Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 26/2/2021: GNU Poke 1.0 is Out and Rocky Linux Leaves Microsoft GitHub

Posted in News Roundup at 3:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • February 2021 Web Server Survey

        Apache also holds a more significant lead in terms of Netcraft’s active sites metric, which favours sites with unique content. Apache serves 25.5% of active sites, whereas nginx serves 19.8%. Google accounts for a reasonably large 9.9% share of active sites, owing to its popular Blogger service.

        Microsoft’s server software market share remains in decline. Microsoft’s figures took a significant drop in 2020 in favour of OpenResty, and Microsoft now only has 6.5% (-1.0pp) of the site market and 6.0% (-0.3pp) of domains as of February 2021. OpenResty also looks set to overtake Microsoft as the third largest vendor in terms of sites and active sites.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • We run Arch BTW | Self-Hosted 39

        Our favorite LastPass alternative, why more boxes might be better than one, and we confess to an undying love.

      • The TinyPilot KVM – An open-source network KVM

        I’ve been looking for a network-enabled KVM for a while now, and I think I found a really good one – the TinyPilot! In this video, I take a look at this KVM to see how easy it is to set up and use.

      • Explaining Everything In My XMonad Config

        In this lengthy video, I am going to go over my Xmonad configuration file. My config file is massive, including a lot of code that I don’t even use myself, but I keep this massive config as a reference manual for others to look at.

    • Kernel Space

      • Watch Out For Possible Data Loss On Early Linux 5.12 Kernels – Phoronix

        As a quick PSA for those that may be eager to test out early Git builds of the Linux 5.12 kernel, I’ve been hitting a very nasty issue on multiple systems leading to corruption / data loss.

      • More Open-Source Adreno 500 Series Support, A6xx Speedbin Sent In For Linux 5.12 – Phoronix

        Last week the main set of DRM subsystem updates were sent in for the Linux 5.12 merge window. That pull included exciting additions like Radeon RX 6000 series OverDrive and Intel Xe VRR. Mistakenly left out of that pull request last week were the open-source Qualcomm Adreno driver improvements for the “MSM” kernel driver while now that code has landed.

        As previously noted, there are some noteworthy Adreno improvements this cycle. The driver now has support for the Adreno 508 / 509 / 512 GPUs with the Adreno 508 being found in the Snapdragon 630, the 509 in the Snapdragon 636, and the 512 is in the Snapdragon 660.

      • Linux 5.12 To Expose Firmware Performance Data – Phoronix

        Last week saw the main set of ACPI and power management updates for Linux 5.12 while for the second week of the merge window has been the follow-up work with Intel Simple Firmware Interface removal and also an additional ACPI update.

        Noteworthy with yesterday’s ACPI pull is support for parsing of the ACPI Firmware Performance Data Table (FPDT) and now exposing that under sysfs. The ACPI FPDT tables provide platform initialization platform records with data pertaining to the boot process. Via the Firmware Performance Data Table it’s possible to track the performance of each UEFI phase – helpful in measuring hardware/software changes, etc.

      • Linux 5.11.2
        I'm announcing the release of the 5.11.2 kernel.
        All users of the 5.11 kernel series must upgrade.
        The updated 5.11.y git tree can be found at:
        	git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.11.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:
        greg k-h
      • Linux 5.10.19
      • Linux 5.4.101
    • Applications

      • 3 Linux terminals you need to try

        In 2021, there are more reasons why people love Linux than ever before. In this series, I’ll share 21 different reasons to use Linux. The ability to choose your own terminal is a big reason to use Linux.

        Many people think once you’ve used one terminal interface, you’ve used them all. But users who love the terminal know there are minor but important differences between them. This article looks at three of my favorites.

        Before diving into them, though, it’s important to understand the difference between a shell and a terminal. A terminal (technically a terminal emulator, because terminals used to be physical hardware devices) is an application that runs in a window on your desktop. A shell is the engine that’s visible to you in a terminal window. Popular shells are Bash, tcsh, and zsh, and they all run in a terminal.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install uTorrent on Manjaro 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install uTorrent on Manjaro 20. For those of you who didn’t know, uTorrent is a freeware and a closed source BitTorrent Client. One of the most used lightweight BitTorrent Client, Now it is available for Linux as a uTorrent server. The µTorrent is designed to use minimal computer resources while offering functionality comparable to larger BitTorrent clients such as Vuze or BitComet and also it provides performance, stability, and support for older hardware and versions of the operating system.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of uTorrent on a Manjaro 20 (Nibia).

      • Losslessly Compress JPG Images via Linux Command Line

        Although JPG images already utilize lossy compression to reduce file size, this compression is rarely optimized. jpegoptim is a Linux command line utility that can optimize JPG photos, yielding a smaller file size and zero quality loss. The resulting image data is bit-for-bit the exact same as the original, but the files can enjoy a significant reduction in size.

        There are a lot of programs and websites that claim to reduce image file size for you, but be careful. Most of these tools will indeed reduce the size of your images, but they work by recompressing the photo, resulting in a marginal (and sometimes quite noticeable) loss of quality. You may not always notice the dip in quality, but it’s there.

        The jpegoptim tool works differently. Instead of recompressing an image, it optimizes the Huffman coding that’s used to compress the image data.

      • How to Export Your LastPass Data to Bitwarden

        It is often the case that long-relied upon apps lose their charm. Some are beaten by their competitors, while others cease to be free. The latter scenario happened with LastPass. Although it technically has a free pricing tier, it is crippled and severely limited. On the other hand, an equally competent password manager – Bitwarden – remains fully free with core features intact. If you are considering migrating from LastPass to Bitwarden, read on, as we show you how.

      • How To List The Members Of A Group In Linux – OSTechNix

        All users in a Linux system must be a member of at least one group. This group is known as Primary group. If an user doesn’t have a primary group, he/she can’t able to login. Apart from the primary group, the users can be a member of additional groups as well. The primary group setting is stored in “/etc/passwd file”. The primary group’s name is specified in the 4th field of this file. The settings of other (secondary) groups are stored in “/etc/group” file. This tutorial explains different ways to find and list all groups and list the members of a group in Linux and Unix-like operating systems.

      • Install WordPress with LEMP Stack on Ubuntu 20.04

        WordPress is a very popular content management system that is free and open source. Using WordPress, you can easily create and manage websites and blogs with little or no knowledge of coding.

        LEMP is one of the popular open source development stacks used to deploy WordPress. LEMP stack contains Linux, Nginx, MySQL, and PHP. LEMP provides high performance for high traffic websites.

        This tutorial describes how to install WordPress on Ubuntu 20.04 with the LEMP stack.

      • How to Install and Use PowerShell on Ubuntu 20.04 [Ed: How to enable Microsoft vendor lock-in on the platform it's looking to destroy or take over]
      • How to embed a binary file in a bash shell script

        You may have been in a situation where you want to embed a binary file in your shell script before sharing it with others. For example, you are working on an installation script that includes a tarball. Or you are writing a portable shell script that includes any external dependency. Find out find out how you can include a binary file in a bash script and how to retrieve it from the script.

      • Install Blender 2.92 In Ubuntu / Linux Mint | Tips On UNIX

        This tutorial will be helpful for beginners to install blender 2.92 in Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 20.10, Ubuntu 18.04, and Linux Mint 20.1.

        As you know Blender is an open-source 3D creation suite and completely free for use. It is a public project and made by hundreds of people and it supports Animation, 3D modeling, Sculpting, camera tracking, video editing, rendering, composting, and much more.

        It is a cross-platform software that supports Windows, Linux, and macOS.

      • How to check boot path (partition) in Linux

        ow do I identify the boot device or boot path in Linux operating system?

      • FreeBSD jail, xen, and .pam_login_access security fixes released

        All supported versions of FreeBSD are affected by various security bugs that need to be applied ASAP. If the process is privileged, it may escape jail and gain full access to the FreeBSD system. Similarly, when using Xen, a malicious or buggy frontend driver may be able to cause resource leaks. Let us see what and how to fix these security vulnerabilities on FreeBSD.

        FreeBSD version 10/11/12 and 13 have a new jail, Xen, and .pam_login_access security-related problems. The excellent news is fixed are released. Let us see the details.

      • How To Install XAMPP on Linux Mint 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install XAMPP on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, XAMPP is a cross-platform web server that is designed for testing your web applications based on Apache, MySQL, Perl, and PHP distribution that’s compatible with the Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X operating systems. The best tool for those who want to install a fully functional web development environment.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of XAMPP on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How to Install the Latest Erlang on Ubuntu Linux

        Erlang is a functional programming language for building massive scalable real-time systems. Originally created by Ericsson as a proprietary software, Erlang was later open sourced.

      • How to change the sudo password through command line on CentOS 8

        Most new Linux admin users of CentOS 8 do not know how to reset or change the sudo password from the command line environment. It is a good practice for security reasons to regularly change the password of each system user. This habit is important for superuser, who has special privileges to perform all sensitive tasks under CentOS 8. Only root or a superuser can change the password for any other user account. Normal users can only change their own passwords. A user’s password can be changed under CentOS 8 using the ‘passwd’ command.

        This article demonstrates how a root user can change its own password on a CentOS 8.

    • Games

      • Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Fates Divided announced, Linux support “shortly after Windows” | GamingOnLinux

        Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Fates Divided was just announced by Creative Assembly and SEGA for release on March 11, and porting studio Feral Interactive confirmed it for Linux “shortly after Windows”.

        Taking place starting at 200 CE, this Chapter Pack for Three Kingdoms sees two childhood friends, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, go head to head as they battle against each other’s growing ambition. With a childhood bond about to break, it can only mean one thing – Total War.

      • Horror Story: Hallowseed is a psychological horror game coming to Linux this Summer | GamingOnLinux

        Available currently in Early Access for Windows, developer Jeff Winner and publisher 1C Entertainment make it clear that Horror Story: Hallowseed is going to be supported on Linux and macOS too. It’s been on Steam in Early Access since July 2020, with 1C Entertainment taking it on as publisher as of this month now that it’s approaching the full release.

        Horror Story: Hallowseed is a single-player story-driven psychological horror game that takes place in a fictional location, forgotten by time, all wrapped in a mysterious demonic terror. Three friends were camping in the woods, when an obscure event takes them away, causing two of them to disappear. Left alone in an unknown place, Michael seeks answers about what happened, while trying to find his friends.

      • Get some great games for the weekend in these new bundles

        As usual, we will highlight those in bold text that have Linux builds.

      • Top 10 Linux Distros for Gaming

        Exploring the top 10 most acceptable Linux distributions for fellow gamers is our main goal in this article. These have been hand-picked because of the overall experience you will get when you are gaming with them. The progress on Linux gaming development has been impressive over time, and it is no longer a dream.

