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Russia Bans GMOs

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 23/11/2014 - 02:00
Russia Bans GMOs
by Stephen Lendman
Genetically engineered foods and ingredients harm human health. Russia banned them. Wants more organic food produced. More on this below.
GMO expert Jeffrey Smith calls GMO foods and ingredients "inherently unsafe. The GM process creates collateral damage in the plant, which can cause (disturbing) side effects."
Independent studies prove it. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reported "animal studies indicat(ing) health risks associated with GM foods."
Including numerous illnesses, infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, gastrointestinal abnormalities, and major organ changes.
AAEM urged physicians to tell patients to avoid GMOs. Unlike clinical drug evaluations, none are conducted for these products.
The only published human feeding experiment showed genetic material in GM soy becomes hazardous intestinal bacteria.
Continuing to function long after these products are eaten. Potentially causing super-diseases. Resistant to antibiotics.
Able to turn intestinal bacteria into pesticide factories. Recent independent studies show GM corn damages livers and kidneys.
Animals raised on GM feed are inherently different from safely fed ones. Rats ingestind GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and abnormal white cell changes.
Making them more vulnerable to infections and diseases than other rats fed non-GMO potatoes.
Thymus and spleen damage showed up. Enlarged tissues. Including the pancreas and intestines.
Liver atrophy. Significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells. A sign of greater future risk of cancer.
Roundup pesticide used for GM crops causes birth defects. GM soy causes sterility.
Americans don't know what they're eating. Labeling is prohibited. Violating First Amendment rights.
Monsanto, Dow, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association has teamed up with Koch brothers-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo (R. KS).
Planning legislation denying Americans the right to know what they're eating. Smith calls it the "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know Act (DARK Act)."
Provisions will prevent states from labeling GM foods and ingredients.Prohibit them from calling natural labeling illegal for GMOs. Prevent the FDA from requiring food companies to label them.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) calls GM plants and animals "one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st century."
Over 90% of US soybeans are genetically engineered. Around 85% of corn. About 88% of cotton. Cottonseed oil often used in processed foods.
Over 80% of them contain GM ingredients. From soda pop to soup to salad dressings. Crackers to condiments. Potatoes to "super" pigs. Bananas to baked beans.
Despite known harm to human health, no congressional legislation regulates GM foods and ingredients.
According to CFS:
"The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment."
"Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are purchasing and consuming unlabeled GE foods, despite a finding by US Food & Drug Administration scientists that these foods could pose serious risks."
Americans are human guinea pigs without knowing it. Part of an unregulated mass experiment, Entailing enormous risks.
Once GM seeds are planted, nothing known to science can reverse their contamination. It spread over two-thirds of arable US farmland.
Despite known human health risks. In America, politics trumps science. Unsafe foods and ingredients are declared fit to eat.
Whatever agribusiness wants it gets. Profits alone matter. Human health be damned. Genetic manipulation is fraught with danger.
It works by forcibly inserting a single gene from one species' DNA into another. Unnatural pseudo-science.
Smith explains as follows, saying:
"A pig can mate with a pig and a tomato can mate with a tomato. But this is no way that a pig can mate with a tomato and vice versa."
Doing so transfers genes across natural barriers. Ones separating species over millions of evolutionary years.
Biotech manipulators want us to believe they can do nature one better. Calling genetic engineering an extension or superior alternative to natural breeding.
With no corroborating evidence. Plenty showing genetic manipulation harms human health.
China banned GMO corn. Dozens of countries require labeling. Despite exemptions and inadequate enforcement.
No international standards exist. Industry claims about GMOs being substantially equivalent to natural foods are Big Lies.
EU countries require labeling. Unrelated to safety. For commercial purposes only.
Distinguishing among GM, conventional and organic foods. So consumers can choose or avoid products they wish.
Since 2007, foods sold in Russia required special labeling if contained 0.9% or more of GM ingredients.
Last March, Putin said Russia is obligated to protect its citizens from GMOs. In April, Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev ordered new controls.
Last February, Russian upper house Federation Council members introduced legislation temporarily banning GMOs.
Until studies evaluate the safety of each one by various scientific standards. Or prove them unsafe to eat.
Polls show over 80% of Russians want them banned. Only 9% approve them.
Russia's National Association for Genetic Security (RNAGS) wants them banned.
Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology researcher Irina Ermakova showed six-fold higher mortality rates/lower body weight among young rats whose mothers were fed herbicide resistant GM soybeans.
Her findings raised serious concerns about human health risks from GMOs. "It is necessary to ban (them), to impose moratorium for 10 years," she said.
"While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed."
"It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous."
"Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect. (A)t this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers and obesity among animals."
"Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop (them) from spreading."
Days earlier, Russian media reported Prime Minister Medvedev announcing a complete GM import ban.
