Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 4/8/2021: Audacity as Spyware and PCLinuxOS Updates

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • My life with Linux: A retrospective

        Linux is 30 years old. What started as a student project by a young man studying computer science at the University of Helsinki, has become an operating system that enterprise businesses around the globe depend on. It's massive. It's crucial. And without Linux, most businesses wouldn't be nearly as agile, flexible, and reliable.

        Huzzah! But that's not what I want to talk about right now. I want to make this a bit more personal. Why? Because Linux changed my life. Sounds like hyperbole. It's not.

        Let me explain.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.13.8
        I'm announcing the release of the 5.13.8 kernel.

        All users of the 5.13 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.13.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-5.13.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:


        greg k-h
      • Linux 5.10.56
      • Linux 5.4.138
      • Linux 4.19.201
      • Linux 4.14.242
      • Linux 4.9.278
      • Linux 4.4.278
      • Happy 30th Birthday, Linux! [Ed: Happy 38th Birthday for GNU/Linux]

        Enrolled in the University of Helsinki, a young Linus Torvalds had gotten his hands on a 386 computer -- state of the art in its day. It was Intel's first 32 bit processor, and he wanted to be able to unlock its potential. There was a Unix operating system available for free, but only for educational purposes. It was called Minix. Its creator would not allow its source code to be altered, and largely ignored user requests for features. Minix featured, among other things, a modular kernel, in the belief that it would be easier to maintain. Unfortunately, it was only a 16 bit design, and its creator was reluctant to make a 32 bit version. All other Unix systems available for the new 32 bit platform were prohibitively expensive for regular, individual users.

        Thus, Linus Torvalds set out to make his own free kernel. At first, he built Linux on a computer running Minix, but ensured that Linux was free of proprietary Minix code. The rest of the story has been told and retold over the years, and is easily found on the internet.

      • Linux celebrates 30 years of open source goodness [Ed: Wait a second. 1. Open Source started 23 years ago. 2. GNU+Linux started 38 years ago. Linux Foundation pays this site (same company as ZDNet) to lie about history.]
    • Benchmarks

      • Arch Linux, Clear Linux, Fedora Compete On The ASUS ROG Strix G15 (Ryzen 9 5900HX)

        Following last month's look at the ASUS ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage laptop with Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and some of the initial hurdles seen on Ubuntu, readers were curious about how well other Linux distributions fared compatibility wise or if offering better performance elsewhere. Here are some tests across Arch Linux, Clear Linux, Fedora Workstation, and Ubuntu 21.04 for reference.

        When it comes to compatibility, each tested distribution worked fine when going through all available updates and getting to Linux 5.13 (or at least the latest Linux 5.12 point release on Clear Linux). The latest linux-firmware.git is also necessary if not shipped by the distribution in order to have working WiFi. The support criteria is basically what was laid out in the prior article on the ASUS ROG Strix G15. Basically, the newer the software components, the better.

    • Applications

      • 25 Best Free and Open Source Music Players

        There’s a huge raft of free and open source music software available on the Linux platform which is both mature and sophisticated. Linux has many music tools which offer enhanced functionality and integration with internet music services. With most desktop environments having several audio players, together with cross-platform applications, integrated media players, there is a plethora of music players to choose from.

        Like many types of software, the selection of a favorite music player is, to some extent, dependent on personal preferences. Nevertheless, we are confident that the applications featured in this article represent the most appealing music players.

      • Audacity: Now Considered Spyware

        Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...

        Over the last couple of months, the FreeNode IRC network has detonated or imploded (take your pick of which word to use, depending on your point of view), as we reported on last month. FreeNode was the IRC "home" of many FOSS projects.

        Prior to that, we were embroiled in (and reported on) another "scandal" where the new owners of LastPass made the popular password manager a subscription-based service, after being a free service ever since its inception.

        FOSS projects have taken a beating in 2021, and the year isn't but two-thirds done yet.

      • Apps for daily needs part 3: image editors

        Image editors are applications that are liked and needed by many people, from professional designers, students, or for those who have certain hobbies. Especially in this digital era, more and more people need image editors for various reasons. This article will introduce some of the open source image editors that you can use on Fedora Linux. You may need to install the software mentioned. If you are unfamiliar with how to add software packages in Fedora Linux, see my earlier article Things to do after installing Fedora 34 Workstation. Here is a list of a few apps for daily needs in the image editors category.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Inkscape Tutorial: New Release Highlights

        Inkscape 1.1 was released on May 24, 2021. It's the latest major Inkscape release. Let's look at some of the new features.

        --- A Welcome dialog, which is different. Choices for a new document's size or file to open are available. In the left column under "Time to Draw" are:

        Existing Files - This is self-explanatory; your previously created files would be listed here,

        Print - You can choose the page size you want when starting a new project,

        Screen - This gives you choices for your monitor resolution,

        Video - Lets you choose the type of video you want to create,

        Social - This contains pre-formatted templates for items to be uploaded to social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.,

        Other - This includes preformatted templates for icons and name tags.

      • How to Install and Configure ELK Stack on Ubuntu and Debian – VITUX

        ELK stack consists of a set of applications for retrieving and managing log files. In the software development industry, log files play a vital role to identify the problem and troubleshoot the issue. ELK stack is a collection of different open-source application tools such as Elasticsearch, Kibana, and Logstash. ELK can be used to collect, search and visualize the logs generated from any source in any pattern using a query. In this article, we will learn how to install and configure the ELK stack on Ubuntu and Debian.

      • How to Install and Configure Caddy Web Server with PHP on Fedora 34 / CentOS 8

        Caddy is an open-source web server written in the Go language. It provides HTTP/3 support, TLS v1.3, automatic SSL configuration with Let's Encrypt, reverse proxy, and supports multiple plugins to extend its functionality. It has the advantage of all its configuration being served from a single file no matter how many sites you need to host.

        This tutorial will cover installing and configuring Caddy and PHP on Fedora 34 and CentOS 8 based servers. We will cover how to host single and multiple sites and how to use reverse proxy along with few other security features.

      • Installing Packages From External Repositories in Ubuntu [Explained] - It's FOSS

        You have some ideas about installing packages in Ubuntu with apt command. Those packages come from Ubuntu’s repositories.

        How about third-party or external repository? No, I am not talking about PPA here.

        Sooner or later, you’ll come across installation instructions that goes in at least four lines. You install something called ‘apt-transport-https’ and then do something with gpg and sources list. After that, you install the package.

      • How To Install Postman on CentOS 8 - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Postman on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, Postman is basically used for creating, testing, and managing the APIs(Application Programming Interface). Postman is largely available on many operating systems and is used for API integrations. The collections in Postman make it easy to use and it is compatible with Linux as well.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the Postman on a CentOS 8.

      • How to Change or Set User Password in Linux

        As a regular user, you have a password that safeguards your account, and this account contains all your personal settings and files and therefore requires important protection.

        Hence, it is a good practice to change your password consistently to decrease the possibility that someone else gets to recognize your password and can use your credentials to authenticate.

      • How to Get Information About Other Linux Users

        On your personal computer at home, you are most likely the only user who is connected to your Linux system. However, if you are a user at the Linux server in your company there can be other users as well.

        In this case, it is good practice to know the information about other users who are currently connected to the same Linux machine using several commands.

      • How to install and use fping command on Linux - Unixcop

        fping is a program to send ICMP echo probes to network hosts, similar to ping, but much better performing when pinging multiple hosts. fping has a very long history: Roland Schemers did publish a first version of it in 1992 and it has established itself since then as a standard tool for network diagnostics and statistics.

        Fping stands for fast ping, and its main differentiation with the regular ping is that it gives you the ability to scan a list of hosts (either coming from a file, an IP range, or a subnet) and tells you which ones are alive. Other than that, it can do pretty much everything the good old ‘original’ ping can do in terms of latency, configuring payload, IPv4/IPv6, etc.

      • How to install phpMyAdmin€ on Rocky Linux 8 with Apache - Linux Shout

        Managing MySQL or MariaDB using a web-based GUI application – PhpMyAdmin is a lot easier than using the command line. Hence, if you want to install PhpMyAdmin on Rocky Linux 8 then here is a tutorial to help you with that.

        phpMyAdmin is free to use PHP-based application distributed under open source licenses and one of the popular tools on various web hosting to manage MySQL databases. It allows the users to perform create, delete, export, import, creating PDF graphics of the database layout and more database-related tasks but with GUI and with a few clicks of the mouse.

    • Games

      • Help a not-so-average clown find their lost dog in Ayo the Clown | GamingOnLinux

        Ayo the Clown is a new release from developer Cloud M1 where you assume the role of a not-so-average clown who sets off on an adventure to find their lost dog.

        "You play as Ayo, your not-so-average clown, in search of his best friend and beloved dog who has mysteriously disappeared. What happened to Bo? Will they ever juggle together at the park again? Or set up that circus act they’ve always planned? You’ll find out along this incredible adventure as you strive to reunite clown and dog. Like all good adventures, you won’t be all on your own. Ayo’s world is full of friendly people and interesting creatures that are willing to lend a helping hand."

      • A fan for the Valve Index? Consider it an essential upgrade purchase | GamingOnLinux

        It's Summer here in the UK, it's bloody hot and that has meant that playing VR has turned into a very sweaty experience.

        There will be jokes of course from plenty of people about the UK, because of course many countries are hotter and a lot of them have that heat all of the time. However, the UK and houses / offices here really aren't built for it. Pretty much anything other than a little rain and cloud or a tiny bit of sun and we're just not prepared.

        So we come to my moaning and groaning about playing VR in the hot temperatures we've had recently. I was not ready for it — not at all. Hilariously underprepared you might say. I don't think I've ever sweat that much doing anything. When you're in a room that's already around 27C and you add the heat from a VR HMD right on top of you're head - you're just turning yourself into a sweat machine.

