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Freedom Walking for Palestine and BDS

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 11/10/2014 - 03:47
Freedom Walking for Palestine and BDS
by Stephen Lendman
In the 1960s, US Freedom Riders challenged racist injustice and related human rights abuses. Their activism made a difference.
They rode interstate buses across segregated southern states. They risked life and limb at times doing so.
They endured arrests for trespassing, unlawful assembly, as well as violating state and local Jim Crow laws.
They highlighted racial injustice. They did so because it matters. They provoked violent reactions. They bolstered civil rights activism.
They gave the Movement more credibility. More meaning when it was needed most.
They were special. They're history's heroes. They'll long be remembered. 
They included Stokely Carmichael, Rev. William Sloane Coffin and Freedom Rider initiator/organizer James L. Farmer, Jr.
In 1942, he co-founded the Committee on Racial Equality. It later became the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). 
It sought to end segregation in America nonviolently. The struggle for racial justice continues.
Australia-based activist/academic Marcelo Svirsky is a modern-day civil rights champion. He's a Middle East expert. His interests include decolonization.
His books include Collaborative Struggles in Australia and Israel-Palestine, After Israel: Towards Cultural Transformation, and Arab-Jewish Activism in Israel-Palestine.
He asks: "Should we boycott Israel?" Its genocidal Operation Protective Edge raised disturbing concerns on how the international community should respond to horrific high crimes against peace.
Repeating them whenever it wishes. Violating core international humanitarian laws. Irresponsibly blaming Palestinians for its wrongdoing.
Ignoring dozens of UN resolutions condemning its actions. Censuring them. Deploring them. Demanding they end. Calling for accountability. It remains nowhere in sight.
From October 2 - 10, Svirsky walked 178 miles from Sidney to Canberra. He did so for Palestinian rights.
Urging support for a petition to Australia's parliament. Promoting discussion of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
Asking Australia's government to obey its obligations under international law. Ones pertaining to longstanding Israeli militarized occupation, colonialism, and institutionalized racism.
According to Svirsky:
"I am using my love of walking for one of the world’s most socially just causes. Only international pressure by civil society, based on nonviolent means of Boycott can change the balance of power and eventually bring Israel to compromise."
"Along my route I’ve had an opportunity to educate about the BDS movement. At University of Wollongong (where he teaches), a large student meeting unanimously resolved that all students, staff and relevant trade unions be asked to support the BDS movement."
"Thousands of motorists have seen my banner. Conversations with passers by have given me the chance to explain my purpose, and along the way I've collected many more signatures."
Svirsky is a Jewish/Israeli academic expat. He believes activism works. He's appalled at what Palestinians endure.
He's walking for long denied justice. Because it matters. To enlist others to get involved responsibly.
He was born in Israel. He experienced inequality in childhood. Doing so focused him on social justice later on.
"As a Sergeant in the Israeli Combat Engineering Corps, I had seen so many abuses of Palestinians' basic human rights that I decided I should not continue support for the military and I signed a 'Courage to Refuse; letter," he said.
He respects the rights of all people, cultures, ethnicities, genders and racial backgrounds.
Ahead of his walk, he obtained permission from the Land Councils of La Perouse, Tharawal, Illawarra, Pejar and Ngambri to walk on their land.
Doing so showed respect. Concern for other peoples' rights. He's appalled at how Israel abuses them. Its self-righteous exceptionalism rubbish.
Its might over right ideology. Its outrageous treatment of Palestinians. Persecuting them for not being Jews.
Its belligerence. Its preemptive wars of choice. Its high crimes against peace. 
Its contempt for rule of law principles. Its longstanding unaccountability.
He left Israel six years ago. He believes subjugating Palestinians under militarized rule must end.
He supports BDS efforts to do so. In Australia, it's not easy. Its government supports Israel's worst crimes. 
Criticizing its policies is verboten. Doing so risks censure and/or public ostracism. Much like in America, Canada and many European countries.
Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights Richard Falk urges civil society "to join the growing global solidarity movement to resist the prolonged Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Palestine."
He did so in the wake of collapsed Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. They were dead on arrival.
They reflect the greatest hoax in modern times. Israel deplores peace and stability. Conflict, belligerence and daily violence serve its agenda.
"Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to (longstanding) conflict with human rights at its core," said Falk. 
"The best prospect for realizing Palestinian self-determination now is by way of pressures exerted through grassroots mobilization."
"We must strengthen the global solidarity movement, which includes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) initiative in relation to businesses that profit from the settlements, as well as other forms of non-violent resistance."
"Third party (UN) Member States…have an important responsibility to ensure they are not complicit in human rights violations in Occupied Palestine," he stressed.
"The facts on the ground speak for themselves."
Jewish Voice for Peace "focuses…on (BDS) campaigns that directly target Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip."
It believes it's "the most effective way for JVP to help bring about the aims we share with the Palestinian BDS call."
In September, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said if he and others hadn't "struggled so hard in the anti apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela would have died in jail." 
"The Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement is as important as the anti apartheid struggle. I urge you all to support it."
Svirsky forthrightly does so, saying: 
"I'm an Israeli Jew who rejects Israel's continuing subjugation of the Palestinians. I am fully committed to the principles of the BDS movement, and I encourage others to join this nonviolent action."
According to Sydney Peace Foundation founder Professor Stuart Rees:
"Amid the current political preoccupation with war and with the threat of terrorist attacks, the sight of one individual trekking for 10 days on behalf of another people's human rights signifies the value of non-violent protest and shows what humanity can mean."
He hopes Australian politicians will take time to read Svirsky's petition. Reflect on its principles "inherent in the BDS movement and summon courage to support it."
It requires a giant leap of faith to believe Western politicians anywhere (with rare exceptions) intend supporting right over wrong.
Washington isn't known for profiles in courage. Or Canada, Australia or European countries.
Svirsky is a modern-day Don Quixote. Regardless of long odds against him, he forthrightly supports right over wrong.
Ending Israeli occupation harshness. Universally recognizing Palestinian self-determination. 
Holding Israel accountable. Justice denied for so long. What better way than by BDS. It's more vital now than ever.
Israel waged genocidal war on Palestine for decades. Millions of Palestinian corpses, wounded, disabled and displaced bear testimony to its barbarism.
Accountability is long overdue. BDS initiatives for equity, justice and fundamental rights work.
Years earlier, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called apartheid's end "one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s." 
"Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation."
Western and despotic Middle East leaders won't hold Israel accountable. Grassroots movements must do it.
In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the Global BDS movement.
It did so for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights" for Occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and diaspora Palestinian refugees. 
Since 1948, dozens condemned Israel's militarized occupation. Its decades of discriminatory harshness.
Its contempt for rule of law principles. It illegal land seizures and settlements. Its preemptive wars of choice. 
Its horrendous human rights violations. A previous article discussed what warrants repeating. 
It said growing numbers of activists "call upon international civil society organizations and (supporters everywhere) to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to (apartheid) South Africa." 
"Pressure is needed for 'embargoes and sanctions…for the sake of justice and genuine peace.' "
Nonviolent punitive measures should continue until Israel: 
  • recognizes Palestinian self-determination rights;

  • respects international laws, norms and standards;

  • ends its illegal occupation unconditionally;

  • ends Gaza's siege unconditionally;

  • ends illegal aggression and other hostilities in all forms;

  • dismantles its Separation Wall;

  • frees all Palestinian political prisoners unconditionally;

  • grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews; 

  • end its racist apartheid system;

  • complies with UN Resolution 194 affirming the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homes and property or be fully compensate for loss or damage if they prefer;

  • recognizes East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital within June 1967 borders; and
  • gives Palestinians control over their land, borders, air space, coastal waters and resources.

Sustainable peace, equity and justice are long overdue. Payback time is now. Boycott Israeli products and services. 
Shun international companies operating there. Ones complicit in its human rights abuses. Those exploiting Palestinians in the process.
Spread the word. Urge others to act responsibly. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said earlier:
"Those who choose not to act to stop Israel's massacre, especially those whose governments are implicated in Israeli war crimes, are choosing the 'side of the oppressor.' "
Committed activism works. It makes a difference. Doing the right thing is its own reward.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Even a Golden Key Can Be Stolen by Thieves: The Simple Facts of Apple’s Encryption Decision

eff.org - Sat, 11/10/2014 - 03:31

(A shorter version of this post originally appeared on Vice.com. It focuses on how regulating backdoors in cryptography will diminish users’ security; for more information on the panoply of other problems cryptography regulation raises, check out our post on the Nine Epic Failures of Regulating Cryptography.)

Since Apple first announced three weeks ago that it was expanding the scope of what types of data would be encrypted on devices running iOS 8, law enforcement has been ablaze with indignation. When Google followed suit and announced that Android L would also come with encryption on by default, it only added fuel to the fire.

All sorts of law enforcement officials have angrily decried Apple and Google’s decisions, using all sorts of arguments against the idea of default encryption (including that old chestnut, the “think of the children” argument). One former DHS and NSA official even suggested that because China might forbid Apple from selling a device with encryption by default, the US should sink to the same level and forbid Apple from doing so here, in some sort of strange privacy race to the bottom.1 The common thread amongst all of this hysteria is that encryption will put vital evidence outside of the reach of law enforcement.

But the fact that Apple will no longer be in a position to retrieve a device’s contents on behalf of law enforcement is only a side effect. Apple’s decision, first and foremost, is about protecting the security of its customers. Before this change, if your iPhone was stolen or lost a criminal could break into it with relative ease, accessing your private information using the same backdoor as law enforcement. Now that Apple has sealed that backdoor, you no longer have to worry. In an era when our mobile devices contain incredibly private information, these companies have listened to their customers. They have made a sound engineering decision to make mobile security as strong as they know how, by bringing it in line with laptop and desktop security.

Nothing in this change will stop law enforcement from seeking a warrant for the contents of an encrypted phone, just as they can seek a warrant for the contents of an encrypted laptop or desktop.2 Apple’s decision is simply setting the privacy standard for mobile devices in the same place as non-mobile ones. It’s only a fluke that it hasn’t been the default all along.

It’s also important to note that the amount of information available to law enforcement about someone’s electronic communications, movements, transactions, and relationships is staggering, even if they never analyze a suspect's mobile device. Law enforcement can still seek a phone company’s calls records about a suspect, any text messages stored by the phone company, and a suspect’s email accounts or any other information stored in the cloud–which for most of us these days is a lot, as Hollywood stars recently learned. While EFF thinks that some of those investigative tools have insufficient protections and go too far, turning on encryption by default on devices hasn’t changed any of this.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from twisting the nature of Apple’s announcement in order to convince the public that encryption on mobile devices will bring about a doomsday scenario of criminals using “technological fortresses” to hide from the law. Sadly, some of the public seems to be buying this propaganda. Just last Friday, the Washington Post’s Editorial Board published an Op-Ed calling for Apple and Google to use “their wizardry” to “invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant.”

Many on social media found the Post’s suggestion that sufficiently advanced technology cryptography was equivalent to magic very amusing. We at EFF had another reason to find it amusing: in 1996 we ran a “golden key” campaign against the government’s demand for back doors into strong cryptography, complete with a GIF file (at left) for websites to post in solidarity against back doors.

All joking aside, while the Washington Post’s Editorial Board may think technologists can bend cryptography to their every whim, unfortunately it just isn’t so. Cryptography is all about math, and math is made up of fundamental laws that nobody, not even the geniuses at Apple and Google, can break. One of those laws is that any key, even a golden one, can be stolen by ne’er-do-wells. Simply put, there is no such thing as a key that only law enforcement can use—any universal key creates a new backdoor that becomes a target for criminals, industrial spies, or foreign adversaries. Since everyone from the Post’s Editorial Board to the current Attorney General seems not to understand this basic technical fact, let’s emphasize it again:

There is no way to put in a backdoor or magic key for law enforcement that malevolent actors won’t also be able to abuse.

So the next time you hear a law enforcement official angrily demand that Apple and Google put backdoors back into their products, remember what they’re really demanding: that everyone’s security be sacrificed in order to make their job marginally easier. Given that decreased security is only one of the nine problems raised by the prospect of cryptography regulation, you should ask yourself: is that trade worth making? We certainly don’t think so, and we applaud Apple and Google for standing up for their customers’ security even if law enforcement doesn’t like it.

  • 1. To see a former high-ranking American security official claim the US should match China in terms of restricting the use of privacy-enhancing technology is disconcerting, to put it mildly.
  • 2. Whether or not a person can be required to unlock the device is a complicated question, but one tightly intertwined with the basic rights of due process and against self-incrimination, which ought to be carefully considered by a court in the individual context of each situation.

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In Hotfile Docs, Warner Hid References to “Robots” And Its Deliberate Abuse of Takedowns

eff.org - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 10:14

After months of delay, Warner has finally released documents detailing its notice and takedown practices. The documents were filed under seal in the now-defunct Hotfile litigation until a federal court (prompted by a motion from EFF) ordered Warner to produce them for the public.

These documents confirm the movie studio’s abuse of the DMCA takedown process. They describe Warner “robots” sending thousands of infringement accusations to sites like the now-closed Hotfile without human review, based primarily on filenames and metadata rather than inspection of the files’ contents. They also show that Warner knew its automated searches were too broad and that its system was taking down content in which Warner had no rights – likely a violation of the DMCA.

EFF has posted the documents on its Disney v. Hotfile case page, with the newly unsealed text highlighted in yellow. Although much of the record remains sealed for now, the newly released portions shed some light on Warner’s robo-takedowns and practices that may have crossed the line of legality.

Notably, Warner’s system for sending DMCA takedown notices to Hotfile and similar sites appears to have been entirely automated, with no human review before notices are sent. Oddly, in its original court filings on the public docket, Warner had blacked out every use of the word “robots,” and other references to automation. The new, un-redacted filings reveal that Warner drew a distinction between its own system, which used “robots,” and the system used by a third-party copyright enforcement company that “does use a human screening process.” Judge Williams was skeptical that Warner’s “minimal and swift” approach complied with the DMCA’s requirements:

“Indeed, its search process relied on computer automation to execute programs and did not involve human review of the file titles, page names or other overt characteristics before issuing a takedown notice. And because the files were not reviewed, neither Warner's robots nor its employees made a determination whether there were Iegal uses for the files.”

Although Warner described its “robots” as “highly sophisticated” and able to “effectively mimic the search a human would conduct, except faster,” it appears that the system didn’t look at the contents of files uploaded to Hotfile, but only “titles and superficial attributes of files.” In fact, according to Hotfile’s briefs, “Warner subjectively knew that its [robots] were consistently misidentifying small single files [under 200 megabytes] as Warner movies, but it continued to delete those files anyway.”

The documents also reveal that Warner used its takedown system to limit access to software that it didn’t want the public to have. Hotfile accused Warner of using its system to take down copies of a free and open source download manager called JDownloader, which was not owned by Warner. Newly released testimony from a Warner executive suggests that, in the words of Judge Williams, “Warner knew that its robots were systematically deleting copies of JDownloader . . . and refrained from correcting the error because Warner thought that eliminating JDownloader would serve its ‘anti-piracy’ purposes.”

