Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 7/8/2021: Latte Dock 0.10, Godot 3.4 beta 3, Krita 4.4.7

  • Leftovers

    • Opinion | We Showed This Week What Grassroots Movements Are Capable of

      This week, the limitless power of people was on full display from the steps of the US House of Representatives.

    • Citizen Is Paying Users To Run The App And Their Mouths At Crime Scenes And Medical Emergencies

      The app formerly known as "Vigilante" is surreptitiously redefining the term "citizen journalist." The new definition will probably be capitalized and trademarked. The crime reporting app that once entertained plans to become part of the law enforcement community by partnering with private security companies is paying users to head out to crime scenes and annoy civil servants.

    • About Those RVs Parked in Your Neighborhood

      “Look at that mess!!” She snapped. “There’s gotta be a way to get them out of here!!” Up came insinuations the RVs occupants were dumping toilet waste and trash on the street though none had ever been apparent. Elsewhere in this country these complaints are being voiced about monopolizing parking space, unsightliness, propane fires, dumping refuse in residents’ garbage cans, domestic violence, noise, break-ins to finance drug and alcohol habits, and today’s parking-lot plague of catalytic-converter thefts.

      Few mention occupants dying from heatwaves, as happened to one Portland resident in a private RV park when July’s 116€ºF temperature knocked out the air conditioner of his uninsulated motorhome. “This is like a tin can,” said his RV neighbor about no shade trees from direct sunrays and asphalt pavement helping to draw its heat. Another neighbor tin-foiled her windows and had to use two ACs.

    • Brazil, Amazon, World: Toxic Masculinity

      This isn’t only about loss of an extraordinary territory, home to more than three million species and some 10% of the world’s biodiversity. Bolsonaro and men like him are also driving the probability of a whole new array of zoonotic pandemics that are linked with habitat fragmentation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, intensive agriculture, livestock farming, land grabbing, and pollution, all of which feature high on Bolsonaro’s get-done list. Shortly before he was elected, the Spanish daily El Pais described him as “a former captain in the Army’s paratrooper brigade, lover of military government, torture, police executions; macho, racist, and profoundly ignorant about any matter that doesn’t entail testosterone displays”. The title explains why a country would want to be led by this “thing”, as he is called by many Brazilians who can’t bear to pronounce his name: “The Elite Prefers an Alpha Macho”. This brings us to the part about homophobia and sociopathic masculinity. As for the elite, more than Bolsonaro, they actually prefer his ultraliberal economic guru, Paolo Guedes. Anyway, elites have never been expected to like the goons they employ to do their dirty work.

      Whatever their testosterone levels, alpha machos still have to find a way of justifying their behavior and comments (for example, “human rights are bullshit”) which are still thought indecorous in at least some government circles. One of the more effective ways to ensure that this vile virility is venerated is to enlist the help of religious zealots, in Brazil’s case, the evangelicals who occupy many first- and second-level positions in government, mainly in the areas of education, culture, human rights, and foreign policy (forging alliances with Israel, the Trump Administration, Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, the Law and Justice Party in Poland, etc.) thus getting international support as well as providing the sanctified extremist discourse the thuggish president needs.

    • Shropshire in New York

      Though this swath of territory is peaceful, if poor, there are signs of past struggles.€ Heading east over rolling hills divided by the Tioghnioga, Chenango, and Susquehanna Rivers—the first two tributaries of the last—one comes to the graceful, dilapidated town of Greene. It was founded, a sign informs motorists, in 1792—that is, during the post-independence land rush Upstate. It is named after the Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene, Lafayette’s friend and fellow Freemason. As Commandant of West Point, Greene presided over the execution of John André, Benedict Arnold’s contact in the British army.

      The Town of Greene’s glory days are behind it. The main street is called Genessee, a double avenue that must have once boasted a median lined with American Elms. They are gone and the area paved over for angled parking spots.

    • Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association: a Vehicle for Social Solidarity or for Social Consensus?

      Having not kept up with the newcomers to the team since somewhere around the time of their third All-Ireland title in a row several years ago, I realized I only recognized a handful of faces.

      A quick Google search later and I had the names of all 36 players on the squad in front of me.

    • The Progressive Death of Progressivism

      Our Revolution surrenders

      Good bye Medicare-for-All, now that Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Bernie Sanders have abandoned the cause. Never mind that a majority of the electorate still favors the proposal. But to get Medicare-for-All, progressives would have to stand up to the Democratic Party. And that would entail a fight and therefore is not pragmatic.

    • The Politics of Cheering and Booing: On Palestine, Solidarity and the Tokyo Olympics

      I grew up watching the Olympics. All of us did. Throughout the month-long international sports event, the Olympics were the main topic of discussion among the refugees in my refugee camp in Gaza, where I was born.

      Unlike other sports competitions such as football, you did not need to care about the sport itself to appreciate the underlying meaning of the Olympics. The entire exercise seemed to be political.

    • The Days of August, 1990

      This apparent lack of opinion led Mr. Hussein to conclude that, since Kuwait apparently had no intention of paying debts to Baghdad for the Iraqi military’s protection during the recently concluded Iran-Iraq war, he had every right to send in the Iraqi military to Kuwait and demand payment.€  Other issues between Iraq and Kuwait involved a Kuwaiti oil drilling operation which saw Kuwait removing oil from Iraqi territory.€  Another factor in the Iraqi government’s calculations was that Washington had been quite supportive of the Iraqis during its aforementioned conflict with Iran.€  Part of that support included the export of biological agents, including anthrax, and cluster bombs sold by a CIA front operating out of Pinochet’s Chile. The US support was provided despite the fact that Washington knew Hussein was using nerve gas against Iranian troops.€  Horrifically, many of those troops were teenage boys drafted into Iran’s military and sent to the front for use as fodder in what were called “human wave” operations.€  In modern warfare, these operations were first noted in the Boxer Rebellion and involve a coordinated mass of soldiers falling upon the enemy force and sweeping them away with their numbers and momentum.€  In other words, tsunami warfare.

      President Hussein acted on his belief on August 2, 1990.€  At 2 AM local time, Iraqi ground troops overwhelmed the Kuwaiti military, forcing them to retreat into Saudi Arabia, and occupied Kuwait’s oil fields.€  Within hours, George Bush the Elder told the world that the invasion “would not stand.”€  On August 7th, Bush announced the formation of Operation Desert Shield and the Pentagon began sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen to the deserts of Kuwait.€  Washington would ultimately make a deal with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia to also place US forces on its territory, as well.€  This decision by the Saudi monarchy would rile up certain fundamentalist Wahhabi Muslims, who considered the presence of infidel troops on Islamic Holy Lands to be blasphemy.€  Among these Muslims was a scion of the wealthy bin Laden family—a man named Osama bin Laden, who had worked in concert with US intelligence agencies in Afghanistan to indoctrinate and train mujaheddin fighters in the US proxy war with the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    • Finis to the Grand Fool’s Errand…or to All Of Us?

      Investments of that capital in oil and coal, and steel and machinery, catapulted the 19th century American industrial revolution, enriching a new elite, creating a broader middle class but forcing many into working class grinds. A few years later the rising oligarchs fostered a new form of colonialism aimed at accessing markets and more industrial resources. The noted “American way of life” began to take shape and such exploitation would eventually advance Washington’s and Wall Street’s financial and military dominance in the 20th. Until 1945 the U.S. was by far the leading source and purveyor of the critical energy indispensable for capitalist civilization though this arrangement is backfiring and presages a calamitous and dire future for our species. Today, despite intensifying perception of the need to address climate change, reduce carbon emissions and the necessity for alternative sources of energy, the demand and competition for oil, natural gas and even coal ramps up daily across the globe.

      Now the Prez who as a senator voted for the all-time longest war claims a desire to end it, but let’s be real…not really, and says that Washington should never have joined the “misadventure” in Afghanistan in the first place. Remember the Taliban in Texas in negotiations to build pipelines in Afghanistan to draw natural gas from the “Stans” for the profit of American energy corporations? It was the Taliban’s ultimate refusal to cooperate that provided a prime motivation for the invasion to topple them in 2002. And where exactly on the time frame is this “first place” that Biden notes? A broad-spectrum strategy had been in the works well before the events of 9-11. As Zbigniew Brzezinski made clear back in 1998 he and his elite collaborators had deliberately drawn the Soviet Union into an elaborate trap i.e. its own version of America’s invasion and defeat in Vietnam. “The secret operation” said Zbig, “was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. You want me to regret that?”

