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Links 4/9/2021: Loving (G)LAMP and uBlock Origin

Posted in News Roundup at 8:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • A Return to Normalcy?

      “You just feel so guilty that the one person who hadn’t left the house for three weeks was the one who succumbed to Covid,” she said to me, as I pressed the phone against my ear and peered outside, at the crowds of the people at the nearby park several stories below.

      The sun looked twice its size, pressed against the bright blue sky. A group of seniors laughed while performing the cha-cha slide together. Others at the park were jogging, skipping stones across the river, or speed-walking while Whitney and The Temptations were blaring from car radios. Masks dangled under peoples’ chins and around their wrists.

    • Colorado Transportation Officials Asked Navigation App Providers To Plant False Information. Worse, The Providers Complied.

      Well, this isn’t cool. Colorado transportation officials fed bogus information to map apps to make an open road appear to be closed.

    • The Village Mirror

      In ancient Hellas — Greece — peasants, persons of the land, not philosophers, discovered democracy. Xenophon, student of Socrates, historian, and general, said farming was a school for training soldiers and patriots for defending the country. He had no doubt that agriculture and rural people formed civilization.

    • Science

      • Tom Chivers and “reasonable” apologia for science denial

        Earlier this week, I discussed the prevalence of what I called “reasonable” apologists for the antivaccine movement. This description also applied to the same sort of “reasonable” apologists for those promoting antimask, anti-“lockdown,” and, of course, antivaccine COVID-19 disinformation, because the Venn diagram of antivaxxers prepandemic and COVID-19 cranks is damned near a circle. Today, I plan on being more general and discussing how the concept of “reasonable” apologist can apply to the entire spectrum of science denial, of which the antivaccine movement and the anti-public health movement that’s been energized as a result of the pandemic is only currently the loudest and most visible component.

      • Study Suggests Assholes Online Are Routinely Assholes Offline

        A new study published in the American Science Review found that that if you’re an asshole troll online, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re the same way in the brick and mortar world. The researchers used representative surveys and behavioral studies from the U.S. and Denmark to try and figure out if it the novel and relatively new internet was somehow making normal human beings more hostile. But as the researchers point out on Twitter, they found no real evidence for that:

      • Einstein’s Fridge: Who knew the history of thermodynamics was so much like high school?

        Boltzmann had developed a statistical approach that allowed him to sort of sneak up on the Third Law, but Mach and Planck didn’t buy it. Like high school bullies, they taunted Boltzmann at conferences, ultimately leading to the Austrian’s suicide in 1906.

    • Hardware

    • Health/Nutrition

      • For Outdoor Workers, California Air Is Becoming Unbreathable
      • ‘The Virus Does Not Know Borders’: Dems Launch Global Covid Vaccination Caucus

        A group of congressional Democrats on Friday launched the “Covid-19 Global Vaccination Caucus” to pressure fellow lawmakers and the Biden White House to accelerate the distribution of lifesaving shots to poor countries, warning that failure to do so would prolong the deadly pandemic.

        “If not now, when? After the next Greek letter variant emerges? We’ve got to tackle this right now.”—Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

      • House Dems Introduce Bill to Lower Medicare Age to 60

        In an effort to expand healthcare access to tens of millions of Americans in the continuing absence of a more ambitious universal care program, more than 125 House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation that would lower the age of general Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.

        “Congress and President Biden should immediately deliver for the people by prioritizing the expansion and improvement of Medicare in the upcoming Build Back Better package.”—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

      • ‘Activism Works’: EU to Return Covid Vaccines to Africa After Backlash

        The European Union has agreed to return to Africa millions of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine doses that were shipped out of the continent under a contract arrangement that drew widespread backlash from vaccine equity campaigners and African officials.

        As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, the South Africa-based pharmaceutical giant Aspen “has a contract with J&J to fill into vials and package the U.S. company’s vaccine, with some 40% of its production slated for export to Europe through September and the rest going to African countries.”

      • Lower Drug Prices for Americans ‘Too Good to Be True,’ Declares Big Pharma

        Determined to shield its surging pandemic profits, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to stop congressional Democrats from enacting reforms to curb sky-high drug prices—a broadly popular legislative effort that one Big Pharma spokesperson dismissed as “too good to be true.”

        “Members of Congress can either vote with these drug companies or vote for reforms that lower the price of drugs for patients. Lives are on the line.”—Leslie Dach, Protect Our Care

      • Opinion | It’s Time to End Religious Exemptions During Public Health Emergencies

        Just as many other universities have been doing, in August, the University of Virginia announced that it was disenrolling 238 students for the autumn semester. They could reenroll provided they showed proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or obtained medical or religious exemptions by a date certain. And therein lies a problem.

      • Cancer Alley Pastor Finds Hope Amidst the Rubble When Facing Ida’s Aftermath
      • DeSantis Appeals Judge’s Ruling Against His Ban on School Districts’ Masks Rules
      • Opinion | Out-of-State Abortion Providers Brace for an Influx of Texas Patients
      • Sotomayor’s Defiant Dissent

        Conservatives would have you believe that the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas’s law banning abortions after six weeks, and deputizing bounty hunters to enforce it, was a narrow and technical ruling from the high court. It was not. It was a frontal attack on the constitutional rights of women, made all the more despicable by the conservative decision to authorize the Texas attack on women without the benefit of a full, public hearing on the issues. In dissent, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor called out her conservative colleagues for all of it: their “breathtaking defiance” of constitutional order, their stunning rejection of precedent, and their flaming cowardice.

      • ‘Tip of the Iceberg’: GOP-Led States Eye Texas Model to Attack Abortion Rights

        Republican lawmakers and governors in several states are planning or considering forced-birth legislation mirroring Senate Bill 8 in Texas, which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to go into effect this week—stunning and angering abortion providers and rights advocates across the country.

        “This is not a ‘What happens in Texas stays in Texas’ situation.”—Kristin Ford, NARAL Pro-Choice America

      • Opinion | A Message for Texas: Women Are Tougher Than Right-Wing Legislators

        The new ban in Texas on abortions after the detection of cardiac activity—usually around six weeks, when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant—is rightfully dominating headlines around the world.

      • On Heels of SB 8, Texas Poised to Restrict Access to Medication Abortions

        “I’m really tired of every single session, having to come here and debate one more obstacle to a woman having a right to choose what happens to her own body and her own destiny.”—Texas State Rep. Donna Howard

      • More States Are Considering Implementing Abortion Bans Similar to Texas’s
      • Bureaucracies in the Most Expensive Healthcare System in the World

        I have been a Kaiser member for almost 22 years. I have had the same primary care physician, both trust him and like him and intend to continue with him. And overall my experiences with various Kaiser healthcare personnel have been positive. Just to be clear, friends in some other plans also have PCPs they trust and have had positive healthcare experiences.

        However, Kaiser administration is another story, and reflective of the divide between healthcare personnel and American healthcare administrations. The following are but three examples of problems I have experienced:

      • Opioid River

        Is a struggle against the American pursuit of any happiness the solution. If only.. Dr. Cornel West has made a proposition that few people take seriously: that inherent to what we deem to be struggle in America is not only the struggle for “justice” but also against despair. He calls this blues philosophy, finding a philosophical voice in Soren Kierkegaard, who tells us that we despair without even knowing it. We even despair about the selves we have created. Despair, felt deeply by the rural blues musicians, and transposed to cities, becomes the central pain in American life, as theorized by the non-academic, the non-elite. The fight against despair leads to rock and roll, funk, etc, all as forms of civility that become dangerously corrupt when co-opted by capital. It also leads to book clubs, knitting, or what we can say is a massive swath of the American dynamic.

        How did we get here? Why don’t we have large campaigns against despair, that for example fuels an opioid epidemic like no other, like we have against the lack of justice? We got here perhaps because, given the path that we took by imposing the 1787 constitution on the natural dynamic of American life, which had produced forms of democratic socialism after 1776, it was inevitable. We got here because of the genocide of indigenous folks, because of the American color line that persists, because of our lack of feminism and regard for gender jusice. We got here because we did not intend not to get here, in other words, and so the solution would be to intend not to be here.

