05.15.21

Links 15/5/2021: Godot 3.3.1 RC 2 and Pine64 Hardware in Focus

Posted in News Roundup at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Pinebook Pro

        I recently bought a Pinebook Pro. This was mainly out of general interest, but also because I wanted to have a spare portable computer. When I was recently having some difficulty with my laptop not charging, I realised that I am dependent on having access to Emacs, notmuch.el and my usual git repositories in the way that most people are dependent on their smartphones – all the info I need to get things done is in there, and it’s very disabling not to have it. So, good to have a spare.

        I decided to get the machine running the hard way, and have been working to add a facility to install the device-specific bootloader to Consfigurator. It has been good to learn about how ARM machines boot. The only really hard part turned out to be coming up with the right abstractions within Consfigurator, thanks to the hard work of the Debian U-Boot maintainers. This left me with a chroot and a corresponding disk image, properly partitioned and with the bootloader installed. It was only then that the difficulties began: getting a kernel and initrd combination which can output to the Pinebook Pro’s screen and take input from its keyboard is not really straightforward yet, but that’s required for inputting disk encryption passwords, which are required on portable devices. I don’t have the right hardware to make a serial connection to the machine, so all this took a lot of trial and error. I’ve ended up using Manjaro’s patched upstream kernel build for now, because that compiles in the right drivers, and debugging an initrd without a serial connection is far too inefficient.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Applications

      • Why You Should Replace ‘ls’ With ‘exa’ Linux Command For Listing Files

        If you use a Linux and Unix-like operating system, you will definitely be familiar with or used the ls command-line utility. It lists information about files or directories. Being decades-old command, ls has not improved a lot to bring modern functionality that you may be wanting, for instance, Git support, colorful, and tree view output. Here’s where exa tool comes as the modern ls alternative.

      • 5 Best Video Conferencing Apps For Linux

        Video conferencing used to be a thing in some tech companies, but it wasn’t a big deal until recently. With COVID-19 locking people into their homes, video conferencing became the need of the hour. One app, in particular, gained quite a lot of traction before big names like Microsoft could video conferencing to their own apps. The pandemic isn’t over yet and even so, work from home is going to be the new life for many professionals. If you still haven’t settled on which app to use, here are the best video conferencing apps for Linux to make group video calls.

        If you want some great apps, you should also try these great apps for macOS and Windows that are available for Linux.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Simple solution VS over-engineering

        When you use a complicated software, ALWAYS make sure you have a way out: either replace product A with product B or make sure the code is easy to fix. If you plan to invest yourself into deploying a complex program that will store data (like Nextcloud or Paperless-ng), the first question you should have is: how can I move away from it?

      • Basics of ZFS Snapshot Management

        OpenZFS stands out in its snapshot design, providing powerful and easy-to-use tools for managing snapshots. Snapshots complement a backup strategy, as they are instantaneous and don’t require a backup window. Since snapshots are atomic, they are not affected by other processes and you don’t have to stop any running applications before taking a snapshot.

        What exactly is a snapshot? zfs(8) defines it as a “Read-only version of a file system … at a given point in time”. This is a powerful feature as there are many scenarios where it is convenient to access files from a certain point in time. Imagine taking a snapshot of your home directory at the beginning of the work day, and perhaps another one after lunch. Need a copy of that file you deleted last Tuesday? No problem. Perhaps you’re considering updating an application but fear the pain of clobbered libraries. Need to test some configuration changes but don’t want to permanently muck up the system? Or, perhaps you’re preparing for an operating system upgrade and want a quick way to revert to the pre-upgrade version should things go terribly wrong. Restoring data from a snapshot is quicker than restoring from a backup or waiting for a system administrator to restore a backup for you. While snapshots do not replace backups, they provide a quick and convenient method for accessing files from a specific point in time.

        The ability to access files from a certain point in time sounds great, but doesn’t that take a lot of storage space? Not necessarily. Because ZFS is a COW (copy-on-write) file system, the initial size of a snapshot is 0 bytes. Since snapshots record the differences between the time the snapshot was taken and the current state of the file system, the size of a snapshot increases over time, reflecting the size of the changes.

      • Correlation Analysis Different Types of Plots in R

        Correlation analysis, correlation is a term that is a measure of the strength of a relationship between two variables.

      • How To Install Ampache on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Ampache on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Ampache is an open-source music streaming server that allows you to host your own music streaming server. With Ampache, you can access your music and video over the internet. You can view, edit, and play your music via a web browser or any media streaming client.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the Ampache music streaming server on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • How To Install Composer on AlmaLinux 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Composer on AlmaLinux 8. For those of you who didn’t know, Composer is a popular dependency manager for PHP. It functions as some sort of project manager that helps the programmer manage dependencies that will be used on a project-to-project basis.

        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 Composer on an AlmaLinux 8. You can follow the same instructions for Rocky Linux.

      • How to Install KDE Plasma 5.21.5 in (K)Ubuntu 21.04 via PPA | UbuntuHandbook

        For KDE users want to install the latest Plasma 5.21.5 desktop, it’s now available in the backports PPA for (K)Ubuntu 21.04.

        Plasma 5.21.5 was released more than a week ago with stability improvements and bug-fixes. As well as the KDE Frameworks 5.81.0, they are now available to install via Kubuntu Backports PPA.

      • How to install Open Broadcaster (OBS) in Ubuntu

        If you’re an Ubuntu user and want to stream to Twitch or YouTube, you’ll first have to install the Open Broadcaster application. In this guide, we’ll go over ways you can get Open Broadcaster up and running on Ubuntu via DEB, Flatpak, and Snap.

      • How to install X Window System XQuartz on macOS for ssh X11 forwarding

        I need to tunnel X Window securely over SSH bases session so that I run X program on my remote Linux/Unix server/workstation and get back display to my Apple Macbook pro laptop. I tried the ssh -X user@server1 and ssh -Y user@server2 commands on macOS. However, I am unable to use the ssh command with X11 forwarding. How do I get X11 forwarding in macOS to run graphical apps remotely from a Linux server? How can I fix this problem on OS X and enable X11 forwarding with ssh command? Can you explain how to install X Window XQuartz server on Apple OS X Mountain Lion or Mavericks or Yosemite or macOS?

      • How to secure user accounts in Ubuntu – Linux Concept

        In this script, we will look at ways to make user profiles more secure.

      • Installing the DHCP server on Ubuntu – Linux Concept

        DHCP is a service used to automatically assign network configuration to client systems. DHCP can be used as a handy tool when you have a large pool of systems that needs to be configured for network settings. Plus, when you need to change the network configuration, say to update a DNS server, all you need to do is update the DHCP server and all the connected hosts will be reconfigured with new settings. Also, you get reliable IP address configuration that minimizes configuration errors and address conflicts. You can easily add a new host to the network without spending time on network planning.

        DHCP is most commonly used to provide IP configuration settings, such as IP address, net mask, default gateway, and DNS servers. However, it can also be set to configure the time server and hostname on the client.

      • How to Install GUI on Ubuntu Server [Beginner's Guide]

        Do you want to install GUI on your Ubuntu server? You can totally do that in most scenarios and I am going to discuss the steps in details in this tutorial.

        But before you see that, let me tell you why the server edition does not come with GUI and in which cases you could install the GUI on your server.

      • The difference between passwd -l and passwd -d

        There are two options for canceling a user password in Linux. You can either lock the password login or delete the password altogether. What implications do they have?

        Most administrators today would probably set up their servers with SSH access. But if you initially provisioned the server with password authentication, you’ll need to prevent the user you used from logging in.

      • How I use temporary keybindings for spellcheck in Neovim | Hund

        I use spellcheck in Neovim all the time. It’s my only editor and I use it for everything, even when I input text on the web via my web browser qutebrowser. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any natural keys to bind the spellcheck commands to.

        Eventually I got the idea that I could use temporary keybindings that’s only available as long as I have the spellcheck enabled.

      • Get Started Tweaking Ubuntu 20.04 with ‘Ubuntu First Steps’ | UbuntuHandbook

        After a clean Ubuntu installation, you have to tweak the desktop appearance more or less to meet your needs.

        Besides struggling with different system configuration tools, e.g., System Settings, Gnome Tweaks and Dconf Editor, ‘Ubuntu First Steps‘ is a handy tool with mostly used options to tweak your Ubuntu Desktop.

      • Create Bootable USB Drives And SD Cards With Etcher In Linux – OSTechNix

        Creating bootable USB disks in Linux has become easier than ever before. There are many command line and graphical tools exists to easily create bootable disks. One such tool is balenaEtcher, or just Etcher. In this guide, we will discuss what is Etcher and how to create bootable USB drives and SD cards with Etcher in Linux operating systems.

      • Debian 11 Bullseye / Sid Install Guide [Debian NetInstall] – If Not True Then False

        This is quick guide / tour howto install Debian 11 Bullseye / Sid Unstable on real PC.

        1. Verifying and creating USB install media.

        2. (optional) verifying and creating non-free firmware USB media.

        3. Booting and running installer / installation.

        4. Totally optional upgrading to Sid Unstable.

      • How To Install Flatpak on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Flatpak on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, Flatpak is a package management and software deployment tool created to make the distribution of desktop applications on Linux easier. Flatpak is similar to Ubuntu’s Snapcraft. However, the snap technology is proprietary to Ubuntu. This is why many Linux distribution does not have support for a Snap but they have for Flatpak.

        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 Flatpak on an Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) server. You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian-based distribution like Linux Mint.

      • NO_ZERO_IN_DATE with MySQL 5.7

        I’m going through some old notes and found this little gem that really confused me last time I was migrating MySQL databases.

      • How to turn off login banner in Linux/Unix with .hushlogin – nixCraft

        Here is a quick tip that explains how to hide and turn off annoying banner in Linux or Unix by creating .hushlogin file.

      • curl -G vs curl -X GET

        You normally use curl without explicitly saying which request method to use.

        If you just pass in a HTTP URL like curl http://example.com, curl will use GET. If you use -d or -F curl will use POST, -I will cause a HEAD and -T will make it a PUT.

        If for whatever reason you’re not happy with these default choices that curl does for you, you can override those request methods by specifying -X [WHATEVER]. This way you can for example send a DELETE by doing curl -X DELETE [URL].

        It is thus pointless to do curl -X GET [URL] as GET would be used anyway. In the same vein it is pointless to do curl -X POST -d data [URL]… But you can make a fun and somewhat rare request that sends a request-body in a GET request with something like curl -X GET -d data [URL].

    • Games

      • Release candidate: Godot 3.3.1 RC 2

        We released Godot 3.3 a few weeks ago, and feedback so far has been pretty good! But like with any major milestone, there are some bugs which are worth addressing with low-risk maintenance releases to further improve the experience for all Godot users.

        The upcoming Godot 3.3.1, like all future 3.3.x releases, focuses purely on bug fixes, and aims to preserve compatibility. This Release Candidate should help us validate the fixes done so far, and ensure that the release is ready to publish.

        As there is no new feature and only bug fixes, this RC 2 should be as stable as 3.3-stable and can be used in production if you need one of the fixes it includes. If all goes well with this RC 2, the stable build should come early next week.

        As usual, you can try it live with the online version of the Godot editor updated for this release.

      • GNU Linux Bash Terminal retro games: very very retro game Moon Buggy (a MoonPatrol clone)

        as retro as it gets… seems to be a clone of MoonPatrol.

      • Looks like it’s all over for the once promising Smach Z handheld

        Press F to pay respects. Remember the Smach Z? A handheld gaming unit where you could pick between Windows 10 and SMACH OS (Linux) – well it looks like it’s all over now.

        The situation surrounding the Smach Z has always been a bit of an odd one, with the team behind it often going completely silent with plenty of people out there who considered it a scam from the beginning. It’s had multiple funding rounds with €474,530 from Kickstarter and a further bunch from IndieGoGo in 2016, and they had pre-orders available since 2018 too. Over time it seems they pulled in some investors too but the well has run dry.

      • Check out the demo for Increlution, a survival-idle game up on Steam | GamingOnLinux

        Increlution is quite unusual and somewhat engrossing, an idle-styled game about survival and seeing how long you can last while doing various tasks.

        It blends together elements of an idle game, a clicker and a text-adventure all into one package. It’s a little weird but surprisingly it actually works quite well. I’ve been somewhat enamoured with it, keen to see more as I explore and unlock new activities. The game sprinkles in story elements too as you explore, it’s just such a great idea if you love the basic idea behind it.

      • Scarlet Hollow Episode 2 due out in early June, play the first episode free | GamingOnLinux

        Scarlet Hollow, a rather excellent horror-novel adventure is getting a second paid episode that will enter Early Access with Linux support on June 11. This follows on from the successful Kickstarter campaign late last year, and the free release of episode one which you can play now.

        “Trapped in the dying Appalachian mining town of Scarlet Hollow for the funeral of your estranged aunt, you quickly find yourself at the center of a dark mystery that threatens your life and the fate of an entire town. Who lives, who dies, and the fate of an entire town rests on your shoulders.”

      • Steam Play Proton gets a few quick fixes in the 6.3-4 release out now

        Valve / CodeWeavers have releases another update to the current stable Proton series with the 6.3-4 release.

        If you’re not clear on what Proton and Steam Play are, be sure to check out our constantly updated dedicated page. It’s a special compatibility layer for running Windows games and apps from Steam on Linux.

        [...]

        If you missed it Proton Experimental was also updated recently to further improve Resident Evil Village on Linux, and has again been upgraded so it has all the fixes of Proton 6.3-4.

      • The Humble DeckBuild & Battle Bundle is live, remember to check out the Covid Bundle too

        Need some more games for the weekend and the coming months? Humble are back with the Humble DeckBuild & Battle Bundle.

