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Palestinian Authority Hypocrisy - Sat, 09/05/2015 - 03:16
Palestinian Authority Hypocrisy
by Stephen Lendman
On May 7, Netanyahu announced the most lunatic fringe coalition regime in Israel's history. 
It includes racist hate-mongers, over-the-top fascists and religious fundamentalist zealots - an incendiary combination threatening regional peace and stability. 
Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said "(t)he face of a new form of racist, discriminatory Israel has been revealed."
Netanyahu is "leading the charge to bury the two-state solution and impose a perpetual apartheid regime."
He formed a new government "of war which will be against peace and stability in our region."
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said Netanyahu must choose between peace and a two-state solution or a "policy of aggression and arbitrary violations against our people."
The PLO negotiations department issued a statement saying:
Netanyahu's new "right-wing extremist government is not a partner for peace when the leaders call for the annexation of Palestinian land and the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population and the genocide against our people."
It's long overdue for Israel to be held accountable for "crimes and violations against our people."
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh said the new government will increase "settlement activities and the Judaization of the West Bank, while at the same time isolating the Gaza Strip."
He said Palestinians should respond through greater resistance - "exposing Netanyahu's racist policies before the international community."
Straightaway, his regime approved 900 new illegal East Jerusalem housing units on stolen Palestinian land - even before his new government is officially sworn in on May 11. It's the most anti-Palestinian, pro-war, apartheid on steroids regime in Israel's history.
Washington, other major Western nations and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pay lip service only against its horrific high crimes and abuses.
They yawn and do nothing to stop them. America supports all Israeli wars of aggression - longstanding rogue state partners in crime.
At the same time PA officials were denouncing Israel's new regime, it continues enforcing its ruthlessness - collaborating against their own people for special benefits they enjoy.
On May 8, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused PA-controlled security forces of harassing, persecuting, arresting, interrogating and mistreating West Bank Palestinian students for political views they hold and express.
HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson called it "deeply worrying that students are being held by Palestinian forces for no apparent reason other than their (alleged) connection to Hamas or their opinions."
"Palestinians should be able to express critical political opinions without being arrested or beaten."
Following Birzeit and other university student council elections, Addameer prisoner rights group director Sahar Francis told HRW 25 students were detained or summoned for interrogations.
In custody, they're beaten and otherwise abused. It's standard PA  security force practice serving Israeli interests - operating ruthlessly against their own people.
Current abuses followed numerous previous ones. Views critical of Israeli and/or PA policies aren't tolerated.
PA security services West Bank spokesman Adnan Al-Dimiri lied saying "(w)e never arrest people for their speech or for their political affiliations."
It happens all the time - including trumped up criminal charges justifying the unjustifiable.
HRW said PA authorities presented no credible evidence indicating arrested individuals committed any criminal activity - or advocated any.
Jihad Salim is a Birzeit University Hamas-affiliated student representative. He said around 6:00PM on April 25, PA security forces accosted him, shoved him into a civilian car, took him to a Ramallah office, and brutalized him during interrogation about earlier Palestinian elections.
Two interrogators were involved, he said. "They started cursing my mother,  cursing my sisters, slapping me around."
"Then they punched me while asking questions about how Hamas won the elections."
He was forced to stand uncomfortably, arms and legs spread apart, from 11:00PM until 10:30AM the next day. Interrogation continued until 5:00PM. No food or water was supplied.
Numerous other cases follow the same pattern - lawless PA security force arrests, followed by detentions, brutalizing interrogations, beatings and other abuses, denial of all fundamental rights, and at times concocted charges of nonexistent criminality.
HRW said it "previously documented abuses by Palestinian security forces, including credible allegations of torture and arrests of people identified as political opponents."
US funding and training makes Washington complicit with false arrests and detentions, torture, ill treatment, and other abuses against Palestinians solely for political reasons.
PA officials critical of Israel's new regime share guilt in its crimes - serving as lawless apartheid enforcers.
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. 

Washington and Saudis Plan Escalated Aggression on Yemen - Sat, 09/05/2015 - 02:30
Washington and Saudis Plan Escalated  Aggression on Yemen
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, John Kerry met with Saudi officials in Riyadh. They planned escalated aggression on Yemen harming defenseless civilians most.
A so-called proposed 5-day humanitarian ceasefire is phony. Terror-bombing continues. US/Saudi enforced blockade prevents enough essentials to life from entering Yemen. 
Suggesting a limited pause in fighting is willful deception. Washington wants all-out terror war against 25 million Yemenis.
It wants control regained over its former client state - no matter how much mass slaughter and destruction it takes to achieve it.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Yemen is Obama's war - using Saudis and other regional rogue states as US proxies.
Six weeks of terror-bombing achieved nothing strategically. Nor have thousands of imported takfiri terrorists been able to challenge Houthi rebels effectively.
Is large-scale invasion planned? Launching one assures a far greater bloodbath than already.
On Wednesday, Yemeni UN envoy Khaled Alyemany representing the illegitimate (US-installed) ousted government called for intervention by foreign ground forces.
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called invading Yemen "reckless - an escalation of the situation."
"What we need is a speedy resumption of negotiations under the mediation of the United Nations," he stressed.
Otherwise, expect endless conflict, far more deaths, destruction and mass displacement, as well as greater humanitarian crisis conditions than already.
On Thursday, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw called for an immediate halt to fighting, saying:
"Civilians were reportedly targeted while they were trying to flee to safer areas, having been trapped in Aden with limited or no access to water, food and health care for weeks."
"People in Aden have endured extreme hardship as a result of conflict over the last six weeks and must be able to move to safer areas to seek medical and other assistance." 
"Violence towards civilians and aid workers, and attacks on hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, must stop immediately."
On May 7, Yemeni doctors and other medical workers demonstrated in front of Sanaa's UN office. A doctor attending the rally said:
"We have come here…to call for the UN Secretary-General to put an end to this genocide war against the Yemenis. Many patients die at the hospitals because of" no fuel or medical supplies.
Thousands have died, mostly noncombatant civilians either in harm's way or deliberately targeted.
Thousands more were injured, many maimed for life. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced - desperate people in harm's way wherever they go.
Continued Saudi terror-bombing and proxy takfiri terrorist attacks assure it.
Riyadh's military spokesman Brig. General Ahmed al-Assiri responded to Houthi and tribal fighters' cross-border attacks in retaliation against Saudi terror-bombing, ludicrously saying:
"The Houthi militias have crossed red lines and they will be dealt with differently now. (They'll) pay a harsh and expensive price."
"The formula has changed after Saudi towns and civilians" were shelled.
AP said Houthis and allied forces consolidated control over most of Aden while Kerry was in Riyadh. The previous day they "overwhelmed" Tawahi's downtown district and an area presidential palace.
Reuters reported Riyadh's vow to hit Houthis hard despite a 5-day ceasefire offer. Asseri declined to say if ground invasion is coming. All options are open, he stressed.
In a letter to UN officials, Houthis called for international action against Saudi-led aggression.
Senior Houthi official Tawfiq al-Himyary denounced Riyadh's phony ceasefire offer - calling it "cover" for its failures.
"Saudi Arabia feels it is in trouble after more than 40 days of aggression," Himyary said. "It did not reach its stated goals, but killed and displaced thousands of civilians."
"Saudi Arabia has no right to attack the Yemenis or even to give them any kind of truce. There is no trust in this regime at all."
In April, it lied claiming an end to terror-bombing - replacing it with diplomatic efforts to resolve things.
Dirty war without mercy continued - at times more intensively than earlier. Comments from Riyadh lack credibility.
Rogue regimes operate by their own rules. Ruthlessness defines them - horrific war crimes by any standard.
Expect endless conflict to continue. Yemen is being systematically raped. It's becoming one of history's great crimes. 
Obama bears full responsibility. Saudis and other rogue regional partners share it. Millions of Yemenis suffer largely out of sight and mind. 
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. 

