02.05.22

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 5/2/2022: Qubes OS 4.1.0 and Ultimate Edition 7.5?

Posted in News Roundup at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • System76 refreshes Kudu Linux laptop with Ryzen 7 CPU and up to 64GB RAM

        System76 has been selling Linux-powered laptop and desktop computers for years, some of which are based on ODM designs, and some with original designs. Now the company has a brand new high-end workstation laptop ready for nearly everything you can throw at it, complete with full support for desktop Linux.

        System76 announced the new ‘Kudu’ laptop on Tuesday (via Ars Technica), which is definitely more of a desktop replacement workstation than an ultrabook. Measuring 14.21 × 10.16 × 1.14 inches (36.09 × 25.81 × 2.90 cm) and weighing in at 4.85 lbs (2.20 kg), it’s equipped with a Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, a 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz display, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and a whole bunch of ports. System76 says the battery is user-replaceable, which is becoming increasingly rare on laptops.

    • Server

      • Steve Kemp: Removing my last server?

        In the past I used to run a number of virtual machines, or dedicated hosts. Currently I’m cut things down to only a single machine which I’m planning to remove.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • SuperTux Gnu/Noot! Noot!

        I’ve said for ages that I wanted to play SuperTux the platformer not SuperTux Kart the racer and that’s finally happening today, I have no idea how long the game is but I know it’s been in development for year.

      • Going Linux #418 · Keyboard Shortcuts

        Many Linux distributions provide keyboard shortcuts which, by pressing a combination of keys, help you do things that normally require a mouse, trackpad, or another input device. This episode provides a comparison of some of these keyboard shortcuts with those you might have used in your previous operating system.

    • Applications

      • Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to SAS/GRAPH

        SASSAS/GRAPH is a data visualization tool that lets you create effective, attention-grabbing graphs. It consists of a collection of procedures that let you produce a variety of charts, plots, 3-D scatter/surface plots, contour plots, and maps with user-defined data.

        SAS is proprietary software. What are the best free and open source alternatives to SAS/GRAPH?

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Enabling Fedora 35 Virtualization on an Ampere based machine | Adam Young’s Web Log

        I have a fresh install of Fedora 35 on a lab machine. I want to run a virtual machine on it. I have ssh access to the root account and a public key copied over.

      • How to Install LAMP Server on Amazon Linux 2 – JumpCloud

        LAMP is a term used to describe a set of open source software that, when combined, are used to support high-performance web applications, and its arguably one of the most widely used stacks for this purpose. It’s an acronym for Linux, Apache, MariaDB/MySQL, and PHP. It comprises three components (the Apache web server, MariaDB or MySQL relational database, and the PHP scripting language) residing on an operating system (Linux).

      • Wallpaper buglet fixed

        When EasyOS is built in woofQ, the default wallpaper is named ‘default.jpg’ or ‘default.png’. At bootup, the script /root/.xinitrc, that starts the X desktop, runs /usr/sbin/background_reshape, that truncates the current wallpaper image, top and bottom, so that it will fit whatever is your widescreen proportions.

        This truncated image is saved in a sub-directory, in my case it is /usr/share/backgrounds/177/default.jpg

        Fine, except at a version update, /usr/share/backgrounds/default.jpg has changed, but the generated one in folder ’177′ is still that of the previous version of Easy. Hence, the old wallpaper displays on the screen.

      • Louis-Philippe Véronneau – Migrating from ledger to hledger

        I first started using ledger — the original plain-text accounting software — in 2017. Since then, I had been pretty happy with my accounting routine, but grew a little annoyed by the repetitive manual work I had to do to assign recurring transactions to the right account.

        To make things easier, I had a collection of bash scripts to parse and convert the CSV files from my bank’s website1 into ledger entries. They were of course ugly, unreadable piles of sed-grep-regex and did not let met achieve the automation complexity I longed for.

      • How to install FreeCAD on a Chromebook

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

    • Games

      • Beyond Mankind: The Awakening Old School Action RPG Is Out Now on Linux

        Beyond Mankind: The Awakening is an old-school role playing game (RPG) that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. Developed by an independent team, the video game sports immersive RPG mechanics, a rich and dynamic world, tense combat, complex social interactions, as well as an intriguing and dark narrative.

        The video game also features unique character generation, real dilemmas, challenging survival mechanics, and 3D inventory management. Under the hood, it is written using the powerful and cross-platform Unity game engine developed by Unity Technologies.

      • Dying Light 2 Stay Human is out and works well on Linux | GamingOnLinux

        Dying Light 2 will be easily one of the biggest releases this year and the good news is that it works on Linux without any messing around. Note: personal purchase.

        Tested with Steam Play Proton (specifically Proton Experimental), so far the experience has been pretty good, although with a caveat that I’ve yet to try co-op. At least as far as single-player goes, it works really well. Interestingly for a lot of players on Windows, the game just crashed trying to start the game – no such problem here on Linux.

        Showing the true power of Proton as a compatibility layer, having such a high-profile release working out of the box on day-1 is a really fantastic thing for Linux. The original Dying Light is also one of my favourite open-world Zombie-smashers, so it’s quite exciting to get to run through Dying Light 2 right away like this.

      • Steam Deck Verified and Playable Games Cross the 250 Titles Mark

        Yet another update as things keep accelerating. Steam Deck Verified and Playable games just reached a total of 251 titles during our last refresh.

      • GPD Win 3: The Tide-Me-Over for the Steam Deck?

        The GPD (Gamepad Digital) Win 3 is a handheld PC manufactured in (you guessed it) Shenzhen, China. Impatient me didn’t want to wait for the Steam Deck, so I got this in the meantime. Sure, the Deck starts shipping just a month from now, but I’m in the Q2 category, so for all I know I could be waiting until June.

        [...]

        Suspend didn’t work under ChimeraOS. I either had to keep the device on or just shut it down completely.

        [...]

        After borking my ChimeraOS install (by running sudo frzr-unlock to unlock the immutable file system, then sudo pacman -Syu to upgrade the packages. Pretty dumb of me to do that), I went on to try Arch. Installation was also pretty painless here, but I had to apply the same tweaks as before to get audio working. I also had to correct the screen orientation, as it was in portrait mode, and install the touchscreen driver in order to get it to work. Then I just installed steamos-compositor-plus so I could get that console-like experience.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • This week in KDE: Discover redesign has begun

          We have put the finishing touches on Plasma 5.24 and started to work on 5.25 stuff, with two big improvements already merged: keyboard navigation for Panels, and the start of Discover’s UI redesign! Check those out below…

    • Distributions

      • pupX fixed

        pupX is a GUI to set various properties of the X server. It is to be found in the “Desktop” menu category.

        One popular use is to set mouse acceleration; however, that is broken.

      • New Releases

        • Qubes OS 4.1.0 has been released! | Qubes OS

          At long last, the Qubes 4.1.0 stable release has arrived! The culmination of years of development, this release brings a host of new features, major improvements, and numerous bug fixes. Read on to find out what’s new, how to install or upgrade to the new release, and all the noteworthy changes it includes.

      • Gentoo Family

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • GeckoLinux Pantheon | Review from an openSUSE User – CubicleNate’s Techpad

          GeckoLinux is the easy button for openSUSE. They give you a fantastic package of openSUSE in whatever flavor you choose. I would actually prefer if they just used the openSUSE branding but I understand why this is not included by default. Thankfully, it’s easy to just plug those things in as you see fit to give you the openSUSE joy you may want.

          I really like what GeckoLinux is doing. I have but only two simple recommendations to make it a better out-of-box experience: Adding GNOME Software and the elementary-sideload packages. Having those installed by default would be a vast improvement on the user experience.

          There is something unique and compelling about selecting your desktop environment in a simple, single ISO download. I chose Pantheon because it is the GTK based desktop that seems to have its own unique special sauce that you just don’t get from other DEs. Although it is not my cup of tea, it is the fancy “pinky out” as you sip sort which makes it fun to try out from time to time. GeckoLinux makes it easy to take a tour of an openSUSE Flavored Pantheon, and that alone is a compelling prospect.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Pixel testing update — Cockpit Project

          Since May last year, the Cockpit integration tests contain “pixel tests”, as described here. Let’s have a look at what has happened since then.

          [...]

          Right now, we have 52 pixel tests in Cockpit itself, 20 in Cockpit-machines, and 5 in Cockpit-podman. Each pixel test has a reference image for three layouts, so we have 231 of them, totalling about 10 MiB. The Git repository with all their history is about 22 MiB, for nine months of pixel testing. (The main Cockpit repository is about 110 MiB, for about nine years of hacking.)

          Pixel tests are kind of slow, up to a few seconds per image comparison. They might increase the running time of our tests by a couple of minutes. We will have to measure this more carefully.

        • Copr: Highlights
        • Fedora Community Blog: Friday’s Fedora Facts: 2022-05

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

          [...]

          The table below lists proposed Changes. See the ChangeSet page or Bugzilla for information on approved Changes.

        • Impacts from a new reality drive the need for an enhanced digital identity framework

          Since digital payments are becoming increasingly popular, users are perhaps more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks than ever before. The answer to this increased risk? A self-sovereign identity (SSI)—especially for the financial services sector.

        • Red Hat OpenShift Platform Plus Adds Data Foundation
      • Debian Family

        • Debian on an x86_64 tablet

          Recently I got an older Intel tablet, specifically the mpman Converter 102. It is one of the devices that have a 64-bit processor but a 32-bit UEFI. This makes booting normal linux distribution images impossible. This device had another limitation, it didn’t have a menu to boot from USB.

        • Meet Una, a Full-Featured MPR (AUR Fork) Helper for Debian and Ubuntu-Based Distros

          If you’re not familiar with MPR, let me tell you that it’s a fork of Arch Linux‘s AUR (Arch User Repository) designed to work on Debian GNU/Linux and derivatives like Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Pop!_OS Linux. Just like AUR, the MPR packages use the classic PKGBUILD shell script to provide build information required to build the packages.

