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Gross Israeli Injustice - Sun, 31/01/2016 - 03:01
Gross Israeli Injustice
by Stephen Lendman
Israel persecutes Palestinians viciously, stealing their land, displacing them, extrajudicially killing them, imprisoning them on trumped up charges, their fundamental rights systematically denied.
Five Palestinian teenagers were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, fined $39,000 their families are forced to pay for a crime their children didn’t commit. 
Rubber-stamp/military kangaroo court justice ruled otherwise. Ali Shamlawi, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf, and Tamer Souf were 16 - 17 years-old when wrongfully charged with stone-throwing and attempted murder (later reduced to manslaughter), despite no evidence proving it.
No incident occurred. No witnesses suggested one. Guilt by accusation is virtually automatic in Israeli military courts, young children treated as viciously as adults, shamelessly called “terrorists.”
An accident involving a settler car crashing into a truck seriously injured the driver’s three young daughters. One died last year from pneumonia. Stone-throwing had nothing to do with the incident, five Palestinian teenagers victimized by Israeli injustice.
Israeli media scoundrels are like America’s. Rare exceptions prove the rule. They straightaway called a highway accident a “terrorist attack,” repeating irresponsible regime charges.
The Hares Boys, named after their home village, were arrested in March 2013, lawlessly held for nearly three years under horrific conditions before being sentenced.
They denied throwing stones as charged. It didn’t matter. They were brutally tortured during interrogations, denied family and legal counsel contacts at the time, forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they didn’t understand, later recanted them, now face longterm imprisonment.
Once Palestinians are charged, innocence is no defense, young children as vulnerable as adults. Criminal injustice is longstanding Israeli practice.
According to Defense for Children International-Palestine’s Bashar Jamal, nearly 700 Palestinian children are wrongfully arrested, brutally treated, prosecuted, automatically convicted or held administratively uncharged and untried, systematically denied justice annually - on average around two a day.
Israeli settlers are free to commit violence and vandalism unaccountably against Palestinians and their communities.
It bears repeating. No evidence against the wrongfully convicted boys exists. Not a single eyewitness corroborated regime charges.
No one saw Palestinians throwing stones on the day of the incident. Some reports called them “concrete blocks,” suggesting something too heavy to lift, let alone throw and hit a passing car.
Media reports after early ones were filled with disturbing contradictions and inconsistencies, indicating a political motive behind state persecution.
Palestinians systematically face fabricated charges, recklessly called terrorists, framed for crimes they didn’t commit, automatically denied justice.
Police states operate this way, Israel one of the most vicious, Palestinians terrorized for not being Jews.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Biowarfare? Genetically Modified Mosquitos Spreading the Zika Virus - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 23:02
Biowarfare? Genetically Modified Mosquitos Spreading the Zika Virus
by Stephen Lendman
The Zika virus is related to dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses.
So far, drugs aren’t effective against it. A vaccine if developed will do more harm than good. Most infected individuals suffer mild illness, called Zika disease.
Potentially deadly Guillain-Barre syndrome at times occurs. Fetuses are at risk for microcephaly, an abnormally small head in relation to the rest of the body and underdeveloped brain, permanent damage.
Zika has been around for decades, occasional outbreaks occurring in Africa and Asia - currently in Central and South America, Brazil its epicenter.
It’s being spread by genetically engineered mosquitos. Is it the latest example of US biowarfare? America’s sordid history suggests it.
In 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads infected human subjects with cancer cells - under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations. He later conducted radiation exposure experiments on American soldiers and civilian hospital patients.
In 1932, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study infected 200 unwitting Black men, using them as human guinea pigs, denying them treatment, following the progression of their disease, deliberately letting them suffer and die.
In 1940, 400 Chicago prisoners were infected with malaria to study the effects of new and experimental drugs.
At least since the 1940s, America had an active biological warfare program, using controversial methods to test bioweapons. 
VA hospital patients have been used as human guinea pigs for medical experiments. Biological agents were released in US cities (including New York and San Francisco) to test the effects of germ warfare.
America’s deplorable history at home and abroad includes numerous other examples. Washington uses biological, chemical, radiological and other banned weapons in all its wars.
Are US-unleashed genetically modified mosquitos being used to wage biological warfare in Central and South America?
The Zika virus outbreak is linked to GM mosquitos released in field trials funded by Bill Gates.
The corporate-controlled World Health Organization (WHO) said Zika “is now spreading explosively” in the Americas, hyping an estimated three to four million people at risk over the next year.
Central and South American nations urged women to avoid pregnancy for at least two years. Is Zika being used as an attempted population control scheme?
GM mosquitos allegedly released to keep dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunga (a crippling mosquito-borne virus) and zika from spreading are facilitating its outbreaks in numerous Central and South American countries - notably Brazil and Colombia.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned of potential small Zika outbreaks in southern Florida and Texas.
UK biotech company Oxford Insect Technologies developed GM mosquitos with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding - a profit-making enterprise, masquerading as a charitable one.
One critic called its operations “vulture philanthropy,” investing in companies causing health problems they claim to be combatting.
Not coincidentally, Zika’s outbreak occurred where GM mosquitos were released last year in Brazil, now affecting about 20 Central and South American countries. 
Maybe areas in southern US states will follow. What’s happening has the earmarks of state-sponsored biowarfare.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Western/Regional-Supported Terrorist Groups Invited to Syrian Peace Talks - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 22:25
Western/Regional-Supported Terrorist Groups Invited to Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
A separate article called them farcical, dead on arrival, orchestrated to fail, not succeed.
Anti-Assad US-led Western and Saudi-led regional states’ claims about wanting conflict ended, peace restored, things resolved diplomatically ring hollow.
Endless conflict continues. Scheduled talks change nothing. Violence, instability and chaos serve Washington’s agenda. Peace and stability defeat it.
On Friday, Tass said Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee spokesman Andrey Przhezdomsky blasted Turkey’s continued “organized system of transferring addition(al) (gunmen) to the ISIL,” along with regularly supplying weapons cross-border.
Russian special services knows routes taken, Istanbul the “key” one. Turkey, complicit with Washington and other rogue allies, fuels continued war without mercy in Syria.
Assad’s UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari accused “the Erdogan regime that rules Turkey” with directly aiding ISIS and other terrorist groups, its armed forces involved in supporting them, Syrian refugees subjected to “cruel tyranny and terrorism” by Ankara officials.
Russia’s Defense Minister said Turkey lets ISIS and other terrorist fighters move freely cross-border to and from Syria. It continues with talks about to begin, dooming them.
New fighters arrive daily, heavily armed and equipped on Turkish territory, moving freely through so-called UN-monitored checkpoints, the world body complicit with Obama’s war on Syria.
How can its envoy Steffan de Mistura moderate peace talks bias free? He serves Western interests. Neutrality isn’t his mandate.
If talks begin and continue, long futile months lie ahead going nowhere. Washington orchestrated things to fail. 
Nothing in prospect suggests relief for long-suffering Syrians, victims of US imperial viciousness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Farcical Syrian Peace Talks: Dead on Arrival - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 22:01
Farcical Syrian Peace Talks: Dead on Arrival
by Stephen Lendman
Talks are orchestrated to fail. More on this below. Mainstream and much alternative media misreporting continues calling five years of US naked aggression against a nation threatening no one a “civil war.”
There’s nothing “civil” about it. Syria was invaded, Washington using ISIS and other terrorist groups, enlisting fighters from scores of countries.
Obama didn’t wage war to quit. He wants regime change, Assad and loyalists around him ousted, an Israeli rival eliminated, Iran isolated, pro-Western puppet governance installed, Syria transformed into a US-controlled vassal state, likely balkanized for easier controlled, its people ruthlessly exploited.
Obama bears full responsibility for genocidal mass slaughter, horrific destruction, cities, towns and villages turned to rubble, the severest refugee crisis since WW II from all US post-9/11 imperial wars.
How can there be peace in Syria when achieving it defeats Washington’s agenda? Obama wants endless conflict, violence, instability and chaos, the scenario in all US war theaters.
How is conflict resolution possible with US/Saudi-backed terrorist groups, cutthroat killers responsible for horrific atrocities, largely representing the opposition?
It’s unclear if they intend coming or if showing up will be their tactic to make nonnegotiable, impossible to agree on, demands, not engage in serious talks. 
It appears Washington, key NATO partners, Israel and Saudi-led Gulf States orchestrated a farcical scenario, fantasy talks doomed to fail, Assad wrongfully blamed.
Arab League/UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura represents them. His Friday comments weren’t reassuring, saying:
“The (Saudi-backed) High Negotiations Committee (HNC terrorist groups) decided to participate in the Geneva talks after receiving American and United Nations guarantees.”
What precisely he didn’t explain or if “participation” means showing up to subvert talks. Security Council Res. 2254 is the agreed on format.
It calls for opposing sides to convene in January under UN auspices - initiating a political process toward establishing “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months by Syrians alone.
The aim is drafting a new constitution (likely not much different from the overwhelmingly approved current one in February 2012 by national referendum), as well as holding new elections in 18 months.
Mistura saying he “has good reasons to believe (the HNC is) actually considering (coming) very seriously” to enable “discussions” to begin Sunday doesn’t indicate he’s sure of anything - let alone what’ll happen going forward under conditions as they unfold.
At best, whoever shows up (if anyone) representing the HNC won’t negotiate, only talk to UN officials - insisting Russian and Syrian anti-terrorism targeting ceases, including against towns held hostage by ISIS and other terrorist groups, demands made to subvert, not facilitate discussions.
The New York Times disgracefully characterized their demands as “press(ing) their humanitarian case to the public,” calling cold-blooded killers “moderates,” ignoring their barbarism, operating as US proxies, waging terror war, committing high crimes against peace.
US/Saudi-backed HNC terrorists are headed by Syrian traitor Riad Hijab, serving as coordinator. He lied, calling talks “a Russian and Iranian” plot, “a disaster for the region.”
Washington, Turkey and Saudi Arabia conspired to prohibit Syrian PYD Kurds from participating, their fighters playing a key role against terrorist groups in northern areas.
Russia calls restoring peace and stability to Syria impossible without their involvement, Sergey Lavrov saying:
“How can we talk about political reforms in Syria, ignoring the leading Kurdish party, quite a mighty power that, by the way, actively opposes terrorism on the ground, including ISIS?” 
“Not inviting this group (is) a most serious mistake,” a deliberate effort to subvert talks before they begin.
De Mistura represents Western and Saudi-led regional interests, not what’s best for long-suffering Syrians. 
His orchestrated talks are a prescription for failure. Expect them to go nowhere like earlier. 
Expect US-led endless conflict to continue. Expect Assad to be wrongfully blamed like always.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