EFF asked the court to make these records public so that we can all better understand the content industry’s takedown practices. What we have discovered so far is not reassuring. The law requires takedown notices to be based on a “good faith belief” that the material identified actually infringes a copyright held by the notice-sender. That requirement is crucial because overzealous robo-takedowns create collateral damage for lawful speech. That’s why the facts and reasoning of the Hotfile case are important. As EFF wrote in its brief for the Lenz v. Universal Music case, “nothing — nothing at all — in the DMCA suggests that Congress intended to sacrifice lawful speech of innocent bystanders . . . so that [copyright holders] could shoot first and ask questions later.” While the judge in the Hotfile case did not rule on whether Warner violated the DMCA, these document raise troubling questions about whether Hollywood recognizes any limits to its use of takedowns. We look forward to seeing the rest of the Hotfile record, and we’ll be watching to make sure Warner releases it in a timely way.

 

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCAFixing Copyright? The 2013-2014 Copyright Review ProcessRelated Cases: Disney v. Hotfile
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Dueling Ideologies: America v. Russia and Venezuela

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:50
Dueling Ideologies: America v. Russia and Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
These countries are geopolitical opposites. America represents rogue governance. Permanent war is official policy.
Russia and Venezuela prioritize world peace and stability. Responsible governance. Respect for sovereign independence. Rule of law inviolability.
On October 8, Obama addressed top Pentagon commanders. He usually does it in White House surroundings.
"(N)ow was a good time for me to come over to the Pentagon," he said. "(T)o hear from our top military about the work that they're doing."
It's no mystery what they're up to. Ravaging one country after another. Directly and indirectly. 
Waging war on humanity. Committing high crimes against peace. Obama didn't explain. 
His agenda prioritizes mass slaughter and destruction. It's been ongoing throughout his tenure. It's more intense now than earlier.
There's "so much turbulence in the world," he said. He bears full responsibility for most of it. He called America's military "the finest in the history of the world."
Its most effective/efficient killing machine. Its most ruthless. Its most lawless. Its most guilty of waste, fraud and abuse.
Obama thanked them for "service." For "leadership." Others "under their command." On behalf "of the American people."
They're killers. Rampagers. Marauders. Pillagers. Obama didn't explain. He ludicrously called wars of aggression "necessary for the long-term prosperity in the" Middle East.
Post-9/11, he and George Bush waged war against it. Made it unfit to live in. Exploited its resources. Terrorized its people. Murdered them in cold blood.
Plundered regional countries for profit and dominance. Destroyed them systematically. Created dystopian harshness. Did it lawlessly. Unapologetically. 
"We had a chance to talk about the fight against Ebola," Obama said. He omitted explaining biological warfare. 
Putting US forces in harm's way. Using them as guinea pigs. Helping Big Pharma make huge profits. 
Creating a new weapon of mass destruction. Using it perhaps for mass murder.
Don't expect Obama to explain. He lied saying "we're not going to compromise the health and safety of our armed services."
He does every time he puts them in harm's way. Each time he wages war. Whenever he seeks more conquest.
He's "mobiliz(ing) Europe around (nonexistent) Russian aggression in Ukraine and against some of its neighbors," he claimed.
He reviewed his Asia pivot strategy. He ludicrously claimed America is "very much welcomed as a Pacific power in the region."
Its presence "ensures freedom of navigation," he said. Assuring "international law is observed…" 
Truth is polar opposite. America makes more enemies than friends. Wherever it shows up, mass slaughter and destruction follow.
Assuring international law is observed is pure fantasy. No nation in world history violates it more egregiously than America.
He concluded thanking "everybody around this table," he said. They comprise a rogue's gallery of imperial lawlessness. Obama didn't explain.
On October 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Venezuelan counterpart Rafael Ramirez in Moscow.
"This is the first time that my colleage (came) to Moscow in (this) capacity," he said. Talks between them "took place in a traditional atmosphere of mutual trust and friendship."
Both nations they represent respect sovereign rights of all others. US policy is polar opposite.
Venezuela is one of Russia's main Latin American strategic partners, Lavrov said.
"We are bound by relations of real solidarity and cooperation, mutual understanding and readiness to coordinate our approaches to international issues."
"Today we have reaffirmed our commitment to these principles, which became the foundation of our cooperation during the presidency of Hugo Chavez."
Nicolas Maduro carries his torch. Chavez called him Venezuela's most capable administrator and politician. His leadership is greatly valued. 
Ramirez represents Bolivarian fairness. It's polar opposite conquest and plunder. It champions social justice. It wages peace, not war.
Lavrov affirmed Russia's support for relations based on "solidarity and cooperation, mutual understanding and readiness to coordinate our approaches to international issues." 
"Today we have reaffirmed our commitment to these principles, which became the foundation of our cooperation during the presidency of Hugo Chavez," he said.
"We’ll continue enhancing our cooperation and carrying our practical joint projects."
"We exchanged opinions on the events in Ukraine. We are both convinced in the need to stop any violations of the ceasefire agreement as soon as possible, carry out commitments on the sides’ separation and, most importantly, to launch inclusive political dialogue." 
It "should be aimed at achieving agreements that would reflect the interests of all regions and political forces in Ukraine."
Lavrov was pleased with how talks with Ramirez went. He's "convinced" they'll facilitate continued good relations.
He was asked about outside interference in the affairs of sovereign states. With the aim of ousting their legitimate governments.
He responded unequivocally saying:
"We perceive extremely negatively attempts to replace governments in sovereign states through outside interference." 
"This applies to Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China and any other state, including EU countries." 
"Attempts to interfere in internal affairs and to use some instruments to fuel tensions are illegal and contrary to the commitments of states under international law."
For emphasis, he repeated the gist of what he said. He pledged to work with world community leaders "urg(ing) their renunciation for good."
This and related issues were discussed at the 69th General Assembly meeting in New York. 
Lavrov discussed efforts to prevent coups from becoming common ways to usurp power. He stressed promoting democratic principles.
He was asked about shaky Ukrainian ceasefire conditions. East/West confrontation and Islamic extremists potentially threatening Russia.
He stressed September 5 Minsk protocol terms. Followed by the September 19 Minsk memorandum.
The latter includes ways for armistice stability. He sees positive and negative factors interplaying. No one expected strictly observed ceasefire, he said.
It doesn't happen in any conflict, he explained. Contacts with both sides aim to prevent incidents reoccurring. Lavrov works tirelessly for peace and stability.
He urges normalization as soon as possible. It's in everyone's interest to see Ukrainian peace restored. And the beginning of a month's earlier promised process.
Involving all regional countries. To "achieve national accord through national reconciliation," Lavrov said. Russia is fully committed.
It wants all Ukrainians protected. Their rights secure. "This is what we want," Lavrov stressed.
"Sanctions are the matter of our Western colleagues, countries that decided to use this illegal instrument for venting anger. This is their problem. We didn’t choose this road."
As for Islamic State or other terrorist threats, Russia consistently urges world unity against them. Some steps were made. Much more needs to be done.
Western double standards sometimes sabotage good faith efforts. They refuse "to denounce overt manifestations of terrorism in Syria."
They wrongfully blame Assad for ongoing conflict. For killings, destruction and atrocities he's trying to prevent. 
For remaining in power. No matter that Syrians overwhelmingly support him. He vowed to step down otherwise. 
Syrians want no one else leading them. He obliges them by remaining president. 
He's unfairly bashed for doing the right thing. He's shamelessly accused of fostering terrorism by staying.
"This reasoning runs directly counter to the previously asserted principles that acts of terror cannot be justified by anything, no matter where and by whom they are committed," said Lavrov.
Nations worldwide face dealing with "international terrorism and drug trafficking. It is essential to counter these problems because they are taking a toll on thousands of lives in our countries and helping to fund the terrorism that we are combatting."
Numerous major issues need to be confronted and resolved. Mutual cooperation is essential to do so, Lavrov stressed.
Russia goes all-out for it consistently. "It seems that some people in the West are ready to sacrifice the solution of these common international problems just to show their discontent with Russia’s conduct," Lavrov said.
"It is impermissible to let fury make one blind to reality and to sacrifice the vital and fundamental interests of all humankind. I hope that common sense will prevail. We are patient." 
"We are confident that restoring cooperation channels is in our common interests and will be ready for this as soon as our Western partners understand."
He was asked about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling airstrikes on IS ineffective, wanting boots on the ground, and no-fly zone established over Syria.
He responded saying actions undertaken should fully conform to international law. "(A)bove all, with the consent of the legitimate authorities of the states on whose territories…terrorist" threats exist.
"It is certainly unacceptable to use antiterrorism slogans in attempting to undertake regime changes. I hope that nobody is talking about this."
He knows it's Washington's key aim. Dominating regional governance altogether. Eliminating independent states.
Partnering with Israel doing so. With despotic Arab states. With rogue NATO members. Threatening to embroil the entire region in conflict. 
All Eurasia and beyond. At the same time, risking the unthinkable. On October 10, Nobel Committee members will announce their annual Peace Prize winner.
They represent wealth, power and privilege. They deplore peace. They support war. Obama is Exhibit A.
Vladmir Putin and Lavrov work tirelessly for peace and stability. They deserve universal Peace Prize recognition.
Warriors nearly always win. Anything different this year will surprise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

They Fight Surveillance - And You Can Too

eff.org - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 04:50

Call it "privacy nihilism." Whether you're reading about the latest security breaches across the Net, or the jaw-dropping details of the latest NSA leak, or you're explaining the importance of crypto to your blank-faced family, or struggling to stop your own government's plans on burning your right to privacy, it's sometimes easy to just throw up your hands in despair and give it all up.

What can anyone realistically do when online eavesdropping is increasingly pervasive, and governments and companies seem determined to keep it that way? What can anyone do, alone, to change the downward spiral of security and privacy online? It doesn't help when so many people seem to shrug at the risks and consequences of an omniscient state or cartel, no matter how many times you have explained your fears.

EFF is launching two projects that we hope will help you fight that privacy nihilism: against the skepticism of your friends and colleagues, and even your own wavering sense that you can do something.

In Counter-Surveillance Success Stories, we've collected examples of individuals and small groups who have chosen to battle unlawful spying in their own countries—and have won.

German IndyMedia co-founder Anne Roth found that she was the wife of a suspect in an anti-terrorism case. The evidence was laughably flimsy and the case was dropped, but by documenting the experience of being under surveillance on her blog, she mobilized opposition to Germany's mistreatment of suspects. In Ireland, Digital Rights Ireland, a small group of volunteer activists, spent eight years on an apparently quixotic quest to completely overturn the EU Data Retention Directive, which ordered ISPs and mobile phone companies across Europe into hoarders of terabytes of data on their own customers. In Zimbabwe, a group fighting the creation of an identity database of all SIM card users in the country used international attention and careful advocacy to annul the law. In Brussels, activists from across Europe battled US government influence and highly-paid corporate lobbyists to expand and improve the European Union's data protection laws.

Even when successful, such meticulous and demanding activism can be slow and lonely work. What if you don't see a local group that fits your beliefs, and don't have resources or the know-how to start your own institution? Every action that challenges unlawful surveillance has an effect: and because it's a global problem, acts anywhere in the world make a difference.

On our new I Fight Surveillance site, we're showcasing individuals from around the world who are taking a stand. Some are technologists, building the secure tools that protect others. Others are fighting surveillance by using those privacy-protecting tools, or teaching others how to use them. Others publicize the effects surveillance have in their own communities; communities who might not have the power or influence to tell the world on their own.

The faces and stories of these two sites aren't necessarily the most famous advocates for privacy, nor are they the most notorious victims of its abuse. They're certainly not the only ones fighting against surveillance, and we'll be adding more images and success stories to our collection over the next few months.

But we hope that even this small sample shows that everyone can do something to fight unnecessary and disproportionate digital spying. Whistleblowers, coders and big name politicians are all vital but everyone can and must take part for it to succeed. And that by working individually and together, as technologists and advocates and citizens and activists, we can—and will—build a world without surveillance.

I Fight Surveillance press release available here.

Related Issues: InternationalSurveillance and Human Rights
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EFF Launches IFightSurveillance.org and Counter-Surveillance Success Stories

eff.org - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 04:46
Sites Highlight How Opponents of Mass Surveillance Around the World Lead by Example

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched IFightSurveillance.org, a new site showcasing digital privacy advocates from around the world who are leading the fight against mass surveillance. The site includes figures from the organization's growing list of Counter-Surveillance Success Stories, a set of guides showing how individuals and organizations have taken on state and corporate spying in their own countries—and won.

Translated into 16 languages, IFightSurveillance.org highlights images and quotes from activists, business leaders, lawyers, and technologists. Examples include:

  • Vladan Sobjer, whose organization, SHARE Defense, helps Serbians learn about encryption.
  • Ron Deibert, whose group, the Citizen Lab, analyzes malware and digital threats to vulnerable groups from Bahrain to Iran.
  • Anne Roth, whose own unjust surveillance by German law enforcement led her to work for better protections for her fellow citizens.

"Too often, the debate over surveillance is seen as a 'domestic' issue, only of concern to citizens of the country doing the spying," EFF International Director Danny O'Brien said. "The truth is that mass surveillance isn't confined to national borders, and neither is the response to it. Technologists, activists, and Internet users are all working to fight back against mass surveillance. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there are people close to you working to stop the spying, and you can join them."

The site provides five concrete steps activists can take, including using encryption software to protect themselves, supporting a decentralized Internet, and signing onto the 13 "Necessary and Proportionate Principles," a global framework to protect human rights in an age of mass surveillance. Visitors are encouraged to use the site's social media tools to share their stories of standing up for privacy and to learn about the more than 400 privacy rights organization that have endorsed the 13 principles.

IFightSurveillance.org's companion site, Counter-Surveillance Success Stories (http://www.eff.org/csss), delves into greater detail about the work of the global coalition, spotlighting battles for privacy in Zimbabwe as well as countries across North America and Europe.

