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Kiev's War Without Mercy Continues

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 18/08/2014 - 04:51
Kiev's War Without Mercy Continues
by Stephen Lendman
Kiev fascists are murdering their own Southeastern citizens in cold blood. They're doing it with full support and complicity from Washington.
Russia's RIA Novosti news service quoted Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on Defense, Franz Klintsevich, saying: 
Use of ballistic missiles against Lugansk civilians "suggests that the Ukrainian security forces have been granted carte blance from the Americans."
"They do not care what Russia says, what the international community or even Europe says today." 
"They got their carte blanche, and while it remains active they want to deal with the situation in Donetsk as quickly as possible."
Using ballistic missiles against civilian neighborhoods shows how far Kiev and Washington will go to solidify hardline neo-Nazi-infested fascist rule.
Rule of law principles don't matter. War without mercy ignores them. Ballistic missiles are powerful weapons.
On impact, "huge explosion(s)" follow. Maximum damage is inflicted. Rossiya-24 television said Kiev forces attacked Lugansk with Tochka-U ballistic missile systems.
They can carry nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as high explosives. Moscow's protests about using this weapon against civilian neighborhoods are ignored.
Kiev has Washington's support. It's taking full advantage. Both countries are guilty of high crimes against peace.
It's longstanding US practice. Its Ukrainian allies include a rogue's gallery of societal misfits.
They're militant fascist thugs. They're illegitimate putschists. They're xenophobic, hate-mongering, ultranationalist anti-Semites. 
They mock democratic values. They rule by intimidation. They threaten the entire region. They risk direct confrontation with Russia.
Attacks continue on Lugansk, Donetsk, Horlivka, Pervomaisk, Ilovaisk and Krasni Luch. Russia's call for the international community to stop hostilities falls on deaf ears.
Washington and rogue EU partners support war without mercy. Civilian deaths, injuries and human misery are ignored.
Crushing freedom fighting democrats and solidifying hardline rule alone matter.
After blocking vitally needed aid for besieged Southeastern Ukrainian for days, Kiev's Minister of Social Policy, Lyudmila Denisova, officially recognized Russia's convoy as carrying legitimate humanitarian cargo.
She signed an order stating:
"In accordance with Articles 4 and 5 of the Law of Ukraine 'On Humanitarian Aid' considering the initiative of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on receiving humanitarian aid within the framework of international humanitarian missions under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to recognize the cargo as humanitarian aid."
On Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to begin inspecting 16 trucks, according to the ICRC.
Its representatives will supervise aid distribution once delivery is OK'd. Expect days more delay before achieved.
Kiev wants more time to continue its war without mercy. It wants maximum punishment inflicted on beleaguered Southeastern Ukrainians. 
It wants them deprived of essentials needed for survival as long as possible.
An ICRC letter said "(t)he recipient of humanitarian aid is the mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine."
"The cargo will be moved into Ukraine by the ICRC through the 'Donetsk' checkpoint."
According to ICRC official Pascal Cuttat, one major challenge remains. "(W)e absolutely need security guarantees from all parties concerned before we can start moving."

It's unclear when aid distribution will begin. Customs clearing procedures haven't been completed. Nor are security guarantees assured.
On Friday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Kiev forces might block the agreed route to disrupt delivering aid to Lugansk.
Kiev forces may attack the convoy to prevent aid arriving. Its war without mercy gives no quarter. Fascists operate this way. So does Washington.
Ukrainian soldiers are notoriously underpaid, poorly fed and clothed, as well as deplorably treated.
Many young men seek refuge in Russia. They do so to avoid serving in a conflict they want no part of. Others are forced to fight against their will.
On Saturday, 17 Ukrainian soldiers fled the fighting, crossed into Russian territory, and laid down their arms, according to Moscow's Federal Security Service (FSB).
FSB regional representative Nikolay Sinitsyn said "(t)hey were provided with food, and they're safe here." 
"We're carrying out a probe. Whoever wants to stay can do so, after the probe," he explained.
One Ukrainian soldier said they "came under mortar shelling. We were in the forest, out of weapons, out of everything."
"The chief told us to get out of the place." Leaving was a joint decision.
"The commander said there was such an option (to cross into Russia). Of course, he would bear responsibility for the consequences. But we decided together that it was better to leave."
Ukrainian forces did so earlier. In early August, 438 soldiers got permission to enter Russia after freedom fighters surrounded them in Ukrainian territory.
They lacked equipment and clear operational orders. Ukrainian prosecutors took action against 480 defectors.
According to Southern Region prosecutor in charge of military cases, Pavel Bogutsky:
"The investigation into 145 criminal offenses has been completed, and the indictments have been sent to court."
"Over half of these indictments concern people who deserted, refused to carry out their military duties and disobeyed orders." Over 30 received sentences.
Clearly, many Ukrainian soldiers aren't pleased with waging war on their own citizens. A good many do so reluctantly.
In contrast, Ukraine's National Guard is controlled by neo-Nazi thugs. Western media ignore their involvement and appalling atrocities.
Upside down reality persists. Fascists are portrayed as democrats. Freedom fighters are called terrorists.
Truth is systematically buried. Most Americans are mindless about facts on the ground. Official reports lie. 
Media scoundrels repeat them ad nauseam. They include spurious claims about Russia directly aiding Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.
Moscow categorically denies them. It accused Kiev of causing a humanitarian crisis and blocking efforts to alleviate it.
On August 17, reports said Lugansk area freedom fighters downed a Ukrainian fighter jet attacking area residents.
Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky accused Russia of supplying rocket launchers in the last 24 hours.  
Ukraine's national security and defense council spokesman Abdriy Lysenko accused Moscow of supplying Grad missile systems, as well as using drones in Ukrainian air space 10 times.
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his Ukrainian counterpart in Berlin. Discussion focused on ending crisis conditions diplomatically.
Washington and Kiev want a military solution. They're going all-out to achieve one by mass murder, destruction and blocking humanitarian aid as long as possible.
At the same time, Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters show remarkable resilience. In Donetsk they launched a counteroffensive. 
Fierce fighting continues. Ukraine's Donbass battalion commander said the combat spirit of his forces is low.
Army units so far have been unable to defeat self-defense fighters committed to press on.
Ukraine's prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk claims about 50,000 Ukrainian forces in conflict areas. Kiev's National Security and Defense Council earlier reported 568 servicemen killed and another 2,120 wounded as of August 11.
The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. It's been ongoing for months. How much longer remains to be seen. 
Civilian casualties are high. Hundreds of thousands are internally and externally displaced. 
Wars affect ordinary people most. In harm's way, there's no place to hide. 
Without electricity, enough food, clean water, shelter for many, and other essentials, survival is a day-to-day struggle. 
The future of Southeastern Ukraine remains up for grabs. For now, things look grim for hundreds of thousands of civilians in the wrong places at the wrong 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

Netanyahu: Israel's Pinochet

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 17/08/2014 - 23:08
Netanyahu: Israel's Pinochet
by Stephen Lendman
Chileans old enough to remember won't ever forget September 11, 1973. A "Caravan of Death" followed Pinochet's power grab.
It included mass arrests, disappearances, torture and murder. All suspected regime opponents were targeted.
Victims were buried in unmarked graves. Some were mutilated before being executed. Death squads killed thousands.
Netanyahu treats Palestinians much the same way. Brutalizing occupation and war without mercy reflect official policy.
Netanyahu heads Israel's rogue government. He exceeds the worst of Ariel Sharon and previous hardline leaders. 
He's an embarrassment to democratic governance. He and those around him are over-the-top. They're ideologically extremist. They're lawless, ruthless, racist and belligerent. 
Israeli governance is more hypocrisy than democracy. Peace is a non-starter. Netanyahu, his security cabinet, ministers and most Knesset members scorn it.
State terror is official policy. Palestinians are marginalized, persecuted, brutalized and denied fundamental rights everyone deserves.
Israeli Arab citizens are enfranchised in name only. They have no say. They're considered fifth column threats.
A so-called peace process never existed and doesn't now. Netanyahu and other hardliners scorn it. They crave violence and instability. 
State-sponsored militarism, belligerence, ruthlessness, apartheid, racist hate, occupation harshness, exploitation, neoliberal rapaciousness and premeditated war reflect official policy.
Besieged Gazans suffer most. They're trapped in the world's largest open-air prison. Expect little or no longterm relief from ongoing Cairo talks. 
They're ongoing. A current 5-day ceasefire ends Monday night local time. Whatever Israel agrees on won't be worth the paper it's written on.
Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. It wants its interests alone served. It offers little or nothing in return.
Concessions made are too little to matter. Expect multiple violations straightaway. It's standard Israeli practice. 
It says one thing. It does another. The disturbing pattern repeats every time. A previous article explained.
After Israel's November Pillar of Cloud aggression, Egypt under then President Mohamed Morsi negotiated ceasefire terms.
Israel agreed to halt all Gaza hostilities. They included land, air and sea attacks as well as targeted assassinations.
Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups agreed to stop rocket and other hostile actions.
Israel agreed to open border crossings and facilitate movements of people and goods.
Egypt got assurances from both sides to abide by agreed on terms.
They committed themselves to no breaches henceforth. Hamas stuck to the letter of the deal. Israel violated it straightaway.
Expect nothing different this time. Israel calls naked aggression self-defense. It calls legitimate Palestinian self-defense terrorism.
It takes full advantage. It does so for any reason or none at all. It blames Palestinians for its crimes. They're horrendous. 
They include genocidal slaughter, widespread destruction, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, lawless imprisonments, targeting elected Palestinian officials for belonging to the wrong party, and all Palestinians for praying to the wrong God as well as wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.
Israel is one of the world's most egregious human rights abusers. It ignores fundamental rule of law principles. 
It violates them repeatedly. It does so unaccountably. It willfully targets civilians and non-military related targets.
It does so maliciously. It claims a divine right to operate extrajudicially. It considers mass murder self-defense.
Talks to achieve a durable ceasefire continue. It's unclear precisely where things stand.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel rejects longterm ceasefire terms unless its security needs are met. In other words, unless business as usual continues.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhru said Palestinians won't compromise their fundamental demands. Key is lifting Israel's lawless eight-year siege.
"We are committed to achieving the Palestinian demands and there is no way back from this," said Abu Zuhri. 
"All these demands are basic human rights that do not need this battle or these negotiations."
"The ball is in the Israeli occupation court." 
Hamas political leader Khalid Mashaal said the key "goal we insist on is having the demands of Palestinians met and (for Gaza to) exist without a blockade."
"We insist on this goal. In the case of Israeli procrastination or continued aggression, Hamas is ready with other Palestinian factions to resist on ground and politically and…to face all possibilities."
At the same time, Netanyahu warned Hamas, saying:
"If (it) thinks it will make up for its military losses with a political achievement, it is wrong."
"If (it) thinks that by continuing the steady trickle of rocket fire it will force us to make concessions, it is wrong." 
"As long as there is no quiet, Hamas will continue to suffer heavy blows."
"Hamas knows we have a lot of power but maybe it thinks we don't have enough determination and patience, and even there it is wrong, it is making a big mistake."
Egypt reportedly presented a "final proposal." Wording is suspect. Loopholes remain.
Terms include:
-- both sides committing not to engage in any "sea, air or land" hostile actions against the other;
  • Palestinians promising not to dig tunnels to Israel;

  • Israel recognizing Hamas/Fatah unity;

  • opening all crossings between Gaza and israel to facilitate the free movement of people and goods to include construction materials for rebuilding;

  • the transfer of goods between the West Bank and Gaza;

  • reducing the Israeli/Gaza buffer zone to 300 meters, then 100 meters on November 18.