      • Kingdoms and Castles gets an Alpha version with AI Kingdoms | GamingOnLinux

        Kingdoms and Castles is a medieval fantasy city-builder that's getting closer to a colossal-sized update, and now you can try the Alpha version with AI factions.

        Currently, the game is just you building up a big castle and seeing how long you can hold out. Over time it has expanded with new options to build and new threats but now the AI Kingdoms update is coming. As the title suggests, it gives you the ability to (it's optional) add in AI enemies who will build their own cities. This makes the game far more like a traditional RTS, although with a little more depth to the building systems.

      • CodeWeavers announce CrossOver 21.0 is out now with Wine 6.0 and DXVK 1.7

        CodeWeavers, the company the sponsors the Wine project and employs multiple of the developers has announced the release of their CrossOver 21.0 release.

        CrossOver is a helpful application that helps you manage installing Windows applications and games across Linux and other platforms (macOS / ChromeOS). If you've heard of or used the likes of Lutris before, it gives you the same idea but focuses directly on Wine. By buying CrossOver you're supporting Wine development directly, plus you're also getting access to their support lines if you need professional help.

      • Get your country to be the first to the moon in Moonshot - The Great Espionage

        Back when the space race was at its peak, the USA and Russia were trying to be first but what about if there was another behind the scenes trying to get the crown?

        That's the idea in Moonshot - The Great Espionage. You work for a fictional country Ustria, as it becomes a three-way battle for space supremacy. You're part of the Ustrian Secret Service and get front-row seats in this stealth puzzle-platformer as you infiltrate the competition and try to access secret plans to help push Ustria forwards.

      • Draft of Darkness is a deckbuilder like nothing else with a horror theme | GamingOnLinux

        Could this be your next 100 hour deckbuilder? Dark of Darkness has freshly released into Early Access on Steam.

        Mixing together exploration roguelike mechanics with a deckbuilder isn't new, however throwing a dark atmosphere into it with a horror theme definitely makes it feel more unique than many others. The combat is about what you would expect giving you a turn-based card-throwing event but everything else makes it unusual, including the gloomy exploration you get to do.

      • Humble Choice for August includes Superliminal, ENCODYA, Bloodstained and more | GamingOnLinux

        Looks like the line-up for the monthly Humble Choice for August is actually pretty good, with a bunch of quality indie games included so it's not one to miss.

        This is the bundle that replaced Humble Monthly, where you pay for whatever tier you feel is the best value to get access to the Humble Trove (a ton of DRM-free games), a discount at the Humble Store and the ability to claim Steam keys for multiple top titles.

      • Steam Deck’s popularity could be getting more gamers to try Linux

        Linux usage is spiking upwards according to the latest stats from Steam, and it seems likely that this is down to the Steam Deck driving interest in Linux gaming.

        The freshly released Steam hardware survey for July shows that Linux now represents a full percentage point of all those gaming on Valve’s platform. Now, 1% might sound like a tiny amount – and it is obviously just a drop in the overall gaming ocean – but it’s a telling milestone for Linux to reach.

      • Steam on Linux Finally Hits 1% User Share for First Time in Years

        According to the Steam Hardware Survey, this is the first time that the tracker has shown above an 1% Linux share since at least September 2018.

        Linux has always been a popular operating system for a certain kind of user, but it’s always presented complications if you want to play a wide variety of games. It might not be an operating system that is in the mouths of every gamer in the world. Now, however, the number of monthly active Steam users running Linux has risen to 1%, according to the Steam Hardware Survey.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Maui Report 14

          Having the stable release scheduled just a few weeks away, this will be the last progress report listing important changes, the next blog post will be for the announcement of the stable release including only important bug fixes to issues and regressions found in this short Beta stage. This cycle introduces new components to the frameworks and paper-cut fixes to the group of applications, shaping a better convergent experience.

          With this post, there are Beta APK packages for wide testing, so if you feel adventurous you can install them on your Android device, and if you find issues, bugs, or have feature requests you can open and fill a ticket the corresponding Invent repository.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • Reviewing my first OpenBSD port, and what I'd do differently 10 years later

          The first port I ever sent was Beret, a 2D puzzle-platformer game. I guess even from the beginning I was helping out thfr@ in his #PlayOnBSD project. I cannot find the very first attempt at it, as it seems I linked a tarball from a server that has since gone to the great bitbucket in the sky. So I have the first tarball I posted instead.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Streaming From PCLinuxOS To Your Smart TV

          Watching DVDs these days has become an exercise in patience. Either the new smart TVs no longer have composite video inputs, or the DVD players are broken, and, many times, it doesn't even pay to have them repaired. But for those who have a reasonably sized DVD collection (as I do), it is not worth getting rid of them, after all, they are like books, physical pieces of artistic content that belong to you. Yes, I will still write about the war on physical media, but in the meantime I will give you a tip on how you can watch your entire DVD collection on your Smart TV with the help of PCLinuxOS.


          With this tip, I was able to play converted DVD files without problems, and since there is no decoding involved, since Darkhttpd only sends the file over the network, the limit will be your bandwidth, to be able to run files of higher resolutions, such as Blu Rays and even other media. I have not tested with more than one TV at the same time, but in theory, it should be possible. And, with a web server, you can even stream to cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

        • PCLinuxOS Short Topix Roundup

          WHO BETTER TO DESIGN NEW AI COMPUTER CHIPS THAN AI? An article at WIRED highlights just that approach. Computer chips, often smaller than a fingernail, contain billions of components. Each and every decision made on the arrangement of those components has the potential to affect the speed and efficiency of the resulting chip. So, to place a billion transistors on a small computer chip, who better to do it than AI? While attempts to have computers help design computer chips in the past have fallen short, new advances in AI have made such matters within reach.

          Remember when you were told that the data being collected from your cell phone was being anonymized? Well, you were being lied to, even if it's a lie by omission. According to an article on Vice, they are FAILING TO TELL YOU ABOUT AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY THAT OPERATES IN THE SHADOWS, and who's sole business model is to collect the unique cell phone ID and mobile advertising IDs produced by various apps (called MAIDs), and linking them to personally identifiable information. The article, to say the least, is eye opening and quite disturbing. According to an article that appeared on Reuters, THE GERMAN DATA PROTECTION OFFICER GAVE MINISTRIES UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR TO CLOSE THEIR FACEBOOK PAGES, after discovering that Facebook had failed to comply with German and European Union privacy regulations. Commissioner Ulrich Kelber said it was impossible to run a fan page in such a way that followers' personal data was not transmitted to the United States. Under EU law, personal data can only leave the EU for a jurisdiction with equivalently strict data protection rules, something that is not the case for the United States.

          An article on Lifehacker LISTS SOME OF THE MORE NOTABLE CHANGES IN FIREFOX 90. Those include the ability to store credit card numbers, SmartBlock 2.0 working with Facebook to block the tracking Firefox users across the web, and the removal of the ability to download from FTP servers via a FTP.

          JustTheNews published an article describing how Erik Finman, the youngest Bitcoin millionaire, has CREATED THE FREEDOM PHONE, WHICH PROTECTS USERS' PRIVACY WHILE PROMOTING FREE SPEECH AND PREVENTING CENSORSHIP. Built on top of a version of Android that has been "de-Googled," it even has its own app store.

          Privacy activist Edward Snowden, in an interview with The Guardian, warned that no mobile phone is safe, considering the revelations about the clients of NSO. He has CALLED FOR A SPYWARE TRADE BAN in the wake of the NSO revelations. NSO Group manufactures and sells to governments advanced spyware, branded as Pegasus, that can secretly infect a mobile phone and harvest its information. Emails, texts, contact books, location data, photos and videos can all be extracted, and a phone's microphone and camera can be activated to covertly record the user.

          Now this one is a bit funny. A lot of attention was being paid to Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos as he made his 10 minute flight into space aboard Blue Origin's inaugural crewed flight. But the best part of the story (it was widely reported, and I saw it on Gizmodo and Reuters) may have been from Oliver Daemen, the 18 year old from the Netherlands. He not only MADE HISTORY AS THE YOUNGEST PERSON TO GO INTO SPACE, BUT HE ALSO MADE HEADLINES FOR SOME "SMALL TALK" HE MADE WITH BEZOS. He told Bezos that he had never bought anything off of Amazon. Bezos' response was as priceless as it was true: "Oh, wow, it's a long time ago I heard someone say that." Additional history was made on the flight, with 82 year old female pilot Wally Funk becoming the oldest person to fly into space.

        • [PCLinuxOS] Screenshot Showcase
        • Linuxera: A Former Forum Admin Could Use Our Help

          Back in 2006, when I registered on the forum, there were some wonderful people here! Texstar was here of course, along with some that are still here: The Heat Exhausted Cranky Zombie, davecs, JohnW_57, wayne_1932, tuxalish and many more who are no longer around. Others registered shortly after I did, including parnote. In the fifteen years since I started visiting, I have come to feel that many of these people, whether I had ever met them or not, were good friends. We've shared many ups and downs.

          A very knowledgeable lady whose handle was Linuxera was here as well. She was an admin even then, and helped to keep us all in line. She was also a tester, and experimented with creating ISO's of Enlightenment, and talked me through creating a backup ISO of my system years ago. She had lived in many places, including Florida and Oregon, but moved to Alabama a few years ago. Her first house in Alabama was really close to a river area that had some flooding, so she moved a bit north where the river wasn't in her backyard. Sometime after 2012, for reasons unknown to me, she deleted her user profile in the forum.

          We've chatted and emailed sporadically since then. I found out her name is Cindy Solis. She is an Air Force veteran, and is now eligible for Social Security. She's shared photos of her chickens and her dog and how she cleaned up the property where she lived, and I shared photos of my area and some of the activities I am involved in.

        • Welcome From The Chief Editor

          One of the things that stands out about PCLinuxOS is the sense of community that PCLinuxOS forum visitors find among its users. Time and time again, I see it mentioned in the forum.

