Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony Pulls The Interview From Theaters After Suspected North Korean Hackers Issue Threats

Sony Films announced this week that they were cancelling the release of the Seth Rogen comedy The Interview after the studio's emails and files were on the receiving end of a sophisticated hack.
Sony has confirmed it has no plans to release the satirical film The Interview internationally, in any form, following threats from hackers.

Cinemas in the US cancelled screenings of the film, about a plot to kill North Korea's leader, prompting Sony to shelve it altogether.

But there has been dismay in Hollywood, with Ben Stiller calling the move "a threat to freedom of expression".

Hackers had issued a warning to cinema-goers who planned to watch the movie.

Sony said it was "deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie".

"We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatre-goers," the studio said.

It added: "We stand by our film-makers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

The cancellation comes after hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace released emails and data stolen from Sony in late November.

In a later warning to cinemas screening The Interview, they referred to the 9/11 attacks, claiming "the world will be full of fear".

"Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time," the hacker group wrote, in a message on Tuesday.

"Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment."

Sony had given theatres in the US and Canada the option to bow out of showing The Interview in the wake of the threats.

Sony had given theater chains throughout North America the option to pull out of showing The Interview. Once major chains like Regal Cinemas [NYSE- RGC], Cinemark [NYSE- CNK] and AMC Cinemas [NYSE- AMC] opted out of distributing the film that reportedly had a cascading effect on other distributors.

The comedy stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as two bumbling Hollywood insiders who manage to land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and are recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

The move by Sony to pull The Interview from its scheduled Christmas day release as condemned by many in Hollywood, Washington DC and on social media, with actor Rob Lowe [who has a cameo in the film, according to the IMDB- NANESB!] tweeting that Sony's decision "would've made Neville Chamberlain proud". Comedian Steve Carell simply tweeted a clip from Charlie Chaplin's 1940 satire The Great Dictator in which Chaplin was mimickinng Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's speeches and mannerisms.

Shortly after Sony announced the cancellation of The Interview, some theaters announced that they would be airing the 2004 comedy Team America: World Police which mocked Kim Jong Un's father and then North Korean-leader Kim Jong Il. However, Paramount Pictures has told theaters not to air the movie.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pakistan Taliban Murder 132 Schoolchildren in Peshewar Attack

Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked an Army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshewar on Tuesday, killing at least 132 students and 9 members of the school's staff. With gravely injured students being treated in nearby hospitals for burns as well as bullet and shrapnel wounds, the death toll may go even higher over the next few days.

Pupils as young as nine were shot in their classrooms, or picked off as they ran for cover or begged for help. Others died when the bombers detonated their suicide vests in the playground which was packed with youngsters.

"They dragged the students from classrooms and shot them with automatic rifles," Kashif Ali, 13, one of the injured pupils, said.

Muhammad Shakoor, another injured 13-year-old, said: "The militants pulled the students from beneath the desks and tables and killed them."

A spokesman for the Taliban said it had targeted the school, which served children of the military, in retaliation for the killing of jihadist fighters by the Pakistan army.
As Pakistani troops moved in to secure the grounds of the school, horrific accounts from eyewitnesses and survivors began trickling out. In a classroom with about 60 pupils, a Taliban suicide bomber entered and blew himself up. Others tell of a teacher being burned alive by Taliban gunmen as they forced the students to watch.

According to survivors, many students were gathered for a First Aid class that was to be given by Pakistani Army medics. There were at least six attackers and they reportedly went from room to room, shooting students as they hid under desks or behind bleachers. The attackers also seemed to know that the wives of some high-ranking Pakistani Army officers were present, bolstering claims that the assailants had inside information about the school.

The attacks come about a week after the Obama Administration released the Tehrek-i-Talibani's second in command after he was captured by US forces in Afghanistan during a 2013 raid. The timing of the massacre also came shortly after Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousefzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for continuing to speak out in favor of women's education after she was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in her native Swat Valley in 2012. At age 17, Yousefzai is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize and her family condemned the Peshawar school attacks in statements to the media.

Russia's Rouble Collapsing as Oil Prices in Freefall

As the price of oil plummeted to below $60 a barrel on increased Saudi production, Russia's already sluggish economy took a significant hit when Russia's central bank announced they would increase the key interest rate from 10.5% to 17% in a drastic move announced earlier this week.

