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NYT Reinvents Obama's Disgraceful Legacy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 23:45
NYT Reinvents Obama’s Disgraceful Legacy
by Stephen Lendman
No US president promised more and delivered less. None did more harm to more people at home and abroad.
None more disgraced his high office. None more warrant prosecution and imprisonment for high crimes of war and against humanity.
Not according to NYT editors, reinventing Obama’s legacy, praising instead of condemning him.
The Times: He “pull(ed) the nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression…”
Fact: He created a protracted Main Street Depression by serving Wall Street, war-profiteers and other corporate predators exclusively while letting essential homeland needs go begging.
The Times: He “preserv(ed) or creat(ed) an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years.”
Fact: He thirdworldized America, made it like Guatemala for most people, created mass poverty, unemployment and underemployment, cut benefits for people most in need, while the vast majority of jobs created on his watch were rotten low-pay, part-time ones with few or no benefits.
The Times laughably equated his destructive domestic agenda to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. It was polar opposite - serving privileged interests exclusively, ignoring public ones.
His Affordable Care Act is an unaffordable scam. His education agenda is privatization for corporate profit-making. His labor reform is denying workers fundamental rights.
His environmental agenda is drill, baby, drill, damn the consequences. His promised transparency is the most secretive Machiavellian regime in US history. His open society is the most spied on. His notion of freedom is eliminating it one police state law and executive order at a time.
The Times: “Americans will miss (his) negotiating skills on tough issues and the dignity and character (he) brought to the White House.”
Fact: He’s a disgraceful con man, a world-class thug, a menace to humanity, contemptuous of fundamental rights.
He raped and destroyed one country after another, waged war on truth-telling, punished more whistleblowers than all previous US presidents combined, appointed himself judge, jury and executioner to murder anyone he wished, including US citizens. His kill list mocked due process and habeas rights.
He institutionalized indefinite detentions by executive order, a major constitutional breach. On his say alone, anyone can be arrested and indefinitely detained uncharged and untried forever. 
He kept Guantanamo and other US global torture prisons operating, detainees denied all fundamental rights. Extreme abuse of power replaced rule of law principles on his watch - hardening Bush/Cheney policies.
He replaced political, economic and social justice with force-fed austerity and endless wars of aggression - governing under a police state apparatus. He made democracy a four-letter word.
He didn’t give a damn about ordinary people anywhere and it showed - the hallmark of a fascist despot.
The Times’ attempt to reinvent his disgraceful legacy fell flat!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Trump's First Foreign Visit to Meet Putin?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 23:34
Trump’s First Foreign Visit to Meet Putin?
by Stephen Lendman
Citing a London Sunday Times report, The Hill and Bloomberg said Trump’s first foreign trip as president is expected to be a summit with Vladimir Putin within weeks of his inauguration.
If the report is accurate, both leaders will meet in Reykjavik, Iceland. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied it, tweeting “not true - report is 100% false.” A second tweet said “Nope, not true.”
According to the Sunday Times, Trump will meet with Putin at a neutral venue “very soon” to begin working on a deal to reduce numbers of nuclear weapons by both countries.
Reykjavik is symbolic, where Reagan and Gorbachev met on October 11 and 12, 1986. Though talks ended with no agreement, progress achieved led to the bilateral 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a significant achievement.  
Reversing enormous damage in Russian/US relations by Bush/Cheney and Obama would be a historic achievement if accomplished.
Rapprochement with Russia, China and Iran is essential to have any chance for world peace and stability. Trump’s geopolitical agenda won’t be known until it begins unfolding once in office.
If America won’t to live in peace with all other countries, especially key ones, we’re all doomed.
A Russia/US summit early in Trump’s first year in office, easing tensions and indicating a desire for mutual cooperation, would be a major step back from the brink. Hopefully it’s in the works.
A Final Comment
Icelandic Foreign Minister Godhlaugur Thor Thordharson said his government “has not yet received a request regarding this meeting.” 
“If officials in Washington turn to the Icelandic government with a formal request to organize a summit in Reykjavik, we will take it positively and turn it to our contribution to the improvement of relations between the US and Russia as it was at the Hofdi house in 1986.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Calling Trump Illegitimate Part of a Coup Plot

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 22:37
Declaring Trump Illegitimate Part of a Coup Plot
by Stephen Lendman
Whatever his intended domestic and geopolitical agenda, he’s America’s legitimately elected president. That won’t change once in office and begins serving.
Calling him illegitimate is contemptuous and extremely dangerous. Rep. John Lewis (D. GA) disgraced himself, destroying his credibility, saying “I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president.”
“I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians, and others, that helped him get elected.”
Lewis and everyone in Washington knows, or should know, there was no conspiracy, no Russian hacking, no attempt on the part of Russia or any other country or group or individuals to get Trump elected by foul means.
Lewis flat-out lied on national television, a cheap pro-Hillary stunt, hoping to benefit politically by joining the anti-Trump bandwagon vocally.
He shamed himself, deceitfully ranting “the Russians participated in having this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don’t plan to attend the Inauguration.”
“I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians, and others, that helped him get elected. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open, democratic process.”
That’s a Big Lie. So is claiming an open, democratic process - in name only, not reality. Trump responded in separate tweets, saying “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the US I can use all the help I can get!”
He “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,”
“All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!”
Republican strategist Doug Heye blasted Trump opponents, claiming the election wasn’t legitimate and won’t be accepted, calling the reaction “dangerous and unpatriotic. (The) same people are trying to delegitimize Trump and say that he shouldn’t be…president.”
Friday’s inauguration will be a uniquely partisan affair. It’s unclear how many Democrat congressional members aren’t coming - expressing sour grapes over Hillary not attaining what she arrogantly believed she was entitled to.
Humanity exhaled with her defeat. A nuclear bullet was dodged - provided Trump improves ties with Russia, avoids confrontation with China, and cools his rhetoric on Iran.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Yemen: Obama's Little Reported Dirty War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 22:26
Yemen: Obama’s Little Reported Dirty War
by Stephen Lendman
Yemen is Obama’s war, one of endless ones he waged throughout his tenure - complicit with Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, NATO and Israel.
After nearly two years of fighting in Yemen, deaths and injuries far exceed reported numbers, civilians mostly affected. Largely ignored US planned and orchestrated genocide is occurring in plain sight, human suffering beyond comprehension.
Humanitarian crisis conditions affect around 80% of Yemenis. Saudi/US enforced blockade of the country prevents food, medicines and other essentials from reaching millions - ignored by media scoundrels. 
Few Americans have any idea about what’s going on in their name - exacerbated by covert US/UK drone war, largely massacring civilians.
According to Jen Gibson, staff attorney for the UK-based Reprieve human rights group:
“For years, (Britain’s) government has denied any involvement in (the) US covert drone war in Yemen, saying it’s ‘a matter for the states involved.’ “
“It’s now beyond dispute the UK is one of those states - working hand in glove with the Americans to create the very ‘kill list’ that drives those strikes.” 
“Even more disturbing, the UK has copied wholesale the US model of outsourcing the military to the intelligence agencies in order to hide their involvement and avoid any accountability.”
America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6 are involved with the Saudis and other rogue states in waging genocidal war on Yemen - millions at risk from war, related violation, preventable diseases and starvation on an appalling scale.
Nearly two years of conflict devastated the region’s poorest country, most of its people in dire need.
RT’s Arabic-language crew visited one of Yemen’s hardest hit areas, Tuhayat on the Red Sea coast, saying residents live in “quiet desperation,” urgently needing help not forthcoming.
The mother of a gravely emaciated eight-year-old boy said “(w)e have no energy left, and I have no money with which to treat my child.” Millions of Yemenis endure similar dire conditions.
Fishing for Tuhayat residents used to be their main source of revenue and sustenance. Blockaded coastal areas prevent fishermen from going to sea. Any trying risk death from hostile fire.
Will Trump change Obama’s genocidal policy once in office? Will he end America’s Middle East wars or continue them? 
Will he serve responsibly or be just another dirty politician? We’ll know more once he’s inaugurated and begins serving.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Syria Responds to Israeli Aggression