          In other words, MPR, which was launched a few months ago, will help you install third-party packages (or newer versions of packages) that aren’t available in the software repositories of your Debian or Ubuntu-based distribution.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ultimate Edition 7.5?

          Software is in works of doing my job for me, seems to be doing it “almost” flawlessly & quickly. A picture they say says 1,000 words. Let me write you a book.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Programming/Development

        • Beginner’s guide to R: Syntax quirks you’ll want to know

          R syntax can seem a bit quirky, especially if your frame of reference is, well, pretty much any other programming language. Here are some unusual traits of the language you may find useful to understand as you embark on your journey to learn R.

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: corels 0.0.4 on CRAN: M1 Update

          An updated version of the corels package is now on CRAN! The ‘Certifiably Optimal RulE ListS (Corels)’ learner provides interpretable decision rules with an optimality guarantee.

          The change is (just like the previous one) chiefly an update to configure.ac in order to ensure R on M1 macOS finds the locally-added GNU GMP. Our thanks to the infatiguable Brian Ripley for the heads-up even containing the two needed assignments to LD and CPPFLAGS..

        • Python

          • CadQuery Comes Of Age | Hackaday

            Now, we know what some of you are going to say — “Oh man, not another programmatic CAD tool, what’s wrong with OpenSCAD?” — and you may be right, but maybe hold on a bit and take a look at this one, because we think that it’s now pretty awesome! OpenSCAD is great, we use it all the time round these parts, but it is a bit, you know, weird in places. Then along comes CadQuery, and blows it out of the water ease-of-use and functionality wise. Now, we’ve seen a few mentions of CadQuery over the years, and finally it’s become a full-blown toolset in its own right, complete with a graphical frontend/editor, CQ-editor. No odd dependencies on FreeCAD to be seen! That said, installing FreeCAD is not a bad thing either.

  • Leftovers

    • Dispatch from Belize

      Meanwhile Belize provides no escape from the news cycle. As investigation into the roots of the Big Lie of a rigged U.S. presidential election deepens, a completely different Big Lie continues to muddle global superpower conflicts: the Lie that enough military force can ensure security.

      The nuclear superpowers, confronted with how to respond to each other at points of tension like Ukraine and Taiwan, are certain that readiness for mass nuclear murder will deter rivals and help them get their way.

    • California’s Red Counties
    • Thomas Mann’s Sexual Politics Revisited

      Mann is back in the news now because of his fascinating connections and disconnections to Germany and the US, as well as his books, including Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, originally published during World War I and republished by the New York Review in 2021. Mann must have meant the title to be ironic. Politics was in his bloodt. Now, also there’s a new novel about Mann titled The Magician, by Colm Tóibín, a professor at Columbia and the author of a novel titled The Master about Henry James.

      The bourgeois, anti-fascist Thomas Mann is worth reading or rereading today. His books will likely distract you, entertain you and make you more conscious of the human condition.

    • Inside ProPublica’s Article Layout Framework

      Editorial design is a many-splendored thing. Cliché as it may be to say a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s no denying that even the most skillful and vivid deployment of the written word can benefit from a thoughtful visual presentation. Photography, illustration and video can humanize a story’s characters. Charts, graphs and other data visualizations clarify complicated concepts. Typography and color set an emotional tone. And bringing cohesive form to it all is perhaps the most invisible and least understood aspect of editorial design: layout.

    • 3D Printing Goes Near Infrared | Hackaday

      Researchers at the University of Texas have been experimenting with optical 3D printing using near infrared (NIR) light instead of the more traditional ultraviolet. They claim to have a proof of concept and, apparently, using NIR has many advantages. The actual paper is paywalled, but there are several good summaries, including one from [3D Printing Industry].

      UV light degrades certain materials and easily scatters in some media. However, decreasing the wavelength of light used in 3D printing has its own problems, notably less resolution and slower curing speed. To combat this, the researchers used an NIR-absorbant cyanine dye that exhibits rapid photocuring. The team reports times of 60 seconds per layer and resolution as high as 300 micrometers. Nanoparticles in the resin allow tuning of the part’s appearance and properties.

    • Why Rubber is Such a Problem for Retro Computing Enthusiasts

      Many retro computing enthusiasts have to deal with the headaches of decayed rubber and plastics. Here’s some advice from museum professionals and lab members.

      [...]

      I would’ve loved to claim I was targeted by Big Rubber while working on this piece; alas, it was nothing more than a chemical process. It all started with an attempt to restore an early-1990s Macintosh, during which I discovered that many of those Macs came with hard drives which turn faulty due to a degrading rubber dampener. A bit later, the rubberized sides of my vintage HP iPAQ handheld were discovered to be cracked. Newer devices were prone to degradation, too: this Christmas, I have inadvertently gifted a Nixon watch with a soft-touch coating which turned oily and sticky. With rubber decay being so widespread, is there some advice which museum professionals and people in academia can share? Let’s find out.

    • Science

      • Retrotechtacular: Understanding The Strength Of Structural Shapes | Hackaday

        Strength. Rigidity. Dependability. The ability to bear weight without buckling. These are all things that we look for when we build a mechanical structure. And in today’s Retrotechtacular we take a closer look at the answer to a question: “What’s in A Shape?”

        As it turns out, quite a lot. In a wonderful film by the prolific Jam Handy Organization in the 1940’s, we take a scientific look at how shape affects the load bearing capacity of a beam. A single sided piece of metal, angle iron, C-channel, and boxed tubing all made of the same thickness metal are compared to see not just just how much load they can take, but also how they fail.

        The concepts are then given practical application in things that we still deal with on a daily basis: Bridges, cars, aircraft, and buildings. Aircraft spars, bridge beams, car frames, and building girders all benefit from the engineering discussed in this time capsule of film.

      • New Study Reveals How Octopuses May Have Been Extraterrestrial Organisms From Space

        For years, scientists have speculated that a passing comet may have given the fundamental seeds of life to Earth, but a startling new idea posits that far greater forms of life may have arrived from space. According to one scientific belief, octopuses are extraterrestrial organisms developed on another planet.

    • Education

      • Economists Say Raise Pay to Solve Public School Staffing Crisis

        A new report out Thursday documents growing staffing shortages in public K-12 schools throughout the U.S. and makes clear that the crisis cannot be solved without raising pay and investing in the education workforce—starting by using unspent federal Covid-19 relief funds as a “down payment.”

        According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which first presented its research last week to a task force of the American Federation of Teachers, employment in public elementary and secondary schools decreased by nearly 5% overall from fall 2019 to fall 2021. The number of people employed as teachers fell by 6.8%, bus drivers by 14.6%, and custodians by 6%.

      • Biden Education Dept. Reverses on Student Debt Case After Reporting Stirred Outrage

        In a boon for both student borrowers and investigative reporting, the U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced a reversal related to student loan court challenge just two days after The Daily Poster revealed the Biden administration was trying to “bolster a legal precedent against millions of debtors being crushed by bankruptcy laws.”

        A Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson confirmed in a statement that the administration will now withdraw a notice of appeal filed last month after a federal judge in Delaware ruled in favor of providing 35-year-old Ryan Wolfson, an epileptic man who struggled to find full-time employment, with nearly $100,000 in student loan relief.

    • Hardware

      • Automakers continue to see chip-supply carnage • The Register

        Jaguar Land Rover, the custodian of those iconic British car brands owned by India’s Tata Motors, this week announced lost £9m in the final quarter of 2021 in part down to the global semiconductor shortage which followed the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

        JLR said retail sales fell nearly 38 per cent on a year earlier, although revenue was up by 22 per cent to £4.7bn.

        The company said passenger car production in most markets had been hit by the continuing supply shortage of semiconductors. The shortages were likely to continue throughout 2022, it added.

      • Modular Synth Pairs Perfectly With The Apple II | Hackaday

        We have a soft spot for synthesizers – seriously, who doesn’t? So when [Joshua Coleman] combined his retro-looking DIY modular synth with the equally retro Apple II computer, we just had to share it with you.

        The two machines are paired using a vintage digital-to-analog logic controller pack. This DAC was originally used to control model trains using your Apple II – something that we now desperately need to see in action. The pack can output voltages between 0 and 2.55 V at 8-bit resolution (or 256 steps), which is plenty for a retro synth.

        With the card installed in Slot 7 of the Apple II and the DAC wired through to the synth’s CV/gate, it’s then a trivial matter of writing POKE statements in Applesoft BASIC to control the synth. The video after the break demonstrates playing a simple melody, as well as how one might use the Apple II keyboard to ‘play’ the synth in real time.

      • Conveyor Belt Printer Mod Is Nearly All Printed | Hackaday

        [Call Me Swal] wanted to experiment with large 3D prints. So he took a Hornet 3D printer and designed a lot of 3D parts to convert it into an “infinite” conveyor belt printer. It looks like — as you can see in the video below — that all the parts are 3D printed but you will still need to buy material for the actual belt.

        Of course, you may not have a Hornet, but the idea would be applicable to just about any similar printer. You’d have to, of course, adapt or redesign the parts.

        If you haven’t encountered belt printers before, you might think it is as simple as putting a conveyor belt in place of the heated bed. Some early belt printers worked that way, and they were mainly meant for printing normal parts and then dumping them into a bin so you could print again without operator intervention.

      • Adafruit Hack Chat Helps You Copy That Floppy | Hackaday

        Now here comes the tricky part: unless you happen to have a 1990s vintage computer laying around, getting these drives hooked up is decidedly non-trivial. Which is why Adafruit have been researching how to interface the drives with modern microcontrollers. This includes the Adafruit_Floppy project, which aims to port the well known Greaseweazle and FluxEngine firmwares to affordable MCUs like the Raspberry Pi Pico. There’s also been promising developments with bringing native floppy support to CircuitPython, which would make reading these disks as easy as writing a few lines of code.

      • 3D Printed Radiation Shields Get Put To The Test | Hackaday

        Don’t get too excited, a 3D printed radiation shield won’t keep you from getting irradiated during WWIII. But until the Doomsday Clock starts clanging its midnight bell, you can use one to improve the accuracy of your homebrew weather monitoring station by keeping the sun from heating up your temperature sensor. But how much does it help, and what material should you load up in your extruder to make one? Those questions, and more, are the topic of a fascinating whitepaper included in the upcoming volume of HardwareX.

