those voices that were right and remember to seek out such voices next time a presidential administration—with the support of legislators—moves toward launching a war.

    • Environment

      • A Climate Stat We Can’t Afford to Overlook: CEO Pay
      • Postcard From Thermal: Surviving the Climate Gap in Eastern Coachella Valley

        The first thing to know about Thermal, California, is: It’s really damn hot. Already, at this early date in our planetary crisis, 139 days a year are over 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Thermal. Over the next 30 years, temperatures will rise 4 to 5 degrees more, and by the end of the century, more than half the year there will be hotter than 95 and nearly a quarter will be hotter than 112.

        The second thing to know about Thermal, California, is: It’s a cartoonishly horrible expression of a moral and practical issue that exists, at some level, in every society on earth. The climate crisis is an inequality magnifier. The heat and the hurricanes, the flooding and the wildfire smoke, slam down with full force on the disadvantaged. Meanwhile, the more privileged remain comparatively safe, protected by money and power. That difference in suffering is known as the climate gap, defined by researchers in a foundational paper on the subject as “the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color and the poor.”

      • Daily Mail and Telegraph ‘Well Behind the Curve’ on Reporting Climate Change Accurately

        Right-leaning UK newspapers provide some of the least scientifically accurate coverage of climate change among outlets analysed in a new study, with the Daily Mail and Telegraph “well behind the curve”, according to one of its authors. 

        Researchers at the Technological University of Munich, the University of New England, and the University of Colorado Boulder looked at nearly 5,000 articles published between 2005 and 2019 in 17 print media outlets in the English-speaking world. 

        Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

      • Three in four say climate ‘tipping points’ close

        The survey, conducted before the publication of a bombshell UN climate science report last week, showed that more than half (58 percent) of respondents in G20 nations feel very or extremely concerned about the state of the planet.

        Scientists are increasingly concerned that some feedback loops in nature — such as irreversible melting of icesheets or permafrost — may be close to being triggered as mankind’s mind-boggling carbon emissions show no signs of slowing, despite a pandemic.

        The IPCC report warned that Earth is on course to be 1.5C hotter than pre-industrial times around 2030 — a full decade earlier than it projected just three years ago.

      • Refugee Advocates Demand US Stop Deportations to Haiti Following Earthquake

        As Haitians reel amid the aftershocks of a major earthquake, a tropical storm, political upheaval, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, refugee advocates this week are calling on the Biden administration to stop deporting people back to the ravaged nation and to extend its Temporary Protected Status designation.

        “It is unconscionable for the U.S. government to forcibly remove anyone to Haiti right now.”—Blaine Bookey, CRGS

      • Damaged Hospitals in Haiti Struggle to Help Earthquake Survivors as Death Toll Tops 1,400

        We get an update from Les Cayes, Haiti, not far from the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake, as Tropical Storm Grace drenched parts of the country and the death toll has now climbed to more than 1,400, with nearly 7,000 suffering from injuries amid overwhelmed hospitals. The impact from the latest earthquake is “just as great” as the devastation from the 2010 earthquake, says Jacqueline Charles, Haiti and Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald. “Haitians are not sitting around and waiting for international aid. They’re not waiting for their national community to come and rescue them,” Charles says, noting the presence of many makeshift hospitals despite medical supply shortages. She also describes how Haiti is is grappling with the aftermath of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

      • Haitians Ask for Solidarity as Storm Makes Landfall Days After Earthquake
      • Ireland faces future of climate change division

        Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle for its verdant pastures, may soon lose its title as climate change division takes hold.

      • ‘Hard to Imagine Worse Idea’: Biden to Resume Fossil Fuel Leases on Public Lands and Waters

        Climate groups are expressing deep concern following an Interior Department announcement Monday that the Biden administration will resume oil and gas drilling leases on public lands and waters—a practice President Joe Biden vowed to ban during his 2020 run for the White House—in response to a federal court ruling.

        “The climate emergency reality we are facing demands immediate action, not acquiescence.” —Nicole Ghio, Friends of the Earth

      • Opinion | The Glasgow Climate Talks Are a Vital Deadline for Action

        It’s only 76 days until world leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland, for some of the most important international negotiations in history. What happens during the twelve days of the Glasgow Climate Talks (known by climate wonks as COP26) will go a long way to determining the fate of much of the Paris Climate Agreement―which is another way of saying the fate of much of life on earth.

      • Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

        According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2020 was Earth’s second hottest for the past 140 years. Furthermore, 19 of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. There has been a considerable impact of these increasing global warming trends on people of all ages.

        Annual deaths as a result of climate change are estimated in 150,000 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Between 2030 and 2050, this number could be as high as 250,000 additional deaths. Most of those deaths will be due to heat stress, and to malnutrition, malaria and intestinal and respiratory infections, particularly in children from developing countries.

      • Cheap Talk From the Fed on Global Warming?

        My favorite remedy for the bubble was talk, or more specifically, talk from Alan Greenspan and other top Fed officials, about research documenting the housing bubble. The point I tried to make in those years was that the hard data showed we had a bubble. It wasn’t an issue of crystal ball reading.

        We had an unprecedented divergence of house sale prices and rents. While house sale prices were soaring, rents were moving along roughly in line with the overall rate of inflation. At the same time, the vacancy rate for housing units was hitting record highs. These facts were hardly consistent with a story of house prices being driven by an increased demand for housing.

      • Energy

        • Scraping the Bottom of the Sea: the Movement to Stop Deep Sea Mining

          Instead it’s a seasonal rite where fishers paddle out from shore and summon sharks with noise and motion makers—and then they hope, capture them. It’s supposed to ensure shark harvests for peoples who depend in part on this source of protein. It’s actually one of many such ceremonies that take place in this area of the Pacific.

          Although the Kono Village festival hadn’t been observed for years, it has been revived this year with an added fillip. It’s being held to rally the campaign to stop the relentless attempt by deep-pocketed mining investors called the Solwara 1 project to tear up the local sea bed in search of minerals. Local groups such as the West Coast Development Foundation and the Alliance of Solwara Warriors have been battling Solwara for years, but the latest mining push in the form of a new company called DeepGreen has heightened the struggle.

        • One in Three Directors at Australia’s Major Banks Have Ties to Oil, Gas, and Mining

          Nearly one in three directors of Australia’s largest banks have worked for firms operating in the oil, gas and mining industries, DeSmog research has revealed, prompting concerns about a “vested interest” on the banks’ boards that campaigners fear could delay action to address climate change.

          DeSmog’s research analysed director CVs on company profiles, LinkedIn pages, official filings and news clippings to log the past and present work experience of 38 current directors across Australia’s “big four” banks: ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and National Australia Bank (NAB), 

          Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

        • Texas’s Fossil Fuel Elite Is Driving Us to Climate Disaster

          Oil and gas donors have spent $100 million on elections in Texas. Now storms made worse by climate change have flooded the state capitol building in Austin.

      • Wildlife/Nature

      • Overpopulation

        • Greed and Consumption: Why the World is Burning

          In Via Appia, bins are overflowing with garbage, often spilling over into the streets. The smell, especially during Italy’s increasingly sweltering summers, is suffocating.

          Meanwhile, many parts of the country are literally on fire. Since June 15, firefighters have reportedly responded to 37,000 fire-related emergencies, 1,500 of them on July 18 alone. A week later, I drove between Campania, in southern Italy, and Abruzzo, in the center. Throughout the journey, I was accompanied by fire and smoke. On that day, many towns were evacuated, and thousands of acres of forests were destroyed. It will take months to assess the cost of the ongoing destruction, but it will certainly be measured in hundreds of millions of euros.

        • ‘Loudest Alarm Bell Yet’: Unprecedented Water Shortage Declaration for US West

          As the climate emergency offers repeated signals it’s an extreme new world, federal officials on Monday declared a record first “Tier 1″ water shortage for Lake Mead, citing historic drought affecting the Colorado River basin.

          The declaration from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was triggered by its projection that Lake Mead’s elevation at the end of the year will be 1,065.85 feet, an estimate below the 1,075-foot threshold for the water shortage determination.

        • Colorado River: First-ever shortage declared amid record US drought

          Around 40 million people in the US and Mexico rely on the river for water.

          Lake Mead, which was created near Las Vegas after the building of the Hoover Dam, supplies water to Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. The lake is now at its lowest level since it was first formed in the 1930s.

        • Overpopulation and poverty

          Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj Ji postulates that the steadily increasing numbers on our planet may spiral into a serious concern of disastrous proportions.

        • Why we must become fewer people and consume less – and suggestions to improve the situation

          The mainstream media rarely report about the role of population growth in environmental and climate disruptions, but the Op-Ed below was actually published in the high-circulating Swedish Social Democratic newspaper Aftonbladet a week ago. The original Swedish text is available here. The article gives a broad overview, ending with an unusual suggestion. There were 250 on-line comments, and the author expands on his idea after the translated text below.

