News feeds

UK Special Forces Fighting Assad in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 04/08/2015 - 02:15
UK Special Forces Fighting Assad in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
On August 2, Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper headlined “SAS dress as ISIS fighters in undercover war on jihadis,” saying:
“More than 120 members belonging to the elite regiment are currently in the war-torn country” covertly “dressed in black and flying ISIS flags,” engaged in what’s called Operation Shader - attacking Syrian targets on the pretext of combatting ISIS.
Maybe covert US special forces and CIA elements are involved the same way. During Obama’s war on Libya, Britain deployed hundreds of Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) paratroopers - drawn from SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) personnel. Around 800 Royal Marines and 4,000 US counterparts were on standby to intervene on short notice if ordered.
The latest revelation comes two weeks after learning Prime Minister David Cameron last year approved British warplanes joining US ones in bombing Syria despite parliamentary rejection in August 2013.
At least part of its current covert ground operation is under US command - so-called “smash” units traveling in pickup trucks able to launch mini-UAVs to scan terrain for targets to attack.
Over 250 UK (and perhaps US) specialists are involved to provide communications support, the Sunday Express explained.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said “(o)ur actions and surveillance capabilities are freeing up other countries to strike in Syria.”
UK SAS forces are in Saudi Arabia training anti-Assad terrorists along with US operatives doing the same thing - including in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and perhaps Israel.
US and UK claims about training so-called “moderate” rebels reflect smoke-screen cover for working directly with ISIS terrorists - trained, armed and funded abroad, funneled cross-border into Syria to fight Assad, now with US/UK and Canadian air support along with covert commandos on the ground.
The Express cited former British Army General David Richards saying “tanks will roll” as part of UK operations in Syria.
A separate article discussed US airstrikes defending ISIS terrorists serving as US foot soldiers against Assad.
The Wall Street Journal reported what appears ominously like prelude to Libya 2.0 - falsely claiming Obama authorized airstrikes against Syrian forces if they attack (nonexistent) US-supported “moderate” rebels.
Separately, Turkish media reported President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Putin may have softened on Assad. (H)e may give up on” him.
Obama said he was “encouraged by the fact that Mr. Putin called him (in late June) and initiated the call to talk about Syria.” 
“I think they get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory inside of Syria and that the prospects for a (jihadist) takeover or rout of the Syrian regime is not imminent but becomes a greater and greater threat by the day. That offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said both leaders discussed combatting terrorism - especially the Islamic State.
“The Russian view is well-known,” he explained. “(I)t was reiterated by (Putin) during (his) conversation” with Obama. It hasn’t changed.
Putin opposes outside interference by any nations in the internal affairs of others. He supports the sovereign right of Syrians and other people to choose their own leaders and legislators.
Putin aide Yury Ushakov said “the current leadership of Syria is one of the real and effective forces confronting the Islamic State.” 
Nothing indicates less Russian support for Assad. His liberating struggle is overwhelming backed by Syrians.
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. 

Deepening Greek Depression

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 23:24
Deepening Greek Depression
by Stephen Lendman
Greece is Exhibit A on how financial predators wreck economies for profit. Force-fed austerity is toxic, polar opposite what’s needed. 
Weak economies need stimulus to stabilize, recover and grow - expansive monetary and fiscal policy. Euro straightjacket rules prevent member countries from controlling their own financial policies. It’s like having weapons with no ammunition when trouble strikes.
Greece’s manufacturing index is a testimony to wrongheaded euro policies. It July, it sank at a record pace - from a negative 46.9 in June to a dismal 30.2 in July.
Readings below 50 signify contraction. Greece’s new orders gauge showed no relief in sight - plunging from 43.2 in June to a record 17.9 in July.
Markit Economics blamed capital controls and a “generally uncertain operating environment. Although manufacturing represents only a small proportion of Greece’s total productive output, the sheer magnitude of the downturn sends a worrying signal for the health of the economy as a whole. Bank closures and capital restrictions badly hampered normal business activity.”
Since crisis erupted five years ago, Greece’s economy slumped over 25%. After reopening for the first time since June 26, Greece’s stock market crashed - down 23% in early trading, closing around 20% lower than when trading began with perhaps more declines coming before stabilizing. 
A halt in short selling was declared. The benchmark National Bank of Greece plunged 30% - the daily limit. Other bank valuations followed.
The Financial Times cited an unnamed Greek market analyst saying “banks are especially vulnerable because of capital controls. The question now is whether they’ll drag down the rest of the market with them.” 
Monday trading showed bad news affected equities across the board. In the past 12 months, the Athens Composite is down about 45% - heading lower. 
Greece’s bond market indicates further trouble. Higher short-term rates over longer-dated bonds indicates investors fear default. Greek two-year notes yield 21% - 10-year bonds around 12%.
Investment strategist Frances Hudson commented, saying “things are going to be very tough for Greece” - especially with tougher austerity measures imposed, more coming, and still more demanded.
Greece’s economy teeters near collapse. Investment “ground to a halt,” the Financial Times reported. Prospects ahead look dismal.
Troika and Greek financial officials are discussing recapitalizing the nation’s major banks - hard hit by capital flight and non-performing loans. Up to 25 billion euros are needed.
Austerity issues being discussed include pension reform, ending early retirement, accelerated privatizations, ending violations of Greece’s last bailout agreement and further social service cuts than already demanded.
Releasing bailout funds in amounts to be determined depend on SYRIZA’s implementing all terms imposed. So far, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras conceded on virtually everything - breaching his promise of ending austerity.
The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research’s monthly Greek economic sentiment indicator fell for the fifth straight time in July - reaching its lowest level since October 2012. A IOBE statement said:
“The negative development is the result of the sharp deterioration in business expectations in all areas, but also a recent and significant decline in consumer confidence.”
Greece has a three billion euro debt service obligation due the ECB on August 20. It needs to complete ongoing talks to receive bailout funds in agreed on tranches to be mostly handed right back to banks and other large creditors - a predatory scheme raping the country and harming ordinary people most, already in extreme duress.
Former SYRIZA welfare minister Dimitris Stratoulis said “(t)he government has to choose between a humiliating agreement to sign a third bailout, or abandon the agreements reached in Brussels and seek alternatives for a positive course out of this crisis.”
The capitulation course chosen assures harder than ever hard times ahead, potential economic collapse, as well as eventual odious debt default and Grexit instead of right now as the only way back from the abyss no matter how painful the process.
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. 

Coalition Announces New ‘Do Not Track’ Standard for Web Browsing

eff.org - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 23:15
Policy Offers Stronger Privacy Protection and Promotes Advertising Best Practices

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), privacy company Disconnect and a coalition of Internet companies have announced a stronger “Do Not Track” (DNT) setting for Web browsing—a new policy standard that, coupled with privacy software, will better protect users from sites that try to secretly follow and record their Internet activity, and incentivize advertisers and data collection companies to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked online.
The EFF and Disconnect’s partners in this launch are the innovative publishing site Medium, major analytics service Mixpanel, popular ad- and tracker-blocking extension AdBlock, and private search engine DuckDuckGo.
“We are greatly pleased that so many important Web services are committed to this powerful new implementation of Do Not Track, giving their users a clear opt-out from stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history,” said EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley. “These companies understand that clear and fair practices around analytics and advertising are essential not only for privacy but for the future of online commerce.”

DNT is a preference you can set on Firefox, Chrome, or other Web browsers as well as in the iOS and FirefoxOS mobile operating systems to signal to websites that you want to opt-out of tracking of your online activities. Tracking by advertisers and other third parties is commonplace on the Web today, and typically occurs without the knowledge, permission, or consent of Internet users. You can see evidence of this when ads appear around the Web that are eerily based upon your past browsing habits; meanwhile, the underlying records and profiles of your online activity are distributed between a vast network of advertising exchanges, data brokers, and tracking companies.
The new DNT standard is not an ad- or tracker-blocker, but it works in tandem with these technologies.

“The failure of the ad industry and privacy groups to reach a compromise on DNT has led to a viral surge in ad blocking, massive losses for Internet companies dependent on ad revenue, and increasingly malicious methods of tracking users and surfacing advertisements online,” said Disconnect CEO Casey Oppenheim. “Our hope is that this new DNT approach will protect a consumer’s right to privacy and incentivize advertisers to respect user choice, paving a path that allows privacy and advertising to coexist.”

