10.02.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 2/10/2021: OpenBSD Explained, Monthly Fortran Report, and More

Posted in News Roundup at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • This week in KDE: Getting Plasma 5.23 ready for release

          We continue to squash bugs in the Plasma 5.23 beta release with the aim of getting it into great shape for general release in about two weeks! As with last week, I’ll again strongly encourage anyone with the skills to do so to focus on fixing these bugs! Every little bit helps.

          Keep in mind that this blog only covers the tip of the iceberg! Tons of KDE apps whose development I don’t have time to follow aren’t represented here, and I also don’t mention backend refactoring, improved test coverage, and other changes that are generally not user-facing. If you’re hungry for more, check out https://planet.kde.org/, where you can find blog posts by other KDE contributors detailing the work they’re doing.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • What every IT person needs to know about OpenBSD

          “Functional, free and secure by default”, OpenBSD remains a crucial yet largely unacknowledged player in the open source field. This talk aims to highlight the project’s signature security features and development practices — razor sharp focus on correct and secure code coupled with continuing code audit — as well as the project’s role as source of innovation in security practices and ‘upstream’ source for numerous widely used components such as OpenSSH, PF, LibreSSL and others.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Discover the three major CentOS clones

          Many businesses used CentOS as a reliable, free and open source Linux distribution that could power many ecosystems — until IBM Red Hat decided to end CentOS in favor of the rolling release candidate, CentOS Stream. Some admins and companies had no choice but to drop CentOS because common software, such as web hosting software cPanel, no longer worked with CentOS Stream.

          Fortunately, several open source clones of CentOS have arisen, all of which are 1:1 binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). That means any of these clones behave exactly like the original CentOS did.

        • 8 Big New Revelations About IBM’s Kyndryl Spin-Off [Ed: IBM layoffs spun as "spinoff".]

          As IBM’s Kyndryl spin-off nears, an SEC filing reveals updates on Kyndryl’s financial results, workforce reductions, vendor partnerships (including with VMware and Microsoft) and top competitors (including DXC).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • See what sounds look like with Raspberry Pi Pico
        • Attaching to a Raspberry Pi’s Serial Console (UART) for debugging

          The Raspberry Pi can output information over a ‘serial console’, technically known as a UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter). Many devices—including things like storage controller cards, which in a sense run their own internal operating system on an SoC—have a ‘UART header’, which is typically three or four pins that can connect over the RS-232 standard (though many do not operate at 12v like a traditional serial port! Use a USB-to-TTL adapter like the one I mention below).

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • The Mozilla Blog: Miracle Whip, Finstas, #InternationalPodcastDay, and #FreeBritney all made the Top Shelf this week [Ed: What on Earth does this have to do with Mozilla and/or Firefox?]

            At Mozilla, we believe part of making the internet we want is celebrating the best of the internet, and that can be as simple as sharing a tweet that made us pause in our feed. Twitter isn’t perfect, but there are individual tweets that come pretty close.

            Each week in Top Shelf, we will be sharing the tweets that made us laugh, think, Pocket them for later, text our friends, and want to continue the internet revolution each week.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Access/Content

          • Top Publishers Aim To Own The Entire Academic Research Publishing Stack; Here’s How To Stop That Happening

            Techdirt’s coverage of open access — the idea that the fruits of publicly-funded scholarship should be freely available to all — shows that the results so far have been mixed. On the one hand, many journals have moved to an open access model. On the other, the overall subscription costs for academic institutions have not gone down, and neither have the excessive profit margins of academic publishers. Despite that success in fending off this attempt to re-invent the way academic work is disseminated, publishers want more. In particular, they want more money and more power. In an important new paper, a group of researchers warn that companies now aim to own the entire academic publishing stack:

      • Programming/Development

        • Fortran newsletter: October 2021

          Welcome to the October 2021 edition of the monthly Fortran newsletter. The newsletter comes out at the beginning of every month and details Fortran news from the previous month.

        • Python

          • Django Diabetes: a self-hosted Personal Glucose Manager

            As there is a shortage of open-source patient-centered apps, like personal health records, medication reminders, and diabetes trackers.

            So, we are delighted to share with this astonishing open-source application Django Diabetes which was built to help patients track and manage their blood glucose.

            Django Diabetes, as its name suggests, is built on Django; the popular Python web framework. It is a lightweight web-based app that makes use of Django built-in admin, and multi-database support.

  • Leftovers

    • A Great American Author of Proletarian Literature is Ready for His Close Up

      Algren is a nonfiction biopic about the first author to win the National Book Award for Fiction. At a New York ceremony in 1950 former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt presented that coveted accolade to Nelson Algren for The Man with the Golden Arm. Previously, Algren – who was born 1909 in Detroit and moved to Chicago’s South Side when he was three – received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1947, the same year his short story collection The Neon Wilderness was published and two of its stories were given an O. Henry Award. No less a luminary than Ernest Hemingway, recently the subject of a Ken Burns PBS series, gushed: “Mr. Algren, boy, you are good.”

      Golden is about junkies, poker players and flophouses. Neon’s characters include prostitutes, hustlers and drunks. In Algren, author/academic Bill Savage, one of the documentary’s many talking heads, observes Algren wrote about “the marginalized of America.” On camera, novelist Russell Banks adds that Algren’s fiction “go[es] into the lower depths.” As Nelson himself (voiced onscreen by Veep actor David Pasquesi) put it, he explored “the other side of the billboards.”

    • PS4 Battery Time-Keeping Time-Bomb Silently Patched By Sony; PS3 Consoles Still Waiting

      Over the past several months, there have been a couple of stories that certainly had owners of Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 consoles completely wigging out. First came Sony’s announcement that it was going to shut down support for the PlayStation Store and PlayStation Network on those two consoles. This briefly freaked everyone out, the thinking being that digitally purchased games would be disappeared. Sony confirmed that wouldn’t be the case, but there was still the question of game and art preservation, given that no new purchases would be allowed and that in-game purchases and DLC wouldn’t be spared for those who bought them. As a result of the outcry, Sony reversed course for both consoles specifically for access to the PlayStation Store, nullifying the debate. Except that immediately afterward came word of an issue with the PS3 and PS4 console batteries and the way they check in with the PlayStation Network (PSN) to allow users to play digital or physical game media. With the PSN still sunsetting on those consoles, the batteries wouldn’t be able to check in, and would essentially render the console and all the games users had worthless and unplayable.

    • Bad Guys: A Mini-Memoir in Serial

      I woke wincing, my body naked and tangled in a sea of baby blue. Fog-filtered sun flooded the room from the north-facing wall of glass. The bay stretched in a sparkling gray sheet straight from the edge of the windows to the mouth of the Golden Gate. The surface of the water caught every shard of sunlight and sent the beams straight into my eyes, blinding me in the white light of San Francisco morning.

      Paralyzed in the bed of a vice cop, I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. I pulled the satin sheets to my chin, but my grip didn’t hold. My body slipping and sliding from under the sheets, every sixteen-year-old inch of me was caught in the searing glare of sunlight spilling from the windows. I never felt so naked in my life. My eyes winced and scrunched tight, setting off explosions of multicolored glitter. I clenched myself into a knot in silent rebellion against the reality morning dished up for breakfast.

    • Karachi: Dystopian Modernity?

      A recently published book titled Karachi Vice: Life and Death in a Contested City brought this young person’s memory back. The text, written by London-based Pakistani journalist Samira Shackle, describes a sprawling city divided by ethnicity, religion, politics and class. It also describes a city as vibrant and inspiring as New York, London, Beijing or Berlin. Written over the course of several years, Shackle tells a story of city struggling through crisis brought on by poverty and capitalist greed, foreign wars and international drug trafficking. Shackle warns the reader her text is not a history., yet her narrative invokes the history of Karachi and of Pakistan itself. The reader is brought into the lives of at least eight residents of Karachi via Shackle’s stories; stories which vibrate with the immediacy of the streets and the integrity of her subjects.

      There is an ambulance driver who sees his work as a mission, a crime reporter whose ego is fed by his work even while he reckons with its dangers in a city where the criminal underworld is a powerful political and commercial presence. There are a young man and a woman who is his elder whose work involves both community organizing and the daily grind of individual social work. A young woman whose education is curtailed when she gets married, despite her grandfather’s desire to see her continue school no matter what custom demands. Instances in each of these individuals’ lives are chronicled in a manner that reads like the topnotch journalism it is. Individual acts of courage are contextualized within the reality of Karachi’s gangland warfare and tense politics of the period Shackle was composing her book. She writes of the connections between political parties and various criminal overlords. She describes ethnic rivalries between neighborhoods and, in doing so, summarizes the history of a nation birthed in conflict from a ravaged colony.

    • Progressive Caucus Applauded as House Delays Bipartisan Infrastructure Vote

      The House Democratic leadership on Thursday was once again forced to delay a scheduled vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill as progressive lawmakers—acting as a coordinated bloc—held firm to their longstanding demand that Congress pass a reconciliation package first.

      “Four percent of all the Democrats in the House and the Senate are blocking the Build Back Better Act from passing.”—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

    • My porn is art, claims Danish former erotic actress

      Katja K intends to transform some of her old scenes into crypto art, which will see it converted into non-fungible tokens. Furthermore, at the age of 53 she intends to produce new material in homage to classic moments from films such as ‘Basic Instinct’ and ‘When Harry met Sally’

    • France: Illusions and Debasement

      The sudden tearing up of ‘the contract of the century’ bearing on the purchase of French submarines has been denounced as a ‘stab in the back’ by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The recall of our ambassadors from Australia and especially from the United States was pointed out a hundred times as an event without precedent in Franco-American relations. Alas, far from opening a crisis, it was a matter of simple posturing before turning the page.