        The Linux gaming distributions we will examine herein are greatly optimized for gaming. Critical in consideration are the drivers and applications that come with them. For instance, we are looking at the kind of emulators, the drivers, and the gaming software. With these distributions, you can play your game out of the box with minimal or no configuration needed. These gaming distros are very friendly.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Wayland KDE X11

          These days, I often hear a lot about Wayland. And how much of effort is being put into it; not just by the Embedded world but also the usual Desktop systems, namely KDE and GNOME.

          In recent past, I switched back to KDE and have been (very) happy about the switch. Even though the KDE 4 (and initial KDE 5) debacle had burnt many, coming back to a usable KDE desktop is always a delight. It makes me feel home with the elegance, while at the same time the flexibility, it provides. It feels so nice to draft this blog article from Kwrite + VI Input Mode

          Thanks to the great work of the Debian KDE Team, but Norbert Preining in particular, who has helped bring very up-to-date KDE packages into Debian. Right now, I’m on a Plamsa 5.21.1 desktop, which is recent by all standards.

        • Documentation Improvement in KDE

          There was many changes over the last few months in KDE developer documentation tooling. The hope is to make KDE development easier to both newcomers but also long-time KDE contributors to use KDE technologies to build cool stuff.

          The tooling for our generated documentation tooling improved. First of all, KApiDox got a new theme with a cleaner appearance and a better dark theme. But the improvement goes beyond just theming.

        • Debian, KDE, and Trisquel Developments are now using GitLab

          It is exciting that now big software projects are using GitLab for their own development. Debian, the universal operating system, and KDE, the best computer user interface plus applications compilation, and also Trisquel, the completely free software computer OS are among them. You can click those mentioned links to get involved in the software developments. It is certainly a good news as it is good example for the other projects in sovereignty of the infrastructure (borrowing Trisquel’s terms). I made this article after the Rocky Linux’s one as I just realized how important it is. However, as an addition it is also good if there is a project maintains their own Gitea (instead of GitLab) infrastructure as both are certainly libre software. I wish the best for them all!

        • Kubuntu, File Manager, And Nextcloud

          Kubuntu computer users can make their Google Drive or Nextcloud accessible right from the file manager. This means quick backup and sharing. Now we will learn how to integrate Kubuntu’s file manager, Dolphin, with the online storage, Nextcloud, so we can upload and download files right from our Home folders. Let’s go!

    • Distributions

      • Best Linux distros 2021: The finest open source operating systems around

        Although the most common operating systems are Windows and macOS, these platforms don’t offer an awful lot of potential for customisation and fine-tuning. Linux, meanwhile, has forged a reputation for being a fully customisable operating system that lets you configure your own software as you wish.

        Operating Linux systems isn’t as easy a concept as it might sound, however. This term is an umbrella under which a wide variety of flexible installations fall. These are known as distros, and it can be tricky to know where to get started with them – even for experienced professionals.

      • Reviews

        • Quark 20.04 review

          Quark is a fairly new project and this is its first stable release. We don’t usually review such young projects, but we were lured in by its polished Windows 10 desktop replica.

          In a nutshell, think of Quark as Q4OS working on top of Ubuntu LTS, or more accurately Kubuntu. The developers tell us that their objective with Quark is to bring Q4OS goodness to Ubuntu users. Because Q4OS is based on Debian, it didn’t take the developers much effort to compile the Q4OS tools for Ubuntu.

      • New Releases

        • Kali Linux 2021.1 Released

          Kali Linux has released its first release of the year with 2021.1. The new release brings in several new features, new tools, and improvements. So let’s see what’s new in Kali Linux 2021.1.

          Kali Linux is a great Linux distribution for penetration testing. With the huge list of tools available in the repository, one can perform almost any type of test on a device or system.

        • Kali Linux 2021.1 Released

          Kali Linux has released its first release of the year with 2021.1. The new release brings in several new features, new tools, and improvements. So let’s see what’s new in Kali Linux 2021.1.

          Kali Linux

          Kali Linux is a great Linux distribution for penetration testing. With the huge list of tools available in the repository, one can perform almost any type of test on a device or system.

          What’s New In Kali Linux 2021.1

          The new version includes package updates to their latest version including the desktop environments Xfce and KDE. Kali Linux 2021.1 ships with Xfce 4.16 and KDE 5.20. The default desktop environment is Xfce but Kali Linux is capable of running almost any major desktop environment such as GNOME, KDE, LXDE, Englightenment, etc.

          For more information on how to install a specific desktop environment in Kali Linux, please refer to this guide.


          If you use Ubuntu then you’re already aware of this little feature. Whenever you try to run a command that is not available, the terminal returns a command to install the tool. Similarly, if you mistype a command, the terminal returns a suggestion with possibly a valid command.

          Kali Linux 2021.1 now offers the same functionality. If you are ever lost, the terminal will save you a little bit of time searching the package or command and directly through the necessary information.

      • BSD

        • resolvd(8) – daemon to handle nameserver configuration

          From manual page description (at the time of writing):

          resolvd handles the contents of /etc/resolv.conf, which contains details of the system’s DNS nameservers, and is read by the resolver routines in the C library.

          resolvd checks whether unwind(8) is running and monitors the routing socket for proposals sent by dhclient(8), slaacd(8), or network devices which learn DNS information such as umb(4).

      • Arch Family

        • Top 10 Best Arch-based Linux Distros Available To Check Out

          Finally, I’ve decided to make a list of the best Arch-based Linux distros I’ve used and tried so far. I was a full-time Debian user. And, because I am a distro hopper, you will find me moving to and from various Debian-based distros. In fact, most of the beginners in Linux tend to go for Debian. Because it’s easy to use and there are tons of prebuilt packages. But when I came to know about Arch Linux for the first time, I fall in love with it.

          However, I will not suggest the vanilla Arch Linux to the newbie users. It’s because Arch follows a rolling release model, and you can build your own OS image based on your favorite packages. This leads to some complications, which might be annoying for beginners. But apart from that, if you want complete flexibility and customizations with the latest packages, there’s no alternative to Arch Linux. In fact, if you are a power user like me, you will even get a performance boost in Arch.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Red Hat introduces free RHEL for open-source, non-profit organizations

          When Red Hat, CentOS’s Linux parent company, announced it was “shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream,” CentOS users were not happy. Now, in an effort to mollify them and to keep its promise to open-source organizations, Red Hat is introducing a new, free RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure.

        • Rocky Linux, The CentOS Alternative, is now Using Gitlab

          This is a good example, that, Rocky Linux is now using GitLab, not GitHub, for its public development (software packaging) that everyone can join. We see in February 2021 it proudly presents its own serve we can see it here https://git.rockylinux.org. Rocky is a continuation of CentOS GNU/Linux which is now in rapid development with its rapidly growing (despite new) community. This means Rocky is following Debian, Trisquel OS and the other big OS projects to use the Free Software code hosting GitLab (and alike). This is certainly a good news to see more libre software forge being used in real life by big projects. To contribute to Rocky, especially when you are sysadmins and in server businesses, you can click here to Get Involved. Finally, I wish the best for Rocky and its development.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • What is virtualisation? The basics

          Virtualisation plays a huge role in almost all of today’s fastest-growing software-based industries. It is the foundation for most cloud computing, the go-to methodology for cross-platform development, and has made its way all the way to ‘the edge’; the eponymous IoT. This article is the first in a series where we explain what virtualisation is and how it works. Here, we start with the broad strokes. Anything that goes beyond the scope of a 101 article will be covered in subsequent blog posts. Let’s get into it.


          Snaps are containerised software packages that focus on being singular application containers. Where LXC could be seen as a machine container, Docker as a process container, snaps can be seen as application containers. Snaps package code and dependencies in a similar way to containers to keep the application content isolated and immutable. They have a writable area that is separated from the rest of the system, but are visible to the host via user application-defined interfaces and behave more like traditional Debian apt packages.

          Snaps are designed for when you want to deploy to a single machine. Applications are built and packaged as snaps using a tool called snapcraft that incorporates different container technologies to create a secure and easy-to-update way to package applications for workstations or for fleets of IoT devices. There are a few ways to develop snaps. Developers can configure snap to even run unconfined while they put it together and containerise everything later when pushing to production. Read more about the different way snaps can be configured in another article.

        • Full Circle Magazine #166

          This month:
          * Command & Conquer : LMMS
          * How-To : Python, Podcast Production, and Make a Budget
          * Graphics : Inkscape


    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • New Release: OnionShare 2.3

            This post was originally published on Micah Lee’s blog.

            After a ridiculously long sixteen months (or roughly ten years in pandemic time) I’m excited to announce that OnionShare 2.3 is out! Download it from onionshare.org.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 7.1 review – The Uncertainty Principle

          I feel that LibreOffice has lost its momentum, just like the Linux desktop. The domain has been idle for a while, the world is changing, and there simply isn’t enough energy – or money – to sustain the project in a good, vibrant way. After all, many open-source projects kick off with gusto, but then a decade later, they are pretty much in the same position they’ve always been, and that’s not very inspiring – or whatever word you want to use for where people source their drive and creativity.

          LibreOffice 7.1 feels worse than its predecessors. It doesn’t introduce anything super cool or useful, but it does bring in more bugs. The speed is also an issue, and the Microsoft compatibility remains tricky. Then, the interface doesn’t need a billion choices, just one or two but polished to perfection. And I’m not even going to talk about the whole Community Edition thing. I will gladly pay for LibreOffice, but I expect pro results in return. In fact, the healthiest thing that can happen to this fine suite is to become costware, because otherwise, I can’t see where the needed investment and resources will come to ramp up on the much needed features and tools. Free is good, free is fun, but tools that don’t tool aren’t very useful. And thus, another layer of hope is chipped away from me soul.

      • CMS

        • WordPress Boots Pirated Themes and Plugins [Ed: "Pirated" is technically and legally the wrong term]

          WordPress issued a statement that pirated themes and plugins are prohibited from being distributed from the official repositories


          WordPress.org announced that plugins and themes that are pirated versions of paid plugins and themes will be removed from the official WordPress repositories. The WordPress community debated if that approach violated the WordPress Open Source GPL license that allows derivative works to be distributed.

