Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The World’s Fastest Failure


The World's Fastest Failure
Jeffrey Tucker
October 30, 2013

Obamacare certainly has made history. It has set the record for the fastest-failing Big Government program in world history. This isn't only about a website flop; it is about the failure of government to accomplish the aims of Obamacare in general, and in a way that has profoundly touched millions of individual lives.

"Train wreck" is a good term here. You know it is coming. You can see the maps. You can predict the timing and the damage. But there is still something stunning about seeing the spectacular explosion actually happen in real life. For students of shoddy government attempts to mimic the market, it's been a beautiful confirmation of everything we know.

Back to the speed of the disaster. It took decades for Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and all the rest to enter into the unsustainable, unintended-consequences phase. It was a generation before the costs blew up and the service dwindled. Most welfare programs begin with at least the appearance of a net win.

Not this one. It took only a few days after Obamacare was released for it to enter the archetype phase into which all forms of compulsory government systems eventually collapse. Never have the rotten tomatoes flown so fast and so furiously.

The ridiculous cost overruns were, of course, there from the beginning. The website alone: $600 million. More striking has been the astonishing fact that that program designed to give more people access to health care has already resulted in the exact opposite. More people have been kicked out of their existing service than have successfully signed up for a new one. The intended beneficiaries -- the uninsured -- have little or no interest in it, while the already insured are more scared about the future than ever.

The American health care system has been a mess for a long time, but this much can be said about it: It has been somewhat stable. The costs have been high and rising, but not completely unaffordable. And because of the genuine market-based elements remaining in the existing system, American health care has at least been innovative with lifesaving technologies. Doctors got paid and medical services were profitable.

Suddenly, the future seems uncertain and even scary for nearly everyone. If one day you can get a letter from a provider that doubles premiums and makes them equal to the full wages of a salaried employee, there is a serious problem. Not even the worst predictions about Obamacare imagined such a thing.

All the more maddening has been the way the president himself seems hopelessly confused about the nature of the technological failure of the main delivery system. He seems to be living in the past, in which a website was nothing but a billboard or a static information provider.

That's not the way websites are today. Websites are both portals to and extensions of the real world. They must mirror and even drive thinking and behavior of all users. And contrary to what people believe, they are not easy to build. A great website is every bit as complex as an elaborate good in the material world.

To build one requires a blithering array of decisions among trade-offs. Most people see only the user interface, but this is like paint on a car. The engine itself can be enormously complex and subject to infinite bugs. You can write code or go with existing structures. You can choose among thousands of possible languages and management systems or build your own. Database structures are a science unto themselves.

It is a challenge enough in the private sector. To build a website for something like The New York Times or Twitter is a monumental task that never ends. This is one reason that startups are better at building websites than large corporations. Large corporations have to cut through their own bureaucratic apparatus to get it done right, whereas startups are fortunate to have a clean slate from which to build code.

For government, it is far more difficult, if not impossible. Governments are not used to having customers in a traditional sense. They have consumers of their products, but their profitability does not fundamentally depend on them. The government way is to extract revenue by force and spend it according to political priorities. Profit and loss do not matter and, in fact, can't even be calculated. That's because government is not a wealth producer. It is a wealth consumer.

There is a reason that governments can't build websites. A website is like the market itself. It is always in development. For a site to be useful, it must always be adapting to change. There is no final release that is also not a tombstone. Governments are horrible at this task. Governments want to freeze time and enforce compliance with the plan, users be damned. So the failure of HealthCare.gov is not an accident; it is a reflection of the failure of government itself to be a productive, efficient, and useful part of the social order.

This is why a website fix seem so untenable. Note from the congressional hearing that politicians doing the grilling do not understand the first thing about computer code. They can't understand the language. They can't understand the functionality. What's more, it is not clear that Republicans have any real incentive to intervene in the meltdown. This is the first time in perhaps six years that the Republicans have a chance to ride high.

The prospect of how Obamacare can permanently wreck the legacy of this administration is tantalizing, indeed!

What lessons can we learn here? This is about the failure of one type of socialism, but it is a different type from nationalization. Obama and his friends never attempted to end the market. They attempted to set up a market that operates like a real one, but with politically expedient results. In other words, they are attempting to "play market" while subverting crucial market institutions like fees, private property, freedom of choice, authentic competition between providers, and experimental entrepreneurship.

The idea that government could "play market" was the fallback position of post-socialist planners of the 1940s and 1950s. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises predicted that this would never work. You can assemble the world's smartest people, give them maximum power, throw massive resources at the problem, and still end up with what Mises called "planned chaos." That's the best description of the health care world since Obamacare was unleashed on the world.

Some predictions for the future of Obamacare: It will not be repealed. It will be intolerably tightened. More physicians will leave the system. More of the uninsured will choose fines over premiums. The market will continue to provide ever more options outside the system. Leaving the country for surgery and other services will become more common. Buying prescriptions from emerging markets will become mainstream.

Through fits and starts -- and with many victims along the way -- a market for health care will emerge, but it will be outside the official channels. Eventually, Obamacare will collapse of its own weight.

  http://lfb.org/today/the-worlds-fastest-failure/#sthash.StTGPFW4.gB6Gtc6M.dpuf

“Think of an Escape Plan NOW!”


