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Ban Ki-moon Supports Israeli High Crimes

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 01/06/2015 - 00:25
Ban Ki-moon Supports Israeli High Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
He's a longstanding imperial tool. He consistently violates core UN Charter provisions - notably Chapter XV, Article 100.
It mandates secretary-generals "not (to) seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization."
"Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities."
He broke every major pledge made - including working for nuclear disarmament, advancing global health, sustainable development, education, saving lives, promoting democracy, supporting justice, championing human rights, and "creating a new dimension for the responsibility to protect."
His record reflects failure and betrayal. He consistently spurns UN Charter provisions. He's complicit with US, NATO and Israeli crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
He blames victims for imperial lawlessness committed against them. He consistently defends the indefensible.
He's dismissive of fundamental rule of law principles, human rights and other democratic values.
Leila Zerrougui is Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She's a legal expert on human rights and administration of justice.
She called for holding Israel responsible for "grave crimes against children" in last summer's Gaza war.
She accused its forces of willful attacks on schools, hospitals and UN shelters. Ban rejected her request.
His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he hadn't made a final judgment - despite overwhelming, indisputable evidence of Israeli high crimes, murdering over 500 Palestinian children in cold blood.
A late April UN report blamed Israel for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza - used as safe haven shelters.
At the time, Ban vowed to "spare no effort to ensure that such incidents will never be repeated."
He took no action whatever to do so. He unjustifiably accused Hamas of using these facilities to attack Israeli soldiers.
He ignored cold, calculated, premeditated IDF aggression. He failed to call for prosecuting Israeli war criminals. He's done nothing to hold them accountable.
On August 5, 2014, 129 organizations and distinguished individuals addressed him in an open letter.
They called on him to hold Israel responsible for high crimes or resign, saying in part:
"We, the undersigned Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations, are extremely disappointed by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, which amount to war crimes."
"(Y)our statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes."
"You have undeniably assumed a biased position toward the current attack on Gaza and Israeli violations in the West Bank by failing to clearly condemn Israeli unlawful actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, while, on the other hand, not hesitating to accuse - sometimes mistakenly - Palestinian combatants in Gaza of violations of international law."
"(Y)our statements endorse Israeli excuses to unlawfully, indiscriminately target" noncombatant civilians.
You "recklessly endorse (Israel's) version of facts, (irresponsibly) blaming Hamas" for its high crimes.
"(Y)ou make no distinction between oppressors and victims in all your statements."
"(Y)ou adopt and advocate Israeli false stories" while ignoring Palestinian hard truths.
"You do not maintain peace and security; nor do you ensure human rights."
It's "evident you have not…fulfill(ed) your mandate…(Y)our statements have not only allowed the continuance of Israel's killing our people, but also, encouraged States to continue providing Israel with impunity."
"As you cannot say the truth, we advise you to either drastically change your positioning - not only in words, but also in your efforts to, through the UN, effectively end the current conflict - or  resign." 
"For us, if you continue playing this role, you prove what our people feel, that you are a partner in, or at least an enabler of, the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel against our families, children, women, elders - against our people."
Ban disgraces the office he holds. He supports what demands condemnation and accountability.
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. 

Russia Travel Blacklist: Critics Ignore Their Own Policies

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 31/05/2015 - 21:25
Russian Travel Blacklist: Critics Ignore Their Own Policies
by Stephen Lendman
Russia issued travel bans against 89 European Union political and military officials in response to imposed 2014 EU sanctions. Affected nations received a list of barred individuals.
In 2013, 18 Americans were denied entry in response to US sanctions and visa bans on 18 Russian officials. More on this below.
On Saturday, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said access to Russia was denied as a reciprocal step to EU actions.
"An answer to some European countries demanding to explain why these names have been put on the lists of persons banned from entering Russia is quite simple."
"This was done as a response to a sanctions campaign unleashed against Russia by some Germany-led countries of the European Union," the official explained.
Finnish national broadcasting reported the following:
"Moscow has imposed sanctions on European politicians, officials and the military in response to similar restriction measures adopted by the European Union last year because of the conflict over Ukraine."    
"The Russian 'blacklist' includes a total of 89 people, among them members of the European Parliament, high-ranking military, security and intelligence officials, as well as public figures." 
"The list includes officials from the Baltic countries, Poland, Sweden, Britain and Germany."
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry human rights ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov criticized Western media attempts to justify anti-Moscow policies, saying:
"We read many Western media reports, which try to justify the US anti-Russia sanctions policy, using quasi arguments." 
"This is an attempt to form some sort of legitimacy concerning the sanctions policy. This is disappointing, because the international law does not give an unambiguous interpretation that unilateral sanctions are a clear violation of the international law."
America and EU nations unjustifiably sanctioned Russia over its nonexistent interference in Ukraine's internal conflict.
Cold War politics heated up before it began. In December 2012, the so-called Magnitsky Act was enacted. Washington ludicrously called it "an important step in the cause of human rights and democracy" by a nation deploring both.
It was pure Russia bashing. Its Foreign Ministry responded angrily, saying:
"We regret that a US administration declaring its commitment to the development of stable and constructive bilateral relations was unable to defend its stated position against those who look to the past and see our country not as a partner, but rather an opponent - fully in line with the canons of the Cold War."
Putin called the Magnitsky measure a "purely political, unfriendly act."
At the time, Moscow promised "analogous restrictions" on US officials.
An earlier article explained Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian attorney. In 2009, he died in police custody. His death drew international media attention.
He specialized in civil law. He did anti-corruption work. He uncovered evidence of tax fraud. He implicated police, judiciary figures, tax officials, bankers, and Russia's mafia.
He accused them of stealing around $230 million dollars in 2007 through fraudulent tax refunds. 
On issues relating to courts, taxes, fines, and civil law, he was called the "go to guy" in Moscow.
In November 2008, he was arrested, imprisoned, and treated abusively. For 11 months he was denied family visits. Serious health problems developed. Inadequate treatment followed.
On November 16, 2009, he died for reasons attributed officially to a "rupture to the abdominal membrane" and subsequent heart attack.
Initially his death was blamed on medical neglect. Later claims suggested murder. Official investigations began. In July 2011, death by medical neglect was ruled.
The 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act normalized US/Russian trade relations. Doing so came with strings. Moscow raised legitimate objections.
The legislation imposed visa bans, asset freezes, and other sanctions on Russian nationals accused of committing human rights abuses.
In response, Moscow enacted Dima Yakovolev legislation - named after a Russian orphan adopted by a US family left to die of heat stroke in a parked car.
Lax US adoption laws and lack of follow-through prevent knowing how other Russian orphans are treated - as well as adopted children from other countries.
Dima Yakovlev legislation imposed visa bans and asset freezes on US officials accused of violating the rights of Russian citizens abroad.
Multiple rounds of US and EU sanctions irresponsibly targeted Russian officials and business in response to Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Western nations chose confrontation, not conflict resolution. Russia bashing remains official policy.
Unjustifiable criticism followed Russia's response. The EU's office in Moscow confirmed receipt of the list.
Its press and information section head, Soren Liborius, said "(w)e do not have additional information on the legal aspects, background and other things related to its drafting."
Separate from Western/Russian relations, fortress Europe is notorious for its increasing hostility toward immigrants and unwillingness to grant them asylum or refugee status.
Western aggression on Libya and Middle East countries caused a human flood desperate to escape conflict conditions - willing to risk their lives in unsafe, overcrowded vessels to reach Europe.
Instead of accepting responsibility for the problem they caused, EU nations approved Operation EUNAVFOR Med.
It establishes Mediterranean naval and air force authority to wage war on asylum seekers - including possible ground operations.
A mission statement calls for intercepting, seizing and destroying vessels in Libyan and international waters.
Security Council authorization is required - including for ground operations if requested.
Ten EU nations oppose granting asylum to desperate refugees seeking it - perhaps being willing to wage war to stop them on grounds of "militia and terrorist" threats to Europe.
US blacklisting is notorious. A so-called terrorist watchlist system involves a secret process requiring neither "concrete facts" or "irrefutable evidence" to designate US or foreign nationals as terrorists.
A March 2013 Watchlist Guidance document covers secret rules for including individuals in a terrorist database as well as others designated for no-fly list status.
Criteria for inclusion are secret. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Justification in all cases is possible harm to national security - a catchall process for the most egregious policies.
At the time, ACLU National Security Project head Hina Shamsi said:
"Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future."
"On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven’t carried out."
Once blacklisted, individuals guilty of nothing face enormous travel, employment and other obstacles.
Pre-9/11, 16 people were barred from flying. Now it's tens of thousands - in most cases unjustifiably based on unconfirmed suspicions or irresponsible targeting for political reasons.
America blacklists its own citizens as well as foreign nationals, yet complains when its officials are targeted. EU nations act the same way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: 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. 

