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Cindy Cohn to Become EFF's New Executive Director in 2015

eff.org - Thu, 06/11/2014 - 01:31
Longtime ED Shari Steele to Step Down After 22 Years at EFF

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Director Cindy Cohn will become EFF's new executive director in April, after Executive Director Shari Steele steps down from the post she's held for 14 years.

With more than 20 years at EFF, Steele has been a driving force of the organization since its earliest days. She has overseen the growth of EFF from a handful of staffers to a 60-person organization at the forefront of every major digital rights issue the world faces today. As executive director, she built a superstar team of attorneys, technologists, and advocates, cementing EFF's reputation as one of the most respected and fiercely independent groups working for technology users' rights. During Steele's tenure, EFF's yearly budget went from less than $1 million in 1999 to almost $9 million for the fiscal year 2014-2015, and membership grew from less than 2000 dues-paying members to over 24,000.

"I've spent most of my working life at EFF, and it's hard to imagine leaving this amazing group of people," said Steele. "I'm so incredibly proud of this organization. I will miss everybody terribly as my family relocates to the Seattle area."

"Shari has been the visionary behind EFF's evolution into the critically important institution it is today. She saw the expanding need for this organization and made sure we were always ready to do this work," said EFF Chairman of the Board of Directors Brian Behlendorf. "Cindy has also been instrumental to EFF's successes, and we're pleased she will continue this vitally important work as executive director."

Cohn has been involved with EFF for over 20 years, first working on Bernstein v. Department of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. In 2000, Cohn became legal director, and her work included spearheading EFF's groundbreaking lawsuits challenging the NSA's illegal mass surveillance of Americans and people around the world. She has been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America in addition to numerous other honors.

"I have been so fortunate to have worked with Cindy Cohn for the past 20 years," said Steele. "Cindy is a brilliant lawyer, a charismatic leader, and a moral compass for the organization. I am confident that EFF will continue to thrive under her leadership."

"Cindy is one of the smartest lawyers I've ever known, and a great strategist," said EFF co-founder John Gilmore. "Cindy truly understands what makes EFF successful, and we're thrilled she will lead the organization."

EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will take over as legal director. McSherry has been at EFF for nearly 10 years, recently testifying to Congress about the problems with the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), arguing in the D.C. Circuit against copyright trolls, and leading EFF's fight for net neutrality. In addition to serving as legal director, McSherry will continue to lead EFF's intellectual property legal team.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney David Greene will become EFF's new civil liberties director. Before joining EFF last year, Greene had been executive director of the First Amendment Project and was a founding member of the Internet Free Expression Alliance.

EFF Deputy General Counsel Kurt Opsahl will become EFF's general counsel, a post formerly held by Cohn, and will also serve as EFF's deputy executive director with duties including being the primary liaison to the Development, Finance, Technology Ops, and Operations teams. Opsahl is EFF's lead attorney on its cases challenging National Security Letters (NSLs) and recently argued against the NSLs' unconstitutional gag provisions in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

"We have big shoes to fill with Shari leaving, but thanks to her and the deep team we've built, we're ready," said Cohn. "I look forward to leading EFF into this next chapter and to helping build the movement for digital rights into a force that speaks for people worldwide."

Steele will remain as EFF's executive director until April of next year. 2015 marks EFF's 25th anniversary.

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
   Media Relations Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   press@eff.org


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Categories: Aggregated News

US Midterm Electoral Results

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 20:13
US Midterm Electoral Results
by Stephen Lendman
Ignore scoundrel media who won, who lost horserace rubbish. US electoral politics is too debauched to fix. Big money corrupts it.
Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Most bums are reelected. New ones replace others. 
Things change but stay the same.  Special interests rule. People have no say. US-style democracy mocks the real thing. Key points bear stressing.
Fact: America's electoral process is farcical.
Fact: Meaningless kabuki theater.
Fact: Illegitimate by any democratic standard.
Fact: Things aren't what they seem.
Fact: Skim milk masquerades as cream, wrote WS Gilbert.
Fact: Candidates are pre-selected, pre-packaged cardboard cutouts.
Fact: Powerful interests choose them.
Fact: Big money owns them.
Fact: Key outcomes are predetermined.
Fact: Voters get the best democracy money can buy.
Fact: Media critic Robert McChesney calls America's system a "dollarocracy."
Fact: Big money and media election complex controlled.
Fact: Monied interests win every time.
Fact: Ordinary people lose.
Fact: Duopoly power rules.
Fact: Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. 
Fact: Interchangeable with each other.
Fact: Not a dime's worth of difference separates them on issues mattering most.
Fact: Including corporate empowerment, imperial wars, police state justice, Big Brother surveillance, and capital's divine right to exploit workers, control markets, plunder world resources, and rule without challenge.
Fact: Beneficial social change doesn't matter.
Fact: Independents are shut out.
Fact: Media scoundrels ignore them.
Fact: Issues mattering most go unaddressed.
Fact: Horse race journalism and trivia substitute.
Fact: Millions of Americans are disenfranchised.
Fact: Millions more don't vote.
Fact: Half the electorate or more opts out.
Fact: Why bother. Their interests aren't represented.
Fact: Tuesday's turnout was a pathetic 38%. In California, barely above one-third.
Fact: Despite almost $4 billion spent campaigning.
Fact: The most expensive midterm ever.
Fact: The supremely pro-business High Court's Citizen United ruling gave monied interests virtually unlimited power to control things.
Fact: One dollar now = one vote. Trampling on democratic freedoms. Affording them to special interests only. Denying them to all others.
Ralph Nader denounced Citizens United, saying:
It "shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process." 
"It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations." 
"With this decision, corporations can now also draw on their corporate treasuries and pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars."
"This corporatist, anti-voter decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a Constitutional Amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics." 
"It is indeed time for a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the civic and political voices and values of citizens and voters." 
"It is way overdue to overthrow 'King Corporation' and restore the sovereignty of 'We the People' "!
Fact: Dirty money infests politics.
Fact: Duopoly power corrupts it.
Fact: Corporations and powerful interests groups decide things.
Fact: Democracy is a convenient illusion.
Fact: Constitutionally flawed by design.
Fact: Wealth, power and privilege alone count.
Fact: Government serves their interests only.
Fact: Shutting out all others.
Fact: We the People don't matter.
Fact: For sure not now.
Fact: Egalitarian principles exist in name only.
Fact: Checks, balances, equity, justice and democratic values are meaningless figures of speech.
Fact: Plutocrats rule America. Wall Street. Corporate bosses. Billionaires.
Fact: What they say goes.
Fact: Not according to laws, high moral or ethical standards.
Fact: Executive, congressional, and judicial officials systematically lie, connive, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest.
Fact: America more than ever reflects plutocracy, hypocrisy, not democracy.
Fact: Freedom, fairness, equity and justice are figures of speech. Four-letter words.
Fact: US elections were never open, free and fair.
Fact: Electoral fraud is rife.
Fact: Corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic voting machines are rigged.
Fact: Programmed with secret software.
Fact: Easy to manipulate.
Fact: Used to steal elections.
Fact: Things are pre-scripted.
Fact: Secrecy and back-room deals substitute for governance of, by and for everyone equitably.
Fact: Losers are declared winners.
Fact: Polls show only 21% of Americans call economic conditions good or excellent.
Fact: Around one-fourth alone see improvement next year.
Fact: US-style representative democracy is fake. A cruel sham. Neither representative or democratic.
Fact: Grassroots direct democracy alone works. People power.
Fact: America is too corrupted to fix. 
Fact: Debauched beyond repair.
Fact: Unfit to live in.
Fact: Symbolizing absolute power corrupting absolutely.
Fact: Scattered reforms won't work.
Fact: Transformational change is needed.
Fact: So is disruptive people power more than ever.
Fact: Making it the new normal is vital.
Fact: Resisting tyranny is a universal right.
John McMurtry was this writer's Progressive Radio News Hour Tuesday guest. Discussion focused on his new book titled "The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure." 
His first edition was published over a decade ago. His new one greatly expands and updates it.
It's must reading. Connecting important dots. Explaining a global disorder. Headquartered in America.
"As in any cancer system, the life host is increasingly plundered, but the cancer is masked from immune recognition or response," says McMurtry.
"The cancer stage of capitalism is not a metaphor." It's "a world-system disorder." 
"(A)n explanatory model." Explaining the "characteristics of cancer invasion." 
"Proliferat(ing), decoupl(ing) from, and attack(ing) the productive functions of life hosts." Genocide becomes its "leading edge."
"Transnational money sequencing" becomes a be all and end all. Manipulated to make more of it.  
Multiplying like cancer cells. Self-destructive and then some. Endless wars best explain. So does predatory finance.
"(W)hole societies and tens of millions of people pay the price in mass disemployment, social system dismantling, and foreign expropriation," says McMurtry.
"The life-blind private conglomerate money-sequences precipitat(e) collapse across nations." Victims are blamed for what's done to them.
" 'Contagion' conceals every moment of the cancer system at work."
Monied interests crowd out life sustaining systems. Mainstream economics ignores what's wrong.
"The people must pay for the money-sequence cancer growth, and so more public wealth and individual savings must be taken away to do it," McMurtry explains.
Operating by "debt multiplication." Piled on governments and individuals. Done to enrich bankers and other corporate favorites. Profits matter more than people.
A slippery slope to carcinogenic self-destruction. US electoral politics sustains the unsustainable. 
Cumulatively worse the longer it's unrecognized. Destroying ecological, social and organic life.
The "Great Sickness," according to McMurtry. Global ecogenocide. Degrading air, soil and water. Destabilizing climates and oceans.
Destroying species. Endangering life systems. Creating intolerable levels of world poverty, inequality and human misery. Benefiting privilege few at the expense of most others.
Producing health destroying "junk" unfit to eat. Indebtedness crowds out productive investments. 
Wars take precedence over peace. Corporate empowerment matters more than life.
McMurtry says a "social immune response" is required to fight "macro cancer."
More than ever a viable alternative is needed. Sustaining societies requires a universal commitment to life and nature.
Entirely absent in Western societies. Mainly America. On a fast track toward decline. Self-destruction. 
Money-controlled politics corrupts. Unsustainable longterm. Revolution is the only solution. Survival depends on it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

NATO Wants More Troops to Counter Nonexistent Russian Threat

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 07:19
NATO Wants More Troops to Counter Nonexistent Russian Threat
by Stephen Lendman
New NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg mimics his predecessor. A convenient US stooge. A CIA asset. 
Beholden to America's imperial interests. Mindless of rule of law principles. Repeating one Big Lie after another.
Wrongfully claiming Donbas democratic elections were unlawful. Shamelessly accusing Russia of threatening Ukraine's border.
Groundlessly saying it "continues to support, train and equip" Donbas self-defense forces. Ludicrously "call(ing) on Russia to make genuine efforts toward a peaceful solution." 
No country anywhere did more for it responsibly since conflict erupted in Ukraine. None exerted more genuine efforts tirelessly. 
Polar opposite Washington's rage for war. Along with its rogue NATO partners. 
What Stoltenberg didn't explain. Washington's man at NATO. A convenient US stooge. Chosen for that reason. For sure not for world peace.
NATO is a US-led killing machine. Operating globally. Prioritizing war. Deploring peace. 
Comprised of nearly one-third of world nations. Including members and partners. Planning exponential expansion. 
Usurping world policeman powers. Threatening humanity's survival.
On November 3, Stars and Stripes headlined "Breedlove: More rotational forces needed in Europe."
US European Commander/NATO head General Philip Breedlove citied nonexistent "security challenges." Invented ones for US geopolitical interests. Targeting Russia irresponsibly.
Holding provocative nine NATO member states Iron Sword military exercises in Lithuania. Near Russia's border. In response to US-caused Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Continuing them through November 14. Training for "interoperability in NATO units, co-ordination of actions and readiness to complete defensive and offensive operations," according to Lithuania's DELFI news agency.
Conducted largely in Parbrade's Silvestras Zukauskas training range, as well as at Lithuania's Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanized Infantry Battalion's Rukla training area.
Part of an effort to boost US-led NATO's presence near Russia's borders. Irresponsibly doing so. Risking potential East/West confrontation.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel claims Washington "must deal with a revisionist Russia - with its modern and capable army - on NATO's doorstep."
Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu countered saying Washington "stubbornly approach(es)…closer to our doors."
Provocatively. Belligerently. Without just cause. Hagel's "thesis on the necessity for the American army to 'deal' with 'modern and capable' Russian armed forces on NATO's doorstep is of grave concern," he added. 
"This testifies to the fact that the Pentagon is working on scenarios for operations at the borders of our country" irresponsibly.
Weeks earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced similar concerns. Saying NATO's Eastern expansion undermines European security.
"I believe (it's) a mistake…a provocation," said Lavrov. (A)n irresponsible policy that (sabotages) commitments to build a common security system in Europe, based on equality of rights for all, regardless of alignment or non-alignment with any military-political bloc."
Breedlove is Washington's anti-Russian point man. Lying about additional Eastern rotational forces needed.
To counter a (nonexistent) revanchist Russia and (US-supported) Islamic State insurgency.
"Because of the increased pressure that we feel in Eastern Europe now, and because of the assurance measures that we are taking in the Baltics, in Poland and in Romania, we require additional rotational presence," he said. 
"What we are doing is working with the Army and other services to use their regionally aligned forces to get them forward, to get their experience forward, to bring that capability to interact with our partners and allies."
He stopped short of explaining how added rotational forces will be used.
In October, Fort Hood-based 1st Brigade Combat Team/1st Cavalry Division troops were sent to Eastern Europe in response to nonexistent Russian operations in Ukraine.
According to Breedlove, smaller numbers of Russian forces remain active near Ukraine's border.
He's looking for ways to enhance potential Eastern European operational logistics.
"Additionally I'm having discussions with the service chiefs about the possibility of forward-based equipment and supplies - as the Army calls, them 'activity sets' - in order to give us a more responsive capability if we were to need it in the future," he said.
Looking for ways to use thousands of US forces effectively. Without force level cuts.
"My first budgetary priority is to not further decrease forces in Europe, because I believe we're sized just right," he said. 
"As I said before, I think we have infrastructure that can be divested but not force structure."
Washington's provocative Eastern European presence threatens Russia. Ludicrously citing a significant provocative rise in its fighter and bomber incursions into European airspace.
Moscow threatens no one. It champions world peace, stability and security. Working tirelessly for it. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
In contrast, Washington wages permanent wars. Ravaging and destroying one country after another. 
Planning more mass slaughter and destruction. Threatening world peace in the process.
Weeks earlier, Russia's NATO Ambassador Alexander Grusho accused NATO of encroaching on its borders. Using Ukrainian crisis conditions as a pretext to do it.
To "flex (its) muscles" irresponsibly. "NATO is weakening its own position as a player with global ambitions after it shunned cooperation with Russia on Afghanistan and on struggle with terrorism and piracy," he said. 
It won't "solve anything by itself and moreover, efforts taken by NATO alone only negatively affect the situation."
"The problem with NATO is that when it pumps its infrastructure up or when it pumps up its muscles, the alliance does not think about the European security."
"We are ready to cooperate with the Alliance under the condition that it will pay due regard to our national interests," Grushko stressed. 
"Cooperation is possible only on these conditions." Russia prioritizes cooperative relations with all countries. 
Washington provocatively seeksw confrontations. World peace hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF to Librarian of Congress: Let Car Owners Look Under the Hood

eff.org - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 04:42

The reach of copyright law has expanded so far that it now threatens people's ability to repair their own cars and protect them against malware. Yesterday, EFF launched a legal campaign to fend off that threat.

Some background: Section 1201, the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA, was created, supposedly, to help discourage people from breaking DRM restrictions in order to infringe, but in practice it has chilled a wide array of legitimate activities that require users to break DRM in order to do completely legitimate, non-infringing things that were often never even contemplated by device designers and rightsholders. But once every three years, the Librarian of Congress, working with the Copyright Office, hears requests from the many members of the public whose speech and other rights are chilled by the law and considers whether to grant exemptions.

