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An NSA "Reform Bill" of the Intelligence Community, Written by the Intelligence Community, and for the Intelligence Community - Thu, 03/04/2014 - 02:39

Representatives Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced HR 4291, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (.pdf), to end the collection of all Americans' calling records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Both have vehemently defended the program since June, and it's reassuring to see two of the strongest proponents of NSA's actions agreeing with privacy advocates' (and the larger public's) demands to end the program. The bill only needs 17 lines to stop the calling records program, but it weighs in at more than 40 pages. Why? Because the “reform” bill tries to create an entirely new government "authority" to collect other electronic data.

Collecting All Americans' Calling Records Is So 2012

The bill only ends the government collection of all Americans' calling records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act—a good, albeit very small, first step. It also tries to prohibit the mass collection of other records like firearm sales and tax records. Unfortunately, it may still allow the government to argue for such collection as long as the NSA uses a "specific identifier or selection term." In short: the government may still try to search these records, and potentially other records. The bill leaves almost all of Section 215 as-is; the sole fix being that the section would no longer apply to calling records. The bill also stays mum on the NSA's ability to mass spy on financial records, credit card records, or other purchasing records using Section 215.

Collecting All Americans' Internet Records Is the Future

The next twenty pages of the bill create a process where the government sends orders directed at electronic communication service providers for the collection of "records created as a result of communications of an individual or facility."

The words simply switch out one form of unconstitutional mass collection for another. And this latter version is even scarier than the mass collection of Americans' calling records. A "facility" could include an entire Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Comcast, or company like "Google." And the bill's use of "electronic communication" doesn't use the definition found in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but the one found in criminal law, which includes any transfer of data like uploaded documents to the cloud, calendar entries, or address book entries. Under the bill, the government might try to argue that the order can collect any type of record created as the result of any "electronic communication" as long as the communication is of an agent of a foreign power or someone in contact with the agent or foreign power. This is an incredibly broad standard.

What's worse is that the order doesn't need prior judicial approval of who is targeted, where the information is supposed to be collected, and why the government is searching for the information. The new order could collect the content of the communication or US personal information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, names, or addresses. That's because the order must only be "reasonably designed" to not acquire such information. There is no mandate in the bill banning such collection or deleting such information upon collection.

The new order' has "civil liberties and privacy protection procedures," written by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. But don't let the name fool you. The procedures only have to "reasonably limit" the collection, retention, or searching of records not useful for foreign intelligence information. It's too bad that "foreign intelligence information" is essentially defined in FISA to mean "everything." The procedures are reviewed every year by the FISA Court, and once accepted, the government sends out orders to companies for records without any additional judicial approval.

The above procedures to minimize certain information ("minimization procedures") take after ones found in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, which is used to unconstitutionally mass collect innocent users' phone calls and emails. Unfortunately, the procedures in Section 702 fail at even nominally protecting innocent users communications. Section 702 requires the procedures to be "reasonably designed" to exclude wholly domestic American communications. Despite the fact that the FISA Court found the NSA collecting tens of thousands of such emails, the Court thought NSA's targeting procedures were still "reasonable." We also know that the procedures fail time after time and are designed to retain and search the very communications the NSA isn't supposed to be retaining and searching. Both are good reasons to think such procedures won't work for the bill's newly devised order. We won't even know how much they fail (or succeed) because the procedures are filed in secret and stamped classified. Keeping the law secret worked out well in the past, so it should work out well in the future, right?

The bill is what's expected from the House Intelligence Committee. The committee was created to oversee the intelligence community, but it has been coopted for quite some time. Though it stops the mass collection of all Americans' calling records, the bill's creation of a new order to conduct unconstitutional mass spying on any record created by a communication is disturbing. And it's a bill that will surely fail to pass Congress when real reform bills that would stop all uses of Section 215 to conduct mass spying, like the USA Freedom Act, are already on the table. Tell Congress now to support NSA reform that will stop every government use of Section 215 to mass spy on innocent users.

Related Issues: National Security LettersNSA SpyingSecurity
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NATO Plans Global Dominance - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 17:36
NATO Plans Global Dominance
by Stephen Lendman
NATO was established in April 1949. It's a US imperial tool. It's been this way from inception. Washington provides the lion's share of funding. It's around 75%.
Claiming a NATO "political and military alliance for peace and security" doesn't wash. It never did. It's polar opposite truth. NATO's mission is offense, not defense. 
Post-WW II, the Russians weren't coming. War devastated their country. It took years to recover. Cold War hysteria was contrived. It stoked fear. 
It launched an arms race. War profiteers benefitted hugely. Napoleon once said: "Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest." 
Robert Griffiths is UK Communist Party general secretary. In 2010, he called NATO a "global military and reconnaissance infrastructure…created to support US, British and western European big business interests, especially energy, financial and armaments monopolies."
What began "as a cold war provocation against a non-existent Soviet threat (now) invent(s) or exaggerat(es) threats from so-called failed or rogue states, Islamic fundamentalism and cyber-terrorism."
NATO's original 12 members included America, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Portugal and Iceland. 
Four new members were added before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. They included Greece and Turkey (1952), West Germany (1955), and Spain (1982).
NATO currently includes 28 member nations, 22 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) ones, seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries, and four Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) states.
They comprise nearly one-third of world nations. NATO plans exponential expansion. It wants new members and partners on all continents. It wants them virtually everywhere.
It's Washington-led. It's a global killing machine. It wants all adversaries and potential ones eliminated. It wants unchallenged world dominance. 
April 4, 2009 was NATO's 60th anniversary. Peace groups, global justice movements, trade unions, students, and others met in Strasbourg, France.
They rallied under the slogan "No to War - No to NATO." They called NATO an obstacle to world peace. They issued a public statement, saying:
NATO "is a vehicle for US-led use of force with military bases on all continents, bypassing the United Nations and the system of international law, accelerating militarization and escalating arms expenditures."
"To achieve our vision of a peaceful world, we reject military responses to global and regional crises. We refuse to live under the terror of nuclear weapons, and reject a new arms race."
World security depends on peaceful cooperation and coexistence. NATO dominance prevents it.
Bogus threats justify the unjustifiable. Enemies are invented when none exist. They're pretexts for aggressive wars. 
They follow one after another. Multiple ones continue at same time. New nations await targeting.
A permanent state of war exists. World peace is threatened. Bosnia 1995 was NATO's first war of aggression. In 1999, raping Yugoslavia followed. So did war on humanity through today.
Most world nations are allied militarily with America and its NATO allies. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) alone includes 53 nations.
Dozens of countries partner in America's wars. Since 1999, they included air and ground conflicts on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. 
Will more European war follow? Will US-led NATO dare risk it with Russia? Will South America be targeted? Will Venezuela be ground zero? 
Will war on humanity destroy it? Will lunatics making policy risk it? Conditions today are incendiary. World peace was never more threatened. 
Ukrainian geopolitical flashpoint conditions risk global war. Paul Craig Roberts calls it a "final" one. World wars I and II were warmups.
Weapons used then were toys compared to now. Humanity could be annihilated in 24 hours or less. The insanity of potential nuclear war makes the unthinkable possible.
Roberts says we're "again on the road to World War." The "drive (toward it) is blatantly obvious." Big Lies precipitating global conflict are "obvious."
America, rogue NATO partners, other willing governments and media scoundrels are involved. Propaganda wars precede hot ones.
Big Lies repeat with disturbing regularity. Rule of law principles don't matter. World peace is a non-starter. Global conquest is US-led NATO's long sought goal. It's insatiable. It's madness.
Imagine risking planet earth's destruction to control it. NATO plans eastern expansion. 
Obama lied saying contingency plans must be "updated" to assure "we do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable" to Russia.
No threat whatever exists. America and its rogues allies alone threaten world peace. Their agenda goes all-out to prevent it.
Millions of corpses bear witness. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a US imperial stooge. He regurgitates what his US masters tell him.
"I join Barack Obama in considering additional NATO measures: updated defense plans, enhanced exercises, (and) appropriate deployments" closer to Russia's borders, he said.
Military cooperation with Ukraine will be enhanced, he added. On April 1, Reuters headlined "NATO plans support for east Europeans worried about Crimea."
It switched headlines midday to "NATO sees no sign of Russian pullback from Ukraine border."
On April 1 and 2, NATO ministers met in Brussels. They examined "options ranging from stepped-up military exercises and sending more forces to eastern members states, to the permanent basing of alliance forces there…"
Encroaching closer to Russia's border is hugely provocative. Imagine Washington's reaction if Moscow planned deploying its forces along America's northern and/or southern borders.
Imagine if its warships patrolled its east, west, and Gulf of Mexico waters. Imagine if its warplanes patrolled close to its airspace.
Imagine potential war erupting. Imagine it following provocative US-led NATO plans.
Claiming a Russian threat doesn't wash. None whatever exists. Moscow prioritizes peaceful co-existence. America is obsessed with empire building.
A circulating social media graphic shows Western and Eastern Europe infested with NATO bases encroaching on Russia's borders. 
How dare Moscow locate its territory close to NATO military installations, it suggests. 
Putin abhors acquiring territory belligerently. He's polar opposite Obama. He prioritizes peace and stability. 
You'd never know it from how intensively he's bashed. He's an obstacle to unchallenged US global dominance. 
He's the best chance around to prevent it. He deserves praise, not condemnation. 
He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. He deserves what only war criminals get. Obama is Exhibit A.
He claims no intention in intervening militarily in Ukraine. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. His word isn't his bond. 
He represents the worst of rogue leadership. His conspiratorial partners share responsibility. Wrongfully claiming Russia seized Crimean is a rallying cry for war.
Germany is more belligerent than any time since WW II. It's considering sending warplanes to patrol Eastern European airspace.
NATO deployed aircraft doubled in recent weeks. Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Western warships patrolling Black Sea waters provocatively.
Expect NATO forces establishing a permanent Ukrainian presence. Expect fascist putschists supplied destructive weapons and munitions. 
Expect provocative NATO-led war games on Russia's borders. Washington already increased its Eastern Europe air patrols.
Its NATO ambassador Douglas Lute said Kerry would discuss additional measures with Eastern European allies.
"They will talk about…what more can be done to amplify the measures that have been taken already and to sustain them over time so that these measures are not simply short-term gestures," he said. 

Preparing for was takes time. Perhaps plans were drawn to wage what Paul Craig Roberts calls the "final" one. 
A nonexistent Russian threat is being hyped provocatively. America's sordid history is long and disturbing. 
Enemies are invented. They're pretexts for war. Permanent ones reflect official US policy. 
The late Gore Vidal once said "our rulers…made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own."
Historian Harry Elmer Barnes (1889 - 1968) worried about disturbing trends. If they continue, "we shall soon reach this point of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised as noble gestures for peace," he said.
Washington threatens humanity. Hans Morgenthau (1904 - 1980) was a prominent geopolitical observer. Ignore reality and perish, he believed.
He called a third world war inevitable. A "strategic nuclear war," he said. "I do not believe anything can be done to prevent it." 
"The international system is simply too unstable to survive for long." America bears full responsibility. Rogue European, Israeli and other conspiratorial partners share it.
Escalating tensions makes the unthinkable possible. Obama itches for more war. His entire tenure reflects it. He waged multiple and direct ones from day one to now.
They're wars of choice, not necessity. They lawless acts of aggression. They continue out-of-control. He's got lots more targets in mind. Imagine challenging Russia belligerently.
Imagine what no previous US presidents dared. Imagine lunatics doing it for unchallenged power. Imagine the worst of all possible outcomes. Imagine risking mass annihilation.
The road to hell is paved with megalomaniacal ambitions. Whether or not Nero fiddled while Rome burned pales in comparison today's threat.
Incendiary geopolitical global conditions exist. They're worse than any time since WW II. They're real. It bears repeating. At stake is humanity's survival. 
Obama risks destroying it entirely. East/West global war is the surest way to do it. His agenda heads increasingly closer to waging it.
It's hard imagining anything more reckless. Stopping him before it's too late matters most. Humanity's survival depends on it. What greater priority than that.
A Final Comment
On April 1, NATO suspended all military and civilian cooperation with Russia. It did so based on lies relating to Ukraine. A statement said:
"We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia." 
"Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis."
In June, NATO/Russian relations will be reviewed. NATO foreign ministers urged Moscow "to take immediate steps…to return to compliance with international law."
US-led NATO blames lawlessly targeted countries for its crimes. It's "implement(ing) immediate and longer term measures to strengthen Ukraine's ability to provide for its own security."
It's not threatened. It doesn't matter. NATO wants greater encroachment on Russia's border. It wants it provocatively targeted. 
It wants long range nuclear armed missiles targeting its heartland. It wants what no responsible threatened leader would tolerate.
It wants its fascist putschist allies involved in provocative lawlessness. Perhaps a major false flag operation is planned. 
Perhaps it's to goad Russia into belligerent confrontation. Perhaps it's for what Paul Craig Roberts calls "final" war. 
Hegemons operate this way. America exceeds the worst of all earlier ones. Obama heads the world's most ruthless one by far. 
World conquest involves lots more death and destruction he has in mind. It means eliminating all rivals and potential ones. 
It may end up destroying planet earth to own it. Perhaps nothing will be left worth fighting for.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Jonathan Pollard's Imminent Release? - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 17:36
Jonathan Pollard's Imminent Release?
by Stephen Lendman
On Monday, John Kerry traveled to Israel for the 11th time. He did so relating to sham peace talks. Last July they began. No progress whatever was achieved.
Kerry wants Palestinians relinquishing fundamental rights too important to sacrifice. He's Israel's man in Washington.
An April 29 deadline approaches. Kerry wants it extended. He wants more time for bullying and bluster.
He spent Monday in discussions with Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiators. He left Tuesday. He did so to attend day two Brussels NATO ministers talks. 
He'll return on Wednesday for further discussions. Or will he? On Tuesday evening, he said he won't return after PLO officials said they'll apply for membership to 15 world organizations. They include the International Criminal Court.
It's their legal right to do so. Kerry isn't pleased. He wants Palestinians denied all rights. Talks will continue, he said. It's "up to the parties" to make progress, he added.
Speculation grows about an imminent Pollard release. In 1985, he was arrested. He's an American convicted on spying for Israel. 
He's the only person in US history sentenced to life imprisonment for spying on an ally. Customary punishment is 10 years except in cases involving a US agent's death.
Or with regard to "nuclear weaponry…war plans, communications intelligence or cryptographic information." According to a CIA 1987 damage assessment, Pollard wasn't asked to spy on US military activities.
Just collect US information on Arab states, Soviet Russia and Pakistan, especially key weapons systems. 
Israel asked for a signals intelligence manual. They wanted it to monitor Soviet advisers in Syria. 
CIA's assessment said Israelis "never expressed interest in US military activities, plans, capabilities or equipment."
Pollard was voluntarily willing to supply information beyond what his handlers requested. 
He provided over 1,500 daily Middle East and North Africa Summar(ies) (MENAS), Mediterranean Littoral Intelligence Summar(ies) (MELOS), Indian Ocean Littoral Intelligence Summar(ies), plus over 800 over stolen documents on other targets.
CIA's assessment suggested his personal life and professional behavior warranted alerting his superiors about a potential security risk.
Naval intelligence Task Force 168 was involved in HUMINT (human intelligence) collection. During a 1980 assignment with the operation, Pollard made false statements.
Rafi Eitan headed Mossad's operation to kidnap Adolph Eichmann. He was Prime Minister Menachem Begin's terrorism advisor. 
He assumed responsibility for the Pollard affair. He resigned over what happened. He's now aged 87.
In 2006, he said Pollard provided "information of such high quality and accuracy, so good and so important to (Israel's) security (that) my desire, my appetite to get more and more material overcame me."
US officials said documents he collected would have measured 6 x 6 feet wide and 10 feet high.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said "Pollard was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I do not have any update for you on his status.  
Hardline Israeli officials said releasing Palestinian prisoners they want incarcerated is too high a price for his freedom.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said he'd quit Netanyahu's coalition government if they're freed. Combining it with Pollard's release doesn't matter, he stressed.
On April 1, Haaretz headlined "Senior Israeli official: Deal on settlement freeze for Pollard's release nearly sealed." 
Unnamed "senior Israeli officials" said Kerry and Netanyahu sealed "most…details of the deal to extend peace talks," Haaretz reported. 
Palestinians were blackmailed to accept. They were bullied to do so. Disobeying Washington means unspecified consequences. Terms allegedly agreed on include:
  • Palestinians extending talks another year;

  • legitimate UN diplomatic moves they're entitled to pursue won't follow;

  • Washington will release Pollard before Passover begins on April 14;

  • Israel will release 26 more Palestinian prisoners; they'll include 14 Israeli Arab citizens;

  • another 400 close to completing their imprisonments will be freed; choices exclude sick prisoners and significant political ones supporters demand be released;

  • for the next eight months, Israel will freeze most settlement construction, government tenders, and marketing of lands and planning except for East Jerusalem;

Fact check: Settlement expansions continue unabated. It's longstanding Israeli policy. Netanyahu demands it. 
Previous announced freezes were Big Lies. Netanyahu's promises rang hollow. They're no different now. 
His word isn't worth the paper it's written on. He can't be trusted. He's like Obama. He's a serial liar. He says one thing. He does another. Expect no policy change going forward.
"Who is Jonathan Pollard," asked Haaretz? As a student in 1970, he first visited Israel. He came as part of a Weizmann Institute science program.
On September 19, 1979, US Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office's Anti-Terrorism Alert Center hired him as an analyst.
In 1984, Israeli air force veteran Aviam Sella recruited him to spy on America. He was told Washington denies Israel vital national security related information it needs.
On November 21, 1985 he was arrested. It was on suspicion of spying for Israel. In 1987, he was convicted on one espionage charge.
Because his crime occurred before November 1, 1987, he's eligible for parole after 30 years confinement. It's provided good conduct warrants doing so.
Under these terms, he can be freed on November 21, 2015. At his lawyer's request, Israel granted him citizenship in 1995. In 1998, he admitted spying for Israel for the first time.
Many Israelis consider him a national hero. They call his sentence disproportionately harsh. 
He acted out of loyalty to Israel, they say. He meant America no harm. He obtained documents on countries other than his own. Numerous Israeli prime ministers lobbied for his release.
According to US officials, he did more damage to America than people realize. Admiral Thomas Brooks (ret.) claims Edward Snowden alone exceeded it.
He said he obtained information on US collection methods. He claimed an estimated 1.7 million documents dealing with US surveillance capabilities and those of its adversaries.
During Clinton's presidency, then CIA chief George Tenet threatened to resign if he was released.
In 1999, Seymour Hersh said Soviet Russia might have obtained information he sent Israel. Former US naval intelligence officers said the volume he provided alone warranted his longterm incarceration.
To force Palestinian negotiators to accept what no legitimate ones would consider, Washington may be willing to release him.
At stake is getting Netanyahu to agree on sticky issues he can later renege on. 
Note: Hours after he allegedly agreed to freeze most government tenders, Israel issued 708 new residential ones beyond the Green Line. It's on stolen Palestinian land.
Another promise made. Another broken. This one perhaps in record time. In 2013, lawless West Bank settlement starts more than doubled. 
Expect 2014 repeating what happened or exceeding it. Israel rages to steal as much Palestinian land. It wants it as quickly as possible. 
It wants all valued Judea and Samaria territory colonized for Jews only. It wants Palestinians ethnically cleansed. 
It wants them confined to worthless isolated bantustans. Ideally it wants them gone altogether. 
It wants the worst of occupation harshness continued. It wants Jews alone given rights. It wants Muslims ruthlessly persecuted. It wants war, not peace. 
It remains to be seen how Palestinian negotiators react to the latest betrayal. If past is prologue, expect business as usual to continue. Collaborators operate this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Court Orders Government Not to Destroy Evidence in EFF Cases Against the NSA - Wed, 02/04/2014 - 08:55

In an emergency hearing on March 19th, the government tried to convince the Northern District Court of California that the NSA should be relieved of its obligation to preserve evidence of dragnet collection of call records for the EFF's First Unitarian case. The arguments in court revealed an astounding level of obfuscation from government lawyers around the numerous lawsuits challenging NSA spying.

