Kellia’s World – Recommended Reading

Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Archive for March, 2009

US-CERT Cyber Security Alert SA09-088A — Conficker Worm Targets Microsoft Windows Systems

Posted by kelliasworld on March 30, 2009

National Cyber Alert System

Cyber Security Alert SA09-088A

Conficker Worm Targets Microsoft Windows Systems

Original release date: March 29, 2009
Last revised: —
Source: US-CERT

Systems Affected

* Microsoft Windows

Overview

US-CERT is aware of public reports indicating a widespread
infection of the Conficker worm, which can infect a Microsoft
Windows system from a thumb drive, a network share, or directly
across a network if the host is not patched with MS08-067.

Solution

Install updates

The updates to address these vulnerabilities are available on the
Microsoft Update site. We recommend enabling Automatic Updates.

Description

The presence of a Conficker infection may be detected if a user is
unable to surf to the following websites:

* http://www.symantec.com/norton/theme.jsp?themeid=conficker_worm&inid=us_ghp_link_conficker_worm
* http://www.mcafee.com

If a user is unable to reach either of these websites, a Conficker
infection may be indicated (the most current variant of Conficker
interferes with queries for these sites, preventing a user from
visiting them). If a Conficker infection is suspected, the user
should run the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool
and install updates available from the Microsoft Update site.

References

* Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool –

* Microsoft Updates Website –

* US-CERT Technical Cyber Security Alert TA09-088A –

* Virus alert about the Win32/Conficker.B worm –

* The Conficker Worm –

* W32/Conficker.worm –

* Microsoft Automatic Updates –

____________________________________________________________________

The most recent version of this document can be found at:


____________________________________________________________________

Feedback can be directed to US-CERT Technical Staff. Please send
email to with “SA09-088A Feedback VU#827267” in
the subject.
____________________________________________________________________

For instructions on subscribing to or unsubscribing from this
mailing list, visit .
____________________________________________________________________

Produced 2009 by US-CERT, a government organization.

Terms of use:


____________________________________________________________________

Revision History

March 29, 2009: Initial release

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Posted in Internet, The Basics | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Health Care Poll

Posted by kelliasworld on March 29, 2009

Courtesy of Bia Winter and OpEd News

Posted in America, Health Insurance | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Five reasons why Americans won’t resist

Posted by kelliasworld on March 27, 2009

Commentary

By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 27, 2009, 00:10

Protest (American, definitely not a verb): Wait for UFPJ or ANSWER to stage a parade (I mean, demonstration) on a weekend afternoon so no one misses work or school or in any way disrupts the flow of commerce. Don’t make a sign; the organizers will make one for you. March in an orderly fashion, be polite to the occupying army (I mean, cops), and be sure to stay in designated free speech zones. Blame the Republicans. Wear costumes. Make puppets. Exclude anarchists. Hold a candlelight vigil. Sign a petition. Chant. Vote for a Democrat and hope for change. Need I continue?

With the stakes never higher than they are now, why aren’t activists ramping up the pressure and looking beyond tactics that are allowed by those in power?

Here are my five guesses:

1. We are trained to believe that nothing major is wrong. Global warming? Economic meltdown? Epidemics of preventable diseases? Slavery, genocide, ecocide? You name it and we’re ready to downplay it. We’re Americans, goddammit, we’ll figure out a way to fix it. When the going gets tough, we’ll call the experts.

2. We are trained to leave it to experts. Rather than worry our little heads over why more than 100 plant and animal species go extinct each day, we rely on experts. Instead of learning what a “collateralized debt obligation” is and how it contributed to the current economic depression, just let the professionals handle the mess. Besides, such delegation frees up much more time to watch TV and update our Facebook pages.

3. We are trained to embrace nonviolence. All the real heroes would never raise a fist in anger: Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc. Sure, the government and its corporate owners are taking away all our rights and all our money. They’re poisoning our air, water, and food while crafting laws that make prison a looming possibility, but the moment we contemplate anything more than a nonviolent response, we become worse than any of them. Ain’t that right?

4. We feel too damn privileged to risk prison (or worse). The average Gaza resident doesn’t have the luxury of wondering if their resistance could result in arrest and thus perhaps ruin their reputation. The average American? Well, that’s a different story. I can’t defy insane laws designed to squash protest. I might get arrested and that means close proximity to all those scary criminals and it also means hurting my chances of landing a good job and maybe even losing all my respectable friends. I mean, I’m an activist and all but that’s asking way too much. Who do you think I am, Mandela?

5. We’re fuckin’ cowards. Our acquiescence in a disturbingly broad range of areas — access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities, directly funding the Israeli war machine, stomaching the groupthink behind saluting a flag, etc. etc. etc. — appears to have no limits. Americans love to talk the talk about being fearless and tough but when ordered to remove our shoes before going through airport security, it’s “yes sir” all the way.

We know things have passed the proverbial tipping point and that immediate action is 100 percent needed and justified, but we’re far too spineless to do anything that might get us in trouble. Somehow, it’s more terrifying for any of us to face down a cop than it is to contemplate the total destruction of our earthly ecosystem.