    • Opinion | Is Humanity's Return to Barbarism Unavoidable?

      A cursory glance at the state of today’s world will give pause to anyone wishing to celebrate humanity’s progress. In fact, evidence abounds that the possibility of a reversion to barbarism should not be rejected as too far-fetched.

    • Dishonor by Association: A Red, White, and Blue Object Lesson

      Rest assured, I will connect the dots leading from Aldous Huxley’s prescient observation to the mindset and moral code required to engage in what someone like Mr. Osius believes is honor by association. Note that this is a selective, not a blanket condemnation of Osius’ modus vivendi. That doesn’t make it any less damning.

      Huxley goes on to say that the people he describes are only normal “in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” Hold that thought until the end.

    • Opinion | Is a United World Possible?

      What if . . . ?

    • Porn Workers as Labor Force

      Since the days of Oliver Reed’s “X-rated masterpiece” (BBC) which “is still being censored”, the money for adult workers has improved and working conditions as well. This is the non-sex-side of the pornography industry. Overall, the industry is valued at about $100bn globally.

      Despite many moral misgivings, it operates, after all, like a normal business. There is marketing which tells people that films like The Party at Kitty and Stud’s do exists; there is finance who compensates actors, pays bills, collects profits, etc.; there is operations management that gets props, costumes, toys, cameras, etc. onto the set; and there is HRM who manages workers, i.e. adult actors.

    • Scorched Earth
    • Health/Nutrition

      • AK: Older people getting vaccine certificate printouts at Pärnu library

        The requirement from Monday to present coronavirus certification at larger events has led to a surge in members of the public, particularly older people, going to libraries to obtain a printout, if they were unable to use digital solutions such as Mobile-ID, and also lacked a home printer.

        Getting a printout at a library or other public facility still requires both ID Card PIN codes, which leads to the next obstacle in many cases – people often lose or forget their codes or were unaware they had them in the first place.

      • Mexico sues 11 US gun makers over illegal flow of weapons across border

        2.5 million illicit weapons have crossed into Mexico in past decade, according to one government study

      • 'This Ain't Right!': Top US Insurers Made $11 Billion in 2nd Quarter

        Five of the most profitable health insurance companies in the U.S. brought in over $11 billion in profits in the second quarter of 2021, it was reported on Friday—an outrageous amount of money, especially during a pandemic, that progressives€ said provides further evidence of the need for Medicare for All.

        Between April and June of this year, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, and Humana reported profits of $4.37 billion, $2.78 billion, $1.8 billion, $1.47 billion, and $588 million, respectively.

      • Democrats Propose Medicare for a Few More Instead of Demanding Medicare for All
      • GOP Lawmaker Suing Pelosi Over House Mask Rules Contracts COVID
      • How the Alt-Right Have Used Online Conspiracy Theories to Create a False Class Consciousness and Take Down Democracy

        Social media blurs the distinction between fact and fiction, legitimising disinformation with every like, comment and share. Those who dig deeper, find more “alternative facts” as online algorithms become complicit in suggesting videos of similar content. As the gullible fall further down the rabbit hole, their scepticism is validated as it reverberates around the echo chamber. It is in these far-flung corners of the internet where the vulnerable fall into the conspiratorial labyrinth.

        Internet searches for conspiracy theories have proliferated since the beginning of Covid-19. The first myth peddled around the pandemic was that it was a “plandemic” or a hoax. After the death of millions worldwide, the conspiracy shifted its claim, this time speculating that the lockdown would never end. Since the lockdown has been lifted, they now predict that Bill Gates, amongst others, are using vaccinations to insert us with microchips.

      • New CDC Data Shows Covid-19 Reinfection Risk Double for Unvaccinated People

        As new data published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that unvaccinated people are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with the coronavirus than those who have been inoculated against the virus, public health officials and experts underscored the importance of vaccination.

        "Even among the uncommon cases of Covid-19 among the fully or partially vaccinated, vaccines make people more likely to have a milder and shorter illness compared to those who are unvaccinated."—CDC

      • Vaccine Regrets Proliferate as Delta Surges 'Like a Tsunami' Among Unvaccinated

        As Covid-19 cases surge in parts of the country with low vaccination rates, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, stories of unvaccinated Americans expressing deep regrets from their deathbeds are spreading across social media, with healthcare workers facing the excruciating task of telling some€ patients that it's too late to help them.€ 

        On Friday CNN reported the story of Travis Campbell, who has been in a hospital in Virginia for two weeks battling Covid-19—which has caused€ him to develop pneumonia and left him with a partially collapsed lung—after putting off getting vaccinated not because of stubborn "vaccine hesitancy," but due to a move and knee surgery.

      • Covid-19 Vaccine: A costly dilemma over pregnant women?

        The government is yet to decide whether to vaccinate pregnant women despite a WHO recommendation to that end and an alarming rise in the number of pregnant Covid-19 patients.

        The death toll too is higher among pregnant and lactating women compared to other patients.

        According to two major hospitals -- Dhaka Medical College and Hospital and Mugda Medical College Hospital -- where most pregnant women are taking treatment in the capital, the infection rate in the Covid-19 gynaecology units had reached their peaks towards the end of last month.

        The number of pregnant Covid-19 patients in ICUs has also increased.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Report Again Finds US Government IT Security Sucks, Three Years After Saying The Same Thing

            Three years ago a US Senate Committee report showcased that the U.S. government's cybersecurity defenses were the IT equivalent of damp cardboard. The study found numerous government agencies were using dated systems that were expensive to maintain but hard to properly secure. It also noted how from 2008 to 2018, the government repeatedly failed to adequately protect sensitive data at the Social Security Administration and Departments of Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Education.

          • Spam is Chipotle's secret ingredient: Marketing email hijacked to dish up malware

            Between July 13 and July 16, someone took over the Mailgun account owned by restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill and placed an order for login credentials using misappropriated marketing messages.

            Phish-fighting firm INKY said on Thursday that it spotted 121 phishing emails during this period originating from Chipotle's Mailgun account.


            But a sample Microsoft phishing message published by INKY suggests that inconsistency would not have been visible to recipients.

          • Apple Undermines Its Famous Security 'For The Children'

            Apple is somewhat famous for its approach to security on its iPhones. Most famously, Apple went to court to fight the FBI's demand that they effectively insert a backdoor into its on-phone encryption (by being able to force an update to the phone). Apple has tons of goodwill in the security community (and the public) because of that, though not in the law enforcement community. Unfortunately, it appears that Apple is throwing away much of that good will and has decided to undermine the security of its phone... "for the children" (of course).

          • SAML is insecure by design

            SAML uses signatures based on computed values. The practice is inherently insecure and thus SAML as a design is insecure.

          • Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) online community web application security
          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facebook Acting Badly: Shuts Down Researchers Accounts Over Claims Of Privacy Violations That Don't Stand Up To Scrutiny

              Last year we wrote about Facebook threatening NYU researchers who had set up a browser extension that would allow users to voluntarily collect information about ads and ad targeting on Facebook -- information that Facebook does not publicly reveal -- and provide it to the researchers' "Ad Observatory" project. As we noted at the time, Facebook's threats were definitely going too far, though you could see how it came about, as it could be argued that there were technical similarities to what the NYU researchers were doing, and what an academic from Cambridge did many years ago that turned into... the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted (in part) in a massive fine from the FTC for privacy violations.

            • Twitter Judge Rejects Early Escape From Youth Exploitation Suit

              U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero in San Francisco said during a virtual hearing Friday he has tentatively concluded Twitter should face an accusation it benefited from the display of sexual images of the youths.

            • Zoom's $85 Million Settlement Won't Change a Thing, but It Could Get You a Refund

              For the most part, the changes seem to apply to the second charge the company was hammered with; sharing data with third parties. For the most part, this data sharing occurs via software development kits, or “SDK’s”—tiny trackers that apps like Zoom use to know who’s using their product, and how often. SDK’s that are owned by Facebook or Google help the company retarget users with ads across Facebook- or Google-owned properties, like Instagram or Youtube. But by loading up their app with that software, Zoom’s sharing some sort of analytics with these two data-hoovering giants each time you hop on a video call.

