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More US-Sponsored Middle East Aggression

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 19:40
More US-Sponsored Middle East Aggression
by Stephen Lendman
Washington already turned Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria into free-fire cauldrons of violence, instability and chaos.
It partners with Israel's long war on Palestine. It backs the most of the world’s worst tinpot despots - all Middle East ones.
It's responsible for millions of deaths and appalling human suffering.
It's now using Saudi and other thuggish Gulf states as imperial proxies - waging war on Yemen, naked aggression by any standard.
International law is clear and unequivocal. No nation may interfere in the internal affairs of others. 
None may attack others except in self-defense. Doing so requires Security Council authorization.
Otherwise it's strictly prohibited at all times, under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions.
All US post-WW II direct and proxy wars were and remain illegal acts of aggression.
Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert Jackson called it "the supreme international crime against peace" - greater than any other.
No nation in world history is more culpable than America. None caused more irreparable harm to countless millions over a longer duration.
US Yemeni policy bears full responsibility for current chaotically violent conditions.
Washington continues mass murdering innocent victims globally. Its lawless drone war on Yemen killed countless hundreds. 
A cynical White House statement "strongly condem(ed) ongoing military actions taken by the Houthis against the" US-installed puppet regime.
It expressed phony concern about the welfare of the Yemeni people - the same ones America has been murdering for years.
Yemeni's US-installed president Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi has no legitimacy whatever.
Houthi rebels ousted him from power. Washington coordinated with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to wage war to reinstate him.
It established "a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia('s) (despotic regime) to coordinate US military and intelligence support."
It pledged further action against "imminent threats" to US regional dominance.
It wants nothing interfering with its divine right to ravage, destroy, control and plunder one country after another.
Murdering millions of people is considered a small price to pay. Establishing viciously oppressive despotic rule is called democracy building.
Plundering nations is considered economic development. Exploiting people is called liberating them.
Thursday headlines announced Saudi-led air war on Yemen.
Al-Arabiya said the kingdom mobilized 150,000 troops, 100 warplanes, artillery and other heavy weapons, as well as naval units for ongoing operations.
Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Morocco are involved. Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan announced readiness to participate.
An Egyptian junta statement said:
"There is coordination ongoing now with Saudi Arabia and the brotherly gulf countries about preparations to participate with an Egyptian air and naval forces and ground troops if necessary."
Saudi ambassador to Washington announced what's ongoing saying:
"We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling" - to return an illegitimate thug to power.
Troubled Yemen faces all-out war. Millions are threatened with death, destruction, and greater misery than before.
It's already the region's most impoverished country. Its security officials said Saudi airstrikes targeted a camp for US special forces now controlled by Houthi rebels.
Other targets included Sanaa's Duleimi missile base and fuel depot.
A Houthi statement said they responded with anti-aircraft missiles.
Yemen may again end up divided. Houthis control northern areas, including the capital Sanaa.
They advanced into southern regions, seized Yemen's third largest city Taiz, took much of Lahj province, and may have captured Aden.
They control most of Yemen's military - including its best equipped and trained elements.
On Wednesday, Houthi official Ahmed al Bahri said rebel military operations were launched earlier because Hadi allied with Al Qaeda.
Houthi forces aim to prevent "terrorist militants (from) turn(ing) (Yemen) into chaos," he claimed.
On Wednesday, Houthis captured Hadi's defense minister (Mahmood al Subaihi), top military commander (Faisal Rajab), and Hadi's brother, Nasser.
Arrests took place in Lahij province, bordering Aden.
Saudi-led Yemeni aggression coincided with US warplanes terror-bombing Tikrit, Iraq.
US strategy perhaps intends setting the entire region ablaze.
Wherever America shows up or exerts unwarranted influence, death, destruction and appalling human misery follow.
If Yemeni warplanes retaliate against Saudi oil facilities, the impact could be potentially huge.
Houthi official Mohammed al Bukhait warned against spreading Arabian peninsula "wide war."
Saying "(t)he Yemeni people are a free people and they will confront the aggressors. I will remind you that the Saudi government and the Gulf governments will regret this aggression."
Fars News reported Houthi forces seizing control of most of Aden. Fighting just began. Washington initiated aggression can go on for years.
How many more millions of deaths are tolerable? How much more mass destruction? When will free societies say no more?
When will America be universally condemned for waging war on humanity? When will peace replace endless wars?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Locking In Public Access to Scientific Knowledge by Unlocking Scholarly Research

eff.org - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 08:29

Promising public access legislation FASTR (Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act) has been re-introduced by a bipartisan coalition in Congress. Lawmakers now have an important opportunity to strengthen and expand rules that allow taxpayers to freely read articles resulting from research their tax dollars support. EFF continues to encourage legislators to pass this bill as an important step forward—though there are still some measures to improve.

Take action to support FASTR right now.

Shortly after FASTR was initially introduced in 2013, the White House released a directive requiring the results of research funded by major federal government entities to be made freely available to the public. In the two years since, eight agencies and departments have begun complying with that directive by releasing plans for putting research online.

Those steps have been successful and effective, and make a strong case for FASTR. The White House Directive is good, but codifying it through Congressional legislation would create a more stable rule, guaranteeing that the public's access is placed beyond the reach of any future presidential administration with different priorities.

Further, FASTR would strengthen the public access provisions in the Directive by reducing the embargo period—the length of time after research is published before it must be made freely available to the public—from 12 months down to six.

One major drawback of both the White House Directive and the FASTR legislation is the lack of an open licensing requirement. Public access is an important first step, but without open licensing, valuable secondary uses—like data mining, major cross-discipline analysis projects, and redistribution efforts—could be caught under a cloud of copyright uncertainty. In order to make the upgrade from “public access” to real “Open Access,” future rules should include a requirement for the products of research to be released under a free license, like the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license EFF uses for its publications.

Tell your lawmakers to support FASTR today.

FASTR's reintroduction comes at an exciting time for the open access movement: the movement has now been building steam for over a decade, and has chalked up some major successes. Also last week, the Wikimedia Foundation released a thorough Open Access policy that sets a strong example for non-governmental organizations. Under that policy, the results of research that Wikimedia supports through grants or collaboration must be released under a free license.

Related Issues: InnovationOpen Access
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US- Created Violene and Chaos in Yemen

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 03:36
US-Created Violence and Chaos in Yemen
by Stephen Lendman
Yemen is one of many examples of what happens following lawless US intervention.
Obama waged drone war on Yemen throughout his tenure - indiscriminately killing many hundreds of defenseless victims, mostly civilians.
Like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Palestine, Yemen is a cauldron of violence and instability threatening to spin entirely out-of-control.
In January, Houthi forces ousted US-backed Ab-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's regime. They took over the presidential palace.
They extended control to other parts of the country. Last year, Obama ludicrously touted Yemen as a success story.
Saying US strategy "of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."
US interventionist strategy created violence, instability and chaos in both countries - much like virtually elsewhere else Washington intervenes lawlessly.
Houthis control the capital Sanaa, Taiz (Yemen's 3rd largest city), other areas, and head toward seizing Aden. 
In February, Hadi fled there from Sanaa. Declared himself still president. 
Reports now indicate he fled the country after Houthi forces approached Aden.
They seized al-Annad air base near Lahij - about 60 km from Aden. Hadi established it as a temporary capital.
US personnel were evacuated from the country. Witnesses saw a convoy of presidential vehicles leaving Hadi's residence on a hill overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Reports indicate he fled by boat as Houthis advanced. AP said he left with aides around 3:30PM local time Wednesday - in two vessels under heavy security.
His destination wasn't disclosed. He's scheduled to attend an Arab summit this weekend in Egypt.
AP reported Houthis "closing in on Aden…(T)he city's fall appears imminent" as of midday Wednesday.
Yemen heads toward exploding in full-blown civil war. Involving IS fighters for good measure - US proxies used to help Washington regain control.
If things turn out like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, years of fighting may follow on top of what's already happened.
Hadi asked UN officials to authorize foreign military intervention.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal warned Riyadh may take "necessary measures" if Houthis don't resolve things peacefully - with no further elaboration. More on this below.
Hadi's Gulf State allies evacuated their Aden-based diplomatic personnel. Earlier they relocated them from Sanaa.
Houthis occupied Yemen's capital last August. Seizing the presidential palace in January forced Hadi's resignation.
Houthi leader Abdel Malik al Houthi leader's cousin Mohammed Ali al Houthi was declared new president.
Hadi was placed under house arrest. He escaped, fled to Aden, organized supportive military forces, and now apparently fled Yemen altogether.
The Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee called on security forces and civilians to fight what it called "terrorist forces across the country."
Obama bears full responsibility for Yemeni chaos. Drone warfare followed his December 2009 missile attack on Al Majan village.
It killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.
UN special advisor on Yemen Jamal Benomar addressed an emergency Security Council session on Yemen via video conference.
Things are headed for a "rapid downward spiral," he said.
"Emotions are running extremely high and, unless solutions can be found, the country will fall into further violent confrontations." 
"Events in Yemen are leading the country away from political settlement and to the edge of civil war."
Humanitarian crisis conditions affect over 60% of the population. UN sources call Yemen "a patchwork of simmering feuds."
On March 20, suicide bombers targeted Sanaa mosques during Friday prayers - killing at least 126, injuring scores more.
Yemen grows increasingly violent and chaotic. A meaningless Security Council statement said:
"(T)he solution to the situation in Yemen is through a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for peaceful change and meaningful political, economic and social reform."
Violence continues unabated. Last weekend, Saudi and other Gulf states issued a statement backing Hadi's regime.
They announced their willingness to use "all efforts" to defend it.
Saudi Arabia deployed heavy weapons along its border with Yemen. A porous 1,800 km border separates the two countries.
Conditions remain chaotic. Houthis claim they seized Aden. Reuters said Hadi's defense minister was arrested.
So far, Saudi forces haven't moved cross border. Air strikes may be planned - maybe joint ones with Washington.
Hadi wants Security Council authorization for force - "to provide immediate support for the legitimate authority by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression," he said.
Yemeni military officials calling themselves the Higher Committee to Preserve the Armed Forces and Security reject foreign intervention, saying:
"We express our total and utter rejection of any external interference in Yemeni affairs under any pretext and in any form and from any side."
"All members of the armed forces and security and all the sons of the proud people of Yemen with all its components will confront with all their strength and heroism any attempt to harm the pure soil of the homeland, its independence or its sovereignty or to threaten its unity and territorial integrity."
Last month, Houthi leader Abdel Malik al Houthi accused Saudi Arabia of wanting Yemen divided along sectarian lines, saying:
"Our elder sister, the Saudi kingdom, doesn't respect the Yemenis and wants to impose here in Yemen the sequence of events and divisions that happened in Libya."
Whether Saudi forces intend attacking Yemen remains to be seen. What Obama has in mind matters most.
He's engulfed large parts of the region in conflict and chaos. Maybe he'll compound it by greater intervention in Yemen.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Tech Companies and Privacy Advocates to Congress: End Mass Spying Now

