Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Sunday that he will be discussing possible legal action against Arab members of the Knesset with the attorney general after they visited the families of Palestinians killed by Israel to discuss the release of their bodies for burial. The Israeli prime minister described the MKs as “terrorism advocates” whom he wishes to have removed from parliament.
“Members of the Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what steps can be taken against them.” On Sunday, he submitted a formal complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against Arab Joint List MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoubi and Basil Ghattas, all members of the Balad bloc.
Also on Thursday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “It is inconceivable that at a time when innocent citizens are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, these MKs go to console the families of the murderers and with unbelievable insolence dare to bring the families’ demands to the government.” He pointed out that his call for Israelis to lodge complaints against the MKs was met with a broad response; 200 have been received.
The MKs in question responded forcefully to the criticism: “As soon as Netanyahu understood that there was no legal or criminal offence involved in our meeting, he tried to turn the empty hype into a political gain for himself by submitting a draft bill to remove the Arab minority’s political representatives.” The prime minister, they added, knows very well that the meeting was intended to discuss the release of the bodies.
A private service that banks, employers, and government agencies use to screen customers and clients is blacklisting thousands of people as terrorists, sometimes based on nothing more than inaccurate and bigoted materials online, according to a VICE News article.
Thomson-Reuters’ “World-Check” database slaps a “terrorism” designation — and a picture of a red balaclava — on the profiles of individuals, charities, and religious institutions. Many of them are Muslims who have never been charged or even accused of terrorism-related offenses. The results are far-reaching and can include closure of the blacklisted individuals’ bank accounts, inability to get a job, or denial of government benefits. (And World-Check isn’t the only company chasing billions of dollars in the risk mitigation industry.)
Blacklisting by private companies isn’t new. Banks and insurance companies have long “redlined” neighborhoods in order to deny services to racial or ethnic minorities. The entertainment industry used the infamous Hollywood blacklist to deny employment to actors, writers, and directors with suspected communist sympathies.
World-Check, however, appears particularly zealous in its effort to cash in on widespread fear of terrorism and a regulatory system that raises the stakes for banks and other companies desperate not to be accused of financing terrorism. Its confidential database includes more than 2.7 million individuals and entities, over 93,000 of whom it has designated as terrorists. According to a World-Check fact sheet, the company contracts with “49 of the world’s 50 top banks,” over 300 government agencies, and “9 of the top ten global law firms.” The Department of Homeland Security uses World-Check, as does HireRight, an employment screening company that conducts background checks for more than 40,000 organizations in 240 countries.
This kind of blacklisting for profit raises serious concerns about discrimination and the lack of meaningful appeal process that parallel our longstanding criticisms of government blacklisting. Just as the U.S. government uses a low, exception-ridden standard for its master watchlist — indeed, a single Facebook post or Tweet can provide all the “reasonable suspicion” necessary to watchlist someone — World-Check apparently labels people “terrorists” based solely on allegations from anti-Muslim zealots like Steve Emerson, who, according to the Center for American Progress, has “a history of fabricating evidence that perpetuates conspiracies of radical Islam infiltrating America through Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations.”
Like the government, which blacklists people even after acquittal or closure of a terrorism-related investigation, World-Check uses its “terrorism” designation for people who have not been charged with a crime but may be accused, questioned, or investigated for terrorism offenses — a vast body of innocent people. And World-Check apparently shares the government’s lack of concern about stale information. Just as the government has used decades-old, unproven allegations to place some of our clients on the No Fly List, VICE reports that World-Check has failed to update some of its terror-designated profiles for as long as eight years.
Both World-Check and government watchlists also impose severe consequences on the people they label as terrorists. Inclusion on a government watchlist can cause detention at the border, harassment, and inability to travel by air or sea — to say nothing of the shame and fear that comes with being a terrorism suspect. World-Check’s terrorism designation can prompt banks to close people’s accounts, convince prospective employers not to hire a candidate, and cause funding sources for organizations or contractors to dry up.
There’s even the alarming possibility of a growing feedback loop between government and private blacklists. The Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Framework for Intelligence, a massive data-mining project, uses “commercial data aggregators” like World-Check to analyze “individuals of interest” and identify “non-obvious relationships” with others. That not only broadens the government’s lens of suspicion, but it could also intensify the focus on affected individuals, potentially leading to more and more blacklisting — both public and private.
World-Check is similar to the government in another way that compounds all the other problems: lack of a meaningful process to challenge inclusion. The government has steadfastly refused to inform people why they’ve been watchlisted and stigmatized as terrorists, denying them a viable way to challenge wrongful watchlisting and clear their names. People erroneously blacklisted by the government can now turn up in private blacklists like World-Check’s. And World-Check, too, offers no means of redress. In fact, VICE reports that senior World-Check employees have never seen someone successfully challenge inclusion in its database.
The government is already aware of the unfairness and discrimination that databases like World-Check can cause. In a May 2014 report on big data, the Executive Office of the President wrote, “Because of this lack of transparency and accountability, individuals have little recourse to understand or contest the information that has been gathered about them or what that data, after analysis, suggests.”
