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Huge Win for the Open Internet! FCC Officially Embraces Title II - Thu, 05/02/2015 - 03:51

Well done, Team Internet.  After a year of intense activism, we may have finally convinced the Federal Communications Commission to change course and craft clear, bright-line rules to protect the open internet, based on legal authority that will actually survive the inevitable legal challenge.

According to an op-ed published today in Wired, in a few weeks the FCC will vote on new rules that start with one crucial step: reversing the FCC’s 2002 decision to treat broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” This is what’s known as Title II reclassification. According to the highest court to review the question, the rules that we need to preserve the open internet — such as forbidding discrimination against certain applications — require the FCC to treat access providers like “common carriers, ” treatment that can only be applied to telecommunications services. Having chosen to define broadband as an “information service,” the FCC can impose regulations that “promote competition” (good) but it cannot stop providers from giving their friends special access to Internet users (bad). Nonetheless, in May of last year the FCC was still trying to stick with its original decision and, as a result, proposed rules that would actually have undermined the open internet. Millions of internet users spoke out against those rules and called for reclassification.  Today, we know our voices were heard.

This fight is far from over, however.  Reclassification is essential, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize: According to Chariman Wheeler, the new rules will be

“the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”

That sounds pretty good, but the devil is always in the details.  For example, will throttling be acceptable if ISPs claim it is being used to target copyright infringement? We’ll also want more details about the so-called “general conduct rule” that, Chairman Wheeler claims, “can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet.” While this flexible language may mean that we don’t have to mobilize millions of Internet users every time we need the FCC to address new threats, a “general conduct rule” could be abused by a future FCC.  We will be watching this one closely.

Fortunately, it appears that the FCC also heard us on another issue: the need for forbearance. Forbearance is crucial to net neutrality because it helps limit FCC regulation. Again, we need details, but we are encouraged that Chairman Wheeler plans to, as he put it, “modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks.”

As a practical matter, that likely means he will forbear from imposing many of the provisions in Title II that were developed for telephone service. Most of those rules just don’t make sense when we’re talking about Internet infrastructure. For example, there are rules about obscene phone calls, rate schedules, telephone operator services, carrier reporting requirements, etc., that could lead to a host of new problems if misapplied to our Internet. Forbearance is how we help ensure the FCC does what is necessary – and no more.

Today, we are celebrating. Chairman Wheeler’s announcement signals that the FCC is, at long last, making real progress on net neutrality. But the battle is not over. We need to ensure that the FCC rules will actually do what is needed to protect the open internet — and no more.


Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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Outrageous MSM Putin Bashing - Thu, 05/02/2015 - 02:13
Outrageous MSM Putin Bashing
by Stephen Lendman
Virtually all MSM sources march to the same drummer. Viciously, irresponsibly and disgracefully bashing Putin. 
Making unjustifiable accusations. Repeating them ad nauseam. Inventing new ones. Substituting Big Lies for hard truths.
Regurgitating Western propaganda. Accepting it as gospel. Including State Department daily disinformation briefings.
In Tuesday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki turned truth on its head raising "concern(s) about the (nonexistent) aggressive actions of Russia and Russian-backed separatists and the steps they're taking illegally in…Ukraine."
"We, of course…encourage the Ukrainians when they're fighting back and defending their own country, to take into account civilian casualties."
Fact check
Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Rogue EU partners share it. Involved in planning, implementing, funding, arming, and directing Kiev's aggressive war on Donbas.
Moscow supports peace, not war. No Russian aggression exists now or earlier. Donbas self-defense forces justifiably reject coup d'etat fascist rule. Challenging tyranny is a universal right.
Washington willfully targets civilians in all its wars. The vast majority of AfPak, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukrainian casualties are noncombatant men, women and children.
US officials show contemptuous disdain for human life and welfare. Obama's "grieving" for Jordanian warplane pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh is one of many examples of gross administration hypocrisy.
What about millions of corpses attesting to America's barbarity? Who "griev(es)" for them? Who cares how many more millions die?
Who in Washington believes ending wars matters most of all? Who does anything meaningful for peace? Who does everything to prevent it?
Who supports right over wrong? Rule of law principles. Nation-state inviolability. Governance of, by and for everyone equitably.
What MSM print or electronic journalists dare challenge official disinformation, distortions and Big Lies? 
Not a single profile in courage reports accurately on issues mattering most. Especially on war and peace.
Ukraine is Obama's crime. Donbas is his war. Using Kiev's military as proxy foot soldiers. Try finding a single MSM report explaining it accurately.
Propaganda rubbish substitutes. Stuff making knowledgeable viewers and readers gag. New York Times editors find new ways to embarrass themselves. Legitimate journalism isn't their long suit.
Putin continues going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution. He's a near voice in the wilderness among world leaders. Diplomatically in the forefront against war.
Committed to ending Donbas fighting. The only world leader supplying thousands of tons of essential to life humanitarian aid. 
Deserving high praise for doing the right things consistently. Not according to Times editors. Disgracefully turning truth on its head. Headlining "Mr. Putin Resumes His War in Ukraine."
Since when is waging peace "resum(ing) war?" Donbas fighting "flared up again," said Times editors. True enough short of pointing fingers the right way.
Instead claimed Putin "cranked up his direct support for the rebels (while) continuing to badly deny it and blame all the violence on the United States."
Don't expect Times editors to explain Kiev's aggression. Launched last April with full US support, encouragement, funding, direction and heavy weapons.
Instead irresponsibly blaming Putin and Donbas defenders for US/Kiev high crimes against peace. Rogue EU partners sharing it.
Times editors urge more sanctions, more war, less peace and stability, saying:
"(W)ith sanctions and diplomacy making no headway against (nonexistent) Russian aggression, it is imperative that the United States and its allies take a new look at what would bring Russia to a serious negotiation."
Putin's "goal" isn't annexing Ukrainian territory. Or waging war. Or confronting other countries belligerently.
He supports independent Ukrainian sovereignty free from US-dominated NATO membership or other affiliation.
Times editors absurdly claim he and Donbas self-defense forces "are carving out a permanent rebel-held enclave in eastern Ukraine,  a la Transdniestria, Abkhazia or South Ossetia…"
Washington "carv(ed) out a permanent" chokehold on its newest colony. Wanting unchallenged control of Ukrainian territory nationwide.
To be used as a launching pad for regime change in Russia. Along with economic and political war. Don't expect Times editors to explain.
Or Washington Post ones. Headlining "Raise the Stakes for Russia to deter its aggression in Ukraine."
WaPo editors want tougher US policies instituted in response "to the latest (nonexistent Russian) offensive…in eastern Ukraine.
"(I)ncluding…hundreds of modern tanks, artillery and antiaircraft systems in a campaign to expand rebel-held enclaves…"
"(T)he United States and its European Union allies must consider how to stop the ongoing military aggression in Ukraine and deter Mr. Putin from further adventures." 
"The clear answer is direct military support to the Ukrainian army."
Let's get this straight. Last April, Kiev launched premeditated naked aggression on Donbas. Clear evidence proves it. Washington has been directly involved throughout months of conflict.
Kiev's military deliberately shells hospitals, schools, residential neighborhoods, buses and other nonmilitary related targets.
its forces continue committing major crimes of war and against humanity. Wrongfully blamed on victims. Donbas freedom fighters' self-defense is groundlessly called terrorism.
Putin remains committed to peaceful conflict resolution. No Russian aggression exists now or earlier. No evidence suggests any planned. 
Or shows Moscow supplied weapons. Washington provides plenty. Heavy ones covertly throughout months of conflict.
Who's the good guy? Who's the villain? Who wants peace? Who wants war?  
Who deserves credit for wanting things resolved diplomatically? Who's responsible for preventing it? 
Waging proxy war to advance its imperium. Recklessly risking direct confrontation with Russia.
WaPo editors outrageously accused Russia for US/Kiev/EU allies' crimes. Disgracefully said Putin "stepped up his (nonexistent) aggression in the absence of a military response."
Barely stopped short of urging US war on Russia. Wants "the cost" to Moscow "sharply raised - and quickly."
The madness driving this type editorial policy may end up launching WW III.
London's Guardian sounds like Fox News. Or Pentagon propaganda. Headlining "Putin must be stopped. And sometimes only guns can stop guns."
Highlighting the Big Lie about "his (nonexistent) drive to carve out a puppet para-state in eastern Ukraine."
You can't make this stuff up. Not a shred of evidence supports the Guardian allegations.
They get worse saying "(w)ake up Europe. If we have learned anything from our own history, Putin must be stopped."
"Diplomacy's time will come again, but…not now." Impose stiffer sanctions, said the Guardian.
He's "prepared to use every instrument at his disposal, with no holds barred," it claimed.
Absurdly saying he's waging "war against the west." Going way over-the-top outrageously claiming:
"(H)e deployed heavy military equipment, energy-supply blackmail, cyber-attack, propaganda by sophisticated, well-funded broadcasters, covert operations and agents of influence in EU capitals - oh yes, and Russian bombers nosing up the English Channel with their transponders off, potentially endangering civilian flights."
No responsible editors would touch this rubbish. Guardian ones featured it. Piled on their own Big Lies.
A separate editorial headlined "The Guardian View in Ukraine: maintain the pressure on Russia."
Outrageously saying conflict in Donbas "isn't just a nasty little shootout between local militias and the underequipped and inexperienced battalions of the Ukrainian army." 
"It illustrates how the geopolitical calculus of President Vladimir Putin, as he continues to furbish his anti-western narrative while crushing dissent within Russia, has led to some of the worst crimes perpetrated on European soil since the Balkan wars of the 1990s."
There's more. Guardian editors saying "it takes a twisted conspiratorial mindset, or brainwashing by Russian propaganda, to even attempt to deny that Russia's armed forces have been deeply engaged in backing the rebel separatists of Donetsk and Luhansk, and making sure Ukraine's sovereignty over its internationally recognised territory is not restored."
It bears repeating. You can't make this stuff up. Guardian and other Western editors, correspondents and contributors irresponsibly blame Russia and Donbas freedom fighters for US/Kiev/EU partners' crimes.
Including for failed peace talks. Refusing to explain how Kiev straightaway violated each attempt.
Not Russia. Not rebels. Kiev's fascist regime. Washington controlling its stooge leaders.
Deploring peace. Waging dirty war without mercy. Using chemical and other banned weapons. 
Deliberately targeting civilians. Murdering them in cold blood. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. Big Lies substitute for hard truths.
US so-called public broadcasting (PBS) is government and corporate controlled. A longstanding instrument of Washington propaganda.
Presenting one-sided reports. Suppressing what viewers most need to know. Consistently misinforming them. 
Including its Frontline series. Mocking legitimate investigatory journalism. Featuring disinformation rubbish.
Under the heading "Putin's Way," it reported the following stories. Each one an exercise in distortions and Big Lies. 
Sounding more like bad fiction than legitimate journalism. Headlining:
"New Russia Bill Targets 'Undesirable' Foreign Organizations"
"Putin's Legal Crackdown on Civil Society"
"What is the State of Dissent in Vladimir Putin's Russia?"
"What's Been the Effect of Western Sanctions on Russia?"
"The Battle for Ukraine"
"Inequality and the Putin Economy: Inside the Numbers"
"The Many Faces of Vladimir Putin"
"Watch Part of a Film Commissioned by Vladmir Putin - About Himself"
"Frontline Investigates Vladimir Putin's Path to Power."
The best way to understand Putin's agenda is avoiding PBS reports and numerous others like them.
All propaganda all the time. Hard truths consistently suppressed. Buried to treat viewers and readers like mushrooms. 
Well watered. In the dark. Uninformed about what they most need to know. At the most perilous time in world history.
Washington, rogue NATO partners and stooge regimes like Kiev head dangerously toward confronting Russia militarily. 
All bets are off if initiated. Lunatics alone conceive such madness. Don't bet against them doing what responsible leaders wouldn't dare.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

New Bipartisan Bills Give Congress a Chance to Strengthen Email Privacy - Thu, 05/02/2015 - 00:47

A pair of bills aimed at reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) were introduced in the United States Congress today. The bills, championed by Senators Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lee (R-Utah) and Representatives Yoder (R-Ks.) and Polis (D-Co.) focus on clarifying that the government must obtain a warrant before looking at email and other private online messages. EFF strongly supports this common sense reform.

And we're not the only ones. The bills are being supported by a strong bipartisan coalition with over 220 cosponsors in the House.

