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Kerry Threatens Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 22/02/2015 - 22:33
Kerry Threatens Russia
by Stephen Lendman
His bluster, bullying and Big Lies wore thin long ago. He uses diplomacy as a weapon against sovereign independent countries.
On February 5, the Washington Post cited a poll of 1,615 scholars from 1,375 colleges and universities. Kerry was rated America's worst Secretary of State in the past 50 years.
On February 21, he and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond met in London. Irresponsible Russia bashing took center stage.
Officials from both countries repeatedly blame Moscow for Kiev, US, and UK high crimes.
Ahead of his meeting with Hammond, Kerry threatened more sanctions on Russia. Earlier ones imposed accomplishing nothing besides growing enmity between both sides.
On February 20, Putin promised an appropriate response to any undue outside pressure.
Saying "(n)obody should have any illusions that it's possible to achieve military superiority over Russia  - or put it under some sort of pressure - as we'll always have an adequate response to such reckless schemes."
"(S)oldiers and officers have proven that they are ready to act decisively, coherently, professionally and courageously, performing the most difficult unconventional tasks, as befits a modern, experienced, combat-ready army, which values its traditions and military duty."
"A large-scale program of rearming the Army and Navy is being successfully implemented, which includes an active development of the aerospace and nuclear forces." 
"This is the guaranty of global parity." Russia will do everything in its power to defend itself, he added.
Kerry finds new ways to embarrass himself. He lied calling Russia's behavior "craven."
Absurdly said "Russia engaged in an absolutely brazen and cynical process over these last days."
Russia's lower house State Duma responded saying "(s)ham solidarity in sanctions against Russia has little in common with reality as it encroaches on the national interests of lots of European countries, and they are committed to fight for their rights."
Straightaway after February 12 Minsk II concluded, Washington and Kiev lied about Moscow sending troops and armaments into Southeastern Ukraine.
Clear evidence shows nothing of the sort occurred or is planned. Lots of evidence reveals Kiev violations. Don't expect Kerry or Hammond to explain.
Ukraine is a failed state politically, economically, socially and militarily. Washington's scheme so far failed badly. Its dirty game continues no matter how bad things look.
On February 21, activists demonstrated in Kiev in silence. They reminded the regime of promises made not fulfilled. 
They held placards reading "One year after the Maidan. What have you done?"
On Friday, Poroshenko was booed when he arrived to deliver his commemorative speech.
He was met with jeers, whistles and shouts of "shame." He lied saying 2015 would be "decisive for the start of fundamental changes in the construction of a new state."
Ukraine will "live in peace, develop an move in its chosen European direction."
Past promises were systematically broken. Rogue states operate this way. Conflict without end continues. Police state ruthlessness targets resisters. Ukraine is effectively bankrupt.
Poverty, unemployment, disdain for fundamental rights, and human misery are worst since WW II Nazi occupation. 
Fascists again are in charge. Ruthlessness defines their agenda. Poroshenko is a convenient US stooge. 
Growing anger suggests possible Maidan 2.0 ousting him. More radicalized elements than him may take over.
Italian journalist Vauro Senesi sees America's front "cracking." Merkel/Hollande v. Obama disagreements over Ukraine show Western anti-Russian solidarity much less firm than Washington wants.
Senesi went to Donbass. He calls what's ongoing "extremely dramatic. Instead of Russian (troops), there are guerrillas…fight(ing) against a (Nazi) government."
Things are at a crossroads, he believes. War caused a "humanitarian disaster" of epic proportions.
"Many cities and villages are partially depopulated." Refugees mainly head for safe haven in Russia.
It explains "who the liberators are," said Senesi. Area residents remaining can't get out.
They include the elderly, disabled and impoverished. It's winter. Temperatures are frigid.
People don't have water, electricity or other essentials. "I've seen…water…transported…in oil drums in the back of pickups in the bombarded and half-destroyed neighborhoods," Senesi explained.
He noted a moving scene of a pickup driver wearing a WW II Red Army uniform.
"It’s impossible, going there, not to see the fact that there is a clear strategy on the part of Kiev: ethnic cleansing," Senesi stressed. 
"When you strike the nerve center of the life of a community with such arrogance, that can only be the motive: Raze to the ground the schools, hospitals, factories, electric power plants…"
Rebel's are truly heroic, Senesi said. Besides "defending the territory militarily, they have also taken on the burden to the extent possible, of sustaining the population." 
"They distribute food and water, and organize co-ops and aid groups to rebuild the social fabric."
Ukraine is "a society run only in the interest of the tycoons." Fundamental rights "like access to healthcare" aren't available.
Gross unfairness "coupled with the Maidan coup (and Kiev aggression created) a deep chasm between the Russo-Ukrainian population and the Kiev regime."
"A war (in Donbass) in the heart of Europe could be the forerunner of a world conflict."
The good news is perhaps "the Americanist front is cracking," Senesi believes.
On Saturday, tens of thousands in Moscow joined an "Anti-Maidan" rally marking the anniversary of Washington's orchestrated coup.
They marched under the slogan "We Won't Forget. We Won't Forgive." They protested Nazism's reemergence in Europe's heartland replacing Ukraine's democratic government.
Banners read "No to Maidan - no to war." "Russia against Maidan." "Maidan is deceit."
Other banners displayed anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-US slogans.
One participant likely spoke for others saying "(I'm here) to support Russia indeed."
Another said "(i)f we didn't have Putin it would be Maidan here already."
In January, Russian activists founded the Anti-Maidan movement. Their main concern is preventing a US orchestrated color revolution.
Ukraine is a political, economic and social disaster. It's run by US-installed fascists serving Western interests and their own.
Political Science Professor Mark-David Mandel says conditions are "much worse than most people imagine."
Illegitimate prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's so-called "radical and tough changes" include:
  • hugely unpopular austerity;

  • strip-mining the country for profit;

  • selling off its land and enterprises at fire sale prices;

  • economic free-fall toward oblivion;

  • worse corruption than earlier;

  • police state repression; and 

  • US-supported dirty war without mercy against Donbass set to resume once Kiev military forces regroup and rearm.

A shaky ceasefire continues. Rebels accused Kiev forces of overnight shelling - targeting Donetsk and other areas.
Sustainable, durable peace remains pure fantasy. It's just a matter of time before full-scale conflict resumes.
OSCE envoy Heidi Tagliavini sounded an ominous note saying "(t)here is not a single day in the Ukrainian conflict when we can feel sure what the next day will bring."
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Washington bears full responsibility. Kiev's US-installed stooge regime and rogue EU partners share it.
Nothing suggests diplomatic efforts so far resolved anything. As long as Obama wants war, best efforts for peace won't stop him.
He and likeminded lunatics in Washington risk heading things toward global war. Stopping them matters most of all.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Greece Surrenders to Troika

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 22/02/2015 - 04:05
Greece Surrenders to Troika
by Stephen Lendman
Instead of renouncing its odious debt and walking away, Athens agreed to pay bankers first, maintain austerity, and let long-suffering Greeks continue taking the hindmost.
SYRIZA campaign pledges proved hollow. Pleasing Brussels and Washington matters more.
After weeks of negotiations, Greece got what the Wall Street Journal called "a tenuous agreement for a four-month extension of its bailout Friday removing immediate concerns over a potential exit from Europe's currency union but setting the stage for more tense negotiations over the country's financial future."
A Troika statement said:
"Greek authorities commit to refrain from any rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability, as assessed by the institutions."
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Athens "unequivocal(l)y commit(ted) to honor (its) financial obligations."
Rolling over Friday shows what's likely coming. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble suggested it saying "(n)ow we hope that trust can grow again."
Markets signaled approval. The Stoxx Europe 600 reached its highest level since November 2007. Even the weak euro gained against the dollar and yen.
US equities rose. The Russell 2000 small company index hit record highs.
Candidate Alexis Tsipras pledged relief from Troika-imposed harshness. Prime Minister Tsipras proved he's no different from other Greek politicians 
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tried putting a brave face on capitulation saying "(o)ur pre-electoral program was about four years. This deal is about four months."
Left unexplained are likely worse Greek financial conditions months ahead than now.
Its debt is too onerous to repay. It won't get easier ahead. Under Friday's agreement, Greece must indicate more budget cuts and austerity by Monday.
Its plan must be acceptable to Troika officials. Popular needs don't matter. 
Once agreement is reached, Athens will get another 7.2 billion euros making its debt burden more onerous than already.
It's unclear when funds will be released. On the one hand, both sides must reach agreement by April. On the other, Greece may be broke by March.
ECB officials said they're willing to resume normal lending to Greek banks for their day-to-day operations. Weeks could pass before funds arrive with no guarantee how much or for how long.
An unnamed ECB official said normal lending won't start until "there is a great likelihood of a positive conclusion of the programme."
In other words, until unconditional surrender is abslutely clear. On Friday, Athens agreed to "refrain from any rollback (or) unilateral changes" of existing policies.
Greece's debt level remains unchanged. Tsipras promised to cut it while campaigning.
Athens can opt out of some austerity measures as long as it substitutes others having just as much financial and economic impact.
Varoufakis was less than candid saying "(a)s of today, we're beginning to be co-authors of our destiny, co-authors of the reforms that we want to implement."
If he meant it, they'd be implemented already. Athens would forget about Troika help. 
Plenty without austerity strings is available from Russia, China, and perhaps other BRICS countries.
The Financial Times hailed the "11th-hour deal…" Saying it ended "weeks of uncertainty that threatened to spark a Greek bank run and bankrupt the country."
Troika policies bankrupted Greece. It's a zombie country waiting for its obituary to be written.
It can rise from the ashes through responsible policies not taken. Long-suffering Greeks face continued impoverishment, unemployment and human misery as far as the eye can see.
Friday's deal commits Athens to observe earlier agreed on bailout terms. What SYRIZA campaigning rejected. 
No strict compliance, no payout, said Germany's Schauble. According to the FT:
"The decision to request an extension of the current programme is a significant U-turn for Alexis Tsipras…"
While campaigning, he promised to kill existing bailout terms. He showed SYRIZA promises were empty.
According to Schauble, Athens "will have a difficult time to explain the deal to (its) voters."
Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith said "(t)here is no way of putting a pretty face on" Friday's agreement. "It represents a huge climbdown for Syriza."
"Despite loud promises," it capitulated to existing bailout terms. Even SYRIZA supporters know far it fell from grace.
It showed "a propensity to over-promise and under-deliver," said Smith. It faces an enormous challenge ahead to salvage anything out a rotten deal agreed to.
Open Europe economist Raoul Ruparel said Greece "folded this hand but the game of poker continues." 
Its government is "now short stack and living hand to hand (day to day)." 
"It continues to be in a very tough position, and how the evaporation of the vision which SYRIZA sold at the election will go down at home is a crucial and potentially explosive unknown."
Eurogroup finance ministers expressed appreciation to Greek governments over the past few years for addressing banker priorities ahead of popular ones.
They welcomed SYRIZA officials agreeing to continue along the same path as its predecessors - to honor their financial obligations to foreign creditors above all else.
To assure Western monied interests matter most of all no matter how much pain and suffering ordinary Greeks endure.
Capitulation best explains Friday's agreement. James Petras wrote a masterful account of how Greece got into its present day mess.
He explained he was former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's advisor from 1981 - 1984. Like Tsipras, he rose to power on promises of radical change.
"He…ended up capitulating to Brussels and NATO and embracing the oligarchs and kleptocrats in the name of 'pragmatic compromises,' " said Petras.
It remains to be seen how Greeks react when they realize they again were had. 
Petras hopes Tsipras will change tactics and avoid another Greek tragedy. It's hard imagining a major turnaround after such a disgraceful climbdown.
The best time to strike a good deal is straightaway. The worst time is after surrendering too much hoping later to recoup.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Caracas Mayor Part of US Coup Plot

