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EFF Asks Court To Allow Human Rights Case Against Cisco to Proceed - Fri, 11/04/2014 - 03:54
Case Argues Cisco Built Surveillance Tools Specifically Designed to Help Chinese Authorities Target Falun Gong

EFF filed a request to submit an amicus brief today in the Federal District Court of the Northern District of California, urging the Court to let a case entitled Doe v. Cisco Systems go forward against Cisco for its role in contributing to human rights abuses against the Falun Gong religious minority in China. China's record of human rights abuses against the Falun Gong is notorious, including detention, torture, forced conversions, and even deaths. These violations have been well-documented by the U.N., the U.S. State Department, and many others around the world, including documentation of China's use of sophisticated surveillance technologies to facilitate this repression.

The central claim in the case is that Cisco purposefully customized its general purpose router technology to allow the Chinese government to identify, track, and detain Falun Gong members. Specifically, the case alleges that Cisco customized technology for anti-Falun Gong purposes including:

  • A library of carefully analyzed patterns of Falun Gong Internet activity (or “signatures”) that enable the Chinese government to uniquely identify Falun Gong Internet users;
  • Several log/alert systems that provide the Chinese government with real time monitoring and notification based on Falun Gong Internet traffic patterns;
  • Applications for storing data profiles on individual Falun Gong practitioners for use during interrogation and “forced conversion” (i.e., torture);
  • Applications for storing and sharing videos of “efficient forced conversions” for purposes of training security officers on successful methods;
  • Applications for categorizing individual Falun Gong practitioners by their likely susceptibility to different methods of “forced conversion”;
  • Highly advanced video and image analyzers that Cisco marketed as the “only product capable of recognizing over 90% of Falun Gong pictorial information;” and
  • A nationwide video surveillance system which enabled the Chinese government to identify and detain Falun Gong practitioners.

The suit also alleges that Cisco not only knew that its customizations would be used to repress the Falun Gong, but actively marketed, sold, and supported the technologies toward that purpose. In fact, the case arises in part from the publication several years ago of a presentation in which Cisco confirms that the Golden Shield is helpful to the Chinese government to “Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities.” It also alleges that these customizations were actually used to identify and detain the plaintiffs.

People around the world are increasingly concerned about the sale by Western companies of surveillance and other technologies used for repression. Over the past few years, EFF has tracked a pattern around the world (here, here and here) and has suggested "Know Your Customer" standards for technology companies who are selling technologies that can be used in human rights abuses to potentially repressive governments. Many have suggested increased export controls to combat the problem, but the Doe v. Cisco and EFF's Kidane v. Ethiopia cases show that there are other ways to address the very real problem of companies selling the tools of repression as well as the repression that results.

In its brief, EFF suggests a careful liability analysis, expressly noting in this case, and in another case against Cisco from last year, Du Daobin v. Cisco,1 that a tech company could not (and should not) be held accountable when governments misuse general use products for nefarious purposes. Yet the allegations here are that Cisco has done far more than sell standard router technology and services to the Chinese authorities; they are that Cisco has specifically and intentionally customized its technologies and services in order to facilitate well-documented human rights violations against a religious minority. That should be sufficient to allow the case to proceed.

EFF legal intern Hilary Richardson greatly assisted in the writing of EFF's amicus brief. Thanks Hilary!

  • 1. The Du Daobin case was dismissed earlier this year and EFF noted the problems with that decision and urged the California court not to follow suit.
Files:  cisco_amicus_brief.pdfRelated Issues: Export ControlsState Surveillance & Human RightsRelated Cases: Kidane v. Ethiopia
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Wild at Heart: Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013? - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 22:00

Yesterday afternoon, Ars Technica published a story reporting two possible logs of Heartbleed attacks occurring in the wild, months before Monday's public disclosure of the vulnerability. It would be very bad news if these stories were true, indicating that blackhats and/or intelligence agencies may have had a long period when they knew about the attack and could use it at their leisure.

In response to the story, EFF called for further evidence of Heartbleed attacks in the wild prior to Monday. The first thing we learned was that the SeaCat report was a possible false positive; the pattern in their logs looks like it could be caused by ErrataSec's masscan software, and indeed one of the source IPs was ErrataSec.

The second log seems much more troubling. We have spoken to Ars Technica's second source, Terrence Koeman, who reports finding some inbound packets, immediately following the setup and termination of a normal handshake, containing another Client Hello message followed by the TCP payload bytes 18 03 02 00 03 01 40 00 in ingress packet logs from November 2013. These bytes are a TLS Heartbeat with contradictory length fields, and are the same as those in the widely circulated proof-of-concept exploit.

Koeman's logs had been stored on magnetic tape in a vault. The source IP addresses for the attack were and Interestingly, those two IP addresses appear to be part of a larger botnet that has been systematically attempting to record most or all of the conversations on Freenode and a number of other IRC networks. This is an activity that makes a little more sense for intelligence agencies than for commercial or lifestyle malware developers.

To reach a firmer conclusion about Heartbleed's history, it would be best for the networking community to try to replicate Koeman's findings. Any network operators who have extensive packet logs can check for malicious heartbeats, which most commonly have a TCP payload of 18 03 02 00 03 01 or 18 03 01 00 03 01 (or perhaps even 18 03 03 00 03 01). We urge any network operators who find this pattern to contact us.

Network operators might also keep an eye out for other interesting log entries from 193.104.110.* and the other IPs in the related botnet. Who knows what they might find?

A lot of the narratives around Heartbleed have viewed this bug through a worst-case lens, supposing that it might have been used for some time, and that there might be tricks to obtain private keys somewhat reliably with it. At least the first half of that scenario is starting to look likely.

Related Issues: Encrypting the WebSecurity
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Growing East/West Divide - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 17:39
Growing East/West Divide
by Stephen Lendman
US hostility toward Russia is unprecedented. It exceeds the worst of Cold War politics. John Kerry's Tuesday Senate testimony highlights what's ongoing. Big Lies substitute for truth.
Kerry hypes one after another. Credibility isn't his long suit. Or integrity. He represents the worst of imperial arrogance. His style reflects demagoguery, bullying, and bluster. 
He's contemptuous of rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He's committed to war, not peace. He's vying to become America's worst ever diplomat.
His Senate testimony was transparently dishonest. He turned truth on its head. He threatened more sanctions. He maliciously accused Moscow of "aggression" on Ukraine. 
He blamed nonexistent "Russian provocateurs" and special forces for spontaneous Eastern Ukrainian protests.
He lied saying "everything that we've seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they've been sent there determined to create chaos." 
"And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly." 
"And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative."
"Russia's clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing." 
"No one should be fooled, and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea." 
"It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours." 
"Some have even been arrested and exposed. And equally as clear must be the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st-century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th-century behavior." 
"We have stated again and again that our preference - and the preference of our friends and allies - is de-escalation and a diplomatic solution." 
"But Russia should not for a single solitary second mistake the expression of that preference as an unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop any violation of the international order."
Russia has a choice, Kerry added. Bow to Western demands or "face greater isolation."
Fact check
Washington bears full responsibility for toppling Ukraine's democratic government. It did so violently. 
It installed illegitimate fascist putschists replacing it. Eastern Ukrainians reject them. Perhaps Western ones will follow. 
It's likely once the full impact of repression combined with IMF neoliberal harshness hits home. People take only so much before rebelling. Perhaps it's coming nationwide.
Uprisings across Eastern Ukraine are significant. Ordinary people want their rights respected. They want local autonomy. 
They want democratic governance. They want what Washington won't tolerate at home or abroad. It remains to be seen what follows. 
Obama's new imperial trophy is far from secure. Throughout his tenure, his policies reflect one blunder after another. Perhaps Ukraine will turn out his worst.
He's already America's worst ever president. A previous article urged impeaching him. It called doing so a national imperative. World peace depends on it. The alternative is too unacceptable to tolerate.
America makes more enemies than friends. Its influence has been declining for decades. It's low heading lower. It may disappear altogether.
The late Chalmers Johnson was right. Militarism is "bankrupting" America. It's heading the country for "ruin."
He said "dismantling the empire (is its) last best hope." He called reliance on global imperialism a "suicide option."
Hubris and overreach assure self-destruction. It's unavoidable, he said. It's far too late for mere scattered reforms. Things are way too out-of-control to make a difference.
History is clear, said Johnson. Choose democracy and survive. Or continue as present and perish. America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change.
"(I)solation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy," he explained. Combined with growing despotism and loss of personal freedoms.
America is on a fast track to ruin. It's permanently at war with invented enemies. It's waging it against humanity. 
It seeks one imperial conquest after another. It's unaccountably repressive. It's the most ruthless government in world history. Bipartisan complicity supports it.
Monied interests decide things. Democracy is a convenient illusion. Media scoundrels stoke fear. They do it to manipulate public sentiment. It's to manufacture consent.
Johnson predicted military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent. "(T)he combination of huge standing armies, continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expen(ditures) destroyed…republican (governance)," he said.
Once down that path, destructive dynamics follow. Freedom is fast disappearing. World peace hangs in the balance. Potential global war looms. Humanity may not survive its destructiveness.
Kerry is Washington's diplomatic front man. He's unprincipled. He represents rogue state policies. NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge.
On April 8, he addressed an Allied Command Transformation seminar. He discussed Eastern Ukrainian events. 
His comments reflected US sentiment. He noted great concern. He irresponsibly blamed Russia, saying:
"Any further move into Eastern Ukraine would represent a serious escalation, rather than the de-escalation that we all seek." 
"We call on Russia to pull back the tens of thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine's borders, engage in a genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities, and respect its international commitments."
"We must prepare a readiness action plan.  We must reinvest in our defence. And we must reinforce the transatlantic bond."
"Because from Sevastopol to Syria and the Sahel, we are facing a dangerous world. Where threats are complex, unpredictable and interconnected." 
"Newer challenges, such as terrorism, failed states, cyber and missile attacks. And old challenges in new guises, such as attempts to redraw borders by force."
"The current crisis poses a serious challenge to our common security.  But North America and Europe stand together in facing up to it. And we stand united in our firm response."
He barely stopped short of declaring war. Washington wants Russia marginalized, weakened, isolated, contained, and co-opted. It risks open conflict to achieve objectives.
US policies reflect madness. Johnson left one thing out of his analysis - possible mass annihilation. An ancient proverb said "(t)hose whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."
Perhaps they had Obama in mind. Perhaps neocons infesting his administration. Perhaps bipartisan complicity. Imperial madness is self-destructive. Super-weapons threaten humanity.
Confronting Russia belligerently risks mutually assured destruction. Cold warriors wouldn't risk it. Today's lunatics might do what they wouldn't dare. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
Mumbo jumbo security threats don't exist. Power politics trumps reason. Russia prioritizes peace and stability. 
Aggression isn't in its vocabulary. Claiming otherwise turns truth on its head. Big Lies repeat one after another. 
Provocatively challenging Russia risks global war. Waging it risks armageddon. Push heads dangerously closer to shove.
Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Moscow didn't send troops cross border. It has no intention doing so. It's official statements fall on deaf ears.
A Tuesday Foreign Ministry statement said "everyday activity by Russian forces on its national territory does not threaten the security of the United States of America or other OSCE member states."
No evidence suggests otherwise. "The attempts to accuse Russia of building up armed forces are groundless," its FM added.
It accused Washington and Kiev putschists of waging propaganda war on Moscow. Doing so substitutes Big Lies for truth.
Provocative US policies persist. Increasing numbers of Pentagon assets are being deployed in Eastern Europe.
Doing so provocatively targets Russia. Around 300 marines are in Romania. Another 175 will join them. It's part of Washington's Eastern European buildup.
The USS Truxton guided missile destroyer provocatively patrols Black Sea waters. A second one will join it. The Donald Cook is set to be deployed. 
On April 9, US Assistant Defense Secretary Derek Chollet said it's being sent "within a week." It's in response to Ukrainian crisis conditions, he said.
Crimean reunification with Russia "challenges our vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace," he added.
Claiming it is polar opposite US policy. Chollet didn't explain. Lies substitute for truth. It's longstanding US practice.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren said America's buildup is "primarily to reassure our allies and partners in the region that we're committed to the region."
What's ongoing and planned targets Russia provocatively. Sergei Lavrov responded saying:
"There exists the Montreux Convention, which gives extremely clear criteria limiting the deployment of warships not belonging to the Black Sea governments in regard to tonnage and length of stay."
"We have noticed that US warships have extended their deployment beyond the set terms a couple of times lately, and at times they did not always comply with the regulations that are set within the Montreux Convention."
Itar Tass quoted Russia's Defense Ministry saying:
"It isn’t known yet if the ship will call into the port of Odessa to demonstrate the US support for the incumbent illegitimate authorities in Kiev, which owe so much to the Americans for arrival at power."
US actions reflect "an extreme intensification of visits of their warships fitted out with the antimissile system to the Black Sea."
Pentagon warships provocatively patrol Black Sea waters "on a regular basis. As soon as one ship leaves, (another) or sometimes a detachment of ships arrives."
Eastern Ukrainian protests continue. Right Sector thugs arrived to confront them. Dmytro Yarosh heads them. 
He has presidential aspirations. He's militantly anti-Russian. He openly boasts about "fighting Jews and Russians till I die."
Greystone Limited mercenaries were deployed in Eastern Ukraine. Reports say about 150. Maybe others will follow.
Greystone formerly was an Academi (aka Blackwater USA) owned company. Both firms maintain close ties. Elements involved are trained killers. They're terrorists.
They operate extrajudicially. They're unaccountable under local laws. Their mission is mischief. It's destabilization.
They represent America's imperial agenda. They operate covertly. They get away with murder. They came to suppress nonviolent protests.
They'll do whatever it takes to try. Expect bloodshed. It follows wherever they're deployed.
An earlier notorious incident reflected numerous lessor ones. In September 2007, Blackwater elements killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Another 20 or more were injured.
They were attacked in Baghdad's Nisour Square. No one was held accountable. Cold-blooded murder didn't matter.
Private military contractors (PMCs) operate under their own rules. Challengers face possible death.
PMC's are notorious. Expect Ukrainians to feel the brunt of their harshness. How they'll respond remains to be seen. 
Crisis Ukrainian conditions remain incendiary. Escalating them makes things worse. A potential East/West confrontation looms. Washington bears full responsibility.
A Final Comment
On April 8, illegitimate Kiev putschist parliamentarians targeted Eastern Ukrainian activists. They passed legislation criminalizing what they called "crimes against the foundations of the country's national security."
They threaten it. So do fascist ministers. They operate in collaboration with Washington and rogue EU partners. 
Pro-Russian protesters are targeted. Dozens were arrested. They face separatism charges.
During debate, Communist Party leader Piotr Simonenko was attacked. He voiced sympathy for Eastern Ukrainian protesters. 
He accused putschist officials of dismissiveness toward their rights. He urged respecting them. He was accosted while speaking. 
He was dragged from the rostrum. He was shoved. He was jostled. He was roughed up. He was denied his right to speak freely. Fighting followed between his supporters and Svoboda neo-Nazis.
Fascist regimes operate this way. Washington offers Kiev full support. Both countries partner in crime. A potential social explosion looms. Perhaps open conflict.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Obama's War on Immigrants - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 17:39
Obama's War on Immigrants
by Stephen Lendman
Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. He governs lawlessly. He does so multiple ways. He targets humanity globally. 
He does so at home. He's waging racist war on immigrants. He mocks notions of welcoming tired, poor, wretched masses yearning to breathe free.
He enforces white supremacist policies. Poor, desperate arrivals aren't welcome. People of color are scorned. America never was beautiful. For sure it's not now.
Obama reflects the worst of rogue leadership. He deported larger immigrant numbers than all his predecessors combined.
On average he exceeds 1,000 a day. In total it's over two million. With nearly three years left in office, maybe he'll try doubling it before departing.
His legacy will be hard to top. He wants tougher congressional legislation enacted.
According to National Day Laborer Organizing Network executive director Pablo Alvarado:
"Unless (he) alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigration administration in history."
Latinos are prime targets. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm (ICE) scapegoats them for political advantage.
They're dehumanized. They're hunted down. Gestapo-like warrantless raids target them. Neighborhoods, workplaces, and other locations are raided.
They're targeted with shotguns and automatic weapons. It's done  extrajudicially. Families are terrorized. Immigrants are pulled from their beds. They're rousted from workplaces.
They're confronted at gunpoint. It's done without explanation. Mistakes are made. Wrong homes or places of work are targeted. 
It's done unapologetically. ICE agents are licensed to terrorize. They do so freely. They're unaccountable.
Immigrants are brutalized. They're rounded up. They're held in dehumanizing detention.
They're separated from family members. They're criminalized. They're treated like terrorist threats. They're horrifically treated. 
They're summarily deported home. They're given no right of appeal.
Independent studies are scathing. ICE agents operate with no legal authority. They arrest people randomly.
They conduct lawless searches and seizures. They arrest based on ethnicity, race, appearance and English proficiency.
Neighborhoods are targeted pre-dawn. Local police cooperate. Homes are broken into lawlessly. Innocent victims are harmed. Family members are terrorized.
Misconduct is rife. Rule of law principles don't matter. Raids occur nationwide. They're virtually daily. They're unannounced.
Excessive force is commonplace. Constitutional protections are violated. Police state lawlessness substitutes.
Viciousness reflects official policy. It's worse than ever under Obama. From June 2012 through October 2013, nearly half of some 350,000 immigrants transferred to ICE from local jails had no criminal records or traffic violations.
Obama bears full responsibility. He defends himself irresponsibly. He does so by blaming Congress. He does it duplicitously.
Executive orders can stop this practice. They can close Guantanamo. They can halt illegal roundups. 
They can close repressive detention centers. They can free lawlessly held immigrants. They can reunite them with family members.
They can grant immigrants immunity. They can grant full constitutional protections. They can mandate humane treatment. They can do so instead of branding unwanted immigrants as fifth column threats.
Obama lies claiming he's constrained. He governs by diktat lawlessly. He abstains from doing the right thing lawfully.
Immigrant rights activists call him the "deporter in chief." On April 5, nationwide rallies occurred in 62 US cities.
Eighty-three supportive organizations endorsed them. They included the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), numerous church groups, community action ones, and various legal defense organizations.
Activists chanted "two million, too many." "Up with education, down, down with deportation."
"Not one more." Marchers carried pictures of deported immigrants. They carried signs with Obama's face. They read "Deporter In Chief."
Other signs read "Smash the borders." A woman with her son held a sign saying: "Obama Don't All Kids Need Their Momma."
Another woman's sign said: "It's in your hands Mr. President." "We want education, not Rejection," said one more.
Hundreds around the White House demanded justice. Their signs said: "Time is Now." "A world without borders." 
"Immigration relief for trafficked victims in the US." "Immigration Reform with Justice + Dignity."
Not One More campaigners organized April 5 rallies. They made three demands:
  • stop deporting law abiding immigrants;