There were a number of issues at the core of the argument. EFF was asking the government to preserve information that it never should have had in the first place. The government was misconstruing (willfully or blindly) our lawsuits against the NSA, and ultimately the government was trying to force a very narrow view of its duty to preserve evidence on the Court.

The government tried to frame the issue as one of resources, arguing that the Court needed to balance preservation of information against “the cost of retaining it, both in terms of financial costs as they are quantified in the papers submitted to the court, as well as the cost in personnel who, the Government argues, would be diverted from their core mission.” Essentially, the government tried to argue that compliance with its legal duty to preserve evidence in a lawsuit would divert too many NSA resources.

To complicate matters, the evidence in question is covered by a FISA Court (FISC) order that all bulk metadata collected pursuant to its Section 215 authorization must be destroyed after five years. In other words, under that order the NSA would only have possession of metadata that dates back to March of 2009 if it weren't for the pending litigation—in fact, as discussed below, there is some indication that evidence may have been destroyed, regardless of the pending litigation.  What's more, the government had applied to FISC for leave to retain the information, which FISC denied.

So why are we here?  The government has insisted that we need to show evidence of each individual being surveilled.  While we believe the case can go forward without each individual’s call detail records, we also can’t allow the government to simultaneously insist the evidence is necessary and destroy that evidence.

The government’s response to these issues has not been reassuring.  The government stepped back from the offer to retain evidence that it made to the FISC. As we pointed out: “what we proposed is what they proposed to the FISC. They proposed just keeping everything, for purposes of the litigation.”

Now the government is fighting against its own proposal. Claiming the burden would be too high, the government said in court that the last five years will be good enough; no need to worry about the first three years of this program.  The Court did not buy the government’s arguments, noting that, hypothetically, the spying program could have changed over the years, and recognizing the “potential risk of destroying older documents.”

This potential risk is very real: we know that the government has claimed surveillance was authorized under a number of different authorities, presidential and FISA, and we know that the government plays word games when it comes to defining the way that it conducts dragnet surveillance.

The hearing also exposed an issue that had been hidden below the surface for years.  The government was misconstruing the arguments in our lawsuits. According to the government: “First Unitarian is about collection of bulk telephony metadata pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Jewel certainly is about -- there's no dispute -- bulk collection of Internet data under Presidential authority.”  This is correct as far as it goes, but the government wants to limit the cases to the particular programs under the government’s own categorization.  The Jewel and First Unitarian cases are about far more: the unlawful and unconstitutional spying on ordinary Americans, regardless of what ‘program’ or supposed legal authority the government uses to justify the spying. 

As this disagreement on the scope of the claims became clear, the Court had some questions for the government: “what I hear you saying is the Government . . . preserved all of the Jewel-related information, i.e., from the so-called ‘TSP’ or ‘Presidential’ program; but it secretly destroyed information related to FISC orders about which the Plaintiffs had no knowledge or no way of knowing. Is that what you're saying?”

The government conceded that, for the Jewel case, it had only preserved evidence about the program during the time it was authorized by the President, but not spying done under FISC orders.  This issue will be briefed and the Court will address it at a later date.

The government does not dispute that the FISC program was implicated by the First Unitarian case. The government has also strenuously denied that it destroyed any evidence since it was on notice of the First Unitarian case. In court, the government unambiguously stated “Since this suit was filed, the NSA has destroyed no telephony metadata collected under Section 215 for purposes of complying with the FISC's five-year retention requirement, or at least, as far as I am aware, for any other reason.”

The government’s statement in court is not the whole story.  A declaration from Theresa Shea, Director of the Signals Intelligence Directorate at the NSA, indicated that “since the inception of the FISC-authorized bulk telephony metadata program in 2006, the FISC's orders . . . require that metadata obtained by the NSA under this authority be destroyed no later than five years after their collection. In 2011, the NSA began compliance with this requirement . . . and continued to comply with it until this Court's March 10 order and the subsequent March 12 order of the FISC.” Director Shea noted that the oldest records currently available were from 2009, which fits with continued destruction into 2014.

These two statements from the government are inconsistent, and leave open the disturbing possibility that the NSA has destroyed evidence.

On March 21, the Court ordered the government to preserve evidence relevant to First Unitarian. The Court also ordered the attorneys in this case to inform their clients to halt any practices, government or business, that would result in destruction of evidence. On the same day, the FISC issued a scathing order accepting our motion to correct the record, in which we informed the FISC of information the government had failed to submit. The FISC order lambasted the government for not telling it about preservation orders in Jewel and the related Shubert case, an especially critical omission because the earlier court opinion relied on the notion that no preservation orders had ever been issued.

Now that the government’s preservation obligations moving forward have been settled, in the coming weeks, the parties will brief the Court on the remaining question of whether evidence has already been improperly destroyed.

Related Cases: Jewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Categories: Aggregated News

Kerry and Lavrov: World's Apart - Tue, 01/04/2014 - 17:30
Kerry and Lavrov: World's Apart
by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday, both men met for further talks. They did so in Paris. They discussed Ukraine for four hours. Nothing was resolved.
Kerry demands business as usual. He wants Washington rules enforced. He wants Ukrainians having no say. 
Lavrov wants fundamental rule of law principles observed. He wants Ukraine free from fascist putschists. 
He wants legitimate governance replacing them. He wants what Ukrainians want. He wants what Washington won't permit. A post-meeting Kerry statement said in part:
"The US and Russia have differences of opinion about the events that led to this crisis." 
"Both sides made suggestions on ways to deescalate the security and political situation in and around Ukraine."
"We agreed to consider the ideas and the suggestions that we developed tonight and to continue our discussions soon."
"In a frank conversation this evening with Foreign Minister Lavrov, I made clear that the United States still considers the Russian actions to be illegal and illegitimate, and Russians' actions over the past several weeks have placed it at odds, obviously, with the rule of law and the international community, and we still believe on the wrong side of history."
"But any real progress in Ukraine must include a pullback of the very large Russian force that is currently massing along Ukraine’s borders." 
"And tonight I raised with the foreign minister our strong concern about these forces."
"We believe that these forces are creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine." 
"It certainly does not create the climate that we need for the dialogue and for the messages sent to both the international community as well as to Ukrainians themselves about the diplomatic channel."
"The Ukrainian Government has demonstrated remarkable restraint in the face of enormous pressure. It has shown the world a kind of courage and resilience that every country ought to applaud." 
"And as it continues down this path, the United States of America and our partners will remain firmly by its side."
On the one hand, Ukraine's government is polar opposite restrained. It's militant. It's repressive. It's despotic. It's illegitimate. It assures hardline rule. It guarantees what follows continues it. 
It bears full responsibility for growing fear gripping eastern and southeastern Ukraine. Western Ukrainians have yet to feel its full political, economic and repressive harshness. It's coming.
On the other hand, Russian hordes aren't massed on Ukraine's border. They pose no threat. They aren't coming. Kerry lied suggesting otherwise. 
So did other US officials. Media scoundrels regurgitate their fearmongering ad nauseam.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D. CA) called (nonthreatening, Western monitored) Russian troops on routine maneuvers "a formation that looks like an invasion force."
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R. MI) claims information he has suggests a possible Russian invasion of Transnistria.
It's a breakaway state. It's between the Dniestra River and eastern Moldovan border. It has a large ethnic Russian population.
Rogers claims Russian forces massed in South Ossetia. He lied saying Putin "is considering an invasion of both Georgia and Armenia." He wants Nagorno-Karabach "as part of an effort to create an overland link between Russia and Iran," he added.
General Philip Breedlove is Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and Commander of US European Command. Last week, he spoke irresponsibly, saying:
Russia's "snap exercise puts an incredible force at a border. (It's) at the Ukrainian border now to the east and is very, very sizable and very, very ready."
"You cannot defend against that if you are not there to defend against it." 
"So I think we need to think about our allies, the positioning of our forces in the alliance and the readiness of those forces…such that we can be there to defend against it if required, especially in the Baltics and other places."
He suggested Moscow could target Transdneistria next. "There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to (do it) if the decision was made…and that is very worrisome, he added.
He called Russia "more…an adversary than a partner."
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Breedlove to consult with US allies in Brussels about a possible Russian invasion of Moldova.
The Big Lie about possible Russian aggression persists. Repeating it reflects irresponsible fearmongering. 
It deflects attention from what matters most. US imperial madness escalates tensions. It risks stoking conflict.
Lavrov's comments reflect responsible diplomacy. He's going all-out for peaceful crisis resolution. 
He knows what he's up against. Dealing with Washington isn't easy. Hegemons want things their way.
Following discussions in Paris, Lavrov said:
"We have held intensive talks, primarily on the crisis in Ukraine." 
"We expressed differing points of view on its causes but agreed to look for points of contact in efforts towards a settlement of the situation in Ukraine."
"We agreed to work with the Ukrainian government, with the Ukrainian people in a broad sense in order to press for such priority measures as ensuring the rights of national minorities, language rights, the disarming of provocateurs, the effectuation of a constitutional reform, and the holding of free and honest elections under an unbiassed international supervision."
"We are convinced that federalism is a very important component of such a reform." 
"The main thing is to ensure Ukraine's unity with due regard for the interests of all regions of the country without exception so that the country would function as an integrated state." 
"It is essential to find compromises and consensus among all regions."
"Ukrainian statehood is yet to be sealed. I do not think that this will be possible to do on a steady basis if the fact of the Russian language as, undoubtedly, the second main language in Ukraine, is ignored."
"I do not think that in this way it will be possible to avoid accords, which in this or that way would signify a federalization of Ukraine." 
"We do not impose any diagrams. The Ukrainians must reach agreement themselves as to how the rights are respected, those of both western, eastern, and southern regions."
"There must exist some diagram which would enable each region to elect its own leadership. I think that there is no way round it."
Lavrov denied alleged Moscow intention to split Ukraine. "Federation does not mean, as some in Kiev fear, an attempt to split" the country, he stressed.
"To the contrary, federation…answers the interests of all regions of Ukraine." It does so responsibly. It respects the rights of all Ukrainians.
Washington has other ideas. It abhors democracy. It wants unchallenged control over its latest imperial trophy. 
It wants its rules imposed. It wants them enforced. It wants opposition elements eliminated.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Atlantic Alliance intends increasing its Eastern European presence. 
Stronger ties with Ukraine will be established. Rasmussen spoke days after Obama stressed establishing "a regular NATO presence (in so-called) vulnerable" countries.
None legitimately fear Russia. Washington is the sole global threat. Rogue EU partners and Israel make it a greater one.
Rasmussen ludicrously called NATO "one of the greatest success stories of our time." It's an alliance for war, not peace. 
It's a killing machine. It's a US imperial tool. It threatens humanity's survival. Don't expect Rasmussen to explain. 
He's beholden to Washington. NATO's "task is not yet complete," he said. It has lots more conquests in mind. It aims to become a global police force. It wants its will imposed on humanity.
Its involvement with Ukraine is getting "ever stronger," said Rasmussen. He outrageously accused Russia of violating its right to "freely determine its own destiny."
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia sought NATO membership, he added.
"We are now considering revised operational plans, military maneuvers and adequate troop reinforcements. We will, for example, relocate more aircrafts to the Baltic States," he said.
Including Ukraine in NATO isn't a "foreseeable future" priority, he added. Longterm NATO goals include dozens more member countries.
It wants global expansion. It wants members and partners on every continent. 
It wants an unprecedented all-powerful military bloc. It wants heavily armed military bases everywhere.
It wants the ability to eliminate all adversaries. It wants Russia and China isolated, weakened and co-opted. It wants unchallenged world domination. It threatens world peace.
Ukraine remains a global flashpoint. Eastern and southern Ukrainians demand rights Kiev wants them denied.
Ongoing protests continue. At issue is local autonomy. Eastern and southern Ukrainians want the same referendum right as Crimeans. 
A growing East/West divide appears deepening. On Sunday, clashes erupted in Odessa. Pro-Russian and opposing elements faced off.
Pro-Russian marchers carried Russian flags. Opposition elements targeted them disruptively. Expect lots more of this throughout eastern and southern Ukraine ahead.
Days earlier, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined "Ukrainian leadership to hire US mercenaries to suppress eastern region - source," saying:
"Private military company will be in charge of suppressing protest movements in Eastern Ukraine, said a source in the country's Security Service. According to him, the name of the company is Greystone Limited."
It's an Academi (formerly Xe Services/Blackwater USA) owned firm. It employs trained killers. A previous article discussed them.
VOR cited Itar Tass saying Ukrainian authorities don't think Security Service personnel can suppress local protests or neutralize leaders directing them.
An unnamed Security Service representative said:
"Therefore it was decided to attract foreign mercenaries, who will serve as political police and state security protection."
Washington's dirty hands are involved. Expect greater violence ahead. Perhaps civil war. 
Perhaps cross-border spillover. Perhaps affecting the continent. Perhaps a greater East/West divide. Perhaps a serious East/West confrontation. Perhaps global war.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Olmert: Guilty As Charged - Tue, 01/04/2014 - 17:29
Olmert: Guilty As Charged
by Stephen Lendman
Exceptions prove the rule. Olmert's conviction is big. He's a former Jerusalem mayor (1993 - 2003). Earlier he held Israeli ministerial positions.
He was Israel's 12th prime minister (April 2006 - March 31, 2009). He's an unindicted war criminal multiple times over. 
In 2006, he waged lawless aggression on Lebanon. From December 27, 2008 - January 18, 2009, he pursued Operation Cast Lead savagery of Gaza. 
His rap sheet is blood-drenched. He remains unaccountable for high crimes too grave to ignore.
In August 2009, he was indicted in three corruption cases. They related to Rishon Tours as well as the Talansky and Investment Center affairs. More on them below.
On January 5, 2012, he and over a dozen others were indicted for allegedly giving or receiving bribes related to various real estate deals. 
He was charged with taking bribes worth 1.5 million NISs (Israeli New Shekels - around $450,000).
The so-called Holyland case made headlines. It's a Jerusalem luxury housing project. Olmert was mayor at the time. Later he was Israel Land Administration minister.
In January 2012, Haaretz editors called Holyland corruption "a fight for Israel's soul. The Israeli entire public must reject corruption and remove those stained by it from government."
The Holyland complex "emerge(d) as an extravagant memorial to municipal corruption, riches to entrepreneurs, fringe benefits to elected officials, and kickbacks to go-betweens."
It was business as usual for real estate crooks and complicit politicians. It was "a watershed (case) in the way the public relates to the conduct of government," said Haaretz.
"(T)he system…will find it hard to present a case." It's fundamentally corrupt. It's not just in Israel.
It's rife with bribes, kickbacks, and cronyism. Crimes are committed multiple ways. Everyone involved steals all they can. 
Doing so makes Israel's skyline look "ugly." It holds for numerous others worldwide.
Indictments were made nearly two years after Holyland corruption made headlines. Olmert was named. So were former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and former Israel Land Administration (ILA) director Yaakov Efrati.
A key prosecution witness was identified only as "S." He served as middleman fixer in corrupt deals. He told police:
"(I)n talks I held with Mayor Olmert, with chairman of the local planning and building committee Lupolianski and with members of the local committee, it was made clear to me that via the 'give and take' method, I could get (what) I desired."
"I want to stress: The hints were from those people to me, not the reverse, because I wouldn't have dared."
Developers got huge tax breaks, additional building rights, and other benefits worth tens of millions of dirty dollars.
Hillel Cherney owned the original Holyland Hotel. He got permit permission to build three new hotels on the 30-acre site. 
Real estate interests convinced him a major housing development project would be more profitable. Plans were drawn up to build it.
It involved multiple 12-story buildings and two 30-story ones. He sold part of the project to Holyland Park Corporation (HPC). It was a defendant in the case.
After around half a dozen buildings were completed, experts and Jerusalem residents called them the city's worst architectural eyesores.
Before construction began, questions remained unanswered.  How did developers get excessive building allowances? Why did city and regional planning officials approve an architectural monstrosity?
Anomalies were too obvious to ignore. Police investigated. Evidence was lacking or insufficient. Nothing resulted.
Legitimate evidence surfaced months later. Witness "S" spilled the beans. He told all. He did so in return for immunity. He got help in resolving some of his debts.
A gag order prevented him being named. He was later identified as Shmuel Dachner. Cherney copped a plea. He did so on lesser charges. He was implicated in bribing city officials.
From 2003 - 2007, HPC and complicit parties bribed Jerusalem officials. In return they got what they wanted. 
At the same time, so did others for farmland and other rezoning priorities. Months of investigation put the pieces together.
Olmert was implicated in earlier financial crimes. In 1988, he was involved in forging Likud party campaign donation receipts. Others were convicted. He got off scot-free. 
In July 2013, he was acquitted of Rison Tours and Talansky corruption charges. He was convicted only of breach of trust in the Investment Center case.
Observers called it one of Israel's most significant corruption trials. Olmert was accused of double-billing $92,000. 
His Rishon Tours account held funds in that amount. They were stolen from public organizations. He allegedly used them for private travel for himself and family members.
He built a relationship with Rishon Tours owner Emanuel Baumelshpiner. Charges alleged he ordered his agency to transfer funds from other customer accounts without their authorization or knowledge.
In the Talansky affair, he was charged with receiving $600,000 from US businessman Morris Talansky from 1993 - 2005. 
Allegedly he helped him with various business deals. He claimed the funds were for political, not personal, use.
The court held that despite evidence of conflict of interest, none proved he used his office for criminal wrongdoing. 
Prosecutors failed to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt, it said. Olmert escaped conviction.
Charges relating to failure to disclose US businessman Joe Almaliah's donations to Israel's state comptroller as well as misleading him about their source didn't stick.
Olmert was convicted of one minor breach of trust charge. It hardly mattered. It was for failing to disqualify himself from oversight from various transactions.
The case forced his resignation as prime minister. At the time, Holyland charges remained. On Monday, they came home to roost.
Haaretz headlined "Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convicted of accepting bribes in Holyland case."
Judge David Rosen's 700-page verdict convicted him on two bribery charges. They involve accepting 560,000 shekels (around $160,000) from Holyland developers.
Prosecutors alleged he got over 800,000 shekels. He was acquitted on two other corruption charges.
On April 28, lawyers will argue for each side on Olmert's sentencing. His spokesman Jacob Galanti said he'll appeal.
Judge Rosen was clear and unequivocal saying:
"Olmert tried to tarnish the name of the state witness and told lies in court. I reject (his) account of events entirely."
"The state witness bought the services of Ehud Olmert. He transferred NIS 500,000 to Yossi Olmert (Olmert's brother) following Ehud Olmert's request."
The case involved over a dozen other defendants. Cherney was convicted of bribing Jerusalem officials. So was Meir Rabin.He was Shmuel Dechner's (witness "S") "right-hand man," said Haaretz.
Avigdor Kellnor was one of Holyland's founding partners. He was convicted of bribery. He was acquitted on other charges.
Former Jerusalem mayor Lupolianski was convicted of accepting bribes. So was former city chief engineer Uri Shitrit.
Israeli Land Administration head Yaakov Efrati was acquitted. So were Holyland Park managers Amnon Saffran and Shimon Galon.
Haaretz said prosecutors "requested a stay of exit order for all" convicted defendants. Olmert's lawyer said "(w)e need time to review and analyze the verdict."
Shula Zaken was Olmert's former bureau chief. Judge Rosen called her testimony problematic and inconsistent.
"It was clear in court she was willing to sacrifice herself," he said. Olmert believed she remained loyal.
In early March, information surfaced about her plea bargain negotiations in return for turning state's witness.
She "kept silent during the trial…and paid a price for it," said Rosen. Haaretz justifiably called Holyland one of Israel's largest ever corruption cases. 
Crime usually pays. Convicting a former prime minister is almost unheard of. In Israel it was a first. It's nots over. It remains to be seen what follows on appeal.
A Final Comment
Last July, Israeli/Palestinian peace talks were dead on arrival. It bears repeating what earlier articles stressed.
Israel doesn't negotiate. Nor does Washington. They demand. They're all take and no give. Ongoing talks offer Palestinians nothing.
Longstanding issues mattering most aren't resolved. They include sovereign Palestine free from occupation, the right of return, settlements, borders, resource control, water and air rights, and East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital.
Ending besieged Gaza isn't even discussed. The rights of nearly 1.8 million Palestinians don't matter. Slow-motion genocide suffocates them.
Israel considers Arabs subhumans. Jews alone have rights. Muslims are criminalized for praying to the wrong God.
So-called peace talks teeter on collapse. An April 29 cutoff date was agreed on. It's four weeks away.
On Monday, PLO officials rejected Israel's proposal to extend talks. John Kerry is pressuring Abbas to continue them. 
He arrived back in Israel. He left after Sunday talks with Sergei Lavrov on Ukraine. He'll meet with both sides.
Ahead of coming, a Palestinian official said "Israel made a proposal which was refused by the Palestinians." 
It's "practicing a policy of blackmail and linking its agreement to releasing the fourth batch of prisoners with the Palestinians accepting to extend the negotiations."
Israel agreed to do so along with another 420. It means nothing. Choices mentioned exclude sick detainees, women, children, and significant political prisoners supporters demand be released.
At the same time, settlement expansions continue unabated. Gazan rights are entirely excluded. Occupation harshness persists.
"The Israeli proposal aims to continue the negotiations indefinitely, without any results, in parallel with continued settlement building," the PLO official said.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said "(e)ither the matter will be resolved (before long) or it will blow up."
Kerry said he'll reserve judgment. Decision-making time arrived, he added. Perhaps he means unconditional Palestinian surrender.
He pursued it from inception. He's Israel's man in Washington. His job is muscling Palestinians to accept what demands rejection. 
It remains to be seen if Abbas betrays his people again. He supports occupation harshness. He ignores Palestinian suffering. He turns a blind eye to Gaza's siege. 
He's Palestine's illegitimate president. Israel rigged his election. His term expired in January 2009. He refuses to step down.
He hasn't called for new elections. He sold out earlier at Oslo. He serves as Israel's enforcer. 
He benefits handsomely for services rendered. He's near retirement. He doesn't want to spoil things now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

