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Newly Revealed NSA Program ICREACH Extends the NSA's Reach Even Further

eff.org - Thu, 04/09/2014 - 06:46

­Turns out, the DEA and FBI may know what medical conditions you have, whether you are having an affair, where you were last night, and more—all without any knowing that you have ever broken a law.

That’s because the DEA and FBI, as part of over 1000 analysts at 23 U.S. intelligence agencies, have the ability to peer over the NSA’s shoulder and see much of the NSA’s metadata with ICREACH. Metadata is transactional data about communications, such as numbers dialed, email addresses sent to, and duration of phone calls, and it can be incredibly revealing. ICREACH, exposed by a release of Snowden documents in The Intercept, is a system that enables sharing of metadata by “provid[ing] analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.” It’s the latest in a string of documents that demonstrate how little the intelligence community distinguishes between counter-terrorism and ordinary crime—and just how close to home surveillance may really be.

The documents describe ICREACH as a “one-stop shopping tool for consolidated communications metadata analytic needs.” ICREACH brings together various databases with a single search query, allowing analysts to search literally billions of records. The tool allows sharing of “more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones.” It is intended to include data from Five Eyes partners as well. While the program shares data obtained under Executive Order 12333, it includes data from U.S. persons.

ICREACH grew out of CRISSCROSS and PROTON, older tools that allowed the CIA, DEA, FBI, DIA, and NSA to share metadata. Metadata sharing in CRISSCROSS started with only date, time, duration, calling number, and called number. PROTON, which expanded CRISSCROSS, allowed sharing of far more information, including latitude and longitude coordinates, email headers, and travel records like flight numbers. The system had compatibility issues, and NSA never added the additional information PROTON could handle. PROTON also appears to have the capacity for sophisticated data analysis: “PROTON tools find other entities that behave in a similar manner to a specific target.”

While data sharing may seem innocuous, and perhaps even necessary, the melding of domestic law enforcement and national security agencies deserves far more attention. The blending of the war on drugs and the war on terror, and domestic and international law enforcement, and the move from targeted to mass, suspicionless surveillance, is leading to a place where everyone is a suspect and can be targeted at any time.

As The Intercept article pointed out, one serious concern is that data obtained through ICREACH could be used for parallel construction— the practice through which the DEA obscures the source of tips it receives from the NSA and then passes on to other law enforcement agencies. The DEA will “recreate” investigative trails,  and hide the source of the information from defense lawyers, judges, and prosecutors. With parallel construction, NSA data can be used in ordinary criminal investigations, without any way to challenge the collection of that data in court. This runs blatantly counter to notions of due process and the right to a fair trial, to question and confront witnesses, and have competent counsel.

The ICREACH system makes it even easier for law enforcement to use communications data collected by NSA without revealing the source. While domestic law enforcement agencies can already get some of the kinds of data in ICREACH without a warrant, they at least have to serve a subpoena or national security letter on a telecommunications provider. A subpoena requires court approval, and either type of process can be challenged in court. Instead, with ICREACH, any approved analyst at a partner agency can access the data in secret with just a few keystrokes, and with little possibility of judicial review.

That data could then be used in a variety of ways, without revealing the NSA as the original source of the information. With a traffic stop or anonymous informant as pretext, domestic law enforcement could initiate an investigation, conduct physical searches, visit targets, and more.

Even more disturbing: the cops on your block may be getting ICREACH data passed on to them. The information sharing movement goes beyond just big federal agencies. There are myriad channels through which state and local law enforcement agencies can get the information agencies like the FBI and DHS have. The FBI works directly with local law enforcement through Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). Through JTTF memoranda of understanding, officers from police departments across the country work directly under the FBI’s command and agree not to talk about the work they do. Similarly, local agencies and federal agencies share intelligence information through fusion centers, where local law enforcement can access DHS and FBI databases, among others.   

The Constitution was intended to constrain the government’s investigative authority. The national security state has created a gaping hole in those protections. Although the government has argued that it has bent the rules around surveillance only in the name of national security, the lines of what is appropriate information to share between various agencies continue to get blurrier. Without some safeguards, the same surveillance architecture that targets “terrorists” can be used to target everyday lawbreakers.

The rallying cry from law enforcement is always the need to catch criminals. But constitutional constraints like no unreasonable searches and seizures and the right to the assistance of counsel exist specifically because of the societal agreement that the need to curb government abuse is worth occasionally letting a guilty person go.


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Host a Screening and Discussion About The Internet’s Own Boy

eff.org - Thu, 04/09/2014 - 06:15

If you’ve haven’t had a chance to see the incredible documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, then go do that as soon as possible. It’s wonderful. And if you have seen it, encourage your friends to watch it too.  

One of the best things you can do after seeing the film is organize a screening for your community. To help, we made some tips on how to host a successful viewing party and put together some questions to help guide a thoughtful discussion after the film.

You can download and print the discussion questions below to take with you to the screening. We also have a template email sign-up sheet to help you jumpstart a local mailing list of people in your community who want to engage deeper in the movement to defend our digital rights.

Organize a Successful Screening

Organizing a viewing party for The Internet’s Own Boy boils down to finding a date and a space with the proper projection equipment and doing outreach.

Decide if you’d like to have an open discussion afterwards with everyone, or a more organized event, such as a panel discussion featuring local activists and experts that can delve deeper into the issues discussed in the film. Some ideas for speakers include local professors, librarians, or digital rights activists in your community. Feel free to email april@eff.org if you’d like help finding good speakers in your area.

For whatever you decide, here’s a short checklist of everything you’ll want to make sure to have squared away before promoting the event:

  • Venue: Is it the proper size for the expected crowd?
  • Screening equipment:  Is there a projector, the proper cables and a sound system? If needed, are there microphones?
  • Seating: Be sure that there are enough chairs or places for people to lounge.
  • Timing: Find a date and time that will be most likely to accommodate the most people.

Next you’ll want to think about promotion. If it’s a larger, public event, consider submitting a listing to your local weekly paper and getting on their calendar. You may also want to get on the calendar for your community or college radio station. Make flyers, post them around town, and be sure to promote heavily on social media. Event pages on social media sites are often very useful.

There might also be some local mailing lists or community leaders who can share the event with their crew.

Materials for Your Screening

You’ll most likely want a number of promotional materials, like images and graphics to share online. Printing some physical flyers and posters might also be helpful. The Internet Archive has thumbnail images from the film that you can use to create flyers.

Also, don’t forget to have an email sign-up sheet. After the screening, you can use it to start a mailing list to share news and organize future digital rights events and actions.

Many may wish for some informational resources to get a better grasp of the issues discussed in the film. Here’s a list to links of one-pagers you can have on-hand and printed.

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (PDF)
  • Demand Open Access to Research (PDF)
  • End the NSA’s Illegal Spying (PDF)
  • Coders’ Rights Project (PDF)

Discussion Questions

The Internet’s Own Boy raises many important questions on topics that may be new to some viewers. Whether you’re watching this in a classroom or in a community setting, these questions can help to guide a discussion after the film. We recommend reading our explanation of some of the issues raised in the film before leading a discussion.

Creative Commons:

  • Has anyone in the room used or reused a creative work without knowing the copyright?
  • What would an Internet without homemade music videos and memes made from screenshots be like? What if everyone always had to ask for permission first?
  • Does fair use of creative works really make it impossible for the creators of those works to make a living? Who actually makes money off of copyright?

Open Access and Open Government:

  • Does anyone have a story to share about trying to access resources that are supposed to be a matter of public record, like court documents?
  • How are some communities disproportionally affected by policies that close access to information?

Stopping SOPA:

  • Anyone remember the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) or what it was like to see a website blacked out? What lessons did the Stop SOPA campaign teach us?
  • What is the relationship between copyright and censorship?

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA):

  • According to the government, it is illegal under the CFAA to violate a website’s terms of service. Does knowing this mean that any of us will start to read the terms of service?
  • Does knowing that there are such outdated and misused laws on the books have a chilling effect on your likelihood to share information?

Next steps:

  • Does your university have an open access policy? Are you an artist who is going to start using Creative Commons?
  • What are your concerns about the future of the Internet? Are you ready to get involved in a digital campaign or contact your elected officials about your concerns?
  • If you want to get involved, but have reservations as to what to do next, what are those? What can we do to continue to raise awareness about these issues?
  • How will you keep learning about fair use and copyright, unjust computer crime laws, open access, and other digital rights issues?

Follow up!

Be sure to collect email addresses of everyone who came to the event and follow up by inviting them to join a mailing list. Check back frequently on EFF.org/fight to learn about our many campaigns and ways to get involved in the fight to protect our digital rights.

 

READ EFF'S VIEWING GUIDE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DIGITAL RIGHTS ISSUES RAISED IN THE INTERNET'S OWN BOY.

 

 

Related Issues: SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist LegislationOpen AccessComputer Fraud And Abuse Act ReformStudent and Community Organizing
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Anna Smith Tells the Ninth Circuit: “NSA Spying is Unconstitutional.” Appeals Court to Consider Mass Telephone Records Collection

eff.org - Thu, 04/09/2014 - 05:24

The NSA’s mass collection of telephone call detail records violates the Fourth Amendment, Anna Smith, the plaintiff in Smith v. Obama, told the Ninth Circuit yesterday, in the third challenge to the so-called section 215 program to reach a court of appeals. The opening brief concludes: “The surveillance imposed on Americans by the call-records program is anathema to this country’s constitutional tradition, and the privacy intrusions the program works are unprecedented in our history.”

Mrs. Smith filed her lawsuit in Idaho federal court on June 12, 2013, after The Guardian published irrefutable proof that the NSA is collecting telephone records of millions of innocent Americans, purportedly under the authority of section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Reluctantly, the district court dismissed her claims on June 6, 2014, explaining that it felt  “constrained” because of a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, involving the recording of the phone numbers dialed by a criminal suspect over the course of a few days.

Mrs. Smith has appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and her original counsel, Peter J. Smith and Luke Malek, were joined by EFF, the ACLU and the ACLU of Idaho.

"The opening brief presents a clear argument as to why the daily collection of a record of who Anna calls, who calls Anna, and how long she talks violates a reasonable expectation of privacy,” said Peter Smith. “Anna is grateful for the hard work that EFF and ACLU are doing to protect her constitutional rights."

