News feeds

Saturday Homs, Syria Terrorist Attack

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 26/02/2017 - 23:31
Saturday Homs, Syria Terrorist Attack
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, multiple suicide bombings killed dozens, injured many others in Homs, Syria during peace talks in Geneva with anti-government terrorist groups. Al-Nusra claimed responsibility, along with ISIS excluded from talks.
Head of Syria’s delegation in Geneva Bashar al-Jaafari said any Geneva participant failing to condemn Saturday’s attacks will be considered “accomplice(s) of terrorism, and we will deal with them accordingly.”
“(W)hat happened (was) a terrorist message…cast(ing) a shadow over Geneva…(not) just a military terrorist act, but also a political” one.”
“(T)his is the main reason that drives us to having the (issue) of fighting terrorism as a priority in our agenda for the Geneva talks.”
ISIS, Al-Nusra and their foreign sponsors want peace talks derailed, he stressed. The Homs bombings and similar incidents are “message(s) to Geneva from the patrons of terrorism.”
“We say to everybody ‘the message has been delivered,’ and that this crime will not go unnoticed.”
Geneva talks are in recess until Tuesday. It’s unclear if anything was accomplished since beginning on February 23. It’s doubtful any significant breakthroughs will be achieved.
So-called Saudi cobbled together High Negotiations Committee (HNC) members are terrorists, wanting Assad toppled, expressing hostility toward Iran.
Its delegation head Naser al-Hariri lied, claiming HNC delegates “condemn terrorism,” ignoring their support for imported death squads still actively committing gruesome atrocities.
Trump’s position on Syria is unclear. The State Department isn’t involved in Geneva talks, nor preceding ones in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Washington co-sponsored a Security Council Resolution on Syria, yet to be introduced, Russia promising a veto, falsely accusing Damascus of using chemical weapons, wanting tough new sanctions imposed.
Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley asked “(h)ow much longer is Russia going to continue to babysit and make excuses for the Syrian regime? People died because of this and the United States isn’t going to be quiet about it.”
Trump is letting hawks like Haley and other administration officials speak for him on foreign policy. 
It’s time for him to address it directly - on Syria, Ukraine, China, Iran, cooperation with Russia in combating terrorism or lack of it, along with other major geopolitical issues.
On February 28, he’ll deliver his first State of the Union address before a joint congressional session, attended by cabinet and diplomatic corp members, Supreme Court justices, the Joint Chiefs and invited guests.
Last August on the stump, he discussed foreign policy, vowing to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism” - without explaining its US creation and support at least since the 1980s in Afghanistan against Soviet Russia.
Will he use Tuesday’s SOTU address to explain where he stands as president on all key geopolitical issues?
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.

Venezuelan VP Refutes Spurious US Charges Against Him

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 26/02/2017 - 23:28
Venezuelan VP Refutes Spurious US Charges Against Him
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed outrageous US sanctions imposed on Venezuelan Executive Vice President Tareck El Aissami over fabricated drugs trafficking allegations.
Assets, if any, held in America were frozen under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. 
A Treasury Department statement lied, saying Aissami allegedly “facilitated shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, to include control over planes that leave from a Venezuelan air base, as well as control of drug routes through the ports in Venezuela.”
Pure rubbish! A malicious Big Lie, part of Washington’s continued war on Venezuelan sovereign independence.
Aissami denounced US accusations against him, calling Washington’s action “miserable and vile aggression,” followed by an open letter to America’s Treasury Department in The New York Times, costing $100,000 or more.
He denounced US Treasury sanctions as part of a longstanding effort “to prevent that the United States and Venezuela (from) restor(ing) their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect.”
It’s part of a scheme to replace Bolivarian fairness with predatory capitalist viciousness - to control its oil riches and exploit its people.
No evidence links Aissami to drugs trafficking. Just the opposite. Venezuela wages war on illicit drugs.
“You should be aware that when I headed the public security corps of my country, in 2008-2012, our fight against drug cartels achieved the greatest progress in our history and in the western hemisphere, both in terms of the transnational drug trafficking business and their logistics structures,” Aissami explained. 
“During those years, the Venezuelan anti-drug enforcement authorities under my leadership captured, arrested and brought 102 heads of criminal drug trafficking organizations not only to the Venezuelan justice but also to the justice of other countries where they were wanted.” 
“From these 102 captured drug lords, 21 were promptly deported to the USA and 36 to Colombia, in accordance with the requests made by the authorities of each country and in compliance with the international agreements on the fight against organized crime, facts formally acknowledged by the US and Colombianauthorities.”
Venezuela combats illicit drugs effectively. America has a long sordid history of working with drug cartels, notably through the CIA.
US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operations in Venezuela were “connect(ed) with the criminal drug organizations,” Aissami explained, calling trafficking in illicit drugs a “cross-border crime against humanity.”
He called fabricated Treasury Department accusations against him “a serious violation of (his) human rights and seriously damages (his) dignity and honor.” They were illegally imposed by the world’s leading pariah state bully.
He has no assets in America or any other country outside Venezuela for US authorities to freeze.
America’s so-called war on drugs made international trafficking cartels stronger than ever. 
Aissami proudly calls himself “Venezuelan citizen…a Bolivarian…and a Latin American,” supporting “independence, justice and freedom for which our liberators gave their lives…”
America is the world’s leading scourge, waging endless wars on humanity, seeking control over planet earth, its resources and people.
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.