Yesterday, EFF and a wide range of public interest groups filed a host of requests asking the Librarian to do his part to mitigate the harms caused by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The exemption requests, which are collected here include things like jailbreaking, ripping for remix (more on these two later this week), phone unlocking, and ebook accessibility for the print disabled. These are now familiar examples of DMCA overreach.

New this cycle, however, are our requests to allow vehicle owners to repair, study, and tinker with their own vehicles. Modern cars contain dozens of computers called electronic control units (ECUs), and the code on those ECUs is potentially covered by copyright. But many repairs require access to that code, as does research into vehicle safety. When auto manufacturers deploy technology to lock people out of the code controlling their own cars, that can transform an act of repair or research into a violation of the DMCA. The result is that only persons authorized by the manufacturer can effectively perform repairs, and independent audits of car safety and security take place under a legal cloud, if at all.

That work is important. Errors in ECU code can cause braking systems to malfunction, and security researchers have exposed vulnerabilities that would allow attackers to hijack vehicle functions. When this research takes place in public, it makes it much more likely that manufacturers will act to fix those problems.

Without an exemption, we could also lose out on the insights and inventions of the millions of Americans who enjoy tinkering with and improving their cars. Some car modders have experimented and found that modifications to the code in vehicle ECUs can increase fuel efficiency. Others have implemented new vehicle functions using free space in the ECUs' memory. As vehicle-to-vehicle communications become more revealing, user modification may also be necessary to counteract pervasive digital tracking of vehicle movements that is even more revealing than the current use of automatic license plate readers.

Not all ECU code is copyrightable, and not all ECUs are locked down in a way that triggers DMCA liability, but people shouldn't have to hire a copyright lawyer before repairing their cars. We requested vehicle exemptions to give people the peace of mind to learn about and repair the cars upon which they rely, and we hope the Copyright Office agrees that copyright law has no place getting in the way.

EFF thanks the NYU Technology Law Clinic and Marcia Hofmann for their valuable assistance in preparing this cycle’s exemption requests for vehicle software.

 

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDefend Your Right to Repair!DMCADMCA RulemakingDRMRelated Cases: 2015 DMCA Rulemaking
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Categories: Aggregated News

Top Retired Israeli Security Officials Support Peace with Palestinians

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 04:27
Top Retired Israeli Security Officials Support Peace with Palestinians
by Stephen Lendman
Including 98 retired generals. Two former Mossad directors. Three retired national police chiefs - 103 in all.
Some reports said 105. Others 106. Key is scores of former high-ranking Israeli security officials embracing peace. Publicly.
Words mean nothing without meaningful action. Former officials can only influence public opinion. 
Much more than letter-writing is needed. Sustained longterm commitment matters most. 
A desire to end decades of conflict. The will to make it happen. Equitably. Polar opposite numerous phony Israeli peace plans. 
Meaningless. One-way. All take. No give. Dead on arrival for good reason. 
Former security officials' letter said the following:
"To: The Prime Minister - Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu
Jerusalem
Re: Political-regional outlook - two states for two peoples
Dear Prime Minister,
We, the undersigned, are IDF commanders and police officers in the reserves that have fought in Israel’s wars.
We know from experience the heavy and painful price exacted by these wars; we fought powerfully for the State in the hope that our children would live here in peace. 
But the reality is that we are again sending our children to the battlefields, watching them don uniforms and bulletproof vests to fight in Operation Protective Edge.
We were impressed by your level-headed leadership in Operation Protective Edge; in those circumstances Israel could not and cannot allow fire on our homes nor to put the public in danger. 
But this operation may turn out to be in vain if we do not act to prevent the next war. The government of Israel and its residents do not have the privilege of sitting around idly. 
It is time to take responsibility for our future and take advantage of the historical opportunity that has come up following Operation Protective Edge.
We are in the midst of the memorial days marking the fallen of the Yom Kippur War, a war that stemmed from the political blindness of the Israeli leadership. 
We are concerned that similar blindness will thwart the opportunity before us. 
Therefore we call on you to adopt the political-regional approach and begin negotiations with moderate Arab states and with the Palestinians (in the West Bank and in Gaza, too) based on the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative, as proposed to Israel by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the recent international conference in Cairo, and Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal last July.
Sir, you yourself have declared a political horizon and stated that there are shared interests. 
You know that the moderate Arab states want to promote together with us a political arrangement that will enable us to confront our mutual enemies together and stabilize the Middle East.
You know that this is the real answer to the Iranian threat and the terror threats of ISIL, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. 
You also know that only the political-regional approach and an arrangement with the moderate Arab states has a chance of bringing about an agreement with the Palestinians, stability, security and economic prosperity.
The political-regional approach brings with it great hope. Only this approach can create the dramatic political change that will lead to socio-economic growth and turn Israel into model society for its citizens, the Jews of the Diaspora and the nations of the world. 
Only this approach can be the weight that will tip the socio-economic scale, lower the high cost of living and impact the quality of life of the public that is raising its voice in economic protest.This is not a question of right or left. 
This is not a question of fear. This is another idea for the solution of the conflict that is not based on negotiations with the Palestinians that have failed time and again.
Sir, please do not join those who, every other day, use warnings of danger as an excuse to do nothing. We know what is necessary to achieve security for Israel, and we know that regional cooperation will contribute to this goal.
There is a high chance that this initiative will succeed! But even if it doesn’t, you owe this to the people of Israel.
Only then can we look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say: 'We tried; we are sorry, we did not succeed.'
We expect of you a courageous initiative, leadership and vision.
As a fighter, you were raised on the slogan 'only he who dares, succeeds.'
As a politician, adopt the slogan 'only he who initiates, succeeds.'
Lead the way and we will stand behind you!"
Signatories include:
Zamir, Zvi, former head of Mossad, Major General (res). Yatom, Danny, former MK; former head of Mossad; Major General (res). Hefetz, Assaf, Commissioner (ret.) Turner, Yaakov, Commissioner (ret.) ; Brigadier General (res.) Shaffir, Herzl, Commissioner (ret.). Major General (res.) Avigdor, Gideon, Brigadier General (res.) Even Zahav, Yehu, Brigadier General (res.). Egozi, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Agmon, Uri, Brigadier General (res.) Agmon, Yoram, Brigadier General (res.). Ohayon, Berti, Major General (ret.- police) Ophir, Gabi, Major General (res.) Oron, Israela, Brigadier General (res.) Ilya, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Almog, Avraham, Brigadier General (res.) Almog, Zeev, Major General (res.) Erez, Haim, Major General (res.) Erez, Oded, Brigadier General (res.) Asher, Danny, Brigadier General (res.) Baharav, Yisrael, Brigadier General (res.) Biton, Dan, Major General (res.) Ben Bashat, David, Major General (res.) Ben David, Shimon, Brigadier General (res.) Ben Nun, Aviyahu, Major General (res.) Ben Porat, Mordechai, Brigadier General (res.) Ben Reuven, Eyal, Major General (res.) Bar, (Y.B.) Yehuda, Brigadier General (res.) Bar-David, Avraham, Brigadier General (res.) Baram, Amos, Brigadier General (res.) Barak, Haim, Brigadier General (res.) Gavish, Yeshayahu (Shaike), Major General (res.) Givoli, Shaul, Major General (ret.- police); Brigadier General (res.) Gonen, Yosef, Brigadier General (res.) Gofen, Haim, Brigadier General (res.) Goren, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Gazit, Shlomo, Major General (res.) Gross, Ehud, Brigadier General (res.) Dolev, Eran, Brigadier General (res.) Dotan, Yishai, Brigadier General (res.) Dotan, Rami, Brigadier General (res.) Waks, Shlomo, Brigadier General (res.) Vardi, Danny, Brigadier General (res.) Zohar, Avi, Brigadier General (res.) Zacharin, Zeev, Brigadier General (res.) Zamir, Itzhak, Brigadier General (res.) Zaken, Nahum, Brigadier General (res.) Haike, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Hefetz, Shimon, Brigadier General (res.) Tiller, Avi, Major General (ret.- police) Tal, Alex, Major General (res.) Taran, Benny, Major General (res.) Yutov, Herzl, Major General (ret.- police) Yoseph, Eyal, Brigadier General (res.) Yaari, Aviezer (Avi), Major General (res.) Yitzhaki, Yair, Major General (ret.- police) Yitzhaki, Sasson, Brigadier General (res.) Yaron, Amos, Major General (res.) Kitri, Ron, Brigadier General (res.) Lev, Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Lev Tzur, Uzi, Brigadier General (res.) Levi, Asher, Brigadier General (res.) Levin, Amiram, Major General (res.) Lapid, Ephrain, Brigadier General (res.) Lapidot, Amos, Major General (res.) Morag, Ami, Brigadier General (res.) Mizrachi, Avi, Major General (res.) Mizrachi, Aryeh, Brigadier General (res.) Mitzna, Amram, MK; Major General (res.) Maron, Menachem (Modi), Major General (res.) Spector, Yiftach, Brigadier General (res.) Spector, Moshe, Brigadier General (res.) Ivri-Sukenik, Moshe, Major General (res.) Eilam, Uzi, Brigadier General (res.) Eini, Menachem,, Brigadier General (res.) Einan, Menachem, Major General (res.) Amir, Amos, Brigadier General (res.) Inbar, Menashe, Brigadier General (res.) Inbar, Shlomo, Major General (res.) Peled, Elad, Major General (res.) Palant, Emi, Brigadier General (res.) Tsur, David (Tsuri) , MK, Major General (ret.- police) Kadmiel, Doron, Brigadier General (res.) Koren, Zeev, Brigadier General (res.) Keinan-Kauli, Eitan, Brigadier General (res.) Kanor, Zvi. Brigadier General (res.) Krauza, David, Major General (ret.- police) Keren, Aryeh, Brigadier General (res.) Rabin, Yitzhak, Brigadier General (res.) Rothschild, Danny, Major General (res.) Rom, Giora, Major General (res.) Ron, Elik, Major General (ret.- police) Ram (Furman), Giora, Brigadier General (res.) Ram, Micha, Major General (res.) Reshef, Amnon, Major General (res.) Saguy, Uri, Major General (res.) Shachor, Oren, Major General (res.) Stern, Elazar, MK; Major General (res.) Shalom, Hagai, Major General (res.) Sheffi, Shaul, Brigadier General (res.) Shaked, Emanuel (Mano), Brigadier General (res.) Sharon, Menachem, Brigadier General (res.) Sharoni, Nati, Major General (res.) Tamari, Dov, Brigadier General (res.)
Israel's YNet News said Major General (ret.) Amnon Reshef initiated the above letter. Getting scores of other top retired security officials to be signatories.
"If you add up the total number of the years they spent in the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police and the Mossad, you come to the incomprehensible sum of more than 3.5 millennia in the service of state security," said YNet News.
They're with others wanting Netanyahu "not to join the ranks of those who use threats as an excuse for resting on our laurels, and to initiate a political process."
They're not ordinary former security officials. They're important ones. Major figures during active service.
It begs the question. Why now? Why not earlier? When it counted most. When they held positions able to make a difference.
Why ruin things now. By vilifying Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah irresponsibly. Wrongfully accusing them of terrorism. Supporting Operation Protective Edge aggression. Instead of denouncing it.
These figures are now largely sideline observers. It bears repeating. Letters have little impact. Policies alone matter.
Nothing suggests forthcoming change. Netanyahu can't be trusted. Representing the worst of hardline Israeli governance.
A serial liar. A war criminal multiple times over. Operation Protective Edge is Exhibit A. So are repeated Israeli ceasefire violations.
Blaming Palestinians for Israeli crimes. Waging premeditated wars of aggression. Getting away with mass murder and destruction.
Doing so unaccountably. Former top Israeli security officials have their own crosses to bear. 
Better late than never to think responsibly. Far more is needed to change decades of Israeli lawlessness. Nothing in sight suggests it.
Most everything indicates worse ahead. Endless wars. Police state repression. Exploitive monied interests taking full advantage.
War profiteering on a grand scale. Greater than ever ecological destruction. Neoliberal harshness. Institutionalized inequality. 
In Israel. America. Other Western societies. Carving up whole continents for profit. Plundering world resources. 
Exploiting ordinary people everywhere. Fast-tracking toward tyranny and ruin. Israel a microcosm of widespread institutionalized ruthlessness.
Ongoing for longer than most people can remember. Far worse than ever now. A metastasizing cancer, according to John McMurtry. 
Reflecting social collapse. Ecological destruction. Maximizing money gains to make more of it. Combined with unrestrained power.
Unsustainable by any standard. Risking humanity's survival. Change requires committed opposition. Nothing half way.
Staying the course. Opposing business as usual. Doing it because it matters. Survival demands no other choice.
Retired Major General (res.) Hagai Shalom "fear(s) for (Israel's) future," he said.
"The situation here has never been a simple one, but the picture appears blacker than usual of late. There's a lack of purpose. You don't see anyone taking the lead along a chosen path, towards hope." 
"Prime Minister Netanyahu is very talented and he's a fighter, but he's caught up with his own political survival  - and that, rather than the fate of the country, is the main focus of his concerns. Unfortunately, the country needs more these days."
"I don't know if the petition will lead to change, but we have to start somewhere. We need to find a way to unite all the sane voices, inside and outside government, so as to put an end to the processes that lead us into dangerous situations." 
"And I'm talking about Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid. Anyone who chooses to remain in the government, from the right or the center, and lends a hand to the government without instigating a political process is committing a very big sin."
Israeli policies affect regional ones. Eurasian ones. Global ones. Justice or injustice. Democracy or despotism. War or peace. Survival or annihilation. 
Change begins with understanding. Knowing what's ongoing is unsustainable. Rejecting business as usual. 
Supporting meaningful change. Enlisting former high-ranking officials elsewhere to join them. 
Ordinary people with them. A worldwide campaign for responsible change. 
Demanding policies with teeth. Nothing less. Knowing survival depends on it. 
At the same time, nothing in prospect looks encouraging. Things today are more dire than ever.
World peace hangs by a thread. Lunatics running things in America, Israel and rogue EU states threaten it. 
Humans may become the only species ever to destroy itself. Taking virtually all other life forms with it. If preventing possible annihilation isn't important enough, what is?
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. 

Which Messaging Technologies Are Truly Safe and Secure?

eff.org - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 00:58
EFF's 'Secure Messaging Scorecard' Rates Digital Communication Tools

San Francisco - In the face of widespread Internet data collection and surveillance, we need a secure and practical means of talking to each other from our phones and computers. Many companies offer "secure messaging" products - but how can users know if these systems actually secure? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its Secure Messaging Scorecard today, evaluating dozens of messaging technologies on a range of security best practices.

"The revelations from Edward Snowden confirm that governments are spying on our digital lives, devouring all communications that aren't protected by encryption," said EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley. "Many new tools claim to protect you, but don't include critical features like end-to-end encryption or secure deletion. This scorecard gives you the facts you need to choose the right technology to send your message."

The scorecard includes more than three dozen tools, including chat clients, text messaging apps, email applications, and technologies for voice and video calls. EFF examined them on seven factors, like whether the message is encrypted both in-transit and at the provider level, and if the code is audited and open to independent review. Six of these tools scored all seven stars, including ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and TextSecure. Apple's iMessage and FaceTime products stood out as the best of the mass-market options, although neither currently provides complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance. Many options—including Google, Facebook, and Apple's email products, Yahoo's web and mobile chat, Secret, and WhatsApp—lack the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to protect against disclosure by the service provider. Several major messaging platforms, like QQ, Mxit, and the desktop version of Yahoo Messenger, have no encryption at all.