"Think of an Escape Plan NOW!"
Thomas DiLorenzo

That's what retired talk radio host Neil Boortz told Sean Hannity today in response to Hannity's queries as to which neocon he thought could save America from disaster.  After Boortz reminded Hannity that there are 108 million people on the public dole and only 101 employed persons in the work force to pay for it, all Hannity could do was to blabber something about Senator Ted Cruz (R-Bush Family).

Re: NYC Topless Activist Wins $40K Settlement

I know Holly and am so happy she won, it has been an amazingly awful ride for her, but she has kept her art and activism through it all!!! She deserves this and more!!!


On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 2:49 PM, Travis <baconlard@gmail.com> wrote:

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Fwd: To The Point News--- THE ISLAND OF FUBAR




[[ Perfect for obarfo and all his obamabots. ]]


Here is what FUBAR stands for:
F---d up beyond any recovery -- From military situations in WWII
.


Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

nauru_map.png

Nauru.  Welcome to the world's smallest country - a tiny isolated rock in a remote part of the Pacific, right on the Equator, 8.1 square miles with 9,300 people living around its 10-mile circumference. No one lives in the interior and we'll soon find out why.  Of all 193 Member States of the United Nations, Nauru is the smallest in population.  Only Monaco (less than 1 square mile on the French Riviera) is smaller in area.

I wanted to reach the three most unknown and hidden nations in the South Pacific on this excursion.  I found Tuvalu entrancing, and Tarawa in Kiribati repelling - but now I have made it all the way to the bottom of the Pacific's barrel.

I have been to almost all of those 193 UN countries (189 in fact), and I can confirm that Nauru is more FUBAR than any other.  Actually, that's an understatement.  You all know what the acronym means, and Nauru takes it to a whole new dimension, a higher standard of fubaredness than the rest of the world which is unlikely to be surpassed in our lifetimes if ever.

Better get comfortable in your favorite chair with at least three fingers of your favorite adult beverage at the ready to get through this.  You'll find it hard to believe but this is a true story.  Kafka himself couldn't have made it up, although he would have relished the irony in how it applies to us.  The photos are all mine.

We'll start with what Nauru unbelievably looks like.  Note the green strip around the perimeter and the vast gray uninhabited interior.

nauru_island2.png

Nauru is a coral outcrop built up over five million years on top of an ancient volcano summit that eroded to sea level.  There's no lagoon, just the solitary island in the middle of a vast ocean.  For those five million years, countless nesting birds pooped on the coral depositing millions of tons of guano.  Polynesians showed up in their outrigger canoes a couple of thousand years ago to eat the birds, fish, gather coconuts, and make war between the dozen clans they divided the island into.

The Germans claimed the place in the 1880s and put an end to the inter-clan warfare.  The Brits stole the island from the Germans after World War I, and began a mining operation of the island's interior containing one of the richest and highest-grade deposits of phosphate in the world.  

This came to a halt when the Japanese seized the island during WWII, but resumed after the war.  Nauru was now a UN Trust Territory run jointly by the Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis - who were jointly stupid enough to grant Nauru full sovereign independence in 1968.  

When the Japanese surrendered the island at the war's end, there were less than 800 Nauruans left alive.  By 1968 there were still less than 2,000 - while agricultural production in both Australia and New Zealand had become dependent on Nauru's "superphosphate" for the fertilizer making that production possible.  

Yet this tiny number of Nauruans somehow intimidated these huge countries into full sovereign ownership of the island and all phosphate production.  Mining the phosphate had been hard labor-intensive work, chipping the solidified guano out of fossilized limestone coral pinnacles.  Yearly production in the 50s and 60s was in the thousands of tons.

The new Nauru government wasted no time in creating the government-owned Nauru Phosphate Company that went full-bore to produce as much phosphate as possible by strip-mining.  Soon, Nauru was producing 1-2 million tons per year.  During the 1970s and 1980s, Nauru was making $100-$200 million a year in phosphate profits, giving Nauruans the world's highest per capita GDP (over $50,000 per person per year, higher than any other country on the planet).

For 30 years, from 1968 to 1998, Nauru produced 43 million tons of phosphate at a cumulative profit of $1.8 billion.  Yes, billion - for a few thousand people.  And they blew it all.

Everyone had a brand-new car.  Nauruans' favorite pastime was driving around the island - which takes about 20 minutes - over and over like a lab mouse running on a circular treadmill, while drinking Pale Blonde Aussie beer and throwing the empty cans out the window.

No one paid any taxes, everything was paid for by the government as Nauru became a total welfare state.  Nauruans changed governments like musical chairs so that everyone was on the gravy train.

Nauruans became fully sedentary.  Consuming enormous quantities of beer and rice, Nauruans became and still are the most obese people on earth - it is astounding how fat they are - and have the world's highest rate of diabetes (e.g., 53% of Nauruan women over age 55 have diabetes).

During Nauru's go-go days, the police chief bought himself a $200,000 yellow Lamborghini.  Off-loaded at the dock all shiny spanking new, the chief was the proudest guy on the island - until he tried to take it for a spin only to discover he was too fat to squeeze into it.

Nauru's circular road was littered with car wrecks crashed by drunks.  The politicians in charge of the Nauru Phosphate Trust Fund squandered incredible fortunes on expensive real estate buys they trashed like office buildings in Australia, or hotels on Waikiki in Hawaii and the Grand Pacific in Suva, Fiji, then letting them go kaput.  They spent millions on a play, Leonardo (da Vinci) the Musical, panned by critics and audiences as one of the worst in history of theatre, and to which the entire cabinet and their families flew to London in their private jet for the disastrous debut.

