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EFF Tells the Supreme Court that Patent Law Shouldn't Reward Ambiguity - Sat, 28/02/2015 - 11:07

EFF submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court yesterday in Commil v. Cisco, a patent case that asks whether having a “good-faith belief” that a patent is invalid means that someone can’t induce infringement of a patent.

The issue of what it means to “induce infringement” is a complex, esoteric area of patent law. Generally, inducement liability is where the person accused of infringement didn’t actually carry out infringing acts herself, but instead encouraged other people to do them. For example, telling someone “hey, use this product to infringe this patent” might be inducement, whereas just making a product without any knowledge of a patent on its use would not be.

That’s because the law requires that the inducer have knowledge of the patent in order to be liable. But what if you have knowledge of the patent and you think that it is invalid because it’s not clear what the invention is, or that you don’t infringe because you don’t think the patent covers what your customers do? A court may later determine that you were wrong, but agree with you that you had a reasonable belief that you were right. Should the law make you pay for encouraging something you reasonably thought you were allowed to do?

In our brief, we argue that inducement requires intent to infringe and if you think you’re not infringing (because either the patent is invalid or because you don’t think the acts you cause are covered by the patent), you shouldn’t be considered an inducer.

A contrary ruling would encourage patent holders to avoid clearly describing their inventions in a patent which would exacerbate the problem we already have with vague and overbroad software patents. Patent applicants could hide the ball from the Patent Office (making it more difficult and time consuming to do a good job reviewing the application) and the public (who may not understand the rights claimed by the patent holder), and still claim someone should have known that what they were doing was causing other people to infringe.

Patents serve a public notice function: they are supposed to reasonably inform the public of what is claimed and what is left free for others to do. But the rule the patent owner argues for in this case would make the public notice function of patents almost meaningless. For example, someone reading the patent may not think it applies to acts they cause, but because the court would only look to what the patent owner thinks (an opinion that doesn’t have to actually be stated in the patent), reading the patent may give no clue as to whether you’ll be accused of inducement. The Supreme Court should not allow patent owners to set even more traps for those who have no intention of infringing any valid patent. 

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The Scourge of US-Installed Fascism in Europe's Heartland - Sat, 28/02/2015 - 03:04
The Scourge of US-Installed Fascism in Europe's Heartland
by Stephen Lendman
Obama bears full responsibility for replacing Ukraine's democratically elected government with Nazi lunatics.
Russia's lower house State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said "(t)he guilt of the United States of America for (what happened) is considerable and obvious to the entire world."
Ukraine's crisis "poses a risk to international security, first of all to European security."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey was clear and unequivocal saying:
"For a quarter of century, the key principles of the United Nations had been systematically violated." 
"The US and other Western nations neglected the fundamental rules of international law, widely used double standards and didn't hesitate to intervene directly into other nations' sovereign affairs." 
"The impact of this policy is fully felt by the peoples of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and now Ukraine."
He omitted Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, numerous other countries, and his own affected by the scourge of US policies.
The good news is Washington "failed to make up a global anti-Russian coalition," said Lavrov.
"We are engaged in a dialogue with the majority of the countries. Support of the world community for Russia’s balanced policy is growing."
America makes more enemies than friends. Pressure won't force Russia to change its foreign policy, Lavrov stressed.
Obama's new National Security Strategy reflects US business as usual, he said - permanent wars against invented enemies.
Obama's lunatic aim for "global dominance and readiness to use military force unilaterally to ensure American interests" threatens everyone, said Lavrov.
He "mentions over a hundred times the exceptional right of the US to exercise the notorious American leadership."
He believes it's "inevitable…(I)t looks like the White House forgot what seeking hegemony to the detriment of other countries' interests may lead to."
"…(T)he ferocity that we see in (Britain and other) Western capitals now exceeds the levels seen during the…Cold War."
Lavrov clearly sees the danger of heading things toward possible East/West war responsible leaders don't want.
Britain announced sending combat troops to Ukraine masquerading as military trainers.
An unnamed Kremlin source accused its government of "apparently prepar(ing) to derail" Minsk.
"Statements from London that say there's no military solution to the Ukrainian crisis amid this move appear to be at least hypocritical and a case of gambling with the security of all Europe in worst-case scenario," it added.
Ceasefire is largely holding, but for how long. Its fragility suggests conflict could resume any time at Washington's discretion.
It uses Kiev's military as a proxy force waging naked aggression in Europe's heartland. Battleground Ukraine is pretext for targeting Russia.
Anyone paying attention knows Washington's main objective is toppling its government. Replacing it with one it controls. 
Risking nuclear war to achieve its objective. No nation threatens humanity's survival more than America. None is governed more recklessly and ruthlessly.
Former Czech health minister Ivan David said Washington is turning Europe into a battlefield.
EU nations "whose elites are taking orders from an alien, American power, (are) leading the whole continent to the slaughterhouse," he stressed.
They should partner with Russia to survive, he believes. Europe needs "new elites." Current ones may set the entire continent ablaze.
They're "promised they will be allowed to survive if they diligently serve (US interests) at the expense of their own peoples."
If Europe wants to survive, it needs fundamental new policy, he stressed.
Tinderbox conditions remain in Donbass. Kiev beginning to withdraw heavy weapons may be more head-fake than willingness to observe Minsk.
On February 27, Sputnik News said its forces "will leave enough units and equipment along the line of contact (on the pretext of being able) to react to a possible ceasefire violation."
Fascists in charge violated previous ceasefire agreements straightaway. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe they'll observe what they systematically rejected before - regardless of what they agreed to in Minsk or say publicly.
Washington calls the shots. It's Kiev's paymaster. Obama deplores peace. He wants war. He wants total control over his newest colony. 
Expect conflict to resume at his discretion. Maybe this time potentially affecting the entire continent.
Canada and Australia saying they'll send combat troops to Ukraine under the guise of military trainers ups the stakes for more war.
Humanity's fate hangs in the balance. Paul Craig Roberts addressed the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow via Skype.
He discussed reckless neocon policies responsible for wrecking Reagan/Gorbachev rapprochement - saving the world in the 1980s from possible humanity destroying nuclear war.
Soviet Russia's dissolution "removed the only constraint on Washington's power to act unilaterally abroad," said Roberts.
The Gulf and Baltic wars followed. The rape of Yugoslavia was prelude for Bush/Obama post-9/11 permanent direct and proxy wars in multiple theaters.
America's maniacal drive for global hegemony may kill us all. Neocon lunatics making policy intend stopping at nothing to assure no nation challenges US dominance.
Life on earth is threatened like never before. Possible nuclear war should scare everyone. Western propaganda heads things toward the unthinkable.
Poroshenko wants US-led NATO doing his fighting for him in the next planned phase of war. It bears repeating.
It could start anytime at Obama's discretion. Perhaps it's a major US/Kiev false flag away. 
Something big like 9/11 to get US-NATO forces directly involved risking war with Russia.
Ukraine is rearming in preparation for more war. After contracting with the UAE for US-made weapons, it agreed to buy drones and electronic warfare from France's Thales Group.
Kiev official Oleg Gladkovsky said "contracts have been reached with US companies." He provided no further details.
Ukraine is broke. It's bankrupt. Where is it getting money to buy expensive weapons? 
IMF funds supposedly exclude using them for war-making. The idea being they're to pay bankers first. Apparently enough wiggle room permits virtually anything.
Bloomberg cited an unnamed source saying conflict in Donbass "would make it tougher for Ukraine to maintain its economic commitments to the IMF and (service its debt) while deepening the fund's involvement in the worst standoff in Europe sine the end of the Cold War."
Congress may provide a billion dollars more in aid. House legislation introduced authorizes the secretaries of defense and state "to provide assistance, including training, equipment, lethal weapons of a defensive nature (sic), logistics support, supplies and services, and sustainment to the military and national security forces of Ukraine through September 30, 2017."
The measure ludicrously says it's to help Kiev secure its "sovereign territory against foreign aggressors (and promote) conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict."
Providing funds for weapons assures more conflict. Initiating it depends on:
  • what lunatics in Washington have in mind;

  • whether US forces will be directly involved; and 

  • if or how efforts are made to draw Russia into a war on its border it wants ended once and for all.

For now, things are relatively (not entirely) calm. On Thursday, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharcehcko issued the following statement in good faith:
"In pursuance of the Declaration of 12.02.2015 and the 'Package of measures concerning implementation of the Minsk Agreement,'  the Donetsk People's Republic has withdrawn heavy armament to the agreed upon and registered by the given document distance." 
As of Friday morning, withdrawal of artillery, mortars and heavy equipment was 90% completed.
Zakharchenko said "(t)he Ukrainian side (so far) evades (its) commitments" beyond token withdrawals to positions not in compliance with Minsk.
"In case of violation by the Ukrainian side, (DPR) reserve(s) the right to return heavy armaments to the places of previous dislocation…"
DPR holds Kiev fully responsible if Minsk fails like previous ceasefires.
If sporadic "shelling and attacks do not stop," said Zakharchenko, "we reserve the right to consider the Minsk agreement wrecked by the Ukrainian side."
"Military equipment will be returned to their previous positions. All attempts to attack our settlements will be checked in the bud."
Zakharchenko said LPR leadership intends a similar announcement. Poroshenko's latest comment should give them cause for concern.
He lied claiming a continued rebel "military threat." Saying Kiev intends repositioning heavy weapons in front line positions any time he says they violated Minsk - whether true or false.
Throughout months of conflict, Kiev, Washington, other Western nations, Eastern European NATO members, and media scoundrels repeatedly accused rebels of Kiev crimes.
Expect a similar Big Lie to launch the next phase of conflict. Likely threatening Europe more than any time since WW II.
Will its leaders risk everything staying loyal to Washington’s imperial madness? Will their populations allow them to do it at the risk of their own demise?
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.

