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Links 28/3/2021: Going Google-less and Tor Browser 10.0.15

  • Leftovers

    • Disabling video during online meets boosts communication

      'We found that video conferencing can actually reduce collective intelligence," said Anita Williams Woolley, Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business.

      "This is because it leads to more unequal contribution to conversation and disrupts vocal synchrony. Our study underscores the importance of audio cues, which appear to be compromised by video access," she added in a paper appeared in the journal PLoS One.

    • Education

      • Batley Grammar’s shameful capitulation

        What happened next was staggering, even by the standards of today’s yellow-bellied culture of self-censorship. Batley Grammar’s headmaster, Gary Kibble, suspended the teacher — pending an investigation — and issued a ‘sincere’ and ‘unequivocal’ apology for the ‘totally inappropriate’ display of the Muhammad image. The school also put on hold the part of the religious-studies course in which the Muhammad incident occurred. And it is being reported this morning that the school has switched to remote learning, telling teachers and kids to stay home.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Sanders Plans Push to Expand and Enhance Medicare in the Infrastructure Bill
      • Sputnik V’s ugly cousin Clinical results for Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine are finally here, but developers published in an obscure local journal, raising questions and concerns

        As the drug’s developers promised in a recent interview with Meduza, we now have a peer-reviewed scientific article that makes the case for EpiVacCorona, Russia’s latest coronavirus vaccine. Though the research didn’t arrive until March 25, the drug itself won regulatory approval back in October 2020 and has been available to Russian patients outside clinical trials for months. Until yesterday, the only public information about the vaccine was limited to two patents, several statements by Russia’s consumer protection agency (which controls the institute that developed EpiVacCorona), and a few interviews with the drug’s creators. Unfortunately, the long-awaited evidence leaves much to be desired. Notably, scientists released the article in a little-known Russian journal called Infection and Immunity, despite indications from health officials that the research would appear in a more authoritative outlet like The New English Journal of Medicine or The Lancet (which published the first peer-reviewed evidence for the “Sputnik V” vaccine). Meduza reviewed the EpiVacCorona article and asked three experts to assess its strengths and weaknesses.

      • France kicks off first medical marijuana trial

        A doctor in France wrote the country's first prescription for therapeutic cannabis on Friday, kicking off a two-year trial involving 3,000 patients that could lead to marijuana's legalisation for medical use.

        Cannabis is prohibited in France even for medical purposes, but patients' associations have been lobbying for years to get it cleared for use to relieve pain.

      • Telia analysis: People moving from cities to countryside

        Telia compared people's mobility in the previous week, that is the first full week of restrictions, and in the first week of March.

        Holger Haljand, head of corporate customers at Telia Estonia, said last week people's movement between larger cities and the neighboring municipalities decreased significantly.

        "This suggests that many people's usual routes to home and work or school have changed. At the same time, it can be seen that the movement between counties has been on an upward trend, meaning people, similarly to the emergency situation last year, have once again gone to their country and summer homes," Haljand said.

      • Facebook, Uber, and Microsoft plan to start bringing employees back to offices

        Facebook is reopening its offices in the Bay Area — including its Menlo Park headquarters — but limiting capacity at 10 percent to start. The company expects its largest offices to not reach 50 percent capacity until September, Bloomberg writes. In addition to limiting how many people are working in close proximity, Facebook also plans to require masks, social distancing, and weekly COVID-19 tests.

      • Facebook to Start Reopening Silicon Valley Offices in May

        Facebook will begin by opening Bay Area offices at just 10% capacity, and expects that its largest offices, including its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, won’t reach 50% capacity until early September. Employees have been able to work remotely since offices were closed last spring, and will be allowed to continue doing so until a month after their office returns to 50% capacity, a spokesperson said.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Nine Entertainment hit by suspected network attack

          Nine Entertainment, a major media company in Australia which owns free-to air TV stations and newspapers, has been hit by a suspected network attack that has interfered with its operations on Sunday.

        • How to Tell If Your Computer is Part of a Botnet? [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Wondering is my computer part of a botnet? There are a few indicators or signs that can prove to the fact that you are a part of a botnet. Understanding it will help you get access to the best action against the botnet infestation.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Billionaire-Backed Swedish Startup May Have Digital Cash Fix

              A Swedish fintech backed by billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi says it’s found a solution to one of the biggest nightmares of an increasingly cashless world: what happens if the Internet goes dark and we can’t use our phones or cards?

