Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 25/8/2021: Krita 4.4.8 and QEMU 6.1 Released

  • Leftovers

    • Drowning Creek

      Past the strip malls and the power plants, out of the holler, past Gun Bottom Road and Brassfield and before Red Lick Creek, there’s a stream called Drowning Creek where I saw the prettiest bird I’d seen all year, the Belted Kingfisher, crested in its Aegean blue plumage perched not on a high nag but on a transmission wire, eyeing the creek for crayfish, tadpoles, and minnows. We were driving fast back home and already our minds were pulled taut like a high black wire latched to a utility pole. I wanted to stop, stop the car to take a closer look at the solitary stocky water bird with its blue crown and its blue chest and its uncommonness. But already we were a blur and miles beyond the flying fisher by the time I had realized what I’d witnessed. People were nothing to that bird, hovering over the creek. I was nothing to that bird that wasn’t concerned with history’s bloody battles or why this creek was called Drowning Creek, a name I love though it gives me shivers, because it sounds like an order, a place where one goes to drown. The bird doesn’t call the creek that name. The bird doesn’t call it anything. I’m almost certain, though I am certain of nothing. There is a solitude in this world I cannot pierce. I would die for it.

    • Political Consultant Misrepresents Nearly Everything In Arguing That The Gov't Should Make Google/Facebook Pay News Orgs

      If you don't know who Doug Schoen is, he's a quintessential political/lobbying insider, who has worked for the Clintons and more recently for Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign. It might surprise some people to find that he also was a regular on Fox News... before switching to propaganda purveyor Newsmax, where he was hired earlier this year as an "analyst." In previous lives he worked for political trickster Dick Morris, and was a partner with another political dirty trickster, Mark Penn, in a political consulting firm. Penn, famously, has argued that companies should attack more successful companies through political dirty tricks, and it appears that Schoen is following in those footsteps.

    • Iron Cage

      Like the slapstick routines of Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges, Adam Curtis’s films revolve around a shtick. His métier is one of uncanny juxtapositions in sight and sound, united by droll narration and associative leaps—from topics as disparate as prescription drug abuse by America’s suburban housewives to the machinations of Saudi oil barons—to illustrate how they are all part of a larger scheme in the way the world is run. Curtis has developed this style not only because of the way it casts a spell over the viewer (the sound of his posh English accent, punctuated by images of street protest and ambient music, is a strange pleasure all its own) but because it allows him to tackle an issue that might otherwise seem invisible: how power works in society. Each of Curtis’s inquiries into power—whether he’s exploring the connected histories of public relations and psychiatry, the shared influences of neoconservatism and radical Islam, or the neo-Darwinist and libertarian roots of Silicon Valley—is framed as a journalistic endeavor, but his films are also essays that go where conventional documentary journalism cannot. His approach is crafted to engage with an idea that journalistic exposés could only dimly illuminate: the ways that modernity has created a populace of “little monsters” living lives of false freedom.

    • Another Lively Debate

      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!

    • Tokyo Hosts a Dangerous Paralympics in the Shadow of Covid

      The Tokyo Paralympics are set to kick off on August 24 under a merciless cloud of Covid-19. Many regions in Japan are experiencing record Covid infections, driven by the Delta variant. The health care system is being stretched to its limits. As with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that preceded them, the Paralympics will transpire under a State of Emergency, which the Japanese government recently extended through September 12 in numerous prefectures, including Tokyo. Despite much-vaunted strictures in the so-called “Olympic bubble,” more than 500 people associated with the Games have contracted the coronavirus.

    • Science

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • LPE zero-day flaw in Razer Synapse allows attackers to take over Windows PCs

          A zero-day vulnerability in Razer Synapse could allow threat actors to gain Windows admin privileges by plugging in a Razer mouse or keyboard.

        • Windows 10 Admin Rights Gobbled by Razer Devices

          So much for Windows 10’s security: A zero-day in the device installer software grants admin rights just by plugging in a mouse or other compatible device. UPDATE: Microsoft is investigating.

        • A guide to platform fees

          Apps are just one example of how online platforms for small businesses and independent creators have shifted the world we live and work in. Membership platforms, like Patreon, allow creatives to charge monthly payments in exchange for new videos, comics, and essays. Video services like Twitch and YouTube allow creators to monetize their time through advertising revenue. And marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon allow people to sell an assortment of products directly to customers around the world.

          The cut each platform takes varies significantly: Apple notoriously takes 30 percent of many digital in-app purchases; Twitch takes a 50 percent cut of subscription fees and a cut of advertising; eBay asks people to buy space and then pay a fee. Knowing just how much each platform takes is crucial to figuring out what’s best for your business, or for understanding how the businesses you’re shopping from make money. Here are the various fees each platform takes, divided into four categories: app stores, creator platforms (including memberships, video services, and more), digital marketplaces, and games marketplaces.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Frontex pays another €84 million for aerial surveillance

              The border agency spends one-sixth of its budget on flights at the EU’s external borders. With the service, the Frontex director makes himself independent of the governments of the member states. A contract for helicopter operations does not materialise for the time being. In the meantime, however, Libya has ordered helicopters from Airbus.

            • US Army Now Using Clearview's Unproven Tech To Investigate Crimes

              We can add another government agency to the list of entities that have been suckered in by Clearview's highly questionable sales pitches about its unproven tech: the US Army. [Paywall ahead, but alternatives abound.]

    • Defence/Aggression

      • John Pilger: Afghanistan, The Great Game of Smashing Countries

        As a tsunami of crocodile tears engulfs Western politicians, history is suppressed. More than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the United States, Britain and their “allies” destroyed.

      • The War on Terror Is Only Evolving

        It ended in chaos and disaster. Kabul has fallen and Joe Biden is being blamed (by congressional Republicans in particular) for America’s now almost-20-year disaster in Afghanistan. But is the War on Terror itself over? Apparently not.

