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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:15 PM

Split Appeals Court Rulings on Obamacare Subsidies; Pizza Party for Obama? How Much Would Premiums Rise?

Earlier today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated a major provision of Obamacare, ruling 2-1 that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for tax subsidies.

No doubt, cheers went out from the anti-Obamacare crowd.

However, just a few hours later, the Richmond Appeals Court  ruled 3-0 the opposite way, citing pizza in its explanation.

Conflicting Rulings

The New York Times reports Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health Care Law.

Two federal appeals court panels issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on whether the government could subsidize health insurance premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange. The decisions are the latest in a series of legal challenges to central components of President Obama’s health care law.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, upheld the subsidies, saying that a rule issued by the Internal Revenue Service was “a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”

The ruling came within hours of a 2-to-1 ruling by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said that the government could not subsidize insurance for people in states that use the federal exchange.

That decision could potentially cut off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the appeals court here said, subsidies are available only to people who obtained insurance through exchanges established by states.

The law “does not authorize the Internal Revenue Service to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal exchanges,” said the ruling, by a three-judge panel in Washington. The law, it said, “plainly makes subsidies available only on exchanges established by states.”

Under this ruling, many people could see their share of premiums increase sharply, making insurance unaffordable for them.

The case is one of many legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act in the last few years. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012, but said the expansion of Medicaid was an option for states, not a requirement, and about half the states have declined to expand eligibility.
How Much Would Premiums Rise?

Marketwatch reports Average Premium Hike is 76% in States Without Federal Subsidies.
A Study from Avalere Health shows that the average health-care premium increase for those who actually lose their subsidies would be 76%. The hike in premiums would be highest in Mississippi, where it would be roughly 94%, as well as Missouri, Georgia, Florida and Alaska.

The map shows just how much the increases are likely to be, and the decision could exempt many of the roughly 4.7 million people who received subsidies and enrolled via federal exchanges. Those who enrolled in states with their own exchanges are not subject to the ruling.

Thirty-six states currently use the federal exchange, but two of those — Idaho and New Mexico — are setting up their own marketplace. That means 16 states plus the District of Columbia will be operating their own exchanges in future years.

Health-Care Premium Rise

Pizza Party

Yahoo!Finance reports A Federal Judge Used Pizza To Explain Why A Key Provision Of Obamacare Is Legal.
Just hours after the Affordable Care Act was dealt a serious blow from a federal appeals court, a different appeals court gave the law a victory — thanks in part to an analogy based on pizza.

Senior Fourth Circuit Judge Andre Davis explained the debate in terms of a pizza order:

If I ask for pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch but clarify that I would  be fine with a pizza from Domino’s, and I then specify that I want ham and pepperoni on my pizza from Pizza Hut, my friend who  returns from Domino’s with a ham and pepperoni pizza has still complied with a literal construction of my lunch order.

That is  this case: Congress specified that Exchanges should be established and run by the states, but the contingency provision permits federal officials to act in place of the state when it fails to establish an Exchange. The premium tax credit calculation subprovision later specifies certain conditions regarding state-run Exchanges, but that does not mean that a literal reading of that provision somehow precludes its applicability to substitute federally-run Exchanges or erases the contingency provision out of the statute.
Question of Intent

The issue is one of intent. Right, wrong, or indifferent, it's highly the Supreme Court will rule on the intent of Congress, not actual wording of ACA, nor whether the alleged intention makes much or any sense.

I suspect Obama will get a reprieve, but it is by no means certain. The outcome may depend on how other courts rule before the Supreme Court accepts the case.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

1:37 PM

Sorting Through All the Possibilities; Ukraine Accuses Russia of Deliberately Downing MH17; Brawl in Ukraine Parliament; Rush to Judgment

Only the person or persons who fired the missile know the truth for sure. Yet Ukraine now says "Russian Officer Downed MH17".

A brawl then ensued in Ukrainian Parliament following a vote to increase troops battling rebels.

Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine's director of informational security, made the accusation in an interview with CNN. The person was "absolutely" a Russian, he said. "A Russian-trained, well-equipped, well-educated officer ... pushed that button deliberately."

Moscow has denied claims that it pulled the trigger. And Russian Army Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov suggested a Ukrainian jet fighter may have shot the plane down.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rejected that in an exclusive interview with CNN, saying that all Ukrainian aircraft were on the ground at the time.

Nayda, speaking to CNN on Tuesday, referred to audio recordings captured by Ukrainian intelligence. "We taped conversations" between a Russian officer and his office in Moscow, Nayda said. "We know for sure that several minutes before the missile was launched, there was a report" to a Russian officer that the plane was coming, Nayda said.