        This bundle is quite a small one overall, with a selection that’s not the best but hopefully by us highlighting it some of you might find a gem or two you’ve been meaning to pick up. Here’s what’s included with Linux-supported titles highlights for you to make it easier.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • This week in KDE: the Plasma 5.22 beta is here!

          This week we finished up the last of our feature work for Plasma 5.22, so go test out the beta! We also started on 5.23 feature work, fixed a bunch of Wayland issues, and polished up our apps a bit more. Check it out..

          The Digital Clock applet now has an option to display timezones not as their code or city name, but rather the offset from UTC time (Momo Cao, Plasma 5.22)…

        • Plasma 5.22 Beta (5.21.90) available for testing

          Are you using Kubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo, our current Stable release? Or are you already running our development builds of the upcoming 21.10 Impish Indri?

          We currently have Plasma 5.21.90 (Plasma 5.22 Beta) available in our Beta PPA for Kubuntu 21.04, and 21.10 development series.

          However this is a beta release, and we should re-iterate the disclaimer from the upstream release announcement…

        • KDE Continues Pushing More Wayland Fixes Into Plasma 5.22
      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Ramblings about GNOME development

          I still like the “C + GLib + GTK-Doc + Devhelp” combination for software development. But it’s maybe because that’s what I’ve practiced the most during the 2010′s, and it’s hard to change habits.

          What I don’t really like, though, is creating lots of GObject subclasses, and writing GObject Introspection-friendly APIs (to take care of language bindings). It’s a burden that GNOME library developers need to carry.

          I said in the previous section that I like a verbose syntax, but here when subclassing a GObject in C, it’s a little too verbose (boilerplate code). It needs to be generated with a tool (here is the one that I wrote: gobject-boilerplate scripts). And it’s not really malleable code.

          In the small glib-gtk-book that I wrote several years ago, I described in a chapter the “semi-OOP” C style used by GLib core (not GIO). So, having a kind of simple Object-Oriented style in C, without using GObject. It doesn’t require a lot of code to write your own semi-OOP class in C. But then in later chapters I recommended to create GObject subclasses. Time to revisit my copy :-) ?

          [...]

          When we know well something, we also know well what are its benefits and drawbacks. We sometimes question ourself: is the grass greener elsewhere? It’s nice to explore other worlds, see how things can be done differently. And then coming back to where we were, but with a changed look, new ideas, and, most importantly, a renewed motivation!

    • Distributions

      • Worst Linux Distros for Beginners [ And What To Choose ]

        In this article we are going to show you the worst Linux distributions you can start with as a beginner. Now lets say from the beginning of the article that this distributions are not bad, they are bad for beginners. And you who are reading this, if you are new to Linux it will be better to avoid them for now and maybe check them later.

        But wait, what’s the difference? Aren’t all Linux distributions alike? Well the simple answer is – no. Some are more user friendly, others are more specific like for servers or corporate and other stuff.

      • BSD

        • FreeBSD router take 2 (pt. 4): Demoting my ISP’s router

          Since I built my first OPNsense-based router, it had been a secondary router only. Its “WAN” port was connected to my ISP’s modem/router box which dealt with establishing the actual Internet connection and acting as the gateway and DHCP server for my OPNsense. In other words: It has only ever been a second line of defense for my LAN network behind it.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Erik Sterck GmbH, Guest Blog: A DevOps Story [Ed: Stupid buzzwords have turned the occupation of “IT” into a laughing stock.]

          And suddenly, everyone gets bombarded with terms like DevOps, DevSecOps, Dev<InsertSomethingElse>Ops, agile, lean and so on.

      • Debian Family

        • Tails: Call for testing 4.19~rc1

          Contribute to Tails by testing our release candidate for Tails 4.19!

          [...]

          Tails 4.19, scheduled for June 1, will completely change how to connect to the Tor network from Tails. We would like as many people as possible to test this beta version to be able to fix as many problems as possible before we release 4.19 to all users.

        • Elive 3.8.20 beta released

          The Elive Team is proud to announce the release of the beta version 3.8.20

        • Junichi Uekawa: Waiting for network to be up from a service on Debian.

          Waiting for network to be up from a service on Debian. I’ve noticed that when I observed in journalctl that many services were starting before dhclient started running and configured DHCP. They are waiting for network-online.target, however network-online.target seems to be triggered before networking is available. After a few internet searches, ifupdown is the default network manager for Debian, and it seems like there’s a specific systemd target for ifupdown. /usr/lib/systemd/system/ifupdown-wait-online.service contains that service. So, I could do this to fix the situation. Now, should this have been the default? filed a bug: 988533.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Let’s make MiRAKles happen

        Many of you are already aware that we are very interested in LoRa®. We hope to use the technology for both traditional IoT applications as well as in less orthodox ways, such as peer-to-peer text communication and even group text-messaging. This novel application potential is of particular interest to us, and in the coming months we will encourage developers to explore LoRa’s® viability as a text communication alternative to GSM/CDMA and LTE. We’re doubling down on LoRa® even at this early stage, so you can expect to see end-nodes for our SBCs, the Pinebook Pro, PineTab and PinePhone available in the Pine Store shortly. Indeed, we hope for LoRa® to become a staple of PINE64.

      • The world’s first DSP based on RISC-V ISA is about to be mass-produced
      • Zulip 4.0: Threaded open source team chat

        We’re excited to announce the release of Zulip Server 4.0, containing hundreds of new features and bug fixes! Zulip is an open-source team collaboration tool with unique topic-based threading that combines the best of email and chat to make remote work productive and delightful. Fortune 500 companies, leading open source projects, and thousands of other organizations use Zulip every day.

      • EFF tells California Court that Forensic Software Source Code Must Be Disclosed to the Defendant

        Criminal defendants must be allowed to examine how DNA matching software used against them works to make sure that the software’s result is reliable. Access to the source code cannot be replaced by testimony regarding how the program should work, since there could be coding errors. This is especially true for the newest generation of forensic DNA software, like STRMix and TrueAllele, which are fraught with reliability and accuracy concerns. In fact, a prior examination of STRMix led to the discovery that there were programming errors that could have created false results in 60 cases in Queensland, Australia.

        That same worry is present in this case. Although the crime itself is harrowing, the evidence is anything but conclusive. An elderly woman was sexually assaulted and murdered in her home and two witnesses described seeing a black man in his 50s on the property on the day of the murder. Dozens of people had passed through the victim’s home in the few months leading up to the murder, including Mr. Davis and another individual. Mr. Davis is an African American man who was in his 70s at the time of the murder and suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Another individual who met the witnesses’ description had a history of sex crimes including sexual assault with a foreign object.

        DNA samples were taken from dozens of locations and items at the crime scene. Mr. Davis’s DNA was not found on many of those, including a cane that was allegedly used to sexually assault the victim. Traditional DNA software was not able to match Mr. Davis to the DNA sample from a shoelace that was likely used to tie up the victim—but STRMix did, and the prosecution relied heavily on the latter before the jury. The first trial against Mr. Davis, who is now in a wheelchair due to Parkinson’s, ended with a hung jury. He was convicted after a second trial and sentenced to life without parole. 

      • Web Browsers

        • Exploiting custom protocol handlers for cross-browser tracking in Tor, Safari, Chrome and Firefox

          The actual implementation of the exploit varies by browser, however the basic concept is the same. It works by asking the browser to show a confirmation dialog in a popup window. Then the JavaScript code can detect if a popup has just been opened and detect the presence of an application based on that.

        • Chromium

          • Google Chrome will soon load pages faster on Windows, Linux and macOS

            Google is working on an update for its web browser Chrome that will improve the speeds of clients for Windows, Linux and macOS.

            As reported by Windows Latest, Google is planning to introduce support for “back-forward cache” on desktop platforms with Google Chrome 92. The feature, which has long be available on Android, enables instantaneous page loading when users click the “back” or “forward” buttons.

          • Chrome OS 90 arrives late for some Chromebooks, brings Android 11

            After rolling out to most Chrome OS devices a few weeks ago, the latest Stable Channel update is here for the Chromebooks that have been waiting. While Chrome OS 90 arrives late for some Chromebooks, it brings Android 11 in the new containerized environment to them. There are still three Chromeboxes currently running on Chrome OS 89.

        • Mozilla

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • lightweight as in ldap

          Programming note: I have posted two videos to my poorly-tended YouTube account. They are part two of the video about Manzano base, and a rough version of a conference presentation on security of aviation radionavigaton technologies.

          I’ve mentioned LDAP several times as of late. Most recently, when I said I would write about it. And here we are! I will not provide a complete or thorough explanation of LDAP because doing so would easily fill a book, and I’m not sure that I’m prepared to be the kind of person who has written a book on LDAP. But I will try to give you a general understanding of what LDAP is, how it works, and why it is such a monumental pain in the ass.

      • CMS

        • A blog disaster, or: Never trust WordPress

          I actually had a post ready to go today, and there’s a reason why you’re not seeing it. Early this morning, I decided to go over it one more time and make a few edits. While doing so, I accidentally closed my browser tab, and when I came back to the post I discovered that it had reverted to an early version of the post lacking at least 1,500 carefully chosen words that had been added to it as I completed it last night. Going through versions on the WordPress back end failed to find the missing text. Ultimately, disgusted and annoyed, I decided I didn’t have the time or the inclination to try to reconstruct the missing post given that I had to go to work. I don’t know if I’ll take what remains of the post tonight or tomorrow and try to reconstruct what I had written, the better to publish it over the weekend or on Monday. I might. I might not. Right now, I have no motivation to do so. All I have time to do before heading to work is to post a brief explanation.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • DISSENS: Decentralized Identities for Self-sovereign End-users (NGI TRUST)

            Registrations of accounts prior to receiving services online is the standard process for commercial offerings on the Internet which depend on two corner stones of the Web: Payment processing and digital identities. The use of third-party identity provider services (IdPs) is practical as it delegates the task of verifying and storing personal information. The use of payment processors is convenient for the customer as it provides one-click payments. However, the quasi-oligopoly of services providers in those areas include Google and Facebook for identities and PayPal or Stripe for payment processing. Those corporations are not only based in privacy-unfriendly jurisdictions, but also exploit private data for profit.

            DISSENS makes the case that what is urgently needed are fundamentally different, user-centric and privacy-friendly alternatives to the above. Self-sovereign identity (SSI) management is the way to replace IdPs with a user-centric, decentralized mechanism where data and access control is fully under the control of the data subject. In combination with a privacy-friendly payment system, DISSENS aims to achieve the same one-click user experience that is currently achieved by privacy-invasive account-based Web shops, but without the users having to setup accounts.

            To achieve this, DISSENS integrates re:claimID with the GNU Taler payment system in a pilot in order to demonstrate the practical feasibility and benefits of privacy enhancing technologies for users and commercial service providers. DISSENS also implements a reference scenario which includes credentials issued by the partners Fraunhofer AISEC and BFH for employees and students, respectively. Users are able to access and use a pilot service developed by Taler Systems S.A. while being able to claim specific discounts for students and researchers.

          • GIMP 2.99.6 Is Released

            GIMP 2.99.6 is another development release on the road to a big GIMP 3.0 release with a graphical interface based on GTK 3, a brand new API, a new extension format, Wayland support, year 2038+ compatibility, multi-layer selection and much more. It may be worth a try if you want to know what GIMP 3.0 will be like, but it is nowhere near ready to replace the stable GIMP 2.10.xx branch.

            [...]

            The big highlights in GIMP 2.99.6 are pinch gesture support for touch-screens, off-canvas painting guides, a new template selector in the canvas size selector, better handling of the gAMA and cHRM parts of PNG images anda improved paint select tool. Those are just the features that are new to 2.99.6, there is a lot more in the 2.99.x development branch than the few features introduced in the latest development release.

            Wayland support, multi-layer selection support, automatic layer boundary management, support for hot-plugging devices and a brand new Extension Manager available in Edit ▸ Manage Extensions are a few of the things introduced in earlier 2.99.x development releases.

      • Programming/Development

        • Macros in the Shell: Integrating That Spreadsheet From Finance Into a Data Pipeline

          While I no longer use it regularly for the purposes of analysis, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for excel1. Furthermore, using a “correct” set of data science tools often requires a bridge2. Integrating a rigorous component into a messy spreadsheet based pipeline can be an initial step towards the pipeline or team or organization starting on a path of continuous improvement in their processes3. Also, spreadsheets are foundational to many (probably most) BizOps teams and therefore are sometimes unavoidable…

          In this post I will walk through a short example and some considerations for when you might decide (perhaps against your preferences) to integrate your work with extant spreadsheets or shadow “pipelines” within your organization.

        • Extend the language

          It’s almost eerie to me how a programming problem can seem completely unsolvable and then you extend the language a bit and suddenly it’s easy.

          It’s happened to me most often with Lisps of course, but it can happen with pretty much any language. I remember a few Java occasions, personally, where I put in a functor framework and previously challenging problems suddenly became easy.

        • Scraping the latest EU VAT rates for e-services from the European Commission’s web site with Node.js

          So, you now know how to verify an EU VAT number with Node.js.

        • Using the European Commission EU VAT Number validation API with Node.js

          You may know of the VIES site where you can manually validate EU VAT numbers but did you know that the European Commission also has an API for programmatically doing this?1

        • Python

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • The Bourne shell lets you set variables in if expressions

            This isn’t the first time I’ve seen SC2181 and as always, I rolled my eyes at it because it seemed obviously wrong, because of course you can’t merge these two lines together. But this time I went off to the Shellcheck repository to report it as an issue, and before I reported it as an issue I did a search, and that was when I discovered that Shellcheck was not wrong.

            To my surprise, the Bourne shell allows you to perform command substitutions and capture the output in variables in if expressions. You really can write my two lines in a single one as: [...]

        • Rust

          • Six Years of Rust

            Today marks Rust’s sixth birthday since it went 1.0 in 2015. A lot has changed since then and especially over the past year, and Rust was no different. In 2020, there was no foundation yet, no const generics, and a lot organisations were still wondering whether Rust was production ready.

