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Former Secret Service Agent's Book Blasts Hillary Clinton

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 22:26

Former Secret Service Agent’s Book Blasts Hillary Clinton
by Stephen Lendman
In the 1990s, former Secret Service agent Gary J. Byrne served in the White House, posted outside Bill Clinton’s Oval Office.
His new book scheduled for release in late June is titled “Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate.”
Details of the book are largely under wraps. A description posted on Amazon states the following:
“Posted directly outside President Clinton’s Oval Office, Former Secret Service uniformed officer Gary Byrne reveals what he observed of Hillary Clinton’s character and the culture inside the White House while protecting the First Family.” 
“Now that a second Clinton administration threatens - their scheme from the very beginning - Byrne exposes what he saw of the real Hillary Clinton.”
“While serving as a Secret Service Officer, (he) protected President Bill Clinton and the First Family in the White House and outside the Oval Office.” 
“There, he saw the political and personal machinations of Bill and Hillary Clinton and those who were fiercely loyal to them. In CRISIS OF CHARACTER, (he) provides a firsthand account of the scandals - known and unknown - and daily trials ranging from the minor to national in scale.”
“Having witnessed the personal and political dysfunction of the Clinton White House - so consumed by scandal and destroying their enemies, real and imagined - Byrne came to understand that, to the Clintons, governing was an afterthought.” 
“He now tells this story - before voters go to the polls - in the hopes that Clinton supporters will understand the real Hillary Clinton.”
According to Byrne, “she simply lacks the integrity and temperament to serve” as president. She and husband Bill “must never again be allowed to put your children at risk. What I saw in the 1990s sickened me.” 
Her “volcanic, impulsive” leadership style is “disdainful of the rules set for everyone else…”
Investigative journalist Ron Kessler’s book titled “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents” reported agents assigned to Hillary after husband Bill left office saying protecting her was a detested assignment.
They called her marriage “fake,” one of convenience, solely for political reasons, to advance her outsized ambitions.
She’s mean and nasty, “really rude to almost everybody,” treating people “like (they’re) beneath her.”
According to Kessler, she once responded to a Secret Service agent’s “good morning, ma’am” greeting by saying “(f)..k off.”
In public, she smiles and acts graciously. “As soon as the cameras are gone, her angry personality, nastiness and imperiousness become evident.”
She “make(s) Richard Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi.” She’s arrogant, never thanks agents, treats them like “hired help.”
Byrne said “(t)he Clintons treat running the free world like a damn part-time job…Maybe I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen enough” to know the crucial urgency of preventing a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Disturbing Reality in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 22:23

Disturbing Reality in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Endless war continues with no prospect for peace because Washington rejects it - wanting overwhelmingly popular Bashar al-Assad forcibly ousted, knowing he won’t step down voluntarily nor should he.
International law supports him. Syrians alone may decide who'll lead them, free from foreign interference.
All armed opposition groups in Syria engaged in combat against government forces along with slaughtering defenseless civilians are terrorists.
Washington and its rogue allies support them - imported death squads unable to exist without foreign backing.
No so-called “moderate rebels” exist. Speaking last October at the International Valdai Discussion Club’s annual meeting, Putin forthrightly said “(w)hy play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What’s the difference?”
Without naming them, he accused some countries of playing a double game, pretending to fight terrorism while supporting it.
“Success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if (some of them are) us(ed) as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes. It’s just an illusion that they can be dealt with (later), removed from power and somehow negotiated with,” Putin stressed.
Russia intervened in Syria at the request of its government to defeat terrorism, prevent its spread and restore peace - goals distant from accomplishing because US imperial aims are polar opposite.
On June 5, Syria’s Foreign Ministry sent identical letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and current Security Council president Francois Delattre, France’s UN envoy.
It minced no words, saying armed groups anti-Syrian Western and regional countries call “moderate opposition” forces along with internationally designated Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists are indiscriminately attacking areas in and around Aleppo - shelling them with rockets, mortars and gas cylinder bombs, slaughtering civilians, injuring hundreds more.
These Western and regionally supported attacks are “part of the series of the systematic terrorist acts plotted and prepared by the Turkish regime and perpetrated by the ‘moderate opposition’ groups in cooperation and coordination with Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates such as Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Fatah among others,” the letters explained.
What’s ongoing represents “a blatant attempt by the regime of Erdogan and the other regimes supporting and sponsoring terrorism in Riyadh and Doha to undermine the efforts seeking to stop the bloodshed and to foil the Geneva talks and the truce arrangements.”
US, UK and French refusal to designate Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and other groups waging war on Syria and its people as terrorist organizations reveals their support for the scourge they claim to oppose.
Separately days earlier, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said  ongoing terrorist attacks “wouldn’t have been possible without support of the states that are financing and arming” these groups.
Damascus demands responsible Security Council action it won’t get because Washington wants war, not peace, pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereignty. If Syria goes, Iran is next, its independence targeted the same way.
The time for Russia to challenge America’s regional imperial agenda is now. Failure to act likely means facing a greater threat later on.
Last October at the International Valdai Discussion Club, Putin said Russia intervened in Syria “(f)irst and foremost (to) protect the interests of Russia and the Russian people.”
At the same time, Syria’s collapse “will only mobilize terrorists,” he said, creating a greater problem than already. 
“If the fight is inevitable, be the first to strike,” he stressed. It bears repeating. The time for Russia to act is now - without further delay!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

NY Governor Cuomo Declares War on BDS

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 22:21
NY Governor Cuomo Declares War on BDS
by Stephen Lendman
BDS is the most effective way to challenge Israel’s vicious persecution of Palestinians and its own Arab citizens - deserving universal support and encouragement.
First Amendment rights matter most. Without them all others are at risk. Targeting BDS is part of a slippery slope campaign toward full-blown tyranny.
The right to dissent is fundamental, constitutionally guaranteed, fast eroding in America, a police state masquerading as democratic. 
On June 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 157, “directing state entities to divest all public funds supporting the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.”
“We are against the BDS movement, and it’s very simple,” he said. “New York stands in solidarity with Israel today and always.” 
Cuomo expressed “unwavering support for” its nonexistent democracy, ruthless oppression of fundamental Palestinian rights, wars at its discretion, and longstanding barbarity exceeded only by America’s permanent war on humanity.
Resisting tyranny is fundamental, a universal right, BDS a responsible, courageous, vital campaign for justice. Cuomo turned truth on its head, calling it “hateful (and) intolerant,” ignoring Israeli high crimes of war and against humanity, its regime a nuclear-armed regional scourge.
Separately he twittered “I am signing an Executive Order that says very clearly we are against the BDS movement. If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you” - a flagrant constitutional breach, standard practice in America.
In 2005, George W. Bush infamously said: “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper.” The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia claimed it “means whatever we want it to mean.”
NY state is home to over 1.7 million Jews, (about 1.1 million in NYC), the largest Jewish community outside Israel, most of its members indifferent to or mindless of rogue state policies they support.
At the same time, growing numbers of US Jews nationwide oppose occupation harshness and institutionalized apartheid worse than South Africa’s. Media scoundrels suppress what’s vital to explain, expressing one-sided support for what demands condemnation.
Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David said his executive order applies to any boycott targeting Israel. Various states are taking similar action. A Republican-sponsored bill passed the NY State Senate.
Cuomo called legislation “tedious” so he acted unilaterally on his own, urging other governors to follow suit.
BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti said efforts targeting the campaign aim to “shield Israel from accountability.” Boycott is “a time-honored tactic of resisting injustice…a form of protected speech.”
Calling BDS anti-Semitic is a gross perversion of truth, a thinly veiled scheme to smear a vital initiative.
NY Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman said Cuomo’s executive order will be closely examined.
“Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views, it raises serious First Amendment concerns and this is no exception,” she stressed.
Is federal anti-BDS legislation just a matter of time, driving another nail in the heart of fundamental freedoms fast disappearing!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

