Sunday, June 16, 2013

Baytown, TX mom punches, runs over robber who threatened her kids! ^ | 15 June, 2013 | ANDREW HORANSKY

BAYTOWN, Texas -- A Baytown mother fought back – and won – when an armed robber threatened her and her two young sons, according to police.
Dorothy Baker was just driving home from CVS with her sons, ages 5 and 2, when a man crept up from the third row of their minivan with a knife.
He demanded money.
“So I asked him how much he needed and he said $200,” Baker said. “And I told him I didn’t have that kind of cash, I had about $20 in my account, and he said I better figure out a way to get it, or my kids were going to get hurt.”
Thinking fast and acting even faster, the mother of six ignored his request at one point to make a turn.
She said he then leaped up to the front row and realized she had dialed 911 on her cell phone. Instinct took over and she was able to rip the knife out of his hand.
She said she then pushed him to the passenger seat and punched him in the face, all while they were still moving.
“And I told him to get the hell out of my car,” she said. “And he said ‘fine.’ He got out and started running and the next thing I thought was if he gets away he can do this to somebody else.”
So she pursued him.
“He kind of ‘zagged’ and I turned, intending to clip him in the side or something to get him to stop,” she said. “And I ended up running completely over him.”
Baytown police identified the man as 53-year-old Ismael Martinez. He was taken to Memorial Hermann via Life Flight, where he was listed in stable condition.
Records reveal he served time in the TDC after a 1976 rape conviction.
Many people are praising the mom, who is now covered in scratches.
Baker does not see why.
“I see myself as a mom trying to protect her kids,” she said. “That’s it.”
She believes Martinez had spotted her family earlier in the day when they were at a Kroger across the street from the CVS.
She said he was smoking a cigarette and watching them, and that she recognized him the moment she saw him in her van.

AGW panic ending with a whimper ( Global Warming Hoax ends with a whimper?)

Armed and Dangerous ^ | Monday, April 1 2013 | by esr

This is how the AGW panic ends: not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The Economist, which (despite a recent decline) remains probably the best news magazine in the English language, now admits that (a) global average temperature has been flat for 15 years even as CO2 levels have been rising rapidly, (b) surface temperatures are at the lowest edge of the range predicted by IPCC climate models, (c) on current trends, they will soon fall clean outside and below the model predictions, (c) estimates of climate sensitivity need revising downwards, and (d) something, probably multiple things, is badly wrong with AGW climate models.
Do I get to say “I told you so!” yet?

The wheels are falling off the bandwagon. The Economist has so much prestige in the journalistic establishment that it’s going to become difficult now for the mainstream media to continue averting their eyes from the evidence. Honest AGW advocates have been the victims of a massive error cascade enlisted in aid of a vast and vicious series of political and financial scams; it’s time for them to wake up and realize they’ve been had, taken, swindled, conned, and used.
I can’t but think the record cold weather in England has got something to do with this. Only a few years ago AGW panicmongers were screaming that British children would never see another snowfall – now they’re struggling with nastier winter weather than has been seen in a century. Perhaps the big chill woke somebody at The Economist up?
And if you think I’m gloating now, wait until GAT actually falls far enough below the low end of IPCC projections that the Economist has to admit that. I plan to be unseemly and insufferable about it, oh yes I do.
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What President Palin Would Not Have Done

the-American-catholic ^ | June 15, 2013 | Donald R. McClarey

Palin would not have dismissed the Black Panther intimidation lawsuit that the government had already won.
Palin would not have seized two auto companies and give them to her cronies in and out of the UAW.
Palin and her supporters would not be claiming that her opponents were racists for disagreeing with her policies.
Palin would not have tried to block Boeing from building a factory in South Carolina as a gift to her union buddies in Washington state.
Palin would not have toured the world apologizing for America.
Palin’s Homeland Security Department would not have classified patriots as security threats.
Palin would have expanded oil and gas exploration on federal lands instead of reducing it, make the US even less dependent on foreign oil.
Palin would not have allowed the Pigford suit to be settled that gives billions of dollars to “farmers” that never farmed.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Watch the Good Guys and Leave the Terrorists Alone ^ | 6/16/2013 | Jeannie DeAngelis

Barack Obama alleges that snooping is in the nation's best interest because it is a powerful tool needed to keep Americans safe from dangerous terrorists. Yet, taking political correctness to a whole new level of lunacy, mosques, where terrorist types like to mingle with likeminded people, are currently off-limits to spying, snooping, and undercover stakeouts.
That's right -- cell phones are being tapped, keystrokes on computers are being logged and email intercepted and read; but mosques, which are home base for homegrown terrorists, are strictly off-limits to counterterrorism efforts.
Apparently this is how it works: Let's say law enforcement is looking for a serial murderer who's known to take a cooking class or two before butchering his victims. So to prevent non-murdering chefs from being offended, the thing to do would be to avoid looking in culinary schools for the killer. Right?
Then, while the Killer Chef hides in a cookery sharpening his meat cleavers, the FBI should spend most of its time surveilling florists, shoe stores, and yoga classes. To avoid insulting Jeffrey Dahmer types, the protocol must be to never ever search for suspicious-looking characters in places where lust killers with cannibalistic tendencies are likely to hang out.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

6 dead among 24 shot Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning (Fathers Day in Chicago)