          Even though we all come from different backgrounds, walks of life, professions, and have varied interests, one thing ties us all together: our love of Texstar's creation, PCLinuxOS. In many ways, those friends we make in the forum become lifelong friends, and perhaps even extended family members.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu’s New Desktop Installer Is Now Available for Public Testing, Here’s How to Test It

          In early March, I took a first look at the Ubuntu’s new Desktop Installer as Canonical provided web-based designs of the new installer ahead of its initial release as part of the Ubuntu installation images, but now the installer written in Flutter is finally available for public testing in the latest daily build images of Ubuntu 21.10.

          The biggest changes in Ubuntu’s new Desktop Installer, besides the modern design that applies to all of the installer’s pages, is a brand-new “Try or Install” page that includes a “Repair Installation” option to help you repair a broken Ubuntu system, the ability to turn off Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) if you’re installing Ubuntu alongside Windows, a new page to allocate disk space, and a new page to choose between Light and Dark themes.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Many Interesting Talks On Deck For The X.Org Developers Conference 2021

        The program/schedule for this year's XDC21 X.Org Developers' Conference was posted this week ahead of the event occurring in mid-September. There are many interesting talks about X.Org and beyond, which in recent years largely revolve around Mesa and Wayland.

        The 2021 X.Org Developers Conference is once again being a virtual event given the pandemic. Intel folks are again organizing much of the event as well as Intel being the sole platinum sponsor of the event...


        - David Edmundson with KDE will talk about ongoing work and an early proof-of-concept for increasing Wayland robustness so should the compositor crash it doesn't bring down the entire session.

      • Full-Time Open Source

        Adam: Hello, and welcome to Corecursive. I’m Adam Gordon Bell. Each episode someone shares the story of a piece of software being built. Today’s show, How to Quit Your Job and Work on Open Source Full Time. This story has it all, balancing open source work and full-time employment, building up enough supporters and enough savings to leave your job. The hardest part to me which is explaining leaving your job to your significant other and to your family and friends.

        And then, also what do you do if your project succeeds, and then someone forks it and builds a commercial business around it? There’s a lot more as well dealing with hacker news feedback, how to improve upon the C programming language and how to be super ambitious without seeming arrogant. And my guest is this guy.

      • FSF

        • Licensing/Legal

          • It looks like a product but is secretly a subscription

            In any given scenario, a company (or person) will want to buy or rent something they need and they should decide carefully which to do. It's fair to say that the answer to that question is the total subject of corporate finance.

            Companies rarely succeed based on good corporate finance alone but there is a kind of upside-down corporate finance that can really help: to make your suppliers and customers do bad corporate finance.

            An example, very of-the-moment, is to turn what would otherwise be a single purchase of a software package into a long-term rental - a "SaaS". This happened with Adobe Photoshop, which was happily a thing you could buy a copy of for decades until Adobe realised that they could really start cooking with gas if they only made it available for an ongoing fee. For Adobe's subscribers, the lock-in is considerable as access to their existing bank of files and documents is contingent on continued payment.

      • Programming/Development

        • 10 Factors Behind the Popularity of Microservices: Part 2

          I have shown in this series that microservices happily bring together several trends in computing from the past couple decades. There are many precedents for each of the traits developers associate with microservices. And these programming tools and processes are sure to evolve further. Microservices may soon join many of the other terms in this article that once larded programmers' discussions, only to be denigrated later as obsolete. But the historic role played by microservices will continue to be recognized.

        • Asynchronous QtQuick UIs and their implementation: The Toolbox

          This blog post goes over the set of tools you have to work with when doing QtQuick UIs that need to perform something asynchronously.

        • Staying Sane in ML: Fixing Your Terrible Data Science Tools to Improve the Research Experience

          While machine learning research has made incredible theoretical advances, the day-to-day tools most researchers use are… poorly optimized, to say the least. And much knowledge is locked up in people’s private .bashrc files or wikis. This post aims to shed light on some very useful tools for beginning researchers.

          Expected audience: people, likely undergraduates, who are starting to do CS research that is vaguely in the “AI/ML” space. You have joined a Slack and gotten authentication credentials for this thing called a “cluster,” and are probably using Python with Jupyter Notebook.

        • Perl/Raku

          • What’s Next for Object-​Oriented Perl?

            Overall I’m satisfied with Object::Pad and by extension some of the syntax that Corinna will introduce. I’m going to try porting the rest of dbcritic and see if I can work around the issues I listed above without giving up the kwalitee improvement tools I’m used to. I’ll post my find€­ings if I feel it merits another blog.

  • Leftovers

    • Utilities Governed Like Empires

      Whether it’s “bringing the world closer together” (Facebook), “organizing the world’s information” (Google), to be a market “where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online” (Amazon) or “to make personal computing accessible to each and every individual” (Apple), the founding missions of tech giants reveal a desire to become indispensable to our digital lives.

      They’ve succeeded. We’ve entrusted these companies with our sensitive data, from family photos to finances to correspondence. We’ve let them take over our communities, from medical and bereavement support groups to little league and service organization forums. We’ve bought trillions of dollars’ worth of media from them, locked in proprietary formats that can’t be played back without their ongoing cooperation.

      These services often work great...but they fail very, very badly. Tech giants can run servers to support hundreds of millions or billions of users - but they either can’t or won’t create equally user-centric procedures for suspending or terminating those users.

    • Science

      • Cell Phones Still Somehow Get The Entirety Of The Blame For Teen Depression

        For years now a strong narrative has emerged that the increase in teen depression (and suicides) is almost single handedly being caused by social media and cell phone use. Though quite often when you look a little more deeply at the studies in question you'll find they're a bit undercooked, tend to make overly broad assumptions about trends, and are often contradicted by other studies.

    • Education

      • I Want to Start School So I Can Learn to Write Letters to My Dad in Prison
      • Fading Beacon

        If America ultimately cedes its place as the world leader in international education, that will affect diplomacy, the economy, and the health of colleges and universities nationwide.

        This moment represents a “rupture,” says Stephanie K. Kim, a scholar of international and comparative education at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

      • People of the pandemic: The French teacher who became a lockdown YouTube star

        After a few rehearsals, the team took the plunge. They invited the parents of the class’s 26 pupils by email to follow the new programme, “La maîtresse part en live” (a rather fortuitous play on words that can mean either, “The teacher goes live” or “The teacher spins out of control”).


        What she hadn’t foreseen was that thousands of her YouTube channel subscribers would join forces and launch a petition arguing that the programme was in the “public interest”, demanding that she continue. In the end, at the request of the rector of the Rennes academy, her school district office, Letoqueux extended her digital adventure until the end of the school year, July 3. The petitioners won, as did children whose schools hadn’t reopened.

    • Hardware

      • Cracking into the Sun Ray General Dynamics-Tadpole M1400

        That brings us back to the zombified Tadpole under General Dynamics (I'll call it "GD-Tadpole"). The MIPS Sun Rays were very power-efficient (again, a topic for a future post when we look at the Accutech Gobi systems) and performed well in laptops and even several Sun Ray tablets, but the chips weren't available in volume and didn't have the economies of scale of low-end PC laptops. So GD-Tadpole chose ... a low-end PC laptop, specifically the Taiwanese Compal FT01, fitted it with Sun Ray software and a custom BIOS, and released that as the Tadpole M1400 in 2008. And here are two, one so new the sticky protective plastic cover picked up hairs: [...]

      • Apple, Affirm to launch buy-now-pay-later program for Canadian purchases: Bloomberg News

        In the United States, Australia and Europe, buy now, pay later is marketed as an alternative to credit cards. The service has soared in popularity during the pandemic as consumers seek other options to make purchases that are easier on their wallets.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • As US Hits Biden's 70% Vaccination Goal, World's Poor Nations Barely Over 1%

        Exposing stark global vaccine inequity amid a fast-spreading delta variant, White House officials said Monday that at least 70% of U.S. adults are now at least partly vaccinated against the coronavirus—compared to just barely over 1% when it comes to the world's poorest nations.

        White House Covid-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar marked the milestone—reached nearly a month after President Joe Biden's July 4 70% goal date—on Twitter:

      • 'Stunning': Democrats Considering Major Cuts to Future Pandemic Preparedness

        Although President Joe Biden has called for investing $30 billion in pandemic preparedness, congressional Democrats are reportedly considering slashing€ such proposed funding by€ $25 billion in forthcoming legislation, alarming public health advocates and prompting critics to ask if lawmakers have learned anything from€ the ongoing coronavirus disaster.

        "Prevention is always better than treatment, and the fact that, after an event as significant as Covid, we have to fight for this $30 billion defies belief."—Gabriel Bankman-Fried, Guarding Against Pandemics

      • 'Dangerous and Deadly': Biden CDC Under Fire for Preserving Trump-Era Migrant Expulsion Policy

        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated order late Monday extending a Trump-era policy that allows the federal government to quickly expel migrants on public health grounds, a move that rights groups decried as both illegal and morally unconscionable.

        "Forcefully expelling migrants without due process does not protect public health, and it won't slow the spread of the Delta variant."—RAICES

      • NYC Restaurants & Gyms Will Require Proof of Vaccination Amid Rising COVID Cases
      • NYC to Become First US City to Mandate Proof of Vaccination for Certain Indoor Activities

        New York Mayor€ Bill de Blasio€ announced Tuesday that the city will€ soon€ require proof of vaccination against Covid-19 for patrons of restaurants, gyms, and other indoor spaces.

        The rule will go into enforcement in mid-September after a transition period starting August 16, in which the public and€ the owners of restaurants, gyms, and theaters will€ be educated about the mandate.

      • A Covid Surge and Record Heat Have Created a Cursed Olympic Games

        Even for the casual observer of the Olympics, it was clear way back in March 2020 that the International Olympic Committee was peddling phantasmagoria. In announcing its decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC said the Games would still be called “Tokyo 2020” even though the event would transpire in 2021. These days, such a willful suspension of reality is required to blind oneself to the ghoulish self-interest that has foisted the Olympics on an unwilling population during a health pandemic.

