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Senate Intelligence Committee Advances Terrible "?C?y?b?e?r?s?e?c?u?r?i?t?y?"? ?B?i?l?l? Surveillance Bill in Secret Session

eff.org - Fri, 20/03/2015 - 09:10

The Senate Intelligence Committee advanced a terrible cybersecurity bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) to the Senate floor last week. The new chair (and huge fan of transparency) Senator Richard Burr may have set a record as he kept the bill secret until Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the newest Senate Intelligence bill is one of the worst yet.

Cybersecurity bills aim to facilitate information sharing between companies and the government, but their broad immunity clauses for companies, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers make them secret surveillance bills. CISA marks the fifth time in as many years that Congress has tried to pass "cybersecurity" legislation. Join us now in killing this bill.

The newest Senate Intelligence bill joins other cybersecurity information sharing legislation like Senator Carper's Cyber Threat Sharing Act of 2015. All of them are largely redundant. Last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13636 (EO 13636) directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand current information sharing programs. In February, he signed another Executive Order encouraging regional cybersecurity information sharing and creating yet another Cyber Threat Center. Despite this, members of Congress like Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr continue to introduce bills that would destroy privacy protections and grant new spying powers to companies.

New Countermeasures and Monitoring Powers

Aside from its redundancy, the Senate Intelligence bill grants two new authorities to companies. First, the bill authorizes companies to launch countermeasures (now called "defensive measures" in the bill) for a "cybersecurity purpose" against a "cybersecurity threat." "Cybersecurity purpose" is so broadly defined that it means almost anything related to protecting (including physically protecting) an information system, which can be a computer or software. The same goes for a "cybersecurity threat," which includes anything that "may result" in an unauthorized effort to impact the availability of the information system.

Even with the changed language, it's still unclear what restrictions exist on "defensive measures." Since the definition of "information system" is inclusive of files and software, can a company that has a file stolen from them launch "defensive measures" against the thief's computer? What's worse, the bill may allow such actions as long as they don't cause "substantial" harm. The bill leaves the term "substantial" undefined. If true, the countermeasures "defensive measures" clause could increasingly encourage computer exfiltration attacks on the Internet—a prospect that may appeal to some "active defense" (aka offensive) cybersecurity companies, but does not favor the everyday user.

Second, the bill adds a new authority for companies to monitor information systems to protect an entity's hardware or software. Here again, the broad definitions could be used in conjunction with the monitoring clause to spy on users engaged in potentially innocuous activity. Once collected, companies can then share the information, which is also called “cyber threat indicators,” freely with government agencies like the NSA.

Sharing Information with NSA

Such sharing will occur because under this bill, DHS would no longer be the lead agency making decisions about the cybersecurity information received, retained, or shared to companies or within the government. Its new role in the bill mandates DHS send information to agencies—like the NSA—"in real-time." The bill also allows companies to bypass DHS and share the information immediately with other agencies, like the intelligence agencies, which ensures that DHS's current privacy protections won’t be applied to the information. The provision is ripe for improper and over-expansive information sharing.

Overbroad Use of Information

Once the information is sent to any government agency (including local law enforcement), it can use the information for reasons other than for cybersecurity purposes. The provisions grant the government far too much leeway in how to use the information for non-cybersecurity purposes. The public won’t even know what information is being collected, shared, or used because the bill will exempt all of it from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

In 2012, the Senate negotiated a much tighter definition in Senator Lieberman's Cybersecurity Act of 2012. The definition only allowed law enforcement to use information for a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an imminent threat of death, or a serious threat to a minor. The Senate Intelligence Committee's bill—at the minimum—should've followed the already negotiated language.

Near-Blanket Immunity

The bill also retains near-blanket immunity for companies to monitor information systems and to share the information as long as it's conducted according to the act. Again, "cybersecurity purpose" rears its overly broad head since a wide range of actions conducted for a cybersecurity purpose are allowed by the bill. The high bar immunizes an incredible amount of activity. Existing private rights of action for violations of the Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, and potentially the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would be precluded or at least sharply restricted by the clause. It remains to be seen why such immunity is needed when just a few months ago, the FTC and DOJ noted they would not prosecute companies for sharing such information. It's also unclear because we continue to see companies freely share information among each other and with the government both publicly via published reports, information sharing and analysis centers, and private communications.

A Fatally Flawed Bill

This fatally flawed bill must be stopped. It's not a cybersecurity, but a surveillance bill. And it can be voted on at any time. Get in touch with your Senator, tell them to vote no on the bill, and to not cosponsor the Senate Intelligence Committee's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014.

Related Issues: Cyber Security Legislation
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Biden Congratulates Poroshenko for Violating Minsk