For the full Do Not Track policy:
https://www.eff.org/dnt-policy

Contact:  PeterEckersleyChief Computer Scientistpde@eff.org CaseyOppenheimCofounder and CEO, Disconnnectpress@disconnect.me
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Categories: Aggregated News

Obama Orders Airstrikes to Defend ISIS in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 19:07
Obama Orders Airstrikes to Defend ISIS in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles explained what Western officials and media scoundrels suppress. ISIS or ISIL or IS are US recruited, trained, armed, funded and directed Pentagon proxy foot soldiers doing Obama’s dirty work - to destabilize and/or topple governments where they’re deployed.
Using them is part of Washington’s imperial strategy for unchallenged global dominance. They’re likely to show up almost anywhere. Mass slaughter, destruction, brutal atrocities and human misery follow - notably in Syria and Iraq.
On August 2, the Wall Street Journal headlined “US to Defend New Syria Force From Assad Regime.” The so-called “new” force is the old one. They’re not Syrian rebels or others supporting the rights of its people. 
They’re US enlisted death squads - cutthroat killers, trained in the art of committing the most brutal acts of murder, torture and other atrocities, including use of chemical and other illegal weapons.
The Journal said Obama “authorized using air power to defend a new US-backed fighting force in Syria if it is attacked by Syrian government forces or other groups, raising the risk of the American military coming into direct conflict with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.”
What’s planned appears prelude to Libya 2.0 - airstrikes on Syrian military targets, likely others not yet struck, escalated war to topple Assad, lawless butchery, a US specialty.
According to the Journal, “US military officials played down the chances of a direct confrontation (with Syrian forces), at least in the near term.” The strategy appears designed to create a pretext to attack them directly - in other words, be IS’ air force, the same strategy used in Libya against Gaddafi.
White House National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey was deliberately vague, saying the administration will “take the steps necessary to ensure (its proxy foot soldiers can) successfully carry out their mission” - with no further explanation other than adding “defensive fires support (will) protect them.”
The latest escalation follows Obama/Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussions to let US warplanes use Ankara’s Incirlik and Diyarbakir air bases to bomb Syrian targets, as well as establish illegal buffer and no-fly zones in northern Syria bordering Turkey - seizing a portion of its territory ahead of aiming to grab it all.
Pentagon claims about recruiting so-called “rebels” to fight IS forces is part of Obama’s grand deception - no different from Big Lies proliferated in all US wars of aggression.
Defense Secretary Aston Carter’s claims about US efforts to turn the tide against IS is polar opposite US strategy. So is the Wall Street Journal reporting “Pentagon-backed force(s) explicitly directed not to conduct offensive operations against” Assad.
But they’re free to conduct any called “defensive” - code language for offensive on the pretext of defense - the same bogus argument Israel uses to attack Palestinian civilians.
New Pentagon rules of engagement don’t explicitly name Assad, said the Journal. At the same time, they permit strikes on any elements attacking so-called “rebels.”
Current plans have been in the works for months, the Journal explained - delayed because of administration “reluctance to spell out the conditions under which the US might find itself in a fight with” Assad forces.
Events suggest it’s coming - perhaps following a US-instigated false flag, blaming Assad for attacking so-called “rebels, letting Pentagon warplanes begin bombing Syrian targets the way US-led NATO’s aggression against Libya was waged. 
A repeat of that scenario looks increasingly likely. Chances for peaceful conflict resolution are nil. Washington won’t tolerate it. Regime change in Syria remains official US policy.
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. 

Stalker Law, or How Did The Government Legalize Mass Surveillance of Innocent Peruvians

eff.org - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 14:11

Peruvians understand the dangers of pervasive surveillance. Peru's ex-spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos is serving a long jail sentence for corruption and human rights abuses. In 2000, Peruvian authorities seized about 2,400 videotapes made by Montesinos, which he used to manipulate political opponents and journalists whom he caught on film, a scandal also known as the “Vladivideos”. That’s why so many in the country recognise the dangers of a pervasive surveillance state.

Last week, the Peruvian President adopted a new Decree which allows the police to access location data of any cell phone without a prior court authorization. In other words, law enforcement agencies in Peru no longer need a court order allowing real-time access to localization data. The Decree also compels local ISPs and telephone companies to retain communications and location details of the entire Peruvian population for a period of three years. The retained data could be accessible to law enforcement with a court order for possible use in the future.

Put simply, with the new Decree, the Peruvian government has shifted from surveillance of communications records based on individualized suspicion to the mass untargeted collection of communications data of ordinary, non-suspect people. No wonder it’s been dubbed by Peruvians as #Leystalker (“Stalker Law”), which has been described as someone who uses technology to spy on people every online movement, step-by-step.

Miguel Morachimo, Director of the Peruvian NGO Hiperderecho, an EFF ally who has been analyzing the law in Peru, told us:

“This legislative decree is troubling for what it says and also for what it means. It says that communications metadata is not protected under privacy protections and should be massively storaged. And it represents a government that is taking steps willingly to undermine the freedoms that we just recovered the past decade. We must not return to the past and ensure that the rule of law remains the foundation of our democracy in the digital age”

Indeed, Montesinos’ legacy of corruption and illegal spying is still live in Peru, so much so that even the Interior Minister José Luis Pérez Guadalupe wanted to calm the population, making public statements to distance the Stalker Law from the practices committed by the convicted former chief of Peru’s secret service, but his declarations in the media did nothing to stop Internet users to express their concerns to the Legislative Decree through the Internet.

Online Mobilization

#Leystalker immediately became a trending topic in the Peruvian Twitter community. Journalist and influential blogger,  Marco Sifuentes, explained in an email to EFF:

“Thanks to the movement on Twitter, Ley Stalker became a trending topic, then jumped into the national agenda and ended up on the front pages of major newspapers. Peru has a tradition to repeal abusive laws when they are fought mainly from social networks. Peruvian politicians and the media pay much attention to online activism. This time was no exception.”

But civil society is not alone in criticizing Ley Stalker. In an interview to the main peruvian newspaper, El Comercio, the conservative archbishop of Lima Juan Luis Cipriani raised serious concerns against #LeyStalker. Cipriani added:"It is great that you put all means to try to control where [a phone call of extortion or blackmail] came from”, but there is a problem that is not easy to forget: “that there is interception of communication” referring to Stalker Law.

Former Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, criticized the archbishop of Lima, in a local radio interview,  saying that “Cipriani is a priest, not a telecommunications engineer”  referring to Monsieur Cardinal’s opinion on the Stalker Law. He added:

"I got lucky and that my specialty is Telecommunication and that's why I push for the bill. Those who are afraid of this standard, it is because they lack the technical side", Urresti told Radio Exitosa.

Digital is Different - Metadata Matters

Perhaps Mr. Urresti, as a telecommunication expert, should have explained to the public how sensitive the information that Peruvian telcos are compelled to retain for three years really is. Location data paints a vivid portrait of when and where a person goes, including when a person is at home or spends the night somewhere else and with whom. Given the ubiquity of cellphones and the fact people carry them almost everywhere, the information can be more revealing than GPS information especially if this information is retained for longer periods of time. (Read more to learn how governments can spy on your mobile phone).

It should have been explained that the Stalker Law creates for the first time in Peruvian law a legal distinction between metadata and communications content and that only content is subject to constitutional protection. Hence, the Stalker Law creates a false distinction on the level of protection that each category merits.

As the rest of the world is slowly realizing post-Snowden, the increasing abundance of metadata, and the techniques for aggregating and analyzing it, means that “mere metadata” on its own reveals a devastating amount about private citizens. The Peruvian government’s ability to gather extraordinarily sensitive  metadata such as location data on an entire population, over a long period of time, and organize it using modern surveillance techniques, can easily garner the kind of vicious insight that Montesinos’ could only have dreamed of.

In a study, Stanford researchers found experimentally that information about who people call can be used to infer extraordinarily sensitive facts about them, including the fact that they sought and received treatment for particular medical conditions, that they had an abortion, and that they purchased firearms, among other things.

  • Information about where people go reveals sensitive religious, medical, sexual, and political information, including the kinds of religious services, political meetings, and medical specialists a person attended or met with.

  • Information about the proximity or lack of proximity of multiple people to one another can reveal everyone who attended a protest, the beginning or end of a romantic relationship, or a person's marital infidelity.

Erosion of Journalistic Sources

The consequences of data retention mandates are far-reaching, but one particularly troubling outcome is the erosion of journalists’ right to refuse to hand over evidence to law enforcement to protect the confidentiality of their sources. In Poland, the media reported on two major cases where intelligence agencies used retained traffic and subscriber data to illegally disclose journalistic sources.  In Germany, Deutsche Telekom illegally used telecom traffic and location data to spy on about 60 individuals—including journalists, managers and union leaders—in order to try to find leaks. And in a particularly egregious case from Ireland, a law enforcement officer reportedly used retained communications data to spy on her ex-boyfriend’s phone activities.

False Sense of Security

National data retention laws are invasive, costly, and damage the rights to privacy and free expression. They compel ISPs and telcos to create large databases of information about who communicates with whom via our phones, the duration of the exchange, and the user’s location. Privacy risks increase as these databases become vulnerable to theft and accidental disclosure. Service providers must absorb the expense of storing and maintaining these large databases and often pass these costs onto consumers.

While there are serious crimes in Peru that deserve real attention by policy-makers including protecting victims of abuse, we must ensure that the measures the government takes to combat those crimes are effective and do not create a false sense of security.

On this point, Abel Revoredo an experienced Peruvian lawyer in Telecommunications, agreed that while the Stalker Law might have noble goals such as fighting crime, killings, extortions and kidnappings, “What is really being done here . . . risks our rights because [Ley Stalker] can not solve the bureaucratic problems in the relationship between two government institutions such as the judiciary and the police," he concluded in an interviewed by the Peruvian videoblogger Luis Carlos Burneor.

