Nothing changes — for now — after two contradictory appeals court rulings on whether the U.S. government can subsidize health insurance premiums. A three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit said insurance subsidies can’t be awarded through federal exchanges, only through state-run markets; but hours later, a Fourth Circuit panel backed tax credits in both systems. The Obama administration is appealing the first ruling, which could eventually set up another showdown before the Supreme Court, giving its conservative majority another chance to weaken Obamacare.
The Presidential Daily Brief
If common decency can’t prompt Putin to cooperate with the MH17 crash investigation, perhaps cold-hard cash can: The EU’s threatening tough sanctions restricting Russia’s access to European capital markets and targeting its defense, energy and tech sectors. Putin’s response? To lean on rebels to cooperate with the probe while also condemning western sanctions. The U.S., meanwhile, has released intelligence incriminating pro-Russian separatists in the crash.
Could Apple be its own worst enemy? The Silicon Valley giant’s quarterly report signaled strong sales but lower-than-expected revenue. The company posted revenue of $37.4 billion, short of the anticipated $38 billion. Sales of iPads fell again in the second quarter while iPhone sales jumped 13 percent. Luckily, Chinese demand for both products helped offset the dip in iPad sales as U.S. consumers seem to be holding out for next generation smartphones. Investors hope juicy new products will boost future profits.
The 30,000 residents of Yumen in northwestern China are facing a grim prospect: A local man’s death from bubonic plague prompted authorities to seal off their city and place 150 people in quarantine. The victim contracted the flea-borne bacterial infection — which kills two-thirds of its victims — after coming into contact with a dead marmot, a type of large squirrel. The disease killed millions in the Middle Ages, but it can be controlled by antibiotics today, if administered promptly.
Dozens feared dead in plane crash off Taiwan’s Penghu Islands. (CNN)
Kerry to Hamas: Accept Egyptian-proposed ceasefire for Gaza. (Al Jazeera)
MH17 crash victims’ bodies to be flown to the Netherlands. (BBC)
New York governor’s office ‘hobbled’ ethics inquiry. (NYT)
David Perdue beats Rep. Jack Kingston in Ga. Senate runoff. (CBS)
Has New York finally surrendered to New Jersey? Residents of the 20-million-strong Big Apple were left scratching their heads over how and why two American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge had been replaced by white ones. Twitter ignited with conspiracy theories and jokes about the prank, while others saw traces of Old Glory visible under the white surface. A hidden message? “We don’t know anything,” police said — another surefire winner for social media.
Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has got nothing on Kim Jong-un. A photoshopped video of the North Korean dictator busting moves and hanging with Obama has gone viral, triggering an angry backlash from officials who say it “seriously compromises Kim’s dignity and authority.” The tape, featuring kung fu and hip-hop dancing, was made by a Chinese student who studied in North Korea, where authorities are demanding in vain that it be yanked off the Internet.
Science may soon understand the most common and serious of psychotic disorders plaguing one percent of the population with hallucinations and delusions. The largest-ever study has found more than 100 genes linked to the development of schizophrenia. Long stymied in treating sufferers because of a poor understanding of the disease’s biology, scientists now know several of the genes are associated with neurotransmitters. This raises hopes that more effective treatments may soon be within reach.
A pine tree planted in Los Angeles 10 years ago in memory of the former Beatle has been destroyed by an infestation of beetles. Weakened by California’s drought, the 12ft sapling proved vulnerable to bark beetles. Harrison — who spent his final days in L.A. — was a keen gardener, adding another ironic twist to the demise of the tree, which will be replanted. The guitarist’s words mark a plaque at the base: “For the forests to be green, each tree must be green.”
When will Donald Sterling see the writing on the wall? The NBA doesn’t want him. Players don’t want him. Sponsors and season-ticket holders are threatening to go. And now the team’s linchpin, coach and president Doc Rivers, is set to walk if Sterling still owns the Los Angeles-based team by the start of next season. The revelation came from testimony by interim CEO Dick Parsons, who said: “If [Rivers] were to bail … it would accelerate the death spiral.”