"They knew the plane was coming with constant speed, in constant direction," and should have known it was not a fighter jet but "a big civilian plane," he said.

That recording is not among those that have been released.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, was asked Monday about different intercepted recordings, purportedly of pro-Russian rebels talking about shooting down a plane. Churkin suggested that if they did, it was an accident.

"According to them, the people from the east were saying that they shot down a military jet," he said. "If they think they shot down a military jet, it was confusion. If it was confusion, it was not an act of terrorism."

Pro-Russian rebels have repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack. "This is an information war," rebel leader Alexander Borodai said.
Interested in the Truth

"We don't have the technical ability to destroy this plane. Ukrainians are not interested in the truth," said Borodai.

Actually, whoever did it (Russia, Rebels, Ukraine)  is not interested in the truth. And even if rebels accidentally did it, Ukraine has no interest whatsoever in explaining why MH17 deviated from its flight path.

Yesterday, Pater Tenebrarum outlined Six Who-Done-It Possibilities, summarized in a different order as follows.

  1. Ukraine did it accidentally
  2. Rebels did it accidentally
  3. Russia did it accidentally
  4. Ukraine did it on purpose
  5. Rebels did it on purpose
  6. Russia did it on purpose

Analysis of the Possibilities 

Pieces of the plane with shrapnel holes tend to rule out other possibilities.

Pater suggests, and I concur, numbers 5 and 6 can be discarded. Russia and the rebels had nothing to gain and everything to lose by purposely shooting down a civilian aircraft.

However, Ukraine did have much to gain from doing it on purpose.  This is what we are left with but expanding points number 1 and 2.

  1. Ukraine did it accidentally
    1. Surface to air missile
    2. Air to air missile
  2. Rebels did it accidentally
    1. Complete accident
    2. Steered that way on purpose by Ukraine air traffic control flight deviations
    3. Steered accidentally by air traffic control flight deviations
    4. Steered that way on purpose by Ukraine military flights 
    5. Steered that way accidentally by Ukraine military flights
  3. Russia did it accidentally
  4. Ukraine did it on purpose

Point number 3 is very remote but arguably possible. Russia would have no reason to be firing missiles accidentally or on purpose over Ukraine territory.

Could rebels under outside guidance have made a mistake? Yes, but I distinguish between official actions and that of rogue citizens. The latter I consider part of scenario number 2.

How might Ukraine have done it accidentally?

Easy: On July 17, the New York Times reported Ukraine Says Russian Plane Shot Down Its Fighter Jet.
The Ukrainian government said on Thursday that a Russian military plane had shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet in Ukrainian airspace the previous evening, a serious allegation of direct intervention by Russia’s armed forces.

If confirmed, the confrontation would represent the first open and direct involvement by Russia’s military in eastern Ukraine since the separatist rebellion began there in April.
Scenario Fulfillment

Please note that 1b is not ruled out. Wreckage confirms missile damage of MH17 from that outside, but does not confirm that it was a Buk or even a missile from the ground.

And after accusing Russia of violating its airspace, is it that unlikely a Ukrainian soldier or pilot accidentally pulled the trigger?

For further discussion of "scenario fulfillment" please see Holier than Thou: Why Should Anyone Believe the US, Ukraine, or Russia?

Rush to Judgment

Under the "Lie When It's Serious" thesis, there is no reason to believe any side completely. Yet many have done just that.
I am not ruling out any possibilities other than #6-Russia did this on purpose, and #5-the rebels did this on purpose.

Of the remaining scenarios, the likelihood Russia did this accidentally is remote, once again distinguishing between official actions and that of rogue citizens acting on their own.

Of the reasonable possibilities, only 2a removes some guilt from Ukraine. Even then, Ukraine turned down a ceasefire agreement, which if honored, would have prevented accidents.

Mainstream media and the US government are without a doubt involved in a rush to judgment, much like the ill-fated rush to judgment before the US invasion of Iraq. Senator John McCain and president Obama are particularly obnoxious.

There are lots of questions here, especially in regards to very sloppy video manipulations and accusations by Ukraine.

Accident the Most Likely Answer

The only non-accident scenarios involve Ukraine. Arguably the most likely scenario is "someone by accident".

Please note that the US, Ukraine, and Russia have all shot down civilian aircraft by accident. Thus, all the hype from Obama, McCain, and others over "an accident" is ridiculous.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:51 PM

Holier than Thou: Why Should Anyone Believe the US, Ukraine, or Russia? What is the US Attempting to Hide?

