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Govt. Computers Hacked Thanks to Pretty Face



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This is how easy it is to hack into government computers. ZDNet reports:

Government agency compromised by fake Facebook hottie

Using social media profiles and a photo of a real (and consenting) woman, two hackers fooled a government employer into believing she was an employee, conning them out of a company laptop, network credentials, and more.

They used “her” Facebook and LinkedIn connections to send out holiday cards linked to an attack site, which the government employees visited, and scammed one employee into sending her a work laptop – as well as network access credentials and more, such as SalesForce logins.

The researchers used the imaginary pretty girl’s poisoned holiday e-cards to gain administrative rights, obtain passwords, install applications and stole documents with sensitive information – some of which, according to the hackers, included information about state-sponsored attacks and country leaders.

Miss Emily Williams – run by puppetmasters security researchers Aamir Lakhani and Joseph Muniz - even convinced a security team executive to click a javascript exploit masquerading as a birthday card, thus compromising his laptop.

Lakhani told an audience at RSA Europe 2013 on Wednesday, October 30, ”This guy had access to everything. He had the crown jewels in the system.” 

Mr. Lakhani presented the team’s research findings at RSA Europe in a talk titled Social Media Deception, the results of his team’s sanctioned 90-day “Emily Williams” penetration test experiment on a US government agency, conducted at the end of 2012.

Lakhani declined to state which U.S. government agency was infiltrated and compromised by the fictitious Miss Williams. He told the RSA audience that his team’s pre-Snowden attack was performed on a very secure agency that specializes in offensive cybersecurity and protecting secrets, one where previously only zero-day attacks had been successful in pentests leveraged against the unnamed agency.

And what did it take to crack this “very secure agency that specializes in offensive cybersecurtiy?” This woman:

 Feel safer yet about Healthcare.gov? The rest here.

 

CBS: Just Six People Signed Up on Day 1 of Obamacare



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Bloomberg Businessweek Cover vs. Obama and Healthcare.gov



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Keep in mind, this cover is for a story on the president by the very liberal Ezra Klein:

 

Matt Lauer Dressed as Pamela Anderson for Halloween



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CBS: Federal Govt. Paying over $1B to Fix State Exchange Websites



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Yesterday President Obama touted Oregon as a success story in his speech on the ACA in Boston:

Oregon has covered 10 percent of its uninsured citizens already because of the Affordable Care Act.  Ten percent of the uninsured have already gotten coverage.  (Applause.) 

CBS reports, however, that the Oregon website has yet to enroll a single person online. Those that have enrolled have been through the mail. CBS also reports over a billion in federal-tax dollars are being spent to fix the non-functioning sites in Oregon (and others). 

Via The Right Scoop.

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The Problem with PolitiFact and Their ‘Fact Checks’



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I’ve been checking out old Fact-Checks from PolitFact of late and found this one pretty egregious. Here they check the claim by Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and his statement, “the employer mandate “affects only 5 percent of businesses in this country.”

Only 5 percent. That’s important, because here’s PolitiFact’s conclusion (emphasis mine):

Van Hollen said that 5 percent of businesses would be affected by the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. While different surveys produce different numbers, the Census Bureau has been in this line of work longer than any other body, and its data show that 3.6 percent of firms employ 50 or more workers. That is the group for which the mandate would apply; other firms are too small. The Congressional Research Service relied on the Census data. We found no one who challenged the Census numbers.

So Van Hollen’s figures are correct. However, his claim focuses our attention on the number of firms, which makes the mandate issue look small. But when seen through the lens of individual workers, it is a bigger deal. How big is difficult to say but the significance is larger than the 5 percent number he used.

In PolitiFact terms, the statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.

We rate the claim Mostly True.

How can they rule Van Hollen is mostly true when in their own admission, they write “when seen through the lens of individual workers, it is a bigger deal”? They should be fact-checking Van Hollen’s use of the word “only” and not his 5 percent figure.

And, as contrary to what PolitiFact states, it’s not terribly “difficult” to determine the exact number. I used the same information that PolitiFact used above to to arrive at “3.6 percent of firms employ 50 or more workers” and found that this equates to 80.5 million workers or 72 percent of the workforce.

So if you define “only” as affecting 80.5 million workers, than yes, PolitiFact is accurate. But since doing so is moronic, this fact-check is worthless.

 

 

Jon Stewart vs. CNN’s ‘Good Thing or Bad Thing’



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Hilarious:

 

Rachel Maddow Accuses Rand Paul of Plagiarism



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Over his alleged use of a plot summary from the Wikipedia entry of the movie Gattaca.

Yes, this looks to be a minor embarrassment to Rand Paul (or more likely, to his speech writer), but let’s not lose focus on what he was saying, why he was saying it, and why Rachel Maddow noted it: This is all about Paul’s stand on abortion.

