Article 43

 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Launches Middle-Class Task Force

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I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dreama dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a manגs skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
- Martin Luther King, Jr 1968

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
- Barak Obama 2008

By Suzanne Malveaux
CNN Money
January 30, 2009

The group will assess the impact of the slowing economy on average Americans; Obama issues pro-labor orders.

Facing new evidence of a darkening economic climate, President Barack Obama on Friday established a new middle-class task force to assess the STATUS OF AVERAGE-INCOME AMERICANS and recommend new ways to strengthen the economy.

The president also signed three executive orders to support organized labor, a key Democratic constituency.

Addressing an audience of business and union leaders in the White House, Obama said it is time for the the government to act “boldly and swiftly” to assist a struggling middle class.

“We can’t ... drag our feet or delay much longer. The American people expect us to act, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” he said.

The U.S. economy suffered its biggest slowdown in 26 years in the last three months of 2008, according to the government’s first reading about the fourth quarter, released Friday.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the quarter, adjusted for inflation.

The latest numbers are “a continuing disaster for America’s working families,” Obama said. “The recession is deepening ... and the economic crisis is growing.”

The president’s new Task Force of Middle Class Working Families, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will be composed of a panel of advisers and four Cabinet members. The task force will try to assess the status of the middle class - specifically whether it is growing or shrinking and how well off it is.

It is ultimately expected to issue a series of recommendations on how best to bolster the economic security of average-income Americans.

“A strong middle class equals a strong America,” Biden said. It is critical to “raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country.”

The task force’s first meeting is scheduled to be held on February 27 in Philadelphia. The meeting will focus on “green jobs,” employment opportunities tied to renewable energy and environmentally friendly development.
Pro-labor directives

Reaching out to organized labor, the president also issued three executive orders designed to “level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests,” Obama said.

“I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it’s part of the solution,” he added. “You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement.”

The first order prevents federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses that were intended to influence workers’ decisions to form unions or engage in collective bargaining.

A second requires federal vendors with more than $100,000 in contracts to post workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

“Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts,” Obama said.

The third order requires service contractors at federal buildings to offer jobs to qualified current employees when contracts change.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/30/09 •
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Black Gold

While the American Economy and OIL REFINERIES ROT, big payday for the SLEAZEBALL OIL COMPANIES are in order.

What’s wrong with that?

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Exxon Posts Annual Profit Record
Oil company beats estimates despite income decline in latest period due to falling prices.

By Steve Hargreaves
CNN Money
January 30, 2009

Exxon Mobil reported the largest annual profit in U.S. history Friday, making $45.22 billion on the back of record oil prices.

But Exxon’s quarterly profit fell over 33%, as crude prices dropped precipitously in the last quarter as recession spread through the globe.

Exxon (XOM, Fortune 500), the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, made $7.82 billion in the fourth quarter on revenue of $84.7 billion. On a per share basis, the company made $1.55, beating analysts’ estimates of $1.45 a share.

Exxon shares rose 1% in pre-market trading.

Oil prices, the driving force behind oil company profits, swung widely in 2008. Crude hit a record $147.27 in July, as surging global demand and wide investor interest pushed up commodity prices across the board.

But as the credit crisis spread and cracks emerged in the global economy, money fled the oil market. By December crude traded in the $30s.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/30/09 •
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

7 Dirty Secrets Of The Security Industry

Find out the seven dirty secrets of the security industry and practical ways to command honesty from your trusted security providers

By Joshua Corman
InfoWorld
January 28, 2009

Do you ever get the feeling your security providers are failing to tell you the whole truth? We entrust the industry to protect us from unacceptable risk. But we must confront the underlying truth: The goal of the security market is to make money.

Here are the seven dirty secrets of the security industry and practical ways to command honesty from your trusted security providers.

1. Antivirus certification omissions. The dirtiest secret in the industry is that, while antivirus tools detect replicating malicious code like worms, they do not identify malcode such as nonreplicating Trojans. So, even though Trojans have been around since the beginning of malicious code, there is no accountability in antivirus certification tests. Today Trojans and other forms on nonreplicating malcode constitute 80% or more of the threats businesses are likely to face. Antivirus accountability metrics are simply no longer reflective of the true state of threat.

2. There is no perimeter. If you still believe in the perimeter, you may as well believe in Santa Claus. That isn’t to say there is no perimeter. But we need to define what the perimeter is. The endpoint is the perimeter, the user is the perimeter. It’s more likely that the business process is the perimeter, or the information itself is the perimeter too. If you design your security controls with no base assumption of a perimeter, when you have one you are more secure. The mistake we tend to make is, if we put the controls at the perimeter, then we will be fine. For many threats, we couldn’t be more wrong.