Chicago Tribune ^ | 16 Jun 13 | Peter Nickeas, Anthony Souffle and Carlos Sadovi

Two dozen people were shot Saturday afternoon into Father's Day Sunday across the city, according to authorities.
Of the 24 people shot, six died either at the crime scenes or at local hospitals. The youngest was 16. One of the men killed was an armed man shot by police after he raised a 9-millimeter handgun in their direction after bailing from a moving car, authorities said.
The shootings stretched from 9400 S. Loomis Avenue on the South Side up to about North Avenue and Pulaski in the Hermosa neighborhood.
• The first homicide of the night was about 10:12 p.m. Saturday inside a club on 79th Street between Ellis and Ingleside avenues in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, where four men were shot, one fatally, after someone opened the door to the club and started shooting.
Todd Wood, 40, of the 8100 block of South St. Lawrence Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood, was pronounced dead at Advocate Trinity Hospital at 12:45 a.m. this morning, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Also wounded in that attack were a 35-year-old man who was shot in the leg, a 25-year-old man shot in the leg, and a 24-year-old man shot in the chest. The man with the chest wound is in critical condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the 35-year-old's condition has stabilized at University of Chicago Hospitals and the 25-year-old walked into Jackson Park Hospital with a minor leg wound, police said.
• The second killing of the night was in the Little Village neighborhood on the South Side. Five people were shot overnight in that neighborhood -- three near 26th Street and Ridgeway Avenue and two others at 31st Street and Pulaski Road, police said.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

AT&T to Load iPhones With Emergency Alerts From Obama – That You Can’t Switch Off

Gateway Pundit ^ | June 16, 2013 | Jim Hoft

Just in case you want more Obama in your life… AT&T is loading iPhones with emergency alerts from Barack Obama… That you can’t switch off.

AT&T has begun rolling out Wireless Emergency Alerts updates for iPhone 4S and 5, so you won’t be the last folks to know if the entire northern hemisphere is about to be covered in ice à la Day After Tomorrow.

You’ll receive a notification from the carrier when your update is ready, but only if you’re using iOS 6.1 or higher.

Once installed, AMBER and Emergency alerts are automatically sent to your phone unless you switch them off via Settings. However, should you be tired of Obama, just know that there’s no way to switch off Presidential alerts.

So now Barack can track your calls and send you messages, too.

ObamaCare: Talk to your doctor now (and your insurance agent too)

New York Post ^ | 06/15/2013 | Dr. MARC SIEGEL

Have you had “the conversation” with your doctor yet? I don’t mean the conversation you used to have with your pre-pubescent kids before the Internet and Facebook took over sex education; I mean the post-ObamaCare conversation, where you try to figure out if you’ll get to keep your doctor or not.
Is she planning on retiring early or moving to a large group or a hospital practice where you can’t follow her? Will she be taking your new insurance? Will the various Medicare cuts and changes force her to limit her practice size just when you’re reaching 65 and need her the most?
How does she feel about a future where doctors will be paid for government-defined “quality,” rather than for delivering you a service the way lawyers are paid? Beware: It’s much easier for a doctor to document quality if her patient gets better. The sicker you get, the more incentive your doctor has to run away.
You also need to have “the conversation” with your employer. Will he continue to provide you with insurance, or will he change you to a part-time worker in order to drop your insurance but avoid paying a penalty? If he does continue to provide insurance, how much will you be asked to pay? That can be up to 40 percent of the premium under ObamaCare — and ObamaCare premiums are higher, too.
If he decides to drop your coverage and takes the penalty, will you be compelled to go to your state exchange for a new policy only to find you can’t afford the premium of the comprehensive plans you find there (aptly named bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) and don’t quite qualify for a federal subsidy?
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Duplicity of the Obama Administration Is Not New ^ | June 16, 2013 | Michael Youssef

As if the past few weeks of scandals haven’t been enough, now we learn that the American government is spying on us to an astounding degree. And all it takes to be a target is an analyst’s “51 percent confidence” in an individual’s “foreignness.”

The fact that I have an extensive media ministry in the Middle East and—surprise, surprise—have a “foreign” sounding name, places me smack-dab in the middle of the NSA’s target lists.

No doubt, they have monitored my phone calls and emails.

And yet, I’m not concerned about being spied upon. At least, I’m not concerned about myself.

I have nothing to hide; as readers of this column can attest to. In this space, I have expressed my thoughts about our government and the Obama administration, and I have worked to expose its duplicitous behavior from day one. In particular, I have closely watched the administration’s policy in the Middle East.

I have often pointed out how Mr. Obama was quick to call for the deposing of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt—even though he was a friend to the US, kept the peace, helped us confront global terrorism, and brought economic growth to Egypt in excess of 6 percent annually.

Even when Mr. Obama was a guest of President Mubarak, Obama’s administration was secretly negotiating with outlawed Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Talk about acting duplicitous!

But that’s not all.

When the Muslim Brotherhood government crushed its opposition, persecuted minorities, and brought the Egyptian economy to its knees, what did the Obama administration do?

They gave them more than a billion dollars to help them out.

And now we know that while Mr. Obama has claimed to represent all Americans, and has vowed to run the most transparent administration ever, his administration has worked feverishly to harass journalists and destroy its opponents.

But because news of NSA spying, IRS harassment, DOJ oppression, and State Department dishonesty is terrifyingly numbing, I fear that people will throw up their hands in despair. The circling of the wagons will be so intense, that most people, even good people, may simply give up.

It’s not like Obama’s beloved media will try to seek the full truth.

Meanwhile, a major chunk of the unique American experiment in individual freedom will melt away like an iceberg in the middle of summer. Perhaps, a day is coming when I will again experience what I experienced as a boy growing up under a brutal dictatorship.