They insisted on having their own prestige airline, Air Nauru, with five Boeing 737s and two 727s flying routes all over the Pacific at 10-20% capacity.  Often, the president or one of his cronies would commandeer a plane ready to fly in order to take his family on a shopping spree in Hong Kong or Tokyo, leaving all the passengers and their luggage stranded on the tarmac.  By 1990 Air Nauru was losing $100 million a year.  By 1996 it was down to a single 737.

As phosphate production began winding down in the 90s, the politicians began borrowing against the trust fund to bankroll their lifestyle and the Nauru welfare state.  General Electric Capital Division lent them $236 million.  Phosphate production fell off a cliff in 1998 and was down to almost zero in 2006.  GE foreclosed in 2004.  Air Nauru ceased operating in 2005 with its one plane seized by creditors.  

The state was so bankrupt it couldn't pay its satellite phone bills and lost contact with the world for several months.

Today, Nauru is kept on life support through aid and handouts of various kinds from the governments of Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.  Nauruans think the world owes them a living.  Very few have any drive or incentive.  The population has quintupled since independence as Nauruan women have an average of 4 children - yet parents could care less if their kids go to school.  Truancy is rampant, with Aussie teachers here telling me their students have almost no desire to learn anything.

People here are fatter than ever and dying like flies from diabetes, smoking, heart disease and booze.  Men die on average at age 56, women a few years later.  At least a quarter of Nauruan children are stunted from malnutrition, eating sugar junk food and white rice.  Most Nauruans live in destitution.  Most of the island looks like Detroit in the Pacific Ocean.

There are no banks here or insurance companies.  There is no Nauru currency - the official currency is Australian dollars.  Every transaction is cash.  Almost all real jobs are done by ex-pats, mostly from Australia, or elsewhere in the Pacific like Tarawa or the Marshall Islands. Almost all businesses and shops, mostly tiny tin shacks, are run by Chinese. Defunct Air Nauru has been restarted with one 737 bought as a gift from Taiwan.  It operates as, I kid you not, Our Airline.  That's the actual name of Nauru's airline now.

As of 2013, according to the New Zealand government, Nauru's public debt is around $869 million. After wasting or stealing $1.8 billion, not one single Nauru politician has been prosecuted, much less jailed.  One reason is because of any 5 Nauruans, 2 are related.  They were all in the scam together.

Now let's take a look at the Island of Fubar.  Remember I asked you to note the vast gray patch of the island in the picture above?  80% of the island has been rubble-ized by phosphate strip mining, leaving countless stone coral pinnacles.  

Nauruans call this area "Topside," and you have to see it to believe it.  Pinnacles up to 20 feet high as far as you can see.  It's a mind-boggling ecological catastrophe.  Topside - 80% of Nauru - is utterly uninhabitable and always will be.

nauru_topside.png

nauru_topside4.png

nauru_topside3.png

Nauru's beaches exist only at low tide, and are also studded with coral pinnacles.  They are natural formations, but make the beaches jeopardous and unswimmable.

nauru_big_pinnacle_beach.png

nauru_pinnacle_beach.png

That beach front home you see?  Here it is close up.  Completely trashed, it's not abandoned - people live here.  I love the thoughtful touch of old blue jeans as window curtains.

nauru_beach_home.png

Most Nauruans live in trashed tenement homes.  Here's another - note the loving attention paid to front yard landscaping, given that this is a lush, tropical South Seas island:

nauru_home.png

Trashed office buildings are everywhere also.

nauru_office.png

There's an idyllic lake called Buada Lagoon...

nauru_buada.png

But it's trashed too.

nauru_buada2.png

There's also the gigantic wreckage of the abandoned phosphate operation.

nauru_pwreckage.png

nauru_pwreckage2.png

Recently, however, it's been revived to extract "secondary" lower-grade phosphate.  The enormous processing plant has been reopened.

nauru_pplant.png

With the emission of huge clouds of phosphate dust...

nauru_pdust.png

That everyone in Nauru's largest community of Aiwo below the plant has to breathe.  Adding insult to injury, the government put up this hilarious sign in Aiwo.  Note the processing plant behind it.

nauru_sign.png

I'm quite sure by now that you see the irony reeking in all of this, that it has dawned on you that Nauru is what Zero wants to turn America into, that he wants to turn Americans into Nauruans.  The latest headlines proclaim it:

90,609,000: Americans Not In Labor Force Climbs To Another Record.

U.S. Spent $3.7 Trillion On Welfare In Last 5 Years.

Census Bureau: Means-Tested Gov't Benefit Recipients Outnumber Full-Time Year-Round Workers.

We were the richest people on earth and now the most indebted, borrowing trillions to maintain our welfare addiction and dependency.  It is this addiction and dependency that got Zero elected and reelected.  What has destroyed Nauru is what is destroying America - especially when we are governed by a president and a party determined to do so, and have an opposition party too stupid and cowardly to prevent it.

There is no hope for the Nauruans, for they have passed the point of recoverability, of no return.  Their state must soon cease to exist, with the island abandoned and its inhabitants scattered elsewhere. (What is going on as an insane attempt to prevent this fate will be discussed next week.)