George Galloway Defeated in UK General Election - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 23:20
George Galloway Defeated in UK General Election
by Stephen Lendman
Parliamentarian, writer, broadcaster, anti-war activist, human rights supporter, Israeli critic, and champion of Palestinian rights among other credentials Respect Party member Galloway was defeated in Thursday's general election.
He lost his Bradford West constituency decisively to New Labour's Naz Shah - 19,977 to 8,557. Down but not out, he commented, saying:
I don't begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration, of course."
"But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating." 
"The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign."
"Bradford West will always have a central place in my heart," he explained.
Shah thanked all her opponents in her victory speech "with the exception of one," she said - leaving no doubt who she meant.
She outrageously claimed Galloway "demean(ed) our democracy" while campaigning. He blasted Torries and New Labour for continuing business as usual.
Millions of Brits are suffering. Corrupt politicians don't care. Food banks are proliferating, Galloway explained. "Can you imagine what the country will look like by 2020 if these barbarians are returned" to power, he stressed.
Social justice is fast disappearing. Neoliberal harshness is official UK policy. So is partnering with Washington's endless wars. 
Galloway demands better. He was a marked man for championing what power brokers oppose.
Campaigning was rough and tumble. A Galloway spokesman denied his tactics were out of line. 
"Shah has made it personal from the beginning," he said. "She hasn't told the truth, and she's told untruths about George."
It didn't affect his core supporters, reports indicated. They were out in force. It wasn't enough.
In 2012, Galloway defeated New Labour's Imran Hussein overwhelmingly. This time was different.
In late April, Galloway said he'll run for mayor of London if his reelection campaign fails. He told Sky News:
"I won't run for London mayor if I am reelected on 7 May. If I am not reelected, I will run" in May 2016. 
He ruled out running as a sitting MP - suggesting it would be impossible to represent his constituents properly. A spokesman had no further comment.
Galloway remains one of politics most charismatic figures. Supporters and critics alike agree few can arouse a crowd the way he does.
It was an honor for this writer to be on air once with him as a guest. We had a rousing discussion not heard on major Western media outlets. 
Hard truths on issues mattering most are strictly verboten. Galloway features them on air and in parliament. Maybe as mayor of London next year.
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. 

Appeals Court Strikes Down Bulk NSA Phone Spying - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 20:48
Appeals Court Strikes Down Bulk NSA Phone Spying
by Stephen Lendman
On June 11, 2013, the ACLU challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records (ACLU v. Clapper)."
It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 
"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 
"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."
NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215 - the so-called "business records" provision.
It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 
It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 
It authorizes the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.
It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. 
It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.
At the time of its suit, the ACLU said "(w)hatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans."
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorized surveillance relating to "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers." 
It restricts spying on US citizens and residents to those engaged in espionage in America and territory under US control. 
No longer. Today anything goes. America is a total surveillance society. Obama officials claim no authority can challenge them. Governing this way is called tyranny.
The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. It held Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act doesn't permit bulk collection of Americans' phone records. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously - overturning a lower court decision.
The Obama administration argued that the ACLU lacked "standing" to challenge NSA surveillance practices, and Congress "precluded" judicial review except by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court most often only hearing government arguments.
The appeals court rejected this reasoning, saying:
"If the government is correct, it could use Section 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e?mail and social media information) relating to all Americans." 
"Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans."
ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo called the ruling "a resounding victory for the rule of law."
"For years, the government secretly spied on millions of innocent Americans based on a shockingly broad interpretation of its authority." 
"The court rightly rejected the government’s theory that it may stockpile information on all of us in case that information proves useful in the future." 
"Mass surveillance does not make us any safer, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the privacy necessary in a free society."
ACLU deputy legal director/lead counsel in the case Jameel Jaffer explained:
"This ruling focuses on the phone-records program, but it has far broader significance, because the same defective legal theory that underlies this program underlies many of the government’s other mass-surveillance programs." 
"The ruling warrants a reconsideration of all of those programs, and it underscores once again the need for truly systemic reform."
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) executive director Cindy Cohn called the ruling "a great and welcome decision and ought to make Congress pause to consider whether the small changes contained in the USA Freedom Act are enough."  
''The 2nd Circuit rejected on multiple grounds the government's radical reinterpretation of Section 215 that underpinned its secret shift to mass seizure and search of Americans' telephone records.''
“While the court did not reach the constitutional issues, it certainly noted the serious problems with blindly embracing the third-party doctrine - the claim that you lose all constitutional privacy protections whenever a third-party, like your phone company, has sensitive information about your actions."
EFF's legislative analyst Mark Jaycox added:
"Now that a court of appeal has rejected the government's arguments supporting its secret shift to mass surveillance, we look forward to other courts - including the Ninth Circuit in EFF's Smith v. Obama case - rejecting mass surveillance as well." 
"With the deadline to reauthorize section 215 looming, we also call on Congress to both expressly adopt the interpretation of the law given by the court and to take further steps to rein in the NSA and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."
One court victory doesn't mean overall triumph. The right-wing Supreme Court may have final say - or Congress able to legislatively circumvent High Court or other judicial rulings with no administration opposition by either party.
US governance serves powerful entrenched interests at the expense of popular ones. It's fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-freedom. 
Odds strongly favor no change in business as usual. Sacrificing precious liberties for greater security assures losing both.
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. 

With Third Party Records, Privacy Doesn’t Require Secrecy - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 08:40

Did you just buy a shiny new smartphone loaded with the newest and greatest features to have conversations throughout the day, wherever you are? While your phone’s capabilities are distinctly modern, a new decision in United States v. Davis allowing police to get without a warrant records of which cell tower your phone connects to ensures that a key privacy protection you should have when using your phone is stuck in 1979.

Davis: The Facts and Ruling

In Davis, police wanted to get cell site information—the record of which cell phone tower your phone connects to—about Quartavious Davis to connect him to seven separate robberies in and around Miami, Florida. Instead of getting a search warrant, police relied on the Stored Communication Act (SCA), a federal statute that allows police to use a very simple court order to get certain customer records from cell phone service providers. They only need to show that the records are material and relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. This standard is weaker than the probable cause standard required for police to obtain a search warrant.

Although law enforcement claimed it only wanted the location information to pin Davis to the seven robberies, armed with the SCA order, police obtained more than two months worth of location information on Davis, which gave them a whopping 11,000 cell phone tower data points. Prosecutors used that information to convince a jury that Davis was in the vicinity of each of the robberies, and he was ultimately given a 161-year prison sentence.

On appeal, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found the government violated Davis’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure by obtaining the cell site location records without a warrant, though it didn’t reverse his conviction. Despite winning the appeal, the government nonetheless convinced the entire Eleventh Circuit to rehear the case before an eleven-judge en banc panel. We weighed in, filing an amicus brief explaining why it’s reasonable for people to expect this sensitive location information to remain private. Unfortunately, in a 9-2 ruling the court disagreed, finding people have no expectation of privacy in cell site location records because the court believed the information was voluntarily given to and belonged to the cell phone service providers, not the individual users. The court relied on the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland, which held that the so-called “third party doctrine” meant there was no expectation of privacy in information turned over to a telephone company. 

The Eleventh Circuit’s analysis is remarkably deaf to the realities of modern life. At a time when 90% of Americans carry cell phones—the majority of which are Internet enabled smartphones—the court basically told the public the way to protect themselves from warrantless surveillance was not through the Fourth Amendment, but by turning their phones off.

Confusing Privacy and Secrecy Expectations

One of the biggest problems in Davis is its straitjacket application of Smith to support the notion that there’s no expectation of privacy for information turned over to third parties, regardless of how sensitive this information can be, especially when aggregated. Smith, the most important “third party doctrine” case, involved primitive 1970s technology: a pen register that recorded the phone numbers a person dialed from a stationary phone. Cell site location records, in contrast, can track your phone’s every move. Because we carry our phones with us as we travel throughout the day—one study found 12% of people even use their phones in the shower—and because our phones generate cell site location information constantly, this information is far richer and intricate than anything that existed in the 1970s. Yet despite this, too many courts, including the Eleventh Circuit here, simply ignore the stark differences between these technologies and ignore the far greater impact that revealing this information has on people’s private lives.

In addition, the underlying justification for the “third party doctrine”—that people assume the risk that information they give to others would be freely shared—is simply not true now. It wasn’t even true in the 1970s, as Justice Marshall (joined by Justice Brennan) recognized even back then the necessity of having a landline phone in his dissenting opinion in Smith:

By contrast here, unless a person is prepared to forgo use of what for many has become a personal or professional necessity, he cannot help but accept the risk of surveillance...It is idle to speak of “assuming” risks in contexts where, as a practical mater, individuals have no realistic alternative.

While Justice Marshall didn’t sway a majority of the Supreme Court, his insight is even more prescient today. The fact that today a cell phone is not a luxury but a necessity means it’s unreasonable to condition participation in modern society with the surrender of privacy rights.

Ultimately, the Eleventh Circuit fell into the familiar trap of confusing privacy—the right to control who accesses your information and to limit how that information can be used—with secrecy, the ability to block everybody else from ever learning the information in the first place. But this distinction is critical in the 21st century, where an increasing amount of information about our daily lives ends up with third party service providers and in the cloud. As Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her 2012 concurring opinion in United States v. Jones, an approach that excludes Fourth Amendment protection to digital data stored with others is “ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.” More fundamentally, she noted that it was time to stop treating “secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy.”

Here, that should mean Davis was reasonable to expect that his location information—revealed only to the phone company to route his calls—would remain private even if he had to roughly reveal it (make it not secret) to actually use his phone.

Do Floridians Have a Right of Privacy in Their Cell Site Locations or Not?