Paul has used the Gattaca reference in the past, for example, like in this speech at the annual banquet for “Right to Life Owensboro” [Kentucky] on October 18:

In his speech, he used the 1997 science fiction film “Gattaca” to demonstrate his views on abortion. The film is about a future society that profiles embryonic genes and screens them for diseases prior to implanting them. The main character, who had an imperfection in his DNA and was predicted to die at age 30, used someone else’s DNA to fulfill his dream of becoming an astronaut.

“Imagine that kind of world, like a China with a one-child rule controlled by the state … a world where man has the ability to perfect DNA,” Paul said. “Will we get to that point where we eliminate people?”

Paul told the stories of a few renowned people with disabilities, including theoretical physicist Steven Hawking, who has a paralyzing motor neuron disease; Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy; and prolific German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven, who was deaf.

“Wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if we decided only those with perfect DNA could be born?” Paul said. “Would we eliminate part of our humanness, part of our specialness? Would we be flying too close to the sun?”

Paul said technology has helped the anti-abortion agenda progress, citing ultrasounds. Babies can also be operated on in the womb at 20 weeks, he said, but not without anesthesia.

“That’s a very potent argument; the baby won’t stay still without anesthesia because it can feel pain,” he said.

Maddow doesn’t think this is an important issue? Maybe she can let us know her stance on aborting a baby that a future genetic test finds has a chance of being born gay.

Jon Stewart Continues His Obama Criticism



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This is fantastic on the president’s “total ignorance of what the administration is doing.”

 

 

 

NBC Says Obama Knew Millions Would Lose their Health Insurance



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And after the story broke last night and was widely circulated, the link from NBC News mysteriously stopped working. Speculation was quick, as you’d expect on Twitter, with many wondering if Team Obama had somehow killed the story. Nah. It was just a “glitch.” Did NBC News tweet a not-so-subtle dig and the rollout of Obamacare? I hope so:

Team Obama pushed back against the NBC report. Some examples. . .

. . .FACT! Yes, there are no regulations whatsoever in the ACA that are causing insurance companies to cancel policies. Not one damn thing.

And how about some zombie-imagery? Eviscerates!

. . .Please, Dan, tell us: these people getting cancelation letters is just normal turnover? Really? Reads more like Obamacare “eviscerates” consumer choices in the individual market.

Let’s add a link to PolitiFact for some gravitas when challenged. . .

But did Josh Earnest actually read what he linked to from PolitiFact? Doesn’t look that way. Or, maybe, he’s just cherry-picking. Either way, he’s wrong (emphasis mine):

Our ruling

Rubio said, “300,000 people are going to lose their individual coverage because of Obamacare. Now those people next year, they don’t have health insurance.”

Rubio was referring to letters Florida Blue started sending to consumers in the individual market in August. The letters do tell consumers that their particular plan will end due to the Affordable Care Act. That’s because the plans typically don’t offer the comprehensive coverage that is required under the new law.

However, the letters also state that consumers will have “continuous health care coverage” and assigned them a particular plan, or gave them the option to contact Florida Blue and choose another plan. So their coverage is not dependent on being able to buy insurance through healthcare.gov, the government’s online marketplace.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

See that Josh? Some 300,000 in Florida losing their coverage because of the ACA was ruled “true” by PolitiFact. You still need to answer the question, “Are health insurance companies lying in these cancellation letters when they cite ACA as the reason?”

And as a bonus, please show this PolitiFact piece to Valerie Jarrett to fact-check her ridiculous claim that Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. Thanks!

 

 

Suzanne Somers vs. Obamacare in the WSJ



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Her post on the WSJ’s “Experts” blog is getting some attention today — but the WSJ has issued the following correction:

An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin (“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state”) that has been widely disputed. And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill (“Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens“) that the Journal has been unable to confirm.

Also, the cover of a Maclean’s magazine issue in 2008 showed a picture of a dog on an examining table with the headline “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You.” An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the photo showed and headline referred to a horse.

That’s what happens when you don’t fact-check your “experts.”

AP Fact-Checks Sebelius



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AP:

Misstating the health care law she is responsible for administering, Kathleen Sebelius has asserted that the law required health insurance sign-ups to start Oct. 1, whether the system was ready or not. In fact, the decision when to launch the sign-up website was hers.

The troubled debut of the government’s health insurance enrollment website has raised questions about whether its start date should have been delayed to allow testing and repairs before it went live. Asked last week whether that might have been the wiser course, Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, said that wasn’t possible because the law required an Oct. 1 launch.

In a visit to a community health center in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Sebelius acknowledged more testing would have been preferable. “In an ideal world there would have been a lot more testing, but we did not have the luxury of that and the law said the go-time was Oct. 1,” she said.

But the law imposed no legal requirement to open the website Oct 1. The law says only that the enrollment period shall be “as determined by the secretary.” The launch date was set not in the law, but in regulations her department had issued. Agencies routinely allow themselves flexibility on self-imposed deadlines.