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 22:09
Syria Responds to Israeli Aggression
by Stephen Lendman
In response to Israel’s overnight Friday terror-bombing of Syria’s Mezzeh military airport, an army spokesman said “Syria(’s) army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators.”
Syria’s Foreign Ministry sent identical letters to newly appointed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Security Council president Olof Skoog.
Words weren’t minced condemning what happened, following numerous previous Israeli acts of aggression - state terrorism against a sovereign independent country, attempting to provoke a Syrian military response leading to greater conflict than already.
The latest incident also aimed to undermine peace talks scheduled to begin in Astana, Kazakhstan on January 23.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Israeli aggression is jointly planned with Western and regional rogue states, wanting its sovereignty destroyed, hegemonic control replacing it.
The latest attack followed Aleppo’s liberation, continued advances by Syrian and allied forces on the ground, as well as upcoming peace talks.
Damascus called on the international community to intervene responsibly to halt Israeli aggression.
Following overnight Friday’s incident, Syrian General Rajab Deeb said government forces’ “first response to the Israeli aggression will be suppression of the dangerous terrorists affiliated with the Israeli regime in Beit Jen in the Western countryside of Damascus.”
Operations will be intensified, he said, with no further elaboration. Syria won’t be provoked into attacking Israel directly. Its overstretched military is no match against the US-supported IDF.
What’s ahead in Syria depends largely on Trump’s geopolitical agenda. 
If he diverges from Washington’s longstanding permanent war policy to focus more on rebuilding America, there’s hope for conflict resolution - as long as he’s able to avoid impeachment or assassination.
Challenging America’s military, industrial, scoundrel media complex makes him a marked man. If he goes the right way geopolitically, he may not be around very long.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Google Launches Key Transparency While a Trade-Off in WhatsApp Is Called a Backdoor

eff.org - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 13:17

The Guardian ran a sensational story on Friday claiming a backdoor was discovered in WhatsApp, enabling intelligence agencies to snoop on encrypted messages. Gizmodo followed up saying it's no backdoor at all, but reasonable, intended behavior. So what's really going on here?

The lost phone, lost message dilemma

The issue at question is WhatsApp's answer to the question of what applications should do when someone's phone number changes (or they reinstall their app, or switch phones).

Suppose Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with Bob's key K1. Alice's message is stored encrypted at the server until Bob can connect and download it. This behavior is required for any app that allows asynchronous communications (meaning you can send a message to somebody while they are offline), which nearly all popular messaging apps support.

Unfortunately, Bob just dropped his phone in a lake. Later on, Bob gets a new phone and reinstalls WhatsApp. On this new phone, the app will create a new key K2. There are two possible behaviors here:

  • Fail safe: The server can delete the queued message, since it was encrypted with K1, which no longer exists. Bob will never see the message. If Alice has turned on key change notifications, she will be warned that Bob is using a new key. She will be told that her message was not delivered and given the option to re-send it. This is what Signal does.
  • Proceed: The server will tell Alice's phone that Bob has a new key K2, and to please re-encrypt the message for K2. Alice's phone will do this, and Bob will get the message. If Alice has turned on key change notifications, she will then be warned that Bob's key had changed. This is what WhatsApp does.

Note that the second behavior makes the service seem more reliable: it's one less way a message can fail to be delivered.

The issue here is that the second behavior opens a security hole: Bob need not have actually lost his phone for the server to act as if he has lost it. Acting maliciously, the server could pretend that Bob's new key is a key that the server controls. Then, it will tell Alice about this new key, but will not give Alice a chance to intervene and prevent the message from being sent. Her phone will automatically re-send the message, which the server can now read. Alice will be notified and can later attempt to verify the new fingerprint with Bob, but by then it will be too late.

By contrast, the first behavior of failing safe prevents this potential attack vector. As far as reliability, however, it also introduces a case in which messages could fail to be delivered.

What to do if you use WhatsApp

If you are a high-risk user whose safety might be compromised by a single revealed message, you may want to consider alternative applications. As we mention in our Surveillance Self-Defense guides for Android and iOS, we don't currently recommend WhatsApp for secure communications.

But if your threat model can tolerate being notified after a potential security incident, WhatsApp still does a laudable job of keeping your communications secure. And thanks to WhatsApp's massive user base, using WhatsApp is not immediate evidence of secretive activity.

