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Lost Privacy Rights in America - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 03:07
Lost Privacy Rights in America
by Stephen Lendman
America is a total surveillance society. Big Brother is no longer fiction.
Sophisticated technologies make total monitoring possible, everyone vulnerable, including presidents.
All our moves, transactions and communications can be recorded, compiled and stored for easy access. Anything we say or do can be used against us.
Bill of Rights protections no longer apply. Collecting meta-data communications on Americans is unrelated to national security.
Judicial oversight is absent. Congressional members are told little about what goes on. The CIA, NSA, FBI and other US spy agencies operate ad libitum, doing whatever they wish unaccountably.
Cable and phone companies want online privacy made illegal. They require permission to use personal information about their subscribers.
They want congressional legislation removing this protection. Senator Jeff Flake (R. AZ) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R. TN) support the campaign by cable and phone companies to abolish online privacy.
They intending using Congressional Review Act (1996) authority. It lets Congress review, by expedited legislative procedures, federal regulations issued by government agencies.
They can be rescinded by a joint House and Senate resolution. Once repealed, CRA prohibits reissuing the rule in substantially similar form or issuing a new regulation, substantially the same  - “unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.”
Phone and cable companies want online privacy restrictions removed so they can sell consumer information secretly for profit, without requiring permission to do it.
Privacy rights in America are fast disappearing. If phone and cable companies get their way, they’ll be dealt another severe body blow - congressional members serving them at the expense of consumer and constitutional rights.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Hearing Wednesday: National Security Letters Violate the First Amendment - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 02:52
EFF to Argue NSL Gag Orders Are Unconstitutional in San Francisco Appeals Court

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge an appeals court Wednesday to find that the FBI violates the First Amendment when it unilaterally gags recipients of national security letters (NSLs), and the law should therefore be found unconstitutional. The hearing is set for Wednesday, March 22, at 1:30pm in San Francisco.

EFF represents two communications service providers—CREDO Mobile and Cloudflare—that were restrained for years from speaking about the NSLs they received, including even acknowledging that they had received any NSLs. Early Monday, just days before the hearing, the FBI finally conceded that EFF could reveal that these two companies were fighting a total of five NSLs.

CREDO and Cloudflare have fought for years to publicly disclose their roles in battling NSL gag orders. Both companies won the ability to talk about some of the NSLs they had received several months ago, but Monday’s decision by the FBI allows them to acknowledge all the NSLs at issue in this case.

On Wednesday, EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker will tell the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that these gags are unconstitutional restrictions on CREDO and Cloudflare’s free speech and that the FBI’s belated decision to lift some of the gags only underscores why judicial oversight is needed in every case. The gag orders barred these companies from participating in discussion and debate about government use of NSLs—even as Congress was debating changes to the NSL statute in 2015.

In re National Security Letters

EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker

March 22
1:30 pm

Courtroom 3, 3rd Floor Room 307
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse
95 Seventh Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

For the FBI notice allowing the companies to identify themselves:

For more on this case:

Contact:  AndrewCrockerStaff
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Categories: Aggregated News

Angela Merkel Frau Hitler? - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 02:47
Angela Merkel Frau Hitler?
by Stephen Lendman
Shocking stuff! It’s disturbingly common to label a political opponent another Hitler.
Hillary Clinton vilified Vladimir Putin this way. US officials called Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez another Hitler, among other pejoratives.
Former Mexican president Vincente Fox, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman, among others called Trump another Hitler.
The pro-Erdogan right-wing Turkish tabloid Gunes featured a front-page image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a mustache and Nazi attire, calling her “Frau Hitler.”
Erdogan is embroiled in battle with Germany, the Netherlands and other EU countries - ones blocking rallies, urging support for his controversial April referendum.
He wants a constitutional amendment affording him greater  powers than already, destroying Turkey’s last democratic remnants in the process.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu said enactment of his proposed constitutional amendment will “demolish the democratic system in Turkey and harm civilization.” 
Erdogan accused Germany and the Netherlands of acting like Nazis. Merkel “supports terrorists,” he said. 
Gunes said she’s the “leader of fascists. Germany, which has open arms for terrorist organizations, is trying to instigate the whole of Europe against Turkey.”
French President Francois Hollande blasted Erdogan, calling his remarks “unacceptable.” Gunes published its attack on Merkel after German broadsheet Bild accused Turkey’s president of “endangering Europe’s stability through his lust of power,” adding:
“Bild tells the truth to Erdogan’s face. You are not a democrat. You are hurting your country.”
If given greater presidential powers, he said he’ll reinstate Turkey’s death penalty straightaway. Earlier, Merkel said reinstituting it will end Ankara’s chances for EU membership.
Erdogan is his own worst enemy. Alienating Germany and other EU nations destroy relationships instead of fostering them.
On Monday, a German government spokesman called his “Nazi comparisons…unacceptable in any form.” It’s up to Erdogan to stop further damaging bilateral relations.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said an unacceptable “line has been crossed here.” Merkel’s CDU party vice president Julia Kloeckner asked “(h)as Mr. Erdogan lost his mind?” She urged Brussels to halt “financial aid worth billions of euros” to Turkey.
Erdogan has one trump card he can play - around three million Syrian refugees he agreed to domicile in return for billions of euros in aid.
If suspended or cut off, he can deport them cross-border to Greece, Bulgaria or six other countries bordering Turkey’s territory, including Syria and Iran.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