If it’s true that action expresses priorities, we American activists aren’t overly concerned about the future.

We now return to our regularly scheduled slate of left-wing articles . . .
Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net .

——–
I think the last effective demonstration in America was Seattle ’99. when the meeting of the World Trade Organization was shut down, and mainstream America finally found out what the WTO was. Yes, these permitted weekend parades, planned months in advance to commemorate an anniversary like the invasion of Iraq, just seem to be so much theater of the absurd. — K.R.

Posted in America, First Amendment | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

More info about H.R. 875 – ‘Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009’

Posted by kelliasworld on March 26, 2009

Since my readers have shown great interest in this bill, here are a few more sources of information.

Read the bill through the Thomas resource of the Library of Congress.

Download a PDF of H.R. 875.

It is a long bill. Here are some tips on what to look for if you don’t have time to read it all. This article also suggests actions you can take.

Find out how to contact your representative at House.gov

BTW, in the Senate, it is called S. 425. Check the status of the Senate bill on Thomas.

Posted in America, Environment, Food | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

President Obama: Hypocrite and Hater on Single Payer Health Care

Posted by kelliasworld on March 26, 2009

Original Article

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“…the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts”

Obama likes to say that the insurance industry employs tens or hundreds of thousands, and we cannot just displace them. That’s hating. But his advisers know perfectly well that single payer health care insurance would create 2.6 million new jobs, after allowing for the 440,000 insurance company jobs it would do away with a fact detailed in the groundbreaking report issued earlier this year by the National Nurses Organizing Committee. Instead, in the spirit of a dishonest hater, Obama has tried to ban from public forums any discussion of the single payer health care option, despite the fact that it has massive support among the people who voted for him. That is hypocrisy.

When the Obama campaign asked for house meetings across the nation on health care, the option suggested most often was indeed single payer. So you didn’t hear much of anything about the outcomes of those meetings. If that’s not dishonest hating on single payer health care it’s hard to imagine what is.

Instead, the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts, which includes “individual mandates” requiring people above a certain income level to purchase private insurance or face a fine, and provides some kind of care at subsidized rates to those with the lowest incomes. A recent study by physicians at Harvard Medical School meticulously exposes the predictable failure of the Massachusetts Plan live up to any of its promises, and explains succinctly why no “individual mandate” which subsidizes private insurance companies should be a model for any national health care plan.

It’s called “Massachusetts’ Plan” A Failed Model for Health Care Reform”, and you can find it online here. In it, Drs. Rachel Narden, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, all of Harvard Medical School deliver a withering assessment of the plan’s failure, and explain why it must not be a model for any national health care plan worthy of the name.

These are the key features of the Massachusetts Plan upon which Obama’s health care plan is modeled.

1. Subsidized private insurance is made available for the poorest at reduced or no cost through a state agency.
2. Unsubsidized private insurance at controlled costs was to be made available for those who made a little more.
3. As with automobile insurance, those not qualifying for subsidized insurance would be fined ($912 a year in 2008, $1,068 in 2009, collected with your state income tax) for failing to purchase insurance.
4. Employers were required to pay $295 a year for each employee they didn’t give health insurance to.
5. To control costs, funds to pay for the program were taken from the existing pool that previously financed “safety net” care for the poor and uninsured, leaving many with fewer options and less care than was available before the “reform.”

But the subsidized health insurance policies available to the poor in Massachusetts often covered fewer services than they were already receiving under previously existing conditions, and the greater the “income” of these poor people, the lower the subsidy and higher the deductibles. Under the Massachusetts Plan, the subsidies vanish altogether when one makes 300% of the ridiculously low Federal Poverty Level — about $31,000 per year.

Despite the fines for persons who fail to buy health insurance under the so-called “individual mandate” plans, many remain uninsured because coverage is simply not affordable.
“…the reform law specifically exempts uninsured families from fines if no affordable private plan is available. About 79,000 Massachusetts uninsured residents received this exemption in 2007, which excused them from fines, but left them uninsured.

“The private insurance plans available through the Commonwealth Choice program can be extremely expensive. According to the Connector website (accessed December 29, 2008 at http://www.mahealthconnector.org) the cheapest plan available to a middle-income 56-year-old now costs $4,872 annually in premiums alone. However, if the policy holder becomes sick, (s)he must pay an additional $2,000 deductible before insurance kicks in. Thereafter the policy holder pays 20% co-insurance (i.e. 20% of all medical bills) up to a maximum of $3,000 annually ($9,872 in total annual costs including premium, deductible and co-insurance). A need for uncovered services (e.g. physical therapy visits beyond the number covered) would drive out-of pocket costs even higher. It is not surprising that many of the state’s uninsured have declined such coverage.”

How can someone making $31,000 a year pay $90 a week in premiums alone, plus $20% of all medical bills up to $3,000 if they get sick? Is calling this “reform” even the least bit honest? Or is it hypocrisy?
The study makes the point again and again that access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care. A full third of every health care dollar is already diverted to private insurance companies. The Massachusetts Plan, and the emerging Obama Plan seem intended to preserve this cut for private insurers, even at the expense of needed care. “…(T)he new inssurance policies that replced the (previous) free care system require co-payments for office visits and prescriptions, which are difficult for many low income patients to pay…” says the study, hence patients suffering from HIV-AIDS and other chronic conditions have had to reduce doctor visits or skip their meds due to the high co-payments that the “reform” required.