If you would like to turn on WhatsApp's key change notifications, go into Settings ? Account ? Security, and slide “Show security notifications” to the right.

In defense of security trade-offs

The difference between WhatsApp and Signal here is a case of sensible defaults. Signal was designed as a secure messaging tool first and foremost. Signal users are willing to tolerate lower reliability for more security. As anybody who's used Signal extensively can probably attest, these types of edge cases add up and overall the app can seem less reliable.

WhatsApp, on the other hand, was a massively popular tool before end-to-end encryption was added. The goal was to add encryption in a way that WhatsApp users wouldn't even know it was there (and the vast majority of them don't). If encryption can cause messages to not be delivered in new ways, the average WhatsApp user will see that as a disadvantage. WhatsApp is not competing with Signal in the marketplace, but it does compete with many apps that are not end-to-end encrypted by default and don't have to make these security trade-offs, like Hangouts, Allo, or Facebook Messenger, and we applaud WhatsApp for giving end-to-end encryption to everyone whether they know it's there or not.

Nevertheless, this is certainly a vulnerability of WhatsApp, and they should give users the choice to opt into more restrictive Signal-like defaults.

But it's inaccurate to the point of irresponsibility to call this behavior a backdoor.

This is a classic security trade-off. Every communication system must make security trade-offs. Perfect security does no good if the resulting tool is so difficult that it goes unused. Famously, PGP made few security trade-offs early on, and it appears to be going the way of the dodo as a result.

Ideally, users should be given as much control as possible. But WhatsApp has to set defaults, and their choice is defensible.

Detecting bad behavior more easily with Key Transparency

Coincidentally, Google just announced the launch of its new Key Transparency project. This project embraces a big security trade-off: given that most users will not verify their contacts' key fingerprints and catch attacks before they happen, the project provides a way to build guarantees into messaging protocols that a server's misbehavior will be permanently and publicly visible after the fact. For a messaging application, this means you can audit a log and see exactly which keys the service provider has ever published for your account and when.

This is a very powerful concept and provides additional checks on the situation above: Bob and anyone else with the appropriate permissions will know if his account has been abused to leak the messages that Alice sent to him, without having to verify fingerprints.

It's important to note that transparency does not prevent the server from attacking: it merely ensures that attacks will be visible after the fact to more people, more readily. For a few users, this is not enough, and they should continue to demand more restrictive settings to prevent attacks at the cost of making the tool more difficult to use. But transparency can be a big win as a remedy against mass surveillance of users who won't tolerate any reduction in user experience or reliability for the sake of security.

Adding key transparency will not prevent a user from being attacked, but it will catch a server that's carried out an attack.

We are still a long way from building the perfect usable and secure messaging application, and WhatsApp, like all such applications, has to make tradeoffs. As the secure messaging community continues to work towards the ideal solution, we should not write off the current batch as being backdoored and insecure in their imperfect but earnest attempts.


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Extremist Israeli Settlers Invited to Trump's Inauguration

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 03:22
Extremist Israeli Settlers Invited to Trump’s Inauguration
by Stephen Lendman
Settlers live illegally on stolen Palestinian land. It’s like you or I taking over a neighbor’s home, expelling its owner, claiming it as our own henceforth - a flagrantly lawless act.
Settler leaders and their followers are zionist zealots, members of Israel’s lunatic fringe. Yesha Council chairman Oded Revivi is among those leading a settler delegation to Trump’s inauguration. 
It’s a militantly hardline racist group, committed to unlimited settlement expansions, wanting Palestinians displaced toward achieving an exclusively Jewish Greater Israel.
Revivi said he looks forward to working “with our new friends in the White House.” Trump chose two zionist zealots to represent him on Israel - David Friedman as US ambassador and Jason Greenblat as international negotiator, overseeing future dead-on-arrival Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, relations with Cuba and trade agreements.
Palestinians will continue having no friends in Washington, Trump appearing to be even more one-sided for Israel than his predecessors.
Netanyahu wasn’t invited to Washington despite earlier reports suggested he’d be coming. An unnamed source said Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner tried arranging for both leaders to meet during the inaugural period.
Trump invited Netanyahu to Washington at his “first opportunity.” Israel’s prime minister suggested he might be coming. Both leaders spoke several times since’s Trump’s election, no invitation so far extended to Netanyahu, according to reports.
America’s president-elect called Israel very important to protect - from what he didn’t explain. Like Washington, its only enemies are ones it invents.
Netanyahu cancelled January 18 plans to attend the Davos World Economic Forum. He’s got his hands full at home, interrogated by police.
He’s trying to avoid being charged with bribery, fraud, perjury, breach of trust, and violating campaign finance rules for being caught on tape negotiating a quid pro quo with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes for more favorable broadsheet coverage in return for legislation prohibiting distribution of the free daily Israel Hayom, YA’s main competitor.
Trump affording him strong support is bad news for Palestinians, worse news for regional and world peace.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