Links:

I Fight Surveillance: https://ifightsurveillance.org

Counter-Surveillance Success Stories: https://www.eff.org/csss

Contact:

Danny O'Brien
   International Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   danny@eff.org


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Categories: Aggregated News

Media Scoundrels Wage War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 03:47
Media Scoundrels Wage War
by Stephen Lendman
They're in lockstep with US imperial policy. They support its dark side unapologetically. 
They're propaganda bullhorns for wrong over right. They're de facto Washington house organs.
Readers and viewers are irresponsibly cheated. They're willfully misinformed. They're treated like mushrooms. Well-watered and in the dark.
Everything they most need to know is suppressed. Truth is systematically buried.
Doing so blocks accurate news, information and analysis. Managed news misinformation substitutes. 
All rubbish all the time persists. It doesn't rise to the level of bad fiction. It gives Big Lies new meaning. 
MSM press freedom is pure fantasy. Why anyone follows their reporting, they'll have to explain. 
Increasing numbers are opting out for good reason. Cable news channels are losing viewers. 
Major newspapers and other publications are going bankrupt. Social media have many more followers than MSM.
Outrageous reports like the Wall Street Journal calling America "Freedom's Indispensable Nation" explain why.
Its editors find new ways to turn truth on its head. They shamelessly call US power "crucial to liberty."
It's responsible for more misery to more people over a longer duration than history's worst dictatorships. None match its ruthlessness.
None its horrendous human rights record. None its barbarity. Its lawlessness. Its self-righteous hypocrisy. Its threat to humanity.
Not according to Journal editors. Pax Americana prevented global war for two generations, they claimed.
It's been ongoing since Truman violated international and constitutional law. In various theaters globally. 
Ravaging one country after another. Killing tens of millions. Creating unspeakable human misery.
Journal editors call it "progress," "freedom," "an historic achievement," "statesmanship." Where would today's world be today "without American leadership," they ask?
Perhaps peace and stability would arrive. Permanent wars on humanity would end. 
America's empire of bases would vanish. Token force strength at most would replace overpowering military might. 
Nations would be safer to live in. Fear of mushroom cloud denouement would subside. WMDs might be eliminated.
Rule of law principles would mean something. Demilitarization makes anything possible. Imagine a world at peace. 
Imagine economic development replacing belligerence. Imagine it potentially lifting all boats. 
Don't expect Journal editors to explain. Or other MSM scoundrels. MInd-numbing misinformation proliferates. Big Lies substitute for truth and full disclosure. 
It's longstanding MSM policy. It mocks legitimate journalism. It does so disgracefully. 
It turns increasing numbers of readers and viewers away. Maybe they'll all opt out one day. 
What better way to make them all go away. They're a machine for the destruction of truth. 
They're a cancer affecting everything they touch. They're worst of all when America goes to war or plans one. 
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) provides an important service. It's a vital media watchdog. 
A credible one. It exposes media misinformation, bias and censorship. 
It promotes truth and full disclosure. It does so because it matters. More than ever now for sure.
On September 29, it headlined "TV Generals and Precision Bombs: Corporate Media Go to War."
"Want to know what corporate media look like when they're reporting for duty," it asked?
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer is one of many MSM scoundrels. Viewers tuning in get all rubbish all the time.
In times of war, from a parade of Pentagon generals, administration officials, congressional hawks and former CIA operatives.
Peace promoters aren't welcome. They're consistently shut out. On September 28, Schieffer previewed his guests, saying:
"We will get the latest on (America's latest war) mission and what it entails from Deputy National Security Adviser Anthony Blinken, retired General Carter Ham, former Pentagon official Michele Flournoy and former Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell."
Getting it from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daffy Duck, Goofy and Pluto would be preferable.
Schieffer's weekly lineup gives diversity a bad name. He's not alone.
Martha Raddatz's same day ABC This Week reported from Bahrain. It's home to America's Fifth Fleet.
It's run by one of the region's most brutal dictators. Police state terror is official policy. 
Fundamental freedoms don't exist. Raddatz didn't explain. Her segment was a US Navy infomercial, said FAIR.
"These sailors understand their jobs are critical," she said. Waging war on invented enemies wasn't explained. Or doing so to replace independent government with pro-Western stooge ones.
"We watched these men and women assemble bombs, putting together a 500-pound precision-guided weapon capable of leveling a building, and above them, the bombs were loaded onto aircraft bound for the war zone," she continued.
"(T)he deck of an aircraft carrier is an incredibly dynamic place." 
(T)hroughout this deployment, there has not been a single serious mishap and well over 250 missiles and bombss have been dropped on Iraq and Syria."
Doing so lawlessly wasn't explained. Media scoundrels promote might over right.
America uber alles. Whatever it says goes. Opposition views aren't welcome.
Raddatz featured a former military official like other hosts. According to FAIR:
"(F)or the sake of diversity, (he) was balanced later on by throwing softballs to a current military official:
Raddatz: "And we are now back on land, and joining us now is Vice Admiral John Miller, who is the commander of US naval forces for Central Command and the commander of Fifth Fleet here in Bahrain." 
"Admiral Miller, let's start with what you really have accomplished with those air strikes."
FAIR touched the right nerve, saying:
"When government officials launch an ill-defined war based on dubious claims about a threat to the 'Whathomeland,' you might hope that would be the time for reporters to aggressively examine and question government claims." 
"But corporate media see things differently. War time is when TV screens are full of former generals and hawkish politicians, and reporters are busy transmitting official claims."
It bears repeating. Truth is consistently shut out. It's verboten on MSM news programs.
On September 24, CBS news reporter Bob Orr regurgitated Pentagon Big Lies, saying:
Its officials said US "bombs and missiles hit every intended target."
FAIR: "When have they ever said any(thing) different?"
When have they admitted mistakes? When have they explained why America really goes to war?
When are readers and viewers told what they most need to know? When do facts substitute for fiction? 
Truth for propaganda Big Lies! Responsible journalism for rubbish!Unacceptable/outrageous programming is daily fare. 
It's standard operating procedure. It's longstanding. It blocks out what's most important to report. It's duplicity writ large.
Selling war takes precedence. It's glorified in the name of peace. It rages against one country after another. It's official US policy.
Media scoundrels march in lockstep. Doing so enlists public support. Famed US journalist Walter Lippmann coined the phrase "manufacture of consent." 
It's a euphemism for mind control. In 1917, George Creel first used it successfully to turn pacifist Americans into raging German-haters. 
It works the same way now. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was reelected on a pledge of: "He Kept Us Out of War." Straightaway, he planned US involvement.
In April 1917, he established the Committee on Public Information (CPI or Creel Committee). It operated through August 1919. 
Its mission was enlisting public support for war and undermining opposition sentiment. It was tougher then without television.
It worked like it does now. Propaganda manipulates public minds effectively. Australian-born social psychologist Alex Carey helped pioneer how it works.
His seminal work is titled, "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty."
He said "The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."
It's verboten. America tolerates none at home or abroad. It wants nothing compromising its service to monied interests. Or its imperial agenda.
It wants free rein to carve up whole continents for profit. To exploit people worldwide. At home and abroad. Turning workers into wage slaves. 
Removing independent governments. Replacing them with pro-Western vassal ones.
Eliminating all potential rivals. Stealing world resources. Cracking down hard on nonbelievers. Creating a world unfit to live in.
Waging wars based on misinformation, deception and Big Lies. Enlisting public support perhaps impossible otherwise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Crowning the Dragon: World's Top Economy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 09/10/2014 - 21:47
Crowning the Dragon: World's Top Economy
by Stephen Lendman
It was just a matter of time before China surpassed America as the world's leading economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP). 
It's an exchange rate between currencies measured by the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.
Surprisingly, China's growth happened faster than experts expected. In 2011, IMF economists estimated it would overtake America in 2016.
At the time, they projected its PPP GDP at $18,975.7 trillion v. $18,807.5 trillion for America.
They now estimate America's 2014 PPP GDP at $17.4 trillion v. $17.6 trillion for China.
The speed of China's growth is remarkable. As recently as 2005, its economy was less than half the size of America's.
By 2019, IMF economists expect it to be 20% larger based on PPP. Its phenomenon reflects overall emerging market growth v. developed ones.
In 2007, they accounted for around half of global output. It's now about 57% and rising. By the 2020s, it may approach, reach or surpass two-thirds.
Overall emerging market growth is extraordinary by any standard. Since 2007, it's ninefold what developed nations achieved.
Analysts call China's growth over the past three and a half decades one of the greatest success stories in modern times.
It began in 1979 when Deng Xiaoping introduced economic reforms. He famously said: "Black cat, white cat. What does it matter what color (it) is as long as it catches mice."
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates China's real GDP grew 19-fold in real terms from 1980 to 2011. Real per capital GDP increased 14-fold.
An estimated 500 million people were elevated out of poverty. Beginning in 1979, farmers got price and ownership incentives to sell crops freely on their own.
At the same time, special economic zones were created to attract foreign investment, boost exports and attract high technology. Tax and trade incentives were offered.
Other reforms followed in stages. Economic policymaking was decentralized in several sectors. Especially trade.
Provincial and local governments got economic control of various enterprises. Based on free market principles rather than central planning state control.
Citizens were encouraged to establish businesses. Central regions and cities were designated open ones and development zones.
Doing so let enterprises experiment with free market reforms. Tax and other incentives were offered.
Price controls on many products were gradually eliminated. Official policy aimed to identify ways to achieve maximum growth.
Deng called the process "crossing the river by touching the stones."
Economic crisis beginning in late 2007 impacted China greatly. Its GDP fell from 14.2% in 2008 to 9.2% in 2009.
In response, significant economic stimulus was introduced. So was expansive monetary policy. 
Domestic investment and consumption increased. Sharp slowdown was avoided. 
In 2010, real Chinese GDP grew 10.4%. In 2011, it was 9.2%. In 2012, 7.8%. In 2013, 7.7%.
Industrial Bank in Shanghai chief economist Lu Zhengwei says "(i)t's like Chinese medicine. If you don't take it, you may have problems in the future."
"But if you take it now, you cannot expect to regain your youth tomorrow."
After three and a half decades of extraordinary growth, Beijing wants more sustainable higher-quality development instead.
Achieving it requires letting business have more say in allocating resources. It involves promoting greater domestic consumption at the expense of investments and exports.
At the same time, China's economy is heavily dependent on growth. In 2013, capital formation accounted for 54% of it.
It exceeded consumption's 50%. Net exports detracted 4.4% from overall growth.
Economist Tim Condon said he didn't "see any evidence of a rebalancing last year." Yet Beijing wants investment reined in.
In 2013, China's fixed-asset investment grew 19.6%. It was the smallest increase in the past decade. It was slightly below a projected 19.8% rise.
At the same time, $3 trillion in debt accumulated. Head of China's statistics bureau Ma Jiantang calls it vital to check.
"In 2014, I believe reforms will continue to be a key driving force for economic growth," he said.
Slowdown to a sustainable level is vital. Better-quality development can follow. 
Changes can be instituted gradually. Without concern for inadequate job growth or perhaps losses at times.
Beijing will have more latitude to stabilize monetary policy. Risky lending can be curbed. According to IHS Global Insight chief China economist Brian Jackson:
"On the whole, the Chinese economy is performing well through its adjustment phase." 
Concerns about too much growth through transition to what's more sustainable are unfounded, he believes.
Average growth targets issued by 22 of China's 31 local governments show downward revisions by nearly 1%.
At the same time, China's key commercial centers' growth is mostly stable. Overall growth is declining modestly.
Reforms take time to produce results. China performed remarkably for decades. Economists expect continued strong results ahead. At a more sustainable level.
Analysts attribute China's growth to large-scale domestic and foreign investment, as well as impressive productivity gains.
Economic reforms produced higher efficiency. Output was boosted. Increased resources became available for additional investment.
China historically maintained high savings. In !979, they were 32% of GDP. Economic reforms produced substantial household savings growth as well as corporate savings.
As a percent of GDP, they reached 53.9% in 2010 compared to America's 9.3%. High-level Chinese savings permit greater domestic investment.
Its gross domestic savings level far exceeds what's needed for internal needs. China is a large net global lender.
Productivity gains enabled greater economic growth. Especially in agriculture, trade, services and other formerly controlled government sectors.
By any standard, China's growth over the past three and half decades has been extraordinary. It was just a matter of time before it became the world's largest economy.
Currently on a PPP basis. Ahead based on GDP by any measure. The dragon is No. One. It intends staying there and then some.
In contrast, IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) data show world economic conditions "in the middle of a balancing act."
"On the one hand, countries must address the legacies of the global financial crisis, ranging from debt overhangs to high unemployment," said WEO. 
"On the other, they face a cloudy future. Potential growth rates are being revised downward, and these worsened prospects are in turnaffecting confidence, demand, and growth today."
Crisis conditions since 2008 proved tougher to resolve than expected, IMF economists say. 
Interplay of negative forces caused downward growth revisions over the past three years. From 5.3% to 3.3% and heading south.
Things are no different now. WEO data suggest "mediocre" growth ahead. Worse than forecast in July.
At the same time, forces operate differently in various countries. Global economic evolution is more "differentiated" than earlier.
Central bank money printing madness keeps America and EU economies from collapsing. What can't go on forever won't.
Free lunches last only so long. Day of reckoning time approaches. It won't be pretty when it arrives.
Irresponsible monetary policy prevents stimulative growth. Central bank governors pursue what never worked before sustainably.
Economic numbers are rigged to conceal it. Real growth requires dropping money on Main Street.
Noted investor/philosopher king Jeremy Grantham bashes Fed policy justifiably. In an earlier commentary, he highlighted "runaway commodities, (zombi) banks back to life, homes destroyed, families evicted, and currency wars."
He blamed Bernanke. "If I were a benevolent dictator," he said, he'd limit Fed policy solely to maintaining price stability.
He'd make sure the economy got enough liquidity to function normally. He'd "force (Fed governors) to swear off manipulating asset prices through artificially low rates and asymmetric promises."
He referred to the Greenspan/Bernanke put. He'd eliminate "immoral hazard." It's immoral behavior, he said. It's outsized excess. It's grand theft.
It bails out large banks, other financial giants and large investors. Doing so encourages imprudent risks. 
Winning is guaranteed. Regulatory checks are absent. Anything goes is policy.
Things persist irresponsibly. They do so "under the guise of 'saving the system,' " said Grantham. Money manipulators have things their way.
Monied interests control Western central bank policies. They're served at the expense of popular ones. America's economy is deplorable. Claims otherwise are false.
It bears repeating. Numbers are rigged to conceal house of cards conditions. They're worsening, not improving.
Virtually all global assets are overpriced. Bubble conditions exist. Grantham compared them to Einstein's definition of insanity. 
The madness of repeating the same mistakes. Expecting a different outcome doesn't work.
Last year, Grantham compared Fed policy to beating a donkey. He called it the 1% growing economy. 
"(H)e keeps beating it until it either turns into a horse or drops dead from too much beating," he said.
"We've been conned." We're manipulated to believe "debt is everything." In 1982, it was one-and-a-quarter times GDP.
It's more than triple that amount now. It has nothing to do with long-term growth. It's an "accounting world. It's paper," said Grantham.
"The real world is the quantity and quality of your people, and the quality and quantity of capital spending."
"Are you building new machines? Are you being inventive?" Are you educating a new generation properly?
"We're in this death grip that only paper things matter." Vital issues go unaddressed. Wealth is transferred upward. From most people to rich ones.
To Wall Street, not Main Street. Interest rates are outrageously low. Practically zero. Speculators benefit. Ordinary people lose out.
Retirees lose vital income. Financial interests are served at the expense of the real economy.
Former Reagan budget director David Stockman said money printing madness and bailouts reflct the "most shameful chapter in American financial history."
It's grand theft by any measure. It wrecked the economy to benefit Wall Street, other corporate favorites and rich elites. 
It let popular needs go begging. It's self-defeating. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist.
Hard times keep getting harder. America once was sustainably prosperous. Today it's in decline. 
It's thirdworldized. Outrageously corrupted. More kleptocracy than democracy. It's unsustainable and then some.
Money power in private hands doesn't work. It's been this way for over a century. Banker-controlled Fed policy loots America. It's responsible for deplorable conditions. They include:
  • unsustainable consumer debt;

  • record budget and trade deficits;

  • out-of-control national debt;

  • record numbers of personal and business bankruptcies;

  • millions of home foreclosures;

  • depression level unemployment, poverty, homelessness and hunger;

  • an unprecedented wealth gap between rich elites and ordinary Americans; and

  • a hugely unstable economy lurching from one crisis to another.

