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Update: Alec Baldwin’s Accuser Takes the Stand



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Via the New York Times:

A woman accused of stalking Alec Baldwin took the witness stand on Wednesday to describe a romantic night she said she had with Mr. Baldwin in February 2010.

The woman, Genevieve Sabourin, 41, lit up when she talked about a monthlong telephone flirtation with the actor that led him to invite her to spend a weekend with him in New York.

He charmed her, she said, driving through Central Park, taking her to a popular new play, introducing her to actors backstage, then on to a quiet dinner at Elios Restaurant. The night ended at the Hotel Lowell, where, she said, they had sex.

“It was a beautiful, romantic evening,” she testified. Later she added, “It was more than romantic; it was perfect.”

Her testimony contrasted sharply with Mr. Baldwin’s account on Tuesday. He testified that he met Ms. Sabourin only once, to advise her about her acting career; he denied having a sexual tryst with her.

The proceedings in Ms. Sabourin’s trial on stalking and harassment charges had barely gotten underway on Wednesday when Judge Robert Mandelbaum lost patience with her repeated outbursts and ordered her to spend 30 days in jail for contempt of court.

“That’s it,” he said, when Ms. Sabourin complained loudly that her lawyer had not called a particular witness. “You are held in contempt.”

Ms. Sabourin broke into tears and delivered a long, rambling monologue about how the pressures of the trial had worn her down. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” she said. “I couldn’t eat for two weeks. They vilify me in the press. They beat me up for two years.”

But an hour later, she was beaming when she started testifying about what she described as a love affair with Mr. Baldwin.

Ms. Sabourin, a Canadian publicist and aspiring actress, met Mr. Baldwin in 2000 during the filming of the sci-fi comedy “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.” He had a cameo role, and she was a publicist, working for the producer, Martin Bregman.

Imagine if all this does go against Alec Baldwin, he can point to Pluto Nash as the event in his life where it all went wrong. An instant classic. 

‘Journalistic Review’ Begins at CBS over 60 Minutes Benghazi Report



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McClatchy:

When “60 Minutes,” perhaps the United States’ premier news program, apologized for featuring a security contractor in its report on Benghazi whose story turned out to be a lie, it said had been “misled.” But a close examination of the controversial piece by McClatchy shows that there are other problems with the report, which renewed debate about one of the most contentious events in recent U.S. diplomatic history.

In its first acknowledgement that the issues with the report may go deeper than just the interview with security supervisor Dylan Davies, CBS on Wednesday, in response to a series of questions posed by McClatchy, said that it had begun “a journalistic review that is ongoing.”

“60 Minutes” spokesman Kevin Tedesco said the review had begun as soon as questions were raised about the piece, but he declined to elaborate in an email exchange and did not respond to the specific issues McClatchy raised.

The rest here.
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Did MSNBC’s Alec Baldwin Just Lie in His Stalker Trial?



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Yesterday, Alec Baldwin testified — with tears in his eyes – that he had no romantic relationship with the woman he has accused of stalking him, and the only reason he was talking with her was to help out his pal, producer Martin Bregman:

He hurled insults at a Post photographer on his way into court – and even offered the shutterbug a death wish on his way out — but hotheaded Alec Baldwin reserved his best emoting for the witness stand.

The rage-filled, former “30 Rock” star appeared to choke up on cue, dabbing at his eyes with a finger, as he described a March 2012 encounter with accused stalker Genevieve Sabourin shortly after his engagement to his wife, Hilaria. [. . .]

He testified that he didn’t see her again until 2010 when he went to dinner in New York with filmmaker Martin Bregman and Sabourin, whom he described as the “Scarface” producer’s mistress.

“Marty called me told me he needed my help. That Marty Bregman was ending his relationship with her. He wanted to help get her a job. She wanted to be an actress — he wanted me to meet her to help with her potential acting career,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin then testified that he wanted to try to help his friend — an influential producer whose credits also included other Al Pacino hits like “Carlito’s Way” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” among other hits.