      Following a telephone exchange between Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, the communiqué of 22 September agreed that some ‘open consultations between allies’ could have avoided the crisis and recognize the role of France in the Indo-Pacific region. But the vague regret expressed by the American President and the polite assurances that he doles out to us changes nothing in reality: it is the United States which will supply the submarines to Australia.

    • Education

      • “Compulsory Irish”: the Place of the Irish Language in Ireland’s Post-Colonial Education System

        The “debate” often occurs during the summer months. In June, tens of thousands of young people take their Leaving Certificate examinations. One of the required subjects they must study in their final two years of secondary school is the Irish language.

        Some people, including journalists, disliked their experience of learning Irish in secondary school. This compels many of these tortured souls to put pen to paper every summer to vent their spleen, their aim being the removal of “compulsory Irish” from the Leaving Certificate course.

      • Auch 2021 leider kein Congress in Leipzig

        Over the past few weeks, we have carefully evaluated the possibilities for a Chaos Communication Congress 2021 in Leipzig. In a joint discussion of the many different teams involved in the organization, we have determined: The necessary protective measures and restrictions would distort the spirit of the event beyond recognition.

        For this reason, we have jointly decided not to have a presence event in Leipzig this year.

      • Some students don’t understand the concept of computer files and folders

        WTF?! To readers of this site, the idea that some students on courses ranging from engineering to physics don’t know what files and folders are might seem strange, but it’s true. According to a new report, the fault lies with popular modern operating systems and devices that include all-encompassing search functions or hide file structures from plain view.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Baby Food Alert: Interview With Asian-Based Food Processing Consultant

        As a food processing consultant, Frank A. worked with over 60 food manufacturing, processing and packaging companies in Australia, China, Surabaya Indonesia, New Zealand and Singapore and talks, in this interview, about some disturbing food practices.

        MR: In the late 1970s, Nestle’s promotion of infant formula over breastfeeding in poor countries was seen as unethical and causing infant deaths. But forty years later, you say the marketing continues?

      • DEA Warns of Counterfeit Pill “Surge” Following Its Crackdown on Prescriptions
      • Merck to Submit First Pill-Based COVID Treatment For FDA Approval
      • “Trust No One”: Anti-Vax Meeting Devolves Into Paranoia

        A meeting hosted by anti-vax group Stand Up Massachusetts on September 13 included exactly the kind of paranoid, delusional ramblings you’d expect to hear from conspiracy theorists—including thinly veiled accusations that others on the call were double agents.

        Featuring members of the medical conspiracy theory organization America’s Frontline Doctors and a number of fringe characters in the Massachusetts anti-vax movement, the call aimed to educate members “on current freedom-focused school issues and homeschooling.”

      • Opinion | Eating in the Age of Climate Crisis

        If you tuned in to gawk at the creative costuming of this season’s Met Gala, you may have done so knowing every celebrity crossing the beige carpet was going on to dine on a meat-free meal. Download Buzzfeed’s Tasty recipe app and the first prompt will ask: “Quick question: Are you a vegetarian?” Pull up a chair at New York City’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park and your options will now extend across the vegetable kingdom—but not beyond. These are just some of the signals of a cultural shift away from meat and toward plant-centered cuisines, by default. But addressing the environmental and health impacts of the livestock industry will take more than just changing the menus of high-end restaurants and some app nudging. Thankfully, we’re seeing strategies that work to make this change at scale emerging around the world. 

      • As Rich Nations Waste Doses, Most African Countries Miss 10% Vaccination Goal

        More than two-thirds of Africa’s 54 countries were denied the ability to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against Covid-19 by September’s end—a modest World Health Organization target—as rich nations continue to hoard doses and shield the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly control over production.

        According to the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa, just 15 of the continent’s countries reached the 10% vaccination goal. Half of the 52 African nations that have received coronavirus vaccines have fully inoculated 2% or less of their populations, the WHO said Thursday.

      • Big Pharma Makes More Off of US Sales Than Rest of the World Combined
      • Why the Taliban’s Promise to Stop the Opium Trade Rings Hollow

        At its first press conference in Kabul on August 17, after entering the city just two days earlier and solidifying their control over the country, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vowed that their new government would not let Afghanistan become a “full-fledged narco-state.” “We are assuring our countrymen and women and the international community that we will not have any narcotics produced,” Mujahid said. “From now on, nobody’s going to get involved (in the heroin trade), nobody can be involved in drug smuggling.”

        But, as with the Taliban’s other plans for the country, there is reason to be skeptical about this claim; the notion of a ban on opium production runs afoul of economic and political realities on the ground. The challenge is that the opium crop is a key component of the Afghan economy, accounting for somewhere between 7 percent and 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and bringing in as much as $2 billion in 2019, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The gross income generated from opiates was “also worth between 24 and 44 percent of the value of the licit agricultural sector of the country” in 2018-2019. And now, opium looms ever larger because the major pillar of the Afghan economy was foreign financial assistance—accounting for 40 percent of GDP—which has now vanished, as the West tries to figure out how to deal with the Taliban, which “led a deadly insurgency against the U.S.-backed government” before seizing power.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Apple making display repairs harder on iPhone 13 Pro is a step too far

          Apple has placed a barrier to screen replacements on the iPhone 13 Pro by killing Face ID when a third-party display swap is performed. That’s a step too far for the company.

          Similar issues have come up in the past. Back in 2018, an iOS update killed the touch functionality on some iPhone 8 models if they were repaired by a third party.

        • White House plans 30-country meeting on cyber crime and ransomware [iophk: Windows TCO]

          An online session hosted by the White House National Security Council will also be aimed at “improving law enforcement collaboration” on issues like “the illicit use of cryptocurrency,” Biden said in a statement.

          The Biden administration has elevated the response to cybersecurity to the senior-most levels of the administration following a set of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize U.S. energy and food supplies.

        • Security

          • FCC Proposal Targets SIM Swapping, Port-Out Fraud

            The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for feedback on new proposed rules to crack down on SIM swapping and number port-out fraud, increasingly prevalent scams in which identity thieves hijack a target’s mobile phone number and use that to wrest control over the victim’s online identity.

          • Google Releases Security Updates for Chrome

            Google has released Chrome version 94.0.4606.71 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This version addresses vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit to take control of an affected system.

          • Flaw In AMD Platform Security Processor Affects Millions Of Computers | Hackaday

            Another day, another vulnerability. This time, it’s AMD’s turn, with a broad swathe of its modern CPU lines falling victim to a dangerous driver vulnerability that could leave PCs open to all manner of attacks.

            As reported by TechSpot, the flaw is in the driver for AMD Platform Security Processor (PSP), and could leave systems vulnerable by allowing attackers to steal encryption keys, passwords, or other data from memory. Today, we’ll take a look at what the role of the PSP is, and how this vulnerability can be used against affected machines.

          • Bits related to Alpine Security Initiatives in September

            As I noted in my last status update, we began the process to migrate the distribution to using OpenSSL 3. As a result of this, we have found and mitigated a few interesting bugs, for example, ca-certificates-bundle was being pulled into the base system as a side effect rather than intentionally, despite apk-tools explicitly needing it for validating the TLS certificates used by Fastly for our CDN.

            Migrating to OpenSSL 3 has not been without its share of difficulties however, as I noted in a blog post earlier in the month discussing some of these difficulties. I hope to be able to fully finish the OpenSSL 3 migration during the Alpine 3.16 development cycle as the last remaining packages such as mariadb and php make releases which support the new API. One other major issue needing to be addressed is updating wpa_supplicant and hostap to use the new OpenSSL APIs, but WPA requires the use of RC4 which has been moved to the legacy provider, so this will require programmatic loading of the legacy OpenSSL provider. Accordingly, we moved it back to OpenSSL 1.1 for now until upstream releases an update to address these problems.

            OpenSSL 3 also introduces some unintended regressions. Specifically, a bug was reported against apk-tools where using apk –allow-untrusted would result in a crash. After some debugging work, I was able to reduce the issue to a simple reproducer: the EVP_md_null digest family was never updated to be compatible with the new OpenSSL 3 provider APIs, and so attempting to use it results in a crash, as the prerequisite function pointers never get set up on the EVP_MD_CTX context. This means that apk-tools is still using OpenSSL 1.1 for now, despite otherwise working with OpenSSL 3.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Tampa Bay PD’s ‘Crime-Free Housing’ Program Disproportionately Targeted Black Residents, Did Nothing To Reduce Crime

              It looks like landlords in Florida want to get back to things that made this country great: bigotry, segregation, and oppression. And look who’s willing to pitch in! Why, it’s that old friend of racists, local law enforcement. (h/t WarOnPrivacy)

            • Google cancels plan to offer bank accounts to users

              In a statement to The Hill, a Google spokesperson said the company is “updating our approach to focus primarily on delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services.”

            • [Older|Repeat] KDE’s Telemetry: The Tip Of The Iceberg?

              Coincidence or not, in the past years many popular Linux distributions started rolling out optional telemetry. Then it was the time of computer programs: news broke out in May regarding Audacity, a popular audio editing app, which announced it was starting the use of telemetry. The move was finally pushed back after users revolted against it.

