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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gowdy: Obama lied to women to win

By Blake Neff

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) accused President Obama of misleading women in order to win reelection by advertising a contraceptive mandate in ObamaCare that he knew would be struck down by the Supreme Court.
“He knows he's not going to win this at the Supreme Court, but he won in 2012, and that was his real objective,” Gowdy said in an appearance on Fox News's “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
As ObamaCare has been implemented, a provision requiring employer-provided health insurance to offer free birth control has met with fierce opposition. While churches are exempted from the rule, religiously based organizations and for-profit corporations are not.
Several companies, including Hobby Lobby, have sued, claiming that the forced provision of birth control violates their owners' religious beliefs and is illegal under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as the First Amendment.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Hobby Lobby's case after the company succeeded in winning an injunction against the mandate in July.
Gowdy predicted that the Supreme Court would decisively strike down the mandate as illegal and claimed that Obama was equally aware this was the likely outcome.
Gowdy pointed towards the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, in which the court unanimously ruled that the First Amendment's protection of free exercise prohibits the government from applying anti-discrimination laws to the selection of religious leaders.

“It was nine to nothing in a religious liberty case,” Gowdy said. “The president knows he's not going to win this case.”

CAIR's Tampa Terror Banquet


 by Joe Kaufman

When someone linked to the ’93 bombing of the World Trade Center is a featured speaker at a fundraiser sponsored by a group created by Hamas operatives and run by a Hezbollah defender, one could easily surmise that the function described would be taking place in the Middle East. Yet, this event, which was held this past weekend and raised a large amount of money, took place in a major American city, Tampa, Florida.
On the night of Saturday, November 23rd, the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) sponsored a fundraising banquet featuring what should be considered highly controversial figures from the Muslim community. One of these individuals was an imam who goes by the name of Johari Abdul-Malik.
Abdul-Malik is the Outreach Director of Falls Church, Virginia’s Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center. He was brought in to head the mosque, after his predecessor, Anwar al-Awlaki, left the United States to become al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen. And shortly before Awlaki became the mosque’s imam,Hamas fundraiser Mohammad al-Hanooti held the position. [Today, al-Hanooti is listed on al-Hijrah’s website as the center’s Mufti.] According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, al-Hijrah itself has been considered by federal law enforcement officials to be a front for Hamas.
Since Abdul-Malik has been employed by al-Hijrah, he has supported and/or defended a number of convicted terrorists. They include: Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison, in part for his role in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a former al-Hijrah teacher and camp counselor, who is serving a life prison sentence for providing material support to al-Qaeda and for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush; and Ali al-Timimi, who received a life prison sentence for instructing his Northern Virginia followers to wage war on the United States.
Another of the featured speakers at CAIR-Tampa’s Saturday banquet was the imam of Brooklyn, New York’s at-Taqwa Mosque, Siraj Wahhaj.
In 1995, Wahhaj was named by the United States government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial dealing with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an act which resulted in the deaths of six innocent Americans. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
This was not the first time CAIR has brought Wahhaj in as a speaker for one of its affairs, so CAIR’s representatives can’t make the excuse that they didn’t know about his insidious background. Indeed, Wahhaj has spoken at a large number of CAIR events and has previously served as a member of CAIR-National’s Board of Advisers.
In reality, no one can expect CAIR to vet terror-related speakers, when the group itself has been, in large part, associated with terrorism.
CAIR was founded in June 1994 as a part of an umbrella organization led by then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” by the U.S. Justice Department for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The three original founders of CAIR, one of which is still the national Executive Director, were coming from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the then-American propaganda wing of Hamas. CAIR had used its website to raise funds for the then-American financing arm of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
Hassan Shibly is the Executive Director of CAIR-Tampa. In June 2011, the Tampa Tribune reported on previous statements Shibly had made regarding Hezbollah. Shibly had stated that Hezbollah was “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” In 1983, Hezbollah perpetrated a suicide attack which resulted in the murders of 241 American troops stationed in Beirut, Lebanon. Today, Hezbollah is involved with the government of Bashar al-Assad in the mass slaughter of Syrian civilians.
CAIR-Tampa’s banquet – deceptively titled ‘Faith in Freedom’ – according to Shibly, raised over $200,000. With 400 guests attending, that’s over $500 per person.
Terrorism creates fear in itself. That’s its purpose. But the fact that a group associated with such acts of horror could raise so much money inside the United States should put the fear in all of us.