            In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Rust’s global distributed set of team members and volunteers shipped over nine new stable releases of Rust, in addition to various bugfix releases. Today, “Rust in production” isn’t a question, but a statement. The newly founded Rust foundation has several members who value using Rust in production enough to help continue to support and contribute to its open development ecosystem.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • We Are the Internet Society: Our Impact in 2020

        The Internet Society’s 2020 Impact Report: The Internet Is a Lifeline is a storybook of ingenuity, collaboration, and what happens when people who care about bringing a better life to their families and neighbors come together. It tracks our work by actions and impacts, and shows major shifts in the way people use the Internet now.

        Through these stories, we see a global community of people who work, often quietly and behind the scenes, to bring the Internet to those who don’t have it, and to make it stronger for those who do.

  • Leftovers

    • Floating Graveyards: Let’s Not Revive the Cruise Industry

      Who in their right mind wants to resuscitate the cruise industry? Its wildly polluting, monstrously over-sized cruise ships routinely disgorge thousands of passengers into small port towns, literally overrunning them with tourists, and the entire industry promotes the most vulgar conspicuous consumption: pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of reclining on a deck chair alongside a pool built into a floating skyscraper. Why not just go to the beach? Oh, because that doesn’t cost money, or more accurately, doesn’t advertise that you have money to burn gazing at a chlorinated pool while surrounded by the salt water sea.

      Ever since 14 passengers died of covid on the Diamond Princess cruise ship last year, while it was quarantined at Yokohama, the industry has struggled. It’s no wonder. Lots of people crammed into enclosed areas are a perfect recipe for covid outbreaks. The virus loves such conditions. After the Diamond Princess fiasco, ports blocked many cruise ships. By May 2020, covid had struck over 40 of these floating high-rises. The industry basically shut down – with over 40,000 crew members stranded on ships in June 2020, a predicament that led to suicides.

    • Letters From Minsk: The Deathly Hallows

      A little after 6 a.m. (it was still dark) I got directions to the city center, where I began hunting for the Garni Hotel. As the crow rides, it should have been a ten- minute bicycle ride from the railroad station, but it took me 90 minutes to find the hotel, just down the street from the Europa Hotel (one of the places where I stopped to ask directions). Minsk is a you-can’t-get-there-from-here kind of place (directionally and politically).

      Lost in Space

    • We Need to Talk About Destroying America

      It’s important that we cleanse ourselves of any illusions pertaining to this country of ours. America was born an empire and it will die an empire. There is no once great nation to be saved. This creature began as a hideous mistake at best and a despicable conspiracy at worst. As flagrantly politically incorrect as I clearly enjoy being, those wokesters in the critical race theory market are right about at least one thing, this countries foundation wasn’t built on freedom and liberty. It was built on conquest, rape, slavery, and genocide, and the hustle never stopped. Over the centuries, we’ve evolved from small pocks and cotton to gunboat diplomacy and Manifest Destiny to a new world order and American exceptionalism.

      It is all part of the same narrative of power and violence. We dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan as they attempted to surrender. We bombed bridges in Korea and then machine gunned the survivors with babes in arms. We crippled half of Southeast Asia for generations with blankets of Agent Orange. We trained baby killers to rape nuns in Central America and then helped them to get away with their crimes. We carpet bombed miles of fleeing civilians on the Highway of Death in Iraq. We starved the survivors for a decade and then bombed them some more. Any one of these crimes should be sufficient enough to damn us all to hell, but it wasn’t like we all took it sitting down.

    • Bailiffs visit Moscow office of RFE/RL’s Russian Service

      On May 14, bailiffs visited the Moscow office of RFE/RL’s Russian service, Radio Svoboda, reported the independent television channel Dozhd. 

    • Tragedy and Hope on the Western Front
    • Hard Crackers: the Revolutionary Legacy of Noel Ignatiev

      I had no idea who Ignatiev was at the time but assumed that he was a radical academic who had a lengthy CV, with dozens of books and articles to his credit. In fact, this was the only book he had ever written. Based on his Harvard University history dissertation, it was produced under much different circumstances than by other PhD’s. To start with, Ignatiev had not even completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. It turned out that his reputation as one of the left’s most important public intellectuals helped open the door. He had dropped out in the late 50s in order to get a job in industry, just as I had in 1978 as part of the SWP’s “proletarianization” turn. I lasted one morning as a spot welder while Ignatiev held down one steel mill or factory job for the next 20 years. It was his experience working with white and black workers under unequal conditions in such places that provided the insights that led him to write “How the Irish Became White”, a book that while meeting Harvard’s scholarly expectations was also a call to struggle. Unlike the typical Marxist tome destined for the university library’s bookshelf, this one had a back cover blurb by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

      Imagine how surprised and delighted I was to get a Facebook friend request from Noel exactly twenty years after I bought his book. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that we were on the same wave length. We both found Sandernista versions of “democratic socialism” to be a mockery of the revolutionary socialism that both of us senior Marxist citizens still believed in. Noel was five years older than me but we were both 60s radicals. He started out as Communist Party member in the late 50s but departed as an “ultraleftist” opposed to Khrushchev’s reforms as part of a small group known as the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (POC). As silly and bombastic their name, this tiny sect had some formidable members besides Noel, including Theodore Allen and Nelson Peery. While much of their discussion revolved around the correct way to reinstitute proper Stalinist principles, they also began to explore the question of white supremacy that they felt key to the coming American revolution. Allen, a white man, would write “The Invention of the White Race”, a two-volume work, while Peery, an African-American, would contribute his own lived experience to their joint theoretical project.

    • Reading Together

      I miss the reading rooms most—the busy hush of reading and research underway; the reluctance of old pages being turned; the furtive glances at the mysterious materials laid out on the desk alongside, and at the person who’s ordered them; the fleeting eye contact made over the top of tomes …

      Most illustrious of them all was the Round Reading Room of the British Library built in the 1850s in the courtyard of the British Museum. I logged many hours there before it closed in 1997 when the library moved from the museum in Bloomsbury in London to its own new building in St. Pancras a half mile to the north. The old place had become too small, overrun—mostly by American academics, or would-be academics like me—when I frequented it in the 1990s.

    • Opinion | The Arts and Culture of a Just Transition

      A just transition means moving towards a regenerative economy, characterized by explicit anti-racist, anti-poverty, feminist, intersectional approaches to living.

    • America Belongs to the People—All the People

      I’ve seen this meme posted several times by various friends, and I’m always shocked by the large number of self-identified leftists who viciously defend the use of the word “America” to refer exclusively to the United States, and who refuse to consider that this dominant popular nomenclature could possibly be offensive to anyone, let alone large numbers of people throughout the Americas.

      When some of us who have spent time in Central and South America start pointing out how bothered some of our Latin American friends are by this usage, I’m often met with fierce denial, heated anger and ridicule, the likes of which I would expect from the far right-wing, but not from self-proclaimed leftists who pride themselves on being sensitive to the identity politics of the most marginalized and oppressed.

    • Michael Hiltzik on ‘No One Wants to Work!’

      This week on CounterSpin: A report showing that fewer jobs were added in April than expected has some business owners and media minions shaking heads and pointing fingers about how people “don’t want to work!”  Listeners will have heard the trope, providing a scarcely needed opening for shopworn right-wing assertions about how government assistance to keep folks’ head above water robs people (some people, mind you, it’s always only some people) of their work ethic.

    • Science

      • Freshly Made Plutonium From Outer Space Found On Ocean Floor

        Traces of rare forms of iron and plutonium have been found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, after some kind of cataclysm in outer space created this radioactive stuff and sent it raining down on our planet.

        The extraterrestrial debris arrived on Earth within the last 10 million years, according to a report in the journal Science. Once it hit the Pacific Ocean and settled to the bottom, nearly a mile down, the material got incorporated into layers of a rock that was later hauled up by a Japanese oil exploration company and donated to researchers.

      • Archivists Want to Make Sci-Hub ‘Un-Censorable’

        There are many papers that need to be downloaded. Sci-Hub is built out of 850 separate torrents housing 100,000 articles apiece, making the site’s entire database take up a whopping 77TB of data. While there’s a handful of torrenters working with Library Genesis to catalog as much as they can, the collective is trying to recruit at least 85 more data guzzlers to store 10 torrents apiece, adding that they should “reach out to 10 good friends” and ask them to torrent what they can. With enough people on board—the goal is 8,500 torrenters total—they’ll be able to siphon off the entire library.

      • Can We Look Forward to a New Decade of Innovation?

        Can we look forward to a new decade of innovation, asked The Economist in its January 16 issue. “The 2010s were marked by pessimism about innovation,” notes the issue’s overview article. “Productivity growth was lackluster and the most popular new inventions, the smartphone and social media, did not seem to help much… Promising technologies stalled, including self-driving cars, making Silicon Valley’s evangelists look naive.”

        “Today a dawn of technological optimism is breaking,” adds the article. Some giddily predict a new decade of progress, – a kind-of 21st century roaring Twenties. While some of this optimism may be overblown, “there is a realistic possibility of a new era of innovation that could lift living standards, especially if governments help new technologies to flourish.”

        There are historical precedents for such optimism. The Roaring Twenties was a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, as the country recovered from the dual devastations of World World I and the Spanish flu pandemic. Technological advances like electrification, consumer appliances, the mass production of cars, and the advent of commercial aviation transformed the US into the richest country in the world.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • NFL Denounced for Using Racist Criteria to Avoid Paying Black Retirees in Concussion Settlement

        “They come out with all these slogans like ‘We care’ and ‘Black Lives Matter,’” said former NFL player Kevin Henry. “And I’m sitting there, like, you’re lying.”

      • Pelosi Says Masks to Remain, Since Most GOP Lawmakers Aren’t Vaccinated
      • Food and Housing Hardship in the COVID-19 Recession

        This brief looks at food and housing insecurity from April 23, 2020, to March 29, 2021, and examines hardship by race, ethnicity, and family type using data collected from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. The data were collected over the Phases 1, 2 and 3, with each Phase representing roughly three months.

        The survey has been a useful tool in gathering data in a swift and efficient manner to assess and measure how the current recession is affecting American households and families on various fronts such as employment status, education disruptions, financial difficulties, mental health, transportation, vaccinations, and more.

      • What’s Up With the Herd?

        China was the early face of COVID-19, but it hasn’t faced many infections since last spring. Europe, like the United States, has experienced successive outbreaks. Brazil continues to be hit hard while Turkey is only now seeing a reduction of cases from a mid-April surge. Thailand and Cambodia are only now dealing with their first major upticks in the disease.

        But the real surprise has been India. Early on in the pandemic, journalists and scientists were trying to figure out why the virus had made so little mark on the subcontinent and left so few deaths in its wake. Now, after a collective sigh of relief following a modest surge in late summer and fall, India is now overwhelmed by over 400,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths a day, which are both likely to be undercounts.

      • ‘Reckoning for Roundup Rolls On’: Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Verdict in Case Against Monsanto

        Edwin Hardeman was awarded $25 million in his case which showed Monsanto was responsible for his cancer diagnosis after decades of using Roundup.

      • My Vaccine Experience

        I just got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The side effects weren’t pleasant, but they were manageable — I had about six hours of flu-like symptoms that started six hours after I got the shot, then a headache in the morning. Tylenol helped.

        I wasn’t excited about getting the shot. I’m wasn’t worried about the less than one in a million chance of blood clots, but I expected the flu-like symptoms and the headache and I dreaded them.

      • Viruses Know No Borders. Neither Should Vaccines.

        The eldest sister, Manju, was turned away from three medical clinics before she ran out of oxygen. The sole survivor of their nuclear family, Rajesh — or “Chotu” (“Little One”) — was left alone to manage the cremation of his three sisters.

        As India confronts the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, this story is repeating again and again, with no end in sight.

      • Nurses in the Real World of For-Profit Medicine

        For years Nurses’ Week celebrations have managed to celebrate nurses while trivializing their work.  The images mobilized during Nurses’ Week reinforce the most highly gendered and demeaning stereotypes of the profession, with nurses lauded not for their using their brains and mobilizing the knowledge and skill they master during nursing school and the expertise they acquire on the job, but for their selflessness and self-sacrifice, kindness, caring, and compassion.  Comparisons to saints and angels abound.  This year, another metaphor has been added to the list.  Nurses are heroes, extolled not for doing a job that has always been arduous and risky, but for their bravery, for going above and beyond.

        As the nation once again encourages nurses to soldier on at their posts, the gap between the saccharine rhetoric of Nurses’ Week and the grim reality of nurses’ work during the pandemic is even more glaring – and galling – than ever.  For the past nineteen months, nurses have experienced the consequences of hospitals’ short- term pursuit of profit and our nation’s failure to attend to even the barest necessities of preparedness for a predictable public health emergency.   In hospitals across the country, nurses have begged and pleaded for the kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) that would make them safe on the job.  In response, hospitals have fired or disciplined nurses who dared to speak out to the media, or even to their own hospital administration.  Since the pandemic began, nurses have begged for more staff to help them on wards and ICUs bursting with desperately ill and dying patients.  Instead of responding positively, even some hospitals who received federal bailout funds have furloughed nurses to save money.  While hospitals have lauded nurses for their heroism, some have even denied them sick pay or time off to recover from side effects of Covid-19 vaccines.  Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this pandemic is that the media has suddenly recognized that, oh my goodness, nurses actually do something useful in our healthcare system and have included nurses in the coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.  All one can say is better late than never.

      • Ebola Response Veterans Urge WHO to ‘Dramatically Expand’ Global Covid-19 Vaccine Access

        “Those of us who gave our all during the Ebola outbreak and survived it know that we cannot let our guard down. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

      • Roaming Charges: How Bio-Warfare Came to Colombia

        The big difference is that Saddam’s hideous use of poison gas against the Kurds and, most likely, against Iran occurred more than 15 years ago. After the Gulf War, Saddam’s mad pursuits had been more on the order of chemistry experiments in bombed out basements. But the Bush administration’s toxic war on Colombian peasants is happening now, day after day, in flippant violation of international law.