ECPA, which was written in 1986, is the core federal law protecting our electronic communications—including email, private Facebook messages, and Twitter direct messages—from prying eyes. But because of the statute's age, it has no provisions to deal with the way that the modern world uses cloud services and third-party providers for just about everything. Due to a provision in ECPA that assumes that users will download their messages to a desktop PC, and thereafter delete them from the server, the law has been used by the government to argue that emails older than 180 days can be obtained without a probable cause warrant.

In 2010, the Sixth Circuit ruled that, as written, this so-called "180-day rule" was unconstitutional. It's taken the Department of Justice (DOJ) years, but it's finally changing its tune. Now, even outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly supported the so called "warrant for content" aspect of ECPA reform.

This is the third year running that bipartisan ECPA reform bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate. Last year, despite the fact that bills identical to those introduced today were passed out of committee in the Senate, and had more than 260 co-sponsors in the House, neither made it to a floor vote. Let's make 2015 the year that Congress finally reforms the 29-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Want to support ECPA reform? Send an email to Congress today.

Related Issues: PrivacyLaw Enforcement Access
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Promoting Escalated War on Donbas - Wed, 04/02/2015 - 20:07
Promoting Escalated War on Donbas
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed lunatics running the Washington asylum. Talking peace. Waging one war after another against invented enemies.
Heading dangerously toward crossing a red line of no return - direct confrontation with Russia. Possible nuclear war. Madness if launched.
Today's risk is greater than ever given lunatics in Washington making policy. Likeminded ones influencing it.
So-called think tank "experts" promoting what demands condemnation. More on this below.
Washington is a hotbed of war-mongering extremism. Obama already wages multiple direct and proxy wars. 
He wants congressional authorization and funding for more wars at his discretion. His soon-to-be-confirmed new defense secretary is unabashedly hawkish. Ashton Carter supports more war.
Earlier he argued for surgically bombing North Korea's ballistic missile platform. Urges "interven(tion) before mortal threats to US security can develop." In other words, maintain preemption as an option.
In written comments to Senate Armed Services Committee members ahead of his confirmation hearing, he urged reconsideration for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan by end of 2016. In other words, maintaining permanent occupation.
AP said he "largely toed the administration line" on Russia, China, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Yemen.
He wants more military spending, not less. Ludicrously claimed radicalized Islam threatens America's homeland and Western interests.
Appeared open to conscription saying "a review of the military selective service act would be prudent."
Wants a greater US military presence in Latin America. Carter heading DOD means more war, not less.
The Atlantic Council is a right-wing think tank. Brookings is an establishment organization representing America's dark side. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs supports Washington's imperial agenda.
Ivo Daalder heads the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He's a former Clinton administration National Security Council (NSC) staffer. An Obama 2008 foreign policy advisor.
Michele Flournoy is a former Obama administration Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. A leading candidate for Defense Secretary in a future Hillary Clinton administration if elected president.
John Herbst is a former Bush administration ambassador to Ukraine. Heavily involved in Washington's 2004/05 Orange Revolution ousting Viktor Yanykovych's earlier government.
Jan Lodal is a former Atlantic Council president. Held various Washington defense and national security positions.
Steven Pifer heads Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative.
Ret. Adm. James Stavridis formerly was NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). He's currently US Naval Institute board chairman.
Strobe Talbott serves as Brookings' president. A former Clinton administration Deputy Secretary of State.
Ret. General Charles Wald formerly served as Deputy Commander of US European Command.
Their new report is titled "Preserving Ukraine's Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do."
It's beginning-to-end managed news misinformation Big Lies, distortions and war-mongering. 
An unabashed policy paper for greater US involvement in escalated war in Ukraine. What else to expect from establishment figures. 
Hawks masquerading as liberals. Representing America's dark side. Promoting greater war on humanity and then some.
Their report urged "providing direct military assistance - in far larger amounts than provided to date and including lethal defensive arms - so that Ukraine is better able to defend itself."
Ignoring US planned, implemented and directed naked aggression on Donbas.
So-called "defensive arms" include greater amounts of already covertly supplied heavy weapons for offense, not defense."
The report falsely accuses Russia of aggression. Ignores US-installed Kiev policy-making fascist thugs.
Operating under a police state apparatus. Waging war on their own people. 
Murdering civilian men, women and children in cold blood. Committing horrendous atrocities.
Blaming Donbas self-defense forces for justifiably rejecting illegitimate fascist rule. Fighting courageously for democratic rights everyone deserves.
Report misinformation, distortions and Big Lies include the following:
Saying " NATO should take to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses and thereby enhance its ability to deter further Russian aggression."
"A stronger Ukrainian military" will increase prospects for peace.
Western nations must "make clear" they "will not accept the use of force to change borders in Europe."
"President Putin may hope to achieve glory through restoring, through intimidation and force, Russian dominion over its neighbors. But a peaceful world requires opposing this throughdecisive action."
In other words, full-scale US-led NATO war in Europe's heartland threatening the entire continent and beyond.
"We face a critical juncture in Ukraine," say report contributors.
"Moscow currently seeks to create a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine as a means to pressure and destabilize the Ukrainian government."
"Russians continue to be present in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in substantial numbers and have introduced significant amounts of heavy weapons."
"This could be preparation for another major Russian/separatist offensive."
Fact check
No Russian aggression exists. No evidence suggests it. Not now, earlier or planned. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Throughout months of conflict in Donbas, Russia alone went all-out for peaceful conflict resolution. Continues doing so forthrightly and honorably. 
Thwarted by US-dominated NATO's rage for war. Kiev fascists wanting nationwide hardline rule. Police state despotism by any standard.
No evidence suggests Russian troops in Ukraine. Or Moscow supplying rebels with weapons.
Clear evidence shows direct US involvement in fighting. US forces deployed in Ukraine. Plus Western mercenaries. 
Washington and EU nations covertly supplying Kiev with heavy weapons throughout months of conflict. Intending much more ahead.
"Russian success would fatally undermine Ukraine's stability and embolden the Kremlin to further challenge the security order in Europe," report contributors claim.
"It might (embolden Putin to seek) territorial changes elsewhere in (Eastern Europe), including in the Baltic states, provoking a direct challenge to NATO."
Fact check
No evidence whatever suggests Putin has revanchist ambitions. Plenty shows his policies are polar opposite. 
Supporting European peace and stability. Respect for nation-state sovereignty. Rule of law inviolability.
Report contributors believe more war promotes peace. More heavy weapons. More fighting. 
More bloodshed. More mass slaughter and destruction. More mass displacement. More human misery.
Lunatics like report contributors influence US policy. Turning truth on its head saying:
"Russia's actions in and against Ukraine pose the gravest threat to European security in more than 30 years." 
"The West has the capacity to stop Russia. The question is whether it has the will."
Fact check
Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions. Rogue EU partners share it. 
So do US-installed Kiev stooges. Thugs masquerading as politicians. Making Mafia crime families look saintly by comparison.
Report contributors urge Washington supply Kiev with billions of dollars of military aid. Heavy weapons to escalate war. Other NATO countries providing their own military assistance.
On February 2, Strobe Talbott lied commenting separately. Calling Ukraine's conflict "an act of war on the part of the Russian Federation."
Outrageously claimed "a literal invasion, not a proxy war, a literal invasion by the Russian armed forces." 
"It's a literal occupation of large parts, well beyond Crimea, of eastern Ukraine." 
"And it is a virtual annexation of a lot of territory other than just Crimea." 
"And in that respect, this is a major threat to the peace of Europe, to the peace of Eurasia, and therefore a threat to the interests of the United States, and I would say a threat to the chances of a peaceful 21st Century."
Pifer separately accused Russia of "escalat(ing) a lot over the last ten months."
Saying "giv(ing) the Ukrainians military assistance (raises) the cost of escalation, the cost of aggression to Russia."
He urged "pushing back against Russia's (nonexistent) challenge to the broader European security order."
"And If we don't take action now there is a serious risk of further Russian incursions, further Russian attempts to redraw borders, and they may take place in places that we can’t we can't ignore." 
"And the costs then to the United States of pushing back would be much more expensive than what we are advocating today."
This type narrative proliferates in Washington. Lunatics influencing policy risk engulfing the whole world in conflict.
Big Lies repeated ad nauseam get most people to believe war is peace. Things head dangerously toward the abyss. 
Direct confrontation with Russia. Possible nuclear war. It bears repeating. 
Lunatics in Washington make the unthinkable possible. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Secure Our Borders First Act Would Ensure Proliferation of Drones at the Border - Wed, 04/02/2015 - 09:56

Security shouldn’t be a synonym for giving up civil liberties. But bills like HR 399 show that lawmakers think it is. The Secure Our Borders First Act is an ugly piece of legislation that’s clearly intended to strongarm the Department of Homeland Security into dealing with the border in a very particular way—with drones and other surveillance technology.

The bill appears to have stalled in the House—it was on the calendar for last week but wasn’t voted on, and it's not on the schedule for this week. But it’s not dead yet. And even if it does die, this isn’t the first time Congress has tried to increase the use of drones at the border. In 2013, the Senate passed S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill called for the use of drones “24 hours per day and for 7 days per week.” The House of Representatives did not pass the legislation, but the drone mandate in HR 399 is eerily similar—and it demonstrates that the idea that drones should be used at the border is persistent.

The 72-page piece of legislation, authored by Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas, gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) an incredibly specific mandate. It requires DHS to gain “operational control” of high traffic areas within 2 years, and the entire southern border within 5 years. Operational control means “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States.” It prescribes exactly how that should be done, and even includes penalties for failure to do so, including pay freezes for government officials.

The bill also prescribes how operational control should be obtained. It does this by prescribing what equipment 11 specific border points should use. At several of the points, that equipment includes drones.  Additionally, the bill includes the following mandate:

The Office of Air and Marine of U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] shall operate unmanned aerial systems not less than 16 hours per day, seven days per week.

As the ACLU notes, it’s a little shocking that the bill includes such mandates only “weeks after a damning DHS Inspector General (DHS IG) report titled ‘CBP Drones are Dubious Achievers.’” And that’s just the most recent report. In June of 2012, EFF called attention to another DHS IG report that faulted the DHS for wasting time, money, and resources using drones that were ineffective and lacked oversight. To put it in perspective, Predator drones cost $3,000 per hour to fly. That’s certainly part of the reason that HR 399 authorizes $1 billion in appropriations.

Of course, the waste of money in this bill pales in comparison to its potential negative impact on civil liberties. Drones pose a multitude of privacy concerns. Drones can be equipped with, among other capabilities, facial recognition technology, live-feed video cameras, thermal imaging, fake cell phone towers to intercept phone calls, texts and GPS locations, as well as backend software tools like license plate recognition, GPS tracking, and facial recognition. They are capable of highly advanced and near-constant surveillance, and can amass large amounts of data on private citizens, which can then be linked to data collected by the government and private companies in other contexts.

Lest it seem that this will only affect communities directly adjacent to the border, or individuals being investigated or pursued by CBP, it’s important to note that the government considers the border to extend 100 miles in, and CBP has certain powers to conduct activities like searches that would be unconstitutional elsewhere. Furthermore, according to documents obtained by the EFF as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency, CBP appears to be flying drones well within the Southern and Northern US borders for a wide variety of non-border patrol reasons. In fact, the documents showed that between 2010-2012, the number of missions CBP flew for state, local and non-CBP federal agencies increased eight-fold.

The silver lining? The legislation hasn’t passed yet. There’s still time to contact your elected representatives and tell them to vote no.

Related Issues: PrivacySurveillance Drones
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One Year Later, Obama Failing on Promise to Rein in NSA - Wed, 04/02/2015 - 05:23

 with assistance from Rainey Reitman.

A year ago, President Obama made tepid promises to reform the NSA (check out our analysis of those commitments). Today, he followed up with more specifics.

