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Congress Should Leave Alice Alone

eff.org - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 02:03
Overturning the Supreme Court Decision Would Allow Abstract Patents to Hurt innovation

One of the most important cases to cut back on the availability of vague, abstract patents was the 2014 decision Alice v. CLS Bank. In Alice, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the long-standing law that patents could not be granted on "laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas." The decision reinvigorated the use of 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate abstract patents based on the fact that they claim unpatentable subject matter.

Alice was a watershed moment. In the decades before Alice, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit—the court that hears all patent appeals—had consistently expanded the scope of patentable subject matter. The case law was to the point that it seemed that so long as something was done "automatically," anything could be patented, including business methods, investment strategies, and patenting itself.

Since Alice, lower courts have routinely invalidated some of the worst abstract and vague patents. We've highlighted many of these abstract patents in our Stupid Patent of the Month series. There was also the patent on a "picture menu" that was used to sue over 70 companies. And the patent on using labels to store information in a data structure that, on being invalidated as abstract, ended an astonishing 168 cases.

Recently, we've heard that certain patent owners are lobbying Congress to modify 35 U.S.C. § 101 and legislatively overrule Alice. Many of these advocates like to claim that the software industry and innovation have been seriously harmed by Alice. But what has really happened?

Currently, five of the top 10 companies by market capitalization are information technology focused, a significant shift from ten years ago when only Microsoft made the cut. Tesla, who famously announced they were abandoning patents, is now the highest valued U.S. car maker. The 2017 Silicon Valley Report from Joint Venture Silicon Valley noted “seven straight years of economic expansion” in the Bay Area, a region known for its innovation.

Smaller innovators are also going strong. The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity shows a sharp increase in activity between 2014, the year Alice was decided, and 2016. Employment in the innovation and information products field in Silicon Valley grew by 5.2% between 2015 and 2016, more than any other category, and venture capital investment remains strong. Thus if Alice were in fact "decimating" the industry as one judge on the Federal Circuit predicted, there is little evidence of it. To be clear, this isn’t to say that Alice is the only reason the industry is thriving, but it is a reminder that software patents and the software industry are not the same thing.

Not only do current trends in the industry show that Alice did not harm the technology sector, but past trends confirm it. When the Federal Circuit dramatically expanded the scope of patentable subject matter, first in 1994 and again in 1998, there is no indication the shift provided additional stimulus to the already growing economy. Indeed, there is evidence that patenting has little effect on innovation. A 2014 Congressional Budget Office report noted that "the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation," and in fact, "the proliferation of low-quality patents" were working to prevent small innovators from easily entering the market.

Alice has not harmed the technology industry and the argument for overturning it just isn't based in fact. If anything the evidence shows abstract patents do more to harm the technology industry than help it. Alice is working to rid the system of vague and overbroad abstract patents, without any serious negative effect on the technology sector, and should remain the law. 

 

 

Categories: Aggregated News

Putin/Merkel Meeting

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:33
Putin/Merkel Meeting
by Stephen Lendman
At a time of US responsibility for dismal East/West relations, Angela Merkel will meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday for the first time in two years.
According to the Kremlin press service, both leaders will discuss “key international problems, including the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, and the implementation of the Minsk agreements aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis,” along with the current state and prospects for improving dismal bilateral relations, notably on trade.
Things were further strained after Germany’s Bundestag was cyberattacked in late April 2015, falsely blamed on Moscow.
Hostility toward Russia remains intense in America and Europe, including a steady stream of anti-Russia disinformation.
Ahead of Merkel’s trip, NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence director Janis Sarts said Germany anchors the EU, falsely adding “Moscow equates a strong Europe with a weakening of Russia’s position and that is the reason for” the cyberattack.
Moscow had nothing to do with it. Nor is it interfering in upcoming French and later in the year German elections. Sarts lied claiming Russia wants Ukrainian territory annexed.
Russia wants friendly, cooperative relations with all nations, confrontations avoided, ongoing wars resolved diplomatically.
Since Washington’s 2014 coup in Kiev replaced democratic governance with illegitimate putschists, US, German and other Western officials said sanctions on Russia won’t be lifted until it hands over its sovereign Crimean territory to Ukraine and complies with Minsk conflict resolution terms.
Russia and Donbass freedom fighters alone fully observe Minsk. Kiev flagrantly breaches it. The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol won’t be handed over to Ukraine or any other country.
Adversarial East/West relations remain in place because Washington wants it this way. Putin’s meeting with Merkel won’t change things, including both leaders sharply disagreeing on Syria - Germany in lockstep with US regime change objectives, Russia respecting the Syrian Arab Republic’s sovereign independence.
The best case scenario for the Putin/Merkel meeting is easing tensions, short of a badly needed thaw. Expect no major breakthroughs - nor from a Tuesday Putin/Trump phone conversation, scheduled for 7:30PM Moscow time, according to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Both leaders spoke several times before. No improvement in bilateral relations followed, nor is it likely from Tuesday’s conversation.
Trump is a captive of America’s deep state, continuing longstanding deplorable domestic and geopolitical policies - including maintaining adversarial relations toward Russia and all other sovereign independent nations.
Prospects for improving things on his watch are virtually nil. His first 100 days in office revealed the disturbing measure of the man - a warrior, not a peacemaker, a captive of Wall Street and other predatory corporate interests, not a leader serving all Americans equitably.
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: How the 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.