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 22/02/2015 - 03:21
Caracas Mayor Part of US Coup Plot
by Stephen Lendman
Washington spent 16 years unsuccessfully trying to topple Venezuela's model democracy. 
On February 19, London's Guardian published an edited Venezuela Solidarity Campaign statement on its coup plot signed by 70 distinguished figures - including John Pilger and George Galloway. 
The unedited version says:
"We the undersigned note with grave concern the announcement of the discovery of a plot to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela in a coup on Thursday February 12." 
"Government officials have said the plans included violent attacks on the presidential palace and other government buildings."
"The thwarting of this latest coup attempt comes as leaders of numerous Latin American countries have warned of a similar situation developing in Venezuela to that which preceded the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, which led to the horrendous dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet." 
"The Non Aligned Movement (118 nations) has also echoed Latin America’s rejection of attempts to overthrow Venezuela’s legitimate government."
"Sections of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition have previously used violent and anti-democratic means to destabilise and seek to overthrow the country’s elected Government, most notably the temporarily successful coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002, and many right-wing opposition groups in Venezuela committed to overthrowing the elected, constitutional Government continue to receive funding from the US."
"We call on all governments internationally to respect Venezuela’s elected, constitutional Government and condemn this latest coup attempt."
Days earlier, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called clear evidence of Washington's coup plot "ridiculous."
On Friday, she called coup plot accusations "false and baseless. We do not support a political transition in Venezuela by non-constitutional means."
"We are deeply concerned by what appears to be the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its opponents by rounding up…prominent leaders of the opposition."
US post-WW II history alone reflects dozens of successful and failed coup attempts, political assassinations, and wars of aggression to topple independent foreign governments.
Psaki's Big Lies consistently ignore clear US rogue state history - including what's ongoing now in Venezuela, Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere.
No nation in world history has a more blood-drenched record. US policies threaten world peace. 
Obama administration neocons stop at nothing to achieve their imperial objectives - including replacing Venezuelan democracy with fascist rule.
TeleSUR said Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma (aka "the vampire") was arrested for plotting with Washington against President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela authorities charged him with sedition and conspiracy involvement in the foiled plot revealed days earlier.
He co-wrote a so-called "transition (coup) plan" with Washington favorites/fascist figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado.
Constitutional lawyer Jesus Silva called it "a putschist act of conspiracy that is unfortunately to the liking of thousands of opposition militants who have been indoctrinated to attack democracy."
According to TeleSUR, "young opposition activist" Lorent Saleh involved in organizing violent street protests named Ledezma last August as a coup plotter.
On Thursday, Maduro said:
"Antonio Ledezma who, today, by order of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, was captured and is going to be prosecuted by the Venezuelan justice system, to make him answer to all of the crimes committed against the peace and security of the country and the Constitution…" 
"We've had enough of conspiracies. We want to work in peace!" Don't expect Washington's foil plot to be its last.
Venezuela Analysis said although full coup plot details aren't known, "it appears (Ledezma) is implicated beyond his call for a transitional government."
Expect more arrests once more evidence is collected and announced, said Maduro.
"In these intelligence investigations, we have discovered a codified message, in another language, by an important leader of a party," he explained. 
"On translating it, we found that it gave the details, the elements of the coup." 
"We are about to capture the person who brought the script that they were going to read, the script they were going to read out was already written, and circulated by a person who I will name at the correct moment."
Ledezma was implicated in the aborted April two-day coup against Hugo Chavez.
Last year, he was involved in plotting street violence. Venezuela Analysis said "(h)e planned to go on a killing spree with the help of Colombian paramilitaries, but was arrested before the plan could take place."
He founded and heads Venezuela's hard-right/fascist Brave People's Alliance party. 
His mischief-making days may be over - along with other US supported fascists wanting Venezuela returned to its bad old days.
A Final Comment
Maduro said plans to kill him and topple his government were hatched in "Bogota, Madrid and Miami." For sure in Washington, as well as London and Ottawa.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos denied involvement. Human rights groups say at least 9,000 political prisoners languish in Colombian jails. 
Some organizations say around 22,000. Including trade unionists, human rights workers, independent journalists and political activists. Right-wing death squads kill with impunity.
According to Santos, "(t)here is no plot against any government from Colombia and, of course, if I learn about something specific in this regard, I will not only condemn but act with all the strength of the law."
He expressed concern about Ledezma's arrest. He believes currently incarcerated anti-government coup plotters should be released.
His support for hard-right opposition figures causes tensions between both countries. It won't surprise if Maduro announces evidence implicating him and his government in Washington's foiled coup plot.
British and Canadian involvement are known. Maybe Israel's dirty hands.
A New York Times propaganda piece practically exonerated Ledezma despite his history of anti-government coup plotting.
Saying "his supporters rallied in the capital and…elsewhere." His arrest "was viewed by the opposition as the kidnapping of a political rival to" Maduro.
His "backers called it another assault on democracy…(Maduro's) desperate (effort) to divert attention from Venezuela's internal ills and his own disapproval ratings…"
So he "concocted Mr. Ledezma's arrest.." The Times quoted his lawyer, Omar Estacio, saying "(h)e's content, in a happy state of mind and not scared of anything."
So-called unnamed witnesses called his arrest "disproportionately severe." Despite no evidence supporting their claims, they said he was "dragged…away to the intelligence agency's headquarters."
The Times quoted the State Department's Big Lie about Washington "not promoting unrest in Venezuela, nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela's economy or its government."
Times editors supported Washington's April 2002 aborted two-day coup. It outrageously vilified Chavez throughout his tenure. 
Bashes Maduro the same way. Consistently substitutes Big Lies for hard truths on Venezuela and all other geopolitical issues mattering most.
It relentlessly supports monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Vilifying Venezuela's model democracy and Bolivarian fairness reflect longstanding Times policy.
It advocates replacing them with fascist rule. Giving Washington another colony to exploit. 
Don't expect Venezuelans to tolerate losing what everyone deserves. Don't expect The Times to support right over wrong.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Russia Bashing Big Lies Persist

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 21/02/2015 - 22:19
Russia Bashing Big Lies Persist
by Stephen Lendman
Washington and go-along presstitute media Big Lies exceed anything in memory throughout the Cold War.
Despite Ukraine's military chief, OSCE monitors, Ukrainian officials inspecting its border areas with Russia, Dutch experts, and French President Francois Hollande concurring on no Russia troops involved in Ukraine, outlandish Big Lies persist.
Hollande's comments are the latest at a joint news conference with Angela Merkel.
He said no evidence shows Russian forces in Ukraine. Putin respects Ukrainian sovereignty. 
Moscow intends no military operations against Ukraine. He "does not want to annex Eastern Ukraine" or wage war against any country.
Not according to the Wall Street Journal headlining "US Says More Russian Troops, Weapons Enter Ukraine; Europe Stands By Truce."
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren lied claiming "continued large quantities of Russian equipment flow(ing) from Russia into Ukraine."
"All of this Russian equipment…contributes to destabilization." These and similar comments are willful lies. 
Media scoundrels regurgitate them like gospel. They report nothing about Washington supplying Kiev with heavy weapons since conflict began last year.
Plans perhaps include greater supplies ahead - in preparation for renewed Kiev aggression at Washington's discretion.
On February 20, Journal editors headlined "The Ukraine Humiliation. Putin marches over Merkel, Hollande and Obama."
Ludicrously saying "(i)n the sorry annals of 'cease-fires,' this week's fiasco in southern Ukraine will have to rank among the most instantly humiliating."
No mention of Obama's coup d'etat. Replacing democrats with neo-Nazis. Waging proxy war on Donbass. 
Wanting total control over America's newest colony to be used as a dagger targeting Russia's heartland.
Instead, Journal editors claimed "Russian troops and their rebel frontmen accelerated their assault on…Debaltseve."
"Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat willy-nilly through a bloody gantlet with an unknown number killed or captured."
Debaltseve wasn't part of Minsk. Kiev forces were routed. Hundreds surrendered. Maybe thousands by now. 
They abandoned their weapons and stopped fighting a losing battle. Leaving Kiev's military deteriorated in disarray - a spent force needing time to regroup and rearm for renewed conflict later on at Washington's discretion.
End-game fighting could have been avoided if they recognized the futility of continued conflict and quit. Instead, Kiev military strategy proved disastrous.
Journal editors blame Russia and rebels for Kiev crimes. Intense bashing persists. 
Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon was quoted claiming Moscow's invasion and destabilization of Ukraine poses a "very real and present danger."
"I'm worried about Mr. Putin," said Fallon. "I'm worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO."
Journal editors disgracefully called him "the cutthroat in the Kremlin." He "wants a Greater Russia that he can dominate."
"He wants a cowed West that will leave him to it. And after watching Western leaders beg for his mercy after Minsk, he can see a clearer path to getting both."
Presstitute editors feature this type rubbish. Neocon Journal editors feature all propaganda all the time. Nothing they say has credibility.
A February 19 Washington Post propaganda piece headlined "Hopes for Ukraine cease-fire fade as fighting spreads across the east."
WaPo lied about rebel-initiated combat "nearly 100 miles" north of Debaltsevo. It duplicitously claimed "Mariupol…came under heavy artillery attack by rebel forces."
No evidence corroborating its accusations was presented. None exists. 
Independent reports say rebels unilaterally began withdrawing artillery and other heavy weapons from front line positions - scrupulously observing Minsk, reserving the right to return fire if attacked.
Don't expect WaPo, WSJ or other media scoundrels to explain. Big Lies substitute for hard truths. Expect lots more ahead.
RT International reported "gaffe-prone" State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki moving up to White House communications director in April.
Her Big Lies about nonexistent Russian aggression won't be missed. They continue while remaining in her present capacity.
On February 19, she lied claiming rebels violated Minsk over 250 times - without citing evidence of a single violation.
Saying "(t)he United States condemns continuing attacks by Russia-backed separatists in and around Debaltseve, Mariupol and other locations in eastern Ukraine which violate the ceasefire and flout the Minsk agreements."
She turned truth on its head demanding Russia and rebels "stop their attacks immediately, withdraw heavy weapons, halt the flow of fighters an equipment from Russia into Ukraine."
On February 20, she accused Russia of "not abiding by the agreement (it) signed, by continuing to support and intervene illegally in Ukraine."
"Yes, they're violating international norms, and they're violating international law…We're particularly concerned about new attacks near Mariupol"
"…(I)f Russia and the separatists fail to implement the agreements, end the violence, and halt the flow of fighters, there will be additional costs."
Again, no evidence supported her baseless accusations. Her comments on Ukraine feature outrageous Russia bashing - even when hard truths dispel her Big Lies.
Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Don't expect Psaki to explain now or ahead in her new job. She's paid to lie.
Der Spiegel calls Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland "America's riot-diplomat."
They quoted her saying "F..k the EU" last year while plotting to oust Ukraine's government.
She poses a threat to America's allies, said Spiegel. Instead of solving problems she creates them.
"In the crisis, (she) become(s) the problem." She's part of a neocon scheme heading things recklessly toward nuclear confrontation with Russia.
She opposes Minsk despite publicly claiming support. She, Obama, and likeminded Washington lunatics risk the unthinkable.
John Kerry heads for Britain this weeked for discussions with his counterpart Philip Hammond on Ukraine and other joint US/UK wars.
From there he travels to Geneva for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif ahead of Netanyahu's planned congressional address intending to hype a nonexistent Tehran nuclear threat.
The only way out of a nuclear standoff is through constructive dialogue, Zarif stressed. Maintaining sanctions and pressure assure no resolution whatever.
On Wednesday, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei warned against Western plots to impede Iran's scientific and technological progress.
Saying the "main goal (of sanctions) is humiliation of the Iranian nation and stopping (its) great move towards a new Islamic civilization…" 
"…I believe that even if we accept the demands that they (want to) dictate on us in the nuclear issue, the sanctions will not be removed since they are opposed to the (Islamic) Revolution in essence."
He blasted US threats and go-along EU policies. Saying "the Iranian nation can impose sanctions (on them) and…will do so" if things aren't resolved responsibly.
On Saturday, RT International explained a CIA plot to plant fake atomic component designs transferred to Iran in 2000.
A revealed 1997 CIA cable said "(t)he goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money."
Former UK IAEA envoy Peter Jenkins said "(t)his story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a 'smoking gun' in Iran for the IAEA to find."
This information provides more damning evidence of how America operates - a rogue monster threatening humanity's survival.
A Final Comment
The Carnegie Endowment's Russia and Eurasia program director/former National Intelligence Council officer Eugene Rumer says Washington uses Ukraine's military for proxy war on Russia.
Arming it lets America "fight the Russian military with the hands of Ukrainian soldiers with us in a sort of remote-control situation."
Brookings fellow Jeremy Shapiro calls US arms shipments to Ukraine "a war of the West against Russia…and at a certain level it will be."
The potential catastrophic consequences of Washington's proxy Ukraine war have not been fully considered, Shapiro argues.
Is America "ready to go to war against a nuclear power for the sake of Ukraine," he asked?
Given neocon lunatics running things in Washington, anything is possible - even the unthinkable.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Pyrawebs: Paraguayans Rise Up Against Mandatory Data Retention