Operatives in the White House fully grasp the concept of the proverbial frog in the kettle, slowing heating up to a boil. Little by little, they have been turning up the political water temperature on an increasingly careless and self-absorbed citizenry.

When we wake up eventually, I’m afraid we will weep blood. That will be God’s judgment upon us—judgment for rejecting the God of our Founding Fathers.

We will be found guilty of rejecting His enduring character of love, mercy, justice, and biblical morality, and replacing those with the “god” of government protection and its absolute sovereignty over our lives.

When it comes to being spied upon, I sleep well at night. I have nothing to hide from any government entity that is tapping my phones or email.

What I fear is the loss of the history’s greatest experiment: America.

Military Takes Stern Measures to Ensure Loyalty

Semi-News/Semi-Satire ^ | 15 June 2013 | John Semmens

Concerned that US troops may have conflicting loyalties, top brass is cracking down on “overt displays of behaviors conducive to a break down in discipline.”
By way of making an example, Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year Army veteran based at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C., is facing formal charges for “a litany of offensive behaviors.” The bad behavior includes his choice of reading material—conservative and critical of the Obama Administration—and his choice of menu—sandwiches from Chik-Fil-A—at a party he threw celebrating his promotion to Master Sergeant. Chik-Fil-A is the restaurant famous for its owners views on marriage.
“The Army must be 100% behind its Commander-in-Chief,” declared Army spokesman Major Hardin Saddler. “The President needs to be able to feel comfortable that the troops can be counted upon to carry out his orders without qualms or reservations. Sgt. Sommers has indicated that his reliability in this regard is subject to question. While we concede that it is likely Sommers is too far gone to be reclaimed, it is still possible that we can influence the behavior of other soldiers by how we handle his transgressions now.”
In a bid to provide some legal protection for freedom of conscience for US troops, Representative John Fleming (R-La) has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the Army from retaliating against soldiers for “actions and speech that reflect the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the individual.”
The Obama Administration opposes Fleming’s amendment on the grounds that it would have a “significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment. Allowing troops to exercise their own sense of conscience undermines the unquestioning obedience that is necessary for a well-disciplined army.”

No Constitution, No Borders, No USA

Family Security Matters ^ | June 15, 2013 | DIANA WEST

At what point does it become clear that we no longer inhabit America?
When we "Press 2," not "1," for English?
When a national Social Security Number syncs an electronic identity that the government hospital provided us at birth to track us till death?
When borders are no more, but the Surveillance State always knows where we are?
Ours is the age of dislocation before realization: The United States of America no longer exists. Why? How? The answer is simple, tragic and outrageous: Government officials, elected and unelected, with precious exceptions, no longer preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Instead, they do whatever it takes to beat it, flout it and ignore it. Worse, We, the People, let them.
This can't go on. Otherwise our-country-'tis-of-thee becomes a melody to be forgotten, a mirage of a tradition more storybook than real every day. Nowhere is this more the case, of course, than in Washington, D.C., where absolute unaccountability corrupts absolutely, where echoing down the cool, white marble halls of power, hollow men and women trample sovereignty and citizenship in a pathway to American betrayal. And I haven't even gotten to Congress, busy "reforming" the illegal-alien crisis they antiseptically refer to as "immigration," while considering passage of a $940 billion "farm bill," 80 percent of which will fund food stamps. These two laws alone can institutionalize the lawlessness of the land and make countless more Americans wards of the state.
Meanwhile, there is in Washington a faceless power-mongery that lives and works in the shadows. City by city, rural state by rural state, its mechanisms of "immigration," "refugee resettlement" and socialist government programs overwhelm a near-impotent citizenry with alien cultures, religions, languages and traditions.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

We Are This Far From A Turnkey Totalitarian State (Must Read - The NSA's Secret Utah Data Center)

Blacklisted News ^ | 5 Jun 13 | Zero Hedge

George Orwell was right. He was just 30 years early.
In its April cover story, Wired has an exclusive report on the NSA's Utah Data Center, which is a must read for anyone who believes any privacy is still a possibility in the United States: "A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.... Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication,including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”... The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013." In other words, in just over 1 year, virtually anything one communicates through any traceable medium, or any record of one's existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything,will unofficially be property of the US government to deal with as it sees fit.
The codename of the project: Stellar Wind.
As Wired says, "there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created."
And as former NSA operative William Binney who was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician, and is the basis for the Wired article (which we guess makes him merely the latest whistleblower to step up: is America suddenly experiencing an ethical revulsion?), and quit his job only after he realized that the NSA is now openly trampling the constitution, says as he holds his thumb and forefinger close together. "We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state."
There was a time when Americans still cared about matters such as personal privacy. Luckily, they now have iGadgets to keep them distracted as they hand over their last pieces of individuality to the Tzar of conformity. And there are those who wonder just what the purpose of the NDAA is.
In the meantime please continue to pretend that America is a democracy...