Is there hope for us?  Sure there is.  Americans are not Nauruans, no matter how much Zero attempts to "fundamentally transform" them.  Just look at the utter FUBAR of Obamacare, the lynchpin of his presidency, for evidence.

There is nothing fubared in America that a President Ted Cruz can't rectify - especially if he's teamed up with a Vice-President Ben Carson, MD.  

So ends my odyssey to the Remote Pacific.  Soon I head back to America, from a land of no hope to a land where there is still hope, and where we have the opportunity to turn that hope into reality. Cruz-Carson '16!





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Fwd: The Arithmetic Absurdity of Obamacare







The Arithmetic Absurdity of Obamacare

Posted By Charlie Martin On October 29, 2013

Once upon a time, there was a little town called Potterville, population — well, big enough. Potterville had a bookie named Harry. Harry was a happy bookie, taking bets on horse races and football games, and paying off with a smile when he lost.

Harry was also a smart bookie, which is why he always paid off with a smile; he always made sure his bets were covered, and he was making a little extra money to pay his rent and keep him in sharkskin suits, snappy fedoras, and two-tone shoes.

One day George comes to Harry. George is 25 years old and just married, and he's worried that if he dies, his new bride Mary will be impoverished and unable to bury him. So he wants to make a bet. If George dies, Harry will pay Mary $1000, which will pay for the funeral and leave enough for Mary to pay off the ramshackle old house they just bought on the edge of town.

Harry, as a smart bookie, knows that the odds of George dying in the next year are about 1000 to 1. So he takes the bet, asking George to give him $2 and promising to pay Mary $1000 if it turns out George's number is up.

Now Harry, being a smart bookie, knows that he should put away $1000 for that year so he can pay off the bet if George should happen to jump off a bridge or something, but he hates to tie up that whole $1000 for a year. So Harry starts talking to other people; a lot of them are also worried what will happen to their families if they are run over by a milk truck or something, so they want to make a similar bet.

Now, Harry thinks this is a pretty cool business, and he has a lot more people who want to protect their families against bad things happening than who want to bet on Soap Factory in the 8th. Bert the cop comes in; he's a little older, and he's got a risky job, so Harry charges him $10. Ernie the taxi driver he charges $5. Old Man Potter comes in: he's, like, 90, in a wheelchair, smokes cigars. Harry figures his odds aren't great, so he charges Mr Potter $400 — figuring the good die young but Potter is still likely to die soon.

Now, this really is a good business — he's giving people some sense of security. He changes the name from "Harry's Betting Parlour" to "Potterville Life Assurance." Pretty quick, he can build a brick building on Main Street and change from the sharkskin suits to good conservative gray flannel. Still the same business, but "insurance" sounds so much more respectable. And here's the funny thing: the more people he insures, the less he has to charge. See, the more customers he has, the less likely it is that a run of bad luck is going to use up all his money. And it's a good thing, because it's such a good business that Giovanni around the corner has closed his bookie parlour and opened his own insurance company; pretty quick both of them are competing on prices and service. He needs to be able to reduce that price or Giovanni steals his customers.

Uh, clients. That sounds more respectable too.

Then Oscar Barry, candidate for mayor, has this wonderful idea. Sometimes people die who don't have insurance, and Potterville ends up paying for their funerals; sometimes people end up taking a collection to help the widows and orphans. Wouldn't it be great if everybody had life insurance?

Of course, everyone thought it would be great. Even Harry and Giovanni thought it'd be great — after all, they made a little bit on every policy; the more policies they sold, the better, right? And Oscar is elected mayor, and he makes it a law that everyone over the age of 25 has to have life insurance.

But then things started to get more complicated. Annie the maid is getting on, and she's diabetic and has high blood pressure; she is a higher risk. Both Harry and Giovanni independently say she's got a 1 chance in 10 of dying in the next year, so even though they've been able to lower the cost of their insurance, they still need to change Annie $110 for that $1000 policy. (Oh, yeah, policy sounds much more respectable than "bet.") But Annie can't really afford to pay $110. And it's really unfair that Old Man Potter, and all the other 90-year-old cigar smokers, have to pay $400 when George is only paying $2. So the mayor decides there ought to be another law: everyone has to pay the same amount for insurance.

Harry and Giovanni don't know a lot about laws, but they know how to do division. Taking everyone in the whole of Potterville put together, they realize that when you add in George, and Bert, and Ernie, and Annie, and Old Man Potter, about 10 people out of every 1000 are going to die every year. So, the policies have to cost about $10 per person per year, plus some margin. Call it $15.

That winter, though, someone has a heart attack and dies while shoveling snow. The mayor speaks movingly about the tragedy and says people shouldn't have to risk death for their snow shovels; there ought to be a law. Harry and Giovanni should have to pay for having the snow blown off everyone's driveway as part of their life insurance policies.

Now Harry and Giovanni have a problem. It snows every year in Potterville. (Just in time for Christmas, and for a couple of snow days for the kids every February when summer seems years away.) This isn't like life insurance, they're going to have to pay every year for every policy. It's going to cost about $50 per policy per year. There's no escaping it: they'll have to charge more. The $50 for the shoveling, plus now they have to pay to track the snowfalls, and hire teenagers with shovels, and write checks. The new price on the policy is going to have to be $70 — $10 for the life insurance bet, and $60 for the cost of shoveling snow.

