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Posts tagged ‘Boston’

Power Plant Attack Sparks Terror Fears in Three Other Incidents.


A recent report about the terrifying attack on a California power plant last April has raised suspicions about other troubling cases throughout the United States within the past year, Newsmax has learned.

Consider:

  • On Jan. 9, more than 7,000 gallons of methanol leaked into Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., after a spill at a chemical storage plant operated by Freedom Industries. Nearly 300,000 people were left without drinking or bathing water, some for more than a week. A federal grand jury investigation has begun into the spill, CNN reports.
  • The following week, in Manapalan, N.J., a 26-year-old man, Asaf Mohammed, was arrested after being found trapped inside a 20-inch pipe outside a storage tank at a water-treatment plant owned by United Water. The plant supplies drinking water to 40,000 customers in the township, New Jersey.com reports.
  • Within a month after the Boston Marathon bombings last April, seven Muslims — from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore — were arrested in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir, which provides drinking water to Boston and several other nearby communities, the Boston Herald reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

The incidents, two of which received scant media attention at the time, now have authorities and legislators worried about the possibility of terrorist acts’ being committed against the nation’s power grid and other utility operations.

Those attack reports follow a report by The Wall Street Journal that a sniper assault last April 16, a day after the Boston bombings, knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose, Calif. No arrests have been made in that attack.

“It does seem that we have to be awakened by a cataclysmic event before we pay attention,” retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West told John Bachman in an exclusive interview Wednesday on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV.

“We have a porous, open border,” said West, a former Florida GOP congressman. “You have some bad actors coming across, but it’s not just that dry-run attack against a power plant. There are also a couple of instances, in [West] Virginia and also in the Boston area, where water-supply plants, people were trying to infiltrate there as well.”

In an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV on Wednesday, counterterrorism expert Fred Fleitz called the California assault “a trial run for a terrorist attack.”

Fleitz is a former CIA analyst and FBI agent who is now chief analyst for the global intelligence forecaster LIGNET.

“What Americans don’t realize is that we now have something called a smart-grid system, where our electric grid is linked to other grids over the Internet and by computers,” he said. “A major attack on one part of the grid could cause a devastating outage that could put tens of millions of Americans in the dark.”

The 52-minute attack in California occurred at the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s power substation in Metcalf, a community in southern San Jose.

Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, said the assault was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

He told The Journal that the incident may have been a dress rehearsal for a bigger attack.

The FBI said that it was “continuing to sift through the evidence” but that it did not think a terrorist group was behind the incident, The Journal reports.

The attack began at 12:58 a.m., when underground AT&T fiber-optic telecommunications cables were slashed in a vault not far from the Metcalf facility.

Other cables were also cut. At 1:31 a.m., the facility, situated near a freeway, came under sustained rifle fire. AK-47 bullet casings found later had been wiped clean of fingerprints.

The shooters were apparently aiming for the oil-filled cooling systems intended to keep the transformers from overheating, The Journal reported. Though they were riddled with bullet holes and hemorrhaged 52,000 gallons of oil, the transformers did not explode.

The attackers had left the scene by the time sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Seventeen huge power transformers had been disabled. Company officials initially declared the incident vandalism. Cameras were positioned facing inward and did not pick up images of the shooters.

Upon further investigation, it looked more like the handiwork of professionals who had done advance preparation and reconnaissance, The Journal reported.

The substation was brought back online after 27 days as other power plants increased their production of electricity to make up for the loss.

“The FBI is still not prepared to say that this was a terrorist attack, even though this power station was attacked with AK47s,” Fleitz told Malzberg.

“There was a systematic plan to cut the phone lines, the fiber-optic cables in a way that couldn’t be detected or easily repaired.”

Meanwhile, the two women and five men that Massachusetts state troopers found in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir in Boston last May after the marathon bombings said they were all chemical engineers who simply wanted to check out the facility, the Examiner reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

No charges were ever filed against the trespassers — even though the Massachusetts State Police unsuccessfully appealed the decision.

The names of the “chemical engineers” were never released to the public, the Boston Herald reports, and their whereabouts are currently unknown.

According to New Jersey.com, a United Water official said Mohammed was discovered by employees Jan. 17 after they “heard cries for help” inside the 20-inch pipe.

