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US Wars Kill Mostly Civilians

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 04/05/2015 - 20:49

US Wars Kill Mostly Civilians
by Stephen Lendman
Post-9/11 alone, millions of civilians perished in US direct and proxy wars. They were either in harm's way, deliberately targeted, or perished from war related violence, preventable diseases or deprivation.
Washington, like Israel, considers noncombatant civilians legitimate targets. International law calls killing them a war crime.
Obama's Iraq war and Syria bombing aren't against IS terrorists. They're US recruited proxy foot soldiers, supported by American air power.
Washington's Friday's Aleppo area bombing murdered dozens of noncombatant civilians - not a single IS terrorist. None were targeted. 
Noncombatant civilians alone were in the Birmahle area struck - no IS terrorists. No clashes were reported.
US CENTCOM lied reporting "no indication that any civilians were killed in these strikes." It claimed "several ISIL fighting positions (were) destroy(ed)." It said "more than 50 ISIL fighters" were targeted. 
It bears repeating, ONLY civilians  were killed - no IS terrorists. None were present - nor any IS "fighting positions."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) issued a statement "condemn(ing) in the strongest terms this massacre committed by the US led coalition under the pretext of targeting the IS in the village, and we call the coalition countries to refer who committed this massacre to the courts, as we renew our calls to neutralize all civilians areas from military operations by all parties."
Since US warplanes began terror-bombing Syria last September, mostly noncombatant civilian men, women and children died.
Reuters said US attacks "had little impact on the hardline Islamic State group…(It) fail(ed) to weaken it in areas it controls."
Bombing supports its US proxy force mission to topple Bashar al-Assad. Obama wants a convenient US stooge replacing him.
Washington' strategy includes murdering civilians in all its wars. In the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Ukraine, endless so-called humanitarian wars murdered millions of noncombatants advancing America's imperium.
Horrific war crimes go unreported or are denied. When investigations are conducted they whitewashed. 
High-level government and Pentagon culpability doesn't matter. Millions of corpses attest to America's barbarity.
During US-led NATO's terror-bombing of Libya, British Civilians for Peace (BCP) spokesman Dale Roberts said he "witnessed the effects of bombing on civilians."
"This has included schools, hospitals, infrastructure and (other) civilian areas" unrelated to military sites.
So-called Pentagon "Kill Teams" murder with impunity. US death squads have been used since WW II.
In Korea, tens of thousands were murdered in cold blood. In Vietnam, Operation Phoenix was the most indiscriminate mass slaughter campaign since Hitler's death camps - exceeded in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
US terror-bombing since America entered WW II killed millions of noncombatants. Sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) once said "(t)he immorality of war depends entirely on the leaders who willed it."
If alive today, he'd have Bush and Obama in mind. Immanuel Wallerstein calls America "the most dangerous loose gun."
In his opening Nuremberg address, Justice Robert Jackson denounced the "men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched."
He called them "men of station and rank (who don't) soil (their) hands with blood." 
They use "lesser folk" to commit crimes of war and against humanity to enhance their status, privilege, wealth and power.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, Pentagon commanders ordered US forces to kill all military-aged men on sight.
During training, enemies are vilified, dehumanized to make killing easy. Recruits are programmed (brainwashed) to feel guiltless about cold-blooded murder - on the ground, from offshore or from 30,000 feet.
Yet international and US laws are clear. US Army Field Manual incorporates Nuremberg Principles as well as the 1956 Law of Land Warfare.
FM's paragraph 498 states any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished.
Paragraph 499 defines a war crime. Paragraph 500 refers to a conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes.
Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime.
Paragraph 510 denies the defense of an "act of state" as absolution for war crimes.
These provisions apply to all US military and civilian personnel to the highest levels, including the president, defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman.
It doesn't matter. American forces commit horrific atrocities and other war crimes in all US wars.
Mass murdering noncombatant civilians is standard operating procedure.
Obama claims he has moral authority to attack any nation he wishes on the pretext of humanitarian intervention.
Commenting on US-led NATO's rape of Yugoslavia, the late Harold Pinter said:
"When they said '(w)e had to do something,' I said: Who is this 'we' exactly that you're talking about?"
"Under what heading do 'we' act, under what law? And also, the notion that this 'we' has the right to act,' I said, presupposes a moral authority of which this 'we' possesses not a jot! It doesn't exist!"
The same holds for all US wars - lawless imperial ones pursued for global conquest and dominance.
Lunatics in Washington make policy - waging endless wars on humanity, raping one country after another, murdering millions, claiming a divine right to rule. 
International laws, norms and standards don't matter - nor US constitutional and statute laws. 
No nation in world history threatens world peace more than America. None more risk ending life on earth.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Racist Israeli Policies Target Arabs and Ethiopian Jews

