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Court Orders Shutdown of H-1B Critics' Websites 605

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the with-great-power-comes-awh-screw-it dept.
theodp writes "Computerworld reports that a NJ Superior Court Judge ordered hosting firms to shut down three Web sites that oppose the H-1B visa program and seeks information about the identity of anonymous posters. GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Comcast and DiscountASP.Net were ordered to disable ITgrunt.com, Endh1b.com, and Guestworkerfraud.com. Facebook Inc. was also ordered to disable ITgrunt's Facebook page. The judge's order was made in response to a libel lawsuit filed by Apex Technology Group Inc., which is citing its copyright ownership as it seeks the identity of the poster of a since-removed Apex employment agreement on Docstoc.com, which drew critical comments on US and India websites."
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Court Orders Shutdown of H-1B Critics' Websites

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  • hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:45AM (#30581882)
    ... this is odd play for the federation
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:46AM (#30581890)

    I think I'll enjoy sitting back and watching the information suppression fail. I was not aware of this story until they tried to suppress it. :)

    • by lorenlal (164133) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:57AM (#30582000)

      More than that... What exactly is the site doing that would cause a takedown order for the whole domain? I mean, taking down a confidential company document is one thing... But to just issue an order to remove the domain entirely seems like too much.

      But, I'm sure that when the sites come back up, they'll have even more readership.

      • by causality (777677) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:18AM (#30582220)

        More than that... What exactly is the site doing that would cause a takedown order for the whole domain? I mean, taking down a confidential company document is one thing... But to just issue an order to remove the domain entirely seems like too much.

        But, I'm sure that when the sites come back up, they'll have even more readership.

        I agree there was no reason to take down the entire domains. This really seems like it's becoming a standard tactic: put conditions into a legally binding contract, and then cry "copyright violation" when the contract is posted in public to the embarassment of its authors. An employment agreement is generally such a contract.

        I propose a change to the law along these lines: your contract may be legally binding and public-domain, or it may be non-binding and copyrightable. You are, after all, asking a government agency (a public servant) such as a court of law to enforce it for you.

        • by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:29AM (#30582326) Homepage

          Excellent policy. Makes sense, contracts should be public documents in all cases.

        • by mea37 (1201159) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:32AM (#30582350)

          It only takes a review of the purpose of copyright to see that the claim of copyright over an employment agreement should be thrown out. Whether the law itself is well-enough written to allow for that is another matter.

          OTOH, contracts can and routinely do include clauses to the effect that you cannot disclose the terms of the contract. Whether an employment agreement is a contract at best varies by state, but I'm aware of no reason they couldn't contain confidentiality agreements regardless.

          Of course, the protection for that isn't as strong as copyright. And in the end, it doesn't matter; if I know that a company isn't proud of its employment agreement such that they want it kept secret, then I'm thinking twice about subjecting myself to said agreement.

          • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:24AM (#30582896) Homepage

            "OTOH, contracts can and routinely do include clauses to the effect that you cannot disclose the terms of the contract. Whether an employment agreement is a contract at best varies by state, but I'm aware of no reason they couldn't contain confidentiality agreements regardless."

            Great, but of course not binding on any 3rd parties.

      • by horatio (127595) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:38AM (#30583076)
        I'm honestly a little bit confused about jurisdiction.

        On Dec. 23, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge James Hurley ordered firms that register domains...

        How does a county judge in nowhere New Jersey have any jurisdiction over multiple companies that are not in his county? He can't order someone who lives in Bakersfield, CA arrested for knocking off a 7-11 in downtown LA. It has nothing to do with his jurisdiction.

        DiscountASP.Net said it has disabled Endh1b.com after it received the order from the New Jersey Superior Court.

        Is this the same court, or a state court of New Jersey? Regardless, the same question applies. GoDaddy's domain (whois) shows that they're in Arizona. How the hell does some random county or state judge in NJ have any authority over a company in Arizona? I'm not saying that APEX should have no recourse at all. They're entitled to be heard in a court of law, but shouldn't it have to be a court that actually has jurisdictional authority over the target (GoDaddy, DiscountASP, etc)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hurricane78 (562437)

          How does a county judge in nowhere New Jersey have any jurisdiction over multiple companies that are not in his county?

          Simple: All the rules that you think exist, are actually only as meaningful, as they are supported by the ones in power. We still live in a society ruled by the law of the jungle. We just don’t know it, because the power is so remote and invisible.
          But in the end, if you make up your own rules, and are the one in power, of it’s something the ones in power like, they sill are the law of the land.

