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Putting a Brave Face on Failure to Achieve Ceasefire in Syria - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 03:10
Putting a Brave Face on Failure to Achieve Ceasefire in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
When efforts to resolve differences between opposing sides of a conflict fail, diplomats deceptively say talks made progress. Discussions were constructive - code language for accomplishing nothing.
You’d think by now Russia would acknowledge the futility of negotiating with a duplicitous US adversary, making conflict resolution unattainable, no matter the amount of diplomatic effort exerted. 
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin was less than candid, claiming Lavrov/Kerry talks on the sidelines of the UN’s 71st General Assembly made progress - ahead of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting Thursday afternoon at a New York hotel.
It’s largely stacked with representatives of pro-Western/anti-Syria nations, wanting Assad toppled, his government replaced, his nation raped and destroyed. It’s no impartial body despite Russia, China, Iran and Lebanon among its 21 members.
Lavrov had numerous fruitless meetings with Kerry since succeeding Clinton as secretary of state in February 2013 - no progress toward ceasefire and conflict resolution accomplished at any of them.
Whatever US diplomats and politicians promise, betrayal virtually always follows, the other side always blamed for America’s duplicity.
Chances for Lavrov achieving anything meaningful with Kerry for the remainder of his time as secretary of state is nil. He’ll leave when a new administration takes over in January, Hillary Clinton likely heading it, a notorious war goddess sure to escalate conflict, not resolve it.
Russia should stop wasting time on diplomatic futility and start preparing for the deluge next year - its own security hugely imperiled.
Chances for Hillary waging nuclear war is terrifyingly possible, maybe likely, humanity’s survival threatened if launched.
With neocon lunatics running the Washington asylum, headed by Hillary, all bets are off. Cataclysmic war could start any time for any contrived reason - a major false flag likely triggering it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

A Digital Rumor Should Never Lead to a Police Raid - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 03:00


Law Enforcement, Courts Need to Better Understand IP Addresses, Stop Misuse

If police raided a home based only on an anonymous phone call claiming residents broke the law, it would be clearly unconstitutional.

Yet EFF has found that police and courts are regularly conducting and approving raids based on the similar type of unreliable digital evidence: Internet Protocol (IP) address information.

In a whitepaper released today, EFF challenges law enforcement and courts’ reliance on IP addresses, without more, to identify the location of crimes and the individuals responsible. While IP addresses can be a useful piece of an investigation, authorities need to properly evaluate the information, and more importantly, corroborate it, before IP address information can be used to support police raids, arrests, and other dangerous police operations.

IP address information was designed to route traffic on the Internet, not serve as an identifier for other purposes. As the paper explains, IP addresses information isn't the same as physical addresses or license plates that can pinpoint an exact location or identify a particular person. Put simply: there is no uniform way to systematically map physical locations based on IP addresses or create a phone book to lookup users of particular IP addresses.

Law enforcement’s over-reliance on the technology is a product of police and courts not understanding the limitations of both IP addresses and the tools used to link the IP address with a person or a physical location. And the police too often compound that problem by relying on metaphors in warrant applications that liken IP addresses to physical addresses or license plates, signaling far more confidence in the information than it merits.

Recent events demonstrate the problem: A story in Fusion documents how residents of a farm in the geographic center of America are subjected to countless police raids and criminal suspicion, even though they’ve done nothing wrong. A story in Seattle’s newspaper The Stranger described how police raided the home and computers of a Seattle privacy activist operating a Tor exit relay because they mistakenly believed the home contained child pornography. And these are just two stories that found their way into the media. 

These ill-informed raids jeopardize public safety and violate individuals’ privacy rights. They also waste police time and resources chasing people who are innocent of the crimes being investigated. 

The whitepaper calls on police and courts to recalibrate their assumptions about IP address information, especially when it is used to identify a particular location to be searched or individual to be arrested. EFF suggests that IP address information be treated, in the words of the Supreme Court, as more like “casual rumor circulating in the underworld,” or an unreliable informant. The Constitution requires further investigation and corroboration of rumors and anonymous tips before police can rely upon them to establish probable cause authorizing warrants to search homes or arrest individuals. The same should be true of IP address information.

The paper also explains why the technology’s limitations can make it unreliable and how the Supreme Court’s rules around unreliable information provided by anonymous informants should apply to IP address information in warrant applications. The paper concludes with two lists of questions to ask and concrete steps to take: one for police and one for judges.  The goal is to better protect the public so that the misuse of IP address information doesn’t lead to a miscarriage of justice. 

We hope the whitepaper can serve as a resource for law enforcement and courts while also triggering a broader conversation about IP address information’s use in criminal investigations. In the coming months, EFF hopes to discuss these concerns with law enforcement and courts with the goal of preventing unwarranted privacy invasions and violations of the Fourth Amendment. We also hope that our discussions will result in better law enforcement investigations that do not waste scarce police resources. If you are a law enforcement agency or court interested in this issue, please contact

