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Dangerous Trend in U.S. Courts May Have Consequences For Online Speech

eff.org - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 08:26

One of our most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet—a law that shields websites and other Internet service providers from being held responsible for content that comes from users or third parties—has been under fire in recent years. The law, 47 U.S.C. § 230, a provision of the Communication Decency Act, was designed to encourage the development of new communication technologies and to protect free speech and the open exchange of ideas online. Just like you can’t hold a library liable for defamation for a statement written in a book you check out, or for hacking after someone breaks into a computer after learning how to do so from a library book, under Section 230, you can't hold a website liable for the speech of others.

But a dangerous trend has emerged over the last few years in lawsuits involving the statute: courts carving out various categories of behavior as beyond the scope of the statute’s immunity. This trend threatens to slowly whittle away the vast protection Section 230 provides for online freedom of expression.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took this route in a recent opinion in Doe v. Internet Brands, which held that Section 230 did not immunize a networking website from a “failure to warn” claim. The Ninth Circuit held that Section 230 “is not an all purpose get-out-of-jail-free card”; it only applies when someone is trying to hold a service provider liable for third party content. And the court concluded that wasn’t the case in Doe v. Internet Brands.

In the case, the website, Internet Brands-owned modelmayhem.com, failed to alert its users that two individuals, Lavont Flanders and Emerson Callum, were using the site to lure and attack women. The plaintiff fell victim to the two men’s disturbing scheme after Internet Brands was well aware of how they were using the website to find victims. She sued, arguing that Internet Brands had a legal duty to warn her and other users about this known threat and that Internet Brands had violated that duty. The website countered that Section 230 immunized it from liability. The district court agreed with Internet Brands, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding in an initial decision that Section 230 did not immunize the website from the failure to warn claim. And on May 31, 2016—after withdrawing its original opinion and rehearing the case—the court doubled down on its holding.  

According to the court, Section 230 immunity did not apply because the plaintiff’s claims were based on Internet Brand’s own conduct—its failure to act—given information it had learned offline, rather than through content posted on its own platform by its users. The court’s second opinion, which was almost identical to its first, stressed that the website had learned about Flanders and Callum via an “outside source,” not from monitoring content posted on its site, and that it knew criminal charges had been filed against the two men. The men, who victimized about 100 women via their scheme, were each ultimately sentenced to 12 consecutive life terms.

There is some logical appeal to the court’s reasoning. But it is nevertheless concerning because any duty the website purportedly has to warn its users only exists because of its status as a conduit or middleman for user-generated content. Any separation between the website’s role as a platform for user content and as an entity with a duty to its users regarding their use of the site seems artificial.

Because the court found that Section 230 doesn’t shield Internet Brands from liability, the plaintiff’s lawsuit will go forward. The district court will now consider whether the website actually had a duty to warn its users in this context and whether it violated that duty.

This isn’t the first time the Ninth Circuit carved categories of behavior out of Section 230 immunity. In Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, for instance, the court held that a website could not claim Section 230 immunity from an anti-discrimination lawsuit where it required its users, as a condition of accessing its service, to answer specific questions—which violated housing laws—by choosing among a set of pre-populated answers provided by the website. EFF filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that such a ruling would stifle innovation and leave service providers without a clear path to avoid liability, undermining Congress’s goals in enacting the statute. But the court nevertheless found no Section 230 immunity. Later, in Barnes v. Yahoo!, the court held that Yahoo! wasn’t shielded from liability for failing to take down a false profile posted by a third party after a company employee had promised the plaintiff the profile would be removed. The court reasoned that “liability here would come not from Yahoo’s publishing conduct” but instead from the company’s failure to follow through on a legally binding promise to take something down. In both cases, the dispute centered on content posted online by a third party, but the court nevertheless explained away Section 230 immunity.

In Doe v. Internet Brands, the Ninth Circuit paid significant attention to offline events, and the decision should be limited to its highly unusual facts. But we should all beware of the trend of carving out certain categories of behavior from Section 230 immunity. Broad immunity ensures that service providers will leave their platforms open for all of us to communicate, learn, and engage online. Limiting Section 230 will stifle innovation, chill online speech, and flout the public’s First Amendment interest in an uncensored Internet.

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New Censorship and Copyright Restrictions in UK Digital Economy Bill

eff.org - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 06:19

This week a new Digital Economy Bill [PDF] has been tabled before the United Kingdom Parliament, tackling a diverse range of topics related to electronic communications infrastructure and services. Two of these give us serious concern, the first being a new regime restricting access to online pornography, and the other an expansion of criminal liability for copyright infringement.

New Internet Censorship Body

The new provisions would require commercial websites that are accessible within the United Kingdom to use age verification gateways before allowing access to pornographic content. Pornographic content includes video material or clips "produced solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal", and that have been either previously been rated 18 or R18 by the UK's Video Standards Council (VSC, equivalent to the MPAA with its R and NC17 ratings), or that it is "reasonable to assume… would have been" given those ratings if they had been submitted for VSC classification. The hypothetical classification that material "would have been" given is not judged by the VSC however, but by a new "age verification regulator".

By creating a new and separate Internet regulator to make these hypothetical determinations, we are bound to see decisions being made that are inconsistent with the actual classification decisions made by the VSC, whose work is difficult and contentious enough already. Worse, the possible impact of the law extends beyond video hosting websites, but also extends to payment services providers, hosting providers, and advertisers on those websites, whether they are based in the United Kingdom or overseas. Adding to the fact that the bill also doesn't specify what kind of age verification system is required, the result will be a mess of legal uncertainty for websites conducting business in the UK going forward.

The widespread use of age declaration dialogs on adult websites already shields minors from accidental exposure to adult content. Going further and requiring proof to back up these declarations, as the bill appears to do, is a step too far. It provides only minimal additional protection for children against exposure to age-inappropriate material, but at the cost of making anonymous access to adult content impossible. Due to the stigma that continues to be associated with pornography, and the risk of embarrassment or worse if one's consumption of it becomes public, many adults will only choose to access such material anonymously. If this bill should pass, many will simply flock to overseas websites that don't care about complying with UK law, rendering the bill not only harmful to UK online businesses, but also ineffective.

Penalties for Online Copyright Infringement Massively Increased

Separately, the Digital Economy Bill also deals with online copyright infringement, expanding both the scope of protection and the penalties for infringement. In the first of these changes, it expands the offense of making copyright work available online for non-commercial purposes without authorization. Under the current law, a non-commercial infringement is only an offense if it occurs "to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright". Under the proposed new law, the offense is committed merely if the infringer believes that their action "will expose the owner of the copyright to a risk of loss", meaning "not getting what one might get". This is a much lower standard, which will result in many more infringements being treated as criminal, on the basis of the speculative risk of possible lost sales.

