09.16.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 16/9/2021: KStars 3.5.5 and Chafa 1.8

Posted in News Roundup at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux kernel minimum compiler raised to GCC 5.1, allowing potential C11 use

        Linux creator and maintainer Linus Torvalds has merged a late change to the forthcoming 5.15 kernel code that raises the minimum compiler from GCC 4.9 to 5.1 – which may in future enable use of an updated version of the C programming language, C11.

        Previously, the minimum version of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) was 4.9, for which the first release arrived in 2014. The change to 5.1 was proposed by Google’s Nick Desaulniers, who works on compiling the kernel with Clang, to simplify code required to work around errors caused by missing compiler features.

        “Raising the minimum supported versions allows us to remove all of the fallback helpers for !COMPILER_HAS_GENERIC_BUILTIN_OVERFLOW, instead dispatching the compiler builtins,” he explained.

      • #heiseshow: 30 years of Linux – an unusual success story

        Linux celebrates its 30th birthday: On September 17, 1991, Linus Torvalds put the first version of his operating system kernel online, a good four weeks after he had made his work on it public. To this day, the free operating system has become one of the most important pillars in the software world. Torvalds still has the development firmly under control and, thanks to some peculiarities of Linux, can fall back on an impressive arsenal of helpers who keep adding new features. At the same time, everything runs as predictable as clockwork. Meanwhile, the size of the kernel continues to grow. In a new episode of the #heiseshow we talk to our expert Thorsten Leemhuis about the importance of Linux and how it will continue in the foreseeable future.

      • What’s New in Linux Kernel 5.14: 8 Major Improvements

        Linux kernel 5.14 has been released with a plethora of new features, including core scheduling and support for Raspberry Pi 400.

        We often refer to Linux as an operating system, but really, it’s just the kernel. And said kernel has reached version 5.14, expanding what hardware you can now power with free and open-source software and the things you can do on said devices.

        As often happens, this release removes tens of thousands of lines of code, this time by dropping legacy IDE support. Nonetheless, this kernel still contains more lines of code than the last due to all of the additions. Here are some of the highlights…

      • More IOPS with BIO caching

        Once upon a time, block storage devices were slow, to the point that they often limited the speed of the system as a whole. A great deal of effort went into carefully ordering requests to get the best performance out of the storage device; achieving that goal was well worth expending some CPU time. But then storage devices got much faster and the equation changed. Fancy I/O-scheduling mechanisms have fallen by the wayside and effort is now focused on optimizing code so that the CPU can keep up with its storage. A block-layer change that was merged for the 5.15 kernel shows the kinds of tradeoffs that must be made to get the best performance from current hardware.

        Within the block layer, an I/O operation is represented by struct bio; an instance of this structure is usually just called a “BIO”. Contained within a BIO are a pointer to the relevant block device, a description of the buffer(s) to be transferred, a pointer to a function to call when the operation completes, and a surprising amount of ancillary information. A BIO must be allocated, managed, and eventually freed for every I/O operation executed by the system. Given that a large, busy system with fast block devices can generate millions of I/O operations per second (IOPS), huge numbers of BIOs will be going through this life cycle in a constant stream.

      • Not-so-anonymous virtual memory areas

        Computing terminology can be counterintuitive at times, but even a longtime participant in the industry may have to look twice at the notion of named anonymous memory. That, however, is just the concept that this patch set posted by Suren Baghdasaryan proposes to add. There are, it seems, developers who find the idea useful enough to not only overcome the initial cognitive dissonance that comes with it, but also to resurrect an eight-year-old patch to get it into the kernel.

        Memory used by user space is divided into two broad categories: file-backed and anonymous. A file-backed page of memory has a direct correspondence to a page in a file in persistent storage; when the page is clean, its contents are identical to what is found on disk. An anonymous page, instead, is not associated with a file in the filesystem; these pages hold a process’s data areas, stacks, and so on. If an anonymous page must be written to persistent storage (to reclaim the page for another user, usually), space must be allocated in the swap area to hold its contents.

        Whether a given process’s memory use is dominated by file-backed or anonymous pages varies from one workload to the next. In many cases, the bulk of a process’s pages will be anonymous; this, it seems, is more likely in workloads with a lot of cloud-computing clients, which tend not to use many local files. Android devices are one place where this sort of behavior can be found. If one is trying to optimize the memory usage of such a workload, anonymous pages can pose a challenge; since the pages are anonymous, with no information about how they were created, it is difficult to know what any given anonymous page is being used for.

      • 5.15 Merge window, part 1

        As of this writing, 3,440 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.15 development cycle. A mere 3,440 patches may seem like a slow start, but those patches are densely populated with significant new features. Read on for a look at what the first part of the 5.15 merge window has brought.

      • Early Patches Bring BPF To The Linux Scheduler – Phoronix

        The latest area where BPF is looking to expand within the Linux kernel is its CFS scheduler.

        Roman Gushchin of Facebook published an initial patch series for providing initial BPF support within the Linux CFS scheduler as a way for external code to safely alter select kernel decisions.

    • Applications

      • Chafa 1.8: Terminal graphics with a side of everything

        The Chafa changelog was growing long again, owing to about half a year’s worth of slow accretion. Hence, a release. Here’s some stuff that happened.

        High-end protocols

        With existing choices of the old text mode standby and its friend, the most unreasonably efficient sixel encoder known to man, I threw Kitty and iTerm2 on the pile, bringing our total number of output formats to four. I think that’s all the terminal graphics anyone could want (unless you want ReGIS; in which case, tough tty).

        Moar terminals

        Modern terminal emulators are generally less fickle than their pre-y2k ancestors. However, sometimes it takes a little sleuthing to figure out which extended features might be hiding behind e.g. some mysterious xterm-256color façade so we can do the right thing.

        [...]

        Chafa’s supported this kind of output for a long time (-c none –symbols braille), but in some circumstances it could replace cells having identical foreground and background colors with a hardcoded U+0020 as an optimization. This could result in inconsistent spacing, making braille (and probably other symbol combinations) less useful. Fortunately the issue is now a thing of the past; the latest version will instead use a visually blank symbol from the user’s symbol set, falling back to the lowest-coverage symbol it can find.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • The alias Linux Command

        Hello friends. Using the Linux terminal is not as complex as many would have us believe. But sometimes we indeed have to get used to it a little bit. On the other hand, many Linux professionals use the terminal on a fairly continuous basis and require some kind of help. Today we are going to talk about the alias command with which you can adapt the terminal to you and your workflow a bit more.

      • How to Force fsck on Reboot

        Fsck command is used to check filesystem consistency in Linux and Unix-like operating systems. On the system, fsck runs either automatically or manually. The filesystem shouldn’t be mounted while running the fsck. We can force fsck to run on reboot for both root and non-root filesystems.

      • How to install RPG Maker XP on a Chromebook

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

      • Add Raspberry Pi repository in Ubuntu – blackMORE Ops

        I installed Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Server on my Raspberry Pi 4 8 GB and needed to install raspi-config. raspi-config is a simple (if long and involved) shell script to configure Pi hardware and Raspbian settings. It is just a front end to the underlying system commands. Found that I need to add Raspberry Pi repository in Ubuntu.

        In Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, /etc/debian_version is bullseye/sid, so it seems to be based on bullseye (Debian 11.0). Since http://archive.raspberrypi.org/ does not have bullseye, I initially chose buster. Then I changed that to bullseye.

      • How to Create a Large 1GB or 10GB File in Linux

        Before we dive into the procedural steps needed to create large files in a Linux operating system environment, we must answer the WHY before we dwell on the HOW.