Don’t Worry, the Government Still Has Plenty of Surveillance Power If Section 215 Sunsets

eff.org - Sun, 31/05/2015 - 17:03

The story being spun by the defenders of Section 215 of the Patriot Act and the Obama Administration is that if the law sunsets entirely, the government will lose critical surveillance capabilities. The fearmongering includes President Obama, who said: “heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or could’ve apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so.”

So how real is this concern? Not very. Section 215 is only one of a number of largely overlapping surveillance authorities, and the loss of the current version of the law will leave the government with a range of tools that is still incredibly powerful.

First, there’s the most famous use of Section 215—the bulk collection of telephone records by the NSA. Of course, no matter what law the government relies on, bulk surveillance is unconstitutional. But equally importantly, it doesn’t work. Every assessment about the bulk collection of telephone records, including two by hand-picked administration panels, have concluded that “collecting it all” hasn’t materially aided any terrorism investigation. The same goes for other still-secret bulk surveillance programs under Section 215, the latest evidence of which came in a recently released oversight report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

And then there’s the matter of targeted investigations. The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer has explained that this too is scaremongering, because “the sunset of Section 215 wouldn’t affect the government’s ability to conduct targeted investigations of terrorist threats.”  That’s because even without Section 215, the government still has broad powers to collect information during its national security investigations. EFF believes that many of these laws can be scaled back and made more transparent as well, but given the current situation, these are the tools in the national security investigators’ toolbox: 

·      Pen Registers: These allow the government to collect “dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information” including telephone numbers dialed and Internet metadata such as IP addresses and email headers. There are two pen register statutes, one for foreign intelligence surveillance and one for law enforcement. Both rely require only that the pen register be likely to obtain information relevant to a national security or criminal investigation respectively. Until the end of 2011, the NSA used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) pen register statute to conduct mass surveillance of Internet metadata, much as it still uses Section 215 for mass collection of telephone records.

·      The Pre-Patriot Act Business Records Provision: Before the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001, FISA contained a provision allowing the government to obtain business records from transportation carriers and storage facilities. Harley Geiger of the Center for Democracy and Technology has pointed out that under a June 1 sunset, FISA would simply revert to this provision.

·      An ECPA “D Order”: Under Section 2703(d) of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the government can get a court order for information from ISPs or other communications providers about their customers, including the sorts of metadata the government gets with Section 215. To get a D Order, the government must provide “specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that . . .  the records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”  

·      Grand Jury Subpoenas: Given that Section 215 explicitly says that the FISA Court (FISC) “may only require the production of a tangible thing if such thing can be obtained” with a grand jury subpoena, it’s apparent that a grand jury subpoena is a reasonable substitute, at least where a grand jury can be convened.

·      National Security Letters (NSLs): Similar to subpoenas, NSLs allow intelligence agencies to collect records from a range of entities including telecommunications providers, financial institutions, credit reporting bureaus, travel agencies and others. Nearly all NSLs include self-certified gag orders, which EFF has successfully challenged as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the FBI and other agencies can use NSLs to collect much the same information as Section 215, although the government has also misused NSLs to obtain communication records not authorized by the NSL statute.

·      Administrative Subpoenas: Many federal agencies have the authority to issue subpoenas for customer records in their normal course of business. These authorities are extremely widespread, comprising 335 different statutes by one count.  

·      FISA Warrants: Under FISA, the government can get warrants from the FISC for electronic surveillance and physical searches in the context of national security investigations. Although these require a higher showing—probable cause—statistics compiled by EPIC show the FISC routinely issues them, and has done so since FISA was passed in 1978.

Some of these laws involve different legal standards than Section 215, and not all of them apply in all contexts, although exactly how the government thinks it can use many of them remains unclear. Moreover, mapping these to the government’s actual use of 215 is imprecise because the government also continues to say that the types of information it obtains with Section 215 are classified. FBI Director James Comey claims the loss of Section 215 would be a “problem” because at least some of this information can’t be obtained with a subpoena or an NSL but hasn't given any examples. And taken together the government’s tools are formidable, making it difficult to see legitimate, targeted national security information that the government cannot get even without the current version of Section 215, a conclusion confirmed by the Inspector General report that as of 2009 it could not “identify any major case developments from the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders."

Finally, looking beyond Section 215, two other powers would also expire with the Patriot Act sunset. First is the so-called lone wolf provision that the government has never used. Not once.  The second is the “roving wiretaps” provision that had been used only 11 times as of 2013 and for which the government has issued no stories of its actual usefulness in a terrorism investigation. Meanwhile, EFF unearthed evidence that this provision had been misused back in 2011. So it seems there’s little there too. 

In short, don’t believe the hype that the government will have its hands tied behind its back without Section 215.

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Cybersecurity and the Tylenol Murders

eff.org - Sun, 31/05/2015 - 11:06

When a criminal started lacing Tylenol capsules with cyanide in 1982, Johnson & Johnson quickly sprang into action to ensure consumer safety. It increased its internal production controls, recalled the capsules, offered an exchange for tablets, and within two months started using triple-seal tamper-resistant packaging. The company focused on fixing weak points in their supply chain so that users could be sure that no one had interfered with the product before they purchased it.

This story is taught in business schools as an example of how a company chose to be proactive to protect its users. The FDA also passed regulations requiring increased security and Congress ultimately passed an anti-tampering law. But the focus of the response from both the private and the public sector was on ensuring that consumers remained safe and secure, rather than on catching the perpetrator. Indeed, the person who did the tampering was never caught.

This story springs to mind today as Congress considers the latest cybersecurity and data breach bills. To folks who understand computer security and networks, it's plain that the key problem are our vulnerable infrastructure and weak computer security, much like the vulnerabilities in Johnson & Johnson’s supply chain in the 1980s. As then, the failure to secure our networks, the services we rely upon, and our individual computers makes it easy for bad actors to step in and “poison” our information.

So if we were to approach this as a safety problem, the way forward is clear: We need better incentives for companies who store our data to keep it secure. In fact, there is broad agreement that we can easily raise the bar against cyberthieves and spies. Known vulnerabilities frequently go unpatched. For instance, The New York Times reported that the J.P. Morgan hack occurred due to an un-updated server. Information is too often stored in the clear rather than in encrypted form and many devices like smart phones or tablets, that increasingly store our entire lives, don’t even allow for key security upgrades.

Yet none of the proposals now in Congress are aimed at actually increasing the safety of our data. Instead, the focus is on “information sharing,” a euphemism for more surveillance of users and networks. These bills are not only wrongheaded, they seem to be a cynical ploy to use the very real problems of cybersecurity to advance a surveillance agenda, rather than to actually take steps to make people safer. EFF has long opposed these bills and we will continue to do so.