    • Health/Nutrition/Agriculture

      • Clean Water? It’s Too Demanding and Expensive

        As a recent editorial penned by Bozeman Chronicle Editorial Board pointed out, Senate Bill 358, passed earlier this year, requires the state move from objective, “numeric” standards for determining water quality to amorphous, subjective “narrative” standards for that determination — essentially from measurable objective standards to something more ambiguous.

        These water quality standards are important, because they regulate the flow of nutrients into rivers — things like nitrogen and phosphorus, pollutants that promote the growth of algae and other plant life that degrade water quality and fish habitat.

      • The Pandemic Showed the Necessity of National Health Care

        One the one hand, the federal government has been actively intervening to help people avoid COVID-19 or recover from it. On the other, it’s standing by as Americans struggle with other ailments, exposing the vast fissures of a broken system.

        The government’s pandemic response has been imperfect but successful in many respects. Are there lessons for how we treat other diseases?

      • Mom sues social media giants for allegedly driving her 11-year-old daughter to suicide

        Amid the ongoing debate over the effects social media has on teens and children, a Connecticut mother filed a lawsuit last month against Meta and Snap for allegedly causing the tragic death of her 11-year-old daughter.

        In the lawsuit, mom Tammy Rodriguez claims that the “defective design, negligence and unreasonable dangerous features” of Meta and Snap’s products led her daughter, Selena Rodriguez, to die by suicide last July.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • A Change by Apple Is Tormenting Internet Companies, Especially Meta

          Meta’s warning and its cratering stock price were reminders that even among tech giants, Apple holds extraordinary sway because of its control of the iPhone. And the tech industry received a clear notice that a long-planned shift in how people’s information may be used online was having a dramatic impact on Madison Avenue and [Internet] companies that have spent years building businesses around selling ads.

        • A Guide to Audio Damage’s VST Plugins and How to Use Them

          Each Audio Damage VST is a little different and has its own look, style, and workflow. They’re all available in VST or AU format for macOS, Windows, and Ubuntu/Linux. The demo versions are fully functional for 20 minutes at a time and do not save presets.

        • Update takes down Microsoft 365 Admin Portal • The Register

          Microsoft’s legendary approach to quality was demonstrated this morning as the Microsoft 365 Admin Portal fell over.

          Without a hint of irony, the company posted: “We’ve identified a recent service update designed to improve user experience is causing impact.”

          The impact in question was an inability to access the admin portal, something unlikely to affect an end user pootling around in Excel, but a huge headache for an administrator trying to manage their tenant.

        • Security

          • Vulnerabilities that aren’t. ETag headers | Pen Test Partners

            This time we’re looking at the ETag (Entity Tag) header. I take some of the blame for this one as I first added a dissector of the header to Nikto’s headers plugin back in 2008, then other scanners added it.

            [...]

            This is a vulnerability that can reveal what could be deemed to be confidential information in very rare circumstances but is mostly “meh”.

            This isn’t to say you shouldn’t worry about it, but this is where the rest of the environment comes into consideration.

            If it is on an Internet facing web server then there is no real risk. However, if the web server is internal and has other legacy services (such as NFS running) then maybe think about altering that FileETag directive so the header doesn’t export ETags.

          • Suspected Chinese spies break into cloud accounts of News Corp journalists

            Online work accounts of News Corporation journalists were broken into by snoops seemingly with ties to China, it was claimed today.

            Rupert Murdoch’s empire announced the security breach on Friday, describing it as a “persistent cyber-attack,” and saying it had hired Mandiant to figure out what happened. It is believed the intruders were seeking messages, files and other internal information for Beijing’s spymasters.

            The intrusion was discovered on January 20, the corporation’s flagship British newspaper The Times reported this afternoon. The cyber-attack “included the targeting of emails and documents of some employees, including journalists,” wrote defense editor Larisa Brown.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Iowa Republican Authors Bill Demanding Cameras in Every Classroom in State
            • Opinion | Senators Have Re-Introduced the Highly Unpopular EARN IT Bill That Would Scan All Online Messages

              People don’t want outsiders reading their private messages—not their physical mail, not their texts, not their DMs, nothing. It’s a clear and obvious point, but one place it doesn’t seem to have reached is the U.S. Senate.

            • Google’s Surveillance Advertising Model under Attack on Both Sides of the Atlantic for Its Deep Privacy Problems

              Previous posts on PIA blog have mentioned that there were attempts to bring in a DSA ban for all micro-targeted advertising based on surveillance. That has failed, but the European Parliament does want some limitations on the kind of data that can be used for ad targeting. Sensitive information relating to a person’s political and religious beliefs, as well as their sexual orientation would be excluded. In addition, the MEPs voted to impose a complete ban on using surveillance advertising to target young people online. There are other important requirements in this area:

            • Effort Underway To Have Chile Add Access To Knowledge, Digital Sovereignty, And Privacy To Chilean Constitution

              Chile is in the middle of creating a new constitution — a process that seems fraught with both huge potential and tremendous risks, especially trying to do it amidst domestic social upheaval (though, I guess that’s when most constitutions tend to be written). A process is in place and 155 people are apparently been tasked with creating this new constitution. Apparently, part of the process is open to an element of crowdsourcing, in that people can submit and vote on certain proposals, meaning that a set of three proposals regarding the internet have been put forth:

            • Facebook is staring down a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges that will define its future

              Still, the decline in Facebook users says a lot about the power of choice and hints at the fallibility of a social media platform that has been ubiquitous in internet culture for nearly two decades.

            • Facebook users drop, while metaverse runs up a tab

              Why it matters: The numbers reinforce the sense, inside and outside the company, that the Facebook social network is now a legacy product for Meta, where the focus has shifted to newer realms like messaging, Instagram video and the metaverse.

            • 6 Reasons Meta Is in Trouble

              Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, suffered its biggest one-day wipeout ever on Thursday as its stock plummeted 26 percent and its market value plunged by more than $230 billion.

              Its crash followed a dismal earnings report on Wednesday, when Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, laid out how the company was navigating a tricky transition from social networking toward the so-called virtual world of the metaverse. On Thursday, a company spokesman reiterated statements from its earnings announcement and declined to comment further.

              Here are six reasons that Meta is in a difficult spot.

            • Certain risks of drones were wildly exhagerated

              That’s why we have already flocked to doorbell cameras for the police, that expose bad parenting, with the same defects of social media.

              And that’s why we are now going to adopt spying streetlights.

              All stuff that does the same surveillance as drones, just much more cheaply and discreetly. Smart cities, these are not.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Another Banner Year for the Military-Industrial Complex

        Twenty twenty-one was another banner year for the military-industrial complex, as Congress signed off on a near-record $778 billion in spending for the Pentagon and related work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy. That was $25 billion more than the Pentagon had even asked for.

      • Ex-Chicago Cop Jason Van Dyke Freed Early over Murdering Laquan McDonald; Activists Seek Fed Charges

        We go to Chicago, where protests erupted Thursday over the early release of the white ex-police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of killing a Black 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald in 2014. Van Dyke — who was the first police officer in the United States to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting — was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison but was freed early for “good behavior” after only serving a little over three years of his sentence. He was only convicted of murder a year after the shooting, when community activists pushed the Chicago police to release video footage of the incident showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald in the back 16 times as the teen was walking away from the scene. We speak with community organizer Will Calloway, who pushed for the video’s release, and activist Justin Blake, uncle of police shooting victim Jacob Blake, who supports calls for Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke. The two were both arrested and federally charged after joining the protests on Thursday.

      • RNC Censures Cheney, Kinzinger, Calls Jan. 6 “Legitimate Political Discourse”
      • Biden vs Cuba After Havana Syndrome

        While campaigning for President, Biden promised to undo Trump’s fresh mountain of sanctions while implying that the softer, Obama-era approach would be re-started.

        But Biden’s Cuba pledges evaporated like many other campaign promises. Not only has he continued Trump’s warlike approach to Cuba, Biden has taken additional actions that have led to widespread suffering for the average Cuban in a time of social crisis triggered by Covid.

      • GOP Declares Deadly Capitol Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’

        Progressives expressed outrage Friday after the Republican National Committee formally declared the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election “legitimate political discourse.” 

        “Mark this day for future reference.” 

      • Close the Bases, Reduce US Wars Abroad

        Vine’s more recent book, titled The United States of War A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State, examines the role Pentagon bases around the world play in how and where the United States decides to go to war. In addiiton to providing a history of US wars, it is Vine’s well-supported contention that the plethora and the placement of these bases has not only made war more likely, they have made it easier for those who manage US wars. Furthermore, as Vine’s history makes clear, the placement of bases near potential profit-making resources provides a clear warning to other nations to leave those resources alone unless they want war.

        Vine begins his history of the US warfare state before the US nation’s inception. In other words, he accurately defines what some historians euphemistically call the westward expansion as the beginning of US colonialism. Picking up from where the European settlers left off when the US war for independence ended, the US military began its own march westward, killing the indigenous folks they couldn’t chase off and stealing the land they lived on. Sometimes it was the military that came first, but more often it was the military that followed so-called settlers into those lands to fight off the people the settlers had displaced. Either way, the process ensured and enabled the ongoing theft of indigenous lands all the way to the Pacific Coast. That land which wasn’t stolen by US settlers was either taken by force or bought from another colonizer what had no right to sell it (Louisiana Purchase comes to mind).

      • Opinion | Senator Menendez Is Sabotaging Diplomacy and Escalating Iran Warpath

        Sen. Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, finally broke his relative silence Tuesday over the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal struck under the Obama administration. In so doing, the senator took up his role from 2015 as chief Democratic saboteur of the Iran nuclear negotiations right as U.S. and Iranian diplomats are claiming that the talks in Vienna are reaching their final stages. 

