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Congressional Members Want Israel Investigated for Human Rights Abuses? - Thu, 31/03/2016 - 02:37
Congressional Members Want Israel Investigated for Human Rights Abuses?
by Stephen Lendman
A Politico report reads like an April Fools Day stunt, the story published three days in advance on March 29.
It said Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT) and 10 House members want the State Department to “investigate claims that the Israeli and Egyptian security forces have committed ‘gross violations of human rights’ - allegations (sic) that if proven true could affect US military aid to the countries.”
A February 17 letter to John Kerry “inquir(ed) about specific allegations (sic) of gross human rights violations by the security forces of both countries.”
It highlighted “alleged” Israeli extrajudicial executions and Egypt’s 2013 Rab’aa Square massacre, killing around 1,000 peaceful protesters, along with numerous reports of forced disappearances.
The letter cited the 2001 law bearing Senator Leahy’s name. It prohibits funding foreign security forces involved in committing human rights abuses.
The 1961 Foreign Assistance Act prohibits providing aid to governments engaging in a “consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country.”
No investigation is needed to determine if Israel and Egypt committed human rights abuses. Volumes of credible documentation exists.
Leahy Law and Foreign Assistance Act provisions never apply to US allies guilty of high crimes.
Israel and Egypt commit horrendous ones daily, including institutionalized state terror, mass murder, forced disappearances, imprisonments solely for political reasons, torture and other forms of abuse.
What Leahy and 10 House members intended by their letter, they’ll have to explain - knowing neither country was investigated earlier for criminal offenses nor will they be now.
They’re free to commit them with impunity - with full US support and encouragement. 
Both countries get billions of dollars in annual US military aid - used to commit human rights abuses and other high crimes, not for defense.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Anti-Trump NYT Blasts His Foreign Policy - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 22:27
Anti-Trump NYT Blasts His Foreign Policy
by Stephen Lendman
He’s a serious presidential contender with unorthodox views on some issues - making him appear anti-establishment, worrying duopoly power brokers and media scoundrels supporting them.
Wide-ranging interviews with NYT and Washington Post editors, as well as opinions expressed separately, showed his foreign policy views differ considerably from other candidates.
“I want to get along with Russia,” he said, calling good relations “very good…I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin.”
“I want to get along with all countries, and we will,” he said, calling his approach to world affairs “unabashedly noninterventionist.”
He opposes expensive worldwide nation-building projects while America’s infrastructure deteriorates.
He’s against massive US military buildups in Europe and East Asia. “We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore. NATO is costing us a fortune…”
“Why are we (risking) potentially (a) third world war with Russia?” He questions involvement in protecting allies like Japan and South Korea, wanting them to do more on their own.
US intervention abroad caused more problems than solutions, notably in the Middle East, he said.
“Every bad decision that you could make in the Middle East was made.” If Obama and Bush “just (went) to the beach and enjoyed the ocean and the sun, we would’ve been much better off…than all of this tremendous death, destruction, and…monetary loss. It’s just incredible,” he stressed.
He called NATO obsolete, preferring an alternative organization focusing on counterterrorism. He questioned  the benefit of America’s global empire of bases.
He called nuclear weapons “the biggest problem the world has,” saying he’d use them only as “an absolute last step,” instead of renouncing them altogether.
The New York Times is America’s leading establishment media organization - supporting policies favoring wealth and power interests exclusively.
It editors called Trump’s foreign policy views “dangerous babble,” uneasy about an administration under his stewardship curbing its warmaking appetite - hyping  nonexistent “Russia(n) aggressive movements in Ukraine and threats to the Baltics…”
Saying “this is no time (for) Washington” to restrain its global militarism. Trump’s views “are contradictory and shockingly ignorant.”
Times editors support US military involvement worldwide, its wars of aggression in multiple theaters.
They call today’s world “dangerous,” failing to explain Washington allied with Israel and other rogue states bear full responsibility for its deplorable state.
Trump if elected president will differ from traditional candidates largely in style. At the same time, if he favors more cooperation and less confrontation with other nations, “that’s a good thing” as he puts it in his own words.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Obama's War on Yemen Harms Children Most - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 22:18
Obama’s War on Yemen Harms Children Most
by Stephen Lendman
Obama’s war on Yemen began long before partnering with Riyadh, orchestrating its terror-bombing, choosing targets to strike, supporting its ground forces and terrorist fighters. 
US planned and implemented genocide affects millions of Yemenis, Obama’s latest atrocity, another country being raped and destroyed. War in its second year harms civilians most, young children most vulnerable.
Thousands are dying from violence, preventable diseases, starvation and overall deprivation. Official numbers way undercount reality on the ground.
What’s ongoing is largely unreported - 24 million people at risk ignored. US drone war has been ongoing for years, rules of engagement authorizing indiscriminate murder, noncombatants comprising the vast majority of casualties.
Claims otherwise are false. Obama escalated drone war on the phony pretext of combating Al Qaeda.
He lied, saying “(b)efore any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” an utter perversion of hard truth.
Violence begets more of it. An endless destructive cycle persists. A new UNICEF report, titled “Children on the Brink” highlights how gravely they’re affected.
According to the organization’s Julien Harneis, “(c)hildren are paying the highest price for a conflict not of their making.” 
“They have been killed or maimed across the country and are no longer safe anywhere in Yemen.  Even playing or sleeping has become dangerous.”
Since conflict began in March 2015, one in six children were killed or maimed for life. UNICEF calls the toll “the tip of the iceberg.”
Numbers only represent verified cases. The true casualty count is multiples higher. UNICEF documented dozens of Saudi terror-bombings of schools, hospitals, residential neighborhoods and other nonmilitary related sites - including use of banned cluster munitions.
Food, clean water, medical treatment, fuel, electricity and other essentials to life are in perilously short supply. Epidemic levels of malnutrition exist.
Countless thousands of children under age five died from preventable diseases alone, thousands more from lack of essentials to life.
Hundreds of health facilities closed, dozens more terror-bombed. The vast majority of Yemenis of all ages need humanitarian aid to survive.
Too little gets in to help. Riyadh’s blockade supported by Washington restricts imports and deliveries.
Conflict continues raging. Millions of children “face fear, pain and deprivation,” UNICEF explained. They don’t start wars. They’re “most vulnerable to their deadly effects.”
“The scale of suffering in the country is staggering.” Yemen is the region’s poorest country. War made things far much worse.
UNICEF estimated 2.4 million people displaced, half of them children. Lucky ones find refuge with relatives. Most others shelter in “public buildings, makeshift tents or in the open air.”
Saudi terror-bombing killed Elham Ghalib’s three-year-old daughter. She fled Taiz for hoped for safety, saying she “had no time to take anything.”
“All I had were the clothes on me and a ring. I just ran on the street holding my children. I saw people getting in a car so I jumped on with my children. I didn’t even know where it was going.”
Humanitarian needs in Yemen are overwhelming, imports severely restricted, delivering aid where most needed greatly impeded by Saudi terror-bombing, roadblocks and checkpoints.
The fate of an entire nation and its children hang in the balance. Yemen is another horrendous war crime on Obama’s rap sheet - complicit with Riyadh doing his dirty work.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Good News and Bad from Syria - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 22:01
Good News and Bad from Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Liberating Palmyra was a major achievement - likely facilitating others ahead, opening the way to purging ISIS from Raqqa, its main Syrian stronghold.
At the same time, two weeks of so-called peace talks accomplished nothing, intractable differences preventing resolving conflict diplomatically at this time.
Assad remains hopeful, calling Syrian military successes vital for eventual peace. Western and regional nations against its sovereign independence want him and his government ousted.
They’re “counting on our defeat on the battlefield in order to impose their conditions at the negotiations,” he said.
So successful military operations “will lead to the acceleration of the political settlement and not prevent it.”
Assad and his top officials always urged resolving years of conflict diplomatically, he said - not wanting “a single chance for settlement (missed) without trying it.”
“We went to Geneva and continue to show flexibility.” At the same time, “(w)e have not changed our position” throughout years of conflict on wanting Syrians alone to decide their future, free from foreign interference, along with preserving the nation’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity.
Terrorism in the form of imported death squads supported by Western and regional states is Syria’s greatest problem, Assad stressed.
“We must fight it on the international level, because terrorism affects not only Syria. Terrorism exists in Iraq. It is directly supported by Turkey. It is directly supported by the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, as well as a number of Western states…”
Damascus will rely mainly on Russia, China and Iran in rebuilding war-torn areas, he explained. Transition to a national unity government must proceed according to constitutional law, he stressed.
“We in Syria assume that the term political transition means the transition from one constitution to another, and a constitution is what defines the form of the needed political composition in the next stage.” 
“Thus, the transition period must be under the current constitution, and we will move on to the new constitution after the Syrian people vote for it.”
“(T)transitional structure or transitional format is a government formed by various Syrian political forces - opposition, independent, the current government and others.”
They alone will determine Syria’s future, free from outside interference, notably from the West, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other rogue Arab states.
Constitutional law in Syria and elsewhere includes no authorization for transitional power, Assad explained. Syria has a democratically elected president, parliament and constitution overwhelmingly approved by open, free and fair national referendum.
Syrians alone will choose officials to lead them and decide what constitutional changes they wish, if any. The goal is for national unity governance to end conflict.
Achieving it won’t be easy. Obama and US rogue allies want war, not peace. Blocking a Security Council resolution on Palmyra’s liberation shows what Syrians are up against.
Instead of hailing victory over ISIS terrorists, Assad is blamed for Obama’s war - planned, orchestrated and implemented from Washington.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova minced no words, saying blocking Moscow’s resolution “shows (Western countries) are not interested in the process of liberating Syria from terrorists or promoting the peace process…”
Prospects for conflict resolution remain distant at best. Assad is right. Military successes are Syria’s best hope for eventual peace.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Interoperability and the W3C: Defending the Future from the Present - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 11:41