Secondly, the Bill also increases the penalties for online infringement by five times, from a maximum of two years imprisonment to a full ten years. This changes is proposed despite clear evidence from an earlier public consultation that most people considered a ten year prison term for copyright infringement to be excessive. For those who like to relate online copyright infringement to stealing a car, it might be worth noting that the maximum penalty for aggravated vehicle-taking under UK law is only two years.

It is still not too late for the Digital Economy Bill to be amended following its first reading in the Parliament this week. British readers should contact their representatives and ask them to raise the problems that we have identified during debate on the Bill. To recap, disallowing anonymous access to pornographic videos in the United Kingdom would effectively curtail the right of millions of adults to safely access adult content online, at significant cost to online businesses, and with little ultimate impact given the continued availability of such material from overseas. And new rules that would lower the threshold of criminality of online copyright infringement while raising the penalties, are disproportionate and will result in punitive sanctions being applied to infringements that may caused little if any actual harm.

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EFF Takes on The Eleventh HOPE

eff.org - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 04:00

EFF staffers will spread the online freedom message at 2600 Magazine's biennial Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference from July 22 to July 24. The Eleventh HOPE will take place at the historic Hotel Pennsylvania in New York and host numerous presentations on such diverse topics as automobile software hacking, pervasive surveillance, the blockchain, and fostering community.

Representatives from multiple teams at EFF will lead a flurry of activities over the long weekend in New York. HOPE attendees will have the opportunity to hear our talks about online freedom issues, participate in EFF's "capture the flag" hacking contest all weekend, and speak directly to EFF staffers at our vendor hall booth. Additionally, all New York area EFF members are invited to a Speakeasy meetup on Friday evening. Read on for more details.

Learn About Online Rights

We're proud to present the following talks as part of the program for The Eleventh HOPE. The full schedule is available here.

Ask the EFF: The Year in Digital Civil Liberties
Friday, July 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm, Location: Lamarr (18th Floor)

Privacy Badger and Panopticlick vs. the Trackers, Round 1
Friday, July 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm, Location: Lamarr (18th Floor)

Workshop: Automating Certificate Issuance with the ACME protocol and Let's Encrypt
Listed as "The Next Billion Certificates: Let’s Encrypt and Scaling the Web PKI"
Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm, Location: Paris
Let’s Encrypt is a free and automated certificate authority. If you are developing a client to integrate with Let’s Encrypt or trying to deploy Let’s Encrypt certificates at scale, come to this workshop to discuss best practices and work through any issues. Optional: bring your laptop.

Keynote, Cory Doctorow
Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm, Location: Lamarr, Noether, Friedman

The Next Billion Certificates: Let’s Encrypt and Scaling the Web PKI
Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 10:00 am, Location: Lamarr (18th Floor)

Legal Inquiries

EFF staff attorneys will be present to help support the community. If you have legal concerns regarding an upcoming talk, or sensitive infosec research that you are conducting for HOPE or at any time, please email info@eff.org and we will do our best to get you the help that you need.

Meat Space Meet Up

Our semi-secret series of EFF Speakeasy member meetups returns to take over a Manhattan bar. These events are free, casual meetups that give you a chance to mingle with local members and meet the people behind the world's leading digital civil liberties organization. It is also our chance to thank you, the EFF members who make this work possible. Current EFF members receiving email in the New York area received an email invitation with location details on July 1.

For more information contact membership@eff.org. Not a member of EFF yet? Help defend our future when you join today!

Shall We Play A Game?

EFF's "Capture the Flag" hacking contest launches on Friday, July 22 at noon and runs through Sunday at noon. All attendees at The Eleventh HOPE are encouraged to participate! This will be a Jeopardy Style CTF with a number of challenges and puzzles to solve for points. The challenges will include web hacking, reverse engineering, cryptography, forensics, and more. Participants will need access to a Linux based OS for certain challenges. All skill levels are welcome! We have a variety of challenges ranging from first timer-friendly to fiendishly hard.

The first players on the scoreboard are eligible for a free YubiKey 4 courtesy of Yubico! The top CTF winners will receive an array of special EFF gear, books from No Starch Press, and infinite bragging rights.

Contest details at eff.org/HOPECTF

SPECIAL THANKS TO EFF'S CAPTURE THE FLAG SPONSORS:

      

Cheers to HOPE and the hacker community for standing alongside EFF to preserve the freedom to explore, tinker, and create.

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Obama and Media React Deplorably to Black Killings

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 03:01
Obama and Media React Deplorably to Black Killings
by Stephen Lendman
America from inception was viciously racist - from chattel to wage slavery, Jim Crow to its modern-day version, freedom to mass incarceration, cops nationwide killing Blacks unaccountably more than ever, despite so-called reforms achieving nothing.
Obama expressing sorrow for Black lives lost and condolences to affected families belies his war on humanity at home and abroad, continuing since day one in office, responsible for millions of nameless, faceless deaths, horrific injustice and unspeakable human misery.
Saying he’s “encouraged (by) the (Justice Department) open(ing)  civil rights investigations in Baton Rouge” and Minnesota belies its meaninglessness however they turn out.
Killer cops continue brutalizing and lethally shooting Black youths nationwide unaccountably - race and ethnicity key determinants of whether they’re treated civilly or inhumanely, live or die, stay free or become incarcerated.
No developed country, besides Israel, dispenses more double-standard injustice - societies based on separate and unequal from inception, current regimes more extreme in both countries under fascist rule.
Obama denigrates Black community suffering in America, saying “(l)et’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all our children know that their lives matter.”
Who’s kidding whom? Who’s mocking America’s killing fields in Black communities? Who’s done nothing throughout his tenure to change things responsibly? Who belongs in prison, not high office?
“When Will the Killing Stop,” asked NYT editors - failing to call them state-sponsored cold-blooded executions, turning Black communities into virtual war zones no different from Occupied Palestine!
Claiming “more reforms are needed to make (cops) more professional and respectful of the citizens they have a duty to protect” ignores their sworn mandate to protect privilege from beneficial social change - anything goes OK to assure it.
Washington Post editors expressed similar sentiments to their Times counterparts, saying “(w)hat will it take (to) prevent these deadly encounters…No law-abiding American should have to live in fear of law enforcement.”
It’s longstanding US practice, from sea to shining sea, blood-drenched from endless cop killings - not a damn thing besides meaningless talk and feel-good window-dressing done to stop them.
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.