The Commerce Department Has Good Recommendations For Fixing Copyright Law - But More is Needed - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 05:47

The U.S. Commerce Department released its long-awaited White Paper on fixes to copyright law yesterday and it's a pretty mixed bag. It includes some good recommendations on how Congress should change the law, but punts on some crucial enduring problems.

This paper grew out of a series of hearings in 2013 and 2014 in which EFF and other public interest organizations and academics gave evidence, along with people from the media and publishing industries. The Commerce Department panel deserves praise for inviting many different viewpoint. It covers three issues: remixes, the ability to re-sell and lend digital goods (called “first sale” rights), and copyright's civil penalties (called “statutory damages”). The paper makes some recommendations to Congress that will help promote innovation and free speech, and will hopefully help begin a conversation about other needed fixes. And the Commerce Department panel did a good job of inviting and hearing many different viewpoints. Still, their recommendations in these three areas don't go far enough to fix the problems they identify.

Legal Protection for Creative Remixes

The term 'remix' has come to stand for a wide range of creative activities that are disfavored by the current copyright regime because they rely on cultural works that are owned by others. The category includes photomanipulations, fan fiction, mashups of music and video, fan edits, redubs, video game modifications, and many other forms of expression that are ubiquitous on the Internet. Technology has made it easier than ever before for the average person to remix blockbusters and other pop culture, and remix is common way for people to highlight or critique the way they are represented or excluded in mass media—a tradition stretching back to Star Trek fanfic writers who told stories about Captain Nyota Uhura commanding the Enterprise rather than being its communications officer or stories that described Kirk and Spock in love.

These activities require copying or imitating aspects of a copyrighted work, leading some rightsholders to send cease and desist letters to remixers who criticize them, whose politics or aesthetics they disagree with, who depict adult content, or who commercialize their remix even in a way that has no impact on the market for the original.

But many remixes would be protected by the doctrine of fair use—assuming the remixer had the financial means and wherewithal to take a risk in court. Facing the risk of statutory damages and the time-consuming nature of resolving fair use cases, most remixers back down instead.

Thus, the current regime of expansive rights for copyright holders, a lack of clear safe harbors for important speech activities, and astronomical statutory damages gives copyright owners the de facto power to censor remix. The effect is aggravated by private arrangements such as YouTube's ContentID or Facebook's copyright monitoring system. ContentID, for example, uses a computer algorithm to detect copyrighted works and enables rightsholders to censor or divert profits from the speech of others, even when copyright law gives them no right to do so.

The fact that copyright law represses a crucial channel for ordinary people, including underrepresented minorities, to speak and be heard reflects a serious problem in the law. This problem should be taken just as seriously as it would be in other areas of law where certain speakers or media are chilled by government regulation.

The Commerce Department undertook to solicit public input and make recommendations regarding how copyright law could be changed to accommodate remix. We explained [PDF] the chilling effect copyright has on important remix speech and suggested a clear and narrow delineation of copyright owners' ability to restrict derivative works like remixes. The ability to control derivative works would only cover faithful adaptations such as translations, novelizations, or abridgements, and would not reach creative works using the original as inspiration or raw material. The Commerce Department panel did not discuss our recommendation in its comments.

The Task Force instead focused its discussion of remix on three categories: the creation of a remix 'safe harbor,' the development of a compulsory licensing regime for remix, and encouraging voluntary licensing practices. It concluded that no binding measures should be adopted, but that voluntary licensing and education for remixers to know their fair use rights would be valuable.

While it certainly would be valuable for all remixers to know the extent of their rights, artists who know the state of the law are often more chilled than those who assume that online norms around shared culture are reflected in the law. More knowledge about a broken system is not a great fix.

Similarly, we have little hope that licensing regimes will address the chilling effect of an overly restrictive copyright system. The trend has been for rightsholders to seek an expansion of rights to generate revenue from every use of copyrighted works that they can detect, and in the Commerce proceeding many spoke of a desire to censor uses they found offensive (a right they do not have under existing US law). Existing licensing practices can be a death knell for entire art forms: commercial sampling, for example, was decimated when artists believed they had to license samples and those licenses were not forthcoming on reasonable terms (or sometimes on any terms at all). Similarly, licensed online music was barren for years because of unwillingness to license on reasonable terms.

Although we are disappointed that the panel didn't recommend stronger protection for remixes, we will continue to advocate for the rights of ordinary people to express themselves using elements of popular culture and push back against copyright law when it sabotages the creation of new cultural works.

Re-Selling Digital Goods – the “First Sale” right

Another topic that the White Paper talks about is people’s ability to re-sell, lend, or give away digital goods. The legal term for this is “first sale” or “exhaustion of rights.” EFF and consumer groups told the Commerce Department panel that the freedoms we take for granted with physical goods, like loaning a book to a friend, selling used DVDs, or renting video games, are under regular assault in the world of digital downloads. Digital goods like ebooks, downloaded movies and games can’t easily be re-sold or given away. That’s mostly because of the fine-print “license agreements” that come with digital goods. The agreements say that we don’t actually own those downloaded goods, even after paying for them and clicking a “Buy” button. And we can lose access to “purchased” digital goods entirely when online stores and servers shut down.

EFF recommended that Congress should change the Copyright Act to make it clear that “lawful possessors” rather than “owners” have the right to sell or give away their copies, and to prevent sellers of digital goods from taking away important buyers’ rights in the fine print.