What do you need to know? His reform plan:

  • Fails to fix the problem of unconstitutional National Security Letters The President’s reform proposes a three-year limit on the gag order that accompanies each NSL, but even a three-year limit fails to cure the constitutional problem. Only a prompt and fully considered decision by a judge that a provider should remain gagged is sufficient.  
  • Doesn’t stop the bulk collection of data on innocent Americans’ digital communications If the Intelligence Community was serious about protecting privacy, it could end the bulk collection of Americans’ communications data—under Section 215 of the Patriot Act or under any provision of law—tomorrow. The President’s proposals do not curb the mass collection of phone records under Section 215, and the proposals affirmatively allow bulk collection to occur for six, broadly defined categories of intelligence collection. 
  • Continues "backdoor" surveillance on Americans without a warrant
    When the intelligence community performs surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, it sweeps in the communications of millions of Americans without a warrant. The President’s Review Group recommended the government obtain a warrant before it searched for communications of US persons contained within its vast database. The President rejected that proposal.
  • Fails to provide non-US persons with the same privacy protections afforded US persons On a daily basis, the United States intelligence community collects vast amounts of information about millions of people around the world. While the President’s proposals take a step forward in unifying the retention requirements applicable to collected non-US person information, they fail to afford the same privacy protections afforded US persons, and they fail to rein in bulk collection in the first place.    

President Obama still has time in office to make this right, and he’s got ample power to rein in NSA overreach without Congress lifting a finger. But if he continues to offer these weak reforms, then he should be prepared for a major Congressional battle when sections of the Patriot Act come up for reauthorization in June. 

Related Issues: PrivacyNSA Spying
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EFF Asks Court to Overturn Decision Giving Celebrities Veto Power Over Speech - Wed, 04/02/2015 - 04:32

Once again, bad facts are making bad law – but it’s not too late to change that. EFF, together with the Organization for Transformative Works, has filed an amicus brief in Davis v. Electronic Arts. This case is the latest in a series of rulings where courts have opened the door to censorship by persons depicted in creative works. We are asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse a dangerous decision that allows the so-called right of publicity to trump free speech.

The right of publicity is an offshoot of state privacy law that gives a person the right to limit the public use of her name, likeness or identity for commercial purposes. While the right once made sense (for example, allowing people to prevent companies from using their name in an ad without permission), it has expanded well beyond its original boundaries. Today, it extends to just about any speech that “evokes” a person’s identity. What is more, in some states your heirs can assert publicity rights for 70 years after your death. Celebrities have brought right of publicity cases against movies, songs, magazine features, comic books, and computer games.

Given the huge range of speech publicity rights can impact, courts agree that there must be some First Amendment limit to the right of publicity. Unfortunately, there has been little agreement regarding what that limit should actually be. Even worse, the most recent decisions have tied First Amendment protection to whether the work somehow “transforms” the identity or likeness of the celebrity. But this rule (called the transformative use test) makes no sense. Plenty of valuable speech, such as biographies or documentaries, involves depicting real people as accurately as possible. Why should these works be less protected by the First Amendment?

We suspect that what’s really happening is that courts are disfavoring media—like computer games and comic books—that they don’t like. The Davis case involves former professional football players whose biographical details (such as position, height, and weight) were incorporated into historical NFL teams available on EA’s Madden NFL computer game.

EA may not be the most sympathetic advocate for free speech (especially since it is paying current players who appear in the same game), but the rule in this case may affect a broad range of speech, from games to documentaries, biopics and so on. If the transformative use test becomes the standard approach, it will become harder to create any artistic work based on real people without their permission. The likely result: celebrities of all stripes (actors, politicians, businesspeople) can effectively veto any portrayal they don’t like.

Ultimately, if qualifying for free speech protection requires distorting reality (say by turning a subject into a human-worm hybrid), then something has gone very wrong. We hope the Ninth Circuit hears Davis en banc and applies a new, far more sensible, rule that respects free speech.

Files:  davis_v_electronic_arts_-_eff_otw_amicus_brief.pdf
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US Orchestrated Coup Plot in Venezuela? - Wed, 04/02/2015 - 03:59
US Orchestrated Coup Plot in Venezuela?
by Stephen Lendman
Washington spent Chavez's entire tenure trying to oust him. Nearly succeeded in April 2002.
Overwhelming public support foiled Bush's scheme. Chavez knew he was marked for death. Obama succeeded in killing him.
His dirty hands orchestrated weeks of violence last year. Another regime change scheme failed. Economic war on Venezuela rages. Ongoing since 2013.
Obama wants President Nicholas Marduro ousted. Venezuela's huge oil reserves plundered. 
Bolivarianism crushed. State-owned enterprises privatized. Predatory capitalism replacing economic and social justice.
Media scoundrels march in lockstep with US viciousness. Waging propaganda war on Venezuela. More on this below.
On Sunday, Maduro accused Vice President Joe Biden of directing efforts to oust him. 
Saying "(t)he northern imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation, going to talk to the continent's governments to announce the overthrow of my government. And I accuse Vice-president Joe Biden of this" plot.
"There are US diplomats in Venezuela contracting military officials to betray their country, looking to influence socialist political leaders, public opinion leaders and entrepreneurs to provoke a coup."
Maduro spoke as US orchestrated demonstrations picked up where last year's left off. During a time when Venezuela's economy is hurt by low oil prices.
Maduro called what's ongoing no ordinary crisis. "I appeal to the people and the patriots among the officials who are on high alert, as a bloody coup is underway in Venezuela," he stressed.
"The people must be prepared to rescue their democracy, the Constitution and their revolution" from US dark forces threatening it.
"We have to be alert, very alert, prepared, organized: the people's fighting blocs, the Bolivar-Chavez Battle Units, the community councils, the communes, the forces, rural workers, the workers, the women, the youth, the movements of sexual diversity, ecologists, everyone."
On Friday, Maduro returned from the third Community of Latin American and Caribbean States( CELAC) summit.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega accused Washington of calculated efforts to destabilize Venezuela. 
Compared what's ongoing to 1973 in Chile when Augusto Pinochet outed Salvador Allende. Predatory capitalism replaced social democracy.
A "caravan death" followed. Including mass arrests, disappearances, torture and mass murder.
Opposition government officials, academics, union heads, independent journalists, student leaders, activists, and other suspected regime opponents were targeted.
"We see clearly that they want to repeat the same situation that took place in Chile," said Ortega. 
"(A)pplying the same script, and they want to have it end in a military coup," Ortega stressed.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa agreed saying:
"We are reminded of the economic warfare that was carried out by the Chilean elites against Salvador Allende once they realized that they could not achieve victory in the ballot box and were defeated in the legislative elections in 1973."
Cuban President Raul Castro condemned Washington interference in Venezuelan affairs.
"We emphatically reject the sanctions against Venezuela and reaffirm our complete support for the government of Venezuela," he said.
Maduro denounced an internal opposition anti-government forum. Involving anti-Bolivarian former Chilean, Colombian, Mexican and Venezuelan presidents.
Called it "not tolerable in the current political life of Latin America and the Caribbean."
Joe Biden urged CELAC leaders to "leave Venezuela isolated." Claiming "the government will soon fall."
Maduro accused internal opposition figures of saying "the revolution is over. The people no longer support it." 
"They say hey will overthrow the people and the revolutionary government that I chair. But I say to the conspirators - stay out of Venezuela. Let us live in peace." 
Increasingly it's becoming impossible to have normal relations with Washington. How can there be when Obama wants Maduro ousted.
Are coup plans underway? Is Maduro vulnerable to toppling? Perhaps marked for death?
Given Washington's longstanding regime change plans, expect anything anytime to replace another independent leader with one beholden to US monied interests.
The New York Times is a long ago discredited instrument of wealth, power and privilege. Irresponsibly vilifying Chavez throughout his tenure. Disparaging Maduro the same way.
Consistently publishes managed news misinformation rubbish on issues mattering most. Substitutes Big Lies for hard truths. 
Relentlessly supports monied interests at the expense of populist ones.
Maduro has impeccable credentials. He's a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly speaker, foreign minister and vice president.
On January 26, Times editors called him "a former bus driver." Degrading him irresponsibly. Continuing longstanding anti-Bolivarian propaganda. In lockstep with Washington's regime change plans.
On the one hand, lied claiming Chavez "governed poorly." On the other, outrageously accused Maduro of "becom(ing) increasingly erratic and despotic in a quest for political survival…"
Venezuelan democracy is the region's best. Mocking America's sham process. Serving monied interests exclusively at the expense of populist ones.
Times editors ridiculed Maduro's justifiable finger-pointing at opposition destabilizing efforts with considerable US help.
Turned truth on its head claiming fascist Leopoldo Lopez was imprisoned "on trumped charges of stoking violence" last year. 
Time editors ignored his sedition. His US-supported plot to oust Maduro.
Maria Corina Machado is another Washington favorite. A former legislator. Anti-Bolivarian Sumate founder.
Involved in the April 2002 aborted coup. Plotting again since last year. Wanting Maduro forcefully removed. Perhaps by killing him.
Times editors mocked legitimate accusations against her. Called them "ludicrous, unfounded…against another aspiring challenger."
Separately, The Times railed about Venezuela's weak economy. Its "shelves lie bare," it said.
Ignoring a US orchestrated corporate/private business scheme to manufacture scarcity.
Hoard consumer products. Jack up prices. Destabilize things. Create chaos. Blame Maduro irresponsibly.
Washington's long knives target him. MSM propaganda proliferates one Big Lie after another. 
Part of a well-orchestrated regime change plot. A US specialty. Initiated dozens of previous times.
Washington Post deputy editor Jackson Diehl ludicrously claims Venezuela faces "slow but potentially catastrophic collapse." It's "well on its way to becoming a failed state," he hyperventilated.
He bashed Chavez. Called him a "caudillo." Denigrated Maduro as "a former bus driver of astonishingly small talents."
More Big Lies and gross distortions followed. Diehl supports Venezuela's fascist opposition. He barely stopped short of urging regime change.
On January 2, Bloomberg sent "New Year's Wishes for Venezuela." Claiming Maduro "doesn't seem to have any good ideas - any ideas at all, really - for improving things."
Its editors said "Venezuela can no longer afford to provide its citizens with the world's cheapest gasoline."
On January 26, Bloomberg Business headlined "Where to Buy Gasoline for $0.002 a Gallon, Seriously."
"Expressed another way, you can get 482 gallons with just one dollar. (E)nough to drive a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck from one end of Venezuela's 1,740-mile Caribbean coast to the other six times."
Maduro called for national discussion on gas prices. Saying "(t)here is the need for a balanced platform of prices of gasoline sold on the domestic market."
"For this I will open a debate in the National Assembly with Vice President Jorge Arreaza…to explain the details."
Older currency devaluations aside, Venezuelans pay around 6 cents a gallon for premium gasoline. Most other countries charge hugely higher prices. Including oil rich Middle East states.
Venezuela's prices remained unchanged since 1997. Ignoring international fluctuations. 
"Oil will not return to ($100 a barrel any time soon) so we need to produce, to substitute imports, generate new sources of income for the country," Maduro explained.
"I believe that the time has come (to raise gasoline prices). I trust in  the national conscience, in the conscience of the country."
Maduro outlined other proposed ways to combat US orchestrated economic war. Stressed his government's commitment to Bolivarian fairness. Called it the cornerstone of Venezuela's social revolution.
Try finding a single MSM report discussing his agenda this way. Or explaining Bolivarian principles. 
Polar opposite US-style predatory capitalism. Benefitting privileged elites alone. Increasingly ignoring vital needs Venezuela's Constitution guarantees.
Bloomberg editors grossly inflated Venezuelan homicides. They urged Maduro to cut military spending to save money.
"Venezuelans need less guns and more butter," they said. Ignoring the nation's minuscule defense budget. A tiny 1.2% of GDP.
Much less than Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay. America's whopping annual "defense" spending exceeds $1.5 trillion.
Including core budgeting, intelligence, homeland security, space initiatives and other related categories. 
Excluding unknown mega-billions in classified black budgets. Plus huge supplemental appropriations on request.
Reuters absurdly suggested falling oil prices "spurred concerns that Venezuela may default on its foreign bonds…"
At yearend 2014, Latin American economic expert Mark Weisbrot asked if foreign investors should believe MSM hype about possible default.
Or that Venezuela is deeply in debt. Burning through its foreign currency reserves.
Interest and principle due for each of the next three years is about $10 billion, said Weisbrot. "Normally, Venezuela (is) able to roll over the principal and issue new bonds for the principal coming due," he explained.
That leaves about $5 billion in interest payments. With Venezuela generating around $50 billion in annual oil revenues (at $55 a barrel), it's hard imagining it being unable to afford its debt service cost even at lower prices for a sustained period.
Claims otherwise are destabilizing propaganda rubbish. At depressed prices, Venezuela can "buy up the whole stock of debt (coming due) in the next three years…for less than $9 billion," Weisbrot explained.
It owns valued assets. Including about $14 billion in gold. In the last eight years, China loaned Venezuela $46 billion. Over half repaid.
Beijing considers Venezuela a "strategic ally." Would it let it "default on its debt for lack of a few billion dollars or less," asked Weisbrot?
Of course not. MSM scoundrels lie. Weisbrot recommended reading them "with a critical eye." 
Best to avoid them altogether. Including the business press. Representing powerful Western monied interests. 
One-sidedly reporting things. Bashing Venezuela irresponsibly. Since Chavez was elected president, it represented a threat of a good example.
A model democracy. Its electoral process the best in the world, according to Jimmy Carter. 
Polar opposite America's duopoly governance. Money power controlled. Democracy in name only. Mocking the real thing.
Venezuela will survive its current economic troubles. As long as it stays true to its Bolivarian roots. 
Knows the danger imperial Washington poses. Remains vigilant against it. 
Obama wants Venezuela turned into another US colony. Looking like Ukraine. Its people exploited, impoverished and denied fundamental rights.
Including vital social benefits Americans can't imagine. Ones Venezuelans won't tolerate losing. Nor should they.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Washington's Ukraine Agenda Risks WW III - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 21:28
Washington's Ukraine Agenda Risks WW III
by Stephen Lendman
Washington planned and implemented Kiev's coup. Obama admitted US "broker(ing) a deal to transition power in Ukraine."
Code language for ousting democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Replacing him with neo-Nazi mob rule.
In December 2013, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told Washington-based National Press Club members:
"Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States..invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in needs and other goals."
Code language for regime change. She was Obama's point person involved in stoking last year's Maidan violence.
Caught red-handed urging regime change on tape. Her conversation with US Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was recorded. 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on Obama's rhetoric. Saying it provided clear proof of US direct involvement in last February's coup. 
It "demonstrates Washington's intention to continue every kind of support to the Kiev government, which apparently intends to end the conflict through violence," said Lavrov.
On the one hand, US officials urge peaceful conflict resolution. On the other, they support Kiev's dirty war.
Russian Academy of Science politician/economist Sergey Glazyev beliieves Washington intends "wag(ing) the battle for leadership until the last Ukrainian.' "
It "chose Ukraine as a tool (for) attacking Europe and Russia."
"Launching a world war is necessary for the Americans in order to preserve their hegemony in the world through strengthening control over Europe by imposing the Trans-Atlantic free trade agreement; establishing control over Russia and Middle East, thus expanding their competitive advantage in the battle for leadership with the Asian countries," said Glazyev.
America's scheme "is doomed for defeat," he believes. Multi-world polarity won't let US plans succeed.
Great dangers remain. Washington is "starting a war in Europe against" Russia.
It's "the main victim" of America's strategy. There's "no reason to (expect resolution) in the next few years."
Every reason to expect greater conflict. America challenging Russia politically, economically and militarily risks WW III.
Oleg Tsarov is a former Ukraine parliamentary Party of Regions people's deputy/current Novorossiya leader.
He calls Washington's Kiev embassy a hotbed of intrigue and subversion. 
Believes US "puppet-masters" together with national security/defense council chief Oleksandr Turchinov, prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and oligarch Igor Kolomoysky want president Petro Poroshenko ousted.
He has business interests in Russia he wants protected. He may negotiate peace in Donbas to do it, Tsarov believes.
Successful conflict resolution will enhance his stature. He'd "become the second most important political figure in Ukraine." 
US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt runs things for his bosses in Washington.
They want war. So do Kiev hardliners. Tsarov believes Poroshenko wants coalition government without Yatsenyuk, who, in turn, wants Poroshenko ousted.
Kolomoysky needs refinancing for his troubled businesses. Not forthcoming from Kiev.
Donbas military defeats turned Washington against Poroshenko. Kiev hardliners want him ousted.
"The stakes are very high," said Tsarov. Much more than wealth and power. US-directed Kiev long knives may kill him.
Yatsenyuk met with other hardliners. "(T)asked them with organizing an information (war on) Poroshenko," Tsarov explained.
Step one toward removing him. "He must be made (to) appear" responsible for Ukrainian crisis conditions.
"There is no reason for optimism." Washington has lots of options. "(A) whole slew of" pro-US political stooges were enlisted.
"There are no non-pro-US politicians capable of coming to power," said Tsarov.
"The bench is well protected and will implement the will of the US."
At the same time, Kiev's Donbas military campaign proved disastrous. Rebels keep routing its forces.
Multiple mobilizations aren't going as planned. Increasing thousands refuse conscription. 
Many thousands more are deserting. Wanting no part of Kiev's dirty war. Kiev military forces are in disarray. 
"The road from Donetsk to Kiev is full of vehicles, nationalists…fleeing (on) foot. Something similar is taking place in Mariupol," said Tsarov.
Junta forces are surrounded in Debaltsevo. They got a choice to surrender or die.
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko announced full mobilization.
He expects a 100,000-strong volunteer force to be enlisted. Achieving it will give rebels a greater advantage over Ukraine's military than already.
A well-armed, committed self-defense force against an underachieving, ineffective, increasingly unwilling to fight Kiev military.
Looking more like a spent force than an army ready for battle. Whether greater US involvement can change things remains to be seen.
For sure Washington intends to try. By supplying greater numbers of heavy weapons than already. Enlisting more paramilitaries like Blackwater USA (now Academi).
Perhaps involving significant numbers of US forces on the ground. Similar to Pentagon Iraq operations.
Thousands of special forces were deployed. A so-called "advise and assist mission." A euphemism for positioning combat-ready personnel.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wants greater numbers sent. Classic mission creep. Expect direct involvement in combat.
Will similar tactics be used in Ukraine? Will Washington take full charge of combat operations?
Will thousands of US forces invade? Kiev won't defeat rebels alone. Its military hasn't the will or resources. Even with greater numbers of US and EU heavy weapons.
At the same time, its hardliners want war, not peace, Tsarov stresses. Confrontation, not good relations with Russia.
Washington increasingly runs things. Some parliamentary deputies left Kiev with family members. Afraid of potential fallout if Poroshenko is ousted.
Tsarov sees crisis conditions continuing "for a very long time." Russia hasn't intervened in Ukrainian politics since Soviet Russia's dissolution.
Washington took full advantage. Culminating in February 2014. Eliminating Ukrainian democracy. Replacing it with neo-Nazi fascist rule.
America spends trillions of dollars advancing its imperium. Replacing independent governments with pro-Western stooge ones. 
Fascists eliminating opposition elements forcefully. Abolishing fundamental freedoms. Profiting from economic plunder. Impoverishing whole populations. 
Ukraine follows a familiar script. Including war on its own people. Poroshenko is more front man than leader.
Tsarov believes his ouster is planned on or around Maidan's February anniversary. A Kiev national assembly is scheduled for February 15.
"(I)t's entirely possible that about 8pm it will transform into an armed assault on (Poroshenk's) administration," replicating the beginning of Yanukovych's ouster.
Poroshenko knows "the risks," said Tsarov. He created an anti-coup "working group…(H)ighly placed 'power ministry' officials…"
Whatever he does may fail. If Washington wants him replaced, he's toast. With mid-February approaching, it remains to be seen if Tsarov's analysis is accurate.
His translator called his "understanding of the internal Ukrainian politics…second to none." At the same time, If hardliners oust Poroshenko forcefully, it'll be harder for Washington to claim their legitimacy.
Don't bet against US dark forces not trying. Or MSM not justifying the unjustifiable. Like so many previous times.
The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. World peace hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Under Senate Pressure, Verizon Plans Supercookie Opt-Out - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 10:37

