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WikiLeaks Revelations from Hillary's Highly-Paid Wall Street Speeches - Sun, 09/10/2016 - 02:44
WikiLeaks Revelations from Hillary’s Highly-Paid Wall Street Speeches
by Stephen Lendman
Hillary’s persona in public and private are polar opposites. Comments in highly-paid speeches reveal the true mettle a deplorable aspirant for any public office.
Publicly with cameras rolling, she’s for middle class values, helping America’s poor and lots more lofty pledges. In speeches to Wall Street firms, paying her six-figure remuneration fees as high as half a million dollars or more at times, she admits support for monied interests, explaining she’s “far removed” from middle class struggles she knows little or nothing about, or cares - showing as president she’ll serve wealth, power and privileged interests exclusively, the needs of ordinary people be damned.
Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk’s concern about likely negative impact of her private comments revealed public got him to email campaign chairman John Podesta the following potential damaging headlines last January:
“CLINTON REMARKS ARE PRO KEYSTONE AND PRO (free, anti-fair) TRADE (meaning pro-TPP and TTIP, among other anti-consumer, anti-freedom, anti-ecosanity trade deals), along with other revelations exposing her real agenda.
Publicly she criticizes Wall Street. Privately she pledges full support. Publicly she bashes regimes like Saudi Arabia. Privately she’s for all rogue states allied with Washington’s imperial agenda.
Publicly and privately she’s militantly anti-Russia, anti-China, anti-Iran, anti-world peace and stability, assuring escalated conflicts if anointed Obama’s successor.
“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with (regulatory-free) open trade and open borders,” she explains - corporate predators free to exploit nations, markets and ordinary people for their own self-interest.
Clinton represents powerful anti-democratic interests exclusively, while pretending concern for middle class values and ordinary people she doesn’t give a damn about.
Her deplorable rap includes nothing redeeming. America under her leadership, if anointed president by fair or foul means, assures greater war on humanity at home and abroad than already - maybe explosive enough to threaten everyone worldwide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

NYT Sleaziness - Sun, 09/10/2016 - 02:31
NYT Sleaziness
by Stephen Lendman
The Times’ latest anti-Trump tirade highlighted his womanizing history, citing boastful sexual comments, made heading for a cameo soap opera appearance over 20 years ago. 
Its editorial titled The Sleaziness of Donald Trump showed how low it’s willing to stoop to defeat him in November - failing to explain numerous past US presidents had extramarital affairs, including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, among others.
Many members of Congress and Washington bureaucrats had indiscretions, likely many fourth estate members with much to hide.
During earlier presidential campaigns, little or nothing was reported about the private lives of aspirants - or throughout their tenure. 
So why now, singling out Trump for special opprobrium? Why him alone? Vilifying him relentlessly is clear evidence of Times sleaziness, a daily pejorative tirade - one-sidedly supporting war goddess, racketeer, perjurer Hillary, a woman belonging in prison, not high office.
Husband Bill was, and likely remains, a notorious womanizer. Half a dozen or more women called him a sexual predator. Former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey accused him of sexually assaulting her in his Oval Office private study.
She wasn’t the only one, numerous other women making similar accusations, several saying they were raped.
Not an issue for The Times, focusing its venom on Trump at home, Putin abroad, and other independent leaders Washington wants replaced by US-controlled puppet ones.
Its one-sided support for Hillary mocks legitimate journalism, transforming it into press agent PR promotion - sleaze by any standard.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

The Big Lie Alleging Russia Cyberattacking America Resurfaces in Baseless Formal Charges - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 22:12
The Big Lie Alleging Russia Cyberattacking America Resurfaces in Baseless Formal Charges
by Stephen Lendman
An irresponsible October 7 joint Department of Homeland Security/Director of National Intelligence (DHS/DNI) statement formally charged Russia with cyberattacks “intended to interfere with the US election process” - no evidence cited because none exists.
Charges are baseless, following earlier ones intended to divert attention from clear evidence of DNC primary election rigging - favoring Hillary over Sanders, perhaps handing her the Democrat party nomination fraudulent, an indication of what may follow in November.
Lodging false formal charges also reflects longstanding irresponsible Russia bashing, rhetoric growing dangerously more heated, especially over Moscow’s role in Syria - a noble mission combating US-sponsored terrorism and its regional imperial agenda.
Charges against Russia are politically motivated - if made in an independent tribunal would be thrown out straightaway for lack of credibility. They’re baseless, more proof of things heading recklessly toward open confrontation.
The joint DHS/DNI statement, claiming “confiden(ce)” about Russia cyberattacking “US political organizations” is absurd on its face.
No evidence of Russian interference with electoral politics anywhere exists - not in America, Europe or elsewhere.
In contrast, Washington illegally meddles in the internal affairs of other countries worldwide - politically, economically and militarily.
Fact: Russia respects the sovereignty of all nations - polar opposite America’s aim for unchallenged global dominance.
Fact: Russia scrupulously observes international laws, norms and standards. America consistently breaches them.
Fact: Russia favors multi-world polarity - mutual cooperation among all nations. America wants dominion over planet earth - asserting it by pressure, bullying intimidation and brute force.
DHS/DNI claiming WikiLeaks and other sensitive ”thefts and disclosures” of US political activities “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts” is pure rubbish.
If confirming evidence existed, it would have been presented. Its absence exposes another US Russia bashing Big Lie. It followed John Kerry shamelessly accusing Moscow of war crimes in Syria - saying its (vital anti-terrorism mission) “begs for an appropriate investigation…”
Russia responded, calling his comments “propaganda,” diverting attention from US sabotaging efforts for ceasefire and conflict resolution in Syria.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharov expressed official outrage, saying “(b)y making statements equating Russia’s actions in Syria with war crimes, the US State Department should understand that this may all end with a national referendum in Russia with one question: ‘Shouldn’t we just turn off telephones in the Foreign Ministry?’ “
“The American side” undermined Geneva ceasefire terms - more proof showing its policymakers want war, not peace, heading things toward reckless escalation.
On Saturday, Security Council members will vote on a French resolution, containing unacceptable provisions on Aleppo - Russia sure to veto it, UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, saying “I don’t see how we could possibly admit adoption of that resolution.”
Certain Russia bashing will follow. It’s submitting an alternative draft proposal - expressing support for letting al-Nusra terrorists leave Aleppo voluntarily, retain their weapons, and proceed unimpeded for other parts of Syria.
It calls on all sides to implement and observe Geneva ceasefire terms and create conditions for delivering humanitarian aid wherever needed.
A Final Comment
No one more deserves peace prize recognition than Vladimir Putin - preeminent among world leaders in working for conflict resolution in Syria and Ukraine.
Acknowledging his efforts, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro announced “creat(ion) (of) the Hugo Chavez prize for peace and sovereignty…Vladimir Putin deserves this…award…a fighter for peace,” he explained.
He stands in marked contrast to Norway’s Nobel Committee awarding its 2016 Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos - a notorious narco-terrorist.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