“He must have traversed through a basin and climbed up into a pipe for reasons unknown at this time,” Jim Mastrokalos, the company’s director of operations, told the news website.

The plant is surrounded by barbed wire fences, and the investigation involved determining how Mohammed gained access to the plant without detection.

Mohammed, who police said lived neared the plant, was charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass and was required to pay for the costs of rescuing him from the pipe, local news website 12 New Jersey reports.

In West Virginia, CNN reports, subpoenas have been issued requiring testimony for what one federal official confirmed was a criminal investigation into the chemical spill at the Freedom Industries storage plant.

An independent water test conducted for CNN this week found trace levels of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, in both untreated river water and tap water from two homes in Charleston.

Elizabeth Scharman, West Virginia’s poison control director, told CNN that MCHM has not been widely studied.

“We don’t know the safety info, how quickly it goes into air, its boiling point,” Scharman said.

The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market to reduce ash, CNN reports. Exposure can cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and irritated skin, among other symptoms.

West, the former Florida congressman, told Newsmax that these attempts were “all part of asymmetrical warfare, and if we don’t start to recognize it and put a focus on it, the enemy is always going to look for the gaps by which they can exploit you.”

Related Stories:

 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

CVS Caremark Plans to Stop Tobacco Product Sales.


CVS Caremark is kicking the habit of selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide as it focuses more on providing health care.

The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1, a move that will cost about $2 billion in annual revenue but won’t affect its 2014 earnings forecast. CVS Caremark leaders say removing tobacco will help them grow the company’s business of working with doctors, hospitals and other care providers to improve customers’ health.

CVS Caremark Corp. and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores for several years now. Their pharmacists deliver flu shots and other immunizations, and those clinics also have been expanding the care they deliver. They now help people manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.

CEO Larry Merlo noted that conditions like those are made worse by smoking.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered,” he said.

The company declined to say what will take tobacco’s prominent shelf place behind cash registers at the front of its stores. CVS Caremark will test some items and may expand smoking cessation products that are already sold near cigarettes.

CVS Caremark has been working to team up with hospital groups and doctor practices to help deliver and monitor patient care, and the presence of tobacco in its stores has made for some awkward conversations, CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen A. Brennan said.

“One of the first questions they ask us is, ‘Well, if you’re going to be part of the health care system, how can you continue to sell tobacco products?’” he said. “There’s really no good answer to that at all.”

The company’s announcement drew praise from President Obama, who said in a statement that he applauded the news.

“As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today’s decision will help advance my Administration’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs – ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come,” the president said.

CVS Caremark competitor Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain, sells tobacco, as does the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which also operates pharmacies in its stores. But Target Corp., another major retailer with pharmacies in its stores, does not.

Most independent pharmacies also do not sell tobacco, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Several cities, including San Francisco and Boston, have considered or passed bans on tobacco sales in stores with pharmacies. Other places like New York City have sought to curb retail displays and promotions and raise the legal age someone can buy tobacco products.

On the flip side, discounters such as Family Dollar have started selling tobacco over the last couple years. They note that smokers make more frequent stops at retailers, and their customers are more likely to be tobacco users.

U.S. retail sales of tobacco, which is comprised largely of cigarettes, were about $107.7 billion in 2012, according to market researcher Euromonitor International. Less than 4 percent of retail cigarette sales come from drugstores like CVS and Walgreens.

The share of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically since 1970, from nearly 40 percent to about 18 percent. But the rate has stalled since about 2004, with about 44 million adults in the U.S. smoking cigarettes. It’s unclear why it hasn’t budged, but some market watchers have cited tobacco company discount coupons on cigarettes and a lack of funding for programs to discourage smoking or to help smokers quit.

Tobacco companies also have increasingly relied on their packaging and displays at retailers to build brand loyalty and grab consumers because it is one of the few advertising levers left to them after the government curbed their presence in magazines, billboards and TV.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Poll Reveals Most (and Least) Bible-Minded Cities in US.


 

Bible study
American Bible Society’s study of America’s most Bible-minded cities found that, while the Bible Belt continues to perform strongly, East Coast cities continue to bring up the rear. (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

When it comes to U.S. cities that embrace the Bible, Tennessee still has bragging rights. The latest release ranking from American Bible Society finds Chattanooga, Tenn., is America’s most Bible-minded city. Chattanooga takes over the No. 1 ranking from Knoxville, Tenn., which claimed the top spot in 2012.