Here are some of the highlights from the Wired article:
The Utah Data Center in a nutshell, and the summary of the current status of the NSA's eavesdropping on US citizens.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.
...Shrouded in secrecy:
A short time later, Inglis arrived in Bluffdale at the site of the future data center, a flat, unpaved runway on a little-used part of Camp Williams, a National Guard training site. There, in a white tent set up for the occasion, Inglis joined Harvey Davis, the agency’s associate director for installations and logistics, and Utah senator Orrin Hatch, along with a few generals and politicians in a surreal ceremony. Standing in an odd wooden sandbox and holding gold-painted shovels, they made awkward jabs at the sand and thus officially broke ground on what the local media had simply dubbed “the spy center.” Hoping for some details on what was about to be built, reporters turned to one of the invited guests, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Did he have any idea of the purpose behind the new facility in his backyard? “Absolutely not,” he said with a self-conscious half laugh. “Nor do I want them spying on me.”
Within days, the tent and sandbox and gold shovels would be gone and Inglis and the generals would be replaced by some 10,000 construction workers. “We’ve been asked not to talk about the project,” Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction, one of the three major contractors working on the project, told a local reporter. The plans for the center show an extensive security system: an elaborate $10 million antiterrorism protection program, including a fence designed to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour, closed-circuit cameras, a biometric identification system, a vehicle inspection facility, and a visitor-control center.
Inside, the facility will consist of four 25,000-square-foot halls filled with servers, complete with raised floor space for cables and storage. In addition, there will be more than 900,000 square feet for technical support and administration. The entire site will be self-sustaining, with fuel tanks large enough to power the backup generators for three days in an emergency, water storage with the capability of pumping 1.7 million gallons of liquid per day, as well as a sewage system and massive air-conditioning system to keep all those servers cool. Electricity will come from the center’s own substation built by Rocky Mountain Power to satisfy the 65-megawatt power demand. Such a mammoth amount of energy comes with a mammoth price tag—about $40 million a year, according to one estimate.
Presenting the Yottabyte, aka 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text:
Given the facility’s scale and the fact that a terabyte of data can now be stored on a flash drive the size of a man’s pinky, the potential amount of information that could be housed in Bluffdale is truly staggering. But so is the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. As a result of this “expanding array of theater airborne and other sensor networks,” as a 2007 Department of Defense report puts it, the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes—so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)
It needs that capacity because, according to a recent report by Cisco, global Internet traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015, reaching 966 exabytes per year. (A million exabytes equal a yottabyte.) In terms of scale, Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, once estimated that the total of all human knowledge created from the dawn of man to 2003 totaled 5 exabytes. And the data flow shows no sign of slowing. In 2011 more than 2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people were connected to the Internet. By 2015, market research firm IDC estimates, there will be 2.7 billion users. Thus, the NSA’s need for a 1-million-square-foot data storehouse. Should the agency ever fill the Utah center with a yottabyte of information, it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.
Summarizing the NSA's entire spy network:

Before yottabytes of data from the deep web and elsewhere can begin piling up inside the servers of the NSA’s new center, they must be collected. To better accomplish that, the agency has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn’t revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.
Luckily, we now know, courtesy of yet another whistleblower, who has exposed the NSA's mindblowing efforts at pervasive Big Brotherness:
For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.
He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”
The eavesdropping on Americans doesn’t stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T’s powerful earth stations, satellite receivers in locations that include Roaring Creek and Salt Creek. Tucked away on a back road in rural Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Roaring Creek’s three 105-foot dishes handle much of the country’s communications to and from Europe and the Middle East. And on an isolated stretch of land in remote Arbuckle, California, three similar dishes at the company’s Salt Creek station service the Pacific Rim and Asia.
In other words, the NSA has absolutely everyone covered.
We now know all of this, courtesy of yet another person finally stepping up and exposing the truth:
Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.”Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.
The software, created by a company called Narus that’s now part of Boeing, is controlled remotely from NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland and searches US sources for target addresses, locations, countries, and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Any communication that arouses suspicion, especially those to or from the million or so people on agency watch lists, are automatically copied or recorded and then transmitted to the NSA.
Everyone is a target.
The scope of surveillance expands from there, Binney says. Once a name is entered into the Narus database, all phone calls and other communications to and from that person are automatically routed to the NSA’s recorders. “Anybody you want, route to a recorder,” Binney says. “If your number’s in there? Routed and gets recorded.” He adds, “The Narus device allows you to take it all.” And when Bluffdale is completed, whatever is collected will be routed there for storage and analysis.
After he left the NSA, Binney suggested a system for monitoring people’s communications according to how closely they are connected to an initial target. The further away from the target—say you’re just an acquaintance of a friend of the target—the less the surveillance. But the agency rejected the idea, and, given the massive new storage facility in Utah, Binney suspects that it now simply collects everything. “The whole idea was, how do you manage 20 terabytes of intercept a minute?” he says. “The way we proposed was to distinguish between things you want and things you don’t want.” Instead, he adds, “they’re storing everything they gather.” And the agency is gathering as much as it can.
Once the communications are intercepted and stored, the data-mining begins. “You can watch everybody all the time with data- mining,” Binney says. Everything a person does becomes charted on a graph, “financial transactions or travel or anything,” he says. Thus, as data like bookstore receipts, bank statements, and commuter toll records flow in, the NSA is able to paint a more and more detailed picture of someone’s life.
Can you hear me now? The NSA sure can:
According to Binney, one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.
Verizon was also part of the program, Binney says, and that greatly expanded the volume of calls subject to the agency’s domestic eavesdropping. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he says. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” (Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T said their companies would not comment on matters of national security.)
In fact, as you talk now, the NSA's computers are listening, recording it all, and looking for keywords.
The NSA also has the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls directly and in real time. According to Adrienne J. Kinne, who worked both before and after 9/11 as a voice interceptor at the NSA facility in Georgia, in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks “basically all rules were thrown out the window, and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” Kinne found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. “It’s almost like going through and finding somebody’s diary,” she says.
There is a simple matter of encryption... Which won't be an issue for the NSA shortly, once the High Productivity Computing Systems project goes online.
Anyone—from terrorists and weapons dealers to corporations, financial institutions, and ordinary email senders—can use it to seal their messages, plans, photos, and documents in hardened data shells. For years, one of the hardest shells has been the Advanced Encryption Standard, one of several algorithms used by much of the world to encrypt data. Available in three different strengths—128 bits, 192 bits, and 256 bits—it’s incorporated in most commercial email programs and web browsers and is considered so strong that the NSA has even approved its use for top-secret US government communications. Most experts say that a so-called brute-force computer attack on the algorithm—trying one combination after another to unlock the encryption—would likely take longer than the age of the universe. For a 128-bit cipher, the number of trial-and-error attempts would be 340 undecillion (1036).
Breaking into those complex mathematical shells like the AES is one of the key reasons for the construction going on in Bluffdale. That kind of cryptanalysis requires two major ingredients: super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages and a massive number of those messages for the computers to analyze. The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages. “We questioned it one time,” says another source, a senior intelligence manager who was also involved with the planning. “Why were we building this NSA facility? And, boy, they rolled out all the old guys—the crypto guys.” According to the official, these experts told then-director of national intelligence Dennis Blair, “You’ve got to build this thing because we just don’t have the capability of doing the code-breaking.” It was a candid admission. In the long war between the code breakers and the code makers—the tens of thousands of cryptographers in the worldwide computer security industry—the code breakers were admitting defeat.
So the agency had one major ingredient—a massive data storage facility—under way. Meanwhile, across the country in Tennessee, the government was working in utmost secrecy on the other vital element: the most powerful computer the world has ever known.