Upcoming Erdogan Meetings with Putin and Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:19
Upcoming Erdogan Meetings with Putin and Trump
by Stephen Lendman
After consolidating dictatorial powers by a manipulated referendum, a process OSCE observers said “fell short” of international standards, citing numerous irregularities, Erdogan will meet with Vladimir Putin Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, followed by a May 16-17 meeting with Trump in Washington.
He’s part of the geopolitical landscape problem, not the solution - waging war on Kurds at home and abroad, wanting northern Syria and Iraq annexed, pretending to want conflict resolution.
His belligerence and despotic rule belie his duplicitous rhetoric. According to Turkey’s deputy director for Syria policy Mustafa Yurdakul, he and Putin “will discuss, among other issues, the strengthening of the ceasefire regime, the situation with prisoners and issues of mine clearance.”
Turkish troops invaded northern Syria last August. Erdogan talks peace while waging war.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he and Putin will discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria, offering no further elaboration.
Years of on-and-off peace talks since 2012 produced no resolution, current ones so far achieving no breakthroughs because Washington wants endless war and regime change.
On May 15, Erdogan will meet with Xi Jinping in Beijing. “The date has been fixed,” he said. “I will be traveling to China and (then) to the United States,” adding he hopes his meeting with Trump “will lay the foundation for stronger cooperation.”
He wants US support for Kurdish YPG fighters ended, his top priority. He’ll press for Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s extradition to Turkey, falsely accusing him of being behind last July’s failed coup attempt.
Both leaders spoke several times by phone since late January. Trump congratulated Erdogan on his dubious referendum triumph, sharply diverging from EU criticism. The State Department cited “observed (vote-counting) irregularities.” 
Another contentious issue is unknown numbers of US troops and armored vehicles deployed along the Syrian/Turkish border - carrying out patrols and reconnaissance flights.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed the deployment - without explaining US forces in Syria support anti-government terrorists.
Trump escalated Obama’s war. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan denounced continued aggression, saying it complicates conflict resolution efforts.
Prospects for positive results from continuing Geneva and Astana, Kazakhstan talks are dim because Washington wants endless war and regime change.
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: How the 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.

The NYT Joins the Fake News Chorus Accusing Russia of French Election Meddling

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:07
The NYT Joins the Fake News Chorus Accusing Russia of French Election Meddling
by Stephen Lendman
No evidence suggests Russian interference with US, French or other elections. Reality doesn’t stand in the way of false accusations - part of deplorable Russia bashing.
The NYT supports virtually every tinpot despot Washington considers a valued ally, while deploring independent democrats it opposes.
Headlining “Meddling in the French Election,” Times editors quoted Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr’s Big Lie, claiming Russia is “actively involved in the French elections” - no evidence offered. None exists.
Times editors bashed Le Pen for meeting with Putin in Moscow last month. She responsibly wants improved relations - anathema to most Western politicians and media scoundrels like The Times.
It supports establishment favorite Macron. He falsely accused RT International and Sputnik News of reporting fake news about him - truth-telling about the French election not going down well with his campaign.
The Times: “Russian disinformation (sic) get(s) recycled on social media…If (Moscow) is…conducting hacking operations to affect the outcome of the French election, (its) authorities have every right to take strong measures…And social media companies should take steps to fact-check dubious content.
Fact: As usual, The Times has things upside down - calling truth-telling “disinformation,” while fake news it and other media scoundrels feature is considered accurate reporting.
Fact: False accusations of Russian election meddling were repeatedly debunked. None occurred in America, France or anywhere else. The absence of credible evidence is proof positive.
The Times: “(T)he best defense against Russian meddling is to expose it for what it is.”
Fact: The Times keeps beating a dead horse. It’s maliciously anti-Russia, anti-everything and everyone challenging US imperial lawlessness.
The best way to stay uninformed and misinformed is by following its reports daily, along with other media scoundrels - paid to lie, not accurately explain what everyone needs to know on issues mattering most.
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: How the 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.

Limitations of ISP Data Pollution Tools

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 09:19

Republicans in Congress recently voted to repeal the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. As a result, your Internet provider may be able to sell sensitive information like your browsing history or app usage to advertisers, insurance companies, and more, all without your consent. In response, Internet users have been asking what they can do to protect their own data from this creepy, non-consensual tracking by Internet providers—for example, directing their Internet traffic through a VPN or Tor. One idea to combat this that’s recently gotten a lot of traction among privacy-conscious users is data pollution tools: software that fills your browsing history with visits to random websites in order to add “noise” to the browsing data that your Internet provider is collecting.

One of the goals of this post is to dispel misconceptions about these tools regarding problems users may think they solve.

We’ve seen this idea suggested several times, and we’ve received multiple questions about how effective it would be and whether or not it protects your privacy, so we wanted to provide our thoughts. Before we begin, however, we want to note that several seasoned security professionals have already weighed in on the effectiveness and risks involved in using these tools.

While we want to be optimistic and encourage more user-friendly technology, it’s important to evaluate new tools with caution, especially when the stakes are high. Additionally, one of the goals of this post is to dispel misconceptions about these tools regarding problems users may think they solve.

Limitations of ISP Data Pollution Tools

After reviewing these sorts of tools, we’ve come to the conclusion that in their current form, these tools are not privacy-enhancing technologies, meaning that they don’t actually help protect users’ sensitive information.

To see why, let’s imagine two possible scenarios that could occur if your browsing history were somehow leaked.

First, imagine the tool visited a website you don’t want to be associated with. Many data pollution tools try to prevent this by blacklisting certain potentially inappropriate words or websites (or only searching on whitelisted websites) and relying on Google’s SafeSearch feature. However, even with these protections in place, the algorithm could still visit a website that might not be embarrassing for everyone, but could be embarrassing for you (say, a visit to an employment website when you haven’t told your employer you’re thinking of leaving). In this case, it might be difficult to prove it was the automated tool and not you who generated that traffic.

Second, sensitive data is still sensitive even when surrounded by noise. Imagine that your leaked browsing history showed a pattern of visits to websites about a certain health condition. It would be very hard to claim that it was the automated tool that generated that sort of traffic when it was in fact you.

It’s reasonable to assume that whoever is analyzing this data will put some effort into filtering out noise when looking for trends—after all, this is a standard industry-wide practice when doing data analysis on large data sets. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the data analysis will always beat the noise generation, but it’s still an important factor to consider. Likewise, layering noise onto a prominent pattern will not make that pattern any less prominent. Additionally, your Internet provider may already have years of data about your browsing habits from which it can extrapolate to help with its noise-filtering efforts.

Even if these specific problems were solved, we would still be reluctant to say that data pollution software could successfully protect your privacy. That’s because this kind of traffic analysis is an active area of research, and there aren’t any well-tested large scale models to show that these techniques work yet.

In other words, there are currently too many limitations and too many unknowns to be able to confirm that data pollution is an effective strategy at protecting one’s privacy. We’d love to eventually be proven wrong, but for now, we simply cannot recommend these tools as an effective method for protecting your privacy.

Changing Internet Provider Behavior is a Worthy Goal, but Your Energy is Better Spent Calling Congress

Data pollution tools aren’t likely to succeed at their other primary goal besides protecting privacy: convincing Internet providers to stop mining our data to sell targeted ads. The theory here is that if enough people used these tools, then the vast majority of browsing data Internet providers collected would be inaccurate. Inaccurate data is worthless for targeting ads, so there would no longer be any monetary incentive for Internet providers to try to sell targeted ads—and thus no incentive to keep collecting browsing data in the first place.

