News feeds

Abbas: Longtime Israeli Collaborator

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 10/08/2014 - 03:34
Abbas: Longtime Israeli Collaborator
by Stephen Lendman
Note: This article was written before my two month illness. It remained unsubmitted on my desktop.
It's appropriate now given Abbas' less than wholehearted condemnation of Israeli mass murder and destruction in Gaza.
It continues as this article is posted on my blog site and sent to web editors.
Abbas is a longtime Israeli co-conspirator and collaborator against his own people. He shames the office Israel arranged for him to hold. He governs illegitimately.
Israel rigged his 2005 election. It was payback for enforcer services rendered. For betraying his own people.
He profited greatly. He serves illegitimately. His term expired in January 2009. He refuses to call new elections. 
He shames the office he holds. Why Palestinians put up with him, they'll have to explain.
He admitted collaborating with the enemy. Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah explained. More on this below.
Deep-seated corruption and other crimes against his own people continue on his watch.
Large-scale Palestinian resistance is badly needed. Submissiveness is self-defeating. A third Intifada is long overdue. Not on Abbas' watch.
"We will not go back to terrorism and violence," he said. Israel wrote his lines. 
He dutifully regurgitated them as ordered. "We will only operate through diplomacy and through peaceful means," he said.
He permits occupation harshness, passivity and acquiescence alone. Freedom isn't in his vocabulary. 
Liberation struggles aren't tolerated. Israeli rogues couldn't say it better. Abbas serves them. He's a convenient stooge.
Months earlier, Israeli President Shimon Peres praised him, saying:
He "condemned terror and has pledged that under his leadership there will not be a third intifada." 
"He understands very well that the solution to the Palestinian refugee problem cannot be within Israeli territory, so as not to change the demographic character of Israel." 
"But he has put out a hand to Israel to renew the peace process."
Israel values collaborationist Palestinians. Abbas sold out long ago. He's more double agent than legitimate leader.
The late Edward Said (1935 - 2003) met him in March 1977. At a Cairo National Council meeting.
It launched secret PLO/Israeli meetings. It "made Oslo possible," Said said. It didn't matter.
Israelis came prepared. They "fielded an array of experts supported by maps, documents, statistics, and at least 17 prior drafts (before) Palestinians" accepted what demanded rejection, Said explained. 
"Three PLO men" alone were allowed to negotiate. "(N)ot one of whom knew English or had a background in international (or any other kind of) law," said Said.
"The outcome was predictable, a one-sided agreement for Israel. Palestinians getting nothing besides anointment as 'Israel's sheriff,' " Said explained.
In his 1995 memoir, "Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo," Abbas took unfair credit.
He anointed himself Oslo's architect. He never left Tunis. "Arafat pull(ed) all the strings," said Said. 
He arranged his own capitulation. "No wonder then that the Oslo negotiations made the overall situation of the Palestinians a good deal worse." 
Said called Abbas "colorless, moderately corrupt, and without any clear ideas of his own, except that he wants to please the white man."
His "authenticity (was) lacking in the path" he chose to follow. He was a tailor-made stooge. Hugely corrupt later on.
Concerned solely for his own welfare. Mindless of Palestinian rights. He represents Quisling leadership.
He's against Palestine's liberating struggle. He knew about Cast Lead in advance. A previous article explained.
On November 30, 2010, Reuters headlined "Israel says Abbas, Egypt warned on Gaza war - leaks," saying:
Ahead of Cast Lead, Israel "conferred with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership and with Egypt..."
Leaked US diplomatic cables quoted a senior Israeli official confirming it. Haaretz reported the same thing. Mubarak and Abbas were briefed in advance.
Haaretz said "Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian authority." WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables confirming it.
In June 2009, months before Cast Lead, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US congressional members.
He "consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead." He asked "if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas."
He "received negative answers from both." Previous leaked information reported the same thing. WikiLeaks provided "the first documented proof."
Abbas denied getting advance word. He lied. Mubarak said nothing either way.
Reuters said Abbas "urged Israel to crush Hamas during the war."
Avigdor Lieberman held ministerial positions under Sharon and Ehud Olmert. In April 2009, he became Netanyahu's Foreign Minister.
He explained Abbas' involvement, saying:
"Over the past year, I witnessed (Abbas) at his best. In Operation Cast Lead, (he) called us personally, applied pressure, and demanded that we topple Hamas and remove it from power."
Throughout Cast Lead, a senior Olmert official called his comments "essentially accurate."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this information "reaffirms the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer fit to represent our people, who conspired against his people during a war."
Abbas was never fit to serve. That's why Israel and Washington chose him.
WikiLeaks disclosed that Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardaweel said:
"We have not ruled out that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority could have contributed in one way or another in the war against Gaza for political reasons such as bringing down the Hamas movement and regaining control."
Washington's Tel Aviv embassy said Fatah officials asked Israel to attack Hamas.
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin said "demoralized" Fatah officials wanted help to destroy Hamas.
"They are approaching a zero-sum situation," he said. "(Y)et they ask us to attack Hamas. They are desperate. This is a new development. We have never seen this before."
"Fatah is in a very bad shape in Gaza. We have received requests to train their forces in Egypt and Yemen." 
"We would like them to get the training they need, and to be more powerful, but they do not have anyone to lead them."
Shin Bet has a "very good working relationship" with Abbas. His internal security service collaborates with Israel. 
He understands "Israel's security is central to (his) survival in the struggle with Hamas…"
At the time, Fatah collaborated with Washington to oust Hamas. An abortive coup failed. More information surfaced.
WikiLeaks published a June 12, 2007 cable. It said Israeli military intelligence head Amos Yadlin told US embassy officials that Hamas retaining power in Gaza was advantageous.
"Although not necessarily representing a GOI (government of Israel) consensus view," said Yadlin, 
"Israel would be 'happy' if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with (it) as a hostile state."
Israel needs manufactured enemies. Having them facilitates violence and instability. They help justify small and larger-scale wars.
Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud were planned months in advance. Their aim was advancing Israel's imperium.
Doing so involves controlling all valued parts of Judea and Samaria, depopulating much of Palestine, and confining remaining population elements to canonized worthless scrubland.
Both conflicts were more about weakening Hamas than destroying it. They involved waging war on noncombatant men, women, children, infants and the elderly.
It's official Israeli policy. Abbas and other Fatah officials knew about Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud in advance. They urged them.
Abbas did nothing to help beleaguered Gazans. He approved Israeli slaughter and mass destruction.
It bears repeating. Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. 
According to Abunimah, he "told Israeli journalists and business people that his collaboration with Israeli occupation forces is 'sacred' and would continue even if the PA forms a 'government' backed by the Palestinian military resistance organization Hamas."
"The security relationship…and I say it on air, security coordination is sacred, is sacred," Abbas stressed.
"And we'll continue it whether we disagree or agree over policy." 
"US-financed PA intelligence and security forces work closely with Israeli occupation forces and Shin Bet secret police to suppress any Palestinian resistance to occupation," said Abunimah.
Abbas showed which side he's on numerous times before.
"In 2012, he pleaded with a visiting Israel lobby delegation to help him secure weapons from Israel to stop resistance," Abunimah explained.
"If they help me to get weapons, I'm helping them because I’m promoting security," Abbas said.
He praised Oslo at the same time. He did so disgracefully. It was unilateral surrender. A Palestinian Versailles.
A vaguely defined negotiating process was agreed on. No fixed timeline or outcome were specified. 
Israeli officials obstructed and delayed. They refused to make concessions. They kept stealing Palestinian land. They never stopped.
Colonization is policy. Occupation harshness enforces it. Negotiating with Israel is fruitless. 
Palestinians got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks. They're still waiting.
Major issues include Palestinian self-determination. Free from occupation. Inside 1967 borders. The right of return.
Settlements. Clearly defined borders. Water and other resource rights. Air and coastal water rights. East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital.
Abbas feigns support. Privately he backs Israeli delay and deny tactics. He openly declared opposition to boycotting Israel.
He wants diaspora Palestinians denied their right of return. He said so publicly. It bears repeating.
He's a longtime Israeli collaborator. He's a world class traitor. He's a scoundrel writ large. He betrayed his own people. 
He did so for special benefits he derives. He's more Zionist than Palestinian. Liberation is impossible with him in charge.
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. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

A Recap of the First EFF CUP Workshop

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 10:50

Updated: August 13th, 11:13AM to clarify that Wickr does not maintain private key servers

At the SOUPS conference in July, we convened the first EFF CUP Workshop. The one-day event brought together a diverse group of software developers and researchers around the common goal of developing an end-to-end encryption communication tool which is both secure and usable. Specifically, our goal was to explore the current state-of-the-art and evaluate the feasibility and usefulness of awarding a prize for the solution today that is closest to this goal.