The White Paper acknowledged these problems, but also talked about newer DRM-based “family plan” and “rental” business models, and subscription-based services like Netflix and Spotify. According to the panel, these new business models “provide[] some of the benefits traditionally provided by the first sale doctrine,” but not the ease of selling or lending copies. Unfortunately, the panel concluded that it was too “difficult . . . to evaluate what consumers have lost” when the freedom to sell, lend, or give away digital goods without permission is taken away. And the panel seemed to be swayed by complaints from the movie and publishing industries that they should not have to compete with legally purchased and re-sold copies of their works.

This is disappointing. The freedom and privacy that come from having full ownership over the things we buy may be difficult to put a price tag on, but that doesn't make them unimportant. There’s lots more that can be done to preserve first sale rights for digital goods and protect buyers, particularly by making the most abusive clauses of fine-print license agreements invalid and protecting customers’ investments. The White Paper did say strongly that words like “Buy,” “Own,” and “Purchase” are misleading when all the customer gets is a “license” and some ephemeral permission to use their downloads. We hope that consumer protection agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and state consumer bureaus take notice of that.

Statutory Damages – Copyright's Broken Penalty Regime

The White Paper also called out copyright law’s massive and unpredictable civil penalties (called “statutory damages”) as a problem that needs a legislative fix. (We agree!) Copyright allows courts to impose damages of up to $30,000 per work, or $150,000 if the infringement is willful, without the copyright holder ever having to prove that they were harmed. That sort of giveaway to plaintiffs doesn’t exist in almost any other area of law, and most countries don’t allow it for copyright.

The White Paper quoted evidence that EFF and many others submitted about the unfairness of statutory damages and the chilling effect they have on innovation. It shows that damages awards often have little or no connection to the actual harm caused by infringement. It also shows that damages amounts for the same type of conduct vary widely and often exceed even large corporations’ ability to pay, making copyright lawsuits a game of financial Russian roulette. And the White Paper mentions how the threat of massive statutory damages fuels the abusive behavior of copyright trolls.

The big media and entertainment companies don’t want rational and predictable copyright penalties, because the current regime gives them a big club to wield against technology companies and innovations in digital media technology that they don’t control. The White Paper quoted their stonewalling responses as well, but didn’t give in to them.

The panel heard lots of proposals for how to fix statutory damages. It recommended three of them:

  • Add guidelines to the statute to help judges set the amount of statutory damages.

  • Strengthen the “innocent infringer” defense so that those who rely on fair use and other important limitations to copyright won’t risk massively large damages; and

  • For online businesses whose users interact with many different copyrighted works, allow judges to calculate damages as a whole rather than per work.

These recommendations are welcome, but they don’t go far enough. The “innocent infringer” defense only lowers the minimum amount of damages that judges can award per work—it doesn’t affect the maximum (schools, libraries, and archives get a bit more protection). That means that an artist or innovative business that relied on fair use in a reasonable way could face ruinous penalties of up to $30,000 per work if a court ultimately disagreed with their fair use rationale. It means that artists and innovators in digital media would still face unnecessary risks. Even the “innocent infringer's” minimum penalty of $200 per work may be disproportionate and unfair if the copyright holder suffered no actual harm.

A better approach would be to eliminate statutory damages entirely when a defendant reasonably relies on fair use or on copyright’s other limitations. That would avoid a chilling effect on speech and innovation. Congress should also separate compensation and punishment into two different damages calculations, the way that most other areas of the law do. And Congress should change the definition of “willful” infringement to something more like the one used in patent law. Today, even relying on a good-faith fair use rationale is sometimes called willful infringement, and that must stop. The White Paper doesn’t rule out these approaches, but only says that more discussion is needed.

We welcome that discussion.  Let's hope this long-awaited document helps move it forward.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Stupid Patent of the Month: Sharing Your Hard Copy Documents, but on a Social Network - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 04:38

Back when you were a kid, you may (depending on your age) have checked books out of your library using a circulation card. The cards, like the one pictured to the right, would allow the librarian to keep track of the books, who had them, and when they were expected back at the library.

(Ohio Univ Libraries / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This month’s Stupid Patent is awarded to Xerox, who on January 19, 2016 was awarded a patent on essentially the library circulation card, but done electronically.

The patent, U.S. Patent No. 9,240,000, is entitled “Social Network for Enabling the Physical Sharing of Documents.” The patent discusses what it sees as a problem with current methods of sharing documents. Specifically, it says that “systems and methods which enable the sharing of documents among people working in proximate locations, while still promoting worker efficiency and independence, is [sic] needed.” In addition, “there is still a need for an efficient social networking platform which is organization specific and which allows members of an organization to know what other members sitting in the same organizational space are reading, what documents they are amendable to sharing, and to which documents they are providing physical access.”

And how does the patent solve these problems? Claim 11 details one way:

11. A computing system for enabling a physical sharing of a hard copy of a document, comprising:

[a] a plurality of programmatic instructions stored on a medium, wherein, when said plurality of programmatic instructions are executed, cause a client computing device to present a first graphical user interface to a user, wherein said first graphical user interface comprises a plurality of printing options for printing the document, wherein said first graphical user interface comprises an input for receiving an indication by the user that the user is willing to physically share the hard copy of the document within a predefined period of time; and

[b] a computing device for hosting at least a portion of a social network comprising a profile page of the user, wherein said computing device receives at least one of a characteristic of the hard copy of the document, in response to the user indicating a willingness to physically share the hard copy and publishes said characteristic on the profile page of the user, wherein said profile page is accessible to everyone who is connected to the user in a social network, and wherein said characteristic include at least one of title, date, location of document, or location of printing.

This claim is a good example of patent-speak. For various reasons, patent claims are often written in long, obfuscating language that tends to make them difficult to understand for anyone who isn’t a patent lawyer. To be clear: patent lawyers will rightly tell you that every word in a claim is important. This is true. But what is also true is that often times claims include terms—such as “plurality of programmatic instructions stored on a medium”—that are essentially meaningless outside the patent system.

Claim 11, when given a plain English translation, reads something like this:

A computer that, [a] via a GUI, asks the user whether they want to print something using through a variety of methods, and to note whether they want to share the document once printed, for a certain amount of time and [b] if the user says they want to share it, updates the user’s status on their profile page that tells people the name of the paper, the date it will be available and where.

This claim reads as merely a computerized version of the library’s circulation card. A library purchases a book (similar to the printing of claim 11). The library then offers it to one of its patrons, who then decides they would like to borrow it for a certain amount of time. The patron brings the book to the counter, the card is filled out with the patron number and due date, and then placed in the file of all the cards for other patrons to search if they’re looking for that book and when it will become available.

