Daily Alert

30 May 2008

Birds of a Feather: J Street and Obama

J Street: Israel Should 'Talk With its Enemies'
by Hana Levi Julian(IsraelNN.com) 25 Iyar 5768, May 30, '08

A new American Jewish lobby group put its left foot forward this week during an interview with a US-based weekly, with its executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, claiming that most Jews support "an end to the occupation and a Palestinian state."

Ben-Ami's group, a new lobby organization dubbed "J Street" made its debut a scant month ago, with its name a "hip" way of placing a finger on the pulse in downtown Washington, where J Street does not exist, and where K Street is rife with lobbyists. J Street is a double-play on words, also standing for "Jerusalem Street."

In the May 27 interview with Newsweek magazine, Ben-Ami underscored his group's belief that the so-called two-state solution is "actually an essential element of a pro-Israel agenda." He also said that the new lobby hopes to break up the "alliance between the neo-cons, the radical right of the Christian Zionist movement and the far-right portions of the Jewish community that has really locked up what it means to be pro-Israel."

The new leftist lobby group's leader stated that Israel should "talk with its enemies," including Hamas, and that the US needs to exert further pressure on Israel to restrict the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

"We have absolutely no problem taking a position that says the actions and policies of the Israeli government are counterproductive and not in the best interests, in our opinion, of either Israel or the United States," said Ben-Ami.

Less than three weeks ago, the left-wing lobbyist wrote in a May 11 opinion piece for the Washington Post newspaper that allowing a Jewish presence to grow in Judea and Samaria was akin to a friend enabling his buddy to drive drunk.

"Criticize or question Israeli behavior and you're labeled 'anti-Israel' [sic] or worse. But unquestioning encouragement for short-sighted Israeli policies such as expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank isn't real friendship. (Would a true friend not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road?) Israel needs real friends, not enablers," he wrote.

How interesting coincidences are? A new leftie 'Jewish'/'Israel' thoughtfulness-defying lobby group has arisen advocating the same self-destructive policies preached by Barry H. Obama. And, wouldn't you know it, they claim to be Jews! Isn't it perceived that Barry H.O. has a Jewish vote problem and his credentials regarding the welfare of Israel are in doubt? Isn't talking to the enemy one of Barry's foreign policy planks? Must be one of those flukes of nature. This effort may represent a new round in anti-Israel advocacy by the Jewish left, ever seeking to divide itself from religious thought while drawing near to the bible of liberalism reminiscent of the Yevsektsiya of the motherland. Should Barry be elected President, chas v'shalom, expect to see these people ascend in influence until they are no longer needed.

Couple of points. Why is the left so backward? It reminds of Algore's "Everything that should be down is up. Everything that should be up is down." comment. Let me get this straight. J Street's agenda is drive a wedge between Jews and Israel supporters correct? That equates to the "everything that should be down is up". Then, J Street advocates talking to the barbarian Palis and living side by side with them, as they squat on Jewish land. That then equates to "everything that should be up is down". Essentially, J Street's goal is to "re-invent" advocacy. Their goal is not to help Israel secure her future, but to build the future in the image of Barry H.O. What do you need all that land for anyway, selfish Jews? " "We" think you should give your land to your enemy so the vision of peace will be fulfilled." Maybe Algore should be speaking for J Street instead?

A Personal Message to Jeremy Ben-Ami,
when you advocate talking to and settling your enemy on land they are trying currently to steal and have pledged not to stop until the destruction of your country and your people, thereby promoting a situation where death and violence is the result, your are indeed anti-Israel and antiJew.

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27 May 2008

Would Jesus Drive a Ford?

California Ford Dealership Radio Ad Tells Non-Christians To "Sit Down And Shut Up" - Consumerist

Kieffe and Sons, a California Ford dealership, decided for some reason to launch a radio ad attacking non-Christians and people who believe that prayer shouldn't be in public schools. Audio and transcript of the ad, inside.
The ad reads:

Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, "Under God" out of the Pledge, and "In God We Trust" to be taken off our money?
But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Now, since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians who believe in God, we at Kieffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don't just tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess maybe I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case, then I say that's tough, this is America folks, it's called free speech. And none of us at Kieffe & Sons Ford are afraid to speak up. Kieffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond: if we don't see you today, by the grace of God, we'll be here tomorrow.

The ad has been running on radio stations in southern California since at least February, according to one blogger. She wrote to Ford headquarters, but received a reply that because the dealerships are independently owned and operated, she should get in touch with the management at the dealership.

Audio at Consumerist

Given Ford Motor Companies serious financial trouble, you think they would care more what message is being conveyed under their banner. Its also a pretty stupid way to sell cars in a competitive market with plenty of auto dealers from which to choose. I wonder if Kieffe & Sons Ford were to be the target of a boycott campaign they would be as strong of a proponent of free speech? Now I am not suggesting that a boycott should be organized, but it would be interesting to watch the calculations being made, sell cars or sell Yoshke.

Now, their point is not frivolous, but the conclusion that only Xtians care for
G-d in the public sphere is stupid. Anyone who knows anything about Judaism, knows that 'In G-d We Trust' is a mitzvah on the minds of Jewish people, especially those who publicly where a kippah and tzitzis in dangerous places. Then, it isn’t such a stretch, to believe that the person who alone pretends to be a servant of G-d on earth is also the first one who would ask the question many Jews have heard 'why do you wear those things in public', a question usually combined with either a revealed or concealed secondary question, 'why do you need to be so public with your faith'. It is a difficult role indeed to merely be an instrument in the hands of the Divine and not the focus of History.

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Visions of Fraud - Agriprocessors Cheshbon Nefesh

Part of the teshuva process for Agriprocessors employees, managers, owners, etc. whomever the scales of justice will eventually point to as responsible for the employment fraud in Postville, IA, should be to read this article every day for at least a year. It documents the difficulties of an American consumer whose identity was stolen to enable an illegal resident to work. APRPEH briefly explained in theory, the reality this consumer, subject of the post by Bob Sullivan of MSNBC had to undertake in order to solve her identity theft process. The tough part here is that even with professional assistance, the victim must still actively play a role in the restoration. There is no easy way out of a SSN fraud.

Pay close attention to the part of the story where the victim relates the difficulty of facing an employment only identity theft where the identity was not used for credit purposes. We have a backward morality in this country. Employment or SSN fraud is just as vicious a crime as fraudulently taking out a Visa or Mastercard and should be treated as a serious criminal offense. Don't ask me to feel sorry for the perpetrator who merely wished to work in the US. The article below is long but worth the effort.

Posted: Tuesday, May 27 at 06:00 am CT by Bob Sullivan

Like arriving home to see a broken window, Holli knew something was wrong when she pulled up the statement from her new 401(k) account and saw a stranger's name there. Under her name and account information, she found a second name: Paulino Rodriguez. But was it an accident, random vandalism or a serious crime? She opened the virtual door to her account and sorted through the broken glass. Her worst fears would soon be confirmed.

After some frantic research, Holli pieced together part of the story. Rodriguez, the 401(k) Web site revealed, lived in Escondido, Calif., about 90 minutes south of Holli’s home in Fountain Valley. He was a restaurant worker in an Escondido Burger King. This was no prank -- though Holli would soon feel like several government agencies, corporations and a criminal were having fun at her expense. She was a victim of something experts call Social Security number-only identity theft, generally committed by immigrants who don’t have the necessary credentials to work legally in the U.S.

Holli wondered what else the imposter had done to her credit and her good name. (Msnbc.com has agreed to conceal Holli’s identity in this story.)

Escondido is Ground Zero of the immigration debate. Just a few minutes north of the Mexican border, near San Diego, Escondido is home to thousands of Mexican immigrants who battle their way every day into the country and into gainful employment. Mexicans have been fighting in Escondido for a long time. Not far away, in 1846, U.S. forces were routed in the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican-American war, the worst American defeat of the conflict. Today, some say, Mexicans are again overwhelming American forces in a different kind of battle.

For the past three years, Paulino Rodriguez used Holli's Social Security number for the right to work at the Escondido Burger King. Recently, with his wife and four children, he took up residence in a middle-class subdivision on Espanas Glen Street in Escondido, a short block near Interstate 15.

Rodriguez, according U.S. immigration officials, is a Mexican national with no right to work in the United States. But thanks in part to Holli’s Social Security number, he had found a decent life for his family in Escondido, which means "hidden" in Spanish. But that that life was safe only if no one found out he was sharing Holli's identity.

