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Berkeley, CA
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Half Moon Bay, CA
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San Francisco
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Kansas City, MO
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Sonoma, CA
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Long Beach, CA
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Philadelphia, PA
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From thiscantbehappening.net:

  • Sharing the sandbox
    by: 
    Gary Lindorff

     
     
    That’s right,
    I want to say something about my compatriates, “us”.
    The American People aren’t going to like this.
    They like being referred to as The American People;
    it makes them feel special.
     
    But the American People need to get out more.
    They should learn to play better.
    They should learn to share the sandbox.
    Right across the street are the Mexican People
    and they are very nice.
    And across the way, there are the Chinese People
    who buy our stuff and make things for us.
    Many of them are also very nice.
    And the German People have some great toys.
     
    In fact, there are lots of People in the neighborhood!
     
    What if People are just People!
    That’s hard for the American People.
    But when someone says something about the American People
    just who do they think they are?
    Whatever happened to “us” or “we”.
     
    But hey, I’m just a poet
    draining my cup of coffee,
    wondering where the poetry has gone?
    It’s like the smell of bacon frying somewhere.
    It still smells good
    but it’s just no use to me.
    I’m a vegetarian.
    I prefer local and home-grown
    And anyway, I am well satisfied
    by what’s on my plate.
     
    --Gary Lindorff

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  • How Badly Did Equifax Breach Damage Social Security System?
    Exclusive: Salon investigation (By TCBH! member and Salon contributor) suggests mySocialSecurity portal at risk
    by: 
    Dave Lindorff

     

    XXThis article was written on assignment for Salon.com. To read the full story follow the link below
     

    Millions of Americans are worried that their credit information and Social Security numbers may have been among the 143 million records breached in an unprecedented hack that attacked Equifax, the credit reporting company. But there’s more to the story. While Equifax and the Social Security Administration aren’t talking about it, Equifax was also hired a year ago, on a $10 million contract, to “help the SSA manage risk and mitigate fraud for the mySocialSecurity system, a personalized portal for customers to access some of SSA’s services such as the online statement.”

    That’s how the company put it in a press release on Feb. 10, 2016. In that announcement, Equifax also boasted that the Social Security Administration “has completed integration with Equifax Inc.”

    Despite Equifax’s self-described intimate role in providing security and preventing fraud on the Social Security System’s public access website for current workers and beneficiaries, there has been no indication that the Social Security Administration is concerned about whether weaknesses in Equifax’s own customer portal security — such as the Apache tool on which the company is blaming the breach — might have been involved in its security work for the mySocialSecurity portal.

    For the rest of this article by TCBH! member DAVE LINDORFF, please go to Salon.com

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  • How Badly Did Equifax Breach Damage Social Security System?
    Exclusive: Salon investigation suggests mySocialSecurity portal at risk
    by: 
    Dave Lindorff

     

    XX

    Millions of Americans are worried that their credit information and Social Security numbers may have been among the 143 million records breached in an unprecedented hack that attacked Equifax, the credit reporting company. But there’s more to the story. While Equifax and the Social Security Administration aren’t talking about it, Equifax was also hired a year ago, on a $10 million contract, to “help the SSA manage risk and mitigate fraud for the mySocialSecurity system, a personalized portal for customers to access some of SSA’s services such as the online statement.”

    That’s how the company put it in a press release on Feb. 10, 2016. In that announcement, Equifax also boasted that the Social Security Administration “has completed integration with Equifax Inc.”

    Despite Equifax’s self-described intimate role in providing security and preventing fraud on the Social Security System’s public access website for current workers and beneficiaries, there has been no indication that the Social Security Administration is concerned about whether weaknesses in Equifax’s own customer portal security — such as the Apache tool on which the company is blaming the breach — might have been involved in its security work for the mySocialSecurity portal.

    For the rest of this article by TCBH! member DAVE LINDORFF, please go to Salon magazine.

    read more

  • Hack of 143 million Social Security Numbers is Really About Our Insecurity and Fear
    SSNs should be for Social Security's use, and nobody else
    by: 
    Dave LIndorff

     

    The epic breach of data, including 143 million Americans' Social Security numbers, at Equifax, a private credit company that answers to nobody and that gathers information about anybody who spends money or borrows it, whether they like it or not, is causing heart palpitations across the nation.

