by ZERO HEDGE | MAY 22, 2015
For the past three years, the biggest argument supporters of Obamacare would trot out every single time when faced with opposition to the mandatory tax, would be that despite widespread predictions of soaring prices, US medical care service costs had remained low and even, on occasion, declined (we leave aside the lack of discussion about soaring deductibles which are recurring “one-time” charges incurred whenever anyone does need medical care, and whose weighted impact on overall medical outlays is dramatic).
A big reason for this delayed increase in prices is that many insurers were unable to gauge the full base-effect impact of Obamacare on their P&L: after all, effective implementation of Obamacare had been materially delayed thus preventing an apples to apples comparison of incurred fees versus revenues.
All that changed moments ago when core US inflation finally spiked the most since 2013 driven by a 0.7% monthly surge in medical care service costs: the highest since 2007!
What’s far worse for the troubled US consumer, this is just the beginning. Because after finally digesting the true cost of Obamacare, any recent insurance prime hikes will seem like a walk in the park compared to what is coming.
According to the WSJ, key insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law.
Case in point:
In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016.
In Tennessee, the biggest insurer BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase.
In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products.
In Oregon, the largest insurer Moda Health seeks an average boost of around 25%.
All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.
The irony is that while the Obama administration “can ask insurers seeking increases of 10% or more to explain themselves, but cannot force them to cut rates. Rates will become final by the fall.”
Why the explosion in costs? Simple: take on look at the IBB or any other biotech index, all of which have exploded in recent years as a result of one key thing: pushing prices of medicines ever higher. Now, finally, these soaring prices which have likewise resulted in soaring stock prices, are about to be funded by everyone else.
Insurers say their proposed rates reflect the revenue they need to pay claims, now that they have had time to analyze their experience with the law’s requirement that they offer the same rates to everyone—regardless of medical history.
Health-cost growth has slowed to historic lows in recent years, a fact consumer groups are expected to bring up during rate-review debates. Insurers say they face significant pent-up demand for health care from the newly enrolled, including for expensive drugs.
“This year, health plans have a full year of claims data to understand the health needs of the [health insurance] exchange population, and these enrollees are generally older and often managing multiple chronic conditions,” said Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group. “Premiums reflect the rising cost of providing care to individuals and families, and the explosion in prescription and specialty drug prices is a significant factor.”
David Axene, a fellow at the Society of Actuaries, said some insurers were trying to catch up with the impact of drugs such as Sovaldi, a pricey pill that is first in a new generation of hepatitis C therapies.
Now Sovaldi has been great news for one group of consumers: those who were long the stock of drug maker Gilead. Alas, now the time has come to pay the piper. And while Sovaldi’s cost at $1,000 per pill and $84,000 for a typical 12-week course of treatment, has been a goldmine for GILD, the piper’s invoice will be massive.
Who pays it? Why everyone dear America. That’s the magic of socialized medicine the Obamcare tax, which means everyone has to chip in for the healthcare of the few. Meanwhile, GILD shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.
As a result, expect Obamacare premiums, which are about to spike across the board virtually everywhere, to become a key talking point:
Insurance premiums have become a top issue for consumers and politicians as they evaluate how well the law is working. Obama administration officials weathered a storm as some younger, healthier consumers saw their premiums jump when the law rolled out, but were also able to point to modest premiums overall as insurers focused on other ways to keep costs down, such as narrow provider networks.
For 2015 insurance plans, when insurers had only a little information about the health of their new customers, big insurers tended to make increases of less than 10%, while smaller insurers tried offering lower rates to build market share.
Since the insurers have now had a chance to evaluate the impact of Obama’s landmark tax on the top- and bottom-line, they have decided that they will need to charge the mandatorily insured Americans more. Much more. After all, it’s not like Americans have much of a choice to say no to a “mandatory” tax.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CareFirst in Maryland and Moda in Oregon all said high medical claims from plans they sold over insurance exchanges spurred their rate-increase requests.