Across America, perhaps millions of U.S. citizens are sharing their identities with undocumented workers who are virtually hiding behind Social Security numbers like Rodriguez. The data on the subject are incomplete, but each year nearly 10 million workers pay their taxes using the wrong Social Security number. While this can happen for a variety of reasons, most often it involves restaurant and farm workers, suggesting many of those 10 million workers are employees who are using someone else's SSN to satisfy federal employment requirements.

Information at her fingertips
Holli, a woman in her 50s, panicked one month ago when she saw Rodriguez’s name on her 401(k) account, then she started putting the pieces together. It wasn't hard -- she had all of Rodriguez's personal information right there on her screen, including his age: 38. She called his employer, Reddy Restaurants Inc., which supplies workers to Burger King. Holli says she was told that nothing could be done because Rodriguez fulfilled the requirements for employment when he started work -- namely, he supplied what appeared to be a valid Social Security card.

Mike Holly, owner of Reddy, confirmed that Rodriguez was an employee but refused to otherwise discuss the situation.

Holli then called the local police, who took a report but said nothing could be done. She contacted the Social Security Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, even her 401(k) administrator. The message she heard from each was the same: We can’t help you. She even went to an attorney, who delivered bad news.

"(He) said since my credit hadn't been affected, they couldn't do anything for me," Holli recalled.

But Holli was persistent. She eventually convinced her local police department to take a report, and to forward it to Escondido police. Then, she pestered the dispatcher in Escondido enough that the file was passed on to the investigations department. Detective Damon Vander Vorst took an interest in the case.

Rodriguez entered the country nearly 20 years ago, public records suggest. It's unclear where in Mexico he grew up, or how he crossed the border. At about the same time, Holli was just starting her career.
Precisely when their lives were blended isn't clear. But about three years ago, Holli remembers getting a funny look from a clerk while she was filling out insurance paperwork at an optometrist’s office. "There's someone else's using that (SSN) number," she remembers being told. Then, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but the name Paulino Rodriguez."

Holli assumed it was an error. But around that same time, Rodriguez signed up with Reddy Restaurants and began working -- using her SSN -- at Burger King.

Holli has no solid information on how her number was stolen, but she has one guess: About five years ago she was laid off from her job and went back to school to finish her college degree in finance. Her school, Long Beach State, used her SSN as her ID number during that time. Her first brush with Rodriguez happened within a few months of her graduation.

Three years passed without incident. Then in April, she opened up the Web site for a new company benefit – a 401(k) plan – and saw the name Paulino Rodriguez again. Holli’s heart sank and her quest began. It ended a month later when she talked to Vander Vorst. On May 13, Vander Vorst staked out a home in a gated subdivision named Villas Espanas, waiting for his suspect.

While there is an obvious Latino majority, the neighborhood looks just like any other middle-class San Diego suburb, full of neat white stucco townhomes with red-tile roofs. Most store signs are in English only. A dry cleaner, grocery store, and school are just a few blocks away. During a recent visit by an msnbc.com reporter at midday, the neighborhood was quiet. The subdivision has a large pool; hanging in Rodriguez’s front window, three pairs of child-sized goggles were visible from the sidewalk.

Just outside the home, Vander Vorst arrested Rodriguez. Police allege he had falsified Social Security card and work visa.

Getting such documents is hardly an obstacle for illegal immigrants seeking work. Fake Social Security cards and work visas can be purchased in Los Angeles for around $200, law enforcement officials say -- a small investment for the opportunity to work in the United States.

Rodriguez was charged with identity theft and with falsifying government documents, according to Escondido police spokesman Lt. Craig Carter. He was shipped to nearby Vista Detention Facility, where he awaits his fate on the criminal charges. meanwhile, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency has placed a "hold" on him. That means he is "subject to deportation," according to Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for ICE.

Rodriguez refused an interview request by an MSNBC.com free-lance reporter who visited the jail.

Mixed feelings
Holli had mixed feelings when she began her quest to track down her imposter.

"When all this began a month and a half ago, I was worried I might be ruining his life when all he wanted to do was work," she said. But the bureaucratic tangle had changed her. "Now after spending numerous hours of my time trying to find out what is going on as well as worrying, losing sleep and using my work vacation time, I no longer feel bad for Paulino. He made the choice to steal my number. And the fact that privacy laws keep me from being able to see what he is doing with my number infuriates me."

She also fears possible retribution for her actions; that’s why she insisted that msnbc.com preserve her anonymity. She also wants to prevent Rodriguez from finding out who she is. Generally, SSN imposters don't commit full-blown identity theft, and don't know who their victims are – Rodriguez likely never even knew Holli’s name.

Immigrant imposters usually just provide a Social Security card to their employer on their first day of work to fulfill what's known as the “I-9” requirement. Since new employment rules took effect in 1983, U.S. workers must supply documentation to prove they are eligible to work; nearly always, a Social Security number is used. While employers can call the Social Security Administration to perform limited verification of the information, that's seldom done. So it's possible -- in fact common -- that employees’ names and numbers don't match. When that happens, no one gets credit for the taxes paid by the worker. The money simply ends up in the U.S. Treasury. Since 1983, more than $500 billion in uncredited Social Security wages have been earned by so-called "no match" employees like Rodriguez. That hidden financial benefit for the government is one reason, Holli suspects, that agencies don't act more quickly on reports of SSN-only identity theft.

San Diego-based immigration rights advocate Lilia Velasquez sees similar cases in her practice all the time. Imposters run the spectrum from hardened criminals who ultimately take out loans in the victim's name to well-intentioned Mexicans who are simply doing what they need to do to get a job and feed their families.
"It's not that these people intentionally and maliciously stole someone's name and identity. ... They may feel that they are using the number out of sheer need," she said.

But victims like Holli should do what they need to do to protect their identities, Velasquez said. "That's a situation which needs to be investigated until the issue is resolved."

37 people shared one SSN
If not, what appears to be a simple bout of ID theft can spin out of control. Immigrant workers who successfully use someone else's identity can pass the information around. Three years ago, a Chicago-area victim named Linda Trevino discovered that her Social Security Number had been used by workers at 37 different companies.

When another person is using a consumers' Social Security Number for employment purposes only, there is almost no way to discover the identity theft. The misuse will not show up on a credit report; it won't be detected by credit monitoring. Because the wages earned are not credited to the victim, they won't show up on annual Social Security statements either. In fact, there is no way for anyone to inspect the history of their Social Security Number, or to find out where and when it's been used. Only an anomaly or coincidence – such as having an imposter show up on a 401(k) Web site -- betrays the theft.

That's why this is an important victory for Holli; she's among the first to find her SSN imposter and stop the ID theft. Of course, she has no way of knowing if her identity is now secure, because her number may have been used by other immigrants.

"The fact that I can check my credit but not my whole credit is absurd," she said. "In any case, this is my identifier that follows me around and I should be able to protect myself (and my identifier) by knowing what is attached to it." She plans on urging Congress to fix the problem. Meanwhile, she’s left with a sour taste in her mouth -- she acted in self-defense, but worries that some will see her as a villain who caused Rodriguez’s arrest. She’s angry at the criminal who stole her identity and at the system which put her in this compromising situation.

The future of Rodriguez and his family is unclear. If his children are U.S. citizens, law enforcement officials say, he may be allowed to remain in the U.S.. Otherwise, deportation is a likely outcome, but not right away. Before the immigration issue is settled, he will likely face state criminal ID theft charges in state court.

Jacqueline Dizdul reported from San Diego.

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24 May 2008

Conservative Socialism: Agriprocessors and Hekhsher Tzedek

Reconsidering AgriProcessors products - JTA

Published: 05/22/2008

The leadership of the U.S. Conservative movement is urging Jews to consider not patronizing AgriProcessors, the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse.

In a joint statement released Thursday evening, the movement's Rabbinical Association and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism declared themselves “shocked and appalled” at working conditions at AgriProcessors, which is under federal investigation for employing illegal aliens. The groups asked their members “to evaluate whether it is appropriate to consume Rubashkin products until this situation is addressed.”

The advisory extends not only to products bought retail but also to meat and poultry bought at restaurants and for private functions such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.

The statement falls short of the boycott hoped for by the more activist wing of the Conservative rabbinate, and leaves the decision in the hands of the individual consumer.