A 1913 dollar isn't worth a plug nickel today. At best about two or three cents. 
Wall Street planned it this way. It profits at the expense of ordinary Americans. It's high time things changed.
It's more than ever vital to put money back in public hands where it belongs. It's an idea whose time has come.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Racist Extremism in Israel

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 09/10/2014 - 21:36
Racist Extremism in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
Israel is no democracy. It never was one. For sure not now. Netanyahu is a world-class thug. He exceeds the worst of Sharonian evil.
Extremists around him reflect hardline fascist rule. They control Knesset poiicy. They hold over 80% of its seats.
They overwhelm moderate voices. They treat Arab representatives like potted plants. They have no say whatever. Israeli Arab citizens are enfranchised in name only.
Peace, equity and justice are convenient illusions. Hardline rule prevails. State terror reflects official policy. So does institutionalized racism.
Jews alone are wanted. Muslims are persecuted for praying to the wrong God. Occupied Palestinians have no rights whatever.
Militarized harshness controls all aspects of their lives. They're marginalized, terrorized, and brutalized. Persecution haunts them.
Crimes against humanity persist. World leaders able to intervene responsibly do nothing. 
Washington supports Israel's killing machine. Generously with billions of dollars in weapons, technology and other aid. 
Both countries partner in crime. One fascist regime supports another. Ruthlessness defines their agenda. They give rogue state lawlessness new meaning.
They're guilty of every crime imaginable and then some. Repeatedly. Unaccountably. Shamelessly. Unapologetically.
Horrific abuses occur daily in both countries. Police state viciousness reflects official policy. Palestinians suffer most of all.
For 67 years and counting. With no relief in sight. They're unwanted, hated and abused. They're persecuted for not being Jews.
The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam's third holiest site. After Mecca's Sacred Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina.
Israelis consider Jerusalem their historic capital. Their national and religious center. Their symbol of Judaic revival and prominence.
At the expense of Muslims they want excluded altogether. On October 8, Israeli police attacked Palestinian Al-Aqsa Mosque worshipers.
Dozens were hurt. Security guards said assaults began at 7:30AM. Ahead of hardline Israeli visits. Celebrating Sukkot (the annual fall Feast of the Tabernacles).
Attacks were lawless. Malicious. Vicious. Police used tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and clubs. According to Mosque director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani:
Police fired stun grenades at the Mosque itself. Doing so set one area ablaze. Fire fighters were delayed access to extinguish it.
"The compound was emptied of Muslim worshipers," said al-Kiswan. Israeli forces did so to give extremist Jews free access. 
Where they don't belong unless Muslims invite them. It doesn't matter. Israel does what it pleases. 
Palestinians taking refuge were forcibly removed. Others were locked inside. They were trapped unable to leave.
Israeli military spokesman Micky Rosenfelf lied. He claimed "masked Arabs (threw) stones, blocks, iron bars" and other objects at Israeli forces near the Moroccan gate.
Three police officers were lightly injured. Since early Tuesday, Israeli forces restricted Al-Aqsa access.
Only Palestinians 60 and older were allowed inside. Elderly men and women had to prove their ages.
They had to leave their identity cards with police before entering the compound.
Israel's tourism ministry intends letting Jews enter Al-Aqsa through the Cotton Merchants Gate, as well as the Moroccan Gate used by non-Muslims.
Palestinian anger followed. According to Al-Aqsa's Islamic endowment department Jerusalem affairs legal counsel Ahmad Ruwaidi, no notice of what Israel plans was received.
He called it "unacceptable." Palestinian religious sites are a "red lines" he stressed. Violating them can't be tolerated.
Palestinian MK Taleb Abu Arar said opening another gate constitutes one "to war."
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi added:
"Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity."
"They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes."
Moderate Israeli leaders want Jews excluded. They fear profaning the Second Temple's inner sanctum once located on this site, they believe.
Extremist Jews do what they please. They go where they don't belong. They're mindless of Palestinian rights. 
Their leaders are responsible for most occupation harshness. Netanyahu and likeminded fascists reflect their views.
Operation Protective Edge (July 8 - August 26) left large parts of Gaza in ruins. Initial reports suggested Israeli authorities indefinitely delayed dozens of truckloads with building materials gaining entry.
According to Gaza's border authority's Mounir al-Ghalban:
"We were notified by the Palestinian National Company that Israel has indefinitely delayed the entry of the 60 trucks into the Gaza Strip."
It did so despite "promises" otherwise. Ceasefire terms call for reopening Gaza's borders with Israel.
Israeli pledges aren't worth the paper they're written on. They're systematically violated straightaway. It's longstanding Israeli policy.
Israel routinely denies entry of building materials. It does so claiming they're for dual purposes. For underground tunnels. For fortifications.
They wouldn't be needed if lawless blockade ended. If Gazans were allowed to live normally. Freely. Without virtual incarceration in the world's largest open-air prison.
If they weren't preemptively attacked. If Israelis were held accountable for crimes of war and against humanity.
On October 8, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said building materials will be allowed in next week.
It remains to be seen if true. For over eight years, Israel severely restricted imports and exports. Including concrete and other basic supplies.
It's hard imagining policy changed. Perhaps rhetorically only. It happened before. It's likely at least to some degree now.
Al-Sheikh said Israel intends letting families of incarcerated Gazans visit them in Israeli prisons. It remains to be seen. Or if restrictions prove too onerous in most cases for compliance.
Social ministry authorities want Gazans given permits to work in Israel. Since 2006, they've been almost totally barred.
According to Al-Sheikh, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and intelligence head Majid Farraj intend visiting Gaza.
They'll discuss reconstruction work. Billions of dollars are needed. Funds need to be raised. Decades perhaps are required to rebuild.
Expect future Israeli wars to cause more mass destruction. At issue is will Gaza ever be rebuilt? 
Will Israel permit it? Will Gazans ever again live normal lives again? Will West Bank and East Jerusalem ones? Will liberation ever arrive?
Daily events give Palestinians pause. Multiple mostly pre-dawn neighborhood incursions terrorize West Bank families.
Arrests follow. So do beatings and other abuses. On October 8, Israeli soldiers failed for the fifth time to kidnap elderly Palestinian legislator Ahmad al-Hajj.
He wasn't home when soldiers arrived. Eyewitnesses said clashes erupted with local youths. Scores of injuries followed.
Invasions and assaults are part of everyday life. According to the Ahrar Center for Detainees' Studies and Human Rights, Israel imprisoned 28 Palestinian legislators without charges.
For belonging to the wrong political parties. Ones Israel targets for elimination. Or wants around for convenient enemies.
Rogue states operate this way. Israel is by far the region's worst. State terror haunts Palestinians' lives. 
No one's sure from day to day if they'll remain free or be imprisoned. Perhaps be dead or alive.
On October 3, Haaretz interviewed outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Benny Gantz. He has no regrets about committing genocidal high crimes against peace.
"The politicians defined the purpose and objectives, and we fulfilled everything that was demanded of us," he said.
Premeditated mass murder and wanton destruction are part of his portfolio. He expects "many years of quiet" following last summer's carnage.
At the same time, he ludicrously offered Gazans hope. They "need to live their lives," he said.
Despite longstanding Israeli policy to bomb, shell and invade the Strip any time for any reason or none at all.
Mass murdering near-defenseless Gazans in cold blood. Destroying their property, livelihoods and futures.
Gantz ends his term in January. His only accomplishments are mass slaughter and destruction. 
He left Israel more than ever hated worldwide. It's a pariah state writ large. As IDF chief of staff, Gantz could have acted otherwise.
He could have refused lawless orders. He could have resigned in protest. No one forced him to ravage and destroy Gaza.
It wasn't because of Hamas rockets. Or threats to Israeli security. It was for reasons other articles explained.
They include preventing Palestinian self-determination, maintaining occupation harshness, continuing Gaza's blockade, sabotaging Fatah/Hamas unity, stealing Palestinian resources, preventing diaspora Palestinians from returning, controlling Palestine's borders, air space and offshore water, as well as maintaining Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital.
Don't expect Gantz to explain. He obeyed orders. He lacked courage to challenge them. He committed horrendous high crimes against peace. 
He remains unaccountable despite indisputable evidence indicting him. He's unapologetic for his crimes.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama's Syria Strategy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 09/10/2014 - 03:42
Obama's Syria Strategy
by Stephen Lendman
It's lawless. Ruthless, Transparent. Islamic State (IS) fighters hold mostly Kurdish-populated Kobani along Turkey's border under siege.
Controlling it looms. So does likely mass slaughter. Hundreds already are dead. Around 200,000 fled cross-border.
Today's Zaman is one of four English language Turkish broadsheets. On October 8, it headlined "Turkey asks US to ramp up air strikes against ISIL," saying:
They're needed to keep Islamic State fighters "from seizing" Kobani. According to Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan:
"Our government and our related institutions have emphasized to US officials the necessity of immediately ramping up air bombardment in a more active and efficient way."
IS fighters controlling territory along Turkey's border pressure Ankara to intervene.
Precisely what Washington wants. It's meddling in Turkish affairs. Perhaps manipulating internal street protests. Much like in Hong Kong.
Lawlessly interfering in affairs of other nations is longstanding US policy. Doing so serves its imperial interests.
It wants more partners against Assad. Letting proxy IS fighters threaten regional countries is a good way to enlist them, it believes.
At the same time, perhaps Turkey intends having IS elements crush Kurdish resistance in part. Forcing Southern Kurds to Northern Kurdistan.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined others internally. He called for escalated Western intervention.
"I am telling the West, dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution," he said.
"The terror will not be over…unless there is cooperation for a ground operation."
"Months have passed but no results have been achieved. Kobani is about to fall…We are following attacks on Kobani and other towns…"
He called for imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, as well as border buffer zone for protection. Both require Security Council authorization.
If approved, bombing Syrian command and control capabilities would follow. So would targeting its military.
Last week, Ankara's parliament authorized armed intervention in Syria and Iraq. It approved deploying foreign combat troops in Turkey for the same purpose.
No action so far was taken. Except for Turkish forces blocking Kurdish fighters from entering Kobani to help besieged Kurds unable to flee.
Erdogan lied saying Turkey wants peace. He's allied with Obama's anti-Syrian plan.
So far without direct intervention on its territory. Perhaps it's coming. Together with Washington.
London-based Kurdish activist Mark Cambell said Washington and coalition partners do little to protect Kurds in Kobani.
Reports indicate Western air strikes allegedly targeting IS positions around Kobani were minimal at best. At Ankara's request.
Kurds fought unsuccessfully for human and civil rights for decades. They're treated like Israel treats Palestinians. Like America treats its unwanted.
Campbell believes Washington and Western alliance members aren't targeting IS fighters around Kobani to avoid upsetting Ankara.
"Everybody is saying this now," he said. "Hopefully one good thing that will come out of this is that the world will see this alliance with Turkey against the Kurdish movement, in Turkey and in Syria."
People fleeing Kobani "are being gassed on the border by Turkey. This is all a scenario that has been planned for many years."
"Kobani is part of a wider Kurdish movement linked to the PKK, and it's been a red line…(I)f it falls, it will be because of Turkey…"
"The situation is on a knife edge. The PKK want a political, negotiated solution. The Kurds in Kobani could work with Turkey to solve the whole issue in an amicable way that would unite all the forces against ISIS."
Precisely what Washington wants avoided. It's protecting its IS proxies. It's working with them cooperatively.
They're valued anti-Assad assets . Expect Pentagon combat troops to join them.
A previous article discussed likely US ground war. Hundreds of US special forces infest Iraq.
Perhaps others are in Syria covertly. Ahead of what appears likely US ground war involving large numbers of US combat forces.
Invasion could come any time. Expect it to be well underway before it's officially announced.
Pentagon commanders know bombing alone accomplishes little. Privately they're likely advising Obama to deploy combat troops.
On the pretext of fighting IS. To oust Assad without saying so. New NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg plans visiting Turkey.
According to Ankara's Foreign Ministry:
He'll meet with Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel.
Meetings will include "a detailed exchange of views on growing instability in the Middle East, primarily Iraq and Syria, and current situation in Ukraine, as well as other principal issues on NATO's agenda in light of the Wales Summit decisions are expected to take place."
NATO pledged to activate its Alliance Treaty Article 5 obligation to collectively defend Turkey if needed.
Members may send troops if its security is endangered, Stoltenberg said. It's half million-strong military can protect itself regionally without help.
Stoltenberg didn't explain. At issue is enlisting broad support to oust Assad. Doing so cooperatively with IS proxies. US-trained foot soldiers on the ground.
What IS intends doing depends on what Washington wishes. It bears repeating. Perhaps they're being used to enlist a large anti-Syrian coalition. Longstanding plans call for Assad's ouster.
The moment of truth may approach. Perhaps sooner than most observers believe. The fullness of time will tell.
On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said discussions continue on "what role Turkey can plan, but we're not going to discuss that publicly much further than that."
Ankara is "determining what larger role (it'll) play broadly as part of the coalition moving forward, and that conversation's ongoing."
She said Washington "certainly" wants Turkey playing a larger role. She lied claiming its goal is a "campaign in Syria to destroy ISIL."
It's the pretext. Syria is the target. Psaki didn't explain. On the one hand, she said Washington doesn't want IS fighters gaining control of Kobani.
On the other, Washington won't defend it against IS attacks. It's not a "strategic goal," she claimed. She ducked questions trying to pin her down.
"I'm not in a position to give military analysis," she said. "I'm not going to read out private diplomatic conversations any further.
In response to a question regarding Obama saying US forces won't be involved, she responded saying:
"I think I will leave it at how I read out the call (between John Kerry and Turkey's prime minister)."
"And it was more of a discussion about how we can work together and what role they're going to be able to play."
With regard to Kurdish street protests in Turkey, she perhaps hinted at US involvement, saying:
"…(W)e, of course, as you know, broadly value freedom of expression and freedom of speech."
"We encourage people to do that peacefully, and certainly encourage authorities to respect protests when they're done peacefully as well."
She commented on Victoria Nuland's Kiev visit, saying:
She arrived on October 6. She'll remain "through (the) 8th to reaffirm the United States's commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity, a (so-called) peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and (unexplained) ongoing reform efforts…"
She lied saying "the Ukrainian Government has fulfilled its commitments under the September 5th Minsk Agreement and called on Russia and Russian-backed separatists to fulfill their own commitments, including by ending the ceasefire violations, restoring Ukrainian control to its side of the international border, withdrawing all foreign forces and equipment, and returning all hostages."
Monday was Putin's 62nd birthday. Psaki was asked if she'd use "the occasion to wish him a happy (one) from the podium."
She responded saying "we continue to believe (he) was Involved (in) an illegal intervention and certainly we don't celebrate that here."
These type comments reflect typical US hypocrisy, double standards, hubris, arrogance and Big Lies.
Psaki represents the worst of America's dark side. She regurgitates what superiors want her to say.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Saber Rattling Ahead of Resumed Ukraine Conflict

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 08/10/2014 - 20:36
Saber Rattling Ahead of Resumed Ukraine Conflict
by Stephen Lendman
US-controlled NATO operates lawlessly. It's a killing machine. A monster threatening world peace and stability. Anders Fogh Rassmussen is gone. 
Jens Stoltenberg replaced him. He did so seamlessly. He's an imperial tool. 
A puppet serving US interests. His marching orders are clear. Instituting Washington's policy. 
Serving Western monied interests. Benefitting war-profiteers. Like his predecessor and others before him, he's a convenient US stooge.
He wasted no time proving it. On Sunday, he said NATO will deploy forces wherever it wants. For any reason. Anywhere.
"These capabilities already exist. We have them, and we can deploy them in individual regions. And this is only an add-on to what the alliance already has," he said.
It intends using its might how it wishes. Regardless of potential harm. No matter the consequences. He was in Poland at the time. Visiting Lask Air Base.
Heading for Kiev on Wednesday. Meeting with illegitimate putschist foreign affairs minister Pavlo Klimkin. Doing so to plot resumed war strategy once Ukraine's battered military finishes regrouping.
He expressed gratitude to Alliance members for prioritizing regional security. He praised their commitment to NATO.
"We come together to deliver one clear common message, that NATO is here to protect all allies," he said.
"This is what NATO is all about, strong solidarity and strong defense."
"We face great challenges to the east and to the south, so we must keep NATO strong as a political alliance and as a military alliance." 
"Thank you for your steadfast commitment to the mission. We need to implement (Wales summit) plans in full and on time." 
"The readiness action plan will ensure that we can respond even faster to fast moving crises, with a spirituous force that can deploy within days."
He thanked America, other present NATO members and partners, adding:
"Thank you all very much and all your comrades for what you are doing. I am very privileged and proud to meet you and I wish you the best luck in your missions."
They include US-led wars of choice. Destroying sovereign states. Replacing them with pro-Western stooge ones. 
Serving monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Doing so unapologetically.
"Washington is destroying the world," says Paul Craig Roberts. He quoted Russian Defense Ministry Public Council member Igor Korochenko saying:
Stolenberg's comments "run counter to the system of international security, as the NATO alliance poses a threat to Russia. Therefore, it will cause responsive measures."
Both sides have enough destructive power to destroy life on earth multiple times over and then some in a day or less. Perhaps hours.
Don't bet against a US-led NATO provocation risking the chance it can happen. Neocons infest Washington. Lunatics run things.
Wars are the be all and end all. Aggressive ones. Lawless ones. Hugely destructive ones. Risking humanity's survival. Not giving a damn about consequences.
Multiple global flashpoints exist. Middle East conditions are incendiary. US wars threaten an entire region and beyond.
Ukraine is the most significant world geopolitical crisis since WW II. Escalating it risks global conflict.
Obama bears full responsibility. Complicit EU partners share it. Putin is irresponsibly blamed for their crimes. They continue without end.
Washington's dirty hands manipulate things. Obama deplores peace. He didn't wage proxy war in Ukraine to quit. 
On Tuesday, State Duma member Sergey Zheleznyak accused Kiev of multiple provocations, saying:
"Despite the armistice, which is in effect in Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk agreements, the land of Novorossiya sees daily shellings with multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery and ever more civilian deaths."
"The regime in Kiev has been staging all sorts of provocations to disrupt the ongoing peace process. It is committing ever new crimes to cover up its responsibility for the heinous crimes committed earlier."
"Unable to attain victory on the battlefield it has turned all firepower against innocent civilians, children and elderly people. We are witnesses to mass fatalities, as a matter of fact, crimes against humanity."
Washington wants things this way. Putschists running Ukraine willingly go along. Rogue states operate this way. 
One fascist regime supports the other. They partner in crime. They threaten Eurasia. They risk East/West confrontation. Perhaps global war if things get out of control.
On October 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "condemned attempts to change (governments) in sovereign states by organizing actions from the outside…"
Doing so is "illegal…under international law," he said. He's concerned about ongoing Ukrainian ceasefire violations.
He called for stopping them as soon as possible. Initiating an "inclusive political dialogue."
Russia is doing its best to "normalize" things, he explained. "This meets our national interests," he added.
Moscow is ready to restore cooperative relations with Western countries when they reciprocate in kind.
He stressed the importance of fighting terrorism based on rules of international law. Conducted "with the consent of the legal authorities of countries where" terrorist threats exist.
He called it "impermissible to use the slogans of anti-terrorist struggle for attempts to replace" sitting governments.
He noted "double standards." Irresponsibly blaming Southeastern Ukrainian self-defense forces for Kiev crimes. Likeminded policy on Syria.
Last April, a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) report on Ukraine covered serious human rights violations.
They include "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred by some political parties, groups and individuals, that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and nationalistic rhetoric…"
A "deepening divide" persists in Ukraine. A lack of "inclusivity and equal participation in public affairs."
An overall disregard for fundamental human rights and standards.
A new HCHR report due out Wednesday covers the August 18 - September 16 period. It shows serious human rights violations continue unchecked, saying:
"During the reporting period, international humanitarian law, including the principles of military necessity, distinction, proportionality and precaution continued to be violated by armed groups and some units and volunteer battalions under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces."
"(B)eatings, poor nutrition and lack of medical assistance" were reported. So were "enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention(s) and ill-treatment allegedly perpetrated by members of the volunteer battalions."
Especially Aydar, Dnepr-1, Kiev-1 and Kiev 2. Since the start of so-called "anti-terrorist" operations in late August, over 1,000 Ukrainians were lawlessly detained.
They're held based on unsubstantiated allegations of being "militants and subversives."
It bears repeating. Fascist regimes operate this way. America's new friends represent this cancer's reemergence in Europe's heartland.
Civilians suffer hugely. Especially Southeastern Ukrainians because of indiscriminate residential neighborhood bombing and shelling conducted by Kiev forces.
Despite September 5 agreed on ceasefire terms, civilians continue being attacked, killed and wounded.
At the same time, HCHR's report omitted information on mass graves discovered near Donetsk.
They're in areas Kiev's military, extremist National Guard elements and volunteer battalions control. Nothing was said about what should have been highlighted.
Forensic evidence shows torture and ill-treatment. Victims were then murdered in cold blood. 
Shot in the head at close range. Kiev bears full responsibility. So does Washington for initiating conflict. Using Ukrainian proxies to further its imperial agenda.
Using war as an instrument of dominance. Waging it without mercy. Planning its resumption at its discretion.
Accountability is entirely lacking. Illegitimate oligarch president Petro Poroshenko is unapologetic. 
He's strengthening Kiev's military might. Readying it for resumed conflict. At a time Ukraine's economy is in shambles.
Thousands of Southeastern Ukrainians were killed. Many more wounded. Mostly civilians. A million or more were internally or externally displaced.
So-called ceasefire is largely illusory. Fascists don't wage wars to quit. Shelling continues daily. Expect escalated conflict ahead. Likely resumed full-scale war.
After agreeing to ceasefire terms, Kiev violated them straightaway. According to Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin:
Ukrainian military forces "are doing what was impossible without truce conditions." 
"All the movements of convoys would have been impossible. During the truce, convoys of combat vehicles are reaching destinations and preparing for attacks."
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said:
"We have managed to upgrade the equipment currently in service, to get new armaments, and to reorganize and retool the defense industries that manufacture armaments and repair hardware." 
"We have also managed to regroup our forces, to carry out deep reconnaissance and to gather more information about the enemy." 
"We have completed the third wave of mobilization. We have replaced the units that needed that." 
"We gave them a chance to have some rest after heavy fighting and to get back to normal" before resuming combat.
Expect its full-scale resumption any time. At Washington's discretion. Perhaps more devastating than already.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland's visit to Kiev this week suggests what's coming.
Last time she was there, Ukraine's democratically elected president was ousted. Illegitimate fascist putschist governance replaced him.
Nuland's return to the scene of her crimes bodes ill. She came to plot war strategy. To crush Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.
To regain control over areas they hold. To prevent democracy at all costs. To institute unchallenged hardline rule nationwide.
To prepare Ukraine for EU inclusion. For eventual NATO membership. To let Washington encroach on Russia's entire Western flank.
To establish a provocative military cordon sanitaire.  Extending it over hundreds of land and sea miles. 
From the Arctic to the Black Sea. Cutting off Russia from Europe if things go as planned. 
Marginalizing, isolating and weakening it at the same time. Risking East/West confrontation in the process.
In 2008, Washington initiated the US/Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership. Its objectives stated in part:
"Deepening Ukraine's integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority." 
"We plan to undertake a program of enhanced security cooperation intended to increase Ukrainian capabilities and to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership. 
"Guided by the April 3, 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration of the NATO North Atlantic Council and the April 4, 2008 Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which affirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO."
"Recognizing the persistence of threats to global peace and stability, the United States and Ukraine intend to expand the scope of their ongoing programs of cooperation and assistance on defense and security issues to defeat these threats and to promote peace and stability." 
"A defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and Ukraine is of benefit to both nations and the region."
With US-installed putschists ruling Ukraine, Washington is hell bent on transforming it into a dagger threatening Russia's heartland.
It's part of America's longstanding drive East. Doing so more than ever threatens world peace. 
It hangs by a thread. The slightest miscalculation risks anything. All bets are off if it happens.
Russia is mindful of Washington's plan. Its security is at risk. According to Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov months earlier, further encroachment "one more step towards Russia's border" changes everything.
"(T)he entire European security architecture (will need)  overhaul(ing)," he stressed. Further NATO enlargement poses a serious threat.
It remains a belligerent/aggressive military alliance. "Russia will have to take serious measures to ensure its own security."
It bears repeating. A potential East/West confrontation looms. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

DEFCON Router Hacking Contest Reveals 15 Major Vulnerabilities

eff.org - Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:51

"I could take down the internet with that, and so could you."

Dan Geer, Chief Information Security Officer of CIA’s venture capital arm, didn't mince words when he mentioned the security flaws in home routers during his keynote address at last month's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. But he also noted a small silver lining around the dark cloud of router security: people are starting to take the problem much more seriously. As he noted, the "SOHOpelessly Broken" DEFCON hacking contest, co-presented by Independent Security Evaluators and EFF, is drawing attention to security vulnerabilities in routers with the goal of helping to get them fixed.

The contest was a success and the results are alarming: participants documented 15 new 0-day vulnerabilities, including 7 full router takeovers. These attacks took place on Track 0 of the contest.

According to the rules of the contest, an entry wasn't considered valid unless the contestant also showed proof of disclosure to the manufacturer. Here's a full list of routers in which 0-days were reported in Track 0, along with our current understanding of the fix in progress:

  • ASUS AC66U; reported, but no response from the manufacturer.
  • Netgear WNDR4700; reported, but no response from the manufacturer.
  • D-LINK 865L; reported, and manufacturer confirms it is working on a fix, currently in beta.
  • Belkin N900; reported, and manufacturer acknowledged but was unclear on providing a fix.
  • TRENDnet TEW-812DRU; reported, and manufacturer claims all reported 0-days are fixed.
  • Actiontec Q1000; reported, and manufacturer acknowledged the report.

For details please see the full contest results.

It's clear from the fact that the list spans many different manufacturers that the problem is not unique to any one company. It affects nearly all router makers, and a huge percentage of Internet users. And if these brand names are not familiar, that doesn't mean you're safe: the Actiontec Q1000, for example, is provided by Verizon Communications to its customers.

Unfortunately, fixes have been slow to roll out. Because each of the bugs have been disclosed to the manufacturer directly, there may not be pressure to push an emergency patch, but manufacturers have a chance to address the issues. As Craig Young, the winner of Track 0 notes, that process results in better security without the panic of high-profile exploits:

SOHOpelessly Broken clearly got the attention of vendors without attacks in the wild or irresponsibly disclosed vulnerabilities. Several vendors have already released fixes and others have proactively reached out to the Tripwire VERT researchers for security guidance.

There were two other tracks in the contest, that aimed to get newbies interested in hacking routers. These were Track 1 and and a "surprise"  Track 2, both of which involved demonstrating attacks on routers known to be vulnerable. The first round of the surprise Track 2 attracted 7 teams, and the winner was able to demonstrate a full takeover after an hour and a half; the second round featured 9 teams and a winner was crowned after three hours. For details please see the full contest results.

At the end of the day, we were able to help expose many major bugs, and to reward their discoverers $2,700 in cash prizes, 8 DEFCON badges for next year, 11 trophies, as well as swag including backpacks, stickers, shirts, and other gear. We hope the experience, awards, and bragging rights will draw more hackers to expose the problems with SOHO routers and motivate manufacturers to fix them. 

We're a long way from a good baseline level of router security, but—alongside projects like EFF's Open Wireless Router Firmware—these efforts can help us get there.

(Left to right) Track 0 winner Chris Young and Track 1 winner Ian Turner

 

(Left to right) Track 2 winners Clayton Dorsey, Paul Whelan, and Gabe Marshall

Related Issues: Open WirelessSecurity
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Categories: Aggregated News

Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security

eff.org - Wed, 08/10/2014 - 06:26

The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.

And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books.  Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.

How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.

Adobe claims that these reports are not quite accurate.  According to Adobe, the software only collects information about the book you are currently reading, not your entire library. It also collects information about where you are reading that book, how long you've been reading it, and how much you've read. Still disturbing, if you ask us.

Second, sending this information in plain text undermines decades of efforts by libraries and bookstores to protect the privacy of their patrons and customers. (Adobe does not deny transmitting the information unencrypted.) Indeed, in 2011 EFF and a coalition of companies and public interest groups helped pass the Reader Privacy Act, which requires the government and civil litigants to demonstrate a compelling interest in obtaining reader records and show that the information contained in those records cannot be obtained by less intrusive means. But if readers are using Adobe's software, it’s all too easy for folks to bypass those restrictions.

Third and most depressing: this flaw may have been unintentional, but we probably should have seen it coming. As our friend Cory Doctorow has been explaining for years, DRM for books is dangerous for readers, authors and publishers alike. Whether or not Adobe actually intended to create this particular vulnerability, if your computer is collecting information about you, and then transmitting it in ways you can't control, chances are you've got a security problem.

But there may be a silver lining to all of this. Several years ago, music fans were shocked and dismayed to discover that copy-protection software on music from Sony artists was actually allowing Sony to monitor the fans’ listening habits, sending information home to Sony, and creating a massive security vulnerability. Sound familiar? That discovery led to a public relations meltdown for Sony, not to mention numerous lawsuits. When the dust had cleared, Sony’s DRM cost it millions in fees and settlements, and, of course, did nothing to inhibit infringement. For Sony, and many others in the music industry, the price of DRM finally became too high, and it has since been largely abandoned.

So we’re going to try to be optimistic. The rootkit scandal put several nails in the coffin of DRM and music. If enough readers, librarians, publishers and authors speak up, perhaps this latest scandal will do the same for DRM and books. In the meantime, we'll be taking a hard look at our e-reader privacy chart.

