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Not Okay: Professor Smeared After Advocating for Election Integrity

eff.org - Tue, 14/02/2017 - 10:30

Imagine if someone, after reading something you wrote online that they didn’t agree with, decided to forge racist and anti-Semitic emails under your name. This appears to be what happened to J. Alex Halderman, a computer security researcher and professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. Halderman is one of many election security experts—along with EFF, of course—who has advocated for auditing the results of the 2016 presidential election. The recent attempts to smear his name in retaliation for standing up for election integrity are a threat to online free speech.

Halderman, who is a frequent collaborator and sometimes client of EFF, published a piece on Medium in November 2016 arguing that we should perform recounts in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—to ensure that the election had not been “hacked.” To be clear, despite a report in New York Magazine, Halderman never stated that there was hard evidence that the election results had in fact been electronically manipulated. He just stated that we should check to be sure:

The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence?—?paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Concern over a “hacked election” isn’t unfounded. In 2014, pro-Russia hacking collective CyberBerkut attempted to sabatoge Ukrainian’s vote-counting infrastructure just prior to a presidential election. This is just one example. With these threats out there, auditing should be basic election hygiene. As computer security expert Poorvi Vora of George Washington University says, “Brush your teeth. Eat your spinach. Audit your elections.” Halderman specifically calls in his post for risk-limiting audits, a statistical method we’ve also advocated for that involves randomly selecting a certain number of paper ballots for manual recount. And it’s something we should be doing after every election. It’s a no-brainer.

Someone, however, does not agree. On February 7, about two and a half months after Halderman’s post, someone sent racist and anti-Semitic emails to University of Michigan engineering students purporting to be from Halderman. According to the AP, the emails had subject lines like “African American Student Diversity” and “Jewish Student Diversity,” and two of the emails contained the phrase “Heil Trump.”

This type of smear campaign is unsophisticated and easy to pull off. The smear artist(s) here didn’t break into Halderman's e-mail account. They simply created a “spoofed” email header, which made the messages appear to have originated from Halderman rather than their actual source. This is a ploy all-too-common in phishing campaigns, as it can trick Internet users into providing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. Read: this could happen to anyone.

Luckily, the spoof here was quickly revealed, and we doubt that many of the recipients—students at the university, where Halderman is well-known and liked—were deceived. But it did still result in a 40-student protest outside the home of the university’s president. 

Halderman has called these attempts to smear his name “cowardly action,” and we agree. But we’re also concerned. The threat of being the target of a smear campaign could chill the speech of others who want to speak out on the need for ensuring the integrity of our election system—an increasingly critical topic. Such efforts to chill speech threaten the very nature of the Internet as we know it—a place for open, robust, and diverse discourse.

We expect the University of Michigan to take a strong stand against this type of retaliation targeting a member of its community. And the rest of us should take a stand in support of Halderman, not only for his efforts to move the debate on election integrity forward, but also to make sure that such ugly, dastardly, and quite frankly lame attempts to smear people don’t become a more widely used method for chilling speech.


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Categories: Aggregated News

“Smart Cities,” Surveillance, and New Streetlights in San Jose

eff.org - Tue, 14/02/2017 - 09:51

The San Jose City Council is considering a proposal to install over 39,000 “smart streetlights.” A pilot program is already underway. These smart streetlights are not themselves a surveillance technology. But they have ports on top that, in the future, could accommodate surveillance technology, such as video cameras and microphones.

EFF and our allies sent a letter to the San Jose City Council urging them to adopt an ordinance to ensure democratic control of all of that community’s surveillance technology decisions—including whether to plug spy cameras into the ports of smart streetlights.

What Are Smart Cities?

Under “smart cities” programs like the one in San Jose, many municipalities across the country are building technology infrastructures in public places that collect data in order to save energy, reduce traffic congestion, and advance other governmental goals. Some of these programs may improve urban life, and EFF does not oppose smart cities per se.

But we have a word for government use of technology to document how identifiable people are living their lives in public spaces: surveillance. And we strongly oppose the web of street-level surveillance that is rapidly spreading across our urban landscapes. It invades privacy, chills free speech, and disparately burdens communities of color and poor people.

There is an inherent risk of mission creep from smart cities programs to surveillance. For example, cameras installed for the benevolent purpose of traffic management might later be used to track individuals as they attend a protest, visit a doctor, or go to church.

Democratic Control of Spy Tech

To prevent this mission creep, communities must adopt laws ensuring democratic decision-making and oversight of surveillance technology. All too often, police chiefs and other agency executives unilaterally decide to install new spying tools. Instead, these decisions must be made by elected city councils after robust public debate in which all members of the community have their voices heard. Communities will reject some proposed surveillance tools, and require strong privacy safeguards for others.

Last year, EFF supported the enactment of an ordinance in Santa Clara County that requires democratic control of spy tech decisions. We now support similar efforts for BART, Oakland, and Palo Alto.

Our letter to the San Jose City Council urges them to adopt such an ordinance. Our allies on this letter are the ACLU (Santa Clara Valley Chapter), Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Coalition for Justice and Accountability, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (San Francisco Bay Area Office), the Center for Employment Training, the Japanese American Citizens League (San Jose, Sequoia, and Silicon Valley Chapters), the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, and The Utility Reform Network.

Privacy By Design

Privacy by design” is an equally necessary means to ensure that smart cities do not devolve into surveillance programs. Privacy by design means that technology manufacturers and municipal purchasers must work together at all stages of product development to build privacy safeguards into smart cities technologies. It is not enough to bolt privacy safeguards onto completed tools at the last minute.

Privacy by design has substantive and procedural components. Substantive protections include limits on initial collection of personal information; encryption and other security measures to control access to that information; and strong policies restraining use and disclosure of that information.

A critical procedural measure is for cities to employ their own privacy officers. With the great power of smart cities tools comes the great responsibility to competently manage them. A privacy officer must have expertise in the technological, legal, and policy issues presented by these powerful tools. Absent such in-house expertise, cities may inadvertently create privacy problems, or unduly defer to the privacy judgments of vendors, which will not always have the same privacy goals as cities.