The report outlines how the advocates of these private insurance industry endorsed versions of health care reform have lied in state after state where this has been tried — in Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and elsewhere. We encourage our readers to download and read it, at only 18 pages, as an antidote to whatever form of “individual mandate” health plan is finally proposed by the Obama Administration.

Plans of this type have not lowered overall health care costs, either. They provide no incentive to tone down the over-reliance on expensive techniques and specialists, and produce more primary care physicians, the doctors who provide day to day, person to person coverage. Obama’s offer to “let’s computerize medical records” as a cost-saving procedure sounds nice, but falls flat. Most of the unnecessary paperwork is between care givers, hospitals and insurers with a vested interest in saying no to this or that treatment, test, or medicine.

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared we should judge his first term by whether, under his leadership, the nation finally enacted national health care system that takes care of everybody and lowers the cost of health care. Now we are in the middle of a completely foreseeable economic crisis caused in part by many of the people who are advising the president. Single payer health care has come to the fore as a viable means to create 2.6 million new jobs, a proposal that Obama’s advisors neither address nor discuss.

Sixty days into his presidency, the clock is ticking. Lofty rhetoric and lawyerly evasions are giving way to actual policies, many of them deeply disappointing to the people who campaigned and voted for this president. It looks like national health care for everybody is a dream, that if left up to this president and his advisers, will be deferred again. The question is, should we leave it up to them at all?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He is based in Atlanta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
________
We can’t displace all the people who work in the health insurance industry? Sure we can. If businesses weren’t burdened with health insurance costs, maybe they could afford to hire the displaced workers. If not, let those workers RETRAIN, like so many other workers in other industries have been told to do. What is so sacred about the jobs in the health insurance industry? Nothing. Because it’s not the secretaries, data entry clerks and other day-to-day workers Obama really cares about. It’s the fat cat executives with hefty salaries whom he is trying to protect.

As for the argument that people have to buy auto insurance so they should also have to buy health insurance, I say that there are alternatives to driving. If you cannot afford auto insurance, you can take the bus, or train, or bike, or walk, or get a ride from another driver. The alternative to unaffordable health insurance is uninsurance, possibly a fine if you live in Massachusetts, and no care, or lack of timely care, if you are trying to not incur the bills. If an emergency occurs and you are forced to incur the bills, you then face a year or more of financial stress, harassment, collections and ruined credit. — K.R.

Posted in America, Economics, Health Insurance, Obama | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Tomgram: Robert Eshelman, The Other War on Workers

Posted by kelliasworld on March 20, 2009

Original Article on Tom Dispatch

posted 2009-03-19 11:07:12

A.I.G. is, of course, back in the news — and how! Not that it was ever too far off the radar screen. Having received yet one more massive infusion of federal tax dollars, as everyone from here to hell now knows, the insurance giant handed out yet another round of lucrative bonuses. Over the last year, company management has doled out about $1 billion in such payments, roughly half to employees in the financial products subsidiary that concocted the type of high-risk, highly-leveraged deals in derivatives which helped send the company, and Wall Street, and most of the rest of us into steep decline last year.

Bonuses went to 418 employees, 73 “retention bonuses” of $1 million or more each to members of that subsidiary (including 11 who have left the firm) to help “unravel” the deals they created. How’s that for an A.I.G. mea culpa to the taxpayers and the newly unemployed who officially “own” 80% of the company (which might well be 80% of next to nothing)?

Meanwhile, there’s been a drumbeat of headlines about mass layoffs of public employees. In California, more than 26,000 public school teachers were given notice last Friday that they might not have jobs next year. An additional 15,000 school bus drivers, janitors, and administrators might be in the same boat. Unions turned members out across the state for “Pink Slip Friday” protests.

In Michigan, Pontiac’s school board voted to lay off every one of the district’s more than 600 employees. In both cases, officials claim that not all those who received notices will, in fact, be laid off, yet such notifications speak to the enormity of the problem that local and state governments face. Nobody, of course, asks schoolteachers and bus drivers to stay on (with lucrative bonuses) to unravel the crises they created. Oh, maybe that’s because, unlike A.I.G.’s traders, they didn’t do anything wrong.

The insurance giant isn’t the only company feeling its oats in bad times, however. As journalist Robert Eshelman suggests below, while mass layoffs are grabbing headlines — and for good reason — businesses may have opened up a new front in the war on labor, hiding behind horrific economic news the way an advancing army might use a smoke screen.

How big is the problem? Well, we just don’t know. As newspapers continue to disappear or scale back — the Washington Post recently did in its stand-alone business section — the reporters that remain on the economic beat may not be paying enough attention to a war against workers that lurks just below the surface of the headlines. Tom

The Secret War Against American Workers
The Unemployment Story No One Notices
By Robert S. Eshelman

Juanita Borden, 39 and jobless, patiently waits as her r�sum� methodically works its way, line by line, through a fax machine at a state-run job center in downtown Philadelphia. Lying open before her on a round conference table is a neatly organized folder. “This is my r�sum� and everywhere I’ve been faxing to. This is how I keep track of what day I’ve sent them on, so I can call and check back,” she says, leafing through pages of fax cover sheets. “I usually give five business days before I inquire whether or not they’ve received it and whether or not they’re interested.”