I am quite tired of rhetoric from the Obama administration and Kiev regarding the situation in Ukraine. Hardly any of it is believable.

Indeed, some Ukraine propaganda efforts of Kiev are so amateurish they appear as sloppy acts of desperate coverups.

If so, then it is far more likely Ukraine is the guilty party, not the separatists. If you are innocent, you do not choose such tactics.

What is the US and Kiev Attempting to Hide?

Earlier today, Obama Issued a Stern Warning to Russia coupled with a statement "What exactly are they trying to hide?"

That's a good question. But let me turn the tables by asking: "What exactly is the US and Kiev attempting to hide?"

Challenge From Russia

Please consider Russia Challenges Accusations that Ukraine Rebels Shot Down Airliner.

Russia's Defence Ministry on Monday challenged accusations pro-Russian rebels were to blame for shooting down a Malaysian airliner and asked the United States to produce satellite images to support its assertions.

At a briefing in which generals used flashing radar images on big screens in a state-of-the-art conference room, the ministry said a Ukrainian fighter jet had tracked the airliner despite Kiev's assertions that no aircraft were nearby.

The hi-tech presentation appeared a direct response to video and audio recordings used by Ukrainian security officials to back up their accusations of Russian and rebel involvement - recordings the ministry's comments suggested were fabricated.

"Russian air space control systems detected a Ukrainian Air Force plane, presumably an SU-25 (fighter jet), scrambling in the direction of the Malaysian Boeing ... The distance of the SU-25 plane from the Boeing was from 3 to 5 kilometres (2 to 3 miles)," Air Force Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev said.

"Earlier, Ukrainian officials said that on the day of the Boeing 777 crash there were no military aircraft in the region - as you can see this does not appear to be true."

Another officer, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov, said that, "whether it is a coincidence or not", a U.S. satellite had been monitoring the area at the time.

"We also have some questions for our U.S. partners," he said. "According to the U.S. declarations, they have satellite images that confirm the missile was launched by the rebels. But nobody has seen these images." "If the American side has pictures from this satellite, then they should show the international community."
US Covering Up For Kiev?

I highly doubt that Russia would make those claims unless they could back them up.

Even if so, that does not prove who fired the missile. Yet assuming the presentation is accurate, it does show Kiev lied big time. It also suggests the US is covering up for Kiev.

Given enough time, I suspect the US can doctor those satellite images to show something that isn't there or in this case, remove something that is. Time in this regard is already up.

10 Questions

As I peruse 10 Question for Kiev a number of questions stand out as reasonable requests (assuming of course Kiev has nothing to hide):

2. Can official Kiev give all details related to the use of Buk systems in the combat zone, and especially answer why these systems were deployed, given that the militias have no aircraft?

4. Are representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces prepared to submit to international experts documentation on the inventory of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles installed on their anti-aircraft weapons?

5. Will air control data be provided to the international commission on the movements of Ukrainian Air Force planes on the day of the tragedy?

8. Can official Kiev comment at this time on the report that appeared in social media, allegedly from a Spanish-national air traffic controller working in Ukraine, that the Boeing that was shot down was under escort by two Ukrainian military aircraft?

9. Why has the SBU begun to work with the recordings of communications between air traffic control and the Boeing crew and with Ukrainian radar data, without the involvement of international representatives?

Russia Says Has Photos Of Ukraine Deploying BUK Missiles

Please consider the excellent post by ZeroHedge Russia Says Has Photos of Ukraine Deploying BUK Missiles in East, Radar Proof of Warplanes in MH17 Vicinity
The day the Malaysian airliner crashed, the Ukrainian forces deployed an air defense group of three or four Buk-M1 missile batteries near Donetsk, Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Russian General Staff's Main Operations Department, told reporters on Monday.

"These surface-to-air systems are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 35 kilometers at an altitude of 22 kilometers. For what purpose and against whom were these missile systems deployed? As is known, the militia has no aviation," he said.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, it’s distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a media conference in Moscow on Monday.

“[We] would like to get an explanation as to why the military jet was flying along a civil aviation corridor at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane,” he stated.

Additionally, as Russia noted using what appears to be legitimate photographic evidence (something the west has so far failed to provide in any capacity) MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air ‘Buk’ missile systems, the Russian general said.

“We have space images of certain places where the Ukraine’s air defense was located in the southeast of the country,” Kartapolov noted.

The first three shots that were shown by the general are dated July 14. The images show Buk missile launch systems in about 8km northwest of the city of Lugansk – a TELAR and two TELs, according to the military official.

