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Ad Hominem Campaigning

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 21:50
Ad Hominem Campaigning
by Stephen Lendman
Candidates attacking each other goes with the territory. Trump and Clinton appear heading for new mean-spirited lows.
The race for the White House promises perhaps to be the nastiest in memory - back-and-forth ad hominem bashing in lieu of straight talk on issues mattering most.
America is a hugely corrupted money-controlled one-party state with two wings, governance serving everyone equitably a nonstarter, democracy pure fantasy. 
Voters in November get to choose between the most widely ever reviled presidential aspirants in US history - unfit for any public office.
However things turn out, America’s deplorable state will worsen. Pure evil best describes it, humanity’s greatest threat. 
Endless wars will continue, wealth, power and privilege exclusively served, popular needs and interests be damned - likely more than ever before, nonbelievers facing police state harshness.
Dueling Trump and Clinton addresses bashing each other (he on Wednesday, she on Tuesday) showed what voters can look forward to during summer/fall campaigning, everything carefully pre-scripted, designed to deceive. 
Candidates worthy of support discussing real issues are nowhere in sight - both presidential aspirants self-serving, seeking power and greater wealth, assuring four more deplorable years whoever wins. Ordinary people already lost.
Does anyone with any sensibility believe Trump claiming he’s “running to give back to this country which has been so good to” him. He spent his entire business career amassing super-wealth without concern for popular interests.
All candidates hype jobs creation - full-time industrial and other high-pay, good-benefit ones largely gone, rotten part-time/temp ones replacing them.
America increasingly resembles Guatemala, thirdworldized, privileged few benefitting at the expense of most others. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions exist by design, popular needs going begging, bipartisan complicity ignoring them.
Poverty is a growth industry, households one missed paycheck away from homelessness, hunger and desperation.
Trump is wrong saying “it’s not the political system that’s rigged.” He’s right saying “(i)t’s the whole economy…rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages…businesses…leav(ing) our country…bureaucrats…trapping kids in failing schools.”
He’s right calling Clinton “a world class liar,” failing to explain all politicians and would-be ones operate the same way.
Claiming he’s running to put American workers first is pure rubbish. The less they’re paid, the fewer their benefits, the more corporate predators profit, his businesses like others.
“This election will decide whether we are ruled by the people or by the politicians,” he ranted. “If I am elected president, I will end the special interest monopoly in Washington, DC.” 
Does anyone take him seriously? Billionaires aren’t ordinary people. Special interests run America. Clinton bashing followed, “politics of personal profit and theft” her specialty, he said.
True enough, Trump right saying she cashed in big from government service, she and husband Bill making millions - at the same time, ignoring their high crimes, waging war on humanity at home and abroad, an agenda he’ll continue as president.
He won’t explain. I just did, he and Clinton cut out of the same cloth, differing largely in style. No one becomes presidential material without being part of the dirty system.
Trump claiming he wants to “mak(e) America great again for all Americans” belies his dirty business as usual intentions. He’s like all the rest, making promises he’ll break straightaway if elected.
Clinton attacked his economic agenda, ignoring her own deplorable record, beholden solely to Wall Street, war profiteers and other big monied interests, calling his ideas ill-considered, offering none of her own beyond rhetoric without substance.
She’s been bought over by special interests too many times to count throughout her public life.
“We cannot put a person like this, with all his empty promises, in a position of power over our lives,” she ranted. “We can’t let him bankrupt America like we are one of his failed casinos.”
The nation was morally, ethically and politically bankrupt from inception, a democracy in name only. 
Today we’d call its founders a Wall Street crowd - including self-serving bankers, lawyers, politicians, as well as wealthy land and slave owners - conditions since the 1990s worst of all.
Trump or Clinton succeeding Obama assures four more years of war, greater corporate favoritism at the expense of popular needs and interests, along with ending what remains of constitutional protections.
The state of America already is too deplorable to bear, a nation unfit and unsafe to live in, threatening world peace and stability - worse ahead whether Trump or Clinton succeeds Obama.
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.

Computer Crime Bill Stalls in Rhode Island

eff.org - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 17:12

Rhode Island legislators recently decided not to advance a bill that would have made that state’s bad “anti-hacking” law even worse. This is good news. But the struggle continues against other vague and overbroad computer crime laws.

As EFF previously explained, this Rhode Island bill was a threat to many different kinds of innocent, common, and beneficial uses of computers. It would have further empowered prosecutors to bring charges against computer users who violate a corporate terms-of-service agreement to access confidential information, as well as whistle blowers and independent computer security researchers. It would have imposed a minimum of five years of incarceration for a first offense, even where there was no intent to obtain financial gain. It allowed for the stacking of charges, enabling prosecutors to seek even lengthier prison terms. And there was no showing that existing laws are insufficient to protect confidential computer data.

That’s why we sent legislators two letters opposing this bill (here and here), along with our allies Access Now, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Defending Dissent Foundation, and the Open Technology Institute. The ACLU of Rhode Island also advocated against this bill.

EFF fights against bills like this across the country. For example, earlier this month we joined a coalition effort to defeat a bill that would expand the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).  We also try to persuade judges to narrowly interpret existing computer crime laws, as we did last month in a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Chelsea Manning.

Perhaps most importantly, EFF works to roll back the many overbroad computer crime laws already on the books. For example, we support Aaron’s law, named for Internet hero Aaron Swartz, which would begin to fix the federal CFAA.

Much work remains. The Rhode Island bill may be back next year. But for today, we celebrate the successful effort of EFF and its allies to block the Rhode Island bill

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California Legislature Drops Proposal to Copyright All Government Works

eff.org - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 07:56

You spoke, and the California Legislature listened. We’re happy to report that A.B. 2880 was amended in the State Senate to remove the dangerous sections that EFF and over 25 other organizations opposed. Your messages to the Legislature were vital to this effort.