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 04/05/2015 - 20:30
Racist Israeli Policies Target Arabs and Ethiopian Jews
by Stephen Lendman
Longstanding Israeli policy is notoriously racist - worse than South African apartheid according to observers familiar with both systems.
Palestinians face ruthless persecution in a nation affording rights to privileged Jews alone. They have virtually none whatever. 
They're fair game for whatever harshness Israel has in mind - including lawless imprisonment and mass murder.
Ethiopian Jews fare no better - unwanted because they're black. Citizenship doesn't matter. Persecuting them is standard Israeli practice.
Last week a video emerged showing police beating an Ethiopian IDF member.
On Sunday, thousands of Ethiopian Israelis protested mostly peacefully - against what happened and widespread discrimination.
Hundreds of Israeli social activists and concerned Knesset members joined Sunday's rally. It came three days after an earlier one protesting police beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier.
Police reacted as expected - viciously with stun grenades, water cannon fire, pepper spray and beatings.
Scattered protester violence was in response to policy brutality - mostly scuffles, throwing stones and plastic water bottles.
Numerous injuries and arrests followed. Participants chanted "Violent police officers belong in jail." "For blacks and whites, racism is the devil." "Police state." "No to racism."
They held signs saying "A violent policeman must be put in prison." "We demand equal rights."
Not in Israel notorious for ruthlessly denying them. One protester spoke for others saying:
"Being black, I have to protest today. I never experienced police violence against me personally, but it is aimed at my community which I have to support."
Protesters want social inequality addressed. They want violent police charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned for criminality too serious to ignore.
Netanyahu lied saying police abuse cases "will be looked into." Whitewash is standard Israeli policy.  
Over 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. They're treated like second-class citizens or worse.
Their fundamental rights are denied. They face high unemployment, rotten jobs when available, poverty wages and discriminatory mistreatment.
A midday Monday rally is planned. Police warned if "public safety" is threatened, they'll "be forced to disperse the demonstration using means" of crowd control - code language for unrestrained brutality.
Nineteen Sunday protesters face charges of rioting and assaulting police. Innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is longstanding Israeli policy. Police brutality doesn't matter.
One protester said the following:
"We have long been the punching bag and scapegoat for everything in this country. People say that they’re with us, that they brought us here." 
"They didn’t bring us here. We came because of Zionism, not like others who came for economic benefits." 
"When you’re a Zionist, you believe with a full heart that this is your country."
"Our forefathers lived here, and we also have the right to live here. But what is going on now is simply a catastrophe." 
"It is racism for the sake of racism. You look for a job today, and even if you’re the best around, there’s a price. Your color carries a price.
"But we will not stay silent any longer. We are not our parents’ generation, who kept quiet, kept their heads down and said ‘amen’ to everything." 
"That period is over. We are a new generation fighting for our rights."
"We are the first to volunteer for the elite units in the military. I personally know many in the community who’ve already fought in three wars." 
"And the state - what it does it tell them to do? Pardon the expression, but it tells them to go stick it you know where."
A 19-year-old protesting IDF soldier said:
"There are too many instances of racism against our community. We kept quiet and kept quiet, and because of that, people who were victims of police violence ended up killing themselves." 
"The boy who was beaten up last week, you can see on the video that he didn’t do anything. He was beaten up for nothing, and it’s really enraging."
"What we’re doing now has nothing to do with what’s going on in Baltimore. They have their issues. We have ours. But we understand them. We both suffer from racism." 
"There, it’s more extreme. People were murdered by police. Here they just got beaten up. Who knows? Maybe somebody was killed by police here, and we don’t even know about it."
"In any event, we will not be silent any longer. It can’t be that our blood is only good for fighting wars." 
Another protesting black soldier said "I almost lost my life for the country, and this is how they treat me."
An Ethiopian protester told Israeli bystanders: "See, our blood is just like yours."
Another said "I feel like we're strangers, like we're not Jews. We fight all these wars, but this is the real war" - for long denied justice.
Things quieted down Sunday around midnight. What happens Monday and thereafter remains to be seen.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Saudis Using US-Supplied Banned Terror Weapons Against Yemeni Civilians

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 04/05/2015 - 02:25

Saudis Using US-Supplied Banned Terror Weapons Against Yemeni Civilians
by Stephen Lendman
Israel and Saudi Arabia represent regional fascist police state viciousness. Fundamental international laws are systematically violated.
Israel mass murders Palestinians with impunity. Saudi terror-bombing massacres Yemenis - willfully targeting defenseless noncombatant men, women and children.
US-led Western nations provide full support and encouragement. Media scoundrels turn a blind eye to what demands daily denunciation.
Earlier reports indicated Saudis attacked Yemen's Saada province with banned chemical agents.
Toxic gas left scores of Yemeni civilians dead or injured. Witnesses and aid workers said white smoke rose from Saudi terror-bombing. Injured victims experienced suffocation, nausea and diarrhea.
Earlier in April, Houthi rebels intercepted Saudi trucks carrying chemical agents. 
Yemeni General Khalid al-Barayemi said they were heading for areas controlled by terrorists.
Substances seized is used for producing lethal sarin gas. World leaders able to stop this horror do nothing.
Defenseless civilians are harmed most of all. On May 3, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "Yemen: Saudi-Led Airstrikes Used Cluster Munitions," saying:
"Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States…"
Unexploded ones pose longterm dangers. They're banned weapons under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
Use, transfer and stockpiling are strictly prohibited. They're terror weapons - scattering submunition bomblets over a wide area.
Scores of nations ban their use pledging "never under any circumstances to:
  • "use cluster munitions;

  • develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions; (and)

  • assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention."

Washington, Israel and Saudi Arabia use them freely. Rogue states ignore international law.
According to HRW: "Photographs, video, and other evidence have emerged since mid-April 2015 indicating that cluster munitions have been used during recent weeks in coalition airstrikes in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate…"
"Human Rights Watch has established through analysis of satellite imagery that the weapons appeared to land on a cultivated plateau, within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six village clusters."
HRW's Steve Goose said "Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger." 
"These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members - and the supplier, the US - are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians."
Children are especially vulnerable. They mistake them for toys. They're brightly colored.
They pick them up for play. Death or serious injury follows. 
Israel's 2006 Lebanon war provided momentum for banning their use. UN officials estimated up to 40% of its cluster bomblets failed to explode on impact.
Pentagon commanders outrageously call them humane weapons. The ICRC calls for eliminating them altogether.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams called CCM "the most important disarmament and humanitarian convention in over a decade."
Washington, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other rogue states ignore it. They use radiological, chemical, biological and other terror weapons freely.
Days after Saudi-led terror-bombing began, Riyadh spokesman Brig. General al-Assiri lied saying "(w)e are not using cluster bombs at all."
In March, HRW called on all parties in Yemen's conflict to refrain from using these munitions.
Credible evidence proved Riyadh them against Yemen in November 2009 - again now since March 26.
Obama's war on Yemen rages - killing scores of civilians daily. Eye witness reports indicate Saudi special forces and snipers are involved in ground operations against Houthis in Aden.
A commander told AP on condition of anonymity that "(a) limited coalition force entered Aden and another force is on its way."
AP indicated 20 in number initially aiding anti-Houthi elements in combat. Other reports said 40 - 50 special forces. 
Sputnik News cited local media reporting a limited contingent of Saudi ground forces battling Houthis in Aden. 
A Riyadh spokesman denied Saudi ground involvement. Nothing its government says is credible.
Saudi attack helicopters were seen flying over Aden, Sanaa and elsewhere. Photos were posted on social media. They conducted air attacks on US-designated targets.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denounced unacceptable silence by certain countries on what's ongoing.
"Tehran supports Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue in a venue agreed upon by all Yemeni groups, and rejects any foreign interference in this country," he stressed.
"(W)e will not let anybody play with our common security through adventurous measures," he added. 
Yemen's Al-Watan newspaper cited an unnamed source saying Egyptian strongman Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman discussed possible joint ground military operations in Yemen.
Whether Saudi special forces in Aden indicate more extensive planned incursions remains to be seen.
Yemen remains a cauldron of violence, chaos, and humanitarian crisis conditions from the US/Saudi-imposed blockade. An entire country under siege is on the brink of collapse.
A US-planned and orchestrated terror campaign affects millions of Yemenis. Many more than already slaughtered may perish. 
Endless direct and proxy dirty wars of aggression without mercy are a US specialty. Mass murder is longstanding practice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Jimmy Carter Calls Gaza Conditions "Intolerable"