The brief urges the Ninth Circuit to reject Smith v. Maryland as controlling precedent for the NSA’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone records given the tremendous differences between that thirty-five year old case and the government’s current practices. It notes that here, unlike Smith and similar cases, the government is collecting masses of data about the millions of people who use telephones rather than collecting targeted information about a single person suspected of criminal activity. The government collects this data about people like Ms. Smith, who has never been suspected of criminal or terrorist activity, over many years rather than just a few days. The government then aggregates that data to give a much more invasive picture of both individuals and groups.

The brief also notes that the Supreme Court has just confirmed in Riley v. California that analog-era precedents, such as those involving primitive pen registers in Smith, should not be mechanically applied to digital-era surveillance. This is especially true where, as in the searches of cellphones at issue in Riley, the consequences of government access are so much more invasive—allowing the government to tell when people are awake and asleep, when and how often they talk to clergy, doctors, lawyers, family, political contacts and lovers. As the brief explains, “The National Security Agency’s call-records program bears no resemblance to the targeted and narrowly circumscribed surveillance that the Supreme Court upheld in Smith. Indeed, the idea that Smith tacitly authorized the government permanently to impose a system of pervasive and intrusive surveillance on hundreds of millions of innocent Americans is beyond untenable.”

The government’s opposition is to be filed by October 2, 2014. A hearing is anticipated for November 2014.  The Second Circuit heard oral argument in the ACLU’s other challenge to the telephone records collection, ACLU v. Clapper, on September 2, 2014, and the D.C. Circuit has set hearing in the third case, Klayman v. Obama, for November 4, 2014. 

Related Cases: Smith v. Obama
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Hard Truths v. MSM Big Lies

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 04/09/2014 - 04:58
Hard Truths v. MSM Big Lies
by Stephen Lendman
In his book "Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media," Michael Parenti said former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson "once urged people to 'talk back' to their television sets."
"We can talk back to all the media a lot better and demand a lot more only when we know how we are being manipulated and why we are being lied to," said Parenti.
Managed news misinformation and Big Lies proliferate daily. They substitute for hard truths on issues mattering most.
Today's MSM is a lying machine. Washington's war on humanity is called humanitarian intervention. 
Israeli aggression is considered self-defense. Kiev fascist putschists are treated like democrats. 
Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are called terrorists. 
Russia's heroic conflict resolution efforts are called "invasion," "infiltration," "cross-border shelling," "significant escalation," "interference," "aggression," and other pejorative Big Lies.
Fantasy substitutes for reality. It's upside down. It's twisted to support US policy. Irresponsible Russia bashing rages daily. Washington reinvented the Evil Empire.
This time it's for greater stakes. World peace hangs in the balance. 
Madness defines US policy. MSM war on truth supports it. Cheerleading what demands condemnation risks the unthinkable. Forewarned does no good.
On August 28, New York Times editors headlined "Putin Tests the West in Ukraine," saying:
"The evidence has been mounting for some time, but there is no longer any doubt: Russian troops are in Ukraine, not as volunteers, as the rebel commander in Donetsk would have the world believe, but in units equipped with mobile artillery and heavy military equipment."
A same day Times article headlined "Ukraine Leader Says 'Huge Loads of Arms' Pour in From Russia."
It claims NATO supported satellite imagery shows "Russian forces on the move in Eastern Ukraine…"
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov debunked spurious invasion claims.
"It’s not the first time we've heard wild guesses, though facts have never been presented so far," he said.
"There have been reports about satellite imagery exposing Russian troop movements."
"They turned out to be images from video games. The latest accusations happen to be much the same quality."
No evidence whatever supports Poroshenko's claims about Russian arms pouring in cross-border.
Both sides use Russian arms. Self-defense forces captured huge amounts from defeated or retreating Ukrainian forces. 
Moscow didn't supply them. Putin has no revanchist aims. Times editors lied claiming he aims to "seize territory by force."
"Mr. Putin has played his dangerous game in Ukraine with cunning and deceit since the ouster in February of the corrupt Viktor Yanukovych lost him a Ukrainian president he could manipulate," they said.
"First he annexed Crimea outright." Times editors called it "(s)hocking and outrageous."
Fact: It bears repeating. No credible evidence whatever suggests Russia invaded Ukraine and supplies arms to self-defense forces.
Fact: Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Fact: Putin remained discretely neutral throughout months of conflict.
Fact: He didn't "annex Crimea outright."
Fact: Crimeans rejected neo-Nazi-infested fascist putschists.
Fact: They chose Russia. 
Fact: They chose to go home.
Fact: They did so by an astonishing 96.77%.
Fact: Independent monitors called the referendum open, free and fair.
Fact: Turnout was 82%.
Don't expect Times editors to explain. More Big Lies followed.
Putin held "intimidating military exercises on the Ukrainian border," they said.
He "sen(t) in ever more men and arms in support of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk."
"…Rebels shot down (MH17) with a Russian missile…"
"Russia's involvement became more overt, with reports of artillery fire across the border, armored columns crossing into Ukraine and Russian soldiers caught or killed inside Ukraine."
Fact: No intimidating Russian military exercises were held on Ukraine's border. None recently or earlier. NONE!
Fact: MH17's downing was a US/Kiev false flag.
Fact: Verifiable satellite and radar data show a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 warplane tailing MH17 before its destruction.
Fact: Fuselage photos showed penetration holes consistent with 30 millimeter cannon (machine gun) rounds.
Fact: No verifiable evidence proves cross-border Russian artillery fire, armored columns crossing into Ukraine, or Russian soldiers killed inside its border.
Times editors repeated one Big Lie after another. They did so knowingly, willfully, maliciously and disgracefully.
On August 31, Times contributor Ben Judah headlined "Arm Ukraine or Surrender."
Pejoratives substituted for sound analysis. Putin is a "smirking enigma," said Judah.
He "made it clear (he'll) annihilate Ukrainian forces if they attempt to liberate Donetsk and Luhansk."
"Ukraine's ramshackle army cannot rout (Russia's) crack troops and conscript forces…"
"Ukraine is being destroyed. The economy is in tatters. The military will not survive a Russian offensive."
Its "liberal dreams…are drowning…"
Much more of this will cost Ukraine "the fighting core of its army (and) its infatuation with the West."
Its "pro-Western liberals (won't) survive…"
"We cannot let this happen…(S)end Western military advisors to Kiev. (Provide) intelligence and satellite support."
"(S)hip them guns, tanks, drones…and even be ready to deploy NATO troops…"
Fact check:
Putin is no enigma. He's a master politician. He's a peace champion. He wants war ended, not escalated.
Russian troops aren't destroying Ukraine. They're not involved in fighting.
Ukraine is destroying itself. Its conscript army increasingly has no stomach for killing its own citizens.
Its economy is bankrupt. It's leaders are lawless. Fascists aren't liberals. Dreams they dream are hardline.
Considerable Western aid is being provided. Kiev is swarming with CIA, FBI and other Western operatives.
Deploying NATO troops puts them on Russia's border. Perhaps a false flag will become pretext for having them cross over.
On August 31, Washington Post editors headlined "Putin's propaganda keeps Russians in the dark about Ukraine and more," saying:
He "marginalized the political opposition, muzzled dissidents and intimidated independent voices in civil society."
He's "widening (his) war on Ukraine…(He) use(s)  state-controlled media to twist the truth…(He keeps) Russians…in the dark."
WaPo editors used the phrase "Big Lie." Perhaps they read this writers articles. 
The phase appears in them often. WaPo editors are a favorite target. They specialize in Big Lies.
They repeat with disturbing regularity. They substitute for hard truths. 
They claim Western sources alone present a "fair and factual version of events." They can't get ordinary Russians to believe it.
They're more savvy than most Americans. Imagine believing WaPo Big Lies are true.
Imagine relying on them for news, information and analysis. Imagine believing war is peace. 
Imagine it no matter how many previous times they learned they were lied to.
Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are scoring impressive victories. They're doing it against trained Ukrainian regulars.
Wall Street Journal editors noticed. On September 1, they headlined "Ukraine Shifts to Defense Against Russian Incursion," saying:
Its strategy is changing. It's more concerned about "defending against a broader incursion by Moscow."
They did so "following major setbacks…in recent days." Kiev forces are increasingly facing off against well-equipped fighters.
According to Defense Minister Valery Heletey, "(t)he operation to liberate the east of Ukraine from terrorists is over."
"We must urgently build our defense against Russia, which is trying not only to reinforce regions occupied earlier by terrorists, but to attack other Ukrainian regions."
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko lied claiming Russian troops were taking over control of regional cities and towns.
They're replacing self-defense forces, he said. Ukrainian troops were taking up positions to prevent Russian forces from entering Mariupol and areas close to it.
Ukrainian oligarch president Poroshenko lied accusing Moscow of "undisguised aggression."
He claimed it "fundamentally changed the situation in the zone of military action."
He wants Washington to declare freedom fighters terrorist organizations.
Putin accused Kiev of escalating conflict by refusing to negotiate in good faith.
He defended self-defense force efforts to protect civilians. Despite clear evidence otherwise, Kiev denied targeting them.
Moscow wants both sides to agree to an unconditional ceasefire. It urges diplomatic conflict resolution. 
Washington wants war, not peace. Its newest puppet regime obliges. It blames Russia and self-defense forces for its crimes.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Secrecy Trumps Public Debate in New Ruling On LA's License Plate Readers

eff.org - Thu, 04/09/2014 - 02:07

Co-Authored with Peter Bibring, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California

In a ruling that will harm the public’s ability to engage in an informed debate over the use of automated license plate readers (ALPR) in California, a judge late last week rejected EFF and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California’s argument that the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department should hand over a week's worth of license plate data.

But the ruling isn’t what you might think—the court didn’t decide that location information is too private and too sensitive to release to the public. Instead, the court held that the ALPR data qualifies as the kind of investigative record police can keep secret and that the harm to law enforcement investigations from disclosing data outweighs the value to the public of seeing what data police collect on them.  If you think that sounds like a big, blank check to California police to build surveillance programs outside of public scrutiny, you’re right.

What We Know about ALPRs

LAPD and LASD’s ALPR cameras are mounted on squad cars and at fixed locations around the region. They automatically record not just the license plate of every vehicle that passes, but also its time, date and location and a photograph of the car when its plate was scanned. These systems can collect data on hundreds of plates per minute and create a detailed picture of the comings and goings of everyday people.