      • Western Lies and False Narratives About Ethiopia

        In all conflicts mainstream media plays a crucial role, often inflammatory, feeding the discord through a particular narrative. Western media claims it is independent, but this is fallacious; corporate owned or State sponsored, it is conditioned by a particular world-view, ideologically/politically, nationalistically, historically.

        After war erupted in Ethiopia in November 2020 western media have played a major role in spreading mis-/disinformation and, occasionally, outright lies. Together with foreign powers led by the United States, international human rights groups and elements within United Nations Agencies, they attacked and undermined the Ethiopian government.

      • Chomsky: US Approach to Ukraine Has “Left the Domain of Rational Discourse”
      • MintPress Study: NY Times, Washington Post Driving US to War with Russia Over Ukraine

        WASHINGTON – Amid tough talk from European and American leaders, a new MintPress study of our nation’s most influential media outlets reveals that it is the press that is driving the charge towards war with Russia over Ukraine. Ninety percent of recent opinion articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have taken a hawkish view on conflict, with anti-war voices few and far between. Opinion columns have overwhelmingly expressed support for sending U.S. weapons and troops to the region. Russia has universally been presented as the aggressor in this dispute, with media glossing over NATO’s role in amping tensions while barely mentioning the U.S. collaboration with Neo-Nazi elements within the Ukrainian ruling coalition. 

      • Defiant Pentagon Hides Poor Testing Results Behind Phony Firewall

        This effectively squashes debate and oversight of their programs. The costs come in the form of more expense, additional delays, and underperforming weapons in the hands of our military, which has and will cost lives.

        Nickolas H. Guertin, the Defense Department’s newly installed Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), wasted no time undermining his own office by going along with a scheme egged on by the military services to bury information about how the weapons they buy with taxpayer money are actually performing. Mr. Guertin endorsed his office’s new FY 2021 Annual Report, required by law, with wholesale deletions of presumably relevant material deemed not classified, but “Controlled Unclassified Information” (CUI), a category created during the Obama administration but not so dramatically exploited in these reports until now.

      • Special Privileges: Charlotte Bellis, Fortress New Zealand and the Taliban

        In theory, New Zealanders should have more claim to a right of return than their Trans-Tasman cousins. Australia lacks a charter or bill of rights that protects such entitlements; New Zealand does not. Article 18 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 outlines provisions on the freedom of movement, including the right for all New Zealand citizens to enter and leave the country.

        Australians can only rely on the mutable constructs of common law and weak judicial observations. At best, international law, fortified by Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, offer mild protections that have done little to make governments in Australia and New Zealand more tolerant of their returning citizens during these pandemic times.

      • What a Waste! $778 Billion for the Pentagon and Still Counting

        It can’t be emphasized enough just how many taxpayer dollars are now being showered on the Pentagon. That department’s astronomical budget adds up, for instance, to more than four times the cost of the most recent version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which sparked such horrified opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other alleged fiscal conservatives. Naturally, they didn’t blink when it came to lavishing ever more taxpayer dollars on the military-industrial complex.

        Opposing Build Back Better while throwing so much more money at the Pentagon marks the ultimate in budgetary and national-security hypocrisy. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that, if current trends continue, the Pentagon could receive a monumental $7.3 trillion-plus over the next decade, more than was spent during the peak decade of the Afghan and Iraq wars, when there were up to 190,000 American troops in those two countries alone. Sadly, but all too predictably, President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and contractors from Afghanistan hasn’t generated even the slightest peace dividend. Instead, any savings from that war are already being plowed into programs to counter China, official Washington’s budget-justifying threat of choice (even if outshone for the moment by the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine). And all of this despite the fact that the United States already spends three times as much as China on its military.

      • As Afghans Suffer, 44 Dems Join GOP to Block Assessment of US Sanctions

        A majority of House lawmakers on Thursday rejected a measure put forth by Rep. Pramila Jayapal that would have required an assessment of the humanitarian impact of the Biden administration’s economic sanctions on Afghanistan and the U.S. freezing nearly $10 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank.

        “This amendment is critical to ensure that our government doesn’t cause starvation and suffering abroad,” Jayapal (D-Wash.) said earlier Thursday.

      • Opinion | US Sanctions on Afghanistan Could Be Deadlier Than 20 Years of War

        Economic sanctions have, in recent years, become one of the most important tools of US foreign policy. There are currently more than 20 countries subjected to various sanctions from the US government.

      • “I Remember WMDs in Iraq”: Reporter Grills US Official on Russian Intel Claims
      • ‘I Remember WMDs in Iraq’: Reporter Calls Out US Official on Russian Intel Claims

        Veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee grilled a State Department spokesperson Thursday over the U.S. government’s refusal to provide direct evidence for its claim that Russia is planning to fabricate a mass casualty event as a pretext to invade Ukraine, an allegation that the Pentagon said is backed up by intelligence.

        During a press briefing, Lee asked the State Department’s Ned Price—a former CIA official—to furnish concrete proof of the government’s accusation, which suggests Russia is plotting an elaborate false flag attack involving a graphic “propaganda video… depicting corpses, crisis actors pretending to be mourners, and images of destroyed locations or military equipment.”

      • Suicide Bomber Who Killed U.S. Troops and Afghans “Likely” Used Unguarded Route to Kabul Airport Gate

        Days before the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, thousands of desperate Americans and Afghan allies seeking to flee the country were using unguarded routes across open fields and through narrow alleys to reach one of the only gates providing access to the Kabul airfield.

        Despite intelligence warning of terrorist attacks, U.S. military commanders encouraged use of the routes. Some U.S. officials even provided maps to evacuees trying to bypass Taliban fighters stationed at a checkpoint outside the airport.

      • Coups in Africa

        Coups in Africa had been declining for much of the past two decades. In the 10 years before 2021, there had been on average less than one successful coup per year, according to U.S. researchers Jonathan Powell and Clayton Thyne at the University of Central Florida and the University of Kentucky, respectively, who consolidated their findings on their Arrested Dictatorship website.

        The latest power grabs in Africa have raised concerns that the region could be backsliding from its progress toward greater democracy.

      • Jalisco cartel adopts Islamic militants’ tactics in its battle in Michoacán

        The mines used by the CJNG – generally considered Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization – are similar to those deployed by Iraqi insurgents and organizations such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in wars against the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades, although not as powerful, the newspaper Milenio reported.

      • Pence, defending his actions on Jan. 6, rebukes Trump as ‘wrong’

        “There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that former President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,’” Pence said in a speech Friday to a local chapter of the Federalist Society in Florida.

        “President Trump is wrong. … I had no right to overturn the election,” he said. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

        “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence continued.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Library sorry as student Twitter saga turns out to be tall tale

        The tweets were widely shared and liked, but later the library tweeted that it had deleted the thread because, “although it drew on our genuine experiences of talking to students throughout the pandemic, it was an imagined scenario and we’re sorry that this wasn’t clear”.

    • Environment

      • Eden Trashed
      • GOP Suggests Biden’s Fed Pick Shouldn’t Be Confirmed Due to Climate Views
      • GOP Grill Fed Nominee Sarah Bloom Raskin over Climate Views; Her Husband Rep. Jamie Raskin Responds

        We speak with Rep. Jamie Raskin about his wife Sarah Bloom Raskin’s grilling by a Senate panel Thursday over her qualifications to be President Biden’s nominee for the top bank regulator, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Republicans argue her past comments on climate change show she could use her position to discourage banks from lending to fossil fuel companies. Raskin said if she was confirmed, she would not be able to take such actions. “What they’re attacking is the idea there can be citizens who are fully aware of climate change and take it seriously, who can serve honorably and lawfully in other capacities,” says Rep. Raskin. “It is just an outrageous attack on her qualifications.” We’re also joined by “Love & the Constitution” director Madeleine Carter, whose film premieres Sunday.

      • More Than Two Dozen Major Lawsuits Are Putting a Price Tag on the Climate Damage Caused by Fossil Fuel Companies

        As it turns out, they overestimated the time span—and underestimated the price tag.

        At the end of December, the Marshall Fire devastated Boulder County, laying waste to more than 6,000 acres and incinerating more than 1,000 homes and seven commercial buildings at a projected cost of $1 billion, making it Colorado’s most destructive fire in terms of property loss.

      • Opinion | The US Military Is Poisoning Hawaii. President Biden, Shut Down Red Hill

        I would be remiss in my civic duty as a resident of Hawaii—and, for those who are not, my responsibility to every community impacted by the U.S. military—if I did not address the water crisis at Kapūkakī, otherwise known as Red Hill, Oʻahu.

      • The Pope, Children and Furry Companions

        Presumably the Pope was aware of the controversy to which his words would give rise. Because what does society think about this issue? According to surveys conducted among Western European citizens between 18 and 40 years of age, the majority prefer pets, and the prevailing reasons for not having children are, above all, of an economic and ecological nature. These people argue that our overpopulated planet does not need more inhabitants: population growth is one of the causes of both global warming and the loss of biodiversity. Moreover, the vast majority of salaries do not allow for decent housing, either to buy or to rent. Having two or three children is a huge expense that not everyone can afford. Likewise, raising children well requires dedication and time, neither of which is in abundance thanks to today’s busy work schedules.

        It is surprising that the Pope, a strong advocate of preserving the environment and making adoption measures more flexible, who never misses an opportunity to condemn inequality and consumerism, does not take into account the opinions of these potential fathers and mothers, who, like him, are aware of their responsibility towards the environment. He should also pay more attention to women around the world who are demanding the right to contraception and abortion.

      • Energy

        • House Dem Fumes Over Louis DeJoy’s Failure to Electrify USPS Truck Fleet
        • How the PR Industry Has Helped Big Oil Transform the Way We Think About the Environment

          Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a new column, Gaslit, which will navigate society’s dysfunctional relationship with fossil fuel disinformation. Have a tip or idea? Get in touch.

          Since 2008, the American Petroleum Institute (API), which is the U.S.’s largest oil and gas trade group, has paid the world’s largest PR firm, Edelman, $439.7 million. API isn’t the only group in the oil and gas sector to have paid a PR firm for its services. And Edelman isn’t the only PR firm to have received money from the oil and gas sector. 

