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Trump Declares May 1 Loyalty Day

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 02:35
Trump Declares May 1 Loyalty Day
by Stephen Lendman
International Workers’ Day is commemorated worldwide annually on May 1 - except in America, where worker rights long ago were abandoned, corporate profit-making alone supported.
Trump ignored what May Day signifies, proclaiming May 1 as Loyalty Day - insulting US workers, asking all Americans to pledge allegiance to what demands condemnation, saying:
“We pledge our dedication to the United States of America and honor its unique heritage, reminding ourselves that we are one Nation, under God, made possible by those who have sacrificed to defend our liberty.”
Fact: America’s “unique heritage” reflects doing more harm to more people over a longer duration than any other rogue regime in history.
Fact: Liberty in America is dying, tyranny replacing it, heading for becoming full-blown, one police state law and presidential directive at a time.
Trump’s proclamation: “The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice.” 
“Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it.”
Fact: America is a rogue terror state, waging war on humanity at home and abroad, responsible for  raping and destroying one nation after another, perhaps intending catastrophic nuclear war dooming us all.
Trump’s proclamation: “(W)e will always stand strong against the threats of terrorism and lawlessness. The loyalty of our citizenry sends a clear signal to our allies and enemies that the United States will never yield from our way of life.”  
“Through the Department of Defense and other national security agencies, we are working to destroy ISIS, and to secure for all Americans the liberty terrorists seek to extinguish.”
Fact: America created and supports the scourge of terrorism - recruiting, arming, funding and directing its fighters as imperial foot soldiers.
Fact: Washington isn’t “working to destroy ISIS” and other terrorist groups. It’s using them to do its killing and dying in lieu of large numbers of US combat troops deployed to numerous war theaters.
Trump proclamation: On Loyalty Day, “May 1 of each year…we honor the United States of America and those who uphold its values, particularly those who have fought and continue to fight to defend the freedom it affords us.”
Fact: American “values” demand condemnation, not support. Instead of defending fundamental freedoms, they’re being systematically destroyed worldwide so privileged elites can become richer and more powerful than ever.
Trump’s proclamation suppressed what should have been highlighted, exposing America’s pure evil, its agenda threatening humanity’s survival.
A Final Comment
Separately, Trump also declared May 1 “Law Day,” claiming it “reflect(s) upon our great heritage of liberty, justice and equality.”
Bipartisan self-serving power elites run things exclusively for privileged Americans, no others - defiling “liberty, justice and equality” they systematically reject.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Elusive Conflict Resolution in Syria

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 02:20
Elusive Conflict Resolution in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Five years of Russian good faith efforts haven’t borne fruition. Conflict in Syria continues raging. Peace remains elusive.
While Putin and Erdogan discussed Syria and other issues in Sochi, Russia, anti-Assad terrorists comprising the Western-sponsored Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an artificial construct, a rogue outlaw gang supporting war, abhorring peace, walked out of the latest round of Astana, Kazakhstan peace talks.
Its spokesman Ahmad Ramadan said the “delegation…suspend(ed) (participation)…until shelling stops across all Syria” - wrongfully accusing government forces of targeting civilians.
Talks were scheduled to focus on creating “de-escalation zones” in terrorists-held Idlib and Homs provinces, along with Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.
In Sochi, Putin said “(for) the development of the (Syrian) political process, a ceasefire must be provided...Russia, Turkey and Iran have all the time been thinking of how to secure this practice of a ceasefire. One of the methods is creating safe zones, or de-escalation zones.” 
Moscow earlier discussed them with Syria, Iran and Trump when the two leaders spoke on Tuesday, also with Erdogan during his Wednesday meeting with Putin.
Different sides in the Syrian conflict should be the ones to make “the final decision,” Putin stressed. They’re “in charge of the country’s fate.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to be guarantors. Moscow and Ankara concur about “safe zones…lead(ing) to further conciliation and strengthening of the ceasefire regime,” Putin said.
Russia and Tehran are committed for peaceful conflict resolution. Turkey can’t be trusted. Erdogan rules despotically. 
Last August, he invaded northern Syria. He wants areas his troops occupy annexed, a prescription for continued conflict, not resolution.
America can never be trusted, saying one thing, doing another, talking peace while waging war on multiple countries, others in its queue to attack.
Putin stressed Russia’s commitment for peaceful conflict resolution. He’ll continue combating terrorism, he said - the scourge America supports.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

The Illusion of US Cooperating With Russia in Combating Terrorism

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 21:38
The Illusion of US Cooperating With Russia in Combating Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman
America created and supports ISIS, al-Nusra and likeminded terrorist groups in Syria, the Middle East and elsewhere.
No US cooperation with Russia exists in combating this scourge. Rhetorical promises or suggestions otherwise by Washington are meaningless.
US preemptively waged wars aim to replace sovereign independent governments with pro-Western ones - in Syria and elsewhere.
Its relations with Russia remain irreconcilably adversarial because its deep state wants pro-Western governance replacing its sovereign independence.
Putin and China’s leadership are America’s main obstacles to unchallenged global dominance - nuclear war possible ahead against one or both countries, a doomsday scenario if launched by Washington.
Following Putin’s Tuesday phone call with Trump, the Kremlin press service tried putting a brave face on irreconcilable bilateral differences, saying:
“On May 2, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States Donald Trump. The sides discussed a number of topical issues of cooperation between the two countries on the international arena.” 
“The focus was laid on the prospects for coordination of Russia’s and the United States’ action in fighting against international terrorism in the context of the Syrian crisis.”
“The presidents, in particular, agreed to enliven dialogue the two countries’ foreign ministers to look for options for the consolidation of the ceasefire and making it sustainable and controlled.” 
“The goal is to create conditions for launching a real settlement process in Syria. Thus, the Russian foreign minister and the US secretary of state will inform the leaders about progress reached on this track.”
Chances for Washington cooperating with Russia on Syria or any other geopolitical issue is virtually nil.
Bashar al-Assad is right, saying Trump “is doing what he is told to do by the CIA, the Pentagon and major oil companies. (H)e…conform(s) to the established principles of US governance” like his predecessors.
Nothing suggests change. He’s captive to America’s deep state, doing its bidding, risking removal from office by impeachment or something more sinister if he diverges from longstanding policy.
US relations with Russia are as hostile as any time during decades of Cold War. America is at war in multiple theaters, escalated since Trump took office, conflict on the Korean peninsula threatened.
Russia and China are surrounded by hostile US military bases, both countries furious about Pentagon deployment of THAAD missiles targeting their homelands, giving America a first-strike advantage.
In a Tuesday press briefing, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said his country’s “position is clear-cut and firm. We oppose the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea and urge relevant sides to immediately stop the deployment. We are ready to take necessary measures to protect our interests.”
Russia considers deployment of THAADs an “additional destabilizing factor for the region.” Weeks earlier, Sergey Lavrov said THAADs “certainly affect our strategic forces, negatively affect(ing) the security not only of Russia but also China and other countries.” 
In March, Russia’s Defense and Security Committee chairman Victor Ozerov called deployment of THAADs “another provocation against Russia. Under the guise of a North Korean threat, (Washington) want(s) to close the ring around Russia…besieg(ing) it from the west and the east.”
Putin’s Tuesday discussion with Trump failed to change US geopolitical policies and intentions - despite positive spin reported.
America’s rage for unchallenged global dominance remains unchanged. Possible US nuclear war on North Korea, Russia, and China hangs like a sword of Damocles over humanity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