              As part of the settlement, Zoom is agreeing not to integrate Facebook’s SDK into its iOS app for a year. It’s a change that doesn’t really mean much for two reasons; it ignores the fact that many Facebook SDKs are effectively useless in phones equipped with iOS 14's privacy changes, and it ignores... Android phones. In other words, it’s very likely that the only reason Zoom’s caving on using these particular analytics is because they just don’t work in Apple’s OS anymore; not because they’re an obvious privacy problem. The company hasn’t yet responded to questions about what changes it plans to implement for Android devices.

            • Zoom to pay $85 million in settlements for false encryption claims, sharing user data with Facebook and Google

              Zoom has also been blamed for sharing user data with other tech majors like Facebook and Google, despite its promise of not selling user data to third parties. The lawsuit highlighted that Zoom used Facebook SDK and similar software development kits from other vendors that enabled the data transfer.

              The users thus had their personal information, associated with Zoom, shared with other online services without their consent. The list of other services that this data was allegedly shared with includes hotjar, Zendesk, AdRoll, Bing, and others.

            • Zoom Agrees To $85 Million Settlement Over Failure to Protect Users’ Privacy

              The settlement is pending approval by a judge, with a motion for preliminary approval filed on Monday in federal court in San Jose, the attorneys said.

            • Zoom to Pay $85 Million Over Encryption, Sending User Data

              The proposed settlement [PDF] would give Zoom users either US$15 or US$25 each, depending on if you are a free user or a paid subscriber. It was filed Saturday at US District Court for the Northern District of California.

              In 2020 the company faced 14 class action lawsuits saying that it misled users about its security and privacy practices. Most of the claims were rejected but California District Judge Lucy Koh let two charges go through.

            • Zoom Raked In Revenue While It Lied About Encryption And Sent Your Data To Facebook

              Where There Is A Sniff Of Data, There Is Facebook: While the end-to-end encryption lying was a reality and the lawsuit which followed subsequently, there were also concerns about Zoom sharing user data. With Facebook. Zoom claimed all this while that this was because the app gave users the option of logging in via Facebook, using the Facebook Software Development Kit. That SDK was later removed, though the option of using Facebook to sign in, using the web browser, remained. Zoom has always maintained that they never sold any user’s data. The data that was shared with FB, included user’s account information, what device they were using and that device’s unique advertising identifier.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Answering the Armies of the Cheated: No Questions About War, Please!

        In fact, the armies of the cheated know exactly what happened, even if they haven’t yet settled on precisely the right term to describe the disaster that has befallen this nation.

        What happened was this: shortly after the end of the Cold War, virtually the entire American foreign-policy establishment succumbed to a monumentally self-destructive ideological fever.

      • Journalist Removed From McCarthy Presser Over Question on Jan 6 Commission
      • When Will They Lift the Blockade? Lessons From Cuba to Iraq and Back to Cuba

        A polite smile did not hide her deep anxiety.

        She wasn’t Venezuelan, not Iranian, not Syrian, nor a citizen of other nations struggling under U.S.-imposed sanctions.

      • Remembering the Battle of Blair Mountain

        Hard-pressed tenant farmers from all backgrounds — white, black, brown, indigenous, women, men, including prominent indigenous women organizers — were involved with this abortive effort that became known as the Green Corn Rebellion.€  Less well-known than even this virtually unknown Oklahoma uprising is the fact that it was born out of a secret multiracial network known as the Working Class Union, with an estimated 35,000 members in Oklahoma alone, which had been waging a campaign of armed resistance and industrial sabotage against the landed gentry and the mine operators of the region for years.

        Although most people reading this are probably people already fairly knowledgeable about historical events a lot of other people have never heard of, my guess is most of you have never heard of the Working Class Union in Oklahoma or their campaign of sabotage and armed struggle, or the fact that it was a consciously multiracial endeavor.

      • Today's Crisis in Afghanistan Grew Out of 20 Years of US War
      • As the U.S. Withdraws From Afghanistan, China Forges Ties With the Taliban

        China’s meetings with the Taliban are practical. China and Afghanistan share a very short—76-kilometer—border, which is relatively unpassable. But the real transit point between the two countries is Tajikistan, which has long feared the return of the Taliban to Kabul and the emergence of a free hand to extremism in Central Asia once more. From 1992 to 1997, a terrible civil war took place in Tajikistan between the government and the now-banned Islamic Renaissance Party; tensions over the growth of Taliban-inspired Islamism remain intact in the country.

        Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon has sought assistance from Moscow and Beijing to help in case his country is overrun by refugees from Afghanistan. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-Afghanistan Contact Group met in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe on July 14. Afghanistan is not a member of the SCO, although it made an application to join in 2015. The day before that meeting, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited President Rahmon in Dushanbe to discuss the deteriorating situation and “carry out more substantive security cooperation.” At the core of their agenda was President Rahmon’s pledge to prevent his country from becoming a base for extremism.

      • Beirut Explosion: 368 Days Later

        The blast that followed the explosion shook Beirut with a force akin to that of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake. Witnesses in the Eastern Mediterranean Island of Cyprus, more than 250 kilometers across the waters, felt the tremors.

        The destruction of the port, many city landmarks, and large swaths of Beirut’s downtown neighborhoods has left an indelible mark on the lives of Lebanon’s traumatized population.

      • Austrian court sentences Chechen ‘gunrunner’ to life in prison for Kadyrov critic’s murder

        A court in Korneuburg, Austria, has sentenced 48-year-old Sarali Akhtaev to life in prison after finding him guilty of the murder of Chechen blogger Mamikhan Umarov.

      • ‘Every child in Novokolosovo knows’: Belarus says suspected ‘detention camp’ is a military arms depot built in the 1950s

        On August 5, CNN released a report on a “possible prison camp for political dissidents” located outside of Minsk. The Belarusian government didn’t respond to requests for comment prior to publication, CNN said. But on August 6, both Belarusian state television and the Defense Ministry denounced the article as “fake news.” Defense officials maintained that the site is the location of an arms depot for the Belarusian air defense forces, which was built in the 1950s. The independent news outlet also reported that CNN’s article got “everything” wrong. That said, opposition activists in Belarus have previously warned that the Lukashenko regime may try to construct prison camps.

      • We Are Not an Indispensable Nation

        The 30-year interregnum of US global hegemony,” writes David Bromwich in the journal Raritan, “has been exposed as a fraud, a decoy, a cheat, [and] a sell.” Today, he continues, “the armies of the cheated are struggling to find the word for something that happened and happened wrong.”

      • Opinion | Nuclear Weapons Still a Clear and Present Danger 76 Years After Hiroshima

        Seventy-six years ago today at 8:15 am, Japan Standard time, the world changed forever with the dropping of the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima resulting in the deaths of over 140,000 human beings—mostly civilians—by year's end.

      • Rejection of US Hiroshima Myths Long Overdue

        The “good bomb” story is still believed by many in the United States because of decades of deliberate myth-making started by President Truman. He announced after Hiroshima, “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.” Some 140,000 people were killed in Hiroshima, another 70,000 in Nagasaki. Almost all were civilians. The bombs were dropped miles from the nearest military base in both cases.

        The incurious can be excused for accepting this cover-story — even though it was publicly rejected at the time by great thinkers and writers including Albert Camus and Dorothy Day — because documents that prove the president and his administration lied were kept secret for decades.

      • 76 Years After Hiroshima Bombing, Fresh Call for End to All Nuclear Weapons

        Peace advocates in Japan and around the globe on Friday marked the 76th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima with renewed calls for a world free of nuclear weapons and the existential threat they pose to humanity.

        "In just one blast, an entire city disappeared, and people were massacred. It was all too cruel. We must never allow nuclear weapons to be used again."—Pak Nam-ju, survivor

      • Blinded by the Light: Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Age of Normalized Violence

        Within a short time after the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, John Hersey wrote a devastating description of the misery and suffering caused by the bomb. Removing the bomb from abstract arguments endorsing matters of technique, efficiency, and national honor, Hersey first published in The New Yorker and later in a widely read book an exhausting and terrifying description of the bombs effects on the people of Hiroshima, portraying in detail the horror of the suffering caused by the bomb.€  There is one haunting passage that not only illustrates the horror of the pain and suffering, but also offers a powerful metaphor for the blindness that overtook both the victims and the perpetrators. He writes:

        The nightmarish image of fallen soldiers staring with hollow sockets, eyes liquidated on cheeks and mouths swollen and pus-filled stands as a warning to those who would refuse blindly the moral witnessing necessary to keep alive for future generations the memory of the horror of nuclear weapons and the need to eliminate them. Hersey’s literal depiction of mass violence against civilians serves as a kind of mirrored doubling, referring at one level to nations blindly driven by militarism and hyper-nationalism and at another level the need to exorcise history which now functions as a curse.