Related Issues: DRMRelated Cases: Sony BMG Litigation Info
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Heading for Ground War in Syria and Iraq

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 08/10/2014 - 05:02
Heading for Ground War in Syria and Iraq
by Stephen Lendman
Believe nothing Obama says. His policies are polar opposite duplicitous rhetoric. Big Lies repeat one after another.
His word isn't his bond. His pledge to avoid more Middle East ground war is meaningless. All signs suggest it's coming. More on this below.
William Blum knows how US imperial works as well as anyone. He documented it over six decades.
He explained how Washington toppled dozens of governments. Crushed countless popular movements. 
Slaughtered millions of people in the process. Created unspeakable human misery.
US policies are "worse than you imagine," he says. "If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy (throughout) the past century, (here's) what crawls out:"
"invasions, bombings, (subversion), overthrowing governments, suppressing (popular) movements for social change, assassinating political leaders, perverting elections, manipulating labor unions, manufacturing 'news,' death squads, torture, (chemical), biological (and nuclear) warfare, (radiological contamination), drug trafficking, mercenaries," police state repression, and war on humanity writ large.
"It’s not a pretty picture," says Blum. "It is enough to give imperialism a bad name."
Hegemons make more enemies than friends. Longstanding US policy is consistent. 
It bullies, intimidates, threatens, or otherwise pressures other nations to comply with its will. Obey or else is policy.
Rogue states operate this way. America is by far the worst. None in world history match it. It's ruthlessness is unequaled.
Rule of law principles don't matter. Or democratic values. Bullies demand things their way. What they say goes. 
Brute force is explicit. Permanent war is longstanding US policies. Bombs away can happen any time. Ground troops often invade.
Around 1,600 special forces infest Iraq. Perhaps many more covertly. They're not good will ambassadors. Or just advisors as administration officials say.
They're trained killers. Their mission is combat. They're often used in this role. Expect greater involvement ahead in Iraq and Syria. Supplemented by other ground forces.
On September 18, Daniel Ellsberg addressed National Press Club members and guests. He bashed Obama's air war against Iraq and Syria.
Most wars require ground forces. He compared Obama's approach to Lyndon Johnson's Gulf of Tonkin strategy. To Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq policy. 
He's manipulating things incrementally toward invasion and full-scale war. Ellsberg believes failure is near-certain. 
He believes whistleblowers are urgently needed "to inform Congress (about) what this country is being asked to get into."
They should remain anonymous to avoid prosecution and imprisonment.
"We need the Pentagon's real internal analysis of the cost and consequences" of what he sees coming.
He believes no one in authority there or at Langley believe Iraq and Syria objectives can be accomplished with air power alone.
Criticizing Obama publicly risks being fired. Few are bold enough to try. Former Marine Corp Commandant General James Conway pulled no punches, saying:
His strategy "doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell" of succeeding. Current Pentagon commanders likely feel the same way. 
Maybe someone near retirement will say so. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey came close.
He said he’ll recommend deploying US combat troops if ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State (IS) can’t be defeated other ways.
"My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward," he said diplomatically. “I believe that will prove true."
"But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces."
Obama "told me…to come back to him on a case-by-case basis."In other words, Obama’s "no (US) boots on the ground" is another of his many Big Lies.
If Dempsey and other military commanders recommend them, expect invasion followed by full-scale war.
Expect potentially thousands of US troops deployed. Expect protracted fighting. Expect more mass slaughter and destruction. 
Expect civilians suffering most. Expect failure like in all other US post-WW II wars.
In his 1972 book "Papers on the War," Ellsberg said about US combat troops heading for Vietnam:
"The President desires that premature publicity be avoided by all possible precautions." 
"The actions themselves should be taken as rapidly as practicable but in ways that should minimize any appearance of sudden changes in policy." 
"The President desires that these movements and changes in combat mission should be understood as being gradual and wholly consistent with existing policy."
Separately, he told the Assistant Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy:
"This is dangerous. You can't keep that secret. There are reporters over there. They'll know what the Marines are doing and we’ll be shown to be concealing it." 
"You know, we’re actually changing the nature of the war. We're going to be taking over the war from the South Vietnamese. I don't think you can keep that secret very long.”
Three months later, 100,000 US troops undertook combat operations. Ahead of time, nothing about administration plans leaked out.
Ellsberg regretted not having acted sooner. Releasing what's now known as the Pentagon Papers. 
Explaining administration lies. Telling Americans what they deserved to know. 
He urges insiders today to act like he did. As soon as possible. Explain Obama's plan for protracted war. 
With boots on the ground. With quagmire implications.  At a time most Americans want current conflicts ended.
When they're being lied to about existential threats. Only those Washington invents to advance its imperium.  
In violation of international, constitutional and US statute laws. At the expense of world peace and security. 
With vital homeland needs going begging. At a time of protracted Main Street Depression. 
When millions of people desperately need help. When increasing amounts of US resources go for militarism and permanent wars. 
When world peace hangs in the balance. US-created flashpoints in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria and perhaps elsewhere threaten it.
It's time war-making madness ended. Conditions are incendiary. We're "on the edge" of embroiling the entire region, Ellsberg believes. Perhaps beyond. Perhaps all Eurasia on route to global conflict.
Enraging Muslims worldwide more than ever. Without congressional debate. With virtually no chance for success. 
Other than enriching war-profiteers. And duping most Americans short-term before reality checking awakens them. When it's too late to matter.
The time to prevent imperial wars is before they start. Public pressure has more clout than most people imagine. 
It's absent when most needed. It lets America's criminal class get away with genocidal high crimes against peace. 
Over and over again. Based on Big Lies. Damn ones. Outrageous ones. Reason enough to disbelieve everything government officials say.
Especially Obama. He's a serial liar. A world-class con man. A menace to humanity. A threat to its survival.
No matter how many times Americans are fooled, they're easy marks to be duped again. They're suckers for propaganda duplicity. 
It's fed them ad nauseam.  They believe it like gospel. Mostly from television. It made America a nation of morons. 
Easily manipulated to support what harms their own well-being. Too distracted by bread and circuses to react responsibly. Paying dearly for inaction.
With 28 months left in office, Obama is heading America into the abyss. Neocons infest Washington. They influence policy decisions hugely. So do generals wanting more stars.
Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R. SC) are two of Washington's worst. They ludicrously claim defeating the Islamic State depends on removing Assad. Their Wall Street Journal op-ed said so.
Never mind international, constitutional and US statute laws. Or what Syrians want and deserve. Or that Americans want current wars ended.
They want more. Lots more. Without end. With US boots on the ground. Perhaps another generation of America's youth destroyed in the process.
"The administration still has no effective policy to remove Bashar Assad from power and end the conflict in Syria," they said.
US installed puppet regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere did nothing to stop conflicts. They rage out-of-control.
They have for years. Expect years more ahead. Perhaps another generation or longer. More on this below.
McCain and Graham combine ignorance with arrogance and lawlessness. The Islamic State and likeminded groups are US creations.
They shamelessly blamed America's crimes on Assad. He's fighting to save Syrian sovereignty. He has overwhelming popular support.
Claiming he "knowingly allowed the group to grow and operate with impunity inside the country" is rubbish.
They're imported from dozens of countries. US special forces and CIA operatives train them in Jordan and Turkey. Some in Georgia.
They're taught gruesome ways to kill. Atrocities perhaps they hadn't thought of. Including beheadings. 
Barbarism of the worst kind. US specialties in wars. Ones without mercy and then some. 
McCain and Graham's notion of liberating Syria is plundering it. Stealing its resources. Exploiting its people. 
Turning workers into wage slaves. Balkanizing it for easier control. Eliminating an Israeli rival. Isolating Iran. 
Targeting the Islamic Republic the same way. Perhaps destroying the entire region in the process.
Hegemons know one thing only: wars without end. Without rules. Without mercy. 
With others in mind. An endless progression of ruthlessness. Lawlessness. Barbarity writ large.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta foresees endless war. In his first interview on his new book "Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, he said:
"I think we're looking at kind of a 30-year war." Extending beyond current theaters. Obama erred, he said. He "lost his way."
By not maintaining more US troops in Iraq, he believes. A residual force able to confront internal opposition.
By rejecting advice from top aides. Including himself. By failing to sufficiently arm anti-Assad forces sooner. With heavier weapons.
By not acting (based on Big Lies claiming) Assad used chemical weapons.
Panetta barely stopped short of urging troops on the ground in Syria. He questioned Washington's credibility. 
Especially with Obama in charge. Its determination "to stick this out." 
Obama has "to jump in the ring and fight it out for the next two years," said Panetta.
Like other past and current Washington officials, he believes US imperial priorities matter most. Means justify ends.
Might justifies right. Millions of corpses are a small price to pay. So is ravaging and destroying one country after another.
Hegemons operate lawlessly. Unapologetically. Their own objectives alone matter. 
Achieving them any way possible. Regardless of harm to others. No matter the consequences.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama's Economy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/10/2014 - 22:26
Obama's Economy
by Stephen Lendman
Obama disgraces the office he holds. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. 
His imperial foreign policy risks global war. His domestic anti-populist one transformed the world's richest economy into a house of cards. Thirdworldized. A dystopian backwater.
So-called recovery is fake. It’s illusory. It doesn't exist. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions affect growing millions.
Things go from bad to worse. Human suffering is real. Pathetically little is done to help. 
Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Force-fed austerity reflects it. Social injustice is rife. 
Obama demands it. Bipartisan complicity supports it. Ordinary people are increasingly on their own out of luck.
Bankers top the pecking order. Profits are privatized. Losses are socialized. Grand theft is rife. Politicians are complicit with corporate crooks.
America's social contact is targeted for elimination. It's disappearing in plain sight when most needed. It's heading for history's dustbin.
Inequality is institutionalized. It's unprecedented in modern times. It matches or exceeds 19th century harshness.
Monied interests alone are served. A race to the bottom persists. Corporate America and privileged elites never had it better. Most others face growing inequality.
Hard times getting harder reflect today's reality.  Poverty is a growth industry. So are unemployment, underemployment, hunger, homelessness and despair.
In the 1970s, about one in 50 Americans were on food stamps. Today, it's one in five. Over half the population needs aid to survive.
Bipartisan complicity keeps cutting it en route to eliminating it altogether. A decade or two from now, it may be gone. 
At the same time, inflation adjusted median household income keeps declining. Unemployment tops 23%. Official numbers are fake. They're rigged to put lipstick on a pig.
Tens of millions of working age Americans wanting jobs can't find them. Most others have low-pay, poor or no-benefit part-time or temp rotten ones. Two or more are needed to get by.
Middle America is disappearing. Most children live in low income or impoverished households. 
Over three-fourths of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. They're one lost one away from hunger, homelessness and inability to cover other basic needs.
America's wealth disparity is deplorable. The top 1% has more than the bottom 95%. The 400 richest families have more than the bottom 50%. 
In 1965, one in 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today it's more than one in five.
America is thirdworldized. It's banana republicanized. For growing millions, it's unfit to live in.
Public and private corruption transformed it into a kleptocracy.Democracy is a convenient illusion. Its facade masks New World Order harshness.
Monied interests run things. Predatory capitalism is official policy. Class war rages. Notably since the 1970s. 
Obama calls it shared sacrifice. Most people sacrifice to let privileged ones share. Wages don't keep up with inflation.
Benefits erode steadily en route to disappearing altogether. Most high-paying manufacturing and service jobs offshored to low wage countries. Automated production claimed more.
So-called "free markets" work best for those who control them. Others lose out. Growing numbers entirely.
Technology driven productivity increasingly pressures workers to toil longer for less pay and fewer benefits.
Marx was right. He explained capitalism's contradictions. It's a machine for manufacturing injustice. 
He called it anarchic and ungovernable. What existed in his day pales compared to today's monster.
It exploits humanity. It alienates it. It does so by preventing societies from developing humanely. It produces class struggles between "haves" and "have-nots," 
It destroys fundamental freedoms. They're disappearing in plain sight.
Inside the bubble, it's paradise. Outside it's dystopian hell. America was never beautiful. It's worse than ever now in modern times.
It's venal, depraved and degenerate. It's too broken to fix. It's corrupted, suffocating and malignant. 
It's polar opposite Big Lies claiming otherwise. Obama regurgitates them ad nauseam. More on this below.
Paul Craig Roberts calls predatory capitalism "a looting mechanism." America's economy "no longer is based on education, hard work, free market prices (and) accountability…"
Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Police state injustice targets nonbelievers. Full-blown tyranny looms. 
Perhaps armageddon if permanent wars continue. Dystopian hell otherwise. America already is unfit to live in.
Obama pretends otherwise. His weekly October 4 address was polar opposite truth.
"Last month, our businesses added 236,000 new jobs," he claimed. "The unemployment rate fell to under six percent for the first time in more than six years."
False! Labor Department reports are fabricated. They're phony. They're fake. They reflect statistical legerdemain. 
Even Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) admits:
"The confidence level for the monthly change in total employment is on the order of plus or minus 430,000 jobs."
With that level of accuracy why bother reporting at all. Monthly numbers are meaningless.
The so-called "birth/death model" overstates monthly job totals by 50,000 or more. Manipulated seasonal adjustments distort further.
Based on how calculated in the 1980s, real unemployment exceeds 23%. Expect it to go much higher once declining economic conditions reach gale force.
Don't expect Obama to explain. He's a serial liar. A moral coward. "…(W)e're on pace to make 2014 the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s."
False! Truth is polar opposite. America is in protracted decline. Economic conditions are deplorable for growing millions. They're worsening.
Consumer credit and real retail sales are flat. Major chains are closing stores. Construction is stagnant. So is manufacturing. 
Roberts says America's workforce resembles "third world countr(ies) with the vast bulk of the jobs in low-pay domestic service" areas. 
The kind most US workers shunned decades earlier. "People working these part-time and independent contractor jobs cannot form a household or obtain a mortgage," says Roberts.
They're filled by "those aged 55 and older…to supplement meager retirement incomes."
Roberts calls America's economy "a house of cards." He does so for good reason. Fake statistics conceal illusory recovery.
For privileged elites only. Exacerbated by making money the old-fashioned way at the expense of opportunities to distribute it equitably. 
Honestly. Legitimately. With full-time/good-pay/good-benefit jobs for workers wanting them. They're gone. So are future prospects for growing millions.
Money power in private hands and democracy can't co-exist. Wall Street represents what's wrong with America.
Financial giants transformed it into an unprecedented money making racket. At the expense of popular interests. Grand theft is institutionalized. 
So are systemic fraud, market manipulation, front-running, pumping and dumping, naked short selling, scamming investors, bribing politicians, suppressing precious metals prices, and bailouts with public tax dollars whenever needed.  
Financial coup d'etat conditions describe things. So cleverly most people have little or no idea what's going on. 
Or how they're harmed. Or that corrupt politicians conspire with corporate crooks to profit at the expense of most others.
America's entire system is corrupted. Broken. Phony. Rigged to benefit wealth, power and privilege alone. By exploiting most others. Doing so gives injustice new meaning.
Not according to Obama. He lied saying "progress has been steady (and) real." 
"It is a direct result of the American people's drive and determination, and decisions made by my administration."
Fact: He wrecked the economy.
Fact: He looted the nation's wealth.
Fact: He stole it from ordinary people.
Fact: He handed it to banksters and other corporate predators.
Fact: He's waged war on Middle America.
Fact: He wants it entirely eliminated.
Fact: He wants workers transformed into wage slaves.
Fact: Kleptocracy reflects official policy.
Fact: So does gangsterism writ large.
Fact: Public and private corruption are unprecedented.
Fact: Ordinary people are exploited.
Fact: Wealth is disproportionately shared.
Fact: Hard won labor rights are being lost.
Fact: Public education is being commodified.
Fact: Healthcare is rationed to enrich insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.
Fact: It's a pay plenty or suffer or die system.
Fact: Exorbitant costs put high-quality care out of reach for growing millions when most needed.
Fact: Low-quality fast food treatment substitutes most often.
Welcome to the age of inequality. Injustice. Unfairness. Obama doesn't give a damn about ordinary people.
He wants them used, abused, neglected and exploited. He transformed America into a swamp of unfairness, injustice and lawlessness.
He's hard-right, neoliberal, reactionary, belligerent, pro-corporate, anti-labor, anti-populist and anti-social justice.
He believes anything government can do business does better so it it. He turns a blind eye to international, constitutional and US statute rule of law principles.
His presidency reflects a trail of broken promises. He says one thing. He does another. He gives rogue governance new meaning.
He's the latest in a long line of lawless, deplorable leaders. He achieved rogue status without really trying.
He deplores democratic values. He trashes them. He defiles rule of law principles. He ignores human need. He impoverished millions.
Human misery isn't his concern. Hope and change became race to the bottom hard times. Big Brother watching everyone.
Civil and human rights violations. Fast disappearing freedoms. Extrajudicial governance. 
Political, economic, financial, propaganda and hot wars without end. Diktat power rule.
Government of, by and for wealth, power and privilege alone. A nation unfit to live in. 
Survival depends on challenging him all-out. Defeating his agenda. It's a struggle too important to lose.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

How CloudFlare Moved the Web Toward Ubiquitous HTTPS

eff.org - Tue, 07/10/2014 - 06:39

EFF has a long running-mission to Encrypt the Web. To make the Web more secure, more private, and more censorship-resistant, we need to completely replace the insecure HTTP protocol with HTTPS. That task saw some major progress last week, with the anouncement by CloudFlare that it will now make HTTPS free and available by default for the approximately two million sites that it serves.

