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Reinvented Scoundrel Media History

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 19/10/2014 - 02:48
Reinvented Scoundrel Media History
by Stephen Lendman
New York Times editors do it numerous ways. At times in their "Room for Debate" series. Featuring mostly one-sided views.
Crowding out truth and full disclosure. Overwhelming it with Big Lies. On October 17, they headlined "Should Nations Recognize a Palestinian State?
Six views were presented. More on them below. An earlier article said the following:
Debating is an ancient tradition. Socrates and Plato debated political, social, and other issues. The Socratic method involves opposing sides asking and answering questions.
Ideas are freely aired. Beliefs are challenged. Truths are sought. Critical thinking is stimulated. 
Opinions are formed. Conclusions are reached through free and open dialogue and discussion.
Debates should involve opposing sides given full opportunity to air views. At the same time, challenge those of others. 
New York Times editors changed the rules. Views contradicting state policy are prohibited, marginalized, constrained, or given short shrift. 
Doing so compromises truth and full disclosure. Public thinking and perceptions are manipulated and controlled.
News and views are filtered. Acceptable residue is reported. Dissent is marginalized. 
Government and corporate interests alone matter. Groupthink is sought. Consent and conformity are manufactured. It's prioritized despite contrary facts proving otherwise.
Over two-thirds of world nations support Palestinian statehood. Perhaps one day they all will except America, Israel and small Pacific Islands Washington controls.
Avital Leibovich is a former IDF spokeswoman. She heads the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Israel. She opposes Palestinian statehood, saying:
"Recent statements by Sweden's new prime minister and a nonbinding British resolution recognizing a Palestinian state could damage peace prospects by creating false expectations among Palestinians."
"Such recognition is premature. A two-state solution can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."
Fact: Peace process hypocrisy is the greatest hoax in modern times.
Fact: Decades of talks were dead on arrival.
Fact: Israel deplores peace.
Fact: It prioritizes violence and instability.
Fact: It categorically rejects Palestinian statehood.
Fact: It doesn't negotiate. It demands.
Fact: It wants its interests alone served.
Fact: It wants Palestinians denied all rights.
Fact: It goes all-out against them.
Fact: It gives them three choices: submit, leave or die.
Don't expect Leibovich to explain. She one-sidedly represents Israeli interests. 
They reflect over-the-top racism. Permanent militarized occupation harshness. Unlimited settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land.
Premeditated wars of aggression at Israel's discretion. Targeted assassinations. Mass arrests and imprisonment. Torture as official policy.
Leibovich supports what demands condemnation. Honor isn't her long suit. Or defending right over wrong responsibly.
Efraim Halevy formerly headed Mossad. He shamelessly said recognizing Palestinian statehood "will cause serious and maybe irreparable damage to the Palestinian dream (for) independence."
"On the ground it will not have any practical effect. Israel will not pull back its forces from their present positions, and for all practical purposes Israel will continue to control the situation."
Fact: Numerous other countries became independent despite powerful forces opposing them.
Fact: World public opinion overwhelmingly supports Palestinian statehood.
Fact: So do most world nations.
Fact: Israel makes more enemies than friends.
Fact: It's increasingly seen as a pariah state.
Fact: What can't go on forever, won't.
Fact: Expect Israel's occupation to end one day.
Fact: Momentum favors Palestinian liberation.
Fact: It's coming eventually no matter what Israel wants.
Caroline Glick is senior Jerusalem Post contributing editor. It's a right-wing Israeli broadsheet.
"There should be no Palestinian state," she says. "Recognizing 'Palestine does not advance peace, it advances Israel's ruin. Europeans should work to strengthen and expand Israel."
She lied calling Gaza "a terror state run by (Hamas) jihadists…" She buried polar opposite hard truths.
Times editors published her rubbish. They print plenty of the own. One-sidedly favoring Israel. It's longstanding Times policy.
They call Israeli aggression self-defense. Legitimate Palestinian self-self defense is called "terrorism."
Nathan Thrall is International Crisis Group (ICG) senior Middle East/North Africa Program analyst.
ICG was founded in 1995 by former World Bank vice president Mark Malloch Brown and former US diplomat Morton Abramowitz. It supports special interests. It spurns popular ones.
According to Thrall, debating Palestinian statehood is "overwrought." 
He falsely claims "(b)oth parties to the conflict, including Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have already agreed that conflict-ending negotiations are to result in the creation of a Palestinian state."
Netanyahu and likeminded hardliners categorically reject Palestinian statehood. Not now. Not ever.
They want Palestine entirely Judaized. Except for isolated worthless scrubland pockets.
Richard Ottoway is a UK conservative MP. He calls himself "a longtime friend of Israel."
He ludicrously said it's "been fighting for its existence since its birth."
It waged lawless aggression leading up to an throughout its existence.
"I have stood by Israel through thick and thin," said Ottoway. At the same time, he opposes its continued land grabs.
Especially 990 acres "a few days after" Operation Protective Edge (OPE) ended. It "outraged" him, he said.
At the same time, he irresponsibly said "Hamas has fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately toward Israel…"
He omitted explaining never preemptively. Only in self-defense. After multiple Israeli provocations. Or premeditated war like OPE.
He lied claiming Hamas "used its own people as human shields." Israel alone uses Palestinians as this way repeatedly. Lawlessly. Clear evidence proves it.
Ottoway abstained from Parliament's symbolic vote. He "hope(s) one day the Israelis and the Palestinians will reach an agreement that will bring lasting peace." Without doing anything to support it.
Nadia Nijab heads the Al-Shaaka think tank: the Palestinian Policy Network. She's an Institute for Palestine Studies senior fellow.
Today's "problem lies in how Palestinian rights are defined and who is doing the defining," she says.
PLO officials are "unrepresentative and indeed more responsive to the United States and other major powers than to Palestinians," she added.
Nihab sees "no political outcome in the foreseeable future." She believes "European recognition of a Palestinian state could well pressure Israel to behave in accordance with international law." 
How so she didn't explain. Especially when Washington provides Israel unconditional support. It holds veto power over Security Council resolutions supporting Palestinian rights.
Omar Barghouti co-founded the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
He believes Britain's parliamentary vote may signal "where the wind is blowing…"
"If it is the first step toward recognizing the irrefutable right of the Palestinian people to self determination, then it would be a positive contribution to establishing a just and sustainable peace in accordance with international law," he said.
"If it is simply meant to resuscitate a comatose two-state solution dictated by Israel, it would simply perpetuate an unjust order."
Palestinian self-determination includes their "inalienable right…to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted."
Israel "fiercely reject(s) full equality, in law and policies, for its Palestinian citizens because that would undermine, de facto and de jure, its continuation as an exclusionary Jewish state."
"Palestinians expect world governments, especially the British, with its direct responsibility in creating the question of Palestine, to recognize, first and foremost, our right to have equal rights to all other nations and all other human beings."
Instead of featuring Barghouti and likeminded Palestinian justice supporters, Times editors overwhelmed him with opposition views. 
Ones expressing longstanding Times policy. Ones against justice long denied.
Wall Street Journal editors had their say. They headlined "The Parliament of Palestine. "British MPs show(ed) the extent of their anti-Israeli leanings," they said.
"(W)here (do) these MPs get their news," they asked?
"Hamas began the war with indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, and the terror group continued it by routinely violating ceasefires agreed by Israel."
Fact: It bears repeating. Israel waged premeditated lawless aggression.
Fact: Hamas responded in self-defense.
Fact: Israel repeatedly violated ceasefire terms.
Fact: Hamas responded defensively.
"It’s been a long time since Britain's voice counted in the Middle East, which may explain the recourse to meaningless gestures," said Journal editors. "Too bad even those gestures are wrong," they claimed.
It's longer than modern memory since Journal editors acted responsibly. They oppose what warrants support. They endorse what demands condemnation. 
Don't expect them to explain. Or Times editors for publishing views unfit to print.
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. 

Attorney Stanley L. Cohen: Guilty of Doing His Job Honorably

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 21:52
Attorney Stanley L. Cohen: Guilty of Doing His Job Honorably
by Stephen Lendman
He's a criminal defense attorney/political activist par excellence. Wrongfully indicted on bogus charges.
Guilty of defending wrong clients. Ones prosecutors wanted convicted. More on this below.
America's criminal justice system is corrupted. Broken. Systematically unfair. Infested with political hacks. 
Solely supporting wealth, power and privilege. Prosecutors take full advantage.
Innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is official policy. The American Bar Association's (ABA) Model Code of Judicial Conduct doesn't matter. Its preamble calls for:
"An independent, fair and impartial judiciary." It's "indispensable to our system of justice." It's composed of "men and women of integrity.
"Judges…at all times (must ensure) the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence."
"Standards (of) ethical conduct (include) overarching principles of judicial ethics (and fairness), consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances."
Truth, impartiality and judicial fairness must be maintained. So mut upholding fundamental rule of law principles, norms and standards.
ABA's Model Rules say lawyers are obligated to:
"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."
America's Fifth Amendment says government may not deprive defendants of "life, liberty, or property" without "due process of law."
America's Sixth Amendment guarantees public trials "without unnecessary delay(s)." By impartial jurors. 
Represented by competent counsel. Even if it's unaffordable. The right to know your accusers. Charges and evidence against you.
Attorneys should be restriction-free to choose clients. Everyone deserves a proper defense.
Including unpopular clients. The poor, underprivileged, disadvantaged, unwanted or despised. Innocent or guilty.
It's what practicing law ethically, morally and responsibly is all about. Doing it because it matters. Assuring defendants are afforded due process and judicial fairness.
On December 18, 2013, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York headlined "Manhattan-Based Attorney Charged in Tax Fraud Scheme With Failing to Report Over $3 million in Fee Income."
New York State tax authorities filed similar charges.
Cohen is falsely charged with "(d)irecting Clients to Pay Legal Fees in Cash, Some of Which Was Stashed in a Safe Deposit Box, and By Wiring Money to Pay His Personal Credit Card Bills."
According to Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara: 
"As alleged, Stanley Cohen instructed his clients to pay him in cash, and then stockpiled the money he received in legal fees in order to avoid paying his fair share in taxes." 
"Today’s charges underscore our commitment to pursuing and prosecuting individuals who seek to circumvent this nation’s tax laws."
RS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Weirauch added: 
"IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to ensuring that everyone pays their fair share." 
"We will thoroughly investigate those who are willfully violating the income tax laws, and we will work with our partners at the Department of Justice to see that they are prosecuted."
Cohen faced five counts of failing to file US personal income tax returns. Each carries a maximum one year sentence. One wire fraud count a maximum 20 years in prison.
Cohen says his case isn't about income tax evasion. DOJ targeted him over 10 years ago. For defending clients they wanted convicted.
Ones they wanted denied due process. "(M)ost prominently Hamas," Cohen said. They tried charging him with material support for terrorism.
He was counsel for "a number of so-called terrorist groups." He represented Hamas since 1995. He called doing it a "great honor and privilege."
When DOJ terrorist-related "witch hunt" persecution against him failed, "in came the IRS," he said. "(F)or 7 years or so (he) battled…allegations at great cost…"
Doing so took "a tremendous amount of effort by my team of lawyers, my family, friends, supporters and clients."
It cost him over $600,000. Much remains still owed. Prosecution "scar(ed) off clients." It interfered with "critical work with various human rights groups and activists overseas."
It made essential travel abroad "impractical." His ordeal made work he loves best, "namely resistance and support(ing) (it), ineffective for the foreseeable future."
After discussions with family, friends, supporters, colleagues and clients, he decided to end witch hunt harassment.
On April 14, he pled guilty to impeding the IRS. At the time, he said if he "represent(ed) the Boy Scouts of America, (he) wouldn't have been in this court today."
Months earlier, he said charges aimed "to silence and punish" him."
He expects about 18 months in prison. Likely out in one year. He'll lose his law license. He can reapply for reinstatement when freed.
At the time, he said his plea won't "change (his) commitment to truth, justice and resistance." 
"Nor should it be seen as acquiescence to the naive and liberal notion that this government and others and their respective criminal justice systems work or are just." 
"The fight will go on but in different ways. I would expect to spend much of my time in prison working with and assisting the unjustly accused and those prosecuted because of color, class or politics."
Perhaps write a book he intends. Until sentencing, he continues representing clients. He speaks publicly for justice.
He "continue(s) to inspire others to fight on," he explains. "We all know that there is a cost when you say no, when you refuse to go silently into the night, when you reject he notion of complicity." 
"But the work must go on. There is no choice. Mourn not for me but for the millions of people murdered worldwide because of their race, religion, politics or activism." 
"Mourn not for me but for the millions of stateless people reduced to 'life' in refugee camps, or who live under Apartheid and Occupation and who are subjected daily to ethnic cleansing, collective punishment and indefinite detention." 
"Mourn not for me but for the whistle blowers, journalists and dissidents murdered, jailed and exiled because of a belief, a simple vision, a commitment to change."
"To those who love or support me, my decision will not matter. To those who hate me, enjoy your smug smile and distorted sentiment, it will not however change the words I have spoken and will speak in the future and the fights I have embraced or those yet to come." 
"To those who do not know me or care, life goes on. Most important to my friends who in some small way have been inspired by my words and work, this is not a loss but a predictable result of a lifetime of resistance." 
"There is a price to pay when you say no, choose wisely and fight the fight." At the time, he said he he'd say more at sentencing. It's scheduled in November.
Cohen is honorable by any standard. A model citizen. A role model for others. 
A William Kunstler protege. Practicing law for over 30 years. Responsibly. Handling more terrorist-related cases in America than any other attorney.
Representing over a thousand activists and community members. Often on bogus charges they faced.
Including anti-war protesters. Occupy Wall Street activists. Native American ones. Other political ones. Muslim clerics. Weather Underground members. America's most disadvantaged. Society's most unwanted.
FBI agents raided his home and law office. Extrajudicially. Repressively. Confiscating his electronic equipment.
He's banned from entering Israel. For defending clients opposing its lawlessness. Ruthlessness. High crimes against peace.
His human/civil rights activism is notable. Outstanding. Courageous. Deserving high praise. He's involved with the International Coalition for Freedom and Rights (ICFR).
It's an "international legal and human rights organisation which supports justice and freedom for all." Its objectives include:
  • bringing to trial human rights abusers;

  • forming a network of human rights activists and lawyers; and

  • supporting just causes, as well as mobilizing public opinion against human rights abuses.