But that’s not all. Not only is Congress failing to address the need for increased computer and network security, key parts of the government are working to undermine our safety. The FBI continues to demonize strong cryptography, trying instead to sell the public on “technologically stupid” strategy that will make us all less safe. Equally outrageous, the recent Logjam vulnerabilities show that the NSA has been spending billions of our tax dollars to exploit weaknesses in our computer security—weaknesses caused by the government’s own ill-advised regulation of cryptography in the 1990s—rather than helping us strengthen our systems.

But how can we create stronger incentives for companies to protect our data?

If Congress wants to help, it has a big tool box, starting with its own government purchasing power—after all, the government stores a lot of our data and it can help spur stronger protections by only choosing secure tools for its own use. Congress can also endorse strong encryption and take steps ranging from setting funding priorities to holding hearings to directly legislating to counter the NSA and FBI’s efforts to keep us from upgrading to more secure tools and services.

Additionally, though, we need to ensure that companies to whom we entrust our data have clear, enforceable obligations to keep it safe from bad guys. This includes those who handle it it directly and those who build the tools we use to store or otherwise handle it ourselves.  In the case of Johnson & Johnson, products liability law makes the company responsible for the harm that comes to us due to the behavior of others if safer designs are available, and the attack was foreseeable. Similarly, hotels and restaurants that open their doors to the public have obligations under the law of premises liability to take reasonable steps to keep us safe, even if the danger comes from others. People who hold your physical stuff for you—the law calls them bailees—also have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect it against external forces.

Online services do have some baseline responsibility under negligence standards, as well as a few other legal doctrines, and those were relied upon in the cases against Target, Home Depot, the Gap, and Zappos. Yet so far those standards have been interpreted by the courts to put a very low burden on companies and a very high burden on those harmed. On their own, companies have largely failed to take develop shared, strong standards for what is “reasonable” security, and Congress hasn’t forced them to, leaving the courts with little to point to when trying to hold companies to account. The FTC has brought some actions based on the argument that poor data security is an unfair business practice, but they have had slow going, as their three year fight with Wyndham hotels demonstrates. Companies therefore have little incentive to invest in and adopt new, more secure products akin to Johnson & Johnson’s tamper-resistant packaging and those who take the lead get little reward for doing so.

Another problem is that the law hasn’t figured out a good way to recognize the harms suffered due to poor cybersecurity, which means that the threat of a lawsuit over a cybersecurity breach isn’t nearly as powerful as it might be in a situation involving, say, insecure cars or pain relievers. This is strange at a time when some of that same data is deemed to be worth billions by the venture capital markets and a whole military cyber command. Finally, the online agreements or EULAs we must click through to use services often limit or even fully block consumers from suing over insecure systems.

Congress (or state legislatures) could step in on any one of these topic to encourage real security for users—by creating incentives for greater security, a greater downside for companies that fail to do so and by rewarding those companies who make the effort to develop stronger security. It can also shine a light on security failures by requiring public reporting for big companies. By doing so, in careful measure, Congress could spur a race to the top on computer security and create real consequences for those who choose to linger on the bottom.

Yet none of these options are even part of the legislative debate; they often aren't even mentioned. Instead the proposed laws go the other way—giving companies immunity if they create more risk with your data by “sharing” it with the government, where it could still be hacked. "Information sharing" is focused on forensics—finding who did it and how after the fact—rather than on protecting computer users in the first place. And even then there is widespread disagreement about whether this extra step is likely to make a meaningful difference in most investigations. After all, technical information about attacks can already be shared by companies, it's just the content of our data itself that is protected. Meanwhile, on data breaches themselves, Congress is still monkeying about with notification laws even though almost every state already has one. If Congress wanted to lead on security, it might start a public debate about data breach liability laws.

Looking at the Congressional debate, it's as if the answer for Americans after the Tylenol incident was not to put on tamper-evident seals, or increase the security of the supply chain, but only to require Tylenol to “share” its customer lists with the government and with the folks over at Bayer aspirin. We wouldn’t have stood for such a wrongheaded response in 1982, and we shouldn’t do so now.

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Tony Blair Not Leaving Middle East After All

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 31/05/2015 - 04:23
Tony Blair Not Leaving Middle East After All
by Stephen Lendman
Despite resigning as Middle East envoy, he's maintaining his regional activities. They made him super-rich. It's anyone's guess how much wealth he amassed.
Greed drives him. He wants more. He's remaining active on regional affairs despite no formal role.
An overt racist, RT International reported he wants to be an Israeli/Arab bridge-builder - "drawing on relationships he has in the region."
He wants to build his considerable fortune to an even greater one. He wants his status as a world figure maintained. 
He strongly supports Israel and key regional Western allies - for sure not Palestinians and the Arab street overall.
He's an unindicted war criminal - complicit with US imperial aggression from Belgrade to Baghdad.
He made multi-millions supporting wrong over right. Blair, Inc. is a large enterprise - including hugely secretive offshore companies and trusts.
He parlayed his regional diplomatic role into a fortune. He abused the post he held. He plans continued abuse by sticking around.
His predecessor, James Wolfensohn, treated his responsibilities as a full-time job. Blair hardly showed up - a few times a month, if that. His remaining time was spent  making money.
He has his own consultancy firm - Tony Blair Associates in London. It's described as a secretive complex mix of companies. You’re known by the company you keep.
Blair advises regional despots, earns millions in speaking fees - millions more from New York-based JP Morgan Chase and Switzerland-based insurer Zurich International.
Stop the War UK lists Kuwait, the UAE, Kazakhstan, Albania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Colombia, Brazil, and Mongolia as nation-state Blair clients. 
Egypt and Oman may be next. Other clients included the Democratic Republic of Congo and Serbia.
A former unnamed Blair, Inc. associate said "(h)e moves in mysterious ways. The Blair organization is like a sort of government with different departments doing different things."
"His office is run on Downing Street lines. It's like he's never not been PM." Before resigning as Middle East envoy, Council for Arab-British Understanding's Chris Doyle said:
"Tony Blair has to decide between his Quartet role as envoy to one of the most dangerous conflicts on the planet, his burgeoning media role in pushing for intervention in Iraq and Syria and his business interests across the globe including in the Middle East. These roles are incompatible and create a huge conflict of interest."
Blair is a crass opportunist parlaying his political background and contacts into lucrative business deals.
He established a post-Downing Street career working with disreputable clients - cashing in big.
On May 30, London's Independent asked if he stepped down as Middle East envoy "to spend even more time with his dictators?"
His only accomplishment was making money. His conflicts of interest are rife. He lives like royalty with a number of multi-million dollar properties - 31 in Britain and five abroad, according to The Independent.
"Secretive off-the-shelf companies called Windrush Ventures and Firerush Ventures" are central to Blair's corporate empire.
Years of investigation show he prostituted himself in pursuing Mammon, The Independent added.
Blair's world is complex, secretive, opaque, distasteful, immoral and perhaps illegal given the rogue cast of characters he cast his lot with.
"Political friends and foes alike are left cold with disgust," said The Independent.
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. 