Even more frustrating, prior court decisions have promised Florida residents that their phone records generally and cell site location records specifically are private even when they aren’t completely secret. At least until Davis.

Eleventh Circuit decisions govern state and federal law enforcement in Florida (as well as Alabama and Georgia). Although the court believed people in Florida have no expectation of privacy in cell phone location information, the Florida Supreme Court reached the opposite conclusion last year in Tracey v. State, ruling people—in Florida at least—had an expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in cell phone location information even though the records belonged to the cell phone company. While the Davis court distinguished its holding from Tracey by noting the Florida Supreme Court was looking at real time rather than historical cell phone tracking, that’s ultimately a factual distinction without a legal difference.

The result is conflicting expectations, making it hard to understand why a Florida resident has now been told it’s unreasonable to rely on the privacy protections they’ve previously been promised.

Supreme Court Guidance

Sadly, Davis isn’t the first federal appeals court to reach this result, as the Fifth Circuit ruled in 2013 law enforcement doesn’t need a warrant to access this sensitive cell site location information. Meanwhile, the issue is pending in both the Fourth and Sixth Circuits, where we’ve filed amicus briefs with a number of our organizational friends explaining why a warrant should be required. We hope these courts look at the technology head-on rather than rely on antiquated analogies to cases decided in the days of analog.

Ultimately, we expect the U.S. Supreme Court will have to address this issue, but at least on that front, they are not stuck in the past. Last summer, the Supreme Court in Riley v. California provided a blueprint on how to confront technology when it ruled police could not search the data on a cell phone of a person arrested without a warrant. That case also involved the government’s attempt to rely to an earlier case, United States v. Robinson, which allowed police to search a pack of cigarettes found on an arrestee without a warrant. The government argued a cell phone and a pack of cigarettes were the same thing—an item capable of holding another item—and thus could be searched without a warrant. But the Supreme Court unanimously rejected that faulty analysis, explaining

That is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon. Both are ways of getting from point A to point B, but little else justifies lumping them together. Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse.

The Eleventh Circuit dismissed what happened in Riley as “not helpful,” but it missed the larger point. In failing to draw the distinction that the Supreme Court found obvious in Riley, the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision that will have ripple effects concerning many other forms of sensitive personal information stored online and held by third-party service providers. We hope the other circuit courts considering cell-tracking technology follow the Supreme Court of 2014 rather than the one of 1979.

Related Issues: PrivacyCell TrackingLocational PrivacyRelated Cases: United States v. Quartavious Davis
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EFF Urges Appeals Court to Shut Down Attempt To Use Copyright To Censor - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 06:07

Copyright law is frequently misused as a tool to censor unwanted online criticism. And often, this misuse does not make it into court. But one such case has recently made its way up to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. And yesterday, EFF filed a “friend of the court” brief, urging the court to consider the First Amendment interests at play when copyright is used to silence public criticism.  

The "unflattering" Raanan Katz photo

The case, Katz v. Chevaldina, involves a blogger’s use of a photograph of Raanan Katz—the owner of a number of shopping centers throughout Florida and a minority owner of the Miami Heat—in blog posts critical of Katz’s business practices. The photo was originally taken by a photographer in Israel, who took the photo for use in a newspaper article about how Katz might be purchasing an interest in an Israeli basketball team. Katz views the photograph, included here, as “unflattering,” and wants it taken off the web. In an effort to get the photo offline, he managed to get an assignment of copyright from the photographer. Days after that assignment—and before even registering his newly acquired copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office—Katz sued the blogger for copyright infringement in federal court. Katz also sued Google after Google refused to comply with a takedown notice Katz had sent the search engine giant pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). (Google was later dropped from the case.) Unsurprisingly, the case has only brought more attention to the photograph—a classic example of the Streisand effect

The blogger moved for summary judgment on the ground that her use of the photograph for the purpose of criticizing Katz was fair use and protected under federal copyright law. The district court agreed. Katz has appealed the district court’s decision, arguing that the blogger’s use of the photo was not a protected fair use.  

In our brief, we ask the Eleventh Circuit to affirm the lower court’s fair use holding. The fair use doctrine ensures that the public can use copyrighted works for a variety of purposes, including criticism in a blog post. We urged the court to carefully consider the fact that Katz is using copyright as a tool for censorship.

Unfortunately, using copyright to censor not a new or uncommon phenomenon. Abuse of copyright can affect not only an individual speaker’s right to speak, but also the public’s right to receive information. This impact on free speech should inform courts’ fair use analysis. And a correct ruling in favor of fair use here should help deter misuse of copyright law in the future.   

We also responded to a few of the more “creative” arguments Katz made in his brief to the Court of Appeals. Of particular note, he argued that for a secondary use of a copyrighted photograph to be transformative—one of the four fair use factors—an inherently positive photograph must be used for negative commentary (or, presumably, vice versa). According to Katz, because the photograph at issue was unflattering, and thus negative, the blogger’s use of the photograph in negative blog posts was not transformative. As we told the Court of Appeals, this is simply not the law.

We hope the Court of Appeals will reach the right result and find fair use here. We expect to have a decision later this year. 

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UN Experts Say TPP and Fast Track Threaten Human Rights - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 05:12

Prominent experts at the United Nations have now indicated that secretive trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) undermine human rights around the world, both because of the secretive, corporate-dominated process, and due to the substantive content of the provisions that arise out of these opaque negotiations.

Last week, an independent UN expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said that the secrecy surrounding trade negotiations is a threat to human rights because it disenfranchises and excludes the public from "the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs." He urges human rights impact assessments be undertaken immediately as part of the negotiation process, and goes on to say that fast tracking these deals to approval has a detrimental impact on a democratic, equitable world order. We agree, and have been fighting Fast Track legislation in the U.S. to stop back-room negotiations that led to the TPP's provisions become legitimized by the bill's passage.

In his statements, he particularly singles out trade agreements' investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions. They allow investors to sue nations over legislative and administrative rules alleging that they harm their profits. Zayas says:

The apparent lack of independence, transparency and accountability of ISDS tribunals also entails a violation (prima-facie) of the fundamental principle of legality laid down in international human rights law, including article 14 of the ICCPR, which requires that suits at law be adjudicated by independent tribunals.

We have also written about these rules, which were included in the most recent leak of the TPP's Investment Chapter a few months ago, for including such sweeping definitions that could pave the way for companies to file ISDS suits that undermine fair use or other user protections in copyright laws of signatory nations.  

Copyright Can Hinder Access to Science and Culture

In another recent report, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights points to how laws worldwide have trended toward strengthening copyright protections with little consideration for their human rights implications, such as how they harm people's right to access science and culture. Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed says that copyright laws now go far beyond prohibiting just literal copying, and makes activities such as translation, distribution, and modification illegal without permission or license from the copyright holder.

In light of copyright's extensive prohibitive measures, the main challenge is that international treaties with copyright rules often make restrictive protections mandatory while treating exceptions and limitations rules, like fair use, optional for countries to enact—this is problem, she says, that stems from international agreement negotiations conducted in secrecy with "substantial corporate participation but without an equivalent participation of elected officials and other public interest voices." We of course recognize this with the TPP, which contains a weak "three-step test" framework that could hinder signatory nations from enacting new exceptions and limitations to copyright. If passed, it could even threaten the United States' more permissive, open-ended fair use system.

Many other copyright provisions in the TPP could undermine users' right to take part in cultural life. The criminalization of DRM circumvention harms peoples' ability to free content from these digital restrictions for remixing, and prevents people with disabilities from converting their media or software into formats that they can access. U.S.-style copyright takedown rules would mean we would see a continued rise in cases where fair use or public domain works are removed from platforms in the name of copyright enforcement with no judicial oversight. Dangerously low thresholds for criminality could lead to cases where people who simply share copyrighted works on a "commercial scale"—for example if it happens to go viral—could be deemed a criminal, alongside heavy penalties that could be a chilling effect on people who want to upload new derivative works, even if they are protected by fair use.

It's therefore heartening to see UN experts come out to criticize these secretive trade agreements, for both their procedural flaws and substantive deficiencies. We have been saying for years that this process is not only illegitimate, it undermines current and future efforts to adapt and reform laws that make sense for users and new technological realities. That is why we joined over 2,000 other public interest groups to oppose Fast Track for the TPP. Lawmakers and trade officials who now work to drive these harmful, anti-user treaties forward ought to realize that their passage would tie their names to a legacy of regressive, human rights-violating policies and practices.

You can take action by getting in touch with your congressional representatives and let them know that we're counting on them to defend the Internet from the White House's secret, anti-user deals.

If you're on Twitter, help us call on influential members of Congress to come out against this bill.