We began the day with an invited talk from Trevor Perrin (slides here), who's been prolific in this space and started the excellent Modern Crypto mailing lists. Trevor laid out the many technical challenges in secure messaging; for many there are two or three plausible solutions but each has trade-offs and we generally don't know what will be usable for the masses and practical at scale. For example, is it better to build a designated application for secure messaging? Or design a plugin or overlay to bring security to an existing application? There are also a number of unsolved technical problems like verifying the mapping from crypto keys to users. Will users ever find a way for users to intuitively understand and verify key fingerprints? Or can another solution, based on a centralized distribution server with sufficient transparency logs to keep it honest, win out?

Next up we had a number of developers present 2-3 minute demos of their work, which are now available online. We started with four projects showcasing four different approaches to key exchange and verification: Confusion (video) which uses short shared passwords to derive anonymized key exchange messages which are then broadcast; OkTurtles (video) which uses DNSChain (built on NameCoin) to tie public keys to names using a Bitcoin-like block chain; Petmail (video) which allows users to share short invitation-codes and exchange keys over relay servers (which may be anonymous); and SafeSlinger (video), a protocol designed for small groups of people (up to 9) to exchange keys in-person using their mobile devices (though it may also be used remotely). The first three of these projects all are relatively complex and early-stage, with advanced security features. Trying to explain them to a room full of technically-minded people showcased the difficulty in designing an elegant user interface. But they also all demonstrated that there are still many novel architectures possible. SafeSlinger, by contrast, is further along, with deployed apps already being used in practice and looks like a nice breakthrough for in-person key exchange which avoids the traditional problem of users neglecting to carefully compare keys.

Next we heard from two projects aiming to re-imagine email and put users in charge of their data: Mailpile (video), a web-based email interface which can be self-hosted or cloud-hosted and which is designed with PGP support built in; and Kinko (video), a complete mail-transfer agent to be contained in an open-source hardware appliance. Both projects are alpha-stage but represent exciting efforts to make email as elegant and easy as today's commercial webmail without relying on remote storage. The two projects also appear to complement each other well. A key challenge discussed was how to blend PGP-encrypted email with unencrypted email (when communicating with recipients without PGP support), particularly in email threads with multiple participants, and explain this all to users.

Next were Wickr (video) and ChatSecure, both chat applications available for Android and iOS that already have significant numbers of users. The approaches vary: Wickr is a proprietary application with centralized public key servers used for authenticating conversations, while ChatSecure uses the well-known OTR protocol. While many attendees expressed concern about trusting a non-open-source application, it was interesting to contrast Wickr's sales pitch which focuses on simplicity and fun with the security-focused pitches of many other projects.

The next session had demos from Scramble (video), Xmail (video), and Google's End-to-End. All three are browser plugins enabling encrypted communication to be added in a variety of different websites.

Finally we heard from GPGTools (video) and OpenKeychain (video), frontends for GPG in Mac OS X and Android, respectively. PGP, for better and for worse, has been around for quite some time now and both projects reported some struggles with backwards-compatibility issues.

The tool demonstrations and discussions underscored the point that key verification is the catastrophic weakness in all of the available end-to-end cryptosystems.  Beyond that, subsets of them also fail to be usable because of key discovery, installation difficulties, version incompatibilities, or simply bugs -- and of course many fail to be secure for purely technical reasons.  Although some innovation has improved it slightly (shared secrets in OTR, words as session verifiers in RedPhone and SilentPhone) it isn't clear that these techniques are secure against a sophisticated adversary.

After lunch we had two panels. The first was on usability metrics. Ann-Marie Horcher presented a framework for quantifying the difficulty of using software by measuring the number of actions tasks take and the complexity of those actions. While not perfect, this can be a way to get a sense of how complicated an interface is without a large user test. By contrast, Peter Eckersley discussed a more ambitious approach with participants being asked to communicate with each other in an "alternative reality game" that would include simulated man-in-the-middle attacks to try to evaluate how a tool holds up against plausible real-world attacks. This might be the ultimate test of success, but in discussion concerns were raised about the cost of doing this and that it might only be appropriate for comparing the usability of very mature tools.  Adrienne Porter Felt pointed out that preliminary evaluations, walkthroughs and user testing would make more sense to start out with. Overall the panel discussion focused on early, simple tests and panelists agreed that it will be very hard to ever be "done" with a usable and secure messaging app, it will be a process of continual refinement and many projects seem a considerable way from victory.

The final panel of the day focused on the big question of organizing a contest. It was structured as a panel and we had interesting contributions from several panelists with experience in contests and crowd-funding in other contexts (some of these have been successful, but it is clear they need to be designed with care), and Kurt Opsahl on EFF's contest-like Encrypt the Web scorecard, but it quickly led to an open-ended discussion with many attendees participating. A number of design considerations were raised about holding a contest: will we be able to conclusively evaluate projects? Can ensure that the contest fosters a climate of collaboration? Will it be unfair comparing projects with distinct goals? Will we need a large number of different criteria and prizes? Does it make sense to give prize money to projects once they've achieved goals, instead of using the money to help them achieve those goals? Will a contest motivate new work?

A few themes emerged from discussion. One is that most, if not all, projects are not where we'd like them to be, and nearly all of the free/open source efforts are struggling for resources. In particular, only a handful of the free/open source projects have designers or usability evaluators on their teams. One possible explanation was that for financial reasons, designers are much less able to work for free in support of open-source projects than software developers are, so they're rarely involved.  One route discussed was to try to find UX researchers in academia to fill this gap.  Participating academics said that existing HCI conferences and journals would not publish incremental evaluations or attempts to improve encryption tools, because the problem was considered "answered": those tools are unusable.  It was concluded that special issues of journals, new conference tracks, or entirely new workshops would be needed before academic researchers would have career incentives to assist in pushing toward the first usable, secure communications tools.

Another solution proposed for the "design gap" was to introduce and fund designers to work with promising projects.  Some viewed this approach as more relevant to a prize, at least at this stage.  Yet there are also good arguments against switching from a contest paradigm to more of a grant-making paradigm. For one, there's value to singling out a winner for the sake of publicity and encouraging the community to adopt and support a champion, even if the selection process isn't perfect. Second, there are already many organizations supplying grants. One of the core competencies we can contribute is technical expertise to run a contest.

One point of discussion was whether to organize a single large prize contest, or a series of smaller ones. Many projects are still too immature to be evaluated as finished products and we still don't know exactly what criteria we want in the end. Smaller, targeted contests, perhaps on an annual basis, or perhaps a series of rounds building up to a final prize round in the future, might be more practical goals. A synthesis of these ideas was basing the contest on a "scorecard" of both the security and usability properties of tools; there could be a prize for the (potentially distant) goal of reaching a perfect score, but along the way projects could track their progress in meaningful, incremental ways.

Overall, it was a very productive and interesting day. We had not yet made any firm decisions about whether to organize a formal prize. The main goal was to learn as much as possible from the people whose support and participation we'll need to make a contest worthwhile. We certainly achieved that goal, and had a fascinating gathering of a perse group of minds interested in making progress on a challenging but worthwhile problem. Thanks to everybody who helped make it happen!

Related Issues: PrivacySecurity
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Google Boosts Secure Sites in Search Results

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 07:46

In a bold and welcome move to protect users, Google announced on Wednesday that they have started prioritizing sites offering HTTPS (HTTP over TLS) in their page ranking algorithm. Google's Online Security Blog explains that domains with transport layer encryption have a slight advantage in search results, and the preference may grow stronger in the coming months:

For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

The post also provides solid recommendations for webmasters adopting TLS—use a strong 2048-bit key and check your configuration with the Qualys Lab tool.