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NATO: A US-Controlled Killing Machine - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 02:02
NATO: A US-Controlled Killing Machine
by Stephen Lendman
NATO’s other 27 members and partner countries operate by Washington rules - an imperial agenda, featuring endless wars of aggression against sovereign independent nations threatening no one.
World peace and stability are unattainable as long as this monster exists - entirely for offense, not defense. Its claims otherwise ring hollow.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, like his predecessors, serves US imperial interests, dedicated to endless wars, reviling peace.
He’s in New York for the 71st General Assembly session, NATO’s web site, saying “(t)he Alliance is playing its part in tackling global security challenges together with the United Nations” - at a time existing ones stem from US imperial lawlessness, complicit with rogue allies, notably Israel.
The Wall Street Journal disgracefully gave Stoltenberg’s predecessor Anders Fogh Rasmussen feature op-ed space - stumping for America to rule the world, calling for it to be a global policeman.
The notion should terrify everyone, US dominion over planet earth, its resources and populations its longterm goal - iron-fisted tyranny and neoserfdom by any standard.
Rasmussen is a deplorable character, NATO secretary-general from August 2009 to October 2014, serving US interests, supporting its wars of aggression, his op-ed a deplorable example of misinformation and Big Lies.
Putin “invaded Ukraine,” he ranted. False! Putin “launched a military action in Syria,” failing to explain it came legally at the behest of its government, a joint effort to combat US-supported terrorism, a noble initiative.
Clearly endorsing Hillary without naming her, instead of abstaining from meddling in US politics, Rasmussen said “(w)e desperately need a US president who is able and willing to lead the free (sic) world and counter autocrats (sic) like President Putin.”
He favors America as global policeman to enforce iron-fisted tyrannical rule - not serve the interests of “freedom and prosperity (over) the forces of oppression,” as he put it.
“The Middle East is torn by war” - because of US-dominated NATO policy complicit with other rogue partners, he failed to explain.
“…Libya has collapsed and became a breeding ground for terrorist” - precisely how Washington planned it, knowing war meant chaos in its aftermath.
“(A) resurgent Russia has brutally attacked and grabbed land by force from Ukraine” - a despicable Big Lie. Nothing of the sort occurred, Russia the only world power responsibly going all-out for restoring peace to the country, prevented by US obstructionism.
“China is flexing its muscles against its neighbors.” Rubbish. America is provocatively intruding in a part of the world not its own, Beijing responsibly defending its interests.
“North Korea is threatening a nuclear attack.” Its government is preparing best it can for possible US aggression coming since Harry Truman’s in the early 1950s.
“(W)e need a policeman to restore order. (W)e need a firefighter to put out the flames of conflict.” Rasmussen favors putting an arsonist in charge - wanting America, the world’s dominant rogue state running things globally.
“Only America can” do it, he ranted, claiming it “alone has the credibility to shape sustainable solutions to (global) challenges…not for the sake of power, but for the sake of peace.”
Rasmussen failed to explain how a nation committed to endless imperial wars of aggression would suddenly prioritize peacemaking when it’s the leading cause of global violence, instability and chaos.
Obama wasn’t aggressive enough, he said. Bombing seven countries and waging wars in multiple theaters during his tenure are too few, he apparently believes.
His “reluctance to lead the world has had serious consequences, and none is graver than the behavior of Mr. Putin.” Rasmussen’s part of the anti-Russia, anti-Putin chorus risking nuclear war.
He’s an imperial stooge, saying what his US-led Western handlers dictate, favoring global war based on his ranting. The kind of world he wants is unfit and unsafe to live in.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Assad: US Warplanes Willfully Terror-Bombed Syrian Forces - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 01:46
Assad: US Warplanes Willfully Terror-Bombed Syrian Forces
by Stephen Lendman
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad features straight talk in all his remarks - polar opposite Obama’s deplorable demagoguery.
Interviewed by AP News in Damascus, he was candid and straightforward like always, explaining US warplanes terror-bombed Syrian forces near Deir Ezzur last Saturday “intentionally.”
It was no accident, US aggression, flagrantly violating Geneva ceasefire terms - another failed Russian effort for conflict resolution, unattainable when dealing with a rogue adversary.
“(F)our US airplanes” were involved, Assad said, “which kept attacking the position of the Syrian troops for nearly one hour or maybe a little bit” longer.
ISIS terrorists “attacked at the very same time as the American strike. How could they know that America was going to attack that position in order to gather their militants right away and attack it one hour after the strike? It was definitely intentional and not unintentional.”
America created and supports anti-government terrorist groups. It’s not combating ISIS and likeminded ones as falsely claimed.
Assad expressed his “commit(ment) to any halt of operations, or if you want to call it a ceasefire.” An earlier February attempt failed. Washington undermined it.
“…I believe that the United States is not genuine regarding having a ceasefire of violence in Syria,” Assad stressed. Supporting terrorist groups instead of combating them proves it.
Washington rejects military cooperation with Russia, said Assad. It “doesn’t have the will to work against” ISIS, al-Nusra or other terrorist groups. Attacking them means “los(ing) a very important card…”
Numerous humanitarian convoys delivered aid in Syria for many months, no incident approaching Monday’s brutal attack happening, Assad explained. So why now and why blame Syria and Russia when their mutual aim is helping long-suffering Syrians, not harming them?
“(W)hatever the American officials say about conflict in Syria…has no credibility. Whatever they say, it’s just lies,” Assad stressed - disgracefully repeated by media scoundrels.
The convoy was attacked by terrorists in an area they control, said Assad. Even the UN reversed its original misinformation, saying no airstrikes hit the convoy, ground fire alone.
Throughout the conflict, Syria has been repeatedly accused of crimes of war and against humanity committed by US-supported terrorists and Pentagon terror-bombing.
What motive could Damascus or Moscow have in targeting civilians they’re sworn to protect? Only elements seeking Syria’s destruction would commit repeated atrocities against defenseless people.
Prospects for conflict resolution are virtually nil, Assad lamented, because America and its rogue allies keep supporting terrorists. Nothing will change until this ends.
At the same time, he remains hopeful. “Some day the war will stop,” he said. Rebuilding the country will follow. For now, it’s “painful” to witness imperial viciousness destroying Syria’s “civilization.” 
Asked if his country would benefit more from a Clinton or Trump presidency next year, he said “(t)he problem with” all US candidates is “they say something during the campaign, (then) do the opposite” when it’s over.
Believing America will ever treat other nations fairly, especially sovereign independent ones, “is only wishful thinking and fantasy,” Assad stressed.
Hegemons operate by their own rules alone, forcing other nations to comply or else.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

HTML standardization group calls on W3C to protect security researchers from DRM - Fri, 23/09/2016 - 01:44

The World Wide Web Consortium has embarked upon an ill-advised project to standardize Digital Rights Management (DRM) for video at the behest of companies like Netflix; in so doing, they are, for the first time, making a standard whose implementations will be covered under anti-circumvention laws like Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it a potential felony to reveal defects in products without the manufacturer's permission.

This is especially worrisome because the W3C's aspiration for the new version of HTML is that it will replace apps as the user-interface for the Internet of Things, making all sorts of potentially compromising (and even lethal) bugs difficult to report without serious legal liability.

The EFF has proposed that W3C members should be required to promise not to use the DMCA and laws like it this way; this has had support from other multistakeholder groups, like the Open Source Initiative, which has said that the W3C work will not qualify as an "open standard" if it doesn't do something to prevent DMCA abuse.

Now, another important body, WHATWG, has joined the chorus calling on the W3C to prevent their technical work from become a legal weapon. WHATWG is a breakaway web standards body, backed by all the major browser vendors, and much of the W3C's standardization process consists of snapshotting WHATWG's documents and putting W3C's stamp of approval on them.

In an op-ed on the WHATWG blog, Ian "Hixie" Hickson (who formerly oversaw HTML5 for the W3C, and now edits the HTML spec for WHATWG, while working for Google) calls on the W3C to adopt the rules protecting security research, saying "We can ill afford a chilling effect on Web browser security research. Browsers are continually attacked. Everyone who uses the Web uses a browser, and everyone would therefore be vulnerable if security research on browsers were to stop."

Hixie's letter is co-signed by fellow WHATWGers Simon Pieters from Opera, and Anne van Kesteren from Mozilla.

The charter for the W3C's DRM working group runs out in eight days and will have to be renewed. Some 20 W3C members have pledged to block any further renewal unless the W3C executive requires the group to solve this problem before finishing its work. The last time this happened, the executive dismissed these objections, but the numbers have swelled and now include prominent disabled rights groups like the UK Royal National Institute for Blind People and Media Access Australia, as well as a browser vendor, Brave.

A who's who of security researchers, including the W3C's own invited experts, have signed an open letter asking the W3C to ensure that control over disclosure of vulnerabilities in web browsers isn't given to the companies whom these disclosures might potentially embarrass.