Next Steps

Now is the time for San Jose to ensure that its smart streetlights do not become another tool of street-level surveillance. To do so, San Jose must adopt an ordinance ensuring democratic control of decisions about surveillance tools. It must also practice privacy by design. Otherwise, residents may find that the new "smart" technologies designed to improve their lives have instead become tools of government spying.


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Categories: Aggregated News

Mixed Messages on Moving US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 14/02/2017 - 04:20
Mixed Messages on Moving US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
by Stephen Lendman
Jerusalem is an international city. No nation recognizing Israel has its embassy there for obvious reasons.
America would be the only one if Trump makes the move - violating international law and creating a regional firestorm in the process, besides making Israeli/Palestinian peace more impossible than already.
On June 30, 1980, Security Council members unanimously passed Resolution 476 (America abstaining), declaring “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation.”
Israel claiming the city, “complete and united, is (its) capital” has no legal standing. East Jerusalem is illegally occupied territory. 
So is historic Palestine, a separate issue, Palestinians willing to settle for 22% of their original homeland. Israel wants Judea and Samaria for Jews alone, other than isolated bantustans for Palestinians - open-air prisons like Gaza.
According to Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, Trump intended moving Washington’s embassy to Jerusalem on day one in office, possibly his first executive move, then hesitated, concerned about the possible negative fallout.
Corker said the move may still happen after consultations with regional Arab states, and once Trump’s Zionist ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is confirmed by the Senate. Hearings are scheduled later this week.
During his White House visit last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah warned Trump against making the move.
Interviewed days earlier by Sheldon Adelson’s Hebrew language Israel Hayom, Trump said he hadn’t decided on moving America’s embassy.
“I am thinking about” it, he said. “I am studying the (issue), and we will see what happens. The embassy is not an easy decision. It has obviously been out there for many, many years, and nobody has wanted to make that decision. I’m thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, citing the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, “the Trump administration transferred a message to the Palestinian Authority that the embassy would not be moving to Jerusalem.” 
“According to the report, top security officials in the Trump administration also spoke with the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Majid Faraj, to send ‘reassuring messages’ on settlements.”
If the report is accurate, it’s unclear whether Trump dropped the idea altogether or just delayed deciding what he’ll do, putting off a decision on whether to move Washington’s embassy for a later time.
One thing alone is clear on this very sensitive issue. America will be isolated from the rest of the world if he moves the embassy to Jerusalem - something no previous US president was willing to do.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Kiev's Aggression on Donbass Continues

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 14/02/2017 - 03:42
Kiev’s Aggression on Donbass Continues
by Stephen Lendman
According to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Deputy Defense Minister Eduard Basurin, Ukrainian forces shelled the republic 1,300 in the past 24 hours alone - continuing aggression begun on January 29.
In the past week, Basurin reported 5,675 Minsk ceasefire violations. Ukrainian troops are using multiple missile launchers, tanks, mortar fire, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft guns, grenade launchers, machine guns, small arms and cluster bombs. More on this banned terror weapon below.
“Two platoons of self-propelled artillery systems and a mortar platoon were observed near Gorlovka,” Basurin explained. 
“A tank company, a mortar battery and two platoons of Grad multiple missile launcher systems were observed at the Donetsk section of the contact line. A platoon of self-propelled artillery systems and tanks was observed near Mariupol.”
In the past two weeks, conditions along the so-called contact line, separating regime and Donbass freedom fighter forces, deteriorated badly. Many homes and infrastructure facilities were damaged.
On Monday, Tass reported regime forces using “mass destruction weapons,” saying “irrefutable evidence” proves it - citing Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Svetlana Petrenko.
“Within the framework of a criminal investigation into developments in southeastern Ukraine, Russian investigators have received and procedurally documented the irrefutable evidence that the Ukrainian armed forces used weapons of mass destruction, namely, the Tochka-U tactical missile systems against civilians during the armed conflict,” she said. 
“Russian Investigative Committee officers have procedurally documented the evidence that the Ukrainian military used the Tochka-U missile systems while shelling populated localities in the Lugansk region: in Lugansk, in the village of Novosvetlovka and Ternovoye, and the Krasnodon district, in the city of Rovenki and in Lugansk’s Yubileiny inhabited locality.”
Missiles equipped with banned cluster warheads are being used, perhaps gotten from Washington. A “high-explosive warhead detonates…up to 14,500 (metal) fragments” - a 2 - 3 hectare “kill zone” affected, Petrenko explained, adding:
“Missiles equipped with cluster warheads” release up to 15,800 fragments over a 3.5 - 7 hectare area. Ukraine’s Tochka missiles can carry conventional, nuclear or chemical weapons warheads.
Cluster munitions are used to cause mass casualties and destruction, Ukraine’s war without mercy mostly affecting civilians.
They’re terror weapons - their production, use, transfer and stockpiling banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. 
Unexploded bomblets remain dangerous longterm. They’re brightly colored. Children mistake them for toys. Picking them up to play or examine risks serious injury or death.
Washington, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other rogue states use them routinely, including US-installed Ukrainian putschists against their own people - earlier in 2014 and 2015, again 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: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Trump Wars

