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Web traffic, glitches slow Obamacare exchanges launch

People sign up for health insurance information at a Covered California event which marks the opening of the state's Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly known as Obamacare, health insurance marketplace in Los Angeles, California, October 1, 2013. REUTERS-Lucy Nicholson

The opening itself represented a victory for Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement after years of attack from Republican foes and delays in building the technology infrastructure to support sites in 50 U.S. states. It defied a partial federal government shutdown precipitated by Republican efforts to delay the law’s implementation.

“As long as I’m president I won’t give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hard-working Americans,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after his meeting with people who stand to benefit from the healthcare overhaul.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, will provide subsidized health insurance based on income through the state exchanges and expand Medicaid coverage for the poor from January 1, representing the most ambitious U.S. social program since Medicare plans for the elderly launched in the 1960s.

Reuters checks in at least 47 states throughout the day turned up frequent error messages or traffic overload notices, particularly for 36 sites run by the federal government. One frequently observed glitch involved a page asking the user to answer security questions that either went blank or would not accept new data. Kansas officials urged residents to wait a few weeks for the “bugs” to be worked out before enrolling.  Read More

 

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Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

From his first months in office, President Obamasecretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Hasan Sarbakhshian/Associated Press

Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.  Read More

Obama’s Appeasement in Face of Russian Threats Not Working

Russia’s threat to go to war over a missile defense shield being planned in Eastern Europe reveals the weakness of the Obama administration’s policy of appeasement of enemies of the United States.

According to CNS News, the threat was made by Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov and will apparently be backed up by Iskander short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, which borders Poland. Thus far the Obama administration’s response has been to coo about cooperation and achieving “common ground.”

The Russian threat of war comes after President Barack Obama was caught on a live mic, according to The Blaze, begging then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to give him “space” until after the election, whereupon he would be more “flexible” concerning the missile defense shield. The Russians, predictably, have concluded Obama is a pushover and have started employing Cold War-style military threats.

The Russians have done this sort of thing before, back when the Soviet Union still existed. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the Soviets deployed hundreds of SS-20, a first strike intermediate range weapon designed to intimidate Western Europe. President Ronald Reagan despite intense pressure not to do so in the media and elsewhere, responded by deploying Pershing II ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to Newsmax.

Once the Soviets realized Reagan was serious about finishing any war the Soviets started, they negotiated a treaty that banned the deployment of such weapons by both sides.

The contrast between the two presidents, Obama and Reagan, cannot be starker. Obama has responded to Russian threats with appeasement and weakness. Reagan responded to Soviet threats with strength and resolution. As a result, while Obama is being run roughshod by the Russians, much to the detriment of American power and prestige. Reagan won the Cold War and put the Soviet Empire on the ash heap of history.  Read More

President Obama Threatens to Veto CISPA Cybersecurity Bill

If the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, reached President Obama’s desk in its current form, he would veto the bill, according to a statement from the White House.

CISPA, says the White House, would allow the government and the intelligence community unfettered access to Americans’ personal information and data, sacrificing individuals’ personal privacy and civil liberties.

CISPA is designed to allow private firms to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another and with the federal government. The bill’s advocates call such information sharing a necessary step in defending the U.S.’s networks from a “digital Pearl Harbor,” while opponents argue that sharing puts the civil liberties and personal privacy of Internet users in jeopardy.

“[CISPA] would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information,” reads the statement.

The White House also believes that CISPA would allow private companies to share users’ information with one another — unhindered by adequate supervision or transparency — while simultaneously shielding them from lawsuits that spring up as a result of that information sharing.

“Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately,” reads the statement. “The broad liability protection not only removes a strong incentive to improving cybersecurity, it also potentially undermines our Nation’s economic, national security, and public safety interests.”  Read More

Marine Corps discharges sergeant for Facebook posts critical of Obama

A sergeant will be discharged for criticizing President Obama on Facebook in a case that called into question the Pentagon’s policies about social media and its limits on the speech of active duty military personnel, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

Sgt. Gary Stein will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies, the Corps said.

The San Diego-area Marine who has served nine years in the Corps said he was disappointed by the decision. He argued that he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech.

“I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn’t have gone this way. I’m having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career,” he told The Associated Press.

Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will fail. He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.

“As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him,” said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.” Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said in a brief statement Wednesday that evidence supported an administrative board’s recommendation to discharge Stein.  Read More

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