American Bible Society’s study of America’s most Bible-minded cities found that, while the Bible Belt continues to perform strongly, East Coast cities continue to bring up the rear. While ranked No. 1 in Bible mindedness, Chattanooga ranks 87th in population size. Just one of the top 10 Bible-minded cities ranks in the top 25 cities by population size. Charlotte, N.C., America’s sixth most Bible-minded city is the 25th most populous city.

This marks the second annual survey conducted by American Bible Society based on city-specific data collected by Barna Group. For the second year, a closer look at the findings indicates an inverse relationship between population density and Bible friendliness. Of the top 25 Bible-minded markets, only three have a population of greater than 1 million households: Charlotte; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas.

Most Bible-Minded Cities (with previous year’s ranking)

  1.  Chattanooga, Tenn. (3)
  2.  Birmingham, Ala. (4)
  3.  Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va. (8)
  4.  Springfield, Mo. (6)
  5.  Shreveport, La. (2)
  6.  Charlotte, N.C. (7)
  7.  Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C. (11)
  8.  Little Rock, Ark. (12)
  9.  Jackson, Miss. (5)
  10. Knoxville, Tenn. (1)

Least Bible-Minded Cities (with previous year’s ranking)

  1. Providence, R.I./ New Bedford, Mass. (1)
  2. Albany, N.Y.(2)
  3. Boston, Mass. (6)
  4. San Francisco (7)
  5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa (9)
  6. Buffalo, N.Y (10)
  7. Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (5)
  8. Phoenix, Ariz. (8)
  9. Burlington, Vt. (3)
  10. Portland, Maine (4)

The study analyzes the Bible mindedness of the top 100 cities by population across the U.S. Bible mindedness is calculated based on combined levels of regular Bible reading and residents’ belief in the Bible’s accuracy. To view the full list of city rankings, follow this link.

“An analysis of interaction with and views of the Bible continues to help us evaluate the Bible landscape in America,” said Geoffrey Morin, chief communications officer at American Bible Society. “To help people engage with the best-selling book of all time’s life-changing message, we need to understand where people are starting from. But ultimately, we want people to know whether you live in one of the most or least Bible-minded cities, the Bible can speak to your needs, challenges and concerns, and help you make sense of life.”

The data reported is based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 46,274 adults conducted over a seven-year period, ending in August 2013. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as “Bible Minded.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE

Soyinka Warns Of Political Shipwreck As APC Leaders Court Obasanjo, Others.


 

APC leaders with former President Olusegun Obasanjo
By Saharareporters, New York

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has warned that Nigeria might be headed for a shipwreck as top officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo to court his support.

In a statement titled “SHIPWRECK AHEAD!” Mr. Soyinka warned that Nigeria would need urgent rescue operations if the APC wants to invite people like Mr. Obasanjo to serve as a navigator for the ship of state.

Part of Mr. Soyinka’s short statement read: “An APC-led group, we understand, has been paying courtesy visits to former Heads of States.” Then he asked: “Would it be correct to state that their purpose is captured in the following Mission Statement? ‘Tinubu added that the APC had resolved to rescue Nigeria, appealing to Obasanjo to lead the mission. We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria. We want you as navigator,’ he said.”

Mr. Soyinka, who is one of the strongest critics of former President Obasanjo, then added: “If this attribution is correct, may I urge you, as an urgent public service, to advise families to begin the stockpiling of life-belts for the guaranteed crash. Don’t forget to alert the coastguards—ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), AU (African Union), UNO (United Nations Organization) etc etc—to be on the alert for possible salvage operations.

Nigeria’s foremost living writer then wondered, “If General Sani Abacha were alive today, would he also have been on the ship’s complement? As Captain perhaps?”

Mr. Obasanjo recently wrote a public letter criticizing President Goodluck Jonathan of deception and dishonesty, adding that the incumbent president was reneging on a commitment not to seek a third term in office. The former president’s Boston, Massachusetts-based first daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo, then wrote her own public letter to him, accusing her father of being a liar, hypocrite, megalomaniac and narcissist.

