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UN Report on Israel's Summer 2014 Gaza War - Tue, 23/06/2015 - 02:44
UN Report on Israel's Summer 2014 Gaza War
by Stephen Lendman
The so-called UN Independent Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel's 2014 Gaza war had it both ways in its report instead of outright condemning what the whole world knows.
Operation Protective Edge (OPE) was cold, calculated Israeli naked aggression on 1.8 million near defenseless Gazans held hostage since 2006 by Israel's blockade - helpless fish in a barrel to mass murder at will.
OPE had nothing to do with Hamas rockets or bogus claims about it being a terrorist organization. It had everything to do with preventing Palestinian statehood and maintaining brutal, illegal military occupation, among other objectives.
Former New York Supreme Court justice Mary McGowan Davis headed the three-member COI after human rights law expert Professor William Schabas resigned under pressure. Israel's Geneva-based UN envoy, Eviator Manor, lied accusing him of a "blatant conflict of interest."
Schabas responded saying his "views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public. This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks."
"I believe that it is difficult for the work to continue while a procedure is underway to consider whether the chair of the commission should be removed."
It's unknown whether his presence as COI head would have made a difference. Its report  indicated "credible allegations of war crimes in 2014 by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups" when, in fact, Israel bore FULL responsibility for genocidal high crimes.
So-called "Palestinian armed groups" responded to Israeli aggression in self-defense as international law allows. COI didn't explain. At the same time, it was extremely critical of Israeli actions during 51 days of carnage.
"The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come," said Davis.Israeli aggression included "6,000 airstrikes…and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired," COI said.
The vast majority of casualties were defenseless civilians. "Hundreds…were killed in their homes, especially women and children," COI explained. Devastating air, ground and naval attacks "reduced buildings to piles of dust and rubble in seconds." 
"(G)raphic testimony" should shock everyone. A surviving Al Najjar family member said he "woke up…in the hospital, and I later learned that my sister, mother and my children had all died."
"We all died that day even those who survived." Dozens of entire families were ruthlessly slaughtered. All of Gaza was a free-fire zone. There were no safe havens - no place to hide.
"At least 142 families lost three or more members in an attack on a residential building during the summer of 2014, resulting in 742 deaths," said COI. 
"The fact that Israel did not revise its practice of air-strikes, even after their dire effects on civilians became apparent, raises the question of whether this was part of a broader policy which was at least tacitly approved at the highest level of government."
Deliberately targeting defenseless civilians is official Israeli policy. Women, children and infants are treated like combatants - murdered in cold blood.
COI expressed concern about "Israel's extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius." They indiscriminately kill civilians, especially in high-density populated areas.
Israeli ground forces killed "hundreds" of Palestinians and destroyed or damaged "thousands of homes." Ambulance call centers "received desperate appeals for help…(T)hey could hear young children screaming."
A Rafah witness said "(t)here was an explosion about every 10 seconds." Israel "disregard(s)" all rules whenever the safety of its soldiers are at stake.
Hostilities "caused immense distress and disruption to the lives of civilians in Israel," COI said - without explaining Israeli aggression bore FULL responsibility.
Hamas didn't attack Israel. Armed Palestinians responded solely to Israel aggression. COI didn't explain.
From June through August 2014, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli forces killed 27 Palestinians and injured over 3,000 others.
COI expressed concern about Israeli forces "us(ing) live ammunition for crowd control…which raises the likelihood of death or serious injury."
"Impunity prevails across the board for violations allegedly committed by Israeli forces, both in Gaza and the West Bank," COI added. There's nothing "alleged" about willfully committed Israeli war crimes.
"Israel must break with its lamentable track record in holding wrong doers accountable," COI said. It unjustifiably called Palestinian accountability "woefully inadequate."
COI expressed concern about whitewashed Israeli investigations into several incidents of deliberately murdering Palestinian civilians.
It explained its authorities "did not respond to repeated requests by the commission for information and direct access to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
COI members obtained "harrowing first hand testimon(ies)" by Skype, VTC, and telephone. It conducted face-to-face interviews with victims and witnesses from the West Bank during visits to Jordan - including with others who travelled to Geneva.
It conducted 280 interviews in total and got 500 written submissions. Its members "were deeply moved by the immense suffering and resilience of the victims." 
They expressed hope their report would "in some small way (contribute) to ending the cycle of violence." 
Not as long as world leaders able to make a difference let Israel repeatedly get away with mass murder and destruction.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

New York Times Big Lies - Mon, 22/06/2015 - 22:12
New York Times Big Lies
by Stephen Lendman
The Times is an establishment publication - a lying machine, a mouthpiece for powerful monied interests at the expense of popular ones.
Hard truths are suppressed. Managed news misinformation substitutes. Readers are systematically lied to on issues mattering most.
Times editors, correspondents and contributors aren't journalists. They're guardians of wealth, power and privilege. On January 22, two editorials willfully lied about Vladimir Putin and America's economy.
A previous article discussed Putin straight talk v. Obama double talk. It discussed what The Times and other media scoundrels never explain - the truth about Putin's forthrightness, his advocacy for peace and stability and support for mutual cooperation among all nations v. Obama's serial lying and war on humanity.
Not according to Times editors. Bashing Putin irresponsibly is longstanding practice - this time in part trying to denigrate the impressive St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) attended by a record 10,000 participants from around 120 countries, including numerous corporate CEOs and top government officials - defying US sanctions.
Over 200 contracts were signed with Russian companies worth $5.4 billion during the three-day event ending Saturday. Expect many more to follow.
The event was impressive, a smashing success. Times editors lied saying it "was not all that it seemed." They bashed Putin's straight talk about Ukraine, US-led Western responsibility for a new Cold War and other major geopolitical issues.
They outrageously called his forthrightness "mythology…fantasy." They insulted readers claiming he used "foreign executives as props" while "looking more desperate than confident that he will win the confrontation with the West."
Putin is a master chess player. His strategic thinking is longterm. He makes Obama look buffoon-like in comparison - a serial liar, moral coward, war criminal multiple times over, a disgrace to the office he holds.
A recent poll had Putin's approval rating at 88%. Russians admire his forthrightness. Obama struggles to hold 40%. Why anyone supports him they'll have to explain. 
He broke every major promise made. Putin is a man of his word - polar opposite Obama and other Western politicians.
The Times continues the Big Lie about Russia "annex(ing)" Crimea. Its residents near unanimously chose to join Russia by national referendum independently judged open, free and fair. 
Putin reversed a historic error by accommodating their wishes. He didn't invade Ukraine. No "Russian aggression" exists despite the Big Lie claiming otherwise - repeated ad nauseam by The Times and other Western media, instead of forthrightly telling it straight.
Times editors bashed Putin announcing 40 new ICBMs added to Russia's arsenal - able to carry multiple nuclear warheads.
They ignored Washington belligerently increasing its military presence close to Russia's borders. Its provocative Eastern European military exercises. Its plans to spend $1 trillion over the next three decades upgrading its nuclear arsenal.
It's considering using nuclear weapons against Russian targets on the phony pretext of its nonexistent Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) violations.
Russia deplores an arms race. Hostile US policies force it to respond defensively. No responsible leader would act otherwise. Not according to Times editors.
It bashed Putin saying his moves alarm his neighbors when their only threat is from Washington and other rogue NATO members.
Times editors ludicrously said so-called Putin "loose talk could undermine years of efforts intended to reduce nuclear tensions and the risk of war" - at a time Washington is hellbent on record military spending and deliberately threatening Russian security.
Saying "(t)he United States and Europe have largely been measured in their response to" crisis conditions is polar opposite truth. US-dominated NATO bears FULL responsibility for heading things recklessly toward possible war with Russia.
Lunatics in Washington make the unthinkable possible. Don't expect Times editors to explain. Instead they repeat the Big Lie about Russian troops and weapons in Ukraine. They blame Moscow and Donbass freedom fighters for Kiev junta high crimes.
They call Putin's all-out efforts for regional peace and stability "aggressive behavior." He's the only world leader trying to resolve Ukrainian aggression on Donbass diplomatically.
Obama wants war, not peace. So does Washington's installed Kiev puppet regime - a fascist dictatorship murdering its own people.
A second June 22 Times editorial discussed US economic growth. Its editors entirely ignored bipartisan policies benefitting America's super-rich at the expense of most others.
They said nothing about continued forced-fed austerity causing enormous harm to tens of millions during protracted Main Street Depression conditions - creating greater poverty, unemployment, underemployment and human misery than any time since the 1930s.
They're mindless about phony monthly jobs reports and other distorted government data concealing true economic conditions for most Americans.
No economic recovery exists, Paul Craig Roberts explains. "The only sign (suggesting it) is real GDP which shows up positive only because the deflator is understated," he says.
Measures needed to restore growth aren't taken. It requires ending support for financial interests and big investors at the expense of the overall economy.
It takes bringing back high-pay, good benefit jobs offshored to low-wage countries. It requires leadership serving all Americans equitably - not just its privileged few. Don't expect Times editors to  explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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's Response to Everything: Collective Punishment - Mon, 22/06/2015 - 19:19
Israel's Response to Everything: Collective Punishment
by Stephen Lendman
International law is clear. Fourth Geneva's Article 33 states: 
"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
It doesn't matter. Israel systematically ignores all international human rights, humanitarian and other laws it objects to - as well as dozens of earlier Security Council Resolutions condemning or censuring its actions and demanding they end, none in recent years because of US vetoes.
It attacks entire Palestinian communities because of alleged crimes committed by one or more residents. It wages wars based on phony pretexts. It commits numerous other high crimes against humanity because it knows who'll stop its abusive practices.
A previous article discussed a Palestinian critically stabbing an Israeli border policeman and a second incident involving the killing of an Israeli man (assailant unknown) - offenses likely committed out of pent up frustration and desire for retribution, not terrorism as Israel calls all these type incidents.
Instead of acting against guilty parties alone according to legal standards responsible societies observe, Israel imposes collective punishment against Palestinian communities or the entire population.
In the case of the Israeli killed in the West Bank, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (a racist lunatic) intends stealing Palestinian land where the incident occurred for a tourist destination excluding Arabs.
Israel's Civil Administration regularly classifies private Palestinian lands as "nature reserves" for exclusive Jewish or foreign tourists' use.
In April, a PLO statement said "Israeli measures and policies rise to an effective and de facto annexation of the tourism sector."
"Israel’s occupation has turned a potential source of income and shared opportunity into a story of theft and lost potential."
In response to the border policeman stabbing incident, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered work permits issued to residents of the assailant's Sa'ir village revoked - collective punishment for an entire community for an offense by one of its residents.
There's more. Travel permits to fly abroad through Ben Gurion Airport were revoked for 500 Palestinians. Further punitive measures are planned - so far not announced.
On the occasion of Ramadan, Israel announced movement easing measures days earlier. They include:
  • permitting Palestinian buses to bring West Bank worshipers into Israel for the first time in at least a decade;

