Court rules most Obamacare subsidies are illegal

obamacare

CNBC reports on a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped nearly 5 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith “We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

36 states did not set up their own exchange. 86% of people (4.7 million people in all) who signed up through Healthcare.gov received subsidies

Does the IRS still have backups of Lois Lerner’s emails?

irs

The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform holds that out as a possibility in their post, “New Testimony: IRS May Still Have Missing Lois Lerner E-mails Backed Up.”

The committee blog notes that an IRS official’s new testimony that the backups may exist is in contradiction to a previous report that they didn’t exist:

During a transcribed interview with congressional investigators on Thursday, July 17, IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane, who supervises the IRS’s targeting scandal document production to Congress, testified that new developments now make him uncertain whether e-mail back-up tapes containing lost e-mails from key IRS targeting official Lois Lerner exist or not. The new testimony is at odds with the June 13, 2014, memo sent to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) by the IRS which reported that the IRS, “Confirmed that back-up tapes from 2011 no longer exist because they have been recycled.” Kane had reviewed the June 13 memo but noted his current uncertainty with investigators.

Here’s what Jeffrey Meyer of Newsbusters focuses on:

On Monday, IRS deputy associate chief council Thomas Kane told the House Oversight Committee that he is unsure whether or not backup tapes of the lost Lois Lerner emails exist.

Despite the potential bombshell surrounding the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, all three network evening news shows, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and the NBC Nightly News, ignored the revelations on Monday, July 21.

Politico reports:

“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t,” he told investigators Thursday, according to a partial transcript released by Oversight Republicans on Monday. The IRS official suggested new information has come to light since the IRS revealed in a June 13 letter to Congress that two year’s worth of Lerner’s emails were lost in a 2011 computer crash.

Lerner was the head of the tax exempt division that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny and has since become a lightning rod for Republicans probing the matter.

The IRS had said no copies of Lerner’s correspondence were available because the IRS at the time only backed up emails for six months on tapes — then recycled the tapes for reuse. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen also testified to the matter before lawmakers. Kane suggested that might not be the case.

Here’s what committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa had to say in response:

“I’m struck by the fact that the IRS attempted to keep a key witness like Mr. Kane away from investigators and only agreed to his appearance after I issued a subpoena for his testimony. Finding out that IRS Commissioner Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS ‘confirmed’ all back-up tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner e-mails. Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct, we now know that wasn’t the case.”

It would appear from all of the above that the focus of the new information should be on the fact that the IRS has previously misled Congress by saying all the emails had been destroyed in the supposed hard drive crash. The new information from Kane would hold out the possibility that backups might still exist. I don’t hold up much hope for that, but this whole chapter in the saga seems to prove the old adage that the cover-up is always worse than the actual scandal.

PA children’s home approved to house immigrant children

umc-home

PennLive.com reports:

A local home for children has been asked by the federal government to prepare itself to take in unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who continue to cross over into the United States.

The United Methodist Home for Children in Mechanicsburg has not taken in any children from Central America yet, and it continues to assist children sent to it from the local county courts systems, the group’s Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Best said Monday. But the agency has been contacted to prepare itself to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied minors, she said.

The home has been approved to receive an Urgent and Compelling Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary shelter services to unaccompanied children beginning in August, according to the home’s President and CEO David Reed.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is meeting with religious leaders to discuss housing some of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in Maryland (via WBAL Radio):

Among those expected at the meeting, officials from Catholic Charities who are asking the federal government for a grant to use St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium to house 50 children.

The children and teens come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Baltimore County Delegate Wade Kach, who is running for the Baltimore County Council seat that includes Timonium, has written a letter to Archbishop Lori opposing the plan.

Last week, I wrote about the plan by Catholic Charities to house the immigrant children at St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium, Maryland. I also previously wrote about CASA de Maryland wanting to house the unaccompanied minor immigrants in Maryland.

50 immigrant children could be housed by Catholic Charities in Baltimore

catholic-charities

Catholic Charities of Baltimore has applied to house 50 unaccompanied minors who have illegally entered the United States across the Mexican border. In January, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops estimated that 60,000 unaccompanied minors would cross the border in 2014.