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

Gitmo in Chicago - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 21:56
Gitmo in Chicago
by Stephen Lendman
What London's Guardian reported on Tuesday is shocking, disturbing, yet unsurprising given the scourge of neocon fascist governance in America.
Washington's war on humanity at home and abroad should be a wakeup call for everyone. Wars without end rage against one nation after another.
Independent ones are targeted for regime change. Washington's goal is total colonization of planet earth, stealing its resources and enslaving its people.
US cities are virtual battlegrounds like never before. America is unsafe to live in. 
Washington provides police nationwide with enormous amounts of combat weapons, related equipment and supplies - making them virtual military units.
The line between cop and combat ready soldier is less clear than ever in US history. Militarized police wage war on freedom. It's a hair's breadth from disappearing altogether.
When cities become battlegrounds, ordinary people risk being treated like enemies - losing all constitutional protections mattering most.
The alarming state of today's America should scare everyone. Fundamental rights don't matter. Anyone can be targeted, arrested and disappeared. Perhaps never heard from again.
This writer's home city Chicago may be ground zero for some of the most disturbing practices. London's Guardian broke the story demanding world coverage and outrage.
On February 24, it headlined "The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site.' "
It's an "off-the-books (Homan Square) interrogation compound," said the Guardian - some miles west from where this writer lives.
A "nondescript warehouse (is) the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site." People are lawlessly arrested, detained, denied access to lawyers up to 24 hours, and tortured during secret interrogations.
Detainees are kept off "official booking databases. Some young as 15 are painfully shackled for long periods, beaten and terrorized.
Homan Square is in Chicago's west side North Lawndale district. It's home to the original 1905 Sears, Roebuck and Co. property. 
Many of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps Gitmo in America will be included one day. More on the Guardian's report below.
Chicago police have a longstanding reputation for brutality. They have virtual carte blanche authority to operate with impunity.
They take full advantage. From 1972 - 1991, detective Jon Burge got away with torturing over 200 detainees. Instead of dismissal and prosecution, he was promoted.
Dozens of victims complained. Suits followed. Finally, after 21 abusive years, he was fired. 
Community outrage stopped a March 1993 Fraternal Order of Police plan to honor him with a float in Chicago's annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
On October 21, 2008, he was indicted on two counts of obstructing justice and one count of perjury. On June 28, 2010, he was convicted on all counts. He's the exception proving  the rule. 
It took decades for partial justice. Few police are prosecuted -  almost never one of high rank. Burge rose from street cop to detective commander. Over two decades, he got 13 commendations and a Justice Department letter of praise. 
His crimes were well-known. A code of silence hid them. He was honored until his luck ran out. He got off mildly. 
He received four and half years in prison. His crimes and similar ones committed by other rogue cops should never have been allowed in the first place.
This writer personally knows a Chicago cop torture victim. He committed no crimes. Yet he was lawlessly arrested, detained and brutalized for being Black in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He remains justifiably outraged. Rogue cops weren't punished. Nor their superiors. During Chicago's May 2012 NATO summit, Chicago police viciously assaulted peaceful protesters.
Dozens were hurt. Victims had head injuries, broken bones and teeth knocked out. Many required hospitalization.
In Black and Latino communities, police brutality rages. Cracked skulls, arrests and brutality in detention reflect longstanding practice.
Chicago is a mini-police state. Last year, a Chicago organization called We Charge Genocide produced a report charging city police with "systematic horrific & punitive police violence against Black and Brown youths on a daily basis."
ACLU human rights program director Jamil Dakwar says "(i)t's time for systemic policing reforms and effective oversight that make sure law enforcement agencies treat all citizens with equal respect and hold officers accountable when they cross the line."
Chicago police lie saying "CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility." 
"If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them." 
"It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property.”
The Guardian report explained systematic abuse of power and denial of fundamental constitutional rights.
"At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square (so-called) 'interview room' and later pronounced dead," it said.
Brian Jacob Church was one of the 2012 NATO Three protesters. He was arrested and held incommunicado at Homan Square for nearly 24 hours before being booked at local police station.
He commented to the Guardian as follows, saying:
"Homan Square is definitely an unusual place. It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East." 
"The CIA calls them black sites. It's a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what's happened to you."
"…I wasn't allowed to make any contact with anybody." He was painfully shackled for about 17 hours.
"I had essentially figured, 'All right, well, they disappeared us and so we're probably never going to see the light of day again."
Lawyers seeking access to Homan Square are routinely turned away. According to Chicago attorney Julia Bartmes:
"It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place - if you can't find a client in the system, odds are they're" at Homan.
Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor accused Chicago police of Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations.
He omitted 8th Amendment prohibitions against "cruel and unusual punishments."
He said Homan Square reflects "an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years, of violating a suspect or witness' rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement."
When a Guardian reporter tried gaining access to Homan, a guard "refused any entrance and would not answer questions," the paper said.
"This is a secure facility. You're not even supposed to be standing here," the guard said.
Detainees taken there "just disappear," said criminal defense attorney Anthony Hill.
Their whereabouts is unknown "until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street."
Chicago police guidelines prohibit Homan Square practices. A "Processing Persons Under Department Control" directive says the following:
"(I)nvestigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process." 
Anyone arrested must be allowed "a reasonable number of telephone calls (to attorneys straightaway) after their arrival at the first place of custody."
"Arrestee and In-Custody Communications (must) allow visitation by attorneys." According to the Guardian:
"The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it."
Former Chicago public defender/current Valparaiso University Law School dean Andrea Lyon calls Homan Square "analogous to the CIA's black sites,"
Chicago Justice Project's Tracy Siska says "(t)he real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects."
"They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices." 
"That's how we ended up with a black site in Chicago." A follow-up February 26 Guardian report said city police didn't respond to its questions.
What's ongoing in Chicago likely happens elsewhere across America. US jails, detention facilities and prisons are notoriously brutal.
An earlier article discussed a 2005 UK Deborah Davis Channel 4 report titled "Torture, Inc., America's Brutal Prisons."
It explained prisoners brutally shocked with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, harmed by stun guns, beaten, stripped naked and abused in various other ways.
Sound familiar, it asked? Welcome to Guantanamo in America..
Videos Britain's Channel 4 aired made disturbing viewing. They show guards yelling and abusing prisoners.
"(O)rdering them to lie on the ground and crawl. (If not) fast enough, a guard kicks (them) or stomps on (their) back."
One man screamed when a dog bit his lower leg. Another had his ankle broken, couldn't crawl fast enough, and was painfully taserred on his buttocks.
Hours later, his body still shook uncontrollably. Images revealed reflected Gitmo or Abu Ghraib practices in US prisons.
Horrifying evidence of America's brutality. Commonplace abroad and at home at the federal, state and local levels.
Chicago is a microcosm of systemic US ruthlessness. Torture without accountability is the clearest example. 
Sadism writ large best explains it. Nothing in prospect suggests change.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can b 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.

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

Congress Is Poised to Introduce a Bill to Fast Track TPP so It's Time to Act Now - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 09:12

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won't be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That's why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass Fast Track. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP's provisions by lawmakers who could ensure that this secret deal does not contain expansive copyright rules that would lock the U.S. into broken copyright rules that are already in bad need of reform.

The Fast Track bill is likely going to be introduced as early as next week—so it's time to speak out now. Congress needs to hear from their constituents that we expect them to hold the White House accountable for the TPP's restrictive digital policies. Unless this opaque, undemocratic process is fixed, and state officials uphold the interests of users rather than trampling our rights, we have no choice but to fight trade deals like the TPP.

You can get in touch with your elected representatives and call on them to oppose Fast Track trade authority for the TPP and other secretive, anti-user trade deals. We have also created a new tool for Twitter users to ask three key congressional leaders to come out against Fast Track. They are Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Steny Hoyer. Here's why we are targeting these three Congress members in particular.

Target #1: Sen. Ron Wyden

Sen. Wyden is one of the leading defenders of users' rights and a staunch fighter for the free and open Internet in Congress. For the past several years, he has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers denouncing the secretive TPP negotiations, and has consistently raised concerns about the agreement's threat to users. As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, where the Senate bill will be introduced, he has a significant amount of influence over the outcome of Fast Track. We need to call on him to continue to stand with users and fight back against any version of this bill that does not address critical problems in the trade negotiation process.

Target #2: Rep. Nancy Pelosi

House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, has proven to be an outspoken defender of the free and open Internet this year, as she was one of the most vocal proponents to defend net neutrality. However, she has unfortunately been wishy-washy on Fast Track and the TPP. She needs to hear from users that the TPP also puts the Internet at risk from oppressive regulations. If she were to come out against Fast Track, that would be a strong signal for other House Democrats to follow her lead.

Target #3: Rep. Steny Hoyer

His voting record for digital rights has been pretty spotty, and so far Rep. Hoyer has been supportive of Fast Track. But as House Minority Whip, his opposition to Fast Track would also be hugely influential for Democrats in the House to come out against it as well.

Let them know that we're counting on them to defend the Internet from the White House's secret, anti-user deals. Once you're done tweeting at them (which you can of course do more than once!), remember to share these actions through your social networks. We can defeat this massive, anti-user trade deal, but we're going to need all the help we can get.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrade AgreementsTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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EFF to Congress: Curb Patent Demand Letter Abuse - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 06:31

At a congressional hearing today, EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri gave formal testimony about patent demand letters and the harm these letters cause to legitimate businesses. Ranieri outlined the discouraging process that allows demand letters to thrive: the Patent Office issues vague and overbroad patents; patent trolls acquire these bad patents and send unfair and deceptive demand letters; and legitimate businesses, without the resources to fight back, end up paying unjustifiable licensing fees. It’s long past time to reform this severely broken system, and we’re pleased that lawmakers seemed ready to tackle this complex problem.

EFF has been fighting abuse of the patent system for years—doing everything from getting bad patents invalidated, to working to stop bad patents from issuing in the first place, to trying to fix imbalances in the law. In just the last few weeks, EFF announced that it’s representing a photo hobbyist attacked by a patent bully that wanted a license fee for running an online “vote-for-your-favorite-picture” poll and released its “Defend Innovation” whitepaper—two-and-a-half years' worth of research on the challenges facing innovators under the current patent regime, along with concrete suggestions of measures policymakers should take in the coming year.

It seems that conventional wisdom is finally catching up to something that innovators have known for a long time: our patent system isn’t serving creators, it’s hurting them. Join and tell Congress to take action and pass desperately needed reforms today.

Related Issues: PatentsLegislative Solutions for Patent ReformPatent TrollsInnovation
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Dear FCC: Thanks for Listening to Team Internet! - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 06:17

Today the FCC voted three to two to reclassify broadband Internet access as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act, and forbear from the parts of the Act that aren’t necessary for net neutrality rules. This reclassification gives the FCC the authority to enact (and enforce) narrow, clear rules which will help keep the Internet the open platform it is today.

As expected, the FCC’s new rules forbid ISPs from charging Internet users for special treatment on their networks. It will also reach interconnection between ISPs and transit providers or edge services, allowing the FCC to ensure that ISPs don’t abuse their gatekeeper authority to favor some services over others.

That’s great for making sure websites and services can reach ISP customers, but what about making sure customers can choose for themselves how to use their Internet connections without interference from their ISPs? To accomplish this, the FCC has banned ISPs from blocking or throttling their customers’ traffic based on content, applications or services—which means users, hackers, tinkerers, artists, and knowledge seekers can continue to innovate and experiment on the Internet, using any app or service they please, without having to get their ISP’s permission first.

Even better, the rules will apply to wireless and wired broadband in the same way, so you don’t have to worry that your phone switching from Wi-Fi to a 4G network will suddenly cause apps not to work or websites to become inaccessible. Lots of people use mobile devices as their primary way of accessing the Internet, so applying net neutrality rules to both equally will help make sure there is “one Internet” for all.

So congratulations, Team Internet. We put the FCC on the right path at last. Reclassification under Title II was a necessary step in order to give the FCC the authority it needed to enact net neutrality rules. But now we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn’t abuse its authority.

For example, the new rules include a “general conduct rule” that will let the FCC take action against ISP practices that don’t count as blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization. As we said last week and last year, vague rules are a problem. The FCC wants to be, in Chairman Wheeler’s words, “a referee on the field” who can stop any ISP action that it thinks “hurts consumers, competition, or innovation.” The problem with a rule this vague is that neither ISPs nor Internet users can know in advance what kinds of practices will run afoul of the rule. Only companies with significant legal staff and expertise may be able to use the rule effectively. And a vague rule gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence. That means our work is not yet done.  We must stay vigilant, and call out FCC overreach.

The actual order is over 300 pages long, and it’s not widely available yet. Details matter.  Watch this space for further analysis when the FCC releases the final order.