Still, Rabbi Morris Allen, head of the movement's hekhsher tzedek commission, said that "it is the first statement from the organized Jewish community that reminds people they need to evaluate the food they purchase and eat" from an ethical perspective.

No other Jewish movement has issued a statement on the issue.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union of Reform Judaism, said it was appropriate that the Conservative movement take the lead because unlike the Reform movement, the Conservative movement calls on its members to keep kosher.

Noting his own “deep distress” at the news coming out of Postville, Iowa, where AgriProcessors is located, Yoffie said it is “absolutely” time for the Jewish community to demand similar investigations into all kosher slaughterhouses, because the case “has raised suspicions about all kosher food.”

Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of the Orthodox Union’s kosher department, the largest kosher certifier of AgriProcessors, said the O.U. is awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings against the company before coming to any decision. If AgriProcessors is found guilty of criminal charges, he said, the O.U. will withdraw its kosher certification.

Meat and poultry produced by AgriProcessors is sold under the following kosher and non-kosher labels: Aaron’s Best, Aaron’s Choice, David’s, European Glatt, Iowa Best Beef, Nevel, Rubashkin’s, Shor Habor, and Supreme Kosher.


Let's be clear on one point before we begin. APRPEH has been strongly critical of Agriprocessors for at the very least facilitating a situation for large scale disregard for the rule of law. The recent ICE raid which swept up hundreds of illegal workers (who to be honest would have found employment elsewhere) on charges of aggravated identity theft which as explaned here is a great hassle for the consumers whose identity was used to work under (provided they didn't know, but that is another matter) and at the very least is embarrassing to all kosher consumers and Jews.

Breaking this down to the core issue, it is not about kashrus but identity theft and criminal behavior. As pointed out in a follow up post, here Rabbi Weissmandel claims that the kashrus is unaffected. An interesting dilemma for the OU will be if they determine based upon a legal not kashrus justification to remove their approval for Agriprocessor products while Nitra-Monsey maintains his hashgacha. Ask around and see who would take the OU over Nitra? Anyhow, I digress.

What irritates me almost as much as Agriprocessor's callous business practices is the Conservativists effort to use this unfortunate episode threatening to reduce the kosher meat supply in the country at least in the short term to give some meaning to their vacuous hekhsher tzedek program which inturn, is merely an effort to give meaning to "Conservativism".

Essentially, the hekhsher tzedek program is an attempt to garner new energy and give credibility to a movement in decay, losing members (see - The Road to Sdom) both to Reformism and traditional Judaism. The self-righteousness of the comments above is sickening. For a "movement" which does not accept or believe in the divine origin of Torah, makes up "new" halacha and is comprised of large majorities of members who keep little or very liberal interpretations of kashrus, let alone Shabbos, the "ethical eating" manifesto falls on deaf ears.

The statement falls short of the boycott hoped for by the more activist wing of the Conservative rabbinate, and leaves the decision in the hands of the individual consumer.
In the end, classical Conservativist thought carried the day, much to the dismay of those who radical conservativists who wished for a boycott, not on kashrus grounds but with an eye to what they think is social justice. And that is, in the end, what is truly happening. Hekhsher tzedek is merely a socialist wolf in a kipah, (but only in the sanctuary).

And for the icing on the cake, look at the cynical comments espoused by the crown prince of Reformism, the ever laughable Eric Yoffie:
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union of Reform Judaism, said it was appropriate that the Conservative movement take the lead because unlike the Reform movement, the Conservative movement calls on its members to keep kosher.

Noting his own “deep distress” at the news coming out of Postville, Iowa, where AgriProcessors is located, Yoffie said it is “absolutely” time for the Jewish community to demand similar investigations into all kosher slaughterhouses, because the case “has raised suspicions about all kosher food.”

Yoffie thinks this is a great way to make kosher meat all but impossible to find which in his own weird calculation, helps his G-dless "movement".

I certainly hope the OU will consider only kashrus issues as it reviews matters with Agriprocessors. I fully sympathize with the idea that as Jews we should not support wilful violation of law. We also must recognize that a tircha on the tzibbor such as making meat and poultry hard to find outside the big cities has to be the higher priority. Work with Agriprocessors to fix their hiring practices and stipulate conditions for future supervision of these practices by all means. But leave the US law to the US courts and kashrus to the mashgiach. And while working conditions for employees must also be a consideration, it must not be removed from the context of the industry. Agriprocessors or any other kosher meat processing company can be expected to lead the industry in working conditions and safety but it cannot be expected to act in ways which are unrealistic given market factors.

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22 May 2008

Lifelock's Todd Davis: Identity for Sale

Fraud-prevention pitchman becomes ID theft victim

CNN via AP

Story Highlights:

  • Man reportedly obtained loan using Social Security number of LifeLock spokesman

  • Todd Davis regularly gives out Social Security number in ads for ID security company

  • Customers file lawsuit, claiming Lifelock did not provide protection as advertised

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- Todd Davis has dared criminals for two years to try stealing his identity: Ads for his fraud-prevention company, LifeLock, even offer his Social Security number next to his smiling mug.

Now, LifeLock customers in Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia are suing Davis, claiming his service didn't work as promised and he knew it wouldn't, because the service had failed even him.

Attorney David Paris said he found records of other people applying for or receiving driver's licenses at least 20 times using Davis' Social Security number, though some of the applications may have been rejected because data in them didn't match what the Social Security Administration had on file.

Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online payday loan operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number.

Paris said the fact Davis' records were compromised at all supports the claim that Tempe, Arizona-based LifeLock doesn't provide the comprehensive protection its advertisements say it does.

"It's further evidence of the ineffectiveness of the services that LifeLock advertises," said Paris, who is lead attorney on the three new lawsuits, the latest of which was filed this month.

Davis learned about the fraud in Texas when the payday-loan outfit called to collect on the loan, he said. He didn't get an alert beforehand because the company didn't go through one of the three major credit bureaus before approving the transaction.

Davis said it's possible driver's licenses have been issued to other people in his name because of the widespread availability of his personal information -- and because of what he described as the flimsy mechanisms in place to report that kind of fraud.

Paris noted that LifeLock charges $10 a month to set fraud alerts with credit bureaus, even though consumers can do it themselves for free.

But Davis stands by his company and his advertising gimmick, which has appeared in newspapers and on billboards, radio and MTV. He even broadcasts it by bullhorn on walking tours through crowded downtowns.

"There's nothing on my actual credit report about uncollected funds, no outstanding tickets or warrants or anything," he said. "There's nothing to indicate my identity has been successfully compromised other than the one instance. I know I'm taking a slightly higher risk. But I'll take my risk for the tremendous benefit we're bringing to society and to consumers."

The lawsuits, for which Paris is seeking class-action status, highlight the fundamental limits on how much security identity-theft companies can provide.

Companies like LifeLock can help guard against only certain types of financial fraud by helping consumers set up alerts with credit bureaus, which inform them when someone tries to open a new line of credit or boost their credit limit to finance a buying binge, for example.

The services don't guard against many types of identity theft such as use of a stolen Social Security number on a job application or for medical services, or even the instance of an arrestee giving police a stolen Social Security number to shield his own identity.

LifeLock is also being sued in Arizona over its $1 million service guarantee, which the plaintiffs claim is misleading because it only covers a defect in LifeLock's service, and in California by the Experian credit bureau. Experian accuses LifeLock of deceiving consumers about the breadth of its protection and abusing the system for attaching fraud alerts to credit reports.

Security experts say complaints about the company reinforce the time-honored wisdom of keeping your Social Security number secret.

"There's been a lot of marketing, a lot of hype about LifeLock," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. "The question is, 'How much protection does it really buy you?"'

"There is no company that can guarantee they can protect you (completely) against identity theft," Stephens said. "Absolutely nobody can do that."

"There's nothing on my actual credit report about uncollected funds, no outstanding tickets or warrants or anything," he said. "There's nothing to indicate my identity has been successfully compromised other than the one instance. I know I'm taking a slightly higher risk.

Have you ever seen such a self serving comment as this? "My identity" is safe, nevermind the fouled up records of state DMVs, the inaccurate records and safety concerns of who knows how many illegally licensed drivers acquired a motor vehicle operator's license using the PII of Todd Davis, creep in chief of Lifelock. Whether it is illegal workers or terrorists or felons, Todd Davis's lust for competitive greed has served well the needs of the "bad guys", perpetrators of identity theft seeking to skirt the law to illegally obtain motor vehicle operator permits.