Iran Nuclear Talks: Raising the Bar

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 31/05/2015 - 01:35
Iran Nuclear Talks: Raising the Bar
by Stephen Lendman
On April 1, P5+1 countries and Iran agreed "in principle on all key aspects of a deal."
An article discussing the announcement said hold the cheers. It's a long way from preliminary to final agreement - especially with Washington involved, serving its own and Israeli interests.
It's longer still believing America will honor what it agrees to. Its sordid history suggests otherwise - breaching and/or reinterpreting one agreement and convention after another to suit its political agenda.
Washington's only rules are its own - made up based on geopolitical considerations and enforced belligerently.
P5+1 nations and Iran agreed on a June 30 deadline to consummate final deal terms.
On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrived in Geneva for continued talks - including with John Kerry.
Important disagreements remain. On Wednesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said talks might extend beyond end of June.
"All issues are on the table in this round of talks, and we will work on them concurrently," he explained.
Washington raised the bar. It wants access to Iran's military sites. Days earlier, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said:
"If we don’t get the assurances we need on the access to possible military dimension-related sites or activities, that’s going to be a problem for us." 
"We and Iran have agreed that we will undertake a process to address possible military dimensions (of past nuclear work), and part of that includes access."
"Under the Additional Protocol... which Iran will implement and has said they will implement as part of this deal, the IAEA does get access."
"If we cannot agree in the final instance to something that meets our bottom line for what we need in terms of access, we’re not going to sign a final deal. And that’s just something we’ve been very, very clear about."
Her remarks followed Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei saying Iran won't allow military site inspections. Preliminary agreement terms make no such demand.
Following new US ones, Ayatollah Khamenei said "(t)hey are making new comments in the negotiations."
"Regarding the inspections, we have said that we will not allow foreigners to carry out inspections of any military sites."
"The enemies should know that the Iranian nation and officials will, by no means, give in to excessive demands and bullying."
In early May, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said "Iran will brook no excessive demands." 
"The agreed parameters are those confirmed by the two sides in Lausanne and these parameters need to be stipulated in a written agreement by Iran and the P5+1."
On Saturday, Deputy Foreign Minister Araqchi said "(i)nterviews with scientists and inspections of military centers are fully rejected, but talks continue within the framework of the procedures envisaged in the Additional Protocol."
It allows some access to military sites but not unrestricted inspections or interviews with Iranian scientists.
Araqchi explained discussions are continuing on how the Additional Protocol should be implemented. It permits snap nuclear site inspections - restricted access only to military ones when justified.
On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said "France will not accept a deal if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites."
Was he speaking for his government, Washington and/or Israel?
"Yes to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb. That is the position of France," he said.
In Geneva, Zarif said "(w)e will discuss the latest conditions of the negotiations, and we will decide how to proceed."
Last Month, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi said nothing in the Additional Protocol mandates non-nuclear inspections - only their "vicinities."
Everyone has their own interpretations, he added. Iran so far agreed to much more than it's gotten in return.
If Washington keeps raising the bar irresponsibly, perhaps no deal is possible. Iran justifiably won't relinquish its legitimate rights - nor should it.
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. 

Relentless Putin Bashing

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 22:55
Relentless Putin Bashing
by Stephen Lendman
Washington and its echo chamber media attack Putin for asserting Russian sovereign independence and opposing America's imperial agenda.
Big Lies substitute for hard truths. On Thursday, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke repeated the canard about "Russian forces…on the territory of a sovereign neighbor, Ukraine, where they are working with, allied with, aiding and fighting alongside separatists whom Russia also backs on sovereign Ukrainian territory."
At the same time, he ignored Kiev aggression, pretended its dirty war without mercy on Donbass is an "anti-terrorist operation," and stressed America's support for "what's been happening in eastern Ukraine remains unchanged."
He lied claiming "Russia continues to fuel the conflict in southeastern Ukraine, initiating attacks together with the separatists." 
"And we do know that the combined Russian and separatist forces continue to flout the terms of the February 12th Minsk implementation plan."
Truth is polar opposite. Washington continues supporting Kiev's naked aggression on Donbass.
Russia has done more than all other nations combined to resolve the conflict diplomatically.
It's forces aren't committing "naked aggression." They're not fighting alongside Donbass militias or supplying them with weapons and munitions.
Russia isn't fueling conflict. It's going all-out to stop it diplomatically. It fully complies with Minsk ceasefire terms. Kiev is a serial violator.
US scoundrel media bashing is relentless. On May 28, Wall Street Journal editors headlined "The Russians Are Coming, Again."
They irresponsibly blamed Moscow for repeated Kiev ceasefire breaches. The following reads like bad fiction:
"Russian proxies on Saturday shelled Avdiyivka, a town in eastern Ukraine held by the Kiev government, killing a Ukrainian service member and a civilian in an attack that also shut down a coke-manufacturing plant." 
"On Sunday pro-Kremlin forces fired on Ukrainian positions near the port of Mariupol, killing a Ukrainian soldier and wounding two."
"These are the latest in a growing series of Russian violations of the so-called Minsk II deal…"
Truth is polar opposite Journal editor Big Lies. Kiev is a serial aggressor, Russia a preeminent peacemaker.
Journal editors quoted an unnamed Western diplomat (likely a US neocon or UK counterpart) saying:
"The familiar pattern is recurring. Russia makes high-level assurances that it wants peace, and meanwhile stokes the violence on the ground with fighters and arms."
Ukrainian defense ministry advisor Alexey Makukhin lied claiming so-called documents showing 50 - 80 daily Russian ceasefire violations.
There are none in contrast to multiple daily blatant Kiev breaches - including willfully targeting civilian neighborhoods, murdering noncombatant men, women and children.
Journal editors ludicrously said "Russian special forces…are infiltrating Ukrainian territory." They cite two captured Russian nationals - civilians, not active duty soldiers.
They quoted from an Atlantic Council right-wing think tank propaganda report claiming nonexistent satellite imagery showing "Russian training camps stationed along the Ukrainian border are the staging ground for Russian military equipment transported into Ukraine, soon to join the separatist arsenal, and for Russian soldiers mobilized across Russian to cross into Ukraine."
Not a shred of evidence supports these baseless accusations. Plenty debunks it.
On May 29, New York Times editors gave notorious Putin basher/serial liar Masha Gessen feature op-ed space for at least the second time this year.
She a former Washington-controlled Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Russian Service director propagandist.
Her job is proliferating Big Lies - systematically avoiding hard truths, putting out rubbish no legitimate editors would touch.
New York Times editors featured her op-ed titled "The Kremlin vs. The NGOs.
She bashed Russia's July 2014 law requiring politically active NGOs getting funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents."
Religious organizations, state companies and NGOs they founded aren't affected by the new law.
Gessen ignored America's Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA, 1938). It requires agents or organizations representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity" to disclose their relationship and provide information about their activities and financing.
The law remains in force, amended in 1966, focusing on agents or groups working with foreign power seeking economic or political advantage by influencing US decision-making.
Other countries have similar laws. Putin explained Russia's position saying:
"As far as the law is concerned, or rather the part of it that causes great discussions - whether the organizations that are engaged in internal political activities should register - we will not change this position."
"This is because when people are doing some political work inside the country and receive money from abroad, the society has the right to know what kind of organization this is, and where they get the funds to sponsor their existence."
Gessen also criticized Russia's "undesirable organizations" law - irresponsibly claiming it's "used to hit very hard what remained of civil society."
The measure justifiably only targets foreign organizations posing a "threat to the constitutional order and defense capability or the security of the Russian state" - in other words, subversive groups up to mischief.
Russian officials call the law preventative - without naming any specific foreign organizations.
Given Washington's longstanding hostility, Russia needs its national security protected - including legislatively.
Not according to Gessen, ignoring Russia's free society and open media shaming their Western counterparts.
Moscow "will not quit until it has vacuumed up every last bit of free thought and independent activity," she blustered.
On May 28, Washington Post editors discussed what they called opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza's "mysterious illness."
He collapsed in his office and was hospitalized. According to WaPo editors - suffering from "double pneumonia, pancreatitis and kidney failure."
They quoted his wife suggesting he was poisoned, claiming his condition remained grave.
The hospital's deputy head doctor later said his heart, lungs and stomach are OK. His illness was kidney related. "It could have been (caused by eating) spoiled yogurt or something else."
No evidence suggested poisoning. WaPo editors indicated otherwise claiming "crude attacks on peaceful opponents in a country that wishes to be, and often is, treated as a global power."
They used Kara-Murza's treatable illness unrelated to Russian politics as an example of "the truth about (its) murderous regime."
They ignored Washington's ongoing multiple direct and proxy wars on humanity responsible for millions of deaths and unspeakable human misery in the new millennium alone - besides homeland police repression and turning US streets into battlegrounds.
US policy toward Russia remains hardline - same old business as usual masquerading as new leaf softening when John Kerry and Victoria Nuland meet with Putin. Media propaganda alone explains Washington's dirty agenda. So do daily State Department press briefings.
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. 

