Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 29/7/2021: siduction 2021.2 and Xubuntu 21.10 Dev Update

  • Leftovers

    • Confessions of an Ecumenical Leftist

      I’m 54 years old, and I’ve been some kind of an activist since I was 12.€  I learn a little more with each passing year on Earth, but lately the pace has accelerated, along with everything else.€  I was raised by musicians, and I became one myself early on.€  When I started writing songs about different social movement activities and notable moments in history from around the US and the world, I started meeting more and more people from everywhere, and touring everywhere, too.€  As a songwriter and performer I’ve been able to participate in social movements on an ongoing basis in a dozen or so countries, spending most of my adult life on the road, doing that.

      When I was a kid, up until my early twenties, I went to protests and participated a very little bit in some actual organizing, but mostly I guess I thought that constantly haranguing people to come around to my worldview was activism.€  Mostly it just turned people off, and I lost a lot of friends, and didn’t enact any social change in the process either, as far as I could tell.€  Once, when I guess I was around 22 years old, I shouted from the audience to a couple of my favorite folk musicians, because they said something nice about pacifism.€  They didn’t know who I was, and they looked frightened.€  There were many other instances like that.

    • Spread the Word
    • Jackie Mason, Comedian, and “The Evil that Men [sic] Do…”

      Mason was one of many Jewish comedians who cut their teeth in front of audiences at well-known resorts in the Catskills. Almost all the known names in live comedy from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s have comedic roots in places like Grossinger’s and the Concord, to name a few of the resort venues that were lost to time when jet flight became well within the reach of the middle class and middle-class Jews.

      For the price of a week or two during the summer in the Catskill Mountains, a family or individual could experience culture and historic sites around the world. Despite attempts to keep the lifeblood of the Catskills going, the resorts died one by one and by the 1980s and early 1990s, and the vast majority were gone forever.

    • Academentia: the Organization Insanity of the Modern University

      The keen observer may be familiar with the term Managerialism. Yet a more recent concept is that of Academentia. The term “Academentia” combines “academia” (post-secondary education) with “dementia” (progressive impairments to memory, thinking and behaviour which negatively impacts on a person’s ability to function). In short, Academentia describes a state of organisational insanity in which academics can no longer function as scholars.

      Academentia is the outcome of a severe loss of touch with the scholarly reality of universities due to an environment shaped by the ideology of Managerialism and Neoliberalism. Such an often rather toxic environment is run by a university’s very own managerial apparatchiks. This is a hierarchically structured management body with several layers ranging from line managers to CEOs. The latter are still called Vice-Chancellors and university presidents.

    • The Apocalypse is Now

      Yet, modern day society is proving that apocalypse has multiple possible outcomes. In fact, a case can be made that it’s never been closer to reality because it’s already happening here and there.

      At the turn of the new century Frontline aired a two-hour PBS Special, APOCALYPSE! The program traced the evolution of apocalyptic belief from its origin within the Jewish experience after Babylonian exile, to modern times. Historians and biblical scholars were interviewed to discuss the concept of End Times and doomsday in order to elucidate the ideas of mass destruction and how those ideas shape the cultural world. Indeed, the concept of apocalypse has influenced civilization in a multitude of ways for over 2,000 years.

    • Science

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Family Farm Action Alliance Releases Report to 'Counter Big Ag's Deception'

        In an effort to inform policymakers, advocates, and the public about the impacts of agrifood corporations on the U.S. food system and build support for transforming the nation's agricultural practices, the Family Farm Action Alliance released a new report on Wednesday that details how Big Ag's survival depends on externalizing costs and perpetuating myths about the supposed lack of more just and sustainable alternatives.