        WHY create large files on a Linux operating system environment? Afterward, HOW do you create large files on a Linux operating system environment?

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KStars v3.5.5 Released!

          KStars v3.5.5 is released on September 16th for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. This release includes a number of new features and bug fixes.

          Let’s start with the highly successful Google Summer of Code project: KStars Deep-Sky-Objects Overhaul by Valentin Boettcher. This is mostly backend plumping and refactoring to enable KStars to process very large DSO catalogs without impacting memory or processor utilization. This required the development of a new Python-based catalog generator that consolidates and de-duplicates deep sky catalogs in a form usable by KStars.

        • KDE Plasma 5.23 “25th Anniversary Edition” Enters Public Beta Testing, Here’s What’s New

          Since KDE Plasma 5.23 will be released in celebration of the project’s 25th anniversary, it’s obvious that it will be a great release that introduces better support for the next-generation Wayland display server, making Plasma desktop more stable, faster, and reliable.

          The Plasma Wayland improvements include the middle-click paste and drag and drop items between native Wayland and XWayland apps, the ability to adjust the Intel GPU driver’s Broadcast RGB settings, the ability to change the screen resolution when run in a virtual machine, and better touchpad gestures.

    • Distributions

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fueling automotive innovation through open source collaboration

          Technology is moving at warp speed and major technology trends, such as personalization and mobile connectivity, are impacting multiple industries. Today’s announcement from Arm is just one example.

          It’s no secret that digital transformation happens faster in some industries, such as mobile and gaming, than others, such as automotive and manufacturing.

          Faster advancements are often attributed to the adoption of a modernized infrastructure platform and cloud-native technology. At Red Hat, we see a tremendous opportunity to help the industries that have not benefited as much from digital transformation to accelerate innovation.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FOSS for amateur radio

        Amateur (“ham”) radio operators have been experimenting with ways to use computers in their hobby since PCs became widely available—perhaps even before then. While many people picture hams either talking into a microphone or tapping a telegraph key, many hams now type on a keyboard or even click buttons on a computer screen to make contacts. Even hams who still prefer to talk or use Morse code may still use computers for some things, such as logging contacts or predicting radio conditions. While most hams use Windows, there is no shortage of ham radio software for Linux.

        Utilities

        HamClock, as its name implies, has a primary function as a clock, but it has several other features as well. It shows a world map, and the user can click anywhere on the map to see the current time and weather conditions at that location. It also shows radio-propagation predictions, which indicate the probability that a ham’s signals will be received at any particular location on Earth. These predictions are available in numerical form and as map overlays. In addition to propagation predictions, HamClock provides graphs and images indicating solar activity such as sunspots, which strongly affect radio propagation.

      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

          • Perl Monthly Report – August

            Well, right from day one, I have been getting to work on something I never worked on before. To be honest with you, I was expecting to fight with good old CGI ridden code mostly. I find myself lucky to have such a great supporting team. Right now I am playing with Elastic Search and I am enjoying it. Thanks to CPAN for such a cool library, Search::Elasticsearch.

        • Python

          • Applying PEP 8

            Two recent threads on the python-ideas mailing list have overlapped to a certain extent; both referred to Python’s style guide, but the discussion indicates that the advice in it may have been stretched further than intended. PEP 8 (“Style Guide for Python Code”) is the longstanding set of guidelines and suggestions for code that is going into the standard library, but the “rules” in the PEP have been applied in settings and tools well outside of that realm. There may be reasons to update the PEP—some unrelated work of that nature is ongoing, in fact—but Pythonistas need to remember that the suggestions in it are not carved in stone.

        • Rust

  • Leftovers

    • The Resilience of India Walton

      India Walton agreed to meet me at Hansa, the bustling year-old coworking space in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., where her campaign office is located. Once a warehouse used to store truck parts, the 32,000-square-foot, two-story, glass-and-brick building is now bright, airy, and filled with green plants and eager young professionals. A few minutes after I arrived, Walton returned from a previous engagement; her phone pressed to her ear. A 39-year-old Black woman with a youthful face and close-cropped hair, she wore a striking deep-green dress with silver-and-gold summer sandals.

    • A perfect storm for container shipping

      Trains, planes and lorries can only do so much, especially when it comes to shifting goods half-way around the planet. Container ships lug around a quarter of the world’s traded goods by volume and three-fifths by value. The choice is often between paying up and suffering delays at ports stretched to capacity, or not importing at all. Globally 8m TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) are in port or waiting to be unloaded, up by 10% year-on-year. At the end of August over 40 container ships were anchored off Los Angeles and Long Beach. These serve as car parks for containers, says Eleanor Hadland of Drewry, a shipping consultancy, in order to avoid clogging ports that in turn lack trains or lorries to shift goods to warehouses that are already full. The “pinch point”, she adds, “is the entire chain”.

      For years container shipping kept supply chains running and globalisation humming. With shops’ shelves fully stocked and products from the other side of the world turning up promptly on customers’ doorsteps, the industry drew barely any outside attention. Shipping was “so cheap that it was almost immaterial”, says David Kerstens of Jefferies, a bank. But now, as disruption heaps upon disruption, the metal boxes are losing their reputation for low prices and reliability. Few experts think things will get better before early next year. The prolonged dislocation could even hasten a reordering of global trade.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The Case for Legalizing Psychedelics

        This movement may cause many boomers to smirk as they conjure up memories of Dr. Timothy Leary, the iconic advocate for using psychedelics. He coined the phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Such skepticism also greeted the advocacy for legalizing marijuana, renamed more accurately as cannabis. In the sixties, it was unthinkable that possessing cannabis would be legal.

        Fifty years ago, the jails were filled with Black citizens for smoking cannabis. Even in liberal California, after forty years of anti-cannabis laws, Black people were imprisoned ten times more often for possessing marijuana than other racial groups. As recently as 2010, cannabis arrests accounted for 52 percent of all drug arrests. Nearly eight million people were arrested on pot charges from 2000 to 2010, with cannabis arrests accounting for 52 percent of all drug arrests. And 88 percent of those arrests were for simple possession.

      • Global Vaccine Inequity Could Make Migration Harder Than Ever

        Despite the fact that the coronavirus is still rapidly spreading across the United States, a semblance of pre-pandemic life has returned. Similar scenes of everyday life can also be seen across Europe, which has caught up to the US in terms of vaccinations and has done a better job of controlling the spread of the virus. What has not returned to its (already abysmal) normal, but instead has gotten worse, are the draconian restrictions nations are imposing on migrants and refugees across the world, using the pandemic as a pretext to keep them out of new homes where they might find safety. As the West debates the merits of using vaccine passports domestically, we are overlooking the ways in which the pandemic and global vaccine inequity are further restricting the movement of migrants and asylum seekers globally.

      • Opinion | 664,000: In America, Fucking Remember
      • Opinion | Lack of Trusted Authority Is Why Covid-19 Is Kicking Our Butts

        We have faced tough times before.

      • Big Pharma Secrets Revealed as Group Uncovers Portion of Pfizer Vaccine Recipe

        While combing through a leaked contract published earlier this year by an Italian broadcaster, the U.S.-based consumer advocacy group Public Citizen identified a component of Pfizer-BioNTech’s secretive coronavirus vaccine recipe—a discovery that could help manufacturers around the world replicate the lifesaving shot.