    • Finance

      • Corporate Property-Buying Spree May Make Housing Even Less Affordable Amid COVID
      • Are Bezos and Musk Launching Us Into a New Space Age, or Just a U.S. Space Grab?

        Behind this apparent show of rich kids playing with their expensive space toys, there are bigger forces at play—namely, that big capital is entering spaceflight, hitherto the exclusive domain of nation-states. While it appears that three men with deep pockets are funding their respective space ventures, the reality is that it is the U.S. taxpayers who are funding these space efforts. In this new space age, the U.S. is also proposing to ride roughshod over the space agreements that space is a “global commons.” The U.S. would like to convert space into its “final frontier,” under the premise that space belongs to any country that can mine its riches.

        Many people take for granted that the U.S. was the winner of the space race against the Soviet Union, since they beat the Soviets to the moon. But what is overlooked in this narrative is that the space competition is not simply about who sent the first man to the moon, but also about who built the better rockets.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • A Right-Wing Call For Rough Men
      • Why Is The Republican Party Obsessed With Social Media?

        “In 1970,” observes Edmund Fawcett in his recent survey of political conservatism, “the best predictor of high conservative alignment in voting was a college education.” “Now,” he notes, “it is the reverse.” Many other statistics sing this tune of political realignment. Whereas the counties Al Gore won in the 2000 election accounted for about half the nation’s economic output, for instance, the counties Joe Biden won in 2020 account for more than 70 percent of it. Many observers have tried to capture this shift’s cultural significance. You could say that the Republicans have rejected Apollo for Dionysus. You could conclude that they have embraced Foucault and postmodern philosophy. Or you could sting to the quick, as David Brooks does, and acknowledge that “much of the Republican Party has become detached from reality.”

      • Governor Cuomo Resigns
      • ‘No Time for Amateur Hour’: Pelosi Signals Plan to Steamroll Right-Wing Dems

        Progressives commended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for signaling late Monday that she does not intend to cede to conservative Democrats who are demanding passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill before any vote on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, a centerpiece of the party’s social spending and climate agenda.

        “This is no time for amateur hour,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly said during a private call with her leadership team, in an apparent reference to the nine conservative House Democrats who are publicly threatening to tank the budget resolution that—if passed—will set the stage for the construction of a sweeping reconciliation bill.

      • West Virginia Activists Are Coming for Joe Manchin

        In 2017, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin dared a group of local activists to mount a primary challenge against him. “What you ought to do is vote me out,” he told the activists, who were asking him to hold a public town hall for his constituents. “Vote me out! I’m not changing. Find somebody else who can beat me and vote me out.”

      • GOP Removes Page Praising Donald Trump’s ‘Historic’ Peace Deal With Taliban

        The Republican National Committee has removed a webpage from 2020 in which it praised Donald Trump for signing a “historic peace agreement with the Taliban.”

        David Weigel, of The Washington Post, was the first to spot that the page had been removed with the web address redirecting to a 404 error page featuring the quip: “It looks like you’re as lost as Biden is.”

      • RNC post on Trump peace deal with Taliban among pre-2021 items offline during site maintenance

        Internet archive site Wayback Machine shows a Sept. 15, 2020, post praising former President Trump’s “historic peace agreement with the Taliban.” The post is no longer on the RNC site, nor are any posts from that section of the website before Jan. 1, 2021.

      • Republicans delete webpage celebrating Trump’s deal with Taliban

        RNC officials did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the deletion.

      • GOP takes down 2020 page touting Trump’s ‘historic peace agreement with the Taliban’

        In researching his new book, Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, Spencer Ackerman spoke in 2020 with retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former Joint Special Operations Command and Afghanistan War commander, and asked him if the War on Terror had been worth it. “It would be impossible to argue that it was,” McChrystal answered, Ackerman writes at The Daily Beast. “The outcome just hasn’t been positive enough to argue that.”

      • Facebook’s Taliban Policy Could Delete a Lot More Than Just Pro-Taliban Content

        Facebook, Twitter, YouTube take different approaches to Taliban content. Facebook considers the Taliban a terrorist group and will continue to ban pro-Taliban content from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, the company confirmed. Content moderators will continue to block not only content from Taliban-associated accounts but all pro-Taliban content, regardless of who is sharing it.

