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Dear Facebook: Sorry is a Start. Now Let's See Solutions.

eff.org - Thu, 02/10/2014 - 10:17

When it comes to Facebook’s real names policy, it’s really clear—something needs to change. Over the last few weeks, we’ve joined dozens of advocates in saying so. And in a meeting with LGBTQ and digital rights advocates, Facebook agreed. Of course, admitting there’s a problem is always the first step towards a solution. But what’s not clear is what that solution will be.

EFF continues to believe that the best solution is simply to get rid of the "real names” policy entirely. But barring that, Facebook needs to find a solution that takes into account the myriad groups of people affected by Facebook’s faulty policy, from undocumented immigrants, to activists in oppressive regimes, to survivors of domestic violence.

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, posted a statement [if you don’t have a Facebook account, click here to read the text of the statement] on Facebook in which he apologized to “members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we've put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.”

With regards to the policy, and solutions moving forward, he states:

Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life….[W]e're already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we're taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way.

We’re encouraged by Facebook’s commitment to continue to work on this issue. There’s no question that the way Facebook’s system is implemented now is incredibly flawed and ripe for misuse. The enforcement mechanism has allowed abusive users to recreate the very online bullying the policy is supposed to prevent by going on reporting sprees. And when accounts like Sister Roma’s are suspended, users have had no recourse.

While getting rid of the policy altogether would be a better move, and easier to implement, if Facebook is really committed to prohibiting anonymity on the site, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the way any names policy is enforced. Account suspensions shouldn’t be virtually automatic. There must be mechanisms in place that allow real review of accounts, so that they don’t ever get to the checkpoint that asks for an ID in the first place. Additionally, reporting sprees like the one that targeted the trans community last month should be treated as abusive behavior. But most importantly, Facebook’s standards and enforcement team should be focused on bad behavior, not names.

But Facebook hasn’t addressed the real problem here: the company will not stop requiring verification of names. And that means that, unless Facebook can commit to an extraordinary level of review when accounts are reported, trans people who don’t have an ID with their real name (as opposed to their legal name) will continue to have their accounts suspended. Activists using pseudonyms, even pseudonyms they might use in all of their political activity, will have their accounts suspended. Undocumented immigrants, who may not have any form of identification at all or may feel uncomfortable providing it, will have their accounts suspended.

Facebook’s proposed solutions don’t really get to the heart of the problem: the real names policy itself.

And it’s also problematic that Cox stated both that Facebook’s policy has never been to require legal names and that the real names policy has only now become a problem.

Facebook’s publicly available policies state: “The name you use should be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, driver's license or student ID.” While the words “legal name” aren’t here, the forms of ID listed in the policy will, in almost every case, match the ID on a birth certificate. If that’s not what Facebook means, it needs to change the language of its policies right now. Facebook also needs to be clear that it will treat reporting sprees—both the individual accounts that engage in them, as well as groups formed to encourage them—as abusive.

What’s more, this is hardly the first time Facebook has been confronted with its policy's problems. EFF and other digital rights organizations such as ACCESS have been pointing to problems with Facebook’s policy for years. And over four years ago EFF’s Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York wrote about a spree of account suspensions focused on activists including  accounts critical of Islam, “gay rights activists, Jewish activists, activists for a free Palestine, and activists against the Venezuelan regime (among others).” In fact, it turns out “a group was created on Facebook (in Arabic) for the sole purpose of reporting, and thus having removed, Facebook profiles of atheist Arabs.” So it’s disingenuous for Facebook to say that this only now has become a problem.

With all of those caveats, we do believe that Facebook’s decision to apologize and commit to working on solutions is a positive sign. We will continue to work towards solutions that help Facebook users now, while pushing for an end to the real names policy in the long term.

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How to Remove ComputerCOP

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 23:59

As EFF outlined in a special report, ComputerCOP is a piece of "Internet Safety" software of dubious value that law enforcement agencies around the country have distributed to families for free. One of the main components of the software is KeyAlert, a keystroke-capturing function that records everything a user types.

KeyAlert has two major functions. First, it logs keystrokes on the user's hard drive. Second, it allows the person installing the software to set certain keywords. Whenever those keywords are typed, the computer sends an email with those keystrokes to the person who installed the software.

ComputerCOP doesn't appear in any of the major malware/spyware registries, so you'll need to do a little digging yourself. With this easy guide, we'll show you how to identify whether ComputerCOP has been installed on your  computer and how to remove it.

Step One: To determine if KeyAlert is running, open the Task Manager and look for CCNet.exe. Alternatively, if the user installed it in the default location, you can find it installed in “C:\Program Files\WinSS\Book”.  You may also be able to spot its icon in the system tray.  On a Mac, open Finder and navigate to the root directory of your Mac's hard drive. If there is a file named "LogKextUninstall.command" then the Mac version of ComputerCOP's keylogger is installed.

How to find ComputerCOP's keylogger on your Windows computer.

When KeyAlert is running, all keystrokes are logged to text files located in the folder “C:\Windows\WinCCNet”. These text files are completely unencrypted. (On a Mac, these keystroke logs are actually encrypted, but can be decrypted with the software's default password. Instructions for viewing them are available here.)

Unencrypted logs can contain usernames and passwods.

When KeyAlert's email warning functionality is activated, these logs are also transmitted over the Internet unencrypted. This allows anyone on the same network to view the content of the ComputerCOP alert email, including any usernames or passwords that may have been typed before one of the keywords.

ComputerCOP transmits keystrokes unencrypted over the Internet.

KeyAlert can be uninstalled even without the installation CD. Go to Add/Remove Programs, select “KeyAlert”, and then click “Remove”, or if the user installed it in the default location, delete the folder “C:\Program Files\WinSS\Book” and then make sure to reboot your computer. On a Mac, open Finder and navigate to the root directory of your Mac's hard drive. Find the file named "LogKextUninstall.command" and double-click on it to uninstall the keylogger.

How to uninstall Key Alert.

You will also want to delete all the keystrokes records stored on your hard drive. Go the folder “C:\Windows\WinCCNet" and delete the entire folder. On Mac these are deleted automatically.

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ComputerCOP: The Dubious 'Internet Safety Software' That Hundreds of Police Agencies Have Distributed to Families

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 23:59

ComputerCOP in Maricopa County, Arizona

For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the “first step” in protecting their children online.

Police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys have handed out hundreds of thousands of copies of the disc to families for free at schools, libraries, and community events, usually as a part of an “Internet Safety” outreach initiative. The packaging typically features the agency’s official seal and the chief’s portrait, with a signed message warning of the “dark and dangerous off-ramps” of the Internet.

As official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.

The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.

Furthermore, by providing a free keylogging program—especially one that operates without even the most basic security safeguards—law enforcement agencies are passing around what amounts to a spying tool that could easily be abused by people who want to snoop on spouses, roommates, or co-workers.

EFF conducted a security review of ComputerCOP while also following the paper trail of public records to see how widely the software has spread. Based on ComputerCOP’s own marketing information, we identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states, plus the U.S. Marshals, that have used public funds (often the proceeds from property seized during criminal investigations) to purchase and distribute ComputerCOP. One sheriff’s department even bought a copy for every family in its county. 

In investigating ComputerCOP, we also discovered misleading marketing material, including a letter of endorsement purportedly from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which has now issued a fraud alert over the document. ComputerCOP further claims an apparently nonexistent endorsement by the American Civil Liberties Union and an expired endorsement from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Law enforcement agencies have purchased a poor product, slapped their trusted emblems on it, and passed it on to everyday people. It’s time for those law enforcement agencies to take away ComputerCOP’s badge.

Click here for a list of agencies that have distributed ComputerCOP.

Click here for a guide to removing ComputerCOP from your computer.

What is ComputerCOP?

Bo Dietl's One Tough Computer Cop (Source: UCSF Library)

In an era when hackers use botnets, zero day exploits, and sophisticated phishing to compromise billions of online accounts, ComputerCOP is a software relic that not only offers little protection, but may actually expose your child’s (and potentially your) most sensitive information to danger.

ComputerCOP’s interface is a throwback to an earlier, clunkier age of computing. Indeed, its origins trace back 15 years, when software companies began to target a new demographic: parents worried about their children’s exposure to all manner of danger and inappropriate material on the Internet.

When ComputerCOP debuted in the late 1990s, its original title was “Bo Dietl’s One Tough ComputerCOP,” which capitalized on the fame of celebrity New York detective, Bo Dietl, who had just had his career adapted into a major motion picture, “One Tough Cop,” starring Stephen Baldwin.  At the time, the program could only perform basic forensic searches of hard drives, but in the early 2000s, Bo Dietl’s toughness was dropped from the title and a keylogger was added to the “deluxe” version of the package. 

EFF obtained copies of ComputerCOP and related materials from law enforcement agencies on the East Coast, West Coast, and in Texas. Each one was branded to the specific department, but the software package was otherwise the same, containing two main elements:

ComputerCOP's image search (OS version) turned up a haystack of 19,000 files

"Basic" Search Functions: ComputerCOP’s search utility does not require installation and can run right off the CD-ROM. The tool allows the user to review recent images and videos downloaded to the computer, but it will also scan the hard drive looking for documents containing phrases in ComputerCOP’s dictionary of thousand of keywords related to drugs, sex, gangs, and hate groups. While that feature may sound impressive, in practice the software is unreliable. On some computer systems, it produces a giant haystack of false positives, including flagging items as innocuous as raw computer code. On other systems, it will only produce a handful of results while typing keywords such as "drugs" into Finder or File Explorer will turn up a far larger number of hits.  While the marketing materials claim that this software will allow you to view what web pages your child visits, that's only true if the child is using Internet Explorer or Safari. The image search will potentially turn up tens of thousands of hits because it can't distinguish between images children have downloaded and the huge collection of icons and images that are typically part of the software on your computer.

Interface for installing ComputerCOP keylogger

KeyAlert: ComputerCOP’s KeyAlert keylogging program does require installation and, if the user isn’t careful, it will collect keystrokes from all users of the computer, not just children. When running on a Windows machine, the software stores full key logs unencrypted on the user’s hard drive. When running on a Mac, the software encrypts these key logs on the user's hard drive, but these can be decrypted with the underlying software's default password. On both Windows and Mac computers, parents can also set ComputerCOP up to email them whenever chosen keywords are typed. When that happens, the software transmits the key logs, unencrypted, to a third-party server, which then sends the email. KeyAlert is in included in the "deluxe," "premium," and "presentation" versions of the software.

The keylogger is problematic on multiple levels. In general, keyloggers are commonly a tool of spies, malicious hackers, and (occasionally) nosy employers. ComputerCOP does not have the ability to distinguish between children and adults, so law enforcement agencies that distribute the software are also giving recipients the tools to spy on other adults who use a shared computer, such as spouses, roommates, and coworkers. ComputerCOP addresses this issue with a pop-up warning that using it on non-consenting adults could run afoul of criminal laws, but that’s about it.

The lack of encryption is even more troubling. Security experts universally agree that a user should never store passwords and banking details or other sensitive details unprotected on one’s hard drive, but that’s exactly what ComputerCOP does by placing everything someone types in a folder. The email alert system further weakens protections by logging into a third-party commercial server. When a child with ComputerCOP installed on their laptop connects to public Wi-Fi, any sexual predator, identity thief, or bully with freely available packet-sniffing software can grab those key logs right out of the air.

Example of intercepted, unencrypted keylogs using Wireshark, a free packet sniffer

The software does not appear in any of the major malware/spyware databases we tested, so it can’t be detected with a normal virus scan. 

Eight months ago, we contacted Stephen DelGiorno, the head of ComputerCOP operations, and informed him of these problems. He denied there was an issue.

“ComputerCOP software doesn’t give sexual predator [sic] or identity thieves more access to children’s computers, as our .key logger [sic] works with the existing email and Internet access services that computer user has already engaged,” he wrote via email.

He further said that ComputerCOP would update the software's licensing agreement to say "that no personal information is obtained nor stored by ComputerCOP."

These are unacceptable, and fairly nonsensical, answers from a company that claims to be a leader in child safety software. Even if the company isn't storing data, as it claims, information captured by the keylogger still passes through a commercial server when the target types a keyword. Further, the keylogger actually may undermine other services' security measures.

Some of the most common online services, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail (as well as most financial sites), use HTTPS by default, automatically encrypting communications between users and those websites. In fact, one of the truly effective tools parents can use to protect their children is HTTPS Everywhere, an EFF plug-in that makes an Internet browser connect by default to secure versions of websites.

But HTTPS is rendered ineffective with ComputerCOP, because ComputerCOP captures text as it is being typed, before it has been encrypted. While HTTPS is protecting the users' connection to a website, ComputerCOP separately transmits that same communication unprotected whenever a keyword is triggered.

In EFF’s testing, we were able to snatch passwords (faked ones, of course) with shocking ease.

Law Enforcement and ComputerCOP

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com

A compilation of ComputerCOP promotional videos

“The ComputerCOP outreach program is the best way for Parents/Guardians to monitor their children’s activity online and bring positive media attention to your Office,” DelGiorno writes in the first line of the form letter his company sends to law enforcement agencies.

ComputerCOP’s business model works like this: the company contracts with police and district attorneys around the country, particularly ones that have federal grants or special funds to spend, such as asset forfeiture windfalls (police often describe this as money seized from drug dealers). Agencies then buy the software in bulk, usually between 1,000 and 5,000 at a time, and give it out for free in their communities. Agencies often tell the press that the software has a value of $40, even though they pay only a few bucks per copy and the software is not available through any major online store other than eBay (where surplus new copies are going for as little as $.99). Even ComputerCOP’s online store is currently broken.

There is no official central repository for data about which agencies have purchased the software, how many copies they’ve distributed, or how much they have spent. Based on ComputerCOP’s own online map of agencies, as well as online searches and public records requests, we have identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states that purchased ComputerCOP. (After we began our investigation, ComputerCOP took the map offline, promising an updated one soon.)

In February, DelGiorno told EFF the keystroke-logging feature was a recent addition to the software and that most of the units he’s sold did not include the feature. That doesn’t seem to jibe with ComputerCOP’s online footprint. Archive.org’s WayBack Machine shows that keystroke capture was advertised on ComputerCOP.com as far back as 2001. Although some versions of ComputerCOP do not have the keylogger function, scores of press releases and regional news articles from across the country discuss the software’s ability to capture a child’s conversations.

Among the most notable in the last two years: the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Arizona, the San Diego District Attorney's Office in California, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office in Missouri and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in Texas each purchased 5,000 copies at a cost of $25,000 per agency.  Bexar County even has an interactive map on its website showing the dozens of locations where ComputerCOP can be picked up for free.

ComputerCOP promotional poster

Other agencies have purchased the software in even larger quantities. In 2008, the Highlands County Sheriff in Florida spent $42,000 to purchase 10,000 copies, or, as one newspaper put it, “enough computer disks for every parent of every school child in Highlands County.” The Alaska Department of Public Safety bought enough copies for it to be available at every "school, public library and police agency" in the state.

Since 2007, Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco’s office in New York, where ComputerCOP is based, has bought 43,000 copies of the software—a fact trumpeted in DeMarco’s reelection campaign materials. ComputerCOP’s parent company directly donated to DeMarco’s campaign at least nine times over the same period.

Indeed, ComputerCOP markets itself as the “perfect election and fundraising tool.” As part of the package, when a law enforcement agency buys a certain amount of copies, ComputerCOP will send out a camera crew to record an introduction video with the head of the department. The discs are also customized to prominently feature the head of the agency, who can count on a solid round of local press coverage about the giveaway.