      • Pelosi: Congress to Act on Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling With Legislation
      • SCOTUS Ruling Allows Texas to Deputize Citizens as Anti-Abortion Police
      • “On the Kill Floors”: Essential Workers in Meatpacking Plants Still Lack Safety & COVID Protections

        Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, we look at the experiences of meatpacking workers during the pandemic and beyond. Dulce Castañeda, a founding member of Children of Smithfield, a Nebraska-based grassroots advocacy group led by the children and family members of meatpacking workers, says conditions in the meatpacking plants during the pandemic remained as usual. “It was a situation where they weren’t receiving the protections that they needed,” she tells Democracy Now!, adding that workers often don’t have the time or resources to advocate for themselves. Castañeda and her family are profiled in a new book by journalist Eyal Press titled “Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America.”

      • China Wants ‘Sissy Idols’ and ‘Effeminate Men’ Scrubbed From Entertainment Industry

        Announcing the measures, the Communist Party of China’s propaganda department accused some in the entertainment industry of bad influence on the young and of “severely polluting the social atmosphere.”

        One of the eight sections to one one “boycotting being overly entertaining” explained a need to put more emphasis on “traditional Chinese culture, revolution culture and socialist culture.” It said that authorities will establish a “correct beauty standard,” and boycott vulgar [Internet] celebrities.

      • GoDaddy is cutting off Texas Right to Life’s abortion ‘whistleblowing’ website

        However, it now looks like Texas Right to Life may have trouble keeping a home on the web, because hosting provider GoDaddy has given the group 24 hours to find a different place to park its website. “We have informed prolifewhistleblower.com they have 24 hours to move to another provider for violating our terms of service,” a spokesperson told The New York Times and The Verge.

        GoDaddy didn’t answer a question about whether that applies to the group’s other domains, but tells The Verge that it violated “multiple provisions” of the site’s Terms of Service including Section 5.2, which reads:

        You will not collect or harvest (or permit anyone else to collect or harvest) any User Content (as defined below) or any non-public or personally identifiable information about another User or any other person or entity without their express prior written consent.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Linux Cybersecurity Mistakes Small Businesses Commonly Make

            Running a small business on Linux doesn’t mean having a small workload. You need to take care of so many things yourself or with the help of just a few colleagues. In the midst of all of this work and stress, cybersecurity is probably the last thing on your mind. It’s not like setting up a firewall and downloading antivirus software offers any monetary value, correct?

            Everybody makes mistakes, especially cybersecurity mistakes. That’s why it’s important to be informed about the best ways to protect your small business from hackers. Hopefully, this article was helpful, and you’ll start securing your business by avoiding these 5 Linux cybersecurity mistakes.

          • From open Guest Wi-Fi to pwning a lift

            A recent engagement took quite an unexpected turn and led to me having remote control of a bunch of building services including a lift from the street outside, unauthenticated. A single firewall rule bypassed some well configured VLANs and led to an emergency change being made to assure safety, let alone security!

            I was on site and looking at a brand-new network installation in a shared office building. The ground floor offered public spaces including a café, so there was potential for any member of the public to be present.

            Sat with a cuppa, my first port of call was the open Guest Wi-Fi access point. I was presented with a landing page asking me to accept a EULA before being given an IP address and a gateway to access the Internet.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Video Briefing Wednesday: EFF and Partners Will Deliver to Apple Petitions with 50,000 Signatures Demanding End to Phone Scanning Program
            • Apple Recognizes It Jumped Too Quickly On Its CSAM Detection System; Delays Implementation

              Sometimes speaking out works. A month ago, Apple announced a series of new offerings that it claimed would be useful in fighting back against CSAM (child sexual abuse material). This is a real problem, and it’s commendable that Apple was exploring ways to fight it. However, the major concern was how Apple had decided to do this. Despite the fact that a ton of experts have been working on ways to deal with this extremely challenging problem, Apple (in Apple fashion) went it alone and just jumped right in the deep end, causing a lot more trouble than necessary — both because their implementation had numerous serious risks that Apple didn’t seem to account for, and (perhaps more importantly) because the plan could wipe away years of goodwill in conversations between technologists, security professionals, human rights advocates and more in trying to seek solutions that better balance the risks.

            • Without Changes, Council of Europe’s Draft Police Surveillance Treaty is a Pernicious Influence on Latam Legal Privacy Frameworks

              Article 7 of the Protocol is among the most troubling provisions, raising privacy concerns regarding police cross-border access to subscriber data. As we have written, Article 7 establishes procedures for law enforcement in one country to request access to subscriber data directly from service providers located in another country under the requesting country’s legal standards. This can create unjustifiable asymmetries in national law by applying to foreign authorities a more permissive, less privacy-protective legal basis to access subscriber data than what is granted to local law enforcement agencies under its own local law.

              Article 7 focuses on authorizing police access to subscriber data. Why does subscriber data matter? Your IP address can tell authorities what websites you visit and who you communicate with. It could reveal otherwise anonymous online identities, your social networking contacts and, even at times, your physical location via GPS. Police can request your name, the subscriber data to link your identity to your online activity, and that can be used to create a nicely detailed police profile of your daily habits .

              We see at least two possible scenarios for how pernicious Article 7 could be on Latam frameworks for lawful access to communications data in criminal investigations. First, this provision can serve as an influence to drive down standards in the region for accessing subscriber information (and unveiling a user’s identity). Second, it can potentially export globally a broader definition of what constitutes “subscriber information,” expanding the categories of communications data encompassed by a third-class protection standard. All in all, Article 7 contains serious flaws that should be fixed before it can serve as a robust rights-protective model to pursue and endorse.

            • Delays Aren’t Good Enough—Apple Must Abandon Its Surveillance Plans

              The features Apple announced a month ago, intending to help protect children, would create an infrastructure that is all too easy to redirect to greater surveillance and censorship. These features would create an enormous danger to iPhone users’ privacy and security, offering authoritarian governments a new mass surveillance system to spy on citizens. They also put already vulnerable kids at risk, especially LGBTQ youth, and create serious potential for danger to children in abusive households. The responses to Apple’s plans have been damning: over 90 organizations across the globe have urged the company not to implement them, for fear that they would lead to the censoring of protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children. This week, EFF’s petition to Apple demanding they abandon their plans reached 25,000 signatures. This is in addition to other petitions by groups such as Fight for the Future and OpenMedia, totalling well over 50,000 signatures. The enormous coalition that has spoken out will continue to demand that user phones—both their messages and their photos—be protected, and that the company maintain its promise to provide real privacy to its users. 

            • Apple Has Betrayed Its Privacy Legacy – and Will Undermine End-to-end Encryption Everywhere

              Apple is a company that has always made much of its commitment to privacy, and has succeeded in turning it into a unique selling point of its products. That proud history made a recent announcement all the more shocking. Nobody could deny that Apple’s Expanded Protections for Children are motivated by the best intentions, and are tackling a terrible problem. But as commentator after commentator pointed out, in this case, in its eagerness to come up with new ways of protecting children from harmful content and online predators, Apple seems to have missed the bigger picture.

              There are three elements to the Apple’s new initiative. One – “updates to Siri and Search provide parents and children expanded information and help if they encounter unsafe situations” – is unproblematic. The other two are not. Here’s what Apple intends to do to ensure “communication safety in Messages”: [...]

            • Reddit seeks to hire advisers for US IPO: Sources

              Reddit was founded in 2005 by Huffman and entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian. It became known for its niche discussion groups, lagging the popularity of other major social media platforms such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

            • Experts Raise Alarm About China’s App Data Aggregation Potential

              Social media app TikTok’s rise as one of the world’s top downloaded software is concerning experts who say the aggregate data collected across a number of Chinese-made apps will allow the Communist government to get ahead of any federal action to stem the data flow.

            • Bloomberg claims Juniper included NSA backdoor on DoD advice

              The claim was made on Thursday, by the news agency Bloomberg, which said this was done because the US Department of Defence insisted on it and some future contracts for Juniper were tied to the use of this algorithm.

              The news agency claimed this bit of information was a significant new detail that explained why Juniper used the NSA code, which later led to its own systems being breached.

            • Juniper Breach Mystery Starts to Clear With New Details on Hackers and U.S. Role

              More than five years later, the breach of Juniper’s network remains an enduring mystery in computer security, an attack on America’s software supply chain that potentially exposed highly sensitive customers including telecommunications companies and U.S. military agencies to years of spying before the company issued a patch.

