Thursday, May 1, 2014

Letter We Recieved From Pablo Kleinman

Skaz --
Kerry
I was outraged this week to hear the explosive audio of our Secretary of State equating Israel’s struggle against terrorism to South Africa’s apartheid – and on the very day that people around the world paused for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Besides being offensive to the very real struggles South African blacks had to garner their freedoms, Kerry’s comments suggest a troubling policy coming from the Democratic Party and an adherence to a false, anti-Semitic and delegitimizing discourse promoted by the international far-left.

Kerry, after all, was the Democratic nominee for President recently. At the last Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, we saw many of the same anti-Israel tactics. The Democrats may not realize it but one-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arab and enjoy more democratic rights and freedoms than in any Arab state. Palestinian leaders, however, insist that no Jews will be allowed to settle in “Palestine.”

Israel’s struggle against hatred and terrorism is a real struggle that deserves both political parties’ support.

If you agree that it’s time to send a message to the Democrats in Congress that Israel deserves our vocal support, and not just during election season, then join me in my fight to send a new generation of leaders to Washington - please consider making a contribution to my campaign today. With your support, I can be the voice of reform in Congress. You can contribute by clicking here.
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Pablo Kleinman

For more info on Pablo go to: http://www.voteforpablo.com/



Friday, April 11, 2014

Could bitcoin ever overtake the dollar?

Bitcoin’s future as a digital alternative to paper money is a subject of fierce debate, but the cryptocurrency may also have a future as the basis for a global payment system.
Bitcoin’s role as a system of payment was a topic that came up frequently at a MarketWatch Investing Insights event titled “Bitcoin: boom and bust,” held recently in New York.
“The volatility of Bitcoin, the high volatility, is actually very disruptive and it’s a distraction from really the purpose and the payment system that could happen,” said panelist Mark T. Williams, a banking and risk management expert and professor at the Boston UniversitySchool of Management.

Why don't more people pay with bitcoin?

Bitcoin has made inroads with some merchants, but the ability for consumers to pay with this digital currency is still limited. At a recent MarketWatch event, experts explain why broader consumer adoption may require major changes.
Panelist and investor Barry Silbert, the founder and CEO of SecondMarket and founder of Bitcoin Investment Trust, told the audience it’s difficult to separate bitcoin’s potential role as a payment system from its potential role as an alternative currency. He described the outlook for bitcoin as an all-or-nothing scenario.
“It is either going to become this global currency, this global store of value, this global remittance platform, this global payment system, this global money transfer network, or it’s not,” he said.
Williams, in fact, offered up one of the more lasting images of the night, likening bitcoin the currency to a locomotive while the payment system beneath it serves as the railroad tracks.
“So both the locomotive, the currency itself, and the track, the payment system, meet each other. They can’t be separated,” Williams said.
The anonymity afforded by bitcoin is one of its big selling points. But it also offers a downside in the potential for theft.
As a result, services will soon be layered on top of payment products that will ensure users have recourse if, say, a merchant doesn’t send the goods that a customer has purchased, Silbert said. That’s going to add some costs, Silbert said, but the plus side is that users won’t have to rely on the existing infrastructure.
“Remittance is going to get completely disrupted ... You can now send money anywhere in the world instantaneously,” Silbert said. “The payments base is going to get disrupted. The movement of money is going to get disrupted. But there will be incremental costs that don’t exist today in a well-regulated infrastructure that’s being built.”
Silbert also sees a shift in how merchants view bitcoin, with initial skepticism being eroded by the ability to insulate themselves from exchange risk.
“And so essentially if you decide to sell a widget using BitPay and you sell the widget for $100, in Bitcoin you get $100. And so it doesn’t matter what the price does the next minute or the next hour. So if you eliminate that risk, it dramatically reduces the cost for the merchant from credit card fees and it opens them up to a much broader group of potential consumers around the world who don’t have credit cards or PayPal accounts,” Silbert said.
“So from a merchant, it’s going to become a no-brainer ... They will accept Bitcoin and they will either take all cash or they’ll take a portion of cash or bitcoin,” he said.
Silbert said he’s trying to use bitcoin as much as possible in his daily life, noting he can now buy “almost anything through Amazon” using a card produced by a company he’s invested in called Gyft .
“I can’t go to the corner coffee shop. I can’t necessarily, you know, pay my rent yet, although I am going to convince my landlord to accept bitcoin pretty soon,” he said.
Williams said the anonymity will have to go away if consumers are going to be adequately protected. But if that happens, it will also rob bitcoin of one of its features.
He asked: “Now why was bitcoin created? Number one was to get away from regulation, number two, to avoid bankers, and number three, to get away, you know, to have the anonymous coin as a feature. Now if those three things are taken away, will bitcoin be adopted? Will the original believers in bitcoin say it’s a sellout?
Multimillion-dollar bitcoin thefts, meanwhile, have shown that the “irreversibility” of bitcoin transactions is a fundamental problem with the cryptocurrency, he said.
Silbert, however, disagreed, arguing that irreversibility isn’t necessarily viewed as a flaw.
“If you think from a merchant perspective, the amount of money they spend per year on chargebacks and fraud, again, people in the bitcoin community actually view it as a feature,” he said.
That said, companies like Coinbase are going to be putting consumer protections in place, Silbert argued, emphasizing that he doesn’t think they will be so costly as to make bitcoin uncompetitive with credit cards and PayPal.
But Williams said it’s not clear what other payment providers — PayPal and the credit-card companies — will do as regulations tighten up and costs inevitably rise for bitcoin users. The Visas and MasterCards and PayPals of the world are just now starting to take the competitive threat from bitcoin seriously, he said.
“A year ago this wasn’t a threat. Finally these entities are looking and saying yes, this is potentially real,” Williams said. 