Juanita was fired last October, when her employer found out that her driver’s license — a job requirement — had expired. “It was only a matter of twenty-six dollars. I was under the impression that it expired in November of ’08, but it was actually November of ’07, and because I hadn’t been driving I wasn’t aware of it.” The one occasion on which she was required to drive, though, she couldn’t, and that was all her employer needed to fire her for failing to fulfill her employment responsibilities. She has since renewed her license and says with an air of futility, “I’d like to have my job back if they would give it to me.”

She hasn’t been asked back and, despite her persistent efforts, she hasn’t received a single call from a prospective employer either. “The good thing,” she says, remaining remarkably buoyant despite her misfortune, “is that usually when I interview I get the job. So… I’m hoping for an interview soon.” Until then, her carefully managed folder serves as a small measure of control over an otherwise steady drift into poverty and homelessness.

Juanita isn’t the only one at this job center on the precipice of acute need. And she isn’t alone in relating a story about being fired for what would seem to many a frivolous reason. Chris Topher, 25 and making his first visit here, was axed in March of last year. The telecommunications company he had been working for sent him packing when, as he tells it, he installed cable equipment a customer hadn’t ordered. It didn’t matter that the mistake was on the work order Chris was given. “It was the best job I had since I graduated high school and I’ve had a few: Turnpike Commission, working in a Senator’s office. I’ve had some nice jobs, but that one, I enjoyed it the most.”

And there was good reason to enjoy it. Chris pulled down $1,200-1,300 every two weeks in addition to receiving a full benefits package. He thought of contesting his termination, but at the time it looked like a long, uphill battle that he wasn’t eager to take on. It’s a fight that, in hindsight, he thinks he could have won and that his employer probably knew he would win as well. “And that’s why I believe I was approved by my employer for unemployment,” he says.

Under unemployment eligibility requirements, an employer must certify whether an employee committed a “fault” on the job and was therefore terminated. If an employer indicates that no fault was committed and the employee meets several other requirements, including being physically able to work, states grant an unemployment claim. In other words, Chris’s former employer granted him a small concession, while otherwise turning his life upside down amid the worst job market since 1983.

“Unemployment is the pits pretty much,” says Chris, whose unemployment compensation is significantly less than half what he made as a cable installer. Still, he’s better off than Juanita, who has applied for unemployment twice and been denied both times. She is now appealing, but her employer is conceding nothing. In a recent arbitration hearing, Juanita says, her former supervisor claimed that, if she had only told them about her expired license, they would have allowed her renewal time. If only.

Now, Juanita lives with her brother and his wife, but they, too, have financial problems. “My brother is working part time and it’s driving him crazy, because it’s causing money problems between him and his wife,” she explains. “And with me being there,” she hesitates, “…it’s a little constrained.”

Ratcheting Up the Fear

The mainstream media has generally sketched a picture of a labor market in which, under the pressure of an economic meltdown, workers succumb to two types of downsizing. In one, a fierce recession forces businesses, desperate to cut costs in terrible times, to lay off workers. They, in turn, face grim prospects for gainful employment elsewhere. In a kinder, gentler version of the same, employers, desperate to cut costs in terrible times, offer — or sometimes force workers to take — “furloughs,” salary cuts, union give-backs, four-day work weeks, or un-paid holidays rather than axing large numbers of them.

In this case, tough as it may be, workers benefit, retaining at least some of their income, while businesses wait out the recession. In both cases, businesses are largely depicted as unenthusiastic dispensers of pink-slips. Managers and bosses are just facing up to an unpalatable reality and unavoidable pressures imposed on them by the worst economic moment in recent memory.

A visit to a job center is hardly a scientific survey. The experiences of Juanita and Chris, along with those of other unemployed people I spent time with while in Philadelphia, may be purely anecdotal evidence. But they do raise questions about a subject of no small importance, and it’s not one you’re likely to read about in your daily paper — not yet anyway. If a deepening recession weighs down and threatens businesses, some of those businesses are undoubtedly also making convenient use of the times to do things they might have wanted to do, but were unable to do in better conditions.

In some cases, under the guise of “recession” pressure, they may be waging a secret war against their own workers, using even the most innocuous transgressions of work-place rules as the trigger for firings — and so, of course, putting the fear of god into those who remain. In this way, company payrolls are not only being reduced by mass layoffs, but workers are being squeezed for ever greater productivity in return for lower wages, worse hours, and less benefits. The weapon of choice is the specter of unemployment, a kind of death by a thousand (or a million) cuts.

Companies stand to gain a lot these days from such small-scale but decisive actions. After all, they reap a double benefit. Not only do they pare down the size of their payroll, often without needing — as in Juanita’s case — to consent to unemployment compensation, but they also contribute to a climate of intensifying fear. Workers who remain on the job are now not only on edge about lay-offs or scaled-back hours, but also know that a late return from a bathroom or lunch break might mean being shown the door, becoming another member of the legions of unemployed — now at 12.5 million and rising fast.