Next Steps

There is still time to repeal the bill. In a blogpost, Miguel Morachimo explained that according to the rules of Congress, the President is obliged to notify Congress of the legislative decrees and Congress is responsible to refer the case to the competent Congressional Commission. Then, “the Congressional Commission will have to submit an opinion to assess their conformity with the Constitution and the delegation of authority granted by Congress. If inconsistencies are found, the rules provides that the Commission may recommend to repeal or modify the Decree to correct the excess or the violation, notwithstanding the political accountability of members of the Cabinet,”

Peru cannot be alone in this fight. Every nation – from Europe to Paraguay – that rejects data retention, strengthens the arguments in favor of rejecting it globally. Every country that falls prey to data retention law, from Australia to Colombia, encourages other states to press for it in their own legislatures. It's a global fight, and one that will require solidarity and a global alliance against data retention to combat it. We need you. Join this fight against #leystalker.

References

Miguel Morachimo: Nueva norma permite a la Policía saber dónde está cualquier persona sin orden judicial (in Spanish)

Abel Revoredo on the Stalker Law: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k745w6GNAfs

International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, updated July 2014: https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/text

EFF, Article 19: Legal Analysis and Background Materials to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, May 2014: https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/LegalAnalysis

The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/DigitalAge/Pages/DigitalAgeIndex.aspx

Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right the privacy in the digital age: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session27/Documents/A.HRC.27.37_en.pdf

Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2013. Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/expression/docs/reports/2014_04_22_%20IA_2013_ENG%20_FINALweb.pdf

Human Rights Committee, General Comment 27, Freedom of movement (Art. 12), U.N. Doc CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9 (1999): http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrcom27.htm

UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, A/HRC/13/37UN

Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, A/HRC/23/40

Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data RetentionSurveillance and Human Rights
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Categories: Aggregated News

Israel's Genocidal War on Palestine Rages

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 03:37
Israel’s Genocidal War on Palestine Rages
by Stephen Lendman
Longstanding Israeli policy calls for maximum Jews and minimum Arabs - ideally eliminating them altogether by ethnic cleansing and slow-motion genocide.
Netanyahu and likeminded fascists are the leading exponents of extremist racism - much like Hitler’s final solution for an ethnically pure Aryan state cleansed of its unwanted people.
Israel wants a region of balkanized mini-states too impotent to contest its hegemonic dominance, partnered with America’s presence.
Daily events reveal Zionist viciousness. Most are largely ignored - especially in the West. On Sunday, Israeli soldiers kidnapped 21-year-old Majdi Al-Muhtaseb, beat him for no reason, and forced him to drink gasoline.
It’s toxic. Exposure through ingestion or inhaling can cause cancer and other health problems - including breathing difficulties, esophageal burning, abdominal abnormalities, vision loss, bloody stool, convulsions, unconsciousness and more.
Majdi was hospitalized with severe pains. His conditions is being evaluated.
Last Monday, Israel’s Ministerial Committee drafted a new so-called “anti-terrorism” law.  Palestinians defending their lawful rights are targeted.
The measure is expected to be approved in committee and after three Knesset readings. It expands the definition of “terrorist” organizations. Its members face imprisonment up to 25 years. Anyone providing financial, technical or other support can receive 15-year sentences. 
Torture has always been official Israeli policy. Knesset members legalized it by approving excruciating force-feeding for Palestinian hunger strikers.
The Orwellian titled Law to Prevent Harm of Hunger Strike flies in the face of core international humanitarian law and universally accepted medical ethics.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Director Raji Sourani commented, saying:
“Hunger strike is the last resort for a Palestinian prisoner. When all other means fail, a prisoner resorts to struggle using of his body cells and empty stomach in protest against inhuman detention conditions and to claim his legitimate rights as enshrined in international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law.” 
“This has become impossible after this latest amendment. (It’s approval) reflects the state of moral retrogression of Israel, which perpetrates violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law in cold blood with consent of state official bodies and the Knesset.”
UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment Juan Mendez said “(i)t is not acceptable to force-feed or use threats of force-feeding or other physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike to protest against their detention without charge and conditions of detention and treatment.”
“Feeding induced by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints are tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”
PLO Executive Committee official Hanan Ashrawi said “Israel is deliberately and willfully defying international consensus to create ‘Greater Israel’ on historical Palestine.” 
“With its rapid, intensive and overwhelming violations, Israel has gone completely out of control, and it is quantitatively making it impossible for the international community to pursue these violations systematically.”
On Sunday, Israeli forces again attacked Palestinian Al-Aqsa Mosque worshipers - to let about 30 extremist Jews enter the compound (where they don’t belong) under armed police escort.
The Palestinian Al Haq human rights group called the immolation of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha “emblematic of Israel’s settlement enterprise” and complicity with extremist settlers.
It said near-daily settler attacks on Palestinians reflect “institutionalized impunity” - authorities turning a blind eye to crimes demanding punishment.
Israeli police and Shin Bet security officials “identified a pattern of pre-dawn attempts to set Palestinian houses on fire, with the intent of burning it along with its inhabitants,” but did nothing to confront it, according to media reports said Al Haq.
These crimes have unofficial state sanctioning. Outrage expressed by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials belie their ethnic cleansing war on Palestine.
Al Haq quoted a UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission saying “the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand.”
Justice for Palestinians is incompatible with Israel’s lawless settlement enterprise - on stolen Palestinian land, expanding at the expense of forcibly displaced residents, punctuated by near-daily acts of security force and settler violence.
Life in Occupied Palestine reflects systematic Israeli state terror against an entire population. Each incident reveals the greater evil.
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. 

Assad Honors Syria's Army

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 03:17
Assad Honors Syria’s Army
by Stephen Lendman
It represents the land component of Syria’s armed forces - its dominant military branch engaged in a heroic struggle against US and Israeli imperialism.
Its origin dates from post-WW I - its modern incarnation since 1945. On July 31, Assad honored it on the 70th anniversary of its founding.
He expressed thanks for over four years of heroically defending the Syrian people and homeland against US recruited, armed, funded, trained and directed death squads sent cross-border to commit horrendous atrocities - to destabilize and topple his government, to continue endless violence and chaos. 
“Because you embodied an example in defending the homeland and preserving the integrity of its people, the Syrian people have stood side by side with you to repulse the aggressors and to express their pride in you,” Assad said.
He paid tribute to soldiers lost in battle, defending their homeland. He noted “every single drop of blood spilled to protect precious Syria. For all you have given and continue to give, we salute you.”
Last week, Syrian UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari called “fighting terrorism (a) necessary priority for Syria.” Damascus wants a “peaceful solution and settlement, to put an end to the terrorists flowing into Syria through controlling Syrian Turkish borders, and to pressure Israel to stop supporting terrorists on the Golan front.”
On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said no solution for his country is possible without combating and defeating terrorism - largely foreign imported elements causing immense hardships and misery for millions of Syrians.
Its military doesn’t fight its own people. It enjoys widespread popular support despite Western and regional claims otherwise.
It’s the glue holding the country together despite territory lost to terrorists benefitting from US, UK and Canadian air support. One soldier explained it this way, saying:
Syrians “love the army…And when we liberate them, they are very happy. They go out from their homes…Its just like standing in a stadium or something and you score a goal and everyone is cheering you…” 
“Its so great and you feel great and honorable when people…come outside to cheer you…They throw flowers at you. They give you bread. They give you water. 
They are poor people and still they give…That’s Syrian style. I want to tell you this. Every time the (so-called) ‘Free Army’ liberates someplace…no people cheer (them) on streets. They stay in their houses. They are afraid. They don’t go out.”
The battle for Syria’s soul continues. Washington wants its independent government replaced. Israel wants a regional rival removed, Iran kept isolated and its sovereignty eliminated by color revolution or war. Imperial ruthlessness works this 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. 

Joe Biden to Challenge Hillary?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/08/2015 - 00:13
Joe Biden to Challenge Hillary?
by Stephen Lendman
The New York Times reports Biden is “actively explor(ing) a possible presidential campaign” - according to sources close to the vice president or his advisors.
They’ve “grown concerned about (Hillary’s) increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate.” Times columnist Maureen Dowd said Biden is holding meetings at home, “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge her in Iowa and New Hampshire - the first two primary states.
She has lots of troubling baggage. A July 30 Quinnipiac poll showed 57% of voters don’t trust her for good reason. Over half said she doesn’t care about their interests.
In contrast, Biden registered a 49% favorability rating - his highest in seven years, said The Times. He scored 58% in trustworthiness, and 57% of respondents believe he cares about people needs.
The Times cited unnamed “confidants” saying they expect he’ll decide in September whether or not to run. He hasn’t said he won’t.
Two previous tries failed. Friends say becoming president “is his ultimate dream,” said The Times.
In 1988, his campaign ended after reports of exaggerating his poor academic record and plagiarizing a law review article while at Syracuse University College of Law, as well as using content of others’ speeches for his own without attribution.
In 2008, he dropped his presidential bid after getting less than 1% support in Iowa caucuses. Obama chose him as his running mate - again in 2012.
The Times said Biden’s relationship with Hillary Clinton is “cordial and warm. But (he) clashed with (Bill during his tenure), and his (dealings) with Mrs. Clinton ha(ve) not been without awkwardness.”
The Times cited an unnamed Democrat party donor “with direct knowledge” of possible Biden plans saying he’d “position himself in the race, delivering an economic message to the left of Mrs. Clinton’s while embracing Obama administration policies.”
He’s a former Delaware senator (1973 - 2009) - part of the same deeply corrupted, money-controlled system ruling America from inception.
He’s no populist. Dirty business as usual would continue on his watch. The same way all other Democrat and Republican aspirants would govern - including endless wars, confronting Russia recklessly, supporting many of the world’s most ruthless despots, serving monied interests over popular ones, unflinching support for Israel’s worst crimes, and cracking down hard on resistance for equity and justice.
Biden backed Bush wars on Afghanistan and Iraq - Obama’s on Libya, Syria, Donbass and Yemen. He voted for the Patriot Act, renewing it and other police state laws.
He backed legislation making it harder for ordinary people to declare bankruptcy - to keep credit card companies and other corporate interests from getting stuck with unrepayable debt. 
He’s a vocal war on drugs supporter - a de facto war on Black and Brown people, imprisoning them en masse for what responsible societies at most would consider an insignificant misdemeanor never warranting incarceration.
He’s a get-tough-on-crime advocate overall - on the streets, not corporate suites where it matters most. 
Perhaps he’s well suited for the nation’s top job - intellectually lacking, unimpressive during his Senate years, and notorious for gaffs.
One observer said his “mouth out-runs his brain” at times. Critics accuse him of foot-in-mouth disease. His rhetoric outruns his sensibility. He’s a reliable spear-carrier for US imperial interests. He’s notoriously anti-populist. 
His purported folksiness conceals his indifference to human needs and rights. A Biden presidency would assure the same dead end for ordinary Americans as all other Republican and Democrat 2016 candidates - not a people’s aspirant in the bunch.
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. 

