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Proposed US Strategy for Dominating China

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 00:37
Proposed US Strategy for Dominating China
by Stephen Lendman
US imperial policy prioritizes endless wars for unchallenged global dominance - madness by any standard at a time super-weapons can end life on earth.
Russia and China are Washington's two main rivals - Moscow militarily, Beijing mainly for its growing economic dominance. 
It's now the world's largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) - the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.
Its growth since the 1980s is one of the greatest success stories in modern times - extraordinary by any standard, enough for Washington prioritizing regime change.
It wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing China's sovereign independence. It wants a major rival eliminated by any means necessary.
Robert Blackwell is a former Bush administration deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic planning - a neocon lunatic by any standard.
Ashley Tellis is a former Bush administration State Department senior advisor and National Security Council staff member. His ideological extremism matches Blackwell's.
Their April Council on Foreign Relations "Special Report" is titled "Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China."
They maintain Beijing represents a threat to America in a part of the world not its own.
US "primacy in Asia" is at stake, they say. So is "a consequential challenge to American power globally," they claim. 
They urge challenging China's growing economic, political and military "ascendancy" aggressively.
Above all, they want all challengers to America's global supremacy eliminated - by any means necessary including war.
Their policy recommendations include "revitalizing the US economy." Phony numbers conceal its dismal state. 
Q I GDP suggests recession conditions - real negative growth concealed by a fabricated +0.2%. Real final sales (GDP minus inventory buildup) fell at an annualized 0.5% quarterly rate.
America's economy appears headed south. It never recovered from 2008-09's major recession. 
With over a fifth of its working age population unable to find jobs, it's in trouble. It could take years to turn things around. It requires polar opposite policies than current ones nowhere in sight.
Strengthen America's military, Blackwell and Tellis urge. Washington already matches or exceeds what the rest of the world spends in total on militarism.
"Congress should remove (virtually nonexistent) sequestration caps and substantially increase the US defense budget," the authors maintain.
"Washington should intensify a consistent US naval and air presence in the South and East China Seas." 
It should "accelerate the US (Pacific-based) ballistic-missile defense posture." 
The authors barely stopped short of urging Washington declare war on China and carpet-bomb its land mass with nuclear weapons.
They stressed expanding US/Asian trade. They prioritize enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement - a stealth freedom-destroying corporate coup d'etat critics call NAFTA on steroids.
"US grand strategy toward China will be seriously weakened without delivering on the TPP," they stress. 
"A major push by the White House for ratification should therefore begin immediately in the new Congress, including seeking trade promotion authority" (fast track license to ram legislation through Congress with minimal debate and no amendments).
Blackwell and Tellis want Washington "limiting China's access to advanced weaponry and military critical technologies."
They want America's allies pressured to go along with imperial US policies and objectives.
They want all nations subservient to Washington's will. They want total US control over planet earth and space.
They want Washington imposing "costs on China (exceeding) benefits it receives from" alleged cyberspace violations. 
They want US "offensive" cyber capabilities enhanced. They want congressional legislation benefitting America at the expense of other countries.
"The United States cannot defend its interests in Asia without support from its allies," they maintain.
They want US regional power increased along China's borders - with Asian allies pressured to go along with policies harming their own interests.
They prefer dominating China diplomatically. They support war if other options fail.
They want no US geopolitical rivals anywhere. The want unchallenged American dominion over planet earth - even at the risk of destroying it.
The authors' attitude toward US/China relations and all independent countries America doesn't control matches dominant thinking among neocon lunatics infesting Washington.
They see no prospect "of building fundamental trust, peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding (or) a strategic partnership" - code language for wanting all independent governments replaced by stooge ones Washington controls, a prescription for endless wars of aggression.
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. 

Kiev's Poroshenko Vows Continued War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 22:31
KIev's Poroshenko Vows Continued War
by Stephen Lendman
He lied agreeing to Minsk ceasefire terms. He violated them straightaway. 
He has no intention of observing them. Washington won't permit it. Obama wants escalated conflict. He's readying Ukrainian forces to launch it full-scale.
He deplores peace and stability. So does Poroshenko. He's beholden to Washington controlling his geopolitical agenda.
On state-controlled television, he said "(t)he war will be over only when Ukraine regains control of Donbas and Crimea." 
"It will take as much time as it takes. The country’s territorial integrity must be priority number one." 
"We will use every way possible. We will be uncompromising on that matter."