3 Years Later, the Snowden Leaks Have Changed How the World Sees NSA Surveillance

eff.org - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 04:03

Three years ago today, the world got powerful confirmation that the NSA was spying on the digital lives of hundreds of millions of innocent people. It started with a secret order written by the FISA court authorizing the mass surveillance of Verizon Business telephone records—an order that members of Congress quickly confirmed was similar to orders that had been issued every 3 months for years. Over the next year, we saw a steady drumbeat of damning evidence, creating a detailed, horrifying picture of an intelligence agency unrestrained by Congress and shielded from public oversight by a broken classification system.

The leaks were thanks in large part to whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been living in Russia for the last three years, unable to return to the United States for fear of spending his life behind bars. Faced with charges under the Espionage Act, Snowden would be charged as if he were an agent of a foreign power who had given secrets to enemies of the United States, rather than as a whistleblower who worked with a team of reputable, award-winning journalists to bring public attention to a corrupt surveillance system. But Snowden’s motivations—and the impact of the leaks—were clearly to benefit the public. He has talked about his strong interest in restoring privacy to the Internet, stating “I remember what the Internet was like before it was being watched, and there's never been anything in the history of man that's like it.”

The Snowden leaks caused a sea change in the policy landscape related to surveillance. EFF worked with dozens of coalition partners across the political spectrum to pass the USA Freedom Act, the first piece of legislation to rein in NSA spying in over thirty years—a bill that would have been unthinkable without the Snowden leaks. They also set the stage for a major showdown in Congress over Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the controversial section of law set to expire in 2017 that the government claims authorizes much of the NSA’s Internet surveillance.

The Snowden leaks were fundamental to EFF’s impact litigation strategy. Our legal team has launched three cases directly challenging the legal and constitutional grounds of NSA mass surveillance—First Unitarian v. NSA, Jewel v NSA, and our flagship case Hepting v AT&T. We are also engaged in FOIA litigation to uncover more about NSA spying and we serve as amicus in several key cases challenging NSA surveillance in the United States. The Snowden leaks and statements made by public officials responding to the leaks corroborated and provided vital details about NSA surveillance practices, which we’re using in our court cases.

Perhaps most importantly, the Snowden leaks published over the last three years have helped to realign a broken relationship between the intelligence community and the public. Whistleblowers often serve as a last-resort failsafe when there are no other methods of bringing accountability to secretive processes. The Snowden leaks have helped illuminate how the NSA was operating outside the law with near impunity, and this in turn drove an international conversation about the dangers of near-omniscient surveillance of our digital communications.

That conversation isn’t finished, and won’t be until the NSA surveillance wiretaps of the Internet are unplugged for good. But today, we’re thankful to the many brave whistleblowers who have made this public discussion possible, the investigative journalists who have worked doggedly to unpack these complex issues, the many advocacy organizations, technologists, and lawyers working with us to challenge these practices, and the countless EFF members and supporters who fight along side us.

Check out our roundup of 65 things we know thanks to the Snowden leaks, our timeline of NSA domestic surveillance (dating back to well before Snowden!), our game plan for ending mass surveillance, and our guide to defending yourself against surveillance. Also, please join EFF as a member to support our work to fight surveillance.

Related Cases: Jewel v. NSAHepting v. AT&TFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Categories: Aggregated News

Most European Nations Act More Like US Colonies Than Sovereign States

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 01:53
Most European Nations Act More Like US Colonies Than Sovereign States
by Stephen Lendman
Instead of declaring their independence, most European nations let Washington pressure, bully and bribe them to go along with its imperial agenda, harming their own national security.
Economic powerhouse Germany remains occupied since WW II ended, permitting numerous US bases on its territory, some jointly operated, harming its security, not protecting it.
Instead of normalizing relations with Russia, a reliable ally, Die Welt newspaper said a new Defense Ministry White Paper near completion lists it as one of Germany’s 10 major threats, despite no credible evidence suggesting it - plenty proving otherwise.
Other threats include international terrorism - without explaining it’s US created and Berlin supported. Terrorist groups can’t exist without state sponsors.
According to sources quoting what the report says, Russia is Germany’s key rival, using “hybrid instruments to blur the boundaries between war and peace…undermin(ing) other states.”
Moscow’s military strength (almost entirely on its own territory, solely for defense and fighting terrorism in Syria), technological capability, nonexistent “aggression,” reunification with Crimea, and ability to influence public opinion are contrived reasons for considering Moscow a key rival and threat, not a partner - despite Putin urging cooperative relations with all nations, the world’s preeminent peacemaker.
Germany’s Merkel is polar opposite. So are most other European leaders, allied with Washington’s killing machine, humanity’s greatest threat.
She urges greater militarism, not less, at a time demilitarization and all-out efforts for world peace are desperately needed.
The alternative is endless war, European nations threatened because of allying with Washington’s imperial agenda instead of firmly opposing it for their own self-interest.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Russia Fiddles While Syria Burns