From Hixie's post:

Much has been written on how DRM is bad for users because it prevents fair use, on how it is technically impossible to ever actually implement, on how it's actually a tool for controlling distributors, a purpose for which it is working well (as opposed to being to prevent copyright violations, a purpose for which it isn't working at all), and on how it is literally an anti-accessibility technology (it is designed to make content less accessible, to prevent users from using the content as they see fit, even preventing them from using the content in ways that are otherwise legally permissible, e.g. in the US, for parody or criticism). Much has also been written about the W3C's hypocrisy in supporting DRM, and on how it is a betrayal to all Web users. It is clear that the W3C allowing DRM technologies to be developed at the W3C is just a naked ploy for the W3C to get more (paying) member companies to join. These issues all remain. Let's ignore them for the rest of post, though.

One of the other problems with DRM is that, since it can't work technically, DRM supporters have managed to get the laws in many jurisdictions changed to make it illegal to even attempt to break DRM. For example, in the US, there's the DMCA clauses 17 U.S.C. § 1201 and 1203: "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title", and "Any person injured by a violation of section 1201 or 1202 may bring a civil action in an appropriate United States district court for such violation".

This has led to a chilling effect in the security research community, with scientists avoiding studying anything that might relate to a DRM scheme, lest they be sued. The more technology embeds DRM, therefore, the less secure our technology stack will be, with each DRM-impacted layer getting fewer and fewer eyeballs looking for problems.

We can ill afford a chilling effect on Web browser security research. Browsers are continually attacked. Everyone who uses the Web uses a browser, and everyone would therefore be vulnerable if security research on browsers were to stop.

Since EME introduces DRM to browsers, it introduces this risk.

proposal was made to avoid this problem. It would simply require each company working on the EME specification to sign an agreement that they would not sue security researchers studying EME. The W3C already requires that members sign a similar agreement relating to patents, so this is a simple extension. Such an agreement wouldn't prevent members from suing for copyright infringement, it wouldn't reduce the influence of content producers over content distributors; all it does is attempt to address this even more critical issue that would lead to a reduction in security research on browsers.

The W3C is refusing to require this. We call on the W3C to change their mind on this. The security of the Web technology stack is critical to the health of the Web as a whole.

- Ian Hickson, Simon Pieters, Anne van Kesteren

Excerpt copyright (c) 2016 The WHATWG Contributors. Reproduced under the MIT License.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Kerry Arrogantly Calls for Unacceptable No-Fly Zone in Syria - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 22:20
Kerry Arrogantly Calls for Unacceptable No-Fly Zone in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Kerry’s notion of ceasefire is preventing Syrian and Russian warplanes from combating US-supported terrorists massacring defenseless civilians, Pentagon operations continuing on the phony pretense of combating ISIS.
Despite foolishly cooperating with Washington achieving nothing, an inexcusable blunder with its main adversary wanting its sovereign independence destroyed, Russia won’t buy this duplicitous stunt. Nor will Syria, supported by Moscow’s Security Council veto power.
Addressing SC members, Kerry blamed Assad’s government and Russia for US high crimes. America wants regime change in Syria no matter the enormous cost in human lives and vast destruction.
Kerry arrogantly and absurdly claimed the way “(to) restore credibility (is to) immediately ground all aircraft flying in (so-called) key areas (strategically important Aleppo mainly) to deescalate the situation and give a chance for humanitarian assistance to flow unimpeded.”
Fact: Kerry wants Syrians left defenseless in key parts of the country so US proxy death squads can operate unimpeded.
Fact: Winning the battle of Aleppo is key to defeating terrorism in Syria, essential to have any hope for liberation, why Kerry wants Syrian and Russian aerial operations halted there.
Fact: America and its terrorist foot soldiers bear full responsibility for blocking humanitarian aid. Syria wants it delivered to all its people in need. US policy calls for inflicting maximum pain and suffering on civilians in all its war theaters.
Kerry: Assad created “the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since WW II.”
Fact: Washington bears full responsibility for raping and destroying large parts of Syria, displacing half the population internally and externally, its imported terrorist death squads doing its dirty work along with Pentagon terror-bombing. 
The death toll from last Saturday’s US attack on Syrian soldiers is now 83, 100 or more others injured. The world community remains disgracefully silent, failing to condemn willful, malicious mass murder.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Kerry of putting on “a (duplicitous) show,” accomplishing “nothing.”
The stakes in Syria are huge, affecting the entire region and beyond. I’ve explained before if it goes, Iran is next, longstanding US regime change implemented to replace the Islamic Republic with pro-Western puppet governance - Russia and China in America’s queue for regime change to follow.
It’s crucial for Moscow to go all-out to help its Syrian ally militarily. Endless diplomacy accomplishing nothing mocks the suffering of millions of its people deserving better.
A Final Comment
Syria is the world’s major flashpoint, an incendiary situation pitting America against Russia - both sides with irreconcilable differences, impossible to resolve because bipartisan neocons infesting Washington want confrontation, not mutually cooperative relations.
The end game is increasingly clear, the spark alone unknown. America is headed for war on Russia, the most disturbing prospect if Hillary succeeds Obama - militantly anti-Putin, anti-Russian sovereign independence. 
No matter how forthrightly Moscow tries engaging  Washington cooperatively on Syria and other key geopolitical issues, it consistently fails to achieve anything positive because US policy is adversarial, heading, it appears, inexorably for war - unthinkable humanity threatening conflict between the world’s dominant nuclear powers.
When elephants fight, grass beneath them gets trampled.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