              Those intruders haven’t yet been publicly identified, and if there were any victims other than Juniper, they haven’t surfaced to date. But one crucial detail about the incident has long been known — uncovered by independent researchers days after Juniper’s alert in 2015 — and continues to raise questions about the methods U.S. intelligence agencies use to monitor foreign adversaries.

            • How to Share a Secret… Secretly

              In November of 1979, Adi Shamir published the paper “How to Share a Secret” where he came up with a mathematical method for dividing data (D) into n pieces in such a way that that D is easily reconstructed from any k pieces, and yet even complete knowledge of k-1 pieces reveals absolutely no information about D.

              The advantage to this was robust key management schemes for cryptographic systems that can function securely and reliably even when misfortunes destroy half the pieces and security breaches expose all but one of the remaining pieces. This paper can be found here.

              In a time where it seems that Shamir (or derivatives from such work) Secret Sharing Protocols don’t seem practical compared to multi-signature (as seen being deployed by coin-based protocols to authorize multi-party transactions), We were pondering over the problem of practical systems that could use this without the overhead of public-key cryptography.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • U.S. Psychology’s Unfinished Journey from 9/11

        In the days following the terrorist attacks that targeted New York City and Washington, D.C., it quickly became apparent that the White House, the Department of Defense, and the CIA were prepared to ignore well-established international laws and human rights standards in pursuit of our adversaries. But at that time, it was less immediately obvious that some members of my own profession—fellow psychologists—would choose to embrace and participate in the merciless “dark side” operations that took place at secret overseas “black sites,” at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, and beyond. And then, as events unfolded further, it became even more surprising that—through acts of commission and omission—these abusive and sometimes torturous operations would also find support within the leadership of the APA.

        At any point, the APA could have joined with concerned human rights groups in seeking to constrain a U.S. military-intelligence establishment set on unbridled retribution that brutalized prisoners and diminished the country’s moral standing around the world. But for the world’s largest organization of psychologists, that tragically proved to be the proverbial road not taken.

      • The Sixties, Hollywood, and One Man’s Consideration of the Curse of Vietnam

        There are exceptions to the general trend of Hollywood trivializing Sixties history, at least in terms of the cultural side of things. For example, the Woodstock movie did the opposite. It translated a rock festival into a watershed event, a cultural milepost for both the counterculture and the United States itself. When it played in movie houses around the world, the viewings became events. In Greece, which was under a military junta at the time, the film’s audiences turned their viewing into protests against the regime, provoking crackdowns by the police.

        Recently, Hollywood has returned to the Sixties once again. The Chicago 7 and the murder of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the police are the topics of two recent films. Both films are fictionalized versions of the history involved. Consequently, they misrepresent certain facts and personalities. The films—titled The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Black Judas and the Messiah—are captivating in style and narrative, but tend to turn what was the genuinely radical spirit of the lives being presented into something more liberal and palatable to the American myth. Beyond the decidedly false moments and dialogue present at times in both films, the overall feeling I was left with after viewing them wavered between thinking it might have been better if the films had not been made and hopeful that the Hollywood story I was seeing might propel some of today’s youth to embrace the real history behind the fiction. Both films, especially the Chicago 7 film, have generated a fair amount of swag. That includes both reprints and current takes on the subjects. The swag doesn’t sell like t-shirts at a rock concert, but it does make some money for those profiting from the past.

      • What are the Prospects for Peace? An Interview With Col. Larry Wilkerson

        Larry Wilkerson is a renowned defense analyst and a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government & Public policy at the College of William and Mary. He is a retired United States Army colonel and was the former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. We are extremely honored that he took the time to talk to us and share his views. His responses below are exactly as he provided.

        The questions here are not philosophical or abstract. They focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time. They directly address the role of the U.S. in the escalating tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We also probe the role of everyday citizens in affecting the relationship the U.S. now has and will have with the rest of the world community.

      • Roaming Charges: Revenge Tragedy

        + Ralph Nader: “Biden went through the history of the 20-year war on Afghanistan. Never mentioned the starters of this unconstitutional war, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. He mentioned striking back at ISIS this week but couldn’t find one sentence to express sympathy and regret for the innocent Ahmadi family whose 10 members, including 7 children, were wiped out by an errant U.S. drone. Mr. Ahmadi worked with an American aid group. As for his mentioning constitutional government preventing endless wars, forget it. Empire as usual.”

        + True, but it’s an empire in retreat.

      • When Will They Ever Learn? Out of Afghanistan, Into the Mire

        And the photographs of these young men in the Post and other papers and on the internet brought back memories of the protest songs of the Sixties and most especially Pete Seeger’s Where have all the flowers gone?, of which one rendition goes:

        There are countless graveyards in this world of self-destructive humans, and over the centuries they have expanded as monuments to the lunacy of mankind.

      • On Propaganda and Failed Narratives: New Understanding of Afghanistan is a Must

        The framing of the US ‘military intervention’ in Afghanistan, starting on October 7, 2001, as the official start of what was dubbed as a global ‘war on terror’ was left almost entirely to US government strategists. Former President, George W. Bush, his Vice President, Dick Cheney, his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and an army of spokespersons, neoconservative ‘intellectuals’, journalists and so on, championed the military option as a way to rid Afghanistan of its terrorists, make the world a safe place and, as a bonus, bring democracy to Afghanistan and free its oppressed women.

        For that crowd, the US war in an already war-torn and extremely impoverished country was a just cause, maybe violent at times, but ultimately humanistic.

      • Opinion | The War in Afghanistan Is Over, It’s Time to Face the Truth

        My son, Ryan, was an Army Infantry Officer who served 13 months, at the height of President Obama’s Afghanistan surge in Zhari District, Kandahar Province. His men were sent into the heart of the fight, in the place referred to as the Heart of Darkness, the spiritual home of the Taliban. 

      • Kids Die Last as Biden Plays Tough Guy

        That terrorist attack was followed by a drone rocket revenge attack ordered by President and Commander in Chief Joe Biden. It was an attack which by all accounts went spectacularly and horrifically awry, killing not an IS-K terror plotter as initially claimed by the Pentagon, but a family of 10 including a US interpreter, all of whom — both three adults and seven children including a child of only 2 — had been given papers allowing them to get on one of the US evacuation flights at the Kabul Airport, but they had been unable to get through all the various checkpoints to accomplish that.

        There were fabricated reports from the US of secondary explosions intended to suggest that the van that was struck had been carrying terrorists wearing explosive belts — stories which were completely untrue according to US and other foreign reporters who went to the scene. There were also reports of secondary explosions in an adjacent building, which were also false and self-serving from those in Washington trying to deny the disastrous error.

      • Lessons from Afghanistan

        Behind the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan are deeper questions about the selling of the American Dream. The assumption in the second phase of the U.S. presence was the construction of Afghan society along American, liberal democratic lines. After the initial phase of counter-terrorism in reaction to September 11, the second objective was nation-building to re-make Afghanistan in America’s image.

        The second phase assumption was that Americans know how societies should be organized. Moreover, it assumes that everyone recognizes, admires and wants part of that organization. It assumes that Americans can go – invade, interfere – wherever they want because people all over the world welcome U.S. outreach. Quite simply, it assumes that non-Americans want Starbucks and the Golden Arches.

      • “A Real Flood of Bacteria and Germs”: Communications Intelligence and Charges of U.S. Germ Warfare During the Korean War

        In order to provide a documentary backdrop to a history of the war from an intelligence point-of-view, the CIA also released hundreds of declassified top-secret communications intelligence (COMINT) reports, as well as assorted formerly secret intelligence analyses, and open-source reports from the Agency’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).

        The CIA likely did not set out to document the COMINT history of the North Korean and Chinese response to what appeared to be U.S. and/or U.N. attacks by biological, bacteriological, or ”germ” weapons, but that is in effect what happened.

      • At the End of this Hated War, We Need Truth

        In the days following the attacks on September 11, the United States was called on to declare war against an enemy those in Congress who voted for it couldn’t even name.  Policymakers asked American citizens to sacrifice civil liberties for security and give the military money that was so desperately needed to solve the country’s social problems.

