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Turkey Mobilized to Invade Syria?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 02:44
Turkey Mobilized to Invade Syria?
by Stephen Lendman
Syrians have suffered horrendously since Obama launched proxy war in early 2011 to replace Bashar al-Assad with a US-controlled stooge, eliminate an Israeli rival and isolate Iran with plans to topple its government ahead - perhaps the same way as against Syria or maybe by joint US/Israeli war.
Don't be fooled by ongoing nuclear talks no matter how they turn out. Washington and Israel want all regional independent governments ousted. Endless wars explain their imperial agendas.
On Monday, Press TV reported possible Turkish intervention in Syria. Thousands of troops and heavy armaments are mobilized along its border ready to invade if ordered.
The pretext is fighting ISIS. Ankara is one of its main supporters. The objective is establishing a so-called security zone (about 100 km long and up to 15 km wide), crushing Kurdish fighters to prevent their leaders from forming an independent state, and perhaps acting as a US proxy force against Assad.
Al-Monitor reported an unnamed source saying preparations for military operations will be ready "by the second week in July…despite all the challenges."
If invasion doesn't follow, "cautious" Turkish generals will have prevailed over aggressive ones and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risking Turkey "getting caught in (the) Syrian quagmire."
Today's Zaman reported prominent Turkish academics, activists and journalists voicing concerns over possible Syrian intervention.
Activist writer Tatyos Bebek expressed deep concern on behalf of nearly 200 noted individuals, saying:
"...Erdogan's personal political interests could plunge Turkey into regional or international conflict, and we are deeply concerned over the president's moves in that regard. We need to immediately remove military intervention from the political agenda."
"Disguised as dealing with ISIL, the plan for military intervention will in reality, if it happens, probably target the cantonal system founded by (the Syrian) Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava." 
"This kind of military operation will reverse the gains of past two years during the peace process and the state will once again have declared a war against the Kurdish people," as well as intervening directly against Syria.
Turkey's June 7 general election showed its people want peace, not war. Erdogan's governments isn't known for being populist.
Hurriyet Daily News reported unnamed Turkish military sources saying reports of border mobilization for invading Syria "do not reflect reality."
Last week, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "no immediate plans" exist. Then why are top-level military commanders discussing the possibility? Why a belligerent show of force along the Turkish/Syrian border?
Al-Monitor compared a possible invasion to Israel earlier controlling southern Lebanon to the Litani River after its 1982 war without UN authorization - lawless aggression, the supreme crime against peace. It ended badly in 2000 forcing withdrawal.
An unnamed Turkish security source told Al-Monitor incursion "requires clear operational orders, a clear strategic goal, clear rules of engagement, clear definitions of friend and foe and a well-drawn-out calendar." 
"At the moment all these are very unclear, even obscure. Under such uncertainty, how can you issue operational and tactical orders to your units?"
Erdogan apparently favors intervention - perhaps in collaboration with Obama's anti-Syrian bombing and ground war using ISIS and other takfiri terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers.
Whether Turkey's military shows restraint remains to be seen. Reports suggest its general staff is wary of involvement because of significant challenges and international ramifications. From what Al-Monitor reports, things could go either way. Key is what Washington has in mind.
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. 

Caving to Government Pressure, Visa and MasterCard Shut Down Payments to Backpage.com

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 02:31

Visa and MasterCard confirmed that they have cut off payment services for Backpage.com, an online platform for people to advertise goods and services. This was in response to public pressure from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who wrote to executives at both of the payment processors urging them to cut off transactions to Backpage’s adult services. The two companies responded by quickly shutting down payments for the entire site. 

Backpage hasn’t violated the law, and so Sheriff Dart can’t use the law to take down the website. Instead he’s using a tactic we’ve seen before, getting major financial services companies to put a chokehold on controversial online content producers like WikiLeaks and independent book publisher Smashwords.

We don’t need Visa and MasterCard to play nanny for online speech. Payment processors and banks shouldn’t be in the position of deciding what type of online content is criminal or enforcing morality for the rest of society. For one thing, their businesses haven’t been designed to analyze the legal and societal issues at play in various forms of online expression. Second, these businesses will almost always err on the side of shutting down controversial speech—thereby eliminating a nuisance or public affairs problem—rather than taking a principled stance in support of unpopular speech.

