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School-issued computers spy on children in US without parental consent – digital rights group

School-issued computer devices – provided to one-third of school children across the US – collect excessive...

Digital Rights Groups Warn TPP Will Force ‘Policing’ of Internet Users

Groups slam proposed rules in open letters to negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement Max Ocean Over 65 tech companies, open Internet advocates and other organizations...

Advocates and Digital Rights Defenders Reject Obama’s ‘Whitewash’ of Intrusive Spying Regime

RINF Alternative News After President Obama today announced changes to the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, civil liberties groups expressed skepticism and concern over continued bulk...

New Internet Bill of Rights Introduced in Wake of Digital Privacy Breaches

Facebook and Google recently admitted major privacy breaches. Facebook says the personal information of nearly 50 million users was exposed after an online attack....

FCC Set to Roll Back Digital Civil Rights With Tomorrow’s Vote to Repeal Net...

The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday on whether to repeal the landmark net neutrality protections passed under President Obama in 2015....

Video: FCC Set to Roll Back Digital Civil Rights with Thursday’s Vote to Repeal... - The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday on whether to repeal the landmark net neutrality protections passed under President Obama...

Digital Age Privacy Rights

Digital Age Privacy Rightsby Stephen LendmanArticle 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to ...

A Digital Bill of Rights

Every global state, or clunky imperium, deserves its global counterpart, a balancing lever to ensure that it doesn't fall into depravity. The state of...

Authors call for ‘digital bill of rights’

BBCDecember 10, 2013 Hundreds of authors from around the world have written to the United Nations urging it to create an international bill of digital...

Free Press Action and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Release Proposed ‘Online...

WASHINGTON - On Monday, Free Press Action and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released model legislation for Congress to consider in...

Facebook’s and Google’s Breaches Show It’s Time for an Internet Bill of Rights

Our Founding Fathers drafted the Bill of Rights to safeguard our freedoms in the physical world. Today, as Americans are living more of their...

After Ireland’s Historic Abortion Vote, Calls Grow for Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland

In a resounding win for reproductive rights, the Irish electorate voted in overwhelming numbers to liberalize the country's highly restrictive abortion laws on Friday....

The Federal Attack on Sex Workers’ Rights Is a Threat to Everyone’s Free Speech

(Photo: Matt Zulak) On March 23, Craigslist decided to do away with personal ads. Last week, Microsoft announced plans to make it illegal to get naked...

‘Digital strip search’: Muslim activist arrested for refusing to yield passwords at airport (VIDEO)

Published time: 16 May, 2017 14:05 A human rights activist is facing charges after refusing...

Porn censorship & age checks breach human rights, says UN official

Online checks controlling whether children are accessing pornographic sites have been defined as a breach of human rights by a United Nations (UN) official. The...

The Ongoing Struggle for Abortion Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision overturning Texas’ onerous rules for abortion clinics blocked one line of attack used by...

Tech Report Says Palestinian Rights Organizations Are Under Sophisticated Cyber Attack

Palestinian rights campaigners are under cyber-attack, with the key website for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement slammed by at least...

UN Human Rights Chief: FBI Could Unlock ‘Pandora’s Box’ in Apple Case

'It is neither fanciful nor an exaggeration to say that, without encryption tools, lives may be endangered.' Nadia Prupis The United Nations human rights chief on...

Rights group demand police need warrant to access data

From: American citizens should be able to rest safe in the knowledge that no one has the right to pry into their digital...

‘Resist Surveillance’: Human Rights Groups Launch Tool to Detect Spyware

Detekt finds traces of 'dangerous and sophisticated' technology used by repressive governments against journalists and human rights defenders, Amnesty International says Nadia Prupis Amnesty International released...

States Rights, Local Democracy, and the Future of Broadband

David Morris RINF Alternative News In July, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stirred up a hornets’ nest by announcing it might overturn state prohibitions on municipally...

U.N.: Nations Hide Rise in Private Digital Snooping

Stepping into a fierce debate over digital privacy rights, the U.N. human rights office says it has strong evidence of a growing complicity among...

How the NSA Violates International Human Rights Standards

Even before Ed Snowden leaked his first document, human rights lawyers and activists were concerned about law enforcement and intelligence agencies spying on the...

Is The NSA Quartering “Digital” Troops Within Our Homes?

Are “Digital” Troops Being Sent Into Our Digital Devices Like British Troops Were Sent Into American Colonists' Homes? Washington's Blog We...

UN Human Rights Chief: Surveillance Backlash Akin to Anti-Aparthied Movement

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay. (Photo: EPA)The international outcry in response to leaks provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is...

Where Have You Gone, Bill of Rights?

On June 8, 1789 James Madison, the congressman representing Virginia's 5th District, rose to speak in a session of the First Congress and advocated...

How the Powerful Intelligence World Is on the Verge of the Ability to Make...

George Orwell's dystopian "memory hole" isn't...

America’s Brazen Global Spying Sparks an International Fight for Basic Privacy Rights

This surveillance of ordinary people, and...

Despite US Opposition, UN Pushes Forward Surveillance Bill of Rights

That is the message being sent by the majority of nations to the world's most powerful and aggressive surveillance states. An effort to move forward...

America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere

The United States of America is shaping up as the evil totalitarian state of the 21st Century if this report from Foreign Policy‘s The...

Cellphone tracking cases highlight privacy concerns in digital age

In recent weeks, two cert petitions were filed seeking review of whether the Fourth Amendment covers police searches of cellphone records upon arrest. ...

Telecomm Companies Implicated in NSA Spying Unite to Lobby Congress on Digital Privacy

The biggest names in telecommunications industry have launched a new lobbying group headed by two Washington insiders to advocate for privacy policies that could...

The Government Is Spying On ALL Americans’ Digital and Old-Fashioned Communications

Washington’s Blog July 12, 2013 Even now — after all of the revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers — spying apologists say...

Pete Ashdown: Internet entrepreneur pushes for govt that stands for 'basic human rights'

As US broadband giants betray customer privacy in the name of profit, the owner of a Utah-based internet company has stood up for his...

Globalization, Civil Rights and the Cyber-Surveillance State

Globalization has reached its apogee— spying on European friends as well as usual foreign suspects, and you. Recent revelations about NSA’s worldwide practices are globalization’s...

'Digital Blackwater': NSA Leak Highlights Key Role of Private Contractors

Like the mercenaries for hire used by the U.S. in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans–contractors like Blackwater that have come under scrutiny...

'Digital Blackwater': NSA Leak Highlights Key Role of Private Contractors

Like the mercenaries for hire used by the U.S. in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans–contractors like Blackwater that have come under scrutiny...

Demanding the right to digitally protest: Hacktivists petition the White House to legalize DDoS

Is temporarily slowing down a website a legal form of protest? Current US law says it isn’t, but hacktivists want the White House to make changes that would force the government to reconsider their witch-hunt against alleged computer criminals.

In the latest petition to go viral, the Obama administration is asked to make a method of momentarily crippling a website comparable to real word demonstrations, essentially allowing for a whole new legal form of online protest.

“With the advance in internet technology comes new grounds for protesting,” writes ‘Dylan K’ of Eagle, Wisconsin.

Dylan’s petition, uploaded this week to the White House’s We the People page, is the most recent of these electronic pleas on the website to generate national headlines. A series of petitions in late 2012 demanding the peaceful secession of certain states from the US garnered nearly one million signatures from across the country, and just this week the Obama administration was prompted to respond to one popular request to depot CNN host Piers Morgan over his outspoken anti-gun views. That call for action, advocated by Second Amendment proponents and firearm owners concerned over a possible rifle ban, eventually accumulated around 110,000 electronic signatures.

When the White House responded to the petition to deport Morgan this week, press secretary Jay Carney said Americans shouldn’t let “arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First.”

Those rallying for new computer laws say that current legislation limits those very constitutional rights, though, and that one electronic form of action should be covered under the First Amendment — the provision that provides for the freedom of speech, protest and assembly.

In the latest instance, the White House is asked to evaluate a federal rule that currently makes it unlawful to engage in distributed denial-or-service, or DDoS, attacks — a harmless but effective way of flooding a website’s server with so much traffic that it can’t properly render pages for legitimate users.

Performed by both seasoned hackers and novice computer users alike, DDoS-ing a website essentially makes certain pages completely unavailable for minutes, hours or days. Unlike real world protests, though, demonstrators don’t even have to leave the house to protest. Instead, humongous streams of information can be sent to servers with a single mouse click, only for that data to become so cumbersome that the websites targeted can’t properly function.

Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a DDoS assault is highly illegal. For those familiar with the method, though, they say it’s simply a matter of voicing an opinion in an online format and should be allowed.

“Distributed denial-of-service is not any form of hacking in any way,” states the petition. “It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage.”

Overloading a targeted website with too much traffic, says Dylan K, is “no different than any ‘occupy’ protest.” According to him and the roughly 1,100 cosigners, there is much common ground between the two. “Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time,” he says.

For companies that are hit with DDoS assaults, though, they sing a different song. In 2006, controversial radio host Hal Turner had his website taken offline after members of the then-infant hacktivist movement Anonymous used denial-of-service attacks to shut down his site to visitors. Turner said the bandwidth overflow cost him thousands of dollars in fees from his hosting company.

When Turner tried to sue those he blamed for the DDoS attack, a federal judge for the United States District Court in New Jersey eventually dismissed his claim. Other “hackers,” however, haven’t been so lucky.

When PayPal, Visa and MasterCard announced in 2010 that it would no longer accept funds for the website WikiLeaks, Anonymous and others responded with a DDoS attack on the payment service providers. The following summer, the US Department of Justice filed an indictment against 14 Americans they accused of participating in shutting down PayPal.

That same year, a homeless hacker using the alias “Commander X” was charged with waging a DDoS attack on the official government website of Santa Cruz, California because he opposed the city’s policy that outlawed sleeping in public space. X could have been sentenced to serious time for committing a felony, but he escaped the United States, allegedly seeking refuge in Canada where he is reported to be in hiding today.

“For a 30-minute online protest I’m facing 15 years in a penitentiary,” he told the National Post last year while on the run. According to an interview he gave last month with Ars Technica, he also participated in OpPayBack — the Anonymous-led assault PayPal and others over their WikiLeaks blockage.

California attorney Jay Leiderman has represented X, and has gone on the record to compare DDoS attacks with real life sit-ins.

“A DDoS is a protest, it’s a digital sit it. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech,” he told Talking Points Memo in 2011. “They are the equivalent of occupying the Woolworth's lunch counter during the civil rights movement," The Atlantic quoted him saying last year.

Speaking specifically of the operation against the companies that cut funding to WikiLeaks, the lawyer said online action is equivalent to peaceful protest.

“Take PayPal for example, just like Woolworth's, people went to PayPal and said, I want to give a donation to WikiLeaks. In Woolworth's they said, all I want to do is buy lunch, pay for my lunch, and then I'll leave. People said I want to give a donation to WikiLeaks, I'll take up my bandwidth to do that, then I'll leave, you'll make money, I'll feel fulfilled, everyone's fulfilled,” he said. “PayPal will take donations for the Ku Klux Klan, other racists and questionable organizations, but they won't process donations for WikiLeaks. All the PayPal protesters did was take up some bandwidth. In that sense, DDoS is absolutely speech, it should absolutely be recognized as such, protected as such, and the law should be changed.”

Leiderman added that he considers the use of DDoS not to be an “attack” in some circumstances, but actually legitimate protest.

“[T]he law should be narrowly drawn and what needs to be excised from that are the legitimate protests,” he said. “It's really easy to tell legitimate protests, I think, and we should be broadly defining legitimate protests,” he said.

New York attorney Stanley Cohen, who is representing one of the accused “PayPal 14” hackers responsible for the Anonymous-led operation, agrees.

“When Obama orders supporters to inundate the switchboards of Congress, that’s good politics, when a bunch of kids decide to send a political message with roots going back to the civil rights movement and the revolution, it’s something else,” Cohen told TPM in 2011. “Barack Obama urged people to shutdown the switchboard, he’s not indicted.”

“It’s not identity theft, not money or property, pure and simple case of an electronic sit in, at best,” he said.

So far over 1,100 people agree on, and hope the Obama administration will get their point. Until then, though, Commander X and others face upwards of a decade in prison apiece for violating a clause in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that makes it unlawful to “knowingly cause the transmission of a program, information code or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damages without authorization to a protected computer.”

With attorneys like Leiderman and Cohen arguing that the damages in questions aren’t quite criminal, the White House may have to respond to the latest petition. The Obama administration is mandated to respond if it can garner 25,000 signatures in the next month. Until then, though, proponents of DDoS as free speech can cite what Jay Carney said when petitioners rallied for the deportation of Piers Morgan for his call to ban assault weapons.

“The Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press – fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy,” said Carney.

Meanwhile, exercising constitutional rights by way of overloading web servers isn’t being accepted as such by the government. That doesn’t mean that Anonymous or other so-called ‘hacktivists’ will change their ways: just last month, members of the hive-mind computer collective waged a DDoS attack on the website of the Westboro Baptist Church after the religious group announced plans to picket the funerals of mass shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut. Anonymous waged a similar wave of attacks on the Church of Scientology in 2008, the result of which landed a number of Anons in prison for violating federal law.

So You Want A Thatcherite Revolution? Free Trade, Corporate Plunder And The War On...

Countercurrents 12/6/2014, Global Research 13/6/2014, The 4th Media 15/6/2014

Prior to the recent national elections in India, there were calls for a Thatcherite revolution to fast-track the country towards privatisation and neo-liberalism (1). Under successive Thatcher-led governments in the eighties, however, inequalities skyrocketed in Britain (2) and economic growth was no better than in the seventies (3).

Traditional manufacturing was decimated and international finance became the bedrock of the ‘new’ economy. Jobs disappeared over the horizon to cheap labour economies, corporations bought up public utilities, the rich got richer and many of Britain’s towns and cities in its former industrial heartland became shadows of their former selves. Low paid, insecure, non-unionised labour is now the norm and unemployment and underemployment are rife. Destroying ordinary people’s livelihoods was done in the name of ‘the national interest’. Destroying industry was done in the name of ‘efficiency’.

In 2010, 28 percent of the UK workforce, some 10.6 million people, either did not have a job, or had stopped looking for one (4). And that figure was calculated before many public sector jobs were slashed under the lie of ‘austerity’.