This dynamic is, of course, hardly new. Countless critics of working conditions have written about it since the dawn of the industrial age. But at the moment, even as the latest unemployment figures make screaming headlines, this is a subject that seldom comes up. Consider, though, that in December, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, settled 63 outstanding class-action lawsuits that alleged massive wage and hours violations. Fearing termination, Wal-Mart workers, according to their testimony in the lawsuits, labored through lunch breaks and past their scheduled hours for just above minimum wage pay, with little hope of getting enough hours to qualify for the company’s health benefits.

As a condition of the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay out as much as $640 million to those workers. If corporations were able to exert such coercive power when the unemployment rate was around 5%, what can they do in a job market in which 14.8% of the population can’t find adequate work?

In fact, the world’s largest retailer is one of the few American corporations doing well in dark times. While retail sales slid almost everywhere, the company’s same-store sales went up 5.1% in February (when compared with February 2008 sales). Yet, in that same month, it announced a move to “realign its corporate structure and reduce costs.” It cut 700 to 800 jobs at its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club home offices, in effect acting no differently than any of the companies being battered by the deepening recession.

Free-Firing Zone

Rodney Green, a soft-spoken 52-year-old, comes to the job center three times a week to search on-line job listings. He describes his decades-long drift from full-time employee with benefits to marginalized temp-worker with no benefits and, finally, to the category of unemployed for an extended period.

From the late 1970s until the early 1990s, he worked for Bell Telecommunications, where he earned a good salary and full benefits. Since Bell laid him off, he’s worked periodically as a forklift operator for various companies, getting temporary placements through an employment agency. Most recently, he earned $12 an hour working for a deli meat and artisanal cheese producer. No benefits were provided. A year’s work, he explained, would mean a week’s vacation, “but they don’t keep you that long. They lay you off or rotate you into another job before then.”

Today, as he’s discovered, even such temp jobs are becoming scarce. “In the eighties, it wasn’t as bad as it is now,” he comments from the unemployment heartland of what, in 2009, is a deeply de-industrialized Philadelphia. “The city had jobs, but then the jobs moved to the suburbs. Now they’re moving overseas. Back then, say, you applied for a job, maybe fifty others applied, too. Today, that same job, you’re going to have hundreds — I mean, a thousand for that one job. It’s hard. It’s depressing.”

For the past year and a half, Rodney has been collecting unemployment periodically, and in that time, he hasn’t landed a single interview. Recently, because the Bush administration finally acquiesced to grassroots and Congressional pressure to lengthen unemployment benefits, he received a thirteen-week extension, providing him a little cushion (unlike equally interview-less Juanita). “That helped me a lot. Times are hard right now. I hear there are over four million people collecting unemployment. That’s kind of high.”

If Juanita and Chris are casualties of the intensified war of attrition businesses are quietly waging on workers, Rodney represents a deeper unraveling of jobs and job security, thanks to a globalized economy in which the hard-pressed workers in this country are pitted against cheaper labor pools in Latin America, South Asia, China, and even the American South. In such a job environment, what is one to do?

Someone I interviewed prior to my job center visit described her reaction when she heard that her company had recently closed a plant in the Midwest: “The first thing I thought, and I felt bad for thinking it,” she recalled, somewhat sheepishly, “was that means more work for us — at least for the time being.”

Her comment speaks volumes, as does her request not to be identified. Who needs union busters, patrolling shop-stewards, or legions of high-paid lawyers fighting wage and hours claims when a worker is so anxious about job security that she responds positively to the laying off of those she imagines as potential competitors? When employees police their own behavior for fear of the axe — monitoring their time checking email or using the bathroom — bad times distinctly have an upside for management.

In this job environment, it’s easy to turn not just on others, but on yourself. Reflecting on what she will do without a job and unemployment benefits, Juanita wonders if the problem isn’t the economy, but the choices she made in life. “I left home when I was sixteen and lived in my own places, had my children, and got married,” she says nervously, continually folding and refolding a local newspaper. “I should have gone to school and did a lot more things to make myself more marketable earlier in life. Now I’m left having to start over again.”

A look at corporate opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), whose passage in Congress is a central demand of organized labor, offers a glimpse of how persistently companies seek to disadvantage their workers. EFCA would allow workers to form a union when a majority of them sign union cards in a given workplace. “Card check,” as it is frequently called, enables them to organize unions without the need for an election. In a November column surveying the business elite’s response to the Act, Wall Street Journal op-ed columnist Thomas Frank wrote: “Card check is about power. Management has it, workers don’t, and business doesn’t want that to change.”

In Frank’s estimation, the current struggle over EFCA is the latest incarnation of a constantly evolving struggle between workers and employers. For the under- or unemployed crowding into this center in Philadelphia, the current recession isn’t a time-out from the normal struggle, it’s more like a new open season for corporate attacks on them.