        Indeed, as Bush offered pious homilies on Iraq’s possible hoarding of so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction, his administration and its backers from both parties in Congress unleashed a new wave toxins in the mountains of Colombia, including a dangerous brew of biological weapons its proponents rather quaintly call mycoherbicides. Let us call it: Agent Green.

      • As Fish Die, Salmon Advocates Say Newsom’s Drought Declaration Highlights Water Injustice
      • The Missing Dead: How the Media Has Misreported COVID’s Toll in Poorer Nations

        Things are extremely difficult for people in those countries, but it isn’t true that Brazil and the US have the highest death rates. Almost all of the media have been reporting Covid-19 figures based on country totals, rather than per capita. This means that the biggest countries typically appear to be doing worse than smaller (and often poorer) countries. At the same time, the media uses official Covid-19 figures without clarifying how unreliable they are – again, more to the detriment of poorer or majority world countries. This is resulting in a distortion of the global situation.

        Here in Mexico, the majority of people who have died from Covid-19 did not get tested, and so they weren’t counted in the official numbers. They do not exist in the numbers that the media repeats over and over, without ever contextualizing them, without ever explaining that they are almost meaningless because testing is so inaccessible here.

      • A Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children Could Finally Be Banned

        In the majority opinion in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Regan, which was filed in 2007, Judge Jed Rakoff, a Clinton appointee, wrote, “[T]he EPA has spent more than a decade assembling a record of chlorpyrifos’s ill effects and has repeatedly determined, based on that record, that it cannot conclude, to the statutorily required standard of reasonable certainty, that the present tolerances are causing no harm,” adding that “EPA’s egregious delay exposed a generation of American children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos.” Rakoff was joined by Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, an Obama appointee.

        “Yet, rather than ban the pesticide or reduce the tolerances to levels that the EPA can find are reasonably certain to cause no harm, the EPA has sought to evade, through one delaying tactic after another, its plain statutory duties,” Rakoff wrote in the opinion, in which he stopped short of requiring the agency to ban the chemical, but left little room to keep it on the market. “The EPA must act based upon the evidence and must immediately revoke or modify chlorpyrifos tolerances.” Pregnant women and their fetuses, young children and farmworkers are particularly at risk from chlorpyrifos, which was first registered for use in 1965.

      • ‘Why We Need Medicare for All’: GOP Missouri Governor Rejects Ballot Mandate for Medicaid Expansion

        “Gov. Parson is openly adversarial to the people in our communities who have the least,” said Rep. Cori Bush. 

      • Accessibility Advocates Sign Open Letter Urging People Not To Use AccesiBe and Other Overlay Products

        A major part of the complaint is that these products are often marketed as quick-fix solutions that will make a website ADA compliant and immune from legal action. For example, the accessiBe website advertises the product as: “The #1 Automated Web Accessibility Solution for ADA & WCAG Compliance…A single line of code for 24/7 automated compliance.” Similarly, EqualWeb advertises making sites accessible by inserting “one line of code” to gain “compliance with WCAG 2.1, ADA, Section 508, AODA, EN 301549 and IS 5568.”

      • U-M study: Roads threaten bee movement, flower pollination

        In a paper published online May 10 in the Journal of Applied Ecology, University of Michigan researchers describe how they used fluorescent pigment as an analog for pollen. They applied the luminous pigment to the flowers of roadside plants to study how roads affected the movement of pollen between plants at 47 sites in Ann Arbor.

      • [Old] Facebook usage on smartphones and gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens

        A recent study has implicated the nucleus accumbens of the ventral striatum in explaining why online-users spend time on the social network platform Facebook. Here, higher activity of the nucleus accumbens was associated with gaining reputation on social media. In the present study, we touched a related research field. We recorded the actual Facebook usage of N=62 participants on their smartphones over the course of five weeks and correlated summary measures of Facebook use with gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens. It appeared, that in particular higher daily frequency of checking Facebook on the smartphone was robustly linked with smaller gray matter volumes of the nucleus accumbens. The present study gives additional support for the rewarding aspects of Facebook usage. Moreover, it shows the feasibility to include real life behavior variables in human neuroscientific research.

      • Just 12 People Are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes On Social Media, Research Shows

        Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Ireland refuses to pay ransom demand in attack on its national health service

          Micheál Martin, the country’s Taoiseach (prime minister), says Ireland will not be paying any ransom.

        • Cyber attack ‘most significant on Irish state’

          The health service has temporarily shut down its IT system to protect it after the attack.

        • ‘We will not be paying any ransom’ over cyber attack – Taoiseach

          The NCSC said it is also working with the HSE to identify the technical details of the malware used in the incident and will issue an advisory later to share these details.

        • Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats [iophk: Windows TCO]

          The Pipeline Security Act would codify the responsibility of both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) responsibility for securing pipelines against threats. The effort is being led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

          It would also require TSA to update pipeline security guidelines and conduct risk assessments, create a personnel strategy for staffing its Pipeline Security Section and improve congressional oversight of TSA’s pipeline efforts.

        • Universities need a better menu of defences against cyber-vultures [iophk: Windows TCO]
        • CIA-backed firm claims DarkSide ransomware site has shut down

          A CIA-backed threat intelligence firm claims the operator of the DarkSide ransomware gang has lost control of its infrastructure after the malware was used to attack the Colonial Pipeline Company in the US which runs the country’s biggest petrol pipeline.

        • Darkside ransomware gang says it lost control of its servers & money a day after Biden threat

          A day after US President Joe Biden said the US plans to disrupt the hackers behind the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, the operator of the Darkside ransomware said the group lost control of its web servers and some of the funds it made from ransom payments.

          “A few hours ago, we lost access to the public part of our infrastructure, namely: Blog. Payment server. CDN servers,” said Darksupp, the operator of the Darkside ransomware, in a post spotted by Recorded Future threat intelligence analyst Dmitry Smilyanets.

          “Now these servers are unavailable via SSH, and the hosting panels are blocked,” said the Darkside operator while also complaining that the web hosting provider refused to cooperate.

        • FBI Competent to take on Darkside?

          How many times have we seen the FBI and other US intelligence capabilities portrayed as deftly taking on our enemies. Now finally here is a really hard test for them to succeed in. Can they do it? We pay you for this, lets see it happen. Just publishing a warning is not enough. Soon.

        • Pipeline [Crack] Points to Growing Cybersecurity Risk for Energy System

          The audacious ransomware attack that shut down a major fuel pipeline and sent Americans scrambling for gasoline in the Southeast this week was not the first time [crackers] have disrupted America’s aging, vulnerable energy infrastructure. And it’s unlikely to be the last.

          Across the globe, cyberattackers are increasingly taking aim at the energy systems that underpin modern society. A February report from IBM found that the energy industry was the third most targeted sector for such attacks in 2020, behind only finance and manufacturing. That was up from ninth place in 2019.

        • Security

          • Held to Ransom: Colonial Pipeline and the Vulnerabilities of Critical Infrastructure

            The consequences are telling.  The operator, taken offline to enable an investigation to be conducted by US cybersecurity firm Mandiant; fuel left stranded at refineries in Texas; a spike in fuel prices at the pump – up six cents per gallon on the week to $2.967 per gallon of unleaded gasoline.  “Unless they sort it out by Tuesday,” warned oil market analyst Gaurav Sharma, “they’re in big trouble.”  The impact would be felt first in Atlanta, then Tennessee, perpetuating a domino effect to New York. “This is the largest impact on the energy system in the United States we’ve seen from a cyberattack, full stop,” opined Rob Lee of the cybersecurity firm Dragos.

            The company, in unconvincing tones, issued a statement that it was “continuing to work with third-party cybersecurity experts, law enforcement, and other federal agencies to restore pipeline operations quickly and safely.”  President Joe Biden rushed to calm fears that this had compromised fuel security.  “The agencies across the government have acted quickly to mitigate any impact on our fuel supply.” The deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies Anne Neuberger waffled to the press that the Biden administration was “taking a multi-pronged and whole-of-government response to this incident and to ransomware overall.”

          • Chinese Government’s Hacker Competition Is Being Used To Find Exploits To Wield Against Uighur Citizens

            Anything the Chinese government can weaponize against its Uighur Muslim population, it will. And has. Further details about an iPhone exploit discovered by Chinese hackers show the Chinese government got into the bug bounty program solely to find vulnerabilities to wield against the government’s least-liked residents.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • FISA Court Says FBI May Be Abusing Surveillance Powers; Will Continue To Allow It To Abuse Surveillance Powers

              Reform efforts following the Snowden leaks led to some minor improvements at the FISA Court. The USA Freedom Act gave the court permission to allow someone to present the side of the surveilled from time to time and introduced some reporting requirements that allowed Americans to see just a bit more about how their surveillance tax dollars were spent.

            • Facebook loses bid to block a potentially major change to EU data sharing

              Facebook first appealed the order in part because it claimed the Commission and the EU’s other privacy regulators were moving too quickly and hadn’t given the company appropriate time to respond. Facebook also told The Verge the IDPC’s privacy order “would have damaging consequences for the European economy.” Irish officials clearly didn’t share the same concerns.

            • Facebook Loses Challenge to Irish Watchdog’s Data Curbs

              That EU court ruling was quickly followed by a preliminary order from the Irish authority telling Facebook it could no longer use an alternative tool, known as standard contractual clauses, to satisfy privacy rules when shipping data to the U.S.

              Facebook then fought the Irish measures, urging watchdogs to “adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach until a sustainable long-term solution can be reached.” If made permanent, the order would mean the company could no longer use so-called standard contractual clauses for data transfers, the most commonly used remaining method.

            • Facebook loses bid to block Irish watchdog’s data flow decision

              Facebook lost a bid to block an Irish watchdog’s draft decision that could suspend the Silicon Valley giant’s ability to transfer data from the U.S. to the EU, according to a decision released by the Irish High Court Friday.

              The court rejected Facebook’s procedural complaints about the Irish Data Protection Commission’s preliminary decision from August to order the suspension of Facebook’s data flow between the U.S. and the EU.

              Justice David Barniville wrote in the court’s decision released Friday that Facebook “must fail on those grounds of challenge and that it is, therefore, not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in the proceedings.”

            • Austrian DPA has option to fine Google up to €6 billion

              Last summer, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled – already for the second time – that US surveillance laws generally make the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US illegal. Google continues to ignore this decision and now argues before the Austrian DSB (PDF) that it may continue to transfer data on millions of visitors of EU websites to the US – in blatant contradiction to the GDPR. The Austrian data protection authority (DSB) now has the option to fine Google up to €6 billion under the GDPR.

            • ‘Fuck This Court’: We Obtained Larry Flynt’s FBI File and It’s Pretty Wild

              To the FBI, he was a person of interest. His 322-page FBI file, obtained by VICE News through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains a wild litany of events involving the Hustler honcho—from John DeLorean’s cocaine bust and an alleged plot to hire a mercenary to kill Hugh Hefner and Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, to an alleged effort by Flynt to blow himself up in the Supreme Court, as well as threats to Sandra Day O’Connor and President Ronald Reagan.

              His FBI file focuses mainly on his activities in the 1980s, when his behavior was at its most erratic, but also when many of his important First Amendment battles came to a head.

              Flynt once described himself as a “smut peddler who cares,” but he also said it was his goal to “offend every single person in this world at some point.” Despite it all, he knew the law was on his side because, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you, because I’m the worst.”

              Here are the 10 wildest revelations from the FBI’s file on Flynt: [...]

    • Defence/Aggression

      • This Isn’t a Civil War, It Is Settler-Colonial Violence
      • Help Us Investigate the Vallejo Police Department

        Open Vallejo and ProPublica are investigating police in the small Bay Area city of Vallejo, where we have documented 33 killings by officers since 2000. Open Vallejo also revealed a tradition in which a group of officers throw parties and bend their badges after fatal shootings. Now, we could use your help for our next round of reporting.

        State law enforcement officials have started scrutinizing the department. Last year, in response to a series of high-profile police killings, the California Department of Justice opened a review of the department’s policies and practices, and on Thursday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that his office will launch an independent investigation into last summer’s police killing of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa. Police say a detective, who had three prior shootings, mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s hoodie for a gun. The city later found that Vallejo police had destroyed key evidence in the shooting.

      • Art Against Drones

        In late May, a Predator drone replica, appearing suddenly above the High Line promenade at 30th Street, might seem to scrutinize people below. The “gaze” of the sleek, white sculpture by Sam Durant, called “Untitled, (drone),” in the shape of the U.S. military’s Predator killer drone, will sweep unpredictably over the people below, rotating atop its 25-foot-high steel pole, its direction guided by the wind.

        Unlike the real Predator, it won’t carry two Hellfire missiles and a surveillance camera. The drone’s death-delivering features are omitted from Durant’s sculpture. Nevertheless, he hopes it will generate discussion.

      • Alliance of Democracies Summit: The Glass House Where the Power Elite Gather to Throw Stones

        The United States is the nation that most threatens democracy worldwide, far more than Russia or even China. That is the headline finding from a new worldwide poll of 53 countries commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies (AoD). The poll also found that the global public considers rising inequality and the increased power of the super rich to be the greatest threat to liberty and democracy.

      • Can DeCentralization Reduce Post-War Conflict in Afghanistan?

        The U.S. government appears to be resigned to a Taliban takeover, and hopes only for a kinder, gentler version of the fundamentalist Sunni theocracy that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. This, of course, still leaves non-Pashtun Sunni ethnicities, the Shia Hazara, and women of all communities out in the cold. The May 8 massacre of Hazara schoolgirls underscores the reality of the danger.

