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Established 1973 — Last updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 9:45 AM
We aggregate important news
Today's posts in bigger type––>.
Prior 2/3-days posts in small type.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated health care spending as compared with the 2011 OECD per capita average, which becomes extra overhead on everything U.S. workers make—resulting in offshoring manufacturing and jobs. Let's adopt more efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
2011 US per capita health care spending was $4390 more per person than in France (acclaimed as having the best healthcare) and $5169 above the OECD average without better results. (Ref. 2009, 2007, selected 2007 with avg. doctor visits showing we're least cared for for the money, 2003 and 1998.)

Lastly, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

US expected to confirm planned greenhouse gas emissions cuts ahead of today’s deadline for nations to submit proposals towards forming a global climate change agreement at talks in Paris in December

The EU has agreed to cut its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, while China has promised its emissions will peak by 2030. Mexico, the first developing country to make a climate commitment, said it will cut emissions by at least 22% - and as much as 40% if certain conditions are met. Norway offered a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, from 1990 levels, and said it sought to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Fiona Harvey and Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
The environmental activists have written an open letter to the Mayor of Paris, asking her to make it the first capital in the world to divest from fossil fuels
Emma Howard | The Guardian

Consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain relatively large amounts of pesticide residue may affect men's sperm counts and the number of normal-looking sperm they produce, a potential factor in fertility problems, Harvard University researchers reported Monday.

[Other animals, birds, fish and insects are likely also damaged]
Lenny Bernstein | The Washington Post
Using polio to kill cancer: A producers' notebook [7:35 video, plus related videos]
A conversation with Jeff Fager and Michael Radutzky about the 60 Minutes story that followed cancer patients treated with polio
It might be possible to create a burger that helps the environment and improves your health. But will it taste good enough to win over the masses?
Corby Kummer | MIT Technology Review
Experts say fix requires global effort going into an era of climate change in which ‘the temperature is essentially always conducive to drought’
Lauren Gambino | The Guardian
Georgetown, Texas decision not about going green: ‘I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,’ says city official
Tom Dart | The Guardian

Though Canada's system is the second most expensive in the world per capita, it would save America $1.3 Trillion/yr and cover everyone
OLGA KHAZAN | The Atlantic | Ref.
The cost of cancer drugs [13:52 60 Minutes' video]
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs

Dr. Peter Bach: Medicare has to pay exactly what the drug company charges. Whatever that number is.

Lesley Stahl: Wait a minute, this is a law?

Dr. Peter Bach: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: And there's no negotiating whatsoever with Medicare?

Dr. Peter Bach: No.

[All other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | Ref.
Climate Change: Lines of Evidence [play chapters or all 28 minutes]
The National Research Council via YouTube | Ref.
A.C. THOMPSON and JONATHAN JONES in ProPublica | Ref.
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us [long, print & study; 3:38 video]
Looking at real bills for real patients cuts through the ideological debate over health care policy.
STEVEN BRILL in Time Magazine | Ref.
Econ4 on Health Care [10:00 video]
the USA ranks first in the world in health care spending, but only 45th in life expectancy....
YVES SMITH comments in Naked Capitalism | Ref.
Climate change inaction is a leading global cause of death.
DARA | Ref.
If we had the per-person costs of any other OECD country, America’s deficits would vanish....
EZRA KLEIN in the Washington Post | Ref.
How Industry Money Reaches (aka 'bribes') Physicians
Special Report in Pro Publica | Ref.
To remove your appendix in one California hospital costs $180,000, at a different facility the bill is $1,500. [Who has time to shop?]
RYAN FLINN in Bloomberg | Ref.
SOURCE: Public Broadcasting System & ABC News | Ref.
“While the New York Times did a public service by joining Wikileaks in publishing a draft chapter of the TPP, the accompanying article is quite another matter. Joe Firestone has taken it upon himself to shred analyze it. The sad reality is that the Times is never going to oppose neoliberalism in a serious way.”
—Yves Smith    
Reading John Bolton's dangerously casual argument for yet another war in the Middle East

Given Bolton’s record on Iraq, this recklessness is not surprising. More surprising is that the Times let him get away with it. I understand that the Times, as a left-leaning op-ed page, needs ideological diversity. But when it comes to war and peace, diversity isn’t the highest value. Honesty is.

