|Mitch McConnell is telling everyone he can to ignore Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Click here to help send him a Kentucky Derby message that in order to win the race to a clean energy future, he must first get off his ass, coal.
I am going to tell you something that seems obvious, but goes much deeper than you may know: Mitch McConnell Loves Coal! He’ll say or do anything to make sure that we never ween ourselves off this dirty fuel that is the single largest air polluter in the U.S.1
First he sent a letter to all 50 governors telling them to ignore the President’s Clean Power Plan, which would reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants.2 But a national campaign of lies was not enough for Mitch. Next, he told foreign leaders not to enter into a United Nations pact with the U.S. to reduce our global warming emissions by 28 percent, even though other nations promised to make cuts too.3
But here’s the embarrassing secret about Mitch’s coal derby: Kentucky regulators and utilities are already planning to comply with the president’s ambitious plan to move away from coal and protect our health and climate.4 So I came up with a plan to help send Mitch a message: Kentuckians are ready for a clean energy future, so stop trying to obstruct the inevitable. Now picture this — a fleet of public transit buses in Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, carrying a huge advertisement telling Mitch McConnell to get off his ass coal. If we can plaster that message on a fleet of public transit buses during Kentucky’s biggest event of the year, the Kentucky Derby, you can be sure that Mitch will hear and see it for himself. Can you please chip in $50 or more to help Mitch McConnell get BUS(ted)?
Mitch McConnell keeps trying to sound a false alarm that cleaning up coal-fired power plants would cost Kentucky and the country jobs. But according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics the coal industry employs only 0.06% of U.S. private sector workers. And even in Mitch’s home state of Kentucky, only 0.64% of the state’s workforce is employed by the coal industry.5 It’s clear that the only thing Mitch loves more than coal is the money that the coal industry keeps giving him. During the 2013-2014 election cycle, the coal industry gave Mitch nearly $300,000, which was three times more than they gave to the second highest recipient.6 It’s a classic case of quid pro coal.
That’s why at this year’s Kentucky Derby, we want to show Mitch McConnel that when it comes to our energy future, he’s simply backing the wrong horse. Kentuckians are betting on real stallions of clean energy like solar, wind and geothermal. With your help, we can let Mitch know that when it comes to the Clean Power Plan, his stance is ass backwards. Please click here and chip in whatever you can to get these buses rolling to the derby.
Thanks for all that you do,
Anthony and the Kentucky Derby Clean Team
Fox News Coverage Of Obamacare Was Extremely Misleading
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I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.” Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.
But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.
I decided to hit the pavement. I tracked down Hannity’s guests, one by one, and did my own telephone interviews with them.
First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C. He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.
Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.
There is only one Obamacare requirement that applies to a company of this size: workers must be notified of the existence of the “ healthcare.gov” website, the insurance exchange. That’s all.
Next I called Allison Denijs. She’d told Hannity that she pays over $13,000 a year in premiums. Like the other guests, she said she had recently gotten a letter from Blue Cross saying that her policy was being terminated and a new, ACA-compliant policy would take its place. She says this shows that Obama lied when he promised Americans that we could keep our existing policies.
Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes. One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $800 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to $19,000 a year.
I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.
I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.
&lt;img style=”border: 10px solid white;” alt=”Skype 66″ src=”https://d3ojdig7p1k9j.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Skype-66.jpg” width=”205″ height=”157″ />Judy writes in to warn us about Skype cruising by members of the military (overseas).
Once the Reval occurs, there may be security features we may want to put in place, mostly to ward off scams and phishers and other sources of inconvenience.
Someone sent me today what looked to me like a PayPal lookalike site which, if he’d have signed onto it, would have given away his PayPal username and password. We’re not so far out of the woods yet, it seems, that we can become careless and the cost of carelessness may soon go up. So here’s Judy’s write-up of her Skype invasion.
Two weeks ago and twice within the past few days I have been receiving SKYPE requests to allow men to be on my contact list!! Maybe I don`t know all the ramifications of this technology set up. I understood only people I offered my address to on SKYPE could actually even contact me in the first place! Seeing one unfamiliar name, accompanied by a picture of a middle-aged man in army uniform, I blocked his access. By the way, names are clearly shown too….
When I received a second request, last week, I accepted because I decided to do a bit of investigating. He proceeded to tell me he was in Afghanistan – at a desk with time to spare and wanted to form a friendship with me. Beside his picture were two words – truth and honesty. When I persisted five times that he tell me the truth – how did you get my SKYPE address – he simply ignored my question and yet rapidly kept wanting to know more about me. Like where I was from and so on. I quickly cut that one off my contacts and blocked it – feeling a bit more mystified than ever.