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 05/06/2016 - 22:32

Russia Fiddles While Syria Burns
by Stephen Lendman
Make no mistake. Putin’s strategic intervention in Syria last September was a bold, vital step. He deserves credit and praise for taking it. 
Things changed dramatically on the ground. Reinvigorated government forces retook large swaths of earlier lost territory, freeing them from the scourge of US-sponsored terrorism.
At the same time, Russia’s all-out efforts for ceasefire and conflict resolution peace talks failed. On the one hand, the alternative is endless war. On the other, the only language America understands is force.
Moscow’s genuine diplomatic efforts can’t succeed because it has no peace partner in Washington - under Obama or whoever succeeds him. 
It’s time to accept reality and act boldly, assertively and unilaterally against all terrorist groups in Syria rejecting ceasefire, Moscow following through on its earlier commitment, repeated as recently as late May and early June - so far not implemented.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry and General Staff Main Operational Directorate head General Sergei Rudskoy issued similar statements in March, saying unilateral airstrikes will target ceasefire violators - at the same time accusing Washington of failing to work cooperatively to implement Security Council 2254 provisions.
They call for ceasefire and diplomatic conflict resolution. Russia genuinely pursues both objectives. America obstructs them. 
Endless fighting rages. Washington wants war, not peace, regime change called political transition. Geneva I, II and III failed. Nothing suggests better prospects ahead.
Russia’s failure to follow through on its commitment gave ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and other terrorist groups time to regroup, rearm and replenish their ranks - with help from Washington, NATO (notably Turkey), Israel, Saudi Arabia and other regional rogue states.
Russia’s repeated calls for Washington to work cooperatively against terrorism in Syria remain unanswered.
On Saturday, Sergey Lavrov again expressed concern about US delaying tactics. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said he and John Kerry continue discussing the situation on the ground without agreement, explaining:
“…Lavrov has expressed concern (about US) attempts to delay resuming political talks for various artificial reasons, which was seen clearly during the UN Security Council briefing on Syria on June 3.”
On June 5, Tass reported terrorist shelling of Syrian cities and towns in the last 24 hours alone killed over 270 civilians, injuring hundreds more.
The Russian Coordination Center said terrorist groups breached cessation of hostilities in the last 24 hours 10 times in Aleppo and Damascus - 626 times since ceasefire took effect at midnight last February 26.
Washington wants its terrorist foot soldiers protected, outrageously telling Russia to stop attacking Jabhat al-Nusra fighters, wanting heroic efforts by government forces obstructed and defeated.
The Obama administration continues providing terrorists with arms and other material support. Reports indicate increasing Russian airstrikes. There’s more.
According to Al Monitor, “the Russians this week disembarked ground forces and paratroopers in the port of Tartus to support more than 3,000 Russian volunteers dispatched to the region in the past few weeks, in a bid to revive coordination with the Syrian army.”
“This represents yet another additional indication that a wide-ranging operation is being prepared” - likely in Raqqa and Aleppo provinces.
According to Syrian sources, Russia’s joint command staff, handling aerial operations, returned to Khmeimim air base in likely preparation for new combat operations.
It’s time to deal with Washington and its rogue allies in the only language they understand - by resuming large-scale aerial strikes like earlier, intensifying them, regaining the offensive decisively, not letting up, smashing all terrorist elements failing to observe ceasefire.
Liberating Syria depends on it. Fiddling with Washington won’t end well.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Unrelenting NYT Anti-Trump Campaign

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 05/06/2016 - 22:30

Unrelenting NYT Anti-Trump Campaign
by Stephen Lendman
Make no mistake. A Trump presidency would be disastrous domestically and geopolitically. 
A previous article said his only redeeming quality is he’s not Hillary Clinton, The Times favorite, endorsing her candidacy, ignoring her criminal record as first lady partnered with husband Bill, US senator and secretary of state.
She’s vulnerable to racketeering charges, the Clinton Foundation a covert criminal enterprise masquerading as a charitable NGO, selling influence for millions of dollars in contributions, the Clintons enriching themselves hugely while falsely claiming to do good.
The latest Times anti-Trump rant claims he “could threaten US rule of law,” citing “conservative and libertarian” sources agreeing with its point of view, ignoring fantasy US democracy, tyranny begun under Bill Clinton, hardened under Bush, institutionalized under Obama.
International law no longer matters. Constitutional law is null and void. Police state ruthlessness replaced it. 
On issues relating to war and peace, corporate favoritism and cracking down hard on popular resistance, both wings of US duopoly governance march in lockstep.
America was never beautiful, its privileged few alone served, notably under Clinton, Bush and Obama, likely rising to an unprecedented level of unbridled militarism, corporate favoritism and crackdowns on remaining freedoms if Hillary becomes America’s 45th president - a terrifying possibility, The Times suppressing what’s vital to explain.
It claims Trump’s “constitutional worldview…shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers, and the rule of law,” - ignoring Obama’s war on press freedom throughout his tenure, threatening independent journalism, criminalizing whistleblowers exposing government wrongdoing more than all his predecessors combined.
The late Helen Thomas (1920 - 2013) covered five decades of presidential politics, beginning in the Kennedy years.
She publicly complained about Obama’s press controlling efforts, calling it “really shocking,” saying “(w)hat the hell do they think we are, puppets?”
Press control under Obama is worse than anything earlier, she explained. Throughout his tenure, he waged war on fundamental freedoms, exceeding the worst of George Bush.
Mass surveillance became institutionalized, rule of law principles ignored, information control elevated to a whole new level.
Trump has no political record on which to judge him, just his campaign bluster and demagoguery. Clinton’s rap sheet would automatically disqualify her in just societies. 
She’d be in prison, not likely to become Democrat party nominee in July, a testimony to America’s debauched political system, honoring its worst, demeaning or punishing its best.
The Times claiming “electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis” ignores its deplorable state, tyranny heading toward becoming full-blown, rule of law governance nonexistent, endless imperial wars raging, America’s domestic and foreign gulag the world’s largest, filled with thousands of political prisoners.
Trump if elected president assures dirty business as usual. Hillary succeeding Obama risks WW III.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Jerusalem Day 2016

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 05/06/2016 - 22:28
Jerusalem Day 2016
by Stephen Lendman
On June 5, Israelis celebrate what Palestinians mourn - the conquest and occupation of East Jerusalem, following Israel’s June 1967 preemptive Six Day War of choice, naked aggression by any standard.
Palestinians were and remain deprived of their historic capital. Israel transformed Jerusalem from a multi-cultural, multi-religious metropolis into a predominantly Jewish one. On July 30, 1980, the Knesset introduced the Jerusalem Law. It annexed the city as Israel's unified capital.
On March 1, 1980, Security Council Resolution 465 declared “all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation...and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled "Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”
Israel systematically breaches international law and UN resolutions unfavorable to its interests. It lawlessly claims  Jerusalem as its exclusive capital, wanting the entire city Judaized.
Palestinians are being forced out, their fundamental rights denied. Jerusalem Day is a national holiday, ignored by most Israelis, celebrated by “religious chauvinists…a bullying, screeching minority,” Gideon Levy explained.
They infest the city, terrorizing Palestinian neighborhoods, dispossessing longstanding residents - with full regime support, including from its racist courts.
“Today we are supposed to celebrate this day by law,” said Levy. “No person of conscience can do this.” One day the occasion will be “mourn(ed).” Occupation is no cause for joy.
Palestinian rights are mocked. Israel’s High Court rejected a petition submitted by human rights attorney Itay Mack to bar the annual march from passing provocatively through the Old City’s Muslim quarter.
Participating Zionist zealots notoriously insult Palestinian residents. Unaccountable vandalism occurs. Justices ordering police to assure “minimal friction with the Muslim residents (and show) zero tolerance to verbal and physical violence” was meaningless.
Palestinian rights are systematically denied - on Jerusalem Day and all others. Ramadan begins Monday, June 6.
Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabareen called the High Court’s ruling, permitting Zionist zealots free access to the Old City’s Muslim quarter on Ramadan’s eve “provocative (and) racist” - its “sole purpose…to terrorize” Palestinian merchants and other residents.
“On the evening in which Palestinians celebrate Ramadan, a month of tolerance and brotherhood, the police chose, and the High Court approved, to (let) marchers provoke Palestinians, hurt them and sow hatred and fear,” he explained.
“Can anyone imagine” Israeli authorities letting Palestinians march through Jewish neighborhoods “on the eve of Passover” or any other Jewish holiday?
“East Jerusalem is part of” illegally Occupied Palestine. No High Court or political authority can change reality on the ground.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Defense Secretary Carter's Bullying Remarks