No Evidence of Collusion Between Trump and Russia - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 22:56
No Evidence of Collusion Between Trump and Russia
by Stephen Lendman
Asked by Fox News host Chris Wallace about any evidence between “Trump world” and Russia on Sunday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R. CA) said:
“I’ll give you a very simple answer: no,” adding he’s “up to speed on everything. No evidence of collusion” was found between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
On March 8, said “(i)ntelligence sources say that the FBI investigated a computer tied to Donald Trump’s business but there’s no evidence to date that would warrant criminal charges against any of the president’s associates.”
“(M)onths-long FBI counterintelligence investigation” found no evidence of improper ties between Trump and/or his associates and Russia - no illegal contacts, financial transactions or encrypted communications. Nothing!
An unnamed US official was quoted, saying “I’ve never seen a case so misrepresented and leaks so damaging to a process that was meant to be conducted in secret.”
On Monday, FBI director James Comey and NSA head Mike Rogers will testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on alleged Russian US election hacking during the 2015-16 presidential campaign, along with allegations of Trump ties to Russia.
No evidence proves baseless claims. None was publicly presented. None exists. Yet false accusations persist, a deep state scheme to bash Russia and delegitimize Trump, wanting him undermined for the wrong reasons, likely aiming to remove him from office by impeachment, conviction, resignation or more sinister means.
DNC emails were leaked, not hacked, discussed in previous articles, including a Sputnik News interview with former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray.
He explained claims about Russian US election hacking were fabricated. “The source of these emails and leaks has nothing to do with Russia at all,” he said. 
“I discovered what the source was when I attended the Sam Adam's whistleblower award in Washington,” he explained. “The source of these emails comes from within official circles in Washington DC. You should look to Washington not to Moscow.”
“WikiLeaks has never published any material received from the Russian government or from any proxy of the Russian government. It's simply a completely untrue claim designed to divert attention from the content of the material.”
Misinformation and Big Lies repeated enough get most people to believe them. A GenForward poll published Friday showed over half of respondents aged 18 - 30 consider Trump illegitimate.
Only 22% approve of him, 62% disapprove. A new Gallup poll showed his approval at 37%, his lowest showing since taking office.
He entered office with a 45% approval rating. Relentless bashing took its toll. His disturbing agenda so far makes it hard to win support.
He warrants criticism for the right reasons, not the wrong ones, not for any improper relations with Russia. Nothing suggests any exist.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Israel Threatens Hezbollah and Hamas - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 22:46
Israel Threatens Hezbollah and Hamas
by Stephen Lendman
US and Israeli belligerence is the Middle East’s gravest threat. Imperial wars rage in multiple countries, likely more planned.
On Sunday, IDF chief of staff General Gady Eisenkott accused Hezbollah of “gearing up with advanced weaponry and deploying for aggressive action from the towns and villages south of the Litani” river.
“We see a clear address for the next war: Lebanon and the ‘terrorist organizations’ (sic), which are given free rein and full permission to operate from that country.”
Headed by Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s government, holding seats in parliament and cabinet positions.
It poses no threat to Israel or any other countries. It’s militarized for self-defense, facing a serious threat from Israel and America.
Hamas faces a similar threat. Israeli terror-bombing and cross-border incursions into Gaza three times since December 2008 exploded into full-scale war, more Israeli aggression likely planned.
On Monday, Shin Bet head Hadav Argaman lied, saying ahead of the April 10 - 18 Passover period, “there is no doubt that terrorist infrastructures, mostly the established one, and specifically Hamas, will try to agitate the area and carry out attacks.”
Fact: “There is no doubt” that Hamas plans no attacks - not now, not earlier or ahead. It responds to Israeli aggression, its right under international law.
Argaman: “The terrorist infrastructures of Hamas and the global jihad are working every day to carry out terror attacks within the State of Israel.”
Fact: No evidence supports his claim. Palestinians are consistently blamed for Israeli high crimes. Were Argaman’s comments hinting of more planned Israeli aggression - Gaza and/or Lebanon likely targets, along with escalated Israeli involvement in Syria?
On Monday, extremist Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon criticized his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Jaafari for calling weekend Israeli attacks on Syrian territory “terrorist operations,” saying:
“Israel will continue to defend its citizens and will act against any attempt to harm them” - signaling more Israeli “terrorist operations” to come. 
Preemptively attacking the territory of another country flagrantly violates international law. It’s longstanding US/Israeli practice, both countries guilty of the supreme crime against peace - over and over again unaccountably.
Jaafari said “Syria’s forceful response to the Israeli attacks changed the rules of the game” - referring to Russia strongly dressing down Israel’s ambassador to Moscow (more on this below), along with strong statements by Iran and Hezbollah.
Washington, Britain and France rejected a proposed Russian statement condemning Israel’s weekend attacks on Syrian territory. Moscow accused them of lacking political will to help resolve six years of conflict diplomatically.
The new US administration is like the last one, pursuing endless wars, rejecting peace. Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman indicated Israel will attack Syrian territory again, saying “we will do what we have to do.”
On Sunday, the IDF mobilized large number of reserves, coincidentally with the start of a major home front military exercise. Is Israel preparing for more war on Gaza and/or Lebanon?
Twice over the weekend, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov summoned Israeli ambassador to Moscow Carey Koren, warning him against further attacks on Syrian territory.
Will Russia intervene against Israel if they continue? With Trump escalating conflict in northern Syria, is confrontation with Moscow more likely?
Is Syria now a more dangerous flashpoint for regional war involving Iran and Lebanon?
After two months in office, Trump’s geopolitical agenda shattered hopes for peace taking precedence over endless wars.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Israel Escalating Aggression in Syria - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 22:33
Israel Escalating Aggression in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday, Lebanon’s al-Manar TV said an Israeli drone struck a car in Quneitra province near Golan in southwest Syria, killing two members of the National Defense Forces, allied with Syria’s military.
An IDF spokesperson declined to comment on the incident. Syrian media didn’t report it. Eyewitnesses said Israeli planes breached Syrian airspace in areas bordering both countries.
In January, an Israeli helicopter attack killed an Iranian general and several Hezbollah fighters in Quneitra province, including the son of the group’s late military commander, Jihad Mughniyeh.
Sunday social media reports said senior Hezbollah officer Yasser Assayed was one of the individuals killed when the vehicle he was traveling in was attacked by an Israeli drone.
Separately on Sunday, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said Israeli forces are monitoring “changes in the Lebanon and Syrian sectors. In Lebanon, Hezbollah continues its efforts to rearm with lethal and more precise weaponry whose purpose is to hit the Israeli home front…”
“The recent declarations from Beirut make it clear that in a future war, the targets will be clear: Lebanon and the organizations operating under its authority and its approval. We are protecting our security interests and acting to prevent weapons transfers to Hezbollah and will make every effort to prevent it in the future as well.”
Fact: Hezbollah poses no threat to Israel or any other country.
Fact: It requires military prepredness to be able to respond effectively to an Israeli attack. Earlier ones occurred in 1967, 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006 - besides numerous belligerent incidents.
Israel still illegally occupied Sheba Farms, 14-square miles of water-rich land near Syria’s Golan, seized in 1967 along with Lebanon’s Ghajar village.
For half a century, Israel repeatedly breached Lebanese airspace, launching attacks on its territory and neighboring Syria.
US officials wrongfully call Iran, Syria and Hezbollah the root cause of regional terrorism. America and Israel hold that distinction.
Their provocative actions seem bent on escalating Middle East conflicts. Planned regime change in Syria, if successful, would isolate Iran, leaving it vulnerable to US/Israeli attack.
Both countries seek unchallenged regional dominance, weakening Russia and China if achieved.
Ongoing US-instigated conflicts look likely to continue. Israel attacking Syrian territory twice since Friday is cause for concern. 
Are more provocations planned? Trump intends deploying thousands more US combat troops to the region, larger numbers likely earmarked for Syria. Defense Secretary Mattis and Pentagon commanders want a permanent US presence in Iraq.
Instead of cooperating with Russia in combating terrorism, confrontation seems more likely.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Aggrieved Palestinians Denied Compensation - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 22:19
Aggrieved Palestinians Denied Compensation
by Stephen Lendman
Israel brutalizes Palestinians with impunity, denying them compensation for enormous harm inflicted.
B’Tselem discussed the injustice, its report titled “Getting Off Scot-Free,” saying “Israel guaranteed itself a nearly blanket exemption from the obligation to pay compensation for all this harm.” 
“The state does not offer Palestinians harmed by its security forces a genuine opportunity to file for damages in Israeli courts, offering them no more than the illusion of being able to do so.”
Broadening the definition of “warfare activity” made it virtually impossible for aggrieved Palestinians to be compensated for enormous harm they’ve suffered.
Israel gets away with cold-blooded murder, torture, land theft and other high crimes with impunity. Serious violations of international law are ignored.
Apartheid viciousness persists. No redress is possible for serious human and civil rights offenses against Palestinians.
International community silence or refusal to act responsibly lets Israel do whatever it pleases, no matter the human cost.
Israeli law requires compensation for damages resulting from negligence - except during so-called “warfare activity.”
In the aftermath of the early 1990s first intifada, thousands of Palestinian suits were filed in Israeli courts, largely in vain. Cases dragged on for years.
Palestinians awarded compensation had to settle for minuscule amounts, far less than they deserved.
To avoid paying any future compensation, Israel “broaden(ed) the exemption from liability for damage its security forces caused Palestinians…”
Legislative and judicial changes made it virtually impossible for Palestinians to be compensated for harm caused them by security forces.
Israel justified the unjustifiable by claiming immunity from liability for “warfare activity,” saying earlier they paid meritless claims, and maintaining it can’t fact-check Palestinian claims.
In other words, it invented reasons to deny Palestinians compensation they deserve. No amount can make amends for the pain and suffering they endured.
B’Tselem called its arguments “unfounded.” Israeli persecution and wars mostly affect innocent civilians in harm’s way. The state is obligated to pay damages for its lawless acts.
Israel ignores its crimes. When investigations are conducted, they’re whitewashed. “When Israel feels it to be in its best interests, it boasts of having an efficient military law enforcement system with effective investigative abilities for handling cases in which Palestinians were harmed by security forces in the Occupied Territories,” B’Tselem explained. 
“Yet, when it finds it expedient, the state argues it cannot carry out this self-same task” - when aggrieved parties are Palestinians.
Israel picks and chooses arguments suiting its own self-interest. It affords itself self-designated occupation rights, avoiding obligations required under international law.
It claims no responsibility for the consequences of its brutality against defenseless Palestinians. Fewer legal claims are being filed against Israel because of the futility of seeking justice.
With rare exceptions, the state is unaccountable for human and civil rights violations against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
“Government officials are shielded from responsibility a priori, with no state body supervising their action,” B’Tselem explained.
Military law enforcement in the Territories, affecting Arabs, not Jews, “functions as a whitewashing mechanism.”
The vast majority of cases against Israeli military or government officials are closed without charges or other actions taken.
Israel’s High Court approves “almost every human rights violation that the state wished to carry out in the Occupied Territories: punitive home demolition, administrative detention, restricting freedom of movement, expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, building the Separation Barrier, imposing a blockade on Gaza, taking over land, removing entire communities from their land, separating families - to name but a few,” B’Tselem explained.
June 2017 marks 50 years of oppressive, illegal Israeli occupation. The state is going all-out to preserve it, wanting Palestinians denied their fundamental rights in perpetuity.
Chances for resolving longstanding conflict are virtually nil.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Five Creepy Things Your ISP Could Do if Congress Repeals the FCC’s Privacy Protections - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 16:05

