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Mixed Signals from Washington on Torture

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 27/01/2017 - 22:24
Mixed Signals from Washington on Torture
by Stephen Lendman
Trump’s Secretary of Defense James (“mad dog”) Mattis said it doesn’t work. His CIA director Mike Pompeo believes it does.
Trump said he’s OK with whatever they want, earlier indicating support for waterboarding (torture by any standard) and much worse - believing torture works despite clear evidence otherwise.
It’s used for control and punishment, not as an information obtaining practice. According to Politico, Mattis and Pompeo were “blindsided” by a draft executive order, calling for use of torture.
Bipartisan lawmakers expressed concern, failing to denounce torture and other forms of mistreatment under Bush/Cheney and Obama.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “(i)t’s not a White House document,” adding he “ha(s) no idea where it came from.” Trump didn’t order it, he claimed. He hasn’t seen the draft as far as he knows.
It calls for the DNI to consider continued use of overseas CIA black sites, infamous for brutal torture. Its use breaches fundamental international, constitutional and US statute laws.
The order calls for maintaining Guantanamo as a prison for terrorist suspects captured abroad. It requires the defense secretary and other top national security officials to recommend whether enhanced interrogation techniques should be added to the Army Field Manual.
It says US laws should be obeyed. It’s unclear who wrote the draft order. Lawmakers from both parties issued statements denouncing it.
Ranking Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner (VA) said “any attempt by this administration to restart torture is absolutely unacceptable.”
“I intend to hold nominees, including Director Pompeo and Secretary Mattis, to their sworn testimony to follow the law, banning the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” He’ll hold incoming DNI former senator Dan Coats to the same standard.
An amendment to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) banned torture, limiting interrogation techniques to what approved by the Army Field Manual.
On Thursday, at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia, Senator John Thune said “(w)ith respect to torture, that’s banned.” The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and other international laws prohibited it long ago - at all times, under all conditions, with no allowed exceptions for any reasons.
Separately, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its doomsday clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
On January 26, it issued a statement, attributing the move to “the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States.”
It moved its clock less than a full minute for the first time in its history because he’s been president only for a few days.
It expressed concern over his wanting America’s nuclear arsenal expanded, his strident nationalism, his dismissiveness about climate change, his “intemperate statements,” and questionable appointments, potentially “ma(king) a bad international security situation worse.”
His actions during his first few days in office are great cause for concern. They signal more continuity than responsible change when the latter is so badly needed.
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: How the 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.

Tulsi Gabbard Truth-Telling v. CNN Big Lies on Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 27/01/2017 - 22:07
Tulsi Gabbard Truth-Telling v. CNN Big Lies on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
CNN is a longstanding cesspool of managed news misinformation and Big Lies on all issues mattering most.
Interviewed by Jake Tapper on January 25, her straight talk truth-telling exposed his Big Lies. She explained her “commitment is on ending this war that has caused so much suffering to these Syrian people, to these children, these families, many of whom” she met on a week-long visit.
Tapper lied claiming “Assad used chemical weapons on his own people” - a long ago discredited canard. US-backed terrorists alone used them. 
CNN and other media scoundrels disgracefully blame Assad for their high crimes, including massacring civilians with full US support and encouragement.
Gabbard: Syrians she met in Aleppo and Damascus asked “why is it that the United States, its allies and other countries are providing support, are providing arms to terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al Qaeda, Ahrar ash-Sham, ISIS, who are on the ground there raping, kidnapping, torturing and killing the Syrian people, children, men, women, people of all ages?”
“(W)hy is the United States and its allies supporting these terrorist groups who are destroying Syria…”
Tapper lied claiming Washington and its allies only support so-called moderate rebels.
Gabbard: “Every place that I went, every person that I spoke to, I asked this question to them, and without hesitation they said there are no moderate rebels. Who are these moderate rebels that people keep speaking of?”
They’re all terrorists, “trying to overthrow Assad. The Syrian people…know if President Assad is overthrown, then al Qaeda or a group like al Qaeda that has been killing Christians, killing people simply because of their religion, or because they won’t support their terror activities, they will take charge of all of Syria.”
“This is the reality that the people of Syria are facing on the ground and why they are pleading with us here in the United States to stop supporting these terrorist groups. Let the Syrian people themselves determine their future, not the United States, not some foreign country.”
Tapper cut the interview short. He had no credible response to Gabbard’s hard-hitting, truth-telling - based on her firsthand, fact-finding week-long visit to Syria and Lebanon, discussed in a previous article.
Unlike nearly all others in Washington, when it comes to Syria and US imperialism, she’s on the side of the angels.
What’s badly needed is lots more like her making US policy instead of the usual cast of characters doing so much harm to so many.
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: How the 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.

California Databases Must Not Be Used to Target Immigrants and Muslims

eff.org - Fri, 27/01/2017 - 09:45

The California State Legislature is now considering two bills that would build a database firewall to block the flow of personal information from state and local government to federal efforts to deport immigrants and register people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin. EFF supports both bills because they would prevent abuse of law enforcement and other government databases to target vulnerable communities.

The strongest way to protect civil liberties is to fight for privacy protections for all Californians, regardless of their national origin or immigration status. Please support S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 today.

      

Senate Bill 54, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, would prevent law enforcement agencies in California from sharing department databases or private information with the federal government for immigration enforcement. It would also reduce the amount of personal information that state agencies collect, use, and share about all Californians. Senate Bill 31, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, would prevent local and state government agencies from collecting data, sharing data, or using resources to participate in any program that would create a list or registry of people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin—a direct response to Pres. Trump’s call for a Muslim registry. S.B. 31 would also strictly limit law enforcement from collecting information on a person’s religion.

Each bill goes before a legislative committee on January 31.

Organizational supporters of these bills include the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the California Immigrant Policy Center, the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The Perils of Database Abuse of Immigrants and Muslims

Governments gather all manner of personal information from members of the public, often for seemingly benevolent purposes, and store it in databases. All too often, governments proceed to reuse that information in a manner that hurts these same people. Vulnerable subpopulations suffer most frequently from such database abuse.

The original sin at the dawn of our nation’s database era is the shameful use of stored personal information to round up and intern Japanese Americans during World War II. Specifically, the U.S. Census Bureau shared its supposedly confidential data about the names and addresses of Japanese Americans with the military officials in charge of internment. While the government initially gathered this information for a legitimate purpose, the government wrongfully diverted it to an illegitimate purpose.