It shouldn’t be a controversial proposition that any information private companies sell to others that could damage people’s lives and reputations must be accurate, timely, and fairly contestable. And the government must apply those same principles to itself.
What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may loose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon.
On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left.
I have earned about 4-5 years good time that no one seems to want to recognize. It doesn’t count, I guess? And when I was indicted the average time served on a life sentence before being given parole was 7 years. So that means I’ve served nearly 6 life sentences and I should have been released on parole a very long time ago. Then there’s mandatory release after serving 30 years. I’m 10 years past that. The government isn’t supposed to change the laws to keep you in prison — EXCEPT if you’re Leonard Peltier, it seems.
Now, I’m told I’ll be kept at USP Coleman I until 2017 when they’ll decide if I can go to a medium security facility — or NOT. But, check this out, I have been classified as a medium security prisoner now for at least 15 years, and BOP regulations say elders shall be kept in a less dangerous facility/environment. But NOT if you’re Leonard Peltier, I guess.
As you’ll remember, the history of my bid for clemency is long. My first app was with Jimmy Carter. He denied it. Ronald Reagan promised President Mikhail Gorbachev that he would release me if the Soviet Union released a prisoner, but Reagan reneged. George H.W. Bush did nothing. The next app was with Bill Clinton. He left office without taking action even though the Pardon Attorney did an 11-month investigation (it usually takes 9 months) and we were told she had recommended clemency. George W. Bush denied that petition in 2009. And in all of the applications for clemency, the FBI has interfered with an executive order. That’s illegal as hell!
Today, I’m facing another dilemma — an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It’s the size of an AAA battery. The doctor told me if it bursts, I can bleed to death. It’s also close to my spine and I could end up paralyzed. The good news is that it’s treatable and the operation has a 96-98 percent success rate. BUT I’m in a max security prison. We don’t get sent for treatment until it is terminal.
As President Obama completes the final year of his term, I hope that he will continue to fight to fulfill his promises, and further the progress his Administration has made towards working in partnership with First Peoples. It gives me hope that this President has worked hard to affirm the trust relationship with the Tribal Nations. With YOUR encouragement, I believe Obama will have the courage and conviction to commute my sentence and send me home to my family.
Looking back on the 40 years of efforts on my behalf, I am overwhelmed and humbled. I would like to say thank you to all the supporters who have believed in me over the years. Some of you have been supporters since the beginning. You made sure I had books to read and commissary funds to buy what I may need to be as comfortable as one can be in this place. You made donations to the defense committee so we could continue fighting for my freedom, too. You all worked hard — are still working hard — to spread the word about what is now being called the most outrageous conviction in U.S. history. There are good-hearted people in this world, and you’re among them. I’m sorry I cannot keep up with answering all of your letters. But thanks for the love you have shown me. Without it, I could never have made it this long. I’m sure of it.
I believe that my incarceration, the constitutional violations in my case, and the government misconduct in prosecuting my case are issues far more important than just my life or freedom. I feel that each of you who have fought for my freedom have been a part of the greater struggle of Native Peoples — for Treaty rights, sovereignty, and our very survival. If I should be called home, please don’t give up on our struggle.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse…
Donations can be made on Leonard’s behalf to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 24, Hillsboro, OR 97123.
Israel’s new chief military censor has demanded that popular bloggers writing on security-related issues submit their posts to her before publication. Failure to do so will be considered a crime. Critics say the move is Orwellian.
The expansion of the IDF’s censorship scope was first revealed by one of the bloggers targeted, Yossi Gurvitz. He runs a Facebook page called “George’s Friends” – a title alluding to writer George Orwell – which has over 10,000 subscribers.
This week he tweeted that the IDF’s former spokesperson, who was appointed chief censor less than a year ago, has ordered that he submit his posts for prepublication review.
The message was sent from her private Facebook account, which has no status updates of its own, and Gutvitz initially thought it was a prank, he told the Calcalist business daily. He said he had no intention to obey the order and is reviewing his legal options.
Some 30 Israeli bloggers received similar notifications from the IDF, according to the Times of Israel. Many people online and some Israeli politicians have criticized the expansion of censorship.
“Under the cover of darkness, there is no limit to the expansion of Big Brother,” Ilan Gilon, a member of the Israeli parliament from the left-wing Meretz party, told Calcalist. “It recalls [the dystopian novel] ‘1984.’ I’ve asked for a debate to understand what the boundaries of censorship are and how far they can go. Am I also subject to censorship when I talk to you? This is totally unacceptable.”
The military censor is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence. It has the authority to prevent any information being published by the media and can even shut down outlets without any explanation – and has a record of doing so. This power can only be used during a state of emergency, but the Jewish state has been living under one since its establishment in 1948.
Previously censorship was applied only to established media outlets, book publishers and organizations such as emergency services and front-line community councils. Some blogger posts were subjected to military censorship in the past, but only after publication.