        "If we come together to make different choices, we can have a competitive and democratized system that serves the needs of all Americans."—Emily Miller, Family Farm Action Alliance

      • As Delta Wreaks Havoc, Biden Faces Growing Pressure to Force Big Pharma to Share Vaccine Recipes

        With a proposed patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines still mired in fruitless talks at the World Trade Organization, U.S. President Biden is facing growing calls to use his legal authority to force pharmaceutical giants to share their vaccine recipes as governments around the world race to combat the fast-spreading Delta variant.

        "The U.S. government has power to share vaccine manufacturing knowledge and help other countries scale up production."—Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen

      • New York's Mental Health Response Pilot Program More Responsive, Less Likely To End In Hospitalization Than Sending Out Cops

        Earlier this year, the city of New York announced plans to send mental health professionals out to deal with mental health issues, rather than the standard-issue cops-and-EMS response teams. It's an idea that's gained recent popularity, given the difficulty law enforcement officers seem to have when dealing with things they're not specifically trained to handle. And by "difficulty," I mean a lot of people who need professional help were instead being "treated" with force deployment, arrests, and the far-more-than-occasional killing.

      • Physicians Group Documents 'Severe' Health and Human Rights Impacts of US Expulsion Policy

        A detailed investigation released Wednesday by Physicians for Human Rights documents the "profound" physical and mental health harms that a U.S. expulsion policy has inflicted on asylum-seeking adults and children, thousands of whom have been forcibly removed in recent months under a Trump-era order that the Biden administration has left largely intact.

        "U.S. policy is ensnaring people in a deadly dilemma, where they are unsafe in their home country, unsafe in Mexico, and yet unable to seek safety at the U.S. border."—Michele Heisler, Physicians for Human Rights

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Vivaldi 4.1 Offers a New Command Chains System and Accordion Tabs

          Vivaldi 4.1 comes with a range of improvements and fixes that will help you save time and get more out of your browsing.

          Vivaldi comes from the same team that developed Opera back in the day. It is intended for power users and provides an impressive level of control over the interface. Vivaldi is one of the lesser-known browsers, but it is actually a really good choice if you value customization and privacy above all else.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Should Congress Close the FBI’s Backdoor for Spying on American Communications? Yes.

              This week, Congress will vote on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 4505). Among many other things, this bill contains all the funding for the Department of Justice for Fiscal Year 2022 along with certain restrictions on how the DOJ is allowed to spend taxpayer funds. Reps. Lofgren, Massie, Jayapal, and Davidson have offered an amendment to the bill that would prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to conduct warrantless wiretapping of US Persons conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. We strongly support this Amendment.

              Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires tech and telecommunications companies to provide the U.S. government with access to emails and other communications to aid in national security investigations--ostensibly when U.S. persons are in communication with foreign surveillance targets abroad or wholly foreign communications transit the U.S. But in this wide-sweeping dragnet approach to intelligence collection, companies allows government access and collection of a large amount of “incidental” communications--that is millions of untargeted communications of U.S. persons that are swept up with the intended data. Once it is collected, the FBI currently can bypass the 4th Amendment requirement of a warrant and sift through these “incidental” non-targeted communications of Americans -- effectively using Section 702 as a “backdoor” around the constitution. They’ve been told by the FISA Court this violates Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights but it has not seemed to stop them and, frustratingly, the FISA Court has failed to take steps to ensure that they stop.

              This amendment would not only forbid the DOJ from doing this activity, it would also send a powerful signal to the intelligence agency that Congress is serious about reform.

            • Governments Accused Of Spying On Journalists And Activists With NSO Group Malware Are Now Suing Journalists And Activists

              I don't think anyone foresaw the immense amount of fallout that would result from the revelation that Israeli malware purveyor NSO Group's Pegasus software is being used to target phones belonging to journalists, activists, religious leaders, and high-ranking government officials. After all, some of this was already common knowledge, thanks to investigations by Citizen Lab and others delving into the inner workings of this powerful spyware.

            • Nest Outage Takes Out Most Services (Updated)

              Yep, there is a Nest outage going on and it affects a lot of their products and services.

