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Pence Fundraising to Succeed Trump?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 20/05/2017 - 03:23
Pence Fundraising to Succeed Trump?
by Stephen Lendman
Vultures are circling in Washington, Trump targeted for ousting, Pence his successor-in-waiting - “building his own political war chest,” according to Bloomberg Politics.
He launched a leadership PAC called Great America Committee to let him “channel money to congressional Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections” - likely with greater aims in mind, perhaps preparation for the nation’s top job ahead of the 2020 elections.
It’s rare for vice presidents to establish their own fundraising vehicles, especially so early in their tenure.
According to Center for Responsible Politics director Sheila Krumholz, “(l)aunching a leadership PAC sometimes signals an intent to run for higher office, which in Pence’s case, has been a topic of public interest ever since he was first nominated.”
Trump’s triumph over Hillary surprised most observers. He entered office damaged good for urging improved relations with Russia, denigrating NATO, and opposing interventionism, among other reasons.
Campaigning, post-election and as president, he’s been fiercely hammered, dark forces in Washington wanting him weakened, delegitimized and ousted from office - supported by media scoundrels, relentlessly inventing reasons to bash him.
Senior Pence campaign advisor in charge of running his leadership Pac Nick Ayers said planning began in December.
“Marc Lotter, Pence’s spokesman, declined to comment on the PAC because federal rules bar him from discussing political activities,” Bloomberg reported.
Krumholz explained “(t)he general theory on having a leadership PACs is that it’s good to have friends and even better to have friends that owe you favors, because you never know when you’ll have to call them in.”
If a change in the guard is in prospect, given endless troubles surrounding Trump, long knives out to get him, perhaps Pence is preparing to take over if called on.
Maybe he’s one of the dark forces planning Trump’s political demise. He’s part of Washington’s lunatic fringe, as far-right as it’s possible to get.
He’s pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-other corporate predators, pro-police state harshness, homophobic, Russophobic and Islamophobic, a Christian fascist, against same-sex marriage, abortions, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a neocon Tea Party hardliner, a longtime Koch Brothers ally.
Many of their staffers filled his political positions, and his own filled their’s. Koch money helped finance his campaign, payment for expected services.
In 2014, Kellyanne Conway said Indiana where he governed since 2013 is “one big free market,” the environment Koch and other corporate predators love.
In 1991, Pence headed the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, part of the State Policy Network (SPN). According to the Center for Media and Democracy, SPN affiliates “push an extreme right-wing agenda, restrict worker rights, roll back environmental protections, and” support tax policies favoring business and the rich.
In Congress, libertarian donors supported Pence, Koch Industries and Koch Enterprises among his top contributors, including as Indiana governor.
Reportedly they urged him to run for president. He ended up number two, perhaps heading for the nation’s top job, a dreadful possibility if occurs - maybe enough to make Trump haters love him after the fact when it’s too late to matter.
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.

Slow-Motion Plot to Dump Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 22:47
Slow-Motion Plot to Dump Trump
by Stephen Lendman
Dark forces in Washington want him removed, things headed toward replacing him with Pence, a deep state puppet he erred in appointing as vice president. GHW Bush was smarter, choosing political lightweight Dan Quale, unqualified for any public position.
Trump’s hold on the presidency is shaky. On Thursday, he tweeted “(w)ith all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!”
“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
Long knives wanting him ousted may succeed, removing him from office by assassination the way Jack Kennedy was eliminated, resignation forced on Nixon for the wrong reasons, or a first-time in US history impeachment and conviction, ending his presidency.
He’s not targeted for serious wrongdoing demanding accountability, or deplorable policies warranting strong criticism - solely because he’s not entirely and easily controllable and predictable, unlike other post-JFK presidents.
During a Thursday press conference, he justifiably called alleged “collusion between (himself, his) campaign…and the Russians zero.”
“(B)elieve me, there’s no collusion,” he said. “Russia is fine. But whether it’s Russia or anybody else, my total priority…is the United States of America.”
Expressing respect for former FBI director Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, he slammed his mandate as “a witch-hunt.”
Despite months of investigations, no evidence suggests Russian US election hacking or improper dealings or ties to Moscow by Trump, his team or campaign.
Yet Mueller was appointed anyway, a deplorable choice with an unstated mandate to keep the anti-Trump pot boiling - for the wrong reasons, not the right ones, the end game wanting him ousted from office.
Former FBI special agent/whistleblower Coleen Rowley blasted his appointment, explaining his longstanding deep state ties, not someone of impeccable character as falsely reported.
He was part of the false flag 9/11 coverup. In the run-up to US 2003 aggression on Iraq, he, his CIA counterpart and other intelligence heads “saluted smartly and went along,” including then-US Attorney for the Southern District of New York James Comey, Rowley explained.
Mueller enforced post-9/11 police state harshness, presided over persecution of Muslims in America, the 2001 anthrax deception, and other disturbing activities demanding condemnation, not praise. 
Rowley called him and likeminded US officials “sycophants to power,” complicit “in numerous wrongful abuses of power…”
As special counsel, will he go all-out for Trump’s removal, providing further service to America’s deep state, wanting nothing impeding their monstrous agenda?
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.

