Vermont has hired a policy architect of the Affordable Care Act as an economic consultant to help the Shumlin administration vet different single-payer financing scenarios.
Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will help Shumlin’s health care reform team understand how different tax structures will impact subsets of the population as they design a proposal to pay for a planned universal health care program.
Gruber is a veteran of health care economics and national health policy having served as technical adviser to the Obama administration and Congress as they designed the Affordable Care Act.
The contract is worth $400,000 and is expected to solidify the administration’s pitch to lawmakers when it presents its proposal to lawmakers in January.
The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office recently signed its own more limited contract for economic simulations with Rand Corp.
I can't help seeing this as bad news. Read below the fold...
In just the past ten years, capital spending by major oil companies on exploration and extraction has tripled. And the result? Those same companies are producing less oil than they were in 2004. There's still new oil out there, but it's increasingly both expensive to get and expensive to refine.
(And all the hype to the contrary, the fracking revolution hasn't changed that. There's oil in those formations in Texas and North Dakota, but the wells only produce for a few years each and production costs are sky high compared to conventional oil.)
In a hypertechnical sense, the peak oil optimists were right: New technology has been able to keep global oil production growing longer than the pessimists thought. But, it turns out, not by much. Global oil production is growing very slowly; the cost of new oil is skyrocketing; the quality of new oil is mostly lousy; and we continue to bump up right against the edge of global demand, which means that even a small disruption in supply can send the world into an economic tailspin. So details aside, the pessimists continue to be right in practice even if they didn't predict the exact date we'd hit peak oil. It's long past time to get dead serious about finding renewable replacements on a very large scale.
Yes, market timing is hard, and by hard, we mean impossible. Read below the fold...
The CIA ran a secret jail on Polish soil, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday, piling pressure on Poland, one of Washington's closest allies, to break its long silence about the global programme for detaining al Qaeda suspects.
The court said it had been established that the CIA used a facility in a northern Polish forest, code named "Quartz", as a hub in its network for interrogating suspected al Qaeda operatives rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. .....
Thursday's ruling was the first time that a court in Europe had said that the CIA operated one of the secret jails - often referred to as "black sites" -on the continent.
The court case was brought by lawyers for two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who are now both inmates at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military's prison on Cuba.
They alleged they were flown in secret to a remote Polish airfield, then transferred to the CIA-facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty where they were subject to treatment they said amounted to [was] torture. ...
The court found Poland violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to prevent torture, ensure the right to liberty, and properly investigate allegations a crime had been committed on its territory.
The ruling from Strasbourg may have implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons: similar cases have been lodged with the court in Strasbourg against Romania and Lithuania. ...
That I did not know.
The court ruling did not directly cover the United States, which is outside its jurisdiction. ...
I hate to link to the Washington Times but:
A team of Pentagon officials is heading to Ukraine to help the country rebuild its fractured military, a mission that lawmakers and analysts expect will result in recommendations for greater military assistance [funding] in the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists [funding] amid international outrage [funding] over the downing of a commercial airplane.Read below the fold...
These people are out of their minds. Here's how a "nominator" puts you on the terraist watchlist. This is the actual government prose:
“To meet the REASONABLE SUSPICION standard, the NOMINATOR, based on the totality of the circumstances, must rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been knowingly engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to TERRORISM and/or TERRORIST ACTIVITIES.”
Shorter: If the nominator thinks it's a good idea. Maybe because they guys in the office were passing round some sex photos and wanted more. Read below the fold...
The Times, amazingly enough:
Mr. Cuomo said early on that the commission would be “totally independent” and free to pursue wrongdoing anywhere in state government, including in his own office. “Anything they want to look at, they can look at — me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman,” he said last August.
Great! Read below the fold...
Ukraine and MH17: Villagers reported to have seen BUKs, US intelligence officials say a lot of stuff
Just before lunchtime last Thursday, prior to the Malaysia Airlines plane's takeoff, a Buk was driven through Gagarin Street, one of the central thoroughfares of Torez, witnesses said.
Torez would later be the town where bodies of the victims were loaded on to refrigerated train cars. The tarmac on Gagarin Street is strewn with ruts made by tank treads, and locals say armoured vehicles controlled by separatists driving through the town have become a regular occurrence in recent weeks. The convoy last Thursday was different, however.
"We were inside and heard a noise much louder than usual," said one shopkeeper, who did not want to be identified. "We came running out and saw a jeep disappearing into the distance with something much larger in front of it. Later, customers said it had been a missile carrier."
In another shop further down the street, there was talk of a convoy of two jeeps and a missile launcher covered in a net driving past in the direction of the town of Snizhne. "I've never seen anything like it," said a middle-aged woman. She said her husband showed her a photograph of a Buk launcher afterwards and she realised that was indeed what she had seen. A group of men also said they had seen a Buk.
There have been suggestions that the missile was fired from fields on the outskirts of Snizhne. Many in Torez did not want to speak about the Buk or claimed not to have heard anything about it. Others said the missile's journey through the town had been a talking point in recent days, but people were scared of divulging too much to outsiders. None of those who reported sightings of the Buk wanted their names published.
OK, actual reporting. That's progress. The story end this way: Read below the fold...
Use "Apple Configurator" from the Apple store to protect yourself from back doors Apple built into iOS?
Forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdziarski has posted the slides (PDF) from his talk at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference in New York called Identifying Backdoors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices.
The HOPE conference started in 1994 and bills itself as "one of the most creative and diverse hacker events in the world."
Zdziarski, better known as the hacker "NerveGas" in the iPhone development community, worked as dev-team member on many of the early iOS jailbreaks and is the author of five iOS-related O’Reilly books including "Hacking and Securing iOS Applications." ...
In his talk, Zdziarski demonstrates "a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on every iOS device" and "suspicious design omissions in iOS that make collection easier." He also provides examples of forensic artifacts acquired that "should never come off the device" without user consent.
Zdziarski also notes that simply screen-locking an iPhone doesn't encrypt the data; the only true way to encrypt data is to shut down/power off the iPhone. "Your device is almost always at risk of spilling all data, since it’s almost always authenticated, even while locked." This is made possible by undocumented services running on every iOS device, according to Zdziarski's presentation:
Read the whole thing just so you can cross any rationalizations for what Apple is doing off your list.
And here's how you protect yourself by finding those services and nuking them: Read below the fold...
MSNBC President Phil Griffin micromanages pro-Israel "coverage," fires only Palestinian contributor, Rula Jebreal
[Rula Jebreal] said that in her two years as an MSNBC contributor, she had protested the network’s slanted coverage repeatedly in private conversations with producers. “I told them we have a serious issue here,” she explained. “But everybody’s intimidated by this pressure and if it’s not direct then it becomes self-censorship.”
With her criticism of her employer’s editorial line, she has become the latest casualty of the pro-Israel pressure. “I have been told to my face that I wasn’t invited on to shows because I was Palestinian,” Jebreal remarked. “I didn’t believe it at the time. Now I believe it.”
An NBC producer speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed Jebreal’s account, describing to me a top-down intimidation campaign aimed at presenting an Israeli-centric view of the attack on the Gaza Strip. The NBC producer told me that MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC executives are micromanaging coverage of the crisis, closely monitoring contributors’ social media accounts and engaging in a “witch hunt” against anyone who strays from the official line.
“Loyalties are now being openly questioned,” the producer commented.
Oh? Loyalty to whom? Or what? Read below the fold...