Unfortunately, a huge fraction of customers would have to be using data pollution tools for them to have an impact on major Internet providers’ bottom lines. And while it's wonderful to imagine the majority of Internet users up in arms and installing one of these projects, it'd be as useful (if not more so) for all these users to call their lawmakers directly and convince them to pass privacy-protecting legislation instead. In fact, it would probably take far fewer people to get Congress to change its mind than it would to affect a large Internet provider’s bottom line.

Culture Jamming for the Web

With all of that said, these tools could potentially be effective at one thing: confusing your Internet provider’s ad-targeting algorithms and making the ads they show you less relevant. If this sort of culture jamming appeals to you, then these tools could help you accomplish that. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to rely on other techniques to protect your privacy from your Internet provider, and that to really achieve the sort of change we need, we also need to take the time to talk to our lawmakers and make our voices heard directly. Only through a combination of activism, technology, and legislation will we truly be able to protect our privacy online.

Categories: Aggregated News

What Don’t You Want the NSA to Know About You?

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 08:38

For years, U.S. government surveillance of innocent Americans has been a topic of heated debate, especially for those in the tech community.

With Congress gearing up for a fight over the 2017 reauthorization of a surveillance authority that lets the NSA spy on innocent Americans without a warrant—Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act—that debate is sure to rage on in the coming months.

So we sent reporter David Spark to the RSA Conference in San Francisco, California in February to ask one simple question: What don’t you want the NSA to know about you?

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The answers spanned the spectrum, from emails, to phone calls, to web browsing records, to financial information, to information about individuals’ children, to nothing.

Some got philosophical. “Everyone says, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ and that’s not the point,” one attendee told us. “The point is that I want to control what people know about me.”

Others turned the question on its head, asking instead why the NSA is conducting surveillance on Americans. “I don’t think their charter is to spy on Americans, so why are they?” one asked.

And some got blunt. One attendee said he already assumes the NSA knows a lot about him already. “It scares me and offends me,” he said.

If the warrantless spying on Americans scares and offends you, contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to pull the plug on Section 702 surveillance. And watch the video to see other RSA Conference attendees’ responses.

Special thanks to David Spark (@dspark) and Spark Media Solutions for their support and production of this video. The background music heard at the end—the song Hydrated—is licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 by Kronstudios. EFF original work (i.e., every thing but the background music heard at the end) is licensed CC BY 4.0.

Categories: Aggregated News

Courts Must Allow Online Platforms to Defend Their Users' Free Speech Rights, EFF Tells Court

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 08:13

Online platforms must be allowed to assert their anonymous users’ First Amendment rights in court, EFF argued in a brief filed Monday in a California appellate court.

The case, Yelp v. Superior Court, concerns whether online review website Yelp has the legal right to appear in court and make arguments on behalf of its users.

Courts across the country have increasingly recognized that online platforms do have the right to argue for their users’ free speech rights, particularly when private litigants or government officials seek to learn the speakers’ identities.

A California trial court, however, ruled in December 2016 that Yelp could not assert a user’s First Amendment rights after the platform received a subpoena seeking the identity of a Yelp user that a plaintiff alleged had defamed him and his business.

But as EFF’s brief [.pdf] argues, online platforms have both a legal right and an important role to play in asserting their users’ free speech rights.

Besides anonymous speakers asserting their own rights to directly challenge the legal demands to unmask them, online platforms are increasingly asserting their users’ rights in court. Platforms assert their users’ rights for a variety of reasons, including deterring frivolous efforts to unmask speakers and upholding their own platforms’ views on the importance of free speech. They also seek to make their platforms hospitable to important speech that may only be offered under the veil of anonymity. Simply put, many online platforms recognize that a key to maintaining the robust forum their users rely upon requires having their users’ backs.

The trial court’s ruling is dangerous, EFF argues, because it “threatens to undermine online platforms’ standing to assert their users’ First Amendment rights and thereby erode the ability for the Internet to serve as a forum for anonymous speakers.”

If platforms do not have a legal right to stand up for their users, “defense of these vexatious requests will fall solely to users themselves, many of whom may not know their rights or may otherwise not be in a position to fight for them,” EFF’s brief argues.

Categories: Aggregated News

McMaster Threatens North Korea

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 04:54
McMaster Threatens North Korea
by Stephen Lendman
Trump, Tillerson and now National Security Advisor McMaster threatened war on North Korea - madness if Washington launches it.
The USS Carl Vinson strike group is conducting military exercises with South Korean and Japanese warships in international waters off the Korean peninsula - a reckless provocation Pyongyang believes is preparation for war.
Given Trump’s rage for waging them, it’s justified in fearing possible US aggression. Last week, Tillerson said “(d)iplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.”
No DPRK aggression occurred any time throughout its history. No evidence suggests it plans any now or ahead.
Tillerson and other US officials represent Washington’s rage for unchallenged global dominance - color revolutions and naked aggression its strategies of choice.
Last week, Trump said “we’re taking a strong message to North Korea that we will not tolerate reckless, unsafe threats to the peace and stability to our (sic) region.”
America considers all parts of the its own, how imperial powers think and act.
On Sunday, McMaster threatened North Korea, saying America is “prepared” to take military action. He lied calling the country “a grave threat to the United States, our great allies in the region South Korea and Japan, but also China and others.”
“(I)t’s important…to confront this regime,” he blustered. Trump “made it clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or another” - including “military operations if necessary.”
On Saturday, Trump said he won’t announce his moves in advance. “It’s a chess game. I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is,” he said.
He delegated militarism and warmaking to hawkish generals. War on North Korea would gravely harm the entire region.
Possible nuclear confrontation could follow a US attack, the ultimate nightmarish scenario.
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: How the 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.

Chinese Government and Hollywood Launch Snoop-and-Censor Copyright Filter

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 04:35

Two weeks ago the Copyright Society of China (also known as the China Copyright Association) launched its new 12426 Copyright Monitoring Center, which is dedicated to scanning the Chinese Internet for evidence of copyright infringement. This frightening panopticon is said to be able to monitor video, music and images found on "mainstream audio and video sites and graphic portals, small and medium vertical websites, community platforms, cloud and P2P sites, SmartTV, external set-top boxes, aggregation apps, and so on."