        “The Taliban is sanctioned as a terrorist organization under U.S. law and we have banned them from our services under our Dangerous Organization policies,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “This means we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Bill Maher on free speech, comedy, and his haters

        I recently spoke to Bill Maher, an acclaimed stand-up comedian and the longtime host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, for an episode of Vox Conversations. Maher’s a political comic, and clearly a liberal, but I’ve always enjoyed his work because I’ve never really considered him a partisan, even though conservatives are the butt of most of his jokes. For all of his anti-Republican bits, you also get jabs at the left, like his recent segments on “progressophobia” and “cultural appropriation.”

      • Moscow Court Levels More Fines Against Google For Failing To Delete Banned Content

        A Moscow court has leveled more fines against Google for violating Russia’s rules on banned content.

        The five fives handed to the U.S. technology giant on August 17 amount to a total 14 million rubles ($190,398), a minute fraction of the company’s $180 billion in revenue last year.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Imprisoned Chinese citizen journalist not well, lawyer says

        A Chinese citizen journalist serving a four-year sentence after reporting on the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the city of Wuhan is in ill health after staging a long-running hunger strike, according to a lawyer who spoke with her family.

        Zhang Zhan was hospitalized on July 31 and now weighs less than 40 kilograms (90 pounds), according to a message sent by Zhang Zhan’s mother to a group on Chinese social media. Authorities notified the family that she was in poor health and told them to come to the prison, said Peng Yonghe, a lawyer who spoke with Zhang’s mother about the visit.

        Her parents and brother went to Shanghai on August 2 but were only permitted to speak with her over the phone.

      • U.S. Lawyers Challenging U.K. Decision to Block Julian Assange’s Extradition

        U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

      • Mob attacks journalists covering Istanbul protest and police beat, detain two reporters

        Derya Saadet, a reporter with the leftist news website Sendika.org said that about 20 people charged at the protest and the journalists covering it in an interview with leftist broadcaster Artı TV, which the outlet posted to Twitter. Saadet said in the interview that she fell to the ground but when she tried to get up roughly eight men hit her and kicked her after identifying her as a journalist until other reporters dragged her away.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Is Surviving Assault a Conflict of Interest?

        When sexual assault allegations came out against then–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, former Washington Post political reporter Felicia Sonmez expected to cover the story. But, according to a discrimination lawsuit she recently filed, editors said she couldn’t, partially because she had just made public statements recounting being sexually assaulted the year prior.

      • Illinois Governor Signs Law Banning Cops From Performing Background Searches On Public Speakers

        The Chicago PD has a host of problems. Ones that have gone unaddressed for years and appear to remain unaddressed even after the federal government has been forced to step in. Misconduct goes unpunished, investigations into officers are left uncompleted, the PD buys surveillance tech with forfeiture funds to dodge its oversight, and it operated a CIA-style black site in the city where arrestees and their rights vanished with alarming regularity.

      • Dems Unveil Key Voting Rights Bill Amid Calls to Pass For the People Act

        As Democratic U.S. lawmakers and progressive advocates welcomed Tuesday’s reintroduction of H.R. 4—the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—they stressed that neither it, nor the more sweeping For the People Act, can be passed unless the Senate ends the filibuster.

        “Our demands are clear: Eliminate the filibuster and pass the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.”—Declaration for American Democracy

      • “Nobody is Above the Law” – Except The “Big Boys”

        They should all be charged in varying degrees with manslaughter. Note how the definition fits the facts on the ground:

        “Reckless homicide is a crime in which the perpetrators were aware that their act (or failure to act when there is a legal duty to act) creates significant risk of death or grievous bodily harm in the victim, but ignores the risk and continues to act (or fail to act), and a human death results.”

      • Gig Companies Are Bringing the Disastrous Prop 22 to a State Near You

        The measure follows the Prop 22 model. It proposes to enshrine ride-hail and delivery-app drivers’ status as contractors rather than employees in state law, excluding them from minimum-wage and overtime laws, as well protection against discrimination and injury, among other important hard-won standards. In return, it promises health care stipends and a minimum wage, but only for time spent driving, not the significant amount of time spent in between tasks or rides. In California, a UC Berkeley study found the minimum offered in exchange for permanent exclusion from actual minimum-wage and overtime laws works out to a paltry $5.64. As for the promised health care plan, it is a pittance, should a driver even hit the high hourly hurdle required to qualify.