Just to beat this to death, notice that the snow shoveling isn't insurance any more; there's no aspect of betting at all. Unlike the life insurance, Harry and Giovanni know they're going to lose every year. If they don't charge as much as it's going to cost them, they go broke. And in fact they've got to charge more than the snow shoveling would cost if people just arranged their own snow shoveling, because now they have to do all the paperwork for what would have been handled by giving the teenagers a $10 bill and a cup of hot chocolate.

And let's not even mention what happens when the show-shoveler's union gets involved.

But now, that $70 is getting a little tough for Annie, and George is perfectly happy to shovel his own snow — he and Mary and the kids shovel the snow and make snowmen, and take goofy pictures to embarrass the kids with in 20 years. And hell, that $70 is getting to be a chunk of change for him too. All he wants is the $2 life insurance policy he had before Mayor Barry was elected, but he can't get that any more.

And then he finds out that instead of paying $70 for the life insurance and snow shoveling policy, he can just pay $5 as the tax on people who don't have life-insurance-and-snow-shoveling policies. Oh, it still sucks, but it sucks about $65 less than it would have. That $5 goes back to City Hall, where it's supposed to be used to pay for people who can't afford life-and-show-shoveling insurance. But first it has to pay for the Life and Snow Shoveling Insurance Office and the Life and Snow Shoveling Insurance Office administrator, and the staff.

Now, what's the point of this little fable? Basically, this is the story of health insurance. We started off with "major medical," which was a way to protect yourself against big medical bills that everyone hoped they wouldn't have; now what we've got is that major medical — but we're also paying for snow-shoveling, er, we're paying for everyone's day to day medical care, and we're paying for it in pretty much the most expensive and complicated possible way: through a federal government agency and insurance companies.

Isn't that just ever so much better than it was?


Article printed from PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-arithmetic-absurdity-of-obamacare/

 



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Fwd: The Thuggery of Obamacare Czarina Kathleen Sebelius






The Thuggery of Obamacare Czarina Kathleen Sebelius

Posted By Michelle Malkin On October 30, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is allergic to the truth. She is the ruthless enforcer of Obamacare's Jenga tower of lies upon lies upon lies. Now that this fatally flawed government edifice is collapsing, you can expect Sebelius to do what she has done her entire career: blame, bully and pile on more lies.

Three years ago, when insurers and other companies had the audacity to expose Obamacare's damage to their customers and workers, Sebelius brought out her brass knuckles. Remember? As I reported at the time, the White House coordinated a demonization campaign against Anthem Blue Cross in California for raising rates because of the new mandate's costs. Obama singled out the company in a "60 Minutes" interview, and Sebelius sent a nasty-gram demanding that Anthem "justify" its rate hikes to the federal government.

A private company trying to survive in the marketplace was forced to "explain" itself to federal bureaucrats and career politicians who have never run a business (successful or otherwise) in their lives. Sebelius went even further. She called on Anthem to provide public disclosure of how the rate increases would be spent — a mandate that no other private companies must follow.

In an even more heavy-handed effort to suppress criticism, Sebelius wrote America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, "calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act." The threatening cease-and-desist letter commanded: "I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases. … Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."

The speech-stifling gag order declared war on every opponent of Obamacare who dared to question the administration's phony claims of cost-savings or expanded access.

When McDonald's notified the feds that it might have to cancel health insurance plans for 30,000 workers because of Obamacare's effective prohibition on low-cost plans, Sebelius slammed The Wall Street Journal for reporting the story. She then rushed to issue McDonald's an Obamacare waiver, the first of thousands to quell criticism and bleeding.

Health care policy analyst Merrill Matthews points out that Sebelius cracked her whip against health insurer Humana even before the law had passed. When the insurer warned seniors that an Obamacare proposal to cut reimbursements could harm their Medicare Advantage benefits and coverage, Sebelius demanded that the company "suspend potentially misleading mailings to beneficiaries about health care and insurance reform."

The warning, of course, proved true. In September 2010, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care canceled MA policies covering 22,000 seniors precisely because of Obamacare rules on reimbursements and MA-style plans.

Sebelius' power-mad partner on Capitol Hill, Henry Waxman, targeted companies including Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and ATT in a brass-knuckled effort to silence companies speaking out about the cost implications and financial burdens of Obamacare. After the firms reported write-downs related to the Obamacare mandate (disclosures that are required by law), Waxman scheduled an inquisition hearing to berate them publicly. After the Democrats' own congressional staff pointed out that the companies "acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards" in submitting filings that were required by law, Waxman called off the hounds.

It was a temporary reprieve. Caught with their pants down on the Obamacare website abomination and unable to stifle the cries of millions of Americans who are unable to keep the plans and doctors they like, Sebelius and her corrupt company are now blaming insurers, contractors and customers for the Obama administration's ideological mess. In short: They lied, but for your own good. Culture of Corruption 101.

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URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/michellemalkin/the-thuggery-of-obamacare-czarina-kathleen-sebelius/

 



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Fwd: Islamerica, Eurabia and Eurasia







Islamerica, Eurabia and Eurasia

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On October 30, 2013

Obama has claimed that the United States is "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world." While the actual number of Muslims is in dispute, Islamerica is no match for Eurabia or Eurasia.

Europe has 44 million Muslims. If Turkey crawls into the European Union, that number will climb to 118 million. That's more than double the number of Latinos in America.