When it finds content that matches material submitted to it by a copyright holder, the Center provides them with a streamlined notification and takedown machine, from the issuance of warning notices through to the provision of mediation services. The Center's technology service provider also provides platforms with filtering technology that can allow infringing materials to be blocked from upload or download to begin with, obviating the need for a separate takedown procedure.

The Copyright Society of China, which instituted the 12426 initiative, is formally a private association, and lists amongst the venture's partners American media companies such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. On the other hand, the Society is headed by a representative of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and includes within its mission "to provide technical support for the government to carry out network copyright supervision according to law."

The 12426 service utilizes proprietary commercial technology for its copyright monitoring, and much of the same technology is used by Chinese Internet companies for complying with Chinese government mandates for political censorship. For example, earlier this month it came to light that the Chinese government, at least at a provincial level and possibly at a national level, requires every provider of non-residential public Wifi hotspots to monitor and record their users' activity. This is in addition to the well-documented surveillance and censorship of Chinese online platforms such as Weibo and WeChat.

Copyright Surveillance and Censorship Closer to Home

Although this stifling surveillance machine is a human rights crisis in its own right for China's 720 million Internet users, it also provides a cautionary tale for the West, where copyright holder lobbyists are advocating for very similar filtering and surveillance mechanisms to be made mandatory. In that sense, China's copyright surveillance machine of today may warn of the European or American Internet of tomorrow.

For example, it is thanks to the copyright industry that German Wifi network operators are required to password-protect their networks to prevent them being used by anonymous users (who might infringe copyright). And in Europe right now, a current proposal would require user content platforms to filter uploads for material that copyright holders claim to be infringing.

This European proposal would put into place exactly the same kind of filtering that China's copyright surveillance industry provides today, repurposing technologies that the authoritarian regime also uses for the repression of political dissent. And this kind of repurposing goes both ways—technologies and legal processes developed in the first instance for copyright enforcement are also misused for political censorship and repression.

Another uncomfortable similarity between the Chinese Internet censorship regime and developments in the West is the close intermingling of public and private initiatives. Just as the Chinese Community Party sits at the head of the Copyright Society of China, so too the heavy hand of government can be found behind many notionally self-regulatory industry schemes from North America and Europe that aim to address copyright infringement. These government-led arrangements, that we call Shadow Regulation, are notoriously lacking in transparency, accountability, and user participation. The above mentioned European proposal, which pushes platforms and copyright owners into "voluntary" agreements concerning upload filtering, is a textbook case in point.

The announcement of China's government-linked 12426 Copyright Monitoring Center is absolutely chilling. It is just as chilling that the governments of the United States and Europe are being lobbied by copyright holders to follow China's lead. Although this call is being heard on both sides of the Atlantic, it has gained the most ground in Europe, where it needs to be urgently stopped in its tracks. Europeans can learn more and speak out against these draconian censorship demands at the Save the Meme campaign website.

Categories: Aggregated News

Post-TPP Special 301 Report Shows How Little Has Changed

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 03:00

Last Friday the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2017 edition of its Special 301 Report [PDF], which the USTR issues each year to "name and shame" other countries that the U.S. claims should be doing more to protect and enforce their copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Most of these demands exceed those countries' legal obligations, which makes the Special 301 Report an instrument of political rhetoric, rather than a document with any international legal status.

Last year's Special 301 Report included 45 references to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was at the time soon expected to become the jewel in the USTR's crown. This year, following the TPP's humiliating defeat, it is not mentioned in the Special 301 Report even once. Indeed, not only has the TPP been expunged from the text as if it never happened at all, but the USTR has also finally ceased touting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), another dead IP treaty that it had nonetheless included as a supposed global standard in its previous Special 301 Reports.

Instead, the USTR reports on its work at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has opened up as a possible new front for the USTR to push former TPP standards. The Special 301 Report scolds certain countries for "server localization mandates, cross-border data flow restrictions, [and] programs to support only local data hosting firms," all of which were concerns previously addressed by the TPP, and now proposed for resolution at the WTO. Whether the WTO has the appetite to address such issues, however, remains to be seen; we'll know more following its Ministerial Conference at Buenos Aires in December this year.

Other than the omission of the TPP shibboleth, it's surprising how little else has changed in this year's Special 301 Report compared to last year's. In fact, this is the first time ever that the exact same 11 countries have been nominated for the Priority Watch List as last year, along with the exact same list of 23 countries for the regular Watch List. The topics on copyright that are treated in the Special 301 Report are also a repetition of last year, including complaints about stream ripping, mod chips, and media players that are configured to access infringing streams. China, in particular, is singled out for criticism in this regard:

China remains a leading source and exporter of systems that facilitate copyright piracy, including websites containing or facilitating access to unlicensed content, and illicit streaming devices configured with apps to facilitate access to such websites. These systems also include devices and methods that facilitate the circumvention of technological protection measures, which enable the delivery of services via the cloud and protect video games and other licensed content.

In addition to this, the USTR continues to complain about countries that fail to adequately protect trademarks used in domain names, and India in particular is criticized for "the issuance of problematic guidelines that appear to restrict the patentability of computer implemented inventions."

None of these complaints have any legal basis. The technologies mentioned in the paragraph about China all have substantial non-infringing uses, such as the use of circumvention tools for backup, archival, compatibility, and repair. The question of how and to what extent trademarks should be protected in domain names is a question for multi-stakeholder bodies such as ICANN and its national-level equivalents, not for governmental horse-trading. And India's position on computer implemented inventions (which prohibit computer software from being patented per se, but allow software in combination with new hardware to be patented) is broadly in line with similar policies held in Europe and elsewhere.

Then again, nobody in the know ever read the Special 301 Report expecting it to be legally accurate. Rather, it's just a document used to threaten other countries into submission to unilateral U.S. demands. And with the demise of the TPP, those threats are now emptier than ever before.