Related Issues: Net NeutralityTransparencyRelated Cases: Net Neutrality Lobbying
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Grand Theft Netanyahu? - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 05:34
Grand Theft Netanyahu?
by Stephen Lendman
When he arrives in Washington for his March 3 congressional address, lawmakers showing up will welcome a war criminal/serial liar/thief.
A scathing Israeli State Comptroller report provided evidence of significant financial improprieties.
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira believes a criminal investigation is warranted. Perhaps an indictment on misuse of state resources for personal gain will follow.
A political firestorm erupted close to Israeli March 17 elections. How it'll affect them remains to be seen.
Whether Netanyahu wins or loses won't help Palestinians. All Israeli regimes since 1948 persecuted them viciously. 
Expect nothing different ahead no matter who wins. The loser is certain like always.
Netanyahu remaining prime minister may improve things for Palestinians sooner by sparking greater public anger for change.
A friendlier face replacing him following business as usual likely means more lost years for long delayed justice.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has more than critics to face ahead of fast approaching elections. 
Shapira's report says his expenditures for two personal residences (in Jerusalem and Caesarea on weekends) were excessive and improper without integrity or transparency.
It's one thing getting prime ministerial perks. Quite another spending large sums improperly. Former health minister Yael German called him "thoroughly disconnected from the people."
Opposition elements say he's unfit to serve. Anyone following his policies knew that long ago. 
He's ruthless, irresponsible, lawless and guilty of genocidal crimes no matter how much money he did or didn't steal. He remains unaccountable. 
He belongs in prison, not high office. He has buckets of blood on his hands he'll never be able to wash off. 
Stolen shekels are minor crimes compared last summer's genocidal high ones alone.
Plus daily persecution throughout Occupied Palestine. Netanyahu's vendetta against Iran threatens regional peace.
He risks war on the Islamic Republic that could embroil the entire region in conflict. He's capable of ordering a nuclear strike on Iran.
Someone like him in power threatens world peace. Especially allied with Washington.
Meanwhile he has questions to answer. Shapira's report showed he used government funds for personal expenses.
His cleaning ones doubled from $138,000 in 2009 to over $250,000 in 2011. They dropped slightly in 2012.
His overall expenses rose from $475,000 in 2009 to $615,000 in 2010 to $798,000 in 2011. Then slightly lower in 2012 and 2013, but remaining inordinately high.
Spending for food and hospitality more than doubled in 2010 and 2011 compared to 2009.
According to Shapira: "In light of the large cleaning costs, the PMO should examine…(its) prudence and act to avoid unnecessary expenditures." He stopped short of calling him a thief.
At the same time, he believes evidence he compiled warrants a criminal investigation. He spent hundreds of thousands of shekels on takeout food alone even though his official residence employed a cook.
Evidence on work done by electrician Avi Fahima was sent to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein - apparently on recommendation by Israel's state prosecutor.
Cleaning expenses on Netanyahu's weekend resident alone cost Israeli taxpayers around $2,000 a month - "even though Mr. Netanyahu and his family spent most of the year at the official residence," said Shapira.
His report explained Netanyahu's office employees were at times forced to pay for his personal expenses - without reimbursement.
Deficiencies in Knesset administrative practices were noted as well as financial mismanagement of human resources at Netanyahu's residences.
"The meaning of a failure to pay back these invoices from petty cash is that PMO employees absorbed the cost of private expenditures of the prime minister or his family," said Shapira. 
"When a PMO employee is forced to pay from his own pocket for an expenditure by the prime minister, this is improper administration, and it makes no difference whether the sum is large or small."
Netanyahu faces other criticism for spending $20,000 at his weekend home for water alone. Another $2,500 for ice cream.
Over $100,000 to install a bed in his plane for a five-hour flight. Shapira's audit found his budgeted expenses "were made without a process that analyzed needs or determined estimated expenses."
"This did not meet a single criteria for the rules of proper management, and hurt the ability to carry out proper auditing and oversight," Shapira said.
Netanyahu's household expenditures for "family and guests at the official residence, especially in 2010 and 2011, and to a lesser extent in 2012, did not meet a single criteria of the basic principles of proportionality, reasonableness, economy and efficiency,"  Shapira explained.
He was highly critical of out-of-line expenses for cleaning, water, food, makeup, hairstyling, electrical work, and other expenditures taxpayers had to pay.
Israeli commentator Udi Segal believes Shapira's report won't spoil Netanyahu's chance for remaining prime minister. He's in a close race at this stage he looks likely to win.
Haaretz said he won't disclose the foreign bank recipient of $145,000 transfer he made in 2002.
Journalist Uri Blau published information on it. Netanyahu refuses to explain what's important to disclose.
Blau published the following, saying: 
"Dear Mathew - Please forward to Lehman Brothers in New York the sum of $145,000 from my account at the Royal Bank of Scotland."
According to Blau, "reports from the Swiss leaks continue to uncover tax shelters and other bank accounts." 
"It's important to remember that Netanyahu also had an account in a tax shelter. Documents pertaining to this account are being revealed here for the first time."
"Last year, journalist Lilach Weissman exposed in Globes' that between the years 1998-2003 Netanyahu held an account at a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in the Channel Islands of Jersey, known for their comfy tax regime." 
"During the majority of that time, Netanyahu was off politics, though he returned to hold a public position as Foreign Minister at the end of 2002."
"According to Weissman, Netanyahu used this account to pay the  $2,468.45 to Shimron, Molho, Persky & Co. law firm; to transfer $8,000 to the bank account of IDF Colonel (reserves) Yehuar Gal, his Chief of Staff in 2000 and to transfer $1,800 to Aviv Bushinsky, his former spokesperson."
"But the biggest amount we know to have transferred from Netanyahu's account has reached an unknown destination."
He referred to the $145,000 mentioned above. It went to a Lehman client account identified only by a number - no name. 
Netanyahu refuses to explain further. Israelis have a right to know if he acted legally or otherwise.
On March 3, he'll deliver what's called the most controversial address ever by a foreign leader to a joint session of Congress.
During his Washington stay, no White House welcome mat will greet him. Obama, Biden and Kerry intend boycotting his speech. Reports suggest so will dozens of Democrat lawmakers
Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice called his congressional appearance "destructive" of US/Israeli relations.
He's combining a pre-election PR stunt with efforts to sabotage ongoing Iranian P5+1 talks. 
He repeatedly lies about Tehran's nuclear weapons program his own Mossad says has no military component.
He'll grossly breach protocol two ways. By addressing Congress with no White House invitation. By urging lawmakers reject any P5+1 deal made. 
Reasons enough for any US president to want nothing to do with him. Obama and Netanyahu clearly don't like each other. 
The White House has more reasons than ever to want him defeated on March 17. Polls suggest otherwise.
A Final Comment
On February 26, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein met with state prosecution senior officials to consider whether Netanyahu's financial improprieties warrant a criminal investigation.
It's expected to follow. Netanyahu will be required to testify. An Israeli Channel 2 report said a formal investigation "appears inescapable…if only to clear away the cloud of suspicion."
On Thursday, Netanyahu hired top criminal attorney Jacob Weinroth to represent him in case charges follow.
Media reports suggest probing his spending excess might uncover more than what's already known. 
He's suspected of using large amounts of state funds for private expenses. Evidence proving it would likely mean criminal indictment. 
He'd face trial and possible prison time if convicted. He deserves that and more for his high crimes against 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.

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

New Report Shows European Data Protection Authorities are Taking Facebook’s Questionable Terms of Service Seriously - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 03:02

Grumblings about changes in Facebook’s layout and policies are standard practice for everyone familiar with the social media giant. But some European governments are taking Facebook’s practices more seriously. This week, interdisciplinary scholars and researchers in Belgium issued a draft report entitled “From social media service to advertising network: A critical analysis of Facebook’s Revised Policies and Terms.” The report is provisional, and “will be updated after further research, deliberation and commentary.”

The report was based on an “extensive analysis of Facebook’s revised policies and terms,” conducted “at the request of the Belgian Privacy Commission.” The Commission is part of a task force of European Union (EU) data protection authorities created specifically to address Facebook’s shifting policies, which also includes Germany and the Netherlands.

This thorough analysis is useful both because it provides an in-depth explanation of items of note in the newly revised 2015 terms and because it explains how the terms fit in with European law. To be fair, it’s not all bad, and the report reiterates some long-standing concerns, that have not been affected by recent changes. The report also notes that Facebook has improved the degree of clarity around how it uses data, though rather large holes remain.  

Overall, the report found that many of Facebook’s policies and practices with regards to data are of questionable legality under European Union law.1 This is of increasing concern because:

Facebook’s data processing capabilities have increased both horizontally and vertically. By horizontal we refer to the increase of data gathered from different sources. Vertical refers to the deeper and more detailed view Facebook has on its users.

In particular, this expansion has happened because Facebook has acquired new companies like Instagram and Whatsapp, and because more and more websites use Facebook plug-ins and other services. The report also noted that much of how Facebook uses data is simply opaque.

Privacy Settings

Although Facebook’s privacy settings haven’t changed, the report notes that:

users are able to choose from several granular settings which regulate access by other individuals, but cannot exercise meaningful control over the use of their personal information by Facebook or third parties. This gives users a false sense of control.

That false sense of control is key, since the report emphasizes the many ways in which users cannot actually limit use of their data. What’s more, Facebook’s default settings for “behavioural profiling and advertising” do not constitute legally valid consent because “consent cannot be inferred from the data subject’s inaction,” and this concept of explicit consent, taken from applicable EU law, recurs throughout the report.

Data use

To be legally valid under European Union law, consent to processing and use of user generated data must be “freely given”, “specific”, “informed” and “unambiguous.” The report stresses, “it is highly questionable whether Facebook’s current approach satisfies these requirements.”

Facebook’s practices with regards to how it combines data from a variety of sources, and shares data with other parties are also of questionable legality, according to the report. For example, the report describes a use case in which Facebook combines its own data with data from third-party data brokers. The report notes “Facebook only offers an opt-out system for its users in relation to profiling for third-party advertising purposes,” which in the authors’ view, is insufficient to meet legal requirements.

Facebook’s use of user-generated content, such as photos, is also problematic.  Facebook’s terms grant “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty- free, worldwide license” to Facebook to use such content. The report notes that this may contradict EU and Belgian law, and has been held “invalid and therefore not enforceable under German Law.” Similarly, “[i]ndividuals have the right control use of their image,” but the lack of clarity in Facebook’s terms and settings makes this hard to do. That’s why the report recommends that users should be specifically required to opt-in to using their images for ads.

Unfair Contract Terms

In addition to the concerns noted above with how Facebook utilizes user data, the report indicates that some portions of Facebook’s terms may violate European consumer protection law, in particular the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (UCTD).

One stands out: Facebook’s right to stop providing access to Facebook without warning. Although the terms indicate that Facebook will notify users by email or the next time a user tries to log in, under the UCTD, “terms that enable ‘the seller or supplier to terminate a contract of indeterminate duration without reasonable notice except where there are serious grounds for doing so’ may be unfair.

As we’ve noted before, Facebook has terminated or suspended many accounts under its names policy. One of the things that users find especially frustrating is the experience of attempting to log in and not being able to access content they may have spent years amassing—all because they weren’t given a warning. Under European law, Facebook’s method of dealing with name violations may not be simply unfair. It may actually be illegal.