Right now, for Juanita, Chris, and others at this center, there are actually two wars going on, and only one of them seems to have caught the attention of labor and business reporters. The headlines about the first read: Desperate Companies Forced to Cut Jobs. But many here seem to be experiencing a second war in which businesses are using bad times to act in ways they couldn’t in the best of times.

Shouldn’t reporters be heading out in search of this one-sided, covert struggle? Isn’t it time for the second business war of our moment to make a few headlines of its own?

Robert S. Eshelman is an independent journalist and audio host at TomDispatch.com. His articles have appeared in the Nation, In These Times, and Abu Dhabi’s the National. He can be emailed at robertseshelman@gmail.com.

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Eshelman

Posted in America, Economics | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Freedom Rider: White Christian Terrorists With Nuclear Materials Ignored?

Posted by kelliasworld on March 19, 2009

Original article associated artwork and video at Black Agenda Report

“Homeland security” seems to mean keeping the United States secure against threats from everyone except the White Right. In the Maine home of a rich acolyte of Hitler police found all the ingredients to make a “dirty bomb,” including “bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium (also radioactive), lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium (radiation booster), boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon.” The possible WMD-maker was especially upset about Barack Obama’s election as president. White terrorists don’t make the news because ”the media and the nation’s political leadership remain committed to keeping quiet about their existence.”

“Cummings had all the ingredients needed to make a ‘dirty bomb.’”

If radioactive material was found in the home of a Muslim from a Middle Eastern nation, you would hear about it, a lot. On the other hand, when a Hitler-admiring white American millionaire purchases radioactive material from an American company, you don’t hear much about it at all.

James G. Cummings was a trust fund baby living in Maine before he was shot to death by his wife in December 2008. After the killing, police discovered containers filled with “bomb-grade hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium (also radioactive), lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium (radiation booster), boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon.” In other words, Cummings had all the ingredients needed to make a “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive containing radioactive materials.

Cummings spoke openly of admiring Hitler and claimed to possess Nazi memorabilia previously owned by his idol. His wife reported that he had been in contact with white supremacist groups, was “very upset about the election of Barrack Osama” and “mixed chemicals in the sink.” Cummings was also in possession of easily obtained literature that explains how to build dirty bombs.

The dearth of news about a man who had the materials and the know-how needed to produce a dirty bomb is outrageous but not at all surprising. In 2003 a white supremacist terror group was apprehended in Tyler, Texas in possession of more than 100 cyanide bombs. The FBI discovered this group only because a package filled with fake identification was mailed to the wrong address. While the Bush re-election effort kept Americans in a state of fear with dubious red, yellow and orange alerts, dumb luck prevented an actual terror plot from being hatched.
“Police discovered containers filled with “bomb-grade material.”

The Tyler group went unmentioned and unnoticed by the national corporate media. There was no analysis, no commentary from “terror expert” pundits on their activities, and no calls for congressional investigation.

The Cummings case is not an isolated one. Last July, a man named James Adkisson walked into a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee and shot two congregants to death before being subdued and arrested. He left a letter meant to be a suicide note and made clear that he targeted the denomination because of its political beliefs.

“Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is to kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather. I’d like to encourage other like minded people to do what I’ve done. If life ain’t worth living anymore don’t just kill yourselves, do something for your country before you go. Go kill liberals!” Adkission also added, “How is a white woman having a niger baby progress” and “I’m protesting the DNC running such a radical leftist candidate. Osama Hussein OBama, yo mama. No experience, no brains, a joke. Dangerous to America. Hell, he looks like Curious George!”

The Adkisson political murders were not the last either. In February 2009 two Chilean exchange students were shot to death in Florida by Dannie Baker. Baker volunteered for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004 but later sent threatening letters to local Republican officials. “The Washington D.C. Dictators have already confessed to rigging elections in our States for their recruiting dictators to overthrow us with foreign illegals here, and have allowed them to kill and run for office in the States to extend their influence into our States.”

In another email Baker complained about plans to “. . . give our homeland to foriegn states and their representatives here in America. Lets exacute them and reinstate a legal government that will do something for us.” The emails were reported to local police but Baker’s threats were never investigated.
“Every day right wing talk radio and television hosts give credence to their belief that they have a right to kill because they are white and angry.”

The Baker and Adkisson cases are usually explained away as isolated cases of untreated mentally ill people that require no further explanation. These individuals are very sick, but they are given permission to hate and to act on their hatred. Every day right wing talk radio and television hosts give credence to their belief that they have a right to kill because they are white and angry. Adkisson specifically mentioned wanting to kill people deemed as enemies in conservative reporter Bernard Goldberg’s book, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.”

Glenn Beck, is a right wing talk radio who said who said he wanted to kill Michael Moore and Dennis Kucinich but CNN gave him a television show anyway. After the ascendancy of Barrack Osama and the Democratic party, Beck fell out of favor with CNN but was then given yet another forum for his views on Fox news where he remains unrepentant in promoting his hate speech. After a recent shooting rampage in Alabama resulted in ten deaths, Beck said that he understood the motives of the murderer and blamed feelings of political alienation for the killings.

Glenn Beck: Yada yada yada. And every time they do speak out, they’re shut down by political correctness. How do you not have those people turn into that guy?