          The announcement itself affirmed that premium plugins are developed under the GPL that allows the creation of derivative works. But it also reserved the right to remove the plugins from the official plugin repository.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Release notes for poke 1.0
            I am happy to announce the first release of GNU poke, version 1.0.
            The tarball poke-1.0.tar.gz is now available at
              GNU poke (http://www.jemarch.net/poke) is an interactive,
              extensible editor for binary data.  Not limited to editing basic
              entities such as bits and bytes, it provides a full-fledged
              procedural, interactive programming language designed to describe
              data structures and to operate on them.
            This release is the product of 3 years of work resulting in 4126
            commits, made by 19 contributors.
            The program is far from being perfect and there are known bugs and
            limitations in place.  We also have lots of awesome ideas still to be
            implemented, extensions we want to add, pickles for many data formats
            to write, documentation to improve, and lots of work in
            progress... the GUI, the machine-interface... working in poke is so
            fun that it is difficult to stop :'D
            But it is time to start the releasing cycles so everyone can benefit
            from poke, which is already immensely useful for many activities like
            systems programming, testing of software, design and documentation of
            file formats and protocols, reverse engineering, and much more.
            Releasing often will hopefully also bring in more developers to our
            little but enthusiastic community... there is so much to do!
            In any case, we wish you have fun with poke and that you find it
            Please send us comments, suggestions, bug reports, *patches*,
            questions, complaints, bitcoins, or whatever, to poke-devel@gnu.org.
            Many of the poke developers and users populate the #poke IRC channel
            at irc.freenode.net, and you are more than welcome to join us there
            and say hello.
            Now it is time to mention the names of all the people who have
            contributed with code and/or documentation to this release.  In
            certain but no significant order they are:
               John Darrington
               Tim Rühsen
               Luca Saiu
               Bruno Haible
               Mohammad-Reza Nabipoor
               Eric Blake
               Egeyar Bagcioglu
               Kostas Chasialis
               Darshit Shah
               Dan Čermák
               David Faust
               Carlo Caione
               Henner Zeller
               Aurelien Aptel
               Indu Bhagat
               Michael Drüing
               Pierre-Evariste Dagand
            My gratitude to you all!  It is a real pleasure to hack with you.
            Finally, as a personal note, I would like to dedicate this release to
            my father Eduardo.  For this is also your work in a sense, and I love
            you very much.
            And this is all for now.
            Happy poking!
          • GNU poke 1.0 released

            Version 1.0 of GNU poke is out. “GNU poke (http://www.jemarch.net/poke) is an interactive, extensible editor for binary data. Not limited to editing basic entities such as bits and bytes, it provides a full-fledged procedural, interactive programming language designed to describe data structures and to operate on them.”

          • GNU poke 1.0 released
          • GNU Poke 1.0 Released For Poking At Binary Data

            The newest GNU project seeing its first release is GNU Poke, which is being inaugurated at v1.0 after being in development for the past three years.

            GNU Poke 1.0 is an interactive editor for binary data that beyond basic editing capabilities has an integrated, interactive programming language for describing data structures and operating on them. There is a GUI in the works for Poke along with many other features planned but after the initial three years of development they feel it’s now in good enough shape for declaring a 1.0 release.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Access/Content

          • Panel: A New Era of Open? COVID-19 and the Pursuit for Equitable Solutions

            In this panel, we’ll examine the fields of Open Data, Open Science, and Open Source Medical Hardware with leading experts and practitioners, asking questions like: “What does “open” mean in the COVID-19 context?” “What role can open access and the open community play in ensuring there is timely and equitable access to medical and scientific research outputs and data, vaccines and treatments?” “Can open science and open data help prevent the next pandemic?” “What legal tools should be used to expedite the manufacturing of vaccines?” “How can we balance individual privacy with the need to share information about genome variation and patterns of infection?”

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Bundling for the Web

        One set of touted advantages for bundling relate to performance and efficiency. Today, we have a better understanding of the ways in which performance is affected by resource composition, so this has been narrowed down to two primary features: compression efficiency and reduced overheads.

        Compression efficiency can be dramatically improved if similar resources are bundled together. This is because the larger shared context results in more repetition and gives a compressor more opportunities to find and exploit similarities.

        Bundling is not the only way to achieve this. Alternative methods of attaining compression gains have been explored, such as SDCH and cross-stream compression contexts for HTTP/2. Prototypes of the latter showed immense improvements in compression efficiency and corresponding performance gains. However, general solutions like these have not been successful in find ways to manage operational security concerns.

        Bundling could also reduce overheads. While HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 reduce the cost of making requests, those costs still compound when multiple resources are involved. The claim here is that internal handling of individual requests in browsers has inefficiencies that are hard to eliminate without some form of bundling.

        I find it curious that protocol-level inefficiencies are not blamed here, but rather inter-process communication between internal browser processes. Not having examined this closely, I can’t really speak to these claims, but they are quite credible.

        What I do know is that performance in this space is subtle. When we were building HTTP/2, we found that performance was highly sensitive to the number of requests that could be made by clients in the first few round trips of a connection. The way that networking protocols work means that there is very limited space for sending anything early in a connection[2]. The main motivation for HTTP header compression was that it allowed significantly more requests to be made early in a connection. By reducing request counts, bundling might do the same.

  • Leftovers

    • Welcome to the Real March Madness

      “The show must go on!” This famous phrase of the 19th century circus world has always seemed to lack context. “The show must go on, especially if the show’s owners will go bankrupt if the curtains close!” is far more apt. The NCAA and its P.T. Barnum without the charm, President Mark Emmert, are moving ahead as planned with March Madness. They are putting their plans into place even though the women’s and men’s tournaments could be Covid-19 super-spreader events, afflicting the population right at the moment when this country is finally vaccinating folks and seeing infection rates go down.

    • Danielle Evans’s Poignant Histories of the Present

      There is a rhythm to Danielle Evans’s writing that can, on the surface, betray the tensions roiling beneath the stories she tells. She writes about the haunting nature of memory, grief, and desire with a piercing subtlety that refuses any sort of cliché terms of closure. Readers familiar with Evans’s first short-story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, will recognize this quality. Those stories are replete with characters searching for themselves, coming of age, and daring to make their way forward even when their pasts pose the greatest of obstacles. In the novella and six short stories contained in her new book, The Office of Historical Corrections, Evans continues to trouble what it means to turn away from or face head-on the many histories that are always shaping our lives.

    • How We Created A Virtual Workshop To Help A Group Of Brilliant Thinkers Explore ‘Positive’ Futures Around AI

      Having spent two and a half decades writing about innovation, one of the things that’s most fascinating to me is how little most people can envision how innovation can have a positive effect on our lives. Perhaps it’s a lack of imagination — but, more likely, it’s just human nature. Human psychology is wired for loss aversion, and it’s much easier to understand all the ways in which technology and innovation can backfire to take away things we appreciate. History, however, tends to show that the positives of many innovations outweigh the negatives, but we’re generally terrible at thinking through what those benefits might be.

    • Science

      • Applause for Perseverance Ignores Plutonium Bullet We Dodged

        With all the media hoopla last week about the Perseverance rover, frequently unreported was that its energy source is plutonium—considered the most lethal of all radioactive substances—and nowhere in media was the NASA projection that there were 1-in-960 odds of an accidental release of the plutonium on the mission.

      • 5 Ocean Terms You May Not Know — But Should!

        These little-known but fascinating ocean phenomena will leave you wanting to learn more.

      • DNA from Pleistocene Era Mammoth Lineages Elucidated

        The wooly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is an iconic animal, like the saber tooth tiger or dire wolf, from a time in human history when our position at the top of the global food chain was decidedly not assured (and being something’s prey was not limited to just other humans). Perhaps this is a reason that resurrection of mammoths using Jurassic Park-like technology has some currency and appeal (but see How to Clone a Mammoth for reasons why this may not be such a good idea). Perhaps paradoxically, the mammoth arose in Africa 5 million years ago and like its (very) distant Homo sapiens relatives migrated to colonize the Northern Hemisphere, with most of the evolutionary adaptations to new habitats (and speciation that accompanied them) rising in the Pleistocene Era (from about 2.6 million to 12 years ago). From these speciation events arose the Columbian mammoth in North America about 1.5 million years ago and the “classic” wooly mammoth in northeastern Siberia about 700,000 years ago.

        Recently an international team* elucidated some genetic relationships between mammoths using DNA extracted from specimens from the Early and Middle Pleistocene, in a paper entitled “Million-year-old DNA sheds light on the genomic history of mammoths,” in the journal Nature. These results, termed “deep-time paleogenomics” by the authors, were obtained from three specimens, two of which were more than 1 million years old. The specimens represented two distinct lineages present in Eastern Siberia in early Pleistocene, one of which resulted in wooly mammoth populations that survived to become contemporaneous with humans. The third lineage gave rise to first mammoths in North America (Mammuthus columbi), resulting from a hybrid between these two lineages in Siberia in the Middle Pleistocene. And perhaps not surprisingly, these researchers found most of the adaptation to cold seen in these animals were present in the samples from one million years ago.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • ‘Outrageous’: Sanders Rips Netanyahu for Sending Covid Vaccines to Foreign Allies as Palestinians Denied Access

        The U.S. senator from Vermont denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for sending spare vaccines overseas “while so many Palestinians in the occupied territories are still waiting.”

      • Opinion | Trumpedemic: The Coronavirus Death Toll Reached 500,000 Because Trump Sabotaged the Covid Response

        Donald Trump placed his perceived political interests over stopping a pandemic.

      • We Must Change the Way We Measure Economic Health

        The clock has started on Biden’s promise to Build Back Better, as Americans anxiously wait to see what will be passed in his American Rescue Plan. Will the bill center the needs of everyday people and dedicate resources accordingly, or will deficit hawks and lackeys of the rich continue to play an outsize role in guiding our economy?

      • Mexico Could Soon Become the Largest Legal Marijuana Market in the World

        When a crew of cannabis activists reached the Mexican Senate here in Mexico City in February 2020, shovels in hand, they started digging up the yellow-tipped bushes near the security check, then the knee-high grass that surrounds the plaza. They planted skinny cannabis stalks, and smokers dropped their own cannabis seeds into a glass jar, each one a tithe for their cause. The operation was a gleeful but pointed jab at the politicians inside, who had used marijuana and other drugs to justify an ongoing war, carried out in partnership with the United States, that had made Mexico one of the most violent countries in the world. They were far more likely to be taken out by a bullet, the activists said, than by smoking a joint. They wanted to make sure reform would be done right. Reporting for this story was funded by a grant from Fundación Gabo. All photos by Alejandra Rajal.

      • From Pollution to the Pandemic, Racial Equity Eludes Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Community

        Like many African Americans, Hampton’s hesitation around vaccination stems from hearing about the way Black men were left to suffer during the Tuskegee syphilis study, an experiment between 1932 and 1972 which withheld lifesaving treatment, and from her own lifetime of experiences with unequal healthcare access. She told me that she and her family often had to wait hours to see a doctor for medical care while white people would go right in.

      • Have a case of Covid variant? No one is going to tell you

        Coronavirus infections from variant strains are quickly spreading across the U.S., but there’s one big problem: Lab officials say they can’t tell patients or their doctors whether someone has been infected by a variant.