Iyabo Obasanjo Refuses To Deny Authorship Of Letter To Her Father.


Iyabo Obasanjo
By Saharareporters, New York

SaharaReporters has learned that former Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, the first daughter of President Olusegun Obasanjo, has refused to denounce or deny her authorship of a blistering letter in which she characterized her father, among other unflattering epithets, as a liar, hypocrite, manipulator and opportunist. A source close to Mr. Obasanjo told our correspondent that Ms. Obasanjo had so far defied pressures from friends and family to state that she was not the writer of the letter or that she did not share the views expressed in it.

SaharaReporters also discovered that Ms. Obasanjo, who currently resides in the State of Massachusetts, has refused to take phone calls from the press. Instead, she has only accepted calls from a select few people whose caller IDs she knows, according to a friend knowledgeable about her movement today.

The friend also disclosed that Ms. Obasanjo had virtually stopped taking calls on her cell phone, except from members of a small inner circle. Part of her plan was to thwart relatives and friends of her father who had been sent on a mission to convince her to dissociate herself from the content of the explosive letter in order to save her father’s image. Our source revealed that the former senator’s cell phone rang incessantly all day yesterday, but was hardly answered. Our correspondent ascertained that Ms. Obasanjo’s voice message box was full, making it impossible for callers to leave her any messages.

Since the letter was published yesterday, several blogs have claimed that Ms. Obasanjo had denied writing it, an assertion that SaharaReporters determined to be completely false.

Several sources at Vanguard newspaper told SaharaReporters that former President Obasanjo’s daughter spoke twice yesterday with editors of the paper and stood by her letter. One source added that the former senator also agreed to let the paper release a tape of her confirmation should the need arise.

Late yesterday, SaharaReporters contacted the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative where Ms. Obasanjo is a fellow. Speaking to our reporter, John Kendzior, a director of the program, confirmed that Ms. Obasanjo was in Boston and enrolled in the program. He asked our correspondent to send an email to be forwarded to her for response. However, Ms. Obasanjo did not respond to an email we sent via the director. Nor did she respond to several text messages to her mobile phone.

The fallout between Mr. Obasanjo and his daughter is the latest in a long-running feud between the former president and several members of his immediate family. Several years ago, Gbenga, Mr. Obasanjo’s first son, made shocking claims in a divorce filing to the effect that his father slept with his estranged wife. The former president’s first wife, Oluremi Obasanjo, who is the mother of both Iyabo and Gbenga, also wrote a scathing tell-all memoir titled Bitter-Sweet: My Life With Obasanjo. In the book, Mrs. Obasanjo accused her former husband of physical and emotional assaults as well as philandering.

Former President Obasanjo has come under sharp attacks from aides of President Goodluck Jonathan after the former wrote an open letter accused Mr. Jonathan of deception, encouragement of corruption, and the undermining of Nigeria’s democracy.

Tsarnaev Heard Voices that May Have Motivated Boston Attack.


Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the eldest brother of the two Boston Bombers, heard a voice in his head that told him what to do and could have been a motivating factor in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack.

According to an extensive investigation by The Boston Globe into the Tsarnaev family, it may have been this voice that led to the terror attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, not jihadist revolutionaries.

“He was torn between those two people,” Donald Larking, a 67 year-old man who attended mosque with Tamerlan, told the Globe. “He said that several times. And he did not like it.”

The voice offers an alternative theory to “the claim by Russian security officials that Tamerlan made contact with or was recruited by Islamist radicals during his visit to his family homeland,” the Globe reported.

Tamerlan told his mother that it made him feel like there were “two people inside of me.”

The voice, which started when he was a young man, grew increasingly more authoritative over the years, according to the newspaper’s investigation. He told a friend that it gave him orders, bidding him to do specific acts, but he did not disclose what they were.

Tamerlan was 26 at the time of the marathon bombing and allegedly organized the attack with his brother, Dzhokhar. Tamerlan was killed on April 19 during a gunfight with police.

Dzhokhar was wounded but survived the police fight and has been indicted on 30 counts for killing three people and wounding at least 260 others with the pressure cooker bombs that he and his brother allegedly made and detonated at the marathon finish line.

