21 July 2009

CARD Act of 2009 and Credit Fraud Risk

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 became law in May. The provisions of the law address consumer protections, improved disclosures of credit contracts, gift cards, and of particular interest - regulations concerning the younger consumers and credit issuance.

The new law prevents consumers under the age of 21 from opening a new credit account

unless the consumer has submitted a written application to the card issuer that the meets the requirements of....the signature of a co-signer, including the parent, legal guardian, spouse, or any other individual who has attained the age of 21 having means to repay debts incurred by the consumer in connection with the account, indicating joint liability for debts incurred by the consumer in connection with the account before the consumer has attained the age of 21; or submission by the consumer of financial information, including through an application, indicating an independent means of repaying any obligation arising from the proposed extension of credit in connection with the account.

Also in the act is a provision which requires someone from the same list of parties above to increase an open credit line for an under 21 consumer. Other provisions include protecting young consumers from pre-screened offers of credit and for regulating, tracking, and reporting the activities of credit issuers involvement on campuses which includes prohibiting the offering of tangible gifts as an inducement to open a new credit account. The law also requires "credit card and debt education and counseling sessions" be provided to all new students of any institution.

While in particular the inducement restriction is a welcome regulation, there is reason to be concerned that a piece of this new law may increase identity frauds and scams. It will not take too long for 18 or 19 year olds who will not have co-signers to find co-signers when this law goes into affect, supposedly this upcoming winter.

The possibility for fraud is wide open. Some scam possibilities include offering to co-sign for a credit card in exchange for cash either as a residual or one-time fee without taking actual responsibility for the account. The "co-signer" may also be using stolen personal identifying information. What about the under 21 year old obtaining without authorization or buying an identity in order to create a co-signer? In the same way that 21 year olds and older buy alcohol for other students, it is a fair guess to say that irresponsible "adults" will co-sign for under 21 year olds. Just wait until we see fraternities and sororities offering credit backing as a fringe benefit of pledging or using it as an inducement for some other activity. This is merely the beginning. While this law is well-intended, I do not believe it was well thought out.

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16 July 2009

Israel's Greatest Adversary

"Right now, the Obama Administration is the strongest, if you will, and the greatest adversary that Israel has." Jay Shapiro Show - 12 July 09 'The Real US-Israel Relationship' - Israel National Radio

Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that the US President, Barack Hussein Obama no longer has any apprehension in hiding the fact that he is not a friend of Israel.

Monday's meeting with "Top Jewish Organizational Leaders" hand-picked for passivity, (as pointed out in the Leibler article below) further supports the notion that Obama is unashamedly and openly anti-Israel. Obama wants no opposition to his opinion that Yosh is the biggest obstacle to peace and wants support for that position by the lefties who voted for him. The idea that "settlements" are the biggest obstacle to peace also is a surrender to the false notion that Israel was required to withdraw from all of Yosh in any of the previous "negotiations" or treaties.

I am drawn to the words of Moshe Rabbenu in the first of this week's two parashios (Matos) after the leaders of the tribes of Reuven and Gad approach him to request that their inheritance be granted to them on the other side of the Jordan, in the lands of Sichon and Og. Moshe asks these leaders

32:6. [Thereupon,] Moses said to the descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben, "Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here? 7. Why do you discourage the children of Israel from crossing over to the land which the Lord has given them?
Moshe then goes on to remind these leaders why they were sentenced to die in and wonder in the wilderness - because the people angered G-d doing evil in His eyes. Then Moshe adds
14. And behold, you have now risen in place of your fathers as a society of sinful people, to add to the wrathful anger of the Lord against Israel. 15. If you turn away from following Him, He will leave you in the desert again, and you will destroy this entire people."

These lefties who nod in self-righteous approval of this administration are letting their brethren go to war for them and discourage the weak and dis-heartened of our people from "crossing over to the land" publically standing up to support their brethern in the land of Israel. Their actions are evil and contrary to the safety of the Jews in the land of Israel and places into jeopardy, all Jews collective inheritance of the land. These leftie Jews have "risen in place of their fathers" - (those who compensate them and pay their salaries and wish for these wayward Jews to nod on their behalf).