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 05/06/2016 - 02:21
Defense Secretary Carter’s Bullying Remarks
by Stephen Lendman
Hawkish lunatics run America. On Friday, addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore, Carter claimed America is “the primary security provider in the Asia Pacific” - warning China of what he called is its “expansive and unprecedented actions” in the South China Sea. 
He pushed for an Asian “principled security network” to counter “Russia’s worrying actions” and Beijing’s regional activities.
He belligerently saber-rattled, saying “the the United States will remain the most powerful military and main underwriter of security in the region for decades to come - and there should be no doubt about that.”
“So even as the United States counters Russian aggression and coercion (sic) in Europe; as well as checks Iranian aggression and malign influence (sic) in the Middle East…America’s approach to the Asia-Pacific remains one of commitment and strength and inclusion.”
Beijing justifiably resents US meddling in a part of the world not its own. On Saturday, its Foreign Ministry diplomatically demanded Washington cease making irresponsible remarks  about sovereign Chinese territory.
On May 19, China’s Xinhua News Agency commented sharply, saying Washington should cease South China Sea provocations, “flexing its military muscle…against China’s maritime security interests.”
“Such dangerous and irresponsible activities also significantly increase the risk of military misjudgment in the region.”
Provocative US actions force Beijing to take responsible countermeasures. “Neither muscle-flexing nor arbitrary intervention will shake its resolve to safeguard its sovereignty and maritime rights,” it said.
Neocons infesting Washington threaten confrontation on two fronts. War against Russia or China would be madness, a potentially disastrous face-off assuring no winners, humanity vulnerable to extinction. 
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Muhammad Ali - Anti-War/Civil Rights Activist

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 22:49
Muhammad Ali: Anti-War/Civil Rights Activist
by Stephen Lendman
On Friday, June 3, boxing great Muhammad Ali died at age 74 in Phoenix after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Over time, it eroded his motor skills and ability to speak coherently. His wife  Lonnie said even though his speech was impaired, “he sp(oke) to people with his eyes…with his heart, and they connect(ed) with him.”
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., he joined the Nation of Islam in 1964, rejected what he called his “slave name.” Muhammad Ali replaced it. In 1975, he converted to Sunni Islam after Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad died.
He refused army induction during the Vietnam war, publicly calling himself a conscientious objector, famously saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
At his scheduled Houston army induction on April 28, 1967, he refused three times to step forward after his name was called.
Warned he was committing a felony, he stood firm. Arrest followed. The New York State Athletic Commission stripped him of his boxing license and world heavyweight championship title.
Other US boxing commissions followed suit. Ali couldn’t box anywhere for over three years. On June 20, 1967, a jury found him guilty. An appellate court upheld it.
Ali remained free pending the result of his Supreme Court appeal. On June 28, 1971, the High Court unanimously ruled in his favor at a time of nationwide anti-war activism - not based on his claims, because the appellate court gave no reason for denying his right to conscientiously object.
His conviction was reversed. He inspired Martin Luther King to voice public opposition to the war. Famously he called America “(t)he greatest purveyor of violence in the world - my own government. I cannot be silent.”
Ali’s anti-war activism “robbed (him) of his best years, his prime years,” his trainer Angelo Dundee explained.
Perhaps his best remembered quotes were, saying “I am the greatest,” and “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
He’s less well-known for saying “I know I got it made while other black folks are out there catchin hell, but as long as they ain’t free, I ain’t free.”
Boxing is a violent sport, yet Ali espoused peace and nonviolence, opposed militarism, resisted racial discrimination and injustice.
His star power made his comments resonate. He abhorred the way Washington uses federal tax revenues for war-making, once saying:
“I buy a lot of bullets, at least three jet bombers a year, and pay the salary of 50,000 fighting men with the money they take from me after my fights.”
“Boxing is nothing like going to war with machine guns, bazookas, hand grenades, bomber airplanes. My intention is to box, to win a clean fight. But in war, the intention is to kill, kill, kill, kill, and continue killing innocent people.”
Ali used his fame to fight for justice outside the ring, fearlessly speaking his mind publicly. The world’s most famous pugilist became an anti-war, civil rights, nonviolence champion.
A personal note: In the early 1970s while Ali was still active in the ring, I ran into him in the lobby of my office building. 
He was with several others at the time. We passed like ships in the night. I didn’t intrude to chat. Looking back, I wish I’d have extended my hand in friendship.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

What's Next in Syria After Ceasefire and Peace Talks Failed?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 22:45

What’s Next in Syria After Ceasefire and Peace Talks Failed?
by Stephen Lendman
Russia genuinely wants conflict in Syria resolved diplomatically. Otherwise, it can continue interminably.
America wants endless war, Assad ousted, pro-Western puppet governance installed and Syrian sovereignty destroyed.
Intractable East/West positions show no signs of changing. Endless war rages, escalation likely. 
So-called cessation of hostilities proved farcical. Peace talks were dead on arrival. Washington and its rogue partners support terrorist groups ravaging Syria. US air power and special forces on the ground aid them.
No so-called moderate rebels exist, one of many Big Lies about Obama’s dirty war, the pure evil face of imperialism, continuing without mercy no matter who succeeds him.
Washington wants Russian airstrikes on Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists halted, according to Sergey Lavrov - so nonexistent moderate rebels won’t be hit.
Moscow calls combating and defeating ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups ravaging Syria top priority. Otherwise, endless war will continue.
“(T)errorism is our common threat, and there should be no doubt about that,” Lavrov stressed. Jabhat al-Nusra is using a pause in attacks on its positions to rearm, regroup and add other terrorist groups to its ranks.
Separately, Al Jazeera reported “Putin may deploy special operations forces on the ground in Syria (to combat terrorists), a move that might be made to ensure ‘a decisive victory.’ “
According to former deputy foreign affairs minister Andrei Fyodorov, “(t)his is under discussion. There are plans for this.”
“This is a delicate issue for our military. There are serious doubts that any participation by Russia on the ground would be favourable or complicate the negotiation process and lead to further disagreements with the US.”
At the same time, unnamed political and military officials believe deployment is needed to defeat the scourge of terrorism.
According to Fyodorov, “(f)rom the Russian point of view, Assad should control 70% of Syria, and that way you can hold elections and they would be favourable for (him). That is why the issue of ground operations is becoming more actual.”
Political analyst Sergey Strokan said Moscow can’t afford to lose Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial hub pre-war, large parts of it destroyed, much of its population displaced.
According to Al Jazeera, “some analysts suggest a ‘Stalingrad’ in Syria is…need(ed)” - a decisive battle to turn the tide and hasten war’s end, “requir(ing) (Russian) ground troops” along with its formidable air power.
Will Washington respond in kind if Russia deploys combat troops to Syria? Will confrontation between both countries follow? Syria already is a dangerous flashpoint. Is something much more serious coming?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Prominent Palestinian MP/Human Rights Champion Freed