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 22:24
Jimmy Carter Calls Gaza Conditions "Intolerable"
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, 90-year-old former US President Jimmy Carter called conditions in Gaza "intolerable" eight months after Israel's summer 2014 genocidal war.
Visiting Jerusalem he said:
"What we have seen and heard only strengthens our determination to work for peace. The situation in Gaza is intolerable." 
"Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve."
Last summer during the height of Israeli aggression, Carter warned of an impending "humanitarian catastrophe."
In vain, he urged "all combat operations must stop, and Israeli troops should withdraw from Gaza."
They continued rampaging lawlessly against defenseless civilians - mass murdering noncombatant men, women and children, an Israeli specialty.
Carter ignored Netanyahu during his visit. He "decided it was a waste of time" to see him.
"As long as he is in charge, there will be no two-state solution and therefore no Palestinian state," he explained.
He "made clear during his (election) campaign, he is against a two-state solution."
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland accompanying Carter said "(a) complete (Israeli) paradigm shift is essential. Without it, we fear that further conflict is inevitable."
Carter met with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. They laid a wreath on Yasser Arafat's grave.
He cancelled a planned Gaza visit - citing security concerns. He urged Palestinians to hold elections and end divided rule.
"We hope that sometime we'll see elections all over the Palestinian area and East Jerusalem and Gaza and also in the West Bank," he said.
Hamas is Palestine's legitimate government - democratically elected in January 2006. It's not a terrorist organization. US/Israeli claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Abbas has no legitimacy whatever. Israel rigged his 2005 election. His term expired in January 2009.
He's a longtime Israeli collaborator in return for special benefits he enjoys. He betrays his own people unaccountably.
He supported Israel's Gaza wars. He's comfortable with mass murdering Palestinians. Enforcer services he provides persecutes them. Why they put up with him they'll have to explain.
Carter ended his three-day visit to Israel and Occupied Palestine Saturday evening.
He called prospects for peace remote. Brundtland said Israeli officials "don't want to listen to views they don't agree with."
A Netanyahu spokesman said his office had no comment. Israeli ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin refused to meet with Carter.
Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended boycotting his visit because of his "anti-Israeli" positions.
He called last summer's Gaza war "illegitimate." Israeli hardliners call him a hostile critic.
In earlier remarks, Carter compared Israel's illegal occupation to South Africa's apartheid, saying:
"When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa."
He hoped his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" would "stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country." 
"There's never been any debate on this issue of any significance," he explained - not in Israel or high places in America.
Carter earlier and today believes regional peace is impossible unless Israel unconditionally ends its illegal occupation.
Chances for responsible Israeli policies are dead zero. Rogue states make their own rules. 
Israel is a regional menace - to its neighbors and its own people, Jews and non-Jews alike.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Ukraine: A US-Supported Fascist Cancer in Europe's Heartland

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 21:41
Ukraine: A US-Supported Fascist Cancer in Europe's Heartland
by Stephen Lendman
As Russia and leaders from dozens of other countries prepare to celebrate Victory in Europe on May 9 in Moscow, the defeated scourge again threatens regional peace and stability - courtesy of US-installed and supported Ukrainian Nazi thugs.
They celebrated May 2 as Victory Day - the infamous year ago day when Kiev-unleashed Right Sector Nazi thugs murdered hundreds of anti-regime Odessans wanting to live free from the scourge of fascism.
City police did nothing while they shot, bludgeoned, strangled, hacked to death with axes, and threw defenseless victims from windows of Odessa's Trade Union House building where they sought sanctuary in vain.
Right Sector thugs awaited them inside for a well-planned mass murder operation ordered by Kiev, OK'd by Washington.
Ukraine's Nazi-controlled Svoboda party outrageously said the following:
"May 2, 2014 was a historic day for Odessa. Odessans bravely repulsed Kremlin gangs and their local leaders, thus protecting the city from the arrival of the 'Russian world.' "
"This day was decisive in the months-long stand off between the members of Odessa Maidan and the anti-government and staunchly pro-Moscow Anti-Maidan." 
"It culminated in Ukrainian victory and the beginning of a new page in the history of the city."
Svoboda proclaimed May 2 as a "day of victory over the Kremlin terrorists groups, the day of purification from the Kremlin infection."
"This day is a proud page in the history of the city." 
Washington is in bed with some of the world's most ruthless elements - including monarchal and other despots, Nazis, takfiri terrorists, and virtually any outlaw groups and individuals willing to do its dirty work.
US imperial ruthlessness menaces humanity worldwide. It assures endless wars, genocidal slaughter, mass destruction and unspeakable human misery.
It passes under the radar of a complicit media ignoring what demands daily headlines. Presstitution triumphs over legitimate journalism. 
State-sponsored propaganda substitutes for reporting hard truths on issues mattering most.
Ukraine is in the eye of the storm. Irresponsible Russia bashing remains intense.
Last Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf outrageously accused Moscow of "a lot of lip service…about its Minsk commitments but not a lot of action."
Asked about the year ago Odessa massacre, she ducked  explaining Kiev's responsibility complicit with Washington.
She called the anniversary "important…not to lose sight of the bigger picture in Ukraine and that the fact that Russia's 'aggression' has left more than 6,000 people dead and displaced at least a million more."
It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Russia is the continent's leading peace and stability proponent.
America threatens world peace. It bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions - for dirty war without mercy against Donbass civilians, for last May's Odessa massacre murdering hundreds in cold blood.
Don't expect any US official to explain. They're complicit in the highest of high crimes. 
Blaming Russia irresponsibly is cover for their own criminality - on an unprecedented worsening global scale.
The Donetsk People's Republic Prime Minister Denis Pushilin accused Kiev's "overseas sponsors" (mainly Washington) of helping their puppet regime continue waging war on Donbass.
Poroshenko refuses to observe Minsk ceasefire terms. He ignores them entirely. He's preparing for escalated war.
"We are ready for any turn of events, but we will do the utmost to solve the situation at the negotiating table," Pushilin explained.
Fascist regimes don't negotiate. They demand. Kiev and its US puppet master want unconditional Donbass surrender.
They want nationwide fascist rule. They deplore democratic rights. They'll continue waging dirty war to eliminate them entirely nationwide. Expect lots more death and destruction ahead.
Moscow expressed concern about blatant Kiev Minsk breaches - especially recent heavy shelling of Donetsk.
According to DPR officials, residential areas were targeted. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged OSCE chairman Ivica Dacic to intervene responsibly to halt Kiev aggression.
Moscow's Foreign Ministry wants OSCE monitors to "demand that Kiev immediately stop a flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements."
Donetsk Mayor Igor Martynov said residential buildings and a school were struck.
OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) is expected to visit the targeted area on Sunday to assess what happened.
Its latest report explained deteriorating conditions "involving live fire (by Ukrainian forces) near and at SMM patrols."
It bears repeating what previous articles explained. Minsk was dead on arrival.
Washington demands continued dirty war without mercy. Expect escalation at Obama's discretion. 
Potentially targeting Russia belligerently looms. US forces are readying for confrontation. Will WW III follow?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