      • Opinion | Media Suddenly Cares About Afghan Women Again After US Departure
      • A Nation of Fools?

        I’ve had enough with these fools, war-mongers, widow makers, Earth destroyers, hoarders and oppressors. Where in this world is the person of peace, the patriot who loves their country enough to not take it down the path of lost lives, squandered wealth, wasted time, falling empires and a dying planet?

        So who in this country will wear the patriots ribbon and those shining medals of honor and freedom? Who marches through the streets in the homecoming parade, who kisses the lover to the cheering sounds of a grateful public? Who is the hero, the pride of the people? Who loved their country, which of us had any good sense at all? Do we celebrate, promote and reward the war criminals and Earth destroyers or do we free and reward the political prisoners, truth tellers and Earth protectors?

      • Opinion | Is a Cold War With China Still Possible in This Overheating World?

        In recent months, Washington has had a lot to say about China's ever-expanding air, naval, and missile power. But when Pentagon officials address the topic, they generally speak less about that country's current capabilities, which remain vastly inferior to those of the U.S., than the world they foresee in the 2030s and 2040s, when Beijing is expected to have acquired far more sophisticated weaponry.

      • The Transformation of Afghanistan

        Fanatics terrorized the Afghan people. For twenty years we fought there in a war. So what’s it going to be like when we’ve finished? Well, pretty much just like it was before.

      • Mission Accomplished

        It took America 15 years to airlift its whipped, arrogant ass out of Vietnam; in Afghanistan it took 20.€  All the young men and women our diseased, criminal “leaders” doomed to be killed, mangled, or commit suicide in or after those fake, bullshit “wars” were, in effect, shit-canned by them like rotten meat.€  Trillions€ that should have educated, inspired, and nurtured them were wasted and stolen by our rabid, raping Capitalist War Machine.

        After 20 years of blustering, pious deception, colluded in by the hillbilly ninnies laughingly referred to as our government, led by four despicable Presidents—as contemptible a set of moral and spiritual monsters as could be dredged up from the foetid latrines of history—this hideous charade can be seen for what it was: a brazen scam to engorge our Death Merchants with blood money.

      • America's Merchants of Death: Then and Now
      • The Only Hero of the Duterte Era? An Interview With Philippine Senator Leila de Lima

        Framed on false charges of being at the center of the illegal drug trade and mercilessly flayed by President Rodrigo Duterte as an “immoral woman,” de Lima became Public Enemy No. 1 for telling the Filipino leader that she would not rest until she secured his conviction and imprisonment for the extra-judicial execution of over 20,000 people in his bloody “war on drugs.”

        When decades from now, a later generation of Filipinos look back on the Duterte presidency and ask themselves how on earth so many of their forebears could elect a murderer and applaud him as he went about his bloody business for six years, it is likely that the only person they will regard as a hero in this dark era is Leila de Lima.

      • What Will the Taliban Do? It’s Up to Us.

        The U.S. is out, but what the Biden Administration and its Western allies do in the weeks and months ahead will have a big influence on whether the Central Asian country reverts to the insular medieval barbarism of the 1990s or modernizes in order to conform to major international norms.

        The Taliban is far from monolithic. They have common values: adherence to sharia law, resistance to foreign interference, the traditional Pashtun tribal code of pashtunwali. How those general values manifest into specific policies and laws will be subject to interpretation through the movement’s fluid internal politics.

      • Meet the CC Summit Presenter: Arturo Sánchez Pineda

        Based in: Geneva, Switzerland

      • Out of Afghanistan, Better Late Than Never

        Afghan women report in polls that almost 90% of them are abused. Their plight may be even worse under the Taliban, but the last time the US pretended to be concerned was 2001. As cynical as the use of women for war and profiteering is, the goal of women’s rights is a vital one. Sustained equality for women has only been achieved in peace time. If that’s not the plan, then there is no plan.

        Yes, this was Joe’s sloppiest pullout since Hunter. But we’ve been hearing that it’s the wrong time to leave Afghanistan for 20 years. And yes, there was a time, early in the Bush-era war, when the Taliban was weak and leaving Afghanistan would have been an even better idea. But Biden was right when he said that the rabid rise of the Taliban proved that the American presence in Afghanistan was doing nothing for anybody.

      • Afghanistan’s Armageddon 20 Years After 9/11 Offers Foreign Policy Choices: Groundhog Day or Imperial Reckoning?

        As the Afghanistan Armageddon unravels, this humiliating, devastating defeat for the US and its allies and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 (and who knows what may take place to mark that day?), plus the June 29 death of war monger extraordinaire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are wakeup calls. They offer Americans the chance to reflect upon, reconsider and rethink Washington’s disastrous, interventionist foreign policy. After 20 years of war, the retreat of US forces from the Afghan Theater – an ass-kicking of Biblical proportions – is a reminder of the limits of American power and overreach.

        The US foreign policy establishment has again been exposed for its extraordinary imbecility, incompetence and an arrogance of Greek tragedy dimensions. As Kabul goes the way of Saigon 1975 and the September 11th sneak attack is commemorated, along with our ongoing racial reckoning, the USA also has a rare golden opportunity for an Imperial Reckoning, a Perestroika in how America – the global busybody – interacts with the rest of the world.

      • The War in Afghanistan is Dead. Long Live the War on Terror!

        What does this mean? On one level, it sounds like we’ll keep killing people with drones. That, after all, seems to be the real-life application of “over-the-horizon capability” in the other places that Biden mentioned — Somalia, Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula.

        More broadly, however, Biden is assuring us that the “War on Terror” will continue. This has serious implications not only for American foreign policy, but also our society, politics, and legal system.