              At the time of this post, logins, setup & pairing, Nest Apps, the Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, and Nest Cam live video and history, are all listed as being down. Nest says they are investigating.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Exclusive: Haitians Reject Calls For US Military Intervention

        Two weeks after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the specter of U.S. military intervention looms large over the island nation. While the Biden administration has rebuffed a request for intervention made by Claude Joseph – a longtime NED asset whom Washington briefly backed as prime minister in the immediate aftermath of the killing – it has not completely ruled out the possibility.€ 

      • “To Hell and Back”: At Jan. 6 Hearing, Officers Describe Facing Brutal Attacks & Racial Slurs

        We speak with Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, about emotional testimony from four police officers who were attacked by violent and racist Trump supporters while defending the Capitol. At the opening of the House select committee hearing on the January 6 insurrection, the officers described facing down the rioters, being beaten with fists and makeshift weapons, as well as being called racial slurs and accused of treason by the pro-Trump crowds. “The fact that you had law enforcement officers from all backgrounds and walks of life who were being … treated in that manner is another example of white supremacy,” says Johnson.

      • Making War Obsolete

        Why have we not abolished war? The late Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institute said it is because people see a need to defend themselves from foreign occupations, coup d’états and/or dictatorial regimes, and we do not know there is another way. The mythology of conventional history as told by the dominators rules our minds. Sharp spent his whole life trying to educate and convince people that there is a more effective way to solve inevitable political conflicts. There is a practical nonviolent substitute for war and violent revolution.

        Civilian-based defense is the idea that a carefully prepared program where an educated and trained citizenry could defend a country using tactics like mass demonstrations, strikes of all kinds and economic shutdowns. Boycotts, mass stay-at-home campaigns, tax refusal and other means of nonviolent resistance are only effective if done by very large numbers—in which there is both safety and power.

      • Jim Jordan Admits on Fox News That He Spoke to Trump on January 6
      • Democrats Are Sticking to Trump’s Cuba Policies

        This week, House Democratic leadership killed an attempt to end aspects of former President Donald Trump’s punitive Cuba policies, which have led to severe food and medical shortages during the pandemic. As President Joe Biden doubles down on Trump’s approach, some progressives have been demanding an end to the US stranglehold on Cuba’s economy and trying to find ways to push for relief.

      • Republican Reaction to 1/6 Hearing Was an Explosion of Denial
      • Report from Maine: End the US Blockade Against Cuba Now!

        Justice-seeking peoples in the United States have joined in struggle to defend Cuban independence and/or Cuba’s revolution. This report from Maine takes note of two rainy day rallies on July 25, each of 25 or so people and each one held in protest of the U.S. blockade of Cuba. One was in Bangor, the other in Brunswick.

        These protesters and other Maine people know that the blockade is purposed to overthrow Cuba’s socialist government. € The author of a 1960 State Department memo – born in Houlton, Maine – made that perfectly clear.

      • America Isn’t ‘Back.’ Here’s Why.

        It was all so long ago, in a world seemingly without challengers. Do you even remember when we Americans lived on a planet with a recumbent Russia, a barely rising China, and no obvious foes except what later came to be known as an “axis of evil,” three countries then incapable of endangering this one? Oh, and, as it turned out, a rich young Saudi former ally, Osama bin Laden, and 19 hijackers, mostly of them also Saudis, from a tiny group called Al Qaeda that briefly possessed an “air force” of four commercial jets. No wonder this country was then touted as the greatest force, the superest superpower ever, sporting a military that left all others in the dust.

      • Drone Whistleblower Gets 45 Months in Prison for Revealing Ongoing US War Crimes
      • At ALEC's Annual Meeting, MAGA Hat-Wearing Members Pursue "America First Agenda"
      • Opinion | ALEC Inspires Lawmakers to File Anti-Critical Race Theory Bills
    • Environment

      • Irish Broadcaster RTÉ Apologises for Poor Climate Coverage

        Ireland’s national broadcaster has publicly apologised for failing to link recent extreme weather events to climate change, pledging to set up a dedicated climate reporting unit in the run-up to COP26.