        There is a real solution that could preserve minority and women’s gains and prevent the country falling to the Taliban — or into civil war. There is still time to implement it if we can think clearly — and rapidly — about how we reached the present state of dysfunction.

      • Documents Show Trump Officials Used Secret Terrorism Unit to Question Lawyers at the Border

        Taylor Levy couldn’t understand why she’d been held for hours by Customs and Border Protection officials when crossing back into El Paso, Texas, after getting dinner with friends in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in January 2019. And she didn’t know why she was being questioned by an agent who’d introduced himself as a counterterrorism specialist.

        Levy was part of the legal team representing the father of a girl who’d died the previous month in the custody of the Border Patrol, which is part of CBP. “There was so much hate for immigration lawyers at that time,” she recalled. “I thought that somebody had put in an anonymous tip that I was a terrorist.”

      • Russia to postpone ban on U.S. embassy hiring foreign nationals

        The Russian government has announced its intent to postpone the enforcement of a ban on the U.S. embassy hiring foreign nationals, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow reported on May 14, adding that it would temporarily resume routine consular services for U.S. citizens through June 16.

      • ‘Any child’s death is a tragedy’ Russian authorities launch negligence probe after 17-year-old SMA patient dies while awaiting medication

        Investigators in Russia’s Novosibirsk region are looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 17-year-old girl, who was awaiting government-provided medication to treat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). According to regional prosecutors, the girl was supposed to receive the medication on June 1 but died in the hospital on May 9. Investigators are still determining whether negligence on the part of government officials led to the teenager’s death. According to media reports, this is the third minor with SMA who has died in Siberia over the past year and a half. All three deaths involved patients who were waiting for the government to issue prescribed medications.

      • Pashinyan asks Putin for military aid amid tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border

        Following the emergence of a new crisis at the border with Azerbaijan, Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, says he has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for military assistance, Interfax reported on May 14.

      • Philly Health Commissioner Resigns After Mayor Reveals MOVE Bombing Victims’ Remains Cremated in 2017

        As MOVE family members and hundreds of supporters held a memorial Thursday to mark the deadly May 13, 1985, police bombing of their home in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the resignation of the city’s top health official over stunning new revelations he cremated some of the bombing victims’ remains, including bone fragments, without the knowledge or permission of the families. This comes amid an ongoing investigation into how the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University came into possession of bones thought to belong to one or two MOVE children killed in the bombing. The police bombing of the home of the radical, Black liberation, anti-police-brutality group killed six adults and five children and burned down two city blocks.

      • Will the GOP Scaremonger Us Out of Child Care and Family Leave?

        Flailing Republicans are having a hard time figuring out how to oppose President Joe Biden’s popular proposals. They couldn’t stop the American Rescue Plan, targeted at helping the nation recover from the pandemic. Now Biden is pushing a big infrastructure bill that includes some old-fashioned priorities Abraham Lincoln would have recognized, especially rail, but also some things, like broadband and long-term care, that Lincoln, bless him, might not have imagined. Dwight Eisenhower built out the interstate highway system, but he couldn’t see broadband coming either.

      • Joe Biden’s Pentagon Honeymoon

        The first 100 days of President Joe Biden’s administration have come and gone. While somewhat exaggerated, that milestone is normally considered the honeymoon period for any new president. Buoyed by a recent election triumph and inauguration, he’s expected to be at the peak of his power when it comes to advancing the biggest, boldest items on his agenda.

      • Biden’s Decisions This Year Will Determine US Nuclear Weapons Policy for Decades

        A threat viewed as existential by bombmakers, presidents, and arms control activists since the first nuclear weapons were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, nuclear weapons deployed today have a capacity to destroy all life on Earth.

        Salvaging U.S. nuclear policy from the wreckage left by the Trump Administration, President Biden quickly renewed for five years the New START Treaty which limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads at 1,550 each for the U.S. and Russia

      • How the Modern NRA Was Born at the Border

        The Rifleman places the NRA in the broader context of how gun ownership has, since early in the nation’s founding, been central to enforcing a white nationalist vision of the United States.

        In making The Rifleman, I was interested in using Carter’s life to tell the story of the NRA beyond the limited context of the current debate over gun control, and instead place it in the broader context of how gun ownership has, since early in the nation’s founding, been central to enforcing a white nationalist vision of the United States. This continues the work of the films I have been making for the last eight or so years, which all explore how white supremacy operates within the mainstream, whether it’s through the proliferation of Confederate monuments (Graven Image, 2017) or the rise of the Tea Party (Town Hall, 2013, codirected with Jamila Wignot).

      • Deal Reached on 9/11-Style Commission for January 6 — But Roadblocks Remain
      • Rashida Tlaib Condemns Israeli Apartheid, Saying “It Must End”
      • Israel Isn’t Entitled to “Self-Defense” Against the People Under Its Occupation
      • Rep. Maloney’s Primary Challenger, Abdelhamid, Joins Dems Denouncing US Complicity in Israeli Violence

        “I don’t believe that Israel—or any country—should receive a blank check funded by American taxpayers to use in a way that violates our values and basic human rights.”

      • Peace in Palestine? Not if American Politicians Can Help It

        In a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, the members of Congress cautioned against “reducing funding or adding conditions on” US welfare checks (totaling $3.8 billion annually) to Israel.

        The letter name-checks US President Joe Biden, who, nearly a year ago tried to have it both ways — decrying Israeli annexation of Palestinian land and the eviction of Palestinian residents to make room for Israeli squatters (“settlers”), while likewise volubly assuring Jewish campaign donors,  “I’m not going to place conditions on security assistance.”

      • Pipeline Politics: From Afghanistan to Gaza

        Likewise, there is an oil and gas connection to the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinians.

        The TAPI Pipeline

      • End Military Support to Israel

        that he was happy to be back in country. “Because this time,” he said, swinging his hands to indicate the swarms of refugees, bombed-out villages and nearby artillery fire, “all this shit belongs to you.” He pointed at me, the American. I looked around and immediately drew the obvious conclusion: we should get the hell out of Afghanistan.

        That was 20 years ago. We were just getting in. But us being us—trying to win hearts and minds with corrupt proxies—and the Afghans being the Afghans—only able to agree on one thing, their intolerance of foreign domination—humiliating defeat and withdrawal were inevitable from the start.

      • Hanan Ashrawi & Rashid Khalidi: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim Palestinians

        Palestinian scholar Hanan Ashrawi says Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is turning life in the besieged territory into “sheer hell,” aided by U.S. military and diplomatic support. “Israel has total license to use unbridled power to kill and destroy and maim and get away with it,” Ashrawi says. We also speak with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, who says President Joe Biden’s continued defense of Israeli actions reflects long-standing erasure and dehumanization of Palestinians. “One wonders what proportion you have to have of Arab deaths, of Palestinian deaths, over Israeli deaths. Is it 20 to 1 before the United States finally begins to recognize that this is not legitimate self-defense?” Khalidi says. “This is a perfect illustration of the bias that has been a feature of American policy for many, many years.”

      • Watch Rep. Rashida Tlaib Blast U.S. Aid for Israel & Attack on Gaza in Dramatic House Floor Speech

        As the death toll in Gaza reaches at least 119 amid Israel’s escalation of its aerial assault, Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress, delivered a powerful speech on the House floor Thursday to denounce the violence and attempted erasure of the Palestinian people. “I am the only Palestinian American member of Congress now,” Tlaib said. “I am a reminder to colleagues that Palestinians do indeed exist.”

      • ‘All We Need Is Some More Courage From the World’

        Yesterday, without prior warning, a close relative of mine, 84, experienced an eruption of long-suppressed memories of his traumatic childhood during the 1948 Nakba, and was overcome by mixed feelings of ominous fear and liberating hope. While unbearable, the images of Israel’s latest massacre in the besieged Gaza Strip, euphemistically coded as “Guardian of the Walls,” did not bring him to this emotional tipping point, nor the images of the brutal repression of worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound or the relentless forcible displacement in Sheikh Jarrah and around occupied East Jerusalem. What did was the view, from his little balcony in Akka (Acre), of young Palestinians struggling to fend off a mob of far-right Jewish Israelis roaming the streets chanting “Death to Arabs” and hunting for Palestinians to lynch. This scene was repeated against Indigenous Palestinian communities in Lydda, Jaffa, Ramleh, Haifa, Bat Yam, and elsewhere, triggering calls for international protection.

      • Palestinian Lives, and Death: An Interview With Rachel Kushner

        Jon Wiener: The Palestinian refugee camp you wrote about in The Hard Crowd, Shuafat, is not in Gaza, or Southern Lebanon; it’s inside Jerusalem. You visited in 2016 when something called the Knife Intifada was going on, but your report is about ordinary life for Palestinian refugees at that time and in that place. What’s going on now in Israel and Palestine is so much worse—when you were in Shuafat, Israeli planes were not bombing Gaza and killing children—Israeli forces had not attacked the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, at the end of Ramadan, and injured hundreds of Palestinians. I almost said that, when you were in Shuafat in 2016, things were “more peaceful”—but that’s not really the right way to describe it.

      • As Israel’s Attack Mounts, Biden Says It’s “Not Been a Significant Overreaction”
      • 100+ Groups Condemn Israeli Violence in East Jerusalem and Gaza

        The groups’ statement says the current conflagration is part of a “broader context of Israel’s ongoing policy to forcibly remove Palestinians from their homes through eviction, home demolition, and displacement.” 

      • Opinion | Israel Is Carrying Out Mass Murder, Aided and Abetted by the US

        Israel is not exercising “the right to defend itself” in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime. 

      • Sanders Says Biden Must Pick Ambassador Who Won’t Blindly Back Right-Wing Israeli Government

        “I encourage him to choose someone who can represent our country in an even-handed way, and who can engage not only with Israel but with the Palestinians as well.”

      • The Nakba Continues
      • Thoughts on Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

        The American “political class” runs a white supremacy state; to them, a threat to white supremacy anywhere is a threat to white supremacy everywhere. Hence the knee-jerk fealty to ethnic cleansing in Palestine by Zionists.

        This is as it has always been and remains regarding “others” in the territory of the United States and the Western Hemisphere, with: the Amerindians, Blacks (long held in slavery, and ever discriminated against), Mexicans (the American West north of the Rio Grande is Occupied Mexico), and many other designated apart-from-white people.

      • Facebook, Social Media Giants Admit to Silencing Palestinian Voices Online

        In a video posted on activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace’s Twitter account, Muna El-Kurd explained why social media is so vital for the Palestinian cause.

      • ‘Palestinian Lives Matter,’ Declares Bernie Sanders in NYT Op-ed

        “If the United States is going to be a credible voice on human rights on the global stage, we must uphold international standards of human rights consistently.”

      • IDF ‘Willfully’ Misled Media About Ground Invasion to Lure Gaza Fighters Into Tunnels: Report

        The Israeli military spokesperson’s office communicated directly with reporters just after midnight Friday, claiming a ground invasion was underway.

      • Opinion | More Than 100 Killed as Israel Intensifies Gaza Onslaught

        Israeli bombing has destroyed or severely damaged more than 18 buildings and 350 housing units in Gaza since Monday, displacing some 500 families.

      • Opinion | Shooting Fish in a Barrel: Israel Bombs Palestinian Refugees From Israel in Gaza, 50% Of Them Children

        There is no equivalence between Israel and Gaza.

      • Biden Claims Israeli Attack on Gaza Is Not an ‘Overreaction’ as Onslaught Intensifies, Death Toll Mounts

        “With its unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support of the Israeli apartheid regime, the U.S. bears responsibility for the everyday violence of Israeli oppression.”

      • “Precision” Weapons Are Part of the Ugly, Ongoing Story of the War on Terror

        Calling a weapon of the kind used in the Biden administration’s strike on Syria “precise” doesn’t actually mean much when it comes to the effects of these bombs. According to the DoD, a precision-guided munition is simply “a guided weapon intended to destroy a point target and minimize collateral damage.” According to a Congressional Research Service report, precision-guided munitions (also called GPMs) usually use GPS, laser guidance, or inertial navigation systems to improve a weapon’s accuracy. There is a difference between “precision” and “accuracy” when it comes to weapon technology. Michael N. Schmitt, professor of international law at the U.K.’s University of Reading, explains that it is in fact accuracy and not “precision” that describes “a weapon’s capacity to strike the precise point at which it is aimed.” As such, precision-guided munitions can help to make air strikes and other uses of force more accurate — but this doesn’t mean that “accuracy” is always achieved. Accuracy is usually measured by what is known as circular error probability (aka CEP), the distance from the aim point within which 50% of the weapons will impact. As Maja Zehfuss, professor of international politics at the University of Manchester, points out, this means that the “precision” “claimed for a weapon is, even under test conditions, normally achieved only every other time…. In the other 50% of cases, it will land somewhere else.” Perhaps most importantly, saying that a precision weapon was used to accurately strike a target doesn’t mean that you are bombing a valid target, it doesn’t mean that you are hitting the “right person,” and it certainly doesn’t mean that your strike complies with international law.

      • Drone Whistleblower Jailed Ahead Of Sentencing

        Since Hale’s case is in the Eastern District of Virginia, he is detained in the Alexandria Detention Center, where U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in 2020 while she was resisting a grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks. It is also where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be jailed if he was extradited to the U.S. for a trial.

        Hale is set to be sentenced in July. He could be sentenced to anywhere from three to five years.

        Under President Barack Obama’s administration, he helped expose the targeted assassination program, including drone warfare.

      • The Curse of Natural Gas

        The Mozambique army appears to be hopelessly unprepared. Often, soldiers tear off their uniforms and flee into the bush when the insurgents attack. The United Nations has warned that the security situation in the country has massively deteriorated. Around 700,000 people have been displaced thus far, with only very few daring to return home.