        Federal rules around who can be told about the variant cases are so confusing that public health officials may merely know the county where a case has emerged but can’t do the kind of investigation and deliver the notifications needed to slow the spread, said Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

      • Fossil fuels may be responsible for twice as many deaths as first thought

        The death toll is enormous, according to a new paper by researchers at Harvard University in America, and University College London (UCL) and the University of Birmingham in Britain. Their study, published in Environmental Research, estimates that in 2018, 8.7m global deaths were associated with breathing air pollution from fossil fuels, almost one-fifth of all deaths worldwide. That total is far higher than previous estimates. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD), a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) that tallies the lives lost to hundreds of illnesses and injuries, puts deaths from air pollution at 4.2m in 2015. Moreover, the GBD estimate included all sources of outdoor and indoor pollution—including dust, burning organic matter (such as wildfires and deliberate agricultural fires) and cooking fuels—rather than just fossil fuels.

        There are several reasons for the discrepancy. Michael Brauer, who leads the team that assesses environmental risk factors at IHME, points out that the GBD looks specifically at the handful of diseases—including heart disease, heart attack, chronic lung disease, lung cancer, type-2 diabetes and lower respiratory infections—for which it considers there to be a sufficiently strong causal relationship with air pollution. Many other diseases with links to air pollution are not factored into their estimates. (Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, for example, have not yet been included, though they will be in the GBD’s next update.) The paper in Environmental Research, meanwhile, looks at mortality from all possible causes.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

          Many of the complaints were from M1 Mac users who had a MacBook Pro or a ‌MacBook Air‌, but Apple’s release notes suggest other models were affected as well.

        • Apple releases macOS update to prevent damage from third-party docks and dongles

          Most of the issues seemed to come from using a third-party dock, and while some of them seem to be from pretty obscure brands, there are a few recognizable ones that are reported to have killed laptops. For its part, Apple calls them “non-compliant powered USB-C hubs and docks” in the new update’s notes.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (python-pysaml2 and redis), Fedora (buildah, containernetworking-plugins, containers-common, libmysofa, libpq, podman, postgresql, skopeo, xen, and xterm), openSUSE (nghttp2), Oracle (firefox and thunderbird), SUSE (glibc, ImageMagick, python-Jinja2, and salt), and Ubuntu (python2.7, python2.7, python3.4, python3.5, python3.6, python3.8, and tiff).

          • DHS Secretary Mayorkas announces new initiative to fight ‘epidemic’ of cyberattacks [iophk: Windows TCO]

            Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday announced new funding and initiatives to prioritize the nation’s cybersecurity, particularly in order to confront what he described as an “epidemic” of ransomware attacks.

            Mayorkas announced during a virtual speech that current cybersecurity grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be increased by $25 million across the nation and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was evaluating further cyber grants to help the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) assist state and local governments.

          • Google Discloses Details of Remote Code Execution Vulnerability in Windows

            The flaw, tracked as CVE-2021-24093, was patched by Microsoft on February 9 with its Patch Tuesday updates. Dominik Röttsches of Google and Mateusz Jurczyk of Google Project Zero have been credited for reporting the issue to Microsoft.

            A CVSS score of 8.8 has been assigned to the vulnerability, but Microsoft has rated it critical for all affected operating systems. The list includes Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 and 2019, and Windows Server.

          • VMWare Patches Critical RCE Flaw in vCenter Server

            The vulnerability, one of three patched by the company this week, could allow threat actors to breach the external perimeter of a data center or leverage backdoors already installed to take over a system.

          • How $100M in Jobless Claims Went to Inmates

            The U.S. Labor Department’s inspector general said this week that roughly $100 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were paid in 2020 to criminals who are already in jail. That’s a tiny share of the estimated tens of billions of dollars in jobless benefits states have given to identity thieves in the past year. To help reverse that trend, many states are now turning to a little-known private company called ID.me. This post examines some of what that company is seeing in its efforts to stymie unemployment fraud.

          • Microsoft Failed to Shore Up Defences That Could Have Limited SolarWinds Hack, US Senator Says

            Microsoft’s failure to fix known problems with its cloud software facilitated the massive SolarWinds hack that compromised at least nine federal government agencies, according to security experts and the office of US Senator Ron Wyden.

            A vulnerability first publicly revealed by researchers in 2017 allows hackers to fake the identity of authorized employees to gain access to customers’ cloud services. The technique was one of many used in the SolarWinds hack.

            Wyden, who has faulted tech companies on security and privacy issues as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blasted Microsoft for not doing more to prevent forged identities or warn customers about it.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • The SAFE Tech Act Wouldn’t Make the Internet Safer for Users

              The SAFE Tech Act is a shotgun approach to Section 230 reform put forth by Sens. Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar earlier this month. It would amend Section 230 through the ever-popular method of removing platform immunity from liability arising from various types of user speech. This would lead to more censorship as social media companies seek to minimize their own legal risk. The bill compounds the problems it causes by making it more difficult to use the remaining immunity against claims arising from other kinds of user content. 

              Addressing Big Tech’s surveillance-based business models can’t, and shouldn’t, be done through amendments to Section 230—but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. 

              The act would not protect users’ rights in a way that is substantially better than current law. And it would, in some cases, harm marginalized users, small companies, and the Internet ecosystem as a whole. Our three biggest concerns with the SAFE Tech Act are: 1) its failure to capture the reality of paid content online, 2) the danger that an affirmative defense requirement creates and 3) the lack of guardrails around injunctive relief that would open the door for a host of new suits that simply remove certain speech.

            • Virginia’s Weak Privacy Bill Is Just What Big Tech Wants

              The bill, which both Microsoft and Amazon supported, is now headed to the desk of Governor Ralph Northam. This week, EFF joined with the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Consumer Federation of America, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, U.S. PIRG to ask for a veto on this bill, or for the governor to add a reenactment clause—a move that would send the bill back to the legislature to try again.

            • Interoperability Gains Support at House Hearing on Big Tech Competition

              This was the first hearing since the House Judiciary Committee issued its antitrust report from its investigation into the business practices of Big Tech companies. This week’s hearing was exclusively focused on how to re-enable small businesses to disrupt the dominance of Big Tech. A critical aspect of the Internet EFF calls the life cycle of competition has vanished from the Internet as small new entrants no longer seek (nor could even if they tried) to displace well-established giants, but rather seek to be acquired by them.

              Across the committee Members of Congress appeared to agree that some means of requiring Big Tech to grant access to competitors through interoperability will be an essential piece of the competition puzzle. The need is straightforward, the larger these networks became, the more their value rose, making it harder for a new business to enter into direct competition. One expert witness, Public Knowledge’s Competition Policy Director Charlotte Slaiman, noted that these “network effects” meant that one company with double the network size as a competitor wasn’t twice as attractive, it was exponentially more attractive to users.

              But even in cases where you have large competitors with sizeable networks, Big Tech companies are using their dominance in other markets as a means to push out existing competitors. One of the most powerful testimonies in favor of interoperability provided to Congress was by the CEO of Mapbox, Eric Gunderson who detailed how Google is leveraging its dominance in search to exert dominance in Google Maps. Specifically, Google through a colorful trademark “brand confusion” contract term requires developers who wish to use Google Search to only integrate their products with Google Maps. Mr. Gunderson made clear that this tying of products that really do not need to be tied together at all is not only foreclosing on market opportunities for Mapbox, but it is also forcing their existing clients to abandon doing anything that doesn’t use Google Maps outright.

            • Twitter Floats Letting Users Charge for Exclusive Content

              Bloomberg previously reported that Twitter was exploring user subscription features, and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey discussed the idea of paying to “unlock” content or “tip” another user during a recent interview. Almost 90% of Twitter’s sales come from advertising, which can be seasonal and easily influenced by factors outside of the company’s control. For example, revenue fell 19% in the second quarter during the height of the pandemic shutdowns.

            • Government reveals stats on social media users, WhatsApp leads while YouTube beats Facebook, Instagram

              During a press conference, Prasad revealed that WhatsApp has over 53 crores users, followed by YouTube which has over 44.8 crores users in India. Facebook has around 41 crores, Instagram has 21 crores while Twitter has the lost number of users—1.5 crores. This could also be due to the recent shift of Indian users from Twitter to the Koo app, which is the Indian alternative of Twitter.

            • WhatsApp can be banned in India after new rules if it refuses to dilute privacy protection

              he government of India on Thursday announced the all-new Information Technology Rules 2021, which include intermediary guidelines and a digital media ethics code. While the new rule will take some time to come into effect, the government has put forward a firm stand to identify a message’s originators. This means that platforms like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and others that use end-to-end encryption for messages may have to break it to comply with the government’s new rule.

              Announcing the new Information Technology Rules 2021, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday pointed out that if a tweet or message has not originated in India, then the app must tell the government who in India received it first.

            • Govt announces new social media rules to curb its misuse

              To prevent the misuse of social media, the Union government on Thursday announced new rules that make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp to aid the government in identifying the “originator” of certain messages containing unlawful information, while also requiring social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to remove such content within 36 hours of being notified.

              As per the Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and digital media ethics code) Rules, 2021, social media platforms will also be required to provide information, including related to verification of identity, to lawfully authorised agencies within 72 hours.

            • Twitter Super Followers Brings Calls of “RIP Twitter” – Make Tech Easier

              It’s not unusual at all for a company to change up its business model to one it hopes will bring in more revenue. But when it’s a company with millions of customers who use the product for free, there’s going to be some backlash. That’s what Twitter found when it announced its new “Super Followers” feature that brought cries of “RIP Twitter” from its users.


              With a little breathing room, it appears Twitter has decided it needs to go in a new direction. it’s now trying to monetize the site, or rather, monetize to a greater degree.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • ‘Counter-Terrorism’?: Two Decades After 9/11, New Interactive Map Details Footprint of US War Machine in 85 Countries

        “The map raises a number of questions. Why is the United States militarily active in so many countries? Are these operations meeting the stated U.S. goals of reducing violence against Americans?”

      • Opinion | We Can’t Afford Another Cold War on This Scalding Planet

        Biden, climate change, and China.

      • Time for a New Approach to North Korea

        However, what these discussions leave out reveals a glaring gap between conventional thinking in Washington and the reality of the conflict. They also reveal the gap between domestic and foreign policy conversations in the United States. Closing these gaps are the only way to build lasting peace in Korea.

        What is often lost in the popular news coverage and analysis on North Korea is that the U.S. has technically been at war with North Korea since 1950, making it by far Washingtin’s longest running war abroad. The fact that the U.S. and North Korea never signed an official peace treaty is the reason why there is still so much conflict and military build-up on the Korean Peninsula today.