        In an unusual move, RTÉ’s Managing Director of News and Current Affairs Jon Williams tweeted that the broadcaster had been wrong not to make the connection clear, calling it a “sin of omission” and insisting that the “lesson” had been “learned”.

        Stay up to date with DeSmog news and alerts

      • Opinion | Biden's Climate Pledges Are Incompatible With His Belligerence Toward China

        The Biden administration came into office promising a€ return to both climate action and diplomacy after years of confrontation and denialism under Trump. But when it comes to China, unfortunately, the administration has endangered both diplomacy and climate action by presiding over a€ reflexive bipartisan€ belligerence.

      • Planet's Vital Signs Are Reaching Dangerous 'Tipping Points' Amid Climate Crisis, Scientists Warn

        More than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down economies around the world and sharply reduced worldwide travel—sparking speculation among some that emissions would plummet as a result—a coalition of scientists said in a paper published Wednesday that the planet is nonetheless reaching multiple "tipping points," with levels of sea ice melt, deforestation, and other markers revealing that urgent action is needed to mitigate the climate emergency.

        "The extreme climate events and patterns that we've witnessed over the last several years — not to mention the last several weeks — highlight the heightened urgency with which we must address the climate crisis," said Philip Duffy, co-author of the study and executive director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts.

      • Energy

        • Washington County's New Rules Against Fossil Fuel Expansion Celebrated as 'Blueprint' for Nation

          In a move that comes as wildfires ravage the Western United States and could serve as a model for communities nationwide, the Whatcom County Council in Washington voted unanimously on Tuesday night to approve new policies aimed at halting local fossil fuel expansion.

          "Whatcom County's policy is a blueprint that any community, including refinery communities, can use to take action to stop fossil fuel expansion."—Matt Krogh,

        • Alabama Miners Take Strike to BlackRock's NYC Headquarters

          Chanting "Warrior Met has no soul—no contract, no coal," over 1,000 United Mine Workers of America members and their allies picketed outside multinational asset management firm BlackRock's headquarters in New York City Wednesday to demand better pay and benefits.

          Miners and labor activists from states including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Dakota, and West Virginia joined the picket lines in a show of solidarity with UMWA workers at Alabama's Brookwood Mine, operated by Warrior Met Coal, of which BlackRock is the largest shareholder. The Alabama miners have been on strike for over four months as they seek a new collective bargaining agreement with Warrior Met.

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • When Will Biden Get Tough?

        Biden has been playing Mr. Nice Guy in deference to his friends on the other side of the aisle after 36 years in the Senate while those Republican “friends” stampede all over him, making the president look weak and ineffectual. But maybe he’s starting to come around.

        The president attacked Trump by name at a rally Friday for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, mocking Trump for saying there were “wonderful people” at the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, as quoted in the book “I Alone Can Fix It,” by two Washington Post reporters, according to the Post’s coverage of the event.

      • Former Oregon GOP Rep. Pleads Guilty to Letting Violent Mob Into State Capitol
      • Senator Kennedy Continues To Push My Buttons With His Ridiculously Dumb 'Don't Push My Buttons' Act

        Last fall, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana (a supposedly smart Senator who seems to have decided his political future lies in acting dumber than 95% of all other Senators) introduced an anti-Section 230 bill. He's now done so again in the new Congressional session. The bill is, once again, called the "Don't Push My Buttons" Act and introducing such a piece of total garbage legislation a second time does not speak well of Senator Kennedy.

      • The GOP’s Continuing Descent into Opportunistic Treachery

        Now much is sliding backwards. It’s not Biden’s fault; it’s Trump’s ongoing legacy.