The plan was launched in 2004 as a modern-day Manhattan Project. Dubbed the High Productivity Computing Systems program, its goal was to advance computer speed a thousandfold, creating a machine that could execute a quadrillion (1015) operations a second, known as a petaflop—the computer equivalent of breaking the land speed record. And as with the Manhattan Project, the venue chosen for the supercomputing program was the town of Oak Ridge in eastern Tennessee, a rural area where sharp ridges give way to low, scattered hills, and the southwestward-flowing Clinch River bends sharply to the southeast. About 25 miles from Knoxville, it is the “secret city” where uranium- 235 was extracted for the first atomic bomb. A sign near the exit read: what you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.Today, not far from where that sign stood, Oak Ridge is home to the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it’s engaged in a new secret war. But this time, instead of a bomb of almost unimaginable power, the weapon is a computer of almost unimaginable speed.
At the DOE’s unclassified center at Oak Ridge, work progressed at a furious pace, although it was a one-way street when it came to cooperation with the closemouthed people in Building 5300. Nevertheless, the unclassified team had its Cray XT4 supercomputer upgraded to a warehouse-sized XT5. Named Jaguar for its speed, it clocked in at 1.75 petaflops, officially becoming the world’s fastest computer in 2009.
Meanwhile, over in Building 5300, the NSA succeeded in building an even faster supercomputer. “They made a big breakthrough,” says another former senior intelligence official, who helped oversee the program. The NSA’s machine was likely similar to the unclassified Jaguar, but it was much faster out of the gate, modified specifically for cryptanalysis and targeted against one or more specific algorithms, like the AES. In other words, they were moving from the research and development phase to actually attacking extremely difficult encryption systems. The code-breaking effort was up and running.
The breakthrough was enormous, says the former official, and soon afterward the agency pulled the shade down tight on the project, even within the intelligence community and Congress. “Only the chairman and vice chairman and the two staff directors of each intelligence committee were told about it,” he says. The reason? “They were thinking that this computing breakthrough was going to give them the ability to crack current public encryption.”
So kiss PGP goodbye. In fact kiss every aspect of your privacy goodbye.
Yottabytes and exaflops, septillions and undecillions—the race for computing speed and data storage goes on. In his 1941 story “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges imagined a collection of information where the entire world’s knowledge is stored but barely a single word is understood. In Bluffdale the NSA is constructing a library on a scale that even Borges might not have contemplated. And to hear the masters of the agency tell it, it’s only a matter of time until every word is illuminated.
As for the Constitution... What Constitution?
Before he gave up and left the NSA, Binney tried to persuade officials to create a more targeted system that could be authorized by a court. At the time, the agency had 72 hours to obtain a legal warrant, and Binney devised a method to computerize the system. “I had proposed that we automate the process of requesting a warrant and automate approval so we could manage a couple of million intercepts a day, rather than subvert the whole process.” But such a system would have required close coordination with the courts, and NSA officials weren’t interested in that, Binney says. Instead they continued to haul in data on a grand scale. Asked how many communications—”transactions,” in NSA’s lingo—the agency has intercepted since 9/11, Binney estimates the number at “between 15 and 20 trillion, the aggregate over 11 years.”
When Barack Obama took office, Binney hoped the new administration might be open to reforming the program to address his constitutional concerns. He and another former senior NSA analyst, J. Kirk Wiebe, tried to bring the idea of an automated warrant-approval system to the attention of the Department of Justice’s inspector general. They were given the brush-off. “They said, oh, OK, we can’t comment,” Binney says.
In conclusion, the NSA's own whistleblower summarizes it best.
Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.
... And nobody cares.