Sweden Drops Phony Assange Rape Case

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 22:18
Sweden Drops Phony Assange Rape Case
by Stephen Lendman
Since June 2012, he’s been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy, granted political asylum by its government weeks later in response to phony Swedish rape charges.
Britain conspired with Washington to get Assange to Sweden, once there extradited to Washington where a reported sealed indictment charges him with spying under the WW I relic Espionage Act.
Neocon Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls arresting him “a priority…(W)e will seek to put some people in jail” for whistleblowing, he blustered. CIA head Mike Pompeo said he deserves the death penalty.
He lied saying “(i)t’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”
“Julian Assange has no first amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an embassy in London. He’s not a US citizen.”
Anyone exposing US high crimes and other wrongdoing is vulnerable to police state arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for the crime of doing the right thing.
Swedish Public Prosecution director Marianne Ny saying she’ll no longer pursue rape charges against Assange, her arrest warrant dropped, doesn’t mean his ordeal is now over. Far from it.
His lawyer was way premature calling the decision a “total victory,” adding “(t)he preliminary investigation has been dropped and the detention order has been withdrawn, and from Sweden’s point of view this is now over.”
That’s the good news. What’s bad is if he returns to Sweden (voluntarily or involuntarily) before the statute of limitations expires in 2020, the rape case could be reopened.
More serious is US authorities  wanting him extradited to America. Britain almost certainly will help get him there if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy.
London’s Metropolitan Police said a warrant for his arrest remains for failing to surrender to the courts on 29 June 2012. If he leaves Ecuador’s embassy, it’ll be executed. 
Virtual certain extradition to America will follow unless his lawyers can get the London arrest warrant dropped.
On Friday, WikiLeaks tweeted “UK states it will arrest Assange regardless & refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received an extradition request from the US.”
In February 2016, citing the findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, human rights expert Alfred de Zayas said Assange’s detention violated provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He called on UK and Swedish authorities to assure his safety, physical integrity, and right of free movement, along with paying damages for his long, unjustifiable ordeal - first as a political prisoner under house arrest, then refugee in Ecuador’s embassy to avoid unjust extradition to Sweden, then America.
He stressed whistleblowers are vital human rights defenders, deserving high praise, not prosecution.
Assange’s ordeal is far from over, subject to UK arrest, extradition to America, or CIA assassination if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy.
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.

Heading for War on Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 22:11
Heading for War on Russia
by Stephen Lendman
America’s imperial agenda threatens world peace. Its bases surrounding Russia and China are platforms for aggressive wars - likely nuclear if launched against one or both countries.
Dangerous flashpoints exist along their borders, in Syria, Ukraine, the Korean peninsula and elsewhere.
America’s megalomaniacal rage for dominance is humanity’s greatest menace, nuclear war almost certain if its madness isn’t curbed - a slim chance with neocons infesting Washington, thriving on endless aggression, deploring peace and stability.
America’s imperial agenda should terrify everyone, a permanent war policy targeting all sovereign independent states for regime change, willing to risk destroying planet earth to own it - Russia and China the final frontier challenging its recklessness.
The bipartisan Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) includes congressional, defense and State Department officials.
Hawkish members along with Pentagon commanders urge greater numbers of US combat troops in Europe to deter nonexistent “Russian aggression” - a provocative plan risking direct confrontation.
Days ahead of Trump’s FY 2018 budget rollout, they urged a greater US conventional force buildup in Eastern Europe.
Former deputy assistant defense secretary for Ukraine and Russia Michael Carpenter expressed “support (for) deploying on a permanent basis an additional (armored) brigade combat team.”
“Having armor, especially on the eastern flank of the Baltic states would be a large deterrent for Russia, especially manned by Americans as opposed to the multinational brigades,”he blustered. “There is nothing that substitutes for American presence on the Eastern flank” - despite no Russian threat justifying it.
Last week, NATO commander General Curtis Scaparrotti, in congressional testimony, said NATO forces are “returning to our historic role as a warfighting command” to deter nonexistent “Russian aggression.” 
Russophobic former US ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer hype the need “to enhance (NATO’s) conventional deterrence and defense capabilities in the Baltic region and central Europe” - despite no threat justifying it.
Reckless policies advocated by neocons in Washington and hawkish generals escalate the risk of direct confrontation with Russia - the unthinkable possibility of catastrophic nuclear war, risking humanity’s survival.
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.

US Undermining Conflict Resolution in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 21:53
US Undermining Conflict Resolution in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Neocons infesting Washington represent the greatest threat to world peace.
They want endless wars waged, all independent governments toppled, US-controlled puppet regimes replacing them, enemies invented to assure aggression without end - feeding America’s ravenous war machine.
Russia has no partner in Washington politically, economically or militarily, no prospect for any US administration cooperating to restore peace in Syria or other war-torn countries.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted the fabricated State Department report, claiming mass executions in Syrian prisons along with bodies cremated to hide evidence, saying:
The report is “stereotypical” US rubbish, accusations without proof, escalating conflict, not helping to resolve it - compounded by another US attack on forces fighting for Syria’s liberation.
On Thursday, government and allied forces were terror-bombed near At Tanf, close to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders - a location where US and UK special forces are operating illegally, training terrorists to help Washington topple the Assad government.
According to Al-Masdar News, US warplanes entered Syrian airspace illegally from Jordan. A convoy of five T-62 tanks were targeted, two destroyed, a Shilka anti-aircraft weapon system damaged, six military personnel killed, three others wounded.
The “(c)onvoy consisted of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), National Defense Forces (NDF), Hezbollah, and Imam Al-‘Ali Battalions.”
The attack occurred in one of four Russian-established de-escalation zones - Moscow, Tehran and Ankara serving as guarantors. 
The Trump administration tacitly accepted the so-called Astana Memorandum, then breached it Thursday on the phony pretext of government and allied fighters “perceived…to be a threat to coalition forces.”
Nothing was said about these forces operating illegally in Syrian territory without Damascus or UN Security Council approval. 
All US-led coalition aerial and ground operations in Syria are flagrantly lawless, naked aggression, according to international law.
Trump likely knew nothing about the latest incident until informed after the fact. Straightaway in office, he delegated warmaking authority to neocon generals. They pretty much do what they please.
Thursday’s attack, along with the fabricated State Department accusation discussed above, are the latest examples of US efforts to undermine conflict resolution in Syria.
Obama-instituted regime change plans remain unchanged under Trump. Defense Secretary Mattis lied, saying Thursday’s airstrike doesn’t indicate Washington intends escalating conflict.
A previous article explained retired Syrian army general Mohammad Abbas said US-backed terrorists plan a southern Syria buffer zone, similar to Golan, bordering Jordan and Iraq.
Thousands of Hezbollah fighters were deployed to the At Tanf passageway, preparation for government and allied forces to prevent Washington from achieving its objective.
An unnamed Syrian military source said its army won’t let America and its rogue allies establish a safe haven for terrorists in its territory near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, similar to northern Syria.
Damascus fears a possible joint US/UK/Jordanian southern invasion. It’s on high alert to prevent it.
A Final Comment
On Tuesday, Washington imposed new sanctions on Syria, targeting five individuals and five entities - violating international law, along with the letter and spirit of Astana and Geneva conflict resolution efforts.
Russian upper house Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev denounced Washington’s action, saying sanctioning Syria “produce(d) starkly opposite results” of their announced intention.
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.

