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Kentucky governor takes 480,000 poor people hostage, writes ransom note to federal courts

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) issued a highly unusual executive order on Tuesday that would strip health care from nearly half-a-million of his state’s poorest residents if courts strike down a series of dubiously legal changes Bevin plans to make to his state’s Medicaid system.

Last week, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma issued a guidance permitting states to cut of Medicaid coverage for many individuals unless their comply with a work requirement or a similar obligation. Currently, 80 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries work, and the vast majority of those who don’t are either ill, disabled, currently enrolled in school, or are working as unpaid caregivers.

Bevin followed up that announcement this week with a proposal to make 1.2 million Medicaid enrollees pay monthly premiums, while also imposing work, community service, or job training requirements on them. These changes are widely expected to be challenged in court as inconsistent with federal Medicaid law. The National Health Law Program, which is likely to spearhead litigation against Bevin’s proposed changes, estimates that those changes could cause “more than 95,000 low-income Kentuckians to lose health care coverage.”

Which brings us to Bevin’s executive order. The order, which Bevin filed on Friday, instructs state officials to “take necessary steps to terminate Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion” if any part of Bevin’s Medicaid plan is struck down in court, and that decision is upheld on appeals.

An estimated 480,000 Kentuckians benefit from the Medicaid expansion, which was enacted into law through the Affordable Care Act. So Bevin is essentially engaged in an act of extortion against judges and against any lawyers tempted to file suit against his proposed changes. They must either allow Bevin to strip health care from 95,000 people, or five times as many people will lose health coverage.

There is a colorable argument that Bevin’s tactic is illegal. In the post-Civil War case United States v. Klein, the Supreme Court warned that there are strict limits on Congress’ power to direct the Supreme Court to rule a certain way in an ongoing case. “It is the intention of the Constitution,” the Court warned, “that each of the great co-ordinate departments of the government — the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial — shall be, in its sphere, independent of the others.”

Bevin’s executive order amounts to a similar attack on judicial independence, because it essentially threatens a catastrophic consequence should the courts rule against him.

Similarly, Article VI of the Constitution provides that “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Bevin’s act of extortion effectively denies this principle. If Bevin’s plans violate federal law, then federal law is supposed to be supreme, and Kentucky must bend to it. Bevin, however, hopes to weasel out of this consequence by threatening to harm poor people if he loses a lawsuit and then hoping this threat will coerce judges into ruling in his favor.

In any event, Bevin is playing with fire with his tactic of threatening to harm third parties if courts do not do his bidding. If Bevin can engage in extortion to strip health care from some of his states’ poorer residents, than other governors or a future Congress could deploy similar tactics.

The next Democratic Congress, for example, could pass a single-payer health plan, then discourage the Republican-controlled Supreme Court from striking it down by including a provision doubling taxes on upper-income earners if the health plan is declared unconstitutional.




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deezil
2 hours ago
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My governor. Hard at "work"
Louisville, Kentucky
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Kentucky weighs getting rid of separate election for governor, top officials

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By Daniel Desrochers | Lexington Herald-Leader FRANKFORT — Since 1895, Kentucky has elected its constitutional officers in odd number years. The legislature is hoping voters will change that in 2018. Legislators have proposed two bills, SB 4 and HB 2, that would change the constitution so Kentuckians would vote on the constitutional offices, like governor […]
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deezil
5 hours ago
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Yes please.
Louisville, Kentucky
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Serial SWATter Tyler “SWAuTistic” Barriss Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter

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Tyler Raj Barriss, a 25-year-old serial “swatter” whose phony emergency call to Kansas police last month triggered a fatal shooting, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces up to eleven years in prison.

Tyler Raj Barriss, in an undated selfie.

Barriss’s online alias — “SWAuTistic” — is a nod to a dangerous hoax known as “swatting,” in which the perpetrator spoofs a call about a hostage situation or other violent crime in progress in the hopes of tricking police into responding at a particular address with potentially deadly force.

Barriss was arrested in Los Angeles this month for alerting authorities in Kansas to a fake hostage situation at an address in Wichita, Kansas on Dec. 28, 2017.

Police responding to the alert surrounded the home at the address Barriss provided and shot 28-year old Andrew Finch as he emerged from the doorway of his mother’s home. Finch, a father of two, was unarmed, and died shortly after being shot by police.

The officer who fired the shot that killed Finch has been identified as a seven-year veteran with the Wichita department. He has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Following his arrest, Barriss was extradited to a Wichita jail, where he had his first court appearance via video on FridayThe Los Angeles Times reports that Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and could face up to 11 years and three months in prison if convicted.

The moment that police in Kansas fired a single shot that killed Andrew Finch (in doorway of his mother’s home).

Barriss also was charged with making a false alarm — a felony offense in Kansas. His bond was set at $500,000.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told the The LA Times Barriss made the fake emergency call at the urging of several other individuals, and that authorities have identified other “potential suspects” that may also face criminal charges.