  • deploying PA forces on Gaza's borders beginning January 1;

  • gradually expanding Gaza's fishing zone to 12 nautical miles offshore; and

  • involving Israel in international efforts to rebuild Gaza.

At the same time, wiggle room loopholes remain. Key issues are unresolved.
They include unconditionally ending Israel's eight-year blockade, and Hamas' demand to build a seaport and airport. They're needed to facilitate imports and exports.
Another provision pertains to funds transfers for 45,000 Hamas employees. Israel froze them. They remain unavailable.
Other unresolved issue include transferring and administering Gazan rebuilding funds, letting Hamas receive other donations, and whether the PA will control all aid donations.
Terminology is key. Egypt's proposal mentions "Palestinian factions" without naming them and the "Palestinian government."
Hamas and Islamic Jihad reject this. They want to be mentioned. Egypt and Israel are opposed.
At the same time, both sides must agree on what goods may enter Gaza, in what amounts, how they'd be inspected, and how free movement of people will be handled.
According to Egypt, "end(ing) the blockade" depends on resolving these issues. Israel claims no blockade exists.
It wants language only mentioning the easing of border restrictions - not ending them altogether unconditionally as Hamas demands.
Much work remains unfinished. Israel remains hardline. It wants terminology defined its way. It wants loopholes to exploit. 
It wants terms as easy as possible to violate. It wants Hamas and other resistance groups marginalized and weak.
It wants business as usual to continue. Egypt's proposal largely benefits Israel. Unresolved details left for later can be exploited to its advantage.
For example, no exact date is specified for opening Rafah's border crossing. Construction of a seaport and airport is unresolved. So is lifting the blockade entirely.
Letting PA security forces operate in Gaza risks rendering Hamas and other resistance groups irrelevant.
The only thing both sides agree on is the importance of ending hostilities. Continuing them means more Palestinian deaths, injuries and destruction. 
Israel needs time to recoup from the pounding its image took. it got more criticism than any previous time in decades. 
Reversing its pariah state status won't be easy. Perhaps impossible if bombing and shelling resume longer-term.
The possibility remains. On August 16, Reuters headlined "Hamas says Israel must accept Palestinian demands of face long war," saying:
It "rejected on Saturday as insufficient offers made in Cairo to Palestinian negotiators seeking to end (Operation Protective Edge), and raised the possibility of renewed fighting when the current truce expires."
Israel has yet to accept or reject Egypt's proposal. Both sides will continue discussing terms on Sunday and Monday through the midnight deadline local time.
On August 17, AP headlined "Optimism Fades as Talks to Resume on Gaza War," saying:
On Sunday, an unnamed Palestinian negotiator said his side is "less optimistic" about ongoing talks "than we were earlier."
Gaps between both sides remain wide. Terminology and provisions proposed advantage Israel. Key for Hamas and other resistance groups is entirely ending blockade conditions unconditionally.
Israel categorically refuses. It wants Gaza demilitarized. Both sides are at loggerheads. 
Whether compromise can be reached remains to be seen. Most important is Israel's consistent violation of previous agreements negotiated.
If ceasefire terms are agreed on in Cairo, don't expect this time to be different. 
Israel can't be trusted. Once a violator, always one. For sure with hardline extremists running things. 
They're lawless, ruthless, anti-peace and belligerent. Expect nothing good for Palestinians from Cairo longterm. Expect business as usual to continue.
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 

