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Friday, November 1, 2013

Good Morning, News!

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Don't blame us! The head spymaster at the National Security Agency suggests his people, while tapping the phones of dozens of allied world leaders, were merely following orders from the State Department. Funny that. A little while before, Secretary of State John Kerry had just stepped out as the most senior government critic of the NSA's surveillance, saying it was on "autopilot" and had gone too far.

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower hiding from Yankee death squads in Russia, has taken time from his job hunt to write a cheery letter to the Germans in which he offers to participate in any inquiry that might arise into American spying.

Mortified tech companies, whose data centers have been the NSA's gateway into half the world's dirty business and lack of email punctuation, say they've begun making security fixes meant to thwart the NSA and keep their mistrustful customers from bolting en masse. (That's if you're convinced the line between national security and high-tech isn't so permeable as to be meaningless and that they won't keep quietly helping out when no one's looking.)

Actual policy news about Obamacare! Enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, so far, have come from the law's promised expansion of Medicaid. As in, 90 percent. That's got some nonpartisan experts worried, a bit. And everyone's hoping private enrollments, dogged by website glitches, catch up to balance out costs.

House Republicans are making hay out of documents that show only six actual insurance enrollments on the first day of HealthCare.gov. The website could be headed for better days now that several tech companies have dispatched engineers to help bail the government out.

Poor Joe Biden. A new book, by the people who wrote Game Change, claims we almost missed out on his excellent debate against Paul Ryan because a nervous Team Obama wanted to dump the avuncular veep for the more popular Hillary Clinton. Former Obama aides have made conflicting comments on whether the assertion is true.

Texas' crazy abortion rules, blocked by one court because of a legal challenge, have been reinstated by another even as that legal challenge continues.

An Alabama GOP primary race—where an establishment lawyer is battling a Tea Party businessman—has become the first laboratory for big-business groups and their fight to reclaim the Republican Party's soul from the nihilistic far-right insurgents they sold it to.

The finest drug tunnel in the West was just shut down before, cops say, any drugs went through. The bust makes the $1 million spent to build it—for amenities like an electric rail system, lights, and ventilation—a major waste of cartel money.

The cool new pope is asking local parishes, not his fussy, cloistered cardinals, about how they actually handle dogmatically sensitive issues like birth control, divorce, and same-sex marriage.

Those Vista Bridge suicide barriers... neighbors say it's time to reconsider them.

Comcast is spending big to kill the re-election hopes of Stranger-endorsed Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. They're not happy about McGinn's efforts to line the town with faster, cheaper broadband.

The crack-smoking video allegedly starring the Archie Bunker-esque mayor of Toronto, and first reported by Gawker, and not the Toronto Star, is totally a real thing. Toronto's police chief said it's been recovered from a hard drive as part of an investigation into Mayor Rob Ford's conduct. And that it's "disappointing."

Hallmark is scared of the word "gay." So it's rewritten a timeless Christmas carol.

HALLOWEEN IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD WAS TOTALLY FIERCE THIS YEAR. THAT'S ALL I'M GOING TO SAY.

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