"We're focused on improving the tools that everyday users need to communicate with friends, family members, and colleagues," said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. "We hope the Secure Messaging Scorecard will start a race-to-the-top, spurring innovation in stronger and more usable cryptography."

The Secure Messaging Scorecard is part of EFF's new Campaign for Secure and Usable Cryptography, and was produced in collaboration with Julia Angwin at ProPublica and Joseph Bonneau at the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy.

For the full Secure Messaging Scorecard:
https://www.eff.org/secure-messaging-scorecard

Contacts:

Peter Eckersley
   Technology Projects Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   pde@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
   Media Relations Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   press@eff.org


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Categories: Aggregated News

Lawless Israeli House Demolitions

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 05/11/2014 - 00:51
Lawless Israeli House Demolitions
by Stephen Lendman
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) helps rebuild homes. 
It resists Israeli "land expropriation, settlement expansions, by-pass road construction, and policies of 'closure' and 'separation.' " 
Opposes demolition of Palestinian homes and other property.Destruction of agricultural land and crops. Militarized occupation harshness. Treating Palestinians like subhumans.
Since 1967, Israel demolished over 28,000 Palestinian homes. According to its Interior Ministry. Jerusalem Municipality. Civil Administration. 
UN bodies and agencies. Israeli human rights groups. International ones. ICAHD field monitoring. Various other sources.
Demolitions are politically motivated. Lawless. Unjustifiable for:
  • punishment for any reason or none at all;

  • building without virtually impossible to get permits on Palestinian owned land;

  • land-clearing/military demolitions to steal Palestinian land for Jews; and

  • other undefined reasons.

ICADH calls Israel's demotion policy a peace-destroying initiative.
Long-suffering Palestinians continue enduring Israeli state-sponsored terror. Institutionalized racism. 
Apartheid harshness. Displacement. Dispossession. Deprivation. Long denied justice. In violation of core international humanitarian and human rights laws.
Prevented from living on their own land freely. Denied fundamental rights everyone deserves.
Frustrated by decades of Israeli occupation harshness. According to ICAHD, Israel maliciously destroys homes, businesses, agricultural land, livestock facilities and other Palestinian property.
Ethnically cleansing Arabs from land Israel wants exclusively for Jews. Confining them to cantonized worthless scrubland. 
Powerless ghettoization by any standard. Institutionalizing Israeli domination. Enforced by militarized occupation harshness. 
Foreclosing any viable Palestinian entity. Denying self-determination. Substituting "institutionalized discrimination and ethnic displacement," according to ICAHD.
Calling house demolitions and forced evictions "among Israel's most heinous practices." Continuing "on a broad scale." 
Including against Israeli Arab citizens. Denied rights afforded Jews. Imprisoning them for demanding equal rights. Wanting to live free on their own land in peace.
Longstanding Israeli Judaization reflects pure evil. Punishing Palestinians for not being Jews. Committing grave international humanitarian law (IHL) violations.
Including the right to adequate housing. As stipulated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25), stating:
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11). 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 17).
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Article 5(e)(iii)).
Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles 16 and 27). 
General Comments 4 (1991) and 7 (1997) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 
Israeli OPT policies and practices constitute cruel and unusual treatment. Collective punishment. 
Inhuman acts as defined in Article 7(1)(d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 
Violating the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. 
Breaching the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Violating Fourth Geneva principles. Other fundamental humanitarian and human rights laws, norms and standards.
Since 1997, ICAHD called for ending militarized occupation harshness. Forced evictions. Displacements. Dispossessions. 
Demolitions of Palestinian homes and property. They continue out-of-control.
Under South African apartheid, pass laws segregated blacks from whites. Restricted their movements. 
Required pass books be carried at all times. Produced on demand under threat of arrest and prosecution. 
Restricted entry to cities. Forcibly relocated blacks. Denied them most public amenities. Many forms of employment. 
Under Israeli militarized occupation, repression exceeds South Africa's worst harshness. A sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination.
Strangulation. Slow-motion genocide. Incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid persecution.
Repression. Dispossession. Displacement. State terror writ large. Separating Palestinians from their land and heritage.
Denying them fundamental civil and human rights. Gradually eliminating them altogether.
Apartheid is racism's worst form. Militarized Israeli occupation is the worst type of apartheid.
Incorporating violence. Premeditated wars at Israel's discretion. Multiple daily community incursions.
Land theft. Home demolitions. Destruction of other property. Targeted assassinations. 
Politically motivated mass arrests and imprisonments. Isolation. Policies constituting slow-motion genocide.
Israel requires all permanent residents and citizens over 16 to have color-coded ID cards.
For Palestinians, dictating where they may live, work, and move. Obstructing free movement under a Kafkaesque system of control.
Including Jews only roads. Permanent and mobile checkpoints, roadblocks and other barriers.
Control of border crossings, air space and coastal waters. Curfews for any reason or none at all.
Closures anywhere, any time without cause. Separation Wall land theft. Up to 12% of West Bank territory when completed. 
Isolating communities from each other. Ghettoizing them. Eliminating many altogether.
Requiring discriminatory permits for work, education, healthcare, and other vital services.
Movement from one community to another. To and from the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Excluding Gaza nearly impossible to reach under siege. Or exit from for other areas.
Virtually impossible to enter or leave Israel without permit permission.
Required to build. Make home renovations. Grow crops. Open a factory or business.
Import equipment. Export crops or merchandise. Controlling virtually all other aspects of Palestinian life.
Enforcing harshness for political reasons. Building on Palestinian owned land without virtually impossible to get permit permission is prohibited.
Doing so assures demolitions. Lawless destruction of privately owned Palestinian property.
Violating fundamental international humanitarian and human rights laws. They don't matter. 
Israel operates with impunity. State terror is official policy. Including lawless home demolitions. 
Palestinians are afforded no rights whatever. Prisoners on their own land in their own country. By ruthless Israeli militarized occupiers.
On November 4, Maan News headlined "Israel forces demolish Palestinian homes in Silwan," saying:
On Tuesday, residents said they raided the community pre-dawn. Demolishing "two two-story buildings."
One "belonged to former Palestinian prisoner Khalil Abu Rajab." 
"Israeli troops and intelligence officers escorted bulldozers to the Wadi Yasoul area and proceeded to knock down the walls of the building without allowing the family to remove property."
"Abu Rajab's family lived on the first floor of the building; the second floor was still being furnished." 
"Construction on the building had only been completed five months before."
Demolition came without prior notice. Abu Rajab's lawyer unsuccessfully tried getting permit permission.
A second destroyed building belonged to Ishaq Abu Sbeih. He lacked required permit permission to build on his own land.
He lived on the fifth floor of a residential building. Decided to build a new house. To live on the ground floor. Given one of his children is physically disabled.
On Tuesday, Israel forced IDF murdered Muhammad Jaabis family members to demolish two animal barns in Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood.
Silwan tensions "boiled…in recent weeks," said Maan News. On October 20, extremist settlers took over 10 apartments.
Lawlessly in the middle of the night. Weeks earlier, another 25. After secretly buying them.
Doing so was universally condemned. Israeli police murdered Muatz Hijazzi in the same neighborhood.
Unjustly accusing him of shooting right-wing rabbi Yehuda Glick. Denying him due process. Judging him guilty by accusation.
According to ICAHD, Israel demolished at least 359 Palestinian homes and other property in 2014 so far. 
It bears repeating. Doing so violates fundamental international humanitarian and human rights laws. 
Ones Israel violates repeatedly with impunity. Over and over again. Because world leaders able to intervene responsibly support its worst crimes.
A Final Comment
On November 3, Mondoweiss discussed Israeli right-wing extremists demanding harsher crackdowns on East Jerusalem Palestinians than already.
"Let the police mow the lawn," they say. A hideous expression. A euphemism for extreme violence. Operation Protective Edge is Exhibit A.
So is the cumulative effect of daily persecution. Systematic ruthless state terror by any standard.
Extremist settlers want harsher practices. Shoot anyone throwing stones, some say. Even young children.
In July, Israeli soldiers used live ammunition against nonviolent Qalandia protesters. Killing three. Injuring over 200.
These type incidents aren't isolated. They repeat with disturbing regularity. Palestinian rights don't matter.
Israeli security forces target them with tear gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, chemically-treated skunk water and live fire.
Avoiding Israeli violence is impossible, said Mondoweiss. Young children are shot for target practice. Others in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Pre-dawn raids terrorize communities. Beatings and arrests follow. Young children are detained.
"…Netanyahu is broadening police powers to attack Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem," said Mondoweiss. 
"After a meeting with top security officials last week week, (he) expedited passage of a law that would expand the legal definition of stone-throwing, casting an even wider dragnet through the streets of East Jerusalem to make the common form of resistance punishable by up to 20 years in prison."
Police attorneys want parents of minors held liable for charges brought against them. With punishments ranging from fines to incarceration.
Israeli security forces operate with impunity. Fear grips Palestinian communities for good reason.
Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy.
Barbarism defines it. Lawless. Out-of-control. Vicious. Ruthless and then some.
Not good enough for extremist settlers. "(N)othing short of massacres will satisfy (their lust) for violence," said Mondoweiss.
Official Israeli policy indulges them all too often. Especially with Netanyahu in charge. 
A world-class thug by any standard. A crime boss. Lawless. Ruthless. Mocking legitimate leadership.
Just societies would hold him accountable. In Israel, anything goes unaccountably.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: 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. 

Kiev Reneges on Donbas Self-Rule Status

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 20:28
Kiev Reneges on Donbas Self-Rule Status
by Stephen Lendman
On September 9, Ukraine's parliament passed legislation granting Donbas self-rule special status.
At the time, state-controlled Ukrainian News Agency reported it as follows:
"The Verkhovna Rada has set special status for some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the period of three years…" 
"Respective draft law No. 5081 was registered by President Petro Poroshenko at the Verkhovna Rada on September 16."
"Under the document, bodies of local governments are allowed to create voluntary people's militia units to protect order on the territory of the said regions."
"…(L)ocal governments there are able to take measures on assistance in use of Russian and other languages in education, mass media organizations, judicial system, and other sectors of public life."
"…(T)he law envisions provision of state assistance to socioeconomic development of some districts via the introduction of special economic regime for rendering economic and investment activity aimed at restoration of industry, infrastructure, housing stock and creation of new jobs."
After enactment, Kiev's oligarch president Petro Poroshenko said Donbas will remain part of Ukraine.
Federalization won't happen. Ukraine's territorial integrity won't be compromised.
Self-rule status legislation isn't worth the paper it's written on. Expect promises made to be broken.
On November 3, Itar Tass headlined "Poroshenko intends to submit issue to annul law on Donbas special status," saying:
He'll have Kiev's National Security and Defence Council annul the law. He lied claiming it demonstrated "Ukraine’s sincere intentions to de-escalate the situation in Donbas and the world support for the Minsk peace agreements."
"We will be ready to adopt a new law when all parties return to implementing the Minsk protocol if fire is ceased, the buffer zone is created and control is established."
New legislation can be adopted if Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics "reverse" democratic November 2 elections, he said. What of course won't happen. Nor should it.
"The new law will envision strict borders of the regions with the special procedure of local self-government in strict compliance with the Minsk agreements," he continued.
"It will also envision budget decentralisation, which removes irritating problems - who feeds whom. It will allow the regions themselves to be responsible for their financing based on their own resources."
He'll ask "parliament to adopt a law on creating a free (Donbas) economic zone with the special trading regime with the EU and Russia."
Fact check:
Monitors judged Sunday's process open, free and fair. Model democracy by any standard. Polar opposite Kiev's sham presidential and parliamentary elections.
Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics complied fully with Minsk protocol provisions. Stipulating elections could be held from October 19 - November 3.
Kiev signed the agreement. Doing so was meaningless. Its word isn't its bond. Negotiating duplicitously. 
Repeatedly violating agreements. With full US support and encouragement. On April 17, a joint four-party US/EU/Russia/Ukraine statement said the following:
"The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens."
"All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism."
"All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated."
"Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes."
"It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days." 
"The US, EU and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors."
"The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable." 
"It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments."
"The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented."
A White House statement said Obama "commended the government of Ukraine's approach to today's discussions in Geneva, where it put forward constructive proposals to expand local governance and ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected." 
"…Russia needs to take immediate, concrete actions to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, including by using its influence over the irregular forces in eastern Ukraine to get them to lay down their arms and leave the buildings they have seized."
"(T)he United States and Europe are prepared to take further measures if this de-escalation does not occur in short order."
Kiev violated agreed on terms straightaway. Conflict continues. It never stopped. Obama's new friends are societal misfits.
Ruling lawlessly. Illegitimate by any standard. Tolerating no opposition. Agreeing to one thing . Doing another.
Spurning Donbas special status self-rule. For unacceptable reasons. After committing to support it. 
Refusing to recognize Sunday's democratic elections. Model ones. Scrupulously open, free and fair. 
Violating no laws. Or past agreements. Poroshenko lied calling Sunday's process a "farce at gunpoint. (A) terrible event that has nothing in common with the real expression of the people's will."
"(B)rutally violat(ing)" Minsk protocol terms. Disrupting peace efforts, he claimed. 
Donetsk and Lugansk authorities reject his Big Lies. They'll dialogue with Kiev provided its officials "act in a sensible way."
Fascists don't operate this way. They want unopposed hardline rule. Excluding democracy. Prohibiting it in any form.
Ahead of Sunday's elections, Russia's Foreign Ministry commented on lack of promised Kiev constitutional reform.
It called instituting it "so urgent that this issue is known to have been put on a list of priorities of the Ukrainian political agenda that figured in the key agreement of 21 February 2014, signed by the current ruling coalition and its foreign political mentors and sponsors, who evidently were not quite aware of how heavy the burden of responsibility for the fates of Ukrainians would prove to be for them."
"In April 2014, Kiev assumed a commitment under the Geneva Statement approved by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU to immediately start an inclusive national dialogue on the implementation of a constitutional reform with the involvement of all regions and political forces in Ukraine."
"We are alarmed by the fact that the work to reform the Constitution has been proceeding in secret, behind closed doors, and without the due media coverage and the absolutely essential broad-scale discussion in all regions of the country with the participation of independent experts and civic organisations."
Broad public discussion is essential for legitimate constitutional reform, Russia's Foreign Ministry said.
Kiev's constitution "should be perceived by the multiethnic Ukrainian society as the reliable and long-term foundation of a law-based state guaranteeing the equality of regions and ethnic groups." 
"Lacking this, Ukraine will be unable to deal with the urgent tasks involved in resolving the current acute crisis."
"…Kiev’s attempts to deal with the issues related to the country’s constitutional system in secret or behind the scenes will not bring the desired effect."
Ahead of Sunday's elections, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied, saying:
"(W)e have grave concerns that separatists plan to go ahead with illegitimate and illegal elections in areas of eastern Ukraine on Sunday. The United States will not recognize the results." 
"These elections violate the letter and spirit of the September 5th Minsk ceasefire agreement, which calls for elections in the east in line with the Ukrainian law on special status." 
"Any moves to try to legitimize the results will undermine the Minsk agreement. We call on all nations to similarly reject the illegal effort and instead support the legal December 7th local elections."
On November 3, White House National Security Council spokesman Bernadette Meehan issued an outrageous statement. Featuring Big Lies, saying:
"The United States condemns the illegitimate, so-called 'elections held on Sunday by Russia-backed separatists in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk."  
"These sham elections contravened Ukraine’s constitution, the law on special status,' and the most basic electoral norms."  
"Both Russia and its separatist proxies had agreed to honor Ukraine’s special status electoral law when they signed the Minsk Protocol of September 5. They therefore violated the terms of that protocol with these so-called “elections” on November 2."   
"As we have said previously, the United States will not recognize the authority of any individuals claiming to represent parts of Donetsk and Luhansk on the basis of this illegal vote." 
"We are concerned by a Russian Foreign Ministry statement today that seeks to legitimizes these sham 'elections.'"  
"We also continue to be concerned by reports that Russia is once more moving its troops and military equipment to portions of the international border." 
"The Russia-Ukraine border remains unmonitored and outside of Ukrainian government control despite Russia’s commitment to facilitate the establishment of an effective international monitoring mission."  
"We are also concerned by OSCE reports that OSCE Special Monitoring Mission UAVs operating east of the control line have come under attack in recent days."  
"More broadly, Moscow’s continued failure to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements calls into question its commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine."
"We call on Russia’s leaders to adhere to the commitments they made in Minsk to include the full withdrawal of foreign forces, the restoration of Ukrainian control of its sovereignty over the border with OSCE monitoring, and local elections in accordance with the special status law, which set these for December 7."  
"As we have said repeatedly, Russia has a choice. If it supports the peace process and adheres to its Minsk commitments, the costs for Russia’s destabilizing actions against Ukraine will lessen."  
"Should Moscow continue to ignore the commitments that it made in Minsk and continue its destabilizing and dangerous actions, the costs to Russia will rise."
Fact: According to US rules, elections are valid only if Washington says so.
Fact: Minsk protocol terms affirmed holding Donbas elections from October 19 - November 3.
Fact: Observers judged them open, free and fair.
Fact: Model democratic ones. Violating no laws.
Fact: Polar opposite Kiev's sham presidential and parliamentary elections. Illegitimate by any standard.
Fact: Russian recognition of Donbas electoral legitimacy another example of its moral, ethical and political leadership.
Fact: US rejection a clear example of its moral and political degradation. Imperial lawlessness. Out-of-control unaccountability. Societal dysfunctionality. A model of wrong over right.
Fact: Russia scrupulously observes the letter and spirit of international laws, as well as all agreements it commits to.
Fact: Washington is a serial scofflaw. Violating rule of law principles and agreements unaccountably.
Fact: Kiev operates the same way.
Fact: One fascist regime supports another.
Fact: Threatening world peace at the most perilous time in world history.
Fact: Russia goes all-out for peaceful conflict resolutions. Polar opposite Washington's rage for war.
Russian lower house State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said "(s)uccesses of the (Donbas) Novorossia authorities have provoked anger from Kiev puppets and those manipulating them in the West."
Mainly Washington. Reflecting imperial lawlessness writ large. A sham democracy. Duopoly rule. Controlled by Big Money. Illegitimate by any standard.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Moscow "respect(s) the will expression of the residents of (Ukraine's) southeast." 
"The elected representatives have got the mandate for the practical efforts aimed at the restoration of normal life in these regions."
They "have enough powers to develop a stable and wide-ranging dialogue with Kiev authorities."
Russian, Ukrainian, Donetsk and Lugansk officials agreed to Minsk protocol provisions. Consisting of 12 points:
1. Ensuring an immediate bilateral ceasefire.
2. OSCE monitoring and verification to assure it.
3. Decentralizing power. Including by adopting Donbas special status self-rule. 
4. Creating security zones in areas bordering Russia and Ukraine.
5. Immediately releasing all hostages and illegally detained persons.
6. Enacting legislation preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with ongoing Donbas area conflict. 
7. Continuing inclusive national dialogue.
8. Instituting measures to improve Donbas humanitarian conditions.
9. Ensuring early local Donetsk and Lugansk elections in accordance with the law of Ukraine between October 19 and November 3.
10. Withdrawing illegally armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Donbas.
11. Adopting Donbas economic recovery and reconstruction measures.
12. Providing personal security for participants in consultation talks.
A follow-up September 19 memorandum stipulated:
1. Withdrawing heavy weaponry 15 km back on each line of contact. Creating a 30 km buffer zone.
2. Banning all offensive operations.
3. Prohibiting combat aircraft flights over security zone areas.
4. Withdrawing all foreign mercenaries from conflict areas.
5. Establishing an OSCE monitoring mission according to Minsk protocol terms.
Kiev straightaway violated their letter and spirit. With full US support and encouragement. 
Irresponsibly disregarding democratic principles. Continuing conflict it promised to end.
Likely just a matter of time before again full-blown. Perhaps more lawlessly than before. 
It bears repeating. Fascist regimes operate this way. Washington and Kiev partner in regional crimes. Much worse ahead is likely.
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. 