eff.org - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 01:52

A letter sent from major tech companies and civil society groups demanded Congress end the mass collection of calling records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act before an upcoming June 1 expiration date. The letter was signed by the Reform Government Surveillance coalition; which represents major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo; and, privacy groups like ACLU and EFF.

Specifically, the letter urges

a clear, strong, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA PATRIOT Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and the Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices.  Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.

Even though the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence have said the USA Freedom Act retains operational capabilities, the commitment by companies to end bulk collection is an important step in a Republican-led Congress that has increasingly used national security threats to stave off Section 215 reform.

The letter sends Congress a clear message: any bill to reform Section 215 must end mass collection, provide transparency requirements, and avoid adding any data retention or technology mandates. In the past we've defined ending bulk collection as a simple ban on mass spying. Similarly, groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology have noted that ending bulk collection means prohibiting the large-scale government collection and retention of non-public records about persons who are not connected to national security threats. Other groups, like the Open Technology Institute, have included the use of "an exclusive list of 'unique' identifiers" as a way to successfully end mass collection under Section 215.

We agree. And we hope Congress gets the message that any bill to fix Section 215 must concretely end the mass collection of records.


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Israel Wants Iran Nuclear Deal Blocked

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/03/2015 - 01:25
Israel Wants Iran Nuclear Deal Blocked
by Stephen Lendman
An end of March deadline approaches for reaching a draft agreement ahead of an end of June comprehensive final one.
Sticking points remain. Iran wants nothing interfering with its legitimate nuclear power rights. 
It justifiably wants all lawless sanctions removed straightaway - or close to it.
Now may be Tehran's best chance for as much fairness as possible it won't likely see ahead for the foreseeable future.
Miss this opportunity and it may be lost. Whether Obama really wants a deal remains to be seen.
Friction with Iran has nothing to do with its nuclear program. The whole world knows it has no military component.
Suggesting otherwise now or ahead is red herring cover for Washington's longstanding regime change plans.
US policy tolerates no sovereign independent governments. It wants pro-Western stooge ones it controls. 
At the same time, Obama's tenure so far reflects total failure,  including: 
  • wrecking the economy;

  • looting the Treasury for Wall Street; 

  • creating longterm Main Street Depression conditions;

  • permanent wars;

  • presiding over a homeland police state apparatus;

  • spying on everyone illegally;

  • waging war on organized labor;

  • turning public education into another business profit center; and 

  • enriching healthcare providers at the expense of universal care for all.

Ending decades of anti-Iranian hostility would be something positive in his otherwise deplorable legacy.
Will or won't he go for it? Will he bite the bullet and do the right thing?
Or will he sabotage the best chance for rapprochement with Iran in decades - demanding what no responsible government would accept?
It's no secret Israel wants any possible deal blocked - under Netanyahu or anyone else.
It calls Iran's legitimate nuclear program threatening.
It perpetuates the myth about Tehran seeking Israel's destruction.
It wants regime change. It wants Iran eliminated as a regional rival.  It may be willing to go to war to achieve its objective.
On March 23, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks with US."
Saying Washington and other P5+1 nations learned Israel spied on their closed-door talks all along.
It was part of Netanyahu's scheme "to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal," the Journal cited current and former US officials saying. 
Israel "eavesdropp(ed), acquired information from confidential US briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe."
Espionage is common practice. Everyone watches everyone else.
White House officials were angered because Israel "share(d) inside information with US lawmakers and others" to scuttle any prospective deal reached.
According to an unnamed senior US official:
"It is one thing for the US and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal (its) secrets and play them back to (congressional) legislators to undermine US diplomacy."
Netanyahu and Israel's US ambassador Ron Dermer "early this year saw a rapidly closing window to increase pressure on Mr. Obama before a key" end of March draft deal deadline, said the Journal.
They believed their best strategy was lobbying Congress to kill or reshape what Israel can't do on its own - even at the expense of harming relations with Washington.
Things haven't worked as planned. Netanyahu's congressional address and other tactics alienated many Democrats.
It's well known Israel spies on America more aggressively than any of its other allies. It's been caught red-handed numerous times.
An unnamed senior Netanyahu official lied saying:
"These allegations are utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies." 
"The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share."
As closed-door talks with Iran progressed into 2013, US intelligence agencies monitored Israeli communications to learn what it knew.
It pretty much knew everything going on. Its fear-mongering campaign followed.
Israel considers any deal bad short of unconditional Iranian capitulation to demands no sovereign government would accept.
It's unclear whether US demands are just as tough. In days we'll know if a new draft agreement was reached.
If not, whether talks continue toward a new deadline. Or if things fell apart altogether because gaps are too wide to close.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Heading for WW III

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 21:52
Heading for WW III
by Stephen Lendman
The signs are ominous. US combat forces are directly aiding Ukraine's military.
It's readying for resumed war on Donbass. Congress wants more heavy weapons sent to Ukraine than already.
They've been covertly supplied since conflict began last April.
According to Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Prime Minister Alexander Zakhsrchenko:
"The United States is already supplying weapons there. For instance, in Debaltsevo we saw US ammunition. That’s a lethal weapon."  
"NATO planes land at the airports of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia and Kharkiv every day."
"Ukraine has not pulled back weapons. It is bringing them back. The pullout was a fake."
Zakharachenko believes junta forces may attack from the south and northwest to separate Donetsk from Lugansk.
"The way I see the situation, I believe there will be three attacks," he said. 
"The main group of the Ukrainian forces is concentrated in the areas of Volnovakha, Krasnogolovka, Artyomovsk, Kurakhovo and other communities."
They're positioning to attack. Minsk is dead. Ceasefire is pure fantasy. 
Junta forces violated it multiple times daily - over 50 times in the last 24 hours.
The Saker reports Poroshenko acting "as bellicose as ever, making grand statements about everything and running around (like a generalissimo) in battle fatigues."
So far he has Washington's support. For how long remains to be seen.
On Tuesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry blasted US and EU interference in Ukraine, saying:
"The policy of unabashed meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign states was implemented also in Ukraine where direct US and EU support led to the unconstitutional power change of February 2014 which, in turn, ignited a civil war in southeastern Ukraine."
"Unfortunately, numerous crimes committed against civilians by the Kiev military, the mass killings and the humanitarian catastrophe in Donetsk and Luhansk regions is something those who once bemoaned the human rights abuses in Kosovo just couldn’t care less about."
"The sheer logic of global progress and common threats and challenges urgently begs for collective decisions made within the framework of internationally recognized formats."
Instead, US bellicosity risks setting the entire continent ablaze.
Washington wants Russia eliminated as a global rival. Its aggressiveness may launch WW III.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly lies about nonexistent "Russian aggression" in Ukraine.
He said NATO is strengthening its collective defense more than any time since Soviet Russia dissolved.
He lied saying "Russian troops crossed the borders of its neighbors."
"They have annexed a part of another country and that is the first time since the end of the Second World War that that has happened in Europe."
He lied claiming Russian forces in Moldova and Georgia are working to destabilize Eastern Ukraine.
NATO is strengthening its Eastern European presence in readiness for war.
No Russian threat exists. US-dominated NATO invented one as pretext perhaps for war.
Britain marches in lockstep with Washington's imperial agenda. 
A report titled "Re-thinking defense to meet new threats" focuses on so-alled "reassurance measures" needed to meet nonexistent Russian threats.
Including menacing large-scale military exercises and beefing up US-led NATO's presence in countries close to Russia's borders.
British MPs want NATO's Eastern European presence enhanced. The report states:
"The US has made it clear that it perceives the UK's commitment as the lynchpin of the broader NATO commitment to increase defense spending."
"The current national security strategy is no longer adequate for this changed world, nor is the future force structure."
"The UK will need to make tough choices within limited resources, about what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do." 
"But it is vital to rethink the fundamental assumptions of our defense planning, if we are to help arrest the descent into chaos, which threatens to spread from the Western Mediterranean to the Black Sea."
The report is an exercise in fear-mongering. It's used to justify unjustifiable military spending.
Nonexistent threats are invented. Britain has NATO's second largest defense budget.
It's the EU's largest. Hawkish MPs want UK resources badly needed for other purposes spent preparing for war.
On Wednesday, Normandy Four countries France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine are meeting in Paris.
They're discussing Donbass conditions as this article is being written. In February, they agreed on Minsk ceasefire terms.
Kiev breached them straightaway - like Minsk I and other Russian-spearheaded efforts to end conflict.
Days earlier, Sergey Lavrov called on his French and German counterparts "to immediately take necessary joint steps…to prevent (further) deterioration of the situation."
Ceasefire is more myth than reality. Low-intensity fighting continues, heading for greater escalation.
Just Russia party first deputy chairman Mikhail Emelyanov wants Putin given authorization "to use armed force in Ukraine if the US decides to send sizable arms supplies to that country."
"We believe our parliament should not ignore" America supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons while claiming it seeks peace.
"We should not be shy about supporting the militia, including with weapons and (giving Putin) the right to send military units onto Ukrainian territory."
Moscow can't let Ukraine become an "international militant aimed at Russia," he stressed.
Washington isn't interested in deescalating conflict, he added.
"The US is trying to arm Ukraine at all costs, because it views Ukraine as a country that is tying Russian down, something that the US needs in order to prevent Russia from developing into a superpower."
Russia bashing remains intense. New York Times editors gave feature op-ed space to neocon Henry Jackson Society Russian Studies Center director Andrew Foxall.
He took full advantage repeating the same litany of Big Lies we've heard for months - including nonexistent Russsian "land grab(bing) (and) intimidati(ng) (its) neighbors."
Claiming throughout his tenure, "Mr. Putin has built a system in Russia in which opposition voices are silenced, individual rights are trampled on, freedom of expression is restricted, organized crime is rampant and property rights are arbitrarily enforced."
Truth is polar opposite. Foxall cited the junta controlled Kiev Post lying about "85 incidents of harassment and censorship against reporters in Crimea during March 2014 alone."
Anti-Russian propaganda is intense. Times editors publish some the worst.
They systematically bury hard truths. Neocons like Foxall get feature op-ed space to vilify Putin. He barely stopped short of urging war.
Things head recklessly in this direction. Lunatics in Washington may start WW III.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Indian Victory Bears Out the Need for the Manila Principles