Imagine a new, disruptive company figured out a way to let hundreds of people watch a single purchased copy of a movie, even though the rightsholders who made that movie objected. The new company charged money for this service, and gave none of it back to the movie's creators. That's exactly the business model that a controversial project at the Web's premier open standards organization seeks to prevent.

Of course, it's also the business model of Netflix, circa 1997, not to mention every prior video rental service relying on the traditional principle that a copyright owner's control ended when they sold a copy of the work.

If the studios had been able to to lock out disruptive new companies by adding a bit of technology that was against the law to break, Netflix would have been stopped in its tracks. It never would have grown into the powerhouse it is today, a valued partner to the movie studios and independents alike, a production house in its own right -- and one of the principal advocates for standardizing digital restrictions on media use.

We get it: companies often become less revolutionary once they achieve success. But people love Netflix, and they will love the next Netflix even more.

By adopting a covenant to protect interoperability, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) can save innovators of tomorrow from those of yesterday.

The World Wide Web Consortium is is mired in conflict over its decision to standardize digital locks -- the technologies that allow other people to give your computer orders that you can't override. The first of these, "Encrypted Media Extensions" (EME) will be part of HTML5 is being designed as the primary interface between people and the smart devices of the Internet of Things, from medical implants to vehicles to power stations to security systems.

Sections 1201-12031 of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban bypassing such restrictions, and have been used to shut down legitimate tools because their makers had to remove a lock to improve existing products, and to silence security researchers who came forward with revelations about defects in covered products.

Though EFF could not convince the W3C to abandon its commitment to adding digital locks to the Web, we have proposed a middle ground. We asked W3C to impose a promise not to use DMCA 1201 or similar laws to attack interoperable technologies or security research as a condition of participating in the EME standards-setting process.

The main event with digital restrictions isn't the technology: it's the law. It may be a dumb idea to design computers to disobey their owners and hide their internal workings from the humans that rely on them, but it's legal threats that keep security researchers and innovators from working with and improving products that use such restrictions.

It's easy to understand what we mean by protecting security researchers, of course, but what's all this about "interoperability?"

Interoperability means being able to have one product function with another product, sometimes in ways the original manufacturer didn't anticipate and wouldn't necessarily approve of. If you've ever plugged a cell-phone charger into a car's cigarette lighter, you've experienced interoperability -- though the original manufacturer never conceived of charging a not-yet-invented phone with a gadget intended to make heat to ignite tobacco products, someone else was able to invent a way to use that original gadget in a new and useful way.

Standards bodies play a key role in interoperability, specifying a common framework that manufacturers can cooperatively agree upon. That framework makes it much easier for one company to design something to work with another company's products and provides assurance that the products that are yet to come will be able to interoperate with both.

But as important as cooperative compatibility is, it's dwarfed by uncooperative compatibility, where companies get their products to work together without any kind of agreement. Sometimes, that's because the original maker is gone -- you might get an inkjet cartridge to go in an old printer whose manufacturer is out of business -- but sometimes, that's because the original manufacturer objects to the add-on.

This "adversarial compatibility" is the cornerstone of interoperability. The telephone network took a huge leap forward when the FCC handed down the 1968 "Carterphone" decision, ruling that phone subscribers could plug devices into AT&T's network even when AT&T objected to this practice. Carterphone led to the widespread deployment of answering machines, fax machines, modems, and, eventually, the Internet as we know it today.