Net Neutrality Activists Rally Against Trump FCC's Plan to Destroy the Internet

freepress.net - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 06:44
Net Neutrality Activists Rally Against Trump FCC's Plan to Destroy the InternetAmy KroinMay 18, 2017People from across the country have already generated more than 1 million comments and signatures in support of real Net Neutrality. And outside the FCC’s headquarters, a range of advocacy groups, members of Congress and nearly 100 activists rallied to preserve the open internet.
Categories: Aggregated News

As USTR Takes Office, EFF Sets Out Our Demands on Trade Transparency

eff.org - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 04:50

The new U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, took office this week. EFF has written him a letter to let him know that we'll be holding him to the commitments that he made during his confirmation hearing about improving the transparency and inclusiveness of the USTR's notoriously closed and opaque trade negotiation practices. Our letter, which you can download in full below, reads in part:

The American people’s dissatisfaction with trade deals of the past, such as NAFTA, does not merely lie in their effects on the American manufacturing sector and its workers.  Another of the key mistakes of previous U.S. trade policy, we respectfully submit, has been the closed and opaque character of trade negotiations. ... 

Absent meaningful reforms that allow the public to see what is being negotiated on their behalf, and to participate in developing trade policy proposals, the public will reject new agreements just as they rejected failed agreements of the past, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Conversely, given a real voice in trade policy development, there is the potential for trade agreements of the future to become more inclusive, better informed, and more popular—all of which are essential if America is to retain and strengthen its global economic leadership in the digital age.

Tech industry groups the Internet Association, [PDF]  the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition) [PDF], have also sent letters to the new USTR. In addition to addressing how America's future trade agreements should address tech policy issues, the CCIA and i2Coalition letter addresses the need for greater transparency in trade negotiations, stating "we encourage you to maintain as much transparency in trade negotiations as is reasonably possible. More open negotiation processes will contribute to increased support for the trade agenda."

House and Senate Democrats have reportedly delivered the same message [paywalled] to Ambassador Lighthizer during his first week in office, urging that the renegotiation of NAFTA—which officially launched today—be made more transparent than the negotiations of its failed predecessor, the TPP.

To further reinforce this message, EFF has gone even further—taking out a paid advertisement in POLITICO magazine's Morning Trade newsletter which runs all this week. It directs to a new page of EFF's website that is specifically targetted at D.C.'s trade community. You can see a copy of the banner graphic that we've used for that campaign to the side.

Will any of this make a difference? We certainly hope so, but we're not counting on it. That's why in case Ambassador Lighthizer fails to heed our message, we'll also be supporting new legislation to be introduced in Congress to force the USTR to implement the necessary reforms. One way or another, the long overdue reform of trade negotiation processes has to happen, and we're committed to seeing it through.

Categories: Aggregated News

Revving Up Lost Afghan War Coming?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 03:00
Revving Up Lost Afghan War Coming?
by Stephen Lendman
America’s longest war was lost years ago, privately acknowledged, yet US combat operations continue, escalation likely coming.
According to Bloomberg, Trump’s military and national security advisors recommend deploying an additional 50,000 troops, “according to a classified US intelligence community assessment.”
It’s partly about propping up Kabul’s puppet regime, mostly to continue endless war, unwilling to acknowledge a long ago lost cause.
Surge, if ordered, assures greater mass slaughter and destruction than already, no possible chance of winning a lost war, just waging it endlessly.
According to Bloomberg, “(t)he new estimate from the intelligence community envisions significantly more US forces in Afghanistan than the current levels of around 8,400 US troops currently fighting there.” 
“It is also more than the modest troop increase for Afghanistan of around 5,000 that was reported last week.”
DNI and National Security Council spokespersons declined to comment. Other US officials told Bloomberg Trump opposes escalating war impossible to win.
In his book titled “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,” former defense secretary Robert McNamara said “we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.”
In 1965, he told Lyndon Johnson “I don’t believe they’re ever going to quit. And I don’t see...that we have any...plan for victory, militarily or diplomatically.” 
His view was expressed at the onset of dramatic escalation, another decade before America’s humiliating April 1975 exit from the country - accomplishing nothing but mass slaughter, destruction and devastation, including thousands of US forces killed and maimed, their needs not properly cared for as vets.
John Pilger once called Vietnam “the lost illusion of the American cause,” Afghanistan under three US administrations no different.
How many more years of futile conflict will continue, how many US forces returning home in body bags, how much more devastation to the war-torn country?
Throughout its history, Afghanistan was the graveyard of empires, defeating would-be conquerors, foiling their ambitions, America’s lost war the latest example.
According to Bloomberg, National Security Advisor HR McMaster urged escalating war, saying (US-installed puppet) president Ashraf Ghani’s survival depends on it.
Unless Trump halts things, endless conflict will continue, Taliban fighters one day prevailing. 
A humiliating US exit seems virtually certain one day, followed perhaps by another former defense secretary’s book, admitting US strategy was “terribly wrong” - a lesson neocons infesting Washington never learn.
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.