The Tennessee insurer said it lost $141 million from exchange-sold plans, stemming largely from a small number of sick enrollees. “Our filing is planned to allow us to operate on at least a break-even basis for these plans, meaning that the rate would cover only medical services and expenses—with no profit margin for 2016,” said spokeswoman Mary Danielson. The plan’s lowest monthly premium for a midrange, or “silver,” plan for a 40-year-old nonsmoker in Nashville would rise to $287 in 2016 from $220.
* * *
Moda Health said that with more than 100,000 individual members, it had the best data “on the care actually being received by these Oregonians. Our proposed rates reflect that.”
Under Moda’s proposal, a 40-year-old nonsmoker in Salem would pay $296 a month in 2016 for a silver plan, up from $245 a month this year. “It is a balance,” said Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali of her rate-review process.
But wasn’t the Affordable Care Act supposed to make healthcare prices more, well, a?. Well no, as we have explained time and again, most recently last summer.
But the biggest irony: just as Obamacare was the primary reason for the US Q3 GDP surge to 5%, as we explained last December, fooling many pundits into believing the US economy was finally in a self-sustaining liftoff mode…
… so this year it will be up to Obamacare to single-handedly pump up core CPI inflation – that biggest missing link from the Fed’s “successful monetary policy” checklist.
As for US consumers? Why, they are about to get the short end of the stick again, as any and all “gas savings” now and in the future, will be once again spent on, you guessed it, health insurance.
The problem with that being that unless oil crashes again, there are no gas-savings to be had. Which means one thing: the only thing crushed yet again will be the US consumer, that 70% component of US GDP.
But don’t worry: when the US economy slows down to a crawl once more, and posts a negative GDP print this time during the summer, there will be a double seasonal adjustment for that.
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act
By Maggie Ybarra – The Washington Times – Thursday, May 21, 2015
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.
The FBI did finally come up with procedures to try to minimize the information it was gathering on nontargets, but it took far too long, Mr. Horowitz said in the 77-page report, which comes just as Congress is trying to decide whether to extend, rewrite or entirely nix Section 215.
Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.
The new report adds ammunition to those opponents, with the inspector general concluding that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.
“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the inspector general concluded — though he said agents did view the material they gathered as “valuable” in developing other leads or corroborating information.
The report said agents bumped their number of bulk-data requests under Section 215 from seven in 2004 to 21 in 2009 as a result of technological advances and legislative changes that the intelligence community believed expanded the reach of the law.
Increasingly, that meant scooping up information on those who weren’t targets of a terrorism investigation, Mr. Horowitz said. He said that while Section 215 authority allows the government to do that, the FBI needed more checks to make sure it was using the power properly.
“While the expanded scope of these requests can be important uses of Section 215 authority, we believe these expanded uses require continued significant oversight,” he concluded.
The report was an update to a previous study done in 2008 that urged the department to figure out ways to minimize the amount of data it was gathering on ordinary Americans even as it was targeting terrorists.
In Thursday’s report Mr. Horowitz said the administration finally came up with procedures — five years later. He said it never should have taken that long but that he considers that issue solved.
The report was heavily redacted, and key details were deleted. The entire chart showing the number of Section 215 requests made from 2007 through 2009 was blacked out, as was the breakdown of what types of investigations they stemmed from: counterintelligence, counterterrorism, cyber or foreign intelligence investigations.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is slated to expire at the end of this month. The House, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, passed a bill to renew it but also to limit it so the government could no longer do bulk collection such as the NSA phone data program. That legislation is known as the USA Freedom Act.
But Senate Republican leaders have balked, insisting the NSA program and Section 215 should be kept intact as is.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is leading the fight to protect the NSA program, is counting on his opponents not being able to muster the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, leaving them with the choice of either extending Section 215 or seeing all of the powers expire — including those that would go after specific terrorist suspects. Mr. McConnell believes that, faced with that choice, enough of his colleagues will vote to extend all of the powers.
FBI Director James B. Comey asked Congress this week to make sure Section 215 and two other parts of the Patriot Act, also slated to expire at the end of the month, are preserved. Those other powers include the ability to target lone wolf actors and to switch wiretaps if suspects switch their phones.
As for Section 215, Mr. Comey said Congress should at least preserve the power to go after individuals’ records.