      • Opinion | The Right Is Using the Capitol Riot as an Excuse to Target Activists on the Left

        Since January 6, Republicans across the country have introduced a slew of anti-protest bills.

      • ‘Joe Biden Just Dropped Bombs on Syria. Here We Go Again’: US Responds to Rocket Attacks With Airstrikes

        The president ordered the strikes on facilities the administration says belonged to Iran-backed militia groups.

      • “Decades in the Making”: How Mainstream Conservatives & Right-Wing Money Fueled the Capitol Attack

        As more details emerge about those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, it’s becoming clearer that the insurrection was not the work of a “fringe” group, but rather the result of a decades-long conservative effort to undermine democracy, according to author Brendan O’Connor. “The events of January 6 were not just months, but years, decades, in the making,” says O’Connor, who notes that major Republican donors and prominent conservative groups were connected to the Trump rally that immediately preceded the Capitol riot.

      • The Murder Chicago Didn’t Want to Solve

        The man who called me, a long-retired Chicago police officer, was alternately charming and curt. He insisted he had nothing to do with the murder.

        “All the things you wrote in your letter to me are not true,” he said, speaking slowly, his voice occasionally shaky. “Everything in there is a fucking lie.”

      • Iran Slams Israel for Recent Activity at the ‘Region’s Only Nuclear Bomb Factory’

        New imagery raises questions about activities at the Negev Nuclear Research Center.

      • A Half-Century Later, Pueblo’s Crew Gets Their Day in Court

        On Jan. 23, 1968, North Korean patrol boats captured the Navy intelligence ship off its shores, firing on it as the crew dumped classified material, and wounding its commander, Lloyd Bucher, and two others. One man was killed. The 82 surviving members of the crew were bound, blindfolded, and taken to Pyongyang, where they were charged with spying, tortured, and imprisoned as hostages. The survivors were finally released after a humiliating apology—a written statement from the United States admitting the Pueblo was spying—and a U.S. vow not to spy on North Korea anymore.

        The case, John Doe A-1 et al. v. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was filed on behalf of 61 former crew members and 110 family members three years ago after the Trump administration redesignated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in late 2017. Bucher’s estate and three of his crew originally filed suit in 2006, but the George W. Bush administration, while pursuing diplomacy with Pyongyang, took North Korea off the state-sponsor list two years later. Bucher died in 2004.

      • Amnesty Report Describes Axum Massacre in Ethiopia’s Tigray

        Soldiers from Eritrea systematically killed “many hundreds” of people, mostly men, in a late November massacre in the Ethiopian city of Axum, Amnesty International says in a new report, echoing the findings of an Associated Press story last week and citing more than 40 witnesses.

      • Trump Supporters Want to ‘Blow Up’ Capitol, Police Chief Warns

        Donald Trump supporters, who launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol last month, have indicated they want to “blow up” the building and kill members of Congress, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said Thursday.

        Threats suggest extremists could target the building during an address by President Joe Biden, Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers as she advocated for continued high security around the building.

      • Suspected Islamists kill a dozen people in eastern Congo attacks

        President Felix Tshisekedi has said he wants to end decades of unrest in the mineral-rich east, but killings there have more than doubled in the last year, according to the United Nations.

      • Soram village clash pre-planned; happened after announcement from mosque: Balyan

        A day after a clash between supporters of the BJP and the RLD here in his presence, Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan on Tuesday alleged that it was pre-planned by leaders of the opposition party and they were instigated by an announcement made through a mosque.

      • India, Pakistan agree to cease firing along border

        This is the first publicised contact in a long time between India and Pakistan. The last meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries was on Christmas Day in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore on an unannounced visit.

      • Pakistan, India Reach Rare Deal to Restore Kashmir Truce

        Pakistan and India have agreed to immediately cease military hostilities in disputed Kashmir by restoring a 2003 truce to deescalate tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.

        The two nations said in a joint statement Thursday their top military commanders spoke “over the established mechanism of hotline contact” and reviewed in a “free, frank and cordial atmosphere” the situation along the Line of Control that splits Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • EFF joins Dozens of Organizations Urging More Government Transparency

        Specifically, these organizations are asking the administration and the federal government at large to update policy and implementation regarding the collection, retention, and dissemination of public records as dictated in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Federal Records Act (FRA), and the Presidential Records Act (PRA).

        Our call for increased transparency with the administration comes in the wake of many years of extreme secrecy and increasingly unreliable enforcement of record retention and freedom of information laws. 

        The letter request that the following actions be taken by the Biden administration:

    • Environment

      • Current Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation weakest in last millennium

        The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)—one of Earth’s major ocean circulation systems—redistributes heat on our planet and has a major impact on climate. Here, we compare a variety of published proxy records to reconstruct the evolution of the AMOC since about ad 400. A fairly consistent picture of the AMOC emerges: after a long and relatively stable period, there was an initial weakening starting in the nineteenth century, followed by a second, more rapid, decline in the mid-twentieth century, leading to the weakest state of the AMOC occurring in recent decades.

      • An Atlantic current system that controls sea levels and heat waves is on the brink of collapse

        A massive current system that runs deep throughout the vast Atlantic Ocean has an effect on temperatures, climate, sea levels and weather systems around the world. Any disruption to its flow could have rapid and catastrophic effects on the global climate. And a new study has some dreary predictions about the future of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, as it is known, and whether it might cease completely in the coming decades.

      • Corporate climate polluters must pay for damage

        Who should pay the huge costs of climate change’s damage? There’s a case for corporate climate polluters to contribute.

      • Opinion | Lead With Facts, Not Punditry: Journalists and the Looming Superstorm of Climate Disinformation

        Journalists must shirk the habit of framing everything as a two-sided debate.

      • Opinion | The United States Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History—Now Is the Time for Bold Action

        The U.S. is officially back in the Paris Climate Agreement. But Biden must do much, much more than restore the status quo under Obama.

      • No, Biden’s Climate Plans Don’t Cut It
      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Degrading Forest Ecosystems in the Name of Collaboration

          The problem with the Malheur Collaborative is an inability to see the forest for the trees. The focus is on trees, not healthy forest ecosystems. Forest logging degrades rather than restores healthy forest ecosystems.

          The first problem there is no scientific agreement on the past fire history of the Malheur Forests. Yes, some of the ponderosa pine forests likely burned frequently (10-20 years), but other studies suggest many forests, particularly at higher elevations in eastern Oregon burned at longer intervals and often at mixed to high severity.

        • Dr. Osterholm’s Warning: COVID Hurricane on the Horizon

          Today, Dr. Osterholm is warning that a “Category 5 COVID-hurricane” is on the horizon, with the B117/UK Variant posing the greatest threat. As positive cases and deaths decline, he warns that the media has been negligent in their overly positive reporting.

          Indeed, the scientific community is engaged in an important debate. On one side, we have scientists who believe enough Americans have been infected and, as a result, have developed enough immunity to avoid a serious surge. Moreover, this group insists that enough Americans have been vaccinated (combined with the number infected) that we shouldn’t worry about a major surge in cases or deaths due to the B117 variant.

        • Big Victory in Yellowstone Ecosystem as Biden Administration Pulls Massive Henry’s Fork Logging and Burning Scheme

          The clear waters of this incredible wild trout fishery wind through the mile-high caldera on the border of Yellowstone National Park. Besides being voted #1 out of the nation’s top 100 flyfishing rivers by Trout Unlimited, the headwaters of this huge drainage contain what’s left of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s old-growth stands and provides irreplaceable habitat for grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, gray wolf, boreal toad, Columbia spotted frog, American three-toed woodpecker, boreal owl, great gray owl, bald eagle, northern hoshawk, peregrine falcon, trumpeter swan, elk, marten, moose, mule deer, and snowshoe hare.

          Project would have destroyed nearly 66 square miles of endangered species habitat

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | Congress Must Fight for a Better Democracy and Pass the For the People Act

        Republicans and Democratic voters agree: We need to make sure leaders actually represent “we the people.”

      • ‘A Huge Relief’: Families Left in Limbo by Trump Green Card Ban Rejoice as Biden Revokes Policy

        “This is the first hurdle cleared… We have to demand Biden pour more resources into the National Visa Center so they can clear the massive backlog that has piled up.”

      • On Looting, Love and Leftism

        Slavoj Zizek is dismissed as a sort of fascist by many on the left because he poses the very same formulation Michelle Alexander does in The New Jim Crow. For Zizek, the question isn’t whether the stereotypes of Jewish people during the Holocaust were true. Just as for Michelle Alexander the question isn’t whether black people who suffered mass incarceration are guilty.

        Let me back up. Most self-identified leftists parted ways with me after a moment I think changed the course of American history: the George Floyd protests. I already had felt some distance growing between myself and most on the left over what I saw as acute alienation from poor communities of color who were largely segregated from the highly ideological world of certain leftists. This is not an argument against idealism. To the contrary I saw this theoretical formulation of politics on the left to not be positive enough and found it to be willfully ignoring the real resilience of grassroots politics.

      • Two-Thirds of GOP Voters Still Buy Into False Claims of Election Fraud
      • Progressives Urge Biden to Prove ‘Pro-Union’ Stance by Publicly Backing Amazon Workers in Alabama

        “One of the most important things a president can do to help working people is to have their backs when they challenge corporate power.”

      • Ted Cruz’s Approval Rating Plummeted After Cancún Trip
      • Republicans Think Commission to Investigate January 6 Needs More Republicans
      • Republican Hypocrisy is No Reason to Support Neera Tanden

        Tanden has a record as one of the most anti-progressive operators among Democratic Party movers and shakers. Long enmeshed with corporate elites, she has been vehemently hostile to the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Progressive activists have ample cause to be alarmed at the prospect of her becoming OMB director — one of the most powerful and consequential positions in the entire Executive Branch.

        Yet some leaders of left-leaning groups have bought into spin that carefully ignores Tanden’s fervent embrace of corporate power and touts her as eminently suitable for the OMB job. Media coverage has been a key factor. The newspaper owned by the richest person on the planet, Jeff Bezos, is a good example.

      • What Planet Is NATO Living On?

        This theme was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, insisting that “aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security.”

        Using Russia and China to justify more Western military build-up is a key element in the alliance’s new “Strategic Concept,” called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define its role in the world for the next ten years.

      • Entertainment, QAnon, and the Politics of Fear

        My argument is that fear has been transformed by an entertainment oriented popular culture, including news organizations, as well as public agencies and officials who have a stake in fear. They provide the content for the ever-expanding market for entertainment. And it is fear that makes for good entertainment such as Donald Trump’s reality TV persona (“The Apprentice”) as well as his Presidential campaign and four years in office powered by the politics of fear that appealed to many of his followers.