The prior version of A.B. 2880 that was passed by the State Assembly would have given state government agencies vast new power to assert copyrights and trademarks over government-created work. It also would have added a broad new exemption to the California Public Records Act, the state’s version of FOIA. 

It was never made clear why the state needed sweeping new copyright and trademark powers and new limitations on open government. The power to assert copyrights and trademarks over taxpayer-funded work is one that’s easily abused to punish critics of the government or to charge more fees to the public. 

EFF warned the bill’s authors about these problems in early May. Soon after, numerous other organizations joined in opposition from library groups to open government advocates to newspapers, Internet companies, and the California Chamber of Commerce. And more than 360 Californians wrote to their state legislators through EFF’s Action Center to sound the alarm.

Those efforts have paid off. This week, the bill was amended to remove the new intellecutual property powers and the new exemptions to CPRA. What remains are provisions for better tracking of state patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and a new requirement that state agencies “consider” the intellectual property rights of all parties when they write contracts. These changes should help avoid situations like the ongoing trademark dispute over hotels and campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, without harming public access to government records and data. 

Based on the new amendments, EFF is dropping its opposition to A.B. 2880. Thank you to everyone who weighed in on this issue for sending a strong message that the abuse of intellectual property laws can harm many different sectors of society, and that preventing those abuses needs to be a top priority for our lawmakers. Thanks also to Assemblymember Mark Stone for listening and responding to Californians’ concerns with this bill.

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Israel's Military Intelligence Chief Prefers ISIS to Assad in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 02:47
Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief Prefers ISIS to Assad in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Israel actively supports ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria, supplying them with weapons, munitions, foodstuffs and medical treatment for their wounded fighters - along with bombing Syrian targets at its discretion. 
It’s allied with Washington, NATO and other regional rogue states to topple Assad, eliminate a key rival and isolate Iran, its main Middle East target.
In an address delivered days earlier, Israel’s military intelligence chief General Herzi Halevy discussed war in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, Hezbollah, Hamas, terrorism, and what he called the growing disparity between Israel and its neighbors - claiming Jewish state strength and stability surrounded by religious extremism and terrorism.
“There’s a gap between us and everyone around us, and that gap is growing,” he claimed. “This shouldn’t make us proud. It should make us worried.”
Halevy called recent months “most difficult” for ISIS in Syria, expressing concern about its loss of territory, saying Israel doesn’t want it defeated, preferring the group to Assad.
Months earlier, former Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said he “prefer(s)” ISIS to Iran, Israel’s main enemy. Like other Israeli officials, he absurdly claimed Tehran has “terror infrastructure” in five continents - adding it has breakout ability to produce a bomb in a year or less.
Israel is the region’s only nuclear armed and dangerous power, Iran’s nuclear program entirely peaceful with no military component. No evidence suggests otherwise.
Ya’alon and Halevy aren’t alone. Netanyahu-led lunatics running things prefer an ISIS-established caliphate threatening regional peace and security to Assad’s secular rule threatening no one.
Israel intends supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups to destroy Syrian sovereignty altogether, creating endless violence and chaos similar to what’s happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
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.

EFF Urges Senate Not to Expand FBI’s Controversial National Security Letter Authority

eff.org - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 01:40

Update June 22, 2016: The Senate failed to pass an amendment to expand the FBI's National Security Letter powers and to make the "lone wolf" provision of the Patriot Act permanent; however, the amendment will probably be voted on again soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell switched his vote to "No" at the last minute so that he may be able to bring up the amendment during future debate. The amendment was included as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which will have a final vote on the Senate floor later this week. Tell your Senators to Vote NO on the amendment.

The controversial National Security Letter (NSL) statute could be significantly expanded under two separate bills currently being debated by the Senate. Every year, the FBI issues thousands of NSLs to telephone and Internet companies, demanding records about their customers and gagging the companies from informing the public about these requests. NSLs are inherently dangerous to civil liberties because their use is rarely subject to judicial review. But NSLs are not magic, and they don’t require recipients to do whatever the FBI says. Above all, the type of information available to the FBI with an NSL is quite limited, reflecting the need to tightly control the extrajudicial nature of this controversial power.

The Senate’s proposed changes would allow the FBI to get a much larger range of Internet records, such as email to/from headers, Internet browsing history, and more, all of which it could not previously get with an NSL. Particularly given the FBI’s well-documented history of abusing NSLs, EFF opposes expanding the scope of this unconstitutional surveillance power to include even more revealing records. Yesterday we joined with a broad coalition of organizations and companies to urge the Senate not to pass these proposals.

Does Congress Need an NSL Autocorrect?

Amending a surveillance law to let the FBI issue warrantless demands for new types of Internet users’ records—without even needing to go before a judge—is a significant expansion of that law. But to hear FBI Director James Comey explain it, the bills amount to a mere “typo fix.” That’s because the FBI thinks it was already entitled to get these records using NSLs, and Congress simply messed up when it drafted the law. The problem with this theory? The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which issues definitive interpretations of the law for the rest of the executive branch, looked at the issue in 2008 and concluded the FBI was flat wrong [.pdf].

As currently written, the NSL statute describes the types of companies who can be issued NSLs—“wire or electronic communication service providers”—and the limited types of records that the FBI can request from those companies about their customers—“name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records.” We don’t think about toll billing records much in these days of vanishing landlines and unlimited talk and text, but they are simply records kept by telephone companies of their customers’ calls for billing purposes. The law also says that companies must “comply with a request for” something called “electronic communication transactional records” (ECTRs). Unhelpfully, the law doesn’t say what ECTRs are, though the legislative history suggests it was not intended as an expansion of NSLs. (In case you were wondering, it’s common to pronounce ECTR to rhyme with “nectar.”)

