US News

Phishing, Taxes, The US Treasury and You

It's that time of the year, folks -- a swarm of emails have been coming out from spoofed addresses, claiming to be from the customer service section of Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (

NOTE: The IRS never sends emails to taxpayers. Pass that tidbit on, and help take a bite out of cybercrime...

It starts off with the following:

From: EFTPS Tax Payment []
Sent: today, this month, real recent time
Subject: Your Federal Tax Payment has been rejected. Report ID: xxxxxxxx (some numbers, sometimes sequential if from the same spammer/phisher/cyber-criminal/needle-dicked bugfvcker)

Your Federal Tax Payment ID: 012345678 has been rejected.

Return Reason Code R21 - The identification number used in the Company Identification Field is not valid.

Please, check the information and refer to Code R21 to get details about your company payment in transaction contacts section:

In other way forward information to your accountant adviser.

EFTPS: The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
PLEASE NOTE: Your tax payment is due regardless of EFTPS online
availability. In case of an emergency, you can always make your tax payment by calling the EFTPS.

What changes, slightly, is the subject (sometimes the message has "URGENT" at the start of the subject, sometimes not), the content (sometimes the line "In other way forward information to your accountant adviser" is present, sometimes not). The URL "" is not the actual URL that the message redirects you to -- that's just the URL label. The actual URL differs, usually directing people to a server in Russia through a variant of the domain name "" where the "xxxx" is a series of numbers. A traceroute on the various URLs comes back with different domain hosts / admin information, but the email headers from any message you receive usually include an ip address (and sometimes a source node) for where the message may actually be from -- or at least one of the potential zombie machines it was sent from.

Should you receive any such emails (I've received about 12 so far over the past few days), there's a quick and easy way to report them to the IRS (see below). In general, any time you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the Treasury or US government, you can go to the US Treasury's website for contact information about how to report the phishing attempt, or -- if you've been a victim of a cybercrime, particularly if you've lost money or property -- you can go straight to the IC3 site and file a complaint (or 2, or 3 -- or 12 -- as the case may be).

For this particular email scam and for cases specifically involving the IRS and tax scams, go to the IRS page for more information. The IRS is already aware of this particular scam, but you should still report it and provide the details of the email source to help their cybercrime investigators track the perpetrators. Usually, a great and simple method to do this as well as report these types of fraud involves the following:

  1. View and copy the full header information of the email,
  2. Forward the email message to, with a copy of the full header information pasted within


Whatever you do, do not click on the links of any suspicious emails, even those purporting to be from the IRS or US Government, unless you can be sure that the link goes to where it says it is going.

More information is available about this at the IRS site on fraud/phishing/abuse (same IRS link as provided a few sentences ago).

Be careful out there, and remain ever-vigilant for those cyber-criminals who'll try to steal you blind almost as fast as the Bush/Cheney Administration and their Republican Congressional majority gutted the national treasury and destabilized our entire economy and infrastructure.

Why is the American social safety net so weak?

This piece is a crossposted excerpt from a slightly larger piece originally posted on DailyKos. Our thanks to the writer, Democrats Ramshield, for the crosspost. The opening has been slightly edited for clarity, as the original lead-in material is not included within this crosspost. Those are the only alterations. -- GH

How does the US social safety net protect working families?

Did you know that virtually speaking the United States is the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't offer job protected paid maternity leave by right of law? To which this diary offers a number of quotes below. In reviewing those quotes please ask yourself the question, what type of family values is Yankee capitalism promulgating for the working class?

Paternity Leave / international comparisons

Did you know that 157 countries offer paid maternity leave?

Check out Wikipedia: "Parental Leave": there's a shocking chart which is an embarassment to the United States


Let's take a look at how the French maternity leave policies work to support families as an earned benefit provided to working people. In doing so please consider the quote below.