Today, much of the mainstream political and media rhetoric revolves around the need to create jobs, facilitate ‘free’ trade, ensure growth and make ‘the nation’ competitive. The endless, tedious mantra says ordinary people have to be ‘flexible’, ‘tighten their belts, expect to do a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ and let the market decide. This creates jobs. This fuels ‘growth’. Unfortunately, it does neither. What we have is austerity. What we have is an on-going economic crisis, a huge national debt, rule by profligate bankers and corporate entities and mass surveillance to keep ordinary people in check.

So what might the future hold? Unfortunately, more of the same.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (formerly TAFTA) being negotiated between the EU and US is intended to be the biggest trade deal in history. The EU and US together account for 40 percent of global economic output. The European Commission tries to sell the deal to the public by claiming that the agreement will increase GDP by one percent and will entail massive job creation.

However, these claims are not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01 percent GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several sectors, including agriculture. Corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards and undermine digital rights (5). Negotiations are shrouded in secrecy (6) and are being driven by corporate interests (7). And the outcome could entail the bypassing of democratic processes in order to push through corporate-friendly policies (8). The proposed agreement represents little more than a corporate power grab.

It should come as little surprise that this is the case. Based on a recent report, the European Commission’s trade and investment policy reveals a bunch of unelected technocrats who care little about what ordinary people want and negotiate on behalf of big business. The Commission has eagerly pursued a corporate agenda and has pushed for policies in sync with the interests of big business. It is effectively a captive but willing servant of a corporate agenda. Big business has been able to translate its massive wealth into political influence to render the European Commission a “disgrace to the democratic traditions of Europe” (9).

This proposed trade agreement (and others like it being negotiated across the world) is based on a firm belief in ‘the market’ (a euphemism for subsidies for the rich, cronyism, rigging and cartels) and the intense dislike of state intervention and state provision of goods and services. The ‘free market’ doctrine that underpins this belief attempts to convince people that nations can prosper by having austerity imposed on them and by embracing neo-liberalism and ‘free’ trade. This is a smokescreen that the financial-corporate elites hide behind while continuing to enrich themselves and secure taxpayer handouts, whether in the form of bank bailouts or other huge amounts of corporate dole (10).

In much of the West, the actual reality of neo-liberalism and the market is stagnating or declining wages in real terms, high levels of personal debt and a permanent underclass, while the rich and their corporations to rake in record profits and salt away wealth in tax havens.

Corporate plunder in India 

Thatcher was a handmaiden of the rich (11). Her role was to destroy ‘subversive’ or socialist tendencies within Britain and to shatter the post-1945 Keynesian consensus based on full employment, fairness and a robust welfare state. She tilted the balance of power in favour of elite interests by embarking on a pro-privatisation, anti-trade union/anti-welfare state policy agenda. Sections of the public regarded Thatcher as a strong leader who would get things done, where others before her had been too weak and dithered. In India, Narendra Modi has been portrayed in a similar light.

His newly elected government is expected to move ahead with pro-market reforms that others dragged their feet on. To date, India has experienced a brand of ‘neo-liberalism lite’. Yet what we have seen thus far has been state-backed violence and human rights abuses to ‘secure’ tribal areas for rich foreign and Indian corporations, increasing inequalities, more illicit money than ever pouring into Swiss bank accounts, massive corruption and cronyism (12).

With a new administration in place, can we now expect to witness an accelerated ‘restructuring’ of agriculture in favour of Western agribusiness? Will more farmers be forced from their land on behalf of commercial interests? Officialdom wants to depopulate rural areas by shifting over 600 million to cities (13). It begs the question: in an age of increasing automation, how will hundreds of millions of agriculture sector workers earn their livelihoods once they have left the land?

What type of already filthy and overburdened urban centres can play host to such a gigantic mass of humanity who were deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ in rural India and will possibly be (indeed, already are) deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ once in the cities?     

Gandhi stated that the future of India lies in its villages. Rural society was regarded as India’s bedrock. But now that bedrock is being dug up. Global agritech companies have been granted license to influence key aspects of agriculture by controlling seeds and chemical inputs and by funding and thus distorting the biotech research agenda and aspects of overall development policy (14,15).

Part of that ‘development’ agenda is based on dismantling the Public Distribution System for food. Policy analyst Devinder Sharma notes that the government may eventually stop supporting farmers by doing away with the system of announcing the minimum support price for farmers and thereby reduce the subsidy outgo. He argues that farmers would be encouraged to grow cash crops for supermarkets and to ‘compete’ in a market based on trade policies that work in favour of big landowners and heavily subsidised Western agriculture.

By shifting towards a commercialised system that would also give the poor cash to buy food in the market place, rather than the almost half a million ‘ration shops’ that currently exist, the result will be what the WTO/ World Bank/IMF have been telling India to for a long time: to displace the farming population so that agribusiness can find a stronghold in India (16).

We need only look at what happened to the soy industry in India during the nineties (17), or the recent report by GRAIN (18), to see how small farmers are forced from their land to benefit powerful global agritech. If it cannot be achieved by unfair trade policies and other duplicitous practices, it is achieved by repression and violence, as Helena Paul notes:

“Repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Indigenous communities have been displaced and reduced to living on the capital's rubbish dumps. This is a crime that we can rightly call genocide - the extinguishment of entire Peoples, their culture, their way of life and their environment.” (19)
Although Helena Paul is referring to the situation in Paraguay, what she describes could well apply to India or elsewhere.

In addition, the current secretive corporate-driven free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and India could fundamentally restructure Indian society in favour of Western corporate interests and adversely impact hundreds of millions and their livelihoods and traditional ways of living (20). And as with the proposed US-EU agreement, powerful transnational corporations would be able to by-pass national legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Governments could be sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of national courts if laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments (21).

A massive shift in power and wealth from poor to rich

Current negotiations over ‘free’ trade agreements have little to do with free trade. They are more concerned with loosening regulatory barriers and bypassing democratic processes to allow large corporations to destroy competition and siphon off wealth to the detriment of smaller, locally based firms and producers.  

The planet’s super rich comprise a global elite (22). It is not a unified elite. But whether based in China, Russia or India, its members have to varying extents been incorporated into the Anglo-American system of trade and finance. For them, the ability to ‘do business’ is what matters, not national identity or the ability to empathise with someone toiling in a field who happened to be born on the same land mass. And in order 'to do business', government machinery has been corrupted and bent to serve their ends. In turn, organisations that were intended to be ‘by’ and ‘for’ ordinary working people have been successfully infiltrated and dealt with (23).

The increasing global takeover of agriculture by powerful agribusiness, the selling off of industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports and airports, and secretive corporate-driven trade agreements represent a massive corporate heist of wealth and power across the world. Through their financial institutions and corporate entities, the world’s super rich regard ‘nations’ as population holding centres to be exploited whereby people are stripped of control of their livelihoods for personal gain. Whether it concerns rich oligarchs in the US or India’s billionaire business men, corporate profits and personal gain trump any notion of the ‘national interest’.

Still want a Thatcherite revolution?


Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement: A Corporate Power Grab

Countercurrents and Global Research 4/10/2013

The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU intends to create the world's largest free trade area, 'protect' investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, with the public having been sidelined. Unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats from both sides of the Atlantic are facilitating the strategy (1) 

In addition to the biotech sector and Big Pharma, groups lobbying for the deal have included Toyota, General Motors, IBM and the powerful lobby group the Chamber of Commerce of the US. Business Europe, the main organisation representing employers in Europe, launched its own strategy on an EU-US economic and trade partnership in early 2012. Its suggestions were widely included in the draft EU mandate.

An increasing number of politicians and citizens groups have criticised the secretive negotiations and are demanding that they be conducted in an open way. This is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights or the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU's.

The US wants all so-called barriers to trade, including controversial regulations such as those protecting agriculture, food or data privacy, to be removed. Even the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.

The public in Europe does not want such things. People want powerful corporations to be held to account and their pratices regulated by elected representatives who they trust to protect their interests, the public good. However, the TAFTA seems an ideal opportunity for corporations to force wholly unpopular and dangerous policies through via secretive, undemocratic means. They have been unable to do this in a democratic and transparent manner, so secret back room deals represent a different option.

Corporate demands include an “ambitious liberalisation of agricultural trade barriers with as few exceptions as possible.” Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved genetically modified crops. This is a long-standing industry agenda also supported by feed and grain trading giants, including Cargill, Bunge, ADM and the big farmers' lobby COPA-COGECA. Meanwhile, the biotech industry on both sides of the Atlantic is offering its “support and assistance as the EU and the US government look to enhance their trade relationship.”

New Report

If the pro-free-market bureaucrats and corporations get their way and successfully bar the public from any kind of meaningful information input into the world’s biggest trade deal ever to be negotiated, Europeans could end up becoming the victims of one of the biggest corporate stitch ups ever. Left unchallenged, it will allow huge private interests to dig their profiteering snouts into the trough of corporate greed at the expense of ordinary people.

And that’s not hyperbole. Such a view is confirmed by the release of a new report on the eve of the second round of negotiations that are due to begin in Brussels next week.

The report, published by the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) (2), reveals the true human and environmental costs of the proposed TAFTA. ‘A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership highlights how the European Commission’s promises of up to 1% GDP growth and massive job creation through the EU-US trade deal are not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01% GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several economic sectors, including agriculture.

The report also explains how corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards as well as undermine digital rights. Attempts to strengthen banking regulation in the face of the financial crisis could also be jeopardised as the financial lobby uses the secretive trade negotiations to undo financial reforms, such as restrictions on the total value of financial transactions or the legal form of its operations.

Kim Bizzarri, the author of the report:

“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet. If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”

The report also warns that the agreement could open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations who can challenge democratic policies at international tribunals if they interfere with their profits.

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory and author of ‘A transatlantic corporate bill of rights’:

“The proposed investor rights in the transatlantic trade deal show what it is really about: It’s a power grab from corporations to rein in democracy and handcuff governments that seek to regulate in the public interest. It’s only a matter of time before European citizens start paying the price in higher taxes and diminished social protection.”

Consumer watchdogs, digital rights and trade activists, environmentalists and trade unions are preparing to fight the corporate dystopia put forward in the EU-US trade deal.

Luis Rico of Ecologistas en Acción, a member of the Seattle to Brussels network:

“We hope that the disturbing evidence we provide will show why all concerned citizens and parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic need to urgently mobilise against the proposed EU-US trade deal. We have to derail this corporate power grab that threatens to worsen the livelihood of the millions of people already seriously affected by the financial crisis and by the crippling consequences of Europe's austerity reforms.”

Do we want increasingly bad and unhealthy food, our rights at work being further eroded, the environment being damaged in the chase for profit, ever greater reckless gambling in the financial sector or our elected representatives being by-passed via international tribunals? Of course we don’t. 

Where is the democracy surrounding this proposed TAFTA? Where is ordinary people’s  protection from the ‘free’ market corporate-financial cabals that ultimately drive global economic policy and geo-political strategies? By translating corporate power into political influence at the G8, G20, WTO, NATO or elsewhere, whether it is by war, threats, debts or coercion, secretive and undemocratic free trade agreements are but one tool that very powerful corporations use in an attempt to cast the world in their own image (3,4).

The TAFTA is little more than an attempt at a corporate power grab masquerading as something that promotes growth, freedom, harmony and job creation. Those claims are bogus. It must be stopped


2)  The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in Europe. Corporate Europe Observatory is one of its members.

The EU-India FTA: Access All Areas, But Only For Corporate Plunder

Photo by Claude Renault
Global Research and Countercurrents 7/6/2013, The 4th Media 8/6/2013, Deccan Herald 12/6/2013 and State Times 18/6/2013

The EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is something that could fundamentally restructure Indian society and impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians. It is being negotiated ‘on the behalf of the public’ in secret by politicians and bureaucrats on both sides. Negotiations began in 2007covering a wide range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment rules, government procurement; and intellectual property rights. After 16 rounds of talks, the issues are still being fine tuned.

Much of the negotiations are being conducted beyond the gaze of the public and the realms of public accountability. And demands for public scrutiny have been dealt a blow by a recent ruling.
Following a lawsuit by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg concluded that the European Commission (EC) did not violate EU rules when withholding information about the EU-India free trade talks from the public, even though it had already shared the information with corporate lobby groups. CEO warns that this decision risks deepening the secrecy around EU trade negotiations and legitimises the EC’s practice of granting corporate lobby groups privileged access to its policy-making, at the expense of the wider public interest.
The lawsuit was a last resort for CEO after the EC refused to fully release documents related to the EU’s ongoing trade negotiations with India, including meeting reports, emails and a letter, which it had sent to industry groups including the European employers’ federation Business Europe, one of the most powerful corporate lobby groups in Brussels. The EC claimed that the censored information was ‘sensitive’ as it concerned EU priorities and strategies in the negotiations and argued that public disclosure would undermine the EU’s international relations.

CEO argued that the information, which the EC had already shared with the business world at large, could not suddenly become confidential when a public interest group asked for it. The group accused the EC of manifest discrimination in favour of corporate lobby groups and violating the EU’s access to information rules.

CEO trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt said that there is a big risk that the EC will see the court ruling as a green light to continue to develop its trade policy behind closed doors, together with, and for, a tiny elite of corporate lobby groups. She added that the result is a trade policy that caters for big business needs, but works against the interests of the bulk of the population in the EU and other parts of the world.

The judgement comes as the EU and India are reportedly sorting out their remaining differences, in order to ink their final proposal for a free trade deal before elections in the EU and in India in 2014.

Both in India and the EU, trade unions, farmers’ groups, patients’ organisations and other civil society groups have repeatedly raised concerns about the potentially devastating impacts of the agreement, particularly on access to medicines and the livelihoods of Indian farmers and street traders (1).

CEO believes that the court ruling has potentially serious implications for other trade policies, such as the upcoming free trade negotiations between the EU and the US. In a press release from CEO, Pia Eberhardt states:

“Citizens and Parliamentarians are increasingly worried about the risks that the EU’s corporate trade agenda poses to food safety, digital rights and environmental protection. Trade negotiations should be conducted in an open and democratically-accountable way, and it is high time that the Commission stops handing over the negotiating agenda to multinational companies. It is disappointing that the court ruling seems to point in exactly the opposite direction."
Such secrecy deepens the suspicion that the EU-India FTA has little to do with any notion pertaining to the ‘public interest’ and essentially represents the demands of big business and results from their strategic hegemony over government bureaucracies and politicians. 