A History of Abuse, in Secret

Because nearly all NSLs are accompanied by self-certified gag orders signed by the FBI, it’s supremely hard for the public to get clear information about them. The ECTR question is no different. Despite the hundreds of thousands of NSLs issued since 2001, the public has seen only a handful. 

One exception is the NSL issued in 2004 to Nicholas Merrill, who ran a small ISP called Calyx. There, the FBI interpreted the law to allow it to request a lot more than the basic info about Calyx’s subscriber; it asked for assigned IP addresses and an essentially unbounded amount of “other information else you consider to be an” ECTR. Merrill fought this NSL for over a decade, before it was finally unsealed in full last year. The judge in that case noted [.pdf] that one key piece of evidence in this unsealing was a Justice Department manual claiming that the FBI could get even more information, including URL browsing history, email headers and even cell phone location data.

It should go without saying that the information that the FBI thought it could request is extremely revealing—it’s not “just metadata.” For example, URLs may reveal the content of a website that users have visited, their location, and so on. 

What is also clear is that the FBI viewed the statute’s list of information available using NSLs as more of a loose guideline than an exhaustive list. This was a boom time for the FBI’s use of NSLs—the Bureau sent out 56,507 in 2004 alone, and we know that many of these NSLs were issued improperly. It’s no stretch to guess that these tens of thousands of NSLs included requests for revealing ECTRs under the FBI’s expansive and erroneous definition, as well as other information not named in the law, all without any prior judicial oversight.

A Huge Expansion, Not a Typo

In 2008, however, the Office of Legal Counsel finally weighed in and seemingly put a stop to this particular form of NSL abuse. According to the OLC’s memo [.pdf], the limited list of information in the statute is truly exhaustive, and the stray reference to ECTRs simply allowed the FBI to issue NSLs to entities other than telephone companies and request only “information parallel to subscriber information and toll billing records for ordinary telephone service.”

But the FBI wasn’t happy with this decision. According to testimony by a Justice Department official from 2011, other sections of DOJ concluded the FBI could request IP addresses and “other non-content information” considered ECTRs. We also know that the FBI continued to demand ECTR information from Internet companies, like an unnamed client of EFF’s [.pdf] and Yahoo, which last week published an NSL it received in 2013. Some Internet companies refused, but ubiquitous NSL gags prevented them from talking about their responses to specific NSLs.

Since the FBI was caught misusing NSLs to collect revealing ECTR information, it has been pushing to rewrite the statute and expand its authority under the guise of fixing a so-called typo. The Senate is considering two proposals that would give the FBI what it wants. The first [.pdf] was proposed by Senator Cornyn as an amendment to the Email Privacy Act, and along with several other controversial amendments, it threatens to hold up the Senate’s consideration of a bill that passed unanimously out of the House. If that weren’t bad enough, the second ECTR change was included as part of a secret Intelligence Committee Authorization bill already passed out of committee. The public wouldn’t even know about this proposal if it not for a press release by the tireless Senator Ron Wyden

Meanwhile, EFF is fighting on in its lawsuit on behalf of two unnamed NSL recipients, arguing that the NSL gag orders are unconstitutional. After a disappointing ruling in the district court, we’re headed back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later this summer. Even when they're used as the law specifies, NSLs allow the FBI to operate in secret, obtaining information and gagging recipients without any court oversight in the overwhelming majority of cases.

In light of the FBI’s ability to use NSLs out of the public view and without a judge to evaluate its interpretation of the law, the information that the agency can obtain with an NSL must be very tightly controlled. Far from a simple “fix,” the Senate proposals to include of a wide variety of electronic records under the NSLs represent a very worrying expansion of the FBI's surveillance authority. 

National Security Letters are a dangerous and unconstitutional power as is. This expansion must be rejected.

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Michele Flournoy: A Clinton Administration's Likely Secretary of War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 22:43
Michele Flournoy: A Clinton Administration’s Likely Secretary of War
by Stephen Lendman
America’s Defense Department is misnamed. Its designation sanitizes its warmaking mission - endless aggression against nonbelligerent states. 
The endgame is clear - unchallenged US global dominance, planet earth colonized, its resources looted, billions consigned to neoserfdom.
Flournoy is scary, cut out of the same ruthlessly dangerous cloth as Clinton, reportedly her choice to head her administration’s killing machine if elected president in November.
She’s a former third-ranking Department of War official, its highest-ranking woman, co-founder of the neocon Center for a New American Security (CNAS) - promoting phony war on terror, endless wars on the pretext of protecting US interests and values.
Earlier she served in the Bill Clinton administration’s War Department, focusing on strategy, requirements, plans and counterproliferation, as well as Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian affairs.
She’s a former National Defense University research professor, heading its Quadrennial Defense Review, as well as a Center for Strategic and International Studies defense (sic) policy and international security senior advisor.
Her current affiliations besides CNAS include serving as:
  • senior advisor on government projects for the Boston Consulting Group;

  • senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs;

  • a hawkish neocon Atlantic Council board member;

  • a right-wing Aspen Strategy Group member;

  • the CIA’s External Advisory Board; and

  • a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member - historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (1922 - 2007) once calling it a “front organization (for) the heart of the American Establishment.”