Maternity Leave in France

CNN: Bindi Dupouy, an Australian living in Paris, and her French husband, just had their first child, a son born in the country.
Dupouy, a 28-year-old lawyer, got almost five months paid maternity leave from her company for the birth. She can take another seven months off beyond that -- a year total -- unpaid, if she wants, with her job guaranteed under French law.


Would you please consider telling your friends, family about how our British cousins are provided with extensive maternity benefits which maybe shared by hetero-sexual couples, as well as same-sex couples and single parent families? Isn't it time that we in the U.S. adopted these types of progressive family friendly policies?

Now we're talking about real family values not just lip service.


Monday Morning Open Thread: Taking Back The Initiative, "Dude, you HAVE no Koran!" Edition

Dude, you HAVE no Koran! A great retort against religious intolerance took place today in Amarillo, TX, when a 23 year old skateboarder named Jacob Isom took a kerosene-doused Qur'an away from David Grisham, leader of the religious extremist group "Repent Amarillo", and told him "Dude, you HAVE no Koran!"

To celebrate and commemorate the event, 8ackgr0und N015e of DailyKos posted an artwork diary with the image depicted above. Spread it around, linking back to the source and mentioning the truly patriotic actions of Mr. Isom in the face of religious extremism and bigotry.

The Teabaggers talk about "taking back America" as if taking us back to a time of extremist prejudice is a good thing. Let's "take back" the initiative, and put our nation squarely back on track toward further progress, more freedom, a greater understanding and tolerance and -- above all -- a much more united citizenry.

This is an Open Thread.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Random-ish News, Eclectic Edition

Here's a quick snapshot of some of the top stories crossing the wire on Google News at 4:25 am EST -- first, California fires are big news, esp. to those living in and around San Bruno:

Blast, fire raze Bay Area homes

Los Angeles Times

At least one person is killed and more than a score injured after an explosion rocks San Bruno. Several blocks go up in flames. Two firefighters from nearby Pacifica stand awestruck at the destruction in a San Bruno neighborhood.

In keeping with the burning theme, remember that kook who's planning to try and insult billions of Muslims by burning a boatload of Qurans, and ultimately try to become a one-idiot recruitment poster-child for Al Qaeda?

There was no deal made to halt Quran burning, Muslim leader says

CNN - Paul Courson, Carol Cratty

By the CNN Wire Staff (CNN) -- A Florida Muslim leader is disputing claims by the Rev. Terry Jones that he brokered a deal to get the Islamic center project near New York's ground zero moved if the pastor called off his Quran burning event.

Speaking of terrorism, and home-grown kooks,

US slow to recognise homegrown terrorism, says report

Former heads of 9/11 commission say US lacked strategy to counter threat posed by homegrown terrorists

So, while we may not have a strategy to help us counter homegrown crazies, we can at least scan people's brains to try to gauge their age:

Brain-age scans seen as potential gauge of child development

Washington Post - Rob Stein

Scientists have developed a scan that can measure the maturity of the brain, an advance that someday might be useful for testing whether children are maturing normally and for gauging whether teenagers are grown-up enough to be treated as ...

In order to continue such groundbreaking research, we first need to try to get a handle on our economy. That's where Mr. Goul -- ...erm, Goolsbee -- comes in:

Officials: Goolsbee to get key economic post at White House

CNN International - Ed Henry

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama could announce as early as Friday morning that he will tap Austan Goolsbee to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, according to two senior ...

That's your eclectic news roundup for Friday morning, 10 September 2010. Add your thoughts, comments or additional newsy-like tidbits in the comments, and remember: this is an Open Thread.


Saturday Morning Open Thread: Strange But True, Eclectic News Edition

Good morning, all, and welcome to the post-hurricane Saturday Morning Open Thread: Strange But True, Eclectic News Edition. Many of the items below were initially spotted on, so here's a hat-tip to 'em in appreciation.

Let's get started, shall we?