Officials could have postponed open enrollment by a month, or they could have phased in access to the website. Oregon, one of the 14 states that built its own website under the federal law, did just that, allowing initial website access only for counselors instead of the general public.

So, was she lying or she really didn’t understand what was required? The rest here.

SNL Spoofs Sebelius



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I didn’t find the bit that funny, but at least SNL is noticing the Healtcare.gov failed launch. Video here.

L.A. Times Finds a Very Unhappy Obamacare Supporter



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ICYMI it from over the weekend, this Los Angeles Times schadenfreude-filled-piece on Obamacare “sticker shock” is a must read.

The headline. . .

Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out
Many middle-class Californians with individual health plans are surprised they need policies that cover more — and cost more.

An excerpt. . .

Thousands of Californians are discovering what Obamacare will cost them — and many don’t like what they see.

These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. Their rates are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama’s signature legislation.

“This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act.”

And this fantastic quote from an Obamacare supporter. . .

Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

“She said, ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,’” Kehaly said.

Well, somebody has to pay for all of the free stuff in Obamacare. Why not you?

Team Obama Dodges at First HHS-Tech Briefing



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Why is it a state secret to tell America who is fixing the website? Politico:

Pressed for more transparency, CMS began daily “operational briefings” with reporters today — on the record, but off camera, by telephone. Bataille is a communications officer, not knee-deep in the tech challenges. She didn’t say who was making repairs, how they would be paid for, or how many people had enrolled in health plans through what the agency has described as an improving system. A press aide cut off many follow-up questions during the call that lasted about 45 minutes.

Bataille also twice ignored questions about whether HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was aware of the tech issues that contractors had told other agency officials about.

She said the administration is “confident that certainly by Dec. 15” the enrollment system will run smoothly for consumers. That’s the deadline for people to sign up to get covered on Jan. 1, when new Obamacare insurance plans take effect.

The whole thing here.
 

WaPost Tries to Fact-Check the Cost of Healthcare.gov



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And can’t. The conclusion:

At this point, we have not reached a firm conclusion, and we find it telling that officials in the administration and on Capitol Hill are not able to provide a definitive answer either. We will continue to monitor this question and expand this column as necessary. But in the meantime, readers should be wary of many cost estimates uttered by lawmakers.

This shouldn’t be so hard to answer.

Imaginary Voter Disenfranchisement in Texas



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The latest: Women who changed their names and the transgendered will be disenfranchised by the new Texas voter ID law. Here are a few of the headlines:

The NationTexas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Women, Students and Minorities

TimeID Laws Present Problems for Women and Trans Voters In Texas

Salon: Texas voter law may disenfranchise a third of female voters

Wow. A third? That’s a lot. Which brings me to this headline, my favorite:

ThinkProgressTexas Judge Almost Blocked From Voting Because Of New Voter ID Law

“Almost blocked”? Let’s take a look at what’s going on. The following is from KIII TV, linked to in the ThinkProgress article above:

The problem came to light Monday, when a local district judge had trouble casting a ballot.

“What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote,” 117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts said.

Watts has voted in every election for the last 49 years. The name on her driver’s license has remained the same for 52 years, and the address on her voter registration card or driver’s license hasn’t changed in more than two decades. So imagine her surprise when she was told by voting officials that she would have to sign a “voters affidavit” affirming she was who she said she was.

So the way to avoid getting disenfranchising is to sign an affidavit? That’s it? 

I think we can safely place this “outrage” in the trash-bin where it belongs. 

CNBC Host Apologizes for his Cruz–Mexican Music Comment



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Yesterday, CNBC’s Steve Liesman, made a moronic remark asking for “Mexican music” to accompany a picture of Senator Ted Cruz as the hosts were discussing the upcoming jobs report and blaming Cruz for unemployment numbers because of the shutdown. 

And then Liesman apologized:

Regarding my recent remark on Squawk Box regarding Senator Ted Cruz, I first want to deeply and sincerely apologize if my remarks were insensitive.

If? He continues. . .

Second, I want to explain that it was not intended to be offensive in any way.

I thought of him only as an American senator from Texas, and in an attempt, on the fly, to choose music representing that state, I chose Mexican music.

As a musician for many decades, I’ve played and listened to tons of Texas songs infused with Mexican themes. A better choice would have been Country/Western or Texas Roadhouse Blues – it was a bad reach all the way around.

This is a new one. Some of my favorite songs are by Tex-Mex musicians, so I can’t be offensive? 

 

 

HHS Finally Orders Daily Briefings on Tech Issues, Healthcare.gov



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Politico:

CMS will begin offering daily press briefings on ongoing efforts to fix the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website.

“Beginning tomorrow, at the direction of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, there will be daily briefings” to address technical problems, said White House press secretary Jay Carney. He also said the briefings would remind Americans that there are four ways to sign up for insurance under the health reform law.

And that’s really all he said. We’ll see what comes out of these briefings tomorrow.

Jon Stewart Not Happy with Obamacare Launch



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Good stuff:

 

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