Then he has the audacity to say:
But I'll take my risk for the tremendous benefit we're bringing to society and to consumers."
I hope Lifelock customers are carefully watching how callous and cavalier the creep in chief of Lifelock is concerning the law of the land. APRPEH has discussed the mis-adventures of Lifelock in previous posts and pointed out that the fraud alert will cure all hysterics will not prevent identity theft and should never be considered blanket protection against identity theft. Based upon the article above, the word may be getting out now that identity theft is more than credit accounts:
Companies like LifeLock can help guard against only certain types of financial fraud by helping consumers set up alerts with credit bureaus, which inform them when someone tries to open a new line of credit or boost their credit limit to finance a buying binge, for example.

The services don't guard against many types of identity theft such as use of a stolen Social Security number on a job application or for medical services, or even the instance of an arrestee giving police a stolen Social Security number to shield his own identity.

To all those companies out there selling services similar to what Lifelock does, and there are plenty of others, I say watchout, a class action suit is coming your way. A simple reading of paragraph 605A of the Fair Credit Reporting Act using the logic of a layman will render that fraud alerts are for intended for "the consumer{that} has been or is about to become a victim of fraud or related crime, including identity theft.." and for their protection:
a user of such consumer report shall contact the consumer using that telephone number or take reasonable steps to verify the consumer's identity and confirm that the application for a new credit plan is not the result of identity theft.
The whole subsection is below or see the FCRA in it's entirety. Anyone selling fraud alerts as the way to guarantee protection against identity theft is a fraud.

To recap, there are two main problems with the Lifelock approach:
1) credit issuers do not have to make a telephone call to verify the credit application
2) only about 20%-25% according to the FTC of all identity theft will be reported to a credit bureau meaning the fraud alert will not be read and no verification of the consumer's interest in the transaction, whatever transaction it might be, will be made.

(B) Limitation on Users
(i) In general. No prospective user of a consumer report that includes an
initial fraud alert or an active duty alert in accordance with this section
may establish a new credit plan or extension of credit, other than under
an open-end credit plan (as defined in section 103(i)), in the name of
the consumer, or issue an additional card on an existing credit account
requested by a consumer, or grant any increase in credit limit on an
existing credit account requested by a consumer, unless the user
utilizes reasonable policies and procedures to form a reasonable belief
that the user knows the identity of the person making the request.
(ii) Verification. If a consumer requesting the alert has specified a
telephone number to be used for identity verification purposes, before
authorizing any new credit plan or extension described in clause (i) in
the name of such consumer, a user of such consumer report shall
contact the consumer using that telephone number or take reasonable
steps to verify the consumer's identity and confirm that the application
for a new credit plan is not the result of identity theft.

previous APRPEH Id theft articles related to Lifelock:

Lifelock Brainblock Lifeblock Brainlock
Lifelock Getting Picked
Identity Protection Shopping
Minors and Identity
As G. Gordon Liddy Would Say..Suckers

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19 May 2008

McCain Redeemed, Rubin Exposed - Obama Still Favorite of Terrorists

McCain Accused of Hypocrisy Over Hamas, Obama
by Gil Ronen 14 Iyar 5768, 19 May 08 06:07
(IsraelNN.com) The Republican candidate for President, Senator John McCain, is being accused of "hypocrisy" for criticizing Sen. Barack Obama over his stated policy of dialogue with Iran and other enemies, when McCain himself previously stated the U.S. will have to "deal" with Hamas.

McCain previously attacked Obama because of an interview for WND and WABC in which Ahmed Yousef, a top Hamas official, voiced hope that Obama would become president. Yousef, Hamas's chief political advisor in Gaza, also compared Obama to John F. Kennedy.

The Huffington Post, which is considered pro-Obama, has featured a video from a 2006 television interview in which McCain himself implied an eventual willingness for U.S. talks with Hamas.

'They're the government'
When asked about the possibility of conducting talks with Hamas following their victory in the PA elections, McCain said: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy toward Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so... But it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

McCain was speaking on Sky News to former Clinton State Department official James Rubin. In an op-ed in the Washington Post last Friday, Rubin blasted McCain, saying that "given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election." He also accused McCain of "smearing" Obama in quoting Hamas's praise for him.

Conservative bloggers conducted some research of their own, however, and discovered that on the same day as the Rubin interview, McCain spoke to CNN and made it clear that the only way the U.S. can "do business again" with Hamas-led Gaza is if Hamas renounces terror.

'We like Mr. Obama'
In the interview cited by McCain, Hamas's Yousef stated: "We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections. I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse... I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principle. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance."

McCain released the following statement in response to the latest accusations: "There should be no confusion, John McCain has always believed that serious engagement would require mandatory conditions and Hamas must change itself fundamentally - renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept a two state solution. John McCain's position is clear and has always been clear, the President of the United States should not unconditionally meet with leaders of Iran, Hamas or Hizbullah. Barack Obama has made his position equally clear, and has pledged to meet unconditionally with Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of other rogue regimes, which shows incredibly dangerous and weak judgment."

Will Jews defeat Obama?
Leading independent Democrats fear that if their party nominates Obama to run against McCain, the Jewish vote will help contribute to a Democratic loss in November, CBS reported last month. The network study said that Sen. Obama's rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, has not stated out loud what she believes--"that if Obama is the nominee a likely Democratic victory would turn to a near-certain defeat."

CBS noted that Sen. Obama lost the Jewish vote in Florida by double-digits. It said that an Obama victory in the primaries would forge an unusual alliance of Hispanics, blue-collar whites and Jews who would help send Sen. McCain to the White House.

In the APRPEH post on Friday, 16 May Two Campaigns, Two Candidates, One Israel I questioned the nature of the remarks reported by James Rubin and left for McCain to interpret what he meant by "dealt with" in reference to a PA government led by Hamas. The story that Rubin and Huffington were trying to sell is that McCain is no different that Obama seeking negotiations with terrorists and the enemies of freedom. McCain's remarks seem to be, when viewed in context with the CNN interview given the same day as the Rubin interview and posted by Hotair (also on Friday) reveal at least a few pre-conditions, albeit conditions for which Hamas could never comply. Obama still cannot be trusted with the security of the American people, even if McCain may have 'gaffed' on the Rubin interview. McCain has made his position clear. And unlike Barry H.O., McCain has a track record on this issue and doesn't hang out with terrorists and gangsters.

Ed Morrisey at Hotair in the article referred to above had this to say regarding Rubin:
The context here is crystal clear. McCain envisioned a possible change in Hamas from a terrorist group to a legitimate political party, one that recognized Israel and renounced violence. Under those conditions, McCain said that we could engage them in talks designed to establish peace, and only under those conditions. The Bush administration had the same policy at the time. Neither the US nor John McCain supported meeting with Hamas without preconditions, and they certainly didn’t have policy advisers meeting with them while they conducted terrorist attacks and plotted an armed takeover of Gaza.

This attack meme demonstrates a breathtaking bit of intellectual dishonesty. We expect that from the hard Left. Coming from the Washington Post, even in its opinion section, it disappoints. So much for the layers of fact-checkers and editors. And now that our friends on the Left have acknowledged the terrorist status of Hamas, can they explain Malley’s presence on the Obama campaign for months while his connections to Hamas were fairly well known?

It remains to be seen whether or not McCain actually believes the conventional wisdom stuff of 'if only Hamas would renounce terrorism and recognize Israel' we could begin negotiations over ending the conflict. Hamas would sooner advocate conversion to Catholicism and renouncing Islam before recognizing Israel's right to exist. Such ideas are for diplomatic naivete, also known as disparity in truth. There is an Israel and there are barbarians.

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16 May 2008

Two Campaigns, Two Candidates, One Israel

Israelinsider.com reviews a quote from Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Barry H. Obama. This interview was spun earlier in the week as an example of how Obama is really a good friend of Israel and in this way is no different than his competitors for the Presidency. Taken out of context, some of the quotes aren't bad. Taken in context, that is, with respect to Obama's associations, one can begin to see a picture of someone not fully prepared to be Commander in Chief. Sure, most of the words are pleasing, albeit reflective of leftist and conventional wisdom dogma, but is it possible that Obama went off script when it comes to the reference from Israelinsider.com, or is this part a reflection of his advisor's points of view? I contend, that it is impossible for both versions of the Obama POV below to co-exist, at least in a thoughtful, educated person. One cannot on one hand say

"The point is, if you look at my writings and my history, my commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is more than skin-deep and it’s more than political expediency."
and then say
JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?

BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.

On one hand Obama wants the reader to hear how his commitment to Israel is "more than political expediency" and on the other he believes that it is Israel's fault for the "inexcusable actions" faced by America in the Middle East. This is a truth test. Those who actually understand the Middle East to the extent possible that is, realize that Israel is merely a convenient target for arabians and fascist Islam.

The premise of the Obama thought process is that Israel is the reason for regional strife. It is a funny thing to say with approximately 150,000 US combat forces in Iraq today. It is funny to say when Ahmadinejad's drive to achieve nuclear weapons threatens American power in the region. It is a funny thing to say when much cold war thought was given to how to prevent a Soviet southern strategy to achieve a warm water port through Iran. It is a funny thing to say when oil supplies through a dangerously unstable Middle East can make the difference between healthy economic growth and worldwide depression (nevermind Islamic imperialism). All of these, of course hinge on Israel. To believe that Israel is what shakes up the region and is the cause of what makes or breaks these dynamics is warped thinking and an indication of what sort of non-sense Obama is being fed by his advisors.

What was missing from the Obama interview is what we heard from President Bush this week during his tour of Israel.
Speaking of the "promise of God" for a "homeland for the chosen people" in Israel, Bush told the Israeli parliament after a visit to the Roman-era Jewish fortress at Masada: "Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you."

He predicted the defeat of Islamist enemies Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda in a "battle of good and evil".

Letting Iran have nuclear weapons would be an "unforgivable betrayal of future generations", he said. By comparing talking with such foes to appeasement of Hitler, he sparked a debate at home among those campaigning to succeed him as president.

Bush described the "bonds of the Book" -- faith in the Bible shared by Christians like himself and Jews -- as bolstering an "unbreakable" alliance between Israel and the United States. Al Reuters coverage

It is such talk which is why I can say that while President Bush has made historic jumps in prose talking about a Pali state and such, meanwhile nothing has really happened to advance that "goal". President Bush believes that the Jews and Israel are part of a Biblical covenant. It is this such commitment that permits me to believe Bush and not believe Obama. BO had every chance in the Goldberg interview to demonstrate that Israel is different. Obama's comments focus mostly upon Holocaust imagery, sympathy, yearning to go home, history uprooted, carving out democracy, re-birth, etc. Nowhere does he point out that he believes that Israel and the Jewish people have a Divine covenantal relationship with the land. Maybe, unlike Obama's stipulation in the interview that the Jewish community "suspicions" about him have to do with the endorsement he received from Hamas leadership, rather the "suspicions" have to do with a presidential candidate who thinks that Israel is just another political issue, one for which, expert advisors will tell him what to think and say.

Meanwhile, leftie James Rubin in the Washington Post recalls that John McCain told him in an interview in 2005 that Hamas, now the ruling party in Hamastan formally known as the PA, must be dealt with:
I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

I don't know what got into McCain when he said this in 2005. While only McCain can define "dealt with", I am taken aback by this comment. It isn't consistent with McCain's history with Israel which to the best of my recollection is pretty good. At the very least, the comments do not include the talking points tossed around by others such as Hillary and Obama that Hamas must fundamentally change its beliefs in order to be a partner. That’s right; Hamas must stop being Hamas but in name only to be a partner. Such liberal malarkey is characteristic of people for whom a belief is subject to the direction of the wind.

Obama: Israel is a "constant sore" that "infects all of our foreign policy"

By Israel Insider staff May 14, 2008

Barack Obama, interviewed in The Atlantic (complete interview) describes Israel as a "constant wound... a constant sore..." that serves to "infect all of our foreign policy." Jeffrey Goldberg asked him: "Do you think that Israel is a drag on America's reputation overseas?" His answer:

"No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I'm not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that's the safest ground politically."

Obama partisans claim that the Democratic frontrunner was referring to the Middle East conflict. But the antecedent to "this constant wound, that this constant sore" in the question is "Israel."

Rep. John Boehner, House Republican leader, suggested that the statement belies Obama's claims of friendship for Israel. "These sorts of words and characterizations are the words of a politician with a deep misunderstanding of the Middle East and an innate distrust of Israel," Boehner said in a statement.

But other Republicans criticized Boehner: U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, called Boehner's assertion "dishonest" and "desperate" in his own statement: "This absurd parsing would be laughable if it wasn't so sad to see the U.S.-Israel relationship used as a political wedge instead of a cause to unite all Americans around a common purpose," Wexler said.

In his interview Obama continues, harping on his opposition to Israel "settlement" policies, and saying that true friends of Israel should be critical of its policies: "I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we're going to be stuck in the same status quo that we've been stuck in for decades now, and that won't lift that existential dread that David Grossman described in your article."

"The notion that a vibrant, successful society with incredible economic growth and incredible cultural vitality is still plagued by this notion that this could all end at any moment -- you know, I don't know what that feels like, but I can use my imagination to understand it. I would not want to raise my children in those circumstances. I want to make sure that the people of Israel, when they kiss their kids and put them on that bus, feel at least no more existential dread than any parent does whenever their kids leave their sight. So that then becomes the question: is settlement policy conducive to relieving that over the long term, or is it just making the situation worse? That's the question that has to be asked."

Hypocrisy on Hamas
McCain Was for Talking Before He Was Against It

By James P. Rubin
Friday, May 16, 2008; A19

If the recent exchanges between President Bush, Barack Obama and John McCain on Hamas and terrorism are a preview of the general election, we are in for an ugly six months. Despite his reputation in the media as a charming maverick, McCain has shown that he is also happy to use Nixon-style dirty campaign tactics. By charging recently that Hamas is rooting for an Obama victory, McCain tried to use guilt by association to suggest that Obama is weak on national security and won't stand up to terrorist organizations, or that, as Richard Nixon might have put it, Obama is soft on Israel.

President Bush picked up this theme yesterday. Without naming Obama during his speech last night to Israel's Knesset, Bush suggested that Democrats want to "negotiate with terrorists" while Republicans want to fight terrorists.

The Obama campaign was right to criticize the president for his remarks and for engaging in partisan politics while overseas. Many presidents have said things abroad that could be construed as violating this unwritten rule of American politics. But it is hard to remember any president abusing the prestige of his office in as crude a way as Bush did yesterday. Charging your opponents with appeasement and likening them to Neville Chamberlain in the Knesset is a brutal blow. It is bad enough that Republicans use the politics of personal destruction here at home, but to deploy that kind of political weapon at an occasion as solemn as an American president addressing the parliament of a friendly government marks a new low.

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

For some Europeans in Davos, Switzerland, where the interview took place, that's a perfectly reasonable answer. But it is an unusual if not unique response for an American politician from either party. And it is most certainly not how the newly conservative presumptive Republican nominee would reply today.

Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

The writer, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International Affairs, was an assistant secretary of state and the State Department's chief spokesman during the Clinton administration.

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15 May 2008

Agriprocessors Reacts To ICE Raid

Press Release: Agriprocessors Addressing Challenges Following Worksite Enforcement Action
By Becky Ogann, KCRG
Story Created: May 15, 2008

This press release comes to TV9 from Jim Fallon who works in public relations counceling for CMA.

POSTVILLE, IA (May 15, 2008) – Agriprocessors, Inc., continues to make meaningful progress in addressing the challenges presented by the worksite enforcement action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies on May 12, 2008.

According to Chaim Abrahams, a company representative, Agriprocessors is concentrating its efforts on production.

“We were able to bring the plant back into operation the next day, and even though we’re not running at full capacity, we are able to resume production,” Abrahams said. “We are in the process of replacing workers so we can avoid any interruption of meeting customer needs for high quality products.”

Abrahams also noted that the company was in the process of enhancing its immigration compliance procedures.

“We are working with experts in immigration compliance to help us bolster our compliance efforts to employ only properly documented employees,” he said. “We have signed up for a government electronic verification program, and are working with our consultants on additional compliance measures that will enhance our hiring process.”

Agriprocessors also has launched an independent investigation into the circumstances which led to the worksite enforcement action, and is cooperating fully with the government.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families whose lives were disrupted and wish them the best,” Abrahams said.

Slaughterhouse launches own investigation - JTA

The U.S. kosher slaughterhouse raided by federal immigration agents has launched its own investigation.

Agriprocessors, the largest kosher meat producer in the country, announced Thursday that it was conducting a probe into the circumstances leading to Monday's raid. The company, located in Postville, Iowa, also said it was taking steps to improve compliance with federal immigration standards.