Suspicious Killing of North Korean Leader's Half Brother

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 26/02/2017 - 04:26
Suspicious Killing of North Korean Leader’s Half Brother
by Stephen Lendman
Kim Jong-nam was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s paternal half brother.
On February 13, he was killed in Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur’s airport, the bizarre incident captured on security camera videotape for the whole world to see - an obvious red flag.
Malaysian authorities said he died from VX poisoning, a banned lethal nerve agent. At one time, he was considered heir apparent to his father, Kim Jong-il, later exiled in 2003 after falling out of favor with ruling authorities.
South Korea’s ruling party spokesperson called his killing a “naked example of Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror.” 
Media scoundrels blamed Pyongyang for his death. He’d been out of the country for around 14 years, posed no apparent threat to his half-brother or the government.
No information suggested he planned returning to challenge Kim Jong-un’s leadership. So why was he killed? 
Why an eruption of media reports about an obscure figure, away from the center of power in Pyongyang for years? Why now? Why publicly to be seen worldwide on videotape?
Who had motive and opportunity to kill him? If North Korean authorities wanted him eliminated, why did they wait so long? Why a public execution, making it easy for its detractors to automatically lay blame where it likely doesn’t belong.
Here’s what we know. North Korean senior representatives were preparing to come to New York to meet with former US officials, a chance for both sides to discuss differences diplomatically, hopefully leading to direct talks with Trump officials.
The State Department hadn’t yet approved visas, a positive development if arranged.
Reports indicate North Korea very much wanted the meeting to take place. Makes sense. It would indicate a modest thaw in hostile relations, a good thing if anything came of it.
So why would Pyongyang want to kill Kim Jong-nam at this potentially sensitive time, knowing it would be blamed for the incident, talks likely cancelled?
Sure enough, they’re off, Pyongyang accused of killing Kim, even though it seems implausible they planned and carried out the incident, using agents in Malaysia to act as proxies.
Reports indicate North Korea planned sending its Foreign Ministry director of US affairs Choe Son Hui to lead a delegation. On the US side, former Carter official/National Committee on American Foreign Policy senior vice president Donald Zagoria and former Clinton 1994 chief denunclearization deal negotiator Robert Gallucci were involved.
Pyongyang denied involvement in Kim Jong-nam’s death. It makes sense. Why sabotage talks it wanted held?
The Trump administration cancelled them anyway - an opportunity lost, likely undermined far from Pyongyang, maybe in Seoul with CIA help.
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 at CPAC

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 26/02/2017 - 04:09

Trump at CPAC
by Stephen Lendman
The Conservative Political Action Conference is an annual event, hosted by the American Conservative Union, featuring addresses by notable conservative figures.
In 2011, Trump addressed the conference, again on Friday, using the occasion to blast the dishonest media, saying “we are fighting fake news,” calling media scoundrels “the enemy of the people.”
They “didn’t think we would win,” he said. “The pundits didn’t think we’d win. The consultants that suck up all that money…didn’t think we would win.”
Neither did I and most others, given near one-sided scoundrel media support for Hillary.
Trump went on ad nauseam, blasting the dishonest media proliferating fake news, saying “we have to fight it…”
It’s not about challenging First Amendment rights, he said, “giv(ing) you the right and me the right to criticize fake news and criticize it strongly.”
His address was long on media criticism, standing up for America, defending its borders, wasted military spending while wanting greater budgeted amounts, wanting Obamacare replaced by Trumpcare, claiming he’ll deliver on his promises to the American people.
His remarks were long on red meat for conservatives, short on what America needs most:
  • governance serving everyone equitably, not just its privileged few like now;

  • ending imperial madness once and for all;

  • slashing America’s military budget, closing its global empire of bases, using US resources more for butter than guns at a time the nation’s only enemies are ones it invents;

  • rescinding police state laws;

  • releasing political prisoners and minor nonviolent offenders;

  • putting money power back in public hands where it belongs;

  • prosecuting corporate and government offenders to the highest levels, including CIA torturers;

  • making big business and high net worth individuals pay their fair share in taxes;

  • ending homelessness and hunger in the world’s richest nation;

  • providing universal healthcare, assuring everyone has adequate coverage;

  • transforming public education into a model for other nations to emulate;

  • replacing duopoly rule with real democracy, absent since the nation’s inception.

America needs leadership supporting these and other responsible policies - transforming the country from the world’s leading pariah state to a model for others to emulate.
It’s impossible as long as duopoly governance runs things, serving privileged interests exclusively, waging endless imperial wars, replacing fundamental freedoms with tyranny.
Humanity’s survival depends on revolutionary social, political, economic, military and environmental change. Without it, we’re all doomed.
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 Right Way to Challenge Fake News

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 23:49
The Right Way to Challenge Fake News
by Stephen Lendman
Trump is right challenging fake news. It’s about time someone in high office did it. He’s going about it the wrong way.
Without speech, media and academic freedoms, all other rights are threatened. 
Barring certain media outlets from attending Friday’s White House press briefing while letting others in was wrongheaded and counterproductive.
The NYT falsely called the move unprecedented, “something no administration of either party has ever done.” 
Not quite. In 2009, the Obama White House said it would no longer conduct interviews with Fox News as a member of the press pool, an unprecedented act at the time.
Other media outlets objected. The White House relented. It remained hostile to Fox News criticism of its policies.
On February 24, NYT editors blasted Trump’s move, absurdly calling it “a backhanded compliment to the reporters whose honest work provoked the president’s latest foot-stamping tantrum” - a gratuitous insult, falsely referring to barred news organizations as “trustworthy.”
Far from it! The Times and other media scoundrels feature fake news, suppressing what’s most important to report.
They’re largely anti-Trump, inventing reasons to bash him. Justifiable criticism is warranted. Biased reporting defiles what journalism is supposed to be.
On Friday, Trump called media “the opposition party…mak(ing) up stories and mak(ing) up sources.”
Candidate Trump said he wasn’t “running against crooked Hillary. I’m running against the crooked media,” he stressed - referring to the media as the “lowest form of humanity.”
Throughout the campaign, they went all out to get him, continuing post-inauguration. The power of scoundrel media manipulated public sentiment works.
Fiction substitutes for important facts. News is sanitized, dissent marginalized. Supporting wealth, power and privilege substitutes for full and accurate reporting.
Wars of aggression are called liberating ones. They’re glorified in the name of peace. Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good. Patriotism means supporting what harms the public welfare.
Might is justified as right. Raping nations is called democracy building. Looting them is considered economic development. Free societies are threatened. Tyranny stalks America.
Truth-telling is a vital disinfectant. The way to challenge media scoundrels isn’t by barring them from press briefings. It’s by exposing their fake news with hard, irrefutable facts.
Trump has bully pulpit power. He has over 25 million Twitter followers plus other ways to counter media lies if done responsibly.
On Friday, he tweeted “FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn't tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!”
Most Americans distrust the media for good reason. Growing numbers rely on alternative sources to stay informed. It’s the only way!
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 to Veto New SC Sanctions on Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 23:23
Russia to Veto New SC Sanctions on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Russia intends vetoing a draft US, UK, French Security Council resolution, imposing new sanctions on Syria - based on fabricated accusations of chemical weapons use.
No credible evidence proves Syria used toxic agents at any time throughout years of conflict. Plenty indicates use by US-supported terrorists.
They’ve used sarin and other toxic agents against civilians numerous times, trained in their use in Turkey and Jordan, supplied these weapons by Pentagon military contractors, Saudi Arabia and perhaps other regional countries - Syria wrongfully blamed for their criminal acts.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s director of non-proliferation and weapons control Mikhail Ulyanov blasted an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report, alleging Syria’s use of toxic agents, expressing dissatisfaction of its claim, saying:
“The OPCW fact-finding mission is basically working in the remote regime. As a rule, it doesn’t reach the sites of incidents. The mission speaks with witnesses but primarily those…oppos(ed) to Damascus.”
In response to the new draft resolution on Syria, Russia’s deputy UN envoy Vladimir Safronkov said “I clearly defined (Moscow’s) position…(W)e will veto the draft resolution,” calling it one-sided and “based on insufficient evidence,” adding:
OPCW investigators were heavily “pressure(d)” to falsely blame Syria for CW use. The draft resolution “contradicts the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence before the investigation is over” and shown to be reliably conducted.
The resolution seeks to blacklist 11 Syrian military commanders and officials, along with 10 government and related entities - based on fabricated claims of their involvement in developing and producing chemical weapons.
It calls for an asset freeze, as well as a travel ban on individuals and entities in all UN member states.
Deputy UK UN envoy Peter Wilson said the resolution will be voted on as soon as possible.  French permanent UN representative Francois Delattre ludicrously said “the credibility of the Security Council is at stake.”
Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley asked “(h)ow much longer is Russia going to continue to babysit and make excuses for the Syrian regime? People died because of this and the United States isn’t going to be quiet about it.”
America, NATO and Israel use banned chemical, biological and radiological weapons in all their wars - Nuremberg-level high crimes.
No evidence proves Syria used toxic agents at any time throughout six years of war. Claims otherwise were fabricated.
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.