eff.org - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 09:59

This week, on the edges of RightsCon Southeast Asia in Manila, Philippines, digital rights groups from around the world came together for two days of intensive work to finalize a new, ambitious standard to safeguard freedom of expression and innovation online. The approach the document takes to further these objectives is by focusing on the liability of Internet intermediaries—such as search engines, web hosts, social networks, domain hosts and ISPs—for online content of their users. Hence the document, officially launched today to applause from delegates of every continent, is named the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability.

The six simple principles that the document advances, in summary form, are:

  1. Intermediaries should be shielded by law from liability for third-party content
  2. Content must not be required to be restricted without an order by a judicial authority
  3. Requests for restrictions of content must be clear, be unambiguous, and follow due process
  4. Laws and content restriction orders and practices must comply with the tests of necessity and proportionality
  5. Laws and content restriction policies and practices must respect due process
  6. Transparency and accountability must be built in to laws and content restriction policies and practices

By chance, on the very same day that the Manila Principles were released, a far-reaching court decision [PDF] was handed down that shows exactly why principles such as these as important. The decision, of the Supreme Court of India, struck down the notorious Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which since 2009 had allowed both criminal charges against users and the removal of content by intermediaries based on vague allegations that the content was “grossly offensive or has menacing character”, or that false information was posted “for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will”. Not only is the potential overreach of this provision obvious on its face, but it was, in practice, misused to quell legitimate discussion online, as in the case that prompted the plaintiff in this case to take action; that of two young women, one of whom made an innocuous Facebook post mildly critical of a city shutdown, and the other who “Liked” it.

The court's judgment ruled that section 66A infringed the fundamental right of free speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Justice Nariman wrote:

Information that may be grossly offensive or which causes annoyance or inconvenience are undefined terms which take into the net a very large amount of protected and innocent speech. A person may discuss or even advocate by means of writing disseminated over the internet information that may be a view or point of view pertaining to governmental, literary, scientific or other matters which may be unpalatable to certain sections of society. … In point of fact, Section 66A is cast so widely that virtually any opinion on any subject would be covered by it, as any serious opinion dissenting with the mores of the day would be caught within its net. Such is the reach of the Section and if it is to withstand the test of constitutionality, the chilling effect on free speech would be total.

The relevance to the Manila Principles arises in that the intermediary liability provisions of Indian law were also under consideration in the case. Section 79 of the Act provided that an intermediary's immunity from liability could be suspended if it fails to take down content upon “receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate Government or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to commit [an] unlawful act”. The court ruled—channelling principle 2 of the Manila Principles—that section 79 did not make intermediaries liable for such illegal content unless they failed to comply with an order directing them to remove it, rather than merely a private party request. The court did not go further and limit this to a court order, or strike down rules that allow for court-ordered blocking, as we think it should have done, but nonetheless this case is a victory against government overreach that attempts to use intermediaries as a chokepoint to restrict constitutionally protected communication online.

This landmark Supreme Court of India decision vindicates the approach we took in the Manila Principles, holding that there are no circumstances in which private parties should be able to force content offline simply by sending a notice to an Internet intermediary; because this opens the floodgates for the infringement of users' freedom of expression and other human rights online, as well as inhibiting intermediaries from offering innovative services that build on user-generated content. We'll be writing more about the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability in future posts. Meanwhile, we encourage you to read the principles in full and to add your endorsement if you agree that intermediaries should not be made liable for their users' communications, in order to promote freedom of expression and online innovation.

Correction: an earlier version of this report misidentified the two young women as plaintiffs in the case. Details of the subject of their Facebook post and the effect of the order in relation to section 79 have also been clarified.

Related Issues: Free SpeechInternational
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White House Confirms: If Section 215 Expires, So Does Bulk Phone Records Collection

eff.org - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 08:52

There’s some good news coming from the White House today that deserves repeating. Reuters is reporting that Ned Price, a spokesman from the President’s National Security Council, has unequivocally stated:

If Section 215 sunsets, we will not continue the bulk telephony metadata program.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the authority that the NSA, with the FBI’s help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It expires on June 1.

Some journalists and privacy advocates have speculated that, even if Section 215 were to expire in the absence of other legislation, bulk collection could continue under Section 102(b) of Public Law 109-177, which some have said would allow investigations that began before the expiration of Section 215 to continue. In November, Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the provision could mean that:

as long as there was an older counterterrorism investigation still open, the court could keep issuing Section 215 orders to phone companies indefinitely for that investigation.

We agree with ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jafeer that “it would be ‘perverse’ to interpret the exception as permitting the government to ‘bootstrap itself into permanent Section 215 authority.’” But we do think that looking for loopholes in the language that governs surveillance makes perfect sense—after all, the government’s twisted interpretation of words related to surveillance is well-documented.

That’s why we’re pleased to see this announcement. If the importance of the June 1 expiration of Section 215 wasn’t already apparent, it’s clear now. With the clock ticking, Congress is running out of time to pass legislation that will reform bulk surveillance.

In fact, despite the Administration’s push for reform legislation, it looks increasingly likely that the next vote Congress will face on NSA spying is the June 1 sunset. That’s why contacting Congress about the vote is so important—lawmakers should understand that their vote is a statement about where they stand on the Constitution.

And, while the White House also claimed in its comments to Reuters that Section 215 is a “critical security tool,” the Administration’s own Presidential Review Group stated in a report [pdf]:

the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks[.]

Unless the Administration is playing the same kind of word games with “critical” and “essential” as it has with other words, it's pretty clear that if Section 215 isn’t even essential, it’s hardly critical. Other analyses of Section 215, both from the government and from outside researchers, have come to the same conclusion.

If you agree that it’s time to end mass surveillance, contact Congress and tell them what you expect to see: a no vote on reauthorization of Section 215 on June 1, along with some real comprehensive reform to NSA spying.

Related Issues: NSA SpyingRelated Cases: Smith v. ObamaFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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The C;inton Crime Family

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 03:25
The Clinton Crime Family
by Stephen Lendman
They're one of America's notable crime families - Bill as president, Hillary as first lady, senator, secretary of state and now presidential aspirant.
Bill's rap sheet includes:
  • eight years as Wall Street's man in Washington - facilitating casino capitalism more than ever before;

  • NAFTA and the World Trade Organization - anti-democratic job and environmental-destroying coup d'etas;

  • compromising vitally needed welfare aid;

  • marketplace medicine managed competition Hillarycare - Obamacare's precursor.

  • responsibility with Bush I for ethnic Rwandan massacres;

  • Iraq sanctions causing mass starvation, disease and 5,000 monthly Iraqi children deaths, according to former humanitarian relief coordinator Denis Halliday;

  • Balkan wars and raping Yugoslavia;

  • telecommunications deregulation facilitating unprecedented media consolidation;

  • repeal of Glass-Steagall; and 

  • the Commodity Futures Modernization Act ending regulatory oversight over derivatives and leveraging.

Hillary partnered in her husband's crimes. She shamelessly self-promoted throughout her Washington years and since leaving government.