  • letting Palestinian men over age 40 and women of all ages enter the Temple Mount without permit permission; and

  • letting a maximum 100,000 Palestinians enter Israel for family visits.

Whether Israel intends revoking these measures remains to be seen.
Hamas praised the border policeman attack without admitting responsibility. It's Facebook page posted two photos of the assailant, Yasser Yassin Tarwa - critically shot multiple times by the policeman before he collapsed.
Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran called the attack "heroic" - timed to coincide with the first anniversary of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir's murder by extremist Jewish settlers.
"The operation sends a message of resistance to the occupation whereby resisting youth are able to defy the occupation and reach its soldiers even where (policemen) gather," he said.
These type incidents follow vicious daily Israeli persecution. Last weekend alone, its soldiers kidnapped seven Palestinians - two in East Jerusalem, two in Nablus a woman in Hebron and two children in its Old City. 
They shot a child near Ramallah. Extremist settlers ran over two Palestinian children with their vehicles in separate incidents - a three-year-old and 10-year-old. Security force thugs attacked nonviolent Nabi Saleh village Palestinians protesting settlements on their stolen land and Israel's apartheid wall.
At the same time, political prisoner Khader Adnan continued hunger striking for justice into his 48th day - ingesting nothing but water and salt.
He's hospitalized, in serious condition, enduring "severe pains all over his body with blue spots on his shoulder and clear speaking problems," according to Palestinian Prisoner's Society legal unit head Jawad Bolous.
On July 8, 2014, he was sentenced unjustly to administrative detention uncharged and untried for the 10th time.
Intolerable Israeli viciousness at times sparks violent Palestinian responses. Or in the case of Adnan and others like him, resisting injustice the only way they can - heroically by refusing food, enduring pain and suffering, even risking death.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Putting Charleston Killings in Context - Mon, 22/06/2015 - 04:54
Putting Charleston Killings in Context
by Stephen Lendman
US cities and towns are battlegrounds. Around 100,000 Americans are gun violence victims annually. In Chicago alone where this writer lives, gun-related deaths exceed one a day. On warm summer weekends, it can be a dozen or more.
Few incidents make headlines. Whenever they do, media reports focus on gunmen, not the context - not the nation's culture fostering violence. More on this below.
Nine June 17 Charleston, SC shooting deaths at an African American church seem more like something you'd expect in Afghanistan, Iraq or another US war theater. It's commonplace all too often at home.
Confessed gunman Dylann Roof copycats show up almost anywhere when least expected - in Columbine, CO, Blacksburg, VA, Sandy Hook, CT, Fort Hood, TX (unrelated to combat training casualties), Washington's Navy Yard, San Ysidro, CA, Austin, TX and numerous other locations nationwide.
Motives range from rage to mental instability to apparent racism and white supremacist notions in Roof's case. His so-called manifesto criticized Blacks as inferiors.
"I have no choice," it said. "I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of Blacks to Whites in the country." 
He was quoted telling his victims "(y)ou rape our women, and you're taking over our country, and you have to go." His Facebook page displayed his photo wearing a jacket bearing South African apartheid-era symbols. In another he held the Confederate flag.
Obama hypocritically expressed "deep sorrow over the senseless murders" at the same time he's mass slaughtering victims in multiple war theaters worldwide, presiding over the world's large global gulag (including numerous torture black sites), and destroying fundamental freedoms at home.
Media misreporting on domestic shooting incidents ignore causation factors mattering most. Gun ownership in America is the highest worldwide. Proliferation leaves everyone vulnerable. It lowers the threshold between anger and homicide.
Gunmen alone are blamed whenever these type incidents occur - not society, its culture of violence, its lunatic political class, or managed news misinformation media machine mocking real journalism while waging war on Muslim Americans, Latino immigrants, other people of color, whistleblowers, progressives, dissent and anyone considered unAmerican.
Key factors contributing to domestic violence are ignored. They include America's sordid history of endless wars in the name of peace.
They've been waged every year in US history at home and/or abroad against one of more adversaries - from slaughtering its native population, to enslaving its Blacks, to the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, to multiple current US war theaters, to its streets turned into battlegrounds by killer cops.
America has the highest homicide rate by far of all Western nations - and a passion for owning guns, from pistols to semi-automatics to illegal assault ones.
Previous articles explained violent films are some of the most popular. So are similar video games. The average child watches 200,000 acts of violence  by age 18 - mainly from television. Two-thirds of children's programs include violence - whether animated or scripted with real actors.
Music teaches violence. Popular lyrics include profanity, drug use, sex, rape, guns and murder. Prescription and illicit drug use is out-of-control - as are tobacco, alcohol and other type substance abuses.
America is called a rape culture for good reason. One-fourth of adult women are forcibly raped sometime in their lives - often by someone they know, including family members.
One-third are sexually abused by husbands or boyfriends. One-fourth of young girls are sexually molested - often repeatedly by a family member or other close relative.
African-American women experience extreme levels of violence. Three-fourths are victimized in some way during their lifetimes.
Domestic violence is their leading cause of injury and second leading cause of death. Battering by husbands, male partners or fathers is commonplace among all races. So are child and elder abuse.
Endless wars, mean streets, repressive governance and domestic violence crowd out illusory peace, stability, security, safety, democratic values, disappearing human and civil rights, as well as affording everyone common respect and dignity.
Imperial America fosters violence against endless manufactured enemies abroad, as well as homeland ones - including political dissidents; anti-war, human and civil rights activists; Occupy Wall Street ones; the American Indian Movement; and Black Panther Party among others targeted.
No wonder incidents like Charleston shootings happen all too often. Lone gunmen are symptomatic of ingrained values proliferating daily violence in US communities and homes nationwide - unnoticed until something big happens making headlines for the wrong reasons.
America's addiction to violence and injustice against its least advantaged turned its dream into a nightmare for millions. Nothing in prospect suggests change.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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 Bombs Lebanon - Mon, 22/06/2015 - 02:14
Israel Bombs Lebanon
by Stephen Lendman
Sunday reports indicate an Israeli warplane bombed a remote Lebanese Bekaa region to destroy one of its drones apparently downed.
An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment. A Lebanese security source said it's not entirely clear what happened "but most probably it was an Israeli airstrike to destroy its downed drone" - whether because of mechanical failure or by Hezbollah isn't known.
America, its rogue NATO partners and Israel unilaterally or together  bomb other nations in blatant violation of international law.
The latest Israeli incident may be nothing more than what's reported. At minimum, it reflects illegal Israel surveillance or other unauthorized flights over a sovereign nation as well as bombing its territory - whatever the reason. 
None are acceptable. Multiple Israeli violations of Lebanese air space occurs daily. Israeli warplanes bomb Syria and its border areas with Lebanon at its discretion - for any contrived reason it chooses. These are lawless belligerent acts short of full-scale war. More on this below.
Mossad is notorious for carrying out targeted assassinations - numerous times throughout Israel's history. In recent years alone, car bombings and other means were used against Palestinian, Hezbollah and other officials regionally. In 2004, Israel killed Yasser Arafat by polonium poisoning.
In 2005, Mossad agents murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri - a car bombing incident falsely blamed on Hezbollah after first wrongfully holding Syria responsible.
Three Gaza wars since December 2008 took a terrible toll on its 1.8 million population, still struggling in rubble to recover while illegally blockaded. 
Subjugating the entire Palestinian population under brutal military occupation for decades is a major high crime with no justification whatever.
Lebanon has the misfortune of bordering Israel - attacked by IDF forces in 1978, 1982, 1996 and 2006. Its 4.5 million people face the threat of more war at Israel's discretion for whatever contrived reason it invents.
Its Sheba Farms and Ghajar territory remain illegally occupied. Israeli warplanes and drones provocatively violate its airspace multiple times daily. Its been victimized by numerous Israeli terrorist attacks.
In July 2006, Israel launched naked aggression for contrived reasons - committing major crimes of war and against humanity. It waged collective, disproportionate punishment against large parts of its population - targeting military and non-military sites.
It killed over 1,000, injured thousands more and displaced one-fourth of its population. Beirut, Tyre, Sidon, and other Lebanon cities and towns were terror bombed. 
Targets destroyed or damaged included major ports, Beirut International Airport, 70 bridges, dozens of key roads, electrical power plants, gas and fuel stations, factories, schools, radio and TV stations, mosques, churches, hospitals, dams, civil defense centers, Sidon's refugee camp, an orphanage, and civilian neighborhoods.
Jiyeh's utility plant south of Beirut was struck - causing a massive oil spill affecting over 90 miles of coastal waters. It threatened biodiversity and heightened the risk of cancer for many thousands of Lebanese.
A land, sea and air siege was imposed. Illegal terror weapons were used - including chemical agents. 
Does Israel have another Lebanon war in mind? It failed to defeat Hezbollah in 2006. Its fighters embarrassed IDF forces in ground conflict. Israel doesn't forget or forgive.
Sunday's incident may be no more than what was reported. Given longstanding Israeli aggression against targeted adversaries, anything ahead is possible -  perhaps joint US/Israeli full-scale naked aggression against Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The region already is embroiled with US-initiated conflicts. Attacking Syria and Lebanon could be prelude to targeting Iran and setting it all ablaze.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Netanyahu's Latest Demagoguery - Sun, 21/06/2015 - 22:42
Netanyahu's Latest Demagoguery
by Stephen Lendman
He's a world-class thug heading Israel's most extremist government ever - a ruthless apartheid regime on steroids holding millions of Palestinians hostage under brutal military occupation.
His agenda is hugely repressive. He's ideologically over-the-top. His style features demagogic fear-mongering. It wore thin long ago. 
He remains prime minister only because multi-party Israeli elections always result in coalition governance. His Likud party got only 25% support in last March's elections (30 Knesset seats out of 120) - for sure no mandate.