MSM War on Gaza

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 21:52
MSM War on Gaza
by Stephen Lendman 
Journalists daring to criticize Israel responsibility face likely dismissal and banishment from MSM employment.
Once again, Israel waged cold, calculated premeditated aggression against near defenseless Palestinians.
An Israeli Goliath mercilessly attacked a Palestinian David. It did so for unjustifiable reasons. Mass slaughter, destruction and human misery followed. 
Non-combatant men, women and children suffered most. They were deliberately targeted. They comprised over 80% of deaths and injuries.
Israeli casualties hardly compare to around  2,000 mostly civilian Palestinian deaths, up to 10,000 injured, large parts of Gaza in ruins, hundreds of thousands forcibly displaced, and families losing all their possessions.
Operation Protective Edge is the most devastating Israeli aggression on Palestinians since its 1947-48 war.
A shaky ceasefire could end any time. Heavy Israeli shelling and bombing could resume. Palestinian casualties could continue mounting. 
The fate of about 1.7 million Gazans hangs in the balance. They're trapped in the world's largest open-air prison. They're unable to find refuge anywhere. 
Every square inch of Gaza is fair game. Israel inflicts collective punishment mercilessly. Civilian men, women and children are considered legitimate targets.
So are schools, hospitals, mosques, residential neighborhoods and vital infrastructure unrelated to military necessity. Terror bombing and shelling reflect longstanding Israeli policy.
Precision weapons can mass slaughter with technological ease. Banned terror weapons are used against defenseless civilians in densely populated residential areas.
They include 4cm-long metal darts called flechettes. They're anti-personnel weapons able to penetrate bone deep enough to inflict horrific injuries.
One artillery shell can deliver up to 8,000 of them. On impact, rupturing releases them at high speed in a funnel-shaped pattern over an area of about 300 meters.
White phosphorous is devastating to human flesh. It's a flammable chemical. Israel uses it as an incendiary weapon and smoke screen.
When exposed to air, it spontaneously ignites. It burns to the bone. It keeps burning until consumed or deprived of oxygen.
It causes severe second and third degree extremely hard to treat chemical burns, as well as suffocation, convulsions, severe eye pain and inhalation complications.
Affected muscles and body cells are completely destroyed. Hemorrhaging is common. So are bone fractures.
Dense inert metal explosives (DIMES) from tungsten alloy can cut victims to pieces. They kill, mutilate and pose a longterm cancer risk.
Israel uses these and other banned terror weapons with impunity. Doctors report never before seen injuries. 
Wars let Israel test new weapons in real time. Mostly civilian victims have no place to hide. Media scoundrels ignore what demands condemnation.
They blame victims for horrendous Israeli crimes. Like Cast Lead (December 2008 and January 2009), Pillar of Cloud (November 2012), and countless less extreme Israeli attacks, truth is turned on its head.
Upside down reality persists. Truth is systematically suppressed. Big Lies substitute.
Cold, calculated premeditated IDF aggression is called self-defense. Legitimate Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism.
Palestine's democratically elected Hamas government is outrageously called a terrorist organization. 
Police state Israel is called a democracy. How can it be when Jews alone have rights. Arab citizens are considered fifth column threats. 
Elected Arab Knesset members are powerless. They're little more than potted plants. They're parliamentarians in name only. 
They're treated like enemies of the state. They're unable to help the people they represent. They can't protect themselves when wrongfully persecuted and vilified. 
Israel is more hypocrisy than democracy. It's more rogue state than egalitarian. It rules Occupied Palestine ruthlessly. It attacks Gaza whenever it wishes for any reason or none at all.
Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. Israel terrorizes Palestinians with impunity. So do radicalized settlers.
Fear is constant. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. Public demonstrations are banned.
Population centers are isolated. Borders are closed. Normal daily life is denied. 
Economic strangulation and institutionalized racism are imposed. So are curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, separation walls, electric fences, and other barriers. 
Neighborhood incursions, land, sea and air attacks, bulldozed homes, land theft, ethnic cleansing, slow-motion genocide, targeted killings, mass arrests, torture, and gulag imprisonment reflect daily life.
It's for praying to the wrong God. It's for wanting to live free from oppressive rule. It's for believing in peace, equity and justice. and struggling to achieve it.
It's for rejecting state-sponsored racism, colonization and apartheid. It's for belonging to the wrong political party.
It's for wanting self-determination and long denied justice. It's for wanting Israel held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
Operation Protective Edge is the latest example of Zionist depravity. Palestinian lives and welfare don't matter.
Media scoundrels support what demands condemnation. The New York Times has a long history of pro-Israeli bias.
Its Jerusalem bureau chiefs are ethically challenged. Its columnists and op-ed contributors see justice through Israeli eyes.
It's editors consistently blame Palestinians for Israeli crimes. Ten days after Israel's premeditated aggression, they headlined "Israel's War in Gaza."
They turned a blind eye to horrendous Israeli crimes. They turned truth on its head claiming "Israel sent tanks and ground troops into Gaza to keep Hamas from pummeling Israeli cities with rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks via underground tunnels.
Fact: Israel's Operation Protective Edge was cold, calculated, premeditated aggression.
Fact: It wasn't in response to Hamas rocket attacks.
Fact: They followed in self-defense.
Fact: They're crude and ineffective.
Fact: They're no match against sophisticated Israeli weapons able to hit targets with pinpoint accuracy.
Fact: Israeli tunnel propaganda worked as intended.
Fact: It stoked fear and hysteria.
Fact: Netanyahu claiming they're used to attack kindergartens in nearby kibbutzes and other civilian targets are Big Fat Lies.
Fact: They're for self-defense against IDF attacks only.
Fact: Don't expect NYT correspondents, contributors or editors to explain.
Fact: Or other scoundrel media liars.
Fact: Regurgitating propaganda and other misinformation is official MSM policy.
Fact: NYT misreporting is longstanding.
Fact: It's an establishment publication supporting wealth, power, privilege and the worst of US and Israeli high crimes against peace.
Netanyahu is a world class thug. Not according to Times editors. "There was no way (he) was going to tolerate the Hamas bombardments," they said.
"They're "indiscriminately lobbed at Israeli population centers," they claim.
Fact: Hamas fires rockets in response to naked Israeli aggression.
Fact: They carry small warheads.
Fact: They're crude and ineffective.
Fact: They're not "lobbed at Israeli population centers."
Fact: They do more to generate fear than deaths and injuries.
Fact: They most often prove harmless.
"Hamas leaders deserve condemnation for storing and launching rockets in heavily populated areas," said Times editors.
Fact: Gaza is small - about 140 square miles.
Fact: It's one of the world's most densely populated areas.
Fact: Except for farmland, practically no open spaces exist.
Fact: Don't expect Times editors to explain.
Fact: Or tell readers responding to Israeli aggression is legitimate self-defense under international law.
Times editors admit no military solution is possible. At the same time, they support illegitimate Palestinian president Abbas. 
Israel rigged his 2005 election. His term expired in January 2009. He refuses to call new elections. 
He's a longtime Israeli enforcer and collaborator. He's hugely corrupt. He's mindless of the rights of his own people.
He sided with Israel during Operation Cast Lead. He failed to forcefully condemn Israeli Operation Protective Edge mass murder and destruction.
Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or denounce Israeli crimes too horrendous to ignore.
On August 11, Mondoweiss contributor Patrick Connors headlined "Serving Israel's aim of lowering civilian deaths, 'New York Times' Gaza tally says 15 - 17-year old's aren't children."
Its days earlier article shamelessly supported Israeli propaganda. It lied claiming half or more of Gazans killed were "terrorists."
Over 80% were civilian men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm. None were terrorists. 
Hamas fighters struggle for freedom. Claims otherwise are Big Lies. Times correspondents, op ed contributors and editors proliferate some of the most outlandish.
They bury truth. They feature managed news misinformation. It's unfit to print. It's one-sidedly pro-Israeli.
Fundamental international law is ignored. Israeli rights alone matter. Civilian non-combatants are considered militants.
Israeli aggression is called self-defense. Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism. Facts are what Israel and Washington say they are.
Longstanding Times pro-Israeli bias consistently blames Palestinian victims for Israeli crimes.
According to Connors, Times reporting "supports the perpetuation of Israeli Jewish privilege at the expense of basic Palestinian rights." 
Don't expect its editorial policy to change. Or CIA-controlled Washington Post misreporting and analysis. 
Its July 23 editorial was typical. It headlined "The US should push for the disarming of Hamas in Gaza-Israel cease-fire," saying:
"The tunnels are the reason that (Netanyahu) decided (to) launch a ground invasion of Gaza…"
They "show why it has been difficult to reach a cease-fire and why any accord must forge a new political and security order in Gaza."
"Hamas's offensive tunnels should not be confused with the burrows it has dug under Gaza's border with Egypt to smuggle money, consumer goods and military equipment."
"The newly discovered structures have only one conceivable purpose: to launch attacks inside Israel."
"The depravity of Hamas’s strategy seems lost on much of the outside world…"
"…Hamas's leaders deliberately placed (tunnels) and among homes…"
"(T)hey continue to reject cease-fire proposals, instead outlining a long list of unacceptable demands."
Ceasefire terms should "be negotiated with the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas."
It should return Gaza to "the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, the disarmament of Hamas and elections for a new government."
Fact: Israel's Operation Protective Edge was well planned in advance premeditated aggression.
Fact: It aimed to destroy Gazan resistance in all forms.
Fact: Israel wants Palestinians left defenseless.
Fact: It affirms the right to attack them throughout the territories for any reason or none at all.
Fact: It does so for total unchallenged control.
Fact: Durable ceasefires and peace in Palestine are impossible because Israel prioritizes violence and instability.
Fact: It blames its crimes on Palestinian victims.
Fact: WP and other media scoundrels regurgitate Big Fat Lies ad nauseam.
Fact: Hamas tunnels are mostly conduits for badly needed supplies unavailable because of Israel's illegal blockade.
Fact: Others are for self-defense in response to Israeli aggression.
Fact: WP editors consider legitimate Palestinian self-defense "depravity."
Fact: They support the worst of US and Israeli high crimes against peace.
Fact: Gaza is one of the world's most densely populated areas.
Fact: Other than farmland, few open spaces exist.
Fact: So-called "unacceptable" Hamas demands include long denied justice.
Fact: Hamas is Palestine's democratically elected government.
Fact: Abbas serves illegitimately.
Fact: He's a longtime Israeli collaborator against the fundamental interests, needs and rights of his own people.
Fact: He's a Palestinian Quisling.
Fact: Disarming Hamas and other resistance groups is a non-starter.
Fact: Palestinians alone should decide who'll lead them - not Israel, Washington, other Western countries or WP editors.
Wall Street Journal editors one-sidedly support Israel. On July 20, they headlined "Israel's Gaza Offensive," saying:
"(I)t's hard to see what other choices the country's leadership had to defend its citizens from the terror group Hamas's unrelenting missile attack."
"Israel warned Palestinian civilians to move out of harm's way…"
"Hamas's political-military strategy (involves) civilian casualties…"
"…Israel should stay the course until it achieves its strategic objective of neutralizing Hamas's missile attacks."
"Hamas won't stop its rocket and other attacks until it concludes that the military and political price it is paying is too high." 
"Until that happens a democracy like Israel is obliged to take the steps necessary to defend itself."
Fact: Hamas fires rockets at Israeli targets only in response to Israeli aggression.
Fact: Self-defense is fundamental and sacrosanct under international law.
Fact: Telling Palestinians to move out of harm's way was a transparent Israeli PR stunt.
Fact: Deliberate Israeli attacks on UN shelters, schools, hospitals, residential neighborhoods and other non-military targets showed every square inch of Gaza was unsafe.
Fact: Hamas' "political-military strategy" is achieving long denied justice.
Fact: Israel considers civilian men, women and children legitimate targets.
Fact: Its longstanding strategy is total unchallenged control regardless of the human cost.
Fact: It bears repeating. Hamas responds solely to Israeli aggression.
Fact: Israel is no democracy, never was, and won't be under its racist apartheid policies, lawless occupation, and denigration of its Arab citizens.
NYT, WP, WSJ and other MSM print and electronic media consistently show one-sided pro-Israeli bias. 
They blame its worst crimes on targeted victims. Long denied justice is nowhere in sight. 
Israel repeatedly gets away with mass murder and destruction unaccountably. 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 