Delgiorno also said he would contact his accountant to get a list of which agencies purchased which version of ComputerCOP (i.e. the versions with the keylogger versus those without). Eight months later, we're still waiting.

Dubious Claims

ComputerCOP letter, 2011

Through a public records act request, EFF obtained a copy of the marketing materials submitted by ComputerCOP to the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Texas, which purchased 5,000 copies in 2011. The documents reveal several dubious and outdated claims.

For one, ComputerCOP claims that it is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and that it is the only software product supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). 

When asked about the origin of the ACLU endorsement, DelGiorno told EFF that someone from the ACLU recommended the software in a Newsday article as the “most non-intrusive of the products as it did not filter web pages nor block user access to them.” EFF contacted Newsday, which was unable to locate any such article, as well several branches of the ACLU, all of which denied any such endorsement.

On the eve of publication of this report, DelGiorno told reporter Alice Brennan at Fusion that the endorsement came from Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, citing a 2005 story in the Detroit Free Press. However, in the article, Moss is endorsing the idea that parents should take responsibility for monitoring their children as opposed to relying on the government to act as a babysitter.

“I can say unequivocally that it was not an endorsement of the product," ACLU of Michigan Deputy Director Rana Elmir told EFF. "Our position as an organization is not to endorse technology like this.”

NCMEC told EFF that in 1998 it did allow ComputerCOP to use its name for a one-year period, but has not had any contact with the company over the last 15 years. A NCMEC attorney said the organization was unaware that ComputerCOP was still advertising its imprimatur and that it would tell ComputerCOP to stop using it immediately.

In its promotional packet, ComputerCOP includes a letter from the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture, in which the head of the division calls the software an “effective law enforcement aid” and a “valid crime prevention tool” that will “identify and locate perpetrators and possibly missing children.” The uncharacteristically positive nature of the letter caused EFF to examine it closer and, as it turns out, the document had been significantly altered.

Letter marked "fraudulent" by Treasury Dept.

In an email exchange, DelGiorno acknowledged that ComputerCOP had taken a prior letter from the Treasury Department, highlighted text and “recreated the letterhead to make more it presentable for other agencies to view.” In doing so, ComputerCOP removed the 2001 date stamp from the letter. As a result, law enforcement agencies were unaware that the letter was outdated by more than a decade and that the agency head who signed it had long left office.1

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EFF is seeking the unaltered letter, as well as any material ComputerCOP submitted to the Treasury Department. So far the agency has been unable to locate those file and ComputerCOP would not provide a copy of the original letter to EFF.  

However, after we submitted the suspicious letter to the Treasury Department, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General issued a fraud alert over ComputerCOP, including a copy of the letter with the words “Fraudulent Document” stamped on it in red.

ComputerCOP Conclusions

We estimate somewhere between a few hundred thousand and more than a million copies of ComputerCOP have been purchased by law enforcement agencies across the United States, but it’s difficult to say how many individual people have been exposed by the software’s vulnerabilities.

In our tests, ComputerCOP was so unwieldy to use that it’s possible that very few people actually use it. But even if it’s a pointless giveaway from the police, it’s still being purchased with our tax dollars and other public funds. As law enforcement agencies around the country face budgetary shortfalls, spending $25,000 on an ineffective product is not only unwise, but fiscally irresponsible.

Law enforcement agencies should cease distributing copies immediately and tell parents not to use it. Any local media outlet that reported on ComputerCOP should consider alerting parents to its dangers. The Treasury Department should reexamine its approval of ComputerCOP as a permissible use of funds from the federal equitable sharing program.

There are certainly risks for kids on the Internet, and indeed for adults too. Let’s not make it easier for villains with bogus safeguards.

EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula and Web Developer Bill Budington conducted the security analysis of this software.

Clarification: In the third to last paragraph we added "and other public funds" to clarify that law enforcement agencies use a variety of funding sources to purchase the software, including seized assets, appropriations from governing bodies, federal grants and the rare private donation to an agency.

  • 1. In 2010, the Treasury Department did issue a new letter authorizing ComputerCOP as a permissible use of asset forfeiture money, but this time the department clearly stated that it does not endorse the product “in any way” and that law enforcement agencies should make sure that the software does not run afoul of local laws.
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Serial Litigant Blue Spike Wins September’s Stupid Patent of the Month

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 04:40

Blue Spike LLC is a patent litigation factory. At one point, it filed over 45 cases in two weeks. It has sued a who’s who of technology companies, ranging from giants to startups, Adobe to Zeitera. Blue Spike claims not to be a troll, but any legitimate business it has pales in comparison to its patent litigation. It says it owns a “revolutionary technology” it refers to as “signal abstracting.” On close inspection, however, its patents1 turn out to be nothing more than a nebulous wish list. Blue Spike’s massive litigation campaign is a perfect example of how vague and abstract software patents tax innovation.

The basic idea behind Blue Spike’s patents is creating a digital fingerprint (which the patents refer to as an “abstract”) of a file that allows it to be compared to other files (e.g. comparing audio files to see if they are the same song). In very general terms, the patents describe creating a “reference generator,” an “object locator,” a “feature selector,” a “comparing device,” and a “recorder.” You will be amazed to learn that these five elements “may be implemented with software.” That task, however, is left for the reader.

Even worse, Blue Spike has refused to define the key term in its patents: “abstract.” In a recent filing, it wrote that even though the term “abstract” is “a central component to each of the patents,” a single definition of this term is “impossible to achieve.” This is a remarkable admission. How are defendants (or the public, for that matter) supposed to know if they infringe a patent when the central claim term is impossible to define? This is a perfect illustration of a major problem with software patents: vague and abstract claim language that fails to inform the public about patent scope.

Admitting that the key claim term in your patent is “impossible” to define is probably not a great litigation strategy. And the defendants in some of Blue Spike’s cases have already protested that this means the patents are invalid. The defendants should win this argument (especially since a recent Supreme Court decision tightened the standards applied to vague and ambiguous patents). Though regardless of whether the defendants prevail, Blue Spike’s litigation campaign has already imposed massive costs.

Blue Spike’s patents illustrate another major problem with software patents: vague descriptions of the "invention" that provide no practical help for someone trying to build a useful implementation. This is why many software engineers hold patents in low regard. As one programmer told This American Life, even his own patents were little more than “mumbo jumbo, which nobody understands, and which makes no sense from an engineering standpoint.” You can judge for yourself, but we contend that Blue Spike’s patents consist similarly of little more than legalese and hand waving.

Real products take hard work. A commercially successful product like the Shazam app (one of Blue Spike’s many targets) is likely to consist of tens of thousands lines of code. Actually writing and debugging that code can require months of effort from dozens of engineers (not to mention the fundraising, marketing, and other tasks that go into making a real-world product successful). In contrast, it's easy to suggest that someone create a "comparison device" that "may be implemented with software."

Last month, we selected a bizarre patent to illustrate that the Patent Office conducts a cursory review of applications. In contrast, this month’s winner is not so unusual. In fact, Blue Spike’s patents are typical of the kind of software patent that we see in litigation. That such a low-quality patent family could fuel over 100 cases is a stark illustration of the problem with software patents.

Dishonorable mentions:

US 8,838,476 Systems and methods to provide information and connect people for real time communications (a patent on presenting an advertisement at the outset of a “telephonic connection”)

US 8,838,479 System and method for enabling an advertisement to follow the user to additional web pages (Lots of patentese that says put an ad in a frame and keep the frame constant as the rest of the page changes. Awesome.)

US 8,818,932 Method and apparatus for creating a predictive model (this patent claims to apply the “scientific method” to “the problem of predicting and preventing violence against U.S. and friendly forces” and includes hopelessly vague claim language such as “verifying causal links” and “utilizing the social models to … predict future behavior”)

  • 1. Blue Spike owns a family of four patents – US 7,346,472, US 7,660,700, US 7,949,494, and US 8,214,175 – all titled “Method and Device for Monitoring and Analyzing Signals.” These patents share the same specification which means they describe the same supposed invention but include slightly different patent claims. We award the entire patent family our Stupid Patent of the Month prize.
Files:  blue_spike_v_texas_instruments_complaint.pdf blue_spike_claim_construction_brief.pdf blue_skpike_defs_msj_on_invalidity.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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EFF Intervenes in Canadian Court Case to Protect Free Speech Online

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 03:58
No Single Country Should Have Veto Power Over Global Search Results

Vancouver, Canada - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a brief with the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Canada on Monday weighing in on a ruling that Google must block certain entire websites from its search results around the world.

EFF intervened in Equustek Solutions v. Morgan Jack after a trial court ruled in June that Google must remove links to full websites that contained pages selling a product that allegedly infringed trade secret rights. The injunction not only applied to Google's Canada-specific search, Google.ca, but to all of its searches around the world. Google had offered to remove 345 URLs but would not block the entire category of websites, because they contained pages that "may be used for any number of innocent purposes."

Such a broad injunction sets a dangerous precedent, especially where the injunction is likely to conflict with the laws of other nations. In its brief, EFF explains how the trial court's injunction decision would have likely violated the U.S. Constitution and constituted an improper "mandatory injunction" under case law in California, where Google is based. By blocking entire websites, Canadian courts potentially censor innocent content that U.S. Internet users have a constitutional right to receive.

"The scope of the Canadian court's order could chill speech across the Internet," EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri said. "If a Canadian court is able to block search results around the world, it sets a precedent that nations with authoritarian restrictions on speech can also impose their own rules on the global Internet."

"We hope the court considers how the ruling affects the public interest in free expression," EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. "No single country should have veto power over Internet speech."

EFF filed the brief with the assistance of pro bono counsel David Wotherspoon of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, LLP. The appeal will be argued over three days in the last week of October.

For the filing:

https://www.eff.org/document/eff-factum-equustek-v-morgan-jack

Contacts:

Vera Ranieri
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   vera@eff.org


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Shedding a Little Sunlight On a Trademark Bully

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 02:57

Another day, another stupid trademark threat. The target this time? The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting government transparency. As part of its work, it posts detailed information about corporate campaign contributions, information that often includes logos associated with those corporations. One of those corporations, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, objected, and asked that Sunlight remove its logos. The note was quite polite for a takedown, stressing that Deloitte had no objection to the other content on the site (gee, thanks guys!). But polite or not, it's a note that would be pretty intimidating for most individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses who don't have easy access to a lawyer.

Fortunately, Sunlight was not intimidated. They reached out to EFF, and today we responded on their behalf. As we explained, no person could possibly be confused as to whether Deloitte endorses the Sunlight Foundation or its activities. Moreover, it is well-settled that the First Amendment fully protects the use of trademarked terms and logos in non-commercial websites that comment upon corporations and products. Sunlight's site is a clear example such protected expression. These are all points that Deloitte could have figured out for itself, if it had bothered to give the matter a moment's thought.

That is what is particularly chilling about this takedown. Too often, we see this kind of casual censorship, where owners, (or their agents) shoot off complaints against any use of their marks, without regard for the consequences. Mindless over-enforcement is unnecessary, burdensome, and feeds a censorship culture. It has to stop.

A first step is for Deloitte, and other trademark owners, to adopt enforcement policies that explicitly recognize that their trademark rights do not and cannot trump the First Amendment. Imagine the impact on free speech if you needed a “grant of permission” from BP, Coca-Cola, or EFF before using one of their trademarks as part of speech commenting on their conduct. Fortunately, we don’t live in such a world; no one needs to seek permission for every use of a name or logo.

The second step is for mark owners to finally reject the notion that a mark-holder must enforce its mark in every instance or risk losing it. Quite simply, the view that a trademark holder must trawl the internet and respond to every unauthorized use (or even every infringing use) is a myth. The circumstances under which a company could actually lose a trademark—such as abandonment and genericide—are quite limited. Pretending otherwise is great for some trademark lawyers' bottom lines, but it's irritating and expensive for everyone else. And when done clumsily or maliciously, it chills free expression. Rejecting the myth would not only help the public, it should reduce also mark-holders' legal bills. Win-win, right? Right.

 

Files:  lttdeloitte.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceNo Downtime for Free Speech
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Categories: Aggregated News

Notice to my readers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 09:25
Hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Monday evening for a skin infection. Hopefully for 2 or 3 days only to clear it up.

Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 06:09
Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants
by Stephen Lendman
Obama murders civilian men, women and children he calls militants. Terrorists. Eyewitnesses explain otherwise. More on this below.
He lied claiming he'll degrade and destroy IS's fighting capability. He supports it instead. Previous articles explained.
They're US proxies. Shock troops. Foot soldiers. Boots on the ground. US special forces and CIA operatives train them in Jordan and Turkey.
They're taught effective ways to kill. Dirty ways. Using chemical weapons. Committing atrocities. Including beheadings and other barbarian acts.
Syrian targets struck aren't Islamic State ones. They include vital infrastructure, oil facilities, grain silos with food, empty buildings, residential homes and noncombatant men, women and children.
Exact numbers killed and injured aren't clear. Various estimates differ. The toll rises daily.
On September 23, the Los Angeles Times headlined "Syrians say civilians killed in US airstrikes," explaining:
Video evidence from Northwestern Syria "shows Idlib province residents going through motions that have become all too familiar in three years of civil war between antigovernment rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad…"
They're "surveying the remnants of flattened homes and picking through the debris."
"This time" Washington bears full responsibility. One Syrian perhaps spoke for others, saying:
"Mass destruction (was inflicted on) civilian homes as a result of the strikes of the Western alliance on the civilians in the western Idlib suburbs. Look, it is all civilian homes."
So-called Pentagon photographic evidence is fake. Claiming IL targets were struck is false.
Scores of so-called attacks against it in Iraq haven't scratched its capability. Nor have they in Syria. Nor will they. Nor are they intended to. Obama lied claiming otherwise. 
According to the Times:
Syrians say "as many as two dozen civilians were killed…" As of six days ago. Likely dozens more perished in daily strikes since then.
Washington considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars. Millions perished in Afghanistan. Millions more in Iraq Wars I, II plus years of sanctions.
Libya claimed well over 100,000 lives. Perhaps double or triple that number. No one knows for sure.
Obama's Iraq and Syrian wars may claim millions before they end.Washington doesn't keep body counts. Independent sources estimate best they can.
Syrians fear US bombings for good reason. They're in harm's way. They're afraid they'll be struck.
One Syrian resident said IS fighters dispersed. So did other militants. They left areas likely to be targeted. Civilians suffered most casualties.
Lt. General William Mayville heads US Joint Chiefs of Staff operations. He lied claiming no knowledge "of any civilian casualties."
He's fully briefed on daily operations. "If any reports of civilian casualties emerge, we will fully investigate," he said.
So-called Pentagon investigations cover up, deny and obfuscate. It's longstanding operational procedure. 
It suppresses crimes of war and against humanity. It conceals dirty war. Its atrocities. Without mercy. Without restraint. Without regard for rule of law principles, standards and norms.
On September 28, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "US/Syria: Investigate Possible Unlawful US Strikes," saying:
Idlib airstrikes killed at least eight civilians. They "should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby lied, claiming "no credible reporting from operational sources" of civilian deaths. Syrians able to observe dead men, women and children explained otherwise.
"Three local residents told Human Rights Watch that missiles killed at least two men, two women, and five children, in the early morning hours on September 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib," said HRW.
US wars normalize the unthinkable. Civilian lives don't matter. Crimes of war and against humanity are considered collateral damage.
Residents said missiles struck two homes in Kafr Deryan. They killed at least five children, two women and two men…"
According to HRW: "The reported killing of at least seven civilians in strikes in which there may have been no legitimate military target nearby raises concerns that the strikes were unlawful under the laws of war and should be investigated."
Expect whitewash instead. It's standard US practice. Hegemons don't admit culpability. Or say they're sorry. They blame victims for their crimes.
Residents said "there there were no Jabhat al-Nusra buildings, checkpoints, or vehicles in the vicinity of the strike in the village," said HRW,
Pentagon officials knew it. They spent weeks gathering intelligence. Choosing targets. 
Striking homes with civilians shows contempt for human lives. It shows America wages dirty wars. It kills indiscriminately.
Its sanctimonious objectives are false. Hypocritical. Big Lies. War crimes and then some. Expect lots more ahead.
HRW listed victims by names. They weren't terrorists. They were innocent victims in harm's way.
"Video footage posted on YouTube on September 23 by a local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch shows some of the civilians injured in the strikes and the aftermath of the attacks," said HRW. 
"Another video posted by the Shaam News Network showed three children, two who appear to have been killed, and one who appears to have been injured in the missile strikes." 
"An additional video, posted on YouTube by the local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch, shows two children being rushed to receive medical treatment in the aftermath of the attack, and another shows an adult victim being pulled out of the rubble."
A Kafr Deryan resident said "six additional civilians - three children and three women - were also killed in the strikes on the villages but Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this claim," according to HRW.
"He said that approximately 15 others, including women and children, were injured."
Three Kafr Deryan residents said "civilians were all killed when missiles struck their homes directly, and two of the residents said they had seen weapons remnants at the site of the destroyed homes, suggesting that the strikes directly caused the fatalities," according to HRW.
Another said "he was at the scene of the attack on the two residences about 10 minutes after the strikes and that he and other activists collected the remnants from the weapons used in the strikes and videotaped them and posted some of the footage of the aftermath of the strikes on YouTube." 
HRW said it "reviewed his footage and has identified the remnants as debris of a turbofan engine from a Tomahawk cruise missile, a weapon that only the US and British governments have."
"Witness accounts suggest that the attack on the village harmed civilians but did not strike a military target, violating the laws of war by failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or that it unlawfully caused civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage," it added.
"The US government should investigate credible allegations of violations of the laws of war, such the strikes on Kafr Deryan, and publish its findings…"
"In the event of wrongdoing, the United States should ensure accountability and provide appropriate redress." 
"Further, the United States should take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians in future attacks."
Obama ordered Iraqi and Syrian airstrikes lawlessly. He did so preemptively. With no legal authority. 
No Security Council approval. No congressional declaration of war. No adversary threatening America. Doing so constitutes high criminality against peace.
Indiscriminately killing noncombatant men, women and children adds more high crimes to his rap sheet. He's guilty as charged. 
He remains unaccountable. He operates this way. He gives rogue leadership new meaning. He's unapologetic. He blames victims for his crimes.
Expect lots more mass slaughter and destruction before his Iraqi and Syrian wars end. High crimes against peace. The supreme crime. Genocide. It's the American 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 Targets Free Expression