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 22:42
Prominent Palestinian MP/Human Rights Champion Freed
by Stephen Lendman
On April 2, 2015, Israel lawlessly arrested Khalida Jarrar, abducted from her home pre-dawn, targeted solely for political reasons. 
She represents a tower of strength and commitment for Palestinian rights - a highly respected lawyer, Palestinian Legislative Council member, civil society leader, human rights champion, and PLC Prisoners Commission head.
On April 5, 2015, she was ordered administratively detained for six months - uncharged and untried. She committed no crimes.
On April 15, 2015, she was indicted on 12 fabricated charges, related to her PLC membership and political activism, notably campaigning for prisoners’ rights and criticizing longstanding Israeli repression.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) representing parliaments of 163 countries expressed concern “about (her) conviction in light of the multiple irregularities surrounding her arrest, detention and prosecution.”
In a letter sent EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, 58 European parliament members expressed their “strongest condemnation of the latest Israeli escalation against Palestinian legislators and the suppression of the Palestinian political leadership.”
Guilt by accusation is virtually automatic in Israeli military courts. Jarrar’s trial was marked by gross irregularities, rigged to convict. She was sentenced to 15 months in prison - on June 3 released a month early, after an international campaign on her behalf.
She remained redoubtable throughout her ordeal despite serious health problems exacerbated by incarceration - including multiple ischemic infarctions, hypercholesterolemia, and deep vein thrombosis.
At a Friday evening press conference, she explained horrific conditions she faced in detention, what other Palestinian prisoners endure, including deplorable treatment, filthy cells and limited family visitation rights.
Throughout proceedings against her, she rejected the legitimacy of Israel’s military court, called charges against her “ridiculous,” said she was prosecuted solely for legal political activities, including her role as a parliamentarian.
At the time of her prosecution and sentencing, PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi condemned what she called “part of a deliberate attack on Palestinian politicians,” - besides “constitut(ing) a blatant violation of Khalida’s parliamentary immunity.”
Six Palestinian MPs remain lawlessly imprisoned, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti (Palestine’s most popular leader) and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) secretary-general Ahmad Saadat.
Separately on Friday, Israel renewed administrative detentions against PFLP members Jamal Barham and Shahir Ali al-Rai for another six months.
They’ve been illegally held since June 2015, solely for their legal political activities. They committed no crimes. Israel wants them and other Palestinian activists silenced or eliminated.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Victory: Court Ends Prior Restraint Against MuckRock

eff.org - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 10:31

A court in Seattle has lifted an order that required our client MuckRock to remove documents one of its users obtained from a public records request.

Agreeing with EFF, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing ruled that the previous order amounted to a prior restraint on speech that violated the First Amendment, and rescinded it along with denying plaintiffs’ request to extend it.

The upshot is that MuckRock and its co-founder, Michael Morisy, are no longer prohibited from publishing two documents the court had previously ordered the website to take down.

More than a week ago, several companies sued MuckRock, one of its users, and the city of Seattle after the user filed a public records request seeking information about the city’s smart utility meter program.

Seattle initially released two documents to the requester. By default, MuckRock allows its users to elect to have the documents they receive published to the site after an agency releases them. The documents had been public for more than a month before a company that won the contract for Seattle’s smart meter program obtained the court order requiring MuckRock to de-publish the documents. MuckRock complied with the order.

EFF, along with local counsel Venkat Balasubramani of FOCAL PLLC, represented MuckRock and argued that the order violated the First Amendment in several respects. We also argued that as an online platform, MuckRock was immune from the suit under the Communications Decency Act because the documents were posted to its site as a result of the city's response to the public records request. For a deeper dive into MuckRock's arguments, click here.

EFF is pleased that the court lifted the order in this case and vindicated MuckRock’s right to publish documents one of its users lawfully obtained via a public records request.

At the same time, the case underscores how broad court orders that prevent parties from speaking jeopardize free speech.

When the plaintiffs obtained the order requiring MuckRock to take down the two documents, they claimed that both contained trade secrets that should never have been public. In a court filing on Thursday, however, the plaintiffs changed course. They first admitted that one of the documents did not contain any trade secret information. Thus it should never have been removed from MuckRock.

And after reviewing the second document, plaintiffs determined that only small portions of the document contained what they believe are trade secrets. They provided a redacted copy of the document to Seattle, which was later posted to MuckRock.

Despite knowing that their original trade secret claims were vastly overstated, before Friday’s hearing, plaintiffs never asked the court to modify the order against MuckRock.

Instead, MuckRock remained subject to a court order that even the plaintiffs had no intention of defending for more than a week, an inexcusable deprivation of MuckRock's First Amendment rights.

This confirms what we have long said: courts must more closely scrutinize requests for orders that prohibit speech or require the removal of content from a website, even if the plaintiff pleads that it's an emergency.

That said, EFF is grateful that MuckRock prevailed. We are also indebted to our local counsel Venkat Balasubramani, who attended Friday’s hearing and argued on MuckRock’s behalf.


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Categories: Aggregated News

Appeals Court Avoids Hard Questions About the “Collect It All” Approach to Computer Searches

eff.org - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 10:01

The Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement is a key protection against invasive government searches, but getting a warrant doesn’t solve every problem that can arise, particularly with searches for digital data. When the government has a warrant to search for specific files on a computer, courts may permit it to copy more than just those files in order to conduct a thorough search. Even so, the Fourth Amendment does not allow the government to hold on to this extra data for several years, which is exactly what it did in United States v. Ganias, a case decided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last week.

In an analog world of paper-filled filing cabinets, this would be clearly unconstitutional. Unfortunately, despite issuing a lengthy opinion, the appeals court failed to set out a rule that retaining irrelevant data when it is stored on a hard drive is also unconstitutional. And that’s a real problem: in the infamous words of the NSA, the government routinely “collects it all,” so the Ganias decision could set a de facto norm that allows overcollection and retention of data. 

Ganias began with an investigation by the Army into suspicious billing practices by one of its contractors. In 2003, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) got a search warrant seeking digital records from the contractor’s outside accountant, Stavros Ganias. Rather than searching for the records on-site, the warrant gave CID permission to mirror three of Ganias’ computers, copying everything on the hard drives in order to later search for information relevant to the investigation. However, the mirrored drives also contained records outside the scope of the warrant and investigation into Ganias’ clients, including his personal financial records.