      • Eight Key Points on America’s Defeat in Afghanistan

        Still, with all due respect to the photographic parallels with Saigon, the United States’ tail-between-its-legs flight from Afghanistan is different from the previous one in Vietnam. A leftist anti-imperialist (and all serious leftists are anti-imperialists) could welcome the fall of Saigon with little in the way of mixed feelings. The Vietnamese National Liberation Front was a heroic and revolutionary organization fighting a legitimate nationalist struggle against a ruthless Superpower that killed 3 to 5 million Southeast Asians between 1962 and 1975. The defeat of history’s most lethal empire by a small peasant nation’s remarkable resistance movement was one of the most celebration-worthy events of all time. The same goes for the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

        The return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan is different. No leftist worth their claim of commitment to humanistic, egalitarian, and revolutionary ideals like socialism and communism would ever root for reactionary Islamic jihadists who brutally oppress women while slaughtering ordinary civilians and imposing a backwards, fundamentalist, and neo-feudal theology justifying that oppression and slaughter.

      • Afghanistan: The Cause and Effect of 9/11

        You see them pleading, help me!, take me with you to a better place. Kids we’ve regaled with ironical Che tee shirts and stonewashed Levi jeans, some of them the offspring of soldiers mixing with the local women, who the GIs promised to set free with equality and Western style lovin’. Some of them will return to America with the soldiers, make it out alive with tales of Tali terror, bless their lucky stars and stripes. Local channels will air stories of their plight and desperation and of American heroism.€  The Last Desperate Hours. Another Noble Cause. Their children will be given preferential tick boxes when they apply to colleges (you know, like Elizabeth Warren, from the Cherokee nation). We won’t begrudge, publicly.

        In communities across America, veterans of various wars fought in the last few decades will come together to talk and bring along their ‘trophy’ wives — frauleins, girls from Krakow, girls rescued from melancholy Korea, girls raised from the dust of Somalia, girls from basketcase Bosnia, mail order girls from Russia (I just threw that in), burka-less girls from Afghanistan, looking like peace pipe squaws from the Indian Wars. None of this is a reflection on the soldiers or the girls. We bring our Who We Are with us to foreign lands, wed to our Why We Fight — our bravado (even from punks escaping dead end lives), our materialism (uniforms to die for), our color TVs (to watch our timeless culture preen), our Idealism (lefty ‘progressive’ talk, gagged and tied up, but still handsome, like Warren Beatty in Bulworth), and, yes, the charm of our expressive freedoms.

      • Great Power Politics After Afghanistan

        Commentators from around the world agree that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the accompanying collapse of the US-backed Afghan government will have long-term strategic consequences. So far, most observers have focused their attention on the rapidity of that government’s downfall and the resulting chaos in Kabul, where thousands of American citizens and former Afghan employees of the United States are struggling to find safe passage out of the country. Many assert that the Biden administration’s failure to anticipate the chaos and plan for an orderly evacuation process has greatly diminished US power and prestige. But these are early days, and such early assessments fail to encompass all potential consequences of America’s Afghan departure. Indeed, a more balanced appraisal might identify significant gains as well as losses in the US pullout.

      • Afghanistan Women, Oppressed Future
      • 63% of US Veterans Support Afghanistan Withdrawal: Poll

        Survey results released Tuesday show that nearly two-thirds of U.S. veterans support the ongoing withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, a finding that came as President Joe Biden reportedly decided to stick with the August 31 exit deadline.

        "Veterans strongly believe President Biden is right—it is time to go."

      • Defying War Hawks, Biden Plans to Stick With Afghan Exit Deadline

        President Joe Biden reportedly intends to stick with his self-imposed August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, rejecting calls for an extension from hawkish GOP lawmakers, members of his own party, and European allies.

        During a Tuesday call, according to the Wall Street Journal, Biden told the leaders of G7 nations that the U.S. is on track to meet the withdrawal deadline and that the Pentagon is developing contingency plans in the case of any delay.

      • Human Rights Watch: Israel Bombing of Gaza High-Rises Are Possible 'War Crimes'

        Human Rights Watch said Monday that the Israeli military's May bombings that leveled four high-rise buildings in Gaza were "apparently unlawful" and possibly amount to war crimes.

        The organization—which noted that those strikes represented "just a small fraction of the Israeli military's attacks in Gaza" in the May 10 to May 21 fighting—cited in its new analysis a lack of any evidence to back up Israeli authorities' claims that the buildings were being used by Hamas for military purposes The report also noted the disproportionate harm to civilian property caused by the Israeli attacks.

      • Opinion | Five Ways the US Created and Prolonged the Afghan Crisis

        Media coverage of the Taliban takeover of Kabul would lead most Americans to believe that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began after 9/11, with the invasion launched to topple the previous Taliban government. But Afghanistan has been at war continuously for forty-two years, and the Pentagon has been involved every step of the way, under both Republican and Democratic administrations.€ 

      • School Covid mask rules have sparked parent-teacher violence. We can't ignore it.

        A decadeslong drumbeat of negativity about schools from politicians and pundits has led Americans to have a low opinion of them nationally. Even so, the majority of parents have regarded their children’s own schools and teachers highly. This is because they’ve been able to meet and talk with their teachers, hear from their children about them and understand them as professionals and partners invested in their children’s growth — as well as neighbors and human beings. They’ve been able to mostly separate their personal experiences from the national conversations, a distinction in danger of erasure.

      • Why QAnon followers are like opioid addicts, and why that matters

        Why would such outlandish conspiracy theories hold sway over these parents and others around the country? One way to comprehend the incomprehensible is to recognize the parallels between QAnon and addictive drugs like opioids — which are also manipulated by malicious actors to trap vulnerable people in increasingly unhealthy spirals that ultimately result in the destruction of families and even death. Recognizing these similarities is helpful in both accurately diagnosing the QAnon phenomenon and trying to treat it.