        Our research on propaganda campaigns suggests that QAnon’s appeals to fight evil and to “save the children” replicates the 1980s moral panic about “missing children” and “stranger danger” that was based on the false claim that as many as 1.5 million children were abducted, molested, and even killed by predators. Most kids labeled as missing had run away from abusive homes or had been removed by separated parents or grandparents. Still, the myth persists, despite clear evidence that guns at home and auto accidents dwarf the risks of strangers for children.

      • “Islamo-Leftism”: Macron’s Witch Hunt Against Critical Academics

        The “Islamo-leftism” tag is today used uncritically by members of the government, large sections of the media and conservative academics.

        It is reminiscent of the anti-semitic “Judeo-Bolshevism” slur of the 1930s which blamed the spread of communism on Jews. In reality, “Islamo-leftism” is an elusive pseudo-concept which voluntarily confuses Islam – and Muslims – with Islamic extremism and points the finger at “left-wing academics” who allegedly collude with these nebulous Islamic entities.

      • Opinion | GOP Hypocrisy Is No Reason to Support Neera Tanden

        Progressive activists have ample cause to be alarmed at the prospect of Tanden becoming OMB director—one of the most powerful and consequential positions in the entire Executive Branch.

      • Biden Urged to Back ‘Bold, Reparative’ Water Justice Bill

        “Grave crises require robust solutions, and this is just what the WATER Act provides.”

      • Trump Cabinet Members Urged Staffers to “Be the Resistance” Within Biden Admin
      • Trump Opened the American Pandora’s Box

        Check out all installments in the OppArt series.

      • The Amazon Workers’ Campaign Shows the Need for Labor Law Reform

        The organizing drive still underway by workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., reveals some of the many ways our current labor law gives employers too much power to stand in the way of workers trying to gain a collective voice.

      • The Resplendent Radicalism of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

        Don’t wait for the Revolution or it’ll happen without you, Stop mumbling and speak out with a new wide-open poetry—Lawrence Ferlinghetti,“Populist Manifesto: To Poets, With Love”1

      • Republicans Are Trying to Make the January 6 Disgrace Go Away

        Ah, Mitch McConnell, you might have lost your Senate majority leader title, but you’ll always be the Great Gaslighter.

      • ‘Not Gonna Fly’: Jayapal Warns Democrats Against Using Advice of Unelected Parliamentarian as Excuse Not to Pass $15 Wage

        “When people vote in the midterms, you’re not gonna be able to say, ‘Well I’m sorry we couldn’t raise the minimum wage because the parliamentarian ruled that we couldn’t do it.’”

      • ‘DeJoy Should Be Sent Packing’: Biden Postal Board Nominees Urged to Press for Removal of Postmaster General

        “Our entire country is fed up with USPS leadership.”

      • Elections Are Not Democracy: Call To Boycott Upcoming Israeli and Palestinian Votes that Don’t Matter

        Elections for the Israeli Knesset are scheduled for next month. It has also recently been announced that in May and June there will be elections held for the Palestinian Authority’s legislative and executive branches. Since both the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel exist to deny Palestinians the rights and freedom they deserve, one may question the wisdom of the Palestinian Authority holding elections, and further, ask whether or not Palestinian citizens of Israel should bother participating in the elections for the Israeli Knesset.

      • Armenia’s prime minister says the military is trying to overthrow him, following resignation demands from top generals

        Armenia’s prime minister and military leadership are squaring off in what the former is calling an attempted coup, following the Armed Forces General Staff’s calls for the immediate resignation of Nikol Pashinyan and his government cabinet, reports News.am. 

      • The Decline of Computers as a General Purpose Technology

        With this background, we can now be more precise about our thesis: “The Decline of Computers as a General Purpose Technology.” We do not mean that computers, taken together, will lose technical abilities and thus ‘forget’ how to do some calculations. We do mean that the economic cycle that has led to the usage of a common computing platform, underpinned by rapidly improving universal processors, is giving way to a fragmentary cycle, where economics push users toward divergent computing platforms driven by special purpose processors.

        This fragmentation means that parts of computing will progress at different rates. This will be fine for applications that move in the ‘fast lane,’ where improvements continue to be rapid, but bad for applications that no longer get to benefit from field-leaders pushing computing forward, and are thus consigned to a ‘slow lane’ of computing improvements. This transition may also slow the overall pace of computer improvement, jeopardizing this important source of economic prosperity.

      • Draft rules: Social media firms to reveal first originator of message, OTT to self-regulate, digital media to have grievance officer

        The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has announced its draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, for social media platforms, OTT players & digital media Thursday, with significant recommendations including asking social media companies to give out the originator of a message or tweet as the case may be.

        The rules also made a distinction between a significant social media intermediary and a regular social media intermediary. The government is yet to define the user size to determine who will constitute a significant social media intermediary, though the minister indicated players with more than 50 lakh users will be considered.

      • QAnon believers think Trump will be inaugurated again on March 4

        QAnon followers started talking about March 4 beginning in early- to mid-January, after some were disappointed that the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol failed to bring about a series of predicted military tribunals and executions that they refer to as “the Storm.” But the latest conspiracy theory really began picking up steam in February, following Biden’s inauguration and as QAnon followers sought “different ways to explain their way out of the current reality now that there’s a new administration,” Iandiorio said.

        Their rationale for this evidence-free belief — and the meaning behind the March 4 date — is, perhaps unsurprisingly, convoluted and based on a series of misinterpretations, conspiracy theories, and outright lies. But here’s how the theory goes: [...]

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • As leaks expose UK op to ‘weaken’ Russia, suppression of Grayzone reporting backfires
      • Facebook Australia row: A dose of realism on tech regulation

        Moreover, it’s not just any links, but links pertaining to a particular category of web material: edited information – that is, news. But what counts as news, and why privilege this one category of material?

        On the first question, does tabloid journalism count as news? What about a community blogger who posts magistrates’ updates? Ok, how about a magazine that focuses on fishing – but does a news round-up in its opening pages? Should they be paid by Facebook?

        On the second question, the short, shallow answer is: Rupert Murdoch. He arguably wields more influence in the land of his birth than he does in the US or Britain. A longer, better answer may come via metaphor.

      • Australia Passes Law to Make Google, Facebook Pay for News

        Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said on Wednesday that the Australian law, without this week’s amendments, would have enabled media conglomerates to “demand a blank check.”

      • With Chinese Media Under Control, Beijing Sets Sights on Foreign News

        The future of foreign reporting in China is being brought into question as the Chinese government aims to consolidate its control on media.

        Beijing recently pulled the plug on Britain’s BBC World News amid China’s strained diplomatic ties with several nations in the West.

        China’s move came after the BBC published a series of accounts by women from the Uighur ethnic minority, who spoke of rape, abuse and torture in the so-called re-education camps in China’s Xinjiang region. Beijing rebutted the reporting as false. Britain had also revoked the license of China’s state-owned CGTN television network.

        In a statement reported by the state-affiliated Xinhua News Agency, China’s broadcaster regulator, the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), said that the BBC violated regulations in its China-related reports and that its broadcast application would not be renewed.

      • Updated Report: The Voiceless Victims of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

        According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) 2018 Fact­sheet on Blasphemy, roughly one-third of the world’s nations maintain a law, or a set of laws, punishing the crime of blasphemy.

        In Pakistan—one of three countries where blasphemy is punishable by death— these laws are widely abused to settle personal scores and incite religious hatred. Due to widespread reli­gious intolerance and bias, members of Pakistan’s religious minority communities are disproportionately accused and punished under the country’s blasphemy laws.

      • Two Pakistani Christian men accused of “blasphemy”

        Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code stipulates a mandatory death sentence for anybody found guilty of “defiling the name” of Muhammad. At the close of 2020, approximately 22 Christians were on death row in Pakistan on “blasphemy” charges, including four minors. Seven have been sentenced to death. To date no one has been executed, but since 1990 at least 15 Christians have been murdered extra-judicially by zealous Muslims because of “blasphemy” allegations, even before their trial could be conducted in accordance with the law.

        Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations in order to settle personal grudges. Christians are especially vulnerable, as simply stating their beliefs can be construed as “blasphemy” and the lower courts usually favour the testimony of Muslims, in accordance with sharia (Islamic law).

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • The Internet Has Enabled Independent Journalism To Flourish In Russia (For Now, At Least)

        Ben Smith has a fascinating piece in the New York Times about how independent investigative journalism is flourishing in Russia, despite an oppressive (and literally murderous) autocrat in power. There are a bunch of interesting points in the article about the various techniques they use — some of which raise interesting ethical dilemmas — but what caught my eye is just how vital it turns out the internet is to these organizations to be able to do what they do. Indeed, Smith points out that this is the flip side to the current moral panic in the US and elsewhere about “alternative media” and social media being the death of journalism:

      • Non-prosecution for journalist making fun of TV series in a tweet

        Detained over his message regarding the TV series centering on the life of Ertuğrul, the father of Osman I, who founded the Ottoman Empire, Candemir was released on probation, but faced an investigation.

        While journalist Candemir was charged with “insulting the memory of a person”, the decision of non-prosecution given for the journalist has referred to “Ottoman sultans” as the aggrieved parties.

      • Morrison’s media code could be catastrophic for climate and energy news

        Climate denial from Rupert Murdoch’s toxic Sky News, Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Junkee. This sort of “news” will be on display on Google News Showcase as a result of the government’s regressive new media laws. It is a travesty for journalism and dangerous to climate and energy transition, writes Giles Parkinson, founder of independent media site Renew Economy.

      • Saudi prince sidelined as US prepares to publish Khashoggi report

        US President Joe Biden said Wednesday he has already seen a soon-to-be released intelligence report detailing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

      • Documents reveal Khashoggi’s assassins used jets of company seized by bin Salman

        The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is expected to be released in an unclassified form today (February 25) with the expectation that it will conclude that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom’s de facto ruler, was directly responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

        Earlier, CNN reported that documents filed as part of an unrelated lawsuit in Canada allege that the two private jets used by the Saudi kill team were owned by a company seized by bin Salman.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • India’s Farm Protests: “If We Don’t Stand By Them, Who Will?”
      • Coded Resistance: Freedom Fighting and Communication

        The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was as a dark, cruel time in the history of much of the Americas. The horrors of slavery still casts their shadow through systemic racism today. One of the biggest obstacles enslaved Africans faced when trying to organize and fight was the fact that they were closely watched, along with being separated, abused, tortured, and brought onto a foreign land to work until their death for free. They often spoke different languages from each other, with different cultures, and beliefs. Organizing under these conditions seemed impossible. Yet even under these conditions including overbearing surveillance, they developed a way to fight back. Much of this is attributed to the brilliance of these Africans using everything they had to develop communications with each other under chattel slavery. The continued fight today reflects much of the history that was established from dealing with censorship and authoritarian surveillance.