We just gave Xerox a patent on what amounts to sharing a book, but electronically. When considered this way, it is clear that Xerox’s patent is a stupid patent. It deserves our censure. But more importantly, this patent issued this month, on an “invention” from 2011. Ultimately this patent is one of hundreds or thousands of patents that don’t describe actual inventions, but rather just rehash old, obvious ideas “on a computer” using confusing language. The failure of the patent office to prevent this patent from issuing is regrettable, and shows just how dysfunctional our patent system is.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Obama Plans More War on US-Ravaged Libya - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 02:56
Obama Plans More War on US-Ravaged Libya
by Stephen Lendman
Endless US imperial wars rage, raping one country after another. Wherever America shows up, mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human misery follow.
ISIS is a US creation. Following a Thursday National Security Council (NSC) meeting, a White House statement lied, saying Obama “emphasized that the United States will continue to counter ISIL terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary.”
“The President directed his national security team to continue efforts to strengthen governance and support ongoing counterterrorism efforts in Libya and other countries where ISIL has sought to establish a presence.”
Earlier on Thursday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signaled more war on Libya ahead, despite endless violence and chaos resulting from Obama’s 2011 aggression, turning the nation into a failed state.
“Washington is developing options for what we might do” ahead, said Carter - code language for more planned naked aggression, assuring greater chaotic conditions than already, on the phony pretext of combating ISIS.
It’s elements got a foothold in Libya with US support, controlling Sirte, a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries further east.
Reports indicate Britain intends deploying about 1,000 special forces, together with thousands of US, French and Italian combat troops, along with another US-led terror-bombing campaign - supporting, not combating ISIS.
Two so-called rival governments vie for control, one in Tobruk supported by Washington and NATO allies, the other in Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
In December, both sides agreed on forming unity governance, excluding numerous tribal groups. Nothing is consummated.  Internal disputes continue.
Days earlier, the so-called internationally recognized parliament overwhelmingly rejected unity government terms. The UN-backed Libyan Presidential Council is expected to present an alternative proposal.
Endless violence and chaos is fertile ground for ISIS, Washington aiding it gain strength in Libya. More US-led war assures greater devastation than already.
Internationally recognized Libyan authorities indicated opposition to foreign intervention. In December, UN envoy Ibrahim Dabbashi said “(n)obody is thinking about requesting foreign intervention at the moment. We are willing to fight (ISIS) ourselves.”
On January 22 in Paris, US Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph (“fighting Joe) Dunford met with France’s defense staff chief General Pierre de Villiers.
Following discussions, Dunford said “(i)t’s fair to say we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL” in Libya.
“Unchecked, I am concerned about (its) spread,” he added, failing to explain it flourishes with foreign support - from Washington and rogue allies.
Media reports indicate US intervention could begin in weeks, together with Britain, France and Italy.
On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Washington would “respond accordingly” in Libya. “We’re going to consider all of our options going forward,” he added - code language for planned US-led naked aggression on the phony pretext of combating ISIS, America’s valued ally.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Longstanding US/UK Spying on Israeli Military Operations - Sat, 30/01/2016 - 02:18
Longstanding US/UK Spying on Israeli Military Operations
by Stephen Lendman
It’s no surprise. Nations routinely spy on allies and adversaries. Today’s sophisticated technology makes it easier than ever.
On Friday, Israeli and Western media reported Washington and Britain accessed Israeli military aircraft video feeds - letting them monitor IDF operations in Gaza, along with watching for potential strikes on Iran.
US and UK intelligence cracked special IDF encryption years ago. They’ve been monitoring communications between Israeli warplanes, drones and military bases.
Edward Snowden-released NSA documents and photos revealed it. Israel expressed disappointment but not surprise, over-hyping what it called “an earthquake…the worst leak in the history of (its) intelligence.”
Tracking is done from a Royal Air Force installation near Mount Olympus, the highest point on Cyprus.
An anonymous Israeli official said the breach means Washington and Britain “forcibly stripped us, and, no less important, that probably none of our encrypted systems are safe from them.”
A 2008 UK intelligence (GCHQ) report called access “indispensable for maintaining an understanding of Israeli military training and operations, and thus an insight into possible future developments in the region.”
“In times of crisis, this access is critical and one of the only avenues to provide up to the minute information and support to US and allied operations in the area.”
The White House declined to comment, only saying spying is conducted for national security reasons. It’s espionage, stealing other countries’ secrets for political, economic and military advantage.
It’s not about keeping us safe. America hasn’t had an enemy since Japan surrendered at WW II’s end.
Domestic spying has nothing to do with national security. It’s for control, transforming America into a police state, its most disadvantaged citizens victimized, thousands wrongfully imprisoned for political reasons.
Earlier released Snowden documents revealed global NSA spying, at home and abroad, including on allied world leaders. Big Brother is real, no longer fiction. Privacy no longer exists.
Unconstitutional mass surveillance is standard practice. Obama escalated what his predecessors began, secretly authorizing illegal intrusions into the lives of ordinary US citizens, monitoring their electronic and telephonic communications without judicial authorization, waging war on freedom, spying more aggressively worldwide than any previous regime in history.
Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev once ludicrously said “Israel does not spy on the United States of America.”
Not according to the CIA, calling Israel America’s main regional spy threat. Numerous Israeli officials are involved - with close ties to foreign military, intelligence and criminal sources.
In 2011, former CIA counterintelligence/military intelligence officer Philip Giraldi accused Israel of stealing everything it gets its hands one, including military, political, industrial, commercial, technological, economic and financial secrets.
Annual FBI reports prominently feature Israeli spying on America. Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier said Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”
The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”
Despite longstanding close ties, past and current US national security officials consider Israel a frustrating ally, a genuine counterintelligence threat.
Its technical capability and human resources match some of America’s best - with direct access to top-level US political, military and intelligence sources, enlisting them to steal American secrets.
Israel gets virtually anything it wants from Washington, its intrusive spying overlooked. 
Their imperial ties matter more, longstanding partners in naked aggression and other high crimes.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

NYT Admits US/Saudi Partnership Supports Regional Terrorist Groups - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 21:51
NYT Admits US/Saudi Partnership Supports Regional Terrorist Groups
by Stephen Lendman
The Times, of course, would never admit Washington unilaterally or partnered with anyone would support ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Its oblique account states “the CIA has relied…for decades (on) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” to help fund its covert operations.
“(A)n unusual arrangement (is maintained) for the rebel (sic) training mission…code-named Timber Sycamore.”
Saudis “contribute weapons and large sums of money…” CIA operatives train ‘rebels’ (aka ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and likeminded groups)” in heavy and light weapons use.
Qatar, the UAE, other Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan and Israel are complicit with Washington’s support for ISIS and other terrorist groups, using their forces as imperial foot soldiers in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere - the ugly story The Times won’t ever explain.
The term “rebel” is code language for US-supported terrorists, cutthroat killers, trained by CIA operatives to commit atrocities, including use of chemical and other banned weapons, mass murdering civilians in cold blood.
“(A) sea of Saudi (and other Gulf States’) money” complicit with naked US-led aggression raped one regional nation after another, transforming the Middle East in a violent, unstable, chaotic region.
Covert, destabilizing CIA operations were supported by Saudi money from their onset, The Times reported without explaining what’s most important - Washington’s intent to transform independent regional states into US vassal ones, notably Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Iran’s turn awaits. Longstanding US plans call for regime change. The nuclear deal changed nothing, including war plans readied to be implemented if ordered.
Billions of dollars of Saudi and other Gulf States’ money aid Washington’s imperial project. In 2014, Joe Biden admitted these nations “poured hundreds of millions of dollars (make it billions) and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad.”
Syria is Obama’s war, launched in March 2011 with no end in sight, upcoming peace talks notwithstanding, likely dead-in-the-water before beginning.
On Thursday, one or more Saudi-backed terrorist groups said they’ll boycott talks unless Russia and Syrian warplanes stop bombing their forces and areas they hold.
Russia’s aerial campaign targets terrorist groups, enabling Syrian ground forces to regain lost territory. So-called “moderate rebels” don’t exist, or are too few in number to matter.
Russia intends continuing its mission until accomplishing its objectives, routing ISIS and other terrorist groups, restoring peace and stability to Syria, letting its people alone decide who lead their sovereign independent secular state, free from outside interference.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Trump Wins Fox News Debate Without Showing Up - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 21:39
Trump Wins Fox News Debate Without Showing Up
by Stephen Lendman
Trump looks unstoppable, the likely Republican presidential nominee, way outdistancing other aspirants in polls consistently.
He withdrew from Thursday’s Fox News debate in Des Moines, Iowa, ahead of Monday’s state caucuses, over animus toward moderator Megyn Kelly, demanding she be replaced - accusing her and Fox of “toy(ing) with me like they toy with everybody else.”
Trump didn’t miss a beat boycotting Thursday’s debate. He won without showing up, maintaining daily publicity by holding his own solo act in Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium. 
Around 700 supporters showed up. Millions watched on cable TV. The event saluted veterans, featuring theater without substance - the standard formula for all US political “debates.” Why anyone wastes time watching them, they’ll have to explain.
Rival candidates on Fox News beat up on each other without Trump’s help. Closest rival Ted Cruz took a beating, responding to questions with evasive answers. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others fared no better, unimpressive like earlier.
Republican and Democrat presidential aspirants look more like an FBI most wanted list than legitimate candidates.
They represent big money-controlled duopoly power, dirty business as usual. Don’t let their deceptive rhetoric and phony promises fool you. They’re all cut out of the same cloth.
The late Gore Vidal explained, saying by the time a politician “gets to be presidential material,” he or she has “been bought ten times over.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