Disastrous Marketplace Medicine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 02:47
Disastrous Marketplace Medicine
by Stephen Lendman
Commodifying healthcare is a rationing scheme, the deplorable way America’s system works, the world’s most expensive by far - affording anything patients want based on the ability to pay, not human need, testimony to an I don’t care nation.
Writing in the Chicago Sun Times, Phil Kadner asked “(w)ill someone please tell me what evidence exists that a free market benefits consumers in this country when it comes to health insurance?” 
“Would anyone even argue that market demand ought to determine how much a person pays when it comes to saving the life of a baby” - or anyone else?
Free market policy-makers prioritize maximum profits and minimum costs. Insurers want the right to charge older Americans and ones with pre-existing conditions higher premiums.
Proper coverage already is unaffordable for most households - aggravated by insurers seeking ways not to cover expensive treatments if they can get away with it.
They want their in-house medical specialists able to override private physicians when they recommend expensive treatments.
All other developed nations and many others have some form of government-sponsored single-payer coverage.
America, the world’s richest country, is the outlier, denying a fundamental human right to millions of its citizens, leaving most of them way underinsured because of unaffordable cost.
McClatchy’s DC Bureau wrote about Julie Marie Forbes Anderson’s experience, “a tearful mom,” they called her, “kicked out of…Rep. Patrick McHenry’s Gaston County (NC) office” for complaining about his vote for Trumpcare.
Video of what happened streamed online got an astonishing 4.8 million views and 105,000 shares.
Anderson’s daughter needs medication costing $12,000 monthly. “Making my child uninsurable for something that’s not her fault is not OK,” she said.
In the video, she explained she didn’t raise her voice, yet was ordered out of the congressman’s office after staff called local police.
Walking to her car, she said she told McHenry that the photo of her daughter she showed him “was the kid that he voted to let die.” 
“I’m not willing to let my kid die because I don’t have money,” she said. “There are thousands of people like me who are watching their kids get sicker and sicker and we can’t do anything about it.” 
“And people are actively working against us to let our kids just be sick because they’re a drain on the system, because Medicare and Medicaid are too expensive. They can send people to wars but they can’t fix sick kids at home.”
Millions of other Americans are like her, without healthcare coverage, losing it, or unable to get enough of it because of high cost if Trumpcare becomes law.
Most Americans want government-sponsored universal coverage - Medicare for all. Republicans and Democrats support unworkable marketplace medicine.
Thousands of US physicians and other healthcare professionals are on board. Most congressional members and the administration are against the rights and needs of all Americans, serving the privileged few alone.
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.

Dear FCC: We See Through Your Plan to Roll Back Real Net Neutrality

eff.org - Fri, 19/05/2017 - 02:05

Pretty much everyone says they are in favor of net neutrality–the idea that service providers shouldn’t engage in data discrimination, but should instead remain neutral in how they treat the content that flows over their networks. But actions speak louder than words, and today’s action by the FCC speaks volumes. After weeks of hand-waving and an aggressive misinformation campaign by major telecom companies, the FCC has taken the first concrete step toward dismantling the net neutrality protections it adopted two years ago.

Specifically, the FCC is proposing a rule that would reclassify broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claims that this move would protect users, but all it would really do is protect Comcast and other big ISPs by destroying the legal foundation for net neutrality rules. Once that happened, it would only be a matter of time before your ISP had more power than ever to shape the Internet.

Here’s why: Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a service can be either a “telecommunications service” that lets the subscriber choose the content they receive and send without interference from the service provider; or it can be an “information service,” like cable television, that curates and selects what subscribers will get. “Telecommunications services” are subject to nondiscrimination requirements–like net neutrality rules. “Information services” are not.

For years, the FCC incorrectly classified broadband access as an “information service,” and when it tried to apply net neutrality rules to broadband providers, the courts struck them down. Essentially, the D.C. Circuit court explained that the FCC can’t exempt broadband from nondiscrimination requirements by classifying it as an information service, but then impose those requirements anyway.

The legal mandate was clear: if we wanted meaningful open Internet rules to pass judicial scrutiny, the FCC had to reclassify broadband as a telecom service. Reclassification also just made sense: broadband networks are supposed to deliver information of the subscriber’s choosing, not information curated or altered by the provider.

It took an Internet uprising to persuade the FCC to reclassify. But in the end we succeeded: in 2015 the FCC reclassified broadband as a telecom service. Resting at last on a proper legal foundation, its net neutrality rules finally passed judicial scrutiny [PDF].

Given this history, there’s no disguising what the new FCC majority is up to. If it puts broadband back in the “info service” category and then tries to appease critics by adopting meaningful net neutrality rules, we’ll be in the same position we were three years ago: Comcast will take the FCC to court–and Comcast will win. It’s simple: you can’t reclassify and keep meaningful net neutrality rules. Reclassification means giving ISPs a free pass for data discrimination.