Flournoy reportedly called for “limited military coercion,” including designating parts of Syria held by US-supported terrorists “no bombing” zones.
She supports deploying larger numbers of US combat troops to Syria on the phony pretext of combatting ISIS. On June 16, a CNAS report urged “go(ing) beyond the current cessation of hostilities” - pressuring Russia and Syria not to attack terrorist groups Washington calls moderates.
If targeting them continues, the report called for US forces retaliating against Assad, striking Syrian operating bases and “security apparatus facilities in Damascus,” not  areas where Russia’s military is based.
Flournoy urges ousting Assad forcibly, turning Syria into another US vassal state, with similar designs on Iran. Interviewed by London’s Guardian in May, she praised Clinton, saying “her record as secretary of state suggests that she understands the importance of American leadership in the world…”
She “support(s) a smart approach to US engagement as the best way to protect our interests and also underwrite the global order.”
Flournoy is a warrior, favoring military solutions over diplomatic ones. America’s War Department in a Clinton administration could launch WW III - risking planet earth’s destruction for unchallenged control.
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.

June 22: Operation Barbarossa's 75th Anniversity

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 22:26
June 22: Operation Barbarossa’s 75th Anniversary
by Stephen Lendman
On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched perhaps the largest ever invasion by one country against another.
Operation Barbarossa involved up to four million combat and support troops - Hitler’s fatal error, miscalculating, overreaching, hubris and arrogance defeating him.
Heroic Red Army efforts smashed the vaunted Wehrmacht, Soviet Russia, not America, most responsible for freeing Europe from the scourge of Nazism.
Addressing Russia’s lower house State Duma, Putin paid tribute to extraordinary Red Army heroism above and beyond the call of duty by any standard, saying:
“This day in 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the USSR, but Soviet soldiers defended the country to the death. We will always remember their sacrifice.”
“Back then, Western powers tried to defeat the Soviet Union. The international community did not pay any attention to that fact that dangerous Nazi regime arose in Europe.”
“These days, the international community makes the same mistakes. The main global threat is terrorism, but NATO continues to expand its presence near Russian borders.”
Its aggressive actions and rhetoric force Moscow “to respond in the same way…pay(ing) special attention to strengthening our country’s defense capabilities.” 
Citing “bloc-like thinking,” Putin said it’s “necessary to create a non-aligned, equal for all states system of collective security.” 
“Russia is ready to discuss this important issue and has repeatedly declared its readiness to engage in dialogue” - so far with no positive Western response.
Putin urged “unit(ing) in the fight against international terrorism” without explaining its state sponsorship, its inability to exist without it.
America’s rage for dominance is humanity’s greatest threat - state-sponsored terrorism, using ISIS and likeminded groups as imperial foot soldiers, along with its empire of bases threatening world peace.
Unless responsibly challenged, we’re all doomed.
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.

Kerry Meets with State Department Hawks on Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 22:06
Kerry Meets with State Department Hawks on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed dozens of unnamed State Department staffers urging stepped up US military action to oust Assad, greater naked aggression than already - wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing sovereign Syrian independence.
John Kerry expressed sympathy with their position without publicly endorsing it. On Tuesday, he met with “eight midlevel Foreign Service officers,” according to The New York Times - hawkish neocons among dozens publicly opposing Obama’s Syria policy.
According to State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby, Kerry “was largely in a listening mode.” The meeting’s “purpose was to hear them out.”
No US policy shift on Syria is planned, he explained, adding “(t)he secretary is very committed to trying to work on…getting a transitional governing process in place, getting the political talks back on track, getting the cessation of hostilities in force nationwide in an enduring way, and getting humanitarian assistance to…millions of Syrians in need” - long-suffering ones Washington doesn’t give a damn about or Obama wouldn’t have launched war in the first place.
The Times called Kerry’s position “awkward,” not wanting to criticize Obama’s Syria policy publicly, perhaps privately supporting more aggressive US military action.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, “nothing seemed resolved,” said The Times. State Department staffers and Kerry “agreed to keep the details of their conversation private.” 
At the same time, they said administration Syria policy could change, becoming more aggressive than already - virtually certain if Clinton succeeds Obama next year.
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.

We Made the Message Loud and Clear: Stop the Rule 41 Updates

eff.org - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 10:29
It's Not Too Late to Write to Congress About the Disastrous Rule Change

What happens when you try to push a dangerous policy through without the Internet noticing? The Internet fights back.

A few days ago, we warned of an impending rule change that would dramatically increase law enforcement’s authority to hack into computers. We encouraged people, organizations, and companies to add a special banner to their websites for one day, calling on Congress to stop the updates to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Today, the Internet has come out in full force. Dozens of websites are running the “Reject the Rule 41 Proposal” banner. Over 50 organizations and companies have joined EFF in signing a letter to Congress (PDF), including Tor, the Open Technology Institute, R Street Institute, DuckDuckGo, Google, PayPal, and many others. Most importantly, thousands of you have already spoken out to Congress, urging lawmakers to take action before it’s too late.

Tell Congress: Stop the changes to Rule 41.

If Congress does nothing, then the rule change will automatically go into effect on December 1, dramatically expanding law enforcement’s authority to hack computers both inside and outside the United States.

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the Stopping Mass Hacking Act (S. 2952), which will keep the rule change from taking effect. Sen. Ron Wyden, the bill’s sponsor, posted a video message on Twitter explaining why it’s essential that Congress pass the Stopping Mass Hacking Act.

If the updates to Rule 41 take effect, this massive expansion of power will affect Internet users all over the world. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to write to Congress today or sign our petition if you live outside of the United States.

Dozens of fellow users’ rights organizations are also speaking out today against the Rule 41 changes. Here are just a few of them.

Tell Congress: Stop the changes to Rule 41.

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How Do We Achieve an Open, Secure, Trustworthy, and Inclusive Internet?

eff.org - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 09:49

Today at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy in Mexico, the Global Commission on Internet Governance released its final report, One Internet. Despite its important-sounding name, the Commission is not an official body, but a think tank convened in 2014 by the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Chatham House, composed of a diverse panel of 29 invited experts from industry, government, academia, and civil society (including EFF Pioneer Award recipient Anriette Esterhuysen).