SOPA Lives On For the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition

eff.org - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 14:44

Last week the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) held their spring conference in San Diego, to share intelligence about the latest strategies for combatting “counterfeiting” (by which they mean trademark infringement) and “piracy” (by which they mean copyright infringement). EFF's Jeremy Malcolm attended as an invited panelist, giving us the opportunity to assert our views that anti-piracy campaigns should not infringe users' rights or damage the fabric of the global Internet. But perhaps more importantly, it also also afforded us a window into the mindset of the content and brand owners, law enforcement officials and lawyers behind these campaigns.

A very obvious take-away from the event was that big content remains in denial about the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), convinced that its ultimate rejection by Congress was due to a tech industry misinformation campaign, rather than by widespread and legitimate public concern that mandatory Web blocking would spell the end of the free and open Internet as we know it.

The defeat of SOPA is rightfully regarded by Internet activists as one of their finest hours, and indeed, it is true that nobody has made any significant calls for new domestic legislation on the same topic since then. On the other hand, it was also clear that delegates at the IACC conference believe that death is not the end for of SOPA, and that they are working to reanimate its spirit from beyond the grave.

Stretching Existing Law

Although rightsholders may be reticent about asking for new laws to address piracy, they have no such compunctions about stretching existing law to provide them with similar powers. Since last year, word has has it that rightsholders are planning to test the authority of the International Trade Commission (ITC) under section 337 of the Tariff Act to order copyright-infringing websites to be blocked at the U.S. border. We don't believe that the ITC's authority extends that far, as blocking websites is not the same as intercepting a shipment of counterfeit handbags from China.

Another tactic, which we reported on last week, has been the use of existing provisions of U.S. law that allow pre-emptive injunctions against copyright infringement. In an unfortunate, and we believe wrong decision, the court awarded a sweeping injunction against all involved Internet intermediaries requiring them to suspend services to websites that facilitated the anticipated infringement of copyright in a live sporting event.

SOPA Lives Overseas

Rightsholders are taking a more direct approach overseas, where they continue to seek the replication of one of its core provisions—allowing ISPs to be ordered to block overseas websites—in local law. For example Australia's equivalent of SOPA, allowing orders to block sites that have a dominant purpose of infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright, is being debated right now. U.S.-based and multinational rightsholder groups, including those who supported SOPA, are amongst those who have been heard in public consultations in support of this draconian censorship legislation.

European law is also being stretched to allow for SOPA-style blocking. European Directives have long allowed intermediaries to be ordered to take effective and proportionate measures to prevent a third party from using their services to infringe an intellectual property right (in Article 8(3) of Directive 2001/29/EC, and Articles 9 and 11 of Directive 2004/48/EC). According to a troublesome October 2014 High Court decision, this allows for SOPA-type orders that require ISPs to block websites selling counterfeit products.

SOPA on the Sly

A third tactic that rightsholders are using to reanimate the defeated provisions of SOPA, and that was much discussed at the IACC conference, is simply to pressure ISPs and other intermediaries to voluntarily block access and services to alleged piracy sites pursuant to their own terms of service.. Thus a recent report of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), that was presented at the conference, calls on Internet providers to:

Block subscriber access to internet sites or online services that a competent authority or court has found to be designed or operated with the clear intention of inducing or promoting infringement; or to be knowingly facilitating or enabling large-scale infringement without taking reasonable steps to prevent it.

ISPs are only one class of intermediary in the rightsholders' sights. As this interactive graphic explains, there are various other intermediaries in the chain between the publisher of content and the user, who can also be used to effectively block the content. These include, amongst others, the DNS provider of the website where the content is hosted, the web host and its upstream providers, any advertising network or payment processor that the site may use to support hosting costs, and search engines that index the site.

Delegates at the IACC conference promoted the success of “voluntary practices” and “brokered dialogues” with these various classes of intermediaries by which they had agreed to suspend or block services to sites allegedly offering pirated content, such as the “RogueBlock” guidelines for payment providers, the Trustworthy Ads Guidelines (TAG) for advertising networks, and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) guidelines for demoting overseas pharmacies from search results.

Rightsholders and their friends in Congress are also pressuring DNS providers to apply their rightsholder-friendly agreements with ICANN as the basis for deleting domains allegedly used by unauthorized websites. This is the coded message contained in a letter sent by the Senate's Judiciary Committee to the White House “IP Czar” Daniel Marti, earlier this month, which calls on Marti to pressure ICANN to enforce these agreements with registrars.

EFF does not defend the motives of websites that make unauthorized copies of movies, music,and software for profit. But because “voluntary” programs directed at these sites operate outside the rule of law, there is little to prevent these programs from being misused, wittingly or otherwise, to also take down websites that serve a legitimate public interest, such as Wikileaks—which has indeed suffered from DNS, web host, and payment intermediary blocks in the past.

We don't agree with much that our co-panelists at the IACC Conference said, but we do agree with one remark made by Michael Weatherley, former Intellectual Property Adviser to the U.K. Prime Minister, who observed that preferable to the heavy stick of copyright enforcement, is the use of education about copyright, and the promotion of lawful, affordable, and accessible online content services. SOPA failed for a reason, and it's time for rightsholders to finish mourning its demise and move on.