NYT Bashes Real Democracy in Russia, Ignores Its Fantasy Version in America - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 22:03
NYT Bashes Real Democracy in Russia, Ignores Its Fantasy Version in America
by Stephen Lendman
Times editorial policy appears driven to reach new abysmal reporting and opinion lows, a deplorable laughing stock, especially on geopolitical issues, notably when America goes to war.
Earlier I called the self-styled newspaper of record a lying machine, again proved in disgracefully bashing Russian parliamentary elections last Sunday - a process scrupulously open, free and fair, independent monitors reporting few irregularities, none affecting final result.
Even Times editors admitted voting went smoothly “without many…irregularities.” Instead of praising Russia democratic process, Time editors lashed out despicably.
They accused “Putin and his Kremlin cronies (of) consoldat(ing) full control over Russian politics” - ignoring his overwhelming popularity despite economic hard times usually affecting leaders and sitting governments adversely.
Turning truth on its head, it added (t)wenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia appears to have returned full circle to a pseudo-parliament whose only function is to give a semblance of legitimacy to an authoritarian ruler.”
Russian democratic governance shames America’s fantasy version, serving Wall Street, warlords, corporate crooks, and plutocrats exclusively - one party duopoly rule, election-rigging commonplace to prevent responsible change.
Times editors accused Putin of “demagogic(ally) standing up to” America, wanting “Russia’s imperial greatness” restored.
Fact: Putin forthrightly opposes destructive US policies. So should everyone. He’s the preeminent world peace and stability leader. He says what he means and means what he says - bashed because of his anti-imperial policies.
He’s a mensch in the best sense of the term’s meaning - polar opposite criminal cabal gangsters running Washington, raping and destroying one country after another to achieve unchallenged dominion over planet earth, its resources and populations.
Times editors: “…Putin’s political opponents have been systematically imprisoned, driven into exile, harassed, intimidated and sometimes…killed.”
Rubbish! America is the world champion human and civil rights abuser at home and abroad. Thousands of political prisoners languish under horrific conditions in its global gulag - including by far the largest homeland prison system, the shame of the nation, incarcerating large numbers unjustly.
Times editors: “All the parliamentary election really showed was that those Russians who had once tried to shape a real democracy had been crushed or swept aside or had given up for now” - referring to the deplorable 1990s Boris Yeltsin years, permitting hugely destructive US shock therapy, causing mass impoverishment and unemployment.
Responsible editors wouldn’t let this type trash be published. Times editors disgracefully feature it daily - substituting propaganda for vital hard truths.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Faces Indefinite Solitary Confinement - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 21:47
Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Faces Indefinite Solitary Confinement
by Stephen Lendman
Solitary confinement isolation is torture by any standard - a flagrant international law, constitutional violation, its 8th Amendment prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishment” - standard practice in America, rendering rule of law governance null and void.
Longterm isolation crushes the human spirit, causing panic attacks, nightmares, dizziness, irrational anger, confusion, social withdrawal, memory and appetite loss, delusions and hallucinations, profound despair and hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia, among other symptoms.
It’s like being buried alive, at times causing irreversible trauma, turning otherwise normal human beings into mush - zombies.
The whole world knows Chelsea was wrongfully imprisoned for doing the right thing - exposing US war crimes, accountability entirely absent.
On September 9, she began hunger striking, protesting outrageous mistreatment, including “constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials,” she said - along with refusing vital gender dysphoria care she needs, involving gender-reassignment surgery.
On September 13, she again began ingesting food, five days after she stopped, after military authorities agreed to treat her dysphoric condition - while keeping her isolated in punishing solitary confinement.
Issuing a statement through her attorneys, she said she’s “unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing…This is all that I wanted - for them to let me be me.”
“But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long…(W)hy were such drastic measures needed” - exacerbating her suffering.
She still faces indefinite isolation on charges of attempted suicide, a desperate unsuccessful attempt to end her pain and suffering.
She faces disciplinary action later this month, prison authorities unlikely to mitigate her ordeal. 
Her deplorable mistreatment since arrested in May 2010 reveals the true character of state-sponsored gangsterism - viciousness, lawlessness, along with indifference to human needs and suffering its defining characteristics.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

The Playpen Story: Some Fourth Amendment Basics and Law Enforcement Hacking - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 04:34

It’s an old legal adage: bad facts make bad law. And the bad facts present in the Playpen prosecutions—the alleged possession and distribution of child porn, coupled with technology unfamiliar to many judges—have resulted in a number of troubling decisions concerning the Fourth Amendment’s protections in the digital age.

More in this series:

The Story of the FBI’s Unprecedented and Illegal Hacking Operation

Rule 41 and Global Hacking Warrants

Why the Warrant to Hack in the Playpen Case Was an Unconstitutional General Warrant

The Playpen Cases: Frequently Asked Questions

As we discussed in our previous post, courts have struggled to apply traditional rules limiting government searches—specifically, the Fourth Amendment, the Constitution's primary protection against governmental invasions of privacy—to the technology at issue in this case, in some cases finding that the Fourth Amendment offers no protection from government hacking at all. That's a serious problem.

In this post, we’ll do two things: explain the Fourth Amendment “events”—that is, the types of searches and seizures—that take place when the government uses malware, explain how some of the courts considering this issue have gone astray (and some have gotten it right), and what all this means for our digital rights.

Hacks, searches, seizures, and the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits warrantless law enforcement searches and seizures. A Fourth Amendment “search” occurs when the government intrudes on an area or information in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. A “seizure” occurs when the government substantially interferes with a person's property or their liberty.

As we’ve spelled out in an amicus brief filed in a number of the Playpen prosecutions, when the government hacks into a user’s computer, a series of significant Fourth Amendment searches and seizures occur:

Each use [of the government’s malware] caused three Fourth Amendment events to occur: (1) a seizure of the user’s computer; (2) a search of the private areas of that computer; and (3) a seizure of private information from the computer.

First, the government’s malware “seized” the user’s computer. More specifically, the execution of the government’s code on a user’s device “meaningful[ly] interfered” with the intended operation of the software: it turned a user’s computer into a tool for law enforcement surveillance. By hacking into the user’s device, the government exercised “dominion and control” over the device. And that type of interference and control over a device constitutes a “seizure” for Fourth Amendment purposes.

Next, the government’s code “searched” the device to locate certain specific information from the computer: the MAC address, the operating system running on the computer, and other identifying information. In this instance, where the search occurred is central to the Fourth Amendment analysis: here, the search was carried out on a user’s personal computer, likely located inside their home. Given the wealth of sensitive information on a computer and the historical constitutional protections normally afforded peoples' homes, a personal computer located within the home represents the fundamental core of the Fourth Amendment’s protections.

Finally, the government conducted a “seizure” when its malware copied and sent the information obtained from the user’s device over the internet and back to the FBI. (As an aside, it was sent unencrypted—but more on that in a later blog post about the evidentiary issues arising from these cases.) For its part, the government doesn’t even contest that the copying of this information is a seizure: it described that information as the “information to be seized” in the warrant.

Law enforcement deploying malware against a user in this way should, from a constitutional perspective, be understood the same way as if the search were carried out in the physical world: a police officer physically taking a computer away, looking through it for identifying information, and writing down the information the officer finds for later use. 

Fourth Amendment principles meet digital dissonance

In the physical world, courts would have no problem recognizing the Fourth Amendment consequences of law enforcement physically seizing and searching a computer. Yet, the Playpen cases, and the relatively unfamiliar technology at issue in them, have complicated the application of settled Fourth Amendment law.

Some courts have held that the Fourth Amendment was not implicated by the government’s malware, incorrectly focusing on the information obtained from the search—critically, the IP address—and not how and where the searches and seizures occurred. Those courts have relied on a separate line of cases that held that, when the government obtains an IP address from an ISP or other third party, the user lacks a reasonable expectation of privacy in the IP address, precisely because it was in the hands of a third party.

Even if we agreed with that precedent (generally, we don’t), it has no application to the Playpen cases. The government didn't obtain the IP address and other information from a third party: it got it directly from searching and seizing the user’s device. As one court correctly held:

The government is not permitted to conduct a warrantless search of a place in which a defendant has a reasonable expectation of privacy simply because it intends to seize property for which the defendant does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if [the defendant] had written his IP address [] down on a piece of paper and placed it on his desk in his home, the government would not be permitted to conduct a warrantless search of his home to obtain that IP address. The same is true here.

As we wrote before, one court went so far as to say that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy—and, thus, no Fourth Amendment protection—in a personal computer, located within a private home, because it was connected to the Internet. Personal computers inside the home should receive the greatest Fourth Amendment protection, not none at all, so it was deeply concerning to see a judge reach that conclusion.

Essentially, that court held that software vulnerabilities are akin to broken blinds in a person’s house, which allow the government to peer in and see illegal activity—an investigative technique that, although creepy, does not require a warrant. The court held that “Government actors who take advantage of an easily broken system to peer into a user’s computer” are essentially peering in through the digital equivalent of broken blinds.

