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Sebelius To Face Tough Questioning From Republicans On Health Law

Associated Press
Published: 27 October 2013 06:46 PM

WASHINGTON — Republicans said Sunday they intend to press Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Obama administration’s troubled launch of healthcare.gov, the online portal to buy insurance, and concerns about the privacy of information that applicants submit under the new system.

Meanwhile, the healthcare.gov application and enrollment system was down Sunday afternoon because the company that hosts the site had an Internet outage. HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters wrote on Twitter that Terremark, the hosting company, was “working to fix ASAP.”

The Obama administration will face intense pressure next week to be more forthcoming about how many people have actually succeeded in enrolling for coverage in the new insurance markets. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner is to testify during a House hearing Tuesday, followed Wednesday by Sebelius before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The officials will also be grilled on how such crippling technical problems could have gone undetected prior to the website’s Oct. 1 launch.

“The incompetence in building this website is staggering,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the second ranking Republican on the panel and an opponent of the law.

MORE...

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20131027-sebelius-to-face-tough-questioning-from-republicans-on-health-law.ece

Israel Fears Iran Can Produce 90% Uranium ‘In Weeks’

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, October 27, 2013 16:32 EDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Iran is capable of converting low-grade uranium to weapons-grade within weeks.

“Iran is prepared to give up enriching uranium to 20 percent and therefore debate on this subject is unimportant,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying at a weekly meeting of his cabinet.

“The important part stems from technological improvements which allow Iran to enrich uranium from 3.5 percent to 90 percent in a number of weeks.

“Pressure on Iran, which continues enrichment while negotiating, must be intensified,” the Israeli leader added.

Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme is at the core of its dispute with world powers, who suspect it masks a drive for atomic weapons despite repeated denials by the Islamic republic.

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/27/israel-fears-iran-can-produce-90-uranium-in-weeks/

Bill Clinton Says Democrats Cannot Be Complacent In Va. Gubernatorial Race, With GOP More Energized

By PHILIP ELLIOTT | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 1 hour, 3 minutes ago in Politics

Conservative ideologues are reliable voters who could threaten Democrat Terry McAuliffe's political chances, former President Bill Clinton warned Sunday as he joined his longtime buddy's campaign for Virginia governor.

With little more than a week before Nov. 5's Election Day, McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli each have sought to energize their strongest supporters, by inspiration or fear. McAuliffe has opened a lead in polling and is heavily outspending Cuccinelli on television ads, but turnout is expected to be low and the result could be decided by a few thousand votes.

"Political extremism does have one political virtue," Clinton said. "Once you get people all torn up and upset, steam coming out of their ears, people will show up and vote."

It was a shift in roles. For decades, it has been McAuliffe championing the personal and political futures of Bill Clinton and, later, his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now, the former president is here to pitch in during the campaign against Republican Ken Cuccinelli during its final week.

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http://www.newser.com/article/da9moj981/clinton-says-democrats-cannot-be-complacent-in-va-gubernatorial-race-with-gop-more-energized.html

Experts Say Hackers Hit Major Israeli Roadway, A Sign Cyber Warfare Now Reality

Daniel Estrin / The Associated Press
October 27, 2013 10:33 AM

HADERA, Israel - When Israel's military chief delivered a high-profile speech this month outlining the greatest threats his country might face in the future, he listed computer sabotage as a top concern, warning a sophisticated cyberattack could one day bring the nation to a standstill.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was not speaking empty words. Exactly one month before his address, a major artery in Israel's national road network in the northern city of Haifa was shut down because of a cyberattack, cybersecurity experts tell The Associated Press, knocking key operations out of commission two days in a row and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

One expert, speaking on condition of anonymity because the breach of security was a classified matter, said a Trojan horse attack targeted the security camera system in the Carmel Tunnels toll road on Sept. 8. A Trojan horse is a malicious computer program that users unknowingly install that can give hackers complete control over their systems.