Former Police State Leader/Wanted Man Appointed Ukrainian Governor

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 19:16
Former Police State Leader/Wanted Man Appointed Ukrainian Governor
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article called Ukraine a gangster state for good reason. It's a Nazi-infested regime run by illegitimate putschist thugs waging endless war on its own people.
Former Georgian president, US favorite, fugitive from justice Mikhail Saakashvili was appointed (not elected) Odessa regional governor.
Washington's orchestrated 2003 Georgian Rose Revolution elevated him to power. He established a ruthless, despotic, corrupt regime while maintaining close ties to US-dominated NATO and Israel.
He ruled by state terror, turning Georgia into a police state. Human and civil rights were suspended.
Opposition media were shut down. Political opponents were eliminated by arrests, imprisonments and suspicious deaths.
Saakashvili is a world-class thug. He's a US favorite. In Georgia, he's a wanted man. His assets were frozen by court order.
A previous article explained he faces corruption and other criminal charges. An international warrant was issued for his arrest. An Interpol Red Notice was served against him.
He'd been living comfortably in New York. In February, Poroshenko appointed him a non-staff advisor.
Despite a Ukraine/Georgia extradition agreement, he’s granted safe haven status in Kiev.
In August 2008, he was complicit with Washington in attacking South Ossetia. Russia was irresponsibly blamed for intervening to protect its own citizens - after hundreds were ruthlessly slaughtered.
A 2010 Independent Fact Finding Mission Report ruled Saakashvili responsible for naked aggression.
He's militantly anti-Russian. He fits right in with other Ukrainian thugs - fascist criminals by any standard.
Appointing him Odessa regional governor is like making an assassin police chief or a pyromaniac fire commissioner.
Saakashvili unsurprisingly supported 2014 Maidan coup d'etat thuggery installing Ukraine's current regime.
He was granted Ukrainian citizenship, a legal requirement for his new position. Via Twitter, he said he "loves Odessa."
On Saturday, Ukrainian state media said Poroshenko would introduce him as new Odessa Regional State Administration governor in the city.
He'll replace current incumbent businessman/MP Ihor Palytsia, appointed on May 6, 2014 - four days after last year's regime orchestrated Odessa massacre murdering hundreds of anti-fascists.
Saavashvili's appointment suggests perhaps Kiev wants increased state terror crackdowns in a city with a large Russian-speaking minority and anti-fascist spirit.
Regime opponents, democracy supporters, independent journalists and human rights activists are being targeted, arrested, brutalized and detained extrajudicially - on trumped up charges. 
Guilt by accusation is commonplace police state practice. Russian nationals are vulnerable for any reason or none at all.
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Kiev for repeated ceasefire violations, saying:
"I think that by now all the major Western states that follow the situation and possess facts, understand very clearly that, for a number of reasons, the Ukrainian authorities are the major obstacle on the way to the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements."
On Thursday, Donetsk People's Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko affirmed DPR's right to respond to Kiev provocations appropriately, saying:
"As regards the shelling of Gorlovka, once again, the Ukrainian side showed that it wouldn’t carry out the peace agreement. They prefer to violate it blatantly." 
"Thus, Poroshenko’s signature on the Minsk-2 agreement was nothing but a deliberate deception, not only against us, but also against his country and the rest of the world." 
"Until now, the DPR has plainly fulfilled all its obligations. However, we reserve the right to act at our own discretion."
One Kiev provocation too many may instigate resumed full-scale war. Deceptive rhetoric aside, Washington won't tolerate peace and stability in Donbass.
Obama didn't wage proxy war to quit. More than daily Kiev shelling remains ongoing. Fort Russ reported on "a raging special ops war" ignored by Western media.
Are covert US special forces and/or Blackwater-type paramilitaries involved? Fort Russ said Georgian US School of the Americas graduates "are swarming in Donbass." 
Polish soldiers are involved. US special forces are training Ukrainian troops in Mariupol - about 70 miles south of Donetsk.
Donbass military intelligence reported 19 subversive groups operating in the region  - "formed from the commandos arrived from beyond the borders of Ukraine," a clear indication of endless overt and covert war.
On May 22, Lugansk residents observed "suspicious…armed men in camouflage calling themselves militias," said Fort Russ.
They attacked an Interior Ministry response team. Some of the "strangers" were killed. One captured individual wore a Western-style camouflaged uniform, a mask and had a list of unidentified phone numbers.
On May 23 in Donetsk, small arms fire targeted a Joint Center for Control and Coordination (SCCC) car. Its Russian office head and other officers were traveling in it at the time. The attack was foiled.
On the same day, noted anti-regime Ghost Brigade commander Alexey Mozgovoy, his spokeswoman and two bodyguards were ambushed and killed.
His significant loss will be made up for by others taking his place. Donbass' liberating struggle is important.
Courageous self-defense forces intend doing what it takes to stay free. Putin said he won't let Donbass be destroyed. 
He's gone all-out to resolve things diplomatically - so far without success because of US obstructionism and rage for war. 
Expect endless fighting ahead. It's the American way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: 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. 

Congress Must Not Authorize More Chilling of the First Amendment with Material Support Laws

eff.org - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 05:49

We’ve made it clear that, while we’re not opposing it, USA Freedom just doesn’t go far enough for us to continue supporting it. We’ve noted some of our concerns—including the increase in the maximum sentence for material support for terrorism to 20 years. This provision, introduced at the behest of the intelligence community, deserves more attention.

In 2005, we called for the repeal of Section 805 of the Patriot Act, which broadened the crime of material support to any foreign organization the Secretary of State has designated as a “terrorist organization.” Here’s what we said about Section 805 of the Patriot Act then:

Section 805 makes it a crime to offer "expert advice and assistance" to any foreign organization that the Secretary of State has designated as "terrorist." But . . . many of these "terrorist" organizations also advocate for, and provide humanitarian assistance to, their constituents. 

Under Section 805, we pointed out, even organizations that “engage in legitimate political advocacy or humanitarian work” can be designated terrorists:

PATRIOT makes it illegal to offer expert advice and assistance even for these legal, non-terrorist activities. A humanitarian social worker training Hamas members how to care for civilian children orphaned in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians could be sent to prison. So could a lawyer teaching IRA members about international law. Section 805 even extends to people engaged in activities to discourage terrorism, such as those offering training in effective peace negotiations or how to petition the United Nations regarding human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, our fears about the chilling effects of Section 805 on political speech, humanitarian aid, and peaceful conflict resolution assistance turned out to be true.

In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court upheld the material support statute. Plaintiffs in the case included the Humanitarian Law Project, which sought to “assist the [Kurdistan Workers' Party] in methods for peacefully resolving its disputes with the Turkish government, and in carrying out human rights monitoring in Kurdish parts of Turkey. Other plaintiffs included a Tamil-American physician and several Tamil-American organizations in the United States that sought to support the lawful activities of the [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] in Sri Lanka.” None of the plaintiffs in the case were “terrorists”; they all were engaged in peaceful advocacy and humanitarian assistance. However, because the organizations they assisted had been designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the Secretary of State, the Supreme Court determined that even the plaintiffs’ peaceful contributions could fall within the statute.