Setting aside the difference between looking in a window from the street and actively hacking a computer, tying the protections of the Fourth Amendment to the relative strength of security measures sets a dangerous precedent. Many (if not most) physical security features, like a lock on a door, are easily defeated, yet no court would conclude that the government can warrantlessly search a home, simply because the lock could be picked.

What these decisions mean for the law of government hacking

There’s cause for concern about these decisions, but it’s not quite time to panic.

The legal rules that could ultimately flow from decisions, like those described above—that the government may warrantlessly search an electronic device so long as it is only obtaining information that, in other contexts, has been disclosed to a third party; or that the government’s ability to warrantlessly search devices is checked only by their technological capacity to do so—are very bad for privacy, to say the least.

Fortunately, the decisions so far have all been at the district court level. That means that although another court might consider the decision persuasive, the decisions do not establish legal rules that other courts or the government must follow. It will be critically important to watch these cases on appeal, though. Decisions of the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court are binding on other courts and the government, so the rules the Playpen cases generate on appeal will create lasting legal rules.

Nevertheless, the cases are still creating a body of troubling decisions in an area that, until now, was relatively lightly covered in the federal courts, creating a kind of bedrock layer of precedent for government hacking. Before the Playpen prosecutions, only a handful of decisions involving government hacking existed; when these cases are all said and done, there may be a hundred. That makes it all the more critical that we get these cases right—and set the right limits on government hacking—at the outset.

Related Cases: The Playpen Cases: Mass Hacking by U.S. Law Enforcement
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Pretending Farcical Syria Ceasefire Still in Force Mocks Reality - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 04:06

Pretending Farcical Syria Ceasefire Still in Force Mocks Reality
by Stephen Lendman
Obama’s war on long-suffering Syrians rages. Russia’s best efforts for ceasefire and conflict resolution failed - restoring peace and stability to the war-torn country unattainable with an adversary (not a legitimate partner) wanting war, regime change and Syrian sovereignty destroyed.
Believing otherwise is fantasy, betraying the pain and anguish of millions of Syrians deserving better.
No ceasefire exists. Not now, earlier or ahead as long as Washington’s imperial aims remain unchanged - intolerant of sovereign independent states, wanting pro-Western ones replacing them.
The likelihood of Hillary succeeding Obama assures escalated war, maybe shock-and-awe terror-bombing to kill Assad and topple his government.
What can Russia gain by negotiating with a sworn enemy bent on its destruction? Why does it expect a different result from repeated failures so far, doing much the same thing over and over again - Einstein’s definition of insanity!
How can it breathe life into a dead-on-arrival Syria ceasefire? Why does it foolishly think America is its partner for peace when clear evidence shows otherwise - day after day after days of endless war.
On the sidelines of the 71st General Assembly meeting in New York, International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) members met, co-chaired by Moscow and Washington, mostly comprised of countries supporting Syria regime change. They maintained the fantasy of ceasefire while neocon US policymakers and their rogue allies want war, not peace.
State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby lied, claiming “an imperative to pursue a nationwide cessation of hostilities (remains in place) based on the arrangement reached last week in Geneva…”
Russia wants it affirmed by Security Council resolution so its terms and obligations are publicly known. Washington wants secrecy to continue violations unaccountably.
John Kerry sounded buffoon-like declaring “ceasefire is not dead.” Sergey Lavrov apparently went along with the charade after both ministers met on the sidelines of the General Assembly proceedings.
Fact: Ceasefire is dead. No amount of breathing life into its corpse will revive it. The sooner Russia accepts reality and acknowledges dealing with a duplicitous adversary, the greater chance for eventual help for long-suffering Syrians.
The only way to restore peace and stability is by smashing all anti-government forces - US-supported death squads bent on Syria’s destruction, not a moderate among them.
Negotiating with imperial America assures continued failure and greater disaster than already. I’ve stressed before the only language it understands is force.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Join the Movement for Community Control Over Police Surveillance - Thu, 22/09/2016 - 03:22

From cell-site simulators in New York to facial recognition devices in San Diego, law enforcement surveillance technologies are spreading across the country like an infectious disease. It’s almost epidemiological: one police department will adopt a new, invasive tool, and then the next and the next, often with little or no opportunity for the citizens to weigh in on what’s needed or appropriate for their communities. Sometimes even elected officials and judges have no idea how technologies are being used by the police under their supervision. 

2016 is the year we start to turn it around. In California, we helped pass legislation to require transparency and public hearings on technologies such as cell-site simulators and automated license plate readers before they can be adopted by cities and counties. Specifically, earlier this year, the County of Santa Clara passed a groundbreaking ordinance limiting how and when law enforcement can adopt new surveillance technologies.

Today, EFF joins the ACLU and a diverse coalition of civil liberties organizations in launching the new campaign for Community Control Over Police Surveillance. This nationwide effort will pass ordinances on the local level that ensure that all affected communities will have a voice in deciding whether police may acquire a new surveillance tool. Without this reform, such decisions too often are made only by local law enforcement officials seeking to acquire the latest, shiny tools; by the federal government seeking to spread “anti-terrorism” funds and its own military-grade tech; and by the vendors aggressively marketing these devices to police departments.

The #TakeCTRL movement seeks to pass ordinances similar to that adopted by Santa Clara in 11 key and politically diverse municipalities across the country: New York City; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; Miami Beach and Pensacola, Florida; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Muskegon, Michigan; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Palo Alto, California.

While each ordinance will be tailored to the needs of each municipality, all will be grounded in these eight critical principles:

1) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without prior express city council approval.

2) Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.

3) The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.

4) The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.

5) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.

6) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.

7) To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.

8) City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.

This movement is supported by a wide variety of national groups, including EFF, the ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, NAACP, National Network of Arab American Communities, Restore the Fourth, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the Tenth Amendment Center.

This effort is crucial for society at large, but it is especially important to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. As the ACLU articulates:

The increasing, secret use of surveillance technologies by local police, especially against communities of color and other unjustly targeted and politically unpopular groups, is creating oppressive, stigmatizing environments in which every community member is treated like a prospective criminal. The overuse of surveillance technologies has turned many non-white and poor neighborhoods into fishbowls, and some into virtual prisons, where their residents’ public behavior is monitored and scrutinized 24 hours a day. 

The ACLU has put together the ultimate resource guide for the Community Control Over Police Surveillance at, where you can learn more about the principles, the technologies, the targeted cities, and how you can get involved. We also encourage you to learn from the work EFF is doing on these issues through our Street-Level Surveillance hub.

This effort may not be the ultimate antidote to the plague of invasive police tech, but we believe that it will help build up the antibodies to ensure that our communities become resistant to unchecked surveillance. 