        “This info can help mRNA vaccine scientists by illustrating the kinds of requirements they need to meet critical quality standards.”—Zain Rizvi, Public Citizen

      • Pharma-Funded Democrats Are Opposing a Crucial Drug-Pricing Plan
      • ‘Call Them Now’: Ire Aimed at 3 Democrats Endangering Plan to Lower Drug Prices

        Update:

        The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday failed to adopt Democrats’ plan to let Medicare broadly negotiate prescription drug prices after three Democrats—Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Scott Peters of California—voted no.

      • Over Half of States Have Rolled Back Public Health Powers During Pandemic
      • 1 in 500 Americans Has Died From COVID, New Analysis Shows
      • How US Media Misrepresent the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Laboratories and Safety Protocols

        Editor’s Note | We recognize that COVID-19 coverage can inflame passions and is prone to controversy. In the past, MintPress News has published varying viewpoints on the topic (including ones that stand in contrast to those represented in the following article). We strive to provide well-researched articles representing a diversity of views to our readers in the interest of fostering healthy discussion in the public interest.

      • Astroturf and think tanks manufacturing doubt about COVID-19 public health interventions

        This particular topic serves as an excellent followup to my post from Monday about how the Republican Party has now gone completely over to the Dark Side and undeniably become the antivaccine party. I didn’t plan it this way. However, in a nice bit of timing, late Monday The BMJ published an op-ed by Gavin Yamey, Professor of Global Health and Public Policy, Duke University; Director, Center for Policy Impact in Global Health, Duke Global Health Institute, and a certain author who should be familiar to readers of this blog. It’s entitled Covid-19 and the new merchants of doubt, and it’s about how certain right wing think tanks and astroturf groups have done their best to cast doubt on the science behind public health interventions being employed by governments to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the damage from it. Some readers might view it as shameless self-promotion for me to write about this op-ed, but what is a personal blog for, if not for the occasional lapse into shameless self-promotion, particularly when it fits in so well with a recent post on a related topic?

      • A Boy Went to a COVID-Swamped ER. He Waited for Hours. Then His Appendix Burst.

        What first struck Nathaniel Osborn when he and his wife took their son, Seth, to the emergency room this summer was how packed the waiting room was for a Wednesday at 1 p.m.

        The Florida hospital’s emergency room was so crowded there weren’t enough chairs for the family to all sit as they waited. And waited.

      • Why I decided to build my own vaccine booking search engine instead of using the Government’s one

        We’re about to reach 200 days into the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia. This month is expected to be huge for vaccinations, with weekly supplies of Pfizer vaccine in the millions and Moderna vaccines arriving later in the month.

        Despite this, the official Government COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker and “Vaccine Clinic Finder” continues to have significant data challenges resulting in a poor user experience. While the tool makes it easy to find clinics nearby, it only shows booking availability information for some clinics. And when it does show availability information, it isn’t always correct.

      • Members of Congress Request Facebook Halt ‘Instagram For Kids’ Plan Following Mental Health Research Report

        Members of Congress have sent a letter Wednesday to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging the company to stop its plan to launch a new platform for kids, following a report by the Wall Street Journal that cites company documents that reportedly shows the company knows its platforms harm the mental health of teens.

        The letter, signed by Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, Kathy Castor, D-Florida, and Lori Trahan, D-Massachusetts, also asks Facebook to provide answers by October 6 to questions including whether the company has, and who, reviewed the mental health research as cited in the Journal report; whether the company will agree to abandon plans to launch a new platform for children or teens; and when the company will begin studying its platforms’ impact on the kids’ mental health.

      • Congress will investigate claims that Instagram harms teens

        “It is clear that Facebook is incapable of holding itself accountable. The Wall Street Journal’s reporting reveals Facebook’s leadership to be focused on a growth-at-all-costs mindset that valued profits over the health and lives of children and teens,” the lawmakers said. “When given the opportunity to come clean to us about their knowledge of Instagram’s impact on young users, Facebook provided evasive answers that were misleading and covered up clear evidence of significant harm.”

      • Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Blasted for ‘Unconscionable Profits,’ Monopolies, and Low Taxes

        The People’s Vaccine Alliance on Wednesday called out BioNTech, Moderna, and Pfizer for “reaping astronomical and unconscionable profits due to their monopolies of mRNA Covid vaccines,” developed with the help of public funding, while the two U.S. firms paid little in taxes.

        “These pharmaceutical companies prioritize their own profits by enforcing their monopolies and selling to the highest bidder.”—Robbie Silverman, Oxfam America

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Customer Care Giant TTEC Hit By Ransomware

          TTEC, [NASDAQ: TTEC], a company used by some of the world’s largest brands to help manage customer support and sales online and over the phone, is dealing with disruptions from a network security incident resulting from a ransomware attack, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

        • Forced Entry: NSO Group Spies Secretly Seized Control of Apple Devices by Exploiting Flaw in Code

          Apple has released an emergency software update to fix a security flaw in its iPhones and other products researchers found was being exploited by the Israeli-based NSO Group to infect the devices with its Pegasus spyware. The security exploit exposes “widespread abuse that we have associated with NSO Group and other companies like it,” says Ronald Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which discovered the security flaw. “This is … the most important crisis around global civil society right now.” Over 1.65 billion Apple products in use around the globe have been vulnerable to the spyware since at least March.

        • General promises ‘surge’ to fight ransomware attacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency (NSA), is working to “surge” efforts to respond to the mounting ransomware attacks on critical U.S. organizations.

        • General promises US ‘surge’ against foreign cyberattacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

          In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Gen. Paul Nakasone broadly described “an intense focus” by government specialists to better find and share information about cyberattacks and “impose costs when necessary.” Those costs include publicly linking adversarial countries to high-profile attacks and exposing the means by which those attacks were carried out, he said.

        • Security

          • Kali Linux 2021.3 Brings in Kali Live VM Support, New Tools, and Other Improvements

            Kali Linux is one of the best Linux distributions for penetration testing. It is based on Debian, but it may not be a suitable replacement for your full-fledged desktop operating system.

            The latest 2021.3 release brings some significant feature additions and improvements onboard. Let us check them out.

          • Critical Flaws Discovered in Azure App That Microsoft Secretly Installs on Linux VMs [Ed: Microsoft installing back doors in GNU/Linux]

            Microsoft on Tuesday addressed a quartet of security flaws as part of its Patch Tuesday updates that could be abused by adversaries to target Azure cloud customers and elevate privileges as well as allow for remote takeover of vulnerable systems.

            The list of flaws, collectively called OMIGOD by researchers from Wiz, affect a little-known software agent called Open Management Infrastructure that’s automatically deployed in many Azure services…

          • Malicious Linux version of Cobalt Strike hacking tool found [Ed: It is more about Windows than "Linux"]
          • “Secret” Agent Exposes Azure Customers To Unauthorized Code Execution

            Supply chain cyberattacks have disrupted everyday life and dominated headlines this year. One of the biggest challenges in preventing them is that our digital supply chain is not transparent. If you don’t know what’s hidden in the services and products you use every day, how can you manage the risk?

            Wiz’s research team recently discovered a series of alarming vulnerabilities that highlight the supply chain risk of open source code, particularly for customers of cloud computing services.

            The source of the problem is a ubiquitous but little-known software agent called Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) that’s embedded in many popular Azure services.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Surveillance Self-Defense Guides Now Available in Burmese

              The last year has seen significant numbers of protests by the people of Myanmar against human and digital rights violations by the military, prompted by the recent military coup in the country. Fighting back against human rights violations shouldn’t require you to have a computer science degree, and so our SSD guides help explain, in clear language, how to protect yourself from digital surveillance and unpack key concepts that make doing so easier. These guides offer overviews and recommendations for digital security protection during protests, network circumvention, using VPNs and Tor, using Signal, social media safety, and so on. 

