Updates from February, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
Isay. Sure Obomber back into Mexico, as you are forced to cut their welfare! This news link http://tiny.iavian.net/pf1
By Jason Horowitz, Published: February 25
ROME — Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian prime minister, billionaire playboy and perpetual criminal defendant who was all but counted out of Italian political life when a debt crisis forced his resignation in 2011, shocked the country Monday by shooting back into a position of influence.
Even by the chaotic standards of Italian politics, the resurgence of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party, which seems to be in contention to win the most seats in the Italian Senate, along with the astonishingly strong showing of a naysaying protest party led by Beppe
Grillo, a seething ex-comedian opposed to the euro, has cast the Italian government into confusion.
The results have created the remarkable possibility that Italy could find itself next week without a government or a pope.
That instability rippled across the Atlantic. As details of the election became clear through the day, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 200 points, or about 1.5 percent, in a potent reminder of how sensitive markets remain to events in the euro zone. The currency region’s financial crisis has ebbed in recent months, but only on the assumption that political leaders would follow through on promised economic policies — something the Italian results may throw into doubt.
There was no clear victor in the election held Sunday and Monday. There were, however, losers. The left-leaning Democratic Party, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, a mild-mannered former industry minister, appeared likely to barely win the lower house of Parliament, but fell far short of expectations.
Bersani, 61, is weighed down with far-left partners such asNichi Vendola, a gay, ex-communist southern governor that the Italian press once dubbed “the white Obama.” Vendola once assessed himself to The Washington Post as “beloved.” He is less cherished by the potential partners Bersani needs to form a coalition, setting the stage for yet another collapse-prone Italian government.
“We have a problem of governability,” said the party’s spokesman, Roberto Seghetti. The banner headline on Il Messaggero on Tuesday read: “Ungovernability wins.”
The smallest electorate since World War II sent a clear message of dissatisfaction to the country’s caretaker prime minister, Mario Monti, who was advised by David Axelrod, top campaign strategist for President Obama. Monti, an international darling for his technical government’s emphasis on responsibility and personal austerity, proved a political flop at home and won less than 10 percent of the vote, dashing his hopes to finish a mission that counted Obama among its supporters.
Critics of Berlusconi were sure that the onetime cruise ship singer was gone from national politics for good. Berlusconi, whose last public appearances before the election included a favorable comparison between the Sicilian mafia and the Italian judicial system, had promised to forgive the building of illegal houses and personally pay about 4 billion euros worth of property taxes for Italian citizens. He also expertly benefited from the fragmentation of the Italian political universe.
“He’s the best campaigner,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, professor of political science at the Luiss university, who added that the “winner” of the elections, however, was Grillo’s raging Five Star Movement, which garnered about a quarter of the vote. “We have never seen anything like it in Europe,” he said of Grillo’s campaign.
The 64-year-old Grillo, who has sapped the votes of the Italian left, transformed himself from theoretical funnyman to public scourge
of Italy’s corrupt political class
in 2007, when he began holding V-Day protests (short for an Italian expletive). Hundreds of thousands of supporters have turned out in recent weeks to hear Grillo, who has put a mask of notorious plotter Guy Fawkes on his Tsunami Tour’s campaign camper, has the most-read blog in Italy and exhausts himself screaming “Thieves!” and bemoaning the country’s myriad woes.
What worries many of Italy’s more sober politicians and analysts is that the protest leader does not seem to be in favor of much. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter in an accident that killed three people means that Grillo himself cannot serve in Parliament, and his candidates have no governing experience, having won by railing against tax collectors, vaccines, citizenship for children born to Italy’s legal immigrants and the euro.
Outside a voting station on Via Tevere, Enrico Beccarini, 61, said he was disappointed by a Monti campaign that amounted to “putting up posters” and the chilly economist trying to warm his image by adopting a dog named Empathy. He voted for Grillo’s party because “it’s a strong protest vote,” he said.
Giancarlo Pagotto, a retired banker, walked out minutes later and said he had cast his ballot for Berlusconi. “At this moment, he seems to me the only acceptable choice,” he said with a shrug. “I’m anti-communist so I can’t vote Bersani; Grillo is leading a good rebellion, but we have no idea what he’s for, and Monti disappointed me.”