        Since 2019, the rebels have also been carrying out attacks in Tarmamade’s district of Ibo. Around 27,000 people from the mainland have sought protection in his district, bringing stories with them of expulsions, rape, suffering and murder.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • New: View an Organization’s Employees and Officers on Nonprofit Explorer

        On Friday, we updated our Nonprofit Explorer database in two big ways. First, we’ve added the ability to view key employees and officers right on an organization’s page. Second, we’ve updated and extracted a ton of fresh data beyond our normal tax filing updates, adding millions of new employee records and tens of thousands of new audits.

        Now, on an organization’s page on Nonprofit Explorer, you’ll notice a new section below each entity’s financial information for each fiscal year. In that section, you’ll find up to 25 key employees and officers of the organization, along with each person’s role and compensation.

    • Environment

      • Here’s What Climate-friendly Shareholders Are Demanding of Major Emitters This Year

        Activists are hoping to see shareholders ramp up pressure on the world’s highest-emitting companies over their inaction on climate change, as companies prepare for their Annual General Meetings (AGMs). 

        AGMs, most of which will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offer an opportunity for a company’s shareholders to scrutinise its board, vote on resolutions, and express concerns about the direction it’s taking.

      • New Study Decodes ExxonMobil’s ‘Modern’ Climate Misinformation

        What’s the single word that fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil’s flagship environmental reports to investors and the public tie most closely to climate change and global warming?

        According to newly published research from Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard research associate Geoffrey Supran, it’s a simple four-letter word, one that carries overtones not only of danger, but also — crucially — of uncertainty: risk.

      • Opinion | What’s Missing From Biden’s Climate Agenda?

        A fair-shares approach to global climate justice could help save the “net zero 2050″ strategy.

      • How Big Green Lost Its Way

        If Bright Green Lies – How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Kieth and Max Wilbert does anything, it obliterates this mindless pro-Endless Growth/“Jobs” nonsense!

        “The living planet and nonhumans both have the right to exist.”

      • Opinion | Who Funds the Climate Crisis?

        For fossil fuel companies, what drives their profit is ownership of carbon in the ground. That’s why they have spent billions of dollars stoking the climate denial industry and fighting regulations.

      • We Should Address the Greatest Threats to Our Safety and Security!

        We face three global issues that threaten all people of all nations. They are: climate, pandemics, and international conflict leading to deliberate or inadvertent nuclear war. These three existential threats have the potential to rob us and future generations of our lives, our liberties, and our pursuit of happiness.

        One of the primary purposes of a government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Nothing jeopardizes our safety and security more than these three threats. While they grow each year, our government continues to behave in ways that undermine our safety and security by fighting endless hot and cold wars that cause great harm and distract us from addressing the major threats.

      • Energy

        • Black Snake and Our National Disgrace: Pipelines Across Sacred Land

          Sixty years later, Kennedy’s statement is still largely true, though Indians made history and headlines during the occupation (or was it the liberation?) of Alcatraz in 1969-1970, the occupation at Wounded Knee in 1973, and the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in 2016, when demonstrators briefly stopped the flow of oil from the Bakken Formation in the northern plains to the rest of the nation.

          Again and again, over the past 250 years, the U.S. as a nation, a culture and as a world power, has tried to erase, ignore and forget about Native Americans. Again and again, Native Americans have refused to be erased, ignored and forgotten. They have survived cultural warfare, the might of the American military and the onslaughts of corporate power.

        • Old King Coal is forced at last to pull out of Asia

          Solar is much better than fossil fuel for bringing electricity to the poor, so Old King Coal is quitting Asia.

        • How the USPS mail trucks could still go fully electric

          Sticking with gas doesn’t make much sense in a world where electric vehicles are growing increasingly popular and governments outside the US are laying out timelines for banning gas vehicles. The short stop-and-go routes that most mail carriers take are well-suited for electric vehicles, even ones without an abundance of range. The USPS doesn’t break out its fleet emissions in its sustainability reports (and it declined to do so when asked), but it’s safe to say switching to electric could help the agency cut way back on fossil fuel usage.

        • How to keep Netflix from gobbling up too much data

          Just watching standard-definition video on Netflix consumes a gigabyte of data every hour. If you crank up your video quality to HD, that amount triples to about 3GB an hour. And if you go whole-hog with Netflix’s Ultra HD (a.k.a. 4K) offerings, be prepared for Netflix to gobble a whopping 7GB an hour.

        • India’s digital energy consumption to grow at twice the average global rate through 2023

          India’s digital energy consumption will increase by 16 per cent every year through 2023 — a growth rate twice the world average, according to a new study.

          The energy consumption in India attributable to digital technologies – including production and purchase of devices and electricity consumption due to utilizations – is set to jump from 95 Terra Watt Hour (TWh) recorded in 2017 to 239 TWh in 2023, the report titled “Lean ICT–towards digital sobriety” said.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • 10 New Books About Wildlife and Our Relationship With Animals
        • Big and Bad National Forest Clearcuts Continue

          Clearcutting is occurring throughout the Northern Rockies. The Kootenai National Forest’s Black Ram logging project calls for clearcutting 1,783 acres in grizzly bear habitat and in federally- designated lynx Critical Habitat. The Flathead National Forest wants to clearcut 468 acres of grizzly and lynx habitat between Swan Lake and Flathead Lake.

          Clearcuts and their logging roads are very bad for grizzly bears. Most grizzlies killed by poachers are within 500 yards of a logging road because clearcuts don’t provide any hiding over from poachers. It is much easier to see a grizzly from a road in the middle of a clearcut than from a road through a thick forest.

        • Postcard from The Falklands: ‘We’ve visited beaches untouched for 40 years’

          Cruise ships have been absent so locals have had the penguins, sea lions and rugged countryside all to themselves

        • Whale Dreams
        • Wilderness and the Value of Doing Nothing

          As tough as the species is, whitebark pine is facing mounting pressures from climate change, decades of fire suppression, blister rust, mountain pine beetles, and competing conifers migrating to higher elevations in response to warming temperatures.  Already found at high elevations, many worry that whitebark pine will have nowhere to run. This cocktail of stressors has landed whitebark pine on the short-list for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Unfortunately, the proposed listing rule allows logging and other “forest management” activities in whitebark pine habitat, and is, per usual, loudly silent on actions that might address the underlying causes of global warming.  Instead, it focuses heavily on intervention and manipulation strategies—like selectively breeding and planting blister rust resistant trees, pruning and thinning stands, fighting back other migrating conifers with logging, applying insecticides and pheromones, and even wrapping pinecones in wire mesh to keep red squirrels and Clark’s nutcrackers from getting at the seeds.

          This is a familiar story.  Humans are exceedingly bad at exercising restraint and simply not doing things.  Rather than drastically reducing consumption, travel, recreation, and development—things that take real personal and political sacrifice but create space for other species to exist—we put an enormous amount of effort into developing technologies that enable us to continue with business as usual or at least provide a veil of plausible deniability regarding our impact on the world.  Slap enough windmills on the hilltops, and we’ll never have to slow down.  Gather enough data on wildlife, and we can invade their space with abandon.  Or, worst case, fire up the helicopters, pluck the critters from their homes, slap tracking collars on their necks, and drop them elsewhere.  There is a deep tendency to treat everything as if it is merely an engineering challenge that is solvable with enough data and ingenuity (and money).

      • Overpopulation

        • [Old] Urban Careers and the Twenty-Ninth Day

          Lily pads on lakeA helpful way for young math students to grasp the concept of exponential growth is to look at water lilies growing on a pond. They grow exponentially and double in area each day. If they will fully cover the pond by the 30th day, on what day is the lake half covered? The twenty-ninth day[1].

        • [Old] For the love of money

          Since 1996, leaders of the Sierra Club have refused to admit that immigration driven, rapid U.S. population growth causes massive environmental problems. And they have refused to acknowledge the need to reduce U.S. immigration levels in order to stabilize the U.S. population and protect our natural resources. Their refusal to do what common sense says is best for the environment was a mystery for nearly a decade.

        • [Old] Exponential Growth and Doubling Time

          Picture a pond with a single lily pad. Suppose that each day the number of leaves doubles, until the pond is completely covered by leaves on the thirtieth day. First question: On what day was the pond half-covered? Second question: One-quarter covered? Third question, this one with no strict answer: On what day did people who love the pond realize there was a growth problem?

    • Finance

      • California Trial of Universal Basic Income Inspires More Cities to Follow Suit
      • The Economic Recovery Is Mostly Benefiting White Families
      • How Corporations Pumped Up CEO Pay While Their Low-Wage Workers Suffered in the Pandemic
      • Return to the Joys of Full-Time Office Work? No, Thanks.

        Apparently, it’s time for everybody to go back to in-person work. Obviously, essential workers never stopped going to work in-person. And service workers, factory workers, and everybody else whose jobs cannot be done online have been physically back at work, putting their health and safety on the line for the economy, for some time now.

      • Inflation Myths and the US Economic Rebound 2021

        Republicans, conservatives, and business interests are using the fact of recent rising prices to attack legislative proposals to increase government spending. They argue the recently passed $1.8 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ (Covid Relief Plan) by the Biden administration was too generous. And proposals to spend on Infrastructure ($2.2T) and American Families ($1.5T) will only stoke consumer spending and boost inflation further.

        They and their mainstream media friends are arguing that fiscal stimulus putting money in the hands of households is driving up prices. In other words, consumer DEMAND is now causing prices to rise sharply, they argue.

      • Elon Musk Abruptly Stops Accepting Bitcoin to Pay for Tesla Cars. Did He Learn that Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Per Year than Sweden or Malaysia?

        Elon Musk claims he wants to move the world toward a more environmentally sustainable future. Bitcoin is a sharp contradiction to that position.

        Terawatt-hours (TWh) are a standard unit used to measure electricity consumption. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), Bitcoin is consuming more terawatt-hours than Sweden or Malaysia and close to the consumption of Egypt (a nation of 104 million people). (See chart above from CBECI.)

      • Billions for Farmers of Color isn’t Racist, It’s Smart and Long Overdue

        You should also be aware that the Biden administration is being sued by several white farmers for racial discrimination – not for the government’s past actions against people of color, but because the current administration is making an effort to address racism and the historic inequalities inflicted on people of color by the USDA.

        Before we get into why Biden’s multi-billion dollar designation to farmers of color is not racist, let’s get into some important details of this $1.9 trillion stimulus.

      • Capitalism and Fascism

        The purpose in going down this path is to suggest that the current liberal insight that getting the rich and powerful to give a little back and to do a better job of at least pretending to give a shit about the rest of us would go a long way toward reducing political tensions. However, it isn’t the attitude that is the problem. Three or four decades have passed since Michigan autoworkers and Chiapas farmers were left to their own devices. Every year and decade since have seen social and economic degradation rise on the part of the powerless, as it falls on the part of the architects and engineers of this process.

        The ‘American’ insight currently on display— that history has been one long cobbling together of short-term fixes, faces the challenge back that the last five decades of neoliberalism were planned and systematically implemented, not a cobbling together of short-term fixes. The short-term fixes were to smooth the path for more neoliberalism. The creators of neoliberalism understood that their project was political. It is a politics that one group of people— the rich and their agents, have unilaterally imposed on the West.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | If the Democrats Don’t Pick Up the Pace All Could Be Lost

        Democrats have to get rid of the Senate filibuster and stop worrying about bipartisanship.

      • Republicans Oppose Kristen Clarke for DOJ Job in Latest Attack on Voting Rights
      • Opinion | The Republican War on Facts and Voting Rights

        Across the country, voter suppression bills are being rushed through Republican-controlled state legislatures.

      • After Deranged Marjorie Taylor Greene Video Emerges, AOC Laments Colleague Who Is ‘Deeply Unwell’

        “If the shoe were on the other foot, the GOP would be calling for my expulsion,” said the New York Democrat.

      • Unchartered Territory: Legal, Political and Public Policy Contradictions of Charter Revision in Detroit

        The document has come under intense attack by the mayor, the city’s corporation counsel and its chief financial officer. The governor refused to approve it under state law, but on May 13 the city election commission voted to put it on the ballot. Litigation, including appeals, may be imminent. The ultimate outcome is impossible to predict.

        The issues are very important. Most public discussion of this proposed charter revision so far has been limited to 1) cost; and/or 2) illegality. I will discuss each of these issues in turn, and then turn to a broader discussion.

      • Republicans Oppose Kristen Clarke for Top Civil Rights Job at DOJ in Latest Attack on Voting Rights

        Republican senators in Washington are attempting to block Kristen Clarke, a prominent voting rights advocate, from a top Justice Department position. The Senate Judiciary Committee has deadlocked on an 11-11 vote on whether to move Clarke’s nomination for assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to the Senate floor for a full vote. If she wins the vote, Clarke, who has served as the head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is a longtime champion of voting rights, a defender against hate and violent extremism, would be the first Black woman to hold the position. Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way and former president of the NAACP, says the campaign against Clarke’s nomination is based on falsehoods, including baseless claims of anti-Semitism. “The way that they’ve lied about her really is a new low,” Jealous says, who links Republican obstruction to the party’s larger assault on voting rights.

      • Is Joe Biden Schizophrenic?

        On the one hand, his domestic initiatives have been promising. According to one commentator following Biden’s April 28 presentation of his agenda to a joint session of Congress one day short of his 100 days in office, Biden “is looking to correct a capitalist economy that has gone askew, and reclaim a lost vision of shared prosperity.”

        As proof of this promising look – obviously dependent on help from Republicans – John Cassidy of The New Yorker focuses on Biden’s American Jobs Plan and Biden’s American Families Plan. Cassidy says the first “would have increased federal spending on transportation, green energy, and scientific research and development.” According to Biden, it would create “millions of good-paying jobs, jobs Americans can raise a family on.”