        • Pipeline Safety Advocates Say Government ‘Has Failed’ the Public in the Wake of a Coastal Louisiana Oil Spill

          A nonprofit advocacy group focused on improving oil and gas pipeline safety is raising concerns about public accountability and transparency in the wake of a major diesel spill in coastal Louisiana after it went unreported to the public for weeks, despite contaminating or killing thousands of fish and dozens of alligators, birds, and other wildlife. The absence of news about the spill prompted the Pipeline Safety Trust to issue a press release on January 11, noting that the spill resulted from a severely corroded pipeline awaiting repair which federal regulators had flagged more than a year earlier.

          “I would like the public to know that the system has failed them in this case,” Bill Caram, the trust’s executive director, said by email.On December 27, 2021, the pipeline, owned by Collins Pipeline Co., ruptured and spilled about 315,000 gallons of diesel fuel into wetlands and ponds a few miles southeast of New Orleans. Just a week earlier, Louisiana state regulators approved a preliminary air permit for a proposed renewable diesel unit at a refinery run by the pipeline firm’s parent company, PBF Energy. 

        • Federal Court Deals Blow to ‘Noxious Fracked Gas’ Mountain Valley Pipeline

          Climate campaigners celebrated Thursday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit delivered yet another blow to a controversial gas project spanning over 300 miles in Virginia and West Virginia.

          “This decision again reinforces the truth that this destructive project must not be allowed to continue.”

        • Groups Give Biden 10 Executive Actions to Put ‘People Over Fossil Fuels’

          A coalition of progressive advocacy groups on Thursday released a checklist of 10 executive actions that U.S. President Joe Biden can take to put “people over fossil fuels.”

          “Biden should… take out his presidential pen and deliver on his climate promises.”

        • Why Is Matt Damon Shilling for [Cryptocurrency]?

          For many, the ad may simply be baffling. Most people remain fuzzy about what cryptocurrency is and may never have heard of Crypto.com. Launched under the name Monaco in 2016, the Singapore-based company claims to have 10 million users and projects that the number will boom to 100 million by 2023; Kris Marszalek, its chief executive, told The Financial Times in November that the company had seen “20-times revenue growth this year.” In a making-of video released in tandem with the new commercial, Marszalek outlines a messianic vision. “ ‘Fortune favors the brave’ is deeply personal,” he says. “It’s how we live. It’s what we believe in. This decade belongs to crypto.”

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Warriors for Whitebark Pine: Fighting for an Imperiled Forest

          My heart broke as healthy forests throughout the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem turned into an ocean of red dying trees in the blink of an eye, the result of a novel outbreak of native mountain pine beetles during the 2000s. Subsequent investigations have confirmed that whitebark pine has collapsed throughout North America due to the ravages of a nonnative fungal pathogen and an unprecedented outbreak of beetles unleashed by warming temperatures.

          In response, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed during 2020 to protect whitebark pine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A final decision is expected this spring.

        • Protect This Place: The Fragile and Enchanting Costa dos Corais
        • A butterfly conservatory is shutting down due to right-wing harassment

          The National Butterfly Center filed a lawsuit in 2017 after the Trump administration allegedly began construction of a wall, using chainsaws to destroy trees and other plant life, on center-owned property without permission. The 100-acre property is home to lush gardens and endangered plant life, as well as numerous nature trails that are the natural habitats of the more than 200 species of butterflies that live there.

    • Finance

      • Progressive Lawmakers Back Union Push by Hill Staffers

        Progressives in Congress offered their full-throated support to Capitol Hill staffers as they launched a unionization effort on Friday, with several lawmakers acknowledging that low pay and poor treatment are common in many congressional offices.

        “I’m proud to pay my staff a living wage and offer the most generous benefits Congress has to offer,” tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.). “But that’s the exception. That’s why we need to allow congressional staff to unionize.”

      • Maida Springer Kemp Championed Workers’ Rights on a Global Scale

        The American labor movement was built by Black workers, organizers, and activists, from the Rev. Addie L. Wyatt to Lucy Parsons to the washerwomen of Jackson, Miss., who formed the state’s first labor union in 1866 to the warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., fighting to unionize Amazon. Maida Springer Kemp, a union organizer who worked to connect the US and African trade movements, is just one of the incredible Black women whose determination and vision has shaped the history of labor in this country. During the height of Jim Crow, this daughter of Caribbean immigrants and former garment worker strode onto the world stage and took the struggle global.

      • January Sees Strong Job Growth as Omicron Leads to Cuts in Hours, Not Jobs
      • Steven Rosenfeld on Arizona ‘Audit,’ Sohale Mortazavi on Cryptocurrency
      • Back from the Brink: Argentina and the IMF Negotiate a Better Agreement

        The current government of President Alberto Fernández is facing harsh adversities from the enormous debt and other constraints inherited from the 2018 IMF agreementmade by the prior Mauricio Macri government. It is also dealing with the scourge of COVID-19. But the country had managed a near 10 percent growth rate last year, when economists had predicted a much more tepid recovery. With a growing economy, they managed to reduce the primary budget deficit by 3.5 percent of GDP in 2021. Argentina simply wanted the ability to continue its recovery, without the harmful conditionalities that had so often been included in past IMF programs.

        Most economists recognize the importance for governments to provide fiscal support for economies that are slowing today, in the midst of the pandemic and its economic and health impacts. That’s what both the Trump and the Biden administrations have done in the United States. That’s all that Argentina had been asking for itself — within the confines of its own resources. It had managed to achieve a trade balance. Argentina wasn’t asking for a new inflow of funds; the government just needed to avoid conditions that would stifle economic recovery, or harm poor and working people.

      • Poor People’s Campaign to Manchin: ‘We Do Not Quit Until We Win’

        Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin may have proclaimed the Build Back Better Act “dead” and attempted to bury it for good, but members of the Poor People’s Campaign made clear Thursday that they don’t have the luxury of giving up on legislation that would slash poverty, combat the climate crisis, and lower sky-high child care and medicine costs.

        “We do not quit until we win,” Jean Evansmore, chair of the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, said during a press conference in Manchin’s home state.

      • Putting Technology (and Billionaires) in Its Place

        As anyone who has followed my work will know, globalization is of particular interest to me: for more than 40 years I’ve been studying its impacts on different cultures and societies around the world. From Ladakh and Bhutan to Sweden and Australia, a clear pattern has emerged: as people are pushed into deepening dependence on large-scale, technological systems, ecological and social crises escalate.

        I’m not the only one to have seen this. In the International Forum on Globalization – a network I co-founded in 1992 – I worked with forty writers, journalists, academics and social and environmental leaders from around the world to inform the public about the ways in which “free-trade” treaties, the principal drivers of globalization, have eroded democracy, destroyed livelihoods, and accelerated resource extraction. In countries as disparate as Sweden and India, I have seen how globalization intensifies competition for jobs and resources, leading to dramatic social breakdown – including not only ethnic and religious conflict, but also depression, alcoholism and suicide.

      • Exploitation and Platform Capitalism

        Exploitation also becomes a seemingly tricky subject under platform capitalism. Traditionally, Marxist exploitation focuses on productive labor working for a wage over a set period of time. Ultimately, all forms of capitalism depend on working time as a key measure.

        Platform capitalism creates what became known as prosumers. These are individuals who are at the same time – consumers and producers “working” for corporate surplus value, i.e. profits. Prosumers are typical under platform capitalism. They produce content such as, for example, software, audiovisuals, texts, data, etc.

      • Failure to Pass Pro Act Makes Amazon Union Vote in Alabama Even Harder, Says Sanders

        As the National Labor Relations Board began sending out union election ballots to Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama on Friday—less than a year after the workers lost an initial election and the board accused the company of illegal interference—Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass proposed legislation that would strengthen unionization efforts.

        “We’re seeing efforts around the country for people to become unionized and we’re seeing corporations responding in sometimes absolutely illegal ways.”

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Coup ’22
      • AOC Headed to Texas Rally for Progressives Casar and Cisneros

        Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed Friday that she is heading to Texas later this month for a rally with a pair of progressive Democrats running to join her in the U.S. House of Representatives.

        “We are 10 days away from voting in Texas, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”

      • Facilitating Civic and Political Energies for the Common Good

        New billionaires are proliferating in numbers reflecting the record stock market surges. Some are enlightened and worried enough to gather with citizen group leaders to review the Plan, the strategy, timetable, and required budget. Those who count themselves in, and want to back the Plan, would pledge to contribute the total pledges of $10 billion for the ten-year effort. After the funding is secured, (possibly augmented with internet crowdfunding), the Plan commences in several coterminous stages.

        The First Stage is to get through Congress, vetoproof if necessary, the long overdue necessities for half of the U.S. population, which is poor, with collateral benefits for the entire country.

      • A Practical Radical Politics

        We also need to maintain a relentlessly radical analysis, to highlight the failures of systems and structures of power, aware that policies we might enact today won’t resolve existing crises or stave off collapse.

        Both things are true, and both things are relevant to the choices we make.

      • Political Corruption Sweepstakes: Casino Capitalism on Capitol Hill

        Just over a month ago, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi bought options worth millions in technology stocks. This was after her December 16 remarks that the U.S. is a “free market economy,” and law-makers should be allowed to participate in the stock market (translation: “I’m busy making a killing, so shut up about ethics”). The next day and on till December 21, she bought options worth millions for stocks in CRM, Walt Disney, Google and Roblox. To say that there was something unseemly about this would win you a prize for understatement.

        But Pelosi’s financial adventures are by no means the most shocking. For those with memories longer than the latest news cycle, there was the senatorial stock scandal of January 2020, when Americans received an unambiguous demonstration of why lawmakers should be blocked from trading individual stocks. That was when then GOP Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, two eminences who are, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely loaded, found themselves in the midst of an insider trading hullaballoo.

      • Give Putin What He Wants

        Now, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is requesting a guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO.  The US should agree.

      • The Russians Are Coming: Are Beijing and Moscow at the Cusp of a Formal Alliance?