Chairman Pai’s claim that this move is good for users because it will spur investment in broadband infrastructure is a cynical one at best. Infrastructure investment has gone up since the 2015 Order, ISP profits are growing exponentially, and innovation and expression are flourishing.

At the same time, too many Americans have only one choice for high speed broadband. There are good reasons to worry about FCC overreach regulation in many contexts, but the fact is the U.S. broadband market is now excessively concentrated and lacks real choice, and there are few real options to prevent ISPs from abusing their power. In this environment, repealing the simple, light-touch rules of the road we just won would give ISPs free reign to use their position as Internet gatekeepers to funnel customers to their own content, thereby distorting the open playing field the Internet typically provides, or charge fees for better access to subscribers. Powerful incumbent tech companies will be able to buy their way into the fast lane, but new ones won’t.  Nor will activists, churches, libraries, hospitals, schools or local governments.

We can’t let that happen. So, Team Internet, we need you to step up once again and tell the FCC that it works for the American people, not Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T.  Go to dearfcc.org and tell the FCC not to undermine real net neutrality protections.

Contact the FCC Now

Categories: Aggregated News

Banana Republic Antics in Washington

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 21:38
Banana Republic Antics in Washington
by Stephen Lendman
What’s going on is shocking and appalling - how banana republics operate.
The term refers to politically unstable and repressive countries where a privileged few have a disproportionate share of wealth and power, where ordinary people are exploited, many persecuted, where a police state apparatus enforces control, where nonbelievers face gulag imprisonment.
It’s a plutocracy run by a criminal class, bipartisan in America, complicit with corporate predators. It’s gangsterism run for personal gain at the expense of the general welfare.
It’s what US governance is all about, fantasy democracy, fundamental freedoms disappearing in plain sight - tyranny headed toward becoming full-blown.
Trump’s domestic and geopolitical policies warrant strong criticism. Instead he’s targeted for the wrong reasons, a moving train heading toward removing him for office one way or another if things continue on their present course - a shocking indictment of a debauched system.
Russian expert Steven Cohen calls assaulting him a threat to national security “beyond belief.” 
His Oval Office discussion with Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak was part of his job - not improper dealings with representatives of another country, not an act of treason.
No transmittal of secret classified information occurred, nothing justifying criticism and hysteria.
During his Wednesday Coast Guard Academy address to graduates, Trump was right, saying “(n)o politician in (US) history…has been treated worse and more unfairly” than himself.
The witch-hunt investigation into possible improper dealings by him, his team, and/or campaign with Russia is an embarrassment to legitimate governance. So is falsely accusing Moscow of US election hacking, no evidence suggesting any of the above.
Yet the witch-hunt persists, former FBI director Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel to head it - part of the scheme to remove Trump from office based on phony allegations and accusations.
In appointing Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein explained his “decision is not the finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”
No evidence suggests it, including a Comey memo, no one outside the Justice Department has seen if it exists as portrayed, alleging Trump asked the then-FBI director to drop the Michael Flynn investigation.
A White House statement stressed “the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
In response to Mueller’s appointment, Trump said “a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know. There was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
Claims otherwise are “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between (himself) and Mr. Comey.”
Suggestions of obstruction of justice are way overblown. It involves attempting to impede or interfere with the judicial system and due process of law, including actions to prevent disclosure of damaging or criminal information.
Guilt depends on having knowledge of an investigation and attempting to improperly influence it. No evidence so far suggests it, just differing versions of what may or may not have happened.
In US judicial proceedings, beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof required - especially important in criminal cases where lives and welfare are at stake.
Most important is the fate of the nation. Removing a president unjustly is how despotic banana republics operate - America on course toward replacing the republic with full-blown tyranny.
Maybe nuclear war on Russia, China and Iran will follow under new leadership - the three leading independent states dark forces in Washington want eliminated.
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.

NYT Praise for Witch-Hunt Investigations

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 21:29
NYT Praise for Witch-Hunt Investigations
by Stephen Lendman
Anti-Trump dark forces in Washington want him denigrated, weakened and ousted from office, puppet leadership they control replacing him.
That’s what the hysterical climate is all about, inventing stuff to render him too damaged to continue as president - an unrelenting, media supported, onslaught greater than anyone can withstand.
Media scoundrels support what demands condemnation. The NYT is Trump’s leading antagonist, disgracing itself more than already, serving as press agent for powerful interests at the expense of journalism the way it should be - absent on issues mattering most.
Its editors hailed the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of investigating possible Trump/Russia ties. No evidence suggests any, just phony allegations, including fabricated claims of Russia US election hacking.
Deplorable events in Washington are unprecedented in US history, an assault on the republic, on the remaining vestiges of freedom, things heading toward full-blown tyranny - with full support and encouragement from dark media scoundrels, notably The NYT - serving Machiavellian pure evil.
Times editors: Mueller is charged with revealing the truth about suspicions that reach into the highest levels of the Trump campaign and White House.”
Fact: Charges and allegations are baseless. No evidence suggests wrongdoing.
Time editors: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein “has done the nation a service in choosing Mr. Mueller one of the few people with the experience, stature and reputation to see the job through.”
Fact: Just societies reject witch-hunt investigations. The FBI, CIA, NSA and DHS comprise the national Gestapo, serving powerful interests at the expense of justice.
Times editors urge congressional witch-hunt investigations and a separate independent commission, along with what Mueller will pursue - part of the plot they hope will oust Trump from office.
What’s ongoing is a national disgrace, the shame of the nation, how despotic regimes operate.
The only solution is nonviolent revolution, the only way to change America’s deplorable state - from the bottom up, never top down.
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.