“Bregman asked me to do it as a favor. I wanted to handle the situation as delicately as I could knowing this was Marty’s girlfriend. The issue as I saw then was that she was 39 years old at the time, she was a French Canadian with a discernible accent… and the most I could offer her [was] advice on was where to study acting,” Baldwin testified.

Oh really? That’s not the same story Martin Bregman is telling reporters today:

Now Alec Baldwin has a reason to cry.

The actor’s claim that he never had sex with the French-Canadian actress accused of stalking him was called a lie Tuesday by his supposed friend, “Scarface” producer Martin Bregman.

“He’s lying,” Bregman told the Daily News after the first day of Genevieve Sabourin’s sensational trial wrapped. “He was screwing two women. One of them is his present wife and the other one, I presume, he was doing the girl in question.”

Bregman was referring to Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, and the alleged stalker.

“To sidestep any involvement with (Sabourin), he made up a report,” said Bregman, who called the move “pretty stupid.”

Baldwin, who got teary-eyed on the stand as he denied seducing Sabourin, insisted she had been Bregman’s longtime mistress. He testified that Bregman introduced her to him in 2002 at a lunch in Montreal.

Bregman laughed at the notion of “having an affair with a woman that’s considerably younger” and said they noshed with another woman.

“I’m 87 years old and that’s very flattering, but that’s all it is,” he told The News.

Over to you Alec.

Tweet of the Day: Former Obama Speechwriter vs. Sen. Feinstein



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From former speechwriter Jon Lovett on Senator Feinstein signing on to Sen. Landrieu’s bill to “keep your coverage.”

So Feinstein should have done a better job keeping President Obama in check regarding the NSA? 

MSNBC’s Actual Headline: Dems Learn to Love ‘Dark Money’



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How dare the media arm of the Democratic party publish a piece with so many facts!

Zachary Roth writes on MSNBC.com:

Quick! What’s the first thing you think of when you hear about shadowy “dark money” groups trying to sway elections?

We’re guessing conservative powerbrokers like Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers come to mind. And there’s a good reason for that: the right was responsible for the vast majority of dark money spent during last year’s election cycle.

But this time around, things may be different. It’s very early days yet, but liberal dark money groups have outspent conservative ones by well over two to one this year. The about-face suggests that progressives may be accommodating to the political spending free-for-all of the post-Citizens-Unitedera by holding their noses and learning to play the game.

According to new numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, so far in the 2013-2014 cycle, liberal dark money groups—that is, groups that use sections of the tax code that allow them not to disclose their donors—have spent over $1.7 million. That dwarfs the $740,000 spent by conservative groups. Compare that to the 2011-2012 cycle, when five conservative groups—including Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform—accounted for nearly $300 million, or seven out of every ten dark money dollars spent.

In addition to the dark money spending gap, the Democratic House campaign committee and the DNC also have outraised their GOP counterparts lately. That money is less controversial, though, and it’s not unusual in recent cycles for Democrats to have an advantage there.

The potential change in the dark money race could be far more significant. Outside spending favored the right so massively last year that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi talked about long-term plans to amend the Constitution in order to scrap the Citizens United decision. Many progressives viewed doing so as a crucial part of being able to compete with Republicans on a level electoral playing-field over the long term.

Democrats haven’t backed off that stance. And in the fight over campaign finance rules, it’s still Democrats pushing for tighter limits, and Republicans trying to loosen things further. Disclosure rules—that is, when to require groups to reveal their donors—are a current point of contention. That’s even though many Republicans, including Seate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the party’s point-man on the issue, used to support disclosure, when they saw it as a compromise measure to ward off actual spending limits.

But while pushing for stricter rules, Democrats are in the meantime taking a more pragmatic “if-you-can’t beat-‘em-join-‘em” approach.

Perhaps nothing underlines that better than the identity of the candidate who benefited from the single largest chunk of dark money this cycle, according to CRP’s numbers: Democrat Ed Markey, whose successful run for the U.S. Senate in a Massachusetts special election this year got a major boost from $814,000 in dark money spent by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), an environmental group.

The rest here.

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Prostate Exams in the Morning Get Creepy



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Yes, prostate exams are an integral part of male health care. But check out this Today Show picture:

I’m pretty sure that amateur prostate exams delivered by attractive news anchors is something you’d pay for after answering an ad on Craig’s List and not a licensed medical procedure. But what do I know? Maybe it’s a new Obamacare mandated essential benefit?