eff.org - Sat, 21/02/2015 - 15:57

Paraguay understands the dangers of pervasive surveillance. Its ex-dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, maintained his grip on power with the help of “pyragues”, informers who monitored the civilian population on his behalf. That’s why so many in the country recognise the dangers in its new proposed data retention bill. The bill, currently being debated by its politicians, would compel local ISPs to retain communications and location details of every user for a period of 12 months. No wonder it’s been described as creating a new gang of “pyrawebs”: online informers that the authorities can ask to pinpoint the movements, connections, and associations of any Paraguayan citizen.

"For the amount of data that may be available, I'm sure it will overtake the “Terror Archive of the Stroessner dictatorship,” blogger David Bogado, says of the new bill. “This is the Archive of Terror 2.0.”

Modern Paraguay has strong legal protections against the recurrence of a surveillance state. Its constitution, written after Stroessner,  takes special care to assert the inviolability of private communications. It also gives  international human rights treaties that the Paraguayan state has ratified the binding force of law.  In particular, Paraguay has ratified the Pacto de San José de Costa Rica, which protects civil and political rights, declaring:

“Nobody will be the subject of arbitrary or abusive interference in its private life, family, home or correspondence, nor illegal attacks to its honor or reputation.”

Paraguay does not, however, have a personal data protection law, which makes the unchecked nature of the data retention proposals even more dangerous, as it forces companies to comply with the state’s demand for data, without providing any way for citizens to limit or correct the data collected on them.

Maricarmen Sequera, the executive director of Paraguayan digital rights organization TEDIC spells out what the stakes are for the country.

“Thirty-five years of dictatorship in Paraguay scarred our society with silence and fear. The police state is not new to Paraguay; it makes it worse that in this case, the monitoring will be done by private companies. We want a democracy, not a new set of pyrawebs.”

The risks of Paraguay’s data retention bill

In contrast to other Paraguayan law initiatives which only allow the government access to stored data when investigating serious offenses, the new proposal would grant the government access to data for any type of offense, however minor, such as peer-to-peer downloads and defamation. The current draft does not specify a level of evidentiary proof or justification that should be be met in order to access the data.

“The pyrawebs law is ambiguous because it suggests the prosecution of serious crimes such as terrorism and pedophilia, but actually affects any offense such as slander, bribery, or Internet downloads that might infringe copyright law,” writes the sociologist and free software advocate Luis Alonzo Fulchi, who has been tracking the bill as it passes through Paraguay’s congress.

The bill’s language is vague enough in its scope to potentially require any physical person or entity that offers access to Internet to collect and store data for the government. That include cyber cafes, coffee shops, libraries, or firms that provide work Internet access. As with data retention proposals elsewhere, indisciminate and universal data collection opens the possibility for breaches of confidentiality between doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, journalists and their sources.

The bill does exclude the mass collection of the content of communications. But, as the rest of the world is slowly realizing, the increasing abundance of metadata, and the techniques for aggregating and analyzing it, means that “mere metadata”  on its own reveals a devastating amount about private citizens. The government’s ability to gather even the simplest forms of metadata, over a long period of time, and organize it using modern surveillance techniques can easily garner the kind of vicious insight that the original Pyragues could only dream of.  The Inter American Court for Human Rights made clear in Escher y Otros vs. Brasil1  that content, as well as metadata are protected by the Inter-American's human rights laws:

"Article 11 applies to telephone conversations irrespective of their content and can even include both the technical operations designed to record this content by taping it and listening to it, or any other element of the communication process; for example, the destination or origin of the calls that are made, the identity of the speakers, the frequency, time and duration of the calls, aspects that can be verified without the need to record the content of the call by taping the conversation.”

Paraguay must uphold its current international human rights obligations by introducing a law that will genuinely protect personal data. Moreover, the bill needs to comply with the principles of legality, legitimate aim, necessity, proportionality, among others. Allowing the parawebs law to pass would be an insult to Paraguay’s history, ignore decades of experience of what pervasive surveillance can do to a society. Join Paraguay’s activists and fight against the new bill at TEDIC’s new site:  http://pyrawebs.tedic.org/  and share our video explaining the dangers of data retention here.

Resources:

13 Principles Week of Action: The “Metadata Debate” ~ A Latin American Perspective

  • 1. Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Case of Escher v. Brasil. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgement of 6 July 2009. Series C No. 200, para. 114.
Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data RetentionSurveillance and Human Rights
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Abuse and Harassment: What Could Twitter Do?

eff.org - Sat, 21/02/2015 - 08:58

The mainstream media has paid a lot more attention to abuse and harassment on Twitter lately, including a recent story by Lindy West on This American Life about her experience confronting an especially vitriolic troll. She isn’t alone—and it appears that for the company at least, the number of Twitter users speaking out about harassment has reached critical mass. In an internal memo obtained by The Verge earlier this month, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged Twitter's troubled history with harassment, writing:

We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years. It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day. I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing.

We’re glad to see Twitter taking abuse1 seriously. In the past, Twitter's senior executives have been reticent to engage critics on the harassment issue. Mr. Costolo is right. Abuse has (understandably) driven some users off of Twitter and other platforms. And as a digital civil liberties organization, whose concerns include both privacy and free speech, we have some thoughts about what Twitter should and shoudn’t do to combat its abuse problem.

Clearer Policies, Better Tools

Twitter's rules concerning abusive behavior appear to be very straightforward:

Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others, including threats against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability. Targeted abuse or harassment is also a violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.

In truth, Twitter's abuse policies are open to interpretation. And the way Twitter does interpret them can be difficult for outsiders to understand—which perhaps explains complaints from users that they seem to be enforced inconsistently. Users have argued that abuse reports often disappear without response, or take months to resolve. On the other hand, it appears that sometimes tweets are removed or accounts are suspended without any explanation to the user of the applicable policy or reference to the offending content.

Twitter could work to address these criticisms by bringing more transparency and accountability to its abuse practices. We understand why the company would want to avoid bringing more attention to controversial or offensive content. But Twitter could expand its transparency report to include information about content takedowns and account suspensions related to abuse complaints, such as the number of complaints, type of complaint, whether or not the complaint resulted in the takedown of content or the suspension of an account, and so on. Transparency can be a rocky road, and can draw attention to the flaws in a company's approach as well as highlight its success. But if Twitter wants a better process, and not just less criticism, it's a powerful feedback loop that can improve responsiveness and user trust.

Twitter could also give users better options for controlling the type of content they see on the service in the first place. Several proposals along these lines have been enumerated by Danilo Campos, including giving the option to block accounts that are less than 30 days old, blocking all users with a low follower count, and blocking keywords in @ replies, and the ability to share lists of blocked users with friends. Not all of these solutions need to start from scratch, either. Applications such as Block Together, which grants many of these options to Twitters users, already exist. But Twitter could and should build these abilities directly into its web and mobile interfaces.

Similarly, Twitter could make it easier to control which notifications users see. Currently, the web interface for Twitter allows people to easily filter notifications so that users can see all notifications, or only notifications from people they follow. However, the mobile interface and app bury this capability deep in its menus. Users facing harassment should be treated as a first class user of the platform, not a special case. That means features meant to help them should be easy to access.

Twitter's Role in Policing Content

Handling abuse complaints individually is an enormous challenge for a global corporation like Twitter. It's unclear how Twitter can scale the responses users expect and deserve when dealing with thousands of cases per week, across hundreds of languages and millions of users. That’s one reason why we support seeking solutions to harassment that don’t rely on centralized platforms. If Twitter wants to do any policing of its platform, it will need the human touch—not just an automated algorithm. To do that requires well-staffed abuse teams, with the resources and the tools to be responsive, examine complaints in context, and clearly explain the link between every takedown or suspension and Twitter's policies to the affected user.

Those abuse teams will need to understand the context from which their users speak. Research in the United States shows that women, African-American, and Hispanic users report disproportionate levels of harassment. The pattern that certain groups—ethnic, economic, political or gendered—receive higher levels of abuse online looks to hold true globally. Companies like Twitter have already publicly recognized the importance of diversity in their workplace. Diversity in their abuse team could be useful in providing necessary context to understand and react correctly to harassment reports. Before that happens, mistakes are going to be made—and we worry that mistakes will disproportionately affect those targeted groups.

What Twitter Shouldn't Do

There's plenty there for Twitter to consider in tackling its abuse problem head-on, but there are also a lot of ways in which these efforts can go wrong. Looking a little further down in Costolo's memo, he writes:

We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.

This is a dangerous sentiment. Kicking people off left and right is exactly the opposite of the kind of contextual, nuanced examination of complaints that Twitter needs to do if it intends to suspend accounts or take down content. And it's an attitude will inevitably lead to poor decisions. Mr. Costolo’s conflation of trolls and abuse is an indicator of this. While some trolls may also be abusers, as we’ve noted before, ugly or offensive speech doesn’t always rise to the level of harassment.

Solutions that empower users rather than solutions that seek to bury the platform's problem by swiftly ejecting and silencing users, are in the long term more scaleable, and less arbitrary. We're glad to see evidence that Twitter is planning to get aggressive about the challenge of harassment, but we hope that aggression doesn't come at the expense of being smart.