New Hamas Charter

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 21:29
New Hamas Charter
by Stephen Lendman
On Monday, Hamas announced it new charter, accepting a Palestinian state within June 1967 borders - while rejecting legitimacy of “the Zionist entity,” stating:
It “rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea.” 
“However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.”
New charter language differs from its original 1988 version, saying “all Palestinian land is sacred; there can be no end to conflict with Israel.”
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiative, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
It also called itself humanistic and tolerant of other religions as long as its adherents “stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region. (R)enouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the (Islamic) religion.”
In 2008, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the group would accept a Palestinian state within June 1967 borders. 
Years earlier, Hamas Political Bureau chairman Khaled Mashal earlier said historic Palestine is “our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it.”
In 2010, he said the original charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons.”
Israel relies on confrontation and conflict to pursue its imperial agenda, wanting the Middle East map redrawn, eliminating regional rivals, balkanizing and weakening Arab nations, leaving itself the sole dominant one.
Peace and stability are anathema to its objectives. As expected, Netanyahu denounced the new Hamas charter, calling it a “smoke screen,” falsely claiming the group “continue(es) invest(ing) all of its resources not just in preparing for war with Israel, but also in educating the children of Gaza to want to destroy Israel.”
Fact: Israel is a nuclear-armed military powerhouse. It ruthlessly smashed Gaza three times since December 2008, another preemptive war possible any time for any contrived reason.
Fact: Israeli military might could turn the entire Strip to rubble, massacring hundreds of thousands if it wished.
Fact: Hamas wants peace and stability, not war. It wants fundamental Palestinian rights recognized and respected - by Israel and the world community.
Its new charter calls Jerusalem Palestine’s capital, stresses the Al-Aksa Mosque’s importance for Muslims, saying “the occupation’s plots, measures and attempts to Judaize Al-Aksa and divide it are null, void and illegitimate.”
It calls the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homeland an “inalienable…natural right, both individual and collective.”
It denounces “(t)he Zionist project (as) racist, aggressive, colonial and expansionist…based on seizing the properties of others.”
“(I)t is hostile to the Palestinian people and to their aspiration for freedom, liberation, return and self-determination.”
It claims the legitimacy of armed struggle, though accepts resisting nonviolently. Its conflict is with “Zionist” occupiers,” not with Jews.
It calls for free and fair elections, stating “the Palestinian Authority should…serve the Palestinian people and safeguard their security (and) rights…”
At a Monday press conference, Meshal said “Hamas objects to any plan offering an alternative (Palestinian) homeland. (It’s) willing to negotiate a sovereign and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital” as the basis for any conflict resolution deal with Israel, adding:
“(T)he  new document will undermine neither our principles nor our strategy. Jerusalem, the right of return, Palestinian unity and the resistance forces are fundamental principles. The changes relate to regional developments, and suit the era.”
Hamas will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, he stressed. Its new charter was released ahead of Trump’s Wednesday meeting with Israeli-anointed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas at a time most Palestinians despise him.
He serves Israeli interests, not theirs. Both leaders will discuss restarting futile peace talks, dead-on-arrival each time initiated because Israel and Washington want conflict, not resolution; Palestinian subservience, not independence; continued occupation harshness, not liberation.
On Tuesday, Israel commemorated its 69th so-called independence birthday - the Palestinian Nakba.
June marks 50 years of brutal occupation harshness - an entire population persecuted for not being Jewish.
A Tuesday White House reception highlighted one-sided US support for Israel.
“America stands with Israel,” Vice President Pence bellowed. “President Trump stands with Israel for the same reason that every freedom-loving American stands with Israel - because her cause is our cause. Her values are our values. And her fight is our fight.”
As always, truth-telling and fundamental Palestinian rights were ignored.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Al-Qaeda Allied With US-Backed Forces in Yemen