“If we lose that authority, which I don’t think is controversial with folks, that is a big problem,” he said Wednesday at a forum at the Georgetown University Law Center.
But most of the Section 215 debate has revolved around bulk collection. Earlier this month a federal appeals court ruled that the Patriot Act does not envision the kind of phone program the NSA has been running, which gathers and stores five years’ worth of records of the numbers, dates and durations of calls made in the U.S.
For anti-bulk surveillance advocates, Thursday’s report further undermines Section 215.
“This report adds to the mounting evidence that Section 215 has done little to protect Americans and should be put to rest,” said American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Alex Abdo.
Bulk data collection creates false leads, ties up investigative resources and, essentially, undermines national security, said Stephen Kohn, an attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP and advocate for government whistleblowers. Also, increased FBI dependency on that bulk data collection indicates that the agency is lacking the appropriate resources for conducting successful counterterrorism operations, Mr. Kohn said.
“They have a large amount of agents who are working counterterrorism that have no human resources, no leads, no infiltrations, so they have nothing else to do,” he said. “In other words, when they staffed up and made [counterterrorism] a major priority, these agents need to do something. And they’re doing what they know to do, and that’s electronic surveillance.”
But former FBI agents said opponents wanted to callously cripple one of the government’s investigative agencies by depriving it of a critical data collection tool at a time of new terror threats.
“ISIS is singing a siren song, calling people to their death to crash on the rocks — and it’s the rocks that ISIS will take credit for,” said Ron Hosko, president of Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant director of the FBI. “They’re looking for those who are disaffected, disconnected and willing to commit murder. So if we’re willing to take away tools, OK, congressman, stand behind it [and] take the credit for putting the FBI in the dark.”
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/21/fbi-admits-patriot-act-snooping-powers-didnt-crack/#ixzz3asw6Le8i
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All over the globe, people are recording extremely loud sounds coming from the sky
by MICHAEL SNYDER | END OF THE AMERICAN DREAM | MAY 22, 2015
All over the globe, people are recording extremely loud sounds coming from the sky.
In many instances, these ominous noises sound like someone is blowing a trumpet.
So what are we supposed to make of these “apocalyptic” sounds? Should we be concerned? Well, what we do know is that this is truly a global phenomenon. In addition to being heard at locations all over the United States and Canada, these sounds have also been recorded in Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, England, Costa Rica, Ukraine and France. If you go to YouTube and type in “strange sounds”, you will literally get hundreds of results from all over the planet. Of course there are many scientists that insist that there must be a “rational explanation” for these strange sounds. Some theories have suggested fracking, “rock bursts”, venting of high-pressure gas, atmospheric pressure or the natural “background noise” of our planet as the causes of these sounds, but so far none of those theories have been proven. But two things seem certain – these noises sure are creepy, and they just keep on happening.
And this phenomenon is now really starting to get a whole lot of attention. Just within the last month, there have been headlines about it in major new sources all over the planet. For instance, the following is a brief excerpt about this phenomenon from an article in the New York Post…
Video clips from around the world have captured an evil-sounding ‘trumpet’ noise coming from the sky — but no one can explain exactly what it is.
A number of people have filmed the bizarre sound over the past 10 years with the latest coming from Germany.
Video of this most recent incident that happened in Germany is posted below. What do you think could possibly be making this noise?…
As I discussed above, similar sounds have been recorded all over the globe in recent years. Very quickly, let me share four examples with you.
This first one comes from British Columbia, Canada…
This next one was recorded in Allen, Texas…
Personally, I have no idea what is causing these sounds. But so many people around the world are experiencing them that it seems to rule out a hoax.
So how can we explain them?
The following theories were put forward by the Daily Mail…
Tectonic plates grinding – Tectonic plates are pieces of the Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick and consist of two principal types of material: oceanic crust (also called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium).
Atmospheric pressure – Atmospheric pressure is defined as the force per unit area exerted against a surface by the weight of the air above that surface.
Trains shunting – Self explanatory – noise comes from trains in reaction to the track and overhead wires.