      • Workers Beg Joe Manchin to Save West Virginia Pharma Plant as His Daughter Walks Away with $31M

        More than 1,400 workers in West Virginia are set to lose their jobs this week when the Viatris pharmaceuticals plant in Morgantown shuts down and moves operations overseas to India and Australia. Workers say they’ve had no response to their urgent requests for help from their Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, who is often called the most powerful man in Washington. Viatris was formed through a merger between two pharmaceutical companies, Mylan and Upjohn. Mylan’s chief executive, Manchin’s daughter Heather Bresch, got a $31 million payout as a result of the corporate consolidation before the new company set about cutting costs, including the closure of the Morgantown plant. Joseph Gouzd, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 8-957 and a worker at the plant, says Viatris has given little reason for the closure except to say the company is looking to “maximize the best interests of the shareholders.” We also speak with investigative journalist Katherine Eban, who says moving pharmaceutical production overseas contradicts the recommendations of numerous reports that have found major safety lapses in drug manufacturing abroad, as well as concern from lawmakers about keeping a key industry within the United States. “This is pure insanity,” Eban says. “It seems like it is both pharmaceutical and national security suicide to close this plant.”

      • Opinion | Joe Biden's Relapse Into Hallucinations About GOP Leaders

        For a while, President Biden seemed to be recovering from chronic fantasies about Republicans in Congress. But last week he had a relapse—harming prospects for key progressive legislation and reducing the already slim hopes that the GOP can be prevented from winning control of the House and Senate in midterm elections 15 months from now.

      • In Texas, Poor People's Campaign Kicks Off 27-Mile 'March for Democracy'

        In Texas, activists from the Poor People's Campaign€ embarked on a four-day, 27-mile€ "March for Democracy" on Wednesday to demand that Senate Democrats counteract the GOP's assault on voting rights and the GOP-led assault on low-wage workers by repealing the filibuster and enacting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the For the People Act, a $15 federal minimum wage, and protections for undocumented immigrants.

        "Maybe it is a poetic irony that on the... first day of hearings on the violent insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, we are beginning a march for democracy," Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, said€ at a press conference Tuesday. "Ours is not an insurrection, but a moral resurrection."

      • Republicans Throw Tantrums, Assault Staff After House Doctor Renews Mask Mandate
      • Pelosi Under Fire for Parroting 'Right-Wing Lies' Against Student Loan Debt Cancellation

        House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was met with swift backlash Wednesday after she claimed that President Joe Biden does not have the authority to cancel federal student loan debt on his own, a position that puts her at odds with legal experts and prominent members of her own party.

        "You couldn't have a worse message than this one, both factually untrue and politically suicidal."—The Debt Collective

      • Keir Starmer Turning Against Social Democracy a la Tony Blair

        First, he pledged to adhere to Labour’s 2019 election manifesto commitments. These include:

        These pledges have disappeared from Starmers’s purview.

      • Diagnosing the Morales Campaign Meltdown

        The complete meltdown of Dianne Morales’s New York City mayoral campaign was like a live-action parody of Tolstoy’s opening line from Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”1

      • In New York City, New Jails Threaten Dreams For True Community Spaces and Restorative Architecture

        In 2019, New York City made the historic pledge to shutter the 89-year-old Rikers Island jail complex by 2026. In the years since, budget restrictions and the pandemic have at once pushed back the proposed timeline and heightened the urgency to address conditions on the island.€ 

        Even as the timeline shifts, a highly controversial piece of the plan remains: the creation of four new borough-based jails, intended in-part to replace the city’s existing facilities in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. These new facilities, which have been billed as “safer, smaller, and fairer,” are presented by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration as a departure from Rikers’ notoriously dangerous conditions.€ 

      • ‘The police are knocking’: Investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov taken in for questioning following raid on his home

        Roman Dobrokhotov, the editor-in-chief of the investigative outlet The Insider, was reportedly planning to leave Russia on July 28. But at 7:30 in the morning, the police came knocking at his door. Law enforcement raided Dobrokhotov’s apartment, seizing not only his electronic devices but also his international passport. The Insider believes the raid is in connection with a libel case initiated on behalf of Max van der Werff — a Dutch blogger who The Insider has linked to the Russian GRU. Roman Dobrokhotov’s lawyer says the journalist is currently considered a witness in the case. The raid on Dobrokhotov’s home comes less than a week after the Russian Justice Ministry designated The Insider as a “foreign agent.”