She's unabashedly hawkish. Earlier articles called her a war goddess. In 1999, she urged Bill to bomb Belgrade.
"What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life," she blustered.
Straightaway post 9/11, she urged waging war on terror. She supported Bush and Obama's worst crimes.
She endorses nuclear weapons use. She calls them peacekeeping deterrents.
As a 2008 presidential aspirant, she told AIPAC convention participants America "stands with Israel now and forever."
"I have a bedrock commitment to Israel's security." She repeatedly lies claiming Iran and Hamas call for Israel's destruction.
She threatened tens of millions of Iranians. She said as president, she'd "totally obliterate them (if they) consider(ed) launching an attack on Israel…"
She wanted Gaddafi toppled. She urged genocidal war to eliminate him. She publicly gloated saying "(w)e came. We saw. He died."
She pushed for war on Syria to oust Assad. She represents the worst of America's dark side. 
She favors police state harshness, corporate empowerment and permanent was.
She deplores peace and stability. As president, she'll likely wage greater war on humanity than Obama.
She compares Russia to Nazi Germany. She lies claiming Putin's aims are revanchist. 
Earlier she said "his mission is to restore Russian greatness. When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia."
She called him "a KGB agent. By definition, he doesn't have a soul."
"By definition," she obsessively seeks unlimited wealth and power.
In 2001, she, husband Bill and Chelsea founded the Clinton Foundation - a profit-making enterprise masquerading as an NGO.
Promoting Big Lies about "improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, (and) creating economic opportunity and growth…"
Ludicrously claiming it "keeps score by the lives that are saved or improved."
It's an enterprise used to advance Hillary's ambitions. The Wall Street Journal discussed it.
On March 19, it headlined "Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends."
It "agreed not to seek donations from other governments, but (millions of dollars) kept flowing from individuals with connections to them."
A foundation disclosure explained. "Some donors have direct ties to foreign governments," said the Journal.
They include a Saudi royal family member and a corrupted Ukrainian oligarch/former Kiev parliamentarian.
"Others are individuals with close connections to foreign governments that stem from their business activities," said the Journal
Over a dozen foreign influence peddlers were large foundation donors - after Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009.
Records show they contributed up to $68 million. Some donors directly funded foundation projects valued at around $60 million.
When Clinton left State, foreign government money was accepted.
A large donation came "from a conglomerate run by a member of China's National People's Congress," said the Journal.
Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian fended off criticism saying:
"Like other global charities and nongovernmental organizations, the Clinton Foundation receives support from individuals all over the world because our programs are improving the lives of millions of people around the globe."
From 1999 - 2014, foreign donations by country and amount included:
Ukraine: $10 million
England: $8.4 million
Saudi Arabia: $7.3 million
Germany: $6.7 million
Ireland: $6.5 million
India: $5.0 million
Canada: $4.5 million
Argentina: $2.0 million
United Arab Emirates: $1.4 million
China: $1.3 million
Greece: $1.1 million
Nigeria: $1.0 million
Bosnia: $1.0 million
France: $0.8 million
Sri Lanka: $0.7 million
As a presidential aspirant, critics claim a potentially serious conflict of interest accepting millions of dollars from foreign governments she'd have direct dealings with if elected.
Federal law prohibits governments, corporations, individuals and groups from contributing to US political campaigns.
Funding Clinton's foundation buys influence.
Precise amounts contributed aren't known, said the Journal - because disclosure information excludes dates and reports dollar amounts in ranges.
"The Journal tracked donations through foundation disclosures, watchdog reports and other media accounts," it said.
From 2009 - 2013, Kiev-based Viktor Pinchuk Foundation contributed at least $8.6 million.
His wife is former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma's daughter. He began contributing to Clinton "charities" in 2006.
In 2008, he committed $29 million to the Clinton Global Initiative over a five-year period.
Funds were "to modernize Ukraine" - to train future Ukrainian leaders. To influence US policy. To promote coup d’etat change. Several Pinchuk alumni are Nazi parliamentarians. 
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal made generous contributions. His chief of staff didn't respond to Journal emails seeking information.
The Journal discussed other prominent donors - including anti-Chavez Venezuelan Venevision media mogul Gustavo Cisneros. Inquiries for more information on his donations went unanswered.
Millions donated to foundations, organizations or other initiatives run by political opportunists automatically raise red flags.
Bill and Hillary Clinton capitalized hugely on their time in office. They're both independently wealthy. 
They're paid huge sums for public appearances, addresses, book deals and other opportunities afforded political celebrities.
Who said crime doesn't pay?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Fasist US Lawmakers Delare War on Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/03/2015 - 01:38
Fascist US House Members Declare War on Russia
by Stephen Lendman
Madness defines US policy. Lunatics infesting Washington want war on Russia.
Things head incrementally closer to the unthinkable. US-installed Ukrainian Nazis are used as a dagger aimed at Russia's heartland.
House members want them more heavily armed than already. They want them used as proxies serving US interests.
They want Donbass democracy crushed. They want fascist governance controlling Ukraine nationwide.
They want direct confrontation with Russia. They want US global dominance achieved any way possible.
They want nuclear war against America's main military rival. They're crazy enough to think it's winnable. 
Then eliminate China as America's main economic challenger - and all other independent states.
Mindless US voters send these type lunatics to Washington. They serve powerful monied interests, harming their own.
The pattern repeats one electoral cycle after another. Replacing bums with new ones assures same old ugly business as usual.
Last December, Congress passed and Obama signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.
It officially authorizes what's been supplied since conflict erupted last April - heavy weapons and other military aid.
"(I)ncluding anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, crew weapons and ammunition, counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries, fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment."
What's known may be the tip of the iceberg. Weapons supplied are for offense, not defense. 
Claims otherwise are Big Lies - based on fabricated allegations of nonexistent Russian aggression.
The whole world knows Russia didn't invade Ukraine. It doesn't covet its territory or anyone else's.
It wants peace, not war. It's gone all-out to achieve it since US-instigated conflict erupted last year - more than any other country.
Instead of high praise for its vital efforts, it's relentlessly bashed - falsely accused of waging war on Ukraine. 
Victimized by vicious US-led Western propaganda. Daily anti-Russian hate-mongering persists.
On March 23, fascist House members overwhelmingly passed nonbinding HR 162 (348 to 48) - without debate or committee consideration.
They want Ukraine Nazis given more heavily destructive weapons than already supplied.
They want them used against Donbass civilians. They want them targeting Russia.
Not a single profile in courage challenged this outrageous resolution. Not a word said about its Big Lies, stating:
"Resolved, that the House of Representatives strongly urges the President to fully and immediately exercise the authorities provided by Congress to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapon systems to enhance the ability of the people of Ukraine to defend their sovereign territory from unprovoked and continuing aggression of the Russian Federation."
"Whereas the Russian Federation under President Vladimir Putin has engaged in relentless political, economic, and military aggression to subvert the independence and violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
"Whereas Russian aggression against Ukraine is but the most visible and recent manifestation of a revisionist Kremlin strategy to redraw international borders and impose its will on its neighbors, including NATO allies."
"Whereas this Russian aggression includes the establishment and control of violent separatist proxies in other areas of Ukraine, including arming them with lethal weapons and other materiel including tanks, artillery, and rockets that have enabled separatist militias to launch and sustain an insurrection that has resulted in over 6,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, and more than a million displaced persons."
"Whereas the United States and its allies need a long-term strategy to expose and challenge Vladimir Putin’s corruption and repression at home and his aggression abroad."
It bears repeating. The whole world knows Russia didn't invade Ukraine. 
No Russian aggression exists - not now, earlier or planned.
US and Ukraine's only enemies are ones it invents. Donbass residents reject fascism. 
They want democratic rights everyone deserves. They deserve universal support.

They're enduring Europe's greatest humanitarian disaster since WW II. 
Given Obama's rage for war and unchallenged dominance, things are likely to get much worse ahead.
News from the Front
Colonel Cassad's site reported a train carrying 40 tanks "passed through Kharkov towards Izyum."
They'll likely be positioned for resumed Kiev-initiated heavy fighting.
It continues low-intensity daily. It's just a matter of time before US-ordered full-scale aggression resumes. If Russia is targeted this time, all bets are off.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Reeleting Israel's Great Con Man