Today, many immigrants and their allies fear that the Trump administration will abuse government databases to implement his plan to rapidly deport three million people. A ripe target is the federal database for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under DACA, some 750,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors (often called “Dreamers”) gave their personal information to the federal government in exchange for deferred action from deportation. Now they fear the federal government will reuse the DACA database to find and deport them. Scores of civil rights organizations oppose such database abuse.

Pres. Trump also called for a Muslim registry. Such a database would be illegitimate and illegal at its inception. The Trump administration reportedly is considering the reinstatement of the infamous Bush-era NSEERS database of Muslim immigrants. Civil rights advocates oppose this registry, too.

State and local governments in California possess myriad databases that the Trump administration might try to use to locate and deport immigrants and to register Muslims. Many government agencies (including police, human services, and universities) gather and store a host of personal information (including names, addresses, and social security numbers) from vast numbers of people. Federal data miners could abuse these state and local databases to pursue immigrants and Muslims.

How S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 Would Build a Database Firewall

The time is now to batten down the hatches to prepare for the coming storm.

S.B. 54 would prohibit California law enforcement agencies (including state, local, and school police) from making their databases available to any entity for purposes of immigration enforcement. This ban includes databases maintained for agencies by private vendors. Any entity that obtains database access would be required to certify in writing that they will not use the database for immigration enforcement.

S.B. 54 would also limit how California police agencies gather and share personal information. Specifically, agencies would be barred from collecting information about people’s immigration status. They also would be barred from providing nonpublic personal information (such as home or work address) for immigration enforcement purposes. These rules would advance a data privacy best practice: government agencies should not collect or share personal information except to the extent strictly necessary to do their jobs.

Of equal importance, S.B. 54 would require every state agency in California (not just police) to overhaul their confidentiality policies and identify necessary changes to ensure  they do not collect any more personal information than they need to perform their duties or use or disclose it for any other purposes. Agencies would have six months to generate this review, and the California Attorney General would have three months to draw up model policies for contracts with private vendors. This bill would have an immediate effect on protecting immigrants and Muslims, and would also protect the privacy of all Californians.

S.B. 31, in turn, would prohibit all of California’s state and local agencies from providing personal information from their databases to the federal government for purposes of creating or enforcing a list, registry, or database based on religion, ethnicity, or national origin. Law enforcement also would be barred from collecting information on an individual’s religious beliefs or practices if there isn’t a clear nexus with a criminal investigation. Law enforcement agencies would still be allowed to collect religious information to provide special accommodations, such as religiously appropriate meals in a corrections facility.

In sum, these two bills would block federal efforts to commandeer state and local databases for purposes of deporting immigrants and registering Muslims. While EFF suggested ways to build the California database firewall even higher, we fully endorse the current bill as-is.

Next Steps

For many years, EFF has fought government use of cutting-edge technology to target immigrants. Among other things, we oppose biometric surveillance of immigrant communities, rapid DNA analyzers as a tool of immigration enforcement, and social media monitoring of citizenship applicants and foreign visitors. Likewise, we resist street-level surveillance, such as the broken CalGang database, which all too often has an unfair disparate impact against immigrant communities, as well racial, ethnic, and religious minorities.

In the wake of the Trump inauguration, EFF has redoubled its opposition to high-tech government attacks on our immigrant and Muslim friends and neighbors. The first step is to block database abuse by passing both of these bills.

Please join the coalition to protect our data and tell your lawmakers to support S.B. 54 and S.B. 31 today.


   
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Categories: Aggregated News

ABC News Interviews Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 27/01/2017 - 04:29
ABC News Interviews Trump
by Stephen Lendman
Trump took time off from authorizing executive actions and justifiable scoundrel media bashing to sit down with ABC News’ David Muir at the White House.
Admitting the enormity of his job, he said his responsibility is clear when “talking to the generals about problems in the world.”
They earned stars by being warriors, the more belligerent in multiple conflict theaters, the more they got, the more they want. They advise Trump on wars, lots of them, not peacemaking - not a formula for advancing in rank.
Trump stressed “bring(ing) jobs back to America, like I promised on the campaign trail,” he said. What’s gone isn’t likely coming back. His job ahead is changing the practice of offshoring by working with companies to create more good ones domestically, especially in manufacturing.
Asked about his ill-conceived great wall, he said Mexico will pay for it “in a form…which I will say…(W)e’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico.”
Not according to Mexican President Pena Nieto - in a nationally televised address, saying “I've said time and again; Mexico won’t pay for any wall.”
"I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us.”
He instructed all 50 Mexican consulates in America to aid his country’s immigrants in the US as needed. On Thursday, he cancelled his scheduled Washington visit next week, tweeting “(t)his morning we informed the White House that I will not attend scheduled work meeting for next Tuesday with @POTUS.”
Separately, he called Trump’s great wall “an offense to Mexico, (a) slap in the face, (a) monument of lies.” Strong stuff! Opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged Nieto’s government to sue Washington at the UN for “human rights and racial discrimination” violations.
Trump: “We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country. We have no idea where they're from. And I campaigned on the wall. And it’s very important. But that wall will cost us nothing.”
Fact: Great walls or other barriers won’t stop illicit drugs or people from “pouring into” America. 
Fact: US taxpayers will be stuck with the cost of building a monument to Trump along the 2,000-long mile border with Mexico - wasting billions of dollars vitally needed for healthcare, education and other social services.
Trump: “(W)hat I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico.”
Fact: Walls repressively divide. Sound policies unite, what’s sorely lacking from Washington.
According to Trump, planning on wall construction began, work to begin in months. “We’re gonna have a very solid border,” he stressed.
He claimed three to five million undocumented immigrants voted illegally, offering no evidence proving it. Plenty of evidence proves longstanding electoral fraud in America - dating at least from the 1824 “Corrupt Bargain,” depriving Andrew Jackson of the office he won, handed to John Quincy Adams.
Jackson got a second chance, becoming America’s seventh president in 1828, defeating Adams decisively, winning a second term in 1832.
It’s likely considerable electoral fraud occurred last November, not enough to deprive Trump from the office he won. Lots of evidence showed Hillary stole the Democrat party nomination from Sanders. He knew it, yet yielded without a whimper, supporting Hillary, instead of forthrightly denouncing her.
Trump plans an investigation to determine if electoral fraud occurred. “(W)e’re gonna find out,” he said.
Throughout the interview, Muir badgered him relentlessly, asking too many of the wrong questions. Nothing about Washington’s permanent war agenda. Nothing about its bloated military budget Trump wants increased.
Nothing about Washington serving its privileged class at the expense of most others. Nothing about protracted Main Street Depression conditions. Nothing about repressive police state laws.
Trump accused Muir and US media of “demeaning” him, noting they have a low approval rating among Americans. At CIA headquarters, he said “(t)hey are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” True indeed!
He suggested he’ll authorize torture as an interrogation method. Earlier he said he’d OK waterboarding and much worse. Yesterday, he said “we have to fight fire with fire,” claiming torture works, despite clear evidence showing otherwise.
If war secretary Mattis and CIA director Pompeo want torture, “it’s 100% OK with me,” he said. “Do I think it works? Absolutely” - a disturbing indication of what lies ahead, perhaps back to the future, repeating horrific Bush/Cheney/Obama abuses.
Trump denied his refugee policy constitutes a Muslim ban. Claiming it’s only for countries with a terrorist problem ignores its US creation. Resolving it requires ending support, no longer supplying these fighters with weapons, munitions, funding, training and direction.
Stop importing them from scores of countries. Stop using them as imperial foot soldiers. Fully cooperate with Russia in combating them.
“I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria” and surrounding areas, he said, with little further elaboration - a disturbing revelation, risking direct confrontation with Russia, depending on what he has in mind.
Days after his inauguration, policies he authorized by executive orders and memoranda give pause for concern - after a good start, straightaway pulling out of TPP, the right thing thing to do, an array of deplorable actions following, a troublesome sign to watch to see what comes next.
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: How the 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.