America Not in Good Hands, Says Ruth Bader Ginsburg

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 22:52
America Not in Good Hands, Says Ruth Bader Ginsburg
by Stephen Lendman
Supreme Court Justices are free to express views publicly like all other Americans, other than on cases before the court or under consideration.
At the same time, expressing them about the president or congressional members oversteps. So did Trump’s criticism of federal judges rejecting his travel ban.
Last summer, Ginsburg tacitly endorsed Hillary, saying “I can’t imagine what this place would be - I can’t imagine what the country would be - with Donald Trump as our president.” 
“For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be - I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
She called Trump “a faker (with) no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego.”
At the time, National Constitution Center’s Lyle Denniston said he wasn’t “aware of any justice ever expressing views on the merits or demerits of a presidential candidate in the midst of the campaign.” 
At best, her comments were politically incorrect, at worst unethical. She was at it again on BBC’s Newsnight, saying she doesn’t think the country is in good hands.
“We’re not experiencing the best of times,” she said. Without mentioning Trump by name, she noted public resistance to his agenda, including last month’s Women’s March on Washington, in other US cities and elsewhere abroad.
It gave her “reason to hope that we will see a better day,” adding “(a) great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle.”
“It is the pendulum, and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.”
“Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” citing internment of Japanese Americans during WW II.
She ignored US fantasy democracy, endless imperial wars, corporate empowerment harming the general welfare, and repressive police state laws breaching constitutional rights.
She reads the Washington Post and NYT every day, she said, claiming their “reporters are trying to tell the public the way things are.”
“Think of what the press has done in the United States,” citing Watergate, ignoring the deplorable state of today’s media - featuring fake news instead of the real thing, WaPo and The NYT leading culprits.
At age 83, she hopes to “have a way to go” on the bench.
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.

Ecuadorean Presidential Election Run-Off Announced

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 22:36
Ecuadorean Presidential Election Run-Off Announced
by Stephen Lendman
On Wednesday, Ecuador’s electoral commission announced a run-off to choose President Rafael Correa’s successor.
On April 2, ruling Alianza PAIS candidate Lenin Moreno will face banker turned politician Guillermo Lasso. Moreno barely fell short of a 40% threshold to win in first round February 19 voting - 39.4% to Lasso’s 28.1%.
He’s favored to win in round two. Correa alleged possible electoral irregularities and incomplete vote tallies in six provinces Alianza PAIS historically won.
Constitutional law lets the president and parliament call for new elections under extreme circumstances, including in cases of suspected fraud.
“If the opposition wins, and if they want to destroy everything we’ve won, there exists the (so-called) cross-death law” permitting new elections. “We have a majority in the Assembly and in a year we could see (the opposition) again,” Correa said.
If Lasso wins round two fraudulently, Correa’s government is constutionally obligated to call for new elections.
Finishing third on February 19, conservative candidate Cynthia Viteri called on her supporters to back Lasso.
Correa believes voters will elect Moreno to continue his agenda. Expect hard-fought campaigning between now and April 2.
Elected three times, Correa served as Ecuador’s president since January 15, 2007. Moreno praised his governance, saying he served with “dignity and transparency,” promising to continue his policies.
On February 19, Lasso complained about electoral irregularities in round one voting, providing no corroborating evidence - claiming he won and will “defend this victory,” urging his supporters to stay mobilized and keep protesting.
In response, Moreno said “(i)t’s striking to me that there is a loser politician out there calling for violence. This can’t be tolerated. We’re a nation of peace and we want to continue that way.” 
He’ll respect the electoral outcome when it’s over. On April 2, he and Lasso will vie to succeed Correa as Ecuador’s next president.
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.

Fair Use as Consumer Protection

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 08:45

Talking about fair use often means talking about your right to re-use existing copyrighted works in the process of making something new  - to make remixes and documentaries, parodies, or even to build novel Internet search tools. But now that copyright-protected software is in almost everything (including our cars, our toasters, our pacemakers and our insulin pumps) fair use has a new critically important role: basic consumer protection.

We entrust a lot of our lives to the devices we use on a daily basis – and to the software inside them. We trust them to get us from one place to another safely, to monitor our health conditions accurately and securely, and to keep us warm on a cold night. But what if those devices break? What if we want to make sure they aren’t collecting information about us without our consent, or infecting our systems with malware? What if we just want to be able to use third party apps and so on to make them work better?

If we want to do any of those things, chances are we’ll need to tinker with or make intermediate copies of the software. And that means we’ll need to turn to the fair use doctrine. It protects your ability to reverse engineer your stuff (so you can see what the software is doing), to make intermediate copies of your software (which is necessary to run your devices, test the software, and design interoperable products), and to make transformative uses of the underlying software (to modify it, tweak it, or use it to create new and better things).

  • Want to unlock your phone so you can use it with another carrier? You need fair use.

We could go on. Simply put, we need fair use to protect the activities that make our software-enabled devices safer and better.