To Nobody's Surprise, Australian “Terrorism” Law May Be Used for Copyright Enforcement

eff.org - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 11:17

As we foreshadowed, a new law requiring mandatory data retention by ISPs was introduced into the Australian federal parliament last week. In the few days since then, there have been claims and counter-claims about whether data obtained under the new law would be limited to use in fighting major crimes (such as terrorism, as the government originally claimed), or if it could be used to target citizens who download and share files online.

The current party line, from flip-flopping Attorney-General George Brandis (whom some may remember from this train-wreck interview in which he attempted to define “metadata”) is that the new laws “can't be and they won't be” used to prosecute file sharers, because copyright infringement is only a civil offense.

Except, of course, when it isn't. There are a wide range of criminal offenses defined under Australia's copyright law, including penalties for sharing copyright works on (what is loosely defined as) a commercial scale, and penalties for breaking DRM—both of which result from Australia's 2005 free trade agreement with the United States, and are likely to be replicated and perhaps toughened in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Moreover, as Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has admitted, once the data has been collected and is being retained by an ISP, there is nothing to prevent a civil court from allowing access to that data to other parties, for purposes other than those the government intended. This might, for example, include a movie studio suing an ISP for release of retained customer data to support lawsuits or shakedown claims against those customers. (By no coincidence, exactly such a lawsuit is currently underway.)

The only solution is the obvious one—not to require the collection and retention of the data in the first place. If data stored under a compulsory mandate can be misused for extraneous purposes, history tells us that it will be. This lesson lies behind the adoption of data minimization as a key principle of modern data protection law—a lesson that Australia's lawmakers seem to have forgotten.

If even the government itself can't give a clear account of what metadata will be collected and whether or not it will be used in enforcing copyright laws, why should ordinary Internet users have any faith that their collected data won't be misused in practice? Now is time for Australian users to stand up to their government and Stop the Spies, before it's too late.

Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data Retention
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No Compromise: FCC Should Reject Risky, Confusing “Hybrid” Net Neutrality

eff.org - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 09:05

Back in May the Federal Communications Commission proposed flawed “net neutrality” rules that would effectively bless the creation of Internet “slow lanes.” After months of netroots protests the FCC is now reportedly considering a new “hybrid” proposal. EFF is deeply concerned, however, that this "compromise" risks too much, for too little.

To see why, a little background is helpful. As we explained back in June, if the FCC is going to craft and enforce clear and limited neutrality rules, it must first do one important thing: reverse its 2002 decision to treat broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” This is what’s known as Title II reclassification. 

That 2002 decision, as interpreted by the D.C. Circuit last January, now actually prevents the FCC from truly promoting a neutral Internet. That is because the court said that rules that actually do what many of us want—such as forbidding discrimination against certain applications—require the FCC to treat access providers like “common carriers, ” treatment that can only be applied to telecommunications services. Having chosen to define broadband as an “information service,” the FCC can impose regulations that “promote competition” (good) but it cannot stop providers from giving their friends special access to Internet users (bad).

The hybrid approach, according to reports, attempts to “split the baby.” The FCC will reclassify the relationship between “edge providers” (like Netflix) and ISPs as a telecommunications service, and regulate accordingly, but leave the legal status of the relationship between ISPs and users unchanged.

While we don't know precisely what the FCC is thinking, based on what we are hearing, we are worried.

First, we worry that this approach will not survive the inevitable legal challenge. The law defines “telecommunications service” as service offered “for a fee.“ But edge providers don’t typically pay a fee to ISPs (indeed, in many cases such fees would be exactly what the FCC should forbid). There are some complicated legal theories that try to find an equivalent for that “fee” but the success of those theories depends on a sympathetic court. Given the existence of a clear, and much less complicated path (full reclassification), we fear courts will not be sympathetic. In fact, they may be irritated that the FCC continues to drag them into a legal quagmire.

Second, the approach appears to rest on a distinction between “edge providers” and “subscribers” that doesn’t reflect the reality of the Internet. We are all providers of information on the Internet, from social media users, to big and small tech companies, to independent journalists. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that everyone can speak and be heard. For example, over three million people wrote in to the FCC and demanded real net neutrality that protects their rights on the Internet. They didn't get involved to push a half-measure that protects big companies but leaves everyday people at the mercy of their ISPs, or to entrench legal distinctions between favored “edge providers” and “subscribers” with limited rights.

Third, a hybrid approach, while seemingly limited, could actually be a vehicle for future FCC overreach. In fact, it seems to replicate exactly the kind of confused legal theories that has long made us fearful that the FCC would abuse its power. With respect to net neutrality, the FCC started out by claiming a broad “ancillary” authority to regulate the Internet – a claim that, if accepted, could have been a Trojan horse for ever-expanding regulation. If the agency couldn’t articulate a reasonable and clear legal authority for its actions, how could we trust it to recognize the limits of that authority? “Hybrid” rules may carry the same risk. Hybrid proposals could be used to argue that ISPs have a legally-cognizable relationship with every single person whose information flows over their network and use that relationship as the basis of regulation. This has long been the argument of telecoms trying to extract payments from commercial content providers. We have grave concerns about endorsing a legal view that has previously been advanced to undermine net neutrality. Moreover, the FCC would retain its broad powers to “promote competition” with respect to the relationship between ISPs and user, which could be just as vulnerable to misuse by a future FCC as any other regulatory authority. 

Fourth, we’re hearing nothing so far about forbearance. Forbearance is the process by which the FCC expressly commits NOT to apply certain rules. It can choose to do that where enforcement of a given rule is not necessary to ensure reasonable and nondiscriminatory practices, or to protect consumers, and forbearance is consistent with the public interest. Normally the FCC forbears in response to a specific petition from a service provider but it can also do so on its own. Forbearance is how we help ensure the FCC does what is necessary – and no more. It isn’t an iron-clad limit; the FCC must choose to do it, and it can change course if need be. But having made the choice to forbear, the FCC can’t change its mind willy-nilly, or in secret. Instead, it has to invite public comment, and respond to public concerns. If Internet users stay vigilant, forbearance would give us some confidence that the FCC couldn’t quietly use "net neutrality" as an excuse to interfere with free expression and innovation.

Given all of these problems, and the fact that relatively few people on either side of the debate seem to want a “hybrid” approach, we’re scratching our heads on this one. There’s a better way forward, and the FCC should take it. 

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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US-Style Democracy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 05:40
US-Style Democracy
by Stephen Lendman
Tuesday, November 4, Americans vote. For congressional, state and local officials. An earlier article said vote independent or stay home.
Voting Democrat or Republican is like choosing death by hanging or firing squad. Either way you're dead.
Duopoly power runs America. Monied interests alone are served. Ordinary people don't matter. Lofty claims otherwise are rubbish.
Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. None from inception. America's 55 founding fathers were largely self-serving wheeler-dealers.
A Wall Street crowd by today's standards. Believing America should be run by elitists who owned it.
US voting rights were constitutionally flawed by design. America's founders enfranchised adult white male property owners only.
Laborers were excluded. So were women. They were considered homemakers and child-bearers alone. Appendages of their husbands. 
Slaves were property, not people. Native Americans, free Black men, apprentices, felons, and persons considered incompetent were denied.
From inception to today, US elections were never open, free and fair. Big money controls them. Electoral fraud is rife.
Things are pre-scripted. Voters have no say. Secrecy and back-room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process.
Candidates are pre-selected. Monied interests own them. Key outcomes are predetermined. America is a one-party state.
Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference separates them.
Independent candidates are shut out. Media scoundrels ignore them. 
Issues mattering most are unaddressed. Horse race journalism and trivia substitute. It shows in the run-up to this year's November 4 federal, state and local elections.
Millions of Americans are disenfranchised. Criminal records alone exclude many. Efforts to suppress minority voters are rife.
Half of eligible voters opt out. They do so because interests they most care about go unaddressed. 
Because candidates from either party don't care. Because corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic voting machines are rigged.
They're programmed using secret software. They're easy to manipulate. They steal elections.
They provide no receipts. Excluding them prevents vetting. Winners lose what's rightfully theirs. Losers are declared winners.
Partisan politics serves privileged elites. Democracy is pure illusion. A figure of speech. Americans get the best one money can buy. 
Fundamental freedoms don't matter. They're disappearing in plain sight. In real time.
Obama presides over a ruthless police state apparatus. No one is free and safe. Big Brother watches everyone. 
Mass surveillance is official US policy. State-of-the-art technology permits the worst of what's ongoing.
Decades earlier spying was crude compared to today's. Modern capability is unprecedented. 
Virtually everyone can be monitored everywhere at all times. Nothing too secret or personal escapes scrutiny. 
Free and open expression is our most precious right. Without it all others are endangered. 
Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability, and reform. He called sunlight "the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse."
He said whistleblowing reflects "acts of courage and patriotism."
"Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out."
"We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance." 
He pledged to "strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government."
He said one thing. He did another. He usurped diktat powers. He wages war on truth. He targets whistleblowers. He threatens free expression. 
Press freedom is endangered on his watch. He prioritizes surveillance powers. 
Practices include warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking emails, Internet and cell phone use. 
Domestic spying is longstanding. It's for control. To know what everyone is doing all the time.
It has nothing to do with protecting national security. It's institutionalized. It's unconstitutional. It doesn't matter. Nothing is done to stop it.
Abroad it's for economic advantage. To be one up on foreign competitors. For information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.
Obama wants truth and full disclosure suppressed. He wants whistleblowers silenced. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined. 
Rogue states operate this way. None in world history match America's ruthlessness. More egregiously than its most merciless tyrants.
None more threaten humanity's survival. Stopping its rampaging matters most. Doing it before it's too late to matter.
Michael Parenti calls US governance "democracy for the few." In his book by that title. It explains the "shadier sides of US political life."
"Proponents of the existing social order have tried to transform practically every deficiency in the US political system into a strength." 
They ludicrously claim "millions of nonvoters are content with present social conditions, (and) the growing concentration of executive power is a good thing because the president is democratically responsive to broad national interests." 
They say "exclusion of third parties" enhances America's democratic process. Makes it work better. Turns vices into virtues.
Popularly spread political rubbish turns truth on its head. It's polar opposite what state-sponsored propaganda wants people to believe.
America the beautiful exists for its privileged alone. It's always been this way. More than ever now.
Ruled by predominantly rich, white Judeo/Christain elitist men. Powerful privileged gentlemen. Excluding the vast majority of others.
America's Constitution was drafted for their interests alone. Including the Bill of Rights.
They weren't added as a democratic gesture. "We the people" are entirely excluded. "The Constitution was consciously designed as a conservative document," said Parenti.
Framers wanted it this way. With provisions to "resist the pressure of popular tides."
Ones protecting "a rising bourgeoisie('s)" freedom to "invest, speculate, trade, and accumulate wealth."
The way things work more than ever now. Benjamin Franklin was asked whether America's founders created a monarchy or republic.
"A republic, if you can keep it," he responded. Without acknowledging faux notions of an egalitarian nation emerging stillborn at birth.
Despite pretense claiming otherwise. America is polar opposite real democracy. According to Parenti:
National greatness is judged by its freedom from "poverty, racism, sexism, exploitation, imperialism (and) environmental devastation."
Its opposition to war. Pursuit of peace. Governance of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly. With equal justice for all.
America is more hypocrisy than democracy. A corporatocracy merging state and corporate power. Serving capital's divine right. 
Shutting out ordinary people entirely. Exploiting them for elitists' gain. Accumulating enormous amounts of money to make more of it.
Doing it the old-fashioned way. Grand theft is longstanding elitist policy. At the expense of ordinary people. Popular interests. Rule of law principles. 
Doing the right thing because it matters. Not in America. Not now. Not ever. Not as long as monied interests rule.
As long as profits count more than people. As long as unprecedented inequality in modern times persists. 
As long as democracy is pure fantasy. As long as tyranny reflects today's America. Heading toward becoming full-blown.
Adam Smith once said governance should be "instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor." Today's America reflects it and then some.
Poverty is a growth industry. So are unemployment, underemployment, hunger, homelessness and despair.
A race to the bottom persists. Police state harshness targets nonbelievers. State terror is official policy. So are permanent wars.
Monied interests run things. They "exercise trusteeship over educational institutions, foundations, think tanks, publications, (and) mass media," Parenti explains.
They operate extrajudicially. Parenti calls it "coup d'etat (power) by international finance capital…(A) logical extension of imperialism…"
"(A) victory of empire over republic(an) (governance and) corporate capital over democracy." Sacrificing "the interests of the many (for) the greed (and power hunger) of the few."
"How can we speak of the US politico-economic system (reflecting) the democratic will," Parenti asks?
What democratic mandate directed government to transfer wealth from ordinary people to super-rich ones?
Which one justifies giving corporate giants huge subsidies?
Permitting imperial wars for greater wealth, power and dominance.
Risking ecological destruction. Serving privileged interests at the expense of all others. Creating the illusion of democracy when none exists.
It's "no mystery what needs to be done to bring us to a more equitable and democratic society," Parenti explains.
  • condemn pro-war, pro-business, pro-privilege, pro-super wealth, anti-progressive, anti-dissent, anti-freedom, and anti-government of, by, and for everyone equitably policies;

  • eliminate police state laws; 

  • abolish mass surveillance;

  • return public airwaves to their rightful owner;

  • open them fully to all views on all issues with no corporate or government censorship;

  • put money power back in public hands where it belongs; 

  • enact progressive policies;

  • prioritize social justice;

  • curb corporate power;

  • obey international, US statute, and constitutional laws;

  • get money entirely out of politics;

  • aid impoverished millions; 

  • run free, fair and open elections;

  • let independent candidates compete freely;

  • stress environment conservation over financial gain;

  • strengthen the disappearing middle class; 

  • safeguard vital entitlements;

  • mandate universal healthcare; 

  • save public education;

  • support organized labor;

  • protect human and civil rights;

  • shut down predatory banks;

  • prosecute corporate crooks;

  • reinstate progressive taxes;

  • end corporate personhood; and

  • much more.

"Our goal should be an egalitarian, communitarian, environmentally conscious" social democracy, Parenti explains.
A new dawn. Sweeping change. Real democracy. Representing everyone equitably and fairly. 
Consigning today's system to history's dustbin. It can't happen a moment too soon.
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. 

Hard Truths v. Obama Big Lies

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 05:40
Hard Truths v. Obama Big Lies
by Stephen Lendman
Ahead of Tuesday's mid-term elections, he's mostly shunned. Considered toxic. Damaged goods. 
Disgracing the office he holds. A caricature of a leader. Shameless. Lawless. Dishonest. Most Democrat candidates want no part of him.
Where he shows up, Big Lies follow. Truth is nowhere in sight. Duplicitous demagogic boilerplate substitutes.
So often perhaps he's no longer able to distinguish between facts and fiction. Mumbo jumbo rubbish repeats with disturbing regularity.
Political doublespeak. Newspeak. Contrary views considered thoughtcrimes. Dissent increasingly an endangered species. 
Obamaspeak gives Big Lies new meaning. On November 1 and 2, he campaigned in Detroit and Bridgeport, CT.
Surprisingly anyone showed up to hear him. Or stayed to listen. Similar rubbish repeats in all his speeches. Polar opposite hard truths.
At Wayne State University, MI, he said it's "(t)hree days until you get to choose a new governor and senator." 
In a city reflecting America's decline. Bankrupt. A shadow of its former self. Once with the nation's highest per capita income. Its industrial heartland.
Today a hollow shell. Once mighty Motown now a ghost town. A desolate wasteland. Only its obituary remains to be written.
Public education is being dismantled. Dozens of schools closed. Thousands of teachers sacked. Along with police, firemen and other civil servants.
Two-thirds of its public parks remain permanently closed. Tens of thousands of buildings are abandoned. Similar numbers of neighborhood residences.
Half or more of its working-age population unemployed. Most with jobs have rotten ones. Paying poverty or sub-poverty wages. With few or no benefits.
Child poverty is off-the-scale. Extreme by any standard. Matching impoverished third world countries. No one gives a damn to help.
Crime is a growth industry. Desperate people do anything to survive. Things get worse, not better.
Detroit's so-called "Plan of Adjustment" intends gutting pensions. Healthcare. Other vital benefits. Affecting city workers and retired ones.
Establishing financial dictatorship. Giving it new meaning. Beholden to Wall Street and other corporate predators. 
Carving up Detroit for profit. Selling off municipal assets at fire sale prices. Eliminating vital social benefits. Voiding union contracts.
Leaving working-class families high and dry. On their own. Out of luck. Sink or swim.
What's happening in Detroit reflects America. Vitally needed services are disappearing. Vanishing when most needed. 
Obama ignored what most needs explaining. He lied claiming "real progress since the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes."
Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist. Real unemployment tops 23%. Not the fake reported 5.9%.
Tens of millions of Americans are ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and ill-cared for. Human misery is unprecedented. Poverty a growth industry.
US-style casino capitalism failed. Growing millions struggle to get by. One missed paycheck away from homelessness, hunger and despair.
"I don't have to tell you the auto industry that was on the brink of collapse is back on its feet, making better cars than ever, right here in Michigan," said Obama.
It's a shell of its former self. Downsized and largely offshored. Profitable on the backs of exploited workers. Paying new ones half what older ones get.
Gutting pensions and benefits. Demanding more from workers at less pay. Obama didn't explain. 
Or mention Detroit's bankruptcy. Symbolic of predatory capitalism's failure. A looting mechanism. Transferring wealth from ordinary people to super-rich ones already with too much. 
Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Facilitating what demands condemnation. Eliminated altogether. Replaced by fairness entirely absent.
Democrats share guilt with Republicans. For appalling conditions. Worsening, not improving.
Privatizing profits. Socializing losses. Facilitating corporate grand theft. Targeting America's social contract for elimination. Doing so when most needed.
Heading it for history's dustbin. Thirdworldizing America. Banana republicanizing it. Institutionalizing inequality.
Unprecedented in modern times. Serving monied interests only. America no longer fit to live in.
Detroit symbolizes its decline. Plundering public resources for profit. Finance is a new form of warfare. Economies strip-mined for profit.
Communities laid waste. Detroit is ground zero. Reflecting what's wrong with America. 
Exposing predatory capitalism's failure. Its dark side. Symbolic of much worse to come.
Monied interests alone matter. Democracy is pure fantasy. Obama didn't explain. Regurgitating one Big Lie after another. 
Like he always does. Ignoring his direct responsibility for dire economic conditions. Sacrificing Main Street for Wall Street.
Doing nothing to help beleaguered Detroit residents. Supporting its bankruptcy process. On the backs of ordinary people. 
Complicit with business and corrupt labor bosses. In America's poorest big city. A testimony to blight, impoverishment and despair. Obama ignored what's most important.
Again in Bridgeport, CT the next day. Repeating similar Big Lies. Selling snake oil. Business as usual. Same old, same old.
Ignoring hard truths. The American dream. The one you have to be asleep to believe. In one of its poorest cities. One of its most unequal.
Claiming "it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, where you came from, what your last name is, who you love."
"What matters is, are you willing to work hard? Are you willing to take responsibility?" 
"Because if you are, you deserve to be able to make it in America. That's what the American Dream is all about."
Truth is polar opposite. Hard times keep getting harder. Growing millions of unemployed, underemployed, and ill-served when most in need deserve better.
Not in America. Beautiful for wealth, power and privilege alone. Republicans and Democrats reflect two sides of the same coin. 
Throwing out bums assures new ones. US-style electoral democracy is pure fantasy. 
Dysfunctional. Unaccountable. Beholden to monied interests alone. Duopoly power excludes choice. Elections are a convenient fiction.
Legitimizing the illegitimate. Perpetuating a broken system. "(V)alidating the unaccountability of government," says Paul Craig Roberts.
Run by crooks and scoundrels. Giving ordinary people no say. Fooling enough of them most often to matter. 
Perpetuating what belongs in history's dustbin. Replaced by governance of, by and for everyone equitably.
Real democracy. Not fantasy like today's. What Americans never before had. For sure not now. 
Elections are a convenient fiction. Institutionalizing business as usual. US-style democracy is none at all. 
Pretense can't change things. Rotten-to-the-core reality reflects them. Realpolitik should scare everyone.
Democratic values don't exist. Peace, equity and justice are four-letter words. Freedom is dying in plain sight.
Elections provide fig leaf legitimacy. Phony by any standard. People power alone works. Grassroots commitment matters.
Americans did it before. They can do it again. Anti-war activists helped end war in Vietnam.
Abolitionists ended slavery. Civil and labor rights were won. Now lost because energy waned. 
Ordinary people have power when they use it. Change requires longterm struggle.
Former Supreme Court Justice William Douglas (1898 - 1980) once said: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
Community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909 - 1972) said the way to beat organized money is with organized people. Always bottom up. Never top down.
Authority can be challenged and beaten. Social movements are pivotal forces. Disruptive activism works.
According to Political Science Professor Frances Fox Piven:
"Ordinary people (have) power." They do so "when they rise up in anger and hope, defy the rules...disrupt (state) institutions (and) propel new issues to the center of political debate."
When they force "political leaders (to) stem voter defections by profering reforms." 
"These are the conditions that produce democratic moments." 
Electoral politics doesn't work. It bears repeating. Replacing bums with new ones assures business as usual.
Things are too corrupted to fix. Scattered reforms won't work. An entire makeover is needed. From the bottom up. 
For revolutionary change. Through truth-telling in times of universal deceit. Disruptive power when most needed.
No other way works. Not Western ballot box democracy. For sure not US-style. Assuring same old, same old. 
It's long past time for real change. Noted cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901 - 1978) once said:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has," she explained.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF Fights for Common Sense, Again, in DMCA Rulemaking

eff.org - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 05:31
Ridiculous Exemption Process Forces Consumers to Beg for Basic Rights

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed six exemption requests with the U.S. Copyright Office today, part of the elaborate, every-three-year process to right the wrongs put in place by the Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). EFF's requests received crucial assistance from the Organization for Transformative Works, the NYU Technology Law & Policy Clinic, attorney Marcia Hofmann, and former EFF intern Kendra Albert.

Two of EFF's requests this year are on behalf of people who need to access the software in cars so they can do basic things like repair, modify, and test the security of their vehicles. Because Section 1201 of the DMCA prohibits unlocking "access controls"—also known as digital rights management (DRM)—on the software, car companies can threaten anyone who needs to get around those restrictions, no matter how legitimate the reason.

"The DMCA was supposed to help protect against copyright infringement, but it's been abused to interfere with all kinds of lawful activities that have nothing to do with infringement," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Software is in all kinds of devices, from cars to coffee-makers to alarm clocks. If that software is locked down by DRM, it's likely that you can't tinker, repair, and re-use those objects without incurring legal risk."

EFF's other requests this rulemaking include one for users who want to continue to play "abandoned" video games. For example, some users may need to modify an old video game so it doesn't perform a check with an authentication server that has since been shut down. EFF has also asked the Copyright Office to renew previous exemptions issued for jailbreaking smartphones, and extend them to tablets and other mobile devices—liberating them to run operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer. EFF also asked for renewal and partial expansion of the exemptions for remix videos that use excerpts from DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, or downloading services.

"These requests highlight some of the ways that Section 1201 of the DMCA has given the Librarian of Congress a veto on innovation and creativity," said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. "We and many other organizations will have to spend the next year begging the Copyright Office to make sure copyright law doesn't stop user choice and creative expression."

EFF's exemption requests are part of the regular rulemaking process from the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office. Congress created this system to act as a "safety valve" to mitigate the harms the law has caused to legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials. But that safety valve is hugely flawed. The every-three-year procedure is burdensome and confusing, with high hurdles to success. Even if an exemption is granted, supporters still have to come back to get it renewed or expanded, as technology develops.

"Technologists and artists should not have to get permission from Washington before they create, learn, and innovate, especially when the window to seek permission only comes once every three years," said EFF Staff Attorney Kit Walsh. "This rulemaking isn't the 'safety valve' we need to defend free speech and innovation from Section 1201. But until the law is fixed, we'll do our part to fight for those rights before the Copyright Office and in the courts."

For the full petitions:
https://www.eff.org/cases/2015-dmca-rulemaking

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
   Intellectual Property Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   corynne@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   mitch@eff.org

Kit Walsh
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   kit@eff.org


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Categories: Aggregated News

Verizon Injecting Perma-Cookies to Track Mobile Customers, Bypassing Privacy Controls

eff.org - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 04:51

Verizon users might want to start looking for another provider. In an effort to better serve advertisers, Verizon Wireless has been silently modifying its users' web traffic on its network to inject a cookie-like tracker. This tracker, included in an HTTP header called X-UIDH, is sent to every unencrypted website a Verizon customer visits from a mobile device. It allows third-party advertisers and websites to assemble a deep, permanent profile of visitors' web browsing habits without their consent.

Verizon apparently created this mechanism to expand their advertising programs, but it has privacy implications far beyond those programs. Indeed, while we're concerned about Verizon's own use of the header, we're even more worried about what it allows others to find out about Verizon users. The X-UIDH header effectively reinvents the cookie, but does so in a way that is shockingly insecure and dangerous to your privacy. Worse still, Verizon doesn't let users turn off this "feature." In fact, it functions even if you use a private browsing mode or clear your cookies. You can test whether the header is injected in your traffic by visiting lessonslearned.org/sniff or amibeingtracked.com over a cell data connection.

How X-UIDH Works, and Why It's a Problem

Like a cookie, this header uniquely identifies users to the websites they visit. Verizon adds the header at the network level, between the user's device and the servers with which the user interacts. Unlike a cookie, the header is tied to a data plan, so anyone who browses the web through a hotspot, or shares a computer that uses cellular data, gets the same X-UIDH header as everyone else using that hotspot or computer. That means advertisers may build a profile that reveals private browsing activity to coworkers, friends, or family through targeted advertising.

Also unlike a cookie, Verizon's header is nearly invisible to the user and can't be seen or changed in the device's browser settings. If a user clears their cookies, the X-UIDH header remains unchanged. Worse, ad networks can immediately assign new cookies and link them to the cleared cookies using the unchanged X-UIDH value. We don't know which data brokers and ad networks are using the header to create behavioral profiles, but Cory Dunne found at least one GitHub repository contained code to extract the header value, as of October 27. The repository has since been quietly deleted but can be viewed at the Internet Archive. Twitter's mobile advertising division also appears to use the header for ad auctions.

Besides cookie clearing, the X-UIDH header bypasses several other built-in browser privacy mechanisms. Cookies belong to a single website and aren't shared with other websites. But one unique X-UIDH header value is shared with all unencrypted websites a user visits, making it easier for ad networks to track that user across many sites in a way not possible with cookies alone. Browsers provide Incognito Mode or Private Browsing Mode in order to defeat some kinds of tracking, but the X-UIDH header, since it is injected at the network layer, ignores those modes. Verizon also chooses to ignore Do Not Track, a setting users enable in their browser to indicate they do not want to be tracked. Similarly, disabling third-party cookies in browser settings does nothing to stop the X-UIDH header.

To compound the problem, the header also affects more than just web browsers. Mobile apps that send HTTP requests will also have the header inserted. This means that users' behavior in apps can be correlated with their behavior on the web, which would be difficult or impossible without the header. Verizon describes this as a key benefit of using their system. But Verizon bypasses the 'Limit Ad Tracking' settings in iOS and Android that are specifically intended to limit abuse of unique identifiers by mobile apps.

