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September 19th, 2014 at 2:43 pm
New Study: Online “Cyberlockers” Facilitating Piracy
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Happy “International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which can make for a bit of harmless office fun on a Friday.

Unfortunately, real piracy of the online variety is no laughing matter.  It costs the American economy billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs each year, and even threatens life and health through such things as counterfeit drugs.

This week, a new report was released highlighting the role played by online “cyberlockers” in facilitating worldwide piracy.  Entitled “Behind the Cyberlocker Door:  A Report on How Shadowy Cyberlocker Businesses Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions,” the report from Digital Citizens Alliance cogently introduces and explains the nature of this problem:

Rogue ‘cyberlocker’ operators peddling stolen content are making nearly $100 million in annual revenues by operating as hubs for the for-profit distribution of infringing digital copyrighted content.  That is the finding of our research looking at the profitability of the leading cyberlockers.  Unlike legitimate cloud storage services whose clients are people and businesses that need to store, access, and share data, the cyberlocker business model is based on attracting customers who desire anonymously to download and/or stream popular, copyright infringing files that others have posted.  The cyberlocker business model is designed around content theft.  In fact, cyberlockers generally pay or provide various incentives to those who distribute popular infringing content and discourage the use of their services for reliable data storage.  As this study shows, the overwhelming bulk of files distributed by cyberlockers infringe copyright.”

For those unfamiliar with the term “cyberlockers,” here is DCA’s definition:

Cyberlockers are online services that are intentionally architected to support the massive distribution of files among strangers on a worldwide and unrestricted scale, while carefully limiting their own knowledge of which files are being distributed.  The link to a user’s file stored on a cyberlocker can be posted to any location for any user to access:  cyberlockers generally place no limits on who can download or stream a file.”

DCA studied 30 sites, and those alone accounted for some $96.2 million in total annual revenue, or $3.2 million per site (one site alone accounting for $17.6 million).  While we must avoid interfering with meritorious technological innovation and the legitimate online marketplace, we must at the same time recognize this emerging problem and advocate corrective social policy to remedy existing piracy threats and deter their spread. Legitimate market participants must therefore determine proper recourse, and elected officials must also begin to consider reasonable avenues to help put a stop to this growing form of theft.

September 19th, 2014 at 8:22 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Lap Dog
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

September 18th, 2014 at 1:41 pm
Gates: Obama’s ISIS Strategy Is “Unattainable”

Intentionally or not, President Barack Obama’s current strategy for defeating and destroying ISIS is “unattainable,” says his first Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.

“…there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [there won’t be troops on the ground], the president in effect traps himself,” Gates said on CBS This Morning.

“I’m also concerned that the goal has been stated as ‘degrade and destroy’ or ‘degrade and defeat’ ISIS,” because it sets an “unattainable” goal.

Gates is speaking from experience. As Defense Secretary for both Obama and George W. Bush, he saw the United States military inflict “some terrible blows” against al Qaeda – including the killing of Osama bin Laden. But even after 13 years of warfare, al Qaeda hasn’t been destroyed or completely defeated.

Ironically, Gates indicated that the bluster of Joe Biden may come closer to the mark. In a speech earlier this month in New Hampshire, the vice president said that ISIS terrorists should know that the United States “will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice…”

Meting out some measure of justice – be it death on the battlefield or convictions for war crimes – to specific ISIS members is a realistic goal, if ground troops are used.

The confusing aspect about Obama’s current ISIS policy is that it is both too little (no ground forces) and too much (complete destruction). Untethered from reality, it’s a strategy that looks like it is set up to fail.

H/T: Weekly Standard

September 18th, 2014 at 1:10 pm
A “Cover-Up” of Healthcare.gov’s Security Risks?

At least one Obama administration official is complaining of a “cover-up” that seeks to conceal “high-risk” security weaknesses in Healthcare.gov, the federal website where millions of Americans input their private health and financial data.

The explosive allegation came to light when House Oversight Committee investigators uncovered an email from a mid-level official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) saying she is “tired of the cover-ups,” and that she intended to give “a truthful update of exactly what was going on” in a status report she was tasked to write.

CMS is the federal agency responsible for overseeing the development, launch and maintenance of Healthcare.gov.

Investigative reporter Sharyl Atkisson broke the story for The Daily Signal.

The timing is particularly bad for CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner who is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee today.

Previous reporting documented specific instances where CMS officials in charge of the website’s security were either mislead or kept in the dark about the portal’s “limitless” security risks.

This new revelation will only increase the suspicion that the integrity of Americans’ private information takes a backseat to whatever saves face for the Obama administration.

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September 16th, 2014 at 7:03 pm
Top Minnesota ObamaCare Insurer Leaving Exchange

The largest player on Minnesota’s ObamaCare exchange is dropping out, and not even the promise of federal subsidies can get it back.