It cooperates with international human rights organizations and civil society institutions. It's involved in "capacity building of human rights activists."
It institutes legal action against human rights abusers locally and internationally. It supports efforts involved in bringing human rights abusers to trial.
It documents relevant cases. Prepares human rights reports and periodic bulletins. Cooperates with international organizations involved with human rights and international law.
Supports "all efforts and activities aimed at raising awareness of human rights abuses and international laws related thereto."
"Raise(s) the level of awareness of human rights activists."
Cohen is a former VISTA volunteer. He worked on Winnegago, Omaha and Santee Sioux reservations. He lived there.
He helped establish legal services. He was a New York City community organizer. He ran a Westchester, NY drug program. Mostly serving homeless teens.
Before attending law school, he was an administrator for a federally-funded anti-poverty program.
He was a Legal Aid Society of the City of New York in the South Bronx criminal defense attorney. 
At the time, he represented thousands of indigent clients. Ones with no chance for justice without an advocate like him.
He "grew up in a home where (his) family supported issues and they impacted (him) to make a difference in the world," he said.
His social work "led (him) into law because (he) saw it as another step as an activist on a national and international level," he added.
He called working for New York's Legal Aid Society "the perfect bridge from social work to working with criminal defense attorneys in the South Bronx."
"It provided hands on practice in litigation that stayed with (him) for the rest of (his) career." He doesn't consider practicing law a job.
It's a calling. A mission for justice often denied. He calls himself "a great trial attorney who understands domestic and international cases."
At the same time, he "bite(s) off more than (he) can chew. (He) can't say no to people" needing help.
His passion is political defense work. He believes fundamental freedoms are vital to defend.
It bears repeating. He's honorable by any standard. He deserves high praise, not prosecution.
He calls the Middle East's "biggest tripwire...the inability of the West to communicate with, understand and deal realistically with liberation movements, and especially Palestinian" ones.
"There will be no peace in the Middle East (without) justice for the Palestinian people," he explains.
Occupied people have a right to resist, he believes. They're obligated to do so. Liberating struggles demand it. 
International law supports it. Resisting tyranny is a universal right. America's Declaration of Independence affirms it.
Media coverage has been largely one-sided. Last March, the Jewish Daily Forward headlined "How Stanley Cohen Went From Orthodox to Defending bin Laden's Son-In-Law," saying:
"Leaflets handed out near the Manhattan courthouse" called him a "traitor." An "enemy of Jews, Israel and America."
"Similar fliers were distributed around his Lower East Side loft." He headed Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's (bin Laden's son-in-law) defense team.
He faced conspiracy charges to kill Americans. Provide material support for terrorists. He never had a chance. He was guilty by accusation.
Convicted as expected. Despite no credible evidence proving guilt. Sentenced to life in prison. 
Innocence is no defense. Not when prosecutors want convictions. Justice doesn't matter. Not in America. It's routinely denied.
Cohen said Abu Ghaith was only guilty of anti-American speeches. No evidence whatever proved charges against him. It didn't exist.
It didn't have to. It bears repeating. Guilt by accusation is commonplace. Thousands like Abu Gaith languish in America's gulag.
It's the world's largest. One of the most repressive. Brutal. Unforgiving. Punishing political activists prosecutors want silenced. Others government wants removed from society.
Cohen is targeted the same way. Doing the right thing in America comes with a price. Risking incarceration. So-called "land of the free" mumbo jumbo is grossly unfair.
It's always been this way. More than ever now. Police states operate this way. America is Exhibit A.
Before Cohen's troubles surfaced, Weekly Standard contributor Larry Miller discussed the Intifada and its defenders. He named Cohen, saying:
He's "the attorney for Hamas…A man who, if he listened very carefully would no doubt hear voices in the next room planning to blow the eyes out of more of his nieces and nephews."
David Horowitz is a notorious Islamophobe. He heads Freedom Center. It's notoriously racist. Anti-Islamist. According to Horowitz:
"Muslim countries have no tolerance for others. If you're not Muslim, then they consider you to be a pig or a dog or a monkey. These backward Muslims really are still living in the stone age."
He equates Islam with terrorism. Promoting these views publicly. He heads Front Page Magazine (FPM). Featuring Islamophobic racist hate-mongering.
Its Jihad Watch page is over-the top. It's Wall of Truth is similar. His David's Blog is hate-filled.
Last December, FPM headlined "Terrorist Lawyer Stanley Cohen Busted for Millions in Tax Evasion," saying:
"Some terrorist lawyers pretend that they take cases on principle. Stanley Cohen is blatant about being a terrorist supporter."
"Stanley, like his terrorist pals, shouldn’t have relied on Allah too much while committing crimes. Allah may be the patron saint of terrorists and criminal...but crime doesn’t pay."
"(W)hile Stanley Cohen goes through his theatrics, real people die. Maybe the government will finally be able to put him away."
Cohen supports equity and justice responsibly. They're too important to lose. They require defending. No matter the cost.
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. 

What Are You Doing For Open Access Week?

eff.org - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 17:36

This Monday, October 20 marks the first day of Open Access Week, an international event that celebrates the wide-ranging benefits of enabling open access to information and research–as well as the dangerous costs of keeping knowledge locked behind publisher paywalls. This year's theme is Generation Open.

There are tons of events happening around the world for Open Access Week. We wanted to share a handful of ones that we've heard about, most of which are screenings of the fantastic film, The Internet's Own Boy, a documentary about the late Internet activist and pioneer Aaron Swartz.

We're delighted that many of these screenings are inaugural events for new local digital rights initiatives! Here are a few:

If these events are near you, try to attend and meet others in your area who are also interested in fighting for our rights online. If you're in the Bay Area, EFF activist April Glaser will be a guest speaker at the Berkeley event, and if you've got an event happening that's not on this list, email april@eff.org to let us know and share your event photos.

At EFF, we'll be blogging about Open Access everyday next week, so stay tuned to learn more about developments in the growing movement to ensure that knowledge should never be trapped behind a paywall.

If you haven't already, please sign and share the petition to support Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student who currently faces up to eight years in prison for doing something thousands of researchers do every day: posting research results online for those who would not otherwise have a way to access them. Diego's case is an important example of the dangers of closing access to knowledge. We will continue to follow his case closely and report back with new developments.

The Internet should be a place where we can share ideas and get educated, unimpeded by unfair paywalls. We are thrilled to join forces with dozens of organizations across the world for this year’s Open Access Week to spread message loud and clear: academic research should be free, available, and open for everyone’s benefit.

Join us for Open Access Week. This is going to be big.

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EFF Response to FBI Director Comey's Speech on Encryption

eff.org - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 05:33

FBI Director James Comey gave a speech yesterday reiterating the FBI's nearly twenty-year-old talking points about why it wants to reduce the security in your devices, rather than help you increase it. Here's EFF's response:

The FBI should not be in the business of trying to convince companies to offer less security to their customers. It should be doing just the opposite. But that's what Comey is proposing—undoing a clear legal protection we fought hard for in the 1990s.1 The law specifically ensures that a company is not required to essentially become an agent of the FBI rather than serving your security and privacy interests. Congress rightly decided that companies (and free and open source projects and anyone else building our tools) should be allowed to provide us with the tools to lock our digital information up just as strongly as we can lock up our physical goods. That's what Comey wants to undo.

It's telling that his remarks echo so closely the arguments of that era. Compare them, for example, with this comment from former FBI Director Louis Freeh in May of 1995, now nearly twenty years ago:

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

Now just as then, the FBI is trying to convince the world that some fantasy version of security is possible—where "good guys" can have a back door or extra key to your home but bad guys could never use it. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of security can tell you that's just not true. So the "debate" Comey calls for is phony, and we suspect he knows it. Instead, Comey wants everybody to have weak security, so that when the FBI decides somebody is a "bad guy," it has no problem collecting personal data.

That's bad science, it's bad law, it's bad for companies serving a global marketplace that may not think the FBI is always a "good guy," and it's bad for every person who wants to be sure that their data is as protected as possible—whether from ordinary criminals hacking into their email provider, rogue governments tracking them for politically organizing, or competing companies looking for their trade secrets. 

Perhaps Comey's speech is saber rattling. Maybe it's an attempt to persuade the American people that we've undertaken significant reforms in light of the Snowden revelations—the U.S. government has not—and that it's time for the "pendulum" to swing back. Or maybe by putting this issue in play, the FBI may hope to draw our eyes away from, say, its attempt to water down the National Security Letter reform that Congress is considering. It's difficult to tell.

But if the FBI gets its way and convinces Congress to change the law, or even if it convinces companies like Apple that make our tools and hold our data to weaken the security they offer to us, we'll all end up less secure and enjoying less privacy. Or as the Fourth Amendment puts it: we'll be be less "secure in our papers and effects."

For more on EFF's coverage of the "new" Crypto Wars, read this article focusing on the security issues we wrote last week in Vice. And going back even earlier, a broader update to a piece we wrote in 2010, which itself was was based on our fights in the 90s. If the FBI wants to try to resurrect this old debate, EFF will be in strong opposition, just as we were 20 years ago. That's because—just like 20 years ago—the Internet needs more, not less, strong encryption.

  • 1. Here's the relevant part of CALEA that Comey wants to effectively undo: "47 USC 1002(b)(3): A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication." Also from the CALEA legislative history: "Finally, telecommunications carriers have no responsibility to decrypt encrypted communications that are the subject of court-ordered wiretaps, unless the carrier provided the encryption and can decrypt it. This obligation is consistent with the obligation to furnish all necessary assistance under 18 U.S.C. Section 2518(4). Nothing in this paragraph would prohibit a carrier from deploying an encryption service for which it does not retain the ability to decrypt communications for law enforcement access ... Nothing in the bill is intended to limit or otherwise prevent the use of any type of encryption within the United States. Nor does the Committee intend this bill to be in any way a precursor to any kind of ban or limitation on encryption technology. To the contrary, section 2602 protects the right to use encryption." H/T Chris Soghoian: http://paranoia.dubfire.net/2010/09/calea-and-encryption.html
Related Issues: PrivacyCALEAEncrypting the WebLaw Enforcement AccessNational Security LettersSecurityRelated Cases: Bernstein v. US Department of Justice
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New ODNI Report Doesn’t Address Mass Surveillance, Provides "Flexibility" to Skirt Privacy Commitments

eff.org - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 05:21

Earlier today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released an optimistically titled report Safeguarding the Personal Information of all People. This is basically a status update from ODNI on how they are doing in implementing Presidential Policy Directive 28, which among other things was supposed to better recognize the privacy rights of people worldwide.

Today’s report from the ODNI is disappointing, though not surprising. This is in part because PPD 28 was pretty limited in the first place. When Obama first announced his surveillance reforms and PPD 28, we rated him on 12 criteria for effective surveillance reform—and found his proposal only met only 3.5 of those criteria. We saw an example of the limitations of PPD 28 in its 5th footnote, which begins, "The limitations contained in this section do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection." That seems to say that they can seize a haystack so long as they intend to look for needles.  

Here are a few choice sections from our initial read of today's report:

To that end, PPD-28 states that personal information of non-U.S. persons shall be retained and disseminated only if the retention and dissemination "of comparable information concerning U.S. persons would be permitted under section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333."

We are disheartened to see ODNI pinning its privacy protections to Executive Order 12333. EO 12333 is a poorly-understood Reagan-era authority; one former State Department chief said:

 …Section 215 permits the bulk collection only of U.S. telephone metadata — lists of incoming and outgoing phone numbers — but not audio of the calls.

Executive Order 12333 contains no such protections for U.S. persons if the collection occurs outside U.S. borders. Issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, 12333 is not a statute and has never been subject to meaningful oversight from Congress or any court. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that the committee has not been able to “sufficiently” oversee activities conducted under 12333.

The ODNI report itself highlights (Section D) one massive flaw in EO 12333, noting that "if read literally," it places no limits whatsoever on retention or dissemination of any information about any foreign person. One wonders if any element of the intelligence community has ever acted in accordance with this reading. 

In short, Executive Order 12333 is a weak privacy standard—at least what we know of it, because its implementation has had little oversight from the public or even Congress. This is not the standard we want to adopt for protecting the rights of individuals worldwide who have not been suspected of a crime.

What might be a better standard? EFF along with intentional human rights groups and scholars worldwide developed 13 principles for protection human rights when engaging in communications surveillance. That’s a much better starting point for crafting protections for privacy of people worldwide. 

Another disappointment (though again not a surprise) in today’s report was the failure to address or rein in mass collection of digital data:

Section 2 of PPD-28 acknowledges the importance of collecting SIGINT in bulk to help identify new and emerging threats or other vital national security information. At the same time, the United States recognizes that collecting information in bulk may not result in the collection of information about persons whose activities are not of interest to the Intelligence Community. PPD-228 therefore places limitations on the use of SIGINT collected in bulk.....PPD-28 also states that in no event may SIGINT be used for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent….

Basically, ODNI is reaffirming that it will continue to vacuum up data from people not suspected of a crime and is merely outlining methods of limiting the use and dissemination of that data.

It’s particularly disheartening to see ODNI talking about how data collected in bulk will not be used for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent. This is a cognitive dissonance: mass surveillance by its nature creates a chilling effect on free speech. More than 500 authors, including 5 Nobel laureates, have written that:

A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights much apply in virtual as in real space. Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.            

The ODNI deludes itself into believing that you can have surveillance without suppressing or burdening dissent. In fact, it is the very nature of mass surveillance to chill criticism and dissent. That is the very basis for our lawsuit against the NSA phone record collection program.