Mass Foggy Bottom Exodus

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 27/01/2017 - 04:02
Mass Foggy Bottom Exodus
by Stephen Lendman
According to the Washington Post, incoming Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job just got tougher, saying:
“The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
Once confirmed, he’ll command a ship minus key crew members. His first order of business is replacing those departing - an inauspicious beginning, maybe prelude for turbulent times ahead if adversarial relations with Russia, China, Iran and other independent countries continue.
Leaving are under secretary for management Patrick Kennedy, assistant secretary for administration Joyce Anne Barr, assistant secretary for consular affairs Michele Bond, and office of foreign missions director Gentry Smith.
All are career foreign service officers. In addition, assistant secretary for diplomatic security Gregory Starr retired on January 20. Bureau of overseas building operations Lydia Muniz left the same day.
These officials are responsible for managing the State Department, its overseas posts and staff, WaPo explained. According to John Kerry’s chief of staff David Wade, “(i)t’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate.”
“Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
These departures “are a big loss. They leave a big void. These are very difficult people to replace.”
What’s going on? Will the pattern repeat at other federal agencies? Is it part of a scheme to undermine Trump’s ability to govern effectively? Is it a shot across the bow, warning him against going his own way on key domestic and geopolitical policies?
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: How the 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.

Trump at War with Islam

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 22:56
Trump at War with Islam
by Stephen Lendman
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “(b)ig day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among other things, we will build the wall.”
He also temporarily (likely indefinitely) banned Muslim immigration from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on the phony pretext of preventing Islamic terrorist attacks - Judeo/Christian immigration from these countries permitted, clear state-sponsored racism.
No terrorist attacks occurred on US soil in modern memory. Ones attributed to Muslims were state-sponsored false flags, including 9/11.
America needs enemies to justify its imperial agenda. None exist, so they’re invented. Muslim Arabs are the nation’s enemy of choice, wrongfully portrayed as stereotypically violent, fanatical and dangerous.
Trump’s actions on border security and immigration enforcement wrongfully states undocumented “aliens…present a significant threat to national security and public safety.”
Separately, he said it’s not a blanket Muslim ban, falsely claiming “(y)ou’re looking at people that come in many cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that.” 
“They’re ISIS. They’re coming in under false pretense. I don’t want that…We are excluding certain countries but for others (including Afghanistan) we’ll have extreme vetting.”
“I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria,” he said - with little further elaboration. Anything interfering with Russian and Syrian operations against terrorists risks direct confrontation between the world’s two dominant nuclear powers.
Saying he’ll create “a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding regions in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third country resettlement” sounds ominously like what Hillary Clinton proposed, along with instituting a no-fly zone, an illegal scheme Russia won’t tolerate.
Commenting on Trump’s actions, Council on American-Islamic Relations executive director Nihad Awad minced no words, saying “(t)hese orders are a disturbing confirmation of Islamophobic and un-American policy proposals made during the presidential election campaign.”
“Never before in our country’s history have we purposely, as a matter of policy, imposed a ban on immigrants or refugees on the basis of religion.”
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights president Wade Henderson explained “(a)ctions to build a wall around us, criminalize a religion, and to strike fear in the heart of immigrants make Trump’s America look more like a police state than (a) republic…”
Washington created and supports ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups, using their fighters as imperial foot soldiers. It’s unknown if Trump intends continuing what his predecessors began or going another way as his campaign rhetoric suggested.
In December 2015, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” maintaining a ban “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” adding:
“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
There’s no mystery about what’s going on. As long as Washington and its rogue allies support these groups, violence will rage where they’re located.
Candidate Trump pledged to wage war on terrorism. Ending support for this scourge is the best way to do it. Otherwise, expect phony war and lots of it.
Separately, AP News said his administration is reviewing how it’ll wage war on terrorism, including using CIA black site torture prisons abroad - “according to a draft executive order obtained by the Associated Press.”
It orders “the Pentagon to send newly captured ‘enemy combatants’ to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of closing the detention facility…”
It could continue Bush/Cheney/Obama administration horrors. It “instructs top national security officers to ‘recommend to the president whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States and whether such program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.’ “
It says US laws should be obeyed and rejects “torture.” CIA black sites aren’t known for kinder, gentler treatment. Torture and other forms of ill-treatment accomplish nothing. Victims say anything to stop pain.
While campaigning, Trump said he’d authorize waterboarding (torture) and a “hell of a lot worse.” If AP’s report is accurate, cruel and inhuman treatment may be part of his agenda - strictly prohibited by international law, automatically US law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).
The draft document AP obtained said Guantanamo remains “a critical tool in the fight against international jihadist terrorist groups who are engaged in armed conflict with the United States, its allies and its coalition partners.”
Candidate Trump promised to “load it up with some bad dudes.” His agenda is slowly unfolding. Targeting Muslims unfairly is a very disturbing sign, a policy vital to oppose.
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: How the 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.