The New York Times War on Truth

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 21:51
The New York Times War on Truth
by Stephen Lendman
The NYT is America's leading establishment publication. It represents wealth, power and privilege. It largely scorns populist interests.
It functions as a quasi-official ministry of propaganda. It offers a daily diet of managed news misinformation.
Its front page has global reach. It's the most valued media space anywhere. Times editors use it irresponsibly.
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. All the news they claim fit to print isn't fit to read.
A January 2013 open letter to NYT editors was this writer's most widely ever read article by far. It touched the right nerve at the right time.
It accused Times editors of suppressing truth, substituting lies, distortions and deception, supporting wrong over right, and betraying their readers in the process.
Longstanding Times policy is consistent. It violates fundamental journalistic standards.
The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics Preamble states:
"...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy."
"The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues."
"Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty."
"Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility."
The Times violates its own "Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism." It does so without apology or explanation. It states in part:
"In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, our company strives to maintain the highest standard of journalistic ethics."
"(W)e tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it."
"(I)t is essential that we preserve professional detachment, free from any hint of bias."
The longstanding record of "the newspaper of record" belies its high-minded rhetoric. It's deplorable and then some.
Popular interests are spurned. Corporate ones matter more. When America goes to war or plans one, Times editors march in lockstep.
Rule of law principles and democratic values don't matter. Privileged interests alone are served. 
The divine right of capital matters most. The Times agenda wreaks of hypocrisy. It defends the indefensible. Its war on truth belies the notion of a free press. 
Promoting war on Iraq, discredited reporter Judith Miller wrote daily front page propaganda. She functioned as a de facto Pentagon press agent. 
Times editors never properly apologized for the influential role she played in promoting premeditated war on a nation posing no threat to America and violating fundamental international, constitutional and US statute laws in the process.
The same holds for all US post-WW II wars. None were justifiable. All were lawless wars of aggression - from Korea to Obama's war on Iraq. 
Waging them reflects Wshington's longstanding quest for unchallenged global dominance. Millions of corpses attest to America's barbarity.
Don't expect Times editors to explain. They support the worst of imperial US policies. 
Their pro-Israeli agenda is longstanding. Mass murder and destruction is considered self-defense.
Their Russia bashing is intense. It exceeds the worst of Cold War rhetoric. It's been ongoing for months.
Shameless propaganda substitutes for accuracy and honest analysis. Putschist Kiev neo-Nazi fascists are considered democrats.
Freedom fighting Southeastern Ukrainians are called terrorists. Kiev's war without mercy against its own citizens is considered a liberating struggle.
Howling contradictions go unexplained. Times editors support Washington's right to ravage and destroy one nation after another.
To eliminate their sovereignty. To turn them to rubble. To transform them into dystopian wastelands. 
To murder millions of their people. To steal their resources. To exploit their people. To wage permanent wars for unchallenged global dominance.
Times editors back subservient, pro-Western, illegitimate stooge regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and elsewhere.
They support Obama's proxy war on Syria and regime change in Venezuela. They ignore his homeland war on freedom and social justice. 
Fundamental rights don't matter. Police state lawlessness goes unmentioned. Monied interests alone benefit.
Conditions go from bad to worse. Equity and justice are fast disappearing. America is on a fast track toward full-blown tyranny. 
Obama reserves the right to kill anyone extrajudicially for any reason or none at all. He maintains a kill list to do it.
He can order anyone arrested, imprisoned and held indefinitely without charge or trial based solely on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all.
US military personnel are authorized to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone globally, including US citizens. No one anywhere is safe.
Due process, civil protections, and judicial fairness are null and void. Abuse of power replaced them. It's happening in real time.
Obama disingenuously says one thing. He does another. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made and then some.
His war on humanity threatens its survival. Yet Times editors largely support him. Their praise way outstrips their criticism.
Their May 2014 editorial headlined "President Obama and the World," saying:
"…Obama is precisely the kind of foreign policy president most Americans and their allies overseas wanted. He rejected the shoot-first tendencies of George W. Bush."
"While he has made mistakes, and can be frustratingly cautious, he has done a better job than his detractors allow, starting with salvaging an economy that is at the core of American power."
"He has produced the first possibility of a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons."
Fact: Obama's permanent war policy matches the worst of George Bush.
Fact: Bush's Afghanistan war became Obama's. It rages. It's America's longest war.
Fact: As long as US forces remain in any numbers, it won't end.
Fact: A new Amnesty International (AI) report details US-led NATO's cold-blooded murder of Afghan civilians from 2009 - 2013.
Fact: "None of the cases…were prosecuted by the US military," said AI.
Fact: "Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored."
Fact: As US military commander-in chief, Obama bears full responsibility for cold-blooded murder.
Fact: He authorized lawless aggression on Iraq.
Fact: It's America's third Iraq war since January 1991.
Fact: Attacking a nation posing no threat to America violates fundamental international, constitutional and US statute laws.
Fact: Doing so adds another major crime to Obama's rap sheet.
Fact: Reasons given for all US wars don't wash.
Fact: They have nothing to do with protecting US security, humanitarian intervention or promoting democracy.
Fact: They have everything to do with serving wealth, power and privilege.
Fact: Obama is a warrior president.
Fact: He deplores peace and stability.
Fact: He has lots more death and destruction in mind.
Fact: His Libyan aggression transformed North Africa's most developed nation into a raging cauldron of violence and instability.
Fact: His lawless continuing proxy war on Syria left a wake of deaths, destruction and millions internally and externally displaced.
Fact: He supports Israel's killing machine.
Fact: He scorns long denied Palestinian rights.
Fact: He presides over a protracted Main Street Depression. 
Fact: It shows no signs of ending.
Fact: Nearly one-fourth of working age Americans remain unemployed.
Fact: Most others are underemployed.
Fact: America's top 1% never had it better.
Fact: The top 10% is doing fine.
Fact: The vast majority of others suffer through little reported hard times.
Fact: Administration policy makes them harder.
Fact: Vital benefits are being cut when most needed.
Fact: Money saved goes for aggressive wars and corporate handouts.
Fact: Ordinary Americans increasingly are on their own.
Fact: Claiming an Iranian nuclear weapons program is a bald-faced lie.
Fact: No evidence suggests one. It doesn't exist.
According to Times editors, Obama was "right to avoid direct military involvement in Syria." One Big Lie after another followed.
Fact: Syria is Obama's war.
Fact: America recruits, arms, funds, and trains extremist killers like ISIL fighters.
Fact: They're imported. They're invaders. They're proxy US fighters.
Fact: At issue is ousting an independent leader supported by the vast majority of his people.
Fact: It's replacing him with another convenient pro-Western stooge.
Fact: Saying Assad "den(ies) aid to starving people" is patently false.
Fact: So is spuriously claiming he used chemical weapons against civilians.
Fact: Clear evidence shows US-recruited extremists bore full responsibility for multiple chemical weapons attacks.
Fact: Obama's Asia pivot risks serious confrontation with China.
Fact: His support for Ukrainian neo-Nazi fascists risks another with Russia.
Fact: His unending war on humanity risks destroying it altogether.
According to Times editors:
"Taken as a whole and stripped as much as possible of ideological blinkers, Mr. Obama's record on foreign policy is not as bad as his critics say."
It's worse, much worse. Don't expect Times editors to explain.
On August 15, the Times headlined "As the World Boils, Fingers Point Obama's way."
His critics say "he failed to stanch the rise of" ISIL. "He left a vacuum in Iraq…(H)e signed weakness to" Putin.
He "encourage(d) the Kremlin to think it could intervene in Ukraine without fear of significant consequence."
Fact: Washington uses Al Qaeda, ISIL and other extremist groups as both allies and enemies in different war theaters.
Fact: Washington's wars on Iraq transformed the cradle of civilization into a violent dystopian wasteland.
Fact: Obama's Putin bashing shows how far he'll go to denigrate a legitimate leader of a sovereign country to serve US imperial interests.
Fact: Washington intervened lawlessly in Ukraine.
Fact: It replaced a democratically elected government with illegitimate neo-Nazi fascists.
Fact: Putin continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution.
Fact: Obama supports Kiev's war without mercy on its own citizens.
Fact: He backs depriving Southeastern Ukrainians from receiving vitally needed/Russian-supplied humanitarian food, water, medical supplies and other aid.
According to The Times, "Obama's policy (shows) restraint…"
Fact: Multiple direct and proxy wars of aggression reveal otherwise.
Fact: So does America's war on Muslims, Latino immigrants, people of color, and ordinary people struggling during the worst economic times since the Great Depression.
Fact: The cold-blooded Mike Brown murder repeats multiple times in large and small cities across America.
Fact: Justice is virtually always denied.
Fact: Militarized police kill with impunity.
Fact: People of color are convenient targets.
Fact: The new Jim Crow is like the old one.
Fact: It's a modern-day racial cast system against people of color.
Fact: It's a symbol of racist hate.
Fact: It's homeland war without mercy against society's most vulnerable.
Fact: It incarcerates hundreds of thousands of political prisoners.
Fact: Racist drug laws permit it.
Fact: So does police state lawlessness.
Don't expect Times editors to explain.
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 

Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters, Updated 2014 Edition

eff.org - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 08:27

With major protests in the news again, we decided it's time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we've learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they'll be carrying phones, and they'll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands.

Before The Protest

Think carefully about what's on your phone. When we last visited this question, law enforcement in many states were arguing that they could search the contents of a phone incident to arrest without a warrant. Today, thanks to the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California, that's no longer the case. Still, if you can avoid carrying sensitive data, you don't have to worry about it getting pulled off the phone. That can include photos, your address book, application data, and more. If you don't need it for the protest, consider removing it for the duration.

If you have access to a temporary phone with only the essentials, that might be a better option. Modern smartphones record all sorts of data, and there may be overlooked sources of sensitive information.

Password protect your phone. Password protection can guard your phone from casual searches, but it can still be circumvented by law enforcement or other sophisticated adversaries.

Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. If you and your friends can get comfortable with encrypted communications channels in advance, that can keep prying eyes off your texts while they're in transit.

Direct messages through social media may be encrypted while in transit, but can be subject to subpoenas from law enforcement. You may wish to explore end-to-end encrypted options, like Whisper Systems's TextSecure,1 Guardian Project's mobile IM software ChatSecure, or the mobile version of Cryptocat, which only store the contents of your communications in an encrypted, unreadable form.

End-to-end encryption does not protect your meta-data. In other words, using end-to-end encrypted communications will keep law enforcement from being able to read the contents of your messages, but they will still be able to see who you're talking to and when you're talking to them.

At The Protest

Keep control of your phone. You may wish to keep the phone on you at all times, or hand it over to a trusted friend if you are engaging in action that you think might lead to your arrest. In any case, you can set the lock screen to turn on quickly, so that if you do lose control of your phone, nobody else gets access easily.

Take pictures and video of the scene. As the ACLU says in a recent Know Your Rights guide, "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right." Unfortunately, that doesn't stop law enforcement officers from occasionally demanding that protesters stop doing exactly that.

If you're planning to document the protest, you should read the whole guide ahead of time. There are special considerations for videotaping, too, so make sure to brush up on that if you plan to be recording video.

Finally, you may wish to explore options that upload directly to another server. Livestreaming sites, and even social media services, can make sure photos and videos get online before law enforcement officers have a chance to delete them.

Help, I'm being arrested!

You have a right to remain silent—about your phone and anything else. If questioned by police, you can politely but firmly decline to answer and ask to speak to your attorney.

If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later.

As we said in the last guide, if the police ask for the password to your electronic device you can politely refuse to provide it and ask to speak to your lawyer. Every arrest situation is different, and you will need an attorney to help you sort through your particular circumstance. Note that just because the police cannot compel you to give up your password, that doesn’t mean that they can’t pressure you. The police may detain you and you may go to jail rather than being immediately released if they think you’re refusing to be cooperative. You will need to decide whether to comply.

OK, now how do I get my phone back?

If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned. If the police believe that evidence of a crime is on your electronic device, including in your photos or videos, the police can keep it as evidence. They may also attempt to make you forfeit your electronic device, but you can challenge that in court.

Increasingly, we keep our most sensitive communications and personal information on our cell phones. We carry in our pockets these devices that can tremendously enhance our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights, but which also carry serious privacy risks. We hope that with these tips in mind, you can take the necessary precautions with your digital technology.

Last updated August 2014.

  • 1. Currently Android-only, but with iPhone support on the way
Related Issues: PrivacyLocational PrivacySecurity
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Seventh Circuit Saves Batman From Crazy Trademark Attack

eff.org - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 06:54

The events depicted in the superhero movie The Dark Knight Rises are not real. For example, when Cat Woman pursues software called “Clean Slate” to erase all traces of her criminal past, you are watching a fictional character seek fictional software. If that point strikes you as obvious, then you may have trouble comprehending the trademark claim in Fortres Grand v. Warner Brothers. In that case, software company Fortres Grand claimed that the movie’s use of the words ‘clean slate’ infringed its trademark on a real piece of software with that name.

Last year, with the help of Professor Eugene Volokh and UCLA’s First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, EFF filed a brief urging the Seventh Circuit to reject this claim. We explained that trademark claims like this threaten creative expression. There are many reasons why artists might want to use a mark (either real or invented) in a book or movie. Janis Joplin sang, “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.” And cartoons and movies have used fictional marks (such as ACME or Skynet) that share names with existing products. Artists should not fear litigation every time they use a term that echoes a trademark.

Fortunately, trademark law does not favor silly claims based on fictional products. A major issue before the court was whether, for the purpose of evaluating similarity between the products at issue, it should compare Fortres Grand’s real-world software to the fictional clean slate software or to the movie. The Seventh Circuit wrote that the law “compels lower courts to look to the movie, since it is [Warner Bros.’] only tangible product in the marketplace about which consumers could be confused.” Since a superhero movie is nothing like software, this effectively settled the trademark question. Having decided on that basis, the Seventh Circuit declined to decide whether the First Amendment also provides Warner Bros. with a defense.

