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MSM War on Venezuela

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 23:28
MSM War on Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
MSM scoundrels support monied interests. They deplore popular ones. 
They substitute managed news misinformation for truth and full disclosure.
They waged war on Venezuela since Hugo Chavez's December 1998 landslide presidential victory. They're at it again. More on this below.
After Chavez took office, New York Times Latin American correspondent Larry Roher lied. He called him a "populist demagogue, an authoritarian caudillo (strongman).
In April 2002, Times editors ignored Washington's orchestrated coup. It was short-lived. It lasted two days.
Times editors lied. They said Chavez "resigned." They claimed removing him "was a purely Venezuelan affair." 
They outrageously said "Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator."
"Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona."
Chavez established democracy. It's the hemisphere's best. He institutionalized it. He did so by national referendum. 
He let Venezuelans decide. He abolished despotism. He instituted Bolivarian social justice.
Carmona headed Fedecameras. It's Venezuela's Federation of Chambers of Commerce. 
It includes 12 trade groups: banking, agriculture, commerce, construction, energy, manufacturing, media, mining, ranching, insurance, transportation and tourism.
Washington plotted with Venezuelan oligarchs. Ousting Chavez was top priority. Bush officials hand-picked Carmona. They did so at the expense of ordinary Venezuelans.
Straightaway he proved his bona fides. He suspended democratically elected National Assembly legislators. He abolished Bolivarian constitutional reforms. 
He did so by diktat. He replaced democracy with despotism. New York Times editors approved.
His tenure was short-lived. People power intervened. So did Venezuela's military. They reinstated Chavez in two days. He remained president until Washington killed him. 
He was marked for death. Chavez knew it. He said so numerous times. He was infected with cancer-causing substances. They were too toxic to cure. 
Four operations in 18 months didn't help. Washington wanted him dead. He's gone. Chavismo lives.
Chavez consistently won reelections overwhelmingly. In December 2006, his landslide majority topped all US presidential victors since James Monroe ran virtually unopposed in 1820.
Bolivarianism benefits ordinary Venezuelans hugely. It does so in ways most Americans can't imagine. 
It's too precious to lose. So is sovereign independent freedom.
It reflects Simon Bolivar's vision. He defeated Spanish conquistadors. He liberated half of South America. He advocated using national wealth responsibly, fairly and equitably.
He strove to overcome what he called the imperial curse. He said it  "plagues Latin America with misery in the name of liberty." 
Chavez became his modern-day incarnation. Chavismo reflects Bolivarian principles. 
They're hardwired in place. Venezuelans won't tolerate returning to their ugly past. 
Constitutional law protects them. It benefits them hugely.
It guarantees free education to the highest levels, quality healthcare, subsidized food and housing, land reform, respect for indigenous rights, job training, micro credit, affordable electricity and cooking gas, gasoline at 6 cents a gallon, and other social, economic, and political benefits. 
Americans get permanent war on humanity, imperial lawlessness, police state harshness, force-fed austerity, social injustice, growing poverty, high unemployment and underemployment, unaddressed homelessness, hunger and deprivation, as well as governance beholden solely to monied interests.
The history of America's MSM is unprincipled, deplorable and longstanding. All the news they claim fit to print or broadcast isn't fit to read or view.
Big Lies substitute for what readers and viewers most need to know. Chavez replaced Castro as Washington's top hemispheric bete noire.
He did so for good reason. He represented the threat of a good example. So does current President Nicholas Maduro.
Venezuelan social democracy shames America's sham system. Bolivarianism works.
So does its political system. Elections are open, free and fair. Jimmy Carter calls them "the best in the world." 
America's are polar opposite. They're the Western world's worst.
They lack legitimacy. Democracy is pure fantasy. Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. 
Key outcomes are predetermined. Duopoly power runs things. Voters get same old, same old. They have no say whatever. 
They get the best democracy money can buy. They get government of, by and for privileged elites alone. 
It's hugely unfair. It's worse than ever now. MSM scoundrels support what demands condemnation. They march in lockstep with monied interests.
They wage war on Venezuelan fairness. Big Lies repeat with disturbing regularity.
Destabilizing Venezuela is longstanding US policy. Chavez forthrightly denounced it. So does President Maduro.
After his April 2013 election, he accused opposition candidate Henrique Capriles of coup plotting against him.
"Preparations are under way for an attempt to de-recognize democratic institutions," he said.
Dark forces never quit. At the time, Maduro accused US embassy officials of plotting "acts of violence."
He expelled two Obama military attaches. He accused another embassy employee of plotting sabotage against Venezuela’s electrical grid.
"I will use a hard hand against fascism and intolerance," he said. "I declare it. If they want to overthrow me, come and get me."
He asked Venezuelans to “(d)ecide who you are with…the country and peace and the people (or) fascism."
Destabilization continues. Obama wants regime change. MSM scoundrels support it.
Opposition fascist leader Leopoldo Lopez plotted against Maduro's government. He supported earlier in the year street violence. 
He barely stopped short of urging insurrection. He was complicit with crimes too egregious to ignore.
Venezuelan authorities charged him with murder, terrorism, conspiracy, incitement to crime, setting fire to a public building, damaging public property, public intimidation, and inflicting serious injuries.
Maduro compared him to 2002 coup plotters. "There you have the face of fascism," he said. "They should go behind bars," he added.
He's part of an "ultra-rightwing group." It seeks US-supported regime change. Maduro promised justice.
Lopez "is responsible for crimes," he said. "He has to pay, and he will pay."
"For us, what's important is to govern and to make sure that groups like these don't do any more damage to the country."
Lopez was arrested in February. He publicly encouraged anti-government street protests. He supported violence. Dozens of deaths followed.
In late July, his trial along with four co-conspirators began. Delay followed. Proceedings were postponed until September 22.
On September 11, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf lied. She accused Venezuelan authorities of "lack of due process or fair trial guarantees for persons detained in relation to protests in Venezuela."
She defended Lopez's lawlessness. She referred to "opaque justice procedures in place." She claimed detaining him and others was "arbitrary."
She blamed Venezuelan authorities for fascist-provoked street violence. She shamelessly accused them of "torture" and other human rights violations.
She demanded Venezuela "respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international law."
Fact check:
No nation abuses fundamental human and civil rights more than America.
It's a pariah state for good reason. It wages genocidal war on humanity. 
It's guilty of every imaginable high crime against peace and then some.
Rule of law principles don't matter. Torture is sanctioned. Peace and stability are verboten. Permanent war is longstanding. So is global state terror.
America operates the world's largest gulag. Thousands of political prisoners fill it. Global torture prisons supplement it.
Crime bosses make policy. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Monied interests control it. 
New World Order ruthlessness is official policy. Washington rules alone apply.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez responded to Harf's spurious accusations. He called them "unacceptable interference in (the nation's) internal affairs."
"Venezuela categorically rejects the interventionist statement…in which our democratic institutions and constitutional principles are ignored."
Lopez's lawyers falsely claim Venezuelan authorities intend to deny him judicial fairness. Not according to constitutional lawyer Jesus Silva, saying:
His legal team knows "the Constitution and (Venezuela's) criminal code…"
"(B)ut this is part of an (anti-Bolivarian) international agenda…" It erroneously portrays Lopez as "a political prisoner."
He's "using this case as a political platform." Venezuelan authorities denounced Harf's September 11 statement, saying:
It's "full of lies and inaccuracies that aim to distort the reality of our country before the international community."
Venezuelan governance is polar opposite Washington's. America "systematically violates the human rights of its people and other people around the world," said Ramirez.
“The most advanced human rights principles are enshrined in the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic and they form a fundamental component of the morals and ethics of our people."
On geopolitical issues mattering most, New York Times editors consistently support wrong over right. 
On September 20, they headlined "Venezuela's Crackdown on Opposition," saying:
Venezuelan authorities "responded to a wave of street protests by jailing opposition leaders, deploying the army against unarmed protesters and tightening control of the media." 
"The deplorable tactics have largely driven an inspiring opposition movement underground, depriving Venezuelans of the right to challenge a leader who has put a once-prosperous nation on a perilous track."
"The imprisonment and trial of an opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, show how far President Nicolas Maduro is willing to go to stave off legitimate grievances in a country he and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, mismanaged."
Fact check:
Washington orchestrated violent street protests. It funded them. 
It's dirty hands bore full responsibility. Venezuelan fascists shared it. Their lawlessness caused dozens of deaths.
Venezuela is the hemisphere's most open society. Media freedom is cherished. So is free expression. America pales by comparison.
Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television (LSR) guarantees freedom of expression without censorship.
It mandates respect for human rights. It encourages domestic independent productions.
It balances popular duties, rights and interests with those radio and television providers as well as related parties deserve.
It disseminates cultural values. It promotes active citizen participation in national affairs.
It's polar opposite US values. Venezuela shames its northern neighbor.
Its jurisprudence assures due process and judicial fairness for Lopez and others charged with him. It does so in all trials.
Times editors claimed otherwise. They lied calling his trial "a travesty." They called his indictment "bizarre."
They shamelessly called violent street protests he helped lead "peaceful."
Venezuelan democracy under Chavez and Maduro is the hemisphere's best. 
Times editors lied. They said Chavez governed "despotic(ally)." They called Maduro "an even more dangerous and divisive leader."
He "throttled a once-free press," they claimed. They called his "abuses…dangerous for the region and certainly warrant strong criticism from Latin American leaders."
They want Venezuela denied its rightfully deserved two-year Security Council seat next year.
They urged "Latin American countries (to) lead an effort to prevent Caracas from representing the region when it is fast becoming an embarrassment on the continent."
Times editors, correspondents and contributors consistently turn truth on its head. So do other MSM scoundrels.
John Pilger once said:
"Never has a country, its people, its politics, its leader, its myths and truths been so misreported and lied about as Venezuela in the past decade."
Lopez was complicit in high crimes. He barely stopped short of urging insurrection. 
In America, he'd face sedition or treason charges. Longterm incarceration or capital punishment could follow.
Fascists operate extrajudicially. Washington supports their worst crimes. Tyranny defines US governance. It's perilously close to full-blown.
Replacing sovereign Venezuelan democracy with pro-Western stooge governance remains official US policy.
Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or Washington Post ones. They want Venezuela denied its rightful Security Council seat next year. 
They called Maduro an "economically illiterate former bus driver." He's a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly speaker, and foreign minister. He's now Venezuela's president.
Chavez called him Venezuela's most capable leader to succeed him.
WaPo editors wrongfully blamed him for opposition fascist street violence. For dozens of deaths that followed. 
For practically urging insurrection. They want "more visible action." They want sanctions. They want regime change. 
They want US intervention to achieve it. They want ruthless money-controlled governance Americans get replacing it.
They want what Venezuelans deplore. What they won't tolerate. Bolivarian fairness is too precious to lose. 
Chavez went all-out to preserve it. Maduro continues his commitment.
America is polar opposite. Class war rages. Wealth is redistributed up. Monied interests benefit at the expense of most others. 
Social justice is a figure of speech. It's eroding in plain sight. It's on the chopping block for elimination altogether.
America isn't fit to live in. Bipartisan complicity plans much worse ahead. 
Venezuelans have officials who care. Don't expect MSM scoundrels to explain. They're on the wrong side of history. 
They support privilege over social justice. They back perpetual war for unachievable peace. 
They ignore rule of law principles. They spurn democratic values. They support wrong over right.
They believe might makes right. They substitute Big Lies for truths too important to suppress.
They betray their readers and viewers in the process. It bears repeating. Don't expect them to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Statement on the Use of Finfisher by Members of the Freedom Online Coalition