In 2006, IRS investigators who had been working with CID began to separately suspect Ganias himself of tax evasion, so they obtained a second search warrant allowing them to review the files seized three years earlier—even though Ganias wasn't under suspicion in 2003. Ganias was convicted on the basis of evidence turned up pursuant to this second warrant, but he argued that this evidence should have been excluded. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit overturned the conviction, holding that when the government retained evidence outside of the scope of the first warrant, it violated Ganias’ Fourth Amendment rights. But the appeals court agreed to reconsider the case en banc, in front of all thirteen active judges. 

EFF filed an amicus brief along with a number of other civil liberties organizations arguing that the government’s lengthy retention of data non-responsive to the 2003 warrant violated Ganias’ Fourth Amendment rights. But in its ruling last week, the Second Circuit failed to address the Fourth Amendment issue head on. Instead, the court ruled in favor of the government, stating that the IRS investigators relied in good faith on the magistrate judge’s issuance of the 2006 warrant.

The Second Circuit’s opinion flies in the face of the purpose behind the Fourth Amendment: to protect citizens against “general warrants.” In the colonial era, general warrants gave British soldiers the right to search any house they chose, and the drafters of the Bill of Rights specifically intended to make such searches unconstitutional. As a result, the Fourth Amendment requires that valid warrants specify particular persons and places to be searched and seized. Here, the 2003 warrant gave investigators permission to search for specific types of files on Ganias’ computers. But in order to be able to conduct an in-depth forensic analysis and minimize the disruption to Ganias, the government “overseized” by mirroring entire drives. While that might have been convenient as a technical matter to isolate data covered by the initial warrant, our brief argued that the government shouldn’t “profit” by retaining the extra data indefinitely. But the government held on to the mirrors for several years, even though the 2003 warrant didn’t give them permission to do so. That meant that when suspicion fell on Ganias, the government already had an exact copy of his data from 2003, instead of having to go back to Ganias to search the computers as they existed in 2006.

Had Ganias' files been stored on paper, this would have been a simple case. As the Ninth Circuit explained in United States v. Tamura, police may do a cursory examination of files in a filing cabinet to determine which are included in a warrant, but they can only seize items outside that warrant for off-site review in very limited circumstances. And even then, non-responsive items must be promptly returned.

In considering these issues in Ganias, however, the Second Circuit’s new decision misses the forest for the trees. The opinion contains the promising recognition that

 The seizure of a computer hard drive, and its subsequent retention by the government, can give the government possession of a vast trove of personal information about the person to whom the drive belongs, much of which may be entirely irrelevant to the criminal investigation that led to the seizure.

But instead of reaching a conclusion about what the Fourth Amendment requires with regard to deleting overseized data, the court determined that these issues were too difficult and that it need not decide them. That’s because under existing precedent, evidence is not excluded from a case when the government acts in “good faith” reliance on a warrant. According to the Second Circuit, the IRS acted in good faith when it obtained the second warrant in 2006, so any constitutional problem with the multi-year retention of Ganias’ data was swept under the rug. 

This is an especially frustrating outcome because it provides no guidance for how these sort of computer searches and seizures should be conducted in the future. The court’s discussion of Ganias’ failure to seek the return of his data before 2006 could set a dangerous norm of allowing broad searches, putting the burden on users to sue the government if they object. As we’ve seen in a number of contexts, the government engages in a “collect it all” approach to digital data, copying large swaths of innocent users’ communications, cell phone location information and more, all in an attempt to sniff out actual targets. By failing to require the deletion of overcollected data, the Ganias court may provide a perverse incentive to retain when the government has no good reason to do so. 

Related Cases: United States v. Ganias
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Categories: Aggregated News

A De Minimis Amount of Creative Freedom: Courts Push Back to Protect Music Sampling

eff.org - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 08:29

Too often copyright maximalists take the view that if anyone is making money and using a copyrighted work, no matter how or how minimally, then the copyright owner should get a cut. That’s the attitude that has pushed, among other things, a “clearance culture” in music sampling, a belief that permission is needed to create something new that includes samples.

This week, however appellate courts in two countries pushed back just a bit.  On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit held [PDF] that that a sample taken from Salsoul Orchestra’s disco song Love Break and used in Madonna’s Vogue was “de minimis” copying and therefore non-infringing. The sample in question, a 0.23-second “horn hit” plays several times throughout Vogue but, said Judge Susan Graber, was so brief that no ordinary person would recognize it as originating from Love Break.” Notably, this decision directly contradicts an earlier ruling by the Sixth Circuit in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, which held that the general “de minimis” rule of copyright law did not apply to sound recordings. That decision has been widely criticized over the past ten years. Neither court reached the question of whether fair use protects sampling (it likely would, in many cases).

The Ninth Circuit decision this week came on the heels of a ruling in a long-running dispute between Kraftwerk and German music producer Moses Pelham. In 2004, Kraftwerk sued Pelham over the use of a 2-second sample from Kraftwerk’s Metall auf Metall. A lower court ruled in Kraftwerk’s favor, observing that even sampling the “tiniest sliver” of a sound recording could constitute infringement. On appeal, the German Constitutional Court, held that requiring the creator’s permission to take such a small sample would significantly interfere with the creation of modern music, particularly hip-hop. The court also noted that such a limited use of the original recording would have only minimal effect on the recording’s commercial success.

The German court’s observation of the effect of its ruling on hip-hop was well taken.  In the US, a presumption that every sample must be cleared has priced out most artists, who cannot afford to pay the average of $10,000 for a single sample, let alone $200,000 to license twenty samples for a song. The belief that sampling requires permission, and the prohibitive prices demanded by rightsholders, have contributed to the consolidation of hip-hop music under a shrinking number of labels, to the point that Universal Music Group controlled 80% of the genre’s top hits by 2013. The threat of copyright litigation over sampling has also been credited with making hip-hop less political by limiting the artistic dialogue between artists and what has come before.

An overbroad conception of copyright law distorts culture, and it is heartening to see courts in two countries pushing back to protect freedom of expression.