Bill O’Reilly: Well, look, nobody, even if they’re frustrated, is going to hurt another human being unless they’re mentally ill. I think.

Beck: I think pushed to the wall, you don’t think people get pushed to the wall?[italics mine]

It isn’t clear if the exchange was a staged good cop/bad cop routine, or if Bill O’Reilly is actually the voice of reason and sanity in comparison to Beck. Beck apparently thinks that feeling “pushed to the wall” by unspecified disenfranchisement is a license to kill. Most importantly, Beck has an audience in the millions and his every utterance encourages would be terrorists.
“Native born white Americans are hatching plots, big and small.”

There are new Timothy McVeighs in development right now. McVeigh was nearly forgotten after the September 11th attacks, but he should be remembered because he had as Adkisson says “like minded” supporters. While foreign born Muslims are under constant suspicion of plotting terror, native born white Americans are hatching plots, big and small, on a regular basis.

The national corporate media ignored the threat posed by the McVeighs of the nation until the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City. Make no mistake, there are still people in this country who have been taught that being white and disgruntled means that they can do anything, including take the lives of others. The media and the nation’s political leadership also remain committed to keeping quiet about their existence. One day our luck will run out, and another Oklahoma City bombing will take place. When it happens the media will claim ignorance and say that they had no idea such people existed. They already know the answers to their feigned tortured questions, but as is so often the case, they have made a choice to keep us in the dark.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.
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And they dare to call progressives “radicals”! Fomenting violence is neither patriotic, nor responsible journalism. Fox News and any other media organization that supports people like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh should be considered terrorist organizations.–K.R.

Posted in America, Media, Terrorism | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Commentary: Cheney says U.S. can torture but can’t heal

Posted by kelliasworld on March 18, 2009

By Paul Begala
CNN Contributor
Original article at CNNPolitics.com

Editor’s note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.
Paul Begala says Cheney is hypocritical when he says he fears massive government expansion under Obama.

Paul Begala says Cheney is hypocritical when he says he fears massive government expansion under Obama.

(CNN) — Dick Cheney has finally found the limits of government power.

In his interview with CNN’s John King — his first television interview since leaving the vice presidency — Cheney revealed a view of federal power that is incoherent and hypocritical.

According to recently released legal memos from the Bush-Cheney administration, the former vice president believes that the federal government can ignore the First Amendment and suppress free speech and freedom of the press as part of its “war on terror.”

An October 23, 2001, memo from Justice Department lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty said, “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.”

Former Vice President Cheney also believes, according to these same memos, that the federal government can send troops to burst into the homes of American citizens without a search warrant, despite the Fourth Amendment’s protection against such unreasonable searches. He believes that the federal government has the right to arrest an American citizen on American soil and hold him in prison without charges. He believes that the federal government can listen in on your phone conversations without a court order.

Cheney believes that the federal government can ignore the Geneva Conventions, binding treaties largely written by the United States, signed by the president and ratified by the Senate. He believes that the federal government can commit torture, despite laws and treaties making torture a crime.

As the Washington Post reported, “Starting in January, 2002, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive’s will to resist. The vice president’s office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.”

The newspaper said, “Cheney and his allies … did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.”

In fact, Yoo has said the federal government has the power to grab your young son and crush his private parts if the president thinks that will help the “war on terror.”

Think I’m kidding? Here’s the verbatim exchange from a debate between Yoo and Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel:

Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty …

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo …

Yoo: I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.

Wow. That is a sick, twisted, sadistic world view. It is also a breathtakingly expansive view of federal power over citizens. Indeed, the position of Cheney and his allies seems to be that the federal government has limitless power over people. If the government can censor the free press, restrict free speech, listen in on your private conversations, burst into your home, take you away, hold you in prison without charges and torture you, it raises an interesting question: What on Earth does Dick Cheney think the federal government can’t do?

Thanks to John King, we now know: Cheney believes that the government cannot help with health care, improve education or wean America off Middle East oil. I’m not kidding.

Cheney, whose authoritarian impulses run deep, is suddenly worried that the federal government might become too powerful under President Obama.

“I worry a lot,” he told King, “that they’re using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector. I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem.”

Set aside the, umm, irony of a guy who is alive, thank God, because of government-provided health care opposing health care for taxpaying Americans. And set aside the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the greatest expansion of the federal role in health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Focus instead on Cheney’s alarmist rhetoric: “a massive expansion in the government”, “much more authority for the government.” Cheney is comfortable with a government that has the authority to torture, imprison, censor and kill. Just not a government that has the capacity and compassion to write a health insurance policy or take on Big Oil.

I write this only hours after King’s interview with Cheney, and yet I believe it will live in history. Right there, in his own words, Cheney gives historians a candid explication of his world view: that government may claim dictatorial powers when he and his ilk are in charge, but when we the people call on our government to act to address recession, illness and ignorance (made worse by Cheney’s policies) well, then we’ve reached Cheney’s boundaries of the government’s power.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Begala.
_____
But I agree with him. And in this commentary, Begala has basically defined the difference between progressives and conservatives, especially those of the neocon variety. Cheney’s ilk cannot possibly see the government has a “force” (for want of the better word) for social good, when they see its main purpose as conquest, destruction, and authoritarian control. –K.R.