In addition to concerns about termination, the report several other problematic terms. It points out that Facebook's terms require disputes to be settled in California, under California law, even though the company has offices in three EU member states.This is likely unlawful under European Parliament regulations. Also, under the UCTD, the terms that limit Facebook's liability to $100, disclaim any warranty for content and software, and reserve the right to unilaterally change the terms themselves, are all likely unlawful. Lastly, the clause that "obliges users to indemnify Facebook for any expenses incurred, including legal fees, as a result of a violation of the terms of service" is unlawful in some EU countries.

Tracking and location data

Finally, the report notes that Facebook has increased the ways in which it collects data from users beyond cookies, and collects locational data from a wide variety of sources.

Although Facebook is more explicit in the 2015 terms about gathering locational data, it remains “vague and broad” in its description of what it will do with that data. And that’s a big gap. Users have only the choice to turn access to location data like GPS and WiFi off or on once in the mobile app; they can’t share location data for some purposes but not others. What’s more, Facebook may collect location data not only through explicit means like GPS, but also through other means like the location data in a photograph—and there are no settings that address this. The report recommends offering “granular in-app settings for sharing of location data, with all parameters turned off by default,” and minimizing collection of location data in the first place.

When it comes to tracking, Facebook tracks users through several means, including social plug-ins, fingerprinting, and mobile apps. Social plug-ins are things like Facebook’s “like” button on a news organization’s page. While outside websites can limit the degree of tracking done by plug-ins, the report concludes that Facebook’s current scheme doesn’t provide for legal consent, and that “Facebook should design its social plug-ins in way which are privacy-friendly by default.”

Other forms of tracking are also of questionable legality. Facebook’s practice of fingerprinting (using a different information like operating system and browser settings to create a “fingerprint” of a device) requires collection and use of device information that is likely not legal under article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive.  And because tracking through apps can only be controlled by opting-out, like other areas where this is the only option, the report concludes that Facebook’s terms don’t “provide for legally valid consent” in this area, either.

Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon, but users should be clear on how the social media giant really operates. You can read the entire report here [PDF]. Hopefully Facebook is reading it too, and plans to address the serious issues raised. We've already given them a few suggestions on how to do so.


  • 1. Specifically, the report noted the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, the work of the Article 29 Working Party, and the e-Privacy Directive.
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US Diplomats Paid to Lie - Fri, 27/02/2015 - 02:35
US Diplomats Paid to Lie
by Stephen Lendman
If Washington ran want ads tor diplomatic posts, they'd read something like this:
Wanted: Individuals for diplomatic positions. Foreign service experience preferred. Deception skills required. 
Comfortable spreading state propaganda. Willing to ignore hard truths. Eager to lie for their government.
John Kerry does it poorly. How he got the top diplomatic post is anyone's guess. Maybe he bought it. 
Together with his wife's enormous wealth, his net worth way exceeds a billion dollars. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates his alone at from $184 - 288 million.
It's hard remembering how many times he lied about Russia. On Tuesday, he did again saying Russian officials lied "to (his) face."
He's so habituated to lying he wouldn't know the truth if if bit him on the rump. Anti-Russian propaganda rages. Exceeding anything during the Cold War years.
Not according to Kerry. He lied telling lawmakers "Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I’ve seen since the very height of the Cold War."
"And they have been persisting in their misrepresentations - lies - whatever you want to call them - about their activities there to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions."
He repeatedly accuses Russia of aggression in Ukraine despite no evidence whatever proving it. Plenty debunking it.
Big Lies don't need evidence. They have a life of their own. Repetition gets most people to believe them. Global wars start this way.
"Russia is engaged in a massive effort to sway nations, to appeal to them, reach out to them, and fundamentally, tragically, sort of reigniting a new kind of East-West zero sum game that we think is dangerous and unnecessary, frankly," Kerry claimed.
Washington does "a pretty good job of standing up for Ukrainian sovereignty." He urged lawmakers to authorize more support.
"We all need to be prepared to step up and be there economically for Ukraine as they reform and try to implement their dream and vision," he said.
"It’s not good enough to have Poroshenko come here and get 40 standing ovations, and then not step up and deliver what it’s really going to take to help him create the democracy he wants to create."
Anyone making minimal efforts to learn hard truths and stay current knows Kerry is a serial liar. 
Nothing he says holds water. He long ago lost credibility. He's a diplomatic embarrassment - shaming the office he holds.
He's paid to lie. He fronts for wealth power and privilege. He deplores peace. He supports war. 
He's fundamentally against democratic governance at home and abroad. He's for fascist ruthlessness replacing it.
His State Department spokeswoman moving up to White House communications director Jen Psaki repeats the same Big Lies.
It's her top priority. Her latest wrongfully accused Donbass rebels of Kiev crimes - again. 
Citing nonexistent "violations of the ceasefire around Debaltseve, the coastal city of Mariupol, and other locations in eastern Ukraine…"
Saying rebels won't let "OSCE monitors access" front line areas despite spokesman Eduard Basurin urging them to come and do their job.
She's dismissive about Kiev military forces refusal to withdraw heavy weapons mandated by Minsk. Only now are they pulling any back. 
How many, how far and to where isn't known. Or whether they'll reposition them back near where they were once OSCE monitors aren't around.
Psaki irresponsibly blames rebels for not withdrawing despite clear evidence they' complied unilaterally until February 26. Confirmed by video footage and independent journalists on the ground.
Psaki ludicrously repeats the Big Lie about Ukraine last February "cast(ing) off an authoritarian regime and chos(ing) a future based on democracy, free trade and the rule of law."
She blames Russia and rebels for Kiev's high crimes against peace. She calls premeditated Ukraine aggression "defending its sovereign territory." 
Despite rebels strictly observing each ceasefire agreement since last April, she blames them for nonexistent violations.
She turns a blind eye to repeated Kiev wrongdoing. She lied saying its military "abided by" agreed on terms despite flagrant violations too obvious to ignore.
She calls an illegitimate US-installed putschist regime democratic. Imagine what she'll say in her new capacity as administration communication director. 
Her new job puts her in charge of the White House lying machine. Expect her to take full advantage. She'll be hard-pressed matching her boss' demagoguery.
Sputnik News ran a piece about US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt''s "tweetplomacy." He "spends all day bashing Russia on Twitter," it said.
He fabricates unsubstantiated allegations. The same rubbish the White House, State Department and media scoundrels proliferate.
He lies repeatedly about nonexistent Russian aggression in Ukraine. His only proof are photos exposed as fakes. Unrelated to Ukraine. From years earlier by AP, AFP and other news sources.
His mandate is when you have no evidence, invent it. Fake it. Repeat Big Lies often enough to get people to believe them.
Sputnik News said it "rais(es) the ire of (twitter) posters weary of the constant claims of Russian involvement without the provision of any proof."
His "latest and most ridiculous" tweet "quoted a mysterious witness about the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine."
Saying "(i)t is no secret that the Russian army is here. My wife runs a small shop and some men only wanted to pay in rubles. They are Russian!"
Pyatt is in Kiev, not Donbass. He's far from front line areas. Whether or not some mystery men tried using rubles is irrelevant. 
Nor does it matter if real or invented shoppers were Russian. Ukraine has a large Russian population. It doesn't mean they're Russian soldiers.
Pyatt's tweet made himself look more buffoon-like than diplomat. He invented the Russian mystery shopper story out of whole cloth.
He provided no proof backing anything he said. Or corroborating his other anti-Russian tweets and comments.
It bears repeating. He's paid to lie. Truth-telling gets him fired. Another tweet claims "Russian military personnel have participated in the recent attacks on Vuhlehirsk and Debaltseve."
Again, no proof. Blanket uncorroborated statements polar opposite truth. Sputnik News posted a comment responding to Pyatt saying "(e)nough nonsense."
"Russian armed forces were not there. If they were, Psaki and co. would have flooded the world with pictures and commentary."
Propaganda claims without proof are bald-faced Big Lies. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Joseph Goebbels once said "(t)ruth is the mortal enemy of the lie…" 
Repeated enough makes liars like Obama, Kerry, Psaki and Pyatt irrelevant. If people no longer believe them, their message falls flat.  
It doesn't mean they won't keep trying. It does mean the more Big Lies they tell, the less their credibility.
One tweeter said "(b)elieving the statements made by American diplomats is a dangerous undertaking."
In response to Pyatt turning truth on its head tweeting "(t)he separatists in eastern Ukraine at this point are a de facto extension of Russian military and an instrument of Russian national power," responder Vyacheslav Morosov said:
"A question to you Mr. Pyatt: are you a diplomat or a worker in the ministry of propaganda, or is it the situation now in the #USA that all diplomats are propagandists?"
In February 2014, Pyatt gained notoriety with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland for their role in orchestrating coup violence resulting in replacing Ukrainian democracy with fascist dictatorship.
They were caught red-handed on tape discussing it. Nuland explained Washington spent more than $5 billion over the past 20 years on regime change - wanting puppet governance installed Washington controls.
Things so far haven't gone as planned. Pyatt tweets, Kerry and Psaki Big Lies, and Obama's whoppers won't change things.
Heroic rebel freedom fighters smashed Kiev's military. The country is broke. It's teetering on bankruptcy. 
It's rife with perhaps its worst corruption ever. Top regime and military officials are stealing the country blind.
Extreme social deprivation, mass impoverishment, growing unemployment, and fascist repression let increasing numbers of Ukrainians know they were had.
Maidan promises were fake. They meant nothing. Yanukovych's government looks like the good old days compared to hardline lunatics now running things.
Complicit with Washington and rogue NATO partners, they risk direct confrontation with Russia. 
They risk the unthinkable - possible humanity destroying nuclear war.
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.

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

Raging Anti-Russian Propaganda - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 21:51
Raging Anti-Russian Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
Accomplishing political objectives requires winning hearts and minds. The most intense anti-Russian propaganda in memory rages. Outrageous disinformation drowns out hard truths.
If words were bombs, mushroom-shaped denouement would have us all dead. It's not enough, John Kerry claims.
On February 25, he asked House Appropriations Subcommittee members for more money for so-called "democracy promotion" propaganda against nonexistent threats.
To counter the growing influence of alternative news and information sources reporting hard truths everyone needs to know.
Kerry specifically targeted RT International (formerly Russia Today). Last April, he disgracefully called it a "propaganda bullhorn…"
"(D)eployed to promote President Putin's fantasy about what is playing out on the ground," he ludicrously claimed.
It "can be heard in English," said Kerry. "Do we have an equivalent that can be heard in Russian," he asked?
"It’s a pretty expensive proposition. They are spending huge amounts of money." Kerry failed to explain Voice of America propaganda broadcasts in Russian since 1947.
Kerry discussed the same issue before House Foreign Affairs Committee members.
Chairman Ed Royce (R. CA) repeated the Big Lie about "Russia's military aggression…matched…by its propaganda."
It's "spending more than $500 million annually to mislead audiences, sow divisions, and push conspiracy out over RT television," he absurdly claimed.
It's current budget is $225 million. US government media spend over three times as much - $721 million.
Britain's state controlled BBC spends around $375 million. BBC Worldwide is a wholly owned subsidiary.
It generates over $1.5 billion in annual revenue and more than $250 million in profits. Don't expect Kerry, Royce or other policymaking lunatics in Washington to explain.
US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) head Andrew Lack is RT's latest antagonist.
He runs Washington's global propaganda machine. It includes: 
  • Voice of America;

  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,

  • Radio Free Asia;

  • Radio and TV Marti aimed at Cuba; and

  • Middle East Broadcasting Networks. 