While the Seventh Circuit ruled on fairly narrow grounds, its decision should still discourage future frivolous claims against fictional works. Most important, the appeals court affirmed the district court’s decision to throw this case out early on a motion to dismiss. That is good news for smaller creators who, unlike Warner Bros., might not be able to afford protracted litigation. This time, a victory for Batman is a victory for free speech.


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Terrorizing Southeastern Ukrainians: Heading Toward East/West Confrontation

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 06:48
Terrorizing Southeastern Ukrainians: Heading Toward East/West Confrontation
by Stephen Lendman
What Israel's killing machine did to Gazan civilians, Kiev putschists keep inflicting on defenseless Lugansk and Donetsk residents.
It's war without mercy. It's US supported. Obama's Ukrainian allies are lawless neo-Nazi fascists. 
They openly display swastikas, Iron Crosses, SS insignia, other Nazi symbols and Sieg Heil salutes.
Washington elevated them to power. It did so by ousting a democratically elected government.
Rule by intimidation is policy. So is waging war on its own citizens. It's terror bombing and shelling them.
It's murdering them in cold blood. On Thursday, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said "we're very supportive of the Ukrainians here."
"(T)he ultimate goal here needs to be these cities not being under the control of the separatists."
Fact: They're not separatists. 
Fact: They're Ukrainian freedom fighters. 
Fact: They're heroic.
Fact: They reject neo-Nazi fascists. 
Fact: They want real democracy. 
Fact: They want it for all Ukrainians.
Fact: They deserve universal support.
Washington abhors democracy at home and abroad. It wants unchallenged top down control globally. 
It wants subservient pro-Western stooge regimes in power beholden to US interests. It wants control of world resources.
It wants NATO bases encircling Russia and China. It wants nuclear armed missiles targeting their heartlands. 
It recklessly risks WW III. It's using Kiev as a dagger against its own people. It supports mass murder of defenseless civilians.
It's anti-Russian agenda exceeds the worst of Cold War years. A potential major confrontation looms.
Launching one could mean mushroom-shaped cloud denouement. The unthinkable could become reality.
Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's waged multiple direct and proxy wars since taking office.
His latest is against Iraq. His cronies are orchestrating Kiev's Southeast Ukraine war without mercy.
His next confrontation may be with Russia. Sanctions wars may become something far more serious.
America's rage for war ravages one country after another. Middle East/North Africa/Central Asia targets are one thing.
Confronting Russia is entirely different. It can match America's nuclear strength. It can destroy American cities in response to US attacks.
Attacking Russia risks ending life on earth. Crazies infest Washington. They influence administration policy.
Anything ahead is possible. Cooler heads are in short supply. Madness reflects official policy.
Ukraine may be the flashpoint that ignites global war. Preventing it is top priority. The alternative is too grim to tolerate.
Given the progression of events, perhaps there's no way to stop the worst of all possible scenarios.
Humanity's fate hangs in the balance. World leaders able to act responsibily remain indifferent to a potential threat too grave to ignore.
Will humans be the first species to destroy itself? Daily events should scare everyone. 
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. 
The latest concern involves blocking desperately needed Russian humanitarian aid, calling it covert ams smuggling, and claiming it destroyed a "Russian military convoy" entering Ukraine.
Kiev lied claiming Russian APCs, other military vehicles, tanks and heavy artillery crossed its border, was confronted and destroyed. 
Media scoundrels from the NYT, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to CNN, Fox News and US broadcasters regurgitated the official Big Lie despite no evidence proving it.
Anointed oligarch Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenk's web site posted a statement saying:
"The president said that the given information was trustworthy and confirmed because the majority of the (Russian) vehicles were destroyed by Ukrainian artillery at night."
The claim is spurious. It's entirely without foundation. Russia's Defense Ministry debunked it.
Its spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkv, said "(n)o Russian military column that allegedly crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border at night or during the day ever existed."
He called Porshenkno's claim fantasy. It "should not be subject for a serious discussion by top officials of any country."
Moscow's Security Service (FSB) denied the report. Border guards operate near the border only on the Russian side, it said.
Mobile military teams "operate strictly within the territory of the Russian Federation." Claims otherwise are spurious on their face.
Because of Ukrainian aggression near Russia's borders, Moscow increased security to protect its citizens from potential cross-border shelling and Kiev military "mass border crossings."
An FSB spokesman said "(w)hen residents report about cross-border shooting and fighting in the frontier zone, these teams are immediately deployed to such areas to provide the safety of the Russian state border and Russian citizens, and also to prevent armed people from crossing into the territory of the Russian Federation."
NATO Secratary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a serial liar. He claimed nonexistent, fake, or unrelated old satellite imagery claiming to show Russian tanks allegedly entering Ukraine.
"Last night we saw a Russian incursion, a crossing of the Ukrainian border" he said. "(I)t is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine."
Washington and Britain proliferated the Big Lie. UK Foreign Minister William Hague called entry of Russian tanks into Ukraine "completely unacceptable."
He warned of further sanctions "if Moscow continues to provoke instability."
An unnamed NATO official said "(t)hese images raise significant questions concerning Russia's role in facilitating instability in eastern Ukraine and its involvement in the movement of military equipment from Russian territory into Ukraine."
If confirmed, it "marks a grave escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine."
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf cited dubious video evidence of a convoy of T-6 tanks in Southeastern Ukraine coming from a Southwestern Russian location, as well as BM-21 rocket launchers.
"Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area," she said. 
"We are confident that these tanks came from Russia."
On August 15, RT International headlined "Aid convoy to Ukraine faces disruption, may be attacked - Russia." 
Russia's Foreign Ministry "dr(ew) attention to the sharp intensification of military actions by Ukrainian forces with the obvious goal to block the route, agreed upon with Kiev, of the humanitarian convoy from the Russia-Ukraine border to Lugansk."
Kiev putschists in collusion with Washington want to block urgently needed humanitarian aid "at the cost of new casualties and destruction."
"Those nurturing such criminal plans are taking huge responsibility for their consequences."
Events appear heading for a US/Russian showdown. Propaganda wars proceed hot ones. 
Proliferating misinformation and Big Lies keep escalating toward confrontation. It's happening as hard as Moscow tries to avoid it.
On August 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin called current Ukrainian conditions "bloody chaos." He pledged Moscow would continue going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution.
He knows Washington, its rogue Western allies and Kiev fascists will do everything to prevent it.
A potential major East/West confrontation looms. The winds of war edge closer to gale force.
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 

EFF's Defcon 22 T-Shirt Puzzle Explained

eff.org - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 05:47

This summer we proudly unveiled EFF's fifth limited edition member t-shirt to DEF CON 22 attendees at the annual hacker conference in Las Vegas. Secretive organizations scheming global domination and watching everything you do may not be very far fetched, but we've turned that concept on its head with a digital freedom society-themed motif created by EFF Senior Designer Hugh D'Andrade. Together we are growing our own conspiracy to defend privacy and free expression for all. Hidden within the rich mystic symbolism of the crossing keypair, ethernet cable crest, lockpicks, and anti-surveillance eye is a secret puzzle for you to decipher, the likes of which would make even Voynich jealous! Warning: spoilers are ahead, and you already know too much!

Displayed on the left is the original shirt as seen in plain daylight. But under the shine of a blacklight, the ciphertext is revealed:

[Iikcggu] Gvdw ag etxlku | [Ptjhafvmkx] rqgrva(cgvs urlaiaixcm Asiixl) | [Gwhusu] akksdx bzqaymoukh(gsyi, Jnsrgo) | [Rmtm] mwllzg(ihrl.qv_e? Wkivav)

What does it mean? A second text is highlighted with the blacklight:

QUISQUE ALIQUID HABET QUOD OCCULTET

Our super secure Key Derivation Function comes in the form of a dictionary. Translated from Latin into English, this phrase becomes:

Everyone has something to hide

And how do you decode the ciphertext? Using a cipher developed in the 16th century called the Vigenère cipher:

[English] Code is speech | [Javascript] assert(code instanceof Speech) | [Python] assert isinstance(code, Speech) | [Ruby] assert(code.is_a? Speech)

The plaintext reminds us of an important ruling made in the historic case Bernstein v. US Department of Justice, which EFF litigated: source code is a form of speech constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. Special congratulations go to 1o57 and the council of 9 for being the first to solve this year's puzzle!



Photo Credit: junkmail.  CC Attribution 2.0 Related Issues: Coders' Rights ProjectComputer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform
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What You Need to Know About the FISA Court—and How it Needs to Change

eff.org - Sat, 16/08/2014 - 03:39

Should interpretation of the laws and Constitution of the United States take place in one-sided secretive courts, away from the public eye?

For years, it has. But even Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judges don’t agree on how exactly the FISC should work. Since the Snowden disclosures, hundreds of lawmakers have made it clear that they want to see more transparency in the court by supporting various NSA reforms. Most recently, 18 Senators co-sponsored the new USA FREEDOM Act, S. 2685, which offers a few important changes to the FISC.

So who’s right? A look at the history and procedures of the FISC make it clear: real reform is needed now.

How We Think Courts Work, and How that Measures Up to the FISA Court

As a society, we imagine courts are places where adversarial proceedings take place. In television, literature, and movies, we see each side taking responsibility for gathering the evidence and witnesses that will be most helpful to their argument­. They put forth their evidence and argue the law where applicable. And each side has the opportunity to know and take apart the other side’s evidence.

Of course some court situations are not adversarial. The most commonly known situation is when a judge signs a warrant so law enforcement can conduct a search after hearing only from the cops. But when those warrants result in evidence that is used in court, there’s still a chance to challenge the validity of the warrant and the search—and if they were done incorrectly, that evidence can often be suppressed.

The FISA Court is very different. Created by Section 103 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the purpose of the FISC is to “hear applications for and grant orders approving electronic surveillance anywhere within the United States.”

The court makes its own rules and operates in secret. It decides matters like the now infamous Verizon order leaked by Edward Snowden, which allowed for the collection of call detail records for millions of innocent Verizon customers. It relies on a general “heightened duty of candor,” meaning that the government is supposed to go to extreme lengths to tell the court everything it ought to know to make the right decision.   

Now, if this was just a simple process of approving applications for surveillance, and if the evidence could later be challenged in court, this might make sense. But, as we’ve learned, this process is not so simple and can involve critical issues of constitutional law and interpretations of what Congress meant in FISA. The court must rely on one-sided information from the government and has to trust that that information is complete. And the data collected by the NSA and FBI under those applications often remains secret, even when it, or information derived from it, is used in criminal proceedings.  

Why the FISA Court Needs to Change

Among the myriad reasons the FISC must change, three stand out.

First, FISA has become a drastically more complicated law than when it was originally passed in 1978, and the role of the FISC has accordingly grown far beyond the bounds of what Congress envisioned. Second, because of those changes, the FISC has created a huge body of secret policy and legal precedent. Finally, the court’s reliance on the government to provide all the necessary information needed to fairly make decisions is not sufficient, something that is painfully obvious as one reads the FISC decisions themselves. It’s also something EFF has recently experienced in our NSA cases.  

The court’s mandate has expanded exponentially since 1978, especially during the 90s. More recently, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—both of which were passed decades after the initial FISA—granted far broader spying authorities to the government than had existed before, and the government has claimed the right to conduct mass surveillance under these provisions. What Congress originally authorized when creating the FISC, with the Church Committee hearings freshly in mind, was an expedited system of approving individualized warrants for foreign surveillance of specified individuals—much like what regular magistrate judges do with warrants now, with safeguards built in for the national security context.

That bears repeating: When FISA was passed, it authorized individualized warrants for surveillance. Now, the court is approving mass surveillance.

This is key, because as “current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions” told the New York Times in July of last year, the court is no longer simply approving applications. It is “regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny," affecting millions of innocent people. As former FISC judge James Robertson stated to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, “What [the FISC] does is not adjudication, but approval. This works just fine when it deals with individual applications for warrants, but the 2008 (FISA) amendment has turned the FISA court into an administrative agency making rules for others to follow.”

The result of this expansion of the FISC’s role is a body of secret law that, now that some has come to light, has shocked most Americans. The most obvious example of this is, of course, section 215 of the Patriot Act, where “the court’s interpretation of the word ['relevant,'] enabled the government . . . to collect the phone records of the majority of Americans, including phone numbers people dialed and where they were calling from, as part of a continuing investigation into international terrorism.”

The “heightened duty of candor” is not enough. FISC decisions that have been made public are full of descriptions of the NSA not fulfilling its duties and being very slow to inform the court about it. Judge John Bates noted: “The court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding the NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” and noted “repeated inaccurate statements made in the government’s submission,” concluding that the requirements had been “so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall…regime has never functioned effectively.”

Judges have consistently chastised the NSA for “inaccurate” statements, misleading or incomplete filings and for having “circumvented the spirit” of laws protecting Americans’ privacy.

EFF had its own brush with this problem earlier this year, when we discovered that the government had not even informed the FISC of its duties to preserve evidence. In March, after an emergency hearing, a federal court in San Francisco ordered the government to preserve records of Section 215 call details collection. On that same day, the FISC issued its own strongly worded order in which it mandated the government to make a filing explaining exactly why it had failed to notify the FISC about relevant information regarding preservation orders in two related cases, Jewel and Shubert. This failure had affected the court’s earlier ruling mandating that certain information be destroyed.

It’s clear that the FISC simply can’t rely on the government to get the full picture.

How the FISA Court Needs to Change

The FISA Court must change in at least two ways: it needs a true advocate for privacy and civil liberties in the court and it must have institutionalized, systematic publication of significant opinions.

As former FISC Judge James Carr has stated, reform requires an advocate for targets of surveillance, as well as for privacy and civil liberties. A special advocate for privacy would move the court towards the adversarial model. It would end blind reliance on the government’s candor, which has been proven to be less candid than the FISC itself would like. And a special advocate can bring technical expertise that the FISC might otherwise not have and help spot legal issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Publication of significant interpretations of the law is also essential; there must be a public understanding of what the law means in practice. For this to work, declassification should not be held captive by the intelligence community, as is currently the case.  At the very least, the Attorney General and the FISC itself should work together to determine what opinions should be published, based on clear guidelines about what significant interpretations of the law actually are.  This is just a small step, though. The FISC secrecy is just one piece of the overall problem of overclassification, which needs broader reform.

How S.2685, the New USA FREEDOM Act, Measures Up to the Needed Changes

As we’ve noted, the bill makes two big changes to the FISC: it directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Attorney General, to declassify “significant” FISA Court opinions and to summarize opinions that can’t be declassified. And it creates a panel of special advocates with the purpose of advocating “as appropriate, in support of legal interpretations that advance individual privacy and civil liberties.” The special advocates are meant to serve whenever an application “in the opinion of the court, presents a novel or significant interpretation of the law, unless the court issues a written finding that such appointment is not appropriate.”

Prof. Steve Vladeck at Just Security has pointed out that a recent letter from Judge John Bates arguing against the new USA FREEDOM Act’s FISA Court reforms serves to reinforce exactly why they are needed, and indicates that they may very well be effective. 

Judge Bates, former presiding judge at the FISC, strongly decried several provisions of the new USA FREEDOM Act in his August 5 letter. The letter itself is a little unusual—Judge Bates states that he’s not expressing “preferences on fundamental policy choices,” but makes it clear that he supports the gutted House USA FREEDOM, H.R. 3361.

Judge Bates’ concerns with regards to the special advocate can be summed up like this: non-adversarial proceedings are not a big deal. They happen all the time, and this process allows for lots of great conversation between the court and the government. A special advocate would complicate this. They are more than just an amicus, advising the court. They are advocating for privacy…..but our system isn’t designed to handle adversarial proceedings. An amicus provision, opines Bates, would be preferable. 

And as Judge Carr has pointed out, “An amicus represents no one. Instead, an amicus participates solely for the court’s benefit. This will not achieve true reform, which requires appointment of an attorney to represent the target (whether the target is an individual, group, or the public at large).”

Judge Bates’ concerns are all aimed at maintaining the court as it is. He argues that a special advocate will upset the court's balance. In our opinion, that’s a good thing. Considering Judge Bates' conclusion in his October 2011 opinion that the system has "never functioned effectively," it is surprising that he doesn't agree.

Judge Bates is concerned about potential reluctance on the part of the government to disclose important information to the court if a special advocate position is created. But the government has the obligation to disclose that information no matter what. And what’s more, we already know that the court as it is doesn’t work.

If anything, the special advocate provisions in S. 2685 could be stronger. The special advocate could, when appropriate, have the specific purpose of representing potential targets of surveillance, instead of advocating generally for interpretations of the law that protect civil liberties. Judge Carr points out that counsel for a target is most important “on appeal. Enabling adversarial appellate review is crucial to increased confidence in the FISC and its work.” The special advocate could also have more independence. But the bottom line is that S. 2685’s special advocate provisions are a huge, necessary step forward.

Judge Bates also has concerns about declassification of FISC opinions. S. 2685 directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Attorney General, to declassify “significant” FISA Court opinions. He writes that creating summaries of opinions that can’t be declassified is “likely to result in misunderstanding of the opinion’s reasoning and result,” a concern he believes is “heightened when the only party to the proceeding—in this context, the government—is tasked with preparing the summary.”

In contrast, Judge Carr believes that the FISC must have a significant role in the declassification process for the FISC’s own opinions.

These objections point to potential weaknesses in S. 2685. We believe that a less interested party should be in charge of declassification—the legislation puts the Director of National Intelligence in charge of that process, which is a bit like the fox guarding the hen house.

Judge Bates’ concerns that S. 2685 will interrupt the status quo at the FISC make a strong case that the legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.

The status quo is broken. S. 2685 starts to fix it.


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The Great Israeli Iron Dome Hoax

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 15/08/2014 - 18:57
The Great Israeli Iron Dome Hoax
by Stephen Lendman
Call it a billion dollar + scam. Add another congressionally funded $225 million tax dollars. Expect millions more on request.
In April 2002, noted MIT physicist Theodore Postol headlined his Technology Review article "Why Missile Defense Won't Work."
The notion is more hoax than possibility. His reasoning was detailed and technical. What's supposed to work doesn't as claimed
Hitting and destroying a missile with another one isn't possible. It may never be other than occasional lucky exceptions. 
Claims otherwise are fabricated to maintain funding and deceive populations into believing they're safe.
According to Postol, "(t)his should be of profound concern to every US citizen" and every Israeli one.
"The officers and program managers involved in developing the antimissile system have taken oaths to defend the nation." 
"Yet they have concealed from the American people and Congress the fact that a weapon system paid for by hard-earned tax dollars to defend our country cannot work."
The same holds for Israel's Iron Dome. Postol asks is it more sieve than effective missile shield? 
Israel's early warning system alone works as intended. It gives people time to shelter for safety.
According to Postol, "the probability of (Iron Dome) destroying the artillery rocket warhead is essentially zero."
The same holds for Iron Dome intercepts "chasing rockets from behind. Occasional Iron Dome intercept attempts arise in a near-vertical trajectory.
"That is the only engagement geometry where (it) has a non-zero chance of destroying the rocket - the artillery rocket warhead," says Postol.
At least 95% of ID attempts fail. During the 1991 Gulf War, fabricated Patriot missile defense success was reported as 96% or greater.
Postol and others at MIT analyzed the data. They called likely Patriot success ZERO.
When Israelis see overhead explosions erroneously called successful intercepts, they're observing ID warhead explosions.
Money spent on ID and other missile defense hoaxes are wasted taxpayer dollars and shekels. People are deceived to believe otherwise. Safety is available in shelters alone.
"I would not spend money on an interceptor that has a near-zero chance of intercepting an artillery rocket," says Postol.
A July 10 erroneous Reuters report is typical of major media lies. It claimed Israel's Iron Dome interceptor has shot down some 90 percent of Palestinian rockets it engaged during this week's surge of Gaza fighting, up from the 85 percent rate in the previous mini-war of 2012."
Postol calls these type reports media deception. "(T)he press needs to engage in more due diligence on these matters," he says.
Verifiable facts, not fabrications, should be reported. People have a right to know. ID intercept attempts fail the great majority of the time.
Crude Hamas rockets with 10 - 20 pound warheads "are not lethal weapons," says Postol. 
They don't work as intended. Sheltering in time is the best defense. ID success is a political deception.
At the same time, it's expensive. It's a small missile. It weights about 200 pounds. 
It costs $400,000 each, not $20,000 according to some Israeli sources. Raytheon produces it in America.
According to Postol, "(t)here's a significant question there about whether the Congress and the American people have accurate information about what this system is really costing."
Most important is its ineffectiveness. People are deceived. Huge amounts of money are wasted. Big Fat Lies substitute for truth and full disclosure. 
Media scoundrels are complicit. They regurgitate fiction, not verifiable facts. Israelis and Americans are willfully deceived.
On July 19, Postol headlined his Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article "The Evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working."
He explained much of what's covered above. "Close study of photographic and video imagery of Iron Dome engagements with Hamas rockets (currently and during 2012 Pillar of Cloud hostilities) shows that the low casualties…can be ascribed to Israeli civil defense efforts," not ID effectiveness.
Data show its performance hasn't improved from two years earlier. It's a failed system. It's willful deception. It's a hoax.
Effectiveness requires destroying rocket warheads. Their back ends are empty pipes.
If destroyed, warheads will fall and explode on the ground. Destroying a rocket warhead "is a considerably more demanding mission than damaging other parts of the targeted rocket," says Postol.
Success depends on approaching the rocket almost directly head-on. Engaging from the side or back has virtually no chance of success.
Photos of ID contrails show most ID intercept attempts either chase Hamas rockets from behind or the side.
"In both such cases, geometry and the speed of the interceptors and rockets make it extremely unlikely the interceptor will destroy the rocket's warhead," says Postol.
ID can miss many ways. "Because of the uncertainties in the exact crossing speed and geometry of two high-speed missiles, even a perfectly operating Iron Dome fuse may fail to place lethal fragments onto an artillery rocket's warhead," Postol explained. 
"In addition, unless the distance between the Iron Dome warhead and the warhead of an artillery rocket is small (roughly a meter or so), there will be a greatly diminished chance that a fragment from the Iron Dome warhead will hit, penetrate, and cause the detonation of the artillery-rocket warhead."
Front-on engagements guarantee no success. Their "geometry merely indicates that an ID interceptor has a greater-than-zero chance of destroying the target-artillery rocket warhead."
Small-sized incoming rockets pose other problems. Successful intercepts are even harder to achieve.
When ID interceptors explode overhead, but have contrails showing they crossed the expected rocket trajectory from behind or either side, "it can be said with a high degree of certainty, that no intercept could have occurred," says Postol.
"It is absolutely clear: There is no evidence in the public record to show that Iron Dome is performing at an intercept rate of nearly 90 percent."
At best, it's 5% or less. Perhaps it's close to ZERO. Willful public deception deprives Israelis of information they need to know.
Transparency is nonexistent. Big Fat Lies substitute for truth and full disclosure.
ID is a hoax. It doesn't worked as claimed. Perhaps it never will. Hitting a missile with another one is like hitting a bullet with one fired at it.
Success may be a scientific impossibility other than occasional lucky exceptions.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on failure. Willful deception keeps people from knowing they've been had. According to Postol:
"In the absence of Israeli data backing claims of Iron Dome efficiency, and based on the unambiguous evidence I have reviewed, a conclusion seems clear:" 
"The Israeli government is not telling the truth about Iron Dome to its own population, or to the United States, which has provided the Israeli government with the bulk of the funding needed to design and build the much-heralded but apparently ineffective rocket-defense system."
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 