That’s why courts, not companies, should determine what type of speech is legal on the Internet.

Backpage.com can be used to sell an old refrigerator, find a new apartment, post about new community workshops, find a job, and offer many other services and goods. It also hosts an “adult” section of the site, where some people advertise escort services or try to connect with people who have similar sexual interests. This “adult” section requires visitors to confirm they are at least 18 years of age and allows users to get resources for reporting cases of suspected sexual exploitation with one click. 

Dart asserts that he’s concerned about people abusing Backpage.com for nefarious purposes such as human trafficking, even though the site isn’t designed with that in mind. And he’s not the only one: politicians and law enforcement agents have been pressuring Backpage.com for years to shut down the adult section of the site

Let’s stop for a moment and acknowledge one area where we agree wholeheartedly with Dart: human trafficking is atrocious. We strongly condemn the violation of human rights that occurs whenever a human being is sexually exploited or forced into physical labor against his or her will. Human trafficking is a massive human rights issue that deserves focused, dedicated attention from lawmakers, law enforcement, and the public. It’s also a heinous crime that merits severe punishment for those who perpetrate it. 

Backpage, however, is not engaged in human trafficking. It shouldn’t be treated as if it were. 

The law is on Backpage’s side. To date, attempts to pass laws that would hold a website accountable for the content posted by users have been defeated, such as a Washington state law EFF successfully fought in 2012.  Backpage is also protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which ensures that websites that host content—like WordPress, Facebook, and others—aren’t liable for the content of the messages that their users post. And that’s a good thing. This law has been a cornerstone for free speech online, ensuring that Web hosts don’t have to police their users and can focus on providing a great experience–even if their users’ views are controversial or unpopular.  As we’ve argued before, CDA 230 protects Backpage from liability for user-generated advertisements.

One could imagine a world where we had many payment providers, each operating independently, to ensure that even if one major payment service caved to governmental pressure there would be many others to offer services to less popular sites. But that’s not the case. Instead, the overwhelming majority of online payment services are connected to MasterCard and Visa. So when they both shut down a website’s services, the business must either acquiesce to their demands or risk going out of business.

We appreciate that Visa and MasterCard may be facing serious pressure from law enforcement, both in this case and in others. But we’d urge the two financial giants to strive for neutrality in offering payment services and resist government requests.  And that starts by reinstating Backpage’s services.

As for Sherriff Dart, we wish he’d turn to the real problems of human trafficking and exploitation. Rather than attack neutral websites and payment providers, law enforcement should focus its investigations and enforcement efforts on actual criminal suspects.

Related Issues: Free SpeechSection 230 of the Communications Decency ActRelated Cases: Internet Archive v. McKenna
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Categories: Aggregated News

Tuesday Court Hearing Over Absurd Copyright Claim in Family Home Movie

eff.org - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 00:15
‘Dancing Baby’ Case Fights DMCA Takedown Abuse

San Francisco - On Tuesday, July 7, at 9 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge an appeals court in San Francisco to confirm that Internet users—from Ms. Lenz to remix artists to scholars to documentary filmmakers—have real protection against baseless content takedowns.

Lenz v. Universal is often called the “dancing baby” case. It started in 2007, when Stephanie Lenz posted a 29-second video to YouTube of her children dancing in her kitchen, with the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy” playing on a stereo in the background. Universal Music Group sent YouTube a notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), claiming that the family video infringed the copyright in Prince’s song. EFF sued Universal on Lenz’s behalf, arguing that Universal abused the DMCA by improperly targeting a lawful fair use. In the hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on Tuesday, EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry will tell the court that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice, or face legal liability.

Lenz’s video is back on YouTube as this long-running court battle continues, but the issues at stake are very timely. Earlier this month, a British newspaper tried to use a DMCA notice to take down criticism of a story it had published. Additionally, heated political campaigns—like the upcoming presidential primaries—have historically led to a rash of DMCA takedown abuse, as criticism of politicians often include short clips of campaign appearances in order to make their argument to viewers.

Keker & Van Nest LLP serves as co-counsel on the case.