While the US and Kiev demand much from Russia, both fails to answer any questions leveled at them.

Earlier today Alex Jones on InfoWars offered this reminder: U.S. Plotted to Provoke Shoot Down of Airliner to Create Pretext for War

For those of you who may discriminate against the source, here are some of the examples the article mentions, except with links to Wikipedia and other sources.

US Shoots Down Iran Passenger Flight 655

Iran Air Flight 665
Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai that was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988. The accident took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight's usual flight path. The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the Vincennes.

All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died. In 1996, the United States and Iran reached "an agreement in full and final settlement of all disputes, differences, claims, counterclaims" relating to the incident at the International Court of Justice.

Contrary to the accounts of various USS Vincennes crewmembers, the Vincennes' shipboard Aegis Combat System recorded that the Iranian airliner was climbing at the time and its radio transmitter was "squawking" on the Mode III civilian code only, rather than on military Mode II. The Vincennes tried unsuccessfully to contact the approaching aircraft, seven times on the military emergency frequency and three times on the civilian emergency frequency, but never on air traffic control frequencies. This civilian aircraft was not equipped to pick up military frequencies and the messages on the civilian emergency channel could have been directed at any aircraft.

When questioned in a 2000 BBC documentary, the U.S. government stated in a written answer that they believed the incident may have been caused by a simultaneous psychological condition amongst the 18 bridge crew of the Vincennes called 'scenario fulfillment', which is said to occur when persons are under pressure. In such a situation, the men will carry out a training scenario, believing it to be reality while ignoring sensory information that contradicts the scenario. In the case of this incident, the scenario was an attack by a lone military aircraft.

George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time commented on the incident during a presidential campaign function (2 Aug 1988): "I will never apologize for the United States — I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy."
If the US can't and won't apologize for the downing of a passenger airplane, why should Russia, when it was not even directly involved in the incident?

Bush 'Plotted to Lure Saddam into War with Fake UN Plane'

Please consider The Independent report Bush 'Plotted to Lure Saddam into War with Fake UN Plane'.
George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein's regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair.

The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made when Mr Blair and the US President met in Washington on 31 January 2003 ­ when the British Government was still working on obtaining a second UN resolution to legitimise the conflict.
The leaked memo shows precisely what war-mongering liars were leading the US and UK at the time. 

Operations Northwoods

Finally, please consider the Wikipedia report on Operation Northwoods.
Operation Northwoods was a series of proposals that originated within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals, which called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or other operatives, to commit acts of terrorism in US cities and elsewhere, were rejected by the Kennedy administration.

At the time of the proposal, Cuba had recently become communist under Fidel Castro. The operation proposed creating public support for a war against Cuba by blaming it for terrorist acts.

To this end, Operation Northwoods proposals recommended hijackings and bombings followed by the introduction of phony evidence that would implicate the Cuban government. It stated:

The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.

Although part of the US government's anti-communist Cuban Project, Operation Northwoods was never officially accepted; it was authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then rejected by President John F. Kennedy.
These are the kinds of jackasses in US government. And we are now supposed to believe President Obama and Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko? Please be serious.

By the way, this is not an endorsement for Putin. I am quite sure he can lie just like Obama, Bush, and Poroshenko. Yet, given all the eyes on the data, I highly doubt Russia would make the claims it did unless it could back them up.

Meanwhile, Kiev has made charges, backed up by tampered and easily disproved videos. And the US has offered no direct evidence of any kind, most likely because it cannot.

If and when US does produce a document, so much time has passed it will be highly suspect. If the US had strong evidence, rest assured it would have been released long ago.

Anything released now is likely tampered with.

Reflections on Apologies

Apologies are not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. The US could have and should have apologized to the victims of downed passenger flight 655. If the US cannot apologize, it should not expect any other country to do so.

Hopefully the black boxes released to Malaysia earlier today will provide more evidence, but don't count on it. Instead count on more lies from all involved.

"Lie When It's Serious"

Please remember what Jean-Claude Juncker said in 2011: "When it becomes serious, you have to lie". Juncker is former Luxembourg PM and president-elect of  European Commission.

Scenario Fulfillment
This is certainly pretty serious. Given that Russia has produced more credible evidence than any other country, and given Ukraine has been caught in some very clumsy lies, I am sticking with my assessment that Kiev is responsible, possibly in an act of 'scenario fulfillment'.

If so, the US is purposely aiding Kiev in the coverup. Facts show the US is capable of far worse than lies.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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