The eldest brother traveled to the Russian state of Dagestan, where he stayed for six months in 2012. It was reported that he may have tried to join a rebel Muslim group while he was there. However, investigators have said that they have not found evidence showing that the group was giving the two brothers instructions on the attack.

Dzhokhar claimed while he was in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds that they were motivated by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Courtney Coren

In Reversal, Obama Admits He Knew His Uncle.


President Barack Obama has admitted he lived with his Kenyan uncle in the 1980s — an embarrassing flip-flop from an earlier White House claim that the two had never met.

The commander-in-chief revealed on Thursday that he had stayed at the Cambridge, Mass., apartment of Onyango Obama as he prepared to attend Harvard Law School.

That contradicted a statement issued by the White House last year that there was no record of the two ever meeting, The Boston Globe reports.

The president’s relationship with his uncle came under scrutiny on Tuesday at a deportation hearing in Boston for Onyango Obama.

He has lived illegally in the United States for more than 40 years.

During the hearing Onyango testified that the future president had stayed with him for about three weeks before beginning his time at Harvard.

A White House official now says that the president’s relationship with his uncle had not been exhaustively researched, nor had he been asked directly.

“The President first met Omar [Onyango] Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school. The President did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

“After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The President has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10.”

The White House also says the president did not interfere with the immigration case.

Onyango is the second relative of Barack Obama’s father to face deportation. Zeituni Onyango won asylum after it was discovered she was living illegally in a Boston housing project.

Onyango, 69, who works as a liquor store manager in Framingham, was granted legal residency following the Tuesday hearing.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Bill Hoffmann

Harvard Poll: US Youth Unhappy with Obama’s Job Performance.


Image: Harvard Poll: US Youth Unhappy with Obama's Job Performance(Harvard University Institute of Politics)

Young Americans are unhappy with virtually every major thing President Barack Obama has done since he was re-elected, but they would still vote for him today, according to the results of a Harvard University survey released on Wednesday.The national poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics of more than 2,000 people aged 18 through 29 is intended to provide insight into the political views of the youngest U.S. voters, an increasingly influential demographic known as the “millennial generation.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Story continues below video.

More than 50 percent of respondents in the survey, taken between Oct. 30 and Nov. 11, said they disapproved of how Obama handled key issues in his second term, including Syria, Iran, the economy, healthcare and the federal budget deficit.

But a plurality of respondents, 46 percent, said they would still vote for him for president if they could recast their 2012 ballots, compared with 35 percent who said they would vote for the then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Some 55 percent of the survey respondents who reported casting ballots in the 2012 presidential election said they had voted for Obama, compared with 33 percent for Romney.

The results follow a separate CNN/ORC poll released on Nov. 25 that showed a growing number of Americans doubted Obama’s ability to manage the nation, amid ongoing problems plaguing the president’s signature domestic policy achievement, the healthcare reform law widely known as Obamacare.

Obama’s administration has also come under fire from critics at home and abroad who claim it is dealing poorly with the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons and Iran over its nuclear ambitions. They also say the administration has failed to rein in U.S. public spending or revive the economy.

Some 57 percent of respondents in the Harvard poll said they disapprove of Obamacare, with 40 percent expecting the quality of health care to worsen and about half expecting health care costs to rise.

The Harvard survey respondents spread out the blame for Washington’s shortcomings beyond Obama and the Democratic party. In terms of job performance, 54 percent said they disapproved of the president, 59 percent disapproved of Democrats in Congress, and a whopping 75 percent disapproved of Republicans in Congress.

Conservative U.S. Republicans took a hard line in the fight over October’s U.S. government shutdown, which was waged over the party’s demands to stop the launch of Obamacare. But delays in pay to some public workers, closings of national parks and reductions in public services only deepened Americans’ frustration.

Asked which proposals they would prefer to see enacted to cut the federal deficit, respondents tended to favor increasing taxes for the wealthy and cutting certain types of military spending – including on the nuclear arsenal and the size of the Navy fleet.

More than 70 percent also said they would prefer not to see any cuts to education spending on kindergarten through high school, the poll showed.

In a sign of ambivalence over the role of Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency, in unveiling details of the U.S. spying program, 52 percent of survey respondents said they were not sure if he was a traitor or a patriot.

Some 22 percent labeled him a traitor and an equal 22 percent labeled him a patriot.