Trump's Ill-Conceived Great Wall

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 22:42
Trump’s Ill-Conceived Great Wall
by Stephen Lendman
Fortress Israel reveals the delusion and folly of great wall protection, encircling the country irresponsibly, spending billions of dollars, escalating apartheid ruthlessness, accomplishing nothing except greater hostility between Arabs and Jews.
Trump’s proposed great wall along America’s southern border is ill-conceived. It risks harming relations with Mexico. 
It’s counterproductive, unlikely to stem the immigration tide. Desperate people, harmed by the ravages of NAFTA and other issues, will continue heading north. 
They’ll breach the great wall, tunnel under it, or travel by water to reach America’s west or gulf coasts - the way Middle East and North African refugees and asylum seekers reach Europe.
Trump saying “(a) nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders” is demagogic bluster. His 10-point plan includes:
“1. Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one. Mexico will pay for the wall.
2. End catch-and-release. Under a Trump administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.
3. Move criminal aliens out day one, in joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement. We will terminate the Obama administration’s deadly, non-enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam our streets.
4. End sanctuary cities.
5. Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties. All immigration laws will be enforced - we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the US illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.
6. Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur, until proven and effective vetting mechanisms can be put into place.
7. Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
8. Ensure that a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system is fully implemented at all land, air, and sea ports.
9. Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet. Many immigrants come to the US illegally in search of jobs, even though federal law prohibits the employment of illegal immigrants.
10. Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers, keeping immigration levels within historic norms.”
Separately saying “(t)he day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc. We are going to get them out, and we’re going to get them out fast” is a declaration of war on Latino and Muslim immigrants, human beings deserving respect and compassion.
He wants 5,000 more Border Patrol agents (increasing their numbers to 26,000), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents tripled to 15,000 - money misspent, vitally needed for healthcare, education and other vital social services.
His executive order states his Homeland Security secretary “shall take all appropriate action and allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.”
It includes a detailed menu of what he wants accomplished. His actions against Latinos and Muslims assure making more enemies than friends. They’re ill-conceived, likely doomed to fail.
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: How the 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.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Against Imperial War on Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 22:22
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Against Imperial War on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
If Washington had more Gabbards and less neocons, world peace might break out all over - polar opposite America’s longstanding permanent war agenda, humanity’s scourge.
On Wednesday, she issued a press release, calling for ending Washington’s “regime change war in Syria now.” She spent a week-long fact-finding visit to Damascus, Aleppo and Beirut, learning firsthand what’s been going on, so adversely affecting the lives and welfare of millions of devastated Syrians - victims of US imperial viciousness.
She met with refugees, opposition leaders, Lebanon’s president and prime minister, religious figures, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, among others.
“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people,” she stressed.
“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.”
“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.” 
“We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists - directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups.” 
“We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.”   
“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the US has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.”
“The US must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The US and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”
In a separate commentary, she explained Syrians “desperately want peace…Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent.”
“There is no difference between (so-called) ‘moderate’ rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS - they are all the same,” they said…They cr(ied) out for the US and other countries to stop supporting those who are destroying Syria and her people.”
“I heard this message over and over again from those who have suffered and survived unspeakable horrors,” Gabbard said. 
“They asked that I share their voice with the world; frustrated voices which have not been heard due to the false, one-sided biased reports pushing a narrative that supports this regime change war at the expense of Syrian lives.”
Strong words, virtually unheard in Washington throughout six years of US naked aggression against a nation threatening no one, responsible for mass slaughter, vast destruction and unspeakable human misery - one of history’s great crimes.
Candidate Trump opposed US interventionism, said he wanted to combat terrorism, not topple foreign governments.
It’s put up or shut up time. Is he a man of his word or just another dirty politician - promising one thing, doing another?
Nothing is more important than ending America’s war on humanity - in Syria, elsewhere abroad, and right here at home against the nation’s most vulnerable.
Ending this scourge should be his top priority, along with working cooperatively with all nations, as well as pursuing equity and justice for everyone.
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: How the 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.

Racist Lunatics Run the Israeli Asylum

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 22:00
Racist Lunatics Run the Israeli Asylum
by Stephen Lendman
With Trump’s election, Netanyahu and likeminded extremists are free to do whatever they please - no matter how ruthless, lawless, or viciously undemocratic, and make no mistake. They intend taking full advantage.
Netanyahu called authorizing 2,500 new West Bank settlement units on Tuesday, a “taste” of things to come. “We are going to be doing many things differently from now on,” he roared.
Maybe he intends escalating slow-motion genocide against defenseless Palestinians. Nothing he does surprises, a world-class thug turned loose with full Trump backing.
Last Sunday, a Jerusalem planning committee approved construction of 566 housing units in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian part of the city being ethnically cleansed to accommodate greater numbers of Jews.
In its early days, the Trump administration failed to condemn announced settlement expansions on stolen Palestinian land. “We’re building and will continue to build, Netanyahu blustered.
Palestinians condemned newly announced construction, calling it “land theft and colonialism.” Peaceful conflict resolution looks more distant now than in recent memory - occupation harshness toughened with US approval.
On Tuesday, war minister Avigdor Lieberman previewed what may be coming, saying no “matter where the next conflict breaks out,” Israel will wage it “full strength” - code language for mercilessly, defenseless civilians harmed most in all Israeli wars of aggression, blockaded Gazans the prime target.
Lieberman criticized what he called the “over-involvement of world powers, especially Europe,” calling it “disrupting (and) complicat(ing) things.”
Lunatics running Israel want no one interfering in their ruthlessness. Media scoundrels largely ignore it. The world community does nothing to stop 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: How the 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.

