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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
October 9, 2013

Looks like they reset all the healthcare.gov passwords per arstechnica.

Amid all the attention, bugs, and work happening at Healthcare.gov in light of the Affordable Care Act, potential registrants talking to phone support today have been told that all user passwords are being reset to help address the site's login woes. And the tech supports behind Healthcare.gov will be asking more users to act in the name of fixing the site, too. According to registrants speaking with Ars, individuals whose logins never made it to the site's database will have to re-register using a different username, as their previously chosen names are now stuck in authentication limbo.

The website for the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare&quot launched just last week. With all the scrutiny and debate happening, if ever there was a website launch that was "too big to fail," this was it. So, of course, it did—depending on how you define "failure." The inability of Obamacare portals to keep up with the traffic demands initially put upon them has been seized by politicians and conservative pundits as evidence that Obamacare "is not ready for prime time" in the words of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Now, a week later, the site appears to be stabilizing, with waiting times dropping dramatically for those who haven't been able to register before.

A test of the site this morning had me waiting four minutes to get to the signup page; others got on instantly. But problems persist beyond the front door. The contractors responsible for the exchange—CGI Federal for the website itself, Quality Software Systems Inc. (QSSI) for the information "hub" that determines eligibility for programs and provides the data on qualified insurance plans, and Booz Allen for enrollment and eligibility technical support—are scrambling to deploy more fixes. Technical support call center operators continue to handle an onslaught of calls from users who can't get back into the system after registering.

In addition to would-be Healthcare.gov registrants notifying Ars about the password reset and login limbos, Ars learned that changes made to profiles already within the system may not be saved either—a problem that is only indicated by a very non-descriptive error message.

Ars attempted to contact the contractors with Healthcare.gov but did not receive a response as of this writing.


October 9, 2013

Absorbed device users oblivious to danger

A man standing on a crowded Muni train pulls out a .45-caliber pistol.

He raises the gun, pointing it across the aisle, before tucking it back against his side. He draws it out several more times, once using the hand holding the gun to wipe his nose. Dozens of passengers stand and sit just feet away - but none reacts.

Their eyes, focused on smartphones and tablets, don't lift until the gunman fires a bullet into the back of a San Francisco State student getting off the train.

Investigators say this scene was captured by a Muni camera on Sept. 23, the night Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, allegedly killed 20-year-old Justin Valdez in an apparently random encounter.


October 9, 2013

Ron Wyden a keynote speaker at Cato's conference on NSA surveillance.

Excellent list of participants.

Keynote speakers: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI); Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Panelists include: Siobhan Gorman, Wall Street Journal; Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian; Barton Gellman, Washington Post; Charlie Savage, New York Times; Jameel Jaffer, ACLU; Laura Donohue, Georgetown University Law Center; David Lieber, Google; David Dahl, SpiderOak; Jim Burrows, Silent Circle; Bruce Schneier, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School; Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute; and Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow, Cato Institute.

Since June, news reports based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have revealed the depth and breadth of NSA surveillance activities. The NSA scandal’s many dimensions include: mass domestic surveillance of telephone call information; allegations that officials deceived Congress, the courts, and the public about the nature of the NSA’s programs; alleged access to the Internet’s backbone and the traffic of major Internet companies; and systematic efforts to undercut the use of the encryption that secures communications and financial information.

Please join us on October 9 at a conference focusing on these issues and more, featuring keynote addresses by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), and Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Conference speakers and panels will explore the reporting challenges, legal issues, technology and business dimensions, and potential for reforms related to NSA surveillance.

To follow the discussion on Twitter follow the hashtag #CatoNSA.

For full speaker biographies click here.


October 9, 2013

Wyden: Once again the intelligence leadership has decided to leave most of real story story secret

An official familiar with the test project said its purpose was to see how the locational data would flow into the N.S.A.’s systems. While real data was used, it was never drawn upon in any investigation, the official said. It was unclear how many Americans’ locational data was collected as part of the project, whether the agency has held on to that information or why the program did not go forward.

But Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who receives classified briefings as a member of the Intelligence Committee and who has raised concerns about cellphone location tracking, said in a statement that there was more to know about the matter than the government had now declassified.

“After years of stonewalling on whether the government has ever tracked or planned to track the location of law-abiding Americans through their cellphones, once again, the intelligence leadership has decided to leave most of the real story secret — even when the truth would not compromise national security,” Mr. Wyden said.