But there’s a problem.  Laws like Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and companies’ abusive End User License Agreements (EULAs) are keeping fair use from doing its job. They’re chilling security research, preventing you from fixing or tinkering with your stuff, suppressing innovative and competitive new applications and devices, and stifling the independent repair industry.

If we want fair use to continue to work as consumer protection – we need to get rid of section 1201. Last year, we filed a lawsuit to do just that. Members of Congress have taken up the fight as well. Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s bill, the Unlocking Technology Act, would keep section 1201 from interfering with lawful fair uses like those listed in this post. We’ll also need to curb abusive EULAs – when companies can claim you only “license” the software in the devices you purchase, they can use End User License Agreements (that few people understand or have a meaningful option to reject) to force you to waive your fair use rights. Fortunately, we’re seeing a few states stand up for your fair use right to repair – Nebraska, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Kansas are all considering laws that would protect your right to repair. If you live in one of those states, you can make yourself heard and support those efforts.

 ~

This Week is Fair Use Week, an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. It is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines.


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Categories: Aggregated News

Copyright Law Versus Internet Culture

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 08:26

Throughout human history, culture has been made by people telling one another stories, building on what has come before, and making it their own. Every generation, every storyteller puts their own spin on old tales to reflect their own values and changing times.

This creative remixing happens today and it happens in spite of the legal cloud cast by copyright law.  Many of our modern cultural icons are “owned” by a small number of content companies. We rework popular stories to critique them or assign new meanings to them, telling our own stories about well-known characters and settings. When copyright holders try to shut us down, fair use helps us fight back.

Here are just a few ways remixers are taking culture into their own hands:

* Fan fiction – Kirk and Spock can be gay and Uhura can captain the Enterprise, or that boa constrictor from the zoo scene can become Harry’s familiar instead of taking off for Brazil.

* Photoshop battles – one goofy-looking squirrel might find itself reworked as a Jedi Knight, an astronaut landing on the moon, or out hunting with Vladimir Putin.

* Fan music videos – the feelings evoked by a song are reinforced or subverted by playing it over clips from a TV show or movie, for instance highlighting that a character who is used as a plot device really wasn’t doing okay and that their story could be just as deep and interesting as the main characters’.

* Redubbing and resubbing – if you don’t speak German, you have to trust the subtitles to tell you what Hitler is ranting about, and even if you do then someone can still dub it over with new words.

* Reaction videos – experiencing media is always different when you’re with someone else, and some people’s reactions are their own kind of entertainment.

* “Let’s Play” videos – all kinds of people from teenagers to celebrities can be found playing video games and tabletop games and sharing their experiences online, building community and giving viewers a deep sense of what the game is like so they can decide whether they want to play.

These forms of expression are central to many people's cultural experience, but they exist in a legal gray area due to copyright law. Most would be lawful fair uses, but it’s expensive and often unpredictable to defend against a copyright lawsuit, and there are plenty of rightsholders who would scream bloody murder at the idea that any of those remix activities are lawful without paying them for the privilege. Fair use, unfortunately, places the burden of justifying speech on the speaker, rather than presuming speech to be permissible unless proven otherwise by the would-be censor. This is one of many reasons that copyright is an aberration in the realm of speech regulation. Copyright is also unusual in that a rightsholder can sue for extraordinary damages even if they have not suffered any actual harm from your activities.

When the law assigns some people the power to control what stories others tell, it distorts culture. The founders of the United States thought that a limited version of this power was a necessary evil to promote the creation of maps and certain other creative works, but they tried to restrain its impact on culture by limiting rightsholders' control to verbatim reproductions and limiting the duration of copyright to fourteen years. And indeed, copyright law is at its best when it is narrowly tailored to protect individual and small business creators from losing economic opportunities to companies that could copy their work and more rapidly bring it to market.

The United States has departed from its original, limited, conception of copyright and instead has incubated and exported a mutant speech-regulation regime that grants broad control to rightsholders, typically for the entire period of a work's cultural significance (and then some). To put it in perspective, you are still bound by copyrights that were created before "talkies" arrived in theaters in the mid-1920s.

When copyright law fails to protect people who express themselves using culture "owned" by others, it muffles the vast majority of us in order to highlight voices curated by a select few gatekeepers whose experiences and values are far from representative. UCLA's Bunche Center for African American Studies recently highlighted the lack of diversity in Hollywood, a problem that appears across media and is oft-lamented by creators and audiences from underrepresented populations.

When copyright law prevents us from telling our own stories using characters and symbols that have achieved cultural significance, it reinforces narratives -- often harmful narratives -- controlled by a tiny demographic mostly consisting of wealthy, straight, white men. The government shouldn't be in the business of elevating those voices over others via copyright policy.

The Supreme Court has said that fair use is a substantial part of what makes copyright consistent with the First Amendment. To truly live up to that aspiration, fair use and other limitations on copyright enforcement have to do more to protect the public's ability to participate in reshaping culture and contesting the meaning of cultural symbols, rather than allowing copyright owners to punish people for self-expression.

~

This Week is Fair Use Week, an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. It is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines.

 


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Categories: Aggregated News

Cryptographers Demonstrate Collision in Popular SHA-1 Algorithm

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 07:30

On February 23rd, a joint team from the CWI Amsterdam and Google announced that they had generated the first ever collision in the SHA-1 cryptographic hashing algorithm. SHA-1 has long been considered theoretically insecure by cryptanalysts due to weaknesses in the algorithm design, but this marks the first time researchers were actually able to demonstrate a real-world example of the insecurity. In addition to being a powerful Proof of Concept (POC), the computing power that went into generating the proof was notable:

We then leveraged Google’s technical expertise and cloud infrastructure to compute the collision which is one of the largest computations ever completed.

Here are some numbers that give a sense of how large scale this computation was:

  • Nine quintillion (9,223,372,036,854,775,808) SHA1 computations in total
  • 6,500 years of CPU computation to complete the attack first phase
  • 110 years of GPU computation to complete the second phase

The CWI Amsterdam and Google researchers launched shattered.io, a site explaining the attack and linking to two distinct pdf files: shattered-1.pdf and shattered-2.pdf with different contents but the same SHA-1 checksum.

What is SHA-1, anyway?

SHA-1 is part of a class of algorithms known as collision-resistant hashing functions, which create a short digest of some arbitrary data. That can be a piece of text, a database entry, or a file, just to name a few examples. For instance, the SHA-1 result or 'checksum' of the first sentence in this paragraph is 472825ab28b45d64cd234a22398bba755dd56485. Creating a digest of data is useful in many contexts. For example, making a cryptographic signature for a digest is more convenient and faster than signing the entire contents of a message, a fact that many cryptographic systems have taken advantage of. Lots of software uses this type of hashing function, and relies on the collision-resistance property to verify that the contents of the original message haven't been corrupted or tampered with.