WHAT:
Lenz v. Universal

WHEN:
Tuesday, July 7
9 am

WHERE:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse
Courtroom 3, 3rd Floor Room 307
95 7th Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

For the “dancing baby” video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KfJHFWlhQ

For more on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/lenz-v-universal

Contact:  Rebecca JeschkeMedia Relations Director and Digital Rights Analystrebecca@eff.org
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Categories: Aggregated News

"No" Supporters Win in Greece: Now What?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/07/2015 - 18:55
"No" Supporters Win in Greece: Now What?
by Stephen Lendman
Sunday evening in Greece should have been time for celebrations. "No" votes won decisively with over a 61% majority.
Phony corporate media polls showed the "yes" camp prevailing - to discourage "no" supporters from voting as well as swing undecided ones to accept Troika demands.
At the same time, heavy-handed Troika and corporate media tactics bombarded Greeks with relentless fear-mongering, Big Lies and threats for voting "no." 
It didn't work. In this respect, Sunday's vote was a huge triumph. Ordinary people had some say over their futures - a moment of democracy in an ocean of monied-controlled tyranny. Hold the cheers.
Greeks got the wrong choices -  either to accept most Troika austerity demands or all of them instead of up or down on accepting or rejecting them entirely.
Alexis Tsipras was elected on a mandate of ending austerity. He called it "unacceptable." Yet he largely surrendered to Troika demands and may entirely ahead (despite voters saying "no") in return for more impossible to repay odious debt - blood money slowly destroying Greece's economy along with euro entrapment overriding its sovereignty - hardly a cause for celebration.
What's ahead remains to be seen. For sure, punishing austerity will continue. Likely more will be added. Troika officials already are talking tough. Ignore what they say. Follow what they do.
The ECB governing council will meet Monday to decide if more support for Greek banks will be extended. France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said "(i)f the No wins, it would be a historic mistake to crush the Greek people."
Former ECB president Jean-Claude Tricket called "(t)he probability of a catastrophe for the Greek people…high."
Germany's Angela Merkel heads to Paris Monday to discuss Sunday's results with France's Francois Hollande. Troika officials scotched prospects for emergency talks on Greece. One official said they "would not know what to discuss."
At the same time, Reuters reported the European Commission and EU executive meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday - then briefing European Parliament members on what they discussed.
German Social Democrat (SPD) party deputy parliament head Axel Schaefer said "EU leaders must get together immediately, even on Monday. The situation is too serious to leave to finance ministers."
"You have to have confidence in the ability of the ECB to act. We must use all the possibilities in the EU budget to help Greece, which is still a member of the euro and the EU."
European Parliament president Martin Schulz was defiant saying a "no" vote means Greece "will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment."
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt indicated the door remains open for further talks.
Eurogroup president/Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece jeopardized its currency union standing. There is no room for further talks.
German Vice Chancellor/Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said little chance remains for reaching compromise with Athens.
At the moment, things are in unchartered waters. Greece can't borrow in capital markets. Remaining trapped in the euro straightjacket prevents it from controlling its monetary and fiscal policies.
The obvious solutions aren't taken, no matter the intermediate term pain unavoidable on a path back to economic health. Euro strangulation is slowly killing Greece. It's destroying other weak European economies.
Nations can't operate effectively without full sovereign control over their affairs - notably monetary and fiscal policies. Euro membership denies it - letting Troika bandits run Greece's economy instead of its elected government.
The clear solution for Greece is renouncing its odious debt, exiting the Eurozone, turning East for help, and accepting Russia's invitation to become the sixth BRICS member with access to its New Development Bank (NBD) for financial help on equitable, not loan shark terms. Direct Russian and Chinese help is available on the same basis.
Instead, Tsipras said he's ready to resume negotiations with predatory creditors bent on looting Greece entirely.
"Our immediate priority is to restore our banking system's functioning & economic stability," he twittered."
Chief Greek negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos said referendum results make it easier to reach an agreement with creditors. Not at all. Troika bandits don't negotiate. They demand. 
Yielding to one country means others to follow, weakening the euro system en route to ending it entirely at some point.
The Eurozone and EU are failed systems - exploitive so monied interests can benefit at the expense of ordinary people in return for benefits too inconsequential to matter.
Sunday's vote was important in one respect. It was a victory for resistance over powerful monied interests ruling the world destructively for their own anti-populist interests.
It's meaningless unless followed through with sustained refusal to accept continued predatory exploitation until it's eliminated altogether or weakened enough to end its one-sided dominant control.
Tsipras made it clear he intends reaching an agreement for more bailout help in return for greater austerity than already. Sunday's victory sadly looks pyrrhic. The wild card is how Greeks will react in response.
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. 

Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/07/2015 - 18:28
Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt
by Stephen Lendman
All police states operate the same way. America is no different - nor Israel.
Civil law applies for Israeli Jews - not Palestinians. They're subject to military kangaroo court justice. Rubber-stamp convictions follow. Fundamental international rule of law principles don't apply.
A new B'Tselem report explains how Israel's system works for Palestinians - titled "Presumed Guilty: Remand in Custody by Military Courts in the West Bank." They're one of the main ways Israel enforces occupation harshness. 
Since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians were victimized by tribunal injustice. "Detention is injurious by definition," B'Tselem explained. 
"It cuts people off from their lives, families, and surroundings." They're totally at the mercy of prison officials and guards showing them little or none.
Palestinians suffer horrifically under gulag conditions. Thousands of Palestinians are brought before military tribunals annually on bogus charges or none at all - including demonstrating peacefully, belonging to the wrong political organization or alleged stone-throwing.
Automatic guilt is standard practice. Justice is systematically denied. Remand proceedings alone expose gross injustice.
B'Tselem calls it "detention for the duration of all legal proceedings in the case of a person whose questioning and investigation has been completed and who has been formally charged." 
"Individuals on remand are not serving a prison sentence. They have not been sentenced, (or) found guilty. They are being held in custody when they should be presumed innocent."
Former Israeli Chief Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar explained as follows, saying:
"The defendant's very detention raises a serious preliminary question. This is, after all, a person who has not yet been convicted." 
"He is presumed innocent, and our experience shows that the presumption of innocence is not just a matter of theory, but that it is often substantiated when a defendant is acquitted."
Except for traffic violations not subject to imprisonment, remand most often is standard practice. Innocence is no defense. Military prosecutors routinely request detention and get it from military judges. The entire system reflects militarized police state injustice.
In theory, judges require three conditions for remand:
  • prima facie evidence of guilt;

  • at least one legal basis as justification; and

  • no alternatives to detention in their judgment.

In practice, IDF judges operate any way they wish. "The threshold for (acceptable) prima facie evidence is so low that it poses no obstacle to the prosecution," said B'Tselem. 
Virtually anything is acceptable no matter how bogus - regardless of complaints about abusive interrogations amounting to torture. The civilized world rejects so-called confessions extracted this way. Israel relies on them to convict and imprison.
Presumptions replace so-called "grounds for detention." No evidence is required or claiming it's secret for security reasons is good enough. So is saying suspects pose a danger to society or represent a flight risk.
Even in occasional cases when judges permit release, bail is set much higher than most Palestinians can afford.
Because justice in Israeli military courts is virtually impossible, most defense lawyers seek plea bargains. If clients go to trial, they'll often spend more time in detention than sentences imposed.
Arrests nearly always automatically assure detention - charged or held uncharged and untried administratively, indefinitely if Israel wishes.
Unlike civil justice for Israelis, military courts enforce occupation harshness - the longest by far in modern times at nearly half a century with no sign of it ending.
"(M)ilitary judges and prosecutors are always Israeli," BTselem explained. "They are soldiers in uniform enforcing martial law on the civilian Palestinian population living under military rule." 
"The people who take part in administering the occupation are on one side, while the regime's subjects are on the other. Military courts are not an impartial, neutral arbitrator. They are firmly entrenched on one side of this unequal balance."
Due process, judicial fairness and other international norms and standards don't exist. Police states make their own rules. They bear no relation to fundamental rule of law principles.
Israeli military courts are a cesspool of injustice. Numerous examples explain. On Monday, a Jerusalem military judge sentenced 23-year-old Odai Mofeed Bayyoumi to 13 months imprisonment plus four more suspended for expressing his views on Facebook.
Israel charged him with "incitement" for comments judged anti-Israeli. In May, 28-year-old Sami jamal Faraj Ideis was convicted of anti-Jewish social media comments. He'll spend eight months in prison on the bogus charge of supporting "terror."
Numerous other Palestinians face similar charges. Police states operate this way. Justice is systematically denied.
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.