NYT Hypes False Accusations of Russian Cyberattacks to Influence US Elections - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 21:59
NYT Hypes False Accusations of Russian Cyberattacks to Influence US Elections
by Stephen Lendman
Instead of debunking politically motivated false charges, a deplorable New York Times feature article highlighted them.
Claiming revelations from WikiLeaks, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 are “associated with Russian intelligence” is one among numerous other Big Lies, bashing its government irresponsibly.
The formal accusation followed John Kerry shamelessly calling for Moscow and Damascus to be investigated for war crimes in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria - accusing their forces of crimes committed by US-supported terrorists, along with Pentagon-led “coalition” warplanes.
The Times failed to explain baseless accusations in both cases - no credible evidence supporting them, politically motivated propaganda substituting for hard truths consistently suppressed.
A separate motive is vilifying Trump for calling Putin a better leader than Obama, one of many ways of denigrating him - continuing one-sided support for Hillary.
He’s right about things likely rigged to anoint her Obama’s successor - her anti-Russia posture and rage for war a prescription for possible direct confrontation.
Separately, Wall Street Journal editors shamelessly bashed Putin, highlighting baseless DHS/DNI accusations of US electoral meddling, along with Kerry shamelessly calling for investigations into (nonexistent) Syrian and Russian war crimes.
Barely stopping short of urging war on Russia, Journal editors asked “will Mr. Obama continue to let Mr. Putin get away with” what he’s (falsely) accused of.
Fact: The whole world knows Russia had nothing to do with hacking DNC emails. Nor does any evidence show it interferes in the electoral processes of any nations.
Fact: Russia and Syria are courageously combatting US-supported terrorism, a cancer vital to defeat.
Fact: Washington, its rogue partners and terrorist groups they support alone continue committing war crimes in Syria - suppressed by The Times, Wall Street Journal and other Western media scoundrels.
A previous article asked if war between the world’s dominant nuclear powers is inevitable? Will Hillary, Obama’s likely successor, launch it?
Are things headed for a doomsday scenario? Former French leader Georges Clemenceau once said “(w)ar is too important to be left to the generals.”
Today he might have added nor to lunatic neocons infesting Washington!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Hurricane Matthew Devastates Haiti - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 21:41
Hurricane Matthew Devastates Haiti
by Stephen Lendman
Long-suffering Haitians aren’t strangers to horrific adversity, anguish, and conditions creating intolerable hardships few people living normal lives elsewhere can understand.
Except briefly after their successful 1804 revolution and later governance under Jean-Bertrand Aristide - twice democratically elected, ousted by a US-supported 1991 military coup, a second time by George Bush’s 2004 coup d’etat - they’ve been victimized by imperial harshness, their nation exploited and plundered by US-led Western monied interests.
An earlier article explained they’ve experienced over 500 years of oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, crushing debt, devastating cholera, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to a dozen regional magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquakes.
They’ve yet to recover from calamitous 2010 earthquake conditions, killing hundreds of thousands, injuring many more, disrupting millions of lives already overwhelmed by daily hardships - followed by deadly cholera introduced by repressive UN MINUSTAH occupying forces, affecting hundreds of thousands more, responsible for around 30,000 deaths.
And now Hurricane Matthew. A Saturday AM Reuters report put the death toll so far at around 900, countless others injured, tens of thousands displaced by deadly winds and devastating flooding, their homes and possessions destroyed.
It’ll be days, maybe weeks, before the full toll of deaths, injuries and destruction is known - humanitarian aid desperately needed quickly.
An Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti/Bureau des Advocats Internationaux (IJDH/BAI) statement on Hurricane Matthew said their teams are safe.
Information isn’t so far known on the storm’s toll in “hard hit southwest” areas. Increased cholera illnesses and deaths are certain. “Donating funds to local Haitian grassroots groups and Haitian-led initiatives” is the best way to help.
Storm damage and destruction affected virtually all southwestern areas, everything not concrete now rubble, lifeless fishing villages submerged under water.
Tens of thousands of Haitians desperately need help, the hemisphere’s poorest, least developed country again facing adversity like so many previous times.
Devastated farmland alone affects Haiti’s food security, Heifer International NGO director Hervil Cherubin, explaining most crops are gone. “Many…farm fields are like landfills…full of trash, seawater, gravel and other debris.”
Will disaster capitalism exploit Haiti more than already, profiting from human misery, diverting donor funds for private gain, desperate people abandoned like so many times before - forgotten once Hurricane Matthew no longer is news?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

USA FREEDOM Act Requires Government to Declassify Any Order to Yahoo - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 09:08

In the wake of reports this week that the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Yahoo to scan all of its users’ email in 2015, there are many unanswered legal and technical questions about the mass surveillance.

But before we can even begin to answer them, there is a more fundamental question: what does the court order say?

We should be able to answer this question. Section 402 of the USA FREEDOM Act, passed in June 2015, specifically requires government officials to “conduct a declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion issued” by the FISC “that includes a significant construction or interpretation of any provision of law.” The Yahoo order would appear to fall squarely within this provision.

Congress passed Section 402 to end decades of secret FISC-created law after learning that the court was interpreting federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution in secret and without the benefit of any other voices to counter arguments by the Executive Branch.

Both the text of Section 402 and statements from members of Congress who authored and supported it make clear that the law places new, affirmative obligations on the government to go back, review decades of secret orders and opinions, and make the significant ones public. This is exactly what ranking House Judiciary Member Representative John Conyers of Michigan said (video link): USA FREEDOM required the declassification of all significant FISC opinions.

If the reports about the Yahoo order are accurate – including requiring the company to custom build new software to accomplish the scanning  – it’s hard to imagine a better candidate for declassification and disclosure under Section 402. Given the divergent media reports about what the FISC required Yahoo to do, it is crucial for the public to see the order.

So why isn’t the order public?

The biggest reason is the Department of Justice has refused to comply with the text of the statute and, as far as we know, has not even begun declassification reviews of any significant FISC opinions issued prior to USA FREEDOM’s passage. DOJ attorneys have argued in litigation with EFF that the statute is not retroactive and thus only requires the government to declassify significant opinions issued after June 2015.

Although we don’t know the exact date of the Yahoo order, the stories indicate that the scanning began sometime in spring 2015, which would be a few months prior to passage of USA FREEDOM. Thus, under DOJ’s view, Section 402 wouldn’t apply to the Yahoo order.

But it is irrelevant that the Yahoo order may have been issued earlier in 2015 before the passage of USA FREEDOM. DOJ’s cramped interpretation of the law conflicts with Congress’ explicit command in Section 402 that the government must review “each” significant FISC opinion, declassify and release it. There is no start date in the text to support the DOJ’s reading.

The DOJ’s view also conflicts with one of the chief advocates for greater FISC transparency, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who on Friday called for the government to release the Yahoo order because it is required to under USA FREEDOM.

EFF is fighting the DOJ’s incorrect interpretation of Section 402 in court right now. We hope that the court will dismiss DOJ’s wrongheaded view of the statute and require it to declassify and release all significant opinions the FISC has issued since its inception, including the one issued to Yahoo.

Releasing the Yahoo opinion will help us begin to answer the bigger questions about the Yahoo order and its dubious constitutionality. Releasing all significant FISC opinions will not only comply with what Congress required under USA FREEDOM, it will help us better understand exactly what the FISC has secretly decided about our civil liberties.

Related Cases: Yahoo's Challenge to the Protect America Act in the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review
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Categories: Aggregated News

Briefing Unsealed in Court Battle Over National Security Letters - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 05:36
EFF Argues that NSL Secrecy Violates First Amendment and Chills Debate on Government Surveillance

San Francisco - An appeals court published redacted briefing by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today arguing that national security letters (NSLs) and their accompanying gag orders violate the free speech rights of companies who want to keep their users informed about government surveillance.