Sunsetting SHA-1

While a brute-force attack (simply trying all the possibilities until a collision is found) remains impractical, low-level analysis of the algorithm has revealed deep fractures in its design. Over time, as these theoretical attacks against the algorithm have gotten better, many have moved away from SHA-1 to guarantee security. In 2014, the CA Browser Forum (an organization which comprises the trust-roots for the web) passed a ballot which prevented new HTTPS certificates from being issued using SHA-1 after 2015. And earlier this year, the major browsers started to remove support for HTTPS sites which serve SHA-1 certificates. In general, companies and software projects were moving away from relying on SHA-1. Next-generation hashing algorithms such as SHA-256 and SHA-3 have been available for a long time, and provide far better guarantees against collisions.

So what's the big deal?

Unfortunately, the migration away from SHA-1 has not been universal. Some programs, such as the version control system Git, have SHA-1 hard-baked into its code. This makes it difficult for projects which rely on Git to ditch the algorithm altogether. The encrypted e-mail system PGP also relies on it in certain places.

While initially promising to deprecate SHA-1 in a similar time-frame as the other browsers, Internet Explorer has pushed that date back to mid-2017. This means that sites with certificates signed by the insecure function will still be trusted for IE users. And while the collision was demonstrated on two pdf files, there is nothing stopping others from crafting a malicious X.509 certificate with the same checksum as a valid certificate, and using that to impersonate a legitimate HTTPS site. History (and Moore's law) shows us that this only becomes easier over time. The first full collision of the then-popular MD5 hashing algorithm was demonstrated in August 2004. Less than seven months later, an X.509 collision was shown.

Last year, we pointed out that a SHA-1 collision in 2017 was entirely foreseeable, and will happen again in the future. To have robust protections against cryptographic vulnerabilities, software projects have to take these vulnerabilities seriously before they turn into demonstrated attacks, when they are still theoretical but within the realm of possibility. Otherwise, the time it takes to migrate away from these insecure algorithms will be well used by attackers, as well.


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Law Professors Address RCEP Negotiators on Copyright

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 06:08

Next week the latest round of secret negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) kicks off in Kobe, Japan. Once the shy younger sibling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the recent death of the TPP has thrust RCEP further into the spotlight, and raised the stakes both for its sixteen prospective parties, and for lobbyists with designs to stamp their own mark on the text's intellectual property and e-commerce chapters.

Our last analysis of RCEP pointed out some of the ways in which the then-current leaked text represented an improvement on the TPP, but how other parts of it—including those on copyright enforcement—repeated its mistakes and failed to seize opportunities for improvement. This week, over 60 copyright scholars released an open letter that sets out their views of what negotiators ought to do in order to address these problems. The letter begins:

We are deeply concerned about the copyright protection standards proposed for the RCEP IP Chapter. They may cause unintended effects of stifling creativity, free speech, and economic growth. We urge that the new rounds of RCEP negotiations reconsider those standards by applying the following three principles:

  1. Integrate the public interest as a core value for copyright negotiations.
  2. Increase transparency of negotiations for the public interest.
  3. Institute changes in copyright provisions for the public interest.

Guided by these three principles, RCEP negotiations would produce the largest mega-regional free trade agreement to procedurally and substantially protect the public interest in copyrighted works. The RCEP copyright provisions, therefore, stand to benefit nearly 50% of the world’s population, who live in the sixteen RCEP participating countries.

While EFF's position is that copyright doesn't belong in trade agreements at all, we have acknowledged that copyright lobbyists aren't going to stop seeking their inclusion in such agreements any time soon. We have also recommended some improvements to the processes of trade negotiation that would make them more transparent and inclusive, and therefore more democratically legitimate. Although our recommendations were directed to the U.S. Trade Representative (which is not a party to the RCEP negotiations), the law professors' letter echoes the spirit of some of them. In particular, the professors argue:

Release negotiation information: The RCEP should take affirmative measures to make all negotiating texts and other relevant documents publicly available as soon as possible. For this purpose, the RCEP should learn from the example of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which carried out transparency measures that facilitated the successful conclusion of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. WIPO publicly released draft negotiating documents promptly. It also publicly webcast the negotiating process.

Strengthen stakeholder engagement: When considering critical issues, the RCEP should open up channels through which the relevant stakeholders can submit their opinions. Stakeholders may include not only business groups but also civil society representatives. When necessary, the RCEP should organize public hearing meetings where various stakeholders can discuss the merits and demerits of draft proposals and negotiators can explain decision-making processes.

Beyond these procedural suggestions, the law professors also put forward some substantive ideas about how copyright could be dealt with in a more balanced way. Although stopping short of proposing a mandatory "fair use" provision, they do propose that parties should form "a committee consisting of negotiators and copyright experts should be set up to identify myriad public interests in using copyrighted works in RCEP participating countries," and should "endeavor to craft provisions to protect the public interest primarily by carving out limitations and exceptions to copyright and setting up a safe harbor system for Internet service providers."

Given the closed-door nature of the negotiations, it is difficult to discern what impact these demands will have. One of the few signs of any improvement came with Japan's announcement yesterday that it would be holding a stakeholder engagement event during this round of negotiations—but, as the announcement came only three days in advance of the event, it came too late for most international delegates to arrange to be present. The RCEP negotiators evidently haven't taken the failure of the TPP to heart, or they would be doing more to ensure that their negotiations are inclusive, transparent, and strike a fair balance between the interests of copyright owners and those of the public.