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 20/03/2015 - 04:46
Biden Congratulates Poroshenko for Violating Minsk
by Stephen Lendman
Obama continues using Kiev junta proxies to wage war on Donbass. He's gone all-out to sabotage multiple peace efforts spearheaded by Russia.
He didn't wage war to quit. He's supplying Kiev with heavy weapons, munitions and other US aid.
US combat forces are in Ukraine working directly with its military. CIA and FBI operatives infest Kiev.
On March 18, Joe Biden called Poroshenko. He congratulated him for violating Minsk.
It calls for granting Donbass special status autonomous rule. Draft Kiev legislation designates it "temporarily occupied territories."
A White House statement said Biden "welcomed the (parliament's) adoption of implementing measures relating to the law on special status for certain areas of eastern Ukraine…"
He lied saying legislation adopted complies with terms stipulated under "September 2014 and February 2015 Minsk agreements." 
Kiev continues violating their letter and spirit with full US support and encouragement.
"The two leaders discussed the upcoming multinational training program for Ukraine’s (Nazi infested) National Guard forces, which the United States will support," the White House statement said.  
They 'agreed" on maintaining sanctions on Russia. They lied claiming they're in response to "Russia(n) violence and instability in" Donbass.
They concurred on pressuring "the international community…to increase the costs to Russia for pursuing such actions."
Sergey Lavrov responded saying Washington wants Ukrainian crisis conditions settled militarily.
Kiev's failure to grant Donbass special status violates its pledge to do so.
"If Washington welcomes the action, which undermines the Minsk agreements, then we can only conclude that Washington is inciting Kiev to resolve the issue by military means," Lavrov explained.
"The Ukrainian leadership…basically terminated their commitments to engage in direct dialogue and negotiate with south-eastern Ukraine, including on the issue of elections, on the implementation of the law on the special status…"
Russia's OSCE envoy Andrey Kelin accused Kiev of spurning conflict ending dialogue with Donbass.
"No lasting truce and sustainable ceasefire are possible without political settlement, and no such settlement is possible without dialogue," he said. 
"Kiev is categorically reluctant to speak with Donbas about political settlement. Last year's developments seem to be reoccurring."
"We saw it a year ago and it ended up, as we know, in Ukraine’s aggression against Donbas." 
"Kiev is seeking to fall into the same trap, arrogantly ignoring representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics."
"If they do not observe what has been agreed in Minsk after months of warfare, and Minsk agreements provide for a dialogue between the parties to the conflict to establish the DPR and LPR status, local elections in Donbas and normal political settlement, the risk (of attempts to solve the conflict by military means) considerably increases."
Kiev systematically breached previous peace initiatives straightaway. It ignores Minsk II provisions.
It wants total control over Donbass regained. It intends seizing it forcefully.
Illegitimate prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk explained it several times. Most recently on Wednesday unambiguously saying "(o)ur goal is to regain control of Donetsk and Lugansk."
Last April, naked aggression was launched to accomplish Kiev's objective. Low-intensity conflict continues - heading toward resuming full-scale war at Washington's discretion.
Expect it any time. Expect likely greater mass slaughter and destruction than before.
"We will fight using all method and techniques," said Yatsenyuk. Meaning no-holds-barred dirty war - using banned weapons, willfully targeting civilians, and committing other egregious crimes of war and against humanity.
Expect Russia and rebels blamed for US/Kiev crimes like earlier. Chances for peace are nil.
At risk is direct US/Russian confrontation. Fox News is one of many presstitute platforms promoting it. 
It features anti-Russian gun-slinging retired generals. Robert Scales told Fox the only way to change things in Ukraine is "start killing Russians."
A criminal case was opened against him in Russia under Article 354 of its Criminal Code.
He advocates cold-blooded murder. He's not alone. Active and retired US political and military officials want war on Russia.
Giving them national television air time increases the possibility. Lunatic fringe loose cannons infest Washington.
Retired General/former US army vice chief of staff Jack Keane wants US bases closer to Russia's borders.
Sanctions and provocative military exercises aren't enough, he says. He urges tougher actions.
"I think we’ve got to recognize that the security issues in Europe are no longer in Central Europe where our forces were post-WW2," he said. 
"The fact is they’re in Eastern Europe,  so we should realign our bases not on a temporary basis but on a permanent basis, put the air bases and the ground bases further into eastern Europe, move them out of Central Germany where they currently are."
"That'll cost some expense, but it's absolutely worth it in terms of letting Putin know clearly that those countries, those Baltic countries…matter to us."
"They are a part of NATO and we're not going to accept any challenge to them."
"This would send a really loud signal to them that clearly the security situation in Europe has changed."
"It’s recognition of those changes. It's a recognition of the intimidation and the threatening situation that is clearly developing."
Fact: America's only threats are ones it invents.
Fact: Eastern and Western European countries claiming Russian threats lie. None exist.
Fact: Positioning increasing numbers of US military combat troops near Russia's borders heightens chances for direct confrontation.
Fact: Washington deplores peace and stability. It goes all-out to avoid them.
Fact: Longstanding US policy calls for permanent wars on humanity.
Lunatics like Keane, Scales and likeminded crazies infest Washington. They may start WW III. They risk life ending nuclear war. 
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. 

Congress Must Pass FOIA Reform Legislation

eff.org - Fri, 20/03/2015 - 02:42

This week is Sunshine Week, an annual celebration to promote government transparency and access to information. As a public interest organization dedicated to these ideals, EFF continues to call on Congress to update the Freedom of Information Act, a key tool for citizens to obtain federal government records and to hold federal agencies accountable.

Two FOIA reform bills are pending in Congress. The Senate bill is the FOIA Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 337), which the Senate Judiciary Committee passed in February. The House bill, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015 (H.R. 653), has yet to be considered by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

An important aspect of both bills is that they narrow Exemption 5, which permits an agency to withhold inter-agency or intra-agency “pre-decisional” memos and other documents that reflect the agency’s “deliberative process” in reaching a final decision. Congress’ legitimate policy goal in enacting Exemption 5 was to permit some level of confidentiality in order to promote candor among agency employees.

Both bills create a time limit for documents withheld under Exemption 5, meaning that even if Exemption 5 technically applies to records, if the records are older than 25 years from the date of the FOIA request, the agency cannot withhold them from disclosure. The House bill goes a step further and requires disclosure of “records that embody the working law, effective policy, or the final decision of the agency.”

These reforms are important, particularly the language in the House bill, because Exemption 5 has been inappropriately used by many federal agencies to withhold documents that are arguably final decisions. The exemption has been used by the Justice Department, in particular, to withhold opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which is considered the authoritative source on how the Executive Branch interprets the law.

We lost a FOIA lawsuit last year that sought to obtain an OLC opinion that authorized the FBI’s use of “National Security Letters” to obtain citizens’ call logs without legal process and contrary to existing law. The ACLU and the New York Times won a similar lawsuit to obtain the OLC opinion authorizing the “targeted killing” of Americans only because the government had voided its ability to invoke Exemption 5 when it made various public statements about the targeted killing program.