      • The Taliban Want You to Keep Your Phone On

        What is concerning is that as effective as the Taliban’s social media strategy has been, it is still awfully clumsy. Remember, they started from zero. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they banned the use of the internet, not to mention television and music. Since then, like savvy military strategists, they adapted to a new terrain. The media environment in Afghanistan has evolved since the days when the country had a single radio station: Now it has over 100 radio stations and dozens of television stations, 70 percent of people have access to a cellphone, and about a third of the population of 38 million is on social media. The Taliban understand that the information war is modern warfare. They are not trying to build a new platform; they’re trying to integrate into and dominate the existing landscape.

      • CIA head meets Taliban leader as fears for Afghanistan grow

        In the wake of their stunning takeover of Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have promised to restore security and tried to project an image of moderation, but many Afghans are skeptical. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet added to those concerns Tuesday, warning she had credible reports of “summary executions” and restrictions on women in areas under Taliban control. She urged the Human Rights Council to take “bold and vigorous action” to monitor the rights situation.

      • UN warns of summary executions and restrictions on women in Taliban-controlled areas

        The United Nations human rights chief has warned that she has credible reports of “summary executions” and restrictions on women in areas under Taliban control in Afghanistan, fuelling fears of what their rule might hold a week before United States forces are set to withdraw.

        Michelle Bachelet urged the Human Rights Council to take “bold and vigorous action” to monitor the rights situation in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, as she sought to ensure that international attention on the country does not wane.

      • Security Council Press Statement on ISIL/Da’esh

        The members of the Security Council noted with deep concern that ISIL (Da’esh) and other terrorist groups continue to exploit, both online and offline, the disruption, grievances and development setbacks linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected in the thirteenth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security.

    • Environment

      • How an Irish weather station decided D-Day

        Climate change and fickle elements can save nations or sink them. Irish weather was crucial to the Allies in June 1944.

      • We Looked for Some of the Hottest Places in California. We Found Climate Injustice in a Nutshell.

        The first time ProPublica traveled to Thermal, California, in June 2020, the temperature happened to be 114 degrees, and we felt stupefied, literally unable to think. Everyplace, here in the eastern Coachella Valley, looked gorgeous …€ for 20 minutes at dusk. Nothing was beautiful at midday. The difference between the watered and unwatered fields was disorienting. Standing in the sun among green growing things and standing alone on the gray parched earth felt like the difference between hope and despondence, even terror; between vibrancy and doom.

        Why Thermal?

      • The Great Fear

        We are running out of time

        Time is not with us. I see it daily. I see it in the enormous number of cars and trucks in the street adding a ceaseless stream of greenhouse gases reaching the heavens every day; I see it in the airplanes flying in the dark of night; I see it in the spraying of petrochemical poisons over the nation’s food; I see it over the continuing slaughter of billions of animals for meat.

      • Climate Chaos Fueled Death and Destruction of Tennessee Floods: Experts

        The extensive damage€ and nearly two dozen deaths caused€ by massive flooding in Tennessee over the weekend took some residents€ by surprise,€ but as one climate scientist said on Tuesday, such flash flooding is "exactly the type of event we expect to see with increasing frequency in a warming climate."

        Dr. Gary Lackmann, a professor of atmospheric science at North Carolina State University, was among the climate experts who determined in the days after the flooding that the disaster was tied to the human-caused climate emergency and the heating of the planet.

      • Central Banks Accused of 'Dawdling' on Climate as World Burns

        Despite needing to "play a critical role in catalyzing the rapid shift of financial flows away from oil, fossil gas, and coal," 12 major central banks "have instead tinkered at the edges," according to a report released Tuesday.

        "While some central bank executives claim that tackling the climate crisis is beyond their mandates, at the same time they have positively reinforced fossil fuel financing, and even directly financed fossil fuel production."—Report

      • Opinion | The Dirty Dozen Central Banks Are Still Fuelling Climate Chaos as the World Burns

        Due to our climate emergency, we are leaving an increasingly hostile climate to our children and grand-children.

      • Energy

        • BP Will Not Sponsor Channel 4’s Paralympics Coverage After Backlash

          Oil and gas giant BP will not sponsor Channel 4’s primetime coverage of the Paralympic Games, despite initially sharing sponsorship rights equally with Toyota, according to a report released today. The Paralympic Games begin today in Tokyo and run through September 5.

          The news was welcomed by campaigners as a “sign that sport is starting to step away from its embrace of high-carbon brands and refusing to be a billboard to advertise companies that are fuelling the climate emergency.”

          Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

        • Oil Firm Under Investigation for Corruption is Contractor on Cambo North Sea Project

          A firm being investigated on corruption charges and founded by a major Tory donor is a contractor on the proposed Cambo oilfield in the North Sea.€ 

          Petrofac, whose co-founder Ayman Asfari has along with his wife donated almost €£900,000 to the Conservative Party, is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for allegedly paying million-pound bribes to secure contracts in nine different countries.

          Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Court Ruling on US Border Militarization Called 'Win for Wildlife'

          Social and environmental justice advocates welcomed a federal judge's ruling Monday that two U.S. agencies broke the law by not conducting an analysis of potential ecological harms associated with increased militarization along the U.S.-Mexico border.

          Monday's ruling (pdf) found that officials at both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to prepare an updated and detailed environmental impact statement for the U.S.-Mexico border enforcement program.

      • Overpopulation

        • U.N. Warns of “Humanitarian Catastrophe” in Afghanistan Amid Political Turmoil, Economic Crisis & Drought

          The United Nations warns Afghanistan is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, as the country faces political upheaval, a worsening economic crisis and a devastating drought. Humanitarian groups are vowing to keep working in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, but they are facing new hurdles, from working under Taliban rule to concerns about the international community providing much needed foreign aid to restrictions at the Kabul airport. “Today in Afghanistan, we’re seeing a potential humanitarian catastrophe,” says Isabelle Moussard Carlsen, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan. “Half of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.”