eff.org - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 19:57

Documents recently released by WikiLeaks have brought new evidence to the public eye that the intrusive surveillance spyware FinFisher may be in use by several members of the Freedom Online Coalition, including Mongolia, Netherlands, and Estonia.1

If this evidence is correct, it should rightly raise serious concerns around the world. FinFisher is notorious malware—software that allows those who use it to place programs, often called Trojans, remotely onto computers and devices operated by others, usually without the target's knowledge much less consent.  

Once downloaded onto a target’s computer, FinSpy allows the operator of the Trojan to spy on the target's activities.  The operator can read a target’s email correspondence, search and take possession of documents on the target’s computer, monitor web surfing and chat conversations. It even allows the operator to remotely switch on the microphone of the computer and the webcam in order to extend surveillance beyond the computer to what is happening around it.

These intrusive tools have in the past been used by Bahraini and Ethiopian governments to spy on human rights activists. Unchecked by strong legal and technical safeguards protecting against unnecessary or disproportionate surveillance, the use of such software can undermine the integrity and security of computer and networking equipment and harm 'an internet free and secure'.2

Finfisher spyware is at the center of EFF's case against the Ethiopian government, for use against an American citizen in his home in Maryland.3

During the Freedom Online Coalition meeting in Tunisia, June 2013, a number of civil society organizations made a statement,4 reiterating the importance of the Necessary and Proportionate Principles and asking the governments to engage in a meaningful dialogue with civil society about these principles, the concept of privacy by design, and the international human rights framework which should also be applied to the technical architecture of communications and surveillance systems, ensuring that technological and policy protections are developed in parallel.  

The Principles require a careful and public technical, legal and policy framework around digital surveillance tools such as those sold by Finfisher, one that can only be developed through such a dialogue. We would like to make use of this opportunity to repeat the request for a response and meaningful dialogue, which is of crucial importance for the Freedom Online Coalition and its engagement with stakeholders.





  • 1. https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles4/customers.html
  • 2. https://www.freedomonlinecoalition.com/how-we-work/working-groups/working-group-1/
  • 3. https://www.eff.org/cases/kidane-v-ethiopia
  • 4. http://nawaat.org/portail/2013/06/19/freedom-online-coalition-a-call-to-governments-from-civil-society/
Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human Rights
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Hate-Mongering in America

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 06:38
Hate-Mongering in America
by Stephen Lendman
Systemic injustice is rife. It's longstanding. Constitutional rights don't matter. America's First Amendment clearly states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Privileged Americans alone have rights. America's least advantaged have few or none.
America's racist drug laws disproportionately harm Blacks, Latinos and ethnic minorities. So do longstanding attitudes about people of color.
Western discourse unfairly portrays Muslim/Arabs stereotypically as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent.
In his book, "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People," Jack Shaheen explained how they've been defamed for generations.
They've been vilified throughout decades of cinematic history. From silent films to recent ones.
Prejudicial attitudes are fostered. Notions of Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority are reinforced.
Slanderous media commentaries portray gun-toting terrorists. It's the wrong time to be Muslims in America.
They're victimized, vilified, and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. 
Their rights are systematically denied. They're denigrated for praying to the wrong God. They're guilty by accusation.
They're dehumanized, spied on, targeted, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, imprisoned for false reasons, and treated harshly as political prisoners.
America's MSM turn a blind eye. They ignore gross injustice. They regurgitate spurious accusations. 
Innocence becomes guilt. Muslims are targets of choice. Hate-mongering is longstanding practice.
Muslims are war on terror scapegoats. Dirty war targets them unjustly. Waging war requires enemies. They're created when none exist.
The Runnymede Trust calls itself Britain's "leading independent race equality think tank." It says Islamophobia is "a challenge for us all."
Muslims are stereotypically mistreated. Dominant perceptions are damaging. They ignore vast complexities and differences in Muslim identities.
They mischaracterize Muslims disgracefully. They turn truth on its head. They do it for political reasons. They ignore reality. They cause enormous harm.
Islam is falsely characterized as:
  • monolithic, static, and unresponsive to change;

  • having differing values from other cultures and religions;

  • being inferior to Western societies;

  • barbaric, irrational, primitive, sexist, violent, aggressive, threatening, terror-prone, and ideologically different Western civilization;

  • seeking political or military advantage;

  • irrationally criticizing Western values;

  • warranting discriminatory practices permitting exclusion from mainstream society; and

  • believing anti-Muslim hostility is natural and normal.

Bernard Lewis is a notorious Islamophobe. So was the late Samuel Huntington. They promoted clash of civilization notions.
Huntington claimed Islamic fundamentalism isn't Western societies' underlying problem. It's Islam.
It's "a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power," he claimed.
The late Edward Said criticized both men. He called their thinking "belligerent."
He cited Huntington's 1993 "The Clash of Civilizations" and Lewis' 1990 "The Roots of Muslim Rage."
He said both men treat Islam(ic) identity and culture in "cartoon-like" fashion. It's similar to how "Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly."
The more "virtuous" one prevails. Huntington, Lewis and likeminded ideologues rely on stereotypes and gimmickry. They ignore reason. They shun reality.
Huntington claimed "Western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state, often have little resonance in Islamic societies." 
So-called Western values are polar opposite what Huntington claimed. Likeminded hate-mongers call Islam a religion of war, not peace.
In February 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft said it's "a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him." 
"Christianity is a faith in which God sent his son to die for you."
Edward Said contrasted a West/East dichotomy. He wrote about colonizers v. the colonized, "the familiar (Europe, West, us) and the strange (the Orient, East, them)."
The strong against the weak. The superior against the lesser. The belief that might makes right, no matter how misguided, destructive or hateful.
Islam mischaracterizations are rife. It's diverse, not monolithic.
It's not inherently violent or intolerant. The term jihad is wrongfully used to connote holy war. 
It refers to internally struggling to overcome personal weaknesses, as well as striving for self-preservation and defense.
Common notions turn truth on its head. Western societies spread democratic values, it's claimed. Islam spawns terrorism.
Western societies must modernize, restrain and tame it. America's choice is mass slaughter, destruction, colonization, exploitation and dominance.
Netanyahu lies saying "Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas."
"They simply work in the same way," he claims. "They are branches of the same poisonous tree."
Israeli hardliners want Hamas destroyed. Vilifying its adherents is longstanding practice. 
On September 20, RT International headlined "Hamas = ISIS? Anti-Islamic ad campaign to run on NYC buses," saying:
"A provocative ad campaign featuring anti-Islamic messages is to run on one hundred New York City buses and two subway stations beginning next week." 
"Costing $100,000, it equates Hamas with Islamic State militants for 'education purposes.' "
It's stereotypical hate-mongering. It's fear-mongering. It's waging war on Islam.
Big Lies substitute for truth. "Hamas is ISIS," it says. "Islamic Jew Hatred: It's in the Quran."
It's not in the Koran. It contains positive references about Children of Israel and Jewish history. Systemic Islamic Jew-hatred is nonexistent.
Many Jewish prophets are mentioned more often than the Prophet Muhammad. Writing about the Torah, the Koran says:
"It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong)." (3:3)
"It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light…And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear God." (5:44,46)
Writing about Jewish prophets, it says:
"Say ye: “We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them, and to Him have we submitted ourselves." (2:136)
"Behold, we have inspired thee (O Prophet) just as we inspired Noah and all the prophets after him - as We inspired Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, including Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon; and as We vouchsafed unto David a book of divine wisdom." (4:163)
"And We bestowed upon (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob, and We guided each of them as We had guided Noah aforetime." 
"And out of his offspring, (we bestowed prophethood upon) David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron: for thus do We reward the doers of good." 
"And upon Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elijah: ever one of them was of the righteous; and (upon) Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot: every one of them did We favor above other people." (6: 84-86).
"Hamas is CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations)," say the ads. Islamophobes call the organization a cancer in US society. Its ideology is polar opposite these type mischaracterizations.
It seeks to "enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."
One ad is titled "Yesterday's Moderate is Today's Headline." It features a photo of London-based Muslim Abdel-Majed (aka Abdel Bary) with the caption "Executioner who beheaded a reporter before he became a jihadist."
An image of journalist James Foley in an orange jumpsuit appears alongside a hooded man before his execution.
It's captioned "Executioner who beheaded a reporter after being devout." British intelligence claims Abdel-Majed is the executioner.
Language along the ad's bottom says "It's not Islamophobia. It's Islamorealism."
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) claimed First Amendment law requires these type ads be run.
Pamela Geller's Stop Islamization of America ran them. SIOA is known as the American Freedom Initiative or Freedom Defense Initiative.
It's an Islamophobic hate-mongering organization.
Geller lied calling it "a human rights entity dedicated to the freedom of speech, which is under attack, as well as to the freedom of religion and to individual rights."
New York's MTA initiated a new policy. Ads continue. A disclaimer says they don't reflect transit authority opinions.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tried having things both ways. On the one hand, he called Islamophobic ads "outrageous, inflammatory and wrong, and have no place in New York City or anywhere."
On the other, he's done nothing to counter them through public service announcements, other responsible messages or city policy.
Hate-mongering continues unabated. Proliferating it benefits America's war on Islam. It rages out-of-control. It shows no signs of ending. 
It reflects Washington's permanent war policy. Its genocidal war on humanity. 
Its merciless slaughter of millions for unchallenged dominance. It's longstanding. It shows no signs of ending. 
Wars ravage one country after another. Humanity is ruthlessly targeted.
Battlefields shift from one theater to another. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor democratic values. Nor human and civil rights.
Might justifies right. 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. 