Crimea is Russian territory. It won't be handed back to Ukraine. Crimeans won't tolerate it. Nor should they.
Donbass rejects Kiev fascist rule. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Parliament Speaker Denis Pushilin said Poroshenko's comments "are aimed at escalating the conflict in Donbas." 
"This once again confirms the fact that Kiev is not ready to implement all the conditions of the Minsk agreements." It wants war, not peace.
DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said "(t)oday we are building our young state enthusiastically." 
"Still not everything comes easily, but despite the intention of our enemies to destroy the republic, I want to state firmly - we have established ourselves as a young state. We are developing and we have won!" 
He praised Donbass residents for their courage, unity and spiritual strength.
"I am sure that by our joint efforts we will soon turn our dream into reality and establish a strong, independent and prosperous state created by people and for people," he added.
In April 2014, Donetsk and Lugansk declared themselves sovereign states. After their May 2014 referendums, they created the Union of People's Republics, Novorossiya.
It bears repeating. They reject fascist rule. They want real democracy. They've risked life and limb fighting for it. 
They intend defending what they won. They deserve universal support.
Low-level war continues daily. In the 24-hour period ending April 30, Ukrainian forces shelled Donetsk 37 times - using heavy artillery and mortar fire.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin, Kiev continues waging war on Donbass.
"Ukrainian forces also continue harassing fire on our settlements near the contact line from tanks and IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles), and from firearms." 
"Ukrainian commanders continue covertly pulling in rocket artillery systems to positions along the contact line."
DPR intelligence noted heavy Ukrainian weapons well inside the agreed on contact line - in flagrant violation of Minsk. They're used to shell Donbass.
Information collected is given to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination, Basurin explained. Dozens of ceasefire violations occur daily.
On Thursday, "our reconnaissance registered a brief exchange of fire at the positions of the Ukrainian armed units," he said. 
"Our reconnaissance officers said in their reports that an unknown unit of commandos had stormed and seized a platoon-level fortified strongpoint set up by punitive expeditioners from a nationalistic battalion."
"That’s the first time since the outbreak of the conflict that we see an operation of this kind conducted on Kiev’s side in an area adjoining the frontline."
"(T)he unit that stormed the positions of the Ukrainian punitive battalion used silent killer weapons that didn’t belong to the Kalashnikov family of assault rifles and was obviously manufactured by a Western company."
It's unclear who ordered the operation. Basurin thinks Kiev will blame Donbass freedom fighters - maybe as a pretext for escalated fighting.
On Wednesday, Basurin cited intelligence information indicating Kiev plans large-scale provocations coinciding with May 8 and 9 Victory in Europe commemorations - including shelling residential Donbass areas.
He explained numerous previous times about Kiev forces building up aggressively along the contact line - in brazen violation of Minsk.
Now he's "referring to the use heavy artillery and jet propulsion systems with considerable destructive potential that could lead to mass civilian casualties."
If DPR intelligence is correct, expect Kiev aggression on the 70th anniversary of when it ended in May 1945 - Victory in Europe over the scourge of Nazism.
Reemerged in Europe's heartland - risking setting the whole continent ablaze again, potentially with nuclear weapons if Washington attacks Russia.
The worst of all possible outcomes could follow. Humanity destroying war was never more possible than now. Power-crazed lunatics in Washington may risk the unthinkable.
A Final Comment
America's propaganda machine never rests. On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest lied saying:
"Unfortunately, we see that the Russians continue to fail to live up to the obligations they have made in the context of the Minsk agreements."
Fact: The whole world know Russia scrupulously observes Minsk terms to the letter.
Fact: Washington and Kiev blatantly violate them daily.
Earnest outrageously claimed Kiev's "clear willingness" to observe Minsk. Clear evidence proves otherwise.
Washington and rogue EU partners support and encourage its naked aggression against its own citizens. 
Donbass self-defense forces vow to continue resisting to live free from the scourge of fascism.
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. 