Airlines Urged by U.S. to Give Notice to China

By  and 

WASHINGTON — Even as China scrambled fighter jets to enforce its newly declared air defense zone, the Obama administration said on Friday that it was advising American commercial airlines to comply with China’s demands to be notified in advance of flights through the area.
While the United States continued to defy China by sending military planes into the zone unannounced, administration officials said they had made the decision to urge civilian planes to adhere to Beijing’s new rules in part because they worried about an unintended confrontation.
Although the officials made clear that the administration rejects China’s unilateral declaration of control of the airspace over a large area of the East China Sea, the guidance to the airlines could be interpreted in the region as a concession in the battle of wills with China.
“The U.S. government generally expects that U.S. carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with” notice requirements “issued by foreign countries,” the State Department said in a statement, adding that that “does not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirements.”
The decision contrasted with that of Japan’s government this week, when it asked several Japanese airlines, which were voluntarily following China’s rules, to stop, apparently out of fear that complying with the rules would add legitimacy to Chinese claims to islands that sit below the now contested airspace. China’s newly declared zone, experts say, is intended mainly to whittle away at Japan’s hold on the islands, which it has long administered.
On Saturday, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said, “We will not comment on what other countries are doing with regard to filing flight plans.” It was not immediately clear if the Obama administration had notified Japan, a close ally, of its decision.
An official at Japan’s Transport Ministry said it had no immediate change to its advice to Japanese airlines.
The American decision drew criticism from some quarters. Stephen Yates, a former Asia adviser to Dick Cheney when he was vice president, said it was “a bad move” that would undercut allies in the region that take a different stance.
But Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state under Bill Clinton and now president of the Brookings Institution, said it was important to avoid an accident while drawing a firm line. “The principal option is to be extremely clear that disputes” over territory “must be resolved through diplomacy and not unilateral action,” he said.
American officials said they began having talks with airlines on Wednesday and characterized the guidance Friday as simply following established international air protocols independent of any political deliberations. The American announcement came on the same day that Chinese state news media said that China sent jets aloft and that they identified two American surveillance planes and 10 Japanese aircraft in the air defense zone the country declared last weekend.
Although there was no indication that China’s air force showed any hostile intent, the move raised tensions. The Chinese had also sent jets on patrol into the contested airspace the day before, but Xinhua, the state-run news agency, indicated that the planes on Friday were scrambled specifically to respond to foreign jets in the area.
Earlier in the week, the United States sent unarmed B-52s into the area, and they proceeded unimpeded. China then appeared to back down somewhat from its initial declaration that planes must file advance flight plans or face possible military action.
The administration’s decision on Friday underscored the delicate position President Obama finds himself in, drawn into a geopolitical dispute that will test how far he is willing to go to contain China’s rising regional ambitions.