UPDATE: EFF Fights Patent Troll Demand For Save Podcasting Campaign Donor Information - Tue, 01/04/2014 - 09:00

UPDATE: March 31, 2014

Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins issued his written ruling granting EFF's motion to quash. It is available here.

UPDATE: March 5, 2014

The court held a hearing today on the subpoena. Good news: Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins agreed with EFF and struck down Personal Audio's demands. The judge will issue a written order shortly; we will publish as soon as we have it.

Personal Audio can try to appeal the decision, so this fight may continue. But for now: victory!

For decades, EFF has been fighting to make the world safe for innovation. And we’ve been fighting even longer to protect First Amendment rights to anonymity and privacy. Today, those fights came together, as we went to court to stop a patent troll from obtaining information about a specific group of EFF donors, as well as a vast swath of otherwise privileged information.

Last year we filed a petition at the Patent and Trademark Office challenging the so-called ‘podcasting’ patent owned by Personal Audio. More than one thousand people donated to our Save Podcasting campaign to support our efforts. Our fight against Personal Audio became one of the major patent troll stories of 2013, with coverage in outlets ranging from Ars Technica to NPR’s Planet Money.

But we aren’t the only challenge Personal Audio faces. The company is suing a number of podcasters and three major television networks in a Texas federal court. EFF is not involved in that lawsuit – but that hasn’t stopped Personal Audio from trying to use it as an excuse to target us. Specifically, Personal Audio has issued a legal demand, called a subpoena, that attempts to force us to provide information about a variety of topics including donations to our Save Podcasting campaign (the subpoena is available here), on the pretext that the information is somehow relevant to the Texas case.

We believe that Personal Audio’s subpoena to EFF is improper for a number of reasons that are laid out in detail in our motion. Above all, we are outraged that Personal Audio is seeking to invade the privacy and associational rights of hundreds of our donors. EFF takes the privacy of its members and supporters extremely seriously—and so does the Constitution. As we explain in our motion, the First Amendment protects our donors’ right to privacy, and Personal Audio’s supposed need for the information does not trump those rights.

Personal Audio’s tactic is also improper for several other reasons. For example, it is appears to be primarily intended to avoid the well-defined limits of the PTO discovery process. The petition we filed follows a new, streamlined and therefore relatively inexpensive process. Rather than respond to that petition following the rules of that process, Personal Audio is trying to use entirely separate litigation as an excuse to raise the stakes on EFF – something Congress never intended. If Personal Audio succeeds, we fear it will send a message that this new process can be made invasive, cumbersome and expensive after all, which will in turn discourage others from using it to challenge low quality patents. That would be a shame for all of us.

The Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School has kindly offered to provide free, individual legal counseling to any donors to the Save Podcasting campaign who may have questions about the subpoena and their own options. The clinic can be reached at: 650 724 1900 or We strongly recommend that donors with questions contact the Stanford Clinic for independent legal advice.

While some of our donors will gladly tweet about giving to EFF, others may prefer to keep such information private. We strongly support the right to make that choice, and we will do all we can to oppose Personal Audio’s demand. We will be posting any major developments regarding the subpoena on our blog.

Files:  personal_audio_subpoena_to_eff.pdf eff_motion_to_quash_personal_audio_subpoena.pdf 2014-03-05_doc10_minute_entry_re_eff_mot_to_quash.pdf order_granting_eff_motion_to_quash.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent Trolls
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The Patent Reform We Need to See from the Senate - Tue, 01/04/2014 - 05:38

This is a big week in the world of patents. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, a case about the eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. The outcome of this case has big implications on the future of software patents, the often broad and vague patents stockpiled by trolls and tech companies alike.

And yet such fundamental questions of patent quality seem to be missing from the current debate in the Senate around patent reform—the second reason why this week is such a hot week for patents. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to mark up Senator Patrick Leahy's Patent Transparency and Improvements Act this Thursday, a bill that proposed a few solutions to the patent troll problem and is likely to feature more when discussed this week. Following on the heels of the House's bipartisan 325-91 vote in favor of the Innovation Act, the Senate hopes to offer its own fixes to a patent system that has allowed for patent trolls to run free. Patent quality—the underlying reason why trolls are able to target companies and individuals with dubious claims—is very unfortunately missing from the discussion.

The Innovation Act offered important changes: heightened pleading, fee shifting, transparency, ending discovery abuse, and end-user protections. The first draft of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act only covers transparency and end-user protections, though it adds important standards for patent demand letters, which are highly abused.

This isn't enough. Here's what we want to see in the Senate's legislation:

1. Patent Quality

Overbroad and vague software patents are the root cause of most problems in the patent system. And yet very few lawmakers feel the need to address this issue. Senator Chuck Schumer's patent reform proposal included broadening what is known as the Covered Business Method (CBM) review, a way of challenging certain finance-related patents. Schumer's proposal—as well as a section of the Innovation Act that was removed before the final vote—would expand CBM review to all business method patents, including software-type patents. This could provide a cheaper and quicker way to deal with bad patents that have already been issued. Unfortunately, it appears that expanding CBM will not be part of Senate's bill. It should be.

While expanding CBM review is a good idea, we need even more fundamental reform at the Patent Office to slow the flood of bad patents. This could include limiting patent continuations (the endless do-overs of patent applications), cutting down on overbroad functional claims (a feature of almost all bad software patents), and improving the quality of review.

2. Fee Shifting

The idea of fee shifting—when the losing party pays the winning party's fees—is already a part of patent law. Section 285 states: "The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party." Unfortunately, the Federal Circuit has narrowly interpreted "exceptional cases" to make such fee shifting nearly impossible for defendants who defeat bad patent troll claims (which is the subject of the current Supreme Court case, Octane v. ICON).

Since patent trolls often use the high costs of litigation to pressure their targets into settlements, a likelihood that the losing party (which, in cases litigated all the way to a final judgment, is most often the troll) will pay the other side’s fees could put a serious damper on trolls filing lawsuits in the first place. The Innovation Act includes fee shifting language, and we'd like to see the Senate's bill feature it too. We think tying fees with a joinder provision, as the Innovation Act does, is effective as well. (Joinder allows a prevailing defendant to rope in a patent trolls' parent company into the suit to make sure proper fees are awarded. Often, trolls are shell companies with no assets yet ties to a larger, wealthier entity.)

3. Protecting End-Users

Part of the reason why the patent troll problem seems so dire is because end users are being targeted: hotels and restaurants that offer Wi-Fi, offices that use networked scanners, podcasters. Both the Innovation Act and the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act have "customer stay" provisions. This means that if, for example, a cafe is sued by a troll for running Wi-Fi, the wireless router manufacturer can intervene, and the cafe's case will be temporarily put on hold. While these provisions are very good, we believe that stronger protections for an end user—such as immunity for customers using off-the-shelf equipment—are needed.

4. Transparency in Ownership

It is all-but-impossible to know who owns a patent. This lack of transparency has allowed patent trolls to hide behind shell companies and feed financial gains back to obfuscated parent companies. (One notable example is Oasis Research, which "bought" a patent from Intellectual Ventures and happens to give 90% of its profits back to the company.) Knowing the web of ownership could, for example, allow a defendant to recognize previously agreed-upon licenses on the patents at hand.

Both the Innovation Act and the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act have language to bring much-needed transparency to patent ownership. Both bills make patent owners—including trolls—disclose to the Patent Office and the court any changes in ownership or any entities with financial interests in the asserted patents. We think such changes are crucial to shining a light on the true nature of patent trolls, while giving defendants the knowledge they need to pursue a case thoroughly.

5. Heightened Pleading

Too often, complaints and demand letters feature vague claims of infringement that scare receivers into submission. One provision the Innovation Act has is a heightened pleading requirement. Basically, this means that any party asserting a patent has to be very clear about a few things: what patents and claims are being infringed; what processes or machines are infringing such claims; how the infringement is happening; and any previous complaint that has been filed about the asserted patents. We want to see similar language in the Senate proposal.

6. Ending Discovery Abuse

The discovery process during a patent trial is often egregiously expensive. Defendants have to produce and review reams of documents, while patent trolls—often shell companies with few (if any) employees—don't have nearly as many. This burden feeds into the threat of expensive litigation that trolls take advantage of.

The Innovation Act features a provision that helps end discovery abuse. First, it delays discovery until after "claim construction," which is when courts interpret relevant patent claims. Plenty of cases are thrown out after this period when a court find that no infringement has occurred. Second, the bill's provisions limit discovery to "core documents"—only those documents likely to be relevant to the specific litigation at hand.

The financial burden that discovery brings upon defendants is a powerful weapon for trolls. We want the Senate proposal to tackle this problem.

7. Demand Letter Crackdown

The biggest area where the current Senate proposal excels and the Innovation Act falls short is when it comes to demand letters. These are letters that patent owners send out to individuals and companies, alleging infringement. Many of the largest patent demand letter campaigns have included misleading and deceptive language (such as failing to disclose that patents have expired or targeting end-users already protected by a manufacturer’s license). Folks receiving these misleading demand letters sometimes settle immediately by licensing the patents they supposedly infringe, especially when the other apparent option is to engage in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. These licensing agreements usually come with gags, silencing the victims while the troll approaches their next target with more spurious claims.

This tactic is nothing but extortionate. The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act labels such widespread sending of unreasonable letters as an unfair, deceptive trade practice, allowing the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on such bad actors.

It's Time for Reform

Who knows when patent reform will be brought to the tables of Congress again? We happen to be at a special point in time when every branch of government is itching for patent reform. Patent trolls have risen to be one of the biggest enemies of not just the tech world, but the business world in general. While underlying patent quality reform may be a long shot—and one we will keep aiming for—if we are going to try and surgically fix the patent troll problem, let's at least do it right.

Tell your Senators today to pass the patent reform we need.