EME is a framework for allowing interoperability for streaming video, within a set of parameters being decided upon at the W3C. But the W3C's EME framework does not enable many of the applications that the law allows. The digital locks that EME builds in stand in the way of these applications, and if the W3C does not adopt a covenant protecting interoperability, those applications will be threatened under laws like Section 1201 of the DMCA by the makers of digital restriction technologies.

Let's take a look at some of the interoperable applications that are blocked by the work of the W3C:

Implementations in free/open source code

The free software movement has a longstanding commitment to providing users with the ability to run computers whose code is open to inspection and modification by any party. Free software advocates want to know that there are no sneaky back-doors in their programs, they want to avoid lock-in by companies, they want to be able to learn from their computers, they want to be able to improve their computers, and they want to be able to share those improvements.

The free software movement has given us many of the Internet's core technologies: the GNU/Linux operating system, the Apache web-server, NGINX, OpenSSL encryption,  and much, much more.

To implement an EME-capable browser, you must have a "Content Decryption Module." These modules are all presently implemented in closed, proprietary code. This isn't unusual: many core technologies begin life as proprietary blobs, and the normal course pursued by free software advocates is to reverse-engineer that proprietary software and make free, open implementations.

However, a reverse engineering attempt on an EME-CDM system can implicate DMCA 1201 and similar laws, meaning that anyone attempting to make a free/open equivalent would face potential lawsuits simply for undertaking this common activity.

A covenant that protects implementers from W3C members' use of  anticircumvention laws to attack interoperability solves this problem, at least for lawsuits initiated by parties to the covenant. Without it, anyone wanting to run a browser compatible with the video applications that the W3C is standardizing will have to run opaque, unauditable, unimprovable, non-distributable proprietary code, even if they're prepared to make a free/open alternative without any help from the original manufacturer.

New browsers

The W3C has always stood for the ability of anyone to make a browser. By following the recommendations of the W3C, new companies and projects can make a browser that can view all the standards-compliant documents and files on the entire World Wide Web. While there are only a few major browsers in use today, they include several of relatively recent vintage, and are vastly outnumbered by all the browsers that have come and gone since the first days of the Web.

The Web's future depends on new browsers coming into existence to replace the ones that will inevitably fade away.

Any new browser coming on the scene after the standardization of EME will enter a fundamentally different world than all the ones that have come before: for that browser to receive and display content that is defined by the W3C, it will have to enter into a commercial partnership with one of a handful of companies that have been blessed as being entitled to produce a CDM.

A browser that can't strike such a partnership -- either because all possible partners are in exclusive relationships with existing browsers, or because it lacks the commercial or structural ability to enter into a commercial partnership (say, because it is a community-based free software project) will be frozen out of rendering part of the standards-defined Web.

It would be a return to the bad old days of websites that advised that they were "Best viewed with Netscape" or "Best viewed with Internet Explorer," because the new browsers would be locked out of some of their content.

However, if there is a covenant protecting interoperability, new browsers can bypass the refusal to deal from incumbent manufacturers and make their own EME-CDM combination that can play all the content that meets the W3C's standards.


Around the world, archives and libraries have the statutory right to make long-term copies of copyrighted works, even against the wishes of rightsholders. However, this statutory right is interfered with by the rules prohibiting breaking digital locks. Sometimes, governments grant exemptions for libraries (in the USA, the Copyright Office has granted some exemptions to the DMCA for the purposes of archiving), but these exemptions have serious defects. Most of the US exemptions, for example, expire every three years and must be renewed through a costly and cumbersome process, and only cover the right to use a tool to break the digital lock in order to make archival copies: they do not cover the right to make or share that tool, meaning every library must figure out how to make such a tool from scratch, and not share it.

If the W3C adopts the covenant permitting interoperability, it would help vendors who serve the library and archive sectors to make tools to accomplish the institutions' cultural duty by making a lawful use.

Public domain videos, Creative Commons, Crown and Parliamentary copyrights

Many videos are not in copyright. In some cases, the copyright on these videos has expired. In others, the videos are produced by governments that cannot assert copyright in their productions (this is the case for the US government). Other videos are in copyright, but governed by separate rules that allow the public to record and share them -- in Commonwealth countries, government works are bound by Crown Copyright or Parliamentary Copyright, under which the public enjoy automatic rights that are broader than the rules governing works made by individuals and companies.

Then there are works that are licensed under free/open content licenses, such as Creative Commons and the GNU Free Documentation License. More than a billion works have been licensed under Creative Commons alone, and all of those works allow viewers to record and share them, and moreover, many of them prohibit the use of digital locks like EME-CDM systems.

Despite the fact that the public is entitled to make use of these works, the companies that distribute them -- broadcasters, cable operators, webcasters, etc -- often lock them up with digital locks, and will continue to do so under EME.

Even though you have the legal right to record and re-use these videos, EME will prevent you from doing so, and anticircumvention laws will prevent anyone else from making a tool to enable you to bypass EME and exercise your legal rights.

A covenant protecting interoperability will give organizations, individuals, and companies a firm legal footing on which to make such a tool and enable the public to accomplish lawful activities with videos they are entitled to.

Bandwidth arbitrage

In the developing world, use of the Web is strongly limited by the high cost of mobile data. What frees them to participate in the Web is time- or place-shifting their usage. Throughout the global south, we see a widespread usage pattern of downloading large files while in wifi range, for later use. This "bandwidth arbitrage" enables the poorest Internet users to approximate the kind of access to rich media assets that the rest of us take for granted.

A tool to allow for offline storage and playback of EME-locked videos would fall afoul of many countries' equivalents to DMCA 1201 -- the US Trade Representative having made the adoption of these laws a condition of trade with the USA -- but an interoperability covenant would protect local entrepreneurs and developers who produced a tool to enable this use.


Media companies invest in accessible versions of their products — sometimes they're legally obliged to provide them. But people with disabilities have diverse access needs, and statutory requirements or centrally-provided dispensations barely cover the possible ways that content, including video, could be made available to a wider audience. That's one of the reasons why the W3C's other work on media standardization is so exciting. HTML5's unencrypted media extensions not only provide built-in accessibility features, they also offer the possibility of third-party programs that can transform, re-interpret, or mix original content in order to make it accessible to an audience that can't accept the default presentation methods.