EFF represents two service providers in challenging the NSL statutes in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Most of the proceedings have been sealed since the case began five years ago, but some redacted documents have been released after government approval.

“Just this week we’ve seen Open Whisper Systems—the company behind the Signal messaging service—successfully fight a government gag order attached to a subpoena for customer information. Meanwhile, Yahoo is facing criticism for allowing the government wide-ranging access to its users’ communications,” said EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker. “Our clients want to join this conversation, using their own experiences as a basis to talk about what kind of government surveillance is appropriate and what reform is needed—but NSL gags prevent them from doing so. We’re asking the court to strike down this unconstitutional statute so we can have the robust and inclusive debate that this issue deserves.”

The NSL statutes have been highly controversial since their use was expanded under the USA PATRIOT Act. With an NSL, the FBI—on its own, and without court approval—can issue a secret letter to a communications provider, demanding information about its customers. In this case and nearly all others, the NSL is issued in conjunction with a gag order, preventing the companies from notifying users of the demand or discussing the letter at all. Congress changed some parts of the statute in 2015, but retained the basic elements of the gags. In fact, EFF’s clients still cannot identify themselves publicly or share their experiences as part of the debate over government surveillance of technology services.

“Our clients want to be able to issue accurate transparency reports and talk to their customers about how they try to defend users from overreaching government investigations,” Crocker said. “But instead, the FBI instituted indefinite gag orders to shield its demands for information. This is an unconstitutional restriction of our clients’ First Amendment rights.”

For the full redacted brief:

For more on national security letters:

Contact:  AndrewCrockerStaff
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Russia's Indefinite Aerial Deployment in Syria While US Aggression Rages - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 03:07
Russia’s Indefinite Aerial Deployment in Syria While US Aggression Rages
by Stephen Lendman
Russia’s geopolitical agenda is polar opposite America’s - supporting world peace, stability and security, in contrast to US war on humanity.
On Friday, Moscow’s lower house State Duma ratified a Russian/Syrian agreement for indefinite deployment of aerial task force warplanes and supportive ground personnel - signed in Damascus on August 26, 2015.
It affirms Russia’s military presence in Syria at the behest of its government, operating at the Kmeimin airbase in Latakai province - its forces to be deployed at its commander’s discretion, according to agreement with Damascus.
“Armaments, ammunition, equipment and materials necessary for the fulfillment of appropriate tasks by the Russian air group, for ensuring security and vital functions of its personnel, are delivered to Syria without any charges or tariffs,” Moscow explained. 
“Russian air group personnel freely cross the border, and are not subject to any checks by Syrian border control or customs authorities.”
Russian personnel and family members are granted immunity similar to what’s afforded diplomats, including protection of property, archives and transport vehicles.
The agreement became effective on date of signing, Russian forces deployed to combat the scourge of terrorism, working to restoring peace and stability to a war-torn country.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

America Wants War, Not Peace, Says Assad - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 02:55
America Wants War, Not Peace, Says Syria’s Assad
by Stephen Lendman
America’s agenda in Syria is clear to everyone following daily events - wanting war, not peace, regime change, not respect for sovereign independent governance, no matter the cost in human lives, vast destruction and appalling widespread misery.
If US policymakers wanted peace as they claim, why did they wage naked aggression in the first place, using terrorist fighters to massacre civilians, committing horrific atrocities?
Why did they up to now continue the charade of diplomatic efforts for conflict resolution? Why did Pentagon warplanes massacre Syrian soldiers after Geneva ceasefire terms were consummated - falsely calling mass-murder a mistake when the whole world knows it was a deliberate effort to sabotage peace, or should?
Why do US policymakers and their spokespersons threaten escalated war? Interviewed by Denmark’s TV 2 channel, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave straight talk answers like he always does in discussing war on his country.
Syrian forces don’t launch attacks, he said - in Aleppo or anywhere else. They’re involved in “liberating every part of Syria” from terrorist-held areas.
Foreign-supported extremists are responsible for dire conditions in Aleppo and elsewhere nationwide - Damascus and Russia falsely blamed.
In terrorist-controlled areas, horrific conditions existed for years, defenseless civilians suffering from war related violence and other high crimes. “(B)ut we only heard about that ‘dire situation’ in the (Western) media recently” because terrorists are suffering, Assad explained.
Damascus never prevented food, medical supplies or other life essentials “from entering east Aleppo” or anywhere else. “There’s no embargo,” said Assad. It’s government’s responsibility “to encircle the terrorists…to liberate every part of the city.”
Assad debunked false accusations about Syrian forces bombing hospitals and killing civilians. He explained how Western media ignore daily terrorist shellings responsible for civilian carnage.
What strategic benefit could Damascus or Moscow possibly achieve by attacking civilian targets? America and its rogue allies benefit greatly by blaming their countries for terrorists’ crimes, compounded by Pentagon terror-bombing.
Assad blasted unconscionable Western propaganda, irresponsible misreporting throughout years of conflict, despicable turning truth on its head.
He remains president because of overwhelming popular support, he explained. Without it he wouldn’t have remained in power.
He’ll continue going all-out to liberate all parts of Aleppo and other terrorist-controlled areas. As president, he’s mandated to do it.
“There’s no other option,” he stressed. “We won’t accept that terrorists will take control of any part of Syria…This is our mission…our goal…”
He absolutely prefers diplomatic conflict resolution over war. Anti-government forces laying down their arms are guaranteed amnesty, free “to go back to their normal life.”
He knew Russia/US talks would fail because Washington wants war, not peace. The so-called “moderate opposition is a myth…(Y)ou cannot separate something that doesn’t exist from something that exists.” All anti-government forces are terrorists, he stressed.
He’s “worrie(d)” about hawkish extremists in Washington urging attacks on Syria’s military, risking possible confrontation with Russia.
Syria’s sovereignty is threatened. Assad’s constitutional mandate is defending the nation and its people by combating foreign-supported terrorists - hoping diplomatic conflict resolution will follow.
“I wish we can solve everything politically…but it’s not about what I wish. It’s about the facts on the ground,” he stressed.
A Final Comment
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakhavova bluntly said regime change in Syria, if successful, would unleash an aftermath “tens of times” worse than Libyan violence and chaos - a stark warning for what to expect if US-supported terrorism isn’t defeated.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