China’s move thrust the United States into the middle of the already prickly territorial clash between Beijing and Tokyo, a position the administration had avoided for months even while reiterating that the mutual defense treaty with Japan covers the islands. After the Chinese declaration last weekend, American officials feared that, if left unchallenged, the Chinese action would lead to ever greater claims elsewhere in the Pacific region.
But with planes flying so fast and in such proximity, the administration’s worries grew that an accident or an unintended confrontation could spiral out of control. A midair collision between a Chinese fighter jet and an American spy plane off the coast of China in 2001 killed the fighter pilot and forced the spy plane to make an emergency landing on Hainan Island, setting off a diplomatic episode until Beijing released the American crew and sent the plane back, broken into parts.
“The challenge here, as with April 2001, is when you have an unexpected crisis, things escalate very, very quickly without any plans for de-escalation,” said Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Mr. Obama’s first ambassador to China. “That’s one of the big challenges we have in the U.S.-China relationship.”
One of the biggest challenges for Mr. Obama will be navigating the complicated personalities of leaders in Tokyo and Beijing. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, a strong nationalist, has vowed to stand firm against any Chinese encroachments, while President Xi Jinping of China has recently taken over as leader and has promised to advance a strong foreign policy meant to win his country more recognition as an international power.
The two countries have been at odds for years over the uninhabited islands known as Diaoyu by the Chinese and Senkaku by the Japanese. The United States does not take a position on the dispute.
Although administration officials believe China’s actions are mainly meant to give it an advantage in its struggle with Japan over the islands, experts on Asia say they also fit China’s larger goal of establishing itself as the dominant power in the region, displacing the United States.
Administration officials said they decided to proceed with routine military training and surveillance flights so as not to legitimize China’s assertion of control over the airspace or encourage it to establish a similar air zone over the South China Sea, where it has other territorial disputes. China had said it expected to set up other air defense zones, and experts said they expected one to cover that sea.
“We don’t want this to be the first in what would be a series of assertive moves,” said an administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss a delicate diplomatic matter. “The whole area’s fraught.”
Mr. Obama is sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the region next week, when he will meet with Mr. Xi and Mr. Abe as well as South Korea’s leader. Although the trip was previously scheduled, it will put Mr. Biden in the center of the dispute, and aides said he would deliver a message of caution to both sides to avoid escalation.
Many countries, including the United States and Japan, have air defense zones, but the coordinates of the Chinese zone overlap those of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Peter Dutton, the director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College, said the new air zone also gives China a legal structure to intercept American surveillance flights in international airspace, which have long irritated Beijing. “It is clear that the Chinese do not seek regional stability on any level,” he said. “They intend to be disruptive in order to remake the Asian regional system in accordance with their preferences.”

Obamaphones: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

UPI/Kevin Dietsch
UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Free cell phones for low-income Americans, one of the fastest growing welfare programs in the United States, is—by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) own admission—rife with “waste, fraud and abuse.” And who is paying for these free Obamaphones? If you have a phone subscription, you are.
The program, officially called Lifeline, predates Obama’s presidency but has earned the colloquial name “Obamaphone” after nearly tripling in cost since 2008.
Almost everyone who pays a phone bill has an extra monthly charge that contributes to the Universal Service Fund, which covers Lifeline access. The government pays companies $9.25 for every person connected through Lifeline. Recipients typically receive a free wireless phone and a certain amount of airtime.
These Obamaphones aren’t iPhones, but they typically have nearly all the capabilities offered through a standard phone contract.
SafeLink, for example, offers government-sponsored plans that not only include basics like local, long distance, and emergency calls, but other amenities such as international calls, 1,000 texts, carry-over minutes, call waiting, roaming, and a choice of 67, 125, or 250 minutes—all at no cost and contract-free. If 250 monthly minutes are not enough to call potential employers, no problem! Referring a friend for a free cell phone will score an additional 100 minutes.
A comparable paid plan available at SafeLink’s parent company, TracFone Wireless, would cost almost $400 annually per phone.
By law, Lifeline is restricted to one phone per household and only available to those who have an income below 135 percent of the federal poverty line or enrolled in a means-tested entitlement program. In practice, it is simple to obtain multiple Obamaphones: The FCC announced that duplicate Lifeline subscriptions topped 2 million, warranting millions in fines to companies for failing to verify recipients’ income.
Jillian Melchoir of the Franklin Center wanted to find out just how easy it would be. Shemanaged to collect three of her very own Obamaphones, even though her income disqualifies her from any government support.
Melchoir is in the company of millions: According to figures supplied by the FCC to The Wall Street Journal41 percent of subscribers were unable to prove their eligibility for the program.
Indifference to abuse of the program is appalling. In an undercover investigation by conservative activist James O’Keefe, prospective recipients openly discussed selling their phones for handbags and heroin—only to be reassured by the Obamaphone vendors they would not be judged.
Lifeline has mutated from a program designed to help the needy into a glorified corporate subsidy. Abuse of the program will continue while the FCC scrambles to fix it.
An all-expense-paid cell phone, courtesy of those who actually pay for their own service, is not a human right; it’s an insult to struggling families who are reminded every month that their money is lost in yet another sloppy government slush fund.