LAPD and LASD admitted at our court hearing that they collect—combined and on average—data on nearly 3 million cars per week. This amounts to nearly half of all vehicles registered in Los Angeles. The agencies store this data for anywhere from two to five years—whether or not the plates are ever linked to a crime—and share it with nearly 30 other law enforcement agencies around the region. Because the data includes location information, it can become very revealing over time. It can show not only where you live and work, but also your political and religious beliefs, your social and sexual habits, your visits to the doctor, and your associations with others.

The ACLU has reported that only about .2% of plates scanned by ALPR systems are ever linked to any wrongdoing, and only 3% of those (3 out of every 50,000 plates scanned) are linked to crimes other than licensing or emissions violations. But the LA agencies claimed in court that every one of these records was part of a vast investigation into stolen vehicles and other crimes and could not be disclosed to the public—even with redactions in place to protect drivers’ privacy. Unfortunately, the court agreed.

Everyone is Under Investigation, Always.

We think drivers would be surprised to learn that they are under investigation every time they drive in public. Most people think of an “investigation” as being targeted in some way—looking for the culprit in a specific crime and focusing on a particular person or group of people police have reason to think might be involved in criminal activity. An “investigation” doesn’t usually involve collecting facts on every single person police can contact.  In fact, the Fourth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution exactly to prevent law enforcement from conducting mass, suspicionless investigations under “general warrants” that target no specific person or place and never expire.

ALPR scans look a lot like these general warrants. Even though LAPD and LASD argued that the records were collected as part of investigations into stolen vehicles and other crimes, the plate scans are not triggered by any level of suspicion at all. Instead, ALPR cameras scan every plate that comes into view—automatically—whether the squad car is in the police parking lot or driving past a mosque. The officer in the squad car does nothing to focus the camera or program it to take a picture of one vehicle rather than another. At the instant any plate is photographed, not even the computer system itself—let alone the officer—has any reason to think the plate is linked to a crime. And the cameras are on and collecting data during the officer’s entire shift. If this is really a police investigation, then it’s exactly the type of investigation the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent.

The court appears to disregard these facts, however. It held that because cops may pick specific neighborhoods to drive in or routes to follow with their camera-equipped cars, ALPR data generated by mobile cameras is targeted and “is not the indiscriminate recording of license plates.” Not only is this a fundamental misunderstanding of how these systems operate, it is an important error for our case; the court later suggests that if ALPR data were indiscriminate, “it might not constitute a record of investigation” and thus would not be exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

Is Secrecy Better than Transparency?

Perhaps more troubling is the court’s second reason for withholding records—its holding that the threat to ongoing investigations from revealing the data “substantially outweighed” the public interest in seeing the information the police collect.

There’s little in the record to suggest that historical ALPR data is really useful for ongoing investigations. ALPRs are used mostly for alerting police in real-time when a car linked with unlawful activity (from licensing violations to serious crime) is nearby, so the officer can write a ticket, make an arrest, or recover the car. But that activity wouldn’t be hindered by providing the public with a list of the vehicles ALPRs had scanned. The two agencies provided only a couple of anecdotal examples where they asserted that consulting the historical ALPR database proved useful to an investigation. And they provided no real evidence or explanation on how making the data public could threaten ongoing investigations—especially given that they could redact any data associated with plates on a "hot list." Presumably, criminals already know that their cars have license plates and might be spotted by police.

More importantly, if this data does reveal patterns of surveillance, that is even more reason for the cops to be required to release it. We sought this data in the first place because we believe that disclosure of a limited amount of data the cops collect through ALPR systems—data from one week in 2012—is necessary to inform the public debate about the appropriate use of and limitations on these systems. We think seeing the actual datapoints is the best way to understand exactly how and where cops use these cameras. For example, without the raw data, we can’t learn whether cops are scanning more plates in Compton than in Beverly Hills or scanning specific vehicles’ plates multiple times. Also, seeing those millions of data points plotted on a map of the greater LA area makes the sheer volume and intrusiveness of the surveillance apparent in a way that is more powerful than merely reciting the number of ALPR cameras in use or plate scans collected each week.

As the court noted, the CPRA “was intended to safeguard the accountability of government to the public . . . and makes public access to government records a fundamental right of citizenship.” This access provides a necessary check against government secrecy and the arbitrary exercise of official power and—because of the power the police wield—is no more necessary than when the records concern police conduct. Californians should have access to this data because it could reveal patterns of policing. Without the data, the public cannot fully determine whether the police are using ALPR systems appropriately—or in a manner that violates civil rights.

The court’s ruling in the case is dangerous because it means that the police can institute broad, suspicionless, and indiscriminate surveillance practices—practices that scoop up sensitive data on millions of law-abiding citizens—without any possibility of public review. Under the court’s ruling, you can’t request even the ALPR data police have collected about your own car. The CPRA was intended to ensure government accountability; with a ruling like this, the public’s ability to be a check against arbitrary and discriminatory police practices is severely weakened.

- Court Order — EFF & ACLU v. City & County of Los Angeles

Related Issues: PrivacyLocational PrivacyTransparencyRelated Cases: Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR)
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Kiev Fascists Murder Russian Journalist

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 22:18
Kiev Fascists Murder Russian Journalist
by Stephen Lendman
Russian photojournalist Andrew Stenin was found dead in Southeastern Ukraine. He was murdered in cold blood. More on what happened below.
Obama's new friends are cold-blooded killers. They're waging war on freedom. They're killing civilians.
They want all opposition elements crushed. They want fascist rule institutionalized. 
They want democracy in name only. They want it prevented at all costs. 
They want all independent news sources suppressed. They want their message alone getting out.
They harass, beat, terrorize, abduct and murder independent journalists. Russian ones are most vulnerable.
On August 5, Russian photojournalist Andrew Stenin went missing. He was working in Southeastern Ukraine for Russia's International Information Agency Rossiya Segdnya.
For weeks, his whereabouts was unknown. At first, Ukrainian interior minister advisor Anton Herashchenko said he was arrested for "helping terrorists." He then claimed he was misinterpreted.
Earlier, the International Federation of Journalists expressed "serious concern" for his wellbeing. In mid-August, it issued a statement, saying:
"He's a journalist, not a soldier, and as such is entitled to move freely and report the truth without the threat of intimidation, violence or detention."
At the time, Russia's Foreign Ministry said he "could be a victim of a malicious attack."
Reporters Without Borders called for his immediate release. US National Press Club president Myron Belkind issued a statement, saying:
"It is very important that Andrew Stenin be quickly located and freed if he is being held by Ukrainian security services."
It's "crucial that all sides in this conflict…cease obstructing the ability of the press to cover events in eastern Ukraine, which are of great consequence to the Ukrainian public and to the international community." 
Kiev stonewalled Russia's all-out efforts to locate and free Stenin. Ukrainian interior ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko said he didn't "want to be bothered by questions on (his) fate."
On September 3, Rossiya Segodnya director general Dmitry Kiselev said Stenin died weeks earlier when a car he was traveling in came under fire. It "burnt on a highway in the vicinity of Donetsk."
Autopsy results identified Stenin's body. "He was indeed in that car. The 33-year-old young man (was) a brilliant professional, someone who cared."
Despite all-out efforts to free him, he "was already no longer with us." 
His photographs are "a gift of remembrance…He sacrificed his life (for them)." For "the sole purpose of (telling) the world…the truth."
"Rest in peace, Andrei Stenin. You will never be forgotten."
The Russian Investigative Committee (RIC) said he was among others killed during an attack on at least 10 vehicles carrying civilians.
"It turned out that he was not taken prisoner. It turned out, no one planned to swap him for any Ukrainian military personnel or accuse him of terrorist activities," it explained. 
"All of the announcements that we heard from the Ukrainians about Stenin’s fate were lies." 
"He died one month ago in a car that he was in while fulfilling his journalistic duties." 
"The vehicle came under fire and burned down on a highway near Donetsk."
According to RIC's Vladimir Markin:
The next day, Ukrainian commanders examined what happened, removed civilian contents and identified victims.
When they left, vehicles were "fired on with Grad missiles. The investigation will not stop at determining the exact details of the shooting. It also aims to find those responsible and bring them to justice."
Vladmir Putin sent condolences by telegram, saying:
"We believed that Andrei would return home to his family and friends, but the bitter news has wiped out that hope." 
"He fulfilled his journalistic and human commitment to the end. He did everything possible so that people, the whole world would know the truth of the tragic events occurring in Donetsk."
Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a stinging statement. In part it said:
"We experienced a feeling of deep pain and resentment upon learning about the shocking circumstances of the death of Rossiya Segodnya photojournalist Andrei Stenin, who last called his editorial office on 5 August 2014."
"We express our sincere and deep condolences to Andrei’s family and friends and sympathy for and solidarity with the staff of Rossiya Segodnya and the Russian journalistic community."
"We demand that Kiev conduct a thorough and objective investigation of Andrei Stenin’s murder and mete out severe punishment to the culprits."
"Russia has lost four journalists in Ukraine over the past few months, which is unprecedented…" 
They include correspondent Igor Kornelyuk, video engineer Anton Voloshin, cameraman Anatoly Klyan, and photojournalist Stenin.
"An end must be put immediately to Kiev’s illegitimate efforts to prevent journalists from doing their duty, including by attacking, murdering, detaining and kidnapping (them) from 'undesirable' media outlets." 
"We expect the international community, including the United States and the European Union member-countries, who seemingly care so much for the freedom of speech and media in other countries and regions of the world, to exercise decisive influence on Kiev in this respect."
"How many more innocent lives must be sacrificed before Kiev stops its reckless and criminal policy towards millions of people in southeastern Ukraine?"
"Its (US-led) Western patrons must review their hypocritical and double-dealing approach to the human rights disaster in Ukraine…"
Separately, Russia's Foreign Ministry said:
Forensic examination of his remains "suggests…another barbarous murder - the work of Ukrainian security forces and (neo-Nazi-infested) National Guard (fighters who) controlled, according to eyewitnesses, the territory in which cars came under fire, including" the one with Stenin's body.
Throughout weeks without knowledge of his fate, MSM scoundrels ignored him entirely.
At the same time, they obsessed over US journalist James Foley's beheading. 
Again when an Islamic State video released Tuesday showed American journalist Steven Sotloff met the same fate.
What about thousands of Southeastern Ukrainian victims of illegal US-supported and encouraged Kiev aggression?
What about longstanding Israeli brutalizing collective punishment of millions of defenseless Palestinians?
What about countless millions of post-9/11 victims of US wars of aggression? 
What about many millions more unmentioned, forgotten, ignored and uncared about?
What about unspeakable longstanding US-led Western genocidal crimes of war and against humanity?
What about justice systematically denied? What about Western journalists supporting what demands condemnation? 
What about Big Lies suppressing truth? What about Washington using the deaths of two US journalists to justify more lawless aggression?
What about MSM scoundrels supporting it? What about their reporting nothing about Stenin's disappearance, death, how it happened and who's responsible?
What about a possible planned major false flag on US soil to enlist popular support for more war? A second 9/11 type event. It's been 13 years since the last one.
Before confirmation of Stenin's death, global rallies demanded his release. RT International featured daily "free Andrew" alerts.
Activists collected signatures on his behalf. They did so to petition Kiev for his release. It included thousands of photos he took in Southeastern Ukraine.
Anti-fascist Dveri movement leader Vladan Glisic said "(w)e believe that Ukraine must follow international conventions on the right of journalists and that attacks on journalists must be stopped regardless of where they take place."
Separately, NATO heads of state meeting in Brussels Thursday and Friday are expected to confirm the creation of a rapid reaction force targeting Russia.
Thousands of combat-ready forces will be deployed near its border. NATO calls it "sustain(ing) a robust (Eastern European) presence…"
Doing so risks the unthinkable - direct East/West confrontation.
Russia's Security Council deputy secretary, Mikkail Popov, said Moscow will review its military doctrine in response to NATO's planned Eastern European expansion.
"I have no doubts that the issue of drawing of military infrastructure of NATO member-countries to the borders of our country, including via enlargement, will remain one of the external military threats for the Russian Federation," he said.
"We consider that defining factor in (Moscow's) relations with NATO will remain the unacceptability for Russia of the expansion plans of alliance's military infrastructure to our borders, including via enlargement."
"Many high-ranked officials reproached the leaders of our country saying that NATO isn't a Russia's enemy and will never attack Russia." 
"But is that true? We were assured of good intentions, but the actions of recent years show entirely different things."
Russia's role in Ukraine is mischaracterized. "(W)rong conclusions are drawn and wrong measures are applied."
"There is an unprecedented informational-propagandist campaign against Russia." 
"The image of the enemy is presented in the face of Russia and its politics is considered as a new threat to NATO."
Irresponsible Putin bashing persists. It's a growth industry. Truth is systematically buried. 
Western media consumers get a daily diet of misinformation, distortions and Big Lies.
The latest brouhaha is over Putin's conversation with European Commission president Jose Manual Barroso.
Putin's comment about "taking Kiev in two weeks" was leaked to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. 
It was published on Monday. On Tuesday, the broadsheet criticized Barroso for disclosing content from a private diplomatic phone call.
Putin made it in response to false claims about Russian troops in Ukraine. It was distorted.
It was taken entirely out of context. Presidential aid Yury Ushakov said the quote "had a very different meaning."
He criticized Barroso for making it public. He called doing so "incorrect and goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices."
"(I)t is not worthy of a serious political figure." He and other Western leaders irresponsibly accuse Moscow of escalating conflict in Ukraine without verifiable proof.
MSM sources jumped on what happened. On September 2, The New York Times headlined "Putin Reportedly Says Russia Could 'Take Kiev in Two Weeks,' " saying:
He "added a new dimension to the tensions building in Ukraine as Russian forces become more involved in the fighting there."
His "remarks and the increasing presence of Russian military units in Ukraine have posed a stark new challenge to the alliance about how to respond to Moscow's apparent willingness to exert military force to achieve its foreign policy goals."
"Mr. Putin is known for littering his public statements with twists of braggadocio…"
Fact check:
Russia didn't invade Ukraine. Its forces aren't involved in its conflict. No evidence suggests otherwise.
The Times hypes the Big Lie repeatedly. Claims about "Moscow's apparent willingness to exert military force to achieve its foreign policy goals are patently false.
Wednesday reports of a Russian/Ukrainian agreed on "cease-fire regime" are greatly exaggerated.
Ukrainian oligarch president Petro Poroshenko said both sides "reached mutual understanding on the steps that will facilitate the establishment of peace."
At first he said agreement was reached for a "a permanent cease-fire." A retraction followed. It said both presidents exchanged opinions. No formal agreement was reached.
According to Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov:
Both leaders agreed on steps towards peace but no ceasefire. "Russia cannot physically agree to (one) because it is not a party to the conflict," he stressed.
Last week in Minsk, Putin said "we are not in a position to discuss any ceasefire terms or likely agreements between Kiev, Donetsk an Luhansk. That's none of our business but Ukraine's internal affair."
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) defense ministry press service head Vladislav Brig said:
"Nobody is holding negotiations about a cease-fire with the representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic." 
"As long as there are Ukrainian soldiers on our territory, there will be no cease-fire." The battle for Ukraine's soul continues.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Right to Know: The PACER Mess And How to Clean It