One disappointing aspect of the FOIA reform bills is that they do not include a public interest balancing test for Exemption 5. Such language was originally included in the Senate bill last Congress, but it was stripped out at the last minute and not included in either bill this Congress. A public interest balancing test would require the disclosure of records if the public interest in doing so outweighs the agency’s interest in withholding the documents. This would give federal judges the power to order disclosure even if the agency appropriately invokes Exemption 5. The House bill does include language that directs the agencies to generally consider “whether the release of the records would be in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government.”

If FOIA made clear that agencies cannot withhold documents that reflect the “working law, effective policy, or the final decision of the agency,” and agencies and judges must consider the public interest in disclosure even if Exemption 5 technically applies, perhaps we would have won our lawsuit and the ACLU and New York Times would not have had to rely on unique facts to win their case. Without public access to OLC opinions, which have also authorized torture and warrantless wiretapping, the federal government creates a body of secret law, which is antithetical to a democratic society.

Notwithstanding the importance of narrowing the scope of Exemption 5, it is important to note that FOIA exemptions are generally discretionary, meaning that even if an exemption technically applies to a request, an agency has the discretion to disclose the records anyway. The FOIA reform bills would force greater transparency by codifying the Obama administration’s policy that agencies should implement FOIA under a presumption of openness and that records should only be withheld if the agencies can “reasonably foresee” harm from disclosure, not merely because an exemption technically applies. This would prohibit future administrations from shifting to a less transparent FOIA policy, which was the case with the last Bush administration.

The FOIA reform bills also strengthen the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), also known as the FOIA ombudsman, that works with requesters and agencies to resolve FOIA disputes in order to avoid costly litigation. Both bills clarify that OGIS can issue its annual report (with recommendations for how agencies can improve FOIA implementation) without obtaining prior approval from any other Executive Branch agency or office, which has been a problem in the past. The Senate bill also provides that OGIS can issue advisory opinions on disputes between requesters and agencies at anytime, either pursuant to its own discretion or a request from a party (current law only authorizes advisory opinions pursuant to OGIS’s discretion and after mediation fails).

Finally, both bills mandate the creation of a “consolidated online request portal” to provide the public with a “one-stop shop” for submitting FOIA requests to federal agencies, which is already underway by a few select agencies at FOIAonline.

While the FOIA reform bills could go further in improving FOIA implementation, they both offer meaningful changes that would enhance government transparency and advance the public’s right to know. We urge Congress to be true to the spirit of Sunshine Week and pass FOIA reform legislation as soon as possible.


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The Foilies Round 3: Ridiculous Redactions and Records Errata

eff.org - Fri, 20/03/2015 - 02:02

Government agencies sure love their black markers.

For transparency activists, receiving overly redacted documents is a guilty pleasure. Sure, we'd all prefer to have the records unmarred by secrecy (except for narrow occasions, such as when the black-outs legitimately protect people's privacy), but sometimes those redactions are the first indication that we've hit pay dirt. Other times, these redactions provide comic relief. 

In anticipation of Sunshine Week, EFF called for the public to submit the most absurd redactions they've seen for for The Foilies, our new “awards” for shenanigans in the Freedom of Information process. The big takeaway from the nominations we received: redactions can be unintentional conceptual art. 

Most Surreal Retirement Party  

Federal Bureau of Intelligence

USA Today reporter Brad Heath submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for documents related to a retirement party, to which he believed a certain controversial figure had been invited. Rather than just rejecting the record request altogether, to the agency's credit, the FBI's FOIA team went through the photos one by one, adding white squares to mask the faces of all the attendees in an admirable attempt to balance transparency and confidentiality. 

The result: a surreal photo album from the Blockhead family reunion. 

Worth noting for future redactors: faces are censored with boxes, but hugs and kisses on the cheek are censored with irregular hexagons. 

For the full batch, click here. For the just as hilariously redacted slideshow that was reportedly shown at the party, click here

Tiniest Font 

U.S. State Department 

We'll let ProPublica journalist T. Christian Miller explain the back story of this gem: 

This was a State Department cable returned as part of a request of all cables from the U.S. Embassy in Liberia to the State Department between 2005 and present. The cables were an important source of information in ProPublica and Frontline’s project called Firestone and the Warlord about how the iconic American tire company helped finance warlord Charles Taylor’s rise to power. In fairness, the State Dept. delivered only one cable in this format, with type so tiny I called it Lilliputian Font, maybe 4 pt in actual size. So it was probably an accident. But it was about the “worst forms of child labor in Liberia.” So who knows?

Most Ironic Literary Redaction

Tie: Ibrahim v. DHS opinion and Seattle Public Schools

Ask us to choose between Kafka and Orwell and you'll get a hung jury. But instead of throwing the case out, we're just going to split the foil down the middle.

The first is from an infamous "No Fly" case, in which a Malaysian professor, Rahinah Ibrahim, sued to get her name taken off the Department of Homeland Security's No Fly list, since it had wound up there by accident. After an eight-year battle, Ibrahim received a favorable decision from the judge last year. The version of the opinion made public was chockful of redactions, including this deliciously ironic one: 

(h/t Ars Technica)

Technically the second request was just a few days outside our cut off point, but we're making an exception because it's just too perfect to hold for another year. This one was nominated by Isaiah Earhart, a parent of a child in the Seattle Public Schools system, who was seeking information about administration of the school's robotics club in 2014. The text of the email was redacted under an attorney-client privilege exemption, but note the ironic signature quote:

Most Mysterious Mystery Meat

Chicago Public Schools

Monica Eng of WBEZ filed a records to learn what kind of ingredients make up school lunches fed to students. Chicago Public Schools came back with this frustratingly vague response:

Burlington County Times staff writer Sharon Lurye, who sent in this nomination, commented, "No need to worry about what's in the mystery meat in the cafeteria. These chicken nuggets are guaranteed to be made only from 100% chicken nuggets." According to Eng, the school district released the actual list of ingredients a few days later after the Illinois Attorney General got involved.