That decision, signing off on the government’s broad interpretation of material support, allows the government to apply the statute to activities that would otherwise be protected under the First Amendment—and that could actually help prevent terrorism, instead of supporting it. And the way the government has used the material support statute since 2001 demonstrates exactly why the statute should be changed, not reinforced.

The material support laws have made it difficult for many Muslim-Americans to know where exactly they can make donations. This is a particularly big burden for Muslims, since zakat (essentially charitable giving) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam.

The laws have also been used to harass political activists—many of whom are associated with particularly unpopular causes. In 2010, the FBI raided the homes of eight antiwar and pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, “looking at activities connected to the material support of terrorism.” The raids were accompanied by grand jury subpoenas, at which activists refused to testify. No charges have ever been filed, but the investigation is still technically open.  

As Council on American-Islamic Relations points out:

[T]hose who value impartiality in the criminal justice system cannot in good conscience support legislation that increases maximum sentences that have been overly and wrongly applied by the FBI and DOJ in investigating, prosecuting, and incarcerating members of [the]Muslim community and other free speech activities. Increasing maximum sentences also has no place in federal surveillance reform; rather, the system should work towards reducing the maximum sentences and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, which have a discriminatory impact. link added

While we understand the desire to punish true acts of terrorism, increasing penalties for material support will not accomplish that. What this really does is increase the heft of one of the many weapons the government has to chill First Amendment protected activities—including the free exercise of speech and religion. It must not be included in any reform legislation

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EFF Battles Abuse of Site-Blocking Court Orders

eff.org - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 05:42
Fight Over Music Streaming Site Shows Music Labels’ Overreach

New York – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal court in an emergency hearing and a written filing this week to block the recording industry’s move to force Internet infrastructure companies into becoming copyright police with far-reaching restraining orders.

EFF represents CloudFlare, a service that speeds up websites and protects them from malicious attacks. One of its clients runs a website calling itself Grooveshark, which sprung up after a court shut down the more well known music sharing site Grooveshark. Citing trademark and copyright infringement, a group of record companies including Atlantic, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros. convinced a New York judge to issue a sealed temporary restraining order. According to the record companies, the order requires service providers of every kind to help take down the new Grooveshark site—even companies like CloudFlare who cannot control their users’ web content or domain names. CloudFlare called EFF to bring the court process into the open and force the recording industry into a fair fight.

“Just because you are providing a service to a website doesn’t mean you should be roped into policing it,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “Copyright holders should not be allowed to blanket infrastructure companies with blocking requests, co-opting them into becoming private trademark and copyright police.”

In the emergency hearing Tuesday, EFF and co-counsel from the firm of Goodwin Procter argued that blocking orders must follow a clear and open legal process, and can’t be directed to companies like CloudFlare. U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan ruled at that hearing that the proceedings must continue unsealed. In further briefing yesterday, EFF and Goodwin Procter opposed the restraining order. Judge Nathan is likely to make a decision about whether to target an order at CloudFlare within the next week.

“The record labels may want to stamp out every incarnation of Grooveshark, but a single court order that puts legal responsibilities on the entire Internet is not the way to do it,” said Stoltz.

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Stupid Patent of the Month: All of Patent Class 705

eff.org - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 05:21

In choosing this month’s Stupid Patent, we realized that we couldn’t choose just one. Instead, we decided to give the award to the entirety of patent class 705.

By way of explanation: every Tuesday, the Patent Office officially publishes new patents in the “Patent Gazette.” (This week’s is available here, through an interface that seems like it was built in 1995.) The Gazette arranges patents by patent classification, which is a way of organizing the patents by field. In looking for a good candidate for our Stupid Patent of the Month, we often look at newly issued patents in class 705. Why? Because that class is the class for “inventions” relating to “Data Processing: financial, business practice, management, or cost/price determination.” Yes, the Patent Office has a whole area dedicated to this “technology.” 

In browsing this class, we realized that awarding just one Stupid Patent this month would be a waste. We had too many candidates, so we decided to give the entire class the honor. Here’s a sample of what came out of class 705 this month: 

  • U.S. Pat. No. 9,026,468 (issued May 5, 2015), System and method for proactively establishing a third-party payment account for services rendered to a resident of a controlled-environment facility

This describes the idea of soliciting your loved ones to set up accounts to pay for your commissary purchases while you’re in jail. (Incidentally, this patent was granted to the same company that claimed ownership of your photos if you sent them to your loved ones).

  • U.S. Pat. No. 9,026,464 (issued May 5, 2015), Securely and efficiently processing telephone orders

This describes the idea of customers have billing accounts so that when they make phone orders, they don’t have to tell the salesman their billing information directly.

  • U.S. Pat. No. 9,037,482 (issued May 19, 2015), Method and system for optimizing the viewing of advertising

This describes changing the number of times an ad is shown to a viewer based on things like what the viewer does (e.g., if they turn their device off while an ad is playing).

  • U.S. Pat. No. 9,043,220 (issued May 26, 2015), Defining marketing strategies through derived E-commerce patterns

This describes the idea of analyzing consumer behavior so as to select a marketing strategy to use on the consumer.

  • U.S. Pat. No. 9,043,226 (issued May 26, 2015), Method and system for crediting a retailer for an internet purchase

This describes giving a commission to a store for an Internet purchase from another store if the customer was actually in the first store when they made the purchase.

Of course, all these patents have a bunch more specifics in them, but much of it is the usual patent technobabble such as including “modules” and “processors” with code stored on “non-transitory computer readable mediums.” Also, many of the patents don’t claim just one particular way of carrying out an idea, but pretty much any way done with a computer. And even where there are specifics in the claims (which define the patent rights given to the patent owner), they don’t seem to be much beyond the obvious things people would do if implementing these ideas. (Google’s patent 9,043,226 on “crediting a retailer for an internet purchase” is a good example of this.) Yet the patents issued anyway. 

The number of patents granted out of class 705 has apparently gone down in the last year. (One patent analytics company claims that several companies have seen significant drops in the number of patents they get issued out of class 705.) That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. The Patent Office needs to be much more diligent about not allowing the types of “inventions” we frequently see in class 705. 

But more importantly, we think the public should ask itself whether we need class 705 at all: is a 20-year monopoly on allowing people to prepay for their loved ones’ jail purchases really needed in order to incentivize that “invention”? We don’t think so.

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Palestinian Bid to Expel Israel from FIFA Dropped