Related Issues: SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist Legislation
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Categories: Aggregated News

Anniversary of Last May's Odessa Massacre

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 04:01
Anniversary of Last May's Odessa Massacre
by Stephen Lendman
What happened reflected Kiev ordered no-holds-barbarism - an atrocity committed by a US-installed, Nazi-infested fascist regime against anti-Maidan Odessan civilians wanting to live free.
Nazi Right Sector thugs murdered hundreds of defenseless victims in cold blood.
What happened was far worse than reported. Massacring people reflects the worst of fascist viciousness.
Mass murder was planned in advance. Hundreds of anti-regime Odessans sought shelter in the city's Trade Union House (TUH) building.
Right Sector thugs awaited them inside - armed and dangerous. Mass slaughter followed.
Nearby tents used by peaceful protesters were set ablaze. Doing so preceded a well-planned operation.
Police stood by and did nothing. They conspired with fascist killers. So did Odessan firefighters. They only appeared after massive TUH entrance doors burned through.
Fire confined to parts of two floors only killed no one, nor carbon monoxide poisoning as reported. 
Nazi hoodlums murdered anti-regime victims by gunshot wounds, strangling, bludgeoning, hacking them to death with axes and throwing them alive from windows. They didn't jump.
Coverup and denial followed a day Odessans won't forget. Eyewitnesses and survivors remember best of all. Kiev bore full responsibility. A previous article said the following:
A woman explained she "personally saw with (her) own eyes how a man of maybe around 40 - they cut his throat."
"They pushed him on the ground and cut his throat - and they shouted, 'Glory to Ukraine.' "
"Everything happened so quickly. Someone said that we all have to get inside the Trades Union building."
"Everyone quickly began carrying everything into the building and reinforcing everything inside."
"When I was on the second floor, I saw many of the pro-Maidan (supporters) gathering around. They surrounded us."
"They were all around the building." A fire was "ignited…I went downstairs and heard shooting inside the building."
A man "was shouting that the Right Sector was coming. Everybody run."
"I ran into an office. Two men were brought in. They had suffocated. They were dead."
"There was not a sound other than the shots. (A) couple of minutes passed. People inside said "(l)et us in. Let us in. We are with you. They are killing us."
"I was in such a shock. I can't even describe this to you. I did not expect that anyone could rejoice so much over killing someone."
"My ears were wringing. We were screaming. We were just begging them not to kill us."
"They killed everyone they saw. Everyone at once. A man was lying right by my feet. He was covered in blood. They beat him with bats."
"They took one woman away. I don't know where. Then as soon as they took me out of an office, I begged them to let me go because I have a small child."
"They could not care less…I stood there. I saw everything. They were dragging people. I don't know where they were taking them."
"When they took me out of an office, I was walking on corpses. Then we went on the stairs and there I only saw blood."
"I saw bodies in the hallway. They were dragging them. They began shooting."
"People inside tried to get out to safety. Some of them were shot."
Somehow some eyewitness survived. Most inside the TUH perished. Most others who got out were murdered.
It bears repeating. Right Sector thugs killed hundreds of Odessans in cold blood, not dozens as reported.
They shot, bludgeoned, strangled, hacked or threw victims to their death out of windows.
Survivors able to escape were attacked outside. Most were murdered in cold blood.
Official accounts suppressed what happened. Media scoundrels regurgitated Big Lies.
Moscow accused Kiev of doing nothing to initiate an independent investigation of massive criminality.
Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed "deep concern…that after one year (since the massacre), the Ukrainian justice system did not take any tangible steps toward an objective, independent and impartial investigation of this horrific crime in order to bring the perpetrators to justice."
State-sponsored barbarism remains unaccountable. Moscow urged the international community and human rights groups to "decisively and honestly" demand Kiev initiate an independent investigation into what happened and correct "glaring flaws" in its judicial system.
Washington's support lets thugs they installed get away with mass murder. Media scoundrels share blame by suppressing what demands headlines.
Killers remain unaccountable. Police states operate this way. Murdering opponents is standard practice. 
Washington provides full support and encouragement. One fascist regime supports another.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Proposed US Strategy for Dominating China