Firestorm Over Steven Salaita's Sacking

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 02:39
Firestorm Over Steven Salaita's Sacking
by Stephen Lendman
Criticizing Israel publicly entails huge risks. Becoming persona non grata in politics, the media, business and academia may follow. It's a career ender for most who try.
At most, short-term protests follow. They're usually or entirely local. Salaita's University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign (ULUC) sacking elevated public anger to a new level.
Thousands of scholars, students, colleagues, friends, Israeli critics and others rallied to his defense. They're steadfast. They continue. 
They want Salaita reinstated. They want him given full pay and benefits. They want damages paid for all he endured. He deserves it and much more.
Salaita broke weeks of silence. On September 9, he went public for the first time. 
He defended his noteworthy academic/scholarly bona fides. He did so eloquently and effectively. He criticized UIUC's academic lynching.
He explained his passion for equality, fairness and justice. He expressed gratitude for around 18,000 supporters. They signed a petition demanding his reinstatement.
He called the firestorm over his viewpoints on Palestinian human rights and academic freedom "a teaching moment."
He urged his supporters "to make the most of it."
Major/influential donor complaints got him sacked. The Los Angeles Times discussed how big monied interests control academia.
Especially at state universities and prominent private ones. Salaita's firing wasn't the first time they "manipulate(d) university administrations into doing their bidding," said the Times."
It won't be the last. (I)t's certainly one of the most disturbing examples of a bad trend."
"For any university, but especially a public institution such as Illinois, the encroachment of donor pressure on the administration is a harbinger of the destruction of academic freedom." 
"Wealthy donors are able to step in and exert strong influence because public funding sources, such as the state legislature, have systematically withdrawn support for public universities."
They "seldom have an interest in independent, objective academic study; they're interested in advancing their own notions of how the world works or should work - in ideology, not ideas." 
Incidents like Salaita's sacking happen when "questions of academic principle get reduced to dollars and cents - the university comes to believe it can trample (on) any principle, as long as there's money to make it go away," said the Times.
Israeli Lobby power works the same way and then some. It's influence is broad and deep. It's tactics include pressure, bullying and threats. 
It's relentless. It's ruthless. It demands unconditional support for Israel. It does so at the expense of right over wrong.
It's a cancer infecting America. It influences Western policy. It's a blight on humanity. 
It operates destructively. It promotes war. It deplores peace. It ignores popular interests. AIPAC is its best known entity.
The late Edward Said once called it "the most powerful and feared lobby in Washington."
In a matter of hours, it can mobilize virtually unanimous Senate support for Israel. And at least most of the House. 
US politicians deferentially bow to its will. They do so disgracefully. They betray their constituents in the process. Their personal beliefs don't matter.
Last week, UIUC trustees upheld Salaita's firing. They voted 8 - 1 against him. James Montgomery alone supported him.
Other board members backed Chancellor Phyllis Wise's so-called "philosophy of academic freedom and free speech tempered in respect for human rights."
So-called "tempered" rights denies them. Wise and UIUC trustees gave chutzpah new meaning. They raised it to a new level.
They support what demands denunciation. They oppose what deserves high honor and praise.
In an open letter, the board of trustees disgracefully equated Salaita's forthright criticism with "disrespectful and demeaning speech."
They called it "malice." It's "not an acceptable form of argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education," they said.
"If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made great sacrifices to defend."
"There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university."
Democracies assure academic and speech freedoms. They defend them at all costs. Without them all other rights are threatened.
Voltaire once said he might "disapprove of what you say, but (he'd) defend to the death your right to say it."
Western universities are hotbeds of conformism. Howard Zinn once said they teach students to be good citizens. They sacrifice important truths in the process.
America right or wrong is policy. It works the same way from pre-school through doctoral studies. UIUC is the latest example.
It's been a battleground for weeks. It's ground zero in the struggle for academic freedom.
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents Salaita. Its senior attorney Maria Lahood was clear and unequivocal saying:
What's clearly "uncivil is the killing of more than 500 children Professor Salaita reacted to."
It's "terminating a tenured professor because he dared to speak out publicly and passionately about Israel's actions." 
It's lawlessness. Its ruthlessness. Its democracy in name only. Its contempt for Palestinian rights. 
What's uncivil "is yielding to donor pressure in making faculty decisions," said LaHood.
"(T)he most uncivil action in this whole episode has been the university's resistance and refusal to right the wrong (it committed) and reinstate Professor Salaita."
He was victimized for truth-telling. He was academically lynched. 
Chancellor Wise, UIUC's trustees, big monied donors, and Israeli Lobby power falsely equate "legitimate challenges to Israeli government actions with anti-Semitism," said Lahood.
"On campuses across the country, over the last year and half alone, there have been approximately 200 incidents (where) students and faculty (as well as) activists have been intimidated, maligned, investigated, and even prosecuted for speaking out in support of Palestinian human rights."
It's longstanding practice. It violates rule of law principles, standards and norms. It shows Israeli Lobby power works.
It reveals how Israel influences US policy. It works the same way from congressional halls to the media, to academia to grassroots groups and members.
Salaita's sacking opened a new debate on Israel/Palestine. Various faculty groups formed "camps." They faced off for or against Salaita.
Various organizations, their members, and academics intend refusing invitations to lecture on campus.
They condemned last week's board of trustees vote. The American Association of University Professors said:
(A)borting Salaita's appointment "without having demonstrated cause has consistently been seen by the AAUP as tantamount to summary dismissal, an action categorically inimical to academic freedom and due process."
Modern Language Association council members called on UIUC trustees to "redress (an) unjustified situation."
The Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) expressed outrage over his firing.
It called doing so "a blatant violation of (his) academic freedom and an insidious assault upon him and those who uphold the right of honest and ethical critique in the academy."
It demanded his reinstatement. UIUC's American Studies Program faculty voted no confidence in Chancellor Wise. So did 10 other UIUC departments.
Her action trashed First Amendment rights and academic freedom, they said.
Hundreds of UIUC students protested on behalf of Salaita. Scores boycotted classes.
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Department of Asian American Studies, Art History, and Gender and Women's Studies released statements condemning Saliati's firing.
On September 11, hundreds gathered on UIUC's campus supporting him. 
They included Campus Faculty Association members, others from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), University of Illinois Chicago faculty, as well as various other groups.
The American Studies Association (ASA) is the nation's oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history.
In 1951, it was chartered. It has 5,000 members. It's affiliated with 2,200 libraries and other institutional subscribers.
Members include academics, researchers, librarians, and public officials and administrators. They represent many academic disciplines. 
They include history, literature, religion, art, architecture, philosophy, music, science, ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, education, and gender studies among others.
Last December, they voted more than two to one for academically boycotting Israel.
They called doing so "an ethical stance, a form of material and symbolic action."
They justified doing so for the following reasons:
US military and other support for Israel.
Israel's violations of international laws and resolutions.
Longstanding occupation harshness.
"The extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights."
Strong ASA member support.
Their vote is symbolic. It's binding "until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law," said ASA. It bars official collaboration with Israeli institutions. 
It doesn't apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in "ordinary forms of academic exchange, including conference presentations, public lectures at campuses, or collaboration on research and publication."
ASA issued a statement on behalf of Salaita. It called his sacking "a de facto assault against the Program in American Indian Studies at UIUC.
It sets a "dangerous precedent." Its statement in part said:
ASA "protests the decision of University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise to rescind the offer of a tenured faculty position in American Indian Studies to highly regarded ASA member Professor Steven Salaita."
"This last minute top down decision with no faculty consultation and no reason provided violates the tenets of faculty governance." 
"Alarmingly, these actions constitute as well a de facto assault against the Program in American Indian Studies at UIUC despite its carefully earned status as one of the leading intellectual programs nationally in its field."
"This decision if not overturned is sure to erode the confidence of scholars and students of American Indian and Indigenous Studies that UIUC is an open and welcoming institution that values equally their social, cultural and intellectual contributions."
Salait's "offer was rescinded based on (his) twitter feed and opposition to the Israeli invasion of Gaza…"
"(T)he university’s actions constitute a clear violation of the principles of academic freedom, contravene the University’s self-proclaimed valuing of diversity, and suggest an intolerable anti-Arab bias.
"We call upon you to restore faculty governance, to respect the Department of American Indian Studies and the faculty peer review process in evaluating faculty for tenured positions, and to begin to rebuild the UIUC’s reputation as an institution of academic excellence by restoring Professor Steven Salaita as a tenured associate professor of American Indian Studies at UIUC."
In early September, Ohio University Student Senate president Megan Marzec endured death threats and other vicious harassment for supporting Palestinian rights.
Yale University chaplain Father Bruce Shipman was pressured to resign because of his brief NYT letter to the editor.
He discussed "the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank."
He urged "Israel's patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question."
Chicago area Rabbi Brant Rosen resigned on his own initiative. He did so because he "gradually became a Palestine solidarity activist rather than liberal Zionist."
Yale chaplain/longtime peace activist William Sloane Coffin Jr. (1924 - 2006) engaged in anti-Vietnam war civil disobedience protests. He encouraged young men to burn their draft cards.
He founded the Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam. He led resistance against Lyndon Johnson's escalation.
He challenged segregation. He organized freedom rides. He led The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy.
He used pulpit power as a platform for likeminded activists. In October 1967, he signed an open letter titled "A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority."
Yale established the '56 Award for Peace and Justice in his name. It called him one of the 20th century's most significant religious leaders. 
He supported right over wrong. He refused to be silenced. On April 1, 1982, he co-signed a letter supporting Arab/Israeli citizen Elias Ayoub.
He faced deportation for supporting human rights. He was active in the Palestine Human Rights Campaign. 
He was wrongfully called "subversive." He lost his student status. He did so despite maintaining an excellent academic record.
Coffin "shudder(ed) to contemplate the implications of such arbitrary deportation given the present political leadership of our country and specifically of Israel."
Salaita supporters demand he be reinstated. UIUC officials remain hardline. 
Principle, honor and justice don't matter. They're sacrificed on the alter of supporting Israel right or wrong.
Doing so makes universities like UIUC complicit in its crimes. They're longstanding. They're horrific. They're too egregious to ignore.
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. 