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 23:43
Obama Targets Free Expression
by Stephen Lendman
Speech, press and academic freedoms are fundamental. They're our most precious rights. Without them all others are endangered.
Candidate Obama pledged "change you can believe in." He promised hope. He did Lincoln one better. He fooled most people enough times to matter.
"Yes we can" conceals his dark side duplicity. He made America look like Guatemala. He transformed NSA into America's Stasi.
He promised transparency, accountability, and reform. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. 
He called it "the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse." He said whistleblowing reflects "acts of courage and patriotism."
"Often the best source of information about (government wrongdoing) is an existing employee committed to public integrity willing to speak out."
"We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance."
He promised "strengthen(ed) whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government."
He stressed "(g)overnment should be transparent. (He claimed he) promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing."
He said one thing. He did another. He broke every major promise made. He gave information control new meaning. 
His administration is more Stalinist than democratic. He wants free flowing information stifled. He wants total control over what's made public. 
He wants unprecedented amounts of government information classified to conceal what's vital for everyone to know.
He monitors journalists. He accesses their phone records. He reads their emails. He tracks their personal movements.
He's gives police state control new meaning. He wants nothing he demands suppressed revealed.
He's obsessed with secrecy. He wants government wrongdoing concealed. Whistleblowers are criminalized for doing their job. Independent journalism is threatened.
The late Helen Thomas (1920 - 2013) covered five decades of US administrations. She began during the Kennedy years.
In July 2009, she complained about Obama. She called his press-controlling efforts unprecedented.
"It's shocking. It's really shocking," she said. "What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" 
"They're supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them." Press control is worse than ever before, she said.
"Nixon didn't try to do that. They couldn't control (the media). They didn't try."
"I'm not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to (a) fare-thee-well for town halls, the press conferences. It's blatant." 
"They don't give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame."
Obama disgraces the office he holds. He presides of a homeland police state apparatus. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. 
Mass surveillance became institutionalized on his watch. Rule of law principles don't matter. 
Business as usual takes precedence. Constitutional protections are irrelevant. Fundamental rights are dying.
Press freedom is endangered on his watch. It's targeted for elimination altogether. 
Obama wants Big Brother watching everyone. He wants content censored. He wants thought control.
He wants dissent crushed. He wants digital democracy destroyed. He wants truth and full disclosure suppressed.
He wants journalists closely watched. He wants their reporting monitored. He wants their dispatches censored.
An "Insider Threat Program" requires all federal employees help prevent unauthorized leaks. It's done by colleagues monitoring each other. 
Everybody is supposed to watch everyone else. Doing so gives Big Brother new meaning.
It heightens paranoia. It makes government employees cautious about who they see and what they say.
Since 2009, six government employees, two contractors, and Edward Snowden faced criminal prosecutions. They were charged with leaking classified information to the press.
Other federal employees are being investigated. A climate of fear exists. Journalists and sources are reluctant to share information.
New York Times reporter Scott Shane said he's "scared to death. (W)e have a real problem."
"Most people are deterred by those leaks prosecutions. There's a gray zone between classified and unclassified information."
"(M)ost sources are in it. It’s having a deterrent effect." 
"If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government." 
Times correspondent David Sanger called the Obama administration "the most closed, control freak (one he) ever covered."
AP senior managing editor Michael Oreskes:
"Sources are more jittery and more standoffish, not just in national security reporting. A lot of skittishness is at the more routine level." 
"The Obama administration has been extremely controlling and extremely resistant to journalistic intervention." 
"There's a mind-set and approach that holds journalists at a greater distance."
Washington-based Financial Times correspondent Richard McGregor said:
"Covering this White House is pretty miserable in terms of getting anything of substance to report on in what should be a much more open system."
CBS Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer calls the Obama administration "the most manipulative and secretive (he ever) covered."
On September 24, RT International headlined "White House accused of censoring dispatches from pool reporters," saying:
Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi said White House staffers demand changes in press-pool content.
They "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Their meddling "represents a troubling trend…"
"(It) prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents' Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting."
It was created a decade ago. A handful of reporters are proxies or "poolers." They represent the entire press corp.
They're chosen from among regular White House correspondents. They serve on a rotating basis. They share information with their colleagues.
Before doing so, they "send their files to the White House press office…(It) forwards them via email to a database of thousands of recipients…"
They include "news outlets, federal agencies and congressional offices."
The process lets White House staffers read pool reports in advance, flag objectionable content, and demand removal before distribution to other recipients.
Obama wants final say on pool reporters' content. His policy constitutes brazen censorship.
Longtime National Journal contributing editor Tom DeFrank said "the White House has no right to touch a pool report." 
"It's none of their business. If they want to challenge something by putting out a statement of their own, that’s their right." 
"It's also their prerogative to jawbone a reporter, which often happens. But they have no right to alter a pool report unilaterally."
According to White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) president/Los Angeles Times reporter Christi Parsons:
"The independence of the print pool reports is of utmost importance to us. Our expectation is that the White House puts out the pool report and asks questions later."
It compromises independent journalism. It micro-manages. It criticizes trivial details. It wants final say on content. It targets press freedom.
Last year, AP, the Washington Post, ABC News, USA Today, McClatchy newspapers and other news outlets wrote the White House.
They'll no longer publish executive branch issued images, they said. They cited interference with their own photojournalists.
They're unwelcome at official events. They're increasingly shut out. Obama's photography team alone gets free access.
Their letter read in part:
"As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government."
Censoring content compromises pool reporting. Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz lied, saying:
"We value the role of the independent press pool, which provides timely, extensive, and important coverage of the president and his activities while at the White House and around the world." 
"That is why, at the request of the White House Correspondents Association, the White House has distributed 20,000 pool reports in the past six years, and we will continue to offer that facilitation for journalists as they work to chronicle the presidency."
Pool reporters and other journalists explain otherwise. Obama is obsessed with secrecy. 
He wants free-flowing information stifled.  AP reporter Sally Buzbee complained about White House staffers blocking information they want concealed.
Buzbee commented on Obama's Iraq and Syrian wars. White House staffers block information on them. "The public can't see any of it," she said.
"News organizations can't shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off. There are no embeds. In fact, the administration won't even say what country the (US) bombers fly from."
In April, the Thomas Jefferson Center (TJC) for the Protection of Free Expression awarded the White House press office and Department of Justice its annual "Jefferson Muzzle."
It "draw(s) national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment."
According to TJC director Josh Wheeler:
"From the White House to the statehouse, from universities to high schools, members of the press have had to defend against a variety of challenges, some never seen before."
Prior muzzle winners included George HW Bush's White House, Clinton's administration, GW Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and key members of his cabinet.
TJC's web site says:
"Since 1992, it "celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by calling attention to those who in the past year forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson's admonition that freedom of speech 'cannot be limited without being lost.' "
It's eroding in plain sight. It's headed for elimination altogether. 
Police states operate this way. Obama gives rogue leadership new meaning.
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. 

America: Humanity's Greatest Threat

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 21:12
America: Humanity's Greatest Threat
by Stephen Lendman
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. No nation in world history caused more harm to more people over a longer duration than America.
None more give rogue state governance new meaning. None wage more wars. None more affirm them as official policy. 
Permanent ones. Aggressive ones. Lawless ones. Preemptive ones against invented enemies posing America no harm.
No nation more recklessly threatens world peace. None more egregiously breach fundamental rule of law principles. 
None are more ruthless. More reckless. More malicious. More merciless. More brutal. More barbarous. More sanctimonious.
None more contemptuously flout human and civil rights. Or proliferate more Big Lies harming millions worldwide.
None more reprehensibly serve monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Or more self-righteously claim exceptionalism.
None more rampage globally. Or more threaten humanity's survival if its killing machine isn't stopped.
Paul Craig Roberts rightly calls "Washington's insistence on its hegemony" the world's "greatest threat to peace and life on earth." 
Neocon "psychopaths" infest Washington. They exert huge influence. They demand obedience. 
They want stooge regimes in place globally. They want subservient ones serving US interests. 
They deplore peace and stability. They want permanent wars. They want unchallenged global dominance. They stop at nothing to achieve it.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is a world-class diplomat. A true peace champion. A tireless statesman to achieve it.
He told RT International America must stop acting unilaterally at the expense of other nations' interests.
It must "see the light and realize (it) can no longer act as the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner in every part of the world," he said.
Resolving vital issues requires cooperation, Lavrov explained. US-led NATO maintains destructive "Cold War mentality."
"…(F)oreign ministers of Germany, France and many other European countries (dislike) the current situation, but they simply can't abandon the position they've taken, namely, that it's all Russia's fault, that it was Russia (that) bought about the Ukraine crisis."
"The same thing happened three-and-a-half years ago, when the Syrian crisis broke out." US and European leaders refused to engage Assad responsibly.
He "has to go," they demanded. They violated "agreements we have, which makes us wonder whether it is even possible to have any agreements with them at all," said Lavrov.
They "botch(ed)" things on Ukraine. They rebuffed Moscow's attempts to resolve major issues diplomatically.
"They told us bluntly that their relationship with Ukraine is none of our business." The day before democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster, opposition Ukrainian figures agreed to unity governance.
A new constitution. A presidential election before year's end. The next day, "radical forces stormed government buildings…" They acted lawlessly. They usurped putschist power. 
They "announced a new government…" They spurned unity. They instituted police state laws. 
Ukraine "needs comprehensive constitutional reform," said Lavrov. Months of crisis "shook the whole of Europe." 
Things are nowhere near resolved. Over 3,000 Ukrainians apply for temporary asylum in Russia daily. 
They don't believe fragile peace will hold. For good reasons. Fascist pro-Western stooges run things
They're beholden to Washington. They operate lawlessly. They're all take and no give. 
They can't be trusted. They say one thing. They do another. So-called peace is more fantasy than real. 
Conflict could resume any time. Expect it at Washington's discretion.
Its dirty hands bear full responsibility for crisis conditions. Rogue EU partners share it. For ousting Ukraine's democratically elected government.
For replacing it with fascist putschists. For stoking East/West confrontation. 
Lavrov said one of his foreign affairs colleagues said Cold War politics never ended. They're worse than ever now.
Putin and Obama are geopolitical opposites. They're world's apart. Their ideologies clash. They represent conflicting values.
Putin believes sovereign independence matters. It's inviolable. He supports multi-world polarity.
He opposes US imperial lawlessness. He affirms UN Charter and other rule of law principles.
Obama claims a divine right to wage permanent wars. To ravage and destroy one country after another. 
To pursue unchallenged global dominance. To risk the unthinkable doing so.
Separately, Lavrov said US-led NATO confrontation with Russia shows "the mentality of Cold War dies hard…"
NATO's "genetic code" to counter Russia is "still very much alive." America and other Western countries claim Russia threatens their societies. 
Truth is polar opposite. US-led NATO is humanity's greatest threat. At stake is world peace. It hangs by a thread.
On September 30, Anders Fogh Rasmussen's term as NATO's 12th secretary general ends. On September 26, his parting shot was belittling and threatening Moscow.
He lied saying "(i)t's quite clear that…Russia doesn't consider us a partner but an adversary. And, obviously, we…have to adapt to that."
He ludicrously claimed Moscow has a "master plan (to) establish a zone of Russian influence in their near neighborhood, covering the former Soviet space."
Nonsensically he said Baltic states feel threatened by Putin. He threatens no one. 
Claims otherwise are false. Malicious. Confrontational. Heightening tensions when efforts should prioritize cooling them. 
Resolving things responsibly. Going all-out for world peace, stability and security.
Washington demands otherwise. Rasmussen was its man in Brussels. A convenient stooge. New NATO head Jens Stoltenberg assumes the same capacity. Effective October 1.
He was chosen for that purpose. Carefully vetted. He won't disappoint. Expect Cold War politics to continue.
Washington prioritizes Russia bashing. Instead of engaging Putin responsibly, he's maligned as public enemy No. 1.
Rasmussen accused him and the Islamic State of creating "an arc of crisis" around NATO nations.
"We need a strong force for freedom," he hyperventilated. "That's why we need a strong NATO," he added.
It's a global killing machine. An imperial tool. A lawless one. A reckless one. A ruthless one. 
It prioritizes war. It deplores peace. It rapes and pillages one country after another.
It wants fundamental freedoms destroyed. Eliminated altogether. It threatens humanity's survival.
Rasmussen is complicit in high crimes against peace. He should be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned.
He'll be honored for being Washington's man in Brussels. Feted for lawless NATO aggression. Lauded for imperial loyalty.
Waging war on humanity doesn't matter. Or violating core rule of law principles. Unbridled power counts most.
Enforcing it belligerently. Risking belligerent East/West confrontation. Possible global war. Humanity's survival.
America is the real Evil Empire. Recklessness defines its agenda. Its rage for war. WMDs to wage it, and global delivery systems making the unthinkable possible.
Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He governs lawlessly. He disgraces the office he holds. Removing him is a national imperative.
He's Machiavellian. Dangerous. Ruthless. Reckless. He abhors peace. He's more Dr. Strangelove than world leader. 
Stanley Kubrick's film satirically depicted a deranged general's obsession to wage nuclear war. Obama may be fool enough to launch one. 
Perhaps neocons infesting Washington intend one. They influence administration policies. 
Obama is titular head of government. Monied interests own him. He serves at their discretion.
He calls aggressive war preventive. Moral. The right thing to do. 
Pentagon May 2000 Joint Vision 2020 called for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems. 
With enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary. Using nuclear weapons preemptively.
Washington's National Security Strategy (NSS) affirms it. So does its Nuclear Policy Review. 
Obama's 2010 NPR replicated Bush administration policies. It's old wine in new bottles. Rhetoric alone changed.
It said America "reserves the right" to use nuclear weapons "that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat."
Joint Nuclear Operations doctrine remains unchanged. No distinction between defensive and offensive deterrents exists.
America's land and sea-based strategic bombers, land-based missiles, and ballistic missile submarines target potential rogue threats.
None exist. America's only enemies are ones it invents. To advance its imperium. Risking the unthinkable doing so.
Business as usual persists. World peace hangs by a thread. Washington is humanity's greatest threat. 
Stopping its killing machine matters most. Survival depends 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. 