              We hope these resources will help those in Myanmar access reliable, up-to-date digital security guidance during a high-stress time, localized to the unique considerations in Myanmar. In addition to this project, we also plan to translate our new mobile phone privacy guide into multiple languages, including Turkish, Russian, and Spanish. We’d like to thank the National Democratic Institute for providing funds for these translations, and Localization Lab for their efforts in completing them.

            • London’s Top Cop Says ‘Big Tech,’ Encryption Are Letting The Terrorists Win

              Dame Cressida Dick — the former National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism — has had an op-ed published by The Telegraph that leverages the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to advocate for less privacy and security for routine targets of terrorist attacks: everyday people without powerful government positions.

            • The Federal Government Just Can’t Get Enough of Your Face

              But 27 current federal systems are not enough to satisfy these agencies. The DOJ, DHS, and Department of the Interior also accessed FRT systems “owned by 29 states and seven localities for law enforcement purposes.” Federal agencies further accessed eight commercial FRT systems, including four agencies that accessed the infamous Clearview AI. That’s all just current use. Across federal agencies, there are plans in the next two years to develop or purchase 13 more FRT systems, access two more local systems, and enter two more contracts with Clearview AI.

              As EFF has pointed out again and again, government use of FRT is anathema to our fundamental freedoms. Law enforcement use of FRT disproportionately impacts people of color, turns us all into perpetual suspects, and increases the likelihood of false arrest. Law enforcement agencies have also used FRT to spy on protestors.

              Clearview AI, a commercial facial surveillance entity used by many federal agencies, extracts the faceprints of billions of unsuspecting people, without their consent, and uses them to provide information to law enforcement and federal agencies. They are currently being sued in both Illinois state court and federal court for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Illinois’ BIPA requires opt-in consent to obtain someone’s faceprint. Recently, an Illinois state judge allowed the state case to proceed, opening a path for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  to fight against Clearview AI’s business model, which trades in your privacy for their profit. You can read the opinion of the judge here, and find EFF’s two amicus briefs against Clearview AI here and here. 

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Messianic Failure: Pursuing the GWOT Jabberwock

        The gooey name GWOT, otherwise known as the Global War on Terrorism, is some two decades old, and it has revealed little by way of benefit for anybody other than military industrialists, hate preachers and jingoes.  For its progenitors in the administration of President George W. Bush, motivated by the attacks of September 11, 2001 on US soil, few of its aims were achieved.

        The central feature to the war, which deserves its place of failure alongside such disastrously misguided concepts as the war on drugs, was its school boy incoherence.  It remained, and to an extent remains, a war against tactics, a misguided search reminiscent of the hunt for Lewis Carroll’s nonsense beast, the Jabberwock.  As with any such wars, it demands mendacity, flimsy evidence if, in fact, it needs any evidence at all.

      • The Debacle of “Nation Building” in Afghanistan and Iraq

        Bolton, one of the hardline conservatives who served as a high level official in the George W. Bush administration that invaded Afghanistan in response to 9/11, was engaging in what Americans call “Monday morning quarterbacking,” or declaiming in all-knowing fashion what “ought” to have been done. But it was all wishful thinking.

        Like all other imperial powers, the US could not just wreck a society and engage in a purely military occupation of Afghanistan. Like all of them, it had to reconstruct a society, if only to reduce the costs of military occupation and give its venture a patina of legitimacy among both Afghans and Americans. And, like all, it could not help but attempt to reconstruct a society in its own image, even if the result was in reality a disfigured or distorted copy of itself.

      • Though Cracks Appear, Empire Remains in the DNA of the U.S.

        The world is in a big shake-up, and U.S. hegemony is in decline. Indeed, a new more diversified global order is emerging. But end of empire? Not quite yet. Empire is the U.S. way of life, deep in the national DNA, as historian William Appleman Williams noted many decades ago. It did not start in when World War II ended in 1945, or 1898 when the U.S. took over Spain’s colonial empire. The U.S. was an empire based on conquest and expansion from the first colonial settlements before its creation as a nation-state. It has been expanding as an empire ever since. The U.S. will continue to act as an empire at home and abroad unless and until profound changes are made in the U.S. itself, or it falls apart as a consequence of its imperial ways.

        The 9-11 attacks 20 years ago today, themselves blowback from imperial wars, spurred a “war on terror” that led to those lost wars, soaking up trillions that might have otherwise gone to meet critical needs and heal divisions in U.S. society. The wars, grounded in lies, along with the erosion of civil rights under wartime conditions, have diminished the credibility of national institutions and their ability to create national unity. Osama Bin Laden claimed that the attacks were meant to draw the U.S. into bankrupting wars that would cause its collapse, just as the Soviet Union’s Afghanistan defeat led to its collapse. Whether or not that’s true, the wars have certainly eroded the U.S. internally and internationally.

      • 20 Years Later, Undocumented Immigrants Who Aided 9/11 Recovery & Cleanup Efforts Demand Recognition

        Following the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, advocates are calling for lawmakers to establish a pathway for legal residency for as many as 2,000 immigrant responders and cleanup workers at ground zero. An estimated 6,000 undocumented immigrants took part in the recovery efforts after 9/11, but many didn’t seek medical help or went uncounted for their symptoms because they feared deportation. Undocumented workers exposed themselves to toxins and “sacrificed their lives” to assist with the cleanup, and, 20 years later, still lack recognition and medical aid, says Rosa Maria Bramble Caballero, a licensed clinical social worker who has helped immigrant 9/11 workers for 15 years. A path to citizenship would “not only acknowledge their work, but also help them have other options of other types of work,” Caballero says. “We have not really honored them as we should.”

      • Why I’m Still Not Convinced by 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

        In the two years since, I have learned more about both the attacks themselves and those who believe that they were some kind of “inside job.” For those of you reading who are expecting a full-blown recantation, I am afraid you will be disappointed. I still am not persuaded by the major pillars of the 9/11 Truth movement. But I am willing to offer some nuance as well as an appeal to those who still are.

        Three worthwhile distinctions

      • The 2nd Afghan War and Retreat from Central Asia

        There were actually two Afghan wars. The first began within a few weeks of the 9-11 tragedy, when the US was attacked by Al Qaeda with the assistance of elements of the Saudi Arabia ruling elite.

        In the first war US forces invaded Afghanistan behind the excuse its mission and goal was to capture Bin Laden and deny Al Qaeda a base in that country, even though there is ample evidence the Taliban had offered to kick Bin Laden out in exchange for no US invasion. The Bush administration rejected the Taliban offer because its actual mission and objective was always greater than just capturing Bin Laden, or even occupying Afghanistan.

      • Blinken and Biden Are Right: Afghanistan Is Not Saigon

        The collapse of the American project in Afghanistan may fade fast from the news here, but don’t be fooled. It couldn’t be more significant in ways few in this country can even begin to grasp.

      • ICC Approves Probe Into ‘Drug War’ Atrocities Carried Out by Duterte Regime

        The International Criminal Court on Wednesday authorized the start of an investigation into possible crimes against humanity committed by the Philippines as part of the brutal “war on drugs” unleashed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

        Philippines-based group In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) welcomed the announcement, saying it “removes all doubt as to the gravity of the crimes committed by President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.”