Washington Blocks Security Council Action on Vital Yemeni Humanitarian Needs

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 21:17
Washington Blocks Security Council Action on Vital Yemeni Humanitarian Needs
by Stephen Lendman
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Yemen is Obama's war - another atrocity on his rap sheet affecting an entire country and its 25 million people in dire need of humanitarian aid to survive.
Saudis and rogue regional allies are convenient US proxies - carrying out orders from Washington. They'd never attack another Arab country without America's OK, urging and support.
Washington and Riyadh imposed air and sea blockade on Yemen - a blatantly illegal act on top of US planned and orchestrated naked aggression against an independent country posing no threat to others.
Russia called for an immediate ceasefire, an urgency to address humanitarian crisis conditions and dialogue among all sides to end fighting.
During a Friday emergency closed-door Security Council session on Yemen it called, Washington blocked its initiative.
Obama launched war. He deplores peace. He wants conflict escalated. 
He wants blockade conditions maintained. He wants Yemenis starved to death or perishing from untreated wounds.
He wants no consideration whatever given to addressing essential to life humanitarian needs.
Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin expressed frustration saying "(t)his really shows an amazing lack of understanding of how things are evolving."
"If you can't agree to a (responsible) motherhood and apple pie statement, what can you agree on?"
Churkin pointed fingers at Washington adding:
"Clearly, they need to feel their responsibility since they are supporting the bombing of the coalition, the responsibility of the humanitarian consequences."
Saudi-led airstrikes and blockade are lawless. No Security Council resolution authorized them.
"It is very clear from resolution 2216 that it did not authorize the use of military force," Churkin explained. 
"Some colleagues were saying that the Saudi-led coalition is trying to make sure that resolution 2216 is implemented. This is not the case. Their action is completely outside the resolution."
Among other provisions, it banned supplying Houthis with weapons. It did nothing to stop Washington and Riyadh from arming forces fighting them - including thousands Saudi recruited takfiri terrorists.
On Thursday, an ineffective UN statement without teeth "call(ed) on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies and their partners have safe and reliable access to bring aid workers and supplies into Yemen and to deliver aid to millions of people in need."
"All airports are closed to civilian traffic - some have come under direct attack - and naval shipments are being delayed." 
"Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems and telecommunications services are on the brink of collapse."
Yemen faces an acute shortage of food, clean water, medical supplies and other essentials to life.
US-initiated/Saudi-led aggression bears full responsibility. In mid-April, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said food reserves in Yemen were fast running out. Millions of Yemenis face possible starvation. 
The ICRC reported an alarming shortage of virtually everything needed to sustain life.
Its surgical team had to abandon Aden's Al Jamhouria hospital when Saudis terror-bombed it. ICRC's Cedric Scheizer issued a statement saying:
"We are shocked by the lack of respect for the hospital, as a neutral health facility, by the fighting parties."
"Under no circumstances should this be happening, and under no circumstances should hospitals be targeted or used for fighting purposes." 
"Our team had been working in that hospital for three weeks but, after all the patients and staff were put at risk, the hospital had to be vacated."
Washington supplies Riyadh with targets to strike. They include hospitals, residential neighborhoods, schools, mosques, power facilities, food storage areas and civilian infrastructure - blatant illegal acts.
Sanaa's Al Kuwait Hospital administrator Issa Alzugh said "(w)e are facing tremendous logistical difficulties in trying to keep this hospital working."
"We are running out of diesel. Our ambulances can no longer transport patients. Only half of our staff can come to work as the hospital buses have stopped running."
Dr. Zine El Abidine said severe shortages of lifesaving supplies are crippling operations.
An entire country is on the brink of collapse. Appalling human suffering affects millions.
On Friday, thousands of Yemenis protested in Sanaa. They chanted anti-US/Saudi/Israeli slogans.
Women, children and elderly participants addressed the huge crowd. It was the second mass protest since mid-April - organized by Yemen's Supreme Revolutionary Council.
On Friday, Saudis terror-bombed an area 200 meters from Russia's Sanaa embassy - perhaps a shot across the bow. Its diplomats remain in Sanaa.
Its embassy is official Russian territory. Saudis perhaps sent a message indicating a future strike won't miss.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Washington's full support for Saudi terror-bombing. 
Claiming Riyadh is "reacting to legitimate concerns…about the security situation along their border" is a brazen Big Lie.
US-planned, sponsored and orchestrated naked aggression continues - endless war against 25 million Yemenis, genocide by any standard.
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. 

Yesterday's USA Freedom Markup: A Glimpse into the Fight to Reform Section 702

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 12:12

The 2015 version of the USA Freedom Act, HR 2048/S.1123 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week, with a vote of 25 ayes and 2 noes. The Committee did not pass any amendments to the legislation. But the markup discussion revealed a lot about where the House Judiciary Committee stands when it comes to reforming Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the key authorities that the government claims as justification for mass surveillance.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte explained why he and others voted against all amendments:

The legislation before us today was painstakingly and carefully negotiated not just amongst members of this committee, but with our colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community… We must not pass amendments that will be a poison pill to the success of these reforms.

Rep. Goodlatte made it clear that he wanted to pass the bill as is to preserve a carefully crafted compromise. In fact, he and other supporters of USA Freedom on the Committee repeatedly noted that they supported certain amendments in theory, but could not vote for them because of their concern about making the legislation impossible to pass.

We think it’s important to take note of what they supported and what they didn’t. When these issues come up again, either around another piece of legislation or another reauthorization fight, we hope that you’ll join us in holding these lawmakers accountable.

Ultimately, the lack of amendments was a mixed blessing because it blocked both bad and good changes. A data retention amendment from Rep. Steve King that would have authorized the government to enter into agreements with telecoms and compensate those telecoms to store data was on the table.

Rep. Goodlatte spoke favorably about the amendment, but made it clear that he couldn’t support it because “data retention issues are controversial, and inclusion of this amendment will most certainly prevent consideration of this bill” on the House and Senate floor.[1] We’ve long been concerned about data retention, so we’ll be following this issue closely.   

Unfortunately, there were also some important amendments that would’ve strengthened a piece of legislation that we see as only a first, small step in the right direction— one that has serious faults that could have been partially addressed by these changes.

In particular, we were closely watching an amendment that aimed to cut funding to NSA “backdoors” from Rep. Ted Poe, which mirrored the language in an amendment to the 2014 Department of Defense appropriations bill. As Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who also introduced the similar Secure Data Act of 2014 with Sen. Ron Wyden, explained:

we have said that the bill would end bulk collection, but without addressing 702, I do not think it is correct that we will be ending bulk collection.

The amendment would have addressed two types of NSA backdoors. First, it attempted to end the practice known as "backdoor searches.” The NSA collects contents of communications under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Even though it’s ostensibly used for foreign targets, Section 702 surveillance sweeps up the communications of Americans, and the NSA has acknowledged that it searches this information without a warrant for the communications of Americans. The amendment that did not pass yesterday attempted to prohibit this practice except in a few limited situations.

