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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
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Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone

Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone

It's widely known that the NSA has taps connected to the various telco networks, thanks in large part to AT&T employee Mark Klein who blew the whistle on AT&T's secret NSA room in San Francisco. What was unclear was exactly what kind of access the NSA had. Various groups like the EFF and CDT have both been asking the administration to finally come clean, in the name of transparency, if they're tapping backbone networks to snarf up internet communications like email. So far, the administration has declined to elaborate. Back in August, when the FISA court declassified its ruling about NSA violations, the third footnote, though heavily redacted, did briefly discuss this "upstream" capability:

..............during Thursday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Dianne Feinstein more or less admitted that they get emails via "upstream" collection methods. As you can see in the following clip, Feinstein interrupts a discussion to read a prepared "rebuttal" to a point being made, and in doing so clearly says that the NSA can get emails via upstream collections:

Upstream collection... occurs when NSA obtains internet communications, such as e-mails, from certain US companies that operate the Internet background, i.e., the companies that own and operate the domestic telecommunications lines over which internet traffic flows.

She clearly means "backbone"rather than "background." She's discussing this in an attempt to defend the NSA's "accidental" collection of information it shouldn't have had. But that point is not that important. Instead, the important point is that she's now admitted what most people suspected, but which the administration has totally avoided admitting for many, many years since the revelations made by Mark Klein.

So, despite years of trying to deny that the NSA can collect email and other communications directly from the backbone (rather than from the internet companies themselves), Feinstein appears to have finally let the cat out of the bag, perhaps without realizing it.


How One Reader Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare

How One Reader Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare
posted by GOLDY on FRI, SEP 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

What with House Republicans apparently willing to shut down the federal government and tank our nation's economy in pursuit of defunding Obamacare, and with all the intentional misinformation flying about, there's a ton of confusion and anxiety out there over the coming health insurance exchanges, and their impact on individual families. For example, the following email from Hans Nelsen of Vashon Island is rather typical of the sort of scare stories we've been hearing:

Dear Editor:

I just learned that my health care rates will double under the Affordable Health Care Act. I got a letter from my provider, Group Health, that stated as much. I called them, and their customer service people said they were getting a lot of calls on this.

I'm not a conservative hater of social programs. I consider myself to be a socialist.
I also learned that I will be covered for maternity care, newborn care, and pediatric dental, although I'm male and 60 years old. Are they nuts?

I can't afford the new rates. I thought the rates would go down. A good friend of mine is Spanish and lives in Spain, and pays nothing for health care.

Hans Nelsen

Not so typical, though, was the extra effort Hans put into educating himself, prompting the followup email he sent us just one day later:

Dear Editor,

I sent you a letter yesterday about the Affordable Health Care Act. See below. I did some more checking and I was totally wrong! My rates will actually go down with the federal subsidies available to my income level, and not only that, but my coverage will be much better. My misunderstanding was the fault of really poor communication on the part of my provider and their customer service department, who utterly failed to inform me about the true situation. I spoke too soon. Very sorry.

Hans Nelsen

the rest:

Obama: What If Dem Speaker Told A GOP President No Raising Debt Ceiling Unless Gun Control Passed?

Obama: What if a Democratic speaker told a GOP president they wouldn't raise debt ceiling unless gun control passed?

Xxtra Bonus Quote of the Day

"Imagine if you had a Republican president and a Democratic speaker, and the Democratic speaker said, well, we're not going to pass the debt ceiling unless we raise corporate taxes by 40% or unless we pass background checks on guns or whatever other list of agenda items Democrats were interested in. Does anybody actually think that we would be hearing from Republicans that that was acceptable behavior?"

-- President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post.

* West Hollywood, CA, becomes first U.S. city to ban sale of furs.

* West Hollywood, CA, becomes first U.S. city to ban sale of furs.

Los Angelenos, rejoice!

Last weekend, West Hollywood officially became the first city in the country to ban the sale of wearable fur in retail stores. City council members passed the law by unanimous vote 2 years ago, and it finally went into effect on Sept. 21, 2013, ABC reports.

The ban will apply to all articles of clothing -- anything made to be worn -- but not to furniture items, blankets, or leather products.

West Hollywood is a city known for its animal-friendliness, with ordinances banning the sale of cats and dogs, cat declawing, and more recently, wild animal performances, according to the LA Times


Have you all seen Mt. Flushmore Yet?

Curiosity's SAM Instrument Finds Water and More in Surface Sample

Curiosity's SAM Instrument Finds Water and More in Surface Sample
Sept 26, 2013

The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA's Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight. The results were published today in Science as one article in a five-paper special section on the Curiosity mission.