Barriss sought an interview with KrebsOnSecurity on Dec. 29, just hours after his hoax turned tragic. In that interview, Barriss said he routinely called in bomb threats and fake hostage situations across the country in exchange for money, and that he began doing it after his own home was swatted.

Barriss told KrebsOnSecurity that he felt bad about the incident, but that it wasn’t he who pulled the trigger. He also enthused about the rush that he got from evading police.

“Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that,” he wrote in an instant message conversation with this author.

In a jailhouse interview Friday with local Wichita news station KWCH, Barriss said he feels “a little remorse for what happened.”

“I never intended for anyone to get shot and killed,” he reportedly told the news station. “I don’t think during any attempted swatting anyone’s intentions are for someone to get shot and killed.”

The Wichita Eagle reports that Barriss also has been charged in Calgary, Canada with public mischief, fraud and mischief for allegedly making a similar swatting call to authorities there. However, no one was hurt or killed in that incident.

Barriss was convicted in 2016 for calling in a bomb threat to an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to two years in prison for that stunt, but was released in January 2017.

Using his SWAuTistic alias, Barriss claimed credit for more than a hundred fake calls to authorities across the nation. In an exclusive story published here on Jan. 2, KrebsOnSecurity dissected several months’ worth of tweets from SWAuTistic’s account before those messages were deleted. In those tweets, SWAuTistic claimed responsibility for calling in bogus hostage situations and bomb threats at roughly 100 schools and at least 10 residences.

In his public tweets, SWAuTistic claimed credit for bomb threats against a convention center in Dallas and a high school in Florida, as well as an incident that disrupted a much-watched meeting at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in November.

But in private online messages shared by his online friends and acquaintances SWAuTistic can be seen bragging about his escapades, claiming to have called in fake emergencies at approximately 100 schools and 10 homes.

The serial swatter known as “SWAuTistic” claimed in private conversations to have carried out swattings or bomb threats against 100 schools and 10 homes.

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deezil
10 hours ago
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Fuck this guy. People that do this stuff are scum of the earth.
Louisville, Kentucky
angelchrys
10 hours ago
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Overland Park, KS
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Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert

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The Honolulu Civil Beat has tweeted a screenshot of the interface that was used to send an real alert for a nonexistent incoming ballistic missile on Saturday morning.

Fake Hawaii Missile Alert

Instead of selecting “DRILL - PACOM (CDW) - STATE ONLY” from what looks more like a list of headlines on The Drudge Report than a warnings & alerts menu, the operator chose “PACOM (CDW) - STATE ONLY” and sent out a real alert.

The design for this is obviously terrible. As others have noted, there are better interfaces for confirming much more trivial actions on our phones. In Mailchimp, the service that powers the Noticing newsletter, you are asked to manually type in the word “DELETE” as a confirmation for deleting a template (an action a tiny bit less consequential than sending out a ballistic missile launch alert):

Mailchimp Delete

But the response to the false alarm has been worse. The employee who triggered the erroneous alert has been “reassigned” and, as the news cycle continues to wind itself up, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were soon fired. And the fix for this, again per the Honolulu Civil Beat, is the addition of the “BMD False Alarm” link at the top of the menu, presumably so that if a real alert is sent out again in the future, it can be followed by a message saying, “actually, that was a drill”.

Hopefully this, uh, “redesign” is temporary and a full overhaul is in the works. That menu is a really dangerous bit of interface design and adding an “oopsie, we didn’t mean it button” doesn’t help. The employee made a mistake but it’s not his fault and he shouldn’t be fired for it. The interface is the problem and whoever caused that to happen — the designer, the software vendor, the heads of the agency, the lawmakers who haven’t made sufficient funds available for a proper design process to occur — should face the consequences. More importantly, the necessary changes should be made to fix the problem in a way that’s holistic, resilient, long-lasting, and helps operators make good decisions rather than encouraging mistakes.

Tags: design
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deezil
11 hours ago
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There should be at least two safety checks built into this. You're telling people legitimately to fear for their lives, and all you do is click a link with (probably) no confirm, no countdown timer, and no supervisory approval. All the money in the government budget for defense, and this is what we get.
Louisville, Kentucky
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6 Cheap Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop is easily the industry standard when it comes to graphic and photo editing. We don’t just edit a photo these days, but we ‘photoshop’ it—but ‘shopping things with the real deal isn’t cheap.

Working on a subscription plan basis, it’ll cost you from $9.99 a month, depending on the package you select. Crucially, you’re renting the product—you’ll never actually own a Photoshop license.

Fortunately, if you’d rather spend a one-off fee and actually own a software license for your chosen product, there are numerous alternatives out there. We’ve taken a look at some of the best. Some options are entirely free, while others are browser based, so there should be something that’s perfect for you, regardless of your situation.

GIMP (Free)

For many years, GIMP has been touted as the ideal free alternative to Photoshop. There’s a good reason for that—it offers very similar functionality to Adobe’s behemoth.