          That’s why Cheney can shoot a man in the face, and get away with it. Simple as that.

          Now all you h

    • This sounds like a job for Wikileaks to host.
  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:47AM (#30581896)

    Guestworkerfraud.com works for me...

  • Copyright BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:56AM (#30581984)

    I fail to see how an employment agreement can be copyrighted.

    • Re:Copyright BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:59AM (#30582022) Homepage

      Or even if it could be copyrighted, how that copyright could trump anyone's first amendment rights to comment on a matter of national concern.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        If there's anything that qualifies as fair use, I'd say this is it.

      • Re:Copyright BS (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:41AM (#30582470) Homepage

        The answer to your question: The Berne Convention [wikipedia.org], which affixes copyright on anything written down anywhere. Really. This comment is copywritten by yours truly thanks to that rule and that fun text at the bottom of the page, and as such if I were wealthy and a complete jerk I could sue someone for infringement if someone decided to plagiarize me.

        So now it's becoming increasingly common to suppress the publication of a bad contract via copyright rather than via an non-disclosure clause. Among other things, asserting copyright gives the plaintiff all the DMCA suppression capabilities that a contract violation does not.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:57AM (#30582006)
    Everyone knows much of he H-1B program is abused by employers, temp companies, and many of the workers themselves. "Go away. Nothing to see here."
  • H-1B is a Fraud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:59AM (#30582026)

    How can we be so short of American programmers and other IT people that we need to import foreigners in the middle of this awful recession?

    We aren't. It's fraud. It's meant to reduce your salary.

    It's the kind of fraud that Indians have ingrained in to their culture and Americans seem to get better at every day.

    • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:14AM (#30582180) Homepage Journal

      H1-B is meant to bring Indians into the USA and have them by the short hairs. I rather think that if an employer wants to bring someone onboard to the USA, they can, and should, without restriction, but, once you work in the USA, and pay taxes for six months, you should be made a citizen already.

      Taxation without representation is not fair.

      I thought we revolted from GB over that very issue, and it is despicable that we even tolerate this modern form of indentured servitude.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Heartz (562803)
      If somebody can offer a service at a cheaper more efficient price, why not? All this humbug about salaries that one "deserves" to get is purely protectionist and doesn't benefit anybody. Offering cheaper overall inputs provide better value for all Americans to enjoy. If you're peddling global free trade, you've got to be willing to accept that labour needs to move freely and capitalism dictates that the person who can do it cheaper and offers an apple to apple comparison of quality will win. It's pure econo
      • Re:H-1B is a Fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

        by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:39AM (#30582446) Homepage

        Except when the quality declines, and is considered acceptable because it saves so much money. The world is full of copy-and-paste programmers, and call centers with thick accents and no grasp of common English. And Americans are the worst to trust with voting with their dollars. The vast majority pick the cheapest every time, with no regard to quality.

      • Re:H-1B is a Fraud (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:53AM (#30582592) Journal

        If somebody can offer a service at a cheaper more efficient price, why not? All this humbug about salaries that one "deserves" to get is purely protectionist and doesn't benefit anybody. Offering cheaper overall inputs provide better value for all Americans to enjoy. If you're peddling global free trade, you've got to be willing to accept that labour needs to move freely and capitalism dictates that the person who can do it cheaper and offers an apple to apple comparison of quality will win. It's pure economics. If somebody can do something cheaper than you can, and is willing to do it, then there is nothing wrong with it.

        I agree with this in theory. However, it's not the fact that there are a bunch of "Lazy Americans" (which there are plenty of hard working Americans BTW) who want their cake and be able to eat it too, it's the fact that the only commodity being banked on by companies are how to reduce salaries for the 97% of their worker base while the "Big C's" (CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, etc..) keep their bonus' going up. It's about disparaging differences. I don't mind someone who has built a company up to keep a lions share, however, people with a backbone understand that without hardworking people in the company throughout the ranks, they would be no where and have no company. You are either Pimping or being Pimped now days.