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 22:13

Trump Wars
by Stephen Lendman
While it’s too early in his tenure to draw definitive conclusions about his geopolitical agenda slowly unfolding, what’s known so far is disturbing.
He appears to be the latest in a long line of US warrior presidents - a huge disappointment, though hardly surprising. 
The last US president favoring peace over endless war was assassinated for wanting all Pentagon forces out of Vietnam - before things heated up after his elimination.
The lesson of Jack Kennedy’s state-sponsored assassination wasn’t forgotten or ignored by his successors.
Candidate Trump said “I was against (Middle East wars). And I was against (them) very early. And we shouldn't have been in there. And I think it is probably perhaps the worst mistake we have ever made.”
He called Afghanistan and Libya wars mistakes, after supporting them earlier. At the same time, he said failure to seize Iraq’s oil fields was poor judgment. “In the old days when we won a war, to the victor go the spoils,” he blustered.  
He complained about wasting trillions of dollars, turning the Middle East into a mess, instead of using the funds spent to rebuild America. “(W)e don’t have the money because it’s been squandered on so many (wrong) ideas,” he said.
He was silent throughout the campaign and post-inauguration about the illegality of all US wars - preemptively attacking one nation after another posing America no threat.
His January 29 special forces central Yemen raid destroyed Yakla village, killing an unknown number of civilians, estimates ranging from 16 to 59. It’s unclear what the mission accomplished other than massacring noncombatants.
US-led so-called “coalition” warplanes continue attacking Syrian and Iraqi infrastructure and government targets. No cooperation with Russia so far exists in combating terrorism, no  discussion so far on this key issue.
During a weekend phone call with US-installed puppet Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, a Kabul official briefed on the discussion said Trump will consider sending more combat troops to the country - instead of ending America’s longest war.
US terror-bombing continues. Helmand province raids last week killed at least 18 civilians, injuring others, according to a UN inquiry - mostly defenseless women and children mercilessly slaughtered like so many times before by US aerial and ground operations.
Bush/Cheney, Obama and now Trump’s war is responsible for virtual daily civilian deaths, utter chaos and appalling human misery.
Defense Secretary Mattis calls Russia America’s top threat. False! Secretary of State Tillerson warned about being “clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia,” saying it “poses a danger…” False!
“It has invaded Ukraine…” False! It “t(ook) Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war.” False, other than aiding Syria combat terrorism at the request of its government. 
“Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.” Absolutely false!
Does Trump share these views, despite saying he “respect(s)” Putin, said “he’s doing a great job,” praised his “intelligence (and) no-nonsense way,” believes he and Russia’s leader will “get along very well,” while calling bilateral relations “horrible,” and claiming “there’s nothing I can think of that I’d rather do than have Russia friendly, as opposed to the way they are right now…”
Trump inherited America’s imperial agenda, its aggressive wars in multiple theaters, terrorist foot soldiers his predecessors created and supported, a bloated defense budge he vowed to increase, and the Pentagon’s empire of bases, used as launching pads for naked aggression.
Will he continue America’s warrior tradition or go another way? Early evidence isn’t encouraging. 
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Campaign to Impeach Trump Continues

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 22:12
Campaign to Impeach Trump Continues
by Stephen Lendman
Calls for his impeachment began pre-inauguration, along with efforts to prevent his ascension to power - shocking stuff, unprecedented in US history.
On February 9, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D. NY) introduced a politicized witch-hunt Resolution of Inquiry - “directing the Department of Justice to provide the House of Representatives with any and all information relevant to an inquiry into President Trump and his associates’ (alleged) conflicts of interest, ethical violations…and (so-called) Russia ties.”
If the Republican controlled House Judiciary Committee doesn’t schedule a resolution markup within 14 legislative days, Nadler indicated he’ll seek a full House vote - unlikely to succeed, or in the Senate if it’s introduced there. Republicans control both houses.
The campaign to delegitimize Trump throughout the campaign and post-election failed. Efforts continue, Nadler’s action the latest initiative he and other Democrats hope will lead to impeachment and removal of Trump from office.
If successful, it’ll be a first in US history. House members impeached Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both subsequently acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment and conviction by the body he once served in as a US senator.
The Constitution’s Article II, Section 4 states:
“The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Trump hasn’t been in office long enough to charge him with any offense, let alone an impeachable one - other than for continuing US imperial wars in multiple theaters.
No president was ever charged with crimes of war or against humanity. Several instead won Nobel Peace Prizes, Obama the latest, despite months of high crimes before getting the award.
Trump may or may not warrant impeachment. A few weeks in office is way too early to judge him this harshly despite justifiable criticism of what he’s done so far.
The Clinton co-presidency, Bush/Cheney and Obama should have impeached and removed from office for imperial high crimes and other grievous human rights abuses.
The US Army Field Manuel (FM) 27-10 - The Law of Land Warfare, paragraph 498 states any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law warrants punishment.
Paragraph 501 says all high level civilian and military officials in any way involved in crimes against peace are personally responsible for war crimes.
Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime. Paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state” to absolve them.
All US officials to the highest civilian and military levels are responsible for high crimes against peace. No one is exempt. None deserve immunity.
Trump may turn out as bad or worse than his predecessors once in office long enough to adequately judge whether he deserves to remain US president or not.
Alternatives to his leadership aren’t encouraging. Both wings of America’s one-party state are hugely corrupted. All US officials in high posts serve privileged interests at the expense of the general welfare.
The issue isn’t Trump. It’s America’s debauched system. It needs replacing with an equitable alternative - waging peace, not war, serving all Americans fairly.
Unrelenting anti-Trump propaganda works. A new poll discussed in a previous article showed registered voters equally divided on whether or not to impeach Trump.
Most respondents surveyed likely don’t realize impeachment is only indictment, not conviction. A two-thirds Senate vote (67 upper house members) is needed to remove a sitting president.
The same percentage is required for impeachment, no easy task in either house. Success in both would make America more of a banana republic than already based on Trump’s record so far.
Though he’s largely continued business as usual, it’s outrageous to consider impeachment this early in his tenure - especially given  legitimately impeachable offenses of his predecessors ignored.
On Sunday, Politico reported gambling establishments worldwide are taking bets on whether Trump will remain in office, be impeached and convicted, or resign.
Trump is “big business for the international gambling industry,” said Politico. According to UK oddsmaking giant Ladbrokes PR manager Alex Donohue, “(f)rom a betting perspective, Donald Trump’s presidency has triggered a massive boom for these kinds of markets.”
Admittedly, his first few weeks in office have been a big disappointment, but no surprise.
Still, betting on his impeachment and removal from office is long shot at best, an unlikely prospect.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