Scotland's Referendum: Fair or Foul?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 23:01
Scotland's Referendum: Fair or Foul?
by Stephen Lendman
Critics claim fraud at the polls. Suspicions are rife. More on this below.
Rigged elections aren't new. In America, they go back to the beginning of the republic. 
Seventeenth century US politicians believed vote rigging was a necessary evil. They assumed opposition parties played dirty. Their strategy was fight fire with fire.
New York's Tammany Hall machine was notorious. It controlled Democrat party nominations for over a century. 
It bought off politicians, judges and ward captains. Vote suppression was standard practice.
Chicago machine politics works the same way. Under Richard J. Daley, it was notorious. He was an American pharaoh. He ran city government like a monarch.
He wielded near-imperial power. When he died on December 26, 1976, Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote:
"If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard J. Daley." He was "strong (and) hard-driving." He had "Texas-sized ambitions." 
He was "arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant, raucous, hot-tempered, devious, big and powerful." He was Chicago.
Former Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler perhaps said it best: "Chicago ain't ready for reform," he explained.
Chicago's tongue-in-cheek "Vote early and often" political motto goes back to Daley's early days and Al Capone.
Ballots for registered dead voters at times are cast. Political analyst Dick Simpson calls Chicago the capital of public corruption.
It's "a one-party system were Democrats control" city politics but govern like Republicans, said Simpson.
Voters are apathetic. They know the "fix is in." A tradition of corruption prevails. 
According to Simpson, it's long past time for Chicago "to become the land of Lincoln rather than the land of 'Where's Mine.' "
Chicago isn't unique. Political machines run things nationwide. They've done so for generations.
The film Citizen Kane explained what goes on. When the lead character, Charles Foster Kane, lost his gubernatorial election, his New York Inquirer headlined "Fraud at Polls."
It reflected real life electoral politics today. It's similar under democratic and authoritarian regimes. 
Exceptions prove the rule. Democracy is more illusion than real. Everything is pre-scripted. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process.
Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined. 
Republicans and Democrat share fault. They operate the same way. Independent candidates are shut out.
Voter disenfranchisement is rife. Thousands are peremptorily stricken from voter rolls. Illegal practices deter people from voting.
US elections are privatized. Corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic machines do our voting. They're inherently flawed.
Secret software is used. The process is easy to rig. It erases votes. It adds some never cast. 
It make others for one candidate show up for another. Losers are declared winners. Elections are stolen with electronic ease.
Partisan politics serves privileged interests alone. Voters get the best democracy money can buy.
Historian Robert Caro called Lyndon Johnson's 1948 senatorial primary victory perhaps the most blatant example of US electoral theft.
Johnson "miraculously" turned a 20,000 vote deficit into an 87 vote victory. According to Caro:
It wasn't "the only election…ever stolen, but there was never such brazen thievery."
Political analysts believe Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley turned a 1960 election eve Nixon lead into a Kennedy victory.
He did it by delaying a number of precinct results. They showed up later strongly for Kennedy.
America's 2000 presidential election was rife with fraud. Its outcome hinged on how Florida went.
Investigative journalist Greg Palast discovered gross irregularities. Thousands of African Americans and Latinos were fraudulently stricken from voter rolls.
They were declared ineligible. Various other ways were used to assure GW Bush won Florida.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act bans discriminatory practices. 
It prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure…" 
None may "deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." 
Federal oversight procedures were established to assure fairness. It didn't matter. Not then. Or earlier. Or now.
Monied interests run things. They choose winners and losers. Voters have no say.
Massive fraud characterized the 2004 presidential election. Florida and Ohio made the difference.
In 2000 and 2004, Ohio and Florida were stolen. Pollster Lou Harris called Ohio's 2004 election the dirtiest he ever saw. 
Exit polls gave Kerry an insurmountable lead. He won nationwide. GW Bush got a second term fraudulently.
In Harper's November 2012 issue, Victoria Collier headlined "How to Rig an Election, saying "The GOP aims to paint the country red."
High-tech ballot box stuffing is rife. Collier called it the "equivalent of a drone strike."
In 1996, Republican Chuck Hagel (Obama's defense secretary) suspiciously defeated Nebraska's popular Democrat governor Ben Nelson. 
At stake was a US Senate seat. Polls suggested a close race. Hagel won by 15 points. 
Few Nebraskans knew about his business connections. He was part owner, chairman and CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S).
It counted Nebraska's votes electronically. At the time, it was called American Information Systems. 
AIS' parent company founder, Michael McCarthy, was Hagel's campaign treasurer. His easy victory made winning suspect. His own company rigged things for him.
He never disclosed his business ties. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation was requested. It was rejected. 
America's political system is too corrupt to fix. According to Collier, voters "have no ability to know with certainty who wins any given race, from dogcatcher to president."
Corporate-controlled faith-based elections have no legitimacy. It bears repeating. Democracy in America is pure fantasy. It's always been this way. For sure now.
Elections elsewhere are suspect. Scotland's September 19 referendum is the latest example. 
Whitehall went all-out to defeat independence supporters. It controls BBC news, information and analysis.
Paul Mason is a former BBC business editor. He criticized its referendum coverage, saying:
"Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I'm out of there."
Mason challenged Deutsche Bank's fear-mongering warning. It ludicrously claimed independence would cause a 1930s-style depression.
On September 13, Mason headlined "Deutsche's 'Wall Street Crash' prediction goes uber alles the airwaves." 
He highlighted Deutsche Bank's previous "warnings of doom." They're opinions alone, he said. They're "open to debate."
They're deceptive. They're misleading. They're polar opposite truth.
In 1945, 50 countries comprised the original United Nations. Today it's 192. 
Depressions didn't follow independence earlier. Nor would they now. Claims otherwise are fraudulent. 
They're intended to intimidate voters. To manipulate them. To support what benefits monied interests. To ignore what they might otherwise prefer.
On September 18, Scottish voters ostensibly chose unity over independence. They did so by 55% to 45%. The wide margin surprised many analysts.
Throughout months of campaigning, polls showed "no" supporters consistently ahead. More recently, "yes" advocates gained strength.
Some polls showed they led. They were favored to win. Most UK and international surveys called the outcome too close to call.
Did fraud corrupt the process? Did it deny Scotland independence? 
On September 19, Infowars headlined " 'Yes' Supporters Claim Videos Show Scottish Referendum Was Rigged," saying:
"(A)lmost as soon as (vote counting) began (critics) alleged examples of tampering." Considering the stakes, Whitehall had every incentive to assure unity.
Examples Infowars gave included:
A video showing "bundles of referendum papers are seen on top of a table designated for 'No' votes and yet when zoomed in, the top paper on two of the bundles clearly shows an X marked in the box for 'Yes.' "
Another "clip show(ed) a man at a desk in a polling station writing on a piece of paper."
Perhaps he just "fill(ed) in referendum cards…" He could "as easily be tallying up votes."
A third example is less clear. It's harder to explain. "It shows a woman at a polling station counting votes." 
"She takes one paper from the 'No' pile and places it in the 'Yes' pile before taking at least two cards from the 'Yes' pile and placing them in the 'No' pile."
Glasgow police are investigating at least 10 cases of fraud, said Infowars. They involve voter disenfranchisement.
Registered voters found their names stricken from rolls. Doing so shows foul play. 
As explained above, it's commonplace in America. Apparently Whitehall and Edinburgh operate the same way.
Videos aren't conclusive, said Infowars. Alone they don't prove fraud.
At the same time, Britain's monied interests feared possible independence enough to go all-out to prevent it.
Perhaps independent investigations will show if Thursday's results were fair or fraudulent.
On September 18, RIA Novosti headlined "Russian Observers Suspect 'Special' Voting Technologies in Scotland." 
Using them may have influenced final results. Boris Borisov chairs the Council of the Russian Public Institute of Election Law. 
He led Moscow's observer mission. He commented on Scotland's referendum as follows:
"The absence of lines at voting offices could indicate the use of special voting technologies. About 20 percent vote in advance, via post." 
"From our experience, we know that in 2012 Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney during presidential elections in early (stages of) voting." 
"That is, he won prior to the day of the election. Whether this technology was used during the referendum, we will know when the votes have been counted."
"If the organizers of the referendum announce the results of the postal votes separately from the results received on the day of the election, then it will be possible to assess how great the influence of technologies on the vote was."
Despite reported high voter turnout, "people (didn't) wait (long) to vote," said Borisov. 
"I haven't noticed anything like that. Although, there are lines of two-three people to take to the ballot."
On September 19, London's Guardian headlined "Russia cries foul over Scottish independence vote," saying:
It "did not meet international standards." Counting "took place in rooms that were too big and that the procedure was badly flawed."
Borisov criticized what he saw. The room where he observed counting was a cavernous "aircraft hangar." It was next to an airfield.
It was hard seeing what went on. The hanger was about 100 meters by 300 meters. Tables were stacked with voting papers.
Observers were confined to perimeter areas. It was impossible to know how vote counting was handled, said Borisov.
It was unclear "where boxes with ballot papers (came) from." London and Edinburgh failed to meet proper referendum requirements, he explained.
"Nobody was interested in who was bringing in the voting slips. There were no stamps or signatures as the bulletins were handed over."
Analyst Afshin Rattansi explained huge "international considerations" on how things went. 
An example is North Sea oil. Scotland is home to Britain's HMNB Clyde and HMS naval bases. Whitehall's nuclear weapons are maintained there. According to Rattanai:
"With the vote as close as this, with the mainstream media on one side, with a massive amount of people from Westminster running up to beg Scotland the other way, and certain recounts in certain bits of the poll, which way did the vote go, really?"
"With the vote as close as this, with the mainstream media on one side, with a massive amount of people from Westminster running up to beg Scotland the other way, and certain recounts in certain bits of the poll, which way did the vote go, really?"
Misoslav Rudenko is a Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Supreme Council member. He suspects foul play, saying:
"I don't rule out that the British authorities have falsified the results of this referendum. The difference between those who voted in favour of independence and against it is not so great."
A few hundred thousand votes separated both sides. Rudenko accused Britain of "double standards." 
It allowed Scotland's referendum. It opposed ones Donetsk and Lugansk held. It called Crimea's legitimate process fraudulent.
It's typical Whitehall. It's common Western practice. 
Was Scotland's referendum fair or fraudulent? Considerable doubts remain. Perhaps the fullness of time will tell.
Most important is whether independence matters. Monied interests run Scotland. They do most everywhere. 
It bears repeating. Policies they institute benefit privileged interests alone. People have no say. 
The only solution is world revolution. Things are too corrupted to fix. It's way too late for scattered reforms. 
They're inconsequential. They're meaningless. They're insulting. An entirely new system is needed.
Government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly alone  works. The alternative is business as usual. 
It prevails. Nothing suggests change. Perhaps some day. Not now. Not any time soon. 
Not until popular outrage demands it. Not until ordinary people accept nothing less.
A Final Comment
Thousands in Scotland want referendum results recounted. They suspect fraud. At least 27,000 signatures were collected in hours.
They're on a petition saying:
"Countless evidences of fraud during the recent Scottish Referendum have come to light, including two counts of votes being moved in bulk into a No pile, Yes votes clearly being seen in no piles and strange occurenses with dual fire alarms and clear cut fraud in Glasgow." 
"We demand a revote be taken of said referendum, where each vote shall be counted by two individuals, one of whom should be an international impartial party without a stake in the vote."
It remains to be seen what follows. Expect business as usual to prevail. Don't expect this time to be different.