      • Mythmaking and the Atomic Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

        Reality: Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed to prevent the Soviets from making a contribution to the victory against Japan, which would have forced Washington to allow Moscow to participate in the postwar occupation and reconstruction of the country. It was also the intention to intimidate the Soviet leadership and thus to wrest concessions from it with respect to the postwar arrangements in Germany and Eastern Europe. Finally, it was not the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the Soviet entry into the war against Japan, which caused Tokyo to surrender.

        With the German capitulation in early May 1945, the war in Europe was over. The victors, the Big Three,[1] now faced the complex and delicate problem of the postwar reorganization of Europe. The United States had entered the war rather late, namely in December 1941. And the Americans only started to make a major contribution to the victory against Germany with the landings in Normandy in June 1944, that is, less than one year before the end of the hostilities in Europe. When the war against Germany came to an end, however, Uncle Sam occupied a seat at the table of the victors, ready and eager to look after his interests, to achieve what one might call the American war aims. (It is a myth that the presumably deeply isolationist Americans just wanted to withdraw from Europe: the country’s political, military, and economic leaders had urgent reasons for maintaining a presence on the old continent.) The other big victorious powers, Britain and the Soviet Union, also looked to pursue their interests. It was clear that it would be impossible for one of the three to “have it all”, that compromises would have to be reached. From the American point of view, the British expectations did not present much of a problem, but Soviet aspirations were a concern. What, then, were the war aims of the Soviet Union?

      • Calling Sanctions by Their Name: Rania Khalek on US Mideast Genocide
      • James Early on Cuban Embargo, David Cooper on ‘We All Quit’
      • The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
      • First Capitol [insurrection] defendants plead guilty to officer assaults

        Prosecutors said that Thompson admitted that he "was among a crowd of individuals on the lower west terrace who were pushing against and assaulting MPD and U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers in the tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol."

      • Over 24 Chadian Soldiers Murdered in Jihadist Attack

        The soldiers were attacked while resting after returning from patrolling the lake, which is located on the border between Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Local authorities are already looking for the crime’s perpetrators.

        Since 2015, Lake Chad has been a refuge for the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Boko Haram group.

      • Chad: Dozens of soldiers dead after jihadi attack

        The military blames Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram for the attack, but the region is also home to a rival splinter group called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

        Lake Chad borders: Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.

        Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria and gained a notorious reputation for its mass kidnapping of schoolgirls. The group later expanded its operations to neighboring countries.

      • 9/11 families to President Biden: Don't come to our memorial events

        The victims’ family members, first responders and survivors will release a statement Friday calling on Biden to skip 20th-anniversary events in New York and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon unless he releases the documents, which they believe implicate Saudi officials in supporting the acts of terrorism. The group says that as a candidate Biden pledged to be more transparent and release as much information as possible but that his administration has since then ignored their letters and requests.

      • Afghanistan: Dawa Khan Menapal assassinated in Kabul

        The director of Afghanistan's media and information centre has been assassinated by Taliban militants in the capital, Kabul.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Official Secrets Acts Must Not Follow U.S. Espionage Act

        The Courage Foundation is an international support network dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of those who make disclosures in the public interest, including journalists and their sources. We study the effects of national and international laws on disclosure of government and classified documents, and our recommendations regarding proposed reforms to the Official Secrets Acts are based on our experience working with those who have suffered negative and sometimes grave consequences as a result of sincere efforts to inform the public about secret wrongdoing.

    • Environment

      • The Grim Legacy That Edwin Edwards’s Obit Writers Left Out

        Edwin W. Edwards, 93, Louisiana’s only four-time governor, got a statesman’s funeral July 18 at the Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge. The fawning media attention after his death was a far cry from the battering coverage of the fast life that landed Edwards in federal prison, beginning in 2002, for eight years for bribery and extortion involving casino permits. Obituaries and career recaps celebrated a “flamboyant” populist champion of the little man, all but ignoring his staggering legacy of industrial pollution.

      • UK says a failure to act on the climate 'is justified'

        Three months before hosting the UN conference, COP-26, the UK says a failure to act on the climate treaty can be justified.

      • 460+ Groups Demand Biden Pick a Climate Champion for Key Energy Position

        With U.S. West plagued by raging wildfires and scientists warning of what the future holds on a rapidly heating planet, more than 460 advocacy groups on Friday urged President Joe Biden to choose a climate champion for a key federal energy post—and gave him three potential candidates.

        "We need a new FERC commissioner who will center science, justice, and equity, and end the era of dirty gas and other fossil fuels."—466 groups

      • A 10-Point Platform (and Anti-Platform) on Climate Change

        These are all good questions, and we have been asked many more. So rather than reply ad hoc, we decided to assemble our answers in a carefully written but succinct document. That’s what follows.

        We have no illusions that our platform is going to turn the tide of battle in Gulfport, MS, Port Arthur Texas, Klamath County, Oregon, or Washington D.C. But it might be useful for activists, organizers, and anybody else trying to sort through the multiple proposals and counterproposals swirling around the most momentous issue of this or any other time.

      • IPCC to Say Drastic Methane Cuts Necessary to Avert Climate Hell

        Slashing carbon dioxide emissions will not be sufficient to avert climate disaster unless the international community also acts boldly to stop releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is playing an increasingly significant role in intensifying planetary heating and extreme weather.

        "Cutting methane gives us time."—Durwood Zaelke, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development

      • Climate-Linked Drought Leads to First Ever Shutdown of California Hydropower Plant

        California officials blamed the climate crisis-fueled drought and earlier lack of snowmelt in announcing Thursday that, for the first time ever, historic low water levels forced the hydropower plant at Lake Oroville to be taken offline.

        The development comes amid a massive drought gripping the western United States, with entire state of California experiencing some level of drought.

      • Roaming Charges: Welcome to the Pyrocene

        + From Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, as the surveyors look back at the swath of cleared forest removed to demarcate their infamous line…

        + A few words about fire. The temperate forests of North America evolved with fire. Fire has been a shaping force in forest ecosystems since the end of the last ice age. Forests have adapted to fire and been reborn out of it. From Yellowstone to the Oregon Coast Range, the Siskiyous to the Sangre de Cristos, forests have burned and remained forests. Douglas-firs, redwoods, Ponderosa pines, and Giant Sequoias have all evolved and even thrived under natural fire regimes. But not now. Not with these forest-killing infernos that burn for weeks and months, killing everything in in their paths, down to the soil itself. These fires are hotter and more intense. They burn longer, spread faster, travel farther. Of course, the climate has changed and it’s a driving force behind these super-charged fires. It’s hotter and drier, in both winter and summer. The moisture content of forest soils has withered. The understories of forests are dry and crisp. The snow pack has dwindled. The fogs of summer have dissipated. The warming climate has primed the forests to burn. But the forests themselves have changed–or rather–change has been inflicted upon them. The fire-resistant old growth trees–95 percent of them, anyway–have been logged off. The forests themselves have been fractured and fragmented by clearcuts, pipelines, power corridors, monocultural plantations, and a road network that in some places exceeds 10 miles per square mile of land. Fires, most of them, start near roads, many by accident others by design. Some for sick kicks, others for profit. There’s a dark history of arson for profit in America’s forests: for the jobs that come in putting them out and “cleaning” them up. Not just in the firefighting, but the roadbuilding and logging and milling and log exports that come afterwards. Managed forests–that is logged, roaded, grazed–forests burn and they tend to burn long and hot. Under normal circumstances, logging is an accelerate not a deterrent for fire. Under these extreme climate conditions, logging has fueled the infernos that have swept the West for the last decade. Last year was the worst fire season in the West in the last 2,000 years. This year will worse. And so, likely, will be the consecutive years of the next several decades. There’s no immediate solution and all of the proposed political responses will only exacerbate the crisis. Welcome to the Pyrocene.

      • Western States Are at the Forefront of Fighting Hunger
      • Top Scientists to Biden and Congress: 'Go Big on Climate... Do So Now'

        Ahead of next week's highly anticipated United Nations report on the climate emergency, 21 leading U.S. scientists on Friday urged President Joe Biden and federal lawmakers to "go big on climate action and to do so now."

