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Power Up 2014: Double Your Impact!

eff.org - Wed, 10/12/2014 - 03:26

I’m excited to announce the start of this year’s Power Up Your Donation campaign! Until the end of Friday, donations to EFF through the campaign will be matched, meaning every gift has double the impact on digital rights. The matching funds for this campaign come from passionate supporters who banded together to provide Power Up challenge grants totaling $89,000. Please donate today and help us reach our goal!


In 2014, EFF strengthened programs throughout the organization in response to the growing, worldwide movement for digital rights. We expanded challenges to NSA surveillance, convinced companies to protect communications with encryption, battled patent trolls, built ambitious tools to make browsing safer and more secure, revised and translated our comprehensive guide to defending against surveillance, made the case for net neutrality, and much more. We have even bigger plans for 2015, and joining the Power Up Your Donation campaign is a fantastic way to jump-start support for these ongoing efforts.

Another excellent way to help: Let others know about the Power Up Your Donation campaign. Donations from individuals anchor EFF's public interest work, and this week is the perfect time to make a big impact. Here's a short blurb to you can use or edit to spread the word:

Let's defend digital rights. Donate to @EFF this week for a match—that's 2× the impact! https://eff.org/power-up

Or, you can use these links to start posts to various social networks:

Twitter * Facebook * Google+

Together, we can protect user privacy, free expression, and innovation in a digital world. Join EFF and power up your donation today!
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Categories: Aggregated News

EFF Asks Court to Shine Light on Patent Troll's Claims

eff.org - Wed, 10/12/2014 - 03:11

Legend has it that trolls turn to stone when faced with sunlight. That’s why yesterday, EFF filed a motion in the Eastern District of Texas (a favorite jurisdiction for patent trolls) to intervene and unseal documents in a patent infringement case. In the motions, EFF argues that the plaintiff’s infringement contentions (the documents that lay out, step-by-step, why the defendant’s product is allegedly infringing the patent) are improperly sealed from public scrutiny.

The plaintiff in this case, Traffic Information LLC, claims that two of its patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 6,785,606 and 6,466,862) cover “traffic information systems.” Traffic’s patents are apparently so broad that since 2007, it has sued over 100 different entities, including banks, clothing stores, insurance companies, and even a smoothie shop.

In June, Traffic filed a patent infringement suit against State Farm. Soon after, it served infringement contentions. But Traffic claimed that its contentions were so confidential that State Farm’s outside lawyers couldn’t even tell State Farm why it was being sued for patent infringement. When State Farm answered the complaint, it attached the infringement contentions, but because Traffic labeled them confidential, State Farm’s answer was sealed from public view. Traffic and State Farm settled soon after.

We’re not sure why Traffic has designated its contentions as highly confidential, but in any event, doing so impacts other litigants and the public. For example, sealing can be used to make it more difficult to figure out whether a party is making inconsistent statements. Sealing can also make it difficult for a defendant to figure out whether it has certain defenses, such as exhaustion (i.e. the accused products and methods are already licensed). And by keeping the contentions from the actual party accused of infringement, sealing prevents a defendant from designing around the patent or more importantly, figuring out whether they actually infringe. All this works to encourage defendants to settle the case rather than pay the high costs of fighting. Thus the practice of sealing as many court documents as possible can be part of a strategy to increase costs by adding more bureaucratic red tape to defending against a patent infringement lawsuit.

More importantly, however, improper sealing harms the public. By designating its infringement contentions as confidential the patent holder works to evade one of the primary purposes of public patents: to put the public on notice of what the patentee claims to have invented. That is, instead of abiding by the quid pro quo of the patent system (market exclusivity in exchange for public disclosure of the innovation), the patent holder seemingly gets of the benefits of exclusivity while working to keep the alleged scope of the patent secret.

Furthermore, the practice of unnecessarily sealing court documents is contrary to our public and open judicial system. Even though the case is over between State Farm and Traffic, the general public has an interest in open access to court records and documents: that’s part of our First Amendment guarantees. And for good reason: patent troll litigation strategies and tactics are active topics of public debate. Normally, the public could rely on court records to better understand how patent rights are being used (or abused) in our system. Improperly sealed records deprive the public of a valuable source of information.  And because sealing key court documents has become a trend, of sorts, amongst patent trolls, EFF has moved to intervene so that this behavior doesn’t work to prevent meaningful debate.

The rules put the burden on the parties to justify the sealing of any documents. Unfortunately, too often do the parties’ assertions about confidentiality go unchallenged. EFF hopes that by filing this motion, courts will be more willing to question parties’ assertions that shield documents from the public eye.

Related Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsTransparency
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Categories: Aggregated News

The Danger of New Post-Fixation Rights in the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

eff.org - Wed, 10/12/2014 - 02:03

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been working towards the development of a Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations since 1998; about three times as long as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have taken so far, but with far less to show for it. Part of the reason for the delay has been a fundamental lack of clarity about what the whole exercise is actually about.

The often-stated motivation for the treaty is to add to broadcasters' legal armory to combat the piracy of broadcast signals. Although they can already bring a lawsuit for infringement of the copyright content being broadcast (which is how Internet TV streaming provider Aereo was brought down this year), they point out that some broadcast signals, such as sports coverage, may not attract copyright protection.

For all of the time that we've been covering this issue, we haven't opposed a narrow treaty that would address this specific problem of the piracy of traditional broadcast signals. But broadcasters want more. The latest draft of the treaty also attempts to control post-fixation uses of broadcast signals—in other words, to provide broadcasters with rights to control uses of content that has been recorded from a broadcast.

The problems with this should be obvious. Since these post-fixation rules would apply regardless of whether the content was in the public domain or whether a “fair use” argument applies, it could impact the work of journalists, archivists, and creators who could otherwise legally gain access to source content through broadcasts.

The draft also includes worrisome protections that would prohibit DRM on broadcasts from being circumvented, which could outlaw the use of open source video software such as VLC and MythTV to watch or time-shift televisions broadcasts, and would restrict future technological innovation. These provisions would effectively nullify the effect of any exceptions and limitations to the exclusive rights of broadcasters that the treaty may end up adopting.

Although the current state of negotiations would only provide rights to “traditional” broadcasters (and, probably, cablecasters), many delegations, including most vociferously Europe, argue that it should extend to non-traditional activities of those broadcasters, such as Internet simulcasting and even online catch-up TV services. We worry that this will stifle innovative reuses of these services, such as services that might repackage Internet streams in different formats, or create fair use archives.

That's why at WIPO this week, we again urged member states to restrict the treaty to dealing with the narrow and discrete problem of piracy of traditional broadcast transmissions, rather than opening up a Pandora's box by including Internet transmissions and post-fixation rights. Here's the complete text of the statement we delivered:

This year marks the tenth anniversary of EFF's involvement in discussions over a WIPO treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations. During all that time our position has been constant: that any such treaty should be limited to addressing the unauthorized simultaneous and near simultaneous retransmission of traditional broadcast signals to the public, without assigning any new exclusive rights in the content of those signals.

We also note that it would be possible to include a right to prohibit the transmission of pre-broadcast signals within a signal-based approach, and without assigning any new exclusive rights.

Although this has notionally been accepted in the past, when WIPO members agreed at the 2007 General Assembly to follow a signal-based approach, current discussions on post-fixation rights have back-tracked from this commitment, and it is that, more than anything else, that has led these negotiations to become so protracted.

Creating new exclusive rights in post-broadcast fixations would impede access to public domain material and material over which copyright limitations and exceptions may apply. This is because such material may not be readily available other than from broadcasts, such as in the case of broadcasts of sport or news events.

It would also impede the use of technological innovations that add value to broadcasts, especially if the treaty also curtailed the use of circumvention devices. This could affect consumer technologies such as digital video recorders, streaming media players, and new innovations that we cannot even envisage yet, especially those running on free and open source hardware and software.

EFF urges WIPO members to be disciplined in their adherence to a narrow signal-based approach, as we see this as the only way that a treaty for the protection of broadcasting organizations can be concluded in 2015, or at all.

Related Issues: InternationalWIPORelated Cases: WNET v. Aereo
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Categories: Aggregated News