Why are we so worried about Congress repealing the FCC’s privacy rules for ISPs? Because we’ve seen ISPs do some disturbing things in the past to invade their users’ privacy. Here are five examples of creepy practices that could make a resurgence if we don’t stop Congress now.

Call Congress and help keep creepy ISP practices a thing of the past!

5. Selling your data to marketers

Which ISPs did it before? We don’t know—but they’re doing it as you read this!

It’s no secret that many ISPs think they’re sitting on a gold mine of user data that they want to sell to marketers. What some people don’t realize is that some are already doing it. (Unfortunately they’re getting away with this for now because the FCC’s rules haven’t gone into effect yet.)

According to Ad Age, SAP sells a service called Consumer Insights 365, which “ingests regularly updated data representing as many as 300 cellphone events per day for each of the 20 million to 25 million mobile subscribers.” What type of data does Consumer Insights 365 “ingest?” Again, according to Ad Age, “The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices… It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers' web browsing history.” And who is selling SAP their customers’ data? Ad Age says “SAP won't disclose the carriers providing this data.”

In other words, mobile broadband providers are too afraid to tell you, their customers, that they’re selling data about your location, demographics, and browsing history. Maybe that’s because it’s an incredibly creepy thing to do, and these ISPs don’t want to get caught red-handed.

And speaking of getting caught red-handed, that brings us to…

4. Hijacking your searches

Which ISPs did it before? Charter, Cogent, DirecPC, Frontier, Wide Open West (to name a few)

Back in 2011, several ISPs were caught red-handed working with a company called Paxfire to hijack  their customers’ search queries to Bing, Yahoo!, and Google. Here’s how it worked.

When you entered a search term in your browser’s search box or URL bar, your ISP directed that query to Paxfire instead of to an actual search engine. Paxfire then checked what you were searching for to see if it matched a list of companies that had paid them for more traffic. If your query matched one of these brands (e.g. you had typed in “apple”, “dell”, or “wsj”, to name a few) then Paxfire would send you directly to that company’s website instead of sending you to a search engine and showing you all the search results (which is what you’d normally expect). The company would then presumably give Paxfire some money, and Paxfire would presumably give your ISP some money.

In other words, ISPs were hijacking their customers’ search queries and redirecting them to a place customers hadn’t asked for, all while pocketing a little cash on the side. Oh, and the ISPs in question hadn’t bothered to tell their customers they’d be sending their search traffic to a third party that might record some of it.

It’s hard to believe we’re still on the subtle end of the creepy spectrum. But things are about to get a whole lot more in-your-face creepy, with…

3. Snooping through your traffic and inserting ads

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Charter, CMA

This is the biggest one people are worried about, and with good reason—ISPs have every incentive to snoop through your traffic, record what you’re browsing, and then inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history.

Plenty of ISPs have done it before—AT&T did it on some of their paid wifi hotspots; Charter did it with its broadband customers; and a smaller ISP called CMA did the same.

We don’t think this one requires much explaining for folks to understand just how privacy invasive this is. But if you need a reminder, we’re talking about the company that carries all your Internet traffic examining each packet in detail1 to build up a profile on you, which they can then use to inject even more ads into your browsing experience. (Or, even worse—they could hire a third-party company like NebuAd or Phorm to do all this for them.) That’s your ISP straight up spying on you to sell ads—and turning the creepiness factor up to eleven.2 And speaking of spying, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention…

2. Pre-installing software on your phone and recording every URL you visit

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile

When you buy a new Android phone, you probably expect it to come with some bloatware—apps installed by the manufacturer or carrier that you’re never going to use. You don’t expect it to come preinstalled with software that logs which apps you use and what websites you visit and sends data back to your ISP. But that’s exactly what was uncovered when security researcher and EFF client Trevor Eckhart did some digging into Carrier IQ, an application that came preinstalled on phones sold by AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

This is even creepier than number three on our list (watching your traffic and injecting ads), because at least with number three, your ISP can only see your unencrypted traffic. With Carrier IQ, your ISP could also see what encrypted (HTTPS) URLs you visit and record what apps you use.

Simply put, preinstalled software like Carrier IQ gives your ISP a window into everything you do on your phone. While mobile ISPs may have backed down on using Carrier IQ in the past (and the situation led to a class action lawsuit), you can bet that if the FCC’s privacy rules are rolled back there’ll be ISPs be eager to start something similar.

But none of these creepy practices holds a candle to the ultimate, creepiest thing ISPs want to do with your traffic, which is…

1. Injecting undetectable, undeletable tracking cookies in all of your HTTP traffic

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Verizon

The number one creepiest thing on our list of privacy-invasive practices comes courtesy of Verizon (and AT&T, which quickly killed a similar program after Verizon started getting blowback).

Back in 2014 Verizon Wireless decided that it was a good idea to insert supercookies into all of its mobile customers’ traffic. Yes, you read that right—it’s as if some Verizon exec thought “inserting tracking headers into all our customers’ traffic can’t have a down side, can it?” Oh, and, for far too long, they didn’t bother to explicitly tell their customers ahead of time.

But it gets worse. Initially, there was no way for customers to turn this “feature” off. It didn’t matter if you were browsing in Incognito or Private Browsing mode, using a tracker-blocker, or had enabled Do-Not-Track: Verizon ignored all this and inserted a unique identifier into all your unencrypted outbound traffic anyway. According to the FCC, it wasn’t until “two years after Verizon Wireless first began inserting UIDH, that the company updated its privacy policy to disclose its use of UIDH and began to offer consumers the opportunity to opt-out of the insertion of unique identifier headers into their Internet traffic.”

As a result, anyone—not just advertisers—could track you as you browsed the web. Even if you cleared your cookies, advertisers could use Verizon’s tracking header to resurrect them, which led to something called “zombie cookies.” If that doesn’t sound creepy, we don’t know what does.

As you can see, there’s a lot at stake in this fight. The FCC privacy rules congress is trying to kill would limit all of these creepy practices (and even ban some of them outright). So don’t forget to call your senators and representative right now—because if we don’t stop Congress from killing the FCC’s ISP privacy rules now, we may end up with a lot more than five creepy ISP practices in the future.