Finally, all of the commitments to civil liberties and privacy in ODNI’s report come with a rather alarmingly large loophole:

N. Intelligence Community Elements Must Have the Flexibility to Deviate from their PPD-28 Implementing Procedures After Receiving Senior Level Approval.

It is important that elements have the ability to deviate from their procedures when national security requires doing so, but only with approval at a senior level within the Intelligence Community element and notice to the DNI and Attorney General. 

Regardless of what procedures are put into place to safeguard individual privacy, the intelligence community gives itself a loophole for “national security” concerns. National security, unfortunately, remains undefined in the document.

We’re still reviewing the report and may have more thoughts in the coming days, but these are our initial impressions. 

Read the entire report. Take action against mass surveillance.

Related Issues: PrivacyNSA SpyingRelated Cases: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Israel's Rogue Agenda

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 04:57
Israel's Rogue Agenda
by Stephen Lendman
Israel is a regional replica of rogue state America. Both countries operate lawlessly. Ruthlessly. 
They partner in crime. They wage it on defenseless adversaries. For unchallenged control. 
For resources they want pillaged. People they want exploited. No matter the human cost involved. 
Imperial objectives alone matter. So does making the world safe for monied interests. Bankers. War profiteers. Other corporate crooks. Government extremists complicit with them.
Benefitting from mass slaughter and destruction. High crimes against peace. Killing Palestinian children for target practice.
On October 16, Israeli soldiers murdered 13-year old Bahaa Samir Badir in cold blood. He was shot in the chest at close range.
He died at Ramallah's Palestine Medical Complex. Aside from Operation Protective Edge, he's the 42nd Palestinian Israel murdered this year.
It injured over 4,300 West Bank Palestinians since January. State terror is official policy. Ruthlessness defines it. 
Palestinian lives don't matter. Israel extinguishes them lawlessly. 
In 2005, an EU/Israeli Action Plan aimed to encourage cooperation on non-proliferation of WMDs. Fight terrorism. 
Prevent regional and other conflicts. Resolve ongoing ones. Work cooperatively "to promote the shared values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law."
In 2013, EU nations urged Israel "ensure respect for international law and human rights in the occupied territories, including intensifying efforts to curb settler violence and minimising the use of administrative detention without trial."
Israeli policy is polar opposite. Operation Protective Edge is Exhibit A. So are multiple examples of daily violence. Operation Brothers Keeper reflects it.
Jeff Halper calls both campaigns "the imposition of a regime of warehousing, of outright imprisonment of an entire population."
"(B)lind and atavistic destruction and hatred unleashed on the Palestinian people."
Interminable state-sponsored violence. A "new political reality." A clear unilateral/final message, saying:
"This country has been Judaized. It is now the Land of Israel in the process of being incorporated into the state of Israel," Halper explained.
Arabs have no rights. Not in exclusive Jewish territory. "And once and for all we must disabuse you of the notion that we are actually negotiating with you," he added.
"We never have and never will." We're all take and no give. "You are nothing but inmates in prison cells."
We'll continue collectively punishing you. International humanitarian and human rights laws be damned.
EU/Israeli Action Plan principles aren't worth the paper they're written on. Israel does what it damn pleases.
Palestinians got three option: submit, leave or die.
Murdering children in cold blood reflects what's ongoing. Because world powers able to intervene responsibly do nothing to prevent Israeli lawlessness.
Operation Brothers keeper includes extreme persecution. Including mass arrests and imprisonments, many without charges, multiple daily community incursions, targeted assassinations, torture, and cold-blooded murder.
On October 16, the Palestine News Network (PNN) headlined "Ya’alon Confirms Israeli Government’s Political Program: Pro-colonization, against two-state solution."
He's Israel's Deputy Prime Minister/Defense Minister. He bears direct responsibility for genocidal Palestinian slaughter.
Israel Hayom (Israel Today) is an Israeli Hebrew-language broadsheet. Its circulation is Israel's largest. It interviewed Ya'alon. Extracts of his answers follow:
On Palestinian statehood:
"We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a Palestinian state." 
"As far as I am concerned let them call it the Palestinian Empire. I don't care." 
"It is an autonomy if it is ultimately a demilitarized territory. That is not a status quo, it is the establishment of a modus vivendi that is tolerable and serves our interests."
On a two-state solution:
"Call it whatever you want. The political separation has already happened, and is a good thing." 
"We are not controlling the lives of residents of Gaza or Judea and Samaria." Separation is important, Ya'alon believes. 
"I would encourage and reinforce governability, the economy and the residents' ability to live in dignity and economic comfort." 
"But to derive something so black and white from that? State or no state? Let's put the terminology aside."
On Abbas: "He never said that he has given up on demanding refugee rights." 
"So where can we go with him? He is a partner for discussion; a partner for managing the conflict." 
"I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests."
On settlement construction: "There is no construction freeze."
Ya'alon reflects official Israeli policy. In its most extremist government ever. Its most lawless. Ruthless. Fascist. Viciously racist.
According to PNN, Israel "aims to consolidate the occupation that continues to control the lives of the Palestinian people."
Extremists in charge are all take and no give. They deplore Palestinian self-determination. 
They'll keep stealing their land and resources. Netanyahu tries justifying the unjustifiable.
In New York, he told UN Member States:
"The people of Israel are not occupiers in the Land of Israel. History, archeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years."
He never once mentioned a two-state solution or one nation equitably for all its people.
He and likeminded extremists want continued militarized occupation harshness. Violence, not peaceful coexistence.
Confrontation, not diplomacy. Militarism, intimidation and naked aggression. Unchallenged regional control.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF to Patent Office: There’s Nothing Wrong With Throwing Out Bad Patents

eff.org - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 04:55

Earlier this year, Randall Rader, then Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, called a group of administrative patent judges “death squads.” What had these judges done to deserve such savage criticism? They had done exactly what Congress intended: found some bad patents invalid. This week EFF filed comments with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) supporting the work of its administrative trial judges and urging the agency to make review of issued patents as affordable and efficient as possible.

When Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, we predicted that the law would not be enough to stop the rampant abuse of patent trolls. We were right. But the AIA did include some good provisions allowing the challenge of bad patents before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at the PTO. These administrative proceedings (known as covered business method review, inter partes review, and post grant review) are important because fighting a patent in court is ruinously expensive. For smaller companies, an administrative proceeding may be the only way it can afford to contest a patent. Indeed, with help from our supporters, EFF filed an inter partes review to challenge Personal Audio’s podcasting patent.

In our comments to the PTO, we make a number of suggestions about how to improve trials before the PTAB. For example, we urge the PTO to lower application fees for small businesses. Currently, fees for an instituted inter partes review are at least $23,000. This is far too high for many of the small businesses that have been targeted by patent trolls. We also argue that the PTAB should continue to construe patents broadly when comparing them to the prior art. The public notice function of patents is best served by applying the broadest reasonable construction. If a patent owner is concerned that his or her patent will be found invalid under a broad construction, he or she can add narrowing language to the claims. This protects the interests of both the patentee and the public by promoting clearer claim language.

We also respond to the hyperbolic criticism of the PTAB from Rader and others. The PTAB should not be vilified for doing its job. Congress intended for it be a place where companies could efficiently remove bad patents from the system. Since companies have a choice about whether to spend money on a challenge, it is no surprise that they have tended to challenge the worst patents. This explains why the PTAB has found so many patents invalid. Blaming the PTAB for invalidating patents that should be invalidated is like blaming critical care for having the sickest patients in a hospital.

On the whole, the PTO has done a reasonable job managing the new trial procedures created by the AIA. These procedures don’t solve all problems with the patent system, but they at least provide a cheaper alternative to litigation. We hope the PTO will continue to make administrative review effective and do even more to make it accessible.

Files:  eff_comments_on_trial_proceedings_under_the_aia.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalancePatentsInnovation
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Cyber-Espionage and Trade Agreements: An Ill-Fitting and Dangerous Combination

eff.org - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 04:45

Yesterday's leak of a May 2014 draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement revealed the addition of new text criminalizing the misuse of trade secrets through "computer systems", as mentioned in our previous post about the leak. This is a significant revelation, because we also know that trade secrets are planned for inclusion in the EU-US free trade agreement, TTIP (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The revelation of the proposed text in the TPP provides a good indication that the same kind of language will likely also appear in TTIP. Frighteningly, this text contains no protections to safeguard the public interest.

Today we delve into this provision and its background in more depth.

Why Trade Secrets, and Why Now?

The US Trade Representative's sudden interest in trade secret protection arises largely from reports of widespread cyber-espionage against US companies emanating from China. This has also led to domestic proposals such as this year's Defend Trade Secrets Act, introduced in the Senate in April, and its companion House bill, the Trade Secrets Protection Act, which would create a new federal private right of action for trade secret theft.

In August this year, 31 law professors wrote a joint letter opposing these bills on a number of grounds, including that they are unbalanced, risking that they could be used for anti-competitive purposes, and that they have potential ancillary negative impacts on access to information. The professors write:

Labeling information as a trade secret has become a common way to prevent public and even regulatory access to important information ranging from the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids to the code inside of voting machines, all of which have compelling (but not uncontroversial) reasons for public access in a democracy.

Even if these new US bills pass, their enforceability against foreigners will be, in practical terms, rather limited. The introduction of new language on trade secrets into both TTP and TTIP—which may become the United States' two largest trade agreements—is therefore a parallel tactic to address cyber-espionage on the global stage.

(Observant readers might have spotted an apparent flaw in this plan, given that China will not be a party to either of these agreements. But the reasoning is that if enough other countries agree on new global standards, diplomatic pressure can be applied on China to also comply. As the Europeans have put it, “The EU and the US also have a common interest in pursuing protection of trade secrets against misappropriation in third countries”.)

Paragraph 1—Trade Secrets

The language in the TPP, however, doesn't much resemble either of the current Congressional bills. This is because if the TPP is agreed, it will create an obligation on the US to ensure that it accords with domestic law, and the US Trade Representative is unable to guarantee that the bills currently in Congress will pass. Instead, the first paragraph is drawn from TRIPS, the multilateral treaty that sets a global minimum standard for so-called intellectual property protection, and the second and third paragraphs are brand new, but share lineage with both the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

This is where things get complicated—because the legal theories, methods and objectives of those two sources are actually quite different.

So beginning with paragraph 1: it very closely mirrors the language that TRIPS members (including all the TPP negotiating countries) have already agreed. It requires them to offer the means to prevent trade secrets from being disclosed to, acquired by, or used by others without consent in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices. This generally, as in the US, involves a private cause of action to be litigated in a civil court.

Paragraphs 2 and 3—Computer Espionage

Next, let's turn to paragraphs 2 and 3, which are worth setting out in full:

  1. Each Party shall provide for criminal [VN propose: or administrative] procedures and penalties for one or more of the following:
    1. the unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system;
    2. the unauthorized, willful misappropriation of a trade secret, including by means of a computer system; or
    3. the fraudulent {or unauthorized} disclosure of a trade secret, including by means of a computer system.
  2. A Party may, where appropriate, limit the availability of such criminal procedures or limit the level of penalties available in respect of the aforementioned activity to one or more of the following conditions:
    1. for purposes of commercial advantage or financial gain;
    2. related to a product or service in national or international commerce;
    3. intended to injure the owner of such trade secret;
    4. directed by or for the benefit of or in association with a foreign economic entity; or
    5. detrimental to a Party's economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security.

These provisions are quite different from the first, because they make trade secret misappropriation a criminal offence. As noted above, these provisions partly draw on the US Economic Espionage Act. But they go considerably further, in that the offense is not required to be limited to cases where the owner is harmed and where someone else benefits from the trade secret misappropriation, both of which are conditions of the offense under current US law.

They also add a new offense of unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system, regardless of whether the trade secret is copied or disclosed. This provision has more in common with the CFAA which criminalizes anyone who “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization…and thereby obtains…information from any protected computer”—one of the provisions under which Aaron Swartz was charged.

So in sum, these provisions go further than current US law, potentially criminalizing anyone who gains access to secret information of commercial value. There are no safeguards to protect investigative journalists, security researchers or whistleblowers, who may obtain access to information without criminal or commercial intent. The inevitable result will be to chill the speech of those who might otherwise have a valid public interest justification for releasing information that had been kept secret.

The TPP and TTIP are, supposedly, free trade agreements; they are not the Cybercrime Convention. If this text were accepted, it would be the first time that a trade agreement would be used to criminalize those who obtain access to secret information held online, regardless of their motivation and without any public interest defenses. Like the rest of the IP chapter—but if anything, even more so—this goes far beyond the appropriate scope for an agreement that is being negotiated behind closed doors and away from public oversight.

We don't know for sure that these paragraphs are included in the current TPP text, as the leaked text is several months old. It also contains the disclaimer, “Parties are still reflecting on the new formulation for paragraphs 2 and 3.” As such a spokesperson for the US Trade Representative has had the gall yesterday to “strongly caution anyone from drawing premature conclusions of any kind based on supposed leaked text from unsubstantiated, unnamed sources”, as if we had any more official source of information on which to draw.