This move to protect end users and reward sites taking steps to ensure the privacy and security of their visitors fits into a long tradition of advancing encryption at Google. The company led the field when it introduced HTTPS by default for Gmail and for search in 2010. As revelations of the NSA-GCHQ MUSCULAR program tapping the links between Google data centers came to light in late October 2013, it responded quickly in early November by announcing it would begin encrypting the traffic on its internal network. Google was also an early adopter of STARTTLS, encrypting the traffic between email providers, and recently provided a comprehensive data set to help us understand Internet-wide trends in STARTTLS adoption.

This week's announcement further underlines a commitment to encrypting Internet traffic and keeping user data safe, and encouraging others to do so. We urge Google to go further and carry out its plan to strengthen the preference of HTTPS sites, as well as favoring sites that have configured HTTPS well, such as by enabling Perfect Forward Secrecy.

Qualys, the organization that provides the configuration-testing tool, also has a best practices guide that may be useful for webmasters configuring HTTPS.

Related Issues: Security
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Australian Proposal Would Require Suspicionless Domestic Spying by ISPs

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 06:49

The Australian government announced new anti-terrorism measures this week, in response to the alleged involvement of Australian citizens with extremist groups in countries including Syria and Iraq. Quietly omitted from the briefing at which those changes were announced, but separately leaked to the press this week, were the government's plans to introduce mandatory data retention requirements for Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

These changes are causing an outcry from privacy advocates and political parties alike. And they should.

The new measures remain shrouded in confusion—some of which is coming from its very proponents. There have been conflicting reports about whether users' browser history would be hoovered up by the new surveillance laws. And in a now infamous interview, Attorney General George Brandis struggled to explain how retaining the addresses of websites visited was different than determining what content users were viewing. Prime Minster Tony Abbott also attempted and failed to make the same distinction two days later.

The government has attempted to clarify, emphasizing that the data retained would include the IP addresses of websites visited, as well as the times and durations of visits. Also included would be senders' and recipients' email addresses, IP addresses assigned to users, as well as details of phone calls such as caller and recipient numbers, caller location and duration.

This is still an extraordinary amount of information. And EFF has previously explained why metadata matters at least as much as the content of communications. Users can take no solace in the fact that content is not being collected. As former National Security Agency General Counsel Stu Baker said: “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” Metadata includes information like who your contacts are, where and when you go online, and websites that you may legally visit that might be politically subversive, iconoclastic, or simply your own private business. But as a Stanford study earlier this year demonstrated, it can also reveal “medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more.”

So how is the government spinning this? One rationale for data retention sometimes heard in this debate is that ISPs collect some of this metadata already anyway for technical and billing purposes. But this rationale falls short—under Australian privacy law they are not permitted to collect personal data that they do not need, nor are they permitted to retain it for longer than they need it for the purpose of collection. That would all change under this new proposal, which may help explain why ISPs are expressing concerns and confusion about the potential mandate.

Although threatening, the proposal is not exactly new. Most recently it resurrects the subject of a 2012 discussion paper that recommended that ISPs be required to maintain the metadata of users for two years. At the time, a member of the current government, who was then in opposition, likened proposals for data retention to Gestapo tactics, and they were eventually dropped into the lead-up to the 2013 general election.

So if the proposals wouldn't fly in 2012 under the previous government, why now—particularly in light of leaked documents from Edward Snowden that show the role Australia has played in the NSA's invasive surveillance? The Prime Minister himself admits that the terrorist threat has not changed. Yet in a replay of the rushed introduction of similar laws in the United Kingdom last month, the new proposal could become law as soon as next month, before it has even been tabled for consideration of the Cabinet.

It appears the government is attempting to manipulate allegations of Australian citizens' involvement in terrorist activities overseas, to justify a much broader and more intrusive domestic surveillance regime. It's a cynical move, and one that the Australian public should not stand for.

Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data Retention
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Middle East in Turmoil