Call Congress and help keep creepy ISP practices a thing of the past!

  • 1. To be absolutely precise, your ISP could track and record all your HTTP traffic, and the domain name you visit for HTTPS websites.
  • 2. We’ve heard some arguments that is just what Google or Facebook do, but there’s a big difference. You can choose not to use Google or Facebook, and it’s easy to install free tools that block their tracking on other parts of the web. EFF even makes such a tool, called Privacy Badger! But changing ISPs or paying for a VPN is hard (and some people don’t have more than one choice of ISP). For more, see our post on busting three ISP privacy rollback myths.

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Categories: Aggregated News

Israeli War Minister Threatens Syria - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 03:17
Israeli War Minister Threatens Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Israel reserves the right to attack Syria preemptively at its discretion for any reason any time - a flagrant international law violation.
If Syria responds defensively, its universally acknowledged right, Israel threatens greater aggression.
Its ultranationalist, lunatic fringe war minister Avigdor Lieberman said “(t)he next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes, we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation.”
In other words, if Syria exercises its right of self-defense in response to an Israeli attack on its territory, the IDF will unleash greater aggression than before.
The world community so far is silent in the face of Israel’s announced intention to violate international laws governing warfare, besides numerous previous breaches against Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, along with subversion against Iran and other nations.
Israeli warplanes preemptively attacked targets in Syria numerous times since Obama launched war in March 2011 - on the pretext of destroying weapons it claims are intended for Hezbollah, no credible evidence proving it, no justification whatever for attacking a nonbelligerent nation for any reason, the gravest high crime against peace.
Lieberman lied, saying “(o)ur central problem, and this above and beyond all of the other issues, is the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon.”
“Every time we identify a transfer like this, we will work to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons. On this issue there will not be any compromise.”
Israel’s only threats are ones it invents - to wage war on Palestine, as well as partner with Washington’s regional conflicts.
Overnight last Thursday, its warplanes terror-bombed several targets in Syria. A Syrian army statement said targets near Palmyra were struck to help “ISIS terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of terrorist” fighters.
Unlike previous incidents, they were counted by anti-aircraft surface-to-air (SAM) missiles.
Syria said four Israeli warplanes illegally entered its airspace, one downed over “occupied ground,” another damaged. 
Israel denied it, saying its warplanes returned safely. Perhaps not, given Lieberman’s anti-Syria rage.
Peace and stability are anathema to the imperial agendas of Israel and America. They represent humanity’s greatest threat.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Crimea Reunification Day Commemoration - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 03:07
Crimea Reunification Day Commemoration
by Stephen Lendman
March 18 marked the third anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, following the March 16 referendum, correcting a historic mistake.
An overwhelming 96.77% of  Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia. Turnout was 83.1%. A 95.6% majority supported reunification in Sevastopol - voter turnout at 89.5%.
Crimea’s Supreme Council called ousting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a coup, putschists replacing it illegitimate.
The Russian reunification referendum was held in response to what Crimeans reject, refusing to be ruled Nazi-infested fascists.
Putin obliged them, signing a decree affirming their wishes. Russia’s parliament overwhelmingly approved it. So did its Constitutional Court.
A document signed in the Kremlin said reunification was “based on the free and voluntary expression of will by the peoples of Crimea at a nationwide referendum, held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on March 16, 2014, during which the people of Crimea made the decision to reunite with Russia.”
Two new Russian constituent territories were formed - the Republic of Crimea and Federal City of Sevastopol, given “special autonomous status.”
Crimea’s land border with Ukraine became Russia’s state border. Crimeans automatically became Russian citizens. Those wishing to retain Ukrainian citizenship were free to do so.
Ukrainian forces manning Crimean military facilities overwhelmingly decided to join Russia’s armed forces. They got transport help to relocate their families and belongings.
On Saturday, Crimeans celebrated. Thousands took to the streets. In Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, and Sevastopol, rallies were held. Military bands played. Artists sang patriotic and other songs. Crimean creative groups performed.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s president “could not come to Crimea” this year. “(I)t is hardly necessary to expect him to travel to Crimea every year.” 
“He already goes there regularly enough. The fact that he is not present at this or that festive event does not mean that this day somehow lost its significance for him.”
“He keeps the situation around Crimea under personal control, and I am convinced that he would take the same steps and decisions and would take the responsibility as he did” in March 2014.
Months later, he said Crimean reunification was historically closed. The territory remains part of Russia. Its residents won’t be betrayed by returning it to Ukraine.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Coverup of Humanitarian Disaster in Mosul - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 22:48
Coverup of Humanitarian Disaster in Mosul
by Stephen Lendman
US-led terror-bombing along with Iraqi ground forces are systematically destroying the city, not liberating it as claimed.
Western media scoundrels and international NGOs are ignoring a humanitarian disaster far worse than what affected East Aleppo.
Government and allied forces, greatly aided by Russian airpower, saved the lives of tens of thousands of defenseless Aleppo residents, held hostage by US-supported al-Nusra terrorists.
Media scoundrels misportrayed heroic efforts as aggression. Big Lies substituted for hard truths. Liberating Aleppo was a glorious triumph, one Syrians will long remember and commemorate, grateful to Russia for its vital help.
Last fall through December, John Kerry and other US officials disgracefully accused Russia and Syria of war crimes, ignoring horrendous ones committed by US forces in all its war theaters - by terror-bombing, special forces and other combat troops on the ground, along with terrorist fighters recruited as imperial foot soldiers.
Media scoundrels ignore genocidal high crimes committed by America and its rogue allies.
Last month, Sergey Lavrov “remind(ed) (his) Western counterparts about…the humanitarian” disaster in Mosul - “much worse than it was in eastern Aleppo,” he stressed, yet getting little or no Western media attention.
Before fighting escalated in recent weeks, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “(t)he humanitarian situation continues to degrade.”
“People are running out of food. And the most terrifying thing is that no one knows what is to be further. The situation is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
US-led Western nations are “out of touch with reality," she added. Escalating ground fighting and US-led terror-bombing made things much worse.
Before its capture by US-supported ISIS fighters in mid-2014, Mosul had around 2.5 million residents. Less than one million remain, held hostage by terrorists.
Routes to the city were cut off months ago. Residents lack access to food, potable water, medical care and electricity. Conditions are dire.
Humanitarian groups haven’t entered besieged parts of the city in over two years. Desperate residents aren’t being helped.
During the battle for Aleppo, Russia and Syria made heroic efforts to supply humanitarian aid to trapped residents.
America, its rogue allies and the UN supplied nothing - nor are they aiding Mosul residents in need.
Indiscriminate terror-bombing and ground fighting continues causing large numbers of casualties, including a devastating toll on civilians, massacred in cold blood, media scoundrels ignoring the carnage - portraying mass slaughter and destruction as a liberating struggle.
According to Norwegian Refugee Council’s Becky Bakr Abdulla, “families…managing to come out are completely traumatized.” 
“They've got nothing left. No homes…nothing. Their children have not attended school for over two years.”
“(T)hey've lost many of their loved ones and there are many, many examples of people who have actually died on their way out.” They never “made it to safety.”
Western media and the international community largely ignore the devastating humanitarian disaster, Abdullah added - shocking contempt for the lives and welfare of devastated people, suffering enormously because of US imperial war.
Interviewed by Sputnik News, a woman in the Hamam al Alil refugee camp appealed for desperately needed humanitarian aid. Without it, people “are going to die,” she said.
Camp conditions are deplorable. “We have no sanitation. The garbage needs to be removed. The water is very dirty. We can’t drink it.”
Conditions for Mosul residents remaining trapped is much worse. Terror-bombing and ground fighting continues taking many lives.
Maria Zakharova expressed outrage over the “hushing up of what is happening” - devastating fighting along with dire humanitarian conditions.
Since fighting began last October, around 100,000 residents managed to flee the city, risking their lives to do it. 
An estimated 750,000 remain trapped. The US-led campaign in Syria is about regime change. 
In Iraq, there’s none to change. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi serves as a convenient US puppet, supporting its imperial ravaging.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Iran's Exemplary Refugee Program - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 22:36
Iran’s Exemplary Refugee Program
by Stephen Lendman
Trump wants Muslims from designated countries barred from entering America - on the phony pretext of protecting the nation’s borders and national security concerns.
Israel only accepts Jewish refugees and asylum seekers. 
Brussels, representing 28 EU countries, conspired with Turkey to punish desperate refugees needing help, turning their backs on them contemptuously.
EU nations sealed their borders, wanting a human flood created by US-led NATO wars barred from entering their countries,  enforcing collective punishment on people in need, flagrantly violating the European Convention on Human Rights.
Iran’s refugee settlement program stands in marked contrast to uncaring Western nations and Israel.
On Wednesday, Sivanka Dhanapala, UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Iran praised the Islamic Republic for its “exemplary” settlement program, saying:
“In a world where you have multiple bad stories about hosting refugees, I think Iran is really a good news story.”
“It's a story that’s not told often enough. The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open.”
Soviet Russia’s 1980s war in Afghanistan displaced around six million people, Iran and Pakistan absorbing most of them.
The Islamic Republic still shelters about one million registered Afghan refugees. Around two million more reside in the country, making its refugee population one of the world’s largest, according to the UN.
“We have also worked with the government on incorporating refugees into a government-sponsored health insurance scheme which is a ground-breaking development not just for Iran but globally for refugees,” Dhanapala explained.
The UN praised Imam Khamenei’s 2015 directive, calling on education administrators to let all Afghan children attend Iranian schools, documented or not.
The UN worked with Tehran’s government in giving refugees access to government-sponsored healthcare, a groundbreaking initiative with global implications for refugees overall if the world body is able to expand the program to other countries.
Refugees in Iran have no fear of US-style Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arresting them, placing them in harsh detention facilities ahead of deporting them, separating family member from each other.
Iran’s refugee settlement program is humane. America spurns people in need, including its most vulnerable citizens and a human flood created by its imperial wars.
Tehran is a world leader in helping displaced refugees and asylum seekers in need. Yet Trump wants its citizens banned from entering America.
Iran provides shelter, sustenance, medical care and education for refugees in need. America spurns them, one of its many high crimes against humanity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Escalating East Asia Tensions - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 22:17
Escalating East Asia Tensions
by Stephen Lendman
Trump straightaway in office showed he’s the latest in a long line of US warrior presidents - escalating imperial wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Afghanistan is likely next. Will he launch new wars besides ongoing ones? Are Iran and North Korea on his target list? Are China and Russia at risk? 
Unthinkable nuclear war remains a possibility by design or accident. America’s bipartisan criminal class should terrify everyone.
Last week, neocon Senators Marco Rubio (R. FL) and Ben Cardin (D. MD) introduced legislation to punish China for constructing artificial islands in its territorial waters.
Rubio said proposed legislation would require Trump to “impose sanctions and prohibit visas for Chinese individuals and entities who contribute to construction or development projects, and those who threaten the peace, security or stability of the South China Sea or East China Sea.”
If enacted, the measure would prohibit investments in Chinese companies involved in the construction. Foreign aid to nations recognizing China’s territorial rights would be halted.
Foreign banks doing business with sanctioned Chinese companies would be penalized.
China’s Foreign Ministry blasted the proposed legislation, calling Rubio and Cardin “arrogan(t) and ignoran(t).” 
The measure was in the works before Secretary of State Tillerson’s Asia trip, wrapping up in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday.
While there, North Korea tested a powerful new high-thrust rocket engine, its state media reported - designed to enhance the country’s “capability in the field of outer space.” 
The test was apparently timed as a show of resistance to US bullying and threats during Tillerson’s China visit. 
He belligerently said everything is “on the table” in dealing with the DPRK, including war. Tough talk got a tough response.
According to Pyongyang KCNA state media, “(t)he development and completion of a new-type high-thrust engine would help consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development.”
“(L)eader Kim Jong-un noted that the success made in the current test marked a great event of historic significance as it declared a new birth of the Juche-based rocket industry.”
Pyongyang said the engine was developed for satellite launches and other space-related activities. Testing it during Tillerson’s visit didn’t go down well with him or Washington.
Last week, during provocative US-South Korea war games Pyongyang considers preparation for war, it launched four missiles, simulating an attack on US regional facilities.
Longstanding US hostility toward North Korea forces it to prepare for another war on the peninsula, affecting East Asia if launched.
If nuclear weapons are used, horrific devastation and massive loss of life would follow.
China urges diplomacy over confrontation to prevent the unthinkable from happening.
America’s rage for war gives Beijing great cause for concern - escalating regional tensions sure to be discussed when Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump meet next month at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Scotland Independence Referendum 2.0? - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 22:04
Scotland Independence Referendum 2.0?
by Stephen Lendman
Ahead of Scotland’s September 2014 independence referendum, most UK and independent polls showed the outcome was too close to call.
In the run-up to the vote, pro-independence supporters gained strength. Some analysts believed enough to win. Instead they lost by a 55 - 45% margin.
Critics claimed vote-tampering. Registered voters found their names stricken from rolls, disenfranchising them.
Observers were confined to perimeter areas, unable to monitor vote counting.
Whitehall and Downing Street oppose separatism. One issue is North Sea oil. Scotland is home to Britain’s HMNB Clyde and HMS naval bases. The UK’s nuclear weapons are maintained there.
Was Scotland’s referendum rigged to keep Britain intact? Election rigging is longstanding practice in America. Maybe Brits operate the same way.
Suspecting fraud, thousands of Scottish voters wanted referendum results recounted. It never happened.
Will a second time around turn out any differently than the first vote? On March 18, addressing the Scottish National Party, SNP leader/first Scotland minister Nicola Sturgeon announced another independence referendum.
Resounding applause followed, not in Whitehall and Downing Street. Prime Minister Theresa May wants it blocked, saying “now is not the time.”
“To be talking about an independence referendum would, I think, make it more difficult for us to be able to get the right deal for Scotland and the right deal for the UK.”
“And, more than that, I think it would not be fair to the people of Scotland because they’d be asked to take a crucial decision without the necessary information, without knowing what the future partnership will be or what the alternative of an independent Scotland would look like.”
Sturgeon stressed “Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s,” saying a second referendum vote would come after Brexit terms are clear.
She blasted May for refusing to fairly address Scotland’s future. She needs prime ministerial and parliamentary permission to hold the referendum. 
So far, an online petition has over 30,000 pro-referendum signatures. If 100,000 or more are collected, a UK parliamentary debate must follow.
According to London’s Guardian, polls suggest suggest a tight race if another referendum is held. The Guardian says it’s “likely. The question is when.”
Instead of staying out of Scottish affairs, NYT editors said its “independence can wait,” calling another vote “(im)prudent.”
Saying “until the Brexit negotiations end, there are too many unknowns for voters to make an informed decision” amounts to wanting them denied the right to decide their future whenever they wish.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