With Western economies in crisis, India represents potential rich pickings for powerful transnational corporations. And the vultures are sweeping. In his January editorial piece in Kisan Ki Awaaz (National Magazine of the Farmer’s Voice), farmers’ leader Krishan Bir Chaudhary argues that India’s thousands of years old civilisation is being plundered. Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture are under threat. This view is apparently supported by Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute who argues that measures on investment could see the Indian government sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments. 

Indeed, corporations have been granted the exclusive right to sue states (states cannot sue corporations) at secretive international tribunals for action deemed to unfairly affect investors’ profits (2). It’s a one way street.

What we are seeing with the EU-India FTA (as is the case with India’s nuclear energy sector and the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (3) (4)) is democracy being sidelined for the blind pursuit of an unaccountable corporate driven agenda.


Internet Freedom and Copyright Reform: Aaron Swartz’s Suspicious Death


 The Wall Street Journal headlined “An Internet Activist Commits Suicide.”

New York’s medical examiner announced death by “hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment.”

Lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? He was one of the Internet generation’s best and brightest.

He advocated online freedom. Selflessly he sought a better open world. Information should be freely available, he believed. A legion of followers supported him globally.

Alive he symbolized a vital struggle to pursue. Death may elevate him to martyr status but removes a key figure important to keep alive.

The New York Times headlined “Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide.”

He was an Internet folk hero. He supported online freedom and copyright reform. He advocated free and open web files. He championed a vital cause. He worked tirelessly for what’s right.

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called him “steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation.”

Who’ll replace him now that he’s gone? He called locking up the public domain sinful. He selflessly strove to prevent it.

In July 2011, he was arrested. At the time, he was downloading old scholarly articles. He was charged with violating federal hacking laws. MIT gave him a guest account to do it.

He developed RSS and co-founded Reddit. It’s a social news site.

He was found dead weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial. He was targeted for doing the right thing. He didn’t steal or profit. He shared. His activism was more than words.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends online freedom, free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights. It “champion(s) the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.”

On January 12, it headlined “Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist.” It called him “a close friend and collaborator.” Tragedy ended his life.

Vital questions remain unanswered. Supporters demand answers. So do family members.They blame prosecutors for what happened. Their statement following his death said the following:

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

Swartz did as much or more than anyone to make the Internet a thriving open knowledge ecosystem. He strove to keep it that way. He challenged repressive Internet laws.

He founded Demand Progress. It “works to win progressive policy changes for ordinary people through organizing and grassroots lobbying,” he said.

It prioritizes “civil liberties, civil rights, and government reform.” It ran online campaigns for justice. It advocated in the public interest. It challenged policies harming it.

He mobilized over a million online activists. His other projects included RSS specification,, tor2web, the Open Library, and the Chrome port of HTTPS Everywhere.

He launched Creative Commons. He co-founded Reddit. He and others made it successful. His Raw Thought blog discussed “politics and parody.” He had much to say worth hearing.

In 2011, he used the MIT campus network. He downloaded millions of journal articles. He used the JSTOR database. Authorities claimed he changed his laptop’s IP and Mac addresses. They said he did it to circumvent JSTOR/MIT blocks.

He was charged with “unauthorized (computer) access” under the Computer and Abuse Act. He did the equivalent of checking out too many library books at the same time.

Obama prosecutors claim doing so is criminal. They’ve waged war on Internet freedom. They want Net Neutrality and free expression abolished. They want fascist laws replacing them.

They usurped diktat power. They spurn rule of law principles and other democratic values. They enforce police state authority. They prioritize what no civil society should tolerate.

They claimed Aaron intended to distribute material on peer-to-peer networks. He never did. It hardly mattered. Documents he secured were returned. No harm. No foul. Federal authorities charged him anyway.

In July 2011, a Massachusetts grand jury indicted him. He was arraigned in Boston US District Court. He pled not guilty to all charges. He was freed on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

If convicted, he faced up to 35 years imprisonment and a $1 million dollar fine. He wanted scientific/scholarly articles liberated. They belong in the public domain. He wanted everyone given access. It’s their right, he believed.

He wanted a single giant dataset established. He did it before. He wasn’t charged. Why now?

“While his methods were provocative,” said EFF, his goal was “freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it.”

EFF calls it a cause everyone should support. Aaron was politically active. He fought for what’s right. Followers supported him globally.

In the “physical world,” at worst he’d have faced minor charges, said EFF. They’re “akin to trespassing as part of political protests.”

Doing it online changed things. He faced possible long-term incarceration. For years, EFF fought this type injustice.

Academic/political activist Lawrence Lessig called Aaron’s death just cause for reforming computer crime laws. Overzealous prosecutors are bullies. They overreach and cause harm.

EFF mourned his passing, saying:

“Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world.” Many others feel the same way.

Did Aaron take his own life or was he killed? Moti Nissani is Wayne State University Department of Biology Professor Emeritus. “Who Killed Aaron Swartz,” he asked?

He quoted Bob Marley saying: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” He listed reasons why Obama administration scoundrels wanted him dead.

His death “was preceded by a vicious, totally unjustified, campaign of surveillance, harassment, vilification, and intimidation.”

CIA/FBI/Mossad/MI5 assassins expertly “mak(e) murder look like suicide.” Numerous “enemies of the state” die under suspicious circumstances. Media scoundrels don’t explain.

US authorities “had excellent reasons to kill” Aaron. He was legendary in his own right like John Lennon, MLK, Malcolm X and others. He threatened status quo dominance. He denounced Obama’s kill list and anti-Iranian cyber attacks.

Powerful government and business figures deplored him. In 2009, FBI elements investigated him. Charges didn’t follow.

Despite extreme pressure, he pressed on. He defied prosecutorial authority. In October 2009, he posted his FBI file online. Doing do “probably signed his own lynch warrant,” said Nissani.

Two days before his death, JSTOR, his alleged victim, declined to press charges. It went further. It “announced that the archives of more than 1,200 of its journals would be available to the public free.”

Aaron had just cause to celebrate. “Are we to believe” he hanged himself instead?

Government officials and corporate bosses “had plenty of reasons” to want him dead. He challenged their totalitarian agenda. “He was creative, idealistic and unbendable.”

“He was young and admired by many.” Did “invisible government” elements kill him?

“They did so either indirectly through constant harassment….or, most likely, directly by hanging him and” blaming him for their crime.

“All this raises a dilemma for those of us possessing both conscience and a functioning brain.” How much longer will we stand by and do nothing?

How long will we tolerate what demands condemnation? When will we defend our own interests?

Freedom is too precious to lose. Preserving it depends on us. No one will do it for us. It’s not possible any other way. It never was. It never will be.

Aaron’s Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto

His own words say it best.

“Information is power,” he said. “But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”

“The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.”

“Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.”

“There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”

“But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.”

“That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them?”

“Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”

” ‘I agree,’ many say, but what can we do?’ The companies hold the copyrights. They make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal – there’s nothing we can do to stop them. But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.”

“Those with access to these resources – students, librarians, scientists – you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out.”

“But you need not – indeed, morally, you cannot – keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.”

“Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.”

“But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.”

“Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it – their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.”

“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.”

“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive.”

“We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerrilla Open Access.”

“With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”

Does Aaron’s manifesto sound like someone planning suicide?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

 Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit

Parts of the documentary Modified are spent at the kitchen table. But it's not really a tale about wonderful recipes or the preparation of food....

Pathological Deceit: The NYT Inverts Reality on Venezuela’s Cuban Doctors

by Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz A New York Times “exposé” (3/17/19) of Cuban doctors’ supposed interference in Venezuelan elections was riddled with inaccuracies, omissions...

Devin Nunes Has a Cow, and Free Speech Is Endangered

California Rep. Devin Nunes opened himself up to widespread ridicule across the internet yesterday after he reportedly filed a lawsuit against Twitter, a conservative...

Will Decentralization of Neo-Nazism Spur More Right-Wing Terrorism?

For the first time in decades, it is possible that there will be no U.S. neo-Nazi party large enough to hold public rallies. In...

Can Facebook Reinvent Itself?

Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that Facebook would be shifting its focus from publicly shared content to “privacy-focused communications.” Zuckerberg’s announcement comes as new...

Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You...

It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office...

‘Resistance’ Media Side With Trump to Promote Coup in Venezuela

by Alan MacLeod We like to think we have an adversarial media—one that will stand up, in particular, to Donald Trump. The media assured us...

Ocasio-Cortez Rattles Pundits Across the Corporate Media Spectrum

  Few freshman members of Congress cause as much of a stir as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has. Articles about her are consistently the best-performing on right-wing...

Democrats in Congress Unveil Ambitious Plan to Fix Our Election System

On the second day of the 116th Congress, the new House Democratic majority will introduce H.R. 1, the most comprehensive democracy reform legislation seen...

Newly declassified docs reveal former PM Major’s mooted Europe vote — RT UK News

Former British Prime Minister John Major and his cabinet considered holding an EU referendum in...

Slate’s Readers May Be Liberal, but Its Labor Politics Are Kochian

  Slate legal writers called the outlet’s “right-to-work” stance “anathema to the values that drew us to Slate in the first place” (Bloomberg, 12/11/18). While successful...

Imagine a World Without War, Where Migrants Are Welcomed, Where Women Are Not Targets

Not often does good news come on International Human Rights Day—December 10. It is mostly a somber occasion, a day to reflect on the...

‘The Media Continue to Promote a Narrative of Dependency’ – CounterSpin interview with Teresa...

Janine Jackson interviewed Teresa Basilio Gaztambide about communications failures in Puerto Rico for the October 12, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

Twitter & NATO think tank publish database of tweets, pics… and GIFs by ‘Russian...

Ahead of midterm elections, Twitter has reminded Americans that democracy is still under threat by releasing...

You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again

by John W. Whitehead / October 16th, 2018 If the freedom of speech be taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep...

Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners

Reuters (9/19/18) described two branches of the National Endowment for Democracy, set up by the Reagan administration during the Cold War to promote US...

3D gun pioneer Cody Wilson wanted for sexual assault of a minor — RT...

Outspoken gun and speech rights activist Cody Wilson has been charged with sexual assault of a...

Beyond The DNC – Funding Hacks and Sedition

Any DNC server leak in 2016 could have been a patriotic act to counter Ukrainian Intel operators access inside the DNC and US Government...

An Online Vigil in Defense of Julian Assange With Daniel Ellsberg, Craig Murray, Bill...

Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, on Saturday helped moderate a daylong chain of interviews in defense of WikiLeaks and...

Watch Online Vigil in Defense of Julian Assange – Consortiumnews

Join Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, on Saturday as he moderates a daylong chain of interviews in defense of...

Amid Trump’s NAFTA Confusion, Demands for Trade Deal That Puts Workers, Environment Over Corporate...

Some observers, including lawmakers and journalists, were left scratching their heads on Monday after President Donald Trump suggested he was ditching the North American...

‘The Locks They Put on DVDs Now Are in Tractors’

Janine Jackson re-aired an interview with Kyle Wiens about the right to repair for the August 17, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. It originally aired...

An Updated and Improved Marxism

It is the rare intellectual who can withstand the pressures of groupthink. This is a fundamental truth, or a truism, borne out not only...

Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire

American weapons makers have dominated the global arms trade for decades. In any given year, they’ve accounted for somewhere between one-third and more than...

Brits to get opportunity to purchase tech for £25 a month — RT UK...

British sex-robots enthusiasts will now be able to get their wares for just £25 per...

Fancy Bear Exposed Ukraine is Behind the Hacking Group

  Just one other thing....... Have you heard of Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear? Of course, you have. Everybody has. And we've heard time and again...

Trudeau Lies on Iran – Blog

Another Liberal broken promise. Before becoming prime minister, Justin Trudeau promised to re-engage with Iran. His government has failed to do so and is...

5 top Russia scares launched by MSM this week — RT US News

Russia has lately been accused of numerous deadly sins, as politicians and media throw around scary-sounding...

New female genital mutilation case in UK every 2 hours, figures reveal, while all...

A new case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is recorded in the UK every two...

Tommy Robinson treatment is ‘shocking’- Morrissey decries jail term as a blow to UK...

Former Smiths frontman Morrissey has thrown his support behind jailed EDL founder Tommy Robinson. He...

Tommy Robinson supporters threaten judge behind ex-EDL leader’s jail term — RT UK News

Tommy Robinson fans are lashing out at the media and Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, who...

Amazon’s smart-speaker Alexa ‘leaks’ private conversation to random number — RT US News

A US couple was horrified to find out that their private conversation was recorded by Amazon’s...

Are you being watched? Police admit to taking photos of innocent people to hunt...

UK police have admitted to using facial recognition cameras – despite the tactic being labeled...

Internet responds to Melanie Phillip’s comments on Islamophobia — RT UK News

Melanie Phillips has sparked furore after stating that Islamophobia is just a "fiction to shut...

The Spirit of 1968 Is Inextinguishable —Even 50 Years Later

Capitalist adventurer Richard Branson and cultural and political rebel Tariq Ali were both shaped by the experiences of 1968 – and, significantly, the years...

BBC blasted for using public cash to lend money to staff — RT UK...

The BBC is using license payers’ money to hand loans and advances to staff it...

The Real Reason Social Media Makes Hollywood So Nervous

The Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” envisions a dystopia where every human interaction is rated on social media. There’s an episode of the Netflix show Black...

Who Owns The “Virtual You”?

Congress Held Ten Hours of Hearings on Facebook. What’s Next?

After grilling Mark Zuckerberg for ten hours this past week, the big question facing Congress is, “What’s next?” The wide-ranging hearings covered everything from...

Who Will Take on the 21st Century Tech and Media Monopolies?

Facebook “failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals” (London...

Cloud act passes without fanfare — RT US News

President Trump on Friday prevented another government shutdown by signing a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill....

Irishmen subjected to CIA-style ‘5 techniques’ by British not tortured – European court —...

A European court has rejected a request to find that a group of 14 men...

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is a Drop of Water Trickling Down the Visible Top...

Cambridge Analytica is on the cover of every newspaper. The company managed to get hold of millions of data points of very sensitive data...

Teenage boys & privacy advocates rejoice! Porn age-verification laws delayed by UK government —...

Here’s some great news for teen boys and privacy campaigners everywhere: Plans to introduce age...

Wife of jailed blogger Raif Badawi begs Saudi prince to free him during UK...

The wife of a Saudi blogger jailed for “insulting Islam” has begged Mohammad bin Salman...

Senior British diplomat working at firm behind Saudi PR offensive — RT UK News

A UK diplomat is working for the firm behind a multimillion pound Saudi PR drive...