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 05:56
Middle East in Turmoil
by Stephen Lendman
Again my great thanks to the many friends, colleagues and readers welcoming me back, sending me get well wishes from around the world.
It means so much to me. I thanked everyone and will ahead. Support messages mean so much emotionally and physically.
I continue my recovery as an outpatient. It's my top priority. I hope to write and do media work as able. It's what I love best.
It was agonizing being silenced during the worst of Israel's genocidal slaughter of non-combatant men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.
The mass destruction of their neighborhoods, homes, property, vital infrastructure, loved ones and everything they hold dear. 
The cruel, calculated, premeditated state-sponsored aggression by one of the world's most powerful, ruthless military killing machines against near defenseless people is indefensible.
The murder of nonviolent West Bank protesters compounded the outrage. 
Israel is a rogue terror state. It thrives on violence and instability.
It aims to be the sole regional power. It's the only country without fixed borders.
It wants them expanded. It wants regional lines redrawn. It wants current Middle East states balkanized. It wants added territory at the expense of other nations.
It's mindless of international law, norms and standards. US tax dollars support its lawless agenda. 
The sham ceasefire and go nowhere peace talks were dead on arrival. Longterm all talk, no give, is official Israeli policy. 
Gazans want long denied justice. They won't tolerate more of the same. Nor should they. 
All Palestinians want the same thing - lifting the lawless siege Israel by its own admission says is political, not security related.
Israel's only enemies are ones it invents. The same is true for America.
Palestinians are systematically denied. They want Gaza's siege lifted. They want occupation ended. 
They deserve real, universally recognized self-determination. The right of return. Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital. 
The release of thousands of political prisoners. The end of future mass arrests, torture, imprisonment, and land theft.
It bears repeating. Palestinians want what everyone deserves - peace, equity and justice.
They want what Israel categorically refuses to give. It bears repeating. Cairo talks were dead on arrival.
Resumed war may result. Hundreds more Palestinians my die. Maybe thousands.
Countless others may be injured. Some seriously. Others maimed for life. Israel remains unaccountable for unspeakable crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide.
Cairo talks went nowhere as expected. Israel yields nothing. America and Western allies one-sidedly support its killing machine.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Cairo are not terrorist organizations. Hamas was democratically elected Palestine's government in January 2006.
It and similar groups are legitimate resistance organizations. They're afforded the right of self-defense against Israeli premeditated aggression under international law.
Israel bears full responsibility for all violent outbreaks. Hamas and others are wrongfully blamed. They justifiably respond when attacked. The disturbing pattern repeats ad nauseam. 
Israel willfully attacked UN refuge centers. It outrageously suggested Hamas responsibility. Civilians were deliberately targeted and murdered in cold blood.
Israel's terror war against non-combatants is called Dahiya or the Dahiya Doctrine. It's named after a Beirut suburb IDF forces  attacked and destroyed in the 2006 Lebanon war.
IDF Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot explained, saying:
"What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on." 
"We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction."
"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases."
Israel prioritizes damaging or destroying power and other vital infrastructure, assets, economic interests, and centers of civilian power and influence.
Doing so requires longterm reconstruction. It's hard to accomplish in Gaza because of the siege.
International law protects civilians, their property and non-military targets. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited.
Israel ignores all international laws with impunity. It repeatedly commits mass murder and destruction unaccountably.
The world community able to act does nothing. Washington generously funds Israel's killing machine. Both countries are partners in unspeakable crimes.
Afghans, Palestinians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Lebanese and others throughout the region suffer from crimes America, Israel and their rogue allies commit.
After Israel refused to agree to fundamental Palestinian demands in Gaza, the sham ceasefire ended for now. Bombing and shelling resumed. Where things end, who knows.
Israel's so-called Operation Protective Edge reflects premeditated mass murder and destruction. 
Civilians are willfully targeted. Hamas uses no human shields. Gaza is small and densely populated. 
Not one square inch of space is free from Israeli targeting. Every IDF attack is planned. They're deliberate. None are accidental.
Israel has precision weapons. They can accurately strike chosen targets. 
Gazans are trapped in the world's largest open air prison. They're stuck. They can't leave. There's no place to seek safety.
Israeli mass murder is like shooting fish in a barrel. IDF forces take full advantage.
It bears close watching where things go from here. Given longstanding history, things ahead look grim. Injustice remains.
Death, destruction and human misery haunts millions of Palestinians. The PA speaks piously. It does precious little to help its own people.
Abbas and other longtime Israeli collaborators are traitors. They're Israeli enforcers.
Abbas sided with Israel against Hamas in Operation Cast Lead. It's hard believing his pro-Israeli policy changed now.
He's not gone public condemning Israeli crimes in the strongest possible way. His attitude reflects continued siding with the enemy against his own people.
Israel's current Operation Protective Edge is Cast Lead on steroids. It could continue much longer.
Generous US tax dollars fund it. More money, weapons and political support come on request.
Trapped Palestinians remain on their own. They're struggling to survive against one of the world's most ruthless, lawless regimes.
It's the most one-sided mismatch anywhere. America, Western allies, Saudi Arabia and most other Gulf states support Israel.
So do Jordan and other regional Arab states. Palestinians are treated like Hitler's untermenschen - nonpersons, yesterday's garbage and much worse.
Israel treats Palestinians the way Nazis treated Jews. Nothing in prospect look encouraging. Long denied justice remains light years away.
The other vital remaining regional issue is Obama's lawlessly authorizing resumed US war on Iraq.
Air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) elements began. At the same time, ISIS is an Al Qaeda offshoot. Washington uses it strategically as both enemy and ally.
It's longstanding US policy unreported by Western media scoundrels. On the one hand, Washington supports ISIS and likeminded groups. On the other, it declares them enemies and attacks.
It's unknown if air strikes approach shock-and-awe intensity or will ahead. Or if US troops will be involved on the ground.
It's unclear what, how many, and locations of targets.
It's uncertain how long the campaign will last. The objective is Iraqi oil and overall control. It has nothing to do with humanitarian intervention.
Post-9/11, America murdered many millions of Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, and conspired with Israel against Palestinians. 
Proxy wars rage in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. America's killing machine operates globally. It's lawless and ruthless. Western media scoundrels afford it unconditional support.
Unspeakable war crimes are sanitized, ignored and cheerled. Truth and full disclosure are systematically buried.
International law is clear and unequivocal. No nation may attack another except in self defense until the Security Council acts. It alone has final say.
It failed to authorize America's post 9/11 wars. Failure means lawless aggression against non-threatening nations in all cases.
Bush and Obama are war criminals multiple times over. Attacking Iraq again is the latest example. It's entirely unjustified and illegal.
It doesn't matter. Laws are for other nations. Not for America or Israel. Both countries consider themselves above international norms and standards.
Both get away with mass murder and destruction. Both remain unaccountable. Both plan lots more death, destruction as well as unspeakable human misery against defenseless populations.
Permanent wars without end persist. Media scoundrels feature all pro-Western/pro Israeli propaganda all the time.
Viewers and readers are systematically lied to daily. Outrageous human suffering is considered just cause.
Justice is upside down. US tax dollars fund unspeakable crimes. At the same time, vital homeland needs go begging.
While ill, offline and physically impaired, I was unable to comment on these and other vital issues. It was painful to be sidelined when I wanted my voice heard - no punches pulled.
Now it can be again if not as intensively as pre-illness for until I regain my full health and vigor. Writing and media work will come as able.
Every effort will be made to tell readers, listeners, and viewers what's essential to know - the truth, all of it, free from media scoundrel propaganda.
The Middle East threatens to boil over again. Gaza did, paused briefly, and threatens more of the same with no end of conflict in sight.
Resumed air war on Iraq may expand to something greater. It bears close watching to see what follows initial attacks.
Libya remains on the boil. Its a cauldron of violence thanks to 2011 US-led NATO naked aggression against a nonbelligerent leader and government supported by the great majority of their people.
The same holds in Syria. Assad was democratically reelected with a near 89% majority. Syrians want no one else leading them.
Washington's war of aggression continues. Syria was invaded by US enlisted extremist elements. Obama bears full responsibility.
Syria's war without end continues. Millions were displaced. Many tens of thousands died. Many others were injured.
Civilians most of all are affected. No end sight looms. 
The prospect of resumed war in Palestine, continued West Bank persecution, land theft and more, as well as Obama unleashing America's war machine in Iraq bodes ill for the region and world peace.
Dire Ukrainian conditions persist. US-led NATO lawlessly installed an illegitimate fascist government. Freedom fighting Southeastern Ukrainians reject tyranny.
They want real democracy. They're willing to sacrifice life and limb for it. They define the essence of courage and commitment. 
They deserve universal support, not condemnation. Instead they're wrongfully vilified. 
Billionaire anointed president Petro Poroshenko awarded US-led NATO Ukraine's highest award for foreigners - the Order of Freedom. 
It's a notion of fairness and lawfulness America categorically opposes. It thrives on violence, lawlessness and permanent wars. 
The notions of stability and peace are repugnant. World turmoil persists. Much is Middle East Centered.
US and Israeli wars against humanity compound a continuing deplorable situation. 
No end in sight looms. Continued death and destruction persist. The short and longer term outlooks appear grim.
Expect continued turmoil throughout the region with no end in sight. Expect unspeakable human suffering no populations should have to endure.
Blame Washington and Israel. They're partners in crime. They bear full responsibility for the worst high crimes against peace. 
The US and Israeli killing machines continue rampaging unchallenged. Justice remains denied. Innocent civilians suffer most.
It bears repeating. Israel considers them legitimate targets. So does Washington. Unspeakable crimes persist without end.
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. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Dear FCC: Get Out of D.C. and Talk to the Over 1 Million Americans Who Support Real Net Neutrality

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 04:08

The FCC is slated to close the written comment window for the net neutrality proceeding on September 10th, but that doesn’t mean that the FCC is going to make up its mind anytime soon. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that the FCC will be done hearing from the public. Technically, the public can continue to comment, and the FCC, if it decides to do so, can continue to listen to Americans who speak out against proposed rules that would allow Internet providers to discriminate against how we access parts of the Net.

This is about the future of our Internet. It’s a big deal and the FCC should treat it as such by holding public hearings in geographically diverse locations around the country to hear directly from Americans who will be affected by the Commission’s net neutrality decision.

The FCC has held public hearings before. In 2007, the Commission hosted a series of events, in places like Nashville, Los Angeles, and Tampa, to discuss how new rules about media consolidation would effect the information needs of Americans.  Thousands of individuals spoke out, standing in line to testify in person, share stories, and build a robust public record that undeniably demonstrated the interest of the public. It’s time to do that again.

Filing a comment with the FCC is largely done via webforms on advocacy sites, like EFF’s own DearFCC.org. While online comments are a wonderful way to participate, we believe the Commission would greatly benefit from hosting public meetings to hear directly from the vibrant and richly diverse American public. If anyone can tell the FCC what is right and what is wrong with a potential rule set that would allow Internet providers to offer pay-to-play service for certain websites, it will be the students, entrepreneurs, artists, public safety officials, and everyday people for whom the Internet is a vital tool.

While written comments can be powerful, on an issue as important as this one, the Commission should listen to the voices of people who would stand up at a meeting, tell their stories and share their concerns about the future of the Internet. It’s time for the FCC to put faces to the over one million who have written to the Commission to speak out in defense of a neutral net.

So join us in calling for field hearings after the written comment period closes in September. And don’t forget to take action and get your comments into the FCC before September 10th. Now is the time to speak up. Let’s make sure the FCC listens.

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

A Weakened California Open Access Bill Makes Its Way Forward

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 02:46

Earlier this week, AB 609, a California bill promoting better public access to taxpayer-funded research, passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which flew out of the Assembly last year, heads next to the Senate floor. It's great that California is just two steps away from passing the first meaningful state-level public access legislation in the US. We are disappointed, however that the current version of the bill has been watered down significantly.