              Crunchfish AB, in which Al Amoudi holds 17% through investment unit Midroc, is developing software for mobile phones that lets consumers pay merchants in real time, offline and in any currency, including central bank digital currency and Bitcoin.

            • Facebook sets reopening for Silicon Valley campuses

              Facebook on Friday said its Silicon Valley offices will begin reopening to workers in May after a yearlong pandemic shutdown, but without perks such as free food and commuter shuttles.

              The Menlo Park headquarters and other locations in the region will start with 10 percent of "maximum seated capacity," the social media giant said.

              Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms shifted to remote work early in the pandemic, relying on the internet tools they create to get jobs done.

            • Former ECJ Judge: EU Plans For Indiscriminate Screening Of Private Messages („Chat Control“) Violate Fundamental Rights

              The EU Commission has announced draft legislation before the summer break that would legally oblige providers to generally screen online services for possible child sexual exploitation material and report users to law enforcement authorities. A public consultation on this project is underway, including on whether end-to-end encrypted communications services should be within the scope of the obligation, which would put an end to secure end-to-end encryption.

              Yesterday afternoon, the fourth trilogue between Commission, Council and Parliament took place. After the parliamentary majority (except for Greens/EFA and the Left) agreed to the principle of indiscriminately screening private correspondence, the few safeguards originally requested by the Parliament (e.g. maximum error rate of the algorithms, exception for professional secrecy) are gradually being eroded in the current negotiations.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Western govt contractor entrapped British scholar in sting operation to cover up Syria corruption scandal
      • As Junta Kills Over 100 in Myanmar, UN Expert Says It Is 'Past Time for the World to Respond'

        "The military celebrated Armed Forces Day by committing mass murder against the people it should be defending,"€ said United Nations special rapporteur Tom Andrews.

      • As Tide Turns, Houthis Reject US, Saudi “Peace” Deals for the Recycled Trash They Are

        SANA’A, YEMEN — March 26 marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign in the war-torn country of Yemen and massive demonstrations took place across the country on Friday in commemoration.

      • USA Today editor fired for post-Colorado shooting tweet

        Jhaveri declined to elaborate further about her experience or comment about her Medium essay when contacted by The Hill.

        A spokesperson for USA Today would not discuss the details of Jhaveri’s firing or comment on her essay.

      • 9 Hurt as Suspected Suicide Bomber Targets Indonesian Church

        In subsequent years, security forces in Indonesia scored some major successes in tackling militancy, but more recently there has been a resurgence of militant violence.

      • Fighting in town near Mozambique gas hub rages for second day

        Helicopter gunships exchanged fire with suspected Islamist insurgents as fighting raged for a second day around a gas hub town in northern Mozambique, a security source and a diplomat said.

        The government said security forces were working to restore order in Palma, which is adjacent to gas projects worth $60 billion led by companies including Total, after it came under a three-pronged attack on Wednesday.

      • Pushing the Boulder Jihad Into Invisibility

        Thus, we begin to understand why the Left is so unsympathetic to the victims of Jihad and Sharia -- and why it consistently pushes them into invisibility. Their reality and suffering is bad news for the Left. When people witness the horrific ordeal of human beings tortured and murdered by the adherents of Islamic supremacism, they begin to see Islam for what it is. The Left is determined to stop this from happening, since its agenda cannot succeed if people understand the truth about the threat that they face. This is exactly why the Left engaged in Gulag Denial throughout the Cold War; denying the monstrous evils of communism was crucial for the Left’s war on its own host society, and for its effort to help communists conquer that society.2

      • Zambia: Under Chinese influence

        China's presence is visible all over Africa. But nowhere as much as in Zambia, the African nation where it invested the most money last year. The ties between Beijing and Lusaka are strong and have existed for decades. Today, China possesses one third of Zambia's national debt. It has invested in the mining and industrial sectors, but also in agriculture. Some Zambians denounce this Chinese presence as a form of neo-colonialism.

      • West Sumatra’s Attempt to Adopt Sharia Law Should be Stopped

        Ade suspects that the background of the proposed MINANGKABAU SPECIAL REGION comes from the radical Islamic circles of West Sumatra who want to make West Sumatra like Aceh, an autonomous region that implements Sharia law. This is why they proposed “Special Region of Minangkabau,” not “Special Region of West Sumatra,” for they pursue a narrative for the Minangkabau ethnicity to be based on Sharia according to the Book of Allah.