eff.org - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 09:40

PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is the government-run online system used by lawyers, the press, and the public to access public federal court records in the United States. The administrators of that system recently announced that a huge number of documents from five federal courts have been permanently removed from its database and are no longer publicly viewable. For one circuit court, only documents filed within the last 2.5 years are now available; for two other circuit courts, documents now go back only 4 years. 

Though this change appears to be part of PACER’s attempt to join the 21st Century—the removal is part of PACER’s migration to its NextGen system, which is incompatible with the decades-old legacy systems holding these records—it stands in sharp contrast to the Supreme Court’s acknowledgement in Nixon v. Warner Communications that the public has “a common-law right of access to judicial records” and to PACER’s own mission of making records more accessible.1

The removal of the files of five U.S. federal courts from its system deserves to be lambasted for many reasons (don’t worry: we’ll get to that below). But it can also serve as an important—and, we hope, enticing—invitation to the affected courts: Given that the removed documents are already digitized as PDFs and that numerous organizations have offered to host the documents for free, we encourage the courts to publish their records elsewhere and finally make their public records truly accessible to the public.

The Mess

PACER’s removal of records on August 11 has been an undeniable mess. First, the removal happened a mere day after the plan was announced. And the initial announcement didn’t even provide all of the details of the change (a screenshot of the original is available here).

Given that PACER is the one-and-only system for Public Access to Court Electronic Records—including a number of important civil rights decisions the records of which were removed—more notice should have been given.

Second, this shift marks a serious step back, even for PACER.

PACER has long drawn the ire of open-government activists like the late Aaron Swartz and Public.Resource.Org’s Carl Malamud for charging users to access public documents (10 cents per page for search results and 10 cents per page for documents retrieved). These charges quickly add up—both for users and for PACER. In fact, according to a 2009 New York Times report, PACER had a surplus of $150 million. We believe PACER should not charge people to access the law. These records have the potential to impact people’s lives on a daily basis, and the fact that the fees have resulted in a profit is absurd.

The Cleaning Solution

For years, activists like Swartz and Malamud attempted to free court records for the public. In 2008, Malamud raised funds to put 50 years of federal appellate court records online, while encouraging other activists to do the same. Swartz heeded the call and wrote a program to download records that 17 libraries were offering for free as part of a pilot trial. Swartz’s program so alarmed those in charge that they shut the pilot program down, and the FBI even conducted a politically-charged investigation, though no charges were filed.

Since then, tools have emerged to assist in liberating court records. One such tool is RECAP, a Firefox and Chrome extension that allows PACER users to donate the documents they view to the Internet Archive, which can then be accessed by other users without incurring fees. The Free Law Project and Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy maintain the extension.

In response to the current PACER mess, several organizations, including the Free Law Project and Public.Resource.Org, have sent letters to the Chief Judge of each affected court, requesting the removed records so they can make them available once again to journalists, researchers, lawyers, and the general public.

These organizations are giving the courts the opportunity not only to make the records available online again but, even better, to make them available online for free. The courts have nothing to lose and much to gain by fulfilling this request: the records are already digitized, and simply need to be hosted somewhere. The Free Law Project and Public.Resource.Org are offering to do just that, and at absolutely no cost to the courts, litigants, academics, or the public. We urge the courts to take these organizations up on their offer.

  • 1. PACER notes that people who wish to obtain the deleted records can still do so the old-fashioned way, by requesting hard copies directly from the court. But, given that these records are already digitized and were previously available online, this marks an absurd regression.
Related Issues: Open Access
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Top 20 Cosplay Activists from Project Secret Identity at Dragon Con

eff.org - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 07:28

Over Labor Day weekend, more than 75 cosplayers at Dragon Con became Internet freedom heroes for real, using their fantastic costumes to highlight how anonymity and privacy are crucial to free expression.

It was all part of Project Secret Identity, a cross-fandom activism campaign organized by EFF, io9, the Southeastern Browncoats, the Harry Potter Alliance, the Baker Street Babes, Wattpad and the Organization for Transformative Works. Even avatars from virtual worlds organized a march online in solidarity.

Choosing just 20 of the best images was a superhuman task in itself, so hop over to ProjectSecretIdentity.org to see the full selection.

Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy

Black Panther and Storm from the Marvel universe

Tank Girl

Psylocke from the Marvel Universe

A Clockwork Joker

Jase Robertson from Duck Dynasty

A Giant Jayne's Hat from Firefly

Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy

Pam from Archer

Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand from Game of Thrones

Red Lantern and Green Lantern from the DC universe

Jayne from Firefly

Draconian from Dragon Ball

Charles Zi Brittania from Code Geass

Splicer from Bio Shock

Red Green and Raven from the DC universe

Professor Kai Drakken, Steampunk

HUNK and Lady HUNK from Resident Evil

Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter

A Rococo Punk

Pikachu from Pokémon

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymity
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Supreme Court Sends Stupid Software Patent Back To Federal Circuit, Again

eff.org - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 05:38

Update: On August 28, 2014, EFF asked the Federal Circuit for permission to file a short amicus brief in this appeal. Our brief argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank requires that Ultramercial’s patent on showing ads before content (but on the Internet!) be invalidated as abstract. Since this case has bounced back and forth between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit, this is now the fourth amicus brief EFF has prepared arguing that the patent is invalid.