The move was done in part to halt the Russian Ruble's drastic slide against the Dollar and Euro- as of Wednesday afternoon, the Ruble was trading at just over 60 to the dollar [down from 68 prior to interest rate hikes- NANESB!] and just under 75 to the Euro.

Although Russia has been on the receiving end of lukewarm sanctions from the USA and European Union after Russia annexed the Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine, it's apparent that the recently plummeting energy prices have played a role in Russia's latest economic crisis.

This leaves Putin with the difficult choice of trying to prop up the mostly resource-based Russian economy or continue his costly military campaign against the Ukraine [I'm of two minds on this- while I'm glad Putin's finally reeling after attacking a neighboring country unprovoked, let's also keep in mind that no matter how dangerous and belligerent a Kremlin flush with petrodollars was the Eastern Europe, an unstable Russia that feels it has nothing left to lose may end up being more dangerous to the region. Also, who's to say the contagion would be confined exclusively to Russia?- NANESB!].

Over the last several weeks, the implied rationale behind Saudi Arabia's increase in production was that they were attempting to undermine the fracking boom in the US and Canada, temporarily saturating the global market with cheap oil and making the labor intensive practice unprofitable for North American companies. While this strategy would mean the Saudis would lose money in the short-term, they would (in theory) benefit in the long run from reduced competition from oil shale in west Texas and North Dakota.

However, others have theorized that Russia was the intended target of a clandestine Saudi economic attack all along. With President Obama ignoring his own self-declared 'Red Line' in Syria and seeking rapprochement with Iran- despite the Islamic Republic's stated desire to obtain nuclear weapons- the Arabian kingdom has decided to act unilaterally and go after Syria and Iran's benefactor in Russia economically. If that is the case, then undercutting Russia's state-run Gazprom by flooding the global marketplace with cheap oil has proven devastatingly effective so far- moreso than tepid the tepid sanctions levied on Russia after invading the eastern Ukraine.

Whether it's to undercut Russia or the fracking boom in the USA, the Saudi strategy is sure to cause problems among other OPEC members who are just as reliant on oil as Russia and may not be able to ride out low prices like the House of Saud. Even more problematic for some OPEC nations such as Iran and Venezuela is that Russia is their primary benefactor.

The move by Russia's Central Bank comes a little over a month after Russia and China agreed to a lucrative $300B energy deal which would give China's quasi-state run China National Petroleum Corp a partial stake in west Siberian oil and gas fields. In October, China and Russia had signed an agreement to swap nearly $100B of currency, so China may be on the hook as well if the Ruble continues its collapse.

The rate increase has also triggered bickering amid Putin's inner circle and prompted many Russians swarming markets to buy goods before the prices went up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hostage-Taker in Sydney With Islamist Flag Killed by Police; 2 Hostages Dead

A gunman who held staff and patrons of a chocolate shop in Sydney's business district was shot and killed by police as they stormed the building in the early morning hours of Monday. However, the gunman- identified as an Iranian immigrant who went by the name of Man Haron Monis- reportedly shot and killed two of his hostages before being brought down by police gunfire.

The scene unfolded on Sunday when Monis- who was already facing charges for conspiracy to commit murder and more than 40 counts of sexual assault- stormed into the Lindt Café chocolate shop in the business district of Australia's largest city with a sawed off shotgun. Authorities were reportedly kept at bay when freed hostages claimed the self-styled 'Sheikh' had explosives. Monis also forced his captives to hold up a flag with Arabic script to the window that read "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Messenger". The flag was incorrectly identified as an ISIS flag by various media outlets, but similar banners have been used by other Islamist groups such as Boko Haram out of Nigeria or Somalia's Al Shabaab. In fact, Monis had reportedly listed an ISIS flag as part of his demands, along with a telephone debate with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot.

Monis was known to local police and was out on bail when he entered the chocolate shop. In addition to charges of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of his ex-wife Monis was facing at least 40 charges of sexual assault after a 27 year old woman filed a complaint with police.
In January this year, a 27-year-old woman complained to police that she had been sexually assaulted by Monis, after attending "spiritual healing sessions" in response to an advertisement placed in newspapers aimed at the Fijian-Indian, Macedonian, Spanish and Chinese communities.