MSM Support Brazen Lawlessness

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 04:02
MSM Support Brazen Lawlessness
by Stephen Lendman
International, constitutional and US statute laws aren't ambiguous. They don't leave wiggle room.
They're clear and unequivocal. No nation may attack another except in self-defense.
None may do so without Security Council approval. Presidents can't authorize war. Nor Congress. Nor US courts at the highest level.
Claims otherwise are false. America's last legal war was WW II. Obama's wars are brazenly lawless. 
They have no legitimacy whatever. They constitute premeditated naked aggression. They're Nuremberg-level crimes. The supreme crime against peace.
Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. They support what demands unequivocal denunciation. 
Failure to do so constitutes complicity with the highest of high crimes.
Media scoundrels cheerlead them. They regurgitate Big Lies doing so. Last week's headlines featured a so-called Khorasan Group. 
It's more fiction than fact. It's fake. Irresponsible fear-mongering gets people to believe otherwise. 
Posing a threat to Europe and America's heartland, it's claimed. Truth is polar opposite.
Last week's screaming MSM headlines said US warplanes targeted the secretive group's "training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities."
Islamic State, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and similar groups wage guerrilla warfare. They have no standing armies.
They don't fight like traditional ones. Their forces are well dispersed. Their weapons aren't concentrated for easy targeting. 
So-called communications, command and control and training camp facilities struck were empty buildings.
Not according to Joint Chiefs of Staff director of operations Lt. General William Mayville Jr.
He hyped a fictitious group. He lied claiming its fighters were in the "final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the US homeland."
"We believe the Khorasan Group was nearing the execution phase of an attack either in Europe" or America.
A Pentagon statement said it "established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations."
Media scoundrels regurgitated this rubbish like gospel. Without challenging it. Without demanding verifiable evidence.
Without refusing to publish without it. Without reporting what readers and viewers most need to know.
Fear-mongering substitutes. So do Big Lies. They suppress reality.
They're pretexts for militarism, wars of aggression, occupations, colonization, resource theft, and exploiting populations for profit.  
They reflect official US policy. Media scoundrels march in lockstep.
Claiming Middle East terrorist groups threaten America's heartland is nonsense. Rubbish.
Americans have more to fear from police brutality, air pollution, unsafe food and drugs, gun violence claiming tens of thousands of annual victims, and traffic fatalities killing from 30 - 50,000 or more annually for decades.
Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. Or tell readers what they most need to know about major world and national issues. Ones affecting their lives and well-being.
Or explain Washington's relationship with IS, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and other extremist fighters. They're US shock troops. They're used against America's enemies. 
Against Gaddafi. Against Assad. Against any leader or sovereign government Washington wants toppled.
US special forces and CIA operatives train Islamic terrorists in Jordan and Turkey. They're deployed cross-border. They're sent to further America's regime change plans.
Bombing isn't to degrade and destroy them. It supports them. It targets Syrian infrastructure, oil facilities and empty buildings.
They're unrelated to defeating them. They're prelude to attacking Syrian targets. Perhaps Damascus. 
Perhaps with intent to kill Assad. Maybe other Syrian officials with him. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain.
Orwell did best saying "in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." It's truer than ever today. 
Big Brother wages war on truth. Hot war on America's enemies. Not hot enough for Washington Post editors.
In mid-September, they headlined "The US strategy to defeat the Islamic State is underpowered," saying:
America's previous wars on Iraq (Afghanistan and other adversaries) "assembled formidable coalitions of dozens of countries."
"By those standards, the results…of the Obama administration’s efforts to marshal an alliance to fight the self-described Islamic State look meager."
WaPo editors want more. A more robust response. With boots on the ground. From multiple countries.
John Kerry said defeating IS depends in part on non-combat efforts. Discrediting its ideology. Stopping volunteers from joining them.
He ignored what's most important. So did WaPo editors. US imperialism serves them. Its war on humanity.
It's aggression, repressive occupations, and resource theft. It's exploiting populations for profit.
Don't expect WaPo editors to explain. They urged more of encourages angry Muslims to join IS and other extremist groups.
They want Iraq's military strengthened. They want America more actively involved. They want war, not peace.
So does WaPo contributor Rosa Brooks. She's a Georgetown law professor. She's a New America Foundation senior fellow.
Bilderberg Group/CIA-connected Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs its board of directors. 
Right-wing ideologue Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO. She's a regular WaPo contributor. Other board members include a rogue's gallery of imperial supporters.
Brooks says she "can't help feeling queasy every time (she) hear(s) the president pledge that there will be 'no boots on the ground' in America's newest war."
She wonder(s) what that pledge really means - and just why we're supposed to find it reassuring."
"It's a pledge that seems to have everything to do with politics and little to do with the imperatives of strategy or security." 
Obama wars "have everything to do with" advancing America's imperium. Making the world safe for monied interests.
Letting war profiteers gorge at the public trough. Waging war on humanity for unchallenged dominance. 
Doing it lawlessly. With evil intent. With unbridled ruthlessness. Millions of corpses attest to America's barbarity.
Don't expect Brooks to explain. Or that no nation in human history caused more harm to more people maliciously. Over a longer duration.
Waging permanent wars against humanity. Using IS and other terrorist groups as proxies. Shock troops. Foot soldiers. Boots on the ground.
Brooks quoted Obama saying "(t)he only language (IS) killers (understand) is the language of force."
They have good teachers at US training camps. They're taught the fine art of killing. How to commit atrocities. 
Which ones for what purpose. Including beheadings. US special forces and CIA operatives are experts.
"Relying on airstrikes alone may merely prolong a bloody and inconclusive conflict, or strengthen other actors who are just as brutal as Islamic State fighters, from the regime of Bashar al-Assad to the al-Qaeda-linked rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra," Brooks claimed.
Syria is Obama's war. He launched it. He bears full responsibility for mass slaughter and destruction.
For wanting Syria ravaged and destroyed. For greater regional control. To eliminate a key Israeli adversary. To isolate Iran.
Syria was invaded. There's nothing civil about ongoing conflict. Assad governs responsibly. He's obligated to protect his people.
They support him overwhelmingly. They want no one else leading them. 
Brooks didn't explain. She wants him ousted. Rule of law principles don't matter. 
Nor lawless aggression. Nor using extremist killers as US shock troops.
"If Obama's promise of 'no boots on the ground' means we'll be fighting a war of half-measures - a war that won't achieve our objectives and that may increase the long-term threat - I'm not sure, in the end, that it's a promise I want him to keep," she said.
Lots of other ideologies are as extremist as Brooks. Anti-war/rule of law advocates get no scoundrel media space or air time. 
Warriors and hawks alone are welcome. Their world is Orwell's vision of “a boot stamping on a human face forever."
It's official US policy. It's for unbridled imperial control.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Irresponsible New York Times Presstitution

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 28/09/2014 - 22:54
Irresponsible New York Times Presstitution

by Stephen Lendman

The late Gore Vidal called The Times the "Typhoid Mary of American journalism" for good reason.

The so-called "newspaper of record" is more laughing stock than source for legitimate journalism.

Its news, information and analysis are heavily filtered. Fiction and popular myths substitute for facts.

Monied interests are supported at the expense of popular ones. Vital truths are systematically buried.

Managed news misinformation substitutes. So do Big Lies on issues mattering most.

Imperial wars are called liberating ones. Ravaging and destroying one nation after another is considered humanitarian intervention.

Wars are supported in the name of peace. Might justifies right. Plunder is called economic development.

Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good. Irresponsible government and corporate interests are wholeheartedly endorsed. Beneficial social change is considered heresy.

The market (aka as casino capitalism) works best so let it, we're told. Patriotism means supporting Washington right or wrong.

The Times is America's lead propaganda instrument. Misinformation masquerades as legitimate journalism.

Whenever America goes to war or plans one, Times correspondents, contributors and editors march in lockstep.

Times policy is it's OK if we do it. Bad guys are nations, groups or individuals Washington opposes.

Terrorism is what they do, not us. Reasons why imperial wars are waged are suppressed.

Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Sacrificing human lives and freedoms are small prices to pay. Humanity is at risk but who cares.

Ravaging and destroying one nation after another doesn't matter. Corporate grand theft is OK. So is the unprecedented wealth gap.

Protracted Main Street Depression conditions affecting most Americans aren't discussed.

Nor unmet human needs, growing poverty, hunger, homelessness, depravation and despair.

Unprecedented corporate and government corruption is ignored. So is government of, by and for monied interests alone.

Sham elections are called democratic ones. Social injustice gets short shrift if any.

Truth is the most dangerous disinfectant. Suppressing it is longstanding Times policy. All garbage all the time on issues mattering most substitutes.

Russia bashing is relentless. Putin is considered public enemy No. 1. Kiev fascist putschists are called democrats.

They're xenophobic, ultranationist, anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, anti-Russian hate-mongers.

They represent mob rule. They have no legitimacy whatever. Don't expect The Times to explain.

Lies, damn lies and Big ones substitute for credible news, commentary and analysis.

They're relentless on Ukraine. For the first time since Nazi Germany's defeat, reemergent fascism infests Europe's heartland.

Western leaders support it. John Pilger quoted Professor Terry Eagleton saying "for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life."

Its most disturbing aspects. Its immorality. Its belligerence. Its lawlessness. Its contempt for popular interests. Its support for wrong over right.

"No Shelly speaks for the poor," said Pilger. "(N)o Blake for utopian dreams…(N)o Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class…"

"(N)o Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today."

The late "Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice." He's badly missed.

So are Gore Vidal, Studs Terkel, Howard Zinn, Edward Said and other distinguished figures speaking truth to power forthrightly, publicly, and effectively.

They're gone. They're not around to challenge official Big Lies. Relentless misinformation on Ukraine.

Scoundrel media corruption. Unconscionable Russia bashing. Outrageous lies about Putin. It gives yellow journalism new meaning.

MSM today are scandalous. Disreputable. Unethical. Outrageous. An embarrassment to legitimate journalism.

It's a lying machine. Washington's war on humanity is called humanitarian intervention.

Israeli aggression is considered self-defense. Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism.

Illegitimate Kiev fascist putschists are lauded like democrats. Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are called terrorists.

Russia's heroic conflict resolution efforts are called "invasion," "infiltration," "cross-border shelling," "significant escalation," "interference," "aggression," and other pejorative Big Lies.

Irresponsible Putin bashing rages. It's relentless. Western leaders bear full responsibility. Media scoundrels share it.

Times correspondents, contributors and editors turn truth on its head. Indefensible Big Lies substitute.

Readers are carpet-bombed daily. The Russians are coming, they're told.

"Mr. Putin (plays) his dangerous game in Ukraine with cunning and deceit," claim Times editors. "First he annexed Crimea."

He held "intimidating military exercises on the Ukrainian border and sen(t) in ever more men and arms in support of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk, all the while falsely denying any Russian involvement other than humanitarian concern for the ethnic Russian population."

"Rebels shot down a Malaysian jetliner with a Russian missile…" Cross-border artillery fire shelled Ukraine, claimed Times editors.

Russian "armored columns" invaded Ukraine, they said.

Fact check:

Crimeans voted near unanimously to join Russia. They did so in a referendum independent international monitors called open, free and fair.

Putin responsibly accommodated their wishes. Russian military exercises threaten no one.

Western monitors were invited to observe them. No Russian invasion occurred. No cross-border artillery fire.

So-called satellite imagery was fake. One or more Ukrainian warplanes shot down MH 17.

Clear evidence showed cannon fire downed it. No ground to air missile was involved. Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or its correspondents and contributors.

On September 27, Putin bashing continued. The Times headlined "It Pays to Be Putin's Friend," saying:

He "steer(ed) lucrative accounts" Bank Rossiya's way after Washington "made (it) a primary target of sanctions…"

It's "run by some of (Putin's) closest friends and colleagues from his early days in St. Petersburg…"

It's "emblematic of the way (his) brand of crony capitalism has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped him maintain his iron-fisted grip on power."

Fact check:

US government/corporate corruption gives grand theft new meaning. So does US-style crony capitalism.

Monied interests run America. They so so in league with fascist governance.

Mussolini called his version corporatism. It reflects "the merger of state and corporate power," he said.

America's version is worse. It's global. It combines police state harshness, disdain for fundamental rights, and brazen brutality with unbridled corporate power.

It's ideologically over-the-top and then some. It's ruthless. It's all take and no give. Non-believers aren't tolerated.

They're systematically eliminated. They're murdered in cold blood. They locked away in gulag prison hell to rot.

Fascism works this way. America is the world's leading exponent. Ukraine is the epicenter of its European reemergence. Don't The Times to explain.

"If the modern Russian state is Kremlin Inc., Mr. Putin is its chief executive officer, rewarding his friends with control of state-owned companies and doling out lucrative government contracts in deals that provoke accusations of corruption but have the veneer of legality under the Putin system," it claimed.

He "collect(ed) new friends," it added. He "la(id) the foundation for what would evolve into the system of personalized, state-sponsored capitalism now at the heart of his power."

"In many cases, contracts and property (are) distributed through insider deals, often without open or transparent bidding."

Fact check:

American-style casino capitalism gives corruption new meaning. Crony capitalism flourishes. Oligarchs run America.

No-bid sweetheart deals are standard practice. So is gross over-billing, waste, fraud and abuse on the grandest of grand scales.

Gangsterism defines America. So does kleptocracy. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan.

Monied interests run things. They're in league with corrupt government officials.

They hold an unprecedented amount of wealth. They take full advantage.

They hide it in offshore tax havens. America is the United States of steal all you can.

Ordinary people have no say. Elections have no legitimacy. They're shams. Democracy is pure fantasy. It's the best money can buy.

Personal freedoms are eroding in plain sight. They're disappearing altogether.