CloudFlare is a content distribution network (CDN). That means that it doesn't entirely host web sites on its own machines, but provides a proxy and caching infrastructure to distribute content on behalf of other sites, making them faster and greatly increasing their capacity to serve large numbers of users at once. When you connect to a site served by CloudFlare, you connect to one of CloudFlare's machines, which sometimes connect back to the site's real servers to check for updated copies of static pages, scripts and images.

CloudFlare's announcement means that all of those sites will automatically now support secure HTTPS connections. There are still a few steps that sites on CloudFlare should take in order to enhance the security benefits of this update. If you host a site through CloudFlare, EFF's guide on How to Deploy HTTPS Correctly gives you many of the details you need about the difference between a secure HTTPS deployment and an insecure one. And, as CloudFlare explains, you should also set up HTTPS on your own servers to secure the connection between CloudFlare and your site. We will be updating our HTTPS Everywhere browser extension in order to secure sites on CloudFlare, even if their webmasters don't take any action.

Historically, CDNs have often treated HTTPS as a premium feature, and charged sites more — in some cases, substantially more — money for supporting it. We often discuss security issues with large web site operators; several major sites have cited CDN-related costs as a core reason their sites didn't support HTTPS across the board. Remarkably, CloudFlare's announcement even applies to its free service tier. So not only will CloudFlare not charge existing customers extra for HTTPS support, it will make it available to millions of web sites that aren't paying any money at all.

A challenge to other infrastructure providers

CloudFlare is the first major infrastructure provider to take this step. We congratulate them for reaching this milestone; now, we hope other hosting providers and CDNs will follow in CloudFlare's footsteps by treating HTTPS as a basic, standard part of the web and not a premium feature.

Related Issues: Mass Surveillance TechnologiesPrivacyEncrypting the WebLocational PrivacyMedical PrivacySecurity
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Categories: Aggregated News

Illusory Ceasefire in Ukraine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/10/2014 - 06:14
Illusory Ceasefire in Ukraine
by Stephen Lendman
Conflict continues. Peace is a convenient illusion. Fascists don't wage wars to quit. 
Washington manipulates events destructively. It uses its installed stooge government to solidify unchallenged control over Ukraine.
Straightaway after assuming power, oligarch president Petro Poroshenko said:
"The first steps that we will take at the beginning of our presidential term should be focused on stopping the war, to put an end to this chaos and bring peace to a united Ukraine." 
Days later he promised to crush "pro-Russian separatist war being waged against our country."
"We will end this terror," he said. "The anti-terrorist operation has finally just truly begun." Washington offers support, encouragement and military aid.
Poroshenko promised no civilian attacks. He willfully unleashed Kiev forces against them.
He wrongfully blames Russia for Kiev crimes. He shamelessly accused Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters for earlier regime ceasefire violations.
Previous articles called chances for durable peace virtually zero. One month after both sides accepted ceasefire terms, intermittent conflict persists daily.
Shelling of Donetsk continues. Residents say it never stopped. A self-defense force web site statement said "(t)he truce is worst than the battle action."
Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) units "are in place. According to preliminary records, there are casualties among the civilian population."
Deaths and injuries were reported. An ICRC worker was killed when its office was shelled. A statement followed, saying:
"We are deeply shocked by this death. We know that (last Thursday) in Donetsk there were other casualties among civilians." 
"Indiscriminate shelling of residential areas is unacceptable and violates the international humanitarian law."
ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson confirmed "(o)ne of our colleagues (Swiss national Laurent Etienne) was killed in Donetsk, Ukraine, when a shell hit close to our office. We're deeply distressed by this loss."
Etienne was ICRC's deputy Donetsk mission head. Russia's Foreign Ministry blamed Kiev for his death.
Mortar fire killing him came from territory government forces control. Civilian areas are targeted. It's part of Kiev's terror campaign.
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter expressed shock when hearing what happened. 
He called ceasefire terms "a real opportunity to de-escalate the situation in a stable way…"
"The civilian population, which has been suffering from violence in the region for months, are looking forward to a return to normal life."
Donetsk continues being shelled. City Council members "confirm(ed) that a mortar hit a nine-story block of flats in Universitetskaya Street."
A hospital and shopping area were struck. Casualties were reported. Public transport operations were suspended.
Heavy fighting continues around Donetsk airport. According to Itar Tass on Friday, self-defense forces have it "under full control."
Ukrainian "law enforcers" remained in underground communications rooms, self-defense forces said.
They were " screened to establish if any explosive devices might have been planted."
Last Wednesday, three civilians died at a school on the first day of classes.
Six others were killed at a bus stop. Dozens were injured. Russia's Foreign Ministry called ongoing conflict "blatant and intolerable."
Kiev's dirty hands are to blame. So are Washington's for unleashing its dogs lawlessly. 
Russia began criminal proceedings against Ukrainian military leaders. Charges include genocide and prohibited warfare methods.
At OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly (PA) autumn meeting, Russia State Duma's Speaker Sergei Naryshkin accused key EU countries of choosing "tactics of destruction for Ukraine."
Throughout months of conflict, he said. From its very beginning. Kiev called Minsk protocol terms "non-essential and can easily be disrupted."
Naryshkin addressed mass graves found. Local self-defense forces discovered them. 
They responded to information provided by area residents. They said Ukrainian forces dug them to conceal murders. To cover up their high crimes.
Victims were killed execution-style. Bodies were discovered about 35 kilometers northeast of Donetsk.
Naryshkin "demand(ed) an international tribunal for those involved in crimes against humanity."
Ukrainian officials go all-out to conceal "crimes, violations of human rights, violence and unlawful acts," he added.
He called it "obvious who is really aiming for restoration of peace in Ukraine and who opposes the process."
Four sites were found so far. In areas Kiev forces and extremist  National Guard Aidar battalion elements control. 
Total body counts are yet to be determined. New sites may be found. Lavrov believe hundreds were buried secretly. Maybe more than he imagines.
Russia's Investigative Committee head Vladimir Markin was clear and unequivocal saying:
"For those who have doubts regarding who's responsible for these murders, the Investigative Committee has irrefutable evidence - witness accounts and appropriate examinations - that directly indicates that this crime was committed by fighters from the National Guard and Right Sector."
Mass graves "are further eloquent testimony to the atrocities of the Ukrainian nationalists," he added.
"(A)ll of the victims were tortured before their murder." A Dnepr battalion soldier Sergey Litvinov explained what happened.
He was arrested. Then transferred to Moscow for further questioning. According to Markin:
He "personally killed civilians not involved in the military conflict, including women and children residents of the villages Melovoye, Shiroky, Makarovo and Kamushnoye, guided by anonymous denunciations."
"What is more interesting that this fighter received a money reward for the killings from his leadership sponsored by Igor Kolomoisky."
He's a prominent oligarch. He's Kiev-appointed Dnepropetrovsk governor. He has no legitimacy whatever.
Earlier he threatened independent Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev. He demanded he leave Ukraine immediately. 
He wrongfully accused him of involvement in shooting a National Guard soldier. He said he and his family would be hunted down, found and killed.
His dirty hands were involved in Odessa's massacre last May. Hundreds were murdered in cold blood. Neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs were involved. 
Kiev's report whitewashed what happened. Eyewitness testimonies were suppressed. Mass murder is official Kiev policy. Unaccountability persists.
According to Markin:
"We know the names of many of the commanders of military units, the militants of the Right Sector and the National Guard, who carry out criminal orders of the military and political leadership of Ukraine." 
Eventually they'll have to answer "not only before the law, but also to their own conscience."
Markin said evidence is irrefutable. Eyewitnesses explained. They're mostly refugees. They fled for their safety.
"In addition to eyewitness accounts, many victims have provided evidence to the Russian Investigative Committee and evidence in the form of soil samples, genetic material," Markin explained. 
"These samples were thoroughly examined, confirming the testimony of witnesses and victims themselves," he added.
He criticized Ukraine's general prosecutor's office for failing to investigate what happened.
"What prevented and is preventing them now from conducting their own investigation into the massacres of the civilian population and to try to protect the innocent population of Donbass instead of making hysterical statements about the alleged 'interference' in the affairs of a sovereign republic," he asked?
Coverup and denial assures unaccountability. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on UN authorities and other international organization officials to investigate crimes of war and against humanity in Ukraine.
Kiev investigations were whitewashed. Expect continued coverup and denial ahead. Washington wants no incriminating evidence revealed.
"Judging by the fact that no progress was made in investigating these incidents, it is possibly time for international organizations, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations… to take the responsibility of ensuring an unbiased and fair investigation," Lavrov said.
After speaking with his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja, he added: 
"We spoke of the necessity to investigate in an unbiased manner all crimes that have been committed in Ukraine." 
"This refers to events in Odessa, Mariupol, what happened with the Malaysian Boeing and reports on mass graves near Donetsk."
"All countries should soberly assess their position on the Ukrainian issue and realize that accusing militiamen and justifying all actions of the Ukrainian authorities is not the way forward."
Clear evidence shows hardline Ukrainian forces bear full responsibility. Accountability is nowhere in sight.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland heads back to the scene of her crimes. 
She represents the worst of America's dark side. She was caught red-handed urging regime change on tape.
She was involved in manipulating Maidan violence. Viktor Yanukovych's ouster followed. Illegitimate fascist putschist governance replaced him.
She lied claiming Washington "stand(s) with the people of Ukraine. (It's) up to the Ukrainian people themselves to decide their future." They've had no say whatever. Nor will they going forward.
On October 5, the State Department said she'll travel to Kiev to discuss Washington's commitment to assist ongoing reform efforts in Ukraine, the status of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and US support for Ukraine's territorial integrity with senior Ukrainian government leaders." 
Shell "meet with a broad spectrum of political leaders, civil society groups, regional government officials, and student groups."
She'll hold secret talks to plot war strategy ahead. Washington wants Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters eliminated.
It wants Ukraine's best and bravest slaughtered in cold blood. It wants challengers to its imperium crushed. It wants democracy prevented at all costs.
Nuland's job is incomplete. She botched things so far. She didn't count on fierce Southeast Ukrainian resistance. 
Too redoubtable to defeat. Able to batter Kiev's military. Expect US efforts going forward to plot new strategies against it.
Perhaps with no better luck. It remains to be seen. Longstanding plans call for pro-Western stooge regimes everywhere.
Giving Washington unchallenged control. Taking full advantage gotten everywhere.
Creating hellish conditions for ordinary people. Creating new profit centers for corporate predators. At the expense of rule of law principles and social justice.
Ukraine is the crown jewel of Washington's eastward expansion. It's key in its drive to incorporate all former Soviet republics and Warsaw pact countries into NATO. 
With Russia's borders surrounded by US bases. With long range multiple warhead nuclear missiles targeting its heartland. 
Eventual plans call for regime change in Russia. Ousting Ukraine's democratically elected government relates directly to it.
Giving Ukraine EU and NATO memberships advances America's imperium hugely. It risks East/West confrontation. 
Perhaps the unthinkable. Maybe global war. Given Washington's rage for dominance, anything ahead is possible.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Stop the Spies: Australians Rise Up Against Mandatory Data Retention

eff.org - Tue, 07/10/2014 - 04:35

It is a tried and tested technique: fomenting a culture of fear of ceaseless war or terrorism, in order to justify arbitrary and authoritarian incursions on civil liberties back at home. We've read about it in George Orwell's 1984, we've heard about it being practised by oppressive regimes such as North Korea, and now we're witnessing it first-hand, in our own supposed liberal democracies including the United States, the United Kingdom and now Australia.

The latest shadow over the civil liberties of Australians is a yet-unnamed mandatory data retention bill that will be introduced into the federal parliament during the week of 27 October. Under the flimsy pretext that this measure is urgently needed to fight terrorism (though actually its scope will be far broader), the bill, if passed, will require Australian Internet providers to scoop up highly personal information about their customers as they use the Internet, and to store it for two years for law enforcement agencies to access.

What you searched for before emailing your lawyer. Who you Skyped with afterwards. Who they have Skyped with. Where you were when chatting with your partner last night. The websites you visit during your lunchbreak. These are just a few examples of the kind of personal information that Australian government agencies will have at their fingertips under this Orwellian law.

Australians have not taken this threat lying down. On 6 October a grassroots website called Stop the Spies was launched to expose this threat and to mobilize ordinary Internet users to stop it. The site contains a form that Australians can use to contact their elected representatives to demand that their privacy be respected, and social media tools to build a network of resistance. If you're not in Australia, perhaps you have Australian friends—if so, you can still help by spreading the word!

We don't have long: there are only three weeks left before the mandatory data retention bill enters parliament, and it we can't sway enough politicians to defeat it before then, it will be another blow for online privacy that takes Australia further down path towards becoming a repressive surveillance state. Tweet #stopthespies and #stopdataretention, and if you are Australian, visit Stop the Spies today to demand your representatives vote against this draconian bill.

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from vimeo.com

Stop The Spies from Stop The Spies on Vimeo.

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Washington's Bloated Defense Budget