That complaint triggered a police investigation, which saw Monis charged on April 14 with three sexual assault charges against one woman. The charges were sexual intercourse without consent and two charges of assault with act of indecency.

The woman was visiting him at a property in Station Street, Wentworthville, in August 2002. He appeared before Magistrate Christine Haskett at Kogarah Local Court. He was refused bail.

On May 26, he was granted bail at Parramatta Local Court by Magistrate Joan Baptie. The conditions placed on him in December 2013 were reinstated although he was to live at an address in Wiley Park.

On October 10, he was charged with a further 40 sexual assault charges against six women. This included 22 counts of aggravated sexual assault, 14 counts of aggravated indecent assault, one count of aggravated act of indecency, one count of sexual assault and two counts of assault with act of indecency. The women were visiting him at Wentworthville where he was offering services as a "spiritual healer". His bail was continued by Magistrate Dorelle Pinch.

He was due to appear in Penrith Local Court on Friday, December 12, but this was vacated and changed to February 27, 2015.

Apparently, despite being on bail for numerous serious criminal charges against him, Monis was still able to obtain a firearm in a nation with strict gun control laws. Although Monis' then-partner Amirah Drouids also faced charges in the stabbing death of Moni's ex-wife, it appears as though Monis acted on his own in the siege.

Monis also claimed that he was in contact with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office and sought to send "237 baskets of flowers with 237 condolence letters" to families of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan- but Australian officials prevented him from having any contact after the self-styled 'sheikh' sent poison-pen letters to families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan referring to them as 'sons of pigs' no better than Hitler.

He came to the attention of police between 2007 and 2009, when he wrote poison pen letters to the families of Australian servicemen killed in Afghanistan.

During court hearings over the letter-writing, Monis claimed he was a peace activist and chained himself to the court, waving a small Australian flag.

He described his letters as "flowers of advices" [sic], saying: "From now on when I want to advise people not to kill civilians I should do it by hand delivery."

In August 2013, he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, but refused to accept the court's verdict. Despite pleading guilty to all 12 charges against him, he appealed, claiming his trial was "politically motivated" and that his children were taken away from him.

The two murdered hostages were identified as 34 year old Tori Johnson, who was the manager of the shop and 38 year old Katrina Dawson, a mother of three. According to other hostages, Johnson was killed when he attempted to wrestle the gun away from Monis while Dawson placed herself between Monis' weapon and a pregnant colleague.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu Loses Runoff Campaign to Republican Challegnger Bill Cassidy

Red is for the parishes that Cassidy won while Blue is the parishes that voted for Landrieu. It wasn't even as close as it appears on the map.

The 2014 midterm elections officially wrapped up on Saturday and the Republican party extended their total gains to nine US senate seats when the polls closed in Louisiana for a runoff election for the US Senate seat held by incumbent Mary Landrieu. Observers both inside and outside the Sportsman's Paradise believe the December runoff campaign may not have been necessary if the ballot in the November general election wasn't split between multiple Republican candidates. Last month, both Landrieu and challenger Bill Cassidy failed to get more than 50% of the vote, making last week's runoff necessary.

Sen Landrieu's re-election bid seemed doomed late when she said in an interview shortly before the general election that she stated southern states like her native Louisiana were hostile towards women and minorities. Just days before the runoff voting, she gave a radio interview where she implied the host was illiterate and hung up only part way through when she was facing repeated questioning over her support for 0bamacare.

Nationally, Landrieu was further hurt by the Senate Democrats rejecting a hastily put together bill supporting the KeystoneXL pipeline by a lame-duck session of congress and President Obama's executive order that effectively gave amnesty to more than 5 million illegal immigrants late last month. Offshore drilling and energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico contributes millions of dollars to Louisiana's economy annually and it's believed that the oil from northern Alberta's Athabasca oil sands that would be carried by the proposed pipeline would end up in a Louisiana refinery.

Senator-elect Cassidy had previously served as a Congressman from Louisiana's 6th district and in the Louisiana's Senate after receiving an MD from the LSU school of Medicine and helped establish the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Not Another New England Sports Blog!

Whatever your plans our this Thanksgiving day, I hope you have the opportunity to pause and give thanks for the blessings in your life- even the ones that may not be readily apparent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Riots Erupt in Ferguson, MO After Grand Jury Declines to Indict Police Officer for Shooting Black Teenager

For the third straight night, authorities in the St Louis area struggled to contain arson and looting after a St Louis County Grand Jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown. Brown was black while officer Wilson is white, and the shooting underscored racial tensions throughout the region.