      • As Biden Touts 110+ Million Vaccine Donations to the World, US Urged to Go Much Further

        As the Biden administration on Tuesday touted the more than 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses it has sent abroad, public health and justice advocates continued to highlight the dramatic disparity between inoculation levels in rich and poor nations and demand the United States government go much further in order to save lives and help bring the global pandemic to an end.

        "Every dose helps. Yet 100 million doses amount to only one one-hundredth of the current global need," said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program.

      • “Death by DeSantis” Threatens Florida as Covid Numbers Spike

        Florida reported a jaw-dropping 21,683 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. The new figure is 10 percent higher than for the previous worst day, January 7, 2021, which occurred at the peak of last winter’s devastating surge.

      • Seniors Would Cross Party Lines to Back Candidates Who Support Medicare Negotiating Drug Prices: Poll

        A survey released Tuesday by the Alliance for Retired Americans finds that seniors overwhelmingly support allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies—so much so that a sizeable percentage would cross party lines to vote for a candidate who backs the proposed reform.

        "Even in today's polarized political environment, a significant percentage of senior voters of both parties would cross party lines over this issue."—Richard Fiesta, Alliance for Retired Americans

      • Covid pandemic linked to increased nearsightedness in kids

        An analysis of eye test data from nearly 2,000 Hong Kong school-age children revealed that the rate of nearsightedness that developed during the pandemic more than doubled what was found in a pre-pandemic study of children the same age, according to the report in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

      • Paul knocks YouTube for removing video he posted, points users to competitor

        When reached for comment, a YouTube spokesperson said: "We removed a video from Senator Paul’s channel for including claims that masks are ineffective in preventing the contraction or transmission of the virus, in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies."

      • Antibiotics in Early Life Could Lead to Brain Disorders
    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Biden Warns That The Next Kinetic War Will Be The Result Of A Cyberattack, Which Is Stupid

          The cyberwar hype has been going on for nearly a decade now. And, while it is very much the case that cybersecurity to defend from international actors is very much a real need, it's also true that dangling the threat of cyberwarfare over the public's heads has been purposefully done to excuse governmental power grabs at the military and intelligence agency levels. It's also been true throughout this hype-fest that the US government has been practically begging for there to be a cyberwar in the first place... except that other nations mostly seem to play with this at the most minimal levels. And, in the past, the American government has indicated that real shooting wars may result from cyberwar activities.

        • Could Ransomware Attacks Ultimately Benefit Consumers?

          That said, it’s worth noting that ransomware attacks are no different from the typical security attacks that we’ve been reading about for years. There’s nothing novel about the technology they rely on. What is novel, though, is that they’re attacking companies rather than consumers, and that’s changing the economics of data security.

        • Security

          • Serious flaws in widespread embedded TCP/IP stack endanger industrial control devices

            Coordination for the disclosure INFRA:HALT vulnerabilities lasted almost a year, much longer than the 90 days that's standard for software vulnerabilities. Forescout and JFrog Security Research contacted HCC Embedded about the flaws in September 2020 and worked with the CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC), the German Federal Cyber Security Authority (BSI), and the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) that's part of the US government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

            Even so, identifying the potentially impacted devices and vendors has been very hard and is an ongoing process. Using queries on the SHODAN search engine, the researchers found around 6,400 publicly accessible devices that run NicheStack. Using its own proprietary database with millions of device fingerprints, Forescout identified 2,500 potentially vulnerable devices from 21 vendors with the most affected industry verticals being process manufacturing, retail, and discrete manufacturing. Around half the identified devices were energy and power industrial control systems.

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (asterisk, libpam-tacplus, and wordpress), Fedora (buildah and podman), openSUSE (thunderbird and webkit2gtk3), Oracle (kernel and varnish:6), SUSE (kernel, kvm, and webkit2gtk3), and Ubuntu (libdbi-perl and php-pear).

          • It's time to improve Linux's security | ZDNet

            Is Linux more secure than Windows? Sure. But that's a very low bar. Kees Cook, a Linux security expert, Debian Linux developer, and Google Security Engineer, is well aware that Linux could be more secure. As Cook tweeted, "We need more investment in bug fixers, reviewers, testers, infrastructure builders, toolchain devs, and security devs."

          • Qualys partners with Red Hat to improve Linux and Kubernetes security | ZDNet

            Everyone in the Linux and cloud world knows Red Hat. Everyone who pays attention to security knows Qualys. Now, the two are joining forces to bring Qualys's Cloud Agent to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) CoreOS and Red Hat OpenShift to better secure both systems.

          • Google: Linux kernel and its toolchains are underinvested by at least 100 engineers ● The Register

            Google's open security team has claimed the Linux kernel code is not good enough, with nearly 100 new fixes every week, and that at least 100 more engineers are needed to work on it.

            Kees Cook, a Google software engineer who has devoted much of his time to security features in the Linux kernel, has posted about continuing problems in the kernel which he said have insufficient focus.

            "The stable kernel releases ('bug fixes only') each contain close to 100 new fixes per week," he said. This puts pressure on Linux vendors – including those who support the countless products which run Linux – to "ignore all the fixes, pick out only 'important' fixes, or face the daunting task of taking everything," he said.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Amazon Wants You To Give Them Your Palm Print For A $10 Credit

              So folks, if you ever wondered just how much companies value your biological information, it seems the answer comes in the form of a crisp $10 bill. Oof.

            • Amazon will give you a whole $10 for your palm print

              Many have expressed concerns about a company like Amazon in particular collecting such data. The firm has been criticized in the past for pushing new technology in uncomfortable ways: selling biased facial recognition algorithms and aggressively expanding its network of police-connected home surveillance cameras.

            • Data exfiltration in Keepa Price Tracker

              Usually, the vendor will claim to anonymize all data, a claim that can rarely be verified. Even if the anonymization actually happens, it’s really hard to do this right. If anonymization can be reversed and the data falls into the wrong hands, this can have severe consequences for a person’s life.

              Today we will take a closer look at a browser extension called “Keepa – Amazon Price Tracker” which is used by at least two million users across different browsers. The extension is being brought out by a German company and the privacy policy is refreshingly short and concise, suggesting that no unexpected data collection is going on. The reality however is: not only will this extension extract data from your Amazon sessions, it will even use your bandwidth to load various Amazon pages in the background.

            • Your Facebook Account Was [Cracked]. Getting Help May Take Weeks — Or $299

              This has been happening to a lot of people lately, and the experience has left many users nearly as frustrated with the social network as they are with the hackers. In July, NPR received 19 emails from listeners complaining that their Facebook accounts had been hacked or disabled. People share similar tales of woe on Reddit forums and Twitter every day.

            • Europe’s Data Retention Saga and its Risks for Digital Rights

              In 2014, the CJEU brought down the Data Retention Directive in the Digital Rights Ireland decision for its incompatibility with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. That Directive had required providers of electronic communications services to retain metadata about its customers’ communications, i.e. data (“communications data”) that identify the “who”, “where” and “when” of those communications rather than their content.

              The Directive was controversial with many digital rights organisations which argued that communications data provided just as much information about an individual as content data and that the Directive, therefore, interfered with individuals’ right to privacy.

              The 2014 decision concerned two cases (later merged by the court) brought by EDRi’s members DRI and a large number of complainants organised by Austrian organisation AK Vorrat (now called The court’s reasoning set out in this ruling was confirmed and reinforced in Tele2/Watson two years later, when the court held again that any indiscriminate data retention obligation on telecommunications providers was unjustified in a democratic society.

            • Twitter teams up with the AP and Reuters to address misinformation

              Twitter Inc. announced today that it has begun a new partnership with the Associated Press and Reuters in a collaborative effort to tackle the spread of misinformation.

              The company explained in a blog post that up until now its curation team has been responsible for adding to topics that are “noteworthy, controversial, sensitive, or may contain potentially misleading information.” That means adding context to stories, giving people trusted sources when they search for various topics, and of course, labeling posts if they fall into the category of misinformation.

            • Apple & Its Mysterious Privacy Policy

              After having delved into Microsoft's 1243 pages long "Privacy Guide", we could not forget its concurrent, the stylish and high-end electronics manufacturer Apple.

              If the several and different privacy policies of Microsoft could be compared to a rainforest jungle, then Apple's could be perhaps like a desert. Their Privacy Policy, if downloaded in PDF format, is nine pages in length, of which only three effectively describe what is collected and how they use it. "Great!", you could say, "That proves that Apple collects less data from its users." Well, not exactly. Let's take a look.

              They start lecturing on how they care about you and your data, and that all Apple customers in the world will be treated equally regarding their privacy rights. This indeed is very nice, because not all countries have strong privacy regulations like the European Union or Canada, but it is also a pragmatic approach, because it is cheaper to keep one single worldwide policy by their legal department than dozens of them.

              Apple also has a "Privacy Governance", where it is stated that they are "committed to respecting human rights, including the right to privacy and freedom of information and expression." Unfortunately, despite the nice wording, equality of treatment and respect of human rights is not necessarily what is practiced by Apple, according to a December 2020 joint letter signed by a coalition of 154 activist groups and rights organizations representing Tibetan, Uyghur, Southern Mongolian, Hongkonger, Taiwanese, and Chinese people.


              It is not very comfortable to know that company with access to more than 1.65 billion active devices in the world (of which one billion are active iPhones) operates under such opacity. Its tortuous privacy policy gives the impression that their practices behind their facade of a privacy-loving company could not be so nice. Other elements shed some light on this: the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce stated, in February 2021, that Apple's App Store privacy labels are "highly misleading or blatantly false. [...] that approximately one third of evaluated apps that said they did not collect data had inaccurate labels."

              Anyway, they have made some great efforts on de-identification and on processing much of the data inside your own device, instead of doing it on their servers. But they still have access to most of your data stored in the iCloud because it is not encrypted end-to-end, and they still make data collection in several apps an opt-in by default, which is not compliant with the "privacy by default" principle, present in many data privacy regulations.