Putin was democratically elected three times. Independent monitors call Russia's process open, free and fair.

Russians want no one else to lead them. In March 2012, Putin's majority was 63.6%. His closest rival got 17.2%.

Polls show he's overwhelmingly popular. Well over 80% of Russians support him. It's for good reason.

For opposing Western imperialism. For affirming Russian sovereignty. For observing international laws, norms and standards.

For championing multi-world polarity. For going all-out for diplomatic conflict resolutions. For supporting peace and stability. For deploring wars without end.

For challenging US unipolarity, unilateralism, state terror and war on humanity.

He's bashed for doing the right thing. For supporting right over wrong. For being on the right side of major geopolitical issues.

For being forthright. For challenging America responsibly. Don't expect The Times to explain.

It wages war on truth relentlessly. Putin bashing persists like sport. Russian expert Stephen Cohen says doing so endangers US security.

Media scoundrels denigrate him irresponsibly. They're mindless about what's at stake, says Cohen.

Putin bashing "featur(es) mostly irrelevant, baseless or hyperbolic allegations about his political record…" It's unabated. It's relentless.

It's malicious. MSM countervailing voices don't exist. He's demonized like "Saddam, Stalin and Hitler."

He's falsely accused of revanchism. Of wanting imperial Russia restored. Of "poking America in the eye."

Putinophobia rages. It's when cooperating with Moscow should take precedence.

At risk is open East/West confrontation. Potentially escalating it to global conflict.

Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He's ideologically over-the-top. He risks what no responsible leader would dare.

His geopolitical agenda reflects madness. Media scoundrels share blame. They're mindless of potential armageddon.

Times news, commentaries and analyses have clout. They reflect official policy. They influence it.

Bashing Putin irresponsibly risks the unthinkable. Cold War 2.0 risks becoming hot. All bets are off if it happens.

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.

Israel: Guilty of Genocidal High Crimes

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 28/09/2014 - 06:25
Israel: Guilty of Genocidal High Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article explained the following:
The Russell Tribunal (RT) is an activist peace organization. It's known as the International War Crimes Tribunal. 
It condemns America's permanent war agenda. It opposes New World Order extremism. Its members include academics, intellectuals and artists.
It's inspired by the BRussells Tribunal. It was named after after famed philosopher/mathematician/anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970).
He warned many years ago:
"Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war" and live in peace. There's no in between.
Previous tribunals investigated war crimes in Vietnam, Iraq and Palestine. Others examined human rights abuses in Latin America and psychiatry.
An extraordinary Brussels September 24 and 25 session was held on Israel's Operation Protective Edge (OPE). 
It examined its high crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. "(T)hird States' complicity was investigated.
Findings didn't surprise. They were damning. Distinguished witnesses included:
Palestinian Center for Human Rights director Raji Sourani.
Economics editor Paul Mason.
Journalist Mohammed Omer.
Physician Mohammad Abou-Arab.
European Palestinian BDS national committee coordinator Michael Deas.
Journalist Max Blumenthal.
Journalist Martin Lejeune.
Physician Mads Gilbert.
Defense for Children International-Palestine advocacy unit coordinator Ivan Karakashian.
Israeli investigative researcher/former IDF soldier Paul Behrens.
Independent journalist/filmmaker David Sheen.
Arms expert Col. Desmond Travers.
Gazan filmmaker Ashraf Mashharawi
Aprodev advocacy for just peace in Palestine official Agnes Bertrand.
Distinguished jurors included:
International Law Professor/former special rapporteur for the UN Commission on Human Rights and International Law Commission John Dugard.
Lawyer Michael Mansfield.
UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk.
Pink Floyd band founding member Roger Water.
Novelist/political and cultural commentator Ahdaf Soueif.
Former South African government minister/activist/writer Ronald Kasrils.
Anti-globalization/environmental activist Vandana Shiva.
Film/television director Ken Loach.
Lawyer/script writer Paul Laverty.
Activist/author Christianne Hessel.
Human rights lawyer Radhia Nasraoui.
Pianist/UNESCO goodwill ambassador Miguel Angel Estrella.
Years earlier, international Vietnam war crimes founder Bertrand Russell said: "May this tribunal prevent the crime of silence."
The Russell Tribunal's Extraordinary session met in response to 51 days of Israeli atrocities in Gaza.
Its forces committed the highest of genocidal high crimes against peace. Neocons, Zionist extremists, pro-Israeli zealots, most Western politicians, and fools alone would claim otherwise.
Israel waged preemptive aggressive war on Gaza. It matched one of the world's most powerful armies against lightly armed Gazan defenders.
Over 2,000 Palestinians were slaughtered in cold blood. Mostly non-combatant civilians. 
Dozens of entire families were wiped out to the last man, woman and child. Hundreds of Palestinian children, infants and women perished.
Around 11,000 Palestinians were wounded. Many maimed for life. Entire communities were leveled. They were turned to rubble.
Operation Protective Edge (OPE) will be remembered as one of history's great crimes. Israel showed no mercy. Its leaders give rogue state ruthlessness new meaning.
OPE lasted 51 days. They included merciless mass slaughter and destruction. Israeli wars feature appalling atrocities. 
Noncombatant civilians are considered legitimate targets. So are children, infants and women. 
International law prohibits attacking them. Doing so constitutes high crimes against peace. Israel is guilty as charged and then some.
Juror conclusions were clear, unequivocal and damning. Eyewitness testimonies produced irrefutable evidence. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
‘'The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza," they concluded.
"The Tribunal emphasizes the potential for a regime of persecution to become genocidal in effect." 
"In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Tribunal emphasizes the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide."
"The Jury heard evidence from (the above named) eyewitnesses to Israeli attacks during the Gaza war 2014…" 
"In terms of the crime of incitement to genocide, the tribunal received evidence 'demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement' during the summer of 2014." 
"The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers."
Clear evidence showed Israel committed the following high crimes against peace:
"Willful killing
Extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity
Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects
Disproportionate use of force
Attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education
The use of Palestinians as human shields
Employing weapons, projectiles, and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering which are inherently indiscriminate
The use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population"
Tribunal members added:
"It is recognized that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide."
"We have have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded."
"The Tribunal calls on Israel to fulfill its obligations under international law and for the state of Palestine to accede without further delay to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, fully cooperate with the human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry and fully engage the mechanisms of international justice."
"The Tribunal also reminds all states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip." 
"In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organizations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel."
It calls upon All states to fulfill their duty to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide."
It bear repeating. Israel committed one of history's great crimes. It stand guilty as charged. Justice remains denied.
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. 

Bombs Away: Official US Policy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 28/09/2014 - 05:02
Bombs Away: Official US Policy
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout its sordid history, America waged war, not peace. It's done so at home and abroad. It's addicted to war.
Without mercy. Permanent wars. Endless ones. Lawless ones. Ruthless ones. Against invented enemies. None existed since WW II.
They're manufactured out of whole cloth. None threaten America. Washington's wars are preemptive.
Aggressive. Extrajudicial. Without just cause. Victims are blamed for US crimes. New World Order diktats determine policy.
America's culture is violent. It glorifies wars in the name of peace. Pacifism is considered sissy.
Wars, economic turmoil and financial terrorism play out in real time. So do other upheavals.
Nothing happens accidentally. Events are manipulated strategically. At issue is carving up whole continents for profit. 
Controlling world resources. Exploiting people everywhere. Achieving unchallenged global dominance. Mass slaughter and destruction are small prices to pay.
Bombs away is official US policy. So is permanent war on humanity. No nation in world history caused more harm to more people over a longer duration. 
It's a longstanding tradition. A sordid one. An abhorrent one. A ruthless one giving no quarter. Means justify ends. 
Might justifies right. International, constitutional and US statute laws don't matter. They're ignored with impunity. 
The supreme law of the land deters no president from operating extrajudicially. Congress is largely rubber-stamp.
America reflects governance of men, not laws. Claiming otherwise is fantasy. It's pure nonsense.
US officials lie, connive, misinterpret, circumvent laws, ignore them, and do what they damn please. They operate ad libitum. They do so for their own self-interest.
"We the people" mattering most are America's wealthy, powerful and privileged. They're indifferent to popular needs. Their policies ignore them entirely.
America more than any country in history reflects how power corrupts, and absolute power does so absolutely.
It's been this way from inception. It's worse than ever now. America's first chief Supreme Court justice John Jay said the nation should be run by people who own it.
John Adams called them "the rich, well-born and (most) able." Today they're powerful monied interests. What they say goes. Wars are waged to serve them.
North Korea (1950 - 1953).
Southeast Asia (1953 - 1975).
Occupation Power Pack against the Dominican Republic (1965 and 1966).
Grenada (1983).
Libya in 1986. Reagan's regime change plan to kill Gaddafi. Dozens died. Many more were wounded. They included Gaddafi's two young sons. His infant daughter perished. He survived.
Panama (1989 - 1990). Manuel Noriega wasn't convenient US stooge enough. He forgot who's boss. Imprisonment in America, France and Panama followed.
The Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield - January 17, 1991 - February 28). 
When it ended, GHW Bush trumpeted: "By God, we've licked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all." 
He ignored how Washington destroyed the cradle of civilization. A generation later, things are worse than ever.
Operation Restore Hope in Somalia (1992 - 1994). Endless war still rages. Wherever America shows up, mass slaughter and destruction follow.
Balkan Wars throughout the 1990s. The former Yugoslav republic was balkanized. Seven countries replaced one. 
Free market harshness replaced Yugoslavia's market socialism.
From March 24 - June 10, 1999, US-led NATO raped Yugoslavia. Enormous human suffering followed.
Haiti's sorrows are endless. Over 500 years of human misery. Washington runs things ruthlessly. Disaster capitalism rules. Convenient stooge governance does America's bidding.
Afghanistan since October 2001. Conflict shows no signs of ending. Washington plans permanent occupation. Expect years more conflict to follow.
Iraq War II. Beginning in March 2003. Endless war. Followed by Obama's bombs away war. More on it below.
New millennium Yemeni wars. Washington's dirty hands are involved. Its strategic location matters. Near the Horn of Africa.
On Saudi Arabia's southern border, the Red Sea, its key chokepoint Bab-el-Mandreb strait, and Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.
Libya (2011). US-led NATO aggression transformed Africa's most developed nation into dystopian harshness.
Obama's ongoing Iraq War. It has nothing to do with degrading and eliminating IS. Or humanitarian intervention. Or responsibility to protect. Or national security threats. 
It has everything to do with advancing America's imperium, enriching war profiteers, and serving other US monied interests.
Obama's war on Syria (2014). Other articles explained. IS is the pretext. Syria is the target. Regime change is the objective.
IS and other extremist groups are Washington's shock troops. Their foot soldiers. Their boots on the ground. Will US forces follow?
On September 25, Iraq News.com headlined "URGENT: 13,000 American troops to deploy to Speicher Base in Tikrit, Iraq," saying:
Saladin Provincial Council Vice President Jassim Mohammed Hassan al-Attiyah said "dozens of American military advisers are at Speicher Base…"
Within days, around "13,000 (US) soldiers" will join them. Speicher was chosen "because it is the largest military bases in Iraq,"
US forces will be involved in "liberati(ing) Saladin province. This development comes a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (told) Obama about Iraq’s refusal to accept foreign military ground forces on its territory."
Washington already has around 1,600 special forces involved. US officials claim they're advisors.
They're trained killers. Their role is combat and related activities. Obama said he intends no ground war in Iraq.
He says one thing. He intends another most often. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. His policies show he can't be trusted. 
His addresses prove he's a laughing stock. His demagogic UN one was beginning-to-end Big Lies. He came selling war. He bashed Russia irresponsibly.
Paul Craig Roberts said it was "the most absurd thing (he) heard in (his) entire life."
Every General Assembly member knew he repeated one Big Lie after another. "It's amazing (they) did not get up and walk out" in disgust, said Roberts.
Obama disgraces the office he holds. He's a war criminal multiple times over. His rap sheet overflows.
He adds new crimes to it regularly. The only policies he knows is enriching corporate crooks, imposing police state ruthlessness, and bombs away.
America's unmatched skill is inflicting mass slaughter and destruction. Raping and pillaging one country after another. 
Immiserating millions. Exploiting them ruthlessly. Turning ordinary workers into serfs.
Force-feeding disaster capitalism. Doing so explodes the myth of free market democracy.
America is the world's leading exponent of neoliberal harshness. It invents security threats. It encourages terror attacks. It commits the worst kind itself. 
It manipulates economic meltdowns. It takes advantage of natural disasters.
It imposes its will ruthlessly. It wages wars for profit and dominance. Permanent wars. Endless ones. 
One after another. Social services are eliminated to do so. Fundamental freedoms are sacrificed. They erode in plain sight.
Americans are too distracted, cowed, scared or indifferent to object. The worst of free market triumphalism is official US policy. It's everywhere.
Milton Friedman said crises produce change. Former White House chief of staff/unindicted war criminal/current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said:
"You never want serious crises to go to waste. (They) provide opportunities to do things you could not do before."
He meant wars of aggression, force-fed neoliberal harshness, imposing police state laws, and cracking down hard on nonbelievers.
Obama's wars continue. He plans attacking other countries. He has lots more death and destruction in mind.
He wants all sovereign independent countries eliminated. He wants US-controlled vassal states replacing them.
Permanent war on humanity is official US policy. It bears repeating what other articles stressed.
World peace hangs in the balance. It remains to be seen what follows.
A Final Comment
There he goes again. His September 27 weekly address featured beginning-to-end Big Lies.
"American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world," he said.
"America is leading the world in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL." 
"On Monday, our brave men and women in uniform began air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. And they weren't alone."
Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Jordan provided fig-leaf cover. Syria is Obama's war. Proxy war until August. Direct intervention now.
To oust Assad. Using ISIL/ISIS/IL as shock troops to do it. Obama didn't explain.
Irresponsible Russia bashing persists. It's official US policy. "America is leading the effort to rally the world against Russian aggression in Ukraine," Obama said. 
"Along with our allies, we will support the people of Ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy." 
Ukrainian democracy is pure fantasy. US-installed fascist putschists run things. Ruthlessness is official policy. 
So is war without mercy on its own citizens. With Obama's support and encouragement. Don't expect him to explain. Egregious Big Lies substitute.
How do you know when he's lying? When he opens his mouth and speaks. When you compare what he says to ongoing policies.
When you match them against deceptive rhetoric. Truth is polar opposite what he says. He shocks the public conscience when he speaks. 
When he acts. When he consistently betrays the public trust. When he does so disgracefully. Irresponsibly. Unaccountably.
He ludicrously said "people of the world look to us to lead." America makes more enemies than friends. Hegemons are hated, not loved.
Not according to Obama. "We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom," he claimed. 
Throughout his tenure, he waged war to destroy it altogether. Expect worse ahead than ever. Expect war on humanity continued.
Expect ruthless police state harshness. Expect full-blown tyranny if not stopped.
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. 