  • 1. We see abuse as synonymous with our definition of harassment—extreme levels of targeted hostility; exposure of private lives; violent, personalized imagery, and threats of violence.
Related Issues: Free Speech
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Find Out if You've Been Spied on—and Join the Fight for Privacy

eff.org - Sat, 21/02/2015 - 04:01

Want to know if GCHQ spied on you? Now you can find out. Privacy International (PI) has just launched a website that lets anyone find out if their communications were intercepted by the NSA and then shared with GCHQ.

The website is the result of a February 6 ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the US, the IPT is a special court in the UK established by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that deals with issues of surveillance and human rights.

The February 6th ruling held that intelligence sharing between GCHQ and NSA done prior to December 2014 was unlawful. The decision, which applied to information collected by the NSA through Prism and Upstream, was based on the secrecy of the rules governing sharing of that information. This followed a December ruling in which the court held that information sharing between the NSA and GCHQ could continue because the oversight of the data-collection program had been made public, bringing it into compliance with European law. Privacy International disagreed with the decision made by the tribunal on this point and is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.   

As Privacy International points out, “The [February] decision was the first time in the Tribunal’s history that it had ruled against the actions of the intelligence and security services.”

But what does the ruling mean? That’s where Privacy International comes in.

Because of the ruling, there is an opportunity for people to try to find out if their communications were among those shared by NSA with GCHQ. Intelligence agencies use information like ip addresses and email addresses as “selectors” when sifting through the massive quantities of data they collect. GCHQ will comply with the IPT’s ruling by searching “selectors” it received from the NSA prior to December 2014.

But this won't happen automatically. People need to actually file requests with the IPT. To help people do so, PI is collecting people’s names, numbers, and emails in order to assist them in asserting their rights and finding out whether those selectors were subject to unlawful sharing. If they were, PI will help individuals seek a declaration that that person’s privacy rights have been violated under Article 8 and Article 10 of the UK Human Rights Act, the law that codified the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Once the IPT issues a declaration for an individual, that individual can also request that their records be deleted. There’s no need to be a UK citizen—anyone can participate.

One thing to note: In order to determine who is affected, PI will have to pass selectors on to IPT and GCHQ. PI notes that “GCHQ are only allowed to keep your details for the purposes of establishing whether or not they spied on you illegally and for the duration of the investigation by the IPT.” But those whose selectors (for instance, a phone number and a legal name) are not publicly associated with each other may want to be careful, because the GCHQ would now know that they are associated.

But the risk is relatively low, and the payoff is that the more people who sign on and learn that they’ve been affected by GCHQ and NSA spying, the clearer it becomes that reform to surveillance is urgently needed. Eric King, Deputy Director of Privacy International, put it best:

There are few chances that people have to directly challenge the seemingly unrestrained surveillance state, but individuals now have a historic opportunity [to] finally hold GCHQ accountable for their unlawful actions.

To participate in Privacy International’s campaign, sign up here. To learn more, read PI’s FAQ here.

Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human RightsNSA Spying
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Turkish Forces Attack Syrian Troops

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 21/02/2015 - 03:29
Turkish Forces Attack Syrian Troops
by Stephen Lendman
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government partners with Obama's dirty war on Syria. CIA and US Special Forces arm and train IS terrorists in Turkish territory together with its military.
A Thursday agreed on deal affirms what's been ongoing all along covertly. Once readied for combat, death squad extremists head cross border to wage war on Assad. 
For nearly four years, Obama waged proxy war to oust him - complicit with Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf States, Jordan, Britain, and France.
In January, Pentagon sources confirmed deploying hundreds more US special forces and support personnel to train thousands of anti-Assad fighters - IS, Al Qaeda, Nusra Front and other terrorists called "moderates."
Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford admits moderates don't exist in numbers and motivation enough to matter. Claims otherwise are Big Lies. 
On February 18, McClathy publications headlined "Once a top booster, ex-US envoy no longer backs arming Syrian rebels."
Saying they're jihadists. Extremist groups hold most areas outside government control. Ford calls Obama's Syrian policy "a huge failure…singularly unsuccessful."
"It is impossible to field an effective opposition when no one even agrees on who or what is the enemy…(W)alk away and say there's nothing we can do about Syria."
Last year, ALMONITOR reported wiretap evidence revealing Turkish troops attacking Syrian forces. 
Evidence shows Ankara supplies IS and other extremist anti-Assad groups with weapons, munitions and artillery support.
"(W)iretap transcripts reveal that the opposition forces at Kassab inform people in Turkey of the coordinates of Syrian army positions around Kassab, and then Turkey shells those locations," said ALMONITOR.
Turkish forces shot down at least one Syrian warplane. Ankara's Foreign Ministry consistently lies claiming no Turkish involvement in "supporting the opposition forces by allowing them to use Turkish territory or in any other way." against Assad.
"Wiretaps tell a different story," said ALMONITOR. Showing Turkey directly supports extremist anti-Assad elements.
On February 19, Alakhbar headlined "Turkey Attempting to Thwart Syrian Army Operation in the Aleppo Countryside."
Ankara "involved itself in the battle raging in Aleppo's northern countryside." Heavy fighting continues. Turkey supports anti-Assad groups.
Transfers their fighters, weapons and munitions from Turkish territory to Aleppo. "Ankara opened the border to (anti-Assad fighters) and supplied them with what they need to preempt a new military reality in the area…"
US-supported IS and other extremist groups can't defeat Assad on their own. Or with US bombing short of heavily targeting Damascus, other government held areas and Syrian military positions.
War could continue for years. Tens of thousands more could die. Perhaps millions more uprooted. Nearly half of Syria's population is displaced.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls the "Syrian crisis the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era…"
"(M)any refugees are now facing food shortages on top of unbearable winter conditions."
Emergency aid is needed to help them survive. Last December, Amnesty International highlighted "(t)he world's pitiful response to Syria's refugee crisis."
A report titled "Left Out in the Cold: Syrian Refugees Abandoned by the International Community" explains some of the horrors of Obama's war on another independent country.
One refuge explained as follows, saying:
"We have been living here for three years. We have  no family living here…My son Yousef has autism. We don't go to anyone."
"We don't visit anyone because dealing with him is difficult. Peoplestay away because they are afraid he will hurt their children." 
"So we stay here from morning to evening…(T)his little room is our bedroom. It is our living room. Ii is our everything." 
"Our financial situation doesn't allow us to register him in such(specialist) schools…That is why we need to resettle in another country, to get help for our child. This will make it better for him and for us."
Over 10 million Syrians are internally or externally displaced. Most endure nightmarish conditions.
Survival is a daily struggle. Essentials to life are way short of what's needed. Perhaps a million or more will perish before conflict ends.
Obama bears full responsibility. Washington planned Assad's removal long before conflict began in March 2011.
It could rage years more before ending. CIA and US special forces continue training IS and other extremist fighters in Turkey, Jordan and Georgia.
A previous article discussed a Pakistani IS commander Washington paid $600 a head to "recruit young people to fight in Syria."
Likely many others like him are involved. Washington actively recruits, trains, arms, funds and directs IS and other extremist fighters to wage war on Assad.
Large parts of Syria are ravaged and destroyed. A nightmarish humanitarian disaster worsens daily.
Obama wants congressional authorization to wage unlimited war against any adversary he chooses. Bombing Syria continues.
Perhaps US boots on the ground come next. Obama declared war on humanity. Thousands of American combat troops operate in Iraq. 
Perhaps invading Syria is planned. Maybe with rogue NATO partners and Israeli involvement.
Carte blanche war-making authority Obama seeks means greater than ever war on humanity. Bombing any country could be ordered.
US combat forces could be deployed anywhere on the bogus pretexts of national security and humanitarian intervention.
Bipartisan gangsterism in Washington makes anything possible. Obama's war on humanity rages out-of-control.
Michel Chossudovsky explains his "fake war" on IS. Part of his permanent war agenda MSM presstitutes call counterterrorism.
Hawks want escalated military operations. "Why has the US Air Force not been able to wipe out the Islamic State which at the outset was largely equipped with conventional small arms not to mention state of the art Toyota pickup trucks," asked Chossudovsky?
Because Obama's bombing "campaign has NOT been directed against ISIS" as MSM presstitutes claim.
"The evidence confirms that the Islamic State is not the target. Quite the opposite," Chossudovsky explains.
"The air raids are intended to destroy the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria."
IS and other extremist fighters are US proxy forces - death squad killers waging America's wars.
With considerable help from rogue NATO allies, "Israel and Washington's Persian Gulf allies," Chossudovsky adds.
As long as America's killing machine goes unchecked, expect one country after another to be ravaged and destroyed - on the bogus pretext of protecting national security, humanitarian intervention and spreading democracy worldwide.
The latter is Washington's most lethal export!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama's Ukraine Agenda: Fascist Governance, Oppression, War, Chaos, Human Misery, Economic Bankruptcy, Collapsed Social Order, Mob Rule