The amendment also addressed the NSA’s backdoor into products and services. Leaked documents have shown that the NSA, with the help of the FBI, has sought backdoors into products and services, from encryption software to online communications tools like Skype. While the government claims that these backdoors would only be accessible to them, tech companies and security experts have made it very clear that security backdoors make products and services, and by extension the Internet, less secure for everyone. Yet both the FBI and NSA Directors have recently urged companies to install security "backdoors" into hardware or software, even while American businesses continue to suffer reputational harm overseas and even lose business.

Ultimately, the amendment failed 9-24.[2] Rep. John Conyers echoed Rep. Goodlatte’s comments on the compromise represented by the legislation in explaining his no vote:

 Any amendment to this compromise threatens to stop this legislation dead in its tracks. This is not mere speculation. House leadership had all but assured us that if the bill is amended, it will not be considered on the House floor.

However, Rep. Conyers and others who voted against the amendment expressed clear support for what the amendment would have done. Rep Goodlatte noted, “this committee will exercise its jurisdiction on this and soon. We will hold a hearing on this . . .” Echoing Rep. Goodlatte’s sentiments, Rep. Darrell Issa noted:

If I get an opportunity to vote for it on a bill that cannot be blown up by the House leadership and/or the Senate, I will vote for it, and I think that is what we need to do.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner also said that he supports the policy, but stated, “The time and the place to do this is when Section 702 comes up for reauthorization.” The sentiment that the FISA Amendments Act expiration is the right time for 702 reform was echoed by several others as well. But the FISA Amendments Act doesn’t expire until December 31, 2017.  We don’t think reform to this unconstitutional spying bill should wait that long.  

Other amendments garnered far less discussion. An amendment from Rep. Paul Labrador would have narrowed the authority for “emergency production of tangible things” provided by Section 102 of USA Freedom. The amendment would’ve defined an emergency situation as one “involving the potential for imminent death or bodily harm to any person,” in order to ensure that emergency authority is only used in true emergencies.   

Rep. Lofgren offered an amendment that would have strengthened whistleblower protections “for both intelligence community employees and contractors,” and “provides two more pathways for whistleblowers to report wrongdoing” Finally, Rep. Jim Jordan offered an amendment that would have created “the office of constitutional advocate.”

Ultimately, regardless of what happens with USA Freedom, we look forward to fighting for Section 702 reform in Congress. For now, we agree with Rep. Sensenbrenner’s statement at the hearing:

Knowing what we know now, a straight reauthorization is an express vote in favor of bulk collection on Americans.

If you think so too, take action by going to Fight215.org.  


[1] The yes votes on this amendment were Representatives Gohmert, King, Jordan, and Poe.

[2] The yes votes were Representatives Gohmert, Jordan, Poe, Labrador, Buck, Lofgren, DelBene, Jeffries, and Cicilline. Additionally, Representatives Ratcliffe, Issa, Conyers, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Jackson Lee, and Nadler all made clear statements that they support the policy changes the amendment would have made. We’ve taken note, since we’ve long been pushing for reform to Section 702 and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. 


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Run a Wi-Fi Network? HBO and Showtime Want You to Police Your Users

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 09:49

Two men are going to fight this weekend, and HBO and Showtime have already thrown the first punch in the legal fight over online streaming of the match. Taking advantage of an increasingly abused loophole in copyright law, they have just won a court order requiring a host of third parties to block access to sites that may stream the fight. In other words, if you run a Wi-Fi network (for example, you’re a coffee shop) and someone may use your network to watch the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight via unauthorized sources, HBO and Showtime think they can force you to block your customers’ access.

HBO and Showtime are relying on part of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 411(c), that allows a broadcaster to file a “pre-emptive” suit to stop planned infringing streams. As part of that lawsuit, a would-be copyright owner can ask for an injunction to prohibit the anticipated infringement. With respect to the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight, HBO and Showtime asked for, and got, a court order to prevent two websites from carrying out their purported plan to show the fight without authorization. In the lawsuit, they asked the court to issue an injunction against boxinghd.net, sportship.org, and those who are in “active concert or participation with them.”

But that’s not the worrisome bit. HBO also persuaded the Court to order “all service providers whose services will enable or facilitate Defendants’ anticipated infringement [] to suspend all services with respect to Defendants’ Infringing Websites, including all registrars, hosts, name servers, site acceleration providers, providers of video delivery resources, and providers of computer and network resources through which video transits.”  In other words, any service provider who gets this court order has to “suspend all services” with respect to the enjoined websites—even though they never had a chance to weigh in.

You may not feel much sympathy for the websites in question. But this kind of site-blocking, without real legal process, is essentially one of the worst parts of the ill-conceived, long-dead Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being brought in through the courtroom back door. HBO got an order to block content against those who act as intermediaries, even though they have nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the sites, are simply providing normal business services, and almost surely had no notice that they were about to be enjoined.

This is not the way our legal system is meant to work, and the good news is that it actually doesn’t. Federal Rules only allow courts to issue injunctions against those who truly are in “active concert or participation” with bad actors. We doubt that those who offer hosting services and video delivery, without more, can properly be considered in “active concert or participation” with the unauthorized streamers.