October 9, 2013

News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout

@jmartNYT: More on technology and self-selection of information > http://t.co/vZ4mQiyEzE WARNING: if read in one sitting, material can be...depressing

Markus Prior Princeton University

Despite dramatic increases in available political information through cable television and the Internet, political knowledge and turnout have not changed noticeably. To explain this seeming paradox, I argue that greater media choice makes it easier for people to find their preferred content. People who like news take advantage of abundant political information to become more knowledgeable and more likely to turn out. In contrast, people who prefer entertainment abandon the news and become less likely to learn about politics and go to the polls. To test this proposition, I develop a measure of people’s media content preference and include it in a representative opinion survey of 2,358 U.S. residents. Results show that content preference indeed becomes a better predictor of political knowledge and turnout as media choice increases. Cable TV and the Internet increase gaps in knowledge and turnout between people who prefer news and people who prefer entertainment.


October 8, 2013

CNN: US pulling aid to Egypt.

@CNNSitRoom: #BREAKINGNEWS: Our @jimsciuttoCNN reports the US will stop foreign aid to #Egypt. The suspension will formally take place in the coming days

October 8, 2013

Power play: Harry Reid sidelined Joe Biden

Power play: Harry Reid sidelined Joe Biden

For now, Democrats have frozen Joe Biden out of shutdown negotiations. | AP Photo

By JONATHAN ALLEN and CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN | 10/8/13 5:01 AM EDT Updated: 10/8/13 9:07 AM EDT
When President Barack Obama laid out his strategy for the current debt-limit fight in a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this past summer, Reid stipulated one condition: No Joe Biden.

And while Biden attended the White House dog-and-pony show meeting last week with congressional leaders, Reid has effectively barred him from the backrooms, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The vice president’s disappearance has grown ever more noticeable as the government shutdown enters its eighth day with no resolution in sight and a debt limit crisis looms. Biden was once Democrats’ deal-maker-in-chief, designing budget pacts with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the summer of 2011 and New Year’s Eve 2013.

But Biden’s deals rubbed Democrats raw. He gave up too much, they said.

And for that, they have frozen him out — at least for now.

“None of the deals Biden has struck have aged well from the perspective of the Democratic Caucus,” said one Senate Democratic official aware of Reid’s face-to-face insistence that Biden be excluded.

A White House official said there are no negotiations at this point so there are no back channels for Biden to work. The official pointed to Biden’s inclusion in last week’s White House meeting with congressional leaders as an indication that the vice president is being kept in the loop.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/joe-biden-government-shutdown-debt-ceiling-97969.html#ixzz2h8pGHDRQ

October 8, 2013

Ezra Klein: The 13 reasons Washington is failing

The government is shut down. Confidence in Congress is at all-time lows. The American people haven't believed the country to be on the right track in almost a decade. Congress might do something truly crazy and default on the national debt.

At this point, it's almost cliche to say Washington isn't working. But the truth is harsher: Washington is actively failing. It's failing to craft policies that make the country better. And it's failing to avoid disasters that make the country worse.

It's nice to imagine these failures are temporary or aberrational. It's comforting to believe that they're the result of bad people, or dumb people, or incompetent people. But the truth is more unnerving: The American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don't look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon. A deal to reopen the government won't fix what ails American politics.

And so we need to look deeper than just this battle. The sooner we recognize that something is wrong with Washington, the sooner we can begin the hard work of fixing it. Here, then, are 13 of Washington's problems — ordered, subjectively, from small to big — and there are, of course, many more.

1) Earmarks are gone.


October 8, 2013

Biker cop joined in SUV beatdown, hit vehicle

Biker cop joined in SUV beatdown, hit vehicle

By Larry Celona, Jamie Schram and Kate SheehyOctober 7, 2013 | 10:32pm

An off-duty undercover cop who had claimed he took no active role as fellow bikers pulled a Manhattan dad from his SUV and beat him to a pulp was actually pounding the vehicle with his fists at the height of the bloody road-rage attack, sources told The Post.

The cop, a seven-year veteran, had told investigators he didn’t help the injured man because he rode up to the scene as the beating was nearly over, sources said.

But video footage clearly shows otherwise, disgusted sources said Monday — and Internal Affairs Bureau higher-ups want to nail the officer.

Still, probers believe their hands are tied, sources said, because authorities have dropped charges against another biker, Allen Edwards, 43, of Queens, who allegedly punched the rear window of Alexian Lien’s Range Rover before Lien was pummeled in front of his wife and 2-year-old daughter.


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