HRW Praises Obama, Denigrates Trump, Putin and Assad

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 15/01/2017 - 03:10
HRW Praises Obama, Denigrates Trump, Putin and Assad
by Stephen Lendman
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and likeminded groups get Soros, Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie and other dirty corporate money. It comes with strings to serve powerful Western interests.
HRW director Kenneth Roth is a former federal prosecutor. Former HRW head Aryeh Neier left to become Soros’ Open Society Institute president.
In his lengthy introduction to HRW’s 2017 World Report, Roth addressed what he called a new generation of authoritarian populists, saying they pose “a profound threat to human rights.”
“Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism. They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”
Maybe he’ll turn out a rogue leader. Until he assumes office, it’s unknown what he’ll do. Campaign rhetoric is one thing, governing another.
Obama’s despicable record is indisputable. Yet Roth praised him, ignoring his high crimes at home and abroad, disgracefully calling him a human right supporter.
He turned truth on its head, calling Putin an “authoritarian rule(r)…a strongman…pursu(ing) the toughest crackdown on critical voices in two decades,” providing no evidence supporting his baseless accusations.
He ignored his overwhelming popularity, lied about his “occupation of Crimea,” lied about “his military backing Assad’s slaughter of civilians, with Russian bombers joining in,” lied about Russia’s economy “deteriorat(ing) further,” lied about him having a hard time “sell(ing) (his) message to the Russian public.”
Aided by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, he claimed Assad has “little to fear” from the West. He ignored Obama’s war, the overwhelming popularity of Syria’s leader, his responsibility to combat terrorist invaders.
He repeated the long-ago discredited canard about Syrian forces “ruthlessly attack(ing) civilians in opposition-held parts of the country, including eastern Aleppo.”
Syria was raped and destroyed by US-led aggression, one of history’s great crimes. Roth disgracefully called the country “the deadliest threat to rights standards.”
He ignored US and so-called coalition warplanes terror-bombing government sites, vital infrastructure, civilian areas and Syrian forces on the phony pretext of combating ISIS Washington created and supports.
He lied about Syria using so-called “barrel bombs, cluster munitions…and chemical weapons.” He lied about its forces “la(ying) waste to vast stretches of Syria’s cities with the aim of depopulating them to make it harder for opposition (sic) forces to operate there.”
He lied about Assad imposing “deadly sieges designed to starve the civilian population into surrender.” Syrians when freed from bondage as human shields by US-supported terrorists thank him and government forces for liberating them.
Roth lied accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes. He lied claiming their operations are mainly responsible for displacing half the nation’s population.
He lied blaming “Assad’s forces and his allies…for…90 percent of Syrian civilian deaths.” He lied blaming Russia for failed peace talks, ignoring US obstructionism.
He’s disturbed at the prospect of Trump cooperating with Putin in combating terrorism. He lied claiming Russia has done practically nothing to combat ISIS.
He said almost nothing about ruthless atrocities committed by US-supported terrorists, including multiple instances of chemical weapons use.
Roth is a voice for wealth, power and privilege. HRW is paid to produce reports, largely blaming victims for Western high crimes committed against.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Trump's Policy on Russia and China?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 22:42
Trump’s Policy on Russia and China?
by Stephen Lendman
Next week he’ll become America’s 45th president, an awesome responsibility for anyone, especially having to deal with bipartisan neocons infesting Washington - hell-bent for endless wars of aggression, seeking unchallenged US global dominance. 
Whatever Trump said on the stump no longer matters. Once in office, his agenda will speak for itself.
In a Friday Wall Street Journal  interview, he said he’s open to lifting sanctions on Russia if we get along, but not straightaway, saying if Moscow “is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”
He referred to Russia’s involvement in combating terrorism and cooperating with Washington on other issues without further elaboration.
He’s open to meet with Putin once in office, saying it’s “absolutely fine with” him. Asked about America’s One-China policy, he said everything is under negotiation. 
He won’t commit to longstanding policy unless Beijing’s trade and currency practices change, hardly likely. He irresponsibly called China a currency manipulator. He’ll discuss these and other issues with President Xi Jinping before deciding what actions he’ll take.
He’s willing to end what Beijing calls “the cornerstone of the healthy development of (Sino/US) relations…” Its government wants no “interference or destruction of this political foundation.”
China’s Foreign Ministry so far hasn’t commented on Trump’s Journal interview. His views aren’t surprising. His actions remain to be seen.
Getting along with Russia and China are crucial. Adversarial relations with either or both countries risks unthinkable confrontation, possible nuclear war, America as vulnerable to mass destruction as its adversaries.
Nuclear war is madness. Only deranged leaders would launch it. The risk was huge if Hillary emerged triumphant last November.
Trump’s top priority isn’t making America “great again.” It’s fostering world peace, stability and security. Without them, nothing else matters.
French National Assembly defense committee member Nicolas Dhuicq earlier said he believes Trump will move toward cooperation with Russia while focusing on China as a rising world power.
Trump said, if elected, he’d “instruct the US trade representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the World Trade Organization.”
On Friday, Obama extended earlier imposed sanctions on Russia for another year, beginning in March.
He lied, saying Moscow “continue(s) to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
He’s going all out to toughen US policy on Russia before leaving office, posing a challenge for Trump on how to undo the immense damage he’s done - especially with Congress wanting adversarial relations maintained.
Most Americans have no idea about the dangers of reckless US foreign policy since Soviet Russia’s dissolution.
Humanity’s survival is threatened without a way found to stop this madness. Is Trump up to the challenge? Is he part of the solution or continuation of reckless policy?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Patterns of Abuse by Chicago Cops

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 22:28
Patterns of Abuse by Chicago Cops
by Stephen Lendman
Chicago notoriously is called America’s police repression capital - Black and Latino male youths most affected.
They’re harassed, abused, beaten, arrested, detained and often murdered unaccountably. An earlier article discussed Gitmo in Chicago, an off-the-books, anything goes interrogation compound - the equivalent of a CIA black site.
Mostly Black youths are sent there - lawlessly arrested, detained, denied access to attorneys for a day or longer, and brutally tortured during secret interrogations. Fractured skulls, broken bones, and teeth knocked out are common practices.
Rogue cops get away with virtually anything, including cold-blooded murder. Abuses are longstanding in detention throughout the city in minority communities. Practices go on unaccountably.
On January 13, the Justice Department released a report following months of investigating Chicago Police Department (CPD) abuses.
It accused the CPD of “engag(ing in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.”  
“The department found that CPD officers’ practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force.”  
“The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.”
Outgoing attorney general Loretta Lynch laughably said one of her highest priorities is “to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent.”
America’s federal, state and local gulag prison system denies it to virtually all inmates, notably ones of color. Lynch claiming the DOJ is working with Chicago police to build “a stronger, safer, and more united (city) for all who call it home” is ludicrous, given decades of abusive practices without responsible change.
Chicago residents of color have no trust in city cops, especially Black males, victims of police brutality no DOJ action will change.
City authorities and police agreeing to work with DOJ officials represents no “historic turning point” from longstanding abusive practices.
As long as America’s racist society remains unchanged, abusing Blacks and Latinos will continue unaccountably.
The DOJ investigated the CPD and Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), “focus(ing) on CPD’s use of force, including racial, ethnic and other disparities in use of force, and its systems of accountability.”
Interviews were conducted with city authorities, current and former police officials, cops of all ranks, community members and dozens of organizations.
Thousands of pages of police documents were reviewed, including policies, training and other materials. Racial discrimination is rampant, Blacks and Latinos prime targets for abuse.
Changing Chicago’s culture is impossible without sweeping, revolutionary change not forthcoming. 
If new investigations are conducted a year or two from now, similar disturbing practices will be discovered - Black and Latino youths continuing to be abused unaccountably.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Fake News Report Suggests Assad Ordered Chemical Weapons Use