Britain: Washington's Convenient Pawn

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 27/09/2014 - 23:24
Britain: Washington's Convenient Pawn
by Stephen Lendman
Brits are at it again. "Cameron plays Tony Blair," said Patrick Cockburn. His "government has no more idea of what it is getting into…than Blair…in 2003."
It's mindless. It sucks up to Washington shamelessly. It's a convenient pawn. 
It's an imperial tool. It partners with American adventurism. It does so lawlessly.
Its post-9/11 US war alliances proved disastrous. Repeating failure defines insanity: Continuing failed policies. Expecting different results.
Tories, New Labour and Lib Dems voted overwhelmingly to partner with Obama's war on Iraq. They approved a lawless imperial motion 523 to 43. Another 69 MPs abstained.
They "recognize(d) the (so-called) clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq (under extreme US pressure) for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support."
It includes "UK airstrikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces' efforts against ISIL in Iraq."
It supposedly excludes "airstrikes in Syria as part of this campaign, and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament."
Expect mission creep. It's coming. Cameron lied claiming "no legal barrier" to bombing Syria. 
Islamic State fighters aren't targeted. Or their ability to wage war.
Claiming otherwise is false. It bears repeating what other articles stressed. IS is the pretext. Syria is the target. Regime change is the objective.
Obama's objective ousting Assad. Replace him with a convenient US stooge. A supportive government. Replicating subservient Afghan, Iraqi and Libyan ones.
On Friday, London's Guardian said UK bombing was imminent. It could start any time. Perhaps before announcing it. Six Tornado warplanes are ready to go.
Parliamentary authorization was rubber-stamp. Guardian editors expect no better results this time than earlier. "Few policies of this kind survive undented once" they're implemented, they said.
This time won't be different. Expect mission creep. Expect permanent war. Britain already has so-called "advisors" in Iraq. MPs approved sending more. 
Cabinet ministers said terrorists can only be defeated by attacking them inside Syria. Expect expanded war. 
Iran's turn awaits. So does Lebanon's. Replicating what Israel did to Gaza is planned. 
Turning nations to rubble. Murdering hundreds of thousands of people. Mostly civilians. Targeting them willfully. 
Committing horrendous genocidal high crimes against peace. Calling war without mercy liberation. 
Getting most people to believe Big Lies. Mindless of Washington's imperial objectives. Its plan to redraw the region's map. 
Divide, conquer, colonize, plunder, exploit and control. Create instability, chaos, and dystopian harshness. It's longstanding US policy.
Advancing America's imperium matters most. So does supporting powerful monied interests.
George Galloway is one of Parliament's few profiles in courage. He was outnumbered, outgunned and ignored. He was up against hundreds of hawkish MPs.
"What a tangled web we have woven is abundantly clear," he said. "The mission creep hasn't even waited for the end of the debate."
Is Syria next, he asked? "There is consensus here there will be boots on the ground. The only question is who's boots are they?"
"This debate has been characterized by members of Parliament moving around imaginary armies. The Free Syrian Army is a fiction."
"ISIL itself is an imaginary army…They don't have any bases" to bomb. "ISIL is a (US created) death cult. It's a gang of terrorist murderers."
"It's not an army. And it's certainly not (one) that will be destroyed by aerial bombardments."
"We've been bombing Iraqis for 100 years…We dropped the first chemical bombs on them in the 1920s."
"We helped the Ba'ath party into power. We bombed them again throughout the 90s."
"Every matter will be made worse" now, Galloway stressed. "Extremism will spread further and deeper around the world just like it did after (Bush/Blair's) Iraq war."
"The last people who should be returning to the scene of their former crimes are Britain, France and the United States of America."
Cameron warned against "rushing to join a conflict without a clear plan." Cockburn quoted boxer Mike Tyson saying "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
Cameron lied claiming lessons learned from past failures won't be repeated. Uncontrollable chaos is ignored. So is guaranteed failure.
Activist Larry Pinkney was this writer's September 25 Progressive Radio News Hour guest. He said history doesn't repeat. 
People repeat history. They compound past mistakes with new ones. They make bad situations worse.
Mission creep follows interventions. One quagmire follows others. Billions of dollars are spent waging wars. Vital homeland needs go begging.
"John Kerry's rhetoric on ISIS insults our intelligence," said Robert Fisk. He ignores reality. He substitutes fantasy for facts.
His "attempts to explain America's crusade against its latest evil enemy are so awful, they are addictive."
His lame explanation reflects "sheer infantilisme (infantalism)," said Fisk. "(T)he French word captures it best."
Fisk dared readers to wade through Kerry's "claptrap (below) without a snort of disbelief." 
It's painful reading. Kerry finds new ways to embarrass himself. 
To disgrace the office he holds. To display his incompetence. His sheer arrogance. His lawlessness.
In testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee members, he said "I want to make sure that by the time we're done here today, I've heard from you."
"I know what you're thinking, and you've heard from me and you know what we're thinking, what the administration is thinking, and that you have a clear understanding of what it is that we have done so far, of how we see this and how, hopefully, we can come to see it together, what we're doing now and of where we go next." 
"It was all very complex, (and will) be remembered for a very long time."
Kerry represents Obama's fantasy world, said Fisk. He does so in a "clod-hopping, schoolboy way…"
Anyone familiar with Syria knows so-called anti-Assad "moderate" elements don't exist.
The Free Syrian Army is more fantasy than real. Syrian soldiers say they're happy to fight FSA elements because they always run away.
In contrast, Islamic State/Nusra Front/Al Qaeda et al extremists "fight to the death," said Fisk.
"Kerry is an ornate chateau of his own imagination," Fisk stressed. So is Cameron. Both officials reflect false self-confidence, lawlessness, might over right, and contempt for humanity.
Big Lies dot their rhetoric. Cameron prepared a laundry list. It includes four measures.
He lied claiming intervening in Iraq again will avoid past failures. They're "ragbag" notions, said Cockburn.
They're "high on (false) moral tone." They're "short on specificity." They're warmed over Blair failures. They blame others for Western crimes.
They commit Britain to war without end. They ignore resolving conflicts diplomatically. They assure mission creep, quagmire and failure. 
They guarantee enormous human suffering. Civilians suffer most in all wars. Hundreds of thousands may perish before current Middle East conflicts end. Maybe millions.
This time won't be different. Don't expect Cameron to explain. Or Obama. Or Kerry. Or others supporting America's killing machine.
On September 24, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed Security Council members. He did so regarding terrorism threatening international peace and security, saying:
It's "been growing stronger ideologically and financially and expanding through a connection with transnational organized crime, support from the drug business, seized oil deposits and extremist ideas, including ideas on religious and ethnic grounds." 
It's "becoming an indivisible part of regional conflicts." IS and likeminded groups infest Middle East countries.
They threaten "the future of whole nations, as evidenced by the examples of Iraq, Libya and Syria. The next targets are Lebanon, Yemen, Mali and the Central African Republic."
Russia "consistently advocate(s) closer international cooperation" against them. Washington's regional interventions assure worse than ever ahead.
Russia "propose(d) convening a representative UN-sponsored forum of all countries in the region, the African Union, the Arab League, the permanent UN Security Council members and other concerned parties."
Agenda issues should include older conflicts," said Lavrov. Key is resolving Israel's longstanding war on Palestine responsibly.
Failure to do so "is one of the main reasons why terrorists continue to receive 'moral support' and recruit new members," Lavrov stressed.
Russia urges examining "the deep roots of regional problems rather than deal(ing) only with their symptoms." 
"We are willing to cooperate on an equal basis, starting with an honest cooperative analysis to identify the reasons behind the problems and to find a way out of this chaos."
Washington consistently blocks diplomatic conflict resolution efforts. Doing so advances its imperial objectives.
They require inventing enemies when none exist. Permanent wars. Ones without mercy. Mass slaughter and destruction.
Turning nations into rubble. Instability. Insecurity. Chaos. Mayhem. Devastation. Unconscionable human misery.
US-led Western crusaders are at it again. Millions of lost lives don't matter. Twisted logic gets most Americans to support what's vital to stop.
Washington supports some of the world's most ruthless despots. It wages war on independent nations. Against any opposing its agenda.
Iraq's Al-Malaki wasn't convenient stooge enough. His refusal to join Obama's war on Syria alone sealed his fate. 
His ties to Iran. Other policies he pursued opposite America's regional agenda. He had to go. Fuad Masum replaced him.
He's Washington's man in Baghdad. He'll remain so as long as he remembers who's boss. The same goes for other regional leaders.
They're some of the world's most ruthless regimes. Saudi Arabia is Exhibit A. James Petras calls it "a repugnant kingdom…"
It "routinely decapitates its prisoners in public without any judicial process" whatever. Torture is official policy. 
So is ruthlessness writ large. Atrocities are commonplace. Corporal punishment is longstanding policy. Whipping police flog anyone outside during prayer times.
IS decapitations pale in comparison to Saudi ones. In August alone, "Riyadh beheaded fourteen prisoners," said Petras. 
"Since the beginning of the year, the Saudi monarchy has decapitated more than 46 prisoners and chopped off the arms and limbs of many more."  
During Obama and Kerry’s recent Riyadh visit, "horrendous decapitations were displayed in public."
Media scoundrels ignore KIngdom atrocities. Washington's regional agenda alone matters. Bombing Syria conceals its real objectives.
Hype substitutes for reality. IS, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and likeminded groups are America's shock troops against Assad.
Bombing began Monday night local time. It continues intensely daily. Targets include vital Syrian infrastructure, its northern oil fields, and empty buildings.
CNN said IS fighters may have been tipped off days in advance. They evacuated buildings they occupied. 
They dispersed. They're largely unscathed. Washington planned it this way. Expect nothing different going forward. 
Official reports feature Big Lies. Media Scoundrels repeat them. Their information is polar opposite truth.
World leaders know what's going on. So can anyone taking the trouble to find out.
Britain joined Washington's crusade. So did Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. 
So far they're confining their belligerence to Iraq. London and Paris don't rule out attacking Syria. 
On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said Obama may establish a no-fly zone over Northeastern Syria.
To protect civilians from Syrian airstrikes, they said. Security Council authorization is required. It's not forthcoming. Russia and China will block it.
It doesn't matter. Washington operates lawlessly. Its bombing campaign aims to oust Assad. 
Expect Britain, France and other NATO allies to join its crusade. Expect war winds to reach gale force. 
Rogue states operate this way. State terrorism is official US policy. So is war on humanity. World peace hangs by a thread.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF Wins Release of Warner Bros. Documents On Robo-Takedown System

eff.org - Sat, 27/09/2014 - 07:47

A federal judge in Florida ruled Thursday that Warner Brothers Entertainment must release key information about its automated scheme to send copyright infringement notices to websites. The documents will give the public a better look into robo-takedowns and their potential for abuse as Congress considers changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The ruling comes in response to EFF’s request to release records from the Disney v. Hotfile lawsuit, in which several movie studios accused the cyberlocker site Hotfile of copyright infringement based on Hotfile users’ sharing of movie files.

Hotfile countersued Warner for abusing the DMCA’s takedown procedure, which allows copyright holders to have user-posted material taken down from many sites based only on an accusation of copyright infringement. Hotfile accused Warner of repeatedly sending notices about material that was not Warner’s, including files that shared common words like “box” and “fringe” with the titles of Warner films, and even copies of a software program called JDownloader that Warner had no rights in but didn’t want the public to have.

A judge found that Warner might be liable under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which prohibits sending takedowns without having a basis for believing the content is actually infringing a copyright owned by the person initiating the takedown. The judge ruled that Hotfile had presented enough evidence of abuse that a jury could decide the issue. But before the case could be heard by a jury, the parties settled, and Hotfile shut down. So there was evidence that Warner may have crossed the line, but the details have been held under seal, inaccessible to the public. In February, EFF asked the court to release the sealed records that explain the court’s decision, including aspects of Warner’s robo-takedown system that Hotfile had challenged.

At an oral hearing in the Miami federal courthouse on Thursday, attorney Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik argued for EFF. Noting that court records are normally supposed to be open to the public, Judge Kathleen Williams ordered Warner to release certain information within ten days of Thursday’s ruling, and to propose a schedule for releasing the rest.

This ruling couldn’t come at a better time for the public.  Throughout the year the Patent and Trademark Office has conducted a series of public events on the DMCA’s takedown process, and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has held a hearing.  More information about how the DMCA process has been abused – particularly through automated takedown systems with inadequate human review – will help us improve it, and hold people responsible when they use this powerful tool of censorship abusively or without caution. The sealed documents from the Hotfile case will help.  We’re pleased that Judge Williams preserved the public’s right to open court proceedings here, and we are looking forward to a close analysis of the Warner documents when they are released.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCAFixing Copyright? The 2013-2014 Copyright Review ProcessRelated Cases: Disney v. Hotfile
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Categories: Aggregated News

Nine Epic Failures of Regulating Cryptography

eff.org - Sat, 27/09/2014 - 07:40

Update 9/26/14: Recently Apple has announced that it is providing basic encryption on mobile devices that they cannot bypass, even in response to a request from law enforcement. Google has promised to take similar steps in the near future. Predictably, law enforcement has responded with howls of alarm.

We've seen this movie before. Below is a slightly adapted blog post from one we posted in 2010, the last time the FBI was seriously hinting that it was going to try to mandate that all communications systems be easily wiretappable by mandating "back doors" into any encryption systems. We marshaled eight "epic failures" of regulating crypto at that time, all of which are still salient today. And in honor of the current debate, we've added a ninth.

They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text. - FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni, September 27, 2010

[W]e're in favor of strong encryption, robust encryption. The country needs it, industry needs it. We just want to make sure we have a trap door and key under some judge's authority where we can get there if somebody is planning a crime. - FBI Director Louis Freeh, May 11, 1995

If the government howls of protest at the idea that people will be using encryption sound familiar, it's because regulating and controlling consumer use of encryption was a monstrous proposal officially declared dead in 2001 after threatening Americans' privacy, free speech rights, and innovation for nearly a decade. But like a zombie, it's now rising from the grave, bringing the same disastrous flaws with it.

For those who weren't following digital civil liberties issues in 1995, or for those who have forgotten, here's a refresher list of why forcing companies to break their own privacy and security measures by installing a back door was a bad idea 15 years ago:

  1. It will create security risks. Don't take our word for it. Computer security expert Steven Bellovin has explained some of the problems. First, it's hard to secure communications properly even between two parties. Cryptography with a back door adds a third party, requiring a more complex protocol, and as Bellovin puts it: "Many previous attempts to add such features have resulted in new, easily exploited security flaws rather than better law enforcement access."It doesn't end there. Bellovin notes:

    Complexity in the protocols isn't the only problem; protocols require computer programs to implement them, and more complex code generally creates more exploitable bugs. In the most notorious incident of this type, a cell phone switch in Greece was hacked by an unknown party. The so-called 'lawful intercept' mechanisms in the switch — that is, the features designed to permit the police to wiretap calls easily — was abused by the attacker to monitor at least a hundred cell phones, up to and including the prime minister's. This attack would not have been possible if the vendor hadn't written the lawful intercept code.

    More recently, as security researcher Susan Landau explains, "an IBM researcher found that a Cisco wiretapping architecture designed to accommodate law-enforcement requirements — a system already in use by major carriers — had numerous security holes in its design. This would have made it easy to break into the communications network and surreptitiously wiretap private communications."

    The same is true for Google, which had its "compliance" technologies hacked by China.

    This isn't just a problem for you and me and millions of companies that need secure communications. What will the government itself use for secure communications? The FBI and other government agencies currently use many commercial products — the same ones they want to force to have a back door. How will the FBI stop people from un-backdooring their deployments? Or does the government plan to stop using commercial communications technologies altogether?