From Catholic Review:

“The federal government has requested proposals from providers who could assist with providing shelter care and support to these youth, many of whom have experienced significant trauma along the way,” Catholic Charities Executive Director William J. McCarthy Jr. wrote in a July 16 letter to the organization’s employees. “With our expertise in providing services as well as residential and other programming for children and youth at St. Vincent’s Villa, we believe that we are well equipped to provide services for this critical need.”

Located in Timonium, St. Vincent’s Villa serves children and youths with emotional and behavioral challenges. McCarthy also pointed to the organization’s 50-year-old Esperanza Center in Fells Point – which provides services to immigrants, many of whom are Latino – as an example of Catholic Charities’ longstanding commitment to the immigrant community.

Esperanza serves more than 5,500 immigrants annually, and has provided assistance to more than 50 unaccompanied minors each month for the past several months, McCarthy said

.The reason given for the application:

In a conversation with the Catholic Review, McCarthy said that housing children in need is something the church has always done, comparing Catholic Charities’ current efforts to the orphanages Catholic organizations ran in the 19th and early 20th centuries for immigrant children, some of whom lost parents during their travel to the United States. 

More information:

CASA de Maryland wants illegal immigrant children housed in MD

casa-de-md

WBFF reports:

Casa de Maryland, an advocacy group for immigrants, hopes Maryland can reach an agreement with the federal government to find another location to house immigrant children.

At least two other sites have already been rejected including the former Army Reserve center in Carroll County but officials have been quietly negotiating to find other locations to house some of the thousands of immigrant children coming over the border.

Liz Alex with Casa de Maryland says children are fleeing Central America to find their parents who are already in the United States. “We should make sure that these children are housed in humane conditions, that they have access to education and access to legal counsel so that they’re able to pursue their cases,” said Alex.

Democrats criticized initial plans to house children in a facility in Baltimore City and plans to house them in a closed Army Reserve facility in Westminster were halted. In the aftermath of that decision, Gov. Martin O’Malley said the children might be in danger due to some of the conservatives in Maryland. He was later exposed by officials in the administration of Barack Obama as trying to stop that move himself while being critical of the Obama administration’s handling of the situation.

Nanny State: Mexico bans soda ads – is the US next?

mexican-coke

The Daily Beast reports on a BBC story:

After surpassing the U.S. as the most obese country in the world in 2013, Mexico is taking action against ads for high-calorie food and soft drinks. Ads featuring those items will be banned on TV between 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, and between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weekends. The ads will also be restricted in movie theaters. Mexicans, who have the highest rate of diabetes in the world, are also the world’s largest consumers of sugary drinks, with an average of 43 gallons per person a year. The ban comes a year after the government added taxes to high-calorie foods and sugary drinks to combat obesity.

The U.S. has already messed around with print and television ads for different classes of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, so with the current emphasis by liberal nanny-staters, including First Lady Michelle Obama, on obesity I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the U.S.

Howard County Executive (and candidate for Maryland Lt. Governor) Ken Ulman would probably be all for it after the county enacted a ban on sugary drinks that resulted in vendors not being allowed to sell anything but diet soda at a recent Fourth of July event. Luckily, sanity prevailed and Mike Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks in NYC was struck down in court. DC considered a similar ban.

John Bolton raised over $2.3 million in 2nd Quarter

bolton

The Washington Post reports the latest news on former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton:

His political action committee and super PAC (PACs can give limited donations to political candidates, while super PACs can collect unlimited donations for independent expenditures such as campaign ads) — formed to support hawkish candidates and make national security an issue on the midterm campaign trail — raised more than $2.3 million during the Federal Election Commission’s second filing quarter, from more than 20,000 donations. More important, the groups still have about $3 million in the bank ready to burn. Unlike many super PACs, which have spent big during a primary season defined by intraparty squabbles, Bolton’s super PAC has been saving for the big show. Most of the expenditures have been related to consulting and fundraising — and have been minimal.

The author of the piece attributes Bolton’s fundraising to online contributions and direct mail. In addition to specific online fundraising activities, Bolton’s super PAC has been engaged in list building with petitions and sponsored tweets promoting those petitions (on Iran, Israel, and Obama.) The super PAC has $2.5 million on hand.