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 24/03/2015 - 22:24
Reelecting Israel's Greatest Con Man
by Stephen Lendman
Weeks before Obama took office in January 2009, James Petras called him "the greatest con man in recent history."
He compared him to Melville's Confidence Man, saying:
"He catches your eye while he picks your pocket."
Hindsight is the best foresight. Who would have imagined Obama becoming more warrior-like than any of his predecessors.
It's hard imagining even corrupted Nobel Committee members awarding him their 2009 Peace Prize.
From day one in office to now, he's waged multiple direct and proxy wars.
He's responsible for unconscionable human suffering on his watch.
He has lots more death and destruction in mind. So does his Israeli junior partner in high crimes.
He and Netanyahu threaten world peace. They're insane enough to wage nuclear war.
Their madness may kill us all. For sure, Netanyahu is outrageously extremist, dangerous, and committed to driving Palestinians off all land he covets - even if it takes mass murder to do it. 
He's Israel's greatest ever con man. He exceeds Sharonian evil.
Read his policies off the stump, not his flip-flop lips on it.
His fear-mongering campaign railed against Arabs. His racist comments were way over-the-top.
"The right-wing government is in danger," he said. "Arab voters are going en masse to the polls."
"Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses."
He pledged no Palestinian state if reelected. Earlier he called peace process talks a waste of time. 
He scared Israelis to death to win votes. He proved he's a con man serial liar.
Now he claims he didn't mean what he said. He was misunderstood.
He supports Palestinian statehood post-election, he blustered - on his hardline terms meaning self-determination in name only.
He apologized for racist electioneering comments - no matter three terms as prime minister enforcing apartheid worse than South Africa's.
His words ring hollow saying:
"I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens." 
He lied claiming he "had no intention to hurt anyone and (he's) sorry if (he) did."
"My actions as prime minister, including the tremendous investment in minority sectors, prove the opposite." 
"I think, too, that we must never let anyone outside the state of Israel interfere with our democratic process."
"I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender." 
"I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens."
Fact: Netanyahu hates Arabs. He always did. He always will.
Fact: He wants them eliminated from Israel altogether - at least from all land he covets.
Fact: He meant every racist comment he made - campaigning and earlier.
Fact: He deliberately meant to offend.
Fact: For sure he's not sorry for doing it.
Fact: Throughout three terms as prime minister and other government positions, he's waged war on Palestinians.
Fact: He treats them ruthlessly. He has no intention of changing his ways. He'll likely be more hardline than ever in term four.
Fact: Calling Israel "democratic" is one of his many Big Lies. 
It's a racist police state - affording Palestinians no rights whatever. 
Calling Israeli Arab citizens fifth column threats. Treating all Arabs like subhumans.
Fact: Netanyahu serves wealthy, powerful, privileged Jews alone.
Fact: He represents government of, by and for Jewish monied interests only.
Fact: Arabs and ordinary Israeli Jews don't matter.
Joint (Arab) List MKs rejected his comments outright.
A party statement said:
"The Joint Arab List discarded the apology and said it will continue to campaign on behalf of the Arab community."
"The racism of Netanyahu and his government will not end with the inciting statement that he distrusted during the elections.”
“Racist legislation and exclusionary, discriminatory policies are Netanyahu’s working plan also for the coming Knesset, so we can only reject his apology and continue our struggle for equality for the Arab population." 
"Likewise the Joint (List) called on Netanyahu to return the mandate that he received on the basis of incitement and intimidation."
 Ultranationalist/defrocked/reinstated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ludicrously accused Joint List members of racism.
Saying "(t)here is a deep issue here, when there is no one to condemn the statement by the head of one of the Arab parties' communications bureaus, who said the Islamic State was heir of the Zionist movement."
"There were also some hair-raising utterances by MK Hanin Zoabi, who defined Hamas as a liberation movement."
Hamas was created as a liberation movement. It's always been one. 
It's no terrorist organization. Israel originally supported it as a counterforce to Yasser Arafat.
Zionist state terror way exceeds IS extremism. Israel's nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals may kill us all.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe was relieved by Netanyahu defeating so-called liberal Zionism - a whopper of an oxymoron.
Herzog/Livni winning "would have allowed the charade of the 'peace process' and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues," he said.
Netanyahu's in your face style leaves no doubt where he stands.
His hardline racism assures no positive change for Palestinians.
Pappe called "(t)he conclusion for the international community…clear."
"(D)ecolonization of the settler state" is essential. It can change things.
The only effective way is through the same tactics used against South Africa.
BDS "never looked more valid that it does today," Pappe stresses. Together with popular resistance, it's vitally needed.
Committed outside and internal pressure is "the only way to force Israelis to reframe their relationship with all the Palestinians, including the refugees, on the basis of democratic and egalitarian values," Pappe explains.
"Otherwise, we can expect Likud to win forty seats in the next elections, perhaps on the back of the next outraged Palestinian uprising."
Arab MKs have no say whatever on policy. Corrupted Palestinian Authority officials serve Israeli interests for their own benefit - at the expense of people they're sworn to serve.
Zionist governance under Netanyahu or anyone else assures denying Palestinians what they rightfully deserve.
Pappe believes a "window of opportunity for saving innocent lives in historic Palestine is rapidly closing."
If Israel's power isn't checked once and for all, repeat massacres are certain - maybe much greater than last summer.
"(O)ld formulas for 'peace' " and long denied justice haven't worked, he stressed.
It's vital to "start looking for just and viable alternatives." Otherwise slow-motion genocide may hit overdrive.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

International Coalition Launches 'Manila Principles' to Protect Freedom of Expression Worldwide

eff.org - Tue, 24/03/2015 - 08:38
New 'Best Practice' Roadmap to Protect Rights and Promote Innovation

Manila - An international coalition launched the “Manila Principles for Intermediary Liability” today—a roadmap for the global community to protect online freedom of expression and innovation around the world.

“All communication across the Internet is facilitated by intermediaries: service providers, social networks, search engines, and more.  These services are all routinely asked to take down content, and their policies for responding are often muddled, heavy-handed, or inconsistent.  That results in censorship and the limiting of people’s rights,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Global Policy Analyst Jeremy Malcolm, who helped spearhead the principles.  “Our goal is to protect everyone’s freedom of expression with a framework of safeguards and best practices for responding to requests for content removal.”

EFF, Centre for Internet Society India, Article 19, and other global partners unveiled the principles today at RightsCon, a major international conference on the Internet and human rights held this week in Manila.  The framework outlines clear, fair requirements for content removal requests and details how to minimize the damage a takedown can do.  For example, if content is restricted because it’s unlawful in one country or region, then the scope of the restriction should be geographically limited as well.  The principles also urge adoption of laws shielding intermediaries from liability for third-party content, which encourages the creation of platforms that allow for online discussion and debate about controversial issues.

“People ask for expression to be removed from the Internet for various reasons, good and bad, claiming the authority of myriad local and national laws.  It’s easy for important, lawful content to get caught in the crossfire,” said Jyoti Panday from the Centre for Internet and Society India.  “We hope these principles empower everyone—from governments, to intermediaries, to the public—to fight back when online expression is censored.”

The principles and supporting documents can be found online at https://www.manilaprinciples.org, where other organizations and members of the public can also express their own endorsement of the principles.

Contact:  Jeremy MalcolmSenior Global Policy Analystjmalcolm@eff.org Rebecca JeschkeMedia Relations Director and Digital Rights Analystrebecca@eff.org
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Categories: Aggregated News

Facebook Has Clarified its Policies. How About Fixing Them?

eff.org - Tue, 24/03/2015 - 08:35

Facebook recently updated its community standards. As the company noted in the announcement accompanying the change, their “policies and standards themselves are not changing,” but that they wanted to provide more clarity to a set of existing rules that have often been misunderstood by users.

While some of the changes provide significantly more detail as to the reasoning behind certain content restrictions, others fall short. And unfortunately, the updated standards do very little to solve the continuing problem of account suspensions for “real names” violations. 

“Real Names”

Even in the last week and a half Facebook has continued to suspend users for violations of its “real names” policy, a policy which we’ve argued causes real world harm. In the latest story to get publicity, a teen with the legal name Isis King had her account suspended by Facebook for a names policy violation—until a media inquiry. The latest update to the community standards won’t change the experience of users like Isis King, but it does clarify where Facebook stands.

Prior to the change, the standards read: “On Facebook people connect using their real names and identities.” Because Facebook asks for ID when handling appeals and blocks certain words from being entered in the “name” fields at account creation, most users have assumed that when Facebook says “real name,” the company really means “legal name.”

Following a spate of account takedowns last fall, however, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, posted a statement in which he said: “our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name.” Shortly thereafter, we noted a shift in the company’s language in notifications to users. A section on account security in the Community Standards now reads, in part:

Using Your Authentic Identity: How Facebook's real name requirement creates a safer environment.

People connect on Facebook using their authentic identities. When people stand behind their opinions and actions with their authentic name and reputation, our community is more accountable...

Nevertheless, the company’s Statement of Responsibilities—the legal text underpinning the Community Standards—still contains language referring to real names:

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way.

While we’re glad to see that Facebook is changing how it communicates this guideline to users, it’s a very small change in the face of the continuing reports that Facebook is suspending users’ accounts for name policy violations.

Content policy

Facebook’s content policies—and how they are implemented—have often left users confused. For example, the company told us that images of mothers breastfeeding were never meant to be restricted, yet numerous instances of such photos being removed have led to a persistent belief that the company bans such images.

The latest iteration of the community standards is intended to provide additional clarity to users. As the New York Times’ Vindu Goel put it, “[Despite] its published guidelines, the reasoning behind Facebook’s decisions to block or allow content are often opaque and inconsistent.”

In respect to some topics, Facebook has certainly met their goal. The section on sexual violence and exploitation, for example, lays out numerous examples of what the company deems unacceptable. A section on “attacks on public figures” clarifies that Facebook does not remove criticism of public figures...unless it constitutes hate speech, in which they treat the content as they would if the target were not famous.

Other sections leave more to be desired. While Facebook’s rules about “dangerous organizations” make clear that groups engaged in “terrorist” or “organized criminal” activity have no place on the platform, there is no additional clarity on how terrorist groups are defined, despite some evidence that the definitions are underpinned by US law.

Appeals

Content-hosting intermediaries like Facebook should provide robust appeals processes for users. Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, recently told the New York Times:

If a person’s account is suspended, those appeals are read by real people who can look into the specifics.

Although Facebook instituted an appeals process in 2011, the process is only available for users whose Page or Profile has been removed; that is, there is no process for appealing when other content—such as photos, posts, or videos—are removed. Furthermore, the process is ambiguous and doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to users, many of whom have contacted us following account suspensions.

The appeals form itself is hard to find. It's accessible through the help center. But Facebook doesn’t seem to actually highlight it as an option in the endless screens users find themselves in when trying to verify their “authenticity.” Once users find themselves in that process, they are directed to update their name, instead of being sent to the appeal. When they click on the link Facebook provides to its help center during the name verification process, that link goes to lists of ID, not to the appeal.

In fact, the appeal isn’t available unless an account has been entirely disabled. Some users have had the experience of providing ID to Facebook with a legal name that didn’t match their real name, only to have Facebook put that legal name on the account. We’ve been contacted by users with abusive stalkers, users who have public-facing jobs that use their drag name, and others who’ve had this experience. Those users can’t access the appeals form once their account is erroneously restored.

Finally, in an impressive display of irony, the appeals form requires users to upload an ID. In other words, it requires users who are having issues with Facebook’s process of verifying identity (using an ID) to restore accounts to do exactly that— upload an ID, before even getting the chance to talk to someone. Considering that accounts have been restored with incorrect names in dangerous situations, users’ hesitancy to upload an ID just to file an appeal is understandable.

If Facebook cares about its users, it should make its appeals process easier to access and easier to use. It should allow appeals for all types of removed content, not just Profiles and Pages. And it certainly shouldn’t require ID as the first step.

While we think it’s good that Facebook decided to provide more clarity about its policies, it might be better served by improving those policies and ensuring that Facebook is an accessible, open platform for its millions of users worldwide.