        "Climate change is here and already exerting a fearsome toll on people, critical ecosystems, and our economy."—21 U.S. scientists

      • Researchers Fear Gulf Stream System Could Catastrophically Collapse
      • Energy

        • HSBC Plans to Close Asian Coal Plants to Curb Emissions – While Also Investing €£80 Billion in Fossil Fuels

          Plans by HSBC to buy and close coal plants in Asia have been dubbed a “cynical” attempt to clean up the bank’s image before the COP26 climate conference by “one of the world’s top financiers of fossil fuels”.€ 

          This week HSBC joined a scheme led by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to buy coal-fired power plants in Asia and then close them within 15 years to help cut carbon emissions.€ 

          Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

        • Steven Donziger, Lawyer Who Sued Chevron over Amazon Oil Spills, Marks 2 Years Under House Arrest

          Protests across the United States are calling for the immediate release of environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger, who has been held under house arrest in New York for two years after being targeted by the oil giant Chevron. Donziger sued the oil giant in Ecuador on behalf of 30,000 Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral lands. Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion a decade ago, a major victory for the environment and corporate accountability. But Chevron refused to pay or clean up the land, and instead launched a legal attack targeting Donziger in the United States. A federal judge in July found Donziger guilty of six counts of criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone. In an unusual legal twist, the judge appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. “This is a broader threat to our society,” says Donziger. “We cannot allow in any rule-of-law country, or any country, private prosecutions run by corporations.”

        • Indonesia Begins Construction of SE Asia's Largest Solar Power Plant

          Indonesia is stepping up its efforts to reach clean energy targets with the construction of a 145 megawatt (MW) floating solar power plant, set to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

          The project, with constructions underway in West Java, secured financing from state utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and Masdar of United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

          Solar may be Indonesia's best shot of reaching its short-term clean energy target, an energy expert told the Jakarta Globe. The government aims to have 23 percent of energy coming from new and renewable sources by 2025, but by the end of last year, it was only halfway to the target.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Industrial Agriculture and Brittany's Algae Problem

          The Australian public broadcaster SBS prides itself on its coverage of the Tour, having clocked up 30 years on the job. This year Australian viewers witnessed the eye candy of Brittany’s chateaux, antique churches, quaint villages, manicured rolling fields and pristine waterways, plus sumptuous food offerings – diversions from the carnage facing the riders for which the race organisers assume no responsibility. But no mega pig or poultry factory farms and no green algae.

          Brittany’s green algae problem

        • Vanishing: The Bleaching in My Backyard
        • Drought Flood Fire

          Is the sky (actually) falling?

          According to SPEI Global Drought Monitor, the current drought cycle is worldwide. Only Antarctica is spared. In some corners of the world water reservoirs are dangerously low, big hydroelectric plants sputter, as long-standing verdant forests morph into dried-out firetraps.

      • Overpopulation

        • Recreation at risk as Lake Powell dips to historic low

          Lake Powell is the second-largest reservoir in the United States, right behind Nevada’s Lake Mead, which also stores water from the Colorado River. Both are shrinking faster than expected, a dire concern for a seven-state region that relies on the river to supply water to 40 million people and a $5 billion-a-year agricultural industry.

          They are among several large bodies of water in the U.S. West that have hit record lows this summer, including the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Lake Oroville in California is expected to reach a historic low by late August, with the state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs 50% lower than they should be this time of year.

    • Finance

      • Job Recovery Is Happening Far More Quickly Than It Did After Great Recession
      • Pelosi Opposed Student Loan Cancellation After Billionaire Ally’s Memo
      • Republicans Balk at Infrastructure Adding to Deficit After Opposing Pay-Fors
      • 'Inexcusably Cruel': 7.5 Million Set to Lose Jobless Benefits on Labor Day

        Unless Congress and the Biden administration act quickly, more than seven million people across the United States will soon completely lose unemployment benefits that were approved as part of the federal government's emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic—which is nowhere near over.

        Cutting off benefits by Labor Day will leave 7.5 million workers without critical assistance they need to keep themselves financially stable until they can find a new job."—Andrew Stettner, The Century Foundation

      • GOP 'Millionaires Caucus' Stands to Benefit From Obstructing Tax Hikes on the Rich

        A new analysis by the government watchdog group Accountable.US finds that two-thirds of GOP senators—and more than 40% of House Republicans—are millionaires who stand to personally benefit from obstructing tax hikes on the wealthy proposed under Senate Democrats' reconciliation package, which aims to invest in climate action and the tattered social safety net.

        "For corporations to successfully derail reform for working families, they will depend on the help of their millionaire friends in Congress who themselves stand to benefit from maintaining a broken status quo."—Kyle Herrig, Accountable.US

      • The Inside Story of How We Reported the Secret IRS Files

        In late July, ProPublica hosted a virtual event with reporters and editors to talk about our reporting on the U.S. tax system. Thus far, the series has focused on how the ultrawealthy use legal stratagems not available to average Americans to avoid paying what many regard as their fair share of taxes. The stories that we’re collectively calling The Secret IRS Files have inspired calls for reform in Congress and ignited a national discussion around tax fairness and wealth inequality.

        Here are some excerpts from that event, featuring panelists:

      • Progressives Say Student Loan Moratorium Extension 'Not Enough' in Call for Debt Cancellation

        As the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday that it would extend a moratorium on federal student loan payments through the end of January 2022, Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocacy groups urged the Biden administration to go even further and cancel at least $50,000—or even all—outstanding student loan debt in service of economic and racial justice.

        "We must continue fighting to cancel student debt and make public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free."—Sen. Bernie Sanders

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • MLK's Family and Civil Rights Leaders Call for Voting Rights March on Washington
      • Violetta Grudina Brings Political Dissidence to Murmansk

        In a recent Instagram story posted from a secure Covid hospital in Russia’s Arctic city of Murmansk, Violetta Grudina flashed a weary smile. “This is my happy face,” she told her 1,427 followers, holding up a plastic cup of glistening red currants and gooseberries sent by friends in a care package.

      • Is the Party Over in China?

        Four decades of turbo-charged growth have given way to Xi Jinping thought. Enough is enough. Total party supremacy is what matters now.

        This ushers in the profits, not of doom, but slow growth. Entrepreneurs will feel the party’s wrath unless they heed it in every respect. Consequently, party cadres, with no business experience, have and will have a greater say in corporate decision making.

      • Republicans Are Reaping Millions in Donations With the "Pre-Checked Box"
      • Bootlicking Grifters, Trumpenelft Victims, and the Bourgeois-Democratic God That Failed

        One of the most depressing things I’ve beheld since the elections of the cruel fascistic maniac Donald Trump and the doddering neoliberal caretaker Joe Biden has been the determination of many people I formerly thought be of at least somewhat sound left mind to become useful idiots for the right.

        Look, for just one example among dozens, at Krystal Ball and Glenn Greenwald’s recent conspiratorial, paranoid-style claims that the “deep state” FBI is basically creating a false specter of right-wing terrorism. Relying on reporting from the mainstream New Republic, Ball and Greenwald blame the federal government for the specter of right-wing terrorism, as if the nation is not in fact rife with lethal neofascist white-supremacist terrorists. Consistent with their defense of Trump and other fascists against censorship and prosecution and their mockery of the notion that the fascist January 6th Capitol Riot was all that big a deal, they refuse to grasp the obvious fact that two things can be going on at the same time: that the FBI was recruiting, funding, and planning terror plots and that neofascists are also perfectly sincere, active, and deadly serious in their plans to act.

      • Opinion | Any Delay to Save Democracy Is a Loser's Game

        The right to vote is fundamental to a democracy. Today in America, however, that right is under partisan attack across the country. If it is to be defended, nonpartisan reforms must pass across a partisan divide. The question now is whether Democrats will join together to protect the right to vote from the assault it faces from Republicans at every level of government.

      • As Fascist GOP Threat Grows, Dems Verge on Historic Failure to Secure Voting Rights

        The window for action to protect voting rights from the GOP's nationwide assault is rapidly closing as Democrats—despite controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House—fail to take the steps necessary to pass federal legislation that would expand ballot access, restore the gutted Voting Rights Act of 1965, and end partisan gerrymandering.