"If Americans like to eat GMO products, let them," he said." We don't need to do that. We have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food."
GMOs will be banned for 10 years. So reliable research can evaluate their human health effects.
Russia's decision is important. Along with China banning GM corn. Perhaps other countries will follow.
Foods, ingredients and other human ingested products should be unconditionally banned. False narratives about safety don't wash.
Polls show Monsanto is one of the world's most hated companies for good reason. For slow-poisoning us.
Its former executives run the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). An obvious conflict of interest.
Anti-GMO activists urge buying organic foods. Boycotting Monsanto-owned companies.
Repealing Monsanto Protection Act harmful provisions. Permitting "continued cultivation, commercialization, and other specifically enumerated activities."
Human health be damned. Letting the Secretary of Agriculture ignore public safety. Corporate interests own Obama.
He's their man in Washington. Supporting hazardous GMOs. Other products and services harming human health and welfare.
Congress operating the same way. Letting corporate lawyers and lobbyists write legislation.
Concerned only about bottom line issues. Making the world safe for profiteers. Harming public welfare at the same time.
Monsanto is no stranger to controversy. Spending millions of dollars annually. Buying politicians like toothpaste.
Millions more spent investigating possible farmer patent violations. Targeting anti-GMO state referenda and legislation.
Wanting all plant and animal products genetically modified. Wanting worldwide food control.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) lists 20 countries banning one or more GM product.
North Dakota and Montana introduced legislation prohibiting GM wheat. Several US cities and municipalities want restrictions or bans imposed. Previous efforts failed.
Vermont wants a moratorium on GMOs. Enacted legislation requiring GM food and ingredient labeling by July 2016.
In response, Monsanto sued. Ludicrously claiming burdensome speech requirements and restrictions.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group's consumer protection advocate Falko Schilling said:
The people of Vermont have said loud and clear they have a right to know what is in their food. So putting labels on is a reasonable and prudent thing so people can decide for themselves."
Organic Consumers Association's National Director Ronnie Cummins praised the new law, stating:
"After years of good old-fashioned work, and playing by the rules, the grassroots labeling movement achieved its first real victory this year, when Vermont passed the first no-strings-attached law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)."
He blasted Monsanto's suit. Calling it a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers' rights and health."
The struggle for food safety continues. Hopefully other states, cities and municipalities will follow Vermont's lead.
Ideally banning GMOs altogether. Based on independent research proving them unsafe to eat.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Biden in Ukraine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 19:56
Biden in Ukraine
by Stephen Lendman
On Friday, puppet masters Vice President Joe Biden and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland arrived in Ukraine.
Visiting America's newest colony. Delivering marching orders. Discussing Big Lies about Russia encroaching on Ukrainian territory.
Sending troops cross border. Supplying Donbas self-defense forces with weapons and munitions.
Discussing plans for escalated conflict. All-out war. Assuring US political and military support. 
Regardless of Geneva and Minsk agreements. Outrageously blaming conflict conditions on Russia and Donbas fighters.
Oligarch president Petro Poroshenko earlier vowed to crush them. Mobilizing Ukrainian forces aggressively. 
Intending full-scale war. Perhaps greater than ever mass slaughter and destruction. Wanting hardline rule replacing Donbas democracy. 
Fascist viciousness writ large. Planning eventual NATO membership. What Russia absolutely won't tolerate.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov weeks earlier warning against attempts to end Ukraine's non-aligned status. 
Saying it'll "derail all efforts at initiating dialogue with the aim of ensuring national security," he said.
Washington made Russia a strategic adversary. Fast-tracking toward direct confrontation. Ongoing events uncomfortably similar to those preceding WW I. History has a way of repeating.
On November 19, Lavrov addressed Russia's lower house State Duma. Saying things are changing.
"(I)nternational relations are going through a transition as a new multipolar international order continues to emerge for objective reasons." 
"A fundamentally different picture of the world is taking shape right before our eyes." Not easily or quickly.
"The end of one era and the start of the next is never a straightforward process, and it's usually marked by series of intense local conflicts, if not global clashes." 
"We face challenges of truly historic proportions whose complexity cannot be underestimated." 
"At the same time, clearly, Russia has every opportunity to consolidate its position as one of the centres of the new multipolar system, have a positive influence on the international situation, strengthen security and stability, and create favourable external conditions for the internal development of our country and sustainable economic growth - all to improve the quality of life of our citizens." 
"Russia's traditionally independent policy is in synch with the times, and is becoming increasingly popular in the world and attracting a wide range of partners in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe."
"The Ukraine crisis was the result of the policy pursued by Western countries over the course of the last 25 years, whereby they sought to strengthen their own security at the expense of others and to expand the geopolitical space under their control." 
"This revealed itself in successive waves of NATO enlargement despite assurances to the contrary given at the highest levels and in violation of solemn declarations to create a system of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic zone."
"With the support of the United States and several European countries, an unconstitutional armed coup was staged in Ukraine." 
"Nationalist radicals brought the country to the brink of a schism and pushed it into civil war. The chances of de-escalating the conflict have been repeatedly torpedoed by the West."
Washington bears full responsibility. Rogue EU partners share it. Fascist Kiev governance threatens regional peace and stability.
Russia won't look on passively as events of great importance occur on its border. Western countries should stop supporting Kiev's "war party," Lavrov said.
"(T)urning a blind eye to (its) flagrant human rights violations, lawlessness and war crimes."
Blaming Russia won't work, Lavrov stressed. Hard truths have a way of exposing Big Lies. 
Sanctions "undermine efforts to stabilise the global economy and don't bring us any closer to resolving the Ukraine crisis."
Russia prioritizes peaceful conflict resolution. Grounded in international law. Excluding Western-style double standards and hidden agendas. 
Urging other nations to operate the same way. World peace depends on it. Threatened because of Ukrainian flashpoint conditions.
Incendiary by any standard. The gravest geopolitical crisis since WW II. Fueled by Washington's rage for war.
Madness in Europe's heartland. Heightened by provocative NATO exercises. Preparing for possible war with Russia. Waged for unchallenged dominance.
Irresponsibly accusing Moscow of violating NATO airspace. Provocative drills. Big Lies. Hard truths expose them.
Numerous false reports claimed Russia invaded Ukraine. With troops and heavy weapons.
On Friday, NATO officials admitted no credible evidence proves it. According to Russia's NATO envoy Alexander Grushko:
"As far as I remember, even NATO officials themselves admit they have no credible materials confirming that Russian weaponry and military vehicles cross the border and that Russian troops are being amassed along the border with Ukraine."
It bears repeating. Claims otherwise are Big Lies. NATO turned Baltic states "into an area of some kind of military confrontation with Russia, and this is a dead-end track," said Grushko.
Russia remains concerned about NATO's eastward expansion. Encroaching on its borders. Planning Ukrainian Alliance membership. Despite claims otherwise.
"It should be clear to NATO that the deployment of a significant military force along our borders, constant drills and exercises, will undoubtedly push us into taking certain precautions," Grushko said.
Madness defines US-led NATO policy. Risking the unthinkable. James Petras explains what's going on as an " 'all-or-nothing campaign…' "
"(T)o seize all of Ukraine or, failing that, destroy the restive southeast, obliterate its population and productive capacity and engage in an all-out economic (and possibly shooting) war with Russia."
Lunacy writ large. Threatening humanity. At the same time, Russia continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution.
No nation works harder at it. Putin and Lavrov true peace champions. Polar opposite Obama. Neocons influencing him. 
Fascists in Kiev. Chairman of the State Duma Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States, Leonid Slutsky, calling its Verkhovana Rada governing coalition "a marionette parliament."
"(D)eclaring (an intention to join) NATO." Prospects ahead look grim. War winds head toward gale force. 
Decades after WW II's end, another potential global conflict looms. With weapons making earlier ones look like toys.
On November 22, US-controlled Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headlined "New Ukraine Coalition Agreed, Sets NATO as Priority."
Its "major goal." Pro-Western/anti-Russian coalition member parties include the Poroshenko bloc, Popular Front, Samoponich (Self-Rule), Radical Party and Batkivshchyna (Fatherland).
Their agenda includes returning Crimea to Ukraine. Poroshenko saying "Crimea is and will be Ukrainian."
Last March, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. An astonishing 96.77%. With an 82% turnout. 
Moscow accommodated their wishes. In compliance with international law. Self-determination is a universal right. 
"(B)ased on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples," according to the UN Charter, Article 1.
A fundamental human right. "Everyone…entitled to all Universal Declaration of Human Rights " 'freedoms…' "
"(W)ithout distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." 
"(O)n the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."
At the time, Obama ludicrously called Crimean self-determination a "threat to US national security."
For sure the threat of a good example. Running counter to Washington's imperial ambitions.
Other Kiev goals include joining NATO. Protecting Ukrainians living in "occupied territories."
EU membership. Permanent bases in Donbas. Investigating February 2014 Maidan (Independence Square) killings. 
Whitewashing putschists direct responsibility. The way coverup suppressed their involvement in Odessa's May 2014 massacre.
Doubled military spending. Despite Ukraine's bankrupt economy. A basket case and then some. Zombie-like. 
Parts of its economy in free fall. Under severe Depression conditions. Headed for collapse without greater financial aid than already received. 
Punishing Ukrainians with force-fed austerity. When government aid desperately needed.
At the same time, US-led bullying Russia continues. Threatening new sanctions. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke saying:
"We have a broad understanding and a similar point of view with our European partners with respect to the steps Russia needs to take and the ways in which the costs to Russia should increase if they fail to abide by the agreements."
Russia alone continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution. Washington sabotages its best efforts.
Kiev's dirty war without mercy continues. Heading for greater conflict than earlier. Naked aggression. Putting many thousands of lives at risk.
Potentially spreading cross-border. Pitting Washington and rogue EU states against Russia. Making the unthinkable possible.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF Joins the Call for a NIST We Can Trust