Immigration reform to gag on

Washington Times ^ | Friday, June 14, 2013 | Wesley Pruden

Sometimes the only antidote for poison is more poison. The body politic just can’t take it any more and throws up everything. The result would suit the Democrats just fine.
The Democrats pushing immigration reform want the issue, not the reform, and they think a defeat they could hang on the Republicans could give them a shot at keeping the Senate and taking the House next November. Then they could enact a law to give everybody who wants one an American passport. This would guarantee unanimous election results, like those in the squalid places the illegals are fleeing.
There’s lots for everybody to gag on, which is how Sen. Harry Reid, the Las Vegas bag man in charge of running the charade in the Senate, is determined to preserve as many poison pills as he can. He has to preserve as much of the stink as he can to keep the Republican gag reflex working.
The main sticking point continues to be border security, which the Democrats have been promising for decades - and the border continues to be the sieve they want it to be. The border can be the party’s ATM machine, stuffed full of prospective new voters. Once here, the illegals can be put in the Democratic voter bank to be “withdrawn” once they’re legalized. Until then, the Hispanics already here and legal are expected to show their gratitude in the usual way.
Andrea Tantaros that the immigration bill as written “has no chance” of passage. “If the border situation is not improved in this bill, this bill won’t pass. It won’t pass the Senate and it has no chance in the House. It won’t become law and we’re wasting our time.”
(Excerpt) Read more at ...


Red is not always red!

From Space






These Two

Obama Cares!

Even Comrades Can't Make This Up: Unions Exempt from Extortion Laws ^ | June 16, 2013 | John Ransom

ModMark wrote: One of the coal plants shut down in Chicago was built ~90 years ago. While upgraded in the 1950's. it still did not meet EPA standards before Obama was elected. These plants were grandfather in when the clean air act was past. These ancient relics should have been converted to natural gas long ago.Do you really want to live next to one of these ancient plants? –in response to Obama Promise Kept: Coal Plants to go Bankrupt with New EPA Carbon Cap

Dear Comrade Mark,

The building was built 90 years ago, but the actual power plant generating electricity is considerably younger than that. And according to the company, the plant either meets “or exceed[s] federal and state emissions requirements” according to thePasadena Star.

And… oh, by the way… the plant did meet EPA standards well before Obama was elected. That’s why one of the largest buyers of renewable energy- Southern California Edison- bought the coal-fired plants in the first place: They generated cheap electricity from that plant that could be sold to the highest bidder, while staying in compliance with EPA requirements for their class. For the buyers it helped subsidize the costs of more expensive “green” energy.
Plane wrote: Re: "Because coal has just been given the death sentence"..... not quite correct....... coal users have to break down and make the capital investment to stop their spewing acid rain forming smoke and soot from their outdated furnaces. –in response to Obama Promise Kept: Coal Plants to go Bankrupt with New EPA Carbon Cap

Dear Comrade Plane,

Why do liberals have such an aversion to just telling the truth? Or reading an entire article?

Enviro-Whackos are jubilant over the EPA regulation that would require coal’s carbon emissions to meet or exceed the carbon emissions that come from natural gas. Short of carbon sequestration- which isn’t really technically possible yet- coal can never match natural gas in carbon emission reductions.  

“If old King Coal isn’t dead already, he’s certainly teetering toward life support,” said Frank O’Donnell, president Clean Air Watch in Washington according to Bloomberg.

The capital investments that you are talking about make coal completely uneconomic, by design.

“So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can,” said candidate Obama “it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

And now he has basically tied this country to a single source of fuel: natural gas.

What happens when activists play the “health and safety” card on natural gas, like they have already started to? What happens when an LNG store goes boom in the middle of Boston Harbor?

Truth001 wrote: When anyone talks about division in this country the immediate thing that comes to mind is columns like this. It has little known value and only appeals to your faithful readers. So if these are the people you attempting to rally mission accomplished, but wait a minute Ransom it really didn't take you to get them there. They were already there. So all the "ad-a-boys" you just gave yourself appear to be just a means to pump up your own ego. –in response to Where's Obama's Outrage Over Murder of "My" Son?

Dear Comrade Pravda001,

You’re lecturing me about divisions?

Tax just the rich? We are the 99%? If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon?

None of that is meant to unite. That’s the fractional math liberals always do.

When people talk about division these days they only have to point to Obama as a prime example. The longer he’s president, the more reckless his policies have become.

I knew that Obama would pursue policies that I would hate, but I thought, based on his campaign rhetoric, that he would try to heal the racial wounds in the country.

But he’s done just the opposite.

Let’s face it, critics have a point: There is a reason why Obama was a member of Rev Wright’s church.    

Jim5522 wrote: Failed Obama policy in Afghanistan John? Do you even recall who and why we were led into this conflict some 10 years ago? Can you explain why Obama was left this war and the Iraq war to finish when he was sworn into office in January 2009? If Bush had accomplished what he swore to do in 2001, then we wouldn't have had to wait until May 2011 for Obama to kill OBL and just maybe this war could have ended years earlier and who knows ... he might still be known as Senator Obama! –in response to Where's Obama's Outrage Over Murder of "My" Son?

Dear Comrade 5522,

Yes. I do recall why we are in Afghanistan.

You don’t though.

19 fanatics hijacked airplanes and rammed them into immovable objects. Their training was in Afghanistan, under the protection of the regime run under Mullah Omar of the Taliban.

42 countries provided troops for the invasion although the core of the troops were provided  by NATO. In the combined House and Senate there was only one vote against the resolution authorizing the invasion of Afghanistan.