        "Tick tock, folks. Kill the filibuster. Pass the For the People Act. End gerrymandering. And do it now. Or we all know what's coming."—Ezra Levin, Indivisible

      • Opinion | No Senate Recess Until Voting Rights Protected

        To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the voting rights, anti-corruption, anti-gerrymandering legislation pending in Congress are greatly exaggerated. This urgently needed legislation is still alive, belying the claims made for months by political pundits and commentators.

      • Unions Are the Heart of Arizona’s Political Change

        In May, Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona signed into law SB 1268—an anti-union bill critics say violates federal law and the Constitution—firing a shot at organized labor as Arizona Republicans seek to hold power ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

      • ‘They spat into the souls of veterans’ Russian authorities launch probe into Moscow play after veterans’ rights groups say it offends them

        Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin has ordered a probe into Moscow’s Sovremennik Theater for staging a play that allegedly “offended veterans.” The play, which is called “First Bread” and stars actress Liya Akhedzhakova, has been the target of complaints from several veterans’ organizations that say it contains “same-sex love propaganda” and “incites ethnic hatred,” in addition to offending veterans. Meduza takes a look at the controversy.

      • ED’S DESK: News Corp Columnist Lectures Others On ‘English’. Wat Coold Posibly Go Rong?

        If you live in a glass house, it’s never a good idea to throw stones. Equally, if you’re a News Corp columnist planning to use sarcasm to lecture other people about ‘The Queen’s English’… well, you’ll do yourself less injury living in a glass house… and throwing stones. Over to Ed’s Desk to explain the Courier-Mail’s latest self-inflicted injury….

      • China Launches Campaign Against 'Fake News' Amid Flood Row With BBC

        It said that while Chinese state media like Xinhua, CGTN, and Radio China International are statutorily compelled to relay CCP propaganda, the UK's public broadcaster practiced "fact-based journalism" and enjoyed editorial freedom.

        The BBC on July 27 called for "immediate action by the Chinese government to stop the attacks on journalists following reporting on the floods in Henan Province."

      • Twitter says it has appointed permanent officials in India required under revised IT rules

        Twitter has appointed permanent employees to three key positions required under the revised Information Technology rules, the US-based microblogging platform told the Delhi High Court on Friday, more than two months after the regulations took effect.

        Twitter said it had appointed a chief compliance officer cum resident grievance officer, and hired a nodal contact person, as required under the rules that govern significant social media intermediaries.

      • Democratic senators increase pressure to declassify 9/11 documents related to Saudi role in attacks

        Menendez and Blumenthal are co-sponsors of the September 11th Transparency Act of 2021. The bill, introduced Thursday, would require the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to oversee a full declassification review of the government’s investigation of the 9/11 attacks.

        Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks are seeking government documents related to Saudi Arabia’s role in aiding or financing any of the 19 individuals associated with the terrorist group al Qaeda and who carried out the devastating attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and the downing in Pennsylvania of a hijacked flight.

        The families are party to a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia alleging Riyadh’s involvement in organizing the attack and are calling out the Department of Justice and the FBI for continuing to block the release of key intelligence related to the Kingdom’s connection under the guise of the “states secret privilege.”

      • Release Details of Saudi Involvement or Stay Away From Memorials, 9/11 Families Tell Biden

        Nearly 1,800 family members, survivors, and first responders who were affected€ by the September 11 attacks are€ intensifying pressure on the federal government to declassify information that they€ believe points to Saudi leaders' involvement in or support for the attacks, with the group calling on President Joe€ Biden to stay away from next month's 20th anniversary memorial events unless he releases the documents first.

        "Through multiple administrations, the Department of Justice and the FBI have actively sought to keep this information secret and prevent the American people from learning the full truth about the 9/11 attacks."—9/11 Families

      • 9/11 families tell Biden not to attend victims memorial events

        “Since the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission in 2004 much investigative evidence has been uncovered implicating Saudi government officials in supporting the attacks,” the letter reads.

        “Through multiple administrations, the Department of Justice and the FBI have actively sought to keep this information secret and prevent the American people from learning the full truth about the 9/11 attacks.”

      • Josh Hawley's Orwellian "Love America Act" and the fascist campaign to rewrite history

        Malignant normality creates a playground for fascism and other forms of right-wing maleficence. The Jim Crow Republicans and other elements of the white right are taking advantage of this broken America to escalate their attacks on free speech, reason, truth, reality, human and civil rights and multiracial democracy by weaponizing the nearly meaningless term "critical race theory." (Yes, the term has a real meaning in academic discourse, but not as bandied about by Republicans in 2021.)

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Killer Disinformation: How Anti-Vaccine Propaganda Hijacked American Political Discourse

        Republican officials and their supporters in rightwing media have bitterly attacked the Biden administration for pressuring social media to crack down on this disinformation. Senator Marsha Blackburn condemned as “shocking” Biden’s effort “to work with Big Tech companies to censor Americans’ free speech,” depicting it as “a violation of the First Amendment,” although her attack would surely amuse Constitutional scholars, since users of social media platforms do not benefit from First Amendment free speech rights, which are applied against government, not private corporations. Former Trump administration advisor Stephen Miller appeared on Fox News’s Hannity to deride the Biden administration and “creeping authoritarianism from the left,” which he claimed “has now reached a full gallop” after the President’s attempts to target vaccine disinformation on social media.

        For those who have been following the numbers, national polling data reveal that the United States is facing an epidemic of ignorance when it comes to mass opposition to vaccination, and this willful ignorance is killing people in mass. As of early August, an estimated 39 percent of adult Americans were not yet fully vaccinated. Of that group, 80 percent say they probably (35 percent) or definitely (45 percent) will not get vaccinated in the future. And as reporting by the summer of 2021 made abundantly clear, virtually all of the patients admitted to hospitals requiring urgent care, and all the deaths due to Covid-19 were among the unvaccinated.

      • NYU Researchers Were Studying Disinformation On Facebook. The Company Cut Them Off

        The researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory launched a tool last year to collect data about the political ads people see on Facebook. Around 16,000 people have installed the browser extension. It enables them to share data with the researchers about which ads the users are shown and why those ads were targeted at them.

        Facebook said on Tuesday that it had disabled the researchers' personal accounts, pages, apps and access to its platform.

      • There’s a better way for Facebook to resolve its fight with NYU researchers

        So let’s talk about Facebook’s decision to disable the pages and personal accounts associated with the Ad Observatory project at New York University, which took data that had been volunteered by willing Facebook users and analyzed it in an effort to better understand the 2020 election and other subjects in the public interest.

        In one corner, you have academic researchers working to understand the platform’s effects on our democracy. In the other, you have a company battered by nearly two decades of privacy scandals and regulatory fines, forever terrified that a Cambridge Analytica sequel is lurking somewhere on the platform.

      • Facebook’s justification for banning third-party researchers ‘inaccurate,’ says FTC

        The research itself was based on a browser plug-in called Ad Observer, which Facebook users can install to collect information about which political ads they’re shown and why. This information is pooled by the researchers, and used to find out more about political advertising. As well as helping track who is funding political campaigns, this work helps track misinformation on Facebook, as political ads aren’t fact-checked. The Ad Observer plug-in is still live and operational, but Facebook banned the pages advertising the project on the social network as well as the personal accounts of researchers involved in the work.

      • FTC rejects Facebook’s justification for cutting off researchers as ‘inaccurate’

        The Federal Trade Commission has dismissed as “inaccurate” Facebook’s claim that it cut off a group of researchers’ access to data to comply with a privacy agreement with the agency, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

        On Tuesday, the social media giant disabled the accounts of researchers at the New York University Ad Observatory, which tracks digital advertisements on the platform, saying in a blog post it did so to comply with a privacy order it struck with the FTC.

      • FTC hits Facebook over 'inaccurate' explanation for banning researchers

        The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) slammed Facebook for sharing an “inaccurate” explanation after it suspended the accounts of researchers who have been critical of the platform.

        The agency’s acting director of Bureau Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine, sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday calling out the company for using what Levine deemed a misleading claim in its explanation.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Roskomnadzor unblocks ‘Genius’ website after it removes banned songs

        The website Genius — one of the world’s largest collections of song lyrics — is once again accessible in Russia. The federal censor, Roskomnadzor (RKN), lifted restrictions on the site after it deleted the lyrics of banned songs.€ 

      • Internet freedom declines further in Thailand

        Internet freedoms in Thailand are “73% restricted”, it said, placing the country among a small group — along with Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates — assigned a score of 8 out of 11, with 11 being North Korea and China. Full details can be seen in the interactive map published on the Comparitech website.