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Trump's Hawkish National Security Advisor

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 04:28
Trump’s Hawkish National Security Advisor
by Stephen Lendman
Bipartisan neocons infesting Washington love General HR McMaster. So do media scoundrels, notably The NYT, calling his appointment “an enlightened choice” for good reason. He’s militantly anti-Russia.
In a May 2016 Potomac Foundation address, he lied claiming Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea - calling 2014 the end of the post-Cold War “holiday from history,” adding:
“(W)e have awakened to this (nonexistent) threat by Russia, (aimed) “not at defensive objective but at offensive objectives to collapse the post-WWII, certainly the post-Cold War security, economic and political order and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.”
Weeks later, he spoke of “revisionist powers,” citing Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. He claimed Moscow’s intervention in Syria strengthened its “subversive efforts in Europe” - adding US allies “are pretty darn important” to keeping these countries and others at bay.
He believes forward positioning US combat troops near the borders of Russia and China protects US national security - failing to explain neither country or any others threaten America.
Last year, he was involved in determining Pentagon strategy in dealing with Russia. Last April, he told Senate Armed Services Committee members while US forces have been engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, “Russia studied (their) capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort.”
Maintaining the fiction of Russian forces in Ukraine, he claimed their “combination of unmanned aerial systems and offensive cyber and advanced electronic warfare capabilities depict a high degree of technological sophistication.”
“Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than US Army artillery systems and munitions.” Its tanks are greatly improved.
He believes with America bogged in multiple war theaters, Moscow focused on strengthening its military capability to counter its tactics.
He lied claiming Russia attacked Georgia in 2008. It intervened in South Ossetia to protect its nationals - many slaughtered by Georgian forces, their aggression orchestrated, encouraged and supported by Washington.
Replacing Michael Flynn with McMaster as national security advisor drives a stake through the heart of improved relations with Russia. It signals continued imperial madness on the phony pretext of combating terrorism.
It’s a humiliating climbdown for Trump, betraying millions wanting an end to imperial madness, America’s resources used for vital domestic needs.
What he promised he’ll only deliver for monied interests, letting hawkish generals run defense, national and homeland security.
They’re warriors, not peacemakers, unconcerned about what’s best for humanity at home and abroad - perhaps eager for confrontation with Russia, China and other independent nations, recklessness if things go in this direction.
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.

Fair Use: Journalism Can’t Succeed Without It

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 04:21

The idea that you don’t need a subject’s permission to report on them is fundamental to a free press. If a powerful or influential person, or company, could veto any coverage they don’t like, or make sure any embarrassing or incriminating statements disappear, there’d be little point to having a news media at all. Journalism relies on fair use, the idea that you can use a copyrighted work (like a video or audio clip, or piece of text) in certain ways without the copyright holder’s permission.  Indeed, the section of U.S. law that defines fair use even explicitly calls out its importance to news reporting and commentary.

If we want to protect free and independent journalism, then we need to protect and strengthen fair use.

You don’t need to look far to see how frequently journalists rely on fair use protections to do their jobs. In 2011, Bloomberg obtained and published a recording of a conference call that Swatch Group had held to discuss its financial performance. When Swatch sued for copyright infringement, a judge warned that the company’s demands were a threat to a free speech: “That kind of activity, whose protection lies at the core of the First Amendment, would be crippled if the news media and similar organizations were limited to sources of information that authorize disclosure.”

We recently wrote about Rafael Correa, the Ecuadorian president who’s repeatedly used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor media coverage about himself. Today, with a U.S. president who campaigned on a promise to “open up” libel laws so that he could more easily sue newspapers for their coverage of him, and who recently called the mainstream press an enemy of the American people, it’s more important than ever to protect journalists from censorship-by-copyright.

And those protections are just as necessary for publishers with minority views as mainstream ones, if not more so. In 1968, Time Inc. attempted to sue a book publisher over its use of the Zapruder Film, the famous document of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The book used stills from the film in order to advance a theory that multiple gunmen had participated in the assassination. As the judge noted, “Thompson [the author] did serious work on the subject and has a theory entitled to public consideration.” Regardless of your opinions about the Kennedy assassination, it would be disastrous to allow copyright to be used to keep the public from reading unpopular opinions.

Again and again, large entertainment companies attempt to trivialize fair use, treating it like an archaic flaw in copyright law—or at best, the realm of hobbyists on YouTube. Fair use isn’t just about your right to make funny videos (as important as those are); it’s about the public’s right to news and information, and the crucial role of the press to hold those in power accountable.

~

This Week is Fair Use Week, an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. It is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines.


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Iraq Bombs ISIS in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 04:17
Iraq Bombs ISIS in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
According to an unnamed Damascus source allegedly close to its Foreign Ministry, Iraq’s mission was approved and conducted in “coordination” with Syria’s government. It hasn’t been officially confirmed so what’s going on isn’t clear.
A statement by US-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi said “(w)e are determined to chase terrorism that tries to kill our sons and citizens wherever it is found, so we gave orders to the air force command to strike Islamic State positions in Hosaiba and Albu Kamal inside Syrian territory as they were responsible for recent bombings in Baghdad.”
Since Bush/Cheney’s 2003 aggression on Iraq, violent incidents occurred regularly in Baghdad and elsewhere, killing around 1,000 or more monthly.
Abbadi claiming he responded to recent bombings in Baghdad, specifically a mid-February car-bombing killing dozens, is nonsense.
US-supported ISIS fighters have been active in Iraq since at least spring 2013, gaining control over parts of the country, including oil-rich Mosul.
Iraqi forces have their hands full dealing with twin enemies - ISIS and America’s military presence, terror-bombing its infrastructure, massacring its people, currently raping and destroying Mosul, not liberating it as claimed.
Iraqi warplanes struck targets in Hosaiba near its border with Syria and Albu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province. 
It’s unknown if this was the first of more attacks to follow.
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.

Shadow Regulation Withers In The Sunlight

eff.org - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 03:39
Dot-Org Registry Suspends Secretive Copyright-Policing Plan

Yesterday, the group that runs the .org top-level domain announced that they will suspend their plans to create a new, private, problematic copyright enforcement system. That’s welcome news for tens of millions of nonprofits, charities, businesses, clubs, bloggers, and personal website owners that use .org. It’s also surprising, because most of those Internet users had no idea that a new copyright system, strongly reminiscent of the failed SOPA/PIPA Internet censorship bills, might be forced on them.

The possibility was easy to miss. Public Interest Registry, the nonprofit organization that administers the .org domain, never mentioned the new policy on its blog before yesterday, nor on the registrar websites where people actually register and renew their domain names. It was announced two weeks ago on a news website that covers the domain industry. And it was referenced in a proposal by the Domain Name Association, an industry group, titled “Registry/Registrar Healthy Practices,” a day later.

What was the proposal? Public Interest Registry has never provided any details, but the Domain Name Association’s plan [PDF], which is labeled “PIR Proposal,” calls for creating a system of private arbitrators who would hear complaints of copyright infringement on websites. The arbitrators would wield the power to take away a website’s domain name, and possibly transfer it to the party who complained of infringement. It’s based on a system already in place for resolving trademark disputes on domain names themselves, but it extends that concept to cover the contents of websites and services—something that should be no business of domain name companies. Crossing that line invites even more censorship. The existing process for trademark disputes is notoriously biased in favor of trademark holders, so it’s nothing to emulate.