Porn age-verification a ‘treasure trove of information’, privacy groups warn — RT UK News

New laws requiring porn sites to verify users’ ages will make a data breach “inevitable,”...

How the Anti-Democracy Movement Used Media to Command the Narrative

An excerpt from Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning and Connection for the America We Want (Beacon Press, 2017).  As far back as 1835, perhaps our nation’s...

Making Google and Facebook pay fair amount of tax could hurt UK, analysts warn...

Proposals for giant tech companies such as Google and Facebook to pay significantly more tax...

Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings

Journalists on social media pushed back on Friday against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch's claim that the news media "loves" mass shootings because they deliver...

Gun control activists target Bezos platform for streaming NRATV — RT US News

Twitter users are targeting Amazon Fire TV for continuing to stream NRATV following the Florida high...

When the Deep State Bites- Bite Back!

  Back in 1991, the general consensus of the Intelligence community was that America needed a strong Russia. An internally strong and stable Russia was...

The Voice of America as Trojan Horse

...or Democracy as American franchise. The Voice of America has always been a ploy to coerce the people into believing that state corporatism is the...

To Save the Internet We Must Own the Networks | By David Morris

In late October, Ajit Pai, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, proudly announced, “We’ve been energetic in advancing the public interest…over the past nine...

Why Did the News-Media Hide This Important Fact?

Eric Zuesse On December 13th, the following news-story was distributed for publication to virtually all U.S.-and-allied major (and many minor) newsmedia, but it was published...

NYT Prints Government-Funded Propaganda About Government-Funded Propaganda

A New York Times op-ed (12/11/17) warns of “efforts by government authorities to shape and control online discussions”–but doesn’t mention the government authorities who...

POLL: By 2-to-1, Americans Oppose Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at A reliable scientific poll of 2,000 Americans, taken during 1-6 November 2017 — just a month before U.S. President...

Some Recent Reasons to Distrust American-Allied ‘News’Media

Eric Zuesse Only enough of the openings of these articles are included here so as to indicate the gist, about the rape of the public’s...

Backlash Against Russian ‘Fake News’ Is Shutting Down Debate for Real

A few days before the Halloween hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where powerful tech companies would provide testimony...

Supreme Court justices signal in favor of cell phone privacy — RT US News

A string of robberies could end up having a major impact on technological privacy rights in...

Billionaire shuts down Gothamist & DNAinfo after journalists vote to unionize — RT US...

Two of New York City’s top digital news outlets have been shuttered just days after reporters...

US govt expands warrantless surveillance of Americans — RT US News

The US government, without court or congressional review, may have broadened a legal interpretation of which...

GOP & Dem lawmakers introduce 1st bill to limit warrantless surveillance

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced the first legislative proposal to restrict law enforcement’s access...

‘Momentous’: US Supreme Court begins new session with full slate

The US Supreme Court began its new session looking at a full slate of controversial cases,...

UK to lose its marbles? Greek activists seek Brexit blockade to regain ‘stolen’ Parthenon...

Greece could exploit upcoming Brexit negotiations to take back Parthenon art “stolen” by the British...

Liberals, Cut Your Cable Cords

They’ve finally done it. For the first time, MSNBC is consistently beating Fox News in total primetime cable news viewership. The number one program...

Local politician can’t ban constituents from Facebook page – judge

A federal court in Virginia has ruled that a politician violated a constituent’s free speech rights...

CIA plans to destroy old files related to leaks

A CIA proposal to destroy files deemed no longer of historical importance has been authorized. Critics...

Auguries of Innocence & Navel-Gazing

Does our understanding of freedom depend on how we respond to two contra cosmological paradigms…namely the interaction between the ‘particular’ and the ‘universal’ …or...

Did British students commit election fraud? Watchdog launches ‘double-voting’ probe

An investigation has been launched into “troubling” reports of thousands of people illegally voting twice...

Porn sites to be blocked if they don’t check users are over 18

Pornographic content could soon be hidden behind age-verification checks as the government takes its first...

A Liberal’s Cry of Despair

For three decades, E. D. Hirsch, Jr. has been one of the foremost defenders of the American public schools. He has also been a...

How and Why U.S. Honors and Aids Al Qaeda

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker This will present a typical example in which the U.S. promotes Al Qaeda and other jihadists, and then...

Barring sex offenders from social media unconstitutional – Supreme Court

A North Carolina law banning sex offenders from social media sites accessible by children is unconstitutional,...

Promoting the Commons in the Time of Monsters

Can the Commons and peer-to-peer (P2P) practices really offer viable solutions for our present and future social, political and ecological crises? Spain’s municipal successes...

Radical Decentralization, Not Universalism

Conservatives and progressives alike spent the 20th century arguing for universal political principles. But the world is not so malleable; even in a hyper-connected...

Britannia rules the web? Theresa May wants sweeping new powers to control the internet

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wants sweeping new powers for her government to seize indiscriminate...

Access Denied: Facebook Blocks Abortion Pill Provider's Page for 'Promotion of Drug Use'

As of late Thursday night, Facebook has yet to explain why it has blocked the page of a women's health organization that provides abortion...

‘The Internet Should Be Treated as a Public Utility’

Janine Jackson interviewed Craig Aaron for the February 6, 2015, episode of CounterSpin, and Malkia Cyril for the October 1, 2014, episode, on net...

‘It Comes Down to Monopoly Control of the Aftermarket’

Janine Jackson interviewed Kyle Wiens about copyright overreaching for the April 28, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

New powers could allow British cyber spooks to spy on you in real time,...

Published time: 5 May, 2017 16:09 The British government is seeking new powers to remove...

A Municipal Vote in Providence for Police Reform Carries National Implications

After three years of sustained community mobilization and advocacy, the Providence City Council in Rhode Island voted this Thursday to unanimously approve among the most...

Groups Decry Trump Plan to Demand Social Media Passwords at US Border

Raising concern about the violations of privacy occurring in the name of U.S. border security, a coalition of consumer rights groups on Tuesday launched...

How to Lose the Next War in the Middle East (Short Answer: Fight it!)

Make no mistake: after 15 years of losing wars, spreading terror movements, and multiplying failed states across the Greater Middle East, America will fight...

Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere

Defending one’s political and religious beliefs to government officials is an obligation we associate with life in authoritarian regimes, not open societies.  It’s becoming...

California bill to ban fake news pulled amid free speech concerns

Published time: 30 Mar, 2017 00:26 A California state lawmaker pulled his proposed legislation that would have...

Border searches of electronic devices prompt FOIA lawsuit against Trump administration

Dramatic increase in border searches of electronic devices prompt FOIA lawsuit against Trump administration ...

Leaping Beyond the Prison Walls

In the first week of February, thirteen students—all incarcerated adolescents serving time in an adult correctional facility—gather to think through a provocative question posed to...

The Erosion of Dutch Democracy

As the Dutch election campaign, swayed by far-right leader Geert Wilders, draws to a close, parties set to gain a near-majority in parliament have...

Google & Microsoft sign pact to clamp down on illegally-streamed sports

Illegally streamed sporting events and films will be increasingly difficult to find online under an anti-piracy agreement between Google and Microsoft which will hide...

To Resist and Reclaim, Hundreds of Recess Events Planned to Target Lawmakers

Members of Congress are heading home this weekend amid a high likelihood of encountering angry—and empowered—constituents who are ready to confront them at town...

The Trump Administration’s Other War on the Media

The Trump administration’s unrelenting attacks on the media and assault on reality have been well covered by journalists and media outlets that find themselves...

Anti-whistleblower laws are ‘full-frontal attack’ on public’s right to know – campaigners

Proposed whistleblowing laws which would hand truth-tellers up to 14 years in jail are a “full-frontal assault” on freedom, say campaigners. Draft proposals written up...

The History of Anti-Authoritarian Struggle is a History Worth Repeating

Throughout his campaign, critics have drawn comparisons between Donald Trump and authoritarian leaders from the past. From his proposed plans to create a Muslim...

From Agriculture to Demonetisation: Not ‘Make in India’ but Made in Washington

Colin Todhunter A version of the following piece was originally published in June 2016. However, since then, India’s PM Narendra Modi has embarked on a...

Cyber Security Takes on New Urgency for Groups Targeted by Trump

With a few weeks to go until Donald Trump's inauguration as president, activists from the grassroots to large organizations like the ACLU are working...

How The U.S. ‘News’Media Has Proven It Cannot Be Trusted

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The great metascientist and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb headlined on November 22nd a devastating takedown of U.S. ‘news’media and...

FBI gets expanded hacking powers despite Senate fight

Senate lawmakers failed to delay a rule that will enhance the government’s hacking powers. The change...

‘Beacon for despots everywhere’: Britain’s ‘extreme’ surveillance bill becomes law

Britain’s intelligence services have officially been given the most wide-ranging and privacy-invading mass surveillance powers in the world, according to critics, after the Investigatory...

US police spend millions on social media monitoring tools, study finds

A new study has found law enforcement agencies spent $4.75 million on social media monitoring tools...

Time To Rebrand Libertarianism

Silver Lining: The Media has Lost Control of the Narrative I want to talk about some of the silver linings in this awful election, and...

‘Our Identity Is Often What’s Triggering Surveillance’ – CounterSpin interview with Brandi Collins on...

Janine Jackson interviewed Brandi Collins about surveillance of the Movement for Black Lives for the October 28, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a...

Govt surveillance court order to Yahoo not likely to be declassified

The secret court order issued to Yahoo that allowed the US government to obtain user data...

How the 2004 Presidential Election Was Stolen by George W. Bush

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - In 2006, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. headlined at Rolling Stone “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” and he presented an argument that...

Half of Americans in ‘virtual lineup’ face-recognition police programs – study

To help identify a culprit, police may ask people to volunteer to be in a line-up....

The National Security Case for a TPP Lame Duck Vote: Not!

“Stop Fast Track” rally in Washington, DC in April 2015 (courtesy Wikimedia Commons). Notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s best efforts to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)...

What’s Behind the Latest Government Scam

“The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes...

Warner Bros scores own goal in anti-piracy efforts (PHOTOS)

Warner Bros has its own anti-piracy arm to protect its lucrative business, but it appears the company has bloodied its own nose by flagging...

They’re After Your Cash

If the IRS has its way, cash will be a thing of the past. In its place, every transaction will be digital, every purchase...

Apple upgrades security after alleged Israeli group’s spyware attack on Arab activist

A botched hack attempt using “sophisticated spyware package” allegedly tailored by an Israeli group on the iPhone of an Arab activist has triggered Apple...

‘We want cash’: Drug agents seize $209mn in random profiling of 5,200 travelers –...

In 10 years, US drug agents have seized nearly $210 million from 5,200 Americans at airports...

Family of Muslim Teen Arrested for Homemade Clock Files Suit

The family of a Muslim boy who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school filed a federal lawsuit Monday against...

At RNC, Media Put a Happy Face on Suppression of Speech

Cleveland’s NBC affiliate praised the city’s police chief for “an approachable toughness and a firm friendliness.” “News media could either be our ally or our...

New Anti-Government TV Series

“Never trust a criminal … until you have to,” is the official motto of The Blacklist, the American crime-thriller television series that premiered on NBC...

‘Unconstitutional’: Civil liberties group takes on copyright rules

Arguing that rules under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are unconstitutional, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is...

Snowden leak: MI5 has gathered so much data it may actually be missing ‘life-saving...

British spies may have missed potentially "life-saving intelligence” because their surveillance systems were sweeping up more data than could be analyzed, a leaked classified...

A Failed State in Latin America?

Opposition activists and Chavistas confront each other in Caracas. (Photo: Rodrigo Suarez) Venezuela is at the mercy of its fluids. For a country that depends on...

NYT Calls for Stronger Copyright Protection Without Calculating the Costs

The New York Times (5/31/16) presents musicians like Pharrell Williams as the face of calls for strengthened copyright protections–though only a small percentage of...

Brits hit by cyber theft could be forced to foot bill as banks shirk...

Brits who use online banking services vulnerable to criminal hackers could be made liable for...

UK cybercrime prosecutions rise 34% in 1 year

The number of cyber criminals prosecuted in Britain rose by almost 34 percent in 2015 while prosecutions for white collar criminals also increased marginally,...

‘Dangerous expansion’: Senate challenges government surveillance powers with new bill

Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul will introduce a bill this week to halt implementation of...

Trade Deals and the Environmental Crisis

With the release of leaked documents from the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) ‘trade’ deal Greenpeace framed its conclusions more diplomatically than I...

00-Seventies? UK diplomats’ outmoded tech vulnerable to foreign spies, report says

Outmoded technology that is vulnerable to spies and underperforming staff have relegated UK diplomacy to...

‘Unprecedented’: UK activist fearing US extradition, 99yr sentence awaits landmark court ruling

UK authorities have hijacked a civil suit launched by a cybersecurity expert from Suffolk accused...

‘Our rules, not China’s’: Obama invokes Beijing threat in defense of Pacific trade deal

The rules of trade in the Asia-Pacific must be written by America, not China, US President...

Texas Prison System Unveils New Censorship Policy

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is getting in the digital censorship game with a new policy that would punish an offender...

Microsoft sues DoJ over gag laws blocking customers from knowing govt got their data

Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against the US Justice Department claiming the government’s authority to block...

Cryptowars: UK activist fears US extradition, 99yr sentence for refusal to surrender encryption keys

UK authorities are trying to force a 31-year-old computer scientist accused of hacking into the...

The Future of Europe Depends on This Vote in the Netherlands

Does the European idea still inspire the Union’s better angels, or is it a spent force? (Photo: Fabio Venni / Flickr) The future of Europe...

White gay male reps ‘not oppressed enough’ to be in LGBT societies, say campaigners

White gay male representatives should be excluded from LGBT+ societies, because they don’t face oppression...

NYPD’s Arrests of Citizen Journalists Should Spark Outrage

Copwatching activist Daniel Flores is arrested (on traffic island) at a protest in The Bronx. (image: AshAgony) Last week, New York City police officers arrested...

NAFTA and Obama’s Proposed ‘Trade’ Deals Are UnConstitutional

Eric Zuesse NAFTA and other mega-‘trade’ deals are actually about lots more than merely ‘trade’; they’re about sovereignty — the ability of each of the participating nations...

Privacy vs free speech: Hulk Hogan beats Gawker in lawsuit

The two-week trial of Hulk Hogan versus Gawker has ended with a Florida jury awarding $115...