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. 

Tor Challenge Inspires 1,635 Tor Relays

eff.org - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 13:07

Good news for whistleblowers, journalists, and everyone who likes to browse the Internet with an added cloak of privacy: the Tor network got a little stronger. Tor—software that lets you mask your IP address—relies on an international network of committed volunteers to run relays to help mask traffic. And that network is stronger now, thanks to the 1,000+ volunteers who participated in our second-ever Tor Challenge.

The goal of the Tor Challenge is simple: to improve the Tor network by inspiring people to run relays. These relays are the backbone of the Tor network; they're the machines that actually forward and anonymize Tor users' communications. We also see this Challenge as an opportunity to educate people about the value of Tor, address common misconceptions about Tor, and give technically oriented folks a concrete, somewhat measurable way of promoting freedom and privacy online.

This is the second time we’ve held this challenge, and the outpouring of support from the technical community far exceeded our hopes. When launching this campaign in June, we were hoping to surpass 549 participating relays—the total number of relays that took part in the challenge in 2011. And that was an ambitious number; 2011 was during the Arab Spring, and the EFF Tor Challenge was one small way that technologists could lend support to democratic activists who relied on Tor to organize and reach the larger Web. We hoped that this year we’d be able to inspire just as much participation.

The results far outstripped our hopes: we had nearly three times as many participating relays. That’s over 1,600 relays—either new or increased in bandwidth—helping to strengthen the Tor network.

Here’s a breakdown of the results:

  Tor Challenge 2011 Tor Challenge 2014 Exit Relays 123 326 Middle Relays 299 1203 Bridges 127 106 Total Participating Relays 549 1,635

One of the reasons this campaign was so successful was that we teamed up with three other organizations: the Free Software Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and the Tor Project. These organizations’ promotional efforts were key to the campaign’s success.

The other key? Over 1,000 individuals who cared enough to help contribute bandwidth to the Tor network. Our gratitude goes out to each of the participants. Thanks for making the Internet a little more private and a bit more resistant to censorship.

Special thanks to Dr. Karsten Loesing of the Tor Project for making these awesome graphs of the challenge.


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Court Lets Cisco Systems Off the Hook for Helping China Detain, Torture Religious Minorities

eff.org - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 10:30

Chinese citizens who suffered forced detention, torture, and a panoply of brutal human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government have been engaged in a high profile court case against Silicon Valley mainstay Cisco Systems for many years. Those Chinese citizens suffered yet another indignity in a California court a couple of weeks ago: a district judge dismissed the case against Cisco without even giving them the chance to gather evidence on the key point where the court found them wanting. The court noted that even though Cisco may have designed and developed the Golden Shield system for the purpose of tracking, identifying and facilitating the capture of Chinese religious minorities, Cisco would not be held liable because it didn’t do enough in the U.S. to facilitate human rights abuses. EFF attempted to file an amicus brief in the case after oral argument, but it was rejected.

The case seems high techit's about Cisco’s Golden Shield, a set of sophisticated technologies that include specific purpose-built parts for persecution of the Falun Gong.  But it’s actually fairly simple:  at what point does a company that intentionally builds tools that are specially designed for governmental human rights abuses become liable for the use of those tools for their intended (and known) purposes? 

No tech company should be held accountable when governments misuse general use products to engage in human rights abuses. This isn’t about bare routers or server logs. The case alleged and presented some strong early evidence that Cisco did far more – including:

  • A library of carefully analyzed patterns of Falun Gong Internet activity (or “signatures”) that enable the Chinese government to uniquely identify Falun Gong Internet users;
  • Highly advanced video and image analyzers that Cisco marketed as the “only product capable of recognizing over 90% of Falun Gong pictorial information;”
  • Several log/alert systems that provide the Chinese government with real time monitoring and notification based on Falun Gong Internet traffic patterns;
  • Applications for storing data profiles on individual Falun Gong practitioners for use during interrogation and “forced conversion” (i.e., torture);

It also included a presentation by Cisco to the Chinese authorities highlighting the special tools Cisco offered for persecuting what it called “Falun Gong evil religion.” Using such terms about any ethnic or religious group in an internal presentation regarding a government project should be a red flag for anyone concerned about human rights.

The court acknowledged these allegations, noting that the complaint alleges “individual features customized and designed specifically to find, track and suppress Falun Gong,” and that the tools were actually used for those purposes: “Golden Shield provided the means by which all the Plaintiffs were tracked, detained and tortured.” The complaint also alleged that much of Cisco’s work building the specific tools to target this religious minority was conducted from its San Jose offices.

In an ordinary lawsuit, those allegations, which are credible and in some places confirmed, would be enough to let a party get into the evidence phase of a case, passing a motion to dismiss. Think about federal criminal law, where all that is needed for a criminal conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime and an overt act. Similarly, in patent and copyright law, the standard of “inducement” liability allows responsibility for someone else’s actions when someone “distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement.”  And there is no question that some Cisco’s “overt acts” and “affirmative expressions” to foster human rights abuseslike designing and developing Falun Gong identification and tracking modulestook place in San Jose.

In fact, the US government felt that there was a sufficient nexus to the U.S. to launch an indictment of Megaupload in Virginia based on far fewer connections to possibly illegal acts by its customers in the U.S. than Cisco had with its Chinese governmental customers.  Good thing for Cisco that the Chinese government is just arresting, torturing and forcibly converting Falun Gong rather than committing copyright infringement. 

So why is the standard so much higher for engaging in torture or forced conversion than it would be for bank robbing or patent or copyright infringement? The answer is that it shouldn’t be. The key law relied upon in the case, the Alien Tort Statute, requires, after a 2013 Supreme Court decision called Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum, that plaintiffs show that the matter “touch and concern” the United States in order for the case to proceed here. The phrase that is not defined and courts have not yet developed a unified approach to it, but the District Court here apparently decided that since the actual human rights violationsthe torture, forced conversions and arbitrary arrestoccurred in China, there wasn’t a sufficient nexus even though there were strong allegations that the specific technologies developed to target the Falun Gong for those abuses was intentionally and knowingly developed here.

We are deeply disappointed in the ruling and think the court got it wrong, as did an earlier court in Maryland. As our world becomes more networked, technology has the capacity to connect people worldwide to unlimited information and other people. But technological advances have also been abused by authoritarian regimes to repress people and to facilitate crimes against humanity. The Golden Shield in China has been a tool for social repression, censorship, surveillance like no other one earth, and China relied on it to hunt down, detain, imprison and “disappear” untold numbers of people.