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 21:07
Al-Qaeda Allied With US-Backed Forces in Yemen
by Stephen Lendman
On May 2, the UK Independent headlined “Al-Qaeda claims it is ‘fighting alongside’ US-backed coalition forces in Yemen,” saying:
Its leader in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Qasim al-Rimi “said his fighters have worked with government-allied factions…toward their common goal of (defeating) the Houthi(s).”
Though he didn’t elaborate on saying “(w)e fight alongside all Muslims in Yemen, together with different Islamic groups,” including “the Muslim Brotherhood and also our brothers among the sons of (Sunni) tribes,” these elements are allied with Yemen’s exiled Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi regime combating Shia Houthis.
America, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Israel support Sunni fighters, supplying them with arms, munitions and funding, Riyadh aerial operations terrorize Yemeni civilians in Houthi-controlled areas.
Al-Rimi commented from an undisclosed location in Yemen, the Independent explained.
Since full-scale war began in March 2015, al-Qaeda and other US/Saudi-backed terrorist groups “greatly increase(d) their footprint in the country.”
One of the dirty secrets of ongoing US direct and proxy wars is its use of ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria), and likeminded groups as imperial foot soldiers - supported by Pentagon-led so-called “coalition” terror-bombing, targeting vital infrastructure and government sites, massacring thousands of civilians.
Hegemons operate this way, ignoring international laws, norms and standards, raping and destroying countries to control term - America by far the worst offender.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Trump Seeking Change in Libel Laws?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 03:37
Trump Seeking Change in Libel Laws?
by Stephen Lendman
To win defamation lawsuits, plaintiffs must prove falsified statements or information - causing material harm either negligently or willfully.
A thin line at times separates free expression from defamation in America. Slander and libel laws are more defendant-friendly than the other way around.
At the same time, false statements or information harming the reputation of individuals, businesses or other entities aren’t protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.
Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act absolves Internet service providers and web sites of defamation liability over user comments and content - why Facebook, Google and other online platforms aren’t libelous for material on their sites.
If plaintiffs are public figures like Trump or members of Congress, the standard of willful malice must be met to be deemed libelous.
Besides federal standards, each state has its own, complicating things further. Weighing in on the issue, Supreme Court rulings held that plaintiffs must demonstrate factually inaccurate statements made with “actual malice” or a “reckless disregard” for the truth - no simple task.
Weeks earlier, Trump tweeted: “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?”
Candidate Trump said he’d “open up” libel laws as president to challenge media fake news - “so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
“So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
He’s treading on dangerous ground if he follows through irresponsibly on changing libel laws to let him target critics in court.
Media and other forms of free expression are vital rights. Without them, all others are endangered.
During his Monday press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is “looking into” possible ways to change federal libel laws to make it easier to target reporters producing inaccurate stories.
“(T)hat is something that is being looked into substantively, and then both logistically how it would happen,” he said.
On ABC News Sunday, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the issue is being discussed, but “how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”
Lawsuit filings are easy, winning another matter entirely, especially if media are targeted - able to use the power of the press to counter plaintiffs and influence public opinion, with plenty of help from other fourth estate members.
A greater concern is targeting whistleblowers for exposing government wrongdoing and responsible journalists for doing their job, especially independent ones.
Last December, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act - an unconstitutional measure against First Amendment freedoms.
On December 23, ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend, Obama signed it into law practically unnoticed. Along with approving bloated military spending, it establishes a Center for Information Analysis and Response - a de facto ministry of truth.
It aims to counter truth-telling on vital issues, suppress what everyone has a right to know, replace it with state-sponsored propaganda - along with perhaps targeting reliable independent sources of news, information and analysis for elimination.
It’s the law of the land if Trump intends using it. His FCC director Ajit Pai wants Net Neutrality undermined. Last December, he said its days are “numbered.”
Digital democracy is threatened with him as FCC director. Federal Center for Information Analysis and Response authority can target anything the administration calls disinformation and propaganda for elimination - gravely threatening First Amendment rights.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

US Coup Plot Wants Venezuela's Government Toppled

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 03:30
US Coup Plot Wants Venezuela’s Government Toppled
by Stephen Lendman
Since Hugo Chavez’s February 1999 ascension to power, Washington wanted Venezuela’s bad old days restored - fascism replacing Bolivarian social democratic freedoms.
Multiple attempts failed to remove Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. For weeks, US-orchestrated street violence again rages, along with economic war since Maduro’s April 2013 election.
Manipulated street rage is part of the latest plot to destabilize the country, wanting him made vulnerable to toppling. 
On May Day in Caracas, he called for convening a constitutionally permitted constituent assembly, saying “I convoke the original constituent power to achieve the peace needed by the Republic, defeat the fascist coup, and let the sovereign people impose peace, harmony and true national dialogue. I don’t want a civil war.”
Let the popular will, “the communities, the peasants” rewrite constitutional provisions to help restore peace and stability.
It’s unclear how he intends doing it. Straightaway in office, Chavez let Venezuelan voters decide whether to convene a national constituent assembly - to draft a new Bolivarian Constitution.
They overwhelmingly approved. Three months later, National Assembly elections were held. Chavistas won 95% of the seats. 
They drafted a Bolivarian constitution. A second referendum followed. Venezuelans again overwhelmingly approved it. Historic provisions became law. 
No constitution anywhere matches it, a living document Venezuelans cherish, shaming America’s. How Maduro wants it changed is unclear.
The NYT is militantly anti-Bolivarian, supporting opposition fascists since Chavez first took office.
During the aborted two-day April 2002 coup, its editorial board lied, saying “(w)ith (the) resignation of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.” 
“Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.”
Chavez was the world’s leading social democrat. Carmona was a US-handpicked puppet, chosen to serve its interests. 
Two current leading opposition fascists supported and participated in the coup - defeated presidential aspirant Henrique Capriles and convicted coup-plotter/violence inciter  Leopoldo Lopez Maduro calls a violent “fascista.”
In late March, The Times outrageously claimed Venezuela was “descen(ding) into dictatorship.” Following Maduro’s announced constituent assembly plan, it criticized what it called “desperation (because of his) unpopular government…an effort to divert attention” from street violence” - made in the USA, complicit with anti-Bolivarian fascists, it failed to explain.
Manipulated street violence continues, raging since April 4, responsible for 32 deaths, hundreds of injuries and numerous arrests.
Venezuela’s military supports Maduro so far, backing Bolivarianism over US-controlled fascist dictatorship.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Michael Moore on Broadway