Fear Materialized: Border Agents Demand Social Media Data from Americans

eff.org - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 14:42

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently filed complaints against U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for, in part, demanding social media information from Muslim American citizens returning home from traveling abroad. According to CAIR, CBP accessed public posts by demanding social media handles, and potentially accessed private posts by demanding cell phone passcodes and perusing social media apps. And border agents allegedly physically abused one man who refused to hand over his unlocked phone.

CBP recently began asking foreign visitors to the U.S. from Visa Waiver Countries for their social media identifiers. Last fall we filed our own comments opposing the policy, and joined two sets of coalition comments, one by the Center for Democracy & Technology and the other by the Brennan Center for Justice. Notably, CBP explained that it was only seeking publicly available social media data, “consistent with the privacy settings the applicant has set on the platforms.”

We raised concerns that the policy would be extended to cover Americans and private data. It appears our fears have come true far faster than we expected. Specifically, we wrote:

It would be a series of small steps for CBP to require all those seeking to enter the U.S.—both foreign visitors and U.S. citizens and residents returning home—to disclose their social media handles to investigate whether they might have become a threat to homeland security while abroad. Or CBP could subject both foreign visitors and U.S. persons to invasive device searches at ports of entry with the intent of easily accessing any and all cloud data; CBP could then access both public and private online data—not just social media content and contacts that may or may not be public (e.g., by perusing a smartphone’s Facebook app), but also other private communications and sensitive information such as health or financial status.

We believe that the CBP practices against U.S. citizens alleged by CAIR violate the Constitution. Searching through Americans’ social media data and personal devices intrudes upon both First and Fourth Amendment rights.

CBP’s 2009 policy on border searches of electronic devices is woefully out of date. It does not contemplate how accessing social media posts and other communications—whether public or private—creates chilling effects on freedom of speech, including the First Amendment right to speak anonymously, and the freedom of association.

Nor does the policy recognize the significant privacy invasions of accessing private social media data and other cloud content that is not publicly viewable. In claiming that its program of screening the social media accounts of Visa Waiver Program visitors does not bypass privacy settings, CBP is paying more heed to the rights of foreigners than American citizens.

Finally, the CBP policy does not address recent court decisions that limit the border search exception, which permits border agents to conduct “routine” searches without a warrant or individualized suspicion (contrary to the general Fourth Amendment rule requiring a warrant based on probable cause for government searches and seizures). These new legal rulings place greater Fourth Amendment restrictions on border searches of digital devices that contain highly personal information. 

As we recently explained:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in U.S. v. Cotterman (2013) held that border agents needed to have reasonable suspicion—somewhere between no suspicion and probable cause—before they could conduct a “forensic” search, aided by sophisticated software, of the defendant’s laptop….

The Supreme Court held in Riley v. California (2014) that the police may not invoke another exception to the warrant requirement, the search-incident-to-arrest exception, to search a cell phone possessed by an arrestee—instead, the government needs a probable cause warrant. The Court stated, “Our holding, of course, is not that the information on a cell phone is immune from search; it is instead that a warrant is generally required before such a search, even when a cell phone is seized incident to arrest.”

Although Riley was not a border search case, the Riley rule should apply at the border, too. Thus, CBP agents should be required to obtain a probable cause warrant before searching a cell phone or similar digital device.

Both Riley and Cotterman recognized that the weighty privacy interests in digital devices are even weightier when law enforcement officials use these devices to search cloud content. A digital device is not an ordinary “effect” akin to a piece of luggage or wallet, but rather is a portal into an individual’s entire life, much of which is online.

The Ninth Circuit wrote:

With the ubiquity of cloud computing, the government’s reach into private data becomes even more problematic. In the “cloud,” a user’s data, including the same kind of highly sensitive data one would have in “papers” at home, is held on remote servers rather than on the device itself. The digital device is a conduit to retrieving information from the cloud, akin to the key to a safe deposit box. Notably, although the virtual “safe deposit box” does not itself cross the border, it may appear as a seamless part of the digital device when presented at the border.

And the Supreme Court wrote:

To further complicate the scope of the privacy interests at stake, the data a user views on many modern cell phones may not in fact be stored on the device itself. Treating a cell phone as a container whose contents may be searched incident to an arrest is a bit strained as an initial matter…. But the analogy crumbles entirely when a cell phone is used to access data located elsewhere, at the tap of a screen. That is what cell phones, with increasing frequency, are designed to do by taking advantage of “cloud computing.” Cloud computing is the capacity of Internet-connected devices to display data stored on remote servers rather than on the device itself. Cell phone users often may not know whether particular information is stored on the device or in the cloud, and it generally makes little difference.

The Riley Court went on to state:

The United States concedes that the search incident to arrest exception may not be stretched to cover a search of files accessed remotely—that is, a search of files stored in the cloud…. Such a search would be like finding a key in a suspect’s pocket and arguing that it allowed law enforcement to unlock and search a house.

Thus, the border search exception also should not be “stretched to cover” social media or other cloud data, particularly that which is protected by privacy settings and thus not publicly viewable. In other words, a border search of a traveler’s cloud content is not “routine” and thus should not be allowed in the absence of individualized suspicion. Indeed, border agents should heed the final words of the unanimous Riley decision: “get a warrant.”

We hope CBP will fully and fairly investigate CAIR’s grave allegations and provide a public explanation. We also urge the agency to change its outdated policy on border searches of electronic devices to comport with recent developments in case law. Americans should not fear having their entire digital lives unreasonably exposed to the scrutiny of the federal government simply because they travel abroad.

Related Cases: United States v. Saboonchi
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Vote for EFF on CREDO's January Ballot

eff.org - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 10:38

EFF is one of the three non-profits featured in CREDO's giving pool this month. If you're a CREDO customer or member of its action network, vote for EFF before the end of the month to help direct as much as $150,000 to support the defense of digital civil liberties!

Since its founding, CREDO members have raised more than $81 million for different charities. Each month, CREDO selects three groups to receive a portion of donations that the selected nonprofits then use to drive positive change. CREDO customers generate funds as they use paid services—like making phone calls or using credit cards—and members can vote on how to distribute donations among the selected charities. The more votes a group receives, the higher its share of that month's donations.