If Obama decided to take in all of Syria and Somalia, just to be extra generous, his Islamerica still wouldn't have a hope in hell of catching up to Eurabia or to the Eurasian Union.

The new evil empire in the east isn't the USSR; it's Eurasia, a replacement for the Warsaw Pact that turns away from the troubled economies of Eastern Europe toward the population-rich and resource-rich Muslim republics providing a growing share of Russia's military and labor force.

The Eurasian Union, which is to include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and possibly Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is on track for 2015. A Eurasian Union would double Russia's Muslim population and triple it if Putin is able to bring all the members he wants into his own EU.

These numbers are only placeholders. The real numbers are powered by demographic change. The Muslim birth rate is double that of the Russian birth rate. A similar situation exists in Europe.

Some demographers are forecasting a Muslim majority in Russia by 2050. Europe's Muslim population is projected to hit 58 million by 2030. By 2050, the United Kingdom and France could have majority Muslim populations if current birth rates as well as immigration and welfare policies continue.

A Muslim population race might seem irrational, but consider that those same numbers also forecast that a Muslim Great Britain will be the biggest country in Europe by 2050. Going from the UK to the UC, from a United Kingdom to a United Caliphate, would seem like a poor tradeoff just for sheer size, but with low birth rates, weak economies and a lack of local energy, there is no shortage of experts who think that bringing in immigrants with high birth rates and lots of youthful energy is the answer.

If Americans find that attitude baffling, they might want to consider how much bipartisan support there is for amnesty and open borders among their political and expert classes. The men at the top have done the math, or at least some of the math, and determined that current birth rates mean an impossible tilt in entitlements spending as too many younger workers collapse under the burden of an aging population that failed to have enough children because it put its faith in government instead of family.

The two EUs, the European Union and the Eurasian Union, are trying to solve the problems of low birth rates and decadent societies the same way that we are. The difference is that their favorite brand of immigrant is even more destructive and dangerous.

European and Russian leaders are thinking in terms of quantity rather than quality. That's the same mistake our leaders have made. Everyone is looking forward to competing with China by having 500 million people, without really thinking about who those people will be or noticing that there are shrinking numbers of workers and entrepreneurs off the dole who are doing any actual competing.

Chinese leaders know that a large population is a weakness that invites disharmony. The People's Republic of China, like its ancestor regimes, seeks to balance growth with stability. It would never occur to it to import millions of hostile strangers. It has a Great Wall and an ample historical memory to remind it of all the times it fell apart from internal tensions and barbarian invasions.

Russia's Eurasian Union is less foolish than the European Union because it is a tyranny and exercises close control over its Muslim (and non-Muslims) population. There is little tolerance in Russia for the likes of an Anjem Choudary who would sooner or later be the victim of a "mugging" by an assailant in a black leather coat with a silenced pistol. But a vehement critic of Islam might meet the same fate.

The Eurasian Union is a less dishonest version of the European Union, dispensing with the nonsense and getting right to the point. It recognizes that Muslim demographics are inevitable and wants to harness them for regional power while having little interest in the first EU's obsessions with Green Energy or human rights. It won't even bother with the fake elections whose results the first EU ignores.

Both EUs are leagues ahead of Islamerica when it comes to sheer self-destructiveness, but Islamerica is still in the race. The 2.6 million Muslims of 2010 America will hit 6.2 million by 2030. Those numbers aren't as catastrophic as anything coming out of London or Moscow, but numbers can be tricky things. Population growth has a way of sneaking up on you even with a perfectly predictable growth trend.

Europe did not pay very much attention to the Muslim demographic bomb because the numbers were at first too slight and the only places to notice their effects were in the streets of working class towns. And then the numbers seemed too inevitable to do anything about except mumble reassuring things about integration.

America is still at that opening stage where the numbers seem to be too slight to be worth worrying about. Even 6.2 million doesn't seem worrisome in a country as large as the United States of America. And that is a dangerous oversight. Demographic bombs don't go off overnight. They tick away as they double and double again until, like interest rates and the march of time, they explode in your face.

The European and Eurasian Unions confuse large Muslim populations with international influence. Obama made that same mistake when he asserted proudly that the United States was one of the world's biggest Muslim countries. Having a large Muslim minority is a source of conflict, not power.

Advanced countries with large Muslim minority populations include the United States, France, Thailand and Israel. In all of these countries, the Muslim minority has been an explosive element spurring conflict, terrorism and cycles of violence that are never broken.

China understands that stability is more important than size. The younger world powers trying to compete with it would do well to learn that simple lesson.

Eurabia, Eurasia and Islamerica aren't the future. They're multicultural roadmaps to national suicide.

*

Don't miss Jamie Glazov's video interview with Daniel Greenfield about The Left's Unholy Alliance with Radical Islam, Obama's Brotherhood Romance, the Huma Abedin-Anthony Weiner saga, and much, much more:

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  


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URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/islamerica-eurabia-and-eurasia/

 



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Fwd: Russian Authorities Seize Goods from China Implanted with "Spy" Chips





 

http://gizmodo.com/russian-authorities-seize-goods-from-china-implanted-wi-1454035786

 

Russian Authorities Seize Goods from China Implanted with "Spy" Chips

 

A weird thing happened in St. Petersburg last week. The Russian press reports that local officials intercepted a shipment from China that contained home appliances with "spy" microchips capable of spreading malware to wi-fi enabled devices within 200 meters. Tea kettles were apparently the chief culprit.