This morning, there was yet another request – different middle-aged guy, again pictured in US army camouflage uniform. I denied contact and then got thinking something that seems to be an obvious answer. As part of the ability to spy on any means of communication on the planet, wouldn`t it be interesting (to say the least) that these guys in their spare time are using the technology at their finger-tips – all under US military and espionage control – to pick up a woman like on-line dating sources!!!
That`s not the important part as far as I`m concerned. It was the greatest tip off ever though! What is supposed to be secure information sure isn`t!!! So I`m blowing my whistle here!! TOOT! TOOT! Hope you guys can look into this further with your sources – and spread the news around – and see what`s up!!
Hello again, Steve:
Since I sent that note to you my mind has been busy – trying to figure out if by chance I had posted my SKYPE address to one of my public areas: my website or Facebook so I checked them and nothing there! I still have a wee bit of a concern that at some point I might have unknowingly made my personal space too public when I first set up SKYPE to contact my family and friends back in Ontario. I rarely connected with anyone that way as the reception is less than desirable in my experience.
So, just now I checked all my possible options and I can find nothing that shows it. I would never want to accuse anyone of merely being `bored on the job` and in surfing the net somehow discovering my existence in that way. Did my information get unknowingly posted to a dating sight!! I don`t know – although that`s also an infringement of my rights too of course!
So given that slight hesitation – I am very pleased to give you permission to publish it. I suspect the real concern that prompted me to write it in the first place is sadly true! Toot! Toot!
UK Banks to Simulate “Very Severe” Cyber Attack
&lt;img style=”margin: 10px;” alt=”cyber-attack_2609464b” src=”https://d3ojdig7p1k9j.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/cyber-attack_2609464b-200×200.jpg” width=”200″ height=”200″ />Stephen: They’re saying this mid-November simulated “very severe” online attack is to test UK’s banking, payments and markets systems. But could this very public announcement be designed to stabilise markets if some other anomalies – such as the imminent RV and/or the Global Currency Reset – appear from nowhere? Or could this be some cover-up for another major planetary event? I pose the questions only. I do not know the answers.
By Harry Wilson, The Telegraph, UK – October 6, 2013
Banks will next month launch the most extensive cyber threat exercise in two years as the authorities test the preparedness of the financial system to survive a sustained online attack.
Operation Waking Shark 2 has been scheduled for mid-November with every high street bank expected to take part in a one-day “war game” simulating the impact of a major cyber attack on the payments and markets systems on which the UK’s financial system depends.
An outside consultant has designed and will lead the test – monitored by the Bank of England, Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority – to assess the ability of Britain’s core financial services providers to withstand attacks by cyber criminals as well as state-sponsored terrorist attacks on the UK.
The exercise comes two years after the now defunct Financial Services Authority launched the Original Operation Waking Shark to test the strength of the online defences.
One source with knowledge of the latest test, said it would simulate a “very severe” attack on British banks, the stock market and payment providers. Several thousand people across the financial services industry and at the regulators will take part in the exercise. “This is absolutely vital work and will enable us to see how are defences work in the event of a real attack and what areas need to be improved,” said the source.
The results of Operation Waking Shark 2 will be used to benchmark banks and other major financial institutions cyber security with those found to have weaker defences expected to face demands to invest more in online controls. Cyber security is emerging as one of the main threats to the banking system and regulators now take the ability of a lender to withstand a serious online attack almost as seriously as measures of strength such as capital levels and short-term liquidity buffers.
The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has repeatedly warned about the need to monitor banks’ online defences, as well as those of other key financial services providers.
The FPC has ordered regulators to come up with “action plans” in the event of cyber attack by the first quarter of 2014 and to issue it with an update on the work before the end of the year. As well as checking the industry’s defences, the FPC has also said the Bank of England itself must ensure it is able to operate if its own systems are attacked.
Andrew Haldane, executive director at the Bank of England with responsibility for financial stability and a member of the FPC, has been one of the main proponents of the need to improve cyber defences.
The Bank of England declined to comment for this article.
The cyber stress test comes amid increased concerns at the potential vulnerability of key parts of the financial system to attacks ranging from lone “hacktivists” right up to coordinated assaults financed by hostile countries.
Last month, a group of men were arrested after a suspected attempt to plant a remote device in a branch of Santander UK that it is alleged could have allowed criminals to steal money from customer accounts.
Banks have also faced so-called denial of service attacks that have caused their systems to fail.
