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NYT Fears Greater Putin Resolve Against Terrorism - Mon, 09/11/2015 - 20:20
NYT Fears Greater Putin Resolve Against Terrorism
By Stephen Lendman
The Times is a US administration/Pentagon house organ, featuring press release journalism, a voice for wealth, power and privilege exclusively.
It’s a leading Putin critic - maliciously bashing him irresponsibly, substituting misinformation and Big Lies for legitimate reporting and opinion.
It fears evidence showing terrorism responsible for downing Russia’s Metrojet airliner (yet to be proved or disproved) may steel Putin’s resolve for greater efforts to defeat it - involving him more in Middle East affairs, challenging Washington imperial agenda effectively for the first time in memory.
Putin’s campaign has multiple objectives, including:
  • defeating ISIS and other terrorists in Syria;

  • perhaps extending the campaign to parts or all of Iraq, dependent on an official Baghdad request for help perhaps coming;

  • stopping the spread of terrorism to Central Asia and Russia;

  • preserving Syrian sovereignty, including supporting the right of its people alone to decide who’ll lead them; and

  • directly challenging Washington’s hegemonic agenda with a formidable display of military might, showing it’s a superpower to be reckoned with, not about to be intimidated by US threats.

The Times fears Putin is effectively courting US Arab allies, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, perhaps heading toward replacing Obama as the region’s kingmaker.
US post-9/11 policies created a Middle East, North Africa, Afghan disaster. America is the problem, not the solution to resolving it, Russia perhaps increasingly seen as a reliable partner along with China. Their agenda is cooperative, not exploitive.
The Times quoted anti-Putin commentators, none supporting him. Columnist Vladimir Frolov said “Russia’s current strategy cannot defeat the Islamic State.”
Separately in his own column, he  claimed Putin seeks “a quick exit from Syria…before (its) army’s offensive stalls and Russia’s key (regional) ally is exposed as a spent force.”
He misreads a resolute leader, ludicrously saying he wants out before “the going gets tough” - ignoring his devastatingly effective campaign, battering ISIS and other terrorists, weakening them noticeably.
Analyst Alexei Makarkin was cited suggesting as evidence grows showing the effectiveness of Putin’s campaign, the more “strained” Russia’s relations “with the West” will become.
With Washington for sure, not likely European countries, straining to cope with the human, war-caused, refugee flood - knowing the only way to stop it is by defeating terrorism and ending ongoing conflicts, opposite of America’s agenda, wanting permanent violence and chaos.
Putin critic Stanislav Belkovsky was cited, absurdly claiming he intervened in Syria to advance his geopolitical ambitions.
Editor Mazim Trudolyubov said he’ll “have to reverse cause and effect…so (his) strategy is not seen as leading to civilian deaths.”
Video evidence of all Russian airstrikes shows only ISIS and other terrorist targets struck, no civilian ones. Claims otherwise are fabricated, part of longstanding anti-Russian propaganda.
The Times mocked clear evidence showing Washington’s responsibility for creating ISIS and other terrorist groups to advance its imperial agenda.
Regardless of what caused the Metrojet crash, Putin remains committed to defeating the scourge of terrorism and prevent its spread, especially to Russia.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Israel Murdered 80 Palestinians Since October 1 - Mon, 09/11/2015 - 02:55
Israel Murdered 80 Palestinians Since October 1
by Stephen Lendman
Cold-blood murder and extrajudicial assassinations reflect longstanding Israeli policy - classic police state injustice, trashing rule of law principles, terrorizing an entire population, defenseless against the daily onslaught.
Palestinians have no place to hide, trapped throughout the Territories, victimized with no world community support, isolated on their own to suffer, languish in Israel’s gulag, and for some to die, murdered by rogue state viciousness, including 17 young children since October 1 alone.
Soldiers and police have shoot-to-kill orders. Mercy is not an Israeli attribute, or respect for democratic values and core international humanitarian laws.
Violence rages daily in Palestine. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) can’t keep up, its operations ongoing round-the-clock, dispatching medical and relief teams wherever needed, often blocked by soldiers from reaching the injured and dying.
Israel lets many bleed-to-death unattended on streets where they were gunned down, most victims threatening no one, knife-wielding terrorist claims mostly falsified, justifying the unjustifiable. 
PRCS runs two main Operations Rooms - at its Al-Bireh headquarters and Gaza City, as well as two others in Nablus and Hebron, each staffed with over 50 volunteers, caring for sick, wounded, suffering and dying Palestinians, issuing regular reports on its activities and Israeli abuses against its staff, ambulances, facilities and overall operations.
It increased them sharply last month, in response to Israeli initiated violence, heavily overworked, struggling to keep up with overwhelming needs.
It declared a level 3 state of emergency, highlighting ongoing dire circumstances. It provides media with current information, Palestine Today journalist Jihad Barakat, saying:
“The Society’s Operations Room has been the quickest source of information for journalists since the beginning of the current situation. For me personally, it was my first source of information on confrontations and casualties, and I am in constant contact with colleagues at the OR.” 
Reports highlight multiple daily Israeli-instigated violence throughout the Territories, including in Occupied Gaza - nonviolent resisters lethally shot or wounded, vital agricultural land uprooted, fishermen attacked at sea threatening no one.
Soldiers and police have one operating standard - shoot first, ask no questions, blame Palestinians for their high crimes.
Journalists are assaulted daily for doing their job, at least 105 targeted in October alone, according to the Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA). 
Scores were wounded from live fire, potentially lethal rubber/plastic coated steel bullets, toxic tear gas, stun grenades and physical beatings - their equipment confiscated or destroyed. Over a dozen others were arrested, detained and brutally interrogated. 
Israel wants none of its crimes against humanity revealed, especially with hard to dispute video evidence. Its solution to everything is violence and more of it.
MADA reported at least 450 violations against journalists since January, escalated exponentially since October 1. Indiscriminate use of force is longstanding Israeli policy.
Nonviolent demonstrations for justice are viciously attacked, followed by mass arrests. The world community is virtually silent in the face of extreme Israeli viciousness - heavily armed combat troops attacking defenseless civilians, including women and children.
Judge Israel by its actions, not its duplicitous rhetoric, a ruthless police state by any standard - racist, lawless, merciless, ruthless, contemptuous of human life and welfare.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Myanmar Elections - Mon, 09/11/2015 - 01:39
Myanmar Elections
by Stephen Lendman
Myanmar is no democracy. Junta power rules, civilians representing it since 2011. Expect no change post-election, most Myanmarians unaware about the absence of democratic ballot choices.
On Sunday, they voted in general elections, touted as the first free ones in 25 years. Ignore the hype and lionization of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Western darling, alone enough to raise red flags. 
The so-called pro-democracy icon is a fraud, a US/Soros-funded Western creation, a useful stooge, representing business as usual monied interests - an unworthy, disreputable Nobel Peace Prize winner like Obama and legions of other notorious honorees.
She heads the so-called National League for Democracy (NLD), falsely claiming to support democratic socialism, polar opposite its agenda - contesting for Myanmar’s presidency (she’s constitutionally barred from holding) against ruling Union Solidarity Development Party chairman (current president) Thein Sein, a former military commander.
Hundreds of upper and lower house Pyidaungsu Hluttaw legislative seats are at stake - one-fourth of them reserved for military appointees.
Democracy is verboten in Myanmar no matter who wins, the election a worthless exercise in futility. In December 2006, the Burma Campaign UK produced a report titled “Failing the People of Burma (the colonial name under British rule - from 1824 - 1948)?” It exposed Suu Kyi’s Western funding sources.
No so-called Myanmar pro-democracy groups promote establishing it. The US State Department-funded anti-democratic National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds internal pro-Western interests, Suu Kyi one of its prominent recipients along with groups close to her.
Soros’ Open Society Institute provides generous backing. Washington claiming it supports a democratic Myanmar is a complete fabrication. It wants Chinese influence eliminated, replaced by its own, one of many attempts to isolate and marginalize Beijing.
Western headlines conceal Suu Kyi’s anti-democratic agenda:
New York Times: “Voters Are Joyful in Myanmar, Days Before Results” 
They’re already known. Business as usual again triumphed - junta power like in America, two political systems differing only in style and rhetoric.
Washington Post: “Burma (sic) votes in first democratic election in years”
WaPo calling Myanmar “Burma” would be like Britain calling America “the colonies.”
Wall Street Journal: “Myanmar Votes Amid Claims of Irregularities” - on the one hand, calling the process the “freest…in  more than a half-century,” while on the other, citing Suu Kyi claiming fraud.
London Guardian: “Aung San Suu Kyi casts vote in Myanmar’s first free election in 25 years”
Few countries anywhere hold independently judged free, fair and open elections. Monitoring is verboten in most Western countries (especially for America’s money-controlled process) and Israel.
BBC: “Myanmar votes in first open election in 25 years”
Brits haven’t had one in recent memory, nor Americans. Last week, Suu Kyi vowed to run Myanmar “above the presidency,” appointing an unnamed proxy to represent her - a so-called “benchwarmer” until a new ruling party enacts constitutional change, letting her govern.
Before votes are counted, fairly or otherwise, it’s unclear if her NLD alone or with allied candidates has enough support to win more than two-thirds of the contested seats to be able to declare victory.
A Suu Kyi presidency, if permitted, would expose her phony democratic credentials. Junta power remains in control, electoral results when announced changing nothing.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Reckless US/NATO Saber-Rattling - Sun, 08/11/2015 - 21:12
Reckless US/NATO Saber-Rattling
by Stephen Lendman
When lunatics run the asylum, all bets are off. America can’t bear the thought of other rising powers challenging its unipolarity - so much so, it appears willing to risk humanity’s destruction to maintain sole dominance of planet earth, its resources and populations.
Russia, China and the vast majority of other countries support multi-world polarity, nations working cooperatively with each other in peace for the betterment of all.
Washington wants none of it, demands all other countries accept its dominance, obey its diktats, pay homage to the master of the universe - or else.
Endless wars of aggression, raping one nation after another shows it means business - maintain independence and you’re next.
Former top US Defense Department official Alexander Vershbow is de facto NATO chief - US-installed Jens Stoltenberg a convenient potted plant, doing Washington’s bidding.
He and Vershbow recite pre-scripted speeches, railing about the so-called Russian menace, the latter most recently days earlier at the Warsaw Security Forum, a venue for him to sound off irresponsibly.
Europe today is threatened, he blustered. “For the first time in NATO’s history, we are under pressure on two flanks,” he claimed from:
  • Middle East “chaos and violence, failed and failing states” - ignoring Washington’s full responsibility, its endless wars of aggression, raping one country after another, turning them to rubble, killing millions, creating the severest human refugee flood since WW II; and

  • “to the east, a newly assertive Russia…throwing its military muscle around in an attempt to get its own way and re-establish hegemony over its neighbors, undermining the foundations of the post-War and post-Cold War order.”

Fact: No nation more dedicates itself to world peace and stability than Russia. None wages more endless aggressive wars than America - the greatest threat to humanity’s survival in history.
Fact: Provocative US-led NATO troop deployments and military exercises close to Russia’s borders threaten world peace.
Vershbow: “Russia seeks a return of the Great Game of influence and control over (nations) weaker than itself. This is not a game we wish to play.”
Fact: Russia’s “Great Game” is fostering mutual cooperation among all nations in peace. America’s “Dirty Game” is waging one war of aggression after another for unchallenged global dominance.
Vershbow’s solution to a nonexistent Russian “threat” is greater US-led saber-rattling than already - more provocative military exercises and larger troop deployments close to its borders.
“NATO will always do whatever it takes to keep our allies safe,” he blustered…This means” potentially far greater belligerence than already - a ticking nuclear bomb he calls “an ounce of prevention.”
It bears repeating. When lunatics run the asylum, all bets are off. Today is the most perilous time in world history. US-dominated NATO’s recklessness may kill us all.
On November 7, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addressed the Reagan National Defense Forum - repeating the same belligerent drumbeat, at the same time ludicrously claiming US leadership “help(s) keep the peace, lifts (people) out of poverty, and give(s) (everyone) a greater voice in their own affairs.”
Fact: America’s agenda is polar opposite, responsible for endless conflicts and more human misery than any other nation in world history.
Carter took dead aim at so-called “Russia(n) provocations and China’s rise” - threatening US aims for dominance over planet earth.
“In Europe, Russia has been violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic states,” he blustered. “Meanwhile, in Syria, Russia is throwing gasoline on an already dangerous fire, prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism Russia claims to oppose.”
“At sea, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace, Russian actors have engaged in challenging activities. And, most disturbing, Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises questions about Russia’s leaders’ commitment to strategic stability.”
Fact: Reality is polar opposite Carter’s hyperbole. He lied saying “(w)e do not seek a cold war, let alone a hot war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy.”
Fact: The former Soviet Union was a longstanding US enemy. So is the current Russian Federation. America wants its sovereign independence eliminated, its resources stolen, its population exploited like serfs.
Carter: “We are…work(ing) to deter Russia’s aggression, and to help reduce the vulnerability of our allies and partners. The United States is (acting) accordingly, making a number of moves in response” - preparing for WW III, he stopped short of explaining.
“NATO needs a new playbook,” he claimed - creating a greater menace to humanity’s survival than already, strength and dominance through naked aggression, fabricating the pretense of democracy building.
Washington declared proxy war on Russia in Syria - the same policy against China by entering its waters provocatively on the phony pretext of free navigation, calling it the first of more hostile acts to follow, risking the unthinkable, possible war with Beijing in Asia as well as Russia in Europe and the Middle East.
America deplores peace and stability. It bears repeating. It’s the greatest threat to humanity’s survival in world history. Its self-proclaimed preeminence and stewardship represent a toxic prescription for disaster.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Israel Terrorizes Hebron Residents - Sun, 08/11/2015 - 20:57
Israel Terrorizes Hebron Residents
by Stephen Lendman
Hebron is a microcosm of Israel’s war on Palestine, unrestrained state terror, at least 22 of its residents murdered by security forces since October 1 alone.
Longstanding policies protect extremist settlers, the entire Palestinian population terrorized. New restrictions imposed are more draconian than ever - a policy of belligerent apartheid.
Israel’s claim about “continu(ing) to allow as normal a fabric of life as possible for all residents” is baloney - B’Tselem calling it “a far cry from (horrific daily) reality.”
“There has been no ‘normal fabric of life’ in Hebron for many days, and the measures taken in the name of security are draconian and not dictated by reality,” it stressed.
Tel Rumeidah neighborhood near Hebron’s Old City is besieged, completely closed off and isolated - access granted only to so-called “registered residents,” forced to endure intrusive security checks on entering or leaving, discouraging free movement altogether.
Some residents refused to submit their names to a security list required for them to enter their own homes freely. Others are denied entry for various intolerable reasons.
Tel Rumeida resembles a ghost town. Visible residents are settlers, many openly displaying guns, protected by heavily armed soldiers in combat gear.
Palestinian shops and other businesses were closed, their owners denied access. Draconian measures were imposed on area villages and towns, sealed off like Hebron.
All vehicles leaving the city of Yatta are stopped, contents and passengers intrusively searched, making travel impossible. All youths are suspected “terrorists.”
Thousands of Palestinians endure severe disruptions to their daily lives, collectively punished, commonplace Israeli policy - US major media ignoring what’s ongoing entirely, reporting nothing, horrific human rights abuses unnoticed.
Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements (YAS) is an activist group against Israeli colonization of Palestine - “through non-violent popular struggle and civil disobedience,” explaining:
“Ostensibly to protect approximately 600 fundamentalist Israelis that have forcibly established a settlement right in the heart of Hebron, the Israeli state has imposed on the Palestinian residents of the city a regime of forced evictions, curfews, market closures, street closures, military checkpoints, subjection to military law including frequent random searches and detention without charge, and lack of protection from rampant settler violence, which has pressured approximately 13,000 Palestinian civilians to flee their homes in the Hebron city center, turning it into a virtual ghost town.”
The area is surrounded by hostile settlements, Palestinian residents terrorized by harassment, violence, and vandalism, Israeli closed military zones imposed to displace them from their own land - forcing them to leave, preventing their return, confiscating their property and possessions, whatever they can’t take with them.
YAS coordinator Issa Amro said Hebron “is besieged. Soldiers storm Palestinian homes pre-dawn, evicting their residents, taking them over.
Settlers urge them to kill the Palestinians. “They are rejoicing that they took over my home and building,” Amro explained. “One of the soldiers said that they were (raiding the home) as punishment for speaking to the international media about what's happening in Hebron.”
The raid happened hours after heavily protected settlers attacked Hebron area Palestinian homes. Besieged residents call draconian conditions intolerable.
Overnight Saturday into early Sunday morning, soldiers kidnapped 18 Hebron area Palestinians, at the same time storming and ransacking homes.
On Sunday, Israeli media said Netanyahu will offer Palestinians supposed goodwill gestures when he meets with Obama on Monday, aimed at easing tensions, a shameless ploy to try ending justifiable resistance, another unconditional surrender scheme likely to be denounced and rejected by long-suffering people demanding freedom.
Israeli pledges are made to be broken, a consistent record of betrayal. No one in Palestine is safe. Expect continued justifiable resistance to end brutal occupation.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Charlie Hebdo Disgracefully Mocks Russian Plane Crash Victims - Sun, 08/11/2015 - 02:49
Charlie Hebdo Disgracefully Mocks Russian Plane Crash Victims
by Stephen Lendman
The French satirical weekly is outrageously over-the-top, featuring stridently irreverent  cartoons, polemics and humor.
It takes pride in mocking religions, notably Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Its predecessor Hara-Kiri publication was banned for ridiculing Charles de Gaulle’s death.
In 1970, its staff shifted to the newly introduced Charlie Hebdo (CB), continuing the same offensive style, notably its repugnant cartoons, taking shots at virtually anyone, including the Virgin Mary.
Why readers find this amusing, they’ll have to explain. The publication was largely obscure before 12 staff members were killed and eight others wounded in last January’s attack on its Paris offices.
Worldwide sympathy was aroused, deservingly for victims, not the publication, abusing its press freedom privilege.
In early morning November 2, 2011 before its staff arrived, its offices were firebombed and destroyed the day after it announced the Prophet Muhammad as its editor-in-chief for its next issue, complete with a cover caricature of his image. No one was hurt or killed at the time.
CB regrouped and continued its irreverent style, offending selected targets, defending the indefensible in mocking the Prophet Muhammad and now Russian plane crash victims, setting off a justifiable firestorm of anger in Russia.
Victims deserve respectful bereavement, not ridicule. CB cartoons included one showing shattered airliner parts coming down on an apparent terrorist. The caption reading: “Daech: “L’Aviation Russe intensifie ses bombardments” needs no translation.
Another showed a skull and burned-out plane in the background - the caption reading: “The dangers of low-cost Russia. I should have taken Air Cocaine,” referring to two French pilots fleeing the Dominican Republic to escape arrest for alleged involvement in cocaine smuggling.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called CB’s Russian plane crash cartoons “blasphemous. This has nothing to do with democracy, self-expression, nothing to do with anything. This is blasphemy.”
He and his colleagues “dug around,” trying to find CB cartoons mocking their murdered staff members but couldn’t find any.
CB editor Gerard Briand said the publication rejects the notion of blasphemy. For certain, no discretion and common decency as well.
During the 1954 nationally televised Army-(Joe) McCarthy hearings, I saw attorney Joe Welch on national television challenge the Wisconsin senator, denouncing his spurious accusation about one of his young attorneys having communist ties - famously saying:
“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or recklessness.” Welch angrily interrupted McCarthy’s retort, adding:
“Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency.”
Overnight, McCarthy’s popularity plunged. Senate censure followed, ruining him. In 1957, he died a broken man at age 48, perhaps mindless of the harm his baseless accusations caused.
CB take note! With attribution to Joe Welch: Have you no sense of decency? US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”
Twitter comments blasted CB. Some urged people to “ignore (its) disgusting provocation.” Russian upper house Federation Council member Igor Morozov called it “blasphemy (to) ridicule the memory of those who lost their lives as a result of this catastrophe.”
Surviving family members’ grief will be painful and lost-lasting. Respect for their losses overrides press freedom, especially when it mocks the dead.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked: “Is anyone still Charlie?” The phrase Je Suis Charlie, honoring its dead and injured staff members, sounds more like a pejorative now.
CB mocked Muslim refugees earlier. A cartoon headlining “Welcome, migrants” featured a cartoon of a three-year-old child lying face down on a European beach - the caption reading: “So close to the goal.”
A second page headlined “The proof that Europe is Christian.” It featured the legs of a drowning child and a man perhaps representing Jesus walking on water - the caption saying: “Christians walk on water…Muslim kids sink.”
Do readers find material this disgusting material amusing? Perhaps the slogan Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo is most appropriate!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Israel Wants $5 Billion US Taxpayer Dollars Annually for Its Killing Machine - Sun, 08/11/2015 - 01:09
Israel Wants $5 Billion US Taxpayer Dollars Annually for Its Killing Machine
by Stephen Lendman
Former GHW Bush national security advisor Brent Scrowcroft once said former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon had GW Bush “wrapped around his little finger.”
Sharon once told his foreign minister at the time Shimon Peres: “(D)on’t worry about American pressure. We the Jewish people control America.”
In 1973, then Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright said “(t)he Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate.”
Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles called it “impossible to carry out a (Middle East) foreign policy not approved by the Jews…terrific control (they) have over the news media…”
Most often what Israel wants it gets, especially anything military related, as well as reliable vetoes of Security Council resolutions critical of its policies.
Occasional rifts and disagreements between both nations don’t matter. Obama once complained about having to work with Netanyahu daily. All is forgiven, including his all-out efforts to sabotage the Iran nuclear deal.
On November 9, he’s coming to Washington. Hat in hand isn’t his style, nor apologizing for deplorable actions.
He’ll arrive while his security forces continue murdering, injuring, mass imprisoning and torturing Palestinians daily. Horror stories repeat endlessly - youths, young children and women slain with impunity, an entire population terrorized, held hostage to Israeli ruthlessness.
Expect no rebukes from Obama or other White House officials. Both nations support each other’s high crimes. More important issues will be discussed - principally increasing annual US military aid. Netanyahu wants Israel’s killing machine bolstered.
It now gets at least $3.1 billion annually plus additional amounts regularly for various programs on request. Netanyahu wants more, reportedly $5 billion annually for the next decade, after the current agreement expires in 2017 - a $50 billion package and lots more, especially the latest weapons and technology.
US taxpayers have no say over how their money is spent - largely for militarism, endless wars, corporate handouts, militarizing America, supporting Israel’s killing machine and others operating the same way.
Obama and Netanyahu clearly dislike each other. At the same time, they want business as usual continued. It’s been this way for decades. Expect no change now.
Even Netanyahu’s choice for communications director (his public voice) Ran Baratz calling Obama “anti-Semitic” and John Kerry’s mentality no better than a 12-year-old leaves relations unchanged.
America and Israel are fascist police states. The New York Times supports their worst high crimes. Its editors call it “in the strategic interests of both countries to find a way to work together more constructively” regardless of occasional disagreements.
A big issue to be discussed is a new military aid package, endorsed by Times editors, saying it’s “a tangible sign of a continued American commitment to Israeli security that has become more important as Israeli concerns about Iran have grown.”
Fact: Israel has no security issues. It hasn’t had a regional enemy in over four decades. Invented ones alone exist.
Fact: Iran threatens no one, not Israel or any other nation. It’s attacked none in centuries. 
Fact: America and Israel wage endless wars. Defunding their killing machines is the best way to stop them.
Times editors perpetuated the myth about Obama prioritizing a two-state solution throughout his tenure. His actions show he doesn’t give a damn about Palestinian rights - including during flagrant summer 2014 Israeli aggression against Gaza and ongoing state terror throughout the Territories, saying Israel has a right to defend itself, and demanding Palestinians stop assaulting Israelis.
Both leaders “need to find a way to…work more collaboratively on…mutual concerns like the war in Syria and Iran’s efforts to expand its regional influence,” said Times editors - fully supporting their regional aggression and hegemonic aims, longstanding Times policy.
Both countries allied represent the greatest threat to world peace and security. Don’t expect Times editors to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

US Supplying ISIS with Aircraft Downing Weapons - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 21:35
US Supplying ISIS with Aircraft Downing Weapons
by Stephen Lendman
On November 4, the Wall Street Journal headlined “US, Allies to Boost Aid to Syria Rebels” - aka ISIS and other takfiri terrorists, US proxy foot soldiers, imperial death squads, no so-called “moderates” among them.
The Journal stopped short of explaining it, instead saying “(s)hipments of arms (and) supplies are aimed at pressuring Assad while countering Russia (and) Iran.”
Longstanding US plans call for regime change in Syria, eliminating its independent government, replacing it with one Washington and Israel control, raping the country, balkanizing it, and exploiting its people - at the same time, creating endless violence, instability and chaos like what’s happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and virtually everywhere America shows up, the greatest menace to peace in world history.
According to the Journal, increased weapons shipments to anti-Assad elements aim to “challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, US officials and their counterparts (from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf States) in the region said.
Obama declared proxy war on Russia after pledging to avoid it. He’s playing with fire. Putin is determined to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in Syria, and by implication perhaps regionally and beyond. That puts him on a collision course with Washington, wanting its proxy death squads protected and used destructively.
The more heavily armed ISIS and other takfiris become, the harder Russian aircraft will likely target them. Expect the battle to liberate Syria continuing for as long as it takes to achieve.
According to the Journal, “(i)n the past month of intensifying Russian airstrikes, the CIA and its partners have increased the flow of military supplies to rebels in northern Syria, including of US-made TOW antitank missiles, these officials said.” 
“Those supplies will continue to increase in coming weeks, replenishing stocks depleted by the regime’s expanded military offensive. An Obama administration official said the military pressure is needed to push Mr. Assad from power.”
Shoulder-launched, man-portable, surface-to-air missiles (SAMS) defense systems (Manpads) are being supplied. “Those weapons could help target regime aircraft…and could also help keep Russian air power at bay,” said the Journal, citing unnamed US officials.
Manpads are relatively inexpensive, easy to operate and able to down low-flying aircraft. Helicopters are most vulnerable. So are fixed-wing planes during takeoffs, landings, and when operating at low altitudes.
Military aircraft systems alert pilots when missiles target them. Countermeasures to avoid being struck include evasive action, infrared flares and lasers. 
Russian planes are safe at high altitudes. Special precautions are taken to protect them during takeoffs and landings. 
So far, Putin outwitted Obama in Syria, effectively challenging his dirty game. He’s determined to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and keep it from spreading, especially to Central Asia and Russia.
He supports Syrian sovereignty, strongly against letting outside powers determine its fate, for its own citizens alone to decide, free from foreign interference.
On September 30, the die was cast when he intervened, a righteous mission fully in accord with international law - polar opposite US aggression throughout the region and beyond.
Obama didn’t wage war on Syria to quit. Putin didn’t intervene responsibly to back off in the face of US pressure, threats and anti-Russian propaganda. 
Expect him to stay the course with plenty of effective military muscle - impressive enough to make Pentagon commanders leery about challenging him.
A proxy state of war between America and Russia now exists - a hugely dangerous situation, risking possible direct confrontation between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.
Expect Putin to go all-out to avoid it. Put nothing past neocon lunatics in Washington - willing to risk destroying planet earth to own it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

ISIS Using Mustard Gas in Syria - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 21:17
ISIS Using Mustard Gas in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
US-supported ISIS and other terrorists were caught red-handed using sarin and other chemical weapons against civilians in Syria numerous times - Assad wrongfully blamed for their crimes. 
No evidence suggests his forces used them at any time throughout the conflict. Plenty shows CIA and US special forces train takfiri terrorists in chemical weapons use, perhaps supplying them with toxic agents to use.
Saudi Arabia was caught red-handed providing them with toxic agents in containers marked “made in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).”
In early November, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts confirmed terrorists’ use of mustard gas and chlorine in Syria with “utmost confidence” - calling perpetrators “non-state actor(s).”
An OPCW statement said its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) “confirm(ed) that at least two people were exposed to sulfur mustard (commonly known as mustard gas), and that it is very likely that the effects of this chemical weapon resulted in the death of an infant.”
Mustard gas is a cytotoxic blistering agent, causing debilitating, potential lethal, internal and external chemical burns, affecting exposed skin and lungs when inhaled, able to penetrate wool and cotton fabrics.
A UK nurse during WW I commented on treating its burns, saying:
Patients “cannot be bandaged or touched. We cover them with a tent of propped-up sheets. Gas burns must be agonizing because usually the other cases do not complain, even with the worst wounds, but gas cases are invariably beyond endurance and they cannot help crying out.”
According to OPCW, “(m)ustard agent(s) (are) very simple to manufacture and can therefore be a ‘first choice’ when a country decides to build up a capacity for chemical warfare.”
In gas or liquid form, it “attacks the skin, eyes, lungs and gastro-intestinal tract. Internal organs may also be injured, mainly blood-generating organs, as a result of mustard agent being taken up through the skin or lungs and transported into the body.” 
“The delayed effect is a characteristic of mustard agent. Mustard agent gives no immediate symptoms upon contact and consequently a delay of between two and twenty-four hours may occur before pain is felt and the victim becomes aware of what has happened. By then cell damage has already been caused.”
The 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibited use of “asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices,” as well as “bacteriological methods of warfare.”
The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and 1993 Chemical Weapons Conventions prohibit their production, storage or transfer.
America and Israel notoriously use chemical, biological and radiological weapons in warfare. Major media report nothing.
Did Washington supply ISIS with toxic chemical agents, including mustard gas for use OPCW just reported? On November 6, Pravda said “Russian intelligence (in early October) obtained records of secret negotiations of ISIS militants about the use of chemical weapons.” 
“It was said that the terrorists were going to use mustard gas ammo against  government forces of President Bashar Assad.”
In late August, The New York Times reported “ISIS using poison gas in Syria…according to local rebels (other terrorists) and an international aid group.”
The Syrian American Medical Society reported city of Marea civilian areas attacked with over 50 shells containing toxic agents. Symptoms showed chemical exposure. Some victims had blisters associated with mustard gas use.
So-called rebels said shells were fired from an ISIS controlled area.  Kurdish forces in northern Syria and Iraq were attacked with toxic chemical agents. Many injuries were reported. ISIS was blamed in both countries.
On November 23, an OPCW Executive Council special session will be held to discuss its findings of chemical weapons use in Syria. The organization last year said Assad completed handing over his government’s entire CW stockpile in June 2014. 
No evidence suggests it has any remaining agents. Syrian UN envoy Bashar Jaafari categorically said many times that “(t)he Syrian government has not used and will never use chemical weapons.”
Toxic chemical agents in the hands of ISIS and/or other terrorist groups pose dangers throughout the region and beyond.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Some Good News About CISA: It Doesn’t Include Senator Whitehouse's Dangerous CFAA Amendment - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 10:53

CISA passed out of the Senate by a disappointing vote of 74-21 last week. The bill has already passed out of the House, and now it goes to a conference committee to work out any differences between the House and Senate version, back to both houses for an up or down vote without any amendments, and then to the President’s desk. Unlike previous years, we haven’t heard any veto threats for CISA, so it’s clear some version of the fundamentally flawed bill will become law.

We’re not happy about the vote, but we also think it's important to point out where we did win (at least for now): the final Senate bill did not include Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s dangerous Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) amendment.  Now we’ll be working to make sure it stays that way.

Senator Whitehouse’s amendment was in the list of amendments that the Senate agreed to consider in October. Fortunately, Senator Ron Wyden made it clear on the floor of the Senate on October 20th that he would object to moving the bill forward if this amendment were included because it would “significantly expand a badly outdated CFAA.”

The amendment was ultimately not included in the language the Senate voted to advance, a fact Senator Whitehouse was very upset about: he publicly blamed a “hidden pro-botnet, pro-foreign cyber criminal caucus” for persuading the “masters of the universe” to remove this amendment.   

The emails from our supporters opposing this amendment made a difference. Unfortunately, we doubt that Whitehouse’s language is dead. It could very well come up during conference, especially since Senator Tom Carper said: “we will conference, I’m sure, with the House and we will have an opportunity to revisit this, so I just hope you’ll stay in touch with those of us who might be fortunate enough to be a conferee.” As Marcy Wheeler points out, “as Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee [,he] would almost certainly be included in any conference on the bill.

What’s wrong with CISA

[T]this bill will do little to make Americans safer but will potentially reduce the personal privacy of millions of Americans in a very substantial way.

We couldn’t agree more with Senator Wyden’s analysis of the problems with CISA.

While we will push for changes in conference, nothing can fix the fact that CISA’s raison d’etre—giving the government more information—is not going to improve our security.  It doesn't address the real cybersecurity problems that caused major computer data breaches like Target and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). And that fundamental flaw is on top of the fact that CISA has vague definitions of key terms, creates aggressive new spying authorities for the government, and would make it much harder to sue companies that share your personal information for cybersecurity purposes.

Many of the companies that would supposedly benefit from CISA opposed the bill. Industry trade groups the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Business Software Alliance came out against CISA in the last month leading up to the CISA vote. They were joined by Salesforce, Twitter, reddit, Yelp, and Apple. And security giant Symantec also "refuse[d] to support the bill," because it would have allowed “cyber threat indicators” to be used for purposes other than cybersecurity.

In other words, CISA sacrifices privacy for an illusion of better security, as Senator Wyden pointed out.

Why Senator Whitehouse’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act amendment is so dangerous

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the federal anti-hacking law, has draconian penalties for poorly defined crimes. As a consequence, overzealous prosecutors can abuse the law by bringing criminal charges that are politically motivated,and pushing for harsh sentencing. The prosecution of activist Jeremy Hammond is a good example: he was charged with violating the CFAA after he allegedly hacked into the systems of private intelligence contractor Stratfor and leaked material that exposed surveillance on political protesters at the behest of both private companies and the government. He's now spending ten years in jail.

Senator Whitehouse’s amendment would have made the CFAA even easier to abuse. Its language created new CFAA crimes while lessening judicial oversight for sentencing of those crimes, all while lowering the standard for prosecuting some CFAA crimes. It also expanded trafficking prohibitions in a way that would threaten security research.  

CFAA needs to be fixed, not worsened.

What’s next

With the impending discussions about the budget, CISA may not be considered for several weeks. We’ll be keeping an eye out. And when it goes to conference, we’ll make it easy for you to let the conferees from the House and Senate know that these dangerous changes to the CFAA must not be included in the final legislation. 

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FBI Returns Seized Devices to EFF Client - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 10:29

EFF is pleased to announce that our client, Chris Roberts, is now in the possession of all of his digital devices that had been held by the FBI since April 2015.

Earlier this year, Mr. Roberts was detained for tweeting about airplane network security. When he landed in Syracuse, the FBI escorted him off the plane, questioned him for several hours, and seized all of his computer equipment.

We are relieved that, as of this week, the FBI has returned all of that equipment. Like many others in the security community, Roberts’ interest has always been to identify vulnerabilities in networks so that they can be fixed, making us all safer. We would like to thank our co-counsel at Keker & Van Nest LLP for their pro bono assistance on this matter.

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EFF Challenges Informal Government Censorship - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 09:00

EFF, along with the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in the case of v. Dart. sued Thomas Dart, the sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, arguing that the sheriff’s successful campaign to get Visa and MasterCard to cease providing financial services to the website amounted to informal government censorship in violation of the First Amendment.

We agree.

Internet intermediaries such as ISPs, web hosting companies, websites, and other service providers—as well as the financial institutions that support them and their users—are in positions of tremendous power within the online ecosystem. The ability of Internet users to communicate freely, access information, and engage in commerce is necessarily tied to these intermediaries.

Sometimes intermediaries act independently in ways that affect online speech such as taking down content or deleting accounts if they think users have violated the terms of service.

Other times, such as in this case, intermediaries like Visa and MasterCard cave to public or government pressure to take actions that affect online speech. Intermediaries, as private companies, do not violate the First Amendment when they do so. But government officials such as Sheriff Dart may not use their positions of authority to communicate express or implied threats of legal liability to coerce companies into taking actions that affect speech—whether online or offline.

Citing the Supreme Court case Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan (1963), in our brief, we explain that “intermediaries are vulnerable to improper censorship pressures, especially from law enforcement” because of “the limited incentives for many intermediaries to willingly defend First Amendment interests not their own, and the practical barriers preventing most speakers and audiences from being able to do so.”

As we argue in the brief, such government coercion is different than simple advocacy and violates the First Amendment.

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Nightmarish TPP Text Revealed - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 03:32
Nightmarish TPP Text Revealed
by Stephen Lendman
TPP now revealed in full is one of the latest examples of how fascists running things in Washington harm public welfare and safety - in bed with predatory monied interests exclusively. Theirs alone matter.
This outrageous deal hangs the vast majority of Americans out to dry, sacrificing them on the altar of corporate profits as a be all and end all, an example of over-the-top greed and contempt for ordinary people.
Monied interests crafted their own sweetheart deal with full Obama administration support, a dagger in the heart of consumer safety and welfare.
Obama lied claiming it has “strong protections for workers and the environment…(It) puts American workers first.” TPP is nightmarishly anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment, contemptuously spurning the public interest.
It’s sweeping, massive in length and detail - 30 chapters containing over 2,000 pages, a huge task for anyone to digest and fully understand.
It’s a one-sided corporate giveaway, a heist now revealed in plain sight, revealing entirely lost American values. Whatever once existed disappeared down a sinkhole of big monied interests, given added power to exploit ordinary people in all TPP signatory countries, they alone benefitting.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said the deal confirms its worst fears about undermining popular rights, including “online and over our digital devices and content.”
“The investment chapter defines ‘intellectual property’ as an asset that can be subject to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process.” Companies can sue any TPP nation, claiming rules it introduced allegedly harmed their copyright interests, with vast TPP afforded latitude to prevail.
The E-Commerce chapter is hugely anti-consumer, able to claim an “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade” to be determined in a corporate-controlled investment court, “not by a data protection authority or human rights tribunal,” EFF explained.
The Article 14.10 Net Neutrality provision is deplorably weak - “meaningless,” said EFF. “Rather than establishing any sort of enforceable obligation, the parties merely ‘recognise the benefits’ of the access and use of services and applications of a consumer's choice, the connection of end-user devices of the consumer's choice, and the availability of information on network management practices.”  Development of strong,  meaningful global Net Neutrality standards is impeded.
The Telecommunications Chapter fails to protect end users’ privacy and security - “causing serious human rights infringements of users,” said EFF.
It called the text’s release at this time “somewhat fishy,” seeming to comply with Fast Track provisions - requiring full online disclosure 30 days after notifying Congress Obama intends to sign the deal.
“Only after 60 days from the release (so a full 90 days from submitting the deal for signature) can Obama sign (it, then put it) before Congress for ratification,” EFF explained.
“So far, no one has (formally) indicated…White House…intent(ion) to sign.” If so, at least three months remain before Obama can officially enact it into law. 
“(G)iven how underhanded this administration has been about the TPP all of these years, we have reason to be suspicious, and we fear that they could be surreptitiously moving ahead with the Fast Track trade approval process,” EFF stressed.
The administration proved time and again it can’t be trusted. On virtually everything mattering most to public welfare, it sided with dark forces profiting at its expense.
EFF intends going all-out “to ensure this agreement never gets ratified (by Congress) or any other country that is a party to this deal. (G)overnment officials need to hear from us loud and clear that we won’t stand by and let them trade away our rights to powerful multinational corporations.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (GTW) was just as outspoken. TPP is “Worse Than We Thought,” it headlined. GTW director Lori Wallach said negotiating authorities “resorted to such extreme secrecy during (talks) because the text shows that the TPP would offshore more American jobs, lower our wages, flood us with unsafe imported food and expose our laws to attack in (corporate-controlled) tribunals.”
“When the administration says it used the TPP to renegotiate NAFTA, few expected that meant doubling down on the worst job-killing, wage-suppressing NAFTA terms, expanding limits on food safety and rolling back past reforms on environmental standards and access to affordable drugs.”
It remains to be seen how Congress reacts. Members say one thing, then do another. Many indicated their support depends on assuring access to affordable drugs. TPP does the opposite, assuring greater escalated prices than already.
Its text “confirms that demands made by Congress and key constituencies were not fulfilled,” said GTW. “(T)he final text is worse than we expected with the demands of the 500 official US trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest,” Wallach explained.
She believes TPP’s fate in Congress “is uncertain at best given that since (Fast Track approval), House members providing its margin of victory possible “expressed concerns that the text released shows (their interests) not addressed.
Hopefully Wallach is right, saying with Obama’s “myth-based sales job” exposed, congressional passage is “further dimm(ed).” Sustained public outrage is all the more important.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Meet Israel's Terminator - Sat, 07/11/2015 - 02:14
Meet Israel’s Terminator
by Stephen Lendman
Actor, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gained US film fame as Hollywood’s “Terminator,” followed by a television series, comic books, novels, and recognition by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” filmography.
Schwarzenegger’s role was fictional. Israel has the real thing. On November 5, the Jewish Press (JP) headlined “Meet the Terminator: IDF Soldier Killed 3 Terrorists in 2 Weeks,” identifying him as “Cpl. T” - “serving in the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.”
Palestinians are shamelessly called knife-wielding terrorists. Killer soldiers, police and extremist settlers are national heroes. Cold blood murder is considered self-defense.
Cpl. T has blood on his hands at least thrice, justifying murder by claiming he foiled stabbing attempts - the pre-scripted IDF explanation, justifying all killings of Palestinians, including young children and women, eyewitness and video evidence often refuting official Israeli accounts.
According to JP, “Kfir Brigade officers commended the rapid response and cool temper of the warrior, who prevented more serious results.” 
“(H)e is a young warrior, who’s only been in uniform a total of eight months, only two of those in operational duty…(It) did not affect his focused and precise actions in both cases. The Shimshon Battalion to which he belongs has been dealing over the past month with many of the attacks in the Etzion area, north of Hebron.”
YNet News praised his “alert and accurate response,” calling it “impressive,” showing Palestinian lives and welfare don’t matter, terrorized under the boot of a ruthless occupier.
Soldiers during training are taught to hate Arabs. Killing them extrajudicially is OK, eliciting praise and promotions, not condemnation and punishment.
Israel’s “shoot to kill” policy leaves all Palestinians vulnerable. They’re gunned down in cold blood, extrajudicially assassinated. On Friday, a Palestinian woman threatening no one was lethally shot 50 times with live fire.
Israeli authorities claimed she tried running over Israeli soldiers with her car. Yet none were reported injured, not even a scratch.
New Arab World for Research and Development Center (Awrad) poll results show Palestinian support for a new intifada rose from 26% in July to 63% currently. Millions are justifiably enraged over ongoing Israeli state-sponsored terrorism, affecting the entire population.
Palestinian deaths, injuries and mass arrests keep rising daily, an entire population being collectively punished, blamed for Israel’s high crimes.
On Thursday, Hebron youth Malek Talal Sharif was lethally shot multiple times with live fire, another phony stabbing attempt claimed - 77 Palestinian deaths so far since October 1, many thousands injured and/or arrested, including around 500 children.
On Thursday, the hardline Israeli news site Arutz Sheva removed a main page posted children’s game titled “Neutralize the Terrorist,” urging them to “assist security forces in neutralizing the terrorists that are attacking us…Help the IDF win.”
Separately, Youths Against Settlements (YAS) activist Mohammed Zoghour remains isolated in detention, arbitrarily arrested last week after demanding Israel return bodies of slain Palestinians.
He’s denied outside contacts, including access to counsel. No information was released on why he’s held, nothing about his certain brutal interrogation.
A YAS statement said it’s “deeply concerned about the illegitimate and arbitrary arrest of Mohammed Zoghour, his transfer to the secret service interrogation center in Israel, the denial of contact to his lawyer, and thereby the denial of a fair and legitimate trial.”
“The arrest of Mohammed Zoghour comes in the midst of a wave of unjustifiable disproportionate repression of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
“Over the past weeks, Israeli forces have arbitrarily arrested thousands of Palestinians for exercising their legitimate right to take part in the popular struggle against the military occupation…Israeli provocations at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and settler violence.”
YAS called for his immediate release. Israel may want him administratively detained uncharged and untried indefinitely - commonplace police state practice.
A Final Comment
On Thursday, political prisoner Muhammad Allan was released at last, following a year’s detention uncharged and untried. His two month hunger strike for justice nearly killed him.
At a homecoming welcome, he said: “Thank God who favored us with what we asked for. Thank God who brought us out of these dark prisons.”
He’s a marked man despite gaining worldwide attention and support - as vulnerable as before, subject to rearrest any time Israel chooses to target him unjustly again.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

No Moderate Syrian Rebels Exist - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 21:33
No Moderate Syrian Rebels Exist
by Stephen Lendman
US claims otherwise are a complete fabrication. All anti-Assad forces are US-trained, armed, funded, and directed terrorists, taught the fine art of killing, committing atrocities and using chemical weapons - including ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and various splinter groups.
The so-called Free Syrian Army and other alleged “moderates” exist only in US and go-along media propaganda reports, willful misinformation to deceive an uninformed public.
Wars depend on lies to gain popular support, or at least no significant opposition. Often they collapse under the own weight. 
Putin’s righteous Syrian mission shows the emperor has no clothes. If enough Americans pay attention and express outrage, Washington’s imperial Middle East agenda may falter, perhaps collapse. It’s already wobbly.
ISIS et al represent proxy US foot soldiers, imported abroad from scores of countries. They’re all legitimate Russian targets, all being battered by formidable air power to Washington’s consternation, wrecking its regional agenda - for the first time, a real challenge to its hegemonic aims.
Putin is effectively contesting Obama’s dirty game. Washington has no effective counter-strategy, increasingly transparent propaganda and dubious military moves alone, along with continued Russia bashing and fear-mongering.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, two State Department officials repeated tired old Big Lies.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson and her European and Eurasian Affairs counterpart Victoria Nuland committed perjury - claiming Russian air strikes hit 85 to 90% “moderate” rebels and civilians in areas with no ISIS presence.
“Russia's military intervention has dangerously exacerbated an already complex environment," Patterson blustered.
“(T)his has not been a Russian fight against terrorism so much as an effort to preserve the Assad regime,” she duplicitously claimed.
Nuland remains infamous for orchestrating the coup against Ukraine’s sitting government, replacing it with Nazi-infested putchists - responsible for aggression against its own people and virtually every imaginable human rights abuse.
Her testimony was a litany of Big Lies, saying Assad “continues to barrel bomb its own citizens with impunity, perhaps even emboldened by Moscow’s help.”
“The vast majority of Russian air strikes are targeted in areas where the Assad regime has lost territory to forces led by the moderate opposition.” 
“We are accelerating the work we are doing to support the moderate Syrian opposition and to protect Syria’s neighbors” - code language of US supporting ISIS and other takfiri terrorists.
“(W)e are awaiting further evidence that Russia is sincere in its claims to want to fight ISIL and save Syria for the Syrian people, rather than simply protecting the dictator who bears direct responsibility for the country’s destruction...The quality of our cooperation with Russia in Syria depends on the choices Moscow makes.”
It’s hard imagining anyone believes Nuland’s utter disregard for the truth. Her public record betrays her, revealing her deplorable neocon credentials - supporting endless wars of aggression, responsible for devastating mass slaughter and destruction.
“What would positive cooperation by Russia look like,” she asked? Cease its military campaign, “insist” Assad pull back, work with Washington and its (rogue) partners for resolving things diplomatically.
Fact: No nation has done more to restore peace and stability to Syria than Russia - none more committed to endless aggression and regime change than America.
Fact: Russia scrupulously observes international laws, norms and standards.
Fact: America systematically breaches them, operating solely by its own rules for its imperial objectives, raping one nation after another in the process.
Who are the so-called “moderate” rebels Washington consistently touts? Where are they? Last month, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia can’t identify them. Washington provides no information.
“From the very beginning of the operation in Syria, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have expressed the readiness to interact with the so-called moderate opposition,” Peskov explained. 
“At the same time, it had to be stated that attempts to identify the so-called moderate opposition remained unsuccessful all the way.”
“(N)o moderate forces can be spotted in the patchy mass of terrorist and extremist organizations that pose a threat to Syria’s territorial and political integrity.”
“Regrettably, neither the US nor European partners, nor somebody else has been able to help us with this identification. Other countries are unable to point to some moderate forces capable of taking care of a settlement in Syria. Regrettably, there have been no tangible results.”
State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby claims some (nonexistent) “moderate” rebels switched sides. Hot war success depends heavily on winning the propaganda one. 
Putin’s effective war on terrorism shows America is losing on both fronts. He’s the preeminent leader for world peace and stability.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Netanyahu's New PR Chief - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 21:13
Netanyahu’s New PR Chief
by Stephen Lendman
Leaders are best understood by their policies and appointees. Netanyahu’s new Arab-hating UN envoy Danny Danon claims Palestinian leaders teach “kids to stab Jews at school. (They) established an incubator to raise children as terrorists.”
Extremist settler Ran Baratz is new Netanyahu PR chief, dependent on cabinet ministers approving him next week. 
He’s another polarizing figure, best known for favoring unlimited settlement expansion on stolen Palestinian land, wanting Al-Aqsa replaced by a third Jewish temple, denying Muslims access to Islam’s third holiest site unless they recognize equal rights there for Jews, and most recently insulting Obama and John Kerry.
On Facebook, he said (a)llow me to diverge from my usual moderate ways and be a bit blunt. Obama’s response to Netanyahu’s (congressional) speech - this is what modern anti-Semitism looks like in Western and liberal countries.” 
“And it comes, of course, alongside much tolerance and understanding toward Islamic anti-Semitism; so much tolerance and understanding that they’ll even give them (a nuclear bomb, referring to Iran).”
Baratz is no dummy. He earned a Hebrew University doctorate summa cum laude. He’s founding editor of the conservative Hebrew language news site Mida, as well as Tikvah Fund’s (TF) Political Thought, Economic and Strategy program executive director. TF is over-the-top neoliberal and ideologically hardline Zionist.
Baratz formerly taught philosophy, history and Zionist ideology at various Israeli academic institutions - including Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Cornerstones program. Israeli newspapers and periodicals feature his commentaries.
He criticized Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for flying home from a Czech Republic visit in coach, saying:
“I think it says a lot that the president flies in economy class, goes around the plane and shakes hands with everyone. In particular it says that he’s such a marginal figure that there’s no concern for his life.”
Rivlin responded harshly “demand(ing) to know if his statements were known to (Netanyahu) when he decided to appoint him to the post.”
His appointment needs cabinet approval next week. Likud ministers Gila Gamliel and Haim Katz oppose him. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said he should be “sent home.”
In mid-October, he criticized a John Kerry speech, saying “I went to see (his) speech, where he linked Israel and the Islamic State, and it was pretty hilarious, so I summed it up for you.” 
“After his term as secretary of state, Kerry can look forward to a flourishing career in one of the comedy clubs in Kansas City (scene of multiple shootings in April 2014), Mosul or the Holot detention facility” where African asylum seekers are confined and abused.
In an online column he said “(t)o Kerry’s credit, it should be noted that there is no Miss America around who could say what he said any better. This is the time to wish the secretary of state good luck, and to count down the days with the hope that someone over there at the State Department will wake up and begin to see the world through the eyes of a person whose mental age exceeds 12."
State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby called his comments “troubling and offensive. We obviously expect government officials from any country, especially our closest allies, to speak respectfully and truthfully about senior US government officials. We understand (Netanyahu) will be reviewing this appointment…”
Yediot Ahronot daily satirist Mika Almog commented, saying “(t)his is the man the prime minister chose to be my mouthpiece, all of our mouthpieces, to talk to the world in our names. This man, with his words dripping with poison, his mouth is our mouth now.”
If approved next week, he’ll be Netanyahu’s communications chief and media advisor. On November 9, Netanyahu meets with Obama in Washington. Baratz won’t accompany him on the trip.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

EFF Asks Supreme Court to Apply First Amendment to Speech About Celebrities - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 10:42

Imagine if public figures were given veto power over creative works that depicted or referenced them. Every biographer would need permission from his or her subject. Every documentary film producer would need to run the film by the people featured in it. Every cartoonist would need permission for every caricature. Our ability to make art that is inspired by, or comments on, the real world would be sharply limited.

Unfortunately, recent decades have seen an expansion of a cause of action, known as the right of publicity, that increasingly gives celebrities the ability to do just that. Today, EFF, together with the Organization for Transformative Works and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, filed a brief [PDF] asking the Supreme Court to reverse this trend, and make sure that our robust First Amendment protection for speech extends to speech about famous people.

The right of publicity is an offshoot of state privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness, or identity for commercial purposes. While a limited version of this right makes sense (for example, allowing people to prevent companies from using their name in an ad without permission), it has expanded well beyond its original boundaries. Today, it covers just about any speech that “evokes” a person’s identity. Celebrities have brought right of publicity cases against movies, songs, magazine features, and computer games. In one notable case, a comic book publisher was driven into bankruptcy thanks to a minor character with a nickname inspired by a professional hockey player.

Today’s case, EA v. Davis, involves former professional football players whose biographical details (such as position, height, and weight) were incorporated into historical NFL teams available on EA’s Madden NFL computer game. The Ninth Circuit dismissed any free speech concerns and found EA liable because the game failed to “transform” the identity or likeness of the players. EA has asked the Supreme Court to reverse, contending that the Ninth Circuit applied the wrong test, with dangerous consequences for free speech.

We agree. The Ninth Circuit’s rule, which clumsily imports that "transformativeness" principle found in copyright fair use law, makes no sense for right of publicity cases. While EA might not be the most sympathetic advocate for free speech (it is paying current players who appear in the same game), the rule in this case has a potential impact far beyond this particular game, potentially affecting any speech that depicts a real person. All kinds of valuable speech, such as biographies or documentaries, involves depicting real people as accurately as possible. Why should these works be less protected by the First Amendment? If the transformative use test is allowed to stand, it will become harder to create and artistic work based on real people without their permission. The likely result: celebrities of all stripes (actors, politicians, businesspeople) can effectively veto any portrayal they don’t like.

Other amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to take this case were filed today by 31 constitutional law professors [PDF], the Entertainment Software Alliance [PDF], and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression [PDF]. We hope the Court heeds this advice and applies robust free speech protection to speech about public figures.

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Facebook's New Name Policy Changes are Progress, Not Perfection - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 09:07

Facebook has responded to an October 5 open letter from a global coalition, including EFF, about its broken “authentic name policy.” Facebook’s response is a step in the right direction. It's also not the last change to the policy we’ll see, since Facebook notes “we’re making changes now and in the future.” Facebook says it “want[s] to reduce the # of people asked to verify ID.” Facebook and the Nameless Coalition share that goal, and these suggestions will help achieve it. But they still leave some users out in the cold.  

The Nameless Coalition letter was signed by over 80 individuals and organizations. The signatories, which include US-based groups like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the ACLU as well as digital rights and human rights groups from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia such as the Internet Democracy Project, India, serve different populations and work on different issues. But we all agree on one thing: Facebook should get rid of its names policy altogether. In the meantime, the letter made five concrete suggestions to Facebook about how to lessen the harm caused by the policy, and asked for a response by October 31:

  • Commit to allowing pseudonyms and non-legal names on its site in appropriate circumstances, including but not limited to situations where using an every day name would put a user in danger, or situations where local law requires the ability to use pseudonyms.
  • Require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence. This could come in written form, multiple-choice questions, or some alternative documentation.
  • Create a compliance process through which users can confirm their identities without submitting government ID. This could include allowing users to submit written evidence, answer multiple-choice questions, or provide alternative documentation such as links to blog posts or other online platforms where they use the same identity.
  • Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it. Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.
  • Provide a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts. This could include the ability to request a second review, to submit different types of evidence, and to speak to a real Facebook employee, especially in cases involving safety. 

On October 30, Facebook responded.

More on the response below. But first, it's important to remember that convincing a company that provides a service to nearly 20% of the world's population isn't easy. Facebook has made changes only because of user feedback and campaigns like the Nameless Coalition and MyNameIs. That's why we're counting this as a step in the right direction. Even though Facebook is only making small modifications over time, every change activists advocate for that gets implemented will help at least some users continue to access Facebook—and that's progress. 


Facebook specifically states that they plan on rolling out tests on these process changes in December. Many of the signatories to the letter have been informing Facebook that the name policy is a problem for years, and some have even been working with Facebook for over a year now to discuss specific changes, so having a timeline is important.

We'll keep pushing Facebook to be transparent about when people can expect any changes to roll out in their region. We'll also keep working to ensure that Facebook hears the feedback users have on these changes, and we'll do a specific follow-up once testing has started. 

Changes to reporting

Since Facebook only enforces its name policy when one user reports another, it has been used to harass and silence some of Facebook's most vulnerable users. In particular, the letter and appendix pointed to a recent rash of attacks on Indian feminists on Facebook. They've been pushed off the site by targeted reporting campaigns, and they're not alone.

This is hardly surprising, since as the coalition’s letter points out; “[a]ny user can file as many reports as they wish, as quickly as they wish, allowing targeted reporting sprees.”

That's why the coalition asked Facebook to “require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence.” Facebook directly responded to this, and will now require “people to provide additional information about why they are reporting a profile.” This will require people to click through another list of options, which will be focused on behavior. They'll also have to fill out a text field, making the entire reporting process take longer.

Facebook's change responds to one of the biggest concerns expressed in the Nameless Coalition letter- that the name policy is a tool to silence people. How it will work in practice will remain to be seen.

Changes to enforcement and appeals

Once someone has been reported on Facebook, their experience trying to get back on the site may be so difficult that they give up. As Lil Miss Hot Mess of MyNameIs pointed out: “many feel that they're talking to robots when in fact they're receiving canned responses from humans.” That's why the letter demanded “a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts,” including the ability “to speak to a real Facebook employee, especially in cases involving safety.”

Facebook's commitment to a new process that will allow people “to give more information about their situation and receive more personalized help throughout the confirmation process” is a very welcome change. When the need for additional assistance is identified, Facebook will channel users to a team of its most experienced staff. Instead of rehashing pre-written responses, this team must engage closely with users, and prioritize those who are in real danger, such as outed human rights activists or trans people.


The coalition letter raised concerns about how Facebook protects users as they submit information to  prove their identities, especially for users in authoritarian countries. In the face of revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden that the “the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,” these aren’t imaginary concerns. Facebook is a prime target for surveillance. In response to these Snowden documents, Mark Zucerkberg wrote “ When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government.” But there’s no question that Facebook should be concerned about government surveillance—from the United States, but also from the other countries in which it operates. 

Facebook’s response to these security concerns in the letter noted that  “when people submit IDs to us, the information is encrypted.” However, this relies on the security of HTTPS, which may not always be enough, especially in an authoritarian country that could present a false Facebook certificate to the user. In fact, exactly this situation played out in Syria in 2011. Adding support for more secure encryption protocols such as PGP would provide an extra layer of protection for those who need it.

Facebook made one encouraging change: “IDs submitted to Facebook as part of this process will be encrypted when they are temporarily stored on our servers. The ability of our team to decrypt these IDs will expire after 30 days. The encrypted IDs will then be deleted shortly after that.”

Even with these changes, the policy still needs to go away

Of course, all of these complicated changes could be avoided if Facebook would simply get rid of the names policy. The company continues to say it keeps people safer, and even says in the letter that “[a] review of our reports from earlier this year showed that bullying, harassment or other abuse on Facebook is eight times more likely to be committed by people using names other than their own than by the rest of the Facebook community.”

Unfortunately, it's unclear what reports Facebook was referring to or how they decided a user was using a name other than their own. It's also unclear what sorts of abuse the company is talking about. But it seems Facebook's calculus here is off. The organizations in the Nameless Coalition have heard and shared myriad stories about how the name policy itself seriously endangers people. Being outed in a country where your human rights activism could get you tortured, for example, is clearly an incredibly dangerous situation. And Facebook still doesn't treat maliciously accusing another user of violating the names policy as harassment. Without statistics on that, Facebook can hardly claim the policy is the right solution to harassment and abuse.

The biggest thing missing from Facebook's response, though, is that it does not solve the problem for people who genuinely need to use a pseudonym. In fact, the response completely ignores domestic violence survivors or trans people who aren't out to everyone. For activists, it suggests that pages “may be useful to people who do not want to use their personal profiles for advocacy.”   

But pages and profiles aren’t the same, either in the eyes of Facebook or other users. Pages can't make friend requests: administrators must hope people find and like the page, which hardly makes sense for activists who are doing community organizing. Pages also can't comment on Profiles, join groups, or comment on group posts. The fact that they can't join groups is key. Facebook has groups that facilitate incredible amounts of community—many of which are not public. Many sexual assault or domestic violence survivors, activists, LGBTQ youth, and trans people use these groups as one of the only support systems available to them, and one of the best—and sometimes only—platforms available to share information on. For these users, Facebook would lose any real utility without the ability to fully engage in communities. Facebook should recognize this and extend its commitment to improving Facebook to all of these users.

What's next?

We know there is more work to be done, and we want to incorporate your ongoing feedback as we continue working on this.

Like Facebook, the Nameless Coalition doesn't see this response as the end of the work that needs to be done to make Facebook accessible and safe for all users, regardless of their identity. In fact, it's just beginning. Facebook continues to grow.1 As they do, they should take this opportunity to become more proactive about considering how their policies will affect users. And when they make that assessment, they should reach out to community organizations and activists around the world, and consider the many use cases, cultural, political, and linguistic contexts the signatories to the Nameless Coalition's letter represent.

All that being said, these changes are encouraging. None of them would have been possible without concerned activists and pressure on Facebook. And Facebook points out in its response that its data about the problems people are facing will be enhanced by these changes. That's why we plan on continuing this conversation as these changes roll out.