Phony Kiev Day of Silence

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 10/12/2014 - 00:44
Phony Kiev Day of Silence
by Stephen Lendman
Last week, illegitimate/oligarch Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko declared December 9 a "day of silence."
Ahead of Human Rights Day. On December 10. This year's theme: Human Rights 365. 
Longstanding Western tool Kan Ki-moon "call(ing) on states to honor their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year."
"I call on people to hold their governments to account." Ban is an imperial apologist. Supporting US-led Western wars on humanity.  
Doing nothing responsible to denounce them. Demand US and coalition partners be held accountable. Israel for its high crimes against peace.
Kiev putschists for usurping power. Governing illegitimately. Waging dirty war on their own people. 
Poroshenko's so-called "day of silence" is meaningless. He violated agreed on Geneva and Minsk ceasefire terms straightaway.
Why expect anything different this time? Donbas leaders agreed to halt fighting. Doubt Poroshenko's intentions. Will only "return fire" in self-defense. If attacked.
Day of silence agreement was reached with no preconditions. Ceasefire terms to be discussed in Geneva. Originally scheduled for December 9. Now postponed.
Provisionally rescheduled for December 12. Subject to approval by both sides.
Any time is OK, according to Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) leader Igor Plotnitsky. "(S)ilence…is being observed and has not been violated so far," he said.
"There was shelling in the morning. Now (silence is) holding, but we will see whether it will last. At the moment, there is no shelling."
Nor in Donetsk, according to its defense ministry. DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko saying ceasefire terms were declared on September 5.
"We didn’t violate (them) on a single occasion. All the violations (were) committed by the Ukrainian Army. If (it) doesn’t open fire, we won’t open it either."
DPR Vice Chairman/ceasefire talks representative Denis Pushilin said "(l)et's hope some kind of ceasefire will begin indeed."
Hold the cheers. In early November, Poroshenko reneged on Donbas self-rule status. After legislation granted it on September 9.
At the time, state-controlled Ukrainian News Agency reported it as follows:
"The Verkhovna Rada has set special status for some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the period of three years…" 
"Respective draft law No. 5081 was registered by President Petro Poroshenko at the Verkhovna Rada on September 16."
"Under the document, bodies of local governments are allowed to create voluntary people's militia units to protect order on the territory of the said regions."
"…(L)ocal governments there are able to take measures on assistance in use of Russian and other languages in education, mass media organizations, judicial system, and other sectors of public life."
"…(T)he law envisions provision of state assistance to socioeconomic development of some districts via the introduction of special economic regime for rendering economic and investment activity aimed at restoration of industry, infrastructure, housing stock and creation of new jobs."
After enactment, Poroshenko said Donbas will remain part of Ukraine. Federalization won't happen. Ukraine's territorial integrity won't be compromised. 
He called naked aggression "an anti-terrorist operation. (F)ully compl(ying) with the United Nations Charter and meets Ukraine’s liabilities under international law, including human rights norms, refugee rights and international humanitarian law."
Threatened "total war" on Russia. (F)ull-scale war" on Donbas. "Better prepared than five months ago," he said. 
Mobilized Ukrainian forces aggressively. Perhaps intending greater than ever mass slaughter and destruction. 
Wants hardline rule replacing Donbas democracy. At the same time claiming he wants people. Fascists operate this way.
Self-rule status legislation wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Poroshenko wants Donbas freedom fighters crushed.
In mid-November, imposed economic blockade conditions on Donetsk and Lugansk. At the same time claiming a possible Russian attack.
Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) leader Igor Plotnitsky called blockading Donbas "an act of genocide designed to impoverish and destroy our people." 
“We are not going to sheer away from our path." he said. "We are going to live better than Ukraine for which the power of the oligarchs will turn out to be worse and more destructive than any blockade."
Donetsk People's Republic (DRP) Vice Chairman Denis Pushilin calling Poroshenko's decree "another example of the crudest violation of the Minsk protocol."
Abolishing human rights protections. Imposing economic blockade conditions. Suspending state services. Including for schools, hospitals and emergency needs.
Telling his cabinet "to terminate the activities of state enterprises, institutions and organisations in the various territories where anti-terrorist operations are being conducted."
Ordering Ukraine's central bank to suspend operations in Donbas. Freezing individual and company accounts.
Subjecting local power plants to "special procedure(s) for accounting supplies of fuel." Potentially suspending them altogether for plants unable to pay. 
Cutting off heat as winter approaches. A survival issue for many. Putin called Poroshenko's decree "a big mistake."
On December 9, Sputnik News reported Washington "working together with Ukraine to broaden US military, financial and economic assistance…"
A previous article discussed Washington arming Ukraine covertly. Supplying heavy weapons and munitions.
Brazenly violating Geneva and Minsk agreements. Stipulating all sides refrain from violence, intimidations and provocations. Mandating an immediate ceasefire.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich warned about supplying weapons and munitions. 
Doing so sends "a very serious signal," he said. In "direct violation of agreements." Including those achieved in partnership with Washington.
At Geneva and Minsk. UN pledges. Kerry promises to Sergey Lavrov during bilateral meetings.
Washington says one thing. Does another. Rogue states operate this way. Directly aiding Kiev's naked aggression.
Poroshenko's declared day of silence is head-fake deception. Sergey Lavrov expressed concern about Kiev operating extrajudicially.
Calling lack of "a constitutional process (a) systematic problem." Changing things "needs to be done immediately."
Lavrov urges Council of Europe (CE) involvement. "Russia would like the CE to pay greater attention to extremism and exert more active efforts for the protection of rights of minorities," he said. 
"(W)e believe that the CE should be more actively involved in legal monitoring in Ukraine."
"A nationwide dialogue on a constitutional reform is needed. (It's) most pressing for people to stop being killed."
Lavrov remains cautiously hopeful for peace. At the same time saying "(t)his is not the first time truce was declared."
In early September, Kiev announced plans for wall construction on Russia's border. Stretching 2,300 km. Ludicrously claiming to protect against Russian invasion.
Defensive structures including ditches, test-track lanes, vehicle-barrier trenches and optical surveillance towers to detect Russian troop and vehicle movements.
Construction expected to take about four years. Costing an estimated $517 million. For a country effectively bankrupt. Unable to pay bills without financial help.
In late November, Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland reacted harshly. 
Saying "(t)he wall destroys the fate of people and their families. This is unacceptable. It is necessary to strengthen an idea of 'Common European Home.' "
Federal Agency for the Development of State Border Facilities (Rosgranitsa) head Konstantin Busygin believes Kiev's wall won't last long," saying:
"At a certain point, Germany was divided by a wall. And this one, even if it’s built, it's all the same temporary. It will be broken sooner or later.
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha called Kiev's wall project "worthless. (A) monument to human stupidity."
Russian upper house Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko called Kiev's "step…a very odious, half-baked, unprofessional, and populist manifestation."
Offensively anti-Russian. "(W)hen borders are being wiped off, when more and more countries sign agreements on visa-free travel, on free movements within the framework of globalization processes, the idea to dig up a pit and to build a wall sounds like savagery for me." 
"(W)e should build bridges rather than build a wall or dig up a pit."
Millions of Ukrainians work in Russia. During times of peace and stability. Another 800,000 or more fled Southeastern Ukraine for safety.
Fascist putschists govern Ukraine. Washington's newest colony. Threatening regional peace and stability.
Waging war on their own people. Challenging Russia irresponsibly. Risking direct confrontation. Poroshenko's threatened "total war."
Bluster and bravado substituting for good sense, rationality and reason. Rule of law principles mean something.
Rogue states operate extrajudicially. Possible full-scale war looms.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Israel Partners with Obama's War on Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 09/12/2014 - 20:45
Israel Partners with Obama's War on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Both countries partner in each other's wars. Israel bombs Syria at its discretion. Naked aggression by any standard. Longstanding Israeli practice. 
The latest incident striking a Damascus' international airport warehouse. Believed to contain Iranian and Russian-supplied weapons. 
Separate attacks targeted a Dimas area military site near Lebanon's border. Syrian and Lebanese sources reported at least 10 strikes. 
Israel's last air attack was in March. Against alleged Syrian Quneitra region military positions. On Syria's side of the Golan.
A Syrian Foreign Ministry letter to Ban Ki-moon and Chadian Security Council president Mahamat Zene Cherif said in part:
"The Syrian government called for imposing deterring sanctions on Israel, which did not hide its policy in supporting terrorism, calling also on taking all procedures, in accordance with the UN Charter, to prevent Israel from repeating such attacks."
The letter accused Israel of committing a "heinous crime." Striking Syrian territory lawlessly. Wanting Security Council imposed sanctions. US veto power prevents it. 
Russia called Israeli attacks "aggressive action." Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich saying:
"Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation."
Iranian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham strongly condemned Israeli air strikes, saying:
"The Zionist regime intends to misuse Syria's critical conditions, but the consequences of warmongerings will backfire on the regime."
Israel collaborates with anti-Syrian terrorist groups, she added. Massacring its "oppressed people."
Separately, Fars News reported "(a)n Iraqi army unit…find(ing) around 10 weapons and munitions depots (containing) Israeli-made weapons and explosives."
"(I)n Hamrin mountains." Apparently used by IS terrorists. According to Fars News:
"This is not the first time that such revelations are made about Israeli arms aids to the terrorists in the region." 
"In February, a senior Iraqi military commander disclosed that the weapons used by ISIL in its war against both the governments of Syria and Iraq are Israeli-made."
"In June, the Syrian army discovered and seized a large cache of Israeli-made weapons and ammunition from Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Banias city of the Tartous governorate near the Lebanese borders."
"The Syrian troops discovered the arms depot in al-Maydan district of Banias city arresting several armed rebels during the operations."
"The security forces also confiscated several sniper rifles, thousands of bullets and forged documents as well as maps of Banias city from the armed rebels."
"Syrian Special Forces seized weapons and ammunition in farmlands in Banias city and arrested an armed group in the countryside trying to flee to the Lebanese territories."
"Earlier, in 2013, the Syrian army discovered and seized Israeli-made missiles and weapons from armed rebels in Reef (outskirts of) al-Qusseir in Northwestern Syria."
"(I)n December 2012, the Syrian army seized Israeli-made missiles and weapons from the armed rebels near the border with Jordan.The army confiscated (from terrorists) Israeli-made LAV anti-tank missiles and several wireless equipment which were also made in Israel…"
Israel neither confirmed or denied the latest attack. At the same time, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said:
"We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations."
Israel supports Islamic State, Nusra Front and other anti-Syrian terrorist groups. Serving as their air force. Along with Washington.
UN Golan Heights observers report regular contacts between Israel and radicalized terrorist groups. According to the UN Tribune:
UN Disengagement Observer Force(s) (UNDOF) "monitoring the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria have witnessed interactions between members of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Al Nusra Front who have taken over a large part of the Golan Heights."
Including treating wounded terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Israel's Ministry of Health admitted treating about 1,000 in four northern Israeli hospitals.
An IDF spokesman saying "in the past two years the Israeli Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity."
UNDOF reports show IDF/extremist rebel interactions weren't limited to medical care. Israeli forces were seen handing two boxes to extremist groups in Syrian territory.
Israeli soldiers opened a Syrian border gate. Letting two unidentified individuals enter Israel.
The IDF erected tents for dozens of families of alleged Syrian deserters. In Syrian territory. About 300 meters from Israel's border.
Syria complained last September. Telling UNDOF the so-called camp was a "base (for) armed terrorists." A legitimate target if not removed.
Syrian UN envoy Bashar Jaafari comments often about anti-government terrorist groups getting aid from neighboring countries.
Including an "undeclared alliance with Israel," Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said unnamed "Middle East military and intelligence sources" called Israel's latest attack its "first overt military clash with Russia" since conflict erupted in March 2011.
Allegedly targeting Iranian weapons. Moscow supplied SA-25 components. Other "top-line anti-air missile systems." Intended for Syrian and Hezbollah use.
Russian transport planes supposedly "shipped these consignments in the last few days to the military section of Damascus international airport."
Israeli air strikes occurred the day after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.
DF sources claim Moscow wants "a reckoning with the US and Israel over the fall in the last week of October of the large Russian intelligence post at Tel a-Hara in southern Syria to Syrian rebel units."
"One of the most highly sophisticated Russian intelligence bases outside its borders…The prized hi-tech apparatus, much of it unfamiliar to Western spy agencies, was quickly shipped out of Syria for examination in the West."
On Monday, US military sources said Israeli strikes targeted newly arrived Russian hardware. Including advanced missiles and radar.
DF saying to be deployed ahead of a possible US/Turkey imposed northern Syria no-fly zone.
Letting US warplanes operate within Syrian territory from Turkey's Incirlik airbase. Including against Syrian aircraft, helicopters and drones entering no-fly zone areas.
Moscow calls establishing any type buffer zone direct US intervention against Syria. Giving it just cause to defend Assad.
Another wrinkle in what's ongoing is Israel's upcoming March 2014 elections. Netanyahu's prime ministerial job up for grabs.
Citing security threats served him well in previous campaigns. He hopes fear-mongering will help this time. Claiming a region filled with threats. 
Invented ones serving his interests. Israelis overwhelmingly supported Operation Protective Edge. Attacking Syrian positions shows Netanyahu's toughness.
A Knesset Channel aired poll shows he's in for a close race. An opposition Labor/Hatnua center-left alliance getting 23 seats. 
Compared to Netanyahu-led Likud's 21. Partnering with one or more right-wing parties might be enough to remain prime minister.
Despite his sagging popularity. Plunging from 77% around midyear to 38% currently. 
Polls show Israelis favor him for prime minister over other choices - 26% approval compared to Labor's Isaac Herzog's 15% and Economy Minister (Jewish Home party) Naftali Bennett's 11%.
Elections are over three months away. A lifetime in politics. Anything can happen between now and then.
Maybe another Gaza war to shore up Netanyahu's popularity. Beware possible false flags or other stunts for whatever he may have in mind.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama’s Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras

eff.org - Tue, 09/12/2014 - 10:41

You may be shocked to hear that EFF doesn't think technology is a solution to every problem. That includes problems with the police and with public safety. And, as we’ve pointed out when it comes to drones and other types of local surveillance, we think adoption of new technology requires communities to understand and discuss the pros and cons.

That’s why we think President Obama’s announcement last week about federal assistance to local law enforcement was a little lackluster. The President made it clear that he plans to leave largely untouched the controversial programs that funnel military equipment and surveillance technology to communities like Ferguson, and fund programs like fusion centers. The announcement accompanies the release of a 19-page report [PDF] on “Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Acquisition” from the President’s office.

The Good

The report recommends increased local community engagement around the acquisition of equipment. President Obama has asked staff to draft an order “directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations within 120 days,” for process improvements.

And consistent with calls from ACLU of California, EFF, and others, the order might “require local civilian (non-police) review of and authorization for LEAs [law enforcement agencies] to request or acquire controlled equipment.” This should be the baseline for implementation of any new technology, and we’re glad to see that it’s being considered. Similarly, the order might “require after-action analysis reports for significant incidents involving federally provided or federally-funded equipment,” as well as increased training.

But these are minor improvements. And they’re not actually in the implementation stage, so as Phil Mattingly over at Bloomberg put it, “Obama's review will lead to ... more review?”

The Bad

Worse, the bad significantly outweighs the good in the report and recommendations. Here’s why: the review and the President’s plan for action doesn’t do anything to end or even slow any of these equipment transfers. In fact, as Guardian columnist and former EFF activist Trevor Timm points out, the report “largely defend[s] the variety of federal programs that funnel billions of dollars of weaponry and high-tech surveillance gear to local police every year.” It spends 2 pages providing recommendations, and 17 describing the programs.

And as with the bulk of the Congressional hearing that happened on September 9 around military equipment transfer, the President's review broadly overlooks surveillance technology. But the same DHS money that funds armored vehicles and night vision goggles funds intelligence gathering at the local level through fusion centers and drones, and events like Urban Shield, a 4 day long event that featured "preparedness" exercises as well as a marketplace of military and surveillance technology. And automated license plate readers, iris scanners, and facial recognition technology are all candidates for federal assistance.

The Body Cameras

Body cameras are the most concrete piece of President Obama's proposal. The “new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage” through a “$75 million investment over three years [that] could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras.” 

But not everyone thinks body cameras will help.

The basic premise of body cameras, of course, is that police officers who are being recorded will behave better. And if they don’t, it will be easier to obtain evidence of their bad behavior. After all, it is videos like the one showing the horrific choking of Eric Garner that have spurred the national conversation around police brutality—making this a tempting proposition.

And an oft-cited study backs this up: police in Rialto, California began wearing body cameras for a year in February 2012, and as the Guardian reported, “public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.”

Those results are impressive, but have failed to convince some critics. Jacob Crawford, an activist who has long been involved in Copwatch, worked with the Canfield Watchmen, residents at the Canfield housing project in Ferguson to help them obtain their own cameras. Along with civil rights attorney Rachel Lederman, he points out that the widely publicized Rialto study has been stretched beyond belief:

Rialto is a small city with only 66 cops, and its Police Chief, Tony Farrar, collaborated with Taser International, Inc., in the study. The Taser corporation has gained record profits by marketing body cameras to hundreds of cities, along with a cloud-based backup and search service called Evidence.com, which was used to collect the data for the Rialto study that led to many of these sales.

And of course, there’s the problem that, unless used very carefully, body cameras incidentally capture footage of anyone in the line of a police officer’s sight. That’s why an ACLU policy paper notes that body cameras can be a good thing— when accompanied by strong policies to address the privacy concerns. It points out several issues that must be considered in developing such policies:

  • Police must not be able to "edit on the fly, meaning police cannot have control over when a camera is turned off or on,” (although if cameras are always on, that poses a serious threat to privacy);
  • police must provide notice that recording is happening;
  • data should be retained only as long as necessary;
  • recordings should be used only for misconduct hearings and where there is a reasonable suspicion that a recording has evidence of a crime;
  • policies for access to footage should ensure that individual’s privacy is maintained, while also allowing transparency and oversight; and
  • body camera systems must be carefully designed to ensure data is strictly controlled.

But others question the efficacy of cameras. After all, the shocking video of police brutality in cases like Eric Garner's have surely helped spark public protest—but didn't discourage the actual conduct. And in reference to multiple specific incidents over the last few years where police were filmed engaging in serious misconduct, Guardian columnist and criminal defense attorney Alexa Van Brunt notes, "video didn’t deter them, and it didn’t help their victims. Instead, officers in each case thought they could get away with police brutality—and they may have been right.”

WeCopwatch's Crawford also points out that in Oakland, one of the first localities to implement the use of body cams, results have not been encouraging. Cameras have issues with battery life, and have “shown themselves highly likely to malfunction during crucial incidents—or fall off, or be left behind or not turned on, despite policies which require officers to wear them and activate them during stops and other encounters.” And Oakland’s independent police monitor (appointed because of civil rights litigation against the department) noted in a January 2014 report that “[t]he matter of the proper use of the Department’s PDRDs remains a concern. In too many instances, there are questions about the measure to which personnel throughout the Department understand the use, review, and utility of these devices.”

Finally, as Crawford points out, body cameras don’t “show close proximity physical encounters between an officer and victim,” while still, “allowing the officer to supply his own narration, such as yelling 'Stop resisting' while pummeling a person.”  

Oh, and the Ugly

Underlying all these concerns is an ugly truth: none of these suggestions can fully address the structural problems—especially racism—that allow police to brutalize and even kill unarmed civilians (predominantly people of color, in particular young black men) with impunity. And until that happens, all the technology in the world won’t help. Many communities deeply mistrust law enforcement, a mistrust based on documented police misconduct. That mistrust, and the reasons for it, have been around much longer than wearable cameras. We shouldn’t pretend that cameras will solve the problem.