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 03:12
Michael Moore on Broadway
by Stephen Lendman
Say it isn’t so. The Great White Way theater district may never be the same again.
Starting with a July preview, he’ll open on August 10 for 12 weeks, railing eight times a week in a solo production he calls “The Terms of My Surrender,” asking:
“Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting president?” - adding: “To unseat a president, it will take an act of Broadway.” Will theatergoers pay to see him bash Trump? They can get it free on television daily.
Moore transformed himself from documentary filmmaker to political laughing stock. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, he was hysterically pro-Hillary, anti-Trump, making a fool of himself all the way - Broadway his next stop despite Trump’s election.
His irrational ranting lost him credibility long ago. After Hillary’s defeat, he called for her to be installed as president anyway. He’s either daffy, dumb or both.
True enough, Trump is a deplorable president. Hillary’s record from before her Arkansas days to first lady and public office revealed her to be the most ruthlessly dangerous presidential aspirant in US history.
She’s a crook, perjurer and war criminal, superb credentials for US high office - maybe why Moore supports her, denigrating himself in the process.
He calls Trump an “illegitimate” president, a Putin “lapdog,” a “Russian traitor,” a “madman,” wanting him arrested and ousted from office. Maybe an old-fashioned coup d’etat is OK with him.
He urged undemocratic Democrats “to declare a national emergency…cease all business,” and remove Trump from office if he won’t voluntarily step down.
Now you know what he’ll tell theatergoers on Broadway, foolish enough to pay for what’s explained above.
What he really wants is cashing in on bashing Trump. After Broadway, maybe he’ll take his rant on the road, profiting in one city after another.
For starters, he said “(i)f one was going to stand on a stage and do the things that I’m going to do, there’s only one place to do it, and it’s here in this city and it’s right here at the epicenter of creative expression and free speech.”
“Can something like this unravel an unhinged man,” he asked? “I think that discombobulation might be our most effective path to undoing his presidency.”
“I think people will find themselves laughing one minute and wanting to go look for some pitchforks and torches the next.”
Moore on Broadway will be more of a platform for rabble-rousing than a legitimate production, for sure bad theater, an over-the-top performance assured.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

100 Days Later: Net Neutrality and Resistance

freepress.net - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 02:55
100 Days Later: Net Neutrality and ResistanceCraig AaronMay 2, 2017As we enter the next 100 days, the need to resist is no less urgent.
Categories: Aggregated News

California: Let’s End Unchecked Police Surveillance

eff.org - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 02:40

All surveillance is political.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the local level when law enforcement acquires new surveillance technology. Too often, the political process advantages police over the public interest. In California, a new bill—S.B. 21—offers the rare opportunity to shift the balance in favor of privacy.    

Take Action

Californians: tell your state senator to vote in favor of S.B. 21.

Police know that once they acquire a new spy gadget or system, it’s difficult for elected officials to take it away, lest they seem “soft on crime” during the next election.  When police do seek approval of privacy-invasive technology law enforcement agencies often provide only the barest amount of information to policymakers and the public about how a system works and how they intend to use it . Sometimes police officials will avoid the approval process altogether by purchasing equipment with asset forfeiture slush funds, by having them purchased for them by outside nonprofits, or by accepting free trials from vendors.

In the worst cases, police have abused this technology for their own political goals. In Calexico, for example, the U.S. Department of Justice found that police had quietly acquired $100,000 worth of high tech spy gear—GPS trackers, surreptitious audio and video recording devices, tactical binoculars, and even a special backpack for conducting field surveillance. These officers then used this technology to spy on elected officials and members of the public who filed police complaints, allegedly with the motive of extortion. The DOJ also criticized Calexico for approving body cameras, automated license plate readers, and a city-wide video system "before implementing the essential fundamentals of policing." 

Police should not have unilateral power to decide which privacy invasions are in the public interest. 

It’s time for Californians to seize back control of these surveillance technologies. Police should not have unilateral power to decide which privacy invasions are in the public interest. All surveillance technologies must go through a public process in which citizens and elected officials have a chance to decide the limits of high-tech policing, including whether to acquire and use new spying tools in the first place.

EFF urges the California legislature to pass S.B. 21, a surveillance technology reform bill introduced by State Sen. Jerry Hill.  This legislation would require that police departments, before acquiring or using new spying technology, obtain approval in advance to do so from an elected board during a public hearing. When police obtain such approval, they must also get approval of a use policy that includes privacy safeguards.

The bill would require a biennial transparency report on surveillance technology in which an agency must disclose information such as the total cost for each surveillance technology, the number of times each technology was used, how effective the technology was, instances in which technology was shared with another agency, and instances in which the technology was used in violation of department policy.

The bill would also allow individuals to sue an agency if they’ve been harmed by a violation of the legislation. 

S.B. 21 follows on the heels of similar legislation passed in Santa Clara County and an ordinance approved by the City of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission. The legislation also strengthens previous laws passed by Sen. Hill, S.B. 34 and S.B. 741, which require government agencies to publish privacy policies for automated license plate readers and cell-site simulators respectively.

California should end unconstrained police surveillance. There is a clear way to defend against secret acquisition and arbitrary use of policing technologies that invade the privacy of thousands of innocent people per usage: pass bills like S.B. 21 to ensure the law is on our side. 

TAKE ACTION

Email your California state senator today to pass S.B. 21.

Categories: Aggregated News

The WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Would be a Body Blow for Online Video

eff.org - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 02:35

This week EFF is in Geneva, at the Thirty-Fourth session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to oppose a Broadcasting Treaty that could limit the use of video online. Ahead of this meeting, word was that delegations would be pushing hard to have a diplomatic conference to finalize the treaty scheduled at WIPO's October Assembly. In combination with initial uncertainty about whether the new United States administration would be maintaining its opposition to a diplomatic conference, we knew that it was important for EFF to be there to speak up for users.

The Broadcasting Treaty proposal simply doesn't make sense. It proposes to create a new layer of rights over material that has been broadcast over the air or over cable, in addition to any underlying copyrights over such material. Such rights would increase the cost and complexity of licensing broadcast content for use online, and create new and artificial barriers to the reuse of material that isn't protected by copyright at all, such as governmental and public domain works.