North Korea: America's Punching Bag

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 21:58
North Korea: America’s Punching Bag
by Stephen Lendman
America needs enemies to advance its imperial agenda. Since none exist, they’re invented. 
Case in point, North Korea, Washington’s favorite Asian punching bag since Truman’s aggression, falsely blamed on Pyongyang.
IF Stone’s Hidden History of the Korean War explained it. Truman manipulated South Korean cross-border provocations.
Devastating war followed. Beating up on North Korea persists after all these years - solely for geopolitical reasons. Pyongyang pursued normalized relations for decades, consistently denied by Washington.
It threatens no one, favoring peace and stability, not war. It suffered hugely from Truman’s aggression. Up to four million died, mostly civilians. Terror weapons were used, including napalm and toxic agents - chemical and biological.
Most of its cities were greatly damaged or destroyed. Large industrial ones were 75 - 100% destroyed. Villages were turned to “low, wide mounds of violent ashes.”
Pyongyang fears America for good reason. Truman’s war never ended. A longstanding uneasy armistice persists. Its government sees a nuclear and ballistic missile deterrent as its best defense against another US imperial war.
On Sunday, it launched what it called a successful test of its new strategic medium-to-long-range ballistic missile, according to its KCNA state news agency.
It fell into the Sea of Japan after covering a distance of about 500 km, far short of long-range. Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed cause for concern, “urg(ing) all parties concerned to show composure and refrain from actions that lead to further escalation of tension.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing opposed the test, urging all parties to exercise restraint to maintain regional stability.
South Korea’s defense ministry called the launch a “provocation to test the response from the new US administration…” Acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn vowed a “corresponding punishment,” with no further elaboration.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited unnamed sources, saying “in response to North Korea's missile launch Sunday, we are reviewing measures to discard security concerns and show our determination to retaliate against any aggression by the North” - indicating Seoul may demonstrate its own intermediate-range ballistic missile capability.
Trump issued a short statement, saying “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%.”
Tokyo’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his government is “working to secure a firm response to these actions by the UN Security Council.”
An emergency session is planned for Monday to beat up on North Korea again instead of taking steps to normalize relations responsibly.
Clear US-led Western threats to its national security force Pyongyang to take defensive measures. Its deterrent strength is the best way to avoid another devastating war.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Resumption of Syria Peace Talks

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 21:38
Resumption of Syria Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Despite no contacts with US officials so far, Sergey Lavrov hopes prospects for conflict resolution are “more favorable” with Obama’s obstructionism no longer an issue. Negotiating with John Kerry accomplished nothing.
On February 15, peace talks will resume in Astana, Kazakhstan, scheduled for two days. Russia’s delegation is unchanged, led by its Syrian settlement envoy Alexander Lavrentyev.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Syria’s delegation remains the same, led by its UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari.
Bogdanov hopes Washington will participate at least as an observer. Its Kazakhstan ambassador attended January talks in this capacity. It’s unclear if anyone from Washington will come.
Opposition groups are attending. “(T)he task remains the same - to consolidate the ceasefire,” Bogdanov explained. Talks in Geneva will follow, scheduled for February 20, perhaps lasting as long as efforts are fruitful.
All opposition groups willing to negotiate conflict resolution are welcome to participate - other than UN-designated terrorist ones.
The so-called Saudi-cobbled together High Negotiations Committee (HNC) opposition announced a new delegation for February 20 Geneva talks.
Included are 10 representatives of militant groups along with 11 opposition politicians. The Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam terrorist groups aren’t participating. ISIS and al-Nusra representatives are excluded.
So-called National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces representative Nasr al-Hariri heads the umbrella HNC group.
Jaysh al-Islam’s Mohamad Alloush is out as chief negotiator, replaced by Mohamed Sabra. Talks will be watched closely to see if further progress can be made.
Russia is the lead player in trying to end six years of devastating war. Trump’s intentions remain to be seen.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Trump Blowing Smoke on Possible Israeli/Palestinian Peace Deal

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 03:58

Trump Blowing Smoke on Possible Israeli/Palestinian Peace Deal
by Stephen Lendman
Whether or not Trump knows now, he’ll soon enough realize the so-called Israeli/Palestinian peace process is the greatest hoax in modern times.
It’s been dead-on-arrival each time proposed for nearly half a century. Israel wants conflict and instability, not peaceful resolution - the way it’s always been since its inception.
It doesn’t negotiate. It never has. It demands unconditional Palestinian subservience to its interests, yielding virtually nothing in return, the price long-suffering people pay, victims of Anglo-Zionist viciousness.
In hindsight, analysts one day may call Trump the most one-sided, pro-Israeli president in US history - dating from the rape, slaughter and ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, Israel stealing 78% of its historic land, taking the rest in 1967.
Netanyahu considers Trump’s election a free pass to build endless settlement units on stolen Palestinian land. Who’ll stop him?
So far, Trump hasn’t translated campaign rhetoric into policy. He wisely backed off on pledging to move America’s embassy to Jerusalem - an international city, not Israel’s exclusive capital no matter what its regime claims, regardless of laws it passes.
Interviewed by Sheldon Adelson’s Hebrew language Israel Hayom broadsheet, his rhetoric changed from telling AIPAC conference attendees last March that he’d “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem to now saying:
“I’m thinking about it. I’m learning the issue, and we’ll see what happens. It’s not an easy decision. It’s been discussed for so many years. No one wants to make this decision, and I’m thinking about it seriously.”
No nation has its embassy there. If Trump opts to move, he’ll breach international law, making America the only one. He’s been warned about potential consequences of a move this reckless.
He also said he’ll explore possibilities for making what he calls “the ultimate deal” - what no other US leader accomplished, appointing his orthodox Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner to lead efforts to try negotiate Israeli/Palestinian peace.
“No deal is a good deal if it isn’t good for all sides,” said Trump. “We are currently in a process that has been going on for a long time. Decades.” 
“A lot of people think that it can’t be done. And a lot of smart people around me claim that you can’t reach an agreement. I don’t agree. I think we can reach an agreement and that we need to reach an agreement.”
“I want Israel to act reasonably in the peace process, and that it will finally happen after so many years. And maybe there will even be a possibility of a bigger peace than just Israel and the Palestinians. I want both sides to act reasonably and we have a good chance at that.”
Throughout its entire history, Israel never acted “reasonably” - especially on issues regarding Palestinian rights. The only “peace” Israel will accept is unconditional Palestinian surrender - impossible no matter what its longstanding collaborative leadership does or doesn’t do.
Israel controls around 85% of historic Palestine, including greater Jerusalem and virtually all valued West Bank land.
Long ago a two-state solution was possible. No longer. The only feasible resolution is one state for all its people, what Israel will never accept, assuring endless conflict as far ahead as one dare imagine.
Trump’s lofty rhetoric is meaningless. Reality on the ground tells another story.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Sergey Lavrov Straight Talk