UN Agency Head's Forced Resignation - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 03:36
UN Agency Head’s Forced Resignation
by Stephen Lendman
Pro-Western UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres showed he’s no different from his disgraceful predecessors. 
He acted on orders from Washington. The Palestinian BDS National Committee denounced him for removing from the UN’s web site a report “Israel does not want you to read,” it said.
“The real news is this time around, Israel, with all its influence in Washington, cannot put the genie back into the bottle.”
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) head Rima Khalaf performed a vital service for Palestinians and humanity - publishing documented evidence of longstanding Israeli viciousness for the whole world to know.
She was forced to resign for refusing to retract the damning report, calling Israel an apartheid state, an indisputable fact - written by distinguished academics Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley.
They proved their accusation “beyond a reasonable doubt” - based on definitions of apartheid by the International Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Israel is guilty as charged. In announcing her resignation, Khalef said she acted after what she called “pressure from the secretary-general to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians.”
“I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report,” she stressed.
“It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary general to renounce the report,” adding the UN “scrubbed (it) from its web site.”
Titled “Israeli Practices toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” here’s the executive summary:
“Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1 
Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid 
Executive Summary 
This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. 
Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law. 
The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). 
The report relies for its definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the Apartheid Convention): The term "the crime of apartheid", which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to... inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them. 
Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, according to which: 
“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts...committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime. 
Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia). 
The legal approach to the matter of apartheid adopted by this report should not be confused with usage of the term in popular discourse as an expression of opprobrium. 
Seeing apartheid as discrete acts and practices (such as the “apartheid wall”), a phenomenon generated by anonymous structural conditions like capitalism (“economic apartheid”), or private social behaviour on the part of certain racial groups towards others (social racism) may have its place in certain contexts. 
However, this report anchors its definition of apartheid in international law, which carries with it responsibilities for States, as specified in international instruments. 
The choice of evidence is guided by the Apartheid Convention, which sets forth that the crime of apartheid consists of discrete inhuman acts, but that such acts acquire the status of crimes against humanity only if they intentionally serve the core purpose of racial domination. The Rome Statute specifies in its definition the presence of an “institutionalized regime” serving the “intention” of racial domination. 
Since “purpose” and “intention” lie at the core of both definitions, this report examines factors ostensibly separate from the Palestinian dimension — especially, the doctrine of Jewish statehood as expressed in law and the design of Israeli State institutions — to establish beyond doubt the presence of such a core purpose. 
That the Israeli regime is designed for this core purpose was found to be evident in the body of laws, only some of which are discussed in the report for reasons of scope. One prominent example is land policy. 
The Israeli Basic Law (Constitution) mandates that land held by the State of Israel, the Israeli Development Authority or the Jewish National Fund shall not be transferred in any manner, placing its management permanently under their authority. 
The State Property Law of 1951 provides for the reversion of property (including land) to the State in any area “in which the law of the State of Israel applies”. 
The Israel Lands Authority (ILA) manages State land, which accounts for 93 per cent of the land within the internationally recognized borders of Israel and is by law closed to use, development or ownership by non-Jews. Those laws reflect the concept of “public purpose” as expressed in the Basic Law. 
Such laws may be changed by Knesset vote, but the Basic Law: Knesset prohibits any political party from challenging that public purpose. Effectively, Israeli law renders opposition to racial domination illegal. 
Demographic engineering is another area of policy serving the purpose of maintaining Israel as a Jewish State. Most well known is Israeli law conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country. 
The World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency are vested with legal authority as agencies of the State of Israel to facilitate Jewish immigration and preferentially serve the interests of Jewish citizens in matters ranging from land use to public development planning and other matters deemed vital to Jewish statehood. 
Some laws involving demographic engineering are expressed in coded language, such as those that allow Jewish councils to reject applications for residence from Palestinian citizens. 
Israeli law normally allows spouses of Israeli citizens to relocate to Israel but uniquely prohibits this option in the case of Palestinians from the occupied territory or beyond. 
On a far larger scale, it is a matter of Israeli policy to reject the return of any Palestinian refugees and exiles (totalling some six million people) to territory under Israeli control. 
Two additional attributes of a systematic regime of racial domination must be present to qualify the regime as an instance of apartheid. 
The first involves the identification of the oppressed persons as belonging to a specific “racial group”. 
This report accepts the definition of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of “racial discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. 
On that basis, this report argues that in the geopolitical context of Palestine, Jews and Palestinians can be considered “racial groups”. 
Furthermore, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is cited expressly in the Apartheid Convention. 
The second attribute is the boundary and character of the group or groups involved. The status of the Palestinians as a people entitled to exercise the right of self- determination has been legally settled, most authoritatively by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 advisory opinion on Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 
On that basis, the report examines the treatment by Israel of the Palestinian people as a whole, considering the distinct circumstances of geographic and juridical fragmentation of the Palestinian people as a condition imposed by Israel. 
(Annex II addresses the issue of a proper identification of the “country” responsible for the denial of Palestinian rights under international law.) 
This report finds that the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime. 
It first examines how the history of war, partition, de jure and de facto annexation and prolonged occupation in Palestine has led to the Palestinian people being divided into different geographic regions administered by distinct sets of law. 
This fragmentation operates to stabilize the Israeli regime of racial domination over the Palestinians and to weaken the will and capacity of the Palestinian people to mount a unified and effective resistance. Different methods are deployed depending on where Palestinians live. This is the core means by which Israel enforces apartheid and at the same time impedes international recognition of how the system works as a complementary whole to comprise an apartheid regime. 
Since 1967, Palestinians as a people have lived in what the report refers to as four “domains”, in which the fragments of the Palestinian population are ostensibly treated differently but share in common the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime. Those domains are:  1. Civil law, with special restrictions, governing Palestinians who live as citizens of Israel;
2. Permanent residency law governing Palestinians living in the city of Jerusalem;
3. Military law governing Palestinians, including those in refugee camps, living since 1967 under conditions of belligerent occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
4. Policy to preclude the return of Palestinians, whether refugees or exiles, living outside territory under Israel’s control.
Domain 1 embraces about 1.7 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. For the first 20 years of the country’s existence, they lived under martial law and to this day are subjected to oppression on the basis of not being Jewish. 
That policy of domination manifests itself in inferior services, restrictive zoning laws and limited budget allocations made to Palestinian communities; in restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities; and in the mostly segregated landscape in which Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel live. 
Palestinian political parties can campaign for minor reforms and better budgets, but are legally prohibited by the Basic Law from challenging legislation maintaining the racial regime. 
The policy is reinforced by the implications of the distinction made in Israel between “citizenship” (ezrahut) and “nationality” (le’um): all Israeli citizens enjoy the former, but only Jews enjoy the latter. 
“National” rights in Israeli law signify Jewish-national rights. The struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel for equality and civil reforms under Israeli law is thus isolated by the regime from that of Palestinians elsewhere. 
Domain 2 covers the approximately 300,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, who experience discrimination in access to education, health care, employment, residency and building rights. 
They also suffer from expulsions and home demolitions, which serve the Israeli policy of “demographic balance” in favour of Jewish residents. 
East Jerusalem Palestinians are classified as permanent residents, which places them in a separate category designed to prevent their demographic and, importantly, electoral weight being added to that of Palestinians citizens in Israel. 
As permanent residents, they have no legal standing to challenge Israeli law. Moreover, openly identifying with Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory politically carries the risk of expulsion to the West Bank and loss of the right even to visit Jerusalem. 
Thus, the urban epicentre of Palestinian political life is caught inside a legal bubble that curtails its inhabitants’ capacity to oppose the apartheid regime lawfully. 
Domain 3 is the system of military law imposed on approximately 6.6 million Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestinian territory, 4.7 million of them in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip. 
The territory is administered in a manner that fully meets the definition of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention: except for the provision on genocide, every illustrative “inhuman act” listed in the Convention is routinely and systematically practiced by Israel in the West Bank. 
Palestinians are governed by military law, while the approximately 350,000 Jewish settlers are governed by Israeli civil law. 
The racial character of this situation is further confirmed by the fact that all West Bank Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law on the basis of being Jewish, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. 
This dual legal system, problematic in itself, is indicative of an apartheid regime when coupled with the racially discriminatory management of land and development administered by Jewish-national institutions, which are charged with administering “State land” in the interest of the Jewish population. 
In support of the overall findings of this report, annex I sets out in more detail the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory that constitute violations of article II of the Apartheid Convention. 
Domain 4 refers to the millions of Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles, most of whom live in neighbouring countries. 