In the Line of Fire!

WASHINGTON - Americans are deeply unhappy with Congress and President Barack Obama, and there's no quick fix in sight.
Both parties are weakened, and Obama's popularity is sinking.
The Republican party is at war within, with its tea party-aligned minority having set an agenda that sent party approval sinking. Conservative ideologues insist on dramatic measures to shrink government and slash taxes. Many of their proposals are at odds with what the majority of Americans want, but the rhetoric plays well in conservative congressional districts.
Using their tactical power, tea party members last month pushed reluctant House leaders into a politically costly budget battle with Senate Democrats, triggering a government shutdown. They also threatened to force the US into default on its debt, a move meant to hurt Obama's health care overhaul and force further budget-tightening for Americans. The effort failed under a wave of public disgust.
When the shutdown ended, the Gallup polling organization showed Congress had a 9 percent public approval rating.
For a couple weeks, Obama and the Democrats were riding high. Then came the Obama administration's troubled launch of his all-important health care overhaul, with a web portal that didn't work and that still struggles to handle the volume of Americans trying to sign up for newly mandated coverage.
Obama's approval rating has sunk to a new low of 37%, just two points above former President George W. Bush's approval rating in his fifth year in office, according to a CBS television poll. A new CNN/ORC poll found 53 percent of Americans now say they don't believe Obama is "honest and trustworthy."
Some congressional Democrats, fearful of the party's re-election prospects, are starting to distance themselves from Obama, even recently joining Republicans in voting for measures to weaken the health care law.
Adding to the fiasco, millions of people received notifications that their health insurance policies would be canceled because the plans did not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
That went against one of Obama's key selling points of the law: that Americans who were happy with their insurance would be able to keep it. While those losing current coverage are only a slice of the 5% of the Americans who buy health insurance in the private market, Obama was caught making a promise he knew he could not keep.
Obama was forced to order the cancelled policies re-instated for a year, even though the move could seriously damage the delicately balanced funding for the costly overhaul.
It's hard to say which political party will look worse to Americans in elections next year.
James Riddlesperger, a political scientist at Texas Christian University, said the most recent trouble - over health care - is the one most likely to stick in voters' minds. The CBS poll showed that just 31% of Americans now support the Obama overhaul, down 12 percentage points from a month earlier.
The Obamacare rollout mess was a political gift for Republicans, who have been determined to destroy the health care law since it was adopted in 2010, when Democrats held the majority in both chambers of Congress.
Since the Republicans regained control in the House, they have taken more than 40 largely symbolic votes to rescind the programme. After the shutdown disaster, the anti-Obamacare campaign briefly seemed doomed. Now, the website woes and insurance cancellation notices have ensured that health care will be a tough issue for Democrats during the congressional elections.
Still working in favour of the Democrats is an ideological war for the soul of the Republican party that traces back decades. Some students of American politics say the disillusionment fueling the tea party dates to the 1980s presidency of conservative hero Ronald Reagan.
David Ryden, political science professor at Hope College, said Reagan had "great rhetorical success in setting the table for smaller government." But "tangible evidence was pretty marginal" that the government was shrinking, fostering deep disappointment within the hard right-wing, he said. After George W. Bush's eight-year presidency, many conservatives thought, "This guy did as much to expand the reach of government as anyone," Ryden said.
The tea party sprang to life as a named entity after Obama's 2008 victory, with the health care law becoming emblematic of their fight to limit the government's social and economic role. Tea party loyalists also remain determined to block immigration reform and press for cuts in the government program that provides food assistance for the poor.
That puts the Republican Party in a quandary. Republican leaders are concerned that the tea partyers are alienating independent voters and other key groups, particularly Hispanics who favor immigration reform. But some mainstream Republicans are fearful of angering the party's conservative base by pushing back against the tea party.
Amid the malaise, a recent Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe the country needs a third party. That number is driven by the opinions of independent voters, but large percentages of Republicans and Democrats agree.