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymityInternational
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Categories: Aggregated News

Fight Back! News Activism

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 24/03/2015 - 05:30
Fight Back! News Activism
by Stephen Lendman
Humanity faces a struggle for survival today like never before. Lunatics in Washington risk mass annihilation in their quest for world dominance. 
Minneapolis-based Fight Back! is on the front lines for progressive change. It publishes online and in print. 
It features "news and views from the people's struggle" for equity and justice.
Community organizers and other activists are involved. "We are not 'neutral' or 'even-handed' in our coverage," it says. 
"We are opposed to exploitation, discrimination, and oppression." 
"We hold that the rich class of people who run the economy and government of this country are unfit to rule." 
"We support all movements that challenge their power and privilege."
Ukraine, Palestine and Venezuela are three featured issues among many others.
On February 21, Fight Back! covered 100,000 Russians rallying in Moscow against Ukrainian fascist junta rule on the first anniversary of Washington's coup.
It's the largest mass protest so far against fascism's reemergence in Europe's heartland. It marked resistance to US imperial lawlessness.
Washington's installed puppet regime continues waging war on its own people. Donbass residents reject fascist rule.
Ongoing low-intensity conflict continues close to Russia's border. Donbass crisis conditions are Europe's gravest since WW II.
US anti-war activists "came to Moscow to oppose the US/NATO inspired war, to express support for the great, anti-fascist struggle in Donbass, and in opposition to the efforts by the West to threaten Russia," said Fight Back!
On March 18, tens of thousands in Moscow's Red Square celebrated the first anniversary of Crimea rejoining Russia.
Vladimir Putin joined them. The commemorative event was called "We all together." It featured a rally and concert.
Putin addressed the crowd, saying:
"A year ago, the Russian people demonstrated amazing equanimity and patriotism in supporting the people of Crimea and Sevastopol in returning to their native land." 
"We, all together, then realized and felt with our hearts and minds how important the link of history and generations is."
Crimeans voted near unanimously by internationally monitored referendum to rejoin Russia. They exercised their UN Charter recognized self-determination right.
Fight Back! published a statement from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) following Israel's March 17 elections.
It said "the results…reflect the nature and structure of the racist, fascist Zionist society…"
Israel "engage(s) in the most open and extreme anti-Palestinian attacks on our people and their rights…"
US-led "imperialist powers…provide cover for its crimes and rampant violations of international law…" 
"Confronting Zionist extremism and responding to these elections requires a clear and decisive Palestinian policy that casts aside the illusions of reliance on futile negotiations, and instead builds a unified national strategy to confront the enemy and struggle for the full rights of our people, based on our strategic path of resistance to build on all achievements."
PFLP urges unified Palestinian resistance against ruthless Israeli repression no matter what ruling coalition governs.
Venezuela is another key freedom and justice battleground. On March 16, Chicago anti-war activists rallied against Obama's ongoing political and economic war.
Longtime local social justice/anti-war activist Joe Losbaker commented, saying:
"Venezuela has never threatened the US people. But the Bolivarian revolution is a threat to US imperialist interests, in Venezuela and in Latin America as a whole." 
"That’s because imperialism sucks the wealth out of other countries." 
"The national democratic revolution, which continues under the leadership of President Maduro, intends to use Venezuela's resources to benefit the workers and farmers of their country." 
"The US government only wants to see profits going to US banks and corporations. The US should keep its hands off Venezuela."
Fight Back! reported on Chicago activists pledging solidarity at Venezuela's Chicago consulate.
Consul General Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza addressed possible US military intervention against his government.
He noted Latin American unity against Obama's actions. Local anti-war activist Kait McIntyre said:
"The US has no right to accuse Venezuela of violating human rights." 
Washington "arm(s) Israel…" It supported its "massacre of 2500 people this summer in Gaza." 
"If President Obama cared about human rights, he would have imposed a weapons embargo on Israel, instead of sanctions against Venezuela."
Community organizer Frank Chapman commented, saying:
"What is Barack Obama going to do about the criminalization of dissent in Ferguson and the criminalization of Black people and other oppressed people of color in our country?" 
"Why isn’t he imposing sanctions against the DOJ declared lawless regime in Ferguson? Enough already with this hypocrisy!"
Losbaker pledged support for Bolivarianism, Venezuelan workers, farmers and patriots.
"Those who collaborate with the US in coup attempts against the government in Caracas are sellouts," he said. 
"They’re from the wealthy class that wants to keep things they way they were before the revolution, when half of the people lived below the poverty line."
Obama continues waging war on Venezuela George Bush began. He imposed two rounds of lawless sanctions.
He outrageously declared Venezuela a threat to US national security. It's a powerful threat of a good example against US imperial lawlessness.
Last December, Congress passed S. 2142: Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 unanimously by voice vote.
Not a single profile in courage opposed what demanded denunciation. On December 18, Obama signed the legislation into law.
The world's leading human rights abuser targeted one of its staunchest defenders - constitutionally guaranteeing fundamental rights for all its citizens.
All Venezuelans are considered "equal before the law." Polar opposite how America is governed - of, by and for its privileged elites alone.
Democracy exists in name only. Venezuelans get the real thing. On March 20, TeleSUR reported thousands protesting Obama's sanctions through social media.
A global petition against his lawless actions is circulating in Spanish and English. Global justice supporters are urged to sign it.
Thousands already sent a message denouncing Washington's lawless interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs.
Its model democracy represents hope. It's polar opposite America's rage for conquest and dominance.
Activists of the world unite against Washington's menace threatening everyone. Stand in solidarity for peace, equity and justice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Defrocked General Blames Iran for US Crimes in Iraq

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 24/03/2015 - 02:05
Defrocked US General Blames Iran for US Crimes in Iraq
by Stephen Lendman
Blaming others for its own crimes is longstanding US policy. Lunatic active duty, retired and defrocked Pentagon generals lie like their government counterparts.
David Petraeus is one of the worst. On March 20, the neocon Washington Post headlined "Petraeus: The Islamic State isn't our biggest problem in Iraq."
He attended an annual University of Iraq Sulaimani Forum gathering of "Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics…"
He commented on Obama's Iraq War III. He answered WaPo correspondent Liz Sly's questions on its prospects. More on this below.
He commanded US forces in Iraq during George Bush's so-called 2007-08 surge. 
He was CENTCOM commander and head of US forces in Afghanistan. He served as CIA director.
He fell from grace for incompetence. He failed in Iraq, Afghanistan and as CIA head.
Competence didn't earn him four stars. Former peers accused him of brown-nosing his way to the top. 
It made him a brand as much as general. Talk about him being presidential material surfaced.
His former commander, Admiral William Fallon, once called him "a piece of brown-nosing chicken shit."
He was more paper hero than real one. The man behind the image was fake - sacked in November 2012 for incompetence, not his well-publicized extramarital affair.
Even though in January 2015, reports indicated Justice Department officials suggested charging him with revealing classified information to his mistress while serving as CIA director.
He pled guilty to a minor misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information. He walked away unscathed.
Sly asked him how he felt being back in Iraq. He called his service murdering Iraqis "some of (his) most consequential years…"
He admitted "opportunities lost" and "mistakes" made without explaining how America ruthlessly destroyed the cradle of civilization - turned it into a multi-decade raging cauldron of violence, instability and immiseration.
"(A) reasonable outcome is still achievable," he said. Meaning unchallenged US control, free plunder of Iraq's resources and subjugation of its people.
Asked about ISIS in Iraq, he lied calling what's happening "a tragedy…because it didn't have to turn out this way."
He called his failed surge "hard-earned progress." He said "there is plenty of blame to go around for" what's happening.
He claimed "Iraq and 'coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State."
He nonsensically said "the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by - and some guided by - Iran."
"Iranian-backed Shia militias could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran."
Fact: From Washington's involvement in the 1980s Iran/Iraq war to Obama's Iraq War III, America bears full responsibility for decades of mass slaughter, destruction and instability.
Fact: ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State (IS) is a US creation - a proxy force serving US regional interests.
Fact: Blaming Iran for US high crimes wore thin long ago.
Fact: Petraeus' tenure in Afghanistan helped create a new generation of warlords.
Fact: Critics called his Middle East/Central Asian service a slow-motion train wreck.
Fact: His greatest accomplishment was creating worse conditions than what he inherited on arrival.
He expressed concern about what he called "meltdown" in Syria. It spews "instability and extremist ideology over the entire region," he said.
Fact: Syria is Obama's war.
Fact: There's nothing civil about it.
Fact: Washington recruits, funds, arms, trains and directs IS and other extremist fighters as anti-Assad death squads.
Asked what went wrong in Iraq, Petraeus pointed fingers the wrong way. 
He claimed things went sour after US forces left in 2011. He ludicrously said his surge "accomplishment(s) were undone.
He blamed US-installed stooge governance for its longstanding high crimes against peace.
He suggested permanent US occupation could change things.
He perpetuated the myth about America's involvement to protect its national security.
He sees Afghanistan and Syria the same way - ludicrously suggesting occupying other countries keeps America safe.
At the same time, calling Iran a threat to US regional interests.
He calls war the way for peace. He's like other US hawks.
Permanent wars serve their interests. Peace and stability defeat them.
They won't be satisfied until they set planet earth ablaze. Mass extermination suits them fine - maybe in global mushroom-shaped clouds.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Lurching Toward Armageddon