Related Issues: Surveillance Drones
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West Wants Putin Deposed

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 09/12/2014 - 05:58
West Wants Putin Deposed
by Stephen Lendman
Regime change is longstanding US policy. All independent states are targeted. Mainly Washington's two main rivals - Russia and China.
Long sought US dominance depends on toppling their existing governments. Replacing them with pro-Western vassal ones. Puppet leadership subservient to Washington.
No easy task given their formidable power. Determination to remain independent. Free from outside control. 
Especially Washington. Wanting unchallenged world dominance. Perhaps willing to risk nuclear war to achieve it.
Mass annihilation. Ludicrously believing it'll emerge last man standing. Able to recoup and move on.
Lunatics infest Washington. Madness defines US policy. Anything goes is standard procedure. Imagine risking mass destruction for global control.
On the one hand, Putin's state of the nation address shows he wants cooperative relations with all Western countries. Not confrontation.
Saying Russia is open for business. Despite current strained relations. Washington's hostile intentions.
On the other, don't mess with us, he warns. Last August saying "Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts." 
"We don't want that and don't plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression…Russia's partners…should understand it's best not to mess with us."
"…I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Western nations "unambiguously…do not want to force (Russia) to change policy." 
"They want to achieve a change of regime." Saying sanctions aim to destroy Russia's economy. Incite public protests.
His remarks followed Putin's a day earlier. Saying Russia must guard against "color revolutions."
Meaning mass protests toppling leaders in former Soviet republics. Taking measures to prevent them.
Freedom can't be taken for granted. Nor sovereign rights. Keeping them requires constant vigilance. Working daily for what's vital to preserve. 
Mindful of serious threats. Hegemons stop at nothing to achieve goals. Not at Russia's expense, Putin asserts.
Determined to challenge US unipolarity. New World Order dominance. Demanding all nations bow to its will.
Tensions between Western countries and Russia erupted long before Ukrainian crisis conditions emerged, said Lavrov.
EU countries succumbed to US pressure. Went for broke. Against their own self-interest.
Moscow didn't instigate what's ongoing. At the same time, won't tolerate business as usual.
Wants cooperation as equals. Nothing less is acceptable. 
On December 7, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov accused Washngton of "twisting the arms" of allies.
Building an "anti-Russian front." Saying "(behind) the formally-declared aim to make us alter our position towards Ukraine, (we) see (America's) plan to form social and economic conditions to change leadership in Russia."
Wanting "to punish" Russia. For "free will of people in Crimea and Sevastopol." Voting near unanimously by referendum last March to join Russia.
A process independently judged open, free and fair. Western nations then deciding "Russia has to, according to US opinion, totally change course towards the Kiev authorities and Eastern Ukraine in general, and to re-evaluate its foreign policy."
Moscow won't initiate talks with Washington and EU allies to get sanctions lifted, Ryabkov added.
He strongly criticized US House members passing Resolution 758.
"We see this document as the next step and further elaboration of those tendencies which have recently dominated Washington's policy towards Russia," he said.
Declaring Cold War bordering on hot with Russia. "Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin…"
Turning truth on its head claiming he "carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."
Followed by dozens more Big Lies. Similar to the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. Calling for regime change. 
Supporting internal opposition movements. Claiming Iraq committed significant international law violations. Failed to comply with its obligations agreed to following the Gulf War.
Ignored Security Council resolutions. House members overwhelmingly concurring. Senate members unanimously.
Signed into law by Bill Clinton. "(T)o establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq."
Despite America tolerating it nowhere. At home or abroad. Followed six weeks later by Operation Desert Fox.
A four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets. A warmup for Bush's 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
Clinton's legislation cited in the October 2002 joint congressional resolution Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Based on a litany of Big Lies. Including nonexistent WMDs.
Unleashing shock and awe blitzkrieg. Destroying the cradle of civilization. Killing millions. Turning large parts of Iraq to rubble. 
Creating a cauldron of violence and instability. Continuing to this day. Exacerbated by Islamic State terrorism. Obama's Iraq War III. Human misery beyond description.
History repeating now against Russia? The world's two most formidable nuclear powers. Risking the unthinkable. 
Despite Moscow "trying hard to stabilize relations." House members signaling hostile intentions. Senate members considering the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014.
"A bill to prevent Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes."
Passage along with House legislation risks the unthinkable. Possible open confrontation with Russia.
Russian lower House State Duma International Affairs Committee chairman Alexey Pushkov saying congressional actions "declar(ed)…cold war. (M)aking a new 'reset' impossible."
Rebuilding relations won't be easy. US and Russian geopolitics differ radically. Moscow goes all-out for peace and stability.
Washington wages permanent wars. Risking one with Russia is madness. 
Lunatics making policy in Washington make anything possible. Even nuclear war. The fullness of time will tell.
A Final Comment
Regime change begins at home. America is on a fast track toward full-blown tyranny. Fundamental freedoms are being systematically destroyed.
Social movements are pivotal forces. Collective activism. More than ever needed now. Revolutionary change. Scattered reforms won't work.
Monied interests rule the world. Military might supports it. Fundamental rights don't matter. Achieving equitable change takes commitment.
Putting money power in public hands where it belongs is a good way to start. 
So is prioritizing justice. Equity. Fairness. Full employment. A minimum living wage. Universal healthcare. 
Free education to the highest levels. Other vital social services. Peace, stability and security. Government by and for everyone equitably.
America's system failed. A fundamental top-to-bottom makeover is needed. An entirely new system. 
Revolutionary change. Nothing less. Disruptive grassroots collective action to achieve it. Sustained commitment. 
People have more power than they realize. Key is using it responsibly. 
Throwing out old bums for new ones won't work. A lesson learned long ago and forgotten. Time for remembrance is now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama's World

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 09/12/2014 - 01:25
Obama's World
by Stephen Lendman
Increasingly one unfit to live in. Unsafe. A companion article discusses US military-generated toxic contamination.
Spreading it worldwide via air and water currents. Affecting food and water ingested. Air inhaled. 
Making large parts of planet earth unfit for human habitation. Combined with industrial waste, creating an eventual environmental catastrophe. 
On a global scale. World leaders doing nothing to prevent it. Never in human history have reckless policies so affected humanity's welfare. Its ability to survive. 
Including US-led NATO and Israeli aggression. Risking possible global war. More on this below.
Preventable diseases proliferate more than ever. Major ones. Globally. In advanced and developing countries. 
Despite major medical advances. Greater knowledge of good health practices. State-of-the-art technologies. Able to achieve wellness more than ever before. 
Treat illnesses early on effectively. Prevent them from becoming more serious. 
High cost alone puts proper healthcare out of reach for billions worldwide. Increasing exponentially. 
Perhaps heading toward making illness and disease treatment a luxury. Not a necessary. Commodifying a fundamental human right works this way.
Especially in America. The world's richest country. Healthcare double the cost of other developed nations. Obamacare a scam.
Rationing treatment. Enriching insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. At the expense of vitally needed universal care for all.
Increasingly unaffordable for most Americans to be seriously ill. High hospitalization costs define a dysfunctional system. 
So do rip-off drug prices. Expensive insurance premiums. Outrageous deductibles and copays. 
Virtually everything in America headed toward commodification.Making essentials to life based on the ability to pay. More than growing millions can afford.
At a time of institutionalized inequality. Brutalizing racial discrimination. Police state repression. 
Big Brother watching everyone. Rule by intimidation. At home and abroad. Permanent wars. When America's only enemies are ones it invents.
Destroying the earth to save it. Colonizing it for unchallenged control. Targeting all sovereign independent countries. 
Ousting sitting governments. Popular or otherwise. Wanting pro-Western puppet regimes replacing them.
Supporting monied interests. Capital's divine right to use wealth to make more of it. Making America a ruler-serf society.
Half the population impoverished or borderline. Middle class society disappearing altogether.
Corporate giants more powerful than ever. Privileged elites richer. Government and business rigging things this way.
At a time of protracted Main Street Depression. Unemployment fourfold official numbers. Around 23%. Labor Department numbers rigged to show otherwise.
Paul Craig Roberts explains as well as anyone. Commenting regularly on "fabricated" jobs reports. Reading like bad fiction.
You can't make this stuff up. Hard truths are systematically buried. Big Lies substitute. Media scoundrels spread them. 
Friday's Wall Street Journal report duplicitous like others. Claiming "2014 on pace to be the best year for job growth since 1999." Polar opposite truth.
Roberts explains what everyone needs to know. Saying "(e)verything we hear from the US government, the puppet governments of its vassal states, and the presstitute media is a lie."
Truth-telling on issues mattering most is verboten. Endangered when most needed. Spreading it comes at great risk. 
From "exclusion and slander to watch lists to prosecution and imprisonment," Roberts explains.
Friday's jobs report was Washington's latest "fairy tale. (A)nother packet of lies."
Willful deception. During protracted hard times. Main Street Depression. 
Conditions for most people worse than any time since the 1930s. Human deprivation real. Increasing. 
With vital benefits disappearing in plain sight. Public and private. Poverty or sub-poverty wages for most workers.
America's resources increasingly earmarked for war-making and corporate handouts. Ordinary people hung out to dry. On their own. Sink or swim.
Roberts eviscerated Friday's jobs report. Debunked notions of 321,000 jobs created.
Fantasy not reality. Impossible given current conditions. Claiming 20,000 home and office remodeling jobs were created rings hollow.
When "houses and buildings…are worth less than…mortgage(s)," Roberts explains.
Some 28,000 manufacturing jobs more fantasy. Given a rising trade deficit. Declining consumer spending.
"(O)n furniture (-3.8%), major appliances (-8.3%), women’s apparel (-17.7%), and household textiles such as towels and sheets (-26.5%)…" 
"(W)hen US business investment consists of corporations repurchasing their own stocks."
Remaining claimed jobs created are service ones. "(T)hird world jobs." Rotten ones. Mostly part-time/temp low-pay poor or no-benefit ones.
Workers need two or three to survive. The equivalent of one job years earlier. Resulting in "double and triple counting of those employed," explains Roberts.
"(F)ull-time employment in America today" 2.4 million less than in 2007. Obama's touted 10.9 million jobs created "over 57 consecutive months" pure fantasy. 
Lying about the "longest private sector job creation on record. (W)ith higher wages. Overall wages are on the rise."
"(A) vibrant jobs market gives us the opportunity to keep up this progress…America continues to outperform much of the world."
"And we are going to keep it up until every American feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most - in your own lives."
Obama is a serial liar. Nothing he says is credible. Inequality in America is unprecedented in modern times. Essential-to-life benefits are targeted for elimination altogether. 
Most full-time/high-pay/good benefit jobs no longer exist. Rotten phantom jobs replaced them. Nonexistent ones.
Low unemployment caused by discouraged workers. Millions wanting jobs. Unable to find them. 
Stopped looking. Became nonpersons. Excluded from Labor Department numbers. 
Manufacturing fantasy. Illusory low unemployment when it's multiples higher.
Phantom job creation with consumer credit and spending declining. Shopping center "anchor stores" closing. 
Strip malls "abandoned in unfinished construction." Jobs manufactured out of whole cloth. Through manipulated seasonal adjustments.
Birth-death model deception. Phantom job creation. With no proof they exist.
Conditions are abysmal. It bears repeating. People wanting work can't find it. 
Available jobs are rotten ones. Paying poverty or sub-poverty wages. With few or no benefits. 
America is being thirdworldized. At a time Obama and Congress let Wall Street and other corporate crooks game the system. 
Loot the economy for their own advantage. At the expense of responsible governance. Millions struggling to get by. 
Many not making it. Poverty increasingly a growth industry. Human suffering real. Conditions worsening. Not improving.
America resembling Guatemala. Bangladesh. Egypt. Serfdom under a repressive police state apparatus.
Media scoundrel "presstitutes" don't explain. In league with wealth, power and privilege.
Mindless of people needs. Major ones going begging. When waging war means more than making peace.
When confronting Russia irresponsibly risks the unthinkable. Putting world peace increasingly out-of-reach. 
Making armageddon possible. Calling humans a higher species sounds more ludicrous than ever.
No species ever destroyed itself. Humans may be the first. 
Forewarned is forearmed. Revolutionary change more than ever needed. If not now, when?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Toxic Trash Contamination on US Military Bases

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 08/12/2014 - 21:22
Toxic Trash Contamination on US Military Bases
by Stephen Lendman
America's military is the world's greatest polluter. Especially in war theaters. During conflicts. Long after they end. 
Notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Toxic wastelands and then some. Large areas unsafe for human habitation.
Military operations generate hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic waste. Dangerous carcinogens. 
Including depleted uranium, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals, plastics, solvents, asbestos, pesticides, petroleum fuels, fungi, and bacteria.
Poisoning air, water and soil. Affecting local populations and US forces. Causing virtually every imaginable health problem. Many longterm. Debilitating. Others potentially fatal.
Including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal ailments, kidney and liver diseases, respiratory, skin and other infections, asthma, immune system suppression, ulcers, birth defects, severe headaches, emotional distress, pulmonary problems, sexual dysfunction and chronic diarrhea.
Open-air burn pits as large as 10 acres bear much responsibility. Used to incinerate trash.
Notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. State-of-the-art incinerators when used release heavy metals, unburned toxic chemicals and entirely new ones during incineration.
Hundreds. Potentially thousands. Many unidentified. Many more toxic than original waste burned.
Remaining longterm. Some producing virtual permanent contamination. Once released, traveling vast distances. Via air and water currents. Producing global contaminants.
Affecting food and water ingested. Air inhaled. According to EPA data:
"Fugitive emissions and accidental spills may release as much or even more toxic material into the environment than direct emissions from incomplete waste incineration."
Explosions and fires release toxins. Some potentially catastrophic. A US air force fact sheet says:
"Burning solid wastes in an open pit generates numerous pollutants. These pollutants include dioxins, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ash." 
"Highly toxic dioxins, produced in small amounts in almost all burning processes, can be produced in elevated levels with increased combustion of plastic waste (such as discarded drinking water bottles) and if the combustion is not at high incinerator temperatures." 
"Inefficient combustion of medical or latrine wastes can emit disease-laden aerosols."
In October 2008, the US Military Times headlined "Report: Army making toxic mess in war zones," saying:
A Rand Corp. report shows "cases of hazardous waste dumped in ditches, soldiers setting up tents on top of fuel spills and service members exposed to cyanide gas during overseas deployments."
DOD "has no overarching policy to ensure environmental mishaps in Iraq and Afghanistan don't harm troops' health, create political disputes and avoid costly clean-up efforts when it's time to leave those countries."
"If not properly addressed in planning or operations, environmental considerations can make it more difficult for the Army to sustain the mission - yet environmental considerations are not well incorporated into Army planning or operations in any phase of an operation."
The report titled "Green Warriors: Army Environmental Considerations for Contingency Operations from Planning through Post-Conflict," states:
DOD contractors dump waste oil in Iraq landfills. Then sold the barrels.
US soldiers in Afghanistan buried drums containing unidentified liquids. Later discovered to be hazardous. Contaminating soil and groundwater.
An Iraq airfield has leaking fuel tanks."Major health issues arise whenever it is necessary to dig."
Iraq commanders set up hazardous waste disposal areas close to camp perimeters. 
High-grade diesel fuel was spilled into an Iraq lake. Used for base drinking water.
US Iraq forces improperly dumped insecticides, batteries, oil products and other hazardous materials.
Iraq troops became ill after rolling leaking drums of industrial-strength pesticides out of a building.
In August 2010, New York Times correspondent James Risen discussed problems from burn pit toxic waste exposure.
Former staff sgt. Susan Clifford one of many victims. Involved in dumping Balad Air Base trash "into a massive, open-air pit."
"Every conceivable type…" Including "plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, dead animals, even human body parts…"
Burned "with a dousing of jet fuel. A huge black plume of smoke hung over the pit, nearly blinding Ms. Clifford on her twice-a-month visits, and wafted over the entire base."
Clifford was a serious runner. In 2005, she began coughing up phlegm. Had breathing problems.
Had difficulty working out. Couldn't physically train. Her symptoms worsened. Became serious.
Doctors discovered her lungs filled with fluids. Unlike what they ever saw before. Unsure what to do. In April 2010, Clifford retired from army service with full disability. 
"(O)ne one of the first veterans to receive an official ruling from the military that exposure to open-air burn pits at American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused medical problems," said Risen.
Numerous others affected the same way. Pentagon officials downplay the problem to this day.
At the time, Force Health Protection and Readiness Program deputy director, Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, saying:
"(N)o medical data…indicate(s) any specific illness or illnesses have been caused by exposure to burn-pit smoke."
As recently as summer 2014, Veterans Affairs officials claim no evidence showing burn pit toxins cause longterm health problems.
Truth is polar opposite. Pulmonary expert Dr. Robert Miller treated dozens of soldiers home from Iraq. He found a pattern of unusual respiratory and pulmonary disease. 
Linked to burn pit exposure, he believed. A huge problem, he said. Soldiers know more about it than physicians. 
He's called from "all over the country." Returning soldiers and vets needing help. 
Sciencecorps calls itself "an informal network of health professionals who work on environmental and occupational health issues, relying on the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, medicine, and other technical areas."  
Conducting "hazard and community evaluations…Involved "in research and policy development." 
"(W)orking to strengthen public health protections and awareness through outreach and education."
Studying "health hazards of chemicals commonly used on military bases." Saying toxic exposure among US personnel is "well-established."
Evidence of toxic contamination is indisputable. Human effects are devastating.
"The enemy you know is far less dangerous than the one you don't know," said Sciencecorps. DOD operates irresponsibly.
Letting US personnel handle dangerous toxins. Without warning of potential hazards. Or providing adequate protective gear.
Most US bases at home and abroad are contaminated. Exposure causes diseases, disability, and cross-generational damage. To veterans and families.
Large open-air burn pits produce toxic clouds of chemicals. Created during incineration.
Exposure (even small amounts) causes potential harm to every body organ. Initiating a chain of biological events. Showing up sooner or later.
According to Sciencecorps, health problems depend "on a range of individual characteristics."
Including "timing of exposure, whether exposure occurs through inhalation, ingestion, or skin exposure, and individual susceptibility."  
"Individual susceptibility is determined by genetic differences, previous and current health conditions, past and ongoing exposures to other chemicals and risk factors, diet, lifestyle, age, gender, and other personal variables."
Most veterans know little about toxin exposure. Proving chemical causation isn't easy. Getting VA help depends on it.
Many hazardous chemicals are genotoxic. Damaging genetic material in cells. Causing mutations. Dictating how bodies function.
Whether cancer or other diseases may develop. Usually long after military personnel leave service. Making it harder to get VA benefits.
When entering service, US military personnel have no idea what's coming. War zone enemies are less dangerous than environmental contaminants.
Future illnesses and diseases way outnumbering battlefield casualties. The hidden cost of war. 
Affecting hundreds of thousands of service personnel and vets. Local populations. 
The price for advancing America's imperium. Monied interests alone benefit.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

We're Back at the World Intellectual Property Organization to Fight For Users' Rights at the UN

eff.org - Mon, 08/12/2014 - 19:27

EFF is in Geneva this week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), where the organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is gathered to debate proposals for a treaty to give new legal rights to broadcasters, and for instruments that would standardize copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives, educators and researchers.