Is adding “do it on the Internet” enough to make an abstract idea patentable? That’s the question for the Federal Circuit when it considers, for the third time, Ultramercial’s idiotic patent on showing an online advertisement before a “media product.” The Ultramercial case is the first big test for the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank. If the patent stands, the Federal Circuit will be insisting on business as usual. If it falls, many other abstract software and Internet patents should soon fall with it.

The Ultramercial case has been bouncing around the federal courts for years. In 2010, a trial court held the patent invalid on the grounds it claimed an abstract idea. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed, finding the patent non-abstract because it “clearly require[s] specific application to the Internet and a cyber-market environment.” The Supreme Court then sent the case back to the Federal Circuit for reconsideration. In a remarkable decision by former Chief Judge Randall Rader, the lower court thumbed its nose at Supreme Court authority and upheld the patent for a second time. The defendants returned to the Supreme Court. EFF filed an amicus brief urging the Court to take the case and find the patent abstract.

While the second Ultramercial petition was pending, the Supreme Court decided Alice v CLS Bank, holding that adding “do it on a computer” does not make an otherwise abstract idea patentable. Today, rather than issue a ruling on the merits in Ultramercial, the Supreme Court issued what's known as a "GVR order," sending the case back to the Federal Circuit (again) for reconsideration in light of its Alice ruling.

In a sane world, Ultramercial would be an easy case. Tying an abstract idea to the Internet (or even a “cyber-market environment”) should not render it patentable. Also, courts must not be conned by the faux-complexity of the claims. The Supreme Court cautioned in Alice that patent eligibility should not “depend simply on the draftsman’s art.” The techno-babble in Ultramercial’s patent, and the Federal Circuit’s credulous treatment of it, is a good example of exactly the opposite.

Patents like this one, which are the favorite weapon of patent trolls, should never have been granted in the first place. But since the USPTO has already flooded the system with thousands of similarly vague and abstract patents, we need courts to strike them down before they do any more damage. And we need judges to rule early in litigation (like here and here) so that defendants—especially small businesses and startups—don’t have to spend millions to defeat a bad patent.

Back in 2010, after the original trial court decision, Mike Masnick of Techdirt wrote that the Ultramercial case would be “worth watching.” Since then, the patent has become a poster child for stupid software patents. Nearly four years later, we’re still watching to see if the courts will protect innovators from a patent that should never have issued.

Files:  eff_motion_amicus_brief_-_ultramercial_v_wildtangent_-_8-28-2014.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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Israel Breaches Gaza Ceasefire Agreement

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 04:39
Israel Breaches Gaza Ceasefire Agreement
by Stephen Lendman
Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. Straightaway Gaza ceasefire agreed on terms were violated.
Twelve Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) activists were arrested. Their whereabouts remains unknown.
Days earlier, Israeli soldiers targeted Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar in Ramallah.
She's ordered deported to Jericho for six months. She got 24 hours to leave. 
Israel wrongfully accused her of "pos(ing) a threat to the security of the region, so she must be put under special monitoring." More on Jarrar below.
On September 2, Israeli warships used live fire against Palestinian fishermen off Gaza's coast. They did so in flagrant violation of Operation Protective Edge ceasefire terms.
It permits fishing within a six nautical mile limit. They were well inside it. They escaped injury. 
An IDF spokeswoman lied claiming they "deviated from the designated fishing zone."
Israel breached its pledge to ease Gaza's blockade. Palestinians report business as usual.
According to OCHA's Occupied Palestinian Territory deputy head of office Maria Jose Torres:
"(T)here hasn't been any change in the regime of allowing passage for people or goods."
"We were expecting that the agreement of the ceasefire would have some kind of timeline for easing and lifting the blockade but so far" there's nothing.
Hamas spokesman Wael Abu Omar said Gazan authorities expected an immediate easing of restrictions following both sides agreeing to ceasefire terms.
Truck traffic entering Gaza hasn't increased. "We are waiting for what (was) promised, but until now nothing has changed," he said.
Fikr Shaltoot heads the UK-based Medical Aid for the Palestinians. She's disappointed by no change.
"We were hoping to see immediate change on all the crossings. So far I don't see any kind of improvement on this," she said. The need for medical care alone in Gaza is acute, she stressed. 
"Even before the aggression, there were severe shortages of drugs - 28 percent of essential goods were at zero stock," she said. "Now the situation is critical."
Egyptian restrictions remain stringent. Cairo and Tel Aviv conspire against Palestinians. This agreement like earlier ones may collapse.
According to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson, ceasefire terms have virtually no enforcement mechanisms.
Expect promises Israel made to be broken.  Expect business as usual to continue.
Big Lies accompany all Israeli crimes. Doing so justifies the unjustifiable.
On the same day ceasefire terms were agreed on, Israel demolished the Hebron Islamic Charitable Society's (HICS) dairy factory, as well as five East Jerusalem Bedouin homes, four steel structures, and a barn belonging to the affected families.
According to HICS's chairman Hatim al-Bakri, Israel was responsible for "about 2 million US dollars" in damages.
"Services (HICS) offers to orphans in the Nebron district will be badly affected." During Ramadan, Israel confiscated HICS belongings.
On September 2, Israeli forces opened fire on a vehicle carrying Palestinian workers. They did so at a checkpoint near Qalqiliya.
The driver was critically injured. He lost control of the vehicle. It crashed into the side of the road. A passenger with him was shot.
These type incidents occur with disturbing regularity. They reflect police state lawlessness. They generate fear. 
Many Palestinians aren't sure each day at sunrise if they'll see it set. They live in a virtual war zone.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces raided Anzah village near Jenin. They ransacked dozens of homes. 
They arrested 17 men. They committed no crimes. They kidnapped a Husan village resident near Bethlehem. 
They invade Beta village near Nablus. They prevented area residents and trucks from entering or leaving. 
They set up a roadblock at Beta's entrance. They searched cars. They interrogated residents. They closed Beta's flea market. They did so because stones were thrown at a settler's car.
State terror is official Israeli policy. These type incidents happen multiple times daily. 
Amnesty International calls Israel "trigger happy." Excess force is standard practice. Dozens of Palestinians are murdered annually. 
Thousands are wounded. Thousands more lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms. Children are treated like adults.
Persecution, deaths, injuries and imprisonment are part of daily Palestinian life. So is war without mercy whenever Israel chooses for any reason or none at all.
Jarrar is one of many Palestinian victims. She remains in Ramallah. 
“It is my right, as an elected parliamentarian, to stay with my people and to serve them from here," she said.
So I announce that I will not go to Jericho, and I will not implement the military order. I’m staying here serving my people and working from here."
“Transferring me from my house to another city is illegal and is against the international humanitarian law."
"There is now (a supportive) international campaign (on her behalf). I hope this will succeed, but I will not leave the Legislative Council." She remains inside for her safety.
On August 25, 12 Palestinian human rights organizations and three other Palestinian groups addressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on behalf of Jarrar. 
In part they said:
"We, the undersigned Palestinian coalitions and associations, request your immediate intervention on behalf of Palestinian Legislative Council Member Khalida Jarrar who has recently been issued with an Israeli military order detailing her forcible transfer."
"At approximately 1.30AM on 20 August 2014 Israeli forces surrounded Jarrar's home in Ramallah and delivered to her the military order which she refused to sign." 
"The order states that Jarrar is 'dangerous to the general security of the area'. Since then she has taken refuge at the PLC building in Ramallah where she remains."
"The current order is clearly a continuation of the Israeli policy of targeting elected representatives of the Palestinian people. There are currently 36 PLC members being held in Israeli prisons, 28 of these are being held in administration, which is a form of detention without charge of trial."
"For too long there has been an unwillingness by yourself as Secretary-General and the United Nations as a whole to pressure Israel to end its occupation policies, whether these be (waging) war on Gaza, the treatment of political prisoners or the targeting of Palestinian elected representatives." 
"It is this unwillingness that has led Israel to believe that it can continue to act free in the knowledge that it will not be held accountable." 
"It is clear that unless enough pressure is brought on Israel, particularly by the United Nations, Israel will not change its policies."
"Jarrar was elected to the PLC in 2006…" She's been "active within Palestinian society for many years."
She notably advocates on behalf of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.
She heads the PLC Prisoners Committee. She represents the PLC in the Council of Europe.
Israel's military order violates Fourth Geneva articles 42 and 49. They prohibit assigned residency of protected persons as well as forced collective or individual transfers.
The undersigned called on Ban to intervene immediately. To "ensure that (Israel):
  • Immediately revokes the military order related to Jarrar's forcible transfer.

  • Immediately release all imprisoned PLC members, including all those held under administrative detention, and cease its policy of targeting PLC members."

Signed by:
Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Organization
Al-Haq
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Defense for Children International Palestine Section
Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Palestine Bar Association
Palestinian Journalist Syndicate
PNGO - Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network
On September 2, Haaretz editors headlined "Netanyahu's government is not serious about peace," saying:
His "conduct during most of his time in office makes a mockery of his various slogans and declarations concerning new diplomatic opportunities."
Straightaway after to agreeing to Gaza ceasefire terms, declaring a "diplomatic vision" and "new opportunities in the Middle East," business as usual continued.
He prioritizes violence and instability. He "continues to prove right the Palestinians' claims that Israel has no interest in peace talks." 
His Civil Administration confiscated nearly 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land. He breached core international law doing so.
On the one hand, he promises peace. On the other, he goes out of his way to prevent it.
He "turn(ed) Israel into an internationally boycotted pariah state that sacrifices the possibility of peace on the altar of its imperialist and messianic aspirations…"
He "perpetuates…bloody conflict." Operation Protective Edge was the latest example. It followed others. It assures more to come.
Rogue terror states operate this way. Israel and America are the world's worst. They commit virtually every crime imaginable and then some.
They violate core international laws in the process. What can't go on forever, won't. 
Nations that live by the sword, die by it. Humanity hopes it can't happen a moment too soon.
A Final Comment
On September 2, Israeli media said Netanyahu told a closed cabinet session he won't send a delegation to Cairo for further discussions.
Operation Protective Edge ceasefire terms require both sides to do so. Major issues remain unresolved. So does addressing Israeli violations.
According to Palestinian Cairo delegation member Qais Abd al-Karim, Israeli ceasefire term breaches render the agreement null and void. 
Things appear heading this way now. Broken promises follow virtually all Israeli agreements. 
It systematically breaches what it pledges. Expect nothing different this time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Blocking Consumer Choice: Google's Dangerous Ban of Privacy and Security App

eff.org - Wed, 03/09/2014 - 04:31

As reported last week in the Wall Street Journal, Google has banned the privacy and security app Disconnect Mobile from the play store. By doing so, Google has shown once again that it cares more about allowing third-parties to monetize the tracking of its users than about allowing those users to ensure their own security and privacy. The banned app, Disconnect Mobile, is designed to stop non-consensual third party trackers on Android (much like EFF's Privacy Badger does in Firefox or Chrome). Disconnect released their app in the Android Play Store and Apple's App Store a little over a week ago. Google removed the app just five days after it was released, citing Section 4.4 of the Play Store developer distribution agreement.1 This section states that developers agree not to use the Play Store to distribute apps that interfere with or disrupt the services of any third party.