Imagine if a court ordered the TV news not to talk to people who allegedly planned to commit defamation, or ordered libraries to not lend books that hadn’t even been published, or told art supply stores they had to make sure no one could make infringing art with their materials. This is the basically same thing. HBO and Showtime may find it convenient to get a court to order unwitting intermediaries to block content, rather than going after people who might actually infringe their rights. But getting a court to edit the Internet, without due process, take us down a dangerous path that the Internet soundly rejected back when it was called SOPA. We’re keeping a close eye on this new trend, because whatever name it has, pre-emptive Internet censorship is bad news.

Files:  showtime_v_john_doe_-_complaint.pdf showtime_v_john_doe_-_tro.pdfRelated Issues: SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist LegislationContent Blocking
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How Private DNA Data Led Idaho Cops on a Wild Goose Chase and Linked an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Case

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 04:30

The New Orleans Advocate recently published a shocking story that details the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases and familial DNA searching.

In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Churchwell-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson. Its consent form states:

The only individuals who will have access to the codes and genealogy information will be the principal investigator and the others specifically authorized by the Principal Investigator, including the SMGF research staff.

Despite this promise, Sorenson shared its vast collection of data with the Idaho police. Without a warrant or court order, investigators asked the lab to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA database. Sorenson found 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.”

This is when the case starts to sound like something out of the TV show “CSI.” Sorenson linked the crime scene DNA to DNA from a man born in 1952. That man didn’t fit the age profile of the murderer, so the cops used Sorenson’s genealogical information to trace his male descendant line and find his son, Michael Usry Jr., born in 1979. Then the cops searched Usry’s Facebook page and found he had some Facebook friends who lived somewhat near Idaho Falls. And then through Google searches, the cops learned Usry was a filmmaker who had been involved in making a few short films that had homicide or killings in the story line. (The cop noted in a warrant affidavit “these short films have won awards in several film festivals.”) Based on this completely circumstantial evidence, the Idaho investigators got a warrant to collect a swab of Usry’s DNA.

They called up Usry, told him they were investigating a hit-and-run, and asked him to meet with them. Usry thought he “had nothing to hide” and agreed to the meeting. They took him to an interrogation room, questioned him without a lawyer present, and eventually collected a DNA sample. Then Usry sat on pins & needles for a month waiting for the results.

When the results came in, it turned out Usry’s DNA didn’t match the crime scene sample—despite the close familial markers and other circumstantial evidence, he wasn’t the murderer.

Usry was lucky. The forensic crime scene DNA sample came from semen and likely was single source (meaning it contained DNA from only one person). This means that it was relatively easy for the cops to compare Usry’s DNA against the forensic sample and determine conclusively the two didn’t match. In many cases today, however, forensic samples come instead from “touch” DNA—miniscule samples of DNA deposited on physical surfaces that people have touched. Touch DNA is less reliable and harder to match both because it may not include enough DNA for meaningful interpretation and because it often contains DNA from multiple persons—some of whom may have had no connection to the crime at all. With touch DNA, lab analysts may see a match where none exists. Just this year in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle revealed a crime lab analyst had been making assumptions about poor-quality, incomplete genetic evidence and testified at trial that one of the profiles she generated matched the defendant, which was false. This analyst’s misconduct could affect as many as 1,400 cases. When touch DNA analysis expands to include familial markers, the risk of misidentification only increases.

This risk will increase further as state and local law enforcement agencies begin to use Rapid DNA analyzers—portable machines that can process DNA in less than an hour. These machines will make it much easier for police to collect and analyze DNA on their own outside a lab. Currently, because forensic DNA analysis in a lab takes so long, we generally see its use limited to high-level felonies like rape and murder. However, Rapid DNA manufacturers are now encouraging local police agencies to analyze DNA found at the scene of low-level property crimes. This means much more DNA will be collected and stored, often in under-regulated local DNA databases. And, because most of the forensic DNA found at property crime scenes is likely to be touch DNA—this only increases the risk that people will be implicated in crimes they didn’t commit.

Most states and the federal government don’t yet extract YSTR and mtDNA and so don’t store it in their criminal DNA databases. For this reason, even if one of your relatives already has DNA in a criminal database, the risk you would be implicated through familial searching is low. But if the cops can access private databases—especially private databases like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me that collect matrilineal and patrilineal markers—everyone’s risk increases.

This case highlights the extreme threats posed to privacy and civil liberties by familial DNA searches and by private, unregulated DNA databases. People should be able to learn about their ancestors and relatives and about possible risks for genetic diseases without fear that their data will be shared with the cops without their consent. However, Usry’s case shows that we can’t count on private companies’ internal policies to keep our private data safe, and we should think twice before sharing our genetic information with a third party.

Related Issues: BiometricsMandatory National IDs and Biometric DatabasesPrivacyGenetic Information PrivacyTransparencyRelated Cases: US v. PoolRaynor v. State of MarylandFederal DNA Collection
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Don't Travel to Israel Ever for Any Reason!