NEWS! Ayatollah wants to destroy Israel!

Says Jewish state must be obliterated

Ali Khamenei

An influential Iranian cleric has warned President Obama not to include Israel in any nuclear negotiations because the Jewish state must be destroyed.
“What is visible is that Obama has agreed to include the fake Zionist regime (Israel) in future negotiations,” said Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts
“However, we firmly believe [Israel] must be wiped off the face of the earth and we don’t recognize [its existence].” Khatami said according to IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic.
The Assembly of Experts is responsible for appointing the regime’s supreme leader.
After the six-month interim deal was reached last weekend, Obama asked in a telephone call to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Israeli prime minister “take a breather” in his vocal denunciation of the agreement. In return, the two agreed that Israel would send a delegation, headed by Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, to Washington to discuss strategy for a permanent agreement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that all further discussions will have to leave out Israel, IRNA reported, because Iran would not attend a meeting with a state that is headquartered in Jerusalem.
“We consider the Zionist regime as the biggest danger to the region and the world,” Zarif said.
Khatami said America cannot be trusted and that it’s obvious it wants to break its promises made at the Geneva meeting.
“Already, when the ink of the Geneva agreement is not yet dry, the lie is reflected on websites that Iran does not have (uranium) enrichment rights,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly objected to a White House press release on the terms of last weekend’s Geneva agreement.
“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva, and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-5+1 world powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,”  Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said Tuesday.
Shortly after the Geneva agreement was reached last Sunday, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader claimed victory.
“I thank God … the new government … was able to legitimize the Iranian nation’s nuclear program on the international stage,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “and take the initial step in a way that the nuclear rights and the enrichment rights of the Iranian nation are acknowledged by world powers where before they had tried to deny them. (The agreement will) open the way for future big strides in technical and economic progress.”
Early Sunday, Iran and the 5+1 world powers – the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany – reached agreement in Geneva over its illicit nuclear program.
Under the agreement, Iran, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, will keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, is limited to enriching uranium at the 5 percent level for six months, will convert its highly enriched uranium of 20 percent to harmless oxide and will allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be limited to only agreed-on facilities.
On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment process “will never witness the stop of enrichment in Iran and that enrichment is our red line.”
“The most important fact is that there will be no new sanctions. This means that the sanctions regime has been broken,” Rouhani said.
Khamenei, as negotiations resumed last week, told thousands of Basij militia forces that the Iranian strategy was an “artistic maneuver and the use of different tactics (would be used) to reach different goals and ideals” of the Islamic regime. Stalling tactics for more than a decade have allowed Iran to greatly enhance its nuclear capability to the point it could become nuclear-armed within weeks.
Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog,” “unclean,” “illegitimate” and “a bastard.”
“The Zionist regime is destined to destruction because this miserable regime was imposed (on the Middle East) based upon force, and no imposed phenomenon can last,” he told the Basij forces.
Basij commanders in return issued a statement Wednesday: “The everlasting covenant with the supreme leader will continue for the full elimination of arrogant powers (America) and the destruction of the Zionist regime. We ask God the same way that had Muslims through the renewed alliance with the Prophet (Muhammad) enter Masjid al-Haram (the grand mosque in Mecca upon the conquest of Mecca by Muhammad), this renewed alliance (with the supreme leader) also prepares the dignified and victorious believers into Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest site in Islam in Jerusalem).”