Certification Allows US Trade Negotiators to Rewrite TPP Copyright Rules

eff.org - Fri, 15/08/2014 - 05:11

As the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) continue to trudge along, little new information has leaked because the negotiations are being conducted under conditions of strict secrecy.

But this week, the launch of the TPP: No Certification website has shed new light on one issue that has been often overlooked before now. The United States, exclusively amongst the dozen negotiating partners, is reserving the right to vet other countries' implementation of the agreement before its own obligations come into effect. This has worrying implications for other countries planning to take advantage of whatever flexibilities remain in the TPP text after the negotiations are finished.

For example, the leaked draft of the TPP requires signatory countries to provide “legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners.” Since “legal incentives” is so vague, there are several ways in which a country might interpret and implement this—a narrow interpretation might merely require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to be offered a tax break for hosting anti-piracy banner ads, but if interpreted more broadly it might penalize ISPs millions of dollars unless they disconnect suspected infringers from the Internet.

Certification means that this ambiguity or flexibility could disappear, leaving countries with only one, extreme interpretation of their obligations under the TPP—whatever interpretation the US Trade Representative (USTR) unilaterally decides.

What Does Certification Mean?

Before the TPP becomes binding on any of the negotiating countries, they will each have to undergo a set of domestic procedures to approve the agreement. These vary from one country to another. For most countries, once this domestic approval process has taken place, this will activate its obligations towards all other countries that have undergone a similar approval process.

But only for the United States, its approval of the agreement will take place in two phases. First, Congress gives its overall approval of the TPP text, and second, the implementing laws of each of the other countries must be individually certified before the obligations of the US take effect for that country. This certification is not conducted by an independent body, but by the USTR, based on its own assessment of what was agreed—even if these supposed obligations were not reflected in the final text. Essentially, it's a way for the US to twist the arm of other nations until they enact policies it couldn't get them to agree to during negotiations.

How It Affects Copyright and Patent Laws

The threat of certification is not widely known in itself, but what has been even more obscure is one of the USTR's main motivations for toughening up certification requirements on its trading partners. Some of those partners have a record of passing more flexible copyright and patents laws than the US would like, so they use these certification powers to try to hold those nations ransom until they can get the policies that appease its domestic interests.

Chile, for example, entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States in 2004, but only in 2010 finalized a system for copyright content takedown. Under this system, unlike under the US DMCA, removal of content by intermediaries requires a court order in order to comply with Chile's constitution and its obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights.

The FTA permits this interpretation, but the USTR has strongly criticized it, urging Chile “to amend its Internet service provider liability regime to permit effective action against any act of infringement of copyright and related rights.” Chile remains on the Priority Watch List of the most recent Special 301 Report [pdf] published by the USTR, for this and other supposed deficiencies in its implementation of the FTA.

Australia provides another example. Australia, like the United States, is a signatory to the WIPO Copyright Treaty. Since 2000 it has had its own equivalent of the DMCA that implements that treaty—relevantly including a prohibition on the use of circumvention devices to bypass technological protection mechanisms (TPMs, also known as digital locks) that prevent digital works from being copied.

Following its conclusion of a trade deal with the United States in 2004, Australia was forced to amend this provision, to toughen it in several ways going beyond its WIPO obligations—including criminalizing circumvention and criminalizing trafficking in circumvention devices. Although the act of circumvention was subject to certain “fair use”-style exceptions, the supply of circumvention devices was criminalized outright. A subsequent Parliamentary Report [pdf] noted this as “a flaw that verges on absurdity,” rendering the circumvention exceptions “to be little more than empty promises.” Yet Australia was forced to agree to these absurd changes in order to satisfy US demands.

Certification and the TPP

The USTR has exercised this power for decades for other trade agreements, yet still, the consequences if it is applied to the TPP are difficult to predict and potentially serious. It would jeopardize the ability for other countries to make use of any positive concessions that they may have been able to negotiate in the TPP's copyright and patent text, that could allow their lawmakers to enact better policies that uphold the interests of users and consumers, or oftentimes, preserve such laws that are already in place.

With certification, the US can get away with not holding up their side of the deal as long as the US decides that other countries are not implementing the agreement to their liking. It is in other words, another stick that the USTR can use to force these countries into passing ever more senseless, draconian digital policies that go beyond the TPP's literal wording.

It's important to remember that the policies the USTR is forcing on to other countries are not representative of what the people in the US want, nor even reflective of the policies that are in place in the US. Certification is another way for the USTR to compel negotiating partners to enact policies that are harmful to users. It is reflective of how much Hollywood, major publishers, and other big corporate interests have captured the USTR's objectives.

The specter of the certification process sounds yet another note of caution for countries negotiating the TPP. They should be very wary in committing themselves to uphold such an agreement in circumstances where the flexibilities they believe they are agreeing to could actually be whittled away at the whim of one of their negotiating partners.

Conversely, if it seeks to gain the trust of both its partners and domestic stakeholders, US trade policy requires radical reform, not only to the flawed certification process, but also to the secrecy of trade negotiations in general, the lack of accountability to the public, and Fast Track proposals that insulate trade agreements even from the scrutiny of Congress itself.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Blocking Russian Humanitarian Aid