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NYT Despicably Blames Russia for Monday's Syria Humanitarian Convoy Attack Carried Out by US-Supported Terrorists - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 21:06
NYT Despicably Blames Russia for Monday’s Syria Humanitarian Convoy Attack Carried Out by US-Supported Terrorists
by Stephen Lendman
It’s a good time to repeat what I’ve said before. All the news The Times claims fit to print isn’t fit to read.
Rubbish substitutes - misinformation and Big Lies on geopolitical issues, especially when America wages naked aggression against invented enemies.
The Times report on Monday’s Syria humanitarian convoy attack reads like Pentagon/administration-scripted deception, citing unnamed US officials, turning truth on its head saying “Russia was probably responsible for the” attack.
The self-styled newspaper of record ignored clear evidence, showing no bombing occurred as falsely reported, no craters that would have resulted from air-to-surface munitions.
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid were struck by ground fire, US-supported terrorists responsible for what happened.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement minced no words, saying “(w)e are considering, with resentment and indignation, attempts by some foreign curators of rebel units and terrorists in Syria to put the blame for the incident on the Russian and Syrian Aerospace Forces who allegedly bombarded a relief convoy.”
“Such attempts, which are unconfirmed by any facts, are designed, among other things, to distract attention from” US warplanes deliberately and maliciously terror-bombing Syrian forces days earlier, massacring or injuring around 160 soldiers.
Sergey Lavrov explained Syrian warplanes weren’t responsible. They only fly during daylight hours. The attack occurred “during the hours of darkness…at the moment when the humanitarian cargo was being unloaded in eastern Aleppo.”
Facts never get in the way of deplorable Times reporting, saying “the Pentagon has determined with ‘very high probability’ that a Russian Su-24 attack plane was directly over the convoy less than a minute before the airstrike was reported.” 
“American officials said their intelligence information suggested Russian aircraft had actually carried out the attack” - a bald-faced lie The Times failed to debunk. 
Instead it compounded things by claiming last Saturday’s US terror-bombing killing or wounding around 160 Syrian soldiers was “an errant American airstrike…”
A previous article asked why anyone still reads the NYT, a mouthpiece for imperial power when America goes to war - turning journalism into presstitution.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Hillary's Duplicitous Op-Ed on Helping America's Poor - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 20:53
Hillary’s Duplicitous Op-Ed on Helping America’s Poor
by Stephen Lendman
New York Times editors serve as her press agent, shamelessly calling an unindicted war criminal, racketeer, perjurer, Wall Street tool “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history” - a deplorable perversion of truth.
They gave her feature op-ed space to claim she intends helping America’s poor as president she harmed consistently throughout her public life. She’s no progressive and never was - destructively neoliberal, certain to stay that way.
As virtual co-president with husband Bill for eight years, she was instrumental in getting jobs-destroying NAFTA enacted. As presidential aspirant, she earlier called TPP (NAFTA on steroids) “the gold standard in trade agreements to open, free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”
As first lady, she supported racist get tough on crime policies, saying “(w)e need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders” affecting America’s poor, largely people of color, the war on drugs alone incarcerating countless thousands unjustly.
In the 1990s, she cheerled so-called welfare reform, eviscerating safety net protection for America’s most needy, supported it as New York senator and during her 2008 presidential campaign - despite studies showing poor families gravely harmed, deepening poverty affecting growing millions instead of alleviating it.
Now saying in her Times op-ed “(t)he true measure of any society is how we take care of our children” belies her longstanding contempt for their welfare.
Her lofty rhetoric about wanting “no child…ever hav(ing) to grow up in poverty” ignores the ravages of anti-populist policies she supports.
Claiming “(a)dvocating for children and families has been the cause of my life” is a despicable perversion of cold, hard facts.
Citing a Census Bureau report citing fewer Americans living in poverty in 2015 than a year earlier, omitted explaining other Census data showing around half of US households impoverished or bordering it - when most jobs available are rotten ones paying poverty wages, at a time vital social benefits like food stamps are being cut and proper healthcare is unaffordable for growing millions, Obamacare a failed experiment.
Claiming as president she’ll “help families lift themselves out of poverty (by) mak(ing) it easier to find good-paying jobs” flies in the face of bipartisan support for offshoring them to low-wage countries.
Saying “we also need a national commitment to create more affordable housing” ignores nothing in her public record supporting it.
Her lofty rhetoric belies her serial lying, her contempt for progressive policies throughout her public life, supporting wealth, power and privilege exclusively, along with America’s imperial wars, high crimes against peace.
The Times gave her feature op-ed space to lie, distort, deceive and claim an agenda polar opposite how she’d operate as president - ignoring all phony promises made campaigning.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Obama's Last General Assembly Address As Duplicitous As His First - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 20:42
Obama’s Last General Assembly Address As Duplicitous As His First
by Stephen Lendman
His legacy is deplorable, serving wealth, power and privileged interests at the expense of most others.
Independent historians will remember him as an unindicted war criminal, Wall Street tool, demagogic serial liar, along with wrecker of hopes and dreams of millions of Americans enduring mass unemployment, underemployment, poverty and deprivation under protracted Main Street Depression conditions he did nothing to alleviate.
He lied during his first General Assembly address, claiming “determin(ation) to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad.”
Instead, he delivered misery to growing millions, harshness to whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing, lavish handouts to corporate crooks at the expense of beneficial social change he’s fundamentally against.
Promising “real change,” he delivered betrayal throughout his tenure, a despicable record harming millions worldwide, waging multiple wars on humanity at home and abroad, facilitating the greatest wealth transfer from ordinary people to America’s super-rich in its history.
On September 20, he delivered his final General Assembly address - as demagogic and duplicitous as his first. It made painful reading like all his remarks, entirely lacking candor and straightforwardness, substituting misinformation and Big Lies for hard truths.
Regression, not progress, defined his tenure. He lied claiming he returned America “(f)rom the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time” to global growth - only for the privileged few at home and abroad.
He lied about a new chapter with Cuba. Economic blockade remains largely unchanged, political relations uneasy because Washington wants its sovereign state recolonized.
He lied claiming America helps “people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence.”
He lied saying US dominated world financial institutions are more representative. They’re more controlled by powerful monied interests.
He lied saying America led the way in “protect(ing) our planet from the ravages of climate change. He noted Middle East turmoil without acknowledging America’s responsibility.
“(G)overnments muzzl(e) journalists and (quash) dissent,” he said, not explaining his police apparatus operates this way in America.
“Terrorist networks…prey upon the minds of our youths,” he noted, failing to explain Washington’s responsibility for creating and supporting them.
Claiming today’s post-Cold War world is “less violent and more prosperous than ever before” flies in the face of reality.
He hyped the importance of “accountable governance…democracy…human rights and (observance of) international law” - notions America reviles.
Saying “(the) integration of our global economy has made life better for billions of people” mocks horrific suffering worldwide from US imperial wars, neoliberal harshness and tyranny.
“(A)chievements” he cited don’t exist, most people in America, the West and elsewhere enduring harder than ever hard times under uncaring ruthless regimes, many claiming democratic credentials.
He outdid his predecessors in turning America into a plutocratic, militaristic gangster state, the world’s most reviled nation for good reason.
Mass murdering people makes enemies, America’s deplorable record far surpassing any previous rogue state in history.
Obama claiming it’s “a force for good” ignores its pure evil. Waging endless wars at home and abroad threaten humanity like never before.
Its rage for dominance may kill us all, especially with neocon lunatics in charge - Hillary scariest of all if she succeeds Obama, what’s most likely looking ahead to next year, perhaps an apocalyptical one with her in charge.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Ban Ki-moon's Deplorable General Assembly Address - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 20:25
Ban Ki-moon’s Deplorable General Assembly Address
by Stephen Lendman
Washington installed him to serve its interests, impartial leadership forbidden at the world body, Ban a loyal imperial servant throughout his tenure, to be well rewarded when stepping down at yearend.
His September 20 General Assembly address followed the US propaganda playbook, a deplorable example of fealty to higher power controlling him - reading the script his imperial handlers handed him.
He disgracefully blamed Syria for Obama’s war, demagogically blaming a victimized country for imperial crimes.
“(T)he government of Syria…continues to barrel bomb (sic) neighborhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees,” he ranted - barely stopping short of blaming its government and Russia for the Monday US-supported humanitarian convoy terrorist attack, instead of laying blame where it belongs.
He practically called for illegally ousting democratically elected/overwhelmingly popular Bashar al-Assad, saying “the future of Syria should not rest on the fate of a single man” - instead of saying international law affirms the right of Syrians alone to decide who’ll lead them, free from outside interference.
He issued no apology for ten deplorable years as UN secretary-general, a disgraceful imperial tool throughout his tenure.
He lied saying he’s “been a proud defender of the rights of all people…” He lied claiming upholding human rights topped his agenda. 
He lied claiming the pro-Western International Criminal Court and other world bodies “advanced accountability.”
He failed to explain humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect are code words, justifying unjustifiable US-led war on humanity.
He lied saying he supports “freedoms of assembly and expression.” He feigned concern for Palestinian rights he doesn’t give a damn about.
He blamed North Korea for acting in its own self-defense against America and its rogue allies, threatening its security and survival.
He failed to condemn Ukraine’s US-installed, Nazi-infested putschist regime, waging war on its own people.
He ignored Washington’s responsibility for the severest refugee crisis since WW II, its imperial wars displacing many millions.
He lied claiming “inroads (made) against the death penalty” - US imperial wars the clearest example of its industrial scale use.
Throughout his 10-year tenure, world conditions became more violent and unstable, US imperial wars he supports bearing full responsibility.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry reacted to his deplorable pro-Western views on continuing conflict in its country, saying:
“The Syrian Arab Republic stresses its commitment to the right of the Syrian people in determining their future in accordance with the UN’s Charter.”
“The UN, during the term of Ban Ki-moon, has deviated from its role in reaching fair solutions to the current international issues and couldn’t solve any international problem.”
“Rather the accusations and cries of the oppressed people due to the UN’s bias towards dominating states echoed loud in protest of the UN and Ban Ki-moon’s stances.”
“(W)e hoped that Ban Ki-moon’s last statement would be ‘significant,’ “ - accurately summarizing his record as UN Secretary-General. 
He failed to explain he was and remains a loyal spear carrier for empire, an enemy of peace and stability, an apologist for genocidal wars, criminally culpable for violating UN Charter principles he swore to uphold.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