        Why doesn't any of this "globalization" affect health care? Where are my lower premiums or cost of health care when globalization is supposed to lower prices while raising service? I mean if you say it works for IT why not health care? Or how about food prices, they too are still going up even though there are many foods imported from all over the world. I guess your argument would be that they would be even higher if everything was left to grow only in the U.S. and sold in the U.S.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tibman (623933)

        I agree with you. But (sorry) that only works if everyone is playing in the same sandbox. If the cost of living and doing business in the US is higher than Mexico (for example) then a company would save a lot of money moving the actual factories to Mexico and continue to sell to the US. The new factory doesn't have to restrict it's byproducts and emmissions as much as in the US and the local population has a lower standard of living. But the price of the product to Americans does not go down, right? So

      • Re:H-1B is a Fraud (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Znork (31774) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:25PM (#30583674)

        Offering cheaper overall inputs provide better value for all Americans to enjoy.

        If done under the same rules.

        you've got to be willing to accept that labour needs to move freely

        Ah, but see, labour doesn't move freely, most labour is stuck where it is. The current state of affairs enables some brilliant exploitations of that fact; western labour is kept stuck in high-cost systems, exacting as much revenue as possible through means such as 'intellectual property' and similar systems that prevent the price reductions from reaching the market as far as possible, making the western labour utterly uncompetitive, while using what amounts to negative interest rates to further exact revenue and prevent price collapse as they move deep into debt.

        The combination of low-cost parts and high-price parts of the global system and the regulations keeping them separate and competition tightly limited to what is 'approved' makes the exacting of wealth by middle men exceedingly simple, and possible to a much further extent than earlier.

        and offers an apple to apple comparison of quality

        It's rather hard to offer an apple to apple comparison in a global system where it's hard to trust even the currencies the trade is done in.

        If somebody can do something cheaper than you can, and is willing to do it, then there is nothing wrong with it.

        Well, unless it's movies. Or books. Or music. Or medicine. Or software or hardware or fashion or shoes or sports gear or...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pdabbadabba (720526)

      Well, maybe it does reduce your salary, but I doubt that's the point. Rather, I imagine it's to get bright, foreign-educated workers to put down roots in the US so that we get to reap the economic benefits of the educational systems of their home countries, thus causing a brain drain into the US. Only really works if the US has a much higher standard of living though...

  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:01AM (#30582044)

    it seeks the identity of the poster of a since-removed Apex employment agreement on Docstoc.com

    Seriously, the document in question should have been uploaded to WikiLeaks.
    Anyone have a copy or linkage? I can't find it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:10AM (#30582780)

      related post on itgrunt from google cache [74.125.155.132] ... I would like to take this oppurtunity to highlight several aspect''s of the 9 page legal agreement which might be important for you. For example: 30 day termination notice or forget your last paycheck when you quit, If you join a company (including any level between you and Apex) then pay $35000 or face a law suit, $9000 for legal,training and guest services when you quit. $35000 if you quit in between a contract...etc. The legalities of the agreement are convoluted,complex and can/will be used against you if you displease Apex technology Group Inc. So once you sign that document you are at the mercy of the employer and much worse than a bonded labour in India. Apart from above, employees don''t receive their salary at the end of the month. It is usually received @ a random date in the following month, provided you are lucky. Else you would have to chase HR/Accounting to get your pay check. This process helps Apex technology group inc to hold back pay incase you choose to accept employment at another location. The most important aspect of your transaction''s with Apex Technology Group Inc is that they tell you one thing before you transfer your H1B to their consulting firm and then later do not stick to what they say(aka lies & cheating). In other words once you file/transfer your H1B to them you more or less become their slave and you will get entangled in thier web of lies and legal documents...

      Holy indentured servitude Batman!

  • Sold justice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:05AM (#30582096) Homepage Journal

    this is what happens in a cutthroat, unregulated capitalist system. rich can buy justice, whereas individuals can buy shit. enjoy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by introspekt.i (1233118)
      Libel is libel, buddy. Get off your high horse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShatteredArm (1123533)
      Indeed. To borrow from one Mr. Churchill, it's the worst system there is, except all the others that have been tried.

      Seriously, though, the ability to buy justice is not an attribute of free market capitalism, but crony capitalism. Free market capitalism has never been tried.
  • by DragonFodder (712772) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:06AM (#30582100)
    fascism
    /fæzm/ Spelled Pronunciation [fash-iz-uhm]

    –noun
    1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly
    suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc.
    , and emphasizing an aggressive
    nationalism and often racism.

    Courtesy of Dictionary.com
  • First amendment (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:06AM (#30582102) Homepage

    How is this not clear cut first amendment? A collection of websites expresses a political opinion. A potentially tort-able act, distributing a copyrighted document occurred. That doesn't give the courts the right to issue a blanket cease publication order.