Pope Francis Says Church Must Rid Itself of ‘Worldliness’
Posted by sage on October 5, 2013 / Comments Off
The Telegraph – October 4, 2013
Speaking in the hall where the medieval saint is said to have taken off his robes in a gesture of humility, the Pope said the Church should also “divest” itself and return to spiritual basics.
“The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness,” a visibly emotional pope said, adding: “Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church.”
“Without divesting ourselves, we would become pastry shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians,” he said.
He also referred to the migrant shipwreck tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday in which 111 people are confirmed to have died and scores more are missing.
The world “does not care about the many people fleeing slavery, hunger, fleeing in search of freedom. And how many of them die as happened yesterday! Today is a day of tears,” he said.
“Let us hear the cry of those who weep, suffer or die because of violence, terrorism or war in the holy land Saint Francis loved so much, in Syria, in the entire Middle East, in the world,” the pope said in his homily.
The Pope became the first to adopt the name of St Francis when he was elected in March, saying he was inspired by the saint’s humility and his teachings on peace and protecting God’s creation.
On his visit, the pope met with many poor and disabled people being aided by Catholic charities.
Some 100,000 pilgrims and over 1,000 journalists followed the pope as he visited the sites associated with the saint in the picturesque hill town of Assisi in Umbria in central Italy.
The saint, who was born in 1182 and died in 1226, famously renounced earthly riches and donned a sackcloth to live like and for the poor.
The Pope has called for a “poor Church for the poor” and has said he wants to overhaul the 2,000-year-old institution, making it less “Vatican-centric” and closer to ordinary people.
Before a gathering of thousands of young people later in the day, he stressed the importance of marriage, the family and defended the celibacy of priests.
He singled out today’s “temporary culture” as a negative influence, and said society privileged individual rights, while setting up a family was perceived as risky.
In a more light-hearted moment, the pope reminded married couples it was never good to go to bed angry.
“Argue as much as you like, even if the plates fly that is fine, but never end the day without making peace.”
The Pope was visiting Assisi with the eight cardinals from around the world he has handpicked to advise him on reforming the Vatican, giving more power to local churches and make the Church less hierarchical.
The head of Italy’s crisis-hit government, Prime Minister Enrico Letta, was in the first row of the crowd attending his homily.
St Francis, who is also the patron saint of Italy, was said to have heard God tell him: “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins” – a reference to the Church.
That is the same message the cardinals expressed for the new pope at the dramatic conclave in which he was elected earlier this year, following a wave of financial scandals and child abuse cases.
The Pope’s visit to Assisi is different from that of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI because it is focused on the saint’s message of poverty rather than that of inter-religious peace.
The trip is the pope’s third in Italy after he visited the southern island of Lampedusa in July where he called for more tolerance of immigrants and Cagliari in Sardinia in September when he denounced “an idol called money”.
After completing his pilgrimage, the Pope left Assisi by helicopter for Rome.
What the Rest of the World Thinks About the US Shutdown…as Obama Cancels APEC Trip
&lt;img style=”margin: 10px;” alt=”different-people” src=”https://d3ojdig7p1k9j.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/different-people-200×200.jpg” width=”200″ height=”200″ />From AFP – October 3, 2013
From Chinese bloggers to European central bankers, the world is watching the US government shutdown with a mixture of bewilderment and growing nervousness that any debt default could hit struggling economies.
The effects of the dramatic spending freeze have rippled around the globe, paralysing a leading earthquake alert system, forcing American scientists to pull out of international conferences and leading an embarrassed President Barack Obama to postpone visits to two Asian countries.
In emerging superpower China, a one-party state where legislative deadlock holds little fear for the Communist rulers, the official Xinhua news agency said the situation had once again brought to the fore “the ugly side of partisan politics in Washington”.
“Though its immediate impact looks limited, the damage will multiply if the drama drags on for days or even weeks, arousing concerns over its spillover effect,” it said in a commentary, referring to the US economy.
Chinese social media users took a largely mocking tone in response to the first US government shutdown in 17 years.
“Shutdown! What about the money China put in there?” posted one user on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, a reference to Beijing’s massive purchases of US Treasury debt.
While global markets have so far been relatively resilient, there are growing jitters about the impact on the US economy at a time of heightened uncertainty over a possible winding-down of the Federal Reserve’s massive stimulus measures.
Apart from reaching a budget deal to end the shutdown, Congress must agree within two weeks to raise the $16.7 trillion US debt ceiling — or risk a default on government debt.
“If the US actually defaults on its debt, that might send a signal to markets that the United States is no longer a credible borrower, and given how much debt there is sloshing around in the American system, that could be catastrophic,” said David Smith, a lecturer at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre.