As for Berlusconi’s pledge to personally pay for the country’s real estate tax, Pagotto said, “you say a lot of things in an electoral campaign. My hope is that he wins and then steps aside for someone else in his party and becomes economy minister. He’s a great entrepreneur.”
© The Washington Post Company
This news link http://tiny.iavian.net/pdf was sent from a friend.
Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
6 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning
10 oz can Cream of Chicken Soup
4 lbs peeled, cubed potatoes
5 Tablespoons real butter
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves roasted garlic (directions are below)
1- 1 1/2 Cups warm skim milk (any milk will do, I used skim)
1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
Place pork chops, Ranch seasoning and soup into a medium sized crock pot over high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6 hours.
Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and transfer to the work bowl of a stand or electric mixer. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consistency.
Scoop mashed potatoes onto serving plates and top with pork chops and soup gravy from crock pot. I put a little parsley on top to serve.
Isay……I wonder how much they had to pay….to get them out to vote in Nov. ’12
The Daily Caller
Liberal astroturf group offering $9 to $11 per hour to join its gun-control campaign
10:12 AM 02/24/2013
The liberal organization Progressive USA Voters, which is housed in the same progressive Denver office building as a chapter of the infamous left-wing astroturf group ProgressNow, is offering an hourly wage of between $9and $11 to join its gun-control campaign in Chicago, according to a flyer that was photographed and posted to Reddit Friday.
“Join the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence” reads the flyer, which also notes, “Hourly Wage: $9-11/hr.
- From the Cheap Seats: Liberals Try to Downplay Big Pro-Gun Crowds (thecoloradoobserver.com)
Isay ….This is how Obomber wins a war…for the other side….No wonder our troops are committing suicide. Their commander in chief…..allows this to happen to them…first he loses Iraq….now he loses Afghanistan …and where is OUR media? Oh yeah…still searching for Tiger…. for a scoop on the fifth hole! Disgusting….
24 February 2013 Last updated at11:37 ETUS forces see Wardak province, not far from Kabul, as strategically significant
The Afghan president has ordered US special forces to leave Wardak province within two weeks.
The decision was being taken due to allegations of disappearances and torture by Afghans considered to be part of US special forces, said a spokesman for Hamid Karzai.
The strategically significant, central province of Wardak has been the recent focus of counter-insurgency operations.
A US statement said it took all allegations of misconduct seriously.
But the US could not comment specifically on this latest development “until we have had a chance to speak with senior government officials”, the statement by a spokesman for US special forces said.
“This is an important issue that we must discuss with our Afghan counterparts,” the statement said.
The Afghan president’s office said the decision to order the expulsion of US special forces had been taken at a meeting of the National Security Council.
“After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” it said.
“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.
“However, Americans reject having conducted any such operation and any involvement of their special force.
“The meeting strongly noted that such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred.”
The presidential statement said Afghan forces were “duty bound” to put a stop to such behaviour, and urged local people to co-operate in bringing them to justice.
In a hastily convened news conference, a presidential spokesman suggested many of the allegations centred on Afghan citizens he alleged were working with US special forces.
“There are some individuals, some Afghans, who are working within these cells, within these [US] special forces groups” in Wardak province, said spokesman Aimal Faizi.
“But they are part of US special forces according to our sources and according to our local officials working in the province,” he said.
He said all special forces must leave Wardak within two weeks.
All operations by international special forces in the province have also been ordered to stop with immediate effect.
Wardak is seen as a gateway for the Taliban to target Kabul, says the BBC’s Karen Allen in the capital.
She says this move to expel US forces has come as something of surprise for the Americans.
There is not much clarity as to who these Afghans are, our correspondent says – not, it seems, the local police who have come in for criticism in the past.
The accountability of US forces and local militia working with them has been a growing source of friction in Afghan-US relations.
A week ago, Mr Karzai banned Afghan forces from calling in foreign air strikes on residential areas, following the deaths of 10 civilians in a night raid in eastern Kunar province.
Mr Karzai gave a blunt statement for the reasons for the ban.
“Our forces ask for air support from foreigners and children get killed in an air strike,” he said.