In its initial stages, the bill required all publicly funded research in California to be made freely available six months after publication. But then politics stepped in. Before long, the embargo period changed from six months to a year. And most recently, with pressure mounting from publishers, the bill greatly narrowed its scope to only cover research funded by the State Department of Public Health.

On balance, we still support the bill, but taxpayers should have better access to the research they fund. In an effort to make sure this discussion isn't off the table, we sent a letter of concern [pdf] to the Appropriations Committee last week:

The initial version of AB 609 applied to all publication stemming from publicly funded research in California. Public access to such publications is crucial not only to doctors, patients, and researchers, but also to educators, students, entrepreneurs, and individuals who can benefit from the state of the art across all disciplines. Public access is quickly becoming the norm, particularly on the federal level with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy initiative last year mandating over 20 agencies create and implement public access policies. This initiative extends beyond public health research to cover publications about education, transportation, energy, security, and basic science. We hoped to see California follow this trend.

The current version of AB 609 is a step in the right direction, but an unnecessarily modest one. While we support the bill's intent and are encouraged to see California on its way to being the first state to pass meaningful public access legislation, we urge the bill's sponsors to restore its initial scope, so the public can benefit from the full array of extraordinary work California supports.

There is a chance the scope of California's potential public access policy could expand in future legislative sessions. Open access is as hot a topic as ever, and we do seem to be making inroads on the federal level. But it would be nice to see California meaningfully leading the charge to bring the people access to the important research we fund.

Files:  eff-letter-ab609-concerns.pdfRelated Issues: Open Access
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Understanding the New USA FREEDOM Act: Questions, Concerns, and EFF’s Decision to Support the Bill

eff.org - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 05:30

Ever since the Snowden revelations, honest (and some dishonest) efforts have been made in Congress to try to scale back at least some of the NSA’s spying.  It’s a complex problem, since the NSA has overstepped reasonable bounds in so many different directions and there is intense secrecy surrounding the NSA’s activities and legal analysis.

The bill with the best chance to make some positive change currently is the Senate version of USA FREEDOM Act, a new piece of legislation with an older name.

After extensive analysis and internal discussion, EFF has decided to support this bill. But given the complexities involved, we wanted to lay out our thinking in more detail for our friends and allies.

Senator Leahy introduced S. 2685, the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014, last week. It’s clearly a vast improvement over the version of the bill that passed out of the House.1 It would also be an improvement over current law.

But it still has problems, some of which are inherent in any attempt to legislate in the shadow of national security. Specifically, we’ve seen the NSA and the intelligence community twist common words into tortured and unlikely interpretations to try to excuse their surveillance practices. We’re worried that, for all its good intentions, the bill may leave room for the intelligence community to continue to do so. Due to the secretive nature of surveillance, it will be difficult to ensure the intelligence community is not abusing its powers. And finally, this bill is a compromise between those who seek to reform the NSA and those who want to defend the status quo. Those compromises often fell short of what we’d hope for in comprehensive NSA reform.

Bad Faith Interpretations of the Bill’s Language

We now know that the NSA plays word games when it comes to interpreting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Constitution. Words like “collect” and “target” have meanings for the NSA that no ordinary person would use. Words like “relevant” have been stretched far beyond any reasonable interpretation. 

The new USA FREEDOM Act is also vulnerable to this kind of misuse. The language has wiggle room and ambiguity in places that we tried to get rid of, and failed. It also likely has language that can be misused that we haven’t yet recognized.  While the clear intent of the bill is to end bulk collection of call detail records and bring more transparency to the NSA, the government could attempt to argue in bad faith that the bill does not require either.

Folks have begun pointing out where this is possible and we think this effort should continue. Specifically, some have emphasized that the bill only has extra restrictions for “daily” call record collection, like the collection the government currently does. They’ve argued that this means that the government can continue bulk collection if it simply crafts its request for call detail records, say, on a weekly or yearly basis. This interpretation of the legislation doesn’t take into account the additional restrictions imposed on any requests not made under the new language, but it’s still concerning.

Others have pointed out that the government can still get a second set of call detail records (a second “hop”) if there’s a “direct connection” to the first specific selection term. But the term “direct connection” is undefined. Some have noted that the government could interpret “direct connection” to include the physical proximity of two mobile devices, or being in someone’s address book, since both might be called “direct”—yet the bill is trying to stop that sort of surveillance by association.

While we do believe that the intent of the bill is to disallow either of these scenarios, some additional clarity in the language would really help here, especially given the secrecy discussed below.

We hope the entire community of people concerned about mass surveillance will join us in poring over this bill and helping to identify other areas where additional clarity is needed.

Secrecy May Still Undermine Accountability

We’ve only gotten this far in ensuring that ordinary people know how pervasive surveillance really is due to whistleblowers like Mark Klein, William Binney, Thomas Drake, J. Kirk Wiebe, Edward Snowden and countless anonymous whistleblowers, as well as the tenacious efforts of litigators under the Freedom of Information Act. Intelligence agencies like the NSA and FBI have fought hard to maintain as much secrecy as possible, only opening up when cornered.  

While there is significant new transparency required by the USA FREEDOM Act, much will remain secret, and some of those secrets may undermine our ability to know whether the bill has actually achieved the reform it is aimed at. Some government secrecy in national security investigations may be merited of course, but even 20 years ago, Senator Daniel Moynihan documented the problems arising from the government’s rampant overclassification.

Even after USA FREEDOM, the FISA Court (FISC) will continue to approve requests in secret. While we are pleased that the bill creates a panel of special advocates to argue for civil liberties in the FISC, more is needed—and even these advocates have limitations. For example, the advocate role is limited and advocates can only be appointed upon the government’s approval. In addition, special advocates have security clearance restrictions—an opportunity for the executive branch to block an advocate by denying a clearance or arguing an advocate doesn’t have adequate clearance to access certain documents.  Perhaps most concerning, the intelligence community will continue to determine what legal interpretations by the FISC will be made public.

By its very nature, national security law is hard to assess because of the secrecy that surrounds it. USA FREEDOM is no exception.

Compromises in the USA FREEDOM Act

This bill is a first step. And it’s a small step because Senator Leahy’s goal was to introduce something that had a real chance of passing this Congress and not getting vetoed by President Obama.

Some of the compromises in this bill are obvious. It does less than the original USA FREEDOM. It doesn’t simply outlaw bulk collection, as EFF has long advised. It doesn’t give the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority. It has special advocate and declassification provisions that will help transparency, but they aren’t as strong as the original USA FREEDOM Act. It doesn’t address bulk Internet collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act substantively at all and it pushes out the sunset date on Section 215 from 2015 to 2017, when the FISA Amendments Act is scheduled to sunset.

But some of the compromises in the bill are less apparent, especially if you haven’t been poring over NSA spying legislation. We are also particularly concerned with how the bill deals with the FBI. The FBI is exempt from Section 702 reporting, and the bill appears to provide a path for the FBI to get permanent gag orders in connection with national security letters.  

Why We Support the Bill, Even with Our Concerns

Despite these concerns, EFF supports the USA FREEDOM Act as a first step in spying reform. We believe it ensures that the government will be collecting less information about innocent people, that it creates an independent voice to argue for privacy in the FISA Court, and that it will provide modest transparency improvements that will assist in accountability. The second and third of those would not be possible through litigation alone. 

What’s more, we believe that this bill will help move comprehensive reform forward. It will show that the growing global community concerned about mass surveillance can band together and get legislation passed.  We know that the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was not enacted until 1978, three years after the Church Committee was formed. We are in this for the long haul.

Some wonder why we’d support legislation when we have litigation proceeding against Section 215 call records surveillance that could be sent back for further review if the law passes. While we’re very confident in our case, litigation is a long process and we’ve seen that progress in the courts can be undermined by subsequent legislation— our original case against AT&T was killed by Congress when it passed the FISA Amendments Act. So if we can end the telephone records collection in Congress, it may be a more lasting win. 

Finally, there is value in Congress reacting to the clear consensus: Americans of all political stripes think the NSA has gone too far—they do not support indiscriminate surveillance. Congress is where that political consensus should be expressed.

Your Support

This post lays out why we decided to support USA Freedom, and also many of our concerns. We made our decision based on the current version and we will not hesitate to pull our support if the bill gets watered down. 

