Jul 242014
AP file photo

GREEN MONEY: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer made his pile by investing in coal, oil and gas.

Big-spending Democratic donors take the gold, silver and bronze when it comes to contributions to super PACs so far this election cycle.

Liberal billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg lead the way, having given nearly $30 million to super PACs during the current cycle, according to a new analysis of political spending by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics. In third place is Fred Eychaner, a reclusive Chicago businessman who gave $14 million to Democratic super PACs in the 2012 cycle and has already spent $5.7 million this time around.

Whether the trend of big-spending Democratic donors will continue through Election Day isn’t clear, wrote Jacob Fenton and Stan Oklobdzija, researchers for the Sunlight Foundation. Continue reading »

Jul 232014

Yesterday, ProPublica reported on new research by a team at KU Leuven and Princeton on canvas fingerprinting. One of the most intrusive users of the technology is a company called AddThis, who by are employing it in “shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.” Canvas fingerprinting allows sites to get even more identifying information than we had previously warned about with our Panopticlick fingerprinting experiment.

Canvas fingerprinting exploits the fact that different browsers have slightly different algorithms, parameters, and hardware for turning text into pictures on your screen (or more specifically, into an HTML 5 canvas object that the tracker can read1). According to the research by Gunes Acar, et al., AddThis draws a hidden image containing the unusual phrase “Cwm fjordbank glyphs vext quiz” and observed the way the pixels would turn out differently on different systems. This builds on a fingerprinting technique that was first presented by Keaton Mowery and Hovav Shacham in 2012.

While YouPorn quickly removed AddThis after the report was published, the White House website still contains AddThis code.  Some White House pages obviously include the AddThis button, such as the White House Blog, and a link to the AddThis privacy policy. Continue reading »

Jul 232014
IS IT VALID?: Virginia election officials are trying to decide if an expired photo identification is valid at the polls.

IS IT VALID?: Virginia election officials are trying to decide if an expired photo identification is valid at the polls.

RICHMOND, Va. — A battle over what constitutes a “valid” voter ID has gone online — and the loosest interpretation is winning.

The public has until 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 to post online comments on this state Department of Elections website.

The State Board of Elections last month pulled back a controversial policy that would have allowed expired photo identifications to be accepted at polling places.

But since initial pushback from election-watch activists, citizen comments have supported the SBE’s more open stance.

Wrote Julie Emery: “If the only purpose of a photo ID is to verify that you are who you say you are, and if the state issued ID has nothing but your name and photo, I don’t understand why you would not accept an expired ID.

“Identity does not have an expiration.” Continue reading »

Jul 232014

Thanks to the federal government, it soon may become far more difficult to use and enjoy private property. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers want to make a water—and land—grab that should scare everyone.

Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government has jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” which the statute further defines as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Property owners often need to get permits if waters covered under the law will be impacted. Therefore, a critical question is what types of “waters” are covered under the CWA. That’s what the EPA and Corps seek to address with a new proposed rule that would define “the waters of the United States.” As expected, the EPA and the Corps are seeking to expand their authority to cover waters never imagined when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. Continue reading »

Jul 232014

 You don’t even have to be a real person to get Obamacare subsidies.

That’s the takeaway from a report issued Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO created 12 imaginary identities, which were used by people who signed up for Obamacare

Eleven of them succeeded in obtaining coverage—and received subsidies.

“The total amount of these credits for the 11 approved applications is about $2,500 monthly or about $30,000 annually. We also obtained cost-sharing reduction subsidies, according to marketplace representatives, in at least nine of the 11 cases,” GAO’s Seth Bagdoyan said, according to NBC News.

Obamacare requires exchanges to assume applicants answered honestly all the questions on their application. Suspicious applicants are supposed to be asked to provide additional documentation to prove their claims. But the GAO found there’s no consistency in how that occurs:

For its 11 approved applications, GAO was directed to submit supporting documents, such as proof of income or citizenship; but, GAO found the document submission and review process to be inconsistent among these applications. As of July 2014, GAO had received notification that portions of the fake documentation sent for two enrollees had been verified. According to CMS, its document processing contractor is not required to authenticate documentation; the contractor told us it does not seek to detect fraud and accepts documents as authentic unless there are obvious alterations. As of July 2014, GAO continues to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents.

According to a Congressional Budget Office April report, the federal government will spend $36 billion on Obamacare in 2014.

Katrina Trinko is managing editor of The Daily Signal and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors.

Katrina Trinko /

Report: Fictional People Able to Sign Up for Obamacare, Get Subsidies


Continue reading »

Jul 232014
DOC SHORTAGE: The underpayment of doctors by government health care plans is driving doctors out of business in Vermont.

DOC SHORTAGE: The underpayment of doctors by government health care plans is driving doctors out of business in Vermont.

 Single-payer advocates promise high-quality low-cost health care for all.

But physicians in Vermont say the state’s move towards a single-payer health care system is driving independent doctors out of business and eliminating patient choice.

“The health systems have caused it to be nearly impossible from a financial standpoint to stay in private practice. That’s not so in the rest of the country,” Dr. Paul Reiss, a Williston family practice physician, told Vermont Watchdog.

“We’ve gotten to a place here in Vermont where we have about 20 percent independents, yet in the rest of the country 50 to 60 percent are independent practice.” Continue reading »

Jul 232014

The shocking destruction of Malyasian Airlines MH17 is merely the latest in a string of cases in which irresponsible and unaccountable proxies have brought shame and international condemnation down upon the heads of their foreign sponsors. The precise details of how a passenger airliner carrying 298 souls fell from the sky still aren’t known, but, as Jon Lee Anderson notes in the New Yorker, ”however it played out, this sort of tragedy is a natural consequence of giving weapons to violent men who feel that their powerful sponsor allows them to commit crimes with impunity.”

One hopes, once the memorials to the victims are concluded, and friends and families have had time to come grips with their loss, that the MH17 incident will induce greater caution on the part of would-be foreign sponsors the next time they consider arming shadowy rebels. But I’m not that optimistic. It certainly won’t be sufficient to stop all such cases. Advocates will likely claim that the particular proxy group that they favor isn’t at all like the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, and, thus, that there is nothing to worry about. “Our guys can be trusted with these weapons,” they’ll say. One hopes that skeptics won’t be scorned and ridiculed for voicing concerns. Continue reading »

Jul 222014

Beretta has decided not to expand their manufacturing facilities in the state of Maryland because of the state’s recently passed anti-gun laws. Beretta has announced a far bigger move, they will move their ENTIRE Maryland operation to the more gun friendly state of Tennessee.

Beretta Logo

Here is the official press release from the Beretta:

Beretta U.S.A. Corp., located in Accokeek, Maryland, announced today that it has decided to move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location to a new production facility that it is building in Gallatin, Tennessee. The Gallatin facility is scheduled to be opened in mid-2015. Beretta U.S.A. had previously planned to use the new Gallatin, Tennessee facility for new machinery and production of new products only.

“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world. While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State,” stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

Continue reading »
Jul 222014

AP photo

ACROSS THE COUNTRY: Demonstrators for the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform Amnesty and Border Surge, showcase American Flags and signs Saturday on the Main Street bridge at Interstate 15 in Hesperia, Calif.

Along East Seventh Street in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul, Minn., more signs are in Spanish than English, advertising everything from used cars to groceries.

That backdrop certainly made Larry Dalin’s sign stand out. Continue reading »