eff.org - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 09:03

It’s looking like we might be on the brink of another crypto war. The first one, in the 90s, was a misguided attempt to limit the public’s access to strong, secure cryptography. And since then, the reasons we need the good security provided by strong crypto have only multiplied. That’s why EFF has joined 20 civil society organizations and companies in sending a letter to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to “re-emphasize the importance of creating a process for establishing secure and resilient encryption standards, free from back doors or other known vulnerabilities.”

As the letter points out, in September 2013, ProPublica, the Guardian, and the New York Times revealed that the NSA had systematically “circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling” that protects the Internet, “collaborating with technology companies in the United States and abroad to build entry points into their products.” As ProPublica explained,

[T]he agency used its influence as the world’s most experienced code maker to covertly introduce weaknesses into the encryption standards followed by hardware and software developers around the world.

And these broken standards appear to have led to a serious impact on U.S. technology companies, which "may lose as much as $35 billion in the next three years from foreign customers choosing not to buy their products over concern they cooperate with spy programs.”

Although NIST has taken some steps to remedy these problems, more is needed “to rectify NIST’s trust deficit.” The letter lists specific recommendations to improve transparency, strengthen NIST’s cryptography work, and increase public understanding and engagement. For example:

NIST should establish a policy wherein the Agency publicly explains the extent and nature of the NSA’s consultation on future standards and any modifications thereto made at NSA’s request.and NIST should begin a review process to ensure that wherever possible the same information is published for standards that are currently in use.

The coalition’s recommendations were “heavily echoed in the reports submitted by the members of NIST’s appointed Committee of Visitors (CoV). The CoV is a distinguished panel of experts appointed by NIST. . .” The CoV also made recommendations to NIST, several of which are emphasized in the letter:

NIST must expand to include independent full-time technical expertise and additional funding in order to decrease reliance on the NSA and other members of the Intelligence Community.

We hope that NIST will take the recommendations seriously. U.S. businesses are suffering, and the NSA’s actions have made the Internet less safe for everyone. Serious action is needed to restore trust in NIST— and to protect the public good. 

You can read the full text of the letter and see the signatories here

Files:  coalition-nist-nov2014.pdfRelated Issues: Export ControlsPrivacyEncrypting the WebNSA Spying
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Categories: Aggregated News