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 20:59
Obama's Ukraine Agenda: Fascist Governance, Oppression, War, Chaos, Human Misery, Economic Bankruptcy, Collapsed Social Order, Mob Rule
by Stephen Lendman
February 22 marks the US orchestrated Maidan coup anniversary. The most brazen European one since Mussolini's 1922 march on Rome.
Fascist putschists replaced democrats. Overt Nazis hold real power in Europe's heartland for the first time since WW II.
Ukraine is the epicenter of possible European war. It's a dagger targeting Russia's heartland. America's strategy to topple its government could launch WW III.
Maybe a major US initiated false flag away. Or hugely provocative US encroachment near Russia's borders.
Washington lunatics are spoiling for a fight with Russia. Things head inexorably toward direct confrontation.
Ongoing events should scare everyone. Rick Rozoff's Stop NATO web site posts information everyone needs to know.
He explains Washington continues beefing up its military presence in Eastern Europe. US Air Force NATO reinforcements arrived in Germany.
Pentagon publication Stars and Stripes reports US-dominated NATO combat readiness "to be put to (the) test in 2015" - targeting Russia.
Obama's Ukraine war is prelude to sought regime change. Wanting pro-Western stooge governance replacing Russian sovereign independence.
Risking direct confrontation in the process. The madness of possible nuclear war. Minsk II resolved nothing.
Other than showing Merkel and Hollande recognize the danger, want it diffused, to prevent European war for the first time since WW II.
On February 4, they met with Putin in Moscow - either without informing Obama or acting on their own initiative without his OK.
Hollande said "(t)ogether with Angela Merkel, we have decided to take a new initiative." They acted while John Kerry was in Kiev plotting war strategy with Poroshenko - promising continued deliveries of US heavy weapons.
US-style diplomacy is all-out war. Hollande and Merkel apparently want it ended once and for all. France and Germany are in the eye of a potential storm. 
They have every reason to want it prevented at all costs. They want no repeat of WW I and II ravaging their countries.
It remains to be seen if together with Putin they can stop America's war machine. And its go-along presstitute media promoting direct confrontation with Russia.
Neocons control The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial and op-ed pages.
WaPo's February 18 editorial resembles many others like it. Headlining "Russia marches on uninhibited in eastern Ukraine," it claims Minsk "virtually guarantees Russian control over" Donbass.
It ludicrously accused Putin of using "Russian army troops" against Debaltsevo - "assaut(ing) the city in brazen violation of a cease-fire."
"(F)orces…seiz(ing) Debaltseve were…Russian regulars…The takeover…will go a long way to consolidate the breakaway puppet state (Putin is) building in eastern Ukraine."
"European leaders will not stop Russian aggression without (more) determined" US action.
Fact: Putin supports sovereign Ukrainian independence.
Fact: His diplomatic efforts exclude intervening in its internal affairs.
Fact: It's up to Ukrainians to decide their future, he believes - not foreign powers.
Fact: Since conflict began last April, he alone among world leaders went all-out to end it diplomatically. 
Fact: He continues working for peace and stability.
Fact: Washington consistently thwarts his best efforts.
Fact: Obama wants war, not peace.
Fact: He want control over Ukraine as a stepping stone to initiating regime change in Russia.
Fact: No Russian forces operate in Ukraine. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Fact: Ukrainian armed forces head General Viktor Muzenko explained saying "(w)e are not fighting with the regular Russian army."
Fact: On February 19, Tass reported Kiev officers inspecting 15,000 square meters in Russia's Rostov region bordering Ukraine finding no military activity.
Fact: On February 20, Dutch military inspectors found no evidence of Russian involvement in the Rostov region bordering Ukraine.
Fact: OSCE monitors detected no Russian forces crossing border areas into Ukraine. No threatening Russian military movements exist.
Fact: Minsk said nothing about Debaltsevo. No rebel or Russian ceasefire violations occurred.
Fact: Kiev forces committed numerous violations. Expect lots more ahead.
Relative, not total, calm followed Debastsevo's fall. A previous article called it a Ukrainian Stalingrad. 
A huge at least short-term devastating turning point Kiev defeat. By no means an end of conflict. Just a matter of time until it resumes like earlier.
US heavy weapons keep pouring into Ukraine. US combat troops are training its military. CIA, FBI an US special forces infest Kiev.
Perhaps Obama intends participating directly in the next combat phase. It's coming. Don't expect Merkel/Hollande best efforts to stop it.
Toppling Putin remain's Washington's main goal. Controlling Ukraine is a stepping stone toward that objective. Achieving it requires crushing Donbas freedom fighters.
Expect resumed conflict once Ukraine's military regroups and rearms. Washington's best efforts to get Russia involved in fighting failed.
Poroshenko wanting NATO peacekeepers he calls EU ones is duplicitous. It's a thinly veiled scheme perhaps intended to initiate a major false flag targeting NATO forces blamed on Russia.
A way to get US-dominated NATO directly involved in the war's next phase - a major escalation potentially triggering European war.
Deploying peacekeepers requires Security Council approval. A Russian veto would mean Washington acting jointly with EU partners willing to play its dirty game.
It's so over-the-top perhaps no key ones will agree. Perhaps none at all. At the same time, Poroshenko's hold on power looks shaky at best. 
Crushing Debaltsevo defeat may have sealed his fate. Washington may want him replaced.
The Saker reports "Nazi death squads…on the march…(L)eaders formed their own military command" headed by Semen Semenchenko.
He's an extremist Ukrainian MP/volunteer paramilitary commander. His scheme may be Maidan 2.0, ousting Poroshenko, and replacing him overt Nazi rule.
Germany's Bild newspaper reported US/European discord over Ukraine. "Germany in particular," it said. "Americans speak about Germans in rather derogatory terms."
"According to Bild sources, American four-star generals, diplomats, and high-ranking US politicians held a frank discussion in a 'briefing room,' and held forth about the Germans."
John McCain called German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen "(d)efeatist…"
"(B)ecause she no longer believes in a Kiev victory." Neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland called Merkel's diplomacy with Putin her "Moscow thing."
Another unnamed US State Department official called European peace efforts "Moscow bullshit."
McCain "talked himself into a rage," saying:
"History shows us that dictators always take more, whenever you let them." 
"They can’t be brought back from their brutal behavior when you fly to Moscow to them, just like someone once flew to this city."
"Merkel's diplomatic initiative…stands at the center of American anger," said Bild.
"American's don't believe that Putin can't be made to back off without a major push, and the Europeans have no wish" for confrontation.
An unnamed US politician called it "painful to see that our NATO partners are getting cold feet."
Bild called Nuland a close Obama confidante. She reeks of neocon extremism.
"We can fight against the Europeans," she said. "We can fight with rhetoric against them."
She wants information about heavy US supplied lethal weapons suppressed. She "strongly urge(s) us(ing) the phrase 'defensive system'…to oppose Putin's offensive systems."
Germany, France and other EU nations appear fundamentally at odds with Obama's Ukraine scheme at this point. 
Avoiding potential conflict with Russia way exceeds loyalty to its key NATO partner. 
It remains to be seen if they can slow Washington's war machine. If history is any guide, don't bet on 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.

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

How to Remove Superfish Adware From Your Lenovo Computer

eff.org - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 12:54

We recently learned that PC manufacturer Lenovo is selling computers preinstalled with a dangerous piece of software, called Superfish, that uses a man-in-the-middle attack to break Windows' encrypted Web connections for the sake of advertising. (Here's a list of affected products.) Research from EFF's Decentralized SSL Observatory has seen many thousands of Superfish certificates that have all been signed with the same root certificate, showing that HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken. Firefox users also have the problem, because Superfish also inserts its certificate into the Firefox root store.

This is a serious security issue. For example, shortly after this news became widespread, security researcher Robert Graham was able to extract the certificate from the Superfish adware and quickly cracked the password. With this password, a malicious attacker would be able to intercept encrypted communications on the same network (like at a cafe Wi-Fi hotspot).

To find out if this issue affects you, go to Filippo Valsorda's Superfish CA test page in Internet Explorer or Chrome first. If you see a "YES," follow these instructions (courtesy of Valsorda and from Lenovo's instructions) for removal:

Step I: Uninstall the Superfish software
  1. Open the Windows Start menu or Start screen and search for Uninstall a program. Launch it.
  2. Right-click Superfish Inc VisualDiscovery and select Uninstall. When prompted, enter your administrator password.

Uninstalling the software is not enough, because the uninstall does not remove the root certificate.   Step II: Remove the certificate from Windows
  1. Open the Windows Start menu or Start screen and search for certmgr.msc. Right-click it and select Launch as Administrator.
  2. Click Trusted Root Certification Authorities and open Certificates.
  3. Scroll down or use find to get to the Superfish, Inc. certificate.
  4. Right-click it and select Delete. If you don’t see the option to delete it, you may not be running as an administrator (See step 1).

Step III: Remove the certificate from Firefox

This might or might not be needed, but check to be sure.

  1. Go to Options/Preferences.
  2. Click Advanced, then Certificates.
  3. Click View Certificates.
  4. Look for Superfish, if it's there, click it and then click Delete or Distrust.

Step IV: Restart your browser

Close or quit your Web browser(s) completely. You can also restart your computer.

Step V: Check again

Load the test page again from both Chrome/IE and from Firefox and make sure you get a No this time.

Note: The test might still be stuck on the old result. If after you follow the steps to remove Superfish you still get a YES, visit canibesuperphished.com. If you are warned by your web browser before you can access the site, Superfish has been successfully removed.

Congratulations, you fixed your new laptop! It might be a good idea to change important passwords now. (It's always a good idea anyway.)

Thanks to Filippo Valsorda for letting us use his how-to guide!

Related Issues: Security
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GCHQ and NSA Collaborate to Steal the Keys to Your Cellphone

eff.org - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 11:09

Anyone interested in privacy and security should think twice about their cell phone dependence right now. That’s because today, The Intercept revealed that British spy agency GCHQ led successful efforts to hack into the internal networks of Gemalto, “the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications” made on the world’s largest telecommunications carriers, including “AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world.”

In other words, for millions or even billions of users around the world, global cellular communications are about as secure from GCHQ and NSA as an FM radio broadcast. 

Here’s how it works. As The Intercept explains:

The privacy of all mobile communications — voice calls, text messages and Internet access — depends on an encrypted connection between the cellphone and the wireless carrier’s network, using keys stored on the SIM, a tiny chip smaller than a postage stamp, which is inserted into the phone. All mobile communications on the phone depend on the SIM, which stores and guards the encryption keys created by companies like Gemalto.

So, under normal circumstances, when a mobile call, text, or other communication is made, that communication is encrypted as it travels through the air from a mobile device to a carrier’s tower. At that point, even if the communication was intercepted by a third party (like the NSA or Iran or the local mafia), it would be encrypted and (generally speaking) indecipherable. But anyone who has obtained the encryption key (known as a Ki) for a particular wireless user could use it to decrypt that communication.

To make matters worse, because of how Kis operate, any previously obtained encrypted communications can be decrypted later once anyone obtains the correct Ki. As the Intercept notes,

if an intelligence agency has been “passively” intercepting someone’s communications for a year and later acquires the permanent encryption key, it can go back and decrypt all of those communications.

This type of interception leaves “no trace on the wireless provider’s network” or on an individual users device. In short, GCHQ and NSA have obtained the master keys—literally and figuratively—to unlock millions, if not billions, of the world’s mobile devices.

While today’s disclosure is bad news for global privacy, there is still some good news. As The Intercept article points out, there are alternatives to relying on Ki encryption. And if you’d like to install them, EFF has created easy-to-use guides as part of our Surveillance Self-Defense project:

  • Signal for iPhone, and it’s Android counterpart RedPhone, are free mobile phone applications that allows users to make phone calls using end-to-end encryption using their data connection. It works much like the normal call interface users are familiar with.
  • TextSecure for Android is a messaging app for Android that allows users to send messages with their mobile phone using end-to-end encryption. It can replace your phone’s native SMS program. While TextSecure is only for Android, Signal will be expanded this year to allow iPhone users to also send encrypted text messages.

These are just two of the many tools available for secure messaging. Our Secure Messaging Scorecard examines dozens of messaging technologies and rates each of them on a range of security best practices.

Of course no method is foolproof. But, as documents published by Der Spiegel in December show, it appears that, as of 2012, the NSA had yet to crack the encryption provided by these technologies. And that, at least, is good news.

Related Issues: NSA Spying
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Russian Researchers Uncover Sophisticated NSA Malware

eff.org - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 06:13

Over the weekend Russian IT security vendor Kaspersky Lab released a report about a new family of malware dubbed "The Equation Family". The software appears, from Kaspersky's description, to be some of the most advanced malware ever seen. It is composed of several different pieces of software, which Kaspersky Lab reports work together and have been infecting computer users around the world for over a decade.  It appears that specific techniques and exploits developed by the Equation Group were later used by the authors of Stuxnet, Flame, and Regin. The report alleges that the malware has significant commonalities with other programs that have been attributed to Western intelligence agencies; Reuters subsequently released an article about the report in which an anonymous former NSA employee claims that the malware was directly developed by the NSA.

Among the most interesting and advanced features of the malware is its ability to compromise and rewrite hard drive firmware. Reprogramming the hard drive itself in this way is a deeper level of compromise than infecting an operating system, and can let the malware re-install itself from a hidden sector of the hard drive even if the drive is securely wiped and reformatted and the OS is reinstalled from scratch. Conventional wisdom about reinstalling operating systems in response to suspected infections may therefore not be enough for the victims of attacks like Equation's.