      • [Old] Forced Marriage Affects All of Us

        The broad impact of forced marriage has fostered a widespread response from within all communities. Tahirih’s Forced Marriage Initiative works alongside committed advocates and survivors from all backgrounds who together are striving to end forced marriage. Many of whom have joined together in a National Forced Marriage Working Group. Together we share best practices for serving clients, collaborate to raise awareness within the mainstream movement to end gender-based violence, and advance public policy to end forced marriage.

      • Woman Survives Attempt on Her Life for Becoming Christian

        Neighbors soon arrived, including the area chairperson, who called Kasasira police. Officer Afande Hire responded quickly and rescued her, Nanzala said. As police took Mugooda away, he was shouting that he would attack again, Hire said.

        “After my release, I will kill Harriet for renouncing Islam, the religion of Allah,” Mugooda said, according to Hire.

        Police have charged Mugooda with threatening violence, an area source said.

      • Mother Beaten Unconscious for Leaving Islam, Marrying Christian

        A mother of four children in eastern Uganda remains in pain after her Muslim father beat her and forced her to take mosquito repellant when he learned that she had left Islam and her Muslim husband and married a Christian, sources said.

      • Afghanistan’s female footballers make tearful calls for help

        Popal stopped playing in 2011 to focus on coordinating the team as a director at the Afghanistan Football Association. But the threats continued and she was eventually forced to flee Afghanistan to seek asylum in Denmark in 2016.

        “My life was in great danger,” she said.

        But she never abandoned the female footballers, helping to expose physical and sexual abuse, death threats and rape that implicated the Afghanistan federation leadership. The corruption in the sport was reflective of the shaky foundations of a country that has deteriorated rapidly after the withdrawal of troops from the U.S.-led mission.

      • The world must not look away as the Taliban sexually enslaves women and girls

        In early July, after Taliban leaders who took control of the provinces of Badakhshan and Takhar issued an order to local religious leaders to provide them with a list of girls over the age of 15 and widows under the age of 45 for “marriage” with Taliban fighters. It’s not yet known whether they’ve complied.

        If these forced marriages take place, women and girls will be taken to Waziristan in Pakistan to be re-educated and converted to “authentic Islam.”

        This order has caused profound fear among women and their families living in these areas and forced them to flee and join the ranks of internally displaced persons, adding to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Afghanistan. In the past three months alone, 900,000 people have been displaced.

      • New Orleans Man Fights the Federal Government for His Life Savings

        Like many others, Kermit lost his job at the historic Roosevelt Hotel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So he decided to turn his part-time scrapping business into a full-time job. But on a trip to Ohio to purchase a tow truck for the business, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents took his life savings. Months later, the federal government filed a civil forfeiture case with flimsy allegations that the money is somehow connected to the drug trade. Kermit’s case demonstrates the abusiveness of civil forfeiture, which requires property owners to effectively prove their own innocence in court.

        “Traveling with cash is not a crime, but DEA and TSA continue to treat innocent travelers like criminals and take their hard-earned money using civil forfeiture,” said IJ Senior Attorney Dan Alban. “These abuses disproportionately harm those of modest means and people of color. Like Kermit, many victims are blue-collar workers who are traveling to buy used vehicles or other equipment for their business from people they’ve never met; they have to pay cash to close the deal.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Zittrain On Internet Rot

        I spent two decades working on the problem of preserving digital documents, especially those published on the Web, in the LOCKSS Program. So I’m in agreement with the overall argument of Jonathan Zittrain’s The Internet Is Rotting, that digital information is evanescent and mutable, and that libraries are no longer fulfilling their mission to be society’s memory institutions. He writes:

        People tend to overlook the decay of the modern web, when in fact these numbers are extraordinary—they represent a comprehensive breakdown in the chain of custody for facts. Libraries exist, and they still have books in them, but they aren’t stewarding a huge percentage of the information that people are linking to, including within formal, legal documents. No one is. The flexibility of the web—the very feature that makes it work, that had it eclipse CompuServe and other centrally organized networks—diffuses responsibility for this core societal function.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Netflix’s Ramped Up War On VPNs Comes With Collateral Damage

        As Netflix has grown internationally, the company has increased its crackdown on “content tourism,” or the act of using a VPN to trick Netflix into letting you watch content specifically licensed for other countries. If you take a look at what’s available per country, the motivation to use a VPN to watch content not available in your market becomes abundantly obvious.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • U.S. trade agency finds Google infringed five Sonos patents

            A U.S. trade judge ruled on Friday that Alphabet’s Google infringed five patents belonging to Sonos that concern smart speakers and related technology, a decision that could lead to an import ban.