Related Issues: PatentsLegislative Solutions for Patent ReformPatent Trolls
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FCC Takes a Stand Against Media Consolidation - Tue, 01/04/2014 - 02:13
FCC Takes a Stand Against Media ConsolidationMarch 31, 2014 The Federal Communications Commission today took a critical first step toward tightening its rules and putting more of the public airwaves into the hands of local owners.
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The Russians Aren't Coming - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 16:28
The Russians Aren't Coming
by Stephen Lendman
It's back to the future. It's reminiscent of Cold War fearmongering. It claimed the Russians are coming.
Norman Jewison's 1966 film titled "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" portrayed a Soviet threat, albeit satirically.
Today, outrageous headlines irresponsibly suggest Russian hordes threaten Ukraine. Truth is polar opposite. It doesn't matter.
On March 28, Ukraine's propaganda news service Ukrinform headlined "Russia continues to redeploy troops to Ukrainian border." 
It quoted Kiev's Military and Political Studies Center head Dmytro Tymchuk saying:
"According to live data of the Information Resistance group, redeployment of Russian troops to the border of Russia with Ukraine has continued over the past day."
In Rostov region, he claimed columns of technology were "fixed." They're "heading to the state border." 
Included are 150 armored personnel carriers and 400 units of motor vehicles near the town of Millerovo, Tarasovsky settlement and the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, he said.
Overnight at Rostov-Tovarny's railway station, he claimed "eight MLRS (multiple rocket launchers) Uragan arrived (on) 12 freight cars." 
So did "four BTR-80, about a dozen units of automotive vehicles (including fuel trucks)," he added.
"In Belgorod region...the column of vehicles was fixed, moving in the direction of the state border (30-40 km from the border): about 30 units of automotive vehicles, about 10 units of tracked engineering equipment."
BBC aired fake footage alleging Russian tanks heading for Ukraine's border.
CNN hyped the bogus threat headlining " 'The hordes are coming:' Ukrainians fear Russian invasion in northeast."
CBS News headlined "Putin reaches out to Obama as Russian troops continue to mass on Ukraine border."
USA Today headlined "Ukrainians fear Russian invasion near."
Foreign Policy (FP) magazine is a neocon Washington Post publication. 
It headlined "The Russians Are Coming - 10 very good reasons not to believe Vladimir Putin when he says he's totally not going to invade eastern Ukraine."
Ten lies followed straightaway claiming:
(1) Up to 50,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine's border; other putschist reports claimed 100,000;
(2) "Putin enjoys embarrassing the United States…;"
(3) "The IMF bailout;" FP portrayed grand theft loan-sharking as responsible lending;
(4) Legitimate Crimean reunification is illegal;
(5) What will Western nations do about threatened Russian invasion;
(6) Russian comments are anti-Western;
(7) "Russia's military and arms trade relies on Ukraine;"
(8) "The Kremlin lies shamefully and farcically;" 
Daily malicious scoundrel media Big Lies are ignored.
(9) Russian "Kombinatsiya" (disinformation) "is very much in evidence now;" and
(10) "Modernizatsiya (modernization)" plans "the largest and most ambitious re-armament and modernization program" of Russia's military since the Soviet Union's dissolution. 
Doing so wrongfully suggests a threat. Russian military spending is minuscule compared to America's bloated defense budget.
Washington Post neocons headlined "Donetsk fearful of Russian military might on Ukraine's border." They ludicrously claimed residents keep their cars "gassed up in case their families need to flee advancing tanks."
Murdoch's The Sunday Times headlined "The Russians are coming. We're ready. As Moscow's forces mass on the eastern border, volunteers are flocking to bolster Ukraine's poorly equipped national guard."
FP's article hyped a nonexistent planned Russian Ukrainian invasion. Other Western scoundrel media echo the same Big Lie. 
It repeats with disturbing regularity. It does so despite no evidence whatever suggesting it. 
Russian expert Dmitry Vostok said "(b)efore casting aspersions upon Russia, (Western leaders) should (consider) their own interventions."
Their collective memories are short. They ignore or mischaracterize numerous imperial interventions. They blame victims for their crimes.
They claim holier than thou reasons for lawless aggression. They threaten more. They justify the unjustifiable. 
They defend the indefensible. They claim ravaging and destroying one nation after another to save them is OK.
They lack moral authority. Their agenda is world domination. They threaten world peace. They risk humanity's survival. 
They turn truth on its head. Big Lies repeat. Media scoundrels echo them. They call self-defense terrorism. They call Putin's all-out conflict resolution initiatives aggression.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat. He does his nation proud. 
He endures plenty dealing with Western leaders. He outshines them all. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. Recipients include a rogue's gallery of war criminals. Obama is Exhibit A.
Lavrov was clear and unequivocal. He said Moscow has no intention of invading Ukraine. Claims otherwise are spurious.
"We have absolutely no intention of and interest in crossing Ukraine's borders," he stressed. 
"The only thing we really want is that the work should be collective and the lawlessness that some Western countries are trying to sweep under the rug and paint the situation in bright colors should be stopped, so that they realize their responsibility."
Russia "had no other choice than to accept Crimea," he added. "We didn't bother reflecting about what the reaction would be." 
"We had no other choice. The choice we eventually made came from our history, international law, Russian statehood and our responsibility for the lives of those ethnic Russians who found themselves stranded abroad in a single day."
Reunification is entirely legal. International law principles affirm everyone's right to self-determination. Crimeans overwhelmingly chose to join Russia.
Moscow was obligated to oblige. Western nations plotted for years to split Ukraine from Russia, said Lavrov.
"It feels as though our Western colleagues…have long been working to 'tear' Ukraine away from Russia." 
"Once they realized they had been wrong and it had been a mistake to act in violation of all post-Soviet agreements, they couldn't own up to it." 
"A false idea of pride stood in their way. And all the sanctions we are seeing now are a knee-jerk reflex that makes them want to find a reasonable way to remedy their hurt feelings."
The same "you are either with us or against us" notion" exists. "We have long since given that up but unfortunately this kind of mentality is still there in the minds of politicians who today define the West's stance," Lavrov added.
He criticized Western nations for bullying 50 countries to vote against Crimean reunification legitimacy.
Threats were made. Nation were told they'd "face consequences." Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said:
"Many (nations) complained that they were experiencing enormous pressure from Western powers to make them vote" against reunification legitimacy.
"(T)he pressure produced a certain effect. Some countries voted (the wrong way) grudgingly, shall I say, and complained to us about the strong pressure they had experienced."
Washington and rogue Western partners ousted legitimate Ukrainian governance. They elevated a rogue's gallery of societal misfits to power. 
They're miscreants. They're dangerous. They're fascist extremists. They're illegitimate. They represent mob rule. 
On March 30, RT International headlined "Ukrainian nationalists attack anti-coup motor rally with hammers and bats," saying:
Southeastern Ukrainians "are facing increasingly violent intimidation." Western media suppress what's happening. Putschists are portrayed as democrats. 
Euromaidan thugs attacked cars displaying Russian, regional and Ukrainian flags. They came from Melitopol. They headed for a Zaporozhye anti-government rally last week.
Eye witness Artyom Tymchenko told RT:
"When the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye, it became clear that an ambush was being organized by the Maidan criminals."
"Near the railway station the column was stopped by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people, taking their property, smashing cars."
Motorists said Right Sector thugs attacked them.
"The police, who are supposed to sort out the situation, are not going about their job with any enthusiasm, and although the attackers didn't hide their faces, no one has been arrested so far." 
"Which simply leads to the conclusion that they acted under the protection of the criminals currently in power."
Vladimir Balagura heads an anti-putschist initiative called "Our Town."
"It is very scary to witness when people are running at you with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains, metal rods," he said.
RT said Dnepropetrovsk residents are threatened. "Ukrainian vigilantes" are targeting people they call "pro-Russian thugs."
Right Sector neo-Nazis established their own political party. Their January 2014 manifesto states:
"(A)ll those those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way." 
"Death to the regime of internal occupation! Freedom or death! Glory to Ukraine!"
On May 25, sham presidential elections are scheduled. A previous article said aspirants look more like a police lineup. 
Democracy is strictly verboten. Various candidates registered to participate. Others submitted bids. It's unclear how many will stay in the race.
Former heavyweight boxing champion turned politician Vitaly Klitschko dropped out. He'll participate in Kiev's mayoral race instead.
A mid-March poll showed billionaire chocolate magnate Pyotr Poroshenko had 36.2% support. He hasn't officially registered to participate. He's expected to do so.
Klitschko had 12.9% support. He endorsed Poroshenko's candidacy. Convicted/imprisoned/now illegally freed mega-crook Yulia Tymoshenko's approval was 12%.
Ousted Party of Regions' Sergey Tigipko scored 10%. Other candidates have single-digit support or practically none at all.
In early March, Right Sector neo-Nazi leader Dmytro Yarosh announced his candidacy. Russia's Investigative Committee (IC) said he's wanted for involvement in killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya.
If apprehended, he'll be prosecuted. IC representative Vladimir Markin said there's enough evidence against him to put him on a "wanted list."
He openly boasts about "...fighting Jews and Russians till I die."
He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal enemy." He said war between both countries is inevitable.
He openly supports Chechen militants. He backed Georgia's 2008 aggression against South Ossetia.
Yarosh and likeminded Right Sector extremists are the worst of a bad lot of rogues running Ukraine.
They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded scoundrels holding influential portfolios in Ukraine's government.
They're cold-blooded killers. They believe in barrel-of-a-gun rule. State terrorism defines their agenda. Anyone opposing them is targeted for elimination.
Yarosh has delusions of grandeur. He enjoys too little support to become president. Unless he intends seizing it by force. His extremism suggests anything is possible.
He and other Right Sector leaders have thousands of supporters. They're militants. They're capable of anything. They threaten everyone opposing their agenda.
Their extremism risks civil war. So do Svoboda neo-Nazis. Their leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a presidential aspirant. It remains to be seen what follows May elections.
On Sunday, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met in Paris. Crisis conditions in Ukraine was discussed. Nothing was resolved. Washington remains hardline. Ahead of talks Lavrov said:
"We have no common plan yet. We view the situation differently. Right now we are exchanging views, but we cannot say that we have found a single approach to the problem." 
"To find a solution that would suit both of us we need regular consultations."
On March 30, Itar Tass headlined "An Action in support of bank Rossiya to take place in Moscow." 
Russia's national currency will replace dollar transactions. Putin wants an independent payment system. Itar Tass quoted action organizers saying:
"Russia, at its present stage of development, should not be dependent on foreign currencies; its internal resources will make its own economy invulnerable to political wheeler dealers."
"In order to protect the bank's customers from dishonest actions by foreign financial institutions AB Rossiya has decided to operate only in the domestic market and exclusively with the national currency of the Russian Federation - the rouble."
"The bank has already notified some U.S. banks that it is closing its correspondence accounts. Similar notifications have been sent to other foreign financial institutions."
VTB bank president Andrei Kostin said Rossiya's decision to delink from foreign currencies is a step forward to work exclusively with the ruble. 
"We have been moving towards wider use of the Russian rouble as the currency of settlement for a long time. The rouble became fully convertible quite a long time ago," he added.
Kostin urges Russian products sold abroad and foreign good bought transacted solely in rubles.
"Only then are we going to use (its) advantages of…being a foreign currency in full measure," he added.
Sanctions cut both ways. Moscow signaled earlier about responding to Western measures. 
It remains to be seen what follows. East/West tensions remain heightened. Washington bears full responsibility. 
Targeting Russia is longstanding US policy. Doing so risks belligerence replacing diplomacy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

One-sided Human Rights Council Vote on Syria - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 16:28
One-Sided Human Rights Council Vote on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
On March 28, UN Human Rights Council members voted 32 - 4 to renew investigating war crimes in Syria for another year. Eleven members abstained.
Washington, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco initiated the resolution. 
Other HRC members were bullied for support. Washington and Western partners threatened refusers with consequences. 
Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba voted no. So-called investigations are biased. They're one-sided. They largely blame Assad for insurgent crimes. They do so duplicitously.
UK ambassador Karen Piece said three resolution aims include:
  • continuing to investigating human rights abuses;

  • condemning violators; and

  • supporting efforts to hold culpable parties accountable.

Doing so is almost entirely one-way. Victims are blamed for insurgent crimes.
Pierce lied saying: "We believe that this resolution represents a measured response to the worst human rights situation that this council has ever faced."
She stopped short of explaining her government's culpability. It's directly involved in Obama's war on Syria. So are other rogue EU partners, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Gulf states and Jordan.
Commission of Inquiry for Syria chairman Paulo Pinheiro prepared spurious lists of people and groups he holds responsible for Syrian crimes. It includes:
  • Syrian intelligence branches and officials;

  • government detention facility officials;

  • Syrian military commanders;

  • airport officials from which attacks are planned and executed; and

  • leaders of armed groups.

Syria's HRC envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui called its resolution biased against his government. It's wrongfully blamed for Western-supported death squad crimes.
Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced the resolution, saying:
"For instance, while enumerating the violations of human rights, the resolution does not make any mention of violence on the part of rebels that was described in (HRC's) report in detail…"
It includes "mass executions, abductions of women and children, sexual violence, the use of children soldiers, mortar shelling of densely populated areas, as well as the terrorist acts committed by the groups making up the Syrian Free Army and closely linked to the Islamic Front."
Western nations call some groups committing atrocities and other high crimes Syria's "moderate opposition," Russia's Foreign Ministry added.
They're cold-blooded killers. Washington and rogue partners support them. They plan arming them more heavily. 
They intend recruiting larger numbers of like-minded extremists. They plan stepped up efforts to oust Assad. They likely intend Libya 2.0.
Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed concern about refusing Moscow's suggestion to condemn terrorism in Syria.
"The Russian side has been actively working with a group of co-authors and proposed a number of amendments for a balanced text," it said. 
"Most of our proposals, however, were not taken into account."
“This is despite the fact that the agreed counter-terrorism clause is in Resolution 2139 of the UN Security Council," it added.
Duplicitous HRC members exceeded their mandate. They urged Syria to accelerate eliminating its chemical weapons.
They're being disposed of responsibly. "The UN Council on Human Rights is not authorized to interfere in the process, to dictate priorities and decide which provisions of the Geneva communique need special attention," Russia's Foreign Ministry stressed. 
Western-supported Syrian violence claimed tens of thousands of lives. Many more were injured. Mostly civilians are affected.
Death squad invaders target Assad loyalists. Dozens die daily. Obama's war on Syria entered its fourth year. He bears full responsibility for mass slaughter and destruction.
He's waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He's ravaging one country after another lawlessly. He wants multiple imperial trophies collected.
He targets anyone considered a state enemy for extrajudicial assassination. He governs by diktat. He's got more death and destruction in mind.
He's waging war on humanity. He's doing it at home and abroad. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. 
He's the greatest menace of our time. He threatens world peace. He risks global war. He's surrounded by likeminded neocon extremists.
They deplore peace. They promote war. They want unchallenged global dominance. They're willing to destroy planet earth to own it.
Lunatics think this way. They operate this way. They do so extrajudicially. They ravage and destroy countries indiscriminately. They falsely claim humanitarian intervention.
They're destroying humanity to save it. They infest Washington. They target Americans like others abroad. They tolerate no opposition. 
Anything goes is policy. Business as usual persists. Powerful interests control things. They partner with likeminded extremists. No one is safe anywhere with them around.
A Final Comment 
Israel is a lawless rogue state. It's the Middle East's most ruthless regime. It wages wars on Lebanon and Palestine. It bombs Syria. 
It gets away with murder and other high crimes too grave to ignore. Justice is systematically denied.
Israel's High Court most often is rubber-stamp. On March 30, RT International headlined "Israeli Supreme Court to hear war crimes case against top officials - report."
RT cited Jonathan Cook's article titled "Israel to consider war crimes case," saying:
Palestinian Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel lawyer Marwan Dalal brought charges. He's an Israeli citizen. 
He's the only Palestinian jurist "to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands."
On April 2, Israel's High Court for the first time will hear evidence of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.
A 52-page petition was submitted. It addressed three Israeli operations. They include:
  • its preemptive 2006 Lebanon war;

  • its Operation Cast Lead Gaza aggression (December 2008 - January 2009,) and 

  • murdering nine Turkish Mavi Marmara Gaza humanitarian mission activists in May 2010 in cold blood.