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 03:51
Sergey Lavrov Straight Talk
by Stephen Lendman 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is a world-class diplomat. Like Putin, he says what he means and means what he says - polar opposite how his Western counterparts operate.
On Friday, he blasted increasingly provocative US-led military exercises on Russia’s borders. If the tables were turned, neocons infesting Washington would consider it an act of war, maybe a pretext to launch one.
“The ongoing activities of the alliance in the regions adjoining Russian borders are certainly provocative and destabilizing,” Lavrov stressed. 
“These include the deployment of additional military units in Poland and the Baltic States, and there already have been discussions about the possibility of similar NATO allies’ deployment in other countries in Eastern Europe, particularly in Bulgaria and Romania.”
Moscow pays close attention to unfolding events, hoping Trump will deescalate things. Russia will do whatever it takes to protect its borders and national security, Lavrov explained.
Steps are being taken “to neutralize potential and real threats. Russia is a peaceful country. But our peacefulness is based on the capability to ensure the country’s security in any situation. We continue to advocate a soonest deescalation of the military-political situation in Europe,” Lavrov added.
On Sunday, he explained Western attempts to recruit Russian diplomats haven’t ceased - at times “with undue forwardness” in the presence of their families, calling what’s going on unacceptable.
He called Iran an essential partner in the fight against terrorism, saying it’s “unreasonable” to exclude it if Trump is serious about combating this scourge.
Commenting on Ukraine, Syria and other geopolitical issues, Lavrov hopes to begin discussions with his US counterpart soon - likely when G20 foreign ministers meet in Bonn on February 16 and 17, maybe again at the Munich Security Conference on February 17 - 19.
If Trump is sincere about wanting international terrorism defeated, Russia will be a cooperative partner.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Nuclear Madness

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 23:42
Nuclear Madness
by Stephen Lendman
As long as these weapons exist, one day they’ll likely be used with devastating effects, risking almost certain doom or close to it.
The only way to prevent eventual nuclear war is by eliminating these weapons entirely, the world community uniting on this most vital of all issues to save life on earth from possible extinction.
Nuclear roulette assures losers, not winners. Einstein said splitting the atom “changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
Bush/Cheney’s December 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), asserted the preemptive right to unilaterally declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons. Madness remains US policy.
Obama’s 2010 and 2015 National Security Strategies pledged US first-strike use of nuclear weapons against any adversary, nuclear armed or not.
Last year, he approved a $1 trillion program to upgrade America’s arsenal over the next 30 years, assuring other nuclear powers will follow suit. 
A nuclear arms race increases the risk of these weapons being used, especially given America’s permanent war policy, targeting all sovereign independent states for regime change.
Instead of stepping back from the brink, president-elect Trump tweeted “(t)he United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
US belligerence poses an unparalleled nuclear threat, the only nation ever using them in combat, indicating likely willingness to use them again, instead of taking the lead in initiating efforts to abolish these weapons once and for all - although the technology to produce them will always exist. The atom cannot be unsplit.
During his phone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Trump rejected Obama’s 2010 New START Treaty with Russia, according to Reuters.
It capped US and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads. Trump called it “a bad deal for the United States, according to two US officials and (a) former (one) with knowledge of the call,” Reuters reported.
The treaty became effective in February 2011, expected to remain in force until at least 2021. Putin suggested extending it beyond that time frame.
Both countries have until February 2018 to reduce their nuclear arsenals to a maximum 1,550 warheads. It limits deployment of land, air, sea and subsurface nuclear weapons.
It doesn’t eliminate their weapons, nor new propulsion and delivery technological research to be able strike targets anywhere on earth in less than an hour with nuclear or non-nuclear warheads.
No global strike capabilities are compromised, nor constraints on nuclear arms modernization.
Candidate Trump said Russia “outsmarted” us, incorrectly claiming it’s allowed to continue producing nuclear weapons while America cannot.
During his confirmation hearing, Secretary State Tillerson said he supports New START, adding it’s important for Washington to “stay engaged with Russia, hold them accountable to commitments made under the New START, and also ensure our accountability as well.”
A transcript of Trump’s conversation with Putin remains classified. Reuters got its information from administration sources knowledgeable about what both leaders discussed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Veterans Again Stand For Standing Rock

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 23:30
Veterans Again Stand For Standing Rock
by Stephen Lendman
Last November, over 1,000 US veterans supported Standing Rock Sioux tribe members, putting their bodies on the line as human shields. 
They came to back their resistance against completion of the environmentally destructive Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), endangering sacred ancestral land, water and wildlife habitat. 
Native American Samoan Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D. Hawaii) was there. In September, she and 18 other House Democrats addressed Obama in a joint statement, saying in part:
“The federal government has a moral and legal trust responsibility to ensure that federally permitted projects do not threaten historically or culturally significant tribal places, the trust lands of tribal nations, or the waters that run through them.”  
“In the instance of the DAPL, despite its location within a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the USACE (Army Corps of Engineers) failed in its responsibility to engage in meaningful consultation and collaboration with potentially impacted tribal nations.”
Days earlier, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock (VSSR) spokesman Anthony Diggs said “(w)e are committed to the people of Standing Rock. We are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected.” 
“That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” Diggs said he expects to have “a larger, solid boots-on-the-ground presence” in Standing Rock this time.
According to Catawba Nation Linda Black Elk, “A lot of water protectors really felt that we needed to make some sort of stand as far as treaty rights.”
“We basically started to see police mobilizing from all directions. Someone came along and told us we had about 15 minutes before the camp would get raided.”
Dozens of arrests followed - on the phony pretext of trespassing on private property. According to an 1851 treaty, it’s Sioux land. On their web site, Standing Rock Sioux tribe members said “(i)n honor of our future generations, we fight this pipeline to protect our water, our sacred placed, and all living beings.”
The struggle for justice continues. Veterans arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, others en route, again intending to serve as human shields for Sioux tribe members and supporters against the power of National Guard forces and militarized police.
One veteran likely spoke for others, saying “(w)e are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force. We’ve stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have.”
On Friday, veterans set up a camp at Sacred Stone, a base to serve as protectors, not fighters, according to a marine corp veteran.
Last fall, militarized police attacked water protectors with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, water cannons, pepper spray and other forms of mistreatment. Hundreds of arrests were made.
More of the same is likely this time. Last December, Cuban doctors came to Standing Rock to stand with water protectors, to treat emergency and chronic health conditions.
Vietnam veteran Dan Luker came to Standing Rock last year. He’s back, saying “(t)his is the right war. Finally, it’s the US military coming on to Sioux land to help for the first time in history, instead of coming” to slaughter Native Americans.
Sioux Tribe members call their resistance a “battle for survival.” On March 10, they and supporters plan a march in Washington for justice. They hope thousands will participate.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Israeli War Minister Wants Arab Citizens Out of Israel