UN rapporteur: ‘Bad example’ UK should bin the Snoopers’ Charter

IPB The UN's special rapporteur on privacy has used his maiden report to the Human Rights Council, which he presented today, to criticise the...
Meet the corporations lobbying the EU on TTIP

Meet the corporations lobbying the hardest for TTIP and ending democracy

It is quite incredible that the unelected bureaucrats of the EU Commission are even entertaining such an idea as the deeply unpopular TTIP trade...

Corporate Power Doesn’t Always Win: Remembering the FTAA

(Photo: Shooting Chris / Flickr) In retrospect, it sounds like a dream come true: a mobilized population, intercontinental organizing, cooperative left-wing governments – all culminating...

16 States Introduce Legislation to Limit Surveillance and Protect Student and Employee Privacy

NEW YORK - Today at 2 p.m. ET, a nationwide coalition of legislators from both parties and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum...

A Balanced View of the Obama Presidency

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Barack Obama’s Presidency turns out to have been what neither his supporters nor his opponents expected. A balanced historical...

‘If We Don’t Look at the Larger Structural Issues, We Can’t Begin to Solve...

The December 25, 2015, CounterSpin reprised three interviews dealing with the issues highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a lightly edited...

We Threw a Wrench in the White House’s TPP Fast Track Plan

Our campaign to fight the anti-user Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was a rollercoaster this year. Our mobilization against the Fast Track trade bill resulted...

Furniture designers expose ‘out of touch’ copyright system in UK fight

The UK government is under pressure from foreign companies to expand the time window on a copyright law that covers content like photographs of...

Science of snooping: Internet spying cost & feasibility examined by MPs

MPs have launched an inquiry into the cost and feasibility of the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill, known as the Snooper’s Charter, to examine how...

The Internet Needs a New Economy

Just a year or so ago, Bitcoin was weird. The digital “crypto-currency” had become fairly notorious as a preferred medium of exchange for hackers,...

For science! US government says it’s OK to hack your car, tablet or smart...

The Library of Congress just granted a set of copyright exemptions, giving the owners of smart TV sets and cars the ability to tinker...

GCHQ handed new smartphone-hacking legal powers

Spy agencies in Britain will be given the explicit right to hack into smartphones and computers as part of a new law being introduced...

TTIP: The Aristocracy Aren’t Satisfied; They Demand More

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at A new analysis of the Obama-proposed TTIP ‘trade’ treaty, which the U.S. would have with Europe, finds that it...

The Western Alliance Is Crumbling

EU Is Abandoning U.S. on Overthrowing Assad Obama Cannot Defeat Assad without EU’s Help EU Also Rejects Obama’s TTIP & TISA Demands Obama’s Presidential ‘Legacy’ Heads to...

Defending Against Overreaching Surveillance in Ethiopia: Surveillance Self-Defense now Available in Amharic

From telecommunications infrastructure to TV and radio airwaves, the Ethiopian government’s controls over communications infrastructure in the country means that even the most private...

‘Surveillance bill in disguise’ might make a Senate comeback this week

As Congress scurries to avoid another government shutdown, lawmakers may be ready to once again bring up a controversial information-sharing bill for consideration this...

The Volkswagen emissions scandal

Peter Schwarz The scandal at Volkswagen (VW) over the manipulation of emissions readings from its autos in the US has plunged the firm into a...

TISA and Tech’s Double Standards On Secret Government Internet Deals

The stash of previously-secret correspondence about the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) that EFF obtained and published this week speaks volumes about the extent...

Video: In Victory for Corporations, Court Rejects Rule on Labeling Goods Containing “Conflict Minerals”

[youtube] Since 1998, more than 5 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo in what has been described as the deadliest...

Where the TPP Could Lose

Activists in Chile have made their government draw red lines on the corporate-friendly investment deal. North Americans could take a lesson. Julia Paley After years of...

Backlash mounts against government attack on Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By James Cogan Today’s Australian editorial consists of a furious and largely incoherent...

Surveillance court moving toward renewal of NSA spying program for 6 months

(RT) - The secretive court that oversees US government spying requests has indicated that it will temporarily renew the National Security Agency's bulk phone records...

NATO Lies to NPR

Eric Zuesse On 17 June 2015, U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed NATO’s and America’s General Ben Hodges, who is the Commanding General of the U.S. Army...

The Two Contending Visions of World Government

The Origin & Broader Context of Obama’s ‘Trade’ Deals Eric Zuesse U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed ‘Trade’ deals are actually about whether the world is heading...

Stop Resisting–Your Government Knows Best

Dozens of articles have been published in the last few weeks, glorifying the removal of vaccine exemptions. The state of Vermont, whose state motto...

Surveilling and censoring the internet in Pakistan

A new bill before parliament could severely limit internet freedom and raises concerns the state is legalising censorship and mass digital surveillance, rights activists say. The...

How DNA Is Turning Us Into a Nation of Suspects

Reprinted with permission of Washington's Blog By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute. “The year is 2025. The population...

Al Jazeera Spy Cables

Stephen Lendman  RINF Alternative News On February 23, Al Jazeera headlined "The Spy Cables: A Glimpse into the world of espionage." Saying "(s)ecret documents, leaked from numerous...

5 Ways Mass Surveillance Is Destroying the US Economy

Via Washington's Blog with permission Prosperity Requires Privacy Privacy is a prerequisite for a prosperous economy. Even the White House admits: People must have confidence that data will travel...

Go to Prison for Sharing Files? That’s What Hollywood Wants in the Secret TPP...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept...

The Battle of Our Time: Breaking the Spell of the Corporate State

Nozomi Hayase In late 2010, political activist John Perry Barlow tweeted: “The first serious info-war is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You...

Comprehensive Trade And Economic Agreement And The Transatlantic Trade And Investment Partnership: Don’t Let...

Colin Todhunter As part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), there are plans to enshrine massive powers for corporations that will allow them to challenge...

AT&T and Verizon use “supercookies” to track users’ online activities

Thomas Gaist Telecommunications corporations Verizon and AT&T automatically monitor and record all Internet activity by users accessing their cellular data networks, according to reports published...

Parent Alert! NSF Awards Grant for Data Mining Children

Diane Ravitch The National Science Foundation has awarded grants of $4.8 million to several prominent research universities to advance the use of Big Data in...

Why Phone and Cable Companies Want to Kill the Internet’s Most Democratic Right

Tim Karr Net Neutrality -- the principle that protects Internet users' free speech rights -- is censorship. Did you get that? You did if you happened...

Obama’s war on whistleblowers

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Israel is facing its first digital mutiny in the ranks. And the issue fuelling the soldiers’ discontent could not be more revealing about the self-harming character of Israeli society.

This month, a social-media campaign went viral in defence of David Adamov, an Israeli conscript caught on camera pointing his cocked rifle at a 15-year-old Palestinian in Hebron who dared to argue with him. He also threatened to put “a bullet in the head” of another young Palestinian for filming the confrontation.

Outraged by media reports that Adamov had been jailed for 20 days, hundreds of male and female soldiers posted photos on social media sites holding placards in front of their faces – to avoid punishment – expressing support for their comrade in arms.

Within hours, a Facebook page backing Adamov had attracted more than 100,000 likes. A senior government minister, Naftali Bennett, joined the outcry, declaring on his own page that the soldier “did the right thing”.

The ironies mounted as the campaign unfolded. Fellow soldiers have styled Adamov “David of Nahal”, a reference to his army brigade and, it seems, an allusion to the Bible. In his supporters’ eyes, Adamov is the victim-hero of an unlikely ­Goliath – a mouthy, unarmed Palestinian minor.

The military chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has admitted that the incident raises matters of “military ethics”, but only because of the insubordination expressed in the ­social media campaign, not because of Adamov’s misuse of his firearm. And more revealing still, the army responded to the uproar by pointing out that Adamov had not been jailed for abusing the Palestinian youth but because, in an unrelated matter, he assaulted his commanding officer.

The Nahal brigade had been in the news a few weeks earlier. Its soldiers were discovered to have designed and printed a graduation T-shirt with a hate-filled message for Palestinians. The shirt featured an image of a Nahal soldier in the city of Nablus above the slogan “Nablus, we’re coming!” and a warning to Palestinian mothers that their sons’ fate would be decided by the brigade.

The problems at the heart of these two incidents were underscored in a recent Amnesty International report titled Trigger Happy. The human rights group identified a disturbing pattern of behaviour: Israeli soldiers were targeting unarmed Palestinians, including children, with live ammunition, in some cases as they fled. Amnesty called the army’s use of force mostly “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal”.

Amnesty found that, after a lull in Palestinian deaths following the end of the second intifada in the mid-2000s, the rate of killings and injuries is dramatically on the rise.

Unlike the situation a decade ago, Palestinians were often being killed at largely non-violent demonstrations against land confiscations. Stone throwing, even when it posed no danger to soldiers, was routinely greeted with live ammunition.

Amnesty described army investigations into the killings as “woefully inadequate”. It could not identify a single soldier who had been convicted of the “wilful killing” of a Palestinian in the occupied territories in the past 25 years.

Of course, in no period in its history did the “most moral army in the world” come close to justifying its self-promoted reputation. But the transformation of the occupation into a permanent state of affairs, as well as recent technological innovations, appear to be making a dire situation even worse.

What the Amnesty report highlights is an entrenchment of prejudices shared equally by the higher and lower ranks. It has not helped that over the past decade extremist settlers have come to dominate the officer class.

Palestinians, including children, have become dehumanised in the eyes of Israeli society. And long-standing impunity means soldiers understand that reckless or malevolent behaviour will rarely if ever land them in trouble.

Paradoxically, technology – particularly cameras in mobile phones – has only compounded these ugly trends.

Shortly after the Adamov incident, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a press conference to deplore young Israelis’ obsession with their phones and the “selfie”, arguing that Israeli youth were “slaves” to technology.

Although he did not set out his reasoning, it is not too difficult to fathom. Israeli soldiers, like teenagers around the world, love to boast online about their exploits. The difference is that some Israelis posing for a selfie may be committing a war crime as they do so.

Young Palestinians are using their smartphones for similar purposes: to document their abuse and humiliation at the hands of armed ­Israeli teenagers. The ensuing photos and videos now feed the outrage of a watching world and regularly embarrass Israel’s image-makers.

Strangely, Israeli soldiers are behaving no more cautiously. In fact, they seem to be exaggerating their cruelty for the reality show that is their military service. And their commanders, faced with endless discomfiting episodes, seem more committed than ever to avoid setting a precedent by punishing them.

Possibly through overexposure, wider Israeli society seems to have rapidly become more inured to this kind of gratuitous violence.

The paradoxes run deeper still. The ever greater transparency of the occupation fuels the soldiers’ sense of victimhood and oppression. If they are now to be denied the title of “the most moral in the world”, then they seem to believe their army ought to be dubbed “the most misunderstood”.

This mirrors a more general ideological shift to the right in Israeli society as global sympathy for the Palestinians grows. The world may consider us oppressors, say Israelis, but we refuse to act the part of the guilty: we will proudly parade our tyranny instead.

Israeli society, like its soldiers, is caught in a self-destructive cycle: its very sensitivity to criticism pushes it ever more resolutely towards outcast status.

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Global Research and Countercurrents 2/4/2014

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP – previously known as TAFTA, Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

There is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for genetically modified organisms and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and, while striving to give the appearance of somehow being democratic, effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (1,2,3,4,5,6).

A European alliance of over 50 civil society organizations (7) are in the process of launching the ‘Alternative Mandate’ pledge campaign (8), calling on European Parliament election candidates to make EU trade and investment policy serve people and the planet, not just the profit of a few large corporations.

Lyda Fernanda Forero of the Transnational Institute, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance says:

“The EU’s current trade and investment policy is a recipe for disaster for people around the world. The EU is leading an aggressive agenda to open markets for global agri-business. This is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. Excessive investor rights take away much needed policy space. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda.”

The online pledge campaign will run in six EU languages (EN, FR, ES, DE, GR, HU) and will enable activists and citizens to ask candidates to pledge in support of a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policy. The website will monitor which candidates have supported different parts of the pledge.

MEP candidates will be asked to support measures that enable people to control their own local food systems as well as core labour standards and human rights’ assessments of EU trade and investment policy. Candidates will also be asked to oppose the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and to call on the European Commission to immediately publish all texts from trade and investment negotiations with third countries such as, for example, the United States.

Sergi Corbalán, executive director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance:

“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process which is controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than being driven by unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups.”

The pledge campaign is the result of a four-year process of public workshops held all over Europe during which the Alternative Trade Mandate was developed; it is a 20-page civil society proposal to democratise EU trade and investment policy and put environmental protection as well as human and labour rights at its heart (9). Some MEPs have already supported the proposal via video messages (10).

Amélie Canonne, co-ordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance:

 “At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will support trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade and investment rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few.”


7) Current members of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance are: Afrika Kontakt (Denmark), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (Germany), AITEC (France), Alternative Trade Network (Greece), Attac Austria, Attac France, Attac Germany, Attac Hungary, Attac Spain, Bothends (Netherlands), CAWN, CNCD (Belgium), Colibri (Germany), Comhlamh (Ireland), Commission of Filipino migrant workers (Netherlands), Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium), Ecologistas en Accion (Spain), European Milkboard, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (Belgium), Fairwatch (Italy), FDCL (Germany), FIAN Germany, Food & Water Europe, Germanwatch (Germany), GMB (UK), Misereor (Germany), No Patents on Life! (Germany), Oxfam Germany, Philippinenbuero (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consument (Earth, Farmer, Consumer – Netherlands), Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe, PowerShift (Germany), Seattle to Brussels Network, SOMO (Netherlands), Terra Nuova (Italy), Trade Justice Movement (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Vedegylet (Hungary), War on Want (UK), WEED (Germany), World Development Movement (UK), Za Zemiata (Bulgaria), 11.11.11. (Belgium)

Supporter organisations: ActionAid Netherlands, Africa Roots Movement (Netherlands), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), ASEED Europe, Attac Denmark, CEE Bankwatch Network (headquatered in the Czech Republic), Clean Clothes Campaign Netherlands, Confédération paysanne (France), Dutch section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – Netherlands), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), FAIR TRADE HELLA (Greece), FIOM-CGIL (Metalworkers Federation – Italy), FIAN Netherlands, FNV Netherlands, France Amérique Latine (France), Friends of the Earth Europe, Glopolis (Czech Republic), Hegoa (Spain), Indian Committee of the Netherlands, Milieu Defensie (Netherlands), National Peace and Justice Network (UK), OIKOS (Netherlands), Philippinenbüro (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consumer (Netherlands), Platform for an economy based on sustainability and solidarity (Netherlands), Respect Network in Europe, STRO (Netherlands), Supermacht (Netherlands), Traidcraft (UK), Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP), TRUSTED Migrants (Netherlands), La Via Campesina Europe, Wemos (Netherlands), XminY (Netherlands)

8) Visit the pledge campaign website at:

10) Why support the Alternative Trade Mandate? Responses from trade justice activists,

Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement Consultation: A smokescreen For A Corporate Agenda

Global Research and Countercurrents 28/3/2014

The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU aims to ‘protect’ investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, the public have been sidelined and unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats are facilitating the strategy (1). 