Health Care Site Rushing to Make Fixes by Sunday

By  and 

As the Obama administration’s weekend deadline for a smoothly functioning online marketplace for health insurance arrives, more than a month of frantic repair work is paying off with fewer crashes and error messages and speedier loading of pages, according to government officials, groups that help people enroll and experts involved in the project.
But specialists said weeks of additional work lie ahead, including a major reconfiguration of the computer hardware, if the $630 million site,, is to accommodate the expected flood of people seeking to buy health insurance. Without the additional changes, experts predict, the website may continue to crash during periods of peak use.
Beyond the prospect of potential delays for consumers, insurers warn that problems remain in the invisible “back end” that transmits enrollment information to them. That data has been plagued by inaccuracies, insurers say. Administration officials have been unwilling to disclose the error rate.
As late as Wednesday, the site still continued to slow down when 30,000 users tried to log on simultaneously, according to project specialists. A batch of hardware upgrades and software fixes scheduled for this weekend, administration officials say, will allow the site to handle 50,000 simultaneous users, as promised, by Dec. 1, which is Sunday.
The Health and Human Services Department announced that the site would be shut down for 11 hours on Friday night to put those upgrades into place, on top of the usual four-hour timeout for maintenance on Saturday night.
Although the administration has postponed a December marketing campaign, fearful that the site would collapse under a surge in traffic, five weeks of repair work have clearly made the exchange better. From last Sunday to Tuesday, nearly 20,000 users managed to enroll in insurance plans, the most for a three-day period, according to people familiar with the project. By comparison, fewer than 27,000 users picked an insurance plan on the federal site in the entire month of October.
And pages that once took an average of eight seconds to load now show up in a fraction of a second. The rate at which a user sees an error message has also dropped from about 6 percent to 0.75 percent.
But the pace of enrollment must pick up drastically if the administration is to meet its target of signing up seven million people by the end of March, the number that insurers say they need to spread risks and keep prices down. While some states that built their own sites are making better progress enrolling people, applicants in 36 states, with two-thirds of the nation’s population, depend on the federal site.
At this week’s rate of enrollment, those enrolled through the federal exchange would total fewer than 1.1 million by the March deadline. Few insurance executives expect alternative options for enrolling, including by phone, mail, or in person at counseling centers, to make up that gap.
The administration has already spent more than $9 million beefing up the system’s computing power with additional servers and other hardware. The reconfiguration of the data center — the website’s computer brain — is expected to cost millions more and require up to another month of work, specialists said.
Experts involved in the repair work say the overhaul is necessary because bursts of traffic beyond the designed capacity could bog down the site, forcing users into an electronic queue until emails notify them that they can return.
The only solution, several experts said, is to reconfigure many of the site’s computer servers so that they are dedicated solely to’s tasks. Currently, most of the servers juggle demands from other clients as well.
One expert said the site needs to be able to handle 100,000 simultaneous users to provide a safe margin of error. “Think of it as Version Two,” he said.