        Congress did those things with only one dissenting vote: Barbara Lee’s. Now it’s time to look at historical truth, to understand how the United States got this 20-year war, with its ignominious end at the Kabul airport, and how the overarching framework of U.S. policy was responsible for creating it.

      • Afghanistan: Farewell to Arms, Predator Drones, Night Raids…?

        With the horrors of 9/11 still fresh in our hearts and minds, we were told that attacking Afghanistan was a just and legitimate response to al-Qaeda’s terrorism and to Afghanistan’s role in harboring the terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, one of the founders of al-Qaeda. But there were a few things omitted from mainstream coverage of the invasion and its official justification. Even in the present, I wonder how many Americans remember, for instance, that at one time the U.S. courted the Taliban, the rulers of Afghanistan from 1996-2001. In fact, in the late 1990s, when Clinton was president, U.S. oil and gas executives and State Department officials hosted a delegation of Taliban leaders. The purpose of those meetings was to convince the Taliban to allow a pipeline to run through the country. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAPI), as it was known, would transport natural gas from landlocked Central Asian nations, particularly Turkmenistan, to India. The most direct route to India is from Iran to Pakistan and then India. But the U.S. wanted to prevent Russia from getting its hands on the natural resources of Central Asia, a strategically vital region. (Whichever country dominates this region would have enormous leverage over rival economies.) The U.S. also sought to isolate Iran and restrict its ability to profit from much-needed supplies of natural gas. To transport this fuel to India and bypass both Iran and Russia, the pipeline would need to cross Afghanistan, and for this to happen, the U.S. would need the consent of the Taliban.

        Long before the “courtship” began and while the Cold War was still in play, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security advisor, wanted to give the Soviets their own Vietnam. The plan? Concoct a strategy to lure them into Afghanistan where right-wing militants, financed, trained, and armed by the West, would accomplish what the Vietnamese had done in their struggle against the U.S. military. In the case of Afghanistan, a prolonged war against the Mujahadeen, (fundamentalist Islamic fighters) would surely sap the resources of the Soviet Union and trigger its inevitable collapse, thus ending the Cold War in a glorious victory for the West. Such an outcome, desired by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., would allow our most precious export—the “free-market” system—to flourish throughout the world, no longer hampered by the insidious spread of communism, the socio-political equivalent of the kudzu weed, or so its detractors might have imagined. Perhaps equally important was the chance to acquire unfettered access to the region’s energy sources, including oil, natural gas, and minerals.

      • Opinion | End Military Extremism By Ending War
      • Revisiting 9/11, Ward Churchill and Those “Little Eichmanns”

        “If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it,” wrote Churchill in his 2003 book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.

        Churchill’s “little Eichmanns” was an obvious reference to Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, in which she detailed the trial of Adolf Eichmann for his role in orchestrating the Holocaust, coining the phrase “banality of evil”. Eichman, Arendt contended, was not particularly sinister or demented, but a thoughtless dupe in service of mass murder. He was simply carrying out orders, she contended, never weighing their moral implications.

      • Under Pressure From Victims’ Families, Biden Orders Release of 9/11 Documents
      • “Rogue Nations” and “Failed States”: America Doesn’t Know the Difference

        A constant feature of the disharmony between the United States and Europe is Washington’s obsession with the use of force against so-called “rogue” states in the Third World.  The past five U.S. administrations, including Biden’s, don’t know the difference between a “rogue” state and a “failed” state.  The hegemonists in the Bush administration were obsessed with the notion of rogue states, the so-called “axis of evil” that included Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.  Then-Senator Hillary Clinton supported Bush’s rhetoric by emphasizing that “every nation has to be either with us, or against us,” which channeled such Cold Warriors as the Dulles brothers in the 1950s or the brothers Rostow and Bundy in the 1960s.

        U.S. and Israeli military force has created havoc the world over.  The removal of Saddam Hussein led to the creation of the Islamic State; Israel’s invasion of Lebanon led to the creation of Hezbollah; U.S. intervention in Afghanistan led to the Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks and greater violence; the use of force in Libya in 2011 led to chaos in North Africa.  U.S. wars since 9/11 have cost trillions of dollars and have led to tens of millions of refugees, which has fostered dangerous nationalism in European politics.  There have been thousands of U.S. combatant deaths in the wars since 9/11, thousands of severely wounded survivors, thousands of suicides by veterans and active-duty personnel, and tens of thousands of civilian fatalities.

      • Now Close Gitmo, Too

        President Biden was right to end the war in Afghanistan and follow through on a deal that his predecessor Donald Trump had negotiated with the Taliban. As Biden explained, “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

        Although the fighting in America’s longest war may have ended, Biden must address the war’s lingering wounds to the people of Afghanistan and to our own country’s ideals of justice and the rule of law.

      • Want Regime Change with Plausible Deniability? Call Creative Associates International
      • Opinion | Global Cooperation, Not Endless War Should Be Future of US Foreign Policy
      • A CIA Drone Analyst Apologizes to the People of Afghanistan

        As the United States ends a 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, a former intelligence analyst for the CIA’s drone program offers an apology to the people of Afghanistan “from not only myself, but from the rest of our society as Americans.” During deployments to Afghanistan, Christopher Aaron says he was able to see “the human toll, the resource toll of these wars, as well as the fact that the policy of dropping ‘guided missiles’ at people from remote controlled airplanes was not allowing us to actually win the war.” We also speak with Eyal Press, who profiles Aaron in his new book, “Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America.” He says the U.S. has developed a military strategy of carrying out drone strikes and wars “in the shadows: doing it out of sight, out of mind.”

      • Google locks down Afghan government accounts as Taliban looks for access: report

        Google has locked down Afghan government accounts as the Taliban is attempting to access the former officials’ emails, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

        An employee of the former government told Reuters the Taliban asked him in late July to save data on the ministry he formerly worked for on servers the group could access.

      • ‘Very Brutal’: In Ethiopia, Tigray Forces Accused of Abuses

        As they bring war to other parts of Ethiopia, resurgent Tigray fighters face growing allegations that they are retaliating for the abuses their people suffered back home.

        In interviews with The Associated Press, more than a dozen witnesses offered the most widespread descriptions yet of Tigray forces striking communities and a religious site with artillery, killing civilians, looting health centers and schools and sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing in the past two months.d

      • Taliban death squads ‘trawl porn sites to compile kill list of Afghan prostitutes after US withdrawal’

        Security sources told The Sun Online that videos featuring Afghan prostitutes have made their way onto niche porn sites and have been discovered by the jihadis.

        Our source said the Taliban are now “hell-bent” on “hunting down” the prostitutes to publicly execute or “humiliate for their own pleasure”.

        They added the women face being gang-raped by the terror nuts before being “beheaded, stoned or hung”.

      • A Man Is Shot Dead By New Zealand Police After He Attacks 6 In A Supermarket

        Coster said there would be questions about whether police could have reacted even quicker. He said that the man was very aware of the constant surveillance and they needed to be some distance from him for it to be effective.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Israeli officials cautioned Biden against heavy criticism of Egypt, Saudi Arabia

        Israeli officials have cautioned their counterparts in the Biden administration against being overly critical of the Saudi and Egyptian governments, due to concerns that that such criticism might lead Riyadh and Cairo to turn to countries like Iran, China and Russia for support, a source familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

    • Environment

      • Flooded cars are a problem for their owners — and future car buyers

        In the months to come, meanwhile, some of those flood-damaged vehicles may show back up on the used vehicle market through an appropriately named scam known as “title washing.” Someone buying one of those vehicles could be in for a number of headaches.

        When a vehicle is submerged, it is subject to developing all sorts of issues, starting with mold. Body panels and other components can rust. Water can damage engines. And then there are all the electronic circuits that control everything from power windows to a car’s safety and infotainment systems. They can suffer intermittent or complete failures.

        “A car that’s been in a flood, with the engine emerged for any length of time, will never be the same,” said Carl Sullivan, a veteran inspector for California-based AiM Mobile Inspections.

      • Erdogan’s AKP: We Didn’t Start the Fire

        The Turkish government’s relief efforts for this summer’s forest fires in the country’s southern regions have been widely condemned as insufficient. Without an immediate, aggressive statewide response—and with temperatures climbing over 104 degrees Fahrenheit—the fires were able to burn more than 150,000 hectares of forest over the course of just two weeks, killing eight people.

        Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have attempted to politicize the disaster, blaming the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist group, for sabotage and local municipalities for their lack of response. The government also criminalized a social media campaign—#HelpTurkey—that aimed to raise money for the areas affected, with prosecutors investigating posts using the hashtag. Erdogan and his supporters argued that the campaign aimed to make the government look weak, and they started a rival campaign—#StrongTurkey—that lauded the federal response to the fires.

      • “People Will Lose Their Lives”: Texas Isn’t Doing Enough to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Deaths, Critics Say

        AUSTIN — More than five hours into a legislative debate on voting restrictions and border security last week, a Texas lawmaker made a last-ditch attempt to strengthen the state’s power grid and, in the process, prevent carbon monoxide deaths.

        On Aug. 27, state Rep. Erin Zwiener, a Democrat from Driftwood, just outside of Austin, offered an amendment that would redirect $250 million from a $1.8 billion border security bill to improve the reliability of the power grid. The measure, she told her colleagues, could keep “our citizens from dying during a winter storm from carbon monoxide poisoning.”

      • Opinion | Don’t Call This Storm Ida: It Should Have Been Called ‘Hurricane Exxon’

        It was 20 years ago that French-speaking fishermen first told me that Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida were coming to Louisiana. These Cajun oystermen and shrimpers didn’t know the actual names, of course. They just knew that historically massive storms would soon wipe out the state as sure as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico.

      • Opinion | Fifteen Insurers Cut Ties With Massive Pipeline

        This week, Hurricane Ida left over a million people without power, and shocking flooding is rocking the Northeast of the United States. More than 80 million Americans were under a flood watch or advisory, with the majority associated with Ida’s heavy rains. Simultaneously, 43,400 Californians have been forced to flee their homes because of the deadly wildfires tearing across the region. Earlier this summer in Madagascar 400,000 people were headed for famine from severe drought. The climate crisis is here, and it is devastating, though communities are doing everything they can to care for one another in this time of overlapping crisis.

      • New Climate Study: Arctic Heat Fueled Deadly February Texas Freeze

        New research published Friday suggests that melting Arctic sea ice caused by global heating may be responsible for the deadly deep freeze that devastated much of North America and plunged millions of Texans into darkness in February.

        “Large changes in the Arctic are not just a local concern—they also have wide-ranging impacts across North America and parts of Asia.”—Judah Cohen and Mathew Barlow, study researchers

      • Guilty of Ecocide
      • German Groups Sue Major Carmakers for Fueling the Climate Emergency

        A pair of climate advocacy groups on Friday announced lawsuits against BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen for fueling the climate emergency, hoping to force the German carmakers to stop selling internal combustion vehicles and cut their carbon footprints 65% by 2030.

        “With our lawsuits, we want to achieve the exit from the internal combustion engine.”—Barbara Metz, DUH

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Unknown waters ahead puzzle marine modellers

          Climate change will alter the blue planet on an almost global scale. Marine life will change in the unknown waters ahead.

        • Biden Should Put Science, Not Policy Positions, in the Driver’s Seat on Wolves and the Endangered Species Act

          The cozy relationship between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service professionals and arch- game and fish agency officials from conservative and anti-carnivore states has led to multiple premature de-listings that served neither endangered species recovery nor the best interests of science-based decisionmaking. On wolves, the political pressure has historically been so extreme that western senators even passed legislation to override the Endangered Species Act and block federal protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. This anti-science legislation even baked in a provision that blocked the courts from judging whether this listing decision was legal or not.

          The recent news story asserting the Biden administration’s support for ending wolf protections didn’t actually quote President Biden, nor any of his key appointees. Instead, it quotes the very same career official, who was the architect of wolf de-listing in the first place, concluding that he was right all along. He and other U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials testified in a 2013 hearing that removing Upper Midwest gray wolves from the Threatened Species list – and indeed throughout the continental U.S. – was completely justified. But the following year, a federal court rejected that argument, re-listing wolves in the Upper Midwest on the basis of violations of the ESA by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal government appealed, and the DC Circuit Court rejected their arguments again, keeping wolves on the list.

      • Overpopulation

        • Brazil’s Fierce Drought

          Moreover, the planet is becoming a drought-besieged planet (see- Drought Clobbers the World, August 27, 2021). As for the Amazon, according to NASA, it has been battered by serious bouts of drought every 5 years 1998, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020-21. As such, the normally resilient forest does not have a chance to catch breath and repair damage.

          Sassan Saatchi, NASA JPL claims; “The old paradigm was that whatever carbon dioxide we put up in (human-caused) emissions, the Amazon would help absorb a major part of it… The ecosystem has become so vulnerable to these warming and episodic drought events that it can switch from sink to source depending on the severity and the extent. This is our new paradigm.” (Source: NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage, Capitals Coalition)

    • Finance

      • The Which Way is Up Problem in Economics

        I’ll get to the contradiction in a moment, but first I want to explain why I think the debate which was the focus of the Times article is rather silly. The essence of the debate in the Neil Irwin piece (the Times reporter who wrote the article) is over whether inequality is leading to lower interest rates, which generates greater wealth inequality, or whether the big problem is the low interest rates themselves causing wealth inequality.

        To my mind, this is a silly debate, starting with the idea that we should be concerned about inequalities in wealth resulting from low interest rates. That one is a bit hard for me to see.

      • Facing Corporate Blitz, Progressives Urge Unity to Defend $3.5 Trillion Package

        Faced with the deadly impacts of the climate emergency and a “massive” corporate lobbying blitz, 11 progressive groups on Friday called for Democratic Party unity in Congress to pass an ambitious and sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

        “Now, all eyes are on the reconciliation bill and progressives need to up their game.”—11 groups

      • Amazon, “Economic Terrorism” and the Destruction of Competition and Livelihoods

        Walmart entered into India in 2016 with a US$3.3 billion take-over of the online retail start-up Jet.com. This was followed in 2018 with a US$16 billion take-over of India’s largest online retail platform, Flipkart. Today, Walmart and Amazon control almost two thirds of India’s digital retail sector.

        Amazon and Walmart have a record of using predatory pricing, deep discounts and other unfair business practices to attract customers to their online platforms. A couple of years ago, those two companies generated sales of over US$3 billion in just six days during Diwali. India’s small retailers reacted by calling for a boycott of online shopping.

      • There Is No Greater Threat to Worker Rights Than This Republican Party

        With the approach of another Labor Day, it is clear that American workers could use some help. There are jobs to be had—but without a living wage or the workplace protections that are more necessary than ever in this pandemic age. The federal minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 an hour, no higher that it was in 2009. And working people who want to form unions and bargain for better pay are constrained in the majority of states by so-called “right to work” laws that empower multinational corporations like Amazon to thwart organizing drives.

      • More People Are Turning Down Low-Paying Jobs With Bad Working Conditions
      • ‘Catastrophe’ Feared as 35 Million People Are Set to Lose Jobless Aid in 3 Days

        Millions of jobless workers are set to lose critical unemployment benefits in roughly 72 hours—and neither Congress nor the Biden administration seem prepared to do anything about it.

        “Around 35 million people (10% of the U.S. population) live in households that are scheduled to lose unemployment income.”—Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project

      • Dirty Work: Eyal Press on Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America

        Ahead of Labor Day, we speak with journalist and sociologist Eyal Press about his new book, “Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America.” Press profiles workers like prison guards and oil workers — people who make their livelihoods by doing “unethical activity that society depends on and tacitly condones but doesn’t want to hear too much” about, he says. “This work is largely hidden, and we rarely hear from the people on the frontlines who are delegated to do it,” Press tells Democracy Now! “The powerful and the privileged really don’t do the dirty work in America — they not only don’t do it, they don’t see it.”

      • Rick Claypool on OxyContin Bankruptcy, Dean Baker on Economic Disconnects
      • 35 Million People Are Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits on Labor Day
      • Ocasio-Cortez Slams Manchin for $3.5T Bill Opposition, Points Out Exxon Ties
      • Haiti and the Debt of Independence

        After winning their liberation from slavery and colonial rule in a war that killed half the population, Haitians were forced to pay their former masters an astronomical sum for their freedom. This oppressive debt Haiti paid to secure its independence is finally becoming part of the mainstream narrative about that country’s impoverishment. In a startling example of the media recognizing the debt of independence, a 200-word Journal de Montréal introduction to Haiti’s vulnerability to earthquakes noted: “Earthquakes as devastating as that of Saturday in Haiti have already occurred in 2010, 1887, 1842, 1770 and 1751… This poverty is due in large part to the exorbitant debt Haiti had to pay France for its independence. Converted into today’s money, the debt is equivalent to $30 billion Canadian.”