The attack caused an immediate 20-minute lockdown of the roadway. The next day, the expert said, it shut down the roadway again during morning rush hour. It remained shut for eight hours, causing massive congestion.

The expert said investigators believe the attack was the work of unknown, sophisticated hackers, similar to the Anonymous hacking group that led attacks on Israeli websites in April. He said investigators determined it was not sophisticated enough to be the work of an enemy government like Iran.

- See more at: http://www.nanaimodailynews.com/business/ap-exclusive-experts-say-hackers-hit-major-israeli-roadway-a-sign-cyber-warfare-now-reality-1.674076#sthash.vRGMXfP1.dpuf

First Apartheid, Then Arms Dealers, Now Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Emerging In UK Schools

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Saturday, October 26, 2013 19:11 EDT

An international campaign to urge large institutions to dump fossil fuel investments reaches the UK this week, following rapid success in the US.

The year-old divestment campaign, Fossil Free, has grown even faster than similar efforts that once targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers. It now aims to focus attention on the £5bn invested in coal, oil and gas by the endowment funds of UK universities. The move comes as financial giants such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are starting to take seriously the prospect that global action to reduce carbon emissions could leave two-thirds of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves unburnable and worthless.

“The divestment campaign will start politically to bankrupt the fossil fuel industry and throw into stronger relief that it is a rogue industry, committed to burning more carbon than any government on Earth thinks it would be safe to burn,” said Bill McKibben, a prominent US climate campaigner and figurehead of the Fossil Free campaign. “One reason we are losing the battle against climate change – the most important challenge humans have faced – is the power of the fossil fuel industry to block change,” he told the Observer. “It is the richest industry in the history of human enterprise.”

The US campaign has already led to more than 40 institutions, including the city of Seattle, universities and churches, pulling out of fossil fuel investments. Addressing the political debate in the UK over rising energy bills, McKibben said: “England has been burning fossil fuels since James Watt: there is no way you get to transition for free. But as economist Lord Nicholas Stern has said over and over again, the cost of not doing it is orders of magnitude higher than doing it.”

Student divestment campaigns have sprung up at 20 UK universities, including the three with the largest investments: Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. UK universities have more than £5bn – £2,000 per student – invested in fossil fuels, according to student group People & Planet and the 350.org campaign, which McKibben co-founded.

“Investing in fossil fuel companies, which harm communities and destroy the climate, is not OK,” said Miriam Dobson, from People & Planet at Edinburgh University, where the campaign tour begins on Wednesday before visiting Birmingham and London.

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/26/first-apartheid-then-arms-dealers-now-fossil-fuel-divestment-movement-emerging-in-uk-schools/

Giant Mirrors Bring Winter Sun To Norwegian Village For The First Time In Its History

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, October 27, 2013 11:13 EDT

Residents of a remote village nestled in a steep-sided valley in southern Norway are about to enjoy winter sunlight for the first time ever thanks to giant mirrors.

The mountains that surround the village of Rjukan are far from Himalayan, but they are high enough to deprive its 3,500 inhabitants of direct sunlight for six months a year.

That was before a century-old idea, as old as Rjukan itself, was brought to life: to install mirrors on a 400-metre (437-yard) high peak to deflect sunrays towards the central square.

“The idea was a little crazy, but madness is our middle name,” said Oeystein Haugan, a local project coordinator.

“When Rjukan was founded, it was a bit crazy to start a community in the middle of nowhere with this massive hydroelectric plant, huge pipes and a railway line to transport fertiliser to the rest of the world,” he added.

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/27/giant-mirrors-bring-winter-sun-to-norwegian-village-for-the-first-time-in-its-history/

Dick Cheney: NSA Spying ‘Nothing New’ And Needs ‘To Be Preserved’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday defended the vast surveillance powers of the U.S. National Security Agency.

In an interview with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” Cheney refused to say whether the domestic and international snooping operations conducted by the NSA had gone “over the line.” But he did comment on whether the operations were valuable.