On its face this may seem like a reasonable rule?it would block DDOS tools from the Play Store, for example?but on further inspection it's obvious that this rule is overly vague, allowing Google to be selective in its enforcement. After all, any antivirus app or firewall could be considered to be violating these terms of service, since they would interfere with the services of a (malicious) third-party. Yet firewall and antivirus apps abound in the Play Store. Clearly enforcement of this clause is selective.

So why is Disconnect Mobile being targeted? This question seems especially puzzling given that Disconnect’s goal—blocking non-consensual third-party trackers—is as virtuous as the goals of any antivirus or firewall app. After all, who would want shadowy services collecting their browsing habits across the Internet without their consent? An app that blocks trackers like this seems like it would be a great thing to have in the Play Store, especially when you consider that the trackers it blocks can be used for nefarious goals such as spreading malware and spying on civilians. Simply put, technologies such as Disconnect and Privacy Badger are important for the security and privacy of end users. They are also incredibly popular?within days of being in the Apple App store Disconnect is already the number one utility app.

So again, why is Disconnect Mobile being targeted? The problem lies in the fact that many online advertisers participate in this sneaky tracking in order to build up reading profiles of users for marketing purposes, whether users have opted in or not. As a result, Disconnect Mobile blocks these types of ads—even though ad-blocking is incidental to its primary goal. Because of this, Google has deemed Disconnect Mobile to be “interfering” with these sneaky third-party services—services its users don’t want. In other words, Google appears to be interpreting its rules to mean that "apps that interfere with Google's business model" will be banned, rather than "apps that interfere with user security and privacy." By removing this app from the Play Store Google is putting its users at risk and sending the message that it cares more about its bottom line than its users' security.2

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Google has decided to prioritize third-party ad services over its users’ privacy. Just last year Google removed a similar application, Adblock Plus, from the app store for the same reasons it cites now. By removing these applications, we believe that Google is setting a dangerous precedent. The profits of Google's business partners should never come before the security and privacy of its users.

Fortunately, this doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Google could easily re-write their policy to allow apps in the Play Store that, at the direction of Android users, block third-party tracking systems while still allowing advertisements that respect user's privacy preferences. We strongly encourage Google to make this change?otherwise their users will start to migrate to app distribution platforms that support privacy and freedom, and Google could see its well of ad revenues start to run dry.

  • 1. The iOS version remains available in Apple’s App Store.
  • 2. We should point out that you can still sideload apps like Disconnect Mobile on to your phone even if they’re not in the Play Store. While we applaud the fact that Google allows sideloaded apps on Android, the fact remains that most users do not know how to sideload applications. Sideloading is also a significantly more time-consuming process, and sideloaded apps also do not benefit from being automatically updated, causing security problems if users are not getting patched software. In light of this, sideloading is obviously not an adequate solution.
Related Issues: PrivacyDo Not TrackSecurity
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Castro Compares NATO to Nazis

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/09/2014 - 23:01
Castro Compares NATO to Nazis
by Stephen Lendman
In a Monday Cuba state media article, Castro accused Washington and EU allies of warmongering. 
He compared NATO to Hitler's SS. More on what he said below.
At age 88, Castro is outspoken on geopolitical issues mattering most. His intellect remains keen. 
His honesty and integrity are impeccable. His forthrightness is noteworthy. His knowledge of vital issues is impressive. 
He survived hundreds of US attempts to kill him, a punishing embargo and countless other hostile acts.
In 2006, illness forced him to step down. Reports at the time erroneously pronounced him dead or dying.
He recovered and remains active. Hopefully he has many more productive years left.
On the occasion of his 88th birthday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called him the "central figure of the new independence of Latin America and the Caribbean."
“Fidel Castro is the refounding of the ideas of José Martí and the Bolivarian project in the twentieth century, which led him to victory on an island that was in the plans of colonization of America." 
"Even his bitterest opponents will have to recognize that Fidel managed to bring out the Cuban sentiment, independence and took the island from the colonial clutches of the United States forever, but never in history will be settled."
"Fidel is a giant," said Maduro. He's a role model for right over wrong. He's a legend in his own time. He's polar opposite rogue Western leaders.
US-led NATO is a global killing machine. It threatens humanity's survival. 
It prioritizes war. It deplores peace. It ravages and destroys one country after another. 
Humanity's survival depends on eliminating this cancer once and for all. The alternative is too grim to tolerate.
Castro accused Western politicians of hypocrisy and aggression. The West is "a symbol of imperialist policy," he said. 
Instead of waging war, "governments should produce food and industrial products, build hospitals and schools for the billions of human beings who desperately need them; promote art and culture, struggle against epidemics which (kill) half of the sick (and) finally eliminate…cancer" and many other life-threatening diseases.
"Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European spokesmen for NATO when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS." 
"Adolf Hitler's greed-based empire went down in history with no more glory than the encouragement provided to NATO's aggressive and bourgeois governments, which makes them the laughing stock of Europe and the world."
"The world has seen no respite in recent years, particularly since the European Economic Community, under the strict and unconditional leadership of the United States, decided the time had come to settle scores with what was left of two great nations (Russia and China) that…had carried out the heroic deed of putting an end to the imperialist colonial order imposed on the world by Europe and the United States."
Cuba will keep resisting, he stressed. "(T)here is no worse price than capitulating before an enemy who attacks you without any right to do so."
"When the USSR disintegrated and disappeared from the socialist landscape, we continued resisting and together, the state and the revolutionary people, we're continuing our independent march."
Castro praised the former Soviet Union for "gathering its resources and sharing its technology with a large number of weak and less developed nations, the inevitable victims of colonial exploitation." 
He accused Senator John McCain of supporting Israel's Mossad. Washington and Israel created the Islamic State, he said.
Today it "controls a considerable and vital portion of Iraq and reportedly one-third of Syria as well."
"Global society has known no peace in recent years, particularly since the European Economic Community, under the absolute, inflexible direction of the United States, decided that the time had come to settle accounts with what remained of two great nations which, inspired by the ideas of Marx, had achieved the great feat of ending the imperialist colonial order imposed on the world by Europe and the United States."
"Would a true society of nations be convenient or not, in the current world, one in which respect is shown for rights, beliefs, culture, technologies and resources in accessible places around the world…"
"And wouldn't the world be much more just today…if people saw in others a friend or brother, and not an enemy disposed to kill, with weapons which human knowledge has been capable of creating?"
"Believing that human beings could be capable of having such objectives, I think that absolutely no one has the right to destroy cities; murder children; pulverize homes; sow terror, hunger and death anywhere." 
"In what corner of the world can such acts be justified?"
"A colossal fraud is what is seen today, as problems emerge which suggest the possible eruption of a war, with the use of weapons which could mean the end of human existence."
"There are unscrupulous actors, apparently more than a few, which consider meritorious their willingness to die, but above all to kill in defense of their indecent privileges."
"Cynicism is something which has become symbolic of imperial policy."
Castro remains outspoken on major issues. He worries most about possible nuclear war. In March 2012, his article headlined "The roads leading to disaster."
"As far as I am concerned," he said, "I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit, and lead the world toward, the greatest error in its history."
"Does anyone think that the United States will be capable of acting with the independence that could preserve it from the inevitable disaster awaiting it?"
"It is really extraordinary to observe a nation so powerful technologically and a government so bereft of both ideas and moral values."
"The Israeli government has openly declared its intention to attack the enriched uranium production plant in Iran, and the government of the United States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in manufacturing a bomb for that purpose."
"Imagine United States (and/or Israeli) forces dropping monstrous bombs, capable of penetrating 60 meters of cement, on industrial facilities. Never before has such an adventure been conceived."
In a July 2010 videotaped interview, he expected Washington and Israel to target Iran, saying:
"When they launch war, they’re going to launch it there. It cannot help but be nuclear. I believe the danger of war is growing a lot. They are playing with fire."
At stake is humanity's survival, Castro explained. It's being "led inexorably toward disaster," he believes. He hasn't "the slightest doubt," he said.
In August 2010, his article headlined "Nuclear Winter," saying:
"(W)e do not need a nuclear world war for our species to perish. A nuclear conflict between any two nations can do it."
"A nuclear war is inevitable," he added. It could happen any time for any reason.
On July 18, his article titled "Astonishing Provocation" blamed Kiev for downing MH17. At the same time, he denounced Israel's Operation Protective Edge.
He called it "a heinous crime." Washington fully backed it. "Obama did not support David against Goliath, but Goliath against David," he said.
"I only wish to express my solidarity with this heroic people defending the last inch of what was their homeland for thousands of years," he added.
In his Monday Cuba state media article, Castro said "(j)ust ideas will triumph, or disaster will triumph."