    • Misinformation/Disinformation

      • Disentangling Disinformation: Not as Easy as it Looks

        Disinformation about the vaccines is certainly contributing to their slow uptake in various parts of the U.S. as well as other countries. This disinformation is spreading through a variety of ways: Local communities, family WhatsApp groups, FOX television hosts, and yes, Facebook.€ The activists pushing for Facebook to remove these “superspreaders” are not wrong: while Facebook does currently ban some COVID-19 mis- and disinformation, urging the company to enforce its own rules more evenly is a tried-and-true tactic.

        But while disinformation “superspreaders” are easy to identify based on the sheer amount of information they disseminate, tackling disinformation at a systemic level is not an easy task, and some of the policy proposals we’re seeing have us concerned. Here’s why.

        In the United States, it was only a few decades ago that the medical community deemed homosexuality a mental illness. It took serious activism and societal debate for the medical community to come to an understanding that it was not. Had Facebook been around—and had we allowed it to be arbiter of truth—that debate might not have flourished.

      • Has the law finally caught up with autism bleach quack Kerri Rivera?

        With all the COVID-19 misinformation and quackery that I’ve been writing about over the last nearly year and a half, I realize that I don’t always cover the usual topics that I’ve covered for nearly 17 years to the degree that I am used to (and want to). As wild as the examples of COVID-19 misinformation, disinformation, and quackery that I’ve discussed, though, I’m hard pressed to think of an example of a COVID-19 quack as despicable as Kerri Rivera, who was featured several times on this blog (pre-pandemic) for her rather—shall we say?—novel idea that she can treat autism by feeding autistic children bleach. Even worse, her protocol involved bleach enemas, which frequently led to such irritation of the colon that sloughed intestinal lining could be seen in these children’s stools, leading their misguided parents to think that “parasites” were being eliminated. Unsurprisingly, when the pandemic first hit early last year, it took Rivera only a month or so before she was recommending bleach to treat COVID-19.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • FCC Cheered for Cleaning Up After Pai Awarded Contracts to Connect 'Empty Parking Lots'

        The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday a round of funding for new broadband deployments and its intention to "clean up issues" stemming from former chairman Ajit Pai's mismanagement of a program meant to bring connectivity to rural areas.

        At issue is the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Adopted in 2020, the "program can do great things, but it requires thoughtful oversight," FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, whom President Joe Biden tapped to lead the agency, said (pdf) in a press statement.

      • ISPs Abuse FCC Covid Broadband Discount Program, Showing It's A Band Aid On A Much Bigger Problem
      • EFF at 30: Freeing the Internet, with Net Neutrality Pioneer Gigi Sohn

        To celebrate 30 years of defending online freedom, EFF held a candid live discussion with net neutrality pioneer and EFF board member Gigi Sohn, who served as Counselor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and co-founder of leading advocacy organization Public Knowledge. Joining the chat were Senior Legislative Counsel at EFF Ernesto Falcon and Associate Director of Policy and Activism Katharine Trendacosta. You can watch the full conversation here.

        In my perfect world, everyone’s connected to a future proof, fast, affordable—and open—internet.

        On July 28, we’ll be holding our final EFF30 Fireside Chat—a "Founders Edition." EFF's Executive Director, Cindy Cohn will be joined by some of our founders and early board members, Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, and John Gilmore, to discuss everything from EFF's origin story and its role in digital rights to where€ we are€ today.

    • Monopolies

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