PETER BEINART | The Atlantic
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
[Courting big-money & the wacko vote...]
Alan Rappeport | The New York Times

Some Democrats and political analysts say that the "wave" Cook refers to is not originating with voters, but rather conservative "bill mills" that finance state legislators to attend educational conferences that may provide both unified ideas and prefabricated bills to take home. Specifically, they see The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the primary driver of conservative state laws. [Too many Republicans are wacko like Wahhabi Muslims]

US laws enabling discrimination against LGBT people ‘rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear’, says Apple chief

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has called on US legislators to rethink their support of so-called religious freedom laws, which enshrine the ability of individuals to breach nondiscrimination laws if the laws go against personal religious beliefs.

Such laws have been passed in 20 US states, most recently Indiana, and are widely seen to be specifically aimed at enabling discrimination against LGBT people.

[Too many Republicans are wacko like Wahhabi Muslims]
Alex Hern | The Guardian
A Reuters/Ipsos online poll asked Americans to rate how much of a threat a list of countries, organisations and individuals posed to the United States
Reuters | The Guardian
With an abundance of streaming services to choose from, many are choosing to leave cable behind entirely. Here’s what you should know before you do [As expensive, advertising-laden TV shows and movies get stupider, the choice gets easier]
Suzanne McGee | The Guardian
The vote is a sign that the framing of the Social Security debate has changed.

While the amendment by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, did not pass—nor did scores of others proposed by Senate Democrats as the body took up the 2016 federal budget—the roll call vote is a sign that expanding Social Security, whose payments to retirees now average $1,310 a month, is ascendant and will be in play in 2016.

Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet

Midway into a three-and-a-half-hour congressional hearing this week featuring Mary Jo White, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, none of the legislators had bothered to ask if or when her agency would require that corporations disclose their political spending.

The bipartisan silence testified to the growing importance to both parties of anonymous campaign donations.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD | The New York Times

Now lawmakers have taken the budget gimmickry to a whole new level — no longer even pretending that billions of dollars in additional war spending would go to fight Islamic State militants and the Taliban.

The proposals in the House and Senate to add about $38 billion to the Obama administration’s $58 billion war spending request threatens to create an authorized “slush fund,” according to budget analysts and spending critics.

[We should be fighting the war Republicans ignore, instead.]
JEREMY HERB and BRYAN BENDER | Politico
The boom and bust in North Dakota has trapped people there, with little hope of work or escape.
Evelyn Nieves | AlterNet




Just 15 months after it was founded, Podemos now leads the polls in Spain. Can this grassroots party win power – or is its bubble about to burst?
Giles Tremlett | The Guardian
Egyptian president Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announces initiative at an Arab League summit, primarily aimed at countering the threat posed by Isis
Martin Chulov in Beirut and agencies | The Guardian
Nation’s foremost man of letters warns in interview of ‘a very sinister force in control’ of the incumbent president
David Smith | The Guardian
New research shows that water scarcity linked to climate change is now a global problem playing a direct role in aggravating major conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
[The best foreign and domestic policy would be to develop efficient desalination technology]
Nafeez Ahmed | firedoglake
Aircraft from Saudi-led coalition attack Houthi rebel strongholds in Sana’a and as diplomats are evacuated from southern city of Aden
Agencies | The Guardian
Who’s friends with whom, in one simple diagram
KARL SHARRO | The Atlantic
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service says importing carcass will benefit conservation
  • Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 to shoot endangered species in Namibia
Associated Press | The Guardian
£35 device allows residents to listen to pop music and watch South Korean soaps, Hollywood films and outside news programmes, despite government restrictions
James Pearson | The Guardian
Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers.
Will Knight | MIT Technology Review
A Catholic self-described “traditionalist,” O’Reilly can’t be trusted not to confuse religious interpretation with historical fact

O’Reilly’s telling takes as fact a number of time-worn myths that have been repeatedly disavowed by scholars. Characterizing the apostle Paul as a Christian is an anachronism: Christianity didn’t begin until a century after the crucifixion; Jesus and all his apostles died Jews. Scholars have noted with irony that in depicting the Pharisees as legalistic, hypocritical evildoers, O’Reilly, ironically, picks up on a caricature originally created by Reformation-era Protestants to ridicule Catholics.

Brook Wilensky-Lanford | The Guardian
The goal of the Norwegian penal system is to get inmates out of it.
JESSICA BENKO | The New York Times
In recognition of the dangers inherent in the consolidation of mainstream corporate media The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel (formerly a newspaper) advances awareness of important suppressed news and opinion.
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John Ashton accuses oil company and others of being ‘narcissistic, paranoid and psychopathic’ and being unable to contemplate low-carbon future
“Stop pretending gas is part of the answer, rather than a necessary stage in a transition to be kept as short as possible”
– John Ashton    
Emma Howard | The Guardian
The SS Giveaway steams into infamy in New York State.