US/Turkey Planning ISIS Attacks on Russia? - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 21:24
US/Turkey Planning ISIS Attacks on Russia?
by Stephen Lendman
Washington wants Russia marginalized, weakened, destabilized, contained and isolated, its sovereign independence destroyed, transformed into another US vassal state.
It wants control over its vast resources, plundered for profit, its people exploited as serfs, its huge land mass balkanized for easier control.
Its policies risk direct confrontation, a possible unthinkable war between the world’s leading nuclear powers, their arsenals able to end life on earth.
On Friday, RT International quoted Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee spokesman Andrey Przhezdomsky, saying:
“Russian special services have intelligence that certain IS groups are preparing terrorist attacks in Russia and European nations.”
“In particular, a battalion formed mainly from recruits from North Caucasus headed by Akhmed Chetayev, nicknamed One-Handed.”
Reportedly it includes dozens of Russian nationals, returning home after fighting with ISIS in Syria.
Russian border guards and special services aim to stem their flow through Turkey, aided by Erdogan’s regime - complicit with Washington and other rogue partners.
According to Przhezdomsky, hundreds of ISIS fighters were interdicted, scores arrested before they could join their ranks.
Twenty-two US-supported recruiters were caught. So far, terrorist attacks were averted. “Just recently, a group of hardcore militants arrived from Syria, planning to hit” a major Russian city, Przhezdomsky explained.
RT said “(t)he group entered Russia legally, found a safe house and purchased parts for making improvised explosive devices, unaware that they were being followed by Russian agents.”
“They were arrested and are awaiting trial,” Przhezdomsky said. He believes ISIS’ strength passed its peak, but remains a serious threat.
He explained “a well-developed system for trafficking IS recruits into Syria. The main route goes through Istanbul.”
“People fill in a form, write their bio, their identity is checked, their mobile phones hacked. If any suspicion comes out of it, the recruit is taken into solitary confinement and awaits punishment. Usually in the form of being shot to death.” 
Washington is waging war on Russia without declaring it, a lunatic scheme risking mass annihilation.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Medium's Sitewide Encryption Confronts Censorship in Malaysia - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 07:44

Blogging platform Medium is now blocked in Malaysia, apparently in an effort to censor an investigative news outlet critical of the government. The Sarawak Report has mirrored its articles on Medium at least since its own site was blocked in mid-2015, when it published allegations of corruption.

Medium's legal team has done an admirable job keeping the relevant post online in the face of government demands. It's published an account saying the company "stand[s] by investigative journalists" and that the post will stay up until it "receive[s] an order from a court of competent jurisdiction." But this story also demonstrates the censorship-resistant properties of online encryption like HTTPS, which Medium has enabled across its entire site.

That's because HTTPS conceals information both about what particular page readers are viewing, as well as the contents of that page, from people snooping on their connection. That's important, because unencrypted connections can face a wide range of eavesdroppers, all the way from other people sitting in the same coffee shop, to members of the same household, to employers providing a computer at work, to Internet service providers, to governments—anybody who can insert themselves between you and the website you're trying to visit.

With an encrypted connection, those eavesdroppers get only the domain of the site—in this case,—not which particular blogger or article you're reading. That makes for more privacy, in that particular reading habits are not as easily surveilled and analyzed.

Of course, the eavesdroppers also can't read the contents of the pages. In the case of news sites, like the Sarawak Report, that might seem like a moot point. After all, unlike private messages, the contents of the articles are visible for anyone who looks through the site. But taken together, these two properties mean that the government can't analyze individual pages in transit for keywords to trigger blocks.

As a result, governments seeking to block individual pages are forced to make much more conspicuous and disruptive moves against entire domains. On numerous occasions, we've seen those governments back away from wholesale censorship where granular censorship was not an option—in China, it was GitHub; in Iran, it was Google Reader (serving as a proxy for general news sites); and last summer in Russia, it was Wikipedia.

So it's important that sites turn on HTTPS by default. And some—though still far too few—have begun to do so. The Washington Post has started across some sections of its site. The New York Times made an impassioned call for news outlets to implement it by the end of 2015, but still hasn't made the transition. Sites like Techdirt, The Intercept, and EFF's own Deeplinks have long been HTTPS-only. The Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helps develop and fund tools to protect press freedom and reader privacy, has encouraged more news sites to follow suit.

Medium and the Sarawak Report have made a good choice in using infrastructure that is harder for would-be censors to subvert. For people affected by this local block, we recommend reading up on tools like Tor, which can be used to circumvent censorship and anonymize your traffic.

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Why Are Universities Fighting Open Education? - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 04:31
A Tired Argument Over Software Patents Is Holding Up Common-Sense Reforms

In December, over 3,000 of you rallied in support in support of a proposed Department of Education (ED) policy that would make ED-funded educational resources a lot more accessible to educators and students around the world.

You weren’t the only ones: the Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, the Software Freedom Conservancy, and numerous other pro-user groups spoke up. Together, we all sent a loud message: Team Internet is on the side of open education.

Browsing through all 147 comments, a pattern quickly emerges. Open web advocates, open education groups, and many education professionals all support the idea of ED-funded resources being shared widely under open licenses (though we might quibble on a few specific details). One group kept confusing us, though: universities. Why were some universities opposing a rule that would directly benefit their students and faculty?

When you dig a bit deeper, it looks like universities’ opposition to open licensing has nothing to do with students’ access to educational resources. What’s really playing out is a longstanding fight over how universities use patents—more specifically, software patents. Open education just happens to be caught in the crossfire.

Open Licensing Mandates Make Sense

Under ED’s proposed policy, those who receive grants from ED would be required to share the educational resources they create under an open license. If ED funds your work, you must share it under a license that allows anyone to use, edit, and redistribute it. The proposal doesn’t name a specific license, but the wording is clearly referring to the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), which most people consider the standard for open educational resources. For software, the license would also have to let people access and modify the source code.

The proposal is a huge step in the right direction. The Executive Branch funds billions of dollars’ worth of copyrighted content through various departmental grant programs. Those grants are intended to benefit the public, but most of the public rarely even sees the results, let alone uses them. We’d love to see the proposed policy become a model for similar rules at other government agencies or even an across-the-board federal mandate.

The proposed policy also doesn’t disadvantage grantees as much you might think. In the notice, the Department of Education pointed out that relatively few grantees sell or license their grant-funded materials to third parties. It could even give an additional benefit to the grantees that do sell their educational materials: the rule change would provide them with a selection of openly licensed educational works to supplement their own (the majority of which aren’t commercially available elsewhere).

The Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public Land-grant Universities, the Association of University Technology Managers, and the Council on Governmental Relations published a statement in opposition to the rule change, and a handful of schools have recycled their talking points.

As Lindsey Tepe points out in Forbes, the comments reflect a divide within colleges. Many universities’ leadership opposes the rule change, but university research libraries almost unanimously support it. It makes us wonder whether schools are getting advice from the right people on campus.

Software Patents Ruin Everything

The AAU statement questions “whether the Department has the legal authority under 35 USC 212 to issue a requirement to openly license all computer software source code developed with grant funds.” This is a reference to a law enacted in 1980, commonly known as the Bayh-Dole Act. Before Bayh-Dole, universities couldn’t apply for patents for inventions created using federal funding; instead, the government itself was responsible for patenting federally funded inventions [.pdf]; when it did so, it would only let others use them under nonexclusive licenses.

After Bayh-Dole, a whole industry of university tech transfer offices began to appear. Each tech transfer program has its own policies—some are more flexible and friendly to the inventors’ wishes than others—but they all ostensibly exist to sell or license faculty inventions to third parties. Some of them also assert their patents directly, as the University of Wisconsin-Madison did in its recent suit against Apple.

It’s important to note here that the ED proposal doesn’t touch patents at all. Since the proposal covers software, it’s possible that grantees might want to apply for patents for a few of the works covered under the policy. But there’s nothing in the proposal to stop them from doing that: not every open source license that would comply with the policy requires that creators give up patent assertion rights.