Enormous sums are spent annually proliferating Big Lies. Lack's job is blasting them worldwide.
He turned truth on its head claiming "(w)e are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram."
"But I firmly believe (BBG) has a role to play in facing those challenges." In other words, counter hard truths with Big Lies.
Kerry want Congress appropriating $639 million for US state-sponsored propaganda.
"(T)o help our friends in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova as they seek to strengthen their democracies, withstand pressure from Russia, and to integrate more closely into Europe," he claimed.
The State Department wants over $2 billion for so-called "democracy, human rights, and governance programs" - state propaganda by any other name.
Ron Paul Institute's Daniel McAdams agrees saying Washington has "an unlimited advertising budget, but the product (it's) selling is not very attractive overseas."
"People are tired of US interventionism. They’re tired of US exceptionalism. They’re tired of the US bombing their country." 
BBG's budget is the tip of the iceberg, says McAdams. Washington spends enormous sums "influenc(ing) media oversees," he explains.
"There’s probably another $100 million in direct support to so-called ‘independent news publications’ oversees, and these are all different newspapers and broadcasting outfits that tow the US line that aren’t directly US-related."
America's "propaganda bullhorn" blasts everywhere electronically, in print and other ways - spreading Big Lies, smashing hard truths.
Becoming increasingly ineffective because anyone connected online can easily learn what they need to know with minimal effort.
Kiev wants its own propaganda blasted to the largest possible audience. Big Lies on February 26 alone said: 
"Pro-Russian separatists still refuse to grant safe access to OSCE monitors in Donbas."
"OSCE observers see no signs of heavy weapons withdrawal in Donbas."
"Militants spreading rumors about build-up of weapons for new attacks."
"Militants secretly redeploying forces to the south."
"Militants regrouping, sending military equipment equipment toward Mariupol."
"Militant commander threatens to kill OSCE mission experts."
"Militants violate ceasefire in Debaltseve, Donetsk and Mariupol 12 times overnight."
"Militants fire Grad rockets near Mariupol."
Not a shred of credible evidence supports this type propaganda. At the same time, OSCE monitors aren't fulfilling their mandate. 
They reject invitations to witness rebel heavy weapons withdrawal.RT International broadcast live video. According to rebel spokesman Eduard Basurin:
"Every day they have new conditions to put forward. For instance, (on February 26), they demanded a concrete route for the artillery." 
"Well, that heavy hardware doesn't travel on the roads, but OSCE monitors wouldn't care to go into the fields."
Rebels want OSCE monitoring. "We believe the OSCE's role is crucial," said Basurin. 
"Once again, we confirm that we are interested in OSCE presence at all weapons-withdrawal events." 
"The OSCE must be present to monitor the withdrawal of the weapons by both sides."
So far, rebels alone are complying with Minsk. Kiev refuses to withdraw its weapons. Whether it intends doing so ahead remains to be seen.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said OSCE monitors "showed a lack of proper effort to execute the functions entrusted to it."
Its OSCE ambassador Andrey Kelin complained about Kiev failing to fulfill its mandate.
It's not "pull(ing) out (its) heavy weaponry and say a pause is needed. That is what really triggers certain concern of the OSCE as this pause may last indefinitely."
Rebels said they're ready "to grant (OSCE monitors) access…to the locations where guarded weapons would be stored."
Moscow said providing Kiev with weapons and its failure to observe Minsk terms aggravate a very shaky ceasefire.
Britain and Australia sending troops to Ukraine complicates things further. Large numbers of US combat forces helping Kiev show Obama wants war, not peace.
Kiev wants increased propaganda effectiveness. It's recruiting an "online army" to wage information war - to proliferate Big Lies, bury hard truths.
Its Orwellian ministry of truth wants bloggers involved. It wants social media exploited. It wants fake news and information blasted to all Ukrainians.
In December, Kiev announced an information warfare department. Tass quoted Ukraine's propaganda minister Yury Stets saying:
"You don’t need trolls and bots to deliver (Kiev's version of so-called) truthful information to those communicating on the internet. It is obvious for social network veterans."
"To do so we need to unite people influential in social media and they will tell the (so-called) truth(s) (Kiev wants communicated) to everyone who reads them."
Stets announced plans for a new TV channel called Ukrainian Tomorrow. It'll broadcast state propaganda to an international audience.
Maybe he plans a Ukrainian version of Fox News - all propaganda all the time mixed with junk food news.
Kiev wants hard truths entirely eliminated. Over 100 Russian media outlets lost accreditation.
Including Tass, Rossiya Segodnya, and all Russian TV channels except Dozhd.
Sergey Lavrov blasted Kiev's move saying:
"The openly discriminatory decision by Ukraine's parliament to strip Russian mass media of accreditation at the bodies of state power is an extension of the policy to clear the country's media space of alternative points of view."
It "calls into question Kiev's interest in a peace settlement." Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added:
"Russia is a country where media activity is regulated by law, and where Russian and foreign journalists have equal rights to obtain information."
Separately, Peskov said Moscow won't resume cooperation with the West until its position on Ukraine is accepted. A growing chasm separates both sides. A dangerous one risking nuclear war.
"We have witnessed a tremendous clash of interests, collapse of interests in the heart of Europe, in Ukraine," Peskov stressed.
"So in the front of an illegitimate armed takeover, armed coup that occurred in Kiev one year ago, Russia took a position - a quite understandable one - but very, very frank, very open and very firm." 
"As soon as this position is accepted with understanding, I think that we all will be ready to resume our cooperation or interaction that we all desperately need in order to be effective in combating challenges that we will face."
"Right now, unfortunately, we don't have any cooperation in very sensitive fields like combating terror, like whatever." 
"(A) single country cannot be effective." Not when its best efforts are deliberately sabotaged. 
"…Russia cannot move behind the red line in terms of presuming and ensuring its own national interests."
"The only thing we want is that our national interests, our sovereign rights and sovereign interests (are) treated with due respect." 
"As soon as it happens, there will be a time for new Renaissance in (our) international relationship."
So far, it's nowhere in sight. America's rage for war threatens everyone. It's reckless quest for global dominance may kill us all.
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.

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

Marco Civil Da Internet: The Devil in the Detail - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 11:58

On April 24, 2014, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, signed Marco Civil Da Internet, a civil-rights based framework for the Internet which Brazilian activists have long fought. Dubbed the “Internet Constitution,” the law seeks to reinforce the protection of fundamental freedoms in the digital age. The law was developed through a participatory process, but not without getting caught in the traditional horse-trading of the legislative process, which resulted in several concessions. One of the most damaging concessions, fiercely opposed by digital rights activists, was a data retention mandate that compels the collection and storage of connections logs of any innocent individual.

Brazil is now in the midst of rolling out the Marco Civil’s secondary legislation, together with a comprehensive data protection law that will heavily influence how online companies and governments can treat personal data in the country. The Ministry of Justice has announced a public online consultation over these two pieces of legislation in the style of the Marco Civil’s process, where all the stakeholders can contribute to the development of the bills. These results of these consultations will determine how Marco Civil is enforced in practice, as Dennys Antonialli, executive director of InternetLab, an independent research center working in the fields of law and technology in Sao Paulo, explains:

"Both consultations intend to gather inputs about the way these laws should be shaped. Although Marco Civil establishes a number of rights for internet users in Brazil, many of its provisions still depend on further regulation, such as zero rating plans and limits for data retention. This is the time to voice concerns to policymakers and make sure they will be addressed properly. The same goes for the draft of the Data Protection Bill, which will serve as a baseline privacy legislation in the country and complement Marco Civil in various ways.”

(InternetLab’s weekly newsletters on the Brazilian consultation are a great resource for anyone attempting to keep up with the process, incidentally.)

If the data protection law passes Congress, Brazil will join more than 100 countries with privacy laws that restrict the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data. As of now, as with the United States, Brazil has limited sectoral laws in some areas.  More general data protection principles can be effective in protecting personal data, but successfully enforcing those principles, while reconciling them with other rights, including free expression, requires careful drafting, especially in a fast-moving digital environment.

Marco Civil in Practice: Net Neutrality

Another report issued by ARTICLE 19 Brazil analyzes how effective Marco Civil has been during its first six months of implementation. In its report, ARTICLE 19 draws attention to the "Whatsapp and TIM" network neutrality case. In 2014, the telecom company TIM (the Brazilian subsidiary of Telecom Italia Mobile), in partnership with Whatsapp, released a zero rating plan that allowed subscribers to use the app for "free,” meaning it would not drain subscribers’ data allowances. The zero rating proposal generated discussions about a possible violation of the net neutrality provision of Marco Civil. Marcelo Bechara, the counselor of the National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL), believes the proposal is a matter of the free market, while others argue that the gratuity of the app generates an asymmetry in traffic (since many users will choose to use this particular app) thus limiting and inhibiting the emergence of new applications and innovations.

According to the InternetLab, the most discussed topic in the Marco Civil’s consultation is "Net neutrality". The main discussion involves "zero rating" plans and the following question: "Can the mobile operators perform this type of discrimination in favor of one application in spite of its competitors?” Join the discussion here.

Marco Civil in Practice: Anonymity

In Brazil, the Constitution prohibits anonymous speech. The intention behind the prohibition is to keep the possibility of identifying anyone who expresses any opinions, beliefs or comments, both in the online or in the offline world. Anonymity is crucial for the exercise of our fundamental freedoms, which makes it possible for individuals to express themselves freely and without fear of retaliation. By not allowing Brazilian citizens to engage in anonymous speech, the Constitution imposes significant obstacles to their ability to report abuses of power or express unpopular opinions. Nevertheless, that prohibition does not extend to the protection of privacy.

Limited by these significant Constitutional obstacles, the Marco Civil reinforces that freedom of speech is a foundational principle for Internet users in Brazil. However, this provision has to be construed under limitations imposed by the Brazilian Constitution, leaving very little room for interpretations that could allow anonymity for free expression purposes. Marco Civil also establishes that Brazilian law should be applicable to any products or services used by individuals located in Brazil. This provision has empowered public prosecutors and law enforcement officials to claim that the constitutional ban on anonymous speech should also prevent the use of Internet applications that allow anonymous expression.

A recent example of this restriction is the ban imposed to “Secret,” an Internet application that markets itself as a “safe place to say what’s on your mind anonymously.” Invoking the Brazilian constitution’s prohibition, the public prosecutor’s office brought a lawsuit against the service, which had quickly become extremely popular in Brazil. Although later overturned, an injunction was granted to ban “Secret” from online application stores (Google and Apple) in Brazil and to have it remotely removed from devices where it had already been installed.

This high-profile case points to a potential danger of broadening the scope of the constitution’s prohibition and applying it to prevent the use of privacy enhancing technologies, which would also bring undesirable repercussions to the rights of reading and browsing anonymously. (Check EFF’s policy paper on Anonymity and Encryption).