      • Opinion | No, The World Is Not Welcoming Afghan Refugees as It Should

        Despite the outpouring of international sympathy for Afghans who fled their country after the Taliban takeover last month, it’s by no means certain this will translate into receiving the refuge they are entitled to under international law.D

      • U.S. Drone Killed 10 Afghans, Including Aid Worker & 7 Kids, After Water Jugs Were Mistaken as Bombs

        We speak with reporter Matthieu Aikins about how his investigation for The New York Times found an August 29 U.S. drone strike, which the Pentagon claimed targeted a facilitator with the militant group ISIS-K, actually killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children and Zemari Ahmadi, an Afghan engineer who had worked since 2006 for an American aid group. A review of video evidence by the Times shows Zemari loading canisters of water at the charity’s office, after the Pentagon claimed surveillance video showed Zemari loading what they thought were explosives into a car at an unknown compound earlier in the day. “We put together evidence that showed that what the military interpreted as a series of suspicious moves from the sky was, according to his co-workers and colleagues and video evidence, just an ordinary day for this aid worker,” says Aikins.

      • A Night With Palestine’s Defenders of the Mountain

        Beita, Palestine—The clock is nearing 10 at night. It’s a Sunday evening in August, and the people of this Palestinian village in the northern occupied West Bank are gathering at Mount Sabih, where an illegal settler outpost was erected in early May. They are preparing for what they call the “nightly disruptions,” a resistance ritual that has been unabated and evolving for over a hundred days. Its goal is to sour the settlers’ stay in their lands.

      • US Drone Killed 10 Afghans After Mistaking Water Jugs for Bombs
      • Following Afghanistan Defeat: Can EU Win Own ‘Independence’ from the US?

        When, on September 29, 2020, Macron uttered these words: “We, some countries more than others, gave up on our strategic independence by depending too much on American weapons systems”, the context of this statement had little to do with Afghanistan. Instead, Europe was angry at the bullying tactics used by former US President Donald Trump and sought alternatives to US leadership. The latter has treated NATO – actually, all of Europe – with such disdain, that it has forced America’s closest allies to rethink their foreign policy outlook and global military strategy altogether.

        Even the advent of US President Joe Biden and his assurances to Europe that “America is back” did little to reassure European countries, which fear, justifiably, that US political instability may exist long after Biden’s term in office expires.

      • A Forever Foreign Policy Debate

        Nonetheless, it is important to look at this debate just because it is going on among those to whom policy makers pay attention. And, through such an examination, to realize that any exchange at this level of insiders is unlikely to get at the core problems of U.S. foreign policy.

        Parameters of the Insider Debate

      • Twenty Years In A Security State: After Failing To Stop 9/11 Attacks, FBI Invented Terrorists

        This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter, a project of Shadowproof. Become a paid subscriber and help us expand our work.

        Following the September 11th attacks, an FBI whistleblower accused FBI Headquarters of failing to urgently respond to intelligence that pointed to a terrorism threat. It brought embarrassment to the FBI, and in the months to follow, the FBI transformed into a “preventative crime” agency.

      • Lessons From History: Afghanistan and the Dangerous Afterlives of Identifying Data

        HIIDE, the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, are devices used to collect biometric data like fingerprints and iris scans and store that information on large accessible databases. Ostensibly built in order to track terrorists and potential terrorists, the program also was used to verify the identities of contractors and Afghans working with U.S. forces. The military reportedly had an early goal of getting 80% of the population of Afghanistan into the program. With the Taliban retaking control of the nation, reporting about the HIIDE program prompted fears that the equipment could be seized and used to identify and target vulnerable people. 

        Some sources, including those who spoke to the MIT Technology Review, claimed that the HIIDE devices offered only limited utility to any future regimes hoping to use them and that the data they access is stored remotely and therefore less of a concern. They did raise alarms, however, on the wide-reaching and detailed Afghan Personnel and Pay System (APPS), used to pay contractors and employees working for the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense. This database contains detailed information on every member of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police—prompting renewed fears that this information could be used to find people who assisted the U.S. military or Afghan state-building, policing, and counter-insurgency measures. 

        There has always been concern and protest over how the U.S military used this information, but now that concern takes on new dimensions. This is, unfortunately, a side effect of the collection and retention of data on individuals. No matter how secure you think the data is—and no matter how much you trust the current government to use the information responsibly and benevolently—there is always a risk that either priorities and laws will change, or an entirely new regime will take over and inherit that data. 

      • The Winner in Afghanistan: China

        “Remember, this is not Saigon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a television audience on August 15th, the day the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital, pausing to pose for photos in the grandly gilded presidential palace. He was dutifully echoing his boss, President Joe Biden, who had earlier rejected any comparison with the fall of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, in 1975, insisting that “there’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

        Both were right, but not in the ways they intended. Indeed, the collapse of Kabul was not comparable. It was worse, incomparably so. And its implications for the future of U.S. global power are far more serious than the loss of Saigon.

    • Environment

      • Global Indigenous Coalition Echoes Call to Postpone UN Climate Talks

        Citing the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on native communities and persistent vaccine inequities, a coalition of three leading Indigenous advocacy organizations on Wednesday joined over 1,500 global civil society groups in calling for the postponement of the upcoming United Nations climate summit.

        “The United Kingdom’s actions have been deeply inadequate to assure just and effective participation of our frontline communities.”—Indigenous groups

      • Opinion | Reducing Energy Consumption: The Only Long-Range Solution to Climate Change

        This article is adapted from POWER: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival (New Society Publishers) by Richard Heinberg.

      • Opinion | Beware: Big Oil Lies About the Climate

        The Current Situation

      • New Climate Analysis Shows Near Total Global Failure to Meet 1.5°C Targets

        A new analysis reveals a near total global failure of governments to have climate action and targets on track for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

        Released Wednesday by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the assessment rated just one nation,The Gambia, as “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible,” and found the United States’ overall climate action—despite a welcome “U-turn on climate change” since the Trump administration—to be “insufficient.”

      • To save the planet, cut down on milk as well as meat

        Eating less meat is key to slowing the climate crisis. But if you want to cool the Earth, cut down on milk as well.

      • What’s the worst that could happen?

        Read between the many lines of the nearly 4,000-page IPCC report and you will see that it actually tells five different stories about the future, complete with their own little narratives.

        Here’s the backdrop for these stories: The planet is undergoing a massive, uncontrolled experiment, rapidly revealing what happens when 2.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide per second (and still rising) are added to the atmosphere. All of humanity is participating in this experiment, whether directly contributing to it or feeling its impacts.

        But it’s an immensely frustrating experiment because the subjects (all of us) are constantly messing with the controls. How much more Earth will warm up in the coming century hinges on what people will do. And what people are doing is changing.

      • Opinion | Climate Change Is the Symptom, Capitalism Is the Problem

        Too often climate change is reduced to quantification of greenhouse glasses or melting ice caps. These indicators of climate change are important to verify the existence of the problem, but they are less constructive in helping us understand where the problem of climate change comes from. Understanding the source of climate change means moving beyond the source of GHGs and looking into the power relations that drive capitalist growth.

      • In the Louisiana Bayou, Dolphin Victims of Hurricane Ida Set the Stage for a Political Fight Over Coastal Restoration

        Days after Hurricane Ida roared through coastal Louisiana, sending a 12-foot storm surge rushing across the marshlands south of New Orleans, Plaquemines Parish Fire Department Capt. Kevin Coleman was driving on a coastal road trying to reach his isolated fire station near Myrtle Grove, Louisiana. 

      • It Took a Village of Hippies: the Founding of Greenpeace

        Let’s get one thing out of the way.  The San Francisco Diggers were wrong in 1967: the hippies were not dead; they had just vacated Haight Ashbury.  Bob Hunter put it thusly, “In Vancouver, in 1971, we have the biggest concentration of tree huggers, draft dodgers, shit disturbing unionists, radical students, garbage dump stoppers, freeway fighters, pot smokers, vegetarians, nudists, Buddhists, fish preservationists and back-to-the-landers on the planet. And we are all haunted by the specter of a dead world.”