Obama's Sham Immigration Reform

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 06:10
Obama's Sham Immigration Reform
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout his tenure, Obama waged war on immigrants. Mocking notions of welcoming tired, poor, wretched masses yearning to breathe free.
Immigration rights activists call him the "Deporter-in-Chief" for good reason. Enforcing white supremacist policies. 
Poor, desperate arrivals aren't welcome. People of color scorned. America never was beautiful. For sure not now.
Obama reflects the worst of rogue leadership. So-called immigration reform is more pretense than real.
He's responsible for deporting more immigrants than all his predecessors combined. 
On average over 1,000 a day. In total, over 2.2 million. With two years left in office, likely hundreds of thousands more before departing.
His legacy will be hard to top. Wanting tough congressional legislation enacted.
According to National Day Laborer Organizing Network executive director Pablo Alvarado:
"Unless (he) alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigration administration in history."
Rule by presidential executive order diktats alone raises questions. No constitutional authority specifically permits them. 
Other than stating "executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America (Article 2, Section 1)."
Abused by bypassing Congress. "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 1.)."
Constitutional checks and balances prevent empowering one governmental branch over another.
Diktat power borders on tyranny. Even though executive orders are legal. Not permanent. Future presidents can annul them with a stroke of a pen. Not how democracy is supposed to work.
In 2012, Obama exempted about one million undocumented immigrants arriving in America as children. So-called "DREAMers."
Using prosecutorial discretion. Letting presidents decline them on a case-by-case basis. Abusing his power at times.
Latinos are longstanding prime targets. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm (ICE) scapegoats them for political advantage.
Dehumanizing them. Gestapo-like warrantless raids target them. Neighborhoods, workplaces, and other locations are raided.
Targeted with shotguns and automatic weapons. Done without just cause. Extrajudicially. Terrorizing families. 
Immigrants pulled from their beds. Rousted from workplaces.Confronted at gunpoint. Without explanation. 
Mistakes are made. Wrong homes or workplaces are targeted. Unapologetically. ICE agents permitted to terrorize. Freely. Unaccountably.
Brutalizing immigrants. Rounding them up. Holding them in dehumanizing detention.
Separated from family members. Criminalized. Treated like terrorist threats. Summarily deported. Given no right of appeal.
Independent studies show ICE agents operate with no legal authority. Arresting people randomly.
Conducting lawless searches and seizures. Making arrests based on ethnicity, race, appearance and English proficiency.
Neighborhoods targeted pre-dawn. Local police cooperate. Homes broken into lawlessly. Innocent victims harmed. 
Family members terrorized. Imagine spouses and young children seeing a parent taken away in handcuffs. Unable to understand why.
Misconduct is rife. Rule of law principles don't matter. Or democratic values. Or doing the right thing. 
Raids occur nationwide. Virtually daily. Unannounced. Using excessive force. Constitutional protections don't matter. 
Police state lawlessness substitutes. Most immigrants transferred from local jails to ICE have no criminal records. Or traffic violations.
Obama bears full responsibility. Blaming Congress for his own duplicitous policy. Immigration reform activists want real change. Not sham pretense.
Not with Obama in Washington. Promising one thing. Doing  another. An earlier open letter said the following in part:
Congratulations, Mr. President. You're the latest in a long line of lawless leaders. Achieving rogue status without really trying.
Contempt for rule of law principles, duplicity and moral cowardice define your administration. Pretense otherwise doesn't wash.
Instead of improving lives of ordinary Americans, you made things worse than ever.
Made America a gangster state. A pariah one and then some.  Presiding over a homeland police state apparatus.
Stealing public wealth. Handing it to Wall Street crooks and other corporate favorites. War profiteers gorge at the public trough.
Growing millions impoverished in the world's richest country.  Its wealth disparity unprecedented. 
Tens of millions of working age Americans unemployed. Most others underemployed. One missed paycheck away from homelessness, hunger and despair.
Essential needs ignored. Homelessness, hunger and human misery don't matter.
Middle class society systematically destroyed. America on a fast track toward thirdworldization.
Heading toward full-blown tyranny. Promised hope and change is pure rubbish. Peace a convenient illusion. Direct and proxy wars rage in multiple theaters.
Promised US forces out of Afghanistan within 12 months in office a willful ruse.
Pledged Palestinian sovereignty free from occupation harshness a Big Lie. Decades without fundamental civil and human rights persist. Worse than ever currently.
Guantanamo closure once and for all. Within one year of taking office.
Promised accountability for Bush administration war criminals. Torture ending by decree. 
Indefinite detentions no longer tolerated. Lawless military commission trials prohibited.
