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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
October 12, 2013

Hawaii exchange contracted CGI, the same company who designed the Federal site

Many experts and advocates remain confident that the problems stopping people from at least shopping for plans can be solved fairly quickly — by early November. The pressure is on at CGI Federal, the prime contractor with a $94 million contract to design the site.

CGI has refused press inquiries, while Obamacare implementers have shown outward signs of frustration with the company. CGI is also building Hawaii’s exchange website, which has experienced the rockiest rollout of any of the 15 state-run exchanges in the country. The head of Hawaii’s exchange did little to hide her displeasure when asked Wednesday whether the exchange would seek reimbursement for the website’s poor performance.

“Contracts are obviously confidential,” said executive director Coral Andrews. “But what I can tell you is a good business practice is to ensure that a contract has the appropriate expectation laid out for milestones not being met, and we did our due diligence ensuring that we went through that process.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/obamacare-aca-tech-experts-glitches-issues-problems-98202_Page2.html#ixzz2hWeSvjCQ

October 12, 2013

US man who fought with Syrian rebels wanted to join al Qaeda, say authorities

An Orange County man who had fought with Syrian rebels against the Assad regime was arrested Friday morning as he tried to leave the U.S. with a fake passport to fight for al Qaeda against U.S. soldiers overseas, said authorities.

Twenty-four-year-old Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of Garden Grove, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, was stopped at a bus station in Santa Ana, Calif. at 7:30 a.m. by members of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force and arrested on suspicion of providing material support to al Qaeda.

According to a grand jury indictment, Nguyen, a U.S. citizen, lied about his name, his date of birth, and his place of birth on a passport application in August, and also falsely answered no when asked if he’d ever applied for a passport previously.
Nguyen is charged with one count of making false statements to obtain a passport and one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.


October 12, 2013

Poll: Just 25 Percent Think Their Own Member Of Congress Deserves Reelection

Only one-quarter of Americans think that their own member of Congress should be reelected, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. That's a sharp departure from similar polls conducted before the government shutdown.

In the new survey, 25 percent of respondents said they believe the member of Congress from their district deserves to be reelected, while 47 percent said they did not. Another 27 percent said they weren't sure.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, released Thursday, asked Americans if they would choose to replace every member of Congress, including their own. Sixty percent said yes. That's the highest fire-them-all figure ever measured on an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Other polls have shown congressional approval ratings at or near record lows.

Not surprisingly, the HuffPost/YouGov survey found that even more Americans would get rid of most members of Congress if they didn't have to make a choice specifically about their own. Only 11 percent said they think most congressional lawmakers deserve to be reelected, while 70 percent said most don't.


October 11, 2013

@ezraklein: Big deal:backroom connection between insurance companies and Feds is a disaster

@ezraklein: Big deal: "the backroom connection between the insurance companies and the federal government is a disaster." http://t.co/p1Ub7gk96k

Ek's link:
How Many People Have Signed Up For Health Insurance on the Federal Health Insurance Exchanges?

Based upon my survey of a large number of health plans accounting for substantial market share in the 36 states the federal insurance exchange is operating in, not more than about 5,000 individuals and families signed-up for health insurance in the 36 states run by the Obama administration through Monday.

It is not uncommon for a major health insurer with a large market share to report less than 100 enrollments in the first week.

Reports today say the enrollments continue to trickle in at about the same rate.

Worse, the backroom connection between the insurance companies and the federal government is a disaster. Things are worse behind the curtain than in front of it.

Here is one example from a carrier--and I have received numerous reports from many other carriers with exactly the same problem. One carrier exec told me that yesterday they got 7 transactions for 1 person - 4 enrollments and 3 cancelations.

For some reason the system is enrolling, unenrolling, enrolling again, and so forth the same person. This has been going on for a few days for many of the enrollments being sent to the health plans. It has got on to the point that the health plans worry some of these very few enrollments really don't exist.

The reconciliation system, that reconciles enrollment between the feds and the health plans, is not working and hasn't even been tested yet.

October 10, 2013

U.S. builders hoard mineral rights under new homes

Special Report: U.S. builders hoard mineral rights under new homes
By Michelle Conlin and Brian Grow
NAPLES, FLORIDA | Wed Oct 9, 2013 6:14am EDT

NAPLES, Florida (Reuters) - Robert and Julie Davidson fell hard for the gleaming new house at the Valencia Golf and Country Club in Naples, Florida. They loved the way the palm-fringed, Spanish-style home backed up to the fifth-hole fairway. And they were taken with the three-bedroom's high ceilings and open plan. Plus the neighborhood - with its power-washed driveways, blooming hibiscus and guarded gatehouse - seemed all "dressed up."

But when the Davidsons paid $255,385 in 2011 for the house on Birdie Drive, they didn't know that they had, in essence, bought only from the ground up, and that their homebuilder, D.R. Horton, had kept everything underneath.

"Wait a second, wait a second," Robert Davidson said after a reporter told him that a search of county records showed that D.R. Horton still owned the oil, natural gas, water and other natural resources beneath his and his neighbors' homes. "Let me sit down a minute here. They have the mineral rights to the land I'm on?"