To give a few examples of what the future of HTML accessibility might include:

  • YouTube attempts to create closed captions on the fly using speech recognition. It's not always perfect, but it's getting better every day. A smart web browser displaying video could hand over audio to be recognised locally, creating captioning for content that doesn't have it. Add to that auto-translate, and your movie gets a global audience, unlimited by language barriers.
  • While we wait for better algorithms to improve captioning, many take advantage large volunteer subbing communities that create subtitling and captioning independent of any rightsholders. Synchronizing such content with the original video is sometimes an exercise in frustration for the users of these subtitles. In the future, subbers could create webpages with javascript that seeks for audio and video cues in existing media to correctly synchronize their unofficial subtitles on the fly (as dubbing companies like RiffTrax have had to do with their own synchronization workarounds).
  • Security researcher Dan Kaminsky has developed a method for transforming the color space of video, in real time, so that red-green colorblind viewers can see images with real reds and greens. The DanKam could be applied to HTML5 video to let the color blind see a fuller range of color.
  • One in four thousand people rely on video passing "the Harding test," a method for determining whether movies contain flashing imagery that may cause harm to those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy. But the Harding test doesn't catch footage for every person with epilepsy, and not every video source is checked against it. In the future, we can envisage a website that could pro-actively run flash and pattern identification on incoming video and warn users or skip dangerous content.

All of this, and more, shows the promise of interoperable video browser standards. But not for those presented using EME. Each of these techniques involve reaching into the plain, unencrypted version of the video stream and examining or transforming the plain text data. To do that, they'd have to circumvent its protection. The W3C's standards and accessibility teams have been working hard to anticipate every way media might be used, but without permissionless interoperability, they'll never be able to tap the endless innovation of the Web's open development environment. Without the covenant, developers (including developers with disabilities) attempting to transform encrypted media for unaddressed access needs would face a legal barrier to peeling back the CDM. With a covenant of all the W3C's members, those with accessibility needs are better situated to take matters into their own hands, or work with others to improve their access to all media.

  • 1. Section 1201 defines the activities that are prohibited, with Section 1202 adding some additional prohibitions about removing metadata. Section 1203, which is what the covenant refers to, creates a right to sue.

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Vietnamese Bloggers Sentenced to Prison in a Renewed Crackdown on Free Expression - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 07:11

A prominent Vietnamese blogger and his assistant were sentenced to prison last week in Hanoi for their work on a popular web site, read by millions of Vietnamese, that reported on human rights and government corruption. The case raises alarms of a new wave of repression against independent media and free expression online in Vietnam.

On March 23 a Hanoi court sentenced Nguyen Huu Vinh, a former police officer and the son of Vietnam’s ambassador to the former Soviet Union, to five years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the state.” Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, Vinh’s assistant, was sentenced to three years. Vinh, better known as Anh Ba Sam, set up a popular blog in 2007 and later launched two others. The sites provided news and comments about democracy, social and economic issues from state media and activists, and articles critical of Vietnamese government policies. One site, AhnBasam, was repeatedly attacked by hackers in 2013 and 2014; Vinh and Thuy were arrested in May 2014 in Hanoi and indicted on charges that articles posted on the sites had "untruthful" content and "distort the lines and policies" of the ruling Community Party.

EFF strongly condemns the sentences, which follow an international outcry from human rights organizations over a series of crackdowns against and imprisonment of activists and bloggers. Seventeen people were tried in 2013 under Article 79 (which outlaws "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's government") for allegedly attending workshops on digital security, writing and linking to blog posts critical of the Communist Vietnamese government, and calling for peaceful protests and political pluralism. Fourteen of those tried were convicted and most sentences to prison terms ranging from 3 to 13 years. 

Vietnam has harassed, intimidated, and detained bloggers who have spoken out against the Communist regime. Bloggers have been under extreme surveillance. Organizations, journalists, and others who have written about them—including EFF—have been targeted by malware from what appears to be state-aligned actors in Vietnam.

EFF and other organizations have called on Vietnam to end the repression of bloggers and activists, criticized the republic's Internet censorship bill, and supported campaigns to free high-profile bloggers Le Quoc Quan and Dieu Cay (both have been released). While Vietnam's National Assembly adopted amendments to the republic's criminal statutes in November, lawmakers failed to repeal many amendments used to suppress the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The arrest and imprisonment of Vinh and Thuy are disturbing reminders that freedom of expression and digital rights remain under serious threat in Vietnam.

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Fidel Rips Imperial America - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 02:37
Fidel Rips Imperial America
by Stephen Lendman
Approaching age 90 this summer, Fidel Castro’s physical capability isn’t what it used to be. His intellect remains keen, his judgment sound, his passion for keeping Cuba free from US predation and control uncompromising.
On March 20, Obama arrived in Cuba representing former US colonial control over the island state, wanting it regained in new form - intolerable for the vast majority of Cubans, unwilling to sacrifice their socially responsible sovereign state to yankee imperialism.
Obama snubbed Fidel during his visit, disgracefully meeting with anti-government dissidents instead, symbolic of US hubris and arrogance.
On March 28, Fidel commented, his article titled “Brother Obama,” blasting US imperialism, saying:
“We don’t need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because our commitment is to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet” - anathema to America’s ruling class.
Imperial echoes remain in Cuba, he noted, Guantanamo the most outrageous example, America unwilling to return sovereign island territory to its rightful owner, using it instead as a torture facility for Muslim political prisoners, a modern-day Devil’s Island, the mid-20th century closed facility a permanent stain on French history.
Fidel reflected on famous Cuban heroes, notably Jose Marti, apostle of Cuban independence from Spain, “glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo,” Cuba’s greatest military hero Maximo Gomez and others.
He mocked Obama’s demagoguery in addressing the Cuban people, hollow words saying:
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.”
His policies belie his rhetoric, his credibility sorely lacking, his fronting for wealth and power exclusively an affront to people everywhere wanting to live free from the scourge of yankee imperialism.
“The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind,” said Fidel. “Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before (he) was 10 years old.” 
“The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution…”
Fidel blasted US imperialism for trying to terminate Cuban sovereign independence in its infancy, “the perfidious (Bay of Pigs) attack “which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries.”
Obama’s “sweetened words” in Havana wanting bygones to be bygones left Cubans watching on national television aghast. 
Has he forgotten over half a century of illegal blockade still in place solely for political reasons, endless US acts of violence against Cuba and its people, hundreds of failed attempts to kill Fidel?
“Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country,” its ruling class, “will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained” at the expense of ruthlessly exploiting others.
Cubans renounce US imperialism, the scourge of planet earth.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Proposed Israeli Law to Imprison 12-Year-Olds - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 02:27
Proposed Israeli Law to Imprison 12-Year-Olds
by Stephen Lendman
Introduced by Arab-hating justice minister Ayelet (“little snakes”) Shaked, it’s intended solely for Palestinian children. Israeli courts wouldn’t tolerate sending young Jewish ones to prison.
Palestinians are systematically abused. Guilt is automatic when charged, children treated like adults. Current Israeli law prohibits imprisoning children under age 14.
Shaked wants the threshold lowered to 12 if convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” violent acts, prosecutors able to use this charge against any Palestinian they want imprisoned for any reason. 
Innocence is no defense. Israel calls legitimate Palestinian resistance against state-sponsored ruthlessness “terrorism” or “incitement to violence.”
Shaked’s spokesman said “terrorism does not have an age, and today there are no punishments matching the cruel reality we face.”
“In order to produce a deterrent and to change the reality we must make some required changes. (The measure) gives minors the special protection they need, while giving a serious response to terrorists who think that the courts and justice will not reach them.”
The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill. Plenary session debate will follow. Racist fascists dominating Israel’s parliament assure near certain passage, possibly in amended form.
The proposed measure affects Palestinian children in Occupied East Jerusalem, as well as others living elsewhere in the country.
Israeli military courts already try and imprison Occupied Palestinians young as 12. Racist Likud MK Anat Berko unjustifiably claimed Palestinian adults “recruit minors while knowing that Israeli law does not have a real response.”
Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) attorney Brad Parker said the proposed measure “is an apparent response to criminal attacks that have allegedly been carried out by young Palestinians and is a clear attempt to criminalize and punish the alleged attackers” most often without just cause.
The bill “prioritize(s) the criminalization and punishment of children in complete disregard for international law.”
“As violence has escalated in the past few months, we see policies and practices that contravene international law being codified by the Israeli government.”
Most Palestinian children arrested face abusive interrogations amounting to torture. They’re forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they don’t understand, most often for crimes they didn’t commit, most other times for offenses too minor to matter.
Repressive Israeli legislation already authorizes imprisoning Israeli children for stone-throwing, true or false, a measure Shaked introduced.
Palestinians are collectively punished by a ruthless occupier, terrorized for wanting fundamental freedoms they’re denied, children treated as harshly as adults.
Hundreds are imprisoned, brutally treated under gulag conditions, leaving many scarred for life, justifiably angry about Israel injustice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Security Researchers: Tell the W3C To Protect Researchers Who Investigate Browsers - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 23:00