We'd like to be able to tell the delegates what we think about this, and normally we would be able to do that, because WIPO generally allows NGOs to deliver statements in its plenary meeting sessions. However this meeting has a new chair, whose working style involves fewer plenary sessions, and more informal sessions where which NGOs are only permitted to listen, not to speak or report.  As as result, it's likely we won't have the opportunity to address delegates about until later in the week, if at all. But here is what we plan to say:

This week the Standing Committee has worked very hard to move the negotiations over the Broadcasting Treaty towards a diplomatic conference. Yet it appears to us that disagreements continue to exist at such a fundamental level, extending to the very objects of the treaty, that agreement remains unattainable.

The closest this Committee has ever come to agreement was when it narrowed the Treaty to cover only broadcasting organizations in the traditional sense from broadcast signal piracy. But as soon as the discussion is broadened to include transmissions over computer networks or post-fixation rights, it inevitably falls apart.

This is because there is no logic in granting exclusive rights to broadcasting organizations over Internet transmissions, without granting similar rights to other online video platforms. And if that is done, the new layers of rights and rightsholders will increase the complexity and risk of licensing video content, raising costs and barriers to innovation that outweigh any possible benefit to broadcasters.

We also have specific concerns that the current chairman's draft moves the proposal in the wrong direction, by eliminating previous text on limitations and exceptions, entrenching the inimical effects of Technological Protection Measures that criminalize fair use and innovation, and proposing a 50 year term -- 30 years longer than the term of protection under the Rome Convention.

More fundamentally, this treaty creates an unnecessary impediment to the legitimate reuse of broadcast material that is in the public domain, with little corresponding benefit. In our view the committee's time would be better invested by removing this item from the agenda to make more room for other relevant issues, such as the analysis of copyright related to the digital environment.

Categories: Aggregated News

Congress Should Leave Alice Alone

eff.org - Wed, 03/05/2017 - 02:03
Overturning the Supreme Court Decision Would Allow Abstract Patents to Hurt innovation

One of the most important cases to cut back on the availability of vague, abstract patents was the 2014 decision Alice v. CLS Bank. In Alice, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the long-standing law that patents could not be granted on "laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas." The decision reinvigorated the use of 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate abstract patents based on the fact that they claim unpatentable subject matter.

Alice was a watershed moment. In the decades before Alice, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit—the court that hears all patent appeals—had consistently expanded the scope of patentable subject matter. The case law was to the point that it seemed that so long as something was done "automatically," anything could be patented, including business methods, investment strategies, and patenting itself.

Since Alice, lower courts have routinely invalidated some of the worst abstract and vague patents. We've highlighted many of these abstract patents in our Stupid Patent of the Month series. There was also the patent on a "picture menu" that was used to sue over 70 companies. And the patent on using labels to store information in a data structure that, on being invalidated as abstract, ended an astonishing 168 cases.

Recently, we've heard that certain patent owners are lobbying Congress to modify 35 U.S.C. § 101 and legislatively overrule Alice. Many of these advocates like to claim that the software industry and innovation have been seriously harmed by Alice. But what has really happened?

Currently, five of the top 10 companies by market capitalization are information technology focused, a significant shift from ten years ago when only Microsoft made the cut. Tesla, who famously announced they were abandoning patents, is now the highest valued U.S. car maker. The 2017 Silicon Valley Report from Joint Venture Silicon Valley noted “seven straight years of economic expansion” in the Bay Area, a region known for its innovation.

Smaller innovators are also going strong. The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity shows a sharp increase in activity between 2014, the year Alice was decided, and 2016. Employment in the innovation and information products field in Silicon Valley grew by 5.2% between 2015 and 2016, more than any other category, and venture capital investment remains strong. Thus if Alice were in fact "decimating" the industry as one judge on the Federal Circuit predicted, there is little evidence of it. To be clear, this isn’t to say that Alice is the only reason the industry is thriving, but it is a reminder that software patents and the software industry are not the same thing.

Not only do current trends in the industry show that Alice did not harm the technology sector, but past trends confirm it. When the Federal Circuit dramatically expanded the scope of patentable subject matter, first in 1994 and again in 1998, there is no indication the shift provided additional stimulus to the already growing economy. Indeed, there is evidence that patenting has little effect on innovation. A 2014 Congressional Budget Office report noted that "the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation," and in fact, "the proliferation of low-quality patents" were working to prevent small innovators from easily entering the market.

Alice has not harmed the technology industry and the argument for overturning it just isn't based in fact. If anything the evidence shows abstract patents do more to harm the technology industry than help it. Alice is working to rid the system of vague and overbroad abstract patents, without any serious negative effect on the technology sector, and should remain the law. 

 

 