State Department Intends Second Hillary Whitewash

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 02:35
State Department Intends Second Hillary Whitewash
by Stephen Lendman
Hillary is criminally culpable for violating State Department rules and US statute laws, prohibiting documents and other information pertaining to national security and defense from being moved or removed from their “proper place of custody.”
FBI director James Comey obstructed justice, dismissively calling her criminality “extreme carelessness,” making him complicit in serious wrongdoing.
Ordinary Americans are held to one standard, privileged ones another, justice whatever powerful figures want it to be. Rule of law principles don’t matter.
On Thursday, the State Department said it’s reopening its earlier suspended investigation on whether Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information.
Hard evidence proves what Comey ignored. Expect similar State Department whitewash. Investigating one of its own about to be nominated as Democrat party presidential standard bearer is bullet-proof insulation against censure or other type punishment. 
According to department spokesman admiral John Kirby, no deadlines were set for the probe’s completion. Expect nothing until after November elections, perhaps not until well into next year.
Whatever information is released will likely try presenting a picture of much ado about nothing - at a low news consumption time and day. 
In January, the department began reexamining Clinton’s private server use for official government business - explaining 22 “top secret” emails were kept there, without acknowledging she violated US statute laws and agency rules.
Review was suspended in April during Comey “investigation,” rigged at the onset to exonerate her for offenses subjecting ordinary Americans to prosecution, conviction and imprisonment.
Kirby saying Clinton perhaps faces “repercussions” is smoke screen cover for certain letting her off scot-free a second time.
High crimes of state are considered business as usual, even raping and destroying nonbelligerent countries.
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.

Hundreds of Thousands Call on Leader Pelosi to Block the Undemocratic TPP

eff.org - Sat, 09/07/2016 - 02:14

EFF has joined with partners including MoveOn, CREDO, Daily Kos, and Demand Progress to call on Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from going to a vote during the "lame duck" session of Congress following the November election.

As we explained in a press conference yesterday, the TPP is simply bad for tech users and innovators: it exports the most onerous parts of U.S. copyright law and prevents the U.S. from improving them in the future, while failing to include the balancing provisions that work for users and innovators, such as fair use. Outside of these copyright provisions, it does nothing to safeguard the free and open Internet, by including phony provisions on net neutrality and encryption, trade secrets provisions that carry no exceptions for journalism or whistleblowing, and a simplistic ban on data localization that enabled the USTR to buy off big tech.

The participants at the press conference, who covered a wide range of other impacted sectors aside from those represented by EFF, presented a petition to Leader Pelosi with an incredible 210,000 signatures that we had collected together, stating:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an unprecedented threat to many of the goals we share and for which we appreciate your leadership: good jobs, higher wages, strong climate policies and a livable environment, affordable medicines, safe food, human rights and an open Internet.

Given the broad public opposition on display this election cycle to trade agreements that expand corporate power to the detriment of most of us, holding a vote during the lame-duck session—when members of Congress are the least accountable—would be unfair and undemocratic. Yet that is precisely what GOP congressional leaders are suggesting.

Please join presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and publicly oppose any lame duck vote on the TPP. We are counting on you to lead the fight against a TPP lame duck vote and deliver this message loud & clear to all House Democrats.

If you didn't sign that letter, it's not too late. EFF will be following up with Leader Pelosi's District Office in San Francisco on July 21, when we present hard copies of the petition and ask for her response. We're hoping that she will heed the concerns of the thousands of Americans who have spoken up about their concerns about the TPP, and you can add your name to theirs if you act within the next two weeks.

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Dallas Cops Lethally Shot Because Black Lives Don't Matter

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 08/07/2016 - 21:25
Dallas Cops Lethally Shot Because Black Lives Don’t Matter
by Stephen Lendman
Unaccountable killer cops turning Black communities into battlegrounds made overnight Thursday’s incident inevitable. 
It was just a matter of time - nor likely the last instance of justifiable public outrage exploding. People and communities take so much before reacting.
Until killer cops are held accountable for false arrests, extreme brutality, other forms of abuse and murdering Black youths, Dallas may prove a shot across the bow for what’s to come - a declaration of war against longstanding injustice.
This week’s headline-making police executions of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, MN respectively reflect daily incidents across America - cops brutalizing Blacks unaccountably, over 1,000 cop killings in 2015, disproportionately affecting unarmed Blacks.
According to Dallas police chief David Brown, snipers opened fire on police around 8:45PM Thursday - five officers killed, 10 wounded, some seriously, Brown saying suspects intended planting explosives at downtown Dallas locations.
Shootings occurred during a nonviolent Black Lives Matter protest over Baton Rouge and Minnesota Blacks murdered by police in cold blood. A so-called person of interest is in custody along with a suspect (allegedly armed with a rifle) and others.
More gunfire was reported near El Centro College. According to the Dallas Morning News, one cop killed was a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer.
A civilian was wounded. A woman near the shooting is in custody. A person of interest turned himself in. Shootings reportedly were from elevated positions with rifles. 
Police aren’t certain if all suspects are in custody. One reportedly died from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to Fox News. More likely, cops killed him.
A suspicious package was found, secured by bomb squad police. Downtown Dallas is described as a “major crime scene.”
In Warsaw, Poland attending an anti-Russia NATO summit, Obama’s pretense of concern for racial disparities and America’s criminal injustice system rang hollow.
Saying “we can do better than this” belies his phony war on terrorism, imperial madness, unbridled militarism, neoliberal harshness, destruction of fundamental freedoms, indifference to human suffering, Big Brother watching everyone, and favoring privileged interests over all others.
Cops in America serve and protect the powerful at the expense of most others, especially people of color.
The nation’s gulag prison system, the world’s largest by far, attests to its barbarity - mostly filled with poor, disadvantaged Blacks and Latinos. Many are falsely convicted or locked in cages for illicit drug possession offenses too minor to matter. 
Criminal injustice defines America, reinvented Jim Crow, enforced by killer cops - America more a police state than democracy.
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

Sanders to Endorse Clinton, Betraying Loyal Supporters

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 08/07/2016 - 21:07
Sanders to Endorse Clinton, Betraying Loyal Supporters
by Stephen Lendman
Sanders earlier said he’ll support Clinton if she’s nominated, a de facto endorsement by any standard. 
Unnamed party insiders now say on July 12, at a New Hampshire campaign event, he’ll make it official - according to Reuters, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS News, CNN and other media sources.
He almost did Thursday, saying “(w)e have got to do everything that we can to defeat Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton. I don’t honestly know how we would survive four years of a Donald Trump as president.”
Endorsing her shows contempt for loyal supporters, naively expecting better, failing to understand all politicians lie, Sanders a self-serving dirty one like virtually all others. His voting record proves it, on the wrong side of most issues mattering most. 
Rare exceptions like former Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, valued friend and ally Cynthia McKinney prove the rule.
Sanders is no McKinney. His so-called transformational revolution was phony, lofty rhetorical mumbo jumbo without substance, old wine in new bottles, weasel-worded populism for the gallery, not reality - at the same time supporting imperial madness, endless wars, not a word on the stump denouncing them.
Backing an unfit to serve widely reviled hawkish neocon - irreparably tainted, a walking conflict of interest, untrustworthy, scandal-ridden, war criminal/racketeer puts Sanders in bed with the most dangerous presidential aspirant in US history.
Clinton allegedly throwing throwing him a bone or two in return for his endorsement, a prominent convention speaking slot, and perhaps a high-level position in her administration if elected ignores what virtually all candidates do in office.
Promises made are consistently broken, fading in the mist of day, borrowing a line from famed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein.
Sanders represents what’s wrong with America’s debauched political system - promising everything, delivering nothing!
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