Earlier today PreferredOne – an insurance company that covered 59 percent of Minnesota’s ObamaCare population – announced that it will not offer health care plans next year paid for with ObamaCare subsidies.

Apparently, the decision is being driven by high administrative costs associated with doing business with MNsure. Even after hiring an additional 50 workers to handle the exchange’s post-launch fixes and tweaks, PreferredOne says continuing to participate is financially unsustainable.

The move makes it likely that MNsure’s ObamaCare rates will jump since PreferredOne sold the lowest cost option. Those rates will be released sometime in October – just weeks before the midterm elections.

September 15th, 2014 at 7:02 pm
Harkin Lashes Hillary to ObamaCare

In what some observers presume is an early sign of a presidential run, over the weekend Hillary Clinton spoke at a high-profile political event for Iowa’s retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Though Clinton had her own gaffe, the biggest surprise was how much credit Harkin heaped on her for passing ObamaCare – even though she wasn’t even in Congress!

“One of the things she always worked on was advancing this concept, this idea that health care should be a right and not a privilege in this country,” said Harkin. “So, Hillary was not there when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, she was of course secretary of state, but I want you all to know that her fingerprints are all over that legislation. It would not have happened without her strenuous advocacy in that committee all those years.”

Any hopes Clinton had of distancing herself from a law that only gets more unpopular is gone. All opponents have to do is show her smiling behind a gushing Harkin to make the connection.

Don’t like ObamaCare? Blame HRC.

No conservative could have said it better.

September 12th, 2014 at 6:57 pm
ISIS or ISIL?

If you’re confused about what to call the newest terrorist threat – ISIS or ISIL – Daniel Pipes, the renowned conservative Middle East expert, has an answer.

Whichever one you want.

The Obama administration prefers “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), while almost everyone else uses “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). At first blush, some commentators think they detect a subtle framing effect to blur any possible links between the rise of this group with Obama’s blundering Syria policy.

Pipes isn’t one of them. According to him, “both translations are accurate, both are correct, and both have deficiencies – one refers to a state, the other has an archaic ring.” Pipes should know since he wrote a book about the underlying history that gives rise to the translation difficulty.

Whatever one calls ISIS/ISIL, Pipes rightly focuses on the most important issue: “…ridding the world of this barbaric menace.”

September 12th, 2014 at 1:31 pm
Workers Paying More for Health Insurance under ObamaCare

As ObamaCare’s next open enrollment period draws near, some of the controversial law’s biggest backers are cheering a seven city survey claiming that health insurance premiums associated with it are dropping.

This leads liberal health policy expert Ezra Klein of Vox to say that “Obama’s signature accomplishment is succeeding beyond all reasonable expectation.”

But not if you get your health insurance from your employer, however.

“Employees are on the hook for more and more of their health care costs. Premiums are increasing so slowly in part because employers are continuing to shift toward higher deductibles, requiring employees to pay more out of their own pockets before their health care plans kick in,” explains Sam Baker in National Journal.

Comparing monthly premium rates year-to-year makes sense if that’s the best single indicator of how ObamaCare is impacting paychecks. But it isn’t. For employees working in the real economy the shift to high deductible plans means more out-of-pocket spending every time they visit the doctor.

Translation: ObamaCare makes health insurance for workers more expensive.

When it comes to measuring ObamaCare’s success, we need to make sure we’re looking at the most relevant data. Otherwise, we risk scoring political points at the expense of the truth.

September 12th, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
September 12th, 2014 at 10:18 am
David Horowitz: Stop Playing Nice Guy, Republicans
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our piece this week entitled Senate Democrats and Scorched-Earth Judicial Politics , we note the way in which Senate Democrats habitually play hardball, whereas Republicans tend to play Nerf.  Disturbingly, the Democrats’ methods paid off just days ago:

Just days ago, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which Reid and Obama had packed after ending the Senate filibuster, voted to rehear en banc the Halbig v. Burwell decision from earlier this year…  The full court’s unjustified decision to rehear the case en banc not only unnecessarily obstructs and delays Supreme Court resolution, it appears to be a transparently politicized decision to rescue ObamaCare.  On that note, Harry Reid openly congratulated himself when asked whether his Senate tactics underlie this turn of events by saying, ‘If you look at simple math, it sure does.’”