The Marco Civil remains one of the best-crafted and democratically debated expressions of rights online to acquire the force of law in the world. But it’s not the end of the story. Like every foundational document, from any Constitution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the real challenges come in interpretation and enforcement. It’s up to Brazil’s engaged citizens to make sure that the law and upcoming legislation upholds the high standard its creators set.

Related Issues: Free SpeechInternational Privacy StandardsMandatory Data RetentionSurveillance and Human Rights
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Dear Software Vendors: Please Stop Trying to Intercept Your Customers’ Encrypted Traffic - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 11:05

Over the past week many more details have emerged about the HTTPS-breaking Superfish software that Lenovo pre-installed on its laptops for several months. As is often the case with breaking security incidents, most of what we know has come from security engineers volunteering their time to study the problem and sharing their findings via blogs and social media.

Unfortunately, the security implications have gone from bad to worse the more we’ve learned. For instance, researchers have determined that the software library Superfish uses to intercept traffic—developed by a company known as Komodia—is present in more than a dozen other software products, including parental control software and (supposed) privacy-enhancing/ad-blocking software. All of these products have the same vulnerability that Superfish does: anyone with a little technical know-how could intercept and modify your otherwise secure HTTPS traffic.

What’s worse is that these attacks are even easier than researchers originally thought, because of the way Komodia’s software handles invalid certificates: it alters the part of the certificate which specifies what website the certificate is for—for example changing to—and then signs the certificate and sends it on to your browser. Since the website listed on the certificate ( doesn’t match the website the user is actually visiting (, the browser shows a warning to the user.

But certificates have another field, called the Subject Alternative Name, which is used to list alternative domain names for which the certificate can be used (so that website operators can re-use the same certificate across all of their domain names). EFF, for example, uses the same certificate for,, and * Even if the “main” domain name listed in the certificate doesn’t match the domain name of the website the user is browsing, the certificate will still be accepted as long as one of the alternative names match. And because Komodia’s software signs the certificate (and tells your browser that it should trust certificates it signs if they’re otherwise valid), the certificate will pass all the browser’s checks, and come up smelling like roses.

This means that an attacker doesn’t even need to know which Komodia-based product a user has (and thus which Komodia private key to use to sign their evil certificate)—they just have to create an invalid certificate with the target domain as one of the alternative names, and every Komodia-based product will cause it to be accepted.

Evidence of Man-in-the-Middle Attacks in the Decentralized SSL Observatory

We searched the Decentralized SSL Observatory for examples of certificates that Komodia should have rejected, but which it ended up causing browsers to accept, and found over 1600 entries. Affected domains included sensitive websites like Google (including,, and, Yahoo (including, Bing, Windows Live Mail, Amazon, eBay (including, Twitter, Netflix, Mozilla’s Add-Ons website,, several banking websites (including and domains from HSBC and Wells Fargo), several insurance websites, the Decentralized SSL Observatory itself, and even

While it’s likely that some of these domains had legitimately invalid certificates (due to configuration errors or other routine issues), it seems unlikely that all of them did. Thus it’s possible that Komodia’s software enabled real MitM attacks which gave attackers access to people’s email, search histories, social media accounts, e-commerce accounts, bank accounts, and even the ability to install malicious software that could permanently compromise a user’s browser or read their encryption keys.

To make matters worse, Komodia isn’t the only software vendor that’s been tripped up by this sort of problem. Another piece of software known as PrivDog is also vulnerable. Ostensibly, PrivDog is supposed to protect your privacy by intercepting your traffic and substituting ads from “untrusted sources” with ads from a “trusted” source, namely AdTrustMedia. Like Komodia’s software, PrivDog installs a root certificate when it’s installed, which it then uses to sign the certificates it intercepts. However, a bug in certain versions of PrivDog cause it to sign all certificates, whether they’re valid or not. Simply put, this means that any certificate your browser sees while PrivDog is installed could be the result of a man-in-the-middle attack, and you’d have no way of knowing. The Decentralized SSL Observatory has collected over 17,000 different certificates from PrivDog users, any one of which could be from an attack. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure.

So what can we learn from this Lenovo/Superfish/Komodia/PrivDog debacle? For users, we’ve learned that you can’t trust the software that comes preinstalled on your computers—which means reinstalling a fresh OS will now have to be standard operating procedure whenever someone buys a new computer.

But the most important lesson is for software vendors, who should learn that attempting to intercept their customers’ encrypted HTTPS traffic will only put their customers’ security at risk. Certificate validation is a very complicated and tricky process which has taken decades of careful engineering work by browser developers.2 Taking certificate validation outside of the browser and attempting to design any piece of cryptographic software from scratch without painstaking security audits is a recipe for disaster.

Let the events of the last week serve as a warning: attempting to insert backdoors into encryption as Komodia attempted to do (and as others have called for in other contexts) will inevitably put users’ privacy and security at risk.

  • 1. Based on the “verify_fail” pattern, we also found certificates that purport to be from five pieces of software which, to our knowledge, haven’t yet been identified as using Komodia’s proxy software. The issuer fields for these certificates were: "O=Sweesh LTD, L=Tel Aviv, ST=Tel Aviv, C=IL, CN=Sweesh LT", "O=Kinner lake Gibraltar, L=My Town, ST=State or Providence, C=GI, CN=Kinner lake Gibraltar", "C=US, ST=California, L=SanDiego,, OU=Security,", "O=NordNet/, L=HEM, ST=HEM, C=FR,", and "O=PSafe Tecnologia S.A./, L=Rio de janeiro, ST=Rio de janeiro, C=BR, CN=PSafe Tecnologia S.A.". While we were unable to identify any organizations associated with the first two certificates, EdgeWave, NordNet, and PSafe appear to sell antivirus or web filtering products.
  • 2. Just last year, for example, researchers found a number of bugs in certificate validation libraries [PDF] through fuzz testing.
Related Issues: PrivacyEncrypting the WebSecurity
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Congress’s Copyright Review Should Strengthen Fair Use—Or At Least Do No Harm - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 08:45

The Internet is celebrating Fair Use Week, and it’s a great time to look at what Congress might do this year to help or hurt the fair use rights of artists, innovators, and citizens. After nearly two years of U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearings and vigorous conversations within government, industry, and the public, it seems like we might see some real proposals. But other than a few insiders, nobody knows for sure whether major changes to copyright law are coming this year, and what they might be.

Fair use is one of copyright’s essential safeguards for free speech, because it allows people to use copyrighted works without permission or payment in many circumstances. It’s critical to education, journalism, scholarship, and many, many uses of digital technology. Because copyright applies to trillions of files and streams, whether trivial or profound, that flow through the Internet every day, and because nearly every transmission or use of digital data involves making a copy, copyright pervades the Internet. Now more than ever, limits like fair use are critical to protect Internet users from runaway copyright liability.

If Congress does take up copyright reform this year, there are changes that would strengthen fair use, and thereby strengthen freedom of speech. One is to fix copyright’s draconian, unpredictable civil penalties. As we explained in our 2014 whitepaper, copyright holders can seek “statutory damages” of up to $150,000 per work without providing any proof of actual harm. The law gives almost no guidance to judges and juries in selecting the right amount. That means that money damages awarded to winning plaintiffs in copyright lawsuits vary wildly, and can be shockingly large. Free Republic, a nonprofit conservative commentary website, was penalized $1 million for posting copies of several Washington Post and Los Angeles Times articles in an effort to illustrate media bias. And a firm sued for making copies of 240 financial news articles for internal use was ordered to pay $19.7 million, or $82,000 per article. It’s hard to see any connection between these massive penalties and any actual harm suffered by the copyright holders. They are far above even the sort of reasonable “punitive damages” multiplier that sometimes gets applied in personal injury cases.

High and unpredictable penalties can make relying on fair use a game of financial Russian roulette for artists and innovators. Although many fair uses are clear and obvious, brave artists and innovators often use copyrighted works in ways that no court has ever considered – and that means a risk of lawsuits. When a loss could mean bankruptcy, many won’t take the risk, even if a court might ultimately confirm their fair use. Copyright’s penalty regime is a major reason why filmmakers must spend months, and thousands of dollars, obtaining licenses for trivial or incidental video and music clips that appear in their films – even when those appearances are likely to be fair use.

Congress could help fix these problems by clarifying that statutory damages should never apply to a copyright user who relies on a fair use defense in good faith, even if the defense is unsuccessful. That would make relying on fair use a predictable, manageable risk that more artists and innovators will be able to take.

Another way that Congress could strengthen fair use is to fix Section 1201, the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 prohibits breaking or bypassing DRM and other digital locks that control access to creative works, including the software in many personal devices. This law is a major roadblock for fair use because it can make breaking or bypassing DRM illegal even when we need to break DRM to make fair use of the locked-up material. Essentially, DRM and Section 1201 can take away fair use for artists, innovators, and consumers.

The Copyright Office can grant three-year exemptions to Section 1201. EFF is asking for new exemptions for amateur video, mobile device and car owners, and video game enthusiasts. But exemptions don’t completely fix the harms to fair use. They are difficult to get, are often written narrowly, and they don’t protect people who make tools that enable fair use by others. Any fix for copyright law should include making it legal to bypass digital locks to make fair uses of creative work.

There are also aspects of today’s copyright law that Congress shouldn’t change. One of the most important features of fair use is its adaptability to new technologies and uses that no legislature or expert could foresee. Because this adaptability is so important, Congress should reject calls to replace fair use with specific categories of exceptions to copyright for education, commentary, and the like (a “fair dealing” approach like that used in some other countries). Without a flexible fair use doctrine that lets courts apply copyright’s principles to new situations, artists and innovators would need to ask Congress for permission before they create.

Congress should also reject the disastrous notion of requiring Internet intermediaries like ISPs and websites to filter user-posted content for allegedly infringing material. As we’ve seen over and over again with voluntary filters, filtering software is terrible at recognizing fair uses—and it always will be. Proposals to replace the DMCA’s safe harbors for Internet intermediaries with a regime that requires proactive blocking or filtering based on infringement accusations will inevitably catch many more fair use “dolphins” in the infringement “tuna driftnet.”

Will there be comprehensive copyright reform this year? The answer’s not clear. Major changes take time, and that’s often a good thing. What’s for sure is that any changes must help, and not hurt, fair use.


Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCAFixing Copyright? The 2013-2014 Copyright Review Process
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Nazi Kiev Official Greeted in Ottawa and Washington - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 05:27
Nazi Kiev Official Greeted in Ottawa and Washington
by Stephen Lendman
Kiev's national security and defense council secretary Andriy Parubiy was feted on visits to Ottawa and Washington.
He came seeking more heavy weapons and funding than already provided. He orchestrated February 2014 Maidan killings.
As security chief, he controlled access to weapons used. He took full advantage. He positioned snipers with automatic weapons in Kiev's Philharmonic Hall.
They murdered around 100 protesters and police. President Viktor Yanukovych was wrongfully blamed. His ouster followed.
Things were scripted in Washington. The rest, as they say, is history. Plans are to Nazify Ukraine nationwide.
Eliminate Donbass democracy. Use Ukraine as a dagger against Russia's heartland. Perhaps a prelude to WW III.
Parubiy belongs in prison, not high office. He's responsible for mass murder and coup following violence he and others staged.
On February 23, Canada's Globe and Mail covered his Ottawa visit. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper marches in lockstep with imperial US policy.
Parubiy said Canada has an "authoritative voice" on what's ongoing in Donbass. He asked for help to get Washington to supply more heavy weapons and funding than already.
He wants Canada and other Western countries helping the same way. 
So Kiev can prepare for renewed aggression against its anti-fascist Southeastern citizens wanting fundamental democratic freedoms everyone deserves.
So-called "defensive" ones are for offense. Including virtually anything short of nuclear bombs. Maybe they come later.
According to the Globe and Mail, Parubiy met with "Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson and James Bezan, the parliamentary secretary to the defence minister…"
Other scheduled meetings followed with House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer an various MPs.
"Canada has been a kind of a leader in the world vis-a-vis Ukraine," said Paubiy (in translation). 
"Words and actions are the same in Canada, so it's kind of an example for the rest of the world with their Ukraine policy."
Parubiy discussed Canadian and US support for the next phase of Kiev's planned aggression.
He called its dirty war without mercy "a global challenge, a global fight, not just a Russia-Ukraine fight."
He sounded like a sawdust Caesar saying "we are fighting not only for Ukraine but for Euro-Atlantic and European values."
All despots call their aggressive wars liberating ones. They drown out hard truths with Big Lies.
Kiev's putschist regime has no legitimacy whatever. Washington installed it to serve its imperial interests.
On the one hand, it has a tiger by the tail. Nazi lunatics are unpredictable. They're prone to anything. 
On the other, Ukraine is a political, economic and military black hole disaster.
Providing more funding and heavy weapons likely assures a deeper hole.
Following discussions, Canada's Nicholson said Canada supports Minsk. "Any attempt to reduce or take away Ukraine’s sovereignty in that way is completely opposed by Canada," he added.
He withheld comment on whether Ottawa would supply Kiev with weapons.
On February 25, Parubiy arrived in Washington. America's global propaganda service Voice of America interviewed him.
Ukraine's Unian (dis)information agency said he discussed some of the armaments he wants Washington to supply - including anti-tank systems and other heavy weapons.
"The list of required equipment has already been submitted to US President Barack Obama, but it is also planned to present it to other officials who 'are directly involved in the decision making process,' " said Unian.
He's scheduled to meet with Speaker John Boehner, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, and Pentagon officials.
No comment on whether he and Obama will meet. Maybe quietly with little or nothing said.
Kiev and Washington are partners in high crimes. Renewed aggression on Donbass is planned at Obama's discretion. 
Parubiy is a convenient stooge. He came to get marching orders. They exclude peace, stability and good will.
Rogue states make their own rules. Oppose them and face possible imprisonment or death.
Ukrainian Law Professor Olga Zagulskaya criticized Kiev's war on Donbass. Persecution followed.
She now suffers from hypertension. Kiev's "psychological torture had its intended effect," she said.
She was warned her students prepared to boycott her. They were "set upon (her) by the 'intelligentsia' of Miroslav Popovich, Yuriy Vinnichuk ,and Otar Dovzhenko." 
"At least three SBU men were circling around (her), which means it’s not a purely student event."
Journalists targeted her. Articles said "Lvov National University professor openly supports terrorists."
She faced possible criminal charges.To avoid legal proceedings, she resigned three years before retirement.
"At one point (she) felt so dizzy (she) could no longer stand." She sought medical care. She's "in treatment, possibly for a long time."
"All because" she opposes Kiev's war on Donbass. "(A)s Taras Shevchenko once said," she explained: 'I incur punishment, I suffer, but I do not repent!' "
Obama's Ukrainian friends are cutthroat killer Nazi thugs. Zagulskaya is lucky to be alive. 
She could have been imprisoned or marked for death. Hooligans running Ukraine operate this way.
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.

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

EFF to Testify Thursday at Congressional Hearing on Patent Trolls - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 05:03
Lawmakers Must Reform Flawed System that Enables Demand Letter Abuse

Washington, D.C. - Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri will testify Thursday at a congressional hearing on patent demand letters. Lawmakers will consider what they should do to reform the flawed patent system, which currently allows unscrupulous patent assertion entities, or trolls, to use unfair and deceptive demand letters to extort undeserved settlements from legitimate businesses.

Armed with vague and overbroad patents that never should have issued, patent trolls pressure small businesses to pay unjustifiable licensing fees. Businesses receiving these demand letters often lack the resources to fight back or to coordinate with others faced with similar demands. In her testimony Thursday, Ranieri will urge Congress to enact measures to protect small businesses from abusive and deceptive demand letters, including enacting disclosure requirements that would help both lawmakers and the public to understand the damage patent trolls do to America's economy.

Thursday's testimony is part of EFF's long-running activism against bad patents and abuse of the patent system. Earlier this week, EFF released its “Defend Innovation” whitepaper, explaining two-and-a-half years' worth of research on the challenges facing innovators under the current patent regime, along with concrete suggestions of measures policymakers should take in the coming year.

The patent demand letter hearing is scheduled to be webcast at

WHAT: Congressional hearing: "Update: Patent Demand Letter Practices and Solutions" House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade

EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri

Thursday, February 26
10:15 am ET

2322 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC

For more on the hearing:

For the Defend Innovation whitepaper:


Vera Ranieri
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke
   Media Relations Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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The White House Doesn't Want You to Know the TPP's Looming Effects on U.S. Copyright Laws - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 03:33

As the White House doubles down on its attempt to pass legislation to fast track secret trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, their oft-repeated refrain about these deals' digital copyright enforcement provisions is that these policies would not alter U.S. law. In a 2013 interview, US Trade Representative said this about the TPP's copyright provisions:

what we have in there are things that are already in U.S. law about making sure, whether it is copyright or other protections, are fully enforced around the world.

But such claims are very misleading. Leaked texts have confirmed again and again that the TPP contains Hollywood's wish list of anti-user policies—the result of years of lobbying and schmoozing with trade delegates. What they want is the most restrictive interpretation of U.S. policy to become the international "norm" by which all other TPP countries will be forced to conform their national laws. This does not mean that the TPP exactly mirrors the language of U.S. copyright rules, namely, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It's that the policies are abstracted enough so that U.S. law could still be compliant with them, while the other nations could be pressured to enact harsher restrictions.

What the White House never seems to mention is how U.S. lawmakers are in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of its own innovation policies. Congress, led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, has held hearings on various aspects of U.S. copyright rules for close to two years. This followed a speech by the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, who recommended various reforms to U.S. copyright rules, including shortening the term of copyright by twenty years (unless the copyright is renewed). President Obama, meanwhile, is still proposing provisions in the TPP that would lock us into existing, broken rules.

Let's check out some of the provisions from the latest leaked version of the TPP's Intellectual Property chapter, and identify some of the language that could be expanded to become more restrictive, or simply lock us into rules that are in serious need of reform.

Excessive Copyright Terms

TPP will require all signatory nations to adopt at least the United States' current copyright term, which is the life of the author plus 70 years—the term created by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998. As we mentioned above, U.S. officials are already calling to shorten the automatic term of protection to the length outlined in the Berne Convention, passed in 1886, which set it at a minimum of the life of the author plus 50 years. So the TPP's requirements go beyond the Berne Convention’s requirement. If adopted in the final agreement—which seems very likely—countries will be forced to mirror the United States' excessive lengths that resulted from heavy lobbying from Hollywood (particularly Disney). And Congress could be dissuaded from reducing copyright terms. It is wrong for the White House to push for these terms when we may have the chance to shorten them, especially in light of growing evidence that such long terms harm people's ability to access to knowledge and culture.

Criminalizing DRM Circumvention

The TPP almost completely mirrors US law criminalizing acts of getting around DRM (aka technological protection measures, which is what it's called in international legal instruments). As we know from years of experiencing the adverse effects of DRM anti-circumvention rules, our system needs drastic reform here in the United States for a raft of reasons—including allowing users full access to content they have paid for, allowing archival of our digital heritage, and ensuring that users can repair their devices and keep them secure. It would be a huge mistake to lock us into policies that harm free speech, innovation, privacy, and access to knowledge.

Internet Service Providers (ISP) Liability

This portion of the agreement is still controversial (at least it was in May 2014 when the last leaked draft was written) so it's hard to say what the final provisions will look like. U.S. safe harbor rules, which limit the liability that intermediaries like ISPs and websites shoulder for their users, have been crucial to enabling new platforms and services to thrive in the United States. However, the safe harbor rules have not been without problems. Our Takedown Hall of Shame documents just a few examples of Internet services that have been forced to take down, block, or filter important and legal content, because they fear the consequences of not going far enough to respond to infringement accusations. This is another area where we ought to learn from the deficiencies of the U.S. system to inform us and pass better rules, and yet again, the White House is seeking to lock us into a flawed system.

Criminal Penalties for File Sharing

Like U.S. law, the TPP has a dangerously low threshold for criminal copyright infringement where even non-commercial acts can be criminally prosecuted. But the TPP's criminal penalty provisions diverges from U.S. law in several ways. The TPP calls for a vague requirement that prison sentences and monetary fines must be "sufficiently high" to deter people from infringing again. That provision could lead to pressure to increase already high penalties. Also, U.S. law has a more specific definition of property that can be subject to seizure, while the TPP would enable authorities to seize a broader category of "materials and implements" related to the alleged infringing activity.

Fair Use: The TPP does not contain rules like the United States' flexible fair use regime. Although the agreement now suggests a "three-step test" for copyright exceptions and limitations, that test might limit the scope of copyright exceptions The language in the TPP could even be used to constrain fair use, or discourage new specific exceptions and limitations passed legislatively or through court precedents.

Criminalization of Investigative Journalism and Whistleblowing

The most recent leak of the TPP's Intellectual Property chapter revealed some of the most atrocious, human-rights-violating provisions we had seen yet. If it remains as written, these trade secret rules could be used to enact new laws to crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists. In many ways this echoes provisions in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which was used to charge Aaron Swartz with heavy-handed criminal penalties for accessing and downloading articles from the research database, JSTOR. EFF is already working to reform the CFAA, and yet the TPP contains trade secret provisions that could be used to expand state efforts to crack down on journalists using the Internet to expose corporate wrongdoing.

All of these examples illustrate that when the White House claims that the TPP's rules would not change US law, they are being disingenuous at best. Even where its provisions do not explicitly require U.S. lawmakers to pass new law, TPP is a scheme to make more restrictive rules the international standard. Lobbyists for entertainment companies use the secretive trade negotiation process to enact their vision of more draconian, anti-innovation copyright law, and then use those trade agreements to move domestic law and policy in the wring direction. This kind of shady, undemocratic international policy laundering scheme has been going on for over two decades. This is why we need to stop TPP and put an end to this copyright creep.