“I can say that the capability of the United States government, on a broad basis, to collect intelligence that’s important to the United States, saving lives, et cetera, it’s nothing new without talking about specific details, which I’m not, or specific targets,” he said.


Cheney added that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had damaged the United States by leaking information about surveillance operations.

The former vice president refused to endorse any specific intelligence program. But he insisted the NSA’s mission was justified.

more...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/27/dick-cheney-nsa-spying-nothing-new-and-needs-to-be-preserved/

Report Suggests Israel Behind Attempt To Hack Into French Communication Network

U.S. officials deny involvement in May 2012 cyberattack on Elysee Palace, hinting that Mossad was responsible for attempt, according to leaked document published by Le Monde.

By Haaretz | Oct. 25, 2013

The Mossad may have been involved in an attempt to hack into the former French president's communications network, AFP reported on Friday, citing a leaked U.S. intelligence document obtained by the French daily Le Monde.

According to the report, France believed that the U.S. was behind the May 2012 cyber attack on the Élysée Palace. But the U.S. National Security Agency denied having anything to do with the hacking, hinting instead that the Israeli intelligence agency may have been responsible for it.

The statements were detailed in the latest note to emerge from the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Parts of the note were published by Le Monde.

According to the report, the document was prepared earlier this year to brief NSA officials who were set to meet with senior French intelligence figures to discuss the attempt to breach the Elysee's communication system.

The document reportedly said that the NSA branch which handles cyber attacks, Tailored Access Operations (TAO), denied carrying out the attack. The U.S.' closest allies – Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand – also said they were not involved.

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http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.554461

Conservative Group Smears Rep. Justin Amash As Marxist ‘Fellow Traveler’ For Opposing NSA Spying

A small conservative group has labelled a libertarian-leaning congressman a Marxist “fellow traveler” for speaking out against the U.S. National Security Agency.

USA Survival on Sunday uploaded video of Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) speaking at a “Stop Watching Us” rally in Washington, D.C.

The group’s video begins by asking, “Dupe or dope?” It says Amash joined “leftists, Marxists and the loony left at anti-NSA Rally.” The video also notes that Amash teamed up with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to introduce a measure to defund some NSA surveillance operations.

“This isn’t a partisan issue,” Amash said at the rally. “This is for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, conservatives and liberals, everyone in between. I have to tell you that when we were fighting for that Amash amendment, and we took to the House floor and had that debate, that was the proudest moment for me as an elected official.”

USA Survival’s video ends with a picture of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in prison. Above him reads the caption, “A Traitor, not a Hero.”

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http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/27/conservative-group-smears-rep-justin-amash-as-marxist-fellow-traveler-for-opposing-nsa-spying/

Tehran Removes Anti-U.S. Billboards, Sparking More Debate Over Rouhani’s Foreign Policy

By Jason Rezaian, Sunday, October 27

TEHRAN — Supporters of hard-line conservative policies faced a rare public rebuke this week, as authorities ordered that new anti-American billboards be removed just days after they went up, sparking a new round in the debate over relations between Tehran and Washington.

Since taking office in August, Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have made several unprecedented gestures toward the United States, including a phone call between Rouhani and President Obama. It was the first direct contact between presidents of the two countries since Iran’s 1979 revolution ousted the shah.

Such diplomatic outreach and the new government’s apparent attempts to quiet anti-U.S. rhetoric have confused and angered supporters of hard-line conservatives who call the United States the “Great Satan” and believe that relations with Washington are against the principles of the revolution.

The billboards, carrying the English-language slogan “The U.S. Government Styles Honesty,” depict a goateed Iranian official (presumably meant to resemble Zarif) sitting across from a U.S. counterpart who, under the table, conceals symbols of perceived American aggression.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/tehran-removes-anti-us-billboards-sparking-more-debate-over-rouhanis-foreign-policy/2013/10/27/51015cc2-3f15-11e3-ad86-5120269ae35b_story.html

The greatest of debates on this new Iranian foreign policy is taking place in Tel Aviv and the US neocon think tanks on how they can scuttle these 'godwill' gestures.
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