Categories: Aggregated News

WaPo Big Lies About Russian Meddling in Western Elections

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 02:31
WaPo Big Lies About Russian Meddling in Western Elections
by Stephen Lendman
The neocon Washington Post is a CIA house organ. Owner Jeff Bezos is bought, paid for and owned by dark forces running America.
He got a $600 million CIA contract for much more than Amazon Web Services. He publishes what his CIA masters dictate - all fake news all the time on issues mattering most.
In November 2013, he said “(w)e look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.” He has a longstanding history of currying favors from Washington’s national security establishment.
He’s an enemy of fundamental freedoms and responsible journalism, collaborating with rogue US government elements, betraying WaPo readers.
On April 30, its editors lied, claiming “(t)he Kremlin turns its electoral meddling to Western Europe,” saying:
“(N)ormal…Russian conduct on the international stage includes tampering with elections in Western democracies to boost candidates the Kremlin believes likely to do its bidding and to harass those who won’t.” 
“Having done exactly that in the 2016 US elections, President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence agencies are now directing their subterfuge at Europe, including the continent’s foremost economic powers: Germany and France.”
Fact: FALSE ON ALL COUNTS! No Russian US election meddling occurred. No evidence suggests otherwise - just baseless propaganda claims.
Fact: No evidence suggests Russian interference in any elections, at home or abroad - not in Germany, France, elsewhere in Europe or anywhere else. 
Fact: Indisputable evidence shows consistent US election meddling in numerous countries worldwide, rigging its own at the federal, state and local levels.
WaPo: “(A) relentless series of cyberattacks originating in Moscow, in all probability directed by Russian military intelligence” targeted (France’s) Macron and (Germany’s) Merkel, along with “the Foreign and Defense ministries of Denmark…”
Fact: WaPo cited no evidence backing its spurious claims because there is none. Anti-Russian disinformation substituted for truth-telling.
WaPo: “(T)he Kremlin…succeeded in corrupting America’s politics last year, is now intent on hijacking elections, democracy’s most basic feature, in other key Western nations.”
Fact: False on all counts. Democracy in America and European countries is pure fantasy. Growing tyranny at home and in other Western countries continues destroying fundamental freedoms.
WaPo: “Moscow’s tactics are designed to favor…Le Pen” in France. “Her policies would weaken Europe and drive a wedge among Western democracies,” Putin’s aim.
Fact: False like other spurious WaPo claims! Le Pen wants French sovereignty restored, returned to the Elysee Palace from Brussels, Berlin and Washington.
Fact: She wants France freed from the euro straightjacket, regaining control over its monetary and fiscal policies.
Fact: She wants out of US-dominated NATO.
Fact: She supports rights for workers, women and France’s most disadvantaged.
Fact: She opposes dirty business as usual Macron represents - monied interests over popular ones.
Fact: She wants France’s hugely debauched system changed - why oligarchs, aristocrats, corrupt politicians, and media scoundrels oppose her in France, elsewhere in Europe and America.
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: How the 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.

UNESCO Resolution on Occupied Palestine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 02:16
UNESCO Resolution on Occupied Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
A scheduled May 2 executive board vote is expected to adopt it, coinciding with Israel’s so-called independence day - the Palestinian Nakba.
UNESCO says its resolution aims to safeguard “the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem.”
It rightfully calls Israeli control of Jerusalem “illegal” and “null and void” - an international city recognized by no nations as its capital.
An unnamed Israeli official said UNESCO’s board “refuses to stop the politicization that undermines the states of the organization.”
“Contradicting the recommendation of UNESCO’s director-general and the promises and statements of various other leaders last year, UNESCO repeats its ritual of passing political anti-Israel resolutions that dispute any action Israel takes in Jerusalem, adopts previous resolutions that deny the Jewish link to the city, and recycles political condemnations against Israel regarding Gaza.”
An unnamed US official claimed “UNESCO is too often used as a vehicle by member states inclined to delegitimize the state of Israel.” 
“Although several of these anti-Israel resolutions are typically adopted biannually by UNESCO, over time they have become increasingly political in nature and now question Israel’s basic claim to historic sites.”
“These resolutions are counterproductive to the core work of UNESCO and do nothing to advance the goal we all share of a two-state solution.”
Fact: In 1948, Israel stole 78% of historic Palestine. In 1967, it took the rest.
Fact: Its occupation is illegal, its longstanding treatment of Palestinians ruthless. Its blockade of Gaza and wars at its discretion are high crimes against peace.
UNESCO’s resolution affirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.”
“(A)ll legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
In August 1980, Israel illegally declared “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
UNESCO’s resolution says it “regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law.” 
It criticizes Israel’s “refusal to implement the UNESCO request to the Director-General to appoint a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem.”
It “deplores the continuous Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, which harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel, students and humanitarian relief items.”
It calls “(t)he two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem…integral part(s) of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Israel and Washington oppose the resolution, expected to be adopted on Tuesday.
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: How the 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.

Hearing Wednesday: EFF Argues Against Massive Government Hacking in ‘Playpen’ Case

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 02:15
FBI Used One Warrant to Infiltrate Thousands of Computers

Boston – On Wednesday, May 3, at 9:30 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue that an FBI search warrant used to hack thousands of computers around the world was unconstitutional.

The hearing in U.S. v. Levin at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit stems from one of the many cases arising from a controversial investigation into “Playpen,” a child pornography website. The precedent set by the Playpen prosecutions is likely to impact the digital privacy rights of Internet users for years to come.

During the investigation, the FBI secretly seized the servers running the Playpen site and continued to operate them for two weeks. The bureau allowed thousands of images to be downloaded while distributing malware to website visitors. With that malware, the FBI hacked into over 8,000 devices in hundreds of countries across the globe—all on the basis of a single warrant.

However, because the government was running the Playpen site, it was already in possession of information about visitors and their computers. Rather than taking the necessary steps to obtain narrow search warrants, the FBI instead sought a single, general warrant to authorize its massive hacking operation, violating the Fourth Amendment. In Wednesday’s hearing, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mark Rumold will argue as amicus, urging the court to send a clear message that a vague search warrant is not enough to satisfy the privacy protections enshrined in the Constitution.