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 04:43
Palestinian Bid to Expel Israel from FIFA Dropped
by Stephen Lendman
At the 11th hour, Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub dropped a bid to expel Israel from FIFA shortly before it was to be voted on.
Israeli abuses against Palestinian footballers are longstanding - including harassment, travel restrictions, assaults, arrests and at times killings.
Competitive sports of any kind should refuse inclusion of rogue regimes like Israel guilty of every imaginable high crime - including racist abuse of Palestinian athletes for praying to the wrong God.
Instead of banishing Israel straightaway, FIFA outrageously proposed forming a committee to monitor whether Palestinian footballers have free movement, Israeli racism, and status of Israeli league teams based in illegal settlements.
Reelected FIFA president Sepp Blatter opposed ousting Israel. Instead of condemning its lawlessness, he absurdly said "(t)hose that have more will share with those who have less." 
"In this case, it is up to Israel to share a little bit more with Palestine." Israel is a racist police state. It shares nothing. It's all take and no give. 
Rajoub takes orders from Abbas and other corrupt PA officials - longstanding Israeli collaborators, saying one thing publicly, doing another when it matters most.
Rajoub lied saying "Palestine has not withdrawn its application completely, but merely suspended it."
When the chips were down, he folded. It didn't surprise. Abbas notoriously betrays Palestinians for special benefits he derives. His rhetoric belies his policies.
Rajoub was unconvincing saying "(a) lot of colleagues, whom I respect and whose commitment to the ethics and values of the game I appreciate, told me how painful it is to hear of the issue of suspension."
"But I want to protect the Palestinian footballers, to let them enjoy the privilege of the game as others do."
"I think it's time to raise the red card against racism and humiliation in Palestine and everywhere. It is time."
Not when meaningless rhetoric substitutes for resoluteness - an attribute corrupt PA officials lack. Why they submitted an Israeli expulsion bid in the first place they'll have to explain - likely knowing they'd fold under pressure.
Two female protesters interrupted Blatter's Friday address shouting "Israel out." Security guards removed them.
Rajoub submitted Palestine's bid months earlier. He pretended to be firm all along.
Days earlier he said "(o)ur requests are clear, just and fair: Freedom of movement, end of racism and expulsion of all teams from illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine competing in the Israeli league."
Racist abuse of Palestinian footballers is longstanding Israeli policy. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once called it "shocking that (European football's governing body - UEFA) shows total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel."
Its abuse of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak undermined a promising career. In 2009, Israeli security thugs arrested him for trying to cross from Gaza to the West Bank to participate in a match - his legitimate right.
He was horrifically abused, lawlessly kept in administrative detention for three years uncharged. His lawyers were denied access to fabricated evidence against him.
He was guilty of the crime of football - freed in summer 2012 after a 92 day hunger strike. Israel ruthlessly targets other Palestinian footballers like Sarsak. 
Netanyahu commented on Friday's developments saying the outcome "proved our international efforts paid off and brought about the failure of the Palestinian Authority's attempt to expel us from FIFA…"
Israeli bullying and extreme pressure are notorious along with supportive likeminded tactics from Washington.
Palestinians stood little chance of getting Israel ousted or suspended. America and other Western rogue states won't tolerate it.
Occupation harshness persists. Abusing Palestinian footballers gives new meaning to the term "foul."
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. 

Ukraine: Gangster State

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 30/05/2015 - 02:57

Ukraine: Gangster State
by Stephen Lendman
Washington allies with the world's most despotic regimes. Ukraine is one of the worst.
Fascists in charge are guilty of most every high crime imaginable - committed with full US support and encouragement.
They continue waging dirty war without mercy on Donbass. They attack civilian neighborhoods - murdering noncombatant men, women and children, torturing prisoners, committing atrocities too grave to ignore. 
They used chemical weapons - last May and perhaps other times. A toxic choking agent was used. 
Symptoms included first-degree chemical-inflicted eye burns, alcoholic-like intoxication, bodily lacerations and fainting, as well as one or more victims diagnosed with unidentified gas poisoning.
White phosphorous and other chemical weapons were used. So were illegal cluster bombs - supplied by Washington.
On May 29, Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin warned about Kiev possibly readying to use chemical weapons again.
"(W)orks are underway on the territory of a chlorine storage base, to the northeast of Kochetok settlement in the Kharkov region," he said.
"A week ago, our intelligence saw 20 truck tanks with a capacity of five tons with an unknown chemical agent arrived at the facility’s territory."
On May 26, US military chemical experts arrived in Mariupol, he explained. Perhaps they along with "Kiev authorities (intend) sabotage on Ukraine's territory with the aim of accusing DPR leadership of the crime against humanity" - a possible false flag.
Since Kiev forces launched naked aggression on Donbass last April, they committed horrendous crimes of war and against humanity. So far unaccountably.
Russian parliamentarians proposed establishing a war crimes tribunal since US-led Western nations prevent ICC prosecutions.
Lower house State Duma Education Committee Chairman Vyacheslav Nikonov urged not letting war criminals go unpunished.
"I believe we already need to create our own tribunal for war crimes," he said. "In the name of those children, the elderly and women, both Ukrainians and Russians, we will never forget and forgive."
"Can there be any hope for those countries that are simultaneously the sponsors and masters of puppets of both the Hague tribunal and the regime of war criminals (in Kiev)?"
"Every day hundreds of people disappear without leaving a trace across Ukraine because they are suspected of being disloyal, and this continues even now and they are being killed with no trial and no record, and they are being tortured."
Separately, Minsk II terms mandated immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons beyond a 50 km wide security zone, dialogue between both sides, full resumption of socio-economic ties and Ukrainian constitutional reform, among other provisions.
Kiev violated everything it agreed to - most provisions straightaway. On Thursday, Poroshenko said he'll dialogue only with a Ukrainian Donbass, not its current one - a clear Minsk II breach.
Illegitimate prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he'd only talk to current Donbass leaders "when they are behind bars."
Ukraine is a criminal coup d'etat gangster state masquerading as legitimate governance. It's a Nazi-infested fascist police state. 
It's a lawless belligerent one. It's a major human and civil rights violator. It's a kleptocracy run by mega-thieves complicit with corporate ones - hugely corrupt, profiting at the public's expense.
Economist Michael Hudson calls its regime "an umbrella for grabitization." Ukrainians lucky to have jobs aren't getting paid - or get sub-poverty wages impossible to live on.
"(K)leptocrats and business owners are jumping ship," says Hudson - grabbing all they can before it sinks.
The 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile followed by invasion of the Chicago boys "was a dress rehearsal for all this," Hudson explains.
Chicago-style free market predation is impossible with force-fed tyranny. Ukraine is the new poster child.
Obama's friends are gangsters, murderers, torturers, rapists and mega-thieves. Poroshenko is an illegitimate oligarch mega-crook - heading a regime with no legitimacy whatever.
Apparently he thinks he's entitled to the Nobel Peace Prize - instead of a prison cell where he belongs.
Mussolini (1935), Hitler (1939 at the start of WW II) and Stalin (1945 and 1948) got Nobel nominations. Peace champions are consistently shunned.
A May 19 letter from Ukraine's parliament chairman Volodymyr Groysman to US Norway embassy charge d'affairs Julie Furuta-Toy calls it "of utmost importance for Mr. Poroshenko to have firm guarantees that he will be awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, since it could highlight the unanimous support of Ukrainian integrity by the democratic community of the world."
If Nobel Committee members go along this October, they'll make more of a sham out the award than already. Don't be surprised if it happens anyway.
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. 