Agriprocessors was the target of what is being called the largest workplace raid in U.S. history, when federal agents surrounded its plant and took away 390 workers on immigration violations. A smaller number are being charged with criminal offenses as well, including identity fraud and using fake Social Security numbers.

"We are working with experts in immigration compliance to help us bolster our compliance efforts to employ only properly documented employees," said Chaim Abrahams, a company representative, in a statement.

Rabbi Moses Weissmandel, the top supervising rabbi at Agriprocessors, told JTA Thursday that the government allegations were categorically false. He was addressing claims in an affidavit that the drug methamphetamine was being produced at the site and that rabbinic supervisors had abused plant workers, the bulk of whom are Mexican and Guatemalan.

"I categorically say it's false, it's not true, it's a lie," he said.

Weissmandel did not address claims that the workers were illegal.

"That's not my department," he said.

Its nice to see Agriprocessors taking positive steps to address the problems and the negative publicity from the ICE raid. To recap, hundreds of illegally hired workers were engaged in employment for Agriprocessors, many of them making victims of American consumers. This is the basic definition of employment identity theft and the results of this sort of fraud cause American tax payers headaches and out of pocket expenses in order to correct their wage earnings reports with the IRS and to straighten out the record held by the Social Security Administration. Add to that the time and money spent by both of these agencies in dealing with fraud and the bigger picture starts to become clear.

In terms of worker verification programs, most of these are based upon verifying original documentation and screening a combination of name, Social Security Number and date of birth. (see USCIS E-Verify, the program Swift was using). If an illegal worker has been provided a full set of PII (personal identification information) of a consumer, a successful verification will be made. Rarely, likely almost never, does anyone verify the verification. Employment data is sent to the SSA which never attempts to account for discrepancies.

Rabbi Weissmandel can provide adequate cover for the kashrus aspects but not the legality or lack thereof in the policies followed by the HR department of Agriprocessors.

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Bush: No Appeasement - Obama: Did He Say That? Did He Really Say That?

Obama accuses Bush of smearing him as appeaser
Associated Press
'It is sad President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack,' says leading contender for Democratic nomination, believing US president's speech contained veiled criticism of his policies. White House: World does not revolve around Obama

Democrat Barack Obama accused President George W. Bush on Thursday of launching a "false political attack" with a comment about appeasing dictators.

The Democratic presidential candidate interpreted the remark as a slam against him but the White House denied that the comment was in any way directed at Obama.

In a speech to Israel's Knesset, Bush said that "some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along ... We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Responding with a statement, the Obama campaign seized on Bush's remarks even as it was unclear to whom Bush was referring.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement.

"George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.

"It is not," Press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to.

"I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case."

Obama, citing past US diplomacy with the Soviet Union and China, has said that as president he would personally negotiate with Iran and offer economic incentives and a chance for peaceful relations if Iranian leaders would forgo their pursuit of nuclear weapons and their support of terrorists.

At the same time, he has said he would strongly reject Iran's development of nuclear weapons, its anti-Semitic rhetoric and terrorist support.

For a lame duck, President Bush still can play the political game. It is of course true that the Bush remarks which caused the Barry H.O. campaign to lash out were aimed squarely at Barry. But to whom the Bush comments and Obama lash outs actually help is uncertain. While the Bush comments demonstrate consistency of thought for the administration and give some footing for John McCain to continue the WoT, the Obama people were probably chomping at the bit to take another shot at the president. Both sides may have scored some useful points in this episode.

Clearly Barry must know that his policy statement to enter negotiations with the enemies of the US is an appeasement based policy and at best appeasement-lite. And it is not at all a stretch to say that he was waiting for this opportunity. President Bush for his part is bearing the brunt for campaigning against the Obama policy and thereby doing McCain a favor insulating him from the attack politics of the Obama posse. This is, of course the same Obama team which never cowers from a contradiction in the most fashionable liberal style (Ex. Wright being a mentor but not knowing what he really believes all the while ridiculing Geraldine Ferraro for observations of race-politics.) Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to say that the illusion of Pres. Obama would be a strong President, thwarting aggressors all the while having kumbaya with the enemies of America.

Any realistic observer of arabia and islamic fundamentalism knows that seeking negotiations without a crushing victory is a sign of weakness and is interpreted as a kowtow. Yes, Barry you would be a hero for Paul Tsongas's pander bear fantasies. And yes, my holy Jewish friends, Obama would be a disaster for Israel.

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13 May 2008


May 13, 2008
Hundreds Are Arrested in U.S. Sweep of Meat Plant - NYT

In the biggest workplace immigration raid this year, federal agents swept into a kosher meat plant on Monday in Postville, Iowa, and arrested more than 300 workers.

The authorities said the workers were suspected of being in the United States illegally or of having participated in identity theft and the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not say how many people had been rounded up beyond the initial 300 or whether the management and owners of the plant, AgriProcessors, would face criminal charges.

The plant has 800 to 900 people and is the country’s largest producer of meat that is glatt kosher, widely regarded as the highest standard of cleanliness.

The plant shut temporarily.

The agents set up a perimeter around the 60-acre plant, in northeastern Iowa, and entered on the morning shift, carrying out two search warrants, federal authorities said. An affidavit filed in court before the raid by the Homeland Security Department cited “the issuance of 697 criminal complaints and arrest warrants against persons believed to be current employees” and to have acted criminally.

The affidavit said a former plant supervisor had told investigators that a methamphetamine laboratory had operated at the plant and that some employees had carried weapons to the plant. The former supervisor, the affidavit said, estimated that 80 percent of the employees were in the United States illegally.

A spokesman for Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, said the number of arrests was expected to increase, perhaps even double, as the investigation continued.

Federal officials leased an expansive fairground area in nearby Waterloo to process and house the arrested workers. Among people at the fairgrounds and in Postville, “there is a lot of fear,” said Prof. Mark A. Grey, who focuses on immigration at the University of Northern Iowa.

“It’s absolutely devastating to the local economy,” Professor Grey said.

In a news release, Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, called the sweep “the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa.”

Federal authorities have been conducting workplace raids across the country in recent years, with the pace accelerating since the failure of immigration legislation last year in Congress.

The raid had been planned for months and was conducted in coordination with local law enforcement, according to the news release, released jointly by Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for the ICE regional office in Bloomington, Minn.

Calls to AgriProcessors, a global giant in the kosher meat market and the major employer in Postville, a town of 2,200 people, were not answered. A lawyer for the plant did not return a call.

According to a company Web site, Aaron Rubashkin, whose family controls the plant, bought a defunct meat factory in Postville in 1987 and turned it into the present plant.

According to Menachem Lubinsky, the editor of Kosher Today and a marketing consultant, AgriProcessors provides 60 percent of the kosher retail meat and 40 percent of the kosher poultry nationally, and most retail chains depend on it for supply. Mr. Lubinsky said the company was also the sole American packing plant whose products are accepted in Israel.

The raid was not the first moment in the national spotlight for the plant. In 2004, it was asked to change its slaughtering methods after an animal rights group secretly documented workers cutting the throats of living steers and letting them bleed to death.

The company has also been a target of environmental pollution complaints.

As of today, the Postville meat plant is supposedly back to production and a story carried on VIN squashed rumors that the OU is withdrawing it's hechsher.

My real question is how you lose so much of your labor and continue production without either a loss of volume or quality? The employees that were taken away were likely the non-skilled labor (in kashrus) and support staff. So even if the numbers of "shochets" haven't changed, who will do all the labor to support the slaughter operations?

The units likely impacted (my best guess) is animal movers, cleaning, packaging, shipping, custodial, etc. If so, who is going to make sure that meat is processed and stored correctly and in a timely fashion, packaged correctly and not contaminated waiting to be worked on? I am not familiar with kashrus plant processing operations so I am asking these questions as a concerned consumer. Certainly the USDA will be watching, so some of this concern may be mitigated.

In any event, if the reader made it through the NYT article above you should be laughing. Did you catch this gem:
In 2004, it was asked to change its slaughtering methods after an animal rights group secretly documented workers cutting the throats of living steers and letting them bleed to death.

For those not familiar with kosher slaughter you may not be smiling now. For the rest of us, a good laugh after this embarrassing story doesn't hurt.