A weakened Earl blows by
Coastal residents braced for worst, but storm faded as it neared

Story reported by Erin Ailworth in Hyannis, Maria Cramer in Oak Bluffs, Brian MacQuarrie in Nantucket, Eric Moskowitz in Chatham, and Travis Andersen and Andrew Ryan in Boston, and was written by Peter Schworm on

A diminished Tropical Storm Earl whirled off the Massachusetts coast early this morning, raking Cape Cod and the Islands with pelting rain, strong gusts, and pounding surf, but packing less force than feared.

The storm, which had been an unusually strong hurricane, weakened as it moved north, and late last night was downgraded to a tropical storm after its sustained gusts slowed to 70 miles per hour.

...more on


...while this is simply disturbing:


Man in Miami airport scare once accused of transporting bubonic plague
By Jennifer Kay and Curt Anderson for the Associated Press

MIAMI—The suspicions airport security officials had when they saw the metal canister grew when they learned about the man who brought it in from the Middle East: a scientist who sparked a bioterrorism scare after he reported missing vials of plague samples seven years ago.

Officials shut down most of Miami International Airport overnight, roused nearby hotel guests from their beds and detained Dr. Thomas Butler until Friday morning, when he was released without charges, a senior law enforcement official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

Tests on the canister found nothing dangerous, according to a release from the FBI's Miami field office. Homeland Security spokesman Nicholas Kimball said the item resembled a pipe bomb.

Butler's former lawyer said the incident appeared to be a "fantastic overreaction."


Butler was released after tests showed that he, the container and his other belongings did not contain any hazardous biological material or explosives, the official said.


...more on


and this is just plain nuts:


Hampden firefighters charged with arson
by John M. Guilfoil and Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff

Five call firefighters were arrested Thursday night on charges that they set fire to two vacant buildings in Brimfield and another in Holland under cover of darkness and then responded to the blazes, getting paid for their work, according to authorities.

No one was hurt in the three fires in June and July, but the alleged actions of the five young men drew denunciations from their chiefs, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett said today.

...more on


And then there's this goofy one:


Homeless man calls 911 from hot tub, seeks cocoa
From the Oregonian Online, appearing on

BEAVERTON, Ore.—A homeless man who called 911 from the hot tub of a suburban Portland home and asked for towels, hot chocolate and a hug got arrested for trespassing instead.


The man said in his Sunday morning call that he'd been in the water about 10 hours and his towels had gotten wet. As he put it, "I just need a hug and a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it."

...more on


There's your morning lineup of random, assorted, strange and eclectic stories for a Saturday post-hurricane morning. Enjoy!

And remember, this is an Open Thread.


Their pay is only 15 Grand per week. How will they get by?

We can sit back and worry about how these poor people will get by in this economy (the disaster economy that they created) or we can work from the pragmatic point of view of reality and tell them to suck it up and tighten their own damned belts instead of trying to squeeze the middle class and the poor even more than they already have to pay for their own disasters:

Rachel Maddow and Jane Mayer, Astroturfing the Kochtopus

Continuing information that adds to, and overlaps, the recent piece by DeltaDoc, here's a clip of Rachel Maddow's interview with Jane Mayer, author of Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In case you missed the initial list of items to start boycotting with a vengeance, here it is again:

  1. Brawny paper towels
  2. Dixie Cups
  3. Stainmaster Carpet
  4. Lycra
  5. Georgia Pacific (Plywood, lumber...and paper?)

More info later -- let's take a chunk out of Koch's bottom line, and teach these teaparty-spawning, traitorous instigators of sedition a lesson in patriotism and economics. One that makes irresponsible, selfish, unregulated capitalism pay far less for such scurrilous activity.

Corporate activism, corporate sedition and treason: those are the most damaging items that are affecting and destroying our nation today. The Kochtopus is the funding spigot that directed monies to and through think tanks and sold the teabagger origins as a "grass roots" movement, instead of the corporate-spawned tool that the movement really is.