3. Risk management threatens vendors. Risk management really helps an organization understand its business and its highest level of risk. However, your priorities don’t always map to what the vendors are selling. Vendors focus on individual issues so you will continue to buy their individual products. If you don’t have a clear picture of your risk priorities, vendors are more than happy to set them for you. Trusted security partners will provide options for assessing your risk posture and help you develop plans to make the most security impact for the least cost and complexity. Security needs to conform to and support your business priorities. Too often, vendors want your business to conform to their portfolio.

4. There is more to risk than weak software. The lion’s share of the security market is focused on software vulnerabilities. But software represents only one of the three ways to be compromised, the other two being weak configurations and people. The latter is the largest uncovered area of risk. This is malicious code that doesn’t leverage a vulnerability but rather leverages the person. For example, downloading a dancing skeleton for ‘a spooky good time’ (this was a trick employed by Storm), social engineering, spear phishing, etc. While we still need to find vulnerabilities and patch them, we must understand that an organization is only as strong as its weakest link. And more attention needs to be paid in mitigating the other two ways beyond software.

5. Compliance threatens security. Compliance in and of itself is not a bad thing. But, compliance in and of itself does not equal security. At the very least it’s a resource and budget conflict, and it splits our focus. Compliance is supposed to raise the minimum standard of security, but it just gets us to do what we are required to do and nothing else.

What’s more, that which is easy to measure is not necessarily that which is most valuable. So if there were 15 software vulnerabilities last month, we can measure that 12 of them have been patched. It is much harder to measure how effective end user training was to make administrators immune to social engineering attacks. The lesson is you need to be compliant, but your entire risk strategy cannot be based on it.

6. Vendor blind spots allowed for Storm. Storm is being copied and improved. The Storm era of botnets is alive and well, nearly two years from when it first appeared. How is this possible? 1. Botnets thrive in the consumer world where there is little money for innovation, a fact Storm and its controllers know. They are making money off of everything from spam to pump-and-dump stock scams. 2. They eat antivirus for breakfast. A lot of the techniques and innovations used by Storm are not new; they are just being leveraged artfully against the blind spots of antivirus certifications and antivirus vendors. 3. Malcode does not need vulnerabilities. Most of the Storm recruitment drives have leveraged social engineering and play off of a holiday or sporting event.

7. Security has grown well past “do it yourself.” Technology without strategy is chaos. The security market is often far too focused on the latest hot box or technology. The shear volume of security products and the rate of change has super-saturated most organizations and exceeded their ability to keep up. Organizations realize only a fraction of the capabilities of their existing investments. Furthermore, the cost of the product is often a fraction of the cost of ownership. There was a time when you could “do it yourself.” But the simple days of Virus meets Antivirus are long gone. Highly effective organizations are embracing professional and managed security services to extend and augment their in-house expertise. By focusing your in-house expertise on what you know best—your business—scale comes from teaming with third-party expertise. This will be increasingly necessary in these tough economic times.

The primary goals for executives over the next few years is to cut cost and reduce complexity. Today we are seeing a massive convergence in the security market. There are only going to be a few large players left and a bunch of smaller players. Will consolidation lead to better efficiency, or will it lead to vendor lock-in?

As executives simplify, they will face many choices. Simply reducing vendors may fail to balance cost, complexity and risk. Vendors have a responsibility in this equation and must rise to the challenge. True risk management can show where to prune solutions, but the key is risk driven, responsible simplification.

Corman is principal security strategist for IBM Internet Security Systems. Network World is an InfoWorld affiliate

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Posted by Elvis on 01/29/09 •
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

History, Hypocrisy, and Empire

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And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
- Matthew 24:4

The Obama Spectacle: History, Hypocrisy, and Empire

By Larry Pinkney
Black Commentator
January 22, 2009

The so-called democracy of the powerful U.S. elite continues to live up to its legacy of hypocrisy and deceit.

Now that the spectacle of the Barack Obama coronation as the American Empire’s first African-American emperor has run its course, and many, many millions of dollars have been spent on self-adulation by the power elite of this nation, the huddled masses will necessarily be compelled to RETURN TO A SYSTEM of no universal, single-payer health care, increasing joblessness, insatiable corporate / military greed, homelessness, de facto racial disparity & discord, police brutality, a burgeoning U.S. prison population, and endless U.S. wars abroad. For yet again, this nation will have done what it all too often does: perverted its promise, including the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into a hypocritical nightmare of gigantic and historic proportions.