Tests conducted this week for The New York Times by a California-based company that evaluates websites for major commercial clients found that the site remains too complicated for many users, and is still prone to errors and delays.
“There are too many obstacles and unexpected hurdles people have to jump to sign up,” said Jonathan Hicken, research director at User Testing, the Mountain View, Calif., company that conducted the tests.
Consumers reported varying degrees of success. Aimee Berner, 59, of Glenview, Ill., said she was still not able to finish the application that she began weeks ago. “At least for me, the glitches are still there.”
But on Friday, Dan Wilson, 28, of Madison, Wis., said he had better luck. “I needed to make a decision about whether I was going to keep my current plan or find a new one. I was successfully able to get through and get the information I needed.” In early October, he said, he found the site “just useless.”
Federal officials continue to try to create alternative ways to enroll. The latest is a shortcut called EZ-App, developed over the past month, which will allow consumers to more easily estimate how much federal assistance they are eligible to receive.
The concept is similar to the Internal Revenue Service’s 1040EZ form, the shortest and simplest way to file a federal income tax return. But even getting this slimmed-down process to work online has proved difficult, one person said, so it will initially only be available to individuals who seek to enroll by telephone.
The overhaul of the system’s hardware foundation is intended to address deep concerns about the site’s stability and horsepower. Though the site is up and running more than 85 percent of the time now — compared to just 42 percent in the third week of October — it still crashed for more than three hours last week.
When the site went down at the end of October for more than 10 hours, administration officials blamed Terremark, a subsidiary of Verizon, which operates the data center that houses the system’s hardware. While some specialists said Terremark merely followed specifications it had been handed, several contractors and vendors said they have been unhappy with the firm’s response to repeated outages. A new contractor, chosen before the site went live and problems emerged, is taking over when Terremark’s contract expires, the administration has said.
Because of the system’s fragility, one subcontractor, Oracle, has delivered its own server to a data center near Washington, so that its software, crucial for users to create accounts, runs faster and more reliably. Gary L. Bloom, the chief executive officer of another vendor, MarkLogic, said his firm is also moving its software to differently configured servers. MarkLogic provided the technology for the database that serves as the system’s internal filing cabinet and index.
“I am picking up my house and moving it to a better foundation next door,” he said in an interview. He said MarkLogic is performing up to standard, but “the network and the storage systems are not properly sized and not properly run.”
Another critical problem involved the specifications for a major computer switch that connects the computer servers through a security firewall to the Internet. Mr. Bloom said it has been upgraded from four gigabytes a second to 60. He said the earlier speed was the equivalent of employing four security staffers to screen Heathrow Airport’s passengers. “The line to get through,” he said, “would go back to the city of London.”
Other critical components of the site also remain to be finished, including a financial management tool to handle payments to insurance companies for customers eligible for subsidies.
Some officials involved in the project have expressed disappointment that the redesign work has yet to start. But several technicians warned that rushed upgrades are risky. “Everything is just spotlight on, high pressure, has to be done live, without a net,” one said.