Syria's Refugee Crisis Just Got Worse

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 19:30
Syria’s Refugee Crisis Just Got Worse
by Stephen Lendman
US wars on humanity caused the gravest refugee crisis since WW II - millions displaced, mostly victims of imperial conflicts and chaos, suffering hugely, many perishing from deprivation, an appalling high crime too horrific to ignore.
How do displaced people cope with limited access to nutritious food, at times any, inadequate or no medical care, lack of education for children and other essentials? 
How do they survive? How can anyone not experiencing their suffering imagine life in hellhole refugee camps or displacement on their own without minimal lifelines?
Nearly half of Syria’s 23 million people are imperial war victims - displaced by violence (internally or abroad), fleeing for their lives to unknown destinies. Many perhaps running out of time, minimal resources, energy and will to go on.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. There’s nothing civil about war in Syria. Obama planned and launched it to topple its government, destroy its sovereignty, and install pro-Western stooges - using proxy Islamic State and other takfiri terrorists to do his dirty work, supplemented by US bombing Syria’s infrastructure on the phony pretext of waging war on IS.
Millions of adversely affected Syrians are considered a small price to pay - including hundreds of thousands killed, many more wounded, an entire population traumatized by US state terror. Imperial arrogance has no limits.
In early July, the World Food Program (WFP) announced major cuts in food assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan because of inadequate funding.
“Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, we are forced yet again to make yet more cuts,” Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe explained. 
“Refugees were already struggling to cope with what little we could provide.” Now they’ll get much less - around half what they got before.
In Lebanon, food vouchers were cut to $13.50 per person monthly - less than 50 cents a day to survive, not enough for single bare bones meal in pre-war Syria.
WFP said without enough funding in August, it’ll suspend all aid to around 440,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan living outside camps.
Its regional refugee operations are currently over 80% underfunded. An immediate $139 million is needed to continue feeding desperate refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt through September alone.
Inadequate resources forced major cutbacks in aid afforded around 1.6 million Syrian refugees in five countries.
“We are extremely concerned about the impact these cuts will have on refugees and the countries that host them,” Hadi stressed. 
“Families are taking extreme measures to cope such as pulling their children out of school, skipping meals and getting into debt to survive. The long-term effects of this could be devastating.”
Contributions from governments and other sources don’t keep pace with growing needs. WFP tries providing aid for around 80 million people in 75 countries.
In June, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said wars and persecution “forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere” - around 60 million at yearend 2014, numbers increasing daily, overall about a 50% increase since 2005.
In July 2015, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated nearly 1.3 million internally displaced Yemenis. Many more fled abroad.
UNHCR called displacement unprecedented, the highest level ever recorded. One in every 122 people is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
If they comprised the population of one country, it would be the world’s 24th largest. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said: 
“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.”
UNHCR said war in Syria is currently “the world’s single largest driver of (internal and external) displacement. An astonishing 42,500 people became refugees, internally displaced or asylum seekers daily on average last year - a four-fold increase since 2011.
“It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace," Guterres explained.
One of the most visible consequences of imperial wars is the dramatic increase in refugees risking life and limb to reach safe havens in Western countries, mainly European ones. Other cross borders to neighboring nations.
Half are children, many too young to understand the turmoil affecting them. Numbers of desperate people grow while aid provided declines. The world’s most needy people are increasingly abandoned. 
Washington and rogue allies responsible for global conflicts and chaos don’t give a damn if they perish from starvation, untreated diseases or overall deprivation.
The price of imperial arrogance is horrendous human suffering, deprivation and death - millions of nameless, faceless people affected.
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. 

Perú Adopta por Decreto la Retención de Datos: La Información de Localización No Estará Protegida

eff.org - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 09:30

El Presidente de Perú Ollanta Humala firmó el pasado 27 de julio el Decreto Legislativo 1182 que permite a la policía accede sin órden judicial y en tiempo real a los datos de localización de manera 24/7. Pero eso no la peor parte del decreto: obliga a los proveedores de telecomunicaciones, por un año, a retener los datos sobre quién se comunica con quién, por cuánto tiempo, y desde dónde. También permite a las autoridades acceder a los datos al instante y en línea por de siete días después de emitida una orden judicial. Además, las compañías de telecomunicaciones deberán mantener esos datos por 24 meses adicionales en sistemas de almacenamiento electrónico. Para colmo, el decreto cita erróneamente que los datos de localización están “excluidos” de la privacidad de las comunicaciones, garantizada en la Constitución peruana.

El decreto fue aprobado sin consulta pública alguna por parte del Poder Ejecutivo, sobre la base de un mandato del Congreso peruano de legislar en seguridad pública y la lucha contra el crimen. Llamativamente, el decreto fue publicado un día antes de la celebración de la independencia del Perú, una serie de festejos que coinciden con las vacaciones en la mayoría de las escuelas locales y empresas.

En respuesta a la aprobación del decreto, el director de la ONG peruana Hiperderecho y experto en derechos digitales, Miguel Morachimo, comentó a EFF:

Este decreto crea un claro error: asumiendo que la los datos de geolocalización de los teléfonos móviles no son protegidos por las salvaguardas de privacidad de la Constitución del Perú, el gobierno levanta toda clase de protección para estos datos y otorga acceso irrestricto a la policía y obliga a las ISPs a retener datos de comunicaciones por hasta casi tres años. Una política de ese tipo es controversial en sí, pero el hecho que fuera aprobada directamente por el Poder Ejecutivo sin un debate previo y en medio de un feriado nacional es especialmente antidemocrática.

El Decreto Legislativo tiene un significativo potencial para el abuso de su nuevas facultades. Ignora el hecho de que la mayoría de los teléfonos móviles de la actualidad constantemente transmiten una localización detallada de cada individuo a las compañías de telefonía, y que esa localización está centralizada en un solo lugar con el proveedor del servicio. La policía tendrá acceso a unos datos más precisos, más amplios y más indiscretos que nunca habrían sido posibles con la interceptación del contenido de las comunicaciones. El gobierno peruano debió haber sido más sensible al hecho de que las compañías de telecomunicaciones están registrando huellas detalladas de nuestra vida cotidiana.

Normas Internacionales en Derechos Humanos

Al establecer que los datos de localización están excluidos de las garantías constitucionales de privacidad de las comunicaciones en Perú, el Decreto Parlamentario contradice las normas internacionales en derechos humanos.

Respecto a la cuestión de si los metadatos de las comunicaciones están protegidos por el derecho a la privacidad, la decisión de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en el caso Escher v. Brasil pone de manifiesto que tanto el contenido y los metadatos están protegidos:

“[El derecho a la privacidad] se aplica a las conversaciones telefónicas independientemente de su contenido e incluso, puede comprender tanto las operaciones técnicas dirigidas a registrar ese contenido, mediante su grabación y escucha, como cualquier otro elemento del proceso comunicativo mismo, por ejemplo, el destino de las llamadas que salen o el origen de las que ingresan, la identidad de los interlocutores, la frecuencia, hora y duración de las llamadas, aspectos que pueden ser constatados sin necesidad de registrar el contenido de la llamada mediante la grabación de las conversaciones. En definitiva, la protección a la vida privada se concreta en el derecho a que sujetos distintos de los interlocutores no conozcan ilícitamente el contenido de las conversaciones telefónicas o de otros aspectos, como los ya mencionados, propios del proceso de comunicación.”

Asimismo, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, en su reporte 2014 (A/HRC/27/37 – DOC) hizo énfasis en el derecho a la privacidad en la era digital:

19. [...] se ha sugerido que la interceptación o la recopilación de datos acerca de una comunicación, en contraposición al contenido de la comunicación, no constituyen en sí mismas una injerencia en la vida privada. Desde el punto de vista del derecho a la privacidad, esa distinción no es convincente. La agregación de la información comúnmente conocida como "metadatos" puede incluso dar una mejor idea del comportamiento, las relaciones sociales, las preferencias privadas y la identidad de una persona que la información obtenida accediendo al contenido de una comunicación privada [...].