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 22:16
Fake News Report Suggests Assad Ordered Chemical Weapons Use
by Stephen Lendman
An exclusive Reuters report spuriously suggested Assad, his brother Maher, and other high-ranking Syrian officials ordered use of toxic chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015.
A Syrian government official debunked the claim, saying it has “no basis in truth.” It’s part of longstanding attempts to blame Syria for use of toxic agents frequently used by US-supported terrorists.
Pointing fingers the wrong way came from a UN/Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry, lacking credibility.
The report was strategically leaked ahead of January 23 peace talks, one of a number of attempts to undermine them. So far, it hasn’t been made public. Reuters said it’s “unable to independently review the (alleged) evidence or to verify it.”
The so-called Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) was comprised of three alleged independent experts, along with technical and administrative personnel.
Its mandate was to identify individuals and groups responsible for CW attacks in Syria. Volumes of evidence show only US-backed terrorists use them, nothing credible suggesting Syrian government or military use.
JIM head Virginia Gamba denied the team’s inquiry named suspects. “There are no…identification of individuals being considered at this time,” she said.
The report only identified 15 individuals “to be scrutinized in relation to use of CW(s) by the Syrian Arab Republic Armed Forces in 2014 and 2015.” It says nothing about what anyone may have actually done.
It’s part of an Obama administration-led smear campaign, the UN and OPCW complicit in suggesting Syrian involvement in using CWs, despite no credible evidence proving it.
The report leaked to Reuters is fake news. Discount it entirely. Russia will block any Western Security Council draft resolution to bring Assad and other Syrian officials before the International Criminal Court based on fabricated charges.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Russia Invites Trump's National Security Advisor to Syria Peace Talks

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 22:01
Russia Invites Trump’s National Security Advisor to Syria Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Moscow’s good faith outreach to Washington on resolving conflicts in Syria and Ukraine failed because Obama and neocons infesting his administration want war, not peace.
Will Trump’s geopolitical agenda diverge from longstanding US policy? Will he choose peacemaking over endless wars? It’s unlikely, but hope springs eternal.
On January 23, peace talks to try resolving Syria’s conflict begin in Astana, Kazakhstan, arranged by Russia, Iran and Turkey, the Obama administration excluded, a deliberate snub.
Scheduling the meeting three days after Trump’s inauguration reflects Russia’s attempt to begin working with him straightaway on Syria once in office, talks on Ukraine likely to follow.
On December 28, Russia’s ambassador in Washington Sergey Kislyak invited Trump’s national security adviser designee Michael Flynn to participate in Astana talks.
Putin extended good faith outreach to the incoming US president, hoping for improved bilateral relations once he takes office.
It’s unknown so far if Flynn or any incoming Trump official will participate in Astana talks. Turkish President Erdogan said America would be involved.
At his Wednesday confirmation hearing, Trump’s Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson said “Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran are dictating the terms of how things are going to play out in Syria today, absent our participation.” 
He urged greater US involvement, while disturbingly saying cooperation with Iran in Syria “is contrary to American interests,” not an encouraging sign.
Obama launched premeditated war on Syria, naked aggression under international and US constitutional law. He and other extremists infesting his administration deplore conflict resolution - undermining Geneva I, II, and III talks, along with supporting anti-Assad terrorists to assure endless war on their watch.
As of Friday, it’s Trump’s call on what’s ahead for Syria and America’s overall geopolitical agenda.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

How to Talk to Congress

eff.org - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 10:17

As this year begins with a new president and new Congress taking power, more people than ever want to know how to make their voices heard in Congress. As the Legislative Counsel at EFF, my job is to help the organization and our supporters reach out to Congress more effectively. We've put together this guide in order to share some of our findings about how best to impact decisions in government. This represents years of trial and error at EFF as well as my own experience working in Congress and Washington, D.C. for a number of years before joining the organization.

What Is the Best Way to Communicate with Congress?

At EFF, we have had success asking our supporters to call their lawmakers, email them, and contact them over social media. Each tactic has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation.

When an issue is time-sensitive—for example, a vote in the coming days—you have to pick up the phone and call your representative and two senators to voice your opinion. All other forms of communication such as emails, faxes, and letters take an office weeks to process before they are ever seen by a decision-maker.

Social media campaigns (Twitter campaigns, posts on lawmakers' Facebook pages, etc.) can also be powerful, both because they spread the word publicly and because many staffers are watching social media streams. Each tweet may not have as much impact as a phone call (and we recommend you do both), but when thousands of people participate at once, these campaigns can and do make a difference, particularly when elected officials are contemplating how an issue is covered by the press. Some members of Congress actively watch their own Twitter and Facebook feeds—there have even been times when lawmakers have directly referred to our social media campaigns in their arguments on the floor of Congress. One drawback of social media campaigns is that it can be difficult for lawmakers to tell which tweets are coming from their own constituents.

Twitter campaigns are sometimes the last option when there is very little time left before a vote. Phone calls are typically tallied at the end of the day, whereas an outpouring on Twitter might be noticed in real time the same day as a vote.

In more long-term situations—say, demanding oversight over a federal agency, supporting a bill that is not scheduled for a vote, or demanding that your elected official take a policy position—you can send in an email and meet with the district office (or Washington office if you are traveling there). EFF created a tool called democracy.io to make it as easy as possible for people to write to their members of Congress.

Quality is important: the more personal the communication, the more impact it has on the elected official's thinking. In our Action Center campaigns, we usually provide default text to use in your letter, but we encourage you to edit it to reflect your own experience. We've also seen that referencing recent news articles in your emails or letters can be helpful. Be sure that you also reference the specific bill number you're writing about, and say that you are a constituent. And if you have time, sending a physical letter through snail mail can add a personal touch.