He rails against opponents. He rejects the slightest criticism of Israeli policy - especially anything related to ruthless Palestinian persecution including genocidal wars.
He called largely tepid Ban Ki-moon criticism of harm committed against Palestinian children in last summer's Gaza war "a dark day for the UN."
He repeated the same old Big Lies he blustered many times before blaming Hamas unjustifiably for premeditated Israeli aggression - killing over 2,200 Palestinians (mostly civilians), including nearly 600 children and 300 women, wounding over 11,000 more, as well as leaving large parts of Gaza in ruins to this day, its 1.8 million population trapped under lawless siege.
He calls IDF terror tactics "the highest moral standards in combat." There's nothing "moral" about naked aggression against a nearly defenseless population - or daily repression against millions of Palestinians for not being Jewish.
On Friday, Israeli Danny Gonen was shot and killed near the Dolev settlement northwest of Jerusalem. A second Israeli was injured during the incident. The offender remains at large - subject of a widespread manhunt.
On Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli border policeman at the Damascus Gate outside East Jerusalem's Old City - leaving him critically wounded.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the officer was stabbed in the neck and chest. He's hospitalized in critical condition.
Eighteen-year-old Yaser Yasin al-Tarawah was identified as the assailant. The officer managed to shoot him six times before apparently collapsing.
The attack followed Gonen's two days earlier. Similar violent incidents occurred in recent months.
The latest one comes two days after the start of Ramadan - with thousands of Palestinians from throughout the Occupied Territories praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem's Old City. Whether Israel intends blocking them in light of the officer's stabbing and Gonen's killing remains to be seen.
One thing is certain. Netanyahu is taking full advantage of what happened - railing about Palestinian terrorism. Pent up frustration and retaliation best explain what happened.
Not according to Netanyahu blustering "we are faced with constant attempts to carry out terror attacks. Unfortunately some of them succeed."
Ahead of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' visit, Netanyahu said "(t)he need to prevent these attacks exists at all times" - without accepting full responsibility for why they happen or admitting ruthless police state persecution of the entire Palestinian population.
Fabius is trying to restart sham peace talks - a worthless exercise, dead on arrival every time. He advocates a Security Council resolution stipulating parameters for future talks.
Netanyahu opposes his idea saying "(t)he only way to reach an agreement is through bilateral negotiations, and we will forcibly reject any attempts to force upon us international dictates."
"In the international proposals that have been suggested to us -  which they are actually trying to force upon us - there is no real reference to Israel's security needs or our other national interests."
"They are simply trying to push us into indefensible borders while completely ignoring what will happen on the other side of the border."
Bilateral Israeli-Palestinian bilateral are worthless every time held. Palestine's legitimate government isn't invited. 
Abbas collaborates with Israel against his own people. Worst of all, Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. It's all take and no give.
The only chance for Palestinian justice is by exerting sustained world community pressure - through growing boycotts, divestments, sanctions and isolation hitting Israel's economy hard. 
The more pain, the greater the chance for success, similar to how South African apartheid was defeated. So far BDS initiatives haven't achieved critical mass. Given the commitment of its supporters, perhaps it's just a matter of time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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 Ecuador - Sun, 21/06/2015 - 20:08
Obama Wants Regime Change in Ecuador
by Stephen Lendman
Obama is no man of the people. He never was throughout his political career. He serves powerful monied interests exclusively. 
As an Illinois state senator, he represented Chicago real estate interests at the expense of Black communities they wanted gentrified. He disgraces the office he holds. He remains a front man for wealth, power and privilege.
Earlier, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund executive director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard called the "defining feature of (his presidency) the eagerness with which it embraced the stunning evisceration of civil rights and liberties that was a hallmark of the Bush administration, and then deepened those outrageous programs. He has successfully counted on the acquiescent silence of the liberals." 
His agenda mocks democratic values, rule of law principles and social justice. It includes endless wars, corporate favoritism, anti-populism, harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers and replacing all sovereign independent governments with ones Washington controls.
Ecuador is one of many targeted countries. Previous articles discussed ongoing street protests on the phony pretext of inheritance and capital tax increases solely affecting the nation's wealthy - about 2% of the population. If not this issue, another would have been invented.
What's happening on Ecuadorean streets is a US-orchestrated right-wing rebellion by the nation's privileged few against everyone else in the country.
Whenever instability erupts almost anywhere, especially in the Americas, the Middle East or related to Russia and China, chances are America's dirty hands are involved.
Ecuador is the latest example - and not for the first time. It's easy understanding why President Raphael Correa is targeted for regime change. He partly opposes Western-style neoliberal harshness but not entirely. Diverging even somewhat from Washington orthodoxy makes him a marked man.
Like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he represents the threat of a good example.
He's a University of Illinois educated economist - receiving his doctorate in 2001. He taught economics at the University of San Francisco in Quito, served as an Ecuadorean economic advisor to state and international agencies, then economy and finance minister in 2005.
In 2006, he was elected president. His tenure began in January 2007. He's been reelected twice. Like Hugo Chavez, he calls himself an advocate of "socialism of the 21st century." James Petras explains he "combine(s) ‘nationalist populist’ and neo-liberal policies more than" the socialism he proclaims.
In February 2013, a Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) paper prepared by Mark Weisbrot, Jake Johnston and Stephan Lefebvre examined financial and regulatory reforms during his first five years in office.
They called them "perhaps the most comprehensive of any country in the 21st century" - including controlling the nations central bank, regulating capital outflows, taxing financial interests, encouraging domestic investment and cooperatives, as well as instituting consumer protections.
CEPR analysts called it "Ecuador's New Deal," saying it played a major role in stimulating economic growth, increasing government revenue, substantially reducing poverty and unemployment, as well as achieving other economic and social indicator improvements.
Weisbrot said "Ecuador has gone against the conventional wisdom and shown that there are alternatives."
"By pursuing policies that have prioritized economic development, employment, and poverty reduction over financial and foreign interests, Ecuador has surmounted some of the problems that had previously held it back, and that have hampered progress in other countries. (Correa's) tenacity and courage served (Ecuador) well."
Large spending increases in housing, healthcare and other social areas were instituted. Education funding as a percent of GDP more than doubled.
An important redistributive cash-transfer program increased by one-fourth. A democratically elected Constituent Assembly new constitution was adopted by national referendum. 
Measures introduced included citizen-initiated referendums, increased access to healthcare and education, improved worker rights, more equitable distribution of income, fair as opposed to so-called "free" trade, and environmental protections.
Things are far from perfect in Ecuador. Business interests retain considerable power. Revolutionary change has a long way to go for greater equity. 
Yet overall conditions improved greatly under Correa. How much further he may shift from destructive neoliberal policies remains to be seen. CEPR analysts concluded the following:
"What is most remarkable is that many of (Correa's) reforms were unorthodox or against the prevailing wisdom of what governments are supposed to do in order to promote economic progress." 
"Taking executive control over the central bank, defaulting on one-third of the foreign debt, increasing regulation and taxation of the financial sector, increasing restrictions on international capital flows, greatly expanding the size and role of government -  these are measures that are supposed to lead to economic ruin."  
"The conventional wisdom is also that it is most important to please investors, including foreign creditors, which this government clearly did not do."
"While not all of Ecuador’s reforms went against orthodox policy advice, many of them did -  and they succeeded. It should be no surprise that Correa" remains hugely popular.
He showed "that a government committed to reform of the financial system, can - with popular support - confront an alliance of powerful, entrenched financial, political, and media interests and win." 
"The government also took on powerful international interests as well, in its foreign debt default, its renegotiation of oil contracts, and its refusal to renew the concession for one of the United States' few remaining military bases in South America."
It shows doing the right thing works. It bears repeating. It's why Washington wants Correa ousted. It tolerates no government diverging from so-called free market economics - prioritizing gross inequality, everything for elite interests, crumbs for all others.
US-orchestrated destabilizing anti-Correa protests continue - a revolt of wealth and privilege against populism. A week ago, opposition caravans tried blocking his return from a European CELAC-EU summit.
He temporarily suspended his announced capital gains and inheritance tax increases, called for national dialogue, and said he'll call for rescinding them if popular sentiment disapproves.
Opposition elements refused his outreach. They want him replaced. Protests continue. Planning and Development Secretary Pabel Munoz said "(w)e are opening a national debate about what type of country we want to have."
"There are two models that are being disputed that we need to see. A model where people agree that a few families should accumulate a lot of wealth, but maybe also we will see a lot of Ecuadoreans who want want to work towards a more just society."
Pro-government supporters along with Ecuadorean social movements welcomed a national debate. Forums and door-to-door community campaigns are planned.
Secretary General of Ecuador's Communist Party Paul Almeida Pozo said "(w)e have decided to join this national dialogue, but we believe that (it) should not just be focused on these two laws, but we believe that the Citizen's Revolution has to assume a new historic moment." 
"We need to make this dialogue into an evaluation of what the Citizen's Revolution is, and the advances it has had."
Ecuador's business community opposes national dialogue. Its members won't participate. They want wealth redistribution measures rescinded. They want beneficial social and economic change entirely abandoned - with full support from Washington.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