Verizon told the New York Times on Friday that it plans to begin allowing its customers to opt out of its privacy-invasive header injection program. For customers that are aware of the Verizon program and visit the opt-out page, this means they will soon be able to protect themselves against privacy circumvention like Turn's zombie cookie.

Verizon's move to begin allowing opt-out comes after more than 2,600 of you signed our petition urging the FCC to investigate Verizon's practices. It also comes just one day after Senators on the the Commerce Committee sent a strongly-worded letter to Verizon Wireless [pdf] expressing "deep concern" over Verizon's continued practice of injecting UIDH headers into all Web traffic. This letter follows recent news that the header, which acts as a supercookie, was being abused by Verizon's own advertising partner Turn to resurrect cookies that people had deleted from their browsers. These "zombie cookies" are similar to Quantcast's 2009 Flash-based zombie cookie program, which ended with a settlement that included an agreement not to "counteract any computer user's decision to either prevent or delete HTTP cookies" using the technology.

The Commerce Committee said in their letter to Verizon, "While we understand that Turn has suspended its utilization of Verizon's supercookies, such a practice, if true, would seemingly constitute a deliberate circumvention of customer choice and a violation of consumer privacy." They went on to say, "Because of the threats to consumer privacy, AT&T wisely discontinued the use of similar mobile trackers, while Verizon has chosen to carry on," and ask, "Does Verizon intend to continue the use of its mobile tracker?" Unfortunately, Verizon's answer is yes, but with an opt out.

The new opt out plan is an improvement, and we congratulate Verizon on working to undo some of the privacy harm its header program has caused. However, the current plan doesn't go nearly far enough to fix the problem. The millions of Verizon customers who are unaware of the tracking header and their new ability to opt-out are still exposed to the risk of zombie cookies from firms less visible than Turn. Customers who assume their mobile OS' tracking opt-out or their browser's privacy modes will be respected by Verizon are also still vulnerable.

Verizon's program is part of a trend among network providers: header injection (called "header enrichment" by industry) and content injection. With modern processing speeds, it has become practical and affordable for ISPs to inspect and modify every byte of traffic that flows across their routers. This has led to a burgeoning industry of commercial interception gear. ISPs use these "middleboxes" to achieve greater control of what their customers read and see. In mobile industry parlance, such "Value Added Services" include tracking header injection like Verizon's, advertisement injection like Comcast's, and fine-grained blocking of specific web pages. Verizon and other ISPs need to recognize the extreme intrusiveness of these network tampering measures and treat all header injection, advertising injection, and content filtering as requiring explicit customer choice.

Tell Verizon to follow AT&T's lead and discontinue its header injection program—or at a minimum, make it opt-in.

Related Issues: Content BlockingPrivacyDo Not Track
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This Song (Still) Belongs to You and Me - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 07:44

Between all the Super Bowl football action yesterday, one commercial seemed to have caught a lot of people's attention: to promote its smallest SUV, Jeep showed images of it all over the country, then the world, to the tune of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."

One reason people are discussing it is because appearing in a commercial would seem to run against the late Guthrie's values. Would Guthrie have ever allowed the song to be licensed to Jeep, and for a Super Bowl commercial?

The answer is that nobody had to license it. Ten years ago, EFF set out to defend an online political parody set to "This Land Is Your Land," by arguing that it was a fair use. Instead, we discovered through the course of litigation the song actually entered the public domain in 1973, and today there are no restrictions on its use. That means that organizers that share Guthrie's politics—and yes, companies like Jeep—are equally free to use the song.1

Of course, even when his songs were restricted by copyright, Guthrie was famously permissive. Just look at his Copyright Warning from the 1940s:

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.

Given the duration of copyright terms and the control many artists and publishers try to exert, it can seem like any use is an endorsement. But Woody Guthrie preached the value of sharing freely—and when it came to his music he practiced it, too.

  • 1. There are a few caveats here. For one, this recording of the song needs to be licensed. For another, our client settled its case after we made the public domain discovery. Even though we documented the timeline by which the song entered the public domain, it's possible that the publisher Ludlow Music still requests—and receives—licensing fees. Finally, there are a few variations of the composition, and some may still have copyright restrictions.
Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceRelated Cases: JibJab Media v. Ludlow Music ("This Land"Parody)
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7 Things To Love About reddit’s First Transparency Report - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 06:06

Here’s something that merits a lot of reddit gold.

On Thursday, reddit published its first-ever transparency report covering all of 2014. It’s a summary of all the legal requests to take down content from the site as well as all government attempts to access reddit’s user data.

Lots of companies publish transparency reports, but not all of them do a good job. We took some time to look at exactly what reddit’s report included and found a whole bunch of stuff that impressed us. Here’s an overview of why you might be equally thrilled with the report.