Categories: Aggregated News

Putin/Merkel Meeting

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:33
Putin/Merkel Meeting
by Stephen Lendman
At a time of US responsibility for dismal East/West relations, Angela Merkel will meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday for the first time in two years.
According to the Kremlin press service, both leaders will discuss “key international problems, including the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, and the implementation of the Minsk agreements aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis,” along with the current state and prospects for improving dismal bilateral relations, notably on trade.
Things were further strained after Germany’s Bundestag was cyberattacked in late April 2015, falsely blamed on Moscow.
Hostility toward Russia remains intense in America and Europe, including a steady stream of anti-Russia disinformation.
Ahead of Merkel’s trip, NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence director Janis Sarts said Germany anchors the EU, falsely adding “Moscow equates a strong Europe with a weakening of Russia’s position and that is the reason for” the cyberattack.
Moscow had nothing to do with it. Nor is it interfering in upcoming French and later in the year German elections. Sarts lied claiming Russia wants Ukrainian territory annexed.
Russia wants friendly, cooperative relations with all nations, confrontations avoided, ongoing wars resolved diplomatically.
Since Washington’s 2014 coup in Kiev replaced democratic governance with illegitimate putschists, US, German and other Western officials said sanctions on Russia won’t be lifted until it hands over its sovereign Crimean territory to Ukraine and complies with Minsk conflict resolution terms.
Russia and Donbass freedom fighters alone fully observe Minsk. Kiev flagrantly breaches it. The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol won’t be handed over to Ukraine or any other country.
Adversarial East/West relations remain in place because Washington wants it this way. Putin’s meeting with Merkel won’t change things, including both leaders sharply disagreeing on Syria - Germany in lockstep with US regime change objectives, Russia respecting the Syrian Arab Republic’s sovereign independence.
The best case scenario for the Putin/Merkel meeting is easing tensions, short of a badly needed thaw. Expect no major breakthroughs - nor from a Tuesday Putin/Trump phone conversation, scheduled for 7:30PM Moscow time, according to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
Both leaders spoke several times before. No improvement in bilateral relations followed, nor is it likely from Tuesday’s conversation.
Trump is a captive of America’s deep state, continuing longstanding deplorable domestic and geopolitical policies - including maintaining adversarial relations toward Russia and all other sovereign independent nations.
Prospects for improving things on his watch are virtually nil. His first 100 days in office revealed the disturbing measure of the man - a warrior, not a peacemaker, a captive of Wall Street and other predatory corporate interests, not a leader serving all Americans equitably.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Upcoming Erdogan Meetings with Putin and Trump

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:19
Upcoming Erdogan Meetings with Putin and Trump
by Stephen Lendman
After consolidating dictatorial powers by a manipulated referendum, a process OSCE observers said “fell short” of international standards, citing numerous irregularities, Erdogan will meet with Vladimir Putin Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, followed by a May 16-17 meeting with Trump in Washington.
He’s part of the geopolitical landscape problem, not the solution - waging war on Kurds at home and abroad, wanting northern Syria and Iraq annexed, pretending to want conflict resolution.
His belligerence and despotic rule belie his duplicitous rhetoric. According to Turkey’s deputy director for Syria policy Mustafa Yurdakul, he and Putin “will discuss, among other issues, the strengthening of the ceasefire regime, the situation with prisoners and issues of mine clearance.”
Turkish troops invaded northern Syria last August. Erdogan talks peace while waging war.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he and Putin will discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria, offering no further elaboration.
Years of on-and-off peace talks since 2012 produced no resolution, current ones so far achieving no breakthroughs because Washington wants endless war and regime change.
On May 15, Erdogan will meet with Xi Jinping in Beijing. “The date has been fixed,” he said. “I will be traveling to China and (then) to the United States,” adding he hopes his meeting with Trump “will lay the foundation for stronger cooperation.”
He wants US support for Kurdish YPG fighters ended, his top priority. He’ll press for Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s extradition to Turkey, falsely accusing him of being behind last July’s failed coup attempt.
Both leaders spoke several times by phone since late January. Trump congratulated Erdogan on his dubious referendum triumph, sharply diverging from EU criticism. The State Department cited “observed (vote-counting) irregularities.” 
Another contentious issue is unknown numbers of US troops and armored vehicles deployed along the Syrian/Turkish border - carrying out patrols and reconnaissance flights.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed the deployment - without explaining US forces in Syria support anti-government terrorists.
Trump escalated Obama’s war. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan denounced continued aggression, saying it complicates conflict resolution efforts.
Prospects for positive results from continuing Geneva and Astana, Kazakhstan talks are dim because Washington wants endless war and regime change.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

The NYT Joins the Fake News Chorus Accusing Russia of French Election Meddling

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 21:07
The NYT Joins the Fake News Chorus Accusing Russia of French Election Meddling
by Stephen Lendman
No evidence suggests Russian interference with US, French or other elections. Reality doesn’t stand in the way of false accusations - part of deplorable Russia bashing.
The NYT supports virtually every tinpot despot Washington considers a valued ally, while deploring independent democrats it opposes.
Headlining “Meddling in the French Election,” Times editors quoted Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr’s Big Lie, claiming Russia is “actively involved in the French elections” - no evidence offered. None exists.
Times editors bashed Le Pen for meeting with Putin in Moscow last month. She responsibly wants improved relations - anathema to most Western politicians and media scoundrels like The Times.
It supports establishment favorite Macron. He falsely accused RT International and Sputnik News of reporting fake news about him - truth-telling about the French election not going down well with his campaign.
The Times: “Russian disinformation (sic) get(s) recycled on social media…If (Moscow) is…conducting hacking operations to affect the outcome of the French election, (its) authorities have every right to take strong measures…And social media companies should take steps to fact-check dubious content.
Fact: As usual, The Times has things upside down - calling truth-telling “disinformation,” while fake news it and other media scoundrels feature is considered accurate reporting.
Fact: False accusations of Russian election meddling were repeatedly debunked. None occurred in America, France or anywhere else. The absence of credible evidence is proof positive.
The Times: “(T)he best defense against Russian meddling is to expose it for what it is.”
Fact: The Times keeps beating a dead horse. It’s maliciously anti-Russia, anti-everything and everyone challenging US imperial lawlessness.
The best way to stay uninformed and misinformed is by following its reports daily, along with other media scoundrels - paid to lie, not accurately explain what everyone needs to know on issues mattering most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Limitations of ISP Data Pollution Tools

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 09:19

Republicans in Congress recently voted to repeal the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. As a result, your Internet provider may be able to sell sensitive information like your browsing history or app usage to advertisers, insurance companies, and more, all without your consent. In response, Internet users have been asking what they can do to protect their own data from this creepy, non-consensual tracking by Internet providers—for example, directing their Internet traffic through a VPN or Tor. One idea to combat this that’s recently gotten a lot of traction among privacy-conscious users is data pollution tools: software that fills your browsing history with visits to random websites in order to add “noise” to the browsing data that your Internet provider is collecting.

One of the goals of this post is to dispel misconceptions about these tools regarding problems users may think they solve.

We’ve seen this idea suggested several times, and we’ve received multiple questions about how effective it would be and whether or not it protects your privacy, so we wanted to provide our thoughts. Before we begin, however, we want to note that several seasoned security professionals have already weighed in on the effectiveness and risks involved in using these tools.