Brown and a friend were videotaped stealing cigars and threatening the clerk of a convenience store in Ferguson, MO. Minutes later, officer Darren Wilson spotted the two walking down the middle of a nearby street, apparently unaware of the strong-arm robbery that took place. After exchanging words, Brown reportedly reached into Wilson's cruiser, punching the officer and attempting to take his sidearm. Two shots were fired, one of them grazing Brown before he fled a short distance. According to Darren Wilson, Brown was about 40 feet away when he turned around, reached into his waistband and charged at him. Wilson emptied the remaining magazine of his department issue SIG-Sauer P229 .40S&W, striking Brown four more times. Witnesses, including Brown's accomplice in the convenience store robbery, claimed that Wilson had shot Brown in the back as he was fleeing or when his hands were raised when he was trying to surrender- although this testimony was contrary to both forensic evidence and other eyewitness accounts.

Despite pleas from officials and Brown's family, shortly after St Louis County DA Robert McCoullough announced that no criminal charges would be filed against Wilson on Monday night, shops along Ferguson's main thoroughfare had their windows broken by looters as they swarmed in and picked shelves clean. As many as 25 buildings were burned since Monday night, including a number of locally owned and operated shops, stores and restaurants. At least 100 arrests were made after shots were fired and some St Louis county police cruisers were also torched, but not before having weapons stolen from them- including at least one AR-15 rifle. A body was found in a burned-out car in Ferguson on Tuesday morning, a death that police are ruling 'suspicious'.

One of the businesses damaged in the rioting was Natalie's Cakes and More, owned by Natalie DuBose who had been in business for just over a year. Prior to that she had been selling cupcakes at flea markets and the single mother said that the store was her only source of income. After an online appeal, DuBose reportedly received more than $110,000 through online fundraiser site GoFundMe to help rebuild her business and she said she plans to stay in Ferguson.

Other store owners were more proactive in protecting their businesses, arming themselves and guarding each others' businesses in shifts as the rioting and looting spread while the police or National Guard were nowhere to be seen. One white-run business in Ferguson was protected by armed black volunteers from the neighborhood who were regular customers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sports Chowdah Update- Fifty 28 Shades of Gray, Patriots Romp at Indy; Bruins Shake the Blues at the Garden; Hurricane Warnings and High Tides, Mississipi State Falls to Alabama while Florida State Surges against Miami

NFL- November has proven to be a pretty good month for New England so far, with the Patriots bookending their bye week with convincing wins over division leaders.

The first weekend in November has the Patriots hosting Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and the outcome was far less dramatic than the last time Denver came to Foxborough. This time around, the team with the big first half lead managed to hang on to it as New England rolled to a 43-21 win against the Broncos.

Coming out of the bye week, New England faced an equally important test against another AFC division leader as the Patriots travelled to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning's former team, the Colts.

Right off the bat, congratulations to those of you who happened to start RB Jonas Gray on your fantasy team on Sunday. RB Jonas Gray out of Notre Dame, who had moved from the practice squad to the starting roster less than a month ago, opened the scoring with a 4 yard TD run in the first to give New England the early 7-0 lead. The Colts quickly came back with a drive of their own that put them in the Patriot's red zone, but they had to settle for a chip shot FG off the leg of Adam Vinatieri to make it 7-3.

Late in the second quarter, Gray found the end zone once again to put the Patriots up on top 14-3 before Andrew Luck led a quick counterattack to put the Colts within 4 points after hitting paydirt on a 10 yard reception by WR Hakeem Nicks with 55 seconds to go in the first half, making it a 14-10 New England lead.

However, during the opening drive of the second half the Patriots started pulling away, thanks to the first Pats TD of the night to someone NOT named Jonas Gray when Brady found TE Tim Wright for a short TD pass to go up 21-10. On the following possession, the Colts would only get as far as the Patriots 35 yards line, but they were able to convert that to points thanks to a successfully 53 yard FG attempt by ex-Patriot Vinatieri. With 3:30 to go in the third, the Patriots made it a 28-13 game thanks once again to Jonas Gray who successfully punched it in from the 2 yard line.