Lastly, one of the most powerful ways to talk to a member of Congress is to attend their townhall meetings and speak to them directly. These are usually hosted when Congress is not in session (see the calendar for 2017 here) and are announced through the member's online newsletter, which you can subscribe to by visiting their website. Townhalls are typically announced 1 to 3 days before they are hosted, so you need to be vigilant. Meeting with staff at the district office or in Washington, D.C., is valuable in conveying public opinion. Those can be set up at any time simply by calling the office (every office line is listed on their congressional website) and asking for a meeting. Just make sure you are calling the right office (go here to look up your House representatives. and go here for your senators) because, again, they will only want to hear from their constituents. For more information on how to set up and prepare for a meeting with a congressional staffer, see our page on contacting Congress.

How are Congressional Offices Structured to Process Public Opinion?

Every member of Congress has two sets of offices, one in Washington, D.C., and district offices in areas where their constituents live. D.C. staffers are responsible for researching and advising senators and representatives on the hundreds of issues Congress covers each year. For virtually every bill that goes through Congress, each member will have a staffer responsible for researching and advising them on that bill. Staffers' advice is influenced by a variety of sources such as local press coverage, national press, research papers, personal experience, lobbyists, and most importantly, voter opinion back home. In addition to these policy staffers, every office has a group of staff who receive your communication (email, phone calls, or letters) and ensure that you get a response. See below for information on how to interpret those responses.

The district office is staffed by people who do "casework;" essentially, that means they work on helping voters back home navigate and understand the federal government services available to them. Sometimes a district staffer will also be the subject matter expert, but that's the exception. That doesn't mean your opinion won't be heard back home, though: district staffers are responsible for meeting with voters and delivering their opinions to the right staff who will help get you a response. If you want to meet with an office in person and don't plan to travel to D.C., you should meet with the district office.

Does My Member of Congress Read My Communication?

This is one of the most common questions we get about Congress. The answer is that it depends on the member. We can say two things for certain, though. First, Congress will never hear you if you never communicate with it. Second, every communication is read and processed in some manner to keep the member informed about what voters back home think.

I have personally worked for a member of Congress who read every single new letter that came to the office and was directly involved with staff-drafted responses. In other words, when a constituent wrote about an issue that was new to the office, the member read the letter and approved the response letter. Once the member's position on an issue was established, staffers could reuse previous responses. These are called form-letter responses.

To give an example of how this works, imagine going into the district office to meet with a staffer to voice your opinion on an EFF issue such as defending encryption. That district staffer may not know the details of the issue or what experts are saying, but they will take notes about your opinion and then send that to the D.C. office so that you get a response. Once your communication is received in D.C., the staff responsible for encryption as a policy matter will check if the member of Congress has taken a position in a form letter they approved and then will immediately send it your way. If they do not have an approved response, then the legislative staff responsible for the issue will be involved in writing a response for approval and will send it through a process to formalize the public statement of that member of Congress. At the end of that process, you can be sure that the written statement you receive represents their official position and that your communication is directly involved in the decision-making process.

Every letter, phone call, or email you send is absolutely critical because frankly, most people do not take the time to contact Congress. When people do rally in sizable numbers, no amount of special interest and campaign contributions can override the perceived opinion of voters back home and how that impacts an elected official's electoral concerns. The more confident a member of Congress feels in the number of people who will vote for them back home if they vote their way, the more resistant they become to opposing influence.

I Got a Response, What Does It Mean?

There are two kinds of letters congressional offices send back to voters. One is crystal clear about their position on the issue because they have settled on their opinion (though that can always be changed with enough of a push from voters back home) and the other is less clear. The "undecided" responses recite various facts about the issue and then conclude with stating that they will "keep your thoughts in mind" or something to that effect. These types of letters happen because the member of Congress remains undecided or simply does not want to take a public position at that time.

Until you have a firm commitment that is favorable to you established by your elected official, you should assume that you have to continue to advocate as a voter and organize others to do the same. Many issues worth fighting for do not get resolved quickly; they require sustained activism on the part of voters to really bring about change. That being said, movements that are persistent, motivated, and widespread regularly bring about changes in law or stop bad changes from happening in Congress. The only parties that do not want you to believe you can make change happen are the special interests that reside in D.C. because they depend on voters back home being silent.

How Do I Get Started and Join the Fight with EFF?

At EFF, we are preparing for the new congressional session and administration and will aggressively fight for your constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, as well as protecting a free and open Internet. However, all of our work depends on you augmenting our voice with your support. So please sign up for our action alerts, make those calls and send those emails when we put out the word, follow what is going on in Congress on our blog, and most importantly, organize your friends and family to join you in standing up for free speech, promoting innovation, and ending the surveillance state.


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Categories: Aggregated News

EFF to Court: Don't Let California Gag IMDb

eff.org - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 08:48

California is trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available information about actors in the name of age discrimination. But one online service, IMDb, is fighting back. EFF and four other public interest organizations have filed in a friend of the court brief in the case, urging the court not to allow celebrities to wipe truthful information about them from the Internet.

IMDb.com v. Harris challenges the constitutionality of California Civil Code section 1798.83.5, which took effect January 1, 2017. That law requires “commercial online entertainment employment service providers” to remove an actor’s date of birth or age information from their websites upon request. The purported purpose of the law is to prevent age discrimination by the entertainment industry. The “providers” covered are those which “owns, licenses, or otherwise possesses computerized information, including, but not limited to, age and date of birth information, about individuals employed in the entertainment industry, including television, films, and video games, and that makes the information available to the public or potential employers.” Under the law, IMDB.com, which meets this definition because of its IMDB Pro service, would be required to delete age information from all of its websites, not just its subscription service.

As we wrote in our brief, and as we and others urged the California Legislature when it was considering the law, the law is clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment provides near absolute protection to publish truthful information about a matter of public interest. And the rule has extra force when the truthful information is contained in official governmental records, such as local government’s vital records, which contain dates of birth.

This rule, sometimes called the Daily Mail rule after the Supreme Court opinion from which it originates, is an extremely important free speech protection. It gives publishers the confidence to publish important information even when they know that others want it suppressed. The rule also supports the First Amendment rights of the public to receive newsworthy information.