They are prohibited from returning to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel defends its rejection of the Palestinians’ return in frankly racist language: it is alleged that Palestinians constitute a “demographic threat” and that their return would alter the demographic character of Israel to the point of eliminating it as a Jewish State. 
The refusal of the right of return plays an essential role in the apartheid regime by ensuring that the Palestinian population in Mandate Palestine does not grow to a point that would threaten Israeli military control of the territory and/or provide the demographic leverage for Palestinian citizens of Israel to demand (and obtain) full democratic rights, thereby eliminating the Jewish character of the State of Israel. 
Although domain 4 is confined to policies denying Palestinians their right of repatriation under international law, it is treated in this report as integral to the system of oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole, given its crucial role in demographic terms in maintaining the apartheid regime. 
This report finds that, taken together, the four domains constitute one comprehensive regime developed for the purpose of ensuring the enduring domination over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control in whatever category. 
To some degree, the differences in treatment accorded to Palestinians have been provisionally treated as valid by the United Nations, in the absence of an assessment of whether they constitute a form of apartheid. In the light of thisreport’s findings, this long-standing fragmented international approach may require review. 
In the interests of fairness and completeness, the report examines several counter- arguments advanced by Israel and supporters of its policies denying the applicability of the Apartheid Convention to the case of Israel-Palestine. 
They include claims that: the determination of Israel to remain a Jewish State is consistent with practices of other States, such as France; Israel does not owe Palestinian non-citizens equal treatment with Jews precisely because they are not citizens; and Israeli treatment of the Palestinians reflects no “purpose” or “intent” to dominate, but rather is a temporary state of affairs imposed on Israel by the realities of ongoing conflict and security requirements. 
The report shows that none of those arguments stands up to examination. A further claim that Israel cannot be considered culpable for crimes of apartheid because Palestinian citizens of Israel have voting rights rests on two errors of legal interpretation: an overly literal comparison with South African apartheid policy and detachment of the question of voting rights from other laws, especially provisions of the Basic Law that prohibit political parties from challenging the Jewish, and hence racial, character of the State. 
The report concludes that the weight of the evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity, the prohibition of which is considered jus cogens in international customary law. 
The international community, especially the United Nations and its agencies, and Member States, have a legal obligation to act within the limits of their capabilities to prevent and punish instances of apartheid that are responsibly brought to their attention. 
More specifically, States have a collective duty: (a) not to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful; (b) not to aid or assist a State in maintaining an apartheid regime; and (c) to cooperate with the United Nations and other States in bringing apartheid regimes to an end. 
Civil society institutions and individuals also have a moral and political duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise, and to exert pressure on Israel in order to persuade it to dismantle apartheid structures in compliance with international law. 
The report ends with general and specific recommendations to the United Nations, national Governments, and civil society and private actors on actions they should take in view of the finding that Israel maintains a regime of apartheid in its exercise of control over the Palestinian people.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Tillerson in Beijing - Sun, 19/03/2017 - 03:19
Tillerson in Beijing
by Stephen Lendman
Ahead of Tillerson’s visit, Trump bashed North Korea unjustifiably, saying it’s “behaving badly,” ignoring US high crimes, adding “China has done little to help.”
Beijing and Moscow strongly object to Washington’s deployment of THAAD missile systems in South Korea, aimed at the DPRK and their countries, threatening their national security, giving the Pentagon first-strike capability - why they’re being installed, not for defensive purposes as claimed.
Tillerson met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, more talks scheduled for Sunday.
Major issues discussed included North Korea, bilateral trade, disagreement of sovereign Beijing South China Sea territorial waters, and provocative installation of THAAD missiles.
Tillerson expressed a “sense of urgency” to curb Korean peninsula tensions. Wang urged Washington to remain “coolheaded.” US aggressiveness against Pyongyang affects China’s security.
During a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said “(w)hile we acknowledge China's opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions.”
He blamed a nonexistent DPRK threat as justification for installing THAAD missiles. They’re designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles during their terminal stage.
In response, Beijing suspended tour package sales to South Koreans. It’s boycotting some of the country’s products.
Tillerson came to pressure China to support America’s regional agenda. Beijing wants peace, stability and good relations, but not at the expense of compromising its sovereign rights.
On Saturday, both sides agreed on containing Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.
China wants things settled diplomatically. Tillerson wants a new approach. Everything is on the table, he said, before arriving in Beijing, including political, economic and military measures.
China’s Foreign Ministry called on all sides to end “a vicious cycle that could spin out of control.” Pyongyang justifiably fears Washington is preparing a “preemptive strike.”
Bilateral US/China trade issues are contentious. Trump calls Beijing a currency manipulator. He threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.
Wang and Tillerson agreed to improve communications between both governments, stressing principles of non-confrontation.
Wang said his counterpart’s visit was an important step in preparing for an April Xi/Trump summit in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, tentatively scheduled for April 6 and 7.
Both leaders spoke by phone in late January. Next month, they’ll meet for the first time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Angela Merkel in Washington - Sat, 18/03/2017 - 22:47
Angela Merkel in Washington
by Stephen Lendman
Merkel’s meeting with Trump was strained at best, given his earlier disparaging remarks about her.
“What Merkel did to Germany is a shame,” he said. “It is sad, sad shame what’s happened to Germany.”
“I have friends in Germany. They want to leave…These are people that two years ago were telling me that it’s the greatest place on earth and now they want to leave.”
“I don’t know what happened to her. I don’t know what her thinking was, but I don’t think they are going to recover from it very easily if at all.”
He referred to Merkel’s willingness to accept large numbers of refugees from war-torn countries - displaced by US-led NATO wars, the largest numbers since WW II, people fleeing for their lives, seeking safe havens because of America’s imperial madness.
Separately, Trump said “I think Angela Merkel made a tragic mistake with the migrants. If you don’t treat the situation competently and firmly…it’s the end of Europe. You could face real revolutions.”
Fact: Desperate people fleeing war zones are refugees and asylum seekers. They’re not migrants, a term used to denigrate their humanity, downplaying their suffering.
Fact: Europe isn’t threatened by foreign arrivals, just its willingness to be subservient to US policy, continue flawed EU and Eurozone alliances doomed to fail, and harshness against its people in deference to monied interests.
Oddly, Trump declined to shake hands. They’re an odd couple, in sync on some issues, differing on others. They put on a brave face for a press conference.
Merkel’s said it’s better to talk to one another instead of about each other, adding “(s)ometimes it’s difficult to find compromise, but that is what we have been elected for.” 
Trump said “our citizens must always come first.” Saying both leaders will work together on resolving conflict in Ukraine left unexplained why state of Oklahoma national guard forces are training and advising Kiev’s military, aiding its war on Donbass.
Separately a senior Trump official said he’s “very interested in hearing the chancellor's views on her experience interacting with Putin.”
Germany’s DW News said their first meeting “went reasonably well…their public statements…underscor(ing) the(ir) palpable wish to restart (a more cordial) personal relationship…”
Trump praised Germany’s partnership with America. Berlin is willing to increase military spending, she said.
According to Georgetown University’s Center for German and European Studies director Jeffrey Anderson, “a personal reset in the relationship (is possible) as the tone was cordial, collegial and respectful.”
Trump said nothing about US/EU trade. He expressed respect for the continent’s “historic institutions,” adding balance and fairness in relations with America are needed.
He supports Brexit. Merkel is strongly opposed. 
As Europe’s powerhouse, Germany wants EU and Eurozone integrity kept intact, perhaps a losing struggle longterm. Both unions are fundamentally flawed.
Trump and Merkel spoke by phone in late January. Friday they met for the first time.
Perhaps getting to know each other firsthand was all that could be expected from an initial meeting.
A Final Comment
NYT ad hominem Trump bashing continues relentlessly. It called Merkel’s meeting with him “the defender versus the disrupter.”
Policies of both leaders are hardline. She’s no “last defender of the liberal world order,” as The Times described her. It’s nonexistent in Western societies and most others.
The Times got one thing right. “Whatever their differences, both leaders” intend working together cooperatively.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Trump's Budget Cuts $10 Billion in Foreign Aid, Israel Unaffected - Sat, 18/03/2017 - 22:35
Trump’s Budget Cuts $10 Billion in Foreign Aid, Israel Unaffected
by Stephen Lendman
Trump’s proposed budget slashes discretionary spending, except for militarism, warmaking, veterans and Israel.
It continues getting $3.1 billion annually in largely military aid, despite facing no threats - the amount increasing to $3.8 billion each year when the current 10-year agreement expires in 2018.
Netanyahu asked for $4.5 billion annually. Perhaps Trump and Congress will oblige ahead, cutting more domestic social spending to offset the increase. 
According to the Congressional Research Service, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II.” 
Through 2016, it’s gotten at least $150 billion since 1949, along with state-of-the-art weapons and technology, low or no-interest loans, supplemental handouts when requested, unrestricted US market access, free entry for its immigrants and much more.
What Israel wants it gets in flagrant violation of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (as amended), stipulating no aid be given nations engaging in: 
“a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country.”
Trump’s America first bluster includes Israel. Domestically, it isn’t about helping ordinary people, just its privileged class, wealth disparity ahead to become more extreme than already, human need unconscionable.
UN funding will be cut sharply under Trump’s proposed budge. So will amounts to other international organizations - targeted for criticizing Israel and supporting Palestinian rights, along with circumventing US sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea and other countries.
Funding will be terminated for any organizations Washington claims “is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism.”
America, NATO, Israel and other regional rogue states are the worst offenders, along with other repressive regimes closely allied to Washington.
In whatever final form Congress passes Trump’s budget, it’ll be hugely regressive. It’s just a question of how much.
It’ll be overweighted on militarism and corporate benefits at the expense of eroding social justice, notably since the neoliberal 90s.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