It’s not surprising—though it is disappointing—to see lobbying organizations representing tech transfer opposing open education policies. Those same organizations have been familiar names in the patent debate for a long time, working against reforms that would limit patent owners’ ability to bring frivolous lawsuits against innovators.

In essence, their stance has been that any reform that makes patent litigation less lucrative for plaintiffs will also curb universities’ ability to monetize their patents. They don’t say this, but history would suggest that they’re interested in protecting the value of software patents for whoever the highest bidder is, even if that’s an unsavory entity.

Though universities tout technology transfer as a way to fund further education and research, the reality is that the majority of tech transfer offices lose money for their schools. At most universities, the tech transfer office locks up knowledge and innovation, further expands the administration (in a sector that has seen massive growth in administrative jobs while academic hiring remains flat), and then loses money.

Here’s the underlying problem: again and again, university tech transfer offices want to have it both ways. They insist that their directive isn’t to make money; it’s to use the market to bring their inventions to the world quickly and at scale. But they—or the lobbyists representing them—oppose the very reforms that would stimulate innovation, not slow it down. These reforms are aimed squarely at patent trolls, companies that exist for no other purpose than to amass patents and use them to demand money from innovators. University opposition is particularly frustrating given that it is purportedly on behalf of offices that are a net loss for most schools.

Does Your School Speak for You?

Let’s return to the Department of Education policy. We don’t think that a challenge to it under Bayh-Dole would be successful. The proposed rule doesn’t take away any of schools’ current rights under the law.

There is a potential risk that grantees could patent an ED-funded piece of software, share it under an open license, and then assert the patent against licensees, essentially creating a trap for licensees. ED could help solve that problem by requiring that the university include a disclosure of any relevant patents alongside the license.

Realistically, though, we’re talking about very rare cases here. The vast majority of works that ED funds aren’t (and shouldn’t be) patentable. It’s frustrating that software patents are the issue that’s holding up a common-sense policy change.

On the other hand, this argument will continue to come up every time we talk about open licensing mandates for publicly funded works—including, hopefully, ones in departments that fund a lot more tech than ED does. Let’s get it right this time.

The public should be free to use publicly funded works without copyright, software patents, or any other entanglements getting in the way. A strong open licensing policy at ED—without any sort of carveout for software—will set the right standard for future Executive Branch licensing mandates.

When schools consistently oppose policies that stimulate open access and innovation—and when the drivers of that opposition contribute very little to those schools’ academic lives or financial sustainability—students and faculty should start asking why.