Our brief emphasizes that although IMDb may have a financial interest in challenging the law, the public too has a strong interest in this information remaining available. Indeed, if age discrimination in Hollywood is really such a compelling issue, and EFF does not doubt that it is, then hiding age information from the public makes it difficult for people to participate in the debate on the issue, form their own opinions, and scrutinize their government’s response to it.

Joining EFF on the brief are the First Amendment Coalition, Media Law Resource Center, Wikimedia Foundation, and Center for Democracy and Technology.


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Categories: Aggregated News

Disturbing Tillerson and Mattis Rhetoric on Russia and China

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 04:06
Disturbing Tillerson and Mattis Rhetoric on Russia and China
by Stephen Lendman
In his confirmation hearing, secretary of state designee Rex Tillerson provocatively told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members  “(w)e are going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
He unjustifiably accused China of “declaring control of territories …not rightfully” its own. He called Russia “danger(ous),” saying “(o)ur allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.”
Asked if he thinks Putin is a war criminal, he said “(t)hose are very very serious charges to make, and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion.”
Commenting on NATO, he called its mandate to defend alliance members if attacked “inviolable.” He urged “open and frank dialogue” with Russia on issues of mutual concern. He stopped short of indicating what US foreign policy will be under Trump.
Secretary of Defense designee James (“mad dog”) Mattis told Senate Armed Services Committee members that Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea threaten the global order. “The bottom line is that international waters are international waters, and we have got to figure out how do we deal with holding on to the kind of rules that we have made over many years that led to the prosperity for many nations, not just for ours,” he said, adding:
“I think (the world order)is under the biggest attack since world war two…and that is from Russia, from terrorist groups, and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”
Blocking Chinese access to its own territory, along with its right to develop it and operate there as it wishes is a prescription for direct confrontation - disturbing talk hopefully Trump won’t tolerate.
China’s reaction was muted in light of Obama’s tenure near ending, Trump’s yet to begin, waiting to assess his geopolitical agenda once it becomes apparent.
Beijing’s ambassador to America Cui Tiankai said his government looks forward to “more robust, stable and fruitful” ties with Washington. “I hope both sides will work together for…mutual respect and cooperation for win-win Sino-US relations. I also hope all people can work for it constructively.”
Hopefully Trump will abandon irresponsible claims about “Russia aggression.” None exists - not now or earlier. Accusations otherwise are Big Lies.
Washington has no right to meddle in a part of the world not its own. China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying earlier said America should avoid “risky and provocative approaches to maintain regional peace and stability.”
She stressed China will defend its territorial sovereignty if threatened. Unauthorized intrusions will be challenged.
On January 13, China’s state-owned Global Times said “(u)nless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish.”
“The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson (and Mattis) had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if (they want) to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”
Trump is under enormous pressure to maintain adversarial relations with Russia along with advancing Obama’s Asia pivot confrontationally with China. 
World peace depends on him going another way. Is he strong-willed enough to do it? We’ll begin learning his geopolitical policies once they begin to unfold.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Presidential Medal of Freedom Replicates Nobel Hypocrisy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 14/01/2017 - 03:47
Presidential Medal of Freedom Replicates Nobel Hypocrisy
by Stephen Lendman
America honors its worst, punishes its best - the way all rogue states operate.
Joe Biden is part of America’s criminal class, complicit in its high crimes of war and against humanity. Yet Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor - mocking what it claims to represent. One war criminal honored another.
An earlier article explained the award’s origination. On July 6, 1945, Harry Truman authorized awarding the Medal of Freedom “to any person.who, or on after December 7, 1941, has performed a meritorious act or service which has aided the United States in the prosecution of a war against an enemy or enemies and for which an award of another United States medal or decoration is considered inappropriate.”
On February 22, 1963, Jack Kennedy replaced it with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It’s awarded “for especially meritorious contributions to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
No nation is more contemptuous of lofty principles it espouses than America, none more ruthless, none more disdainful of peace, stability and rule of law principles, none more guilty of immeasurable human suffering worldwide.
Obama and Biden are war criminals, belonging in prison, not high office. Past honorees include a rogue’s gallery of unworthies, notably warriors, war criminals, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, corporate predators, and media scoundrels. Lots of celebrity figures also regularly win the award. 
Ordinary people and America’s best are snubbed. Fake news proliferator CNN tweeted “it was a perfect finish to a bromance for the ages.”
The citation accompanying the medal cited Biden’s “charm, candor, unabashed optimism and deep and abiding patriotism,” along with his “strength and grace to overcome great personal adversity” - calling him one of the most “consequential vice presidents in American history.”
Biden belongs in the dock for high crimes of war and against humanity, major “consequential” offenses for millions of US victims over the past eight years, millions more earlier, reflecting America’s sordid record of villainy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

US Ends Wet Foot, Dry Foot Immigration Policy for Cubans

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 23:10
US Ends Wet Foot, Dry Foot Immigration Policy for Cubans
by Stephen Lendman
The policy was a 1995 revision of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. It lets Cubans arriving in America seek residency after one year and eventual US citizenship. Others intercepted at sea are denied entry.
As of Obama’s Thursday announcement, the policy is null and void, Cubans to be treated like other immigrants henceforth - unless Trump intends reinstituting what Obama ended.
Also ending immediately is a program to lure Cuban doctors abroad to abandon their contractual missions and come to America.
Cuba agreed to admit its citizens with US deportation orders. The obvious question is why didn’t Obama institute this policy early in his tenure instead of waiting until its end. His 11th hour decision changed nothing else in US/Cuba relations.
His December 2014 pledge about “charting a new course on Cuba” concealed no fundamental change in US policy. Embargo, limited US travel and other restrictions remain in place. So does longstanding hostility toward Cuban sovereign independence.
Normalized relations aren’t possible without ending over half a century of lawless embargo. Obama doesn’t need congressional permission. Claiming otherwise is willful deception.
He can rescind Jack Kennedy’s 1962 executive order, prohibiting trade with US enemies, defined as “any individual (or) government of any nation” at war with America.
Cuba isn’t now or earlier a US enemy as defined under the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act. Neither country declared war on the other.
Embargo never should have been imposed in the first place, a shameful illegal act, violating UN Charter provisions and other international laws, affirming free trade and navigation.
Trump is unlikely to end it. During his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, secretary of state designee Rex Tillerson shamefully criticized Cuban human rights, saying Washington should hold its government “accountable for its record.”
“Supporting human rights in our foreign policy is a key component in making it clear to the world what the United States stands for,” Tillerson falsely claimed.
He has things backwards. No nation abuses human rights more egregiously at home and abroad than America.
While campaigning, Trump said he’d reverse Obama’s (dubious) diplomatic outreach by executive order unless Cuba’s government meets US demands - not an encouraging sign.
Both nations would benefit greatly from a new era of political, economic, commercial and financial normalization, unlikely based on comments by Trump and Tillerson.
Since 1960, embargo cost Cuba over $750 billion, according to its government - punishment for its sovereign independence, the fundamental right of all nations.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Israel Terror-Bombs Damascus Military Airport