        The above is not an arbitrary statement. It is supported with facts. According to a survey conducted by China’s Global Times newspaper, the majority of the Chinese people value their country’s relations with Russia more than that of the EU and certainly more than that of the United States. The newspaper reported that such a finding makes it “the first time in 15 years that China-US ties did not top the list of the important bilateral relations in the Global Times annual survey.”

        In fact, some kind of an alliance is already forming between China and Russia. The fact that the Chinese people are taking note of this and are supporting their government’s drive towards greater integration – political, economic and geostrategic – between Beijing and Moscow, indicates that the informal and potentially formal alliance is a long-term strategy for both nations.

      • Must Try Harder: Grading President Biden’s First Year

        With a mobilized progressive movement at his back, Joe Biden launched a clear break with the conservative consensus that has dominated our politics since Ronald Reagan. However, while this career centrist politician embraced what he called his “Roosevelt moment,” he enjoyed nothing like FDR’s majority in Congress or his connection with voters. The fate of Biden’s presidency will likely depend not just on whether he can produce—but on whether the progressive movement that helped bring him into office will be roused once more.

      • Roaming Charges: Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why, Babe

        At the time, the late Ed Herman had convinced me to start writing for LOOT (Lies of Our Times) and I said to Alex, what the hell am I supposed to do? The whole purpose of LOOT was to closely read each NYT story and expose their biases, lies and omissions. Cockburn said, “You’ll never get them all, Jeffrey. Pointing a few lies out, makes the rest of the falsities the ‘paper of record’ prints seem legit.”

        A decade later, we started a new campaign on CounterPunch to have people boycott the NYT until they fired their Pulitzer Prize winning fiction writers (sorry, reporters) Judith Miller, Thomas Friedman & a few others. We even had buttons printed up. In these prickly days this campaign would be denounced as an assault on free speech, an example of far-left intolerance.

      • “Love & the Constitution”: Rep. Jamie Raskin on Son’s Death, Trump’s Coup Plot & Protecting the Vote

        As more details emerge about Donald Trump’s role in the deadly January 6 insurrection, we’re joined by Congressmember Jamie Raskin, who serves on the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack and was the lead manager in Trump’s second impeachment trial. Raskin writes about the insurrection in a new memoir titled “Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy” and is featured in the new MSNBC documentary “Love & the Constitution,” which follows Raskin during Trump’s years in office leading up to the January 6 insurrection and the tragic death of Raskin’s son. “We knew that Trump was doing everything in his power to try to overturn the election,” says Raskin. “We had prepared for everything except for a violent insurrection overrunning the House and the Senate.” We’re also joined by “Love & the Constitution” director Madeleine Carter, whose film premieres Sunday.

      • New Tlaib, Jones Measure Could Slash US Child Poverty by Two-Thirds: Analysis

        As millions of poor and working-class Americans families endure increased hardship due to the recent lapse of the federal child tax credit, a pair of progressive U.S. lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that, if passed, would replace the expired lifeline with more generous benefits. 

        “In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no child should be living in poverty. But today, due to decades of policy failure, far too many children in America are.”

      • The cost of ripping and replacing Chinese cellular equipment has ballooned by billions

        The program was designed to “reimburse providers of advanced communications services for costs reasonably incurred for removing, replacing, and disposing of communications equipment and services” from ZTE and Huawei. After surveying networks that had the Chinese equipment in 2020, the FCC reported that it would cost over $1.8 billion to “remove and replace,” and estimated that around $1.6 billion would qualify for reimbursement.

      • Church of Scientology Seeks to Undo ‘Sweeping’ Ruling in Danny Masterson Case

        The California Court of Appeal ruled on Jan. 20 that church members cannot be bound to a perpetual agreement to resolve disputes before a religious arbitration panel after the members have left the faith.

      • Chinese Dissident Ai Voices Criticism as Winter Games Open

        Ai Weiwei, possibly China’s best-known dissident, aired criticism of Beijing’s human rights record and response to the pandemic, in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, in which he also took aim at World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Ai also accused governments of showing too much deference to China for business or political interests.

      • Empty chair for Twitter, which skips EU hate speech meeting, citing COVID

        Social media and online platforms face a raft of legislative proposals on both sides of the Atlantic that will require them to do more to counter online hate speech and disinformation.

        In the EU, the Digital Services Act https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-parliament-agrees-proposal-new-rules-aimed-us-tech-giants-2022-01-20 would force tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of global turnover for non-compliance. Another planned law, the Digital Markets Act, would set out other rules for companies.

      • Facebook parent Meta loses $332 billion in one day

        Facebook’s parent company Meta experienced it’s biggest one-day loss in trading since it debuted on Wall St in 2012. The company saw a whopping 26% slump, taking $332 billion $US 237 billion) off its market value. Zuckerberg saw a $40 billion loss.

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Neil Young’s Stand Against Misinformation on Spotify Draws Curious Responses

        It’s no secret that the company, which is the world’s largest music streaming service provider with over 381 million monthly active users, doesn’t pay artists nearly enough to support themselves. This has compelled a number of famous musicians to criticize Spotify and remove their catalogues from it for a limited time. I don’t know of any journalist or popular commentator who has made a sensible case in support of Spotify’s unfair artist compensation practices. It also makes sense that musicians, rather than social media influencers, should be the primary subject matter experts on the topic, as they are the ones who are most affected by similar streaming services.

        Young’s statement, however, popularized an entirely new issue concerning false information on the platform as it relates to Joe Rogan’s podcast, which Spotify acquired through a licensing deal that cost them “more than $100 million.” Given the topic of the controversy, many writers in the U.S. voiced their opinions through various organizations, platforms, and social media feeds. Since quick responses to current trends generate the most engagement on social media, it was no surprise that articles against Neil Young’s decision were already being published and promoted before any additional statements and reporting had come out.

      • Episodes of Joe Rogan’s show are disappearing from Spotify

        All of that is why it’s just a bit weird that a bunch of episodes have gone missing with seemingly no explanation. (To be clear, the term “a bunch” is relative — the show has over 1,700 numbered episodes.) A spot check done by The Verge on the data from JRE Missing showed that the episodes were indeed no longer on Spotify, even though they had been available to subscribers as recently as last year.

        Spotify didn’t immediately reply to The Verge’s request for comment on why the episodes were removed, and most of the explanations that immediately jump to mind don’t seem to hold water. The episodes removed on Friday aren’t new — the most recent one featured Gad Saad and aired in 2018, and the oldest was episode four of the show from 2010. Given that the episodes were released years before the pandemic, they’re unlikely to contain any of the COVID misinformation that’s caused the recent controversy.

      • Spotify boss defends Joe Rogan deal as stock plunges

        The head of embattled streaming service Spotify has told staff that Joe Rogan is vital to the company, but that he doesn’t agree with the controversial podcaster.

        The comments were published Thursday as the firm’s stock went into freefall.

        Spotify has found itself stuck between its $100 million flagship talent and a popular backlash over Covid-19 misinformation on his shows.

      • About 19% of Spotify Users Say They’ve Canceled or Plan to Cancel Over Joe Rogan Controversy, Poll Finds. But Will That Exodus Really Happen?

        Among Spotify users, 19% said they have already canceled their service — or plan to — over the Rogan uproar, according to a Feb. 1 consumer poll conducted by Forrester Research.

        The study also found that 54% of those who use Spotify have no intention of canceling their subscription, while 18.5% said they would considering canceling only if more artists who they like pull their music from the platform. About 8.5% said they thought about canceling their subscription but that Spotify’s features were too important to them.

      • Why Did These ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ Episodes Get Yanked From Spotify?

        It’s unclear why the episodes in question were pulled, and representatives for Rogan and Spotify did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comments. However, eagle-eyed fans of the controversial podcast on Reddit observed that many of the deleted episodes contained racial slurs, ableist language and other content that could be deemed insensitive. Users noted episodes featuring Tom Segura and Greg Fitzsimmons were likely removed for usage of the n-word. (The repeated usage of racially charged language on the Joe Rogan Experience led singer-songwriter India Arie to pull her music from Spotify earlier this week.)

        Still, Reddit posters said, some of the removed episodes featured guests known for being particularly tame — such as documentarian Louis Theroux and comedian Pete Holmes — or lacked noticeable offensive content.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Banned Books Should Be Required Reading

        Decisions like these shortchange kids in every community.

        Authors like Spiegelman didn’t just write (or illustrate) their books for a Jewish audience. They wrote for a wider audience of people who don’t know how horrific the Holocaust was, what caused it, or that the Holocaust didn’t kill only Jews.

      • Tenth Circuit Tells College Administrator That Ordering A Student To Stop Talking About An Instructor Clearly Violates The First Amendment

        The First Amendment applies to school students. This is something courts seem to have particular difficulty drilling into the heads of school officials and administrators. Yes, their rights are somewhat limited due to their age and/or time and place restrictions, but they are closer to “fully respected” than “nonexistent” — the latter of which appears to be the default assumption for far too many educational entities.

      • House Votes For COMPETES Act, Even With Its Problems, Almost Entirely On Party Lines

        Congress is trying to overload anyone who supports an open internet with terrible bill after terrible bill. Last week, they brought out the “COMPETES Act” (renamed from Endless Frontiers which had already been renamed as “USICA” and then became COMPETES). The underlying concept of the bill actually is important — reviving American innovation. The Senate version of the bill was mostly good and had broad bipartisan support. However, for reasons I don’t understand, Nancy Pelosi allowed the bill to be loaded up with a bunch of items on the Democrats’ wish list, including the ridiculously dangerous SHOP SAFE Act.

      • How The EARN IT Act Is Significantly More Dangerous Than FOSTA

        I’ve already explained the dangers of the EARN IT Act, which is supported by 19 Senators, who are misleading people with a “fact” sheet that is mostly full of myths. As Senator Wyden has explained, EARN IT will undoubtedly make the problem of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) worse, not better.