Construction – Building works, especially if going on at the same time across a specific area, can led to similar sounds.
Aliens – Can this be an alien lifeform in the sky, perhaps scouring out Earth?
HAARP weapon – Rumours persist that the U.S. government uses secret weapons in the sky for defence and weather modifying, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). This wouldn’t explain the sounds in other countries however…
The Apocalypse and the Seven Trumpets of Heaven – Seven trumpets are sounded, one at a time, to cue apocalyptic events that were seen in the vision of the Revelation of Christ Jesus, by John of Patmos. Somewhat more worrying as it would signal the end of the world…
The scientists at NASA have a different explanation. What they think is being heard is simply the natural background noise that our planet is constantly producing…
According to NASA, it could be the earth’s ‘background noise’.
A statement from the agency said: ‘If humans had radio antennas instead of ears, we would hear a remarkable symphony of strange noises coming from our own planet. Scientists call them “tweeks,” “whistlers” and “sferics.”
‘They sound like background music from a flamboyant science fiction film, but this is not science fiction. Earth’s natural radio emissions are real and, although we’re mostly unaware of them, they are around us all the time.’
To me, that explanation by NASA doesn’t really ring true, but I don’t have a really good explanation either.
So what do you think?
Do you believe that you know what is causing these strange sounds?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
Daron Wint, Suspect in Woodley Park Quadruple Slaying, in Custody
The man suspected of brutally killing a family of three and their housekeeper in a northwest Washington, D.C., mansion last week was arrested late Thursday night in a traffic stop across town, capping a manhunt that had expanded to New York.
Daron Dylon Wint, 34, who had once worked for the company run by one of the victims, is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon.
Timeline in D.C. Mansion Killings Case
In a statement released through a spokesperson Friday, the Savopoulos family thanked the law enforcement agencies involved in Wint’s arrest.
“While it does not abate our pain, we hope that it begins to restore a sense of calm and security to our neighborhood and to our city,” the statement read in part.
Wint showed little emotion when he was captured, Robert Fernandez, commander of the U.S. Marshal Service’s Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force told The Associated Press on Friday.
“He was stoic,” Fernandez said.
Investigators had tracked Wint to the Brooklyn area of New York City, where they barely missed him Wednesday night, Fernandez said.
$40K Delivered to Mansion Before Bodies Found
“We believe he saw himself on the news and just took off,” Fernandez said. Investigators then tracked Wint to a Howard Johnson Express Inn in College Park, Maryland, on Thursday night, he said.
A team realized Wint was probably in one of two vehicles in the motel parking lot: a car or a moving truck. The vehicles left together and the team followed as they took a U-turn and a strange route — seeming to be lost or trying to shake those who followed, Fernandez said.
Officers eventually got between the two vehicles in 1000 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE at about 11 p.m. and took Wint, three other men and two women into custody, Fernandez said.
“We had overwhelming numbers and force,” Fernandez said. “They completely submitted immediately.”
Md. Man Accused of Killing Teenage Stepdaughter
Fernandez said he noticed a big wad of cash in the moving truck, but he didn’t know how much was there. NBC News has confirmed that at least $10,000 was found in the moving truck.
It was not clear whether that money might have been connected to the Savopoulos family. Fernandez said he did not know whether any weapons were found as the group was taken into custody.
$40K Delivered to Mansion Before Bodies Found
Wint is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia “Vera” Figueroa, 57.
Their bodies were found in the Savopoulos family’s burning mansion early in the afternoon of May 14.
Authorities had searched several locations in Maryland for Wint on Wednesday night and Thursday. Law enforcement sources said Thursday afternoon they believed Wint took a bus to New York City and arrived in Brooklyn in the previous 24 hours, before returning to the D.C. area.
A law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York’s Jonathan Dienst that they tracked Wint to Brooklyn in part through his phone, which his girlfriend had when they interviewed her Thursday.
Md. Man Accused of Killing Teenage Stepdaughter
Wint’s girlfriend, a Brooklyn resident, talked to NYPD officers at the 69th Precinct in Brooklyn for hours after being picked up at her apartment Thursday. She told police Wint was going back to D.C., possibly to surrender. She is not under arrest, NBC 4 New York reports.