              Microsoft, on the other hand, does not seem to be embarrassed at all about collecting consumers' data, as we saw in our past article about Microsoft's privacy policy and their hundreds of pages describing everything they get from users. But I must acknowledge at least one thing: they are pretty clear that they are picking up your data. And a lot. They won't come with all this frothy language on how they care about you and the like. With Apple, one simply doesn't know. Their practices are shrouded under such a mystery that you have no idea about what they are doing with your data. And here is the big deal: with Apple, you are paying a premium for devices and services that should be more privacy-respecting. But if they decline to tell you what they do with what they know about your life, would you keep trusting them? Apple keeps a "trust score" about every single user, but it seems it is theirs that is near zero.

            • Email Self Defense: A Guide To Fighting Surveillance With GnuPG Encryption

              Bulk surveillance violates our fundamental rights and makes free speech risky. This guide will teach you a basic surveillance self-defense skill: email encryption. Once you've finished, you'll be able to send and receive emails that are scrambled to make sure a surveillance agent or thief intercepting your email can't read them. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection, an email account, and about forty minutes.

              Even if you have nothing to hide, using encryption helps protect the privacy of people you communicate with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems. If you do have something important to hide, you're in good company; these are the same tools that whistleblowers use to protect their identities while shining light on human rights abuses, corruption, and other crimes.

              In addition to using encryption, standing up to surveillance requires fighting politically for a reduction in the amount of data collected on us, but the essential first step is to protect yourself and make surveillance of your communication as difficult as possible. This guide helps you do that. It is designed for beginners, but if you already know the basics of GnuPG or are an experienced free software user, you'll enjoy the advanced tips and the guide to teaching your friends.

            • Confidentiality

              • Thinking about “traceability”

                I don’t plain to weigh in on whether this policy is a good idea or viable on the merits, nor is it in my wheelhouse to say whether the Indian government is being forthright in their reasons for demanding this capability. (I will express a very grave degree of skepticism that this approach will catch any criminal who is remotely malicious and takes steps to cover their tracks.) In this post I mostly want to talk about the technology implications for encrypted messaging services, and what tracing features might mean for end-to-end encrypted systems like WhatsApp.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | What Americans Don’t Want to Hear About Our Moral Crimes of War

        This summer, it seemed as if we Americans couldn’t wait to return to our traditional July 4th festivities. Haven’t we all been looking for something to celebrate? The church chimes in my community rang out battle hymns for about a week. The utility poles in my neighborhood were covered with “Hometown Hero” banners hanging proudly, sporting the smiling faces of uniformed local veterans from our wars. Fireworks went off for days, sparklers and cherry bombs and full-scale light shows filling the night sky.

      • Afghanistan: As US “Withdraws” Airstrikes Intensify and More Civilians Die

        At least 40 Afghan civilians have been killed, according to the United Nations, as the U.S. Air Force launched renewed overnight airstrikes to combat a Taliban offensive aimed at capturing the southern provincial capital from Afghanistan’s government forces.

      • Medals to Honor Police Who Protected Congress in Capitol [Insurrection]

        The Senate has voted to award Medals of Honor to the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department for protecting Congress during the January 6 insurrection, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature.

        Under the bill, which passed by voice vote with no objections, four medals will be displayed at the Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution.

      • How kidnap-for-ransom became the “most lucrative industry in Nigeria”

        Not only has Bukarti studied violent extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa, including Boko Haram, for over a decade, he also hails from the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, just a mile away from where Boko Haram originated.

        So I called him up to find out more about why the Nigerian government has failed to rein in these bandits and stop the kidnappings and what, if anything, the international community can do to end the crisis.

        Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below.

      • India’s Afghanistan quandary

        America has cut and run. Pakistan and China are rubbing their hands in glee waiting to move in to fill the vacuum in Afghanistan left by the United States. Russia and Iran, although wary of the Taliban, are happy that the US has been shown up as a colossus with feet of clay despite the gloss being put by Washington on what amounts to a humiliating retreat. The only country with a major stake in the future of Afghanistan that is unhappy with the American decision is India—and for very good reasons. India has already pumped US$3 billion since 2001 in developmental assistance into Afghanistan in order to prevent the exact scenario that is emerging now.

      • Islamic State Group Smuggling Boys to Desert Training Camps

        In particular, the report warned that despite a series of crackdowns by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, IS, also known as ISIS or Daesh, retains significant influence in many of the camps, as well as freedom of movement, allowing it to target "the most susceptible" for recruitment.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • The Jailing of Craig Murray: Another Move to Snuff Out Independent Journalism

        Murray is also the first person to be jailed in Britain for contempt of court in half a century – a period when such different legal and moral values prevailed that the British establishment had only just ended the prosecution of “homosexuals” and the jailing of women for having abortions.

      • No, Cormac McCarthy Isn’t on Twitter. Don’t Be Fooled by the Check Mark.

        It was not clear how long the account had been verified. Twitter did not answer questions about how the mistake happened. Going forward, the company said, it would require the account to comply with its policy that parody or fan accounts have labels.

        Twitter itself once selected the accounts of famous people to be verified. The check marks have become somewhat of a status symbol on the social media platform and are intended to distinguish celebrities from impersonators. Now, users can apply to have their accounts verified.

    • Environment

      • Opinion | Dear Evan Greenberg, Climate Leaders Don’t Insure Tar Sands Pipelines

        Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline is an environmental and human rights disaster. It transports tar sands, one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, from Alberta to Vancouver, across the territories of Indigenous Peoples who have made their opposition to the pipeline clear. Its 85 spills to date have poisoned lands and waters. And the proposed Trans Mountain expansion would triple the flow of oil and substantially increase the risk of catastrophic spills, particularly in the fragile Burrard Inlet.

      • The Science Museum’s ‘Gagging Clause’ is the Tip of the Iceberg When it Comes to its Flawed Approach to Climate Change

        By Chris Garrard and Jess Worth, Co-directors of Culture Unstained

        Something is seriously wrong at the Science Museum Group (SMG). Last week, Channel 4 News reported on Culture Unstained’s latest investigation into the museum’s controversial sponsorship deal with the oil giant Shell.€ 

        Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

      • Civilization-Ending Climate Change Is Knocking On Our Door

        I’ll never forget the day the trucker called into my radio show. It was probably around 14 years ago, and he identified himself as a long-haul trucker who regularly ran a coast-to-coast route from the southeast to the Pacific Northwest dozens of times a year.

        “Used to be when I was driving through the southern part of the Midwest like I am right now,” he said, “I’d have to stop every few hours to clean the bugs off my windshield. It’s been three days since I’ve had to clean bugs off my windshield on this trip. There’s something spooky going on out here.”

      • Groups Welcome Biden Review But Demand Congress Permanently Protect Arctic Refuge From Drilling

        Indigenous and environmental groups on Tuesday welcomed the U.S. Interior Department's decision to review the Trump administration's controversial move opening up previously protected land in Alaska to drilling despite threats to local communities and wildlife as well as the global climate.

        "What is needed most is an act of Congress to permanently protect this special place from destructive drilling."—Mike Scott, Sierra Club

      • Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill 'Doubling Down on Support for Carbon Polluters' With $25 Billion in Subsidies, Critics Warn

        While Democratic leaders have described the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill as "a significant down payment" toward addressing the climate emergency, environmental justice advocates are warning that the proposed legislation—which reportedly includes billions of dollars in potential new subsidies for dirty energy projects disguised as solutions—threatens to prolong the life of the€ planet-wrecking fossil fuel industry.

        "The Senate is proposing that we spend tens of billions of dollars propping up fossil fuel corporations."—Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch

      • Energy

        • Line 5 pipeline between U.S. and Canada could cause 'devastating damage' to Great Lakes, say environmentalists

          Line 5, a 1,000-kilometre-long pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge, carries up to 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids a day from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ont., where it is shipped to other refineries in Ontario and Quebec.

          It's at the centre of a politically charged dispute between Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who's ordered what she calls the "ticking time bomb" to be shut down, and Canadian officials, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who've sided with Enbridge in insisting it's safe to keep running.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Need for Wild Bison Restoration

          Due to behavioral and other differences, domestic livestock are no substitute for bison.

          Bison were critical to the horse-mounted bison hunting culture of the plains Indians and to their demise by the 1880s.€  The disappearance of the vast herds of bison shocked or alarmed the American public and helped to foster new wildlife protection policies.

        • The stampede into national parks

          So to accommodate the crush, parks have been responding with innovative solutions. Visitors are being reminded that the worst crowding is happening at just a couple of dozen iconic places (think Yellowstone, Zion, the Grand Canyon, etc.) in a system of more than 400 parks. Visiting a lesser-known park may provide a little more elbow room.

          Parks are employing timed-entry reservation systems and shuttle services to cut the number of vehicles clogging their roads. And nearby businesses, which depend on park tourism, are jumping in to share their local knowledge and help visitors plan a more pleasant stay.

    • Finance

      • Taxing Lifetime Gains Serves Different Fairness Goal Than Estate Tax

        We’re now witnessing this phenomenon once again in the struggle over the Biden administration’s move to eliminate one of the most gaping loopholes in our tax system, the so-called “basis step-up” that lets wealthy people avoid paying any income tax whatsoever on lifetimes of investment gains.

        Consider Jeff Bezos, the richest American. As ProPublica has reported, Bezos has paid little more than trifling amounts in income tax over the years even as his Amazon shares have appreciated over $100 billion. In several years, Bezos paid no tax at all.