    • Finance

      • Sanders Vows to Tax Billionaires Who Grew 62% Richer During Pandemic

        The collective fortune of billionaires in the United States has ballooned€ by nearly two-thirds during the coronavirus pandemic, and almost none of the $1.8 trillion€ gained by a few hundred of the nation's richest people over the past 17 months will be taxed€ unless Congress enacts progressive tax reforms.

        That's€ according to an analysis released Tuesday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), which found€ the number of billionaires in the U.S. grew from 614 on March 18, 2020 to 708 as of last week. The nation's billionaires have seen€ their combined wealth skyrocket€ by nearly 62% over the past year and a half, from just under $3 trillion to almost $4.8 trillion.

      • Centrists Lose Bid to Sabotage Reconciliation as House Advances $3.5T Bill
      • Cori Bush Blasts Centrists, Saying “Budget Resolution Isn’t a Political Pawn”
      • Warehousing Wealth in Donor-Advised Funds
      • Anger Mounts at Handful of Right-Wing Dems Still Threatening to Kill $3.5 Trillion Plan

        Frustration with a small group of conservative House Democrats boiled over Monday as the party failed to reach an agreement to pass a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, a step that would pave the way for major investments in climate action, Medicare expansion, and other key priorities.

        Led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), several right-wing Democrats are threatening to tank the budget resolution unless the House first passes a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package. Progressive lawmakers and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have rejected the group's proposed approach, fearing that conservative Democrats would be free to vote against the budget measure if it's decoupled from the bipartisan bill.

      • Pelosi Runs Over Right-Wing Dems as House Approves $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint

        In a party-line vote Tuesday afternoon that followed contentious negotiations, U.S. House Democrats adopted a resolution to advance a key voting rights bill, bipartisan infrastructure legislation, and a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint to invest in climate action, Medicare expansion, child care, free community college, and other progressive priorities.

        The resolution (pdf) set up final votes for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). It also crucially includes formal approval of the Senate-approved budget blueprint that some Democrats are calling the "Build Back Better Plan," enabling Democrats to begin working on that package.

      • OnlyFans Content Creators Are the Latest Victims of Financial Censorship

        OnlyFans is a subscription site that allows artists, performers and other content creators to monetize their creative works—and it has become a go-to platform for independent creators of adult content. The ban on sexually explicit content has been met by an outcry from many creators who have used the platform to safely earn an income in the adult industry.

        This is just the latest example of censorship by financial intermediaries. Intermediaries have cut off access to financial services for independent booksellers, social networks, adult video websites, and whistleblower websites, regardless of whether those targeted were trading in First Amendment-protected speech. By cutting off these critical services, financial intermediaries force businesses to adhere to their moral and political standards.€ € 

        It is not surprising that, faced with the choice of losing access to financial services or banning explicit content, OnlyFans would choose its payment processors over its users. For many businesses, losing access to financial services seriously disrupts operations and may have existential consequences.€ 

      • What exactly is OnlyFans banning?

        OnlyFans, a British company that took off during the pandemic, amassed 130 million users, and generated $2 billion in sales in 2020, has not yet explained why it decided to ditch porn in detail, instead blaming it on ambiguous pressure from financial firms. An OnlyFans spokesperson told Quartz the move was made “to comply with the requests of our banking partners and payout providers.”

      • OnlyFans CEO on why it banned adult content: ‘the short answer is banks’

        Stokely named three major banks that refused service because of “reputational risk” associated with the UK-based OnlyFans’ sexual material: Bank of New York Mellon, Metro Bank, an JPMorgan Chase. He said BNY Mellon specifically had “flagged and rejected” every wire transaction involving OnlyFans, threatening its ability to pay creators.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Centrists Who Obstruct the Budget May “Sabotage” Democrats’ Agenda

        Representative Ro Khanna would have written an even bolder congressional budget, but the Californian is satisfied that progressives have put their imprint on the document.

      • Committee Seeks Jan. 6 Phone Records of Lawmakers With Possible Ties to Attack
      • The Centrist Who Taught the Left

        Toward the end of the 2020 presidential primary, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were vying for control of the progressive lane to the Democratic nomination, and the tensions between their two camps were growing. When Warren dropped out on March 5, she declined to endorse her fellow senator. Adam Jentleson, a longtime hand in Democratic circles who was close to Warren, explained to The New York Times the key difference between the candidates: “She values the Democratic Party. She thinks it has flaws but is overall a force for good.”1

      • Making Rahm Emanuel Ambassador to Japan Would Be a Sick Joke

        If it weren’t such an insult, the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be this country’s ambassador to Japan would seem like a perverse backroom joke. Send the foul-mouthed, sharp-elbowed, impudent prima donna to ruffle the feathers of the proper and mannered Japanese officialdom. Bets will soon be taken on how long it takes Rahm, for whom “fucking” serves as adjective, adverb, verb, and noun, to issue his first formal apology.

      • Will Senate Democrats Stoop to Confirming Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador?

        The White House€ described€ Emanuel as having “a distinguished career in public service,” but several progressive Democrats in Congress quickly went on the attack. “This is a travesty,”€ Rep. Mondaire Jones€ tweeted. “Senators of good conscience must not vote to confirm him.”€ Another African-American representative,€ Cori Bush,€ said€ that Emanuel “must be disqualified from ever holding an appointed position in any administration. Call your Senator and urge them to vote NO.”

        The response from Rep. Rashida Tlaib was pointed: “If you believe Black lives indeed matter, then the Senate must reject his appointment immediately.” Tlaib accompanied€ her tweet€ with a link to an€ article€ that The Nation magazine published in the fall of 2018, when Emanuel was nearing the end of his eight years as Chicago’s mayor, with this sum-up: “The outgoing mayor’s legacy will be defined by austerity, privatization, displacement, gun violence, and police brutality.”