WikiLeaks Releases Secret Saudi Documents - Sun, 21/06/2015 - 04:18
WikiLeaks Releases Secret Saudi Documents
by Stephen Lendman
The more we learn about the secret workings of despotic regimes and faux democracies like America, Britain and Israel among others, the better we understand how they extrajudicially serve powerful monied interests at the expense of popular ones.
On Friday, WikiLeaks began releasing around half a million Saudi documents - including Foreign Ministry communiques and top secret intelligence and interior ministry reports.
An initial 70,000 documents were released with much more to come. The organization said information learned shows how Riyadh "managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower (because of its immense oil wealth), including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions."
Bureaucracy is "highly centralized" with senior officials involved in most everything. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said:
Documents obtained "lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbors and itself."
A regime this vile one day will go the way of all others like it before. No nation this corrupt and abhorrent can survive forever. Its day of reckoning awaits - maybe by mass internal revolt too powerful to crush.
It's one of the world's most egregious human rights abusers. Fundamental freedoms don't exist - including the right to express views freely.
Criticizing monarchal policies assures imprisonment, whippings and at times beheading. A family dictatorship gets away with virtually every imaginable human rights abuse because its massive oil reserves are highly valued by Western and other countries.
It uses its oil wealth to buy influence, attack its neighbors, repress its population and support regional terrorist groups serving its interests - including the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other takfiris.
It's one of the world's largest weapons purchasers - hugely benefitting US and other Western arms suppliers. 
WikiLeaks began publishing documents obtained by a group calling itself the Yemeni Cyber Army. It hacked thousands of Saudi Foreign, Defense and Interior Ministry computers.
It released a small portion of what it obtained. WikiLeaks has access to a treasure trove of documents it intends publishing a tranche at a time.
Separately, Britain's Ministry of Defense admitted aiding US-orchestrated, Saudi-led terror bombing of Yemen - by providing technical support and weapons at the same time it keeps cutting vital social services.
It outrageously claims its complicity with mass murder and destruction complies with international law. 
It compounds its disgraceful behavior saying its precision guided weapons and other destructive sophisticated ones "will be used in compliance with international law."
Campaign Against the Arms Trade's Andrew Smith said "Saudi (terror) bombing has created a humanitarian catastrophe and now we know UK weapons have contributed to it."
"These weapons have not just given military support to the bombardment, they have also provided a strong political support and underlined the closeness between the UK and Saudi governments." One rogue state supports another.
"With the destruction of Yemen and the intensifying crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia, the UK government is sending the message that human rights and democracy are less important than arms sales," Smith added.
Saudi-led aggression on Yemen kills and injures scores daily - mostly noncombatant men, women and children. Numbers killed conservatively top 5,000 in almost three months of terror bombing.
Numbers injured are more than double this amount. Over a million Yemenis were displaced, many more daily. Around 80% of the population endures humanitarian crisis conditions.
Unknown numbers perish daily from lack of enough food, clean water and medical care to treat illness and wounds.
Western nations support this carnage. Yemen is being raped and destroyed in plain sight - another horrendous war crime on Obama's rap sheet.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Thousands in Britain Rally Against Austerity - Sun, 21/06/2015 - 02:34
Thousands in Britain Rally Against Austerity
by Stephen Lendman
Force-fed austerity in Britain, America and elsewhere is a thinly veiled wealth transference scheme - from ordinary people to super-rich ones already with too much, including benefitting war profiteers by waging endless conflicts.
The dirty scheme is grand theft by other means - robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul, corrupt politicians profiting at the same time they betray their constituents.
The People's Assembly sponsored Saturday's mass protest. It calls itself "a broad united national campaign against austerity" decimating social justice in Britain. 
It's slogan is "END AUSTERITY NOW." It's Manifesto states:
"There is no need for ANY cuts to public spending; no need to decimate public services; no need for unemployment or pay and pension cuts; no need for Austerity and privatisation. There IS an alternative."
"We need a government to reverse damaging austerity, and replace it with a new set of policies providing us with a fair, sustainable and secure future." 
"We can no longer tolerate politicians looking out for themselves and for the rich and powerful. Our political representatives must start governing in the interests of the majority."
Protesters in London held signs saying "Smash Tory Austerity." "No More Austerity." "End Austerity Now: Take the wealth off the 1%." "Cut War Not Welfare." "Get the Tories Out."
New Labour and Lib Dems are no different - like Republicans and Democrats in America, in lockstep on supporting wealth, power and privilege at the expense of beneficial social change.
Thousands of protesters rallied outside the Bank of England. An estimated 250,000 turned out overall. 
People's Assembly representative Sam Fairbairn said it's "the start of a campaign of protests, strikes, direct action and civil disobedience up and down the country."
"We will not rest until austerity is history, our services are back in public hands and the needs of the majority are put first."
The event highlights growing poverty, homelessness and inequality in recent years. Britain's New Policy Institute (NPI) estimates almost a third of the country's children are impoverished.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said "(t)his government is continuing to punish the poor for an economic crisis they didn't cause."
"It's time for all of us who oppose the government's self-defeating austerity programs to work together" to end them. "That means more protests."
Stop The War Coalition's Lindsey German said "I will be marching because I am fed up with all the main parties saying they are going to promote austerity."
"They have made the rich richer and the poor poorer and they're going to continue."
Tories and New Labour both committed to tens of billions more in austerity cuts when social benefit increases are needed.
Labour claiming a need to "secur(e) our national finances" is code language for transferring more wealth to Britain's rich and budgeting more for war.
Both parties and Lib Dems vow to continue force-fed austerity with new cuts in vital services.
Britain, America and Israel are the developed world's most unequal countries. Their ruling class elites never had it better at the expense of ordinary people, especially those most disadvantaged.
It'll take more than anti-government protests to change things. Nonviolent revolutionary action is needed - sustained for the long haul. 
Not a sign of it in America. Maybe angry Brits can reinvigorate an Occupy Wall Street spirit.
A Final Comment
Britain is a police state like America. Laws in both countries violate core democratic freedoms.
On Friday, London's Guardian reported city police arresting activists ahead of Saturday's protests - on trumped up charges to help neutralize what's ongoing as this article is written.
"Critics have accused the police of staging a politically motivated crackdown," said the Guardian - "an attempt to thwart direct action" on city streets.
Activism for justice is considered subversive in countries like Britain and America - at times "terrorism." Unless people rally effectively in their own self-defense, expect full-blown tyranny to follow.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Thousands in St. Petersburg Defy US Sanctions - Sun, 21/06/2015 - 00:38
Thousands in St. Petersburg Defy US Sanctions
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed the opening of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) - an annual three-day event attracting thousands of participants.
They include world political and business leaders, journalists and others from dozens of countries worldwide - including from China, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Korea and America.
They came despite US sanctions and ones Washington bullied EU countries to impose.
Around 1,000 companies confirmed their participation - including 440 from Europe, Asia and America. They came to finalize deals worth hundreds of billions of rubles.
Top executives from Boeing, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase International, Societe Generale, Siemens, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Philip Morris International, McKinsey & Company, Enel, Pirelli, Schlumberger, Amsted Rail, Austria's UniCredit Bank, and TPG capital arrived among others - despite Washington pressuring Western companies not to attend.
At least 12 US CEOs among dozens of other US corporate officials attended. European business executives outnumbered their American counterparts. A hostile White House statement said:
"Through our combined sanctions, restrictive measures and reduced diplomatic engagement, we have sent a clear signal to Russia's leadership that we will not return to business as usual. We have communicated our position to the US business community in multiple fora."
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "business circles are interested in Russia as evidenced by the guest list of the forum."
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko said more representatives from international companies participated than last year - "despite attempts by some countries to isolate Russia."
Companies worldwide want to do business in Russia despite US-led Western pressure not to - a positive sign amid continuing disturbing events.
A previous article discussed irresponsible French and Belgian Russian asset freezes - in blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Moscow promised appropriate retaliation in response if things can't be resolved sensibly.
On Thursday, AP News reported Washington and EU countries "read(ying) a new round of penalties against Russia targeting its energy and financial sectors as part of a sanctions-in-waiting strategy that officials hope will enable the West to respond immediately if Moscow-backed insurgents seize more territory in Ukraine."
Kiev commits crimes. Russia and Donbass freedom fighters get blamed. EU countries go along with wrongheaded US policies hurting their interests.
New sanctions may block Russian government and business officials from traveling to Western countries, as well as attempt to curtail its energy exports and prevent its banks from engaging in international Swift system transactions.
So far, no agreement was reached "on what level of response would be appropriate for each" nonexistent "infraction," AP said.
How far EU countries intend going remains to be seen. Sanctions cut both ways - hurting European nations in a lose-lose game. Russia bashing doesn't work.
At least eight EU countries oppose sanctions altogether. So does business throughout the continent. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before most European nations say no more to self-destructive policies.
Russia bashing over Ukraine or any other pretext is red herring cover for Washington's longstanding regime change objective - replacing Putin with a convenient stooge it controls.
How far lunatics in Washington intend going remains to be seen. So far they're waging war on Russia by other means - politically and economically. Will direct confrontation follow?
Russian expert Stephen Cohen thinks things "could easily become as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis." Powerful people in the West and Kiev want war, not peace, he believes.
This writer believes flashpoint conditions today are much more dangerous than earlier. Jack Kennedy was president during the missiles of October crisis. He later admitted he had no intention of attacking Soviet Russia. Obama is no Jack Kennedy.
Rick Rozoff's Stop NATO web site reports US-led Alliance members tripling their number of military exercises in the past two years - including over 300 this year, many close to Russia's borders.
Is Washington preparing for war on Russia? Is the unthinkable likely? Increasing numbers of US combat troops and heavy weapons in Eastern Europe up the stakes. 
Attacking Russia means possible nuclear war. Given America's rage for regime change, don't count anything out.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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 US Iran Bashing - Sat, 20/06/2015 - 20:04
Irresponsible US Iran Bashing
by Stephen Lendman
Continuing P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran don't suggest Washington wants normalized relations after 36 years of hostility.
The State Department's just released 2014 Country Reports on Terrorism offers more proof. It excludes the world's two most egregious state sponsors of terrorism above all others - America and Israel.
Instead, it absurdly calls the Jewish state "a committed counterterrorism partner" and lists nonexistent threats to its security - including from Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
It features Cuba (no longer wrongfully designated since May 29, 2015), North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Iran. It blames Syria's Bashar al-Assad for defending his nation against US-imported Islamic State and other takfiri terrorist groups.
It unjustly accuses him of their mass murder, chemical weapons attacks and other atrocities. It ignores Washington's longstanding regime change plans - ongoing belligerently since Obama launched proxy war in March 2011, naked aggression against an independent country threatening no one.
It outrageously accused Iran of continuing "terrorist-related activity" without offering any proof  whatever- just meaningless generalizations signifying nothing, part of Washington's longstanding Iran bashing.
Tehran "support(s) Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East," the report said.
Hamas is Palestine's democratically elected government - not the phony Israeli-installed Abbas regime. It's no terrorist group. Nor is Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other popular resistance groups opposing Israeli occupation ruthlessness.
Iran is helping battle Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, yet is blamed for supporting an unnamed Shia militia falsely designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Any group opposing US imperialism and Israeli persecution of Palestinians is automatically designated an FTO. Regional despots in lockstep with Washington's agenda are considered valued allies - no matter how ruthless their regimes, like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
The State Department unjustly accused Iran of "smuggl(ing) weapons to Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza…continued subtle efforts at growing (its) influence" regionally and elsewhere, and "creat(ing instability in the Middle East."
Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Oods Force (IRGC-QF) "is the regime's primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad," the State Department claimed.
Fact: No evidence whatever suggests Iran supports terrorism or terrorist-related activities anywhere.
Fact: Iran threatens no other nation - not now or earlier.
Fact: Iran hasn't attacked another nation in centuries. It's able to vigorously defend itself if necessary.
Tehran "provide(s) arms, financing, training, and the facilitation of primarily Iraqi Shia and Afghan fighters to support the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of at least 191,000 people in Syria, according to August UN estimates."
Fact: Iran justifiably supports its Syrian ally against US proxy aggression - using takfiri terrorists to do its dirty work.
Fact: Obama bears full responsibility for systematically raping the Syrian Arab Republic - committing one of history's great crimes in the process. 
The State Department irresponsibly bashed Iran for aiding its Hezbollah ally - a legitimate part of the Lebanese government, not an FTO as falsely designated nor a threat to Israel as wrongfully stated.
"Iran remains a state of proliferation concern. Despite multiple UNSCRs requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran continued to be in noncompliance with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program," the State Department claimed.
False! The whole world knows Iran's nuclear program is peaceful - in full compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions. Israel's Mossad and 16 US intelligence agencies admit Iran's program has no military component.
In contrast, Israel is a nuclear outlaw - armed and dangerous, unwilling to sign NPT or have its thermonuclear bomb-making facilities inspected.
Given longstanding US hostility toward Iran, it's hard imagining Washington intends normalizing relations ahead. Heavy pressure from Israel and its US Lobby assure continued Iran bashing - whatever the outcome of P5+1 talks.
Note: The State Department released its report (not coincidentally) 11 days before an agreed on June 30 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran.
Perhaps it signals US reneging on Lausanne framework agreement terms - irresponsibly blaming Iran for its own double-dealing.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