There is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU’s.

Even the leaders of the US Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.

Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved GM crops.

The TAFTA negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and are closed to proper public scrutiny (2,3,4). They amount to little more than grubby back room deals, while striving to give the appearance of somehow being democratic, and effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (5,6,7).

However, despite claims by the European Commission that there is no secrecy (8), the notes of European Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) under the EU’s freedom of information law were heavily censored. The documents showed that the EC invited industry to submit wish lists for ‘regulatory barriers’ they would like removed during the negotiations. There is no way for the public to know how the EU has incorporated this into its negotiating position as all references have been removed (4). The documents show clearly that removing differences in EU and US regulations is the key issue in the talks: in other words, a race to the bottom in setting the lowest barriers possible.

A leaked EU document (9) from the winter of 2013 shows the Commission proposing an EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Council, a permanent structure to be created as part of the TAFTA deal. Existing and future EU regulation will then have to go through a series of investigations, dialogues and negotiations in this Council. This would move decisions on regulations into a technocratic sphere, away from democratic scrutiny. Also, there would be compulsory impact assessments for proposed regulation, which will be checked for their potential impact on trade. This would be ideal for big business lobbies: creating a firm brake on any new progressive regulation in the very first stage of decision-making.

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, there is also the highly contentious trade-investor dispute settlement provision in TAFTA. It would enable UScompanies investing in Europe to bypass European courts and challenge EU governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection interfere with their profits. EU companies investing abroad would have the same privilege in the US.

This constitutes a charter for the systematic destruction and dismantling of legislation that exists to protect the hard-won rights of workers and ordinary people.

Across the world, big business has already used such investor-state dispute settlement provisions in trade and investment agreements to claim massive sums in compensation.  Tribunals, consisting of ad hoc three-member panels hired from a small club of private lawyers riddled with conflicts of interest, have granted billions of euros to companies, courtesy of taxpayers (10).

EU and US companies have used these lawsuits to destroy any competition or threats to their profits by for example challenging green energy and medicine policies, anti-smoking legislation, bans on harmful chemicals, environmental restrictions on mining, health insurance policies and measures to improve the economic situation of minorities.

If governments and parliaments fail to act to protect the public's interests, powerful corporations will acquire carte blanche to rein in democracy and curb policies devised for the public good.

Despite such major concerns, campaigners from the Seattleto Brussels Network(11) have criticised the European Commission’s recently implemented consultation on the investor rights in the EU-US trade deal as a mock consultation aimed at selling its pro-industry agenda, rather than an honest attempt to have a much-needed open debate on the issue.

Roos van Os of the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), a member of the Seattleto Brussels Network, has said:

“Those who reject the undemocratic and dangerous investor-state dispute settlement system will have no opportunity in this consultation to voice their opposition because the Commission’s biased questions provide no option for that. The Commission should make itself available for a real debate, not a cowardly advertising campaign for its corporate agenda.”

In meetings with the Commission, members of its civil society advisory group on the EU-US trade deal had stressed the need for the consultation to be intelligible for non-experts and for there to be balanced questions. But the Commission’s consultation questionnaire only contains questions about its agenda for minor reforms to salvage the controversial investor-state dispute settlement system, in a 40-page legalistic text which will be difficult for members of the public to understand.

Marc Maes of the Belgian development organisation and also a member of the Seattleto Brussels Network:

 “The Commission’s so-called reform agenda does nothing to address the basic flaws of the investor-state dispute settlement system. Therefore foreign companies will continue to have greater rights than domestic firms and citizens. And international tribunals consisting of three for-profit lawyers will continue to decide over what policies are right or wrong, disregarding domestic laws, courts and democracy.”

Analyses of leaked investment texts from the EU-Canada trade negotiations indicate that the EU’s approach to investment protection does very little to protect the right to regulate (in fact it sometimes does the exact opposite) and it will establish an arbitration system that is far inferior to domestic legal systems in the EU and North America (12).

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with CEO, another member of the Seattleto Brussels Network, said:

“The investor-state arbitration system cannot be tamed. Profit-greedy law firms and their corporate clients will always find a way to attack countries for actions that threaten their profits. The corporate super-rights should be abolished – and people in Europe should not miss this crucial opportunity to tell the Commission to do so.”

To enhance public scrutiny and democratic debate about the controversial investor rights in EU trade agreements, members of the Seattleto Brussels Network have set up a website to publish leaked negotiating texts and critical analyses of these texts:

The network is also inviting civil society organisations and members of the public to participate in ongoing online actions against the dangerous corporate rights in EU trade deals.

Be informed and take action:

Corporate EuropeObservatory:


11) The Seattleto Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women’s and farmers’ organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in

12) See, for example: IISD (2014): A Response to the European Commission’s December 2013 Document “Investment Provisions in the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA)”,; Seattle to Brussel Network (2014): Investment in CETA – A response to a lobby document by DG Trade,

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by Stephen Lendman

First Amendment rights matter most. Without them all other freedoms are at risk. Post-9/11 policies threaten them.

Bush waged war against them. Obama escalated it. He promised transparency, accountability and reform. He called whistleblowing "acts of courage and patriotism." He said one thing. He did another.

Press freedoms are endangered. An October Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report discussed Obama and the press. 

Journalists say he's waging war on dissent. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's heading America on a fast track to tyranny.

He wants information people have a right to know suppressed. He evades press scrutiny. He aggressively targets leakers.

Anyone suspected of disclosing information he wants concealed is vulnerable. Press freedom is gravely threatened.

On February 12, a CPJ press release headlined "Attacks on the Press: CPJ to launch annual global assessment of press freedom." 

It named three key threats. They include digital surveillance, murdering journalists, and pressuring them to suppress what governments don't want revealed.

Authoritarian states used to be primary battlegrounds, said CPJ. No longer. New technologies potentially threaten press freedom everywhere.

"Governments' capacity to store transactional data and the content of communications undermines journalists' ability to protect sources," said CPJ.

Out-of-control NSA spying harms everyone. It's driving a stake in the heart of press freedom. It's compromised gravely in America.

CPJ first published "Attacks on the Press" in 1986. This year's edition features a chapter titled "The NSA Puts Journalists Under a Cloud of Suspicion."

Mass agency surveillance collects enormous amounts of data. It's retained. Doing so "poses a unique threat to journalism in the digital age," said CPJ.

Virtually everything digital can be monitored. NSA "recreate(s) a reporter's research." It retraces sources' movements.

It follows current and past communications. It uncovers confidential sources. It does so with technological ease.

It renders confidentiality promises meaningless. If current interactions escape scrutiny, they're reconstructed later on.

Doing so compromises free data flows. Sources become reluctant to cooperate. Disclosing information Washington wants concealed entails risks.

Suppressing what people need to know compromises press freedom. Advanced data storage technology creates another potential risk.

"It provides a deep breeding ground for artificial intelligence systems, which may in the future lead to more efficient, even predictive, spying machines," said CPJ.

Washington and other governments will spot what they most wish to know. Perhaps they'll do it in advance.

Imagine the potential ability to discover things before they happen. Unless checked, out-of-control spying may destroy press freedom entirely. Maybe all freedoms.

Perhaps what's ongoing now is prelude to much worse. CPJ interviewed William Binney. America is "a police state," he said. Mass spying is "a totalitarian process."

NSA monitors all journalists. It maintains "a record of all of them so (it) can investigate, so (it) can look at who they'll calling - who are the potential sources that they're involved  in, what probable stories they're working on, and things like that."

National security expert James Bamford told CPJ he believes certain journalists get extra scrutiny.

"If you're writing about national security or the NSA itself, they consider you...a national security danger, and so they feel justified in doing whatever they're doing," he said.

ACLU attorney Alex Abdo litigated against NSA. At issue are compromised constitutionally guaranteed free speech and privacy rights.

"(A)ll reporters should be worried," he believes. Different things affect them.

"Reporters who work for the largest media organizations should be worried probably primarily because their sources will dry up as (they) recognize that there is no way to cover their trail."

Independent journalists may be targeted. They're vulnerable on their own. They lack "institutional protections" MSM reporters get.

When questioned, NSA consistently lies. Spokeswoman Vanee Vines told CPJ:

"NSA is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets in order to protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

It bears repeating what other articles explained. America's only threats are ones it invents.

Post-9/11, NSA spying uncovered zero terrorist threats. None! Claims otherwise are false.

Obama lied saying "US intelligence agencies (are) anchored in a system of checks and balances - with oversight from elected leaders, and protections for ordinary citizens."

He lied claiming mass surveillance "prevented multiple attacks and saved lives - not just here in the United States, but around the globe."

He lied saying federal courts and congressional oversight curbed "some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11..."

He lied saying he ordered "increased oversight and auditing, including new structures aimed at compliance."

He lied claiming nothing he's seen "indicate(s) that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of (American) citizens."

He lied saying "the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people."

He lied claiming "(t)hey're not abusing authority in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

He lied saying "(w)hen mistakes are made...they correct" them.

He lied saying "our intelligence community follows the law."

He lied claiming terrorist threats "are not going away any time soon. They are going to continue to be a major problem."

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) head James Clapper is an acknowledged perjurer. He belatedly admitted lying to Congress.

Senator Ron Wyden asked him: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

"No sir," said Clapper, "not wittingly." Facing perjury charges he wrote Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Diane Feinstein. He apologized for "clearly erroneous" remarks under oath.

Russell Tice is a former Office of Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency/NSA analyst. His career spanned 20 years.

Earlier he accused NSA of unconstitutionally wiretapping US citizens, saying:

"Everyone at NSA knew what they were doing was illegal, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over that it's against NSA policy, that you do not do that. The choice is to speak out and get fired."

Tice personally witnessed agency spying on news organizations and journalists.

Former army intelligence Sgt. Adrienne Kinne said she monitored phone conversations between journalists in Iraq and their spouses and editors.

Snowden revelations explained much more. Clapper lied to Congress claiming he caused "profound damage."

He exposed lawless spying. He connected important dots for millions. He told people what they need to know. 

He's outrageously charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. It's a WW I relic. It has no relevancy today. 

Obama uses against whistleblowers. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined.

Snowden charges include:

  • "Theft of government property;

  • Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)

  • Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."

Bradley (Chelsea) Manning was prosecuted for revealing serious war crimes. He got 35 years in prison for acting responsibly.

Journalists revealing what Washington wants suppressed are vulnerable. Last October, NSA chief General Keith Alexander expressed no patience with journalists investigating agency activities.

"I think it's wrong that newspaper reporters have all these documents, 50,000 or whatever they have, and are selling them and giving them out as these - you know it just doesn't make sense," he said.

"We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that..."

"(T)hat's more (for) the courts and the policy makers, but from my perspective it's wrong, and to allow this to go on is wrong."

Most journalists may not end up in NSA's crosshairs, said CPJ. All journalists need to know they're monitored. They're vulnerable if writing about affairs of state and related issues.

It's impossible to know everything NSA collects, said CPJ. It's enough to give everyone pause.

Constitutional violations threaten fundamental freedoms. They're eroding en route to perhaps disappearing altogether.

Computer security expert Bruce Schneier compares meta-data collection and analysis to hiring a private detective to snoop on someone's activities and associations.

"The result would be details of what he did: where he went, who he talked to, what he looked at, what he purchased - how he spent his day," said Schneier.

Bamford calls meta-data surveillance especially dangerous to journalists, saying:

"It’s always dangerous when the government has access to journalists' communication because what journalists guarantee sources is confidentiality, and if there's no such thing as confidentiality from the government, it would inhibit the future cooperation from sources." 

This gravely compromises investigative journalism. If government "see(s) all the numbers you're calling, they're able to tell pretty much what kind of story you're working on, even without getting (its) content..." 

"They're able to tell what the nature of the story is, (and names of) sources you're dealing with."

Binney said NSA didn't build its sophisticated Utah facility for transactional data alone. It's for collecting and storing "content of communications, not just metadata," he stressed.

"They are building more and more storage because they're collecting" vast amounts of data.

They "take everything" off communication lines "and store it." Information is "indexed to the graph of lives and social networks."

NSA can access content to determine a timeline of people's relationships. Binney believes the agency has content and meta-data for the past dozen years. 

Unless checked, imagine how much more it'll have ahead. "(T)he more data you get, the more capacity you have to see into somebody,'s life," said Binney.

Technological advances let NSA spy in unprecedented ways. Journalists have to rethink how they communicate with sources.

"The NSA is gathering power and (it's) gathering more capabilities and more eavesdropping, more invasive technologies," said Bamford.

"At the same time, (it's) deceiving the very weak organizations that are supposed to be the oversight mechanisms - the Congress and the FISA Court." 

"I think it's a very worrying situation, not just for journalists, but for anybody."

Over 100 years ago, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called sunlight "the best of disinfectants." He couldn't imagine how badly it's needed now.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) called February 11 "The Day We Fight Back."

It joined "thousands of websites in protesting (against) mass (NSA) surveillance…" It used its web site "as a platform for users to speak out against spying abuses..."

It helped them contact congressional members easily. Oppose the FISA Improvement Act, it said. Support the USA Freedom Act.

Protests were held in cities worldwide. People fought back for freedoms too important to lose.

On February 12, EFF asked "How Big Was the Day We (Fought) Back?" It showed a visual image of Michigan Stadium filled to capacity. It holds 109,901 people.

Imagine two MSs filled to capacity, said EFF. Imagine everyone in them "doing the same thing at the same time - contacting Congress and demanding an end to mass surveillance."

You'd be thousands short of nearly 250,000 Americans doing it. They called. They emailed. They demanded Congress support their rights.

Another 200,000 + participated in organized actions worldwide.

At peak times, congressional members were bombarded with over 7,000 calls an hour. EFF stressed what it said before.