EFF is proud to stand alongside organizations that defend users' rights. Last fall, CREDO revealed that EFF had been representing them in a long legal battle over the constitutionality of national security letters (NSLs). The FBI has issued unknown numbers of NSL demands for companies' customer information without a warrant or court supervision; NSLs are typically accompanied by a gag order, making it difficult for the recipients to complain or resist. Until recently, such a gag prevented CREDO from disclosing it had received two NSLs in 2013. However, in March, a district court found that the FBI had failed to demonstrate the need for this particular gag, allowing CREDO to explain why the legal challenge is important to the company and its customers.

We are honored to be one of January's charities, and we hope you will vote for us. You can also support our work by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook or just becoming an EFF member!


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Shadow Regulation Around the World

eff.org - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 07:24
A Look at Copyright Enforcement Agreements

For close to 20 years, online copyright enforcement has taken place under a predictable set of legal rules, based around taking down allegedly infringing material in response to complaints from rights holders. In the United States, these rules are in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and in Europe they are part of the E-Commerce Directive. In a nutshell, both sets of rules protect web platforms from liability for copyright infringement for material that they host, until they receive a formal notice about the claimed infringement from the copyright holder. This system is imperfect, and has resulted in many mistaken or bad faith takedowns. But as imperfect as the rules are, the fact that they are established by law at least means that they are pretty clear and well understood. That may be about to change.

Around the world, big media lobbyists are pushing for changes to the way copyright is enforced online, and they're focusing on new codes of conduct or industry agreements, rather than new laws. In particular, we have written in depth about Europe's plans to force platforms to enter into private agreements with copyright holders to filter files that users upload to the web, something that copyright holders would also like to see done in the United States. They're pushing this new upload filtering mandate through private agreements to avoid the long and divisive process of developing such requirements through laws debated in parliaments, regulations made on public record, or a balanced multi-stakeholder process.

The problem with this approach is that the more that we rely on private agreements to create a regime of content regulation, the less transparent and accountable that regime becomes. That's why EFF is highly skeptical of this backdoor approach to regulating, which we call Shadow Regulation. Copyright enforcement measures through Shadow Regulation are taking shape around the world. Here are a few examples:

  • Tracking peer to peer downloads
    The United Kingdom is about to launch a new industry program that requires participating ISPs to deliver educational emails to users who are accused of using their connection to share copyright infringing files. This program is the UK's equivalent of the United States' Copyright Alert System, and just like that system, it subjects users to intrusive tracking of their online behavior by the private agents of copyright holders. Unlike the U.S. system, the educational emails to users will not result in any action to slow or suspend the accounts of accused users. 
  • DNS blocking
    Since 2015, Portugal has had a code of voluntary enforcement for copyright infringement that requires ISPs to institute DNS-level blocking of allegedly copyright-infringing websites. No court order is required to verify the websites put forward for blocking, which are identified by copyright associations and rubber-stamped by Portugal's General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC). If this sounds a little like SOPA, you'd be right—and it's even worse because it wasn't passed by elected Portuguese lawmakers, but by a shadowy private agreement.
  • Privatized notice and takedown
    Numerous other countries including Belgium [PDF, French], Malaysia, and South Africa, have industry codes of conduct detailing procedures for the removal of allegedly unlawful content by Internet content hosts. In some cases this includes copyrighted material, and in other cases it's reserved only for other types of unlawful content (for example, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit focuses on the voluntary removal of terrorist material). Because these removals are negotiated under a private and notionally "voluntary" agreement, they are not subject to judicial review as removals ordered by a court would be.

These agreements, and others like them, have established a bad precedent, giving a veneer of respectability to the movement in Europe to establish upload filtering system through similar "voluntary" agreements. Indeed, the more we rely on such private agreements to construct our copyright enforcement system, the more difficult it becomes to push back against further such agreements and to demand that copyright enforcement take place within a predictable, balanced, and accountable legal framework.

Copyright enforcement online is already plenty tough already, and the level of infringement that remains poses no real threat to the record profits of the movie and music industries. Therefore, there's no need for new copyright enforcement measures at all—indeed, dealing with the problems of the enforcement measures that we already have is keeping EFF busy enough.

But, the reality is that proposals for more copyright enforcement measures are already on the table in Europe, and looming in the United States. If we have to face such new copyright enforcement proposals, we would much rather do this in a forum that is inclusive, balanced and accountable than by having these proposals emerge fully-formed from an impenetrable black box, negotiated by industry insiders and lobbyists. Shadow Regulation is never an appropriate mechanism for crafting new copyright enforcement rules. If new rules ever become necessary, their only legitimacy can come from the inclusion of user representatives and other affected stakeholders at every step of the process.


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6 Questions with EFF's New Staff Technologist Erica Portnoy

eff.org - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 04:22

EFF is happy to welcome our newest Staff Technologist Erica Portnoy. Erica is joining EFF's technology projects team, a group of technologists and computer scientists engineering responses to the problems of third-party tracking, inconsistent encryption, and other threats to users' privacy and security online. Erica earned her BSE in computer science at Princeton, and comes to EFF with experience in messaging privacy, searchable encryption, and tech policy and civil rights.

I asked Erica a few questions about her background and what she'll be working on at EFF.

What are you most excited about working on this year?

I'm excited to be working on Certbot, EFF's Let's Encrypt client. We're gradually working towards stability and the long tail of usage cases. I'm hoping to get it so that it just works for as many people as possible, so they can get and install their certificates 100% painlessly.

What drew you to EFF?

EFF's tech projects team is doing the uncommon work of making direct, concrete, technical contributions to improving people's safety online. Plus, everyone who works here is the nicest person you'll ever meet, which I promise is not logically inconsistent.

What kind of research did you do before coming to EFF?

My previous work involved experimenting with cryptographically-enforced privacy for cloud services. So I've worked with ORAM and encrypted search and SGX, to drop some jargon.

What advice would you have for users trying to secure their communications?

If you are only going to do one thing, use a password manager and diceware. I use the one built into Chrome, with a sync passphrase set up. No one's going to bother exploiting a million-dollar bug if your password is the same as the one you used for a service that was recently breached.

But more broadly, this is a hard issue, and the best thing to do is different for every individual. Definitely look at our Surveillance Self-Defense guide for more in-depth recommendations.

On another side of that, what should tech companies be doing to protect their users? How can users hold them accountable?