European Copyright Madness: Court Strikes Down Law Allowing Users to Rip Their Own CDs - Sat, 20/06/2015 - 10:29

Today the High Court of the United Kingdom handed down an excellent decision—excellent because the result is so unreasonable, so out of touch with reality, and so divorced from the needs and expectations of ordinary users, that it provides a textbook illustration of the need for urgent reform of the outdated and unbalanced European Copyright Directive.

In a nutshell, the court struck down the UK government's decision to allow users to lawfully make copies of content that they have purchased for personal use, given the absence of a compulsory levy to compensate copyright owners for the “harm” that they suffer from such copying. The government's choices are now to remove the private copying exception—making personal copying illegal again, or to supply additional evidence that copyright owners suffer no or minimal “harm” from personal copying, or else to begin imposing a new tax on users to compensate the industry for that “harm”.

The notion that every use of copyright works by users (which for digital works, generally involves a technical act of copying) is a use that rightsholders must be compensated for, is not a notion with any historical foundation in copyright law. Copyright law is a limited monopoly right that is bestowed by statute, and therefore it can be limited or taken away by statute just as easily. Thus, the limitations and exceptions to copyright law are as much an integral part of it as the exclusive rights of copyright owners are.

However, in May 2001, with the adoption of European Union Copyright Directive (2001/29), what had been a well-settled principle of British copyright law was suddenly made subject to a new restriction: that no new copyright limitations and exceptions could be introduced without compensation to rightsholders, unless its introduction would cause them minimal or no harm.

Seizing on the opportunity to use this supranational directive to overturn a democratically-enacted law, music industry groups (the Musicians' Union, UK Music, and the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) sued the UK government arguing that yes, by making a copy of content that you have purchased, in your own home and for your own use, you are indeed causing them to suffer harm.

In a 107-page judgment [PDF] that is long on economic theory and short on common sense, the High Court examined the industry's assertion that because content that can be copied has more value than content that can't—we agree with that part—the rightsholder ought to be able to capture that added value—a far more dubious claim, but one to which the unbalanced European Copyright Directive gives some credence.

The government's response was that the added value that consumers receive from being able to make personal copies is already being captured, because it is built in to the purchase price of the original works, resulting in no or minimal loss to rightsholders. The problem, as found by the court, was that the government hadn't actually done its homework to demonstrate that this was indeed the case.

Whilst accepting that the Copyright Directive does not require “that sellers must be able to extract the very last gram of value from the copyright,” the court found that the personal copying exception might have resulted in some loss of sales (for example, some hypothetical consumer might have refrained from buying an extra copy of their favorite CD for their car, in reliance on the new exception), and that the government had failed to present any evidence that these lost sales were zero or minimal.

This decision is so bad, that it isn't even wrong. Not because we think that the government did produce the economic evidence that the court was looking for, but because the fact the government should even be required to produce that sort of evidence before allowing users to make personal copies of purchased works shows how completely detached copyright law has become from the real world.

In the digital age, the ability for copyright works to be legally copied is not something that can be characterized in any sensible way as an additional value, over and above the value that those works possess in splendid, uncopiable isolation. For many digital works, it is impossible to make use of copyright works at all without making copies; perhaps many times over, and it is absolutely right and proper that the making of those copies ought to be permitted by the law, without relying on a levy or on a license from the copyright owner.

Demanding that each such lawfully-made copy be somehow carved into its own sliver of value, and ensuring that rightholders have been afforded the maximum opportunity to extract rents from that value, is nonsense on every level: it is administratively unworkable, acts as a barrier to fair use and innovation, and has no justifiable legal or moral basis as a matter of copyright policy.

Whilst we therefore think that the court got it wrong by buying into the industry's argument that it was entitled to share in the value of personal copying, the court is not alone in carrying the blame for this momentously bad precedent. As suggested above, the fault must also be shared by the inflexible and one-sided European Copyright Directive.

Neither can we fully absolve the rightsholders from blame; although a stupid law is an open invitation for anyone to take advantage of it, it still takes a special kind of mercenary greed to use it to strike down an exception that allows people to freely make personal copies of CDs, videos and personal photographs in the privacy of their own homes. (And let's not kid ourselves that the recording industry in the United States wouldn't pull the same stunt if they thought they could.)

Today's decision puts the very worst features of copyright law on full display, and to that extent is an excellent illustration of the need for change. It bolsters the argument that thousands of European citizens have made that the Copyright Directive must be urgently reviewed, though measures such as the introduction of a fair use-style exception. Unfortunately this week's refusal by the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee to recommend just such an exception as proposed by Member of Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda does not bode well for the success of the pending review.