But we also support efforts of the community to raise these or other concerns and push Congress to clarify and plug the holes. Since Congress is in recess we have a month to go before this has any chance of getting to the floor, and we’ll be continuing to scour the bill with a fine-toothed comb. We look forward to assistance.  We also respect those who have decided that they cannot support this bill without further changes, even significant ones.

In the meantime, if you agree with us that USA FREEDOM is a reasonable first step in the long project of surveillance reform, find out where your representatives stand and let them know what you think by tweeting at them, sending an email, or even setting up an in-district meeting over the Congressional recess.

  • 1. Some background may be helpful here: When USA FREEDOM was originally introduced in October of 2013, EFF called it a floor, not a ceiling. We supported the bill, but cautioned that it was just a first step towards NSA spying reform and still had some problematic pieces. But we were hopeful because it had bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Most importantly, we believed that it could start to address intelligence agency overreach.

    Unfortunately, months later, a drastically altered bill was introduced as a manager’s amendment in the House of Representatives. We made it clear that this bill, the result of political compromises, never earned our support. It passed out of the House as H.R. 3361. The current Senate version of USA FREEDOM is not as strong as the original version, but far stronger than what passed out of the House.

Related Issues: National Security LettersNSA SpyingPATRIOT ActRelated Cases: Jewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Back from the Abyss

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/08/2014 - 23:30
Back from the Abyss
by Stephen Lendman
I've been ill and unable to do what I love best for 2 months. Yesterday, August 6, I came home for the first time since hospitalized on June 4.
At the time, I posted a brief message on my blog site. I expected a few days of treatment. Then home to resume my writing and media work.
Things didn't turn out that way. I owe my friends, colleagues and readers an explanation.
Multiple problems developed. One rather serious one. Thankfully they were resolved. But it took time - 2 weeks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital followed by 6 weeks at Warren Barr rehab facility.
The experience was life changing. I wondered at times if I'd ever be me again. I still have lots of recovery to go as an outpatient. 
I worked very hard with good therapy people helping me daily. I'm deeply grateful to them for taking me from a very low point to going home yesterday.
It never felt so good to walk through my front door. I began emailing friends and colleagues to explain. More emailing coming.
Wonderful responses came. Means so much to this old guy - age 80 in mid-August. Still with so much I want to do - articles, media work and another book or 2 - maybe more as able.
I'll slowly get back to what I love best. My health, of course, is top priority. Later this morning I have hours of treatment at Northwestern Mem. Hosp and weekly after that for 2 months followed by monthly treatment for a year.
I'm working with wonderful doctors. Some personal friends. They know what I do. They want me back in full swing. Will take time. I'm very patient.
Writing et al will come as able. Important not to overdue it. Yet what i love best is therapeutic - for the mind, soul and body. I'm fully committed to return to a much full health as possible - my top priority.
My great thanks to everyone now wishing me well. I was offline, unconnected with no email addresses so unable to communicate until now.
Physically for a good while I wasn't in good shape enough to do it.
Now I'm back. My output won't be my customary 2 articles a day. I'll do what I can as health and strength permits. 
Words can't explain how wonderful it feels and how deeply grateful i am to be back from a very low point - mostly dependent on others to being near independent again now.
I can do things now we otherwise take for granted - my personal hygiene, cooking, laundry, all chores in my apartment, walk on the street with a walker, ride the bus, take a cab down, shop nearby and more.
Each day begins with an exercise regimen. It's crucial to my recovery and ability to regain full health and vigor. 
It gives me the energy to do my daily tasks. A day at a time I hope will make me fully me again - the me I largely took for granted. Never again. 
While absent I couldn't write on vital issues I'd have focused on daily - Israel's genocidal, cold, calculated, premeditated aggression, mass murder and destruction of Gaza.
It was and remains one of history's greatest crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide.
Israel remains unaccountable as always. Cairo talks will achieve nothing for the Palestinians. Israeli agreements when made aren't worth the paper they're written on.
They're systematically and repeatedly violated. Expect nothing different this time.
The Gaza war was much more than against Hamas. It was against millions of Palestinian non-combatant men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm. It's genocide writ large.
It's supported by Washington with billions of dollars of annual aid, weapons, Security Council vetoes and more. 
The international community yawns and lets Israel get away with unspeakable crimes with impunity. 
The pattern repeated large and smaller scale since the 1947-48 war taking a horrific toll on the entire Palestinian population.
Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Palestine's liberating struggle to continue with virtually no help from the international community.
Expect more Israeli initiated mass much and destruction. Expect multiple daily pre-dawn Israeli West Bank incursions, terrorizing Palestinian families.
Expect many more political prisoners in Israel's gulag. Expect torture, targeted assassinations and land theft to continue unabated.
Expect justice systematically denied as always. Expect Palestinians largely on their own in their struggle for dignity and proper treatment never afforded.
Expect Israeli crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide to continue unabated. 
Expect Hamas and other resistance groups to be unjustly blamed for repeated Israeli crimes - like premeditated shelling UN refuges, civilian neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, mosques, power and other vital infrastructure and more.
Israel is a lawless, rogue, racist, apartheid terror state - uncountable for horrific crimes repeatedly. 
Palestinian suffering is beyond words to explain properly. When will it end? How? No time soon for sure.
How many more Palestinians will die unjustly? How many more will have Israeli shells, bombs and missiles dismember their bodies?
How many more families will lose loved ones? How many more communities will be destroyed? How many more orphaned Palestinian children will be on their own?
How many more parents will lose their offspring, homes and all their possessions?
How much longer will injustice prevail? When, if ever, will Israel be held accountable?
When, if ever, will US tax dollars stop funding Israel's out-of-control killing machine?
Future articles will have much more to say - written as health permits.
And much to say about the war in Ukraine - the democratic freedom fighting struggle against lawless, illegitimate US installed fascism.
Much to say about these and other important issues ahead as health and strength permits.
It's wonderful being back doing what I love best.
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. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

One Way to Stand Against Spying: Meet With A Legislator

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 10:31

The NSA pulls no punches when it comes to the surveillance of innocent people in every corner of the world in its attempt to “collect it all.” Those in the U.S. prepared to vigorously oppose mass government spying need to fight back and hold our representatives to account for the routine human rights violations perpetrated by the National Security Agency. And this activism needs to occur on all levels, from lobbying local and state officials to setting up meetings with Congress members.

That’s part of the inspiration behind StandAgainstSpying.org, a tool that grades members of Congress on their track record in the fight against unconstitutional mass surveillance and the protection of the basic human right to privacy. Congress is in recess for the month of August, so right now is an ideal time to schedule a visit in-district.

Yet elected officials rarely hear from the diverse communities of everyday people who live under the shadow of government surveillance—which includes every American. That’s why we’re encouraging people visit their Congressional office and local representatives and make sure they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their constituents demand meaningful NSA reform. After all, our political leaders are supposed to be working for us.

Senator Leahy introduced the new USA FREEDOM Act S. 2685 in the Senate at the end of July. It’s likely to come up for a vote in September. That means that for the next month activists and concerned citizens need to flood the offices of our Senators and make sure they hear us loud and clear: now is the time to pass this critically important bill that will work rein in the NSA’s illegal mass spying and help to restore justice in the secret FISA court.

To help with lobbying visits to local Congressional offices, we made a handy one-page guide on the USA FREEDOM Act that you can leave with the staff person you meet with at your elected representative’s office.

Lobby for digital rights

Lobbying—whether you’re a concerned citizen or a representative of an interest group—boils down to building relationships. Usually these relationships are with staff members or, if at the local level, sometimes with elected officials directly.

Citizen lobbying can be a powerful tool for driving a vision for reform, especially when it comes to tech policy and digital rights issues, where elected officials often are non-experts.

What’s more, most expertise on technology issues too often comes from specialists hired by industry interests, so when constituents visit their representative to discuss how hard-to-approach technology issues effect voters back home, you’ll typically find policymakers ready to listen carefully.