Israel at War with Syria - Sat, 18/03/2017 - 22:19
Israel at War with Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Washington and Israel seek regime change. Both countries want pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.
Throughout Obama’s war, launched in March 2011, Trump escalating it, Israel supplied weapons and munitions to ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist fighters. 
It treats their wounded in Israeli hospitals. It terror-bombs Syrian targets at its discretion. Its aim is weakening Assad’s government. The ultimate aim of America and Israel is ousting it.
Israel’s latest aggression occurred overnight Thursday, one of its many flagrant breaches of international law. 
Letters sent by Syria’s Foreign Ministry to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Security Council president Matthew Rycroft said four Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace through Lebanese territory at 2:40 AM Friday morning. They targeted a military site in the eastern countryside of Homs province.
“As part of its right to defend the sanctity of its territory, the Syrian air defense responded to this aggression and shot down one of the planes while the rest of them were forced to flee,” Syria’s Foreign Ministry said.
“The Israeli aggression this morning comes as a new Israeli attempt to boost the collapsed morale of terrorist groups after they were defeated recently by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in many areas.”
Israel fabricates pretexts to justify lawlessness. It wants regional hegemony along with America, sovereign independent Syria and Iran eliminated as Middle East rivals, Hezbollah’s ability to resist ended.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli ambassador Gary Koren over the IDF’s latest aggression, the first time Moscow wanted clarifications since intervening in Syria in September 2015 at the behest of its government.
Russia is going all-out trying for diplomatic conflict resolution. Intermittent Israeli aggression at aims to undermine it.
Israel uses Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as a pretext to launch attacks. “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it,” Netanyahu ranted.
“That’s how it was yesterday and that’s how we shall continue to act. We are fully determined and the evidence of that it that we are acting. Everybody must take that into account - everybody.”
Transportation minister Yisrael Katz added “(w)e will not let Syria become a dangerous hub of Hezbollah activity.”
Fact: Israel faces no threat from Syria, Hezbollah, Iran or any other country. Its claims otherwise are fabricated - used as pretexts for aggressive acts at its discretion, flagrantly violating international law, prolonging conflict, delaying or preventing resolution, wanting endless regional wars continued to advance its imperial aims.
Following his March 9 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Netanyahu said he “stressed (Israel’s) strong opposition to Iran or its proxies establishing themselves in Syria. We see that Iran is trying to establish a naval base in Syria.”
“This has serious implications for Israeli security. I told Putin this would threaten stability and hurt the possibility of achieving a political settlement in Syria.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied media reports, claiming Moscow OK’d Israeli strikes on Hezbollah, saying “(i)t has nothing to do with reality. It hasn’t been discussed, and there is no talk about it.”
Former Israeli national security council head Yaakov Amidror said alleged weapons convoys to Hezbollah remain a “red line.” Israel will continue attacking them.
A state of war existed between Syria and Israel since establishment of the Jewish state, notably since the IDF seized Golan in June 1967.
Israel considers Syria an enemy. For the most part, it prohibits its citizens from traveling there. Syria never recognized Israel. Its citizens are denied entry. Both countries never had diplomatic relations.
Cross-border movement is extremely limited. Golan Druze villages on both sides of the ceasefire line engage in limited produce trade.
Numerous cross-border incidents instigated by Israel occurred since Obama launched war in March 2011. 
Despite Syrian military successes since Russia’s September 2015 involvement, regional flashpoint conditions remain, threatening escalated wars, not resolving them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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