Bolton’s PAC has $400,000 on hand.  So far, it has given money to Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Terri Lynn Land, Mitch McConnell, Martha McSally, Barbara Comstock, Adam Kinzinger, Robert Dold, and Mike Pompeo.

It doesn’t appear Bolton will be running for President in 2016 at this point, but that could change.

 

Florida tops list of scariest states

scariest-map

Estately ranked the 10 Scariest States in America and Florida topped the list at #1.

Florida’s entry:

The most dangerous state in America is the most likely place to experience a real life Sharknado. Or even a Sharkicane. Both are sometimes accompanied by Sharkning, which is terrifying.

Hurricanes—1st, Shark Attacks—1st, Tornadoes—1st, Lightning3rd, Spiders—5th

The complete top ten:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas
  4. Louisiana
  5. Alabama
  6. North Carolina
  7. California
  8. South Carolina
  9. Mississippi
  10. Virginia

From South Carolina’s listing:

The only thing we have to fear in South Carolina is just about everything.

Murderers—3rd, Shark Attacks—4th, Hurricanes—5th, Spiders—5th, Meth Users—7th

Maryland ranked 25th:

At least there are no bears in Baltimore.

Lightning—5th, Murderers—7th, Dentists—8th

Here are the criteria used:

  1. Bears:  Estimated black bear population per 10,000 square miles (source: Black Bear Society).
  2. Clowns:  The number of clowns per capita available for hire (source: National Clown Directory).
  3. Prison:  Incarceration rate per capita (source: U.S. Department of Justice).
  4. Flying:  Total airline passenger boardings among the 62 largest U.S. airports in 2013 (source: F.A.A.)
  5. Hurricanes:  The number of direct hurricane hits for individual states from 1851-2004 (source:  N.O.A.A.).
  6. Shark Attacks:  Total number of unprovoked shark attacks from 1837-2013 (source: Florida University International Shark Attack File).
  7. Spiders:  Total number of venomous spider species (source: Venombyte).
  8. Snakes:  Total number of venomous snake species (source: Venombyte).
  9. Dentists:  Active dentists per capita (source: Center for Disease Control).
  10. Tornadoes: Average number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles (source: N.O.A.A.).
  11. Heights: Combined rankings for total number of skyscrapers over 700 feet and number of topographically prominent American mountain summits on list of top 50 (sources:  Wikipedia and Wikipedia).
  12. Meth Labs:  Total meth lab busts and seizures in 2012 (source: Huffington Post).
  13. Lightning:  Total number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning between 1959 and 1994 (source:  N.O.A.A.).

Here are the complete rankings:

scariest-chart

More on Estately:

Estately is a national online real estate search site whose articles have been featured in the The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNET, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, GeekWire, The Denver Post, and more.

South Carolina ranked #1 in Most Patriotic States

patriotic-states

Movoto (via The State) ranks the 10 Most Patriotic States:

  1. South Carolina
  2. Maine
  3. North Carolina
  4. Wyoming
  5. Virginia
  6. Florida
  7. Georgia
  8. Alaska
  9. Alabama
  10. Arizona

Maryland ranks 30th.

The criteria used for the rankings:

  • National Historic Landmarks per Capita
  • Veterans per Capita
  • Money Spent to Fund Veterans
  • Percent of Residents That Voted in the Last Presidential Election
  • People Who Google For American Flags to buy
  • People Who List America as an Interest on Facebook

Baltimore ranks 3rd in Top 10 Worst Rat Cities in the World

rats

Animal Planet ranks the Top 10 Worst Rat Cities in the World and Baltimore is #3:

Baltimore’s rat problem is bad enough that at one point, rats tunneled so intensely beneath a particular area of pavement that when garbage collectors drove over it, their truck sunk up to its axles. Rats in the vicinity took full advantage of the mishap and swarmed the truck, gorging on the garbage inside.

Baltimore also enjoys the dubious distinction of being a hotspot for rat-related research, beginning during World War II and continuing today, much of it carried out at Johns Hopkins University.

The full list:

  1. New York
  2. Boston
  3. Baltimore
  4. Chicago
  5. New Orleans
  6. Atlanta
  7. London
  8. Paris
  9. Rat Island (The Aleutians)
  10. Deshnoke, India