Read about all of our concerns with the TPP agreement:

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrade AgreementsTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Saudis May Go Nuclear - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 04:36
Saudis May Go Nuclear
by Stephen Lendman
Imagine nuclear weapons in the hands of a rogue state waging direct and proxy aggression on its neighbors at its discretion.
Ruling Saudi family dictatorship thugs run things. Decapitations and public whippings are routine.
So are imprisoning people for their political beliefs, torture, state-sponsored assassinations and disappearances, as well as blanket denial of fundamental human and civil rights.
Imagine a regime this ruthless with nukes. Lunatics influencing policy claim a nonexistent Iranian nuclear threat.
They urge developing Saudi atomic weapons to match what Iranians don't have, don't want and deplore.
Imagine an arms race with other regional rogue states wanting nukes if Saudis develop their own.
Imagine takfiri terrorists getting hold of radiological weapons. Imagine a Middle East more destabilized than already.
Comments by Saudi officials lack credibility. Former foreign affairs advisor Abdullah al Askar said "(w)e prefer a region without nuclear weapons." 
"But if Iran does it, nothing can prevent us from doing it too, not even the international community."
"Our leaders will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon while we don’t," Saudi security analyst Ibrahim al-Marie maintains. 
"If Iran declares a nuclear weapon, we can’t afford to wait 30 years more for our own. We should be able to declare ours within a week."
Former Riyadh intelligence chief/US ambassador Prince Turki al Faisal said anything Iran gets in Geneva "we want the same."
Saudi King Salman nonsensically warned of "plunging the region into an arms race" based on a nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Saudi military spokesman Brig. General Ahmed al-Aseeri said Riyadh "must protect our interests in a suitable fashion" despite preferring a nuclear-free region.
Sunni Saudis and regional allies are waging war on Syria and Yemen. They want Iran eliminated as a major rival.
They distrust US regional interests. Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen says "(o)ur allies aren't listening to us, and this is what is making us extremely nervous."
He lied claiming Tehran "will do anything in (its) power to get a nuclear weapons."
"Should Iran gain the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium and ability to deploy such weapons," developing a comparable Saudi response "would be considered as part of our homeland security."
The whole world know Iran has no nuclear weapons program and won't tolerate one. It strongly urges a nuclear free Middle East.
Saudis know Iran threatens no one. It's the region's leading peace and stability proponent. It wants nuclear weapons abolished everywhere.
Current Saudi plans call for creating 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity by 2032. No reactors have been built so far. 
Don't expect confirmation if developing nuclear weapons is planned. Western intelligence agencies believe Riyadh largely bankrolled Pakistan's nuclear program in return for being able to obtain warheads on short notice.
In the hands of a rogue state known to possess medium-range ballistic missiles, it's a matter of major regional concern. 
Lunatics infesting Riyadh are capable of anything to maintain power and influence - even possibly waging nuclear war.
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 Hails Court Ruling Rejecting NSA Bulk Collection of Americans' Phone Records - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 03:15
Appeals Court Decision Should Push Congress to Strengthen Protections Against Mass Surveillance, EFF Says

San Francisco - A federal appeals court today ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of phone records is illegal, saying Congress didn't authorize collection of a ''staggering'' amount of information on Americans. The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturns a judge's ruling dismissing ACLU's challenge to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, ACLU v. Clapper.

''This is a great and welcome decision and ought to make Congress pause to consider whether the small changes contained in the USA Freedom Act are enough,'' said Cindy Cohn, executive director of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). ''The 2nd Circuit rejected on multiple grounds the government's radical reinterpretation of Section 215 that underpinned its secret shift to mass seizure and search of Americans' telephone records. While the court did not reach the constitutional issues, it certainly noted the serious problems with blindly embracing the third-party doctrine—the claim that you lose all constitutional privacy protections whenever a third-party, like your phone company, has sensitive information about your actions."

"Now that a court of appeal has rejected the government's arguments supporting its secret shift to mass surveillance, we look forward to other courts—including the Ninth Circuit in EFF's Smith v. Obama case—rejecting mass surveillance as well," said EFF Legislative Analyst Mark Jaycox. "With the deadline to reauthorize section 215 looming, we also call on Congress to both expressly adopt the interpretation of the law given by the court and to take further steps to rein in the NSA and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Contact:  Karen GulloAnalyst, Media Relations Rebecca JeschkeMedia Relations Director and Digital Rights
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US/Saudi Proposed 5-Day Ceasefire in Yemen: Hold the Cheers - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 02:48
US/Saudi Proposed 5-Day Ceasefire in Yemen: Hold the Cheers
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, John Kerry met his Saudi counterpart in high crimes against peace Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh. 
They proposed what they called a 5-day humanitarian pause after weeks of US-orchestrated/Saudi-led terror-bombing - including against civilian neighborhoods, refugee camps, schools, hospitals, food storage areas, power facilities and other vital infrastructure.
Their proposal combines PR duplicity with strings. It requires Houthis to lay down their arms and stop fighting.
It comes at the same time Saudi planes air-dropped weapons to Al Qaeda and other takfiri terrorists Riyadh recruited to battle Houthis - extremist elements recognizing no ceasefire pauses.
It's when dozens of daily terror-bombing strikes and offshore shellings continue. On Wednesday, Maydi Hospital in Hajjah province was struck.
The US/Saudi ceasefire pause is subterfuge. On the one hand, it ignores lawless aggression against a nation threatening no others.
At the same time, it looks like a thinly-veiled scheme to blame Houthis for defending themselves against Saudi-recruited Al Qaeda and other takfiri terrorist attacks.
Yemen is Obama's war - using Saudis and other regional rogue states as US proxy forces. Fighting won't end until Washington regains control over its former client state. 
Expect protracted conflict to continue. Expect humanitarian conditions to grow more dire than already.
On Wednesday, Iranian leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei denounced Saudi aggression "against people and women and children in Yemen without any justification and only under the pretext that the Yemeni people do not accept a so-and-so person as the president, and the Americans are also supporting this monstrous crime."
He called Washington the most "disgraced government in the world,", saying "(t)he Americans are supporting the massacre of the Yemeni people without any shame, but they accuse Iran which is sending medical aid and food" to desperately needy people.
On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abollahian vowed not to let Yemen become another Gaza under protracted siege.
Tehran will do all it can to provide vitally needed humanitarian aid. In contrast, Yemen's illegitimate government in exile urged the UN "to quickly intervene by land forces to save" the nation.
Its UN envoy Khaled Alyemany wants more anti-Houthi ground forces to increase bloodshed. He blames Houthis for US-orchestrated/Saudi-led aggression. 
UN relief coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw said "(w)ithout access to the airports, aid agencies are unable to bring in staff, vital supplies of medicines and other critical life-saving assistance, or undertake medical evacuations of their personnel."
He strongly urged Saudis "to stop targeting Sanaa International Airport and to preserve this important lifeline - and all other airports and seaports - so that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict…"
US-directed dirty war without mercy continues. Expect lots more death, destruction and unspeakable human misery - genocidal war crimes by any standard.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Obama to Recognize Palestinian Statehood? - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 00:15

Obama to Recognize Palestinian Statehood?
by Stephen Lendman
It's hard remembering how many times Obama pledged full support for Israel - at the same time spurning Palestinian rights. He's done nothing to help them throughout his tenure.
He partnered with Netanyahu's genocidal Gaza war last summer. He supported mass slaughtering noncombatant men, women and children.
He's waging multiple regional direct and proxy wars. He doesn't give a damn about Arab lives and welfare.
At the same time, when asked last March if he'd back Palestinian statehood, he said he wouldn't rule it out.
"We're going to do that evaluation," he added. "We're going to partly wait for an actual Israeli government to form."
So-called reassessment has nothing to do with compromising strong US/Israeli relations. Washington is fully committed to its security.
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen believes Washington may no longer veto Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli settlement construction.
It may abstain if Palestinian statehood comes up for a vote, he said. "(W)e could see Palestine as a full member of the United Nations within a year or so," he added.
On May 6, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined "Obama to back Palestinian state at Security Council - payback for Israel's right-wing cabinet," saying:
He won't wait for Netanyahu to "finish building his new government coalition…" Earlier he "withheld green light (support for) European governments to file a UN Security Council motion proclaiming an independent Palestinian state."
With US support (or withholding opposition), a Security Council resolution could pass unanimously. It'll be binding on Israel, whether or not it recognizes Palestinian statehood.
Last week, US and French counterparts began "sketch(ing) out the general outline of" a Security Council resolution, DF claimed.
The devil is in the details. Recognizing Palestinian statehood within anything less than pre-June 1967 borders is no state at all.
Israel controls about 60% of the West Bank and large parts of East Jerusalem. Palestinian communities are separated by a vast/oppressive matrix of control - isolating them from each other.
Gaza's siege remains in place. Recognizing rump cantonized statehood is meaningless.
States are comprised of contiguous territory within fixed borders - not areas isolated from each other amounting to statehood in name only.
DF said Obama prefers "giv(ing) Netanyahu a lengthy though predetermined time scale to reconsider his Palestinian policy or even possibly to broaden and diversify his coalition by introducing non-aligned factions or figures into such key posts as foreign affairs."
In other words, perhaps he'll let Netanyahu appear ready to discuss peace and Palestinian statehood while maintaining hardline opposition.
Maybe DF's announced Obama "turnaround on the Israeli-Palestinian issue" is none at all - lip service only masking business as usual.
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 Forms New Racist, Fascist Government - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 21:37
Netanyahu Forms New Racist, Fascist Government
by Stephen Lendman
Weeks after Israeli's March 17 elections, Netanyahu and four other extremist political parties formed a new coalition government - barely with 61 of 120 Knesset seats. 
Bar-Ilan University Professor Eytan Gilboa calls it "a big political mess…Nobody in his right mind believes that this will hold for even a short time."
Coalition partners include:
  • Netanyahu's hard-right Likud (30 MKs)

  • Naftali Bennett's pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi (8MKs);

  • two far-right religious parties - Shas (7 MKs) and United Torah Judaism (6 MKs); and

  • Moshe Kahlon's right-wing Kulanu party (10 MKs).

Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu's coalition. It's not extremist enough for him. It didn't annihilate Hamas. 
It didn't enact a racist nationality law officially making non-Jewish Israelis second-class citizens.
Days earlier, Lieberman resigned as foreign minister saying:
"This is certainly a coalition that, to my regret, does not reflect the positions of the nationalist camp and is not to our liking, to put it mildly."
He and Netanyahu are world class thugs. They spurn rule of law principles. The abhor democratic values. 
They prioritize stealing all valued Palestinian land. They deplore peace. Netanyahu calls pursuing it a waste of time. 
He opposes Palestinian statehood - publicly announced while campaigning.
Bennett will become education  minister. He's militantly hardline. He's anti-democratic. He opposes press freedom.He deplores progressive activism. He wants non-Jews excluded from Israel. 
He opposes hiring "foreigners." He calls them "infiltrators," a "time bomb." He reflects the worst of racist hate-mongering.
He's against what he calls "excessive legalism." He calls it "judicial activism." He "killed lots of Arabs in (his) life," he said - "and there is no problem with that."
Ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah represent the worst of religious fundamentalism in Israel. They want Halakha, Jewish religious law principles, enforced.
Netanyahu announced formation of a new government shortly before a Tuesday midnight deadline. He informed President Reuven Rivlin saying:
"I am honored to inform you that I have been successful in forming a government, which I will request is brought before the Knesset for its approval as soon as possible."
Both men spoke by phone. Rivlin "congratulated (Netanyahu) on completing the formation of the government." 
"I have received your letter of confirmation, and look forward to the convening of the Knesset as soon as possible, to approve the government," he said.
Bennett said he and Netanyahu "work(ed) all night" to finalize coalition governance terms.
Netanyahu will serve both as prime minister and foreign minister. Reports indicate he wants the latter portfolio as bait to entice Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to become a coalition partner. 
Don't bet on it based on his harsh words - calling Netanyahu's new government a "national failure, lack(ing) responsibility, stability and governance."
It's "susceptible to blackmail. (It'll) advance nothing and will quickly be replaced by a responsible and hopeful alternative."
According to Likud's public relations head Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu wants the foreign ministry position "to leave room for the government to expand in the future."
When asked if he wants Herzog to join, he responded "yes." Netanyahu appointments so far include Habayit Hayehudi MP Ayelet Shaket as justice minister. 
She's one of many extremist lunatics influencing policy - officials waging war on Palestine, threatening the entire region.
During last summer's aggression on Gaza, she called for genocidal slaughter - declaring "the entire Palestinian people…the enemy, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure."
She said Palestinian mothers give birth to "little snakes."
"The Palestinian people have declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings." 
"Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war." 
"It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority." 
"These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started."
She called genocidal Israeli wars morally right. She wants Palestinians entirely exterminated. As justice minister, Palestinians will get none.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared her to Hitler. "If (her) words had been said by a Palestinian, the whole would have denounced it," he said.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said her appointment "is like giving the fire and rescue services to a pyromaniac."
Netanyahu's new government appears worse than his previous one. Shas party deputy finance minister Aryeh Deri served prison time for corruption.
Likudnik deputy Knesset speaker Moshe Feiglin urges "exterminat(ing) Palestinians in Gaza."
Notorious racist/outgoing construction minister Uri Ariel becomes new agriculture minister. 
He wants Palestine entirely colonized. Earlier he said "(t)here will be just one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel."
Besides education, justice and agriculture, Bennett will control the Settlement Division and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
One of his Habayit Hayehudi party MKs will be appointed deputy defense minister. Kulanu's Moshe Kahlon will become new finance minister. Likud's Moshe Ya'alon will likely remain defense minister.
Institute for Palestine Studies senior fellow Mouin Rabbani calls Israel's new government "the most extremist in its history."
It includes a rogue's gallery of hate-mongering racists. It's just a matter of time before Palestinians feel its viciousness full-force.
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. 

Virginia Governor Signs Warrant Requirement for Drones, Rejects License Plate Reader Limits - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 08:39

With broad and near-unanimous bipartisan support, the Virginia General Assembly passed a series of bills this year to defend the public’s right to privacy from new mass surveillance technologies.

To his credit, Gov. Terry McAuliffe almost immediately signed a bill to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before tracking people’s mobile phones with cell tower emulators, often called “stingrays.” But he initially balked at two other bills: one that would have also required police to get a warrant before using drones and another that would’ve placed strict limitations on other mass surveillance technologies, including a seven-day limit on the retention of locational data collected through automatic license plate readers (ALPR).

McAuliffe sent these two measures back to the legislature with suggested amendments, who sent them right back to his desk with only the slightest changes. The message was clear: these protections are what Virginians want and what they deserve.

The second time around, McAuliffe signed the drone bill, but he vetoed the ALPR bill, parroting the flawed talking points of the device manufacturers and law enforcement lobby groups:

Many localities in Virginia retain this data for 60 days to two years. Seven days is a substantial reduction. Additionally, law enforcement agencies demonstrate that crimes are often not reported until several weeks later. Under this bill, essential data would not be available at the time of those reports. This is particularly concerning when considering implications for the National Capitol Region, where cross-state collaboration and information-sharing are essential to responding to potential criminal or terrorist activity occurring near Virginia’s borders.

What McAuliffe fails to mention is those law enforcement agencies are already breaking Virginia’s Data Act by storing ALPR data, as the Virginia Attorney General determined in a 2013 legal opinion [PDF]. He also pays little attention to the threat to personal privacy that ALPRs represent: by collecting information on every driver, police are treating the entire population as if they’re suspects in a criminal investigation. Even more worrisome is how these cameras, which are capable of collecting thousands of locational data points a day, can potentially reveal the intimate details of a person’s life, including religious preferences, political affiliations, medical conditions, and romantic relationships.  Indeed, as the ACLU of Virginia notes:

In 2013, public records revealed that during the 2008 election, Virginia State Police used ALPRs to collect information about people attending rallies for candidates Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, and later targeted vehicles crossing from Virginia to Washington for Obama’s inauguration.

McAuliffe also failed to address some of the more questionable techniques used by ALPR companies to shield their products from public scrutiny, such as contracts that forbid agencies from talking candidly publicly about the technology. In Lansing, Michigan, police have given up on ALPRs because they were unreliable and drained the batteries of their cars. In San Francisco, police have been sued after a false positive resulted in a confrontation between officers and an innocent government employee.

The ACLU of Virginia isn’t giving up. Five days after McAuliffe signed the bills, the organization filed a lawsuit [PDF] against the Fairfax County Police Department, which, despite the Attorney General’s guidance, has been storing ALPR data for up to a year and sharing that data with other law enforcement agencies in the region. If successful, the lawsuit could potentially have an even stronger impact on ALPR limits than what the bill would have provided.

We're very proud of the hundreds of EFF supporters in Virginia who sent letters to their lawmakers and tweeted at the governor about these measures. And, again, we commend McAuliffe for signing bills to limit the use of stingrays and drones, but we’ll be rooting for the ACLU as they pursue other means to challenge invasive technologies such as ALPRs.

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EFF Filings to Copyright Office Highlight Unintended Consequences of the DMCA - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 07:42

It’s International Day Against DRM, which means folks around the world bring attention to the dangers of the so-called “technical protection measures” embedded in their stuff.  But DRM (which stands for Digital Rights Management) isn’t the whole problem; equally pernicious are the laws that prevent folks from circumventing the DRM in order to do otherwise perfectly legal things. 

For example: perhaps you want to get your car in shape for that summer road trip. Maybe you’re looking forward to a summer project where you make a fan video.  Or perhaps you are organizing a reunion with friends that will include a gaming night, and you’d like to dig up some of the old games you used to play in high school.

The problem is, every one of these noncontroversial activities may require circumventing DRM.  And that means it may be illegal, thanks to an outdated copyright law that, in the name of stopping infringement, makes it unlawful to break digital locks on any copyrighted content, including the software embedded in your stuff. Manufacturers are now using it to try to control all kinds of ordinary uses of the goods they sell, from cars to games to medical devices. We call it “copyright creep”: relying on copyright law not to stop people from copying, but to reduce competition, impede research and innovation, and generally control how you use the devices and content you “buy.”

We’re trying to remedy that. Late last week EFF filed comments calling on the Librarian of Congress to protect these ordinary activities.  Our filing is one of the final steps in an elaborate months-long process to convince the government to repair the damage done by Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits unlocking digital rights management systems built into software and devices.

The 1201 exemption process was designed as a safety valve  for lawful uses that require circumvention, but it’s not a very satisfactory answer to copyright creep. We’re fighting for some pretty basic stuff, namely vehicle tinkering and safety research, jail breaking smartphones, using snippets from Blu-ray disks for remixing, and letting people play video games no longer supported by manufacturers. And it’s abundantly clear that our opponents aren’t driven by legitimate copyright concerns.

Take the exemption for jailbreaking.  Every three years, consumers must ask the Librarian of Congress, to extend the exemption for jailbreaking phones so people can install and remove software. Most of the hundreds of millions of smartphones in use in the U.S. require jailbreaking to add or remove security or privacy fixes or install alternative operating systems. This year, not a single smartphone provider has opposed extending the exemption. Jailbreaking was first allowed five years ago, and we haven’t seen one real case of illegal copying as a result. The cell phone industry has continued its meteoric growth, while a robust market for independent software for jail broken devices has developed. No infringement, a healthy industry and innovation—who’s not happy?

The trade group BSA/The Software Alliance, that’s who. But the organization hasn’t tried to argue or present any evidence that the ability to jailbreak leads to copyright infringement. Rather BSA opposes the exemption because it claims there are “alternatives” to jailbreaking—presumably the small number of phone models for which manufacturers provide a means of jailbreaking. In papers filed May 1, we told the Copyright Office that users wanting to install new software on their phones shouldn’t be forced to ditch their existing device and fork over more money for a new one when the practice doesn’t involve copyright infringement.

We’ve also requested that existing exemptions allowing fair use copying of DVDs and streaming video for remix be extended to include copying from Blu-ray discs. The remix artists that need this exemption aren’t scofflaws: they simply want the ability to reuse the content they’ve lawfully acquired. Opponents, which include the industry group that licenses copy protection on Blu-ray, take the position that most remix videos are infringing and if creators want a clip from a Blu-ray disc they can record it with their smartphones. As we explained in our comments, the exemption doesn’t cover infringing works and remix artists need high-quality source material just as much as Joss Whedon does. And, those same artists would be shocked to discover that the legality of their work depends entirely on whether they took source material from a Blu-ray disc in stead of a DVD.

The 1201 ban on circumvention also has implications for video games. We’ve requested an exemption that would allow people to legally modify games to keep them working after the official servers have been shut down.  It’s pretty simple—you paid for the game and you should be able to keep using it.  In comments we submitted to the Copyright Office, one gamer expressed frustration that the multiplayer functionality of a game he owned was shut down a year after purchase.

“I would love to share this game with my kids, but I can’t anymore because the corporation didn’t want to expend the resources to keep the servers up,” he said. “I understand that but let me continue to host the servers even if they don’t want to.”

The Entertainment Software Association has told the Copyright Office that letting game enthusiasts restore the functionality of older video games is hacking and leads to the harder drug of the tinkering world: piracy.  Along with the MPAA and RIAA, the group says modifying games to connect to a new server after publisher support ends will leave the video game industry in ruins.

It’s hard to ignore the obvious here. The exemption would cover only abandoned games. Allowing people to reverse-engineer the server communication technology of those games can’t possibly harm the overall market.

Auto maker trade groups have came out in force against our exemption requests that would allow vehicle owners to circumvent restrictions on accessing the computer systems that run in their vehicles. A wide range of important tasks require access to the code on those computers, called electronic control units (ECU). These tasks include many kinds of repair, as well as the development of diagnostic tools and new functionality. We also asked the Copyright Office to allow independent security and safety research to look at vehicle code so they could identify issues that might make drivers less safe. But auto companies insist that that they, not you, own the software that controls many of the functions of your car. They told the Copyright Office that letting car owners have access to the code would mess up your vehicle, cause safety problems, and even lead to music pirating through on-board entertainment systems.

In our reply last week we noted that the industry opposes the exemption because it might increase competition for repair work and and products that interface with vehicle computers like diagnostic equipment. We shared real stories from automobile aftermarket innovators about the features they don’t implement out of fear of the DMCA, about how independent mechanics need to outsource computer repairs to dealers due to a lack of necessary information and tools, and how resourceful individuals with the knowledge and expertise to fix their own vehicle problems are chilled from doing so out of concern that a manufacturer could sue them for fixing their own car.

People shouldn’t have to hire a copyright lawyer before opening the hood of their car. What really needs repair is the broken state of our copyright laws.


Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDefend Your Right to Repair!DMCADRM
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What Every Librarian Needs to Know About HTTPS - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 05:21

Librarians have long understood that to provide access to knowledge it is crucial to protect their patrons' privacy. Books can provide information that is deeply unpopular. As a result, local communities and governments sometimes try to ban the most objectionable ones. Librarians rightly see it as their duty to preserve access to books, especially banned ones. In the US this defense of expression is an integral part of our First Amendment rights.

Access isn't just about having material on the shelves, though. If a book is perceived as "dangerous," patrons may avoid checking it out, for fear that authorities will use their borrowing records against them. This is why librarians have fought long and hard for their patrons' privacy. In recent years, that include Library Connection's fight against the unconstitutional gag authority of National Security Letters and, at many libraries, choosing not to keep checkout records after materials are returned.

However, simply protecting patron records is no longer enough. Library patrons frequently access catalogs and other services over the Internet. We have learned in the last two years that the NSA is unconstitutionally hoovering up and retaining massive amounts of Internet traffic. That means that before a patron even checks out a book, their search for that book in an online catalog may already have been recorded. And the NSA is not the only threat. Other patrons, using off-the-shelf tools, can intercept queries and login data merely by virtue of being on the same network as their target.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and it's getting easier to deploy every day. HTTPS, the secure version of HTTP, encrypts all traffic between a web browser and a server. The conventional wisdom of the 1990s was that HTTPS was only necessary to protect credit card numbers and passwords. But that opinion has changed for two reasons: First, it's become clear how frequently information is spied on for non-financial reasons, and second, improved algorithms and processing speeds have made HTTPS dramatically cheaper. For instance, Google reported only a 1% increase in CPU costs from deploying HTTPS. The other former cost of HTTPS, obtaining a certificate, has gone from very expensive to completely free over the last decade. It can be complicated to obtain and configure even a free certificate, but EFF, Mozilla, and several other organizations are working to eliminate the hassle with a new project called Let's Encrypt, which will offer certificates that are both free and easy to set up.

To celebrate the American Library Association's Choose Privacy Week, EFF offers five recommendations for libraries:

HTTPS for your whole website

Some libraries use HTTPS on a tiny part of their website: The login form to access records and request books. However, this is not sufficient. Security research has demonstrated that it's impossible to secure only a part of a website. Instead, libraries should ensure that every part of their site, from the front page to the catalog, uses HTTPS at all times. In other words, if someone types "" into their browser, when the page finishes loading, the browser should display "" in the URL bar. Under the hood, the website should be permanently redirecting visitors from insecure HTTP to HTTPS.

Sites should also set the HTTP Strict-Transport-Security header (HSTS for short), which ensures returning visitors always get the secure version of the site, even in the face of network interference.

Safer browsers for your computers

Many libraries are stuck with older versions of Internet Explorer, which lack some of the security features of modern browsers, including HSTS. While HSTS support was very recently added to Internet Explorer, we still recommend Firefox or Chrome. Besides their built-in security features, they support a rich array of security and privacy-related extensions, like HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger.

HTTPS Everywhere for your browsers

EFF offers a browser extension, HTTPS Everywhere, which helps people use the secure version of websites whenever possible. Many websites use HTTPS for some tiny part of their site, but not the whole thing. With contributions from community all over the world, we curate a list of such websites and the browser extension upgrades pages from HTTP to HTTPS when visiting them.

We recommend HTTPS Everywhere for library computers so that snoops cannot intercept patrons' queries to external web sites. However, it's has another valuable use: you can add your own library's site to our list! This is helpful if your site already has partial HTTPS support, but isnt' yet HTTPS-only. In the longer term, of course, it's important to convert your website to HTTPS-only to support patrons without the extension.