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 23:18
Israeli War Minister Wants Arab Citizens Out of Israel
by Stephen Lendman
Ultranationalist Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman is part of the nation’s lunatic fringe - actively promoting Arab hatred, violence and bloodshed.
Earlier as foreign minister, he demanded all Israeli Arab citizens declare loyalty to a “Jewish, Zionist, democratic state” - including its emblems and cultural values in place of their own heritage and traditions.
He wants them performing mandatory military service or its equivalent as a condition for obtaining a national identity card signifying citizenship.
He urged transferring them from Israel to a cantonized Palestinian rump state on worthless scrubland. He’s one of the most ruthless politicians in Israeli history - a hate-mongering racist, calling peace with Palestinians “unattainable - not now or for the next generation.”
He’s uncompromising, supporting unlimited settlement construction, believing dispossessing Palestinians from their land is the right thing to do.
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi once called him the “Jewish Islamic State.” He and likeminded Israeli extremists threaten regional and world peace.
Saturday on Israel’s Channel 2, he urged expelling Arab Israeli citizens to West Bank Palestinian communities, saying they’ll “be citizens of the Palestinian Authority (PA).”
Lieberman, education minister Naftali Bennett and likeminded Israeli extremists urge annexing most West Bank territory.
Last December, Bennett said “(t)he time has come to say Israel is ours to go from strategic defense to a process of initiating the implementation of Israeli sovereignty over the territories under Israeli control in Judea and Samaria.” 
“We need to mark this as a strategic objective and stop the misunderstood message sent from Israel abroad.”
Earlier in December, he said “(t)he approach that I’m promoting is reasonable, sane. In the Middle East, we don’t have the luxury to indulge in fantasy.” 
“If it were up to me, I would not wait. I would start with the Etzion bloc (near Jerusalem), and apply Israeli law and sovereignty on (the area) first.”
“We did this twice before, both times unilaterally: in Jerusalem in 1967 and with the Golan in 1981.” He urged doing it again now.
What he and other Israeli extremists call “realism” is illegal under international law. 
If land theft and settlement construction aren’t stopped, Israel will seize all it can, leaving isolated Palestinians surrounded by hostile settlements, making current untenable conditions far worse.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Trump Not Pro-Russia, Says Its Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 23:03
Trump Not Pro-Russia, Says Its Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman
by Stephen Lendman
Profiles in courage are absent in Washington, especially on geopolitical issues, notably on relations with Russia.
In January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Trump is not pro-Russia. She distinguished between Russophobe Hillary Clinton and Trump’s more responsible comments, calling getting along with Russia a good thing.
He clearly prioritized combating ISIS, and by inference international terrorism. “This gives certain hope, because it indeed is a challenge, a threat that we all are facing,” Zakhavova explained.
During a February 9 press briefing, she blasted US-dominated NATO for “prefer(ring) to deal with virtual (disconnected from reality) and nonexistent threats.”
Russia poses none, not now or earlier against any nation. Western and Middle East supported terrorism is real, a scourge vital to eliminate.
So far, Russia is the only world power actively combating it. “Obama made numerous statements on fighting international terrorism,” said Zakharova.
Instead he supported it while waging regional war. Trump’s comments are well-known, his intentions yet to unfold.
After three weeks in office, he’s yet to wage war on terrorism as promised, except for a botched Yemeni raid, massacring civilians, destroying a village, showing US policies remain hostile to peace and stability. Continuing drone attacks, largely killing civilians, indicate nothing changed so far.
Zakhavova said Russia had no contacts with the State Department. Putin and Trump spoke, not Tillerson and Lavrov, a first step to initiating regular dialogue on mutual interests.
“(T)he new administration has not published its foreign policy concept,” Zakharova explained. “I do not know whether it has been formulated or not.” 
“There is nothing in the public space, nor have we received any details via diplomatic channels.” It’s holding things up. It’s vital to address this.
“The new administration should begin by developing a global or, conversely, a regional doctrine, a foreign policy concept, a vision of its foreign policy - either regional or general - and then the first diplomatic contacts can begin and take place,” said Zakhavova. 
“Then we can start cooperating as is usual diplomatic practice. Thus far, no contacts of this kind have occurred.”
Even with a “new guy” in charge, how Tillerson described himself to State Department personnel day one on the job, he should have by now contacted his counterparts in key countries like Russia and China.
Trump has been speaking with foreign leaders almost daily, including Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.
US relations toward Russia are adversarial. Obama plunged them to a new low in decades, including baseless accusations of US election hacking, and piling on illegal sanctions solely for political reasons.
Fence-mending won’t come easily or at all if Trump doesn’t follow through responsibly on campaign rhetoric. Russia is ready to work actively with Washington in areas of mutual interest - no US overtures made so far.
Cooperative relations require someone promoting it “from the other end,” Zakharova stressed.
Bipartisan relations are deplorable because of hostile Obama policies. It’ll be a while before Trump’s intentions are known.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Trump Offends Palestinians