              But in Plasma’s case, it is not just an app or a single distro, but an entire desktop environment, employed in several Linux distributions, that is being shipped with telemetry. While many point out that the data collection is by opt-in and entirely anonymous, others have found that, even if you don’t activate telemetry, data is still collected, using computer resources, registering “apps and boot, number of times used and duration in /home/user/telemetry folder.” As such, they argue that, because of the way Linux permissions work, other programs could have access to these log files. KUserFeedback’s FAQs page confirms this: [...]

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Unrepentant US Empire

        Not even a month. No sooner had the Taliban taken control of Kabul airport than the neocons re-emerged from the shadows. Now that the West has ‘lost’ Afghanistan, they argue, it needs to reassert itself elsewhere to teach its strategic rivals, China and Russia in particular, that it will not back down from the next fight. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney summed up: ‘The war is not over. We are in a much more dangerous position and are going to invest, I am afraid, more resources to keep ourselves safe’ (1). After sowing chaos in the Middle East, the US is turning to the Pacific and its navy is heading for China. Clearly nothing to worry about…

        The key issue in the diplomatic squabble with France is not its pique at having lost a juicy contract for submarines, but how Europe reacts to the anti-Chinese military alliance the US has just formed with the UK and Australia.

      • Tone Deaf: Obama, Biden, AOC and the Swiss Purchase of F-35s

        Barrack Obama has every right to celebrate his 60th birthday. You don’t have to be an ex-president to throw a big affair on reaching six decades. But inviting 600 people during the Covid-19 pandemic surely sounds like a precursor to a super spreader event. To add on to the tone deafness is the fact that the event was to take place at his $12 million home on tony Martha’s Vineyard during a time of economic hardship for many Americans. The fact that several of the invitees were “disinvited” because of criticism does not atone for the original sin. Even recognizing that Obama will never run again for public office, the lavishness of the event buried all positive “public sentiment” of the first African American president who came to the Oval Office shooting hoops and made Jesse Jackson cry for joy. Unfortunately, Obama finished his two terms in office with high society ambitions as an unrepentant golfer at elite clubs, a substantial Netflix contract and a mansion on the Vineyard. The humanitarian, humble example of ex-president Jimmy Carter Obama is not. What happened to our South Side brother?

        Joe Biden is all multilateralism and unity. That is except when his Trumpian instincts trump all. Talk about America First. The French had a submarine deal with Australia. At least they thought they had one until they discovered that behind their backs the U.S. had worked out a deal with the Brits and Aussies. Tone deaf? Tony Blinken, he of French schooling and a français parfait, didn’t understand how furious the French would be? The French recalled their ambassador to Washington for first time in history. Listen to the words of the French foreign minister about the post-Trump multilateralists’ behind-the-back move: “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do.” The ultimate insult! “I am angry and bitter,” Jean-Yves Le Drian added. “This isn’t done to allies.” Forget Lafayette and the Statue of Liberty. The adage goes: “The United States has no friends, only interests.” Chalk up another case study. As an expert opined: “Make no mistake. This is a crisis, not a spat.” Add on the surprise U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan without fully consulting its NATO allies, and Biden’s foreign policy team sounds like The Best and the Brightest 2.0.

      • Reflections on Political Violence and Terror

        Manufacturing Consent with Rifles, Tear Gas and Military Helicopters

        Frontier Fascism: “No Good Anarchists but Dead Anarchists”

      • Droning On: Assassins-in-Chief and Their Brood

        I’m thinking, of course, about CENTCOM commander General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr.’s belated apology for the drone assassination of seven children as the last act, or perhaps final war crime, in this country’s 20-year-long Afghan nightmare.

        Where to begin (or end, for that matter) when considering that never-ending conflict, which seems — for Americans, anyway — finally to be over? After all these years, don’t ask me.

      • Manchin Rejects $3.5 Trillion Social Investment After Backing $9+ Trillion for Pentagon

        Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday derided his own party’s plan to spend $3.5 trillion over the next decade to combat the climate crisis, invest in child care, and expand Medicare as “fiscal insanity.”

        “All this operatic moaning about $3.5 trillion is ridiculous hypocrisy. Manchin has casually voted for nearly three times that for defense spending.”

      • Empire’s Sometime Handmaidens: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

        On Cuba, their roles are reversed. Back in 2017, HRW announced that undoing Obama’s more open Cuban policies would be a bad idea. But just this past July, Amnesty called on the U.S. not to ignore Cuba’s “crackdown on freedom of expression.” This was just throwing fuel on the blockade fire. The U.S. government needs no encouragement to get tough on Cuba. It’s been doing just that, with gusto, for generations.

        But perhaps its most recent finest, and the best you can say about both organizations, involves their stance on the prosecutorial abuse of Julian Assange. Both Amnesty and HRW have managed to acknowledge Assange’s horrendous plight. Further violating Assange’s human rights was a CIA plot, revealed on September 26, to kidnap and assassinate him, the sort of thing Assange claimed was going on all along and that pusillanimous reporters for publications like the Guardian pooh-poohed. One hopes that Amnesty and HRW will weigh in on this, because on issues of concern to critics of the capitalist empire, these two marquee human rights bodies display a spottily passable record. But they lack even a few spots in their support of the expansionist U.S. empire and their eagerness to label as human rights violations any government’s acts of self-defense, taken in response to U.S. regime change schemes.

      • Former Cuban Intelligence Chief Sees Cuban Revolution in Danger, Calls for Action

        Writing September 23 on Cuba’s Pupila Insomne website, Escalante notes that, “the internal counterrevolution is reorganizing its forces and is on the offensive.” They are “calling for a ‘national strike’ for October 11 … to secure the ‘liberation of political prisoners.’”  He insists that, afterwards, “a group of ‘activists,’ presumably counterrevolutionaries,” will be seeking authorization from Havana municipal authorities “for a peaceful march against ‘violence’ in November.”

        He regards the timing as crucial, inasmuch as in November Cuba will be re-opening its borders to international tourists; they’ve been excluded since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. At issue is revival of Cuba’s economy.

      • Afghanistan’s Impoverished People Live Amid Enormous Riches

        Hanif is right to point out that the governments of Presidents Hamid Karzai (2001-2014) and Ashraf Ghani (2014-2021), despite receiving billions of dollars in economic aid, failed to address the basic needs of the Afghan population. At the end of their rule—and 20 years of U.S. occupation—one in three people are facing hunger, 72 percent of the population lingers below the poverty line and 65 percent of the people have no access to electricity. No amount of bluster from the Western capitals can obscure the plain fact that support from the “international community” resulted in virtually no economic and social development in the country.

        Poor North

      • Russian FSB approves new list of information that could pose national security threat

        The Federal Security Service (FSB) released a new list of information that “could be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.” Though the list doesn’t concern state secrets, collecting any information included in the new order carries the threat of a “foreign agent” designation.

      • Opinion | Corporate Media Myths About the Chaos on Capitol Hill

        If you get your news about politics from corporate media, you’re getting myths from journalists and pundits instead of clarity. 

      • Corporate Media Myths About the Chaos on Capitol Hill

        At Thursday’s boisterous news conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a reporter used the phrase “the two biggest spending bills of this Congress” to describe the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF) and the Democrat-only Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation proposal. The phraseology about “the two big” or “biggest” spending bills is a common media refrain. And it’s a myth.

        The supposedly $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August and was delayed Thursdday in the House actually would provide only $550 billion in new spending — and that’s over a period of 5 years — to modernize infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports, airports, transit systems, Internet and water systems.

      • Don’t Pursue War, Pursue War Crimes: Michael Ratner’s Decades-Long Battle to Close Guantánamo

        We look at the life and legacy of the late Michael Ratner, the trailblazing human rights lawyer and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, with three people who knew him well: Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Vince Warren, the organization’s executive director; and Lizzy Ratner, Ratner’s niece and a senior editor at The Nation magazine. Michael Ratner spent decades opposing government abuse and fought to close the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay, first in the 1990s when it was used to hold thousands of Haitian asylum seekers and later when the George W. Bush administration opened a military prison there to detain hundreds of people from the so-called war on terror. Ratner died in 2016 at age 72. His posthumous memoir, “Moving the Bar: My Life as a Radical Lawyer,” has just been published.

      • Colleagues of Michael Ratner Blast Samuel Moyn’s Claim That He Helped Sanitize the “War on Terror”

        Friends and relatives of the late radical attorney Michael Ratner respond to the recent controversy over Yale University professor Samuel Moyn’s claim that Ratner “prioritized making the war on terror humane” by using the courts to challenge the military’s holding of prisoners at Guantánamo. Ratner’s longtime colleagues blast Moyn for failing to recognize how the late attorney had dedicated his life to fighting war and U.S. imperialism. “Michael opposed war with every fiber of his being in every medium he had access to: the courtroom, the classroom, in the media,” says Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “And he knew that legal challenges to protect humans from authoritarian abuses and violence and torture were necessary.”

      • Fight to Close Guantánamo Urgent as Biden Plans New Migrant Jail at Base
      • China’s Belt and Road Initiative Is About Profit, Not Development, Study Finds

        A new report on China’s international development projects initiated between 2000 and 2017 demonstrates that extensive high-interest lending by China’s state-backed banks has left countries across much of the developing world struggling under onerous debt loads, even as some of the development projects those loans funded face major implementation problems.

        The study conducted by AidData, a research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, provides a clearer picture than had previously been available of the extent to which China has invested its enormous foreign currency reserves in loans to the developing world.

        Unlike funds provided by many Western governments, those loans are designed, first and foremost, to turn a profit for China, Parks said.

      • Paris attacks: Haunting survivors’ memories shake terror trial

        The personal stories of people caught in the November 2015 attacks are now at the heart of the jihadist trial that began in Paris three weeks ago.