Morning TV Now Includes Prostate Exams



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New York Daily News:

Matt Lauer and Al Roker of “The Today Show” will undergo every man’s least favorite diagnostic medical procedure Thursday morning — on live television.

As part of a month-long campaign to raise aware of men’s health issues, Lauer and Roker will have prostate exams on-camera during the show.

Meet the Obamacare Contractor Under Criminal Investigation in the UK



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A few day’s ago, NRO’s Jillian Kay Melchior wrote an excellent piece on Serco, a government contractor awarded $1.25 billion to process paper applications for Obamacare. Jilian detailed the troubling allegations of fraud levied against Serco at the time of the contract’s award as well as the company’s ties to questionable lobbyists. An excerpt:

Even as myriad other allegations emerged about its work around the globe, Serco spent heavily on lobbying in Washington, D.C., and secured a multi-year contract potentially worth $1.249 billion to handle paper applications for the Obamacare exchanges. Serco did not respond to e-mail and voice-mail requests for comment.

Public records demonstrate Serco’s concentrated effort to woo the U.S. government. In recent years, it has spent more than a million dollars on lobbying and political activities, including $6,450 donated to President Obama’s election campaign, according to the Sunlight Foundation. This year, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was considering proposals for insurance-exchange work, Serco spent $100,000 to hire Greenberg Traurig, former home of Jack Abramoff, to lobby regarding the “implementation of [the] Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” according to January registration papers.

Among the Greenberg Traurig lobbyists working on the Serco account was Mark Hayes, a former Senate health-policy aide. During his time on Capitol Hill, Hayes “was instrumental in the key coverage, financing and delivery system reform provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” according to his Greenberg Traurig bio, and “acted as lead Republican staff negotiator for the ‘Group of Six’ health-care reform negotiations.” Less than a year after the ACA was signed, Hayes left Capitol Hill to become a lobbyist, representing several health-sector clients.

Earlier this year, Hayes became a central subject of a federal insider-trading investigation. The Washington Post reported that Hayes had sent information on April 1 about a significant Medicare policy change to an analyst at Height Securities. The analyst then “sent out an alert to Height’s hundreds of investor clients — ahead of the administration’s public announcement — and trading in Humana, Aetna, and other health-care stocks immediately soared.” Hayes could not be reached for comment, and it’s unclear whether the investigation is continuing. Papers filed in May, after the incident, stated that Hayes was expected to cease lobbying for Serco.

And to update Jillian’s story, the allegations against Serco just got upgraded to a “formal criminal investigation.” Via the Guardian:

Serious Fraud Office launches inquiry into G4S and Serco overcharging claims

Investigation follows justice secretary’s claims that firms overcharged on electronic tagging contracts for offenders

The Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal criminal investigation into two of the government’s biggest suppliers, G4S and Serco, following claims by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, of tens of millions of pounds of overcharging on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.

Grayling asked the SFO to look into the billing allegations in July when he told MPs that an external audit had revealed that the overcharging included billing for tracking the movements of criminals who had moved abroad, who were back in prison, who had had their tags removed and even, in a few cases, those who had died.

To be fair, the criminal probe is against the parent company in the UK and not the subsidiary here in America that won the ACA work. But the question is, as was asked originally by Jillian, how did this company win the business in the first place? 

Due to the criminal nature of the probe now, an investigation and audit of the company’s performance here in America is warranted as well as a full examination of the Obamacare contract and the role played by the lobbyists in the procurement of that contract.

 

 

 

Michael Moore: ‘Guns Don’t Kill People, Americans Kill People’



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TMZ:

Moore was at LAX — the very site where Paul Ciancia opened fire on TSA workers on November 1, killing one and injuring several other people — when he was asked about the gun violence that’s taken place in our country since he released “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002.

“Nothing changes … it’s the country we live in,” Moore said … “Legally purchased gun, bullets.”

“There’s a reason why this doesn’t happen in Canada, in Ireland, in France … they have the occasional craziness, but it’s not on a weekly or monthly basis.”