Security researchers: we need your help!

The World Wide Web Consortium has taken the extraordinary, controversial step of standardizing DRM in the form of something called Encrypted Media Extensions, which will be part of HTML5. Because of laws like the DMCA and its international equivalents, security researchers who reveal flaws in HTML5-compliant browsers will face punishing legal jeopardy. We're worried that this means that critical bugs in the browsers billions of people rely upon will take longer to come to light and are more likely to be exploited in the wild.

Last summer, some of the world's most prominent security researchers told the US Copyright Office that the DMCA kept them from coming forward with flaws they've discovered.

EFF has proposed a way for the W3C to have its DRM cake without eating its security researchers, too. We've written a short, simple "covenant," a binding promise that W3C members would have to sign as a condition of continuing the DRM work at the W3C, and once they do, they not be able to use the DMCA or laws like it to threaten security researchers.

Tomorrow's browsers are supposed to be the universal interface for all of our automated systems, from medical implants to vehicles. The world's security researchers need to know that companies won't have the ability to gag them with legal threats when they embarrass companies by revealing their mistakes.

Free software advocates picketed a recent W3C meeting to call on the organization to reform its DRM work, and the Open Source Initiative says it won't consider a DRM standard to be "open" unless it adopts an agreement modelled on ours.

Its time for the W3C to hear from you, the security researchers whose future it holds in its hands.

If you're a security researcher and are able to lend your voice, please contact us to let us know. We'll forward your comments to Tim Berners-Lee, director of the W3C, and Jeff Jaffe, the organization's CEO.


Bruce Schneier, USA

Alan Cox, UK, Honorary Fellow University of Wales: Trinity St David

Emiliano DeCristofaro, UK, University College London

Dr Steven J. Murdoch, UK, Principal Research Fellow, University College London

Harry Halpin, France, INRIA

Ian Goldberg, Canada, University of Waterloo

Ronald Diebert, Canada, Director, The Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Jon Andersen, USA

Sergey Bratus, USA, Research Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Dartmouth College

Joel R. Voss, USA

Paul Garrett Hugel, USA

Jacob Appelbaum, Germany, the Tor Project

Roger Dingledine, USA, the Tor Project

Ronald L. Rivest, USA, MIT

Prof. Dr. Tanja Lange, The Netherlands, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven

Frederic Jacobs, Switzerland, Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL)

Dr Ian Brown, UK, Oxford Internet Institute, Professor of Information Security and Privacy, University of Oxford

Philipp Winter, USA, Princeton University

Sebastian Garcia, Czech Republic, Czech Technical University

Alex Kirk, USA

Robert Erbes, USA, Assoc. Principal at IOActive

Nadim Kobeissi, France, INRIA.

Sharon Goldberg, USA, Boston University

Roya Ensafi, USA, Princeton University

J. Alex Halderman, USA, University of Michigan

Jacobo Nájera, Mexico, Enjambre Digital

Seda Gurses, USA, Princeton University

Dr. Daniel C. Howe, Hong Kong, School of Creative Media

Marco Ermini, Germany

Gary Cohn, USA

Aaron Massey, USA, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Greg Rose, USA

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Categories: Aggregated News

Hillary's Phony Way to Defeat ISIS - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 22:28
Hillary’s Phony Way to Defeat ISIS
by Stephen Lendman
Her public record as first lady, US senator and secretary of state shows rage for endless premeditated wars of aggression.
A Clinton presidency assures permanent wars on humanity, raping more countries than already, risking direct confrontation with Russia and China - the horror of possible nuclear war.
I’ve explained many times ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups are US creations, unable to function without foreign support.
Stopping them requires no longer recruiting new fighters, ending funding, arming, training and directing them - waging peace, not war, an agenda America rejects.
Clinton’s phony “real plan” to “beat ISIS” is cover for supporting permanent war. Last week she twittered:
“Hillary has a three-part plan to defeat ISIS in the Middle East, around the world, and here at home:  
“1. Take out ISIS’s stronghold in Iraq and Syria” - no explanation how; nothing explaining US support for ISIS. 
“2. Dismantle the global terror network” - nothing defined; the only “network” is what Washington and it allies created. 
“3. Harden our defenses at home and prevent attacks.” America spends as much or more on militarism at home and abroad than the rest of the world combined, with all known, related and black budgets included.
Hillary’s so-called plan conceals support for harsher police state tactics, perhaps imposition of martial law, suspending constitution and international law protections entirely - full-blown tyranny by any standard.
An earlier article explained how America became a police state under George Bush. Clinton may want it taken to the next level, ending remaining freedoms altogether on the phony pretext of protecting national security.
Her worldview is terrifying, her kind of America nightmarish - greater tyranny than already at a time the nation’s only enemies are ones it creates.
The America everyone deserves would prioritize peace, not war, closing its empire of bases, ending money-controlled duopoly governance (one-party rule with two wings), democratic rights for everyone, not just the nation’s privileged few, and much more - a complete transformation, America becoming beautiful for the first time in its history.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