The move may be blowback from the greater recognition of blogging in Israel as a form of media. Since 2012, Israel’s Government Press Office has been issuing bloggers with press cards that give them the same kind of status as journalists employed by recognized media outlets.
“Now, after they managed to make one government office recognize them as journalists, they can only blame themselves when other officials accept them as such too. Journalists don’t only have rights, but also duties, and in Israel one of these duties is working with the censors,” a lawyer who specializes in media regulations told the Haaretz newspaper.
Many Israeli activists, however, see it as a sign of creeping assaults on civil liberties under the conservative cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last month, a censorship scandal shook the country after the Education Ministry banned high schools from teaching an award-winning novel about a love affair between a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man.
The ministry explained that depiction of “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threaten the separate identity of each sector.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett defended the move, saying that exposing high school students to a book that “depicts IDF soldiers as sadistic war criminals” was not a national priority.
A video showing mixed Jewish-Arab couples kissing, which was posted online in a protest against the ban, mysteriously disappeared from Facebook after going viral.
Even Amnesty International, which is cautious about cases it champions, has taken up Peltier’s cause, questioning the fairness of his trial and backs assertions that political considerations likely factored into his treatment by the U.S. justice system.
So why would U.S. authorities single out Peltier and seek his unjust imprisonment?
Peltier was a leading figure within the American Indian Movement (AIM) during its peak in political activity in the 1970’s. Active in defense of his people’s interests and lands from a young age, Peltier rose quickly to occupy a prominent role within the movement.
In 1975, responding to a request by local indigenous people from the Pine Ridge reservation, Peltier traveled to South Dakota. There he worked with the community helping provide security amidst political tensions and violence between rival groups on the reservation.
FBI officials, on a deliberate mission to weaken or destroy leftist organizations, believed that AIM activists were conspiring at Pine Ridge.
“It was not an armed military camp hatching terrorist plans … It was a spiritual camp,” said Peltier.
On June 26, 1975 a massive shootout erupted, which included participants from AIM, the FBI, and paramilitaries hired by the tribal chairman who was opposed to AIM.
When the bullets stopped, two FBI agents and one indigenous man by the name of Joseph Stuntz were dead.
Despite the participation of dozens of people, only AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrell Butler, and Leonard Peltier were brought up on charges related to the deaths of the FBI officials. Robideau and Butler were arrested and charged but ultimately acquitted.
Peltier, fearing that he would not receive a fair trial, fled to Canada. He would eventually be extradited back to the United States based on the testimony of Myrtle Poor Bear, who said she saw Peltier shoot the agents.
Ms. Poor Bear would eventually recant her statements. It is alleged she was not even present at Pine Ridge on the day in question.
Peltier’s trial was held in North Dakota in 1977 and was presided over by Judge Paul Benson, an appointee of conservative President Richard Nixon.
Myrtle Poor Bear was not allowed to testify and submit to the jury that her previous statements were false. Other witnesses would later claim the FBI coerced them into testifying against Peltier. Key evidence that helped exonerate Robideau and Butler was not allowed to be introduced.
The jury found Peltier guilty and he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
It would later be revealed that the prosecution hid thousands of documents related to the case, documents that could have helped prove Peltier’s innocence.
Despite all this, Peltier was denied a retrial in 1986. The judge who presided over that trial, Gerald Heaney, even expressed concern about the administration of justice
He has also been consistently denied parole, most recently in 2009, due to his insistence that he is innocent.
Peltier is now 71-years-old and is not eligible for another parole hearing until 2024. This is why his supporters, who include many notable figures and celebrities, have called for U.S. authorities to release him on humanitarian grounds. Other have specifically called on President Obama to commute Peltier’s sentence before the end of his term.
NLRB Finds Employer Rule Prohibiting Audio and Image Recording at Work Violates Employees’ Labor Rights
The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) recently held that employees can take photos and record conversations in the workplace to safeguard their labor rights, setting an important precedent in the workplace in an era of smartphones and social media.
The case took issue with Whole Foods’ rule prohibiting employees from taking photos or recording conversations in a store without a managers’ prior permission or unless all parties involved give consent. The Board found the rule unlawful because of its potential chilling effect on employees’ Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 rights include the right to take action together with other workers for the purpose of collective bargaining or protecting each other’s work place rights.
The Board made it clear workers have the right to use smartphones or other recording devices in their workplace to:
- document unsafe working conditions or hazards,
- record uneven application of workplace rules,
- capture evidence to use in employment-relations actions (such as conversations revealing discrimination), and
- record discussions about terms and conditions of employment.
The Board specifically reiterated the concept that photography and audio or video recording is protected in the workplace when done in the context of protected concerted activity or Union activity. Where employees are acting together and for the mutual aid and protection of their coworkers, and no overriding employer interest is present, such conduct is protected by law. Accordingly, the Board ordered Whole Foods to rescind or revise its handbook rules related to recording, and notify employees of this change.