Obama’s had a year since the United States Navy killed Osama bin Laden, and the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan has gotten worse, not better. Perhaps George Bush was right- he was by the way- that Osama bin Laden wasn’t that big a deal, strategically. I think events so far have proven that point of view correct. You don’t invade a country with troops from 42 nations to kill or capture a single man.

I mean, I know liberals are fond of big, unwieldy government programs for everything, but I guess until your comments I never understood how rooted the sickness was.

So your theory is that our whole purpose of invading both Afghanistan and Iraq was so that we could kill or capture bin Laden? And then everything would be OK?

I never thought that Obama would be that naïve, but maybe he really thought that too.

The Iraq War was finished before Obama took office, so he can’t claim credit for that. He can get the blame for not keeping a presence in the region and turning Iraq over to Iran politically. That was a really stupid move on his part.

There was no way the Afghanistan war was going to ever end in anything other than defeat the way Obama went at it. Pouring troops into the country was exactly the wrong tack to take.   

Mike wrote: Governments are made up of people. Your post left you open to the question, what do you think is the difference between governments and corporations, as far as being invested with moral qualities? Point of reference: Citizens United. –in response to Gospel According to Democrats: Woman, Behold Thy Government Program!

Dear Comrade Mike,

Neither governments nor corporations are moral. Morality is distinctly a human quality. I think when Romney talked about corporations being people, he meant “made up of people,” not actual human beings.

But that distinction doesn’t mean that corporations can’t have standing in law or in politics. It just means that we should recognize in both governments and in corporations their inability to be moral. They will always act in their own selfish best interest, even if that best interest sometimes looks like it has a moral objective.

We see this in “green” marketing. Do corporations care about “green” because of the altruistic benefit it can give to others? Or do they see “green” as a marketing tool?

Behind “green” marketing is a series of balance sheet and cash flow calculations that, once they come out on the negative side of the ledger, will determine whether “green” marketing is a short-term thing or something that’s a long-term trend.

Take for example autos, which in the late 1970s and early 1980s were all about mile per gallon. As the price of oil went down relative to inflation, automakers stopped caring about miles per gallon and started selling amenities instead. Now that oil is more expensive automakers will care again about miles per gallon.

Human beings are different, in the sense that they have the ability to innately know the difference between right and wrong.

CS Lewis believed that it was this ability to understand the moral absolutes that was the most compelling proof of the existence of God.

Liberals believe that governments are moral and corporations are immoral. Conservatives know that both are amoral.         

Jerome49 wrote: With the clarity of hindsight one can see that the Obama administration has manufactured an issue where none previously existed. Beginning with the George Stephanopolis questioning of Mitt Romney as to whether he believed that states had the right to forbid birth control. Romney said that birth control was not an issue and that it should be left alone, Stephanopolis continued begging the question until the audience began booing him –in response to Gospel According to Democrats: Woman, Behold Thy Government Program!

Dear Jerome,

Exactly right.

The campaign Democrats- mostly Obama- will put on will be a constant challenge to change the subject from the economy to anything that is more polarizing.

The more red meat they can show to conservatives, the better Obama will think things are going.

To the extent that Romney doesn’t fit that “red meat” conservative mold, he probably is the most electable of candidates from that perspective. He’s shown himself to be a pretty disciplined campaigner, content to stay on topic and be boring as long as voters continue to think about the economy.

Conservatives will hate this, but the election is supposed to come down to who can best “manage” the economy. Romney wins that debate as long as he doesn’t make any serious mistakes.

Doctor Roy wrote: Well average income really isn't the gauge to look at. I mean you, me and Bill Gates have an average income of about 3 billion dollars a year. Median family income is the true measure of how most Americans are doing. And that has been falling steadily since 2000. It is part of the systematic assault on the American Middle Class by the Political, Corporate and Bought Priesthood class and doesn't have anything to do with temporary recessions. It is a long term trend and proves that there is class warfare going on but only one side is actually waging it.- Obama Abuses Words as Clinton Abused Women

Dear Comrade Doctor (or Wrong-Again Roy),

As our own contributor Political Calculations has pointed out that income inequality is a mathematical myth.

Personal income distribution has remained about the same:

In fact, the Gini curve associated with the fine PIDs is a constant near 0.51 between 1960 and 2005 despite a significant increase in the GPI/GDP ratio and the portion of people with income during this period (see Figure 1). This is a crucial observation because of the famous discussion on the increasing inequality in the USA as presented by the Gini coefficient for households (US CB, 2000). Obviously, the increasing G for households reflects some changes in their composition, i.e. social processes, but not economic processes as defined by distribution of personal incomes.

To put this more plainly, it’s the composition of households on the lower end of the income scale that has changed rather than income generated itself.

If more and more families, for example, are single parent households, there is only one income that is counted toward household income rather than two.

Since the number of households is skewed toward the lower side of the income scale, they would necessarily be more affected by the change in composition of households in general.

For example, a husband and wife both make $46,000 per year so their household income is $92,000. But if they get divorced their household income is only $46,000. Income inequality? No. Social factors here are contributing to changing the method of accounting.   

We have already confirmed that there has been absolutely no meaningful change in the inequality of individual income earners in the years from 1994 through 2010. If income inequality in the U.S. was really driven by economic factors, this is where we would see it, because paychecks (or dividend checks, or checks for capital gains, etc.) are made out to individuals, not to families and not to households.  

Roy, liberals really should embrace science rather than abuse it for political purposes. You want to support income equality for households? Then support marriage.