    The New York Times reports that Equifax has been deluged with requests to have their credit information "frozen" so it cannot be accessed by anybody, including lenders. But they cannot do it: it turns out that the Equifax online and phonebank system for dealing with such requests have both become "frozen" themselves and are useless. A snarky Times consumer columnist wonders whether this is because of the crush of calls or is because Equifax simply doesn't want to lose to many credit reports -- the basis for its ability to charge lenders for its credit rating services. He has a point.

    No surprise that people are desperately trying to shut their credit reports off. People who live on credit and who have little in their bank accounts, are terrified that hackers will now steal their identities, borrow vast sums in their names, or hack into their retirement accounts and pensions and savings accounts and siphon off what's in them.

    But this very fear that wells up in the hearts of the American bourgeoisie is the reason this is all happening.

    83 years ago, the Social Security system was established, and everyone who registered received a nine-digit number -- the number of an account into which people paid taxes which, over a lifetime of work, were used to calculate a benefit amount to be paid monthly for life from retirement age until you died, providing everyone with a modicum of financial security.

    Originally there were laws that made it illegal for anyone to require a person to provide that number, but then, fear led us to start requiring that the once inviolate Social Security Number be used for many purposes. Gradually, imperceptibly first, the number began to be required, first on income tax forms, then on bank accounts and credit card applications, and finally on just about everything. Today, you can't get a driver's license without showing a Social Security card. You need to show it to get a car loan or a mortgage. Immigration police can demand one "to prove you are a citizen." Apartment owners ask for the number when you sign a lease. Hospitals and doctors require it, since unless you never worked, your Medicare number is the same as your Social Security number.
     

    There are so many holes in the security of your Social Security number, the word "security" is really a jokeThere are so many holes in the security of your Social Security number, the word "security" is really a joke
     

    Many places ask for the "last four numbers" of your card as a kind of ID, but actually the rest of your number is a code that can be reconstructed, given enough information about your background, at least before 2011, when the agency began generating random numbers for new registrants.

    And Americans support this intrusion into their privacy. Why? Because we've been snookered into fearing terrorists, "illegal" immigrants, fraudsters out to steal our money...you name it. The land of the free is not so free anymore with all this identifying that has to go on. You can't go anywhere in secret anymore. Try and use cash to rent a car or rent a hotel room. They all want a major credit card, and that, of course, is linked to your Social Security Number (SSN).

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  • Trump Drops DACA as Well as Child-Maiming Cluster Weapons
    The president’s strange way of showing his ‘love’ of children
    by: 
    Dave Lindorff

     

    Image drawn for ThisCantBeHappening! by Nathaniel Thompson, reachable at @untilwegetthisImage drawn for ThisCantBeHappening! by Nathaniel Thompson (reachable at @untilwegetthis)
     

    When Donald Trump says he “loves children” as he did in trying to make the case that his termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was not a case of child abuse, it’s important to remember that Trump has also amped up US support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen, and has specifically continued to supply the Saudi air force with US-made cluster bombs, the primary victims of which are children.

    Here is what President and Commander in Chief Trump really thinks of kids.

     Child victims of Saudi-dropped cluster bombs, and images of unexploded US-made cluster weapTrump's war on children in Yemen: Child victims of Saudi-dropped cluster bombs, and images of unexploded US-made cluster weapons
     

    A UN Convention on Cluster Munitions that prohibits the “use, transfer and stockpiling” of cluster bombs and shells was adopted in Dublin, Ireland in 2008, went into force on August 1, 2010 after being signed by 30 nations, and today has 116n countries that have ratified it. Among the holdouts are the US, Russia, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Brazil and of course Saudi Arabia — all countries that produce and/or stockpile and are willing to use such weapons.

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  • A Tale of Two Critics
    Previewing the Burns/Novick PBS Vietnam documentary
    by: 
    Michael Uhl

     

    In the run-up to the Burns/Novick documentary on the Vietnam War to air on PBS beginning the 17th of September, I’ve read two previews that likely define the opposing poles around which critical commentary will grade the film series:
     

    “Why the Vietnam War is Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s Most Ambitious Project Yet,” by David Kamp, in the August 2017 issue of Vanity Fair.