Saber-Rattling NATO Warsaw Summit

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 08/07/2016 - 01:50
Saber-Rattling NATO Warsaw Summit
by Stephen Lendman
Washington dominates NATO policy, other members and partners pressured to go along with policies harming their own interests.
Meeting in Warsaw, Poland on July 8 and 9, 28 NATO countries, 26 partners, the UN and World Bank intend focusing on pre-agreed anti-Russian policies - US-appointed Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighting the alliance’s “biggest reinforcement since the Cold War.”
“We will deploy four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland,” he said. “I welcome Canada’s recent announcement that it will lead one of these four battalions.”
“We will also agree to develop a tailored presence in the southeast, based on a multinational brigade in Romania.”
US/NATO’s support for ISIS and other terrorist groups, aiding their spread, is the only significant world threat. Yet NATO members will increase military spending - at a time it should be greatly reduced, social justice and economic stimulus stressed, addressing long neglected popular needs.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned about NATO “more than doubl(ing)” its provocative actions near Russia’s border - “deploy(ing) about 1,200 pieces of military equipment, including 30 combat jets, as well as more than 1,000 soldiers on the territories of the Eastern European countries on a rotational basis.”
“US navy ships as well as military vessels of other NATO members regularly enter the Baltic and Black Seas,” threatening Russian security.
America’s so-called missile defense is solely for offense, targeting Russia’s heartland, potentially with nuclear weapons.
Thousands more US-led NATO combat troops intended for Eastern Europe force Russia to take counter-measures.
Putin stressed a national commitment to “be ready to respond quickly and adequately to any potential threats…provocation(s) (or) aggressive actions.”
US-dominated NATO threatens world peace and stability. As long as the alliance exists and expands, imperial wars will continue, the threat of nuclear annihilation real.
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.

Lessons from Hillarygate

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 21:54
Lessons from Hillarygate
by Stephen Lendman
On July 6, longtime Clinton crime family ally Attorney General Loretta Lynch unsurprisingly made it official. 
Following FBI director James Comey’s failure to acknowledge Hillary’s email criminality serious enough to send ordinary people to prison, she issued a statement, saying:
“I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”
Hillary is home free - except in the court of public opinion and to what extent Trump and other Republicans intend making her criminality and untrustworthiness major campaign issues. Much exists to exploit.
For now, she and husband Bill remain unaccountable for high crimes against peace, supporting predatory capitalism and neoliberal harshness harming millions, as well as racketeering through their Clinton Foundation - using it as a money-laundering, influence-peddling, self-enrichment racket, besides serious Hillary email security breaches.
It doesn’t matter as long as she and husband Bill remain untouchable, things rigged to protect them, the way it is for all current and former top US officials.
If ordinary people committed any of their offenses, indictment, prosecution and imprisonment would follow.
High crimes by top government and favored business officials go unpunished - one system for America’s privileged, another for everyone else, making a mockery of justice.
The prospect of a second Clinton co-presidency should scare everyone. Maybe they’ll be emboldened to destroy planet earth for their own self-aggrandizement and enrichment.
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.

Chilcot Report Postmortems

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 21:45
Chilcot Report Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman
According to Chilcot, “no imminent threat” justified war on Iraq, his conclusions saying:
“(T)he UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
“The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s (alleged) weapons of mass destruction - WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”
“Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.”
“The government failed to achieve its stated objective.”
No Nuremberg-style judgment followed nor will it, Chilcot merely “conclud(ing) that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory.”
Complicit with George Bush, Blair decided on war, not his government, legal advisors or ministers - based solely on geopolitical considerations, flagrantly violating international law.
He, Bush and their complicit officials waged naked aggression against a nonbelligerent country based on lies, damn lies and Big Lies - a media-supported drumbeat ahead of shock-and-awe devastation, followed by invasion, occupation, current violence and chaos at a cost of millions of civilian lives.
Blair remains defiant and duplicitous, turning truth on its head, saying Chilcot’s report “should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies and deceit.”
“Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein, I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.”
Short of apologizing for complicity in committing mass slaughter and destruction, he merely said “I will take full responsibility for any mistakes (sic) without exception or excuse.”
Hard facts contradict his claiming Saddam’s “remov(al)” isn’t “the cause of terrorism…in the Middle East or elsewhere…”
“(E)xpress(ing) profound regret at the loss of life (of British soldiers and) grief it has caused the families is standard hegemonic practice:
Wage war based on lies and deception. Then apologize to grieving families, ignoring ones in countries attacked and horrors of current aggression elsewhere.
On July 6, coincidentally with Chilcot’s publication, the White House was silent. State Department press releases covered a surprising 16 separate topics - nothing on Chilcot. 
When asked to comment, spokesman admiral John Kirby refused to address its findings, saying “(t)hat’s really for the government of the UK to talk to, and I’m certainly not going to relitigate the decisions that led to the Iraq war here from the podium in July of 2016. I’m just not going to do that.”
“(W)e’re not going to make a judgment one way or the other about this report…We’re not going to go through it.”
“We’re not going to examine it. We’re not going to try to do an analysis of it or make a judgment of the findings one way or the other.”
He tried shifting focus to Syria and Washington claiming to help (sic) prime minister Abadi “do the things he needs to do in Iraq and to defeat (US-supported) Daesh.
War on Iraq, of course, was planned and orchestrated long before Washington launched it in March 2003 along with Britain and other “coalition” partners.
Blair signed on early. In a July 28, 2002 memo to Bush, he said “I will be with you, whatever.” Claiming removing Saddam from power was “the right thing to do” omitted explaining why war was waged in the first place.
It’s part of Anglo-Zionist aims for regional dominance, eliminating independent governments, puppet regimes replacing them, and controlling the region’s immense hydrocarbon resources.
What Chilcot didn’t explain matters more than what was covered in 12 volumes.
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.