For other posts from The Foilies:

The Foilies Round 1: Foiled by the Process

The Foilies Round 2: Law Enforcement Accountability

The Foilies Round 4: Retaliation and Consequences

Related Issues: Transparency
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Britain Imprisons Migrants

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 20/03/2015 - 01:32
Britain Imprisons Migrants
by Stephen Lendman
Britain is like America - a fascist police state masquerading as a democracy. Tories and New Labour are two sides of the same coin. Lib Dems are no different.
They're allied with Washington's war machine. They serve powerful entrenched interests at the expense of all others.
They treat their most disadvantaged citizens disdainfully. Migrants seeking safe haven asylum are treated like criminals.
British media largely ignore what's ongoing. A March 3 London Independent report was a rare exception proving the rule.
It headlined "Immigration centres: Act now to overhaul Britain's 'shocking' detention of migrants indefinitely and in appalling conditions, say MPs."
It bears repeating. Britain is more police state than democracy. Abused migrants seeking life and liberty are "held for years" under conditions resembling "high-security prisons," the Independent reported.
Appalling treatment violates fundamental human rights. It's "catastrophic" for detainees' health and welfare.
Britain is the only EU country permitting longterm "locked up in limbo" with no right of appeal.
"Some lose hope and they try to kill themselves," said one detainee.
"Some try burning themselves with whatever they can get. Some try hanging themselves in the shower." Others slash their wrists.
"They think it's the only way out. I've seen this with my own eyes." 
"Detention is a way to destroy people. They do not kill you directly, but instead you kill yourself."
Thousands endure appalling treatment amounting to torture and other forms of abuse.
Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather chaired an inquiry into what's going on. People detained longterm suffer "intense psychological damage," she said.
Britain's repressive migrant detention system desperately needs a total overhaul.
"Medical conditions in some centres (are) so bad that some detainees (aren't) given treatment even after they tried to kill themselves," said the Independent citing parliament's report on migrant abuse.
Detainees are bullied, harassed, beaten and otherwise abused. 
UNHCR's Gonzalo Vargas Llosa said Britain's policy of "routinely detaining asylum-seekers for reasons of administrative convenience" violates fundamental human rights principles. 
"Detention is not only costly, but can have a lasting, detrimental impact on the mental and physical health of asylum-seekers."
Shami Chakrabarti heads the UK-based Liberty civil and human rights group. 
She calls Britain's "scandal(ous) detention system one of the greatest stains on the UK's human rights record in recent decades - a colossal and pointless waste of both public funds and human life."
A Cameroon detainee said "(w)hen I asked for protection, my rights were confiscated and I lost my freedom."
A Rwandan said "(y)ou are just a number, nothing. I attempted suicide twice."
A Ghanian said "(y)ou're left to rot. People just give up."
In 2013, Britain detained over 30,000 asylum seekers. They continue treating them like criminals.
RT International alone features regular reports on what's ongoing. US media ignore it entirely.
In February, RT discussed children imprisoned in UK immigration detention centers despite Whitehall's commitment to end the practice.
According to Refugee Council's Judith Dennis, "unaccompanied children arrive in the UK alone, frightened and often traumatized."
They're "thrown into adult detention centers" with no regard for their safety or welfare.
Last November, a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron from Oxford University's Amnesty International, nine heads of Oxford Colleges and 61 senior professors called detainee treatment "contrary to the spirit of democracy, the Human Rights Act, and the United Nations Convention on Refugees."
It said no one should be detained for administrative purposes "without trial, without time limit, without proper judicial oversight and with little chance of bail - and thus treated worse than criminals."
Oxford's Amnesty International president Jo Hynes said Britain "detains more migrants for longer and with less judicial oversight than any other country in Europe."
A former Ugandan asylum seeker told RT she "just wanted to die." She spent three months in detention.
She called conditions "horrendous." Guards "don't look at you as human beings. It's true when they say we are animals."
"Those (detained) without mental health issues end up with" them.
Over two-thirds of women in one detention facility are rape and torture survivors.
Detainees get so depressed, they stop eating, lose hope and want to die. Guards abuse women sexually.
Administrative assessments are made solely to determine who's fit for deportation back to countries detainees fled from fearing for their lives, safety and welfare.
RT reported on hundreds of asylum seeking detainees hunger striking for justice - protesting horrific conditions no one should have to endure.
A Harmondsworth detainee said "(m)ost (in the facility) are very angry. Two days ago two Pakistanis collapsed because they'd not had a meal" for days.
"We are not criminals. We are humans. We are not animals," he said.
Refugee Council's Lisa Doyle said "(i)t's hardly surprising that people imprisoned inside Britain’s detention estate are protesting."
"It’s extremely distressing for asylum seekers to be locked up when they haven’t done anything wrong with no release date in sight."
"Ministers must accept that the cat is out of the bag. Immigration detention is inhumane, expensive and inefficient." 
"If the government wants to prove it's serious about justice and protecting vulnerable people then it’s high time they consigned the whole system to the history books where it belongs."
Detainees listed grievances in a letter to Britain's Home Office. They complained of brutalizing treatment, inadequate healthcare and no legal help.
"Nobody's listening. Nobody defends us," said one detainee. "It's no humanity. They are treating us like we are animals or less than animals."
Thousands are detained under Britain's Detained Fast Track (DTF) system - established in 2002 to handle asylum seekers.
A damning parliamentary inquiry published days earlier discussed abusive, inhumane conditions in UK detention centers nationwide.
MPs called for detaining asylum seekers a maximum 28 days.
The Detained Voices web site publishes firsthand accounts of detainee mistreatment.
Comments include saying food served is inedible. Conditions are terrible.
Facilities are infested with rats and bed bugs. Cells are like cages. Nobody cares about people locked up inside.
Some die from mistreatment, lack of care or suicide. Many call conditions harsher than prison. At least there you know when you'll get out.
Detainees have no rights whatever. Most asylum seekers get deported back to home countries. Britain doesn't care if they live or die.
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. 