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Ukraine Putschists Like Chile's Pinochet Regime

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 02:43
Ukraine Putschists Like Chile’s Pinochet Regime
by Stephen Lendman
According to Russia’s upper house Federation Council first deputy defense and security committee chairman, Franz Klintsevich, US-installed Kiev putschists are as ruthless as Chile under Pinochet - following the Nixon administration’s 9/11/73 coup, elevating him to power.
Klintsevich called illegal arrests, torture, detentions in secret prisons and disappearances daily occurrences - Ukraine’s security service, its SBU national Gestapo, responsible for what’s happening. 
State terror overrides everything for full control, he explained. Comparison to 17 brutal years under Pinochet is chilling. 
A climate of fear included mass arrests, disappearances, torture and murder. Opposition government officials, academics, union heads, independent journalists, student leaders, activists, and other suspected regime opponents were eliminated.
A story in The Times of London highlighted what’s ongoing, headlined “Kiev allows torture and runs secret jails, says UN.”
It quoted UN assistant secretary-general for human rights Ivan Simonovic, saying Kiev’s “disregard for human rights” is entrenched, systemic, and urgently needs addressing.
His agency documented hundreds of cases of illegal detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, as well as extrajudicial executions and other human rights abuses, exposing the “scale and brutality” of the US-installed regime - crimes against humanity occurring in five secret detention centers.
Simonovic cited a case of a victim seized by “masked men,” believed to be SBU agents. In detention, he was brutalized, tasered multiple times in the head, his left hand, back, knees and head smashed with a hammer.
Forced to confess to being an armed group member to stop the brutal torture, he was taken to state security services and arrested.
Another incident Simonovic described involved chaining an alleged anti-regime rebel group member or sympathizer to a radiator, stifling his ability to breathe with a gas mask, electro-shocking and waterboarding him - while beating and kicking his genitals.
The SBU denied Simonovic access to five secret detention centers. UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture head Malcolm Evans responded, saying:
“This denial of access…meant that we have not been able to visit some places where we have heard numerous and serious allegations that people have been detained and where torture or ill-treatment may have occurred.”
Simonovic also accused Kiev  authorities of failing to investigate the May 2014 massacre of hundreds of defenseless peaceful anti-regime protesters in Odessa’s Trade Union House.
Police stood by and did nothing, letting Right Sector thugs mass-murder unaccountably. A new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Ukraine accused regime authorities “of involvement in or affiliation with (extremist) armed groups.”
Earlier Russian White Book reports documented horrendous Kiev human rights abuses, targeting anyone questioning regime authority along with waging dirty war without mercy on Donbass freedom fighters.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Pentagon Whitewashes Murders of Afghan Civilians

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 04/06/2016 - 02:17
Pentagon Whitewashes Murders of Afghan Civilians
by Stephen Lendman
US rules of engagement in all its war theaters consistently and repeatedly violate international and constitutional law - soldiers allowed to murder civilians with impunity.
One of many notorious examples occurred in February 2010 in Afghanistan. US Army rangers belligerently entered Khataba village in Paktia province - slaughtering five defenseless civilians in cold blood, including two pregnant women threatening no one.
FOIA documents obtained by The Intercept revealed no disciplinary action following the raid. The Defense Department outrageously called force used “necessary, proportional and applied at (the) appropriate time” - while admitting “tactical mistakes” were made, war crimes by any standard.
Absolving crimes of war and against humanity committed by US forces is longstanding Pentagon practice. Falsified accounts whitewash deplorable incidents.
Stories change when evidence refutes initial versions. A Pentagon press release after the February 2010 incident claimed an attack against Taliban militants, US forces “engag(ing)” them in a “fire fight,” then finding three women “bound and gagged…hidden in an adjacent room.”
The incident got widespread media coverage. A US military official claimed bodies found had “the earmarks of a traditional honor killing.”
The account was fabricated. Survivors, witness testimonies and Afghan investigators refuted it, explaining an entirely different version of what happened. According to The Intercept:
“Witnesses and survivors described an unprovoked assault on the family compound of Mohammed Daoud Sharabuddin, a (US-trained) police (commander) who had just received an important promotion. Daoud and his family had gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn son…”
At about 3:30 AM, family members heard noises outside their compound. Fearing a Taliban attack, Daoud and his 15-year-old son went outside to check - both hit by sniper fire.
In “minutes, a family celebration (became) a massacre,” taking five lives, including three women, two pregnant, reported The Intercept. “Sixteen children lost their mothers.”
Witnesses observed “a horrifying scene: US soldiers digging (their) bullets out of the women’s bodies” with knives - to conceal evidence of their multiple murders.
Documents obtained by The Intercept claimed “(c)oalition (sic) forces take every precaution to ensure non-combatant civilians are protected from possible hostilities during the course of every operation.”
Irrefutable evidence shows otherwise. America wages naked aggression without mercy, civilians considered legitimate targets, comprising the vast majority of casualties.
Millions of corpses attest to America’s depravity. Despite clear evidence of cold-blooded murder in the Daoud compound, the Pentagon claimed its “investigation found no attempt to hide or cover up the circumstances of the local national women’s deaths.”
At the same time, it admitted US forces killed Afghan civilians - after initially saying three women were killed two days before the fire fight with alleged insurgents.
The report recommended US forces “make an appropriate condolence payment to the family as a sign of good faith in our sincerity at the seriousness of the incident.”
Meaningless US “good faith” won’t bring back lost loved ones. In all US war theaters, countless war crimes like the Daoud tragedy repeat - coverup and denial concealing them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Clinton's Anti-Trump Rant Ignored Her Own High Crimes