"One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high percentage of water in the soil," said Laurie Leshin, lead author of one paper and dean of the School Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "About 2 percent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is a great resource, and interesting scientifically." The sample also released significant carbon dioxide, oxygen and sulfur compounds when heated.

more, plus pics:

WH Describes Republican Tactics as "Extortion" Designed to Overturn the Election

THU SEP 26, 2013 AT 03:00 PM PDT
WH Describes Republican Tactics as "Extortion" Designed to Overturn the Election
by Tom P

Following up on President Obama's strong speech today, Press Secretary Jay Carney used the "e"-word with the press in describing recent Republican tactics:

MR. CARNEY: I think we've been sending very clear signals and obviously hoping that those signals are transmitted by you in this room clearly and accurately. The fact of the matter is the President has been willing in a demonstrated way to offer compromise solutions to our economic challenges and our budget challenges. And he has put his money where his mouth is with concrete, moderate, balanced proposals to do that.

And he has met with Republicans all year long who -- Republican legislators who have said that they are interested in finding common ground. And he is absolutely willing to continue to have those kinds of negotiations. What he will not do is engage in an attempt by Republicans to extort from him what they could not get through the legislative process, what they could not get at the ballot box, what they could not get at the Supreme Court of the United States, and offer as an alternative to getting what they want through extortion, tanking the economy and crushing the middle class. He will not do that.

And as many, many Republicans have said, as many, many business leaders have said -- it is an irresponsible approach to take.


You were not elected to tank the economy. You were not elected to punish the middle class in order to achieve a political objective that you lost through the legislative process and you lost through the elective process, and you lost through the judicial process.


Sen Cruz Apparently Gets His Healthcare From -GOLDMAN SACHS- More than $40,000 in Premiums Annually!

According to a 2009 New York Times report, top executive officers and managing directors at the bank participate in a health care program that costs Goldman more than $40,000 in premiums for each particpant’s family annually.

Sen. Ted Cruz had a short exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin at the tail end of his blabathon Wednesday.

“Will the senator from Texas for the record tell us now—and those who watched this debate—whether he is protected and his family’s protected?” Durbin asked Wednesday morning, repeating a question he'd been trying to get Cruz to answer.

“I’m happy to tell you now I am eligible for it and I am not currently covered under it,” Cruz responded, diverting the conversation to an uninsured diabetic woman that Durbin had mentioned earlier.

Then the conversation moved on without Cruz explaining where he got his coverage. Huffington Post's Ryan Grim found out. He's covered on his wife's plan. His wife is a top Wall Street executive, a regional head of a Goldman Sachs division.

According to a 2009 New York Times report, top executive officers and managing directors at the bank participate in a health care program that costs Goldman more than $40,000 in premiums for each particpant’s family annually.


Yep, a regular populist, Cruz is, telling all the people that freedom means not having health insurance from his perch ensconced in a gold-plated safety net.


GOP's Debt Limit Bill "Isn't A Serious Governing Document---It's A Cry For Help"

Wonkbook: The House’s debt-ceiling bill is…wow

The House GOP's debt limit bill -- obtained by the National Review -- isn't a serious governing document. It's not even a plausible opening bid. It's a cry for help.

In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a yearlong delay of Obamacare, Rep. Paul Ryan's tax reform plan, the Keystone XL pipeline, more offshore oil drilling, more drilling on federally protected lands, rewriting of ash coal regulations, a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to regulate carbon emissions, more power over the regulatory process in general, reform of the federal employee retirement program, an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's budget, repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare, repeal of the Public Health trust fund, and more.

It's tempting to think that this is Boehner teaching his conference a lesson. They told him what they wanted, and he's going to let them have it -- good and hard. House Republicans are walking into the debt-ceiling negotiations with an opening bid that makes them look ridiculous. This looks like an Onion parody of what the House's debt-ceiling demands might be. It's a wonder it's not written in comic sans.

But this is really the conference teaching Boehner a lesson. He had so little support to raise the debt ceiling at all -- and so little trust from his members that he had a strategy to maximize their leverage -- that this is the bill he had to present. At this point, Boehner either can't stop them, or he's too exhausted to try.



Obama rebukes 'irresponsible' Republicans in health care speech (“The ACA is here to stay")

Source: NBC

Obama rebukes 'irresponsible' Republicans in health care speech
By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News

President Barack Obama dismissed what he called the “antics” on Capitol Hill over the budget to keep up the sales pitch on his namesake health care law Thursday.

Slamming “irresponsible” congressional Republicans who have threatened to shut down the government or prevent a raise in the debt ceiling if the Affordable Care Act is not defunded, a defiant Obama said the health law won’t be derailed.

“That’s not going to happen as long as I am president,” he said during an appearance at a community college just outside Washington D.C.’s Beltway. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”


"I won’t negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America," he said.

Read more: http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/26/20706381-obama-rebukes-irresponsible-republicans-in-health-care-speech?lite
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