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12 May 2008

Agriprocessors Inc Raided by ICE - from Yeshiva World News

BREAKING: Agriprocessors Raided By US Immigration Police, 700 Estimated Arrested

According to The Des Moines Register, US Immigration officials are currently raiding the nations largest Kosher meat-packaging plant, Agriprocessors Inc., located in Postville, Iowa. Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday issued criminal search warrants for aggravated identify theft and fraudulent Social Security numbers.

Agency spokesman Tim Counts told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that civil search warrants also were issued for illegal immigrants, and agents and medical professionals are evaluating those who have been arrested.

Immigration officials told aides to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley that they expect 600 to 700 arrests. About 1,000 to 1,500 people work at the plant, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

Earlier this morning, a helicopter hovered over the scene, and a number of agents formed a perimeter around the Agriprocessors facility. Vehicles from ICE and at least eight cars and vans from the Iowa State Patrol were at the plant. There were also reports of two moving vans at the scene, along with an ambulance and two black Chevrolet Suburbans. Additionally, four Homeland Security buses with U.S. Immigration and Customs tags on them have entered the Agriprocessors Inc. complex.

Further details will be posted by YWN as soon as an offical statement is issued.

With a sense of shame I ask, what is a good definition of Chillul HaShem? I can defend Agri against the PETA idiots. I can brush off comments about working conditions. I cannot ignore allegations of facilitating identity theft. One of the APRPEH blog missions is to educate about ID Theft. There are far too many people whose PII (personal identifying information) is being used to facilitate identity theft. I surely hope that Agri can be cleared here, but given the Swift meat raids in 2006, still in the courts, Agri is looking at significant legal bills and possibly jail time for executives or managers.

Not all ID theft is related to new account fraud. Actually according to the FTC (FTC data), only about 20% - 25% of ID Theft is related to fraud one would uncover reading a credit report. Employment fraud is a troublesome sort of ID Theft to clear up. A victim becomes aware of this type of fraud usually by the IRS after receiving a notice of failure to report earnings along with a notice to pay what they owe along with a penalty. I have assisted consumers through this mess of IRS and Tax Payer Advocate contacts a number of times. Consumers can continue year after year having to deal with this problem which often delays refund checks and forces the consumer to spend hours on the telephone talking to the IRS, visiting offices, making copies and mailing off disputes. Usually, the problem is correctable provided a consumer knows what to do or has professional assistance. In terms of Agriprocessors Inc, the least worst scenario is that someone or job company was feeding "pre-screened" employees to them.

The second to worst scenario is that Agriprocessors Inc is providing the IDs to these workers or can be shown to be giving a wink and nod to the practice essentially helping to facilitate fraud. The third worst scenario, (or in combination) is the voluntary giving over of IDs by select consumers for Agriprocessors Inc.'s use. This is pure theorizing on my part only and I have NO inside knowledge as to what is occurring at Agri nor is it intended by me to appear that I do or as Loshon Hara. I am merely sharing my professional experience of cleaning up the mess of employment based ID Theft.

Agriprocessors Inc., if guilty of facilitating ID Theft may be finished, which is shame and definite loss to the kosher consumer.

Des Moines Register story 'largest in Iowa history'

Shamis story

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08 May 2008

Encouraging News for Yom HaAtzmout

Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second (Ynet)

Happy Anniversary Israel. I often hear "Happy Birthday" Israel but this seems to be inaccurate. After all, this most recent Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel is technically speaking number 3 and B'Ezras HaShem we will not have to keep counting. Unless, that is when the future redemption (may it come speedily) arrives and we realize that what was there before is so different than what it will be at that time that we conceive that a "4th" in label only, is needed.

The Ynet article below is encouraging. Often we hear primarily from the secularists and non-religious about how Israel is different, that it is not necessary to be "religious" there. "Its in the air" we have long heard. This stereotype is outdated and maybe it has been inaccurate for much longer than we realize.

It is easy to talk about Israel, in theory, from the US. It is probably easier though to talk about the diaspora, in theory, from Israel. Where religious Jews have an advantage I believe and certainly have less doubt (no matter where they reside) is in talking about Judaism, not as theory but as reality. It is this religious sense, that Jews in Israel or anywhere else are uniquely tied together in a spiritual bond of holiness which comes from Torah that makes Israel, the people and the land, special.

Torah teaches all of us as one people, one law - one people. There are however exceptions based upon the location with which you live. There are laws pertaining only to the land of Israel itself (or better laws only applicable in the land) and laws based upon Temple avodah. It is an interesting study to follow the ascension of holiness through Yisroel, Levi, and Kohain (by privileges), through all the lands, Israel, Jerusalem, and finally Har HaBayis. Yet, all Jews are still Jews no matter where they live.

What is nice to see about the Ynet story is that Israelis like Americans like British, like 'wherevers', see themselves as Jews in Israel in greater numbers than Israelis who happen to have Jewish ancestry. This can be interpreted from the data:

According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel thinks of itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.

American Jews have tried to explain this idea of people hood within an American context for quite a long time. It is our own failure to adequately share our worldview which has sometimes opened the door to the dual loyalty claim. (albeit it is exactly this 'worldview' which threatens some people unwilling to accept it from religious bias). Non-Jews are challenged with the notion of relating "Americanism" to Jewish people hood. America, as they say is a melting pot, a cholent of sorts (with the Jews, of course being the kishke, dissolved within but definitely noticeable for coloring and influencing the whole cholent).

It is not a mental challenge for Levine to be every bit as loyal as Smith and still retain the Jewish people hood concept in its fullest. Why? Because HaShem selected us to be his shluchim to the world. As the Rebbe would say, {paraphrased} - every Jew is like an only child of HaShem. And even though we are like an only child, we have siblings for whom we care about greatly. And as a family, we have a unique inheritance from our Father for which we must share, not only in good times but in difficult times as well (may there be only simchas). It is most satisfactory that our family caretakers of the land part of the inheritance understand this too. Now if only for the Torah part.....

Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second (Ynet)

Israel Democracy Institute releases special survey probing Israelis' perception of identify, says 94% of Jewish population in Israel believes it is part of worldwide Jewish community

Kobi Nahshoni

Sixty years after Israel was established as the Jewish state and the polemic is at its peak – are we Jewish first and Israeli second or vice versa?

An ongoing study preformed by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), published for the first time on Ynet, reveals that 47% of the public sees itself as Jewish first and Israeli second, as apposed to 39% with consider themselves first and foremost Israeli.

According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel thinks of itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.

The majority of the study was bases on an ongoing survey, taken by the Guttman Center among the Jewish sector in the country.

Those taking part were asked to rate the way they perceived their identity according to importance, and so 47% said they were Jewish, 39% said they were Israeli, 10% based their identity according on their religious affiliation and 4% according to their ethnic denomination.

A closer look at the religious sectoring showed that the more devout the sector – the stronger the Jewish definition: Some 78% of those identifying themselves as haredim and 73% of their religious counterparts chose the Jewish persona over the Israeli one, with 0% and 16% (respectively) choosing to define themselves as Israelis.

Among those who said they were traditionalist, 55% saw themselves Jewish and 35% as Israelis. Within the secular sector, 49% said they saw themselves as Israeli first and 34% said they were Jewish first – Israeli second.

As for the Arab sector, the polling data showed that the majority of Israeli Arab see themselves as Palestinian or as Arab, and only a minor percentage of the sector see themselves as Israeli: Forty-five percent said they were Arab, 24% think of themselves as Palestinians, 19% define themselves by their religious affiliation and only 12% said they were Israelis.

The second part of the study takes a closer look at the current data in comparison to similar surveys taken in 1991 and 1999.

The data showed that the overall feeling of belonging to a "greater community" among Jews has remanded unchanged despite a certain decline in the belief in a common destiny with Diaspora Jews.

The Guttman Center goes on to quote a poll taken in 2007, which said that 76% of Jews living in Israel felt they shared the same destiny as their brethren abroad; 2008's poll pegged the number at 68%.

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07 May 2008

Rabbi Belsky, Mishpacha Magazine and Chabad

Background and commentary to this story can be found on the Life of Rubin blog. The short version is that Mishpacha Magazine ran an interview with Rabbi Belsky (and Rav Miller, Rav Heinemann) where Rabbi Belsky made some very disparaging remarks about Chabad using broad generalizations and sterotypes. (The remarks, in full appear at the bottom of the post as they were published on Shmais)

The following letter was received by Shamis News Service

SHMAIS.COM EXCLUSIVE: 11 questions for Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Not a week had passed since Pesach, and already Rav Belsky, Rosh Yeshivah in Torah VoDaas and official Posek for the OU causes us to ask so many new questions.