Moore concluded — “I think the NRA they got it half-right when they say ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ I change it to ‘Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people.’”

Salon: Chris Christie Is No Moderate



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He hasn’t even won his second term as governor and the Left is already positioning Christie as one of the scary, extreme GOPers:

Chris Christie is no moderate
Don’t believe the hype. Despite a CPAC snub and hostility from conservatives, Chris Christie is a true right-winger

WaPost’s Jonathan Capehart Blames the GOP for Healtcare.gov Failure



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And to back-up his claim that the GOP “sabotaged” the rollout of Healthcare.gov, Capehart cites these two examples from the Washington Post’s piece on Sunday hammering the administration on the Obamacare rollout. Capehart writes:

But there were two tidbits in the 2,800-word piece that were previously known but still served to enrage me, especially now that we see how well the GOP’s premeditated campaign to try to kill Healthcare.gov is working.

Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.

So, the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because it was starved of the money needed to help make it work.

A larger number of states than expected were signaling that, under Republican pressure, they would refuse to build their own online insurance marketplaces and would rely on the federal one. The more states in the federal exchange, the more complex the task of building it. Yet, according to several former officials, White House staff would not let this fact be included in the specifications. Their concern, one former official said, was that Republicans would seize on it as evidence of a feared federal takeover of the health-care system.

So, the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because the GOP pressured Republican governors to not form their own state exchanges. This made the federal task more complex and difficult, thus ensuring its failure.

Of course, foot dragging by a ’fraidy cat White House aided the failure. But after reading The Post story on the debacle that is the Obamacare debut, what the GOP gleefully calls a train wreck was a self-fulfilling prophesy courtesy of Republican sabotage.

But Capehart isn’t giving the whole story. Here’s the full excerpt from his first “tidbit”:

Fragmented oversight

The White House was in charge, but the on-the-ground work of carrying out the law fell largely to HHS. At first, a new unit responsible for building the statute’s insurance marketplaces was created inside the office of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Soon, however, it became evident that the office — with more than 200 people — would not survive on its own. It lacked tools, such as the ability to award grants and outside contracts, that were vital to its mission, said Richard Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary for nearly two decades before he retired early this year. So the office, with a slightly new name, moved in early 2011 into the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a large agency spread among locations in the District, Bethesda and Baltimore.

The move had a political rationale, as well. Tucked within a large bureaucracy, some administration officials believed, the new Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight would be better insulated from the efforts of House Republicans, who were looking for ways to undermine the law. But the most basic reason was financial: Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.

Bureaucratic as this move may sound, it was fateful, according to current and former administration officials. It meant that the work of designing the federal health exchange — and of helping states that wanted to build their own — became fragmented. Technical staff, for instance, were separated from those assigned to write the necessary policies and regulations. The Medicaid center’s chief operating officer, a longtime career staffer named Michelle Snyder, nominally oversaw the various pieces, but, as one former administration official put it: “Implementing the exchange was one of 39 things she did. There wasn’t a person who said, ‘My job is the seamless implementation of the Affordable Care Act.’ ”

In the West Wing, the president put his trust in DeParle, who joined the White House two months after Obama took office in 2009 and had overseen the health-care legislation from its infancy. Earlier in her career, she had been a health-care administrator under President Bill Clinton and worked on the issue at the Office of Management and Budget.

Well-versed as she was, DeParle immediately recognized that she needed help, according to a former senior administration official. She tried — but failed — to lure to the White House one of the nation’s top experts, Jon Kingsdale, who had overseen the building of a similar insurance exchange in Massachusetts.

DeParle convened meetings twice a week in the Old Executive Office Building, bringing together representatives of agencies as far-flung as the Internal Revenue Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OMB’s regulatory office — all of which had a role in putting the law into practice. They pored over spreadsheets and hashed out difficult policy questions. The work was “highly specific,” recalled Donald Berwick, who was CMS’s administrator through 2011 and now is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts. “There was an implementation chart. Regulation by regulation, we would say, where is it now, who was developing it?”