        There were pockets of hippies across the city and all over the province.  Kitsilano may have been the core community with its head shops and organic food stores; but it was just ‘downtown’.  Any city neighbourhood with cheapish rental housing was infested and parts of the interior like the Slocan Valley had been pretty much overrun.  Critically, there was a sufficient mass to create a sense of community.  And while there is always some risk that once any group of like-minded humans reaches that critical mass it may become dangerously insular; let’s face it, that sense that you are part of something much larger than yourself, “A cog in something turning” as Joni Mitchell had put it, is a potent elixir.

      • Energy

        • Federal Drilling and Fracking Update: Biden Promised a Ban – He’s Doing the Opposite

          During the campaign, Biden made it clear where he stood: “No more drilling on federal lands, period.” From a climate perspective, Biden’s pledge was prudent and necessary; fossil fuel development on federal lands accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

          Since taking office, however, the Biden administration has approved thousands of new oil and gas drilling permits, while simultaneously pursuing a public lands strategy vulnerable to legal challenges. Food & Water Watch has been comprehensively tracking the many pro-fossil fuels statements and decisions made since the start of the administration.

        • Progressive Democrats Set Out to Defund the Fossil Fuel Industry

          Today, Democratic Representatives Mondaire Jones of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan introduced a bill that would require the Federal Reserve to phase out the financing of fossil fuel projects. The legislation, known as the Fossil Free Finance Act, would mandate that big banks and other financial institutions align their financing with the United States’ obligations under the Paris Agreement, prohibiting the financing of all fossil fuel projects after 2030.

        • How to end the American obsession with driving

          Data from the EPA shows that the transportation sector is actually the biggest source of pollution in the US, and that light-duty vehicles (or passenger cars) are responsible for 58 percent of those emissions. Overall, the EPA’s research — and the 2021 study — reinforce the fact that the transportation systems of American cities over-rely on cars in ways that are not sustainable should the US actually want to approach its stated greenhouse gas reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030, a number it has to reach in order to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius or less.

          Reducing driving is difficult, however, because American cities, particularly those across the Southwest, are built for drivers. Biking and walking are often not options, and public transit, where it exists, does not typically serve trips that do not involve going from a city’s outskirts to its downtown or back.

        • Biden’s SEC is ready to regulate cryptocurrency

          The SEC appears to have decided that an upcoming offering from Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, meets its definition of a security. And it’s showing that it will step in and regulate it accordingly — and, by extension, regulate the rest of the crypto finance industry more assertively.

        • New agreement gives municipalities power to usher in zero-emission zones in cities

          Checks will be carried out using number plate recognition systems, which will be installed in the areas concerned. Violations will result in fines of 12,500 kroner for lorries and buses, and 1,500 kroner for vans.

          What makes the bill controversial is that it also mentioned a planned expansion of Copenhagen Airport, which will certainly increase pollution.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Do Species Awareness Days Work?
        • The Plot to Destroy Sagebrush on the Bighorn

          Because it is often overlooked, the Forest Service management capitulates to the desires of the livestock industry. As an example of this collusion, the Bighorn National Forest recently announced its intention to aeriel herbicide thousands of acres of sagebrush ostensibly to control medusahead and other “undesirable” plants like the native larkspur, but the reality is that the main purpose is to eliminate sagebrush to create more forage for livestock.

          No doubt the spread of medusahead is a concern. Medusahead is an annual grass that is not palatable to livestock.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Who’s to Blame in The White Lotus?

        Set in a luxury resort off the coast of Maui, The White Lotus follows a group of guests and a handful of hotel staff members during a week-long vacation, where they all quickly learn that the destination isn’t an escape but a place for their problems to fester. Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), an insecure blogger, questions her new marriage while on a honeymoon with her entitled old-money husband, Shane (Jake Lacy). A grief-stricken middle-aged woman, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), struggles with the direction of her life, eventually relying upon Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), the hotel’s spa manager, for emotional support. Upper-class neoliberal couple Nicole and Mark Mossbacher (Connie Britton and Steve Zahn) bring their domestic baggage to the resort, along with their 16-year-old screen-addled son Quinn (Fred Hechinger); Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), their college-age leftist daughter; and her equally radical nonwhite friend, Paula (Brittany O’Grady). Per Dante, the path to paradise begins in hell, but the characters in The White Lotus seem to have brought hell along with them.

      • AOC’s ‘Tax the Rich’ Gown is Designer Protest Meant to Dull Class Struggle

        Maybe “divided” isn’t quite the right word. As with most left politics nowadays, the two sides seem to be talking across each other. It is as if they speak two entirely different languages.

        Tickets to the Met Gala are at least $30,000 a pop, though it seems AOC, a young New York City Congresswoman who identifies as a democratic socialist, did not pay for the ticket herself. She was invited and seized the moment to make her protest.

      • Trump Donor Who Propped Up His $2 Billion Hotel Business With $96 Million In COVID Loans Threatens Website For Publishing Facts And Opinions

        Being defensive when criticized is a very human trait. It’s often the default response. And it’s completely understandable. Very few people can suppress the urge to defend themselves — or engage in retaliation — when (as Tom Wolfe put it) their ego is stripped of its virginity. Like I said, it’s a wholly human response.

      • ‘We Are Clearly Not Fully Recovered’: Ocasio-Cortez to Introduce Extension of Boosted Unemployment Benefits

        As millions of American workers and their families continue to reel from the expiration of federal pandemic unemployment insurance on Labor Day, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Tuesday that she will introduce legislation to extend the boosted jobless assistance benefits until the beginning of next February.

        The Extend Unemployment Assistance Act of 2021 (pdf) would be retroactive to September 6, the day on which the jobless benefits expired for more than 7.5 million U.S. workers. The termination affected not only those workers, but also tens of millions of their dependents, in what one analyst described as “the largest cutoff of unemployment benefits in history.”

      • California Says “No”
      • Newsom Urged to Deliver on Climate, Single-Payer as California Voters Defeat Recall

        California voters on Tuesday roundly defeated an effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose ouster likely would have resulted in right-wing radio host Larry Elder—a longtime climate denier who recently said the ideal minimum wage is $0—becoming the leader of the most populous state in the U.S.

        Faced with two ballot questions—whether Newsom should be recalled and who should replace him—California voters overwhelmingly voted no on the first, rendering the second meaningless.

      • Trump Says US Will Cease to Exist by 2024, Then Implies He’ll Run for President
      • Newsom Fends Off Recall Challenge as California Voters Choose “No” on Ballots
      • California Votes No: Governor Gavin Newsom Survives Republican-Led Recall Effort

        Californians overwhelmingly rejected a Republican-led recall effort against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday that cost close to $300 million in taxpayer funds. The failed recall was seen as a battle against the far right and a referendum on several key issues ahead of the 2022 midterms, including the pandemic, immigrant rights, the climate crisis and the related unhoused crisis. California voters cast their ballots in the recall because “as attention started being focused nationally on this election, people started realizing what was at stake,” says Sasha Abramsky, “Left Coast” correspondent for The Nation. “There was this real risk that California could sort of almost accidentally stumble into a far-right governorship,” Abramsky says.

      • Myanmar anti-coup protesters attack more cell towers

        The attacks on the towers, near the town of Tedim, around 20 kilometres from the India border, were to “block the SAC from their money source,” the spokesperson said, using an acronym for the State Administration Council — as the junta calls itself.