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 23/03/2015 - 20:40
Lurching Toward Armageddon
by Stephen Lendman
Neocon lunatic fringe elements infest Washington. They control US policy - notably on issues of war and peace. 
They're using NATO and US installed Ukrainian Nazis to stoke direct confrontation with Russia. 
Daily geopolitical events should scare everyone. Gunslinger NATO commander General Philip Breedlove rails about nonexistent "Russian aggression."
He wants Minsk sabotaged. He wants war, not peace. He wants full US-led Western support given Ukraine to wage it.
On Sunday, he addressed a German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum. 
He said "the West should consider all our tools...Could it be destabilizing? The answer is yes." 
"Also inaction could be destabilizing. So I think that’s the other question that our nation should look at. Is inaction an appropriate action?"
Breedlove and likeminded lunatics controlling US policy may launch WW III.
He lied about what he called "disturbing evidence of air defense, command and control, resupply equipments coming across a completely porous (Russian/Ukrainian) border."
He ludicrously called Russia a threat to Denmark if it joins NATO's so-called missile defense system for offense.
"This is just the next step," he said. He claimed previous "great (Moscow) pressure"on Romania and Poland. 
"Anyone else who wants to join into this defensive capability will come under this diplomatic and political pressure," he blustered.
The 1997 Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation called for "a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, whole and free, to the benefit of all its people."
It prohibits foreign combat troop deployments in Eastern European countries. Doing so lurches dangerously toward military confrontation.
Breedlove urged stepped up information war on Russia.
"We need as a western group of nations or as an alliance to engage in this informational warfare," he said. 
"The way to attack the false narrative is to drag (it) into the light and expose it," he blustered.
Washington wages daily propaganda war on Russia. So do go-along media scoundrels.
Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Deception, popular fiction and Big Lies launch them. 
Intense Russia bashing risks international peace, stability and security.
Washington's imperial war machine is humanity's greatest threat. 
Permanent war is official US policy. Gunsliger lunatics like Breedlove risk ending life on earth.
So do Kiev Nazis. Its rubber-stamp parliament passed provocative legislation. 
Bill No. 2383 lets Ukraine's intelligence service operate in Donbass - allegedly to infiltrate so-called "terrorist organizations."
Bill sponsor MP Serhiy Pashynsky said the measure lets Kiev intelligence agents conduct special operations in "occupied territories."
They're intended to let Ukrainian military forces "combat terrorism."
The measure normalizes Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service anti-Donbass mobilization.
It heads things closer to resumed full-scale war. Expect it any time at Obama's discretion.
The reliable Colonel Cassad web site discussed what it calls an approaching "big storm."
He noted "preparatory (Russian) work in border areas to repel any potential threats.
On Monday, the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Defense Ministry issued a disturbing report as follows:
"At this moment (as of 11:10am), there is a firefight in the area of the settlement of Spartak and Peski." 
"Sounds of explosions and shots can be heard in the western part of Donetsk." 
"Ukraine continues to increase the group of its forces along the demarcation line despite the Minsk agreements." 
"This includes both the regular army service-members and also the national guard militants." 
"Over the last day, they opened fire against the DPR positions 41 times, due to which four militia fighters were wounded." 
"The AFU violated the cease-fire regime 41 times during the day and the night. During the night they violated it 9 times." 
"Four militia fighters were wounded due to the shelling in the area of Peski." 
"Such a high number of victims during a truce is not a regular occasion."
"The Ukrainian service members, targeting the militia positions, attacked settlements." 
"The village of Shirokino, Kalinovka, and Zhabynky inside Donetsk, mine no. 6 and 7 in Gorlovka, and also the village Signalnaya fell under fire." 
"They used 82 mm, 120 mm mortars, machine-guns, RPG, AGL, small arms." 
"The Ukrainian security forces engaged artillery in the village Signalnaya from the side of Slavnoye yesterday at 7:15pm, but the specific artillery system couldn't be determined." 
"As a result, damage was recorded in private housing areas. There is no information about wounded and killed civilians."
"A direct hit by the artillery shell into the administrative building of the Donetsk train station was recorded." 
"We recorded a direct hit by the artillery shell into the administrative building of the railroad station." 
"The EMERCOM units were deployed to the event location. The type of the weapon used to perform a strike is being determined."
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Obama wants war, not peace.
He's gone all-out to sabotage Minsk. It's dead. 
It's just a matter of time before full-scale conflict resumes - maybe heading toward Washington confronting Moscow directly.
War is ugly business. Lunatics in Washington may incinerate us all!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Police State Israel on Steroids Under Netanyahu

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 23/03/2015 - 05:27
Police State Israel on Steroids Under Netanyahu
by Stephen Lendman
Expect ruthless Palestinian persecution to be worse than ever during Netanyahu's fourth term.
Institutionalized viciousness best describes it. Daily Israeli crimes against humanity persist - grave enough to shock anyone supporting right over wrong.
State terror haunts Palestinians - defenseless against Israeli ruthlessness. The price of praying to the wrong God is brutalizing treatment.
A fall 2014 Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) report titled "One Rule, Two Legal Systems" explains polar opposite governance for Arabs and Jews.
Institutionalized discrimination describes it. An example the report cites is as follows:
"Two residents of the Hebron area have an altercation within the territory of the West Bank and both are arrested." 
"One of them, a Jewish resident of Kiryat Arba, is taken to a nearby police station, is immediately interrogated by a police officer and is brought within 24 hours to a hearing before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court." 
"In this hearing, the judge decides to order his release on condition of bail; this is not a very severe case, and the defendant pleads self- defense."
"The second person, a Palestinian resident of Hebron, is arrested for 96 hours before being brought before a military judge." 
"He is de facto interrogated only once during this period of time, under suspicion of committing an assault based on nationalistic motivations, which is deemed as a security offense, and he is tried before a military court, where he faces a penalty of extended incarceration."
Two similar incidents. Entirely different results. Civil justice for Jews, militarized guilt by accusation for Palestinians.
Two populations live side-by-side. Separate and unequal reflects official Israeli policy - much worse than South Africa's apartheid.
Legal discrimination goes well beyond security and criminal issues. It affects all aspects of Palestinian lives - including naked aggression at Israel's discretion committing mass slaughter and destruction.
Military orders, judicial rulings and police state laws created a viciously discriminatory system.
Instead of easing conditions over time, they get worse. Israel considers Palestinians fair game to brutalize unaccountably.
Being Arab on land it covets means enduring daily state terror - including phony charges of plotting to carry out attacks on Jews.
On Sunday, Shin Bet was at it again - announcing arrests of West Bank Hamas supporters.
Claiming "suspects" planned attacks with explosive devices - despite no credible evidence proving it. 
Victims were tortured to confess to what they had no intention of doing. People in enough pain will say anything to get it to stop.
Shin Bet torture is notorious - severe enough at times to kill. 
Ahmed Abullah Zeitouni was wrongfully accused of recruiting five other Palestinians for attacks on Jews with explosive devices.
Two suspects are Al Najah University students. Shin Bet invented a plot involving an apartment-based "explosives laboratory."
It claimed Gaza-based "Hamas militants" ran it remotely - passing on orders to its West Bank operatives.
At strategically timed moments, these type accusations surface. They reflect longstanding Israeli fear-mongering - often demonizing Hamas supporters as "terrorists."
The scheme repeats with disturbing regularity. Invent a phony terror plot. Blame Hamas. 
Name suspects. Get torture-extracted confessions. Claim another victory against Islamic terrorism. 
Say Israeli security forces will stay vigilant. They'll foil other terror plots - even if they have to invent them.
False accusations persist against Palestinians. Their crime - not being Jewish. 
Their punishment - continued brutalizing persecution without mercy, including wrongful imprisonments.
On Sunday, Israeli forces began unannounced military exercises along Gaza's border. They include air and ground forces.
Overnight bombardment continued for hours - on the phony pretext of testing readiness in case of emergency.
Previous exercises bordering Palestinian areas targeted civilians, including children.
In August, Israel evicted 1,300 South Hebron Palestinians from privately owned homes and land after declaring the area a closed military zone.
In October, Israeli goon squads stormed Aida refugee camp. Without warning or provocation, they attacked defenseless men, women and children with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Eyewitnesses said they terrorized residents. They used them for target practice.
On Sunday, extremist settlers attacked a six-year-old Palestinian child. She required hospitalization for head and leg injuries.
These type incidents happen regularly - many with nearby Israeli security forces doing nothing to stop them.
In 2014, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported at least 329 settler violence incidents - with almost no accountability for offenses committed.
From Friday to Sunday, Israeli goon squads committed multiple state terror attacks. 
They targeted peaceful Bil'in village protesters. They brutalized other West Bank residents demonstrating for rights they're denied.
They shot two young Nablus area Palestinian children, They attacked a Bethlehem child.
They injured three Kufur Qaddoum village residents. They demolished Negev Bedouin homes. 
They want their land for exclusive Jewish development. They want thousands in dozens of so-called unrecognized villages forcibly displaced.
Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar said Gazan-type resistance will "reach the West Bank in spite of Israel and its allies."
Palestine's liberating struggle continues, he stressed. It faces formidable opposition in Netanyahu.
Arab MK's want Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein prosecuting him for racism.
Israel's entire political establishment is guilty. It's society isn't much better given its electoral choice.
Israel is a fascist police state headed toward renouncing rule of law principles altogether.
Likud MK Yariv Levin is way over-the-top. He and likeminded MKs call Palestinians Israeli enemies. 
They want tougher racist laws than already enacted. Levin said new coalition governance will dramatically change Israel's legal system.
He and other extremist Likudniks want High Court independence comprised, decisions it renders contrary to their views ignored, and ministers prevented from issuing legally binding opinions.
Maybe criminalizing Islam is next. Palestinians are already treated the way Hitler abused Jews short of mass extermination. Maybe speeding up slow-motion genocide is planned.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Jerusalem on the Boil

