Monday, February 16, 2015

Last Call For Who Needs Obamacare, Anyway?

Attention red state Republicans:  more of you than you will ever admit have bought plans on the federal insurance marketplace, and now have health care coverage because of it.  Your GOP leaders in Washington are trying to take this coverage from you, and are using the Supreme Court in order to make it unaffordable.

Erin Meredith, a fifth-generation Republican who lives in Austin, was no fan of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which she considered just another wasteful government handout. She didn’t sign up for a health plan until late last year, when she felt she had no other choice. 
By then, Meredith, who is 37 and has two children, had gotten divorced and lost the insurance provided through her husband. Her new job, as an office manager for a roofing company, didn’t offer benefits. About the same time, she learned that her headaches and fatigue were the result of a rare condition that affects the oxygen level in her blood. She couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on doctor’s visits, and her desperation slowly turned to panic. 
In November, at a friend’s urging, Meredith looked for a health plan on the federal online marketplace. With an income of about $30,000 a year, she discovered she qualified for a government subsidy of $132 a month. Her premium would be $89 a month. 
Now that she has coverage, she doesn’t want to lose it. “I can still feed my kids and put gas in my car,” she said. “I’m not trying to go to Cancun or carry a Michael Kors bag. I drive a 2009 Mazda and I’m just trying to make it in my little apartment and not be on government assistance.”

Sorry Erin, according to the Republicans in your state of Texas, you never wanted affordable health care, you never wanted subsidies to make it affordable to you and your family, and you are now nothing more than a welfare queen to them.

Welcome to being one of "those people".

“If they’re not going to participate in Obamacare and I’m not going to have these financial benefits, which will force me to pay $220 a month for coverage, do you know if Greg Abbott, our governor, has any plan to offer something comparable?” Meredith asked in an e-mail. “I understand and support his efforts to put Washington back in its place. I just don’t want that to come at the cost of hard-working Texans and their ability to maintain medical coverage.”

You're no longer a "hard-working Texan" anymore.  You gave up that status when you decided that the federal government was no longer your enemy, and that it could ever "help" you.  You're a welfare cheat on Obamacare.  You might as well be a Democrat, dear.

And if King v Burwell goes bad, your health insurance premiums will triple, and your Republicans will not lift a finger to fix it.

Count on it.

Because That's Where the Money Is

Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab says it has discovered evidence that as many as 100 banks in 30 nations (including the US) may have lost a total of nearly a billion dollars to hackers in a massive cybertheft criminal ring.

In a report to be published on Monday, and provided in advance to The New York Times, Kaspersky Lab says that the scope of this attack on more than 100 banks and other financial institutions in 30 nations could make it one of the largest bank thefts ever — and one conducted without the usual signs of robbery.

The Moscow-based firm says that because of nondisclosure agreements with the banks that were hit, it cannot name them. Officials at the White House and the F.B.I. have been briefed on the findings, but say that it will take time to confirm them and assess the losses.

Kaspersky Lab says it has seen evidence of $300 million in theft through clients, and believes the total could be triple that. But that projection is impossible to verify because the thefts were limited to $10 million a transaction, though some banks were hit several times. In many cases the hauls were more modest, presumably to avoid setting off alarms.

The majority of the targets were in Russia, but many were in Japan, the United States and Europe.

No bank has come forward acknowledging the theft, a common problem that President Obama alluded to on Friday when he attended the first White House summit meeting on cybersecurity and consumer protection at Stanford University. He urged passage of a law that would require public disclosure of any breach that compromised personal or financial information.

But the industry consortium that alerts banks to malicious activity, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, said in a statement that “our members are aware of this activity. We have disseminated intelligence on this attack to the members,” and that “some briefings were also provided by law enforcement entities.”

How'd they do it?  You know all those times your company's IT department says "Don't open weird emails in your work account?"   Bank employees did just that, and ended up installing a piece of malware called "Carbanak" on bank computers.  It would secretly record keystrokes and screenshots of bank transfers at local branches to learn procedures and passwords, and leave the PCs vulnerable to remote access from outside the bank.

Then once they had the keys to the kingdom, they would send money to fake accounts, make wire transfers to overseas accounts, or even make ATMs dispense money at certain times.  As a former bank IT employee, I can tell you the number one vulnerability of any bank network are the people who access it daily.

Think about how much of a pain in the ass it is to change your network password at work. Believe me, the higher up in a company you are, the more likely it is that you're going to ignore procedures, and the bigger the target you make for social engineering hacks like this one.  Eventually a hack like this is going to get a hold of an account that has the authorization to make these multi million dollar transfers, and boom.  Gone.  Temporarily add some zeroes to the end of one account balance and transfer the extra away.  It's the oldest bank hack trick in the book.

At best, bank protection departments have way too many accounts to manage.  Finding these hit and run transfers is nearly impossible because by the time the bank figures out what happened, it's too late.  No red flags or alarms get raised because the attack comes from authorized accounts.

So yes, listen to your IT guys for once. 

The Orange Dimension

House GOP Speaker John Boehner is living in a fantasy dimension.  First, he believes that he alone is somehow in charge of America's foreign policy, and not the person actually elected to do that (and constitutionally required to handle that.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace on Sunday quizzed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on his decision to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress.

Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting the White House, leading numerous congressional Democrats to boycott the speech.

"Haven’t you taken one of the few bipartisan issues in this country — support for Israel — and turned it into a political football?" Wallace asked.

"I have not. The fact is that we had every right to do what we did," Boehner responded. "I wanted the prime minister to come here. There’s a serious threat facing the world. And radical Islamic terrorists are not going to go away."

"And then when it comes to the threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon, these are important messages that the Congress needs to here and the American people need to hear," the speaker continued. "And I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the perfect person to deliver the message of how serious this threat is."

Wallace then pointed out that Boehner asked Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., not to tell the White House about the joint meeting with Netanyahu.

"Why would you do that?" Wallace asked.

"Because I wanted to make sure that there was no interference. There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity," Boehner responded.

Such complete and utter disrespect of the presidency is shameful.  You took it upon yourself to invite a foriegn leader to berate your president and you tried to ambush him with the request because of "interference" from the White House?  Can you name another time in which a House Speaker so brazenly tried to subject a sitting president to humiliation by a foreign leader, on US soil?

No.  No president in US history has even been treated like a non-human insect quite like Republicans treat our nation's first black president.  This is why I despise Republican politicians, the preening arrogance and assumption of privilege is just infuriating.

Oh, but there's more.  In the Orange Dimension, it's Democrats who are somehow in charge of a Republican congress shutting down DHS funding.

The House passed a bill funding the DHS that also contained riders rolling back President Barack Obama’s executive order delaying deportations. Senate Democrats blocked its passage, demanding a “clean” continuing resolution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the ball was back in the House’s court, which was where Wallace found Boehner Sunday morning.

“The House has acted. We’ve done our job,” Boehner said. “Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position. And it’s up to Senate Democrats to get their act together.”

Wallace invoked a rising sense of terror threats, and asked if Boehner and Republicans were prepared let the DHS shut down.

Certainly,” Boehner replied, adding that Senate Democrats “would be to blame.”

John Boehner is going to let the DHS shut down and put Americans at risk because of their petty hatred of Obama.  That's it.  And he thinks you are stupid enough to believe that Republicans, who have been talking about shutting the government down for months now in order to stop President Obama on his legal immigration policies, aren't to blame.

What a strange place Speaker Boehner lives in.


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