Israeli Election Postmortems

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 19/03/2015 - 20:10
Israeli Election Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman
Propaganda works. Israelis got the best electoral results fear-mongering can sell.
They bought smoke and mirrors deception about nonexistent threats. They voted overwhelmingly for right-wing fascist governance.
All parties significant enough to matter represent ideological extremism. Israel's political system is like America's.
It's too broken to fix. It represents white supremacist Jewish interests exclusively.
Netanyahu's Likud and Isaac Herzog/Tzipi Livni's Zionist Union are two sides of the same coin. Rhetoric and style alone separate them.
They both consider Palestinians subhumans. They want them ethnically cleansed or eliminated altogether.
They want their land stolen for exclusive Jewish development. They want them denied all rights afforded Jews.
Netanyahu's opposition to Palestinian statehood is no different from policies under all Israeli governments since 1948 - especially under nearly half a century of illegal occupation.
Zionist Union ideology matches Likud's extremism.  Its racist platform called for:
"Demilitarizing the Palestinian state, keeping the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty; strengthening Jerusalem and its status as the eternal capital of the State of Israel and ensuring religious freedom and access to the holy sites to all religions, along with maintaining Israeli sovereignty; resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem through the establishment of a Palestinian state and not within Israel."
Herzog and Livni are like all previous significant Israeli party leaders. They want Israel for Jews alone.
They want Palestinian land stolen for exclusive Jewish development. At most, they'd accept meaningless Palestinian statehood in name only - on isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland.
They want Palestinians effectively imprisoned on their own land. They want Gaza's blockade maintained.
They perpetuate the Big Lie about nonexistent Hamas terrorism. They want permanent apartheid worse than South Africa's.
They want unlimited settlement expansion. They deplore peace and stability.
Livni was one of the architects of Ehud Olmert's December 2008-January 2009 Operation Cast Lead war on Gaza.
Herzog criticized Netanyahu for not hitting Gaza hard enough last summer. He made a video titled "Netanyahu - weak against Hamas."
He said "(y)ou had to hit them on the head and on time. You failed. What accomplishment did you have in the war? Did you destroy Hamas? You strengthened Hamas."
Israeli polls showed around 95% Jewish support for Operation Protective Edge's mass slaughter and destruction. It bears repeating. Propaganda works.
Likud, Zionist Union, and other significant Israeli parties represent its dark side - white Jewish supremacist, racist and Islamophobic.
Netanyahu's thuggishness best represents it. Israelis are stuck with leadership no legitimate civil society would accept - governance of, by and for its privileged few alone.
New York Times editors justifiably criticized Netanyahu's racism. They called his campaign rhetoric "desperate and craven."
He "long (ago) convinced many people that he has no interest in a peace agreement," they said. His public rejection of Palestinian statehood "laid bare his duplicity…"
His "demagoguery further incite(d) the rage that has torn the country apart. (He) resorted to fear-mongering and anti-Arab attacks while" ignoring bread-and-butter issues Israelis want addressed.
Herzog/Livni are as hardline as Netanyahu. Leaders come and go. Names and faces change. 
Dark side Israeli politics remains unchanged. Don't expect New York Times editors to explain.
Or Washington Post ones. WaPo editors headlined "Who loses as Netanyahu wins?"
Saying the price of victory "could be further degradation of Israel's relations with European governments and the Obama administration and a dangerous standoff with the Palestinian Authority."
Obama so far failed to congratulate Netanhayu. It's well known both leaders dislike each other.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said "(t)he president at this point has not telephoned Prime Minister Netanyahu."
"(B)ased on (his) comments, the United States will reevaluate our position and the path forward" on issues relating to Palestinian statehood and peace process discussions.
Earnest said the White House was "deeply concerned by (Netanyahu's) divisive rhetoric…"
WaPo editors irresponsibly blamed Palestinians as much as Netanyahu for failing to achieve peace.
Decades of stillborn discussions show it's the greatest diplomatic scam in modern memory.
WaPo editors turned a blind eye to decades of militarized Israeli rule. Not a word about lawless occupation, settlement construction, institutionalized racism and ruthless persecution.
They lied about nonexistent Iranian "aggression." They expressed concerns about the ability of an Israeli leader to campaign against a US president and win reelection.
"That doesn't bode well for either US-Israeli relations or for Mr. Obama's ability to achieve his goals in the Middle East," they said.
They ignored US regional wars of aggression against independent governments - to eliminate Israeli rivals and achieve unchallenged US hegemony.
WaPo's outspoken neocon Charles Krauthammer praised what he called Netanyahu's "Churchillian warning" of a nonexistent Iranian threat.
No legitimate editors would touch his rubbish. WaPo editors feature it - hyping Big Lies about what he calls "ramped up (Iranian) aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza an Yemen."
Shamelessly claiming Tehran "defie(s) the world on uranium enrichment." Entirely ignoring Israel's illegal nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenals.
Praising Netanyahu instead of rebuking him. Ignoring US and Israeli intelligence saying Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful - with no military component. Don't expect racist neocons to explain.
Hard-right Wall Street Journal editors gloated over what they called Netanyahu's "remarkable personal triumph."
They lied about Palestinians rejecting "reasonable" peace offers. They disgracefully call Palestine's legitimate Hamas government a "terror group."
They ludicrously claimed Israeli history shows it's "will(ing) (to) take risks for peace…" All Israeli regimes from inception categorically rejected it.
Israel consistently blames Palestinians for its high crimes. So do Journal editors. 
They hype the Big Lie about "Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction…"
Israel's only enemies are ones it invents. None existed since 1973. 
Don't expect Journal editors to explain - or tell how all Israeli governments allied with America threaten world peace.
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. 

EFF Asks PTO to Stop Issuing Abstract Software Patents

eff.org - Thu, 19/03/2015 - 06:06

The Supreme Court took a major step in cutting back on abstract software patents last June when it issued its landmark ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. In essence, the court said that abstract ideas implemented by conventional computer process are not eligible for patent protection. Since then, the PTO has attempted to write guidance applying the law to pending patent applications. Unfortunately, the PTO has floundered and continues to grant far too many invalid patents. This week EFF filed public comments asking the Office to do more to ensure its examiners apply the new law.