Putin Accused of Bribing Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 21:16
Putin Accused of Bribing Trump
by Stephen Lendman
You have to be delusional to believe it, neocon Senate Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R. CA) making the baseless accusation, saying:
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: (Rep. Dana) Rohrabacher and Trump,” according to a June 15, 2016 recorded discussion with other Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan.
It followed talks on Capitol Hill with putschist Ukrainian prime minister Vladimir Groysman, bashing Russia irresponsibly,  claiming the Kremlin bribes politicians to serve its interests.
It was around the time Moscow was falsely accused of hacking last year’s US presidential election, McCarthy joining the chorus of Russia bashers.
Irresponsibly saying Trump was bribed puts him on the wrong side of good governance, maybe covertly supporting his ousting as president even though Republican leadership maintains public support.
For how long remains open to question. After balking for months, maybe they’ll agree with calls for a special prosecutor and independent commission to investigate alleged Trump/Russia ties - despite no evidence suggesting any, baseless allegations and accusations alone.
A Rohrabacher spokesman said he supports “working closer with the Russians to combat radical Islamism. The congressman doesn’t need to be paid to come to such a necessary conclusion.”
Anyone in Washington supporting improved relations with Russia for any reason, including to combat terrorism, automatically becomes targeted for vilification.
Trump suggesting it got himself marked for removal. He’s fighting for his political life, a battle he may lose.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: 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.

Erdogan in Washington

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 21:06
Erdogan in Washington
by Stephen Lendman
A thuggish security entourage accompanies his foreign trips, clashing with critics when demonstrations are held.
In April 2016 at Brookings, deplorably invited to speak, they made Washington resemble Ankara, clashing with peaceful demonstrators, protesting his crackdown on press freedom, other human rights abuses, war on Turkish Kurds and support for terrorist groups in Syria.
They assaulted journalists covering his talk, outside and inside the venue, including regime critic Adem Yavuz Arslan. They clashed with DC police after demands to remove protesters were rejected.
During Erdogan’s May 16 White House visit, one of many tinpot despots Trump and congressional leaders support, his thuggish security entourage again instigated street violence, viciously attacking Kurdish protesters.
Twelve people were injured, including a police officer, two arrests made. Diplomatic immunity limits or prevents accountability.
Commenting on the incident, DC police chief Peter Newsham said “we witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protesters at the Turkish ambassador’s residence.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a weak-kneed statement, saying “(w)e are concerned by the violent incidents involving protesters and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening.”
“Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest. We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms.”
Expect no further action, words without followup. Newsham said “(w)e are going to pursue everything that’s within our legal power to hold the folks that were responsible for their actions.”
He’s powerless to do anything more than complain. Trump warrants justifiable criticism for meeting with tinpot despot Erdogan at the White House.
Last year, even Obama refused to meet him during his Washington visit. A Trump press secretary statement said they met “to discuss how to further strengthen the deep and diverse relationship between our two countries,” including “the need to work together to confront terrorism” - both countries support left unexplained.
Nothing mentioned about Erdogan’s street thugs assaulting peaceful protesters, nothing about his despotic leadership, nothing about the regional menace he represents.
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.

The FCC Needs to Cut Through The Noise and Listen to The Public’s Support for Net Neutrality

eff.org - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 15:29

The Federal Communications Commission’s vote tomorrow will be a step towards undermining the rules that protect Internet users from data discrimination by their ISPs. These net neutrality rules, though not perfect, have broad support from the public. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai seems to be preparing to dismiss and ignore the wishes of ordinary Internet users by forcing us to use a broken and discredited online comment filing system.

It’s been a sad few weeks for the FCC’s IT department. Following Last Week Tonight host John Oliver’s segment on net neutrality, in which the comedian called on viewers to defend net neutrality protections by filing comments, the FCC’s comment system was disabled. The agency’s Chief Information Officer claimed that the system had been targeted in a distributed denial-of-service attack, bombarding it with traffic and making it difficult to file comments. But despite requests from the public and members of Congress, the FCC hasn’t given any details about the supposed attack or why it concluded that the system was attacked at all, rather than simply being overwhelmed by the number of comments it received.

Following that initial problem, the FCC’s site reportedly received more than 58,000 nearly identical comments containing names and addresses that appeared to be taken from a marketing database. These comments, which seemed to be fraudulent, supported Chairman Pai’s gutting of net neutrality. To date, the FCC hasn’t said what it’s doing to safeguard its comment system and make it ready to handle the thousands, even millions, of public comments it’s likely to receive after tomorrow’s formal vote.

What’s so important about maintaining ECFS and actually hearing the opinions expressed by ordinary Internet users there? Taking comments from the public is not merely a tradition - it’s a key safeguard for democracy. Independent agencies like the FCC have vast rule-making powers. In many areas, they have more practical power over our lives than Congress does, because Congress doesn’t have the capacity or expertise to create the detailed rules that govern telecommunications and other industries.

Unlike Congress, independent agencies aren’t elected by the people—they’re run by boards that are filled by presidents and congressional leaders. They can’t be voted out of office (except indirectly as their members are replaced by future presidents). Because they’re not held accountable through the political process, agencies are required by law to accept and consider public comments before making major changes to the rules. If the FCC responds to attacks on its public comment system not by defending the system, but by discounting and ignoring public opinion expressed through that system, then the agency is answerable to no one. (In theory, Congress could step in and pass new laws concerning net neutrality, but meaningful action by Congress is unlikely this year).