        Thailand’s score declined significantly from 6 out of 10 in 2020, mainly because of increased censorship of adult websites including Pornhub, one of the 20 most-visited sites in the country, Comparitech said.

      • Censorship on the Rise Worldwide

        Since the start of the Covid pandemic, there’s been a rise in instances of government censorship of books around the world. In October 2020, the International Publishers Association released a 106-page report, “Freedom to Publish: Challenges, Violations and Countries of Concern,” that outlined 847 instances of censorship in a host of countries, including France, Iran, Serbia, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. According to the report, in 55% of those instances, the censorship was undertaken by government authorities. The report is downloadable from the IPA website.

      • Opposition leaders accuse Centre of ‘selectively using’ House channels

        Former information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari alleged that the Lok Sabha Television, which airs proceedings of the House, was “censoring” content in a “concerted effort to squelch dissent in the supreme legislative institution”. “Lok Sabha TV is not the property of a particular political party, it must show proceedings in (an) unbiased manner. The selective focusing of the camera is (the) worst form of censorship,” the Congress MP tweeted.

      • ‘A slippery slope’: Liberals’ proposed online harms bill raises serious privacy, free speech concerns, say experts

        It would create a new digital safety commissioner, who would have the authority to send inspectors into workplaces and homes to search for documents, software, and information. It also brings Charter concerns about unreasonable search and seizure violations, critics say.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Fighting Malta’s Rule of the Jungle: The Daphne Caruana Galizia Inquiry

        In such a climate, the State duly failed in recognising “real and immediate risks” including from criminally minded third parties facing Caruana Galizia and also “failed to take measures within the scope of its powers which, with reasonable judgment […] was expected to take to avoid that risk.”

        Caruana Galizia was killed on October 17, 2017 by a car bomb.€  For years she produced exemplary copy, baffling her peers and causing those flutters of irritation that eventually became headaches for the authorities.€  Her efforts involved an incremental unmasking of rotting institutions.€  She unearthed the network of offshore companies ranging from the British Virgin Islands to Panama, linking them to funnelled funds from Malta’s government officials in alleged money laundering efforts.€  She exposed the cash-for-passports scheme in 2013 which was described by members of the European Parliament as “fomenting corruption, importation of organized crime and money laundering.”€  Members of the Maltese government preferred to call this a matter of being “business friendly”.

      • Preliminary Assange Appeal Hearing Scheduled for August 11

        Following that hearing, the High Court will schedule a date to hear full appeal arguments.

      • ACLU calls on DOJ to enact permanent protections for journalists covering protests

        The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to enact permanent protections for journalists and legal observers at protests, including preventing federal agents from arresting or using physical force against these individuals.

        In a letter sent Friday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and shared exclusively with The Hill, the ACLU, along with the National Association of Black Journalists and the NewsGuild-CWA labor union, urged the DOJ to adopt protections for journalists and legal observers at protests within the department’s law enforcement guidelines for First Amendment-protected events.

      • Altan: Journalism is considered to be a "crime" in Turkey

        "The government wants to connect all media companies to itself," Altan stated, emphasizing that journalism is considered to be a "crime" in Turkey. He continued: “Once it is unable to control the media, the government exerts even more pressure on the free press. This is something we see on the ground when there is an incident and the journalists who want to report it are exposed to police violence. Journalists are beaten, detained, their cameras are seized and blocked in every way. The government has issued an order banning journalists from carrying out their duties. Those who want to protest on the ground and in the streets, as well as journalists who want to report them, are barred from doing so. Even worse, journalists are persecuted and tortured.

      • Calls Grow For Release of Wuhan Citizen Journalist on Hunger Strike

        Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, 37, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment by Shanghai's Pudong District People's Court on Dec. 28, 2020.

        One of a group of citizen journalists detained, jailed or "disappeared" after they went to the central city of Wuhan to cover the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhang was sent to see the doctor by prison authorities on July 31 amid rising concerns for her health on hunger strike.

      • A Cycle of War Crimes: Today’s Crisis in Afghanistan Grew Out of 20 Years of U.S. War

        As the United Nations Security Council holds an emergency session to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan, we speak with Polk Award-winning journalist Matthieu Aikins, who is based in Kabul. The Taliban have been seizing territory for months as U.S. troops withdraw from the country, and the group is now on the verge of taking several provincial capitals. “In the 13 years I’ve been working here, I’ve never seen a situation as grim,” says Aikins.

      • Taliban Rampage Puts Afghan Journalists in Crosshairs

        “It’s a major success of the last 20 years,” he said. “That’s because Afghans wanted it and embraced the media. Authoritarian terrorist groups like the Taliban have no time or respect for the media. It’s a dangerous time for Afghan journalists. They are some of the bravest journalists I have met.”

      • UK offers haven to Afghan journalists

        Although the term “UK” has previously been used to mean only British forces, diplomats and officials, it will be widened to include British media organisations.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Appeals Court Says No Sovereign Immunity For Turkish Security Forces Who Attacked DC Protesters

        In 2016, Turkish president Recep Erdogan visited the United States, bringing with him his security team, as most foreign dignitaries do. That much of the visit was normal. What wasn't so normal was his team's decision to attack protesters, critics, and journalists on US soil -- something that really wasn't necessary considering Washington DC's Metro police were already on the scene, keeping protesters away from Erdogan and the Turkish ambassador's residence.

      • 'Long Past Time to Fire DeJoy': Postmaster General's Ex-Company Gets $120 Million Contract

        U.S. lawmakers and ethics advocates on Friday reiterated calls for firing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after The Washington Post revealed that the United States Postal Service awarded a $120 million contract to XPO Logistics, a company he helped run and "with which his family maintains financial ties."

        "Louis DeJoy is a walking conflict of interest," declared Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). "He had no business being named postmaster general, and he has no business continuing to serve."

      • Tech Rights Are Workers' Rights: Doordash Edition

        Doordash maintains that its workers are “independent contractors” who can pick and choose among the delivery jobs available from moment to moment, based on the expected compensation. Given the outsized role that tips play in Dashers’ compensation, you’d think that the company would tell the workers the size of the tip that its customers had offered on each job.

        But that’s not the case. Though customers input their tips when they place their orders, the amount is hidden from drivers until they complete the job - turning each dispatch into a casino game where the dealer knows the payout in advance but the worker only finds out whether they’ve made or lost money on a delivery after it’s done.

        Dashers aren’t stupid - nor are they technologically unsophisticated. Dashers made heavy use of Para, an app that inspected Doordash’s dispatch orders and let drivers preview the tips on offer before they took the job. Para allowed Dashers to act as truly independent agents who were entitled to the same information as the giant corporation that relied on their labor.

      • Meet Zhan Beleniuk Ukraine’s first Black lawmaker won the country’s first gold at the Tokyo Olympics

        Greco-Roman wrestler Zhan Beleniuk won Ukraine’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on August 4. The 30-year-old Kyiv native, who became Ukraine’s first Black lawmaker in 2019 and was subsequently sanctioned by Russia, celebrated his win with a traditional folk dance. Beleniuk took home a silver medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and has won both European and world championships multiple times. However, in conversation with journalists after his win, the wrestler revealed that he almost didn’t compete in Tokyo after sustaining a shoulder injury three weeks before the start of the games.

      • Remembering Richard Trumka: Union Leaders Reflect on Death of AFL-CIO Head & Labor Movement Challenges Ahead

        Richard Trumka, the longtime president of the AFL-CIO and one of the most powerful labor leaders in the United States, has died of a heart attack at the age of 72. Trumka’s death has prompted an outpouring of tributes from fellow labor figures, activists and lawmakers, including President Joe Biden. Trumka was a third-generation coal miner from Pennsylvania who, at the age of 33, became the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America. He continued climbing through the ranks of organized labor for the rest of his life, fighting campaigns against apartheid in South Africa, racism within the labor movement and anti-union rules across the United States. He was elected president of the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest labor federation, in 2009. “We were broken by the news,” says Arlene Holt Baker, former executive vice president for the AFL-CIO and friend of Trumka’s. “He’s the brother in our movement who fought in so many ways for what was right.” We also speak with veteran labor organizer José La Luz, who says Trumka’s main challenge was fighting the erosion of worker power. “What we have witnessed in the past few decades is a massive distribution of wealth from the bottom to the top,” says La Luz. “This remains a fundamental challenge for whoever is going to take up the mantle.”