A higher-level monthly meeting, intended to work through tough regulatory questions, was attended at first by Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes. By late summer and early fall of 2010, the meetings petered out after some of the participants stopped attending, according to a former senior administration official.

At the White House and inside CMS, the initial focus was not on building the online marketplace but rather on rules to let young adults stay on their parents’ insurance policies and new insurance pools for Americans who were being rejected by insurance companies because they were ill.

The exchange “was in the future,” Berwick said, explaining that the Web site was, during his tenure, a matter of “conceptualization,” along with “the many other regulations we were batting out.”

With the new structure, contrary to Capehart’s claim, Sebelius had the funds she needed. But as the Post so clearly pointed out, the administration wasn’t even worrying about building the exchange yet. And if Capehart thinks the GOP has been starving HHS of funds, who is paying for the IT fixes now?

The fact is Republicans haven’t been able to stop a single cent directed at Obamacare, even after closing down the federal government.

And here’s the full excerpt for the second “tidbit”:

That spring, CMS had begun writing specifications for the IT contracts to build the federal exchange, but the White House again insisted on caution. A larger number of states than expected were signaling that, under Republican pressure, they would refuse to build their own online insurance marketplaces and would rely on the federal one. The more states in the federal exchange, the more complex the task of building it. Yet, according to several former officials, White House staff would not let this fact be included in the specifications. Their concern, one former official said, was that Republicans would seize on it as evidence of a feared federal takeover of the health-care system.

So that September, when the administration issued the “scope of work” for the largest IT contract, the specifications skirted the question — saying only that “CMS will not know for certain how many states will apply” to run their own insurance exchanges.

After the contract was awarded to CGI Federal, the administration kept giving states more and more time to decide whether to build their own exchanges; White House officials hoped that more would become willing after the 2012 election. So the technical work was held up. “The dynamic was you’d have [CMS’s leaders] going to the White House saying, ‘We’ve got to get this process going,’ ” one former official recalled. “There would be pushback from the White House.”

Meanwhile, the White House also slowed down important regulations that had been drafted within CMS months earlier, appearing to wait until just after Obama’s reelection. Among the most significant were standards for insurance coverage under exchanges. The rules for these “essential health benefits” were proposed just before Thanksgiving last year and did not become final until February. Another late regulation spelled out important rules for insurance premiums.

Such delays were “a singularly bad decision,” said Foster, the former Medicare chief actuary. “It’s the president’s most significant domestic policy achievement,” he said, and the very aides who had pushed the law through Congress were risking bad implementation “for a short-term political gain.”

After the election, Cutler, the Harvard professor, renewed his warnings that the White House had not put the right people in charge. “I said, ‘You have another chance to get a team in place,’ ” he recalled.

Capehart conveniently left out the parts in this “tidbit” that slam Team Obama for dragging its feet. More importantly, Team Obama knew the number of states in the federal exchange were increasing, but they wouldn’t tell their IT contractors the truth.

This are not the actions of a ” ‘fraidy cat White House.” They are the actions of an incompetent White House.

ABC Added a Grenade Launcher to LAX Shooter’s Rifle



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Next time, add a laser, too:

 

Team Obama Was Texting Andrew Sullivan During the First 2012 Debate



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An excerpt from the new book, Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, has revealed the panic over the highly critical live coverage of President Obama’s first debate by the great placenta hunter, Andrew Sullivan:

As the full desultoriness of his Denver performance sank in, the president was consumed by a sense of responsibility—and shadowed by fears that his reelection was at risk. Outwardly, he took pains to project the opposite. When his staffers asked how he was doing, he replied, “I’m great.” To Plouffe, who had volunteered to soothe Sullivan, Obama joked, Someone’s gotta talk him off the ledge!

Sullivan responds, “How many times has Plouffe tried to talk me off the ledge? I think twice. But they were texting me that night to tell me to calm the f*** down.”

So, what other friendly outlets did Plouffe contact that night to “calm the f***down”?

 

George and Laura Bush Win the Halloween Picture Contest



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The president’s daughter and new mom Jenna Hager tweeted out these pictures last night: 

The New Yorker vs. Obama and Healthcare.gov



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Another brutally honest cover targeting Team Obama:

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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