Especially now, companies can't absolve themselves of the responsibility for their users by claiming, "Well, high-risk users shouldn't be using our product." If a company makes a product that is used by people in high-risk situations, it is their duty to protect their users by offering the ability to turn on security features.

But that's the bare minimum. A system should neither compute nor retain information that could harm its users, and organizations that might have this data must also fight to protect people on a legal front.

As for users, making your voice heard will inform design decisions. Leave a one-star review on an application distrubution platform, like the Play Store or App Store, and include specific details of how the design decision in the product is harmful to your safety or the safety of those you care about. Do the same thing on Twitter. It's hard to prioritize features without knowing what people want to see.

How much are you loving EFF's dog-friendly offices?

90% of why I'm not a TGIF person is because Neko doesn't come in on Fridays. The other 10% is because Neko won't be there on the weekend, either.


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Police State Tactics Target Independent Journalists Covering Anti-Trump Protests

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 01:23
Police State Tactics Target Independent Journalists Covering Anti-Trump Protests
by Stephen Lendman
First Amendment rights are too precious to lose. Without them, all others are at risk.
On January 20, six independent journalists were arrested in Washington for doing their jobs - covering protests during Trump’s inauguration.
They committed no crimes, yet face possible prosecution and imprisonment. The affected journalists include documentary producer Jack Keller, independent photojournalist Shay Horse, independent journalist Matt Hopard, free lance reporter Aaron Cantu, Vocativ journalist Evan Enger, and RT America’s Alexander Rubinstein.
RT International reported the story, explaining Rubenstein was wrongfully charged with inciting a riot. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years imprisonment and can be fined as much as $25,000. RT’s press office blasted what happened, issuing a statement, saying:
“The arrest and subsequent felony rioting charge against our reporter, Alexander Rubinstein, simply for doing his job - covering inauguration protests in Washington DC - is an absolute outrage.” 
“Such acts represent an egregious violation of journalistic freedom, and are particularly disheartening to witness in the country that positions itself as the global champion of free press.”
“RT will apply the full weight of its legal team in support of our journalist and we are confident that a thorough review by the US Attorney’s office will confirm that Alexander, who wore his press credentials at all times, was wrongfully arrested.”
Brutalizing protesters is commonplace in US cities, notably against global justice, anti-war, and Occupy Wall Street activists in recent years - flagrantly violating constitutional and international law.
On inauguration day, police made over 200 arrests. A DC National Lawyers’ Guild statement on its web site said police “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone.”
“These illegal acts are clearly designed to chill the speech of protesters engaging in First Amendment activity.” They reflect how police states operate.
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: How the 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.

Syrian Opposition Groups Invited to Mosow

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 26/01/2017 - 01:10
Syrian Opposition Groups Invited to Moscow
by Stephen Lendman
Ahead of next month’s continued peace talks in Geneva next, Sergey Lavrov invited representatives from Syrian opposition groups to meet with him in Moscow on January 27.
Earlier in Astana, Kazakhstan, head of Russia’s delegation to peace talks, Alexander Lavrentyev, indicated they’d be coming.
The Astana meeting established a mechanism to monitor ceasefire, prelude to more substantive talks in Geneva, possibly as early as February 8. 
Some reports indicated later in the month. It’s unknown if groups not in Astana will be attending. ISIS and al-Nusra are excluded. Combating them continues.
On Wednesday, Lavrov said besides “direct contacts between the Syrian government and representatives of the armed opposition, our delegation, which included representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry, also held several direct meetings with representatives of the armed opposition, discussing with them the prospects of joint fight against terrorism in Syria, above all, the IS.”
“That is, the Syrian government, the Russian Aerospace Forces and armed opposition groups are essentially ready to pool efforts and carry out strikes against IS positions in Syria’s regions that are still under their control.”
Commenting on the just concluded Astana meeting, Lavrov optimistically said its results achieved a “new level” of efforts to try resolving Syria’s long-running conflict.
Moscow is increasing cooperation with Iran and Turkey - hopefully Washington joining in if Trump keeps his promise to combat ISIS (and by inference other terrorist groups) jointly with Moscow.
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: How the 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.

Disturbing US Anti-China Saber Rattling

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/01/2017 - 22:53
Disturbing US Anti-China Saber Rattling 
by Stephen Lendman
Saber rattling by Trump administration officials on China give pause for concern, continuing Obama’s hostile approach, risking direct confrontation if not curbed.
At his Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson recklessly said “(w)e are going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
He belligerently accused China of “declaring control of territories…not rightfully” its own. Secretary of Defense James (“mad dog”) Mattis defiantly said Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea threaten the global order…”under the biggest attack since world war two…”
On Wednesday, China’s Global Times published a Xinhua commentary “urg(ing) (the) US to watch how it talks about the South China Sea issue,” its islands and territorial waters.
Beijing was angered by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, saying “it's a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China property, then yeah, we're going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said Beijing is committed to defend its islands, adjacent waters, maritime rights and sovereignty while pursuing regional peace and stability.
On Monday, acting South Korea President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn confirmed US plans to install provocative Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems on its territory - aimed at China and Russia, a nonexistent North Korea threat cited as pretext.
Beijing responded to US provocations initiated by Obama, continuing under Trump, by deploying advanced DF-41 ICBMs in Heilongjiang province bordering Russia - able to strike America with multiple thermonuclear warheads, perhaps additional deployments to follow elsewhere in the country.
China’s Global Times suggested the deployment coincided with Trump’s inauguration, “respond(ing) to (his) provocative remarks on trade, its currency and offshored US jobs.
“Beijing will ready itself for pressures imposed by the new US government,” said GT. “China bears the heavy task of safeguarding (its) national security.”
“(H)ow can China be content with its current nuclear strength when it is viewed by the US as its biggest potential opponent?”
“China’s nuclear capability should be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown with China under any circumstance, and such that China can strike back against those militarily provoking it. A military clash with the US is the last thing China wants, but China’s nuclear arsenal must be able to deter the US.”
Responding to Beijing’s deployment, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “(w)e do not regard China’s efforts to develop its armed forces as a threat, and even if…information (about deploying ICBMs near Russia’s border) is true, we see no risks for our country.”
“China is our strategic ally and our partner in political, trading and economic term. We appreciate our relations,” Peskov stressed.
Trump has been in office less than a week. His policy agenda toward China hasn’t been revealed so far by specific actions.
If hostile rhetoric by him and key administration officials is indicative of things to come, it will adversely affect US relations with China, Russia and perhaps other countries.
World peace remains threatened as long as US geopolitics remains confrontational. Brinksmanship between thermonuclear powers is a potential doomsday scenario if pursued.
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: How the 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.