February 11 wasn't a one-time action. EFF began challenging lawless NSA spying almost a decade ago. "(W)e're not going to stop now," it said.

Hundreds of thousands of people speaking out is "amazing," it added. "We're proud to have taken part" in what's so important.

EFF expressed gratitude to "many, many" other participants. Freedom isn't something handed out without struggle.

Getting rights requires fighting for them. The same holds for keeping them. Key is not letting energy wane. 

Sustaining it makes winning struggles possible. What's more precious than fundamental freedoms for all.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Beating Up on Russia

by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article called America a super-bully nation. It did so for good reason. It's no fit place to live in. Obama represents its dark side. He's waging war on humanity.

He's doing it belligerently, politically, economically and socially. He represents the worst of rogue leadership. So does bipartisan complicity.

Washington is a cesspool of lawlessness. It's worse than ever now. Lawmakers are ruthless. They're corrupt. They're self-serving. So are administration officials. 

Government by diktat is policy. So is state terror. Rule of law principles don't matter. They're routinely violated. Anything goes defines things. Democracy exists in name only.

America tolerates none at home or abroad. It demands all nations bow to its will. Outliers are targeted for regime change. 

Russia is a convenient punching bag. It's one of the few countries able to assert its independence. It's able to get away with it. At least so far.

Putin bashing is unrelenting. Instead of partnering for peace and stability, beating up on him renews Cold War tensions. 

Media scoundrels regurgitate what demands condemnation. They're complicit in hyperbolic/baseless accusations.

Mainstream misinformation calls him a strongman KGB thug. He's compared to Stalin, Hitler and Saddam. He's falsely accused of imperial ambitions. 

Putinphobes claim he loves poking America in the eye. They bash his peace initiatives. Ritualistic demonization continues. 

Doing so suggests reinventing the Evil Empire. It's back to the future. Where it's heading remains to be seen.

On January 17, the Daily Beast headlined "Congress Presses Obama on Russia sanctions."

Four senators called for doing so. They include John McCain (R. AZ), Bob Corker (R. TN), Robert Menendez (D. NY), and Ben Cardin (D. MD).

They want a provision of the so-called Magnitsky Act invoked. It lets lawmakers submit alleged human rights violator names for administration consideration.

Official accusations subject them to sanctions. They include visa bans and asset freezes. Complicit senators wrote John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, saying:

"On December 20, 2013, we received the Department of State’s first annual report." 

"Disappointingly and contrary to repeated assurances and expectations, this report indicates that no persons have been added to the Magnitsky list since April 2013 and does not provide adequate details on the administration's efforts to encourage other governments to impose similar targeted sanctions." 

"We look forward to your response to our request and hope you will also clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list as well as specific administration efforts to encourage other governments to adopt legislation similar to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012."

They stopped short of targeting Putin directly. They named Alexander Bastrykin. He's former First Deputy Prosecutor General. He chaired the Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office.

They want alleged Russian organized crime boss Dmitry Klyeuv sanctioned. Maybe they have other names in mind. 

Maybe they'll include Putin. Maybe they and other congressional hardliners plan rupturing US-Russian relations entirely.

Maybe they plan on doing it. Maybe Obama won't stop them.

On January 19, The New York Times headlined "Congressional Leaders Suggest Earlier Snowden Link to Russia."

House and Senate Intelligence Committee chairs suggested it. Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. CA) offered no evidence whatever.

Baseless accusations began last June. They followed Snowden's revelations. "(T)here has been much speculation that he was collaborating with a foreign spy service," said The Times.

An unnamed FBI official said he likely acted alone. An Agency investigation continues. 

"(D)ebate rages about whether he was a traitor, a whistle-blower or a violator of his oaths," said The Times.

Some in Washington say he's all three. Rogers accused him of knowingly or unknowingly being directed by a foreign intelligence agency. 

"I believe there's a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving hands, of an FSB (Federal Security Service) agent in Moscow," he said. "I don't think that's a coincidence."

He went "way beyond his technical capabilities," claimed Rogers. "He had help. He stole things that had nothing to do with privacy."

According to The Times:

"Intelligence officials say they have no doubt that Chinese and Russian intelligence have obtained whatever information Mr. Snowden was carrying with him digitally."

He insists he gave nothing to other governments. Rogers accused him of stealing 1.7 million intelligence files.

He claimed billions of dollars are needed to undo his security breaches. He provided no evidence to prove it.

Snowden said nothing he revealed compromises national security. He exposed lawless NSA spying. He provided a public service. He began a much needed debate.

According to Rogers, his arrival in Moscow wasn't "gee-whiz luck."

ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner advises Snowden. He called Rogers' accusation "false" and "silly." He "exaggerated national security claims."

His actions before seeking asylum were entirely inconsistent with foreign espionage. He sought asylum in 20 countries.

He was stuck in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport's transit area for weeks. It doesn't matter. House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R. TX) said he was "cultivated by a foreign power."

FBI as well as House and Senate intelligence committee investigations continue. They've been ongoing for months. They found nothing linking Snowden to foreign espionage.

It doesn't matter. Accusations continue. Russia is Washington's main target. US officials remain furious about Putin refusing America's extradition request.

Snowden's charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. It's a long ago outdated WW I relic. It has no current relevance.

It doesn't matter. Or that Snowden committed no crime. He acted under the provisions of the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act.

It protects federal employees. Reporting government wrongdoing provides a public service. Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against those who do so. 

Acting otherwise violates federal law. It spurns constitutional protections. Federal charges include:

  • "Theft of Government Property

  • Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)

  • Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."

At the time, a Government Accountability Project 
statement said:

Snowden "disclosed information about a secret program that he reasonably believed to be illegal, and his actions alone brought about the long-overdue national debate about the proper balance between privacy and civil liberties, on the one hand, and national security on the other."

He was Obama's 8th wrongfully charged victim under the Espionage Act. It's more than all previous administrations combined.

It's a damning indictment of US lawlessness. Beating up on Russia compounds it. Granting Snowden asylum had nothing to do with complicity. Nor refusing to extradite him.

Some in Washington want more than charges pressed. Snowden is public enemy number one.

An unnamed NSA analyst said:

"In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself. A lot of people share this sentiment."

An unnamed defense contractor official said Snowden's "name is cursed every day over here. Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung. Forget the trial. Just hang him."

An unnamed Army intelligence officer said:

"I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly. Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries."

"Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower."

An unnamed Pentagon official/former special forces officer said:

"I would love to put a bullet in his head. I do not take pleasure in taking another human life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single-handedly the greatest traitor in American history."

Others would nominate Pentagon commanders for that "distinction." It's a killing machine. It's responsible for millions of lost lives. It routinely commits other high crimes. 

So do many others infesting Washington. No nation causes more harm to more people globally than America. None are more out-of-control.

None are more sanctimonious. None more claim a divine right. None more abusively violate rule of law principles. 

None more outrageously call naked aggression humanitarian intervention. None more gravely threaten humanity. 

None have more apologists. None have more serial liars. None more disgracefully champion wrong over right.

America is in a class by itself. It's on a fast track toward full-blown tyranny. Some argue it already arrived. 

Thousands of innocent people languish in gulag hell. Police state laws provide cover. Torture is official policy. So is diktat power over constitutional law. 

High-level public and private wrongdoing is endemic. It's out-of-control. Permanent wars wage. America's only enemies are ones it creates.

Countries are ravaged one at a time or in multiples. No one is safe at home. Freedom is fast disappearing. Dissent is considered criminal. So is challenging government wrongdoing.

Exposing it is essential. Whistleblowers perform a public service. They deserve praise, not prosecution. Not in America. It's beautiful for its privileged alone. It's pure hell for most others. Change is nowhere in sight.

A Final Comment

On January 19, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Documents Show NSA Phone Program Provided 1,000 Terror Tips A Year to FBI."

Obama and NSA head General Keith Alexander lied claiming mass surveillance prevented 50 terrorist threats. 

Domestic and foreign spying discovered none. It foiled none. Innocent victims are wrongfully charged. They languish unjustly in America's gulag.

The Journal said "newly declassified (DNI) documents" claim NSA's phone program provides about three potential terror tips daily.

Whether true, exaggerated or false, their quality or reliability isn't explained. According to the Journal:

"A recent presidentially appointed review of the program found the NSA phone surveillance program had not been essential to preventing attacks." 

"The program's defenders argue it has been an important counterterrorism tool."

America's only terror threats are ones it invents. NSA spying has nothing to do with national security. 

It's for control, political advantage and espionage. It doesn't keep America safe. It's unconstitutional. It continues unrestrained. 

It does so more intrusively as technology improves. So-called Obama reforms assure business as usual.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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NSA spying is longstanding. It's ongoing abroad and at home. It has nothing to do with national security. It's unrelated to uncovering terrorist plots. 

Homegrown ones virtually don't exist. Alleged ones are hatched. They're fake. Claiming dozens were foiled in time is false. 

They're Big Lies. Previous articles discussed dozens of innocent victims. They included:

  • a fake shoe bomber;

  • fake underwear bomber;

  • fake Times Square bomber;

  • an earlier one there;

  • fake shampoo bombers;

  • fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake mass casualty attacks on New York landmarks;

  • fake Oregon bomber;

  • fake armed forces recruiting station bomber;

  • fake synagogue bombers;

  • fake Chicago Sears Tower bombers;

  • fake FBI and other building bombers;

  • fake National Guard, Fort Dix and Quantico marine base attackers;

  • fake 9/11 bombers; 

  • fake Boston bombers; and 

  • numerous others. 

At issue is generating fear. Washington's fake war on terror needs public support. FBI operatives are involved. 

Orchestrated stings are used. Innocent victims are entrapped. Familiar schemes repeat. 9/11 is the Big Lie of our time. So is the fake war on terror. 

Innocent victims languish in America's gulag. NSA spying watches everyone. It's unconstitutional. It's for police state control. It's  ending privacy. It's destroying freedom. 

Global spying is espionage. It's for political and economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

The New America Foundation (NAF) is an establishment organization. Bilderberg Group/CIA-connected Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs its board of directors. 

Right-wing ideologue Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO. NAF study co-author Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst. His articles appear in establishment publications.

NAF's report is titled "Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?"

Two weeks after Edward Snowden's first revelations were published, Obama lied saying:

"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but," abroad as well.

NSA director General Keith Alexander repeated the lie claiming:

"information gathered from these programs provided the US government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world."

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R. MI) said:

"Fifty-four times (NSA spying) stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe - saving real lives."

False! According to NAF's analysis, government contentions "about the role that NSA 'bulk' surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading."

Mass NSA surveillance "had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism."

So-called evidence NSA claimed to uncover is easily gotten through conventional investigatory methods.

NAF analyzed 225 instances of alleged post-9/11 terrorism. Only two involved NSA meta-data. 

None were legitimate. Alleged homegrown terrorism is fabricated. So are others abroad. They're fake. NAF's report didn't explain. It said:

"The overall problem for US counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don’t sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques."

On Friday, Obama will address so-called NSA reforms. Last month, his hand-picked advisory committee recommended minor changes. They're too inconsequential to matter.

They legitimized lawless spying. They ignored what federal Judge Richard Leon called unconstitutional. They're "almost Orwellian," he said.

Expect Obama to rubber-stamp continuity. He'll maintain business as usual. He'll stress balancing civil liberties with protecting national security. He'll lie claiming it.

He'll legitimize what Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kurt Opsahl called "heinous." 

He'll leave NSA's worst lawlessness untouched. He'll whitewash its crimes. He'll lie claiming otherwise.

Last November, the General Assembly addressed privacy rights in the digital age. Over 50 member states co-sponsored a resolution. It supports what's too precious to lose.

On December 18, the 193-member body unanimously approved a resolution titled: "The Right to privacy in the digital age."

It reaffirmed a fundamental human right. No one should be denied the right to privacy. No one should be lawlessly spied on. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the General Assembly's resolution "one small step for privacy, one giant leap against surveillance."

Obama stacked his so-called Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies with longstanding Washington insiders.

A previous article discussed them. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) head James Clapper supervised. He's an acknowledged perjurer. He's complicit in NSA crimes.

On December 12, Obama's committee released its report. It's titled "Liberty and Security in a Changing World." Its handpicked members included:

  • former acting CIA head Michael Morell;

  • former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism Richard Clarke;

  • former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein; Francis Boyle calls him a neocon;

  • Democrat party connected/political advocacy group Center for American Progress member Peter Swire; and

  • University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone. 

Forty recommendations were made. They stopped well short of what's needed. They legitimized mass surveillance.

They ignored what's most important. Constitutional issues were unaddressed. Mass surveillance is illegal. It's unacceptable everywhere.

It's unrelated to alleged terrorism. It's police state ruthlessness writ large. It's Obama's war on freedom. 

He promised no warrantless spying. Straightaway he authorized it. His explanation fell short and then some. He said:

"When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any commitment I made: number one to keep the American people safe, and number two to uphold the Constitution."

Americans are less safe than ever. Freedom is disappearing in plain sight. Obama's done more to subvert constitutional law than any previous president. 

He made freedom a four-letter word. He claimed:

"You can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience."  

"We're going to have to make some choices as a society. I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."

He lied saying mass surveillance "help(s) prevent terrorist attacks." None whatever exist.

He lied again calling NSA spying "modest encroachments on privacy." It's sweeping, pervasive and lawless. It's unrelated to alleged terrorism.

Obama wants Americans to trust him. Why anyone would, they'll have to explain. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's done more to destroy freedom than any of his predecessors.

He wants it eliminated altogether. He's a serial liar. Nothing he says has credibility. He lied claiming:

"When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls."

"They are not looking at people's names and they are not looking at content." Permission to do so, he claimed, requires "go(ing) back to a federal judge just like (for) a criminal investigation."

"With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States."

False! Obama authorized sweeping domestic spying. He did so unconstitutionally. He institutionalized it. It's ongoing daily. It's warrantless. 

No one escapes NSA's spying eye. Everything communicated electronically is vulnerable. It's fair game.

NSA's mandate is "Get it all." Phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications are secretly collected. They're gotten without court authorization.

Probable cause isn't needed. Major telecom and Internet companies cooperate. They do so willingly.

All three branches of government are involved. They're complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Expect nothing ahead to change. Expect worse with increasingly sophisticated NSA technology. 

Cyberwar on freedom is official US policy. NSA is Big Brother writ large. Privacy no longer exists. Obama's waging war on freedom. It's vanishing in plain sight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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Legislating Tyranny

Legislating Tyranny

by Stephen Lendman

Police state lawlessness reflects official US policy. Numerous examples explain. Congress opposes fundamental freedoms. 