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Media War on Trump - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 03:35
Media War on Trump
by Stephen Lendman
His super-wealth, demagogic style, outlandish views, support for wealth and power, and likely business as usual agenda if elected president aside, Trump so far masterfully outwitted, outmaneuvered, and outfoxed other presidential aspirants, besting professional politicians, beating them at their own dirty game.
He’s no flash-in-the-pan. He proved he’s a force to reckoned with. Polls show he’s way ahead of Republican rivals, appearing unstoppable, party bosses and media scoundrels frantic to derail his campaign, their efforts futile so far.
He appeals to voters against politics they deplore, business as usual campaigning and governance, promising change, delivering betrayal, ignoring popular needs - even though don’t expect him to change things if elected.
He didn’t become super-rich by being a nice guy. People needs aren't his concern. US policy won’t change with him in charge - notably its permanent war agenda, corporate favoritism, scorn for social justice, and intolerance of efforts to change things.
Efforts to dent his impregnability don’t quit. Media scoundrels relentlessly attack him. Last month, New York Times editors accused him of “br(inging) his party and its politics to the brink of fascism” - ignoring police state rule under Bush and Obama, state-sponsored ruthlessness, waging war on humanity at home and abroad.
Trump’s candidacy caused “serious damage…to the country, to its reputation overseas,” Times editors absurdly claimed.
“The time to renounce (his) views was the day he entered the race,” they added - mindless of an array of deplorable Republican and Democrat aspirants all supporting endless wars, Israeli barbarism, corporate favoritism and harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers.
In late November, Washington Post editors urged Republicans “to stand up to Trump’s (so-called) Bullying,” saying:
“The growing ugliness of (his) campaign poses a challenge to us all. We have seen the likes of him before…spreading lies, appealing to fears and stoking hatred.”
“Such people are dangerous.” Post editors like their Times counterparts ignored longstanding bipartisan US wars on humanity - raping one country after another, turning US streets into battleground in Black and Latino communities, serving wealth and power interests exclusively.
Trump “lack(s) the qualifications, experience or knowledge to be president,” WaPo editors blustered.
Bush I’s presidency was W’s only qualification, achieving at best a gentleman C average overall academically at Yale and Harvard, often skipping classes.
Obama was chosen solely as a front man for imperial adventurism, as well as Wall Street and other corporate interests at the expense of ordinary Americans who elected him.
His only qualification was and remains following the agenda assigned him, causing more harm to more people than his predecessors.
“Republican leaders should speak up” against Trump, WaPo editors ranted. “The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to him.”
The American way involves endless global “bully(ing)” to achieve unchallenged worldwide dominance - an agenda WaPo editors wholeheartedly endorse without admitting it.
Last November, Wall Street Journal editors violated Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment about “not speak(ing) ill of any fellow Republican.”
They quoted Trump, calling himself “a free trader,” then blasted his criticism of the nightmarish Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), calling it a “terrible (trade) deal.”  
Journal editors claim he doesn’t understand what’s in it, mischaracterizing TPP as a new “standard for trade under freer Western rules.”
TPP is a hugely one-sided corporate giveaway, nightmarishly anti-consumer, anti-labor, anti-environmental sanity. The full text revealed last November showed it’s worse than most critics feared.
Trump’s opposition has nothing to do with it’s handing business interests a huge bonanza. He expressed concern over its failure to deal with alleged Chinese currency manipulation, even though he knows Beijing isn’t part of the deal.
On January 21, the right-wing National Review published an anti-Trump issue - an effort to derail his campaign, featuring almost two dozen neocons and other hardliners bashing his candidacy.
Editor Rick Lowry is a notorious right-wing extremist. Contributors to his anti-Trump diatribe included Glenn Beck, Cruz supporter Brent Bozell, hawkish columnist Mona Charen, neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder William Kristol, Fox News favorite Dana Loesch, hard-right Club for Growth president David McIntosh, former Reagan attorney general Edwin Meese, former GW Bush attorney general Michael Mukasey, and notorious right-wing extremist John Podhoretz, among others.
Campaign season is in full swing, the Iowa caucus scheduled for February 1, followed by New Hampshire’s primary on February 9. 
Regardless of individual contest outcomes, Trump’s lead looks insurmountable. He’s proved skillful in maintaining it, despite continued media flack targeting him.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Gloom and Doom - Fri, 29/01/2016 - 03:19
Gloom and Doom
by Stephen Lendman
Sharply lower global equity markets since last August reflect years of Fed-led central banks’ money printing madness, running headlong into economic contraction and instability.
China when thriving is a key engine of world economic growth, a depressant when declining. Official numbers conceal how much, at best a small fraction of its earlier annual double-digit increases.
Its plunging equity markets are flashing red on near-and-perhaps longer-term growth prospects. 
Noted Gloom, Boom & Doom editor Marc Faber sees grim prospects ahead, saying “I can’t see another bull market in my lifetime.” He’s 69-years-old.
Former PIMCO CEO, current Allianz Capital Partners chief economic advisor Mohanmed El-Arian believes markets are in full-scale contagion, central banks out of ammunition to revive things.
Noted hedge fund investor Ray Dalio says the debt super-cycle of the last 50 -75 years is ending - along with the short-term one usually lasting 8 - 10 years.
In Davos at the World Economic Forum, George Soros said “China has a major adjustment problem. I would say it amounts to a crisis.”
“When I look at the financial markets, there is a serious challenge which reminds of the crisis we had in 2008.”
Low oil prices reflect weak demand and oversupply. On Thursday, crude prices surged, following a rumor about OPEC considering a possible 5% production cut.
Some member states aren’t aware of a meeting to discuss it. Saudi Arabia has been hardline on maintaining current levels.
Mixed reports about Russia surfaced. Tass reported its Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s readiness to cooperate with OPEC in discussing a possible production cut, saying:
“Currently the OPEC member-states are trying to convene a meeting with participation of other OPEC (member-states) and non-(member-states) in February.” 
“Certain countries have come forward with this initiative. Currently the issue is being worked out with the countries. On our part, we’ve confirmed our potential participation in such a meeting.”
“There's been an invitation to meet at the ministerial level. In fact, there is no final agreement yet.” 
“It will be held at the ministerial level if all ministers confirm (their participation), and in case they don’t, (the meeting will be held) at the level of experts.”
When last discussed, discussion focused on all oil-producing countries cutting output by 5%. The idea was rejected.
An unnamed senior Russian official said “(t)here are not any measures on possibly cutting production being discussed now.”
A second unnamed senior Russian source said it’s “impossible to coordinate the process and stop production in Russia.”
Moscow holds regular discussions with other oil-producing countries. On Wednesday, a Kremlin source said no plans for coordinated cuts exist as of now.
Last week at the Davos World Economic Forum, Saudi state-owned Aramco chairman Khalid al-Falih said plans are to maintain current productions levels. He expects higher prices later this year.
OPEC members and non-members are divided. Some want production cut. Others fear losing market share. 
Most need all the revenue they can get by continuing output at current levels - because of low prices and economic weakness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama: Serial Killer - Thu, 28/01/2016 - 22:47
Obama: Serial Killer
by Stephen Lendman
On Wednesday, a banner was displayed on the top floor of a building across from Washington’s Moscow embassy - the word “KILLER” prominently displayed on Obama’s image in blood red.
The previous evening, a laser display projected the accusation “Obama Killer #1” on the embassy itself. Moscow-based Glavplakat art society took credit, calling its action a response to Washington’s “plans to invade the territory of yet another sovereign state.”
“The word ‘killer’ defines the 44th US president, and is given to him because of his decision to send the infamous 101st Airborne Division into the Syrian conflict,” it said. 
“Let’s keep in mind that this division (notoriously called “The Screaming Eagles”) carried out practically every US military invasion in the last decade.”
Ahead of peace talks beginning in Geneva on Friday, Sergey Lavrov said “there will be no business as usual between Russia and the West.”
Obama’s sordid record in office exceeds the worst of his predecessors, including endless wars of aggression.
He terror-bombed or remains complicit in naked aggression against seven countries. 
They include Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak), Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen - along with orchestrating US-installed putschists’ war on its own Donbass people, Israel’s slow-motion genocide against Palestinians, and US special forces operating overtly and covertly in over two-thirds of  world nations, destabilizing them.
Like his predecessors, Obama is addicted to endless wars of aggression, raping one country after another, responsible for millions of deaths, the severest refugee crisis since WW II, and unspeakable human misery.
Advancing America’s imperium matters most, fundamental rule of law principles discarded, democratic values ignored.
America is a pariah state, the world’s most hated and feared country, wanting unchallenged world dominance, willing to risk destroying planet earth to own it. 
Its nuclear arsenal is humanity’s greatest threat, on hair-trigger alert. Never before in world history has one nation threatened humanity’s survival like America.
Lunatics in charge risk the unthinkable. All US wars are illegal, violating international, constitutional and US statute laws. 
Reports indicate Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fast-tracking a measure introduced by lunatic fringe Republican Senator Lindsey Graham - authorizing unlimited war, supporting Obama’s intention to keep waging them, likely against new targeted nations.
The measure places no restrictions on naked aggression, deployments of US combat troops anywhere at Obama’s discretion.
McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart said the new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) won’t “tie the president’s hands.”
It’s a prescription for possible global war - all sovereign independent nations vulnerable, targeted by Washington for regime change, wanting them transformed into US vassal states, perhaps willing to wage nuclear war to achieve its objectives - risking ending life on earth.
Today’s thermonuclear weapons are a 1,000 times more powerful than ones used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Large cities and surrounding areas can be turned to smoldering rubble, countless millions incinerated.
Lunatics run the Washington asylum, a bipartisan criminal class, Obama their nominal head.
Militarism is a national addiction. The business of America is war - multiple ones, endless ones, an ideologically over-the-top agenda able to kill us all.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Europe Waging War on Refugees and Asylum Seekers - Thu, 28/01/2016 - 22:38
Europe Waging War on Refugees and Asylum Seekers
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article said calling them “migrants” irresponsibly denigrates their humanity, mocks their suffering and need for help.
They’re desperate people, fleeing countries ravaged by US-led aggression, seeking safe havens to stay alive. 
Most are Muslims, easy targets for vilification. Islamophobia rages across Europe and America, people threatening no one demonized for their faith and ethnicity, used as pretexts for US-led wars of aggression.
EU countries increasingly consider them unwanted intruders, enemies, fifth column threats, treating them deplorably. 
Denmark intends confiscating their valuables. Switzerland seized assets from scores of arrivals last year. Southern German states implemented similar measures - racist, criminal persecution.
On Wednesday, Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said up to 80,000 refugees will be deported, sent back to their home countries or perhaps elsewhere. 
Desperate people are irresponsibly blamed for violent incidents they either had nothing to do with, reflect a few bad apples among hundreds of thousands of decent people seeking help to stay alive, or maybe state-sponsored incidents were staged to vilify them.
Refugees in other European countries are being demonized the same way to stem their flow, close state borders, erect razor-wire fences, and in the case of Sweden, expel large numbers. 
Maybe other EU countries plan the same thing. Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Kenneth Roth blasted what he called “(b)latant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees…(revealing) assertive politics of intolerance” when desperate people most need help.
“To a large extent, Europe’s preoccupation with the new refugees as a possible terrorist threat is a dangerous distraction from its own (over-hyped, exaggerated) homegrown violent extremism…” 
They’re pretexts for enacting police state laws, abolishing fundamental freedoms, substituting tyranny for democratic rights, along with irresponsibly blaming desperate people for conditions they had nothing to do with.
They’re victims of US-led imperial lawlessness, endless wars of aggression, merciless ones, civilians most affected. 
Muslim countries are prime targets, EU nations complicit with Washington’s high crimes - blaming victims for the fallout of imperial aggression.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Shaky Run-Up to Syrian Peace Talks - Thu, 28/01/2016 - 21:57
Shaky Run-up to Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Talks are scheduled to begin Friday at Geneva’s Palais des Nations. It’s still unclear precisely who’s coming - what parties and individuals got invitations, which ones accepted or rejected them.
From what’s known so far, US/UK/Saudi-backed terrorist groups were invited - a bloc known as the Higher Negotiating Committee, including ISIS-equivalent Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam).
It’s committed to Syria’s destruction, mass slaughter of Shiites and Alawites - former leader Zahran Alloush (killed by Syrian airstrikes) earlier saying “(o)ur nation has a great thirst for an Islamic state.”
He and his followers reject democracy, international law, and pluralistic governance. Not yet named similar terrorist groups were invited. Anti-Assad moderates don’t exist.
Media reports indicated Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will attend, along with UN envoy Bashar al-Jafari as government moderator.
Syrian political defector Riyad Hijab heads the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiating Committee. Syrian army defector Asaad al-Zoubi heads other opposition groups - both men committed to Assad’s removal by any means.
Arab media indicated de Mistura invited 15 delegates from each side. Various other groups and individuals got invitations.
The PYD (Democratic Union Party) was excluded, Syria’s largest Kurdish group, despite the importance of its inclusion. Turkey demanded its exclusion, falsely calling it a terrorist organization, part of its longstanding war on Kurds, currently raging.
PYD fighters are some of the most effective in combating ISIS and other terrorist groups. Excluding the group denigrates its commitment against a common scourge.
Veteran Syrian opposition figure Haitham Manna said he’ll boycott talks without the PYD’s inclusion. The Swiss government invited its leader Saleh Muslim to serve as an advisor to the talks - meaningless if he’s excluded from proceedings.
Months of proximity talks are planned. Opposing sides won’t meet face-to-face. Anti-Assad, Western-controlled UN negotiators will mediate proceedings, biased before beginning.
On the eve of talks, bickering on who should or shouldn’t attend continues, some groups (including Saudi-backed ones) threatening to boycott proceedings if their conditions aren’t met.
Talks are supposed to take place with no pre-conditions, beyond what Security Council Res. 2254 stipulates:
  • initiating a political process toward establishing “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months by Syrians alone, free from outside interference;

  • drafting a new constitution, likely largely replicating the current one, overwhelmingly approved by national referendum in February 2012; and

  • holding new elections in 18 months.