      • Labour’s Defeat and Sir Keir Starmer’s Grey Fade into Irrelevance

        As the Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Starmer initially refused to prosecute the police officer Simon Harwood in relation to the killing of the newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson.  After massive public pressure and a separate internal inquest, Sir Starmer’s office reluctantly agreed to charge Harwood with manslaughter, but it was too little, too late, and the officer was acquitted.  In the shockingly similar case of Jean Charles de Menezes whereby police officers had again slain a civilian bystander who had committed no crime, Sir Starmer also chose to fortify state power and refuse to prosecute.   In that same period, however, his office oversaw the successful prosecution of a twenty-three year old student for a somewhat lesser crime. The student in question had stolen a bottle of water during the 2011 riots sparked by the police killing of the unarmed black man Mark Duggan  and was sentenced to six months in prison.  There were a slew of sentences for many other such petty infractions.

        In his time as the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Starmer fought to make sure British soldiers who were accused of torture and war crimes would be immune from prosecution, even going so far as to fire one of his own MPs who voted against the bill that would sanction such measures. In that same role, he advocated immunity for those cops who infiltrate protest movements, disguising their identities while pursuing sexual relationships with female activists – committing what some people have described as ‘state-sanctioned rape’.

      • Can a Dutch Red-Green Coalition Point the Way Forward in Europe?

        Altogether, left-wing parties secured only 33 of 150 seats in the Dutch elections in March. The big question is: why is the left losing people and not only in the Netherlands?

        At the beginning of the joint manifesto of the Red- Green (Roodgroen) initiative , members of the Labor Party (PvdA) and GreenLeft (GL) stress that sometimes it is necessary to step back in order to jump further. Their manifesto avoids using “merger” but instead promotes closer cooperation on the left.

      • Looming Texas Law Would Allow Anti-Choice ‘Vigilantes’ to Sue Anyone Who ‘Aids or Abets’ an Abortion

        “There’s no low these legislators won’t sink to in their efforts to gut Roe v. Wade and push abortion care as far out of reach as possible,” said one rights advocate.

      • ‘Where Are the Moderate Hindus?’

        “Where are the moderate Hindus?”

      • Why One State in India Is Showing Promising Signs of Democracy as the World Goes More Authoritarian

        Her response—which went viral—conveyed the mood of the recent election in Kerala, which was won by the LDF. The LDF won 99 of the 140 seats in the Kerala assembly elections; 67 of these seats were won by candidates of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). It was the first time since 1980 that an incumbent party or coalition had been able to win a second consecutive term in Kerala.

        Most people in Kerala were uninterested in the dangerous flippancy of the right-wing politics represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party—in power at the center in India—which is keener to talk about anything other than issues that concern people’s material conditions of life such as the pandemic and its social impact on their lives. The LDF leadership, on the other hand, has been focused on the pandemic and on providing the materials necessary for relief to the people in the state during the second wave of the COVID-19 crisis that the country is witnessing presently. Mass organizations of the Left and community organizations joined the state government in efforts to take care of the people. As a result, Kerala has so far been able to tackle the pandemic crisis better than other parts of India.

      • Progressives Pressure Senate to Reject Biden Pick of ‘Disgraceful’ Rahm Emanuel for Japan Ambassador

        “Emanuel’s abysmal record as mayor of Chicago disqualifies him to represent the United States in a foreign capital.”

      • President Biden Revokes Unconstitutional Executive Order Retaliating Against Online Platforms

        Biden’s rescission of the Executive Order comes after a coalition of organizations challenging the order in court called on the president to abandon the order last month. In a letter from Rock The Vote, Voto Latino, Common Cause, Free Press, Decoding Democracy, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, the organizations demanded the Executive Order’s rescission because “it is a drastic assault on free speech designed to punish online platforms that fact-checked President Trump.”

        The organizations filed lawsuits to strike down the Executive Order last year, with Rock The Vote, Voto Latino, Common Cause, Free Press, and Decoding Democracy’s challenge currently on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Center for Democracy & Technology’s appeal is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit.

        Cooley LLP, Protect Democracy, and EFF represent the plaintiffs in Rock The Vote v. Biden. We applaud Biden’s revocation of the “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship,” and are reviewing his rescission of the order and conferring with our clients to determine what impact it has on the pending legal challenge in the Ninth Circuit.

      • Pollokshields Shows How To Achieve Independence

        Kenmure Street stood outside UK law yesterday, as Westminster legislation on immigration, opposed by the people of Scotland, could not physically be enforced by agents of the state. What the people did was gloriously, joyfully illegal. Its illegality must be embraced, not skated over by politicians worried at the precedent of people power.

      • Dear EU: Please Don’t Ruin the Root

        I love Europe, and I want to see the European Union succeed. I also love the Internet, and I want to see it thrive as well. And it therefore pains me that it now appears that the European Union might inadvertently be picking an ugly fight with “The Internet”.

        What is going on? A new EU directive is currently making its way through the various EU bodies. This Proposal for directive on measures for high common level of cybersecurity across the Union is the successor of the initial attempt known as the NIS Directive.

        This directive creates rules for “essential and important entities” so they adhere to minimum Cybersecurity standards. Although it is for now somewhat up in the air who exactly would count as such an entity, it is sure to include national telecommunication companies, Google and many other major communication hubs. Many of these are already regulated in various ways.

        Surprisingly however, the European Commission version of the directive explicitly includes all the root servers, the infrastructure that keeps the [Internet] alive.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • A badge of quality: Meduza supports its colleagues at VTimes, which the Russian authorities just designated as a fellow ‘foreign agent’

        On Friday, May 14, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated the news outlet VTimes as a “foreign agent.” This comes less than a month after the Russian authorities added Meduza to the same government registry.

      • Independent outlet VTimes joins Meduza on Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ news media list

        Meduza has new company on Russia’s registry of “foreign agent” media outlets. On Friday, the Justice Ministry designated the independent news outlet VTimes, claiming that the online publication “fulfills the functions of a foreign agent.”

      • Victory! California City Drops Lawsuit Accusing Journalists of Violating Computer Crime Law

        The city’s lawsuit against the bloggers and the website Friends For Fullerton’s Future alleged, in part, that the bloggers violated the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act because they improperly accessed non-public government records on the city’s file-sharing service that it used to disclose public records. But the settlement agreement between the city and bloggers shows those allegations lacked merit and badly misrepresented the city’s online security practices. It also vindicates the bloggers, who the city targeted for doing basic journalism.

        The city’s poor approach to online security was apparent from the start. The city used Dropbox to create a shareable folder, which it called the “Outbox,” that was publicly accessible to anyone who had the link. And evidence in the lawsuit showed that city officials did not enable any of Dropbox’s built-in security features, such as requiring passwords or limiting access to particular individuals, before making the Outbox link publicly accessible.

        Then the city widely shared the Outbox URL with members of the public, including the bloggers, when disclosing public records and for other city business. And because there were no restrictions or other controls on the Outbox folder, anyone with the link could access all the files and subfolders it contained, including files city officials claimed should not have been publicly accessible.

      • Proposed Iranian law would ban US, British journalists and media

        Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the latest censorship attempt in Iran, in the form of a proposed law currently before the Iranian parliament that would ban US and British journalists from entering Iran and would ban the Iranian media from reporting anything that the US and British media publish. RSF urges Iran’s parliamentarians to reject the entire bill.

      • Iran Urged To Stop Jailing, Harassing Kurdish Journalists

        The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is urging Iran to stop its imprisonment and harassment of Kurdish journalists amid what human rights groups have denounced as a crackdown on members of the minority group.

        In a statement late on May 12, the New York-based media-freedom watchdog cited news reports and sources familiar with the cases as saying that Iranian authorities had arrested at least eight Kurdish journalists since May 2020.

        Three of them — Navid Seyed-Mohammadi, Jafar Osafi, and Nasrullah Lashani — remain in detention.

      • The conviction of Niger newspaper editor Moussa Aksar is an attack on investigative journalism

        “The system for misappropriation of funds disclosed by this journalist is bad enough and to it we must now add his conviction for carrying out his outstanding investigative work,” commented Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “This decision will serve to encourage bad governance and is an attack on investigative journalism in Niger. The message it sends out is a disaster. RSF pledges its full support for this editor and demands his acquittal at the appeal hearing.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Seaspiracy’s Nightmarish Odyssey

        The opening scene of the film sets the tone with a long-shot of an isolated fishing trawler at sea as the voice-over of a former fishing vessel crew member, who escaped forced slavery after 10 years non-stop at sea, exclaimed: “When ships are in the middle of the ocean. When problems occur. They can throw you overboard into the sea. It is dangerous for you to make this documentary. There are many risks.” A second escapee intones: “If you’re scared of dying, go home.”

      • ‘Nothing Is More Beautiful Than Solidarity’: Hundreds Mobilize to Stop Arrest of Immigrant Neighbors in Glasgow

        “This is what we need to be prepared to do again and again as the Tories bring in their new immigration proposals and demonize asylum seekers and refugees,” said MP Kim Johnson.

      • The Fierce Prophetic Vision of Poor Women

        In the midst of another national trauma, with the latest Mother’s Day just past, perhaps it’s an auspicious moment to celebrate not just mothers, but women more generally. I think about countless women like my mom (who died nearly a year ago) enduring tremendous adversity to make ends meet and care for those they love. During the pandemic, after all, women have found themselves on the front lines in so many ways. They make up more than 75% of healthcare workers, almost 80% of frontline social workers, and more than 70% of government and community-based service workers. Add in one more thing: women have been hit first and worst by the economic crisis that Covid-19 set off, as female-dominated industries like retail, leisure, and hospitality were decimated.

        The situation continues to be so dire for women that economists have even begun to talk about a “shecession.” A recent poll found that a quarter of women claimed they were financially worse off a year into the pandemic. In March, the percentage of women out of, or looking for, work was the highest it’s been since December 1988. For the first time in American history, job and income losses in an economic crisis have been worse for women than for men. And it’s been poorer women and women of color who have been hit hardest of all.

      • Moscow Metro fires dozens of employees who registered for Navalny solidarity protest

        The Moscow Metro has laid off around 40 employees in connection with last month’s demonstrations in support of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny, reports Open Media, citing Vasily Shelyakov, the deputy chairman of the independent trade union GUP Moskovsky Metropoliten.

      • More DHS “pre-crime” policing, but still no real “precogs”

        The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced the formation and rebranding of new and existing DHS components into what it is now calling the DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (“C3P” in milspeak).

        C3P is explicitly intended to be a “precrime” crime prevention agency, and to teach and promote “precrime” techniques for predicting future crimes and identifying future criminals to other Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. According to the DHS press release announcing the formation of C3P, “DHS’s efforts are grounded in an approach to violence prevention that leverages behavioral threat assessment and management tools, and addresses early-risk factors that can lead to radicalization to violence.”

        C3P’s attempts to predict future crimes are to be based on behavioral patterns, i.e profiling, and on encouraging members of the public to inform on their families, friends, and classmates. According to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, future criminals “typically exhibit behaviors that are recognizable to many but are best understood by those closest to them, such as friends, family, and classmates.”

      • Siberian prison installs red phone booths to create ‘London atmosphere’

        Though it’s located in Russia’s Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Correctional Facility No. 8 has adopted some of London’s style. The phones available to prisoners in the facility are now housed in bright red booths, complete with the word “Telephone” in English. 

      • The Workers They Called “Non-People”
      • If You Want More Workers, Pay a Living Wage

        Across the country, local media coverage has been filled with stories of business owners lamenting that they are unable to fill positions as economies reopen.

        “We are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff who did show up. Nobody wants to work anymore,” reads a sign outside a McDonalds drive-thru window in Texas, according to a viral internet video.

      • 13 Facts About American Prisons That Will Blow Your Mind

        If you grew up in the United States, like I did, then you probably think prisons are a fact of life. We just go through our day-to-day assuming that a huge chunk our population must be hardened criminals (which is very different from hard criminals: scalawags involved in burgling while aroused) and that without prisons these delinquents would be running everywhere, breaking things, kicking squirrels in the face, and urinating in your car window while you’re at a stoplight. We just assume prisons have been around forever — as if back in caveman times they had one of the caves walled off with sticks and vines where they kept Blartho because he was a real a-hole.

        Yet, the truth is that large prisons were not a thing in America or really anywhere in the world until the 1800s. That’s the first in this list of 13 facts about American prisons that will blow your mind. (Pared down and adjusted from my previous list of 1,234 facts about American prisons that will give you liver damage.)

      • Larry Krasner—and the Future of the Criminal Justice Reform Movement—Is on Tuesday’s Ballot

        When Larry Krasner was elected as Philadelphia district attorney four years ago, he promised to bring “transformational change” to an office—and to a criminal justice system—that, he said, “has systematically picked on poor people, primarily black and brown people.”

      • Foaming Cleansers
      • Stringer’s History of Bad-Faith Feminism

        Back when Scott Stringer was first running for comptroller in 2013, consent and sexual harassment were not the reigning feminist issues in Democratic politics. Prostitution was much higher on the list: Less than a decade ago, you could still campaign for office in New York City as a champion of women’s rights while dismissing the rights and sovereignty of sex workers—say, by exploiting them to embarrass your rival, ex-governor Eliot Spitzer. Stringer was eager to rile up the public about Spitzer’s lack of “integrity,” thumping his chest about how he would’ve fired the former prosecutor: “He couldn’t work in my office.”

      • How Your DNA—or Someone Else’s—Can Send You to Jail

        To understand why DNA software analyses can be so misleading, it helps to know a tiny bit about how it works. To start, DNA sequences are commonly called genes. A more generic way to refer to a specific location in the gene sequence is a “locus” (plural “loci”). The variants of a given gene or of the DNA found at a particular locus are called “alleles.” To oversimplify, if a gene is like a highway, the numbered exits are loci, and alleles are the specific towns at each exit.