Evidence against Israel is overwhelming. Culpability is indisputable. Systematic coverup whitewashed it. Independent reports were denounced. 
Israel remains unaccountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. It's high time things changed. Don't expect Israeli Supreme Court justices to do it.
It won't matter either way. Israel does what it wants whatever they rule. It ignored the World Court calling its Apartheid Wall illegal.
It ordered it dismantled. It mandated compensation for victims. Justice was systematically denied. Lawless Israeli settlements expand exponentially.
Besieged Gazans struggle daily to survive. They endure slow-motion genocide. They live in the world's largest open-air prison. Multiple daily Israeli incursions target West Bank Palestinian communities. 
Nonviolent civilians are ruthlessly persecuted. Praying to the wrong God is criminalized.
Soldiers shoot children for target practice. Fishermen are attacked at sea. Settlers freely commit vandalism. Once in a while murder. Israeli security forces do nothing to stop them.
High Court justices will hear "strong factual and legal findings," said Cook. They're from public sources.
They include official Israeli inquiries. They implicate high-ranking military and government officials.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, current Justice Minister/former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and perhaps current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are vulnerable.
So are two former IDF chiefs of staff, a former domestic intelligence chief, and a former defense minister.
Dalal plans arguing that Israeli police are legally required to investigate charges relating to possible war crimes.
Prosecutors must order them. "The evidence is in the public realm and obliges Israeli prosecutors to order investigations," he said. 
"The failure to do so is unreasonable conduct and the court must rectify the matter."
Indisputable war crimes were committed. Clear evidence proves them. Claiming otherwise doesn't wash. Getting High Court justices to agree is another matter entirely.
Most often they rubber-stamp official policy. A conservative majority makes it more likely. B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said:
"There has been no discussion in Israel of the responsibility of high-ranking officials for issuing apparently illegal orders such as using white phosphorus in built-up areas, the adoption of flexible open-fire regulations, and a policy of targeting certain population groups, such as males over a certain age."
Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's most ruthless. It's a democracy in name only. Jews get a sham version. 
Muslims are considered subhumans. Israeli Arabs are considered fifth columns threats. Palestinians have no rights whatever. 
Institutionalized racism is official policy. Equity, peace and justice are non-starters. Jews alone have rights. 
Israel's gulag alone attests to its barbarity. Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish inside. Horrific treatment occurs daily.
Proper food and medical care are denied. Brutal treatment is standard practice. International law is systematically violated. Israel remains unaccountable for high crimes. 
Don't expect High Court members to hold culpable officials accountable. Don't expect Israeli war criminals to be punished. 
Business as usual persists. Long denied justice remains a distant dream.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Planned Turkish False Flag Exposed - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 17:40
Planned Turkish False Flag Exposed
by Stephen Lendman
Welcome to police state Turkey. It's no democracy. Claiming otherwise is a convenient illusion. 
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is tyrannical. He's ruthless. He blames victims for his crimes. He's unapologetic. 
He heads Ankara's rogue government. Turkey is one of 28 NATO countries. Erdogan partners with Washington's imperial wars.
He's part of Obama's agenda to ravage and destroy Syria. At issue is ousting Assad. It's replacing him with pro-Western puppet leadership. 
It's denying Syrians all rights. It's exploiting them ruthlessly. It's stealing Syrian resources. It's eliminating an Israeli rival. It's isolating Iran before targeting its government the same way.
It's reckless. It's lawless. It's out-of-control. It risks regional war. It risks expanding it globally. It risks what no responsible leader would dare. It's happening in real time.
Obama wants a pretext for full-scale US-led NATO intervention. Last summer's false flag Ghouta chemical weapons attack failed.
Hoped for popular US support didn't follow. Mass opposition emerged. Libya 2.0 was postponed. It wasn't cancelled. It remains another major false flag incident ahead.
On March 28, RT International headlined "You Tube ban: How Turkish officials conspired to stage Syria attack to provoke war."
At issue is pretext for invoking NATO's Articles 4 or 5. 
Article 4 calls for members to "consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any" is threatened.
Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all. It calls for collective self-defense.
Invoking it gives Obama pretext for war. Bombs away would follow. Libya 2.0 would entirely ravage and destroy Syria. Perhaps turning it to rubble is planned.
Potentially hundreds of thousands could die. Many more would be injured. Millions more displaced. 
Humanitarian disaster conditions would increase exponentially. Obama's rap sheet already is blood-drenched.  
How many more millions does he plan to murder? Is war with Russia next? Doing so is as simple as ordering ready, aim, fire. Major conflicts start this way.
Turkey was caught red-handed. Ergodan responded lawlessly. He blocked You Tube. He lied claiming national security concerns. 
Days earlier, he restricted Twitter access. He called the You Tube recording "a vile, cowardly, immoral act."
Turkey is notorious. It suppresses press freedom. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Speaking truth to power is criminalized.
Thousands of journalists, lawyers, activists and others are falsely accused of state terrorism. An atmosphere of fear prevails. No one is safe. Everyone is potentially vulnerable.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) earlier said Turkish "authorities are waging one of the world's biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history." 
"Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism."
Erdogan restricts free expression. He denigrates it. He goes all-out to quash it. He represents hardline rogue governance. 
His latest dirty scheme was exposed. What follows remains to be seen.
Leaked audio revealed comments made by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Hakan Fidan. 
Others involved included Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. General Yasar Guler.
They discussed plotting a false flag pretext for full-scale war on Syria. Davutoglu was heard saying "I'll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey" from insurgent held Syrian territory.
He called doing it "a declaration of war. He suggested targeting the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. It's inside Syria. It's sovereign Turkish territory. It's authorized under 1921 Treaty of Ankara terms.
Davutoglu was heard saying:
"The prime minister said that in the current conjuncture, this attack must be seen as an opportunity for us."
Fidan replied saying: 
"I'll send four men from Syria, if that's what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey. We can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary."
Sinirlioglu said: "Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit."
Guler: "It's a direct cause of war. I mean, what're going to do is a direct cause of war." 
The full conversation reveals how rogue states operate. It continued as follows:
Davutoglu: "I couldn't entirely understand the other thing; what exactly does our foreign ministry supposed to do?" 
"No, I'm not talking about the thing. There are other things we're supposed to do." 
"If we decide on this, we are to notify the United Nations, the Istanbul Consulate of the Syrian regime, right?"
Sinirlioglu: "But if we decide on an operation in there, it should create a shocking effect. I mean, if we are going to do so." 
"I don't know what we're going to do, but regardless of what we decide, I don't think it'd be appropriate to notify anyone beforehand."
Davutoglu: "OK, but we're gonna have to prepare somehow. To avoid any shorts on regarding international law." 
"I just realised when I was talking to the president (Abdullah Gul), if the Turkish tanks go in there, it means we're in there in any case, right?
Guler: "It means we're in, yes."
Davutoglu: "Yeah, but there's a difference between going in with aircraft and going in with tanks…"
Guler: "Maybe we can tell the Syrian consulate general that, ISIL is currently working alongside the regime, and that place is Turkish land. We should definitely…"
Davutoglu: "But we have already said that, sent them several diplomatic notes."
Guler: "To Syria…"
Sinirlioglu: "That's right."
Davutoglu: "Yes, we've sent them countless times. Therefore, I'd like to know what our Chief of Staff's expects from our ministry."
Guler: "Maybe his intent was to say that, I don't really know, he met with Mr. Fidan."
Fidan: "Well, he did mention that part but we didn't go into any further details."
Guler: "Maybe that was what he meant...A diplomatic note to Syria?"
Fidan: "Maybe the Foreign Ministry is assigned with coordination…"
Davutoglu: "I mean, I could coordinate the diplomacy but civil war, the military…"
Sinirlioglu: That's what I told back there. For one thing, the situation is different. An operation on ISIL has solid ground on international law." 
"We're going to portray this is Al-Qaeda, there's no distress there if it's a matter regarding Al-Qaeda. And if it comes to defending Suleiman Shah Tomb, that's a matter of protecting our land."
Guler: "We don't have any problems with that."
Fidan: "Second after it happens, it'll cause a great internal commotion (several bombing events is bound to happen within). The border is not under control…"
Sinirlioglu: "I mean, yes, the bombings are of course going to happen. But I remember our talk from 3 years ago…"
Guler: "Mr. Fidan should urgently receive back-up and we need to help him supply guns and ammo to rebels." 
"We need to speak with the minister. Our Interior Minister, our Defense Minister. We need to talk about this and reach a resolution sir."
Davutoglu: "How did we get special forces into action when there was a threat in Northern Iraq? We should have done so in there, too." 
"We should have trained those men. We should have sent men. Anyway, we can't do that. We can only do what diplomacy…"
Sinirlioglu: "I told you back then, for God's sake, General. You know how we managed to get those tanks in. You were there."
Guler: "What, you mean our stuff?"
Sinirlioglu: "Yes, how do you think we've managed to rally our tanks into Iraq? How? How did we manage to get special forces, the battalions in?" 
"I was involved in that. Let me be clear. There was no government decision on that. We have managed that just with a single order."
Guler: "Well, I agree with you. For one thing, we're not even discussing that. But there are different things that Syria can do right now."
Davutoglu: "General, the reason we're saying no to this operation is because we know about the capacity of those men."
Guler: "Look, sir, isn't MKE (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) at minister's bidding?" 
"Sir, I mean, Qatar is looking for ammo to buy in cash. Ready cash. So, why don't they just get it done? It's at Mr. Minister's command."
Davutoglu: But there's the spot we can't act intergratedly. We can't coordinate."
Guler: "Then, our Prime Minister can summon both Mr. Defence Minister and Mr. Minister at the same time. Then he can directly talk to them."
Davutoglu: "We, Mr. Siniroglu and I, have literally begged Mr. Prime Minster for a private meeting. We said that things were not looking so bright."
Guler: "Also, it doesn't have to be a crowded meeting. Yourself, Mr. Defence Minister, Mr. Interior Minister and our Chief of Staff, the four of you are enough." 
"There's no need for a crowd. Because, sir, the main need there is guns and ammo. Not even guns, mainly ammo. We've just talked about this, sir." 
"Let's say we're building an army down there, 1000 strong. If we get them into that war without previously storing a minimum of 6-months' worth of ammo, these men will return to us after two months."
Davutoglu: "They're back already."
Guler: "They'll return to us, sir."
Davutoglu: "They've came back from...What was it? Cobanbey."
Guler: "Yes, indeed, sir. This matter can't be just a burden on Mr. Fidan's shoulders as it is now. It's unacceptable. I mean, we can't understand this. Why?"
Davutoglu: "That evening we'd reached a resolution. And I thought that things were taking a turn for the good. Our…"
Sinirlioglu: "We issued the MGK (National Security Council) resolution the day after. Then we talked with the general…"
Davutoglu: "And the other forces really do a good follow up on this weakness of ours. You say that you're going to capture this place, and that men being there constitutes a risk factor." 
"You pull them back. You capture the place. You reinforce it and send in your troops again."
Guler: "Exactly, sir. You're absolutely right."
Davutoglu: "Right? That's how I interpret it. But after the evacuation, this is not a military necessity. It's a whole other thing."
Sinirlioglu: "There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics. It now can spread to other places. You said it yourself today, and others agreed…" 
"We're headed to a different game now. We should be able to see those. That ISIL and all that jazz, all those organisations are extremely open to manipulation." 
"Having a region made up of organisations of similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us." 
"And when we first went into Northern Iraq, there was always the risk of PKK blowing up the place. If we thoroughly consider the risks and substantiate...As the general just said…"
Guler: "Sir, when you were inside a moment ago, we were discussing just that. Openly. I mean, armed forces are a "tool" necessary for you in every turn."
Davutoglu: "Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister, in your absence, the same thing in academic jargon, you can't stay in those lands without hard power. Without hard power, there can be no soft power."
Guler: "Sir."
Sinirlioglu: "The national security has been politicised. I don't remember anything like this in Turkish political history. It has become a matter of domestic policy." 
"All talks we've done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they've all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit."
Guler: "Exactly."
Sinirlioglu: "That has never happened before. Unfortunately but…"
Guler: "I mean, do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security? Sir, is this a justifiable sense of national security?"
Sinirlioglu: "I don't even remember such a period."
Guler: "In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None."
Davutoglu: "The year 2012, we didn't do it 2011. If only we'd took serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012."
Sinirlioglu: "They were at their lowest back in 2012."
Davutoglu: "Internally, they were just like Libya. Who comes in and goes from power is not of any importance to us. But some things…"
Guler: "Sir, to avoid any confusion, our need in 2011 was guns and ammo. In 2012, 2013 and today also. We're in the exact same point. We absolutely need to find this and secure that place."
Davutoglu: "Guns and ammo are not a big need for that place. Because we couldn't get the human factor in order…"
Turkish officials responded as expected. They lied calling the conversation "partially manipulated." It was a "wretched attack" on Turkey's national security, they added.
Rogue states caught red-handed reply this way. Their conversation speaks for itself. 
It represents Turkey's alliance with Washington. It's Obama's lead anti-Assad attack dog. It's a convenient proxy. 
It's a useful stooge. Days earlier, Ankara provocatively downed a Syrian warplane. 
It lied claiming it violated Turkish airspace. At most only briefly before correcting a navigational error. It crashed inside Syria. The pilot ejected. He landed safely on Syrian soil.
Turkey's plot was exposed. Will plans proceed anyway? Will something new be proposed? Is full-scale US-led NATO war on Syria coming? Ankara appears part of a conspiracy to wage it.
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad denounced Turkey's agenda. Erdogan bears full responsibility. 
He supports anti-Syrian terrorist groups, he said. They're responsible for numerous atrocities.
Erdogan and likeminded government officials are "insane and stupid," Mikdad added. He'll "achieve results similar to those achieved by all insane and stupid people."
On Friday, Syria's UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari denounced Erdogan. He cited the above leaked conversation. 
He called plotting aggression on Syria a "major scandal." He wants Security Council members to address what's revealed.
He wants Turkey held responsible for escalating terrorism on Syria. He called doing so "infringing blatantly upon the sovereignty of a UN member state."
Whether full-scale war on Syria follows remains to be seen. Obama didn't initiate conflict to quit. He wants another imperial trophy. 
Ruthlessness defines his agenda. Rogue state hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Debunking Western Propaganda - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 17:39
Debunking Western Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
It's malicious. It's unrelenting. Big Lies repeat one after another. Official sources announce them. 
Media scoundrels regurgitate them as gospel. It's standard practice. Agitprop substitutes for accurate reporting.
Ukraine crisis misinformation proliferates. Responsible Russian replies get short shrift. Often they're ignored. Sometimes they're twisted irresponsibly.
On March 28, Vladimir Putin said professional Russian action saved Crimean bloodshed. He thanked "the command and service members of the Black Sea Fleet, other units and formations based in Crimea, for their stamina and personal courage."
He praised their "clear and professional actions." They "avoid(ed) provocations and prevent(ed) bloodshed and ensure(d) conditions for a peaceful and free referendum."
One observing UN Charter principles. One entirely legal. One contradicting Western lies claiming otherwise.
"Serious work must be done to modernize the military structure in Crimea," he added.
"We need to complete the formation of police, emergency and penitentiary, as well as security, investigative and drug-control agencies in the new constituent regions of the Federation."
Most Ukrainian forces reject Kiev putschists. They remain in Crimea. They do so freely. Reports otherwise are false.
Those wishing to remain on active duty are being integrated into Russia's military.
Their services are valued. "They will retain their military ranks and service record and have their school diplomas recognized," said Putin.
"The(ir) pay and social status will be brought in line with the Russian legislation." Moscow's military pay is "about four times that of Ukraine."
"Over the next few days the Russian government will make relevant decisions on all the matters concerning military pensions, allowances and salary payouts." 
"We respect the choice of those Ukrainian service members and other law enforcement officers who are returning to Ukraine."
"Attitudes towards them and their families must be extremely correct, as required by the traditions of military honor."
All Ukrainian military personnel in Crimea wishing to return home either left or plan to. Around 2,000 of Kiev's 18,000 contingent chose to do so. Moscow provided them help to return home.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said "the organized withdrawal of the units of the Ukrainian army which have expressed a wish to continue serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been completed."
"The state symbols have been replaced on all ships and in all units that have taken the side of the Russian army." 
"No acts of desecration and disrespectful treatment of Ukrainian state symbols have taken place."
Spurious Western reports lied about Russian troops massing on Ukraine's border. Invasion perhaps is imminent, they suggested. Saying so is malicious propaganda.
Throughout Ukrainian/Crimean crisis conditions, Putin acted responsibly. International laws were observed. They still are. He's geopolitically opposite Obama.
Reprehensible Western reports claim otherwise. Lies substitute for truth. On March 28, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich responded responsibly.
He debunked false charges. The Russians aren't coming. Aggression isn't planned. No evidence suggests an imminent attack.
Inspectors from Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lativa, Switzerland and Ukraine were in direct contact with Russian military unit chiefs on the ground.
They photographed deployed sites and military equipment freely. They accompanied Russian forces on maneuvers.
They know no threat exists. They informed their superiors. Falsified reports claim otherwise. They stoke fear. 
They bash Russia maliciously. They do it daily. It bears repeating. Big Lies drown out truth. Media scoundrels echo them like gospel.
Lukashevich issued a detailed statement. It's repeated below in its entirety, saying.
"In the light of claims on an allegedly threatening deployment of units of the Russian Armed Forces on the border with Ukraine, which are fanned by mass media at the instigation by certain politicians in the U.S and some other NATO countries, we find it necessary to make the following remarks."
"The practice of collaboration among member-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - and all of NATO's member-states also have membership of the OSCE - boasts a number of well-adjusted and fairly reliable methods of 'getting analgesia' in the form of ground-based and aerial inspections under the 2011 Vienna Document, as well as surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies."
"An opportunity to hold these inspections was offered to everyone who wished to get familiarized with the actual state of affairs in the areas (of Russia - Itar-Tass) adjoining the Ukrainian border. The results of the inspectors' work were reflected in the official reports distributed to all the member-states of the OSCE.
"The unbiased information contained in them should have become, in our opinion, a subject of scrupulous analysis and the groundwork for further conclusions. And did the inspectors establish any signs of a military threat to Ukraine on the part of Russia?"
"Nothing of this kind. A total of four international inspections held on the Russian territory under the 2011 Vienna document on trust-building and security measures involved representatives of Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, France, and Ukraine, who did not track down any aggressive preparations and did not see any military activity apart from the one, on which Russian had sent notifications earlier."
"Even a Ukrainian inspection group that visited the Belgorod region from March 18 to March 20 agreed that the Russian Armed Forces were not conducting any major military activity there." 
"The three battalions of Airborne Troops it had found outside the zone of permanent stationing - that is, in the process of a military exercise - could scarcely be viewed as signs of a "menacing buildup of military muscle."
"Apart from inspections under the Vienna document, US and German inspectors made surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies in March." 
"Although their officials conclusions will be known somewhat later after the processing of photo materials is over, one can assume that had our partners registered some aerial signs of large concentrations of Armed Forces, they would not have procrastinated with presenting "hardboiled evidence." 
"But they did not, and this means such evidence simply does not exist. In connection with the aforesaid, a few questions arise."
"What is the sense of verifications in the military and defense policy sphere if their results do not influence political practices, including the formation of US and NATO approaches to the situation around Ukraine?"
"Is it linked to the fact the unbiased information gathered by military inspectors does not reach political leadership?" 
"Or are these very same leaders so susceptible to emotions that they might ignore facts in favor of own political tastes and preferences?"
"In any case, our Western counterparts give grounds for calling the efficiency of the International Security Treaty mechanism from the angle of consolidating trust and security." 
"We will take account of this in our work on further improvement of the Vienna document and in the process of scrutiny of supplementary initiatives in the format of the OSCE forum on security cooperation."
On Friday, Putin called Obama. He did so to discuss Ukraine. Itar Tass said he stressed ongoing violence by extremists. They're "committing acts of intimidation against civilians," he said.
They act with impunity. Putin urged international efforts to stabilize things. John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov will meet to discuss joint US/Russian efforts to do so.
Putin acted responsibly. An irresponsible White House press release lied saying otherwise. 
"President Obama reiterated that the United States has strongly opposed the actions that Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said.
Obama ludicrously claimed  "the the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections."
He urged Putin to support what demands rejection. He lied claiming Russian troops massed on Ukraine's border. Avoid "further provocations," he said.
He twists facts repeatedly to fit policy. He threatens world peace. He threatens humanity's survival.
Putin isn't naive. He knows what he's up against. He knows Washington's imperial ambitions. He's been outspoken about them many times.
He knows how great conflicts begin. So does Paul Craig Roberts. "We are again on the road to World War," he fears. "(T)he drive to war is blatantly obvious."
Washington bears full responsibility. Rogue Western nations and supportive media scoundrels share it.
"(T)he world (is) again being led down the garden path by lies and propaganda…(T)his time (it's) (on) behalf of (unchallenged) American world hegemony," Roberts stresses.
Putin understands the threat. He's going all-out to defuse it. He has no willing partner in Washington. Advancing America's imperium matters most.
Obama reflects the worst of rogue leadership. He's duplicitous. He's a serial liar. He represents corrupted monied interests. He's a war criminal multiple times over.
He's waging war on humanity. He's doing it at home and abroad. He blames victims for his crimes. Millions of corpses attest to his barbarity. His belligerence risks World War III. 
On Friday, Security Council members met in closed-door session. They did so to discuss Ukraine. UN envoy Vitaly Churkin explained Moscow's position publicly.
"Someone must seriously think through what they are doing and the consequences of certain actions they are advocating," he said. 
"Our international partners insist that the only way out is to have this presidential election on May 25." 
"In a situation of political chaos in the country? What will be the effect of those elections if some of the regions do not participate or turnout is very low in the course of those elections?"
Ukraine needs legitimate governance. It needs constitutional reform. It needs them in place before elections are held, Russia stresses.
"There is no political leader in sight who might be able to unite the country," said Churkin. 
"All the politicians one can hear about are extremely divisive for the Ukrainian society." 
"The other thing that is going to come up in the next couple of months is most likely dramatic decline of the living standards of people, because of IMF package which now has been proposed to them" and accepted.
Western nations urge Russia to engage in dialogue. At the same time, they turn a deaf ear to what it's saying.
"If you want dialogue, please respond to what we've been saying," said Churkin. "They are responding, sometimes, but the response is that: 'Well, but you know, the Ukrainians…' "
"We understand the importance of constitution, but how can they do it now? Can they do this constitutional assembly? There is no one to organize the constitutional assembly!"
"Well, if there is nobody to organize, maybe this is exactly the role of the international community? This Compact support group we have been proposing to help them organize those things if there is nobody currently in Ukraine who can take this responsibility."
"Our position is very clear. (It's) disappointing that those things which are obvious to us do not seem to sink in in the minds of our international interlocutors and our Ukrainian colleagues."
Ukrainian conditions remain chaotic. Stability is nowhere in sight. Fascist putschists run things. Responsible governance is absent. 
Sham May elections aim to legitimize illegitimate rule. Democracy is strictly verboten. Russia in under no illusion. 
Western supported rogue Ukrainian governance threatens its security. Potential civil war looms. Igniting it risks cross-border spillover. Doing so risks global war. 
Russia is going all-out to defuse things. Its best efforts may not be enough.
Separately, Lukashevich said irresponsible Western sanctions "cannot go without reaction." Moscow intends "a responsive measure, which we are mirroring to a large extent."
Hungary opposes Western sanctions. Germany has mixed feelings. Angela Merkel wants "de-escalation."
She's against economic sanctions. She hopes to avoid them. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. After China, it's Berlin's largest trading partner. Volume approaches $100 billion annually.
Thousands of German companies are involved. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. Safeguarding them is vital to Germany's economy. Merkel is responsible for doing so.
Russian parliamentarians are considering imposing sanctions on US companies. Reports suggest setting limits to offices considered legal entities.
Duma Deputy Vadim Dengin said:
"If the US cares little about losing business contacts with Russia through imposing its sanctions, then Russia should have long since started supporting Russian producers in full."
US companies want business as usual to continue. Bottom line priorities matter most. Political disagreements hurt them. How much they're able to curb further action remains to be seen.
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. 
Paul Craig Roberts is justifiably worried. People don't "learn from history," he says. Obama bears full responsibility. 
He justifies US aggression irresponsibly. He's heading down "the road to World War."
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