Snowden is living in Russia as a fugitive after President Vladimir Putin granted him asylum against Washington’s wishes.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Sebelius to Skip Obamacare Hearing to Attend Gala.


Image: Sebelius to Skip Obamacare Hearing to Attend Gala

By Audrey Hudson

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will not testify at a congressional hearing investigating glitches in the rollout of Obamacare‘s $800 million website but will instead attend a gala at the Kennedy presidential library in Boston.

CNN reported the scheduling conflict while reporting a story that the Obamacare website would go offline this weekend for maintenance.

The gala at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston Wednesday night will honor progress made in helping individuals with mental illness.

“She’ll be in Boston at a gala but unable to testify on the Obamacare rollout in Washington the next day,” the CNN anchor said.

Fox News reports that pressure is mounting on Sebelius to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the numerous problems plaguing the system since its Oct. 1 launch.

The Associated Press reports that less than 500,000 people have been able to register on the site, although the actual number of those able to obtain insurance is still unknown.

Registration has been hampered by the system’s failure to log accurate information, and the website repeatedly crashes because it wasn’t designed to handle heavy traffic loads.

Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the panel’s chairman, criticized Sebelius for refusing to appear, and questioned her scheduling priorities including an appearance last week on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to promote the flawed website.

“Secretary Sebelius had time for Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress,” Upton said.
Related:

Obama to Advisers: No Excuses for Rocky Obamacare Rollout

GOP Girds Loins for Testy Obamacare Hearings

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Shutdown Enables Fresh Scrutiny of Govt Services.


The government “shutdown” is starting to feel a lot like the sequester — a lot of alarmist warnings that the sky is going to fall, followed by business pretty much as usual.
That’s not to minimize the genuine inconvenience or worse for those government employees who have been furloughed, or for cancer patients involved in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health, an institution that House Republicans voted to fund but that Senate Democrats are holding hostage.
But for most of the rest of us, it turns out that the government can “shut down” and life goes on pretty much the same as it did before. Now there’s a valuable insight that it’s almost worth having the government shut down to discover.
As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York has reported, only about 17 percent of the government is actually shut down, as measured by expenditures. So it’s not a full shutdown as much as a slimdown or a partial shutdown.
But even so, the shutdown elements that are attracting much of the news attention turn out to be fairly easily replaceable.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics failed to issue its employment report for the month of September. But NPR managed to come up with five alternative measures, including the ADP payroll report, state data on unemployment claims, the PNC Financial Services Group’s Autumn Outlook Survey, and a report by an outplacement company about planned layoffs.
The New York Times had an article about how tourists in Boston were upset that Faneuil Hall, which is run by the National Park Service, was closed. The Times did not mention that a short walk away, other sites on the Freedom Trail of historic Revolution-era Boston, like the Old State House (run by the private Bostonian Society) and the Old South Meeting House (run by the private Old South Association) remained open.
No wonder the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist tweeted, “It may be time to discuss how many federal gov parks could be handed over to states that are more competent to run them. Or privatized.”
Government Shutdown Negatively Impacts Students’ Ability to Conduct Research,” was the headline over a news article in the Harvard Crimson. One student complained that “The panda cam at the D.C. Zoo is shut down, and watching the panda cam is a good study break.” Word apparently had not reached Cambridge about the panda cams still up and running at the zoos in Atlanta, San Diego, and Memphis.
Another Harvard student complained, “The Library of Congress website has been down, and that has impacted my research for my thesis . . . It’s stalling my project.” In fact the Library of Congress Website appears to be up, but if it isn’t, the websites of the New York Public Library and Harvard’s own Widener library, both with collections nearly as vast, remain online.
If there’s an upside to this shutdown, it is the opportunity it provides to take federal government services that are assumed to be necessary and put them under new scrutiny. Can we do without them? Are these things that can be done better, or as well, by state or local government or by the private sector, either for-profit or not-for-profit?
These are questions that are asked too little in Washington and in the rest of the country in normal times. Part of the eagerness in Washington for a swift end to the shutdown stems from the fear that Americans might conclude that they can get along OK without the 17 percent of government that is closed.
Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and of Smartertimes.com. Read more reports from Ira Stoll — Click Here Now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Ira Stoll

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