Labor rights supported. Public education better than ever. And you can keep your doctor, Obama said. 
Guaranteed universal healthcare with a public option. More affordable than before, he claimed. 
No more rule by diktat. Promised help for Americans facing home foreclosures.
Patriot Act provisions revisited. "(U)nconstitutional executive decisions during the past eight years…overturn(ed)."
All Americans served equitably, justly, fairly and honorably.
"It's time to turn a page," Obama said. "We'll restore our values." The "days of compromising them are over." 
We'll "secure a more resilient homeland." We'll "adhere to the Geneva Conventions." 
Freedom is too precious to lose. Obama goes all-out to destroy it. At home and abroad.
Promised administration openness and transparency. Increased whistleblower protections to encourage exposing government wrongdoing.
Big Brother banished. "(N)o more illegal wiretapping of American citizens," Obama pledged.
No more "spy(ing) on citizens who are not suspected of a crime." No more privacy invasions.
No more human and civil rights violations. "No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient."
No more extrajudicial operations. Or favoring monied interests over popular ones. No more wars for power and profit.
Or treating anyone less than equitably and justly than others. No more defending the indefensible.
Obama's policies belie his rhetoric. Making America more unfit to live in than ever in modern times. Risking the unthinkable.
Possible global war. Against invented enemies. Independent governments. For unchallenged dominance. 
Destroying humanity one plundered nation at a time. Genocide against unwanted people. "Useless eaters," according to Henry Kissinger.
Turning America into a militarized armed camp. Destroying fundamental freedoms one police state law at a time.
Diktat power. Deciding who'll live or die. Be free or locked indefinitely in America's gulag. At home or abroad.
Undocumented immigrants in virtual concentration camps. On Thursday, Obama's demagogic doublespeak drowned out truth.
Explaining his so-called immigration reform. Covering less than half the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants. 
Others subject to lawless detention. Brutalizing treatment. Like criminals. Deportation with no right of appeal.
Immigrants qualifying for residency and work permits must have lived here for five years. Have US citizen or legal resident children.
Must register with ICE. Have no criminal record. Or minor misdemeanors too insignificant to matter. Pay back taxes owed if any. 
Get no Obamacare subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps or other benefits afforded citizens and some legal residents. Farm workers entirely excluded. 
Others qualifying can stay temporarily. Perhaps until a new president reverses Obama's policy. Or dictates entirely new rules and regulations.
Unfairness and then some defines US immigration policy. The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) earlier called it "a brutal system of immigration control and policing that criminalizes immigration status, normalizes the forcible separation of families, destabilizes communities and workplaces, and fuels widespread civil rights violations."
Abuses are rife. Criminalizing undocumented immigrants. Linking immigration policy to national security.
Based on racial, ethnic, nationality profiling. Militarizing border communities. Scapegoating immigrants unfairly.
Deporting record numbers. Separating family members. Institutionalizing brutal treatment. Denying immigrants international law guaranteed civil and human rights.
Substituting police state repression. Immigrants vulnerable to exploitation and ill-treatment. Unable to fight for their rights.
Making racial profiling and other discriminatory practices national policy. Studies show horrific ICE abuses.
Including warrantless searches. Indiscriminate arrests. Forced detentions. Separating family members. Husbands from wives. Children from parents. 
Traumatizing them. Abusing women. Beating men. Destabilizing communities. Due process and judicial fairness pure fantasy.
Expropriating indigenous land. Building virtual and other border fences. Ill-spending hundreds of millions of dollars besieging affected communities.
Harming natural habitat and wildlife migration in the process. America treats aliens like criminals. Especially Latinos and Muslims.
Obama's so-called immigration reform leaves longstanding injustices unchanged. Denying rights everyone deserves.
International law affirmed. Constitutionally protected under the Supremacy Clause. Making all treaties and conventions Washington signs the supreme law of the land.
In name only. Emma Lazarus' Lady Liberty words once had meaning. No longer in a nation hostile to its tired, poor, huddled masses.
Welcome sign don't greet them. Scorn, abuse and exploitation substitute. Deportation. Discarded like yesterday's garbage.
Unwanted for being the wrong color. From wrong parts of the world. Valued only for low-pay/no benefits hard labor others eschew. 
Persecuted. Denied all rights. Underpaid. With few or no benefits. Hung out to dry when not wanted. 
Longstanding US practice. Worse than ever under Obama. 
Immigration policy by diktat ignores what's most important to address. Equity and justice for all.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Telecoms Fulfilled 90+ Illegitimate Subpoenas from New Mexico