Because the header is injected at the network level, Verizon can add it to anyone using their towers, even those who aren't Verizon customers. Notably, Verizon appears to inject the X-UIDH header even for customers of Straight Talk, a mobile network reseller (known as a MVNO) that uses Verizon's network. Customers of Straight Talk don't necessarily have a relationship with Verizon.

But according to AdAge, "Corporate and government subscribers are excluded from the new marketing solution." We haven't verified (and Verizon refuses to say) whether the header is still sent for those subscribers or not. If they are indeed excepted from the program, that indicates to us that implementing an opt-out is feasible. We're disappointed that Verizon takes some of its users' privacy more seriously than others.

Verizon's Claimed Protections

Verizon does provide a sort of limited opt-out for individual customers, but it appears that the opt-out does not actually disable the header. Instead, it merely tells Verizon not to share detailed demographic information with advertisers who present a UIDH value. Meaningful protection from tracking by third parties would require Verizon to omit the header entirely.

According to Verizon, the header value is a salted hash, and the hash changes on an undisclosed frequency. However, it's easy for third-party ad networks to create a continuous profile by associating old and new X-UIDH values through their own identifier cookie1. Verizon has refused to say what identifier they hash to create the identifier, but their recent patent suggests hashing a phone number. If they are indeed hashing phone numbers, it would be a major cryptographic mistake. Phone numbers can easily be deduced from hashes, so sending those hashes to untrusted web sites is practically equivalent to giving them your phone number.

Besides the ad networks, the unique X-UIDH header is a boon to eavesdroppers. We have seen that the NSA uses similar identifying metadata as 'selectors' to collect all of a single person's Internet activity. They also have been shown to use selectors to choose targets for delivering malware via QUANTUMINSERT and similar programs. Having all Verizon mobile users' web traffic marked with a persistent, unique identifier makes it trivial for anyone passively eavesdropping on the Internet to associate that traffic with the individual user in a way not possible with IP addresses alone.

According to Verizon, it began the Precision Market Insights program in 2012, but has consistently refused to provide technical details about how the program worked. The injection of the X-UIDH header went largely unremarked by the technical community until recently because it is so hard to observe. The header is inserted in requests after they leave the phone, so customers cannot detect it using only a phone. In order to detect it, a user needs to run a web server configured to log or echo all HTTP headers, which is very rare.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Verizon can only modify plaintext traffic. It can't modify encrypted requests without breaking the whole connection. There are four options for encrypting web requests: HTTPS, an encrypted proxy, a VPN, or Tor. Only a VPN or Tor provide full protection in this case.

The best protection against this specific problem is to use a VPN that encrypts all requests made from your phone, regardless of whether they were made by an app or a browser. Most VPNs are paid services, and when using a VPN you have to trust the VPN operators the same way you would normally trust your ISP. Advanced users can also use Tor via Orbot Android app in transparent proxy mode (requires root). Tor is free, but you have to trust exit node operators not to interfere with your connection. Tor is more appropriate if you are trying to be anonymous.

The second-best protection is to use an encrypted proxy, which protects browser traffic but not mobile apps. Mobile Chrome provides the 'Reduce data usage' setting, which is reported to prevent the X-UIDH header injection. Unfortunately, this connection is not reliably encrypted, because an ISP can disable encryption on it at any time.

HTTPS, which is the best protection for many types of harm, is actually the least powerful protection for this one. The header cannot be injected into an HTTPS request, but since websites choose whether to offer HTTPS, a site that wants to track users can simply avoid HTTPS and get the tracking headers. The web needs to become fully encrypted, and these X-UIDH headers provide a strong disincentive for sites and advertisers who wish to track their users to adopt HTTPS. In fact, the AT&T patent on similar headers recommends downgrading (redirecting) secure HTTPS requests to HTTP ones in order to receive the tracking header.

What Verizon Should Do

Verizon should immediately stop injecting the X-UIDH tracking header into its users' traffic. It is entirely possible to re-design their marketing programs so that the header is only injected for users who explicitly consent to having their Internet connections modified to add tracking information, and to do so in a way that doesn't allow third-party sites to track users across the Internet.

We're also concerned that Verizon's failure to permit its users to opt out of X-UIDH may be a violation of the federal law that requires phone companies to maintain the confidentiality of their customers' data. Only two months ago, the wireline sector of Verizon's business was hit with a $7.4 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission after it was caught using its "customers' personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out." With this header, it looks like Verizon lets its customers opt out of the marketing side of the program, but not from the disclosure of their browsing habits.

More generally, Verizon should stop tampering with their customers' Internet traffic without their customers' consent. ISPs like Verizon act as trusted connectors to the world, and shouldn't be modifying our communications on their way to the Internet. People should not be required to subscribe to a VPN and put their trust in a third party in order to get a modicum of privacy on the Internet.

AT&T has been reported to be testing a similar header.

  • 1. For instance, suppose an ad network assigned you a cookie with the unique value "cookie1," and Verizon assigned you the X-UIDH header "old_uid." When Verizon changes your X-UIDH header to a new value, say "new_uid," the ad network can connect "new_uid" and "old_uid" to the same cookie value "cookie1" and see that they all three values represent the same person. Similarly, if you subsequently clear cookies, the ad network will assign a new cookie value "cookie2." Since your X-UIDH value is the same (say, "new_uid") before and after clearing cookies, the ad network can connect "cookie1" and "cookie2" to the same X-UIDH value "new_uid." The back-and-forth bootstrapping of identity makes it impossible to truly clear your tracking history while the X-UIDH header is enabled.
Related Issues: AnonymityPrivacyDo Not TrackOnline Behavioral Tracking
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In Klayman v. Obama, EFF Explains Why Metadata Matters and the Third-Party Doctrine Doesn't

eff.org - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 01:32

How can the US government possibly claim that its collection of the phone records of millions of innocent Americans is legal? It relies mainly on two arguments: first, that no one can have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their metadata and second, that the outcome is controlled by the so-called “third party doctrine,” which says that no one has an expectation of privacy in information they convey to a third party (such as telephone numbers dialed). We expect the government to press both of these arguments on November 4, before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. We look forward to responding.

Oral argument will take place at 9:30 am at the D.C. Circuit Court at 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Courtroom 20, before Judges Sentelle, Williams and Brown. The public is welcome to attend.

A little context for EFF’s role in this case: EFF and ACLU filed an amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama on August 20, 2014. The case itself was first filed June 6, 2013, just one day after journalists began publishing information from the Snowden leaks, and it was the first challenge to the government’s “telephony metadata” collection. Judge Richard Leon of the District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction. The government appealed, Mr. Klayman cross appealed some issues, and now the case is headed to the Court of Appeals.

Judge Leon found that the government’s bulk collection of telephony metadata likely constitutes an unconstitutional search under the Fourth Amendment. We agree, and since the issue is so important, we weighed in on the case along with the ACLU and the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital. We asked the court for the right to participate in the oral argument, and the court agreed, giving us 10 minutes and also giving 10 minutes to another amicus, the Center for National Security Studies. Cindy Cohn will argue the case for EFF and ACLU.

Here’s what we’ll be saying on those two key points:

Metadata Matters

We want to ensure that the court recognizes that: “The call records collected by the government are not just metadata—they are intimate portraits of the lives of millions of Americans.” 

The argument that the bulk collection of private information from millions of Americans is no big deal because it’s “just metadata” is a tired one. It’s been disproven by research—and it doesn't stand up to common sense. First, there’s no bright line. What is deemed “metadata” is often murky (such as subject lines and URLs) and context dependent—and not clearly distinguishable from content, which everyone agrees is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Second, and more important, even without listening in on a conversation, metadata reveals private information—sometimes more than would be revealed by content.

We offer some examples where metadata is more revealing in our brief: people can “donate to charities by sending a text message…The metadata about these texts reveals that the subscriber has donated to a specific charity or cause, while the content of the message contains at most a donation amount.” Similarly, “an hour-long call at 3 A.M. to a suicide prevention hotline” could be very revealing. In fact, even a single piece of metadata could reflect an individual’s political or religious associations or mental health issues.  

Consider a short-term study at Stanford that analyzed only a few months of telephony metadata from just 546 people focused partly on individual calls. The researchers found many calls that even in isolation could be revealing, such as a call to a political campaign, noting: “Many organizations have a narrow purpose, such that an individual call gives rise to sensitive inferences.” The study found “numerous calls within our dataset that give rise to these sorts of straightforward inferences.”

By contrast, the government is collecting huge amounts of metadata—by conservative estimates at least billions of call records. And as the Stanford study showed, these records are exponentially revealing in the aggregate: “A pattern of calls will often, of course, reveal more than individual call records. During our analysis, we encountered a number of patterns that were highly indicative of sensitive activities or traits.”

As important as the sensitivity of the information here is the fact that the potential sensitivity is exactly why the government wants the information. The government has emphasized repeatedly, in speeches and in legal briefs that it needs to collect so much metadata specifically so that it can analyze complete (or at least very big) datasets. That makes sense, since as we point out in our brief, this aggregation provides context and information to metadata, and allows analysts to create “social graphs” that map webs of relationships between individuals and groups. In fact, aggregated metadata could allow an analyst to determine “the membership, structure, or participants in organizations and movements like the NAACP, the Tea Party, or Occupy Wall Street . . .”  

To compound the privacy invasion, metadata is highly structured, making it ideal for the kind of analysis that reveals highly personal information. It’s easier to review than the content of communications. And since the government’s argument is that all metadata is unprotected, it’s important not to consider it in a vacuum. As we note, metadata “is truly ubiquitous, created through the innumerable and near-continuous digital transactions and interactions attendant to modern life.”

The “Third Party Doctrine” is Not Controlling

After trying to convince the court that metadata just isn’t that revealing, the government says that the Fourth Amendment also doesn’t apply because we “voluntarily” turn over the numbers we dial to telephone companies—as if this wasn’t just an artifact of how the phones work and instead was some kind of individual choice we make.  Because of this, the government argues, the situation is governed by  the “third party doctrine,” the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

That argument is almost as tired as the metadata claim and ignores the realities of modern life. The third-party doctrine comes from a 1979 Supreme Court case, Smith v. Maryland, which involved the collection of the phone numbers dialed by a criminal suspect over the course of three days using a rudimentary pen register. And as Judge Leon said in his opinion in the lower court:

“the Court in Smith was not confronted with the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program. Nor could the Court in 1979 ever have imagined how the citizens of 2013 would interact with their phones.”

Judge Leon hits the nail on the head. As we point out, the issue in Klayman is not limited to collection of the numbers dialed by one individual suspected of criminal wrongdoing, over a very short period of time. The issue here is bulk collection—and sophisticated analysis—of the detailed telephone records of millions of people suspected of nothing at all.

We emphasize five significant points of difference in our brief:

  • Scale: The program collects data for all or nearly all Americans, rather than one individual suspected of a serious crime.
  • Duration: The current program captures years of data, while the pen register in Smith captured data for only three days
  • Changes in telephone use: Use of the telephone has changed dramatically since 1979, when telephones were largely stationary devices shared among a number of users, with one number per household or organization. Today, as landline usage dwindles, mobile phones have become personal, not shared, devices that many people carry constantly with them and use dozens, if not hundreds, of times per day.
  • Information collected: The phone records in this case include whether the call was completed, its duration, and other information rather than simply which numbers were being dialed, as in Smith.
  • Individualized suspicion: The program does not collect information based on individualized suspicion of any sort, much less individualized suspicion of a crime.

These differences mean that it’s just not credible to try to cram the government’s  gigantic, revealing telephone records collection into the narrow box of the Smith line of cases. As our brief notes, that's “a result unimaginable when Smith was decided and certainly not considered by the Court.”

In short, both the government’s metadata argument and its third-party doctrine argument are wrongly applied to massive telephone record collection. Moreover, both ask the court to ignore how we live today, with our “papers and effects” stored with third parties and metadata trailing our every move. Yet even with technological changes, we can and do have reasonable expectations that this information will remain private. We look forward to the court’s careful consideration of these and other points on Tuesday. 

Related Issues: PrivacyNSA SpyingPATRIOT ActRelated Cases: Smith v. ObamaKlayman v. ObamaJewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Southeastern Ukrainian Elections: Scoundrel Media Misreporting

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 04/11/2014 - 00:52
Southeastern Ukrainian Elections: Scoundrel Media Misreporting
by Stephen Lendman
Managed news misinformation is longstanding scoundrel media practice. Truth-telling on issues mattering most is verboten.
Big Lies substitute. Western media support Kiev's coup d'etat government. Infested with neo-Nazi putschists. Illegitimate by any standard.
At the same time, they oppose Southeastern Ukrainian freedom. Universally recognized self-determination. Democratic elections affirming it.
On November 2, The New York Times headlined "Rebel-Backed Elections to Cement Status Quo in Ukraine,' saying:
"The campaign billboards in this city suggested a tight race between Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Aleksandr Zakharchenko."
"As voters in rebel-held areas of Ukraine went to the polls on Sunday, in defiance of the central government, the European Union and the United States, the only visible campaign advertising in Donetsk was in support of the current separatist leader, Mr. Zakharchenko, who is, not surprisingly, expected to win."
"Rather than offering a range of plausible opposition candidates, the voting for members of Parliament and heads of state in Donetsk and the other breakaway region of eastern Ukraine, Luhansk, was significant for highlighting Ukraine’s loss of control over these territories, and Russia's strengthening influence."
"The elections will likely cement the status quo for Luhansk and Donetsk, which have been controlled in large part by pro-Russian separatists since the spring." 
"Russia has said it will recognize the results, while Ukraine, along with European governments and the United States, has said it will not, maintaining that the elections violated a cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk in September."
Fact check
Unmentioned was Southeastern Ukraine's democratic process. Monitors judging it open, free and fair. Zakharchenko's overwhelming popularity.
Elected by popular mandate. Unlike sham Western elections. Especially money-controlled US ones. Making democracy pure fantasy. 
Southeastern Ukrainians have the real thing. In strict accord with Minsk protocol terms. Big Lied claim otherwise. 
Don't expect The New York Times to explain. Representing wealth, power and privilege alone. Longstanding editorial policy. Mocking journalistic legitimacy.
The Washington Post headlined "Ukraine pro-Russian rebels hold elections in the east, fueling conflict," saying:
"A Ukrainian military spokesman said Sunday that Russian military support had been flowing into eastern Ukraine in recent days, and witnesses on Sunday reported long columns of unmarked military trucks traveling into the rebel stronghold of Donetsk."
Illegitimate Ukrainian oligarch president Poroshenko was quoted saying: 
"Ukraine and the entire civilized world will not accept this farce. I hope that Russia does not recognize these pseudo-elections!"
Fact check:
Russia supplies vitally needed humanitarian aid only. To war-torn Southeastern Ukrainian residents. 
No evidence whatever suggests military weapons, munitions or suppllies. Or Russian involvement in fighting. Claims otherwise are Big Lies. Proliferating shamelessly.
It bears repeating. Southeastern Ukrainian elections were open, free and fair. Observers from around 30 countries affirmed it.
So-called Kiev presidential and parliamentary ones were farcical. Illegitimate by any standard. 
Mocking real democracy. Verboten nationwide. Except in Donbas' oasis of freedom. What all Ukrainians deserve. What fascist rule prohibits.
WaPo published an AP report. It headlined "Russia backs Ukrainians separatists' election," saying:
"Russia gave its backing Monday to a contentious election held by separatists in eastern Ukraine, setting the stage for renewed diplomatic tensions with the West."
"Plans for the vote had been sharply criticized by the EU and the US, which said it violated Ukrainian law and undermined a two-month old cease-fire deal."
"…Ukraine accuse(d) Moscow of undermining its sovereignty."
Fact check:
Media scoundrels call real democracy "contentious." Sham governance they support is called legitimate.
Sunday's elections violated no laws or agreements. Big Lies claim otherwise.
The Wall Street Journal headlined "Russia Says It Respects Results of Eastern Ukraine Separatist Vote," saying:
It "revive(d) tensions with Kiev and the West, which denounced the votes as illegal and a threat to a fragile cease-fire."
"Russia had signaled last week it would recognize the vote, which took place Sunday in the presence of tanks and with results cementing the status quo all but predetermined."
Fact check:
Washington bears full responsibility for stoking tensions. Rogue EU partners share it.
So-called ceasefire conditions don't exist. Kiev violated agreed on enforcing terms. Fighting continues daily.
Peace is a convenient illusion. Fascists don't wage aggression to quit. 
Washington provides support and encouragement. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. Or German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
He lied saying Donbas elections "infringe on the letter and spirit" of Minsk. "From our point of view, the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine should not be put into question."
"(W)e will not accept either the elections nor their results."
Berlin marches in lockstep with Washington. Supporting Kiev fascist illegitimacy. Rejecting Donbas democracy.
Europe's new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini repeated the same sentiment. Supporting wrong over right. Doing so shamelessly.
"Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law on a special status for the separatist-controlled regions that provided for regional elections to be held in December, but the rebels ignored it to go ahead with the vote," sad the Journal.
Providing for December elections contravened what he agreed to in Minsk. The Journal didn't explain. 
Or denounce fabricated reports about Moscow supplying Donbas self-defense forces with "fighters and weapons." No evidence suggests it. None exists.
Russia is scrupulously neutral. It supports regional peace and stability. It's gone all-out to achieve it since conflict erupted. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain.
Britain's BBC is a longstanding imperial tool. Government owed and operated. 
Eschewing real news and information. Proliferating state propaganda. 
Substituting Big Lies for truth and full disclosure. No different from America's scoundrel media. 
Lying for power. Suppressing what people most need to know. On November 2, it headlined "Ukraine crisis: Separatists hold controversial polls," saying:
"Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have held elections denounced by the West as "illegitimate."
Unidentified so-called "sources told the BBC that a huge convoy of up to 90 military trucks had been seen passing through rebel held areas of eastern Ukraine."
"The convoy, which bore no military insignia, was carrying multiple rocket launchers and other weapons."
"It came as the Ukrainian military reported an 'intensive deployment' of troops and equipment crossing the border from Russia into the east of the country through the area of the border currently under rebel control."
Fact check:
It bears repeating. Russia supplied war-torn Donbas with vitally neede humanitarian aid only. Nothing else.
No evidence suggests otherwise. BBC claims are shameless. Big Lies. Reflecting official UK policy.
Militant. Pro-war. Anti-populist. Anti-democratic. Anti-Russian. Pro-fascist dictatorship rule. 
Don't expect BBC to explain. It's a propaganda bullhorn for imperial power. 
Mimicking America's scoundrel media. Truth is strictly verboten. Big Lies substitute daily. Journalism the way it should be is nowhere in sight.
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.