BaycloudSystems Joins EFF's Do Not Track Coalition - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 11:12

Baycloud Systems has become the latest company to join the EFF’s Do Not Track (DNT) coalition, which opposes the tracking of users without their consent. Baycloud designs systems to help companies and users monitor and manage tracking cookies. Based in the UK, it provides thousands of sites across Europe with tools for compliance with European Union (EU) data protection laws.

In contrast to the U.S., with its scant legislative privacy protection and weak self-regulatory system, EU data protection law requires companies that collect user data to provide a legal basis for using it--the most important aspect of which is user consent. And this requirement has real teeth: the new General Data Protection Regulations mean that companies will soon face serious fines of up to 2 or 4 percent (depending on the violation) of worldwide turnover.

EU rules also require user consent before a site sets cookies, and public disclosure of information as to their purpose (such as feature functionality or behavioral profiling). Although the cookie rules have been applied unevenly and have not stopped tracking, the principle requiring user consent is sound.

But what are users consenting to? Companies often hide ridiculously wide claims of consent in their terms and conditions, knowing that hardly anyone will read or understand them. The consequences of consenting to tracking should be made clear and offer the user an informed choice, as our partner Medium does when you log in:

Medium's login interface offering clear information for DNT users.


Baycloud has developed a browser extension for Chrome, Bouncer, to give users more power over how they use DNT. Once set, the browser sends the DNT signal to every site visited. Bouncer monitors the DNT interaction with the webserver, shows the user what cookies are being set and checks if the site complies with DNT. If a site does not respect the DNT signal, and wants to run wild with your private information, Bouncer also blocks tracking cookies.

Bouncer also implements the standard Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) interface so that sites can record in the browser if users have consented to being tracked. A control panel enables users to edit their consent settings for individual sites. Users may exempt sites because of a belief that their data won't be abused or willingness to trade data in exchange for services.

Bouncer DNT Check interface

Bouncer checks for two different flavors of DNT: that drawn up by the EFF coalition, and the Tracking Compliance and Scope” proposal still under discussion at the W3C.

Sadly, the W3C document has too many loopholes to deliver adequate protection for users. Ad companies, for example, can decide how much data collection is 'reasonably necessary and proportionate' for the billing and audit ad payments, or to monitor how often ads are shown to specific users. Behind this jargon hides a back door for tracking: these exceptions would permit companies to keep a record of a user's browsing habits. Such principles are too vague and flimsy to serve as an acceptable standard for the Web. That's why the EFF has built a coalition behind its own policy.

But the W3C has done important work on the technical aspects of the DNT signal which will provide the machinery for whatever policy finally wins out. The ability to selectively manage and fine tune consent is important for its adoption by publishers who can then hope to persuade users of their bona fides or value. Baycloud has been a leading contributor to that work and we're thrilled to have them on our side in the campaign to fix the problem of online tracking.

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Update: EFF Fights to End Court Case Against MuckRock - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 07:59

After successfully defending MuckRock’s First Amendment right to host public records on its website earlier this summer, EFF filed documents in court on Monday seeking to end the last lawsuit brought against it in Seattle.

The lawsuit was one of three filed by companies against MuckRock, one of its users, and the city of Seattle after the user filed a public records request in April seeking information about the city’s smart utility meter program, including documentation of the technology’s security.

The lawsuits were all aimed at preventing disclosure of records the companies claimed contained trade secrets. In one of the cases, a company obtained a court order requiring MuckRock to de-publish two documents from its website that the city had previously released. A court quickly reversed that clear violation of MuckRock’s First Amendment rights and MuckRock put the public records back online.

After the dust settled, companies in two of the lawsuits agreed to dismiss MuckRock. This occurred after EFF explained that the website is an online platform that hosts its users public records requests and any documents they receive. As such, MuckRock did not actually request the records subject to the lawsuits and merely facilitated and hosted the request by its user.

MuckRock thus has no particular interest in the lawsuits because the underlying dispute is about whether certain documents contained trade secrets that must be redacted or withheld under Washington state’s public records law.