WHAT:
U.S. v. Levin

WHEN:
Wednesday, May 3
9:30 am

WHERE:
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way
Boston, MA 02210

For more information on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/playpen-cases-mass-hacking-us-law-enforcement

Contact:  MarkRumoldSenior Staff Attorneymark@eff.org
Categories: Aggregated News

Russia's Futile Outreach to Washington

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 21:59

Russia’s Futile Outreach to Washington
by Stephen Lendman
Russia knows Washington’s adversarial relations remain longstanding under Republicans or Democrats. Occasional more conciliatory-sounding rhetoric is subterfuge.
America’s deep state wants regime change, Russian sovereignty eliminated, the country transformed into another US vassal state, balkanized for easier control, its resources looted, its people ruthlessly exploited.
America is not Russia’s partner. Pretending otherwise won’t change things. So why does Moscow extend outreach overtures to a nation wanting its own destroyed in its current form?
Why does it pursue diplomatic niceties accomplishing nothing? Why does it waste time on what never worked before, and won’t now with neocons infesting Trump’s administration and Congress?
America doesn’t negotiate. It demands. It breaches virtually all treaties and agreements reached.  It can’t be trusted. It has interests, not allies, using other nations to further its imperial objectives.
Its sordid history shows it consistently says one thing and does another, never dealing with other nations honorably in good faith, forcing its will on them by pressure, bullying, color revolutions or naked aggression.
All nations failing to operate by Washington rules face its wrath, a deplorable situation heading for inevitable nuclear war if current madness remains unchanged.
Russia consistently deals with other countries in good faith - to a fault in trying to cooperate with Washington on Syria and other geopolitical issues.
On Saturday during a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov said “(w)e have many times heard” Jordanian King Abdullah II “say that interaction between Russia and the United States was vital for ensuring effective steps by the global community aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis.” 
“I would like to ensure you that we are ready for that and expect Washington to adopt the same approach. (I)t is important that all those fighting terrorism in Syria join their efforts.”
“I mean the Russian Aerospace Force and the US-led coalition…We know that IS militants are strong in southern Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra has also strengthened its capabilities.”
“We would like to exchange views on ways to eliminate this threat, ensure the ceasefire and launch an offensive on the terrorists’ positions.”
Fact: Lavrov knows Russia continues combating the scourge of terrorism America and its rogue allies support, including Jordan.
Fact: Like the Obama administration, neocon Trump officials want war and regime change in Syria, not peaceful conflict resolution and stability.
Fact: Hoping America will cooperate with Russia in combating terrorism is fantasy thinking - what hasn’t happened so far, what won’t ahead.
Fact: Geneva and Astana, Kazakhstan peace talks with US-supported terrorists accomplished nothing and won’t ahead. Five years of failed talks show the illusion of diplomatic conflict resolution as long as Washington and its rogue allies want endless war and regime change.
Fact: ISIS, al-Nusra and likeminded terrorist groups remain “strong” because of continued foreign support - by Washington, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other regional rogue states.
Endless war continues in Syria with no prospect for resolution any time soon.
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: How the 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.

Trump on His First 100 Days

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 21:50
Trump on His First Hundred Days
by Stephen Lendman
He took credit for what demands condemnation in a ghost-written Washington Post op-ed, addressing supporters in Harrisburg, PA, and Sunday on CBS News Face the Nation.  
Virtually nothing about his tenure warrants praise. His performance as president and commander-in-chief of America’s military has been dismal and hugely dangerous - world peace threatened on his watch.
The nation’s most vulnerable have an Enemy-in-Chief heading US governance in Washington. So do all sovereign independent nations - especially Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, along with Palestinians and Donbass freedom fighters.
Trump on CBS: “The relationship I have with China, it’s been already acclaimed as being something very special, something very different than we’ve ever had.”
Fact: His administration wants China used to serve US interests - on the North Korea issue and a futile attempt to split rock-solid Sino/Russian relations.
Fact: America has interests, not allies, an agenda to further its quest for unchallenged global dominance. Russia and China above all other nations stand in the way. Eventual confrontation with both ahead is likely.
Trump: “(W)e can’t allow” North Korea to have nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Fact: Given Trump’s rage for war, and his obsession with wanting America’s military to be more powerful than ever, US-instigated conflict on the Korean peninsula remains an ominous possibility.
Trump: “I have…no comment on” DPRK leader Kim Jong-un. “He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others…(W)e cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue.”
Fact: Kim and other Pyongyang officials want nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities as a deterrent against possible US aggression, not for preemptive war against any nation.
Trump: “I think we’ve done very well with foreign policy. I think we’ve done very, very well with relationships with other leaders. I think we’re doing great on trade deals.”
Fact: He escalated war in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, sent hundreds of US marines to Afghanistan, special forces to Somalia, soured relations with Russia, put Iran “on notice,” wants regime change in Venezuela, and threatens nuclear war on the Korean peninsula - abandoning his campaign pledge to be non-interventionist.
Fact: He reneged on his promise to make trade deals worker friendly. Instead of draining the swamp, he filled it to overflowing with neocon generals, billionaires, Wall Street officials, and other right-wing extremists. 
Fact: He supports terrorism instead of combating it. He’s pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-Big Oil, pro-other corporate favorites, anti-beneficial social change, and anti-protection of constitutional rights. He’s polar opposite what responsible leadership should be.
He called Obamacare “dead,” claims his far worse alternative plan will “help (his) supporters,” privileged ones and predatory industry giants only, not the vast majority of Americans paying more and getting less under Trumpcare if it’s enacted in a form still being debated by Republicans alone.
On changes to Medicare, he equivocated before, after being pressed, saying “I’m not going to touch it” - then saying “(t)here are certain provisions in Medicare that are horrible and abusive…So that kind of stuff, I will absolutely touch,” referring to unexplained “waste, fraud and abuse.”
Whatever waste et al exists in Medicare and most other government programs is pocket change compared to trillions of dollars of wasted, fraudulent, abusive Pentagon funding and spending. 
Trump wants tens of billions more dollars wasted on militarism and warmaking instead of responsibly slashing so-called defense spending.
In interviews, speeches and other remarks, he lathers praise on his deplorable domestic and foreign policies - benefitting privileged Americans exclusively, harming countless others worldwide.
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: How the 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.