Putin's Outreach to Obama

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 21:32
Putin’s Outreach to Obama
by Stephen Lendman
Putin consistently reaches out to other world leaders in good faith, urging mutual cooperation on major geopolitical issues - notably on war and peace.
On July 6, he and Obama spoke by phone. According to the Kremlin web site, he urged his US counterpart to “facilitate as quickly as possible the separation of moderate Syrian opposition forces from the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra and other extremists that are not covered by the ceasefire regime.” 
“Both sides reaffirmed their readiness to step up coordination of American and Russian military actions in Syria, and emphasized the importance of resuming inter-Syrian negotiations under the aegis of the UN to achieve a political settlement.”
Putin stressed the importance of observing Minsk peace terms, Kiev engaging in dialogue with Donbass freedom fighters, and respecting the “special status” of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR).
“He emphasized…no alternative to a political settlement and stressed the need to step up efforts to address ceasefire violations and the importance of full compliance with the agreement on the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the separation of the sides to the conflict.”
On July 6, Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern over mobilization of “Ukrainian armed forces and volunteer battalions (along) the contact line.”
“It is clear (they’re) preparing a military operation,” flagrantly violating Minsk terms if initiated. Shelling and mortar fire overnight targeted Donbass civilian areas - an indication of likely escalated conflict to follow.
Moscow called for a Normandy Four (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) meeting to discuss increased Kiev aggression.
Sergey Lavrov told John Kerry, ahead of his visit to Ukraine, to address intelligence indicating Kiev’s “intent to provoke resumption of full-scale hostilities in Donbas,” calling on him “to prevent such developments.”
Commenting on Putin’s discussion with Obama, the White House indicated Washington’s “readiness…to achieve a comprehensive settlement to the (Ukraine) conflict” - while covert US efforts continue supporting increased Kiev aggression.
Obama blamed Syria for US-supported terrorists’ failure to comply with ceasefire terms - affirming a “commitment to defeating ISIL and the Nusra Front,” while actively supporting these and other anti-government terrorist groups.
He “stressed the necessity (of) political transition” - aka regime change, US-controlled puppet governance replacing Assad and other democratically elected officials.
He blamed Donbass freedom fighters for escalated Kiev aggression, stressing the importance of “full implementation” of Minsk - while actively subverting it.
Putin continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution in Ukraine and Syria - unattainable because Washington wants endless wars in both theaters and elsewhere.
Its imperial agenda threatens world peace - regime change in Russia and China its ultimate objectives by color revolutions or war.
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.

FBI Must Not Sidestep Privacy Protections For Massive Collection of Biometric Data

eff.org - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 07:33
Iris Scans, Palm Prints, Face Recognition Data, and More Collected From Millions of Innocent Citizens

San Francisco—The FBI, which has created a massive database of biometric information on millions of Americans never involved in a crime, mustn’t be allowed to shield this trove of personal information from Privacy Act rules that let people learn what data the government has on them and restrict how it can be used.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed comments today with the FBI, on behalf of itself and six civil liberties groups, objecting to the agency’s request to exempt the Next Generation Identification (NGI) database from key provisions of federal privacy regulations that protect personal data from misuse and abuse. The FBI has amassed this database with little congressional and public oversight, failed for years to provide basic information about NGI as required by law, and dragged its feet to disclose—again, as required by law—a detailed description of the records and its policies for maintaining them. Now it wants to be exempt from even the most basic notice and data correction requirements.

NGI includes prints and face recognition data from millions of everyday people who’ve committed no crime but have had their biometric data collected when they needed a background check for a job, applied for welfare benefits, registered for immigration, or obtained state licenses to be a teacher, realtor, or dentist. For example, NGI holds millions of photographs searchable through facial recognition and accessible by 20,000 foreign, federal, state, and municipal-level law enforcement agencies.

The public’s understanding of the FBI’s collection of biometric information is only now coming to light because the agency has been less than forthcoming about its data gathering. In June, the Government Accountability Office published an exhaustive report revealing that the FBI has access to hundreds of millions more photos of Americans than we ever thought and has been hiding that from the public in violation of federal and agency laws for years. Previously, many believed that NGI just contained criminal case records such as fingerprints and mug shots collected during arrests.

“The FBI has sidestepped the Privacy Act as it has expanded NGI, essentially saying ‘just trust us’ with highly personal and private data,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “But the FBI hasn’t proved itself to be worthy of the public’s trust. Exempting NGI from the Privacy Act will eliminate our rights to access our own records and take action against the government when it make mistakes with that data. The Privacy Act is only the barest of protection for Americans, but the FBI wants to escape from even that basic responsibility.”

The FBI refuses to recognize accuracy is an issue with face recognition or to publish any data on NGI’s accuracy rates. However, research has shown that face recognition misidentifies African Americans, ethnic minorities, women, and young people at higher rates than whites and men. This means that potential errors within NGI will likely impact people of color more frequently, especially because FBI databases include a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos and immigrants, thanks to well-documented racial bias among law enforcement.

This is why it’s particularly important that people be able to use the Privacy Act to learn about NGI—it ensures that people can access records the FBI has on them and allows them to take the FBI to court, if needed, to correct any inaccurate information.

“Over 2,000 Americans have signed an EFF petition objecting to the FBI’s exemption proposal, including the vague, incomplete explanation of how the FBI is maintaining our private records,” said Lynch. “Our message to the FBI is that citizens deserve the right to know what information it has on them, and the bureau must be obligated to correct inaccurate data. Its attempt to skirt these rules must be rejected.”

EFF was joined in its comments by American Civil Liberties Union, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, Council on Arab-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Fight for the Future, National Immigration Law Center, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

For our comments:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-ngi-privacy-act-exemption-comments

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EFF and ACLU-led Coalition Opposes Dangerous “Model” Employee and Student “Privacy” Legislation

eff.org - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 04:41

EFF, ACLU, and a coalition of nearly two-dozen civil liberties and advocacy organizations and a union representative are urging the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) to vote down dangerous model employee and student privacy legislation.

The bill, the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act (ESOPPA), is ostensibly aimed at protecting employee and student privacy. But its broad and vaguely worded exceptions and limitations overshadow any protections the bill attempts to provide. As our joint letter explains, ESOPPA will result in only further invasions of student and employee privacy.

The ULC is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to researching, drafting, and promoting the enactment of uniform state laws, which it drafts and circulates as “models.” The ULC will vote on ESOPPA on July 11 at its annual meeting, and if it passes, the ULC will circulate the bill to legislators across the country in the hope of uniform adoption in all fifty states. But ESOPPA falls far short of its goal and does not live up to the prevailing standard for protecting social media privacy currently being enacted by the states and as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Social media accounts include vast quantities of sensitive personal information. As the U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Riley v. California, searches of digital devices are grave invasions of personal privacy in ways that physical searches could never be. Yet ESOPPA does next to nothing to prevent school administrators and employers—including public school employees and state officials—from coercing or requiring students and employees to turn over private, non-publicly available information from such accounts. The bill not only fails to comport with protections afforded to such sensitive personal communication under the Constitution, but the few protections it purports to provide are ripe for abuse and without measures to ensure accountability.

Furthermore, ESOPPA applies only to students at the college level and beyond, leaving the privacy of students at the high school level and below completely exposed.

That’s why we’re asking the ULC to either address ESOPPA’s deficiencies or reject the bill outright at its upcoming meeting. Other organizations, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), have also sent their own letter to the ULC opposing the current draft of ESOPPA.

You can read the full text of the letter below or access a PDF of the original letter here. Special thanks to all of our coalition partners, listed in full below.