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 15/08/2014 - 03:11
Blocking Russian Humanitarian Aid 
by Stephen Lendman
Russia is going all-out to deliver vitally needed humanitarian aid to beleaguered Southeastern Ukrainians.
In collusion with Washington, Kiev so far blocked it. Reasons given ring hollow.
Obama officials and their illegitimate fascist allies want war without mercy continued. They want pain and suffering increased. 
They want freedom fighting democrats crushed. They want state terror intensified.
They want desperate Ukrainian civilians denied food, clean water, medicines, medical supplies, and power generators, as well as other vitally needed items to survive Kiev's lawless aggression.
Putschist prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine can accept humanitarian aid solely from the Red Cross.
He lied claiming Kiev is "delivering first necessity items to all the liberated areas."
"We, as the Ukrainian state, have ensured and are capable of enduring supplies for our citizens," he said.
False! Kiev is going all-out in collusion with Washington to create a humanitarian disaster in Southeastern Ukraine.
On Tuesday, 280 Russian trucks left Moscow with vitally needed supplies. On Wednesday, they arrived at Ukraine's border. 
Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said they planned to enter Ukraine at a border crossing agreed on with Kiev.
Arrangements involve the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It requeste a detailed list of items shipped to be able to accept and distribute them to needy Ukrainians.
According to an ICRC official, Russian authorities "handed over a list of goods to the Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross." 
"It includes essentials, bottled water, food and power generators." It shows Moscow's good faith commitment to deliver vitally needed humanitarian aid despite Kiev's efforts to block it.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said government forces would block the convoy at the border.
A week is needed to determine the need for aid to Donetsk and Lugansk, he claimed. "Only then will the delivery of aid be organized," he added.
He lied claiming Russian aid is a military operation to help beleaguered Southeastern Ukrainians.
Ukrainian deputy foreign minster Danylo Lubkivsky accused Moscow of playing a "completely cynical game."
At issue is turning truth on its head. It's blocking desperately needed aid as long as possible. It's providing more time for war without mercy.
It's maximizing pain and suffering. It's blaming Russia for Kiev's crimes. It's accusing Moscow of aggression if it crosses Ukraine's border - perhaps with or without permission.
Washington is manipulating events behind the scenes. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge.
He lied calling Russian military intervention "very likely." It could occur on the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid, he said.
The New York Times serves as a de facto ministry of pro-Western misinformation and propaganda. Its Ukraine coverage alone turns truth on its head.
It's been one-sided since Kiev street protests began last fall. It ignores a Washington orchestrated coup. 
It refuses to admit neo-Nazis infest Ukraine's illegitimate fascist government. Truth and full disclosure are suppressed. Big Fat Lies and distortions substitute.
It regurgitates US and Kiev misinformation ad nauseam. It's shamelessly anti-Russian. 
On August 14, it suggested legitimate Russian humanitarian aid may be an arms smuggling ploy. It refuses to acknowledge a US/Kiev intent to block vital aid as long as possible or altogether.
Playing politics with human lives and welfare is longstanding US policy. Kiev's putschist government is a willing co-conspirator.
Interior minister Arsen Avakov called Moscow's humanitarian aid a "provocation by a cynical aggressor." Prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk characterized it as "boundless cynicism."
Deputy foreign minister Danylo Lubkivsky said Russia is "us(ing) the pretext of humanitarian aid and assistance, and it seems they are just running out of excuses for their aggression."
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said arrangements to deliver aid were agreed on. They comply with Kiev's wishes in all respects.
"We have agreed on a route convenient for the Kiev authorities. We agreed that our trucks would have Ukrainian number plates during their way through Ukrainian territory," said Lavrov.
"We also agreed to take on board not only the representatives of the Red Cross and the OSCE, but also representatives of the Ukrainian authorities.” 
"We have received a note with the confirmation of the Ukrainian side's readiness to receive the aid."
Kiev reneged on its pledge. Russian aid remains in limbo unless or until delivering it is possible.
Lavrov "hopes that public statements made by some Kiev authorities with the demand for new conditions will be disavowed and won't interfere with the accomplishment of the agreement reached between Russia, Ukraine and the Red Cross."
"We firmly rely on the assurances by the Ukrainian authorities. They are guaranteeing the safety of the whole convoy's movement on the territory controlled by the Ukrainian special forces."
"We expect the self-defense forces to express the same attitude toward this humanitarian action." 
"I'm sure there'll be no breaches, as they are now on the territory, the residents of which require badly humanitarian assistance."
At the same time, Russia's Emergencies Ministry said Moscow, the ICRC and Kiev will jointly decide where aid will be delivered.
Kiev's National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrey Lysenko claimed Russian aid was accompanied by a sophisticated S-300 air defense system able to down Ukrainian warplanes with great precision.
This and similar claims aim disingenuously to portray legitimate Russian humanitarian aid as aggression.
On Tuesday, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf lied. She irresponsibly called Southeastern Ukrainian crisis conditions "a direct result of Russia's intervention."
"Russia has no right to move into Ukraine unilaterally, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev's permission," she said.
On Wednesday, she again said "nothing can happen without the express consent, permission, decisions made, by Kiev."
She ignored Washington's longstanding history of intervening lawlessly in the internal affairs of other countries. 
It does so unilaterally or with rogue partners. It does it by military and/or other means. It flagrantly violates international, constitutional and US statute laws in the process.
Bombing Iraq is the latest example. So is replacing Ukraine's democratically elected government with a neo-Nazi infested fascist regime.
On August 11, CIA-controlled Washington Post editors headlined "The West must oppose Russia's 'humanitarian' invasion of Ukraine, saying:
"RUSSIA AGAIN appeared on the verge of invading Ukraine over the weekend, this time in the guise of a 'humanitarian operation.' " 
"President Obama and other Western leaders sounded the alarm, warning that the prospective intervention 'is unacceptable, violates international law and will provoke additional consequences.' "
"(T)he United States and its allies must be prepared to act quickly if Russian military forces cross the frontier."
"The motive for another escalation in Russia's ongoing meddling is clear enough: not the 'humanitarian crisis' the Kremlin claims is occurring in areas held by its surrogate forces but the threat that the Ukrainian army and allied militias will win a military victory."
Fact: No evidence whatever suggests Russia intends to invade Ukraine.
Fact: Claims otherwise are bald-faced lies.
Fact: WP and other Western media scoundrels repeat them with disturbing regularity.
Fact: Russian food, water, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid is intended solely for desperate Ukrainians struggling to survive Kiev's US supported lawless aggression.
Fact: Moscow's motive in delivering it is straightforward, sincere and part of its effort to end conflict conditions peacefully and equitably.
Fact: Suggesting otherwise reflects Western/Kiev propaganda to portray genuine humanitarian efforts as aggression.
On August 13, hawkish Senator Kelly Ayotte (R. NH) lied claiming Russian forces "fire artillery on Ukrainian forces" cross border.
"Putin," he claims, "is attempting to use a so-called aid convoy to portray the Kremlin as a responsible provider of humanitarian relief."
"Putin has instigated, fueled, and perpetuated the crisis in eastern Ukraine." 
"If Putin is truly concerned about the well-being of Ukrainians in Donetsk, he could end this crisis by stopping the flow of Russian fighters and weapons to Ukraine."
Similar Big Lies proliferate daily. Genuine Russian humanitarian/conflict resolution efforts are called aggression.
Media scoundrels bury truth. They substitute Big Lies and other misinformation. 
At risk is an East/West confrontation potentially leading to war between two nations with over 90% of the world's nuclear arsenal and sophisticated delivery systems able to strike targets worldwide with pinpoint accuracy.
Risking something potentially this grave is madness. It remains to be seen if the unthinkable can be avoided.
A Final Comment
As of mid-August, the Southeastern Ukrainian death toll topped 2,000. Thousands have been wounded. 
Hundreds of thousands are displaced. Many fled cross border to Russia for safety.
On average, over 60 people have been killed or wounded daily since Kiev forces attacked Southeastern Ukraine in April.
Since August 1, the figure is 70 daily casualties on average. According to UN human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly, these numbers are "very conservative estimates."
Washington and Kiev's illegitimate fascist regime bear full responsibility.
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 

Sham Cairo Talks Continue

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 15/08/2014 - 03:10
Sham Cairo Talks Continue
by Stephen Lendman
The latest 72-hour ceasefire expired at midnight Wednesday local time. Both sides agreed to extend it another five days.
They did so despite seemingly irreconcilable differences. Hamas, other resistance groups, millions of occupied and diaspora Palestinians, as well as growing world public opinion want Gaza's siege unconditionally lifted.
Palestinians want unrestricted movement of people and goods, a seaport to facilitate imports and exports, fishing zones extended, and control over their borders, coastline, air space and resources.
They want long denied fundamental rights. Israel remains hardline. It refuses to offer nothing but token relief too little to matter.
It wants Gaza demilitarized. It wants Hamas and other resistance groups defenseless against certain future Israeli aggression.
It wants control over people and goods entering and existing Gaza. It wants it either directly or indirectly. 
Its other demands run counter to fundamental Palestinian rights.Wide differences between both sides remain. 
Days more talks aren't likely to change things. Palestinian negotiators agreed to continue them as a show of good faith.
As Wednesday's deadline approached, dozens of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carries mobilized on Gaza's border.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said "(w)e have already sacrificed 64 men and it is possible we may have to sacrifice more.
Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad said agreement was reached "on many points," but major differences remain.
His team members left Cairo Thursday to consult with their leaders. Egyptian mediators proposed delaying talks on major issues until a permanent ceasefire is in place for one month.
They include lifting Gaza's siege, permitting a seaport and airport, as well as other major sticking points. 
Delay advantages Israel. It harms Palestinians. Oslo showed why. 
Palestinians got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks. 
Twenty-one years later, they're still waiting. Israel's occupation remains. Conditions are much worse now than then. 
Land theft continues. Israel's settler population tripled in size. Diaspora Palestinians can't return. 
East Jerusalem isn't Palestine's capital. Israel controls over 60% of West Bank land. Gaza remains the world's largest open-air prison. 
Israeli oppression is unrelenting. Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in its gulag. They do so under horrific conditions.
Torture remains official Israeli policy. So is state terror against an entire Arab population. Palestinian self-determination remains elusive.
Beleaguered people have no control over their borders, air space, coastline, water and other resources. Brutal occupation conditions persist.
Police state oppression characterizes them. Military orders control virtually every aspect of Palestinian life. Abbas and his cronies serve illegitimately as Israeli enforcers.
Fundamental rights are denied. Jews alone are afforded them. Arabs are dehumanized and denigrated. They're considered inferior, violent, immoral, cruel gun-toting terrorists.
At the same time, Jews are called superior, industrious, brave, and God's chosen people. From pre-school through adulthood, an entire population is brainwashed to believe what should be denounced.
No wonder the vast majority of Israeli Jews supported Netanyahu's genocidal Gaza war. They've been taught to hate Arabs since before they could know how their minds were manipulated by a ruthless racist state.
Believing Cairo talks can change things in Gaza for the better is pure fantasy. Israel considers Hamas and other legitimate resistance groups terrorist organizations.
At the same time, it bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on.
They're made to be breached. Israel says one thing. It does another. It's done so throughout its existence.
Daily violations occur straightaway. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes. Peace and stability are non-starters. 
Israel is a modern-day Sparta. Belligerence is a way of life. Zionism harms Jews and non-Jews alike. It's racist, violent and repressive.
It's ideologically over-the-top. It turned Israel into one of the world's most abusive human rights violators. 
It legitimizes state-sponsored terror. It breeds hate. It fosters lawlessness and other egregious behavior.
It suppresses dissent. It justifies the unjustifiable. It considers legitimate Israeli criticism anti-Semitism. 
It considers pacifism sissy. It glorifies militarism and belligerence as a way of life. 
It lets Israel get away with the most extreme high crimes against peace. It's a cancer destroying its adherents. 
It shows up in virtually every facet of Israeli life. It turned Israel into a pariah state. 
Expect Cairo talks to produce no substantive change for the better throughout the territories. 
Expect Israeli oppression to remain unchanged. Expect justice to remain denied. Expect Israeli aggression to erupt any time for any reason or none at all.
Expect Palestinians to be wrongfully blamed for Israeli crimes. Expect Israeli-initiated violence to remain unabated. 
Expect continued full Washington support for its worst crimes. Expect Palestinian liberation to remain a distant dream. 
Negotiations ad nauseam at best achieve tokenism too little to matter. Expect life throughout Occupied Palestine to remain brutally unjust. 
Expect world leaders able to make a difference to do nothing to change things. 
Expect Palestinians to remain isolated on their own. Expect Israel to take full advantage.
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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