Democratic v. Sham Elections

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/11/2014 - 21:54
Democratic v. Sham Elections
by Stephen Lendman
Sunday's democratic Southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics' elections shamed America's sham process. Legitimately choosing leaders and MPs.
Observers judging the process open, free and fair. "(W)ell organized. Calm and peaceful. (N)o provocations or violations," according to German monitor Manuel Ochsenreiter. 
"We were visiting polling stations. They are all very crowded." 
"It's a huge interest of the population at the elections. You can see it by masses of people standing inside and in front the polling stations."
US attorney/Ukraine Observer magazine publisher Frank Abernathy said "elections followed international standards of democratic elections." 
"I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and the vigor with which the people went to the polls to express their opinion," he said.
Russian observers called Sunday's process "absolutely legitimate." Just Russia MP Oleg Pakholkov said "(t)he choice has been definitely made."
"I have worked as an observer at many elections, but neither in Russia nor in Europe people have voted so actively as here," he said.
He urged Moscow to extend recognition as soon as possible.
Russia's Rodina (Motherland) Party MP Alexey Zhuravlev called American and European failure to recognize electoral results "absurd."
"No observers from any country were barred from monitoring the voting process." 
"In our view, the elections have been absolutely legitimate in full compliance with international standards. These elections should be recognized," he stressed.
According to Russian Communist Party Duma MP Alexander Yushchenko:
"After these elections the republic's residents have legally won the right to freedom. Before that they defended it by arms."
"DPR has all chances to build a social state, free from the power of oligarchs."
State Duma international affairs committee head Leonid Slutsky said:
"We have visited different polling stations. Our impressions surpassed all our expectations." 
"People were voting enthusiastically and were certain that they open a new page in their history, linked with peaceful life and, strange as it may appear, with prosperity." 
Sunday's process was open, free and fair, he added. 
"The right to a nation's self-determination is enshrined in the UN Charter and we see as the Donbas residents are exercising it." 
"As for the elections, we have not recorded any significant violation." The voting was held very successfully and very effectively."
It bears repeating. Polar opposite America's sham process. A separate article explains illegitimate duopoly power. 
Controlled by monied interests. People have no say. Half opt out for good reason. Their interests aren't represented.
Washington and rogue EU partners denounced what deserves support. US National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh lied, saying:
"We condemn the illegal so-called elections, carried out on Sunday by the separatists in Eastern regions of Ukraine." 
"We again urge the Russian Federation and its supporters among the separatists to meet its obligations in the framework of the Minsk agreement of 5 September and Minsk Memorandum dated September 19." 
"The US will not recognize any results of these so-called elections and (urge) all members of the international (community) to do the same thing."
An EU statement said: 
"We deplore Minister Lavrov's remarks about Russia's forthcoming recognition of the elections "on the territory of the proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics."
It lied adding: "The holding of 'presidential' and 'parliamentary' elections, called by the self-appointed authorities, would run counter to the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol and disrupt progress towards finding a sustainable political solution in this framework."
Fact: Self-determination is universally recognized.
Fact: Ukraine's coup d'etat government has no legitimacy whatever.
Fact: DRP and LPR reject fascist putschist rule.
Fact: They fought and died for real democracy.
Fact: They intend having it. Preserving it. Preventing efforts to deny them.
Fact: Minsk protocol terms affirm Southeastern Ukrainian elections between October 19 and November 3.
Fact: Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Russia supports Southeastern Ukraine's democratic process. It  intends recognizing electoral results. Believing they're a positive step forward.
On Sunday, its Foreign Ministry said:
"The elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were held in an organized way in general and with high voter turnout."
"We respect the will expression of the citizens of the south-east."
"The elected representatives have received a mandate to solve political tasks to restore normal life in the regions."
"Taking into consideration the elections, it is essential to take active steps to set up a sustainable dialogue between the central Ukrainian authorities and representatives of Donbas in line with agreements reached in Minsk."
Moscow is "ready together with international partners to further contribute in a constructive way to the settlement of the crisis situation in Ukraine."
In contrast, Washington intends going all-out to sabotage Southeastern Ukrainian democracy. So do rogue EU partners.
On Monday, Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Prime Minister Alexsandr Zakharachenko said Minsk protocol terms affirm "the right to hold our own elections."
Sunday's process "do(es) not contradict the Minsk agreements." DPR is open for dialogue with Kiev, he added. It's waiting for "adequate action" from Ukrainian leaders.
Political Science Professor Henry Srebrnik calls electoral legitimacy "in the eye of the beholder."
"The United States and the EU have recognized all kinds of elections around the world which were of dubious legality, and which were clearly less than free and fair" than Southeastern Ukraine's process.
"Since Washington refuses to accept the fact that there was an unconstitutional regime change in Ukraine last February, it won't accept any election result in eastern Ukraine, even if it completely reflects the wishes of the population there," he added.
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Central Election Commission head Roman Lyagin said incumbent Prime Minister Alexsandr Zakharachenko is DPR's new head of state.
Winning about 75% of the vote. In Lugansk, incumbent leader Igor Plotnitsky won a 63% majority.
Illegitimate Ukrainian oligarch president Petro Poroshenko shamelessly denounced electoral results, saying:
"I count on Russia not to recognize the so-called elections because they are a clear violation of the September 5 Minsk protocol, which was also signed by Russia's representative."
It bears repeating. Minsk protocol terms affirm Sunday's electoral legitimacy. Poroshenko lied claiming otherwise.
According to Institute for CIS States deputy head Vladimir Zharikhin:
"Elections will help to legitimize the authorities of DPR and LPR and the republics themselves…"
"Of course, the elections will not be acknowledged de jure in the West and in Kiev. But de facto, they will have to take into account the will expression of the citizens."
"Stability will increase in these republics. As the situation with the vertical power structure was still uneasy there, by receiving the mandate, the new authorities will be able to resolve these problems."
Caspian Cooperation Institute director general Sergey Mikheyev believes Sunday's elections won't resolve crisis conditions.
"(S)helling and provocations will continue until the resumption of (more intense) armed actions," he said.
Center for Political Information director general Alexey Mukhin agrees, saying:
Kiev wants war. "The West and in particular the US gives money only for elections and war."
Rada elections are over. "The only way to get (Western) funds is to continue the so-called anti-terrorist operation…in eastern Ukraine."
Kiev's national security and defense council spokesman Andriy Lysenko lied, saying: 
"The intensive movement of military equipment and troops from the territory of the Russian Federation to the territory temporarily controlled by (Donbas) militia continues."
No evidence whatever was cited. None exists. Ukrainian authorities proliferate Big Lies. So do Washington and rogue EU partners.
On Monday, activists rallied outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Supporting Sunday's elections. According to Euro-Rus movement head Kris Roman:
" The European Parliament that considers itself as the main citadel of democracy in Europe has already said it will not recognize Sunday's elections." 
"But what is the price for its democracy if it refuses to acknowledge (its) direct expression…"
"Well, the European Parliament may say whatever it wants. People in eastern Ukraine do not care if the European lawmakers recognize their will or not."
An unnamed Belgian participant added:
"People in the West…think…the same way. The elections in various countries of the world are divided into the bad or good ones…(B)acked by mass media tr(ying) to persuade all of us to believe in this."
"I have come here to voice my support for Russia, which today is the only real counterweight to this liberal dictatorship."
On Sunday, Southeastern Ukrainians voted. Democratically. Legitimately. 
For governance of, by and for all Donetsk and Lugansk residents equitably. Polar opposite America's sham electoral process.
Democracy in name only. For its privileged few alone. The best money can buy. 
Illegitimate by any standard. Empowering wealth, power and privilege. The late Gore Vidal called US democracy "bribery on the highest scale."
A process "where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates."
Governance of, by and for America's privileged few alone. Monied interests running things. 
Legitimizing the illegitimate. Mocking real democracy. None whatever exists. Believing otherwise is pure fantasy.
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. 

Serial Killer Netanyahu Calls for Calm

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/11/2014 - 06:39
Serial Killer Netanyahu Calls for Calm
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, Netanyahu called on Knesset members to restore calm. Referring to Temple Mount tensions. Ones he willfully provoked. More on this below.
He heads Israel's fascist government. It's most extremist ever. Democracy for privileged Jews alone.
Neoliberal harshness for others. No rights whatever for Palestinians. Militarized occupation denies them.
Exceeding Sharonian evil and then some. An unindicted war criminal multiple times over.
Guilty of premeditated murder. Genocidal slaughter. Mass destruction. Waging daily war on Palestine.
His November 2012 Operation Pillar of Cloud murdered 170 Palestinians in eight days. Injured hundreds more. Many maimed for life.
An unnamed Gazan woman put a human face on Palestinian suffering.
On November 20, her letter from Gaza said the following:
"The situation here is really terrible and it’s getting worse day after day..."
"This morning, the Israeli F16 military jets hit our area twice. The first time, they hit the building of the council of ministers with 5 huge missiles just a few homes away from our home."
"Our home was shaking like an earthquake, and our windows broke and shattered everywhere, and I felt the missiles inside our home. It was very scary. Of course serious damages happened to all surrounding buildings in the area."
"The first time, the Israeli F16 military jets hit Palestine stadium, which is located in the neighborhood next to my neighborhood, with 4 huge missiles, and caused some damages to my home as well."
"I heard the huge explosions and saw the flames and it was very terrifying. We see and feel death very close with each bombing. Israel is bombing everywhere in Gaza all the time by air, sea and land."
“Nowhere to hide…Nowhere is safe...We don’t have shelters. We just stay at home so all of us can die at once if a missile would strike our home."
"We are still recovering from the trauma of (Cast Lead). How will we recover from this?"
"This is insane…How much is too much?...I hope this madness will stop as quickly as possible."
Pillar of Cloud and December 2008/January 2009 Cast Lead were skirmishes compared to Protective Edge.
Over 2,200 died. Around 11,000 wounded. Over 80% of casualties were civilians.
Willfully targeted lawlessly. Israel considers them fair game. Around 600 children killed. Another 3,300 wounded. Many disabled for life. Virtually all traumatized.
Around 300 women killed. Another 2,100 injured. Palestinian suffering continues daily. Besieged Gazans remain isolated.
On their own out of luck. Israel spurned agreed on ceasefire terms straightaway. Agreements its signs aren't worth the paper they're written on.
It says one thing. It does another. Palestinians suffer. Many die. Since 1948. After 66 years, Palestinians haven't achieved a single meaningful victory. Relief is nowhere in sight.
Israeli hegemonic ambitions are boundless. Its culture reflects  violence, belligerence, occupation harshness, land theft, Palestinian dispossession, institutionalized racism, and contempt for rule of law principles and democratic values.
Post-conflict deals mean nothing. Change won't come until Israel and Washington are held fully accountable. For decades of crimes of war and against humanity.
Day of reckoning time is nowhere in sight. Resolution won't happen until it arrives. Netanyahu's call for calm rings hollow.
He spoke with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Asked for help with other MKs. Urging "responsibility and restraint." Regarding Temple Mount status quo issues.
Despite none from him forthcoming. On this or other issues. Saying one thing. Doing another. His call came after Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel harshly criticized Jordan.
Responding to its government spokesman. Saying Israeli East Jerusalem actions and attempts to change longstanding Temple Mount status quo puts Jordanian/Israeli peace at risk.
Days after the 20th anniversary of their treaty.
"I hear that the Jordanians are threatening the peace agreement, and I wonder whether they've forgotten the Six-Day War and all the years in which Israel supported King Hussein," said Ariel.
"The Temple Mount and Jerusalem are under Israeli sovereignty just as Amman is under complete Jordanian sovereignty, and they should take this to heart."
Other extremist MK's made similar comments. A previous article discussed John Kerry's remarks about escalating Jerusalem tensions.
Particularly surrounding the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
Referring to violence following its closure. After radicalized right-wing rabbi Yehuda Glick was shot and seriously wounded.
Before Al-Aqsa's Friday reopening, Kerry said:
"The continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at this holy site is critical. Any decisions or actions to change it would be both provocative and dangerous."
In a Friday press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry demanded Netanyahu eschew provocative statements.
Abstain from actions regarding Jerusalem. Preserve the Temple Mount's status quo.
Kerry and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will meet in Washington Monday. Addressing Jerusalem conditions. Suggesting efforts to revive moribund peace talks.
On Sunday, Netanyahu addressed cabinet ministers. Saying no changes in Temple Mount regulations are forthcoming.
After days of unrest and protests. After protest marches throughout the West Bank following Mutaz Hijazi's murder. Israeli police blamed him for shooting Glick.
Despite no evidence proving it. Denying him due process. Murdering him in cold blood. It's longstanding Israeli practice. He never had a chance.
Fatah's Jerusalem secretary-general, Adnan Ghaith, called killing him an "act of terrorism."
Persecuting Palestinians bears full responsibility for public anger. Civil uprisings. Violent clashes. Deaths and injuries following.
Over the weekend, Israeli security forces detained two Palestinian children. A two-year-old and nine-year-old. On suspicion of stone throwing.
Nine-year-old Izz al-Din al-Qassam had "colored rocks" in his pockets. Presumably to throw at soldiers. It was candy. Apologies didn't follow.
According to a 2013 UN Children's Fund report, Israel is the only country where children are systematically tried in military courts.
Subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."
In the past decade, Israeli forces arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted around 7,000 children. Between ages 12 and 17.
Some younger. Mostly boys. "(A)n average of two children each day," according to UNICEF.
Friday was marked by extreme Israeli violence. Throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Numerous Palestinian injuries followed. Israeli forces show no mercy. Netanyahu's call for calm rings hollow. He bears full responsibility for police state viciousness.
Extremist ministers share it. So do radicalized MKs. Community incursions and clashes occur multiple times daily.
Palestinian rights are systematically denied. Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. Fear is constant. Collective punishment is official policy.
Fundamental civil and human rights are denied. Crimes of war and against humanity repeat without redress.
Wanting to live free in sovereign Palestine is called terrorism. Brute force targets resisters.
State-sponsored genocide threatens Palestine's existence. Responsible change is nowhere in sight.
Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi called Netanyahu urging calm "unacceptable." Accusing him of escalating tensions. Stoking violence.
Calling Netanyahu "a thief who tries to find stolen things which he himself stole." Accusing him and likeminded extremists of "playing with fire."
"The problem lies in the ruling party and the Likud lawmakers and their supporters."
"They are the ones who stir up the situation by storming Al-Aqsa Mosque."
"They are the main cause of what is going on in addition to Netanyahu's decision to shut down the Al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslims."
Bearing full responsibility for occupation harshness. Long denied justice remains nowhere in sight.
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.