  • 1. This is especially important considering that Facebook is specifically focused on growth in India, and India is currently Facebook's second-largest market after the United States. As Facebook becomes ever-more ubiquitous there, it will either facilitate rich communication between users, or it will create new avenues for the most marginalized Indians to be repressed.
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EFF at Congressional Roundtable: Do U.S. Copyright Laws Work in the Digital Age? - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 06:29
U.S. House Judiciary Committee Hosts Discussion in Santa Clara

Santa Clara, California—On Monday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m., Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Kit Walsh will participate in a roundtable discussion about U.S. copyright laws convened by the House Judiciary Committee, which is undertaking the first comprehensive review of the nation’s copyright laws since the 1960s.

Copyright was intended to promote creativity, but the law has not developed to support the explosion of creativity enabled by new technologies. Too often, copyright is instead being abused to shut down innovation, creative expression, and even everyday activities like tinkering with your car. At the roundtable discussion being held at Santa Clara University on Monday, Walsh will speak about reforming Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), an overbroad law that locks device owners out of their software and media. Walsh will also discuss the need to reduce the exorbitant “statutory damages” available to copyright claimants—even when rightsholders suffered no harm—so that users of copyrighted works do not face a financial death sentence if they misstep in exercising their rights to remix and tinker. Finally, she will discuss how Congress can ensure that one-sided click-through agreements don’t strip users of their freedoms under copyright law or the right to resell things they’ve purchased.

Monday’s roundtable discussion is the latest in a series of hearings and talks, hosted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and joined by creators, innovators, technology professionals, and users of copyrighted works. Goodlatte announced in 2013 that the committee would conduct a review of U.S. copyright laws to determine whether they are still working in the digital age to reward creativity and innovation.

House Judiciary Committee Roundtable Discussion on U.S. Copyright Laws

EFF Staff Attorney Kit Walsh

Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 2 p.m.

Santa Clara University
Locatelli Center
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, California

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Release of the Full TPP Text After Five Years of Secrecy Confirms Threats to Users’ Rights - Fri, 06/11/2015 - 05:39

Update [11/9/2015]: President Obama formally notified Congress of his intent to sign the TPP on Thursday November 5—90 days after which he may sign the agreement and send the agreement to Congress for ratification.

Trade offices involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have finally released all 30 chapters of the trade deal today, a month after announcing the conclusion of the deal in Atlanta. Some of the more dangerous threats to the public's rights to free expression, access to knowledge, and privacy online are contained in the copyright provisions in the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter, which we analyzed based on the final version leaked by Wikileaks two weeks ago and which are unchanged in the final release. Now that the entire agreement is published, we can see how other chapters of the agreement contain further harmful rules that undermine our rights online and over our digital devices and content.

Investment Chapter

The most shocking revelation from today’s release is how the TPP's Investment chapter defines "intellectual property" as an asset that can be subject to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process. What this means is that companies could sue any of the TPP nations for introducing rules that they allege harm their right to exploit their copyright interests—such as new rights to use copyrighted works for some public interest purpose. A good example of this might be a country wishing to limit civil penalties for copyright infringement of orphan works, which are works whose authors are deceased or are nowhere to be found.

While it was earlier rumored that IP disputes may have been excluded from the ISDS process, or at least that there might be some safeguards included, the Investment chapter reinforces our fear that new, democratically-decided user protections within copyright can be attacked by an ISDS challenge. This is far from just a hypothetical threat. A good example of just how far companies might go in enforcing their claimed rights using ISDS is the claim brought by Philip Morris against Australia under a similar free trade agreement, alleging that its trademark rights were infringed by the country’s cigarette plain packaging laws. This ISDS mechanism can be characterized as a tool for private industry to directly undermine democracy and any public interest rule.

Electronic Commerce Chapter

Second to the IP chapter and sweeping menace that is the Investment chapter, the E-Commerce chapter has the next most serious ramifications for users, and it mirrors the same chapter of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) in many ways.

The supposed benefit of this chapter most touted by big tech companies is that it restricts the use of data localization laws, which are laws that require companies to host servers within a country’s borders, or prohibit them from transferring certain data overseas (in Articles 14.11 and 14.13). Although we generally agree that data localization is an ineffective approach to the protection of personal data, a trade agreement is the wrong place for a sweeping prohibition of such practices. For particularly sensitive user data, regulating cross-border transfer of that data or its storage on vulnerable overseas servers may be a valid policy option. The E-Commerce chapter does not prohibit recourse to this option altogether, but imposes a strict test that such measures must not amount to “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade”—a test that would be applied by an investment court, not by a data protection authority or human rights tribunal.

This prioritization of trade interests over privacy rights pervades the rest of the chapter also. For example, Article 14.8 on Personal Information Protection contains a footnote providing that "a Party may comply with the obligation in this paragraph by ... laws that provide for the enforcement of voluntary undertakings by enterprises relating to privacy." In other words, it is perfectly okay for countries to allow online advertising networks and data brokers to write their own rules for personal data protection, provided that the law holds them to these weak and self-serving standards. To characterize this as establishing any standard of data protection at all for the TPP countries is laughable; on the contrary, it legitimizes the lack of effective protection and fails to raise the bar even an inch.

Worse than that, paragraph 5 of Article 14.8 goes further by encouraging the parties to develop mechanisms to promote compatibility between their various privacy and data protection regimes. What this means is that parties with comprehensive personal data protection laws are encouraged to treat the weak, voluntary arrangements of other parties as in some way equivalent to their own, in order to streamline the exchange of data by these parties across borders. This is the same approach that was embodied in the EU-US Safe Harbor Agreement, that was thrown out by the European Court of Justice this month.

Similarly, the provision on net neutrality in Article 14.10 is so weak as to be meaningless.  Rather than establishing any sort of enforceable obligation, the parties merely "recognise the benefits" of the access and use of services and applications of a consumer's choice, the connection of end-user devices of the consumer's choice, and the availability of information on network management practices. To the extent that the TPP countries can falsely point to this provision as "addressing" net neutrality, it may actually impede the development of stronger, more meaningful global standards.

The provision on spam control in Article 14.14 is similarly empty. It requires "measures regarding unsolicited commercial electronic messages" to be taken, but offers the weakest possible guidance on what these should be. The measures may include requirements on suppliers to allow users to opt out from receipt of messages, or require opt-in consent, or… "otherwise provide for the minimisation" of such messages. In sum, then, by backing away from a meaningful commitment to do anything, it requires nothing substantive at all. If anything, this is a signal that trade agreements are really not a useful venue for addressing the spam problem.

Article 14.17 prohibits countries from requiring the disclosure of source code of mass-market software or products containing such software. This cuts off one possible avenue that, to take one example, has recently been proposed to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for addressing the dire state of security in consumer-level routers by a panel of 260 cybersecurity experts. This could also inhibit countries from addressing other software security incidents for which access to the source code of the software is required.

Telecommunications Chapter

Reminiscent of the E-Commerce chapter, Article 13.4 of the Telecommunications Chapter effectively establishes a hierarchy of interests between unfettered trade in telecommunications services (which is prioritized first, in paragraph 3) and measures to protect the security and confidentiality of messages and to protect the privacy of personal data of end-users (which is placed second, in paragraph 4). The subordination of security and privacy interests of users to the commercial interests of business is established by the fact that the former are only allowed to be taken into account if it can be established that they are not "a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade in services."

This is completely backward. There is no value in having telecommunications services if they do not protect the privacy and security of end users; in fact, such services can be positively harmful, causing serious human rights infringements of users. In any other context, human rights would trump commercial considerations—in fact, this would go entirely without saying—but in the topsy-turvy world of trade negotiations, it’s the other way around.


The timing of this official release of the text feels somewhat fishy. The White House seems to be complying with the text disclosure requirements in the Fast Track trade bill that passed this summer, which obliges them to release the entire agreement online 30 days after submitting to Congress the President's intent to sign the deal. Only after 60 days from the release (so a full 90 days from submitting the deal for signature) can Obama sign the deal, to then put the agreement before Congress for ratification.

So far no one has indicated that the White House has declared their intent to sign. If they truly haven’t, it means that there’s still at least three months before Obama can officially sign the agreement. But given how underhanded this administration has been about the TPP all of these years, we have reason to be suspicious, and we fear that they could be surreptitiously moving ahead with the Fast Track trade approval process.

Now that we finally have the final text of this agreement, we'll be digging deeper into the implications of this sprawling agreement in the days and weeks to come. However, if there's one thing we can take away from this, it's that the TPP's secretive, lobbyist-controlled policymaking process has led to a deal that upholds corporate rights and interests at the direct expense of all of our digital rights. We’re going to do all we can to ensure this agreement never gets ratified by the United States Congress or any other country that is a party to this deal. To do so, government officials need to hear from us loud and clear that we won’t stand by and let them trade away our rights to powerful multinational corporations.

If you’re in the Washington DC area, please join us to protest against the TPP and other secret trade deals in the Capitol on November 16 and 17.

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