        “The white folks down south don’t seem to sleep much, nights. They are watching for runaways, and to see if any other slaves come among theirs, or theirs go off among others.” – Former Runaway, Slavery’s Exiles – Sylviane A. Diouf

        As Sylvane Diouf chronicled in the book, Slavery’s Exiles, slavery was not only catastrophic for many Africans, but also thankfully never a peaceful time for white owners and overseers either. Those captured from Africa and brought to the Americas seldom gave their captors a night of rest. Through rebellion, resistance, and individual sabotage with everyday life during this horrible period, freedom remained an objective. And with that objective came a deep history of secret communications and cunning intelligence.

      • In Indian Country, It’s Not the Weather, It’s the Racism That’s Leaving Thousands in the Dark

        In Texas, president Biden has officially declared this scenario a disaster, and the state’s failed leadership stands squarely under attack.

        Media coverage has been empathetic. Audiences across the country have heard the heart-wrenching stories of people like eleven-year-old Cristian Pavon, who froze in his family’s mobile home, or Loan Le who died with her three grandchildren in a home fire in Sugarland.

      • Precog in a Box

        [Flowchart of “goTravel” software package developed by the government of the Netherlands and offered to U.N. members through the Countering Terrorist Travel Programme of the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)]National governments of all members of the United Nations are being pressured to implement new U.N. mandates for surveillance, profiling,  and control of air travelers.

        These unprecedented mandates for the creation and deployment of new surveillance and “pre-crime” policing systems in every U.N. member state  are the result of a successful twenty-year campaign carried out by the US and its allies through the U.N. Security Council and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as policy laundering proxies.

        This U.N. mandate is illegal: it contravenes provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which almost all U.N. members are parties. It’s immoral: it goes against basic principles of justice, including the presumption of innocence and punishment for criminal actions rather than for inferred criminal states of mind. And it’s wrong: it presumes the existence of human and/or robotic “precogs” that can predict future crimes.

      • ‘Long Time Coming’: LGBTQ Advocates Applaud House Passage of Equality Act

        “Today, love and progress triumphed over bullying and hate.” 

      • Marjorie Taylor Greene Targets Dem Lawmaker’s Trans Daughter With Cruel Sign
      • Rand Paul Ripped for ‘Completely Disgusting’ Transphobic Attack on HHS Nominee Rachel Levine

        “It’s always interesting how libertarians claim that people should be left alone, but then expect everyone to conform to their personal views.”

      • ‘Unimaginably Cruel’: Bigot Marjorie Taylor Greene Hangs Anti-Trans Sign Across From Office of Marie Newman—Whose Daughter Is Trans

        “Trans kids have a higher risk of attempting suicide because they so often encounter people who deny their humanity. We are sending our love to Rep. Marie Newman and her daughter.”

      • COVID Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for Blind People
      • Supreme Court Rolls Back Another Horrible Qualified Immunity Decision By The Fifth Circuit

        The Supreme Court has done a lot over the years to shield law enforcement officers from accountability. It has redefined the contours of the qualified immunity defense to make it all but impossible for plaintiffs to succeed. Appeals Courts have been hamstrung by Supreme Court precedent, forced to pretty much ignore the egregious rights violations in front of them in favor of dusting off old decisions to see if any officer violated someone’s rights in exactly this way prior to this case.

      • Tennessee Politicians Ask State Colleges To Forbid Student-Athletes From Kneeling During The National Anthem

        Is it too late to force Tennessee to secede from the Union and become some sort of free-floating non-nation we can freely raid to shore up our non-wartime stockpiles of tobacco and country music?

      • Navalny is moved from remand prison and likely transferred to a penitentiary

        The Russian authorities have moved Alexey Navalny from the remand prison in the capital where he’s been jailed since returning to Moscow last month. The opposition politician’s lawyer told the news agency Interfax that he arrived at Matrosskaya Tishina for a meeting with Navalny on Thursday, only to be told that his client is no longer being held there. “He’s probably been transferred to a penitentiary, but it’s also possible they took him somewhere else,” said Vadim Kobzev.

      • ‘The police are coming. There’s no need to swear!’ Outrage spreads after Russians learn about the police ignoring a grisly domestic dispute that ended in a woman’s brutal murder. The negligent police officers could get off with a fine.

        Details about a grisly murder committed a year ago in Kemerovo have found an audience on social media in the past week, following activist Alena Popova’s Facebook posts about the killing of 23-year-old Vera Pekhteleva at the hands of a jealous ex-boyfriend. Her death is particularly disturbing and shocking because neighbors pleaded with the local police for assistance for hours while listening to the woman scream in agony. By the time the neighbors finally kicked in the apartment door, Pekhteleva was dead. The public’s attention now turns to the trials against the killer and the officers whose negligence likely cost a woman her life.

      • Mailchimp employees have complained about inequality for years — is anyone listening?

        Luaces’ experience at Mailchimp is now roughly three years old. If her complaint was an isolated incident, there probably wouldn’t be a story. But according to 11 current and former employees, Mailchimp has continued to struggle with instances of sexism, bias, and perceived pay disparities since Luaces left in 2018.

        Employees say the company’s position as one of the premier startups in Atlanta allows it to view workers as disposable, as there are fewer tech jobs to choose from than if the company were located in San Francisco or New York City. They also say that because the organization is private and has never taken on outside investment, executives can operate without the specter of more public accountability. Many feel they’ve exhausted every option internally and are only speaking to the press as a last resort.

      • Senate Ruling: No $15 Minimum Wage in Democratic Relief Package

        That does not mean a minimum wage hike is completely dead for 2021, rather that raising it will require a standalone bill, subject to the usual 60 vote threshold in the Senate. A $15 minimum wage was a stretch even for conservative Democrats. It’s unlikely a wage higher than $10 an hour can garner bipartisan support, and even that’s not a safe bet.

      • Military families open up about facing food insecurity: “I cannot feed my kids”

        Her husband, an E-5 sergeant, works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. His take-home pay is roughly $3,000 a month. It’s not enough.

      • Papua New Guinea’s Michael Somare, ‘Father of the Nation,’ Dies at 84

        Before independence, Somare was the chief minister of the Australian-administered territory of Papua New Guinea. He most recently served as the country’s leader briefly in 2011.

      • McDonald’s Secretive Intel Team Spies on ‘Fight for $15’ Workers, Internal Documents Show

        For years, McDonald’s has internally labeled activists and employees working with the Fight for $15 campaign a security threat and has spied on them, Motherboard has learned. McDonald’s says that this work is designed to identify protests that “could put crew and customer safety at risk.”

        The fast food giant’s secretive intelligence unit has monitored its own workers’ activities with the movement, which seeks to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, including by using social media monitoring tools, according to two sources who worked at McDonald’s who had direct knowledge of the surveillance and leaked documents that explain the surveillance strategy and tactics. A team of intelligence analysts in the Chicago and London offices keep an eye on the activities of Fight for $15 labor organizers across the world, figure out which McDonald’s workers are active in the movement, and who they are working with to organize strikes, protests, or attempt to form unions.

        No McDonald’s workers are currently unionized, but many of them are politically involved with Fight for $15, which has organized fast food worker strikes and protests since 2012 and is affiliated with one of the country’s largest unions. To date, McDonald’s has refused to bargain with workers who the company says aren’t its employees because they work for franchises.

      • President of Pakistan Criticizes France on Religious Freedom

        Pakistan has some of the strictest blasphemy laws in the world accompanied by punishments including the death penalty. The laws are often used by the majority community to discriminate against religious minorities. ICC has verified a number of cases of blasphemy in Pakistan and compiled them in a report. Additional cases exist, but may not be included in the report for a number of reasons.

        The nature of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws has created a cultural norm where the majority Muslim community can use the laws to threaten Christians and other religious minorities and gain an advantage in personal and professional matters.

      • Father Recovers Forcibly Converted/Married Daughter

        Asif Masih beamed with joy to have his 12-year-old daughter back home on Tuesday (Feb. 16) in Faisalabad, Pakistan following her alleged kidnapping and forcible conversion and marriage to a 45-year-old Muslim.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Another Report Shows US Consumers Don’t Get The Broadband Speeds They Pay For

        Yet another report has shown that US consumers aren’t getting the broadband speeds they’re paying for.

      • Comcast Forced To Back Off Broadband Cap Expansion… Until Next Year

        Last November, Comcast quietly announced that the company would be expanding its bullshit broadband caps into the Northeast, one of the last Comcast territories where the restrictions hadn’t been imposed yet. Of course Comcast was utterly tone deaf to the fact there was a historic health and economic crisis going on, or how imposing unnecessary surcharges on consumers already struggling to make rent wasn’t a great look. In some states, like Massachusetts, lawmakers stood up to the regional monopoly, going so far as to push a law that would have banned usage caps during the pandemic.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • DRM Screws People Yet Again: Book DRM Data Breach Exposes Reporters’ Emails And Passwords

        I have a few different services that report to me if my email is found in various data breaches, and recently I was notified that multiple email addresses of mine showed up in a leak of the service NetGalley. NetGalley, if you don’t know, is a DRM service for books, that is regularly used by authors and publishers to send out “advance reader” copies (known around the publishing industry as “galleys.”) The service has always been ridiculously pointless and silly. It’s a complete overreaction to the “risk” of digital copies of a book getting loose — especially from the people who are being sent advance reader copies (generally journalists or industry professionals). I can’t recall ever actually creating an account on the service (and can’t find any emails indicating that I had — but apparently I must have). However, in searching through old emails, I do see that various publishers would send me advance copies via NetGalley — though I don’t think I ever read any through the service (the one time I can see that I wanted to read such a book, after getting sent a NetGalley link, I told the author that it was too much trouble and they sent me a PDF instead, telling me not to tell the publisher who insisted on using NetGalley).

    • Monopolies

      • Over 100 Countries Push to Loosen Rules on Vaccine Patents as US Blocks the Way
      • 100+ Countries Push to Loosen WTO Rules on Vaccine Patents. Why Is the U.S. Still Blocking the Way?

        As the pandemic’s death toll nears 2.5 million, stringent rules around intellectual property rights could be preventing much of the world from obtaining COVID-19 vaccines. Over 45 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the United Nations, while 130 other countries have not received any vaccines at all, leading to what some describe as “vaccine apartheid.” At the World Trade Organization, South Africa and India are leading a push by over 100 nations to waive intellectual property rules that give pharmaceutical companies monopolistic control over vaccines they develop, even when the vaccines are developed largely with public funds, in order to speed up distribution of the life-saving medicines — but the U.S. has been a key impediment to loosening those restrictions. “The proposal really seeks to ensure that everyone has access,” says Mustaqeem De Gama, a member of the South African WTO delegation. “We should enable more producers to produce, to scale, and to ensure that all of us are safe in the shortest possible time.” We also speak with Congressmember Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who supports the WTO waiver. “We know that these intellectual property rights really do put profit over people all over the world,” she says.