        For the next five weeks around 350 survivors and relatives of the dead are scheduled to give their accounts. Some have already proved to be unbearably poignant.

    • Environment

      • Memories On Fire
      • Links From the Brink: 8 Good Environmental News Stories You Might Have Missed
      • COP26 ‘won’t be easy’, UN climate chief admits

        The forthcoming COP26 summit — which could determine the viability of the Paris Agreement — will “not be easy” but an outcome matching the urgency of the crisis is an “absolute necessity”, the UN’s climate chief said Wednesday.

        As the world faces stronger and more frequent droughts, wildfires, flooding and storm surges made worse as the planet warms, the COP26 summit in Glasgow is being billed by organisers as a key milestone for keeping the Paris goals within reach.

      • Earth is dimming due to climate change

        The Earth is now reflecting about half a watt less light per square meter than it was 20 years ago, with most of the drop occurring in the last three years of earthshine data, according to the new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters, which publishes high-impact, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.

      • Earth is losing its shine and scientists suspect climate change is the culprit

        In a study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters on Aug. 29, researchers examined the Earth’s “albedo” by analyzing earthshine at the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California between 1998 and 2017 — equivalent to around 1,500 nights of data. This analysis allowed them to assess how much light is reflected by the planet.

      • Earth Is Literally Dimmer Today Than It Was In The 1990s

        When the sun shines on our planet, the Earth reflects nearly a third of that light back out into space, but scientists say that warming oceans thanks to climate change have actually caused a drop in that reflectance, commonly called albedo.

      • Earth’s Albedo 1998–2017 as Measured From Earthshine

        The net sunlight reaching the Earth’s climate system depends on the solar irradiance and the Earth’s reflectance (albedo). We have observed earthshine from Big Bear Solar Observatory to measure the terrestrial albedo. For earthshine we measure the sunlight reflected from Earth to the dark part of the lunar face and back to the nighttime observer, yielding an instantaneous large-scale reflectance of the Earth. In these relative measurements, we also observe the sunlit, bright part of the lunar face. We report here reflectance data (monthly, seasonal and annual) covering two decades, 1998–2017. The albedo shows a decline corresponding to a net climate forcing of about 0.5 urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl62955:grl62955-math-0003. We find no correlation between measures of solar cycle variations and the albedo variations. The first precise satellite measures of terrestrial albedo came with CERES. CERES global albedo data (2001-) show a decrease in forcing that is about twice that of earthshine measurements. The evolutionary changes in albedo motivate continuing earthshine observations as a complement to absolute satellite measurements, especially since earthshine and CERES measurements are sensitive to distinctly different parts of the angular reflectivity. The recent drop in albedo is attributed to a warming of the eastern pacific, which is measured to reduce low-lying cloud cover and, thereby, the albedo.

      • Climate Critics Warn Joe Manchin ‘Holding a Gun to the Planet’s Head’

        Climate campaigners on Friday responded to Sen. Joe Manchin’s unrelenting obstruction of his own party’s efforts to spend $3.5 trillion to combat the climate crisis and make other major social investments by accusing the right-wing West Virginia Democrat of doing the fossil fuel industry’s bidding, and drawing attention to the “modern-day coal baron’s” staggering conflicts of interest.

        “Should any lawmaker with such a sizable financial conflict of interest wield decisive influence over what the U.S. government does about a life-and-death issue like the climate emergency?”

      • Green Groups Formally Object to Biden’s Plan for Fossil Fuel Leasing on Public Lands

        Nearly 10 environmental groups on Friday filed formal objections to the Biden administration’s plan to open up 734,000 acres of public lands to fossil fuel extraction—a decision that critics have called “insane policy in light of the climate crisis” and a clear violation of President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to ban federal sales of new oil and gas leases.

        “We can’t confront the climate crisis if we can’t keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

      • Joe Manchin Just Cooked the Planet

        Last night, during the insane and at times comical negotiations over President Biden’s infrastructure bill and his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda (aka the reconciliation bill), Manchin let it be known that he was not going to vote for any measure above $1.5 trillion. And because Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote in the Senate, if Manchin won’t vote for it, the reconciliation bill won’t pass.

        The $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill includes a long list of programs and tax reforms that will help reduce poverty and improve the social safety net, such as universal child tax credit, universal pre-K, free community college, and an expansion of Medicare. But it is also the primary vehicle for President Biden’s ambitious climate action agenda, including cuts in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and, most importantly, the Clean Energy Performance Package (CEPP), which is a clean energy standard that incentivizes power companies to shift away from fossil fuels.

      • Canada’s ‘Fully Modelled’ Emissions Plan a Few Months Away, Wilkinson Says

        Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says a detailed plan showing how Canada might finally meet a greenhouse gas emissions target will be ready in a few months, but not likely in time for this fall’s global climate change conference in Scotland.

        Wilkinson is in Milan this week for meetings with his global counterparts to set the final agenda for negotiations at this year’s United Nations climate conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in early November, The Canadian Press reports.

      • Bias in Economic Research Helps Fossils Delay Climate Policy

        Inherent biases in economics and a “litigation-type approach to science” have allowed the fossil industry to weaponize economic consultants against climate regulation “without challenge,” says a recent paper.

        “Industry has been promoting certain people, certain models, and even a certain paradigm [of neoclassical economics] because it favours the industry,” said the paper’s author, Benjamin Franta, in conversation with climate economist Gernot Wagner for Bloomberg Green. 

      • ‘Time Is Running Out,’ Says UN Chief as Thunberg and Nakate Lead Climate March in Milan

        One day after United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told a group of diplomats that “time is running out” to address the planetary emergency, hundreds of young people marched in Milan on Friday to demand rapid and transformative climate action.

        At the front were Swedish activist Greta Thunberg—catalyst of the Fridays for Future school strikes that have brought millions to the streets in cities around the globe since 2018—and Ugandan youth climate leader Vanessa Nakate.

      • Companies Vowing Climate Action Also Back Lobby Groups Trying to Kill Landmark Climate Bill

        “Let’s be clear: Walmart, one of the biggest companies in America, says they support the climate initiatives in the Build Back Better Plan. But the company is actively fighting its passage.”—Accountable.US

      • The UN Crisis

        The planet faces enormous threats at the moment. The pandemic is still raging throughout the world. Climate change is an immediate risk. Wars continue to devastate Yemen, Ethiopia, and Syria.

        Given these crises, the United Nations is needed more than ever. And yet the body could not compel Jair Bolsonaro to get vaccinated or risk the fallout of preventing him from speaking to the General Assembly.

      • Energy

        • Of Indigenous Peoples, Environmentalism, and Atonement

          Early conservation figures often reflected the racist views of their times. In most cases, lands protected for environmental conservation gained official designation long after their Indigenous inhabitants were exterminated or deported to reservations. Nonetheless, all of these lands were occupied at one time or another, sometimes continuously, by Indigenous cultures.

          Today’s environmentalists are wisest when we approach this issue with humility, recognizing the original inhabitants’ relationship with the land, so much more mutualistic environmentally sustainable than our own. Certainly, Indigenous peoples set fires to improve hunting and habitat for game species, and in some North American regions even engaged in intensive crop farming and (here I include present-day Mexico) built complex cities. Overall, the native ecosystems and the biodiversity of native life that existed, for example, when the Lewis and Clark expedition crossed the Northern Plains, was far more diverse and abundant than anything we have seen since. With EuroAmerican settlers came market hunting, single-crop farming on a vast scale, deforestation, fires far beyond what the land had heretofore seen, predator extermination programs, fencing of open lands, acid mine drainage, invasive weeds, wagon roads and railroads and ultimately highways, and later powerlines and oilfields and strip mines. It was environmental devastation and extinction on a continent-wide scale, and the best efforts of environmentalists over the past two centuries have thus far succeeded in protecting or restoring only a tiny fraction in a relatively natural state.

        • Six-Month Sentence for Lawyer Who Took on Chevron Denounced as ‘International Outrage’

          Environmental justice advocates and other progressives on Friday condemned a federal judge’s decision Friday to sentence human rights lawyer Steven Donziger to six months in prison—following more than two years of house arrest related to a lawsuit he filed decades ago against oil giant Chevron.

          “Chevron caused a mass industrial poisoning in the Amazon that crushed the lives of Indigenous peoples. Six courts and 28 appellate judges found the company guilty. Fight on.”—Steven Donziger

        • Circular Economy Approach Could Boost Energy Self-Reliance in India

          The urgent need to cut emissions, reduce waste, and build a sustainable and self-reliant economy could push India toward recycling and reusing its end-of-life solar energy components, says a new report.

          “The adoption of a circular approach to managing end-of-life solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, wind blades, and batteries would reduce future wastage of the high-value, critical raw materials needed for India’s massive clean energy transition,” writes the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA. 

        • Enbridge Celebrates, Indigenous Campaigners Vow to Fight, as Line 3 Pipeline Starts Up Today

          Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project is expected to enter into service on today, making it the first major Canadian pipeline project to be completed since 2015. The milestone has fossils declaring a significant victory, while Indigenous campaigners vow to disrupt construction work that is still under way.

          “This is a big win for sure,” Leo Golden, Enbridge’s vice-president of Line 3 Project Execution, told The Canadian Press. “I think part of it has been just how long it has taken us to get here.”

        • MIT Study Sees Hydrogen for Grid Backup, Despite Emissions Impact of Gas Feedstocks

          Hydrogen will be a competitive source of back-up power for renewable sources like wind and solar, according to a new study by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITei).