In our comments, we criticize the PTO’s latest statement on Alice. The main problem with the PTO’s interim guidance on patent eligibility is that it doesn’t really provide much guidance. Faced with the challenge of applying recent rulings, the Office simply summarizes a series of court decisions without explaining how examiners should apply them to new applications. Even worse, the PTO has included some old decisions from lower courts that are, at the very least, questionable law after Alice.

We think the PTO should instead focus on explaining how Alice has changed the law. Most important is to emphasize to examiners that abstract ideas and functions implemented by conventional computer processes are no longer patent eligible. Prior Federal Circuit authority held that a programmed general purpose computer was a patent-eligible machine. That is no longer the law.

Our comments identify a number of recently-issued patents that should not have been granted after the Alice ruling. For example, US Patent No. 8,978,130 was just issued and is basically a patent on getting parental permission (but over a computer with authorization codes). Figure 7 from this patent is shown here. Back in 2013, the examiner rejected a number of the proposed claims writing: “Examiner advices [sic] the applicant to add hardware (i.e., micro-processor or computer processor) to the claim language.” Under now-overruled law, it was often enough to simply tack on generic hardware to save an abstract software patent claim. Alice changed that. Nevertheless, the examiner never revisited the eligibility issue and allowed the patent.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Alice will only help if the PTO applies it diligently. Even bad patents are useful to trolls as litigation weapons since they are so expensive to overturn. To cut the problem off at the source, we need the PTO to stop the flood of invalid software patents.

Files:  EFF Comments Regarding Interim Eligibility GuidanceRelated Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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Categories: Aggregated News

Western Lunatics Risk NUclear War

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 19/03/2015 - 05:37
Western Lunatics Risk Nuclear War
by Stephen Lendman
Washington's rage for world dominance may kill us all. Nazi lunatics they installed in Ukraine may set the whole continent ablaze.
They're furiously rearming, regrouping and mobilizing for greater war. They'll launch it any time at Washington's discretion.
Stop NATO's Rick Rozoff reports US-dominated NATO trains for air war in Europe.
US Army Europe's "Freedom Shock" can deploy troops, weapons and equipment anywhere in Europe quickly.
Training and other exercises can become real combat any time following Pentagon orders.
US-dominated NATO prepares for European war. Gunslinger generals may start WW III. 
Supreme Alliance commander US General Philip Breedlove's loose talk about nonexistent Russian aggression making things "worse every day" in Ukraine promotes war, not peace.
His number two matches his bellicosity. Deputy NATO commander General Adrian Bradshaw lied saying:
"Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine demonstrated the readiness of Russia to begin a process of change in the sovereign borders of sovereign states by force, which was a major deviation from internationally accepted legal norms."
"This would have implications…for all EU member states of the Alliance, particularly those of the eastern flank." 
"We need to show clearly that we are steadfast in that we stand behind the provisions of Article 5."
It considers a real or contrived attack on one member an attack on all. It calls for collective self-defense.
"Our response so far has been entirely defensive," said Bradshaw.
It's "necessary to assure our allies, especially those from the Eastern flank that we stand firmly behind the principles laid down in Article 5, (and) will not allow aggression by a state to any of our allies."
NATO's only threats are ones it invents. It's Eastern European buildup risks direct confrontation with Russia - a possible unthinkable war between the world's most formidable nuclear powers.
Putin readies Russia for what hopefully won't be necessary. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered Northern Fleet (NF) forces to full alert combat readiness exercise drills.
"The(ir) main task…is to assess (NF) capabilities in fullfulling tasks in providing military security of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region," said Shoigu.
Exercises include 38,000 military personnel, 3,360 pieces of equipment, 41 ships, 15 submarines, and 110 warplanes and helicopters
"New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the Armed Forces, and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging" of Northern Fleet forces, said Shoigu.
Land, air and sea exercises began on March 16. They continue through March 21.
Russia is preparing to repel potential aggression on all its borders. 
All branches of its military are conducting major exercises nationwide - including in the Volga region, Urals, Western Siberia, Far East and Pacific, North Caucasus, and along NATO bordering states from the Arctic to the Black Sea.
Given US belligerence, Russia intends to be ready for any eventuality. It may need to respond quickly.
Overall current exercises involve about 76,000 troops, over 10,000 military hardware pieces and special equipment, 65 warships, 16 support vessels, 15 submarines, 200 warplanes and various type helicopters.
Last December, Russia's Defense Ministry announced plans for at least 4,000 military exercises this year - a massive undertaking given Washington's threat to world peace.
Media scoundrels promote war. Neocon Washington Post editors are some of the worst.
It featured neocon Joshua Muravchik's op ed promoting war on Iran. Maybe he plans a follow-up one urging Washington nuke Russia.
He outrageously calls Iran "violent, rapacious, devious and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States."
Not a shred of evidence supports his bluster. Claiming Iran continues pursuing "its quest for nuclear weapons" is polar opposite US and Israeli intelligence publicly stated assessments.
Muravchik ignored them. "What is Netanyahu to do," he asked? Lunatics like him want war.
He claims it's the best alternative to sto Iran from gaining what it doesn't have or want.
He outrageously calls its government "akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world."
"A nuclear arsenal…would vastly enhance (its) power to achieve that goal," he absurdly claims.
Iran hasn't attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now. It supports regional peace, stability and mutual cooperation.
America, Israel and rogue Arab states alone threaten regional security.
Giving lunatics like Muravchik feature op-ed space shows WaPo editors support his ideological extremism - including naked aggression on a nation threatening no one.
"Sanctions have never stopped a nuclear drive anywhere," Muravchik blustered.
"Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes," he claims. "The United States would have to make clear that it will hit wherever and whenever necessary to stop Iran's program."
Forget about deals and sanctions, he urges. Another US war against another independent country threatening no one is his solution to maintaining US regional hegemony.
It bears repeating. Maybe his next op-ed will urge nuclear war on Russia. Maybe likeminded lunatics infesting Washington have that in mind.
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 Rejects Minsk Mandated Donbass Self-Rule