All we can say is that we had all better hope that these provisions don't make it into the final agreement, because they are amongst the most atrocious, overreaching and human-rights infringing provisions in the entire text of the TPP.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Deconstructing John Kerry's Big Lies

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 01:50
Deconstructing John Kerry's Big Lies
by Stephen Lendman
Kerry disgraces the office he holds. He's an unindicted war criminal. He represents America's dark side. Its consummate evil.
Big Lies infest his rhetoric. He's been caught red-handed numerous times.
He disdains rule of law principles. He supports war. He deplores peace. He's indifferent to human suffering. 
He's a monument to wrong over right. He mocks legitimacy. He's a world-class thug. 
He's Washington's foreign policy front man. Its imperial lawlessness representative. Its evil agenda. Its war on humanity. Its contempt for democratic values.
"Has any country, anywhere on the face of the earth, at any period of history been so totally misruled as the United States," asked Paul Craig Roberts?
Has any been more lawless? Ruthless. Morally indefensible. Evil beyond equal. "(D)evoid of moral conscience," said Roberts. 
"There is no evil of which Washington is not incapable," he added. It exceeds the worst of history's tyrannies.
None match its ruthlessness. Perhaps none ever will. On October 14, Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris.
His comments followed, saying:
"So today, it is clear that France and America are really facing up to and shouldering responsibilities together on challenge after challenge: from the fight against ISIL, to the challenges of Libya, to work on Iran's nuclear program as partners in the P5+1, to the challenges of Syria, Ebola, and of course, Ukraine."
Fact: France irresponsibly partners with Washington's lawlessness.
Fact: Its imperial war on humanity.
Fact: Its serving monied interests at the expense of popular ones.
Fact: ISIL is a US creation.
Fact: They're US foot soldiers. Shock troops. Boots on the ground.
Fact: Enlisted, armed, funded, trained and directed by US special forces and CIA operatives.
Fact: Used against America's adversaries lawlessly.
Fact: For regime change.
Fact: To replace independent governments with pro-Western stooge ones.
Fact: US-led NATO's Libya war destroyed North Africa's most developed country.
Fact: Turned it into a dystopian wasteland.
Fact: A cauldron of violence.
Fact: Nightmarish for most Libyans.
Fact: Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
Fact: Entirely legitimate.
Fact: Claims otherwise are false.
Fact: Ebola's emergence may reflect Washington aim to develop a population destroying bioweapon.
Fact: Potentially a Big Pharma profit bonanza.
Fact: Genocide is a longstanding US tradition.
Fact: Predating the republic's creation.
Fact: Repeated throughout its history.
Fact: In 1974, Henry Kissinger secretly proposed his own scheme.
Fact: His National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200.
Fact: A global population reduction model to eliminate unwanted "useless eaters."
Fact: Hundreds of millions, he advocated.
Fact: NSSM 200 was never abandoned.
Fact: Perhaps Ebola's emergence is its modern day incarnation.
Fact: Maybe untold numbers of deaths will follow.
Kerry: "…(W)e're very mindful always of the fundamental mission that we are engaged in, which is to stand by a Europe that is whole and free and in peace."
"And together with our partners in the European Union, the United States and France are deeply committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Fact: US and rogue European states invent nonexistent threats.
Fact: None exist.
Fact: For sure, no Russian threat.
Fact: Western freedom and peace are convenient illusions.
Fact: Washington prioritizes violence, permanent wars, instability and unconscionable human misery.
Kerry: "I want to emphasize that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I came together here to discuss a broad array of issues and to try to find a way to recognize that where there are difference we try to manage those differences, but that we have major responsibilities together and that our countries have an ability to be able to cooperate and work together."
Fact: Irresponsible Russia bashing is official US policy.
Fact: Outrageous anti-Russian propaganda persists.
Fact: It exceeds the worst of Soviet era levels.
Fact: It's over-the-top. Maliciously out-of-control.
Fact: Welcome to Cold War 2.0.
Fact: Putin and Obama are geopolitical opposites.
Fact: World's apart.
Fact: Representing conflicting values.
Fact: Good v. pure evil.
Fact: Rule of law/sovereign independence inviolability v. smashing one country after another for unchallenged global dominance.
Fact: Revealing America's dark side.
Fact: Unmatched in world history.
Fact: Advancing its imperium recklessly. 
Facct: Risking global war in the process.
Fact: Potential humanity destroying armageddon.
Kerry: "We discussed Ukraine and the need for the full implementation of all of the 12 points of the September 5th Minsk Agreement." 
"And the discussions also centered around those things that we need to do to try to continue to make progress on Ukraine."
"And sovereignty has to be restored along the Ukrainian-Russian international border, and that border needs to be closed and held accountable."
Fact: Washington covertly sabotages peaceful conflict resolution efforts.
Fact: So-called "progress on Ukraine" is illusory.
Fact: It's a hotbed of radicalized extremism.
Fact: Fascists operate this way.
Fact: Washington provides support and encouragement.
Fact: Restoring "sovereignty along the Ukrainian-Russian international border" is code language for eliminating Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.
Fact: Preventing democracy at all costs.
Fact: Institutionalizing hardline fascist rule.
Kerry: "I want to congratulate Ukraine's Rada (parliament) on passing the passage of anti-corruption legislation and on the judicial reform package that they passed today." 
"These reforms actually speak very directly to the call of the Ukrainian people for real change and for an accountable government."
Fact: High-level public and private out-of-control Ukraine corruption is longstanding.
Fact: Legislation won't end it.
Fact: Nor did earlier efforts succeed.
Fact: In 2011, for example.
Fact: Political foes were targeted.
Fact: Expect nothing different this time.
Kerry: Ukraine "submitted a concrete proposal for the OSCE to border - to be able to manage and monitor the border." 
"This proposal includes the restoration of the Ukrainian border and customs posts under OSCE monitoring and a pullback of heavy weapons, as outlined in the Minsk agreements…"
Fact: OSCE officials represent Western interests.
Fact: Impartiality isn't their long suit.
Fact: Kiev wants control over Southeastern areas self-defense force freedom fighters fought and died for.
Fact: For democratic rights Kiev spurns.
Fact: For freedom from fascist rule.
Fact: For what no one should tolerate.
Kerry: "I emphasized to Foreign Minister Lavrov that the only legitimate elections in Ukraine are the Rada elections on October 26th and the December 7th elections of local leaders in the Donbas special status zone, and in our judgment, any efforts to hold independence referenda in Luhansk and Donetsk at this time would be a violation of the Minsk agreements and the results will not be recognized by Ukraine or by the international community."
Fact: Self-determination is a fundamental human right. 
Fact: It's inviolable. Universally recognized.
Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
"All peoples have the right of self-determination." 
"By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."
Kerry: "(I)t's no secret that the United States and Russia have had our differences over Ukraine." 
"But I want to emphasize what I said at the beginning of these comments." 
"We came together today in order to try to focus on those issues where we can find the capacity to be able to make a difference to other countries, to the world in general, and certainly to the relationship between Russia and the United States."
Fact: Washington wants regime change in Russia.
Fact: It wants unipolar/New World Order dominance.
Fact: It wants all rivals removed. 
Fact: It wants governments it controls replacing them.
Fact: It tolerates nothing less.
Kerry: "(W)e talked about many other issues." Including Middle East "challenges."
"Particularly…ISIL. We both recognize the need to destroy and ultimately defeat ISIL, to degrade their efforts and ultimately to defeat" it.
Fact: It bears repeating. ISIL/ISIS/the Islamic State (IS) is a US creation.
Fact: Kerry claiming Washington wants it defeated is false.
Fact: One of his many Big Lies.
Kerry: "The United States and Russia also continue to work closely together on Iran, and this was a major topic of our conversation today." 
"Both of our countries are deeply invested in the P5+1 discussions together with our EU colleagues, and we are deeply committed to the diplomatic effort to try to reach an agreement that assures the international community of the fact that the Iranian nuclear program is exclusively peaceful."
Fact: Annual US intelligence assessments affirm Iran's peaceful nuclear program.
Fact: No evidence suggests otherwise.
Fact: P5+1 talks are a convenient US deception.
Fact: Bashing Iran's legitimate nuclear program is red-herring cover for planned regime change.
Kerry: …"(M)y goal today - our goal today together - was to try to deepen our ability to be able to work together, to work with Russia where we can in the interest of both of our nations and of all those countries affected by the actions that we decide to take." 
"We also agreed we have to tackle head-on those areas where we have a profound difference and find a way to try to work through those differences constructively." 
"We know that when the United States and Russia do succeed in working together, the world can become a safer place…"
Fact: Washington deplores working with Russia.
Fact: It refuses to do so responsibly.
Fact: Irresponsible Russia bashing reflects official US policy.
Fact: Big Lies substitute for hard truths.
Fact: Lavrov debunks Western lies.
Fact: They're "wild guesses," he says. "Facts have never been presented so far."
Fact: Spurious accusations have no basis in fact, he stresses.
Fact: Kerry proliferates Big Lies with disturbing regularity.
Fact: So does Obama, other US officials and congressional members.
Fact: Even some senators and congressional representatives who know better.
Fact: Putin's statesmanship embarrasses Obama.
Fact: His good faith policies are mocked. His responsible agenda ridiculed.
Fact: Earlier he pointed fingers the right way on Ukraine.
Fact: He explained "who really (is) mastering (things there) from the beginning.
Fact: America "prefer(s) to remain in the shadow(s)," he said. Manipulating things covertly.
Putin deserves the last word. On October 16, he told Serbian newspaper Politika:
"How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process?"
"Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile."
"We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability."
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Either we end wars or they'll end us. There's no in between!
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. 
West

Fear-Mongering Ahead of Another US False Flag? (Part II)

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 20:37
Fear-Mongering Ahead of Another US False Flag? (Part II)
by Stephen Lendman
Dick Cheney is an unindicted war criminal. He's guilty of genocidal high crimes against peace. 
He predicts another mass casualty event on US soil. Much worse than 9/11. More on what he said below.
Fear-mongering is a longstanding US tactic. False flags are an American tradition.
Both schemes usually precede premeditated war plans. They're used to wage war on freedom. 
Quash human rights. Eliminate civil liberties. Replace them with police state harshness.
Post-9/11 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 established coup d'etat authority. It masquerades as so-called "continuity of government (COG)."
Under catastrophic emergency conditions, defined as:
"any incident (real or contrived), regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."
COG is defined as:
"a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."
At stake is giving presidents and Homeland Security officials unprecedented police state powers. 
Permitting suspension of constitutional law. Declaring martial law without congressional approval.
Authorizing war and other preemptive measures. Doing so against nonexistent security threats.
Establishing tyranny in America. Doing it with public support. With popular willingness to sacrifice freedoms for so-called security.
Mindless that doing so loses both. Forty-five days post-9/11, Patriot Act authority was established. 
With provisions ruthless despots would love. Granting presidents unprecedented powers. Smashing civil liberties in the process.
Including Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. First Amendment free expression.
Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Authority to target individuals associated with so-called "undesirable group(s)." Establishing the crime of "domestic terrorism" for the first time.
Applying it to US citizens as well as aliens. Defining criminal violations as actions aimed to "influence (government policy) by intimidation or coercion…" 
Targeting a civilian population the same way. Anti-war/global justice/environmental activist/legitimate civil disobedience and dissent in any form may be called "domestic terrorism."
Homeland Security Act anti-terrorism authority followed Patriot Act excess. Both initiatives were planned long before 9/11.
HSA established DHS. It combined 22 previously separate government agencies. Including FEMA, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Coast Guard, US Customs Service and US Secret Service.
Unprecedented authority was established to prepare for, prevent and respond to so-called domestic emergencies.
Giving government officials broad new powers. Extrajudicial ones. Protecting America from nonexistent internal and external threats.
Fabricated terrorist or criminal ones. Destroying civil liberties at the same time. 
Making America a police state. Intending full-blown tyranny to follow.
The late Nobel laureate Harold Pinter once said "US foreign policy can be defined as follows: kiss my arse or I'll kick your head in." Domestic policy is no different.
America "quite simply doesn't give a damn about the UN, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant," Pinter added.
In its November/December 2003 edition, Cigar Aficionado interviewed General Tommy Franks. His comments were detailed and wide-ranging. 
He called his mood "(s)omber. Serious." He warned that constitutional suspension and martial law would follow another mass-casualty attack on US soil. Replaced by "a military form of government."
"(T)he Western world, the free world, (would lose) what it cherishes most," he said. (Its) freedom and liberty." America's "grand (democratic) experiment" would end. 
He elaborated further on a potential "weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world…" 
Perhaps "in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event." 
"Which, in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."
Looking ahead he was pessimistic, saying:
"It’s not in the history of civilization for peace ever to reign. Never has in the history of man."
"I doubt that we'll ever have a time when the world will actually be at peace." Nearly 11 years after his interview, none whatever exists.
The late Chalmers Johnson warned about losing America's way of life. Militarism and pursuit of empire threaten it, he said.
Establishing a state within a state. Explaining what history teaches. A choice between democracy and empire.
America's behavior bodes ill, he believed. It "will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and…produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent," he said.
We're perilously close already, he stressed. Hyper-reactionary US policy hijacked government. It's heading America toward tyranny and ruin, he warned.
Evidence proved him right. A permanent state of war exists. Peace is a convenient illusion.
Secret gulag torture prisons operate worldwide. They do so unaccountably. At home and abroad. 
Filled with thousands of political prisoners. And America's unwanted and disadvantaged. Guilt by accusation is official policy.
Government more than ever is secretive, intrusive, repressive and lawless. Rule of law principles don't matter. Democratic values are pure fantasy.
Social decay erodes the homeland. Monied interests run things. Corporatism is omnipotent. An unprecedented wealth disparity exists.
Years ago, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned:
"We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
De facto one-party authority runs things. With two wings replicating each other on issues mattering most. Presidents extrajudicially use diktat powers.
Checks and balances are absent. Separation of powers doesn't matter. Big Brother watches everyone. There's no place to hide.
America's resources go for war-making, bailing out Wall Street and other corporate handouts. Popular needs go begging.
Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Public and private corruption are unprecedented. Over-the-top. Out-of-control. Government of, by and for everyone is pure fantasy.
Corporate-controlled media serve as thought-control police. They comprise a collective quasi-state ministry of information and propaganda.
Glorifying wars in the name of peace. Ignoring lost human and civil rights. Defending the indefensible.
An omnipotent military/industrial killing machine threatens world peace. It hangs by a thread. 
So do fundamental freedoms. They're disappearing in real time. In plain sight. With virtual no public opposition. 
Bread and circuses matter more. During the most perilous time in world history. When possible global war threatens.
Post-9/11, Dick Cheney warned of wars not ending in our lifetime. He called it "a new normalcy."
"We're going to have to take steps, and are taking steps, that'll become a permanent part of the way we live," he said.
Things won't be the same. Few understood to what extent at the time. The worst perhaps to come. Humanity may not survive what follows.
Neocon Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol interviewed Cheney. They discussed current threats.
"(W)e're in a very dangerous period," said Cheney. "I think it's more threatening than the period before 9/11."
"I think 9/11 will turn out to be not nearly as bad as the next mass casualty attack against the United States, which if and when it comes will be something far more deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters."
Months before 9/11, he was asked about major threats facing America. Only invented ones he didn't explain.
He "talked about the possibility of a terrorist attack with terrorists using something deadlier, a weapon of mass destruction, for example."
"When we got down to 9/11…we saw what they were able to do with that in terms of taking down the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and killing 3,000 of our people."
9/11 is the mother of all Big Lies. Thirteen years of well-planned premeditated imperial wars followed. They continue without end.
Targeting one country after another. Ravaging, destroying, colonizing, exploiting and controlling them reflect official US policy.
Hegemons operate this way. Cheney helped initiate what's ongoing. He stopped short of explaining his involvement. America's dirty game.
He defended the indefensible. He still does. He expects another mass-casualty event much worse than 9/11.
He was involved earlier. Perhaps he knows what's forthcoming.
"I think (things are) more threatening (now) than the period before 9/11," he said. 
He claims "the dramatic spread of terrorist organizations" in recent years. "Proliferation" in areas providing safe havens.
Throughout the Middle East, parts of Africa to Southeast Asia, he claims. He's unapologetic about lawless Bush administration policy.
He'd do the same things today as earlier. He wants America's dominant footprint in place everywhere. So-called threats he claims don't exist.
US state terror matters most. Its drive for world hegemony. Its permanent war policy. Its domestic police state repression.
Its war on humanity threatening world peace. America has a choice. Either end wars or they'll end us. 
There's no in between. Don't expect Cheney to explain. He's an unindicted war criminal.
He remains unapologetic for high crimes against peace. Perhaps he knows more than he told. The worst appears yet to come.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