          Power storage and back-up generation will become increasing important in providing back-up peaking power as variable and intermittent renewables account for a growing share of power generation. So MIT researchers conducted a technical and economic review of power supply options for the California grid, including lithium-ion batteries, green hydrogen, and blue hydrogen, TechXplore reports.

        • SoCalGas to Pay $1.8B for Aliso Canyon Methane Leak

          Sempra Energy’s SoCalGas in California will pay a total of US$1.8 billion in settlement claims to atone for a 2015 gas leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility that was, to date, the worst methane discharge in U.S. history.

          “Nearly 36,000 individuals were plaintiffs in lawsuits brought against SoCalGas over the years, prompting the company to settle the outstanding cases with an initial $1.1 billion to be paid this month,” reports The Hill. The company says the cost will not be shouldered by customers.

        • Wet’suwet’en Call for More Support as Coastal GasLink Threatens Sacred River

          Having been unable to protect a sacred village site from Coastal GasLink’s wrecking ball, the Wet’suwet’en are now fighting to protect a vital watershed as the pipeline company moves to drill beneath a pristine river in northwestern British Columbia.

          The access road to a worksite on the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) “was destroyed and blockades have been erected ‘to stop the drilling under the sacred headwaters that nourish the Wet’suwet’en Yintah and all those within its catchment area’,” reports Bloomberg, citing a release from the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). 

        • Climate Advocates Voice Concerns Over Fossil Fuel Handouts in Stalled Infrastructure Legislation

          “Blah, blah, blah … Build back better. Blah, blah, blah …” Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist, said this week, taking a jab at President Biden’s signature legislative agenda, which is currently imperiled by disagreements within his own party. The pair of bills — a $1 trillion infrastructure package that passed the Senate with bipartisan support and the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act filled with social and climate program expansions — purports to take on climate change, but Thunberg dismissed the legislation in her comments during the opening session of the Youth4Climate event in Milan, Italy, on September 28. She added, “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: Net zero by 2025. By 2050! Words that sound great, but so far have led to no action.”

          In hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, Traditional Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe can relate to Thunberg’s words. She has not heard a single word from any politicians about what “building back better” looks like in practice since Hurricane Ida destroyed her home and the homes of thousands of others in south Louisiana just over a month ago. And she is painfully aware of projections from the United Nations that carbon emissions are on track to blow past Paris Agreement goals by 2030, with even more devastating consequences to come from the additional global heating.In early September, I photographed Parfait-Dardar in her destroyed home in Chauvin, Louisiana, about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, where her family is facing the impacts of the climate crisis in real time. Later that month, she told me that she sees the continued destruction of coastal communities as a reminder that leaders have done little to protect us from the catastrophic impacts of global warming despite decades of warnings from climate scientists. 

        • Anti-’Pinkwashing’ Campaign Sets Sight on Komen Partnership With Fossil Fuel-Backer Bank of America

          As corporations nationwide “go pink” in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month beginning Friday, an advocacy group has launched a campaign targeting one of the best known names related to the fight against the disease—Susan G. Komen—over the organization’s partnership with Bank of America, which “funds the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry.”

          The campaign is part of Breast Cancer Action’s ongoing efforts to push back against what it’s coined “pinkwashing”—when a company promotes a product emblazoned with pink ribbons signifying the battle against breast cancer but simultaneously markets or produces a product linked to the disease.

        • Helsinki to set sight on becoming carbon neutral by 2030, instead of 2035

          The Finnish capital has estimated that meeting the objective will require a decline of 80 per cent in emissions compared to 1990, a tall ask in light of the assumption that the decrease in transport emissions caused by the coronavirus epidemic is only temporary, according to the public broadcasting company.

          The target does not include emissions from, for example, food consumption and air travel by local residents.

        • In Your Facebook Feed: Oil Industry Pushback Against Biden Climate Plans

          The paid posts are part of a broad attack by the oil and gas industry against the budget bill, whose fate now hangs in the balance. Among the climate provisions that are likely to be left out of the plan is an effort to dismantle billions of dollars in fossil-fuel tax breaks — provisions that experts say incentivize the burning of fossil fuels responsible for catastrophic climate change.

        • Puerto Rico is on the brink of a power supply crisis. Protesters demand answers.

          Puerto Rico residents will see another increase in their electricity bill, even though they already pay twice as much as mainland U.S. customers for unreliable service.

          The increase comes the same week in which hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican power customers were subjected to blackouts several days in a row.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • For the Wolf

          Bumper stickers expressing the callous nature of the killers brazenly show two wolves in a rifle scope’s crosshairs, with the caption “Smoke a Pack a Day.” Let’s not be lulled into construing such vileness as mere differences in values.

          Such acts steal another’s right to life, allowing the thief to believe themself a great hunter for having “taken” the wolf. Never mind that the splendor of that wolf is snuffed out at all, and never mind that it furthermore was done in defiance of fair chase hunting ethics. There is nothing potent or masculine in this, nothing indicative of a brave or great white hunter.

        • We’re Living Through One of the Most Explosive Extinction Episodes Ever

          Climate change and biodiversity loss are locked together in a cycle of destruction and must be dealt with in tandem. The demise of the world’s coral reefs offers an example. Scientists predict that 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs will disappear over the next 20 years because of warming sea temperatures, acidic water and pollution. This will put at risk 4,000 species of fish and approximately a half billion people globally who depend on coral reef ecosystems for food, coastal protection and employment. Damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef alone could cost $1 billion a year in income from tourism spending and 10,000 jobs.

          The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the window is closing fast to avoid the worst climate outcomes. But the biodiversity crisis is even more immediate, and at least as alarming. With climate change, we have a plausible, if imperfect, strategy to avoid the worst outcomes. The world needs to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by around 2050 by reducing emissions and taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

        • The World Wants Greenland’s Minerals, but Greenlanders Are Wary

          At the moment, only two mines in Greenland are active, one producing rubies and the other anorthosite, used in paints, plastic coatings and special varieties of glass. But dozens of companies have exploration projects underway, and five have licenses to begin digging.

          Leaders of the new government in Greenland see the country’s ore as a means to work toward financial independence from Denmark. Greenland has a Parliament that oversees domestic affairs, but Denmark determines foreign policy and subsidizes the Greenland budget with 3.9 billion Danish kroner per year, or about $620 million.

          No one believes that Greenland’s reserves are big enough to make it the Saudi Arabia of nickel or titanium. Denmark would take a big share of any mining royalties.

    • Finance

      • Opinion | 2022 Must Be the Year We Defeat All the Political Corporate Grifters

        We’ve reached “maximum grift” in America, both in business and politics. We’re on the edge of a tipping point.

      • Ocasio-Cortez Slams Manchin for Opposing $3.5T Bill But Approving Defense Budget
      • By a Huge Margin, Berlin Votes to Expropriate Corporate Landlords

        Berlin—Sunday’s election results in Germany made one thing clear: Politics here is about to get a lot messier. After years of Merkel’s even-keeled, centrist reign atop a grand coalition of the center-right CDU and center-left SPD, the national election left the SPD scrambling to assemble a viable coalition on the left. But, while most international coverage either lamented Merkel’s departure or tried to make sense of the complex coalition negotiations confronting the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, another more stunning victory took place in Berlin. Following a years-long campaign by leftist activists, residents of the German capital voted to expropriate more than 240,000 privately owned apartments, in a referendum aimed at combating skyrocketing housing costs. The campaign, pointedly named “Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen” (Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen and Co.), had defied negative polling, warnings from business leaders, and opposition from major political parties to win a decisive 56.4 percent to 39 percent victory in Berlin.

      • “Feel-Good” News Story or Poverty Propaganda?

        A staple of the feel-good news cycle—along with pieces about skateboarding dogs and friendships spawned by misdialed texts—is the story of human suffering overcome through community, charity, and old-fashioned pluck. There is the 14-year-old who spent his summer vacation selling homemade popsicles to help his mother pay for food, rent, and a motorized wheelchair. In Utah, a couple crowdfunded $20,000 for their Papa John’s delivery guy, an 89-year-old retiree who returned to working 30 hours a week delivering pizzas because his monthly Social Security checks don’t cut it.

      • Opinion | Why Billionaires Love to Park Their Dynastic Wealth in Places Like South Dakota

        Billionaires love South Dakota, a sparsely-populated state with a population of 884,000.

      • Opinion | Failure to Suspend or Raise Debt Limit Would Hurt States

        State policymakers should be deeply concerned that Congress might act irresponsibly and fail to suspend or raise the debt limit—the maximum amount of money the federal government may legally borrow. If that happens, the federal government will need to impose massive reductions totaling roughly $1.2 trillion in the federal fiscal year that begins October 1, and likely will severely cut federal aid to states for schools, health care, and other services, which accounts for nearly a third of state spending nationally. The federal reductions also would likely drive the economy into recession, forcing down state revenues even as states struggle to address the COVID-19 crisis. A sharp fall in the stock market could do additional damage, causing the value of state pension funds and other investments to plummet. The economies of states, localities, and U.S. territories with large military installations and other federal operations would be hurt especially badly, as would tribal governments already reeling from the pandemic and its related effects.

      • Opinion | What This $3.5 Trillion ‘Build Back Better’ Battle Is Really About

        It’s crunch time for the Biden Budget, and likely for the future of the Biden administration, Democratic control of Congress, the fate of American democracy and hope for the world. No pressure! We tend to see political issues in ideological terms of Left versus Right, but in this situation that really gives too much credit to those throwing sand in the gears.