      • ‘Governments Are Spying on the People Who Bring Us the News’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Cindy Cohn about Pegasus spyware for the July 31, 2021, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • CCO Of Activision Blizzard Busy Blocking Everyone, Including Employees, On Twitter Amid Fair Employment Lawsuit

        Good public relations, when mired in a controversy, isn't always easy, but it does tend to be quite simple. If you have a controversy on your hands, be direct, be honest, be transparent, do not attempt to paper over the controversy with other good works already done, and for the love of god do not give any indication that you're turning a deaf ear to those who are upset over the controversy.

      • Pathologizing Dissent

        That was when dissenting POWs were repatriated – to a country averse to hearing their criticisms of the war. Instead, U.S. media, politicos and military bigwigs pathologized these protesters, implying that they were weak and had been tortured into supporting the North Vietnamese. Or they had been brainwashed – something communists supposedly excelled at. The word “trauma” was bandied about, and the proper place for these protester’s views was deemed the psychiatrist’s office.

        A new book, Dissenting POWs, by Tom Wilber and Jerry Lembcke assails this nonsense that protest is pathological, by detailing how such rubbish littered public discourse since the late 1970s. The book announces its aim: to restore “to proper prominence the record of antiwar voices within the POW population.” A big part of that is removing the mental illness smear, which has enabled interested parties to smother critiques of war, critiques are based on politics and morality, not an emotional debility. The chief interested party is the military, but there’s also the rest of the imperial government and its stenographers in the media.

      • Oleg Navalny handed one-year suspended sentence in the ‘Sanitary Case’

        Russian courts handed down sentences to two more defendants in the so-called “Sanitary Case,” on Friday August 6.

      • Hidden camera captures customs agent demanding a bribe

        The video was not the first indication of corruption on Hernández’s part. The Federation of Tamaulipas Chambers of Commerce and the vice president of the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Concanaco) have accused the same agent of committing acts of corruption against both merchants and tourists.

        Concanaco vice president Julio Almanza Armas said his reports to the General Customs Management Office received no response.

      • Saudi Arabia: fresh persecution following country's presidency of G20 - new report

        Crackdown has seen jump in executions and jailings by notorious anti-terror court

        At least 39 people currently behind bars for their activism

        ‘As soon as the G20 spotlight on Saudi Arabia faded the authorities resumed their ruthless pursuit of people’ - Lynn Maalouf

      • Doctor Hossam Metwally poisoned partner in 'exorcism ritual'

        He believed there were a number of the entities "hiding" inside his partner, the court heard, and that he had to remove them by reciting verses of the Koran and placing holy water and oils on her skin.

        Jurors heard he had performed more than 250 rituals, and made dozens of recordings over a four-year period starting in 2016.

      • Former anaesthetist found guilty of poisoning his partner during exorcism rituals

        The police investigation revealed that Dr Metwally had been supplying and administering a range of anaesthetic drugs to his partner, as well as performing a Muslim exorcism ritual on her, known as Ruqya. His administration of potentially lethal anaesthetic drugs and the use of restraints during the ritual were his own dangerous perversions of this ritual.

      • The 'fanatical' doctor who carried out bizarre exorcism on nurse to free her of evil spirits - and nearly killed her

        The trial started on June 14 but could not be reported until now because of a blanket ban court order postponing publication.

        A second trial had been due to take place but Metwally has this afternoon pleaded guilty to two charges of voyeurism against two female patients, triggering the lifting of the restrictions.

      • Encoded messages from Australian law enforcement

        The police would know that the courts would make suppression orders on reporting in each of these cases. Nonetheless, the suppression orders could not prevent people joining the dots between these cases. The police want us to think about the connection between these cases. Why?

        Well, the suppression orders and trials may take two or three years to be resolved. Australia's next federal election must be held on or before 3 September 2022. People who want to run for public office or vote have a right to know that the Prime Minister and Parliament rapist attended the same church.

        In a case like this, is informing the voters more important than protecting potential jurors from information about the accused?

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The FCC finally made a new broadband map of the US

        It’s also worth noting that the map isn’t based on data that the FCC collected or crowdsourced. FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a news release that the data was provided by the carriers who don’t have a great reputation for having the most accurate picture of where they do and don’t provide broadband (though the FCC is working on getting a better picture of home internet availability, and The Verge and Consumer Reports are working on examining how cost-effective broadband is). The map also doesn’t address the issue with home internet availability, which has been a long-running concern.

    • Monopolies

      • You Can't Be Tough On Big Tech While Killing Off Alternatives To It

        The Biden administration has been talking a big game about being "tough on Big Tech" and Silicon Valley monopolies. But right now they're quietly defending a provision in the must-pass Infrastructure Bill that targets software developers who are building alternatives to the exact Big Tech systems the administration decries.

      • Daniel Hanley: Federal Communications Commission Must Block Verizon’s Acquisition of TracFone

        In late July, Democratic senators sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to investigate the acquisition of TracFone, the largest prepaid carrier, by Verizon, the second-largest wireless phone carrier in the U.S. The FCC should use its broad merger review authority to block it outright.

        With prepaid service, consumers pay for a set amount of cellular usage upfront rather than receive a bill at the end of the month. While such a service may seem like a relic of the 1990s, more than 74 million Americans rely on the service as a low-cost and accessible alternative to traditional cellular plans provided by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • This Captcha Patent Is An All-American Nightmare

            Defenders of the American Dream, LLC (DAD€ ), is sending out its demand letters to websites that use Google’s reCAPTCHA system, accusing them of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,621,578. Google’s reCAPTCHA is just one form of a Captcha test, which describes a wide array of test systems that websites use to verify human users and keep out bots.€ 

            DAD’s letter tells targeted companies that DAD will take an $8,500 payment, but only if “licensing terms are accepted immediately.” The threat escalates from there. If anyone dares to respond that DAD’s patent might be not infringed, or invalid, fees will rise to at least $17,000. If DAD’s patent gets subject to a legal challenge, DAD says they’ll increase their demand to at least $70,000. In the footnotes, DAD advises its targets that “not-for-profit entities are eligible for a discount.”€ 

            The DAD demand letters we have reviewed are nearly identical, with the same fee structure. They mirror the one filed by the company itself (with the fee structure redacted) as part of their trademark application. This demand letter campaign is a perfect example of how the U.S. patent system fails to advance software innovation. Instead, our system enables extortionate behavior like DAD’s exploding fee structure.€ 

      • Copyrights

        • Why Companies Keep Folding to Copyright Pressure, Even If They Shouldn’t

          Here is the deal. Online platforms that host user content are not liable for copyright infringement done by those users so long as they fulfill the obligations laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). One of those obligations is to give rightsholders an unprecedented ability to have speech removed from the internet, on demand, with a simple notice sent to a platform identifying the offending content. Another is that companies must have some policy to terminate the accounts of “repeat infringers.”

          Not content with being able to remove content without a court order, the giant companies that hold the most profitable rights want platforms to do more than the law requires. They do not care that their demands result in other people’s speech being suppressed. Mostly, they want two things: automated filters, and to be paid. In fact, the letter sent to Twitter by those members of Congress asks Twitter to add “content protection technology”—for free—and heavily implies that the just course is for Twitter to enter into expensive licensing agreements with the labels.

          Make no mistake, artists deserve to be paid for their work. However, the complaints that the RIAA and record labels make about platforms are less about what individual artists make, and more about labels’ control. In 2020, according to the RIAA, revenues rose almost 10% to $12.2 billion in the United States. And Twitter, whatever else it is, is not where people go for music.

        • World Kung Fu Governing Body Uses Copyright Law to Hunt Down YouTube Critics

          The world governing body for kung fu is using copyright law to identify a user who allegedly made defamatory remarks about the organization on YouTube. The action by the International Wushu Federation is taking place in Australia's Federal Court where a judge has ordered Google to hand over subscriber information. The action appears connected to a kung fu controversy in Turkey.

        • YouTube Rippers Shut Down in US & UK After Giving Up Legal Fight

          YouTube rippers and have closed their doors to visitors from the US and UK. The services are "permanently unavailable" according to a message posted on the sites. This drastic decision follows shortly after their operator backed out of the legal battle against several record labels, which now hope to get a default judgment in US court.

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