Famed conservative author David Horowitz agrees in an excellent Washington Times piece today entitled “Why Nice Guys Finish Last in Politics:  Politics is War, but Some GOPers Just Don’t Get It.” His observations are worth quoting at length:

Going into the 2016 election, you can count on Republicans to stay ‘positive,’ to emphasize policy, and above all, not to hit the Democrats where it hurts.  You can also count on Democrats to do just the opposite.  Because they always do…

Democrats have a massive punch in the mouth for Republicans, and it’s always the same punch.  Republicans are painted as racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-poor, selfish and uncaring.  Note that this is a moral indictment.  It defames the character of Republicans like the corporate predator and dog-abuser Mitt Romney.  The only answer to an attack like this is to attack Democrats with an equally potent indictment of their moral character…

How difficult is it to understand this:  If you are perceived by voters as racist or even just selfish and uncaring, they are not going to have the same interest in your policy advice, as Mitt Romney found out in 2012.  Here is what Republicans need to understand to win:  Politics is street war, and there are no referees to maintain the rules – and the ones that infrequently pop up (such as CNN’s Candy Crowley during one of the last presidential debates) are there to bury you.  Attack your opponents before they attack you.  Attack them with a moral indictment;  if well-executed, it will win the day.

And remember that even if you fail to do this to them, they will certainly do it to you.  You can count on that.”

Americans can determine for themselves whether Horowitz’s advice is wise.  But they must also acknowledge that Republican presidential campaigns in recent decades have been more notable for their moderation than their tenacity, whereas the opposite is true of Democratic campaigns.  And which party has won five of the past six popular presidential votes, after the landslide Reagan and Bush victories of the 1980s?

September 12th, 2014 at 7:54 am
Video: An Age of Terror
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the worldwide threat posed by ISIS, the Obama Administration’s response and the need to act urgently and decisively.   

September 10th, 2014 at 7:14 pm
IRS re Lost Emails: Oops, We Did It Again

The Obama administration has a penchant for releasing damaging disclosures on Fridays.

The most recent example was last Friday’s admission by the IRS that – in addition to losing potentially incriminating emails from Lois Lerner’s account – it also can’t find emails from five other employees connected to the conservative targeting scandal.

Two of the five worked in the agency’s Cincinnati office where most of the bad behavior took place. The others include Lerner’s technical adviser, a group manager in the tax-exempt division and a tax law specialist, reports Fox News.

The IRS says all five permanently lost access to emails sought by congressional investigators when their hard drives crashed. The agency’s Inspector General is testing the drives to see if any emails can still be recovered.

Republicans in Congress are not amused.

“The IRS’s ever-changing story is practically impossible to follow at this point, as they modify it each time to accommodate new facts,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said. “This pattern must stop.”

More likely it will continue.

September 9th, 2014 at 7:51 pm
ObamaCare’s Popularity Dropping Ahead of Midterms

“Just 35 percent of voters now support the Affordable Care Act, down 3 percentage points from May, according to a monthly poll by the Kaiser Health Foundation,” reports The Hill.

Moreover, the poll found that 47 percent of respondents feel negatively about the law, otherwise known as ObamaCare.

The RealClearPolitics average of six national polls is even worse: 53.8 percent say they oppose the law, with only 40.3 percent in favor.

Little wonder that the controversial health law is so unpopular. States are continuing to resist Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare’s terms for fear of a Trojan horse spending spree, and consumers are getting shut out of some of the country’s best hospitals.

All this and it is still almost two months until the midterm elections.

President Barack Obama may not be on the ballot this year, but his eponymous health law surely is.

September 9th, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: WH Daily Briefing Book
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

September 9th, 2014 at 11:39 am
Former FEC Chairman Pans So-Called DISCLOSE Act of 2014
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Bradley Smith, Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics and former Federal Elections Commission Chairman, discusses the numerous flaws of the so-called DISCLOSE Act of 2014. 

Listen to the interview here.

September 8th, 2014 at 2:42 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Ambassador Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and author of The Global Vatican — Persecution of Christians in the Middle East;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Andrew Langer, President of the Institute for Liberty — Local Choice Broadcast Reform;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EDT:  Nan Swift, Federal Affairs Manager for the National Taxpayers Union — “No-Brainer” Bills Congress Should Pass; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Marita Noon, Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great — What President Obama Hasn’t Done for American Energy Workers.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

September 6th, 2014 at 10:05 am
The Democratic Shift to the Left
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Bart Hinkle, Editor and Columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, compares the ideological shifts in the two major political parties and the legal challenges facing Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Listen to the interview here.

September 5th, 2014 at 10:51 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
September 4th, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Ramirez: Which Is the Bigger Threat to the United States?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

September 3rd, 2014 at 8:08 pm
Wyoming Latest to Consider Medicaid Expansion

In my column this week, I explain how not every Medicaid expansion through ObamaCare is necessarily a bad thing. The crux of my argument is that states that use the extra money to move the program in a more market-friendly direction – and as a consequence, make it more cost-conscious and consumer-driven – should be given a chance to test their ideas.

This means that Republican governors in Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania – and now perhaps Wyoming – should be given some space before conservatives conflate them with other GOP leaders who simply expanded Medicaid without bothering to wring any reforms from the Obama administration.

Every state is already in the business of participating in Medicaid. If conservatives are willing to consider Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform a step in the right direction, then we should extend the same courtesy to Republican governors who are trying to do something similar with Medicaid.

At least for now.