Digital democracy is not easy. The FCC can’t just count comments for and against net neutrality as though they were ballots in a ballot box. But neither can Chairman Pai ignore the opinions of Internet users in the U.S., the majority of whom want to keep being protected against data discrimination by ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. Letting those users be blocked, drowned out by bots, or ignored when they express their opinions on net neutrality is no way to begin.

You can submit comments to the FCC through EFF’s commenting tool at dearfcc.org. We will work to get your comments through and make your voice heard in Washington.

Related Cases: Net Neutrality Lobbying
Categories: Aggregated News

Recording Industry Claims Imaginary Value Gap as a Bigger Threat Than Piracy

eff.org - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 08:08

One of the most significant events that took place at this month's meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), that EFF attended, wasn't part of the meeting's formal agenda. It came at a side-meeting organized by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an affiliate of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). At that meeting, IFPI panelist David Price made the startling admission that copyright infringement is no longer the recording industry's biggest concern.

Apparently, the industry's biggest concern is no longer those who distribute music illegally for free. It's platforms like YouTube that do pay copyright holders, but don't pay enough. According to the IFPI, YouTube's reliance on the U.S. DMCA and Europe's E-Commerce Directive to allow it to host user-uploaded music videos has created a "value gap" that deprives the recording industry of royalties they believe should be theirs. The sudden elevation of this supposed "value gap" above the bugaboo of piracy is all the more surprising because term didn't even exist until about 2016, when it was created out of whole cloth as a device to explain why copyright holders should be entitled to a larger slice of Internet platform revenues.

Interestingly, Price and his co-panelists at the WIPO event admitted that there ought to be free music services for those who don't wish to pay. Currently, YouTube provides this free service for millions of users around the world. It pays royalties to copyright holders for doing so, even for user-uploaded content, where the copyright owner can be identified using ContentID fingerprint matching. (The law doesn't require YouTube to do this, although plans are afoot in Europe to change this.) ContentID has serious problems, including imposing advertising and monetization on critical videos that are clear fair uses, against the wishes of video creators. But in the right circumstances, it also provides an important revenue stream for recording artists.

The record labels' contention is that YouTube streaming depresses the rates that subscription-based music streaming services, such as Spotify, are willing to pay for streaming licenses. That's an interesting theory, but research released by Google casts significant doubt on it. At least according to the Google-sponsored research, YouTube actually diverts users not from other paid services, but from infringement. Were YouTube to go away, 85% of views would simply disappear, or would move to lower-value alternatives such as illegal file sharing.

Just as the entertainment industry's war against "piracy" harmed users, through the ratcheting up of enforcement measures and the banning of technological tools, so too the new war against user-generated content platforms will also have harmful effects. That's because the legal foundation of user-generated content platforms, the copyright safe harbor that lies at the heart of the DMCA's Section 512 and the E-Commerce Directive, doesn't only facilitate the sharing of music, but also all of the other speech and innovation that happens on those platforms. Entertainment industry-driven attacks on that foundation, such as Europe's mandatory upload filtering plan, and proposals to replace Section 512 in the U.S. with a filtering mandate, could have significant negative impacts on the viability of online content platforms, and on the rights of their users. The greatest impacts will be on platforms that are much smaller than YouTube, and on new entrants.

During IFPI's presentation, we asked them directly about the desired "end game" of their opposition to the safe harbor protections that YouTube and similar platforms enjoy. While they denied that their goal was to dismantle copyright safe harbor protection altogether, there was no doubt that they are serious in their intent to prevent YouTube from taking advantage of it. That inevitably means eliminating the DMCA and E-Commerce Directive safe harbor rules that millions of other websites, both commercial and noncommercial, rely upon today, and replacing them with mandatory filtering rules.

It's all rather ironic given that the IFPI acknowledge how streaming services, including YouTube, have led the recording industry to a resurgence of profitability in the past two years. If safe harbor rules have now eclipsed infringement as the biggest threat to the recording industry, and the industry can still earn record profits even so, it's difficult to see how scrapping those rules could possibly be warranted.

Categories: Aggregated News

Nominate a 2017 Pioneer!

eff.org - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 05:01

Nominations are now open for EFF's 26th Annual Pioneer Awards, to be presented this fall in San Francisco. EFF established the Pioneer Awards in 1992 to recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of technology. The nomination window will be open until 11:59pm PDT on May 23, 2017. You could nominate the next Pioneer Award winner today!

What does it take to be a Pioneer? Nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications. Their contributions may be technical, social, legal, academic, economic or cultural. This year’s Pioneers will join an esteemed group of past award winners that includes the late visionary activist Aaron Swartz; open source pioneer Limor "Ladyada" Fried; and the documentarian and journalist Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, among many remarkable activists, entrepreneurs, public interest attorneys, and others.

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

The Pioneer Award ceremony depends on the generous support of individuals and companies with passion for digital civil liberties. To learn about how you can sponsor the Pioneer Awards, please email nicole@eff.org.

Remember, nominations are due no later than 11:59pm PDT on Tuesday, May 23! After you nominate your favorite contenders, we hope you will consider joining us this fall in San Francisco to celebrate the work of the 2017 winners. If you have any questions or if you'd like to receive updates about the event, including ticket information, please email tiffany@eff.org.

Nominate your favorite digital rights hero now!