      • This browser extension shows what the Internet would look like without Big Tech

        It’s worth keeping in mind that just because a site reaches out to one or more of the big four tech companies, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily snooping or doing something nefarious. Many websites use fonts from Google Fonts, or host their sites using Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. That said, there are pages that connect to those IP addresses because they use trackers provided by one of the big four companies. The examples I’m about to list were selected because they’re common sites, not necessarily because they should be shamed.

      • Patents

        • Chambers Patent Litigation 2021 Guide – France [Ed: This new page contains a popular lie (among litigation profiteers: "Once the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is operational" (but that's never going to happen because it's illegal and unconstitutional)]

          The grant procedure for both French and European patents begins by filing an application with the INPI or the European Patent Office (EPO), respectively.

          As for the French procedure, the INPI examines the application within two to five months from the filling date. As a result of the Law PACTE, the INPI now has the authority to refuse an application for lack of inventive step, where previously the INPI could only refuse a patent for lack of novelty or non-industrial applicability. Then, the INPI transmits to the applicant a prior art search report with its opinion on the patentability of the invention. Within three months from receipt of these documents, the applicant can respond to the INPI’s observations and/or, if relevant, amend its claims.

          The EPO procedure slightly differs as the prior art search report and the opinion on patentability is transmitted before any substantive examination of the application. This allows the applicant to consider the strength of the application and thus abandon it or pursue for further examination.

          The publication of application in the Official Bulletin of Industrial Property (BOPI) for French patents or on the EPO’s website for European patents occurs 18 months after the filing date.

          As for the French procedure, within a period of three months from publication, the applicant may receive observations from third parties to which they must reply. At the end of this period, the INPI establishes a final report and, provided that the registration fees are paid, the patent is generally granted within six months.

          As for the EPO, within six months from the publication, the applicant can decide to abandon or pursue with an examination on the merits by the EPO. During this period prior to the grant, the EPO may require the applicant to provide additional information or to respond to some of its observations.


          Once the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is operational, it will assume exclusive jurisdiction for disputes concerning unitary and European patents in regard to:

        • USPTO slams AI inventorship in federal court; argues tech lacks ‘legal personality’ to invent

          The USPTO urged the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Wednesday, February 24, to dismiss a suit challenging its decision that an artificial intelligence tool could not be listed as an inventor in a US patent application.

          The office made this argument in a 24-page summary motion to the court, defending its finding from April 2020 that the Patent Act defined an inventor as a person.

          The office said in the summary that AI ultimately lacks the ‘legal personality’ to invent.

          This slamming of AI inventorship comes after Stephen Thaler, who had made patent applications to the UKIPO, EPO and USPTO with his AI machine DABUS listed as the inventor, challenged the USPTO’s rejection of his patent filings at the federal court in August 2020.

          Thaler – who told Managing IP in November that it would be “criminal to list myself as the inventor” in those patent applications – has so far failed to have any of his AI inventor patents approved.

          He also made an appeal at the England and Wales High Court after the UKIPO rejected his patent application for similar reasons. However, Mr Justice Marcus Smith upheld the office’s finding in September 2020 and dismissed the case.

          The topic of AI inventorship and patents has gained a lot of steam lately as intellectual property attorneys have started to ask whether refusing to grant such patents has the potential to devalue inventorship and cause companies to cut investment in new technologies.


          On Friday, February 19, the England and Wales Court of Appeal overturned a lower court ruling that Vodafone’s use of IPCom’s standard essential patent for a method of access in telecommunication networks was protected by Crown use.

          Vodafone initially argued that it implemented the patent to comply with the government’s framework under the Mobile Telecommunication Privileged Access Scheme (MTPAS), which allows for priority access for first responders to join mobile networks in the event of an emergency.

          In the UK, the Crown use exception under Sections 55 to 59 of the UK Patents Act gives the state the right to “use, make, import, sell or offer to sell a patent without the consent of the patent holder”.

          Because IPCom’s patent allowed Vodafone to abide by the access scheme laid out by the government, the telecoms company argued, the alleged infringement was in service of the Crown.

        • Heads of the EPO and INPI Brazil take stock of their technical and strategic reinforced partnership [Ed: Pure nonsense]

          EPO President António Campinos met the President of the National Institute of Industrial Property of Brazil (INPI), Cláudio Vilar Furtado, on 25 February to discuss co-operation on enhancing the patent system and better supporting innovators in Europe and Brazil.

          President Campinos commended INPI on its action plan to eliminate the patent application backlog by the end of 2021.

          The two heads of office welcomed progress made so far under the Technical and Strategic Reinforced Partnership signed by their offices in 2019, and expressed their commitment to the implementation of a detailed work plan agreed in January 2021. The offices are working together to strengthen local capacity in searching and examining patent applications through training and exchange of best practice, sharing tools, and exchanging patent data.

        • Software Patents

          • $2,000 for WSOU ’411 prior art

            On February 25, 2021, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $2,000 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claim 10 of U.S. Patent 8,209,411. The patent is owned by the most prolific NPE assertor in 2020, WSOU Investments, LLC d/b/a/ Brazos Licensing and Development.

            The ’411 patent generally relates to systems and methods of providing content to a terminal and, more particularly, relates to systems and methods of providing content to a terminal having a limited display area for presenting such content. The ’411 patent is currently being asserted against Salesforce, in the Western District of Texas.

          • Munich court confirms AAAASI in SEP battle between InterDigital and Xiaomi [Ed: It is worth nothing that all the proponents and prominent pushers of UPC are in fact working for patent trolls, i.e. they destroying the real economy wherever they go.]

            The Wuhan anti-suit injunction prohibits InterDigital from filing global lawsuits based on patents related to 3G and 4G mobile standards, until the Wuhan court has ruled on Xiaomi’s suit for a global FRAND licence. At the same time, the Chinese court barred InterDigital from taking action against the anti-suit injunction in other countries: an anti-anti-anti-suit injunction.

            Unsurprisingly, the Munich patent judges ruled in November that both orders from China do not apply in Germany. Xiaomi filed an opposition against this preliminary injunction. But the Munich court has rejected this after a hearing (case ID: 7 O 14276/29).

            Xiaomi may not pursue the ASI from Wuhan; it also cannot take any measures to prevent InterDigital from filing patent lawsuits in Germany. This order is a fourfold anti-suit injunction.

            InterDigital could now file patent suits in Germany. So far, the US company has refrained from doing so. However, Xiaomi can appeal against the Regional Court Munich’s decision. Observers consider this likely, because the opponents tend to be very adamant in such anti-suit injunction battles.

            On the other hand, if Xiaomi ignores the Munich ruling, it faces regulatory penalties in Germany. However, InterDigital had not sued the German Xiaomi company – rather, its Chinese subsidiaries. It is thus likely to be difficult for InterDigital to enforce the injunctions.


            Most recently, the German patent team of Simmons & Simmons also appeared alongside Xiaomi in lawsuits brought by Sisvel.

      • Trademarks

        • Monster Energy Goes After Autobody Shop Because Of It’s ‘M’ Logo And Use Of Green Color

          For regular readers of Techdirt, Monster Energy is one of those companies that need only appear in the headline of a post before the reader knows that said post will be about some ridiculous trademark bullying Monster is doing. The company has a reputation for being about as belligerent on trademark matters as it could possibly be, lobbing lawsuits and trademark oppositions as though the company lawyers had literally nothing else to do with their time. And, while many, many, many of these bullying attempts fail when the merits are considered, the fact is that the bullying still often succeeds in its goal to use the massive Monster Energy coffers to bully victims into either submission or corporate death.

        • Assignment in gross, or not? What happened to the goodwill?

          Scott Hallsworth is a renowned Australian chef who created and opened a chain of London-based restaurants in 2013 under the mark KUROBUTA. The business floundered and administrators were appointed in April 2017, which eventually resulted in the assignment of the goodwill in the business being assigned to Kurobuta Ltd, which had no connection with Hallsworth.

          On 31 March 2017, before the administrators were appointed, Hallsworth filed a UK trade mark application for the mark KUROBUTA for a wide variety of goods and services, including restaurant services, and registration was granted on 1 September 2017. This application was not dealt with in the administration process and it is clear from later events that Hallsworth had no intention of giving it up.

          Kurobuta therefore applied to invalidate the registration under s.5(4)(a) of the Trade Marks Act 1994, i.e., use of the mark is likely to be prevented by the law of passing off. The essence of the case was the question of which party owned the goodwill.

          Kurobuta was successful before the UK IPO regarding the goods and services relating to restaurants or the like. Much is made at first instance of Hallsworth’s claim to personally own the goodwill, but the argument was not successful, as everything he did was for the benefit of the business, not for him personally. That finding was not the subject of the appeal to the Appointed Person.

      • Copyrights

        • High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block Stream-Ripping & Cyberlocker Sites

          Under the umbrella of the BPI, major and independent recording labels in the UK have announced a key victory in their fight against so-called ‘stream-ripping’ sites and tools. Following a two-year process, this morning a judge at London’s High Court ordered major ISPs to block access to several platforms, including two of the most popular – Flvto and 2Conv.

        • Italian Police Obtain Preventative Seizure Order Targeting 10 ‘Pirate Sites’

          Following a complaint from the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers, Italian authorities say they have carried out a “preventative seizure” of 10 ‘pirate sites’ involved in the illegal distribution of newspapers, magazines and eBooks. The content was stored on foreign servers in violation of copyright law.

        • From Creativity to Exclusivity: The German Government’s Bad Deal for Article 17

          Several EU states have failed to present balanced copyright implementation proposals, ignoring the concerns off EFF, other civil society organizations, and experts that only strong user safeguards can help preventing Article 17 from turning tech companies and online services operators into copyright police.

          A glimpse of hope was presented by the German government in a recent discussion paper. While the draft proposal fails to prevent the use of upload filters to monitor all user uploads and assess them against the information provided by rightsholders, it showed creativity by giving users the option of pre-flagging uploads as “authorized” (online by default) and by setting out exceptions for everyday uses. Remedies against abusive removal requests by self-proclaimed rightsholders were another positive feature of the discussion draft.


          It’s now up to the German Parliament to decide whether to be more interested in the concerns of press publishers or in the erosion of user rights and freedoms. EFF will continue to reach out to Members of Parliament to help them make the right decision.

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