Today's story in Ha'aretz suggests that the Obama team may make a superficial concession to allow construction projects underway in the "territories" to be completed, but nothing else. In return for this "favor", Obama will be calling for a "binding time-table" for completion of negotiations between the democratically elected government of Israel and the terrorists who stole the PA from other terrorists who actually were elected.

Below, Isi Leibler lays out a compeling case as to why Obama is causing significant damage not only to the US-Israel relationship but to Israel's security. By accepting arabian propaganda as truth, Obama has turned the tables on America's role in the world as the bearer of truth. Shameful.

Candidly Speaking: The case against Obama

Jul. 15, 2009
Prior to the election, many traditional Jewish supporters of the Democratic Party were apprehensive of Barack Obama's initially negative attitude to Israel and his troubling association with people like PLO ideologue Rashid Khalidi and the anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright. However after aggressively repudiating his earlier policies, Obama convinced most Jews that he would never abandon the Jewish state. Alas, recent developments suggest otherwise.

President Obama is adept at warming the cockles of the hearts of his Jewish constituents, many of whom seem as mesmerized by him as their forebears were by Franklin D Roosevelt. He repeatedly articulates his commitment to the welfare of Israel and admiration for American Jewry.

Yet if one probes beneath the veneer of bonhomie and analyzes the substance of his policies, they reflect an unprecedented downturn in relations towards Israel with hints of worse to come. This was reaffirmed by Obama in the course of his recent meeting with Jewish leaders (which included representatives of extremist fringe groups like Peace Now and J Street but excluded those likely to be critical of his approach). In an extraordinary patronizing manner with his Jewish aides beaming at him he told Israelis to "engage in self reflection" and made it clear that he believed he had a better understanding of what is best for them than their democratically elected government. Alas, with the exception of Malcolm Hoenlein and Abe Foxman, it appears that the majority of the others endorsed his position or remained silent. Yet only a few days earlier even a passionate Democrat like Alan Dershowitz had expressed concern "that the coming changes in the Obama administration's policies could weaken the security of the Jewish state".

THIS COLUMN is a response to American Jews devoted to Israel who remain under the charismatic spell of their president and challenged me to demonstrate how his policies are harming Israel.

President Obama's keynote Cairo address included effusive praise for Islam, highlighted Western shortcomings but omitted mention of global jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. It also legitimized the Arab narrative including its malicious and false historical analogies. By alleging that the State of Israel was a by-product of the Holocaust, the president of the United States denied 3,500 years of Jewish history and the central role of Jerusalem in Judaism. He endorsed the Arafat mantra that Israel had been inflicted upon the Arabs by the Europeans to compensate for the Holocaust, even hinting at equivalence between Jewish and Arab suffering. Obama ignored the rejectionism, ongoing wars and waves of Arab terror directed against the Jewish state since the day of its creation. He also compared the Palestinians to the US civil rights movement. When the president of the world's greatest superpower provides an imprimatur for such a false narrative it represents a major breakthrough for those seeking to delegitimize Israel.

Obama's Cairo address should be viewed as an extension of a calculated policy designed to appease the Arab world by playing hardball with Israel. Obama's response to the brutal Iranian regime's thuggish clampdown on its own people was inordinately restrained. He bowed and scraped to the Saudis, unconditionally renewed diplomatic relations with the Syrians and failed to respond to the latest brazen North Korean missile launches. His "engagement" and benign relationship with corrupt and despotic Arab regimes contrast starkly with the tough diktats conveyed to Israel.

The confrontation with Israel goes far beyond the vexed settlement issue which was wrongly linked with curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and has been exaggerated totally out of proportion.

Israel endorsed the road map and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unequivocally undertook to freeze settlement expansion in areas other than within the settlement blocs which the Bush Administration had implicitly agreed should remain under Israeli sovereignty. Even in these areas Netanyahu undertook to limit growth to "enabling normal life." But either disregarding or cynically abrogating understandings by the former administration, Obama's demands exceeded even those of Arafat's when the 1993 Oslo Accords were negotiated.

Today, no city outside the Islamic world denies Jews the right of residence. Yet Obama is demanding that for the first time since 1967 Jews will no longer be entitled to build a single home beyond the old armistice lines, including Jewish sections of Jerusalem and adjacent areas like Ma'aleh Adumim. No Israeli government of any political composition could conceivably accept such a demand which even opposition Kadima spokesmen condemned as outright "extortion."