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 07/10/2014 - 00:43
Washington's Bloated Defense Budget
by Stephen Lendman
Washington Post editors want America's bloated defense budget increased. So do some of its contributors. More on this below.
America's business is war. Without end. Ravaging, destroying and pillaging one nation after another.
Doing it for wealth, power and dominance. While vital homeland needs go begging. At a time America's only enemies are ones it invents.
Annual congressional national defense authorizations are the tip of the iceberg. America's defense spending constitutes a black hole of waste, fraud and abuse. More on this below.
It's military Keynesianism on steroids. With all categories included, America spends as much or more on militarism, wars and related areas than the rest of the world combined.
Over $1.5 trillion annually goes for so-called defense. Doing so makes the world safe for war profiteers. They never had it better.
Enormous sums get tossed around mindlessly. Government watchdogs identify hundreds of billions of potential savings from unneeded weapons, defective ones, no-bid excess, overpayments, and outright fraud.
Intelligence spending accounts for tens of billions of dollars annually. Other black budgets include enormous unknown amounts.  
Add-ons increase them exponentially. What's spent is hidden from public view. Most congressional members don't know.
On January 13, HR 3855: Intelligence Budget Transparency Act of 2014 was introduced. 
It requires annual federal budget submissions to include total dollar amounts proposed for intelligence and related activities, as well as estimated appropriations required for each of four ensuing years.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Budget. It's gone nowhere so far. 
Gov Track explains only 11% of legislation makes it through committees. In 2011 - 2013, only about 3% passed.
On November 24, 2013, the Army Times said Pentagon base budgeting increased 85% post-9/11. Including overseas contingency operations, it's up over 104%.
Military and civilian personnel costs alone increased by 78% from 2001 to 2012. Weapons development costs grew by around the same amount.
Much of the increase came from cost overruns. The Government Accountability Office said 85 "major (DOD) acquisition programs" ran a collective $411 billion over initially budgeted amounts.
Some acquisition programs aren't completed. Some weapons produced aren't used. Tens of billions of dollars, perhaps hundreds, spent are wasted.
For FY 2015, Obama's proposed discretionary spending allocated 61% for military related purposes, including veterans' benefits. 
Excluded are military related Department of Energy, State and Treasury spending. Department of Homeland Security. NASA. 
Department of Veterans Affairs administration and net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays.
Other priorities get crumbs by comparison:
Government: 6%
Education: 6%
Social Security, Unemployment & labor: 5%
Housing & community: 5%
Medicare & Health: 5%
Energy & environment: 3%
International affairs: 3%
Science: 3%
Transportation: 2%
Food and agriculture: 1%
A previous article discussed enormous Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse. It's a black hole of unaccountability. 
On September 10, 2001, then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said:
"According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
On November 18, 2013 Reuters headlined "Behind the Pentagon's doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste."
Since 1996, DOD was never held accountable for $8.5 trillion. Sweetheart deals, no-bid contracts, out-of-control cost overruns,  bribes and kickbacks are commonplace.
So is routine over-billing amounting to grand theft. DOD has a virtual blank check. Defense contractor favorites cash in hugely.
At taxpayers' expense. Sacrificing peace, stability, security, equity and justice. Shutting out vital homeland needs.
According to Reuters, DOD "chronic(ally) fail(s) to keep track of its money - how much it has, how much it pays out, and how much is wasted or stolen."
Monthly it spills far more than most nations spend annually in total. It's entire record keeping system is dysfunctional. Nothing remedial is done.
It doesn't keep track of its vast amount and types of weapons, munitions and related supplies. It spends huge amounts on what's not needed. 
How much isn't known. Operations are rife with waste and fraud. Abuses go undiscovered for years. Accountability is entirely lacking.
Congress largely ignores abusive practices. It pays lip service at times. Too weak-kneed to matter.
Advancing America's imperium matters most. Pedal-to-the-metal unaudited spending continues out-of-control.
Not according to Washington Post editors. They want more. On October 5, they headlined "Paying for wars against the Islamic State, Ebola and more," saying:
Budgets "needed to sustain them (are) crumbling." Despite rising defense spending with all categories included, WaPo editors claim huge cuts were made.
More are coming, they say, at a time America spends as much or more on defense and related areas than the rest of the world combined.
Not enough, say WaPo editors. "(T)he Pentagon's ability to respond to the multiple international crises of this year (is) hamstrung," they claim.
Pentagon spending is likely to be "underfunded by hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years," they added.
Congress should budget adequately for America's wars and then some, they urge. Never mind their lawlessness. Or destructiveness. Or cost in millions of lives.
A previous article discussed Mitt Romney's September 4 WaPo op-ed headlined "The need for a mighty US military," saying:
"Russia invades, China bullies, Iran spins centrifuges, the Islamic State ('a terrorist threat beyond anything that we've seen,' according to the defense secretary) threatens - and Washington slashes the military."
So-called defense cuts are more illusion than real. Military Keynesianism remains official US policy.
Sequestration cuts barely touched defense authorizations. Nor will they going forward. Unaccountable trillions are wasted.
Spending goes for high crimes against peace. Wars without mercy. Without end. In multiple theaters. With others planned. Romney wants more than already. So do others in Washington.
No nation causes more harm to more people globally than America. None more lawlessly. Or ruthlessly. Or cynically. Or unapologetically. 
Dominance matters most. So does plundering world resources. America's military is an out-of-control monster. It threatens humanity's survival.
Hawks infesting Washington want greater destructive power than already. They want it used to advance America's imperium.
Michele Flournoy and Eric Adelman are former undersecretaries of defense for policy. For Obama and GW Bush respectively.
On September 19, they headlined "Cuts to defense spending are hurting our national security," saying:
"(D)ramatic global events (remind) us all that the United States faces perhaps the most complex and volatile security environment since World War II."
It's an "environment" of its own making. It's pure evil. It's lawlessly out-of-control. Permanent wars assure more to come.
Mass slaughter and destruction reflect the American way. So does carving up whole continents for plunder and profit.
Don't expect Flournoy and Adelman to explain. They call reigning in irresponsible defense spending a "serious strategic misstep."
It compromises America's "national defense strategy." A "readiness crisis within our armed forces" already exists, they claim.
"The US military is an indispensable instrument underpinning the diplomatic, economic and intelligence elements of our national power," they insist. 
"It keeps key trade routes open, maintains stability in vital regions such as the Persian Gulf and sustains alliances that serve US and global interests."
US forces "must be able to deter or stop aggression in multiple theaters," they claim. They exist because Washington initiates them.
Continues them. Does so against one country after another. It bears repeating. America's business is war. Permanent ones against enemies it invents.
Stopping them requires huge defense spending cuts. Closing overseas bases. Curtaining weapons development. Waging peace, not war.
If US military spending was one-fourth or less its current amount, it would still outspend world nations budgeting more for defense than other nations except Washington.
Imagine possible savings if US aggressive wars ended. And occupations. And its empire of bases was shuttered. 
And its 2.3 million active frontline and active reserve personnel numbers were drastically reduced.
Imagine peace instead of war. Imagine a world safe to live in. 
Imagine US resources going for popular and other responsible needs. Imagine polar opposite today's conditions.
Not as long as hawks make policy. Flournoy and  Adelman ludicrously claim US security requires more military spending, not less.
For "critical capabilities," they say. For better ways to wage aggressive wars. To make the world safe for monied interests. To risk destroying it at the same time.
Robert Samuelson is a WaPo columnist. He covers politics, business and economic issues. 
He makes economics look like pseudoscience. He's notoriously neoliberal. He moralizes over deficit conditions.
He prioritizes austerity. He wants Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cut more than already. Last month, he hyperventilated over "America's neglected defense."
He turned truth on its head doing it. Big Lies littered his commentary. It makes painful reading.
He lied claiming Russia "manufactured a 'rebellion' " in Ukraine. He ignored Washington using Islamic State fighters as foot soldiers saying they expanded their footprint in Iraq.
He omitted key facts saying "China harassed ships of nations claiming islands (it) considers its own." He claimed "implications of these events seem to have escaped the Obama White House and Congress."
He blames his convoluted version of events on nonexistent defense cuts. "(J)ust another line in the budget," he said. "(D)isconnected from our strategic interests and potential threats."
"(A) money pot (to be used for) Social Security and Medicare, which are largely immune to cuts," he said.
Fact check
Social Security and Medicare have been on the chopping block for years. Obama alone cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare.
Plans are either to hand both programs to Wall Street or end them altogether. "Creeping normalcy" intends death by a 1,000 cuts by one means or another.
No matter that both programs aren't entitlements. They're insurance plans paid for by payroll taxes. 
They're contractual federal obligations Washington intends reneging on. Don't expect Samuelson to explain.
Or that defense spending sucks up 61% of US discretionary spending. He wants more. As much as possible to battle America's invented enemies. 
To enrich war profiteers. To advance America's imperium. To do it at the expense of world peace, stability and security.
Samuelson ludicrously claims strategic US needs "are twisted to fit available defense dollars, as opposed to" spending unlimited amounts on war-making.
On mass slaughter and destruction. On creating unspeakable human misery. On ravaging planet earth to control it. Pillage it.
"Defense makes a tempting target for budget-cutters," Samuelson claims. So-called sequester cuts were illusory. So are planned future ones.
When America goes to war on plans one, Congress appropriates whatever is needed to wage it.
It's mindless about amounts spent. Or on unneeded new weapons. Or on billions given Israel annually for its wars in violation of US law prohibiting human rights abusers from receiving any military aid.
Or trillions down the drain on massive waste, fraud and abuse. America's top priority is serving corrupted monied interests. Wars benefit them hugely.
Amounts spent way exceed budgeted totals. At the expense of vital popular needs.
Not according to Samuelson. "There are more missions and fewer resources," he says. Why any so-called "missions" at all he left unexplained.
Ones he named included:
  • "fighting terrorism" America invents;

  • "protecting Europe" from a nonexistent Russian threat;

  • "coping with Iran's (well-known peaceful/legitimate) nuclear program;

  • "containing North Kore" despite its longstanding efforts seeking rapprochement with Washington and other Western nations; they've been rebuffed for decades; and

  • what Samuelson calls "a resurgent China" posing no threat to America or Asian nations.

US global leadership depends on "military might," he claims. He ludicrously says it provides "stability." It's "under-appreciated," he added.
At a time huge military spending cuts are needed more than ever, he claims increased amounts are "in our interest."
Billions worldwide disagree. So do the vast majority of world nations. Don't expect Samuelson to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Joe Biden's Rhetorical Ineptness

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 06/10/2014 - 21:44
Joe Biden's Rhetorical Ineptness
by Stephen Lendman
His intellect is sorely lacking. His Senate years were notably unimpressive. He's skilled at putting his foot in his mouth. He reinvents history.
On October 2, his comments riled nations allied with Washington's Middle East wars. More on them below.
His remarks often draw criticism. They do so for good reason. "No one doubts that I mean what I say," he explained. "The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean."
One observer said his "mouth out-runs his brain" at times. At a March 2010 Obamacare signing ceremony, he whispered in Obama's ear: "This is a big f..king deal."
He did loud enough to be heard on air. He's not the first political leader known for earthy language. 
In response to BP's April 2010 Mexican Gulf oil spill, Obama said on air he was looking for "whose ass to kick."
His former White House chief of staff/current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's favorite four-letter word begins with "f." It ends in "k."
As Texas governor, George Bush called New York Times correspondent Adam Clymer a "major league asshole."
As vice president, Dick Cheney argued with Senator Patrick Leahy about judicial nominees and Halliburton contacts (Cheney's former company). It ended with Cheney telling Leahy to "(g)o "f..k yourself."
Bill Clinton used four-letter profanity often. GHW Bush bragged about "kick(ing) a little ass" in political altercations. He called it "an old Texas football expression."
Campaigning for reelection in 1979. Jimmy Carter said "(i)f Kennedy runs, I'll whip his ass." His best remembered gaff came in a 1976 Playboy magazine interview.
"I've looked on a lot of women with lust," he said. "I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do - and I have done it - and God forgives me for it."
"Christ says, "(d)on't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife.' " 
"The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of his relative degree of sinfulness."
Nixon avoid public cursing. He saved it for private conversations. Oval Office transcripts revealed it. At times, "expletive deleted" avoided embarrassing moments.
Other times, earthy comments dotted his rhetoric. "People said my language was bad," he explained. "But Jesus, you should have heard LBJ."
He was notorious. He told dirty stories. He used the "N" word often. He once told a Kennedy aide:
"He wouldn't know how to piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel."
He criticized Gerald Ford saying: "He can't fart and chew gum at the same time."
Jack Kennedy's naval service taught him profanity. Or as some like to put it, swear like a sailor. He did it discretely.
Harry Truman liked to cuss. It was part of his tell-it-like-it-is appeal. He once said during campaigning: "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell."
He once called Nixon "a shifty-eyed goddamn liar, and people know it."
Discussing his decision to fire General Douglas MacArthur in April 1951 during the Korean War, he said:
"I fired (him) because he wouldn't respect the authority of the president." 
"I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son-of-a-bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals."
Truman criticized Joe Kennedy. He called him "as big a crook as we've got anywhere in this country, and I don't like it that he bought his son the nomination for the presidency."
"He bought West Virginia. I don't know how much it cost him. He's a tightfisted old son-of-a-bitch; so he didn't pay any more than he had to." 
"But he bought West Virginia, and that's how his boy won the primary over Humphrey."
Franklin Roosevelt's vice president John Nance Garner once said "(t)he vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss."
With incumbents like Biden, it lives up to tradition. In December 2009, the Onion poked fun at him saying:
"During an unexpected visit Thursday to an organizational meeting for this year's White House Christmas party, Vice President Joe Biden winked mischievously as he offered to 'handle' the eggnog supply for the upcoming annual event." 
" 'Uncle Joe's got the nog under control," said Biden. He "flash(ed) a metal flask protruding from the inside pocket of his suit jacket." 
" 'Old family recipe,' " he said. He calls his vice presidential job "a bitch." He claims happy warrior elements in it.
Dotted with earthy language. Including the anti-Semitic pejorative "shylock."
Critics accuse of him of foot-in-mouth-disease. His rhetoric outruns his sensibility. 
On October 2, he responded to a question on whether Washington should have acted earlier on Syria, and if not why is now right?" He responded, saying:
"The answer is 'no' for 2 reasons. One, the idea of identifying a moderate middle has been a chase America has been engaged in for a long time."
"We Americans think in every country in transition there is a Thomas Jefferson hiding beside some rock - or a James Madison beyond one sand dune." 
"The fact of the matter is the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria was - there was no moderate middle because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers." 
"They are made up of people who in fact have ordinary elements of the middle class of that country." 
"And what happened was - and history will record this because I'm finding that former administration officials, as soon as they leave write books which I think is inappropriate…" 
"(B)ut anyway, no I'm serious. I do think it's inappropriate at least, you know, give the guy a chance to get out of office." 
"And what my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria." 
"The Turks were great friends - and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with - the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc." 
"What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do?" 
"They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world." 
"Now you think I’m exaggerating. Take a look. Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening?" 
"All of a sudden everybody's awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them." 
"So what happened? Now all of a sudden - I don't want to be too facetious - but they had seen the Lord?" 
"Now we have. The President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can't once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor."
"it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization. So what do we have for the first time?"
Audio ends there. We don't know what else he said unless someone listening explains.
Fact check on what we know he said:
Syria is Obama's war. He launched it in March 2011. He did so to oust Assad. He wants a convenient US-friendly stooge replacing him. 
He wants an Israeli rival removed. He wants Iran isolated. He wants unchallenged regional dominance. He's waging wars with end to achieve it.
Biden's involved as his vice president. He's right saying belligerent anti-Assad moderates don't exist. Internal government opponents want things resolved nonviolently.
They oppose civil war. Against conflict destroying their country. Against outside elements involved. 
Against Washington's dirty hands stoking conflict. Against regional states' involvement.
Biden lied claiming Washington's "biggest problem is our allies." Anyone familiar with what's going on knows it's rubbish.
Conflict didn't begin until Obama authorized it. Enlisted regional support. Got plenty from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Western nations and others.
He wouldn't have gone it alone without them. He needs coalition cover for his crimes. He wants partners committing high crimes against peace with him.
He wants Saudi and Qatari money. Ousting Assad is his decision. Willing co-conspirators agreed to help.
It bears repeating what other articles explained. ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State (IS) and likeminded Islamic extremists are US creations.
Don't expect Biden to explain. Or his involvement throughout years of conflict. 
Claiming "we could not convince our (regional) colleagues to stop supplying" Islamic extremist turns truth on its head. It's rubbish. It's ludicrous on its face.
Previous articles explained US special forces and CIA operatives train Islamic death squads in Jordan and Turkey. Some in Georgia.
They're armed, trained, funded, directed and taught the fine art of killing. With chemical weapons. And gruesome atrocities. With beheadings for more shocking world headlines.
Biden's self-righteous explanation is polar opposite truth. He didn't surprise. Big Lies substituted for candor. 
Don't expect further comments including it. Or regional peace any time soon. Perhaps in our lifetime. 
Not as long as US aggression goes unchecked. Or Israel's. Or  rogue EU partners and regional despots willing to go along.
Not unless people power decides otherwise. So far, it's nowhere in sight where it's most needed. On US streets, campuses and elsewhere nationwide
Replicating anti-Vietnam sentiment. More strongly than back then. Staying the course. Maintaining it no matter how long it takes. 
Demanding US imperial wars end. Demanding peace in our time for real. Insisting US resources go for popular needs.
Demanding responsible government serves everyone equitably, fairly and justly. Refusing to quit until objectives never before achieved are accomplished. 
Beneficial changes happen when enough committed people accept no less. They're more than ever needed now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

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