While we want to be optimistic and encourage more user-friendly technology, it’s important to evaluate new tools with caution, especially when the stakes are high. Additionally, one of the goals of this post is to dispel misconceptions about these tools regarding problems users may think they solve.

Limitations of ISP Data Pollution Tools

After reviewing these sorts of tools, we’ve come to the conclusion that in their current form, these tools are not privacy-enhancing technologies, meaning that they don’t actually help protect users’ sensitive information.

To see why, let’s imagine two possible scenarios that could occur if your browsing history were somehow leaked.

First, imagine the tool visited a website you don’t want to be associated with. Many data pollution tools try to prevent this by blacklisting certain potentially inappropriate words or websites (or only searching on whitelisted websites) and relying on Google’s SafeSearch feature. However, even with these protections in place, the algorithm could still visit a website that might not be embarrassing for everyone, but could be embarrassing for you (say, a visit to an employment website when you haven’t told your employer you’re thinking of leaving). In this case, it might be difficult to prove it was the automated tool and not you who generated that traffic.

Second, sensitive data is still sensitive even when surrounded by noise. Imagine that your leaked browsing history showed a pattern of visits to websites about a certain health condition. It would be very hard to claim that it was the automated tool that generated that sort of traffic when it was in fact you.

It’s reasonable to assume that whoever is analyzing this data will put some effort into filtering out noise when looking for trends—after all, this is a standard industry-wide practice when doing data analysis on large data sets. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the data analysis will always beat the noise generation, but it’s still an important factor to consider. Likewise, layering noise onto a prominent pattern will not make that pattern any less prominent. Additionally, your Internet provider may already have years of data about your browsing habits from which it can extrapolate to help with its noise-filtering efforts.

Even if these specific problems were solved, we would still be reluctant to say that data pollution software could successfully protect your privacy. That’s because this kind of traffic analysis is an active area of research, and there aren’t any well-tested large scale models to show that these techniques work yet.

In other words, there are currently too many limitations and too many unknowns to be able to confirm that data pollution is an effective strategy at protecting one’s privacy. We’d love to eventually be proven wrong, but for now, we simply cannot recommend these tools as an effective method for protecting your privacy.

Changing Internet Provider Behavior is a Worthy Goal, but Your Energy is Better Spent Calling Congress

Data pollution tools aren’t likely to succeed at their other primary goal besides protecting privacy: convincing Internet providers to stop mining our data to sell targeted ads. The theory here is that if enough people used these tools, then the vast majority of browsing data Internet providers collected would be inaccurate. Inaccurate data is worthless for targeting ads, so there would no longer be any monetary incentive for Internet providers to try to sell targeted ads—and thus no incentive to keep collecting browsing data in the first place.

Unfortunately, a huge fraction of customers would have to be using data pollution tools for them to have an impact on major Internet providers’ bottom lines. And while it's wonderful to imagine the majority of Internet users up in arms and installing one of these projects, it'd be as useful (if not more so) for all these users to call their lawmakers directly and convince them to pass privacy-protecting legislation instead. In fact, it would probably take far fewer people to get Congress to change its mind than it would to affect a large Internet provider’s bottom line.

Culture Jamming for the Web

With all of that said, these tools could potentially be effective at one thing: confusing your Internet provider’s ad-targeting algorithms and making the ads they show you less relevant. If this sort of culture jamming appeals to you, then these tools could help you accomplish that. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to rely on other techniques to protect your privacy from your Internet provider, and that to really achieve the sort of change we need, we also need to take the time to talk to our lawmakers and make our voices heard directly. Only through a combination of activism, technology, and legislation will we truly be able to protect our privacy online.

Categories: Aggregated News

What Don’t You Want the NSA to Know About You?

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 08:38

For years, U.S. government surveillance of innocent Americans has been a topic of heated debate, especially for those in the tech community.

With Congress gearing up for a fight over the 2017 reauthorization of a surveillance authority that lets the NSA spy on innocent Americans without a warrant—Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act—that debate is sure to rage on in the coming months.

So we sent reporter David Spark to the RSA Conference in San Francisco, California in February to ask one simple question: What don’t you want the NSA to know about you?

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The answers spanned the spectrum, from emails, to phone calls, to web browsing records, to financial information, to information about individuals’ children, to nothing.

Some got philosophical. “Everyone says, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ and that’s not the point,” one attendee told us. “The point is that I want to control what people know about me.”

Others turned the question on its head, asking instead why the NSA is conducting surveillance on Americans. “I don’t think their charter is to spy on Americans, so why are they?” one asked.

And some got blunt. One attendee said he already assumes the NSA knows a lot about him already. “It scares me and offends me,” he said.

If the warrantless spying on Americans scares and offends you, contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to pull the plug on Section 702 surveillance. And watch the video to see other RSA Conference attendees’ responses.

Special thanks to David Spark (@dspark) and Spark Media Solutions for their support and production of this video. The background music heard at the end—the song Hydrated—is licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 by Kronstudios. EFF original work (i.e., every thing but the background music heard at the end) is licensed CC BY 4.0.

Categories: Aggregated News

Courts Must Allow Online Platforms to Defend Their Users' Free Speech Rights, EFF Tells Court

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 08:13

Online platforms must be allowed to assert their anonymous users’ First Amendment rights in court, EFF argued in a brief filed Monday in a California appellate court.

The case, Yelp v. Superior Court, concerns whether online review website Yelp has the legal right to appear in court and make arguments on behalf of its users.

Courts across the country have increasingly recognized that online platforms do have the right to argue for their users’ free speech rights, particularly when private litigants or government officials seek to learn the speakers’ identities.

A California trial court, however, ruled in December 2016 that Yelp could not assert a user’s First Amendment rights after the platform received a subpoena seeking the identity of a Yelp user that a plaintiff alleged had defamed him and his business.