eff.org - Sat, 22/11/2014 - 03:48

New Mexico law is so devoid of any established authority for this practice, a reasonable prosecutor, upon the exercise of diligent research could determine that the practice was very probably unlawful.

- Judge John Paternoster, Eighth Judicial District of New Mexico

The National Security Agency isn’t the only agency that’s willing to flout the laws of the land in order to obtain your telephone records. As we’re learning from a case out of New Mexico, local prosecutors may be to willing to ignore rights enshrined in the Constitution for an unfair advantage in criminal cases.

The case at hand involves the office of the District Attorney for the Eight District of New Mexico, which covers three counties in Northern New Mexico, including Taos. D.A. Donald Gallegos and one of his subordinates are facing disciplinary charges after they were caught issuing at least 91 bogus subpoenas to eight telephone companies for customer call records. 

The subpoenas came to light during the prosecution of a 2013 armed robbery at an electric cooperative. Suspecting it was an inside job, the Taos police department worked with the prosecutor’s office to begin issuing subpoenas to telecoms for records related to dozens of phone records. Several batches of subpoenas were discovered related to other cases.

The problem is the District Attorney had no authority to issue “stand-alone subpoenas” under court rules, state law, or the New Mexico Constitution [PDF, PDF]. Prosecutors are only allowed to subpoena records when they represent a party in a case, (i.e. a grand jury has been convened or a criminal case has been filed) and they cannot use subpoenas during the police investigative process. Instead the prosecutor attached a generic case number—the kind usually reserved for miscellaneous court matters, such as bond forfeitures and oaths of office—not cellphone records requests.