The argument over accountability comes against a backdrop of long-term negotiations over which foreign forces will remain in Afghanistan after Nato’s exit in 2014.
The bulk of Nato’s 100,000 troops are due to leave by the end of that year.
Isay……just more examples of voter fraud…and why don’t the Republican RINOs look into this? Well because they will be accused of being racists! Facts do not matter…and the fact is, this voter fraud is happening in large cities and democrat areas….and minority areas…of course that should not be your FIRST clue….
Posted on Sat, Feb. 23, 2013
The case of the phantom ballots: an electoral whodunit
By Patricia Mazzei
TIM CHAPMAN / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
About 2,000 rejected absentee ballots at Miami-Dade Elections Department, mostly for lack of signatures or review of signatures from the last election.
The first phantom absentee ballot request hit the Miami-Dade elections website at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, July 7.
The next one came at 9:14. Then 9:17. 9:22. 9:24. 9:25.
Within 2½ weeks, 2,552 online requests arrived from voters who had not applied for absentee ballots. They streamed in much too quickly for real people to be filling them out. They originated from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses. And they were not random.
It had all the appearances of a political dirty trick, a high-tech effort by an unknown hacker to sway three key Aug. 14 primary elections, a Miami Herald investigation has found.
The plot failed. The elections department’s software flagged the requests as suspicious. The ballots weren’t sent out.
But who was behind it? And next time, would a more skilled hacker be able to rig an election?
Six months and a grand-jury probe later, there still are few answers about the phantom requests, which targeted Democratic voters in a congressional district and Republican voters in two Florida House districts.
The foreman of that grand jury, whose report made public the existence of the phantom requests, said jurors were eager to learn if a candidate or political consultant had succeeded in manipulating the voting system. But they didn’t get any answers.
“We were like, ‘Why didn’t anyone do something about it?’ ” foreman Jeffrey Pankey said.
The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office could not find the hacker because most of his or her actions were masked by foreign IP addresses. But at least some of the ballot requests originated in Miami and could have been further traced, The Herald found.
Prosecutors did not obtain that information as part of their initial inquiry, due to a miscommunication with the elections department.
On Friday, a day after The Miami Herald brought the domestic IP addresses to its attention, the office of State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said it is reviewing them.
Under state election laws, only voters, their immediate family members or their legal guardians can submit absentee-ballot requests. Violations may be considered felony fraud.
The thwarted attempt targeted voters in three districts: Democrats in Congressional District 26, where four candidates — including a suspected ringer criminally charged Friday with federal elections violations — were vying to take on vulnerable Republican Rep. David Rivera; and Republicans in Florida House districts 103 and 112, two competitive seats.
Nine candidates were involved in the campaigns: Joe Garcia, Gustavo Marin, Gloria Romero Roses and Justin Lamar Sternad in District 26; Manny Diaz Jr., Renier Diaz de la Portilla and Alfredo Naredo-Acosta in District 103; and Gus Barreiro and Alex Diaz de la Portilla in District 112.
Garcia, Diaz and Alex Diaz de la Portilla won their primary races, all by comfortable margins. In the end, the phantom absentee ballots would not have changed the results.
But there was no way to know that at the time. And the ballots would have brought more voters into the light-turnout election. The phantom requests targeted infrequent voters who had not applied for absentees, most of whom wound up not voting in the primary at all.
Only candidates, political parties and committees have access during an election to lists updated daily showing which voters have already requested and returned absentee ballots.
Garcia, Marin, Romero Roses, Diaz and Barreiro denied any involvement with the phantom-requests scheme.
So did Renier Diaz de la Portilla and a key consultant for his brother Alex, who declined to comment.
Naredo-Acosta, who did not visibly campaign, could not be reached. And Sternad, who pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he lied on his federal campaign reports, declined to comment through his attorney, Rick Yabor.
There are links among some of the candidates who ran in different districts.
Sternad hired as his campaign manager Ana Sol Alliegro — an old flame of Alex Diaz de la Portilla who supported him in his race last year, according to rival Barreiro. Renier Diaz de la Portilla hired his brother to run his campaign, and both shared several political consultants.