2008 Redux?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 05:36
2008 Redux?
by Stephen Lendman
Headlines aren't reassuring. They're unnerving. Today's Wall Street Journal headlined "Stocks Swoon in Frenzied Trading."
"Dow Slides More than 450 Points Before Climbing; Treasury Yields Touch 16-Month Low." Doing so shows low growth expectations. Maybe heading for decline.
Economist John Williams calls GDP guesstimates "the most worthless of economic series." They over-estimate growth. They show it in times of decline.
On Thursday, the Financial Times headlined "US and European stocks resume slide." Wednesday's Dow "had its biggest intraday fall for three years." 
The headlined story was rewritten after Thursday volatility helped stocks rebound. Things can turn on a dime and head valuations lower.
Sentiment is weak. Thursday's Dow opened down 175 points. Volatility defines things. At times extreme.
E-minis are futures contracts. They represent a portion of standard futures values.
Their liquidity is virtually zero. Massive selling soaked up what remained. Huge volume soaked up the "entire S&P e-mini liquidity stack," said Zero Hedge.
"No liquidity means whiplash galore…If you thought the last several days were volatile in the market, you ain't seen nothing yet."
E-mini S&P future contract (ES) levels are "zero, zilch, nada liquidity…" If yesterday's huge volume spills into today, it's up against market forces with "virtually no order book buffer…"
"(I)f you always wanted to topple the rigged house of cards with a handful of e-minis, today may be your chance."
Or perhaps Friday or Monday next week. According to market analyst Sebastien Galy:
"The liquidity crisis many had waited for is unfolding. Theoretically it is an absence of speculators willing to absorb risk."
The New York Times headlined "Volatility Hits European and Asian Stocks After Frenzy on Wall Street." Other broadsheet headlines were similar.
According to equity analyst Keith Bowman:
"What we’ve seen over the last couple of days shows the level of nervousness that has been around for some time."
Lots of questions remain about global economic conditions, he added.
Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith said "(t)he 'Fed can fix everything' premium has left the market."
Panic replaced it. For how long remains to be seen. Labor market conditions are too weak to sustain growth. Pessimism replaced optimism. Perhaps for some time.
QE kept markets levitating way above fair value. What can't go on forever, won't. Push eventually meets shove. Reckoning day eventually arrives.
"This is what happens, Janet, when you take the punchbowl away," said Zero Hedge.
QE is supposed to end this month. Whether so remains to be seen. On Thursday, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard said bond-buying should continue until America's economic outlook clarifies.
Bullard believes ending QE is data dependent. San Francisco Fed president John Williams supports "additional asset purchases" under deflationary conditions.
"If we really get a sustained, disinflationary forecast...then I think moving back to additional asset purchases in a situation like that should be something we should seriously consider," he said.
Currently about $15 billion in Treasuries are being bought monthly. Perhaps Fed governors intend keeping the punch bowl for now.
Zero Hedge disagrees. It believes QE will end "because 'the economy is recovering' narrative is failing (as the world wakes up to the fact that The Fed is being forced to exit due to having broken the markets)."
In September. Yellen said asset purchases will end in October. According to Zero Hedge:
"Deficits are shrinking and the Fed has less and less room for its buying."
"Under the surface, various non-mainstream technicalities are breaking in the markets due to the size of the Fed's position (repo markets, bond specialness, and fail-to-delivers among them)."
"Sentiment is critical. If the public believes...that the central bank is monetizing the government's debt (which it clearly is), then the game accelerates away from them very quickly - and we suspect they fear we are close to that tipping point."
"The rest of the world is not happy. As Canada noted early in the year, and US monetary policy was discussed at the G-20."
Fed governors are concerned. They're "cornered," said Zero Hedge. They need to end QE entirely. No matter what data show.
QE works when properly used. For Main Street to combat protracted Depression conditions. 
For badly needed growth and job creation. Not for bankers for greater enrichment. For speculation, big salaries and bonuses.
Financial war rages. America and other societies are affected. Ordinary people are hurt most. Hard times keep getting harder.
Multiple QE rounds reflected open-ended money-grabbing. Nearly free for bankers and investors. 
At the expense of helping ordinary people. Forcing millions to live from paycheck to paycheck. One missed one away from homelessness, hunger and despair.
QE can't create jobs or stimulate growth by handing it to bankers and other financial interests. Enriching them at the expense of ordinary people and real economies alone is accomplished.
It remains to be seen what happens going forward. For now, expect volatility to stay.
What's ahead if markets crater? If another banking crisis occurs? Perhaps worse than 2008. Earlier articles addressed it.
Prepare now while there's time. Forewarned is forearmed. Finance is a new form of warfare. It's more powerful than standing armies. 
Banking giants run things. Money power has final say. Bank accounts aren't safe. Depositor theft is coming.
Doing so is called "bail-ins." It's code language for grand theft. Instead of breaking up, nationalizing, or closing down failed banks, depositor funds will keep them operating.
Enormous amounts are there for the taking. They're low-hanging fruit. It's a treasure trove begging to be looted. Legislative shenanigans legitimize it.
Proposed FDIC legislation lets it "take control of banks it deems systematically important and write down your savings (and other bank accounts) as part of the bail-in."
Depositor haircuts are the new normal. Banks legally own your funds. In return for IOUs or promises to pay.
Banks once repaid depositors on demand. A joint December 10, 2012 FDIC-Bank of England (BOE) paper changed things. Plans to loot customer accounts were made earlier. 
The Bank for International Settlements originated them. It's the privately owned central bank for central bankers. Major ones have final say. 
Looting depositor accounts is official policy. Cyprus wasn't a one-off. FDIC insurance doesn't matter. Funds in too-big-to-fail banks and others important to save are up for grabs.
They have our money. We get IOUs in bank stock. Ready cash on demand is gone. Take the money and run replaced it.
Depositors anywhere may be hung out to dry. Gold, silver and other valuables in safety deposit boxes aren't safe. 
Homeland Security informed banks in writing. It may inspect their contents on demand. 
Under Patriot Act provisions, it may seize them with no warrant. It can do it anywhere. Banco de Mattress isn't safe.  
Your money is theirs if they want it. Insured bank accounts no longer matter. Funds in them are up for grabs on demand.
If banking crisis conditions erupt. The late Bob Chapman said it's just a matter of time. Much worse than 2008, he believed.
Reckless bank policies assure it, he said. Ellen Brown cited Michael Snyder's article titled "5 U.S. Banks Each Have More Than 40 Trillion Dollars In Exposure To Derivatives."
They're hugely vulnerable. They're heading for trouble. When the outsized derivatives bubble bursts. Shock waves will rock global economies.
Too-big-to-fail banks are 37% larger than in 2008, Brown explains. "Five banks now account for 42% of all US loans…"
Six major ones "control 67% of all banking assets." Monster-sized too-big-to-fail banks shouldn't be allowed to exist.
They're crime families, not banks. They make make money the old-fashioned way.
Through fraud, grand theft, market manipulation, front-running,  pumping and dumping, scamming investors, buying politicians, bailouts with taxpayer money, and going forward stealing it outright from depositor accounts.
Outsized derivatives gambling compounds their recklessness. Chapman was right. Another financial crisis is inevitable.
Ordinary people will suffer most like last time. They never recovered from 2008. 
They'll be worse off than ever next time. Stripped of their meager savings. 
Millions left unemployed. With eroding social protections. Force-fed neoliberal harshness. Monied interests alone served.
Race to the bottom conditions exist. Bipartisan complicity supports it. Ordinary people are increasingly on their own out of luck.
Inequality is institutionalized. Expect harder than ever hard times when things crater. It's not a matter of if, but when. 
How bad will things get? Likely worse than Great Depression harshness. With social justice targeted for elimination.
With ordinary people hung out to dry. It bears repeating. On their own. Out of luck. 
Today's America is the United States of I Don't Care. Growing poverty, homelessness and hunger don't matter. 
It's the new normal. Expect worse ahead. Expect less help when most needed. 
Policymakers don't give a damn. For sure not now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Latest TPP Leak Shows US Still Pushing Terrible DRM and Copyright Term Proposals—and New Threats Arise

eff.org - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 05:30

Today Wikileaks published a new draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s intellectual property chapter. This draft text, from May 2014, gives us another look into the current state of negotiations over this plurilateral trade agreement’s copyright provisions since another draft was leaked last year. And what we’re seeing isn’t pretty. The TPP still contains text on DRM, ISP liability, copyright term lengths, and criminal enforcement measures, and introduces new provisions on trade secrets that have us worried.

Anti-Circumvention

Despite an over-abundance of evidence that laws punishing circumvention of DRM do far more harm than good, the USTR continues to press other countries to embrace the U.S.’s failed anti-circumvention policy. The leaked text suggest that some provisions have improved, but others have deteriorated. Although the leaked text does allow exceptions to the provision outlawing DRM circumvention, it suggests that these exceptions should be limited to specific cases “where there is an actual or likely adverse impact of those measures on those non-infringing uses, as determined through a legislative, regulatory, or administrative process.” We know how well the exemption process has worked to protect lawful uses here in the U.S. (it hasn’t). If we are going to pressure other countries to adopt our failed policies, the least we should do is let them have an relatively easy way to prevent those policies from crippling innovation and free expression. What is worse, it would likely impede countries from adopting laws (such as those of India, although that law is hardly a paragon) that provide a blanket exemption for DRM circumvention for lawful purposes.

Copyright Term

Whereas in the previous leak a coalition of countries had proposed that the TPP should allow them to retain full flexibility in determining the optimal length of their copyright term, that proposal has now been excised from the agreement—the only option now on the table is a provision that specifies a minimum term of years. How many years that should be, ranging from life plus 50 to life plus 100 years, remains undecided.

Equally troubling, there seems to be full agreement to limit countries from imposing conditions on any extended term after 50 years, which would go beyond the requirements of international law, and preempt creative proposals aimed at helping overcome the orphan works problem, for example by requiring rightsholders to pay a $1 renewal fee to gain the benefit of any extended term of copyright protection.

Criminal Treatment of Trade Secrets

A new, more detailed provision on trade secrets introduces text that would criminalize the unauthorized, willful access of a trade secret held in a computer system, or the misappropriation or disclosure of a trade secret using a computer system. This text goes far beyond existing trade secrets law, which in the United States and other common law countries is usually a matter for the civil not the criminal courts. No public interest exception, such as for journalism, is provided. In practice, this could obligate countries into enacting a draconian anti-hacking law much like the Criminal Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that was used to prosecute Aaron Swartz.

Liability and Enforcement

On ISP liability the text remains quite contested, and as such is shuffled into a “non-paper” at the end of the leaked text. This article provides ISPs with a safe harbor against liability for copyright infringements by users, which EFF supports as a general principle. But the sting is in the tail: protection from liability may be conditioned on ISPs participating in a DMCA-like notice and take-down regime, where allegedly infringing content is removed from the Internet without a court order (although Canada would limit the ISP’s responsibility to sending notices of claimed infringement rather than taking the material down).

Also still contested are the criminal enforcement provisions. The issue is whether users can be held criminally liable for copyright infringements conducted on a commercial scale, for commercial advantage or financial gain. In the November 2013 text, the text was more highly contested by all 12 TPP countries, but now most of the disagreement lies between the US and Canada. The US seeks a broader definition of a criminal copyright infringement, to even cover acts that are noncommercial, whereas Canada only wants to apply criminal remedies to cases where someone has infringed for commercial purposes. If the US gets its way, then criminal penalties will apply even against users who were not seeking financial gain from sharing or making available copyrighted works, such as fans and archivists. Such a broad definition is ripe for abuse.

Public Domain

It's not all bad news. For the first time, the parties have reached agreement to include an article recording their recognition of “the importance of a rich and accessible public domain” and acknowledging “the importance of informational materials, such as publicly accessible databases of registered intellectual property rights that assist in the identification of subject matter that has fallen into the public domain.” But this is easy to say. We are more interested in how these words are backed up with actions, and this article of the agreement imposes no specific obligations.

The latest TPP leak confirms that the US Trade Representative is not backing down from exporting the most severe interpretations of US copyright law. As we’ve reiterated for years, TPP is just the latest cycle of policy laundering that takes advantage of the secretive, special-interest dominated negotiating forum of trade agreements in order to continue heightening copyright standards around the world. The only way to make practical, public-interest driven digital policy is for our policymakers to be held accountable. Backroom trade negotiations are the epitome of a defective, undemocratic rulemaking system. As long as special corporate interests dominate the agenda of our international digital policymaking fora, Internet users will not stand for such illegitimate regulations.