Specific details of the dodgy shipments remain shady. It's unclear, for example, if the chips were installed by the Chinese or by cyber criminals en route to Russia. It's also unclear how Russian authorities spotted the contraband in the first place, although one report claims that the weight of some shipments were slightly off. Finally, the extent of the fiasco is also unclear, though limited press coverage suggests that it's contained to a small shipment in St. Petersburg.

While the story seems ridiculous enough to second-guess the local press reports, as The Register argues, the story appears to check out. The publication confirms the details in a report from the RosBalt press agency, quoting one customs official from Panimport, as well as the employee of the appliance company who found originally the bugged devices. It's also entirely possible to build spy chips small enough to be implanted in a household appliance and powerful enough to connect to local wi-fi networks. The detail about a difference in weight of the shipment might seem a little more suspect, but we don't know exactly how big or heavy these chips really are.

The ultimate question remains: Why on Earth was somebody sending appliances implanted with spy chips to St. Petersburg? This is real James Bond territory, except there's no clear target or mission. It's possible that local authorities were mistaken about what they found. After all, Wi-fi-enabled tea kettles do actually exist.

Related

To Avoid Cyber Espionage, Russia's Switching Back to Typewriters

Hackers aren't going anywhere any time soon, so Russian spies are wising up and taking their most sensitive intelligence offline. Not offline… Read…

Did Russia just freak out about the latest technology finally making it to their shores? Maybe, and if so, it wouldn't be the first time.

 



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Fwd: Hackers target Obama's Twitter account links








Hackers target Obama's Twitter account links

TECHNOLOGY, US: NEWS, BARACK OBAMA, BUSINESS NEWS

CNBC.com | Monday, 28 Oct 2013 | 2:04 PM ET

It appears a prominent element of President Barack Obama's Twitter presence was briefly compromised on Monday.

A link sent out from the president's Twitter account @BarackObama was meant to send people to a story on the The Washington Post's website, but instead it sent many of those who clicked to a video on YouTube about terrorism and Syria.

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claimed responsibility for the breach in a Twitter post.

"Thanks to our operation, Twitter now blocks Obama's dangerous propaganda links. #SEA"

The link now appears to be working correctly. CNBC has reached out to the White House for comment, but has not yet received a response.

It's important to note that @BarackObama's official Twitter account, which has about 39 million followers, was not hacked, but the link shortener tool that the president's campaign team uses to share links on Twitter was breached.

The link shortener is a third-party tool used by Obama's Organizing for Action grass roots campaign and it is not affiliated with Twitter.

"It appears a custom, third-party URL shortener which OFA uses to produce vanity URLs was compromised, not the Twitter account," a Twitter spokesperson told CNBC.

In another Twitter post Monday, the SEA also said they had gained access to many of Obama's campaign email accounts.

"We accessed many Obama campaign emails accounts to assess his terrorism capabilities. They are quite high #SEA"

The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for several big attacks on media organizations. Most recently, SEA claimed to have been responsible for taking down The New York Times website in August. It also claimed it had taken down Twitter.com's domain registration in August.

(Read more: New York Times website likely taken down by malicious attack )

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.

Eamon Javers and Eli Langer contributed to this report.

© 2013 CNBC.com

URL: http://www.cnbc.com/101149112

 



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Pelosi's latest whopper: Why do politicians lie about such things?







October 30, 2013

Pelosi's latest whopper

Rosslyn Smith

Nancy Pelosi, who was born in Baltimore in 1940, recently opined on the latest left wing cause, changing the name of the Washington Redskins.

Pelosi noted that when she was growing up in Baltimore, the city didn't have a football team.

"So one of the first songs I ever learned in my whole life was, 'Hail to the Redskins.' I didn't have the faintest idea what I was saying, but I've known it forever," she said.

For Baltimore football fans, given their rich history of triumph, loss and betrayal, Pelosi's statement is a ROTFLMAO howler. After all, from 1947-1950 Baltimore was home to the Baltimore Colts professional football team in the old All-American Football Conference.  Those Colts won only eleven games in four years before folding due to financial pressures.  

In 1953, when Pelosi was 13, the NFL formed a new team also named the Baltimore Colts.  In 1958, under famed quarterback Johnny Unitas, those Colts brought glory to Baltimore with a championship victory in perhaps the greatest NFL game ever played.  This nationally televised game that ended in a dramatic overtime victory marked the birth of professional football as a major national sport. Baltimore fans went wild with a huge crowd greeting the Colts on their return to the city. 

Then in 1969, Baltimore fans were stunned when the mighty Colts were upset by the upstart AFL New York Jets in Super Bowl III.  Two years later, Colts fans' world shifted when their team became part of the American Conference after the NFL and the AFL merged. 

Finally, in 1984, in a huge blow to municipal pride, the Colts snuck out of town in the middle of the night to find greener pastures in Indianapolis.  Baltimore was without a pro football team until 1996, when the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens, a move that shocked Cleveland fans as much as the Colts' departure from Baltimore a dozen years earlier had shocked Charm City fans. 