The Board’s ruling is significant given the potential impact of smartphones in the workplace. First, managers’ knowledge of workers’ ability to take photos and record conversations should act as a deterrent to unlawful conduct by management and encourage compliance with the law. Second, when labor laws are broken, workers’ ability to prove and vindicate their rights increases. Third, the ruling signals another potentially powerful organizing tool. For example, workers in an organizing drive can record “captive audience” meetings to reveal a company’s aggressive anti-union tactics and expose the meetings’ true purpose. Lastly, any company with a policy similar to Whole Foods’ policy can now be more easily challenged as to that policy.
State laws on recording may still apply in certain scenarios. For example, California requires that parties to an audio recording or phone conversation must consent to its recording (for more detail, see Cal. Penal Code § 632). Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington have similar consent laws related to recording.
For more information regarding the use of smartphones or other devices in the workplace, contact your labor law counsel.
If you really want a lesson in how the Western popular press works, this is it.
Without question, Germany is the leading power in Europe. ZDF is its state broadcaster and most popular channel.
Together with sister network ARD; German’s are obliged to pay €17.98 per month to fund it.
This week, during a radio event in Berlin, the retired head of ZDF Bonn, Dr Wolfgang Herles, dropped a bombshell. He admitted the network, and others, takes orders from the government on what, and what not, to report.
Now, you’d expect this kind of story to be splashed across the world’s press, wouldn’t you? A former senior management figure acknowledging that his ex-employers work in tandem with the authorities to control the news agenda in such an important country? If such a revelation was made in a ‘developing’ nation, NATO media would be all over it.
The BBC, a carbon copy of ZDF and ARD in Britain, is busy promoting a documentary about a fake Russian invasion of Latvia. Meanwhile, in Germany itself, RT Deutsch and Munich’s Focus appear to be the only two significant outlets tackling the revelations. This in a country where the Dresden region was once known as the “valley of the stupid” because Western TV signals couldn’t reach much of it during the Cold War.
Many people across Europe suspect that most domestic state TV is under fairly direct control of politicians. The BBC, despite its mendacious cultivation of an image of fairness, is a pretty obvious example. It is governed by a Trust, wholly appointed by the Queen on the advice of government ministers of the day. Russia’s most popular station, the First Channel, although partially privately owned, is also administered by state appointees.
What makes Herles’ outburst so significant is his seniority. Before retiring last year, he was a prominent culture editor and presenter. In the 90’s, he hosted his own chat show, ‘Live’, and prior to these ventures, he’d been head of ZDF Bonn. At that time, Bonn was the West German capital. It’s important to understand that ZDF, while available across Germany, is technically owned by the Bundesländer (states).
Thus, Bonn-based Herles would have had far greater understanding of how German politics worked than most in ZDF’s Mainz headquarters, never mind far flung regions.
Turning a blind eye
Since the Cologne sex attacks on New Year’s Eve, there have been strong allegations that German media downplayed, or even ignored, the story. With migrants, predominately Arabic in origin, pouring into the country since last year, highlighting assaults where the alleged perpetrators were of Arab appearance could help turn public opinion against Angela Merkel’s “open-borders” policy. On the other hand, ignoring infractions by newcomers serves to keep Germans ignorant about how Berlin’s scheme could jeopardize their own safety. A lot of people are, understandably, angry about that.
Wolfgang Herles. © Wikipedia
Herles’ admission was prompted by the assertion that ordinary people have lost faith in Germany’s tightly-controlled media. “We have the problem that – now I’m mainly talking about the public [state] media – we have closeness to the government,” he revealed. “Not only because commentary is mainly in line with the grand coalition (CSU, CDU, and SPD), with the spectrum of opinion, but also because we are completely taken in by the agenda laid down by the political class.”
The retired ZDF chief went on to concede that the station took orders on what to broadcast. “The topics about which are reported are laid down by the government,” he confessed. Ironically, the Guardian, with no actual evidence, has prominently published numerous allegations of the Kremlin engaging in this practice. However, it ignores a similar assertion about Germany, which is actually backed up by a credible figure.
Of course, it’s not just the publicly-owned media; their private counterparts are also far from balanced. Bild Zeitung, Germany’s bestselling newspaper, is bound by the charter of its holding company, Axel Springer SE, “to further the unification of Europe.” Moreover, it must “support the Transatlantic Alliance, and solidarity with the United States of America in the common values of free nations.” Even the fairest editor in the world wouldn’t have much leeway under those conditions.
Pan European myopia
As it happens Germany is not alone. Last year, the Times Ireland exposed how Dublin’s state-controlled RTE routinely furnishes questions to government ministers before they appear on air. Incredibly, RTE News, currently helmed by controversial British executive Kevin Bakhurst, responded by attempting to smear The Times.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, the fervently liberal Expressen newspaper this week labeled The Daily Mail ‘racist.’ The British newspaper’s crime? Daring to report facts on the country’s migrant crisis that are precluded in Sweden. Because the domestic media refuse to cover negative stories involving migrants, many Swedes are now forced to access British and Russian media to read news about their country.