Related Issues: WikileaksDRMInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Healthcare: A Fundamental Human Right

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 22:59
Healthcare: A Fundamental Human Right
by Stephen Lendman
Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) falls way short of promised benefits. It's outrageously expensive. 
A new Congressional Budget Office assessment estimates hundreds of billions of more dollars than Obama claimed. Around $300 billion or more.
It's unaffordable for millions. Double what healthcare costs in other developed nations. Marketplace medicine fails. Often when it's most needed.
In America, it's a healthcare rationing system. A scam. A scheme based on ability to pay. 
A boon to providers. A ripoff to enrich insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.
Despite high-minded claims, millions are left uninsured. Millions more way underinsured. Buying insurance is mandated. Otherwise, penalties are enforced.
In 2014, it's $95 per person up to 1% of family income. Whichever is greater.
Over the next two years, fines increase exponentially. In 2016, it's $695 per person up to 2.5% of income. Again, whichever is greater. 
Exemptions are few and far between. IRS officials are in charge of enforcing 47 new tax provisions.
Imagine having tax collectors involved in healthcare. Only in America. Empowering them is outrageous. Scandalous. Nightmarish. Doing so assures enormous harm.
Americans were scammed. They expected one thing. They got another. On October 13, AP headlined "Poll: Many Insured Struggle with Medical Bills."
Inability to pay healthcare costs is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in America. Obamacare "is no panacea for high medical costs," said AP.
According to its poll, one fourth of privately insured US adults lack "confidence in their ability to pay for a major, unexpected medical expenses."
At issue are huge deductibles and co-pays. Millions pay 40% or more out-of-pocket. 
On top of costly premiums rising exponentially annually. It wasn't always this way. A previous article explained.
In 1960 when this writer finished graduate school and began working full-time, healthcare as a percent of GDP was 5.1%. In 2002, it was 15%. In 2011, 17.9%. By 2020, it'll exceed 20%.
Between 1960 and 2009, average annual healthcare spending rose from $147 per person to $8,086. A shocking 55-fold increase. 
In inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars, it rose annually from $1,082 to $8,218 - a 7.6-fold rise.
In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it's $1,360.
In 1980, a typical US hospital room cost $127. Today it's multi-times higher. See below.
A 2011 survey of 11 Ohio hospitals found daily hospital room prices ranged from $688 - $2,425. Cost averaged $1,393. The median price was $1,322.
An average emergency room visit today costs more than a month's rent in America. Hospital room charges and related expenses average over $4,000 daily.
America's most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500. Bills of $1,500 or more follow simple medical procedures.
Ones many patients easily paid out-of-pocket decades earlier. Prescription drugs were cheap. A small fraction of today's prices.
Insurance providing good coverage was affordable. Polar opposite things today.
According to According to AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research's poll results, high costs force Americans to adopt practices detrimental to good health:
  • "Nineteen percent of all privately insured adults said they did not go to the doctor when they were sick or injured, because of costs." 

  • "Among those with high-deductible plans, the figure was 29 percent."

  • "Seventeen percent skipped a recommended test or treatment; it was 23 percent among those with high-deductible plans."

"Eighteen percent of all adults went without a physical exam or other preventive care, 24 percent among those with high-deductible plans."
People can't buy what they can't afford. Even when it comes to healthcare. Medications aren't taken as prescribed. Some not at all.
Doctor visits are skipped. So are expensive tests. Many consumers make financial trade-offs. They do so to pay medical bills for vitally needed treatment.
  • "Overall, 33 percent said they cut back on entertainment; it was 43 percent among those with high-deductible plans."

  • "18 percent said they used up all or most of their savings, 24 percent among those with high-deductible plans."

  • "19 percent said they dialed down their contributions for retirement savings, 28 percent for people with high-deductible plans."

Plan-switchers express dissatisfaction. They're paying more for less provide.
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) calls itself "a universal, comprehensive single-payer" advocacy organization.
It supports everyone covered equitably. No one left out. Mandating it in place of today's dysfunctional system.
Hundreds of billions of dollars can be saved annually by eliminating insurer-driven bureaucratic overreach. Excess. Ripoffs. Waste, fraud and abuse.
PNHP has been active since 1987. It has over 19,000 members and chapters nationwide.
It "educate(s) physicians and other health professionals about the benefits of a single-payer system - including fewer administrative costs and affording health insurance for the 50 million Americans who have none."
It's "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program."
It believes universal high-quality healthcare isn't a commodity. It's a fundamental human right.
According to Martin Luther King:
"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."
Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says every "(e)everyone, as a member of society, has a right to social security…" Every nation is obligated to provide it. 
Article 25 states "(e)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."
Article 30 says "(n)othing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."
Social justice is fundamental. It's on the chopping block for elimination. Neoliberal harshness demands it. Force-fed austerity is official policy.
It's neo-Malthusaianism writ large. Its holy trinity mandates no public sphere, unrestrained corporate empowerment, and repressive control for contrived national security reasons.
Inside the bubble, it's paradise. Outside is neoliberal hell. Ordinary people are increasingly on their own out of luck.
Even for vitally needed healthcare when most needed if they're coverage falls short of providing it.
Corporate empowerment matters more. Marketplace medicine reflects it. Bottom line priorities are the be-all-and-end-all.
Pillaging for profit is longstanding policy. Even for healthcare. Ordinary people suffer hugely. 
They can have anything they're able to pay for. Otherwise they're deprived. Stuck. Often when most in need.
Healthcare reform efforts in America never succeeded. Lobbyists, politicians and medical professionals vie for their own agendas.
No single narrative exists. Future legislation may replace Obamacare. Or perhaps change its mandates. 
For better or more likely worse. History is instructive. In 1798, US ships arriving from foreign ports had to pay 20 cents a month for healthcare covering each merchant seaman.
Legislation mandating it required establishing federally-funded hospitals. By 1802, they operated in Boston, Norfolk, VA, Newport, RI, and Charleston, SC. More were planned.
In 1916, Marine hospitals provided in-or-outpatient treatment for injured federal workers. Later they became part of America's Public Health Service (PHS).
During and post-WW I, new veterans' hospitals were established. In 1921, some became part of a new Veterans Bureau. Others remained in PHS.
Post-1950, phasing out PHS hospitals became official policy. In 1981, eight remained. Washington's model remained with little funding or means for enforcement.
In early 19th century America, state and local governments were involves. Mental hospitals were established for so-called "dangerous and unwanted individuals."
Isolated from urban areas. Including hospitals. Special ones for tuberculosis patients, Pennsylvania miners, and impoverished city dwellers.
At times, religious or nonsectarian NGOs ran them. In 1903, the first public hospital census showed public subsidies covered 10% or more of operating costs in 13 states.
With wide variations among them. Concern for government involvement was largely a 20th century phenomenon.
The phrase "socialized medicine" gained traction at the time. Not enough for legislation mandating it. 
Powerful special interests opposed it. They still do. Bottom line priorities matter most.
As early as 1751, cooperative public/private ventures existed. Benjamin Franklin got a Pennsylvania state grant to establish the private nonprofit Pennsylvanian Hospital.
Around the same time, similar initiatives followed. Less public/private distinction existed.
In the late 1940s, federal Hill-Burton grants helped establish cooperative rural hospitals.
US health reform efforts began with 1913 - 1918 health insurance movement initiatives. The American Association for Labor Legislation spearheaded efforts to improve industrial workers' health and welfare.
At the time, the American Medical Association and other organizations supported initiatives.
In 1917, 15 states introduced healthcare coverage legislation. Eight others established commissions to consider doing so.
Nothing materialized. Efforts were weak-kneed. Lacking workable policies. Confusing even for supporters. 
By the 1920, health reform advocacy was dead. Despite poor responses to 1918/1919 influenza epidemic crisis conditions.
Post-WW I, doctors focused on private practice. Medical specialties expanded. Community and university hospitals were established. Government supplemented other efforts.
In the 1930s and 1940s, government-sponsored health insurance again surfaced. Either through federally-subsidized state programs or Social Security. 
At the time, doing so was contentious. Medical and political opposition surfaced. On issues of advantages or disadvantages for business and labor. 
Private health insurance as an alternative. Concerns about too much government and states' rights.
By the 1950s, employer-provided healthcare coverage changed things. Complemented by newly established/expanding hospitals.
And a national commitment for federally-funded biomedical  research in various areas. 
After years of debate and strong Republican opposition, Medicare and Medicaid became law in 1965.
On July 30, 1965, Harry and Bess Truman became Medicare's first enrollees. Medicare.gov calls it "the nation's largest health insurance program." Millions of Americans are covered.
It's a "Health Insurance program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant)."
Medicare and Social Security aren't entitlements. They worker/employer funded insurance programs. They're contractual federal obligations. They for eligible recipients who qualify.
They're on the chopping block for elimination. Either by privatization or death by numerous cuts. So-called "creeping normalcy." 
Destroying over time what's essential to preserve. Democrats are in league with Republicans. In a decade or less, these programs may no longer exist.
Decades of US healthcare reform efforts failed. In contrast, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid succeeded.
They enormously benefit the lives, health and welfare of millions of Americans. Other public initiatives work as intended.
Including SCGIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program), emergency room access, EMTALA (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act), government-supported clinics, and VA for veterans before bureaucracy and political indifference corrupted what once worked well.
By the 1980s, nonprofit hospitals were almost extinct. They competed unsuccessfully with private ones.
Healthcare is just another commodity. States reduced their mental care hospitals. Chronically ill patients ended up in nursing homes, on city streets or in prisons.
Uninsured or underinsured patients without families are especially vulnerable.
The 1973 HMO Act failed to deliver promises made. By the 1990s, federally funded health maintenance organizations became synonymous with managed care.
And the baggage they created. With gatekeeper bureaucrats making healthcare decisions, not doctors.
Obamacare is America's latest healthcare reform effort. It may end up in history's dustbin like earlier initiatives. The fullness of time will tell.
One system alone works as intended. Providing far more affordable high-quality healthcare than today. 
Universal single-payer coverage is an idea whose time has come. What better time than now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Malicious Anti-Iranian Propaganda

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 21:19
Malicious Anti-Iranian Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure. Big Lies persist with disturbing regularity.
It's been this way for 35 years. Washington tolerates no independent governments. Nor does Israel, its Lobby and other supportive organizations.
They want pro-Western vassal states worldwide. They want sovereign independence destroyed. 
They want unchallenged control. They want monied interests served. They want ordinary people exploited.
The second Tehran New Horizon Conference was held from September 29 - October 1. Participants included academics, writers, authors and journalists.
They came from numerous countries. Middle East issues were discussed. Ongoing events explained why.
Participants dispelled Western propaganda. It's unrelenting. It features Big Lies. 
Hard truths readers and viewers most need to know are buried. It's longstanding scoundrel media policy.
The American Jewish Committee is one of the oldest advocacy organizations of its kind in America.
The New York Times calls it "the dean of American Jewish organizations." It's notoriously anti-Iranian.
On October 2, it headlined "AJC: Iran Conference Promotes Hatred of Jews, Israel." It turned truth on its head saying so.
Press TV explained. It said the purpose of Tehran's New Horizon Conference was "to unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics."
It "showcased films at the festival represented Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime, war threats against Iran and anti-war movements, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Iranophobia and Islamophobia, a world without Zionism, and (one) without terrorism and atomic weapons."
It provided a platform for independent observers. It let them express their views freely and openly. 
Polar opposite what goes on in America. Freedom is increasingly threatened. Democracy is pure fantasy. 
Fundamental rights are eroding in plain sight. Police state lawlessness persists. Monied interests alone benefit.
Permanent war is official policy. Iran's governance shames America's. AJC Executive Director David Harris lied, saying:
New Horizons Conference "is proof-positive that the government of Iran has not mitigated its deeply entrenched hostility towards Jews and the State of Israel."
"Iran, even under the supposedly moderate President Rouhani, remains intent on achieving the capacity to build nuclear weapons, actively supporting Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, and promoting venomous hatred of Jews."
Fact: Sixteen US intelligence agencies annually say no Iranian nuclear weapons program exists.
Fact: No evidence suggests one.
Fact: None exists.
Fact: Hamas is no terrorist organization.
Fact: Nor is Hezbollah.
Fact: They're democratically elected Palestinian and Lebanese government representatives respectively.
Fact: So-called "venomous" Jew-hating doesn't exist. 
Fact: Nor are threats made about wanting Israel destroyed.
Washington Post editorial policy fell from grace long ago. Credibility no longer exists. Watergate-type exposes are verboten.
Editorial policy fronts for power. Extreme hawkishness defines it. New owner Jeff Bezos has CIA ties. He's in bed with the devil. 
He was bought. Paid off. He got a $600 million CIA contract.
It's double what he paid for WaPo. At the time, he said: "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."
Perhaps it involves much more than meets the eye. He expects lots more business. For sure CIA officials want plenty back besides Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Bezos' disturbing history curries favor with national security officials. After WikiLeaks published State Department cables, AWS removed them.
WaPo should explain Bezos' CIA connection. Readers should know its editorial policy is biased. 
It's propaganda. It turns truth on its head. It's corrupted. It's illegitimate. It's bought and paid for. 
WaPo is a CIA house organ. It regurgitates official policy. It's militantly anti-Iranian.
It commented on New Horizon headlining "Obama clueless on Iran once again." International "Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites (met) in Tehran." 
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) demagoguery, hate-mongering and Islamophobia are longstanding.
Its claims about promoting human rights ring hollow. It eschews them altogether. 
It supports Israeli genocidal high crimes against peace. It does so unapologetically.
WaPo quoted ADL calling New Horizon participants "an international assortment of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites." 
It's "part of (Iran's) 13th International Resistance Film Festival.Last year, the conference’s cancellation was attributed to the 'more moderate' tone of the new government of President Hassan Rouhani."
According to ADL national director Abe Foxman, "(T)his conference provides yet another example of how the Iranian government facilitates the spread of global anti-Semitism."
"Participation by an international assortment of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites is de rigueur for these types of events."
"A disturbing new element in this anti-Jewish gathering is the appearance on the guest list of a few high visibility US antiwar and anti-Israel activists who claim their positions are not motivated by anti-Semitism." 
"It will be harder for them to make that claim now, given their open collusion with this event and its Iranian government sponsors."
Republican extremist Mark Kirk is Illinois's junior senator. His views are over-the-top and then some. 
He's in lockstep with imperial lawlessness. He wants war on Iran. According to National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founder Trita Parsi:
He wants what he won't admit publicly. Only privately. Parsi wants lawless sanctions removed. Kirk wants more piled on. 
He wants the Islamic Republic destroyed. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing it.
WaPo quoted him saying:
"The so-called "New Horizon' conference in Tehran proves why the current Iranian regime under President Hassan Rouhani is, at its core, no less extremist and dangerous than the regime under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." 
"The conference's participants promoted anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and were even greeted on day one by high-ranking Iranian cleric Mohsen Ghomi, a close advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who falsely alleged that ‘American officials are puppets of the Zionist lobby.' "
"It's critical that US Administration officials, who are desperately offering ever more dangerous nuclear concessions to get Iran to accept a watered-down nuclear deal, open their eyes to the true nature of the current Iranian regime."
WaPo and other media scoundrels publish this type rubbish regularly. With disturbing regularity. They betray their readers in the process.
The Jerusalem Post is a notorious right-wing Israeli publication. According to a former reporter:
Its "problem is that politics enters news coverage, choice of stories, language, often in ways they might not even begin to realize."
Much of its reporting is irresponsible. Its partisanship at times is way over-the-top. Israeli broadsheets are considered the most effective way to preach partisan politics.
According to one Israeli writer, "to make sure the party's followers  (get) 'correct' educational guidance."
JP called New Horizon "a hatefest." It turned truth on its head saying so. It supports Israel's worst crimes. It considers its genocidal high crimes against peace self-defense.
It calls legitimate Palestinian self-defense terrorism. Its mindless of Gazan suffering. It buries vital truths. It ignores what readers most need to know.
Western New Horizon reporting made yellow journalism look good by comparison. Independent sources explained things right.
Iran wants freedom to live in peace. Sovereign states deserve it and much more.
America and Israel want imperial dominance. No two nations throughout history devoted so much firepower to mass slaughter and destruction.
None over a longer duration. None cause more human misery.
Saving humanity depends on stopping them before it's too late. World peace hangs by a thread.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