Given Washington's imperial agenda, he very much fears the latter.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Elizabeth Warren: Hold the Cheers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/09/2014 - 07:18
Elizabeth Warren: Hold the Cheers
by Stephen Lendman
Populism isn't a Beltway attribute. Or good faith. Or supporting government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly. 
Monied interests run America. Republicans and Democrats serve at their discretion. They constitute duopoly power. 
They're two sides of the same coin. On major issues mattering most, not a dime's worth of difference separates them.
In September 2010, Obama appointed then Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren as interim Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) head until a permanent director was named.
Appointing her let the agency begin operating without going through a potentially contentious Senate confirmation battle.
She became an assistant to the president and advisor to then Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
In July 2011, former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray replaced her. It didn't matter. BCFP is largely toothless.
It's nominally charged with overseeing banking practices with regard to credit cards, mortgages, payday loans, student loans, and other consumer financial products.
It provides consumer-friendly cover for ineffective Dodd-Frank legislation. Enactment did nothing to curtail practices responsible for 2008 financial crisis conditions.
Warren is no consumer rights champion. She did nothing to urge prosecution of Wall Street crooks. She's part of the problem, not the solution. 
She's no threat to business as usual. Her so-called progressive credentials are fake. 
They're based on occasional weak-kneed banking industry criticisms. They're too tepid to matter. Toothless best describes them.
She avoids criticizing appalling administration policies. Its war on humanity doesn't bother her. 
Nor protracted Main Street Depression conditions. Nor Obama's homeland police state apparatus. 
Nor Israel's genocidal Operation Protective Edge. More on this below.
She "came up the hard way," she says. She claims her life's work is fighting for middle class families. Her position on key issues belies her high-minded rhetoric.
At age 16, she was an Oklahoma state champion debater. She's a University of Houston and Rutgers Law School graduate. She was editor of its Law Review.
She taught law at Rutgers, the University of Michigan, the University of Houston Law Center, the University of Texas School of Law, and University of Pennsylvania's School of Law.
In 1992, she became Harvard Law School's Gottlieb Professor of Law.
She's a former FDIC Committee on Economic Inclusion and Executive Council of the National Bankruptcy Conference member.
She served as an American Law Institute vice-president. She was chief advisor to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.
She chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Her writings include dozens of articles, six academic books and several best-selling ones.
In September 2011, she announced her senatorial candidacy. She challenged Republican incumbent Scott Brown.
On November 6, 2012, she became Massachusetts' first female senator. She holds Ted Kennedy's former seat. 
She serves on the Committee on Aging, the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
She's touted as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. She says she has no plan to run.
During a late August town hall meeting, she defended the indefensible. She supports Israel's right bomb and shell hospitals, schools, mosques and residential neighborhoods.
She did so based on its spurious claim about targeting Hamas rockets inside or nearby.
"(W)hen Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they're using their civilian population to protect their military assets," she claimed.
"And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself," she added.
She's mindless of well-planned preemptive Israeli aggression. She ludicrously claimed the "last thing Israel wants" is civilian casualties.
Targeting them is official Israeli policy. It's called Dahiya or the Dahiya Doctrine.
It's named after a Beirut suburb. Israeli forces attacked and destroyed it during their 2006 Lebanon war of aggression.
General Gadi Eizenkot is the most prominent Dahiya exponent. He explained it as follows, saying:
"We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction."
"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases."
"This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."
War without mercy is official Israeli policy. Civilians are targeted like combatants. Children are treated like adults. Women like men.
All Israeli wars are dirty ones. Rules of war don't matter. Or core international laws, norms and standards.
Warren defended the indefensible. Over 2,100 dead Palestinians don't matter. 
The vast majority were civilians. They included over 550 children and hundreds of women.
Israel murdered 89 entire families in cold blood. Warren irresponsibly blames Hamas for Israeli crimes.
She justified premeditated aggression based on America's "very special relationship with Israel." It supports its killing machine.
Both nations partner in high crimes against peace. According to Warren:
"Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law."
"And we very much need an ally in that part of the world."
Israel is no democracy. It never was. For sure not now under Netanyahu-led extremists. 
Fascists best describes them. Palestinian lives don't matter. Or rule of law inviolability.
Or Israel murdering Palestinian journalists and medical workers. And killing children while they sleep.
And displacing almost one-third of Gaza's 1.7 million people. And leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless.
And hundreds of Gazan children orphaned. Who'll care for them  with parents and for many extended families gone?
Who'll provide love and nurturing? Who'll comfort them in times of need?
Eleven-year-old Amir Hamad perhaps spoke for others saying he'd "rather be dead than without my mother and father."
They were home drinking coffee after breaking their Ramadan fast. An Israeli missile struck their house in northern Gaza.
"I saw them lying on the ground and knew immediately they were dead," said Amir.
He's the oldest of five children. "I'll look after my brothers and sisters," he said.
"But I'm scared because my parents are no longer here." Surviving family members include their grandmother and grandfather.
They'll cope best they can, they said. Eight-year-old Bisan Daher lost both parents and several brothers.
"We were all at home," she said. "We don't have anything to hide. No rockets. But they hit our house while we were all inside."
Bandaged from injuries she sustained, she said "(n)ow mum and dad and my brothers are in heaven."
"I really want to see (them) again." She's lucky to be alive. She was trapped under rubble for six hours.
Paramedics found her in time. She's traumatized by what happened. She can't sleep. She cries for what she misses most.
Gaza has only one orphanage. War left it overwhelmed. It hasn't the capacity or resources to cope.
Over 200 schools Israel damaged or destroyed can't open. Eight hospitals it targeted operate at below normal capacity.
Warren is like virtually all other Democrats and Republicans. Her Senate campaign web site called it "a moral duty imperative to support and defend Israel."
"(A)s a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel's security and success," she added. Washington's special relationship alone matters.
Both countries threaten world peace. Together they menace humanity.
James Petras once said "(t)he US-Israeli relationship is the first in modern history in which the imperial country covers up a deliberate major military assault by a supposed ally."
He referred to the 1967 USS Liberty attack. Israel bombed and strafed it. Dozens of US seamen were killed. 
Around 170 were wounded. The vessel was heavily damaged. Israel got away with murder. It wasn't the first time or last.
Washington supports its worst crimes. Operation Protective Edge is the latest example. Bernie Sanders is another faux liberal.
He supports Israel's killing machine. He defends funding and arming it. On the one hand, he deplores targeting civilians.
On the other, It's OK "in a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel (from) populated areas."
Except for farmland, Gaza is practically bereft of open spaces. It's heavily congested.
Hamas rockets are pinpricks compared to Israeli firepower. They respond to Israeli aggression. They're not launched preemptively.
Sanders claims he has no magic solution to end decades of conflict. He ignores the obvious.
Isolate Israel. Impose stiff sanctions. End America's special relationship once and for all. 
End all US funding. arming and other support. Boycott all Israeli products. Cut off all Western investments.
What better way to target its killing machine. It's guilty of every high crime imaginable and then some. 
It's high time that changed. It's time its culpable officials were held accountable.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Organized Labor in America Today

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/09/2014 - 03:23
Organized Labor in America Today
by Stephen Lendman
Labor Day once had meaning. Workers had reason to celebrate hard won rights. No longer. More on this below. 
The day is commemorated on the first Monday of September. It's been so since 1882.
In June 1894, it became a federal holiday. It was when workers had few rights. Management controlled things. Labor was systematically exploited.
It took many years of organizing, taking to the streets, going on strike, boycotting management, battling police and National Guard forces, and paying with blood and lives to win rights.
They included an eight-hour day, a living wage, employer-paid benefits, and passage of the 1935 landmark Wagner Act.
It established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It guaranteed labor the right to bargain collectively on equal terms with management. It did so for the first time.
Erosion followed. War on working Americans decimated organized labor. Hard won rights were lost.
Membership has been in steady decline from its 1950s 34.7% post-war high. It remained constant through most of the 1970s.
In 1979, it was 24%. In the late 1980s, it was 16.8%. It's currently around 11%. It's the lowest rate since 1916.
Private sector unionization stands at 6.5%. It's the lowest rate in over a century. 
The business of America is business. America is corporate occupied territory.
Political Action Committees, lobbyists, well-connected consultants, and business-friendly think tanks exert enormous influence.
In 1938, Franklin Roosevelt said:
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself." 
"That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power."
Today it's worse than ever. Monied interests run things. Democracy in America is fantasy. Its criminal class is bipartisan. 
Politicians are bought like toothpaste. Worker rights are systematically smashed. They're heading toward disappearing altogether.
Public sector unionization stands at 35%. Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of government jobs were lost. States and municipalities slashed services and payrolls.
Last year, it largely affected public assistance programs, administrative and support services, public schools and state universities.
Unions did little to fight back. They're corporate occupied territory. Corrupted union bosses and politicians sold out to management for personal gain.
Bargaining collectively with bosses on equal terms no longer exists. Battle lines are drawn. Public and private sector worker rights are threatened unless mobilized resistance saves them.
According to economist Jack Rasmus, trade unionism in America today "is on the road to nowhere." Decades of decline now accelerate.
Since the late 1970s, "union labor in the USA has been steadily in retreat…industrially and politically," says Rasmus.
If current trends continue, trade unionism may disappear entirely in another decade. "Union labor is at a strategic impasse," Rasmus believes.
He's unaware of any "broad-based, grass roots discussion and debate within (its) ranks (to stem) its precipitous decline."
It represents failed organization strategy. Traditional collective bargaining lost clout in terms of generating living wage jobs, healthcare, other important benefits, hours worked, and retirement benefits.
Inflation adjusted wages for full-time workers have been stagnant since the late 1970s. Wages for all union worker categories today are lower. According to Rasmus:
"…When union unemployed, involuntarily part time employed, millions of union workers who have left the labor force, those who prematurely took disability to avoid layoff, those pressured to take early retirement packages that prevent them from working and pay less, etc., are all factored in - union wages may actually be lower in adjusted real terms than they were even three decades ago."
At the same time, offshoring, technological change, so-called free trade agreements, and other anti-labor initiatives lost up to 10 million union jobs.
Vital benefits eroded or disappeared entirely with them. Pensions were destroyed. 
Increasing amounts of healthcare costs shifted from employers to workers. Obamacare provisions assure union negotiated employer healthcare coverage will end entirely within a few years.
Workers will be on their own for what's become increasingly unaffordable. 
"Both pension and healthcare bargaining are destined to fade from the workplace in the not too distant future." says Rasmus.
Labor's ability to influence enactment of worker-friendly legislation has been declining for decades.
Democrats are as anti-labor as Republicans. Workers are increasingly on their own. Welcome to low-wage America.
High-pay/good benefit jobs are offshored and lost. Low-pay/part-time/temp/low of no-benefit ones replace them.
Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Most have little or no savings.
They're one missed payday from possible destitution, homelessness, hunger and despair.
Most jobs pay poverty or sub-poverty wages. Households need two or more to survive.
Real unemployment exceeds 23%. It makes finding one hard. For millions, finding living wage ones with good benefits is impossible.
Obama's job creation claims are more fantasy than real. He's more jobs destroyer than creator.
He's beholden to monied interests. He prioritizes cutting corporate taxes. It does nothing to create jobs.
Real unemployment persists at Depression era levels. Nothing is done to change things.
Workers deserve social justice. Bipartisan complicity denies them.
Class warfare rages. Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Inequality grows exponentially.
So-called economic recovery is fake. It's absent on Main Street. It's only in corporate profits, financial gains and greater than ever super-wealth.
Most US households struggle. From 2007 to 2012, real median household income declined from $55,600 to $51,017.
The entire fabric of America changed. It did so for the worst. Three decades ago, an auto assembly worker earned $30 an hour or more plus good benefits.
Today it's $15 an hour for new workers with greatly eroded benefits heading toward elimination altogether.
Industrial America like it once was is gone. Workers today face conditions replicating 19th century harshness.
Democrats like Republicans make low-wage labor a centerpiece of their economic policy.
Industrial hubs are shells of their former selves. Detroit symbolizes America's decline. It lost a fourth of its population.
Once mighty Motown resembles a ghost town. It's dying. It's bankrupt. 
Over half its working age residents have no jobs. Most others have rotten ones. They don't pay enough to live on.
"Gary Indiana lost 22% of its population." St. Louis 20%. Flint Michigan 18%. Cleveland 17%. 
Industrialized countries alone enjoy developed economic status. Offshoring manufacturing reverses the development process.
Doing so shows a nation in decline. High-paying/good benefits/full-time jobs are disappearing in plain sight. 
Rotten ones replaced them. America is being thirdworldized. 
It's increasingly a nation of low-paid/unskilled clerks, food preparers, waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, maids, cashiers, cab drivers, hosts and hostesses, amusement park attendants, movie theater ushers and ticket takers, farm workers, home care providers, and non-professional medical ones.
Economic development depends on "capital, technology, business knowledge, and trained" skilled workers, Paul Craig Roberts explains.
"US capital and technology are being located abroad..." Skilled US workers are disappearing. De-industrialization is the new normal. 
America is a shell of its former self. So is trade unionism compared to its heyday. It's fast-tracking toward vanishing altogether.
Labor Day commemorates US worker struggles. Trade unionism's main one is survival in a nation beholden to capital.
Corporate giants control things. Workers get the best democracy money can buy. The state of today's America is deplorable.