For the majority of Black, Brown, White, Red, and Yellow peoples, “the dream” to which the late Langston Hughes referred [in the poem A Dream Deferred] has not only been deferred, it has been obscenely and grotesquely disfigured and distorted into something almost beyond recognition. Barack Obama’s presidency is NOT A STEP FORWARD nor is it a step towards the fulfillment of the struggles by Nat Turner, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so very many others. Rather, he is the slick pro-apartheid Zionist antithesis and perversion of the fulfillment of these struggles.

Barack Obama has already begun to repeatedly and shamelessly call upon the people of this nation to make “sacrifice[s],” as if the everyday people of this country have not already made enormous, heart rendering sacrifices. How about having ObamaԒs elite corporate backers in Lockheed, Goldman Saks, and the insurance and banking industries make some meaningful, ongoing, and painful sacrifices?! How about reversing the governments criminal financial bail out of the big corporations [which government bail-out Obama enthusiastically supported], and passing those billions upon billions of dollars back directly to the everyday people of this nation - no strings attached?! How about immediately stopping all U.S. wars of aggression, and bringing our men and women in uniform home right NOW - no strings attached?! So many of these men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of so-called U.S. national security, which false security has meant their being the perpetual working-class cannon fodder for Halliburton and other avaricious corporate components of the U.S. military / industrial complex.

Barack Obama, though the first African-American presidential figurehead of the U.S. Empire, is actually the last best hope of continuing U.S. international hegemony under the fake cloak of democracy and justice at home and abroad. Therein is Obama’s appeal to the political and economic ruling elites. He is a conscious, willing, and potent tool of the power elite, and should be understood and dealt with as such. He is neither a progressive, nor a leftist or socialist. He is a cynical opportunist and a shrewd politician, who cloaks his double-speak in glitzy so-called progressive sounding rhetoric. He is arguably the most dangerous U.S. politician, to the actual economic and political well being of everyday people of all colors, thus far in this 21st Century.

A reader of The Black Commentator recently reminded me of what is undoubtedly the most important, defining, and yet perhaps the least known speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the speech that Dr. King delivered on April 4, 1967 at the Riverside church in New York City, precisely one year before he was shot down in Memphis, Tennessee, under the auspices of the U.S. Government. The speech is titled, BEYOND VIETNAM: A TIME TO BREAK SILENCE. Every discerning person who peruses this speech will quickly realize what a perversion, of the struggle for justice at home and abroad, the pro-apartheid Zionist Barack Obama really is. We can and must do so much better.

The installment of Barack Obama as U.S. president has not ushered in a post racial era in this nation. To the contrary, it has ushered in a heightened economic, political, and yes racial hypocrisy, which the masses of Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples will ultimately not ignore.

The paraphrased adage, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, that: You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the timeӔ is absolutely correct. And even though the U.S. corporate media (including CNN and PBS) is unabashedly complicit in their de facto mission to fool the people, the legitimate needs and aspirations of the people can be contained for only so long; Obama or no Obama.

To the people of this nation of all colors and ethnicities who are losing your jobs, your homes, and your familiesto those with no health insuranceŅ to those who cannot afford to send your children to collegeand to those languishing in prisonsŅ this writer says: Place not your faith in the rhetoric of politicians or the false promises of such cynical opportunists. Place your faith in yourselves and each other, in your / our ability to discern the difference between rhetoric vs. reality, and in our determination to find and create ways of organizing and coming together to bring about real systemic change dedicated to everyday people and not the corporate blood suckers of the peoples of this nation and world.

To the long-time freedom fighters, including Assata Shakur, Reverend Edward Pinkney (no relation), Leonard Peltier, the SF 8, and so many others who have held on and struggled for collective justice for so long, and to all political prisoners everywhere, this writer says: Please keep holding on, for the time is approaching when your struggles will be rewarded and that proverbial day of reckoning is hastening hither, sooner than some may realize.

To Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente, and Cindy Sheehan: Thank you for your ongoing and brave examples of what it means to be truly for-real and in service to the people and not the blood sucking corporate / military / prison apparatus.

To the young people of this nation and world be you Black, Brown, Red, White, or Yellow: This writer understands your legitimate rage and your desire for a better world. You have every right to want a just and humane world. YOU are humanity’s present and future. YOU are why so many of us have struggled and died so that we might live through you. YOU must carry this struggle on.

To the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and elsewhere: Know that the peoples of the U.S. do not hate you and that those of us who are socially and politically conscious stand with you in your just quests to live free and strong, unfettered and unhindered by U.S. hegemony.

History does not repeat itself. People repeat history.

Let us commit and re-commit ourselves to the struggle for systemic change in this nation, and not be duped by this latest dose of U.S. hypocrisy in the person of Barack Obama.