20. Por todo ello, toda captura de datos de las comunicaciones es potencialmente una injerencia en la vida privada y, además, la recopilación y conservación de datos de las comunicaciones equivale a una injerencia en la vida privada, independientemente de si posteriormente se consultan o utilizan esos datos. Incluso la mera posibilidad de que pueda captarse información de las comunicaciones crea una injerencia en la vida privada y puede tener un efecto negativo en derechos como los relativos a la libertad de expresión y de asociación. La mera existencia de un programa de vigilancia en masa crea, por lo tanto, una injerencia en la privacidad.

Los encargados de las políticas deben entender que la adopción de amplios poderes de vigilancias menoscaba la privacidad y la seguridad de los ciudadanos, y es por ello incompatible con sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de derechos humanos. Para que sea legal cualquier medida de vigilancia bajo los estándares internacional de derechos humanos, debe estar prescrito por la ley. Debe ser “necesaria” para lograr un fin legítimo y “proporcional” a ese propósito deseado. Este requerimiento es importante para asegurar que los gobiernos no adoptan medidas de vigilancia que amenacen los fundamentos de una sociedad democrática.

En particular, los Trece Principios de Necesidad y Proporcionalidad, y la ley internacional de derechos humanos en general, se basan en la presunción  que las injerencias a los derechos fundamentales deben ser resueltos en una base de caso por caso. En este contexto, los mandatos de retención de datos, por su propia naturaleza, erradican cualquier consideración de proporcionalidad y debido proceso en favor de la interferencia indiscriminada al derecho de privacidad, y no podrían ser compatibles con las obligaciones en derechos humanos de los Estados. Perú debe retroceder en el sendero sin salida de la retención de datos obligatoria, y cumplir con sus obligaciones internacionales en derechos humanos.

Visualizando La Localización

Mientras tanto, los ciudadanos de Perú deben considerar solicitar el acceso a los propios datos personales retenidos por sus compañías de telefonía de acuerdo a la ley peruana de Protección de Datos. En Alemania, el político y defensor de la privacidad Malte Spitz aprovechó una ley similar de protección de datos, que como en muchos países de Europa, otorga a los individuos la facultad de saber qué tipo de datos sobre ellos almacenan las compañías privadas, y con ello obligar a su proveedora de telefonía a revelar qué registros que tenían sobre él. Spitz recibió 35,831 registros distintos sobre su uso del teléfono celular en un periodo de seis meses, que significa vasta información personal. Para demostrar cuán intrusivo son estos datos, Spitz eligió mostrarlo al público. Si todavía no lo ha hecho, vea este increíble mapa interactivo de los datos de localización de Spitz.

Es tiempo de instruir a todos nuestros legisladores y al público en general que los datos sensibles necesitan de una fuerte protección legal, no un pase de acceso libre. Esperamos que los defensores de derechos humanos del Perú evalúen todas las opciones legales para impugnar la legalidad de esta medida. EFF continuará reportando sobre la vigilancia móvil y en línea en Perú, y profundizar sobre el Decreto Legislativo con más análisis en los próximos días.

Más información: Nueva norma permite a la Policía saber dónde está cualquier persona sin orden judicial (Hiperderecho).

Related Issues: Mandatory Data RetentionSurveillance and Human RightsPrivacy
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Categories: Aggregated News

TPP Ministerial Deadlock

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 04:43
TPP Ministerial Deadlock
by Stephen Lendman
Friday’s fourth/dubbed “final” ministerial attempt to reach agreement failed. Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach called it a “Maui (Hawaii) meltdown.” 
Congress went on five-week summer recess with lots of unfinished business awaiting members in September - notably the Iran nuclear deal and 12 annual spending bills.
Wallach expects no 2015 congressional action on TPP - especially with other nations disagreeing on key provisions still unresolved. She believes chances for agreement are reduced because of “opposition building in many countries.”
“It’s good news for people and the planet that no deal was done at this final do-or-die meeting given the TPP’s threats to jobs, wages, safe food, affordable medicines and more, she explained. 
“Only the beleaguered negotiators and most of the 600 official US trade advisors representing corporate interests wanted this deal…” Polls show it’s unpopular in countries involved for good reason. 
It’s hugely anti-consumer/anti-environment. It’s a trade deal only corporate predators would love - along with government bureaucrats and other officials doing their bidding.
Ministerial disagreement is prelude to strong opposition once congressional members and the public see specific provisions adversely affecting their lives and welfare.
“Given the damaging impacts that some TPP proposals could have for many people, it’s not surprising that the same set of issues including investor-state dispute resolution and medicine patents as well as market access issues like sugar, dairy, and rules-of-origin on manufactured goods like autos remain deadlocked given they will determine whether a final pact is politically viable in various TPP countries,” Wallach explained.
Twenty-eight House Democrats backed Fast Track authority to ram TPP through Congress with minimal debate and no amendments. Many said their continued support depends on provisions mandating strong enforceable labor and environmental standards along with no changes in access to medicines by patent regulatory changes - standards TPP doesn’t meet.
The Financial Times called failure in Maui a “major blow…potentially complicating further the politics of an already controversial project.”
Days of Maui ministerial discussions were billed as a final negotiating round. Lots of disagreements remain - including market access for dairy products, autos and sugar, intellectual property rules, patents on pharmaceuticals and environmental concerns.
After five years of on-and-off negotiations, much remains unresolved. US Trade Representative Michael Froman put on a brave face saying “(w)e are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach.”
The timing of another meeting is uncertain - perhaps not until late this year when presidential politics heats up and Congress is pressured near yearend to resolve spending and other key issues before adjourning. 
The Wall Street Journal said “deep differences” remain. Whether resolvable so far is uncertain.
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. 

Hillary Clinton's Scandalous Record

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 03:10
Hillary Clinton’s Scandalous Record
by Stephen Lendman
Kathleen Willey is a former White House volunteer. She said Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her during his first term in office - in his Oval Office private study.
She created “A Scandal a day” web site. Her book titled “Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton” became a best seller.
Willey created her web site to alert Americans about “the potential danger of Hillary Clinton becoming president.” Among an array of rogue presidential aspirants, she stands out as especially abhorrent - a menace to world peace, stability and security as well as what remains of homeland freedoms.
Perhaps scandals haunting her will derail her presidential ambitions. The Wall Street Journal revealed another one, headlining “UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Ties.”
In return for intervening on behalf of Swiss banking giant UBS in a case involving an IRS suit seeking identities of Americans with secret accounts believed to be possible tax cheats, the Clinton Foundation got “large contributions…and a fat paycheck for Bill Clinton to participate in question-and-answer session(s) with” top bank officials - a clear conflict of interest.
The IRS wanted names of 52,000 accounts. Clinton got the number reduced to 4,450. UBS contributions to her foundation increased from less than $60,000 in 2008 to about $600,000 by yearend 2014.
It loaned a foundation initiative “to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city programs” $32 million. It paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million for a series of private Q & A sessions.
Hillary’s involvement with UBS “is a prime example of how (she and husband Bill’s) private and political activities,” perhaps cross the line - potentially illegally, said the Journal. 
“UBS is just one of a series of companies that engaged with both the Clinton family’s charitable organization and the State Department under Mrs. Clinton.” In this case, she intervened on behalf of a foreign bank, “not a popular constituency among Democrats.”
Mixing foundation contributions with fundraising reflects a disturbing Clinton family practice - selling influence for huge sums.
Law Professor Lawrence Lessig said they “engaged in behavior to make people wonder: What was this about?” What other than what’s been revealed.
UBS officials lied claiming no connection between their IRS case and foundation donations. along with lucrative sums to husband Bill. A Swiss embassy in Washington spokeswoman declined comment.
In May 2008, former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld was indicted for arranging “fictitious trusts and bogus corporations to conceal the ownership and control of offshore assets. (He) advised clients to destroy bank records and helped them file false tax returns…”
In January 2010, he began serving a three-year, four-month sentence for blowing the whistle on one of the largest tax fraud schemes in US history.
He was the first insider ever to explain the secretive world of Swiss banking. He said 90% of his UBS clients were tax cheats. Senior bank officials ignored criminality for profits.
Birkenfeld said he exposed 19,000 international criminals with accounts worth over $19 billion.
“The disclosure led UBS to enter into a deferred-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department in 2009,” said the Journal. 
“The bank admitted to helping set up sham companies, creating phony paperwork and deceiving customs officials. It paid a $780 million fine and turned over the names of 250 account holders.”
Another 52,000 accounts worth $18 billion remained secret in a dispute with the IRS. Clinton’s role in resolving things was more extensive than earlier reported. She got involved at least in part over “separate diplomatic concerns,” said the Journal.
She met with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey. Switzerland’s Tehran embassy represented US interests since 1979. Iranian issues were discussed - including a jailed US journalist, the Swiss energy consulting company Colenco allegedly violating US sanctions, and so-called “low-risk” Guantanamo detainees Clinton wanted Switzerland to take.
Its government responded to her concerns favorably. Out-of-court negotiations to settle the UBS case resolved it. Clinton pressure was apparently heavy-handed. Calmy-Rey said the US-Swiss relationship was at stake.
On Friday, a deal in principle was announced at the State Department. The Justice Department and IRS dropped the lawsuit, settling things under a US-Swiss treaty. UBS agreed to reveal names of only 4,450 of 52,000 secret accounts.
Calmy-Rey called resolution a “Peace Treaty.” UBS was pleased. So were thousands of US tax cheats. Large sums of bank cash flowed to the Clintons for services rendered.
Former Justice Department lawyer Stu Gibson in charge of prosecuting UBS said the process leading to resolution “raises questions that need to be addressed, or should be addressed.” If the Clintons violated US laws, accountability should follow.
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. 