Demand HTTPS from ebook providers

Sadly, DRM lockup means that most libraries can offer ebooks only through a tiny handful of providers. EFF is fighting the negative effects of digital rights management, but in the meantime, we recommend pressuring ebook providers to improve their privacy commitments. Last year's discovery that Adobe Digital Editions sent unencrypted filesystem information to Adobe's servers demonstrated that providers often fall flat on privacy.

Libraries should demand that every ebook provider they work with use HTTPS at all times in every app. Log retention policies for ebook data should be at least as privacy-preserving as the library's own policy, and data should not be collected beyond the minimum necessary to provide service. Both the HTTPS encryption and the log retention should be subject to annual audits to ensure they are still working as intended.

Open Wireless

Open wireless is already common at libraries, which is great. Open wireless is the best and easiest way to provide Internet access to a community. However, some library networks use "captive portals" to display a start page to network users, requiring a click to acknowledge terms of acceptable use. Captive portals cause a number of problems, especially for HTTPS websites. Because captive portals have to intercept web traffic, they trigger browsers' "Untrusted connection" warnings about fake certificates. At best, this is a confusing hassle for people using the network. At worst, it trains library patrons to ignore browser warnings.

One of the most common uses for captive portals is to display a Terms of Service page, but that is not the only way to provide an access policy. As part of the Open Wireless Movement, we offer an example policy that participants incorporate by naming their networks "" This approach makes it much easier to join a network without getting confusing browser warnings.


Libraries have a crucial role in preserving access to information. That role is not changing, but the challenges of preserving that access are constantly changing. New services combined with widespread Internet spying mean that librarians need to be savvy about the new threats to their patrons' privacy and take steps to maintain that privacy, whether patrons are reserving books from home or browsing the Internet on library-provided computers. It will take a lot of work, but EFF is confident that the library community is up to the task.

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Categories: Aggregated News

EFF Joins New Global Campaign to Save the Link - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 02:45

For those seeking to censor information online, the weakest link is often precisely that—the humble hyperlink. Censoring or imposing costs or conditions on linking to information can be just as effective, and often easier, than controlling the information at its source. But without the freedom to link, the World Wide Web falls apart into a mass of disconnected threads.

That's why EFF is joining the Save the Link network, a new, broad, cross-sector coalition of groups, convened by Canada's (press release here). Together we are concerned about mounting threats, from various sources, to our freedom to build the strong, interlinked Web that has become the greatest knowledge repository in history.

One of the most pressing threats, and the reason for the launch of the network now, are proposals for limitations on freedom to link in Europe, in the context of debate over Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda's report on the revision of the European copyright directive. Julia's original report (which we supported) contained this strong affirmation of freedom to link:

Stresses that the ability to freely link from one resource to another is one of the fundamental building blocks of the internet; calls on the EU legislator to make it clear that reference to works by means of a hyperlink is not subject to exclusive rights, as it does not consist in a communication to a new public.

But amongst more than 500 proposed amendments to the report that other MEPs have put forward and which are currently under debate, are some pernicious proposals to limit this freedom. One example is an amendment proposed by French MEP Virginie Rozière and Luxembourgish Mady Delvaux, which would add a proviso that:

this option must be strictly limited to links which lead to freely available content; [and] observes that the online intermediaries liability regime applicable to links to illicit content should be tightened up, particularly by revising the e-commerce directive;

Another proposal by British MEP Mary Honeyball would curtail the right as follows:

but stresses that under certain circumstances, embedding and linking may be prejudicial to the rights of the creator;

And a third by Bulgarian and UK MEPs Angel Dzhambazki and Sajjad Karim:

highlights the importance of enhanced user information regarding obligations for anyone who knowingly provides hyperlinks to unauthorised content or links that circumvent paywalls …

Such proposals, even if they make it into the European Parliament's final report, will not in themselves make any change to European law. But nevertheless, they send the wrong message to the European Commission which will be preparing the next revision of the EU Copyright Directive. That false message is that Internet intermediaries such as search engines and Web hosts are enemies, rather than partners of content creators.

A symptom of this misunderstanding has been a rash of ill-considered European measures to shift costs and burdens onto intermediaries. Most notable is Spain's recent copyright amendment that charges intermediaries such as Google a compulsory fee for the use of text snippets that link to news reports, which resulted in Google News shutting down in that country. A parallel amendment imposes criminal liability on Web hosts who link to infringing content, arising once they have been notified of the claimed infringement and failed to remove the link.

These measures already go way too far and should be rolled back, but the discussions over the Reda copyright report point in the opposite direction—towards their possible extension across Europe. Undue influence from the copyright lobby, combined with European discomfort over the market dominance of U.S.-based Internet platforms, has created a toxic combination that threatens to rend the fabric of the World Wide Web as we know it.

Although these European developments provided the stimulus for the launch of the Save the Link network this week, the site also highlights threats to our freedom to link from three other continents, and will enable participants to publicize and mobilize against new censorship threats as they arise. Social media outreach resources like the one shown above are available on the Save the Link website for you to spread the word and tell policymakers that you stand in solidarity with other users in upholding our freedom to link.

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Diverse Groups Stand United Against Plan to Reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 01:52

More than 50 groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership today demanding that they shelve Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr's attempt to renew Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Despite nearly two years of revelations about the full extent of NSA spying—including how the government has interpreted this section of the Patriot Act to mean it can vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people—these Senators want to extend Section 215, unchanged, until 2020.

The letter is loud and clear—this is unacceptable. That’s why this diverse coalition of privacy, human rights, civil rights, and transparency advocates, spanning the political spectrum:

stand united in our opposition to any proposal, such as S.1035, which would seek a straight, long-term reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, without any corresponding reforms.

The letter confronts the Senate leaders on many of the facts that make a reauthorization of Section 215 in the absence of meaningful reform untenable:

These bulk surveillance programs raise serious constitutional concerns, erode global confidence in the American tech sector, and are unnecessary for national security.

The letter also notes the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s conclusion that Section 215 prevented no terrorist attacks and did not lawfully authorize the daily, mass, suspicionless collection of Americans’ phone records.

For these reasons—and many more—the signers are demanding Congress oppose the renewal bill, S. 1035. But we need your help. Go to to tell Congress the bill must be shelved.



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UK Elections: Business As Usual Triumphs - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 01:48
UK Elections: Business as Usual Triumphs
by Stephen Lendman
May 7 general elections approach. Britain is like America. It's all over before polls open. Monied interests win every time.
Ordinary people lose out more than ever in modern memory. It shows in opinion polls. 
Only 16% of voters trust politicians. Why anyone besides well-off Brits do they'll have to explain.  
It doesn't matter who wins on Thursday. Torries and New Labour are even in polls. They're like Republicans and Democrats in America - two sides of the same coin, not a dime's worth of difference between them.
Neither major party is expected to win a majority. Expect coalition government with smaller parties to follow. They largely support the same regressive policies.
All politicians lie. Nothing they say can be believed. New Labour leader Ed Miliband maintained the standard saying Britain's "clear choice on Thursday (is) between a Labour government that will put working people first or a Tory government that will only ever work for the privileged few."
Britain's "clear choice" is none at all. Monied interests run things. Bankers top the pecking order.
Politicians come and go. One major party or the other wins. Things stay the same.
Neoliberal harshness, financialization, weak unions, offshoring manufacturing, privatizing state enterprises, deregulation, and disappearing social justice characterize Britain's economy.
London's Guardian warned of a "hit list of (more) welfare cuts" coming.
Voltaire once explained British society saying its people "are like their own beer; froth on top, dregs at bottom, the middle excellent."
Today's froth never had it better. Poor Brits are enduring their hardest times since post-WW II recovery.
Middle class society is fast disappearing - like in America. Britain's weekly Spectator magazine says it's "shrinking and sinking."
"The lifestyle that the average earner had half a century ago -  reasonably sized house, dependable healthcare, a decent education for the children and a reliable pension - is becoming the preserve of the rich." 
"Middle-class pensioners look on amazed at how their children, now into adulthood, seem to have a far harder time."
Rich elites run things more than ever. They doubled their wealth since 2009. The average worker earns less when adjusted for inflation and wage cuts.
Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King said middle class society is enduring the longest squeeze in living memory. Rich folks never had it better.
London is unaffordable to live in. House prices average over $750,000. The average wage is less than $50,000.
In January, thousands participated in a March for Homes rally. They demanded solutions to unaffordable housing prices - worsening as they escalate.
They carried banners saying "People before profit." Build council homes (reasonably priced ones for working class people)." "Take the wealth of the 1%."
Rents surged an average 13% annually since 2010. So have repossessions and evictions. Britain increasingly is unfit to live in - just like America.
New Labour claiming "Britain can be better" rings hollow for millions enduring increasing hardships.
They're "all the same," growing numbers of voters say about a system increasingly ignoring their needs.
They promise one thing. They do another. Serving monied interests and allying with Washington's war machine matter most.
Respect Party Bradford West MP George Galloway is running for reelection. He calls himself "your traditional, much-loved black cab."
"You don't know what you've got until it's gone. There are not a lot of us black cabs around any more."
His constituency is one of Britain's poorest. It's struggling to reinvent itself. Despite his best  best efforts, he's up against a corrupted, uncaring system.
He's one of 650 House of Commons members. "Recovery, what recovery," he asks?
"We keep hearing that the economic recovery is better in Britain than in any other European country."
"Well it may be in London and the Home Counties, but it certainly isn't here" and most other places in Britain.
Millions are suffering. Food banks are proliferating, Galloway explained. "Can you imagine what the country will look like by 2020 if these barbarians are returned" to power, he stressed.
"We need investment in jobs and infrastructure…But it won't come under the Tories or this miserable local Labour administration." Or New Labour if it bests the Torries nationwide.
Social justice is fast disappearing. Force-fed austerity is official UK policy. 
So is growing wealth inequality. It's risen four times faster since 2008 compared to the seven preceding years.
It bears repeating. Britain is like America - governed of, by and for its privileged elites alone.
It's corrupt, fundamentally unfair and ruthlessly anti-democratic. Young people have no futures.
An entire generation is lost. Social welfare cuts hits Britain's most disadvantaged hardest.
Inequality is booming. Politicians able to make a difference don't care. Increasing amounts of public wealth in private hands is a slippery slope to third world status.
Margaret Thatcher escalated inequality. She oversaw one of the greatest ever transfers of wealth to British society's most well-off.
David Cameron is worse. New Labour's Ed Miliband is no better. Robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul is official bipartisan policy.
It's endorsed by Liberal Democrats, Britain's third ranked party. It's neither liberal nor democratic. It's hard right like the rest.
On Thursday, voting options are death by hanging or firing squad. Ballot choices exclude government serving everyone equitably.
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. 