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 00:37
Proposed US Strategy for Dominating China
by Stephen Lendman
US imperial policy prioritizes endless wars for unchallenged global dominance - madness by any standard at a time super-weapons can end life on earth.
Russia and China are Washington's two main rivals - Moscow militarily, Beijing mainly for its growing economic dominance. 
It's now the world's largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) - the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.
Its growth since the 1980s is one of the greatest success stories in modern times - extraordinary by any standard, enough for Washington prioritizing regime change.
It wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing China's sovereign independence. It wants a major rival eliminated by any means necessary.
Robert Blackwell is a former Bush administration deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic planning - a neocon lunatic by any standard.
Ashley Tellis is a former Bush administration State Department senior advisor and National Security Council staff member. His ideological extremism matches Blackwell's.
Their April Council on Foreign Relations "Special Report" is titled "Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China."
They maintain Beijing represents a threat to America in a part of the world not its own.
US "primacy in Asia" is at stake, they say. So is "a consequential challenge to American power globally," they claim. 
They urge challenging China's growing economic, political and military "ascendancy" aggressively.
Above all, they want all challengers to America's global supremacy eliminated - by any means necessary including war.
Their policy recommendations include "revitalizing the US economy." Phony numbers conceal its dismal state. 
Q I GDP suggests recession conditions - real negative growth concealed by a fabricated +0.2%. Real final sales (GDP minus inventory buildup) fell at an annualized 0.5% quarterly rate.
America's economy appears headed south. It never recovered from 2008-09's major recession. 
With over a fifth of its working age population unable to find jobs, it's in trouble. It could take years to turn things around. It requires polar opposite policies than current ones nowhere in sight.
Strengthen America's military, Blackwell and Tellis urge. Washington already matches or exceeds what the rest of the world spends in total on militarism.
"Congress should remove (virtually nonexistent) sequestration caps and substantially increase the US defense budget," the authors maintain.
"Washington should intensify a consistent US naval and air presence in the South and East China Seas." 
It should "accelerate the US (Pacific-based) ballistic-missile defense posture." 
The authors barely stopped short of urging Washington declare war on China and carpet-bomb its land mass with nuclear weapons.
They stressed expanding US/Asian trade. They prioritize enacting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement - a stealth freedom-destroying corporate coup d'etat critics call NAFTA on steroids.
"US grand strategy toward China will be seriously weakened without delivering on the TPP," they stress. 
"A major push by the White House for ratification should therefore begin immediately in the new Congress, including seeking trade promotion authority" (fast track license to ram legislation through Congress with minimal debate and no amendments).
Blackwell and Tellis want Washington "limiting China's access to advanced weaponry and military critical technologies."
They want America's allies pressured to go along with imperial US policies and objectives.
They want all nations subservient to Washington's will. They want total US control over planet earth and space.
They want Washington imposing "costs on China (exceeding) benefits it receives from" alleged cyberspace violations. 
They want US "offensive" cyber capabilities enhanced. They want congressional legislation benefitting America at the expense of other countries.
"The United States cannot defend its interests in Asia without support from its allies," they maintain.
They want US regional power increased along China's borders - with Asian allies pressured to go along with policies harming their own interests.
They prefer dominating China diplomatically. They support war if other options fail.
They want no US geopolitical rivals anywhere. The want unchallenged American dominion over planet earth - even at the risk of destroying it.
The authors' attitude toward US/China relations and all independent countries America doesn't control matches dominant thinking among neocon lunatics infesting Washington.
They see no prospect "of building fundamental trust, peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding (or) a strategic partnership" - code language for wanting all independent governments replaced by stooge ones Washington controls, a prescription for endless wars of aggression.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Kiev's Poroshenko Vows Continued War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 22:31
KIev's Poroshenko Vows Continued War
by Stephen Lendman
He lied agreeing to Minsk ceasefire terms. He violated them straightaway. 
He has no intention of observing them. Washington won't permit it. Obama wants escalated conflict. He's readying Ukrainian forces to launch it full-scale.
He deplores peace and stability. So does Poroshenko. He's beholden to Washington controlling his geopolitical agenda.
On state-controlled television, he said "(t)he war will be over only when Ukraine regains control of Donbas and Crimea." 
"It will take as much time as it takes. The country’s territorial integrity must be priority number one." 
"We will use every way possible. We will be uncompromising on that matter."

Crimea is Russian territory. It won't be handed back to Ukraine. Crimeans won't tolerate it. Nor should they.
Donbass rejects Kiev fascist rule. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Parliament Speaker Denis Pushilin said Poroshenko's comments "are aimed at escalating the conflict in Donbas." 
"This once again confirms the fact that Kiev is not ready to implement all the conditions of the Minsk agreements." It wants war, not peace.
DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said "(t)oday we are building our young state enthusiastically." 
"Still not everything comes easily, but despite the intention of our enemies to destroy the republic, I want to state firmly - we have established ourselves as a young state. We are developing and we have won!" 
He praised Donbass residents for their courage, unity and spiritual strength.
"I am sure that by our joint efforts we will soon turn our dream into reality and establish a strong, independent and prosperous state created by people and for people," he added.
In April 2014, Donetsk and Lugansk declared themselves sovereign states. After their May 2014 referendums, they created the Union of People's Republics, Novorossiya.
It bears repeating. They reject fascist rule. They want real democracy. They've risked life and limb fighting for it. 
They intend defending what they won. They deserve universal support.
Low-level war continues daily. In the 24-hour period ending April 30, Ukrainian forces shelled Donetsk 37 times - using heavy artillery and mortar fire.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin, Kiev continues waging war on Donbass.
"Ukrainian forces also continue harassing fire on our settlements near the contact line from tanks and IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles), and from firearms." 
"Ukrainian commanders continue covertly pulling in rocket artillery systems to positions along the contact line."
DPR intelligence noted heavy Ukrainian weapons well inside the agreed on contact line - in flagrant violation of Minsk. They're used to shell Donbass.
Information collected is given to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination, Basurin explained. Dozens of ceasefire violations occur daily.
On Thursday, "our reconnaissance registered a brief exchange of fire at the positions of the Ukrainian armed units," he said. 
"Our reconnaissance officers said in their reports that an unknown unit of commandos had stormed and seized a platoon-level fortified strongpoint set up by punitive expeditioners from a nationalistic battalion."
"That’s the first time since the outbreak of the conflict that we see an operation of this kind conducted on Kiev’s side in an area adjoining the frontline."
"(T)he unit that stormed the positions of the Ukrainian punitive battalion used silent killer weapons that didn’t belong to the Kalashnikov family of assault rifles and was obviously manufactured by a Western company."
It's unclear who ordered the operation. Basurin thinks Kiev will blame Donbass freedom fighters - maybe as a pretext for escalated fighting.
On Wednesday, Basurin cited intelligence information indicating Kiev plans large-scale provocations coinciding with May 8 and 9 Victory in Europe commemorations - including shelling residential Donbass areas.
He explained numerous previous times about Kiev forces building up aggressively along the contact line - in brazen violation of Minsk.
Now he's "referring to the use heavy artillery and jet propulsion systems with considerable destructive potential that could lead to mass civilian casualties."
If DPR intelligence is correct, expect Kiev aggression on the 70th anniversary of when it ended in May 1945 - Victory in Europe over the scourge of Nazism.
Reemerged in Europe's heartland - risking setting the whole continent ablaze again, potentially with nuclear weapons if Washington attacks Russia.
The worst of all possible outcomes could follow. Humanity destroying war was never more possible than now. Power-crazed lunatics in Washington may risk the unthinkable.
A Final Comment
America's propaganda machine never rests. On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest lied saying:
"Unfortunately, we see that the Russians continue to fail to live up to the obligations they have made in the context of the Minsk agreements."
Fact: The whole world know Russia scrupulously observes Minsk terms to the letter.
Fact: Washington and Kiev blatantly violate them daily.
Earnest outrageously claimed Kiev's "clear willingness" to observe Minsk. Clear evidence proves otherwise.
Washington and rogue EU partners support and encourage its naked aggression against its own citizens. 
Donbass self-defense forces vow to continue resisting to live free from the scourge of fascism.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Washington Blocks Security Council Action on Vital Yemeni Humanitarian Needs