        In recent weeks CNN, Reuters, the New York Times, CBC and others have all referenced the debt of independence. More in-depth reports have also appeared in the Miami Herald (“France pulled off one of the greatest heists ever. It left Haiti perpetually impoverished”), France 24 (“France must return the billions extorted from Haiti”) and ABC News (“How colonial-era debt helped shape Haiti’s poverty and political unrest”).

      • R.I.P. Ed Asner, Man of Spunk and Socialism

        Of course, most bosses are just the opposite; they take sensitivity seminars to learn how to talk as if they are very concerned for your welfare, but really, they couldn’t care less. In fact, they think welfare is for bums.

        Lou Grant was a different kind of boss, the crusty curmudgeon with the heart of gold, perhaps a dying breed, and Ed Asner was a very special kind of actor. Sadly, he just passed away at the age of 91. I imagine him grabbing a bunch of balloons like old Carl the grumpy but romantic balloonist he voiced in “Up,” soaring up-up-and-away into the clouds to meet Karl Marx, F.D.R.and Mary Tyler Moore.

      • Rethinking Trade – Season 1 Episode 37: Hyperglobalization, COVID and Failed Supply Chains: Now What?

        In our very first episode, we looked at how corporate-led globalization has fueled shortages in our medical supply-chains and limited our ability to fight COVID-19

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Handmaid’s Jail
      • What’s Left of Communism in China?
      • Abandoned and Alone: Lamenting the US-Australian Alliance

        This unequal and distinctly unhealthy relationship has been marked by a certain outsourcing tendency.  Australian foreign policy is a model example of expectation: that other powers will carry its weight: processing refugees; aiding Australians stranded or persecuted overseas; reliance on that fiction known as the extended nuclear deterrent.  Self-reliance is discouraged in favour of what Barry Posen calls a “cheap ride”.

        In recent years, the Australian security-military apparatus has been more than ingratiating regarding its alliance with Washington, despite such sombre warnings as those from the late Malcom Fraser.  In 2014, the former prime minister argued that Australia, at the end of the Cold War, was presented with an opportunity to pursue a policy of “peace, cooperation, and trust” in the region.  Instead, Canberra opted to cling on to a foreign war machine that found itself bloodied and bruised in the Middle East.  Now, Australia risked needlessly going to war against China on the side of the US.  Best to, he suggested, shut down US training bases in the Northern Territory and close the Pine Gap signals centre as soon as feasible.

      • ‘That’s the Biggest Lie, That We Started Out Great and We’ve Been Getting Better Ever Since’

        The August 27, 2021, episode of CounterSpin included an archival interview Janine Jackson conducted with James Loewen about lies historians tell us. The interview originally aired July 3, 2015. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Texas Groups File Suit Against ‘Unconstitutional, Anti-Democratic’ Voter Supression Law

        A lawsuit against a widely criticized voter suppression law in Texas was filed Friday by a group of civil rights organizations who argue the new restrictions imposed by Republican lawmakers in the state violate core constitutional protections.

        “For democracy to work, it must include all voices. SB 1 is an extremist anti-voter bill that raises even more barriers to voting and specifically targets vulnerable communities, especially voters with disabilities, voters of color, and elderly voters.”

      • The Campaign to Destroy Venezuelan Socialism

        Unlucky Colombia has served as a laboratory for U.S. counterinsurgency for decades. It also functions as NATO’s toehold in Latin America. That toe, however, has a fungus that infected the country’s entire power structure with murderous violence. But that’s not how North American sachems view things. U.S. politicos and military bigwigs drool over Columbia with love and would like nothing better than to refashion Venezuela in its image. Nevertheless, Colombia remains a byword, an evil omen of the death and destruction that the empire rakes across the Global South.

        In the early 2000s, the U.S. supported Colombian fascist president Alvaro Uribe’s bloodletting, which included the “false positives” scandal. In that, “the army killed 10,000 or more completely innocent noncombatants to boost the death toll they could report of guerillas.” And that death toll was already substantial. “Thousands of Colombians were disappeared during each year of Uribe’s rule: 15,732 in 2002, 12,577 in 2003 and 9,759 in 2004.” Indeed from 2000 to 2010, the Columbian civil war never let up, as Uribe, “who held office from 2002 to 2010 kept ramping the conflict up, promising victory against the guerillas.” Notably, Uribe’s demobilized paramilitaries have confessed to 32,909 crimes, most of them murders.

      • Nokia leaves Open RAN project after US blacklists suppliers

        Set up 18 months ago by the Trump administration to counter the dominant position enjoyed by Chinese equipment vendor Huawei Technologies — which the US claims is a security threat — the Open RAN coalition aims to avoid the use of proprietary components, including those used by Nokia and Ericsson, in favour of generic parts and software.

      • O-RAN an also-ran to Huawei 5G

        Nokia dropped out of the O-RAN Alliance this week in response to an American decision to put some of Nokia’s Chinese partners on the entity list that sanctions Chinese companies whose activity is deemed threatening to US national and security interests.

        Nokia was concerned that continued collaboration with the O-RAN coalition in the US could expose it to American sanctions because of its business dealings with sanctioned Chinese companies.

        The three sanctioned Chinese companies, Inspur, Kindroid and Phytium, are relatively minor players in the global communications market. Phytium manufactures chips, Inspur makes computer servers and related products and Kindroid is a subsidiary of Kyland Technologies, a manufacturer of Ethernet switches and industrial controls.

      • Martha Lee: Is France Getting Serious about Islamism?

        The bill has two key financing provisions: Religious organizations receiving foreign funding – as many mosques in France do – are required to publicly declare donations of more than 10,000 euros. Moreover, organizations that receive public funds now have to “sign a contract agreeing to respect the values of the Republic and to abstain from any action that would threaten the public order” said Lee, and risk forfeiture of the funds if they violate these terms.

        This latter provision is not easy to enforce, as Islamist organizations have often given lip service to the ideals of the Republic while promoting extremism behind closed doors. However, Lee noted that such deception is more likely to be exposed when the public is highly sensitized to Islamist threats, as is the case in France. The French press has been diligent in exposing radical organizations that claim to be moderate so as to receive funds under false pretenses, though she acknowledged that major offenders are more likely to be exposed than smaller organizations.

      • Biden Moves to Declassify Documents About September 11 Attacks

        President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday directing the declassification of certain documents related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a supportive gesture to victims’ families who have long sought the records in hopes of implicating the Saudi government.

        The order, coming little more than a week before the 20th anniversary of the attacks, is a significant moment in a yearslong tussle between the government and the families over what classified information about the run-up to the attacks could be made public.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • The Challenge In Content Moderation And Politics: How Do You Deal With Bad Faith Actors?

        We talk a lot about the various challenges of content moderation all the time here on Techdirt, but there’s one aspect that really comes up all the time and is rarely addressed: how do you deal with bad faith actors? So much of the debate around content moderation tends to be based on the idea that there is merely a legitimate difference of opinion on what is and what is not appropriate — or what is and what is not “misinformation.” And there are important debates to be had about all that.

      • Afghan YouTuber Killed in Airport Bombing Days After Saying Goodbye to Her Viewers: Report

        Najma Sadeqi, a 20-year-old journalism student who made videos for the YouTube channel Afghan Insider, was killed in what officials have described as an ISIS-K suicide bombing outside of Kabul’s airport Thursday, according to CNN.

        Two of Sadeqi’s colleagues confirmed her death.

      • An Afghan YouTuber was killed at Kabul airport. Many more fear the worst.

        “Since we are not allowed to work and go out of our homes, we all had to record you a last video,” she began. “And through this video say goodbye to you all.”

        She told viewers she was too scared to walk the street, and asked them to pray for her. “Life in Kabul has become very difficult, especially for those who used to be free and happy,” she said. “I wish it is a bad dream, I wish we can wake up one day,” she added, stopping at times to stifle tears. “But I know that it is not possible …. and it is a reality that we are finished.”