            The brief ruling from Charles Bullock, the chief administrative law judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission, did not explain why Google’s sale of the products violated a 1930 federal tariff law, commonly known as Smoot-Hawley, designed to prevent unfair competition.

          • U.S. trade judge finds Google infringed five Sonos patents

            Friday’s ruling is subject to review by the full ITC, scheduled for Dec. 13 according to the commission’s website.

            The ITC case is part of an array of litigation between the two companies, including cases in California, Texas, France, Germany and the Netherlands, according to regulatory filings.

      • Copyrights

        • Gen Saleh’s empty gift to artistes, list of rights for music industry

          The truth is, their assertion is based on a deliberately wrong interpretation of the copyright law in regards to collecting societies under the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006, and the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Regulations of 2010.

          The law states, in part, that only one licensing agency is mandated to manage a specific bundle or set of rights associated with any given artisan sector, a phrase that is amateurishly understood by UPRS to refer to a monopoly of management, which is false.

          The bundling does not mean the issuance of performing rights licences in a given artisan sector should monopolistically be under one public performance licenser, but rather it is meant to parcel up the rights of related entities within a given artisan sector for ease of management.

        • Reflections from my first year as Creative Commons’ CEO

          However, as I sit and write this reflection, I know for so many in our global community and network that our thoughts and prayers are with the women and girls in Afghanistan with whom I want to express my solidarity. I sincerely hope the international community will do all that it can to support women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their basic human rights against a backdrop of chaos, violence and uncertainty. 

        • Techdirt Podcast Episode 294: When Your Art Projects Keep Getting Cease & Desist Letters

          We’re continually amazed that so many companies still think they can get away with abusing the law to take down parodies, satire, and criticism without invoking the Streisand Effect and making things worse on themselves. One person who has a lot of experience being on the receiving end of these foolish threats is artist and culture hacker Danielle Baskin, whose recent Brand-Aid project is just the latest in a series of works that drew the ire of Johnson & Johnson. This week, Baskin joins us on the podcast to discuss what it’s like when your art is constantly hit with demands to cease and desist.

        • The Conservative Election Platform: Freedom of Expression Commitment Tainted By Support for Payments for Links, Restrictions on Fair Dealing

          Given the rest of the platform, the Conservatives could have recommended pro-innovative copyright reforms such as the right to repair to support the agriculture sector, an exception for AI, limitations on digital lock rules, and the repeal of crown copyright. Instead, they bizarrely supports link taxes and restrictive fair dealing, both of which would have a negative impact on the very freedom of expression the platform otherwise supports.

        • Federal Court Orders Pirate Box Sellers To Pay US$23.6m in Copyright Damages

          Bell Canada, Videotron, Group TVA and Rogers Communications have been awarded in excess of US$23.6m in copyright damages by a judge at Canada’s Federal Court. The long-running case was filed against retailers involved in the distribution of set-top boxes configured to access TV content, without compensating the relevant rightsholders.

        • Amazon, Facebook and Google Paid Millions to Pirates, Study Finds

          A new report published by the Digital Citizens Alliance suggests that pirates sites earn more than a billion dollars in revenue per year, while pirate apps are good for another quarter. Part of the money comes from big brands such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. While Amazon appears to take the problem seriously, the report sees plenty of room for improvement at Google’s end.

        • Court Urders Injunction Against RomUniverse To Permanently Shut Down, Destroy Nintendo ROMs

          What a ride for RomUniverse and its owner, Matthew Storman. By way of background, 2019 saw Nintendo start an all out assault on ROM sites, websites where users could download ROMs of old Nintendo games to play on emulators. When the company set its eyes on RomUniverse, Storman attempted to crowdfund a legal defense, which failed, only to represent himself in court and make a lame argument that somehow first sale doctrine allowed him to commit mass copyright infringement. When that all failed miserably and RomUniverse lost in court, Storman was ordered to pay $2.1 million in damages in monthly $50 installments. He failed to make even those payments.

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  3. Links 26/9/2021: Mozilla Spends on PR, OpenMandriva Outsourcing to Microsoft

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  4. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, September 25, 2021

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  5. Links 25/9/2021: GNU/Linux Recognition in Mainstream Media and Wine-Staging 6.18

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  9. Virtual Oversight

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