Kathleen Sebelius Resigns After Obamacare Failure


President Obama has chosen Sylvia Mathews Burwell, his budget director, to replace U.S. Health and Human  Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the White House said.    (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sylvia Mathews Burwell To Replace Kathleen Sebelius As U.S. Health And Human Services Secretary


WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) - U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after overseeing the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, a White House official said on Thursday.

Her departure removes one lightning rod for critics as Obama and nervous Democrats try to retain control of the U.S. Senate in November midterm elections, but Republicans continue to see problems with the Affordable Care Act as a winning issue.

"If the Obama people thought this was going to calm the waters, I think they misread it. I think it's just going to embolden Republicans," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

The Oct. 1 launch of new Obamacare health insurance marketplaces, which was plagued by computer problems that stymied access for millions of people, has been condemned by Republicans as a step toward socialized medicine.

Obama has chosen Sylvia Mathews Burwell, his budget director, to replace Sebelius, the White House said. Well-known inside Washington, where her appointment was praised by the likes of Republican Senator John McCain, Burwell will have to manage the program through its next major challenges in the height of elections season.

But Burwell is relatively unknown outside the Beltway, and has a "tall order" to fix all the detailed issues with the law, and improve its standing among voters, Yepsen said.

Polls show Obamacare remains unpopular. In March, 46 percent of people said they had an unfavorable view of the law, while 38 percent said they liked it, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Obama was due to announce the change with Sebelius and Burwell at his side at a White House event at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT) on Friday. Sebelius remains on the job until Burwell is confirmed by the Senate, an administration official said.

"HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE"

Sebelius, 65, became the public face for the problem-plagued start to the enrollment period for Obamacare, which was meant to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance and cut into massive U.S. healthcare costs.

When enrollment opened in October, the federal HealthCare.gov website used by consumers in 36 states failed to work for weeks. The White House called in a team of management and technology experts to fix the site, which began working more or less smoothly by December.

Even as she took responsibility for the failures, Obama stuck by Sebelius, brushing aside pressure to fire her.

"Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible," Sebelius said at an Oct. 30 hearing.