October 10, 2013

Some money funds & banks refusing Treasuries maturing in next several weeks as repo collateral

@billmon1: "Some money funds & banks starting to refuse Treasury securities maturing in next several weeks as repo collateral." http://t.co/wjr6JqzfGZ

* Overnight repo rates jump to highest in five months

* Speculation some players refusing to accept some Treasuries

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Growing worries about a possible U.S. default are spreading to a key part of the short-term credit market, sending overnight interest rates to their highest in five months on Wednesday.

Following the recent jump in interest rates on U.S. Treasury bills, banks and Wall Street firms are paying more to borrow in the repurchase agreement market, where they often pledge Treasuries as collateral in exchange for short-term cash to finance trades and loans.

Traders said some money funds and banks are starting to refuse to accept Treasury securities maturing in the next several weeks as repo collateral.

"Investors are worried about holding Treasury bills and coupon securities in late October through the middle of November, which may face delayed payments," said Boris Rjavinski, rates and rate derivatives strategist at UBS in Stamford, Connecticut.

October 10, 2013

Wow, Healthcare.gov has a complicated task...

The amount of subsidy depends on a consumer's income. To ensure each consumer receives the correct subsidy, the exchanges must request income data from the Internal Revenue Service.

The exchanges are only open to American citizens and documented immigrants. To verify an applicant's citizenship and immigration status, an exchange must first verify a customer's identity with the Social Security Administration, and then check her immigration status with the Department of Homeland Security.

The exchanges must also check to make sure applicants are not already enrolled in another government health insurance program, which would make them ineligible for Obamacare. That means retrieving data from the Veterans Health Administration, the Department of Defense, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Peace Corps. It also means checking with a state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program agencies to see if an applicant is already enrolled in one of those programs.

Finally, once a customer purchases health insurance, the exchange must provide her information to the insurance company she has chosen. Insurance companies across the country have been scrambling to integrate their own computer systems with the exchanges.


October 10, 2013

Libya approves U.S. operations to get Benghazi suspects

October 9th, 2013
11:17 PM ET

Libya approves U.S. operations to get Benghazi suspects
By Barbara Starr

The Libyan government has given the United States "tacit approval" to conduct missions inside Libya to capture suspects involved in the terror attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

The official has direct knowledge of the arrangements but declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

Approval for action against Benghazi suspects, which was granted in recent weeks, is the same type of agreement that allowed a U.S. raid this past weekend in Tripoli.

In that operation, Army Delta Forces captured Abu Anas al Libi, an al Qaeda operative wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.


News reports claim the abduction of Libyan PM Ali Zeidan by gunmen

October 10, 2013

Mass Anger Builds in Libya After US Special Forces Raid

The Libyan government demanded an audience with the US Ambassador Deborah Jones this week in response to Saturday’s raid, led by US Special Forces, to capture alleged Al Qaeda planner Anas al-Liby. At least ten attackers surrounded al-Liby outside his Tripoli residence, where they disarmed him and forced him into a vehicle.

Al-Liby is currently being held in the brig of a US naval vessel in the Mediterranean, where he has reportedly been denied his Miranda rights and is likely being subjected to torture. He previously resided in the UK and had been living in Tripoli since 2011, without making an effort to conceal his identity or whereabouts.

Speaking on behalf of the US National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden touted the operation to capture al-Liby as the product of “months of operational planning.”

In response, the Libyan government has sought to balance between appeasing popular outrage against the kidnapping and maintaining good relations with US imperialism, which installed it during the 2011 NATO war to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Speaking at a press conference in Rabat, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan mildly protested the snatch-and-grab operation, while affirming that good relations will continue between the US and the Libyan “revolution.”

“We emphasize that Libyan citizens should be judged in Libya, and Libya does not surrender its sons,” Zeidan said. “The US was very helpful to Libya during the revolution and the relations should not be affected by an incident, even if it is a serious one.”

There is anxiety in establishment circles that the kidnapping of al-Liby will provoke an explosion of outrage against the neo-colonial Libyan regime. The US-backed government is in a state of desperate crisis, facing threats of armed Islamist militias, demands from workers for better pay and more employment, and cities requiring reconstruction as a result of the devastation caused by the 2011 war.


News reports claim the abduction of Libyan PM Ali Zeidan by gunmen


October 10, 2013

News reports claim the abduction of Libyan PM Ali Zeidan by gunmen

@ZekeJMiller: RT @AlArabiya_Eng: #BreakingNews: News reports claim the abduction of Libyan PM Ali Zeidan by gunmen

Armed rebels escort Libyan PM to undisclosed location

(CNN) -- Rebels have kidnapped Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan and taken him to an undisclosed location, the prime minister's spokeswoman told CNN early Thursday.

Armed rebels escorted the prime minister from the Corinthian Hotel in Tripol into a convoy of waiting cars, said a hotel clerk who was not authorized to speak to the media.

The witness reported no gunfire during the incident, and said the gunmen was respectful and "caused no trouble."

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan's office initially called the abduction a "rumor" on its official Facebook page. Then it posted a note that said it was "coerced by kidnappers to deny the report."


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