  • end Secure communities: it's a federal initiative; it gives state and local authorities extrajudicial power to hold undocumented immigrants before transferring them to ICE for possible deportation;

  • expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); it defers deportation for two years; it lets undocumented immigrants work.

Bipartisan complicity blocks comprehensive immigration reform. Obama supports what he claims to reject. 
He's the most anti-immigrant president in US history. He lies claiming otherwise.
Deportations come under two broad categories:
(1) Removals are judicially ordered;
(2) Returns let targeted subjects apply legally to return much faster.
Over two million Obama deportations are removals. Federal data show longstanding practice averaged about 40,000 annually through 2008.
Bush averaged about 250,000 a year. From 2009 through 2012, numbers increased exponentially.
They jumped to about 400,000 a year. They include returned removals again sent home.
The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) gave immigration authorities increased enforcement powers.
They can reinstate removal orders without judicial review. In 2005, Operation Streamline was introduced.
It lets immigration courts hear dozens of cases simultaneously. It lets them rule on them collectively.
Doing so facilitates mass removals. According to immigration attorney Ben Winograd:
"In terms of how immigration enforcement is carried out, it's really a crossing of the Rubicon."
Deportations include parents of US-born children. Imagine separating them unjustly. Imagine giving them no legal recourse.
Between July 2010 and mid-October 2012, it happened over 200,000 times.
From 1997 to 2007, about 100,000 parents of US-born children were deported. Imagine the family crisis conditions created.
Imagine an uncaring government. Imagine one worse than ever under Obama. Imagine a president saying one thing and supporting another.
National Council of La Raza head Janet Murguia was unsparing. She blasted Obama.
She called two million deportations "a staggering number. (It) far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America."
US immigration policy is hopelessly corrupted. It's too broken to fix. Remaking it entirely is needed. Long denied immigrant rights deserve respecting.
Emma Lazarus' Lady Liberty words once had meaning. No longer in a nation hostile to its tired, poor, huddled masses.
No welcome sign greets them. They're scorned, abused, exploited ,deported and discarded like yesterday's garbage.
They're vilified for being the wrong color from wrong parts of the world. They're wanted only for low-pay/no benefits hard labor others eschew. 
They're exploited and persecuted. They're denied all rights. They're underpaid. They're hung out to dry when not wanted. 
It's the American way. It's longstanding. It's worse than ever under Obama. 
New York Times editors tried having things both ways. They praised and criticized Obama at the same time.
On April 5, they headlined "Yes He Can, on Immigration," saying:
He's "correct when he complains that long-term immigration repairs have been throttled in Congress." 
False! Blame falls squarely on his shoulders. He can do plenty. He abstained instead. He endorses hostile immigrant policies. He lies claiming otherwise.
"Neo-nativist Republicans fixated on mass deportations have blocked a worthy bipartisan bill," said Times editors.
Obama matches the worst of them. He's done so throughout over five years in office. On major issues besides immigration. Times editors didn't explain.
His anti-immigrant agenda removed over two million immigrants in the last five years.
He "recently told the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to find ways to conduct immigration enforcement more 'humanely,' " said Times editors.
He says one thing. He does another. The pattern repeats with disturbing regularity. He's perhaps America's most anti-populist president ever. He lies claiming otherwise.
He deferred for two years deporting "young people who would have qualified for legal status under the stalled Dream Act," said Times editors.
His "move to protect them was timely and wise." Comprehensive immigration reform is needed, they urged. They're right saying so. What's needed is much more than what they support.
Obama needs to say less and do more. He "often seem(s) like a bystander, watching the wheels spin, giving speeches and hoping for the best," said Times editors.
"It's hard to know when he will finally stir himself to do something big and consequential."
It's easy knowing he'll do nothing to help beleaguered immigrants. He hasn't for five years. Expect nothing different going forward.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

The Bleeding Hearts Club: Heartbleed Recovery for System Administrators - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 17:00

The Heartbleed SSL vulnerability presents significant concerns for users and major challenges for site operators. This article presents a series of steps server and site owners should carry out as soon as possible to help protect the public. We acknowledge that some steps might not be feasible, important, or even relevant for every site, so the steps are given in order both of their importance and the order they should be carried out.

1. Update Your Servers

If you haven't yet, update any and all of your systems that use OpenSSL for TLS encrypted communications. This includes most web servers, load balancers, cache servers, mail servers, messaging and chat servers, VPN servers, and file servers, especially those running on Linux, Unix, BSD, Mac OS X, or Cygwin.

The vulnerable OpenSSL version numbers are 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f and 1.0.2-beta1. The flaw is fixed in OpenSSL 1.0.1g. However, some operating systems have introduced the fix to earlier branches of OpenSSL, and may instruct you to install packages with minimum versions such as 1.0.1e-2+deb7u5 (in the case of Debian GNU/Linux).

If your operating system has not yet released an updated package, download openssl-1.0.1g.tar.gz directly from and follow the instructions in the INSTALL text file to compile the new version locally.

After installing a fixed version of OpenSSL, be sure to restart all services that depend on it. On your sysytem this might include web and proxy servers such as apache, nginx, pound, and squid, caches such as memcached and redis, databases like mysql and postgres, and mail services like postfix, exim, and dovecot. When in doubt, reboot the entire server if possible.

If you manage systems with custom operating systems like switches and routers, you may need to ask your vendor for a patch directly.

If you haven't updated your systems yet, stop reading and do it now. If this is the only step you can carry out in your environment, you will still have done the most important thing by far.

2. Test Your Servers

It's important to verify that the hole has been closed, especially if you have multiple servers and services to stitch up. The bad news is that this vulnerability is relatively easy to exploit. The good news is that means there are a few tools available to see if you're safe.

The SSL Server Test from Qualys SSL Labs will let you know if your web server remains vulnerable. If you have servers running on other ports to test, or STARTTLS mail servers, you can try the script. The hbcheck script can help you test an internal network using nmap. Finally, if you have a large number of hostnames to test, my script might be helpful.

Please note these tests might not be completely reliable, and running them against servers you do not own might not always be considered polite.

3. Be Safer Next Time

This is the worst and biggest security flaw we've seen recently, but it won't be the last. Putting good practices into play for Heartbleed can help you prepare for anything else that might come down the pike next.

One of the strongest protections you can have against TLS vulnerabilities is Perfect Forward Secrecy. This is not simple to configure, and does not yet have global browser support. However, it is the encryption technology that provides the best defense against attacks with the potential to steal your private key and use it to decrypt your traffic.

You should also make sure you're practicing good password discipline. Use a password vault, use strong passwords, change them regularly, and don't reuse them.

Practice least authority for certificates, too. If you don't need to give everyone root access to every server, you probably don't need to give every server a certificate for *

Finally, make sure you have reliable (if not automated) process for providing all of your servers with security updates quickly. After all, the only thing worse than getting pwned by a zero-day vulnerability is getting pwned by a one-day.

4. Consider Rekeying Your Servers

One of the worst things about the Heartbleed vulnerability is that it makes it theoretically possible for an attacker to recover your server's private key. Fortunately, the probability of this being possible on a given server appears quite low. Unfortunately, we can't yet be completely sure if that's true.

Key theft is a terrible attack because it tends to be undetectable by you, the server operator. Worse still is the harsh truth that, unless all your connections are served with Perfect Forward Secrecy, this would allow such an attacker not only to decrypt any newly intercepted traffic but to decode records of past traffic. If you run a server that intelligence agencies are likely to attack, this is a serious problem.

That means you may wish to consider revoking and regenerating your existing SSL certificates using new keys. Doing so will protect against the possibility of passive traffic decryption (if you don't use PFS) and man-in-the-middle attacks with a stolen key.

Because private key compromise via Heartbleed currently appears to be quite rare, this may not need to be a priority except for high value services (large or sensitive email and messaging systems, software distribution points, banks). Other services may not need to panic and rush to rekey quite so urgently. For most threat scenarios, adopting PFS provides greater overall protections than rekeying so we will remind you to make PFS a priority.

The details of the rekeying process will vary depending on the Certificate Authority you use to generate certificates and/or manage domain names. Some will allow you to regenerate in one step. Some will require you to revoke the old certificate before requesting a new one.1 Most will have a prominent link in their control panels, and many will waive their normal fees right now.

If you are given the option during the certificate regeneration process, it's a good idea to create a .csr file (Certificate Signing Request) and private key locally on your server using the openssl command. It might seem strange to prefer trusting OpenSSL at the moment, but it's still a safer bet than trusting a third party with your private key right off the bat.

5. Consider Changing Passwords

Unlike private key compromises, Heartbleed leakage of recently-used passwords from server processes linked to OpenSSL appears to have been quite common. Unfortunately, this could affect not just your operators and staff but your users.

This means you should perform risk assessment and determine which categories of passwords on your servers and services may need immediate resets, user-reset-on-next-login, or advisories suggesting resets. Variables in the risk assessment include how quickly you were able to patch your servers after the vulnerability was publicly disclosed at around 17:30UTC on 2014-04-07, According to a recent article in Bloomberg, i2. the sensitivity and value of potentially accessible accounts, whether accounts had been used recently (meaning their passwords were in RAM), and the probability that random or specific people on the Internet might have found your servers to be interesting targets.

You should determine which passwords are of sufficient value to deserve precautionary resets, and perform these after the steps above, in order to offer the new passwords proper protection. (If you've decided to rekey because of a concern about private key exposure, that is another reason to change users' passwords.)

You should also consider changing CSRF and OAUTH authentication tokens, invalidating session cookies, and rotating authentication cookies. These steps can be performed independently of passwords changes and may be far less disruptive.

6. Update Your Users

Your users have already heard of this scary Internet password thing, and chances are they're concerned about how it affects your site. Let them know what you've done, what you will do, and what the remaining risks are. Don't try to give them a false sense of security. Knowing that you're working on it and reaching out to them at all will work wonders.

7. Turn on Perfect Forward Secrecy

Because you skipped it in step three, didn't you? That's okay. There's still time. We'll wait.

Related Issues: Encrypting the WebSecurity
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EFF is Expanding into Student and Community Organizing, and We Need Your Help - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 13:30

Recent events have shown us more than ever that the technologies we use and create every day have astonishing implications on our basic, most cherished rights. Tens of thousands more people have joined us in the past year alone—together, we're building a movement. But we need your help.

Today, we at EFF are unveiling new tools for student and community activists to engage in campaigns to defend our digital rights.

We want you to bring the fight to protect online civil liberties to cities, towns, and campuses across the country. We invite you—whether you're a newly minted activist or an experienced community organizer—to join our growing team of driven individuals and organizations actively working make sure that our rights are not left behind as we develop and adopt new technologies.

Interested? Join our mailing list for organizers today and check out our helpful resources.

I'm in. How can I help?

There are plenty of ways to take part, no matter how much organizing experience you have.

  • Start a group: Talk to friends and community members to gauge who else in your network is interested in digital freedom. Form a group that can discuss the issues and plan ways of advocating for your rights. For some tips on getting started, check out our guide on how to build a coalition on campus and in your community.
  • Bring digital rights to an existing group: These issues are everybody's issues, no matter where on the political spectrum you lie. You can work with existing political, civil liberties, activist, and computer-related groups and urge members to take on a digital rights campaign.
  • Organize an event: We have plenty of suggestions for events you can throw, from film screenings to rallies, parties to speaker series.
  • Let your voice be heard: We are all part of the digital rights movement together, and your voice is as important as ours. Learn how to coordinate with local and national campaigns, and amplify your message by reading our tips on engaging with the press.

While many student groups and local community organizations are working on surveillance reform in light of the recent disclosures about massive government spying, it’s not only the NSA that we’re fighting: we’re demanding open access to publicly funded research; we’re fighting to protect the future of innovation from patent trolls; we’re urging companies and institutions to deploy encryption; we're defending the rights of coders and protecting the free speech rights of bloggers worldwide—the list goes on.

We can’t do this by ourselves. That’s why we’re building a trusted team of activists and organizers across the country to spread the word and build momentum for political reform and technical tools to protect our rights.

Road trip!

EFF is also hitting the road. We're traveling to cities and towns across the country to speak to student groups, meet with community organizers, and host local events to share and broaden our vision of an Internet grounded in creativity, community, and civil rights. In March and April, we’re visiting Boston, Cambridge, New York City, Ames, Des Moines, Washington, D.C., New Haven, and Middletown.

If you’re interested in having someone from EFF come to your event, class, or campus or community group to speak and help you all organize, send an email to and join our community organizers mailing list. Let us know what you’re up to, and we’ll let you know when we’re in your area.