  1. Published within 30 days of the reporting period. Lots of companies will publish transparency reports that cover a time period ending several months prior (for example, the transparency report will cover a period ending in December but the report itself won’t be published until March or April). Not reddit. Its transparency report covers all of 2014 and was published in the first month of 2015. That means more recent, and potentially more relevant data.
  2. Warrant for content. reddit won’t hand over user data for a law enforcement officer who gets his boss to sign off on a subpoena. Instead, reddit insists on a judge-ordered warrant—based on probable cause—before handing over content. reddit states: “reddit requires a search warrant based on probable cause to disclose user content information, which includes private messages and posts/comments that have been deleted or otherwise hidden from public view."
  3. Telling users about government requests. When it comes to protecting users, one of the strongest policies a company can adopt is to always inform users about a government request for their data. While there are a few occasions when a company may be legally prohibited from disclosing a government request, or where an imminent physical or injury requires expedient response, it’s a good rule of thumb to let users know about requests so they can seek legal counsel and fight back. reddit nimbly makes this pledge, stating: "Many government requests we receive contain demands to withhold notice from users that carry no legal weight. We actively disregard these non-binding demands. Our goal is to give users the information they need to seek legal advice before their records are disclosed. As stated in our privacy policy, we provide advance notice to affected users unless prohibited by a court order or where we decide delayed notice is appropriate based on clear criteria."

    We think this is great, but there's some room for improvement here. reddit should make explicit that in an emergency situation, it will still inform users about government data request after the emergency is concluded (we call this post-hoc notification).  This is implied with reddit's current statement, but could be even more explicit.

  4. All emergency requests in writing. In an imminent emergency –where there is threat of serious bodily harm or death—there are occasions when law enforcement will approach companies and ask them to turn over user data. Companies like to leave themselves flexibility to respond if it could mean potentially saving a life. We recommend that in such situations, companies always get a statement in writing from law enforcement, and reddit does exactly that, stating: "When notified of an emergency situation by law enforcement, we require that they provide as much information as possible and certify the request in writing."
  5. A warrant canary. While still an untested legal theory, a warrant canary basically means that a company is publicly pledging that it has not received a national security order or letter. If it does receive such process, it will be gagged from disclosing the fact. The idea with a warrant canary is that if a company were to delete this statement (or not publish it in future reports), a meticulous reader would notice and be able to raise an alarm. reddit added a warrant canary to its report, noting "As of January 29, 2015, reddit has never received a National Security Letter, an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or any other classified request for user information."  
  6. A strong stance against mass surveillance. As it reminds us in its transparency report, reddit and dozens of other companies and organizations publicly opposed mass, warrantless surveillance, signing a letter that said "This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures..."
  7. No defamation takedowns. According to the report, reddit received 33 requests to remove content that didn’t have to do with copyright or trademark infringements, and reddit states that many of these have to do with alleged defamation. reddit stood by its users and refused to comply with any of these requests.

We’re impressed by reddit’s first transparency report. In fact, the report tracks remarkably closely to EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back report, which rates companies on factors like requiring a warrant for content and informing users about government data requests. While we have no way to know whether reddit could have done more to fight government requests for user data, we can say with certainty that it adopted industry best practices in first-ever transparency report.

When companies publish transparency reports, they take an uncomfortable step. They shine light on how vulnerable our digital lives are to the legal (and extra-legal) machinations of governments and corporations who wish to surveil and censor digital denizens. No company is legally obligated to publish such a report, and it's possible that users could be so upset by the data in a transparency report that they might be hesitant to use an online service. Nonetheless, reddit and dozens of other companies are still choosing to publish transparency reports, often with great detail.

The end result? We know a little bit more about government attempts to seek access to our digital lives. We see a little more clearly the work of copyright and trademark in taking speech off the Internet. And there is a hope that this transparency may even cause government to pause and reconsider before sending egregious demands for user data, knowing their requests will one day see the light of day and could well be met with resistance.

Related Issues: PrivacyTransparency
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EFF Joins Coalition to Launch - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 06:04

"Warrant canary" is a colloquial term for a regularly published statement that an internet service provider (ISP) has not received legal process that it would be prohibited from saying it had received, such as a national security letter. The term "warrant canary" is a reference to the canaries used to provide warnings in coalmines, which would become sick from carbon monoxide poisoning before the miners would—warning of the otherwise-invisible danger. Just like canaries in a coalmine, the canaries on web pages “die” when they are exposed to something toxic—like a secret FISA court order.

Warrant canaries rely upon the legal theory of compelled speech. Compelled speech happens when a person is forced by the government to make expressive statements they do not want to make. Fortunately, the First Amendment protects against compelled speech in most circumstances. In fact, we’re not aware of any case where a court has upheld compelled false speech. Thus, a service provider could argue that, when its statement about the legal process received is no longer true, it cannot be compelled to reissue the now false statement, and can, instead, remain silent. So far, no court has addressed this issue.

But if you’re not paying attention to a specific canary, you may never know when it changes. Plenty of providers don’t have warrant canaries. Those that do may not make them obvious. And when warrant canaries do change, it’s not always immediately obvious what that change means.

That’s why EFF has joined with a coalition of organizations, including the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, New York University’s Technology Law & Policy Clinic, and the Calyx Institute to launch The Calyx Institute runs and hosts

Canarywatch lists the warrant canaries we know about, tracks changes or disappearances of those canaries, and allows users to submit canaries not listed on the site. For people with interest in a particular canary, the site will show any changes we know about. The page’s FAQ explains the mechanics and legal theories underpinning warrant canaries. It also has an anatomy of a canary that, since canaries come in so many different forms, helps anyone understand what they’re seeing when they look at a particular canary.

Warrant canaries are a unique tool ISPs have to provide users with more transparency about the government requests they do, and do not, receive. We hope the site will educate, improve the usefulness of warrant canaries for the general public, and help people with a special interest in canaries track them.

Related Issues: National Security LettersNSA Spying
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Who Really Owns Your Drones? - Tue, 03/02/2015 - 05:25

If there's anything creepier than a drone flying up to your home and peering through your window, it's the thought of your technology—your cellphone, laptop camera, car radio, or even an implanted medical device—being turned on you for an even more intimate view of your private life. But the reaction last week to a drunken government intelligence agent borrowing his buddy's drone and crashing it into the White House lawn is a reminder that shortsighted solutions to the first problem could exacerbate the second.

As the White House reacted to the drone crash with a call for more regulation, the manufacturer of the downed quadcopter announced it would push a firmware update to all its units in the field, permanently preventing those drones from taking off or flying within 25km of downtown Washington DC.

This announcement may have been an effort by the manufacturer DJI, whose Phantom model is one of the most popular consumer drone units, to avoid bad press and more regulation. But it also reinforced the notion that people who "own" these drones don't really own anything at all. The manufacturer can add or remove features without their agreement, or even their knowledge.

In this case, there are reasons to restrict the airspace above Washington, DC, so DJI’s unilateral action may find support in community norms. But its action also underscores how your ownership of the stuff you buy is overridden by the manufacturer's ability to update or change it—a phenomenon that is proliferating to anything with a networked computer. In 2015, that's a huge portion of the things in your life.

In the world of gadgets, this has become a well-known problem. Nearly five years ago, for example, Sony made headlines by pressuring Playstation users to install an update that removed their ability to run unapproved software. People had been able to install GNU/Linux, and had even combined Playstations to assemble powerful supercomputers. Sony removed that feature from consoles in people's homes.

A more alarming example may be your car. New cars come with numerous on-board computers that can be reprogrammed—but not usually by you, the owner. Tesla made waves last week by "texting" new code to its cars, updating an algorithm to improve acceleration. But the gee-whiz quality of that upgrade should be tempered by some more uncomfortable realities.

One is a report in the New York Times last September, which documented the practice among lenders to install GPS trackers and "starter interrupt" devices to remotely locate and disable cars when, say, somebody falls behind on payments or drives outside of a certain area. The Times tells the story of a woman who couldn't bring her daughter to the hospital because she was three days late with a payment, and another of a woman whose car was found and towed a day after she left the agreed-upon radius in order to flee an abusive boyfriend.

These examples are from companies changing the products they control because it's in their self-interest to do so. But of course, the threat is not just from the manufacturer, but from anybody who can compel, coerce, or compromise its ability to issue those remote updates. These possibilities are not hypothetical. BMW announced just last week it would be fixing a vulnerability in its cars that would allow an attacker to hijack a remote unlock mechanism. And over a decade ago, the FBI attempted to take over OnStar voice-operated dashboard computers to snoop on drivers—a plan only foiled because it would have interfered with emergency operations of the devices. The government's ability to use official update channels for their own ends too goes back years, as revealed by examinations of the Stuxnet malware.

Fundamentally, the problem here is a system where users don't have control over the technology they own and rely upon. That's not just about a certain technological architecture; it's about the legal system that props it up. In this case, one major problem is the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which exists to support DRM software.

Without those DRM laws, users could replace the firmware on their devices with new software that was trusted and auditable. But instead, the law casts a shadow of doubt on users that would modify that software, researchers that would examine it for security vulnerabilities, and companies that would create competitive alternatives. It's a law that's overflowed its banks, affecting technology that touches almost every aspect of our lives.

For evidence of that legal excess, look no further than the list of exemptions proposed in the DMCA's currently ongoing triennial rulemaking process. From security researchers worried that the DMCA keeps them from uncovering life-threatening vulnerabilities, to the Software Freedom Conservancy's request to access the operating system of so-called Smart TVs, to many, many others, it's clear this law is no longer about "content," but about control. Control that's being denied to users.

(Yes, we're requesting exemptions for people to be able to repair and conduct security research on cars. Sign our petition to support those requests.)

The fate of small drone flights over DC may seem like a little thing—a spat worked out among private players. But these small battles shape the notion of what it means to own something and illustrate the growing control of manufacturers over user conduct.