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 21:17
Washington Blocks Security Council Action on Vital Yemeni Humanitarian Needs
by Stephen Lendman
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Yemen is Obama's war - another atrocity on his rap sheet affecting an entire country and its 25 million people in dire need of humanitarian aid to survive.
Saudis and rogue regional allies are convenient US proxies - carrying out orders from Washington. They'd never attack another Arab country without America's OK, urging and support.
Washington and Riyadh imposed air and sea blockade on Yemen - a blatantly illegal act on top of US planned and orchestrated naked aggression against an independent country posing no threat to others.
Russia called for an immediate ceasefire, an urgency to address humanitarian crisis conditions and dialogue among all sides to end fighting.
During a Friday emergency closed-door Security Council session on Yemen it called, Washington blocked its initiative.
Obama launched war. He deplores peace. He wants conflict escalated. 
He wants blockade conditions maintained. He wants Yemenis starved to death or perishing from untreated wounds.
He wants no consideration whatever given to addressing essential to life humanitarian needs.
Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin expressed frustration saying "(t)his really shows an amazing lack of understanding of how things are evolving."
"If you can't agree to a (responsible) motherhood and apple pie statement, what can you agree on?"
Churkin pointed fingers at Washington adding:
"Clearly, they need to feel their responsibility since they are supporting the bombing of the coalition, the responsibility of the humanitarian consequences."
Saudi-led airstrikes and blockade are lawless. No Security Council resolution authorized them.
"It is very clear from resolution 2216 that it did not authorize the use of military force," Churkin explained. 
"Some colleagues were saying that the Saudi-led coalition is trying to make sure that resolution 2216 is implemented. This is not the case. Their action is completely outside the resolution."
Among other provisions, it banned supplying Houthis with weapons. It did nothing to stop Washington and Riyadh from arming forces fighting them - including thousands Saudi recruited takfiri terrorists.
On Thursday, an ineffective UN statement without teeth "call(ed) on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies and their partners have safe and reliable access to bring aid workers and supplies into Yemen and to deliver aid to millions of people in need."
"All airports are closed to civilian traffic - some have come under direct attack - and naval shipments are being delayed." 
"Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems and telecommunications services are on the brink of collapse."
Yemen faces an acute shortage of food, clean water, medical supplies and other essentials to life.
US-initiated/Saudi-led aggression bears full responsibility. In mid-April, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said food reserves in Yemen were fast running out. Millions of Yemenis face possible starvation. 
The ICRC reported an alarming shortage of virtually everything needed to sustain life.
Its surgical team had to abandon Aden's Al Jamhouria hospital when Saudis terror-bombed it. ICRC's Cedric Scheizer issued a statement saying:
"We are shocked by the lack of respect for the hospital, as a neutral health facility, by the fighting parties."
"Under no circumstances should this be happening, and under no circumstances should hospitals be targeted or used for fighting purposes." 
"Our team had been working in that hospital for three weeks but, after all the patients and staff were put at risk, the hospital had to be vacated."
Washington supplies Riyadh with targets to strike. They include hospitals, residential neighborhoods, schools, mosques, power facilities, food storage areas and civilian infrastructure - blatant illegal acts.
Sanaa's Al Kuwait Hospital administrator Issa Alzugh said "(w)e are facing tremendous logistical difficulties in trying to keep this hospital working."
"We are running out of diesel. Our ambulances can no longer transport patients. Only half of our staff can come to work as the hospital buses have stopped running."
Dr. Zine El Abidine said severe shortages of lifesaving supplies are crippling operations.
An entire country is on the brink of collapse. Appalling human suffering affects millions.
On Friday, thousands of Yemenis protested in Sanaa. They chanted anti-US/Saudi/Israeli slogans.
Women, children and elderly participants addressed the huge crowd. It was the second mass protest since mid-April - organized by Yemen's Supreme Revolutionary Council.
On Friday, Saudis terror-bombed an area 200 meters from Russia's Sanaa embassy - perhaps a shot across the bow. Its diplomats remain in Sanaa.
Its embassy is official Russian territory. Saudis perhaps sent a message indicating a future strike won't miss.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Washington's full support for Saudi terror-bombing. 
Claiming Riyadh is "reacting to legitimate concerns…about the security situation along their border" is a brazen Big Lie.
US-planned, sponsored and orchestrated naked aggression continues - endless war against 25 million Yemenis, genocide by any standard.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
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. 

Yesterday's USA Freedom Markup: A Glimpse into the Fight to Reform Section 702

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 12:12

The 2015 version of the USA Freedom Act, HR 2048/S.1123 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week, with a vote of 25 ayes and 2 noes. The Committee did not pass any amendments to the legislation. But the markup discussion revealed a lot about where the House Judiciary Committee stands when it comes to reforming Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the key authorities that the government claims as justification for mass surveillance.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte explained why he and others voted against all amendments:

The legislation before us today was painstakingly and carefully negotiated not just amongst members of this committee, but with our colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee and the intelligence community… We must not pass amendments that will be a poison pill to the success of these reforms.

Rep. Goodlatte made it clear that he wanted to pass the bill as is to preserve a carefully crafted compromise. In fact, he and other supporters of USA Freedom on the Committee repeatedly noted that they supported certain amendments in theory, but could not vote for them because of their concern about making the legislation impossible to pass.

We think it’s important to take note of what they supported and what they didn’t. When these issues come up again, either around another piece of legislation or another reauthorization fight, we hope that you’ll join us in holding these lawmakers accountable.

Ultimately, the lack of amendments was a mixed blessing because it blocked both bad and good changes. A data retention amendment from Rep. Steve King that would have authorized the government to enter into agreements with telecoms and compensate those telecoms to store data was on the table.

Rep. Goodlatte spoke favorably about the amendment, but made it clear that he couldn’t support it because “data retention issues are controversial, and inclusion of this amendment will most certainly prevent consideration of this bill” on the House and Senate floor.[1] We’ve long been concerned about data retention, so we’ll be following this issue closely.   

Unfortunately, there were also some important amendments that would’ve strengthened a piece of legislation that we see as only a first, small step in the right direction— one that has serious faults that could have been partially addressed by these changes.

In particular, we were closely watching an amendment that aimed to cut funding to NSA “backdoors” from Rep. Ted Poe, which mirrored the language in an amendment to the 2014 Department of Defense appropriations bill. As Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who also introduced the similar Secure Data Act of 2014 with Sen. Ron Wyden, explained:

we have said that the bill would end bulk collection, but without addressing 702, I do not think it is correct that we will be ending bulk collection.