Campus activism: All the cool people are doing it

Many activists, lawyers, and technologists will tell you that they got their start as a student. That's why we're especially excited to work with students and professors.

You don’t have to be a lawyer or have a college degree to be a strong voice. There’s no prerequisite for setting up a meeting with your elected official, writing an op-ed, or growing a campus organization. All it takes is a vision for change. We’ve seen student activists and innovators drive reform by challenging poorly written policies and developing new technologies that bring us closer to our vision of a networked world that respects our rights and fosters creativity.

Not a student? No worries! If you’re a member of a community that wants to engage deeper in EFF’s work, you can still join our organizers mailing list. There’s so much to do on the community level, too. If you’re concerned about local law enforcement surveillance hubs, the use of license plate readers, domestic drones, or are in a community of artists stifled by oppressive copyright policies, now is the time to raise awareness, build a coalition, and organize to defend our digital rights. 

This is only the beginning. When we finally see meaningful reform of our broken intellectual property system and new bills passed that bring our national security programs back within the bounds of the Constitution—and we will—it won’t be due to the effort of a few policy wonks and privacy enthusiasts or a handful of lawyers in Washington, D.C. It will be because millions of people across the world fought for change, demanded meaningful reform, started using privacy enhancing technology, and held their elected officials accountable. Together, we’re going to make history

We hope to see you digital rights activists out there. Stay tuned. This is going to be huge.






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Netanyahu Declares War on Palestine - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 05:36
Netanyahu Declares War on Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
He's a world class thug. He represents the worst of rogue state leadership. He exceeds Sharonian evil. Why Israelis put up with him they'll have to explain.
He's militantly racist. He deplores peace. He thrives on violence and instability. He blames Palestinians for Israeli crimes.
He calls sham peace talks legitimate ones. They've been stillborn decades. They remain so now.
Netanyahu wants Palestinians denied all rights. He wants them cowed into submission. He wants his rules enforced. 
Palestinians have no legitimate peace partner. They never did. For sure not now. They're on their own like always. Israel spurns equity and justice. Occupation harshness persists.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu ordered government officials to stop cooperating with PA ones. It's in response to Abbas' "grave violation of (his) commitments to the framework of the peace talks," he claimed.
He lied saying so. Israel bears full responsibility. He stressed eliminating meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts. 
He did so in response to Abbas applying to join 15 UN bodies and treaties. He wants Palestinians denied their legal rights.
Cabinet secretary Avichai Mendelblit informed Israeli minsters by telephone. Only low-level cooperation is permitted.
Israeli Defense Ministry/PA contacts continue. Maintaining them relates to security. Abbas serves as Israel's enforcer. Peace talks aren't affected.
Fatah official Mohammed al-Madani said he's unaware of details on what happened. "If true, this decision is mistaken," he said.
"It’s impossible to sever the ties between Israelis and Palestinians. We must continue to have normal relations in order to reach a just and lasting peace."
Opposition Labor chairman Isaac Herzog reacted. He accused Netanyahu of aggravating sensitive conditions.
"The prime minister is handing petrol and flammable materials to the last of Israel's haters," said Herzog.
"It's not clear what good will come of this superfluous move of cutting off relations with the Palestinian Authority," he added. "In fact, it's quite clear what damage will come of this step." 
"It will harm the interests of the state of Israel and its economic sector. The prime minister has begun a process of disengagement between Israel the world." 
"This is the result of frustration and helplessness, and the prime minister of Israel's lack of ability to operate within a plan and reached any sort of achievement in that realm. Frustration and helplessness are not diplomatic policy." 
Meretz party MK Nitzan Horowitz said:
"Netanyahu is confirming that he killed the diplomatic process after making the talks explode, when he didn't give them a real chance in the first place. He's destroying what's left."
He's hurting Israel most, he added. His action is "irresponsible" and "dangerous."
Environmental Protection minister called his decision "useless." It "deserv(ed) prior discussion," he added.
"I intend to ask the prime minister to hold an in-depth discussion on the significance and implications of this decision," he said.
Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky supports the move. Palestinians need contacts more than Israel, he said.
"It's a serious mistake to think that we need to pay a price just so people will talk to us," he added. 
"I commend the prime minister for his decision to respond with determination to the Palestinian Authority's provocations."  
Hardline Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called settlement construction Israel's divine right.
"Some people describe the construction as a boom in settlement activities, and I am telling them we will continue to build in the capital of our Jewish homeland," he said. 
"Some tried to prevent us from living in our capital, but Zionism will continue to build, nobody will ever be able to stop us."
PA spokesman Ehab Bseiso said Israel undermined efforts "to revive the negotiations, to proceed with a constructive solution to the challenges facing the peace process."
Former US peace negotiator Aaron David Miller claimed:
"A collapse of the (talks) add(s) to the perception that we really don't know what we're doing."
Gulf Research Center senior advisor Mustafa Anali said Arab expectations of Washington are about as low as they can get.
"That's because Arabs never trusted this administration as a peacemaker."
Obama deplores peace. He's a warrior. He waged multiple direct and proxy wars. He's done so throughout his tenure. He's targeting Russia. He's playing with fire.
He wants all independent governments removed. He wants pro-US vassal states replacing them. He one-sidedly supports Israel. He says one thing. He does another.
Netanyahu goes way out of his way to incite conflict. He bears full responsibility for failed talks. Washington shares it. Kerry tried disingenuously to deflect blame.
Hours before Netanyahu's order, he blamed Israel for impasse peace talks conditions. He did so during Senate Foreign Affairs Committee testimony.
He said Abbas applying for UN body memberships followed Israel disrupting so-called peace talks.
"Both sides, whether advertently or inadvertently, wound up in positions where things happened that were unhelpful," he said. 
"Clearly, going to these treaties is not helpful, and we have made that crystal-clear," he added.
"Unfortunately, prisoners were not released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day one went by, day two went by, day three went by." 
"And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are"  now.
Damage control followed Kerry's testimony. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said he was misunderstood. He didn't place blame primarily on either party, she claimed.
"Secretary Kerry has been consistently crystal clear that both sides have taken unhelpful steps, and at no point has he engaged in a blame game," she said. 
"The fact is, it is up to the parties and their leaders to determine whether they are going to make the tough choices needed, and that has always been the case."
Kerry's above quoted comments need no further explanation. He blamed both sides. He criticized Israel most. It deserves it entirely. 
Abbas should have joined all world bodies years ago. He should have done much more. He abstained instead of acting responsibly. 
Throughout his tenure, he's been a reliable Israeli collaborator. Betrayal defines his policy. Joining world bodies doesn't matter without willingness to use them.
Most important is holding Israel responsible for high crimes too grave to ignore. Abbas never did so before. Expect nothing this different time. 
Failure renders his action meaningless. Kerry and Netanyahu made mountains out of mole hills. Criticizing legal Palestinian rights reveals their true agenda. 
They want them entirely denied. They want Israel alone afforded them. They want Palestinians ruthlessly exploited. They want war, not peace.
Israel reacted sharply to Kerry's remarks. An unnamed Israeli official was "deeply disappointed." He referred to what he called his "poof speech."
He countered holding Palestinians responsible for Israel's intransigence. Kerry's remarks "both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions," he claimed.
Kerry "knows that it was the Palestinians who said 'no' to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said 'no' to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said 'no' to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said 'no' to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said 'no' to an extension of the talks," he said.
"At the same time, in the understandings reached prior to the talks, Israel did not commit to any limitation on construction." 
"Therefore, the Palestinian claim that building in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, was a violation of the understandings is contrary to the facts." 
"Both the American negotiating team and the Palestinians know full well that Israel made no such commitment."
An unnamed PA official holds Israel entirely responsible. It's "undermining the American role in the peace process," he said.
Palestinian negotiators "never raised any issue that is not already an Israeli obligation."
Settlement construction is illegal, he stressed. Israel is obligated to halt it entirely. Failure to release prisoners agreed on threw fuel on the fire.
Months of talks reveal failure. Israel "clearly show(s) no interest" in viable Palestinian statehood.
It demands Abbas rescind his world body applications. Palestinian officials said they stand as submitted. They won't be reversed.
An unnamed Israeli official said "Israel wants to see the negotiations continue and will persist in its efforts to resolve the current crisis."
At the same time, he warned: "In response to unilateral Palestinian steps, Israel will take unilateral steps of its own."
It began doing so. It widens the gap between both sides. It makes conflict resolution less likely.
Given Israel's longstanding hardline position, it's virtually impossible. With Netanyahu in charge, it's zero.
Giving peace a chance is no option. Conflict resolution is more distant than ever.
Days earlier, Netanyahu imposed other punitive measures. He said more would follow. He suggested tax revenues due Palestine would be frozen.
Israel collects them and customs duties. It's obligated to return them to PA officials. They provide operating revenues. 
They amount to about $100 million monthly. They're on goods imported into Palestine. Israel froze them earlier. It was during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions.
Twenty-six political prisoners scheduled for release remain incarcerated. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and General Yoav Mordechai were told "to prepare a list of all possible measures."
One suspends Palestine's Wataniya wireless provider. It operates in the West Bank. Permission to do so in Gaza will be denied. 
Implementing 3G cellular technology in PA-assigned areas is frozen. So are Area C promotion master plans.
On Tuesday, Abbas arrived in Cairo. He came for an emergency Arab League foreign ministers meeting. It convened at his request. 
Failed peace talks were discussed. He asked for economic help. He wants $100 million monthly in case Israel withholds tax revenues.
Arab League foreign ministers want talks continued. Why they'll have to explain. They're futile. They reflect decades of failure. Nothing is different this time.
London-based Asharq Al-Awsat quoted unnamed Palestinian sources saying PA "leadership is open to the idea of extending negotiations but not at any price."
In response to Netanyahu ordering government officials to stop cooperating with PA ones, Hamas called for ending PA security coordination with Israel.
It urged greater resistance against occupation harshness. It said Palestinians should "give full rein" to doing so. 
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun said Abbas should act based on Netanyahu's decision. He should let resistance "deter the Israeli occupation and defend our people, our land, and our holy sites."
He should end negotiations. He should recruit regional and international opposition. He should challenge Israeli lawlessness. If not now, when?
Failed peace talks show Hamas was right. Negotiating with Israel assures failure. Doing so negatively impacts Palestinians. They're much worse off than ever.
Earlier talks did more harm than good. Sham ones work this way. They accomplish nothing. They give Israel free rein to benefit at Palestinians' expense.
They suffer horrifically under Israel's boot. Nothing suggests improvement going forward. 
Challenging Israeli repression responsibly matters most. The alternative is slow-motion suffocation.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Medical Privacy: Digital Technology Can Leave Your Health History Exposed - Thu, 10/04/2014 - 05:27
New EFF Project Tackles Electronic Medical Records and Inherent Risks to Your Privacy

San Francisco - The digitization of medical records is being pitched to the public as a way to revolutionize healthcare. But rapid technological innovation and lagging privacy laws are leaving patients – and their most sensitive information – vulnerable to exposure and abuse, especially in this age of "big data." The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching a new medical privacy project today to identify the emerging issues and to give advocates the information they need to fight for stronger protections for patients.

"You assume that the decision about when to disclose medical data – like if you've had an abortion or have a serious heart condition – is yours and yours alone. But that information may be circulated in the process of paying for and providing treatment, or as part of mandated reporting," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "As the American medical establishment moves towards complete digitization of patient records, it's important to take a hard look on what that means for everyone's privacy, and what we should do about it."

EFF's project explores the unsettled areas of medical privacy law and technology, including a primer on how law enforcement might get access to your health information, or how the government might be able to collect it by claiming that it's necessary for national security. There's also a detailed discussion of public health reporting systems and how federal health laws give patients some rights but take others away. EFF will add more topics in the months to come.

"Genetic testing provides a striking example of some of the challenges we face with protecting medical data. Genetic data is uniquely identifiable and can be easily obtained from cells we shed every day," says EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. "But we have weak laws protecting this highly sensitive data."

EFF's work on the medical privacy project is supported by a grant from the Consumer Privacy Rights Fund of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.

For EFF's full medical privacy project:


Lee Tien
   Senior Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rainey Reitman
   Activism Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Fascist Police Attack Anti-Maidan Protesters - Wed, 09/04/2014 - 17:39
Fascist Police Attack Anti-Maidan Protesters
by Stephen Lendman
Fascist police operate the same way everywhere. They do it across America. They brutalized nonviolent Occupy Wall Street activists.
FBI officials equated them with terrorists. Independent journalists covering them were harassed, arrested, handcuffed and beaten.
It happened in New York's Zuccotti Park. They were accused of trespassing. They had valid NYPD-issued press passes.
It happened nationwide. Peaceful protesters were accused of pursuing violence. Rogue cops got free reign to attack them. 
Global justice activists are treated the same way. Free expression is denied. So is public assembly. Petitioning government about grievances is considered heresy.
A previous article discussed Eastern Ukrainian resistance. Thousands in Kharvov, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Nikolayev and elsewhere reject Kiev putschists.
They want local autonomy. They want Crimean-style referendum authority to decide. 
They took over Donetsk's Security Service building. They proclaimed a People's Republic of Donetsk.
Kharkov protesters took over the Regional State Administration. They occupied the putschist UNIAN news agency building.They proclaimed independence.
Protesters flooded streets. It's happening across Eastern Ukraine. 
On April 8, RT International headlined "Kiev cracks down on eastern Ukraine cities after two proclaim independence."
Police arrested at least 70 activists. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said:
"The anti-terrorist operation has begun. The center of the city and Metro stations are closed. As soon as we finish the operation, we will unblock them." 
"The building of Regional State Administration is totally free from the separatists who seized it earlier."
He threatened to sack 30% of Khakov's police, adding:
"I said yesterday that a considerable number of police officers not so much had been serving their Motherland as sabotaging the process." 
"I believe at least 30% of Kharkov police will be dismissed."
According to RT, police attacked protesters violently. They "used fire-hoses, stun grenades, and tear gas…" 
In response, activists threw Molotov cocktails. They did so at the building. They avoided harming anyone. They set tires ablaze.
It spread on the building's first floor. Fire crews extinguished the blaze. Minor damage was reported. 
Eye-witnesses said putschist provocateurs triggered violence. Earlier, pro-EU elements clashed with federalization supporters.
Witnesses said demonstrators still control the building. RT said an activist used a loudspeaker.
He proclaimed Kharkov independence. He said a regional referendum will decide it up or down. Demonstrators responded supportively.
Protesters erected barricades around administrative buildings. They did so around Security Service headquarters.
Donetsk protesters reacted the same way. Mariupol Donetsk region port city conditions remain tense.
On Saturday, pro-Russian activists stormed the local prosecutor's building. They demanded people's mayor Dmitry Kuzmenko's release.
Odessa residents protested against Kiev repression. Clashes erupted in Nikolaev. It's in southern Ukraine.
Hundreds of activists tried storming the city's administration building. Police attacked them with rubber bullets.
At least 15 injuries were reported. Eleven were hospitalized. Over 20 arrests were made.
Dnepropetrovsk authorities tried reason over violence. They moved to negotiate with protesters.
Boris Filatov is regional vice governor. Protesters agreed to refrain from "calls for separatist actions," he said.
Authorities let them operate out of administrative building facilities. They provided free print media access.
On April 8, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined "Tanks heading for Ukraine's Lugansk on Kiev order," saying:
Southeastern self-defense squads are readying "for an armed attack." According to activist Yury Germes:
"Citizens are all wound up. Lugansk residents are demanding a referendum on self-determination. It was hard to negotiate with the interior ministry representatives." 
"We've just got info on six armored vehicles and soldiers heading for Lugansk. We will not give in. There must be a referendum!"
Donetsk mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko blamed Kiev. Fascist extremists ignited protests.
"New Ukrainian authorities do not quite understand what is happening in Donetsk now."
"Indeed, the seizure of administrative buildings is illegal and bad. Separatist slogans that were voiced in city squares are unacceptable." 
"Yet all these problems are a consequence of the new authorities' incorrect policy, their unwillingness to look into the problems to understand them."
They have themselves to blame. Protesters reject them. They want their rights respected. Putschist extremists deny them.
On April 8, Itar Tass headlined "Federalization crucial for Ukraine - Russian lawmaker."
According to Moscow's lower house State Duma Education Committee chairman Vyacheslav Nikonov:
"It's perfectly clear that if the Kiev authorities do not go the way of federalization, do not give official status to the Russian language and non-aligned status to Ukraine, it will probably be doomed as an independent and integral state."
Growing thousands across Eastern Ukraine demand it. Protesting reflects "the extremely near-sighted nationalist policy pursed by so-called incumbent Kiev authorities," Nikonov added.
Russia may have to intervene to avoid violence and bloodshed, he said. Doing so would excluded troops, he stressed.
Socioeconomic conditions alone are deplorable. IMF diktats assure far worse ahead. Plundering Ukraine is planned. 
So is sacking thousands of workers. Increasing poverty exponentially is certain. Ukraine heads toward becoming Greece 2.0. 
Horrific conditions reflect things. Growing human misery describes them. Expect angry Ukrainians becoming enraged ahead. 
They've yet to feel neoliberal harshness full force. It's coming. It's planned. It'll hit like a hammer on arrival. It'll leave millions of Ukrainians on their own out of luck.
It remains to be seen how they'll react. Perhaps not just in Eastern cities. Maybe nationwide. People take only so much before rebelling. A potential social explosion looms.
Maybe civil war. Maybe what opposition putschists can't contain. Will US-led NATO forces intervene? Will mass slaughter follow? 
Will Obama's grand strategy fail? Will conflict spread cross-border? Will Russia be targeted? Will it be blamed for US-led lawlessness? These and other important questions remain unanswered.
Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat. He shames John Kerry. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. War criminals alone get it. Obama is Exhibit A.
On April 7, Lavrov's London Guardian commentary headlined "It's not Russia that is destabilizing Ukraine."
He called what's ongoing a "profound and pervasive crisis." It's "a matter of grave concern," he added.
External forces should be helping Ukraine, he stressed. At issue is "protect(ing) the foundations of civil peace and sustainable development…"
Moscow goes all-out to do it. Lavrov is front and center involved. Russia more than any other country. Best efforts are criticized.
Misguided Western ones substitute. Kiev was "undemocratically" seized. Putschists have no legitimacy.
No one elected them. Legal authority is absent. Self-appointing themselves mocks lawful governance. It reflects tyranny writ large.
At the same time, US-led NATO encroaches closer to Russia's borders. Doing so is provocatively dangerous.
"No less troubling is the pretence of not noticing that the main danger for the future of Ukraine is the spread of chaos by extremists and neo-Nazis," said Lavrov.
"Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine." 
"We are firmly convinced that this can be achieved through, among other steps: real constitutional reform, which would ensure the legitimate rights of all Ukrainian regions and respond to demands from its south-eastern region to make Russian the state's second official language; firm guarantees on Ukraine's non-aligned status enshrined in its laws, thus ensuring its role as a connecting link in an indivisible European security architecture; and urgent measures to halt activity by illegal armed formations of the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist groups."
Moscow imposes nothing on anyone, Lavrov added. If policies benefitting all Ukrainians fairly aren't implemented, crisis conditions may spiral out-of-control.
With "unpredictable consequences," said Lavrov. Russia is ready to partner with Western nations. It urges "achieving (important) goals."
Belligerent actions worsen things. Sanctions are counterproductive. They cut both ways. They're stupid. They're lose - lose.
"De-escalation should begin with rhetoric," said Lavrov. It's time to stop "whipping-up" tensions. He urges cooperation. Serious work remains unresolved.
It's up to both sides to do it. Russia wants no less. It can't pursue mutually beneficial policies without a willing partner.
It has none. Washington prefers confrontation. It drags its EU partners along. Doing the wrong thing assures its own punishment.
What's worse than global war. Odds of it erupting increase with every Western provocation. 
They repeat with disturbing regularity. Media scoundrels echo Big Lies. Murdoch controlled Wall Street Journal editors are some of the worst.
Putin bashing writ large persists. On April 7, they headlined "Putin's Latest Escalation."
He's "back on the offensive," they said. They lied claiming it. They outrageously blamed him for Eastern Ukrainian protests.
Moscow has nothing to do with them. Claiming otherwise hypes a Big Lie. It's featured. It's longstanding Journal editorial policy.
Truth is systematically buried. It's verboten. It's not tolerated. It's opposite the acceptable narrative.
Journal editors suggest "bloodshed could provide the excuse Mr. Putin wants to order Russian forces to take over another chunk of the country, not that the Russian has shown he needs a pretext."
They hyped the Big Lie about Russia invading Crimea and annexing it. Crimeans acted on their own. They did so overwhelmingly.
They voted 96.77% for reunification. Record turnout made it more impressive. Ordinary Crimeans chose. International law supports them. UN Charter principles endorse self-determination.
Washington can't deny them. Nor Journal editors. Big Lies can't hide truth. Calling Crimea's referendum a "sham" doesn't wash. 
Nor blaming Russia for Eastern Ukrainian activism. It's spontaneous. It's self-generated. It's real. It's legitimate. It has legs.
It's spreading. It may go nationwide. Obama's new imperial trophy may slip from his grasp. Maybe he'll go to war to save it. 
Maybe Journal editors will cheerlead it. They're in lockstep with all US imperial wars. Calling them humanitarian interventions turns truth on its head.
So does saying Putin uses Russia's "military (for) leverage." Claiming its parliament is "rubber-stamp." 
Suggesting "Russian forces (are) green-lighted…anywhere in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers." Lying about them ready to invade Ukraine "at any moment."
They bury legitimate voices. They give them no say. They quoted illegitimate/fascist extremist/self-appointed president Oleksandr Turchynov. He maliciously accused Russia of:
"Debstabilization, toppling the current government, thwarting elections and tearing the country apart."
Things were stable until he and other putschists allied with Washington and Western partners. They wrecked Ukraine doing it.
They established illegitimate fascist rule. They plan sham May elections. They'll be manipulated to install likeminded extremists. 
Democracy is strictly verboten. Ukrainians have no say. Not according to Journal editors.
They praised coup d'etat "democracy." They hailed a "prosperous alignment with the West." They lied claiming Putin wants things his way.
His "troops on the border are a reminder of what can happen by force if Kiev declines the offer."
Legitimate editors wouldn't touch this rubbish. Journal ones feature it. Propaganda substitutes for required reading. War winds head toward gale force.
A Final Comment
On April 8, John Kerry testified before Senate Foreign Relations Committee members. He highlighted the Big Lie.
He blames "Russian provocateurs" for spontaneous Eastern Ukrainian protests. He claimed Moscow may use them as a pretext to invade cross border.
He cited nonexistent Russian special forces involvement. He mentioned intelligence operatives. He said they're acting as catalysts. They're stoking unrest, he claimed.
"Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary," he said.
It's hard understanding why anyone takes him seriously. He's transparently disingenuous. He hypes one Big Lie after another. He's been caught red-handed many times.
He's not deterred. He blames Russia for US crimes. He blames Syria and Palestinians the same way. 
He mocks legitimate statesmanship. He lacks honor. Integrity isn't his long suit. Nor credibility. Sergei Lavrov shames him by comparison. 
Mismatch describes their relationship. A diplomatic giant v. a tactless incredibly shrinking pretender.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Sham Peace Talks Continue - Wed, 09/04/2014 - 17:38
Sham Peace Talks Continue
by Stephen Lendman
They mock legitimate ones. Palestinians agreed to continue them despite zero chance for success. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir once said:
"I would have conducted the autonomy negotiations for 10 years, and in the meantime we would have reached half a million souls in Judea and Samaria."
"I didn't believe there was a majority in favor of a greater land of Israel. But it could have been attained over time." 
"Without such a basis, there would be nothing to stop the establishment of a Palestinian state."
Shamir went all-out to prevent it. So did other Israeli prime ministers before and after him. Netanyahu deplores the notion.
He demands unconditional Palestinian surrender. He wants occupation harshness continued. He wants all valued Judea and Samaria land stolen.
He wants Palestinians denied all rights. Talks with his negotiators reflect the futility of hoping for what won't happen.
UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian human rights Richard Falk condemns Israeli colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. In late March, he said:
"Every increment of enlarging the settlements, or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations."
"To sustain indefinitely an oppressive occupation containing many punitive elements also seems designed to encourage residents to leave Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent annexationist, colonialist and ethnic-cleansing goals of Israel, especially in relation to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."
Falk noted "a strong internal Israeli opposition" to Palestinian self-determination. Netanyahu and other right wing extremists mock it. They deplore it. They won't permit it.
Ongoing talks are a charade. They mock legitimacy. They continue. Why Palestinians participate futilely they must explain.
Every stolen dunum of Palestinian land makes viable statehood less likely. Every settlement expansion.
Every demolished Palestinian home. Every ethnically cleansed resident. Every Palestinian blame game victim of Israeli intransigency. 
Every Palestinian murdered. Everyone arrested. Every day without conflict resolution. Every Israeli effort to subvert talks. Every opportunity lost.
Israeli/Palestinian/US negotiators met Monday. Again on Tuesday. Zero progress was made. An unnamed Israeli official said talks will continue. No date for more was set.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lied saying: "Gaps remain but both sides are committed to narrow the gaps."
Chasms remain. Nothing whatever was resolved. Nothing will be. Israel won't permit it. Nor Washington. They want unconditional Palestinian surrender.
Israeli rights alone matter. Palestinians are on their own like always. They're blamed for what Israel denies them. Netanyahu and likeminded extremists call wanting to live free on their own land "terrorism."
New York Times editors one-sidedly support Israel. It's longstanding policy. It goes back decades. Jodi Rudoren serves as Jerusalem bureau chief. Her agenda is obscuring reality.
She avoids discussing Israeli torture, targeted assassinations, cold-blooded murder, demolished Palestinian homes, dispossessions, and other lawless practices, as well as unaccountable settler violence and vandalism.
She equates BDS activism with anti-Semitism. It reminds her of Nazi era practices.
At best, she calls Israeli settlements "controversial." International law calls them illegal. No ambiguity exists.
She believes sham peace talks are legitimate. Palestinians share blame for no progress, she claims. On April 7, she discussed political prisoner Marwan Barghouti.
She linked him to peace talks. She lied calling him a convicted "murderer." He faced spurious charges. He's no terrorist. 
He calls himself "a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people." Israel had no right to try him, he said.
He's a political prisoner. Israel lawlessly gave him multiple life sentences plus 40 years. He's Palestine's most popular political figure. 
Why Israel wants him imprisoned and forgotten. In a free, fair, open presidential election, he'd win in a landslide. Palestinians want him freed to participate.
Rudoren ludicrously calls him Palestine's Jonathan Pollard. He's a convicted spy. Barghouti is a framed Palestinian hero.
He challenges Israel responsibly. His political statements circulate. Rudoren ignores Palestinian suffering. She ducks controversial issues.
She ignores key Palestinian voices. She substitutes one-sided Israeli support for full and accurate reporting. 
She blames Palestinians for peace talks failure. She called legitimately applying to 15 UN bodies and treaties "contentious."
Her featured Netanyahu comments suggest she believes he negotiates in good faith. Truth is polar opposite.
The Elders is an independent group. Its members include global leaders. They support peace and human rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu formerly served as chairman.
In May 2013, he stepped down. He remains an Honorary Elder. Members have shared interests. They call human rights universal.
They support Palestinian self-determination. They endorse fair and equitable peace talks.
They issued a supportive Palestinian statement. They're "deeply worried by the impasse in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," they said.
They "welcome(d) Mahmoud Abbas' decision" to join 15 UN bodies and treaties.
Gro Harlem Brundtland is a former Norwegian prime minister. He's current deputy Elders chair. He issued a statement, saying:
"As a UN non-member observer state, Palestine is entitled to join international bodies. We welcome President Abbas’ decision to sign the Geneva Conventions and other important international human rights treaties."
"This move opens the way to more inclusive and accountable government in the West Bank and Gaza." 
"It has the potential to strengthen respect for human rights and provide ordinary Palestinians with essential legal protections against discrimination or abuses by their own government." 
"In global terms, it will also increase their ability to enjoy, in practice, the protection of their basic rights granted to them by international law."
Jimmy Carter is an Elders member. He supports Palestinians joining 15 UN bodies and treaties. 
"The decision by the Palestinians to exercise their right to join international organizations should not be seen as a blow to the peace talks," he said.
"I hope that, on the contrary, it will help to redress the power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians…"
"More than ever, both parties urgently need to make the necessary compromises to reach a lasting peace with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."
In 2012, Carter criticized Netanyahu. He rejects a two-state solution, said Carter. Conditions reached "crisis stage," he added. Decades-long conflict shows no signs of resolution.
Carter's book titled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" called Israel's version "worse…than what we witnessed in South Africa."
He hoped his book would stimulate debate. "There's never been (any) on this issue of any significance," he said. 
He holds Netanyahu and other Israeli hardliners responsible. They're "moving forward towards a 'greater Israel," he stressed. 
Doing so makes peace impossible. Achieving it is more distant now than then.
"Israel will never have peace until they agree to" end occupation and grant Palestinians self-determination, Carter said. 
They show no signs of doing so. They negotiate one-way. They're hardline. They're unbending. They're all take. They're no give. Militarized occupation is illegal. It's unforgiving. 
So is the worst of Israeli apartheid. It's institutionalized. It's illegitimate.
International law is clear and unequivocal. Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime, stating:
"For the purpose of this Statute, (a) 'crime against humanity' means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
The crime of apartheid" includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and other abusive acts imposed by one group on another.
Racist Zionist exclusivity is key to understanding Israeli policy. It's extremist, undemocratic and hateful. 
It denies non-Jews equal rights. It claims Jewish supremacy, specialness and uniqueness.
It eschews peace and reconciliation. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy.
It believes in strength through belligerence and intimidation. Doing so threatens Jews and non-Jews alike.
Apartheid extremism is longstanding Israeli policy. Palestinians suffer horrifically.
They're denied their cultural heritage. They're driven from their own land. Israeli settlers occupy it. More come daily. 
Doing so violates international law. Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states:
"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive." 
Neither shall "The Occupying Power...deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
Apartheid is the worst form of racism. Israeli militarized occupation is the worst form of apartheid. 
It incorporates state terrorism, belligerence, land theft, home demolitions, dispossessions, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, torture, destruction of property and agricultural lands, isolation and genocide.
Besieged Gazans suffer most of all. Slow-motion suffocation explains their condition. West Bank Palestinians face multiple daily community incursions. Arrests and detentions follow.
Sham peace talks continue. They do so despite daily Israeli violence. On April 8, Israeli soldiers invaded Tal and Osarin villages.
They kidnapped five Palestinian civilians, including one child. Two more were lawlessly abducted in Hebron. 
Army elements bulldozed two Bethlehem homes. Israeli naval vessels attacked Gazan fishermen. They used live ammunition.
They do it often. Deaths, injuries and heavy property damage follow. Bulldozers escorted by Israeli troops destroyed agricultural structures northwest of Hebron.
At the same time, they uprooted fields. PA security forces collaborate. Doing so shows which side Abbas supports.
He uses riot police and undercover security service forces against his own people. They attack anti-sham peace talks protesters.
They do so violently. Dozens are arrested. They're accused of protesting without permit permission. Abbas serves as Israel's enforcer. 
Conflict resolution is impossible with him in charge. Expect applying for membership in 15 UN bodies and treaties to be all show and no dough.
Membership is worthless without taking full advantage. Full UN membership is important. Abbas could have gotten it straightaway as president.
Most UN members support it. An overwhelming number. Enough to assure de facto and de jure membership. 
Petitioning the General Assembly through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 assures it.
It's veto proof. Washington can't override it. Membership gives Palestinians the same rights as all other member states.
Observer status lets them join the World Court and International Criminal Court. Doing so lets them challenge Israel as well as current and past government and military officials.
Perhaps holding them accountable is possible. Not if attempts aren't made to do so. Abbas never tried. 
Nor will he. He's close to retirement. He won't spoil a good thing now. He's on the wrong side of history. Betrayal is one of the worst crimes. Abbas stands guilty as charged.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Pick Up the Phone and Tell Congress To Fix Patents - Wed, 09/04/2014 - 09:23

Since the SHIELD Act was introduced two years ago, momentum has been building for patent reform in Congress. And when the House overwhelmingly passed the Innovation Act in December, it seemed real legislation might be close at hand. Since then, the Senate has been thrashing out its version of a patent bill. We need to keep up the pressure to make sure that any final deal includes meaningful reforms that will slow the flood of patent troll litigation. With the Senate about to break for recess, the next few days could be crucial.

Our friends at Engine have set up an excellent call tool that allows you to call your senator and demand reform. Visit and call now!

Prof. Jason Schultz testifies before the House.

In other legislative news, the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House held a hearing today regarding abusive patent demand letters. Mark Chandler of Cisco talked about the massive scam perpetrated by troll Innovatio IP Ventures, which sent thousands of misleading demand letters to cafes, hotels, and other end-users of Wi-Fi technology. And Professor Jason Schultz of NYU Law School (and EFF special counsel) explained that demand letters should include basic information such as the specific patent numbers and claims asserted, who owns those patents, and the products or services that allegedly infringe.

With patent trolls blanketing the nation with deceptive and misleading letters—many of which we've documented through our Trolling Effects project—Congress should make sure to include demand letter reform in its legislation. Again, please visit and demand meaningful patent reform.

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Why the Web Needs Perfect Forward Secrecy More Than Ever - Wed, 09/04/2014 - 08:36

EFF has long advocated for websites to support HTTPS instead of plain HTTP to encrypt and authenticate data transmitted on the Internet. However, we learned yesterday of a catastrophic bug, nicknamed "Heartbleed," that has critically threatened the security of some HTTPS sites since 2011. By some estimates, Heartbleed affects 2 out of 3 web servers on the Internet. 1

Heartbleed isn't a bug in the design of HTTPS itself but rather the result of a simple programming error in a widely-used piece of software called OpenSSL. It allows an attacker who connects to an HTTPS server running a vulnerable version of OpenSSL to access up to 64KB of private memory space. Doing the attack once can easily cause the server to leak cookies, emails, and passwords. Doing the attack repeatedly in a clever way can potentially leak entire encryption keys, such as the private SSL keys used to protect HTTPS traffic. If an attacker has access to a website's private SSL key, they can run a fake version of the website and/or steal any information that users send, including passwords, private messages, and credit card numbers. Neither users nor website owners can detect this attack as it happens.

It's worth emphasizing that some important services that users access everyday were affected by Heartbleed, including Yahoo Mail and LastPass. We weren't immune either, since most EFF servers were running vulnerable versions of OpenSSL. Even the private identity keys used by Tor Hidden Services may have been compromised, potentially putting some journalist organizations' communication with anonymous sources at risk.

Luckily, there's one important mitigation that could actually protect some users from the worst-case scenario: perfect forward secrecy. If a server was configured to support forward secrecy, then a compromise of its private key can't be used to decrypt past communications. In other words, if someone leaks or steals a copy of EFF's private SSL key today, any traffic sent to EFF's website in the past since EFF started supporting forward secrecy is still safe.

Unfortunately, most HTTPS websites still don't support forward secrecy, which means that a large chunk of your past communications with those servers is vulnerable to decryption when private SSL keys are compromised. For example, if someone has been intercepting your HTTPS-encrypted messages to Yahoo for the past several years and then stole a copy of Yahoo's private key yesterday with Heartbleed, they would be able to use it to go back and decrypt the previously-unintelligible recording of your old communications today — if those communications weren't made using a forward-secrecy-enabled connection.

At this moment, forward secrecy is more crucial than ever. Now that the details of Heartbleed are public, anyone can use it against servers that haven't yet patched the OpenSSL bug and changed SSL certificates.2 It can easily take weeks or months for developers to deploy new SSL certificates, and even so, certificate revocation systems are unreliable and poorly-suited to the modern web. In the meantime, any data you send now to affected servers that don't support forward secrecy will be open to eavesdropping and malicious tampering as soon as their SSL private keys are exposed.

In the aftermath of yesterday's events, it's clear that forward secrecy is necessary to protect against unforseeable threats to SSL private keys. Whether that threat is an existing or future software bug, an insider who steals the key, a secret government demand to enable surveillance, or a new cryptographic breakthrough, the beauty of forward secrecy is that the privacy of today's sessions doesn't depend on keeping information secret tomorrow.3

Although we've patched this bug on EFF's servers and are scrambling to rotate our keys as fast as possible, we're relieved that our potential damage from Heartbleed is lower because we enabled forward secrecy last summer. It's clearly time for other websites to do so as well.

PS: Fortunately, the integrity of HTTPS Everywhere downloads for Firefox and Chrome are not compromised by Heartbleed. That's because, in addition to serving downloads over SSL/TLS, we sign HTTPS Everywhere updates with an offline key to guarantee authenticity even if transport-level security is broken. You can use these instructions to check that your copy of HTTPS Everywhere has the correct update key. In light of Heartbleed, we're glad that the Chrome web store allows extension developers to include their own code signing keys in case Google's SSL certificates are compromised; until the Mozilla Addons Store does similarly, we plan to keep hosting HTTPS Everywhere for Firefox on our own servers.

  • 1. Given the severity of this bug we urge site operators using versions 1.0.1-1.0.1f of OpenSSL to immediately upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g or recompile OpenSSL with the -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS flag; furthermore, any affected server should get a new SSL certificate and rotate any keys that could have been leaked from memory after updating. Please also remember to restart your load balancers after updating.
  • 2. Qualys SSL Labs has an excellent online tool to check whether a website is currently vulnerable to Heartbleed attacks. The "Protocol Details" section of the results also shows support for forward secrecy.
  • 3. This is assuming that an attacker is not performing active man-in-the-middle attacks during every SSL handshake. However, this threat will likely be mitigated in the future by efforts such as Certificate Transparency.

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Data Retention Directive Invalid, says EU's Highest Court - Wed, 09/04/2014 - 04:00

Today the European Court of Justice declared the EU's Data Retention Directive invalid, declaring that the mass collection of Internet data in Europe entailed a "wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data." The Directive ordered European states to pass laws that obliged Internet intermediaries to log records on their users' activity, keep them for up to two years, and provide access to the police and security services. The ECJ joins the United Nations' Human Rights Committee which last month called upon the United States to refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties.

The decision is a victory for the human rights activists that have fought hard to have the original Europe-wide law—rushed through the European Parliament in 200—re-considered. Digital Rights Ireland, who first launched a lawsuit against the Irish Government against their implementation of the Directive, and AK Vorrat Austria, who organized to reject data retention in Austria, both pursued the issue for many years in the face of concerted opposition from their own governments and officials.

While the decision comprehensively rejects the current directive, some states may put up a fight to keep their laws, while others could take this opportunity to become champions of their citizens' privacy. The Finnish Minister of Communications, Krista Kiuru, has already declared a full review of Finnish law in the light of the decision, saying that "if [Finland] wants to be a model country in privacy issues, Finnish legislation has to respect fundamental rights and the rule of law." The German and Romanian data retention laws have already been declared unlawful by their national constitutional courts. Governments advocating retention, like the UK, may argue that they can still maintain their existing data retention laws, or there may even be an attempt to introduce a whole new data retention directive that would attempt to comply with the ECJ's decision.

However the data retention regime unwinds in Europe, this decision sends an important signal to other countries in the world who are considered the same path as the EU. Brazil's online activists have been fighting hard to keep data retention out of their flagship Internet Bill of Rights, the Marco Civil. The law, which is about to be considered by the Brazilian Senate, would require ISPs to record personal data for one year, and other service providers log keep private information on their users for six months. New laws requiring mandatory data retention by companies in the United States have also been championed by the Obama administration's Department of Justice, and have been proposed by the Whitehouse as a "solution" to the NSA spying scandal. As the ECJ's decision shows, the indiscriminate recording and storage of every aspect of innocent civilians' online lives is a travesty of human rights, no matter where that collected data is housed.

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Peace Process Hypocrisy - Tue, 08/04/2014 - 18:19
Peace Process Hypocrisy
by Stephen Lendman
Sunday so-called Israeli/Palestinian/US peace talks ended in failure. More on this below.
Fact: Washington is no honest broker!
Fact: It never was!
Fact: It's not one now!
Fact: Longstanding US policy one-sidedly favors Israel!
Fact: Both countries conspire against fundamental Palestinian rights!
Fact: They want them entirely denied!
Fact: Especially ones mattering most!
Fact: US involvement in sham peace talks guarantees failure!
Fact: State terrorism is official US policy!
Fact: It's official Israeli policy!
Fact: So is institutionalized racism!
Fact: Jews alone have rights!
Fact: Palestinians have none!
Fact: No peace process exists!
Fact: None ever did!
Fact: There's none now!
Fact: Pretending otherwise perpetuates the Big Lie!
Fact: Israel doesn't negotiate!
Fact: It demands!
Fact: It rejects international laws and norms!
Fact: Its own rules alone apply!
Fact: They're extrajudicial!
Fact: They're illegitimate!
Fact: Washington and Tel Aviv bully, threaten and intimidate Palestinians to unconditionally comply with Israeli demands!
Fact: They're given no choice!
Fact: Israel deplores peace!
Fact: So does Washington!
Fact: Both countries thrive on violence, instability and premeditated wars of aggression!
Fact: They seek unchallenged dominance!
Fact: They want all rival states eliminated!
Fact: They want subservient puppet regimes replacing them!
Fact: Israel claims a divine right to all valued parts of Judea and Samaria!
Fact: It's stealing it one dunum at a time.
Fact: It's doing it daily.
Fact: The more land stolen, the less available for a viable Palestinian state!
Fact: Israel wants Palestinians confined to isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland!
Fact: It wants control over Palestinian land, borders, air space, offshore waters and resources!
Fact: It wants Jerusalem as its exclusive capital!
Fact: It wants diaspora Palestinians prevented from returning!
Fact: It wants Palestinians cowed into submission!
Fact: It wants them ruthlessly exploited!
Fact: Ideally it wants them gone - ethnically cleansed!
Fact: America is no democracy!
Fact: Nor is Israel!
Fact: It never was one!
Fact: It's not now!
Fact: It's a white supremacist rogue terror state!
Fact: Apartheid is institutionalized!
Fact: It's worse than South Africa's at the height of its repression;
Fact: It's Netanyahu-led government is its worst ever!
Fact: Right-wing extremists dominate it!
Fact: They exceed Sharonian evil!
Fact: They head a modern-day Sparta!
Fact: They threaten world peace!
Continuing sham peace talks perpetuates the Big Lie. Current ones began last July. ZERO results were achieved. 
Nor will any ahead short of unconditional Palestinian surrender. Don't bet against it not happening. It did multiple times before. Odds favor more of the same.
Longtime Israeli collaborators represent Palestinians. They lack legitimacy. What they plan this time remains to be seen. 
They're well rewarded for betrayal. Why give up a good thing. Palestinians may have the last word. 
They're fed up living under Israel's boot. They're tired of ruthless repression. They want long denied liberation. 
They want their fundamental rights respected. Two Intifadas failed. Don't bet against another erupting. Perhaps greater than before. 
Maybe sustained longterm. Perhaps with more ordinary people worldwide supporting it. Maybe with greater success.
Winning longterm struggles require sustained commitment. IF Stone (1907 - 1989) was right saying:
"The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins."
Last Thursday, talks ended in rancor. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators swapped bitter recriminations.
On Sunday, they met again. So-called last ditch talks again failed. No breakthrough happened.
None was expected. According to an anonymous Palestinian official:
"The crisis continues. During the whole meeting, the Israelis threatened the Palestinians and no solution to the crisis was found."
An unnamed Israeli official added:
"The way it's looking now, the talks as they were several weeks ago are no longer relevant."
"Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago."
"We are noticing a real coolness in the way the Americans are treating (the peace process), and it's obvious that today's Kerry is not the same Kerry from a few weeks ago." 
A second unnamed Israel official urged giving things "a few more days. A lot of efforts are being done to salvage the situation," the source said.
Omitted was explaining heavy US/Israeli pressure, threats and intimidation.
A typical disingenuous US statement followed Sunday's meeting. According to an unnamed spokesperson:
"The meeting was serious and constructive and both sides requested that the United States convene another meeting (Monday) to continue the effort."
Netanyahu threatened retaliation. He demands unconditional Palestinian surrender.
He demands Abbas rescind his legitimate applications to join 15 UN bodies and treaties.
He ludicrously says joining them "make(s) a peace agreement more distant."
"Any unilateral moves they take will be answered by unilateral moves at our end," he stressed.
Israel prioritizes unilateralism. Its rules alone apply. Palestinians have no choice. Comply or else.
Doing so destroys peace prospects. They've been dead on arrival for decades. Odds for success this time are more distant than ever.
It bears repeating. Chances for a just and equitable peace are ZERO! Pretending otherwise is fantasy. It ducks reality.
John Kerry is no honest broker. He one-sidedly favors Israel. He echoed Netanyahu's demand. He wants Abbas to rescind his world body/treaty applications.
Abbas refused. Kerry and Netanyahu outrageously call failure to do so a breach of PLO commitments. Israel and Washington alone breach terms.
They "negotiate" in bad faith. They make one-way demands. They say comply or else.
Palestinian general secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo blames Israel for peace talk failure. It "wants to extend the negotiations forever," he said.
It does so to create "more facts on the ground. Israel always implements unilateral steps." Palestinians suffer horrifically.
Sunday talks lasted about four hours. They ended past midnight. Nothing was resolved. On Monday, Knesset hardliners met.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu coalition partners to abandon him. He cited foundering peace talks. He proposed a center-left coalition with his Labor Party.
"There is an alternative coalition in the Knesset today, which can bring peace," he said. 
"I call on Livni and Lapid - join me in an alternative political act. This government failed big time in social areas and now in diplomacy. Netanyahu is unable to do anything."
Right-wing extremist Economy Minister Naftali Bennett deplores peace. On Sunday, he lied saying:
"We gave nine months to the negotiations in an unprecedented way. I, as leader of the Right, didn't lead any demonstrations against (talks)." 
"We let Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat go into a room, and what came out of it were threats and extortion by the Palestinians, terrorist releases and no peace."
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel blamed chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni. "You failed," he said.
"After (Palestinians) spat on you and on the State of Israel and unilaterally violated (so-called terms of the talks), you go back to negotiate."
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said she has no "expectations from Netanyahu." Livni and Lapid "are (his) collaborators."
"They are nothing but the government's fig leaf. They are ignoring the will of the voters and the promises they made not that long ago."
They're "holding on to their seats so they won't have to justify to voters the upkeep of settlements and and the occupation."
"They joined the voices of right-wing settlers in the Netanyahu government and are blaming the end of talks on Palestinians, as if the government did anything in the past year to achieve progress in negotiations."
Talks are deadlocked. Progress is nil. Expect none going forward. An agreed on April 29 deadline approaches.
Israel wants it extended. So does Washington. It remains to see if Palestinians agree to do so. 
Why when conflict resolution is more distant than ever. When Washington and Israel abhor peace.
When Palestinians are isolated and on their own like always. When liberation looms no closer. 
When continuing talks offers no better prospects than already. When doing so perpetuates the charade.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Eastern Ukrainian Resistance - Tue, 08/04/2014 - 18:19
Eastern Ukrainian Resistance
by Stephen Lendman
Thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. Perhaps millions. They want local sovereignty. They want autonomy rights.
They want them respected. They reject fascist rule. They demand their own referendum. They want Ukraine federalized.
Protests continue in Kharkov (Ukraine's second largest city), Donetsk (its largest industrial city), Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Nikolayev and elsewhere.
They're growing. They're spreading. They have legs. Maybe parts of Western Ukraine will join them.
Ukrainians are long-suffering. They rejected Orange Revolution rule years earlier. Perhaps Orange Revolution 2.0 won't fare better. It remains to be seen what happens going forward.
Will Eastern Ukrainian resistance spread? Will it do so nationwide? Will Ukrainians overwhelmingly reject fascist/predatory IMF rule? Will they demand equitable change? 
Will they protests en masse like before? Will they sustain it long enough to matter? Will they refuse what demands rejection?
Eastern Ukrainians reacted first. On April 7, RT International headlined "Pro-Russian protesters seize govt buildings in Ukraine's Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov."
Included was Donetsk's Security Service building. "The people's militia seized Ukraine’s Security Service in 15 minutes, at 3:32 in the morning," its members said.
It's blocked to protect against local security forces. On Sunday, thousands rallied in Eastern Ukrainian cities.
They flooded streets. They waved Russian flags. They chanted "Russia! Russia!" 
They demanded local sovereignty. They called Kiev putschists an "illegal junta."
They demand Kiev appointed governor/oligarch Sergey Taruta "get out." They burned a Nazi zealot's effigy publicly.
They called doing so "an act of annihilation of fascism." Clashes with police broke out. Protesters seized their riot shields.
They entered the Security Service building. They replaced the Ukrainian flag with the Russian one.
According to activist Aleksandr Borodin:
"The situation is pretty tense. The demonstrators are occupying the city council building and are demanding that an independence referendum is held to determine the future of the region of Donetsk."
"The protesters are calling on officials to conduct a special session over the referendum situation." 
"If it doesn't take place, the demonstrators say they will organize an initiative group to settle the issue." 
They won't "acknowledge the Kiev-appointed authorities and are also demanding freedom for the recently elected so-called 'public governor.' "
On April 7, Itar Tass headlined "Legislature of just proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic asks Putin move in peacekeepers."
They formed a Republican Council of the Donetsk's People's Republic. They adopted legislation saying:
"The territory of the republic within the recognized borders is indivisible and inviolable."
They ruled on holding a referendum. They'll do so no later than May 11. They'll decide whether or not to join Russia.
"On March 1," said Itar Tass, "Russia's Federation Council gave its consent to the president for using the armed forces on the territory of Ukraine." 
"The relevant decision was unanimously adopted by the upper house of Russian parliament at an extraordinary session." 
"Earlier, Vladimir Putin submitted to the Federation Council an address on using the armed forces of Russia on the territory of Ukraine until the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country." 
"This initiative was proposed with regard to a plea by Ukraine's legitimate president Viktor Yanukovych."
At issue is protecting the security of Russian-speaking nationals. It's securing their rights.
Lugansk events are unfolding like Donetsk's, said RT. Around 1,000 people rallied outside the local Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building.
They demand protest leader Aleksandr Kharitonov's release. He's been lawlessly detained since mid-March.
So were 15 pro-Russian activists on Saturday. People carried Russian flags. They chanted "Shame on the SBU." "Freedom to political prisoners."
Clashes erupted. Injuries were reported. Kiev appointed governor released six anti-putschist activists.
Violence erupted in Kharkov. Pro-Russian protesters clashed with Right Sector extremists. Police separated both sides. No injuries were reported.
Around 1,500 pro-Russian supporters occupied the putschist UNIAN news agency building.
According to RT:
"Pro-Russian rallies are taking place almost every weekend in major cities in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine since the nationalist coup ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, in late February."
Things remain fluid. The struggle for Ukraine's soul continues. RT highlighted Donetsk activists declaring a local republic.
They want one independent from Kiev. They reject putschist rule. They want legal governance replacing it. They proclaimed their Regional Council the sole legitimate governing body.
They did so pending a planned referendum. It'll be held by May 11 or sooner. Ukrainian activism is spreading. So far in Eastern cities. Perhaps nationwide soon.
At the same time, Russia bashing continues relentlessly. So do US-led Western efforts to marginalize, isolate, weaken and contain Moscow. 
Political and military cooperation was suspended. Other options include positioning US-led NATO forces closer to Russia's border. 
Provocative military exercises are planned. Challenging Moscow is madness. It's happening in real time. It's escalating dangerously. Doing so risks potential major conflict madness.
A previous article discussed Zero Hedge headlining "Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares to Announce 'Holy Grail' Gas Deal With China," saying:
If Washington and EU partners intended greater Sino/Russian unity, "one (nation) a natural resource…superpower and the other a fixed capital/labor output…powerhouse, in the process marginalizing the dollar and encouraging Ruble and Renminbi bilateral trade, then things are surely 'going according to plan.' "
Moscow/Beijing unity against Western imperialism is their best defense. Conditions head both nations more closely together against it.
Russia is preparing a "Holy Grail" energy deal with China. Doing so will send "geopolitical shockwaves around the world," said Zero Hedge.
It'll lay "groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency…" It'll bypass dollar transactions. It'll weaken petrodollar strength.
Moscow's "Holy Grail" is a major natural gas deal with Beijing. Negotiations are close to complete. It involves supplying 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.
It'll do so via pipeline. It's the first one between both nations.
Putin plans visiting China in May. He's expected to close the deal. The more Western nations pressure Russia, the closer it's drawn to China.
Bilateral ruble/renminbi trade weakens dollar strength. Perhaps other countries may follow in their own currencies. 
India and Iran are prime candidates. Perhaps Brazil and others will follow suit.
Washington reacted as expected. According to Zero Hedge, it threatened Russia. It did so over a "petrodollar-busting deal."
It warned against "possible oil barter(ing)" transactions. It warned Iran against them. US-led Western sanctions are counterproductive.
Perhaps Washington shot itself in the foot. Russia has plenty of retaliatory ammunition. What better way than by weakening petrodollar strength.
It's a pillar of America's geopolitical/military might. It furthers US supremacy. It does so at the expense of other nations.
It finances America's global military machine. It advances US imperialism. It furthers financial speculation. 
It facilitates corporate takeovers. It does so at the expense of beneficial social change, human and civil rights. It prevents potential democratic change outbreaks.
Global central banks recycle dollar inflows. They do so into US Treasuries. They finance America's deficit. It matters with QE diminishing. Perhaps ending.
Moscow/Beijing bilateral trade in their own currencies "is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of (US) weakness," said Zero Hedge.
"Russia seems perfectly happy to telegraph that it is just as willing to use barter (and perhaps gold) and shortly other 'regional' currencies, as it is to use the US Dollar," it added.
It's "hardly the intended outcome of the western blockade, which appears to have just backfired and further impacted the untouchable status of the Petrodollar."
"If Washington can't stop this deal," perhaps others will follow. Perhaps a groundswell among leading nations.
Petrodollar trading gives America major unfair advantages. According to Voice of Russia, "Moscow is ready to take (them) away."
So is China. Imagine a combination petroruble/petrorenminbi weakening petrodollar strength. Imagine other petrocurrencies doing it further.
Imagine petrodollar might becoming a shadow of its former self. Imagine destructive US policies waning. Imagine a world safer to live in.
Imagine a fairer one. Imagine what won't happen easily or soon. Imagine what one day perhaps is possible. Top Russian officials support petrodollar weakening.
Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukaev urged Russian energy companies to ditch the dollar. "They must be braver in signing contracts in rubles and (partner country) currencies," he said.
Last month, VTB CEO Andrei Kostin said gas giant Gazprom, state-own oil company Rosneft, and exclusive defense-related weapons/ technologies/dual-use products/and services company  Rosoboronexport "can start trading in rubles."
They don't mind switching, they said. They need a "mechanism" to do so. Russian upper house Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said no efforts will be spared to create one.
Putin intends challenging Washington responsibly. Chinese leader Xi Jinping appears willing to join him. Together they're a formidable combination.
Perhaps Moscow/Beijing commodity exchanges will exclude dollar transactions. Maybe they'll replace them with ruble/renminbi ones.
Rosneft signed large oil contracts with China. It's close to major ones with Indian companies. They exclude dollar transactions.
Russia heads toward trading goods for oil with Iran. If Rosneft deals in rubles, petrodollar strength will suffer.
According to Zero Hedge, "US sanctions have opened a Pandora's box of troubles for the American currency." Russian retaliation promises unpleasant consequences.
What if other countries follow Russian and Chinese examples? What if avoiding dollar transactions catches on?
What if long prevented US comeuppance happens? What if America met its match? What if it's responsibly weakened? The sound you hear is overwhelming popular approval.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Why Fusion Centers Matter: FAQ - Tue, 08/04/2014 - 04:14

While NSA surveillance has been front and center in the news recently, fusion centers are a part of the surveillance state that deserve close scrutiny.

Fusion centers are a local arm of the so-called "intelligence community," the 17 intelligence agencies coordinated by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The government documentation around fusion centers is entirely focused on breaking down barriers between the various government agencies that collect and maintain criminal intelligence information.

Barriers between local law enforcement and the NSA are already weak. We know that the Drug Enforcement Agency gets intelligence tips from the NSA which are used in criminal investigations and prosecutions. To make matters worse, the source of these tips is camouflaged using “parallel construction,” meaning that a different source for the intelligence is created to mask its classified source.

This story demonstrates what we called “one of the biggest dangers of the surveillance state: the unquenchable thirst for access to the NSA's trove of information by other law enforcement agencies.” This is particularly concerning when NSA information is used domestically. Fusion centers are no different.

In fact, in early 2012, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the sharing of raw NSA data with the NCTC. The intelligence community overseen by the NCTC includes the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, the main federal fusion center partners. Thus, fusion centers—and even local law enforcement—could potentially be receiving unminimized NSA data. This runs counter to the distant image many people have of the NSA, and it's why focusing on fusion centers as part of the recently invigorated conversation around surveillance is important.

What are fusion centers?

Fusion centers are information centers that enable intelligence sharing between local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal agencies. They are actual physical locations that house equipment and staff who analyze and share intelligence.

How many are there?

There are 78 recognized fusion centers listed on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.

Who works at fusion centers?

Fusion centers are staffed by local law enforcement and other local government employees as well as Department of Homeland Security personnel. DHS "has deployed over 90 personnel, including Intelligence Officers and Regional Directors, to the field." Staffing agreements vary from place to place. Fusion centers are often also colocated with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

What do fusion centers do?

Fusion centers enable unprecedented levels of bi-directional information sharing between state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies and the federal intelligence community. Bi-directional means that fusion centers allow local law enforcement to share information with the larger federal intelligence community, while enabling the intelligence community to share information with local law enforcement. Fusion centers allow local cops to get—and act upon—information from agencies like the FBI.

Fusion centers are also key to the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI), discussed below.

What is suspicious activity reporting?

The government defines suspicious activity reporting (SAR) as “official documentation of observed behavior reasonably indicative of pre-operational planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity.” SARs can be initiated by law enforcement, by private sector partners, or by “see something, say something” tips from citizens. They are then investigated by law enforcement.

What is the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative?

NSI is an initiative to standardize suspicious activity reporting. The NSI was conceived in 2008, and started with an evaluation project that culminated in a January 2010 report describing how NSI would encompass all fusion centers. It appears significant progress has been made towards this goal.

The evaluation project included so-called Building Communities of Trust (BCOT) meetings which focused "on developing trust among law enforcement, fusion centers, and the communities they serve to address the challenges of crime and terrorism prevention."

BCOT "community" events involved representatives from local fusion centers, DHS, and FBI traveling to different areas and speaking to selected community representatives and civil rights advocates about NSI. These were invite only events with the clear purpose of attempting to engender community participation and garner support from potential opponents such as the ACLU.

So what's wrong with Suspicious Activity Reporting and the NSI?

SARs do no meet legally cognizable standards for search or seizure under the Fourth amendment. Normally, the government must satisfy reasonable suspicion or probable cause standards when searching a person or place or detaining someone. While SARs themselves are not a search or seizure, they are used by law enforcement to initiate investigations, or even more intrusive actions such as detentions, on the basis of evidence that does not necessarily rise to the level of probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In other words, while the standard for SAR sounds like it was written to comport with the constitutional standards for investigation already in place, it does not.

In fact, the specific set of behaviors listed in the National SAR standards include innocuous activities such as:

taking pictures or video of facilities, buildings, or infrastructure in a manner that would arouse suspicion in a reasonable person,” and “demonstrating unusual interest in facilities, buildings, or infrastructure beyond mere casual or professional (e.g. engineers) interest such that a reasonable person would consider the activity suspicious. Examples include observation through binoculars, taking notes, attempting to measure distances, etc.

These standards are clearly ripe for abuse of discretion.

Do fusion centers increase racial and religious profiling?

The weak standards around SAR are particularly concerning because of the way they can lead to racial and religious profiling. SARs can originate from untrained civilians as well as law enforcement, and as one woman pointed out at a BCOT event people who might already be a little racist who are 'observing' a white man photographing a bridge are going to view it a little differently than people observing me, a woman with a hijab, photographing a bridge. The bottom line is that bias is not eliminated by so-called observed behavior standards.

Furthermore, once an investigation into a SAR has been initiated, existing law enforcement bias can come into play; SARs give law enforcement a reason to initiate contact that might not otherwise exist.

Unsurprisingly, like most tools of law enforcement, public records act requests have shown that people of color often end up being the target of SARs:

One review of SARs collected through Public Records Act requests in Los Angeles showed that 78% of SARs were filed on non-whites. An audit by the Los Angeles Police Department's Inspector General puts that number at 74%, still a shockingly high number.

A review of SARs obtained by the ACLU of Northern California also show that most of the reports demonstrate bias and are based on conjecture rather than articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Some of the particularly concerning SARs include titles like "Suspicious ME [Middle Eastern] Males Buy Several Large Pallets of Water" and "Suspicious photography of Folsom Dam by Chinese Nationals." The latter SAR resulted in police contact: "Sac[ramento] County Sheriff’s Deputy contacted 3 adult Asian males who were taking photos of Folsom Dam. They were evasive when the deputy asked them for identification and said their passports were in their vehicle." Both of these SARs were entered into FBI's eGuardian database.

Not only that, there have been disturbing examples of racially biased informational bulletins coming from fusion centers. A 2009 "North Central Texas Fusion Center Prevention Awareness Bulletin" implies that tolerance towards Muslims is dangerous and that Islamic militants are using methods such as "hip-hop boutiques" and "online social networks" to indoctrinate youths in America.

Do fusion centers facilitate political repression?

Fusion centers have been used to record and share information about First Amendment protected activities in a way that aids repressive police activity and chills freedom of association.

A series of public records act requests in Massachusetts showed: "Officers monitor demonstrations, track the beliefs and internal dynamics of activist groups, and document this information with misleading criminal labels in searchable and possibly widely-shared electronic reports." The documents included intelligence reports addressing issues such internal group discussions and protest planning, and showed evidence of police contact.

For example, one report indicated that "Activists arrested for trespassing at a consulate were interviewed by three surveillance officers 'in the hopes that these activists may reach out to the officers in the future.' They were asked about their organizing efforts and for the names of other organizers."

Who oversees the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative?

The NSI is led by the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) in collaboration with the DHS and the FBI. The ISE is "the people, projects, systems, and agencies that enable responsible information sharing for national security." The PM-ISE, currently Kshemendra Paul, oversees the development and implementation of the ISE. The position was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

If this all sounds confusing, that's because it is: the entire intelligence community is a plethora of duplicative agencies with overlapping areas of responsibility.

What kind of information do fusion centers have?

Staff at fusion centers have access to a variety of databases. Not all staff have the same level of clearances, and the entire extent of what is available to fusion centers is unclear. But we do know certain facts for sure:

Fusion centers have access to the FBI's eGuardian database, an unclassified companion to the FBI's Guardian Threat Tracking System. “The Guardian and eGuardian systems . . . have a bi-directional communication ability that facilitates sharing, reporting, collaboration, and deconfliction among all law enforcement agencies.”

Fusion centers also have access to DHS' Homeland Security Data Network and it's companion Homeland Security Information Network. These systems provide access to terrorism-related information residing in DoD's classified network. It is worth noting that HSIN was hacked in 2009 and was considered so problematic that it was briefly decommissioned entirely.

Fusion centers have access to other information portals including the FBI's Law Enforcement Online portal, Lexis Nexis, the Federal Protective Service portal, and Regional Information Sharing Systems .

Finally, as discussed above, we know that unminimized NSA data can be shared with the National Counterterrorism Center, which means that fusion centers could be in receipt of such data.

What federal laws apply to fusion centers?

Because they are collaborative, legal authority over fusion centers is blurred, perhaps purposefully. However, there are some federal laws that apply. The Constitution applies, and fusion centers arguably interfere with the First and Fourth Amendments.

28 Code of Federal Regulations Part 23 governs certain federal criminal intelligence systems. The "Fusion Center Guidelines . . . call for the adoption of 28 CFR Part 23 as the minimum governing principles for criminal intelligence systems." 28 CFR 23.20 requires reasonable suspicion to collect and maintain criminal intelligence and prohibits collection and maintenance of information about First Amendment protected activity "unless such information directly relates to criminal conduct or activity and there is reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct or activity." Finally, it prohibits inclusion of any information collected in violation of local law.

Section 552(a)(e)(7) of the Privacy Act prohibits federal agencies, in this case DHS personnel who work at fusion centers, from maintaining any “record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity.” A 2012 U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on fusion centers stated: "The apparent indefinite retention of cancelled intelligence reports that were determined to have raised privacy or civil liberties concerns appears contrary to DHS’s own policies and the Privacy Act."

What state or local laws apply to fusion centers?

Fusion centers are sometimes bound by local and state laws. The law enforcement agencies that feed information into centers may also be restricted in terms of what information they can gather.

The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, located in San Francisco, CA, serves as a good example of how state and local regulations can apply to a fusion center. NCRIC works with law enforcement partners around the region and stores criminal intelligence information. The California constitution has a right to privacy and California has other laws that address privacy and criminal intelligence. These should cover NCRIC.

The San Francisco Police Department's relationship with NCRIC also serves as a good example of the applicability of local laws. SFPD participates in suspicious activity reporting, but is also bound by a number of restrictions, including Department General Order 8.10, which heavily restricts intelligence gathering by the SFPD, as well as the sanctuary city ordinance, which prohibits working with immigration enforcement. While the fusion center would not be bound by these regulations on its own, the SFPD is.

Who funds fusion centers?

Fusion centers are funded by federal and state tax dollars. Estimates of exactly how much funding fusion centers get from these sources are difficult to obtain. However, there are some numbers available.

For 2014, the Homeland Security Grant Program, which is the federal grant program that funds fusion centers, has $401,346,000 available in grant funds. The grant announcement emphasizes that funding fusion centers and integrating them nationally is a high priority. This is an approximately $50 million increase over last year's allocation—somewhat shocking in light of the critiques around fusion center funding that have been raised by Congress.

A 2008 Congressional Research Service report states that the average fusion center derives 31% of its budget from the federal government. Those numbers may have changed now.

Has there been any discussion about fusion centers at the federal level?

Yes, but not enough. In October of 2012, fusion centers were the subject of an extremely critical report from the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The bipartisan report focused on the waste, ineptitude, and civil liberties violations at fusion centers. The report revealed that fusion centers spent tax dollars on “gadgets such as 'shirt button cameras, $6,000 laptops and big-screen televisions. One fusion center spent $45,000 on a decked-out SUV..." Regarding the information produced by fusion centers, the report noted that fusion centers produced "'intelligence' of uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism."

This report recommended a hard look at fusion center funding, but that clearly has not happened. They are still operating across the country with federal funding. In fact, their funding has even been increased.

What about at the local level?

There are grassroots privacy advocates in multiple cities fighting to get more information about fusion centers and how their local law enforcement participates in them. These efforts have been frustrated by stonewalling of public records act requests and uneducated, or at times dishonest, public officials.

Have any regulations been passed or proposed?

To date, only one place has passed regulations around fusion centers. Berkeley, CA, passed a policy in September 2012 that the Berkeley Police Department can only submit suspicious activity reports after establishing reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior, and put in place an audit of SARs.

Massachusetts is also considering changes to fusion centers. SB 642 would strictly limit collection and dissemination of criminal intelligence information and would require a yearly audit of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Fusion Center.

What can I do?

Fusion centers are an area ripe for grassroots organizing. Groups like the StopLAPD Spying Coalition, which put together a "People's Audit" of SARs in LA, provide excellent examples of how this can happen. Public records act requests can be leveraged to get information about what your local law enforcement is doing. Grassroots organizing and education can get people and elected officials talking about this issue.

On April 10, activists across the country will be participating in "Stop the Spy Centers: a national day of action against fusion centers." These activists have three demands: 1. Shut down fusion centers, 2. De-fund fusion centers, and 3. Release all suspicious activity reports and secret files.

While April 10 is one day of action, the conversation around fusion centers must continue hand in hand with our national discourse around NSA, CIA, and FBI surveillance.

Where can I get more information about fusion centers?
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EFF to Receive 10% of HOPE X Ticket Proceeds - Tue, 08/04/2014 - 02:48

Throughout April, the Electronic Frontier Foundation will receive 10% of ticket proceeds for HOPE X, the tenth biennial Hackers On Planet Earth conference founded by 2600 Magazine. For two decades, HOPE has cultivated a unique experience showcasing expert security research, software hacking, hardware hacking, civil liberties, art, and community. As staunch defenders of digital freedom and innovation, EFF is a proud participant.

Be sure to catch talks from EFF technologists, attorneys, and activists on a wide range of topics: from web encryption, to the Open Wireless Movement, to our campaign against the U.S. government's mass spying programs, and more. HOPE has also announced this year's keynote speaker, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who altered the course of history by releasing the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Keep an eye on 2600 News for the latest on these three days and nights of programming with compelling speakers from around the world.

HOPE X takes place at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City from July 18-20, 2014. We hope to see you there to discuss digital rights over America's largest supply of Club-Mate. Help support EFF's work when you get your tickets today!

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Madness in Ukraine - Mon, 07/04/2014 - 17:06
Madness in Ukraine
by Stephen Lendman
This year's March madness wasn't in America. Nor what continues in April. Or what preceded it. Or perhaps what's likely to follow. It's in Ukraine.
It's ground zero. It represents the greatest geopolitical crisis since WW II. It threatens a third global conflict. It that's not madness, what is?
Obama bears full responsibility. His rap sheet is blood-drenched. He's waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He's got lots more mass slaughter and destruction in mind.
He wants unchallenged US global dominance. He wants Russia marginalized, isolated, weakened, contained and co-opted. His objectives risk global war.
Ukraine is a major geopolitical flashpoint. It's hugely dangerous. Challenging Russia recklessly may ignite what no responsible leader would risk.
Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He's ideologically extreme. He's over-the-top and then some. He's a con man like no other. He risks potential armageddon. 
Aijaz Ahmad is a political commentator. He's a New Delhi-based Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Professorial Fellow. 
He's a York University, Toronto visiting Political Science Professor. He's the Indian newsmagazine Frontline senior news analyst.
It's a Hindu Group fortnightly English language publication. It covers domestic and world news. It features analysis.
In its April 18 edition, Ahmad headlined "The 'Great Game' in Europe," saying:
"In its eagerness to complete the encirclement of Russia by turning Ukraine into a forward country for positioning NATO bases, the US is paving the way for fraternal genocide and ethnic cleansing." 
"A closer strategic alliance between Russia and China may well be the one positive outcome of the Ukrainian fiasco."
On April 4, RIA Novosti discussed Ahmad's analysis. It headlined "US Instigating 'Yugoslav Scenario' of Fraternal Genocide in Ukraine."
From March 1991 through mid-June 1999, Balkan wars raged. Yugoslavia "balkanized" into seven countries. 
They include Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.
From March 24 through June 10, 1999, US-led NATO war raped and destroyed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
Known or suspected military sites were targeted. So were many civilian areas and infrastructure unrelated to military operations.
Cities, villages and other locations were struck. Mass slaughter, displacement, destruction and human misery followed. 
America claimed another imperial trophy. The former Yugoslavia no longer exists. Imagine this happening to Ukraine. 
Imagine it igniting global conflict. Imagine the madness of risking it. Ahmad addressed the issue.
Washington ousted Ukraine's democratically elected government. It elevated fascist putschists to power. 
It opposes legitimate Crimean reunification with Russia. It challenges Moscow irresponsibly. It does so recklessly. 
What's ongoing represents a "turning point and a watershed event" in US/Russian relations, said Ahmad.
It followed Obama's Asia pivot. It's about hardening America's Pacific presence. It involves advancing Washington's military footprint.
Doing it aggressively is planned. China's growing economic might and military strength are targeted. So is checking Russia at the same time.
Obama wants both countries contained. They're formidable adversaries. Permanent war is longstanding US policy. 
Bush said "You're either with us or against us." Independence isn't tolerated. 
Washington began rebalancing East Asia years ago. Strategy involves strengthening military, economic, and political ties with Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.
It involves undermining Chinese and Russian influence. It's about isolating them from neighbors. It's asserting Washington's dominance over territories and waters not its own. 
WW I and II echoes remain audible. Never again grows more likely. Flashpoint conditions risk the unthinkable. Small disputes ignite major ones.
It's back to the future. Cold War politics never ended. It morphed into new form. Containing Russia and China involve civilizations clashing. Perhaps belligerently.
Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. He's biting off more than he can chew. He defends the indefensible. He risks the unthinkable.
Ahmad is justifiably concerned. Obama initiated a European pivot, he said. Encircling Russia with US/NATO bases is reckless.
Ukraine may become another Yugoslavia. Doing so risks WW III.
"IMF-imposed austerity on a ruined economy and NATO-propelled militarization for eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Russian power is just the kind of combustible combination that may well lead to a civil war, a regional war, and heaven knows what else - in a country where 70 per cent in a recent Gallup poll voted against joining NATO," said Ahmad.
China and India support Moscow's Ukraine agenda. It's legal. It's responsible. It's polar opposite Washington's intentions.
Putin prioritizes peace and stability. Obama risks East/West confrontation. Recklessness defines his agenda. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
Earlier Great Game confrontations were minor compared to what's ongoing today. At stake is humanity's survival.
US-led NATO is a killing machine. It's a weapon of mass destruction. Millions of corpses bear witness to its ruthlessness.
Washington and rogue NATO allies threaten world peace. They suspended political and military cooperation with Russia. A joint statement said:
"We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia." 
"Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis."
NATO partners plan "additional measures to reinforce (the alliance's) collective defenses." Detailed proposals will follow.
A Kremlin statement said earlier efforts to integrate Ukraine into NATO led to a "widening of the split in Ukrainian society, the majority of which anything but supports the idea of Ukraine entering the NATO military block."
It doesn't matter. It's happening in real time. NATO members plan enhanced military cooperation with Ukraine. Doing so includes involving Kiev in NATO military exercises.
It's integrating it into other NATO activities. They involve encroaching closer to Russia's border. 
According to NATO ministers, they're considering "options ranging from stepped-up military exercises and sending more forces to eastern members states, to the permanent basing of alliance forces there…"
Doing so is hugely provocative. Claiming a Russian threat doesn't wash. None whatever exists. 
Moscow prioritizes peaceful co-existence. America is obsessed with empire building.
A circulating social media graphic shows Western and Eastern Europe infested with NATO bases encroaching on Russia's borders. 
How dare Moscow locate its territory close to NATO military installations, it suggests.
Putin is geopolitically polar opposite Obama. He prioritizes peace and stability. He's gone all-out to prevent East/West conflict.
It's the world's greatest threat. Preventing it matters most. Best efforts may fail. Hegemons want things their way.
Washington exceeds the worst of earlier ones. Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. 
It's a combustible combination. It risks global war. Ukraine may be flashpoint enough to ignite it. 
Efforts to defuse things aren't happening. Polar opposite policies are ongoing. They're escalating.
A nonexistent Russian threat is being hyped provocatively. America's sordid history is long and disturbing. 
Enemies are invented. They're pretexts for war. America won't quit waging them. It plans more. Advancing its imperium alone matters. 
Challenging Russia is madness. It's happening in real time. It bears repeating. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
A Final Comment
On Saturday, Afghans voted. A previous article called Afghanistan elections more farcical than fair. 
Bribes, intimidation, violence, ballot-box stuffing, and other massive fraud characterized previous elections. Pro-Western candidates are featured. Independent ones are shunned.
Eight candidates vied to become Afghanistan's next president. US-anointed stooge Harmid Karzai vowed no third term. 
He's constitutionally ineligible to seek one. Hundreds of candidates competed in provincial elections.
Weeks or perhaps months will pass before knowing who won most contests. If no presidential aspirant wins a majority, runoff voting will follow. 
It's scheduled for May 28. The two top polling candidates will compete. A previous article said it hardly matters. 
Afghans already lost. Choices excluded hope and change. Democracy is nowhere in sight. It's strictly verboten.
Militarized occupation prevents it. Barrel of a gun rule excludes it. So does out-of-control daily violence. Not according to Obama. 
On April 5, a duplicitous White House statement "congratulated the millions of Afghans who enthusiastically participated in today's historic elections, which promise to usher in the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history and which represent another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country as the United States and our partners draw down our forces."
"We commend the Afghan people, security forces, and elections officials on the turnout for today's vote - which is in keeping with the spirited and positive debate among candidates and their supporters in the run-up to the election."
"These elections are critical to securing Afghanistan's democratic future, as well as continued international support, and we look to the Afghan electoral bodies to carry out their duties in the coming weeks to adjudicate the results - knowing that the most critical voices on the outcome are those of Afghans themselves."
"Today, we also pay tribute to the many Americans - military and civilian - who have sacrificed so much to support the Afghan people as they take responsibility for their own future."
"The United States continues to support a sovereign, stable, unified, and democratic Afghanistan, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the new government chosen by the Afghan people on the basis of mutual respect and mutual accountability."
Fact check
Afghans have no democracy. Not now. Not planned. Not any time short or intermediate term. Washington tolerates none at home or abroad. 
It abhors sovereign independence. It demands subservient vassal states. It wants pro-Western puppets leading them. Regime change targets outliers. Aggressive wars are waged to replace them.
America's "partnership" with Afghanistan reflects a master/colonial subjugated servant relationship. Washington rules apply. Afghans have no say. 
Plundering Afghanistan for profit is prioritized. So is exploiting its people. 
It's flooding the world with massive amounts of heroin from locally grown opium. It's targeting Russia and China from nearby US/NATO bases.
Human lives don't matter. Equity, justice, and other democratic values are verboten. Hegemons operate this way. 
America is by far the worst in world history. It may end up destroying planet earth to own it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Israeli Supremes Endorse War Crimes - Mon, 07/04/2014 - 17:06
Israeli Supremes Endorse War Crimes
by Stephen Lendman
They didn't surprise. They're like US Supremes. They support wealth, power and privilege. They rubber-stamp war crimes when asked.
They ignore fundamental rule of law principles. Israel High Court justices declined to hear petitioner Marwan Dalal. 
He's an Israeli Arab jurist. Earlier he served as a Hague International Criminal Court senior prosecutor. He's the only Palestinian ever to serve in this capacity.
On April 2, Israeli Supremes heard evidence of IDF war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza. A previous article explained.
Dalal filed a 52-page petition. He addressed Israel's:
  • preemptive 2006 Lebanon war;

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

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

Evidence against Israel is damning. It's overwhelming. It's indisputable. It's incontestable. Systematic coverup followed.
Israel remains unaccountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. On April 3, Israeli Supremes rubber-stamped approval. 
They ruled crimes of war and against humanity are OK. Their terse statement lied saying:
"The petitioner didn't provide enough evidence that could prove the connection between the respondents and the events that, as the petitioner sees them, could be called 'war crimes.' "
From July 12 - August 14, Israel attacked Lebanon preemptively. It blitzkrieged large areas mercilessly. It did so lawlessly.
It killed over 1,000. It caused vast destruction. It displaced around one-fourth of Lebanon's four million population. It willfully targeted civilians.
It admitted doing so. It called them legitimate targets. It defined its Dahiya Doctrine strategy. It's named after a Beirut suburb. Israel destroyed it entirely.
At the time, it said it's how future wars would be fought. Disproportionate force will be used against civilians and non-military-related infrastructure.
Doing so reflects prohibited collective punishment. International law forbids attacking non-combatants and targets unrelated to military necessary.
Beirut, Tyre, Sidon, and other Lebanon cities and towns were attacked.
Terror bombings destroyed or damaged ports, Beirut International Airport, roads, bridges, other infrastructure, schools, hospitals, power stations, commercial sites, factories, dams, civilian neighborhoods, government buildings, mosques, churches, radio and TV stations, an orphanage, Sidon's refugee camp and other non-military targets.
Jiyeh’s utility plant south of Beirut was struck. Doing so caused  massive oil spillage. Over 90 miles of coastal waters were affected. 
Biodiversity was damaged. Heightened cancer risk followed. Many thousands of Lebanese remain vulnerable.
A land, sea and air siege was imposed. Illegal weapons were used. They included depleted uranium, chemical agents, as well as white phosphorous bombs and shells. They burn flesh to the bone.
So-called thermobaric bombs were dropped. They contain polymer-bonded or solid fuel-air explosives. They penetrate buildings, underground shelters and tunnels. 
Their blast pressure sucks oxygen out of affected areas. It horrifically affects people in them. It’s a terror weapon designed to kill and destroy monstrously.
On July 19, a bus carrying Israeli tourists and others was attacked. Eight deaths were reported. 
It bears repeating. Israeli war crimes were indisputable. Lawless collective punishment is longstanding Israeli practice. It persists daily. It does so in multiple ways.
From December 27, 2008 - January 18, 2009, Israel waged lawless aggression on Gaza. On September 15, 2009, Goldstone Commission findings were damning.
It reported "evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity."
"While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right of self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole." 
Defensive rocket attacks responded to repeated Israeli provocations. Israel lawlessly used them as a pretext for naked aggression. Operation Cast Lead followed.
On September 21, 2010, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) said:
It's clear "that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets." 
"Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm. Israel's actions could not be justified as self-defense."
"The IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians (as well as) wonton(ly) destr(oying) property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity."
HRC members called IDF crimes so grave, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed." 
It said Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead."
On May 31, 2010, lawlessly interdicted Freedom Flotilla vessels in international waters. Doing so constitutes piracy. They were bringing vitally needed aid to besieged Gazans.
Nine Turkish nationals were aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship. They were massacred in cold blood. Dozens of other activists on board were wounded. Everyone was arrested.
At the time, UK-based Stop the War Coalition activists called it "(y)et another act of Israeli barbarism." Thousands of Gazans protested angrily.
Mass anti-Israeli protests followed in Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut and other regional cities.
Israel's propaganda machine reached new highs of duplicity. Damage control prioritized coverup. Big Lies drowned out truth.
Forensic evidence was damning. Victims were shot multiple times at close range. Some in the back.
A Human Rights Council (HRC) investigation criticized Israel's "outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip."
It called doing so "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity, unprovoked...unwarranted...atrocious, (and) brutal."
It said humanitarian activists onboard were "peaceful, innocent, noble, unarmed, (and) defenseless."
Attacking them "was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive, inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers." 
"Israel made "a deliberate suppress or destroy evidence." Its own version of events was fabricated. Fake videos were used. So were other falsified materials.
Crimes against humanity were committed. So was piracy. HRC members called Israeli guilty as charged.
It said "a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."
"The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion."
Attacking Mavi Marmara activists was well-planned in advance. Premeditated murder was indisputable. 
Israeli commandos had photos of Turkish nationals marked for death. They murdered them in cold blood. 
They remain unaccountable. So do Israeli commanders and responsible government officials.
No Israeli official or military commander was held accountable for Lebanon and Cast Lead war crimes. None for earlier acts of aggression.
None for daily crimes against humanity. None for ongoing ones. None since Israel was established in 1948.
None for decades of systematic slow-motion genocide. Israeli Supremes continued a longstanding tradition. 
They turned a blind eye to high crimes too grave to ignore. They endorsed what demands accountability. Perhaps one day. For sure not now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Afghans Vote - Sun, 06/04/2014 - 17:46
Afghans Vote
by Stephen Lendman
Afghan elections are more farcical than fair. Fraud substitutes for a free and open process. Voters have no say. 
In December 2001, Washington installed Hamid Karzai as president. He's a convenient stooge. He's a CIA asset. 
Formerly he was Chevron Oil subsidiary Unocal's chief consultant. He's stepping down this year. Supposedly because of constitutional ineligibility for another term. 
Changing it could keep him president longer. Earlier he vowed no third term.
On April 5, Afghans voted to replace him. Choices excluded hope and change. Or democracy. Militarized occupation assures illegitimacy. So do Washington rules.
If no aspirant wins a majority, runoff voting will follow. The two candidates with the highest vote total will participate. They'll do so on May 28. 
Weeks or perhaps months will pass to know who won. It hardly matters. Afghans already lost.
Vote-rigging was prominently featured. It's longstanding Afghanistan practice. One observer calls Afghan elections more about ballot rigging and how effectively manipulators orchestrate fraud.
After September 2010 parliamentary elections, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied calling them "an important milestone on (Afghanistan's) road to becoming a full and rightful member of the community of democratic nation."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen ludicrously said the election would be "more transparent and reliable" than 2009 presidential polling.
UN Afghanistan envoy Staffan de Mistura said 2010 would "be better than last year's election." He turned truth on its head saying it.
Dozens of Karzai opponents were marginalized, threatened and disqualified. "Vetting committee" stooges did so. 
Approved candidates included Karzai collaborators. Washington had final say. Illegitimacy describes Afghanistan's political process. This year is no different.
A rogue's gallery of pro-Western puppets assures business as usual. Meet the candidates. A larger field dropped to eight. Pressure forced candidates Washington wanted eliminated out.
Abdullah Abdullah is a former US-installed foreign minister. He represents business as usual. He's no populist. He supports US imperial interests. 
In 2009 presidential elections, he finished second. He got 30.5% of the vote. He claimed fraud. He opted out of the runoff process. He let Karzai stay president unopposed.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is a technocrat. He's a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official. 
He's Kabul University chancellor. In 2009, he won 3% of the vote. How much better he'll do this time remains to be seen. Perhaps too little improvement to matter.
Qayoum Karzai earlier chose to run. Pressure forced him out of contention. He endorsed Zalmai Rassoul. More on him below. 
Qayoum is Hamid's older brother. He's a businessman. His other brothers Mahmoud and the late Ahmed were involved in rampant corruption. 
Hamid's regime is notoriously tainted. US supplied billions  disappear into black hole tax free havens and other foreign assets. Perhaps Qayoum got his share.
Zalmal Rassoul is a former Afghan foreign minister. He resigned to run for president. Previously he was Karzai's national security advisor. 
Both men maintain close ties. Perhaps he's Washington's choice. In the fullness of time we'll know.
Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf is an Afghan politician. In 2005, his Ittehad-al-Islami (Islamic Union) was transformed into a political party - the islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan.
Two days before 9/11, he was accused of involvement in Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud's assassination. 
Two Arab men posing as journalists killed him. Both died. One during the attack. The other trying to escape. Taliban officials denied involvement.
Massoud was a national hero. He was independent. In the 1980s, he fought against Soviet invaders. He wanted Afghanistan freed from occupiers. 
Perhaps Washington wanted him eliminated. He was reportedly closer to post-Soviet Russia and Iran than America. He wasn't the US choice for president. Eliminating him smoothed Karzai's anointment.
Qutbuddin Hilal is a former deputy prime minister and first vice president. He served in the early 1990s under President Burhanuddin Rabbani. 
He earlier headed a military commission charged with uniting jihadi organizations. He's running as an independent candidate.
Hezb-e Islami political party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar endorsed him. During Soviet Russia's war on Afghanistan, Hekmatyar got active CIA support. He's now a US-designated "global terrorist."
Gul Agha Sherzai is a former warlord turned Karzai "special advisor." He served as Kandahar and Nangarhar governors. 
He resigned from the latter position to run for president. He's doing so as an independent candidate. His poor human rights record is notorious. 
He's suspected of involvement in opium trafficking. It's rife under Karzai. Afghanistan produces enough for over 90% of world heroin supply.
Earlier Sherzai was a mujahideen commander. During Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, both men met.
Hedayat Amin Arsala is a former Karzai foreign minister, finance minister, commerce minister and vice president. Until October 2013, he was Karzai's senior minister/advisor.
He was a National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA) founding member. He was a Supreme Council of Mujahideen official.
Earlier he headed a so-called Independent Commission of Administrative Reforms, a National Statistics Commission, and an Economic Cooperation Committee. 
In 1969, he became Afghanistan's first World Bank official. In October 2013, he resigned from his senior ministerial post to run for president.
Mohammad Daoud Sultanzai is a pilot by training. In the 1980s, he lived in America. Post-9/11, he returned to Afghanistan. He served as a parliamentarian. He's a political commentator/talk show host.
Around 12 million Afghans are eligible to vote. It remains to be seen how many did. Perhaps official turnout numbers will be fraudulent. 
Perhaps ballot-box stuffing will enhance them. Many Afghans want no part of rigged elections.
Around 6,000 polling centers accommodated those who do. Another thousand scheduled to open never did. Saturday was Afghanistan's third presidential election post-9/11.
Media scoundrels called it the nation's first peaceful democratic transfer of power. Truth is polar opposite.
On Saturday, The New York Times headlined "Afghans Vote in Strong Numbers Despite Dangers."
They "(b)raved cold, rain, and threats of Taliban attacks…If successful, the election will mark the first time Afghans have changed their leader at the polls in modern history…"
Doing so ends Karzai's "dozen years in power." A runoff election is virtually certain. "Even partial results (aren't) expected for a week."
Rassoul, Abdullah and Ghani are expected to be leading vote-getters. It'll take days or longer to know either way. The top two candidates will compete in May's runoff election.
Karzai voted early, saying: "I as a citizen of Afghanistan did this with happiness and pride." He spoke perhaps with tongue in cheek.
Afghanistan remains occupied. It's a cauldron of violence. Death, destruction and human misery haunt millions. 
Washington bears full responsibility. Karzai shares it. He's a convenient US stooge. Whoever replaces him will serve Western, not popular interests.
Washington's criminal legacy is longstanding. It's notorious. Over 12 years of war left millions dead. Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them. 
Many others suffer horrifically. America turned Afghanistan into a savage wasteland. Hegemons aren't responsible nation-builders. They have other priorities.
No end of conflict looms. Perhaps another decade or longer will follow. Expect it as long as America is involved.
Its legacy left over half of all Afghan children suffering from severe malnutrition. An entire generation is affected. Millions live under deplorable conditions.
Violence, hunger, homelessness, disease epidemics, poor sanitation, and environmental contamination affect them. So do unsafe water as well as inadequate healthcare, education and other vital services.
Millions of refugees remain internally or externally displaced. Women are horrifically treated. Many, including young girls, are beaten, raped or murdered.
Humanitarian assistance enough to matter is sorely lacking. Children die from exposure to bitter winter cold. 
America's war claims thousands more. Air and ground attacks are responsible. Deaths mount daily.
Civilians suffer most. They're killed indiscriminately. Horrific incidents go largely unreported. Afghan lives and welfare don't matter.
US war crimes persist daily. Death by drones murder civilian men, women and children. So do ground assaults.
Deaths, injuries, torture and other atrocities reflect daily life. Ordinary Afghans suffer most. US aggression is one of history's greatest crimes.
Afghans are some of the world's most long-suffering people in modern times. Washington bears full responsibility for ravaging and destroying their country.
Don't expect post-election change. Don't expect a new US puppet any different from Karzai. 
Don't expect withdrawing more Pentagon troops to help. Militarized occupation remains official US policy.
Over 100,000 private military contractors infest Afghanistan. They're a hostile occupying force. 
They'll remain indefinitely. They serve American and other Western interests, not Afghan ones. 
They're US military surrogates. They operate extrajudicially. They do so with impunity. They're unaccountable for human rights violations. 
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent maintaining them. They do far more harm than good.
America's Afghanistan legacy is deplorable. It reflects millions of lost lives. It includes unspeakable human misery. 
It's about trillions of wasted dollars. Afghanistan under militarized occupation resembles hell on earth. Staying alive is a daily struggle.
Extreme poverty, unemployment, and deprivation affect all aspects of people's lives. Afghanistan's human development indicators are among the world's worst.
Over 12 years of war and militarized occupation left millions hugely denied. Throughout his tenure, Karzai was a caricature of a leader. 
He lacks legitimacy. He's widely despised. He won't be missed. Without heavy round-the clock protection, he wouldn't last a day on his own.
He profited hugely from Afghanistan's elicit drugs trade. So did other corrupt officials around him.
In October 2001, America arrived violently. It did so to conquer, colonize, occupy, plunder and dominate Afghanistan. 
It's a geopolitical prize. At issue is controlling Eurasia's vast oil, gas and other resources. 
Afghanistan has its own riches. It has vast natural gas and other mineral reserves. They include copper, lithium, iron, cobalt and gold.
It has the world’s largest opium supply. It floods world markets with heroin. It provides enormous profits for Wall Street. It gives CIA access to billions of dollars in elicit drug money.
Occupied Afghanistan is America's strategically located land-based aircraft carrier. It's part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China with bases.
Both nations are Washington's only global challengers. China is the world's second largest economy.
In a decade or less it may surpass America. Russia is a formidable military power. It's the only nation able challenge Pentagon might.
It has enormous oil and gas reserves. China badly needs them. Both nations benefit strategically by allying.
Doing so weakens Washington longterm. America came to Afghanistan to stay. Abandoning what's geopolitically important won't happen. Not short-term at least.
How much longer Americans put up with permanent wars and occupations at the expense of homeland needs remains to be seen. Mass/sustained public opposition alone can end them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.



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