Related Issues: DMCADMCA RulemakingDRMRelated Cases: 2015 DMCA Rulemaking
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West Intends More Heavy Weapons for Kiev's Battered Military - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 20:54
West Intends More Heavy Weapons for Kiev's Battered Military
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout months of conflict, Washington covertly supplied Kiev's military with lethal weapons. So did various EU countries.
Reports indicate new supplies coming. More on this below. Donbas self-defense forces keep battering Kiev's military. Supported by Western mercenaries and US forces.
Fort Russ reports "panic in Debaltsevo." Kiev parliament deputy Taras Pastukh involved in fighting issued the following statement:
"Greetings from the still-Ukrainian Debaltsevo. We just repelled an attack on our base camp." 
"Earlier it could barely be reached by artillery, but today enemy infantry had arrived. The National Guard had left the city, thus leaving us open to attack." 
"All blocking positions report constant shelling and tank attacks. We never received any reinforcement. It went to the CTO zone, but never went where it was needed."
“We are being abandoned here, while at the same time others are simply running away."
"I ask for your help. Tell everyone you can about the critical situation here…I could not believe (rebels) would come at us with such force…"
"(T)his is genuine betrayal of the country by the entire command, including our so-called 'president.' "
On Sunday, 500 Ukrainian Volunteer Soldier National Assembly fighters back from Donbas demonstrated in Kiev, chanting:
"We call on all commanders to rise up and start overthrowing the government. The battalion brotherhood is starting a national tribunal."
Militants complained about lack of financing and weapons. They want martial law declared. Security services and defense leadership changes.
Legal immunity for parliament members and judges lifted. Illegitimate president Petro Poroshenko impeached and replaced.
Days earlier, another demonstration demanded illegitimate prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk be removed. Chants included "Reform or bullet to the head…(O)ur patience is running out."
Rebels captured Uglegorsk. A Ukrainian army stronghold used for communications and supply. About 10 km from thousands of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Debaltsevo.
Donetsk People's Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchencko issued an ultimatum saying:
"Guys, my proposal is to lay down arms and surrender. You’re fighting the wrong people." 
"You have the only chance to save your lives. Surrender and you will live. I promise that all of you will return home afterwards."
Kiev forces continue sustaining heavy losses. A Cyber Berkut hacktivist web site reported Ukraine's security service prohibiting hospitals from revealing information on battlefield casualties.
Kiev's most recent mobilization reflects desperation. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are deserting. Many seek refuge in Russia.
Many thousands more refuse to show up for conscription. They want no part of fighting their own citizens. Or be cannon fodder for Kiev.
The reliable Colonel Cassad web site reports Debaltsevo junta forces mostly surrounded.
Heavy fighting continues. The Saker reported good and bad news. Junta forces appear "completely unable to mount any effective offensive."
Not "a single tactical success" achieved. Rebels are clearly stronger. "(T)hey are generally prevailing."
But lack "the kind of superiority to achieve an operational breakthrough." At least so far.
Thousands of trapped junta forces have a choice. Surrender or die. "(T)ime is definitely not on the junta's side…(N)ot politically, not economically and not militarily," said The Saker.
Things aren't going the way Washington planned. Kiev's military supported by US and EU funding, weapons, training and direction was thought easily able to defeat Donbas rebels.
Instead they've been routed. Kiev is losing the war. Washington and rogue EU partners appear desperate.
Everything done so far failed. At the same time, Kiev's junta plans escalated war. Obama promised more heavy weapons and other aid.
According to The New York Times:
"(A)fter a series of striking reversals that Ukraine's forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid."
Code language for supplying greater amounts of heavy weapons than already. Likely more US forces on the ground. Greater Pentagon involvement in directing combat operations.
Perhaps greater numbers of US recruited paramilitaries like Blackwater USA (now Academi).
Russia's Ren TV reports proof of EU mercenaries fighting for Kiev in Donbas. Including British, Italian, Polish and Swedish nationals.
Disguised as "security or consulting agencies." Ideologically hard-right ultranationalists. 
Polish ultra right group head Falanga Bartosz Bekier said "(m)any Poles are fighting on Kiev's side in this conflict, it's true."
"They go to Ukraine to join volunteer corps as private individuals. But Poland's official authorities will never confirm this fact."
Italian mercenary Francesco Falkone said "(i)n late August, we were paid about $300. For all previous months. Now…they are paying about $200 a month, like (for) local policem(en)."
John Kerry plans visiting Kiev this week. He, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey, Vice Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral James Winnefeld Jr, NATO commander General Philip Breedlove, and outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel support sending more weapons.
Stop NATO reports rogue EU nations intending more military aid. Member countries began supplying Kiev with weapons last summer.
Then Ukrainian defense minister Valeriy Heletey confirmed it short of details on weapons supplied and countries involved.
"I have no right to disclose any specific country we reached agreement with," he said.
"But the fact is that those weapons are already on the way to us. That's absolutely true. I can officially tell you."
Expect lots more from Washington and EU nations. Poland's Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak indicated "no obstacles" to selling weapons to Ukraine.
So far, Washington's Ukrainian strategy reflects a black hole of countless billions of dollars wasted.
Neo-Nazi thugs run things. Public anger against Poroshenko's regime grows. Rebels clearly hold the upper hand in Donbas fighting.
Kiev's military is in disarray. Fort Russ reported rebel forces able to breach well fortified Kiev military positions "in a matter of hours."
In contrast, Ukraine's military is unable to "demonstrate an ability to seize a defended position with a rapid ground assault."
"(O)ne gets the impression that (rebel forces are) toying with its enemy…Ukrainian troops are being ground to bits by a combination of lightning (rebel) assaults…futile counterattacks (and heavy) artillery fire."
"(M)any components of the ramshackle Ukrainian military (regular army, National Guard, volunteer battalions, MVD, the Right Sector battalions which don't seem to recognize any authority, etc., etc., etc.) are starting to look askance at one another, suspecting each other of, if not treason, then at least not pulling their weight."
Given how badly things are going combined with growing popular discontent, Ukraine's survival in its present form may be very much up for grabs.
Washington's Ukraine gambit failed. At least so far. Whether more heavy weapons combined with greater US involvement on the ground can change things remains to be seen.
US post-9/11 direct and proxy wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine reflect one failure after another. 
Impeding Washington's imperial ambitions. Hopefully heading toward undermining them altogether. The only chance for world peace.
A Final Comment
Transparency International (TI) calls Ukraine Europe's most corrupt country. A year after Maidan, it remains so.
It ranks among the world's most corrupt countries. "Despite 'the facade change,' Ukraine continues treading water," said TI.
Newly adopted anti-corruption laws last October did nothing to change things. Ukraine's military is affected.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of supplies and equipment are stolen. High-ranking officers are involved.
Ukraine's neo-Nazi Right Sector contributes enormously to Kiev's dirty war on Donbas. The anti-regime CyberBerkut hacking group accused RS leader Dmitry Yarosh of "economic crimes," saying:
"We are publishing documents that expose the criminal activities of the head of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which confirm multiple incidences of extortion - the illegal and cynical seizure of properties and businesses belonging to Ukrainian citizens by Yarosh and his associates." 
"The stolen money is then taken out of the country through fronts and deposited in offshore accounts."
"Now everyone will know that Yarosh and his band of neo-Nazis are just using politics as a cover for their criminal activities and personal enrichment at the expense of ordinary Ukrainians."
Yarosh is a parliamentary deputy. He's on Interpol's wanted list on charges of inciting terrorism.
He was involved in Maidan violence toppling Viktor Yanukovych. His thugs murdered hundreds last May in Odessa. He's likely responsible for many other atrocities.
He's like others in high places in Kiev's government and military. Responsible for enormous corruption. 
Perhaps worse than pre-Maidan. Obama's new friends are neo-Nazi criminals. US tax dollars support them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Medical Neglect in Israel's Gulag - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 18:50
Medical Neglect in Israel's Gulag
by Stephen Lendman
Conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons are horrific by any standard. Some of the worst anywhere. 
Including children treated like adults. Brutalizing longterm isolation for any reason or none at all. 
Severe overcrowding. Poor ventilation and sanitation. Inadequate clothing.
Wooden planks with thin filthy mattresses and blankets. Inadequate food in terms of quality, quantity and conformance with dietary requirements. 
Restricted or no access to family members, friends or counsel. Poor or denied medical care when most needed.
UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners require they "be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings."
"There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."
"(A)ll prisoners shall be discharged in keeping with a State's other social objectives and its fundamental responsibilities for promoting the well-being and development of all members of society."
International human rights law prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Affirming the right to health. 
Requiring all members of society receive proper treatment to the extent feasible. Incarceration is no excuse for denial.
Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) requires treating "(a)ll persons deprived of their liberty (with) humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."
Geneva's Common Article 3 requires "humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s)."
Fourth Geneva's Article 56 states:
"To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics." 
"Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties."
Article 91 requires "(e)very place of internment...have an adequate infirmary, under the direction of a qualified doctor, where internees may have the attention they require, as well as an appropriate diet. Isolation wards shall be set aside for cases of contagious or mental diseases."
Article 92 states "(m)edical inspections of internees shall be made at least once a month." 
"Their purpose shall be, in particular, to supervise the general state of health, nutrition and cleanliness of internees, and to detect contagious diseases, especially tuberculosis, malaria, and venereal diseases." 
"Such inspections shall include, in particular, the checking of weight of each internee and, at least once a year, radioscopic examination."
Palestinians are willfully denied proper treatment. On January 31, the International Middle East Media Center said:
"Sick Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails continue to suffer from the prison administration's systematic policy of medical negligence…"
"(F)urther worsening already precarious health conditions," according to "the detainees and ex-detainees affairs committee…"
Most Palestinian prisoners are incarcerated for political reasons. For wanting fundamental rights everyone deserves.
Imprisonment in insect and rat infested cells is standard Israeli practice. So is extreme cold in winter and lack of heating.
Wastewater leaks into cells. Making horrific conditions worse. Committee attorney Mo'taz Shqirat highlighted three cases among many others.
Examples of untreated deteriorating health. Because prison authorities deny it.
Mohannad al-Arqan was sentenced to life imprisonment. Suffering from "extremely difficult health conditions."
After being diagnosed with live cancer almost 13 years ago. Prison authorities denied him essential surgery needed to remove his early stage tumor.
His condition worsened over time. Especially in recent months. He reported getting no relief. 
No painkillers. Deliberate medical negligence amounting to cruel and unreasonable punishment.
He's slowly dying in pain. Imagine his life ending this way when proper care could save him.
Khaledd al-Qadi was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison. Reports indicate he urgently needs medical treatment.
His immune system is gravely impaired. He's unable to move. He's diagnosed with Hepatitis B. Transmitted through improper prison dental clinic treatment in March 2014.
Uncared for ever since. Doctors refuse to help. Hepatitis B is sometimes fatal if not treated.
Ali Hassan was imprisoned for life plus seven years. He suffers from various health problems. Including respiratory and spinal ones.
Prison authorities denied him treatment. He suffers from back pain. It's worsening. He needs crutches to walk.
Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe reports about 1,500 ill Palestinian prisoners denied vitally needed medical care.
Around 80 are in serious condition. Suffering from cancer, other major diseases, paralysis, disabilities, neurological disorders and mental illness.
According to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association:
"Israeli authorities responsible for prisoners regularly neglect their duties to provide medical support for Palestinian prisoners in their care, as required by the Geneva Conventions." 
"Medical problems are widespread, and range in severity from chest infections and diarrhea to heart problems and kidney failure." 
"Treatment is often inadequate and is delivered after substantial delays. Often medication is limited to over-the-counter pain killers.
Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialized medical healthcare is generally unavailable." 
"Prisoners are not treated outside the assigned clinic hours and typically must wait for long periods of time before being examined." 
"Once they are examined, however, most prisoners are simply prescribed painkillers without any thorough medical follow-up." 
"Transfers to hospitals for needed treatment may take place only after weeks or months" if al all.
"Detention conditions have a huge impact on the health of prisoners and detainees."
"…released detainees are often faced with chronic health problems such as skin diseases, extreme fatigue, anemia and weakness, kidney problems, rheumatism, problems with their teeth and ulcers." 
Since 1967, dozens of Palestinian prisoners died from medical neglect. Many painfully over a prolonged period. A crime against humanity by any standard.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Netanyahu: Symbol of Rogue Governance - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 03:02
Netanyahu: Symbol of Rogue Governance
by Stephen Lendman
Arguably he's Israel's worst ever prime minister. Disgracing the office he holds. A fascist by any standard. Exceeding Sharonian evil.
Even money to remain prime minister after mid-March elections. Israelis are as out-of-touch as Americans. 
Mindlessly supporting what demands rejection. Why they put up with Netanyahu they'll have to explain. A war criminal multiple times over.
So-called BibiTours charges remain outstanding. Unresolved because Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein seems intent on helping him remain prime minister, Haaretz contends.
Its editors state:
"This behavior is seen in a series of actions and blunders, the most recent and blatant of which was submitted to the High Court of Justice, as a response to a petition against Weinstein's decision to suffice with an 'examination' of the suspicions against Netanyahu over the funding of trips and transfer of funds for other purposes when he was head of the opposition."
At issue is Netanyahu benefitting from luxury travel. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are involved. Including alleged double-billing and forged receipts.
Official travel is one thing. Paid for by state funds.  Wealthy donor supporters financing first-class flights, luxury hotels, fancy cars, personal assistants, entertainment and five-star restaurant meals for personal travel is quite another entirely.
These type perks are ethically questionable and then some. Perhaps illegal under Israeli party funding laws.
Haaretz accused state law enforcement of "dragg(ing) its feet." On the pretext that Netanyahu isn't "any (ordinary) suspect."
Claiming his fate affects Israel's entire political system is "groundless," said Haaretz. "(I)f a prime minister…violate(s) the law, he must stand trial like anyone else."
Israeli elections are six weeks away. Polls show Netanyahu's Likud and Labor/Hatnua's new Zionist Camp about even.
Newly released numbers have Likud winning 25 Knesset seats. Zionist Camp 24. Bayit Yehudi 14.
Joint Arab List 12. Yesh Atid 11. United Torah Judaism and Koolanu 8 each. Shas 7. Meretz 6. Yisrael Beiteinu 5. 
No single party ever won a majority of Israel's 120 Knesset seats. Coalitions govern. 
Hardliners often dominate. For sure under Sharon and Netanyahu. Fascists by any standard.
Zionist Camp co-chair Tzipi Livni accused Netanyahu of spending "100,000 shekels of public funds over two years on alcohol."
Around $25,000. Mostly on wine. For personal use. On January 30, Haaretz accused State Comptroller Joseph Shapira of "holding up a report on seemingly excessive expenditures at the prime minister's residences."
Waiting until post-elections. Perhaps intending to bury it altogether. Haaretz cites allegations involving hundreds of thousands of shekels.
Netanyahu improperly or illegally benefitted at taxpayers' expense.
On February 1, Haaretz editors called him "a ticking cluster bomb, discharging its lethal load at time intervals and destroying the remains of Israel's standing in the world."
His "campaign propaganda (and irresponsible policies) threat(en) Israel's security…"
Killing Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh, five other Hezbollah fighters, Iranian General Mohammed Allahdaddi and five other Iranians for security reasons "is not convincing," said Haaretz.
Doing so was cold-blooded murder. Longstanding Israeli practice. Including numerous targeted assassinations. 
Throughout its bloodstained history, Israel never once was held accountable for its high crimes. They continue daily.
Netanyahu circumventing official protocol by arranging to address a joint congressional session in early March was way over-the-top. A brazen campaign stunt. 
"…Israel's friends, both Republicans and Democrats, view (his) visit as a diplomatic " ' terror attack' whose purpose (is) more to bypass their president than just another effort to warm against (a nonexistent) Iranian threat," said Haaretz editors.
Reportedly Obama is furious. Plans no meeting with Netanyahu during his visit. Unprecedented when an Israeli prime minister comes to Washington.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she "doesn't know" if most Democrats will attend Netanyahu's address. Let him go on US Sunday talk shows instead, she advised.
Friday's announced tenders for 450 new settlement homes on stolen Palestinian land was Netanyahu's latest "firebomb." 
Another brazen pre-election stunt. He "could have waited another six weeks" but acted now to boost his "election campaign," said Haaretz editors.
"Netanyahu is removing all the brakes that guided him in office, cruising at full throttle in an election race in which Israel’s interests are considered marginal compared to his lust for victory."
What does he plan next? What new over-the-top stunts will he use to boost his reelection chances?
How much more harm will he cause? "The Israeli public…should review the balance sheet carefully ahead of the election and settle accounts with him" once and for all.
The longer he retains power, the greater the internal and regional harm. Netanyahu is much more than a ticking cluster bomb.
Partnered with Washington, he's a nuclear one threatening world peace and security.
Haaretz editors ignored his greatest crimes. Including two horrific Gaza wars. Naked aggression. Inflicting mass slaughter and destruction.
Preventing reconstruction by controlling everything on the ground. Terrorizing Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem communities multiple times daily.
Murdering noncombatant civilians. Including young children and women. Committing daily high crimes too serious to ignore.
He belongs in prison, not high office. Haaretz editors didn't explain. Israeli voters are mindless about horrific conditions Palestinians face.
Netanyahu's bluster wore thin long ago. Claiming Iran threatens Israel's destruction elevates chutzpah to a higher level. One of his  many Big Lies.
He believes war is peace. Saying bombing Iran's nuclear facilities will "spread relief" across the Middle East is polar opposite reality.
He finds new ways of making more enemies than friends. On January 27, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg headlined "The Netanyahu Disaster."
"(D)espite their mutual loathing," he and Obama manage to work together on Iran and other issues, said Goldberg.
For sure against Syria's Assad. Waging direct and proxy war. Netanyahu opposes P5+1 talks with Iran.
Wants its nuclear facilities eliminated. Despite no evidence of a military component or intention to have one.
"He has not attacked Iran, which is good," said Goldberg. Doing so "holds the promise of disaster."
"(B)ut he has decided to ruin his relations with Obama." Making them worse than already.
Never perhaps is US/Israeli history have two leaders been so contemptuous of each other.
"(E)nd-run(ning) around (Obama) (by addressing) Congress to oppose" his policy on Iran is unprecedented and then some.
Especially since odds of resolving things equitably with Iran are slim at best.
Previous articles stressed ongoing nuclear talks are red herring cover for regime change. 
Washington wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing Iranian sovereign independence. 
Claims about an existential Iranian threat don't wash. Big Lies substitute for hard truths.
Netanyahu and Obama give rogue governance new meaning. Goldberg said Netanyahu's "recent actions (show) he doesn't quite know what he's doing."
Six years of Obama policies show he's heading America more deeply into the abyss than when he took office.
Immanuel Wallerstein calls it "liv(ing) amidst chaos. The world-system is in serious trouble and it is causing pain to the vast majority of the world's population," he explains.
It's "self-destructing…(T)he present system cannot survive…(T)he (key) question is what will replace it." Something better or perhaps much worse. 
With leaders like Obama, Netanyahu and likeminded lunatics, humanity's survival is up for grabs. Especially since media scoundrels support what demands denunciation.
World headlines should explain what everyone needs to know. Honest commentaries should in detail.
Maybe enough people would be aroused to change things. Potential disaster looms otherwise. 
Try finding one daily MSM headline explaining what's most important. Change destructive US/Israeli-dominated Western policies or perish. There's no in-between.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Kiev Junta Plans Escalated War - Sun, 01/02/2015 - 21:09
Kiev Junta Plans Escalated War
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, Contact Group representatives met in Minsk. Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini represented the OSCE.
Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, represented Moscow. Former President Leonid Kuchma represented Kiev.
Donetsk People's Republic (DRP) parliament Speaker Denis Pushilin and Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) chief negotiator Vladislav Deinego participated.
Talks accomplished nothing. Kiev wants war, not peace. More on this below. 
Kuchma accused Donbas officials of refusing "to discuss a plan of measures for a quick ceasefire and a pull-back of heavy weapons."
"The Ukrainian side does not accept any ultimatums or preliminary conditions," he hyperventilated.
Pushilin said Donbas wants constructive dialogue. "(N)ot (Kiev) ultimatums while shelling by their forces is going on…"
"(T)oday's meeting was (not) productive," he explained. "We have only just managed to exchange our stances."
Last April, Kiev launched premeditated aggression on Donbas. Fighting continues. No end of conflict looms. 
It "led to a huge civilian death toll, destruction of infrastructure and residential areas…(It) forced us to launch a counteroffensive and the line of contact has changed its boundaries," Pushilin explained.
LPR leader Igor Plotnitsky said Kiev failed to fulfill its Minsk requirement by failing to appoint official representatives to Saturday's talks.
Kuchma is a private citizen. He showed up with an undated document saying nothing about his authorization to represent Kiev.
According to Plotnitsky and Pushilin, doing so "relieve(d) him from responsibility in the event of not fulfilling the agreement."
Tass reported no future meeting date discussed. Earlier Geneva and Minsk talks accomplished nothing. Kiev violated agreed on terms straightaway.
Deinego said:
"A presumable date for the document stipulating the settlement in the war-torn Donbass, which should be signed by leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics…was not on the table of the (Saturday) Minsk talks."  Because of a "differences in attitudes," he explained.
"It was put off until accord on the main issue - a ceasefire - is reached but...Poroshenko’s decree is needed here as no-one can believe a ceasefire will materialise until a decree of this kind is officially published and released."
Pushilin said follow-up discussions depend on Kiev's policy. "(W)e've displayed a stance that's up to the point," he explained. 
"We also presented all the arguments that would help prevent more shelling and what’s needed now for the Prime Ministers of the two republics (Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky) to come to Minsk is practical ceasefire."
"What’s needed is Poroshenko's relevant order to all the units of the Armed Forces and the 'national guard,' " he said.
"Firing by (Kiev) troops has to stop," he stressed. Donbas "leaders are fully involved in repelling attacks."
A Friday Russian Foreign Ministry statement said:
"Regrettably, not a day passes without tragic news coming from Donbass about the barbaric actions from the Ukrainian security forces that are affecting innocent civilian victims."
"Today as well, reports are coming in about the shelling of civilian targets in Donetsk, among them community centres and public transit stops, leading to civilian casualties and injuries."
"Once again, we urge the Kiev authorities to come to their senses and end this cruel war against their own people." 
"Solutions to any problems should be sought at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield."
From last August through January, Russia sent 11 humanitarian convoys to Donbas. Delivered about 14,800 tons of vitally need food, medicines, medical equipment and other essential supplies.
On January 31, a 12th convoy was dispatched. Carrying 1,500 tons of food, medical supplies, fuel, lubricants and other supplies.
Kiev calls humanitarian Russian aid "direct invasion(s)" of Ukrainian territory. Junta officials want Donbas residents starved to death.
Russia is the only nation sending essential relief aid. US-led Western ones are part of the problem, not the solution,
Donbas is Obama's war. Using Ukraine forces as US proxies.  Murdering noncombatant men, women and children.
Washington continues supplying lethal heavy weapons covertly for genocidal war. US military forces are directly involved. So are Western mercenaries.
So-called peace talks are cover for escalated war. On Friday, Kiev forces shelled Donetsk. At least 12 civilians queued for humanitarian aid were killed. Others injured.
City officials said "(t)he cultural center giving out humanitarian aid was shelled. There are victims."
Firing came from Opytnoye. A neutral zone north of Donetsk's airport. Donbas officials said Kiev forces "approached it. Shelled the city and then moved back to their positions."
Willfully killing civilians. Like so many times before. War crimes by any standard. Western officials turn a blind eye. MSM reports blame rebels for Kiev crimes.
Its national security and defense council press representative Vladimir Polevoy lied blaming rebels for Friday's attack.
A "provocation (to) disrupt the peace process and the meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk," he claimed.
Kiev artillery "never did and does not shell residential areas." Polar opposite clear, indisputable hard facts. 
Blaming self-defense forces for Kiev crimes doesn't wash. Convincing evidence proves otherwise.
On Saturday, Tass reported DPR and LPR officials citing evidence of Kiev preparing for escalated fighting. A new offensive.
According to Deinego, "there is information from…intelligence (soures) and (Kiev POWs) on the preparation of another attack."
Rebels responded by "push(ing) Ukrainian artillery away from the residential areas," he said.
Escalated fighting could begin any time. With full US support and encouragement. Pentagon officials announced sending US forces to directly aid Kiev's military.
Including its infamous National Guard. Infested with neo-Nazis like Azov Battalion members. Involved in committing horrific atrocities.
Azov states it aims "(t)o prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire white race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital."
It wants what it calls "sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man" punished.
It urges a white Christian crusade against "subhuman" Jews and other minorities.
It openly displays Nazi symbols and insignia. Including a modified Wolf's Hook. A black sun (Hakensonne).
The designation Black Corps used by Hitler's Waffen SS. German television showed Azov members wearing uniforms with Nazi swastikas and SS symbols.
According to one unnamed militant, "(t)o become an Azov fighter, you have to be a proper white man."
Most are Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists. Azov officials are Kiev parliamentary members. 
Holding influential regime positions. Including its leader Andriy Biletsky. Poroshenko awarded him an "Order For Courage." 
According to Biletsky:
"The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival." 
"A crusade against the Semite-led sub-humans. The task of the present generation is to create a Third Empire."
He and likeminded lunatics are Obama's new friends. One fascist regime supports another.
Russia is irresponsibly blamed for their crimes. Ongoing with no end in sight. Likely heading for something much more serious.
East/West confrontation. European war pitting America against Russia. The unthinkable heads closer to being possible.
MSM/Kiev propaganda blames phantom Russian invaders. At the same time, Ukraine's military chief of staff, Viktor Muzhenko, admitted none involved in Donbas fighting on national television.
"Right now the Ukrainian army is not engaged in combat operations against Russian regular units," he explained.
Poroshenko lied claiming 9,000 Russian troops in Ukraine. Citing no corroborating evidence. None exists.
According to a Ukrainian military staff statement:
"There is absolutely no way you can possibly hide huge military formations on a relatively small territory wide open to reporters and OSCE representatives."
No satellite or other intelligence show Russian military forces in Ukraine. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Kremlin authorities dismiss these type accusations as "primitive fake(s)." Propaganda devoid of truth.
Rebels continue routing Kiev military forces. Growing numbers want no part of war. 
Thousands ignore conscription orders. They refuse to fight their own citizens. 
Reports indicate about 1.2 million military-aged males fled Ukraine for Russia. According to Moscow's Federal Migration Service, more than 2.4 million Ukrainians entered Russian territory.
Plus hundreds of thousands more to Crimea and Donbas Oblast areas. It bears repeating. Ongoing conflict threatens to explode into something much more serious.
Unthinkable if Washington challenges Russia militarily. Obama wants congressional authorization for unconstrained war at his discretion. Granting it could be prelude to WW III.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