Right now, the pro-EU press is struggling to control the narrative. Dismissing rival viewpoints as “propaganda” can only work for so long. Furthermore, turning a blind eye to stories that question EU policy is a tougher proposition in the age of social media.
Last year, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine closed online comment threads on all articles about migration. Last week, The Guardian followed suit, blocking all posts related to immigration, Islam and race.
These moves aren’t a huge surprise. In recent years, journalists and commentators who refuse to fall-in-line with the liberal European consensus have been increasingly barred from the mainstream media. This stands in marked contrast to previous decades in which debate was actively encouraged and opposing views cherished. Maybe Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t far off when he warned:”The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”
Bryan MacDonald is a journalist. He worked in Dublin for many years, for Ireland on Sunday and the Evening Herald.
The exoneration of 333 convicts based on DNA evidence represents a tiny fraction of wrongful convictions, revealing the US justice system’s frequent failure to determine guilt or innocence, the Innocence Project’s Communications Director Paul Cates told Sputnik.
The Michigan registry report described a record 149 exonerations in 2015, of which a record 58 convicts in murder cases were found innocent.
“The DNA exonerations represent the tip of the iceberg,” Cates said when asked about a report released on Wednesday by the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations.
Unlike the registry, which focuses on a broad range of issues such as mistaken identity or coerced confessions, the Innocence Project concentrates only on cases where DNA evidence is available.
While DNA evidence is present in about 10 percent of convictions, Cates said the Innocence Project’s work since 1989 reveals weaknesses that undoubtedly apply to all cases.
For example, he said, errors often involve mistaken identity.
“We know that if mistaken identifications are so prominent in our cases that they have got to be prominent in other cases where there is no DNA evidence,” Cates explained.
More than half of the DNA exonerations involved a defendant who was incorrectly identified, according to the Innocence Project’s website.
The website warns that if just 1 percent of all prisoners are wrongfully convicted, that would mean more than 20,000 innocent people are in prison.
According to a “sensational” article by the Telegraph, the US director of National Intelligence was recently instructed by Congress to “conduct a major review into Russian clandestine funding of European parties over the last decade.” This disclosure – a classic “controlled leak” – is intended to warn disobedient yet popular political entities across Europe to scale back their ambitions to rebalance the roles and weight of their nation states within the European Union. Hungary’s Jobbik, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Italy’s Lega Nord, and France’s Front National are explicitly included in the US “warning list,” while other unnamed “parties” in Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands are being advised that they are “under a US security probe.” Even the new British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is suspected of flirting with the Russians. So, according to the sponsor of the Telegraph’s story, any European politician who dares to question NATO’s eastward expansion, the policy of anti-Russian sanctions, or the current European stance on the Ukrainian conflict is essentially a witting or unwitting tool of “Russia’s hybrid warfare.”
Well, that would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. In fact, any impartial observer would pose some simple questions: Why the hell do US intelligence agencies care about challenges to Europe’s internal security? Aren’t they the same agents who finance, recruit, and control countless political organizations, individuals, and media outlets on the European continent? Why are they so brazenly revealing their dominion over Europe?
A politically correct challenger would argue that the United States saved Europe from the “Communist threat” after the end of WWII, facilitated its speedy economic recovery, and is still safeguarding the continent under its nuclear umbrella. Perhaps. But a review of the historical background should not begin with the Marshall Plan. First of all, that was launched in April 1948. Since the Nazis capitulated in May 1945, a misinformed reader might deduce that the United States had been drafting a massive investment program for Europe for as long as three years, and … he would be wrong. At the Second “Octagon” Quebec Conference in September 1944, President Roosevelt and US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. submitted to the British PM Winston Churchill their Post-Surrender Program for Germany. That strictly confidential document envisaged the partition and complete deindustrialization of the German state. According to the plan, Germany was to be divided into two independent states. Its epicenters of mining and industry, including the Saar Protectorate, the Ruhr Valley, and Upper Silesia were to be internationalized or annexed by France and Poland. Following are a few excerpts:
- The [US] military forces upon entry into [German] industrial areas shall destroy all plants and equipment which cannot be removed immediately.
- No longer than 6 months after the cessation of hostilities, all industrial plants and equipment not destroyed by military action shall either be completely dismantled and removed from the area or completely destroyed.
- All people within the area should be made to understand that this area will not again be allowed to become an industrial area. Accordingly, all people and their families within the area having special skills or technical training should be encouraged to migrate permanently from the area and should be as widely dispersed as possible.
- All German radio stations and newspapers, magazines, weeklies, etc. shall be discontinued until adequate controls are established and an appropriate program formulated.
That was the original postwar recovery program for Germany, known as the Morgenthau Plan. The notorious Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067 (JCS 1067) addressed to the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Occupation Forces in Germany, which was officially issued in April 1945, was fully in line with that document.