The company in the third case, however, has refused to dismiss MuckRock. This is particularly curious because MuckRock currently does not host any documents from the company, Elster Solutions, LLC, that are subject to the public records request.

EFF’s motion asks the federal court hearing the suit to dismiss MuckRock for two reasons.

First, the motion argues that Elster has failed to allege that MuckRock has done anything wrong that would make it subject to the lawsuit.

Second, the court cannot entertain any claims against MuckRock because it is immune from suit under 47 U.S.C. § 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act (often referred to as Section 230).

Section 230 provides broad protections for online platforms such as MuckRock, shielding them from liability based on the activities of users who post content to their websites. Given that broad immunity, MuckRock cannot be sued for hosting public records sought by one of its users regardless of whether they contain trade secrets.

We are hopeful that the court will dismiss MuckRock from the suit and allow it to focus on maintaining and improving its online public records platform. EFF also thanks our local counsel, Venkat Balasubramani of FOCAL PLLC, for his assistance with the motion.

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Facebook's Nudity Ban Affects All Kinds of Users - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 07:28

Facebook’s recent censorship of the iconic AP photograph of nine year-old Kim Phúc fleeing naked from a napalm bombing, has once again brought the issue of commercial content moderation to the fore. Although Facebook has since apologized for taking the photo down from the page of Norwegian publication Aftenposten, the social media giant continues to defend the policy that allowed the takedown to happen in the first place.

The policy in question is a near-blanket ban on nudity. Although the company has carved out some exceptions to the policy—for example, for “photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures”—and admits that their policies can “sometimes be more blunt than we would like and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes,” in practice the ban on nudity has a widespread effect on the ability of its users to exercise their freedom of expression on the platform.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders called on Facebook to “add respect for the journalistic values of photos to these rules.” But it’s not just journalists who are affected by Facebook’s nudity ban. While it may seem particularly egregious when the policy is applied to journalistic content, its effect on ordinary users—from Aboriginal rights activists to breastfeeding moms to Danish parliamentarians who like to photograph mermaid statues—is no less damaging to the principles of free expression. If we argue that Facebook should make exceptions for journalism, then we are ultimately placing Facebook in the troubling position of deciding who is or isn’t a legitimate journalist, across the entire world.

Reporters Without Borders also called on the company to “ensure that their rules are never more severe than national legislations.” Indeed, while it is now largely accepted that social media companies take down content in response to requests from governments, the idea that these companies should temper their rules to be more in line with the liberal policies of other governments—to keep up nudity that violates no local regulation, and is inoffensive by the societal standards of many countries outside the United States—has not yet entered the public discussion.

Despite recent statements and certain exceptions, Facebook certainly doesn’t see nude imagery as a component of freedom of expression. In a letter to the Norwegian prime minister in which she apologized for the recent gaffe, the company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote that “sometimes … the global and historical importance of a photo like ‘Terror of War’ outweighs the importance of keeping nudity off Facebook”. What Facebook hasn’t explained, however, is why it’s so important to keep nudity off the platform.

The company’s Community Standards state that the display of nudity is restricted “because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content - particularly because of their cultural background or age.” Facebook’s concern for this unnamed set of users rings hollow, perhaps because the fear of getting blocked by conservative authoritarian governments is more likely the real impetus behind the policy.

As a company, nothing obliges Facebook to adhere to the principles of freedom of expression. The company has the right to convey, or remove, whatever content it chooses. But a near-blanket ban on nudity certainly contradicts the company’s mission of making the world more open and connected.

So what should Facebook do? Short of getting rid of the policy altogether, there are several simple changes the company could make that would place it more in line with both its own mission and the spirit of free expression.

First, Facebook could stop conflating nudity with sexuality, and sexuality with pornography by making changes to their user reporting mechanism. Currently, when users attempt to report such content, their first option reads: “This is nudity or pornography,” with “sexual arousal,” “sexual acts” and “people soliciting sex” as examples listed below. This creates a blurry line between non-sexual nudity (which is legal and uncontroversial in a number of jurisdictions in which the company operates) and sexual content.

Facebook's reporting mechanism conflates mere nudity with sexuality

Another option would be to apply content warnings . Facebook already employs such warnings for graphic violence (a subject that promotes greater concern in much of northern Europe than nude imagery) and could easily roll them out to apply to nudity as well. The company could institute different guidelines for public and private content as well, allowing nudity on friends-only feeds, for instance. .

Facebook could also consider whether its ban on female nipples—but not male ones—is a just policy. A number of countries and regions throughout the world have equalized policies toward toplessness, but Facebook’s policy remains regressive, and discriminatory. Furthermore, it often affects transgender users, an already vulnerable population.

Finally, Facebook could reconsider the punitive bans it places on users who violate the policy. Currently, users who violate the policy first have their content taken down, while a second violation typically results in a 24-hour ban—the same length of time meted out for seemingly more egregious policy violations.

All of these would help mitigate the confusion, concern and accusations of censorship, that incidents like the Kim Phúc takedown provoke. But if Facebook wants to avoid being seen as the world’s arbitrary and prudish censor, the company should perhaps spend more time thinking—and articulating—about why a ban on nudity is so important in the first place.


Has your content been taken down, or your account suspended, on a social media platform? Report your experience now on, a project of EFF and Visualizing Impact which aims to find out how social media companies’ policies affect global expression.

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US-Backed Terrorists Attacked Syria Humanitarian Convoy - Wed, 21/09/2016 - 01:46
US-Backed Terrorists Attacked Syria Humanitarian Convoy
by Stephen Lendman
America and its rogue allies support all terrorist groups operating in Syria, including elements falsely called “moderates” - one of the many Big Lies about Obama’s war.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov categorically denied his government or Syria’s involvement in attacking a UN/Syria Red Crescent humanitarian convoy on Monday, destroying at least 18 trucks, killing and wounding numerous aid workers.
US-supported Jabhat al-Nusra carried out a large-scale attack on the vehicles after reaching their destination and began unloading cargo.
The convoy was struck by artillery and rocket launchers. Video evidence showed no signs of craters that would have resulted from air-to-surface explosives.
Russian drones monitored the convoy’s movements until reaching its destination, ceasing surveillance after it arrived, a tactical error as things turned out, knowing US-supported terrorists infested the area.
Vehicles were struck by ground fire. Their chassis were intact, showing they weren’t struck by aerial bombs or missiles.
Targeted trucks were set ablaze “exactly at the time militants started a large scale offensive on Aleppo,” said Konashenkov.
UN humanitarian aid convoys are now suspended, long-suffering Syrians desperately needing help unable to get it - victims of US imperial viciousness.
Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry are meeting on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly meeting in New York - another futile discussion sure to accomplish nothing.
How much more US betrayal can Russia take before acknowledging the pointlessness of negotiating with a duplicitous adversary - bent on replacing its sovereign independence with pro-Western puppet governance.
Russia should go all-out to eliminate the US-supported and controlled terrorist scourge ravaging Syria - heading for its own heartland otherwise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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