Trump Threatens Intervention to Stop Chicago Carnage

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/01/2017 - 22:42
Trump Threatens Intervention to Stop Chicago Carnage
by Stephen Lendman
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted “(i)f Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on…I will send in the Feds!” In his inauguration day address, he said “(t)his American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Earlier this month, he said if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel “can’t do it, he must ask for federal help.”
He said nothing about deep poverty in Chicago’s Black and Latino communities, nothing about the city notoriously called the police repression capital of America, nothing about its west side Gitmo, the equivalent of a CIA black site, brutalizing suspects secretly, nothing about hundreds of police shootings.
He made no mention of the 10th Amendment, stating “(t)he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
If states or cities violate US laws, intervention is warranted, otherwise not unless requested. Chicago is a hotbed of shootings and other violence, largely in inner city Black and Latino communities, much of it gang related, too much the result of longstanding racist policies.
Cities and towns nationwide are affected, not just Chicago. The “city of big shoulders” stands out because things are worse there than elsewhere - city cops part of the problem, not the solution.
Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson issued a statement, saying his department “is more than willing to work with the federal government to build on our partnerships with DOJ, FBI, DEA, and ATF and boost federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago.”
Through January 24, a city police spokesman reported 234 shootings, including 38 fatal ones, the numbers slightly higher than the same 2016 period. Last year, 762 homicides occurred, more than in New York and Los Angeles combined.
In mid-January, the Obama Justice Department accused the Chicago Police Department of rampant corruption and excessive force, terrorizing the city’s most vulnerable. The problem goes right to the top in City Hall.
City cops serve and protect Chicago’s privileged alone while inner city Blacks and Latinos are systematically brutalized.
Sending in the marines or national guard won’t change things. Social, economic and political justice is the only solution.
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: How the 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.

Trump's Election Hasn't Stopped Anti-Russia Propaganda

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/01/2017 - 22:15
Trump’s Election Hasn’t Stopped Anti-Russia Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
Trump wants better relations with Russia, believing he and Vladimir Putin can get along. So far, his rhetorical shift in US policy hasn’t stopped state-sponsored anti-Russia propaganda.
Brian Whitmore is a US Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty Russophobic propagandist. In response to Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov’s assassination, he danced on his grave, saying in less than so many words he got what he deserved.
He puts out militantly anti-Russia rubbish on a site called the Daily Vertical - featured by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, part of America’s global propaganda disservice. 
His latest is titled “Putin Thinks He Is Winning,” a pathetic tirade no more credible than nonexistent “Russian aggression,” saying “Moscow is stepping up its attempts to destabilize Europe, with Germany, Sweden, France, and Italy all witnessing a sharp uptick in disinformation campaigns, fake news, and political meddling.”
It’s “stirring up trouble in the Baltics.” It’s “backing a coup attempt in Montenegro…(It’s) provoking tensions in Kosovo, encouraging extremists in Serbia, and promoting separatism in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska.”
Propaganda is easy to recognize. When accusations and allegations lack credible evidence backing them, bet on them being groundless. 
Whitmore presents none - just provocative bluster with no proof. None exists. He’s not through. “The Kremlin is confident that its cherished goal of a sphere of influence in the former Soviet space is within reach,” he ranted.
It’s “bullying…Georgia and Ukraine. It’s “saber-rattling with the Baltics…(T)his is a very, very dangerous moment.”
Whitmore’s copy reads like a rejected amateurishly produced grade D film plot - another tired old impossible to believe Russian are coming ruse. Whitmore can’t even lie well. Ignore him.
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: How the 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.

Europe's Parliamentary Assembly Accuses Israel of Murder

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 25/01/2017 - 21:54
Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Accuses Israel of Murder
by Stephen Lendman
Longstanding Israeli viciousness against defenseless Palestinians exceeds the worst of Saudi Arabia’s high crimes - an apartheid system far worse than South Africa’s, affecting millions of occupied people and Arab citizens.
Based on a Council of Europe report addressing humanitarian crisis conditions in Gaza, its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) passed a resolution by a 46 to 12 majority, blaming Israel for “systematic unlawful killings.”
The report accused Israel of ruthlessly using “excessive and intentional force without justification against Palestinian civilians in the buffer zone, including against farmers, journalists, medical crews and peaceful protesters…blatantly (violating) human rights principles and the international law-enforcement standards.”
“Cases of the deliberate fatal shooting of individuals who posed no imminent danger to life amounts to an appalling pattern of apparently systematic unlawful killings.”
It also accused Israel of “a massive and exceptional escalation in…attacks and harassment of Palestinian fishermen, including use of live fire.”
It explained they’re “reduced to severe poverty and unemployment as a direct result of Israel’s policies and practices against them.”
It discussed horrors inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Israel’s summer 2014 aggression, the ravages of the conflict still affecting many thousands.
It called for ending Israel’s blockade - illegal by any standard, imposed solely for political reasons, not security related.
The problem with these type reports, Security Council resolutions and other international actions citing Israeli lawlessness is they lack teeth.
Throughout its sordid history, no international enforcement mechanism ever held Israel accountable for any of its high crimes.
Instead, Washington provides billions of dollars in annual military aid. Both countries partner in each other’s wars. 
Lip service alone is paid to occupation harshness, nothing done for nearly seven decades to change things. 
Israel is free to do whatever it pleases - perhaps freer than ever given Trump’s one-sided support, Palestinian rights ignored.
On Sunday, Netanyahu announced unlimited illegal settlement construction in East Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Israel’s war ministry said 2,500 new West Bank settlement units will be built - on stolen Palestinian land.
No comment from Trump. When asked about expanding settlements, White House press secretary Sean Spicer ducked the issue, saying “Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States.”
Trump intends closer relations “to make sure it gets the full respect in the Middle East.”
Netanyahu knows he’s free to do whatever he wants with impunity. Palestinians know they have no friend in Washington - not earlier or now.
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: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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