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • What A Week

        Firstly I do promise that very shortly I shall get back to blogging about things that are not me. But it has been a wild week. I received intimation I had been found in contempt of court, my blog was taken down, I stood for internal election as an Action for Independence (AFI) candidate for the elections, I received the formal judgement on Contempt, I instructed lawyers to appeal, I was elected top of the list for the Lothians for AFI and my candidature announced with a real chance of being elected to the Scottish parliament, my blog was reinstated, Alex Salmond launched his political comeback with a new political party, Alba, and I along with all AFI candidates stood down from the election. All of that happened in five days.

      • Jaak Valge: Of freedom of speech and efforts to cancel history

        Cancel culture is nothing short of castrating history, while it is about more than that. It is also a threat to free society because its goal is not to find the best solution or the truth but rather to reinforce a particular ideology by limiting information and aggressively condemning attitudes that are out of favor. Efforts to chancel history have now arrived in Estonia, Jaak Valge writes.

      • Delete first, think later

        The European Commission had the clever idea that the Digital Services Act (DSA) it proposed in December 2020 should introduce smart rules for the online world but essentially maintain its cornerstones, which have governed how online platforms treat user-generated content for two decades. Content hosting providers are generally only liable for user content, if they have “actual knowledge” of any illegal content and do not remove it “expeditiously”.

        This general rule is an acknowledgment of a difficult fact: In a world in which people upload millions of hours of video and billions of photos and texts every day, it has become impossible to determine the legality of every single piece of it with certainty.

        Of course, some types of illegal online content are relatively easy to spot and should therefore be removed as soon as hosting providers find out, but most of those instances require an informed legality assessment by a trained professional in order to avoid a large number of wrongful removals.

      • What’s Behind the Fight Over Section 230

        What the fight is about, really: Everything. Our anxieties are now projected on those 26 words.

        Section 230 is a proxy fight for our discomfort with Facebook and Twitter having the power to silence the president of the United States or a high school student who has nowhere else to turn. The fight over the law reflects our fears that people can lie online seemingly without consequences. And it’s about a desire to hold people accountable when what happens online causes irreparable damage.

        It makes sense to ask whether Section 230 removes the incentives for online companies to put measures in place that would stop people from smearing those they don’t like or block the channels that facilitate drug sales. And likewise, it’s reasonable to ask if the real issue is that people want someone, anyone — a broken law or an unscrupulous [Internet] company — to blame for the bad things that humans do to one another.

        One topic of the congressional hearing on Thursday is the many proposed bills to amend Section 230, mostly around the edges. My colleague David McCabe helped me categorize the proposals into two (somewhat overlapping) buckets.

      • Man axed to death over blasphemy allegations in Punjab's Jhang

        However, the suspect later developed a grudge against Taqi and attacked him with an axe and killed him.

        Meanwhile, a senior police officer told Dawn that the suspect had killed the man after accusing him of committing blasphemy against companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

      • Watchdog: Police could take action over the sharing of Batley teacher’s identity

        Equality and Human Rights Commission chair Baroness Kishwer Falkner said: “Children’s education should not be disrupted by protests in what has already been a difficult year. The school is taking action and ought to be trusted to do so.

      • ‘They Tried To Cut Out My Tongue’: Blogger Survives Brutal Street Attack

        Just before the attack in the western French port city of Nantes on the 14th of March, the exiled Azerbaijani blogger had received a text message threatening to cut his tongue out, the latest in a long list of threats he’s received since becoming a vocal critic of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva. Aliyeva also happens to be the oil-rich country’s First Vice President, appointed by her husband in 2017.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • U.S. Lawmakers Demand Belarus Release Blogger Losik From Prison

        A group of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress has condemned the “unjust and illegitimate detainment” of Ihar Losik, a popular blogger and RFE/RL consultant jailed in Belarus, calling for his immediate release in the latest show of support from the highest echelons of government.

        In a letter addressed to Losik on March 26, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said they stand “shoulder to shoulder” with him, his family, and all other Belarusians struggling in the country’s pro-democracy movement amid a violent government crackdown following a presidential election last August that authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed to win and which the opposition says was rigged.

      • Assange Avoids Extradition—For Now

        While rejecting Assange's argument that prosecuting him would violate his right to free expression, Baraitser was persuaded by psychiatric testimony that his mental health had steadily declined in custody, creating a "substantial risk" that he would commit suicide in the harsh conditions he was apt to face in the United States. For that reason, and only that reason, Baraitser refused the extradition request.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Opinion | On a Quilt of Oppressions and Injustices

        Last Tuesday's mass shooting targeting Asian American women working at massage parlors in Atlanta was a horrific manifestation of historically rooted and systematically sustained racism, xenophobia, anti-Asian rhetoric, hypersexualization of Asian women, and misogyny.