      • Top Bernie Sanders Aide Details Just How Popular the $3.5 Trillion Package Truly Is

        A video out Friday featuring numerous polls showing the popularity of the programs included in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that Democrats are trying to push through Congress—and narrated by one Sen. Bernie Sanders most senior aides—offered a scathing indictment of those within the party who continue to oppose the sweeping investments in childcare, Medicare expansion, housing, higher education, and climate.

        Warren Gunnels, longtime staff director and policy advisor for Sanders (I-Vt.) who sometimes referred to as the “keeper of receipts,” argues in the video that is not members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who are demanding passage of unpopular programs, but rather it is corporate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who are blocking an agenda that is widely supported by the American public.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • She Should Have Been the First Woman Democratic Nominee for Vice President

        The 1972 Democratic National Convention was a breakthrough moment for women in American politics. US Representative Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking candidacy for the presidency “as a Black person and as a female person,” which had been crudely dismissed by party power brokers, finally got its moment in the spotlight. With the collapse of Hubert Humphrey’s candidacy, many Black delegates who had been aligned with the former vice president shifted their support to Chisholm, giving her 152 votes for the nomination—far fewer than nominee George McGovern got, but far more than Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, who had once been the front-runner, and many of the other men who had bid unsuccessfully for the party’s nod.

      • When a Delay in Congress Is Actually a Win

        All day long on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted she would move the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor, even though there was no agreement on the Democrats’ historic child care, elder care, Medicare-enhancing, climate-change-fighting reconciliation bill.

      • California Wins Labor Reforms That Republicans Nearly Made Impossible
      • Britain’s Labour Party Is Still Missing in Action

        Brighton, UK—There have been 19 Labour leaders over the past 121 years, but only four of them have led their party to a general election victory. Don’t count on Keir Starmer being the fifth.

      • How the “Polarized” Political Parties Work Together Against the Public Interest

        The quiet harmony between the two parties created by the omnipresent power of Big Business and other powerful single-issue lobbyists is often the status quo. That’s why there are so few changes in this country’s politics.

        In many cases, the similarities of both major parties are tied to the fundamental concentration of power by the few over the many. In short, the two parties regularly agree on anti-democratic abuses of power. Granted, there are always a few exceptions among the rank & file. Here are some areas of Republican and Democrat concurrence:

      • House Delays Bipartisan Infrastructure Vote as Progressives Hold the Line
      • Former Sinema Aide Now Fights Tax Hikes as JPMorgan Chase Lobbyist
      • German Elections: a Rough Loss and a Triumph

        They were edged out by their SPD ex-partners, headed by Olaf Scholz, 63, with 25.7%. A pillar of the right wing of his party, he is burdened by shady corruption scandals from his earlier days as mayor of Hamburg and his recent years as Minister of Finance. But his confident, nonchalant personality and his party’s position as lesser evil won out after an amazing upward swoop from its hand-wringing debility and despondency less than a year ago.

        But to head a new government a majority of the Bundestag seats is necessary. In the past this always required a twosome. But the big chamber, jammed with 735 deputies, is now split up among six (or seven parties if one counts the Bavarian “Christians” separately), making it almost impossible for even two parties to reach a majority; so Olaf Scholz now needs two partners for a threesome. If his attempts fail, the Christians would get the option, and if they can harness up such a troika, they might still get to drive the ruling sleigh despite their second pace in the voting. Their losing leader Armin Laschet is still pressing  a political defibrillator with such hopes, but many in his Union blame him for the defeat and now prefer to drop him and his dreams of reversing fate. In this case, fate depends on two smaller parties, who must join three-player Skat with the Union or with the SPD.

      • Israel Has Not Earned an African Welcome

        Though he tenaciously believed in African unity, the African liberation struggle and its social and economic freedom, with these words legendary Pan-Africanist, Thomas Sankara spoke of a world community, one that transcended the narrow confines of birth and gender, of class and color, of faith and futility. Sankara urged “nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future . . .  a new society,” one built of freedom and equality.  Were this iconic African leader alive today he surely would be stunned by the warm embrace by some in the African continent of a supremacist state that promotes all that Sankara soundly rejected and for which he gladly gave his life as sacrifice to principle and purpose.

        Fashions come and go, cycling through the years—the cut of one’s suit narrows or widens; the hemline on a dress rises and falls, then rises again, to suit the changing tastes of the day. Yet every old fashion eventually comes around again. Just so, political accommodation with morally bankrupt regimes—like wide lapels or padded shoulders—never really goes away: rather, every few years we are treated to the same old rhetorical rags, pulled from the back of the closet, and paraded down the catwalk of international relations, generally for the benefit of unseen vested interests, all in the name of “pragmatism” and “reasonableness.”

      • Advocates Blast Biden for Embracing Trump’s ‘Racist’ Policy as Court Upholds Title 42 Expulsions

        Migrant rights advocates on Friday accused President Joe Biden of embracing his predecessor’s racist policies and endangering families following a court ruling that will allow the administration to continue expelling asylum-seekers under the pretext of protecting public health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

        “The president has adopted Trump’s racist policy as his own, without regard for the families and children harmed as a result.”—Neela Chakravartula, CGRS

      • “God’s Will Is Being Thwarted.” Even in Solid Republican Counties, Hard-Liners Seek More Partisan Control of Elections.

        Michele Carew would seem an unlikely target of Donald Trump loyalists who have fixated their fury on the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from the former president.

        The nonpartisan elections administrator in the staunchly Republican Hood County, just an hour southwest of Fort Worth, oversaw an election in which Trump got some 81% of the vote. It was among the former president’s larger margins of victory in Texas, which also went for him.

      • Opinion | Your Mail Is About to Get Slower and More Expensive—Blame Trump’s Men, Seriously

        Starting today, October 1, 2021, every American will face a real adverse consequence of Donald Trump’s making: slower mail at a higher price.

      • Europe After Angela Merkel: Is the Atlantic Era Over?

        The one thing that is certain is that after 16 years in power, Merkel will soon exit the scene. So the question that now arises is: What shape will post-Merkel Europe take?

        Any answer must begin with an eye on the Élysée Palace, as French President Emmanuel Macron is set to become the senior most partner in the Franco-German partnership that has steered the EU since its founding in 1993.

      • YouTube Removes Legendary Meme Video After 14 Years for ‘Violence’

        “It’s got nothing to do with YouTube trying to clean up their image as there’s far worse content out there that they’re clearly not going to do anything about,” Weedon said. “I’m just sort of bewildered by the whole thing, but more than anything I’m just frustrated that a bunch of re-uploads of it are still allowed to stay online while mine has been taken down.”

      • Facebook whistleblower isn’t protected from possible company retaliation, experts say

        A Facebook whistleblower who provided tens of thousands of internal documents to federal regulators that reportedly show that the company lied about its ability to combat hate, violence and misinformation on its platform is set to reveal her identity in a nationally broadcast interview Sunday on CBS.

        The same ex-Facebook employee plans to testify Tuesday before Congress about the company “turning a blind eye” to harm caused by its products, including the impact on teens’ mental health.

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Facebook: Amplifying The Good Or The Bad? It’s Getting Ugly

        When the New York Times reported Facebook’s plan to improve its reputation, the fact that the initiative was called “Project Amplify” wasn’t a surprise. “Amplification” is at the core of the Facebook brand, and “amplify the good” is a central concept in its PR playbook.

      • Alex Jones cries foul after court rules he must pay for his Sandy Hook conspiracy theories

        The fatal shooting occured back in December 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza stormed the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school and gunned down twenty children and six adult staff. Shortly after the tragedy, Jones began to promulgate baseless conspiracy theories alleging that the event was staged by “crisis actors,” many of whom, he said, were parents of the victims.

        In 2018, six families of the Sandy Hook victims filed a defamation suit against Jones, claiming that they were subject to harassment, stalking, and death threats by Jones’ supporters. Another suit was filed by Leonard Pozner, another parent of the Sandy Hook victim, who Jones also accused of being a crisis actor.

      • Alex Jones loses twice in Texas court for failing to back up Sandy Hook school massacre lies with proof

        Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones may have to pay a fortune in damages to the parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre after he failed to produce evidence to back up lies he spread calling the 2012 shooting a “giant hoax,” according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

      • Where Breitbart’s False Claim That Democrats Want Republicans To Stay Unvaccinated Came From

        These differences in vaccination rates and COVID-19 death rates can be attributed to a few factors, including misinformation online and the erosion of trust in institutions such as the medical system and the media over the past few years. It can also be partly attributed to the rhetoric from Republican leaders and figures on the right, especially when you consider that similar partisan gaps have not been seen in other countries.

      • Science journal calls on scientists to combat Facebook misinformation

        The former chemistry professor added that social media had been skillfully exploited by “antiscience forces,” singling out Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, right wing public figures who have built up loyal followings.

        Communicating about research is inherently difficult because the scientific process is slow and iterative, with caveats and answers that aren’t always definitive, conceded Thorp — and such content does not always lend itself to viral posts.

        But the problem is “the antiscience opposition doesn’t care about the caveats,” he added.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Murderous Fantasies: the US Intelligence Effort Against Assange

        From the moment classified US documents were released with daring aplomb on the WikiLeaks site, Assange was treated as a political target sneeringly condemned by Joe Biden (then Vice President) as a “cyber terrorist”.  It did not matter that he had been granted political asylum by a foreign government, or that he had exposed the vicious nature of the US war machine in foreign lands.

        The central strategy of the enraged in the face of such exposure is conventionally dull.  Mock the publisher; redirect attention away from exposing the bloody mischief of empire.  In the court of public opinion, such an individual can be queered and rendered indigestible, motives rubbished, intentions trashed.  Cheeky public disclosure contrarians can be dismissed as cranks and discredited.