        Days later, Sadeqi was killed in a terror attack outside Kabul’s international airport, two of her colleagues told CNN. At least 170 Afghans died in the atrocity, while trying desperately to flee the country.

      • Who were Xulhaz and Tonoy?

        Their deaths were part of a series of murders of freethinkers, including secular and atheist writers and members of religious minority groups, in Bangladesh at the hands of religious militants.

      • Unconstitutional Texas social media bill attacks human rights

        Yesterday, September 2, the U.S. state of Texas’ legislature passed a bill that aims to stop social media companies from “censoring conservative views.” This bill and others like it across the United States have been drafted in direct response to platforms’ removal of misinformation, incitement to violence, and other content that platforms have deemed in violation of their community guidelines. The legislation includes vague, sweeping language prohibiting platforms from banning or blocking a person based on viewpoint or geographic location, attempting to give judges broad powers to overturn social media platforms’ decisions about their own content moderation policies.

        The bill now awaits approval from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign off even though the legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and would further harm marginalized communities. Additionally, there is no evidence of anti-conservative bias on social media platforms.

      • No Access: LGBTIQ Website Censorship in Six Countries – The Citizen Lab

        Online spaces are critical for safely identifying information and resources, establishing social connections, and engaging in rights advocacy and movement-building. For marginalized populations in particular, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people, the ability to virtually connect and securely communicate is a lifeline. Yet, state-sponsored online censorship is on the rise globally, targeting LGBTIQ activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and political dissidents, among others.

        Website censorship is often implemented alongside other restrictions (e.g., lawsuits and arbitrary arrests) that constrain civil liberties and curtail human rights movements. Countries that are engaging in censorship are in violation of international human rights norms and principles. In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) affirmed “that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression.”[1] Moreover, Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) stipulates that restrictions on freedom of expression can occur only in limited circumstances and must adhere to the principles of legality, legitimacy, and necessity.[2] Of the six countries studied in this report, Indonesia, Russia, and Iran have ratified the ICCPR.[3]

        As digital technology continues to advance, website censorship, along with efforts to circumvent it, are dynamic. This leads to a persistent game of cat-and-mouse between governments and users, both of whom are trying to stay ahead of the other. Governments are also applying ever-more sophisticated means to curtail the work of rights activists around the world, including LGBTIQ activists, using Internet blocking, bandwidth “throttling,” surveillance, and other means.[4]

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • ‘Chilling the Press Has Consistently Outraged Me’

        Linda Tirado, a 39-year-old writer and photographer who covers poverty and social justice movements, has been blind in one eye for more than a year. That’s a year with only one eye to use to evaluate her surroundings while covering a protest. That’s a year with only one eye to watch her 8- and 11-year-old daughters.

      • Installation Commemorates Murdered Journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi Crown Prince’s Birthday

        Biden’s affirmation stands at odds with his decision to refrain from holding MBS accountable for Khashoggi’s murder despite the damning intelligence report commissioned by his administration. According to the New York Times, White House officials said they decided that the cost of penalizing Saudi Arabia with sanctions would be “too high.”

        The temporary installation was part of the Freedom First campaign, a project by human rights organizations the Freedom Initiative and Amnesty International focusing on Saudi human rights abuses.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Opinion | In Times of Great Despair, We Must Double Down on Our Activism

        Some Americans feel like we’re living through a “last days” biblical Revelation kind of scenario.

      • Ten Seconds Of Doing Nothing Is Reasonably Suspicious, Says The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court

        How much does it take to establish reasonable suspicion needed to subject a person to an at least temporary removal of most of their rights? Not much, says the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court, which appears willing to keep poking the SCOTUS bear with its mind-boggling interpretations of Constitutional rights and the power of law enforcement to bypass them.

      • The Staggering Costs of Sexual Harassment

        It might feel as if workplace sexual predators are finally getting their due. After New York Attorney General Letitia James meticulously investigated sexual harassment claims against Governor Andrew Cuomo and released a scathing report containing evidence that he harassed 11 women, he resigned from office effective August 24.

      • Racial Socialism

        In this flip-flop of race theory, responsibility has shifted from the individual to society, and solutions have shifted from human morality and conscious intention (rooted in personal guilt and punishment), to mass social engineering (designed to reconfigure intersections to redistribute equal outcomes, all in the name of social justice). What you think doesn’t matter. It’s who you are socially that counts.

        To reconfigure intersections is to rewrite the rules by which most institutions and common social practices function. The cause celebre for early CRT thinkers on reconfiguring intersections was a 1974 supreme court case, Millekan vs. Bradley. The court’s earlier landmark l954 decision in Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, KS, outlawed outright segregation in public schools, but failed to address other factors apart from legally instituted segregation which might result in de facto segregation.

      • Nationwide Nabisco Strikes Demonstrate Growing Strength of the Labor Movement
      • Imprisoned in Sundown Towns: the Racial Politics of My Domestic Exile
      • Curfew and Cops Are Not Hurricane Relief for the Poor, Says Mutual Aid Activist
      • A Plea for Help from New Orleans: Curfew & Cops Are Not Aid for the Poor After Ida, Says Malik Rahim

        As the death toll from the remnants of Hurricane Ida in the northeastern United States climbs to 46, President Biden is visiting New Orleans, which is under curfew enforced by police and the National Guard as most of the city remains in the dark amid sweltering temperatures. “This is truly déjà vu,” says Malik Rahim, who joins us by phone from the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, where he co-founded the mutual aid group Common Ground Collective after Hurricane Katrina. “This hurricane happened when it was the worst time in America to be poor.”

      • Berkeley in the ’60s: Epicenter of the Counter Culture

        Arriving for my freshman year at SFO, I met a “typical” out-of-state student—barefoot, covered in political buttons, carrying a guitar case. “What organizations do you belong to?” she asked me. She was the perfect entre to the place and set me to worrying if I would measure up: Was I cool enough for Berkeley? It was a question that would haunt me the entire time I was there. The answer was invariably no, but held out the promise that by the time I graduated I just might be.

        Coming from conservative, conventional Washington, D.C., the Bay Area was a hotbed of energy, progressive ideals, and activism, the likes of which I’d never seen. The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland several weeks after I arrived, in October of 1966, and quickly spread to other cities around the country. In November of 1969, Native Americans began their occupation of Alcatraz, and although it ended after a year and a half, it was considered instrumental to the restoration of thousands of acres of tribal lands, including the famed Blue Lake behind the Taos Pueblo.

      • Opinion | Texas GOP To Taliban: Hold My Beer and See Privatized Fascism At Fervent Work
      • Biden Administration Should Grant Clemencies and Oppose Racist “Risk Assessment”
      • The cops started it

        As the candidates arrived one by one that Tuesday morning, each came to me sick with despair and grief. All four were on the phones all night long with constituents and community. The Minneapolis police had killed someone again. It was bad. Grotesquely bad. There was a video. A Roosevelt student recorded it. It happened at 38th and Chicago.

        That last part hurt. It was unsettling. Things were loaded. I thought of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Justine Damond. I thought about the cycles of anger and outrage each of those murders generated. Actions and reactions. Repercussions compounding over the years.

      • Oppose co-ed policy: Jamiat to non-Muslims

        Prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Monday advocated setting up of separate schools and colleges for girls and said non-Muslims should also refrain from giving co-education to their daughters to “keep them away from immorality and misbehaviour”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Digital Advertising: Another Unintended Casualty of the House Breakup Bills?

        As with several other business models, advertising-supported Internet services and their users are on the list of potential collateral damage from the House package of tech regulatory proposals introduced earlier this summer. This legislative package, collectively dubbed the ‘breakup bills’ for their focus on government structural interventions to solve perceived ills, stands to make digital advertising less safe and less useful.

    • Monopolies

      • Copyrights

        • “Holly+” unsettles narratives of voice ownership and offers a vision of communal music making

          In July 2021, Berlin-based electronic musician Holly Herndon launched a new project called Holly+. Holly+ is an artificial intelligence voice model that, when fed any song or recording, outputs a version “sung” in Herndon’s voice–like an audio deepfake. The model has been trained on Herndon’s vocal recordings, creating a “vocal puppetry” effect that bears resemblance to Herndon’s real voice but retains a unique “machine learning, scratchy kind of neural net sound.” In essence, Holly+ turns Herndon’s voice into an instrument from which to build new pieces of music.