      • The Politics of Spectacle: On Eviction Moratorium, The Squad Talks the Walk

        Members of Congress departed for a seven-week vacation at the same time that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) national eviction moratorium expired on July 31. The Squad, a subset of members of the House of Representatives who espouse Bernie Sanders’ policy agenda, gathered at the Capitol building to demand that Congress come back to work and hold a vote to renew the moratorium. Cori Bush, Jamal Bowman, and other Squad members slept on the Capitol steps overnight as part of the ongoing protest. Critics on social media pointed out that the rally was too little, too late while others remarked that the low attendance of the rally, comprised mainly of political surrogates, rendered the action nothing more than a photo opportunity for the Squad.

      • Global Britain Slashes International Aid

        The United Kingdom is certainly such a case. For years, governments of different stripes praised the political importance of the aid programme.€  “Development has never just been about aid or money, but I am proud that Britain is a country that keeps its promises to the poorest in the world,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told the United Nations General Assembly in a 2012 speech.

        This all started changing in 2020.€  The merging of the Department of International Development with the Foreign Office was a signal that pennies would be in shorter supply.€  On November 25, 2020, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the government would not spend 0.7% of gross national income on official development assistance in 2022.€  The allocation would fall to 0.5% of GNI – €£10 billion in monetary terms.€  Relative to the 2019 budget, this would amount to an effective cut of around €£4 to 5 billion.€  Aid had very much become a matter of money.

      • Biden's Infrastructure Bill Shouldn't Undermine Cryptocurrency Infrastructure In The Process

        There was a reasonable uproar from the cryptocurrency community this weekend as it appeared that the long fought for Biden infrastructure bill would change some definitions to create a mess for the wider cryptocurrency space.

      • The Saving Rate is Still High: Evidence on the Post-Pandemic Economy

        For those not familiar with this economic concept, the saving rate is the percent of after-tax income that is not spent. To be clear, not spent means literally that people did not use it on consumption. If they used their income to pay for rent, buy a car, pay for their college, this would all be counted as consumption.

        By comparison, if they put their money in their checking account or savings account, bought a government bond or shares of stock, this would be counted as saving. It would also be counted as savings if they used some of their money to pay down credit card or student loan debt.

      • Democrats Took Millions From Real Estate Interests Before Allowing Eviction Moratorium to End

        As the homes of millions of renters across the U.S. were threatened this week€ by the White House's and Congress's refusal to extend the eviction moratorium put in place€ by the€ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Democrats' inaction was directly€ benefiting some of the party's€ biggest€ backers in the real estate industry.

        "It's not shocking, because we have seen this pattern again and again. What is shocking is that millions of people are at risk of not just becoming homeless, but also getting a deadly disease."—Sara Myklebust, Georgetown University

      • 'Give the Money Back,' Demands Tlaib After Revelation of $1 Million Donation to House Dems From Real Estate Titan

        Following the revelation Tuesday that House Democrats received $1 million from the chairman of an apartment rental company weeks before they let the nationwide eviction moratorium expire, Rep. Rashida Tlaib led calls to return the money—and extend the federal eviction moratorium.

        "Democrats were bought off for leaving six million Americans without an eviction moratorium."—Jackie Fielder, Daybreak PAC

      • Billionaires Take Up Space
    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | Nina Turner: A Champion of the People Redeeming Our Frayed Democracy

        The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed once again the awesome power of the Federal Government.€  Much as in 2008, when the U.S. and international financial systems imploded, the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve stepped in and took unprecedented measures to draw upon a seemingly unlimited pool of funds and bail out the existing economic order. Fortunately, these resources were extended more broadly this time, saving countless lives.

      • Inside the Magaverse

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

      • Opinion | Is Biden Doing Enough to Fight Off the GOP's Relentless Assault on Democracy? I Fear Not

        The following remarks were presented as a lecture at the closing session of the 2021 Democracy & Diversity Graduate Summer Institute of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, New School for Social Research.

      • The Fall of Tunisia, Last of the Arab Spring Nations

        That tomorrow moved even further into the future this week when a coup displaced the last surviving democracy to emerge from the Arab uprising of 2011. Appropriately, it took place in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began a decade ago after a vegetable seller burned himself to death in a protest against the actions of the corrupt and dictatorial regime.

        On 25 July, Kais Saied, the Trump-like populist president of Tunisia, sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and declared himself prosecutor general. As with Donald Trump, he had spent the years since he was elected in 2019 blaming members of parliament, critical media and government institutions for the dire state of the country. Polls show that many Tunisians believe him.

      • Kucinich is Cleveland

        Understanding power, this reviewer believes, has long escaped the attention of most people (especially the powerless, and I include women in this category) because they have been kept from it, or they steer clear of it because they know that power corrupts. Kucinich’s book is a welcome primer, told in very human, easily understood terms. It is centered around a David v. Goliath struggle to save a municipally-owned utility company from corporate predators and their devious efforts to increase utility rates to improve their profits. Fast-paced and well documented, it’s also essential reading for anyone who wants to enter the fray with the aim of challenging Old Boy networks in order to bring about essential changes that meet the needs of the people.

        To a certain degree, Kucinich had street smarts going for him. Growing up in the inner city, he easily recognized “the hustlers, the practiced deceivers“ in his neighborhood. But once he got involved in city politics, he soon discovered a whole new level of skullduggery.

      • Sacrificing Truth to Stay in Power
      • 'He Should Be Impeached': State Probe Finds Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women

        New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo "violated multiple state and federal laws" by groping, kissing, and hugging current and former government employees without their consent; making inappropriate sexual comments; creating a toxic work environment; and retaliating against at least one former staffer who went public with her story.

        "No man—no matter how powerful—can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period."—Letitia James, New York Attorney General

      • 'I Think He Should Resign': Biden Joins Chorus of Demands for Cuomo to Step Down

        U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday joined the growing chorus of people calling for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down after a state probe concluded that the Democrat "engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York state law."

        "I think he should resign," Biden told reporters after being asked about the findings Tuesday afternoon, citing his earlier comments when multiple women accused Cuomo of sexual harassment earlier this year.

      • Cori Bush, Progressive Lawmakers and Activists Hailed for New CDC Eviction Moratorium

        Pressure from progressive lawmakers and grassroots activists to extend the expired federal eviction moratorium paid off Tuesday when the Biden administration took action to shield most—but not all—U.S. renters at risk of losing their homes.

        "We saw what it's like when one of the lowest-income Americans ever elected to national office challenged a Congress that is half made up of millionaires."—Alexandra Rojas, Justice Democrats

      • Andrew Cuomo Is the New Crown Prince of Denial

        On Tuesday, State Attorney General Letitia James released her much-anticipated report into the sexual harassment allegations brought against Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. James, a fellow Democrat, was unequivocal: Cuomo had harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws. However, James said that holding the governor legally accountable would be a civil, not a criminal, manner.

      • Lawyers say Paul Whelan, American national jailed in Russia, hasn’t been heard from in a month

        American national Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia on espionage charges, hasn’t been in touch with his family or the U.S. Embassy in more than four weeks, his lawyer Olga Karlova told Interfax.

      • Paving a Pathway to Citizenship Also Means Paving a Pathway to Recovery
      • Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation fined over lack of ‘foreign agent’ disclaimers

        A Moscow court has fined Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK) for failing to include “foreign agent” disclaimers on its website “ECHR Search.”

      • “I Alone Can Fix It”: Book Details Trump’s Last Year & the Military’s Fear He Would Stage a Coup

        A new book by two Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters provides fresh details on former President Trump’s response to the pandemic, his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, and the events surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The book, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” details how the country’s top general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, feared Trump would wage a coup after losing the November election, among other revelations. We speak with co-authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, who say their reporting unearthed “a lot of things that made our jaws drop to the ground.” In an interview for the book, Trump said his only regret during his last year in office was not deploying the military against Black Lives Matter protesters. “He wanted to use active-duty troops on the streets of America’s cities to combat American protesters who were exercising their First Amendment rights,” says Rucker.

      • A Trump Bombshell Quietly Dropped Last Week. And It Should Shock Us All.

        On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.” The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, who was also on the call.

      • Biden's Call for "Out-Organizing" Voter Suppression Is Insulting, Say Activists
      • Facebook Disables Accounts Tied to NYU Research Project

        Facebook Inc. has disabled the personal accounts of a group of New York University researchers studying political ads on the social network, claiming they are scraping data in violation of the company’s terms of service.

      • Tencent Boss Loses $14 Billion in Crackdown, More Than Jack Ma

        In a twist that has upended conventional wisdom on the political pecking order of China’s business elite, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s mild-mannered boss, Pony Ma, has lost more paper wealth over the past nine months than Jack Ma, the combative co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Ant Group Co.

      • Why spite could destroy liberal democracy

        As communism imploded in 1989, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama asked if liberal democracy was “the end of history”, being the form all societies were destined to take. The past decades have suggested not. Illiberal democracies and hybrid democratic-authoritarian regimes continue to emerge.

        Fukuyama foresaw this possibility. He felt that citizens dissatisfied with liberty and equality could destabilise liberal democracy – restarting history as it were. One way they could do so, I realised while writing a book about spite, is if such dissatisfaction led to spiteful acts.

        I therefore believe defenders of liberal democracy must understand the danger of spite.

      • ‘He had a bad feeling’: Ukrainian police launch murder investigation after missing Belarusian activist is found dead in Kyiv

        Ukrainian police have opened a murder investigation after finding missing Belarusian activist Vital Shyshou hanged in a Kyiv park on the morning of August 3. Shyshou, who left Belarus in the fall of 2020, was reported missing a day earlier after he went out for a morning jog and never returned. Ukrainian police suspect his death was a suicide or a murder framed as suicide. However, Shyshou’s colleagues and loved ones believe he was killed. Fellow activists from the NGO “Belarusian House in Ukraine” (BDU), which Shyshou founded to help Belarusians fleeing political persecution, said that his face showed signs of having been beaten. BDU also said that sources in Kyiv and Belarus told its members about a network of Belarusian KGB agents allegedly working in Ukraine, and warned about the possibility of “kidnappings and liquidations.” A week before his death, Vital Shyshou noticed that he was being followed and asked friends to “take care” of his loved ones.