Southeastern Ukrainians Vote

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 03/11/2014 - 03:25
Southeastern Ukrainians Vote
by Stephen Lendman
Fascist illegitimacy grips Ukraine. Southeastern Donbas People's republics reflect an oasis of freedom. Residents intend keeping it this way.
They haven't struggled hard for months to quit. Today they're holding real democratic elections. For leaders and MPs. 
Polar opposite Kiev illegitimate process. Limited self-rule permitted under Minsk protocol ceasefire terms. 
Claims otherwise are false. Big Lies. Proliferated to sabotage real democracy. Absent throughout Ukraine. Except for Donbas.
Polling stations opened at 8:00AM Moscow time. Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics are heavily protected. Against expected sabotage Kiev plans. More on this below.
Donetsk has 363 polling stations. Including three in Russia for refugees. For more than three million eligible voters. Lugansk has 102 stations. For about 1.5 million potential voters.
Anyone aged 16 or older may vote in Donetsk. In Lugansk, it's aged 18 or older. High turnout is expected in both regions. No minimum numbers are required.
Internet voting is permitted. Inauguration date for new leaders remains open. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Central Election Commission head Roman Lyagin said:
"There are several variants, when it may be held, but I cannot name them yet."
"An inauguration ceremony will be held at a Donetsk theatre. We are still thinking over an oath of the parliament." 
"We (plan a) bright swearing-in ceremony which will be interesting for spectators and journalists," he added.
Key is establishing democratic governance. Polar opposite fascism's grip throughout other Ukrainian areas. 
Perhaps Donbas democracy will inspire change elsewhere. Ukrainians deserve better than they're getting. 
Their solution is nationwide revolution. Perhaps one day for currently absent freedoms.
One Donetsk voter perhaps spoke for many others, saying:
"Our opinion was simply ignored (by Kiev) when we took part in (May's independence) referendum."
"Now it's time to take the people's will into account. That's why I have come today to cast my vote."
For fundamental freedoms Kiev denies. Candidates to head DPR include acting Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko.
Donetsk and Lugansk Federal State of Novorossia parliamentary First Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kofman.
Donetsk Berkut (elite police) veterans organization head Yuri Sivokonenko.
All support democratic freedoms. Restoring peace and stability. Rebuilding infrastructure and residential homes. As well as resolving social problems.
Zakharchenko backs instituting social payments to teachers, pensioners, and students as soon as possible.
His top priority is rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by months of war. So is incorporating Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and other Southeastern cities into Novorossia. Currently controlled by Kiev.
Sivokonenko wants DPR accession into a Russia/Belarus/Kazakhstan Customs Union.
"We are strongly linked with Ukraine, but I call with all my soul and heart for integration, including Donetsk People's Republic’s entry in the Customs Union," he said.
Economic restoration depends on responsible cooperative relations, he believes.
Kofman supports Novorossia governance. At the same time, he prioritizes resolving humanitarian problems.
Zakharchenko, DPR's Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin, and its co-chairman Denis Pushilin head the list of candidates likely to lead DPR post-election.
According to Purgin:
"Election campaign of the Donetsk Republic movement is a programme of people's economy, people’s Donbas without oligarchs."
The prevailing system elsewhere throughout Ukraine. Corrupting the country hugely. Putting crime bosses in charge of policies.
Donbas intends change. People power, openness and social justice. Governance of, by and for everyone equitably.
Hundreds of observers from about 30 countries monitored voting. European Parliamentary members, Russia, France, Britain, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia, South Ossetia, Montenegro, NGOs and various other representatives among them.
Including an unofficial Russian lower house State Duma delegation. Representing various parties.
OSCE officials opted out. Bulgarian lawmaker Magdalena Tasheva perhaps spoke for other observers, saying:
"Only elections will bring peace to Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. We hope that elections will pass calmly, fairly, openly and will meet all international standards."
Russia intends recognizing electoral results. Believing they're a positive step toward resolving crisis conditions.
According to Russia's Foreign Ministry:
"Before the start of the Minsk peace process leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics have laid down their negotiating positions in public, particularly noting that free elections on these territories based on the principles of people's self-governance would pave a way to joint effort to preserve a common economic, cultural and political space in Ukraine."
"Russia will assist the leaders of the country’s southeast winning at elections to confirm this policy."
"According to Minsk peace accords reached in September between representatives of the Ukrainian president and militias in southeast, Ukraine with assistance of representatives from Russia and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) holding of mentioned elections is agreed between October 19 and November 3."
"References to the law on special procedure of self-governance on these territories signed by (Ukraine's oligarch president Petro) Poroshenko on October 16 setting the date of elections on December 7 contradicts the Minsk peace accords."
Washington, other NATO members, OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reject real democracy. 
They support illegitimate fascist rule. Violating agreed on Minsk protocol terms.
On November 2, Itar Tass headlined "Two subversive groups neutralised in Donetsk," saying:
They tried sabotaging elections. According to CEC head Lyagin:
"Two subversive and reconnaissance groups operate in the DPR territory. We neutralised two groups in Marinovka and Yelenovka. They were armed with heavy weapons."
"All roads to the DPR territory have been blocked off by Ukrainian security forces,” he added.
On Sunday, Kiev announced a criminal investigation into Donetsk and Lugansk elections. According to its Security Service:
"The criminal case has been launched under Part 1, Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (actions aimed at forcibly changing or overthrowing the constitutional order or seizing power)."
Despite electoral legitimacy. What Kiev agreed to under Minsk protocol terms. 
Again proving its word isn't its bond. Putschist fascist regimes operate this way. With no legitimacy whatever.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Obama's new friends are xenophobic, hate-mongering, ultranationalist anti-Semites.
Representing mob rule. European fascists in power for first time since WW II.
Taking full advantage. Violating core democratic principles. In lockstep with US hardliners. Mocking what they claim to support.
In response to Kiev's "criminal case," DPR Prime Minister Zakharchenko said republic authorities intend criminal proceedings "on genocide after the polls."
"If we don't fear shelling, we don't fear the criminal case," he said. "No matter what Ukraine is opening." 
It's "broiling with powerlessness…We've made the choice and we follow our way. We don't intend to turn off our path."
Freedom is too precious to lose. Nothing remains without it. Ordinary Southeastern Ukrainians put their bodies on the line to save it.
Representing model resistance for others to emulate. Deserving universal support and then some.
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.

Collective Punishment: Official Israeli Policy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 02/11/2014 - 23:41
Collective Punishment: Official Israeli Policy
by Stephen Lendman
Israel gives rogue state lawlessness new meaning. Rule of law principles don't matter. Repeated breaches occur.
Unaccountably because Western leaders support its worst crimes. International law is clear and unequivocal. Collective punishment violates Fourth Geneva's Article 33, stating:
"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed." 
"Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."
Throughout over 47 years of militarized occupation harshness, Israel willfully, maliciously and consistently spurned virtually all humanitarian and human rights laws. 
With impunity. Getting away with mass murder and then some. Genocide by any standard.
Agreements Israel signs aren't worth the paper they're written on. Violations occur straightaway.
Operation Protective Edge ceasefire terms are meaningless. Virtually no enforcement mechanisms exist. Israel violates its obligations unaccountably.
The latest incident involves breaching its pledge to ease Gaza's blockade. Palestinians report business as usual. Virtually no promised change occurred.
On Friday, Israel closed its Erez and Kerem Shalom Gaza border crossings. It did so indefinitely. Allegedly after a projectile was fired toward the Eshkol Regional Council. 
Three other border crossing aren't operating. Part of longstanding Israeli collective punishment. For political reasons, not security.
Possibly a mortar shell or rocket was fired. Striking an open field. Causing no injuries or damage. A virtual non-incident.
No claim of responsibility followed. Israel blew what happened way out of proportion. Minor compared to its repeated high crimes.
On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff/unindicted war criminal Benny Gantz said "quiet achieved in the south of the country is the product of continuous and strenuous work, and it could be interrupted at any time."
IDF forces must keep their "eyes open in the different fronts, from Lebanon to the Golan Heights, to the West Bank, to Gaza. We remain alert and ready for action at any intensity needed."
Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities notified Palestinians of closure. At the same time, Rafah crossing to Egypt remains closed.
Allegedly because of a Sinai attack killing 33 soldiers. Wrongfully blamed on "Palestinian militants." 
Major General Sameeh Beshadi claimed "no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks."
Coup d'etat president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi blamed "foreign forces." Without elaboration. Beshadi lied claiming Gazans infiltrated via tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai.
Booby-trapped a vehicle reportedly used to attack an army checkpoint near El Arish in northern Sinai. Used rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and mortars in a second attack.
Wrongfully blamed "Palestinian elements" for other attacks earlier. Why wasn't explained. 
How could Hamas or other Gazan resistance groups benefit from attacking Egypt? Every reason to avoid doing so is clear.
Egypt postponed Israeli/Hamas talks following Sinai's attack. They're rescheduled after mid-November.
Cairo intends establishing a buffer zone between Sinai and Gaza. Displacing thousands of residents. Some leaving voluntarily. Others forcibly removed.
At the same time, using military courts for civilians accused of attacking public property, blocking roads, or other civil offenses.
Part of Sissi's war on freedom. Usurping police state powers. Prohibiting dissent. Imprisoning thousands of political opponents. 
Banning Muslim Brotherhood membership. Sentencing hundreds to death in kangaroo tribunal proceedings.
Imposing martial law unilaterally. Replacing it days earlier with a three-month northern Sinai state of emergency. 
Rogue states operate this way. Washington provides support and encouragement. So does Israel. 
Partners in crime govern extrajudicially. State repression opponents suffer hugely.
On Sunday, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq condemned Israeli Gaza crossing closures. Calling it "collective punishment."
Saying "justifications given…are unacceptable." Criticizing PA officials for not reacting responsibly. Failing to assure entry of vital goods into Gaza.
"Where does the PA come in regarding this Israeli closure," he asked? "And where does it come in regarding its responsibilities, especially after PA employees have resumed work at Gaza crossings?"
Instead of closing crossings, more need opening. To facilitate free movement of people and goods in an out of Gaza.
Isolation exacerbates dire humanitarian conditions. Arab League countries held an emergency Sunday meeting.
Focusing on regional conditions. Especially relating to Palestine. Discussion included East Jerusalem tensions following Israeli "violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Israel's Operation Protective Edge aggression. The Sinai attack killing 33 Egyptian soldiers.
Palestinian officials blame East Jerusalem unrest on public anger and hopelessness. Leaving many Palestinian youths feeling resistance is their only option.
Israel countering with longstanding brutality. State-sponsored terrorism. Mass arrests and imprisonments. Blaming Palestinians for its crimes of war and against humanity.
Stealing more Palestinian land. Salfit residents say Israeli forces bulldozed district village lands. For more settlement construction and Jews-only roads.
Palestinian researcher Khaled Ma'ali said Israel intends expanding four settlements lawlessly. Ariel, Brukhin, Zafafa and Leshim.
Salfit district land theft is second only to East Jerusalem. Lawless expansion proceeds in 24 Israeli settlements surrounding the city.
Taking over 18 area villages. Dividing Salfit into four cantons. Weakening its economy, agriculture and societal viability. Aiming to steal over 70% of area lands. Perhaps more later on.
Salfit is valued for its water resources. The West Bank's largest supply. Strategically located. 
Connecting northern and southern Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarim, and Qalqilya. Close to Israeli-occupied northern West Bank areas.
Israel egregiously breaches core international law. Prohibiting reconfiguring occupied lands. 
Ethnically cleaning them. Making room for Jews-only residency and development. Systematically displacing thousands of Bedouins.
Stealing their land. For a new Jordan Valley settlement. Named Ramat Nu'eimeh. Built near Jericho. Intended for about 12,500 Jews.
Plans were made without consulting affected residents. Or asking their consent. Ignoring their agrarian way of life. 
Relocating them multiple times since 1948. Issuing hundreds of demolition orders to expel them from their own lands.
Bedouin rights aren't recognized. They're denied access to power grid connections, water, healthcare, education and other vital services.
They're virtual nonpersons. Earning meager income from shepherding. In limited areas Israel permits.
At issue is destroying their way of life. Displacing them for Jews-only development. Violating core international humanitarian and human rights laws in the process.
Occupying powers are required to provide for the welfare of residents they control. Forced displacement breaches their fundamental obligations. For their own self-serving interests.
Rule of law principles don't matter. Rogue states ignore them entirely. On Sunday, Haaretz headlined "Netanyahu's cabinet backs bill to jail stone-throwers up to 10-20 years." For allegedly targeting vehicles.
"(E)ven without proof of intent to harm." Or corroborating evidence proving guilt. Accusation alone suffices.
Militarized occupation gives no quarter. Cabinet approval precedes Ministerial Committee consideration. Followed by Knesset up or down voting.
Netanyahu is a world-class thug by any standard. Blaming Palestinians for Israeli crimes.
Calling legitimate self-defense "terrorism." Considering premeditated Israeli aggression "self-defense."
"Israel is operating aggressively against terrorists, against stone throwers, against hurlers of firebombs and firecrackers," he said. 
"We will legislate more aggressive legislation to this regard, in order to return quiet and security to every part of Jerusalem."
Hard-right wing Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit proposed legislation. Cracking down on legitimate Palestinian resistance.
Current legislation must prove stone-throwers intent to cause harm. Or base accusations on other laws to convict.
Mandelblit's bill permits convictions and imprisonments without proof to commit harm. Dividing stone-throwing into two categories.
Minimal 10-year sentencing for throwing stones or other objects at vehicles in motion. Allegedly endangering public safety.
Maximum sentencing up to 20 years. For intending to cause serious bodily harm. 
By throwing stones or other objects at vehicles. No verifiable proof required. Guilt by accusation suffices.
A new offense involves stone or other object throwing at police vehicles or officers. Interfering with their duties. Punishment of five years imprisonment is mandated.
Mandelblit's bill affects youths and children. Some aged 10 or less. 
Imagine a small boy incarcerated for up to 20 years. For justifiable resistance. Imagine police state harshness and then some.
Imagine intolerable conditions persisting. Racist hate. Extreme persecution. 
Premeditated wars at Israel's discretion. Genocidal high crimes repeating with disturbing regularity. 
Police state justice writ large. Mandelblit's legislation the latest example. Rogue states operate this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

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