New Report Finds Users Want Copyright to Respect Creators, Free Expression, and Democratic Rulemaking

eff.org - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 09:53

Canadian digital rights organization, OpenMedia, released a copyright report today that crowdsourced input from users from around the world. Their survey asked users to express their thoughts about copyright and to determine what issues they would like policymakers to prioritize in constructing innovation policy domestically and internationally. The process took over two years and attracted participation from over 300,000 people in 155 countries.

The result was published today at Our Digital Future, which features the highlights of this extensive study. Hundreds of thousands of users have spoken and they have made three main recommendations to policymakers.

First, users called for creators interests' to be upheld and respected. 67% of respondents wanted to see at least three-quarters of revenue from the sale of creative works to go directly to artists and creators. They also called for the promotion of new ways for creators to share their work, flexible exemptions to copyright, and rules that encourage a rich public domain.

Secondly, they called for copyright policies to prioritize free expression. Nearly three-quarters of respondents selected “Prioritize Free Expression” as their first priority for developing more balanced copyright. Respondents proposed a four-pronged agenda, including: preventing censorship, protecting fair use and fair dealing, promoting access and affordability, and creating clear rules to govern the sharing of knowledge and culture online.

And third, users called for policymakers to embrace democratic processes. Over 72 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted rules created through “a participatory multi-stakeholder process...that includes Internet users, creators, and copyright law experts.” Respondents denounced closed-door processes that plague negotiations over trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These users overwhelmingly called for participatory, democratic, and transparent policymaking fora to shape copyright rules.

In short, people want copyright laws to make sense and balance the interests of everyone. At a time when the line between creator and cultural consumer has become blurred, users want copyright policy to uphold our collective rights and concerns, not just those of a separate illusory class of "creators." Despite how copyright laws both internationally and in most domestic regimes fiercely protect the special interests of Hollywood and Big Content industries, they are not the only ones producing creative works. Their exclusive access to international policymaking negotiations does not reflect the current reality of cultural creativity and consumption online.

This user-driven study is just one way of reflecting our interests, and showing policymakers that the secretive processes of agreements like TPP completely fail at respecting those interests when it comes to crafting copyright policy for the digital age.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Categories: Aggregated News

Is NY DFS Backing Off Its Attack on Bitcoin Developers? The Devil Will Be In The Details.

eff.org - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 09:42

Last night, New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawksy gave a speech at the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law in which he reportedly backed down from the threat of forcing software developers who innovate around Bitcoin to obtain licenses. According to Coindesk, Lawksy said: 

"To clarify, we do not intend to regulate software or software development. For example, a software developer who creates and provides wallet software to customers for their own use will not need a license. Those who are innovating and developing the latest platforms for digital currencies will not need a license."

From the Wall Street Journal:

Software developers, bitcoin miners, and individuals (unless they also offer financial services) doing business in New York state won’t have to apply for a BitLicense, he said, according to the prepared remarks, but traditional banks looking to get into digital currencies will. The proposal was meant as a starting point, not an ending point, he said, but it was also influenced by the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange.

First of all, this is good news. It’s clear that the NY DFS is starting to hear from entrepreneurs and developers who are concerned that the proposed regulation would be disastrous for both civil liberties and innovation. 

But as with any regulation, the devil is in the details. While NY DFS may make promises in press releases and public statements, the real measure of its commitment to innovation and privacy is in the actual text of the regulatory framework. As currently written, the proposed regulations have vague, confusing provisions that could easily be interpreted as affecting developers and other entrepreneurs beyond money services. We won’t know for sure if the next draft is better until we can see the text.

Second, while Superintendent Lawsky is making promises about narrowing the category of people who need to get a BitLicense, we have yet to hear that he’s addressing other privacy and free speech concerns with the proposed framework. These include invasive processes for applying for a BitLicense as well as a mandate that licensees maintain identity records for all transactions for 10 years. 

So while we are heartened to see the superintendent is receptive to innovation concerns, we won’t be convinced that there are adequate safeguards for users, developers and merchants until we see those safeguards in writing. For now, we’re urging people who care about civil liberties to speak out against the BitLicense and demand that Superintendent Lawsky uphold digital rights. 

Speak out. Learn more about BitLicense


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Categories: Aggregated News

Civil Liberties Groups Appeal Ruling Over Automatic License Plate Reader Data

eff.org - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 08:31

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California are taking the fight over automatic license plate reader (ALPR) data to the next level by asking the California Court of Appeal to rule that the public has a right to know how Los Angeles cops are tracking their locations.

ALPRs are cameras mounted to patrol cars and fixed locations, such as light poles, that are able to capture, process, and store the license plates of every vehicle that passes nearby. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department together collect close to 3 million license plates each week; these data points could give police an intimate picture of the comings and goings of the entire population over several years. By our estimates, these agencies currently have an average of 61 plate scans for each vehicle registered in Los Angeles County.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch and ACLU SoCal Senior Staff Attorney Peter Bibring describe the potential impact on civil liberties in the new brief:

A network of readers enables police to collect extensive location data on an individual, without his knowledge and without any level of suspicion. ALPRs can be used to scan and record vehicles at a lawful protest or house of worship; track all movement in and out of an area; gather information about certain neighborhoods or organizations; or place political activists on hot lists so that their movements trigger alerts ... Taken in the aggregate, ALPR data can create a revealing history of a person’s movements, associations, and habits.

Two years ago, EFF and ACLU SoCal used the California Public Records Act to obtain policies and training presentations regarding ALPR used by these agencies, but the agencies refused to provide us with one week’s worth of ALPR data that we believe is crucial to an informed public debate over this mass surveillance technology.

When we took LAPD and LASD to court, the agencies came back with a stunning argument that they were allowed to withhold this information because 100 percent of the data constituted investigative records, which are exempted from disclosure under California’s open records law.

Who were they investigating? Every car in Los Angeles.

The Superior Court judge ultimately ruled in favor of the Los Angeles cops, but this decision was based on serious misconceptions about how the technology works and the public interest in the data. These two points are the central issues EFF and ACLU SoCal are now asking the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District to consider.

In his ruling, Judge James Chalfant concluded that Los Angeles cops use ALPR in a “targeted”  fashion because officers choose where to drive their vehicles and which plates to focus on. This ignores the fact that ALPR cameras indiscriminately capture every license plate’s image, not just those of specific vehicles (such as stolen cars) that are the subject of investigations. As Lynch and Bibring write in the brief:

LAPD and LASD use ALPRs to collect license plate data automatically and indiscriminately on each and every driver in Los Angeles who passes within range of their cameras—at a rate of three million scans per week—whether or not those drivers are suspected of wrongdoing. These systems are unlike almost any other surveillance technology in use by law enforcement today. Even red-light cameras, which also capture an image of a vehicle’s license plate, are only triggered to save a picture of the plate when the driver has violated the law by entering an intersection after the light has turned red.

EFF and ACLU SoCal are also challenging the judge’s conclusion that releasing the week’s worth of data would compromise police investigations, outweighing the public interest in seeing this data. For example, the judge indicated that releasing the data would reveal patrol patterns, despite the fact that patrol patterns aren’t particularly secret—patrol cars are easily viewable to the naked eye.

More importantly, as we note in the brief, release of raw ALPR data has fueled debates in jurisdictions such as Minneapolis and Boston, leading to distinct policy changes to protect citizens’ privacy. Lynch and Bibring argued:

In each of these examples, disclosure of the data was integral to informed debate—within the legislatures, among the general public, and even within the agencies themselves. Without public access to information about how ALPR technology is being used—including the raw ALPR data from a limited time period—the very people whose whereabouts are being recorded cannot know if their rights are being infringed nor challenge policies that inadequately protect their privacy.

Around the country, we have seen local law enforcement agencies adopt privacy-invasive technologies with little oversight or public input. In some cases—particularly with ALPRs—even the companies supplying these devices ask agencies to sign agreements not to speak publicly about these programs.

The truth is: the only threat posed by transparency is to the police’s unchecked surveillance powers. 

Click here for the text of the petition for writ of mandate.

Related Issues: Locational PrivacyTransparencyRelated Cases: Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR)
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Categories: Aggregated News

Beware the BitLicense: New York’s Virtual Currency Regulations Invade Privacy and Hamper Innovation

eff.org - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 07:25

With assistance from Marcia Hofmann

What if you picked up a cup of coffee on your way to work and paid $2.00 in cash, only to have the man behind the counter request your home address?

"My home address?" you might ask. 

"Yes," he might reply, "And your full legal name. I’m keeping it in a file for the next 10 years, just in case the government wants it."

Sound ridiculous? Substitute bitcoins for cash, and that’s what the New York regulators might like to see happen in the near future at businesses that accept digital currency.

The State of New York has proposed BitLicense, a sprawling regulatory framework that would mandate licenses for a wide range of companies that intersect with digital currencies. The proposal creates expensive and vague new obligations for start-ups and infringes on the privacy rights of both Bitcoin businesses and casual users.

Right now NY DFS is accepting comments from the public about its proposal. Whether you are a startup, a student, an engineer, or just an Internet user with a passion for individual rights, please submit a comment. Click here to get started, or read on to find out what’s wrong with the regulatory framework.

Even if You Don’t Need A BitLicense, This Affects You

People affected by this proposal fall into two broad categories: those who must obtain a BitLicense and those who may be affected, but don’t need to obtain a BitLicense.

So, who will need a license? It’s not as clear as one would hope.  The regulations seem to require BitLicenses from anyone who converts digital currency, transmits digital currency, stores digital currency, secures digital currency, or "receives digital currency for transmission" "involving" New York or a resident of New York.1 (There are some specific exceptions.)

Who might this include? Anyone who makes virtual currency wallets, exchanges, or storage tools, as well as people innovating new types of digital currency. The regulations are worded vaguely enough that they may even sweep up innovators building Bitcoin-related businesses that aren’t financial services.  Basically, this implicates developers, entrepreneurs, middlemen, and other providers of services related to virtual currency. There are no carve-outs for academics or security researchers.

Then there is everyone else who might be affected by this. The NY DFS states that “the license is not required for merchants or consumers that utilize Virtual Currency solely for the purchase or sale of goods or services.” However, as written, the proposal would require companies with with licenses to keep records about transactions of everyone who uses their services, so the privacy of individual Bitcoin users would be affected. Think back to the coffee shop at the beginning of this article. If this coffee shop were using a Bitcoin payment provider to process transactions, that payment provider would need to obtain a BitLicense from New York. While the coffee shop and its customers would not need to get a license, every digital transaction processed by the payment provider would have to follow the BitLicense record-keeping requirements. We elaborate on these mandates below, but among other things they require licensees to keep 10 years of records about all transactions, including identity information about all parties to a transaction.

There is also vagueness in the language of the proposal about whether P2P node operators and miners of digital currencies might need a BitLicense2, and whether there are circumstances in which users hosting their own wallets and transmitting coins directly to other users might fall under the regulations.

Financial Privacy Under Threat

One of the benefits of Bitcoin and similar digital currencies is that they offer the potential for private financial transactions. Of course, not all Bitcoin transactions are private in nature; in fact, the public block chain has a level of transparency closer to a public stock exchange than a private bank account. However, there are already technical measures that can be taken to mask one’s real identity when using Bitcoin, and future innovations in digital currency could continue to preserve privacy.  