But perhaps a stupid decision like this is just what is needed to turn the temperature up a notch, and place more British users on the offensive. After years of lobbying for a free personal copying exception, its loss at the hands of the music industry clearly outlines the incursions that unbalanced copyright law makes upon users' freedom to make reasonable, private (and public) uses of copyright works. It's high time to bring European copyright law back into line with reality.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternational
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Donald Trump: Billionaire Con Man, Presidential Aspirant - Sat, 20/06/2015 - 03:34
Donald Trump: Billionaire Con Man, Presidential Aspirant
by Stephen Lendman
Call it the silly season. A host of unworthy presidential aspirants announced their candidacy. Donald Trump is the latest: a billionaire con man, Trump Organization head, self-styled celebrity, outspoken to a fault.
In 2010, he expressed interest in a possible presidential run, then backed off, saying he wasn't "ready to leave the private sector."
Modesty isn't a Trump long suit. He claimed at the time if he ran, he'd "be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election."
He added "business is (his) greatest passion and" he wasn't ready for politics. Now he claims he spent over $1 million researching a possible 2016 presidential run. 
On June 16, he made it official at his New York City Trump Tower with the usual political blather announcement, saying:
"We are going to make our country great again" - immodestly claiming he'll be the "greatest jobs president God ever created (and) restore the American Dream." 
His official campaign slogan is "Make America Great Again" - spoken like a bonafide demagogue.
The only thing we know for sure about Trump is his passion for making money the old-fashioned way, apply his deal-making to Balzac's maxim about a crime behind every great fortune, and understanding billionaires aren't known for being populists.
In announcing his candidacy, Trump delivered a rambling, boastful speech promising he'll create more jobs than any previous president - without explaining how.
Except for saying he'll bring back offshored jobs by heavily taxing imports (with 20% tariffs) - a surefire inflationary disaster besides sparking a trade war;
He'll seal off America's southern border with a Great Wall and force Mexico to pay for it - claiming their people bring drugs, crime and "(t)hey're rapists…They're destroying the fabric of the country," he blustered.
Spoken like a true racist - claiming America "has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."
Trump supports trade with China but wants its currency taxed - saying it has an unfair advantage over America.
Beijing's leaders are smarter than their US counterparts, he said. "It’s like, take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team." 
"That’s the difference between China’s leaders and our leaders. We have all the cards but our leaders don’t understand the game."
He criticized American education quality and cost without explaining how he'd change things.
He called Obamacare "the big lie. It's a disaster." Replace it with something "far superior" and cheaper - corporate controlled, of course, not publicly guaranteed universal healthcare everyone deserves.
He criticized US national security blustering no plan exists. He lied claiming "Iran is racing toward developing nuclear weapons."
"China is exponentially expanding its military power…Iran and ISIS…are taking over vast areas of the Middle East…Our president has no plan."
"Our country is in serious trouble. We are not respected by anyone. We are the laughingstock all over the world." He claims he devised a "foolproof way" to defeat ISIS but won't divulge it saying he doesn't "want the enemy to know what I'm doing."
A good start would be for Washington to stop recruiting, arming, funding and directing takfiri terrorists to use as US proxy foot soldiers in Syria, Iraq and wherever else policymakers intend deploying them. Are Russia, China and Iran next?
Don't expect Trump to explain - or say why Obama is "one of the worst things that ever happened to Israel." Earlier he called the Jewish state "our unsinkable Mideast aircraft carrier." 
He supports its worst crimes like virtually everyone else in Washington. Two rogue states partner in their imperial agendas. 
Trump called for "us(ing) force to stop North Korean nuke development" - without explaining Pyongyang threatens no one.
He absurdly said the "USA is the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known" - ignoring its sordid history of high crimes at home and abroad from massacring its native people to slavery to homeland police state harshness to exploiting its workers to endless wars of aggression for unchallenged global dominance.
He ludicrously claims Donbass rebels challenge Kiev rule because America isn't "a respected country and we don't have respected leadership at this moment."
He calls global warming a hoax. He favors zero corporate taxes. He opposes social justice. He's against same-sex marriage. 
He says reckless borrow and spend policies threaten America's longterm economic health - without condemning banker bailouts, other corporate handouts and bloated defense spending for endless imperial wars.
He opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal - calling it "an attack on America's business."
Like all other duopoly presidential candidates, Trump represents business as usual - the triumph of monied interests over popular ones. Whichever aspirant wins next year, ordinary Americans will lose - perhaps more than ever before.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Putin Straight Talk v. Obama Doubletalk - Sat, 20/06/2015 - 02:44
Putin Straight Talk v. Obama Double Talk
by Stephen Lendman
Putin says what he means and means what he says. His style is forthright. He follows through on what he says.
Obama is polar opposite - an inveterate serial liar with no credibility whatever. He says one thing and does another.
On the occasion of Ramadan, he duplicitously extended "warmest greetings" to world Muslims he's been systematically mass slaughtering since day one in office with no letup.
If he really cared for their rights and welfare, he'd immediately order all US direct and proxy wars of aggression ended. He'd stop destabilizing Muslim countries and end persecuting Islamic people at home and abroad.
He'd end the charade about a so-called Iranian nuclear weapons program the whole world knows doesn't exist. 
He'd cease all US financial, political and military support for Israel until it recognizes Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders and ends its illegal occupation once and for all - both unconditionally.
He'd stop pursuing regime change in one independent country after another. He'd put Wall Street and other corporate crooks in prison where they belong - plus CIA torturers for their high crimes.
He'd end punishing austerity and go all-out to increase social benefits - including replacing corporate controlled Obamacare with universal healthcare for all Americans.
He'd dismantle America's police state apparatus and repressive laws. He'd support fair and equitable trade, not what benefits corporate predators at the expense of consumers.
He'd end Big Brother spying on everyone without just cause. He’d obey international, constitutional and US statute laws instead of breaching them consistently. He'd serve all Americans equitably - not just its rich and powerful.
Putin participated in a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) plenary meeting panel discussion. 
He answered questions forthrightly. He had much to say worth hearing. He justifiably blamed Washington for pursuing Cold War 2.0.
"Not military conflicts but global decisions like the US unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) lead to a Cold War," Putin explained.
"This more in fact pushes us to a new round of the arms race, because it changes the global security system."
Washington lied claiming ABM withdrawal was to counter threats from North Korea and Iran. None exist. Both countries want normal relations with America and other Western nations. Instead they're bashed for maintaining sovereign independent rights.
The Bush administration ended ABM to install so-called anti-missile systems intended for offense targeting Russia and China. Obama pursues the same belligerent policy.
"The problem is (America is it's) constantly trying to impose (its) standards and decisions on us with no regard to our interests," said Putin.
"In essence they say: 'we are better' as if the US knows better what is good for us. Well, let us decide for ourselves what our interests and needs are as dictated by our history and culture."
Putin accused Washington of irresponsibly meddling in Russia's internal affairs - the same way it operates globally, a nuclear-armed bully throwing its weight around.
"This is no dialogue," Putin explained. Instead "an (unacceptable) ultimatum. Don't speak the language of ultimatums with us," he stressed.
"Russia does not claim some sort of hegemony. It does not claim some kind of ephemeral superpower status. We want relations based on equality with all members of the international community."
Russia will go all-out to defend its interests, Putin explained. It's not about to roll over and obey US diktats - nor should it or any other nation.
After Soviet Russia's dissolution, Washington began aggressively expanding east using enlarged NATO as a dagger targeting its heartland.
"I’m completely convinced that after the so-called bipolar system ceased to exist, after the Soviet Union disappeared of the political map, several of our partners in the West, including the United States first and foremost, came under euphoria and instead of setting up good neighborly and partner relations, they began grabbing free geopolitical space as they saw it," said Putin.
Confrontation substituted for normalized relations. Nothing in prospect suggests change.
"We are not the root cause of…crisis…in Ukraine," Putin explained.
The West "shouldn't have supported the anti-state and anti-constitutional coup, the armed seizure of power that eventually ignited a tough confrontation and de facto a civil war in that country."
Multi-world polarity is the new way of things Putin stresses often. Instead of accepting it and building good relations, US-dominated NATO expanded east in violation of what it pledged not to do.
"Quite possibly, some of our partners might have gotten an illusion that a global center like the Soviet Union had existed in the postwar world order and now that it was gone, vacuum appeared and it was to be filled urgently," Putin said.
"I actually think that’s an erroneous approach to the solution of the problem."
Kiev must shift from "manipulations to practical work" - including constitutional reform, accepting Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics' special status, decentralization, a new law on municipal elections, amnesty as agreed on, and full implementation of Minsk ceasefire terms.
So far, nothing constructive was accomplished. Aggression on Donbass continues. No dialogue is in prospect to end it - or efforts to afford its residents their legitimate rights.
"If the current Ukrainian authorities think that it is Ukraine’s territory and there live the Ukrainians who enjoy the right to be provided with disability benefits or pensions and who have earned them working in accordance with the Ukrainian law, then the Ukrainian authorities cannot deny payments of these benefits as they just have no right to behave so! They are violating their own constitution," Putin explained.
Given lunatics running the asylum in Washington, the possibility of East/West confrontation is greater than perhaps any time during the Cold War.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Uncivilized Western Civilization - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 23:34
Uncivilized Western Civilization
by Stephen Lendman
So-called Western civilization should terrify everyone. It’s a monster threatening life on earth. 
Policy agendas pursue destructive objectives benefitting monied interests at the expense of all others - no matter how much human suffering is caused.
Endless wars of aggression target independent countries threatening no one - glorified in the name of peace, supported by echo chamber media scoundrels profiting by spreading Big Lies. 
Mass murder is called humanitarian intervention. Western-style democracy is code language for control, plunder and exploitation. 
We the people ain't ordinary folks. Powerful, corrupted elites in charge want whole continents carved up for profit. They want their resources stolen, their people exploited, fundamental freedoms eliminated to crush dissent.
Rule of law principles are for other nations, not superpowers and close allies. Democracies are pure fiction. Elections when held are farcical. Monied interests win every time.
No wonder George Bernard Shaw once called democracy "a form of government that substitutes elections by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."
America is the world's greatest human rights abuser on a global scale. It tolerates no nation not subservient to its interests. 
It's the greatest threat to world peace. It directs NATO's killing machine against humanity. Partnership with Israel may kill us all.
Its wish list includes unchallenged global dominance, controlling its resources, stealing its wealth, endless wars, instability and chaos, NATO operating worldwide, abolishing the middle class, and establishing ruler-serf societies unfit to live in.
Any government defending its sovereignty responsibly is targeted for regime change. Russia and China bashing is all about wanting pro-Western puppets installed.
Besides earlier ones, so are US post-9/11 wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Donbass, Yemen, partnered with Israel against Palestine, and numerous destabilization and regime change efforts against Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Haiti and other countries worldwide.
Greece is in the eye of the storm. Washington is involved with EU countries bullying its SYRIZA government to make endless odious debt payments - the exact opposite of sound policy. It's about:
  • paying bankers first at the expense of its ordinary citizens; 

  • impoverishing them;

  • bankrupting the country; 

  • preventing an essential Grexit to repair its devastated economy; 

  • forcing it to keep selling off its crown jewels at fire sale prices; and 

  • ultimately regime change - replacing SYRIZA with right-wing governance beholden solely to monied interests instead of its current one going part way.