      • CIA reportedly plotted to kidnap and assassinate Julian Assange

        Media reports that the CIA considered criminal acts in pursuit of Julian Assange are deeply troubling.

      • Roaming Charges: The Dirtiest Word of All

        Of course, Trump had spent much of the previous year singing the praises of the Australian muckraker, as Wikileaks posted troves of damning emails and documents from the DNC and HRC’s campaign itself, disclosures which may have tipped the election to Trump. These campaign-stump encomiums to Assange by Trump led many of Assange’s supporters to believe that Trump might pardon Assange. But loyalty is fleeting in Trump World and it now seems likely that if Trump had pardoned Assange it would have been as the prelude to a hit.

        Even though Obama’s crackdowns on whistleblowers rivaled Nixon’s in their ferocity, he backed off from indicting Assange, even after the DNC hacks, perhaps fearing that it might have left a permanent blemish on his record. Whether he, too, secretly contemplated covert actions against Assange is not yet known. Though both Hillary and Democratic Party insiders like Bob Beckel openly mused about droning both Assange and Edward Snowden.

      • CIA plan to poison Assange wasn’t needed. The US found a ‘lawful’ way to disappear him

        A Yahoo News’ investigation reveals that, through much of 2017, the CIA weighed up whether to use wholly extrajudicial means to deal with the supposed threat posed by Julian Assange and his whistleblowers’ platform Wikileaks. The agency plotted either to kidnap or assassinate him.

        Shocking as the revelations are – exposing the entirely lawless approach of the main US intelligence agency – the Yahoo investigation nonetheless tends to obscure rather than shine a light on the bigger picture.

        Assange has not been deprived of his freedom for more than a decade because of an unimplemented rogue operation by the CIA. Rather, he has been held in various forms of captivity – disappeared – through the collaborations of various national governments and their intelligence agencies, aided by legal systems and the media, that have systematically violated his rights and legal due process.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • House Hearing on Abortion Was Historic. Now We Fight Hard for Abortion Access.
      • A Setback for Immigrant Rights – and a Reminder of Our Hollowed-Out Democracy

        This is a significant, if unsurprising, setback for immigration reform. It’s also a painful reminder that our democracy, already undermined by the disproportionate power of moneyed interests, is obstructed by the silent stranglehold of the filibuster.

        According to a number of recent polls, more than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent of likely voters) favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and this undocumented population includes not only DACA recipients (individuals brought here as children), but also recipients of Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons, as well as millions of undocumented people working in essential jobs in farms, factories, and medical settings (eight million people in all).

      • My Time With the FBI

        One of the FBI’s biggest blunders occurred when it falsely accused a hapless security guard of masterminding an explosion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  Richard Jewell heroically saved lives by detecting and removing a pipe bomb before it exploded.  But the FBI decided that Jewell had actually planted the bomb and leaked that charge to the media, which proceeded to drag Jewell’s life through the dirt for 88 days. The FBI did nothing to curb the media harassment long after it recognized Jewell was innocent. I flogged the FBI’s vilification of Jewell in my 2000 book,  Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion & Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years.

        In August 2001, I took a brief vacation in the mountains of western North Carolina. My then-spouse was leafing through a tourist guidebook and swooned over a chalet inn she saw that was far off the beaten path.  Alas, the directions to that hideaway were not worth a plug nickel. After futilely roving that zip code for an hour, I pulled up in front of a hardware store in Whittier, a one-stoplight  hamlet,  to cuss and recheck the map.

      • Why Are the Democrats Handing the Judicial Branch Over to the GOP?

        The Trump administration had very few accomplishments. Oh, they succeeded at destroying any number of things, like faith in democracy, but Trump and his cronies achieved very few of their “policy” goals. They didn’t build a wall. They didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare. They didn’t make America great. They didn’t really do anything they promised to do, except cut taxes for rich people—and stack the judiciary with conservative judges. In that one area, the Trump administration was wildly successful. It left behind over 200 federal judges who will be pushing the Republican agenda long after Trump (and many people reading this column) have slipped this mortal coil.

      • The Supreme Court and the Coming End of Abortion Rights

        Roe v. Wade is the famous US Supreme Court decision declaring that women have a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies.  The 1991 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision modified Roe, but a majority of Justices in the latter including Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter ruled that under most circumstances women still had a right to an abortion under most circumstances. Roe and Casey are constitutional precedents but remain controversial. Many would like to see Roe overturned.

        Roe v. Wade is legal precedent.  All things being equal, it should be followed.  Yet over the last 50 years since Roe was decided  presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush, and Donald Trump appointed Supreme Court Justices with the aim in part to overturn Roeand abortion rights.  Moreover, the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts have crafted the legal argument for rejecting Roe  as precedent.  How has this happened?

      • The U.S. – Haiti Border: How the United States Blocks Haitians Wherever They Go

        The U.S.-Haiti border had arrived. It came with 16 Coast Guard cutters roaming Haitian shores and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security opening up detention beds run by the private prison company GeoGroup in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. officials call this elastic apparatus in Caribbean waters, which can expand at a moment’s notice, the “third border.” Here, there is an enforcement web of many agencies—including the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, CBP Air and Marine, ICE, and even U.S. Southern Command—that emanates from the U.S. in Puerto Rico and South Florida. All these agencies participate in joint annual exercises, known as Integrated Advance, that are meant to deal with “maritime mass migration in the Caribbean.” Integrated Advance is part of Operation Vigilant Sentry, the DHS migration interdiction plan in the Caribbean. In 2015, officials even disguisedthemselves as migrants heading north on boats as part of the exercise and set up a command and control center. “A migrant operation is one of our most likely missions at Army South, so we have to be prepared,” said Major General Joseph P. DiSalvo, Army South’s commander.

        These DHS agencies also collaborate with local police units, such as Puerto Rico’s FURA, or help create and train them, like the Dominican Republic’s CESFRONT, the Dominican border guard. All these different factions of border enforcement wrap around Haiti like a boa constrictor. For example, when a 185-foot Haitian freighter carrying 80 Haitians crashed into Mona Island, a U.S. territory, the passengers jumped off the sinking ship and swam ashore, but since they lacked authorization to be in the United States, park rangers arrested them and transferred them to the U.S. Border Patrol in Puerto Rico. Within a week, they were back to Haiti, all thanks to a stroke of bad luck. A park ranger who had arrested the Haitians told me this story in 2012, but it could just as easily have happened in 2021.

      • Ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili arrested upon returning to Georgia

        Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested upon returning to the country on Friday, September 1, Interfax reported.

      • Opinion | The Expulsion of Migrants in Texas Highlights Decades of Failed US Foreign Policy Toward Haiti

        Just days before President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly, declaring his commitment to protecting human rights and dignity, the news was filled with images of U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents on horseback whipping migrants in Del Río, Texas.

      • The Fire This Time
      • Missing and Murdered People of Color an Afterthought to Gabby Petito’s Case

        The missing person case of 22-year-old Gabrielle (Gabby) Petito blew up headlines and social media in the weeks after her disappearance on a cross-country van trip with her boyfriend. In the wake of the Petito case, conversations about missing people of color have finally entered the national spotlight. But fights for publicity for these missing people began way before Petito’s tragic story broke.

      • B.C. Judge Rejects Extension of Fairy Creek Protest Injunction

        A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has refused a request from Teal Cedar Products to extend an injunction against anti-logging blockades at the Fairy Creek protest site.

        In delivering his judgement, Justice Douglas Thompson said the way the RCMP have been enforcing the injunction has led to “serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree,” reports CBC News. First granted in April, the ban against old-growth logging protests at the site expired this week. 

      • ECHR suspends human rights activist’s deportation from Russia

        The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Russia must not deport migrant rights activist Valentina Chupik to Uzbekistan until at least October 17. Chupik, who is an Uzbek citizen, has been in custody at an immigration detention center at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since September 25. 

      • Alec Karakatsanis on ‘Crime Surge’ Copaganda, Jane Manning on Gender-Based Crime
      • ​​Will the United States Officially Acknowledge That It Had a Secret Torture Site in Poland?

        One of the longest-held prisoners in the U.S. global war on terror is finally getting a day in court. Sort of. The prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, who has never been charged with a crime, has been waiting 14 years for a federal judge to rule on his habeas corpus petition that challenges the legality of his detention. But next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on a separate case: Zubaydah’s request that he be permitted to take testimony from the two CIA contractors who oversaw his torture.

        The Trump administration intervened to block public disclosure about how Zubaydah was treated while in U.S. custody, or even where he was held, and the Biden administration is continuing the fight. In its Supreme Court briefs, the administration has cited an array of arguments against allowing the two men to be deposed, citing everything from the state secrets privilege, which shields highly sensitive government information from being revealed in civil litigation, to the plot of the Oscar-winning thriller “Argo.”

      • Female Afghan judges hunted by the murderers they convicted

        They were the trailblazers of women’s rights in Afghanistan. They were the staunch defenders of the law, seeking justice for their country’s most marginalised. But now, more than 220 female Afghan judges are in hiding due to fear of retribution under Taliban rule. Six former female judges spoke to the BBC from secret locations across Afghanistan. All of their names have been changed for their safety.

      • Undercover operations: UK special court sentences police for sexual relations

        In at least 27 cases, British police officers have deceived women and entered into intimate relationships with them in undercover missions. According to a verdict handed down yesterday, the police force in charge also interfered with the physical integrity, privacy and political activities of those involved.