The Colts showed some signs of life late in the 3rd when they made their way down to the Patriots 4 yard line before the game clock flipped over to the 4th quarter. Luck connected with OT Anthony Costanzo to make it a one score game with the Patriots now leading 20-28. However, not only did the Patriots manage to score another TD thanks to an 80 yard drive capped by yet another Gray TD, but they were able to bleed nearly 5 minutes off the clock, putting New England up 35-20 with just under 9 minutes to go in the game. With the clock ticking, Andrew Luck and the Colts offense were pressured to go for it on a 4th and 12 at midfield, but Luck threw the ball incomplete, giving the Patriots an even shorter field to work with and less than 7 minutes to go in the game. The Patriots essentially put the game away on a 26 yard reception and TD from Brady to Gronkowski where he was shedding tacklers like a maple sheds its leaves this time of year- this comes AFTER destroying former teammate and Colts safety Sergio Brown by blocking him into an NBC camera trolley along the sideline.

New England goes on to an pretty easy-looking 42-20 win on Sunday Night Football and will next host the Detroit Lions [who, interestingly, aren't playing on thanksgiving- NANESB!]. Interestingly, this may be the first time ever that the Patriots and Lions have ever played each other when both teams were leading their respective divisions.

OTHER PATRIOTS NEWS- After being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, free agent RB and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount signed a two year deal with New England on Thursday. Blount was released by the Steelers less than 24 hours after the Steelers 27-24 Monday Night Football win over the Tennessee Titans after complaining about getting no carries in the game.

Although some sportswriters believed the Pats had their eyes toward the future when bringing Blount back [Ridley is currently on the DL and Shane Vereen is a free agent at the end of the season- NANESB!] that became more apparent when Jonas Gray missed practice on Friday. Something similar happened last month when CB Darrelle Revis missed practice last month, but he ultimately ended up playing in the Oct 26th win against the Bears.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AFC EAST- Sunday afternoon's game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets has been postponed and is rescheduled to be played at Detroit's Ford Field on Monday night. Over the last few days, the Buffalo area had been hit by a series of winter storms with accumulation up to six feet in many areas.

Initially, the Bills were optimistic that they could get the stadium ready in time for Sunday's game and were offering fans $10 and hour and free game tickets to assist in shoveling out the stadium. However, the snowfall clogged the surrounding highways to the point where some players were arriving at Ralph Wilson stadium via snowmobile and the forecast is calling for even more snowfall between now and Sunday.

Kickoff is scheduled for Monday at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised locally in both the Buffalo and New York City markets on CBS.

NHL- After a pretty disappointing week that saw the Olde Towne Team lose big to Original Six rivals Montreal and Toronto, the Bruins seemed like they found their rhythm once again after returning to the Garden and doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 over the weekend.

The win in Tuesday night's home game against the visiting Blues was made all the more strange by the fact that the Blues outshot Boston by nearly a 2:1 margin- 33-17, but Tukka Rask was able to record the shutout while Patrice Bergeron scored in the first and Torey Krug scored in the 3rd [both even-handed- NANESB!] to make it a 2-0 Bruins win.

Boston will travel to Columbus for a 1-game road trip on Friday before retuning home to the Garden on Saturday to host the Canadiens. That game will get underway at 4:00 and will be televised on both NESN, CBC and the NHL Network.

NCAA FOOTBALL- And then there was only one- at least in the "Power Five" conferences.

The Alabama Crimson Tide shook things up in the BCS and put themselves back in the championship hunt after beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa, AL by a 25-20 final on Saturday. Both 'Bama and Mississippi State now sport similar 9-1 records, with Bama holding the edge thanks to their head-to-head record against Mississippi State. The win propels the Crimson Tide to #2 in the Nation while Mississippi State falls to number four.

This weekend, Alabama has a fairly easy contest against FCS Western Carolina at Tuscaloosa before the Iron Bowl against Auburn at the end of the month while the rest of Mississippi State's games are against the SEC with Vanderbilt this weekend and the rivalry game at Ole Miss at the end of the month at Oxford, MS. There is also the matter of the SEC championship game- since Bama and Mississippi State are both in the SEC East division, one of them would go on to face the leader of the SEC west [which could be either Georgia or Missouri if the standings hold up over the next two weeks- NANESB!].

