31 March 2005

Gang-beaten by a group of fellow employees at the Baghdad airport where he works as a security coordinator for KBR

As his son Ronald Lee Chavez lies in serious condition, father Eli has fired off a letter to the U.S. Justice Department and plans to file a criminal complaint against anyone involved in his son's beating. A case where Americans badly beat another American in a foreign land.
While Ronald was in Albuquerque on R & R, he advised me that his Boss did not like him because Ronald is Hispanic; and that the "Red Neck Mafia" ran the operation for Halliburton at Baghdad Airport. Ronald further advised me that he had reported by Memorandum to higher authority within the Halliburton Chain of Command the vulnerabilities at Baghdad Airport regarding to terrorist attacks. Ronald further stated that higher authority was upset at his recommendations.

According to Patti, Halliburton advised her that they had sent 3 of the "Redneck Mafia" members back to the USA; and that Halliburton was not going to file criminal charges against them.

It has been mentioned that this might be a whistleblower type case, where retribution may have been dealt out to Mr. Chavez for a written memo he sent to his higher-ups.

This scenario is not surprising to me, given an occupation environment in the wake of a illegal, immoral invasion of a sovereign nation that did not threaten the United States.

27 March 2005

If Grokster loses, technological innovation will be the domain of big corporations only

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban announces he's going to take on 28 of the largest entertainment companies, by providing financing for the legal effort to defend Grokster in MGM v. Grokster, a landmark case that will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday, 29 March 2005.
It wont be a good day when high school entrepreneurs have to get a fairness opinion from a technology oriented law firm to confirm that big music or movie studios wont sue you because they can come up with an angle that makes a judge believe the technology might impact the music business. It will be a sad day when American corporations start to hold their US digital innovations and inventions overseas to protect them from the RIAA, moving important jobs overseas with them.

Thats what is ahead of us if Grokster loses. Thats what happens if the RIAA is able to convince the Supreme Court of the USA that rather than the truth, which is , Software doesnt steal content, people steal content, they convince them that if it can impact the music business, it should be outlawed because somehow it will. It doesnt matter that the RIAA has been wrong about innovations and the perceived threat to their industry, EVERY SINGLE TIME. It just matters that they can spend more then everyone else on lawyers. Thats not the way it should be. So , the real reason of this blog. To let everyone know that the EFF and others came to me and asked if I would finance the legal effort against MGM. I said yes. I would provide them the money they need. So now the truth has been told. This isnt the big content companies against the technology companies. This is the big content companies, against me. Mark Cuban and my little content company. Its about our ability to use future innovations to compete vs their ability to use the courts to shut down our ability to compete. its that simple.

The mainstream media is painting this case as a conflict over illegal file sharing (i.e., committing copyright infringement by downloading music and video files) but what's really at stake is a clampdown on your freedom and liberty. If Grokster loses, it would be the equivalent of holding gun manufacturers liable for murders. Any product of technology can be used for good, or for bad.

And the case could have ramifications in wake of the 1984 landmark Betamax case, which enabled the VCR to become ubiquitous.

U.S. laws do not apply to work sent overseas to foreign-owned companies

As jobs go offshore, so shall the incidents of identity theft rise in conjunction.
That means seeking damages in the U.S. civil justice system in cases of abuse involving overseas companies is all but impossible.

That's because it's so hard to straighten out the tangled relationships among the foreign companies that contract with U.S. companies but then subcontract with other foreign-owned companies.

Here's the scary part: Identity theft may already be commonplace at foreign companies now doing the outsourced work.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 3.2 million Americans are victimized every year. Nobody knows where all the thefts are occurring, which makes the crime even more frightening.

Your data is a click away for foreign nationals working in locales where bribery is commonplace and a small sum can fetch all your critical identification keys including social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers, etc.… And where such transgressions remain totally out of the sphere of American jurisprudence.

Consider this the next time you hear some think tank pundit pontificate on how glorious globalization and the mass migration of work from American shores is…

17 March 2005

Financial services lobbyists wrote the bankruptcy bill and shopped it to “friendly” Congressmen

I don't believe in bankruptcy. If you incur debt, you should pay it off. However, I find blatant Republican hypocrisy in the new bankruptcy rules passed by the Senate.