If you're in the US, take action to stop TPP and other anti-user trade deals from getting fast-tracked through Congress by contacting your lawmaker about trade promotion authority:

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrade AgreementsTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Kiev's Dr. Strangelove - Thu, 26/02/2015 - 03:10
Ukraine's Dr. Strangelove
by Stephen Lendman
Film buffs may recall Stanley Kubrick's 1964 dark satire titled "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
It depicted deranged general Jack D. Ripper's obsession to wage nuclear war - despite no Pentagon authorization. Obama may be lunatic enough to launch one. 
The film ends ominously - with nuclear detonations accompanied by popular British singer Vera Lynn's famous WW II "We'll Meet Again" recording.
A previous article discussed Ukraine's deputy foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko briefly. He sounds like Jack D. Ripper.
Interviewed by Canada's CBC Radio The House program, he said "(w)e have to stop (Putin)."
"For the sake of the Russian nation…Ukrainians and Europe. (W)e are preparing for full-scale war."
More on what he said below. He's Ukraine's deputy foreign minister. A former ambassador to Canada.
His father, Volodymyr, was Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) General Lieutenant of Justice and Vice Director.
His professional career began in private business. He co-founded Electronni Visti - one of Ukraine's first ISPs and electronic media outlets.
In 1994, he began working for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. In 1997, he was part of its economics section responsible for developing Asian trade.
In 2000, he was appointed consul to Sidney, Australia. In 2002, he worked for then President Leonid Kuchma's Foreign Policy Directorate.
In 2004, he was appointed Ukraine's Canadian embassy political counselor. Then acting charge d'affairs in 2006.
In 2007, he served as Foreign Affairs Ministry Deputy Director for NATO. In 2009, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at Ukraine's Washington embassy.
In November 2012, President Viktor Yanukovych appointed him ambassador to Canada.
Last December, Kiev junta officials named him deputy foreign minister. Despite clear evidence reported by OSCE monitors and independent journalists, he irresponsibly accuses rebels of ceasefire violations.
He blames Russia for junta crimes. Ceasefire isn't holding, he claims. "The biggest hub we ever had in the railroad is completely destroyed and devastated."
He ignored his own regime's responsibility. He lied saying "(w)e see (rebels) are not stopping."
"It doesn't take a genius to see what they are trying to do…They are taking more and more strategic points."
False! Video footage and on the ground monitoring show rebels withdrawing heavy weapons and observing ceasefire terms.
Junta forces so far refuse to abide by what they agreed to. "It doesn't take a genius to see" Kiev wants war, not peace.
Putin and Sergey Lavrov more than anyone else have gone all-out to resolve Ukraine's conflict diplomatically. Not according to Prystaiko.
He was in Minsk during negotiations. "Personally I don't trust" Putin, he said. Absurdly he added "(y)ou look at him and you think: Are you serious?"
"Nobody knows what is going on in his head. I believe he is becoming very emotional" over historical Russian/Ukrainian ties…He's difficult to predict."
He's justifiably concerned about not wanting US bases on Russia's borders. Nor would any leader permit foreign combat troops threatening their country's national security.
"The stakes are very high," said Prystaiko. "We don't want to scare everybody, but we are preparing for full-scale war."
Get over your fears, he says. "What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little." 
"Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore in Ukraine. We've lost so many people... We've lost so much of our territory."
"However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop (Putin) somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe."
Prystaiko want Canada supplying Ukraine with "lethal weapons…to allow us to defend ourselves," he claimed.
Despite Kiev having no enemies except ones it creates. Conspires with Washington to wage naked aggression on its own people.
Murdered tens of thousands. Maimed countless thousands more. Caused vast destruction and human misery.
Created the worst European refugee and humanitarian crisis since WW II. Established a fascist dictatorship in Europe's heartland. 
Threatens war with Russia. Prystaiko represents Kiev's lunatic fringe. He's for possible nuclear war.
Ukrainian officials seek heavy weapons and financing for war while their economy teeters toward collapse.
People are dying in Ukraine for lack of healthcare. A World Health Organization (WHO) report said about 40 mental health institution patients died from hunger, cold and lack of care.
Dozens of frontline villages have no medical personnel at all. Throughout Ukraine, "(u)niversal healthcare exists only on paper, said WHO Ukrainian representative Dorit Nitzan.
Kiev policy is pay or die. "People have to pay for (most) health services, procure their own medicines, and there are no set prices for these essentials."
In war-torn areas, surgeons are nowhere to be found. They're gone, said Fair Aid.
Many other essentials to life are in limited supply or nonexistent. Imagine how much worse things will get if war resumes and continues for years.
If it ends the way NATO raped Yugoslavia. If potentially humanity destroying nuclear war erupts.
Ukraine's crisis began in the mid-1980s, according to former NATO intelligence analyst retired Lt. Commander Martin Packard.
"The real ending of the Cold War was in 1986, when the USSR's leadership resolved on a five-year program to move to a parliamentary democracy and market economy," he said. 
"The intention in Moscow was to use that period to achieve a progressive convergence with the EU."
Packard commented on Richard Sakwa's new book titled "Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands."
He said Gorbachev saw the Cold War ending. He wanted a shared victory to build a "common European home."
Washington had other ideas - notions of total victory and Soviet Russia's demise. It planned taking full advantage by expanding east.
It accepts only one superpower. Controlling NATO let it encroach on Russia's borders - despite GWW Bush and Secretary of State James Baker promising "no extension of NATO"s jurisdiction one inch to the east."
Washington co-oped one former Soviet Republic and Warsaw Pact country after another into NATO. It uses them as Russian adversaries. According to Packard:
"The chaos that we now have, and the distrust of America which motivates Russian policy, stems primarily from decisions taken in Washington 30 years ago."
Today's danger is possible humanity destroying nuclear war. The scourge of mass annihilation is real.
America's imperial project threatens everyone. Either we find a way to end its Machiavellian madness or it'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.

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

Kiev Junta Plans Renewed Aggression - Wed, 25/02/2015 - 22:17
Kiev Junta Plans Renewed Aggression
by Stephen Lendman
Minsk II resolved nothing. Russia bashing remains intense. Brussels imposed new sanctions. Obama intends more US ones.
Moscow and rebels are blamed for Kiev ceasefire violations. Britain intends getting more involved.
Prime Minister David Cameron is more appendage of US foreign policy than independent UK leader. RT International blasted his war-mongering featuring one Big Lie after another. 
He sounds like Obama with an English accent. He's "deploying (dozens of) British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, from tactical intelligence to logistics to medical care," he said.
"We will also be developing an infantry training programme with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces." 
"This will involve a number of British service personnel. They will be away from the area of conflict but I think this is the sort of thing we should be helping with."
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon lied saying Britain's deployment is "(i)n light of continued Russian-backed aggression…"
It's part of Obama's preparation for more war. Peace is anathema to Washington. Big Lies blaming rebels for Kiev ceasefire violations are used as a pretext for supplying junta forces with more heavy weapons.
Washington provides plenty covertly. Expect lots more ahead. UAE agreeing to sell weapons violates Minsk.
Purchased from US producers. Providing plausible deniability for Washington. 
Letting Obama circumvent Minsk through a foreign supplier. Expect others enlisted to sell more.
The Colonel Cassad web site said "junta (officials) will be trying to get weapons from the West as it expects the renewal of military action in the spring…which clearly shows" things headed for more war.
UAE and other foreign suppliers are distribution sources "through which American weapon systems will be shipped."
Things continue escalating dangerously. Ongoing events show Obama wants war, not peace.
It hasn't gone unnoticed in Moscow. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said rearming Ukraine "would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements and would explode the whole situation."
Moscow won't remain indifferent "to such provocative actions, We'll have to act appropriately," he said.
Instead of ending ongoing madness, Washington escalates it dangerously. Willfully sabotaging Minsk and Normandy Four's declaration calling for:
  • strict implementation of Minsk;

  • swift withdrawal of heavy weapons from frontline positions;

  • full cooperation with OSCE monitors;

  • establishment of "working groups" to "achieve progress" toward regional peace and stability;

  • providing Donbass residents with vitally needed humanitarian aid; and

  • continued commitment to resolving crisis conditions diplomatically.

Washington's agenda is polar opposite. It's committed to use junta forces to gain total control over Ukraine. To crush Donbass democracy.
To assure fascist rule nationwide. To use Ukraine as part of its longterm Russian regime change strategy. 
Part of its greater world dominance agenda - furthered by waging one war of aggression after another.
Rearming Ukraine along with rebuilding its military risk exploding Europe in conflict for the first time since WW II. Madness demanding mass action to stop.
On February 11, Senator James Inhofe (R. OK) introduced S. 452: Defense of Ukraine Act of 2015. A bill to provide lethal weapons to junta fascists to wage aggression against Donfass freedom fighters.
A petition circulating online aims to block the measure, saying in part:
"The United States is the leading provider of weapons to the world, and the practice of providing weapons to countries in crisis has proven disastrous, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria." 
"Expanding NATO to Russia's border and arming Russia's neighbors threatens something worse than disaster. The United States is toying with nuclear war."
"…Russia has been denounced for 'aggression' in the form of various unsubstantiated accusations, including the downing of (MH17)."
"…Western interests at work here other than peace and generosity. GMO outfits want the excellent farming soil in Ukraine." 
"The US and NATO want a 'missile defense' base in Ukraine. Oil corporations want to drill for (its) fracked gas…" 
"The US and EU want to get their (dirty) hands on Russia's (oil and world's) "largest supply of natural gas…"
"We routinely recognize the financial corruption of the US government in domestic policy making." 
"We shouldn't blind ourselves to it in matters of foreign policy." Possible nuclear war looms. Nothing is more important than stopping it.
Rumors suggest overt Nazi lunatics may topple Poroshenko and take over.
The Saker translated a Right Sector statement suggesting what's possibly coming, saying:
"A year ago, they came to power in our blood. The blood of patriots." 
"During this year they gave up the interests of Ukraine and betrayed the idea of the Ukrainian nation." 
"They promised to fight corruption. They promised lustration. They made us poor." 
"They destroyed belief in justice. They killed the truth. We remember the never investigated murders of hundreds of Maidan." 
"We remember the murder of Sasha Belyi. We remember the shameful surrender Crimea." 
"We remember Saur-Mogila, Ilovaiisk, the Donetsk airport, Debaltsevo." 
"The perpetrators have not been punished. It's time to hold them to account!"
An accompanying poster states:
"March of the Truth
March of the Right
The Maidan did not fight for a regime of traitors
It is time to hold them to account."
Signed by the Right Sector and Trezub paramilitary Banderists. The Saker calls them "even crazier crazies than the regular crazies."
No telling what's possible if these lunatics gain power. Odds for Europe exploding in conflict become greater. 
Washington and Britain may initiate it on their own. Irresponsible Russophobia rages. 
On February 20, London's Guardian headlined "Russian expansionism may pose existential threat," says NATO general."
UK General/deputy NATO commander Adrian Bradshaw accused Russia of "threat(ening) our whole being." NATO is preparing to counter a nonexistent Russian invasion. 
Lunatics like Bradshaw, NATO chief Philip Breedlove, new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Obama's national security advisors, other White House neocons, and likeminded NATO allies may launch humanity ending WW III.
Never in human history has mass annihilation been more possible. On February 24, events in US satellite/NATO member/Russiaphobe Estonia weren't encouraging.
Independence Day commemoration was used as a pretext to parade heavy weapons around 300 meters from Russia's border - a likely US-instigated provocation.
US military hardware displayed American flags. Estonian officials regurgitate Western Big Lies about nonexistent "Russian aggression" in Ukraine.
Used as a pretext to deploy increasing numbers of US and other NATO forces close menacingly close to Russia's borders.
Things seem headed inexorably toward East/West confrontation. Perhaps a major US instigated false flag will initiate it.
As long as lunatics run the Washington asylum, the worst of all outcomes is 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.

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



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