ELSEWHERE IN THE NCAA- Despite trailing most of the game against in-state rival Miami, the Florida State Seminoles pulled out a late win to continue their undefeated season. The 'Noles pulled ahead for good with just over 4 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Freshman RB Dalvin Cook ran 26 yards for the go-ahead TD. FSU holds in to its top ranking by going on to beat Miami by a 30-26 final.

Florida State will finish off their regular season hosting Boston College, followed by the Florida Gators for Rivalry week and a showdown with #18 Georgia Tech for the ACC Title Game on Dec 6th.

ELSEWHERE IN THE ACC- After getting out to a 13-3 lead over the Louisville Cardinals, the Boston College Eagles gave up five unanswered touchdowns to Louisville and would go on to lose by a 38-19 final in Chestnut Hill two weeks ago. After a week off, the Eagles now face a monumental challenge when they travel to Tallahassee to take on #1 Florida State this weekend. The Eagles regular season wraps up with a Rivalry Week contest against Syracuse at Chestnut Hill on Nov 29th.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Obamacare Architecht: Law Passed Because of Lack of Transparency, "Stupidity" of American Voters

A series of videos have surfaced showing MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber, the man widely credited with crafting President Obama's sweeping healthcare law, admitting that the law was written in a vague and deceptive manner by design to hide costs and that the Affordable Care Act was ultimately passed thanks to the 'stupidity of the American voter'.

As of Friday, the total number of videos circulating of Gruber boasting to audiences about the circumstances under which Obamacare had passed was six. A number of the recently surfaced videos date from 2010 and 2011, while the most recent videos date back to fall of 2013 and there may be even more damning video to come.

In a 2011 conversation about the Affordable Care Act, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the law more commonly known as Obamacare, talked about how the bill would get rid of all tax credits for employer-based health insurance through "mislabeling" what the tax is and who it would hit.

The issue at hand in this sixth video is known as the "Cadillac tax," which was represented as a tax on employers' expensive health insurance plans. While employers do not currently have to pay taxes on health insurance plans they provide employees, starting in 2018, companies that provide health insurance that costs more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family will have to pay a 40 percent tax.

"Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance," Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is "terrible policy," Gruber said.

"It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of," Gruber said. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it's a tax on people who hold those insurance plans."

(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: "I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.")

The second way was have the tax kick in "late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation," Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.

Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.

"What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans," Gruber said. "This was the only political way we were ever going to take on one of the worst public policies in America."

Unions and employers who object in 2018, he noted, "at that point if they want to get rid of it they're going to have to fill a trillion dollar hole in the deficit...It's on the books now."

Speeches with much more blunt language on Gruber's part had surfaced on conservative blogs and talk radio earlier this week, although the story didn't begin gaining coverage until later on in the week when more videos began surfacing.

The comments were made during the panel sessions at the Annual Health Economics Conference last year.

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in October, 2013. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

Democrats who were pivotal in passing Obamacare were quick to distance themselves from Gruber. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who cited Gruber's work during the push to pass Obamacare, denied knowing who he was and attempted to downplay his role in crafting the law during a press conference on Friday.

Gruber himself boasted of a 2009 meeting with the President Obama about the healthcare law in a 2012 interview- the White House visitor's log confirms Gruber's visit.

While some pundits have been wondering why these videos didn't surface before the election, their release may have been timed to coincide with something else altogether. The revelations come before the issue of Obamacare is once again before the Supreme Court. This time, the law is being challenged based on subsidies for the 14 states that didn't set up state-run Obamacare exchanges and the Administration's case could very well be undercut by Gruber's statements.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day From Not Another New England Sports Blog

Fort Rosecrans military cemetery overlooking the Pacific ocean in California. Mom to Madre photo

"Happy" seems a little bit of a stretch in light of developments at the VA earlier this year, but some veterans can take heart in the fact that more amd more veterans are getting elected to office after last week's historic midterms, including Senators-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Earnst of Iowa who will become the first Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans to be elected to the US Senate. In fact, Ernst was reportedly incommunicado for a few days after the election to serve the required weekend muster with the Iowa National Guard.

For veterans who have been unhappy with the way things have been going in Washington, it is important that they join a veteran's group such as the American Legion or Veteran's of Foreign Wars to make their voices heard. Feel free to visit them online to enquire about membership or find the nearest Hall.