Israel's War on Palestinian Fishermen, Farmers and Children

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 29/05/2015 - 21:35
Israel's War on Palestinian Fishermen, Farmers and Children
by Stephen Lendman
Israeli viciousness has no limits. Palestinians are systematically brutalized for not being Jewish.
They're harassed, intimidated, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered in cold blood. High crimes too grave to ignore have been commonplace since Israel's so-called war of independence.
At the time, 78% of historic Palestine was stolen for exclusive Jewish development. Israel took the rest in June 1967, including East Jerusalem. 
Jerusalem is an international city under a UN protectorate. Israeli claims to the city have no legitimacy. Nor does any nation have the right to breach international laws, norms and standards.
Israel does multiple times daily with impunity. Little reported war on Palestine continues daily.
Attacks on nonthreatening Palestinian fishermen occur almost daily. They're shot at, wounded and arrested.
Their boats and fishing gear are damaged and/or confiscated. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls Israel's policy of preventing Palestinian fishermen from pursuing their livelihoods "a form of collective punishment which is prohibited (under) international humanitarian law and international human rights law."
PCHR described one early May incident as follows:
"Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within less than one nautical mile from the beach."  
"An Israeli gunboat approached a fishing boat belonging to 'Issa Nafez Abu Riyalah and Ra'ed Sa'id al-'Ashi, both from al-Shati' refugee camp in Gaza City."  
"The fishing boat was boarded by Mohammed No'man Rabi'a al-Sultan (23) and Hatem al-'Abed 'Ashour al-Sultan (29). Both are from al-Salatin neighborhood in Beit Lahia."  
"The Israeli naval soldiers forced the fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the Israeli gunboat. The Israeli soldiers then arrested the two fishermen and confiscated their boat." 
"As a result of this attack, 17 pieces of fishing nets were lost." The area where the incident occurred experienced "heavy (Israeli) shooting" at Palestinian fishermen.
On Saturday, Maan News reported Israeli attacks on Palestinian fishermen off central Gaza's coast. They followed other earlier in the week attacks.
Separately on Saturday, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers in eastern Khan Younis. According to Maan News:
"Saturday's events come as Israeli forces have escalated attacks against Gazan Palestinians inside of the Israeli-implemented and controlled buffer zone." 
"Gaza-based Israeli watchdog Al Mezan (Center for Human Rights) documented Israeli forces opening fire in the border areas six separate times during the first ten days of May, leaving four injured including one child."
Al Mezan "reiterate(d) its calls on the international community to promptly intervene in order to halt Israel's violations."
Gaza is occupied Palestinian territory. It's lawlessly blockaded - for political, not security reasons. World leaders do nothing to enforce fundamental international law.
They let Israel operate lawlessly - including committing mass slaughter and destruction at its discretion against Palestinians posing no threat.
The post-Operation Protective Edge ceasefire agreement extended Gaza's fishing zone from three to six nautical miles offshore immediately - expanded to 12 nautical miles by yearend 2014.
Israel reneged on its pledge straightaway. Palestinian fishermen are vulnerable anywhere offshore. Some are shot and killed for the crime of fishing.
Israeli security forces and settlers attack Palestinian farmers with impunity. They're shot at and physically assaulted. Their crops are destroyed.
According to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), about 800,000 olive trees have been lawlessly uprooted since June 1967. 
Palestinian homes, cars and other property are vandalized. Livestock are killed. Water wells are poisoned. 
Mosques are defaced and/or burned. Children are attacked - including going to and from school, at play and in fields helping their parents.
Settler attacks on Palestinians and their property occur almost daily on average.
A new Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights report titled Mock Enforcement "reveal(ed) a worrying picture regarding the conduct of the law enforcement system in general, and (Israeli) police in particular…"
Investigations are routinely whitewashed. Chances for prosecuting and convicting Jews committing crimes against Palestinians "is just 1.9%."
Palestinian rights are systematically violated. Crimes committed against them go unpunished - including cold-blooded murder.
Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) called Israel's summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge "a war waged on Gaza's children.
DCIP verified 547 Palestinian children killed - two-thirds aged 12 or younger.
DCIP general director Khaled Quzmar blasted Israel for its repeated wars on Palestine and "complete disregard for international law…" 
"(A)ny meaningful efforts toward implementing comprehensive protections for Palestinian children" are thwarted.
They're deliberately and maliciously targeted as enemies despite posing no threat whatever.
Clear evidence showed Israel targeted schools, private neighborhood residences and children in streets.
On one day alone, Israeli forces murdered 59 Palestinian children. Dozens of entire families were massacred in cold blood.
"More than 1,000 (Palestinian) children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled" for life - according to OCHA.
Amputees like Mohammad Baroud, aged 12, lost both his feet. He'll require medical care and support for the rest of his life.
Many Gazan children lost one or both parents. The emotional scars are "severe and resounding," said DCIP.
Israel is a brutal occupying power - ruthless child killers mass murdering with impunity.
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. 

Scoundrel Media FIFA Bashing

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 29/05/2015 - 19:59
Scoundrel Media FIFA Bashing
by Stephen Lendman
Amateur and professional sports are big business. It's no surprise they're rife with corruption. With billions of dollars at stake, anything goes, most often unaccountably.
Organized crime is involved. Crooked deals take place behind closed doors. 
Corruption has many forms - including bribes, kickbacks, rigged construction bids, money laundering, front companies, exploitation of amateur athletes, and lots more.
Big-time US college sports are notoriously corrupt. Runaway commercialism is pervasive. Schools sell their souls for lucrative advertiser sponsorships, television contracts, ticket, concession and merchandise sales, licensing fees and other revenue sources.
Young student athletes are exploited - used, unpaid, mostly uneducated, and unprepared for life after school except for a tiny percentage able to play professionally for pay.
America's National Football League is a multi-billion dollar industry able to get away with virtually anything. Like banks too big to fail, the NFL is too popular to have its serious abuses addressed and changed.
Concern for player safety is more rhetoric than practice. Powerful bodies smashing into each other is like experiencing car crashes at times. 
Playing too many games with too little recovery time in between leaves most athletes with permanent lifetime disabilities when retire - often after a few years or less because of broken bodies, including head trauma from frequent concussions.
This writer knew a former Philadelphia Eagle lineman years ago. He was "wracked up" in less than one professional year, partly disabled, operating a small used car lot for income.
Any business as big as NFL football is rife with the same kind of corruption tainting other sports - amateur and professional, including getting taxpayers to pay for hugely expensive stadiums, a clear example of grand theft.
FIFA corruption is longstanding. It's in the eye of the storm - but not because of unsavory practices, legal or illegal.
If America's Justice Department wanted to clean up sports, professional and amateur, it would start at home. Instead it targeted FIFA extrajudicially. Two other articles explained - here and here.
Indictments against 14 current and former FIFA officials were made for political reasons, not criminality.
America's media scoundrels reacted as expected - ignoring huge wrongdoing at home, piling on the political offensive against FIFA.
"FIFA's Corruption Stains World Soccer," headlined New York Times editors. Ever hear them take on bankster high crimes, other corporate crooks, or a mega-corrupt predatory capitalist system benefitting elite few hugely at the expense of most others.
Instead they bashed FIFA awarding World Cup host city honors to Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively. They called them "puzzling…immediately rais(ing) suspicion of foul play when announced in December 2010."
They cited social media "consensus (that the) arrests (were) long overdue." They ignored Washington's Justice Department indicting foreign nationals extrajudicially.
They're not US citizens. They don't live in America. DOJ has no legal authority to target them. Don't expect Times editors to explain.
They overstepped calling for "the immediate ouster of Mr. Blatter and the restructuring of FIFA." They urged reconsideration of awarding Russia and Qatar host city honors.
Ever hear them call for "the immediate ouster" of Wall Street mega-crook CEO's? Or demand hugely corrupt US college and professional sports be cleaned up - including prosecuting culpable officials?
Washington Post editors piled on FIFA like their Times counterparts - headlining "FIFA's ugly stains on the beautiful game."
They praised Attorney General Loretta Lynch's lawless indictments. They bashed "FIFA's choice of Vladimir Putin's increasingly aggressive and repressive Russia over" Western nations. And Qatar over America, Australia and a joint Japanese/South Korean bid.
They largely pronounced FIFA officials guilty by accusation - saying "many presumed (their involvement in) bribery…"
They want host nation awards to Russia and Qatar rescinded. Reopen the bidding they said. Imagine their outrage if outsiders demanded new choices to run WaPo.
Wall Street Journal editors called DOJ indictments the "least surprising (ones) ever."
They claimed they're OK because FIFA officials have occasional meetings in America.
US transnational corporate executives have meetings in many countries worldwide. It doesn't grant authorities in those nations the right to indict and arrest them unless crimes were committed in their territory.
America operates by its own rules. "Kudos to the Justice Department and new Attorney General Loretta Lynch," said Journal editors.
Would they applaud with equal vigor the arrests, indictments and detentions of Wall Street mega-crooks? Would they demand they be held fully responsible for decades of grand theft?
Would they insist banks too big to fail be broken up - or better still closed down entirely? Would they call for putting an end to Wall Street fleecing America? 
Would they demand capital's divine right no longer be tolerated? Would they endorse people empowerment over profits?
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. 

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