Is there an issue that you think your member of Congress should consider more closely or change her stance on? Consider discussing the issue with your elected representative by attending a town-hall meeting or visiting the closest constituent office. Here are some tips for how to contact your representative—either federal, state, or local—to ensure a successful meeting.

Find your target office

The first step is to locate which political office you wish to target. This is easier for federal issues than state issues. For federal issues, you may wish to target a particular Senate or House committee or subcommittee, which might take some searching on the Internet.

In local political matters—for example, if you want to investigate the purchase or use of drones by your local police department—you may start by scheduling a meeting with a staff person from your City Council Member’s office.

Senate: Every state is represented by two senators and every senator has an office in Washington, D.C. and multiple offices in the state they represent.

House of Representatives: States are separated into numbered districts, and each district is represented by one representative in the House of Representatives. The number of districts in a state is adjusted after each census. Similar to Senators, Representatives have an office in Washington, D.C. and at least one office in their home state.

Mayors: You may wish to contact your mayor or city manager about issues in your city, like issues concerning the police department, municipal broadband initiatives, or funding for technology education in your city. Find your mayor.

Governors: For statewide issues, contact your governor’s office to share your views or set up a meeting.

State Lawmakers and City Council Members: Local political arenas are sometimes the best places to achieve tangible political change. Do some Internet searching to find your representative.

City councils have a tremendous affect on populations as they can pass resolutions, bring issues to mayoral offices, and conduct studies to drive policy reform. Consider going to a meeting to raise concerns about a local fusion center, community fiber Internet, or the need for more government transparency.

Set up a meeting

A phone call in favor of or against a particular action that an elected official can take is a great way to advocate for reform, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting with a staff person or your representative.

Setting up a meeting is easy. On a federal level, when Congress is not in session members work out of their in-district offices, so try to set up meetings there at those times. Members also hold frequent "town-hall" meetings for constituents. Inquire at your local office about when they will be held. You can also track when your representative will be in town by looking at the Congressional calendars for the House and the Senate. Congress often designates "constituent weeks" in order to inform the public when they will be in their district. Elected representatives want to hear from voters back home.

You’ll most likely get a meeting with a staff person, and that’s great. Staffers usually know more about the specific details of issues than the representative herself.

When you make the call and set up the meeting, be sure you tell them which organization you represent or if you’re a solo concerned citizen, where you live, and the issue that you want to discuss.

Prepare for your meeting

Do your research and be prepared. You have the opportunity to be a local expert and help shape the thinking of your elected official!

  • Who are you representing? Try to bring a petition or a letter that has numerous signatories to the meeting. Show that you’re representing a community of people that will be affected by the change you’re calling for.
  • Bring research. Consider making a folder or an information packet with research, white papers, local stories, and contact information. If your issue is a digital rights related issue, visit EFF.org for helpful resources!
  • Prepare stories. A fantastic way to communicate the need for reform is by sharing stories. Politicians often repeat stories to make a case, so be prepared to share yours.
  • Have a website and contact information ready to share. Try to have a website and business card ready in advance of your meeting. This will help the staff person find you, your community, and your position in the future.
  • Consider organizing a small delegation. Bring a group of stakeholders that all have diverse stories to share. The more real people and constituent numbers that you can tie to an issue the better.
Following up

After your meeting, send a thank-you email to the person who met with you. In your email, be sure to include information and one or two links that you want your representative to consider. Try to set up another meeting if you feel that you didn’t get to finish making your case. Always be polite and gracious and don’t overload the staffer with more information than she’ll realistically read.

If your contact responds with questions, this is a good sign, and by all means answer them. This is a chance for you to become an expert that your representative on digital rights issues. Remember: lobbying is all about building relationships, so try to keep the conversation going and meet again.

Good luck! Email info@eff.org to let us know how it went!

RESOURCE: A One-page guide to leave with your representative on the new USA FREEDOM Act

Related Issues: NSA SpyingStudent and Community Organizing
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

EFF to Patent Office: End the Flood of Stupid Software Patents

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 06:51

We have often written about how software patents feed trolls and tax innovation. We’ve pushed for patent reform in Congress, in the courts, and at the Patent Office. While new legislation has stalled (for now), reformers have won significant victories in the courts. Of these, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank may be the most important. In this case, the court issued a landmark decision cutting back on abstract software patents.

While the decision in Alice is promising, it will mean nothing if the Patent Office fails to apply it. Vested interests support the status quo and some commentators have already called for the Patent Office to essentially ignore Alice. (While software patents are bad for innovation, they are great for lawyers and trolls.) Last week, EFF filed written comments with the Patent Office urging it to diligently apply the new Alice standard to pending applications.

In our comments, we explain that Alice is a major change to patent law. Most significant was the court’s holding that “generic computer components” do not become patent eligible simply upon being “configured” to perform “specific computerized functions.” Many thousands of software patents—particularly the vague and overbroad patents so beloved by patent trolls—should be rejected under this standard. While some of those accustomed to the pre-Alice regime will complain about this result, the Patent Office should not hesitate to apply the Supreme Court’s standard.

EFF also urges the Patent Office to make sure that all pending applications (even those at the point of issuing) are reviewed under Alice. Last week we introduced our inaugural Stupid Patent of the Month—a very dumb patent on using a computer to take a telephone message for a doctor. In our view, this patent is clearly invalid under Alice. Yet it issued weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision. Since patent litigation is so expensive, even a clearly invalid patent can cause enormous harm. We hope the Patent Office ensures no more of these invalid abstract patents are granted.

Ultimately, Alice is good news for the Patent Office. A recent Washington Post article revealed that the office is overwhelmed by the massive volume of applications. Many patent examiners spend as little as ten hours per application. This is not nearly enough time to properly review an application and look for potential prior art (the publications and products that predate an application and render it obvious). While Alice creates some extra work now, the decision will hopefully deter applicants from filing applications for abstract software patents in the first place, especially since the Supreme Court made clear that clever wording (the “draftman’s art”) cannot make the unpatentable patentable. There is no better way to reduce the patent backlog than by clearing the system of thousands of bad software patent applications.

Files:  eff_comments_regarding_patentable_subject_matter_and_alice_corp.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalancePatentsPatent TrollsInnovationRelated Cases: Abstract Patent Litigation
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

UNSEALED: The US Sought Permission To Change The Historical Record Of A Public Court Proceeding

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 06:19

A few weeks ago we fought a battle for transparency in our flagship NSA spying case, Jewel v. NSA. But, ironically, we weren't able to tell you anything about it until now.

On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to “remove” classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so.

We rightly considered this an outrageous request and vigorously opposed it. The public has a First Amendment right not only to attend the hearing but to have an accurate transcript of it. Moreover, the federal law governing court reporting requires that “each session of the court” be “recorded verbatim” and that the transcript be certified by the court reporter as “a correct statement of the testimony taken and the proceedings had.” 28 U.S.C. § 753(b).

The Court allowed the government a first look at the transcript and indicated that it was going to hold the government to a very high standard and would not allow the government to manufacture a misleading transcript by hiding the fact of any redactions. Ultimately, the government said that it had *not* revealed classified information at the hearing and removed its request. But the incident speaks volumes about the dangers of allowing the government free rein to claim secrecy in court proceedings and otherwise.

We couldn't tell you anything about that fight because the government's request, our opposition to it, and the court's order regarding it were all sealed. But with today's order by Judge White, the transcript and the arguments over the government's request to revise it are finally public documents.

Here's how the events transpired:

On June 6, 2014, Judge White held a hearing in Jewel and Shubert v. Obama on our emergency motion to enforce the court's previous order that the government preserve evidence of its Internet backbone surveillance, evidence that is directly relevant to the plaintiffs' claims in Jewel that their Internet communications were collected by the government. Although the government's lawyers participated by telephone, the hearing was held in a crowded, open courtroom including TV and written press. The government never requested that the courtroom be closed or that attendance be limited in any way.