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 02:57
Don't Travel to Israel Ever for Any Reason!
by Stephen Lendman
Doing so could be nightmarish - especially for anyone wishing to visit Occupied Palestine.
What French music students Philomene Constant and Bastien Anthoine experienced could happen to anyone. 
Mondoweiss published their horrifying account. Israeli hospitality reflects police state viciousness. 
Stay far away from its borders. Warn others against traveling there. Jewishness is no protection.
Beginning in September 2013, Philomene and Bastien spent a year in Occupied Palestine.
"We gave and attended music classes (violin and flute) at the Edward Said National Conservatory in Ramallah and helped to create a music school in Jericho," they said.
The late distinguished Palestinian/American scholar, intellectual and Israeli critic was an accomplished classical pianist. 
"This year we had decided to go back during our recent Easter break to see our friends again and to return to the places where we had spent time the previous year," the students said.
On April 19, they arrived at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. When the customs officer heard they planned to visit Ramallah they "were sent straight to a small room where other people were waiting for us," they explained.
They were harshly interrogated separately. Philomene was asked "the reason for her visit, whether or not she had previously been to Israel, and why."
Her explanation didn't satisfy the customs officer. He called her a liar - "because it seemed to him impossible that a 20-year-old would come to Palestine for a year for the sole purpose of playing and studying music."
Saying she had no Palestinian cell phone "because she was afraid of placing her contacts in a bad position," the customs officer raged again.
He "stood up and pounded the desk with his fists, saying: 'You're a liar. I don't believe you.' "
Bastien experienced the same type grilling. He was warned not to lie like his friend. He "told…the truth but the officer didn't believe him, and a dialogue of the deaf ensued."
They were both accused of participating in demonstrations despite their insisting otherwise.
Harsh interrogation continued for hours. "(T)here (were) five of us in the small room. We are trembling. We want to throw up."
"We can't eat the dry sandwich Israeli security had brought us. Next to us a Russian woman passed out."
A visitor from Chad was handcuffed and taken away. "A fifty-year-old man, exhausted, was crying in a corner."
"The wait was growing unbearable, inhuman. We need to walk to feel better."
"The officer insists that Bastien, being pro-Palestinian, can’t have spent a year in Palestine without having gone to Bil’in, a village known for its resistance." 
"Having never demonstrated, Bastien continued to insist that he hadn’t been there." 
"When Philomene’s turn came, he asked her exactly the same questions. She gave the same answers."
An immigration officer denied them visa entry calling them too dangerous. They were brought to a detention center awaiting late afternoon deportation.
They were treated like terrorists. They were brought to a search room - treated like "objects."
Contents of their luggage were thoroughly searched. They were strip-searched. They called it "(t)otal humiliation."
In detention, their "jailers" put their belongings in a room. They put them in a cell awaiting deportation.
"Here (they were) locked up, with no notion of time in a dirty place, covered with fleas…Three and a half hours later" they were taken to the airport - for a flight to Brussels, not Paris, their destination.
Seventeen hours after arriving they landed in Brussels - "where the Belgian border police" awaited them.
They returned to France the next day. "Every year at Ben Gurion airport, numerous visitors from a variety of origins are treated similarly," they said.
"Their most elementary human rights are flouted: violation of intimacy, psychological torture, dehumanization, racism, theft, trauma." 
"Few of them present a real danger to Israel (maybe none). In this way, Israel interferes with the smooth development of a great number of humanitarian, cultural, and other projects."
World leaders able to stop this outrage do nothing - letting Israel humiliate and abuse their nationals unaccountably.
It systematically flouts their fundamental human and civil rights. They're treated like criminals - not legitimate nonthreatening visitors.
No one should visit Israel as a tourist or for any other reason - EVER! Doing so risks being treated as abusively as Philomene and Bastien or worse. 
Rogue states operate this way. Israel and America are the world's worst. They give ruthlessness new meaning.
Philomene and Bastien's article first appeared on the AURDIP web site - Association of Universities for the Respect of International Law in Palestine.
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. 

Reported Hamas/Israeli Talks: Hold the Cheers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 02:45
Reported Hamas/Israeli Talks: Hold the Cheers
by Stephen Lendman
Last Sunday, Hamas official Ahmad Yousef said "chats" were taking place with Israel under European mediation.
No direct Hamas/Israeli talks occurred. None are planned.
"We await the formation of an Israeli government so things can get more serious," said Yousef.
"European diplomats and civil society activists come to the Gaza Strip constantly and pose Israeli viewpoints and convey the reaction of the movement through unofficial chats."
Issues discussed include ceasefire terms and ending siege conditions "by opening a seaport to the outside world."
A scheduled Jimmy Carter-led Elders delegation visit was cancelled. It planned to assess conditions, highlight the humanitarian crisis, and meet with Hamas officials.
No explanation was given. The Elders call themselves "independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights" - to "help resolve some of the world's most intractable conflicts."
The group's spokesperson expressed concern about lack of reconstruction "and the continued closure of Gaza, and will work with the international community to improve conditions for its people."
Israeli officials said they had no plans to meet Carter. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said his cancellation wasn't at Israel's request.
In his book titled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Carter said "Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East."
He calls West Bank/East Jerusalem settlements illegal, including products produced therein.
Yousef said international parties were mediating on returning remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza last summer.
"Hamas has a lot of important cards to play, and surprises on the topic of the missing soldiers," he added.
He explained no new deal would be made until Israel fulfills its earlier agreed on obligations.
He believes its new government when formed will have to deal with "Hamas' surprise."
Israel's YNet News said Hamas sent Israel a "detailed proposal (for) a calm period of five to 10 years" three months before Israeli March elections.
No response was forthcoming. YNet News said Washington and Cairo rejected Hamas' initiative because it bypassed the (US/Israeli controlled) Palestinian Authority.
"Israel is rolling into a dialogue with Hamas, even if it isn't making a decision about it," said YNet.
It explained Israel's Occupied Territories coordinator and new IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot are "pushing for talks…while the political echelon is making these moves possible."
Dialogue with Hamas in any form is "conceal(ed)." It conflicts with Israel (wrongfully) calling it "a terror organization."
Meanwhile, Israel continues blocking Gaza reconstruction. A previous article quoted UNWRA saying "(n)ot a single home has been rebuilt" - eight months after Israel's genocidal war ended.
Large parts of Gaza were turned to rubble. Its economy is in ruins. Its 1.8 million people are ruthlessly collectively punished by Israeli's lawless blockade, as well as land, air and sea attacks at its discretion.
What happens if talks continue remains to be seen. Israel's history shows its word isn't its bond. It breached previous agreements straightaway.
It's all take and no give. It says one thing and does another. Peace and stability defeat its agenda. Hamas is a convenient enemy. 
Expect no legitimate Israeli olive branch offered as far ahead as anyone might imagine. Expect business as usual harshness to continue whatever comes out of talks.
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. 

Congrats on the 10-Year Anniversary YouTube, Now Please Fix Content ID

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 02:31

YouTube is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.  We’re glad YouTube has managed to survive the copyright wars, when so many other services did not. We hope we even helped. So, congratulations YouTube, well done. Wouldn't fixing ContentID be a great way to celebrate it?

YouTube has come to be one of the most important platforms for speech and entertainment on the Internet. It is hard to remember the days when you had to make sure to have all the right codecs to play online video. YouTube has also been an amazing platform for those who wish to express themselves creatively. ‘Going viral’ became much more of a thing once YouTube became part of the zeitgeist.

YouTube's huge popularity can be attributed to the users who create and share content on the site with the world. The Evolution of Dance created by motivational speaker and comedian Judson Laipply was the site’s first breakout hit.  Users like Mr. Laipply were creating content for the site when Hollywood was actively engaged in removing as much of it as possible. The executives of media companies were regularly quoted declaring YouTube as a haven for infringement and issuing veiled threats on how they would deal with the startup. In an effort to answer that criticism, not to mention generate a new revenue source for both itself and small and large artists and copyright holders, YouTube created Content ID.

Implementation of ContentID

ContentID is supposed to help rightsholders and content creators manage and monetize their content on the site. The system works by checking every video upload against a database of audio and video "fingerprints" submitted by rightsholders. So when you upload a video, the Content ID tool can spot a song snippet used in that video, and the rightsholder gets to decide what happens when there is a match by setting "usage restrictions" — it can elect to Block, Track, or Monetize (i.e., get a portion of revenue generated from ads around the video).

When ContentID first launched, we were wary of the dangers that an automated filtering system like ContentID posed, and warned against the system’s potential to automatically censor fair uses. Unfortunately, our predictions have largely come to be true.

Fair Use Issues and How to Fix Them

At EFF, we frequently hear from users who have had their videos unfairly flagged and even monetized (by others) simply because they made fair use of copyrighted content. The problems with ContentID have always been in the news over the years, but lately have become more common, even comically so.

Here are just a few more recent examples of improper flags:

Users can appeal ContentID matches. But that process, while greatly streamlined over time, is still challenging. Here’s how it works:

The current ContentID regime on YouTube is stacked against the users.  For example, rightholders’ get 30 days to decide whether or not content actually infringes on their copyright, and whether it constitutes fair use.  The aforementioned earliest YouTube hit, the Evolution of Dance, alone could conceivably have had 32 ContentID matches. If its creator had gotten bogged down in Content ID appeals and challenges, it might never have emerged as a cultural phenomenon.

As a powerful global platform with millions of users, YouTube must do more to protect the users who supported the site early on as opposed to the rightsholders who wanted nothing more than to shut it down in the name of infringement. YouTube must ensure that ContentID isn’t a vehicle for semi-automated censorship.