Doctor Roy wrote: I asked this question somewhere last week but didn't get an answer. If Corporations don't really pay income taxes- but instead pass it on to consumers- if a particular corporation pays little or no income tax (and there are many of them) could it then be possible that they are just using the statutory rate instead of their actual rate as an excuse to raise prices and outsource jobs overseas?-Obama's Solution to High Taxes: Even Higher Taxes

Dear Comrade Roy,

To paraphrase the movie Billy Madison, I think we are all a little dumber for having listened to your question here today. Your question is another shining example why liberals should NEVER have anything to do with our economy.

Corporations may pass along corporate taxes to customers, but that doesn’t mean that the tax has no effect on them. When a corporation is saddled with high taxes, they raise the price of the products they sell, which means that they sell fewer products and they do so at a lower profit margin. 

Corporations write checks to the government all the time to pay for taxes on their profits.

If you looked at the financial pages all week last week, companies were reporting “earnings;” that is profits. And profits are what really drive the market. 

There are few GEs out there that pay nothing.

Even assuming that your blended mash of words makes some sense, one should ask why companies are going overseas to start with? Why are other countries lowering their statutory tax rates, as you call them, if it doesn’t make the companies more competitive?

Take Illinois for example- where you live.

Why did the state cut deals with Caterpillar and CME and Jimmy Johns to give them tax breaks AFTER raising the so-called statutory tax on corporate profits? The did it because they realized that if they didn’t those companies would leave the state.

Lois01 wrote: Capital-ISM; Conservat-ISM; Patriot-ISM; National-ISM; International-ISM; Deconscructiv-ISM; Antidisestablilshmentarian-ISM; Yes, all ISMs are exactly the same. - The Obamunist-Controlled Press Has a Job to Do on Jobs

Dear Comrade Lois,

I didn’t say that all isms are exactly the same.

What I wrote was: “Obamunism has the same problem that most isms share. People picked it based on emotion and have spent their lives- and their credibility- trying to justifying it based on logic. And emotion, in these cases, always wins out.”

Obamunism, unlike some of the isms that you pointed out (capitalism, conservatism, patriotism, nationalism) is a relatively short lived invention.

Let’s see if it can make it four more years.      

WotanofAZgard wrote: Always funny when GOP twits like Ransom cite the NYT as a credible source when its reporting can be used for rightwing propaganda. -Stop the Liberal Presses: New York Times/CBS Poll Finds Trouble for Obama

Dear Comrade Odin,

It’s nice when you take a break from listening to Zeppelin tunes in the basement and drop the Mein Kampf to make one of your intellectual arguments here on Townhall. You might be the last living person who actually thinks that calling someone a “twit” is going to carry an argument.

There are much better words than “twit.”

Dumb and Dumber Tax Hikes ^ | June 16, 2013 | Mike Shedlock

One of the dumbest things a country can do in a recession is raise taxes. Yet, after pronouncing the end of austerity, Italy's "grand coalition" government, led by Enrico Letta, is going to hike the VAT.

Why? It seems they need to hike the VAT to pay for a decrease in property taxes.

Recall that Silvio Berlusconi was only willing to take part in Letta's grand coalition on condition property tax hikes were rolled back. Letta agreed to do that, but now Letta says Italy needs revenue hikes to make up for it.

Grand Coalition Splintering 

Curiously, the International Business Times reports Enrico Letta's Grand Coalition Could End Italy's 'Lingering Civil War' .

What nonsense. Letta's "grand coalition" is burnt toast already.

Eurointelligence gets it right.
Il Corriere della Sera and other Italian papers are leading with the news that finance minister Fabrizio Saccomanni and another cabinet ministers said yesterday that Italy cannot simultaneously afford to cut the IMU housing tax and not implement an envisaged rise in VAT, and would thus opt to raise VAT.

In its coverage, La Repubblica writes that Saccomanni is now becoming a controversial within the coalition, as Silvio Berlusconi appears to appear chosen him as a target for his verbal attacks. The VAT increase is threatening to drive a gulf between the two largest parties, the PD and Berlusconi’s PdL.
Another Italy Convulsion Coming Up

I agree with the following comments from Eurointelligence: "A rise in VAT is probably the worst thing that can happen right now ... Italy will miss the 2.9% deficit target, since the economy is likely to go into another convulsion once VAT is raised."

Beppe Grillo 5-Star Movement Implodes

As a side note the 5-Star movement of Beppe Grillo is imploding as well. 
Two more MPs have left the Movimento 5 Stelle parliamentary group, the Huffington Post Italia reports, bring the total number to five. Lawmakers Alessandro Furnari and Giuliana Labriola have quit M5S after internal fights, accusing Grillo of being a dictator and the party for failing to make substantive proposals. In an interview, Furnari said the M5S was dying due the Grillo’ mix of inexperience, rawness and vulgar display of ideas without content.

Grillo, meanwhile, has gone again on a verbal rampage. As reported by Il Corriere della Sera, he called the current Italian Parliament an "empty can of tuna." He said it was illegitimate because it was elected under an electoral law that he called is unconstitutional.
Support for Grillo is now down to 14% from over 25% in the election (See Youth Vote Propels Five Star Movement Into First Place as Largest Political Party in Italy).

Reader "AC", from Italy, predicted the rise of Beppe Grillo well in advance of any mainstream media coverage, also told me "Grillo has peaked" shortly after the national election. She called that one correctly as well.

Infighting is everywhere in Italy now.