The only way Greece can come back from its deepening abyss is by defaulting - walking away from its odious debt entirely, renouncing it publicly, exiting the Eurozone and NATO, regaining its lost sovereignty, allying with Russia, China and other BRICS countries, reinstituting the drachma, and rebuilding its economy based on sound monetary and fiscal principles benefitting all Greek citizens equitably - no matter how much pain is endured in transition.
Western nations thrive on Greek suffering - and all other countries they exploit for their own benefit, including their own populations.
Austerity isn't about what Obama calls "shared sacrifice." It's about transferring maximum wealth from ordinary people with too little to rich ones already with too much.
It's about impoverishing growing millions to make millionaires billionaires. It's about creating a world of endless wars, growing deprivation, and police state crackdowns on nonbelievers.
It's about handing planet earth over to its super-wealthy and powerful so they can exploit everyone else for their own benefit.
It's about a world unfit to live in - slowly being destroyed by rapaciousness - maybe one headed for annihilation if endless wars aren't stopped.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 19:57
Irresponsibly Freezing Russian Assets
by Stephen Lendman
French and Belgian Russian asset freezes along with extending EU sanctions through January came (not coincidentally) on day one of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
It's an impressive annual three-day event attracting thousands of participants - including world political and business leaders, journalists and others from dozens of countries worldwide.
The Forum's web site states:
"SPIEF gathers the leading decision-makers of the emerging economic powers to identify and deliberate the key challenges facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world at large, while engaging communities to find common purpose and establish frameworks to forge solutions which will drive the growth and stability agenda."
Vladimir Putin welcomed participants calling SPIEF "a platform for candid discussions to be held on a wide range of economic, financial and social issues, with long-term contracts and agreements being concluded on the sidelines."
"The slogan for this year’s event, ‘Time to Act: Shared Paths to Stability and Growth’, reflects our strategy in the new realities of today’s global economy."
"I firmly believe that the ideas and proposals formulated at this year’s Forum will go a long way towards improving economic cooperation and strengthening mutual trust."
In response to EU nations extending sanctions, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will respond based on the "principle of reciprocity" - indicating Moscow's counter-sanctions will remain in force.
Neither side benefits. Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin called sanctions "economic masochism." EU nations continue acting against their own interests by playing Washington's dirty game - a futile attempt to marginalize, weaken, contain and isolate Russia. 
In response, Moscow established closer ties with China and other nations unwilling to harm their own interests by supporting Washington's.
France and Belgium acted irresponsibly by freezing Russian assets. French authorities targeted VTB, Russia's second largest bank.
Diplomatic accounts were frozen, then unlocked. Rossiya Segodnya international news agency's bank accounts were seized. The operation includes Sputnik News.
At the same time, Belgian authorities seized Russian assets - including its Embassy's and  Permanent UN Mission accounts. 
The action relates to contested Russian debt former Yukos Oil owners claim they're owed. The company declared bankruptcy after Moscow demanded it pay back taxes evaded for years. 
Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent more than a decade in prison (2003 - 2013) for embezzlement and tax evasion. In the 1990s, he was Russia's richest oligarch with close ties to Kremlin bureaucrats.
In 1995, he bought Yukos assets for $300 million - a tiny fraction of their worth. In 2003, their market value was $30 billion - a 100-fold ill-gotten gain.
In July 2014, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ordered $50 billion paid to former Yukos shareholders. It called the company "the object of a series of politically motivated attacks."
Russia's Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov said freezing Russian assets is "a blatant violation of international law." Russia's Foreign Ministry called Belgium's actions "an unfriendly act…a blatant (international law) violation." It indicated retaliatory measures may follow if what happened isn't reversed.
Putin aide Andrey Belousov called actions by France and Belgium politicized. "Moscow hopes to avoid a new escalation in relations," he said. At the same time, it's "considering a number of measures to deal with" what happened if things aren't resolved responsibly.
Last November, Moscow appealed PCA's $50 billion Yukos decision - on grounds of lacking jurisdiction over internal Russian affairs. Without justification, the Court claimed Russia's "primary objective…was not to collect taxes but rather to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its valuable assets."
Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky amassed great wealth the old-fashioned way. During an October 2008 Council to Combat Corruption session, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said:
"Corruption in our nation has not simply become wide-scale. It has become a common, everyday phenomenon which characterizes the very life of our society." 
"We are not simply talking about commonplace bribery. We are talking about a severe illness which is corroding the economy and corrupting all society."
According to an earlier Russian Internal Affairs Ministry estimate, annual corruption ranges from $20 - $40 billion. Other assessments indicate much greater amounts of stolen wealth - involving business, government officials and bureaucrats.
French and Belgian moves had nothing to do with alleged Moscow law violations. They were entirely politically motivated - connected to Washington's Russia bashing agenda pressuring EU nations to do much of its dirty work against their own self-interest.  
The latest moves are tied to SPIEF's opening,  nonexistent "Russian aggression" in Ukraine, its successful English and other foreign language media effectively countering Western propaganda, and America's longstanding regime change objective. 
What can't go on forever, won't. At least eight EU countries support lifting Russian sanctions - Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, even France.
Heavy US pressure keeps them from acting in their own self-interest - for how long remains to be seen.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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, CloudFlare Ask Federal Court Not To Force Internet Companies To Enforce Music Labels’ Trademarks - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 07:55

This month, CloudFlare and EFF pushed back against major music labels’ latest strategy to force Internet infrastructure companies like CloudFlare to become trademark and copyright enforcers, by challenging a broad court order that the labels obtained in secret. Unfortunately, the court denied CloudFlare’s challenge and ruled that the secretly-obtained order applied to CloudFlare. This decision, and the strategy that led to it, present a serious problem for Internet infrastructure companies of all sorts, and for Internet users, because they lay out a blueprint for quick, easy, potentially long-lasting censorship of expressive websites with little or no court review. The fight’s not over for CloudFlare, though. Yesterday, CloudFlare filed a motion with the federal court in Manhattan, asking Judge Alison J. Nathan to modify the order and put the responsibility of identifying infringing domain names back on the music labels.

We’ve reported recently about major entertainment companies’ quest to make websites disappear from the Internet at their say-so. The Internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA were part of that strategy, along with the Department of Homeland Security’s project of seizing websites based on unverified accusations of copyright infringement by entertainment companies. Entertainment distributors are also lobbying ICANN, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Internet’s domain name system, to gain the power to censor and de-anonymize Internet users without court review. (Fortunately, it looks like ICANN is pushing back)

The order that CloudFlare received in May is an example of another facet of the site-blocking strategy. It works like this: entertainment companies file a lawsuit in federal court against the (possibly anonymous) owners of a website they want to make disappear. The website owners typically don’t show up in court to defend themselves, so the court issues an order to the website to stop infringing some copyright or trademark. (Often this order is initially drafted by the entertainment companies.) The entertainment companies then send a copy of the order to service providers like domain name registrars, Web hosting providers, ISPs, and content delivery networks like CloudFlare, and demand that the service providers block the targeted website or domain name, as well as other websites and domains that the entertainment companies want gone.

This month’s case involved a website that called itself Grooveshark, and appeared to be a clone of the site by that name that shut down in April after settling a copyright lawsuit to the record labels. That settlement left the labels in control of Grooveshark’s trademarks, which they proceeded to use as a weapon against the copycat site. The labels applied to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for a secret order to shut down the site, which was then located at Judge Deborah A. Batts granted the order in secret. The order covered the site’s anonymous owners, and anyone “in active concert or participation” with them. The order also listed “domain name registrars . . . and Internet service providers” among those who have to comply with it. The labels sent a copy of the order to several companies, including CloudFlare.

When a federal court issues an order (called an injunction), court rules say it can apply to a party in the case or to anyone in “active concert or participation” with them. But the courts haven’t clarified what “active concert or participation” means in the Internet context. Communication over the Internet can involve dozens of service and infrastructure providers, from hosts to domain name registrars to ISPs, backbone providers, network exchanges, and CDN services. Under a broad reading, even an electric utility or a landlord that leases space for equipment could conceivably be in “active concert or participation” with a website.

CloudFlare decided to take a stand against the overbroad order, asking the court to clarify that the order did not apply to CloudFlare. As a CDN and reverse proxy service, CloudFlare makes websites faster and more secure, but can’t suspend a site’s domain name or render it unreachable. So even if making Internet intermediaries responsible for enforcing copyright and trademark laws was a good idea (it’s not), CloudFlare is not the right one to do it. And even if the mysterious owners of the “new Grooveshark” site are bad actors, CloudFlare wanted to protect its law-abiding customers by insisting on a correct and thorough court process before cutting off any customer.