    “America’s Amnesia,” by Thomas A. Bass, in Vol. 2, No. 4 (August-October 2017) of the Mekong Revie.
     

    As I read the tea leaves, the revived debate on Vietnam prompted by the documentary will essentially bypass the old nest of apologists among the surviving neo-cons and the highbrow sages of the National Review and Commentary, and pit forces from the neo-liberal camp, who see the “lessons of Vietnam” as repudiations of the U.S. policy of permanent war targeting international “bad guys” not down for American global hegemony, against the principled crowd of leftists and academics who cut their political teeth during the period of massive opposition to the Vietnam War. We may hear from the right, the diehard revanchists among the Viet Kieu, the rants of Rolling Thunder’s ersatz vets on their hogs, the idiocracy of Trump’s base, or even the Idiot-in-Chief, Trump himself. But their voices on this topic will be ignored as so much extraneous background noise. No one serious, you know, still supports the Vietnam War.

    Given what he’s served up in Vanity Fair, I place David Kamp, if only in the utter Arendtian thoughtlessness he brings to the topic, among the temporizers. Kamp’s operative critical pose is ennui chic. He is bored by treatments of the Vietnam War he’s encountered that recycle the “tired tropes… of Hollywood,” and is refreshed in finding that auteurs Burns and Novick have “avoided” them. After all, Lynn Novick instructs the critic in an interview, ““There is no agreement among scholars, or Americans or Vietnamese, about what happened: the facts, let alone whose fault, let alone what we’re supposed to make of it.” Burns punctuates his partner’s hymn to ambiguity, telling Kamp he disdained to give voice in their epic to “avuncular, Monday-morning quarterbacking from historians and scholars who never set foot in Vietnam.”

    US soldier uses a flame thrower to torch a Vietnamese peasant hutUS soldier uses a flame thrower to torch a Vietnamese peasant hut
     

    There it is: throw out your Gibbon, unless the renowned author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire managed to time travel in the Way-Back machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody to personally interview the Visigoths as they sacked the Eternal City.

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  • President Trump’s ‘Arms for Cops’ Program Just Means More Militarization of the Police
    Another sop to the gun nuts
    by: 
    Dave Lindorff

     

    President Trump’s pandering executive order reversing an Obama decision to scale back the dumping of surplus military equipment on the nation’s already over-armed police departments includes word that his new “toys (arms)-for-cops” benefit program will include Army and Marine surplus bayonets.

    Let’s ponder that for a moment.

    The Army gave up bayonets for combat use after the Korean War (the last recorded US bayonet charge was in 1951 in that war). Now, while the Marines still train in bayonet use in boot camp in a bow to tradition, the reality is that nobody actually uses them in combat.

    So you have to ask: If the military doesn’t think that bayonets are needed or useful in actual combat, why would police in the US need them?”

    It’s a good question and gets to the larger question of why American cops need any of the gear that they’re being offered — once again — by the US military: everything from RPGs to MRAP “tanks” so heavy that if called out for a SWAT raid, a route has to first be carefully plotted and followed that doesn’t cross over any of this country’s worn-out and and crumbling bridges and culverts (an MRAP weighs 14-18 tons, while local street viaducts in many communities frequently have tonnage limits in the single digits).

    Cops or soldiers? In today's America it's hard to know.Cops or soldiers? In today's America it's hard to know.

     

    Before he retired, I had a conversation with the chief of police of my community of Upper Dublin, a quiet middle-class suburb of Philadelphia, about militarized policing. A thoughtful veteran of the Vietnam War himself, he disabused me of an automatic and commonly shared assumption I had made that local police SWAT teams were probably populated by combat veterans looking for more adrenalin-pumping action. Actually, he told me, combat vets who go into police work — and there are many who do, thanks to the extra points awarded to veterans by most communities in their hiring — don’t want to be playing soldier when they become police officers. “They’ve had enough of war and killing,” he told me. “It’s the ones who have never been in the military who volunteer for SWAT teams.” He Described such SWAT volunteers as “wannabe soldiers.”

    Maybe if police and sheriff’s departments get old Korean War-era bayonets from the Pentagon to put on their semi-automatic rifles, they’ll try launching bayonet charges next time they bust into a house to deliver a bench warrant for a bald tire or missed family court appearance or to look for pot plants, instead of just walking up to the front door in the early morning and bashing it in with a battering ram, as my son witnessed the Savannah Police SWAT unit do trying to arrest a pot dealer who lived next door to him and his schoolmates (the suspect wasn’t home, but his little kids were).