Phase Out DRM and the Legal Regimes That Support It: International Day Against DRM - Thu, 07/05/2015 - 01:28

Ending the scourge of DRM has long been an important goal for EFF, and the need has only increased in recent years. As the evidence mounts that we're already deep into what EFF Special Consultant Cory Doctorow has dubbed the War On General Purpose Computing, efforts like the Free Software Foundation's International Day Against DRM take on a new meaning.

It's not just about what we can do with the books, music, movies, and games that we buy, though that remains an important fight. It's a matter of basic consumer rights and security.

In support of International Day Against DRM, EFF issues the following statement. It takes inspiration from a similar effort by the Free Software Foundation of Europe.

We live in a new age of user-driven innovation, as users take advantage of the freedom to tinker with their devices and bend them to new and unexpected purposes. Too often, though, that innovation is stifled or hampered by through anti-circumvention rules described in Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and codified in places like Section 1201 of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The harm created by these regulations is much greater than a few missing features. When we lose the ability to tinker with our devices—a category that increasingly includes computers we put in our body, such as medical implants, and computers into which we put our bodies, such as cars—we also lose the ability to trust the security of those devices. Our safety depends on the confidence that the orders we give to these devices will not be subverted by the law, by manufacturers seeking more profits from secondary markets, or by undiscoverable bugs in unauditable software.

And despite the demonstrated power of DRM to hinder competition, stifle user-driven improvements, and undermine secure computing, it’s proven remarkably ineffective at its nominal purpose of inhibiting infringement. One after another, artists, creators, developers, and distributors have come out against it—and the crowd is growing.

To mark the International Day Against DRM, and in solidarity with groups around the world, we call for an end to laws that prop up technical restrictions. Domestic laws should support tinkering, not inhibit it. International agreements should do the same. In a world made of computers, there's no room for rules that prohibit learning about the bugs in the devices we use every day. Governments can only secure our safety and security by encouraging everyone to understand, improve and repair the technology woven into the fabric of the information age.

It’s time to phase out DRM, and the legal regimes that support it.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCADRM
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Categories: Aggregated News

Israel: Serial Terror-Bomber - Wed, 06/05/2015 - 21:34
Israel: Serial Terror-Bomber
By Stephen Lendman
Israel operates like America, other rogue NATO members and Saudi Arabia. It claims a divine right to terror-bomb other nations, groups and individuals at its discretion.
It calls naked aggression "self-defense." It calls justifiable resistance "terrorism." It willfully targets civilians. It invents reasons to justify its lawlessness. They ring hollow every time.
Since Obama launched lawless aggression against Syria in March 2011, Israel terror-bombed the country numerous times - always claiming military or national security justification.
Aggression is a war crime at all times under all circumstances. Israel is a serial offender.
In late April, IDF warplanes killed four people it called "armed terrorists" allegedly trying to plant bombs near Golan's border between both countries.
The incident occurred in Israeli occupied Majdal Shams. An IDF spokesman claimed "terrorists" armed with explosives "were en route to imminent attack on our forces. Our air force neutralized the threat."
No evidence corroborated Israel's  account of the incident. It does what it pleases. It invents reasons why post-facto. Often it neither confirms or denies attacks.
Netanyahu praised the "vigilance" of Israeli forces. Saying "(e)very attempt to attack Israeli soldiers or civilians will be met with a decisive response like this operation which thwarted the attack."
Imagine if every country used warplanes, attack helicopters or heavy ground weapons to counter alleged homeland or border area threats - real or invented. Imagine communities being battlegrounds more than already.
Four deaths were reported this time - perhaps noncombatant civilians wrongfully accused. 
Israel covertly collaborates with anti-Assad takfiri terrorists - arming them and treating their wounded.
On April 22 and 25, its warplanes struck alleged Hezbollah and Syrian military sites.
Reports indicated Syrian army divisions in charge of strategic weapons were targeted. No official word from Hezbollah or Damascus confirmed what happened. 
In mid-January, Israeli helicopter gunship fire killed Hezbollah commander Abu Ali Tabatabai, Jihad Mughniyeh (the son of senior organization military leader Imad Mughniyeh killed in Damascus in 2008), military commander Mohammed Isa, several other Hezbollah fighters, Iranian General Mohammad Allahdaddi and five other Iranians in Syria's Quneitra province. 
Reports indicated two Syrian soldiers died in the attack. Hezbollah and Iran warned of retaliation at their discretion.
The IDF lied claiming targeted victims were setting up a missile base to launch strikes against Israel.
Air Force General Amir Eshel called residential houses struck "essentially military bases" - targets Israel claims a right to attack.
"Lebanese civilians who live in or close to those homes have to know one thing," he added. If conflict erupts, "they should get out as soon as they can."
He warned Hezbollah of "an experience whose dimensions it cannot imagine. I wouldn't trade places with a single Lebanese." He barely stopped short of declaring war.
In March 2009, Israeli airstrikes destroyed trucks claimed to be carrying Iran-made missiles intended for Hamas.
In October 2012, Israeli warplanes attacked Khartoum, Sudan. An arms factory was struck. Israel accused Sudanese authorities of smuggling weapons to Hamas. No corroborating evidence was presented.
At the time, Israeli officials refused comment. Sudan's Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said:
"Four military planes attacked the Yarmouk plant...We believe that Israel is behind it. The planes appeared to approach the site from the east."
"Sudan reserves the right to strike back at Israel." Two civilians were killed. The facility was partially destroyed. Osman added:
"We are now certain that this flagrant attack was authorized by the same state of Israel." 
"The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty."
He said analysis of rocket debris and other material implicated Israel.
In November and December 2011, Sudanese media accused Israel of attacking two alleged Gaza-bound arms convoys. Four deaths and two injuries were reported. 
Sudan's military said little. Israel refused comment. It's usually silent about these type aggressive acts.
In July 2014, its warplanes bombed a site allegedly storing weapons intended for Hamas.
At the time, Sudan's army spokesman A-Sawarmi Khaled Saad reported "a local fire" unrelated to "external hands or a domestic act of sabotage."
Unnamed Sudanese sources indicated otherwise - blaming Israel for what happened.
It's at it again. Overnight Tuesday, reports indicate Israeli warplanes struck a Sudanesse military installation near the city of Omdurman.
Witnesses reported hearing large explosions, according to the Al-Araby news outlet.
A Sudanese army spokesman denied any military site was struck. He only confirmed anti-aircraft fire against something overhead resembling an aircraft or missile.
Press TV cited Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV indicating a Sudanese army source saying it downed an Israeli drone after its warplanes struck sites near Khartoum producing and/or storing long-range scud missiles.
Israel had no comment. It claims Sudan is a key Iranian smuggling route for weapons destined for Hamas - with no corroborating evidence.
At the same time, It wants nations and organizations it attacks denied the right of self-defense. It wants the right to terrorize them freely.
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. 



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