Partition of Germany according to Morgenthau Plan, 1944
The Morgenthau Plan very quickly proved to be a strategic mistake. The United States underestimated the ideological and cultural impact the Soviets would have on European societies. Left to their own judgment, American strategists failed to understand the attraction that a socialist system held for the majority of the population of the liberated nations. A vast spectrum of pro-socialist and pro-communist politicians began winning democratic elections and gaining political influence not only in Eastern Europe, but also in Greece, Italy, France, and other European states (Palmiro Togliatti and Maurice Thorez are just a few who could be named here). Thus Washington came to understand that its forced de-industrialization of Europe could result in Soviet-style reindustrialization and eventual Russian dominance of the continent… Therefore the US had to promptly replace the Morgenthau Plan with one named after Secretary of State George Marshall… Over the course of four years it provided Europe with $12 billion USD in credits, donations, leases, etc., for the purpose of buying … American machinery and other goods. Although the plan undoubtedly revived the economies of Europe, its biggest positive effect was on … the US economy itself! Simultaneously a wave of political repression was launched throughout Europe, most notably in Germany.
The media has largely forgotten about a Soviet initiative, proposed in 1950, to withdraw from the GDR and to reunify a neutral, non-aligned, demilitarized Germany within one year of the conclusion of a peace treaty. As a matter of fact, the resolution adopted at the Prague meeting of the foreign ministers of the Soviet Bloc on Oct. 21, 1950 proposed the establishment of an all-German Constituent Council, with equal representation from East and West Germany to prepare for the formation of an “all-German, sovereign, democratic, and peace-loving provisional government.” Needless to say, the US government and West German administration in Bohn strongly opposed the initiative. While a plebiscite on the issue “Are you against the remilitarization of Germany and in favor of the conclusion of a Peace Treaty in 1951?” was announced in both halves of the divided state, that referendum was held and officially acknowledged only in East Germany (with 96% voting “yes”). The authorities in US-controlled West Germany failed to respond in a truly democratic manner. They refused to recognize the preliminary results of the referendum that had been held since February 1951 (of the 6.2 million federal citizens who had taken part by June 1951, 94.4% also voted “yes”) and introduced the draconian cautious Criminal Law Amendment Act (the 1951 Blitzgesetz) on July 11. According to that legislation, anyone guilty of importing prohibited literature, criticizing the government, or having unreported contacts with representatives of the GDR, etc. was to be prosecuted for “state treason,” which was punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. Consequently, between 1951 and 1968, 200,000 charges were brought against 500,000 members of the Communist Party and other left-wing groups in Germany under this law. Ten thousand people were sent to prison, and most of those who were “cleared” of charges never resumed their political activities. Additional legal amendments in 1953 actually abolished the right to freely hold gatherings and demonstrations, and in 1956 the Communist Party of Germany was banned. [More details can be found in Daniel Burkholz’s 2012 documentary Verboten – Verfolgt – Vergessen (Forbidden-Followed-Forgotten. Half a Million Public Enemies), which is surprisingly unavailable on YouTube].
The political repression that occurred in Germany from the 1950s to the 1980s, compared to similar events in other European countries during the same period, is a very taboo topic. Operation Gladio in Italy, the crimes of the regime of the Black Colonels in Greece, and the controversial assassinations of realistic European politicians who openly advocated for historical compromise with the Soviet bloc – such as Italian PM Aldo Moro (1978) and Swedish PM Olof Palme (1986) – all received far more media attention. The revelations made by a former correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Udo Ulfkotte, in his book Gekaufte Journalisten (“Purchased Journalists”) about the mechanism of media control in Germany (remember the Morgenthau Plan?) represent only the tip of the iceberg. The almost complete lack of reaction seen in Berlin after Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the blanket electronic espionage routinely conducted against German leaders by the NSA means that in reality, Germany has acknowledged its loss of sovereignty over its own country and thus has nothing to lose.
So, after taking all these facts into account and rereading the article in the Telegraph, are you still so sure that the United States is truly the guardian of Europe’s sovereignty? Is it not more likely that by using the alleged “Russian threat” to control and harass the political establishment and civil society in Europe, Washington is making headway toward a simple and primitive goal – that of merely keeping its sheep within the fold?
Smyrna, GA — After killing Nicholas Thomas on March 24, 2015, under questionable circumstances at the Goodyear store where he was on the job, Smyrna Police Sgt. Kenneth Owens was cleared of any wrongdoing — and is now being promoted to Lieutenant.
“In a release sent to 11Alive News on Tuesday, the Smyrna Police Department confirmed that Owens is being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant effective Monday, February 15, 2016,” the local NBC affiliate reported; and according to that statement, “Sgt. Owens is eligible and qualified for this position as prescribed by departmental policy.”
Considering the questions still surrounding Thomas’ death, his family — as well as many others in the community and elsewhere — would likely beg to differ.
Thomas was working at the Atlanta Goodyear Service Center, when Owens and several other officers came to serve a warrant for an alleged probation violation by the young father — reportedly over traffic violations. Startled by those officers appearance at his workplace, Thomas reportedly jumped into a customer’s Maserati to flee.