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 18/03/2015 - 22:39
Kiev Rejects Minsk Mandated Donbass Self-Rule
by Stephen Lendman
Minsk II terms Kiev agreed to mandated parliamentary legislation affording Donbass "special regime" self-rule within 30 days of the document's February 12 signing.
Kiev missed the deadline. On March 17, it reneged. It passed draft legislation only. 
It declared Donetsk and Lugansk "temporarily occupied territories."
It refused special autonomous status. It postponed entering the law into force until elections are held. 
The Donetsk News Agency quoted Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) parliament speaker Denis Pushilin saying:
"Uncoordinated amendments to the law made by Poroshenko are not recognized by the (DPR and LPR) republics."
"From our point of view, (amendments passed) are legally meaningless and politically void."
"(T)hey directly violate the spirit and word of the Minsk agreements. The Minsk process is practically interrupted as its basis - the law on special status - is in fact cancelled by Poroshenko’s amendments." 
"He does not respect the people of Donbas. He does not want peace."
DRP and LPR leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and igor Poltnisky respectively called Kiev's action "disgraceful." 
They urged Merkel and Hollande to pressure Kiev to comply with what it agreed to.
An LPR Information Center added:
"By refusing to give Donbass its special status, Kiev shattered the fragile Minsk peace and drove the situation into a dead-end." 
"Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk cynically laughed at their partners from the EU, who wasted so many efforts for these negotiations." 
"The leaders of the DPR and the LPR say that no compromise with Kiev is possible until yesterday's decisions by Poroshenko and the Verkhovnaya Rada (parliament) are cancelled."
Kiev left no doubt where it stands. It wants war, not peace. It used Minsk to buy time, rearm, regroup and mobilize for more war. It violated its letter and spirit straightaway.
Failure to grant Donbass autonomous special status renders Minsk null and void. A state of war continues.
On March 16, Russia's Foreign Ministry rebuked Kiev sharply, saying:
"Proposals on identifying several districts in the Donentsk and Lugansk regions to be granted a special self-government status, which President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, arouse serious questions and concerns."
"At all stages in the negotiations within the Contact Group and the Normandy Four, the parties referred solely to Kiev identifying the concrete territories where the Law on the Temporary Procedure for Local Self-Government in Certain Districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, which has already been approved by the Verkhovna Rada, will be applied." 
"This approach has been fixed in the documents coordinated in Minsk on February 12, 2015, and endorsed by the representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as by Russia, Germany, France and the OSCE."
"In violation of this commitment, the proposals that President Poroshenko has submitted to the Verkhovna Rada are changing the very essence of the Package of Measures adopted in Minsk, making the enactment of the said law conditional on a number of additional requirements that have never been discussed before." 
"In particular, it has been attempted to make the introduction into force of this law conditional on recognising the results of elections to local governments in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the organisation of which is stipulated by an ultimatum and beset with numerous demands that were not envisaged by the Minsk Agreements." 
"The proposals totally disregard the provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which state that the modalities of local elections, like the future status of certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, should be subject to dialogue with the representatives of Donbass."
"These actions by the Kiev authorities are yet another evidence of its policy of undermining the Minsk process, which is already manifested in its appeals to the West to step up weapon deliveries to the Ukrainian military, its constant threats to solve the Donbass problem by force of arms, and its stubborn unwillingness to create within the Contact Group the working mechanisms for the implementation of all aspects of the Minsk Agreements, including a constitutional reform and full restoration of socio-economic ties." 
"Instead, Kiev continues to intensify the blockade of Donbass, ruthlessly restricting the contacts between residents of areas controlled by the self-defence forces and the rest of Ukraine as well as their trans-border ties with regions of the Russian Federation in direct violation of provisions fixed in the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements."
"The developments confirm that the Ukrainian leadership has set the course for renouncing the key principle of the Minsk process, which consists in addressing all issues of settlement in consultations and by coordination with the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk." 
"Against this background, it is hard to call President Poroshenko’s March 16 statement in Berlin to the effect that 'there is no alternative to the Minsk Agreements' other than hypocritical."
"We are calling on the guarantors of these Agreements - the leaders of Germany and France - to urge their strict implementation, including honest compliance with the content and sequence of actions coordinated in the February 12 documents."
"The Kiev authorities should meticulously abide by their commitments and start a real political dialogue with the representatives of Donbass on all aspects of Ukrainian crisis settlement."
Separately, Sergey Lavrov said Kiev "grossly violate(d)" Minsk. He called on Germany and France to issue a joint demarche indicating Kiev breached its terms.
He expressed serious doubts where things go from here.
Since Kiev launched naked aggression on Donbass last April, efforts to end fighting failed.
Chances of Minsk II succeeding are virtually nil. Kiev initiated low-intensity conflict persists. 
Kiev continues rearming. It's just a matter of time before full-scale conflict resumes.
Washington's dirty hands are manipulating things in this direction. Kiev violated virtually everything it agreed to.
Tuesday's legislation breaching Minsk is the latest example. Expect no "party of war" peace initiatives ahead.
LPR military staff office head Sergey Kozlov reported junta forces building strength near front line positions - a clear indication of preparing for more conflict.
Poroshenko Bloc leader Yuriy Lutsenko claims full-scale war with Russia may erupt this spring.
"There are far more threats to Ukraine than just (the Donbass) gray zone," he said.
"We are in danger of a full-scale military conflict which may be started by Russia at the end of April or May." 
"Intelligence information and analysis indicate a large concentration of armored and mechanized forces, their support formations, and greater activity by the Russian intelligence and reconnaissance." 
"This may be an indication that Putin, having failed at Plan A of separating the Russian-speaking part of the population and at Plan B of organizing a rebellion in Kiev, may launch Plan C of full-scale war."
War-mongering is standard Kiev practice. Is Lutsenko suggesting a possible major US/junta false flag blamed on Russia as pretext for resuming full-scale war on Donbass?
IMF billions are funding Kiev's war machine. It violated its own mandate prohibiting use of loans for military purpose.
Managing director Christine Lagarde lied saying "ceasefire agreed to last month in Minsk seems to be largely holding for now."
Days earlier, DPR and LPR reported over 400 shelling and other violations since February.
Multiple breaches occur daily. IMF rules are what Washington wants them to be. Low intensity war on Donbass heading toward getting red hot is ignored.
A Russian central banker/former IMF official commented, saying:
"(T)he Fund should not place military spending below the line. But if you try to nail the Fund down on that, you would be wasting your time." 
"The Fund has internationally-renowned expertise in doublespeak and hypocrisy." 
"What (it's) doing around Ukraine was at first laughable. Now (it's) outrageous." 
"No matter what, (it'll) keep financing the civil war in Donbass because the Americans want the fighting to continue and spread. Period."
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Chances for sustainable, durable peace in Donbass are virtually nil. 
Resumed full-scale conflict is just a matter of time - maybe this time bloodier and more destructive than before.
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. 