First, any companies caught uploading fingerprints to YouTube’s database despite not holding exclusive rights to the material should be kicked out of the program. Second, YouTube should pressure its ContentID partners to take into account fair use while reviewing ContentID matches. Other possible additional steps could be to acknowledge that fair uses are sometimes incorrectly flagged and hold uploader revenues in escrow instead of blocking them, and experiment with empowering users to proactively indicate their videos make fair use of existing content.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCAFree SpeechRelated Cases: Viacom v. YouTube
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Categories: Aggregated News

Gunslinger NATO Commander Believes War is Peace

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 01/05/2015 - 21:53
Gunslinger NATO Commander Believes War Is Peace
by Stephen Lendman
US NATO commander General Philip Breedlove is part of America's lunatic fringe. He believes provoking Russia belligerently promotes world peace.
He wants more US combat troops close to Russia's borders - more provocative military exercises antagonizing its leadership.
He wants Nazi-infested Ukrainian military forces more heavily armed to the teeth with US heavy weapons than already.
He wants war, not peace. In Thursday testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee members, he said:
"I support the consideration of using offensive weapons to change the decision calculus on the ground (in Donbass) and to facilitate bringing our opponent to the table for a solution, a final solution" - serving US imperial interests exclusively.
He repeated tired old Big Lies - accusing Russia of using "every tool to their great advantage, including the military tool."
He prioritizes deterring nonexistent "Russian aggression." America's European Command needs more military assets, he stressed - more troops, heavy weapons and intelligence to meet (fabricated) security challenges.
Fact: America's only enemies are ones it invents.
Fact: The whole world knows Russia threatens no one. 
Fact: It's one of the world's leading peace and stability proponents.
Fact: It's done more for European peace than all other nations combined.
Fact: No nation in world history menaces humanity more than America.
Fact: Its rage for endless wars of aggression puts its survival up for grabs.
"There are critical gaps in our collection and analysis," Breedlove blustered. "Some Russian military exercises have caught us by surprise."
False! Satellite and human intelligence provide loads of daily information Breedlove didn't explain. 
He wants America's European military might enhanced to provoke Russia more than already. He wants WW III.
He claims "(g)etting this right requires more (surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance), high-powered analytical support, and appropriate intelligence sharing with allies and partners."
He wants full-scale mobilization for war. He ludicrously claimed his command is undersized to meet the threat of "a revanchist Russia," (US recruited/supported) IS terrorists, and instability across North Africa and the Middle East on NATO's doorstep.
"Our forces are not sized for any of those three challenges," Breedlove blustered.
Neocon Senator John McCain agreed saying "(a)s Russia builds up, America draws down."
False! Since Soviet Russia's dissolution, US military expenditures grew exponentially. It matches or exceeds what the rest of the world spends in total, including:
  • maintaining over 1,000 bases worldwide in over 150 countries; 

  • direct expenditures for endless wars of aggression;

  • militarizing America's homeland against its own citizens; 

  • huge black budgets;

  • enormous funding add-ons on request;

  • cyberwar expenditures;

  • space activities related to war-making; and

  • virtual carte blanche authority to intervene militarily anywhere on planet earth or in space preemptively any time for any reason.

Breedlove wants direct confrontation with Russia. "Our forward presence is the bedrock of our ability to reassure allies, deter real and potential adversaries, and to be postured to act in a timely manner should deterrence fail" - code language for his lust for war.
He lied claiming Moscow continues arming Donbass self-defense forces in preparation for war, saying:
"Russian forces used the opportunities presented by the recent lull in fighting to reset and reposition while protecting their gains." 
"Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive."
Fact: Not a shred of evidence suggests Russian direct or indirect involvement in Obama's naked aggression on Donbass.
Fact: Throughout over a year of intense and low-level war, it's gone all-out to resolve things diplomatically.
Fact: Washington's rage for war makes peace and stability impossible.
Fact: Lunatics in high places, like Breedlove, threaten humanity's survival.
State Department officials lied claiming Donbass freedom fighters are a virtual part of Russia's military. 
They refer to "combined Russian-separatist forces." They blame Moscow for Obama's naked aggression - using Kiev proxies to do his dirty work.
McCain is a longtime Washington lunatic fringe loose cannon. "Nothing we have done has succeeded in deterring Putin's aggression (or) halt(ed) his slow-motion annexation of eastern Ukraine," he blustered.
Truth is polar opposite. McCain wants Kiev armed to the teeth "to defend" itself - code language for wanting Russia provoked belligerently, goaded to respond militarily to give NATO a reason to intervene aggressively.
Breedlove claims the Alliance must "strengthen (its) deterrence. We all know that Putin responds to strength and sees opportunities in weakness."
Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Big Lies bury hard truths. Breedlove's agenda risks potentially humanity ending nuclear war against Russia.
So does Obama's - claiming nonexistent "Russian aggression," the tired old Big Lie endlessly repeated.
Again he outrageously compared nonexistent Russian aggression to "ISIL" and "Ebola" as "threat(s) to the world" in a joint Tuesday press conference with militant Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Saying "(w)e are two global partners that stand together for security and human dignity around the world -  opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, providing relief to innocent civilians threatened by ISIL, combating Ebola and promoting global health, and now offering help to the people of Nepal, who are in our prayers today."
Obama and likeminded lunatics in Washington care only about ruling class monied interests.
They don't give a damn about ordinary people anywhere. Big Lies dot their rhetoric.
Endless wars of aggression reflect official policy. Victims are blamed for America's high crimes.
Seventy years after WW II Victory in Europe, the only lesson learned was none at all. 
Lunatics in Washington and gunslinger generals like Breedlove may be planning WW III as this is written.
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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