More about those proposals will be coming in a series of updates this week. But first, why are we at WIPO at all? Here's a short history lesson to explain.

The DMCA's Origins at WIPO

Way back in 1995, the Clinton administration put forward a bill in Congress that would have placed new limits on the use and supply of devices that could be used to circumvent DRM, such as the DeCSS code that enabled DVDs to be played using free and open source software. The bill was immediately controversial, however, and never made it out of committee.

At the same time, the administration placed almost exactly the same proposal before WIPO. And it was there that a variation of the proposal passed the following year. Fast forward two more years, and the United States, now under an international legal obligation to amend its own laws to comply with the new WIPO Copyright Treaty, passed its own law to outlaw copyright circumvention devices, in the form of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

You can probably see what they did there. Depressingly, because it's not the only time such a sneaky run around Congress has happened, this kind of policy stunt even has a name. We call this policy laundering.

But if you think that this makes WIPO delegates the bad guys, that's not the whole story. In fact, if it wasn't for interventions made at WIPO by tech companies, public interest organizations, such as the American Library Association, and a number of countries, the result would have been even worse—a lot worse. For example, the US had also been asking WIPO to make temporary copies illegal and to introduce new rights over databases, both of which proposals were rejected. Additionally, the anti-circumvention language was watered down from the US's initial, even more extreme DRM proposals.

Moderate voices also managed to achieve the inclusion of some positive language in the WIPO Copyright Treaty that we can rely upon today to advocate for new copyright flexibilities suited for the digital age:

It is understood that the provisions of Article 10 permit Contracting Parties to carry forward and appropriately extent into the digital environment limitations and exceptions in their national laws which have been considered acceptable under the Berne Convention. Similarly, these provisions should be understood to permit Contracting Parties to devise new exceptions and limitations that are appropriate in the digital network environment.

WIPO at a Crossroads

The fact that WIPO is not simply rubber-stamping maximalist copyright proposals is a good thing, but it does have two negative side effects.

The first is that the division between maximalists on the one hand, and moderate or pro-development voices on the other, has created a stalemate at the organization over a number of proposals made by either side. On the maximalist side, this includes the Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations. On the other side, it includes the discussions on instruments on copyright limitations and exceptions, including those for libraries and archives, and for educational and research uses. At present, both sets of proposals are equally stalled.

The second and related problem that WIPO has encountered is that the difficulty of promoting their agenda within WIPO has left the maximalists to seek other venues, that are further away from public scrutiny and review and more receptive to their extreme rent-seeking proposals.

Thus almost two decades from its original digital proposals to WIPO, US negotiators are still singing the same tune—pushing other countries to adopt tough new rules on anti-circumvention, and at least until recently, to make temporary copies illegal. But rather than doing this at WIPO where negotiations take place in the open and where dissenting voices can be heard, they have shifted their attention to the more exclusive club of free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

That's why EFF is at WIPO this week; because for all its faults and limitations (and they are many), it's a venue where we have the right to speak and to listen, and where the bad proposals that our representatives put forward can be openly picked apart and critiqued. Sometimes, we can even win—as with the passage of the Marrakesh Treaty formally known as the Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities. It was the first international treaty of its kind to enact strong rights for end-users of copyrighted works.

We don't expect to achieve any such big wins this week. But we do intend to stake a claim to the conversation, ensuring that the perspectives of ordinary users and innovators are heard. Check back throughout the week as we report on the status of negotiations here in Geneva.

Related Issues: InternationalWIPO
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Categories: Aggregated News

Israel's Gaza War Continues

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 08/12/2014 - 04:55
Israel's Gaza War Continues
by Stephen Lendman
State terror is official Israeli policy. Gaza war never ended. Israel breached ceasefire terms straightaway. Repeated violations occur.
Agreements it signs aren't worth the paper they're written on. Rogue states operate this way.
In late August, both sides agreed to open-ended Operation Protective Edge (OPE) ceasefire terms. 
Peace talks resuming in Cairo for final resolution. Nothing whatever was accomplished. Peace hangs in the balance. 
Israel's war on Gaza continues. Terms it agreed to proved meaningless. Including opening border crossings. They're largely closed. Same as pre-war.
Israel blocks "the rapid entry of humanitarian aid." Construction materials for rebuilding aren't forthcoming. 
UN, Israeli and PA authorities conspired. Hanging Gazans out to dry.  Letting Israel control Gaza rebuilding. Its economy benefiting hugely. 
PA officials siphoning off half the $5.4 billion pledged. For unspecified budget purposes. Money down a black hole.
Terms expanded Gazan fishing waters from three to six nautical miles. Twelve miles by yearend.
Israel agreed to halt targeted assassinations. At the same time, Netanyahu called Hamas leaders legitimate targets. 
Israeli hardliners want Hamas and other resistance groups entirely crushed. Rejecting peace out of hand.
Terms largely replicate how both sides ended Israel's November 2012 Pillar of Cloud aggression.
Hamas stuck to the letter of the deal. Israel violated it straightaway. Blaming Hamas for its crimes.
Repeating the same duplicity now. Good faith isn't its long suit. Betrayal is longstanding practice. 
Making peace impossible. Palestinians have no legitimate partner. Not earlier. Especially now. 
Fascists run Israel. War criminals. Governing ruthlessly. Deploring peace. Breaching every promise made. Straightaway. Unapologetically. 
Blaming Palestinians for their crimes. On Saturday, attacking 12 Palestinian fishermen at sea. Arresting them. Confiscating their vessels. Damaging their equipment. 
Violating OPE ceasefire terms. Since August, numerous other fishermen assaulted the same way. Defenseless against Israeli viciousness.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expressed outrage. "Condemn(ing) the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip…"
"Concerned over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods. Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza Sea."
According to PCHR, "Israeli gunboats stationed off northwest of al-Waha shore, northwest of Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2-3 miles and then surrounded 5 fishing boats boarded by 12 Palestinian fishermen."
Arresting them for peacefully fishing. Lawfully. Posing no threat. PCHR condemned continued Israeli attacks. Violating OPE peace terms.
Terrorizing defenseless fishermen. Demanding international leaders intervene responsibly. Halt Israeli lawlessness. Let fishermen fish freely. Without fear of attack, arrest or death.
Release those held, said PCHR. Compensate them for damage done. Fourth Geneva protects civilians in times of war. Or under occupation.
High Contracting Parties do nothing to enforce treaty provisions. Ones  they're sworn to uphold. Letting Israel get away with high crimes against peace.
Israel banned Norwegian Dr. Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza for life. Outrageously claiming security reasons. 
In 2009, he treated Israeli Operation Cast Lead victims. Many with horrific wounds he never saw before.
Severe internal chemical, biological and radiological burns. Effects of toxic gases. Severed arms and legs. Abdomens sliced open. Various other type horrific wounds.
During Operation Protective Edge, he returned to Gaza's killing fields. Witnessed horrors like before. Extreme suffering.
People treated more like animals than human beings. By the self-proclaimed world's "most moral army." Guilty of horrific war crimes.
On Al Jazzera's Without Borders program, Gilbert commented on Israel's banishment, saying:
"This is not about me. This is about Israel denying the Palestinian people in Gaza international support."
""The truth on the ground is very inconvenient for Israel. Anyone who conveys that truth is unwanted." 
"Israel does not want anyone to convey the massacres that it committed, against innocent civilians in Gaza, to the out(side) world."Gilbert knows no other place where people are more trained on handling crisis and emergency management conditions.
Gazans are truly heroic. At the same time, facing longterm health issues. Because of war and blockade conditions.
Children are especially affected. For many, their lives destroyed before they mature. Victims of Israeli viciousness.
The whole world knows about Israeli lawlessness. Wars without mercy. Mass murder and then some.
Occupation harshness. Institutionalized racism. Treating Palestinians like vermin. Slaughtering them with impunity.
Targeting its neighbors. Attacking Lebanon and Syria at its discretion. The latest incident occurring Sunday.
Israeli warplanes attacked two military sites outside Damascus. Near Lebanon's border. Residents reported hearing loud explosions.
Reports indicated at least 10 sorties flown. Naked aggression by any standard. Lebanese sources said Israeli warplanes overflew its territory Sunday morning.
It's unclear whether they attacked from Syrian airspace. Or within Lebanese borders.
Like previous air assaults since 2011, Israel's strike was unprovoked. Without just cause. 
Partnering with Obama's war. Wanting regime change. Breaching international law. 
Defying overwhelming Syrian support for Assad. Nearly 90%. Deploring outside interference.
On December 7, The Syrian Arab News Agency headlined "Army General Command: Israeli enemy targeted two areas in Damascus Countryside," saying:
"(T)he Israeli enemy targeted two areas in Damascus Countryside in al-Dimas and Damascus International Airport, which is a civilian airport, on Sunday afternoon, causing material damage to some facilities."
"The General Command said this attack proves Israel’s direct involvement in supporting terrorists in Syria against which the Armed Forces achieved significant victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, and other areas."
"The statement said that this attack aimed at raising the morale of terrorist organizations, including the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, following the consecutive strikes directed against them by the Syrian Arab Army."
"The General Command asserted that such acts of aggression will not dissuade it from continuing its war on terrorism in all its forms across the entirety of Syria."
Syrian Armed Forces commander Lt. General Ali Abdulla Ayoub accused Israel of complicity with Islamic State and other terrorist groups, saying:
"This aggression confirms Israel directly supports terrorism in Syria, in addition to the Western and regional countries known to support terrorist organizations, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, an arm of al-Qaida in the Levant, and ISIS."
Israel was silent on what happened. During a Sunday security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said preparations are ready to "deal (with) threats." Without elaboration.
"We are closely monitoring the Middle East and what is happening with open eyes and ears, and a lot is happening," he added.
"We will stay informed, and we will deal with these unremitting threats and challenges." 
"We will deal with them with the same responsibility that we have up until now."
Israel and America partner in each other's crimes. None match the harm they inflict. 
Largely on defenseless civilians. Rogue states operate this way. Ruthless by any standard.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Kissinger Geopolitics

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 08/12/2014 - 01:57
Kissinger Geopolitics
by Stephen Lendman
At age 91, maybe senility set in. Or a time of reflection. At the same time, trying to have things both ways. More on this below.
Kissinger was one of the most notorious war criminals ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Exceeded perhaps only by Obama. 
The scope of their crimes is breathtaking. Kissinger's rap sheet includes:
  • three to four million Southeast Asian deaths;

  • ousting Chile's Salvador Allende; replacing him with Augusto Pinochet; followed by 17 years of state terror; 

  • support for other Latin American despots;

  • backing Surharto's West Papua takeover; his East Timor invasion; massacring hundreds of thousands;

  • supported the Khmer Rouge's rise to power; its reign of terror early on;

  • backed Pakistan's overthrow of Bangladesh's democratically elected government; causing half a million deaths; and

  • various other high crimes against peace. 