The Commission had a broad and open mandate to articulate and advance a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance in light of some of its most hotly-disputed global political challenges. Foremost among these challenges are the betrayal of Internet users' trust by states engaged in mass online surveillance, and moves by authoritarian states to control and restrict the open Internet. In light of these challenges, the Commission's report suggests a series of recommendations, many of which EFF supports, towards creating a more open, secure, trustworthy, and inclusive Internet.

Policy Recommendations

The recommendations are wide-ranging, so here we highlight the ones that touch on the areas in which EFF works:

  • Net neutrality. Recognizing net neutrality as a key principle to help preserve the Internet's accessibility, the Commission makes a number of relevant recommendations to further this principle by promoting competition and access to network infrastructure, and sanctioning non-neutral practices such as blocking, filtering, and zero-rating. On this last point, its recommendation that "In the absence of sufficient competition to enable consumer choice, there should be no exclusive agreements to provide zero-rated content" broadly aligns with EFF's view.
  • Mass surveillance. Echoing the Necessary and Proportionate principles, the Commission recommends that "Interception of communications and collection and analysis of data over the Internet by law enforcement and government intelligence agencies should be for legitimate purposes, openly specified in advance, authorized by law and requiring the application of the principles of necessity and proportionality." The report also recommends that "International data-sharing agreements between governments should not be used to circumvent the national laws of a country and should respect human rights."
  • Privacy and data protection. Since users' privacy is threatened not only by official surveillance but also by commercial data collection, the Commission recommends that users of online services "should know about and have some choice over the full range of ways in which their data will be deployed," and that "To assure the public that their data is being appropriately protected, states that do not already have comprehensive personal data protection legislation and a privacy enforcement authority with legal enforcement powers should take steps to create such regimes."
  • Intermediary liability. The Commission cites the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability and affirms that it "fully supports" the legal principles of "shielding intermediaries from liability for third-party content; the requirement of judicial authority for content takedowns; necessity and proportionality; clarity and due process; and transparency and accountability. The Commission also believes that actors in the digital ecosystem—whether technology companies or intermediaries such as content hosts or ISPs—should not be required to perform the functions of law enforcement, except as required by appropriate judicial order."
  • Encryption. The Commission recognizes that "Governments should not create or require third parties to create “back doors” to access data that would have the effect of weakening the security of the Internet," and further notes that "States should not rely upon the weaker data collection rules that govern private companies to get access to information that they could not obtain themselves through legal channels."

In some cases, given the complexity of the areas tackled and the diversity of the panel, no recommendation is given by the Commission, or its recommendations are fudged or tentative. For example, the panel covers both sides of the arguments around improving the transparency of the algorithms behind online services that we all use, but fails to reach much of a conclusion other than that more discussion and study is needed.

Similarly, the Commission fails to make much headway in reconciling its support for encryption with the demands of law enforcement, and rolls out some unhelpful stereotypes about encrypted services as the "shadowy underbelly of the Internet." It does, however, recommend that in seeking to reconcile law enforcement demands with users' rights, "any solutions should be derived through a multi-stakeholder process, broadly agreed, and must be subject to legal oversight, governed by principles of necessity, proportionality and avoidance of unintended consequences."

Meaningful Stakeholder Inclusion in Internet Governance

A problem here is that the supposed multi-stakeholder processes through which such solutions to highly contested policy issues could be rolled out don't really exist yet, outside of the very narrow area of Internet names and numbers, handled by ICANN. Although the OECD, which meets this week in Mexico, makes claims to following a multi-stakeholder model of policy development, by taking advice from a Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC, in which EFF is a participant), this is a rather shallow form of consultation that invites community input only once governments have already set the agenda, and provides little assurance that this input will actually be taken into account by policy makers.

The Commission report hits the nail on the head by noting the hypocrisy of governments' claims to uphold a multi-stakeholder model of Internet policy development, while actually pursuing their policy objectives in closed fora:

In practice, the principle of multi-stakeholder governance may be honoured as much in the breach as in the observance. In terms of real-world impact, bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements can significantly affect Internet governance issues. Many, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, specifically address important issues such as data localization, encryption, censorship and transparency, all of which are generally regarded as forming part of the Internet governance landscape; However, they are negotiated exclusively by governments and usually in secret.

As EFF and its partners have also observed, this is clearly not sustainable. The Commission's own research affirms this, finding that in answer to the question "how much do you trust each of the following to play an important role in running the Internet," the fewest people (36%) would trust the United States, whereas the most (57%) would trust a combined body of technology companies, engineers, non-governmental organizations and institutions that represent the interests and will of ordinary citizens and governments. No such body yet exists, and the Commission does not recommend creating one afresh.

Short of creating a new body, is it possible to utilize a more meaningfully inclusive multi-stakeholder environment for the development of recommendations on global Internet policy? Some have held out hope that the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) could provide a forum for the development of such recommendations, but it has not lived up to this promise, hampered by accountability problems and a chronic lack of funding. The Commission accordingly recommends, "The United Nations should take practical steps to implement the decision of member states to extend the mandate of the IGF, including providing the necessary funding for its base budget."

Social Compact for a Digital Society

Meanwhile, the Commission sets its sights a little lower than wholesale reform of global governance arrangements, suggesting instead the need for a new collaboratively-developed "Social Compact for a Digital Society," containing some basic principles to secure the Internet's future. It even suggests some elements around which such a compact might be based, beginning with the statement that "Fundamental human rights, including privacy and personal data protection, must be protected online. Threats to these core human rights should be addressed by governments and other stakeholders acting both within their own jurisdiction and in cooperation."