One week later, the government wrote a letter to Judge White, submitting it ex parte (which means we didn't get a copy), requesting that it be given the chance to review the written transcript of that hearing before the transcript was provided either to plaintiffs or the public. The government explained that Anthony Coppolino, the lawyer who argued for the government on June 6, “inadvertently made a statement during the hearing that we believe is classified.” The government further explained that “The National Security Agency has asked us to contact the Court to explore ways to determine whether the transcript in fact reveals classified information and, if it does, to attempt to remove it from the public record of the hearing.” The government further asked that neither the plaintiffs, their lawyers nor the public be told of its request.

Judge White correctly decided that there was no reason that plaintiffs' lawyers should not know the government's request. Thus, the day after receiving the government's letter, Judge White issued an order, still under seal but sent to us, alerting us to the government's request and giving us the opportunity to respond to it.

We filed our response on June 20, explaining that the US Supreme Court had repeatedly rejected attempts to prohibit or punish the publication of confidential material when that material was inadvertently disclosed to the public. We asked Judge White to reject the government's request in full arguing that the government could not meet the strong First Amendment test to prove that its revisions to the transcript were “essential to preserve higher values and narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” We also argued that under no circumstances should the government be able to “remove” anything from the transcript without indicating that something has in fact been removed, a process commonly called “redaction,” not “removal,” the term used in the government's request. We also asked the court to unseal all of the papers that had been filed about this dispute.

After receiving our response, Judge White asked the government to reply, which they did on June 30, trying to create a new rule that would allow such outrageous claims when the government accidentally revealed classified information in a public courtroom.

On July 11, Judge White ordered that the transcript be given to the government, and gave the government two-and-a-half weeks to inform it whether there was any classified information in the transcript. If the government believed that the transcript contained classified information, it was required to present to the court “the information that they content was classified and inadvertently disclosed, supported by declarations indicating that the information disclosed had been previously classified and is currently classified.” The court would then perform its own review and determine whether or not to redact anything from the transcript. Judge White further ruled that while this process was going on, these papers would remain sealed.

On July 28, the government informed the court that after reviewing the transcript it determined that there was no inadvertent disclosure of classified information after all.

As a result, Judge White today granted our motion to unseal and as this is being written the various papers are being unsealed. The disputed transcript has already been posted. We will continue to post and index the other documents on our Jewel page as they are unsealed.

The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions.

We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time.

 

Related Cases: Shubert v ObamaJewel v. NSA
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

UK's Lords and EU Take Aim at Online Anonymity

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 02:26

Last week, the UK's House of Lords Select Committee on Communications released a report on "social media and criminal offences." Britain has faced a number of high-profile cases of online harassment this year, which has prompted demands for new laws, and better enforcement of existing laws.

"Our starting point," the peers begin, "is that what is not an offence off-line should not be an offence online". The report is cautious in its recommendations for modifying existing regulation, and reasonable in spelling out how current criminal law can deal with patterns of harassment and bullying, whether they intersect with modern social media or not.

The report does gave tentative support, however, to removing online speakers' ability to communicate online without recording their identity. The report's authors write:

From our perspective in the United Kingdom, if the behaviour which is currently criminal is to remain criminal and also capable of prosecution, we consider that it would be proportionate to require the operators of websites first to establish the identity of people opening accounts but that it is also proportionate to allow people thereafter to use websites using pseudonyms or anonymously. There is little point in criminalising certain behaviour and at the same time legitimately making that same behaviour impossible to detect. We recognise that this is a difficult question, especially as it relates to jurisdiction and enforcement.

This presents a false dichotomy. The use of anonymity and pseudonymity tools online don't render ordinary police detection impossible. The solution offered by the House of Lords (demanding the identity of online users be recorded at the online service registration) won't make anonymous commenters disappear from the Net either. The experience of countries like South Korea and China has shown that determined speakers will use fake identities — and that requiring online service providers to collect troves of identification documents increases the risk of identity theft.

What requiring identity papers whenever you join a new social media site, however, would do is criminalize the actions of anyone who has a legitimate need to remain anonymous. Those groups include abused spouses and other harassed individuals, whistleblowers, political speakers and others concerned with retribution from above. Some harassers use anonymity tools; but all anonymous speakers need them. The negative effects of harassment will continue but the benefits of anonymity will become tied to a criminal offense.

While unsure whether its new proposal to mandate compulsory identity registration on all online websites might be workable, the peers make another suggestion based on current UK law. Websites might be incentivized to prohibit anonymous discussion, they suggest, by the provisions of the UK's new libel law. Websites under the law are protected from defamation lawsuits aimed at third-party postings. They lose that protection if they do not reveal the posters' identity, and don't comply with a "notice-and-takedown"-style set of regulations.

The idea that the incentives of existing law might be used to chase anonymity out of the public arena even when it is not, by itself, illegal, is worrying. Despite the Lords' suggestion, British law doesn't seem to reach that far — but Europe's courts might.

Late last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided, in Delfi vs. Estonia, that European websites were liable for anonymous comments even if they took down content. In the Delfi case, the court said that an Estonian news site was liable for third-party comments because their take-down procedures did not go far enough to ensure "sufficient protection for the rights of third persons", that should have anticipated that a particular news article was controversial, and that the comments section was anonymous. The Delfi decision has been appealed, and the ECHR's Grand Chamber is currently considering the case. But Delfi and the Lords' report shows courts and policymakers continue to respond to pressure to put limits on anonymous speech, even when an explicit law banning anonymity is beyond the pale.


Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

New Behind-the-Scenes Video: Airship Flight Over the NSA Data Center

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 02:09
The Internet's Own Boy Director Brian Knappenberger Releases Short Doc as Senate Introduces New Reform Bill

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a video by acclaimed documentarian Brian Knappenberger (The Internet's Own Boy) that explores how and why an unlikely coalition of advocacy organizations launched an airship over the National Security Agency's Utah data center. The short documentary explains the urgent need to rein in unconstitutional mass surveillance, just as the U.S. Senate has introduced a new version of the USA FREEDOM Act.

The video, Illegal Spying Below, is available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsEkmHRbThk

At dawn on June 27, EFF, Greenpeace, and the Tenth Amendment Center launched an airship above the NSA's $1.2-billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah. The 135-foot-long airship carried a banner bearing a downward arrow and the words, "Illegal Spying Below," to bring attention to the facility as well as StandAgainstSpying.org, a website showing how members of Congress voted on legislation that would restrict mass surveillance.

"While it is only one of several data centers, for many people the Bluffdale facility has become a symbol out-of-control, unconstitutional, dragnet surveillance, as well as a threat to the environment," Knappenberger says. "I thought it was important to document this audacious attempt to raise awareness of this secretive facility and pressure Congress to rein in the NSA."

The action prompted thousands of people to contact their members of Congress about NSA surveillance. More than 30 articles were written about the airship, and those articles were collectively shared more than 51,000 times over social media within 72 hours.

"This video shows how a common threat to the freedom of association drew our three organizations together, despite very different missions," EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. "Now it's time for Congress to build a diverse coalition to pass meaningful reform. We launched an airship, they need to land a bill on the president's desk."

Viewers are encouraged to use StandAgainstSpying.org, a site supported by more than 22 organizations, to review their elected representatives' record on surveillance and to send tweets to members of Congress to support meaningful surveillance reform.

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

About Brian Knappenberger: 

Brian Knappenberger is a writer, director and producer who has created award winning investigative documentaries and feature films for PBS FRONTLINE/World, National Geographic, Bloomberg Television and the Discovery Channel. His new film about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, The Internet's Own Boy, debuted at Sundance and is available through iTunes at https://eff.org/r.cyoz. Knappenberger also runs the award winning production company Luminant Media.

var mytubes = new Array(1); mytubes[1] = '%3Ciframe src=%22//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/EsEkmHRbThk?rel=0%22 allowfullscreen=%22%22 frameborder=%220%22 height=%22281%22 width=%22500%22%3E%3C/iframe%3E';
Share this:   ||  Join EFF
Categories: Aggregated News

Advertising

 


Advertise here!

Syndicate content
All content and comments posted are owned and © by the Author and/or Poster.
Web site Copyright © 1995 - 2007 Clemens Vermeulen, Cairns - All Rights Reserved
Drupal design and maintenance by Clemens Vermeulen Drupal theme by Kiwi Themes.
Buy now