Including manipulating geopolitical events for his own benefit. Gain power and influence. Accumulate wealth.
The late Chistopher Hitchens said he deserved prosecution "for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and offenses against common or customary international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture."
He called him "a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory."
In September 2013, he told CNN "we can't be the world's policeman. (B)ut we can be the world's last resort."
On the one hand, he's "against American military intervention," he said. On the other, he supports Obama's war on Syria. In 2011, against Libya.
Both naked aggression by any standard. Wanting independent governments toppled. Posing America no threat. Or its neighbors. 
Overwhelming supported by their people. No matter. Kissinger supports replacing independent leaders with pro-Western ones.
In November, Der Spiegel interviewed him. Calling him "the most famous and most divisive secretary of state the US has ever had."
Asking him about a "messier" world today than ever. (W)ith wars, catastrophes and chaos everywhere."
Kissinger agreed. Saying "chaos threaten(s) us. (T)hrough the spread of weapons of mass destruction and cross-border terrorism."
Ignoring by far the world's greatest threat. US global intervention. Wars without end. Targeting one country after another. Turning them to rubble.
Making the world safe for monied interests. Over the corpses of millions of victims. A small price to pay for unchallenged dominance.
At the same time, Kissinger asking: "Do we achieve world order through chaos or insight? One would think that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the dangers of climate change and terrorism should create enough of a common agenda." 
"So I would hope that we can be wise enough not to have a Thirty Years' War." Citing Westphalian peace. 
The 1648 treaty establishing the principle of state sovereignty. Free from foreign intervention.
Kissinger took issue with US-led Western policy in Ukraine. On the one hand, he wrongfully said Russia annexed Crimea. Ignoring near Crimean unanimity to rejoin Russia. Their choice. 
Self-determination is a universal right. Affirmed in the UN Charter. Unequivocal international law. Kissinger didn't explain.
On the other, he maintained "(i)t was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia."
"Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi." 
"The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it." 
"So it doesn’t make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine. So one has to ask oneself, Why did it happen?"
Asked if Western nations have "a kind of responsibility for" Ukrainian crisis conditions, Kissinger said:
"Yes, I am saying that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev." 
"All these, and their impact, should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia. This does not mean the Russian response was appropriate."
America and rogue EU partners are longtime imperial powers. Involved in ousting one sitting government after another.
Washington spent billions of dollars on Ukraine. Since Soviet Russia's dissolution. Wanting it aligned West, not East. 
Incorporated in NATO. Like all other former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries. Isolating Russia. Surrounding it with US bases.
Ending its sovereign independence. Installing pro-Western stooge governance. Balkanizing its huge land mass. 
Stealing its vast energy and other resources. Exploiting its people. Eliminating one of America's two major rivals. 
Using the same strategy against China. Longtime US aims. Ones Kissinger understands as well as anyone. But didn't explain.
At the same time, irresponsibly criticizing Russia. Accusing Putin of creating chaos. Threatening Ukraine's sovereignty. 
Ignoring his forthrightness. All-out efforts for peace and stability. He and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov more worthy than anyone of Nobel Peace Prize recognition.
Deploring war. Championing peace. With no revanchist ambitions. Their records speak for themselves. Polar opposite Washington's. Including during Kissinger's time.
Since Ukrainian crisis conditions erupted last year, Putin, Lavrov and other Russian officials worked tirelessly to resolve things responsibly. 
Favoring an independent Ukraine. Aligned neither East or West. Cooperating with all countries.
Kissinger called "resumption of the Cold War…a historic tragedy." It's raging. Throughout Putin's tenure. Escalating. Bordering on turning hot.
Exacerbated by illegal sanctions. Kissinger expressed support. With reservations. About targeting individuals. Not what matters most. 
US/EU sanctions on Russia or other nations violate international law. Security Council members alone can impose them.
Not individual countries. For any reasons they wish. Legitimate or otherwise. America a serial offender. More than ever now.
Sanctions violate WTO principles and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provisions.
International law is inviolable. Violators show criminal contempt. Notably America. Kissinger didn't explain.
Or about Obama's full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Ousting a democratically elected government. 
Installing fascist putschists. With no legitimacy whatever. Tolerating no opposition. Ruling by intimidation. Eliminating fundamental freedoms.
Waging naked aggression internally. Dirty war. Without mercy. Committing horrendous human rights abuses nationwide. Solidifying hardline rule. Fascists operate this way.
With full support and encouragement from Washington. Kissinger ignored what's most important. Criticizing failed US policy. Ignoring his own horrendous record.
Saying "the United States cannot dictate, and the US should not dictate. It would be a mistake to think it could."
Mistake or otherwise, US bullying is longstanding policy. Notably during Kissinger's time in Washington. 
Over-the-top. Lawless and then some. Kissinger one of many unindicted US war criminals. One of its worst. Involved in some of America's worst crimes.
Justifying the unjustifiable. Ludicrously claiming Americans supported all post-WW II wars. 
Calling Obama's war on Syria a "multiethnic conflict." A "sort of rebellion against the government." 
Ignoring Washington full responsibility. Recruiting, arming, funding, training and directing death squads. 
Imported from other countries. Sending them cross-border. Wanting Assad toppled. Replaced by a convenient US stooge.
Saying ousting and killing Gaddafi "was morally justified." Ignoring his overwhelming popularity. Around 90% of Libyans during the height of conflict.
Breaching fundamental international law. Clear and unequivocal. No nation may interfere in the internal affairs of others. 
For any reason. Except self-defense if attacked. Or if evidence shows an imminent one. Then only until Security Council members act. They have final say. No others.
Not presidents, Congress or courts. Not despots or democrats. Not with good intentions or otherwise.
Asked if he regretted his aggressive Vietnam War policy, Kissinger said "(y)ou'd love me to say that."
Then tried justifying the unjustifiable. In 1968, Nixon campaigned on a secret plan to end Southeast Asian fighting.
At the same time saying he had "no gimmicks or secret plans." Strategy was Vietnamization. 
Letting South Vietnamese do America's killing for it. Like Obama's war on Libya, Syria and Iraq. 
During his Washington years, Kissinger was part eminence grise/eminence noir. Manipulating events for his own self-interest.
In his book titled "The Price of Power," Seymour Hersh said:
"It is certain that the Nixon campaign, alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks, was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government (in Saigon) making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on the peace negotiations."
Sabotaging talks at the time. Prolonging war. Thieu boycotted Paris peace talks. Nixon defeated Humphrey.
Kissinger became Nixon's National Security Advisor. Then Secretary of State. To this day an influential figure.
Unapologetic for horrendous crimes against peace. Benefitting hugely over the corpses of millions. 
Unwilling to atone. Even late in life. Once a war criminal. Always one.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama v. Venezuela's Maduro

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 07/12/2014 - 21:32
Obama v. Venezuela's Maduro
by Stephen Lendman
Washington considers Venezuela its main hemispheric adversary. Concerned about the threat of a good example. 
Shaming its northern neighbor. A sham democracy. Repressive. Hugely unequal. Belligerent. Waging war on freedom. Threatening world peace. Venezuela is polar opposite.
In an April 2014 New York Times op-ed, President Nicolas Maduro explained forthrightly. Saying "Venezuelans are proud of our democracy."
"We have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people."
Income inequality is the region's lowest. Poverty reduction efforts extremely successful. From 49% in 1998 to 25.4% in 2012.
Extreme poverty from 21% to 6%. "We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide," said Maduro.
"Since 1998, the movement founded by Hugo Chávez has won more than a dozen presidential, parliamentary and local elections through an electoral process that former American President Jimmy Carter has called 'the best in the world.' "
"The American government supported the 2002 coup and recognized the coup government despite its anti-democratic behavior." 
"Today the Obama administration spends at least $5 million annually to support opposition movements in Venezuela." 
Congress may "impose sanctions." More on this below.
Washington targeted Venezuela for regime change since Hugo Chavez's 1998 election. Taking issue with his saying "(t)he resurrection of Venezuela has begun, and nothing and no one can stop it."
Venezuelans deplore the bad old days. The 1958 - 1998 Fourth Republic period included repression. Extreme poverty. Deprivation. Despair. 
Thousands of state-sponsored murders. Targeted assassinations. Disappearances. Torture. Other human rights abuses.
According to researcher Aldemaro Barrios:
"(D)uring the guerrilla struggle, the military used aerial bombardment over the Falcon mountain range." 
"The policy they adopted was to bomb on site, and bomb anything that moved. We have no idea how many people died this way."
Bolivarianism changed things. Transforming Venezuela from state-sponsored repression to real democracy.
An ongoing process. In October 2011, National Assembly members passing the Law for Punishing Crimes, Disappearances, Torture and Violations of Human Rights for Political Reasons during the 1958-1998 period.
Known as the Law against Forgetting. Establishing a commission to investigate Fourth Republic crimes. Resolve them.
Obama is Venezuela's greatest threat. Continuing Bush administration policies. Lying in New York last September.
Telling General Assembly members "big countries should not do actions to intimidate small" ones. Targeting one independent country after another for regime change.
Through state-sponsored coups, assassinations and naked aggression. Violating core international, constitutional and US statute laws.
Wanting Venezuela looking like Ukraine. With fascists replacing democrats. Washington dictating policy.
MIndless of what most Venezuelans cherish. Bolivarian fairness is too precious to lose. Polar opposite neoliberal contempt for social justice.
Washington's dirty hands manipulated violent street violence months earlier. Despite the vast majority of Venezuelans deploring them.
Aiming to oust Maduro disruptively. In January, opposition right-wing figures Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado launching a La Salida (the Exit) campaign.
Involving "chaos in the streets." In February, Lopez was arrested, detained and prosecuted.
On charges of murder, terrorism, conspiracy, incitement to crime, setting fire to a public building, damaging public property, public intimidation, and inflicting serious injuries.
Maduro compared him to 2002 coup plotters. "There you have the face of fascism," he said. "They should go behind bars."
Lopez is part of an "ultra-rightwing group." Together with Maria Corina Machado. A former legislator. Sumate founder. 
A US funded fascist group. Involved in the aborted two-day April 2002 coup. A so-called Carmona Decree signatory. 
Suspending National Assembly governance. Attorney general authority. The comptroller general's office. Dissolving the Supreme Court.
Installing Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecamaras) president Pedro Carmona head of state.
US-sponsored regime change plans continuing. Using street violence. Killing dozens earlier this year. Maduro promising justice, saying:
"For us, what's important is to govern and to make sure that groups like these don't do any more damage to the country."
On December 3, Venezuela's state prosecutor's office indicted Machado. Charging her with conspiracy. In a plot to assassinate Maduro.
Email evidence was damning. Machado saying "I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls, and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro…and the rest will come falling down."
Venezuela's public prosecutor's office saying:
"Whoever, from inside or outside the national territory, conspires to destroy the nation's republican political style will be punished by eight to 16 years in prison."
Last year, Venezuelan journalist Eva Golinger said:
"Foreign interests, from Colombia and the US, are working with opposition groups inside Venezuela to destabilize (Maduro's) government, aiming towards sabotaging" year ago municipal elections.
Street violence followed. Dozens died. Machado lost her National Assembly seat. For violating Venezuelan law. For representing Panama. In an Organization of American States address.
Washington repeatedly interferes lawlessly in the internal affairs of other countries. Chavez objected vehemently. So does Maduro.
Most recently on December 7, saying:
"Interference of the US Embassy in Venezuela is intolerable. It is a shame that Obama allows the US government in Venezuela to act in such a dangerous way."
Citing hard evidence of US meddling, he said he's "currently investigating the actions of the US embassy in Venezuela…We have a lot of information," he explained.
Longstanding strained relations continue. Maduro knows what he's up against. Washington's longstanding regime change plans. 
Spending millions of dollars annually. Aiming to reinstitute fascist governance. It bears repeating. 
Wanting Venezuela looking like Ukraine. America regaining its former hemispheric colony.
Deputy National Security Advisor Anthony Blinken is Obama's choice to replace William Burns. As Deputy Secretary of State.
In Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings last week, he expressed support for additional sanctions on Venezuela.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation to freeze financial assets of 27 Venezuelan government officials. Including:
Aref Eduardo Richany Jimenez: General Director Directorate of Armaments and Explosives (DAEX)
Julio Cesar Morales Prieto: General Director Directorate of Armaments and Explosives (DAEX)
Hugo Carvajal: Director Directorate of Military Intelligence
Ivan Hernandez Dala: Director General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence
Luisa Ortega Diaz: General Prosecutor Office of the General Prosecutor
Luis Alberto Arrayago Coronel: Chief of the Regional Command Number 8, National Bolivarian Armed Forces
Miguel Vivas Landino: Chief Strategic Region of Integral Defense of the Andes National Bolivarian Armed Forces
Francisco Rangel Gómez: Bolívar State governor
Alexis Ramírez: Merida State governor
Jose Gregorio Vielma Mora: Tachira State governor
Henry Rangel Silva: Trujillo State governor
Aquíles Rojas Patino: Guardia del Pueblo Regiment commander, Bolivarian National Guard
Justo Jose Noguera Pietri: Bolivarian National Guard commander general
Sergio Rivero Marcano: Guardia del Pueblo national commander, Bolivarian National Guard
Antonio Benavides Torres: Bolivarian National Guard director of operations
Franklin Garcia Duque: Regional Command Number 1 chief, Bolivarian National Guard
Arquímedes Herrera Ruso: Regional Command Number 2 chief, Bolivarian National Guard
Manuel Jose Graterol Colmenarez: Regional Command Number 3 chief, Bolivarian National Guard
Octavio Chacon: Regional Command Number 4 chief, Bolivarian National Guard
Manuel Quevedo: Regional Command Number 5 chief, Bolivarian National Guard
Gustavo Colmenares: Operative Zone of Integral Defense chief, Venezuelan Navy
Miguel Rodriguez Torres: Minister Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace
Marcos Rojas Figueroa: Integral Police System Vice Minister, Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace
Hebert Garcia Plaza: Services Ministry of Defense Vice Minister
Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta: Bolivarian National Police Director
Gustavo Enrique González Lopez: General Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia (SEBIN) (Intelligence Services) Director
Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martínez: Director General - removed on Feb 18, Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia (SEBIN) (intelligence Services)
At the same time, US House members Joe Garcia (D. FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D. FL/Democrat National Committee chairwoman) requested Obama grant Venezuelans special "delayed enforced departure" consideration.
Similar to Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Shifting the status of Venezuelan immigrants. Reserved for those facing persecution.
Maduro calls US sanctions unacceptable foreign interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. Part of Washington's anti-Bolivarian agenda. Aiming for regime change.
On November 7, Washington's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed license requirements for US exports to Venezuela.
Affecting products and technologies. Ones "complementing" a 2006 arms embargo.
Denying Venezuela access to so-called "sensitive goods and technologies." For civilian applications. Deemed potentially military, according to Washington.
Including computers with fingerprint reading capability. Like those Venezuela uses to verify registered voters.
Obama governs by diktat. Export Administration Act authority expired in 2001. No matter.
His executive order extended it unilaterally. Circumventing Congress. Excluding public debate.
At issue is wanting Maduro ousted. Instituting policies aimed toward doing so.
Including executive orders. Congressional legislation. Funding opposition figures. Street violence. Whatever else Washington intends. 
Lawless by any standard. Obama wants Bolivarianism eliminated. Democracy crushed. Fascist rule reinstituted.
Venezuela looking like Ukraine. America regaining colonial control. Ending governance of, by and for everyone equitably. 
What Americans can't imagine. What Venezuelans won't tolerate losing.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Political Prisoners in America and Israel