Posted in America, Dick Cheney, Torture, War | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Kucinich Requests Investigation into “Executive Assassination Ring”

Posted by kelliasworld on March 16, 2009

Original Content at OpEdNews

March 16, 2009

By Press Release

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Nathan White (202)225-5871

Kucinich Requests Investigation into “Executive Assassination Ring”

Washington D.C. (March 16, 2009) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Friday sent a letter to Chairman Edolphus Towns of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting an immediate investigation into allegations made by the investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that the White House operated an ‘executive assassination ring’ that circumvented Congressional oversight.

Kucinich explains in the letter that, “Mr. Hersh made the allegation before an audience at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. He stated, ‘Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving… It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. . .Congress has no oversight of it.’”

Kucinich adds, “If true, these operations violate longstanding U.S. policy regarding covert actions and illegally bypass Congressional oversight… Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation. However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth.”

The full text of the letter follows:

March 13, 2009

The Honorable Edolphus Towns
Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Towns:

As you may already be aware, recent media reports indicate that investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, while answering questions before a public audience at the University of Minnesota divulged information about what he calls an “executive assassination ring” operating under the George W. Bush Administration.

If substantiated, the allegation would have far reaching implications for the United States. Such an assertion from someone of Hersh’s credibility that has a long and proven track record of dependability on these issues merits attention. Mr. Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation. However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth. As such, I request that the Full Committee immediately begin an investigation to determine the facts in this matter.

Mr. Hersh made the allegation before an audience at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. He stated, “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.”

Mr. Hersh continued, “It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently,” he explained. “They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. . .Congress has no oversight of it.”

If true, these operations violate longstanding U.S. policy regarding covert actions and illegally bypass Congressional oversight. Current statute governing covert action (50 U.S.C. 413b) requires a presidential finding and notification to the appropriate congressional committees. Additionally, Executive Order 12333 clearly states that “[n]o person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination.”

I urge the Committee to explore Mr. Hersh’s allegation. Please do not hesitate to call on me or my staff if we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
—–
Rep. Kucinich is the one rep who can be counted on to want to look at the issues that most reps want to sweep under the rug. He also helped write the single payer health bill HR 676. That he is routinely marginalized as in his candidacy in the last presidential race, shows the depravity of our alleged democracy. I was very surprised that he was the Majority Leader’s designee given an hour to speak as the stimulus bill was beginning to be debated. It remains to be seen if the mainstreaming of this valiant progressive was a one time only affair during the Obama “Honeymoon” period or a real change. I think it is more the former than the latter. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pay attention. Maybe if more people paid attention, he’d get more respect.

Posted in Dick Cheney | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Challenging the Right on National Health Care

Posted by kelliasworld on March 15, 2009

Original Content at OpEdNews
March 15, 2009

By Mary Shaw

Whenever I advocate for universal single-payer health care for all Americans, the right-wingers flood my inbox with all the predictable myths.

First, they tell me that health care is not a right. They say it’s each citizen’s responsibility to provide it for his or her family. I guess this myth gives them another excuse to look down on the poor who cannot afford the luxury of medical insurance. It makes them feel superior.

In response to that, I point out that health care is indeed a basic human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which the United States is a signatory.

Article 25(1) of the UDHR states:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

But human rights standards don’t tend to sway these folks.

Then they cry “socialism”, as if that’s a bad thing. Certainly the word has taken on some bad connotations through the years, but that’s only because the radical right too often (and very vocally) equates socialism with Communism or Marxism, which are extreme flavors of socialism. They fail to see that national single-payer health care managed by the government would not be much different from our current system of socialized libraries, socialized fire departments, and socialized police departments. These services are paid for with our tax dollars, and they’re readily available to us when we need them. It’s all for the greater good.

Then sometimes they wave the flag and tell me that we must not change our health care system because, in their opinion, the U.S. offers the very best health care available. Why mess with a good thing?

Here, too, they need a bit of education. In fact, the United States ranks 37th in the World Health Organization’s rankings of the world’s health systems (below Malta, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, and numerous other countries that might surprise you).

Furthermore, a recent report from the Business Roundtable suggests that “the costs and performance of the U.S. health care system have put America’s companies and workers at a significant competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace.” In a nutshell, Americans spend a lot more on health care than other countries, but we aren’t as healthy. That seems to confirm the World Health Organization’s assessment of our less-than-stellar level of care, with the added issue of how we’re paying so much more to get so much less. Corporate profits over the health of the people. God bless America.

And, on a final note, most of these right-wing types describe themselves as “Christian”. Well, wasn’t Jesus Christ all about healing the sick? And, as the bible describes his ministry, I don’t think Jesus ever charged a penny for his healing services. (Imagine the bill he might have sent to Lazarus!)

I have yet to see a valid, logical response to this last point.

And I don’t expect to.

Author’s Website: http://www.maryshawonline.com

Author’s Bio: Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated.

Posted in America, Economics, Health Insurance | Tagged: | 4 Comments »