Antivirus companies regularly try to improve their products by doing malware research—trying to find and analyze new malicious software in the wild. They are in a very good position to see the entire landscape of malicious software and attacks, which today increasingly includes government-sponsored malware. Some observers found it significant that Kaspersky—a Russian firm—was the only company to release a report about the Equation Group, Kaspersky's shorthand name for the anonymous authors of the malware. Many antivirus companies are based in, or have important business interests in, countries that develop government malware, such as the Five Eyes (the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada), and these companies may come under pressure to conceal government malware. Having antivirus companies, security companies, and malware researchers in a variety of different jurisdictions is valuable in that they can collaborate on their research and resist this sort of pressure.

The hard drive firmware capabilities of the Equation Group malware and code names that are described in the report match up closely with NSA capabilities and code names previously disclosed in Der Spiegel. That lends credibility to the hypothesis that Equation Group is part of or affiliated with the NSA, which would mark one of the first times that programs or capabilities exposed by journalists were specifically found in the wild. This is a very exciting development; it will be interesting to see if researchers continue to succeed in publicly documenting samples of other nation-state malware and attack tools whose existence has been reported or conjectured.

The report also mentions that the Equation Group used several different 0-day exploits to spread their malware. Some of these exploits were later used by Stuxnet. One of the exploits used was originally used in the 2009 Aurora attack; it was later repurposed by the Equation Group to be used against government officials in Afghanistan. This raises some interesting questions—is the NSA stockpiling 0-day vulnerabilities? Is it doing any reporting of 0-days to the affected companies? How does NSA decide whether or for how long to stockpile such knowledge? EFF filed a lawsuit last year demanding that the NSA answer these questions.

Another important question was promptly raised in the press: given that the Equation Group's software can infect a broad range of hard drives, replacing their firmware with maliciously customized versions, did the hard drive companies collaborate with governments to develop this firmware? Based on the information we have now, it's hard to draw a reliable conclusion one way or the other. A Kaspersky researcher claimed that there is “no way that hard drive firmware could be reverse engineered using public information.” Yet at least two published projects from years past have demonstrated otherwise: a team of researchers in 2013 created a full-fledged hard drive firmware backdoor akin to that used by Equation Group, using only publicly available information and reverse engineering; and that same year an individual researcher achieved a comparable level of access to modify hard drive behavior, again using only reverse engineering and without any manufacturer assistance. These and other projects show it's quite possible to learn to tamper with the components that make up a computer, even without support from the manufacturer.

Seeing these attacks in the wild has spurred new anxiety about whether our hard drives and other parts of our computers could be compromised. (To be clear, the Kaspersky research does not suggest that the manufacturers tampered with the drives, but rather that software, once introduced onto a user's computer, can reprogram them.) What can the hard drive manufacturers do in order to assure users that their drives have not been compromised? Unfortunately, it's not entirely clear; there are a few solutions, but they generally require changing current hard drive designs, potentially in a ways that make them more expensive. What is clear is that hard drive manufacturers must bear the responsibility of assuring customers that their products can't be twisted into tools of the surveillance state.

The long-term problem here is deeper than just the Equation Group's wizardry. Your modern computer is made up of many little computers. Each of those computers can conceivably be infected with malicious software separately from the main computer, but you never see or interact with them directly, so nobody has given much thought to how to secure them, how to scan them for malicious code, or even how to do a forensic analysis on them. Unfortunately, infecting any one of them can give total control over the main computer or the ability to spy on or break some of its activities. It's a problem that has been demonstrated publicly by researchers over and over again. Security researcher Halvar Flake has given an excellent talk demonstrating some of the scope of this problem.

This attack vector is serious; the solutions are daunting. Hardware manufacturers must ensure that their firmware is open source, can be audited for security, can be updated and replaced by consumers. We must also create ways for average computer users to verify that the firmware on their devices is the firmware that they expected to be there.

We are glad to have an even better understanding of the techniques and tools used by the surveillance state. We still need more transparency from the US Government about the use of 0-day vulnerabilities in intelligence gathering. This report once again demonstrates how important it is that all companies take concrete steps to protect consumer privacy and prove that they are not exposing their customers to surveillance. Some hard drive vendors, asked for comment by the press, pronounced their products completely safe and immune to tampering—even as Kaspersky showed that those same products were actively being exploited. We hope those vendors will reconsider that overconfidence and get to work improving the safety of their products.

Related Issues: NSA SpyingSecurityState-Sponsored MalwareRelated Cases: EFF v. NSA, ODNI - Vulnerabilities FOIA
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Israeli Barbarism: Terrorizing Palestinian Children

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 03:12
Israeli Barbarism: Terrorizing Palestinian Children
by Stephen Lendman
Fascists run Israel. Palestinian children perhaps feel their brutalizing treatment most.
On February 10, Defence of Children International Palestine (DCIP) headlined "Palestinian children victims of Israeli abuse designed to coerce confessions." 
Virtually always offenses weren't committed or were too minor to matter. Guilt by accusation is official Israeli policy.
Palestinian children are treated as mercilessly as adults. Most troubling are brutal beatings, other forms of torture and prolonged isolation in solitary confinement.
On average for interrogation purposes is 15 days, said DCIP. For one child it was nearly twice as long.
"Between 2012 and 2014, Israeli military, police and security agents held 54 Palestinian children in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes prior to charging them with any offense," DCIP explained.
Most abused children were between ages 12 and 17. The vast majority had to fend for themselves alone with no outside contacts.
Unlike Jews, Palestinian parents can't accompany their children when interrogated.
"In 93 percent of cases, children were deprived of legal counsel, and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination," said DCIP.
Children even younger than 12 arrive at interrogation centers shackled, blindfolded, and sleep-deprived.
Most experience physical abuse amounting to torture before, during and after interrogation.
"Almost all children confess regardless of guilt to stop further abuse," said DCIP.
Often they're forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they can't read or understand.
According to DCIP's Accountability Program director Ayed Abu Eqtaish:
"The Israeli military detention system subjects Palestinian children to several days of prolonged interrogation and isolation with the apparent goal of obtaining a confession at all costs."
Israel is the only nation "automatically and systematically" prosecuting children in military courts with no due process or judicial fairness whatever.
Each year, as many as 700 Palestinian children endure horrific Israeli brutality. Most often they're charged with stone-throwing - whether true or false, whether any damage or harm was done.
Military courts are used exclusively for Palestinians. Jews get civil justice. Palestinians get none, including young children.
DCIP denounced Israeli barbarism. It "demands (it) end night arrests, prohibit the use of solitary confinement, and ensure that evidence obtained by force or coercion during interrogations is excluded by the Israeli military courts." 
It explains Palestinians are systematically denied justice. Including brutalized young children. Some too young to understand what's going on.
On December 31, DCIP asked "(h)ow was 2014 for Palestinian children?" Like experiencing a wide-awake nightmare for many.
Israel's summer war murdered hundreds of children. In some case infants or newborns. Many others were injured. Some maimed for life.
Brutalizing Palestinian children wasn't during Protective Edge alone. They "pay the heaviest price for the ongoing military occupation," said DCIP.
Systematic Israeli barbarism includes "(w)holesale violations of children’s rights across the Occupied Palestinian Territory led to numerous fatalities and injuries, as well as psychological trauma resulting from collective punishment policies that affected children, such as house raids and demolitions."
Palestinian children don't know each day if they'll live, die, be arrested, stay free, or be subjected to various forms horrific Israeli persecution.
Extremist settlers are as violent as security forces. Children are attacked at home, in school, going to and from school or at play.
There's no place to hide. They're victimized by whatever savage treatment Israel decides to inflict. Accountability doesn't exist.
Young Palestinian children can be brutally beaten or otherwise mistreated with impunity. They're fair game for all forms of Israeli ruthlessness. With no recourse for justice.
In 2014, Israeli murdered at least 11 Palestinian children - using live ammunition just societies wouldn't tolerate.
Israeli forces routinely use excessive force. Palestinian fatalities and injuries follow. Incidents occur regularly. 
Israeli soldiers and police operate any way they wish with impunity. Despite military regulations prohibiting live ammunition use except in instances of mortal threats posed.
DCIP found no evidence suggesting murdered Palestinians threatened anyone at the time of their shootings.
Lawless collective punishment is longstanding Israeli policy. Young children suffer most of all. 
Arabs are criminalized for not being Jews.Their lives and welfare don't matter. 
They're fair game for whatever horrific treatment Israel decides to inflict. It bears repeating. They have no recourse for justice.
On February 19, the Palestine News Network (PNN) headlined "Child Prisoners in Israeli Jails Tortured by Electric Shocks & More."
Citing new testimonies from tortured Palestinian children. Palestinian Detainees Committee attorney Hiba Masalha visited Palestinian children in HaSharon prison.
They're subjected to incredibly savage treatment and brutality amounting to torture, he said.
Last November, 16-year-old Muhammed Zidani was detained. On January 19, he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.
He said he was electro-shocked to force him to confess despite his having committed no crime. Soldiers arrested him at 2AM.
They "overwhelm(ed)" his home, terrorized family members, "dragged him to the Mascoubiya detention center…"
Soldiers beat him savagely en route. He suffered painful bruises and contusions over large parts of his body.
During interrogation, he was forced to kneel, put his head between his legs blindfolded with his hands shackled from behind.
He was kept in this position for four hours. Interrogation lasted half a day. He got no food or water. Was denied bathroom privileges.
"(I)nvestigators beat him on the face and stomach," he said. During one session, "a stick shaped machine" was put on his foot.
"(U)nbearabl(y) pain(ful) electro-shocking followed. Two more times to "pull confessions out of him."
He screamed in pain. Israeli brutality continues until forced confessions are gotten.
Child prisoner Kathem Annous (aged 15) experienced horrific Israeli torture. Last November he was detained. He remains in HaSharom prison.
He was treated as brutally as Mohammed Zidani. One soldier beat him with an iron-soled shoe.
During interrogation, he was forced to kneel with his head toward a wall shackled from behind.
During hours of interrogation, he was "constantly beaten and slapped in the face. He was held at Mascoublya detention center for 12 days.
He was beaten en route to military court for a hearing. In a waiting room, his head was violently slammed against a wall for no reason whatever.
Hundreds of Palestinian children endure this type treatment annually. Some under age 10.
Fourteen-year prisoner Klaled Al-Sheikh remains in prison after 55 days on unsubstantiated stone-throwing charges with no parental contact allowed.
Whenever Palestinian children participate in peaceful demonstrations, they're vulnerable to false charges like stone-throwing.
Khaled belongs with his family and friends at home and in school, not in prison. He's anemic in need of medical treatment not provided.
H's a 10th grade student guilty only of not being Jewish. He faces possible months in prison following hanging judge sentencing. So do other brutally treated Palestinian children.
"Child abuse in Israeli prisons is on the increase," said PNN. Israeli ruthlessness considers young Palestinian children as fair game to abuse as adults. Racist regimes operate this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama''s Demagoguery on Countering Violent Extremism