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 04:29
Trump Offends Palestinians
by Stephen Lendman
It wasn’t the first time, for sure not the last. Earlier he threatened punitive action against Palestine if it sues Israel in an international tribunal.
On Friday, his UN envoy Nikki Haley blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as UN mission to Libya head, outrageously saying “(f)or too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” adding:
Palestine isn’t a member of the world body. Its self-determination is recognized by over two-thirds of its member states. It has UN non-member observer status.
Haley’s comments provide more proof of Trump’s one-sided support for Israel. Palestinians never had friends in Washington, apparently a harsher adversary in Trump. Not a good thing at all.
Haley wasn’t encouraging, adding “(g)oing forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”
They’re largely rogue states, including NATO, Israel, despotic Middle East monarchies, along with fascist dictatorships in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Not a pretty picture. Not much hope for long-suffering Palestinians or abused people wherever America shows up belligerently. 
Extremist Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon praised Washington’s move against Fayyad, citing “the beginning of new era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish state.”
Separately in remarks published Friday in response to continued Israeli theft of Palestinian land for settlements and exclusive Jewish development, Trump said:
“…I don’t want to condemn Israel. (It’s) had a long history of condemnation and difficulty. And I don’t want to be condemning Israel.” 
“I understand Israel very well, and I respect Israel a lot, and they have been through a lot.”“(Settlements) don’t help the process. I can say that.”
“There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we'll see. But no, I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”
Trump’s comments stepped back somewhat from fully supporting illegal settlement construction, but not enough to matter. 
Indicating no US restraint on Israeli policy affirmed its right to continue building as many settlement units on stolen Palestinian land as it wishes. 
Washington has its back, Palestinian rights ignored like always - peace prospects under Trump as dismal as ever. 
Endless conflict continues with virtually no hope for resolution as far ahead as anyone dares imagine.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Assad Dubious About US Help in Combating Terrorism in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 12/02/2017 - 04:05
Assad Dubious About US Help in Combating Terrorism in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Syria is Obama’s war, launched for regime change, wanting a key Israeli rival eliminated, Iran isolated regionally, perhaps ahead of longstanding plans to replace the Islamic Republic with pro-Western despotism.
The conflict now belongs to Trump. It’s unknown if he wants it continued or ended, whether he’ll combat terrorism or support it.
His noninterventionist rhetoric indicated one thing. His geopolitical agenda appears worrisome. Lawless drone wars continue, mostly killing noncombatant civilians.
He’s continuing Obama’s terror war on Yemen, complicit with Saudi Arabia, supporting its genocidal terror-bombing and blockade, preventing enough food and other essentials to life from entering the country.
He may send more combat troops to Afghanistan - instead of ending America’s longest war, ongoing for over 15 years, a forever war if not stopped, naked aggression devastating the country.
Commander of US/NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson, Jr. told Senate Armed Services Committee members he needs thousands more US forces - to continue US aggression against a nation threatening no others.
“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” he said. Defense Secretary Mattis may visit Afghanistan later in February or March.
Nicholson responded affirmatively when asked if the Trump administration might be willing to deploy more troops to Afghanistan to further US objectives on the ground.
Taliban forces control large parts of the country, America unable to defeat its guerrilla war. If Trump agrees to deploy more US troops, it’ll be more evidence that his noninterventionist rhetoric was a Big Lie.


President Assad believes no US operation against ISIS and other terrorists groups exists, just “cosmetic” actions so far under Trump. After three weeks in office, his pledge to smash ISIS, and by implication international terrorism overall, hasn’t begun. 
Assad is rightfully concerned about greater US involvement in Syria. The only way to defeat terrorism is by cooperating with its government and people, he said.
“Could the American prowess defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan or in other places,” he asked? “No…There has to be a more comprehensive way of dealing with that complicated issue.”
“We invited the Russians, and (they) were genuine regarding this issue. If the Americans are genuine, of course they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that.”
America under Obama supported ISIS, Assad stressed. Defeating terrorism requires US cooperation with Russia and Syria. “We didn’t create (the conflict). You created it. The United States created all this mess,” Assad explained. 
“Who supported the rebels and called them ‘moderate rebels’ while they became ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria? We didn’t. So, it’s not a conspiracy. These are facts. This is reality.”
Assad opposes Trump’s safe zones notion, only feasible once stability and security are restored - “where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries,” he said.
If cessation of hostilities and conflict resolution are achieved, the entire country will be safe, he explained, adding safe zones while conflict continues isn't “a realistic idea at all.”
Key is combating and defeating terrorism. “No other solution” can end years of imperial war on Syrian sovereign independence, Assad explained - what he said many times before.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

Trump Suggests New Travel Ban Order Coming

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 11/02/2017 - 22:50

Trump Suggests New Travel Ban Order Coming
by Stephen Lendman
His access to America travel suspension targeting seven Muslim-majority countries was rejected at the district and appeals court levels.
Instead of cutting his losses and moving on, Reuters reported he’s “considering a new executive order,” possibly “exclud(ing) green card holders, or permanent residents (to) alleviate some concerns expressed by the courts,” according to an unnamed source.
His alternatives are to try getting the judicial rulings against him overturned by the full Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court in an emergency hearing. Either choice may result in further defeat.
Specifics of a new order aren’t known, if it’s coming. One thing is clear. Trump isn’t backing down on wanting citizens and residents of targeted countries prevented from entering America - beginning with a temporary suspension, likely then making it permanent for the duration of his tenure.
According to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, “(e)very single court option is on the table, including an appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision on the TRO (temporary restraining order) to the Supreme Court, including fighting out this case on the merits.”
“And, in addition to that, we’re pursuing executive orders right now that we expect to be enacted soon that will further protect Americans from terrorism.”
The best way to do it is by ending support for these groups, abandoning America’s imperial project, its endless wars on humanity at home and abroad. 
The most obvious ways to defeat terrorism aren’t being considered - the pretext Washington needs to continue its quest for unchallenged global dominance, no matter the cost in human lives and misery.
Aboard Air Force One heading for his Florida second home, Trump said a “brand new order” could be issued early next week. It was being prepared before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his travel ban.
“We will win that battle,” he said. “The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily, but we will win that battle. We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.”
During a Friday White House press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said “(w)e will continue to go through the court process and ultimately I have no doubt we’ll win that particular case.”
He also promised to “rapidly” introduce what he called “additional security” steps next week, without further elaboration.
Whatever revised restrictions he intends imposing on citizens and residents of designated Muslim-majority countries will again likely be challenged in court - continuing what looks like a protracted fight ahead.
A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released Friday (conducted on February 7 and 8) showed 53% of respondents disapproved of his performance so far, 43% approving (compared to 35% two weeks ago) - 46% favoring impeachment.
PPP concluded saying “we continue to find that unhappiness with Trump - and with Congressional Republicans -could help Democrats to make big gains in 2018.”
America is a one-party state with two right wings, in lockstep on virtually all issues mattering most. 
Disagreements when occuring are largely political, aiming to give one side an edge over the other. Privately, they’re united, serving privileged interests over most others.
America is a sham democracy, not the real thing. Elections are farcical. Voting changes nothing. Dirty business as usual always wins.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Trump's FCC Chairman Threatens New Neutrality