      • GilvaSunner YouTube Channel Shuts Down Due To Copyright Strikes From Nintendo; Pokemon Releases Music

        The Nintendo vs. GilvaSunner YouTube channel saga has come to an end. It had become sort of an annual thing for Nintendo to copyright strike large numbers of videos on that channel, which mostly has “videos” consisting of beloved video game music from Nintendo titles. Over 100 videos were struck in 2019. Then another swath of videos were struck in 2020. After taking 2021 off, Nintendo struck over 1,300 of GilvaSunner’s uploads a few weeks ago. Now, while we’ve taking pains to point out that Nintendo can do this, as it owns that IP, it certainly didn’t have to go this route. There were plenty of other alternatives, including offering this music on any relevant streaming platform itself, which it has always declined to do.

      • Nintendo Hates You: More DMCA Takedowns Of YouTube Videos Of Game Music Despite No Legit Alternative

        I guess this is nearly an annual thing now. In 2019, we talked about how one YouTuber, GilvaSunner, had over one hundred YouTube videos blocked by Nintendo over copyright claims. GilvaSunner’s channel is dedicated to video game music, mostly from Nintendo games. Those videos consist of nothing but that music, as in no footage of video game gameplay. Nintendo, which certainly can take this sort of action from an IP standpoint, also doesn’t offer any legit alternative for fans to enjoy this music on any streaming service or the like. Then, in 2020, GilvaSunner had another whole swath of videos consisting of game music blocked by Nintendo over copyright claims. Still no legit alternative for those looking to enjoy music from Nintendo’s celebrated catalogue of games.

      • YouTube blocks channels belonging to the Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’

        YouTube has blocked several channels run by the de facto authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR). All of the accounts were “terminated for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” 

      • ‘TikTok, Boom.’ Review: A Documentary Looks at How TikTok Is Changing the World

        There’s a let-it-rip, if-it-feels-good-record-it aspect to the TikTok experience; the app basically turns the whole planet into your bedroom mirror. Yet as “TikTok, Boom.” reveals, that spirit is belied by how much of the content is regulated. Douyin, the original Chinese version of TikTok (it was launched in 2016), has strict provisions that don’t even allow people to appear with tattoos or dyed hair. And though TikTok itself is obviously much looser, the film explores the phenomenon of “shadowbanning,” in which certain videos, due to algorithmic judgments that happen off the radar, are basically banned by not being allowed to pile up any views or likes. At one point it was discovered that anything with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter or #GeorgeFloyd had been shadowbanned, a shocking suppression that the company tried to explain away as a “technical glitch.”

      • America is free, but China has begun censoring our films

        China’s impact on major American films is strong, but subtle — so subtle that it would go unnoticed by the public if it weren’t for eagle-eyed viewers. This influence is predicated on the omission or subtle alteration of information, rather than a clear, unequivocal message. One such instance occurred in mid-2021, when the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 film “Top Gun” — titled “Top Gun: Maverick” — sparked outrage in the United States when it was revealed in the trailer that the bomber jacket Tom Cruise wore was the same jacket he wore in the 1986 film, but with the flags of Japan and Taiwan removed and replaced with random symbols.

        This would not be significant if the jacket were not otherwise identical to that in the first film, but the fact that these two nations’ flags were replaced is an unmistakable demonstration of Chinese coercion. This conclusion is especially convincing considering the conflicts that China has with Japan and Taiwan.

      • Facebook bans me for three more days for criticizing the Minneapolis Police Department’s botched “no-knock warrant”
    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • How the “Moral Panic” of Critical Race Theory Morphed Into a Book-Banning Frenzy

        What nobody is talking about, though, is the why of this particular issue at this particular time.  As a result, we’re mistaking the tool for the goal.

        Moral panics, when driven by politicians, are usually just tools. This CRT moral panic is a tool being used by a coalition of interests to achieve their own goals, none of which have anything to do with teaching or not-teaching the history of race in America.

      • Divided We Fall

        One of the debates that is percolating (or should I say boiling over) throughout the country revolves around the teaching of slavery in public school history classes, with Critical Race Theory being identified as the leading culprit. Critics of Critical Race Theory (which is a theory developed by legal scholars that valorizes the plight of the victims of slavery and Jim Crow that animates various disciplinary perspectives in universities) argue that it is a threat to the American way of life. Clearly, what we need to ask these critics includes the question: Is there something about the American way of life that you wish to hide? What is it exactly that you wish to put under wraps? Do you consider the American way of life to be so fragile that those who are living it cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny of certain formative events in the past and how those past events have created serious problems and challenges to disenfranchised subaltern groups in the present? The objections against Critical Race Theory crumble at any serious introspection yet are so self-evident that they are impossible to ignore.

        In fact, let’s hope that Critical Race Theory does challenge the American way of life. But it appears that any challenges to the U.S. that emerge from the shadows of its official history are instantly decried in knee-jerk fashion as the demonic voices of socialists, Marxists or communists who wish to unburden our students of their patriotism and turn them into Manchurian candidates. A state Senate committee in Florida recently put forward legislation to block public schools and private businesses from making people feel “discomfort” when they’re taught about race. Similar legislation has been proposed and/or passed in dozens of red states. Such legislation, if passed, is destined to alter the very fabric of the teaching about history and other subjects in the curriculum. It will do nothing short of making a mockery of the important reasons why history should be included as an instrumental part of the school curriculum. The truths of America’s past that were born from internal conflicts and national and international disputes that need to be studied with some urgency today are often uncomfortable truths. They should not be taught in order to make students winch or squirm (although that can easily happen and in some cases should happen) but neither should they be smothered out of existence. A pedagogy of critical patriotism offers a glimpse into a past populated not only by historical racialized atrocities but also by American heroes who fought and risked their lives to end such atrocities, such as Martin Luther King.

      • South Dakota Governor Signs ‘Cruel and Dangerous’ Trans Sports Ban

        LGBTQ+ rights advocates on Thursday condemned a new South Dakota law banning transgender students from playing on sports teams matching their gender identity. 

        “This legislation isn’t solving an actual problem that South Dakota was facing: It is discrimination, plain and simple. Shame on Gov. Noem.”

      • Congressional Staffers Announce That They Are Unionizing
      • What Art Spiegelman’s Maus Means to the Children of Survivors

        Maus is the book that changed my life, that turned my vision of the world from black and white to color. Maus showed me it was possible to tell an honest and complex story about a parent who was a Holocaust survivor. Maus helped me figure out how to understand and explain my own family’s history. Maus made it possible for me reach for the words I needed and the anger I needed to talk about what had happened to my family before they were able to flee Germany. It is impossible for me to imagine what my life would have been like, or who I would be, if I had not read Maus.

      • Protests in Kazakhstan Rattle Russia and China

        Among the five -istans (Persian for “places”) that formed the Central Asian region of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan is the largest. Spread over 1 million square miles, it covers as much space as the 10 Western European countries combined. Located between two world powers—China and Russia—it provides a vital link to Europe for China’s colossal Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 to resurrect the ancient Silk Road and maritime trade routes, as well as develop new links, and to enhance economic and political cooperation between participating countries and regions.

      • Democrats Demand Biden Close ICE Jail Accused of Abusing Black Immigrants
      • Biden Administration Says It’s Keeping Pandemic Policy to Expel Asylum Seekers
      • How 18th-Century Quakers Led a Boycott of Sugar to Protest Against Slavery

        Quaker Benjamin Lay, a former sailor who had settled in Philadelphia in 1731 after living in the British sugar colony of Barbados, is known to have smashed his wife’s china in 1742 during the annual gathering of Quakers in the city. Although Lay’s actions were described by one newspaper as a “publick Testimony against the Vanity of Tea-drinking,” Lay also protested the consumption of slave-grown sugar, which was produced under horrific conditions in sugar colonies like Barbados.

        In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, only a few Quakers protested African slavery. Indeed, individual Quakers who did protest, like Lay, were often disowned for their actions because their activism disrupted the unity of the Quaker community. Beginning in the 1750s, Quakers’ support for slavery and the products of slave labor started to erode, as reformers like Quaker John Woolman urged their co-religionists in the North American Colonies and England to bring about change.

      • Opinion | After Six Amazon Employees Were Killed, Workers Are Demanding Safer Working Conditions

        The fight for justice and accountability continues for six Amazon employees who were killed when a warehouse roof collapsed during a tornado in December.

      • ‘Unnecessary and Irresponsible’: Biden Slammed for Continuation of Trump-Era Deportation Policy

        Immigrant rights defenders redoubled their calls to end a Trump-era deportation policy known as Title 42 after the CDC confirmed Thursday that the measure will remain in place despite long-standing criticism.

        “We need a humane, functioning asylum system. Not Title 42,” tweeted the National Immigration Forum.

      • The Fed is About to Shaft American Workers – For No Good Reason

        This line of reasoning is totally wrong.

      • HRW Report Reveals ‘Huge Toll’ of US Border Policy on 20,000+ Children

        More than 20,000 asylum-seeking children have been placed at risk of “serious harm” by the U.S. and Mexican governments as a result of the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols continued under the Biden administration, according to Human Rights Watch analysis published Friday.

        “The Biden administration has left vulnerable asylum-seekers stranded and should reverse course immediately.”

      • NYPD Was Supposed To Replace Hundreds Of Cops Working Administrative Jobs With Civilians. It Never Did.

        There’s apparently nothing the New York Police Department won’t lie about. When it comes to being overseen, the NYPD seems to feel it has no obligation to provide data, answer questions honestly, or cooperate with any accountability efforts.

      • The “American Experiment” is a Savage Nightmare

        In announcing his retirement from the absurdly powerful U.S. Supreme Court during a press event at the White House, the gabby octogenarian Stephen Breyer recently held up his pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and waxed sentimental on the greatness of the nation he loves. Breyer said that the USA was a great democratic “experiment” – “an experiment” that is “still going on…My grandchildren and their children, they’ll determine whether the experiment still works. And of course, I am an optimist, and I’m pretty sure it will,” Breyer said.