There were signs of mounting nervousness in emerging economies that have borne the brunt of recent market jitters over the expected tapering of US quantitative easing.
The US shutdown “is highly unfortunate for the rest of the world, as even countries like the Philippines are taken on a wild economic ride because of the political game of chicken in Washington,” Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement.
He appealed to the United States to resolve the stalemate over raising the debt ceiling — a particular concern to Asian countries including China and Japan, which are major holders of US Treasuries.
“A US default, unimaginable for most of history yet now in the realm of the possible because of current political circumstances, can only lead to unprecedented chaos in the global financial markets,” Purisima warned.
The Indian Express newspaper called it a “depressingly familiar chicken dance in Washington”. In Japan — where TV channels have shown images of closed monuments such as the Statue of Liberty — the Nikkei business daily lamented a “pointless political conflict”.
“This political mishandling must not destroy the buds of growth that we see for the US and global economies,” it said.
In Europe, where recession-hit economies are struggling to get back on their feet after years of turmoil, finance chiefs expressed concern about the threat to the fragile recovery.
The US shutdown “is a risk if it is protracted… it would be a risk not only for the US, but also the world economy,” said European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
While US visa and passport operations are unaffected, the crisis in Washington has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay at home, closed museums and national parks and put much scientific research on hold.
One US researcher who travelled 30 hours to Perth in Australia for a science conference found himself barred from presenting his work on Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s actually a federal offence if I do go ahead and give the talk or even continue attending the conference,” Michael Lazarou told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I had prepared for such a long time to come here and give this talk — all that effort and it goes to waste now.”
&lt;img style=”margin: 10px;” alt=”Obama APEC” src=”https://d3ojdig7p1k9j.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Obama-APEC-300×194.jpg” width=”240″ height=”155″ />Obama Cancels APEC Trip
From AFP – October 4, 2103
Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama scrapped trips to two key Asian summits on Thursday, blaming the US government shutdown for the cancelation of a tour designed to advance a central prong of his foreign policy.
After days of speculation that the trip was in jeopardy following the shutdown crisis, a White House statement late Thursday confirmed Obama would miss the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali and the East Asia summit in Brunei next week.
The president had already cancelled plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines, but had delayed taking a decision on the summit meetings, both seen as an opportunity to push important foreign policy initiatives in the region.
“Due to the government shutdown, President Obama’s travel to Indonesia and Brunei has been canceled,” the White House statement said.
“The President made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government.”
The White House said Obama had called Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to inform him of the cancelation.
“He expressed his regret that the ongoing government shutdown in the United States will prevent him from attending the Summit,” the statement said.
Obama had also called the Sultan of Brunei, the White House said.
Secretary of State John Kerry would lead the US delegations to both countries in place of Obama, the statement said, before rounding on Republicans for causing a “completely avoidable shutdown.”
“The cancelation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government,” the White House statement said.
“This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of US exports and advance US leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world.”
The budget impasse which has shuttered swathes of government departments and sent hundreds of thousands of federal workers home had left Obama torn between his political priorities at home and important foreign policy goals.
White House spokesman Jay Carney had already hinted that the trip to Asia was at risk if the government shutdown was not resolved by the time of Obama’s scheduled departure on Saturday.
Political analysts had questioned whether Obama would risk traveling abroad and present an opening to domestic foes while on the other side of the globe.
Republicans would almost certainly accuse the president of placing more importance on striding the world stage while neglecting his duties at home.
However analysts had warned a no-show by Obama could hurt US interests in Asia, allowing competitors in the region such as China to make the case that Washington is an unreliable partner.
“I think there?s a lot at stake here with this trip,” said Ernie Bower, a Southeast Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies before the cancelation was made official.
“The geopolitical ramifications of the president not making a trip if he decides indeed that he has to cancel… — it would leave a big geopolitical mark.”
Bower said US allies would also question the extent of Obama’s commitment to Asia amid concerns that Washington lacked the political focus and capital to advance its pivot to Asia.
By nixing the Asia visit, Obama will be missing a chance to rub shoulders with leaders like China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, key players in ongoing geopolitical crises from Syria to North Korea.
Obama in his first term, sensed an opening with Southeast Asian nations irked by China’s increasingly abrasive foreign policy and power plays in simmering maritime territorial disputes in the region.
But the exit of administration heavyweights like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and national security advisor Tom Donilon — both closely identified with the pivot — have deprived US Asia policy of a figurehead.
Senior administration officials however point to repeated visits to Asia by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and noted their commitment to concluding a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) region-wide trade deal as proof of US commitment.
They also cite Obama’s repeated travel to Asia, most recently in November last year, when he visited Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.