Israel Commemorates Its Theft of Palestine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 21:38
Israel Commemorates Its Theft of Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
Israel is a warrior state, a serial aggressor, a regional and global menace - unaccountable for decades of high crimes against peace.
Its creation and existence cost countless Palestinian lives lost, hundreds of thousands imprisoned for political reasons, and daily illegal occupation viciousness.
On Sunday, Israel commemorated its annual Memorial Day, remembering its dead soldiers, ignoring the Palestinian Nakba, an unending catastrophe for its people.
“A cloud of sadness surrounds the State of Israel today and always envelops the families, the parents, the children, the widows, the spouses, the brothers and the sisters," Netanyahu ranted, ignoring the harm Israeli forces inflicted on Palestinians and other regional Arabs.
“Today we are marking the mutual responsibility and shared fate that binds all segments of the people with the bereaved family. That is the genuine and to a great extent the unique source of the State of Israel, of our strength, a unique source of strength,” Netanyahu added.
“We stand as a fortified wall facing our enemies. We do not demonstrate weakness. We do not allow our weapon to drop from our hands.” 
“We know that this is the only way for us to repel those plotting (against us), who refuse to become reconciled with our existence, and it is only this way that we will achieve peace with those of our neighbors who want peace. At the same time… we maintain our humanity.”
Fact: A “cloud of sadness surrounds” the victims of Israeli viciousness.
Fact: Israel’s only enemies are ones it invents, furthering its agenda to redraw the Middle East map, wanting all regional rivals eliminated.
Fact: No nations plot against Israel. None threaten its security and existence.
Fact: Israel prioritizes endless regional wars and instability. Peace is anathema to its ruthless agenda. 
Fact: As long as the US/Israeli axis exists, no one is safe anywhere.
While Israel remembers its lost soldiers, Palestinians mourn decades of horrors they committed, continuing daily.
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: How the 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.

North Korea Blasts Rogue State Israel

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 21:28
North Korea Blasts Rogue State Israel
by Stephen Lendman
Contrast the two countries. North Korea never attacked another nation throughout its history. In June 1950, it responded to South Korea’s aggression, Truman’s war.
Israel wages permanent war on Palestine, terror-bombs Syria and Lebanon at its discretion.
Which country poses a greater threat to world peace, stability and security? Which one is more likely to attack another nation? Which leadership is more recklessly dangerous?
The US/Israeli axis threatens humanity’s survival. Days earlier, Israel’s Arab-hating ultranationalist/fascist defense minister Avigdor Lieberman called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “madman,” heading a “crazy and radical group, undermining global stability” - the dubious dishonor applying to America and Israel.
Both countries are nuclear armed and dangerous. They each maintain banned chemical, biological, radiological and other terror weapons.
Lieberman ignored it, accusing Pyongyang of “cross(ing) (a) red line with its recent nuclear tests.” In response, the DPRK called Israel the “only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East under the patronage of the US.”
It said Lieberman’s comments reflected a “cynical ploy” to shift attention from responsible criticism of its illegal occupation, along with its crimes of war and against humanity.
North Korea “fully support(s) the struggle of the Palestinian people (in their determination to establish) an independent state with Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.”
It promised a “thousand-fold punishment to whoever dares hurt the dignity of its supreme leadership. Israel would be well-advised to think twice about the consequences (of) its smear campaign against the DPRK.”
It called its “access to nuclear weapons…the legitimate exercise of its righteous right for self-defense to cope with the US provocative moves for aggression, and the DPRK’s nuclear force is the treasured sword of justice firmly defending peace on the Korean peninsula and in the region.” 
Lieberman accused Kim of supporting Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Israel and North Korea criticized each other before.
Former Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon blasted Lieberman for “prattling irresponsibly about North Korea,” calling him “the minister of talk.”
“And there’s no (responsible) prime minister to call his prattling and belligerent ministers to order,” he added.
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: How the 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.

Russia Restores Flight Safety Memorandum on Syria Air Operations

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 01:56
Russia Restores Flight Safety Memorandum with US on Syria Air Operations
by Stephen Lendman
According to Sputnik News, Russia restored the 2015 agreement, suspended after Trump’s April 7 aggression. 
He lawlessly OK’d the terror-bombing of Syria’s Shayrat air base - on the phony pretext of Assad allegedly authorizing the April 4 Khan Sheikhoun CW attack he had nothing to do with.
Citing Izvestia, Sputnik News said Russia acted at the request of Secretary of State Tillerson during his April 11 and 12 Moscow visit, meeting with Sergey Lavrov and Vladimir Putin.
Citing a Foreign Ministry source, Izvestia said the air safety agreement was restored on April 13 - a round-the-clock communication channel between the militaries of both countries to prevent possible aerial clashes or other incidents.
Interviewed on Radio Sputnik, RUDN University Center for Strategic Research and Prognosis director Nikita Danyuk believes restoration of the air safety agreement most likely indicates “the US will no longer make efforts to infringe upon the Syrian state.”
“(M)aintaining” hostile relations with Moscow over Syria “risk(s) exacerbating (an already deplorable) situation.”
Both countries have opposing agendas. Russia is committed to combating the scourge of terrorism Washington supports.
Bilateral trust is virtually nonexistent. Danyuk’s optimism isn’t supported by reality on the ground. US and Turkish troops illegally occupy northern Syria, supporting anti-government terrorists.
At the same time, Russia wants confrontation with Washington avoided. It’s continues going all-out for diplomatic conflict resolution - despite five years of failure, nothing in prospect suggesting what’s been out-of-reach so far is achievable. 
In mid-April, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would communicate with Washington on Syria within the air safety framework only “on condition that (US) unpredictable actions aren’t repeated.”
Washington wants regime change. Trump’s rage for war makes future US belligerence likely - in Syria, throughout the region and elsewhere, possibly on the Korean peninsula.
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: How the 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.