UN Report Denounces US Human Rights Record - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 04:32
UN Report Denounces US Human Rights Record
by Stephen Lendman
It's deplorable. It's longstanding. It's by far the world's worst. It's a pariah state for good reason. Claims otherwise ring hollow.
Ongoing genocidal crimes of war and against humanity continue. Homeland victims are targeted. So is humanity globally.
America is guilty of every imaginable crime and then some. Torture is sanctioned. Peace and stability are verboten. Permanent war is official policy. So is global state terror.
America operates the world's largest gulag. Thousands of political prisoners fill it. Global torture prisons supplement it.
Crime bosses make policy. Monied interests control them. New World Order ruthlessness is official policy. Rule of law principles don't matter. Washington rules apply.
UK Law Professor Nigel Rodley chairs the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). It's separate from the UN Human Rights Council. It includes 18 experts from various countries. 
It's one of nine UN human rights bodies. Each is responsible for overseeing a particular treaty's implementation. UNHCR documented US human rights abuses.
It assessed its noncompliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It's a fundament UN human and civil rights treaty.
Signatories are required to respect freedom of speech, assembly and religion, electoral rights, due process and judicial fairness, sovereign self-determination, and other universally accepted rule of law principles.
UNHCR members monitor compliance. Signatories are required to submit regular reports. 
Initially after agreeing to treaty provisions. Thereafter every four years or whenever Committee members request. They meet in Geneva. Usually three times annually.
UNHRC's report raised grave concerns about US human rights abuses. It cited institutionalized torture, drone killings, failure to close Guantanamo, mandatory immigrant detentions and mass deportations, as well as lawless NSA spying, among other issues.
It criticized Washington's failure to impose "human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad."
It noted the "limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the US government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in US custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' program."
It expressed concern about whitewashed CIA renditions, forced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It raised issues of excessive secrecy.
It said torture victims are denied compensation "due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity."
Bush administration officials made torture official US policy. On September 17, 2001, George Bush signed a secret finding.
It empowered CIA operative to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders." 
It authorized establishing secret global facilities to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment.  
A "high-value target list" was approved. It included about two dozen individuals. 
CIA operatives got free reign to capture, kill and interrogate anyone designated terrorists (real or otherwise) not on the list. 
On November 13, 2001, the White House issued Military Order Number 1. It authorized the "Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism." 
It lied claiming "an extraordinary emergency exists for national defense purposes, that this emergency constitutes an urgent and compelling government interest and that issuance of this order is necessary to meet the emergency."
It targeted individuals designated Al Qaeda. It targeted others for allegedly aiding or abetting acts of international terrorism or harboring them.
It denied them access to civil courts. It established extrajudicial military commissions. It empowered them to convict by "concurrence of two-thirds of the members."
It prohibited habeas and other international law protections. It rendered them null and void. It denied appeal rights. It legitimized torture. 
It accepted torture-coerced confessions as evidence. It permitted hearsay. It pronounced guilt by accusation.
It substituted kangaroo court justice for the real thing. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst.
The infamous March 14, 2003 "Torture Memo" abolished all legal restraints. It authorized no-holds-barred procedures.
It gave presidents as Commander-in-Chief "the fullest range of protect the nation." 
It said he "enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his authority in conducting operations against hostile forces."
At the time, military law expert Eugene Fidell called it "a monument to executive supremacy and the imperial presidency."
It's "a road map for the Pentagon (to avoid) any prosecutions," he added. It legitimized "cruel and unusual treatment." It denied fundamental rule of law protections.
It authorized what followed. Torture continues unabated under Obama. 
Techniques include sleep deprivation, waterboarding (aka simulated drowning), prolonged shackling to the ceiling, painful stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation and/or overload, severe beatings, electric shocks, induced hypothermia, and other measures able to cause irreversible physical and/or psychological harm.
UNHCR members denounced "targeted killings (in) extraterritorial counterterrorism operations by drones" and other means.
It criticized the "lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes." It questioned Washington's "very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an 'imminent threat' and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities."
It raised concern about failing to close Guantanamo. It cited no administration timeline to do so.
It denounced lawless NSA spying. It said targeted individuals have "limited protection against excessive surveillance."
It acknowledged the "practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by federal and NYPD operatives in the absence of any suspicion of any wrongdoing."
It's common practice throughout America. People of color and south-of-the-border immigrants are prime targets. So are Muslims for praying to the wrong God.
UNHRC members raised concern about "insufficient measures" in place to protect indigenous Americans.
Little is done to safeguard sacred areas from "desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination."
Disturbing death penalty imposition disparities adversely affect African-Americans and other people of color, they said.
Excessive force is used with impunity. Beatings, "gun-related deaths and injuries" disproportionately affect "minorities, women and children."
Homelessness is "criminaliz(ed.)" School children are treated the same way to enforce discipline.
Juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole for homicide based on flimsy evidence or none at all.
Adults can face life imprisonment for alleged "non-homicide related" crimes. Abusive prolonged solitary confinement persists. Doing so constitutes torture.
Mandatory immigration detentions are reprehensible. Mass deportations are troubling. Obama disgracefully expelled more immigrants and others than all his predecessors combined.
Excluding undocumented immigrants and non-citizen family members from healthcare law protections is troubling.
Committee members criticized Washington's failure to "disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification, and the circumstances in which drones are used."
Obama categorically refuses to reveal what's demanded. Murder by diktat continues.
Guantanamo and other torture prison detainees held uncharged or "designated for transfer" to other countries continue to be held lawlessly.
UNHRC's concluding observations called on Washington to implement the following recommendations:
  • Take all necessary measures to ensure that surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to the obligations under the ICCPR, including Article 17.  

Any interference with the right to privacy must comply with the principles of legality, proportionality, and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
  • Ensure that any interference with the right to privacy be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to, and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise, specifying, in detail, the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted, the procedures for authorizing such surveillance, the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance, the limits on the duration of surveillance, and the procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;

  • Reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness by providing, for example, judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and  establishing strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;

  • Refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;

  • Ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.

It bears repeating. Constitutional, US statute and international laws don't matter. 
Washington rules alone apply. Lawless US practices continue. Expect no change in longstanding policy.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Text of UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 04:14
UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights AbusesADVANCED UNEDITED VERSIONHuman Rights Committee Concluding observations on the fourth report of the United States of America
1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR/3044, CCPR/C/SR/3045 and CCPR/C/SR/3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR/3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations. A. Introduction2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high level delegation which included representatives of state and local governments on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing. B. Positive aspects3. The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken, and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights by the State party. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party: (a) The full implementation of article 6(5) of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary; (b) The recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay; (c) The Presidential Executive Orders 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”), 13492 (“Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities”) and 13493 (“Review of Detention Policy Options”), issued on 22 January 2009; (d) The support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010; (e) The Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing periodic review for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted, or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011. C. Principal matters of concern and recommendationsApplicability of the Covenant at national level 4. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, despite the contrary interpretation of article 2(1) supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and state practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and the practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).  The State party should: (a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined inter alia in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant; (b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government, and other public or governmental authorities, at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party under the Covenant (General Comment. No. 31, para. 4); (c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of U.S. domestic law, and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to the Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure. (d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134). (e) Reconsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them.  Accountability for past human rights violations5. The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the U.S. Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program. While welcoming the Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meagre number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programme remain secret thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 14).The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system6. While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of The Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reform of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14, and 26). The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes. Racial profiling7. While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17, and 26).   The State party should continue and step up its measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia by: (a) pursuing the review of the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin; (b) continuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and inadmissibility of racial profiling; and (c) abolishing all “stop and frisk” practices. Death penalty8. While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that affects disproportionately African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven case-by-case. It is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for the wrongfully convicted and other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration by some states of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information on such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 26).  The State party should (a) take measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias; (b) strengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring inter alia effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage; (c) ensure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for the wrongfully convicted (d) ensure that lethal drugs for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; (e) consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium. The Committee also encourages the State party, on the 25th anniversary of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, to consider acceding to the Protocol.  Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)9. The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also known as ‘drones’, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al- Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces and in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defense and are governed by international humanitarian law, as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat” and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6, and 14). The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should: (a) ensure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including in particular with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict; (b) subject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used; (c) provide for independent supervision and oversight over the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes; (d) in armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties; (e) conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible; (f) provide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments. Gun violence 10. While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of the discriminatory effect of “Stand Your Ground Laws”, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws that are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6, and 26). The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should: (a) continue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law and strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban legislation of 1996 (the “Lautenberg Amendment”); and (b) review Stand Your Ground Laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence. Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).  The State Party should  (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation.  Legislation prohibiting torture12. While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity (arts. 2 and 7).The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture.  Non-refoulement13. While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent state practice (arts. 6 and 7). The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant, continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled. Trafficking and forced labour14. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, including of children, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the U.S. under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking/forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24, and 26).The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, to the extent that they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program. It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies.  Immigrants15. The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the U.S., health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).The Committee recommends to the State party to review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions, to take measures ensuring that affected persons have access to legal representation, and to identify ways to facilitate access of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years and their families to adequate health care, including reproductive health care services. Domestic violence 16. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases  (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26)The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women. Corporal punishment 17. The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to tackle disciplinary issues arising in schools (arts. 7, 10, and 24).The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.Non-consensual psychiatric treatment18. The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned provided that he or she is unable to give consent, for the shortest possible time, without any long-term impact, and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.
Criminalization of homelessness19. While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17, and 26).The State party should engage with state and local authorities to: (a) abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels; (b) ensure close cooperation between all relevant stakeholders including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless in accordance with human rights standards; and (c) offer incentives for decriminalization and implementation of such solutions, including by providing continued financial support to local authorities implementing alternatives to criminalization and withdrawing funding for local authorities criminalizing the homeless.   Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement20. The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances, in prolonged solitary confinement, and about detainees being held in solitary confinement also in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17, and 24).The State party should monitor conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty be treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system, as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring detention conditions of prisoners on death row in line with international standards. Detainees at Guantánamo Bay 21. While noting President Obama’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the Departments of State and Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with within the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10, and 14).The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen, as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees, and ensure either their trial or immediate release, and the closure of the Guantánamo facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant.  NSA surveillance22. The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interests of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States through the bulk phone metadata program (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, the surveillance under Section 702 of Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted through PRISM (collection of the contents of communications from U.S.-based companies) and UPSTREAM (tapping of fiber-optic cables in the U.S. that carry internet traffic) programs and their adverse impact on the right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) have largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current system of oversight of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of those affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) that will now extend some safeguards to non-US persons “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that those affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5(1), and 17).The State party should: (a) take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance; (b) ensure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise specifying in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted; the procedures for authorizing; the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance; limits on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse; (c) reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness, including by providing for judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering to establish strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses; (d) refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties; (e) ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse. Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences23. While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting life without parole sentences for children convicted of non-homicide offenses (Graham v. Florida), and barring mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide offenses (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court still may, within its discretion, sentence a defendant to life without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile and that a mandatory or non-homicide related sentence of life without parole may still be applied to adults. It is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 24). The State party should prohibit and abolish all juvenile life without parole sentences irrespective of the crime committed, as well as all mandatory and non-homicide related sentences of life without parole. It should also ensure that all juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts. States that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions should be encouraged to change their laws. Voting rights24. While noting with satisfaction Attorney General Holder’s statement of 11 February 2014 calling for a reform of prisoner disenfranchisement State laws, the Committee reiterate its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities, and the lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia are denied the right to vote for and election of voting representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25, and 26).The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences, provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options and remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures, as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence. It should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington, D.C.  Rights of indigenous people25. The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures being taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about restricted access of indigenous people to sacred areas essential for preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices and the insufficiency of consultation conducted with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.26. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of the fourth periodic report, the written responses that it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations so as to increase awareness among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fifth periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.27. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.
28. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report, due to be submitted on 28 March 2019, to provide specific, up-to-date information on all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole

The Struggle for Ukraine's Soul Continues - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 17:50
The Struggle for Ukraine's Soul Continues
by Stephen Lendman
Ukraine remains a global flashpoint. Turmoil, possible internal power struggles and uncertainty reflect things. Plundering its economy is planned.
Obama's Brussels speech was duplicitous. It was provocative. It stoked confrontation with Russia. 
Daily inflammatory Western headlines continue. Anti-Russian vitriol remains intense. Lies substitute for truth.
Friday's Wall Street Journal was typical. It headlined "Russian Buildup Stokes Worries."
No "buildup" whatever exist. Not according to Journal contributors. Propaganda substitutes for accurate reporting. Lies drown out truth.
Unnamed US officials were cited. Credibility isn't Washington's long suit. Nor Journal editors and contributors.
"Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims," the Journal reported.
"Such an incursion could take place without warning because Russia has already deployed the array of military forces needed for such an operation," it added.
According to US officials, Russia massed 50,000 troops on Ukraine's border. An unnamed Ukrainian official said 100,000.
A "senior US official" said "(w)hat matters is the intent. And we don't have a clear sense of that."
False! No Russian buildup exists. No Ukraine invasion is planned. Putin isn't expansionist. He respects sovereign rights of other nations. 
His agenda is polar opposite Washington's. Don't expect Journal editors or contributors to explain. Russia bashing continues daily. 
Its intensity exceeds the worst of Cold War years. It shows no signs of ebbing. Lies, damn lies, and misinformation remain official Western editorial policy.
Stars and Stripes is a Pentagon publication. On March 27, it featured a McClatchy Foreign Staff report. It quoted illegitimate Orange Revolution leader Viktor Yushchenko. 
Washington elevated him to power fraudulently. He left office widely despised. His last public act was naming Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera a Hero of Ukraine.
It's the highest national title award. It's given for "personal heroism and great labor achievements." Bandara collaborated in mass executions and ethnic cleansing.
Yushchenko lied claiming "Putin will not pause…This is harvest time for" him. "(H)is mission in this life is to restore the USSR."
Russia "has not changed, not in 50 years, or 100 years, or 200 years. When Russia builds an empire, it starts with Ukraine." 
"In other words, to build a new empire, the success of Putin's policy rests on the war in Ukraine. His mission is not complete without it."
"The biggest European state is disappearing before our eyes. It must be a common cause to stop the aggressor. Crimea was a test. If we don’t understand that, we're inviting the aggressor to advance even further."
Ukraine's problems are its own making. Possible internal power struggles emerged. Right Sector neo-Nazis are involved. They're militantly hardline. 
They're the worst of a bad lot of rogues running things. They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. They want more authority than already.
They're incensed about Aleksandr Muzychko's (aka Sashko Bilyi) assassination. He was killed in Rovno. It's in western Ukraine. He coordinated Right Sector elements. They vow revenge.
Over 1,500 Right Sector extremists encircled Kiev's parliament (Rada). On Thursday, they threatened to storm it.
They wore masks. They came armed. They brandished bats.They demand Interior Minister Arsen Avakov's ouster. "Avakov get out," they screamed!
They want him tried for murder. Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh said:
"We'll wait for the negotiators from the Parliament, the MPs, but we won't settle for Avakov's resignation. We want his tribunal."
On Friday, Voice of Russia (VOR) said Right Sector members postponed storming Kiev's parliament.
An interim commission was formed. It'll investigate Muzychko's killing. Right Sector members will be involved.
Oleh Odnorozhenko is one of its Political Council officials. Following negotiations with parliamentarians, he said:
"(T)he demands put forth by the Right Sector have been fulfilled, and tomorrow we will gather outside the Verkhovna Rada and will continue to monitor the situation at the Verkhovna Rada."
Demands for Avakov's ouster continue. He's getting Right Sector threats, he said. He "accepts the challenge," he added. On Friday, rallies outside Kiev's parliament continued for his removal. 
Right Sector elements want Sokil (Falcon) special police involved in Muzychko's killing arrested. Conditions in Kiev remain tense. Internal conflict could erupt any time. Perhaps civil war.
A previous article discussed plundering Ukraine for profit. A $14 - 18 billion "Stand-By Arrangement" IMF loan was arranged. Financial terrorism describes it.
It's usury of the worst kind. It's grand theft, not aid. It assures debt bondage. It guarantees Greek style depression conditions. It promises unspeakable human misery.
It doesn't matter. It's official Kiev policy. It has nothing to do with restoring economic stability and growth. It has everything to do with strip-mining Ukraine of its material wealth.
Getting in bed with IMF rogues assures polar opposite policies than what's needed. Dystopian harshness is certain. Selling off Ukraine's crown jewels at fire sale prices is coming.
So are mass layoffs, deep social spending cuts, frozen or lower wages, deeply impoverishing millions, and harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers.
Not according to New York Times editors. A disgraceful editorial headlined "Welcome Help for Ukraine," saying:
"(T)he country just got some encouraging economic news." IMF money is coming. Congress approved $1 billion in loan guarantee help plus $150 million in direct aid. Europe agreed to $2.2 billion.
"(N)ew financing…could help a desperate country avoid default and begin rebuilding its economy and an effective democracy," said Times editors.
False! Putschist governance reflects despotism, not democracy.  IMF loans guarantee polar opposite conditions than what Times editors claim. 
They hailed what demands condemnation. It's longstanding Times policy. It's consistently on the wrong side of history. Don't expect them to explain.
Bashing Russia takes precedence. On March 27, Russophobes Jason Pack and Brendan Simms were featured.
They headlined "A Weak EU Can't Stop Putin." They called Crimea's legitimate referendum "a sham."
They denounced "Mr. Putin's thuggery." They urged a more robust EU response. They want member countries more effectively "defend(ing) their own backyard."
They lied saying Russia threatens them. No threat whatever exists. If EU countries "do not unite to face the Russian threat, Europe will cease to be a player on the world stage," they claimed.
Remaining confrontational risks igniting an East/West conflict. Don't expect Times contributors to explain.
Pack and Simms praised NATO's war of aggression on Libya. They called it "a best-case scenario (of) shared…objectives."
Ukraine's crisis represents a "worse-case" one, they added. Russia is a key trading partner. Economic and political punishment cut both ways.
Crisis conditions give European leaders a "perfect opportunity (for) genuine Continent-wide integration," they said.
The ludicrous alternative they envision is Putin being able to restore Russia's empire, "manipulate energy prices, roll back human rights and destabilize the Middle East."
No responsible editors would publish this rubbish. Times editors featured it.
Separately, The Times headlined "Former Prime Minister Announces Candidacy for President of Ukraine."
What followed omitted what readers most need to know. She was an illegitimate Orange Revolution prime minister. 
She's a convicted mega-crook. She stole millions. She was imprisoned for embezzlement and serious "abuse of public office."
Charges included illegally diverting $425 million meant for environmental projects into pension funds. A second case involved stealing around $130 million for personal use. 
Illegitimate Kiev putschists lawlessly freed her. She belongs in prison serving hard time. She's the best-known presidential aspirant in a field largely resembling a police lineup.
Times editors largely suppressed information about her leaked phone conversation with former Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council deputy secretary Nestor Shufrych. 
She called for turning Russia to ashes. "It's about time we grab our guns and kill those katsaps (a derogatory Ukrainian term) together with their leader."
Referring to Putin, she said she's ready to "grab a machine gun and shoot that m…erf…er in the head."
Her comments circulated on You Tube. They got wide alternative media coverage. Western media largely ignored it. 
Times editors entirely did at first. Times Tymoshenko report contributors gave it short shrift. They did so well into their account. It stopped well short of proper coverage. It demanded headlines.
Tymoshenko resembles Washington-installed fascist putschists running Ukraine. They have no legitimacy whatever. Nor she. Don't expect Times editors to explain.
Separately, Washington imposed more sanctions on Russia. The Commerce Department banned exports of so-called "dual use" items with potential military applications. 
Its Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) did so weeks earlier. It was done quietly. Its web site said:
"Since March 1, 2014, BIS has placed a hold on the issuance of licenses that would authorize the export or re-export of items to Russia. BIS will continue this practice until further notice."
On March 27, Foreign Policy headlined "US quietly imposes more sanctions on Russia," saying:
It did so "without anyone really knowing about it." It called its report "exclusive."
"In 2013, BIS approved 1,832 export contracts to Russia for so-called dual use products like lasers and explosives…"
"The deals were worth roughly $1.5 billion, $800 million of which was for devices cryptically described as "designed to initiate an energetic charge."
Authorized exports of "defense articles and defense services to Russia" were stopped until further notice. At the time, no announcement was made.
On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf discussed it saying:
"The State Department has also placed a hold on the issuance of licenses that would authorize the export of defense articles and defense services to Russia."
New deals are blocked. Doing so cuts both ways. US producers are affected. 
House members overwhelmingly authorized new sanctions on Russian officials. Russophobe Senators Dan Coats (R. IN), John Cornyn (R. TX) and others urged Obama to impose more sanctions, saying.
"We call on you to cancel all existing DoD contracts with Rosoboronexport, as well as any plans for future deals, and impose sanctions to ban contracts with any company that cooperates with Rosoboronexport on military programs." 
"Doing so would require our foreign partners to make a choice between America and Putin."
"Rosoboronexport is an arm of the Russian government and a powerful instrument of Vladimir Putin's increasingly belligerent foreign policy, and it handles more than 80 percent of Russia's weapons exports."
Days earlier, Coats introduced a Ukrainian aid bill amendment. It prohibits doing business with Rosoboronexport. It cancels existing contracts and agreements.
Intense Russia bashing continues. It remains to be seen how far things go. Too far risks them spinning out-of-control. Major conflicts start this way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Israeli Crimes Go Unpunished - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 17:50
Israeli Crimes Go Unpunished
by Stephen Lendman
They're longstanding. They continue daily. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) highlights them. It did so in its 2013 annual report.
PCHR Director Raji Sourani called 2013 "the worst year ever due to the Israeli crimes which went unpunished…" 
"(T)he world's silence towards Israel's closure of any door to justice in the face of the Palestinian victims (includes) pressure exerted on countries which adopt universal jurisdiction…"
Israeli war criminals want immunity. They want unrestricted freedom to brutalize Palestinians unaccountably. They want slow-motion genocide continued against besieged Gazans.
They want thousands of Palestinian political prisoners to suffer unjustly. Cruel and unusual treatment is official Israeli policy. Mercy is verboten
World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. Doing so lets Israel get away with murder. It lets Palestinian suffering continue. It lets conditions go from bad to worse.
A previous article discussed Amnesty International's recent report. It's titled "Trigger-Happy: Israel's Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank." 
It discusses crimes too grave to ignore. Palestinian children posing no threat are murdered in cold blood. Soldiers and responsible superiors remain unaccountable.
They're promoted. They're decorated. They're honored for committing high crimes. Dozens are killed. Some are shot in the back.
Thousands of Palestinians are wounded annually. Thousands more are lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms.
Persecution, deaths and injuries are part of daily Palestinian life.  World leaders turn a blind eye. Media scoundrels report virtually nothing.
Lawlessness continues unabated. On March 26, B'Tselem highlighted another Israeli murder. It headlined "Responsibility for killing 14-year-old Palestinian lies primarily with commanders who ordered armed ambush."
More on its report below. On March 28, Haaretz editors called what happened "Nothing short of a war crime."
Israeli soldiers ambushed Yusef a-Shawamreh. He was shot in the hip. He lay on the ground. He bled to death.
Soldiers lied saying "they noticed three suspicious Palestinians who were vandalizing the separation fence, and opened fire at them according to the procedure for arresting a suspect." 
"When the Palestinians refused to respond to the soldiers’ calls, the force opened fire, wounding one of the Palestinians."
No vandalism occurred. Shots were fired without warning. Haaretz editors called what happened "extremely grave. There is no other way to describe the circumstances of (Yusef's) death."
"The IDF cannot make do with its spokesman's attempt to whitewash the incident. It must hold a vigorous investigation and then put on trial the soldiers responsible and the commanders who sent them on the mission."
B'Tselem discussed Yusef's killing. It did so in detail. He died on March 19. Three Palestinian youths crossed through a breach in Israel's Apartheid Wall.
They did so to pick gundelia. They're edible thistle-like flowering plants. They commonly found in semi-desert areas. They provide income for local residents.
Yusef's family owns farmland "separated from them by the barrier," said B'Tselem. "(T)hat land is where the three youths were heading to gather plants."
Two surviving ones said they heard three or four shots. They were fired without warning. Yusef was hit. One of his friends helped him get back to the road.
Soldiers emerged. Their base is a short two kilometers away. A military ambulance arrived too late to help. It could have been there in five minutes. It took 30 to show up.
Yusef was pronounced dead at Beersheba's Soroka Hospital. He was taken to Hebron's 'Aliyah Hospital. Examination found a single bullet wound in his left thigh.
As explained above, an IDF spokesperson lied about what happened. It's standard Israeli practice. Victims are systematically blamed. Perpetrators go unpunished.
B'Tselem was blunt saying "(b)y (wrongfully) justifying the use of lethal fire in broad daylight at youths who posed no danger to any other persons," the IDF "conveys a cynical lack of concern for the life of a Palestinian teenager." 
"Israel's security forces in the area are well aware that, for the past two years, Palestinians have been crossing the Separation Barrier at the breach at that particular point at this very season to pick gundelia on their own farmland."
They have every right to do so. Yusef's friend al-Muntaser Beallah a-Dardun said Israeli police detained him and three youths with him days earlier. They did so at the same location.
Before letting them go, they beat them. They confiscated their plants. They were lucky not to be shot.
Ambushing and killing a Palestinian youth posing no threat to anyone constitutes a high crime. Israel commits them repeatedly.
Palestinian life is considered cheap. Security forces are trained to kill. Children are used for target practice.
Israel's Open-Fire Regulation Booklet provides instructions on confronting Palestinians. It disgracefully calls those attempting to cross through the Apartheid Wall without permit permission a "suspect in a dangerous crime."
"(S)uspect apprehension procedure" is authorized. Live fire may be used except when individuals are "identified as harmless…posing no threat to our forces."
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Palestinians posing no threat cross through Apartheid Wall breaches daily. Police don't consider them dangerous.
They pose no security threat. Procedure calls for Palestinians arrested for the first time for "illegal presence" in Israel to be cautioned.
No penalties are imposed. They're returned to the West Bank without incident. Regulations are clear. Shooting Palestinians posing no threat is prohibited.
Israel forbids doing so as an "exception." B'Tselem called for giving it "front stage." Permitting soldier discretion to decide doesn't work. Palestinians die needlessly.
Policy remains fixed. It's lawless. It condones cold-blooded murder. It goes without saying. Civilians aren't "automatically" terrorists.
Live fire is disproportionately used. Culpable parties go unpunished. Israel's Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) began investigating Yusef's killing. Whitewashing these type crimes nearly always follows.
B'Tselem director Jessica Montell said "primary responsibility for (Yusef's death) lies with the commanders who sent the soldiers out on armed ambush." 
"The MPIU must examine whether the commanders bear personal criminal responsibility in this case and if they must be held accountable for the death of a youth."
It bears repeating. Israeli crimes nearly always go unpunished. Rare exceptions prove the rule. Occasional low-level soldier hand-slap penalties follow. Higher-ups are virtually always absolved.
A Final Comment
Last summer, Netanyahu got cabinet approval to release 104 Palestinian prisoners. Freeing them is coincidental with so-called peace talks.
They're an empty gesture. Implementation is in four stages. In mid-August, 26 were freed. On October 29, an equal number followed. 
On January 7, 26 more were released. Thousands remain lawlessly imprisoned. New arrests occur regularly. 
March 28 was the final agreed on prisoner release day. Israeli law requires revealing their names 48 workday hours in advance.
It's done to permit High Court appeals. On Friday, Netanyahu's committee in charge of releases didn't convene. Tzipi Livni is chief Israeli peace negotiator.
She said no "automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations" exists.
Sham talks began last July. They continue one-way. They offer Palestinians virtually nothing. 
Israel so far freed 78 prisoners. Another 26 were to be released on Saturday. An April 29 deadline looms. 
Israel demands Palestinians extend it. According to Fatah official Jibril Rajoub:
"The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide by its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for…Saturday March 29."
"Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreement."
Israeli officials had no immediate comment. Earlier they said releases were conditional on progress.
Virtually none was made. Nor will there be ahead short of unconditional Palestinian surrender.
Rajoub said "(n)ot releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation."
Talks teeter on collapse. Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. It's all take and no give. Peaceful conflict resolution remains elusive.
Major issues remain unresolved. They include ending Israel's occupation, controlling Palestinian resources, the right of return, settlements, borders, air and water rights, as well as East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory and future capital.
In 1993, Palestinians got nothing in return renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks. 
They're still waiting. Expect nothing from current negotiations. They exclude ending Gaza's lawless siege entirely. 
It remains the world's largest open-air prison. Frequent Israeli air, ground and sea attacks kill nonthreatening civilians. 
West Bank neighborhood incursions and other incidents kill more. Yusef's murder highlights a danger all Palestinians share. They're prisoners on their own land.
They're denied all fundamental rights. They're vulnerable to ongoing Israeli lawlessness. Muslims are considered terrorists. Praying to the wrong God is criminalized. No end of conflict looms.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Reforming Terms of Service: Microsoft Changes Its Policy on Access to User Data - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 06:29

Last week we wrote about initial news reports that Microsoft had searched and disclosed the contents of a blogger’s Hotmail account as part of an internal investigation into the alleged theft of Microsoft source code and other trade secrets. Since then, EFF has been in touch with Microsoft to discuss our objections to the company’s policy regarding its access to user content. Today Microsoft announced a change to that policy:

Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.

We commend Microsoft for its willingness to reconsider its policies, and we think it made the right decision. As many have noted, while the specific circumstances that led to this case may have been unusual, the underlying issues are common to the industry. For example, Google’s general counsel recently denied accusations that it searched a journalist’s Gmail account in order to find a leaker but asserted that Gmail’s terms of services “might legally permit such access.”