NOT SURPRISINGLY, the Palestinians and Arabs are delighted with Obama's humiliation of Israel. Saeb Erakat, the chief PA negotiator, proclaimed that the Palestinians need make no concessions because the longer the process extended, the more they would benefit from further unilateral Israeli concessions. Washington Post journalist Jackson Diehl, not renowned as a pro-Israel supporter, observed, "[Obama] revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud."

The reality is that Arab concerns are not related to settlements or boundaries. Both Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rejected offers to return virtually all territories Israel gained in the 1967 war - a war initiated by the Arabs to destroy the Jewish state. "The gaps were too wide" said Abbas, after Olmert offered him the equivalent of all territories beyond the Green Line, including joint control of the Temple Mount. They adamantly demand the right of return for Arab refugees, which would effectively bring an end to the Jewish state. Clearly, the overriding objective for the PA, no less than Hamas, remains, not two states but two stages leading to the demise of the Jewish state. In recent weeks there was a spate of Fatah statements on official PA-controlled media brazenly describing the negotiations as a vehicle to destroy Israel. "Peace is a means not a goal. Our goal is all Palestine," said Fatah activist Kifah Radaydeh on PA TV and also affirmed that "armed struggle" is still on the cards.

If Obama was genuinely even-handed, he would urge the "moderate" Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He would make it clear that the US would never support the repatriation of the descendents of the Arab refugees to Israel. Obama would call on Abbas to stop sanctifying martyrs and naming streets, sports teams and other projects (some of which are sponsored by the US) after Palestinian suicide killers and murderers and would monitor anti-Semitic incitement in PA media, mosques, schools and kindergartens. And most importantly, before demanding that Israel remove barriers and downgrade security in Judea and Samaria, the US would insist that the PA curb its military wings and cease all acts of terror.

But as of now, Obama's policy can be summarized as "Israelis should give and Palestinians should take." It amounts to appeasing the Arabs, humiliating Israel and in the process, undermining the security of the Jewish state.

ISRAEL IS not a superpower and needs to retain the support of the United States, in the absence of which the United Nations, Europeans and the entire international community would gang up against the Jewish state. It is no coincidence that Javier Solana, the retiring EU foreign policy chief, has urged the UN to determine the final borders, the status of Jerusalem and resolution of the refugee problem and impose their solution. That the British government has just announced what amounts to a partial arms boycott against Israel is another example.

Netanyahu is doing his utmost to achieve a compromise and has already offered to totally freeze all settlement activity beyond Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs, which the vast majority of Israelis agree must be retained. But if the Americans remain bloody-minded and refuse to compromise, Netanyahu will stand firm on this issue and will be overwhelmingly supported by the people who are outraged by the double standards applied against them.

In the meanwhile, the public reprimands and humiliations already underway are eroding the US-Israel relationship and impacting on American public support for Israel, which polls indicate is plummeting.
American Jews who voted overwhelmingly to elect Obama should not remain silent. They are entitled to press him to adhere to his commitment and treat the Jewish state in an even-handed manner. Together with other friends of Israel they should discourage their president from offering Israel as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of Arab appeasement. In urging Obama not to abandon Israel, they would also be promoting the US national interest. History cannot point to a single instance in which appeasement of jihadists or tyrants has ever borne fruit.

Comments to Isi Leibler

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08 July 2009

Dangers of Social Networking - Real Dangers

If there ever was an object lesson in the dangers posed by wreckless social networking, just ask incoming MI6 head Sir John Sawers.  Sawers wife Shelley, a Facebook user missed the tutorial about securing the access to her account and keeping her private information, private. In the process, she has put the lives of her husband, family and friends into jeopardy.

previous Social Networking safety posts by APRPEH:

At this time, her actions could be forcing many people to change domiciles, mailing addresses, schools, and plenty of other everyday routine schedules.  For instance imagine how useful it would be to know where the head of MI6 has tea and where he meets his friends, where his children live or go to school, when they are dropped off and picked up, at which home he may be attending a party, etc?   One can only imagine the potential damage which could have been done to British national security had this story not broken.