July 6, 2016

 

Members of the Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Oppose Unless Amended: Employment and Student Online Privacy Protection Act

Dear Commissioner:

As civil liberties groups, advocacy organizations, student and parent rights coalitions, and a union representative, we write to you today to express deep concern over the Employee and Student Online Privacy Protection Act (“ESOPPA”). We appreciate the ULC’s interest in protecting the privacy of employees and students alike, but the version of the bill submitted to the full ULC committee for approval at the upcoming annual meeting fails to accomplish that goal in light of its significant deficiencies. While it purports to protect both employees and students, its broad and vaguely worded exceptions and limitations overshadow any protections the bill attempts to provide—doing next to nothing to prevent school administrators and employers from coercing or requiring students and employees to turn over highly sensitive social media account information. These provisions do not comport with the Fourth or Fifth Amendment, and will result in only further invasions of student and employee privacy.

We ask that you not adopt this bill until these issues have been adequately addressed. If these issues are not addressed, we urge you to reject the proposed bill in its entirety. Three of the bill’s provisions are most problematic:

First, the bill authorizes state employers and public educational institutions to require an employee or student to turn over information related to their social media account, including login information and social media content, based merely on “specific information about the student’s protected personal online account,” in order to (i) ensure compliance with, or investigate non-compliance with, federal or state law or an educational institution policy; or (ii) “to protect against . . . a threat to health or safety[.]”

The U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), that searches involving technology and electronic devices are grave invasions of personal privacy in ways that physical searches could never be. That case involved cell phones, which the court recognized as especially important due to the many kinds of information they contain: “Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse. . . .  The term ‘cell phone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone.” Id. at 2488–89. Social media accounts contain similarly vast amounts of personal information and implicate the very same concerns. Permitting government agents access to students’ and employees’ social media accounts under the vague terms of the current draft of ESOPPA does not comport with the level of protection afforded to such personal information under the Constitution. 

Second, although the bill attempts to limit employers or educational institutions access by requiring that any such entity “reasonably attempts to limit its access to content relevant to the purpose justifying that access[,]” such a limit will prove hollow, as it is not technically or practically possible to segregate “relevant” from irrelevant content until all content is accessed. This provision, coupled with the overbroad grant of authority for employers and schools to compel or coerce employees and students to turn over social media account information, renders ESOPPA ripe for abuse by employers and education institutions alike. And the bill includes no measures to ensure accountability.

Third, the limited privacy protections that ESOPPA claims to provide for students have a glaring deficiency—the bill does not apply to most students. ESOPPA provides purported protections only to students at the college level and beyond, leaving the privacy of students at the high school level and below completely exposed. This is not a trivial concern. Students in secondary school and below use social media to learn about and discuss highly sensitive subjects, such as reproductive choices, sexual orientation, gender identity, and political perspectives. In many communities across this country, exposing a student’s perspective on such topics could not only be embarrassing, but it could also place the student’s safety—or even life—at risk. The only option ESOPPA leaves for non-college students who want privacy protection is to not use social media at all. This “option” would do tremendous damages to one of the most vibrant free speech platforms utilized by young people today. This is not acceptable.

We believe it is possible to create a bill that addresses the concerns raised in this letter, protects student and employee privacy, and grants educational institutions and employers the ability to procure social media account information when required or permitted under law, such as when investigating specific allegations of unlawful harassment in the workplace or specific allegations of unlawful bullying by a student or prospective student of another student. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union has worked closely with other advocacy organizations and Internet companies alike on its own model legislation, a version of which was enacted in four states this past legislative session alone. Those laws represent the prevailing standard for protecting social media privacy in 2016. ESOPPA, which is coming out of a three-year planning and drafting process, is already showing its age—and it has not even been voted on by the ULC yet.  Unless it is the ULC’s objective to roll back the standard for protecting social media privacy currently being enacted by the states, ESOPPA must be significantly revised before it is adopted.  The signatories of this letter fully intend to continue our successful efforts to have true social media privacy bills enacted in the states, and if that requires us to oppose ESOPPA, we certainly will.

In order to ensure that ESOPPA does not impermissibly infringe on employees’ and students’ rights, and to enable us to work with rather than against each other on this important issue, we urge the full ULC Committee to either address these concerns or to reject the bill outright.  

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Center for Democracy & Technology

Center for Digital Democracy

Common Sense Kids Action

Constitutional Alliance

Consumer Watchdog

Defending Dissent Foundation

Demand Progress

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fight for the Future

Free Speech Coalition

Government Accountability Project

Michelle Castro, SEIU California,
Director of Government Relations

National Coalition Against Censorship

Network for Public Education

Network for Public Education Action

NYS Allies for Public Education

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

Parents Across America

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Restore the Fourth

Safety Net Project of the National Network
to End Domestic Violence

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

World Privacy Forum

 

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Chilcot Report Far Short of Judgment Day for War Criminal Tony Blain

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 02:21
Chilcot Report Far Short of Judgment Day for War Criminal Tony Blair
by Stephen Lendman
The long delayed Iraq Inquiry Committee Chilcot report took seven years to complete, filled 12 volumes, yet excluded what’s most important - declaring the 2003 Iraq war illegal, flagrantly violating international law, destroying the cradle of civilization, raping it for control and profit, and demanding accountability for those responsible.
Its 2.6 million words pronounced no judgment on Blair’s partnership with GW Bush’s naked aggression against a nonbelligerent country, based entirely on misinformation and Big Lies.
US, Britain and co-conspiratorial “coalition” partners attacked and occupied Iraq based on falsified claims about nonexistent WMDs, no evidence of chemical or biological ones, mushroom-shaped cloud hysteria, manipulated intelligence, a fabricated Al Qaeda connection, and other phony threats.
Intelligence was willfully cooked to fit policy. Britain’s so-called Dodgy Dossier generated fear to enlist public support for war, justifying the unjustifiable.
Bush, Blair & Co. are war criminals, responsible for millions of deaths, vast destruction, along with endless violence and chaos, US-created and supported ISIS now acting as imperial foot soldiers.
Blair acted internally on his own, willfully lied, mislead parliament, his senior ministers and Britain’s public - inventing a nonexistent threat “with a certainty that was not justified,” said Chilcot.
War on Iraq was entirely based on lies. Genocidal crimes followed. Yet neither Bush or Blair faces accountability - at home or by the International Criminal Court (ICC) - established by the Rome Treaty to prosecute individuals for crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
Chilcot said Britain “invade(d) Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was (a first) not a last resort.”
Saddam Hussein posed no regional threat, said Chilcot. Britain with America and coalition partners acted extrajudicially. His report stopped short of demanding what’s most important - long-denied accountability. 
Bush, Blair & Co. belong in the dock, prosecuted for Nuremberg-level high crimes - ones Chief Justice Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime against peace.”
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.