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 22:55
Israel Terror-Bombs Damascus Military Airport
by Stephen Lendman
Washington and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes. Israel wouldn’t flagrantly attack another country without US permission and/or involvement.
Was attacking Mezzeh military airport west of Damascus around midnight on Friday a joint US/Israeli attempt to obstruct cessation of hostilities and conflict resolution? Will Trump put a stop to this once in office?
According to a Syrian army spokesman, missiles were fired from northern Israel. A military statement said “Syria(’s) army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators.”
Syrian media reported Israeli missiles fired “from inside the occupied territory,” setting the targeted site ablaze, a “desperate attempt…to support terrorist groups and raise their low morale.”
No information on possible casualties is known. Local media reported ambulances sent to the scene. Weeks earlier, a similar Israeli attack occurred on the same facility.
Syrian state television accused Israel of supporting terrorist groups waging war on the country. It reported large caches of weapons and ammunitions of Israeli origin seized in many areas.
Throughout nearly six years of conflict, Israel preemptively attacked targets in Syria multiple times, unsuccessful efforts to provoke a response to create a pretext for full-scale US-led NATO aggression, Israel involved - a scheme to break the back of Syrian resistance, facilitating Washington’s regime change objective.
Mezzeh military airport is around five kilometers southwest of Assad’s presidential palace. Israel neither confirms of denies reports of its military operations.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Disgraceful NYT Praise for Obama

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 22:40
Disgraceful NYT Praise for Obama
by Stephen Lendman
Just societies would have held him accountable long ago for high crimes too egregious to ignore. 
The NYT offered high praise for a war criminal multiple times over, a front man for monied interests over popular ones, a serial liar, a moral coward, a disgrace to his race and high office he’s held.
The Times: "The atmosphere at his self-styled farewell address reflected “calm in the midst of the storm, a rock of familiarity and stability and strength,” the handpicked audience “forlorn…realizing the magnitude of the moment, realizing the profundity of its loss.”
Fact: What utter rubbish, a disgusting perversion of truth. His tenure turned America into more of a pariah state than before he entered office. His war on humanity at home and abroad speaks for itself.
The Times: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
Fact: It’s far from gone. Obama’s legacy includes raping and destroying one country after another, loyally serving Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, thirdworldizing America, transforming poverty into a growth industry, creating mass unemployment, underemployment and human misery, the latter at home and abroad.
The Times: “(I)t is impossible to argue that Obama was not a man of principle…that he did not conduct himself with dignity and respect and that he did not lead the country with those values as a guiding light.”
Fact: Obama betrayed the public trust from day one in office, breaking every major promise made, saying one thing, his deplorable agenda entirely different.
Fact: His agenda showed contempt for democratic values and rule of law principles, governing under a police state apparatus, hardened throughout his tenure, consistently supporting might over right. Millions of casualties attest to his barbarity.
The Times: Obama is “a gentleman soldier…literate in the grand tradition of the great men of letters…scholarly, erudite, well read…an adroit writer…an orator for the ages…(T)he decency…solemnity…splendor…loftiness and literacy…Obama brought to the office was extraordinary…”
Fact: He’s a world class thug, a rogue head of a pariah state, contemptuous of fundamental human and civil rights, arguably the most pure evil president in US history. His high crimes have been well documented.
The Times: …”Obama was a good man and a good president. Some would argue that he was great on both counts.”
Only media scoundrels and damn fools would make such outlandish comments about Obama. His ruthless record speaks for itself. A special place in hell awaits him.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Paris Conference to Affirm Integrity of Palestine Within Pre-1967 Borders

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 13/01/2017 - 22:25
Paris Conference to Affirm Integrity of Palestine Within Pre-1967 Borders
by Stephen Lendman
On January 15, over 70 countries will meet in Paris, another futile attempt to revive Israeli/Palestinian peace talks.
They’re dead on arrival each time initiated because Israel rejects peace and stability. Years earlier, Netanyahu called peace talks “a waste of time.”
Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands. Palestinians have been ruthlessly slaughtered and persecuted for decades, Israeli ruthlessness under Netanyahu and his fascist-infested regime worst of all.
According to a draft statement AP News obtained, nations meeting in Paris will urge Israel and Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.”
It’s no longer possible with Israel controlling around 85% of historic Palestine, including all valued territory, Palestinians left with nothing but isolated bantustans, impossible to cobble together into a viable state.
The draft statement also affirms the international community “will not recognize” changes to Israel’s pre-1967 borders without agreement by both sides.
Well over 600,000 Israeli settlers reside on stolen Palestinian land. Security Council Resolution 2334 ruled all settlements illegal.
Sunday’s meeting will change nothing on the ground because no enforcement mechanism exists. Netanyahu called Sunday’s conference “rigged” against Israel. As foreign and prime minister, he won’t participate, blustering:
“This conference is a fraud, a Palestinian scam under French auspices, whose goal is to lead to the adoption of additional anti-Israeli positions.”
The draft statement calls for what’s impossible to achieve - both sides “demonstrat(ing), through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution and refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of final-status negotiations, in order to rebuild trust and create a path back to meaningful direct negotiations.”
A similar French conference last June, attended by foreign ministers from 30 countries, accomplished nothing. Nor will Sunday’s.
Decades of conflict won’t be resolved unless and until the international community affords long-suffering Palestinians justice they’ve long been denied, making Israel pay a stiff price for obstructing it.
Conferences and Security Council resolutions are useless without enforcement mechanisms with teeth backing them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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