The proposal, as revealed to the public this month, resembles the SOPA and PIPA bills, which were defeated in 2012 after a massive protest by Internet users. Like SOPA/PIPA, the “Healthy Practices” plan would co-opt one of the Internet’s core functions to serve the narrow interests of a politically well-connected industry. And like those bills, it would throw away the standards developed in court cases over decades for applying copyright law to websites. In some ways, the PIR Proposal goes even further than SOPA/PIPA would have, because whereas the latter would have blocked access to certain domains in the United States, the PIR Proposal would see those domain names deleted worldwide.

It’s not surprising that a plan developed in secret, without input from Internet users, would disregard users’ rights. As we’ve explained, truly “healthy” Internet governance requires inclusion, balance, and accountability, all of which were absent here.

Public Interest Registry did the right thing by hitting the brakes on this proposal. Its brief announcement today acknowledges the importance of good policy-development processes:

Over the past year, Public Interest Registry has been developing a highly focused policy that addresses systemic, large scale copyright infringement – the ”Systemic Copyright Infringement Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy” or SCDRP.

Given certain concerns that have been recently raised in the public domain, Public Interest Registry is pausing its SCDRP development process to reflect on those concerns and consider forward steps. We will hold any further development of the SCDRP until further notice.

A good process must begin by asking whether new, private copyright enforcement mechanisms are needed at all, who benefits, and who will be harmed. It means asking whether the pursuit of copyright “pirates” justifies new architectures of censorship that can easily be turned to other ends, like the suppression of political dissent or news reporting, or the preservation of media monopolies. And it requires seeking the input of Internet users from all walks of life. Whether this takes place in existing organizations like ICANN or through new Internet governance initiatives, it can’t be done unilaterally, or secretly.

We’re glad Public Interest Registry won’t be continuing with this Shadow Regulation for now, and we encourage the Domain Name Association to drop its support for the plan, as well.

Update: The Domain Name Association also announced that it has "elected to take additional time to consider the details" of its copyright proposal.


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Opposing Doctrines: Putin v. Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 24/02/2017 - 23:17
Opposing Doctrines: Putin v. Trump
by Stephen Lendman
After a century of US-instigated adversarial relations, it’s wishful thinking to believe Trump’s ascension to power means Washington turning a new leaf on Russia.
Vladimir Putin and US ruling authorities (including Trump) are polar opposites. Russia’s leader supports peace, stability and multi-world polarity.
Dark forces running America wage endless imperial wars - Trump engaged in them as Pentagon commander-in-chief. His top defense, national and homeland security officials are warriors, not peacemakers.
Putin believes nation-state sovereignty is inviolable. Like his predecessors, Trump apparently endorses Washington’s divine right of intervention.
Putin respects UN Charter provisions and other rule of law principles. All US leaders (including Trump based on his actions so far) ignore them, operating by Washington rules.
According for Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, speaking for him, “(o)ur goal is to make sure that we maintain America’s dominance around the world…”
Article 8 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention of Rights and Duties says “(n)o state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.”
Under Article 10, differences between states “should be settled by recognized pacific methods.” Article 11 calls sovereign state territory “inviolable…”
The 1950 Nuremberg Principles defined crimes against peace to include:
“(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (and)
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).”
The UN Charter failed “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” US-dominated  NATO, Israel and their rogue allies ignore their fundamental principles. 
They require all member states to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”
Use of force is prohibited except in self-defense. Security Council members have final say - not individual countries or their ruling authorities.
Neither US presidents or Congress have legal authority to preemptively attack other nations for any reason - not for regime change, not to keep America safe, not to combat bad guys.
All US post-WW II wars constituted naked aggression, Nuremberg-level high crimes against peace - including ones raging under Obama, Trump continuing them, doing nothing so far to change America’s longstanding imperial agenda.
Syria is Obama’s war. It’s now Trump’s, perhaps intending escalation with reports of possible deployment of US combat troops on the phony pretext of combating ISIS, and no fulfillment of his promise to cooperate with Russia against this scourge.
Last week at NATO headquarters in Brussels, US Defense Secretary Mattis said Washington isn’t ready “to collaborate (with Russia) on a military level.” Moscow “ha(s) to prove itself first.”
After meeting with Sergey Lavrov in Bonn, Germany, US Secretary of State Tillerson said “we expect Russia to honor its commitments to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in Ukraine” - irresponsibly ignoring Kiev aggression, aided by Washington, blaming Russia and Donbass freedom fighters for what’s going on.
On Thursday, America’s top Middle East air force commander General Jeffrey Harrigan said Washington and Moscow have “conflicting (regional) operational desires” - a gap unlikely to be bridged.
On Thursday, Putin again said Russia intervened against terrorism in Syria at the request of its government. Its aims are to keep this scourge from spreading, along with protecting and preserving Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity - polar opposite America’s agenda.
Saying “(o)ur aim is to stabilize the legitimate power in the country and to strike a decisive blow on international terrorism” explains why he got involved.
He affirmed the right of Syrians alone to decide who’ll lead them - free from foreign interference. He said over 4,000 Russian extremists and about 5,000 more from former Soviet republics are fighting in Syria to depose its government.
They pose a serious threat to Russia’s security, he stressed, referring to homeland terrorism numbers returning home may instigate.
A previous day article called Trump America’s latest warrior president, waging peace apparently not forthcoming on his watch.
On Thursday, he vowed to assure America’s nuclear capability would “be at the top of the pack,” adding “(w)e’re never going to fall behind any country, even if it’s a friendly country. We’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.”
He lied, claiming Russia breached the 1987 INF Treaty. “To me it’s a big deal,” he blustered. He falsely called Obama’s New START agreement on US and Russian nuclear arsenals a “one-sided deal.”
He made similar comments about the Iran nuclear deal, expressing hostile comments about the Islamic Republic, maintaining 38 years of US-instigated adversarial relations.
America’s imperial project appears unchanged in his hands - a prescription for continued wars of aggression, not efforts to wage peace instead.
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.