US Aegis Ashore Anti-Missile System Violates INF Treaty

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/05/2017 - 01:43
US Aegis Ashore Anti-Missile System Violates INF Treaty
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Washington’s Eastern European deployment a flagrant INF violation, saying:
“The United States has deployed Aegis Ashore anti-missile systems at its base in Romania, and plans…another such system in Poland.” 
“(They) incorporate vertical launch systems similar to Mk-41 universal systems that are capable of launching intermediate-range (Tomahawk) cruise missiles…”
For over two decades, Washington repeatedly breached INF mandates, continuing missile tests prohibited by the treaty. It’s boosting production and use of unmanned offensive vehicles, falling under its definition of ground-based cruise missiles.
“Notably, we have been pointing (out US) violations of the INF Treaty for 15 years. But there is no constructive reaction,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
“While implementing its anti-missile plans, the United States must be guided…by the generally recognized principle of inadmissibility of strengthening its own security at the expense of other states.” 
“Notably, Washington has repeatedly reiterated this principle in corresponding international formats” - falsely accusing Moscow of INF violations, ignoring its own.
Treaties it agrees to are for other countries to observe, not itself. In 2001, The Bush/Cheney administration irresponsibly withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
It pursued hostile development and deployment of its anti-missile system for offense, not defense. It “wrecked the pillars of the global strategic stability system,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry stressed.
Washington’s deployment of its missile-defense system “has adversely impacted the system of international security, dramatically complicated relations not only in the Euro-Atlantic but also in the Asia-Pacific region and turned into one of the most serious obstacles on the path of further gradual nuclear disarmament as it creates dangerous opportunities for the resumption of the nuclear arms race.”
“(A)n anti-missile umbrella may give rise to a calamitous illusion of invincibility and impunity and hence tempt hotheads in Washington into new dangerous unilateral steps on global and regional problems in bypassing of the United Nations Security Council and contrary to common sense, like…on April 7 when the United States delivered a missile strike…Syria.”
Washington “demonstrates no readiness for cooperation and reckoning with Russia’s concerns. (It) refused to even discuss its own guarantees that missile-defense systems that are being deployed in Europe are not aimed against Russia.”
Despite implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Washington remains unwilling to change policy on provocative deployment of missile defense systems.
Worldwide anti-missile deployments “are part of a very dangerous global project aimed at securing US overall overwhelming superiority to the prejudice of security interests of other states,” increasing instability instead of abating it, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stressed.
Further, Washington flagrantly breached the Treaty on Convention in Europe by expanding NATO east to Russia’s border, especially after pledging not to do it.
Treaties and other agreements America signs aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, given how it promises one thing and does another, time and again - proving the worthlessness of dealing with whatever regime is in power.
Washington wants Russia marginalized, weakened, destabilized, contained, isolated and controlled, its sovereign independence destroyed, the nation transformed into another US vassal state - its resources plundered, its people exploited, even if it risks nuclear war to achieve its objectives.
America and its rogue allies represent humanity’s greatest threat.
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: How the 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.

Trump's Op-Ed Big Lies

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 30/04/2017 - 21:52
Trump’s Op-Ed Big Lies
by Stephen Lendman
All politicians lie! Believe nothing they say! Rare exceptions prove the rule! Trump is America’s Liar-in-Chief - a billionaire businessman, now dirty politician!
In a Washington Post op-ed, commemorating his first 100 days in office, he lied claiming he kept promises made to Americans.
Trump: “One hundred days ago, I took the oath of office and made a pledge: We are not merely going to transfer political power from one party to another, but instead are going to transfer that power from Washington, DC, and give it back to the people…I kept that promise - and more.”
Fact: False! He broke every positive pledge made, let hawkish generals, billionaires, Wall Street and right-wing extremists run things - serving wealth, power and privilege exclusively at the expense of ordinary people he promised to serve equitably.
A same-day article covers his deplorable first 100 days in detail, comparing it to FDR’s historic comparable period.
Trump: “(W)e are giving the people their country back…(T)his government is working for the citizens of our country and no one else.”
Fact: False! Dirty business as usual continues - so far, worse than under his predecessors.
Trump: “We have opened the White House doors to listen, engage and act. We’ve invited in labor leaders, factory owners, police officers, farmers, veterans and Democrats, Republicans and independents.”
Fact: Public Citizen president Robert Weissman explained “there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government. Corporate interests” drive policy on “everything.” An “ethical vacuum” exists, “megascandals” surely coming - all this in just 100 days.
Trump: “The change began with the termination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a 12-nation pact that would have shipped millions more jobs to other countries.”
Fact: Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach blasted his trade agenda, saying it “could have come from any past pro-NAFTA (pro-TPP) administration.”
Trump: “(T)o bring back our jobs, we are going to pursue a complete renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).”
Fact: He reneged on abandoning NAFTA. Material leaked showing his new scheme is like the old one - favoring investors over consumers, ignoring offshoring jobs, maintaining NAFTA and TPP jobs-destroying rules.
Trump: “(W)e’ve undertaken the most far-reaching effort in history to remove job-killing regulations.”
Fact: His deregulation scheme aids maximum profit-making unrelated to jobs creation. It abandons consumer protections and ecosanity.
Trump: “…I’ve signed 29 pieces of legislation in total…”
Fact: He issued a blizzard of largely pro-business, racist, Islamophobic executive orders - no significant legislative achievement so far.
Trump: “We’ve canceled restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas and clean coal.”
Fact: He abandoned environmental safety for maximum industry profits. No “clean coal” exists - nor any other clean fossil or nuclear power source.
Fact: Renewable clean, green energy alone is the future - if humanity survives to enjoy it.
Trump: “What we’ve accomplished on immigration and criminal enforcement is nothing short of historic.”
Fact: He’s waging war on immigrants of color and Muslims. He’s made America more of a police state than already.
Trump: “(T)he first duty of government is to protect American citizens.”
Fact: In his first 100 days alone, he inflicted enormous harm on America’s most vulnerable - offering a bonanza for its rich and powerful.
Trump: “The Defense Department has begun to rebuild and restore our military readiness. We’ve reasserted American leadership by holding the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria accountable for its monstrous use of banned chemical weapons against helpless, innocent civilians.”
Fact: We wants tens of billions more dollars spent on militarism and warmaking at a time America’s only enemies are ones in invents.
Fact: No evidence suggests Assad used CWs any time during over six years of US proxy war, using ISIS and other terrorists as imperial foot soldiers - aided by Pentagon terror-bombing of vital infrastructure and government targets, massacring civilians.
Trump: We “restor(ed) our credibility with our friends and our deterrence with our foes.”
Fact: His rage for endless wars, possibly ahead with nuclear weapons, is humanity’s greatest threat.
Trump: “I delivered on one of my biggest promises, appointing and confirming a new justice to the Supreme Court who will be faithful to the US Constitution.”
Fact: Justice Neil Gorsuch is a right-wing extremist, Senate voting rules changed to confirm him.
Trump: “Thousands of new jobs are being re-shored back to America…”
Fact: Jobs creation remains largely low-pay, poor-or-no benefit service ones. Nearly one fourth of working age Americans are unemployed, most others way underemployed. The nation’s only growth industry is poverty. 
Trump: “We are proving that Buy and Hire American isn’t just a slogan…”
Fact: It’s a fabricated hoax. He’s making America great for its wealthy, powerful and privileged alone.
Trump: “The White House is once again the People’s House. And I will do everything in my power to be the People’s President - to faithfully, loyally and proudly champion the incredible citizens who love this nation and who call this God-blessed land their home.”
Fact: Throughout US history, the White House was never the people’s house - nor Congress, the courts or other institutions of government.
America is run by the people who own and control it - governance of, by and for its privileged few exclusively.
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: How the 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 

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