First, consider that the vast majority of individuals and families filing for bankruptcy truly need the relief due to hardships imposed by medical conditions, where medical insurance won't even address. And it's estimated that 90% of American bankruptcies are the result of such medical emergencies, job loss, divorce, or death of family members.

I’ve been doing research on families in financial trouble for more than twenty years to learn how many people were abusing the bankruptcy system. My colleagues and I did a really extensive analysis and learned that families turn to bankruptcy not because they want to find a way not to pay, but because they are desperate. More disturbing, we released a study earlier this year that revealed that over half of bankruptcies are in the aftermath of medical emergencies.

I never wanted to get involved in politics, but the bankruptcy bill now moving on a fast-track through Congress isn’t fair. It beats up the average family already staggering under the weight of bad luck and huge debts, while it lets real abusers go free. That appears to have been the idea from the start.

Again, I haven't studied the legislation in detail, so I can't say if I'm vehemently opposed to it. But, make no mistake about it, it's blatant Republican hypocrisy, as has come to be expected, to serve corporate interests and the grubby lobbyists that wrote this deal. See, Republicans believe big special interests like banks and credit card companies shouldn't be shorted, but by the token that they didn't address loopholes for the wealthy folks elude paying their debt, shows they have no regard for fleecing taxpayers and working Americans.

There's a larger thread of hypocrisy that streams around this controversial issue, that is the dichotomy between worker and proprietor, which in the blue collar industrial era were vastly different, but now in this "free agent nation", where many have chosen (or been forced) to kindle the entrepreneurial spirit and the rules have indeed been turned upside down. Starting and growing a business is fraught with failure, many a business goes sour, and the starters regroup and rebound, often using bankruptcy protection to buffer them from landing in a spot where their prospects for economic recovery would be most dismal. So, why are the rules harsher for wage workers, who now are at the mercy of turbulent forces totally out of their control than wild eyed speculators, who hope to carve out economic success via thier own business venture, but are near immune to ramifications of non-debt payment? Seems to be a giant divide, that again, favors the privileged, the elite, the well-heeled over the working stiffs.

10 March 2005

Why do you think this hasn’t this been investigated/reported on more widely?

A letter to Poynter Online wonders why this sworn affidavit by Florida software programmer Clint Curtis alleging his commission to create vote rigging software for Republican U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney hasn't received wider attention.

I alluded to this story in a comment within a previous article regarding the 2004 Ohio presidential voting, but I was unaware of the YEI (the company for which Mr. Curtis worked for) link to Chinese espionage and a dead inspector general:

Curtis also reported in his affidavit and to the Florida State Inspector General that YEI was employing an illegal Chinese alien by the name of Hai Lin "Henry" Nee who was inserting "wire-tapping modules" into sensitive database programs which YEI had built for NASA and other companies. Curtis also alleged that the brother of Mrs. Li-Woan Yang, the YEI CEO, had been a deported Chinese spy.

Since the time of Curtis' allegations, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee has been indicted, and pleaded guilty to charges of espionage related to attempting to send chips used in Hellfire anti-tank missile systems to China. The arrest was the result of a four year sting operation by the Homeland Security Office's Immigration and Customs Export (ICE) bureau. Although Nee admitted in his pleading to have sent such chips "ten to twenty times in the past year" to China, he was sentenced (10/2004) to just three years probation and a $100 fine!

Federal officials in the Florida Inspector General’s report investigating claims by Curtis have confirmed that Nee was an illegal alien as of January 2000. Yet for reasons still unknown, Federal officials refused to disclose information on Nee's alien status to the Florida IG until after Nee's prosecution had concluded in October of 2004.

The original Inspector General assigned to the case, Raymond Lemme, had contacted Curtis in mid-June of 2003, after both Curtis and the other whistleblower on the case had been fired without cause – both on the same day. (Eventually, both of them would win their whistleblower cases against FDOT on the matter.) Curtis says in his sworn affidavit that Lemme had advised him in mid-June that he would be very happy about his upcoming report and he should keep his ears open for it because, he told Curtis, "this goes all the way to the top."

Two weeks later, Lemme was found dead in a Valdosta, Georgia motel room.

A lot of questions remain unanswered here, no doubt of that.