We’ve said it repeatedly: It is wrong for companies to use terms of service to reserve vast, unnecessary rights to access and disclose user content. This remains the case even when companies don’t exercise all of these rights, or when they do so only in “exceptional circumstances.” Simply having onerous terms as written is the problem.

To address this industry-wide issue, Microsoft has proposed a project that will propose a set of reforms related to companies’ access to and disclosure of consumers’ personal content. The project intends to bring together other Internet companies along with EFF and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and other organizations. We look forward to working with these groups to bring more privacy, security and freedom to users.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Obama Sells Confrontation with Russia - Fri, 28/03/2014 - 17:54
Obama Sells Confrontation with Russia
by Stephen Lendman
On Wednesday, Obama spoke at Brussels' Palais des Beaux-Arts (Palace of Fine Arts). Lies, damn lies, and demagogic Russia bashing were featured. 
He duplicitously hailed Western "ideals." They're being "tested," he said. US policy is polar opposite deceptive rhetoric. His address was a beginning-to-end litany of lies.
He outrageously said America "believe(s) in democracy, with elections that are free and fair, and independent judiciaries and opposition parties, civil society and uncensored information so that individuals can make their own choices." 
"Yes, we believe in open economies based on free markets and innovation and individual initiative and entrepreneurship and trade and investment that creates a broader prosperity."
"And yes, we believe in human dignity, that every person is created equal - no matter who you are or what you look like or who you love or where you come from." 
"That is what we believe. That's what makes us strong. And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people - a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international law and the means to enforce those laws."
More on what he said below. US policy is do what we say, not what we do. Washington rules are enforced. 
We're boss, they reflect. What we say goes. Nonbelievers face harsh crackdowns. War is America's bottom line option.
Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. He heads a criminal evil empire. It threatens humanity's survival. 
He seeks unchallenged US dominance. He wants it globally. He wants all independent governments ousted. He wants key rival ones eliminated. 
He's targeting Russia irresponsibly. He does it from Washington. He's doing it abroad. He's pressuring EU nations for support. 
He left Sunday. On Monday morning, he arrived at The Hague. He met with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Amsterdam.
He met bilaterally with Chinese President Xi Jinping back at the Hague. He participated in nuclear security summit meetings. Fifty-eight world leaders attended.
They agreed on denying terrorists access to fissile material. Omitted was discussing state terrorist use. 
America is by far the greatest threat. It has the world's largest/most formidable nuclear weapons arsenal. National Security Strategy (NSS) affirms preemptive use.
Obama's NSS policy calls for America "reserv(ing) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests."
In other words, waging war on humanity is OK. So is using nuclear weapons preemptively. 
US policy makes more enemies than friends. Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. 
He traveling abroad to enlist support. He's doing it for lawless rogue policies. He won't take no for an answer.
He backs extremist Ukraine putschists. He demands greater Russian isolation. Potential confrontation looms. Doing so risks the unthinkable.
Obama held bilateral meetings with UAE despot Mohammed Bin Zayed, hard-right South Korean President Park Geun Hye, and likeminded Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On Wednesday, he arrived in Brussels. He met with King Philippe, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European President Jose Manual Barroso, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. 
He attended US/EU summit meetings. He spoke at Brussels' Palais des Beaux Arts. More on that below.                                          On Thursday, he met with Pope Francis in Rome. He discussed Vatican policy with Secretary of State Archbishop Tarcisio Parolin.
He'll met Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
On Friday, he'll meet with Saudi Arabian despot King Abdullah. They'll reaffirm their joint belligerent agenda. He wants unity among US allies against its enemies.
Russia tops his list. It remains to be seen what follows. Expect nothing positive. Longer-term, Moscow is targeted for regime change. So is China. 
Nearer-term, Iran and Venezuela remain prime targets. Hegemons operate this way. US policy threatens humanity. Imperial priorities alone matter. 
Permanent war is longstanding policy. No-holds barred waging it is planned. Neocons infest Washington. The road to Moscow runs through Kiev.
Obama's rhetoric is consistent. It reflects the last refuge of a scoundrel. His Brussels' speech didn't surprise. 
It reflected business as usual. It featured demagogic doublespeak duplicity. He defended the indefensible. He promoted what demands rejection.
He hides behind a shield of humanitarian intervention. He does so through cruise missile diplomacy.
He's no peace president. He's hell bent for confrontation. Russia is in the eye of the storm. Putin is public enemy number one.
"Together we have isolated Russia politically, suspending it from the G8 nations and downgrading our bilateral ties," he said. 
"Together we are imposing costs through sanctions that have left a mark." 
"And if the Russian leadership stays on its current course, together we will ensure that this isolation deepens."
"Bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way," he added. No nation bludgeons others into compliance more than America. None wage more wars to do it.
Obama highlighted what's at stake in Ukraine. He ignored Washington's direct role in elevating illegitimate fascist putschists to power.
He lied saying "Russia's leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future."
US history reflects redrawing borders its way. A previous article said no nation in human history did more harm to more people than any combination of others.
None match its ruthlessness. None its culture of violence. None its genocidal legacy. None its permanent war policy. None its ravaging more nations. None against one after another.
None more demanding of others. None more contemptuous of peace. None more opposed to democratic values. 
None more pretending otherwise. None more dismissive of rule of law principles. None more lawless. None more arrogant. 
None more disdainful of values it claims to affirm. None more take and less give. None threatening humanity's survival more than America.
Its record speaks for itself. An earlier article asked what do you call a country glorifying wars in the name of peace?
One that's been at war every year in its history against one or more adversaries at home and/or abroad. One with the Western world's highest homicide rate.
One with a passion for owning guns and using them. One responsible for more violence, death and destruction than any combination of other nations.
One called a rape culture for good reason. One where young girls, women and older ones aren't safe. 
One where children are weaned on violence. One where homes are some of the least safe places. One where police are licensed to kill with impunity.
One with the world's largest homeland gulag by far. One of the most ruthless. One with more political prisoners than others. One with dozens of global torture satellites.
One where pacifism is considered sissy and unpatriotic. One where genocidal mass slaughter is called humanitarian intervention.
One more in bed with some of the world's most brutal despots. One where fundamental freedoms are more illusion than fact.
One controlled by monied interests. One serving them alone. One letting popular needs go begging. One committed to destroying social justice entirely.
One addicted to war. One where waging it is the national pastime. One invading Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, Argentina, and Chile in the 19th century alone. One doing it 31 times.
One more responsible for a 20th century of war than any combination of others. One making the new millennium worse. Millions of corpses attest to its barbarity.
One built on slave labor. One transforming it to wage slavery. One where sham elections substitute for real ones. 
One committed to carving up whole continents for profit. One stealing their land and resources. One exploiting their people. One demanding ruler/serf rule.
One thirdworldizing America. One turning it into a dystopian wasteland. One on a fast track toward tyranny. One with more gangsterism than others for personal gain. 
One with out-of-control public and private corruption. One where Wall Street bosses run amok. One where war profiteers gorge at the public trough. 
One where unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, hunger and deprivation are at unprecedented levels. 
One where enormous wealth is concentrated in elitist hands. One with institutionalized inequality. One where millions of youths have no futures.
One where state terrorism is official policy. One where advancing imperial interests matter most. One more polar opposite its professed values than any others. One unfit to live in.
Obama's demagogic rhetoric should have worn thin long ago. Loyalists and naive followers alone buy it. 
Media scoundrels regurgitate it like gospel. The New York Times hailed his new NATO commitment. Obama showed "resolve," it said.
He railed against Russian "brute force." His "challenge is to stop more Putin moves."
Neocon Washington Post editors said Western nations "must prepare for a long struggle with Russia." They outrageously accused Putin of aggression. They've done it numerous times before. They're not alone.
They lied saying Moscow invaded Crimea. Claiming it seized its territory doesn't wash. Nor saying Russia represents a threat.
Wall Street Journal editors railed against nonexistent Moscow ravanchism. They urged Obama lead Western allies against "Russian aggression."
Wrist slap sanctions fall short, they said. It reflects "weakness," they added. Get tough, they urged.
In Brussels Obama said: "What we will do - always - is uphold our solemn obligation, our (NATO alliance) Article 5 duty to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our allies."
Journal editors want tough policy following rhetoric. Likeminded ones urge the same thing. How far remains unexplained.
Risking confrontation with Russia is madness. It's lawless. Whether planned remains to be seen. 
Neocons infest Washington. They deplore peace. They crave war. Against Russia risks the unthinkable.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.

Plundering Ukraine for Profit - Fri, 28/03/2014 - 17:53
Plundering Ukraine for Profit
by Stephen Lendman
On March 27, an IMF press release headlined "IMF Staff Level Agreement with Ukraine on US $14 - 18 billion Stand-By Arrangement." 
Nikolay Gueorguiev is IMF Mission Chief for Ukraine. He's loan shark chief in charge of plundering it for profit. He issued a statement, saying in part:
"The mission has reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities of Ukraine on an economic reform program that can be supported by a two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF." 
"The financial support from the broader international community that the program will unlock amounts to US$27 billion over the next two years." 
"Of this, assistance from the IMF will range between US$14-18 billion, with the precise amount to be determined once all bilateral and multilateral support is accounted for."
Gueorguiev ludicrously said Ukraine "achieved some stability." It "faces difficult challenges," he added.
He lied claiming IMF's goal is "restor(ing) macroeconomic stability and put(ting) the country on the path of sound governance and sustainable economic growth while protecting the vulnerable in the society."
IMF policy is polar opposite. It's financial terrorism. In July 1944, it was established to stabilize exchange rates linked to the dollar.
It was to bridge temporary payment imbalances. It's hugely exploitive. It mandates debt entrapment. It does so to transfer public wealth to Western bankers and other corporate predators.
It obligates indebted nations to obtain new loans to service old ones. Doing so assures greater indebtedness. 
Structural adjustment harshness is mandated. Debtor nations have no choice. Previous articles explained. Dystopian measures include:
  • paying bankers and other Major Western investors first;

  • privatizing state enterprises;

  • selling them at fire sale prices;

  • mass layoffs;

  • deregulation;

  • deep social spending cuts;

  • wage freezes or cuts;

  • unrestricted free market access for Western corporations;

  • corporate-friendly tax cuts;

  • tax increases for working households;

  • trade unionism crushed or marginalized; and

  • harsh crackdowns against non-believers.

Doing the right thing is verboten. A race to the bottom follows. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Countries are transformed into zombies. 
Human needs don't count. Workers are ruthlessly exploited. Debt service comes first. 
Poverty, unemployment, underemployment, hunger, homelessness, untreated illnesses, loss of public services, and deprivation follow. Numerous examples explain.
Gerald Celente calls the IMF "the loan shark of last resort" for good  reason. It's an "international Mafia Federation," he explains. Reverse Robin Hoodism is policy.
Western people "live under the illusion of democracy," he said. None exists. "Political Mafia" bosses run things. "Whether raping a woman or a nation, that's what the IMF does."
They're "money junkies." They're "raping every country on earth" they can trap into debt bondage. It's longstanding IMF practice.
Nations are hollowed out into dystopian wastelands. Middle class societies are destroyed. Workers become serfs. Debt bondage crushes freedom.
Megalomaniacal money masters run things. What they say goes. An elite few alone benefit. Neoliberal harshness is enforced. 
It's neo-Malthusianism writ large. It's hugely destructive. Its holy trinity mandates unrestrained corporate empowerment, using state resources for bottom line profits, and eroding social spending en route to eliminating it altogether.
In July 2011, Christine Lagarde replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF managing director. Fraudulent rape allegations forced him out. 
He was targeted for supporting more responsible lending policies. He endorsed employment and equity.
He called them building blocks of economic stability. They enhance prosperity, political stability and peace. 
Bankers abhor these notions. Strauss-Kahn had to go. Largarde is a walking conflict of interests. She's a player. She's a neoliberal hardliner. 
She puts bankers' interests above public ones. She's ideally suited to serve them. Her mandate is entrapping nations in debt bondage. 
It's destroying nations to save them. It's strip-mining everything of worth. It's causing unconscionable human suffering. Money masters take no prisoners.
They demanded immediately ending Ukraine's gas subsidies. They did so after Kiev putschists announced 50% higher heating gas prices beginning May 1. 
Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz announced 40% higher gas prices starting July 1. Expect more increases later on, it added.
Ukraine's central bank began limiting currency interventions. Since January 1, the state currency hryvnia lost over one-fourth of its dollar value. Expect more deterioration ahead.
Washington pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees. Another $150 million in direct aid appears forthcoming. 
Japan promised up to $1.5 billion. Illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk expects EU nations to supply about $2.2 billion.
Loans of course aren't giveaways. They come with strings. They do more harm than good. Amounts announced are short-term measures only.
A previous article explained. Economist Jack Rasmus was cited. He believes Ukraine's currency collapse is virtually certain. At least $20 billion in aid may be needed "well before May 1," he said.
Ukraine's current debt is about $80 billion. By summer, it'll top $100 billion." Capital flight compounds Ukraine's problems. 
Its foreign exchange reserves are dwindling at the rate of about $4 billion a week. Deepening black hole indebtedness entraps Ukraine. No end to its financial crisis looms. 
Ukrainian aid won't come in amounts needed, said Rasmus. Nothing beyond short-term injections ahead of May elections. 
He thinks $50 billion minimum is needed. Mandating structural adjustment harshness with it does more harm than good.         
Longer term expect Ukraine's economy to be much worse off than now. Its currency may end up worthless. Rampant inflation alone will destroy it.
Western bankers "will have a field day," said Rasmus. Ukraine is low-hanging fruit. It's ripe for plundering.
Ukrainians are just beginning to learn they were conned. They're being left high and dry on their own. They losing pension and other social benefits.
They face skyrocketing food and energy prices. Most Ukrainians are deeply impoverished already. They struggle daily to get by. 
The worst of all financial harshness awaits them. Fascist rule assures repressive governance. Western diktats assure harder than ever hard times. 
Earlier IMF loans extended Ukraine included $16.6 billion on 2005 and another $15.1 billion in 2010. They didn't help. Ukraine's economy remained troubled.
After 2008 economic crisis conditions erupted, it declined 15% through 2009. Ukraine hoped 2010 aid would help generate recovery. 
It didn't happen. Demand for its exports to Western Europe didn't materialize. It's been in recession since mid-2013. IMF diktats inflict more harm than good.
Getting in bed with loan sharks assures trouble. Not according to illegitimate putschist prime minister Yatsenyuk. "(W)e have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer," he claimed.
IMF aid won't help. It's economically destructive. It's not stimulative. It's not meant to be. Troubled EU economies have their own unresolved issues.
Expect most forthcoming IMF/EU/US aid going straight to bankers. Ukraine's troubled economy will get worse, not better. 
Debt entrapment works that way. Ordinary Ukrainians will suffer most. Lost social benefits alone will crush them. Economic decline will follow.
Expect Greece 2.0. Zombie status reflects it. Official unemployment tops 28%. Real unemployment is much higher. 
Around two-thirds of youths have no jobs. An entire generation has no future. 
The more Athens borrows, the greater its debt burden. The harder it is to repay. The tougher to begin recovering. The way things are going, it may be light years away.
Expect Ukraine faring no better. Expect further political unrest. Expect deeper economic crisis. 
Expect escalating East/West tensions. Expect potential conflict. Economic troubles will pale by comparison if it erupts. 
Ukraine is a tinder box. Flashpoint conditions risk global war. Fascists in charge make it possible. Imagine the unthinkable. Imagine what hopefully won't happen.
A Final Comment
On March 27, General Assembly members voted on a March 24 dated "Territorial integrity of Ukraine" non-binding resolution. Washington bullied 100 to vote "yes."
They disgracefully called legitimate Crimean/Russian reunification illegal. Eleven voted responsibly. 
They included Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Nicaragua, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. 
They affirmed Crimea's legal choice. Another 58 abstained. They included Argentina, Brazil, China and India.
Russia reacted responsibly. It did so in the General Assembly. Its UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said:
"Russia opposes the proposed General Assembly draft resolution. It is of a confrontational character."
"The draft attempts to cast doubt on the significance of the referendum held in Crimea, which has already played a historical role. It is counter-productive to dispute this." 
"At the same time, the draft resolution has 'some right provisions.' For instance, the appeal to refrain from unilateral action and seditious rhetoric, which could lead to tension escalations."
"We believe that it is not necessary to pass any resolutions in order to hear these appeals. It is just necessary to follow the interests of the Ukrainian people and the interests of the normal flow of international relations."
"We hope that this understanding will prevail during today's discussion as well and continuing dialog regarding Ukraine. Russia is participating in it in a most constructive way."
Russia recognizes UN Charter principles. They affirm the right of all people to self-determination. Crimeans legally proclaimed theirs. Nations are obligated to respect it.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said "Russia is extremely negative about" an irresponsible resolution. "We think (it's) politically motivated and detached from reality."
China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi said:
"In the context of the ongoing diplomatic mediation efforts by the parties concerned, an attempt to push ahead with the UNGA vote on the draft resolution on the question of Ukraine will only further complicate the situation."
"We believe that the actions taken by the United Nations on the question of Ukraine should reflect the consensus by all parties and should be conducive to the relaxation of tension and to the achievement of a political settlement of the crisis." 
"The question of Ukraine involves the interests and concerns of various parties. There should be a balanced approach to address the question." 
"All parties should exercise restraint and refrain from exacerbating the situation and continue the efforts to iron out their differences through political and diplomatic means and to solve the question of Ukraine within the framework of law and order."
The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. Crimeans chose to go home. It's their legal choice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.



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