FBI Whitewashes Serious Hillary Criminality

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 06/07/2016 - 22:10
FBI Whitewashes Serious Hillary Criminality
by Stephen Lendman
Reacting to FBI director James Comey whitewashing Hillary’s criminality serious enough to send ordinary people to prison, Trump was right calling the system “rigged.”
In a Tuesday afternoon statement, he said she “compromised the safety of the American people by storing highly classified information on a private email server with no security.”
“Our adversaries almost certainly have a blackmail file on (her), and this fact alone disqualified her from service.”
She lied saying she didn’t use her home server to maintain or send classified information. Comey confirmed over 100 emails classified when sent, including top secret ones.
Deleting thousands of emails compounded her criminality, ordinary Americans held to one standard, figures like Hillary and husband Bill another.
The system isn’t just rigged. It’s too debauched to fix. So far, Bernie Sanders remains noticeably silent on Comey’s whitewash. He acknowledged support for Clinton earlier, saying through a spokesperson the FBI’s decision won’t affect his campaign.
House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated Comey may be called before Congress to testify, saying “(w)e’re going to have hearings. There are a lot of unanswered questions here…”
“What really just mystifies me is the case he makes and then the conclusion he draws. This certainly does underscore the belief that the Clintons live above the law.”
“He shredded the case she had been making all year long. I think we need to know more…” She should be “block(ed) from access to classified material” as a tainted candidate.
“Based on (Comey’s) own statement…damage (was) done to the rule of law.” On the same day, Obama campaigned with Hillary in North Carolina, stumping for her for the first time - leading the crowd in chanting “Hill-a-ry,” adding he’s “fired up! Ready to go for her!”
“I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton, and I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America,” he ranted, ignoring Comey’s whitewash.
Instead he lied, saying “there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton. Ever.”
One unindicted war criminal endorsed another. As secretary of state, she orchestrated naked aggression on Libya and Syria, raping and destroying both countries - responsible for mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human misery.
Her deplorable rap sheet includes numerous other high crimes, including involvement in toppling foreign leaders, rigging Haiti’s election to install a US-controlled puppet, and racketeering - the Clinton Foundation a self-enrichment, influence peddling, money-laundering scheme masquerading as a charitable NGO.
Her record in office and since leaving government shows support for imperial lawlessness, indifference to human suffering, and addiction to self-aggrandizement, along with using her high office to accumulate great wealth.
She’s the only presidential aspirant in US history responsible for multiple high crimes demanding prosecution, yet favored to succeed Obama, things likely rigged to assure it.
With Democrats meeting later in July to nominate her their standard bearer, there was virtually no chance of Comey throwing party politics into disarray by recommending she be charged and prosecuted.
A loyal soldier, he’ll likely be asked to remain FBI director in a Clinton administration if she’s elected. Reportedly so will ethics-challenged Attorney General Loretta Lynch, longtime close Bill and Hillary ally - virtually certain not to indict her on other major charges.
Her non-recusal recusal gives her final say, Bill and Hillary free from prosecution despite committing high crimes too serious to ignore.
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.

Media React to Comey on Clinton

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 06/07/2016 - 22:08
Media React to Comey on Clinton
by Stephen Lendman
Justice isn’t blind. It works one way for privileged figures like Clinton, entirely another way for ordinary people.
Media reaction was mixed - despite clear criminality demanding indictment, prosecution and stopping her nomination as Democrat party standard bearer. 
US law requires documents and other information pertaining to national security and defense not be removed from their “proper place of custody.”
Nor may they be tampered with, altered, destroyed, concealed, stolen or improperly transmitted.
Pro-Clinton New York Times editors reacted as expected to Comey’s announcement, saying his refusal to recommend criminal charges is “undoubtedly correct.” 
Hard facts prove otherwise. Comey passing off her criminality as simply extreme carelessness undermines justice, obstructing it, making him complicit in her law-breaking - things rigged to assure her party nomination and likely November election, a known criminal to succeed Obama.
Washington Post editors agreed with their Times counterparts, calling Comey’s conclusion “sound,” absolving Clinton of crimes too serious to ignore, passing them off as poor judgment.
Los Angeles Times editors concurred, dismissively “hop(ing) that this episode has taught her a lesson about the importance of accountability” - rule of law principles be damned. 
Wall Street Journal editors were less forgiving, saying “(o)ne standard exists for a Democratic (sic) candidate for President and another for the hoi polloi.”
“(W)hat a depressing moment this is the American rule of law. No wonder so many voters think Washington is rigged for the powerful.”
The Chicago Tribune highlighted “(t)he FBI’s damning non-indictment,” saying “(h)ere’s the campaign bumper sticker you won’t see: ‘Clinton in ’16 - Because No Charges Were Recommended.”
Hillary violated State Department rules and US statute laws - serious criminal offenses. “Would Americans trust her as their president,” asked Tribune editors?
Will they choose a known criminal - a neocon hawkish one with her finger on the nuclear trigger, perhaps eager to squeeze 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.

Another Extrajudicial Israeli Killing

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 06/07/2016 - 21:49
Another Extrajudicial Israeli Killing
by Stephen Lendman
Israeli soldiers, police and other security forces kill Palestinians with impunity, investigations when conducted systematically whitewashed.
Days earlier, Israeli border police lethally shot 27-year-old Palestinian Sarah Hajuj at an Ibrahimi Mosque compound checkpoint at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Israel alleging she threatened border police with a knife was claimed as justification. A B’Tselem investigation indicated Hajuj was stopped for “appear(ing) susp(icious), then taken to a checkpoint side room, followed by sounds of scuffling inside and her fatal shooting - “four shots…fired in succession” against a defenseless woman, an assassination by any standard.
“(V)ideo footage captured by a Palestinian passerby belie the police claim that (shooting her) was ‘precise and targeted,’ “ said B’Tselem.
Evidence indicates officers “could almost certainly have (handled things) with non-lethal means, thereby rendering the shooting unjustified.”
Like numerous similar cases, Israeli security forces could have avoided violence. Claiming otherwise based on what’s known rings hollow.
Hajuj was murdered in cold blood despite posing no threat, Israel’s open-fire policy providing immunity for state-sponsored killings.
Last November, the IDF designated the area in Hebron’s Old City where the incident occurred a closed military zone, over 40 Palestinians killed there since last October.
Its military status was lifted in May. Severe movement restrictions remain for most of the Old City and areas around the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Separately overnight, Israeli forces used live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas in Dura, south of Hebron - targeting youths and civilian homes, injuring dozens.
The assault came with Hebron under military siege, Palestinian movement extremely restricted, other draconian measures imposed - following the killing of an Israeli man, his wife and children injured.
In response to these type incidents, collective punishment follows, at times affecting the entire West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza - mass Palestinian suffering imposed, including sealing off entire communities, mass arrests, home demolitions and targeted killings.
Israel consistently and without justification violates core international law, Palestinians victimized by its viciousness.
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.