Police believe the victims were kept bound and threatened overnight the night before they were killed.
Sometime that night, someone called Domino’s from their house and ordered pizza. Sources say Wint’s DNA was found on a pizza crust.
The next morning, someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house. The cash was withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, where Savvas Savopoulos served as CEO.
Sometime after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies.
Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said.
Philip’s body was so badly burned that investigators aren’t sure if he was injured before the fire was set, and he still hasn’t been officially identified, sources close to the investigation said.
His body was found in his room; three other bodies were found on the floor in another bedroom.
Social Worker Convicted of Sex Abuse of a Minor
Later on the afternoon of May 14, the family’s Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.
Police said Thursday that they haven’t ruled out the possibility that other people were involved in the slayings, but no other suspects have been identified.
Who is Daron Dylon Wint?
From 2003 to 2005, Wint worked as a welder at American Iron Works, where victim Savvas Savopoulos served as CEO, sources said. One of Wint’s relatives was also fired from the company.
An American Iron Works welder — who said he lost a great friend in Savopoulos — told News4 that Wint couldn’t get along with any of his coworkers when he worked there.
Attorney Robin Ficker, who has represented Wint in the past, told News4 he doesn’t believe Wint did it.
“He is a gentle guy. He was a student at Prince George’s Community College. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Ficker said. “He’s the kind of guy that you wouldn’t mind your grandmother going to lunch with.”
At least one police record lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the Porsche was found burning.
Newtown Must Pay Disability to Cop After Sandy Hook
Message From the Housekeeper
Savopoulos and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.
Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.
Neighbors who have been in the home said the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display a couple of years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.
The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.
Neliy, who didn’t want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Neliy allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family’s home.
On May 13, Figueroa texted Neliy to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Neliy told News4.
That evening, Neliy missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family’s home. She heard the call on voice mail the next morning.
An Eerie Encounter
Neliy said Figueroa’s husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her and had an eerie encounter. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Neliy he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.
He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Neliy said, Savopoulos called his cell phone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Neliy.
The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.
Neliy said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She’d come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with her funeral costs.
Throughout the week, federal agents and D.C. police have continued to gather evidence at the Woodley Park home. Meanwhile, in New Carrollton, authorities used a bloodhound to try to track down the person who torched a 2008 blue Porsche 911 stolen from the home on the day of the fire.
The Porsche was found burning in the parking lot of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. At a banquet hall nearby, surveillance video of a person of interest in the case was captured on a security camera.
Police say Wint is the person of interest seen in the video. While he is difficult to see, police say Wint was dressed in dark clothing, including a hoodie with the hood pulled up.
Meanwhile, neighbors and friends are mourning the family — and left dreading the idea of what they endured in the hours they may have been held captive in their own home.
“This was a beautiful family, a wonderful family with children,” said Coco Palomeque, a friend of Amy’s. She described Amy as “beautiful, vibrant, full of life and full of energy — ready to jump into any project to help others, to help her community.”
“The community where they lived really loves them, and we are here to support them if they need us,” she said.
BY DAN JOSEPH
U.S. intelligence has released several documents that were recovered from Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout prior to his death at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals in 2011.
Included in the findings, the office of the director of national intelligence James Clapper confirmed for the first time, were “some pornographic material” of Bin Laden’s recovered in his personal effects.
Despite this, the government refuses to release the details of Bin Laden’s pornography collection, saying they will not release the material due to the “nature of its contents.”
Fair enough. But, we at MRCTV are committed to providing our readers with the facts, no matter how offensive they may be.
So, based on our knowledge of Bin Laden and our purely circumstantial evidence, we would now like to show images that we assume are very similar to those found in UBL’s porn stash.
WARNING: SOME MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING IMAGES OFFENSIVE.
Of course, in the Internet Age, this type of pornographic filth is incredibly accessible and MRCTV has also found evidence of Bin Laden’s massive collection of pornographic movies:
I’m sorry you had to watch that, everyone. But I remind you, we at MRCTV don’t make the news, we just report it. Well, at least 90% of the time.