    Assuming the Computer World story is correct Judge James Hurley should be removed from the bench. I want to post this here for comment, since I live in NJ and thus have a state Senator that has oversight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DustyShadow (691635)

      Please excuse my ignorance of the case because I have not read all the details or TFA but I did skim it and it sounded like it was just a temporary injunction. This sort of thing is common in civil cases where the plaintiff alleges some type of damage if the "behavior, action, etc." continues during the litigation. A court will issue a temporary or preliminary injunction in the meantime. The plaintiff normally has to show that it is likely to win the lawsuit. Sometimes the plaintiff also has to purchase

      • Re:First amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:40AM (#30582458) Homepage

        Yeah, but the injunction was against the entire site, not merely the libelous statements. Would it be fair to shut down all of Slashdot because of one libelous post? Also, if this is a copyright issue, then a DMCA notice is sufficient to have the document removed. No need to take down the entire site.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jbolden (176878)

        Well my issue is First Amendment. Courts are not permitted to take illegal action in an injunction. For example they can issue an injunction preventing you from mowing your lawn they can't burn your house down.

        And it probably wasn't a permanent injunction, I agree but think that is irrelevant. The judge should still be off the bench.

        • Libel trumps free speech. If the plaintiff's libel case is proven, then issuing a permanent injunction against the libelous page would be an appropriate resolution (legally speaking). As long as a libelous page is up, it continues to cause harm. These two facts together then justify a temporary injunction for the duration of the case.

          At least that is the legal reasoning. I'm not saying I agree with it, but that is the way the law currently stands. For example, in this case the information isn't time cr

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jbolden (176878)

            OK that's an interesting point. The problem here is that the claim is copyright violation not libel. That is the plantiff is claiming the information is true not false. AFAIK true information cannot be libelous.

    • Actually, I'd just say it's a property rights issue. It'd be first amendment if the government were trying to silence them, but it seems this is in response to a private company trying to silence them through the courts. Note any less important, just a different issue. Criticism is on private property, isn't false, thus forcing them to take it down is violating their property rights.
    • Re:First amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:16AM (#30582834) Homepage

      It's not just First Amendment violations we're talking about here.

      The order impacts stuff completely out of his jurisdiction. Unfortunately, for the Judge, he's just issued an order that has National and International ramifications and at least one of the companies in question happens to be based in Scottsdale, Arizona (GoDaddy...).

      HOW can a state judge issue such orders? This is actually quite outside of his jurisdiction as best as I can tell.

  • Maybe if we had a president that said he was going to do something he could actually do, this wouldn't be a problem at all. The president's job isn't to create jobs, and I feel bad for all of you that voted for Obama because you thought he was going to change the country into a fully employed working class with free healthcare.

    One of the biggest crocks of shit I've heard these holier than thou politicians say repeatedly, is that they are going to use our tax money to create jobs. Jobs that our very own gove

    • by drsquare (530038) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:20AM (#30582238)

      DEY TOOK OUR JERBS!!!

      But seriously, you want to turn the USA into an isolated state like North Korea just so you don't have to compete for employment. And you haven't thought it through very well: protectionism works both ways. Cut yourself off from the world, and US companies won't be able to outsource any of their products. They'll have no option but to move their entire operations outside of the US, then you won't have any jobs at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lawpoop (604919)

        And you haven't thought it through very well: protectionism works both ways. Cut yourself off from the world, and US companies won't be able to outsource any of their products. They'll have no option but to move their entire operations outside of the US, then you won't have any jobs at all.

        That's fine. They can sell their products outside of one of the largest markets in the world. Plenty of other companies will be happy to sell products in the American marketplace, employing Americans to produce them.

        Globalism is nothing new. It's been going on since the 1500s. Protectionism works very well for countries who want to build themselves up. All of the countries that have become industrial powerhouses -- the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Korea, and now China -- did so by using t

      • by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:34AM (#30583016) Homepage

        Considering that it was overall cheaper for Dell to slowly move their Customer Support operations to places like Oklahoma City instead of India, there should be a hint in that for all of you that keep spouting this BS line... :D

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      reclaiming our outsourced jobs, canceling all worker visas, banning of outsourcing, banning of multinational corporations, and fighting illegal immigration with the greater enthusiasm than drugs and terrorism.

      That would be so fun...

      Watching the states committing economic suicide, becoming unable to sell below any other country's prices or being forced to cut its entire workforce's salaries to china ranges.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:48AM (#30582540)

      , canceling all worker visas, banning of outsourcing, banning of multinational corporations, and fighting illegal immigration with the greater enthusiasm than drugs and terrorism.