The amendment would have addressed two types of NSA backdoors. First, it attempted to end the practice known as "backdoor searches.” The NSA collects contents of communications under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Even though it’s ostensibly used for foreign targets, Section 702 surveillance sweeps up the communications of Americans, and the NSA has acknowledged that it searches this information without a warrant for the communications of Americans. The amendment that did not pass yesterday attempted to prohibit this practice except in a few limited situations.

The amendment also addressed the NSA’s backdoor into products and services. Leaked documents have shown that the NSA, with the help of the FBI, has sought backdoors into products and services, from encryption software to online communications tools like Skype. While the government claims that these backdoors would only be accessible to them, tech companies and security experts have made it very clear that security backdoors make products and services, and by extension the Internet, less secure for everyone. Yet both the FBI and NSA Directors have recently urged companies to install security "backdoors" into hardware or software, even while American businesses continue to suffer reputational harm overseas and even lose business.

Ultimately, the amendment failed 9-24.[2] Rep. John Conyers echoed Rep. Goodlatte’s comments on the compromise represented by the legislation in explaining his no vote:

 Any amendment to this compromise threatens to stop this legislation dead in its tracks. This is not mere speculation. House leadership had all but assured us that if the bill is amended, it will not be considered on the House floor.

However, Rep. Conyers and others who voted against the amendment expressed clear support for what the amendment would have done. Rep Goodlatte noted, “this committee will exercise its jurisdiction on this and soon. We will hold a hearing on this . . .” Echoing Rep. Goodlatte’s sentiments, Rep. Darrell Issa noted:

If I get an opportunity to vote for it on a bill that cannot be blown up by the House leadership and/or the Senate, I will vote for it, and I think that is what we need to do.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner also said that he supports the policy, but stated, “The time and the place to do this is when Section 702 comes up for reauthorization.” The sentiment that the FISA Amendments Act expiration is the right time for 702 reform was echoed by several others as well. But the FISA Amendments Act doesn’t expire until December 31, 2017.  We don’t think reform to this unconstitutional spying bill should wait that long.  

Other amendments garnered far less discussion. An amendment from Rep. Paul Labrador would have narrowed the authority for “emergency production of tangible things” provided by Section 102 of USA Freedom. The amendment would’ve defined an emergency situation as one “involving the potential for imminent death or bodily harm to any person,” in order to ensure that emergency authority is only used in true emergencies.   

Rep. Lofgren offered an amendment that would have strengthened whistleblower protections “for both intelligence community employees and contractors,” and “provides two more pathways for whistleblowers to report wrongdoing” Finally, Rep. Jim Jordan offered an amendment that would have created “the office of constitutional advocate.”

Ultimately, regardless of what happens with USA Freedom, we look forward to fighting for Section 702 reform in Congress. For now, we agree with Rep. Sensenbrenner’s statement at the hearing:

Knowing what we know now, a straight reauthorization is an express vote in favor of bulk collection on Americans.

If you think so too, take action by going to Fight215.org.  


[1] The yes votes on this amendment were Representatives Gohmert, King, Jordan, and Poe.

[2] The yes votes were Representatives Gohmert, Jordan, Poe, Labrador, Buck, Lofgren, DelBene, Jeffries, and Cicilline. Additionally, Representatives Ratcliffe, Issa, Conyers, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Jackson Lee, and Nadler all made clear statements that they support the policy changes the amendment would have made. We’ve taken note, since we’ve long been pushing for reform to Section 702 and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. 


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Run a Wi-Fi Network? HBO and Showtime Want You to Police Your Users

eff.org - Sat, 02/05/2015 - 09:49

Two men are going to fight this weekend, and HBO and Showtime have already thrown the first punch in the legal fight over online streaming of the match. Taking advantage of an increasingly abused loophole in copyright law, they have just won a court order requiring a host of third parties to block access to sites that may stream the fight. In other words, if you run a Wi-Fi network (for example, you’re a coffee shop) and someone may use your network to watch the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight via unauthorized sources, HBO and Showtime think they can force you to block your customers’ access.

HBO and Showtime are relying on part of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 411(c), that allows a broadcaster to file a “pre-emptive” suit to stop planned infringing streams. As part of that lawsuit, a would-be copyright owner can ask for an injunction to prohibit the anticipated infringement. With respect to the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight, HBO and Showtime asked for, and got, a court order to prevent two websites from carrying out their purported plan to show the fight without authorization. In the lawsuit, they asked the court to issue an injunction against boxinghd.net, sportship.org, and those who are in “active concert or participation with them.”

But that’s not the worrisome bit. HBO also persuaded the Court to order “all service providers whose services will enable or facilitate Defendants’ anticipated infringement [] to suspend all services with respect to Defendants’ Infringing Websites, including all registrars, hosts, name servers, site acceleration providers, providers of video delivery resources, and providers of computer and network resources through which video transits.”  In other words, any service provider who gets this court order has to “suspend all services” with respect to the enjoined websites—even though they never had a chance to weigh in.

You may not feel much sympathy for the websites in question. But this kind of site-blocking, without real legal process, is essentially one of the worst parts of the ill-conceived, long-dead Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being brought in through the courtroom back door. HBO got an order to block content against those who act as intermediaries, even though they have nothing to do with the alleged illegality of the sites, are simply providing normal business services, and almost surely had no notice that they were about to be enjoined.

This is not the way our legal system is meant to work, and the good news is that it actually doesn’t. Federal Rules only allow courts to issue injunctions against those who truly are in “active concert or participation” with bad actors. We doubt that those who offer hosting services and video delivery, without more, can properly be considered in “active concert or participation” with the unauthorized streamers.

Imagine if a court ordered the TV news not to talk to people who allegedly planned to commit defamation, or ordered libraries to not lend books that hadn’t even been published, or told art supply stores they had to make sure no one could make infringing art with their materials. This is the basically same thing. HBO and Showtime may find it convenient to get a court to order unwitting intermediaries to block content, rather than going after people who might actually infringe their rights. But getting a court to edit the Internet, without due process, take us down a dangerous path that the Internet soundly rejected back when it was called SOPA. We’re keeping a close eye on this new trend, because whatever name it has, pre-emptive Internet censorship is bad news.

Files:  showtime_v_john_doe_-_complaint.pdf showtime_v_john_doe_-_tro.pdfRelated Issues: SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist LegislationContent Blocking
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