As welcome as this sounds, we don't know whether such a compact is really a realistic prospect. The Commission itself acknowledges the difficulty and perhaps impossibility of developing such a compact that would be truly universal, given the likely antipathy of those states that are "erecting borders in cyberspace and asserting the government’s right to impose significant constraints on the free flow of information on the Internet."

That said, there is an undoubted need to help all stakeholders find areas of agreement in addressing current challenges in Internet governance, and the Commission's One Internet report is a worthy contribution to that ongoing endeavor. EFF doesn't agree with everything in the report, but commends it as worthy reading for policymakers and stakeholders who share the vision of an more accessible, inclusive, secure, and trustworthy Internet, even if that utopian end state may never be fully realized.

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Jewel v. NSA Moves Forward—Time For NSA To Answer Basic Questions About Mass Surveillance

eff.org - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 04:55

It’s time to lift the cloak of secrecy that has until now shielded the NSA from judicial scrutiny. EFF served the agency with information requests late last week in Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s signature case challenging government surveillance. Since we filed the case in 2008, leaks about government spying—much of which have been confirmed by intelligence agencies—have vindicated our claims that the U.S. government is and was illegally spying on millions of innocent Americans. Now, we are seeking answers to basic questions about the nuts and bolts of the government’s Internet and telephone mass surveillance programs.

Not only does this mark the first opportunity to obtain evidence since the case was filed nearly eight years ago, but it’s also the first time any party has been allowed to gather facts about the programs’ inner workings from the NSA in a case involving the agency’s warrantless surveillance.

It’s unusual for a case to go eight years before reaching this point, called “discovery,” the routine process by which one party obtains evidence to support their case from another party. But we were barred from conducting discovery since 2008 because the government succeeded in putting evidence gathering on hold while it tried to get the case thrown out—thereby preventing us from requesting important information about how the NSA’s mass surveillance programs worked. But the government failed to get the case thrown out. And earlier this year—after a Ninth Circuit judge expressed shock [at 30:03] that discovery had been stayed for so long—U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, authorized EFF, on behalf of the plaintiffs, to finally seek information from the NSA.

We’ve learned a great deal about the government’s telephone and Internet mass surveillance programs in the past few years, thanks to the leaks of many whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden, the work of investigative journalists, and statements by public officials. But there is still a lot we don’t know about how these programs operate. And in Jewel, the government has convinced the court that the publicly available information does not paint a sufficiently complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic. The court can’t decide whether the program is legal, the government says, with only the information that’s been made public.

Yet, in an absurd Catch-22 move, the government won’t provide any clarification or explanation of its assertions that we are “wrong” on the facts. Instead, the government is sticking with its signature practice of revealing only bits and pieces of how its massive surveillance operations function while actively obscuring how those pieces fit together and issuing carefully crafted denials of our allegations.

We are now seeking answers to some basic questions that will provide enough clarification for a real judicial decision. For instance, we asked the NSA to describe the basic process by which it acquires, copies, filters, and searches Internet communications in transit over the Internet backbone without any warrant or court order authorizing it to do so. We asked the agency to describe how AT&T’s Folsom Street facility in San Francisco fits into its operations, and all the facts on which it bases its conclusion that it would be “impracticable” to get a warrant supported by probable cause before invading people’s privacy. And we asked the agency to provide documentation to support its answers.

We also asked the NSA to admit various facts about both its Internet and telephone mass surveillance programs, and to explain itself should it refuse to make unqualified admissions. For instance, we asked the NSA to admit that it procured from AT&T bulk Internet and telephone call records without any warrant, court order, or subpoena. And we asked the NSA to admit that it procured AT&T to copy, via fiber-optic splitters, all electronic communications at the Folsom Street facility transiting between AT&T’s Internet facilities and the Internet facilities of non-AT&T electronic communications service providers, and that it later searched the contents of those communications.

These are not technical questions about the intricacies of the NSA’s systems. The answers will not add to what the bad guys know in any material way. These are high-level, operational questions about the government’s mass warrantless spying programs—questions for which the public has long deserved answers, and for which the courts need answers to adequately evaluate whether ours laws have been broken.

Congress should be asking these very same questions. But so far, it has failed to do so. Indeed, in the eight years since Congress enacted reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), it has failed to gain a functional understanding of NSA Internet surveillance or to consider its impacts on democracy. It’s clear from a recent hearing that Congress does not even know how many Americans are impacted by Section 702 of the law, which was designed to allow U.S. intelligence services to collect electronic intelligence on foreign targets related to our national security interests but which the government has used to sweep up data on hundreds of millions of people, including countless Americans, who have no connection to a terrorist investigation. Section 702 is set to expire next year, and the complete lack of transparency regarding the government’s use of the law is a key reason why the digital rights community is calling on Congress to let it expire as scheduled.

The government has 30 days to answer our questions, although we expect they will try to delay things. We also expect that the government will try to block our discovery requests entirely by claiming, as it has in the past, that the state secrets privilege protects it against both discovery and liability. Judge White previously rejected that argument for our statutory claims under the Wiretap Act, FISA, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Stored Communications Act. Any attempt by the government to evoke that privilege here would also be improper and should be rejected.

While we don’t expect to get there without a fight, we look forward to finally getting to the nuts and bolts of this extraordinarily important lawsuit.