        “Revolting Barbarity and Shameless Hypocrisy”

      • Opinion | Instead of Freeing Palestinian Prisoners, New Scheme Aims at Punishing Their Families

        A scheme is underway to withhold or to reduce payments made by the Palestinian Authority to the families of Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli media, the Biden Administration has requested that the PA entirely overhauls its support system of Palestinian prisoners. The Palestinian leadership had already expressed willingness to engage the US in a ‘discussion.’

      • Can Israel Stop the World from Saying ‘Apartheid’? Concealing the Suffering in Palestine

        Weissbrod relayed Tel Aviv’s instructions regarding the report prepared by a UNHRC-appointed committee to the Israeli diplomats through this telegram: “The main goal [for Israel] is to delegitimize the committee, its members and products” and “To prevent or delay further decisions.”

        After a four year investigation, on February 1, 2022, Amnesty International released a 280-page report with a sharp headline, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians.” Amnesty “concluded that Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid, as a human rights violation and a violation of public international law wherever it imposes this system. It has assessed that almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities, as well as governmental and quasigovernmental institutions, are involved in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory] and against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.” Amnesty further said that these acts “amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid under both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid retaliated by accusing Amnesty of quoting “lies shared by terrorist organizations.” As if on cue, Israel’s government accused Amnesty of anti-Semitism. The Amnesty report will provide key material for the UNHRC investigation.

      • Small Alabama Town’s Overzealous Traffic Cops Also Monitored Internet Traffic To Threaten Critics Of The Corrupt PD

        Welcome back to Brookside, Alabama, home of the surprisingly expensive traffic ticket. Home to one (1) Dollar General, nine (9) police officers, two (2) drug dogs (one named “K9 Cash” just in case you had any doubts about the PD’s intentions), and one (1) Lt. Governor-ordered state audit. Brookside (pop. 1,253) made national headlines for soaking every passing driver officers could find with excessive fines, fees, vehicle seizures, and inconvenient court dates.

      • The sidestepping spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comment on ‘blood feuds’ shows that he needs to take another look at Russia’s Criminal Code

        Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has been sidestepping questions about the Chechen authorities’ threats against the Yangulbayev family all week. On Friday, February 4, journalists — referring to a “blood feud” threat made by Russian lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov — asked Peskov about the issue of blood feuds in Chechnya. 

      • Congressional Workers Union Announce Union Drive, With Speaker Pelosi’s Blessing

        Via its Twitter account, the Congressional Workers Union (CWU) announced “staff efforts to unionize the offices and committees of the United States Congress.” Citing a January survey by the Congressional Progressive Staff Association that found 91% of staffers want more workplace protections, and “more than a year of organizing as a volunteer group of congressional staff,” the group pledged its intention to unionize “in solidarity with our fellow workers across the United States and the world.”

      • Remembering the winter of protests Ten years ago, a real political struggle played out on the streets of Moscow. Here’s what it looked like.

        Ten years have passed since Russia’s winter protests of 2012. They began as demonstrations opposing voter fraud in the 2011 State Duma elections, and segued into rallies against the now-infamous “castling” that returned Vladimir Putin to the presidency. Indeed, large-scale opposition protests formed the backdrop of Putin’s 2012 presidential campaign. Looking back, it seems as though this was the last time that both the Russian authorities and their opponents were equally and seriously engaged in politics on the streets of Moscow. On the tenth anniversary of the protests, Meduza looks back at how this political struggle played out.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Senate Commerce Committee is Letting Big Telecom Hamstring the FCC

        Why allow a wildly unpopular industry to stall a pro-consumer nominee when Americans can’t wait another moment for fast, modern internet? Why continue a status quo that requires children to do their homework in parking lots to use the WiFi from fast food restaurants, or allows black neighborhoods to be digitally redlined by incumbent ISPs? Restoring net neutrality is overwhelmingly supported by the public; 76% of the public believes broadband is as critical to their daily lives as water and electricity. These things can be addressed by a fully staffed FCC. It’s easy to see why the industry is trying to stall Sohn’s confirmation. But their stall tactics are only successful if Senate Commerce leadership cooperates.

        Gigi Sohn has more than 30 years of work in promoting consumer focused policies as a public advocate in Washington, D.C. Her nomination has broad support, with more than 200 organizations, business trade groups, and state legislators endorsing her confirmation. It comes as no surprise that the industry incumbents she challenged as a consumer advocate, from the copyright industries to Comcast and AT&T, oppose her confirmation.

        What is surprising is that the minority party’s constant calls for delay are being allowed to stall the nomination process.  Chair Cantwell has let this bad-faith obstructionism continue for too long.  By comparison, President Trump’s nomination and confirmation of his last FCC Commissioner, Nate Simington, took approximately three months.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Python Web Proxy Convinces Sonos To Stream YouTube | Hackaday

        [Maurice-Michel Didelot] owns a Sonos smart speaker, and was lamenting the devices inability (or plain unwillingness) to stream music from online sources without using a subscription service. YouTube Music will work, but being a subscription product there is a monthly fee, which sucks since you can listen to plenty of content on YouTube for free. [Maurice] decided that the way forward was to dig into how the Sonos firmware accesses ‘web radio’ sources, and see if that could be leveraged to stream audio from YouTube via some kind of on-the-fly stream conversion process.

        [...]

        After a little digging, it was determined that Sonos supports AAC encoding (which is how MP4 encodes audio) but needs it wrapped in an ADTS (Audio Data Transport Stream) container. By building a reverse web-proxy application, in python using Flask, it was straightforward enough to grab the YouTube video ID from the web radio request, forward a request to YouTube using a modified version of pytube tweaked to not download the video, but stream it. Pytube enabled [Maurice] to extract the AAC audio ‘atoms’ from the MP4 container, and then wrap them up with ADTS and forward them onto the Sonos device, which happily thinks it’s just a plain old MP3 radio stream, even if it isn’t.

    • Monopolies

      • EFF to Appeals: Apple’s Monopoly Doesn’t Make Users Safer

        Users may not know or understand that Apple’s rules for the App Store can get in the way, by driving up app costs and limiting availability. Apple uses layers of digital locks to channel all app purchases and downloads through its App Store. Apple also requires that all in-app payments run through its own system, and siphons off a 30% cut. Users have no way of knowing, when they purchase a phone, how these policies can affect their current or future app experiences, including whether Apple will decide to kick an app out of the App Store altogether.

        Yet, in the antitrust case Epic Games v. Apple, in which the maker of Fortnite alleges that Apple has an illegal monopoly in iOS app distribution, a court ruled that since customers supposedly understand Apple’s policies and buy iPhones anyway when they could choose an Android phone, there’s competition in the market for distributing apps, and Apple’s ability to wield monopoly power is checked by competition from Android.

        The court got it wrong. That’s why EFF, along with attorneys from Constantine Cannon, filed an amicus brief siding with Epic Games in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, explaining that the trial court’s decision was contrary to law and defied the reality of mobile software distribution. The decision incorrectly presumed that, if customers are aware of the restrictions when purchasing a device, then competition in that market is sufficient to rein in Apple’s anticompetitive conduct and users are not locked into the App Store.

      • Patents

        • Apple, Broadcom undo $1bn Wi-Fi patent payout to Caltech • The Register

          Apple and Broadcom won a new trial to recalculate damages arising from a six-year-old legal battle over Wi-Fi patents developed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

          The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday upheld the 2020 verdict that Apple and Broadcom infringed two Caltech patents. But it vacated an infringement finding for a third patent, which will be retried, and also vacated $1.1bn in damages levied against the two companies.

          In 2016, Caltech sued Apple and Broadcom, which made Wi-Fi chips used in Apple iPhones at the time. The university accused the two companies of infringing three US patents (7,116,710, 7,421,032 and 7,916,781).

          Apple tried to have the patents invalidated but failed. The company was unable to convince the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that Caltech’s technology – techniques for Wi-Fi error correction – was unpatentable and obvious.

        • ‘Major Breakthrough’: South African Scientists Replicate Moderna Vaccine

          South African scientists have created a close replica of Moderna’s mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine without any assistance from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, a development that could have massive implications for the fight against global vaccine apartheid.

          “We were not intimidated, because mRNA synthesis is a fairly generic procedure.”

        • We Need a 92 Percent Tax on Pandemic Profiteers

          Even before the Covid pandemic supercharged economic inequality, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced as a 2020 presidential candidate that “billionaires should not exist.” That was a perfectly reasonable argument from a contender to lead a country that in the 1950s maintained a top marginal tax rate of 92 percent. But, as with so many of the senator’s proposals, the notion of taxing the rich down to size proved to be a bit too bold for both parties—and for the pundit class that polices the political discourse to ensure that things don’t get too interesting.

      • Copyrights

        • U.S. Seeks 5-Year Prison Sentence for Nintendo ‘Hacker’ Gary Bowser

          The U.S. Government is seeking a five-year prison sentence for Gary Bowser, a member of the infamous Nintendo modding group Team-Xecuter. The prosecution argues that a tough sentence is needed to send a clear message to other criminals. Bowser’s attorneys disagree and note that their client was used by other group members who, unlike him, probably made millions.

        • European Football Leagues Slam “Notice-and-Stay-Up” Provision in DSA

          Powerful football leagues are calling on EU legislators to fix a provision in the Digital Services Act that would allow pirated content to stay online following a takedown notice, until complaints can be verified. Any delay in the removal of pirated live streams would damage the interests of the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A plus dozens of other leagues, they argue.

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  27. Links 29/06/2022: Ubuntu Touch OTA-23

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  28. Cautionary Tales About an António Campinos-Run EPO

    The EPO is basically doomed under António Campinos because he abandoned the law for short term monetary gains (e.g. granting fake software patents under the guise of “4IR”), assuring the demise of the institution, which can no longer attract employees that meet the standard strictly required under the EPC, begetting outsourcing which only worsens everything



  29. Sustainability of Crime at the European Patent Office (EPO), Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation has voted for corruption; it wants violations of the law to carry on for several more years and it all boils down to money (they get paid more if they support breaches of laws, constitutions, and treaties)



  30. EPO is “Building a Team of C and D Players”

    This pretty well describes what happened to the EPO under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos


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