      • Ex-Weather Underground Member David Gilbert Is Granted Clemency by Cuomo
      • David Gilbert, Ex-Weather Underground Member, Granted Clemency by Cuomo. Will Parole Board Free Him?

        Outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo used his final hours in office to grant clemency to six men, including former Weather Underground member David Gilbert, who was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison for his role in a 1981 robbery of an armored truck that left a security guard and two police officers dead. Gilbert, who is 76 years old and has been incarcerated for four decades, will now be able to apply for parole. “Now it’s a matter of hoping that the parole board will do the right thing,” says Steve Zeidman, Gilbert’s lawyer, who also represents four of the other men granted clemency. “They recognize the harm, the trauma and the grief that their actions caused. … They have done everything a human being can do to repair and atone while inside.” Zeidman and other advocates are still pushing for the release of hundreds of others, saying “the list is eternal.”

      • Voting Rights Groups Launch Civil Disobedience Campaign at the White House Urging End to Filibuster

        With the Democratic-led House of Representatives expected to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, pressure is growing on the Biden administration and Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster, without which new voting rights legislation and other Democratic priorities have no hope of passing the Senate. We speak with Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way and former president of the NAACP, as voting rights groups protest in front of the White House. Jealous says the action is intended to “up the pressure on Biden” to call on the Senate to get rid of the filibuster. “The filibuster was the insulator of Jim Crow. It is an accident of legislative history. It’s not part of the Constitution in any way,” Jealous says.

      • Opinion | I'm a Senior and I'm Voting No on the California Recall Election

        I am 72 years of age. I have lived in California most of my life. And I am urging every California senior to vote NO on the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom. The following will tell the reader why I am voting no on the recall. We will also review who is behind it.

      • 'Incredible News' as NC Court Restores Voting Rights to 55,000 Formerly Incarcerated People

        Voting rights advocates in North Carolina on Tuesday applauded a ruling€ by a panel of three state Superior Court judges for taking€ "the first step" in restoring justice to tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated people convicted of felonies in the state.€ 

        "If the North Carolina courts are expanding voting rights by removing felony disenfranchisement, I can't imagine they will allow a Republican gerrymander."—Michael McDonald, University of Florida

      • Evaluating two years of digital-ready legislation in Denmark

        Since 2018 it has been required that new legislation presented before the Danish parliament is digital-ready. This means shaping the rules in compliance with principles encouraging the use of data, digital solutions and new technologies, while emphasizing trust and transparency. Moreover, an impact assessment on the digital consequences of implementation has to accompany every new legislative draft. All together the aim is to ensure an efficient and coherent digital public administration.

      • Experts: False claims on voting machines obscure real flaws

        As an election security researcher, it’s been frustrating to watch the proliferation of misinformation, said Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science and law at Georgetown University. For years, he said, concerns raised by election security experts were dismissed as unimportant.

        “All of a sudden, people are going the other way, saying the existence of a flaw not only is something that should be fixed, it means the election was actually stolen,” he said. “That’s not true either.”

        David Cross is an attorney for plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit filed by proponents of hand-marked paper ballots. His clients’ concerns about Georgia’s electronic voting machines long preceded the 2020 election, but he says they’re now grappling with how to expose vulnerabilities and advocate for changes without fueling conspiracy theories.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Appeals Court Shuts Down Kansas' 30-Year-Old Ag Gag Law

        Another "ag gag" law has been shown the door by the courts. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared Kansas' "Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act" (whew!) nothing more than a bunch of First Amendment violations trying to present themselves as a legitimate restriction on access to agricultural facilities. (via Courthouse News Service)

      • Ag-Gag Laws Suppressing Whistleblowers Experience Defeat As Iowa Expands Law To Target Video Recording

        This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter, a project of Shadowproof. Become a paid subscriber and help us expand our coverage of whistleblower stories.

        Laws intended to suppress journalism, whistleblowing, and speech on the food and agriculture industry continue to experience defeats in the United States court system.Known as “ag-gag” laws, the Tenth Circuit Court Of Appeals ruled [PDF] against the ag-gag law in Kansas, which became the first state to pass such a law in 1990.The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled [PDF] on August 9 that a coalition of organizations proved they could be targeted by the ag-gag law in Arkansas and may proceed with their lawsuit. It also ruled [PDF] on August 10 that Iowa’s 2012 ag-gag law was partly unconstitutional.In all three states, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was one of the plaintiffs challenging the manner in which these laws threaten freedom of speech under the First Amendment.“Kansas has hindered the ability of whistleblowers to expose inhumane conditions associated with factory farms for more than three decades while infringing on First Amendment rights,” ALDF executive director Stephen Wells€ declared. “The Tenth Circuit’s decision is a victory for animals throughout the state, who are forced into industrial animal agriculture and suffer in secret behind closed doors.”According to ALDF, “Kansas is a major agricultural producer with the third-most cows of any state, and until being struck down, its ag-gag law had successfully prevented whistleblowers from investigating the conditions that millions of pigs, cows, and chickens endure.”Tip Jar

      • [Old] Nick Kristof and the Holy War on Pornhub

        That’s the same reason people might want to support a campaign like Traffickinghub, or approvingly share the latest Kristof story. Yet as Kristof has framed the problem, and as he has aided, however unwittingly, in obscuring the religious and political backdrop to Exodus Cry’s intervention, readers won’t know what they are signing up for when they sign up to support Traffickinghub. Shortly before Kristof’s story appeared, Melissa McCarthy had to apologize and withdraw a donation she had pledged (in partnership with HBO Max) to Traffickinghub, when she found out they had links to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ groups. Traffickinghub cried foul and again tried to spin the situation (“Exodus Cry Receives a Flood of Support after Melissa McCarthy Cancels Donation”).