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EU Extends Sanctions on Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 04:02
EU Extends Sanctions on Russia
by Stephen Lendman
US pressure got EU countries to act against their own self-interest - imposing sanctions in 2014, on the phony pretext of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, nonexistent then and now, no prospect of any ahead.
Brussels extended them earlier, again through January 31, 2017 - approved by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the European Union (COREPER). Tightening them wasn’t considered.
A formal announcement is expected next week when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels. Internal disagreements are growing, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker citing the urgency to resolve East/West differences.
Putin indicated Russia is ready to reciprocate if EU countries show good faith. Ignored in discussing the issue is the illegitimacy of acting outside of Security Council authorization.
None exists. US and EU sanctions on Russia are illegal. Putin was justified in responding appropriately - eager to end sanctions wars expeditiously, restoring normalized relations.
Washington deviously circumvents Security Council authorization, invoking the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
It lets presidents claim unusual and/or extraordinary foreign threats, even when none exist, declare a national emergency, and regulate commerce accordingly.
In March 2015, Obama invoked IEEPA on Venezuela, declaring model Bolivarian democracy an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national and foreign policy of the United States,” imposing sanctions, economic war now raging, ordinary people mostly harmed.
On January 20, 2017, a new US president will be inaugurated, days before Russian sanctions expire or are again extended. Trump claims he wants improved US/Russia ties.
If elected in November, realpolitik may override other issues. Clinton is militantly anti-Russia, earlier comparing Putin to Hitler.
Sanctions relief won’t likely be forthcoming on her watch. Escalated US belligerence may provoke direct confrontation. 
All bets are off if she succeeds Obama. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Banning Russian Athletes from Rio 2016

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 02:28
Banning Russian Athletes from Rio 2016
by Stephen Lendman
Don’t bet against Washington’s dirty hands being behind the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banning of Russian track and field athletes from Rio 2016 - an unprecedented politicized act.
They’re being collectively punishing unjustly, based on doping allegations against some of its members, as well as unfounded accusations about Russian sports not cleaning up its act.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stopped short of banning all Russian athletes from Rio competition - on the one hand, saying they’ll be evaluated individually on their eligibility. On the other, indicating “serious doubts on the(ir) presumption of innocence,” - judging them unqualified unless proved otherwise by US-imposed Western standards.
The IOC supported the IAAF’s deplorable ruling, calling it “in line with (its) long-held zero-tolerance policy” - selectively enforced against countries America and its rogue allies want targeted, corrupting Olympism more than already, delegitimizing it entirely.
Olympic games are hugely debauched, their dark side disturbing, more about profiteering and exploitation than sport.
Far from promoting good will, open competition, and fair play, they marginalize the poor, other disenfranchised groups, and affected communities - sticking taxpayers with huge expenses, providing nothing in return but hype and the illusion of amateur international sports at their best.
Olympism is big business, billions of dollars involved, host countries spending far more than they can afford. Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state government declared a financial emergency weeks before games begin.
Governor Francisco Dornelles warned about crisis conditions affecting “public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.”
He issued a decree, authorizing “all necessary emergency measures to ration essential public services,” punishing needy area residents to enrich exploitive profiteers more than already.
Despite Brazil facing protracted Depression conditions, its US-supported coup d’etat regime imposed force-fed austerity on suffering millions - while pledging billions more dollars for Rio 2016 than already budgeted.
It’s unclear if Russian athletes will be allowed to compete this summer. Excluding them delegitimizes Olympism more than already. The best of what amateur athletics should be is absent, spectacle not worth watching replacing it.
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.

EFF Urges Citizens, Websites to Fight Rule Changes Expanding Government Powers to Break Into Users’ Computers

eff.org - Tue, 21/06/2016 - 22:48
Changes to Rule 41 Will Greatly Increase Law Enforcement Hacking, Surveillance

San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Tor Project, and dozens of other organizations are calling today on citizens and website operators to take action to block a new rule pushed by the U.S. Justice Department that would greatly expand the government’s ability to hack users’ computers and interfere with anonymity on the web.

EFF and over 40 partner organizations are holding a day of action for a new campaign—noglobalwarrants.org—to engage citizens about the dangers of Rule 41 and push U.S. lawmakers to oppose it. The process for updating these rules—which govern federal criminal court processes—was intended to deal exclusively with procedural issues. But this year a U.S. judicial committee approved changes in the rule that will expand judicial authority to grant warrants for government hacking.

“The government is attempting to use a process designed for procedural changes to expand its investigatory powers,” said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. “Make no mistake: these changes to Rule 41 will result in a dramatic increase in government hacking. The government is trying to avoid scrutiny and sneak these new powers past the public and Congress through an obscure administrative process.”

Right now, Rule 41 only authorizes federal magistrate judges to issue warrants to conduct searches in the judicial district where the magistrate is located. The new Rule 41 would for the first time authorize magistrates to issue warrants when “technological means,” like Tor or virtual private networks (VPNs), are obscuring the location of a computer. In these circumstances, the rule changes would authorize warrants to remotely access, search, seize, or copy data on computers, wherever in the world they are located.

“Tor users worldwide could be affected by these new rules,” said Kate Krauss, Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Tor Project. “Tor is used by journalists, members of Congress, diplomats, and human rights activists who urgently need its protection to safeguard their privacy and security—but these rules will give the Justice Department new authority to snoop into their computers."

The changes to Rule 41 would also take the unprecedented step of allowing a court to issue a warrant to hack into the computers of innocent Internet users who are themselves victims of a botnet, EFF and its partners said in a letter to members of Congress today.

EFF and its partners launched noglobalwarrants.org, a campaign page outlining problems with the changes to Rule 41 and listing over 40 Internet companies, digital privacy providers, and public interest groups that support the project. The coalition is asking website owners to embed on their sites unique code that will display a banner allowing people to email members of Congress or sign a petition opposing Rule 41. The groups are also calling on citizens to speak out against Rule 41 on social media and blogs. The aim is to send a message to Congress that it should not authorize this expansion of government hacking and must reject Rule 41 changes.