“The suspect drove his car toward officers, putting officers in fear for their lives, at which time the officers fired into the vehicle, shooting the suspect,” said Smyrna Police Sgt. Ed Cason the following day, as 11Alive reported at the time.
However, questions arose when the Cobb County Medical Examiner found the bullet had entered Thomas in his upper right back — hardly the location or entry point one would expect if an officer fired into a vehicle because he thought it would run him over.
“Of all the officers there, only one felt his life was threatened,” said Thomas’ family lawyer Mawuli Davis, as The Free Thought Project previously reported. “Unless a car can travel sideways, I don’t know how you can be in fear for your life.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Cobb County Police Department both asserted the fatal shooting was “justified under the facts and the law.”
That fear of an imminent threat to an officer’s life — the justification for and cause of subsequent no-fault finding in this incident — appear to have been based on Owens’ hypothetical assessment of what Thomas was planning to do.
As Thomas careened around the store’s parking lot, looking for a way out since officers had blocked the only vehicle entry and exit point, Owens and other police jumped out of the way — but he claimed he feared an approaching officer might be struck by the vehicle if Thomas rounded the corner of the store quickly, so he decided to open fire.
Despite these lingering questions surrounding the killing of Thomas, as well as a seemingly loose interpretation of Georgia law, Sgt. Owens will soon be promoted to Lt. Owens — apparently indicating a continuing of the trend of impunity under any circumstances for police in the United States.
And why not? Cops ‘fearing for their lives’ and then killing fleeing motorists seems to be the norm in Police State USA.
Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller made the same assertion when he shot and killed 19-year-old Zachary Hammond over the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Officer Ray Tensing was caught on video killing Sam Dubose in a similar fashion. In September, cellphone footage was released showing police murdering 33-year-old John Barry, a mentally ill man who attempted to flee from police during a breakdown.
One of the most disgusting examples of cops claiming to fear for their lives as cars drive off is the case of Officers Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse, Jr., who, in November, opened fire on a car occupied by 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis, killing him and severely injuring his father.
The governor’s office in Isparta, southwestern Turkey, has reportedly sent a request to all state institutions in the province instructing staff to report cases of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top officials straight to the police.
Insulting the president is considered a crime in Turkey and the punishment can be up to four years in jail.
“According to Articles 299 and 125 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK], an action must be taken for the posts [on social media] including insults against our president and other senior government officials, which have increased lately in direct proportion to the increase in terror activities in our country,” the notification, signed by Isparta Deputy Governor Fevzi Güneş on behalf of Isparta Governor Vahdettin Özkan, stated, Today’s Zaman reported.
The government began its crackdown on Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), outlawed by Ankara, last July. Turkey’s authorities maintain those killed during the security operation in the southeast were all PKK members. According to Turkish human rights groups, however, more than 160 civilians were killed during the government offensive.
President Erdogan has publicly vowed to continue the operation until the area is cleansed of Kurdish militants. Kurds have long been campaigning for the right to self-determination and greater autonomy in Turkey, where they are the largest ethnic minority.
In mid-Januray, Turkey arrested over a dozen academics for signing a declaration denouncing Ankara’s military operations against Kurdish militants. The move came after over 1,200 scholars were under investigation for criticizing the Turkish State. They were accused of allegedly participating in “terrorist propaganda” after signing a declaration condemning military operations against Kurdish rebels in the southeast. Erdogan described the group of academics as “poor excuses for intellectuals.” He insisted human rights violations in the southeast of the country were being carried out by referring to the Kurdish rebels, not by the state.
The day after Erdogan urged prosecutors to investigate academics, who signed the declaration criticizing military action in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), called the Turkish president “a dictator.”
In January, a local Turkish court dismissed Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appeal against Kilicdaroglu. The Turkish president was seeking damages after the opposition party leader called him a “thief.” Erdogan’s lawyers demanded 200,000 Turkish lire ($66,000) in damages, saying this was an “attack on his personal rights.”
On Monday, an Ankara court sentenced another Turkish politician Hüseyin Aygün, a former deputy from the CHP party, to 14 months in prison for “publicly insulting” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Aygün rejected all accusations, Haber Turk reported.
The Republican People’s Party has repeatedly accused the government of using counter-terror laws to persecute journalists, saying 156 were arrested in 2015, with 484 legal actions launched against journalists and 774 fired during the year.
Aygün was sentenced to nine months in jail for “inciting people to enmity or hatred or denigration,” Müslim Sarı, another former CHP deputy, wrote on his Twitter.
“This ruling is clear evidence that there [is] no freedom of thought and expression in Turkey and judicial independence has ended too,” Sarı said in another tweet.
Late last month, a Turkish court sentenced a female teacher to almost a year in prison for making a rude gesture at Erdogan (when he was prime minister) at a political rally in 2014.