13 Courageous Women Activists Challenge Israeli Pure Evil - Sat, 08/10/2016 - 02:33
13 Courageous Women Activists Challenge Israeli Pure Evil
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed how courageous activists aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva Women’s Boat to Gaza aimed to symbolically break Israel’s lawless siege - imposed solely for political reasons over nine years ago, holding 1.9 million Palestinians hostage to its viciousness.
Interdiction was certain. High-seas piracy followed in international waters, the women onboard abducted and detained - deportation to follow at Israel’s discretion.
Two Al Jazeera journalists were released, returning home to London and Moscow, 11 others awaiting deportation after being moved from harsh Givon prison detention to a Ben Gurion airport facility.
Wendy Goldsmith involved in securing their release said “deportation is happening much quicker than in previous flotillas. While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception, including the demand of rock band Pink Floyd.”
According to reports of what happened, the women, protected by their redoubtable spirit alone, were surrounded by two Israeli warships along with four or five other naval vessels.
Demands to cease heading for Gaza were ignored, after which male and female commandos forcefully boarded the Yaytouna-Oliva, illegally seizing it, taking it to the port city of Ashdod.
Ahead of what happened on Thursday, activists prepared pre-recorded messages. Former US army colonel/diplomat Ann Wright said “(i)f you’re seeing this, this means the Israeli occupation forces have kidnapped me in international waters and taken me to Israel.”
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire explained “(i)f you’re listening to this, then you will know that myself and all of the women who sailed on the women’s boat to Gaza have been arrested and are in detention in Israel.”
Harsh Israeli treatment is nothing to take lightly, what millions of Palestinians can attest to better than anyone - longstanding victims of institutionalized barbarism.
Women’s Boat to Gaza activists got a taste of their horrific daily suffering, many killed, tortured or confined to gulag internment harshness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Narco-State Terrorist Wins Nobel Peace Prize - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 21:51
Narco-State Terrorist Wins Nobel Peace Prize
by Stephen Lendman
Notable peace activists needn’t apply. Despicable war criminals time and again become Nobel Peace Prize honorees.
This year was no exception, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos the latest recipient for negotiating dubious peace with FARC-EP freedom fighters.
James Petras earlier called them “the longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world…founded in 1964…legitimate resistance” against ruthless Colombian repression.
He described years of Uribe/Santos state terror against “over 2 million mostly rural poor…forcibly uprooted and driven from their homes and land and displaced across frontiers into neighboring countries, or to urban slums.”
Regime military forces aided by paramilitary death squads “kill(ed) and terrorize(d) entire population centers…”
Santos became Colombia’s 32nd president in August 2010, earlier serving from July 2006 - May 2009, as President Alvaro Uribe’s defense minister.
Both men were involved in narco-terrorism, responsible for murdering thousands of trade unionists, campesinos, human rights workers, journalists, and others opposing ruthless regime policies, along with maintaining close ties to US imperialism.
Former UN Human Rights Rapporteur, Margaret Sekaggya called Colombia under Uribe/Santos a sinkhole of “illegal surveillance…arbitrary arrests and detentions…judicial harassment,” extrajudicial assassinations, and other ruthless practices against anyone resisting regime ruthlessness.
In announcing its award, the Nobel Committee praised Santos, a major human rights violating serial killer, citing “his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, (taking) at least 220,000 (lives) and displacing (around) six million people.” 
Most Colombian voters rejected ceasefire terms Santos and FARC-EP leader Rodrigo Londono agreed to by referendum. Longstanding state-terrorism remains a weapon to be used by Santos or his eventual successors any time at their discretion.
Peace may turn out more illusory than real. Regardless what lies ahead, rewarding Santos’ involvement in years of state terror is more evidence of deplorable Nobel hypocrisy.
War criminals aren’t peace champions, yet repeatedly win Nobel honors - Committee members making a mockery of their highest award, again this year like so many previous ones.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Is US War on Russia Inevitable? - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 21:41
Is US War on Russia Inevitable?
by Stephen Lendman
A distant nation geopolitically ignorant Americans knew nothing about years earlier became a hugely dangerous global flashpoint.
Russia and America are intractably on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict - US naked aggression, systematically raping the country, imported death squads involved, ISIS, Nusra and other terrorists called “moderates.”
Russia’s intervention in September 2015 changed the dynamic on the ground, challenging US imperial interests effectively, gaining a military and geopolitical advantage - why US officials upped the ante, making ominous threats about terror-bombing Syrian forces without Security Council authorization, unattainable because of Sino/Russia veto power.
Comments by US officials and their spokespersons about weighing all options against Assad seem headed inevitably toward direct confrontation between the world’s dominant nuclear powers - madness if occurs, a potential doomsday scenario.
Russia won’t tolerate US actions threatening its aircraft, ships off Syria’s coast or ground personnel. Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said any unidentified flying threats will be targeted and destroyed. Provocations will be confronted appropriately.
On Thursday, Sergey Lavrov expressed concern about hawks influencing US policies, Russia’s good faith efforts for conflict resolution in Syria consistently undermined, things headed for greater aggression than already, risking East/West confrontation.
Interviewed on Russian television, Syrian ambassador to Moscow Riyad Haddad said his government will continue cooperating with Moscow until the scourge of “terrorism and extremism” are defeated.
Washington’s objective is polar opposite. Russia’s diplomatic conflict resolution efforts failed because US policymakers spurn them, wanting war, not peace.
Syria is being raped and destroyed. Endless war continues for regime change. Hillary Clinton represents Washington’s lunatic fringe, an unapologetic war goddess.
With her ascension to power in 2017 likely, escalated conflict is virtually certain, perhaps involving inevitable US/Russia clashes - the unthinkable possibility of nuclear war.
I believe WW III began with the 1999 rape of Yugoslavia, escalated post-9/11 against all countries Washington attacked. 
Things are heading for a showdown with Russia, China and Iran, followed by a mass awakening to the reality of another global war underway with super-weapons able to destroy life on earth.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Media Scoundrels Promote Escalated Aggression in Syria - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 21:19
Media Scoundrels Promote Escalated Aggression in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Misinformation, deception and Big Lies fuel wars of aggression. America’s permanent war agenda couldn’t be sustained without manipulating the public mind to go along with what otherwise would be opposed.
Media scoundrels function as administration and Pentagon press agents, their support key to enlisting popular support, an ignorant/indifferent public easy to deceive no matter how many times before later revealed.
Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance. Endless wars threaten everyone. Escalating them risks explosive global conflict - sooner or later with super-weapons able to kill us all.
Instead of responsibly explaining reckless policies endangering everyone, media scoundrels urge escalated wars, wanting planet earth turned into more of a battleground than already - madness unlike anything before preceding it, a devastating endgame virtually certain if America’s rage for dominance isn’t challenged and stopped.
Not a hint of it in prospect, things headed recklessly in the wrong direction, a slippery slope to catastrophe - media scoundrels complicit in accelerating war on humanity.
Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was based on his own Spanish Civil War experiences. In times of raging US wars of aggression, headed for greater carnage than already, it tolls for thee - a nightmarish omen media scoundrels ignore, encouraging instead of denouncing imperial madness.
The New York Times is in the forefront of perpetuating the myth of nonexistent Syrian “civil war,” mindless of naked US aggression, ravaging a sovereign independent nation - portraying democratically elected/overwhelming popular Assad as a “brutal dictator…desperate to retain power.”
Moscow “seek(s) increase(d) clout…Iran…exercis(es) regional muscle…The government’s Aleppo offensive has moved aggressively in the past week, worsening an epic humanitarian crisis. Syrian or Russian airstrikes have hit seven hospitals and killed hundreds of civilians.”
Fact: The Times and other media scoundrels call US-supported terrorists “moderate rebels” - knowing none exist.
Fact: America’s imperial agenda bears full responsibility for endless war, devastation and humanitarian crisis conditions in war-torn Syria.
Fact: Russia, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters are on the right side of history, combating the scourge of US imperial ruthlessness.
Fact: US-supported terrorists along with Pentagon and coalition partners in high crimes bear full responsibility for attacking hospitals and other civilian targets - Russian and Syrian forces committed to protecting them.
Wall Street Journal editors blame Washington for not escalating greater war on Syria, saying “Obama doomed…a better outcome” by failing to involve US combat troops “or establish(ing) no-fly/no-drive zones” - without explaining the illegality of these actions, besides years of US proxy aggression, flagrant breaches of international and constitutional law.
No “Syrian revolt” occurred as Journal editors falsely claim. No “moderate rebels” exist. No prospect for conflict resolution as long as Washington wants war - media scoundrels supporting what demands denunciation.
The neocon Washington Post has a deplorable array of uber-hawks, Charles Krauthammer one of its worst. His latest broadside blasted Obama for not being more aggressive in Syria, disgracefully blaming Assad for ongoing genocidal US policy.
“At the outset of the war, we could have bombed Assad’s airfields and destroyed his aircraft, eliminat(ing) (his) major strategic advantage - control of the air,” he ranted.
“Obama did nothing before.” With Russia involved, “(h)e will surely do nothing now…(T)he shame is palpable.”
This type rubbish and daily volumes more like it manipulate public sentiment to support naked US aggression - portrayed as humanitarian intervention.
How much longer will US war on humanity rage before explosive conflict dooms us all?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

FCC Helped Create the Stingray Problem, Now it Needs to Fix It - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 10:23
It is long overdue for the FCC to address Stingrays' impact on speech, interference with 911 calls, and invasion of privacy.