      • Belarus Activist Vitaly Shishov's Death Investigated as Murder Disguised as Suicide

        Shishov had led the Belarusian House in Ukraine group, which assists Belarusians to find jobs, legal advice and accommodation.

      • Exiled Belarus activist found hanged in Ukraine, police open murder case

        Police said they had launched a criminal case for suspected murder, including investigating whether killers tried to disguise the crime as suicide.

      • Vitaly Shishov: Head of Belarus exiles group found dead in Ukraine

        Police said that they had recovered Mr Shishov's mobile phone and personal items from the scene.

      • Cognitive Confinement In Narrative Prisons

        After writing a whole book about [Internet] and narrative control, I want to share what I personally do, in my own limited ways, to try not to get stuck in bubbles. The book covers a lot of ground on this used up road, especially in the last part, but let’s be practical instead. This isn’t meant to be didactic but only informative of my reflection on how I attempt to achieve this and the issues I’ve encountered.

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Understanding Overlapping Corporate Disinformation Campaigns is Critical to Telling the Full Story About Science Denial

        Bayer, which now owns Monsanto, announced at the end of July that it will remove the harmful pesticide glyphosate — a “probable carcinogen” — from its Roundup herbicide products by 2023, as it continues to face mounting pressure from lawsuits about the product’s health impacts.€ 

      • Algeria revokes accreditation of Saudi channel Al-Arabiya over allegedly spreading misinformation

        Algerian authorities should immediately reverse their decision to revoke the accreditation of Saudi news channel Al-Arabiya and ensure that the channel can operate freely in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

        On July 31, Algeria’s communications ministry withdrew Al-Arabiya’s press accreditation for allegedly spreading misinformation while failing to respect journalistic ethics and practicing manipulation, according to news reports and the state-run news agency Algérie Press Service.

        None of the reports specified what the channel allegedly published to earn the revocation and neither the communications ministry nor Al-Arabiya returned CPJ’s emailed requests for comment.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Social Network GETTR, Which Promised To Support 'Free Speech' Now Full Of Islamic State Jihadi Propaganda

        When last we checked in on GETTR, the latest in the Gab-Parler trend of very naive people setting up a new social network they hope will become the "MAGA central" social network by claiming, ridiculously, that they "won't censor," it was overrun by furry porn and My Little Pony porn. The site, that is run by former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller, has struggled to understand how content moderation actually works, and is now facing yet another new kind of content moderation challenge: jihadi propaganda from the Islamic State.

      • President Of France Sues Citizen Over Billboard Comparing Macron To Hitler

        Some countries still have laws that forbid insulting political leaders. But you kind of assume enforcement of these laws will be left to the Erdogans and Dutertes of the world.

      • Facebook, Google, Twitter Register to Lobby Congress on Section 230

        Since the Capitol [insurrection], a number of proposals have been put forward to amend — in some cases completely repeal — the provision to address what some Republicans are calling outright censorship by social media companies. Even Florida tried to take matters into its own hands when it made law rules that penalized social media companies that banned politicians. That law has since been put on hold by the courts.

        The social media giants, and its allies in the industry, have pressed the importance of the provision, which they say have allowed once-fledgling companies like Facebook to be what it is today. And some representatives think reform of the law could lean more toward amendment than outright repeal. But lawyers have warned about a shift in attitude toward those liability protections, as more judges in courts across the country hold big technology companies accountable for harm caused by the platforms.

      • Why X-rated masterpiece The Devils is still being censored

        The late film director Ken Russell was the embodiment of outrageous cinema. From his early documentaries and biopics about famous composers for the BBC to feature films such as Women in Love (1969), The Music Lovers (1971) and Tommy (1975), Russell became one of Britain's most unique screen artists.

        Today, one film of his above all others is still considered controversial: 1971's The Devils. Based on real events that occurred in a 17th-Century French town, it caused more than a few sleepless nights for the censors.

      • [Old] Big Tech is a big threat to political speech

        Big Tech has big power over freedom of expression— and that is a big problem.

        Over the last several months, it has become quite apparent that Facebook and Twitter exercise an inordinate amount of control over the news and ideas we are exposed to. In the wake of the Capital Hill riots by the far-right, Big Tech companies took the unprecedented step of deplatforming the sitting President of the United States and ramping up their powers of censorship.

        Now, no one should feel bad for Donald Trump or the far-right. But the increased powers nakedly wielded by Big Tech companies are a major cause for concern for the left. Those of us who are engaged in political struggles that seek to upend the structures of racism, imperialism and inequality often are advocating ideas outside the mainstream – a term which powerful Big Tech companies increasingly define. Thus, a crackdown on political expression that seeks to reign in ill-defined “extremism” inevitably means attacking the political expression of those who challenge existing power structures in our society. And this is a very dangerous thing.

      • Freedom of Speech: A Vulnerable Right

        Social media has undoubtedly become the dominant form of communication in our society. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults identify themselves as Facebook users. Statistics show that people on average spend 2.5 hours per day on social networks and messaging. Also, 49 percent "of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media." Social media boosters claim that this success shows that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms are fulfilling their promise to help build an interconnected world of free expression and solidarity in diversity of thought. But is this true?

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Body of Danish Siddiqui was mutilated; shot 16 times, head brutally crushed

        According to reports in the media, Siddiqui was hit by shrapnel and rushed to a neighboring mosque for treatment. The news of his stay spread, forcing Taliban gunmen to attack the mosque, which a local investigation determined was only done because the Taliban knew the photojournalist was sheltering there.

      • Belarusian Journalist Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For 'Insulting' Lukashenka

        The verdict in the case against Syarhey Hardzievich, 50, comes as part of a massive government crackdown in Belarus on independent media, human rights defenders, and activists.

      • Belarus Sends Reporter to Prison Over Deleted Chat Messages

        A court in Belarus convicted a journalist of insulting the president in messages in a deleted chat group and sentenced him to 1 1/2 years in prison, the Belarusian Association of Journalists said Monday.

        The verdict in the case against Siarhei Hardziyevich, 50, comes as part of a massive crackdown that Belarusian authorities have unleashed on independent media and human rights activists.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • CoJiT: The "Anti-Extremism" Think Tank Started by Sons of Israeli Superspy Robert Maxwell

        If you have not heard of Combating Jihadist Terrorism and Extremism (CoJiT), you are probably not alone. The London-based think tank does not go out of its way to advertise itself. Yet it appears to be having an outsized effect on domestic British policy towards terrorism and surveillance, pushing for more all-encompassing measures against Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism both at home and worldwide.

      • Why Carlson’s Alliance With Hungarian Fascism Matters

        The Daily Beast’s report (8/3/21) that Fox News host Tucker Carlson would speak at “MCC Feszt, a far-right conference in Budapest that is backed by Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orbán,” may just be one item on the host’s long list of potentially racist and fascist-friendly acts. But it stands out as an international incident, casting his range beyond American politics.

      • Refugees Continue to Face “Extreme Danger” in Mediterranean Sea as Aid Groups Scramble to Respond

        The number of refugees trying to reach European soil continues to grow due to worsening poverty, violence and the climate crisis, and over 1,100 refugees have perished crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the United Nations. We speak with Laurence Bondard of SOS Méditerranée, a humanitarian group that rescues migrants at sea, who says there is a severe shortage of search-and-rescue resources in the area to address the crisis. “The people that are actually fleeing via the sea that are on tremendously unseaworthy dinghies — most of the time without life jackets, without enough food or water — are in extreme danger, and they cannot always be rescued,” Bondard says.

      • Palestinians Reject Deal That Turns Settlers Into Landlords in Sheikh Jarrah
      • 'We Are the Owners': Palestinians Refuse to Concede Land Rights to Israelis in Sheikh Jarrah

        Palestinian families facing ethnic cleansing from their Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday rejected a so-called "compromise" offer from Israel's Supreme Court, which would allow them to remain in their homes if they recognize as rightful owners the Israeli settler group trying to steal the properties.

        Under the Israeli high court proposal, four Palestinian families and dozens of others threatened with forced expulsion from the Sheikh Jarrah area would remain in the neighborhood as "protected tenants" who could not be evicted, as long as they acknowledged that Nahalat Shimon Company—a right-wing settler organization dating back to the early years of Zionist colonization of Palestine—as the lawful owner, and paid it NIS 1,500 ($465) in annual rent.

      • Palestinians Reject Israeli Court’s Deal That Would Put Them at “Mercy of Settlers” in Sheikh Jarrah

        The Israeli Supreme Court this week offered Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah a compromise in their ongoing fight to block Jewish settlers from forcibly expelling them from their own homes. The high court proposed that Palestinian families could stay in their homes for now if they begin paying rent to the Jewish settler group that claims ownership over the properties — a deal the families rejected, insisting they are the legal owners. The planned evictions in East Jerusalem helped spark the last war in Gaza in May and have galvanized international support for Palestinians facing dispossession from settler groups and the state. The United Nations has described the planned evictions as a possible war crime. Palestinian writer and poet Mohammed El-Kurd, whose family is among those facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, says the Israeli Supreme Court is “evading its responsibilities” by refusing to make a ruling, offering a face-saving compromise instead that will not ultimately benefit the families. “We would be living at the mercy of settlers, paying rent to live in our own homes and dealing with all kinds of arbitrary policies,” he says.

      • Announcing the Winners of the Keeley Schenwar Memorial Prize
      • Restricted freedom Opposition politician Lyubov Sobol handed parole-like sentence in the ‘Sanitary Case’

        After months spent under house arrest and restrictive pre-trial measures, Russian opposition politician Lyubov Sobol was given a 1.5-year parole-like sentence on August 3, as part of the so-called “Sanitary Case.” State investigators launched the criminal case against Sobol and nine other well-known activists and politicians back in January, in connection with a demonstration in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. According to the investigation, the defendants in the case called on Navalny’s supporters to attend the rally and thereby incited violations of public health regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sobol’s lawyer says his client — who is already on probation in connection with a felony trespassing case — plans to challenge the verdict.