“The situation for freedom of expression is at an all-time low,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty’s Turkey researcher, told the Times. “Countless unfair criminal cases have been brought, including under defamation and anti-terrorism laws — even children have been remanded in pre-trial detention,” he said.
The war on encryption waged by the F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies is unnecessary, because the data trails we voluntarily leak allow “Internet of Things” devices and social media networks to track us in ways the government can access.
That’s the short version of what’s in “Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate,” a study published today by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.
The title references the government’s argument that “encrypted communications are creating a ‘going dark’ crisis that will keep them from tracking terrorists and kidnappers,” as David E. Sanger explains in his coverage at the New York Times.
From the Berkman study intro:
In the last year, conversations around surveillance have centered on the use of encryption in communications technologies. The decisions of Apple, Google, and other major providers of communications services and products to enable end-to-end encryption in certain applications, on smartphone operating systems, as well as default encryption of mobile devices, at the same time that terrorist groups seek to use encryption to conceal their communication from surveillance, has fueled this debate.
The U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities view this trend with varying degrees of alarm, alleging that their interception capabilities are “going dark.” As they describe it, companies are increasingly adopting technological architectures that inhibit the government’s ability to obtain access to communications, even in circumstances that satisfy the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements. Encryption is the hallmark of these architectures. Government officials are concerned because, without access to communications, they fear they may not be able to prevent terrorist attacks and investigate and prosecute criminal activity. Their solution is to force companies to maintain access to user communications and data, and provide that access to law enforcement on demand, pursuant to the applicable legal process. However, the private sector has resisted. Critics fear that architectures geared to guarantee such access would compromise the security and privacy of users around the world, while also hurting the economic viability of U.S. companies. They also dispute the degree to which the proposed solutions would truly prevent terrorists and criminals from communicating in mediums resistant to surveillance.
Leading much of the debate on behalf of the U.S. government is the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose leaders have commented on the matter in numerous public statements, speeches, and Congressional testimony throughout 2014 and 2015. After nearly a year of discourse, which included numerous statements critical of the government’s position from former U.S. intelligence officials and security technologists, the White House declared in October 2015 it would not pursue a legislative fix in the near future.
However, this decision has not brought closure. The FBI has since focused its energy on encouraging companies to voluntarily find solutions that address the investigative concerns. Most recently, terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Paris, and elsewhere around the world, along with rising concern about the terrorist group ISIS, have focused increased attention on the issues of surveillance and encryption. These developments have led to renewed calls, including among U.S. Presidential candidates, for the government and private sector to work together on the going dark issue and for the Obama administration to reconsider its position.
You can read the whole report here, it’s offered in PDF.
The “findings” section is chilling. Basically, they’re saying the government won’t have any problem tracking us and surveilling our communications, because we’re freely sharing a lot of very revealing personal data and metadata to third parties, all day, every day, security be damned. “Internet of Things” connected devices, social media, and everywhere else you’re leaking data without encryption? All of those are accessible sources of data for intelligence agencies or law enforcement.
In short, our findings are:• End-to-end encryption and other technological architectures for obscuring user data are unlikely to be adopted ubiquitously by companies, because the majority of businesses that provide communications services rely on access to user data for revenue streams and product functionality, including user data recovery should a password be forgotten.
• Software ecosystems tend to be fragmented. In order for encryption to become both widespread and comprehensive, far more coordination and standardization than currently exists would be required.
• Networked sensors and the Internet of Things are projected to grow substantially, and this has the potential to drastically change surveillance. The still images, video, and audio captured by these devices may enable real-time intercept and recording with after-thefact access. Thus an inability to monitor an encrypted channel could be mitigated by the ability to monitor from afar a person through a different channel.
• Metadata is not encrypted, and the vast majority is likely to remain so. This is data that needs to stay unencrypted in order for the systems to operate: location data from cell phones and other devices, telephone calling records, header information in e-mail, and so on. This information provides an enormous amount of surveillance data that was unavailable before these systems became widespread.
• These trends raise novel questions about how we will protect individual privacy and security in the future. Today’s debate is important, but for all its efforts to take account of technological trends, it is largely taking place without reference to the full picture.
The structure of the study was pretty novel. From the New York Times :
The Harvard study, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, was unusual because it involved technical experts, civil libertarians and officials who are, or have been, on the forefront of counterterrorism. Larry Kramer, the former dean of Stanford Law School, who heads the foundation, noted Friday that until now “the policy debate has been impeded by gaps in trust — chasms, really — between academia, civil society, the private sector and the intelligence community” that have impeded the evolution of a “safe, open and resilient Internet.”
Among the chief authors of the report is Matthew G. Olsen, who was a director of the National Counterterrorism Center under Mr. Obama and a general counsel of the National Security Agency.
Two current senior officials of the N.S.A. — John DeLong, the head of the agency’s Commercial Solutions Center, and Anne Neuberger, the agency’s chief risk officer — are described in the report as “core members” of the group, but did not sign the report because they could not act on behalf of the agency or the United States government in endorsing its conclusions, government officials said.