Netanyahu Wins

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 18/03/2015 - 18:22
Netanyahu Wins
by Stephen Lendman
Pre-election and exit polls were wrong. Netanyahu emerged a much stronger winner than predicted.
He'll likely be able to form a hard-right coalition and become Israel's first ever four-term prime minister.
Headlines explained:
New York Times: "Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections"
London Guardian: "Netanyahu claims 'great victory' after last minute surge in support"
Haaretz: "Netanyahu's Likud scores decisive victory in Israeli election"
Times of Israel: "Netanyahu scores crushing victory in Israeli elections"
Jerusalem Post: "Israeli elections take dramatic turn as official tally gives Likud sweeping victory"
Pre-election polls had Isaac Herzog/Tzipi Livni's Zionist Union winning 24 of 120 Knesset seats to Likud's 20.
Exit polls showed a dead heat. Final results surprised with Likud winning 30 seats to Zionist Union's 24.
The Joint (Arab) List party finished third with 14 seats. Yesh Atid got 11, Kulanu 10, Bayit Yehudi 8, Shas 7, United Torah Judaism 6, Yisrael Beytenu 6, and Meretz 4. 
Early Wednesday morning, Herzog conceded. He congratulated Netanyahu on winning. He told reporters:
"I wished him luck, but let it be clear, the problems are the same problems. Nothing has changed."
Zionist Union will continue serving as "an alternative in every area."
Final results will be announced Thursday morning. They'll include a record number of female MKs - 28 won seats, one more than the previous Knesset.
Turnout exceeded 70% of Israel's 5.9 million eligible voters. Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates.
Knesset seats are allocated according to the voting percentage participating parties win.
Netanyahu has up to six weeks to form new coalition governance.
Likud said he hopes it will include Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu, Aryeh Deri's Shas, and Yaakov Litzman's United Torah Judaism.
Combined would be a 67-seat Knesset majority -  six more than needed.
Reports indicated heavy Arab turnout hoping to oust Netanyahu. Joint (Arab) List party head Ayman Odeh called Tuesday "a historic day for the Arabs."
"Today we are giving our answer to racism and to those who want to exclude us," he said.
He ruled out participating in coalition governance. At the same time, he indicated keeping his cards close to his chest, saying:
"After the elections, we will listen to what Herzog has to say and then we will decide."
"The right wing has taken over, so I'm hoping the Arabs can be part of a bloc formed against Netanyahu."
Despite emerging as third largest Knesset party, Joint List has no say whatever under either a Netanyahu or Herzog-led coalition.
Believing otherwise is foolhardy. Israel's 20% Arab population is powerless, persecuted, and denied rights afforded solely to Jews. Election results changed nothing.
Israel is like America. Democracy is pure fantasy. Not a dime's worth of difference separates major parties on issues mattering most.
Voter choices are largely bad or worse. For Israeli Arab citizens and most Jews, Netanyahu or Herzog makes no difference.
Election results changed nothing. Government headed by either leader assures ugly business as usual. 
Both and likely coalition partners support: 
  • apartheid worse than South Africa's;

  • militarized occupation harshness; 

  • settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land;

  • war, not peace;

  • Arabs denied virtually all rights afforded Jews; and

  • continuation of decades if institutionalized racism.

Bottom line: Whenever things change in Israel they stay the same. It's been this way since 1948 - especially under nearly half a century of militarized occupation.
Netanyahu openly campaigned against Palestinian self-determination. 
Doing so and election day Facebook fear-mongering about "Arabs heading to the polls in masses" got him last minute support enough for decisive victory.
Fascists rule Israel. Left of center governance is too inconsequential to matter.
Israelis are as mindless as Americans. They have themselves to blame. 
Reelecting Netanyahu assures hardening extremist governance - ideologically over-the-top and then some.
Belligerence, state-sponsored terrorism, militarized occupation, racist persecution, settlement expansions, and neoliberal harshness reflect official policy.
Netanyahu is a world-class thug - a ruthless demagogue. He spurns rule of law principles. He abhors democratic values. 
He prioritizes stealing all valued Palestinian land. He deplores peace. He calls pursuing it a waste of time.
His likely coalition partners are militantly hardline, racist, anti-democratic, and offensive to all values progressives and civil libertarians hold dear.
On Tuesday, ugly business as usual triumphed. Right-wing extremist rule continues. Neoliberal harshness remains official policy.
Long denied justice for Palestinians hasn't changed. Israel's political system remains a blight on humanity. 
It's just a matter of time before more naked aggression erupts. Maybe war on Iran before Netanyahu's tenure ends.
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. 

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