      • Kate Wilson deceived into relationship with undercover Met cop wins tribunal case against Metropolitan Police

        In 2010, Ms Wilson found out he was a married police officer called Mark Kennedy, who had been sent to spy on activists as part of the Met’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPIOU).

        Kennedy had sexual relationships with as many as 10 other women during his deployment, including one with a woman which lasted for six years before she discovered a passport in his real name.

      • Deceived activist Kate Wilson wins tribunal against Met Police

        The Met and NPCC accepted Mr Kennedy’s actions amounted to a breach of those rights but had denied other officers, apart from Mr Kennedy and his cover officer, knew or suspected that Ms Wilson was in a sexual relationship with the officer.

        However, Ms Wilson argued there was “widespread indifference, or express or tacit encouragement” for undercover officers to begin intimate relationships while they were deployed.

      • Activist duped into relationship with spy wins case against UK police

        However, in a ruling on Thursday, the tribunal found the Met’s claims undercover officers (UCOs) knew sexual relationships were banned were “materially undermined by the sheer frequency with which [Mr Kennedy] (and other UCOs) did conduct sexual relationships without either questions being asked or action being taken by senior officers”.

      • Los Angeles Cops Want $18 Million For Surveillance Software and Snacks

        The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition released a letter on Monday blasting the 183-page report. The proposal requests nearly $18.44 million to support many of the things that the community has spent recent years protesting. The letter, which was co-signed by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, describes the LAPD’s list of demands as a “disgusting insult to hundreds of thousands of people who took the streets last summer.”

        In the proposed budget, the LAPD requested $2 million to hire people to monitor social media accounts using a surveillance system that reportedly provides a “more holistic background on target subjects.” The system is already being used by the Major Crimes Division, but ten more licenses for other units would cost the city $450,000. This request also comes just weeks after it was revealed that LAPD officers are directed to collect and store social media handles when stopping civilians.

      • Family of Mona Rodriguez, Who Was Left Brain Dead After School Officer Shooting, Calls for Justice

        Eighteen-year-old Mona Rodriguez was left brain dead after a Long Beach, California, school resource officer fired at a car that was fleeing a scattering fight among teenagers on September 27.

      • Why the word “woman” is tying people in knots

        “BODIES WITH vaginas” is an odd way to refer to half the human race. Yet it was the quote that the Lancet, a medical journal, chose to feature on the cover of its latest issue, telling readers that “historically, the anatomy and physiology” of such bodies had been neglected. After complaints about dehumanising language, the Lancet apologised. But it is not alone. A growing number of officials and organisations are finding themselves tongue-tied when it comes to using the word “woman”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Blumenthal’s Finsta Debacle: It Remains Unacceptable That Our Politicians Are So Clueless About The Internet

        Fifteen years ago, the best example of how out of touch elected officials were regarding the internet was Senator Ted Stevens’ infamous “it’s a series of tubes” speech (which started out “I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday.”) Over the years, this unwillingness of those who put themselves in the position to regulate the internet to actually bother to understand it has become something of an unfortunate running joke. A decade ago, in the midst of the fight over SOPA/PIPA, we pointed out that it’s no longer okay for Congress to not know how the internet works. And yet, a decade has passed and things have not gotten much better. Senator Ron Johnson tried to compare the internet to a bridge into a small creek. Senator Orrin Hatch has no clue how Facebook makes money.

      • Tracking the Submissions: What the Government Heard in its Online Harms Consultation (Since It Refuses to Post Them)

        Blayne Haggart and Natasha TusikovDarryl Carmichael and Emily LaidlawFenwick McKelveyMichael GeistValerie Webber and Maggie MacDonald

      • The ‘Digital Divide’ Didn’t Just Show Up One Day. It’s The Direct Result Of Telecom Monopolization

        We’ve noted for a while that the entirety of DC has a blind spot when it comes to discussing the U.S. broadband problem. As in, U.S. broadband is plagued by regional monopolies that literally pay Congress to pretend the problem isn’t happening. That’s not an opinion. U.S. broadband is slow, expensive, patchy, with terrible customer service due to two clear things: regional monopolization (aka market failure), and state and federal regulatory capture (aka corruption). That the telecom industry employs an entire cottage industry of think tankers, consultants, and policy wonks to pretend this isn’t true doesn’t change reality.

      • Africa [Internet] riches plundered, contested by China broker

        Millions of [Internet] addresses assigned to Africa have been waylaid, some fraudulently, including through insider machinations linked to a former top employee of the nonprofit that assigns the continent’s addresses. Instead of serving Africa’s [Internet] development, many have benefited spammers and scammers, while others satiate Chinese appetites for pornography and gambling.

        New leadership at the nonprofit, AFRINIC, is working to reclaim the lost addresses. But a legal challenge by a deep-pocketed Chinese businessman is threatening the body’s very existence.

      • South Korean ISP SK Broadband sues Netflix for millions in bandwidth usage fees

        Netflix strikes deals with service providers like Comcast in the US so that its connection gets priority treatment and, ultimately, better video quality. However, Netflix is in a different position now than when it agreed to pay Comcast — it already lost in court, and SK Telecom isn’t incentivized to make a deal while regulators consider a pending Big Cable merger — so even though it has more weight to throw around, it’s also already provided an example of why it might pay in the first place.

      • S.Korea broadband firm sues Netflix after traffic surge from ‘Squid Game’

        But the Seoul Central District Court ruled against Netflix in June, saying that SK is seen as providing “a service provided at a cost” and it is “reasonable” for Netflix to be “obligated to provide something in return for the service”.

      • Netflix’s net neutrality logic loses ground in Korea

        A Seoul court’s decision last week that effectively confirmed Netflix‘s obligation to pay network usage fees to mobile carriers suggests that the global video streaming giant might have to change its business strategy in South Korea, according to industry sources Monday.

      • Netflix Sued By South Korean Internet Provider After ‘Squid Game’ Causes Traffic Surge

        In 2020, South Korean lawmakers passed an amendment to the country’s Telecommunications Business Act that effectively holds content providers like Netflix and YouTube liable to network issues stemming from high consumption of their content. Several experts have argued that the law violates the principle of net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a key principle of the open [Internet] that prevents [Internet] service providers from discriminating against certain types of data. Advocates of the principle claim that Korea’s policy only serves to hamper smaller content providers as larger providers will simply be able to pay [Internet] service providers for a more seamless service.

      • [Old] Netflix-SK dispute over net neutrality to continue

        “Netflix repeats claiming that transfer is free according to the principle of net neutrality,” SK said. “But the court said net neutrality is a separate issue from paying network usage fees in its first decision, and it is clear to the whole industry. Netflix is alone bucking the industry’s trend.”

    • Monopolies

      • Google Tells Judges It’s So Popular It’s Bing’s Top Search Term

        Google is so successful that it’s the most searched for term on Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine, the company’s lawyer told a European Union court on Tuesday.

      • Google says Bing users search for Google more than anything else

        “Google” is the most searched term on Bing “by far,” according to a lawyer working for Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to Bloomberg, Google made the argument while trying to get its $5 billion antitrust fine from the EU overturned, using the statistic as evidence that people use Google by choice, not force.

        The fine Google faces is from the European Commission, which says that Google has abused its position as the maker of Android. The regulator says that Google will have to stop forcing handset makers to pre-install Chrome and Google search if they want to have Android. Google’s argument? That most people would just use its search engine anyway.

      • Copyrights

        • Scarlett Johansson and Disney Settle ‘Black Widow’ Pay Lawsuit

          Scarlett Johansson and Disney have reached a settlement over her blockbuster lawsuit that accused the studio of sabotaging the theatrical release of “Black Widow” to prop up Disney Plus.

          Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Johansson had sought a $50 million payout from the studio.

        • ERR and Telia reach agreement on TV transmission

          Telecoms firm Telia and public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringääling (ERR) have reached an agreement which will enable the continuation of TV service provision. The news ends several months of impasse, though agreements with the two other major providers, Elisa and STV, are still to be reached.

        • Scarlett Johansson, Disney Settle Explosive ‘Black Widow’ Lawsuit

          The explosive suit, filed by the actress in July in Los Angeles Superior Court, claimed that the studio sacrificed the film’s box office potential in order to grow its fledgling Disney+ streaming service. Disney countered that Johansson was paid $20 million for the film.

        • Bond’s “No Time to Die” Leaks on Pirate Sites Before U.S. Premiere

          A new James Bond release is a big deal in the movie industry, one that usually comes with increased security precautions. That didn’t prevent “No Time to Die” from leaking on pirate sites soon after it hit international theaters and ahead of the US release. Whether many pirates will be interested in the low-quality ad-ridden footage, is up for debate.

        • EU Parliament Committee Adopts Digital Services Act

          The EU’s plans to modernize copyright law in Europe are moving ahead. The Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) has just adopted a draft of the new Digital Services Act. This brings the implementation of various new copyright restrictions, including rapid 30-minute takedowns and requirements to deal with “repeat infringers,” a step closer.

        • Pirate IPTV Service Nitro IPTV Asks Court to Dismiss Hollywood Lawsuit

          Last year a coalition of entertainment companies headed up by Universal, Paramount, Columbia, Disney and Amazon sued Alejandro Galindo, the operator of pirate IPTV service Nitro TV. After the case got bogged down with discovery issues due to fears of a criminal prosecution and a failure to serve, Galindo is now calling for the civil lawsuit to be dismissed.

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  19. Unlawful Regimes Even Hungary and Poland Would Envy

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