NYT Ignores Greatest Nuclear Threat - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 22:10
NYT Ignores Greatest Nuclear Threat
by Stephen Lendman
The hugely destructive power of nuclear weapons can end life on earth.
NYT editors want them kept from “terrorists,” ignoring state terrorists, especially America and Israel, an alliance posing the greatest of all threats.
An earlier article discussed the devastating effects of a thermonuclear attack on New York - likely if America launches nuclear war on Russia, an unthinkable real possibility.
The city and any other struck would be incinerated. Almost instantly after detonation, temperature at ground zero would be 200 million degrees Fahrenheit (about 100 million degrees Celsius), or about four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun. 
Enormous heat and light would ignite fires covering over 100 square miles. Firestorm intensity would create superheated winds of about 300 miles per hour.
Nothing could withstand their overwhelming force. Firestorm intensity would vaporize structures, turning midtown Manhattan into smoldering rubble.
Around 100 square miles of vegetation would become superheated dust. Raging fires would erupt up to nine miles from ground zero.
Material from collapsed buildings could continue bursting into flames when exposed to air months after the firestorm ended.
No one in affected areas could escape. Superheated hurricane-force winds would incinerate everyone. The firestorm would extinguish all life in its path and destroy most everything else.
Last spring, over 150 countries participated in a Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
It aimed to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and entirely eliminate this menace.
Conferences have been held every five years since NPT became effective in 1970.
The 2015 conference addressed:
  • universality of NPT;

  • nuclear disarmament;

  • nuclear non-proliferation;

  • peaceful use of nuclear energy;

  • regional disarmament and non-proliferation;

  • implementation of the 1995 resolution on making the Middle East “free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction” and their delivery systems;

  • measures to address withdrawal from NPT;

  • ways to promote engagement with civil society in strengthening NPT; and

  • disarmament education.

Weeks of talks achieved nothing. Washington, Britain and Canada obstructed responsible change. They blocked agreement aimed at preventing nuclear weapons and technology proliferation.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday clock stands at three minutes to midnight, reflecting the “high” probability of “global catastrophe,” BAS saying last year:
“(U)nchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”
“World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”
Physician, anti-war/anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott explains “nuclear technology threatens life on our planet with extinction. If present trends continue, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced.”
Martin Luther King warned against nations “spiral(ing) down a militaristic stairway into the hell of (potential) thermonuclear destruction.”
Albert Einstein’s theories and work led to the development of atomic power. Splitting the atom changed everything, threatening life on earth. 
Einstein understood the danger, in 1946 saying “(o)ur world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil.” 
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
We have a choice. End nuclear weapons or they’ll end us.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

US Responsibility for Widespread Palmyra Destruction - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 21:39
US Responsibility for Widespread Palmyra Destruction
by Stephen Lendman
Washington bears full responsibility for ISIS capturing UNESCO World Heritage site Palmyra last May, causing widespread destruction and looting of precious artifacts, plundered from other sites in the country.
Russian air power helped Syrian ground forces liberate the city after weeks of heavy fighting, the most important strategic victory since Obama launched naked aggression in March 2011, using ISIS and other imported death squads as imperial foot soldiers, a major turning point in the war achieved.
Syrian presidential advisor Bouthiana Shaaban said throughout months of America’s air campaign, begun illegally in September 2014, together with coalition partners Britain, France and others, it “didn’t lift a finger” to prevent Palmyra’s fall.
It “pretended to fight terrorism” while helping ISIS fighters take the ancient city, knowing  widespread destruction and looting would follow, priceless artifacts lost forever, ending up in private collections.
Washington and its rogue allies could have prevented what happened. Instead of conducting airstrikes against advancing ISIS fighters, it supported them, its war on terrorism an utter hoax.
Its war on Iraq destroyed the cradle of civilization. It was complicit in the looting of precious artifacts from its National Museum in Baghdad.
Its head, Dony George, said looters knew what they wanted, including the priceless 5,000-year-old vase of Warka. 
British Museum’s John Curtis called its theft “like stealing the Mona Lisa.” Occupying US authorities did nothing to stop it.
They let ISIS plunder and destroy ancient sites in the country, including Hatra.
UNESCO called its destruction “a turning point in (its) appalling strategy of cultural cleansing…a direct attack against the history of Islamic Arab cities.”
Stealing Iraqi antiquities from museums and archeological sites began after America’s 1991 Gulf War. Iraq’s National Library was looted, centuries old Korans and irreplaceable historical documents stolen.
Wealthy collectors profited hugely, aided and abetted by Washington. The cradle of civilization and many of its treasures no longer exist.
During and after Obama’s naked aggression on Libya, it was looted and destroyed the same way, its historical artifacts stolen, ancient Roman Empire era city Leptis Magna and Phoenician trading post Sabratha terror-bombed.
America bears full responsibility for the looting and destruction of Syria, many of its priceless artifacts now in private collections, its historical heritage systematically plundered.
Wherever America shows up, mass slaughter, destruction, as well as looting national resources and priceless artifacts follow - a longstanding despicable legacy, continuing with no end in sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

FBI Breaks into iPhone. We Have Some Questions. - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 09:57

The FBI has successfully accessed data on an iPhone that has been the subject of a legal battle between the Justice Department and Apple, according to a court filing.

EFF is pleased that the Justice Department has retreated from its dangerous and unconstitutional attempt to force Apple to subvert the security of its iOS operating system. However, we are still calling on President Obama not to undermine security and encryption, and you can add your voice to the chorus.

In addition, this new method of accessing the phone raises questions about the government’s apparent use of security vulnerabilities in iOS and whether it will inform Apple about these vulnerabilities. As a panel of experts hand-picked by the White House recognized, any decision to withhold a security vulnerability for intelligence or law enforcement purposes leaves ordinary users at risk from malicious third parties who also may use the vulnerability. Thanks to a lawsuit by EFF, the government has released its official policy for determining when to disclose security vulnerabilities, the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP).

If the FBI used a vulnerability to get into the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, the VEP must apply, meaning that there should be a very strong bias in favor of informing Apple of the vulnerability. That would allow Apple to fix the flaw and protect the security of all its users. We look forward to seeing more transparency on this issue as well.