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Congressional Lawmaker Give Up Attempt To Dump Qualified Immunity In Police Reform Efforts

        The judicial construct known as qualified immunity will continue to make it harder for people to obtain redress for rights violations… at least for the time being. While there has been a more sustained movement to reform law enforcement across the nation, thanks to cops doing the sort of stuff they've been doing for decades, qualified immunity seems particularly bulletproof.

      • Don't Just "Close" Prisons -- Demolish Them and Reinvest Their Funding
      • Washington State Supreme Court Says $547 Fine Imposed On A Homeless Man Violates The Constitution

        It seems all but impossible to completely do away with civil asset forfeiture, but advances are being made around the country. Criminal asset forfeiture remains a thing -- one that's rarely troubled by reform legislation. But it can be just as absurd, even if it comes with an adjacent or attached criminal conviction.

      • The Fictions of Onaqui Expose Fatal Flaws in the BLM’s Wild Horse Round Ups

        Under the Wild and Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Bureau of Land Management is required to manage wild horse populations to maintain a “thriving natural ecological balance.” For each wild horse population, the agency sets Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) to meet this goal, levels which the National Academy of Sciences has found have no basis in science. Instead, the agency sets AMLs arbitrarily, typically prioritizing the agency’s preference to have domestic cattle and sheep trucked into wild horse HMAs to compete with the horses.

        At Onaqui, the Bureau claimed that wild horses were “overpopulated” with an agency-estimated 474 adults in Spring of 2021. According to Bureau’s formula, one wild horse grazing for one month is one Animal Unit Month (AUM), equivalent to one cow-calf pair or five domestic sheep grazing public lands for one month. The 474 Onaqui horses totaled 5,688 AUMs year-round. Meanwhile, the Bureau simultaneously authorized domestic livestock totaling 19,592 AUMs – the equivalent of 1,633 wild horses – on the Onaqui Mountain HMA. In other words, the Bureau authorized over three times as many livestock as there were horses on the range, but then claimed that it was the horses that were overpopulated.

      • California accuses Activision Blizzard of ‘withholding and suppressing evidence’

        In a new section of the complaint, the DFEH says Activision Blizzard is encouraging employees to talk to attorneys at the WilmerHale law firm instead of state investigators — and then denying the state access to that evidence because the conversations were confidential. Activision Blizzard had already been criticized by both a company shareholder and the press for hiring WilmerHale, a noted union-busting law firm that reportedly helped Amazon initially defeat its workers’ efforts to organize in Alabama.

      • She was forced to wed at 13. Now she’s helped make child marriage illegal in N.Y.

        The practice is technically still legal in 44 U.S. states, as most allow marriage before 18. Cuomo signed legislation in New York in 2017 that raised the age of consent to marry from 14 to 18, but 17-year-olds could be married with parental and judicial consent.

        Amin, an activist, founded the Naila Amin Foundation to help victims of child marriage and has been pushing U.S. states to end it for years. In 2018, she helped New Jersey raise the minimum marriage age to 18, making it the second state to do so.

      • Chicago's ShotSpotter System Deemed an Ineffective Tool for Gun-Related Crime: Watchdog

        The inspector general's office found that between January 1, 2020, and May 31 of this year, actual evidence of a gun-related crime was found in only about 4,500 instances, or 9 percent, of 50,000-plus ShotSpotter alerts.

      • Chicago Inspector General: Police Use ShotSpotter to Justify Illegal Stop-and-Frisks

        Even worse, the OIG report finds a pattern of CPD officers detaining and frisking civilians—a dangerous and humiliating intrusion on bodily autonomy and freedom of movement—based at least in part on “aggregate results of the ShotSpotter system.” This is police harassment of Chicago’s already over-policed Black community, and the erosion of the presumption of innocence for people who live in areas where ShotSpotter sensors are active. This finding is based on the OIG’s qualitative analysis of a random sample of officer-written investigatory stop reports (ISRs).

        The scathing report comes just days after the AP reported that a 65-year-old Chicago man named Michael Williams was held for 11 months in pre-trial detention based on scant evidence produced by ShotSpotter. Williams’ case was dismissed two months after his defense attorney subpoenaed ShotSpotter. This and another recent report also show how ShotSpotter company officials have changed the projected location and designation of supposed gun shots in a way that makes them more consistent with police narratives.

        There are more reasons why EFF opposes police use of ShotSpotter. The technology is all too often over-deployed in€ majority Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Also, people in public places—for example, having a quiet conversation on a deserted street—are often entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy, without microphones unexpectedly recording their conversations. But in at least two criminal trials, one in Massachusetts and one in California, prosecutors tried to introduce audio of voices from these high-powered microphones. In the California case,€ People v. Johnson, the court admitted it into evidence. In the Massachusetts case,€ Commonwealth v. Denison, the court did not, ruling that a€ recording of “oral communication” is prohibited “interception” under the Massachusetts Wiretap Act.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Waste Watch: UK Enacts Right to Repair Rules

        With all that’s been happening in the world, I missed that the UK enacted new right to repair rules, effective for products purchased from 1 July onwards.

        This is part of a broader trend. In March, the European Union implemented similar rules (see Waste Watch: Europeans Get Right to Repair for Some Consumer Electrical Goods, While John Deere Reneges on Promise to U.S. Farmers to Make Diagnostic Software Freely Available). In July, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, under the leadership of new chair Lina Khan, voted 5-0 to adopt a new enforcement policy regarding right to repair restrictions (see, FTC Votes 5-0 to Crack Down on Companies For Thwarting Right to Repair).

    • Monopolies

      • Cable's US Broadband Monopoly Continues To Grow

        We've noted a few times how US regulators often simply refuse to acknowledge that the US broadband sector is heavily monopolized. Regional cable and phone monopolies are the number one reason US broadband is patchy, expensive, and slow with routinely terrible customer service. But when you see folks in both parties discuss US broadband, industry dysfunction is always framed in this extremely nebulous way (we must "fix the digital divide!"). Largely because nobody in government wants to offend deep-pocketed campaign contributors also bone grafted to our domestic surveillance apparatus.