        Forensic DNA analysis typically focuses on around 13 to 20 loci and the allele present at each locus, making up a person’s DNA profile. By looking at a sufficient number of loci, whose alleles are distributed among the population, a kind of fingerprint can be established. Put another way, knowing the specific towns and exits a driver drove past can also help you figure out which highway they drove on.

        To figure out the alleles present in a DNA sample, a scientist chops the DNA into different alleles, then uses an electric charge to draw it through a gel in a method called electrophoresis. Different alleles will travel at different rates, and the scientist can measure how far each one traveled and look up which allele corresponds to that length. The DNA is also stained with a dye, so that the more of it there is, the darker that blob will be on the gel.

      • ‘It has to be today’: Transcript from secretly recorded meeting shows what it’s like to be fired from Moscow’s subway for supporting Alexey Navalny

        Responding to last month’s protests in support of imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny, the Moscow subway system fired nearly 40 employees, a union leader told the news outlet Open Media on Friday, May 14. According to Moscow City Duma deputy Mikhail Timonov, administrators at the subway have also demanded that several hundred more staff tender their resignations. In both cases, the individuals affected had either registered online to attend recent pro-Navalny demonstrations or one of their relatives did. One of these people contacted Meduza and supplied the audio recording of a conversation with his supervisors where he was told he needed to quit.

      • Agents raid home of Kansas man seeking info on botnet that infected DOD network

        US military investigators have raided the home of a Kansas man looking for information about a crypto-mining botnet that has infected US Air Force servers.

        The raid is related to a November 2020 security breach that impacted the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Air Force’s internal law enforcement agency.

      • Jailed Iranian Anti-Hijab Campaigner Goes On Hunger Strike

        A jailed Iranian women’s right activist who has campaigned against the country’s strict Islamic dress code has reportedly gone on a hunger strike to protest against the imprisonment of her mother.

        The U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which covers news in Iran, reported that 21-year-old Saba Kord Afshari had stopped eating since May 8.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Failing Analysis: Why the Department of Justice “Updated” Charter Statement Doesn’t Address Bill C-10’s Free Speech Risks

        The updated Charter analysis is ultimately a bust with little actual analysis. Given its vulnerability, Lametti’s no-show at the committee shouldn’t come as a surprise. As a long-time law professor, he has graded enough exams to recognize a failing analysis when he sees it.

      • Governor Newsom’s Budget Proposes Historic Investment in Public Fiber Broadband

        Internet infrastructure shares many commonalities with public roads. Surface streets that crisscross downtowns and residential areas connect to highways via on-ramps. Those highways are a high-speed, high-capacity system that connect cities to one another over long distances.

        In broadband, that highway function— connecting distant communities— is called “the middle mile,” while those local roads, which connect with every home and business, are called “the last mile.”

        Governor Newsom’s plan is for the State of California to build all that middle-mile infrastructure— high-speed links that will bring future-proof capacity to the state’s small, remote, rural communities, putting them on par with the state’s large and prosperous cities.

      • Conservative Party Pledges to Repeal Bill C-10
      • Microsoft Data Shows That The FCC’s Broadband Maps Are Fantasy

        We’ve noted for a very long time that despite a lot of lip service about broadband, the U.S. government still doesn’t have a very good idea of where broadband is or isn’t available. There’s a long line of reasons for this, including political pressure by regional monopolies that very much don’t want a lack of competition or these coverage gaps to be apparent (somebody might get the crazy idea to try and fix the problem!). The FCC has also long been criticized for methodology that declares a census block (which can be hundreds of square miles in rural areas) “served” with broadband if just one home can theoretically get service from an ISP.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • U.S. should compensate vaccine developers if patents are waived [Ed: Compensate? They already made billions and much of the research was funded by the taxpayers.]
        • Biden setting ‘dangerous precedent’ by waiving vaccine patent rights: Dr. Saphier [Ed: No, patents are not rights; stop calling them that...]
        • The IP waiver for Covid-19: a false good idea [Ed: Team UPC (Matthieu Dhenne): let's kill lots of poor people to protect the patent profits of a bunch of monopolists]

          Although he pronounced against the IP Waiver on 23 April, French President Emmanuel Macron declared having changed his mind on 6 May, following the US administration’s surprising decision on 5 May. These contradictory statements have rekindled the controversy over the IP waiver, which is a wrong path that distracts the debate from the real issue: how to make the compulsory licensing procedure effective?

          IP is (too?) rarely emerging from the political discourse in France and Europe. However, since the announcement on 5 May by the Biden administration, which supports the proposal for the IP waiver linked to Covid-19, which emerged at the WTO under the leadership of India and South Africa, the subject of the patents come to the forefront of public debate, since the IP waiver concern mostly patents.

        • FOSS Patents: Next week’s European Commission webinar on SEP enforcement: speakers include USPTO official (and yours truly, too)

          On Wednesday (May 19, 2021), the fifth webinar of the European Commission’s popular series on standard-essential patent (SEP) topics will be held. Its title is “Enforcement of Standard-Essential Patents – current bottlenecks and possible solutions.” In a previous post I mentioned I was going to be among the speakers.

          Meanwhile, the EC’s Directorate-General for the Internal Market (DG GROW) has published the agenda. After Judge Edgar Brinkman’s (The Hague) welcome speech, Mary Critharis, the Chief Policy Offier and Director for International Affairs of the United States Patent & Trademark Office will deliver a keynote addressd. I’m sure many of you will be as interested as I am in listening to Mrs. Critharis’s speech. After a recent decision by the DOJ to downgrade an implementer-hostile policy statement by Trump’s antitrust chief, many want to find out about the Biden Administration’s stance on SEP enforcement. IP policy in general, and SEP policy in particular, is shaped by multiple U.S. government agencies, among them the USPTO, of course.

          An interesting fact about Mrs. Critharis’s biography is that she “first joined the USPTO as a patent examiner in 1992″ (and worked in that position for about eight years). Many (if not most) of the people who talk about SEP policy know very little about the technical side. It’s obviously not a requirement to have read and understood at least one SEP before talking about valuation, injunctive relief etc., but a former patent examiner like Mrs. Critharis obviously knows what’s actually found in those patent documents.

        • How A Camera Patent Was Used to Sue Non-Profits, Cities, and Public Schools

          But some patent trolls go even further. Hawk Technology LLC doesn’t just sue small businesses (although it does do that)—it has sued school districts, municipal stadiums, and non-profit hospitals. Hawk Tech has filed more than 200 federal lawsuits over the last nine years, mostly against small entities. Even after the expiration of its primary patent, RE43,462, in 2014, Hawk continued filing lawsuits on it right up until 2020. That’s possible because patent owners are allowed to seek up to six years of past damages for infringement.

          One might have hoped that six years after the expiration of this patent, we might have seen the end of this aggressive patent troll. Nope. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Hawk Tech another patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,499,091. It’s just as bad as the earlier one, and starting last summer, Hawk Tech has started to litigate.

          The ‘091 patent’s first claim simply claims a video surveillance system, then adds a bunch of computer terms. Those terms include things like “receiving video images at a personal computer,” “digitizing” images that aren’t already digital, “displaying” images in a separate window, “converting” video to some resolution level, “storing” on a storage device, and “providing a communications link.” These terms are utterly generic.

        • Revealed: Big Pharma’s Plot to Derail US Covid-19 Vaccine Waiver

          The Intercept’s Lee Fang has obtained confidential documents exposing the pharmaceutical lobby’s attempts to recruit lawmakers for anti-TRIPS waiver effort. 

        • Opinion | On Vaccine Patents, A Light Out of the Darkness

          Demonstrators weren’t just protesting vaccine patents. They were defying a neoliberal order that uses the luminous products of human intelligence for private exploitation.

        • Software Patents

          • Three Velos Media patents challenged in China

            On May 3, 2021, Unified filed three Chinese invalidation requests for CN105791842, CN105791843, and CN105915908. These patents are part of Velos Media’s largest patent family.

          • Two IP Bridge patents challenged in China

            On May 13, 2021, Unified filed two Chinese invalidation requests for CN101035290 and CN101035291, owned by IP Bridge. CN101035290 has been designated as essential in the SISVEL’s VP9 and AV1 pools. CN101035291 has also been designated essential to SISVEL’s VP9 and AV1 pools, as well as, the to HEVC Advance pool. These two patents are part of a large family of patents with several members designated as essential to those pools.

      • Copyrights

        • Watch Tower Copyright Lawsuit Targets Creator of “DubTown” Lego Animations

          An individual who created a series of stop-motion Lego animations is being sued by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group. ‘Kevin McFree’ was first targeted in 2018 via a DMCA subpoena but with that legal process stalled, Watch Tower has now filed a full-blown copyright infringement lawsuit.

        • WordPress Rejected 83% of all DMCA Takedown Notices Last Year

          WordPress parent company Automattic reports that the number of DMCA takedown notices it received increased by more than 50% last year. What stands out most, however, is the fact that 83% of all notices were rejected, often as a result of inaccurate automated takedown processes.

        • Angry Joe Tears Into Twitch Over Its One-Sided Approach To DMCA Takedowns

          Famed YouTuber and Twitch streamer Angry Joe, or Jose Antonio Vargas, has made it onto Techdirt’s pages in the past. True to his name, we’ve discussed his responses on a couple of intellectual property issues he’s suffered through. When Nintendo flagged a video Angry Joe did about Mario Party 10, preventing him from further monetizing the video, he simply and angrily swore off of doing any Nintendo videos in the future, rightly noting that with the decision all the free advertising he’d given Nintendo just disappeared. When CBS blocked a review video he did because the review used 13 seconds of Star Trek: Picard, he took to Twitter to rip them to shreds as well. The point is that when Angry Joe encounters the frustrations many others deal with thanks to overly restrictive intellectual property practices, he doesn’t stay silent. He gets… well… angry.

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    In terms of large IRC networks, we’re in trouble (unless we self-host) because they seem to be dividing themselves along political lines rather than anything technical or something of an on-topic/relevant substance. Using networks for Free software projects/organisations to push one’s political agenda is not acceptable because it’s starting to seem like in IRC space, FN has become the Front Nationale (French) and LC is Liberal Coalition. Both FreeNode and Libera Chat have managed to turn from technical platforms into political parties, in effect using technical networks (intended for technical projects) to push someone's political agenda and thus misusing them for personal gain. There’s no free lunch. As it turns out, FreeNode’s new owner (Andrew Lee) has just outed himself as a huge Donald Trump supporter who speaks of “these fuckers who stole that shit” (he meant the election, which he insists Trump actually won in 2020).



  17. IBM Handles More Removals of Signatures From Its Hate Letter Against Richard Stallman

    Less than a day ago IBM processed a request for removal (from its hate letter); as someone put it in a letter to us, also less than a day ago: “When all of this started in 2019, the Red Hat GNU developers showed off their colours. The best way to attack an organisation is from the inside. Using GNU developers was a dead giveaway. Google and Microsoft are very much on the team with IBM. I believe they’ve made headway into the Free/Libre software community and have persuaded senior Debianties to go along with them.” That same message, from an anonymous GNU maintainer, said: “The strategy to target major distributions is clear and present danger. I’m not sure what arguments of persuasion are being used, but I’m pretty sure their main tool is currency. RMS needs a lot of strategic support from experts who will rally to the Free Software cause. He needs great lawyers, some corporate minds, and intelligence specialists.” Sometimes it seems or feels like by simply buying Red Hat (the staff) IBM infiltrated the GNU Project and now it is vainly making claims like 'GNU is IBM' and thus IBM et al can command/tell the FSF who should run FSF, not only GNU. Such entryism isn’t hard to see; “An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation” has meanwhile garnered 6,758 signatures. The opposite letter is only decreasing in support (signatures lost).



  18. Links 20/6/2021: Debian GNU/Linux 10.10 “Buster” Released and LF Revisionism Resumes

    Links for the day



  19. The EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal Has Already Lost the Case in the Court of Public Opinion

    Personal views on the sordid state of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA), which by extension bodes poorly for the perception of independence in every Board of Appeal (BoA); the patent tribunals have been captured by patent maximalists who either stack the panels or intimidate judges into ruling in a particular way



  20. Virtual Injustice -- Part 12: Carl Josefsson – Down But Not Out!

    António Campinos still controls Josefsson, who controls all the judges, so in effect all the legal cases (including some about European software patents) are manipulated by the Office the judges are supposed to judge



  21. Links 19/6/2021: Wine 6.11 and Proton 6.3-5 RC

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Friday, June 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, June 18, 2021



  23. Virtual Injustice -- Part 11: Perceptive Comments and Caustic Criticism

    The EPO‘s management managed to silence a lot of the critical media (handouts and threats from Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos), but silencing comments is a lot harder; though we don’t know which ones were moderated out of existence…



  24. Links 18/6/2021: Mir 2.4, ActivityWatch 0.11, Microsoft Breaks Its Own Repos

    Links for the day



  25. [Meme] When the 'Court' Drops

    As the EPO sneakily outsourced courts to American companies and parties in dispute depend on their ISP for “access to justice” there’s a catastrophic impact on the very concept of justice or the right to be heard (sometimes you don’t hear anything and/or cannot be heard)



  26. The EPO's Virtual Injustice and Virtual ('News') Media

    A discussion of this morning's post (part 10 in a series) about the shallow media/blog coverage that followed or accompanied last month's notorious EPO hearing



  27. Links 18/6/2021: LibreOffice 7.2 Beta, Elementary OS 6.0 Beta 2, and Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma” Beta

    Links for the day



  28. The Self-Hosting Song

    Cautionary tales about outsourcing one's systems to companies that could not care less about anyone but themselves



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 17, 2021



  30. [Meme] Swedish Justice

    The EPO‘s patent tribunals have been mostly symbolic under the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regimes; giving them back their autonomy (and removing those who help Battistelli and Campinos attack their autonomy) is the only way to go now


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