      • Cops Hired by Amazon Are Intimidating Workers and Supporters of the Union Drive
      • Opinion | Celebrating Women Leaders of the Religious Socialism Movement

        The movement to connect the socialist cause with religious beliefs in the human right to shelter, healthcare, and necessities owes a great debt to many women.

      • Democrats see Georgia as opening salvo in war on voting rights

        Those measures add to the more than 250 bills introduced in legislatures across the country this year that will place new requirements or restrictions on the means of voting, according to tallies by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

      • Who will keep us safe in a world without police? We will

        After the lie that everyone's idea of safety must be the same, the next most harmful belief fostered by prison culture is that people within a community should have no stake in their own protection. Many of us have spent so long outsourcing problem-solving to police and prisons who are trained only in punishment that we have lost all reconciliation skills ourselves, sacrificing a healthy connection to our community in the process. We learn to falsely think of our neighbors as disconnected individuals whose propensity to harm can be snuffed out without snuffing out anything in ourselves, and forget what it is like to struggle together to take care of the people around us.

      • Iraq's Yazidis warn of ongoing threats from extremists

        In a landmark decision this month, Iraq's parliament passed the Yazidi Female Survivors Law, recognizing the atrocities committed by the extremist group known as "Islamic State," or "IS," against the ethno-religious group as genocide.

        When "IS," an Islamist terror group, took control of swathes of northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017, it killed, kidnapped and enslaved thousands ofYazidis, while tens of thousands more were forced to flee their homes.

      • Algerian Christian Prison Sentence Upheld

        Algerian Christian Hamid Soudad had his five-year prison sentence upheld during his appeal case on March 22. Courts convicted him of sharing a cartoon of Islam’s prophet on Facebook in 2018.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Peacock reps are telling Fire TV users to sideload the app

        What’s the holdup? As both CNBC and Matthew Keys reported last summer, NBCU and Amazon are mainly fighting over how to distribute the service. Amazon reportedly wants to sell Peacock subscriptions through its Prime Video Channels marketplace, while NBCU wants all customers flowing through its own app, where it would have more control over the experience—and users’ viewing data. A report from Vox last November reaffirmed that Channels distribution remains the big sticking point.

        The dispute is somewhat different from the one that kept Peacock off Roku devices until last September. As Bloomberg reported, that holdup was largely about how to share ad revenue.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Artificial Intelligence: Where is Human After All? [Ed: Patent extremists who push illegal software patents and the unconstitutional UPC would also have you believe patents should be generated by a computers and then granted for financial exploitation through litigation, which they profit from]

          The aim of my work was (and is still), essentially, to insist on the need to (re)take the right road, despite what I like to call “the DABUS Joke”. Thus, in the two above mentioned articles, which include a preamble and two parts, I propose a simple thesis: it is necessary to take into account what artificial intelligence really is, technically, to be able to apply it Patent Law rules, by considering AI from two perspectives: that of the Subject of Patent Law and that of the Object of Patent Law[3].

        • FOSS Patents: Western District of Texas: overview of €§ 1400(b) allegations made by patent holders suing major technology companies [Ed: Texas continues to discredit the patent system as a whole; it's existing for parasites rather than science]

          The rise of the Western District of Texas to the world's busiest patent litigation forum, in only a couple of years, is due to the combination of Judge Alan Albright's patentee-friendly leanings and the last six words of 28 U.S.C. ۤ 1400(b): "regular and established place of business."

          A company may be sued over an alleged patent infringement in a particular district if that is where it resides (state of incorporation as clarified in TC Heartland; this allows so many patent cases to be brought in the small state of Delaware) or "has committed acts of infringement" (which is a given if a company offers services or sells products on a nationwide basis) and "has a regular and established place of business."

      • Copyrights

        • Record Labels May Have Falsely Taken Credit for Artists' Works, Charter Tells Court

          The piracy liability lawsuit between ISP Charter and several major record labels continues. In a new filing this week, Charter requests permission to conduct new testimonies. The ISP plans to show that record labels falsely take credit for individual artist’s works by incorrectly registering the works as "made for hire" at the Copyright Office.

        • Reddit Users Targeted For Pirating OnlyFans and Other Subscription Model Images

          Platforms such as OnlyFans allow content creators, including those working in the adult space, to post content and earn money from fans. Others prefer to go it alone with their own subscription-based services but inevitably some consumers prefer to get that content for free, via illegal uploads to sites like Reddit. That, however, is not without legal risk.

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