Ending Obamacare's Nightmare Promises a Worse One

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 24/02/2017 - 23:00
Ending Obamacare’s Nightmare Promises a Worse One
by Stephen Lendman
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Vice President Pence said “America’s Obamacare nightmare is about to end.”
He lied saying he and Trump are committed to giving every American “access to quality, affordable health insurance,” vowing an “orderly transition” from current policy to Trumpcare.
The only responsible solution is government-sponsored, single-payer, universal coverage - ruled off the table by both wings of America’s duopoly system. 
Everyone in, no one left out, equal benefits for everyone, not more for some, less for others.
House Speaker Paul Ryan wants tax credits replacing Obamacare subsidies, a boon for well-off households, disastrous for low-income ones and millions of unemployed Americans, paying little or no taxes - unable to benefit from credits.
He favors “mini-med” plans, offering minimal coverage, way too little in cases of serious illnesses, diseases or expensive hospitalizations and surgeries.
He wants inadequate block grants to states in lieu of Washington’s commitment to match their Medicaid spending.
He wants Medicare benefits beginning at age 67, instead of as early as age 62 currently, along with guaranteed benefits for seniors replaced by vouchers to purchase insurance - adjusted to inflation changes artificially kept low, ignoring soaring healthcare costs.
He and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon turned politician, want healthcare coverage for low-income and unemployed Americans reduced, while maintaining top quality coverage for the nation’s privileged class.
They want Washington’s obligation shifted to states. Martin Luther King once said “(o)f all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) advocates universal coverage as the only responsible policy. Their report titled “Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform” addresses fundamental reform vitally needed.
America spends double the amount on healthcare compared to other developed countries, while providing inadequate or no coverage for most of its citizens. Trumpcare looks like a scheme to make a bad system worse, not better. 
PNHP’s proposal corrects systemic deficiencies, most of all “high cost sharing, limitations of coverage, and subcontracting to wasteful private plans.”
It focuses heavily on dramatically reducing administrative costs and other inefficiencies. It aims to eliminate underinsurance and lack of coverage affecting millions.
Though publicly financed, it relies on private providers. It reduces billing and paperwork costs - eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in exorbitant insurance costs. 
Federal bargaining with drug companies would assure much lower-priced prescription drugs. Hospitalization costs would go down.
Overall healthcare costs in other developed nations are around half what they are in America. Trumpcare will do nothing to address this.
Under Obamacare, around 26 million Americans have no coverage. Underinsurance endangers millions more. High deductibles and co-pays add greater burdens for low-income households.
Trumpcare threatens to replace a bad system with something worse. Marketplace medicine works well for insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.
Single-payer universal coverage is the only equitable system for millions of ordinary people, struggling daily to get by. It’s a fundamental human right.
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.

Geneva IV Peace Talks on Syria Off to a Rocky Start

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 24/02/2017 - 22:43
Geneva IV Peace Talks on Syria Off to a Rocky Start
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, Syria’s delegation faced off against US-supported terrorist groups wanting its legitimate government toppled. 
Both sides are nowhere near resolving differences between them after three previous failed rounds. Two sessions in Astana, Kazakhstan this year achieved little.
Geneva IV may turn out no better. It’s unclear whether Trump wants continued war or resolution. Israel abhors the latter, wanting Assad toppled. 
NATO countries remain hostile to his government. So do Turkey, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Jordan - not a prescription for ending six devastating years of conflict.
On Thursday, Saudi cobbled together opposition terrorist delegates called for Assad’s immediate resignation - a nonstarter, a hostile demand getting talks off to a rocky start.
Russia’s envoy to Geneva negotiations Alexey Borodavkin called the opposition’s demand absurd, an unacceptable precondition. 
He called Trump’s security zone scheme unclear, adding “it is necessary to address the Syrian government and to ask whether it agrees to have some security zones organized in its territory.”
He cited “an endless list of questions (and) problems,” adding he’s seen no concrete proposal.
Last week in Bonn, Germany, Sergey Lavrov discussed this topic with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the G20 meeting, saying:
“We await further clarification. We believe that such initiatives should take into account the situation on the ground in Syria, where many players are at work, so to speak, with their ground forces, as well as in the Syrian airspace.” 
“Naturally, our position is that any such initiatives regarding Syria’s territory should be coordinated with (its) government. Otherwise it will be difficult to implement these steps.” 
Russia opposes foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs. Lavrov awaits clarity on whether Washington intends cooperating with Russia in combating terrorism and resolving Syria’s conflict.
So far, indications aren’t encouraging. Washington’s Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria operations have nothing to with liberating these cities from ISIS control.
Their aim is mass slaughter and destruction of vital infrastructure, civilians mostly harmed, countless numbers killed or injured, similar operations going on in other parts of both countries, ignored by media scoundrels.
So-called Mosul and Raqqa “liberating” battles are US deceptions, discussed in previous articles. At the same time, reports suggest Trump ordered the CIA to stop arming so-called rebels in Syria.
No explanation was given. Is it a temporary or permanent halt? Is it only for some terrorists, not others? Are weapons and other support still flowing to ISIS and al-Nusra? 
All these groups are US-led NATO foot soldiers, created and armed to serve its imperial agenda, supported throughout years of conflict in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
Until more information is known, it’s unclear what Washington is up to. Obama’s wars continue raging, Trump giving no indication of halting them.
Appointing hawkish generals to run America’s defense, national and homeland security suggests a continuation of earlier policies - not an encouraging sign.
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.

Police State Viciousness Against Native American Water Protectors

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 24/02/2017 - 22:27
Police State Viciousness Against Native American Water Protectors
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, militarized police, National Park Service Rangers, Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcers, and National Guard troops using armored vehicles removed remaining Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and supporters from their Oceti Sakowin encampment.
Dozens of arrests were made, the operation an example of police state viciousness.
Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom Goldtooth issued a statement, saying: 
“We are appalled by today’s forced evacuations of indigenous people at the Camp at Standing Rock, they are a violent and unnecessary infringement on the constitutional right of water protectors to peacefully protest and exercise their freedom of speech.” 
“It hinders the camp cleanup process and creates confusion and chaos that puts the Missouri River at risk of pollution from construction and camping debris.

“Today’s expulsion is a continuation of a centuries old practice, where the US Government forcefully removes Indigenous people from our lands and territories.” 
“We urge supporters of the water protectors to continue to resist this travesty by organizing mass mobilizations, distributed actions, speaking out against the violations of the Treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation, and continuing to source up the capacity for litigation and grassroots organizing against the Dakota Access pipeline.

“Our hearts are not defeated. The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight, it is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started. It burns within each of us.” 
“We will rise, we will resist, and we will thrive. We are sending loving thoughts to the water protectors along the banks of the Cannonball River, today. May everyone be as safe as can be. #noDAPL”
The struggle to prevent contamination of ancestral land and water continues in court, upcoming hearing scheduled.
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. 

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