For the coalition letter:
https://www.eff.org/document/rule-41-coalition-letter

For noglobalwarrants.org:
https://noglobalwarrants.org/

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A Clinton Presidency: Humanity's Worst Nightmare

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 21/06/2016 - 22:34
A Clinton Presidency: Humanity’s Worst Nightmare
by Stephen Lendman
Since Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution, successive US administrations governed increasingly lawlessly and recklessly - Bill Clinton worse than his predecessors, Bush worse than him, Obama worst of all, at war with multiple invented enemies throughout his tenure - from inaugural day to the present.
A neocon Hillary Clinton presidency succeeding him risks the unthinkable - possible WW III. America’s rage for dominance, its wanting planet earth colonized, and increasing belligerence toward Russia and China virtually assures eventual confrontation.
Unknown is to what extent, but when conflicts begin, they take on a life of their own. Starting them is easy, resolving them another matter entirely.
America turned planet earth into a battleground. All US post-9/11 wars continue, resolution nowhere in sight. Peace and stability defeat America’s imperial agenda. Conflicts serve it.
Clinton’s public record as first lady, US senator and secretary of state shows her rage for war, her contempt for rule of law principles and democratic values.
She’s for unlimited military spending, phony war on terror continued, likely escalated, use of banned weapons, and super-ones in conflicts she calls peacekeeping deterrents.
Before primary/caucus season began, she was chosen Democrat party nominee, Sanders going along for the ride, a political opportunist, a populist in name only leading a nonexistent political revolution.
Its illusion persists, to fade straightaway once a new administration takes power, Clinton its likely head, plotting pure evil before assuming office, likely aided by false flag deception.
Trump is in trouble, losing momentum, outrageous racist and other extremist comments making more enemies than friends. In late May, he fired his national political director, Rick Wiley, suggesting campaign disarray.
Now top aide Corey Lewandowski is gone. Dismissing him this late in the game indicates trouble. It gets worse.
On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R. WI) said Republicans are free to withhold support for Trump if they wish, stating:
“The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience (sic). This is a very strange situation. This is a very unique nominee.”
Trump responded, claiming he can win with or without party backing. Its members “need to listen to the American people,” he said. “Let me run for president. I think I’m going to do very well.”
In May, his campaign raised only $3.1 million, compared to $28 million for Clinton. He entered June with $1.3 million on hand, way short of Clinton’s $42 million.
His unorthodox style won millions of adherents during primary season, campaigning one-on-one against Clinton another matter entirely - backed by Wall Street, war-profiteers, most media scoundrels, and other powerful entrenched interests.
He’s at a distinct disadvantage, Clinton the establishment favorite, he an outsider, tolerated at best by GOP party bosses after going all-out to stop him.
America’s political system is notoriously corrupt, candidates for high office pre-selected, outcomes predetermined. 
Will things be rigged to defeat Trump in November, Clinton chosen with electronic ease, voter role purges and other devious tactics assuring her selection? 
Is the process over before it begins? WW II followed Hitler becoming German chancellor, supported by London and Wall Street bankers.
Is world peace up for grabs under Clinton? Is WW III preordained under her leadership? Will humanity’s survival become a coin toss?
The possibility of her succeeding Obama should mobilize mass opposition to stop her.
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.

Does Russia Losing Patience in Syria Signal a Policy Shift?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 21/06/2016 - 22:11
Does Russia Losing Patience in Syria Signal a Policy Shift?
by Stephen Lendman
Putin deserves high praise for wanting conflicts in Syria and Ukraine resolved diplomatically, peace and stability restored, an agenda polar opposite Washington’s.
At the June 16 - 18 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), he highlighted the threat.
Hostile unilateralism doesn’t work, he explained. It’s dangerous, “inevitable” negative “consequences” following, something “nobody wishes…”
“Russia has encountered complete disregard for its stance, including with missile defense and NATO expansion.” Western-supported wars and color revolution produce unacceptable chaos, he stressed.
He vowed support to preserve Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity various times before. Addressing Washington, he said “Russia is not interested in anyone else telling it what to do.”
Restoring mutual EU/Russian trust is essential, he explained, free from undermining US policy.
Days earlier, John Kerry blustered about “Russia need(ing) to understand that (US) patience…is very limited with whether or not Assad is going to be held accountable” for ceasefire violations.
They’re committed virtually entirely by US-supported terrorist groups. Russia’s General Staff head Valery Gerasimov responded appropriately, saying:
“If anyone’s patience on Syria is waning, it is our patience, not the United States. We are in full compliance with our obligations to maintain ceasefire and ensure national reconciliation in Syria.” 
“In the meantime, the American side always has problems with (so-called opposition elements) under its control,” death squad terrorist groups mischaracterized as moderates.
“Whenever we hear claims from the Pentagon (about our not using) communication lines…professionally, it gets clear that they are either ignorant of the existing channels of interaction or get wrong information.”
America is “still undecided whether there are opposition forces and where there are ‘turncoats’ from international terrorist organizations.”
“As a result, terrorists in Syria actively regain strength and tensions soar again. It cannot continue this way indefinitely.”
“In their opinion, missile bombardments of Syrian government troops and communities by militants should be considered by all as ‘insignificant violations’ of the ceasefire.” 
“But any proportionate responses to the militants by the Syrian military are at once declared as disproportionate strikes on the opposition.”
Moscow wants regional peace and stability restored. Washington wants endless war, Assad ousted, Syrian sovereignty destroyed, the country partitioned, and Iran isolated ahead of belligerently challenging its independence the same way.
Do comments by Putin and Gerasimov indicate Russia’s patience wearing thin, a policy shift on Syria coming, unwilling any longer to accept Washington’s belligerent agenda? 
Syria’s fate and the region’s depend on what it intends doing.
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.

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