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 03/06/2016 - 23:03
Clinton’s Anti-Trump Rant Ignored Her Own High Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, touting her foreign policy record without explaining its lawlessness, Clinton delivered a 30-minute anti-Trump rant - a demagogic litany of misinformation and Big Lies, devoid of substance, more proof of the danger humanity faces if she succeeds Obama next year.
“I’m proud to run on my record,” she said. As first lady, US senator and secretary of state, she was and continues to be militantly pro-war.
In 1999, she urged husband Bill to bomb Belgrade, a flagrant violation of international and constitutional law. 
She lied about Slobodan Milosevic, saying “(y)ou cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?”
The late Nobel laureate Harold Pinter called NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia "barbaric (and despicable), another blatant and brutal assertion of US power, using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe."
Lawless aggression became humanitarian intervention. An avenue to Eurasia was opened. A permanent US military presence was established. US imperialism claimed another trophy. Clinton’s public record shows the danger of her serving in high office.
Straightaway post-9/11, she urged waging war on terror, a pretext for US war on humanity, saying “I’ll stand behind (George) Bush for a long time to come.”
She supports unlimited military spending, the tyrannical Patriot Act and other police state measures. She endorses cluster munitions and other illegal weapons, opposes banning land mines.
She’s indifferent to human suffering, a monument to wrong over right, ideologically opposite what deserves popular support. Her public persona conceals her extremist views.
As first lady in the 1990s, she called Black youths “super predators (with) no conscience, no empathy.”
She urged the FBI to make “a very concerted effort (to) bring them to heel.” She supported “deporter-in-chief” Obama’s anti-immigrant agenda - deporting undocumented Latinos in record numbers, separating husbands from wives, parents from children.
She advocated racist get tough on crime laws, more police, more prisons, harsher sentences - an agenda directed at Blacks and Latinos “to keep them off the streets…for as long as it takes.”
She supports unrestricted nuclear cooperation with Israel and other US allies, flagrantly violating NPT provisions - endorsing the use of these super-weapons she calls peacekeeping deterrents.
As US senator and presidential candidate twice, she was and remains one of the largest recipients of campaign contributions from Wall Street and war-profiteers.
In the run-up to Bush’s 2003 Iraq war, she lied, saying “intelligence (sic) reports show that Saddam Hussein rebuilt his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.”
“He has given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members…It is clear that if left unchecked, (he'll) continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
At AIPAC’s 2008 convention, she said “(t)he United States stands with Israel now and forever,” claiming “our two nations are fighting a shared threat,” an invented one, she failed to explain.
Then and now, she backs “massive retaliation” if Iran attacks Israel - as a 2008 presidential aspirant, saying I “want the Iranians to know that if I'm president, we will attack Iran.” 
“In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”
She supports preemptive, unilateral use of nuclear weapons, including against non-nuclear states.
She orchestrated the ouster of democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, fascist tyranny replacing him. 
In 2010, her attempt to remove Ecuador’s Rafael Correa failed. In 2012, her dirty hands were involved in ousting Paraguay’s democratically elected President Fernando Lugo - what he called “a parliamentary coup against the will of the people.”
She orchestrated US-led NATO aggression on Libya, destroying Africa’s most developed country, transforming it into a failed state - an endless cauldron of violence, chaos and human misery.
She notoriously celebrated Gaddafi’s sodomized murder, infamously saying “(w)e came. We saw. He died” - the rant of a lunatic eager to kill again.
She conspired with Obama and other administration neocons to wage preemptive war on Syria, raging in its sixth year, responsible for the murder of around half a million, mostly civilians, and internally or externally displacing half the population.
In her Thursday address, she called America “an exceptional country.” Its sordid history shows otherwise. 
Her anti-Trump rant ignored her longstanding criminal record, including using the Clinton Foundation as a suspected criminal enterprise, masquerading as an NGO charity, vulnerable to racketeering charges.
Calling Trump “not just unprepared (but) temperamentally unfit” to hold high office ignores the danger of her finger on the nuclear trigger, the threat of WW III with her as president.
Trump fired back, twittering “(c)rooked Hillary no longer has credibility - too much failure in office. People will not allow another four years of incompetence” - adding her performance was “terrible…pathetic.”
Anyone rising to presidential material in America isn’t fit for any public office. The prospect of Clinton or Trump succeeding Obama should scare everyone. 
Neocons infesting Washington exert enormous influence. Four more years of endless wars are certain. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Assad Wants Humanitarian Aid for All Syrians in Need

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 03/06/2016 - 22:58
Assad Wants Humanitarian Aid For All Syrians in Need
by Stephen Lendman
Assad is overwhelmingly popular, democratically elected in June 2014, a process independent international observers called open, free and fair.
Syrians want no one else leading them for good reason. He gives them hope. Washington and its rogue allies want him ousted, Western-controlled tyranny replacing Syrian sovereignty - the same nightmarish scenario facing all nations America attacks aggressively, its imperial strategy for world conquest and domination.
Half the Syrian population is internally or externally displaced, facing dire conditions. Washington and Britain turned truth on its head, accusing Assad of impeding humanitarian aid deliveries. 
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond willfully lied, sayinghe “cynically allowed limited amounts of aid into Darayya and Muadhamiya but…failed to deliver the widespread humanitarian access called for by the international community.”
Bouthaina Shaaban is a distinguished member of Assad’s government, serving as his political and media advisor. On Thursday, she addressed the National Press Club in Washington via satellite from Damascus - discussing her government’s cooperation with UN officials, aiming to deliver humanitarian aid to all Syrians in need.
“About the Syrian government not allowing aid drops, I would like to (say) that these are our people in Syria, and we are trying our best with the UN representative here to find the best way to make all medicine, all food within reach of every single citizen in Syria,” she said.
Claims otherwise are false, part of the US-led effort to demonize Assad, media scoundrels involved, proliferating Western propaganda. 
Shaaban said UN humanitarian officials explained it’s “impossible” to airdrop certain medicines because it’s “costly…very dangerous, and it is not secure.”
“This doesn’t mean we are not trying our very best to make everything (needed) arrive (for) our citizens,” she stressed.
Unlike America and its rogue rogue partners, Russia is involved in delivering humanitarian aid via convoys and airdrops. This week alone, its military delivered 16 tons of food to Hama province.
Russian medics set up a mobile area medical center to provide treatment for Syrians in need. Provincial Governor Hassan Omar Haljaf thanked Moscow for providing humanitarian aid, saying:
“So I once again extend a big thank you to the Russian Federation, the Russian people, and President Vladimir Putin for their support to our country.”
Russia is Syria’s best hope for one day ending Obama’s war - America the main obstacle, responsible for endless conflicts throughout the region and elsewhere to achieve its imperial aims, no matter the cost in human lives and misery.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

European Commission's Hate Speech Deal With Companies Will Chill Speech

eff.org - Fri, 03/06/2016 - 20:43

A new agreement between the European Commission and four major U.S. companies—Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft—went into effect yesterday. The agreement will require companies to “review the majority of valid notifications for removal of hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content,” as well as “educate and raise awareness” with their users about the companies’ guidelines.

The deal was made under the Commission’s “EU Internet Forum,” launched last year as a means to counter what EDRi calls “vaguely-defined ‘terrorist activity and hate speech online.’” While some members of civil society were able to participate in discussions, they were excluded from the negotiations that led to the agreement, says EDRi.

The agreement has been met with opposition by a number of groups, including EDRi (of which we’re a member), Access Now, and Index on Censorship, all of which have expressed concerns that the deal with stifle freedom of expression. The decision has also sparked debate on social media, with a wide variety of individuals and groups opposing the decision under the hashtag #IStandWithHateSpeech.

But you don’t have to stand with hate speech to stand against this decision. There are several reasons to oppose this Orwellian agreement. First, while Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows states to limit freedom of expression under select circumstances, such limitations are intended to be the exception, and are permitted only to protect the following:

  1. The rights or reputations of others,

  2. national security,

  3. public order,

  4. public health, or

  5. morals.

These limits must also meet a three-part test as defined by the ICCPR: be defined by law; have legitimate aim; and and be truly necessary. While some of the speech that concerns the Commission may very well qualify as illegal under some countries’ laws, the method by which they’ve sought to limit it will surely have a chilling effect on free speech.

In addition, as EDRi points out, despite a lengthy negotiation between companies and the Commission, “hate speech” remains vaguely-defined. Companies have been tasked with taking the lead on determining what constitutes hate speech, with potentially disastrous results.

In fact, social media companies have an abysmal track record when it comes to regulating any kind of speech. As Onlinecensorship.org’s research shows, speech that is permitted by companies’ terms of service is often removed, with users given few paths to recourse. Users report experiencing bans from Facebook for 24 hours to up to 30 days if the company determines they’ve violated the Community Standards—which, in many cases, the user has not. Requiring companies to review complaints within 24 hours will almost surely result in the removal of speech that would be legal in Europe.

By taking decision-making outside of the democratic system and into backrooms, and granting corporations even greater control, the European Commission is ensuring a chill on online speech.


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