Patents: The Next Open Access Fight

eff.org - Wed, 06/07/2016 - 08:59
When Universities Sell Patents to Trolls, Publicly Funded Research Is Compromised

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the state of publicly funded research. Many, including EFF, have long called on Congress to pass a law requiring that publicly funded research be made available to the public.

With strong support for FASTR (the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act) in both parties, Vice-President Biden making open access a major component of his Cancer Moonshot initiative, and presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton including access to research in her platform, signs are looking good that Congress will finally pass an open access mandate. It’s just a matter of when.

Even if we pass an open access law this year, though, there’s still a major obstacle in the way of publicly funded research fully benefiting the public: patent trolls.

Universities and Patent Trolls: A Twisted Romance

Wait, patent trolls? Those obscure companies that just amass patents and sue people instead of actually making or selling anything? What do they have to do with publicly funded research? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Research universities represent one of the primary recipients of federal government funding for science. Many of those universities routinely file patents on technologies they develop, and unfortunately, many of those patents end up in the hands of trolls. There are dozens of universities, both public and private, with standing agreements to sell patents to patent assertion entities. When patent trolls’ intentions are so often at odds with the mission of research benefiting the world, it’s worth asking: why do universities sell to them?

A recent Planet Money episode explored a company that’s sued nearly every workout supplement manufacturer in the U.S. over a patent on an amino acid that occurs in nature, a patent that originated at Stanford University.

And just last month, we gave our Stupid Patent of the Month award to My Health, a company that appears to do very little besides file patent and trademark infringement lawsuits. Like the arginine patent, My Health’s patent originated at a university, the University of Rochester.

We don’t even know how many university patents trolls control. That’s because a lot of the time, the university is still listed as the owner of the patent, but it gives the troll a broad, exclusive license to litigate it.

Keep in mind that the federal government funds a lot of that research. Even as we move toward a time when most publicly funded research is publicly available, patent trolls make it more difficult for practicing companies to use that knowledge (subscription required, ironically).

Even for research that’s not federally funded, the public has still invested in it in the form of grants, donations, state funding, and tuition fees. If you’re in college right now—or if you’re still paying off your loans—how would you feel found out that patent trolls are using that money to bully innovators into paying licensing fees?

Bad for Both Innovation and the Bottom Line

Universities filing patents for federally funded research is a relatively new phenomenon. Thanks to a law enacted in 1980, commonly known as the Bayh-Dole Act, universities can apply for patents for their inventions even if those inventions were funded by the federal government.

Before Bayh-Dole, the government itself was responsible for patenting federally funded inventions; when it did so, it would let others use them only under nonexclusive licenses.

The years following Bayh-Dole saw a major uptick in patents filed by universities (PDF). In 1980, 394 utility patents were granted to universities. By 2010, that number had increased tenfold (for comparison, the number of patents issued altogether increased fivefold over the same 30 years).

Today, it’s unusual for a research university not to have a technology transfer office, an office whose job it is to file patents and sell or transfer them to third parties. Here’s something else a lot of people don’t know about tech transfer: the vast majority of these programs lose money for their schools.

Some defenders of the technology transfer system say that that’s to be expected: the purpose isn’t to make money; it’s to bring their important inventions to market. But again and again, tech transfer programs seem to undermine their own goals. For every patent that gets licensed to a company that actually intends to carry the university’s work forward, many others either go unlicensed (putting a strain on the university’s resources) or are sold to trolls (putting a strain on practicing companies).

Is the purpose of a tech transfer program to make money for the university or is it to stimulate innovation? Either way, many aren’t doing a very good job.

Can Tech Transfer Fix Itself?

Several universities have admitted that selling or licensing patents to trolls is a big problem. The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) maintains a document called Nine Points to Consider and a list of over 100 institutions that have endorsed it since 2007.

AUTM’s “points” include prioritizing transferring to companies that are committed to active research and development in the patents’ areas of technology, not those that will simply sit on the patents and wait to extract licensing fees from others. The document even explicitly warns of the dangers of transferring to patent-holding companies:

Universities would better serve the public interest by ensuring appropriate use of their technology by requiring their licensees to operate under a business model that encourages commercialization and does not rely primarily on threats of infringement litigation to generate revenue.

We strongly disagreed with AUTM when it lobbied against patent reform and open education policy. But in this case, AUTM is right.

The way for universities to make sure patented inventions actually get used is to partner with companies committed to making advancement in those areas of technology, not those with business models based on litigation. We’d add that before filing a patent at all, a university ought to consider whether a patent will support the goal of bringing that particular invention to market.

The Nine Points were a big step in the right direction, but many of the universities that signed it have continued to sell patents to companies that do nothing but sue.

Who Is Your University Listening To?

EFF has observed a troubling pattern in the past few years. On issues of access to knowledge and research, universities have benefited greatly from the input of students, faculty members, and other community members—people directly impacted by those universities’ policies. But when it comes to patents, some universities seem to listen only to those voices calling for more patenting and opposing reform.

While open access advocates have successfully guided their universities into more sharing-friendly policies, those same institutions have been reluctant to revisit their patenting practices. But when patents get in the way of a university’s research benefiting the public, that affects everyone in the university community—not just one office.

The achievements we’ve made in open access are largely thanks to researchers, students, professors, and other stakeholders demanding institutional change. We didn’t wait for governmental open access mandates; we started insisting that our research be open.

It’s time to make tech transfer part of that discussion. If everyone who’s serious about access to knowledge and research demanded that their universities quit transferring patents to trolls, universities would have no choice but to listen.

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Alaa Abd El Fattah Must Be Released, Says UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

eff.org - Wed, 06/07/2016 - 02:50

Nearly two years ago, along with the Media Legal Defence Initiative and with consent and input from his family, we submitted a petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) for the release of Egyptian coder, blogger, and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah. Abd El Fattah was arrested on November 28, 2013, two days after participating in a peaceful demonstration against a law allowing Egyptian civilians to be tried in military courts. His arrest was conducted without a warrant, he was beaten by police officers, and authorities raided his home while his wife and child were present. He was later sentenced to five years in prison.

The UNWGAD issued an opinion [PDF] last Wednesday stating that Alaa Abd El Fattah is being detained arbitrarily and calling on the Egyptian government to immediately release the influential activist. Specifically, the UNWGAD found that Abd El Fattah was arbitrarily arrested as a result from his exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and his participation in a peaceful protest, contrary to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 19, 21, and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Furthermore, the UNWGAD found Egyptian Law 107, on which his detention was based, to be contrary to international law.

Additionally, the Working Group: “expresse[d] its grave concern about the present case, which, when considered together with the previously adopted opinions relating to Egypt, indicates systemic and widespread arbitrary detentions of individuals in the context of peaceful protests.”

Indeed, his conviction is emblematic of Egypt’s efforts to target activists. It follows that the UNWGAD decision should be seen as a vindication of those Egyptians whose voices have been silenced.

MLDI and EFF are grateful to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and Leigh Day for their help in petitioning the Working Group.


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