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 07/12/2014 - 06:31
Political Prisoners in America and Israel
by Stephen Lendman
Thousands languish in their gulags. Among the worst worldwide. For supporting human rights. Voicing dissent. Opposing what no one should support. 
Denouncing police state practices. Wanting brutalized people liberated. Urging others to get active for freedom. 
Demand fundamental change. For rights everyone deserves. Affirmed under international law.
Real democracy. Not fantasy illusion. Government of, by and for everyone equitably.
America and Israel oppose these notions. Criminalize them irresponsibly. Subject offenders to brutalizing treatment. 
Including barbaric solitary confinement. Worst when longterm. Torture by any other name. 
Worse than physical abuse. Psychology Professor Craig Haney says longterm isolation produces irrational anger, chronic apathy, lethargy, depression and despair.
Some prisoners stop behaving. Become catatonic. Others experience revenge fantasies. 
Some normal prisoners become sociopaths. Others hallucinate out-of-control.
In 1890, the US Supreme Court almost banned the practice. On grounds of unconstitutionality. 
Writing for the majority in a case involving a convicted murderer isolated for a month, Justice Samuel Miller voiced "serious objections," saying:
"A considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others, still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community."
At the time, prolonged isolation was used sparingly. Some prisons avoided it entirely. 
Today it's widespread. Affecting many thousands. Gross injustice and then some. At least 25,000 in supermax prisons. 
Tens of thousands more in restrictive segregation units. Cruel and unusual punishment by any standard. Violating constitutional protections. Meaningless inside prisons. Outside as well.
Humans are social beings. Requiring interaction with others. As part of every day life. Denying it is like starving lungs of air. Being buried alive. Entombed.
A previous article discussed Rasmea Odeh's politicized persecution. A Palestinian/American human rights champion.
A feminist, activist, educator and community leader. For over 40 years. For the past 11 in Chicago. Widely respected and loved. A living legend.
Victimized by Israel decades earlier. Incarcerated in its gulag. Though innocent of any crimes. Horrifically mistreated. Tortured and sexually abused.
On October 22, 2013, wrongfully arrested in Chicago. On behalf of Eastern District of Michigan federal prosecutors. The jurisdiction where she applied for citizenship.
Wrongfully charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Pertaining to allegedly lying on her 1994 immigration application.
Not mentioning her lawless Israeli arrest 45 years earlier. Her torture extracted confession. Despite having committed no crime. Occupied Palestinians have no rights whatever.
Arab/American persecution is longstanding. Post-9/11, Washington declared war on Islam.
Muslims are war on terror scapegoats. Vilified unjustly. For their ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. 
Rasmea one of many victims. On November 10, wrongfully convicted. Supporters denouncing a travesty of justice.
Unjustly punishing the best of Arab/American society. A role model for everyone to emulate.
Rasmea was remanded into custody. Denied bail during her appeal process. Mistreated horrifically in Port Huron, MI's St. Clair County Jail.
For nearly a month since her November conviction. The Electronic Intifada covered her trial. Wrote extensively on it.
Continues following her case. Says she's held in "total segregation." Isolated "for twenty-three and a half hours a day."
Denied visitations. Or interactions with other prisoners. Or commissary use.
Despite "suffering from back and dental pain." Making it hard to eat. Complicated by other health problems.
"(E)xacerbated by a lack of ability to care for herself with adequate exercise."
Her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, unaware of any reason for this type mistreatment. Cruel and unreasonable by any standard. Violating Rasmea's constitutional rights.
Deutsch suspects Washington involvement. Maybe the US Attorney's office or Homeland Security. Instigating extra harsh treatment. Maybe Israel demands it. Or AIPAC.
Because of Rasmea's longstanding activism for Palestinian rights. Doing the right thing because it matters.
Denying her bond was over-the-top and then some. Unreasonable by any standard. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 10. 
Keeping her incarcerated until then is punitive and then some. Cruel and unreasonable in isolation.
Her lawyers petitioned for her release. So she cana return home to Chicago. Until sentencing. According to the Electronic Intifada:
"The filing includes letters of support from community leaders refuting government claims that Odeh is a flight risk." 
"Some community members have offered to put up their homes, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, as a guarantee." 
"One of her attorneys, Jim Fennerty, has offered to host Odeh in his home until she is sentenced."
Deutsch sees government meddling. Washington's dirty hands ordering cruel and unreasonable punishment. 
Violating Rasmea's constitutional rights. Ones America repeatedly spurns. Ignoring what it's mandated to uphold. 
Police states operate this way. Extrajudicially. Ruthlessly. Viciously. Israel the same way. Human rights activists especially vulnerable.
Previous articles discussed dozens of its political prisoners. Activists deserving praise. Honor for their work. Languishing unjustly in Israel's gulag.
Horrifically mistreated. PA Department of Prisoner Affairs head Issa Qaraqe calls 2014 "the most difficult year" for Palestinian prisoners.
Victimized by "Israeli revenge policies." Re-arresting dozens released in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011.
Detaining 1,500 young children. Terrorizing them. Torturing them. Holding hundreds of others administratively uncharged and untried. Indefinitely.
Without elaborating, Qaraqe called 2015 the year of legal/humanitarian battling for prisoner rights.
An earlier Israeli Bar Association (IBA) report discussed harrowing conditions isolated prisoners endure.
Wings unfit for human habitation. Dungeon-like. Infested with insects. Rancid from sewer and mold odors. Violating the most basic human rights.
Israel's 1971 Prison Ordinance excludes prisoner rights. Interior ministers interpret rules by administrative decree.
Women and children are treated like men. Crimes against humanity are standard practice. Israeli viciousness matches America's.
Abdallah Abu Rahma is one of many victims. Wrongfully convicted earlier. For organizing and participating in demonstrations without a permit. Incitement. "Attempting to influence public opinion." 
Israeli military courts dispense unfairness. Addameer prisoner rights group lawyer Mahmoud Hassan explains, saying:
"The institution for justice in the West Bank - the military court - has no relationship with the people who are the subjects of this justice system." 
"The prosecutor belongs to the 'enemy' since s/he is a member of the army and police forces, and the police and army are instruments of the occupying power." 
"Even the judge is a commander in the very army which is violently enforcing the occupation." 
"The laws devised and enforced by the occupying army serve the interests only of the occupier."
"The freedom of the people of Palestine only becomes plausible when they themselves can decide how to administer their own lives and choose laws which will guide the life of their society."
Defendants are declared guilty by accusation. Abdallah was imprisoned for 16 months. Plus a six month suspended sentence. A 5,000 shekel fine.
On October 21, his rights again abused. Convicted of "disturbing a soldier." Interfering during a peaceful Nakba commemoration demonstration.
In solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. Many hunger striking for justice. Abdallah's lawyer Gabi Lasky says:
"Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offense. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the (Israeli) military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation."
"Abdallah is a human rights defender and has the right to protest against the occupation." 
"There is no existing legal base that can justify his arrest. It seems that persecuting a Palestinian for a symbolic act of nonviolence against the occupation has more of a political meaning than a criminal one."
Abdallah is coordinator for Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall. A Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee platform member. 
Opposing occupation harshness. Settlements. Israeli human rights violations. 
Separation Wall land theft and ghettoization. He'll be sentenced on January 5.
On May 13, 2012, he blocked an Israeli bulldozer with his body. Risking death. How Rachel Corrie died in March 2003.
Murdered by an Israeli soldier. Operating an armored bulldozer. Trying to stop a Rafah refugee camp home's destruction.
Crushed to death deliberately. The soldier-operator running over her twice to be sure.
Abdallah is lucky to be alive. He tried preventing fence repair in Beitunia. Around a structure built to persecute Palestinians. Control and shoot them.
"They said I was in front of a bulldozer, that I did not let them continue working and for that reason the military court has declared me guilt," Abdallah explained.
Despite his conviction, he'll keep fighting for Palestinian rights.
"We have a right to protest and express our opinion," he says. "This is the way to defend human rights and refuse the occupation."
An international campaign was launched on his behalf. To provide all necessary support. Legally. Morally. Financially. 
Defend his legitimate right to protest peacefully. Affirmed by international law. 
Israel a longstanding violator. It bears repeating. Police states operate this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Risking Possible Bloodbath in Palestine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 07/12/2014 - 00:51
Risking Possible Bloodbath in Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
Persecuted people take only so much before resisting. What begins slowly can become mass rebellion.
Palestine had two intifadas. Some observers call current unrest the beginning of a third. BDS support targets Israel economically.
From the grassroots. A battle at a time. Achieving important successes. Hitting Israel where it hurts most.
Polar opposite Western complicity. Partnering with Israeli crimes. Atrocities too serious to ignore. 
Virtually every imaginable civil and human rights abuse. Against millions of defenseless Palestinians. 
Ongoing for decades. With no change in sight so far. Because Israel isn't held accountable. Its high crimes are rewarded.
After 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead slaughter, EU nations upgraded Israeli trade relations. In 2012, Ban Ki-moon conspired with Western nations.
Blocking UN and/or ICC investigations into Israeli genocidal high crimes. During Operation Protective Edge, Congress approved another $225 million in Israeli military aid.
Germany sold Israel a nuclear attack submarine. Britain maintains business as usual. Refusing to halt arms shipments.
Letting Israeli high crimes go unpunished makes the inevitable possible. Continued Palestinian repression.
Police state viciousness. Naked aggression at Israel's discretion. Slow-motion genocide by any standard. 
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal sees big trouble coming. A possible bloodbath, saying:
"Israeli stubbornness, combined with the international impotence in solving the Palestinian issue with a just solution, enabling the Palestinian people their self-determination - this will lead to chaos in the region, not just in the Palestinian arena, but an open conflict - a bloodbath." 
"We warn against keeping the Palestinian issue with no solution and stripping the Palestinian people of hope."
Netanyahu is "playing with fire," he said. Turning a "national fight" into a "religious" one.
Governing repressively. Letting Knesset hardliners, radicalized settlers and other "extremists" have provocative Al-Aqsa access.
Islam's third most holy site. Non-Muslim visitors are permitted. Jewish prayer forbidden.
Radicalized settlers at times storm the compound. Some want Al-Aqsa destroyed. Replaced by a third Jewish temple.
Mashaal said recent violence was a "reaction" to Israeli repression. Jerusalem's Har Nof synagogue killings were an expression of "extreme anger."
"(O)ne of the rare occasions when a synagogue was targeted," he said. Netanyahu bears full responsibility.
For the actions of those involved. "(F)or them not having hope on the horizon for a just settlement of the Palestinian cause."
"When public anger reaches its limit, it explodes on its own, and expresses itself in ways that surprises everyone."
At the same time, calling PA enforcement of Israeli policies unacceptable. So-called Abbas negotiations with Israel are "useless."
A waste of time. Utter failure. He negotiates from a position of weakness. His "positions satisfy western and American standards."
At the expense of his own people. "Israeli occupation as it is, like all occupations in history, won't withdraw from occupied lands, except under pressure. They do not withdraw voluntarily," Mashaal stressed.
"The Israeli behavior is giving us this clear message…Hamas wants to…partner with its people, powers and personalities, to create a promising Palestinian future."
He blasted Western leaders for supporting Israel. Ignoring Palestinian rights. Letting longstanding conflict continue. Saying:
"The question is what Palestinian position (is) required from Hamas or from Fatah or from the other Palestinian factions that will satisfy the international world to help us achieve our goals?" 
"We showed every flexibility required to reach a solution when the Palestinian powers all agreed to a resolution based on the 1967 border." 
"The West rejected it and the Israelis rejected it, and there are parties that conspired against it. What does the international community want?”
Longstanding injustice assures continued conflict. Eventually boiling over uncontrollably. 
Palestine's main internal problem is Abbas. A longtime Israeli collaborator. Betraying his people for wealth, power and world stage position.
Expect no change with him in charge. Israel's enforcer. A willing co-conspirator against his own people.
Participating in multiple rounds of sham peace talks. Failing for good reason. Dead on arrival each time.
Israel is all take and no give. Fascists operate this way. Current governance is Israel's most extremist ever.
Next March's election results may be worse. For sure not better.
Petitioning Security Council members for change won't work. US veto power alone prevents it. 
Israel ignores all UN resolutions contrary to its interests. International law is consistently breached. Rare pro-Palestinian High Court rulings are side-stepped.
Boycotting Israel is more important than ever. When pursued with commitment it works.
BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti asks "why BDS?" Defining three fundamental Palestinian rights. Including ending Israel's lawless West Bank/Gaza/Golan/Lebanese territory occupations.
Institutionalized discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens. Permitting diaspora Palestinians their legal right of return.
Israel's Separation Wall demolished. As ordered by the International Court of Justice.
Reparations paid for destroyed Palestinian homes and property. International law enforced.
Affirming East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital. Palestinians controlling their own borders. Air space. Coastal waters. Resources. 
Within June 1967 borders - 22% of historic Palestine. Willing to concede Israel the remaining 78%.
Despite the UN's 1947 Palestine Partition Plan. Granting 56% of historic Palestine to Jews. The remaining 42% to Palestinians.
Designating Jerusalem an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council. Calling for an independent Arab state by October 1, 1948.
Asking "all Governments and peoples to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations." 
Calling for Security Council action. Empowering it with “the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation.”
Achieving nothing from then to now. Conditions today worse than ever. Peace more illusion than reality. Palestinian self-determination unfulfilled.
Grassroots activism today substitutes for lack of world community action. Despite crumbs of hopeful signs.
Sweden, Britain, France and Spain symbolically recognizing Palestinian self-determination. Short of official government recognition.
On Tuesday, Barghouti spoke at Columbia University. Saying he can't decide if Jews comprise a nation. Or where it should be.
"One thing I do know," he said. "Not at my expense. Jewish statehood excludes "the right to expel us or to take our land."
Barghouti believes Palestine's South Africa moment approaches, saying:
"The latest discussion in Israel about the Jewish nation state law has brought to the fore the very possibility of the unraveling of the entire Zionist project." 
"And these are not my words, these are the words of certain very important leaders in Israel, who say that." What's happening is that the oxymoron of the Jewish and democratic identity of the state of Israel is unraveling."
"Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has always consistently discriminated by law against the indigenous Palestinians. Other than ethnically cleansing them of course." 
"So why is everyone so angry that they're trying to codify the Jewish identity of the state." 
"Some say it's at the expense of the democratic identity. What democratic identity? When you have 50 laws that discriminate against a minority of your citizenry, that’s not democracy…"
"What Netanyahu and his far right government are doing is resolving this oxymoron. It cannot exist any longer." 
"Let's be very honest, Forget democracy. This is an ethnocracy. This is a Jewish supremacist state." 
"So no pretense of democracy. And that's a very important development because it's revealing Israel's true nature.  The last mask of Israel's so-called democracy has been dropped."
BDS is more important than ever. "We've got to see it as our goal, as part of what we do in this country in the BDS movement…"
"(T)o disabuse Americans of the myth of empire being beneficial to all…Only then will most people in this country realize that Israel does not serve American interests writ large, but the 1 percent's interests." 
"The great majority of Americans cannot possibly benefit from what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people." 
BDS activism is based on South Africa's model. With important differences. Israel exceeds South Africa's apartheid in important ways.
Reflected in longstanding ethnic cleansing. Slow-motion genocide. Wars at Israel's discretion. Every conceivable obscenity and indignity imaginable.
Israeli apartheid is more sophisticated than South Africa's, said Barghouti. More oppressive.
BDS continues making impressive gains. Last year, Israel officially classified it as a strategic threat.
The phrase "Made in South Africa" once was "toxic, untouchable," said Barghouti. 
"We're not there yet, but we're getting closer." Israel has no viable solution. Its ruthlessness speaks for itself.
Netanyahu helps BDS. "Without him we could not have reached this far at this time," Barghouti explained. 
Palestine's South Africa moment approaches. Hopefully without an intervening bloodbath.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading As Democracy