NYT Defends Pentagon Mosque Terror-Bombing - Sat, 18/03/2017 - 21:59
NYT Defends Pentagon Mosque Terror-Bombing
by Stephen Lendman
The self-styled newspaper of record operates as a press agent for wealth, power and privilege, featuring fake news instead of journalism the way it’s supposed to be.
Overnight Thursday, US warplanes terror-bombed a Syrian mosque in al-Jinnah village near Aleppo, a previous article explained. 
Hundreds of worshipers were inside at the time, scores massacred, many others injured, a despicable war crime.
A Pentagon photo The Times published showed an intact structure next to a crater. CENTCOM said a mosque across the street, 50 feet away, was untouched.
The photo looks phony. The Times failed to explain. Vehicles on both sides of the street, adjacent to the crater and intact building, look at least largely undamaged as best as can be assessed from a grainy picture.
Surely, powerful blasts wouldn’t leave anything nearby unscathed. The Times cited US military officials, saying the photo was taken within five minutes of the bombing, adding:
US “rules of engagement discourage attacks on mosques, schools and hospitals without extensive scrutiny by top-level officials.”
False! Washington and Israel consider civilians and non-military related sites legitimate targets in all their wars.
Israel admits it. America denies repeated high crimes of war and against humanity, even when caught red-handed.
One or more US missile fragments were found in the rubble of the mosque America terror-bombed.
Whenever the Pentagon says it’s investigating an incident, whitewash always follows. Navy Captain spokesman Jeff Davis lied, saying “(w)e did not” target a mosque. Of course, you know we never would.”
Eyewitnesses and independent video contradict his version of what happened, showing the mosque in question destroyed.
In all US war theaters, civilians suffer most of all, victims of imperial viciousness - including worshipers in mosques, patients in hospitals, children in schools, and families at home.
Don’t expect The Times to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 

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



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