As a great exporter of advanced technology, American companies like Cisco can’t plead ignorance about the ways in which our technology is used when they specifically and knowingly build the tools for those uses. And when a company like Cisco customizes and crafts technology for an authoritarian regime, it has a responsibility to consider the very human consequences of its actions. That’s why EFF has created guiding principles for technology companies to help them avoid assisting repressive governments. While the District Court here fell short short in holding companies accountable (it also failed to take into account a decision of the Ninth Circuit just days before that lowered the standard for holding companies like Cisco liable), we still have an opportunity to teach US companies to act in ways that respect and uphold human rights, both in the courts and elsewhere. Cisco may have blood on its servers, but other Silicon Valley companies can choose a different path.

Files:  10973373-0-28677.pdf
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Israel's Hannibal Directive

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 07:33
Israel's Hannibal Directive
by Stephen Lendman
It's been Israeli policy since 1986. It's an unwritten military protocol. It was secret for many years.
In 2003, Haaretz called it "one of the most controversial operational orders" in IDF history. Three Northern Command senior officers established it.
They included NC head Major General Yossi Peled, operations officer Col. Gabi Ashkenazi and intelligence officer Col. Yaakov Amidror.
They established live fire rules in cases of Israeli soldier abductions. It said:
"During an abduction, the major mission is to rescue our soldiers from the abductors even at the price of harming or wounding our soldiers." 
"Light-arms fire is to be used in order to bring the abductors to the ground or to stop them." 
"If the vehicle or the abductors do not stop, single-shot (sniper) fire should be aimed at them, deliberately, in order to hit the abductors, even if this means hitting our soldiers." 
"In any event, everything will be done to stop the vehicle and not allow it to escape."
The directive was code-named "Hannibal." It considers a dead IDF soldier better than a captured one.
It's to avoid captors taking Israeli soldiers alive. It's about avoiding political embarrassment. 
It's to deny enemies bargaining chips. It's to prevent concessions to secure abducted soldier releases.
Field commanders were ordered to apprise their troops. At least one battalion commander balked.
Some soldiers refused to kill their own. Furor caused revision. At least nominally.
Hannibal was rewritten. It ordered soldiers to fire only at wheels of vehicles without risking abductee lives.
It didn't matter. The original procedure stuck. Its letter and spirit remain.
For years, IDF senior officers denied Hannibal's existence. Military censors suppressed it.
Official secrecy made discussing it impossible. In early May 2003, Dr. Avner Shiftan discovered its existence.
He went public. He tried getting it annulled. Former soldiers and others debated pros and cons.
Active duty ones said the letter and spirit of Hannibal remain. Field commanders enforce it.
The father of an Israeli soldier abducted years perhaps spoke for others against Hannibal's mandate, saying:
"It's shocking to think that a soldier will execute his pal." 
"True, an abduction presents a serious dilemma in terms of the price the state will pay, but hard as that is, I prefer a captive son to a dead son. That way I still have hope." 
"The reason for the existence of the order is that the army doesn't have the necessary determination to rescue soldiers from captivity. Something is wrong with our code of ethics."
According to then Northern Command head head Major General Yossi Peled:
"The need for the procedure arose after the abduction of the soldiers Yosef Fink and Rafael Alsheikh in February, 1986." 
"I took over at Northern Command in June, 1986. The abduction of the two soldiers was a hot topic at headquarters and there was an oral instruction that said abductions had to be prevented at any price."
"We had to be careful in formulating the order so that there would be risk, but not killing." 
"We wanted to make it clear that if there was going to be killing, you don't do it, and if it meant risk to the abducted soldier, you do it."
Hannibal mandates going all-out to rescue abducted soldiers even at the risk of killing them. 
Peled understated it, saying "even if this means putting our soldiers at risk. The question is how far to go in order to prevent an abduction."
"I wouldn't drop a one-ton bomb on the vehicle, but I would hit it with a tank shell…that would make it possible for anyone who was not hit directly…to emerge in one piece." 
"After all, soldiers risk their lives when they set an ambush, too. Some of those who charge the enemies return in coffins, so does that mean we won't charge?" 
"Decisions have to be made that endanger soldiers. Sometimes there is no choice." 
"The army is supposed to maintain the state's security as the top priority, not the lives of its soldiers."
"In the army, orders lead to a situation in which soldiers die in some cases."
Over time, Hannibal was revised several times. One revision said:
"Tank fire (attack helicopters and other appropriate weapons) will be used at the discretion of the commanders."
In other words, anything goes. Hannibal's original mandate and spirit remain. Israeli has no qualms about killing its own.
Its military advocate general has no say. He can't contravene battlefield orders. He can't recommend what he believes best.
Former military advocate general Amnon Strasnov called Hannibal "problematic."
"It would have been better if the commanders had consulted with the legal authorities before issuing the order," he said.
Haifa University Law Professor Emanuel Gross believes legal experts should be involved in these type decisions.
Mandates like Hannibal should "go through the filter of the Military Advocate General's Office, and if (not), that is very grave," he said.
"(A)n order that knowingly permits the death of soldiers to be brought about, even if the intentions were different, carries a black flag and is a flagrantly illegal order that undermines the most central values of our social norms." 
"The order was understood as saying that even if people's lives were put at risk by opening fire, the soldiers should open fire nonetheless." 
"An order that takes into account a clear and present danger to soldiers' lives puts their lives up for grabs."
Former IDF Captain Lior Rotbart explained how Israeli soldiers are briefed, saying:
"(W)e were given orders to shoot at any vehicle containing an abducted soldier, in order to kill everyone in the vehicle."
He later saw things differently. "I think it is very immoral for soldiers…to decide the fate of (another) soldier," he said.
"There are (other) ways to solve the abduction of a soldier. You can't decide a person's fate when it is still possible to rescue him." 
"(T)he logic behind (Hannibal) is absolutely incredible. It is unacceptable to kill the person in the vehicle just to get him out of an abduction."
During Operation Protective Edge (OPE), Hannibal was implemented at least three times. Massive firepower followed. 
It bears repeating. Israel has no qualms about killing its own. Slaughtering Palestinian civilians is longstanding Israeli policy.
Following one Hannibal alert, Rafah was carpet-bombed for two days. Around 100 airstrikes were launched. 
Hundreds of artillery shells pounded the area for hours. It was left in ruins. At least 190 Palestinians died. Many others were wounded. At least 55 children died.
Homes were turned into rubble. Affected Palestinian survivors lost everything.
Col. Ofer Winter admitted ordering massive bombardment of Rafah. It was where Givati Brigade soldier Hadar Goldin went missing.
It was to prevent him being taken captive. Rafah was sealed off. Homes were destroyed with families inside. Artillery targeted civilians trying to flee.
Ambulances and other vehicles trying to evacuate wounded Palestinians were attacked.
Israel tried preventing Goldin's capture. It tried to kill him if he was already in captivity. Col. Winter explained his involvement, saying:
"At 9 am, half an hour after I put my head down, the Deputy Brigade Commander woke me up." 
"Come quickly, it's best you be here," he was told. We asked for a snapshot. We wanted information." 
"We didn’t think there was an abduction yet. While inquiring if everyone was there, I commanded Sagiv, the Armored Forces Commander operating under my orders, to start moving from Hirbat Hiza’a, which was where he was, toward Rafah." 
"Just then I got the message 'it’s not green in our eyes.' In other words, not everyone had been found. We were missing a soldier." 
"At 9:36, after inquiries with the battalion commander on site, I announced on the communication system the word that no one wants to say – 'Hannibal.' " 
"In other words, there had been an abduction. I instructed all the forces to move forward, to occupy space, so the abductors would not be able to move."
"Everything we did was from the understanding that we could return Goldin alive. Stop the abduction…That's what we employed all the force for," he claimed.
Collective punishment was ordered. So was retribution. International law prohibits both practices. According to Col. Winter:
"Anyone who abducts (an Israeli soldier) should know he will pay a price." He lied claiming it wasn't revenge. "They simply messed with the wrong brigade," he said.
He shamelessly called Palestinian resistance fighters "cowards." He turned truth on its head saying so.
Palestinians acted in self-defense. They were up against the world's fourth most powerful military. They engaged them with light arms. 
They fought courageously. They challenged premeditated Israeli aggression. They were blamed for its crimes. They included summary civilian executions.
Cold-blooded murder is official Israeli policy. A 16-year-old wheelchair-bound Palestinian girl with epilepsy was murdered trying to flee.
So was an elderly woman desperately crawling on the ground to get out of harm's way. It's Israel's way. It's state terrorism writ large.
Objectives are prioritized. Palestinian lives don't matter. Israeli ones are sacrificed for expediency.
Col. Winter is ideologically over-the-top. He reflects official Israeli thinking.
He turned truth on its head. He called OPE aggression "just (cause) against a cruel enemy…The forces of light (fought) the forces of darkness," he claimed.
Saying so justifies the unjustifiable. It permits the worst of high crimes against peace. They include mass slaughtering civilians.
In dozens of cases wiping out entire families. Turning communities into rubble. Targeting children and women like adults.
Ignoring rule of law principles. Being honored and promoted for mass murder. Even for killing its own soldiers.
Israel considers aggressive wars just ones. Victims are called terrorists. Gratuitous slaughter is called self-defense.
Anything goes is official policy. Business as usual persists. It's just a matter of time before more war of aggression. 
It's not a question of if. It's when. It's how brutal. It's how many more Palestinians will die? How many will be wounded?
How many will be maimed for life? How many wives will lose husbands? How many husbands will lose spouses?
How many children will lose parents? How many siblings will die? How many extended family members?
How much longer will Israel remain unaccountable? When will lomg denied justice prevail?
A Final Comment
Dan Yakir is Association for Civil Rights in Israel chief legal counsel.   Tamir Feldman heads ACRI's Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
They wrote Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. They addressed Israel's lawless Hannibal directive. They said in part:
"Extricating a kidnapped soldier from his captors, and preventing a situation in which Israel is forced to negotiate the release of prisoners, are both worthy objectives." 
"However, the means of realizing these objectives need to be legal, reasonable and proportionate." 
"A protocol that puts the life of the captured soldier in jeopardy to thwart a kidnapping is fundamentally unacceptable…" 
"Insomuch as the Hannibal Protocol permits the causing of harm to a soldier to prevent his abduction, or if it can so be construed, then (it's) illegal.”
“Implementing this protocol in populated areas, wherein the soldier and his captors are surrounded by a civilian population that is not taking part in hostilities, is strictly prohibited." 
"Massive and indiscriminate firing towards a metropolitan area in order to block potential escape routes will inevitably lead to a loss of life, as occurred in this instance, and therefore fundamentally violate the principle(s) of distinction (and proportionality) in international humanitarian law…"
"The implementation of the Hannibal Protocol in populated areas fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants and causes needless suffering." 
"It is our opinion that the use of this protocol in these circumstances constitutes an illegal method of warfare that violates the laws of war.”
“A command that subjugates the life of a soldier to an unknown political gain, whose nature and scope are unknown, is both cynical and revolting." 
"It is not for nothing that this protocol has been subjected to severe public criticism over the years, including by senior officials in the security establishment." 
"Activating this protocol in the heart of an urban and civilian environment is particularly grave. It shakes the foundations of law and morality and must be absolutely condemned."
Laws are enacted to be obeyed. Israel operates extrajudicially. 
Rogue states behave this way. Israel and America give lawlessness new meaning. 
They remain unaccountable for the highest of high crimes against peace. Long denied justice persists.
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. 

Opportunity Missed: Why We're Not Thrilled By Restoration of PACER Access to "Old" Court Records

eff.org - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 07:21

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) announced on Friday that it would make reams of court records once again accessible through PACER, the federal courts' digital warehouse for its court files. Many advocates are cheering this decision. But we are not. It's a big missed opportunity to provide free access to this trove of court records.

Presumably the AO realized it had made a huge mistake last month when it abruptly removed access to thousands of “old” records from four courts of appeals and one bankruptcy court because access to the records was purportedly incompatible with the new electronic filing and retrieval system the AO was rolling out. Most of these records were not “old” at all. For one court, the Federal Circuit, the removal affected all records in closed cases filed prior to March 1, 2012. For the Second and 11th Circuits, the removal affected all records in closed cases filed prior to January 1, 2010.

Access advocates, including EFF, were understandably outraged by this action, especially given that it came without warning and no public discussion. And ultimately, members of Congress chimed in with their disapproval, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, who wrote a letter on Sept. 12 to Judge John Bates, the head of the AO, urging that public access to the documents be restored. Six representatives, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, made a similar request just yesterday.

But we also saw this as a unique opportunity for openness rather than as a strike against it.

For years, access advocates have railed against PACER because it is a fee-based service, charging 10 cents per page for search results and 10 cents per page for documents retrieved. Court documents and case files can be voluminous; these dimes quickly add up to prohibitive costs for researchers, historians, advocates, and anyone else without a large research bankroll. As a result, efforts to provide free access have sprung up, many of which we have written about before, such as Public.Resource.Org and Free Law Project. Several of these groups collaborated on RECAP, a Firefox and Chrome extension that allows PACER users to donate the documents they view to the Internet Archive, where they can then be accessed by other users without incurring fees.

The AO has always opposed such efforts. The free services compete with PACER. If those seeking to search and view court files used the free services instead of PACER, then the AO would reap less money in fees.

Thus the opportunity: with these records off PACER—for whatever reason—the AO had no financial interest in them and no argument to oppose free public access to these records. The AO could put the ex-PACER records online in bulk in a way by which they could be retrieved by third parties. These third parties could then make the records searchable and retrievable—for free. In fact, this is exactly what Public.Resource.Org and Free Law Project, using its CourtListener platform, suggested should happen in its August 27 letters to the affected courts. And perhaps such a move could set a precedent and encourage the AO and individual courts to regularly age their records off of PACER and make them freely available.

The restoration of access to these records through PACER is therefore coming at a significant lost opportunity cost. The AO once again has a fee-driven excuse to obstruct free access, and no incentive to facilitate free access.

Moreover, it is unclear exactly what access is being restored. The AO announced it is making the records available again by converting the docket sheets—the index pages for each case—to PDFs. These PDFs will presumably link to the court records. But it is unknown where the court records themselves actually reside, and what guarantees we have that access to them will be maintained. Moreover, by converting the dockets to PDFs, the searchability of the records will not be improved and could potentially be comically worse.

So we can't wholeheartedly cheer today's announcement. And it's one reason we'll continue to advocate for free access to court records and encourage lawyers and researchers to install RECAP to help build a free alternative to PACER.


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13 Principles Week of Action: While Australia Shirks Its International Human Rights Obligations, Australians Wait On The Rest Of The World to Act

eff.org - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 05:34

This is a guest post from Angela Daly and Angus Murray, members of the Policy and Research Standing Committee, Electronic Frontiers Australia. Angela is also a member of the Australian Privacy Foundation's board of directors.

Between 15th-19th of September, in the week leading up the first year anniversary of the 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles, EFF and the coalition behind the Principles will be conducting a Week of Action explaining some of the key guiding principles for surveillance law reform. Every day, we'll take on a different part of the principles, exploring what’s at stake and what we need to do to bring intelligence agencies and the police back under the rule of law. You can read the complete set of posts at: https://necessaryandproportionate.org/anniversary. The Principles were first launched at the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 20 September 2013.  Let's send a message to Member States at the United Nations and wherever else folks are tackling surveillance law reform: surveillance law can no longer ignore our human rights. Follow our discussion on twitter with the hashtag: #privacyisaright

13 Principles Week of Action: While Australia Shirks Its International Obligations, Australians Wait On The Rest Of The World to Act

One of the most important treaties of international human rights law is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been signed and ratified by most of the world’s countries. Contained within the rights and liberties set out in this treaty are the right to free expression (Art 19) and the right to privacy (Art 17). Although all of these countries have signed and ratified the ICCPR, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States have exhibited blatant disregard for the rights contained therein by forming the Five Eyes (FVEY) coalition of countries which engage in mass surveillance of their populations.

The ‘above the law’ existence of FVEY was only brought to the public’s attention as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, and was revealed to be fundamentally at odds with international human rights principles. Indeed, this lack of compliance with human rights has resulted in various legal challenges to the FVEY activity. One of these challenges has been spearheaded by advocacy group Privacy International, which has been tackling the UK arm of FVEY. Initially attempts to compel the release of information relating to the scope and powers of FVEY via Freedom of Information requests to Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) were denied. Now Privacy International has brought a claim before the European Court of Human Rights.

The essence of this claim is that the refusal to release this information is a violation of free expression as enshrined in Art 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The lack of public information about the exact nature of the FVEY partnership, given its impact on the rights to free expression and privacy of millions of people throughout the world, ought to be of grave concern to all. We in Australia are watching these developments overseas with great interest, particularly given the lack of means at our disposal to challenge aspects of FVEY and/or Australia’s very participation in the partnership and disregard for its international obligations.

Australians suffer from a lack of enforceable human rights compared to citizens of the other FVEY countries. While the ICCPR has been signed and ratified by Australia, the rights it contains are, on the whole, not actionable in national law. At the domestic level, Australia does have a written Constitution, but no comprehensive bill of rights. A weak right to political communication has been implied into the Constitution by the Australian courts, but its scope is very limited, and there remains no enforceable right to privacy. So as Australians we are left to watch developments in other FVEY countries, and hope that these challenges to mass surveillance and aspects thereof are successful.

Any striking down of the FVEY partnership by courts in other countries could possibly have spillover effects for Australians and their free expression and privacy rights. Thus they may cause the rights recognized in these other countries’ legal systems to have some positive extraterritorial reach in Australia. However, the fact remains that despite our country being an enthusiastic participant in FVEY’s mass surveillance activities and shirking from its international human rights obligations, we are disadvantaged compared to citizens of the other FVEY countries in our scant rights protection and must await developments in other parts of the world rather than be able to hold the Australian government to account for violations of our human rights.

Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human Rights
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Bill Introduced in Congress to Let You Actually Own Things, Even if They Contain Software

eff.org - Sat, 20/09/2014 - 03:10

We’ve written before about how copyright is chipping away at your right to own devices you’ve bought and paid for—from e-books to toasters and even your car. Time and again, people who want to modify their own property or sell it to others are told that they can’t, because their property comes saddled with copyrighted code they’re not allowed to modify or give away when they are done with the device.

At last, someone in Congress has noticed how “intellectual property rights” are showing up in unexpected places and undermining our settled rights and expectation about the things we buy. Today, Representative Farenthold announced the introduction of the You Own Devices Act (YODA). If a computer program enables a device to operate, YODA would let you transfer ownership of a copy of that computer program along with the device. The law would override any agreement to the contrary (like the one-sided and abusive End-User License Agreements commonly included with such software). Also, if you have a right to receive security or bug fixes, that right passes to the person who received the device from you.

It’s reassuring to see some pushback against abusive contract terms that consumers have no opportunity or leverage to negotiate. YODA is an important first step towards addressing the problem with restrictive licenses on embedded software.

Let’s hope it’s just the beginning. Legal fixes are also needed to protect digital first sale and the right to access and modify software in devices you own. First sale refers to the idea that you can re-sell or lend a copyrighted work that you obtained lawfully without needing the permission of the copyright owner. This is what lets you borrow a book or CD from a friend or library, buy used DVDs, and so on. Unfortunately, a federal district court in New York decided that first sale was too narrow to apply to digital music files in most normal circumstances. If other courts follow that ruling, we may need a legislative fix to preserve the ownership rights people have traditionally had when purchasing copyrighted works.

The right to access and modify software in your own devices is also under siege. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits you from breaking (or working around) digital locks on copyrighted works  —including software—even if you own that copy of the work and the device on which it rests, even for lawful purposes such as fair use! This law has stifled security research, prevented people from tinkering and improving on technology, inhibited remix culture, and denied blind and deaf people access to knowledge and culture. Further examples abound.

So we have real work to do—but it’s great to see legislators taking important steps in the right direction.  YODA is one such step, and we hope Congress goes on to restore these other rights of users who have purchased devices with embedded software and want to actually own them. 

Related Issues: DMCATerms Of (Ab)UseInnovationDRM
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Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Washington

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/09/2014 - 22:37
Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Washington
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed his three-day North American tour. His illegitimacy doesn't matter. 
Nor his hardline anti-democratic fascist ideology, lawlessness or war without mercy against Ukrainian citizens.
He was treated like visiting royalty. Obama warmly greeted him at the White House. In late August, press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement saying:
"President Obama will host President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine at the White House on Thursday, September 18." 
"The visit will highlight the United States' firm commitment to stand with Ukraine as it pursues democracy, independence, and stability." 
"President Obama looks forward to discussing with President Poroshenko efforts to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine as well as our continued support for Ukraine's struggle to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity."
On September 18, Earnest reaffirmed US support, saying:
"The United States is firmly committed to supporting Ukraine as it works to establish security and stability, respond to humanitarian and reconstruction needs, conduct democratic elections and carry out constitutional reforms, restore its economy, and combat corruption."  
"Along with our international partners, including the IMF, the United States is committed to supporting Ukraine's reform agenda while also ensuring that Ukrainians are able to determine their future without intimidation or outside coercion." 
Obama gave Poroshenko new security guarantees. Poroshenko asked for them. Especially ones related to "defense." He "received a positive answer," he said.
Both countries partner against democratic freedoms. Ukraine's fascist government excludes them. 
It prohibits democracy. It's verboten. Illegitimate hardline rule prevails.
Obama supports, encourages and demands anti-democratic governance. 
He presides over America's police state apparatus. He wants Ukraine governed the same way.
He wants its economy crippled under IMF debt bondage. The late Bob Chapman once said "(t)he idea is to bring on perpetual economic and financial crisis so that the IMF's work is never completed."
Crippled economies masquerade as stable ones. "The IMF (is) the New World Order's Gestapo."
It "sets up formerly sovereign states as supplicant members of (US-controlled) world government."
Washington's "goal is a world bank to control all nations monetarily and financially."
"Every major event is planned as are many smaller ones."
"Nothing is ever as it seems to be." Reality is polar opposite proliferated myths. Monied interests run things.
America bears full responsibility for global wars, instability, insecurity and human misery. Its Western partners, Israel and other rogue allies share it.
It's way too late for scattered reforms. Major change is needed. Ordinary people have power when they use it.
Nonviolent disruptive power works best. Electoral politics doesn't work. Rare exceptions prove the rule.
The late Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909 - 1972) once said the best way to beat organized money is with organized people.
It's always bottom up. It's never top down. It's verboten in Ukraine and America. Their political systems are too corrupted to fix.
They show how power corrupts and absolute power does so absolutely.
On September 18, Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Congress. He lied suggesting Ukraine is "on the forefront of the global fight for democracy."
He ludicrously claimed "freedom…is at the core of (its) existence today."
He called Washington's coup elevating fascist putschists to power "the most heroic story of the last decade."
It showed "sacrifice, dedication and the unbreakable will to live free," he claimed.
"The defenders of freedom were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a better future."
He claimed they did it with "sticks and shields." He ignored Western trained neo-Nazi Ukrainian snipers murdering dozens of Maidan police and ordinary people.
Over 100 died. They were killed in cold blood. Washington's dirty hands orchestrated what happened.
Poroshenko referred to the "Heavenly Hundred." 
"We revere them as true national heroes," he said. They're not martyrs. They're victims of fascist viciousness.
Poroshenko didn't explain. Nor his US or other Western partners. MSM scoundrels regurgitate official Big Lies.
Poroshenko's address repeated one after another. Truth was systematically buried. 
Congress wholeheartedly approves. So does Obama and top administration officials.
Poroshenko turned truth on its head claiming Russia invaded Ukraine. It's waging war, he said. It "brought (the country) to the brink of its survival." 
You can't make this stuff up. Truth is polar opposite Poroshenko's Big Lies. He gets marching orders from Washington.
He salutes and obeys. Ukraine is America's newest colony. Poroshenko is a convenient stooge leader. 
He serves at Washington's discretion. He'll continue doing so as long as he remembers who's boss.
He asked Congress "not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of (nonexistent Russian) aggression."
America committed to "stand behind Ukraine's territorial integrity."
"Democracies must support each other," he said. "They must show solidarity in the face of aggression and adversity."
"The (nonexistent) aggression against Ukraine has become one of the worst setbacks for the cause of democracy in the world in years."
"The outcome of today's war will determine whether we will be forced to accept the reality of a dark, torn, and bitter Europe as part of a new world order."
Young Ukrainian army recruits "are the only thing that now stands between the reality of peaceful coexistence and the nightmare of a full relapse into the previous century and a new cold war," he claimed.
War they're "fighting today is not only Ukraine's war."
"It is Europe’s, and it is America's war, too. It is a war of the free world - and for a free world!"
Poroshenko shamelessly claimed "Russian aggression" threatens "global security everywhere."
"If they are not stopped now, they will cross European borders and spread throughout the globe."
It bears repeating. You can't make this stuff up. Poroshenko's Big Lies didn't rise to the level of bad fiction.
He asked Congress for more military support. He met with John Kerry. He got pledges to supply it.
According to Ukraine's National Radio Company, Washington will provide "$350 million worth of military (and) technical assistance in 2015."
It includes "anti-tank weapons, counter-artillery radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, and communications equipment."
"This is stated in a bill posted on the Web site of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which was filed on September 17 by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Bob Corker."
"The document is to be tabled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday just hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresse(d) a joint meeting of Congress."
He thanked Washington for aid supplied. "Ukraine has the right to defend her territory," he said. He "urge(d) America to lead the way!"
He ludicrously claimed Ukraine "always had a special bond" with America. Today it's Washington's "natural and consequential" regional partner.
It's not "circumstantial," he said. We're "in the same boat," he added.
At a time of "existential crisis, Ukraine's choice was the same as America’s: freedom, democracy, and the rule of law," he claimed.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Ukraine is the epicenter of European fascist reemergence.
Its lawlessness, belligerent, anti-democratic and fascist. Its no-holds-barred barbarity matches some of the world's worst. 
Its egregious human rights record reveals its dark side. Police state ruthlessness is official policy. So is state terror. War on fundamental freedoms persist.
Ukrainian democracy is pure fantasy. Fascist thugs run things. They represent mob rule. Unchecked power defines them. 
They're ruthless. They tolerate no opposition. It's systematically eliminated. 
Rogue states operate this way. Putschist ones have no legitimacy. Ukraine is one of the worst.
Washington provides wholehearted support. It encourages Kiev's high crimes. It funds them. 
It wants democracy advocates entirely eliminated. Vicious state terror tactics target them ruthlessly.
Western propaganda suppresses reality. Illegitimate putschist power is called democracy.
Mass murder is called self-defense. Freedom-fighting democrats are called "terrorists."
Poroshenko wants more military aid. Southeastern Ukrainian self-defense forces battered Kiev's troops. 
They're in disarray. They're regrouping. They're preparing for more conflict.
Ukraine needs "a strong army," Poroshenko claimed.
"I see it as my utmost duty to rectify the damage done to the Ukrainian military and to give Ukraine a strong, modern army that we can be proud of."
To wage premeditated naked aggression. To brutalize Ukrainian citizens. 
To commit more mass murder. To tolerate no opposition. 
To crush democracy advocates once and for all. To institutionalize fascist rule. 
To ally with Washington and rogue EU partners against Russia. To risk East/West confrontation in the process.
Poroshenko urged closer US/Ukrainian military ties. He wants "special security and defense status."
Receiving it means the "highest level of interaction with a non-NATO ally."
In November 2002, a NATO/Ukraine Action Plan was instituted. 
In February 2005, Ukraine became the first post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nation to join NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative.
In April 2005, it joined NATO's Intensified Dialogue program.
In March 2008, it sent an official Membership Action Plan (MAP) application letter to Brussels.
It's the first step to joining NATO. Washington supports it later. Not now. So do other key NATO member states.
Russia categorically opposes incorporating Ukraine into the Alliance. Both nations share a nearly 1,500 mile land and sea border.
Moscow won't tolerate US-controlled NATO bases on its borders. Or encroaching multiple nuclear armed long-range missiles targeting its heartland.
It calls Ukrainian NATO membership "a direct (national security) threat." It does so for good reason.
After his 2010 reelection, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called Kiev/NATO relations "well-defined."
He saw no reason for Ukraine to join NATO. Membership might "emerge at some point," he explained.
"(W)e will not see it in the immediate future," he stressed. Ukraine would remain a "European non-aligned state," 
On June 3, 2010, Ukraine's parliament excluded "integration into Euro-Atlantic security and NATO membership."
It prohibited Ukrainian membership in any military bloc. It permitted cooperation alone with ones like NATO.
That was then. This is now. Poroshenko and Washington intend incorporating Ukraine into NATO. 
Expect it at America's discretion. Expect strong Russian opposition. It remains to be seen precisely how Moscow will react.
Ukraine is its red line. Putin won't let it be crossed. He won't compromise Russia's security. 
His strategy will be revealed in the fullness of time. It bears repeating what other articles stressed. 
America's quest for unchallenged global dominance threatens humanity.

Potential East/West confrontation looms. World peace hangs by a thread.
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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