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 20/02/2015 - 02:17
Obama's Demagoguery on Countering Violent Extremism
by Stephen Lendman
Obama proliferates Big Lies. He's incapable of truth-telling. On February 18, he delivered closing remarks at the just concluded White House summit on countering violent extremism.
Last month, Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest called it a summit "to highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence, efforts made even more imperative in light of recent, tragic attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris."
"This summit will build on the strategy the White House released in August of 2011, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, the first national strategy to prevent violent extremism domestically."
In September, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson first announced it. He cited a nonexistent Islamic State threat.
Saying an October summit would be held. It was delayed until mid-February. Why wasn't explained.
Obama stressed nonexistent "genuine challenges to our security today." America's only threats and enemies are ones it invents.
Obama lied claiming otherwise. Ludicrously saying America faces a "terrorist threat from groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL."
"It's a challenge for the world. ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iriaq…We've seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney and Paris and now Copenhagen."
"…(I)n the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we’re working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people."
Fact: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and likeminded groups are US proxy forces.
Fact: Washington recruits, arms, funds, trains and directs them.
Fact: They're used as US death squads against designated American adversaries. 
Fact: Most recently against Libya's Gaddafi and Syria's Assad - with disastrous results showing no signs of ending.
Fact: At times, these and likeminded groups are used as both allies and enemies. America uses them strategically.
Fact: They pose no homeland threat. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
The so-called "scourge of violent extremism" Obama cited is headquartered in Washington. He highlighted nonexistent challenges.
The only way to stop proliferating violence is by replacing responsible rogue US governance. Allied with Israel and rogue NATO members, it threatens humanity's survival.
Obama absurdly declared America isn't "at war with Islam." He said the same thing weeks into his first term.
He promised hope and change. Peace, not wars. Closing Guantanamo by yearend 2009.
Ending torture, illegal surveillance, detention without trial and a "new era of openness."
He expressed willingness to engage Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and other countries diplomatically.
He broke every major promise made. He's waged direct and proxy wars throughout his tenure.
He asked Congress for unlimited war-making authority. He has lots more targets in mind.
Perhaps US boots on the ground in Ukraine. Possible direct confrontation with Russia looms.
His attempt to oust Venezuela's model democratic government complicit with Britain and Canada failed. 
His economic and political war on Bolivarian fairness continues. It's one of his many wars on sovereign independent states.
He wants all of them transformed into US colonies. He's waged war on Islam from day one in office at home and abroad. 
Wars against Islamic nations continue. New ones are planned. Innocent Muslims languish in America's global gulag. They're political prisoners denied all rights.
Torture remains official US policy. Obama governs under a homeland police state apparatus.
Fundamental freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Obama calls his rogue agenda "American leadership."
Its phony war on terror is a US war OF terror against humanity.
Obama and likeminded lunatics infesting Washington reject fundamental democratic rights.
Wars without end persist. State terror is official US policy. Obama makes painful listening.
A litany of Big Lies dot his rhetoric. His actions belie his words. He heads a bipartisan gangster regime addicted to war.
Fundamentally opposed to peace, equity, human dignity and justice. Ravenously pursuing imperial madness.
Obama's legacy is a blank check for endless wars of aggression. Continued mass slaughter and destruction.
Propaganda claiming war is peace. Homeland repression against nonbelievers.  
A slippery slope risking global war. Washington’s plan to own planet earth may end up destroying it.
Never before in human history have things looked this grim. Peace and stability depend on stopping this monster before it destroys us. There's no in between.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Poroshenko Wants NATO Troops in Donbass

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 21:56
Poroshenko Wants NATO Troops in Donbass
by Stephen Lendman
He's desperate. He calls them European peacekeepers. He wants them after suffering catastrophic defeat in Debastsevo. More on this below.
The Saker web site reports rebel forces in total control of Debastsevo. It cites Russian sources saying about 1,000 troops didn't surrender.
Sputnik News reported Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) military spokesman Eduard Basurin estimating about 3,000 junta troops remaining.
Rebels intend simply waiting them out to succumb to hunger, cold and recognition that continued fighting is futile. They can't last much longer. They're virtually out of ammunition and food.
Debaltsevo represents the "catastrophic collapse of combat capability of the junta forces," said The Saker. It's why Poroshenko is desperate for Western help. He wants NATO doing his fighting for him.
Kiev's military is a spent force. The Saker said it reached its "breaking point." Debaltsevo represents a Ukrainian Stalingrad. Engaging rebels head-to-head assures more catastrophic defeats. 
Especially since Ukrainian conscripts don't what to wage war on their own people. Rebels are determined to prevail in their freedom struggle from fascist rule.
It's just a matter of time before conflict resumes full-force. Perhaps this time with US-led NATO doing Kiev's fighting.
Poroshenko Bloc MP Vadim Denisenko urged NATO air strikes on rebel held areas. The Alliance "is very slow in acting," he said.
Only now are there public discussions about Kiev's open secret. Washington and other NATO countries have been supplying heavy weapons throughout months of conflict covertly.
On Tuesday, Putin said "(a)ccording to our information," Western countries are already delivering arms."
They accomplish nothing but more death and destruction. The don't change the balance of things on the ground.
Supplying more heavy weapons means "(t)he result will remain the same as it is today.," Putin stressed.
"(T)his is an inevitability, since the vast majority of the personnel of Ukraine's armed forces, in my opinion, has no desire to participate in a fratricidal war, far away from their own homes, while the Donbas militia have the great motivation of protecting their families."
"(T)he next step will obviously be air strikes," said Denisenko. Maybe by spring. "(T)here is no possibility for a political compromise on the matter of solving the conflict in eastern Ukraine."
"(A)ll that's left to do is to formally declare (full-scale) war." Junta forces need all the help they can get. A previous article said they're outmaneuvered, outsmarted, outfought and soundly defeated.
Obama so far wages proxy war in Ukraine. Once Congress authorizes unconstrained use of military force, will he deploy US troops to Donbass? 
Will he order air strikes on rebel held areas? Will he pressure other NATO countries to wage war? Will he end up ravaging and destroying another country? Will millions more Ukrainians be affected?
Poroshenko's call for Western peacekeepers is a thinly veiled request for NATO help.
Kiev's national security and defense council wants it. NSDC head Akekandr Turchinov said "(w)e hope (parliament) will support this this decision regarding an appeal to the UN and EU on the deployment of a peacekeeping contingent to Ukraine."
Its parliament is rubber-stamp. Fascist regimes operate this way. Turhinov wants NATO forces positioned along the entire demarcation line as well as so-called "uncontrolled" parts of the Russian/Ukrainian border.
Imagine US and other NATO combat troops deployed meters from Russian territory. Imagine hugely flashpoint conditions. 
Turchinov ludicrously calls it a way to "provide real steps for the peaceful settlement of conflict in Ukraine."
Poroshenko says it's "the most effective and optimal solution…" Deploying peacekeepers requires Security Council authorization. Russia justifiably expressed opposition.
Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Poroshenko's proposal indicates a "lack of determination" to observe Minsk II provisions.
"I think it’s a little bit disturbing, because they just signed the Minsk agreements on February 12," said Churkin. 
"And the Minsk agreements provide for" OSCE monitors only. "There is nothing about the UN or European Union." 
"So for them to start talking immediately about something else…I think instead of coming up with new ideas they should really work harder on implementing what they agreed on."
Poroshenko and Turchinov proposing Western combat troops in Donbass masquerading as peacekeepers flies in the face of wanting real conflict resolution.
On February 18, Foreign Policy (FP) published a report explaining Kiev's military dire state.Ukrainian youths reject war, it said.
They're "making themselves scarce." Growing numbers ignore conscription notices. A young man identified as Roman said he's "against every war, but especially this (one) because it's meaningless."
It was "created artificially. The Ukrainian mass media helped this along by spreading this patriotic hysteria."
Earlier, Ukrainian military sources said 85,792 summoned for service in 13 regions last year didn't report as ordered.
"Now young men with views like Roman's are on the run as the government tries to stem a rash of reported draft dodging and is cracking down on anti-war sentiments," said FP.
Mass avoidance of service "raised questions about whether Ukraine will…be able to recruit the manpower it needs to defend itself against (nonexistent) Russian aggression."
The Big Lie persists despite clear evidence debunking it. FP operates like other media scoundrels. Presstitution is national MSM affliction. 
Truth-telling on issues mattering most is strictly verboten. Big Lies substitute ad nauseam.
FP blames Russia and rebels for US planned, implemented and directed Kiev aggression against its Donbass citizens.
It said nothing about lawless putschists running things. Neo-Nazis masquerading as democrats. Fully supported by Washington. Jointly planning their next moves against rebels wanting freedom from fascism.
Poroshenko serves at Washington's discretion. His days may be numbered. Obama officials, Kiev hardliners and militant oligarchs may want him replaced.
Rumors circulated last September after earlier defeats. Talk was about replacing his fumbling administration with new leadership.
It surfaced again as junta forces faced defeat in Debaltsevo. The German publication Der Tagesspiegel discussed it.
Saying "in Kiev…an open power struggle (rages) between" Poroshenko and prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
When Poroshenko announced Minsk ceasefire terms, "some of the large Ukrainian TV channels turned away."
"Even the 5 channel (he owns) did not show his speech." Observers see an ongoing power struggle he may lose.
Ultimately things will be decided in Washington. Obama installed Poroshenko. He's a convenient US stooge. If no longer useful, he's out.
Yatsenyuk is a Washington favorite. He's virulently anti-Russian. He wants Donbass freedom fighters crushed.
Perhaps he'll be Ukraine's next president - tasked with waging greater than ever full-scale aggression on his own people.
Maybe this time with US-led NATO help? Will Ukraine be another Libya? 
Will Obama use congressionally authorized unconstrained war-making powers to unleash US-led NATO force like before? 
Will Southeatern Ukraine be ravaged and destroyed in the process? Will millions more Ukrainians be harmed? Countless thousands killed or maimed. Enormous greater numbers displaced.
How much more criminality will Obama add to his rap sheet in his remaining 23 months in office? He's already a war criminal multiple times over.
His lust for mass slaughter and destruction appears insatiable. Perhaps he’ll attack Russia after Ukraine.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Lenovo Is Breaking HTTPS Security on its Recent Laptops

eff.org - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 20:06

News broke last night that Lenovo has been shipping laptops with a horrifically dangerous piece of software called Superfish, which tampers with Windows' cryptographic security to perform man-in-the-middle attacks against the user's browsing. This is done in order to inject advertising into secure HTTPS pages, a feature most users don't want implemented in the most insecure possible way.1

There's been some discussion about whether all copies of Superfish use the same root key to perform the MITM attacks. We can report that the Decentralized SSL Observatory has seen 44,000 Superfish MITM certificates, all of which have been signed by the same Superfish root cert.2 The fact that there are significant numbers of Firefox victims somewhat contradicts the speculation that Firefox is safe because it doesn't use the Windows root store. This either indicates that Superfish also injects its certificate into the Firefox root store, or that on a large number of occasions Firefox users have been clicking through certificate warnings caused by Superfish MITM attacks.

Lenovo has not just injected ads in a wildly inappropriate manner, but engineered a massive security catastrophe for its users. The use of a single certificate for all of the MITM attacks means that all HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken. If you access your webmail from such a laptop, any network attacker can read your mail as well or steal your password. If you log into your online banking account, any network attacker can pilfer your credentials. All an attacker needs in order to perform these attacks is a copy of the Superfish MITM private key. There is (apparently) a copy of that key inside every Superfish install on every affected Lenovo laptop, which has now been extracted and posted online.

Using a MITM certificate to inject ads was an amateurish design choice by Superfish.3 Lenovo's decision to ship this software was catastrophically irresponsible and an utter abuse of the trust their customers placed in them.

If you purchased a Lenovo laptop recently (we have observed reports of the Superfish cert from the Decentralized SSL Observatory as early as October 2014), you can check if your machine is vulnerable here. We'll have more updates with details and defensive options later today.