It's being systematically thirdworldized. Unemployment, underemployment, poverty and despair are today's growth industries. A race to the bottom defines things.

Israel's Latest Land Grab

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/09/2014 - 20:16
Israel's Latest Land Grab
by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday, Israel's Civil Administration announced confiscation of around 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land. 
It lawlessly declared it State Land. It's to establish a Gva'ot settlement. It's located south of Bethlehem. It's in the Southern West Bank.
Peace Now calls itself "the leading voice of Israeli public pressure for peace." It called Israel's action "unprecedented."
In 1984, Gva'ot was established as a military base. Earlier, Israel's Housing Ministry planned to build 15,000 units. The idea was to establish a city in Gva'ot.
Smaller plans substituted. The new announcement expands Gva'ot. It'll become a new settlement. It may connect to the Green Line.
Peace Now called Sunday's announcement "proof (that) Netanyahu does not (want) a new 'Diplomatic Horizon' but" intends blocking Palestinian self-determination.
He and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon bear full responsibility for Sunday's declaration. It "cannot pass without their approval," said Peace Now.
By confiscating another 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land, they "prove(d) again that violence delivers Israeli concessions while nonviolence results in settlement expansion(s)."
Peace Now official Hagit Ofran believes "Netanyahu will carry out a lot of expansion(s) because of the pressure he feels from his right wing and the feeling that the (Gaza) war did not end up with many successes."
Confiscated land belongs to five Palestinian villages. They include Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin. They lie between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.
At issue is connecting Etzion to Jerusalem and its surrounding area. Last year, Israel sought bids for 1,000 housing units on the site.
Over 500 are being built. Ten families reside on the site. Many more will follow.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh urged Israel to cancel the takeover. "This decision will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza," he said.
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi called Sunday's announcement a "deliberate intent to wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land and to willfully impose a de facto one-state solution."
Since mid-June, Israel announced nearly 1,500 new settlement units. They're intended for about 6,000 West Bank settlers.
They're generally built on hills. They're located in and around Palestinian towns and villages.
They encircle them. They isolate them. They make a viable Palestinian state impossible. 
Official Israeli policy goes all-out to prevent it. It intends confiscating all valued parts of Judea and Samaria.
It wants maximum Jews and minimum Arabs. It ignores international law in the process.
Fourth Geneva's Article 49 prohibits occupying powers from transferring its citizens from its own territory to land it occupies.
Hague Regulations ban occupying powers from making permanent changes in occupied areas they control unless what's done benefits the entire local population. 
An exception is made in cases of verifiable military necessity. None exists in this case.
Establishing settlements violate fundamental Palestinian rights. They're enshrined in international human rights law.
Settlements prevent self-determination. They deny equality. They block free movement. They benefit the occupying power at the expense of the local population.
By legal, military and administrative means, Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development on about 40% of West Bank land.
It includes about 70% of Area C where Israel maintains full control. 
Off-limit areas include:
  • settlements and regional councils;

  • state land;

  • closed military zones; 

  • nature reserves;

  • national parks; 

  • area for Israel's Separation Wall;

  • free-firing zones;

  • commercial locations; 

  • no-go areas;

  • Jews-only roads;

  • checkpoints;

  • other barriers; and other exclusively Jewish areas.

Since 1967, Israel established 125 West Bank settlements, 100 outposts, and 12 neighborhoods.
Settler enclaves were built in East Jerusalem areas. They include the Old City's Muslim Quarter, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrach, Mount of Olives, Ras al-Amud, Abu Dis, and Jabal al-Mukabber.
In 2005, 16 Gaza settlements were dismantled as part of Israel's disengagement plan. Residents were shifted to other settlement locations.
Occupied Palestine reflects militarized colonization and discriminatory apartheid. It's worse than what South Africa experienced. Separate and unequal is official Israeli policy. 
Civil law governs settlers. Military orders deprive Palestinians of all fundamental rights. They have no control over their daily lives. Their land is systematically stolen. 
Since Oslo, settler population tripled from around 200,000 in 1993 to about 600,000 today. 
It's growing exponentially. It's on stolen Palestinian land. It doesn't matter. Israel operates unaccountably.
Palestinian rights don't matter. They're denied free expression and movement. Their homes are bulldozed and destroyed. They're uprooted and displaced.
They're forbidden from returning to land once theirs. They're denied redress. 
West Bank reconfiguration plans intend to isolate them in ghettoized bantustans. Sovereign viability is impossible.
Two states once were possible. No longer. Israel controls around 60% of the West Bank. 
It has much of East Jerusalem. More is added daily. When completed, Israel's Annexation Wall will control over 10% of Palestine.
One state comprised of Israel and Occupied Palestine alone works now. Nothing else is viable. 
Conditions for Palestinians are intolerable. Occupation, land theft, dispossessions, inequality, a permanent non-Jewish underclass, instability, and conflict reflect daily life.
Peace, equity and justice remain pure fantasy. Permanent militarized occupation is official Israeli policy.
From 1967 to 1977, around 30 settlements were established. They were mainly in Jordan Valley locations. Population numbered about 5,000.
Under Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977 - 1983), things changed dramatically. A new pattern emerged.
Heartland/central ridge West Bank settlements were established. Construction tempo increased.
Dozens of new settlements were added. Increasing amounts of Palestinian land were stolen. 
Construction today continues unabated. Palestinians are driven from their own land. 
What they most value is being systematically confiscated. Self-determination remains a distant dream.
Separately, Netanyahu appeared on three Israeli television networks over the weekend. He defended the indefensible.
He called Operation Protective Edge successful. Palestinians must choose between "Hamas or peace." Toppling Hamas remains an option, he said.
"I never removed the goal of toppling Hamas, and I am not doing that now," he stressed.
"When I look around and see al-Qaida on the (Israeli/Syrian border), ISIS moving toward Jordan and already in Lebanon, with Hezbollah there already, supported by Iran, I defined the goal in the cabinet of delivering a hard blow to Hamas, and we did that."
"I can not rule out the occupation of Gaza,” he added. “I don't know if we will get to that." 
"I thought the best thing is to crush (Hamas). It might be that they are still there, but they are crushed, isolated and unable to smuggle in arms." 
"I think that creates a chance for prolonged quiet, but if not, I won't bear a drizzle of rockets."
Netanyahu left unexplained they're virtually never preemptive. They follow Israeli aggression in self-defense. 
It doesn't matter. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes. They repeat multiple times daily. 
Western media ignore them. israel operates extrajudicially with impunity. 
During the late stages of Operation Protective Edge alone, Israel conducted dozens of military incursions into Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem communities.
Civilian homes were raided pre-dawn. They were ransacked. Families were terrorized.
Dozens of Palestinians were arrested despite having committed no crimes.
In August, nearly 600 West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians were arrested. The Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA) called what happened "the cruelest arrest operations launched since mid-June."
Since July 12, Israel kidnapped more than 2,000 Palestinians. They followed the killing of three settlers. 
Despite no corroborating evidence, Israel automatically blamed Hamas. Mass West Bank and East Jerusalem arrests followed. So did Operation Protective Edge.
Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. The Hague Regulations, Geneva III, Geneva IV, Additional Protocols I and II as well as other international laws strictly prohibit it.
It doesn't matter. Israeli accountability never follows.
Around 7,000 Palestinians languish in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worst. The vast majority are political prisoners.
They include around 250 children and 19 women. Nearly 500 are serving life terms for wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.
Around 500 others are administratively detained without charges or trial. Six former Palestinian ministers are imprisoned. So are 36 legislators for belonging to the wrong political parties.
Healthcare provided Palestinian prisoners is deplorable. Around 1,500 suffer from serious illnesses and diseases.
They include cancer, heart disease, liver ailments and paralysis. Since 1967, 205 Palestinian prisoners died from torture, medical neglect, or cold-blooded murder.
Dozens more more died shortly after release. They did so from illnesses contracted in prison.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Israel is a lawless rogue terror state. Decades of Palestinian suffering attest to its brutality.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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