FCC Helped Create the Stingray Problem, Now it Needs to Fix It

It is long overdue for the FCC to address Stingrays' impact on speech, interference with 911 calls, and invasion of privacy.

EFF recently joined with the American Civil Liberties Union in a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of a complaint filed against the Baltimore Police Department for illegal usage of a surveillance technology, often called “Stingray,” that spies on our cell phones by simulating a cellular tower. A dozen U.S. Senators led by Senators Franken, Leahy, and Wyden have also recently weighed in with the FCC on the need to investigate the issue along with any disproportionate impacts on communities of color who are more dependent on wireless broadband as their only means to communicate. We think the time has come for FCC action as the grave problems of harmful communications interference, disrupted access to emergency 911 services, and invasions of privacy reach beyond just Baltimore and require a national solution. The airwaves are public property and belong to all of us and the FCC manages those airwaves on behalf of the public.

What is the FCC's Role in Addressing the Issues? 

Federal law mandates that every commercial device that emits or transmits electromagnetic signals must be approved by the FCC. From the iPhone to your common router, the FCC has reviewed and approved every wireless commercial product in the United States in order to ensure that the airwaves remain usable by avoiding interference that would make transmitting a clear signal impossible. While this may seem fairly top down, it has prevented many instances of harmful interference in the wireless marketplace.

The FCC's involvement in cell site simulators began years ago when it first approved commercial sales to law enforcement. Documents disclosed under FOIA show that the company that sells Stingrays had local police departments lobby the FCC close to ten years ago for approval. A common claim repeated verbatim by different departments was that cell site simulators would create minimal interference, be rarely used, and briefly interact with phones. However, law enforcement today instead is using this surveillance equipment in ways that directly contradict their original assertions to the FCC.

We now know, for example, that police departments use them for hours at a time without a warrant, that officers deploy them for tracking down people suspected of non-violent crimes like harassing phone calls, and that certain devices do in fact cause significant interference to cell service. The combination of the extraordinary power of these surveillance tools (they can scan hundreds of innocent user cell phones at once) and the lack of FCC regulations has resulted in explosive growth in their deployment. Outside of the baseline statutory prohibitions against "harmful interference" and requiring a license to transmit (which is different than an authorization to sell the device), no FCC rules exists that specifically regulate cell site simulators.

Police today violate these basic statutory protections when using cell site simulators and thereby disrupting the cellular service of many innocent people. Based on publicly available information, it appears that some cell site simulators utilized today by law enforcement are jamming LTE and 3G services in order to force phones to downgrade to 2G services where they are easily exploited due to legacy vulnerabilities. A study by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also found that 911 call access can be blocked 50 percent of the time when a phone interacts with a cell site simulator. Testing these devices requires technical analysis but cell site simulators are only legally sold to and owned by law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the FCC is the best suited agency with the legal authority and technical expertise to determine what is happening in Baltimore and potentially across the entire country as wireless surveillance by law enforcement continues to proliferate.

In the past, the FCC faced a similar issue when dealing with cell phone signal boosters. Third parties developed mini-towers that would augment wireless signals in areas with poor coverage. Carriers complained that these devices were operating in their exclusive space and disrupting their service. That was the same problem we see today: signal boosters, like cell site simulators, were interfering with communication services and 911 access. The FCC's response should be the same now as it was then: the agency studied the problem and took steps to resolve it in a public forum.

FCC Should Mandate Transparency and Judicial Review for Cell Site Simulators

The sale of police surveillance equipment (often in coordination with federal law enforcement officials) has systematically been shielded from public scrutiny. EFF has spent years trying to break through the obfuscation, with some success, but too many secrets remain. It is time for local communities to have more control over their police. The FCC has the authority to require transparency as a condition of usage. For example, it can require local law enforcement departments to register their intent to purchase and deploy a cell site simulator and thereby provide public notice before the fact. In the few instances where local government has been made aware of the intention of local police to purchase surveillance equipment, public debate followed, and local officials and community members properly had a direct say for or against the expansion of police surveillance.

The time also appears ripe to harmonize basic judicial review requirements for state and local police with policies already adopted by federal agencies. In late 2015, the Department of Justice instructed federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using a cell site simulator, in recognition of the constitutional privacy rights of citizens. The Department of Homeland Security followed suit with its own policy mandating that Stingray usage required a warrant. The FCC should apply such a policy to state and local law enforcement entities, too, as a condition of using the public airwaves for surveillance equipment. The FCC can protect the public interest by bringing local and state law enforcement actors in line with federal policy designed to protect citizens' constitutional privacy rights against unreasonable searches.

It is possible that cell site simulators simply will not work in today's crowded wireless market and that law enforcement will have to rely directly on carriers for information about telephones after acquiring the appropriate judicial clearance. Simply put, Americans should not be forced to accept degraded services and law enforcement should not be given a blank check to cause harmful interference. The FCC must act on behalf of the public to begin resolving this problem.

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Honoring Visionaries at the 25th Annual Pioneer Awards - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 04:57

Since 1992, EFF’s annual Pioneer Awards celebration has honored those who expanded freedom and innovation on what was dubbed the electronic frontier—a bleeding edge of technology intersecting with the rights of users. Today we understand better than ever that digital privacy and free expression are fundamental elements of democracy and human rights around the world.

This year we recognized the work of four leaders in this space: trailblazing digital rights activist Malkia Cyril, tireless international data protection activist Max Schrems, the groundbreaking encryption researchers who authored “Keys Under Doormats," and champions of California’s CalECPA privacy law Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine).

Julia Angwin kicks off the night. Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

Award-winning investigative journalist Angwin opened the event with a keynote speech tracing the rise of online tracking and surveillance technologies. Angwin described her career in tech journalism from an early Wall Street Journal article that was “literally about cookies” to her latest work at ProPublica focusing on the effect of racially biased computer programs used by courts to predict who will be a future criminal. The journalist affirmed her commitment to reframe the conversation about privacy rights into a conversation about human rights.

Lee Tien, EFF Senior Staff Attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights, presented the first awards of the evening to California Senators Mark Leno and Joel Anderson. The pair introduced CalECPA—the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act—a landmark law that safeguards privacy and free speech rights. It gave California the strongest digital privacy law in the nation and helps prevent abuses before they happen.