        Local media also reported several towers belonging to Mytel — one of the country’s four main cell networks — had been destroyed in Chin state in recent days.

      • Former U.S. operatives agree to $1.68M settlement over mercenary [cracking] charges

        Three former U.S. intelligence and military personnel agreed to pay more than $1.68 million to settle federal charges over their alleged work as mercenary hackers for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

        A case filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia brought two counts each against Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke, including conspiracy to commit device fraud and computer hacking and conspiracy to violate arms export control regulations.

      • Abort the Illegitimate Court: End the Filibuster and Pack it

        What could be more abasing to democracy than the fact that traditionally, five unelected, unaccountable, mostly old white men regularly decide existential social, health, and environmental issues for fifty disparate states, several territories, and 325 million people? In so doing, they sometimes overturn decades of accumulated law, struggle, wisdom, scholarship, science, sacrifice, and praxis. If you find this acceptable, you are too disoriented by a culture of winner-take-all politics, sports, and game shows to know what’s good for a plural society, or even really to call yourself pro-democracy.

        After the Court’s racist pronouncement in the notorious Dred Scott decision, Abraham Lincoln warned: “If the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government, into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Nicki Minaj vows “I’ll never use Twitter again” after backlash over viral COVID vaccine post

        “I have been suspended from Twitter,” she said, over a shot of what appeared to be an apartment ceiling. “Twitter, a place where people say the most horrific things every day.”

        The Trinidadian-born artist repeatedly claimed that she did not “give any facts” about the vaccine and that she was simply “asking questions” — though her claims were debunked by the government of Trinidad and Tobago earlier on Wednesday. The country’s health ministry said it could not find any evidence that any patient had reported the symptoms that Minaj described — in Trinidad or elsewhere.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Texas’ Social Media Law is Not the Solution to Censorship

        Signed into law by Governor Abbott last week, the Texas law prohibits platforms with more than 5 million users nationwide from moderating user posts based on viewpoint or geographic location. However, as we stated in our friend-of-the-court brief in support of NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Associations lawsuit challenging Florida’s law (NetChoice v. Moody), “Every court that has considered the issue, dating back to at least 2007, has rightfully found that private entities that operate online platforms for speech and that open those platforms for others to speak enjoy a First Amendment right to edit and curate that speech.”

        Inconsistent and opaque content moderation by online media services is a legitimate problem. It continues to result in the censorship of a range of important speech, often disproportionately impacting people who aren’t elected officials. That’s why EFF joined with a cohort of allies in 2018 to draft the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation, offering one model for how platforms can begin voluntarily implementing content moderation practices grounded in a human rights framework. Under the proposed principles, platforms would:

        H.B. 20 does attempt to mandate some of the transparency measures called for in the Santa Clara Principles. Although these legal mandates might be appropriate as part of a carefully crafted legislative scheme, H.B. 20 is not the result of a reasonable policy debate. Rather it is a retaliatory law aimed at violating the First Amendment rights of online services in a way that will ultimately harm all internet users.

      • Satire Site Gets Ridiculous Threat Letter From Baseball Team; cc’s Barbra Streisand In Its Response

        The Popehat signal went up and it was for a good cause (even if it’s ridiculous that it was needed). The satirical site “Takoma Torch,” which is an attempt at being a sort of local The Onion for a suburb outside of DC, posted an article making light of the nearby town of Olney, Maryland and its new Cal Ripken Collegiate League baseball team. Playing off of the recent drama regarding the company OnlyFans, Takoma Torch’s Eric Saul wrote up an amusing article about “OlneyFans.” You can click through to read the story, but the opening gives you the gist:

      • Content Moderation Case Study: Twitter Removes ‘Verified’ Badge In Response To Policy Violations (2017)

        Summary: Many social networks have enabled users to use a pseudonym as their identity on that network. Since users could use whatever name they wanted, they could pretend to be someone else, creating certain challenges for those platforms. For example, for sites that allowed such pseudonyms, how would they identify who the actual person was and who was merely an impostor? Some companies, such as Facebook, went the route of requiring users to use their real names. Twitter went another way, allowing pseudonyms.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • A Confederacy of the Malicious

        These extremist Trumpist Republicans, including governors and members of Congress, are conducting a callus, chilling contemptuous horror show for the sake of scoring macho political points despite the life-threatening nature of their ugly campaign. It’s the unvaccinated who are racking up the biggest COVID-19 death tolls nationwide.

        Republicans are taking advantage of a pandemic that won’t go away in order to slam the Democrats and make Biden look like a failure by intentionally confusing what is freedom with what is common sense. Biden had promised to eliminate COVID-19, which is caused by the virus. But the Republicans are fighting him and mocking him at every step.

      • August Calendar
      • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Another Life Goes By’ By Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram

        Twenty-two year-old blues musician Christone “Kingfish” Ingram hails from Clarksdale, Mississippi, which has a rich history when it comes to the blues. His talent impressed Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy so much that Guy tracked down Ingram to give him a record deal.

        Ingram also believes he has a responsibility to make sure some of his music reflects the state of the nation.On his latest album, “662,” Ingram recorded a track written about young Black Americans killed as a result of hatred and policing.“Where does hate come from? And how do we make it stop? We got to make some changes before somebody else gets shot. We need to pay attention to all the helpless cries. We got to stop the madness before another life goes by,” Ingram sings.Ingram notes it has gone on for decades. “We keep treating people wrong. Why does doing something right, something right take so long.”“In today’s world, you can see there are a lot of people who are misinformed about what the blues really are. They have a narrow way of thinking that all the blues are is someone singing: ‘My baby left me,’ and then a guitar solo,” Ingram told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

      • UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Global Halt to Sales of Dangerous AI Technologies

        Noting the ubiquity of artificial intelligence in modern life, the United Nations’ top human rights official on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the sale and use of AI systems that imperil human rights until sufficient safeguards against potential abuse are implemented.

        “Action is needed now to put human rights guardrails on the use of AI, for the good of all of us.”—Michelle Bachelet, OHCHR

      • ‘The Radical Right-Wing Majority of the Supreme Court May Well Overturn Roe v. Wade’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Marjorie Cohn about the Texas abortion ban for the September 10, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Problem Solved

        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!

      • With Texas at Center of Abortion Fight, NARAL Backs Cisneros Over Cuellar for 2022

        As Texas Republicans draw national attention for enacting a blatantly unconstitutional abortion law, NARAL Pro-Choice America on Wednesday endorsed Jessica Cisneros, the progressive primary challenger to anti-choice Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.

        “We need leaders like Jessica Cisneros in Congress to fight for our values and safeguard access to abortion care to ensure that everybody—no matter who they are or where they live—can access the care they need.”—Christian LoBue, NARAL

      • ‘Restrictions on Abortion Are Invisible Because They Appear Based on Who You Are’
      • DOJ Asks Federal Judge to Block Enforcement of Texas Abortion Law
      • Philadelphia to pay $2M to Black woman beaten by officers, separated from toddler during unrest

        The city of Philadelphia will pay $2 million to a Black woman who was pulled from a car, beaten by officers and had her toddler used for social media fodder by the police union, officials said.

      • DHS must explain failure to release e-mail files

        In a victory for the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must either disclose records of e-mail messages which we requested in the “native” file formats in which they are held on DHS servers or archival storage media, or must “demonstrate with sufficient justification that they cannot produce the documents in their original fully digital version.”