  • 1. Any browser (or other software) that uses HTTPS correctly needs a way to verify the certificates that link sites' domain names to the cryptographic public keys they use. This is accomplished by having a list of "root" certificate authorities (CAs) maintained by the operating system that can sign certificates that the browser will trust. This list is often called a "root store". A common technique for breaking HTTPS encryption is to add an additional, non-trustworthy CA to the browser or OS's root store. This technique is frequently used by corporate IT departments that want to spy on their employees' HTTPS traffic.
  • 2. The Decentralized SSL Observatory only collects data from Firefox browsers running HTTPS Everywhere.
  • 3. A safer (but still risky) alternative would be for Superfish to implement its ad-injecting functionality using a browser extension.
Related Issues: Encrypting the WebSecurity
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Innovation Act Needed More Than Ever As Patent Trolls Roll On

eff.org - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 11:43

Patent trolls are still at it. A new report from Unified Patents, found that 449 patent cases were filed in district court in January 2015—a 36% increase over January 2014. The growth was fueled largely by patent trolls, who filed more than half of the month’s cases. This marks the second month in a row where we have seen an increase in patent litigation from the same period a year ago.  

Of course, data from two months does not necessarily establish a long-term trend. But the data is important because it rebuts one of the main talking points from opponents of legislative patent reform. Groups that don’t want reform have been touting the fact that September 2014 saw a drop in cases from the same month in 2013. But if you are going to cherry-pick a single month’s statistics, there is no reason to favor September 2014 over the more recent data.

When considering whether reform is needed, it is important not to lose sight of the massive and sustained increase in patent troll litigation over the past decade. To illustrate how much troll litigation has surged, there were more cases filed by patent trolls in one month in January 2015 than in the entire year of 2004. (Trolls filed 250 cases last month as compared to 234 cases in all of 2004, Even accounting for the impact of the America Invents Act’s anti-joinder rule, that is an astonishing increase.) Although there was a small decline in litigation in 2014, patent trolling exploded over the past decade and remains at historically high levels. This litigation is overwhelmingly a tax on innovation and does nothing to promote the deployment of new technology.

Congress should not be misled into thinking that problems with the patent system have gone away. With trolls going strong, we still need legislative patent reform. Earlier this month, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, reintroduced the Innovation Act. While it won’t solve all problems with the patent system, the bill includes a number of provisions designed to make litigation abuse more difficult.

Tell your lawmaker: Let's stop patent trolls. Pass the Innovation Act!

Related Issues: PatentsLegislative Solutions for Patent ReformPatent TrollsInnovation
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EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collection

eff.org - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 05:55
New Brief Urges Justices to Protect Citizens from Warrantless Analysis of Genetic Material

San Francisco - People have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy when it comes to their genetic material, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues in an amicus brief filed this week with the Supreme Court of the United States.

EFF is asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments in Raynor v. State of Maryland, a case that examines whether police should be allowed to collect and analyze "inadvertently shed" DNA without a warrant or consent, such as swabbing cells from a drinking glass or a chair. EFF argues that genetic material contains a vast amount of personal information that should receive the full protection of the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"As human beings, we shed hundreds of thousands of skin and hair cells daily, with each cell containing information about who we are, where we come from, and who we will be," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch said. "The court must recognize that allowing police the limitless ability to collect and search genetic material will usher in a future where DNA may be collected from any person at any time, entered into and checked against DNA databases, and used to conduct pervasive surveillance."

Glenn Raynor's genetic material was collected and tested without his knowledge or consent after he agreed to an interview at a police station as part of a criminal investigation. The police didn't have probable cause to arrest Raynor, and he refused to provide a DNA sample. After he left the station, police swabbed the armrest of the chair where he had been sitting to collect his skin cells without his knowledge. The police then extracted a DNA profile from the cells and used it to connect him to the crime. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that this collection was lawful, and Raynor petitioned the Supreme Court for review. EFF's brief supports Raynor's petition.

The sophistication and speed of DNA analysis technology is advancing exponentially as the costs of the technology drop. These advances, EFF argues, raise significant questions for privacy and civil liberties. DNA can reveal sensitive personal health information and can allow police to identify a person's relatives, turning family members into inadvertent "genetic informants" on each other. Some researchers have also postulated that DNA can determine race, sexual orientation, intelligence, and even political predispositions.

"Law enforcement should not be able to amass giant databases of genetic material they find lying around," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said. "The Supreme Court should review this case and consider it within the context of emerging technologies that could significantly affect the privacy rights of every American."

For EFF's amicus brief:

https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-27

Contact:

Jennifer Lynch
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   jlynch@eff.org


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Bashing Russia and Rebels for Kiev Crimes

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 04:48
Bashing Russia and Rebels for Kiev Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
The same Big Lies repeat since conflict began last April. No letup whatever followed the latest attempt to resolve things diplomatically in Minsk on February 12.
Russia and rebels are consistently blamed for naked Kiev aggression, brutal atrocities, and post-Geneva/Minsk I and II violations.
Joe Biden spoke to Poroshenko following rebel forces routing junta troops in Debaltsevo. Thousands were forced to surrender.
Kiev abandoned them. Rebel forces won a strategic victory. German intelligence says Kiev's military is disintegrating. They're outmaneuvered, outsmarted, outfought and soundly defeated.
Biden and Poroshenko condemned Russia and rebels for junta crimes. A White House press secretary statement lied saying "if Russia continues to violate the Minsk agreements, including the most recent (one) signed on February 12, the costs to Russia will be high."
Canada marches in lockstep with Washington. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying "(i)n coordination with our EU and US partners, Canada is once again intensifying its response to the situation by announcing further sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities."
Its blacklist includes 37 Russian and Donbass officials, 17 Russian and Donbass entities, as well as oil giant Rosneft and industrial/defense company Rostec's CEO.
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said "Canada's bet on sanctions will definitely be answered."
"However, we hope that Ottawa will think about the consequences of its actions, which in fact fuel the further armed standoff in Ukraine, and realize that pressing Russia with sanctions has no perspectives."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg bashed Russia and rebels irresponsibly. On February 18, he said "(t)oday I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debeltsevo."
"The refusal of the separatists to respect the cease-fire threatens the agreement."
"As does their denial of access to the area for the OSCE monitors.Russian forces, artillery and air defence units as well as command and control elements are still active in Ukraine."
"Russia has supported the separatists with forces, training and advanced weapons."
"And there has been a steady buildup of tanks and armoured vehicles across the border from Russia to Ukraine."
"I urge Russia to end its support for the separatists.And withdraw its forces and military equipment from eastern Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk agreement."
"The separatists should halt all attacks immediately."
Fact: No Russian troops operate in Ukraine. No evidence proves otherwise.
Fact: None threaten its territory.
Fact: No Russian buildup near its border exists.
Fact: Or rebel support with "forces, training and advanced weapons."
Fact: No Russian or rebels violations of Minsk occurred. Its terms didn't mention Debaltsevo. Rebels respond in self-defense when fired on. It's their universal right under international law.
Fact: Lots of junta violations occurred post-Geneva, Minsk I and II. Stoltenberg didn't explain.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini bashed Russia and rebels. She lied saying their actions in Debeltsevo "are a clear violation of the ceasefire."
"The EU stands ready to take appropriate action in case the fighting and other negative developments in violation of the Minsk agreements continue."
Clearly threating more sanctions on Russia. What little hope followed Minsk seems on a fast-track toward collapse.
Reuters reported continued fighting around Debeltsevo despite surrender. 
Its correspondent "saw black smoke rising over the town and heard loud blasts hours after the withdrawal began."
Junta commanders abandoned their troops. Some likely kept fighting, not knowing surrender was ordered. Rebels responded in kind.
AP reported junta forces leaving in trucks or on foot - "unshaven and visibly upset."
"One soldier spoke of heavy government losses, while another said they had not been able to get food or water because of the intense rebel shelling." 
"A third spoke of hunkering down in bunkers for hours, unable to even go to the toilet because of the shelling."
"We're very happy" to get out, a hungry soldier told AP. "We were praying all the time and already said goodbye to our lives a hundred times."
Retreating troops said they got no help from Kiev. They weren't sure if they were surrendering or being rotated.
"I don't know," said one. "Our commanders didn't tell us" anything. "They just told us to change our positions because our unit had been staying there for quite a long time and we had sustained big losses."
Rebel commander Viktor Ponosov said Kiev forces apparently ran out of ammunition and food.
"We heard they were calling their friends and relative saying: "Please help us because they are killing and destroying us."
Rebel forces consistently say they won't fire on Kiev troops unless fired on.
The New York Times lied claiming junta forces "fought their way out of (Debaltsevo), choosing a risky overnight breakout rather than surrender…"
Poroshenko ordered surrender. He called it withdrawal. RT International reported Kiev forces "surrendering en masse."
Sputnik News and other Russian media reported the same thing. Junta ranks were routed, shattered. They had two choices - surrender or die.
The Times portrayed junta forces as heroes, courageous rebels as villains.
It quoted Poroshenko ludicrously saying "(t)oday, the world must stop the aggressor."
Donbas self-defense forces fight for democratic rights everyone deserves. They reject fascist rule. So should everyone.
They deserve universal support. Don't expect The Times or other media scoundrels to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Success! General License Allows Export of Communications Tools to Sudan

eff.org - Thu, 19/02/2015 - 00:30

Fighting against the sanctions regime for the right to information and innovation can sometimes feel like a cat and mouse game, but today, citizens of Sudan are like the cats that got the cream. After years of campaigning from Sudanese and international activists alike, a success: The Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) at the US Department of Treasury has issued a general license for the export of hardware and software “incident to personal communications” to Sudan.

The fight for a general license for Sudan has been an ongoing one. When, a little over one year ago, a general license was issued for Iran, Sudanese civil society asked “Why not us too?” and launched a new campaign. We criticized the piecemeal approach to sanctions relief, urging the OFAC “give a clear, unequivocal green light to US companies that are helping people to communicate online, regardless of where they happen to live.”

This time, the US government has taken notice. On its Facebook page, the US Embassy of Khartoum wrote:

This step comes after careful study and debate, including consultations with a wide range of Sudanese civil society organizations, in particular business groups such as the Sudanese Young Businessmen’s Association and the U.S.-Sudan Business Council, and representatives of the people of Sudan in the form of religious leaders and local leaders. They made it clear that the Sudanese people were suffering from a lack of free flow of information.

The recent decision of the Sudanese government to stifle the press by seizing the full print run of 15 different newspapers also made it clear that the people of Sudan need more freedom to access information.

What do the changes mean for the people of Sudan? As we wrote last June, the sanctions restrict the export of everything from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to mobile phones, harming innovation, access to information, and development. For a country like Sudan, where the number of Internet users has grown from around 400,000 to more than 8 million in less than a decade, the forthcoming influx of technology can mean a world of difference for average consumers.

Maha Elsanosi summed up the sentiment in a poetic tweet that read “Good news in #Sudan for a change. Goodbye VPN, you will be missed?” Though we hope VPNs remain in use for other reasons, Elsanosi was alluding to the fact that VPNs will no longer be needed for those who were using them to circumvent the effect of sanctions on online courses, libraries, and other sites.

We are thankful to OFAC for making these changes, and congratulate our friends in Sudan on the hard work that got them here. It is our hope that, going forward, any sanctions imposed anywhere will exclude by default communications technologies that aid in the quest for information and innovation.

Related Issues: Free SpeechInnovationInternational
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