      Stop being ignorant. We *need* the worlds most talented engineers to come to the US legally, work here and pay taxes. If anything, we probably need stricter hiring practices. If Americans hire crappy engineers, it isn't the engineer who is at fault for trying. Also, If you think you're so better than the Indian H1-B you should have no problem convincing any employer to give you a job. I have never seen a (US citizen) programmer who is proficient unable to get a job. If you're run of the mill average, as I suspect most of these sites' members are, then tough shit.

      Btw, I'm pretty sure Linus Torvalds came here on an H1-B Visa ;)

  • suggestion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the US needs something akin to a license for software engineers. The barrier to entry in this field is too low.

    While I have done very well over the last 23 years in this field, I would not recommend the investment in a CS degree alone to my children. Be an entrepreneur, doctor, plumber, electrician, nuclear engineer as your main profession.

    CS is a useful SECONDARY profession because it gives you the tools to support your main endeavor.

    Due to globalization the field is too unstable and vulnerable t

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:16AM (#30582194) Homepage

    They're suing for copyright infringement as well as libel? Please tell me there's something more to the libel allegations than just the posting of the contract. Otherwise, they're either suing for libel over the posting of a legitimate document or suing for copyright infringement over a document they do not own.

  • Ok so who has the torrent link to the docs!?

  • by mandark1967 (630856) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:33AM (#30582368) Homepage Journal

    I'd tell the court that I called in the order to take the site down to my out-sourced IT Support Center and I am still on hold...

  • Perhaps everyone should post the doc on their website. let it go viral.
  • by base3 (539820) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:36AM (#30582412)

    Apex had an outstanding reputation in the information technology field . . .

    There, fixed that for you.

  • by assertation (1255714) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:02AM (#30582690)

    I remember a few months ago some local government tried to require job applicants to turn over their Facebook and other such similar logins. Obscure situation.....until it became the buzz in the blogosphere. The resulting public embarrassment and censure got the local government to scrap that policy.

    To that end here is the URL for the contact page of Apex:
    http://www.apextgi.com/contactus.php [apextgi.com]

    Let them know what you think.

    Anyone have the contact information for the judge or the relevant agency of the NJ state government?

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:33PM (#30583808) Homepage

    See The Thugs At Apex Technology Group [74.125.155.132].

    There's nothing there which could possibly be a copyright violation of Apex's content. They're quoting from "Tunnel Rat" on "endh1b.com".

    "...I would like to take this oppurtunity to highlight several aspect''s of the 9 page legal agreement which might be important for you. For example: 30 day termination notice or forget your last paycheck when you quit, If you join a company (including any level between you and Apex) then pay $35000 or face a law suit, $9000 for legal,training and guest services when you quit. $35000 if you quit in between a contract...etc. The legalities of the agreement are convoluted,complex and can/will be used against you if you displease Apex technology Group Inc. So once you sign that document you are at the mercy of the employer and much worse than a bonded labour in India. Apart from above, employees don''t receive their salary at the end of the month. It is usually received @ a random date in the following month, provided you are lucky. Else you would have to chase HR/Accounting to get your pay check. This process helps Apex technology group inc to hold back pay incase you choose to accept employment at another location. The most important aspect of your transaction''s with Apex Technology Group Inc is that they tell you one thing before you transfer your H1B to their consulting firm and then later do not stick to what they say(aka lies & cheating). In other words once you file/transfer your H1B to them you more or less become their slave and you will get entangled in thier web of lies and legal documents..."

    That sounds like a legitimate labor complaint. Some of those terms are probably illegal under U.S. labor law. See, for example, California law on prompt payment of wages. [ca.gov]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      True, but sadly complaining means they will cut you and you end up back into the hell hole you came from.

  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @02:35PM (#30585340)

    skilled foreign workers should be fast tracked for citizenship. Any nation that makes migrating to the other side of the world look good DESERVES to lose their best and brightest.

    The biggest problem is that H1B visa holders are made dependent on the company that hired them. If that company turns out to be yet more proof that Dilbert is non-fiction, they're stuck. They're forced to put up with the abuse or go home. Removing that dependency would eliminate much of the abuse.

    Or maybe the biggest problem is that so many Big Businesses appear to be run by shortsighted sociopaths with MBAs. Or that Congress is corrupt as hell and is easily bought by said sociopaths. Or... anyhow, Indians aren't the problem.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

Working...