But the family had nothing to do with phantom requests, Renier Diaz de la Portilla said.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
He was echoed by Elnatan Rudolph, head of the New Jersey-based Cornerstone Management Partners, a key political consultant for both Diaz de la Portillas.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me why someone would do that, because you’d still need the person to [vote for you],” he said.
Had the requests been filled, short of stealing the ballots from mailboxes, the campaigns would have been able to flood the targeted voters with phone calls, fliers and home visits to try to sway their vote.
Persuade enough of them, and you might flip the race.
The hacker adjusts
When the phantom requests were initially flagged, elections staff telephoned a dozen of the targeted voters to check whether they had really asked for absentee ballots. They hadn’t, said Rosy Pastrana, the deputy elections supervisor for voter services.
Lynn Sargent, 23, said she received an email July 8 confirming her absentee-ballot request — even though she had never submitted one.
“I was definitely concerned when I got it,” said Sargent, a Miami-Dade native who had recently moved to Connecticut. But the ballot never arrived, and she voted in her new state.
Once the department knew the requests were phony, it blocked the 15 IP addresses from which they originated. It took several tries — the hacker simply switched to a different address — before the requests stopped.
“Every time we saw that pattern, we would block the IP,” said Bob Vinock, an assistant deputy elections supervisor for information systems. “I guess they finally gave up.”
Then came the hardest part: trying to figure out who did it.
Pastrana, the deputy elections supervisor, sent a letter outlining the local findings and a list of 12 foreign IP addresses to the state attorney’s office on Aug. 8, records show.
On Aug. 21, Thomas Haggerty, a prosecutor in the cyber crimes unit, noted that the IP addresses were foreign, registered in India and the United Kingdom.
“The person requesting these ballots is obviously using a software/service/proxy servers to mask their true IP address,” Haggerty wrote in an email to Johnette Hardiman, the prosecutor leading the review. “These are probably a dead end.”
In December, as the state attorney’s office prepared its grand-jury report on absentee ballots, prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen, who was not involved with the August inquiry, got back in touch with elections. It wasn’t until then — four months later — that elections IT staffers realized Pastrana had never sent the state attorney’s office three additional IP addresses, corresponding with the very first phantom requests from early July.
All three addresses were domestic — at least two of them in Miami, a quick search of online IP addresses shows. The location of the third U.S. address is unclear.
The delay in providing the addresses to prosecutors was an oversight, Vinock said. On Dec. 12, he emailed the addresses to VanderGiesen. But they appear to have been lost in the shuffle.
A month later, on Jan. 15, Jose Arrojo, head of the public corruption unit at the state attorney’s office, signed off on Hardiman’s four-paragraph memo closing the phantom-request inquiry . It contained no reference to domestic IP addresses.
The domestic IP addresses are now being examined, Ed Griffith, a state attorney’s office spokesman, said Friday.
Armed with the complete information, prosecutors can now follow up, using their subpoena power to obtain the users’ physical addresses from Internet service providers.
With the locations in hand, they might then be able to identify the hacker’s residence or business, or the public place, such as a library or Starbucks, that he or she used to take advantage of wireless Internet, said Steven Rambam, a New York-based private investigator with extensive experience in computer database and privacy issues. There, prosecutors could try to obtain surveillance video to identify the person online at the time the ballot requests came in.
“If it’s McDonald’s, McDonald’s routinely has video of their entire premises, inside and out,” said Rambam, who reviewed the IP address origins for The Miami Herald.
Even the foreign IP addresses were worth checking out, he added.
“I’ve picked up the phone as a private investigator doing these investigations and spoken to the security-and-abuse departments at the Internet service providers and gotten cooperation,” Rambam said .
The elections department also sent prosecutors a map of the voters targeted by the phantom requests. Though the department didn’t draw any conclusions from the map, it clearly illustrates that the voters were in three specific districts.
The Jan. 15 “close-out” memo makes no mention of the map, or of prosecutors following up with any political campaigns. “The map provided us with little useful information in tracking down the source of the computer attacks,” Griffith said.
The map showed that the first requests — the ones that originated from at least two Miami-area IP addresses on July 7 and 8 — targeted Miami-Dade voters in Congressional District 26, which stretches from Kendall to Key West. A little more than a week later, on July 16, the requests resumed — this time from foreign IP addresses — for voters in Florida House districts 103 and 112. They stopped on July 24.