No Breakthroughs in Syrian Peace Talks - Sun, 01/02/2015 - 03:30
No Breakthroughs in Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
None were expected. Conflict continues. Ongoing since March 2011. Syria is Obama's war. There's nothing civil about it.
Death squad insurgents are US proxies. Recruited, armed, funded, trained and directed by CIA operatives and Pentagon special forces. 
So-called IS, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and other takfiri terrorists are imported from dozens of countries.
Longstanding US/Israeli plans call for regime change. Replacing Assad with pro-Western stooge governance.
Previous Geneva I and II peace talks accomplished nothing. Russia's best efforts were for naught. 
Takrifi elements weren't involved in current ones. They control large parts of Syrian territory. They want it all. 
Russia has done more than any other nation to end conflict diplomatically. On Friday, four days of peace talks in Moscow ended.
Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental Studies director Vitaly Naumkin served as moderator.
Before talks began, he said they'd include no preconditions. Free dialogue. No prearranged agenda. 
No international pressure to direct things one way or another.
Syrians alone participated. In a personal capacity rather than officially representing groups opposing Assad.
Talks were private. Held in two stages. On January 26 and 27, opposition representatives met with Syrian civil society groups.
On January 28 and 29, they met with Syrian officials. Naumkin said talks weren't meant to replace Geneva I and II.
He called it "great if (they) help(ed) resume the Geneva process." At the same time, he said "no one expects an agreement to be signed."
The main objective was "mak(ing) personalities (on all sides) discuss the basis of dialogue."
"The issue of fighting terrorism was one of the key themes discussed. This is exactly what brings the sides together as a key challenge to Syria's territorial integrity and unity."
In mid-January, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow invited nearly 30 opposition group representatives to participate in talks. 
Around 40 showed up. IS and other tarfiri elements were excluded. Washington-backed Syrian National Coalition representatives refused to participate. 
So did opposition figure Mouath Al Khatib. Former National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces president.
They insist Assad must go. Naumkin commented saying "(i)f you are a Syrian patriot, why would you not want to use even a tiny possibility to come and talk?"
"(E)ven if you do not agree with Russia's position." Achieving peace involves advancing things one baby step at a time. 
Anything helping to break impasse is a step in the right direction. Washington is the main obstacle. Obama didn't wage proxy war to quit. Conflict shows no signs of ending.
Syria's delegation included six representatives headed by its UN envoy Bashar al Jaafari. Commenting after talks ended, he said:
"We did not hear a single unified position from the opposition delegations. What some could agree on, others rejected."
Russia proposed so-called "Moscow principles." Including maintaining Syrian sovereignty. Its state institutions. 
Its territorial integrity. Ending Israel's Golan occupation. Confronting terrorism. Countering foreign intervention. Resolving conflict diplomatically. 
A separate document was presented. An "Appeal to the International Community." 
Its four points asked international leaders for vitally needed humanitarian aid. Easing (lawlessly imposed) Syrian sanctions. 
Denounced Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon. Condemned international interference in Syrian affairs. Brazenly illegal under international law.
Russia's initiative was helpful, said Jaafari. It helped break longstanding impasse between Damascus and attending opposition representatives.
"The Russian friends have succeeded where others have failed," said Jaafari. Talks will continue in early March, he added.
On January 30, Tass said participants approved Moscow principles. Russia's Foreign Ministry was cited saying talks "reflected growing sentiment inside Syria in favor of more active and effective steps aimed to restore peace…"
On January 28, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov welcomed participants to Moscow. Saying "(t)errorists and extremists of all kinds came to Syria from all over the world." 
"We, as your true friends, are convinced that in the wake of these trials and tribulations, Syria will emerge as a single, sovereign, secular and prosperous state, in which all its citizens and all ethnic and religious groups will feel comfortable and safe, and their rights will be securely upheld."
"Transitioning from confrontation to dialogue and bringing about solutions to pressing issues on the national agenda require considerable efforts, including the willingness to make inevitable mutual concessions and compromises." 
"This is the only way to save Syria and defeat the forces that want to degrade its people, and split and undermine the unity of the country, while ignoring the risks of the spread of extremism and international terrorism across the region."
"Russia's position on the Syrian crisis has always been consistent." 
"We have always advocated for a settlement by Syrians themselves based on the principles of the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012, the basic principle of which is about achieving mutual consent of the Syrian sides through an inclusive national dialogue without any preconditions."
"This is exactly what we strive to promote as we provide you with a venue in Moscow for starting an inclusive dialogue."
"The whole point of the Geneva communique is that the settlement process cannot and should not be a zero-sum game." 
"All Syrians must benefit from it. We are deeply convinced that external intervention, be it in the form of military actions or attempts to impose political dictate through unilateral sanctions, undermines the spirit and the letter of the Geneva communique."
Last October, Lavrov, Moscow's Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov and other Russian officials met with Syrian opposition figures and government officials. Attempted to restart peace talks.
Participants in Moscow represented widely divergent views. Many more concerned about their own interests than what benefits ordinary Syrians.
In a recent interview, Assad explained saying "(y)ou have personalities who only represent themselves." 
"They don't represent anyone in Syria. Some of them never lived in Syria, and they know nothing about the country."
Moscow's meeting wasn't about "negotiat(ing) the solution. It's only preparations for (a later to be held) conference."
Reports suggest opposition elements dropped their demand for establishing immediate transitional government excluding Assad.
Agreeing to continue talks was modestly encouraging. Far from conflict resolution. Nowhere near in sight.
Nor can it be with IS and other takfiri terrorists rejecting peace. Continuing war. With full US support and encouragement.
As long as Obama wants regime change. As long as Israel demands it. As long as rogue EU partners play by Washington/Israeli rules. Expect no end of conflict.
Forever talks won't end it. Countless thousands more will die. Maybe half of Syria's population will end up displaced. 
Increasing parts of the country will be turned to rubble. Obama bears full responsibility. Another high crime on his rap sheet.
In mid-January, Pentagon officials announced sending hundreds of so-called US "specialists" and "enabling forces" to train anti-Assad elements.
Takfiri terrorists by any standard. Showing Washington intends escalated conflict. Training will be at US bases and facilities in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
Plans are to train thousands of extremist fighters annually. Perhaps double down on numbers US forces currently train.
Obama wants war, not peace. It bears repeating. Forever talks won't change things. 
Anti-war activism alone perhaps can accomplish what diplomacy has virtually no chance of achieving. So far it's nowhere in sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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