  2. It won't stop the bad guys. Users who want strong encryption will be able to get it — from Germany, Finland, Israel, and many other places in the world where it's offered for sale and for free. In 1996, the National Research Council did a study called "Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society," nicknamed CRISIS. Here's what they said:

    Products using unescrowed encryption are in use today by millions of users, and such products are available from many difficult-to-censor Internet sites abroad. Users could pre-encrypt their data, using whatever means were available, before their data were accepted by an escrowed encryption device or system. Users could store their data on remote computers, accessible through the click of a mouse but otherwise unknown to anyone but the data owner, such practices could occur quite legally even with a ban on the use of unescrowed encryption. Knowledge of strong encryption techniques is available from official U.S. government publications and other sources worldwide, and experts understanding how to use such knowledge might well be in high demand from criminal elements. — CRISIS Report at 303

    None of that has changed. And of course, more encryption technology is more readily available today than it was in 1996. So unless the goverment wants to mandate that you are forbidden to run anything that is not U.S. government approved on your devices,  they won't stop bad guys from getting  access to strong encryption.

  3. It will harm innovation. In order to ensure that no "untappable" technology exists, we'll likely see a technology mandate and a draconian regulatory framework. The implications of this for America's leadership in innovation are dire. Could Mark Zuckerberg have built Facebook in his dorm room if he'd had to build in surveillance capabilities before launch in order to avoid government fines? Would Skype have ever happened if it had been forced to include an artificial bottleneck to allow government easy access to all of your peer-to-peer communications?This has especially serious implications for the open source community and small innovators. Some open source developers have already taken a stand against building back doors into software.
  4. It will harm US business. If, thanks to this proposal, US businesses cannot innovate and cannot offer truly secure products, we're just handing business over to foreign companies who don't have such limitations. Nokia, Siemens, and Ericsson would all be happy to take a heaping share of the communications technology business from US companies. And it's not just telecom carriers and VOIP providers at risk. Many game consoles that people can use to play over the Internet, such as the Xbox, allow gamers to chat with each other while they play. They'd have to be tappable, too.
  5. It will cost consumers. Any additional mandates on service providers will require them to spend millions of dollars making their technologies compliant with the new rules. And there's no real question about who will foot the bill: the providers will pass those costs onto their customers. (And of course, if the government were to pay for it, they would be using taxpayer dollars.)
  6. It will be unconstitutional.. Of course, we wouldn't be EFF if we didn't point out the myriad constitutional problems. The details of how a cryptography regulation or mandate will be unconstitutional may vary, but there are serious problems with nearly every iteration of a "no encryption allowed" proposal that we've seen so far. Some likely problems:
    • The First Amendment would likely be violated by a ban on all fully encrypted speech.
    • The First Amendment would likely not allow a ban of any software that can allow untappable secrecy. Software is speech, after all, and this is one of the key ways we defeated this bad idea last time.
    • The Fourth Amendment would not allow requiring disclosure of a key to the backdoor into our houses so the government can read our "papers" in advance of a showing of probable cause, and our digital communications shouldn't be treated any differently.
    • The Fifth Amendment would be implicated by required disclosure of a private papers and the forced utterance of incriminating testimony.
    • Right to privacy. Both the right to be left alone and informational privacy rights would be implicated.
  7. It will be a huge outlay of tax dollars. As noted below, wiretapping is still a relatively rare tool of government (at least for the FBI in domestic investigations -- the NSA is another matter as we now all know). Yet the extra tax dollars needed to create a huge regulatory infrastructure staffed with government bureaucrats who can enforce the mandates will be very high. So, the taxpayers would end up paying for more expensive technology, higher taxes, and lost privacy, all for the relatively rare chance that motivated criminals will act "in the clear" by not using encryption readily available from a German or Israeli company or for free online.
  8. The government hasn't shown that encryption is a problem. How many investigations have been thwarted or significantly harmed by encryption that could not be broken? In 2009, the government reported only one instance of encryption that they needed to break out of 2,376 court-approved wiretaps, and it ultimately didn't prevent investigators from obtaining the communications they were after.This truth was made manifest in a recent Washington Post article written by an ex-FBI agent. While he came up with a scary kidnapping story to start his screed, device encryption simply had nothing to do with the investigation.  The case involved an ordinary wiretap. In 2010, the New York Times reported that the government officials pushing for this have only come up with a few examples (and it's not clear that all of the examples actually involve encryption) and no real facts that would allow independent investigation or confirmation. More examples will undoubtedly surface in the FBI's PR campaign, but we'll be watching closely to see if underneath all the scary hype there's actually a real problem demanding this expensive, intrusive solution.
  9. Mobile devices are just catching up with laptops and other devices.  Disk encryption just isn't that new. Laptops and desktop computers have long had disk encryption features that the manufacturers have absolutely no way to unlock. Even for simple screen locks with a user password, the device maker or software developer doesn't automatically know your password or have a way to bypass it or unlock the screen remotely.Although many law enforcement folks don't really like disk encryption on laptops and have never really liked it, and we understand that some lobbied against it in private, we haven't typically heard them suggest in public that it was somehow improper for these vendors not to have a backdoor to their security measures.That makes us think that the difference here is really just that some law enforcement folks think that phones are just too popular and too useful to have strong security.  But strong security is something we all should have.  The idea that basic data security is just a niche product and that ordinary people don't deserve it is, frankly, insulting.  Ordinary people deserve security just as much as elite hackers, sophisticated criminals, cops and government agents, all of whom have ready access to locks for their data.  

The real issue with encryption may simply be that the FBI has to use more resources when they encounter it than when they don't. Indeed, Bellovin argues: "Time has also shown that the government has almost always managed to go around encryption." (One circumvention that's worked before: keyloggers.) But if the FBI's burden is the real issue here, then the words of the CRISIS Report are even truer today than they were in 1996:

It is true that the spread of encryption technologies will add to the burden of those in government who are charged with carrying out certain law enforcement and intelligence activities. But the many benefits to society of widespread commercial and private use of cryptography outweigh the disadvantages.

The mere fact that law enforcement's job may become a bit more difficult is not a sufficient reason for undermining the privacy and security of hundreds of millions of innocent people around the world who will be helped by mobile disk encryption.  Or as Chief Justice of John Roberts recently observed in another case rejecting law enforcement's broad demands for access to the information available on our mobile phones:   "Privacy comes at a cost."

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymityExport ControlsInnovationPrivacyCALEARelated Cases: Bernstein v. US Department of Justice
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Categories: Aggregated News

Holder Resigns

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 27/09/2014 - 06:17
Holder Resigns
by Stephen Lendman
He's leaving. His nightmarish reign ends. He won't be missed. He'll be remembered as one of America's most lawless attorneys general.
He waged war on fundamental civil liberties. Francis Boyle called him "a total disaster for the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Human Rights and the Rule of Law."
He expects his successor to be worse. Rogue states operate this way. Obama presides over a homeland police state apparatus. 
He governs lawlessly. Expect another partner in crime to be nominated. Expect no letup in core rule of law principles violations. 
Or war wagrd on fundamental freedoms. They're disappearing in plain sight. They're targeted for elimination altogether. Perhaps they'll die before Obama's tenure ends.
Maybe his new attorney general will get marching orders to eliminate remaining ones. Perhaps tyranny is one presidential diktat away.
Holder's departure won't change things. Expect worse ahead, not better. It's the American way. It's subservience to wealth, power and privilege.
It's letting popular needs go begging. Criminality at the highest public and private levels flourish. Unprecedented grand theft continues.
So does war on humanity. It rages at home and abroad. Washington's criminal class runs things. It's bipartisan. It's beholden to monied interests.
Corruption is deep-seated. It's unprecedented. Washington's complicity with corporate crooks gives it new meaning.
Justice Department officials support corrupt power. They defend what demands prosecution. 
Presidents bear full responsibility. Attorneys General share it. So do congressional members and courts to the highest level.
Holder is America's 82nd attorney general. He's the first African-American one. He's stepping down four months shy of six years in office.
On December 1, 2008, Obama nominated him. On February 3, 2009, he was sworn in.
He's a former US Attorney, Clinton Deputy Attorney General and Superior Court of the District of Columbia judge.
Earlier he was a Washington-based Covington & Burling litigation partner. Perhaps he'll return to cash in more than ever.
He was Obama's senior campaign legal advisor. He was one of a three-member vice-presidential selection committee.
Fast and Furious was a Phoenix-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) so-called "gun-walking" operation from 2009 to 2011.
Licensed Arizona gun dealers were encouraged to sell firearms to known criminals. The idea was to trace them cross-border to Mexican drug cartels.
It was part of a broader Project Gunrunner operation. At issue was halting the flow of weapons to known Mexican criminals.
No high-profile drug cartel figures were arrested. Crime scene guns tracked by ATF operatives were found on both sides of the border.
Gunwalking operations became public knowledge after US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's murder. Disgruntled ATF agents testified before Congress.
On June 12, 2012, Holder became America's first sitting cabinet member held in contempt by Congress. 
Its members should have impeached him while they had a chance. Then prosecuted him for malfeasance and dereliction of duty in office.
Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability and reform. Straightaway in office he broke every major pledge.
Holder served him as judge, prosecutor and executioner. He helped wage his phony war on terror. 
Another on government whistleblowers. One more on journalists exposing government activities Obama and Holder want kept secret.
Holder did so when challenging Washington wrongdoing is more urgent than ever. 
Press freedom was endangered on Holder's watch. He authorized lawless surveillance power. 
It includes warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking emails, Internet and cell phone use. 
It's to gather secret evidence for prosecutions. It's done lawlessly. It continues. Obama wants truth and full disclosure suppressed.
He wants whistleblowers silenced. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined. Holder was his man at DOJ. 
He conspired with him against fundamental freedoms. Gross injustice replaced it. Both men betrayed the public trust. 
On fabricated national security grounds, activists, political dissidents, anti-war protestors, Muslims, Latino immigrants, lawyers who defend them, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists were ruthlessly targeted.
Waging war on truth-telling is more aggressive than ever. Holder has much to answer for. 
He was involved with militarizing city and state police forces.Obama ludicrously called him another Ramsey Clark.
Law Professor Jonathan Turley called his tenure "one of the most damaging periods in our history with a comprehensive attack on various constitutional rights and principles from free speech to the free press to international law."
He "fought aggressively to expand the powers of the presidency and national security laws over countervailing individual rights and separation of powers principles." 
"Holder truly personifies an administration of unrivaled ambitions colliding with inescapable realities."
"(I)t didn't take long for (his) "Mr. Smith comes to Washington" story to become "all the king’s men."
Obama heads a Murder, Inc. administration. He can order anyone killed by drones, bullets, knives, slit throats or other means.
He targets anyone, anywhere for any reason or none at all. US citizens are vulnerable like foreign nationals. 
Core rule of law principles don't matter. Obama's policy circumvents them. He ignored UN Charter's Article 2(4), stating:
"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."
Anticipatory or preemptive self-defense against nations, groups, or individuals based on alleged threats is prohibited and lawless if undertaken.
It doesn't matter. Obama governs extrajudicially. He usurped diktat power. He authorized detaining anyone, anywhere in the world on his say alone. Without charges, trials, due process or judicial review.
He continues Bush's torture agenda. Holder blocked prosecutions. He did so despite international and constitutional law obligations to pursue them.
He ignored US law. Other times he twisted it for political purposes. For self-aggrandizement.
He used the long outdated 1917 Espionage Act against Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea (aka Bradley) Manning.
It's a WW I relic. It has no current relevance. It belongs in history's dustbin.
It was about interfering with military operations, supporting enemies, promoting insubordination in the ranks, or challenging military recruitment.
In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote the majority opinion, saying:
"(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable."
Snowden, Manning, Assange and others wrongfully charged committed no crimes. Whistleblower Protection Act provisions safeguard them. They're supposed to.
They protect federal employees reporting misconduct. Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against those who do so. 
Not according to Holder. He went after them vengefully. Vindictively. His DOJ was Stalinist. He justified the unjustifiable.
He supported Obama's right to attack other countries without Security Council or congressional authorization.
He enforced a litany of police state laws. He acted lawlessly. He did it shamelessly.
He refused to prosecute Wall Street crooks. He let major ones get away with the grandest of grand theft. 
A few faced slap-on-the wrist fines only. Not a single top executive did prison time. 
The worst of Street practices continue. Major banks and other financial institutions are free to operate lawlessly. 
To steal. To rig markets. To rip off customers. To profit handsomely from ill-gotten gains.
War profiteers thrived on Holder's watch. Trillions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse didn't matter. They still don't.
Public Citizen's Robert Weissman called his record "badly blemished by his nearly overwhelming failure to hold corporate criminals accountable" alone.
Interventionism is official US policy. So is unbridled power. The right to wage war on humanity. 
To ravage and destroy nations. To plunder their resources for profit. To exploit their people. 
To do so on the pretext of national security. To commit the highest of high crimes with impunity. Holder's OK was automatic. Rubber-stamp.
He defended entrapment. It occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed. It involves:
  • government officials or agents initiating the idea;

  • persuading individuals to act; and

  • doing so despite no previous intent or willingness.