    Next we’ll be reading about police stabbings of innocent civilians, instead of their being shot.

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  • How is it possible?
    by: 
    Gary Lindorff

     
    How is this possible?
    How pale the light,
    how still things have grown.
    Dusk at 2:30.
    People are lined up
    at the telescopes
    happily sharing glasses
    that blind them to everything
    but the sun
    that is being devoured by a dragon.
    There is a group over there,
    talking to a man in a black pirate hat
    who is showing off
    pieces of the meteor
    that broke all the windows in Chelyabinsk.
    One little boy is eating a wild apple,
    spitting out the rosy skin.
    A woman with a British accent
    is secretly laughing at my jokes.
    I never tell jokes!
    All this happiness is strange
    like something from out there.
    Like the smell of a flower
    that blooms only during an eclipse.
    I love being this happy.
    Soon the world will return to its old ways.
    People will forget
    that the sun was eaten.
    They will go back to their lives,
    whatever they do
    between eclipses.
    How is this possible?
    How pale the light.
     
     
    --

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  • The Virtues of Tearing Down Statues Depends on Where They are Standing
    Remembering history's good; celebrating it, not so much
    by: 
    Dave Lindorff

     

    I was a Fulbright professor of journalism in 1991, posted for a year in the Graduate School of Journalism at China's prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai.

    Over the year I made many friends among the faculty and especially among my graduate students, many of whom had been democracy activists, either in Beijing or in Shanghai, during the events of the Tiananmen occupation and eventual crushing of that movement. during 1989, two years before my arrival.

    At the time I was in China, there were very few statues of Mao Zedong, the celebrated leader of the victorious Chinese Communist revolution. Because of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and earlier anti-rightist campaigns he had orchestrated, his reputation had understandably and deservedly suffered badly.

    As a result, while Mao statues had been ubiquitous all over China only a decade earlier, by the time I arrived (20 years after having graduated with a degree in Chinese language and plans to go to China to witness and write about the "glories" of the Cultural Revolution), I found in Shanghai only two remaining statues of the Chairman -- one inside the entrance gate to Tongji University, a technical school, and one inside the front gate of Fudan University.

    The Tongji statue featured a younger Mao posed in a romantic stance waiving to his people. The Fudan statue had a more forbidding stance, quite tall, representing the chairman in his formal Mao suit, feet together, and arms clasped behind his back, looking sternly down at the viewer. The statue had been designed to look even bigger and more imposing than it was by the enlargement of the feet and the bottom of the legs (much like an R Crumb cartoon), with the body shrinking to a much too small head at the top to give the illusion of height.
     Do we need to see their statues every day in the public square?Mao Zedong and Robert E Lee: Do we need to see their statues every day in the public square?
     

    I asked a friend, a Fudan professor who had lived through the anti-rightist campaign of the '50s as well as the Cultural Revolution, why those two statues had been left standing, while all the others seemed to have been eliminated in Shanghai and most of China.

    He smiled wanly and said, using a very Chinese turn of phrase, "They left the statues so we would never forget...and so that we would never forget."

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  • Justice Department's Dreamhost Subpoena Ramps Up the Police State!
    Visiting a website could make you a subpoena target
    by: 
    Alfredo Lopez

     

    If the U.S. Department of Justice prevails in a case against web-hosting provider Dreamhost, you can become the subject of a criminal investigation by visiting a website.

    You don't have to re-read that. The problem is not with your eyes; it's with your government. If the courts uphold this Justice Department action, the erosion of your privacy rights on the Internet, a process that began with the Patriot Act and picked up full-steam under the Obama administration, will have been completed under President Donald Trump.

    A major pillar of a police state will now be in place.

    You visit. You are a target.You visit. You are a target.

    The sorry saga starts last January when the Justice Department began investigating people who had been organizing protests at Trump's inauguration. In this unsavory combination of the federal government's increasingly intrusive actions and Trump's megamania, Justice lawyers presented Dreamhost with a search warrant on a website -- Disruptj20.org -- which was being used to organize those actions.

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