Everyone needs to use the security settings on whatever site they are using.  They should not reveal information that could be personally or professionally damaging. And that includes pictures of middle aged men in bathing suits in the way Ms. Sawers has done.

It is very hard to think of someone as SIR John Sawers after seeing him playing on the beach.

coverage from TimesOnline

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07 July 2009

Phillips vs. Dershowitz

Melanie Phillips highlights troubling contradictions contained within Alan Dershowitz's Wall Street Journal editorial. To use the proverbial "canary in the mine shaft" description of Dershowitz would be generous. Coming from a professor of law (wasn't Obama supposedly a professor too or so he told us?) of his stature one would hope for more than a wishful thinking op/ed on his part.

Dershowitz has for the record though, pinned himself into red-lines which he says should be watched for intrusion by Obama. Should one of those red-lines be breached however, we can be certain that Dershowitz will explain in the most elegant terms why what we see isn't really what we see. Ah, the benefits of a good legal education.

Melanie Phillips below explains the contradictory nature of Dershowitz's positions although she seems uncertain whether wishful thinking on his part or a pre-meditated attempt to create history the way he thinks it should be written is his goal.

Briefly, one of her points is that Dershowitz sails into the waters of moral equivalency (between Israel and the arabians), something that lefties cannot avoid without betraying their most core belief. Another point is how Dershowitz explains away the evidence of Obama's dislike of Israel by setting up the above mentioned red-lines as distant excuses permitting observers to ignore the strain in the relations between the US administration and Israel.

The honest approach here (based on Dersh logic) followed to its logical conclusion is "wait until things really get bad". Dersh starts with how some Jews saw clearly (those who could see beyond the DNC's talking points) that Obama during his life has run with the anti-Jew crowd - but still dismisses those observations as less relevant than campaign rhetoric - (rhetoric for which he should claim conflict of interest). Like a trial attorney is apt to do, Dersh brushes these justified fears under the carpet. History shall play no part in his equation of Obama and his Israel policy, only the future. We could have avoided this problem of course if Jews like Dersh would have used their superior intellects to make reasoned analyses of why NOT to vote for Obama - (my attempt - APRPEH: Barack Obama - Myths, Facts, and Obfuscating (Bloggers Beware)) but that is after all water under the bridge. Dershowitz is the friend who supports you provided you agree to his terms. And those terms are written by the White House.

July 6, 2009 / 14 Tamuz 5769

Dershowitz doesn't get it/By Melanie Phillips

A sobering view by one of Britain's most respected columnists

Jewish World Review | Alan Dershowitz is one of the most prolific, high-profile and indefatiguable defenders of Israel and the Jewish people against the tidal wave of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish feeling currently coursing through the west. So a piece by him in the Wall Street Journal giving expression to the rising anxiety being felt about Obama by American Jews naturally arouses great interest.

But just like the majority of American Jews, getting on for 80 per cent of whom voted for Obama, he is a Democrat supporter who is incapable of acknowledging the truth about this President. For most American Jews, the horror of even entertaining the hypothetical possibility that they might ever in a million years have to vote for a Republican is so great they simply cannot see what is staring them in the face — that this Democratic President is lethal for both Israel and the free world. And in this article Dershowitz shows that he too is just as blind.

Acknowledging the anxiety among some American Jews about Obama's attitude to Israel, Dershowitz concludes uneasily that there isn't really a problem here because all Obama is doing is putting pressure on Israel over the settlements, which most American Jews don't support anyway. But this is totally to miss the point. The pressure over the settlements per se is not the reason for the intense concern.

It is instead, first and foremost, the fact that Obama is treating Israel as if it is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Obama thus inverts aggressor and victim, denying Israel's six-decade long victimisation and airbrushing out Arab aggression. The question remains: why has Obama chosen to pick a fight with Israel while soft-soaping Iran which is threatening it with genocide? The answer is obvious: Israel is to be used to buy off Iran just as Czechoslovakia was used at Munich. Indeed, I would say this is worse even than that, since I suspect that Obama — coming as he does from a radical leftist milieu, with vicious Israel-haters amongst his closest friends — would be doing this to Israel even if Iran was not the problem that it is.

In any event, the double standard is egregious. Obama has torn up his previous understandings with Israel over the settlements while putting no pressure at all on the Palestinians, even though since they are the regional aggressor there can be no peace unless they end their aggression and certainly not until they accept Israel as a Jewish state, which they have said explicitly they will never do. On this, Obama is totally silent. So too is Dershowitz. That's some omission.

Next, Obama is pressuring Israel to set up a Palestine state — within two years this will exist, swaggers Rahm Emanuel. But everyone knows that as soon as Israel leaves the West Bank, Hamas — or even worse — will take over. The only reason the (also appalling) Abbas is still in Ramallah, enabling Obama to pretend there is a Palestinian interlocutor for peace, is because the Israelis are keeping Hamas at bay. Yet Dershowitz writes:

There is no evidence of any weakening of American support for Israel's right to defend its children from the kind of rocket attacks candidate Obama commented on during his visit to Sderot.

So what exactly does he think would happen if Israel came out of the West Bank and the Hamas rockets were down the road from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (literally: many in the west have absolutely no idea how tiny Israel is). It's not a question of Israel's 'right to defend its children'. If Obama has his way, Israel would not be able to defend its children or anyone else, because Obama would have removed its defences by putting its enemies in charge of them. It is astounding that Dershowitz can't see this.

Then there was Obama's appalling Cairo speech in which he conspicuously refrained from committing himself to defending Zionism and the Jewish people from the attacks and incitement to genocide against them, but committed himself instead to defending their attackers against 'negative stereotyping'. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say.

Worse still, by falsely asserting that the Jewish aspiration for Israel derived from the Holocaust, Obama effectively denied that the Jewish people were in Israel as of right and thus endorsed the core element of the Arab and Muslim propaganda of war and extermination. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say.

Obama drew a vile — and telling — equivalence between the Nazi extermination camps and the Palestinian 'refugee' camps. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Obama's statement that the Palestinians 'have suffered in pursuit of a homeland' was grossly and historically untrue, and again denied Arab aggression. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Equally vilely, Obama equated genocidal terrorism by the Palestinians with the civil rights movement in America and the resistance against apartheid in South Africa. On all of this, Dershowitz has nothing to say.

Dershowitz also grossly underplays the terrible harm Obama is doing to the security not just of Israel but the world through his reckless appeasement of Iran. In the last few weeks, this has actively undercut the Iranian democrats trying to oust their tyrannical regime, and has actually strengthened that regime. All the evidence suggests ever more strongly that Obama has decided America will 'live with' a nuclear Iran, whatever it does to its own people. Which leaves Israel hung out to dry.

But even here, where he is clearly most concerned, Dershowitz scuttles under his comfort blanket — Dennis Ross, who was originally supposed to have been the US special envoy to Iran but was recently announced senior director of the National Security Council and special assistant to the President for the region. It is not at all clear whether this ambiguous development represents a promotion or demotion for Ross. Either way, for Dershowitz to rest his optimism that Obama's Iran policy will be all right on the night entirely upon the figure of Dennis Ross is pathetic. Ross, a Jew who played Mr Nice to Robert Malley's Mr Nasty towards Israel in the Camp David debacle under President Clinton, is clearly being used by Obama as a human shield behind which he can bully Israel with impunity. American Jews assume that his proximity to Obama means the President's intentions towards Israel are benign. Dazzled by this vision of Ross as the guarantor of Obama's good faith, they thus ignore altogether the terrible import of the actual words coming out of the President's mouth.

The fact is that many American Jews are so ignorant of the history of the Jewish people, the centrality of Israel in its history and the legality and justice of its position that they probably saw nothing wrong in Obama saying that the Jewish aspiration for Israel came out of the Holocaust because they think this too. Nor do they see the appalling double standard in the bullying of Israel over the settlements and what that tells us about Obama's attitude towards Israel, because — as Dershowitz himself makes all too plain — they too think in much the same way, that the settlements are the principal obstacle to peace.

Many if not most American Jews have a highly sentimentalized view of Israel. They never go there, are deeply ignorant of its history and current realities, and are infinitely more concerned with their own view of themselves as social liberals, a view reflected back at themselves through voting for a Democrat President.

Whatever else he is, however, Dershowitz is certainly not ignorant. Which makes this lamentable article all the more revealing, and depressing.

another related commentary at American Thinker

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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