Providing many professional level features, it includes layers, customizable brushes, filters, and automatic image enhancement tools for those short on time. It further expands its potential through a huge number of plugins, thanks to its very active community. Effectively, it’s in constant development. New features are commonplace, while bugs are few and far between.

The downside? There’s no native support for RAW files—a key component in photo editing—you have to install an additional plugin straight away for such functionality. Also, GIMP’s highly customizable interface can be intimidating for novice users. While Photoshop is instantly accessible, GIMP requires a little tweaking and manipulation to get things how you like them to look, although recent updates have made it look more like its main competition.

It’s worth sticking with, of course, given it’s entirely free to use, but for the novice user, it might take a little time to gel.

Photo Pos Pro 3 (Free/Premium $30)

Photo Pos Pro 3 doesn’t have the most memorable of names, but it’s fast growing into an ideal free Photoshop alternative. Its focus is on offering interfaces that appeal to both novice and more advanced users. For the newbies, there are one-click filters and automatic adjustments a tap away at all times, while advanced users can enjoy more Photoshop levels of tweaking. In both cases, it’s pretty intuitive, providing you with a near non-existent learning curve.

Layers and layer masks are provided, along with clone and healing brushes, and the usual bunch of color refinement tools. Plugin support ensures plenty of functionality for the future too.

Entirely free when using files up to 1,024 x 2,014, the price rises to $30 if you like what you see and want to manipulate larger files.

Affinity Photo ($50)

Originally a Mac only option, Affinity Photo is now available for both Windows and Mac, and it’s making waves for those keen for a non-subscription based image editing tool.

Affinity Photo offers up a series of different modules which are basically different dedicated workspaces for your chosen task. Including choices such as Photo, Liquify, Develop, and Export, each comes with its own set of tools so you shouldn’t be too overwhelmed as you progress. The tools are vast though, so you’ll be diving into some tutorials to fully grasp everything that’s going on here.

It’s easily on a par with the vast majority of features Photoshop provides, and there’s built-in support for Photoshop format files. It’s an easy switch over if, for instance, you’ve just cancelled a Photoshop subscription. Throughout, Affinity Photo is impressively speedy at actioning your adjustments, so it’s great for impatient types.

Pixelmator ($30)

A Mac only solution, Pixelmator won’t be for everyone, but it is the app that everyone mentions when a new Mac owner is looking for suggestions.

It’s arguably not quite as powerful as some options here, lacking RAW support and batch editing functionality, but it’s ideal for those with more amateur needs. With layer based editing and a wealth of filters, it taps into the home user need to correct photos on an one-by-one basis rather than en masse. Some of the filters are pretty interesting too such as the kaleidoscope effect.

Pixelmator looks a lot like Photoshop, despite being simpler at heart, ensuring you can dive straight into action and know roughly what you’re doing. At least until you realise that sliders are less of a thing here with more of a focus on drag and drop.

For those keen to enjoy more professional features, there’s also the option of trying the recently launched Pixelmator Pro. It’s twice the price at $60, but it fixes all the issues of its predecessor such as RAW support, batch editing, and providing a non-destructive working environment.

Adobe Photoshop Express (Free)

Want the Photoshop name but free and fairly limited? Adobe Photoshop Express is that alternative. It’s fairly simple stuff, but it’s convenient if you’re in a rush or want a browser based solution.

Available for Windows, iOS, and Android, as well as through your browser, it’s straight forward stuff. You can easily deploy the basics like cropping, rotating, and removing red-eye. Additionally, there are blemish removal tools, removing spots and dirt from your photos in one touch, along with an auto-fix mode that corrects contrast, exposure and white balance in no time. There are filters and borders to choose from but you’re probably going to want to focus on the neat quick improvements that Photoshop Express can complete.

This is no grand alternative to a ‘proper’ image editing software package, so don’t expect layers. However, it’s great for those times when you don’t want to spend ages tweaking a photo. There’s RAW support too which is particularly useful for amateur snappers.

Pixlr (Free)

Pixlr isn’t like the other solutions here. Entirely web based, it’s free thanks to some fairly prominent banner ads, but perfect for when you can’t install software. (Assuming your browser has Flash, that is.)

The usual bunch of Photoshop-style tools are here from color adjustment to automatic optimization. There are plenty of filters to apply too, along with brushes, healing and clone tools. Layers and masks are supported as well, meaning Pixlr has covered pretty much all the bases.

Its only real downside is its lack of batch editing and its reliance on Flash. Otherwise, it’s pretty great for when you don’t need a permanent fix for your photo editing needs.

Image by Caio Resende/Pexels.

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deezil
1 day ago
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Also paint.net . Been using it for years, and its feature set is perfect for a lot of users.
Louisville, Kentucky
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justspaceout: I feel like this is what writing in the 20′s was...

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justspaceout:

I feel like this is what writing in the 20′s was like.

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deezil
2 days ago
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Louisville, Kentucky
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