District 103 extends from Doral to Miramar; District 112 from Little Havana to Key Biscayne.
The Herald analysis showed that, in the congressional district, 466 of 472 requests targeted Democrats. In House District 103, 864 of 871 requests targeted Republicans, as did 1,184 of 1,191 requests in House District 112.
Requests came in twice for nearly 500 voters, and three times for seven of them. The elections department doesn’t consider multiple requests suspicious, because voters are allowed to submit two ballot requests per election, in case the first ballot gets lost, for example.
Only a smattering of the total 2,046 voters were registered outside the three districts.
What alerted the elections department to trouble was how quickly the requests rolled in from the same IP addresses.
Jane Watson, president of Tallahassee-based VR Systems, which provides elections software to Miami-Dade and 52 other Florida counties, said the software flags suspicious activity, such as when five or more requests originate from a single IP address.
There are other safeguards, too. When a voter submits an absentee request online, Miami-Dade doesn’t automatically send a ballot. The request is reviewed by an elections department staffer, who must manually sign off on sending it.
The online ballot-request form requires voter information available on a public database of registered voters. It also asks for an email address — which doesn’t have to be real.
Most of the email addresses on the phantom requests were formulaic and clearly fake — the voter’s first name at AOL, Gmail or Yahoo, for example — but the email addresses on at least some of the early requests were accurate. That is significant, because while those addresses are not publicly available from the voter file, political campaigns routinely compile email addresses through other sources.
To submit an online ballot request, the voter must verify a series of skewed letters and numbers — an extra step intended to make automated requests more difficult.
“That’s a barrier, but I’m told that for someone who’s sophisticated enough as a programmer, they can get over that hurdle,” Watson acknowledged.
In the past, Watson said her company has brought in online security experts from Florida State University to test the software and look for loopholes.
But neither the county nor the software vendor have changed their programs or policies since the August primary, Watson and the elections department said. The reason: The existing procedures worked, they said. The phantom requests were caught.
No special skills
Creating a computer program to automatically fill online ballot requests using voter information is not difficult, said Rambam, the private investigator. Pre-written programs, known as scripts, are available online and easy for amateur hackers to modify.
With a little more skill, the hacker behind the phantom requests could have included computer code to keep the program from triggering the elections department’s safeguard, Rambam said.
Once the program has been set up, purposely obscuring its origins through foreign IP addresses is also inexpensive, he added.
“And that, of course, is the most frightening thing: that any moderately or even marginally skilled programmer could have done this,’’ Rambam said.
That’s why the grand jury recommended requiring at least a login and password for voters to submit absentee ballot requests, said Pankey, the group’s foreman. It was one of 23 recommendations proposed by the grand jury, convened after Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina, two Hialeah absentee ballot brokers, known as boleteros, were arrested shortly before the primary last August and charged with voter fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty.
No county official has followed up on the online security recommendation, which, unlike other grand-jury proposals, could be addressed locally, Pankey said Friday.
“You can’t go to your bank account — you can’t go to anything that is secured — without putting in at least a name and a password,” he said.
“Why should the elections be any different?”
Isay……this article needs to be read by all who would like to get control of the government back. The 17th amendment has been a pet peeve of mine for years…and I am glad others are also taking notice…what this amendment has done is allow people like Pelosi and Reed…to make laws that affect you! We actually have no control over them…and our Senators are “forced” to respond….to keep the damage or affects from doing to much damage. This is Legislation….without Representation!
Repeal of the 17th Amendment, elimination of the Federal Reserve and Income Tax sounds like a good start to me.
Excerpt: 1913 would rank as an unlucky year if all that had happened was Wilson’s ascendancy to the presidency. Three things he helped give us that year, however, make it unforgettable in the most pejorative sense: the income tax, the direct election of U.S. senators, and the Federal Reserve System.
On February 3, a month before Wilson took office, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Strongly supported by Wilson, it authorized the federal government to impose and collect a tax on personal incomes. Subsequent legislation set the top rate at a mere 7 percent. Married couples were only taxed on income over $4,000 (about $90,000 in today’s dollars). When Wilson left office eight years later, the top rate was more than ten times higher.
The income tax granted politicians…
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