Now some young women may have been oblivious to all the sports drama that occurred in their city while they were growing up, but Pelosi wasn't ordinary.  Her father was mayor of Baltimore from 1947 until 1959 when the Colts were being founded, and her brother was mayor from 1967 to 1971. Thomas D'Alseandro Jr. and Thomas D'Alesandro III both understood the value and prestige a professional sports team brings to a city.  

One of Tommy D'Alesandro's lasting legacies to Baltimore was the huge effort he made to restore major league baseball to that city in 1954 after a five decade long absence by getting the American League to approve of Bill Veek plan to move the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore.  (The New York Yankees actually began as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, moving to New York as the Highlanders in 1903.) With a professional football team active in Baltimore for all but two years from the time his daughter Nancy was seven, it seems about as likely that "Hail to the Redskins" was heard around the D'Alesandro household as it would be to hear a member of Chicago's Daley claim they had grown up as fans of the Green Bay Packers. 
 
Why do politicians lie about such things?  Perhaps one reason is that the media never calls Democrats out on their self serving whoppers.

 

 


Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/10/pelosis_latest_whopper.html at October 30, 2013 - 12:55:04 PM CDT



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Fwd: NYC Topless Activist Wins $40K Settlement

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Fwd: NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide





NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Wednesday, October 30, 12:19 PM

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA's acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from "metadata," which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA's principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency's British counterpart, GCHQ. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain why the agency infiltrates Google and Yahoo networks overseas.

In a statement, Google said it was "troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity."

"We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links," the company said.

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman said: "We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency."

Under PRISM, the NSA already gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling U.S. technology companies, including Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data matching court-approved search terms. That program, which was first disclosed by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper, is authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to "full take," "bulk access" and "high volume" operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.

Outside U.S. territory, statutory restrictions on surveillance seldom apply and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has no jurisdiction. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has acknowledged that Congress conducts little oversight of intelligence-gathering under the presidential authority of Executive Order 12333 , which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies.

John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst and frequent defender who teaches at the Naval War College, said it was obvious why the agency would prefer to avoid restrictions where it can.

"Look, NSA has platoons of lawyers and their entire job is figuring out how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole," he said. "It's fair to say the rules are less restrictive under Executive Order 12333 than they are under FISA."

The operation to infiltrate data links exploits a fundamental weakness in systems architecture. To guard against data loss and system slowdowns, Google and Yahoo maintain fortress-like data centers across four continents and connect them with thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable. These globe-spanning networks, representing billions of dollars of investment, are known as "clouds" because data moves seamlessly around them.

In order for the data centers to operate effectively, they synchronize high volumes of information about account holders. Yahoo's internal network, for example, sometimes transmits entire e-mail archives — years of messages and attachments — from one data center to another.

Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take "a retrospective look at target activity," according to one internal NSA document.

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google "goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers," according to one of the company's blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.

Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

In an NSA presentation slide on "Google Cloud Exploitation," however, a sketch shows where the "Public Internet" meets the internal "Google Cloud" where their data resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is "added and removed here!" The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. "I hope you publish this," one of them said.

For the MUSCULAR project, the GCHQ directs all intake into a "buffer" that can hold three to five days of traffic before recycling storage space. From the buffer, custom-built NSA tools unpack and decode the special data formats that the two companies use inside their clouds. Then the data is sent through a series of filters to "select" information the NSA wants and "defeat" what it does not.

PowerPoint slides about the Google cloud, for example, show that the NSA tries to filter out all data from the company's "Web crawler," which indexes Internet pages.

According to the briefing documents, prepared by participants in the MUSCULAR project, collection from inside Yahoo and Google has produced important intelligence leads against hostile foreign governments that are specified in the documents.

Last month, long before The Post approached Google to discuss the penetration of its cloud, vice president for security engineering Eric Grosse announced that the company is racing to encrypt the links between its data centers. "It's an arms race," he said then. "We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game."

Yahoo has not announced plans to encrypt its data center links.

Because digital communications and cloud storage do not usually adhere to national boundaries, MUSCULAR and a previously disclosed NSA operation to collect Internet address books have amassed content and metadata on a previously unknown scale from U.S. citizens and residents. Those operations have gone undebated in public or on the floor of Congress because their existence was classified.

The Google and Yahoo operations call attention to an asymmetry in U.S. surveillance law: While Congress has lifted some restrictions on NSA domestic surveillance on the grounds that purely foreign communications sometimes pass over U.S. switches and cables, it has not added restrictions overseas, where American communications or data stores now cross over foreign switches.

"Thirty five years ago, different countries had their own telecommunications infrastructure, so the division between foreign and domestic collection was clear," Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee, said in an interview. "Today there's a global communications infrastructure, so there's a greater risk of collecting on Americans when the NSA collects overseas."

It is not clear how much data from Americans is collected, and how much of that is retained. One weekly report on MUSCULAR says the British operators of the site allow the NSA to contribute 100,000 "selectors," or search terms. That is more than twice the number in use in the PRISM program, but even 100,000 cannot easily account for the millions of records that are said to be sent back to Fort Meade each day.

In 2011, when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court learned that the NSA was using similar methods to collect and analyze data streams — on a much smaller scale — from cables on U.S. territory, Judge John D. Bates ruled that the program was illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and inconsistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-infiltrates-links-to-yahoo-google-data-centers-worldwide-snowden-documents-say/2013/10/30/e51d661e-4166-11e3-8b74-d89d714ca4dd_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboPN_p



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