New York’s new budget bill includes an obscure provision, tucked inside section SS, exempting the portion of a boat’s price above $230,000 from the sales tax.

YONI APPELBAUM | The Atlantic
Ever wonder why we waited six years to get a decent economic recovery? This new revelation will disgust you

TARP was doled out in two tranches of $350 billion each. The Bush administration, still in charge during TARP’s passage in October 2008, used none of the first tranche on mortgage relief, nor did Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson use any leverage over firms receiving the money to persuade them to lower mortgage balances and prevent foreclosures. Frank made his anger clear over this ignoring of Congress’ intentions at a hearing with Paulson that November. Paulson argued in his defense, “the imminent threat of financial collapse required him to focus single-mindedly on the immediate survival of financial institutions, no matter how worthy other goals were.”

Whether or not you believe that sky-is-falling narrative, Frank kept pushing for action on foreclosures, which by the end of 2008 threatened one in 10 homes in America. With the first tranche of TARP funds running out by the end of the year, Frank writes, “Paulson agreed to include homeowner relief in his upcoming request for a second tranche of TARP funding. But there was one condition: He would only do it if the President-elect asked him to.”

Frank goes on to explain that Obama rejected the request, saying “we have only one president at a time.” Frank writes, “my frustrated response was that he had overstated the number of presidents currently on duty,” which equally angered both the outgoing and incoming officeholders.

....the Obama transition wrote a letter promising to get to the foreclosure relief later, if Congress would only pass the second tranche of TARP funds. Congress fulfilled its obligation, and the Administration didn’t. The promised foreclosure mitigation efforts failed to help, and in many cases abjectly hurt homeowners.

DAVID DAYEN | Salon

The GOP-dominated House and Senate passed their budget resolutions last week, and in the process proved beyond reasonable doubt that the majority party is less interested in governing than in sending symbolic valentines to the wealthy.

As usual, this will lead to the same ideological war that consumes our politics, but this budget also represents a war against cognitive function, because only in the fantasies of ideologues can one expect to make $5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years without raising any taxes.

Star-Ledger Editorial Board | NJ.com

Noam Scheiber has a hard hitting article on the front page of www.nytimes.com “2016 Candidates and Wealthy Are Aligned on Inequality

The content should be familiar to AngryBear readers. A majority of Americans are alarmed by high and increasing inequality and support government action to reduce inequality. However, none of the important 2016 candidates has expressed any willingness to raise taxes on the rich. The Republicans want to cut them and Clinton (and a spokesperson) dodge the question.

Robert Waldmann | Angry Bear

There is more at stake here than you might think. Warren has declared war on the Wall Street wing of the Democratic party, including the powerful network of proteges and fundraisers affiliated with former Treasury secretary, former Goldman partner, and more recently, vice chairman of Citigroup Bob Rubin. One politically-savvy financial analyst calls this cadre “the Rubino crime syndicate”.

Warren fingered Citigroup’s extensive connections to the Executive branch when she fought the addition of a rider to a must-pass spending bill that would eliminate a Dodd Frank provisions to force banks to stop trading certain derivatives in taxpayer-backstopped entities (the so-called swaps pushout rule). As you’ll see below, not only did Warren have the bad taste to point out that the current Treasury secretary is a Citigroup alum, and that Sandy Weill, Citigroup chairman, had offered Timothy Geithner the opportunity to run the bank, she also said that Dodd Frank had come up short by not forcing Citigroup’s breakup. If you’ve not seen this speech, you need to watch it. You’ll understand why Citigroup is desperate to find a way to leash and collar Warren.

....So while these fights individually may not seem consequential, recognize that cumulatively, the banks are finding they are incurring more costs in trying to get their way, and are even sometimes getting their noses bloodied. While this is still a long way from seeing big bank executives prosecuted, that diminishment of bank power isn’t going to happen overnight, but through steady, persistent pressure on their many vulnerable points.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism

We're tracking where taxpayer money has gone in the ongoing bailout of the financial system. Our database accounts for both the broader $700 billion bill and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
ProPublica | Ref.
SARAH ANDERSON in CounterPunch | Ref.
ANDREW HACKER in The New York Review of Books | Ref.
 
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