Categories: Aggregated News

US Political Schizophrenia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 03:03
US Political Schizophrenia
by Stephen Lendman
The Mayo Clinic calls the disease “a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally, (including) some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.”
It’s “a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment.” Symptoms include beliefs not based on reality - bad enough in people, potentially catastrophic for nuclear powers afflicted this way.
Vladimir Putin called America “political(ly) schizophreni(c),” - an out-of-control monster threatening world peace, my comment not his, though no doubt we’re likeminded. 
On Wednesday, he diplomatically ridiculed the phony accusation of Trump providing Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak with classified information on ISIS.
“(W)e are ready to provide the (US) Congress with the transcript of the (Oval Office) conversation between” these officials to prove no US state secrets were revealed, he said.
Claims otherwise were falsified to bash Russia and Trump, an insidious plot continuing endlessly, the outrageous way Washington operates.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov explained no Russian audio recording was made, a written transcript alone available, yet likely to be just as accurate, revealing exactly what was discussed and language used.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “(a)s president I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled WH meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining…
…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Having delegated warmaking to neocon generals, it’s unclear what he knows or doesn’t know about US military operations - before or after events occur.
According to Putin, hysteria is America’s problem, not Russia’s. Reason won’t resolve anything given longstanding US hostility toward Moscow, inventing reasons to vilify its policies and leadership.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump was bashed for wanting improved relations with Russia, opposition to how NATO is run, and criticizing the “mess” from US interventionism, among other reasons.
Now it’s largely for invented reasons instead of legitimate ones. He’s in trouble, fighting for his political life.
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.

US Wants Syria Balkanized and Destroyed

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 18/05/2017 - 02:53
US Wants Syria Balkanized and Destroyed
by Stephen Lendman
Russian and US objectives are world’s apart in Syria. Moscow hopes de-escalation zones can be an important step toward conflict resolution, wanting them instituted nationwide, a major turning point if achieved.
Neocon policymakers in Washington want endless conflict, regime change, and Syrian sovereignty destroyed, balkanizing the country part of their scheme.
US special forces and marines in northern Syria, bordering Turkey, aided by US terror-bombing, want the territory split from Damascus.
A similar scheme is intended for southern Syria, bordering Jordan and Iraq, an unnamed Syrian military source saying government forces won’t let US-led Western and rogue regional allies create a buffer zone to be used as a safe haven for terrorists they support.
Russian-language Investia cited a military source, saying government forces intend securing control over parts of the Damascus road to Baghdad - to secure arms and munitions supplied from Iraq.
Former general Mohammad Abbas said US-backed terrorists plan a southern Syria buffer zone, similar to Golan, bordering Jordan and Iraq. Government forces intend preventing it.
On the pretext of combating ISIS, Syrian intelligence warned about possible US, UK and Jordanian forces intending to invade southern Syria. 
Damascus is on high alert, aided by Russian intelligence. No southern invasion so far occurred.
Separately, US-led terror-bombing continues massacring civilians in Syria. On May 15, its Foreign Ministry accused Washington and its allies of killing 26 civilians in Raqqa province’s al-Ekirshi village, many others injured, the death toll expected to rise.
A separate US-led attack in Albu Kamal massacred 31 civilian men, women and children, numerous others injured, many severely - residential areas targeted, knowing civilians would perish.
On Tuesday, US-led terror-bombing killed dozens of civilians and wounded many others in Deir Ezzor.
So-called coalition aerial operations are killing noncombatants regularly on the phony pretext of combating ISIS America and its rogue allies support.
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.

Chelsea Manning: Free at Last

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 17/05/2017 - 23:01
Chelsea Manning: Free at Last
by Stephen Lendman
Her long ordeal bears testimony to state-sponsored viciousness, deep emotional scars certain to remain longterm.
It’s official. She’s free following seven horrific years of brutal political imprisonment - for doing the right thing.
Arrested in April 2010, she was viciously treated, held in brutalizing pre-trial confinement for over three years before court proceedings began - a flagrant 8th Amendment violation, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment for any reason.
On January 17, Obama commuted her sentence, effective May 17 - waiting nearly seven years to do the right thing instead of intervening right away responsibly.
At the time of her conviction and sentencing, including for five long ago outdated, 1917 WW I Espionage Act charges, Brennan Center for Justice Liberty and National Security Program co-director Elizabeth Goitein said:
“Manning is one of very few people ever charged under the Espionage Act (prosecuted) for leaks to the media. The only other person who was convicted after trial was pardoned.”
“Despite the lack of any evidence that (she) intended any harm to the United States, Manning faces decades in prison. That’s a very scary precedent.”
Throughout its sordid history, fairness and justice were never US attributes - a rogue state harming so many worldwide for so long.
Manning is a courageous whistleblower, criminalized for exposing US wrongdoing, her show trial a travesty of justice. She should have been honored instead of sentenced to longterm imprisonment.
On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress declared it the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.” 
Precisely what Manning did, exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, important information Americans have a right to know, including:
• the Collateral Murder video, exposing the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians by a US Apache helicopter crew;
• the Afghan War Diary, revealing uninvestigated civilian casualties and private military contractor abuses;
• the Iraq War Logs, revealing civilian casualties and uninvestigated reports of torture; along with
• US diplomatic cables, explaining corporate interests and espionage in international diplomacy.
Ahead of her freedom, Manning released a statement for the first time since her sentence was commuted, saying:
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.” 
“Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts.” 
“I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.”
“I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists.” 
“My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own.” 
“I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.”
Manning’s clemency and appellate attorneys Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward respectively explained she served the longest sentence in US history for whistleblowing - enduring draconian punishment for doing the right thing.
Chelsea Manning, free at last, her ruthlessly imposed ordeal ended - time for solace, healing and continued support from her legion of admirers worldwide.
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.

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