        This ruling was made in response to an administrative appeal by the Identity Project of the DHS (non)-response to a FOIA request we made in 2016 for the reports submitted to the DHS each month on how may people attempted to enter Federal facilities without ID or with ID deemed “noncompliant” with the REAL-ID Act of 2005, and what happened to these people. How many were eventually allowed to enter, and how many were turned away?

        Over the years, the DHS sent us a trickle of PDF files created by its FOIA office and subsitituted, without explanation, for the files we had requested. These PDF files contain redacted images of “pages” of messages viewed in some e-mail client software, but can’t be imported into any other e-mail program or indexed or searched as e-mail files. After more than five years, and without releasing any of the e-mail files we had requested (or even disclosing in what format they are held), the DHS declared its response “final”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Musk’s Starlink Pre-Order Subscribers Say Customer Service Is A No Show

        The narrative du jour is that Elon Musk’s companies are just so damn innovative that they don’t have to adhere to basic norms. His companies don’t need a functioning PR department, for example, because Musk is just so damn charming on Twitter. As you may have noticed, this narrative isn’t always particularly accurate.

      • FCC Will Take A Closer Look At ISP/Landlord Broadband Monopolies

        One of the tricks dominant broadband providers use to limit competition is exclusive broadband arrangements with landlords. Often an ISP will strike an exclusive deal with the owner of a building, apartment complex, or development that effectively locks in a block by block monopoly. And while the FCC passed rules in 2007 to purportedly stop this from happening, they contained too many loopholes to be of use. Susan Crawford wrote an excellent story at Wired about this a few years back, noting that the rules are so terrible ISPs and landlords can tap dance around them by simply calling what they’re doing… something else:

      • Mistrial Declared In Backpage Founders’ Trial; After DOJ Ignores Judge’s Rules Regarding What It Could Present

        As we noted recently, the trial of Backpage’s founders finally started after years of legal wrangling. However, the judge has already declared a mistrial after the DOJ, in typical DOJ fashion, tried to ignore the judge’s warnings against focusing too specifically on the specifics of sex trafficking alleged to have occurred on the site. Specifically, prosecutors repeatedly referred to child sex trafficking, despite the fact that there are no sex trafficking charges in the case (let alone child sex trafficking):

      • Beatings, buried videos a pattern at Louisiana State Police

        AP’s review — coming amid a widening federal investigation into state police misconduct — found troopers have made a habit of turning off or muting body cameras during pursuits. When footage is recorded, the agency routinely refuses to release it. And a recently retired supervisor who oversaw a particularly violent clique of troopers told internal investigators this year that it was his “common practice” to rubber-stamp officers’ use-of-force reports without reviewing body-camera video.

        In some cases, troopers omitted uses of force such as blows to the head from official reports, and in others troopers sought to justify their actions by claiming suspects were violent, resisting or escaping, all of which were contradicted by video footage.

      • OnlyFans’ ban and subsequent reversal exacerbates debate over Section 230 reform

        On August 19th, paid subscription website OnlyFans triggered a firestorm when it announced plans to ban all pornography from its platform – only to backtrack days later.

        While not all content on OnlyFans is explicitly pornographic, the platform’s success was built on pornography. During the COVID-19 pandemic, two million new creators flocked to the platform and began posting video and livestream content for paying subscribers in order to earn an income amid months of lockdowns and social distancing

    • Monopolies

      • Intellectual property rights might not entitle Apple to any ‘commission’ on app revenues, but in any event nowhere near 30%: court misunderstood Epic’s lawyers [Ed: Florian Mueller should know better than to repeat propaganda terms like “intellectual [sic] property [sic] rights [sic]“]

        For a blog with “patents” in the name it would actually have made a lot of sense to start the discussion of the Epic Games v. Apple ruling with the intellectual property aspects of the case. But I had to combat disinformation of app developers regarding the practical effects of the injunction (should it ever be enforced).

        The court ruling is unfair to Epic with respect to what it actually wanted and argued. (Some would argue that it’s unfair in other ways, too, but I wish to keep a narrow focus in this post.)

        In the decision, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers accuses Epic of “overreach” and suggests that Epic wanted Apple to receive nothing from app developers, though even her own decision notes that “Epic Games does not venture to argue that Apple is not entitled to be paid for its intellectual property.” The passage I just quoted is an understatement. Epic’s counsel unequivocally said during closing argument that Apple is entitled to reasonable and non-discriminatory compensation for any intellectual property, but an antitrust case is always about putting an end to illegal practices (without necessarily replacing them with an alternative compensation scheme right away). It was not about a free ride. It was about not letting Apple (ab)use its App Store monopoly, and subsequently one could still talk about IP (but not in that same case).

        I have no idea what Epic’s appeal will focus on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the appeals court agreed with Epic that a sequential approach is precisely the way antitrust law works: you stop the illegal practice first, and then the defendant can come up with a new practice, which may invite further challenges (but those won’t happen, or at least won’t have merit, if the new practice is reasonable and non-discriminatory). The appeals court may tell the district judge that the purpose of a unilateral conduct case is not to replace an illegal practice with a legal one.

      • Patents

        • Latest news and updates on the Unified Patent Court [Ed: JUVE the latest to promote lies and fake news for Team UPC; reckless propaganda to give people a false impression, lobbyism disguised as ‘journalism’]
        • The Catalog of Carceral Surveillance: Patents Aren’t Products (Yet)

          But importantly, patents often precede the actual development or deployment of a technology. Though applications may demonstrate an interest in advancing a particular technology, these intentions don’t always progress beyond the proposal, and many inventions that are described in patent applications don’t wind up being built. What we can glean from a patent application is that the company is thinking about the technology and that it might be coming down the pipeline.

          In 2019, Platinum Equity, the firm that has owned Securus Technologies since 2017, restructured the company, placing it under the parent company Aventiv. Aventiv claimed it would lead Securus through a transformation process that includes greater respect for human rights. According to Aventiv, many of patents filed prior to 2019 will remain just ideas, never to be built. Following the publication of our initial Catalog of Carceral Surveillance posts, Aventiv responded with the following statement: “We at Aventiv are committed to protecting the civil liberties of all those who use our products. As a technology provider, we continuously seek to improve and to create new solutions to keep our communities safe.”

          Aventiv’s statement goes on to respond to EFF’s post describing a patent filed by Securus that envisions a system for monitoring online purchases made by incarcerated people and their families. The company wrote: “The patent is not currently in development as it was an idea versus a product we will pursue,” and added that to “ensure there is no additional misunderstanding, we will be abandoning this patent and reviewing all open patents to certify that they align with our transformation efforts.”

        • Consumer Advocacy Group Reveals Portion of Pfizer Vaccine Recipe
      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • Reuters scribes claim exclusive three years after it came to light

          A story about US mercenaries going to work for the UAE Government, without obtaining the necessary American clearances, was claimed as an exclusive in 2019 by two Reuters reporters – even though the yarn had already been told three years earlier by a reporter for The Intercept.

        • Toronto Film Festival Asks Google to Remove Links to Leaked Netflix Screeners

          Last weekend, two screeners of upcoming Netflix movies leaked ahead of their official premiere. “The Power of the Dog” and “The Guilty” are now widely shared on pirate sites, something that has triggered a series of takedown requests. Interestingly, the Toronto International Film Festival, which could be where the films leaked from, is particularly active.

        • Movie Piracy: Customers of Major UK ISPs Receive Letters Demanding Cash

          Voltage Holdings LLC, a company well known for tracking down pirates worldwide and demanding cash settlements for alleged movie piracy, has officially begun work in the UK. After obtaining at least one High Court order, customers of ISPs including Virgin Media are now being contacted by a law firm demanding cash settlements to make possible lawsuits go away.

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