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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 7:54 PM


"No Perry Mason Moment": US Intelligence Admits "No Direct Evidence Linking Russia to MH17"


Earlier today, and several times recently, I received emails accusing me of being a Russian spy and asking me how much I was receiving from RT. I find such accusations highly amusing.

Here's the deal: Few bloggers are willing to discuss MH17 for fear of getting it wrong. Whereas I suspect nearly everything, but especially reports coming from Kiev and the US. My reasons are threefold:

  1. There are more questions surrounding Kiev and US reports than Russian reports.
  2. Kiev has been caught twice in lies and distortions
  3. While neither US nor Russia is unbiased, the extremely one-sided, jump-to-conclusion reporting from Western media suggests close consideration of competing versions of stories is warranted.

No Perry Mason Moment

A few hours ago The Guardian reported US Intelligence: Rebels Likely Shot Down Plane 'By Mistake'.

The Huffington Post has more details in U.S. Officials: No Evidence Of Direct Russian Link To Malaysia Plane Crash.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

The officials briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week's air disaster, which killed 298 people.

The plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

In terms of who fired the missile, "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality," one official said, adding at another point, "There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here."
Step in Likely Direction

That US admission is a step in the likely direction. Unless further information comes in, I am willing to pare my list of possibilities down by one, ruling out an accident by Russia. The list now looks like this.

  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. Ukraine did it on purpose

Could rebels under outside guidance have made a mistake? Yes, but earlier today I stated outside guidance from Russia was part of scenario number 2. Now we see US intelligence makes the same assessment.

Repeating a few thoughts expressed previously ...
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.
With direct Russian involvement now even more unlikely, the list narrows to Ukraine and the Rebels.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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 likely 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
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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