Assad is overwhelmingly popular, reelected in June 2014 with an 89% majority - a process independent international observers called open, free and fair.
He won’t be removed from office electorally, why Washington and rogue partners plan endless war. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than previous talks.
How can it with US-led opposition to Assad’s rule committed to ousting him militarily. The evidence speaks for itself.
ISIS, Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra weren’t invited to Geneva. They’re US foot soldiers committed to conflict to achieve their objectives - with full support and encouragement from Washington, including Pentagon warplanes bombing infrastructure and government targets, as well as increasing numbers of US combat troops heading for northern Syria.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner lied, saying:
“We believe (opposition elements) should seize this opportunity to test the regime's willingness and intentions and expose before the entire world which parties are serious about a potential peaceful political transition in Syria and which are not.” 
He failed to explain Washington intends endless war, attempting to oust Assad militarily, so far Russia’s aerial campaign defeating its imperial objectives.
On Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov warned about talks threatened by “irrelevant conditions,” ignoring the need for unity against terrorism.
He defended Russia’s aerial campaign, saying it’s “clear who is fighting the terrorists, who are acting as their accomplices, and who are trying to use them for their unilateral, selfish goals” - indicating Washington, Britain, France, Gulf States and complicit allies without naming them.
Lavrov fears unacceptable opposition-imposed conditions may doom talks, maybe before beginning.
It bears repeating. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than earlier talks. Washington’s imperial agenda likely dooms them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

25 Civil Liberties Organizations Call for Open Hearings on Section 702 Surveillance - Thu, 28/01/2016 - 08:16

The House Judiciary Committee has plans for a “members only” meeting next week to discuss Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Acts, the law the NSA relies on to operate its notorious PRISM surveillance program and to tap into the backbone of the Internet, also known as “upstream” collection.

While we wish that “members only” meant that Congressional watchdogs would all don vintage jackets from the 1980s while reining in the NSA, the sad truth is that our elected representatives are once again cutting out the public from an important debate over mass surveillance.

Today, EFF joined two dozen civil liberties, human rights, and transparency organizations in sending a letter to House Judiciary Leaders demanding that they open the hearing, at least in part, to the public.

Here’s the text of the letter

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers,

The undersigned organizations appreciate the promise you made during the debates on USA Freedom to hold hearings on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We believe that robust congressional oversight of the implementation of this statute, which is used to acquire the communications of Americans and people around the world alike without a warrant, is critical. We were surprised when we recently learned that you may soon hold a hearing in a classified format, outside of public view. Doing so for the entirety of the hearing neither fully satisfies the promise to hold hearings nor permits the public debate that this nation deserves. Rather, it continues the excessive secrecy that has contributed to the surveillance abuses we have seen in recent years and to their adverse effects upon both our civil liberties and economic growth.

All congressional proceedings should be conducted in accordance with this country’s highest principles of transparency and openness. Indeed, no committee should ever hold a classified hearing or briefing, when it can hold all or part of the hearing as an open, unclassified session. The Intelligence, Armed Services, and the Judiciary Committees of both chambers have been able to hold open hearings on matters of national security, deferring only those questions that require classified answers into a closed hearing. This judicious use of closed sessions meets the dual purposes of providing robust oversight and protecting national security.

In the case of Section 702 implementation oversight, a completely closed hearing is unnecessary to provide members with an adequate understanding of how the law is currently implemented by the executive branch and whether that exceeds Congress' original intent.

As you know, when the FISA Amendments Act was written, the deliberations happened largely in open session. Subsequently, executive branch officials have testified about the act in open session on at least six occasions1 since it was written.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has published an unclassified report on the implementation of the statute. The government has itself declassified numerous relevant documents, including legal analyses and judicial interpretations. And, following the Snowden disclosures, the Senate Judiciary Committee held several public hearings on NSA surveillance programs, which included discussion of Section 702.

In today's global communications environment, disclosures of information about how Section 702 operates have confirmed the validity of many of the public’s and civil society's concerns that this statute implicates the privacy rights of millions of people in the US and around the world who communicate with friends and colleagues abroad, including human rights activists who rely on secure communications for their safety. The way Section 702 is utilized also affects journalists who interact with confidential sources to report on issues in the public interest, and criminal defendants whose prosecutions may involve the use of evidence derived from intelligence surveillance.

In all of these circumstances and many more, it is up to Congress to ensure that the Administration is not violating the rule of law and the rights we all hold dear.

We urge you to change the designation of your upcoming session on Section 702 to “open,” consistent with Congress's constitutional oversight role, long standing congressional practice, and principles of transparency and justice. To the extent that the committee goes forward with the closed hearing, we urge you to fulfill your prior commitment by promptly holding public hearings, which include representation and engagement of privacy, civil liberties, and human rights organizations. 



Access Now

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Amnesty International USA

Brennan Center for Justice

Californians Aware

Center for Democracy &Technology

Constitutional Alliance

The Constitution Project

Cyber Privacy Project

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Essential Information

Fight for the Future

Free Press Action Fund

Government Accountability Project

Human Rights Watch

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Security Archive

New America’s Open Technology Institute

Niskanen Center

Project On Government Oversight

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Restore The Fourth

R Street Institute

For more on Section 702, check out how the government uses Section 702 for mass surveillance.

Related Cases: Jewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Data Privacy Day: Take Charge of Your Family’s Privacy - Thu, 28/01/2016 - 04:55

Thursday, January 28, is Data Privacy Day—a day dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of privacy and data protection around the globe. It commemorates the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. And it’s a great day to take charge of not only your own privacy, but also the privacy of any school children in your life.

We recently launched Spying on Students—an online resource dedicated to helping students, parents, teachers, and school administrators learn more about the privacy issues surrounding school-issued devices and cloud services. The website—part of our new campaign to promote student privacy—provides useful guides for adjusting privacy settings on mobile devices. It also answers common questions about the legal and technological landscape regarding student privacy and offers suggestions on how you can connect with other concerned parents.

As we reported last week, our student privacy campaign—including the complaint we filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Google’s unauthorized collection of personal information from school children via Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education (GAFE)—caught the attention of Senator Al Franken, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. He responded by writing a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking for information about GAFE’s privacy practices.

But for our student privacy campaign to succeed, we need the support of parents. On this Data Privacy Day, take the time to check out the resources we’ve compiled and regain control of your children’s privacy. And spread the word about student privacy by sharing our resources with other parents.

It’s critical that parents understand their, and their children’s, rights—especially in a world where parents may be asked by schools to waive those rights before their youngsters are permitted to use technology in the classroom. We’ve even seen third parties encourage parents to give schools consent to release their children’s information to those very third parties. Recently, in Utah, the United Way of Salt Lake City partnered with other local organizations on a campaign to do just that—i.e., encourage parents to sign forms consenting to the disclosure of student information to outside organizations. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires school to get such parental consent before disclosing student information to third parties. But before signing such a form, parents should know exactly what they are agreeing to, consider all their options, and make informed choices. Ads like the United Way’s—which direct parents to simply sign any consent forms that a school might send home and which are sponsored by third parties rather than the school—inappropriately discourage parents from seeking all the information they need.  

As part of our student privacy campaign, we also launched a nationwide survey to collect information from parents and other concerned individuals regarding the practices and disclosure policies of K-12 schools. We’ve heard from hundreds of parents, but we still need help to collect even more useful information about what’s happening on the ground in schools across the country. Join the fight to protect student privacy by filling out our survey today.

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Categories: Aggregated News



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