The enrollment period was ultimately successful, surpassing the 7 million figure the Obama administration had predicted. But Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas, told Obama in early March she wanted to leave the administration, a White House official said.

"She believed that once open enrollment ended it would be the right time to transition the department to new leadership," the official said.


MANAGEMENT CREDENTIALS

Burwell, 48, is no stranger to top-level administrative positions, having served as deputy White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration and in top roles at the Treasury Department and the National Economic Council.

She served at the Office of Management and Budget twice, as deputy director under Jack Lew from 1998 to 2001, and took over as director about a year ago. She helped the administration manage its response to a shutdown of the federal government brought on by a budget battle with Republicans in October.

In the intervening years, she worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as head of the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Burwell "seems to have a strong background in management, and that's what we need now," said Timothy Jost, a healthcare expert who teaches at Washington and Lee University.

"We're over some of the biggest hurdles now, and what we need is somebody who can stay the course."

Her nomination into the contentious position will likely be eased by a Senate rule change last year known as the "nuclear option," which lowers the vote threshold needed to overcome procedural hurdles for confirmation of presidential nominees.

Instead of the previous 60 votes required to override a senator's objection to a nominee, only 51 votes are needed to advance to a final vote under the changes made by Senate Democrats, who currently control the Senate 55 votes to 45.

One of the first challenges for Burwell will be to work with health insurers in the coming months as they set prices for Obamacare plans in 2015. Industry executives have warned that many states could see double-digit increases in monthly premiums as they try to account for the higher proportion of older policyholders who often cost more to cover. Such price hikes would provide fodder for Republican opponents of the law who say it creates financial burdens for individuals and businesses.

She will also be challenged to improve the health insurance exchanges before the next enrollment period begins in November, and with the Treasury Department, implement new penalties for Americans who did not buy health insurance.

Democrats facing tough races in November are pushing for politically palatable changes to the law, while Republicans will push to get rid of it.

"Secretary Sebelius may be gone, but the problems with this law and the impact it's having on our constituents aren't," said Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate.

"Obamacare has to go, too," McConnell said in a statement.


BUTT OF LATE-NIGHT JOKES

Sebelius's resignation caps a series of departures by lower-profile officials responsible for implementing the law.

Sebelius testified to Congress about the law as recently as Thursday, giving no sign that she was about to step down.

In an interview with the New York Times, Sebelius said she wished she could take "all the animosity" toward Obamacare with her when she departs.

"If that could just leave with me, and we could get to a new chapter, that would be terrific," she said.

Lawmakers from both parties gave Sebelius credit on Thursday for persevering through what Republican Senator Orrin Hatch called "one of the toughest jobs in Washington."

Analysts said Sebelius's career as secretary hit a low point soon after the Oct. 1 launch, when she continued to travel the country to promote enrollment, including an embarrassing appearance on "The Daily Show," a cable television comedy program, and regular skewering on "Saturday Night Live."

Republicans including her fellow Kansan Senator Pat Roberts called for her to step down for what he called "gross incompetence", and administration insiders said relations with the White House grew increasingly tense thereafter.

"You won't find a piece of paper saying she was fired. But it had to be uncomfortable, and not having a change in personnel after the disastrous rollout must have rubbed the administration's Democratic supporters the wrong way," said Joe Antos of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by David Morgan, David Lawder and Tom Ferraro; Editing by Sandra Maler, David Storey and Lisa Shumaker)

Police Defend Using Chokehold on San Francisco Giants Fan

Thursday, April 10, 2014

World War 3 : Tensions High as the Bear of Gog and Magog invades Crimea ...



Bring the troops home. Isolationism is the only true way.  America should not be involved in Russian political conflict.  We already have North Korea testing rockets within range of United States airbases, why do we need more conflict to put our hands in?!  Bring everybody home, let the rest of the world kill themselves, then we will really be most powerful.