America's Sham Democracy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 23:43
America’s Sham Democracy
by Stephen Lendman
America’s political season never ends - a monied interest-driven perpetual electoral cycle too corrupted to fix. Voters are deluded to think they matter. They have no say whatever. 
Duopoly power rules. Powerful interests decide everything. Democrats and Republicans are virtual clones of each other, differences between them too minor to matter on issues mattering most.
Co-founder of the Industrial Workers of America (the Wobblies) and five-time presidential candidate (first as a Democrat, later the nation’s most prominent Socialist) Eugene Debs (1855 - 1926) once said:
“The differences between the Republican and Democratic parties involve no issue, no principle in which the working class has any interest.”
Politicians breach campaign pledges when elected. Ignore what they say on the stump. Follow only what they do.
All announced presidential aspirants march to the same drummer - not a dime’s worth of difference among them on major issues, including war and peace, corporate empowerment, social injustice and hardline crackdowns on nonbelievers.
Bernie Sanders was the only overt Senate supporter for universal healthcare. When it mattered most, he voted with Democrats for Obamacare. 
His no vote would have killed what Ralph Nader calls a "pay or die" system - a rationing scheme benefitting insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.
The problem with Sanders is his rhetoric belies his record. He votes 98% of the time with Senate Democrats - supporting many policies he publicly rejects.
He'll back war goddess/corporate shill/anti-populist Hillary Clinton if she's nominated. "Maybe I shouldn't say this: I like Hillary Clinton," he said.
He refuses to attack her appalling record as senator, secretary of state, and influence-peddling worth tens of millions of dollars for the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation. When asked if he'll support the Democrat party nominee, he said: "Yes. I have in the past." 
He refuses to run as an independent. "(A)bsolutely not," he said. "I've been very clear about that." Instead of challenging America’s corrupt duopoly, he’s part of it like all the rest. In his case, a rhetorical populist, concealing a hardcore business as usual agenda.
Previous articles said 2016 presidential aspirants from both parties look more like an FBI most wanted list - a rogue bunch no different from Bush and Obama or maybe worse.
No matter who’s elected president or to key congressional posts next November, endless imperial wars will continue, whatever Wall Street wants it’ll get, other corporate favoritism will continue at the expense of social justice, and police state toughness will crack down as needed.
A Sanders presidency assures business as usual. He says one thing and does another. He’s been a phony populist throughout his political career. Ralph Nader once called him a loner, unwilling to work with civic groups on issues he claims to support.
As Burlington, VT mayor in the 1980s, he reassured monied interests saying “I’m not going to war with the city’s financial and business community, and I know there is little I can do from City Hall” to change things.
He supported business interests at the expense of ordinary people he pledged to serve. In Congress, he backed lawless Iraq sanctions responsible for the death of around 1.5 million people (mostly young children) and Clinton’s rape of Yugoslavia.
In 2001, he supported unlimited Authorization for the Use of Military Force - the green light for endless phony “war on terror” aggression against one country after another.
Though rhetorically against Bush’s Iraq war, he voted for the March 21, 2003 resolution stating:
“Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the nation to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism."
He supported Afghanistan and Iraq occupations, saying “I don’t think you can do (an) immediate withdrawal…I don’t think that’s practical.”
He opposed impeaching Bush and Obama - despite their horrendous war crimes demanding accountability. 
He unapologetically supports Israeli criminality - including last summer’s Gaza war, a bandit act of naked aggression. He opposes Palestinian statehood based on pre-1967 borders - 22% of historic Palestine.
He backed the 2006 Iran Freedom Support Act - authorizing funding for groups wanting Tehran’s sovereign independence replaced by pro-Western stooge governance.
He voted for the 2014 Ukraine Freedom Support Act - authorizing lethal and other aid for the US-installed, Nazi-infested coup d’etat junta masquerading as legitimate governance. The regime continues waging war on its own people while committing horrendous human rights abuses against anyone resisting its tyranny.
He supports prosecuting Edward Snowden for connecting important dots for millions about lawless NSA spying - while calling information he revealed “extremely important.”
He’s anti-immigrant. He wants federal visas restricted or suspended. He pretends it’s to protect US jobs.
He’s a hardcore Democrat party member - calling himself independent or socialist is rhetorical deception to enlist popular support.
The race for the White House in 2017 involves all candidates from both parties supporting a race to the bottom for ordinary Americans - along with no letup in endless wars. Next November, vote independent or stay home.
A Final Comment
Candidate Sanders again rhetorically backs universal healthcare. “The time has come to say that we need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single-payer, national healthcare program,” he said.
It’s a fundamental human right. So why did Sanders vote for a corporate-run system - excluding millions, overcharging, making it unaffordable for millions more, and making America’s dysfunctional system worse? 
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Israeli State Terror Without Mercy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 20:02
Israeli State Terror Without Mercy
by Stephen Lendman
Daily state-sponsored terror against millions of Palestinians is official Israeli policy - settler violence and vandalism an extension of how soldiers, police and other security forces ruthlessly abuse them.
The vast majority of incidents go reported - nor pain and suffering of people deserving better, terrorized by a brutal occupying force, stealing their land, denying them all rights, cracking down hard on legitimate resistance.
The immolation of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha by soldier-protected settlers shows why no Palestinians are safe from Israel’s murder and mayhem regime - a terror machine masquerading as democratic governance.
In July 2014, settlers abducted Mohammed Abu Khdeir. They burned him alive the way 18-month-old Ali died. 
His father Hussein said “(t)he Israeli government is too lenient and strengthens these racist criminals. We feel our son was murdered all over again. (Israel) doesn’t want peace.” It wants endless violence and chaos.
Settlers commit crimes against Palestinians and their property with full state support and encouragement. Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights reports over 85% of investigations of settler crimes against Palestinian are closed for lack of “sufficient evidence to enable indictment.”
They follow a scant 7% of incidents. One third of legal proceedings exonerate settlers - fully or partially. Less than 2% of complaints filed by Palestinians lead to convictions. Settlers have near immunity to abuse them any way they wish.
So do soldiers, police and other Israeli security forces. High crimes they commit against Palestinians rarely ever lead to prosecutions and convictions.
Two years after Operation Cast Lead (Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009), only four Israeli soldiers faced criminal charges - two for credit card fraud, two others for using a nine-year-old boy as a human shield. None for cold-blooded murder.
The defrauders alone got short-term prison sentences and early releases - the others suspended sentences. In late January 2011, an Israeli military court declined to incarcerate Lt. Col. Omri Burberg - despite his conviction for murdering a shackled and blindfolded Palestinian detainee.
Israeli soldiers and commanders responsible for killing, wounding or otherwise harming Palestinians are promoted and decorated for their criminality.
Peaceful protesters are attacked with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets and at times live fire - for exercising their legitimate right to demand justice.
Children are murdered for stone throwing - trigger-happy soldiers shoot to kill with impunity. Justice is systematically denied. Police state lawlessness prevails.
Friday incidents alone included soldiers lethally shooting 17-year-old Laith al-Khaldi near a Ramallah military checkpoint. Two surgeries couldn’t save him.
Two Gazans were shot for walking too close to Israel’s lawlessly imposed buffer zone on Palestinian land. They threatened no one. 17-year-old Mohammad Hamid al-Masri died instantly.
In the past two weeks alone, Israeli forces opened fire on nonthreatening Gazans 23 times - for approaching too close to the so-called security zone.
On Friday, thousands of Palestinians publicly mourned 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha’s death by immolation. His charred body beyond recognition was wrapped in a Palestinian flag.
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces after Friday prayers. Hamas called for a “day of rage” across Palestine. Spokesman Abd al-Rahman posted a Facebook call for action, saying:
“We ask our sons in the West Bank to stand vociferously against these crimes and to respond to the occupation with whatever means are at hand.” He urged mass “Friday of Anger” protests.
Another Hamas spokesman, Husam Badran, said this “crime makes legitimate targets out of Israeli soldiers and settlers for the resistance everywhere.” 
Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees called for a “revolution of anger” across Palestine - adding Israel can only be stopped by force.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) urged “escalate(d) resistance” against Israel.
In January 2013, the UN International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory published damning findings.
They revealed multiple international law violations. Settlements compromise fundamental Palestinian human rights.  
Violations are “interrelated.” They comprise “part of an overall pattern of breaches.”
They're “characterized principally by the denial of the right to self-determination and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian people which occur on a daily basis.”
“Since 1967, Israeli governments have openly led, directly participated in, and had full control of the planning, construction, development, consolidation and encouragement of settlements.”
UN Mission findings included violating Fourth Geneva's Article 49.
It prohibits “(i)ndividuals or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, regardless of their motive.”
The Mission said “Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions.” They benefit Jews exclusively. They institutionalize racist segregation. Military occupation enforces policies contrary to international law.
“The Mission notes that despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation, the planning and growth of the settlements continues both of existing as well as new structures.”
It called for settlement activities halted without preconditions - “immediately initiat(ing) a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.”
It urged companies and governments to “assess the human rights impact of their activities” - calling on them to “cease all connections to settlements.”
It suggested possible imposition of economic and political sanctions. With Washington's support, Israel remains unpunished for its high crimes.
Decades of occupation harshness terrorize Palestinians systematically - part of Israel’s longstanding ethnic cleansing and slow-motion genocide agenda for maximum Jews and minimum Arabs throughout historic Palestine. 
Unrelenting committed resistance against appalling injustice is the only chance for liberation. Nothing else can work.
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. 

StageFright: Android's Heart of Darkness

eff.org - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 09:01

Earlier this week researchers with Zimperium Mobile Security announced that they had found a scary new vulnerability deep in the code that Android phones and tablets use to handle multimedia.

The code and the vulnerability are called StageFright. The researchers discovered that by sending a text message containing a specially crafted audio or video file they could execute arbitrary code on the victim's phone. Zimperium estimates that in 50% of cases the user wouldn't even have to open the text message for the exploit to work. In the other 50%, the exploit runs as soon as the user opens the message containing the malicious content. According to Zimperium, this vulnerability affects any Android device running version 2.2 or above regardless of manufacturer, which accounts for nearly every android phone in existence (95% according to Zimperium).

Unfortunately, Zimperium was very guarded about the details of the attack and, even more concerning, how to prevent it. Only on Thursday did Zimperium finally release further details about the exploit and what could be done to mitigate the risk, after admitting that they had talked to other security companies and believed that StageFright is now being exploited in the wild.

According to Zimperium, an attacker taking advantage of this exploit could gain either media or system privileges on the users phone. With media privileges the attacker could take video of their target, record audio, or listen to phone calls. They could also potentially root the victim's phone and do a lot more. With system privileges the attacker could do almost anything on the victim's phone.

How to protect yourself from StageFright

Fortunately there are some steps users can take to protect themselves from this vulnerability. The two best ways to protect yourself are to disable MMS messaging in your android device and make sure you install the latest updates for your phone. The steps needed to disable MMS messaging depend on which software you are using.

Disable MMS in Hangouts and the Default Messaging application

Steps to disable MMS in these applications can be found on Zimperium's blog post.

TextSecure

TextSecure users may be in luck! According to Moxie, founder of Whisper Systems (the company which makes TextSecure) “We don't do any pre-processing that involves stagefright....you'd have to physically tap on the media and then click through a warning about playing media insecurely before stagefright got involved.”

So if you have Textsecure installed you might be safe as long as you don't click any media messages.

Other texting apps

For other texting applications you should disable MMS messages and not view any audio or video messages that arrive, if at all possible. A quick Internet search should turn up the instructions you need.

Keep your phone up to date

Of course there may be other vectors to trigger the StageFright vulnerability that we don't yet know about. Just turning off MMS messaging might not be enough. The best way to protect your phone would be to keep it up to date with all of the latest security patches. Unfortunately, keeping your phone up to date, however, might turn out to be a bit trickier than you expect. Zimperium did tell Google about this vulnerability weeks before they announced it, and there is already a patch for the latest Android devices. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of Android devices will receive that patch in a timely manner. Some devices could take months or years to receive the patch, if they ever do at all.

This is due to a problem known as fragmentation, in which mobile phone manufacturers frequently modify the Android operating system however they like before putting it on a device to sell. As a result, any security patch has to be specially adapted (or at least vetted) by the phone manufacturer before it can be sent out to the manufacturer's phones. This is a huge problems for Android users, since phone manufacturers take a long time to review and release security patches, if they do at all. In fact, a phone you bought just a year ago may never receive patches for massive security problems such as StageFright.

Fragmentation also has socioeconomic implications. Older and cheaper phones tend to run older versions of the Android operating system, and vendors often give up supporting them or updating the software running on them. On the other hand newer and more expensive phones tend to receive updates faster and more reliably (especially Google Nexus devices). This results in a situation where those who can't afford top end phones are left vulnerable to massive security issues, potentially for years, while those who can afford a top end phone can be assured that they will be protected in a timely manner.

In the end, it is Google that needs to fix this issue. Google has already taken some steps to try to solve the fragmentation problem, such as moving some core Android functionality into Google Play Services which can easily be updated, and requiring manufacturers to use newer versions of the operating system when they build a device. While these changes may help Google solve some aspects of the fragmentation problem, it does not help patch core operating system issues, such as StageFright. It is commendable that a patch has been released for StageFright so quickly. Now it is the responsibility of Google and device manufacturers to ensure that this patch is made available to every Android user, old phone or new.  

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Hollow Israeli Sorrow Over Palestinian Baby Immolation by Settlers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 03:55
Hollow Israeli Sorrow Over Palestinian Baby Immolation by Settlers
by Stephen Lendman
Israeli officials throughout its history consistently showed contempt for Palestinian rights - from Ben-Gurion to Allon to Meir to Begin to Rabin to Peres to Sharon to Netanyahu and others, an array of rogue leaders, not a democrat in the bunch.
All believed in affording rights solely to Jews. None supported fundamental fairness. All committed high crimes against defenseless Palestinians - from Ben-Gurion’s Nakba to Netanyahu’s Protective Edge along with decades of racist persecution from 1948 through today - horrific barbarism against an entire population, flagrantly violating international law unaccountably.
Netanyahu’s “shock” over 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha’s immolation by settlers belies his reign of terror on Palestine, his genocidal Gaza war last summer, his daily persecution of millions of Palestinian victims, his contempt for the rule of law.
IDF spokesman Moti Amoz ludicrously said “I cannot recall such a serious incident in the past few years.”
What about deliberately targeting Gazan civilians during Operation Protective Edge, murdering scores of entire families in cold blood, reducing residential communities to rubble, ordering soldiers to shoot to kill all Palestinians in sight - including women, young children, infants as they slept, the elderly and infirm.
What about attacking refugee camps, UN safe havens, hospitals, schools, mosques, residential homes and numerous other civilian targets unrelated to military necessity.
What about teaching young Jewish children to hate Arabs - manipulating their minds when they’re too young to understand.
What about a nation facing no threats mobilized for war at all times. What about soldiers rampaging daily through Palestinian communities, breaking into homes pre-dawn, terrorizing families, traumatizing children, vandalizing property, making lawless arrests followed by brutal interrogations amounting to torture, then detention without right to counsel or family contacts for days or weeks, including for devastated young children.
What about a racist rogue terror state exceeding South African apartheid viciousness. What about Palestine a virtual free-fire zone - soldiers and other security forces brutalizing and killing with impunity.
Opposition Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called baby Ali’s immolation “terror of the worst kind.” What about Israeli mass murder last summer for 51 horrifying days, affecting 1.8 million trapped Gazans.
Israel is its own worst enemy. An accompanying article said regular settler crimes are a microcosm of issues of far greater consequence - reflected in daily state sponsored terrorism against millions of defenseless Palestinians.
They’re persecuted, beaten, and murdered for protesting peacefully for rights everyone deserves. They’re targeted for the crime of “fishing.” They’re shot tilling their fields.
Young children are terrorized at home, at play or coming from or going to school. They’re arrested and now face up to 20 years in prison for the crime of stone-throwing. They’re killed or wounded by trigger-happy soldiers with impunity.
International leaders able to intervene responsibly yawn and do nothing - endorsing Israeli atrocities by silence or inaction.
Nations mobilized for war at all times, waging them constantly, persecuting their own people and others, showing contempt for rule of law principles, and serving its privileged few at the expense of all others are doomed to fail.
America and Israel are Exhibits A and B - partners in horrific crimes of war and against humanity. Their day of reckoning awaits.
The late Chalmers Johnson warned about “the sorrows of empire,” a culture of corruption and militarism, endless wars of aggression called humanitarian ones, collapse of constitutional governance, a nation run by criminals posing as democrats, a phony war on terror not ending in our lifetime.
An unavoidable day of reckoning awaits. Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance and punisher of hubris and arrogance in Greek mythology is among us, he said.
She’s unseen, patiently stalking our way of life, awaiting the moment to make her presence known. Johnson compared her to Wagner's Brunnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen. 
Unlike Nemesis, she collects heroes, not fools and hypocrites. They both announce their presence the same way: "Only the doomed see” them, unable to escape their sting.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Infant to Death

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 01:52
Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Infant to Death
by Stephen Lendman
On July 31, extremist Israeli settlers attacked at least two Palestinian homes in Duma village near Nablus. They arrived late at night.
They spray-painted anti-Palestinian racist hate slogans on the Dawabsha family home. They smashed a window, threw firebombs inside, set the structure ablaze, burned 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha to death, inflicted third-degree burns (the most severe kind) on three other family members - his mother, father and brother aged four.
Their home was completely destroyed. An adjacent one was partly burned. The attack reflects more than criminal arson. It represents an extreme example of systemic settler violence and vandalism committed against nonthreatening Palestinians on their own land - vicious racist acts rarely punished.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner called the attack “nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism. A comprehensive investigation is underway in order to find the terrorists and bring them to justice.” We’ll see what follows.
Racist settler supporter Education Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the attack as “criminal…Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism,” he twittered.
What Israeli officials expressed outrage over its premeditated genocidal wars on Gaza, its ruthless persecution of millions of Palestinians for not being Jewish, its gulag filled with thousands of Palestinian political prisoners wanting freedom on their own land in their own country, a rogue state run by fascists, racists and religious zealots threatening world peace.
Settler crimes are a microcosm of issues of far greater consequence. So far this year, they carried out at least 120 West Bank/East Jerusalem acts of violence and/or vandalism - according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Often they happen with Israeli security force protection - or soldiers and police ignoring what’s occurring.
B’Tselem says “(t)he undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks is lenient and conciliatory. Perpetrators are rarely tried, and many cases are not investigated at all or are closed with no operative conclusions.”
The Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights group addressed the issue in a June report titled “Standing Idly By,” saying:
Israeli soldiers do virtually nothing to protect Palestinians from settler violence and vandalism. According to an unnamed IDF staff sergeant:
“A Jew throws rocks. The soldiers will call the police. The soldiers won’t point their guns at him. They will not arrest him. They won’t do anything to him. The police likely won’t either, except for telling him off” - if that.
Israeli Knesset members just passed legislation mandating up to 20 years imprisonment for Palestinians (including young children) accused of throwing stones with intent to cause harm - true or false. No evidence needed. Guilt by accusation is standard Israeli practice.
Yesh Din said “(t)he phenomenon of ‘standing idly by’ refers to incidents when soldiers witness violence by Israeli citizens against Palestinians and their property and do nothing to prevent the harm while the action is ongoing; refrain from detaining or arresting the perpetrators after the event; fail to secure the scene to allow the collection of evidence; or fail to testify about the event to the police.”
International law requires occupying powers to protect the welfare of people in territories they control. Israeli High Court rulings mandate this responsibility.
“(T)he IDF is obligated to maintain law and order in the West Bank,” Yesh Din stresses. Its actions are polar opposite - facilitating settler violence and vandalism, doing virtually nothing to prevent it or arrest guilty parties.
Dozens of Breaking the Silence soldier testimonies show they’re not aware of their obligation. They’re not trained to help Palestinians they control.
Only one soldier was ever held accountable for failing to provide protection as international law mandates. Disciplinary action alone followed, not criminal prosecution, Yesh Din explained.
It “demands that the phenomenon be addressed on the criminal level and be defined as a crime in the Military Justice Law, which should impose a deterring punishment on soldiers and officers who commit such offenses.”
“Offenses by Israeli citizens in the West Bank - settlers and others - have been tolerated for decades,” Yesh Din’s Eyal Hareuveni noted. 
“In order to confront this long-standing and entrenched pattern, the IDF must issue clear and concise standing orders that clarify to the soldiers their powers as law enforcers and their duty to protect the Palestinian population,” he added. 
“Likewise, the offense of standing idly by should be defined as a criminal offense in the Military Justice Law.” 
Lawless Israeli occupation remains ongoing after nearly half a century. Long denied justice is as remote now as ever.
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. 

US Neocon Urges War on Iran

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 01/08/2015 - 00:09
US Neocon Urges War on Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Age hasn’t mellowed neocon lunatic Norman Podhoretz. At 85, he’s as outrageously over-the-top as ever. 
He urges mass murdering Iranians in a Wall Street Journal op-ed no respectable editors would touch. Journal editors featured it. Podhoretz urged the same criminal act numerous times before.
The late Alex Cockburn called him an “apex neo-con.” He nicknamed him “Norman the Frother.” Journalist Bob Dreyfuss once called him a “wheezing neoconservative warhorse.” 
He’s a longtime apologist for Israel’s worst crimes - and America’s. His anti-Iranian rants border on delirium. He calls the failure to stop its nonexistent nuclear weapons program the equivalent of not confronting Hitler pre-WW II.
It’s hard imagining anyone takes him seriously. He headlined his Wall Street Journal piece “Israel’s Choice: Conventional War Now, or Nuclear War Later.” 
He called “Obama’s (nuclear) deal a calamity.” He repeated the tired old canard about it furthering its path to the bomb. 
He ignores Tehran’s abhorrence of nuclear weapons, clear evidence its program has no military component, its longtime advocacy for a nuclear-free Middle East, and nuclear armed and dangerous Israel. Not a word about it.
“(I)f the objective remains preventing Iran from getting the bomb (the whole world knows it doesn’t have or want), the only way to do so is bomb Iran,” he ranted.
He ludicrously claimed diplomacy “never work(s).” And the real P5+1 goal is “open(ing) the way to lucrative business contracts.” If so, why wait 36 years to do it.
For Obama, it’s achieving “his long-standing dream of a US detente with Iran.” He “conceded just about anything the Iranians wanted - without…admitting (his) acquiescence (to) an Iran armed with nuclear weapons and the rockets to deliver them.”
“(A)llowing Iran to get the bomb, (he’s) setting the stage for a nuclear war between Iran and Israel.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now. It bears repeating. The whole world knows its nuclear program is peaceful with no military component or desire to have one.
Israel is polar opposite - a warrior state, indoctrinating its people to hate Arabs from the cradle to the grave. Waging endless wars on Palestine and neighboring countries. Threatening regional peace and stability.
Podhoretz repeated the longstanding Big Lie about Iran “bound and determined to wipe the Jewish state off the map.”
His alternatives are “conventional war now or nuclear war later.” He urges unilateral Israeli war now to “spar(e) itself - and the rest of the world - a nuclear conflagration in the not too distant future.”
He’s not the only neocon lunatic urging war on nonbelligerent Iran. They know its government wants peace, not conflict.
They want it toppled - replaced by pro-Western puppet governance, letting mainly US monied interests loot its resources, exploit it people, at the same time eliminating Israel’s main regional rival.
The phony Iranian nuclear scare is all about power, control and carving up another country for profits - not its nonexistent path to the bomb or barbarians at the gates. A neocon lunatic fringe echo chamber wants this phony threat alone repeated ad nauseam.
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. 

More Illegal US Sanctions on Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 31/07/2015 - 19:51
More Illegal US Sanctions on Russia
by Stephen Lendman
Unilateral or jointly imposed sanctions by one or more countries against others are illegal. Authority rests solely with Security Council members.
They must first “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” as UN Charter, Chapter VII, Article 39 stipulates.
They may then “decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures,” as authorized under Article 41. 
“These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”
It bears repeating. All unilateral or multilateral impositions of sanctions circumventing Security Council authority are illegal. America is by far the leading scofflaw - a lawless rogue state operating by its own rules and standards exclusively, spurning fundamental rule of law principles repeatedly, ignoring what demands compliance.
On March 6, 2014, Obama signed Executive Order 13660 - a lawless diktat authorizing sanctions on individuals or entities allegedly involved in violating Ukraine’s sovereignty or territory.
On March 17, Executive Order 13661 followed - another extrajudicial diktat targeting Russia for its legitimate right to maintain a military presence in Crimea, its nonexistent undermining of so-called Ukrainian “democratic processes,” including nonsensical claims about threatening its peace, security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On March 20, a third Executive Order “block(ed) property of additional persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine.”
Fact: No constitutional authority permits Executive Orders - other than stating "executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America (Article 2, Section 1)."
Its use is abused by bypassing Congress. "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 1.)."
Constitutional checks and balances prevent empowering one governmental branch over another. Diktat power reflects tyranny.
On July 30, Obama imposed further sanctions on Russia by Executive Order - perhaps in response to its vetoing a Security Council resolution to establish a US-controlled MH17 kangaroo tribunal, one Washington wanted to hold Moscow and Donbass freedom fighters accountable for its own complicity in Kiev’s downing the commercial aircraft.
Eleven more individuals and 15 companies were targeted - including affiliates of oil giant Rosneft as well as others linked to Vnesheconombank (a state owned Bank of Foreign Economic Activity called the Russian Development Bank). 
Eight have ties to Russian businessman Gannady Timchenko. Four are former Ukrainian Yanukovych administrations officials. Five are involved in Crimean port or sea ferry operations.
The US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets acting director John E. Smith commented, saying:
“Today’s action underscores our resolve to maintain pressure on Russia for (its nonexistent violations of) international law (or involvement in) fueling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Our message is clear. We will continue to act to ensure the effectiveness of our sanctions.”
Other senior US officials lied saying Thursday’s action was “routine,” not an “escalation.” It’s further proof of Washington continuing to act provocatively, upping the stakes, headed toward likely direct belligerent confrontation if these actions along with military ones in Eastern Europe continue.
Longstanding US policy calls for regime change - replacing Russian sovereignty with US-controlled puppet governance, pillaging its resources, balkanizing its huge land mass for easier control and exploiting its people.
Paul Craig Roberts is right saying Washington “wants to coerce Russia into submission.” He cites the (Paul) Wolfowitz Doctrine - co-authored with his deputy Scooter Libby when he was Bush I’s Under Secretary of Defense.
Its core principles were part of the Bush (II) Doctrine - what the late Senator Edward Kennedy described as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.”
Roberts explains US policymakers consider any country “capable of standing up to Washington” a threat to its national security. “Today there are two such countries, Russia and China.”
“Washington always needs an enemy in order to justify the one trillion dollar annual budget of the military/security complex” and endless wars of aggression waged against invented adversaries threatening no one.
America’s hegemonic ambitions aim for achieving unchallenged world dominance - madness risking WW III, potential nuclear war able to end life on earth.
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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