Unfortunately, the court concluded that the initial order applied to CloudFlare. And even worse, the court said that CloudFlare has to block every user with a domain name that contains “grooveshark,” no matter who owns the site. That means that CloudFlare, or any Internet infrastructure company that gets served with a copy of the court order, would have to filter and ban sites called “groovesharknews,” “grooveshark-commentary,” or “grooveshark-sucks,” no matter who runs them or what they contain.

That’s a big deal. Laws like Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and court decisions on trademark law, protect Internet intermediaries from legal responsibility for the actions of their users, including the responsibility to proactively block or filter users. That protection has been vital to the growth of the Internet as a medium for communication, innovation, and learning. Those laws help keep Internet companies and entertainment conglomerates from becoming the gatekeepers of speech with the power to decide what we can and can’t communicate. The record labels didn’t accuse CloudFlare of any copyright or trademark violation—nor could they, in part because of laws like the DMCA. Yet the order against CloudFlare might force CloudFlare, and other service providers, to filter its service for terms like “grooveshark”—and other words that might appear in future court orders. Service providers like CloudFlare could find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to figure out who’s allowed to use “grooveshark” and who isn’t—or of having to block them all. Turning Internet companies into enforcers of who can say what on the Internet is exactly what laws like the DMCA were meant to avoid.

And CloudFlare is far from the only Internet company to be hit with an order like this. Many, including some domain name registrars, simply comply with overbroad court orders, asking no questions, instead of sticking up for their users.

Yesterday, CloudFlare took a new step. Represented by EFF and Goodwin Procter, CloudFlare asked the court to change the order so that in the future, CloudFlare will only be responsible for taking down user accounts that use variations on “grooveshark” if the music labels notify CloudFlare that a site is infringing. That change will put the job of enforcing trademarks back on the trademark holders, and preserve the balance created by laws like the DMCA. CloudFlare supports smart, effective, and careful trademark enforcement and wants to see it done right – not through broad orders that can impact free speech.

Other Internet companies that care about their users, and would rather not become unwilling trademark and copyright enforcers and arbiters of speech, should follow CloudFlare’s lead and push back against orders like this one.

Related Issues: DMCA
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Categories: Aggregated News

Dirty Fast Track Authority Politics - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 04:34
Dirty Fast Track Authority Politics
by Stephen Lendman
On June 12, House members rejected fast track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by a convoluted process explained in a previous article.
It involves combining TPA with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) authorizing funding programs for workers displaced by jobs-killing imports. Voting down one measure defeats them both - at least that's how it's supposed to work.
House members overwhelmingly defeated TAA by a 176 vote margin rendering their separate earlier approval of TPA meaningless. Obama and corporate lobbyists don't quit easily.
On June 18, House members narrowly approved TPA separately in a second vote. Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach explained a "procedural gimmick to punt Fast Track…back to the Senate."
It's fate remains unclear so far. Senate Democrats demand TAA be combined with TPA before a second vote. 
At the same time, key Senate Democrats insist Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allow an Export-Import Bank reauthorization vote. It was a condition for supporting cloture on fast track earlier. House Republicans strongly oppose TAA and Ex-Im reauthorization.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said there's no clear path for TAA enactment so far. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama wants TPA and TAA passed so he can sign both measures.
Wallach remains hopeful saying despite "two years of effort by a vast corporate coalition, the White House and GOP leaders - and weeks of procedural gimmicks and deals swapped for yes votes - (a) continuing standoff and no Fast Track spotlights the dim prospects not only for (adopting TPA) but also for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)."
The battle for consumer rights continues. "America needs a new process for negotiating and approving agreements if we are to achieve deals that create American jobs and raise our wages," said Wallach - instead of destroying them and reducing wages and benefits as part of a longstanding destructive race to the bottom.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) commented on Fast
Track "machinations" and how hard it is following what's going on. Even Washington insiders can't predict what's next, it said.
Given Obama's history of dissembling, who knows if he'll stick to his pledge of demanding both TPA and TAA congressional passage before he'll sign either one.
If enough Senate Democrats break from their demand for TAA passage and agree to vote separately for TPA, the battle for Fast Track and what's left of worker rights will be lost. So far, it's unclear how things will go.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 

Fast Track Ping Pongs Back to the Senate As the Administration's Desperation Mounts - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 03:31

If you're finding it hard to follow the machinations over the Fast Track bill, you're not alone—even Washington insiders are finding it hard to predict the administration's next move, as it changes from day to day. As of this morning, the House of Representatives has passed the Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill—but not the associated Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill that is a precondition of accepting Fast Track for pro-trade Democrats. This means that it's now up to the Senate to pass both bills if they can, and then to send TAA back to the House, on the strength of the assurance of Republican leaders that they will pass it there too—and that President Obama will wait to see both bills on his desk before he signs either.

There are a few sizable problems with this. One is the assumption that Republicans won't break ranks and refuse to pass TAA, a program that supports workers who are displaced by the effects of trade agreements, and that many Republicans oppose as inefficient. Another is that House Democrats won't block it when it returns to the House, as they already have once before. But the more fundamental issue is that TAA doesn't solve the problems that we have with Fast Track, or with the trade treaties such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that it enables.

TAA will not prevent the TPP from extending the term of copyright protection to a uniform life plus 70 years throughout the Pacific Rim, and simultaneously locking in that term at home. It won't stop the imposition of DMCA-like laws that prevent users from bypassing DRM simply in order to view or make fair use copies of their media. It will not prevent foreign corporations from suing the American government to stop it from adopting pro-user laws or policies, for example on orphan works (or, conversely, American corporations from suing our trading partners for introducing such laws or policies).

Despite the fact that it's a red-line for Democrats to accept Fast Track, make no mistake that TAA does not fix any of the problems that users are concerned with in the TPP or the other secretive trade agreements that Fast Track will enable. So the message from us to the Senate remains that despite the passage of Fast Track through the House, nothing fundamental has changed—the bill must still be blocked. This means our call to action remains live—and that your support is as crucial as ever.

Read about all of our concerns with the TPP:

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrade Agreements and Digital RightsTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Categories: Aggregated News

Examples of Israeli Viciousness - Fri, 19/06/2015 - 02:54
Examples of Israeli Viciousness
by Stephen Lendman
Israel treats Palestinians the way Hitler persecuted Jews. Every day is Kristallnacht for long-suffering people under apartheid conditions worse than South Africa's.
Israeli democracy is pure fiction. Palestinians are viciously persecuted for the crime of not being Jewish - including mass murder and destruction whenever racist lunatics in charge wish. 
Yet they enjoy virtual 100% congressional and administration support no matter which party holds executive power.
One rogue state supports another - each in lockstep with the other's worst crimes, an endless cycle of unaccountable atrocities and other abuses.
What happened to Abdullah Iyad Ghuneimat wasn't accidental. Israeli forces murdered him in cold blood - unaccountably, the same way killer cops operate in America against people of color.
Ghuneimat was shot threatening no one, chased seeking safety, then run over by an Israeli jeep pushing him into a wall.
It collapsed causing the jeep to overturn on him. Instead of helping, soldiers left him under the vehicle severely injured, his body crushed, screaming in extreme pain for three hours before dying. 
In other words, they tortured him to death. Palestinian medics were blocked from providing aid. Area Palestinian residents attacked soldiers with their bare hands, lifted the jeep off his body, but it was too late to save him.
He died a painful protracted death. His body was taken to the Palestinian Medical Complex. Thousands turned out for his funeral. Chants called for revenge. His mother accused Israel of murdering her son in cold blood. 
An IDF spokeswoman lied claiming a "suspicious man" tried throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces. An army vehicle lost control and hit him, she claimed. Israeli emergency services arrived to provide aid.
Rubbish! False on all counts! Willful Big Lies. Ghuneimat was heading to work threatening no one. Israeli soldiers shot him without cause. 
They ran him down - leaving him trapped to die. No Israeli help arrived. Palestinian medics were blocked from delivering aid.
Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst. Volumes are needed to detail its high crimes, abuses and other forms of ill-treatment.
A new Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) report titled "#Denied" explains how Israeli authorities block thousands of Palestinians from traveling to receive vitally needed medical treatment - even individuals with life-threatening cancers and other major diseases.
A typical rejection notice reads as follows:
"We would like to inform you after considering the request, the competent authorities have decided to turn it down for security reasons which cannot, naturally, be divulged" - code language for indifference to human suffering just societies respond to responsibly.
Palestinians can't travel freely without hard to get Israeli permit permission - even for vitally needed medical treatment.
Over 200,000 Palestinians seek approval to travel for health-related issues annually. Many are rejected. Others are delayed, often when urgent treatment is needed.
At times, PHR-I successfully intervenes with Israeli authorities on their behalf. No justification exists to deny anyone vital healthcare when most needed.
Imagine being denied travel permission for any reason for not being Jewish. Even getting it requires enduring punishing permit permission bureaucracy - at times when urgency requires immediate care.
"One simply cannot accept a reality where individuals are denied access to the medical treatment they need due to political considerations," said PHR-I.
"Israel's use of practices limiting or preventing access to medical services as a tool to oppress the Palestinians must cease."
Obstructing vitally needed healthcare compromises the "right to life and dignity," said PHR-I. Denial of fundamental human rights is longstanding Israeli practice. So is collective punishment for praying to the wrong God. 
Ability to access healthcare anywhere is one of many fundamental rights Israel denies Palestinians. Vicious persecution substitutes for equitable treatment and justice everyone deserves.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
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. 



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