Onward…

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Posted by Elvis on 01/28/09 •
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Only A Fools Buys DRM Tainted Music

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You’ll find no article supporting DRM here, and like I said “Anybody who buys ANYTHING WITH DRM in it is a fool.”

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Digital-music buyer, don’t be a fool

By Chris Pirillo
CNN
January 28, 2009

Back in my day (a day not long ago, as it turns out), you could go down to the local record shop and plunk down your paper-route money for little disks of plastic that were embedded with the latest sounds of your favorite musical performers.

Whether your tastes ran from Al Jarreau to “Weird Al” Yankovic, you could be assured that those purchased disks were yours—for keeps.

You could play ‘em over and over until they were scratched beyond repair, you could lend ‘em to friends, you could amplify ‘em at illicit Charleston dancing parties, you could sell ‘em to used record stores or you could store ‘em away in a safe deposit box in hopes they’d gain value as collector’s items.

You could even make precious mix tapes for your soda-sharing sweetheart with songs copied from ‘em, though this made recording industry executives more than a little nervous. And it wasn’t long before their weaselly whimpers of protest began.

As the digital age arrived to usher in more perfect ways to copy and distribute (aka “pirate") what these executives saw as their property, those whimpers turned to howls. They’ve only grown louder since.

So the recording industry has had a good gig going. It’s easy to see why its upper crust is miffed at lowly hoi polloi tampering with its bread and butter (or pizza. Or pie. Whatever crust suits your fancy).

One can imagine some mad scientist under the employ of said recording industry locked away in an underground bunker somewhere cooking up a scheme so dark, so evil, that its repercussions would completely remap the way media would be controlled—with consumers being suckered into paying much, much more for much, much less.

This scheme would come to be known as DRM. Digital rights management or devious rental misappropriation? That’s right. Rental. You see, you don’t really buy music for keeps anymore. I mean, how can you when this is the sort of thing that can happen?

It’s a bit like buying your dream car, driving it around for a while, then being told it’s got to be given back to the factory because the dealership where it was purchased no longer has a legal association with the factory.

Sorry if you thought you could drive it around until it was worn out beyond repair, if you thought you could lend it to your friends, if you thought you could drive it to the illicit Charleston dancing party, if you thought you could sell it to a used car dealer or if you thought you could store it under a tarp in your garage for the next couple of decades in hopes it would gain value as a collector’s item.

Being used to the old, tangible business model, you were under the impression that you’d actually bought something. No one told you that you were merely borrowing someone else’s property for a while (and paying for the privilege to do so). Like a sharecropper. Like a serf. Like a sucker.

And most people do feel like suckers when DRM locks them out of something that they feel they have every right to use, often to the point of attempting to circumnavigate this crappy, unfair system by means that might LEAD TO TROUBLE.

I can only conclude that, like bootleggers at the repealing of Prohibition, viruses and spyware acquired in pursuit of overcoming content restrictions wouldn’t prosper in a DRM-free world. Really, it’s hard to take alarm from DRM-happy organizations such as the MPAA as anything but a double dose of dookie when you find out that 2007 was a record box office year in spite of all the pirates and ne’er-do-wells and whatnot!

Who, exactly, is getting plundered? It’s no wonder blogger Cory Doctorow finds DRM to be one of the most OFFENSIVE digital constructs on the planet. It’s inevitable. It’ll go away or change dramatically. Let’s hope sooner rather than later.

I subscribe to Rhapsody, so I can listen to just about anything from my desktop, and subscriptions are my preferred method of content consumption. I have an XM satellite radio subscription, I pay for just about every channel on digital cable and I have been known to purchase hard copies of content in the past (DVDs, CDs, 8-track tapes, etc.)

But DRM? It’s no good. It’s downright evil. I find it very difficult to purchase something outright when I’m told that I can only play it X times, only on X devices or for X long. That’s counter-intuitive and consumer unfriendly. There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but not when the content is a commodity.

I once found four different versions of the same song on my wife’s system. One had been purchased on Rhapsody, another on iTunes, another on Napster and the fourth was an MP3! Quadruple madness! I don’t care how good a song is, she doesn’t need to have four copies of it (three of which are completely useless without the proper systems in place).

The MP3? It’s as perfect as it needs to be, playable on just about anything these days. That’s consumer friendly.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/28/09 •
Section Privacy And Rights
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In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

Today's Diversion

Constitutional governments and aristocracies are commonly overthrown owing to some deviation from justice …...the rich, if the constitution gives them power, are apt to be insolent and avaricious.… In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of small expenses in time eats up a fortune. - Aristotle

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