Related Cases: EFF v. NSA, ODNI - Vulnerabilities FOIA Apple Challenges FBI: All Writs Act Order (CA)
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Categories: Aggregated News

Abusive Site-Blocking Tactics By American Bridal and Prom Industry Association Collapse Under Scrutiny - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 04:38

In early 2012, after a massive public outcry, Congress abandoned the proposed SOPA bill that would have authorized broad, ex parte site-blocking orders. One of SOPA’s most worrying features was that it would have created new, easy-to-obtain court orders against third parties, such as domain name registrars, ad networks, payment providers, and search engines. Unfortunately, some rightsholders have been trying to convince courts that existing law already allows them to get the same sort of site-blocking orders. They are wrong.

The most recent site-blocking case was filed by an industry group called the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association together with some of its member companies (collectively “American Bridal”). They filed a complaint in the Northern District of Illinois naming a whopping 3,343 websites as defendants. American Bridal claimed the defendants were engaged in trademark and copyright infringement and asked the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The defendants did not get a chance to appear and defend themselves, since the hearing was ex parte. In addition to asking the court to enjoin the alleged infringement, American Bridal asked for an order that would require third parties, like domain name registrars and payment processors, to take down websites and freeze funds.

The court granted the TRO. After the order was entered, many defendants began to contact the court to claim they’d been improperly caught up in American Bridal’s dragnet. American Bridal had alleged that “all” of the defendants were Chinese counterfeiters who hid their identity by submitting fake Whois information for their domain names. This did not turn out to be true. For example, one defendant was an Irish business that had provided accurate contact details when it registered its domain.

Things got interesting at the next hearing. The judge said that “red flags are all over this file” and expressed concern that American Bridal had not done enough investigation before filing suit. Unfortunately, much of the damage had been done. Because the TRO had required registrars to turn control of domain names over to American Bridal, every defendant’s business had been either destroyed or massively disrupted.

American Bridal’s tactics raised some very serious problems:

  • Jurisdiction: American Bridal argued that anyone who offered goods for sale online from anywhere in the world could be brought into court in the Northern District of Illinois. But it is not the case that every Internet business can be sued in any American court. To be sued in Illinois, for example, a company must actually target that market in some way.
  • Joinder: American Bridal sued over 3,000 defendants in the same lawsuit without providing any evidence that the defendants were related. Though it may seem like a technical issue, misjoinder raises important fairness considerations. An innocent party caught up in a lawsuit with thousands of other defendants will have a very hard time presenting its individual defenses.
  • Due Process: American Bridal asked for an injunction that would bind hundreds of Internet intermediaries like domain name registrars, payment processors, and others who had no opportunity to participate and challenge the order. In addition, the proposed injunction treated these neutral service providers as if they were “aiders and abettors” of the alleged infringement. Courts cannot enjoin non-parties unless they work in “active concert” with the defendants.

We prepared an amicus brief addressing some of these issues. We planned to submit the brief to the court but American Bridal dismissed its claims before we got a chance. Faced with the judge’s skepticism (particularly regarding whether the court had jurisdiction), American Bridal slunk away rather than receive a written order dismissing its case. 

American Bridal’s tactics show how important it is for courts to carefully scrutinize requests for ex parte site-blocking orders. Without briefing on both sides, courts can miss important issues. For example, the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Blockowicz v. Williams (which is binding precedent in the Northern District of Illinois) holds that courts cannot issue an injunction against neutral service providers who aren’t parties to the case. American Bridal never told the court about the Blockowicz decision, and the court issued its TRO before any defendant had a chance to mention it.