CALECPA champs Senators Mark Leno and Joel Anderson. Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

San Francisco Democratic Senator Leno quipped that he and fellow winner Republican Senator Joel Anderson were a legislative “odd couple” yet they accomplished something valuable. “San Diego is as far right as San Francisco is far left,” said Leno. “When we get together people notice and pay attention.” Privacy, he says, is a “rare non-partisan issue in Sacramento,” but the fight to get stronger digital privacy protections for Californians and get the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act passed took years. “We won across the board. We are a formidable team,” Leno said.

Senator Anderson added that while he has opposed bills of Leno’s, he was happy to work with his Democratic colleague to get CalECPA passed. He hoped this year’s award wouldn’t be his last: “I still have 2 more years to get more of my own.”

EFF International Director Danny O’Brien presented the next award to Max Schrems. O’Brien pointed out that Schrems was often described in media reports “with a slight tone of dismissal” as an “Austrian law student. How could he possibly believe he was right” in challenging Facebook and the mighty tech industry? Schrems had the audacity to ask companies, “What are you doing to comply with EU data protection law?” Today Schrems can be rightly described in the media as a “noted jurist and successful litigant,” O’Brien said.

Data protection activist Max Schrems. Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

Schrems said the Pioneer Award was “really meaningful” to him “coming from EFF.” “We are all interconnected,” said Schrems, and “we can also use the legal system to affect change.” He remembered reports of his case in Europe noting that he was not backed by a sophisticated legal team and had little chance of prevailing. The rest is history.

EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry presented the next Pioneer Award to Malkia Cyril. McSherry described first meeting Cyril, founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice, at a rally organized at San Francisco City Hall “in the thick of the fight for net neutrality.” She described how Cyril continued a moving campaign joining communities and “explaining how the fight for net neutrality relates to the fight for racial and economic justice, and vice versa.” McSherry praised Cyril’s voice on varied issues including challenging surveillance and advocating for prisoners’ rights, and for being “equally dedicated to helping others speak.”

Malkia Cyril: “It’s not time to go slow—there are times for that, but that’s not this time.” Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

When Cyril got off a plane after a recent vacation, their phone lit up with the latest reports about young black men shot by police. “That’s what my life is like, who else has gotten killed today,” Cyril said. They went on to describe the passion to “dismantle the structure that views my blackness as a crime” and spoke of people of color being “legally enslaved through” gang databases and said high-tech policing, including so-called predictive policing systems which “succeed in only one thing: systematic discrimination against communities of color. That’s wrong. It’s up to us to make that change.” Cyril called for “dismantling these programs” and “abolishing the surveillance state.”

Cindy Cohn, EFF Executive Director, presented the final award of the evening to the authors of the 2015 paper “Keys Under Doormats: Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data And Communications.”

Cohn remarked that the oft-referenced report helped frame the second round of the so-called Crypto Wars. “The report clearly and cleanly lays out what’s at stake for all of us in the FBI’s push for limits on encryption, bridging from the technical problems in a world where forward secrecy and authenticated encryption are increasingly needed to protect us, to the procedural ones in our international, interconnected world where countries with horrible human rights records and local sheriffs will demand the same access as the FBI. “

Susan Landau on behalf of "Keys Under Doormats" authors. Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

Susan Landau spoke on behalf of the 15 co-awardees:

  • Harold Abelson, of MIT
  • Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge
  • Steven M. Bellovin, Columbia University
  • Josh Benaloh, Microsoft Research
  • Matt Blaze, University of Pennsylvania
  • Whitfield Diffie, who in 1975 helped discover the concept of public-key cryptography
  • John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
  • Matthew Green, Johns Hopkins University
  • Peter G. Neumann of SRI International
  • Susan Landau, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Ronald L. Rivest, MIT
  • Jeffrey I. Schiller, Internet Engineering Steering Group Area Director for Security from 1994 to 2003
  • Bruce Schneier, EFF Board and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University,
  • Michael A. Specter, Ph.D. candidate at MIT
  • Daniel J. Weitzner, of MIT and United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House (2011-2012)

Landau recalled the group's 1997 report responding to the Clipper Chip proposal and why a review of recent law enforcement efforts at exceptional access to private communications was necessary. The team of experts concluded, Landau said at the event, that the kinds of access the FBI demanded would break authenticated encryption and could also break forward secrecy (which prevents a key exposure from enabling the decryption of all previously encrypted materials). The government’s requests would compromise “fundamental security protections.”

Landau said that beginning work on the encryption debate 25 years ago “shaped the rest of my life for good.” She recalled the morning that the Snowden documents were leaked. She received an email from Julia Angwin and fielded questions all day from reporters, too busy to change from her pajamas. Technical expertise and research had become crucial in the debate about government spying.

“EFF realized that real people who were living real lives,” cared about freedom and liberty, and recognized that the fight about encryption is, “at its core” about freedom and liberty.

Landau had a parting message for EFF: “Just keep doing the fabulous work you’re doing.”

The 2016 Pioneer Award winners with EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. Photo by Alex Schoenfeldt.

The Pioneer Awards provide an opportunity to look back at who is ensuring that the rights to privacy and free expression can stay in harmony with our changing methods of interaction and communication. We thank every EFF member and supporter for being a part of this growing movement. With each passing year, it becomes more evident that our collective work is fundamental to protecting basic freedoms and we are not yet done.

Special thanks to Airbnb, Dropbox, O'Reilly Media, No Starch Press, Adobe, and Ron Reed for supporting EFF and the 2016 Pioneer Awards ceremony.

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Illegal US/EU Sanctions on Russia, Syria and Iran - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 01:24
Illegal US/EU Sanctions on Russia, Syria and Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Security Council members alone may impose sanctions on nations, organizations, enterprises or individuals - not countries against others on their own.
US/EU sanctions on Iran, Syria and Russia have no legitimacy. Neocons infesting Washington want new ones imposed on these countries, legislation now being considered, virtually certain to pass, its provisions alone uncertain.
Washington wants these countries punished for supporting Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity, along with the rights of its people to live free from the scourge of US-led imperial viciousness.
The sanctions game is all about targeting anyone challenging America’s aim for world dominance, a tool supplementing naked aggression and other lawless acts.
They inflict pain, mostly on ordinary people, while failing to accomplish anything else. On Wednesday, Western media said Germany is considering new sanctions on Russia, falsely blaming its aerial campaign for war crimes committed by US-supported terrorists and Pentagon-led “coalition” warplanes.
New sanctions imposed, if any, would represent US-pressured retribution for successfully combating US/EU-supported terrorists ravaging Syria, especially heading toward winning the strategic battle for Aleppo.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov responded to reports of possible new German sanctions, saying “(t)here have been no official statements, direct or indirect mentions of this…at the official level.”
“There is no (justification) for any sanctions on Russia” for any reasons. It’s the only country fully complying with international law - polar opposite US-led “coalition” imperial policies.
On Wednesday, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said new sanctions on Russia for its actions in Syria aren’t being discussed.
Far more serious is Washington’s potential threat to bomb Syrian forces and other government targets. Russia deployed sophisticated S-300 and S-400 air defense systems to protect its aircraft, ground personnel, and nearby ships.
Striking Syrian targets would endanger them, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov explained, saying “any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.” 
They’ll be responded to appropriately as necessary. Any “unidentified flying object” will be targeted and destroyed. 
Konashenkov warned Washington against escalating conflict, saying “(h)istory shows that often such (actions) turn out to be prologue” for something more serious.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

How Big Pharma's Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 01:12

Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for most prescription drugs, and of course big pharma would like to keep it that way. Key measures that the industry relies upon in this regard are the Prescription Drug Marketing Act [PDF] and Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act [PDF], which make it unlawful for most Americans to access lower-priced drugs from overseas, coupled with the powers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seize such drugs at the border on their own initiative.