          Anyone can feed a song into Holly+ for free and publish the resulting track. If a user wants to use the track for commercial purposes, negotiations move onto the blockchain. Control and rights over Holly+ in commercial settings are controlled using a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) on the blockchain. The DAO–currently composed of Herndon’s friends, family, supporters, and artists contributing to Holly+–makes the decisions about licensing agreements and commercialization of Holly+ works. The profits are split between the new artist, DAO members, and Herndon. If a song is approved by the DAO, it will be minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) and sold via the blockchain-based Zora auction house.

        • Meet CC Summit Presenter: Dr. Kavita Batra
        • Take-Two Sues Enthusiasts Behind GTA Fan Projects re3 & reVC

          Take-Two Interactive has sued several programmers and enthusiasts said to be behind the popular re3 and reVC Grand Theft Auto fan projects. The lawsuit says that after the company filed a DMCA takedown notice to remove the projects from Github, the defendants filed a bad faith counter notice to have the content reinstated, thus triggering this copyright infringement lawsuit.

        • Anti-Piracy Alliance Calls For a ‘Staydown’ Requirement in EU’s Digital Services Act

          The Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance has compiled a list of amendments to improve the Digital Service Act proposal, which is the official successor to the E-Commerce Directive. The group calls for staydown requirements, to ensure that pirated material stays offline. In addition, it would like to see repeat copyright infringers being permanently disconnected.

        • Sony Music Says DNS Service Is Implicated In Copyright Infringement At The Domains It Resolves

          One of the characteristics of maximalist copyright companies is their limitless sense of entitlement. No matter how much copyright is extended, be it in duration, or breadth of application, they want it extended even more. No matter how harsh the measures designed to tackle copyright infringement, they want them made yet harsher. And no matter how distantly connected to an alleged copyright infringement a company or organization or person may be, they want even those bystanders punished.

        • Mystery Over Fake Section 1201 Takedown Claims Sent By ‘Video Industry Association of America’ Deepens

          It was only a week or so ago that we discussed the latest example of the type of fake DMCA notices that Google gets to delist certain URLs from search results. In this instance, a couple of factors made these DMCA notices even more problematic than usual. For starters, they claim to be coming from the U.S. Copyright Office, which very much does not send in DMCA notices like this. On top of that, the notices claim they are being sent by the U.S. Copyright Office on behalf of the Video Industry Association of America which, as I noted in my original post, doesn’t seem to actually exist. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these are notices for Section 1201 claims, which deal with anti-circumvention aspects of copyright law, that target mostly stream-ripping sites and sites that cover or guide legit uses of those sites. Notably, Google does not have an appeal process for 1201 notices, leaving anyone who got delisted basically screwed.

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DecorWhat Else is New

  1. Links 01/04/2023: Red Hat Turning 30

    Links for the day

  2. Links 31/03/2023: Mozilla Turns 25 and OpenMandriva 23.03

    Links for the day

  3. IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 31, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, March 31, 2023

  4. Linus Tech (Illiteracy) Tips, LTT, Buys Phoronix Media

    Phoronix Media is being acquired by a larger company; the site will not change though

  5. Decided to Quit Debian and Use WSL Instead (Best of Both Worlds)

    Today starts a journey to a “better” experience, which lets Microsoft audit the kernel and leverage telemetry to improve my Debian experience

  6. Microsoft Has Laid Off Lennart Poettering and Hired Elon Musk

    Poettering gets rehired by IBM; IBM and Microsoft announce merger, putting Poettering back into his former position

  7. Links 31/03/2023: Ruby 3.2.2 and Linux Lite 6.4

    Links for the day

  8. Links 31/03/2023: Devices and Games, Mostly Leftovers

    Links for the day

  9. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, March 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, March 30, 2023

  10. Links 31/03/2023: Ubuntu 23.04 Beta, Donald Trump Indicted, and Finland’s NATO Bid Progresses

    Links for the day

  11. Translating the Lies of António Campinos (EPO)

    António Campinos has read a lousy script full of holes and some of the more notorious EPO talking points; we respond below

  12. [Meme] Too Many Fake European Patents? So Start Fake European Courts for Patents.

    António Campinos, who sent EPO money to Belarus, insists that the EPO is doing well; nothing could be further from the truth and EPO corruption is actively threatening the EU (or its legitimacy)

  13. Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann in RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland About Declining Quality and Declining Validity of European Patents (for EPO and Illegal Kangaroo Courts)

    Companies are not celebrating the “production line” culture fostered by EPO management, which is neither qualified for the job nor wants to adhere to the law (it's intentionally inflating a bubble)

  14. Links 30/03/2023: HowTos and Political News

    Links for the day

  15. Links 30/03/2023: LibreOffice 7.5.2 and Linux 6.2.9

    Links for the day

  16. Links 30/03/2023: WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy” and OpenMandriva ROME 23.03

    Links for the day

  17. Sirius is Britain’s Most Respected and Best Established Open Source Business, According to Sirius Itself, So Why Defraud the Staff?

    Following today's part about the crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ another video seemed to be well overdue (those installments used to be daily); the video above explains to relevance to Techrights and how workers feel about being cheated by a company that presents itself as “Open Source” even to some of the highest and most prestigious public institutions in the UK

  18. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, March 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Wednesday, March 29, 2023

  19. [Meme] Waiting for Standard Life to Deal With Pension Fraud

    The crimes of Sirius ‘Open Source’ were concealed with the authoritative name of Standard Life, combined with official papers from Standard Life itself; why does Standard Life drag its heels when questioned about this matter since the start of this year?

  20. Former Staff of Sirius Open Source Responds to Revelations About the Company's Crimes

    Crimes committed by the company that I left months ago are coming to light; today we share some reactions from other former staff (without naming anybody)

  21. Among Users in the World's Largest Population, Microsoft is the 1%

    A sobering look at India shows that Microsoft lost control of the country (Windows slipped to 16% market share while GNU/Linux grew a lot; Bing is minuscule; Edge fell to 1.01% and now approaches “decimal point” territories)

  22. In One City Alone Microsoft Fired Almost 3,000 Workers This Year (We're Still in March)

    You can tell a company isn’t doing well when amid mass layoffs it pays endless money to the media — not to actual workers — in order for this media to go crazy over buzzwords, chaffbots, and other vapourware (as if the company is a market leader and has a future for shareholders to look forward to, even if claims are exaggerated and there’s no business model)

  23. Links 29/03/2023: InfluxDB FDW 2.0.0 and Erosion of Human Rights

    Links for the day

  24. Links 29/03/2023: Parted 3.5.28 and Blender 3.5

    Links for the day

  25. Links 29/03/2023: New Finnix and EasyOS Kirkstone 5.2

    Links for the day

  26. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, March 28, 2023

    IRC logs for Tuesday, March 28, 2023

  27. [Meme] Fraud Seems Standard to Standard Life

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has embezzled and defrauded staff; now it is being protected (delaying and stonewalling tactics) by those who helped facilitate the robbery

  28. 3 Months to Progress Pension Fraud Investigations in the United Kingdom

    Based on our experiences and findings, one simply cannot rely on pension providers to take fraud seriously (we’ve been working as a group on this); all they want is the money and risk does not seem to bother them, even when there’s an actual crime associated with pension-related activities

  29. 36,000 Soon

    Techrights is still growing; in WordPress alone (not the entire site) we’re fast approaching 36,000 posts; in Gemini it’s almost 45,500 pages and our IRC community turns 15 soon

  30. Contrary to What Bribed (by Microsoft) Media Keeps Saying, Bing is in a Freefall and Bing Staff is Being Laid Off (No, Chatbots Are Not Search and Do Not Substitute Web Pages!)

    Chatbots/chaffbot media noise (chaff) needs to be disregarded; Microsoft has no solid search strategy, just lots and lots of layoffs that never end this year (Microsoft distracts shareholders with chaffbot hype/vapourware each time a wave of layoffs starts, giving financial incentives for publishers to not even mention these; right now it’s GitHub again, with NDAs signed to hide that it is happening)

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