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 06/12/2014 - 20:55
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading As Democracy
by Stephen Lendman
For the first time since WW II, overt fascists hold real power in Europe. Radicalized ultranationalists. Anti-Semites. Hate-mongers. 
Cold-blooded killers. Whitewashing high crimes. A puppet regime. America's newest colony. 
Mocking democratic values. Violating fundamental rule of law principles. Unaccountably.
Western leaders won't explain. Nor media scoundrels. Hard truths are buried. Big Lies substitute. 
Ukraine's government usurped power forcibly. Putschist rule has no legitimacy. 
Especially regimes waging war on their own people. Murdering them in cold blood. Committing horrendous human rights abuses. 
Tolerating no opposition. Ruling by intimidation. Force-feeding neoliberal harshness on impoverished people. Making life unbearable overall. More on this below.
On December 4, Wall Street Journal editors published illegitimate/oligarch Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko's op-ed headlined "A Year Later, a New Ukraine."
Legitimate editors wouldn't touch this rubbish. Journal editors featured it. Beginning-to-end misinformation. Deception. Big Lies.
WSJ editorials and op-eds reinvent history. Poroshenko's rant is Exhibit A, saying:
"For the first time since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the nation has the opportunity to evolve into a true European democracy, thanks to the recent election of a pro-European constitutional majority to Parliament." 
"A pro-reform and pro-European Parliament and government are now in place, and a politically reset Ukraine has been empowered to make permanent changes that have been long awaited by the Ukrainian people and by the international community."
Fact: Ukrainian-style democracy is none at all. Pure fantasy.
Fact: Presidential and parliamentary elections were farcical. Illegitimate by any standard.
Fact: Whole families won parliamentary seats.
Fact: Poroshenko's son, Oleksiy, represents Vinnitsa region's No. 12 precinct. 
Fact: The same one his father represented years earlier. Bequeathed to his son.
Itar Tass commented earlier, saying:
"…Ukraine’s political class is built on the foundation of nepotism and cronyism, as all the political forces display the tradition of nominating candidates on the grounds of kinship."
Russia's Foreign Ministry said parliamentary elections "were marked by an unprecedented number of gross violations of basic international standards for democratic elections, which were recorded during the election campaign, election day and vote counting."
"A year passed since" Maidan protests, said Poroshenko. Followed by "the Revolution of Dignity," he claimed.
"Ukrainians were opting for freedom, not fear, choosing democracy, not dictatorship, and believing in the future, not the past."
"The idea of a new Ukraine was born. We had the courage to fight for it. Now we have the institutional powers to implement it."
Fact: Right Sector neo-Nazis murdered Kiev residents and police. 
Fact: Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was wrongfully blamed.
Fact: Fascist snipers used automatic weapons. Fired from Philharmonic Hall's rooftop and windows. Overlooking the Maidan. Clear evidence proved it.
Fact: Washington orchestrated what happened. Putschists practically lived at its embassy. It was coup d'etat headquarters.
Fact: Reuters discovered "serious flaws" in Kiev's investigation. Including "missing evidence." Regime officials "played roles in supporting the uprising."
Ukrainians want democratic freedoms. Responsible governance. Verboten notions for fascists. Ruling by brute force.
Poroshenko's governance is more deform than reform. Saying "Ukraine is finally ready to build a robust state" denies reality. 
So is claiming a Moscow threat. None whatever exists. No evidence suggests otherwise.
"On the external front, we are united in fighting for our freedom and for our future as an independent nation - a fight that has implications for all of Europe and global security," said Poroshenko.
Fascists deplore freedom. Crushing it for unchallenged control.
Ukrainian independence was lost. Washington controls its newest colony. 
Poroshenko its puppet leader. Presiding over a police state apparatus. Ruling by intimidation. 
Serving at America's discretion. Remaining president as long as he remembers who's boss. 
Truth is polar opposite his Big Lies. Russia's White Book documented hard truths. Revealing serious human rights violations. Including:
(1) Violations of human rights.
(2) Interference by the European Union and United States.
(3) Weapons and violent methods used by protesters.
(4) Restrictions on basic freedoms and crackdown on dissidents.
(5) Discrimination based on ethnic background.
(6) Religious persecution.
According to Moscow's press service, content is "based on reports in the Russian and Western media, as well as statements by representatives of the current Kiev authorities and their supporters, eyewitness testimon(ies), observations and on-site interviews collected by Russian nongovernmental organizations."
A second White Book covers the period April through July 2014. Calling conditions "aggravated in all areas." Worse than ever.
Including illegitimate fascist rule. Brazen pressure and threats. Severe repression. Physical violence. Suppressing press freedom.
Terrorizing independent journalists. Harassing and beating them. No-holds-barred brutality. Like Nazi Germany. 
History has a disturbing way of repeating. Core elements are unchanged. Ukrainians were betrayed. Expect worse ahead, not better.
Kiev's dirty war continues. Without mercy. Against Donbas residents. Wanting real democracy. Rejecting fascist rule.
Putting their lives on the line for freedom. A testimony to courage. Deserving universal support. 
Their liberating struggle continues. Largely on their own. Russia the only nation providing vitally needed humanitarian aid.
Kiev wanting millions of Donbas residents isolated. Denied what people need to survive. Attacked with heavy weapons. Illegal ones.
According to Russia's Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov:
"For the first time, Human Rights Watch clearly recognized that the Ukrainian military are using multiple-launch missile systems and banned weapons against civilians in Donbas." 
"This confirms the data contained in the White Book released by the Russian Foreign Ministry."
"Rights activists must put pressure on the West and on Kiev authorities to prevent further crimes."
Russia's updated White Book (its 3rd edition) contains documented evidence of new crimes and abuses.
Especially "social and economic strangling" of Donbas residents. Noting neo-Nazi mass marches.
"Why does this happen in Europe of the 21st century," asked Dolgov? "What is happening presents a major threat to the entire international community."
According to Russia's updated White Book, "Ukrainian government forces used phosphorus and cluster bombs, Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers and Tochka-U ballistic missiles against the population in the south-east of the country."
"Along with heavy weapons and warplanes, Ukrainian authorities used such ammunition as incendiary, phosphorous and cluster bombs, howitzer artillery and 240-mm mortar systems."
Dolgov called Kiev's actions serious war crimes, saying:
"Certainly, all such facts can be taken as nothing but war crimes which were committed and are still being committed against civilians."
Mass graves discovered contained hundreds bodies of Nazi-style extrajudicial executions. 
Russia's Foreign Ministry urged international organizations and media to report non-politicized assessments of what's ongoing.
As a way to help stop outrageous abuses. Its Ministry saying:
"We are convinced that distraction from reality and attempts to conceal it from the international community or to manipulate public opinion are a hypocritical and dead-locked path."
Kiev caused Donbas area catastrophic conditions. Up to 60% of homes were destroyed or seriously damaged.
Regime authorities tried blocking Russian aid. Convoys of mercy. "The fundamental position of the Russian Federation remains unchanged," its Foreign Ministry said.
"(I)n favor of strict observance of the Minsk agreement on both sides."
"Kiev's time to finally stop the reckless attempts to solve the problem of relations with the south-east of the country with tanks, guns and other military ways, renounce violence and to negotiate with the representatives proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics. "
"No other way, and this without talking heads of Ukraine and their foreign patrons of the establishment of Ukrainian democracy is absurd."
Moscow has verifiable information of unjustifiable political imprisonments. 
"The period under review was characterized by the rapid degradation of the situation in the field of freedom of expression and restrict the activities of undesirable Kiev government media," according to its updated White Paper.
"International News Safety Institute has recognized Ukraine as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists."
Political censorship is rife. All popular Russian TV channels are blocked.
"The rapidly developing practice of political persecution and widespread persecution of the politicians supporting an approach different from Kiev held a cynical course," Russia's White Book says. 
"For this purpose, (it notes) the murder of political opponents, the fabrication of criminal cases, illegal searches, confiscation of property, assault and bullying banal tricks such as 'junk lustration' and other illegal methods of influence, contrary to the principle of the rule of law and democratic standards."
"According to the Russian Federal Migration Service, November 20, the total number of Russian citizens are in Ukraine is 831,085 thousand people." 
"In Russia there is deployed 795 temporary accommodation centers in which there are 38,643 people, including 12,046 children up to 18 years."
"486,233 citizens of Ukraine in the territorial bodies of Russia have applied to the Russian Foriegn Ministry Service to determine their legal status." 
"243,141 of them apply for temporary asylum in Russia and 5,721 submitted applications for recognition as a refugees.""All crimes committed during the Ukrainian crisis must be objectively, fairly and effectively investigated." 
Especially killing, terrorizing and imprisoning journalists. Maidan killings. The Odessa massacre. 
Using force disproportionately. Murdering civilians. Targeting children. Downing MH17. Mass graves with extrajudicially executed victims. Use of prohibited weapons. Other war crimes too serious to ignore.
“It is crucial that the Ukrainian authorities stop the 'bandaging' and begin an independent, impartial, effective and transparent investigation," Russia's White Book said.
Accountability is long overdue. So is honest MSM journalism. Reporting hard truths. 
Explaining fascist ruthlessness in Europe's heartland. Unbridled brutality defines it. Preventing regional peace and security.
Risking the unthinkable. War without end. Spilling cross-border. Open conflict with Russia. Nuclear war with America involved. 
Risking humanity's survival. Lunatics in Washington make anything possible.
A Final Comment
Last month, a Ukrainian citizen emailed the following comments, saying:
"Dear Mr. Lendman,
"Thank you a lot (for) tell(ing) the truth. I live in Ukraine, Izmail (city in the Southwest of the country). My relatives live in Donbas."
"After USA brought 'the democracy' to Ukraine, we here cannot even tell what we're thinking. There is really fascist power here now."
"Vladimir (I am sorry. I'm afraid to sign my last name)"
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Assad Affirms Syrian Sovereign Independence

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 06/12/2014 - 07:24
Assad Affirms Syrian Sovereign Independence
by Stephen Lendman
Syria is proudly independent. Assad affirmed it forthrightly. Intends maintaining it. Refusing US-controlled puppet state status.
Unlike other regional governments. Ones in other parts of the world. Sacrificing their sovereign independence. 
Betraying their people. Mocking legitimate governance. For special benefits they derive.
In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Assad was asked if he feels responsible for over three and a half years of war.
Since its early days, "we have been facing terrorism," he said. "It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number." 
"In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There's no other choice." 
"We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn't mean that there weren't mistakes made in practice." 
"There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different." 
"If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn't necessarily mean that the events had internal causes."
Asked about using excessive force, he said:
"When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?!" 
"The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians." 
"There's no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years?" 
If we haven't been defending the people, we wouldn't have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense."
Asked about satellite images and UN claimed number of deaths, he responded:
"First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures?" 
"The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate." 
"Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate." 
"When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction." 
"But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks." 
"Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians."
Asked about millions of Syrian refugees, he said:
"Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation." 
"There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side."
How will you win the war, he was asked?
"(W)e are fighting states, not only gangs," he said. "Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs." 
"They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective." 
"Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when." 
"But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war." 
"The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically."
Much Syrian terrorism is in militant hands, said his interviewer. Assad responded, saying:
"The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere." 
"Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region." 
"But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter." 
"This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that." 
"We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That's why it's going to be a long and difficult war."
Asked if his departure could end war, he said:
"The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well." 
"No president can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result?" 
"Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy?" 
"The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first."
Asked if he feared for his life, he responded:
"A captain doesn't think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country." 
"But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis." 
"But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles."
Asked about Islamic State terrorists, he said:
"In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let's agree on the terms first." 
"Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages." 
Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying?" 
"We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition." 
"This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006." 
"It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?"
What about internal sleeper Jihadi cells, he was asked?
"Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn't acknowledge any borders," he said. 
"20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia." 
"Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France." 
"There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened."
Asked about Washington's intervention as a tactical ally violating Syrian sovereignty, he said:
"First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism." 
"It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case." 
"So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty."
Asked about coordinating air strikes with America, he said:
"There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing." 
"You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance." 
"There's no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic."
Asked about US airstrikes helping Syria, he responded:
"Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS's enemies."
Asked more about whether US airstrikes help an Hagel's sacking, he said:
"Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes."
"That's why, and after two months of the alliance's airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction." 
"And that's why saying that the alliance's airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us." 
"But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven't felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions."
Asked about going from French ally to outcast, he said:
"The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative." 
"It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran." 
"The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will." 
"Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent."
Asked if can revive relations with Hollande, he said:
"The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with." 
"It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations." 
"When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them." 
"But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people." 
"As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything." 
"I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS."
He categorically says all Syrian chemical weapons were destroyed. None remain. "(O)ur decision was final."
Asked about John Kerry accusing him of using chorine, he responded:
"You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it." 
"But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it." 
"We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine." 
"These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?"
Asked if he used chemical weapons earlier, he said:
"We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died." 
"It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live."
He called it "painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists." 
"It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar."
He ended asking why Western states launched aggression against Syria. 
"Have we done anything to hurt them?" Evil people do evil things. Ordinary people suffer most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