Lies My President Told Me

Paul Driessen

“Under my plan, if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period. Nothing changes, except your health insurance costs will go down.”
It was just a couple of renegade IRS agents in Cincinnati. Benghazi was a spontaneous protest that got out of control in direct response to an inflammatory video posted on the internet. During September 2012, our rebounding economy created an astonishing 873,000 jobs. And on and on.
If we have learned anything about President Obama and his administration, it is that they are compulsive, practiced prevaricators – determined to advance their agenda of “fundamentally transforming” America and imposing greater government control over our lives, living standards and pursuit of happiness. When caught, they dissemble, say they were “not informed directly,” issue false apologies, or fire back with “What difference, at this point, does it make anyway?!?”
Keep all this in mind when the President and other Washington politicos bring up “dangerous manmade global warming,” insist that we slash fossil fuel use, and tell us we need to give poor countries billions of dollars a year to compensate them for “losses and damages” they incurred due to warming we caused.
When they claim “97% of scientists say the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it,” remember: This is based on 75 of 77 “climate scientists” who were selected from a 2010 survey (that went to 10,257 scientists). 700 climate scientists31,000 American scientists and 48% of US meteorologists say there is no evidence that humans are causing dangerous warming or climate change.
Moreover, “contributing to” is meaningless. Is it a 1, 5, 20 or 90% contribution? Is it local or global? Do scientists know enough to separate human factors from the numerous, powerful, interrelated solar, cosmic, oceanic, terrestrial and other forces that have repeatedly caused minor to major climate changes, climate cycles and weather events throughout human and geologic history? At this point, they do not.
When the President says “carbon pollution in our atmosphere has increased dramatically,” remember: It’s not “carbon” (soot) – it’s carbon dioxide. It’s not “pollution” – it’s the plant-fertilizing gas that makes all life on Earth possible. Increased “dramatically” means rising from 330 ppm (0.030% of the atmosphere) in 1975, when scientists were concerned about global cooling, to about 400 ppm (0.040%) today.
(Oxygen represents 21% of atmospheric gases (210,000 ppm). Argon is 0.93% (9,300 ppm). About 90% of the “greenhouse effect” is from water vapor. And roughly 95% of the annual addition to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is from volcanoes, subsea vents and other natural sources.)
Over the past 16 years, while CO2 levels continued to increase “dramatically,” average planetary temperatures did not budge. The eight years since a Category 3 hurricane made landfall in the United States is the longest such period since 1900 or even the 1860s. Even with the recent Midwestern and East Coast twisters, US tornado frequency remains close to a record low. Is that due to CO2 emissions?
There is one point on which the President is correct. In 2008 he said “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow.” And indeed, they are now rising at a mere seven inches per century.
All of this should fascinate the scholar and climate realist that lurks inside each of us. But what should concern us is the pernicious effects that the constant barrage of “manmade climate change” hype and headlines is having on public policies, taxpayer and consumer expenditures, and our daily lives.
Like threads in a tapestry, “dangerous manmade climate change” is intertwined with anti-hydrocarbon, imminent resource depletion, renewable energy, sustainable development, and wealth redistribution theses and ideologies. They are used to concoct and justify energy and economic policies, ranging from delays and bans on oil and gas leasing and drilling, to the war on coal mining and use, and diehard opposition to hydraulic fracturing and the Keystone XL pipeline.
They promote spending $22 billion just in federal money during FY-2014 on climate change studies; costly solar projects of every description; wind turbinesthat blight scenic vistas and slaughter millions of birds and bats annually, while wind energy developers are exempted from endangered species and other environmental laws that apply to all other industries; and ethanol programs that require millions of acres of farmland and vast quantities of water, fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuel energy to produce a gasoline additive that reduces mileage, harms engines, drives up food prices … and increases CO2 emissions.
The policies pummel jobs, families and entire communities around coal mines and coal-fired factories and electrical generating plants, impairing the health and welfare of millions. Being unemployed – or holding multiple lower-paying part-time jobs – means greater stress, reduced nutrition, sleep deprivation, family discord, higher incidences of depression, greater alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, higher suicide rates and lower life expectancies. It means every life allegedly saved by anti-fossil fuel regulations is offset by lives lost or shortenedbecause of those rules.
The policies, laws and regulations affect everything we make, grow, ship, eat, drive and do – 100% of our energy based economy, not just one-sixth under ObamaCare – and put legislators, bureaucrats, activists and courts in ever-increasing control over our lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards and life spans.
Even worse, it’s all for nothing – even if carbon dioxide plays a bigger role in climate change than many scientists believe it does. Germany is relying increasingly on coal for power generation. Australia has junked its cap-tax-and-trade program. Britain is reexamining its commitment to CO2 reduction. China and India are building new coal-fueled power plants every week, and neither they nor any of the real “developing countries” are required to commit to “binding targets” for lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Under agreements signed at the just-concluded UN climate conference in Warsaw, 130 developing nations must merely make “contributions” toward lower emissions, and only when they are “ready to do so.”
But then international climate programs were never really about preventing climate change. As IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer has admitted, they are about “how we redistribute the world’s wealth.” First, tens of billions continue flowing annually to IPCC scientists and bureaucrats and renewable energy programs. Then we start talking about real money.
Now that the IPCC, President Obama and hordes of other climate alarmists have convinced so many people that climate change is “real,” it’s “happening now,” humans are “contributing to” myriad disasters on an “unprecedented” scale – the Group of 130 expects the FRCs (Formerly Rich Countries) to pay up.
China, India, island nations and poor countries demand “compensation,” “adaptation” and “mitigation” money, to pay for “losses and damages” from rising seas and more frequent, more intense storms and droughts – which they say are happening already, and which they blame on industrialized nations that helped raise CO2 levels from 280 ppm at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to 400 ppm today.
They want $50 billion immediately, followed by $100 billion to $400 billion per year, plus free transfers of our best energy, pollution control and industrial technologies. It’s too late to prevent, mitigate or adapt to climate change, they say. You “rich countries” need to start paying for the damage you are causing.
20% of the EU budget will now go toward CO2 emission reductions and helping poor countries adapt to climate change: €180 billion ($245 billion) by 2020. What the United States will have to pay in “compensation” and under ClimateCare schemes being hatched at EPA, DOI and Energy headquarters is yet to be determined. But the payments will be substantial, even crippling.
We are caught in a climate trap of our own (bureaucrats and politicians) making. How will we get out?