Nuland at Brookings - Sat, 31/01/2015 - 20:51
Nuland at Brookings
by Stephen Lendman
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is one of many hardcore neocons infesting Obama's administration.
On January 27, she spoke at Washington's Brookings Institution. An elitist think tank supporting wealth, power and privilege. An establishment organization representing America's dark side.
Deploring peace. Promoting war. Featuring speakers like Nuland discussing "unity in challenging times. Building on transatlantic resolve." More on her comments below.
A previous article explained her hardcore background. A foreign service official for Democrat and Republican administrations.
Earlier she covered Russian internal politics at Washington's Moscow embassy.
Served on the Soviet Desk in Washington. Worked in the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Served in Guangzhou, China. 
Was Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Directed a task force on Russia, its neighbors and an expanding NATO.
Was Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's chief of staff. Was US Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO. 
Was Dick Cheney's principal Deputy National Security Advisor. Was Permanent US Representative to NATO.
A former National War College faculty member. Obama's special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
On September 18, 2013, she was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Her husband, Robert Kagan, co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). A neocon foreign policy theorist/hardliner.
He advised John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Served on Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board.
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is PNAC's current incarnation. Kagan is a board of directors member. Representing the worst of America's dark side. So does Nuland.
She was Obama's point person in charge of manipulating regime change in Ukraine. Replacing its democratically elected government with fascist thugs.
Very much involved in Kiev's aggression on Donbas. She promotes "transatlantic resolve" against Russia.
Wants pro-Western fascist governance replacing its sovereign independence. A US-installed stooge replacing Putin. 
Eliminating a major rival. Transforming Russia into a US colony. Brookings' Center on the United States and Europe/anti-Putin ideologue, Fiona Hill, introduced Nuland.
Called her "one of our most distinguished public servants and diplomats. (At) the forefront of many of the major crises that we've been dealing with over the last several months."
Heavily involved in creating crises. Mainly Ukraine. Blamed Russia for Kiev's crimes. Irresponsibly accused Moscow of "aggression."
Urged greater NATO presence close to Russia's border, saying:
"All NATO allies must continue to contribute to the land, sea, and air assurance mission all along NATO's eastern front line." 
"All must contribute to NATO's new spearhead force which will allow us to speed forces to trouble spots, and we must install command and control centers in all six front-line states as soon as possible."
NATO is an offensive killing machine. Nuland lied calling it "a defensive alliance." When its only enemies are ones it invents.
"Our goal is deterrence of aggression," she said. US-dominated NATO's goal is world conquest. 
Waging multiple direct and proxy wars to achieve it. Responsible for mass slaughter and destruction. Multi-trillions of dollars spent for making the world safe for monied interests.
"Our fight against ISIL and its affiliates" requires transatlantic unity, she claimed. ISIL/ISIS/IS and similar terrorist groups are US foot soldiers.
Recruited, armed, funded, trained and directed at CIA/US special forces bases Turkey, Jordan and Georgia. 
Used against America's adversaries. Earlier against Libya's Gaddafi. Currently against Syria's Assad.
Perhaps heading for Ukraine. Nuland ludicrously calls it the "frontline for freedom." Her comments sounded like bad fiction.
Saying "(o)ver the past year, we have all rejoiced in (its) successes."
Including replacing democracy with fascist tyranny. Tolerating no opposition. Abolishing human and civil rights. 
Holding sham elections with no legitimacy whatever. Shutting down independent media.
Waging dirty war without mercy on its own citizens. Against self-defense forces wanting democratic freedoms. What everyone deserves.
Washington wants Russia's government toppled. Nuland turned truth on its head claiming otherwise.
Saying "we…want…a strong democratic Russia. (A) Russia that works with us, and with Europe, to build peace and security in the region and globally."
No world leader works harder for regional peace and stability than Putin. None more aggressively pursues war than Obama.
Putin supports a sovereign independent Ukraine. At peace internally and with its neighbors. 
US policy is polar opposite. Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Not according to Nuland. Blaming Moscow for US/Kiev crimes. Ludicrously claiming "an off-ramp for Russia, a route back to better ties with all of us, and it's very, very simple."
"The minute Russia allows Ukraine to control its side of the international border, and stops fueling the conflict the situation will improve."
In other words, peace in Ukraine depends on Russia observing Washington rules. Surrendering its sovereignty. 
Letting America control Eurasia en route to global dominance. Hill called Nuland's address "inspiring."
Admitted Washington wants Western-style governance replacing sovereign Russian independence. 
Ukraine is the pretext. Regime change the objective. By color revolution or war.
Soviet Russia's last leader Mikhail Gorbachev expressed grave concerns about what's ongoing in two recent interviews.
In mid-January, he told Der Spiegel he's "truly and deeply concerned." Asked about possible major conflict in Europe, he said "inevitably (it would) lead to nuclear war."
"(S)tatements from both sides and the propaganda lead me to fear the worst."
"I don't say things lightly. I am a man with a conscience. But that's the way things are. I am truly and deeply concerned," he stressed.
"NATO's eastward expansion" destroyed European security. Responsible Russian proposals are "arrogantly ignored by the West."
"We are now seeing the results." He called Ukraine's conflict personal. He's "half Ukrainian." On his mother's side. 
His wife Raisa was Ukrainian. She died in 1999. He has relatives and friends in Ukraine. 
When Soviet Russia dissolved, "America…started building a global empire," said Gorbachev. "(A) mega empire."
"(S)urrounding Russia with so-called rings of defense - NATO's eastward expansion." 
Intervening militarily instead of seeking peace and stability. When NATO raped Yugoslavia, it "triggered a backlash in Russia."
"No Kremlin leader" could ignore what happened. Or what followed. Gorbachev said he urged both sides in Ukraine to resolve conflict diplomatically.
What's ongoing "threat(ens) the entire world," he stressed. His pleas for peace and stability "fell on deaf ears," he said.
Gorbachev is aged 83. His strength and health are waning, he explained. In the last 18 months, he had "three serious operations."
"The whole world is fighting against aging," he said. "(B)ut there's nothing you can do about it."
"In some ways I feel old, but in others I feel young." In the time he has left, he wants to "live life and not just survive or vegetate and wait for death.
He'll travel to America to lecture, he said. His only source of income besides his books, he explained.
"I still have goals and that keeps me going. I want to continue to be part of the discussion about Russia's future, about global peace and environmental protection." 
"I want to write books, give lectures, attend conferences and give interviews."
Asked if he fears death, he said "not at all."
On January 29, he said "the US has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism."
"…I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a 'hot' one. I'm afraid (Washington) might take the risk."
"All we hear from the US and the EU now is sanctions against Russia."
"Are they completely out of their minds? The US has been totally 'lost in the jungle' and is dragging us there as well."
Things are on a collision course unless cooler heads stop it. Peace more than ever is vital. 
The alternative is humanity destroying nuclear war. Ongoing events aren't encouraging.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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



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