We hope that this post, and our brief, will be helpful if any companies get caught up in a similar dragnet. We will be on the lookout for other rightsholders seeking improper, SOPA-like orders.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Message from Palmyra - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 02:05
Message from Palmyra
by Stephen Lendman
Routing ISIS from Palmyra decisively is the most important strategic victory in the struggle to liberate Syria from foreign terrorist invaders since Obama launched naked aggression in March 2011. 
He continues using them as imperial foot soldiers, death squad mercenaries, not Syrians waging civil conflict, the official Big Lie.
Triumph over the weekend highlighted the enormous contribution of Russian air power, logistical and other support. 
Moscow backs its allies forthrightly. Washington uses other countries to further its imperial interests. The difference in approaches is stark.
Since Russia intervened on September 30, the tide of battle turned. ISIS and other terrorist groups suffered significant defeats. They continue losing ground to government forces.
Russia’s anti-terrorist campaign is real. US intervention with its allies is phony - anti-Syrian, pro-terrorists they support, bombing infrastructure and government sites while pretending otherwise. 
Russia’s vital contribution to liberating Palmyra from ISIS exposed the Big Lie about its campaign targeting (nonexistent) “moderate rebels,” killing civilians and striking nonmilitary sites - but don’t expect scoundrel media explanations.
Washington’s aerial campaign supported by covert special forces and weapons smuggled cross-border along with other material support helped ISIS and other terrorist groups advance against Syrian troops, gain control of large parts of the nation’s territory.
US support for terrorists continues despite claims otherwise, longstanding policy since mujahideen fighters were recruited in Afghanistan against Soviet Russia.
Moscow’s intervention turned things around decisively, perhaps one day making Syrian liberation possible.
At the same time, it handed Washington a major geopolitical defeat, foiling its regional imperial agenda, maybe liberating Iraq the next shoe to drop.
On Sunday, Putin congratulated Assad. According to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, both leaders spoke by phone.
Putin stressed Moscow’s continued support for its Syrian ally, his commitment to defeat the scourge of terrorism. Russian air power, intelligence and other support made liberating Palmyra possible, Peskov explained.
Iran remains a valued Syrian ally. Its Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani called “(t)he real resolve and determination of the Syrian nation, government and army to purge the territories occupied by terrorist and Takfiri groups…reason for praise and pride…”
“(T)he Iranian government and armed forces will continue their full support for Syria and the axis of resistance” against dark forces vital to defeat.
Liberating Palmyra facilitates more strategic victories against ISIS and other terrorist groups controlling Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian territory. It makes final victory more possible.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Obama Won't Meet with Erdogan in Washington - Tue, 29/03/2016 - 01:52
Obama Won’t Meet with Erdogan in Washington
by Stephen Lendman
They’re close allies, partnering in each other’s high crimes. They last met in Washington for a state visit in 2013.
Not this time on the occasion of Erdogan attending a DC Nuclear Security Summit (NSS 2016) on March 31 and April 1. According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama declined to “join him for the inauguration of a Turkish-funded mosque in Maryland” or at the White House for a formal visit.
They last met at the G20 summit in Turkey last November and spoke by phone last month. Delegations from 51 nations will attend the summit.
Obama has only one scheduled face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Journal calling Erdogan a key US partner against ISIS is an utter perversion of truth. He partners with Washington in supporting the terrorist group.
Previous articles explained he provides its fighters with safe haven in Turkey, trains them on its soil, lets them pass freely cross-border into Syria, supplies them with weapons and other material support, along with selling their stolen oil.
Obama and other Western leaders remain virtually silent about his war on Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, criminalizing dissent, silencing free expression, imprisoning more journalists than any other leader.
European leaders bribed him with billions of euros to turn Turkey into a concentration camp for desperate refugees, depriving them of all rights, at times extrajudicially killing them at border crossings.
Preparations for both leaders meeting in Washington were arranged months ago. Erdogan’s press service reportedly has no information about any change of plans. He’ll arrive here on March 29, departing on April 2.
Turkey remains a key US ally, a NATO member. Obama declining to meet with him on his Washington visit doesn’t indicate cooler ties between both states. One fascist regime supports the other.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Turkey's War on Press Freedom - Mon, 28/03/2016 - 21:31
Turkey’s War on Press Freedom
by Stephen Lendman
Police states give no quarter, Turkey under Erdogan one of the worst. Criticizing his policies risks arrest, prosecution, imprisonment or assassination. Dissent is a criminal offense.
A previous article said journalists, academics, public figures, human rights activists, even young children criticizing regime policy face charges ranging from insulting the president to terrorism, espionage or treason.
Turkey imprisons more journalists than any other country. Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul face espionage and treason charges, longterm imprisonment if convicted for doing their jobs responsibly.
Cumhuriyet published photos of Ankara intelligence smuggling weapons to ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria - including artillery and mortar shells, as well as heavy and regular machine gun rounds - clear evidence along with volumes more showing Erdogan’s ties to ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Last November in court, Dundar said he and Gul “came to defend journalism…to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies.” 
“We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this.”
Both men were imprisoned pending trial, held three months, largely in solitary confinement. In late February, Turkey’s constitutional court (its highest judicial authority) ordered them released, ruling their rights were violated.
Erdogan said they’d be tried anyway, promising they’ll “pay a heavy price.” Proceedings began in March, adjourned on Friday - to continue secretly beginning April 1, closed to the public, media coverage prohibited.
Addressing supporters, Dundar said “(w)hat we have been trying to say since the beginning is that the government is trying to hide this case.” 
“They are trying to take it away from the people. They are trying to hide not just the case but the news piece which is the subject of the case.” 
“Because they are caught in the act here. And there is a government which is caught in the act in front of the whole world. We will keep our challenge up till the end regarding the freedom of the press, the freedom of justice, and allowing people to learn the truth.”
Dundar explained he and Gul were targeted as punishment for responsible journalism and to intimidate others.
Erdogan blasted foreign diplomats, academics and journalists for packing the courtroom before proceedings were temporarily adjourned.
Turkey’s regime controlled media called them “inva(ders).” Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov denounced the show trial as one of numerous “blatant violations of the freedom of the press, of speech and of expression by Turkish authorities.”
Ankara launched “a crackdown on the media that takes the liberty of providing more or less impartial coverage of the Turkish government’s policy.” 
“They are persecuted. And this is not the only example. Some journalists have already been sentenced for insulting President Erdogan.”
Regime authorities “fear…exposure of their abusive practices (and) international law violations.”
Erdogan is a world-class thug, a valued US ally, feted by Western leaders, his high crimes ignored.
A Final Comment
Major media in America are virtually state controlled, operating as mouthpieces of power, supporting imperial wars and corporate interests, reporting little about civil and human rights abuses, especially harming the nation’s most disadvantaged.
Print media would lose access to government officials for exposing their high crimes and other abuses of power. So would broadcasters along with losing their operating licenses. Now they use public airwaves free of charge.
The main difference between Turkey and America is style, not policy. Anyone challenging regime authority in both countries risks harsh recrimination. 
The same holds in other Western societies and Israel - tyrannies masquerading as democracies.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Israeli Rabbi Wants Non-Jews Banished - Mon, 28/03/2016 - 21:19
Israeli Rabbi Wants Non-Jews Banished
by Stephen Lendman
Israel is unfit to live in, including for most Jews, a society serving its privileged few alone like America. 
Arab citizens (20% of the population) are treated like fifth column threats, denied rights afforded Jews, Knesset members representing them treated like potted plants.
Religious extremists like chief Sephardic rabbi Yitzhak Yosef have enormous influence. Instead of denouncing their unacceptable ideology, they’re embraced as distinguished figures. 
Josef wants non-Jews banished for not observing Judaic law, saying “gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel.”
“If a gentile does not agree to take on the Seven (Laws of Noah, binding on everyone, according to the Talmud), we should send him to Saudi Arabia. When the true and complete redemption arrives, that is what we will do.”
Yosef believes the only reason non-Jews are allowed to live in Israel is because the Messiah hasn’t arrived. Their role is serving Jews, equal rights denied.
Weeks earlier, he urged Israelis to kill alleged Palestinian “terrorists” without fear of legal consequences, calling it a religious imperative.
“If someone comes to kill you, you kill him first. Don’t start being afraid with all kinds…that they’ll make about him later in the High Court of Justice, or that some chief of staff will come and say something different,” he said.
“It deters them too. The moment a terrorist knows that if he comes with a knife he won’t return alive, that will deter them. That’s why it’s a mitzvah to kill him.”
Religious extremists like Yosef and secular counterparts like Netanyahu run Israel, a nation unfit to live in for Jews and non-Jews alike, militarized for unchallenged control.
Palestinian human rights activist Imad Abu Shamsiya captured on videotape an Israeli soldier lethally shooting Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, lying helpless on the ground.
He’s receiving death threats from extremist settlers, was detained, interrogated and threatened by Israel’s military, forced to hand over the original copy of his tape, saying he was told:
“How will you benefit from this video? It got a lot of publicity. Your name is known to everyone.” 
“Who is going to protect you and your family from right-wing Israelis? Remember you live in (Tel Rumeida), surrounded by Israeli settlers. Who will be able to protect you there?
He’s gotten cell phone death threats and taunts by settlers shouting at him for hours outside his home.
“I now fear for my life and the life of my family,” he said. “I’m afraid they might attack my house and do me harm.”
He’s been targeted before. Last year, extremist settlers set his home ablaze, no one held accountable for the crime.
He’s deputy coordinator for Human Rights Defenders, a Hebron-based group involved in documenting West Bank abuses committed by soldiers and settlers.
Lunatics running Israel represent pure evil, the nation an affront to humanity, an apartheid police state masquerading as democratic.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.



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