In practice however, discretionary guidelines developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and enforced by the CBP allow American consumers to import a 90-day supply of some prescription medications for personal use, including by bringing them across border checkpoints in personal luggage, or by mailing them from overseas. In the latter case, a large market exists for pharmacies registered in other countries such as Canada, Australia and Turkey, that will accept online orders and mail genuine pharmaceuticals to American consumers at cheaper than local prices.

Big pharma doesn't like this [PDF], but since the importation is already technically against federal law, they can't do much more about it. At least, not through legal channels…and that's where they get creative. As we described last week, where industry can't get government to regulate the Internet in the way they want, they frequently turn to private deals with Internet intermediaries that we've termed Shadow Regulation. Big pharma is a major proponent of this practice, having spearheaded a range of such private deals that they use in an attempt to quell the supply of prescription drugs to Americans through overseas online pharmacies.

This private censorship regime insinuates multiple links in the chain between Internet content and its audience. This includes blocking blacklisted pharmaceutical websites from access to payment services [PDF], online advertising services, and domain names. You might assume that the various terms of service of these companies, although all addressing online pharmaceutical sales in a similar way, were devised independently and voluntarily. But that isn't the case.

Profile of a Shadow Regulation Network

This particular Shadow Regulation network contains a confusing web of similar-sounding organizations with overlapping memberships, such as the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP). In simple terms the former is comprised mostly of the pharmaceutical industry, whereas the latter pulls in its partners such as Internet platforms (Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!), payment processors (PayPal, Mastercard, and American Express), delivery providers (UPS), and domain name companies (GoDaddy and Rightside). A third key player is LegitScript, which was instrumental in the formation of both ASOP and CSIP, and carries out most of the operational level arrangements that are agreed at a level of principle by those organizations. Internet users are not represented at board level in either ASOP, CSIP, or LegitScript.

A hallmark of Shadow Regulation is that government is also often quietly involved behind the scenes, and so it is here. The formation of the CSIP was announced at a White House-hosted industry event [PDF] on October 14, 2010, following months of talks between the administration and the CSIP's founding industry members. Similarly, LegitScript is led by the former Associate Deputy Director Office of National Drug Control Policy, and subsists on lucrative contracts from government as well as from private industry. With this framework in place, the "voluntary" adoption by Internet intermediaries of measures that primarily benefit the pharmaceutical industry suddenly becomes very easily explicable.

Internet Blacklists

Two registers of online pharmacy websites are approved by both the ASOP and the CSIP. These are run respectively by LegitScript, and by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) under the name Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). A third, independent register is run by the eponymous, which the ASOP and the CSIP do not recognize. This is because while all three exclude sellers of fake and counterfeit drugs from their approved lists, only the U.S. pharmaceutical industry-run registers LegitScript and VIPPS also exclude overseas online pharmacies that supply genuine drugs to Americans under the FDA's personal use policy.

EFF has no quarrel with the use of these lists by users who wish to check that an online pharmacy complies with relevant safety standards and regulations, either according to the stringent pharma-industry approved lists or the more liberal PharmacyChecker list. What we do have a problem with is when the pharma industry lists are used as a secret content censorship mechanism, which prevents Americans from even finding pharmacies who can fill prescriptions in full compliance with FDA policy. This is what happens when such online pharmacies are blocked from access to essential Internet intermediaries such as domain registrars, payment processors and online advertising networks.

The latest extension of this Shadow Regulation regime is through the new top-level domain .pharmacy, which was granted by ICANN to the NABP last year notwithstanding a petition with almost 25,000 signatures from users opposed to the move. Websites registered in that domain space must comply with the same restrictive policies that qualify pharmacies for approval for the LegitScript or VIPPS registers.

This is perhaps not such a tragedy while there are other top-level domains in which pharmaceutical websites can be registered. But the NABP would like to see that changed too [PDF]. ICANN itself disclaims responsibility for policing the content of pharmaceutical websites, and rightly so. But the NABP is demanding ICANN force domain registries and registrars to require that any pharmaceutical website produce a license to dispense medicine to any jurisdiction that it ships to. This would not only shut non-U.S. pharmacies out of the .pharmacy domain, but effectively wipe them off the Internet altogether.

Where are the voices of healthcare consumers and Internet users in all of this? Their voices are not being heard, because the mechanisms of Shadow Regulation that have been put in place by powerful government and private industry forces have deliberately shut them out. The unsurprising result is that the measures put in place by this closed and captured process are too broad, favoring the private interests of big pharma, limiting access to information and access to safe and affordable medicine.

We agree that fake and substandard medicine sales are a problem that regulatory and law enforcement agencies should address. But they should do so through proper legal channels, or at least through cooperative mechanisms that are inclusive, balanced, and accountable—which ASOP, CSIP, LegitScript, and .pharmacy are not.

This article has been updated to correct the former job title of Legitscript CEO, John Horton.

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Media Scoundrels Suppress Reality in Syria - Fri, 07/10/2016 - 00:59
Media Scoundrels Suppress Reality in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Virtually all print and electronic scoundrel media reports on Syria turn truth on its head - some of the worst rubbish in memory, scandalous by any standard.
Facts never interfere with daily propaganda - what I call US administration and Pentagon press agent journalism, replicated in all Western societies, a deplorable perversion of what news, information and analysis are supposed to be all about.
Trustworthy alternative media along with respected independent writers and analysts are the only reliable sources on virtually all world and national issues, especially ones pertaining to war, peace and geopolitics.
“(P)re-election hysteria” makes matters worse in America, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Given daily carpet-bombing of truth for political advantage, she understandably finds it hard “stay(ing) within the limits of diplomatic language.”
Lunatic neocons infesting Washington test the patience of virtually everyone supporting Syrian sovereignty and rights of its long-suffering people - victims of US imperial viciousness.
“(U)tterances” alone out of Washington make normal diplomatic relations untenable, Zakharova explained, saying:
“They said at first they were breaking off and abandoning something, that they'd run out of whatever it might be and had suspended it yet another time.”
“Then a day passes and suddenly I read they've cancelled contacts on a bilateral basis but, generally speaking, they will continue making efforts in multilateral formats.” 
“And after a few more hours, I hear a completely different version, which says they they haven't cancelled contacts but rather have suspended them, and if Russia jumps over the bonfire once again, they will do this and that.”
Listening to them is a waste of time, Zakharova added, bashing “the Russian bear,” heading toward irreparably rupturing ties, risking war between the world’s dominant nuclear powers because of America’s rage for dominance.
Russian policy is admirable on Syria. America and its rogue partners represent pure evil, threatening world peace and security like never before.
Possible US initiated nuclear war was never greater with Hillary looking almost certain to succeed Obama - anointed before campaigning began. 
Unprecedented one-sided media coverage shows the handiwork of power brokers running America. They alone choose its leaders and top officials. 
Voters have no say whatever - a nation run by fantasy democracy, not the real thing, most people none the wiser, brainwashed into submission, kept from rising up and resisting a deplorable system harming their lives, welfare and futures.
Syria is ground zero for challenging US imperial madness, essential for Russia to stay the course, to contest and defeat the aims of the world’s most barbarous bully and prevail.
According to Russian upper house Federation Council International Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev, his government and military will stay involved in Syria as long as it takes to preserve its sovereign independence.
“As soon as law and order are restored there, Russia will leave,” he said - letting its people alone decide who’ll lead them, free from foreign interference.
US policy is polar opposite, wanting dominion over planet earth, shunning peace, waging endless wars of aggression.
An inevitable showdown looms - humanity’s survival up for grabs, US imperial madness endangering life on earth.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Google Changes Its Tune When it Comes to Tracking Students - Thu, 06/10/2016 - 23:32

Now that schools are back in full swing, we thought it would be a good time to check in on what’s happened in the student privacy world since we submitted our FTC complaint about Google’s practices a little under a year ago.