1) Why, so soon after celebrating the birth of Am Yisroel, are we trying to break our nation further apart?

2) Why, barely two weeks into Sefiras HaOmer, when we mourn the passing of Rabbi Akiva’s Talmidim because they were not noheig kavod ze bazeh, are we fanning the flames of Sinas Yisroel?

3) Why, just as we begin our preparation for Matan Torah, is such blatant disrespect being shown to an entire community of Yereim Ushleimim, including the strongest Marbitzei Torah in the world?

4) Why, Davka in the week that we learn in the first Perek of Pirkei Avos “Chachomim Hizoharu Bedivreichem”, would the popular Mishpacha magazine irresponsibly publish inflammatory statements not based on fact?

I will only challenge Rav Belsky’s careless dismissal of Lubavitch as a whole having no place in Yiddishkeit and that present-day Chabad “has nothing to do with bringing the masses back to Judaism”. (Every angle of “the Moshiach issue” has already been discussed and regurgitated).

5) Is Rav Belsky really not aware of the work of Chabad-Lubavitch around the world?

6) Does Rav Belsky not know of the Shiurei Torah given by Shluchim every day in Tanach, Halacha, Hashkafa, Daf Yomi, and more?

7) Is Rav Belsky oblivious to the fact that dozens of Chabad Shluchim serve as reliable, dependable Mashgichim for the OU, in many cases because they are available, having devoted their lives to helping their fellow Jews in the remote areas? Are all those Mashgichim Pasul? Does that, by extent, place the reliability of the OU in question?

8) Is Rav Belsky not aware of the thousands of Lubavitcher Yeshiva Bochurim who spend their free time on Friday afternoon being Mezake fellow Yidden with some Divrei Torah, Tefillah, and chance to connect to Hakadosh Baruch Hu by putting on Tefiolin?

9) Is Rav Belsky not aware that once a week hundreds of Lubavitcher Yeshiva Bochurim spend time with Jewish children in New York City who are currently in public school, teaching them how to say Brachos, about Torah, and encouraging their parents to send them to Jewish schools?

10) Does Rav Belsky not know of the hundreds of Lubavitcher yeshiva Bochurim who gave up their Bein Hazmanim to assist Shluchim in conducting public Sedorim, being Mezakeh hundreds of Yidden, kein yirbu, with fulfilling the Mitzvos of Pesach?

11) Does Rav Belsky not know this from his own Talmidim who rely on Chabad Shluchim for a place to stay for Shabbos, a Minyan, and Kosher food when they travel “on business”?

Anyone wanting to know what Chabad-Lubavitch is doing today, can easily visit www.Lubavitch.com or www.chabad.org/news, the official websites of Chabad-Lubavitch. Would it not be a reasonable thing to do before publishing such incendiary remarks?

And whatever reason or excuse one might find for Rav Belsky’s skewed view of Chabad-Lubavitch today, is there any reason that Mishpacha magazine saw a need to publish this?!

Is there really nothing more pressing to the Chareidi community today?! Is the Jewish periodical market so competitive, that Mishpacha must resort to such controversial sensationalism to engender sales, at the cost of the irreparable damage this will do?!

At a time when so many barriers between communities have been removed, as Chassidim of all stripes, Yeshivishe, Yekke, Litvishe, Ashkenazim and Sefardim etc. etc. work together on so many issues of common concern (youth at risk, Shalom Bayis issues, Chinuch, Kashrus, safety in our communities, and all types of Chessed organizations) was it really necessary?!

The basic answer to the Mah Nishtanah is “Avadim Hayinu”. Isn’t it time to free ourselves?!

Name withheld upon request

Rabbi Belsky's comment as it appears on Shmais.com:

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06 May 2008

The Clock Ticking Down on the Bush and Condi Championship Game

Rice: Young Palestinians Losing Hope For Deal With Israel
Heading Back To Mideast, Rice Says Young Palestinians Are Losing Hope For Deal With Israel

WASHINGTON, May. 6, 2008
(AP) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an American Jewish audience Tuesday that young Palestinians are losing hope for an agreement with Israel.

"Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age," Rice, 53, said in a somber speech to The American Jewish Committee at its 102nd annual meeting.

Insisting that the Bush administration will never yield to dealing with Hamas militants, Rice said, "What you don't want is that the hopelessness and the vision of the extremists have no counter."

Set to leave early Thursday for more jawboning with moderate Arabs and Israeli leaders, after talks in London designed to raise more economic support for the Palestinians, Rice called on Israel to make "difficult decisions" to provide the Palestinians with the dignity of statehood.

In fact, she said, "we have a chance to reach the basic contours of a settlement by the end of the year" _ a scaling back of President Bush's initial hope for a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians before he leaves office.

Rice also poured cold water on any prospects that Israel and Syria could negotiate peace terms.

The two sides, working partly through Turkey, have shown some renewed interest. The basis would be Israel swapping the Golan Heights for a peace treaty with its Arab neighbor.

Rice said the Bush administration had tried to interest Syria in peacemaking, with such moves as an invitation to a Mideast conference last November in Annapolis, Md.

"It is hard to see there is a Syrian regime receptive" to negotiations with Israel at this point, she said.

"Syria is like Iran's sidecar," she said, aligning itself tightly with a country that threatens Israel's existence. And, she reminded the American Jewish Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobby and foe of intolerance and anti-Semitism, "you know about Syria's nuclear program."

Rice referred to a nuclear facility built with North Korea's cooperation and then wrecked by Israeli jets last September.

The central theme in her 15-minute speech and 20-minute question-and-answer session was that the Bush administration would not give up trying to steer Israel and the Palestinians toward a settlement that provides the Palestinians with a state.

And, the administration would have no dealings with Hamas or other Palestinian extremists that war with Israel and refuse to recognize the Jewish state.

"Either you are a political party or a terrorist group," Rice said. "You cannot be both."

Once again, Rice criticized former President Jimmy Carter for holding talks with Hamas leaders. "I don't see the point of trying to negotiate with people who are determined to destroy the foundation of peace," she said.

Dr. Rice is talking like a basketball coach watching the clock tick away with her team down in the championship game and realizing that with every day of 2008 sliding by, the chance of making a comeback is increasingly unlikely. Then again, maybe these statements are yet another example of the Bush Administration's arabian "end run", not meaning for any true, permanent, resolution to the conflict between the arabians and Israel, just attempting to finish the game in good form.

Her comments lead me to believe there is confusion on her part as to the reason for talks, or is it after all an attempt to stall? If the youth are not interested in peace, who are the guarantors of any agreement? If Hamas cannot be a "political party" how is that Fatah/PA can be a partner for negotiations? The trouble with such logic as hers is that it leaves the door open for one day accepting Hamas as a party to negotiations. Why, all you have to do is say you are a "political party" and ta-da, welcome to the White House.

What is it with this age issue after all? The arabians have been saying since the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland that a war of "liberation" was the only way to expel the Jews. This message has been taught for generations now in "palestinian" and arabian schools. The official PA educational curriculum and press still de-humanizes Jews and Israel. How can it be that only now, the youth of "palestine" do not talk of a "two-state solution"? The only arabians talking two-state solution are the PA on the US and European payroll. Nothing has changed in this regard.

In fact the idea of modernizing, democratizing, de-militarizing the PA is contradicted by Condi's words. It is fair to say that the PA arabians have secured more compromises, promises and diplomatic success than any effort to destroy Israel did in previous generations. An American President has called for the creation of an independent "Palestine" and the sitting Prime Minister of Israel (for the time being that is) is ready to hand over as much land of Judea and Samaria as needed with part of Jerusalem as its capital for the erstwhile new Pali homeland for a people who never had one. None of this was achieved by war, only through talks.

How is it then that younger arabians are not interested in "two-states"? Maybe it is because the older arabians are not really interested in "two-states" either and like the Bush administration may be doing, just walking the walk. So, after President Bush is gone, PM Olmert is gone and very possibly Abu Mazen is gone, then who picks up the pieces of the "failed" negotiations? When will the lesson be learned that just as when road blocks are removed Jews die, chas v'shalom, that when talks fail Jews die, chas v'shalom?

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Sderot QassamCount - via Daled Amos

Nice Jerusalem Video from Yeshiva Beit Orot

The Path To The Final Solution

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