      • Patents

        • Doctors Without Borders to Pfizer: Share Vaccine Recipe With the World

          Following U.S. regulators' decision to grant full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Monday, the global humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders urged the Biden administration to push the pharmaceutical giants to share their technology with manufacturers in Africa and other regions that are ready to start mass-producing doses.

          "The U.S. government must immediately urge Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to share the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine technology and know-how."—Dr. Carrie Teicher, Doctors Without Borders

        • Doctors Without Borders: U.S. Should Force Pfizer to Share COVID Vaccine Technology with Africa

          In response to the Food and Drug Administration’s full authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for U.S. residents aged 16 and over, Doctors Without Borders is calling on Pfizer-BioNTech to immediately share the vaccine technology with manufacturers on the African continent, where less than 2% of the population is fully vaccinated. Dr. Manuel Martin, a policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders, says it’s “regrettable but understandable” for rich countries to limit how many doses they export abroad, but “it’s completely unacceptable for countries to refuse to share the technology.” He also says rich countries should hold off on offering third booster shots to their populations while so many around the world are still waiting for their initial doses. “In the face of scientific uncertainty and given the historical vaccine inequity, I think really what should be prioritized is getting vaccinations to low- and middle-income countries and sharing the vaccine technologies.”

        • Software Patents

          • I turned on CSP and all I got was this crappy lawsuit!

            Yes, you did read that right. It turns out that enabling CSP on your website, specifically CSP nonces, is enough for you to get threatening letters about patent infringement! I've heard of people getting in trouble for some pretty absurd things, but turning on a security feature built into a web browser, well that's top of the list.

          • EA is opening the patents for some of its accessibility tech

            Electronic Arts is pledging to open the patents for some of its accessibility-related tech, including the much-celebrated Apex Legends ping system, the company announced today. EA says it won’t file infringement lawsuits against people or companies for using tech that falls under patents listed in the pledge.

            The ping system in Apex Legends, which allows people to play the team-based game without hearing or speaking, has been praised both as an impressive alternative to voice chat and as a great accessibility feature for players with a variety of disabilities. A patent that covers the system (US 11,097,189) was issued the same day as EA’s announcement of the pledge.

      • Copyrights

        • Towards the national transpositions of the DSM Directive: various techniques to ... do as you please

          This said, based on what is already available, it is apparent that the provisions that the EU legislature adopted in 2019 to establish a ‘Digital Single Market’ will be implemented in different – if not altogether creative – ways across the EU.

          It is true that there are provisions in the Directive that leave Member States significant discretion. Such discretion ranges from the very option to do something in the first place to shaping the actual content of rights and rules. An example of the former is the possibility, under Article 12, to provide for collective licensing with an extended effect. Examples of the latter are the articles on authors’ and performers’ contracts (Articles 18 to 23).

          This said, there are also provisions in the Directive that do not openly envisage such broad discretion.

          Yet, where draft or adopted transposition laws have been issued, also in respect of those, Member States have been moving in different directions. This, in part, is due to the objective ambiguity of some of the Directive’s provisions or part thereof. In more significant part, however, this attitude is linked to a misplaced idea of great freedom enjoyed by national legislatures.

        • European Union: Advocate General Opines That Article 17 Of Copyright In The Digital Single Market Directive (2019/790/EU) Is Compatible With Freedom Of Expression Rules Under Charter Of Fundamental Rights

          In the Polish challenge to Article 17, the CJEU is being asked to assess whether imposing the prevention (which invariably requires the use of content recognition tools) (Article 17(4)(b)) and staydown (Article 17(4)(c) obligations on online intermediary service providers is compatible with Article 11 of the Charter.

        • [Old] Advocat General dismisses Poland’s challenge to Copyright Directive

          Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe put forth his legal opinion on Thursday (15 July), rejecting Poland’s case against Article 17 of the Copyright Directive, but with some important caveats on how to make the use of automated content recognition tools compatible with the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

          The opinion of the Advocate General, who acts as a legal adviser for the Court of Justice of the European Union, is not binding but is often indicative of the Court’s final ruling.

        • Fake 'U.S. Copyright Office' Sends Takedown Notices to Google

          Google has received several takedown notices that claim to come from the 'U.S. Copyright Office', requesting the search engine to remove 'problematic' URLs. The Government body, which is generally not involved in copyright enforcement, informs TorrentFreak that it has nothing to do with these notices. Unfortunately, Google didn't immediately spot the imposter.

        • After Being Sued By ACE, Nitro IPTV Now Faces a New DISH Network Lawsuit

          In 2020, pirate IPTV service Nitro TV was sued by members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment for millions in copyright infringement damages. A year later the operators of Nitro have now been hit with a new lawsuit filed by DISH Network, which alleges violations of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions and breaches of the Federal Communications Act.

        • Sony Takes Down Leaked Unfinished Spider-Man Trailer, Releases Finished One Days Later

          We've talked plenty of times in the past about instances in which publishers of content, typically movies, get copyright takedowns performed on trailers. These takedowns are, frankly, never a great idea, but they are particularly stupid when companies like Marvel, Disney, and Warner Bros. takedown trailers, otherwise known as advertisements, and then release an identical or nearly identical trailer days later. What in the actual hell is the point of that? Killing off your own word of mouth and free advertising for your film?

        • Techdirt Podcast Episode 295: What Oracle/Google Means For Copyright And Interoperability

          We've written a lot about the Oracle/Google case over API copyrights as it wound its way through the courts, but the Supreme Court ruling has such widespread implications that there is still plenty to unpack. This week, we're joined by two top experts on intellectual property — Berkeley Law's Pamela Samuelson and Stanford Law's Mark Lemley, who recently co-wrote a paper on the subject — to discuss in detail what impact this landmark case has on copyright and interoperability.

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