The main complaint in our FTC filing was that, based on all the publicly available information we could find, it appeared that Google was tracking students and building advertising profiles on them when they navigated to Google-operated sites outside of Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

At the time, Google’s publicly posted privacy policies explicitly said that Google would not build profiles on students or serve them ads when they were within GAFE services. But based on those same privacy policies, it appeared that if a student logged in to Google using their educational account and then visited a non-GAFE Google-operated service (such as Maps, News, or YouTube, to name a few), Google would associate their activity with their educational account, and then serve them ads on at least some of the non-GAFE services based on that activity.

This assumption was also bolstered by the fact that, at the time we filed our FTC complaint, GAFE accounts had the same options for enabling and disabling targeted ads as normal Google accounts—again leading us to believe that Google was targeting ads at student accounts on non-GAFE services.

Google Changes Its Tune (Maybe)

Needless to say, our complaint garnered quite a bit of attention—including that of Senator Al Franken, who sent Google a letter asking  some detailed questions about its privacy practices. As part of its answer, Google for the first time explicitly stated that even though they do collect information on students’ use of non-GAFE services, they treat that information as “student personal information” and do not use it to target ads.

Additionally, after we filed our complaint, Google published a new GAFE “privacy notice” (which Google is now calling “G Suite for Education”). The webpage was subsequently updated at least couple times this year and currently states, “For Apps for Education users in primary and secondary (K-12) schools, Google does not use any user personal information (or any information associated with an Apps for Education Account) to target ads, whether in Core Services or other Google services accessed while using an Apps for Education account.” 1

Finally, Google changed the ads settings page on GAFE accounts to state that “Google does not use your personal information (or any information associated with your Google account) to target ads while you are signed in to this account.” Here is a screen shot:

It’s not clear precisely when these changes occurred. It’s also not clear if these changes represent an actual change in Google’s policies, or if they just reflect Google changing how it explains what its policies have been all along. But either way, we can only conclude that even though the FTC has yet to make a decision on our complaint, our decision to shine a light on Google’s practices when it comes to student data has ensured that Google is not targeting ads at students on non-GAFE services when (K-12) students are logged into their Google educational accounts.

A Partial Victory

We shouldn’t start celebrating yet, though. For one thing, the core of our FTC complaint—that Google collects data on students using non-GAFE services without parental consent, despite having promised not to do so—remains. Google is also still collecting a huge amount of information from students for other purposes, including device information (such as hardware models, operating system versions, and unique device identifiers) and log information (such as queries, system activity, and hardware settings). Even if it’s not using that data to target ads, it’s not clear why Google thinks it should be allowed to keep and retain that data for anything other than directly providing a service to the GAFE user, especially when it knows the data comes from a GAFE account—many of which belong to students under the age of 13. This implicates COPPA, which prohibits companies like Google from collecting children’s personal information and using it for commercial purposes without parental consent.

Additionally, it appears that Google has only stopped targeting ads at K-12 student accounts on non-GAFE services. If your college or university is using GAFE then all bets are off.

It’s also still extremely difficult to figure out what Google’s actual privacy practices are when it comes to students. That’s because instead of posting a single, “one-stop shop” privacy policy for student accounts, Google says in the G Suite for Education Privacy Notice:

“This Notice is generally consistent with the Google Privacy Policy and the Apps for Education agreement. Where there are terms that differ, as with the limitations on advertising in Apps for Education, the G Suite for Education agreement (as amended) takes precedence, followed by this Privacy Notice and then the Google Privacy Policy.” (emphasis added)

In other words, if a concerned student, parent, teacher, or administrator wanted to figure out exactly what data Google is collecting and how it is using that data, she must cross-reference three different documents—not exactly a simple task. You shouldn’t have to be a privacy lawyer to understand a privacy policy—especially one dealing with information about students. Google should have one student privacy policy  with clear, straightforward terms—and not rely on some legal hedging and cross-referencing to cover its behind.

Finally, we are disappointed that Google is using a form contract (the G Suite for Education Agreement) that summarily states that Google is a “school official” under FERPA, the federal student privacy statute (see Section 7.7). This is to get around the rule that districts and schools (that receive federal money) may not share student personal information with companies or permit them to collect information on students, without parental consent. However, a third party may only be deemed a “school official” if four criteria are met, and we have not seen any indication that Google is working with schools to either legitimately become “school officials” or consistently obtain parental consent before students are assigned Google accounts.

In sum, it appears that our FTC complaint has spurred some positive changes in how Google operates—or at least discusses how it operates—student accounts. But there is still room for improvement. While Google and other “ed-tech” companies may bring valuable technology to the classroom, they must respect the privacy rights of students—especially minor students—and adjust their data practices accordingly.

  • 1. The privacy notice also states, “Google does not serve ads in the Core Services or use personal information collected in the Core Services for advertising purposes.” But this is something we have never questioned.

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Next UN Secretary-General Resembles His Predecessors - Thu, 06/10/2016 - 22:06
Next UN Secretary-General Resembles His Predecessors
by Stephen Lendman
The UN is a virtual appendage of US-dominated Western policy, its secretary-general and officials serving their interests - flagrantly breaching or ignoring world body Charter principles they’re sworn to uphold, especially on issues of war and peace.
On Wednesday, Security Council members chose Portugal’s Antonio Guterres, aged 67, to succeed Ban Ki-moon - effective at the completion of his December 31 tenure, a disgraceful imperial tool throughout his tenure.
Expect continuity under Guterres, chosen to assure it. On January 1, 2017, he’ll become the ninth UN secretary-general. From 1995 - 2002, he served as Portuguese prime minister, followed by 10 years as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 through December 2015.
In 1974 and 1975, he was Portuguese secretary of state of industry, then parliamentarian from 1976 - 1995. From January to July 2000, he was European Council president.
He’s an establishment figure, assuring continued business as usual. On October 6, a Security Council resolution will make his appointment official, followed by certain General Assembly approval.
Six secret ballots were taken before his selection - 13 SC members for him, two abstaining.
A total of 12 candidates competed for the top UN post, Guterres prevailing. Expect no positive change under his leadership. Peace and human rights champions are excluded from consideration.
Since established in October 1945, the world body grew from 51 to 193 member states. Though mandated to maintain international peace and security, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, along with economic and social advancement of all peoples, it failed on all counts - world conditions far worse today than ever.
“(S)ucceeding generations” weren’t saved “from the scourge of” devastating global wars - world body performance throughout its history failing dismally. 
Will Guterres succeed where his predecessors failed? He was chosen to assure pro-Western business as usual continues unimpeded.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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