But as EFF’s brief [.pdf] argues, online platforms have both a legal right and an important role to play in asserting their users’ free speech rights.

Besides anonymous speakers asserting their own rights to directly challenge the legal demands to unmask them, online platforms are increasingly asserting their users’ rights in court. Platforms assert their users’ rights for a variety of reasons, including deterring frivolous efforts to unmask speakers and upholding their own platforms’ views on the importance of free speech. They also seek to make their platforms hospitable to important speech that may only be offered under the veil of anonymity. Simply put, many online platforms recognize that a key to maintaining the robust forum their users rely upon requires having their users’ backs.

The trial court’s ruling is dangerous, EFF argues, because it “threatens to undermine online platforms’ standing to assert their users’ First Amendment rights and thereby erode the ability for the Internet to serve as a forum for anonymous speakers.”

If platforms do not have a legal right to stand up for their users, “defense of these vexatious requests will fall solely to users themselves, many of whom may not know their rights or may otherwise not be in a position to fight for them,” EFF’s brief argues.

Categories: Aggregated News

McMaster Threatens North Korea

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 04:54
McMaster Threatens North Korea
by Stephen Lendman
Trump, Tillerson and now National Security Advisor McMaster threatened war on North Korea - madness if Washington launches it.
The USS Carl Vinson strike group is conducting military exercises with South Korean and Japanese warships in international waters off the Korean peninsula - a reckless provocation Pyongyang believes is preparation for war.
Given Trump’s rage for waging them, it’s justified in fearing possible US aggression. Last week, Tillerson said “(d)iplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.”
No DPRK aggression occurred any time throughout its history. No evidence suggests it plans any now or ahead.
Tillerson and other US officials represent Washington’s rage for unchallenged global dominance - color revolutions and naked aggression its strategies of choice.
Last week, Trump said “we’re taking a strong message to North Korea that we will not tolerate reckless, unsafe threats to the peace and stability to our (sic) region.”
America considers all parts of the its own, how imperial powers think and act.
On Sunday, McMaster threatened North Korea, saying America is “prepared” to take military action. He lied calling the country “a grave threat to the United States, our great allies in the region South Korea and Japan, but also China and others.”
“(I)t’s important…to confront this regime,” he blustered. Trump “made it clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or another” - including “military operations if necessary.”
On Saturday, Trump said he won’t announce his moves in advance. “It’s a chess game. I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is,” he said.
He delegated militarism and warmaking to hawkish generals. War on North Korea would gravely harm the entire region.
Possible nuclear confrontation could follow a US attack, the ultimate nightmarish scenario.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Chinese Government and Hollywood Launch Snoop-and-Censor Copyright Filter

eff.org - Tue, 02/05/2017 - 04:35

Two weeks ago the Copyright Society of China (also known as the China Copyright Association) launched its new 12426 Copyright Monitoring Center, which is dedicated to scanning the Chinese Internet for evidence of copyright infringement. This frightening panopticon is said to be able to monitor video, music and images found on "mainstream audio and video sites and graphic portals, small and medium vertical websites, community platforms, cloud and P2P sites, SmartTV, external set-top boxes, aggregation apps, and so on."

When it finds content that matches material submitted to it by a copyright holder, the Center provides them with a streamlined notification and takedown machine, from the issuance of warning notices through to the provision of mediation services. The Center's technology service provider also provides platforms with filtering technology that can allow infringing materials to be blocked from upload or download to begin with, obviating the need for a separate takedown procedure.

The Copyright Society of China, which instituted the 12426 initiative, is formally a private association, and lists amongst the venture's partners American media companies such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. On the other hand, the Society is headed by a representative of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and includes within its mission "to provide technical support for the government to carry out network copyright supervision according to law."

The 12426 service utilizes proprietary commercial technology for its copyright monitoring, and much of the same technology is used by Chinese Internet companies for complying with Chinese government mandates for political censorship. For example, earlier this month it came to light that the Chinese government, at least at a provincial level and possibly at a national level, requires every provider of non-residential public Wifi hotspots to monitor and record their users' activity. This is in addition to the well-documented surveillance and censorship of Chinese online platforms such as Weibo and WeChat.

Copyright Surveillance and Censorship Closer to Home

Although this stifling surveillance machine is a human rights crisis in its own right for China's 720 million Internet users, it also provides a cautionary tale for the West, where copyright holder lobbyists are advocating for very similar filtering and surveillance mechanisms to be made mandatory. In that sense, China's copyright surveillance machine of today may warn of the European or American Internet of tomorrow.

For example, it is thanks to the copyright industry that German Wifi network operators are required to password-protect their networks to prevent them being used by anonymous users (who might infringe copyright). And in Europe right now, a current proposal would require user content platforms to filter uploads for material that copyright holders claim to be infringing.

This European proposal would put into place exactly the same kind of filtering that China's copyright surveillance industry provides today, repurposing technologies that the authoritarian regime also uses for the repression of political dissent. And this kind of repurposing goes both ways—technologies and legal processes developed in the first instance for copyright enforcement are also misused for political censorship and repression.

Another uncomfortable similarity between the Chinese Internet censorship regime and developments in the West is the close intermingling of public and private initiatives. Just as the Chinese Community Party sits at the head of the Copyright Society of China, so too the heavy hand of government can be found behind many notionally self-regulatory industry schemes from North America and Europe that aim to address copyright infringement. These government-led arrangements, that we call Shadow Regulation, are notoriously lacking in transparency, accountability, and user participation. The above mentioned European proposal, which pushes platforms and copyright owners into "voluntary" agreements concerning upload filtering, is a textbook case in point.

The announcement of China's government-linked 12426 Copyright Monitoring Center is absolutely chilling. It is just as chilling that the governments of the United States and Europe are being lobbied by copyright holders to follow China's lead. Although this call is being heard on both sides of the Atlantic, it has gained the most ground in Europe, where it needs to be urgently stopped in its tracks. Europeans can learn more and speak out against these draconian censorship demands at the Save the Meme campaign website.

Categories: Aggregated News

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