The subpoenas weren’t signed by a judge or authorized by a grand jury. They weren’t even the right form [PDF] for issuing requests for records. As such, the subpoenas did not include the "essential" language alerting the recipient of remedies and protective measures. Rather, the documents threatened contempt of court sanctions for any telephone provider that failed to hand over the records.

Judge John Paternoster threw out the indictment of one of the robbery suspects in April due to “gross prosecutorial misconduct,” issuing the following damning conclusions [PDF]: 

A stand-alone subpoena, in improper form, issued and signed by a prosecutor in aid of police investigation, before a criminal cause is properly commenced, as in the instant facts is simply without precedent, analogy or lawful authority in New Mexico law.

And

The subpoenas in question were issued by the prosecutor without any judicial oversight, and allowed the police to obtain evidence during a criminal investigation without meeting the requirements of Article II 10 of the Constitution of New Mexico.

And

It is objectively unreasonable for the prosecutor to believe that his conduct was lawful.

And

The prosecutor had no reasonable basis in law for issuing the subpoenas and had no reasonable basis in law to present the evidence to the grand jury, and therefore acted in objective bad faith, and tainted the grand jury with evidence.

Judicial smackdowns don’t come much harder than that. The district attorney is appealing, but at the same time the oversight body authorized by the New Mexico Supreme Court to review allegations of attorney misconduct has completed its own investigation. The Disciplinary Board is now pursuing formal professional misconduct charges against the lawyers [PDF, PDF].

That process will play out over the next few months, but in the meantime there’s another piece of the puzzle worth addressing. If the subpoenas were so obviously illegal, why didn’t a single one of the telecommunications company question their legitimacy?

According to the filings, eight telecommunications providers complied with the questionable subpoenas and handed over customer call records. They are:

Verizon AT&T (Cingular)
T-Mobile
CommnetCricket (since acquired by AT&T)Level 3 CommunicationsMetroPCSSprint/Nextel

As we told each of these providers in a letter [PDF], EFF strongly believes that part of a telecommunication company’s cost of doing business in any particular state is to ensure that local law enforcement requests for customer data comply with state law. That is particularly true when state laws, such as New Mexico’s, contain stronger legal protections than those that exist under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or the federal Stored Communications Act.

We are asking the involved companies to take a few concrete actions in response to the bad-subpoena scandal:

First, they should go back and review all subpoenas that the district attorney’s issued, determine if other subpoenas it received were similarly defective and release the actual numbers of subpoenas they processed that may have been illegal.

Second, they should review their own legal process to identify how the company’s legal compliance team assesses the validity of subpoenas under state law. Then they should institute new polices to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Finally, they should confirm whether the customers targeted by the subpoenas were informed of the existence of these subpoenas. If not, customers should be informed immediately.

So far, T-Mobile is the only provider to respond to our letter. While Senior Corporate Counsel Patricia Cauldwell indicated that they were unaware of the controversy until we brought it to their attention, she argued that T-Mobile acted in good faith and defended the company’s practice of rejecting requests when they appear to be defective.  

“[W]e would not expect to see a prosecutor in New Mexico use subpoenas like these again in a criminal investigation before convening a grand jury and we expect that the judicial system in New Mexico is well capable of correcting the problem,” Cauldwell wrote [PDF].

We’re not convinced that’s a safe bet. The telecommunications industry is very well aware that the public is becoming more and more skeptical of how these companies interact with intelligence and law enforcement agencies.  But for all the NSA and FBI’s questionable practices, local law enforcement agencies are just as prone to shenanigans.

Phone companies need to not only tell cops to come back with a warrant or subpoena, but come back with one that’s actually legal.

Files:  5-511_nmra.pdf 5-511_subpoena_form.pdf 2014.10.01_specification_of_charges_d_gallegos.pdf 2014.10.01_specification_of_charges_e_chavez.pdf 2014.04.08_decision_on_mtn_to_quash.pdf 2013nmconst.pdf letter_from_the_electronic_frontier_foundation_regarding_new_mexico_subpoenas.pdf letter-from-t-mobile-redacted.pdfRelated Issues: Know Your RightsCell Tracking
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