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 23/03/2015 - 02:03
Jerusalem on the Boil
by Stephen Lendman
London's Guardian published what US major media won't touch - a leaked EU report discussing a "vicious cycle of violence…increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution."
It blames collapsed peace talks, settlement construction in "sensitive" Jerusalem areas, Al-Aqsa Mosque provocations, home demolitions and dispossessing Palestinians from their land.
The report is prepared annually by EU nations' Jerusalem-based heads of mission. It suggests policy measures in light of Israeli actions.
Netanyahu pledged continued settlement construction and no Palestinian state on his watch if reelected.
His post-election statehood flip-flop rings as hollow as all other promises he makes. He's a serial liar. Nothing he says has credibility.
In defiance of international law, he calls Jerusalem Israel's exclusive "undivided capital."
He wants Palestinians entirely excluded - forcefully removed if necessary. 
Past EU reports critical of Israel accomplished nothing in the way of policy changes. Don't bet on anything substantive this time.
The Guardian cited "well-informed European sources" favoring policy changes against Israel in the wake of a potentially more extremist government post-election than before.
They include voluntary guidelines only, not tough measures needed to address longstanding Israeli abuses. Examples include:
"(F)urther and coordinated steps to ensure that consumers in the EU are able to exercise their right to an informed choice in respect to settlement products in conformity with existing EU rules of origin and labeling, including other possible future measures."
"Possible measures against known violent settlers and those calling for acts of violence as regards immigration regulations in EU member states."
"Strengthen efforts to raise awareness amongst EU citizens and businesses on the risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, including financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements and services."
"Advance voluntary guidelines for EU tour operators to prevent support for settlement business in East Jerusalem."
The Guardian said speculation mounts on whether Washington and EU countries will reassess how they treat Israel.
A previous article said don't bet on US changes. Policies toward Israel are longstanding.
They're hard-wired in place. They remain largely constant under all Israeli regimes. All are hardline. None are left-of-center.
Apartheid worse than South Africa's remains official Israeli policy. Washington and EU nations largely ignored Israel's worst crimes for decades.
Don't expect sudden change now. Expect continued support for business as usual. Expect rhetoric and policies diverging markedly. 
Expect Palestinian persecution to continue unabated. Expect no relief for besieged Gazans.
Expect expanding settlements on stolen Palestinian land. Expect continued theft of their resources. 
Expect systematic violation of their fundamental rights everyone deserves. Expect no change in ruthless Israeli treatment. Expect no reassessment of Western policy toward Israel.
Claims otherwise reflect fantasy. Talk is cheap. Policies alone matter. Nothing fundamentally changed toward Israel since 1948. Expect nothing significantly different ahead.
The Guardian cited various high-profile violent incidents last year. It failed to explain Palestinians face Kristallnacht conditions daily.
It cited the EU report calling Jerusalem "one of the most emotive and problematic issues" in peace process discussions. 
It omitted explaining longstanding peace process hypocrisy - the greatest scam in modern memory. Dead on arrival every time initiated.
The EU report cited "tensions, mistrust and violence which have accompanied developments in the city in the course of the year (at) extremely high levels."
"These developments are increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution and, in turn, risk precipitating further levels of polarisation and violence." 
It said "2014 (was) distinguished by a number of specific, disturbing and often violent developments" - largely Israeli initiated. 
It noted failure to address abuses will lead to "further escalation and extreme polarisation."
"These incidents have occurred against the background of the systematic increase in settlement activity, tensions over the Haram al-Sharif and rising levels of tensions and acts of violence" largely by Israel.
"The expansion of settlements has continued, including in highly sensitive areas, (and was) followed in force by waves of demolitions and evictions."
"Almost on a daily basis settlers and national religious activists have ascended on to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount under the protection of Israeli forces."
Abusive security force practices were highlighted - Israeli instigated violence "le(ading) to more than 1,300 arrests (with 40% of he detainees being minors)."
Coverup, denial and whitewash reflect official Israeli policy. A regime spokesman response didn't surprise.
It lied calling the EU report "so extremely one-sided…that it distorts reality beyond comprehension."
Israel is a rogue terror state. It commits regular high crimes against peace unaccountably.
It wages dirty wars of aggression without mercy at its discretion.
It mass-murders countless numbers of defenseless Palestinians with impunity.
It imprisons thousands for wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.
Torture is official policy. So are other forms of abuse and ill-treatment. Institutionalized racism is longstanding.
Israeli children are taught to hate Arabs. Apartheid conditions worse than South Africa's persist.
EU and US rhetorical criticism belie longstanding support for Israel's worst crimes.
Expect no significant changes ahead. Expect same old business as usual like always.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Poroshenko: Declaring Peace, Waging War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 22/03/2015 - 22:18
Poroshenko: Declaring Peace, Waging War
by Stephen Lendman
US-appointed, he serves at the pleasure of his puppet masters.
He's a convenient stooge - easily replaced if no longer serving US interests. In September 2014, he straightaway breached Minsk ceasefire terms.
On February 12, he agreed to Minsk II peacemaking measures. Terms include:
  • ceasefire effective midnight February 15;

  • withdrawal of heavy weapons from front line positions;

  • granting Donbass autonomous special status self-rule; 

  • ending economic blockade;

  • Ukrainian constitutional reform;

  • other provisions relating to monitoring, border control, prisoner exchanges, amnesty and safe access for humanitarian aid.

Poroshenko breached virtually everything he agreed to. On orders from Washington, he's gone all-out to sabotage Minsk.
Low-intensity fighting continues - heading toward exploding full-blown at Obama's discretion.
On March 21, Poroshenko lied to Ukrainians on national television.
While his forces continue shelling Donbass, he claimed "firm hope for peace exists."
"And I as the Ukrainian president and Ukraine as a state are doing our best to ensure the restoration of peace," he blustered. 
"But we are also readying ourselves to defend the state. We are not daydreamers, and we are doing everything if, God forbid, there is active offensive action against Ukraine, we could repeal the enemy with all the force and defeat it."
He deliberately turned truth on its head claiming he's "strictly and consistently implement(ing)" Minsk terms.
While his military forces shell Donbass multiple times daily, he lied saying "we ceased fire."
While failing to withdraw heavy weapons as stipulated, he said "we withdrew" them.
While obstructing OSCE monitoring, he claimed he "ensured (their) active work."
He ludicrously said he "check(ed) the implementation of" Minsk terms to be sure they're enforced.
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) military spokesman Eduard Basurin issued a statement, saying multiple daily Kiev ceasefire violations continue. 
Explaining "(f)or the first time (since February 15), violations are noted along the whole demarcation line: Dokuchayevsk, Granitnoye, Logvinovo." 
"The Ukrainian forces are concentrated most of all in the area of Donetsk and Mariupol."
Nazi infested Azov fighters are "equipped with a new battery, which uses the tactic of maneuverable military action, shells our areas, and then changes its location in order to not be seen by the OSCE." 
"The Ukrainian military is reinforced by new weapons and also with personnel." 
"Mostly these are conscripts, who were deceptively sent into Donbass." 
"We also noted the additional equipping and relocation of vehicles, reinforcements, and mining of the objects."
In other words, ceasefire is pure fantasy. Kiev shelling continues. It's intensifying headed toward resuming full-scale war.
Illegitimate US appointed prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Kiev's "goal is to regain control of Donetsk and Lugansk."
It'll never grant local autonomous self-rule, permit democratic elections, or let area residents be free from the scourge of fascism.
The Colonel Cassad web site said humanitarian workers returning from Donetsk reported "artillery and 'Grads' actively engaged in the area of Peski and Avdeyevka." 
Shelling "could be heard in the center of the city. At Shirokino, there's fighting going on non-stop for several days…" 
Self-defense "forces had up to 50" killed or wounded. Junta casualties numbered around 70. 
Its "artillery is very strongly engaged. (It's) deploying pontoons for crossing Seversky Donetsk and is pulling vehicles towards the supposed locations of crossing." 
"Overall, to the question of 'When?' almost all militia fighters and those who have to do with them reply 'Soon.' "
Russia "openly and without excuses accused the junta of violating the Minsk agreements. So, overall, we continue to wait for that which is imminent" - resumed full-scale war.
On Saturday, Russia's Foreign Ministry accused Kiev of "rudely" breaching Minsk.
Video evidence shows "statements by the Ukrainian authorities that all heavy weapons had been pulled out once again turn(ed) out to be a bluff."
Lavrov said Minsk won't be rewritten. He accused Kiev of blatant violations. 
He urged Germany and France to act against what he called a "glaring breach of the first steps of the Minsk package."
Kiev violated its terms before the ink was dry. Poroshenko has no intention of observing what he agreed to.
Washington won't tolerate peace. It's sabotaging Minsk. It's unclear how Merkel and Hollande will react to US policy.
On the one hand, they want greater European war avoided. On the other, they're US-dominated core NATO members.
Washington calls the shots. Will Merkel and Hollande choose war or peace? 
Will they continue hostile relations with Moscow or seek rapprochement? Will they do the right or wrong thing? Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
A Final Comment
A previous article discussed Kiev junta war crimes - including use of banned weapons, murdering civilians, horrendous atrocities and torturing prisoners.
On March 22, Russia Insider published an "exclusive interview (with) French entrepreneur and long-time resident of Ukraine, Thierry Pellet."
He described horrific treatment at the hands of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and Nazi-infested Right Sector.
He spent nine years in Ukraine. In Dnipropretrovsk last month, "five armed men detained him on suspicion of 'terrorism.' "
Beatings left him seriously injured. A damaged spine requires "very serious injection treatment (causing) pain with no release," he said.
He's appalled at conditions in Ukraine today. Political and economic instability and disorder make another Maidan uprising perhaps likely, he said. If erupts, it'll be much bloodier than last year, he believes.
He calls what's ongoing unacceptable. He accused Kiev of instigating state terror.
It's dangerous for anyone supporting democratic freedoms. Imprisonment, torture or death await them.
Today's Ukraine reflects US-installed fascist viciousness. Its scourge may set the continent ablaze.
Obama bears full responsibility. Rogue EU partners share it. Russia continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution.
Washington sabotages its best efforts. Is it too late to stop WW III?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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