Astroturfing is one of the primary strategies of the Kochtopus; it's time to start targeting and cutting off the many arms, trimming the beast back to a more manageable size -- or destroying it, before its infection spreads any further.

On the Burlington Coat Factory Muslim Community Center

I know that many of us would be just as offended as these people, courtesy of brannyboy at MLN noting the absurdities of Linda McMahon's statement on this issue, over a mosque and community center being built 2 blocks away from Ground Zero on the hallowed grounds of a former Burlington Coat Factory retail store:

Arizona's SB 1070 - Another Case of "Follow The Money"?

[ed. note - CM1] Bunping this with an update from Rachel Maddow at the bottom. - Originally posted on 2010-07-26 19:30:52 -0400.

From Open Left, who profits from SB-1070? Two of Governor Brewer's top advisers...

When it leads to a profit, the GOP believes that taking away your freedom by subverting the law is a good thing.

More below the fold from Think Progress:

Marriage Equality Clears Another Hurdle In California

Last week, Judge Walker delivered a ruling on Marriage Equality that was deemed a success by the people fighting for this basic human right. But he also delivered a ruling on a temporary stay of implementing the the results of his decision. Today, Judge Walker gave his stay a deadline of July 18th.

A federal judge put gay marriages on hold for at least another six days in California, disappointing dozens of gay couples who lined up outside City Hall hoping to tie the knot Thursday.

Judge Vaughn Walker gave opponents of same-sex weddings until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriage should resume. Gay marriages could happen at that point or be put off indefinitely depending on how the court rules.

More from the NY Times:

The DoJ Flying Under The Voter Registration Radar

For anyone that believes that participatory democracy works better than suppressed democracy...

The DoJ recently hammered out some pretty darn good rules of the road and then some when it comes to the previously under utilized and relatively unenforced motor voter laws. From the Op Ed pages of the NY Times:

Prop 8 Roller Coaster in California

Judge Walker issued his rulings and struck down Prop 8 on the basis of violations of due process and equal protections rights:

Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result...; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8.

But it was all just one giant step forward before an immediate stall:

Census, Redistricting, Immigration and Voter Suppression

Think about the coming redistricting as a result of the recent Census.

Imagine that many states that will gain a lot more Congressional weight through the Census results inevitable redistricting suddenly decided to chase a particular growing population from their state with certain targeted policies in order to achieve the goal of keeping these newly minted Congressional heavy weights in the hands of a political party that would otherwise be losing grip in the future.

And just imagine if they were already doing it to a large degree and with great success.

I guess you do not have to imagine it all, eh?

How to kick yourself from the left and the right on immigration policy

From the Rachel Maddow show, Chris Hayes notes an odd contrast in immigration policies that is sure to piss off the left, right and even the middle. From the Maddow Blog:

President Obama is expected to deport 10 percent more people this year than President Bush deported in 2008. At the same time, the Obama administration has taken on Arizona's "Papers, please" anti-immigration measure. The federal government won a temporary injunction Wednesday against parts of the law that critics say would lead to racial profiling.

Whatever you make of the justice and fairness in this issue, there's a political calculation at work. Just months ago, the president's approval rating among Latinos was coming in at 79 percent. It's now down to 55 percent.

Video from The Rachel Maddow Show, with Chris Hayes sitting in for Maddow, below the fold.

My Cure for Corrupt Journalists

Journalism is a totally unregulated profession. It always has been and it should always be so, even when it fails miserably to do its job.

The dirty little secret about journalism is that you don’t need any special training to call yourself a journalist. You don’t need a license, you don’t need to join a union, and heck, you don’t even need a job or income to call yourself a journalist.

So, if you would happen to wake up someday disgruntled with your miserable life, you could grab a pen and a paper and write a news story. Once finished, you could declare yourself a journalist. It’s that easy. Well, almost.

Here’s a quick history of journalism in America from a little book published several years ago by the Indiana University Press.*