Holder supported the practice. He did so publicly. He defended the indefensible. He lied saying:
Entrapment "is (an) essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks."
"I make no apologies for how FBI agents handle their work," he added. Doing it extrajudicially doesn't matter.
According to Holder, ends justify means. He wrongfully charged scores of Muslims lawlessly. 
Lynne Stewart was unjustifiably imprisoned on his watch. It was for defending the wrong client. One Washington wanted convicted. 
She spent 30 defending society's most unwanted. Its most vulnerable. She and her husband Ralph Poynter uncompromisingly defend human and civil rights.
On October 2 at 10:30AM EDT, they'll be Progressive Radio News Hour guests on the Progressive Radio Network. 
This writer hosts it. The program is archived for easy listening.
Throughout his tenure, Holder failed to find a single bona fide terrorist. It didn't matter. 
He charged innocent men and women lawlessly. He imprisoned them on bogus charges. He violated constitutional and US statute laws doing so. 
He gave rogue DOJ practices new meaning. He leaves office unapologetically. He won't be missed!
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 Wants Regime Change in Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 26/09/2014 - 20:38
Obama Wants Regime Change in Russia
by Stephen Lendman
Paul Wolfowitz said Washington's "first objective is prevent(ing) the re-emergence of (rival states), either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere."
Paul Craig Roberts defines rival as "any country (able to defend) its interests or those of its allies against Washington's hegemon(ic)" ambitions.
America demands unipolar/New World Order dominance. It demands all nations bow to its will, or else!
It targets independent ones for regime change. Either by coups, targeted assassinations or wars of aggression.
Obama pursues multiple regime change objectives. He's done so throughout his tenure. Paul Craig Roberts calls him "the world's worst terrorist."
He elevated state terrorism to an unprecedented level. He gave it new meaning. He has lots more mass slaughter and destruction in mind. 
He calls it "American leadership." Others call it genocidal high crimes against peace.
He's a loose cannon. A lawless thug. A serial killer. A serial liar. A moral coward. A rogue leader. 
A demagogic tyrant. A modern-day Caligula. A world-class menace. 
He targets independent leaders. They're not tolerated. He wants them ousted. Washington demands subservience. It wants US-friendly stooges serving its interests.
Syria is in the eye of the storm. Iran's turn awaits. Overthowing Ukraine's democratically elected government relates directly to targeting Moscow.
America want control over all former Soviet republics and Warsaw pact countries. It wants them incorporated into NATO. 
It wants US bases on Russia's borders. It wants the entire country surrounded. 
Doing so reneges on GHW Bush promising former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to encroach "one inch to the east." 
US pledges aren't worth the paper they're written on. Rogue states operate this way. America surpasses the worst in world history and then some.
It wants long-range multiple nuclear warhead missiles targeting Russia's heartland. It wants regime change. It wants Russia's lost decade under Boris Yeltsin restored.
He was Russia's first president. He served from July 1991 - December 31,1999. Nezavisimaia Gazeta's former editor-in-chief Vitalii Tret'iakov described his tenure, saying:
"(F)or the greater part of his presidency, (he) slept, drank, was ill, relaxed, didn't show his face before the people and simply did nothing."
"Despised by the majority of (Russians, he'll) go down in history as the first president of Russia…(He) corrupted (the country) to the breaking point…
It wasn't "by his virtues and or by his defects…(It) was by his dullness, primitiveness, and unbridled power lust of a hooligan."
Western governments loved him. So did media scoundrels. He was Washington's man in Moscow. 
He represented "free market" gangsterism writ large. His tenure was characterized by unprecedented levels corruption, public betrayal and human misery.
Another generation or more may be needed to recoup from the human wreckage he caused.
During his tenure, 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt. Around 70,000 state factories closed. 
Unemployment soared. It reached epidemic levels. Over half the population became impoverished. Deep poverty affected millions.
A permanent underclass was created. It included unprecedented criminality, suicides, mortality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS at intolerable levels.
US-instituted "shock therapy" produced economic genocide. GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. 
Democratic freedoms died. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth. It did so at the expense of millions harmed egregiously.
Yeltsin let essential human needs go begging. He trashed core human and civil rights. 
He let corruption and criminality flourish. One scandal followed others. Money-laundering became sport. Tens of billions of stolen wealth were hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens.
Yeltsin surrounded himself with like-minded apparachiks. He used his presidency for unchallenged political power. 
Closed-door decisions were commonplace. Implementation was without popular consent. Washington backed them. So did corporate America.
They did so to exploit former Soviet Republics' wealth, resources and people.
In August 1991, Yeltsin shelled Russia's parliament. He disbanded it. He killed hundreds.
He did so in a barrage of tank fire on Moscow streets. He imposed new constitutional authority. He governed by diktats.
He usurped unlimited powers. He stripped ones legislators had. Yeltsin-style democracy mocked the real thing.
His confrontations with parliament caused the October 1993 constitutional crisis. Members tried removing him from office. 
He hung on. He kept power. He did so until resigning on December 31, 1999. Putin replaced him. First as acting president. 
Then a 2000 - 2004 full term. Followed by a second until 2008. Another as Dmitry Medvedev's premier. Then a third presidential term since March 2012.
He's overwhelmingly popular. Polls show his support at well over 80%. Russians love him for good reason. They back his steadfastness against US imperial adventurism.
His support for Russian sovereignty. His unwillingness to surrender it. His commitment to preserve it.
It's not easy. He's America's main geopolitical enemy. Unrelenting bashing persists. Big Lies substitute for accurate reporting.
No world leader in modern memory endures more malicious unjustifiable slander. None handles it better.
It's outrageous over Ukraine. Washington pounds him mercilessly. So do media scoundrels.
"The entire world knows that Washington overthrew the elected Ukrainian government," Paul Craig Roberts explained.
It knows if Moscow was revanchist, it "would have kept Georgia and reincorporated it within Russia…" It would have done so after it lawlessly invaded South Ossetia.
Russia intervened responsibly. It did so to protect its own citizens. It did it after about 1,700 were ruthlessly murdered in cold blood.
Aggression isn't when America ravages and destroys other countries. It's shamelessly called liberation, humanitarian intervention, or responsibility to protect.
Aggression is when Russia acts responsibly. When it protects its own people in harm's way. 
When it supports near Crimean unanimity to return to Russia. When it delivers vitally needed humanitarian aid to Southeastern Ukraine.
When it goes all-out to resolve Ukraine's conflict responsibly. When it wants Obama's war on Syria resolved the same way. 
When it supports Palestinian rights. When it opposes might over right. When it wages peace, not war. 
When it's for multi-world polarity. When it's against US-led NATO aggression. When it's on the right side of history overall.
Don't expect New York Times journalism to explain. It shames the real thing. It's a wealth, power and privilege propaganda bullhorn. 
Managed news misinformation and opinion substitute for accurate reporting and analysis. It's been this way since its mid-19th century founding.
It's nicknamed "The Gray Lady." It's motto is "All the News That's Fit to Print." It's not fit to read.
Readers are systematically lied to. Vital information they need is buried. State/corporate propaganda substitutes.
In mid-September, The Times headlined "Putin Intent on Taking 'All of Ukraine,' Premier Says."
Coup installed prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has no legitimacy whatever. He lied claiming Putin wants "all of Ukraine."
"I clearly understand (his) final goal," he said. "He doesn't want to take just Donetsk and Lugansk. He is trying to take all of Ukraine. He wants to re-form the Soviet Union."
He wants a land bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea, Yatsenyuk claimed. He wants it expanded to Odessa and Moldova's Transnistria breakaway region.
He wants Ukraine cut off from Black Sea access, Yatsenyuk added. "We are still in a state of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation," he claimed.
NATO alone can stop him, he said. It's "the only vehicle (able) to protect Ukraine."
The Times features this type rubbish regularly. It's longstanding practice. So is double-standard hypocrisy.
Whatever America does is right. Whatever its invented adversaries do is wrong. US adventurism is OK. 
So is destroying nations to save them. Replacing sovereign independent governments with subservient US vassal ones.
Destroying democratic freedoms in the process. Extinguishing them altogether. Glorifying war in the name of peace.
Serving monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Wanting control over world markets, resources and cheap labor.
Wanting it at the expense of political, economic and social justice. America's lawlessness doesn't matter. Might over right is official policy. 
So is state terrorism. The divine right to kill, destroy, plunder and control. Propagandists call it American exceptionalism. Honest analysis calls it imperial lawlessness.
The Times is America's leading propaganda bullhorn. It systematically buries truth and full disclosure. Big Lies substitute.
Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor coup d'etat mob rule running Ukraine. Nor its illegitimacy. 
Nor anointed oligarch president Petro Poroshenko. He's Washington's man in Kiev. Nor his war without mercy against his own citizens.
Nor his lies about Russia invading Ukraine. Irresponsibly blaming Moscow for US-supported Kiev crimes.
Turning truth on its head about Russia supplying weapons to self-defense forces. Lying about it annexing Crimea. 
Ignoring near Crimean unanimity to return to Russia. Failing to explain international law permits it. Or that Putin acted responsibly.
Supporting illegitimate sanctions. Ignoring Washington's dirty hands running things. Doing so to advance its imperium.
Targeting Russia for regime change. Wanting it balkanized into mini-states for easieer control. Wanting a major rival eliminated.
Wanting its resources plundered. Wanting its people exploited. Wanting China isolated. It's turn awaits.
Sidney, Australia-based Lowy Institute for International Policy executive director Michael Fullilove likely spoke for many others saying:
"In 2014, the world has grown suddenly weary of Barack Obama." He's "aloof." His "approval ratings have tanked." Earlier support "curdled into disdain."
Obama's former counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin called the so-called Islamic State threat a "farce." Claiming it "spin(s) the public into a panic" irresponsibly.
At stake is what Middle East populations want. The so-called Arab street. People everywhere.
They want freedom to run their own lives. To determine their own futures. To choose their own leaders. Their own vision. To maintain their sovereign independence. 
Not what Washington demands. Not regime change when they're not met. Not imperial wars. Not mass slaughter and destruction that follow. 
Not repeating it over and over again. Not making world societies safe for monied interests. Not plundering them for profit.
Not making them unfit to live in. Not transforming them into dystopian wastelands. 
Not exploiting their people ruthlessly. Not lying about creating new democracies.
Or ludicrously claiming to free "hundreds of millions of human beings…from the prison of poverty," according to Obama.
Or strengthening economies America systematically rapes, destroys and plunders. Not extolling casino capitalism exploitation.
Not targeting nations for regime change. Not risking potential nuclear war with Russia. Certain armageddon to follow. 
Not pursuing madness in lieu of responsible governance. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
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. 

Eight Epic Failures of Regulating Cryptography

eff.org - Fri, 26/09/2014 - 17:00
They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text.
- FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni, September 27, 2010

[W]e're in favor of strong encryption, robust encryption. The country needs it, industry needs it. We just want to make sure we have a trap door and key under some judge's authority where we can get there if somebody is planning a crime.
- FBI Director Louis Freeh, May 11, 1995

As noted in late September, the FBI is on a charm offensive, seeking to ease its ability to spy on Americans by expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). Among other things, the government appears to be seriously discussing a new requirement that all communications systems be easily wiretappable by mandating "back doors" into any encryption systems.

(Encryption allows users to have private conversations and secure transactions, among other uses, on technologies from cell phones to web browsing to email. Learn more about encryption from EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense guide.)

If this sounds familiar, it's because regulating encryption was a monstrous proposal officially declared dead in 2001 after threatening Americans' privacy, free speech rights, and innovation for nearly a decade. But like a zombie, it's now rising from the grave, bringing the same disastrous flaws with it.

For those who weren't following digital civil liberties issues in 1995, or for those who have forgotten, here's a refresher list of why forcing companies to break their own privacy and security measures by installing a back door was a bad idea 15 years ago. We'll be posting more analysis when more details on the "new" proposal emerge, but this list is a start:

  1. It will create security risks. Don't take our word for it. Computer security expert Steven Bellovin has explained some of the problems. First, it's hard to secure communications properly even between two parties. Cryptography with a back door adds a third party, requiring a more complex protocol, and as Bellovin puts it: "Many previous attempts to add such features have resulted in new, easily exploited security flaws rather than better law enforcement access."

    It doesn't end there. Bellovin notes:

    Complexity in the protocols isn't the only problem; protocols require computer programs to implement them, and more complex code generally creates more exploitable bugs. In the most notorious incident of this type, a cell phone switch in Greece was hacked by an unknown party. The so-called 'lawful intercept' mechanisms in the switch — that is, the features designed to permit the police to wiretap calls easily — was abused by the attacker to monitor at least a hundred cell phones, up to and including the prime minister's. This attack would not have been possible if the vendor hadn't written the lawful intercept code.

    More recently, as security researcher Susan Landau explains, "an IBM researcher found that a Cisco wiretapping architecture designed to accommodate law-enforcement requirements — a system already in use by major carriers — had numerous security holes in its design. This would have made it easy to break into the communications network and surreptitiously wiretap private communications."

    The same is true for Google, which had its "compliance" technologies hacked by China.

    This isn't just a problem for you and me and millions of companies that need secure communications. What will the government itself use for secure communications? The FBI and other government agencies currently use many commercial products — the same ones they want to force to have a back door. How will the FBI stop people from un-backdooring their deployments? Or does the government plan to stop using commercial communications technologies altogether?

  2. It won't stop the bad guys. Users who want strong encryption will be able to get it — from Germany, Finland, Israel, and many other places in the world where it's offered for sale and for free. In 1996, the National Research Council did a study called "Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society," nicknamed CRISIS. Here's what they said:

    Products using unescrowed encryption are in use today by millions of users, and such products are available from many difficult-to-censor Internet sites abroad. Users could pre-encrypt their data, using whatever means were available, before their data were accepted by an escrowed encryption device or system. Users could store their data on remote computers, accessible through the click of a mouse but otherwise unknown to anyone but the data owner, such practices could occur quite legally even with a ban on the use of unescrowed encryption. Knowledge of strong encryption techniques is available from official U.S. government publications and other sources worldwide, and experts understanding how to use such knowledge might well be in high demand from criminal elements. — CRISIS Report at 303

    None of that has changed. And of course, more encryption technology is more readily available today than it was in 1996.

  3. It will harm innovation. In order to ensure that no "untappable" technology exists, we'll likely see a technology mandate and a draconian regulatory framework. The implications of this for America's leadership in innovation are dire. Could Mark Zuckerberg have built Facebook in his dorm room if he'd had to build in surveillance capabilities before launch in order to avoid government fines? Would Skype have ever happened if it had been forced to include an artificial bottleneck to allow government easy access to all of your peer-to-peer communications?

    This has especially serious implications for the open source community and small innovators. Some open source developers have already taken a stand against building back doors into software.

  4. It will harm US business. If, thanks to this proposal, US businesses cannot innovate and cannot offer truly secure products, we're just handing business over to foreign companies who don't have such limitations. Nokia, Siemens, and Ericsson would all be happy to take a heaping share of the communications technology business from US companies. And it's not just telecom carriers and VOIP providers at risk. Many game consoles that people can use to play over the Internet, such as the Xbox, allow gamers to chat with each other while they play. They'd have to be tappable, too.
  5. It will cost consumers. Any additional mandates on service providers will require them to spend millions of dollars making their technologies compliant with the new rules. And there's no real question about who will foot the bill: the providers will pass those costs onto their customers. (And of course, if the government were to pay for it, they would be using taxpayer dollars.)
  6. It will be unconstitutional.. Of course, we wouldn't be EFF if we didn't point out the myriad constitutional problems. The details of how a cryptography regulation or mandate will be unconstitutional may vary, but there are serious problems with nearly every iteration of a "no encryption allowed" proposal that we've seen so far. Some likely problems:
    • The First Amendment would likely be violated by a ban on all fully encrypted speech.
    • The First Amendment would likely not allow a ban of any software that can allow untappable secrecy. Software is speech, after all, and this is one of the key ways we defeated this bad idea last time.
    • The Fourth Amendment would not allow requiring disclosure of a key to the backdoor into our houses so the government can read our "papers" in advance of a showing of probable cause, and our digital communications shouldn't be treated any differently.
    • The Fifth Amendment would be implicated by required disclosure of a private papers and the forced utterance of incriminating testimony.
    • Right to privacy. Both the right to be left alone and informational privacy rights would be implicated.
  7. It will be a huge outlay of tax dollars. As noted below, wiretapping is still a relatively rare tool of government. Yet the tax dollars needed to create a huge regulatory infrastructure staffed with government bureaucrats who can enforce the mandates will be very high. So, the taxpayers would end up paying for more expensive technology, higher taxes, and lost privacy, all for the relatively rare chance that motivated criminals will act "in the clear" by not using encryption readily available from a German or Israeli company or for free online.
  8. The government hasn't shown that encryption is a problem. How many investigations have been thwarted or significantly harmed by encryption that could not be broken? In 2009, the government reported only one instance of encryption that they needed to break out of 2,376 court-approved wiretaps, and it ultimately didn't prevent investigators from obtaining the communications they were after.

    The New York Times reports that the government officials pushing for this have only come up with a few examples (and it's not clear that all of the examples actually involve encryption) and no real facts that would allow independent investigation or confirmation. More examples will undoubtedly surface in the FBI's PR campaign, but we'll be watching closely to see if underneath all the scary hype there's actually a real problem demanding this expensive, intrusive solution.

The real issue with encryption may simply be that the FBI has to use more resources when they encounter it than when they don't. Indeed, Bellovin argues: "Time has also shown that the government has almost always managed to go around encryption." (One circumvention that's worked before: keyloggers.) But if the FBI's burden is the real issue here, then the words of the CRISIS Report are even truer today than they were in 1996:

It is true that the spread of encryption technologies will add to the burden of those in government who are charged with carrying out certain law enforcement and intelligence activities. But the many benefits to society of widespread commercial and private use of cryptography outweigh the disadvantages.

Related Issues: Free SpeechAnonymityExport ControlsInnovationPrivacyCALEARelated Cases: Bernstein v. US Department of Justice
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