US and Israel: Partners in High Crimes Against Peace

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 06/12/2014 - 06:17
US and Israel: Partners in High Crimes Against Peace
by Stephen Lendman
No nations threaten world peace and security more than America and Israel. Partnering in each other's high crimes.
Including Israel's summer Gaza war. Amnesty International called Washington no "uninvolved bystander."
As Israel's largest weapons and munitions supplier. Sharing responsibility for unspeakable crimes. 
Genocide by any standard. Mass-murdering Palestinians. Turning large parts of Gaza to rubble. 
Restocking Israel with 3,000 smart bombs. Precision-guided for greater accuracy. With more effective killing power.
Used in Operation Protective Edge. Intended for Israel's next war. Maybe soon than most people think. Billions of dollars in annual military aid make anything possible.
Obama supplyies more than any of his predecessors. Around $8.5 million daily. More on Israel's request. Plus covert amounts.
Consistent with a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding between both countries. From 1981. Saying in part:
"This memorandum of understanding reaffirms the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations." 
"The parties recognize the need to enhance strategic cooperation to deter all threats from the Soviet Union to the region." 
"Noting the longstanding and fruitful cooperation for mutual security that has developed between the two countries, the parties have decided to establish a framework for continued consultation and cooperation to enhance their national security by deterring such threats to the whole region."
Annual funding increases aim to give Israel qualitative regional military superiority over rivals. Enabling it wage naked aggression at its discretion.
Partner in Washington's wars. Wage undeclared war on Syria. Support Islamic State, Nusra Front and Al Qaeda terrorists. 
Complicit with America. Supplying them with weapons and munitions. Treating their wounded.
In mid-June, Foreign Policy headlined "Exclusive: Israel Is Tending to Wounded Syrian Rebels," saying:
Israel is "q)uietly cultivating ties…providing medical care and other identified supplies…"
"UN blue helmets responsible for monitoring the decades-long (Israeli/Syrian) ceasefire report observing 'transferring 89 wounded persons' from Syrian territory into Israel, where they were received by members of the Israel Defense Forces, according to the report." 
"The IDF returned 21 Syrians to armed opposition members back in Syria, including the bodies of two who died."
"Throughout the reporting period, UNDOF frequently observed armed members of the opposition interacting with the IDF across the cease-fire line."
"On one occasion, UNDOF observed the IDF on the Alpha side (inside Israel) handing over two boxes to armed opposition on the Bravo side (inside Syria)."
Israeli involvement is part "of a broader international effort, including by the United States," to support anti-Assad forces. Extremist ones. Brutal killers. Despite claims otherwise.
Months earlier, Netanyahu visited an Israeli military field hospital. Treating wounded rebel fighters. Claiming it's part of Israel's humanitarian mission.
While waging covert war at the same time. Occasional hot war by lawlessly bombing Syrian targets. Several cross-border ground attacks. Working with Washington for regime change.
To remove a regional rival. Isolate Iran. Target the Islamic Republic for regime change. Risk greater war.
Aiding the flow of weapons, munitions and anti-Assad terrorists cross-border. Death squad killers. Committing unspeakable atrocities. Beheadings and much more.
On December 3, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) called "Israel's support (for) terrorists has been very clear at all levels, particularly through occupied Golan, in an outrageous violation of the international law and the relevant UN Security Council's resolutions."
Violating Security Council Resolution 2170. It calls on UN Member States "to suppress the flow of foreign fighters, financing and other support to Islamist extremist groups in Iraq and Syria…"
It "condemned in the strongest terms what it called 'gross, systematic and widespread abuse' of human rights by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and Al-Nusra Front."
It "demanded that ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other entities associated with Al-Qaida cease all violence and terrorist acts, and immediately disarm and disband."
It called for "further firm Council action to deal with them." Obama's so-called war on IS is war on Syria. Objective: Same as always. Regime change.
After hundreds of US airstrikes, IS terrorists remain resilient. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem saying:
"All the indications say that (Islamic State) today, after two months of coalition air strikes, is not weaker."
Nor will it be unless Turkey, Jordan and Israel close its borders. Al-Moualem believes Turkey has designs on Syrian territory.
Its greatest threat is US imperialism. Wanting unchallenged dominance. Allying against Syria with Turkey,. Other rogue NATO countries. Gulf ones. Israel.
End their support for IS and other terrorist group, and Syria can be entirely liberated in months. Maybe sooner, al-Moualem believes.
Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov said "(i)nterference from (other countries) is (evident) in Syria." Western and regional ones.
"…I hope a session of the strategic forum on relations between Russia and the League of Arab States will debate in detail…so that no-one will hamper countries in the Middle East and North Africa being rulers of their fate to preserve sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Putin said it's up to Syrians to choose who'll lead them. Not outside powers. Conditions aren't "normal." 
Because of Western supported extremist groups. An open secret media scoundrels won't touch.
"We want to prevent chaos…*(W)e do not want terrorist organizations to gain more strength as it is in Iraq, where almost 40% of the territory has been seized by a terrorist organization. No one wants this," said Putin.
"The problem is how to create conditions for all the people living in that country to feel safe, to have equal access to governing the country and to cooperate." 
"We obviously must find a solution acceptable for the Syrian people and for all political forces in that country."
Assad said terrorists are being exported to Syria from Europe. Especially France. He criticized Western nations for supporting extremist groups. Supplying money, weapons and training. 
A separate article discusses his views in depth. Expressed forthrightly. Candidly.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a complicit Western tool. Betraying world trust. Violating his oath:
"(T)o exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to (him) to discharge these functions and regulate (his) conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of (his) duties from any government or other authority external to the Organization."
Letting America and Israel get away with mass murder. Ignoring the worst of their high crimes. Paying lip service only to others. 
Meaningless rhetoric when spoken. After calling Gaza destruction "beyond description." Worse than before. He hasn't lifted a finger to help. Or demand Israel be held accountable.
His actions speak for themselves. Showing contempt for UN Charter principles. Ones he's sworn to uphold. Never has. Never will. Serving Western interests. At the expense of world peace.
Obama's war on Syria remains ongoing. No end in sight looms. Ashton replacing Hagel suggests continued toughness on Russia. 
Escalated Middle East war. Perhaps Libya war 2.0. To restore Western puppets to power. It currently operates from a luxury Tobruk hotel.
The Islamist General National Congress controls Tripoli. Libya's capital. Violence, instability, insecurity and chaos reflect daily life. No end in sight looms.
Obama bears full responsibility. Permanent wars rage on his watch. What most Americans want ended. Billions worldwide. America's imperial priorities alone 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: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Risking War with Russia

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 05/12/2014 - 21:24
Risking War with Russia
by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles explained. Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Deception, popular fiction and Big Lies launch them. 
Intense Russia bashing rages. Risking international peace, stability and security. 
Last month in Brisbane, Obama irresponsibly called Russia "a threat to the world." US-led NATO and Israel alone menace world peace, stability and security.
Russia's Foreign Ministry commented, saying:
"The latest NATO fact sheet on the so-called problem issues of its relations with Russia is a fresh attempt to present the bloc’s policy as the only one possible and to justify its efforts to strengthen its military capability and military presence in close proximity to Russia’s borders." 
"NATO has again provided loose interpretations and partisan assessments of the norms of international law and political agreements, surrendering objectivity and fairness to political expediency and bloc interests."
"This is evidence of the bloc’s inability to analyse and admit the mistakes of its eastward expansion policy, which it has been pursuing for the past two decades and which has largely led to the current crisis in the Euro-Atlantic security system." 
"This is also evidence of a desire to shift the blame onto Russia and to present it as a geopolitical adversary in order to justify the bloc’s existence, as can be seen from the tone and content of the final documents of the 2 December meetings of the NATO foreign ministers and the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which are highly confrontational with regard to Russia and will only increase tensions and create new dividing lines in Europe."
"We don’t accept this. This presentation of allegedly objective facts, which is designed to suit the NATO agenda, is perplexing and cause for concern. Russia has presented its principled position and arguments on all issues in the NATO fact sheet more than once and at various levels.""We note with regret that NATO has not abandoned its politically motivated approaches and is not willing to develop equal cooperation with Russia on real rather than imaginary threats to the Euro-Atlantic region."
On December 4, Putin delivered his annual state of the nation address to Russia's parliament. Discussing major issues.
Explaining his views. His outlook. Short and longer-term. Speaking forthrightly. Candidly. Telling like it is. No spin straight talk.
Polar opposite Obama's demagogic mumbo jumbo. Featuring a litany of Big Lies every time he speaks. 
Mocking legitimate leadership. Buffoon-like and then some. Nothing he says is credible.
Putin commented on US/Russian relations, saying:
America "always" tries to "influenc(e) our relations with neighbors directly or behind-the-scenes."
"Sometimes I don't even know who it is better to talk with - with the governments of certain states or directly with their American patrons and sponsors."
It's senseless to deal with Russia from a position of strength, he said. Containment is official US policy. Directed at sovereign independent states.
Sanctions reflect it. So does expanding US-led NATO east. Encroaching menacingly on Russia's borders.
Containment wasn't "invented yesterday," said Putin. "It has been carried out against (Moscow) for many and many years - always, if one can say. For decades if not centuries."
"Each time when someone believes that Russia has become too strong, independent, these tools are used immediately."
Moscow remains resolute. "Under no circumstances…planning to curtail…relations with Europe and America."
Wants good relations with all nations. Unwilling to let itself become balkanized. Like Yugoslavia.
"They would have gladly applied the Yugoslav scenario of dismemberment and disintegration to us with all the tragic consequences for the peoples of Russia," said Putin.
"They failed. We did not allow them to do that. (S)tate sovereignty is an absolutely essential condition for Russia's existence."
Russia won't get involved in an expensive arms race, he explained. At the same time, it'll "reliably ensure (its) defense capability."
"This will be done," said Putin. "Russia has such possibilities and nonstandard solutions."
It launched a new National Defense Control Center (NDCC). Upgrading its Central Command of the General Staff. 
Built nderground. In a Moscow-fortified facility. Including several large war rooms.
With state-of-the-art supercomputer capability. Including encryption. Multiple backup sites nationwide. Secret transport routes for emergency evacuation.
Meant to monitor national security threats. Including ballistic missile launches. Nuclear weapons deployment. Able to control things in case of war.
According to NDCC head Lt. General Mikhail Mizintsev:
The facility is "one of the biggest military projects of the past few years." 
"The closest analogy in the past in terms of functions and tasks was the Commander-in-Chief HQ in 1941-45, which centralized all controls of both the military machine and the economy of the nation in the interests of the war."
When Bush abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002, a strategic world imbalance followed, said Putin.
Calling it harmful for America and other nations. "(B)ecause it creates the dangerous illusion of invincibility." 
Addressing Ukraine, he condemned Kiev's coup. Seizing power forcefully. Ruling illegitimately.
"What we currently see in Ukraine, the tragedy of its south-eastern regions fully confirms that our stance is right," he said.
"In this context, is it possible to support an armed seizure of power, violence and murders?" 
"How can one support that under the cover of protecting international law and human rights? This is pure cynicism."
On December 4, US House members barely stopped short of declaring war on Russia. Overwhelmingly passing a non-binding resolution. Signaling hostile US intentions toward Russia.
Former Congressman Denis Kucinich commented, saying:
"NATO encirclement, the US-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border, a US nuclear first-strike policy, are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy."
Heading things dangerously toward open confrontation. The unthinkable. Possible nuclear war.
Last May, Senate members introduced S. 2277: Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014. 
Its full title is "(a) bill to prevent Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes."
Senator Bob Corker (R. TN) introduced it. With 26 Republican co-sponsors. It went to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration. 
No further action so far. Perhaps soon. Perhaps passage. Along with House legislation. Making the unthinkable possible.
Open confrontation with Russia. Senate legislation provides "major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services."
Effectively incorporating these countries into NATO. Making its killing machine more formidable. Letting Washington establish bases on Russia's borders. 
Policies implemented much earlier. Well advanced. Obama's Asia pivot advances America's footprint east. Challenging China's economic might and military strength. 
Targeting Russia at the same time. Encircling both countries with US bases.
Positioning long-range/multiple nuclear warhead missiles targeting their heartlands. Enhancing Washington's first strike capability. It bears repeating. Risking the unthinkable. Possible global war.
Madness defines US policy. Fascists infest Congress. Lunatics make policy. Obama is the latest in a long line of belligerent US presidents. 
Waging multiple direct and proxy wars. Planning more death and destruction. Threatening world peace. Risking humanity's survival.
Putin is geopolitically opposite. Has no imperial ambitions. Despite Western Big Lies claiming otherwise.
Championing multi-world polarity. Believing rule of law principles matter. So does nation-state sovereignty.
Going all-out for world peace, stability and security. Saying mutual cooperation with all nations works best. 
Benefitting everyone. Without interfering in their internal affairs. Or threatening neighbors. Or having revanchist ambitions.
Unlike America. Targeting one country after another. Ousting sitting governments. Installing pro-Western puppets. 
Ukraine Washington's newest colony. Making policy behind the scenes. Putschists are convenient stooges. One fascist regime supports another.
Media scoundrels are on the wrong side of history. Supporting US state terror. Imperial wars. Kiev's putschist government. 
Bashing Russia irresponsibly. A Washington propaganda bullhorn. Regurgitating Big Lies. Risking global conflict.
The New York Times responded to Putin's state of the nation address as expected. Ignoring hard truths.
Saying it reflected "the winter of Mr. Putin's discontent." Citing sanctions. Falling oil prices. A depreciating ruble.
Mocking Putin. Claiming he "served up yet another hyper-aggressive rant about the purportedly relentless efforts of the perfidious West, orchestrated by Washington, to dismantle, undermine, isolate, humiliate, contain and otherwise destroy Russia."
Blaming him irresponsibly for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Ignoring Washington's full responsibility. With complicit NATO partners.
Calling Putin's straight talk "a combination of bravado and carrots." Praising Obama's "muscular new course…in a turbulent world" earlier.
Ignoring his war on humanity. Russia's commitment to world peace, stability and security.
Denigrating Putin's forthright address as "bluster." Accusing him of becoming "more belligerent and ruthless, at home and abroad…"
Other media scoundrels repeat the same rubbish. Burying hard truths. Spreading Big Lies.
A collective mouthpiece for US wealth, power and privilege. In lockstep with its war machine. 
Fascists running things. Ignoring what matters most. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Music Publishers Sue Cox For Not Kicking People Off the Internet

eff.org - Fri, 05/12/2014 - 07:17

The lawsuit filed last week by music publishers BMG and Round Hill against Cox Communications could be the next battle in the major media companies’ long-term campaign to turn Internet service providers into copyright police. BMG and Round Hill are asking a federal court to declare that ISPs like Cox must terminate their customers’ accounts whenever the publishers’ agent—a company called Rightscorp—says so. Because Cox didn’t immediately kick subscribers off of its service after Rightscorp accused those subscribers  of copyright infringement, BMG and Round Hill say that Cox should pay potentially millions of dollars in penalties.

BMG and Round Hill are basing their suit on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision. That law gives Internet intermediaries, including ISPs, protection against many copyright lawsuits if the ISPs follow some procedures laid out in the law. One of the requirements is that ISPs must have a policy for, in “appropriate circumstances,” terminating “subscribers and account holders” who are “repeat infringers.” The music publishers claim that whenever Rightscorp accuses an ISP subscriber of being a “repeat infringer,” Cox must terminate that user or (1) lose the safe harbor protection; and (2) be liable for massive copyright penalties.

There are two obvious flaws in this theory.  First, the safe harbor doesn’t require ISPs to terminate users on a mere accusation of infringement—or even repeated accusations. The law calls for termination only for repeat infringers, and only in appropriate circumstances. Rightscorp’s “because I said so” letters to ISPs aren’t enough, because Rightscorp doesn’t give any evidence of copyright infringement or explain how they detected it—the company just insists that it happened. The courts haven’t said exactly what a “repeat infringer policy” has to include, but we know it requires more than bald accusations. It’s frightening to contemplate a world where mere accusations of infringement are enough to get an Internet account and everyone who depends on it thrown off of the Internet.

Second, even if Cox loses safe harbor protections, it's not at all clear that it needs them.  Cox itself doesn’t help subscribers infringe copyrights any more than Ford or Toyota help bank robbers by building getaway cars. Absent some additional facts (like actively encouraging subscribers to download content illegally), Cox and other ISPs can’t be held liable for simply transmitting data to and from the Internet for its customers, even if some customers download music or movies illegally.

There is a yet more fundamental problem, though.  An ISP only knows who its subscriber is—the name on the Internet bill—not who was using an Internet connection at a given time. Many people share an Internet connection within a household, or run open wi-fi as a way of being neighborly. Just as an ISP isn’t responsible for copyright infringement by users for simply moving their bits, a home Internet subscriber shouldn't be held responsible for infringement they didn’t know about or assist.  A given IP address is not a "repeat infringer," though a given user may be.

Major media companies, including music publishers, have long sought to turn ISPs (along with major Internet sites, search engines, and payment processors) into copyright enforcers, removing people and materials from the Internet whenever the media giants ask for it. The notorious SOPA and PIPA bills, the failed lawsuits against YouTube and Veoh, and the “Six Strikes” copyright surveillance system are all part of this strategy. The BMG/Round Hill lawsuit looks like the latest move in this campaign.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceCopyright TrollsDMCA
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