It terrorizes most people. So do rogue US administrations. Washington is more ruthless today than ever. 

Waging war on humanity is much worse. It's ongoing globally. It's reflected in congressional legislation. 

Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF - September 2001) approved open-ended permanent wars. They rage out-of-control. They do so at home and abroad.

The FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) targets freedom. It prioritizes militarism and permanent wars. It authorizes over $600 billion for global belligerence, mass killing and destruction. 

It's a portion of what America spends overall. Around $1.5 trillion or more annually goes for domestic and foreign militarism. 

It's authorized when America's only enemies are ones it invents. It's on top of trillions of dollars of Pentagon waste, fraud and grand theft.

In December 2006, George Bush signed FY 2007 NDAA into law. Included were hidden sections 1076 and 333. Media scoundrels ignored them.

They amended the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. They prohibited using federal and National Guard troops for law enforcement. 

They did so except as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress in times of insurrection or other national emergency. 

Presidents can now claim emergency powers. They can declare martial law unilaterally. They can suspend the Constitution.

They can do it on alleged "national security" grounds. They can deploy federal and/or National Guard troops on US streets.

They can do it to suppress whatever is called disorder. It includes lawful peaceful protests. America's First Amendment permits them.

Congress and Bush acted unconstitutionally. They did numerous times throughout Bush's tenure. Things got worse under Obama.

On May 21, 2009, he addressed national security and civil liberties issues. 

He lied saying his "single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe." He's gone all out to harm them. 

He falsely claimed Al Qaeda "is actively planning to attack us again (and) this threat will be with us for a long time..." 

Uncharged detainees pose no threat whatever to America. Obama maliciously claimed otherwise. He offered no evidence proving it. There is none. Innocent victims rot in prison on his say. Others are at risk.

He said those "who cannot be prosecuted" will be held indefinitely without trial. Indefinitely means potentially forever.

Doing so violates America's 8th Amendment. It prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. It doesn't matter. Core rule of law principles are null and void. Diktat power replaced them.

In December 2011, Obama signed FY 2012 NDAA into law. For the first time in US history, it codified indefinite military detentions. 

It authorized US presidents to order America's military to capture, arrest, and indefinitely detain anyone anywhere in the world. US citizens are as vulnerable as others.

Indefinite detentions remain the law of the land. FY 2013 NDAA reaffirmed them. So did FY 2014 NDAA. 

Detaining people based on uncorroborated suspicions or none at all remains official US policy.

It has strong bipartisan support. It violates core democratic freedoms. They're vanishing in plain sight. Militarized injustice replaced them.

Presidents have unchecked authority. No one anywhere is safe. Abuse of power replaced rule of law protections. Tyranny is official US policy.

Foreign nationals and US citizens are vulnerable. They can be arrested for any reason or none at all. They can be indefinitely detained in military prisons. 

In September 2012, Southern District of New York federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest blocked Obama's indefinite detention law. 

She called it "facially unconstitutional: it impermissibly impinges on guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient definitional structure and protections to meet the requirements of due process."

"If, following issuance of this permanent injunctive relief, the government detains individuals under theories of 'substantially or directly supporting' associated forces, as set forth in" NDAA's section 1021, "and a contempt action is brought before this court, the government will bear a heavy burden indeed," she added.

Section 1021 states in part:

"Congress affirms that the authority of the president to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b) ) pending disposition under the law of war."

"Covered persons" are defined as:

Anyone "who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces."

In July 2013, the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Forrest's ruling. A three-judge panel did so unanimously. 

They endorsed uncharged, untried indefinite detentions. Imprisoning US citizens and foreign nationals based on hearsay or nothing at all remains the law of the land.

FY 2014 NDAA reaffirmed what demands prohibiting. On December 26, Obama signed it into law. It went further than earlier. Enhancement of Capacity of the United States Government to Analyze Captured Records is authorized.

Doing so establishes new intelligence collecting. It enhances federal power. Indefinite surveillance is authorized.

The defense secretary is empowered to "establish a center to be known as the 'Conflict Records Research Center.' "

It's tasked with compiling "digital research database (information) including translations, and to facilitate research and analysis of records captured from countries, organizations, and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States."

It'll conduct research and analysis to "increase the understanding of factors related to international relations, counterterrorism, and conventional and unconventional warfare, and ultimately enhance national security."

The defense secretary is authorized to create an information exchange cooperatively with the director of national intelligence (DNI).

Doing so requires involvement of all 16 US intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence related operations. 

Focus is on so-called "captured records." They're defined as "a document, audio file, video file, or other material captured during combat operations from countries, organizations, or individuals, now or once hostile to the United States."

They potentially include telecommunications, emails, text messages, web sites visited, medical history, financial records, and related information.

Ordinary information can be maliciously manipulated. It can be held against us. Potentially it becomes incriminating evidence. 

It does if prosecutors say so. They're experts at creating indictments out of whole cloth. Truth or fiction doesn't matter.

Freedom is too precious to lose. More than ever it hangs by a thread. Constitutional protections don't help.

Alleged hostility is undefined. It's whatever Washington so designates. It includes nations, organizations and individuals. Anyone for any reason or none at all becomes a potential hostile entity.

FY 2014 NDAA sustains America's war on terror. It continues waging war on humanity. It jeopardizes everyone everywhere. It gives presidents more diktat power.

It further compromises fundamental freedoms. It makes everyone potential enemies. It pronounces guilt by accusation. It turns planet earth into a battleground. It does so unconstitutionally.

On January 29, 1788, James Madison commented in The Federalist No. 46 (The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared).

He said the way to combat federal overreach is by refusing "to cooperate with officers of the Union."

Resisting tyranny is a longstanding US tradition. Jefferson called doing so "obedience to God."

John Locke said when governments fail people their "trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the Power (shall) devolve into the hands of those that gave it…"

America's Declaration of Independence affirmed abolishing governments abusing their just powers derived from the consent of the governed.

Civil disobedience more than ever is essential. Henry David Thoreau affirmed "the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.

America today is more unjust than ever in modern times. Arguably it Resistance is a national imperative. The alternative is full-blown tyranny. It's what no one should accept anywhere anytime.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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A&E, Duck Dynasty, Free Speech And The Right to Religious Beliefs – CONTACT Information

By Susan Duclos

The news that broke yesterday was that Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the incredibly popular A&E show, expressed his opinion on homosexuality, then A&E suspended him from the show that averages over 14 million viewers, for said opinion.

Below the commentary will be the A&

E company information, along with a page where you can leave a comment, and contact information as well as information on their parent company Hearst.

When did having a belief, based in one's religion and using the constitutional right of free speech to give that opinion become a punishable offense?

His GQ quotes:

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

 "It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

Robertson also said and this is what most people are ignoring:

We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus—whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"

Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, everyone should be standing up for his right to express them... it is a basic constitutional right!

Many didn't agree with him, many do not share his belief, but how does their right not to have their feelings hurt become more important than his free speech rights and freedom of religion?

I see nowhere in the constitution where a person has the right not to have their feelings hrut or where because someone's words offended them they have the right to punish them.


A&E's statement shown below:

We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Well, I can tell A&E that they have 14 million viewers and countless free speech proponents, along with an untold number of people who believe in freedom of religion, "extremely disappointed" in their stance all in the name of political correctness.



Customer Service page where you can add a comment (many already are) found HERE.

Key Executives For A&

E Television Networks, LLC

Chief Executive Officer and President
President of A&E and BIO Channel
President of the History Channel
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Senior Vice President of Digital Media

235 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
United States
Phone: 212-210-1400
Fax: 212-907-9497
Hearst is the parent company behind the network, so you can give them a call with a problem, concern or compliment about A&E customer service.
  • Hearst Television: 1-212-887-6800

[UPDATE] Hearst Corporation's number is (212) 649-2000.

Hearst also claims on a phone call that Disney owns half of A&E Television, so the Disney contact number is 818-460-7477

The Walt Disney Company contact form to leave  message on is found HERE.

When calling Hearst, it seems they deny involvement with A&E, but go to the Hearst website at the bottom and click the "more Hearst sites," the A&E website is listed clearly. Also Hearst's own contact page gives the same number and also, BONUS, offers a contact form.

Cross posted at Before It's News

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by Stephen Lendman

On December 16, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon issued a damning 68-page ruling. He called NSA spying unconstitutional. It's "almost Orwellian," he said.

"The threshold issue is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephone metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes, and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets."

"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary' invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval." 

"Surely, such a program infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment." 

It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Doing so violates core constitutional law. Mass NSA surveillance does it writ large.

It has nothing to do with national security. America's only enemies are ones it invents. NSA spies globally. It watches everyone. It monitors allies. It's about control. 

It's for economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It's institutionalized. It's unconstitutional. It doesn't matter. Nothing before was done to stop it. Judge Leon took an important first step

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer commented on his ruling, saying:

"This is a strongly worded and carefully reasoned decision that ultimately concludes, absolutely correctly, that the NSA’s call-tracking program can’t be squared with the Constitution."

"As Judge Leon notes, the government's defense of the program has relied almost entirely on a 30-year-old case that involved surveillance of a specific criminal suspect over a period of two days."

"The idea that this narrow precedent authorizes the government to place every American under permanent surveillance is preposterous."

"We hope that Judge Leon's thoughtful ruling will inform the larger conversation about the proper scope of government surveillance powers, especially the debate in Congress about the reforms necessary to bring the NSA's surveillance activities back in line with the Constitution."

"The bipartisan USA Freedom Act, which has 130 co-sponsors already, would address the constitutional problems that Judge Leon identifies."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls the proposed measure "a substantial improvement to America's laws regarding mass surveillance."

At the same time, it's "a floor, not a ceiling." It addresses a small portion of NSA abuses and "overreaching government secrecy."

It leaves important unfinished business. EFF endorses passage. Lots more needs to be done, it stressed.

Judge Leon's ruling marks the first successful NSA legal challenge. Conservative activist Larry Klayman and Charles Strange filed suit (Klayman v. Obama). Strange's son was killed in Afghanistan.

Months earlier, ACLU filed a similar suit (ACLU v. Clapper). It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying: 

"Because the NSA's aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment." 

"The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity."

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It's known as the "business records" provision. 

It permits collecting "any tangible thing...relevant" to alleged foreign intelligence or terrorism related investigations. It way oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy. 

It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what's happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.

"Whatever Section 215's 'relevance' requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans," said ACLU.

On November 22, US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge William Pauley heard arguments. He hasn't yet ruled.

Judge Leon granted plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. He ordered the Obama administration to stop collecting their phone data. 

He ruled whatever it currently has must be destroyed. At the same time, he stayed his ruling. He cited potential "significant national security interests at stake."

He gave Obama's Justice Department time to appeal. He said his decision applies only to plaintiffs. It doesn't affect NSA's mass data-mining.

At the same time, his ruling is an important first step. For years, he said, constitutional issues were adjudicated under "a cloak of secrecy."

He referred to the unaccountable FISA court. It's virtually rubber-stamp. It mocks judicial fairness and legitimacy. 

Judge Leon's ruling is an important step in the right direction. "While Congress has great latitude to create statutory scheme like FISA," he said, "it may not hang a cloak of secrecy over the Constitution."

EFF called his decision "historic." Ruling for Klayman and Strange symbolically condemns mass surveillance.

Obama's Justice Department relies on two Supreme Court rulings. In Miller v. United States (1976), the Supreme Court ruled:

"The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third-party and conveyed by him to Government authorities, even if it is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third-party will not be betrayed." 

The Court added that information revealed to another source "takes the risk (of being) conveyed" to someone else.

In Smith v. Maryland (1979), the High Court extended the so-called third party doctrine to telephone communications. 

It said in "expos(ing) that information" to phone company equipment, individuals "assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers dialed."

In US v. Jones (2012), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged the need to update Fourth Amendment protections, saying:

"People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers, the URLS that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers, and the books, groceries and medications they purchase to online retailers." 

"I would not assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection."

In United States v. US District Court (the so-called Keith case) (1972), a unanimous Supreme Court ruling upheld Fourth Amendment protections in cases involving domestic surveillance targeting a domestic threat.

Judge Leon addressed Smith v. Maryland, saying:

"The question before me is not the same question that the Supreme Court confronted in Smith." It's "a far cry from the issue in this case."

He differentiated between then and now. Obtaining limited information on one person is vastly different from daily mass surveillance. He was blunt stating:

"This short-term, forward looking (as opposed to historical), and highly-limited data collection is what the Supreme Court was assessing in Smith." 

"The NSA telephony metadata program, on the other hand, involves the creation and maintenance of a historical database containing five years' worth of data." 

"And I might add, there is the very real prospect that the program will go on for as long as America is combatting terrorism, which realistically could be forever."

"Admittedly, what metadata is has not changed over time." 

"As in Smith, the types of information at issue in this case are relatively limited: phone numbers dialed, date, time, and the like." 

"But the ubiquity of phones has dramatically altered the quantity of the information that is now available, and more importantly, what that information can tell the Government about people’s lives."

"Put simply, people in 2013 have an entirely different relationship with phones than they did thirty-four years ago."

"Whereas some may assume that these cultural changes will force people to 'reconcile themselves' to an 'inevitable' 'diminution of privacy that new technology entails,' I think it is more likely that these trends have resulted in a greater expectation of privacy and a recognition that society views that expectation as reasonable."

In other words, privacy intrusions today are simple. They happen with digital age technology ease. Greater diligence is required to protect rights too important to lose. 

Courts and Congress are obligated to do so. Judge Leon's ruling represents an important first step in the right direction. Lots more needs to be done.

A Final Comment

Edward Snowden issued a statement. He praised Judge Leon's ruling, saying:

"I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts." 

"Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans. rights. It is the first of many."

Separately, he offered to help Brazil investigate harmful NSA spying. He'll do it in return for permanent political asylum. He said so in an open letter to all Brazilians. Folha de S. Paulo published it. 

It's a Brazilian daily broadsheet. Snowden in part said:

"I've expressed my willingness to assist where it's appropriate and legal, but, unfortunately, the US government has been working hard to limit my ability to do so." 

"Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak out."

Brazilian senators asked Snowden for help. He's willing to provide it.

"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded." 

"That's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under."

It remains to be seen if Brazil takes him up on his offer. Snowden urged it, concluding:

"If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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