We can think of a hundred reasons why someone may prefer privacy in her financial transactions. Consider an NSA employee who wants to donate money to EFF, a teenager who wants to buy contraceptives for the first time, or a grassroots political organization raising money for the legal defense of a political prisoner. In each case as well as countless others, there are legitimate reasons why someone may want to spend money without having that fact linked to his or her identity for a decade.

Bank cards and websites where you can donate money or make purchases almost always come with terms of service, many of which may have onerous provisions that limit certain types of transactions to those the middle man considers acceptable. Websites and payment providers can make arbitrary decisions to shut down speech that is controversial even when it’s legal. We saw an example of this when Mastercard, Paypal, and Visa blockaded payments to WikiLeaks, a website publishing classified documents that had not been charged with a crime. 

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are attempting to recreate some of the censorship-resistant and privacy-protecting attributes of cash. And that’s good; it’s an innovative way of preserving some of those offline protections in a digital world. It could mean digital payments without terms of service or privacy violations.

 The BitLicense proposal threatens all of that.

Infringing Privacy Rights of Innovators, Developers and Businesses

Companies that are subject to BitLicense—including developers, innovators and businesses looking to create new digital currency products—would have to forfeit their privacy by making extensive personal disclosures to the state of New York. This might mean people who care about their privacy might choose to avoid working in the digital currency space altogether.

Virtual currency businesses would have to submit an application for a BitLicense. The application requires a wealth of information, including that every applicant and certain key individuals within the business submit:

  • Detailed information, including name, physical and mailing address and “information and documentation regarding their personal history, experience and qualification.”
  • A background report prepared by an independent investigatory agency.
  • A set of complete fingerprints to be handed over to both state and federal law enforcement.
  • Two portrait-style photographs.
  • Details about any legal proceedings they’re involved in, even those that have nothing to do with business activities.

In short, the BitLicense could spell the end of entrepreneurs and engineers hacking on new virtual currency tools and functions without turning their lives into an open book for the government to peruse.

 Infringing Privacy Rights of End Users and Merchants

If enacted, this regulation would affect the privacy of end users as well as businesses that offer Bitcoin payment options. While these folks might not need a BitLicense, they may well rely on service providers that do need it – such as payment providers. Those payment providers, in turn, would be collecting more information on customers.

For every transaction, the licensed business must keep:

  • The amount, date, and precise time of the transaction, and any payment instructions;
  • The total amount of fees and charges received and paid to, by, or on behalf of the licensee;
  • Names of the parties to the transaction;
  • Account numbers of the parties to the transaction; and
  • Physical addresses of the parties to the transaction.

All these records must be kept for at least 10 years, “in a condition that will allow the superintendent to determine whether the Licensee is complying with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. ”

While we are generally concerned that forcing companies to maintain detailed records on every transaction is both burdensome and unnecessary, we are particularly concerned about the requirement that every transaction include name and physical address for all parties. This would, in effect, threaten the possibility of having any cash-like interactions in the digital world.

While you might be able to drop a couple quarters into an open guitar case as you walk down a busy street today, you’d never be able to anonymously send a street performer a few satoshi with an app on your smartphone.  You’d also never be able to make a donation to a politically radical cause through a payment provider without linking your identity to it for a decade.  Transactions – regardless of how big or small, how sensitive or mundane – would have a 10-year data trail that points back to your legal name and physical address.

An Industry in Its Infancy Does Not Merit Chains

It’s premature to craft extensive regulations for an industry that’s so new and still in flux. We think New York should play it cool for a few years and see what the market does before rushing in to clamp down on an industry in its infancy.

However, if NY DFS is intent on pushing ahead with this proposal, then we must call for safeguards to protect digital rights. The NY DFS is letting the fear of money laundering drive a massive regulatory proposal forward. NY DFS should respect the rights of technology users, and limit its regulation to what is proportionate to the real threat at hand.

Even if you aren’t a Bitcoin enthusiast, you should care about BitLicense. None of us knows what innovative new technologies might spring up in future years, including new ways that virtual currency protocols might be used for anything from combatting spam to facilitating international remittance. If enacted, the BitLicense proposal could stifle this innovation before it had a chance to get a foothold.

Submit comments to NY DFS, and ask your friends to do the same.

(Note: EFF is proud to accept Bitcoin; you can choose Bitcoin after hitting donate on any eff.org page). 

Read more:

Marco Santori's What New York's Proposed Regulations Mean for Bitcoin Businesses

Harley Geiger's NY's Proposed BitRegs a Threat to Privacy and Innovation

  • 1. According to NY DFS’ press release, the new DFS BitLicenses will be required for firms engaged in the following virtual currency businesses:
    • Receiving or transmitting virtual currency on behalf of consumers;
    • Securing, storing, or maintaining custody or control of such virtual currency on the behalf of customers;
    • Performing retail conversion services, including the conversion or exchange of Fiat Currency or other value into Virtual Currency, the conversion or exchange of Virtual Currency into Fiat Currency or other value, or the conversion or exchange of one form of Virtual Currency into another form of Virtual Currency;
    • Buying and selling Virtual Currency as a customer business (as distinct from personal use); or
    • Controlling, administering, or issuing a Virtual Currency. (Note: This does not refer to virtual currency miners.)

  • 2. While the NY DFS' press release clearly states that miners will not need to get a license, the regulations themselves are not nearly so clear.

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Malicious Anti-Iranian Propaganda

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 07:09
Malicious Anti-Iranian Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure. Big Lies persist with disturbing regularity.
It's been this way for 35 years. Washington tolerates no independent governments. Nor does Israel, its Lobby and other supportive organizations.
They want pro-Western vassal states worldwide. They want sovereign independence destroyed. 
They want unchallenged control. They want monied interests served. They want ordinary people exploited.
The second Tehran New Horizon Conference was held from September 29 - October 1. Participants included academics, writers, authors and journalists.
They came from numerous countries. Middle East issues were discussed. Ongoing events explained why.
Participants dispelled Western propaganda. It's unrelenting. It features Big Lies. 
Hard truths readers and viewers most need to know are buried. It's longstanding scoundrel media policy.
The American Jewish Committee is one of the oldest advocacy organizations of its kind in America.
The New York Times calls it "the dean of American Jewish organizations." It's notoriously anti-Iranian.
On October 2, it headlined "AJC: Iran Conference Promotes Hatred of Jews, Israel." It turned truth on its head saying so.
Press TV explained. It said the purpose of Tehran's New Horizon Conference was "to unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics."
It "showcased films at the festival represented Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime, war threats against Iran and anti-war movements, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Iranophobia and Islamophobia, a world without Zionism, and (one) without terrorism and atomic weapons."
It provided a platform for independent observers. It let them express their views freely and openly. 
Polar opposite what goes on in America. Freedom is increasingly threatened. Democracy is pure fantasy. 
Fundamental rights are eroding in plain sight. Police state lawlessness persists. Monied interests alone benefit.
Permanent war is official policy. Iran's governance shames America's. AJC Executive Director David Harris lied, saying:
New Horizons Conference "is proof-positive that the government of Iran has not mitigated its deeply entrenched hostility towards Jews and the State of Israel."
"Iran, even under the supposedly moderate President Rouhani, remains intent on achieving the capacity to build nuclear weapons, actively supporting Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, and promoting venomous hatred of Jews."
Fact: Sixteen US intelligence agencies annually say no Iranian nuclear weapons program exists.
Fact: No evidence suggests one.
Fact: None exists.
Fact: Hamas is no terrorist organization.
Fact: Nor is Hezbollah.
Fact: They're democratically elected Palestinian and Lebanese government representatives respectively.
Fact: So-called "venomous" Jew-hating doesn't exist. 
Fact: Nor are threats made about wanting Israel destroyed.
Washington Post editorial policy fell from grace long ago. Credibility no longer exists. Watergate-type exposes are verboten.
Editorial policy fronts for power. Extreme hawkishness defines it. New owner Jeff Bezos has CIA ties. He's in bed with the devil. 
He was bought. Paid off. He got a $600 million CIA contract.
It's double what he paid for WaPo. At the time, he said: "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."
Perhaps it involves much more than meets the eye. He expects lots more business. For sure CIA officials want plenty back besides Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Bezos' disturbing history curries favor with national security officials. After WikiLeaks published State Department cables, AWS removed them.
WaPo should explain Bezos' CIA connection. Readers should know its editorial policy is biased. 
It's propaganda. It turns truth on its head. It's corrupted. It's illegitimate. It's bought and paid for. 
WaPo is a CIA house organ. It regurgitates official policy. It's militantly anti-Iranian.
It commented on New Horizon headlining "Obama clueless on Iran once again." International "Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites (met) in Tehran." 
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) demagoguery, hate-mongering and Islamophobia are longstanding.
Its claims about promoting human rights ring hollow. It eschews them altogether. 
It supports Israeli genocidal high crimes against peace. It does so unapologetically.
WaPo quoted ADL calling New Horizon participants "an international assortment of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites." 
It's "part of (Iran's) 13th International Resistance Film Festival.Last year, the conference’s cancellation was attributed to the 'more moderate' tone of the new government of President Hassan Rouhani."
According to ADL national director Abe Foxman, "(T)his conference provides yet another example of how the Iranian government facilitates the spread of global anti-Semitism."
"Participation by an international assortment of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites is de rigueur for these types of events."
"A disturbing new element in this anti-Jewish gathering is the appearance on the guest list of a few high visibility US antiwar and anti-Israel activists who claim their positions are not motivated by anti-Semitism." 
"It will be harder for them to make that claim now, given their open collusion with this event and its Iranian government sponsors."
Republican extremist Mark Kirk is Illinois's junior senator. His views are over-the-top and then some. 
He's in lockstep with imperial lawlessness. He wants war on Iran. According to National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founder Trita Parsi:
He wants what he won't admit publicly. Only privately. Parsi wants lawless sanctions removed. Kirk wants more piled on. 
He wants the Islamic Republic destroyed. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing it.
WaPo quoted him saying:
"The so-called "New Horizon' conference in Tehran proves why the current Iranian regime under President Hassan Rouhani is, at its core, no less extremist and dangerous than the regime under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." 
"The conference's participants promoted anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and were even greeted on day one by high-ranking Iranian cleric Mohsen Ghomi, a close advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who falsely alleged that ‘American officials are puppets of the Zionist lobby.' "
"It's critical that US Administration officials, who are desperately offering ever more dangerous nuclear concessions to get Iran to accept a watered-down nuclear deal, open their eyes to the true nature of the current Iranian regime."
WaPo and other media scoundrels publish this type rubbish regularly. With disturbing regularity. They betray their readers in the process.
The Jerusalem Post is a notorious right-wing Israeli publication. According to a former reporter:
Its "problem is that politics enters news coverage, choice of stories, language, often in ways they might not even begin to realize."
Much of its reporting is irresponsible. Its partisanship at times is way over-the-top. Israeli broadsheets are considered the most effective way to preach partisan politics.
According to one Israeli writer, "to make sure the party's followers  (get) 'correct' educational guidance."
JP called New Horizon "a hatefest." It turned truth on its head saying so. It supports Israel's worst crimes. It considers its genocidal high crimes against peace self-defense.
It calls legitimate Palestinian self-defense terrorism. Its mindless of Gazan suffering. It buries vital truths. It ignores what readers most need to know.
Western New Horizon reporting made yellow journalism look good by comparison. Independent sources explained things right.
Iran wants freedom to live in peace. Sovereign states deserve it and much more.
America and Israel want imperial dominance. No two nations throughout history devoted so much firepower to mass slaughter and destruction.
None over a longer duration. None cause more human misery.
Saving humanity depends on stopping them before it's too late. World peace hangs by a thread.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Act Now: California Public Utilities Commission Will Take A Stand On Net Neutrality Tomorrow

eff.org - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 05:37

UPDATE: Just hours before the California Public Utilities Commission was scheduled to vote on whether or not the powerful state regulator would support the FCC's deeply flawed net neutrality proposal, the item was removed from today's agenda. This is the second time a vote on this issue has been delayed by the CPUC. In anticipation of today's vote, the state regulator received over 3,000 emails from Californians demanding protection from discrimination by Internet providers and advocates planned to deliver a petition with 11,000 signatures to the CPUC at today's meeting. Although the FCC's official comment window has closed, the federal agency has not closed the docket and continues to accept input.

When it comes to the Internet, Californians are pioneers. There’s a reason EFF chose to make its home in San Francisco, and that so many path-breaking new technologies and businesses were born in this state. Tomorrow the state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is scheduled to decide whether to do its part to protect those pioneers – and the next technologies and businesses being incubated right now in someone’s basement, dorm room, or lab – by supporting real net neutrality.

Specifically, the CPUC is debating whether to endorse the Federal Communication Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules. As we’ve explained, the FCC’s proposal is a bad idea that would not only do little to help protect the open Internet, it is likely to actually damage it by clearing the way for the creation of Internet “fast lanes.”

The CPUC is one of the nation’s largest and most influential utility regulators, and there’s little question that every telecommunications company is lobbying hard to convince the CPUC to come out in favor of the FCC rules.

But pay-for-play Internet isn’t a future we’ll accept. That’s why it’s we’re calling on our fellow Californians to make sure the CPUC knows that it must not back the FCC’s proposal to allow for ISPs to discriminate against how we access certain websites.

If the CPUC is serious about creating sound policy that truly reflects the needs of the educators, entrepreneurs, artists, families, and everyday people who rely on the Internet, the utilities commission will do the right thing and come out in favor of classifying the Internet as a telecommunications service at the FCC. Doing so would give the FCC the power to stop ISPs from unfairly impeding our access to parts of the Net.

But we aren’t sure that the CPUC is going to do the right thing here, especially given the pressure they are receiving from the telecom industry. So they need our help.

Californians have been the most vocal in the net neutrality debate at the national level. It’s time to make our voices heard here at home. Let’s make sure the CPUC understands what the Californians have been demanding all year: It's time to take real steps to protect the open Internet, beginning with reclassification.

The Internet is how we communicate with those we love; it’s how we learn and build our future. Please take action right now, before it’s too late.

Please note, this link will redirect you from the EFF website to an action by our friends at Media Alliance, a Bay Area based media justice organization.

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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