      • Justice Ministry takes St. Petersburg bar association to court over its refusal to expel prominent lawyer Ivan Pavlov

        The St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Justice Ministry is taking the city’s bar chamber to court over its refusal to take disciplinary action against prominent human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov.

      • The Fiction of Meaningful Work

        An illusion has been abandoned before Kikuko Tsumura’s There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job begins. Work, once central and all-consuming for Tsumura’s unnamed narrator, a 36-year-old woman in Japan, has grown stale—something she wishes to minimize, since, sadly, toil cannot be avoided. The narrator reveals only scant details at first as to how she came to this shift. She quit her last job because of burnout, moved in with her parents, and has resolved to find the least exciting, least emotionally taxing job possible.

      • Oklahoma Deputies Steal $141,500 From Men Trying To Buy Land, Manage To Make $10,000 Of It Disappear

        Some regular, everyday highway robbery committed by an Oklahoma law enforcement agency is getting some airtime and additional scrutiny, which certainly isn't going to be beneficial to the Canadian County Sheriff's Office. (via Reason)

      • End of Moratorium Could Fuel Wave of “Invisible Evictions,” Organizers Warn
      • I Was Thrown in Solitary at 14. My Jailers Added a Day Each Time I Fought Back.
      • A New Suit Seeks to Turn Arbitrations, a Tool of Big Corporations, Against a Top Customer Service Provider

        Arise Virtual Solutions violates the rights of customer service agents around the country, a lawsuit filed last week in federal court asserts. The company, the suit claims, gets away with “flagrant legal violations” by keeping “its workers in the dark about their rights.”

        The suit is attempting to turn one of Arise’s biggest legal advantages — that its workers agree to individual arbitration, which prevents them from taking coordinated legal action — against the company. Shannon Liss-Riordan, the plaintiffs’ lawyer bringing the suit, has asked the court to order Arise to provide her the names and contact information of the company’s customer service agents. (Its CEO said last year that Arise has about 70,000 agents.) That could allow Liss-Riordan, who has tangled with Arise for years in court and private arbitration, to notify those workers of their potential legal claims. If she signs up enough agents as clients, she could unleash a wave of arbitration filings against Arise in what could become a war of attrition.

      • Amazon Pressured Alabama Workers to Vote Against Unionization, Labor Board Finds
      • With Amazon Accused of Cheating, NLRB Official Says Workers Should Get Another Union Vote

        An official at the National Labor Relations Board on Monday formally recommended tossing out the results of a closely watched union election at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, potentially giving workers there a chance to hold another vote as the e-commerce giant faces accusations of unlawful misconduct.

        "We support the hearing officer's recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election."—Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU

      • A Prison Guard Raped Me and Threatened My Life. Now I Fight for Others’ Lives.
      • Turkey: Arbitrary Arrests, Kidnappings, Torture in Prison

        A human rights advocate group called "The Hunger Strikes Monitoring and Follow-up Coordination" -- which includes organizations such as Diyarbakır Medical Chamber, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Human Rights Association, Lawyers Association for Freedom, Association for Solidarity with and Aid for the Families of Prisoners and the Union of Health and Social Services Workers -- visited prisons in Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Urfa, Bayburt, Erzincan, Malatya and Maraş and reported on the violations of rights in April, May and June 2021.

        According to the report, political prisoners are often subject to torture, assaults, insults, threats, and other forms of ill-treatment in those prisons. Some of the abuses include: [...]

      • Saudi Arabia launched 'relentless crackdown' after G20, Amnesty says

        Amnesty International accused Saudi Arabia on Tuesday of launching a "relentless crackdown" on dissidents in the kingdom after the end of its G20 presidency.

        Riyadh led the global forum for the world's wealthiest countries for all of last year and pushed through some changes, claiming to have scrapped the death sentence for minors and banning public floggings.

        But a new report by the London-based human rights organization said authorities "have brazenly intensified the persecution of human rights defenders and dissidents and stepped up executions over the past six months."

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Canadian Government Continues Its War On Internet Freedom With New 'Online Harms' Legislation

        A few months ago, we wrote about the Canadian government's attempt to give its broadcast regulators sweeping new powers to regulate social media via Bill C-10 — a massive piece of legislation that seemed to only get worse over time thanks to unclear, ever-shifting provisions and a rushed, secretive amendment process before being passed by the House of Commons in the middle of the night. That bill is now in limbo in the Senate, and Canadians are waiting to see if it will come back in the September session or be preempted by an early federal election. Unfortunately, the stalling-out of Bill C-10 hasn't put a stop to the ruling Liberal government's efforts to create unprecedented new powers of internet regulation, and now their ongoing campaign is continuing with a technical paper outlining plans for more new legislation to address "harmful online content".

      • Telecom Lobbyists Easily Weakened Language In 'Bipartisan' Broadband Infrastructure Bill

        So we've already noted how the broadband component of the "bipartisan compromise" infrastructure bill was still helpful, but much weaker than many wanted it to be (pretty much the common theme across the infrastructure package). While there are some useful grant funds for underserved "middle mile" and other networks -- as well as the continuation of a helpful but flawed COVID broadband discount program -- the proposal itself doesn't really do much of anything about the core reason US broadband is so expensive: namely, regional telecom monopolization or the corruption that protects it.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Spotify Tests Ad-Supported Subscription Tier for $0.99 a Month

        Called Spotify Plus, the subscription tier is a fraction of the price of Spotify Premium, the $9.99/month ad-free offering. It is currently being tested with a “limited number of users,” according to the spokesperson, at a variety of price points — including $0.99 a month.

      • Spotify is testing a less restrictive ad-supported tier costing $0.99 a month

        Spotify’s free tier has existed in its current form since 2018. It doesn’t let users skip more than six tracks per hour, and only lets them pick and listen to specific tracks from 15 select playlists, ranging from editorial-selected playlists to algorithmically generated collections like “Discover Weekly” and “Daily Mix.” Outside of these playlists, free users can only listen to shuffled tracks. The new Spotify Plus tier is a relatively cheap way to reduce some of those restrictions.

      • Home Depot plans to foil shoplifters with power tools that won't work if they're stolen

        The home-improvement chain is unveiling power tools that won't work unless they're properly scanned and activated at the register via Bluetooth technology. If a thief managed to smuggle a power drill out of the store without paying, the drill simply wouldn't turn on.

      • Sell This Book!

        The very role and meaning of libraries relies on their right to own books, because books that can expire are books that can disappear permanently—books that can be taken away. There is a cultural, a political, even a civilizational danger in this vulnerability that can’t be overestimated.

        “Sourcing is the glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together,” as Jonathan Zittrain wrote last year in The Atlantic in an article about the Internet’s weaknesses as a cultural archive. When a link disappears, when an online publisher goes out of business, readers, researchers, and scholars will hit a dead end—unless digital libraries are given the same power to archive that traditional libraries have had for centuries. Digital media is recklessly burning its own record to ash behind it, so we need institutions and systems to affirmatively protect and preserve 21st-century knowledge.

    • Monopolies

      • European Commission investigates Facebook Kustomer deal on competition grounds

        The European Commission has launched an investigation into Facebook Inc.’s acquisition of customer service firm Kustomer Inc. on the grounds that the purchase may hurt competition.

        Facebook purchased Kustomer in December for a figure believed to be just over $1 billion. Kustomer, founded in 2015, offers a software-as-service customer relationship management platform that is pitched as centralizing the entire workflow.

      • Patents

        • Results of user consultation on EPO Guidelines [Ed: Consultation with litigation firms, not the European public. The EPO is compromised and is run by crooks who undermine Europe and break the law for personal gain.]

          The EPO has published a summary of the responses to its recent online user consultation on the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines 2021. The consultation, the second of its kind and part of the EPO's annual Guidelines revision cycle, attracted almost 200 responses, many of them focussing on biotechnology issues and the EPO's practice regarding the adaptation of patent application descriptions.

        • Pfizer and Moderna Hike EU Vaccine Prices as Rich Countries Oppose Patent Waiver
      • Copyrights

        • Copyright Vindication: Supreme Court Confirms Access Copyright Tariff Not Mandatory, Lower Court Fair Dealing Analysis Was “Tainted”

          Access Copyright has spent much of the past decade arguing that the 2012 reforms undermined payments for educational copying, but the reality is that those reforms had little to do with the flawed fair dealing analysis from the federal court and nothing to do with the status of their tariff. The collective will undoubtedly accelerate its lobbying campaign for copyright reforms designed severely limit fair dealing for education, but after two decades of litigation that has consistently affirmed the education community’s analysis of the law, perhaps it is time for Access Copyright to compete within the system, not waste millions of creator dollars on lobbying and failed litigation.

        • Open Minds Podcast: Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures

          Our guest on this episode is Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures, a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV has invested in over 100 companies that use the power of the internet to re-shape markets, including Twitter, Etsy, Stripe, Tumblr, Meetup, and Kickstarter, among others. Earlier this year, USV announced a new $162 million Climate Fund focused on investing in “companies and projects that provide mitigation for or adaptation to the climate crisis.” In this episode, we delve into the topic of Climate Change, from what the average person can start doing today to the importance of openness and cross-sectoral collaboration and partnership to find effective solutions.

        • US Lawmakers Suggest That Piracy is Part of Twitter's Business Model

          A group of bipartisan U.S. House Representatives has sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, urging the company to take copyright infringement seriously. While Twitter seemingly complies with the law, the lawmakers say that the company's actions suggest that piracy is part of Twitter's business model.

        • Y2Mate: Massive YouTube-Ripping Service Blocks US & UK Visitors

          With an estimated 128 million visitors per month, Y2Mate is probably the world's largest YouTube-to-MP3 ripping site. Intriguingly, the platform is currently showing a shutdown message to millions of users, noting that the service has completely shut down. That is not the case.

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