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 11/02/2017 - 22:48
Trump’s FCC Chairman Threatens Net Neutrality
by Stephen Lendman
With major media featuring fake news, Net Neutrality is key to keeping the Internet free and open, letting users access all content without restrictions, limitations, or discrimination, an online level playing field for everyone. 
First Amendment rights depend on it. Without Net Neutrality, consumer choice will be lost, stolen by corporate predators, making the Internet look like cable TV, letting communication giants decide what web sites, content and applications are available at what cost.
Net Neutrality is essential to assure no content is favored over others. Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) legal director Corynne McSherry expressed concern about Trump’s new FCC director Ajit Pai “taking steps to undermine Net Neutrality protections,” adding:
“If so, we, and millions of Internet users, will do what is necessary to defend a free and open Internet.” Separately, EFF raised concerns about FCC opposition to encryption under Pai, urging tech companies to defend and preserve it along with Net Neutrality and privacy rights.
FreePress.net said “everything (it) fought for at the FCC is in jeopardy” under Pai. Previously he was a corporate lawyer for Verizon Communications, involved in regulatory and broadband issues, among others.
At the FCC, he held several positions in its Office of General Counsel, most prominently as deputy general counsel. He also practiced law at Washington-based Jenner & Block, specializing in communications practice.
In 2011, Obama named him an FCC commissioner. He strongly opposes regulations, prioritizes their removal. In 2015, he opposed the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Last December, he said Net Neutrality’s days are “numbered.”
In January, Free Press CEO Craig Aaron blasted Pai, saying he’s “been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure.” 
“He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. He’s been an inveterate opponent of Net Neutrality, expanded broadband access for low-income families, broadband privacy, prison-phone justice, media diversity and more.”
He “looks out for corporate interests” exclusively. Their lobbyists are “thrilled” about his appointment.
“Millions of Americans from across the political spectrum have looked to the FCC to protect their rights to connect and communicate and cheered decisions like the historic Net Neutrality ruling, and Pai threatens to undo all of that important work.”
Digital democracy is at risk with him as FCC chairman. Net Neutrality is a defining issue, preserving it vital.
It’s the last frontier of free and open communication space.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

CIA Chief Pompeo Awards Saudis with Medal for Combating Terrorism

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 11/02/2017 - 22:38
CIA Chief Pompeo Awards Saudis with Medal for Combating Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman
You can’t make this stuff up. Truth is stranger than fiction. 
On February 10 in Riyadh, CIA director Mike Pompeo awarded the Middle East’s leading Arab state proliferator of state terrorism at home and abroad with the George Tenet Medal for its “intelligence work in the fight against terrorism.”
Tenet was CIA director from July 1997 to July 2004. His rap sheet includes involvement in Clinton’s rape of Yugoslavia, GW Bush’s aggression on Afghanistan and Iraq, along with establishing and running America’s global torture prisons, Guantanamo the tip of the iceberg.
The agency prioritizes covert extrajudicial killings and other dirty tricks, operating beyond checks and balances, unaccountable to Congress, mindless of the public interest.
It’s incompatible with fundamental freedoms. The late Chalmers Johnson said its existence “shorten(s) the life of the American republic.”
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, serving as deputy prime minister and minister of interior received the George Tenet Medal. Other Saudi princes and officials attended the ceremony.
In accepting the award, prince Nayef turned truth on its head, saying “Saudi Arabia rejects and denounces strongly terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” 
“The kingdom has been keen to combat terrorism based on its conviction that terrorism has no identity and no religion, and from its belief that the terrorists are committing these acts stemming from their deviant ideologies and evil thought.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia are the region’s leading sponsors of terrorism. Riyadh’s absolute monarchal rule is despotic, lawless and brutal. It's a police state practicing state terrorism internally and regionally.
Along with America, it’s the leading backer of ISIS and other Middle East terrorist groups, responsible for the rape and destruction of Syria.
For nearly two years, Riyadh waged genocidal war on Yemen, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, mostly civilians, far greater numbers than officially reported - millions of Yemenis endangered by war, related violence, preventable diseases and starvation.
The kingdom is a close US ally. One rogue state supports another.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

NATO Supports Kiev's Putshist Regime, Trump Signals It

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 11/02/2017 - 22:22
NATO Supports Kiev’s Putschist Regime, Trump Signals It
by Stephen Lendman
During a joint news conference in Brussels with Ukraine’s illegitimate prime minister Volodymr Groysman, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller said all alliance member states “express strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“NATO st(ands) by Ukraine. This will not change.” Gottemoeller blasted (nonexistent) “Russia(n) aggressive actions,” adding:
“NATO does not, and will not, recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea, and we condemn Russia’s continuing destabilization of eastern Ukraine.”
Separately, in a letter to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Trump said “(y)our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as your efforts to increase energy diversification (meaning less dependency on Russian gas), advance our shared goal to enhance European and regional security” - indicating support for Kiev’s putschist regime short of Gottenmoeller’s hateful anti-Russia Big Lies.
Trump so far said little on Ukraine - other than expressing a willingness with Moscow, Kiev, and “all other parties to help them restore peace along the border” - not a clear pronouncement of US policy, though encouraging by not accusing Russia of aggression it never committed or intends.
Nor did he mention Crimea, official Russian territory, mistakenly transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Krushchev. Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to correct the historic error. Putin accommodated them, a justifiable action.
Nearly two weeks ago, Kiev resumed naked aggression on Donbass. Large-scale troop deployments and heavy weapons near its border suggest a likely upcoming major offensive.
Trump disturbingly said his respect for Putin as Russia’s leader won’t affect his foreign policy. 
Both leaders may meet later this year in neutral territory. Putin said Slovenia would be a good location in response to its President Borut Pahor offering the country’s capital Ljubljana as a venue. Trump’s wife Melania emigrated to America from Slovenia.
In 2001, GW Bush and Putin met there, the US president afterwards saying he looked Putin in the eye and got “a sense of his soul.”
It didn’t help future bilateral relations, especially under Obama. What Trump intends remains unclear.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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