-Ron Paul SF Dot Com

Summit In The Ukraine (Putin has little hope for peace)

Putin Chairs Cabinet Meeting In Moscow
Diplomats predict little chance of breakthrough as four powers meet for first time since President Yanukovych fled
Vladimir Putin: 'I hope that the initiative will have consequences, and that the outcome will be positive' Photograph: Itar-Tass/Barcroft Media
Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he hoped talks between Russia,Ukraine, the EU and US due next week would have a "positive" outcome, but warned that Ukraine's interim government should not do anything that could not "be fixed later".
The four-way talks, the first since the crisis, were announced on Tuesday night.
"I hope that the initiative of Russian foreign ministry on adjusting the situation and changing it for the better will have consequences, and that the outcome will be positive," the Russian president told a televised government meeting. "At the very least, I hope that the acting [leaders] will not do anything that cannot be fixed later."
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, discussed the meeting on the phone on Wednesday, according to the Russian foreign ministry. It said the two men had urged all sides to refrain from violence in eastern and southern Ukraine.
But diplomats said it was unlikely the talks would produce any major breakthroughs, given Russia and the west viewed the situation in Ukraine so differently, with both sides accusing the other of stoking tension.
"We don't have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open," said Victoria Nuland, the US assistant secretary of state.
The situation in the east of Ukraine is tense, with Ukrainian authorities promising on Wednesday morning to end the occupation of administrative buildings by pro-Russian separatists within 48 hours, either by negotiations or force.
"A resolution to this crisis will be found within the next 48 hours," said Arsen Avakov, interior minister, in Kiev, referring to the eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk where protesters remain in control of government buildings.
"For those who want dialogue, we propose talks and a political solution. For the minority who want conflict, they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities," he said.
A group of pro-Russian protesters calling themselves the Army of the Southeast were occupying the security service headquarters in Luhansk. Members of the building's defence who identified themselves as former Berkut (special police) officers from other regions, said they would not fire first but if attacked would fight back until Russian forces arrived.
The Kremlin has said it is prepared to intervene as in Crimea to protect ethnic Russians in other parts of Ukraine, amid reports of a Russian troop buildup along the border.
The masked commander said the security service building's defence included him and 42 other former members of the elite Alpha division of the now-disbanded Berkut, who were known as former president Viktor Yanukovich's shock troops during the Euromaidan protests in Kiev. He said the former president, who fled to Russia in February, had betrayed them.
A few hundred demonstrators stood in the square in front of the building, protesting against the new regime in Kiev, which many said had been installed by the US government.
Tatiana Pogukai, a spokesperson of the Luhansk division of the interior ministry, told the Guardian that a group of security service and law enforcement officials and politicians continued to negotiate with the occupiers, who are demanding a referendum on "the region's economic independence from Kiev".
Kiev has claimed the protesters are directed by Russian security services, and, on Tuesday, Kerry accused Moscow of stirring up unrest, possibly as a pretext for Crimea-style military intervention.
There are concerns about the new government in Kiev, but support for actually joining Russia is not widespread among the population, unlike in Crimea.
In Moscow, Putin met the cabinet on Wednesday and discussed possible economic responses to Ukraine. Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, says it has not received any money for March gas deliveries to Ukraine and still has a $2.2bn (£1.6bn) debt outstanding. Kiev has said it will pay the debt but has protested at an 80% increase in gas prices announced last week.
Putin said it was possible that Russia could make Ukraine pay up front for deliveries of gas, but he instructed the government to wait until "further consultations" with Kiev before introducing the measure.
The gas dispute is another way for Moscow to put pressure on Kiev, and is likely to be another issue at the talks next week, which will be the first four-way meeting since Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine and the new government was formed.
Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea, and Kiev and Moscow have been engaged in a bitter war of words, with both sides accusing the other of sponsoring terrorism.
The Kiev government claimed it had evidence that Russian security services were behind the violence that left more than 100 dead in Kiev in February, while Russian security services say they have arrested a number of Ukrainians acting on official orders and planning terror attacks inside Russia.

Ukrainian MPs brawl in parliament – video: