Last updated: Friday, November 16, 2018, 8:32 AM
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Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated total health care spending compared with the 2016 OECD per capita average of advanced countries, which becomes extra cost overhead on U.S. exports—resulting in offshoring manufacturing and jobs. Let's end price gouging and adopt efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
2016 US total per capita health care spending was $9892 – $5292 more per person than in France
EPA to start writing rule requiring new trucks produce less nitrogen oxide, one of its first moves to regulate industry

....EPA acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, told reporters in a call ahead of the formal announcement on Tuesday that the agency will also “cut unnecessary red tape” for truck makers. And the agency is weighing a separate proposal to nix air pollution limits for trucks with rebuilt engines, which critics say is a massive loophole that will lead to dirtier air.

“All the other rules I’m aware of appear to cause increases in air pollution,” said Paul Billings, senior vice-president for public policy at the American Lung Association. “This one does appear to be designed to reduce air pollution ... but it’s really important to understand the specifics of what deregulatory action the acting administrator is talking about and what the air quality and public health impacts of those actions would be.”

Billings said with available technology, trucks could reduce their nitrogen oxide pollution by about 90%, although it’s not clear what standard the EPA would propose. Any rule could take years to finalize and nearly half a decade to go into effect. It would only apply to new trucks, so the pollution improvements would only happen as old trucks are taken off the roads.

The EPA said industry interests that the agency consulted support the move. ...

Emily Holden | The Guardian
Fossil fuel companies including Chevron and ExxonMobil ‘knowingly caused harm’ by contributing to warming, group says
Erin McCormick | The Guardian
Decades after it became part of the fabric of our lives, a worldwide revolt against plastic is under way.
Stephen Buranyi | The Guardian
"Nancy Pelosi is bringing a squirt gun to a wildfire."

....As The Intercept reported:

Ocasio-Cortez's decision to join the protesters and march on her own House leader sets a tone of urgency and combativeness that is rare on Capitol Hill. Walking into the Cannon House Office Building, she told The Intercept something new had to be tried. "The way things are done has not been getting results. We have to try new methods," she said.

While a new contingent of incoming House Democrats backs a Green New Deal, the groups that occupied Pelosi's office charge that party leadership "has no intention of fighting for a real climate plan in the new Congress," in spite of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that the global community has only a dozen years left to avert a climate catastrophe.

Calling on Pelosi and party leaders "to step up to the fight alongside us and create a climate plan or step aside to make way for new leadership who will," the groups are circulating a petition that tells House Democrats:

  • Champion a Green New Deal that would create millions of good jobs to transform society over the next decade to stop climate change;
  • Mandate that any Democrat in leadership must take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, and reject campaign contributions from fossil fuel executives and lobbyists, and prioritize the health of people and planet over industry profits; and
  • A rising generation of young people of all backgrounds just helped flip the House with a record turnout. We will no longer tolerate empty promises and words without action.

Although Pelosi tweeted that she was "deeply inspired" by those who gathered at her office on Tuesday—and, in a statement, urged Capitol Police to allow the protests to continue—the organizers said her response was "not good enough."

Instead of just reviving a committee to study the "threats" of the climate crisis, the climate activists want the House Democrats to establish "a select committee to develop legislation for a total economic mobilization to transition our country toward a 100 percent renewable energy economy—as the IPCC has tasked every nation to do."

"We don't need more investigation," declared the Justice Democrats. "We need specific plans matching the urgency and scale mandated by the U.N.'s IPCC report on catastrophic climate change."

"Nancy Pelosi is bringing a squirt gun to a wildfire," concluded the Sunrise Movement. The protest comes as firefighters are battling historic fires in California—the state Pelosi represents.

Those who were not arrested at Pelosi's office visited the offices of other House Democrats to pressure them to sign the Green New Deal pledge.

Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, said on Twitter that she supports reinstating the select committee but that it should be required to craft a Green New Deal and no appointees should be recipients of fossil fuel money, aligning her demands with the climate activists' petition.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer | Common Dreams
At first I kept an open mind about Trump’s interior secretary. But it soon became clear he put the oil, gas and mining industry above our mission
Joel Clement | The Guardian
Australia singled out for possible hydrogen boom, but also forecast to increase coal production
Lisa Cox and Katharine Murphy | The Guardian
Forget ‘solutions’ such as smog towers, air-filtering buses and pollution-eating paints. We need to prevent the air pollution in the first place
Gary Fuller | The Guardian
Dr Leana Wen, who takes over as president of the US’s biggest reproductive healthcare institution this week, says she plans to expand services despite attacks
Jessica Glenza | The Guardian
Trump’s interior secretary has been remaking the agency charged with protecting public lands as an ally of big energy
Jimmy Tobias | The Guardian
The president blamed California’s environmental policies for the “deadly and costly” toll of the wildfires.
Trump has a history of blaming California for its fires
Rachel Withers | Vox
District court judge Brian Morris rules Trump administration did not consider environmental consequences before pushing ahead
Oliver Milman | The Guardian
Center for Biological Diversity says new program bypasses findings and leaves decisions to employees who are not experts
Emily Holden | The Guardian
Bad journalists are 'hounded'
BOB SOMERBY in The DailyHowler | EVERY DAY
Arts & Education Events:

REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including from congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

....On Tuesday night, the Republican-led House Rules Committee voted to advance the “Manage Our Wolves Act,” which will remove gray wolves from the endangered species list. The Rules Committee waived all points of order against the bill and voted to advance it to the floor.

The catch: Republicans inserted language that would block a floor vote on whether to direct President Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen. The intervention has been highly destructive, flattening homes, roads, markets, hospitals, and schools, and leading to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday evening, the House approved the rule 201-187, largely on party lines, successfully blocking a vote on the Yemen resolution. ...

Alex Emmons, Aída Chávez | The Intercept
Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'incremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
The party's leaders have been far too cautious in the past. Newer ideas could spark real change in who owns and runs America
Sam Pizzigati, co-editor of | Common Dreams

Newly unearthed documents show senior U.S. Army officers have been ordered to make fewer public appearances, in an effort to avoid triggering showdowns with President Donald Trump. The Pentagon rules, which have been in existence for about nine months, specify that only one senior military leader and one civilian leader are allowed to appear at each “outside” non-government event each day. Online publication Defense One established the existence of the rule after asking the Office of the Secretary of Defense to explain why two of four senior DOD officials scheduled to speak at their event had suddenly canceled. “You and I both know what this is: an attempt to minimize the department’s profile to the president. Fewer speakers means fewer headlines means fewer angry tweets from the Lincoln Bedroom,” one former senior military official told Defense One.

The industry has political supremacy even in left-leaning states, but immediate action can hold off an environmental state of emergency
David Sirota | The Guardian
"We're the folks out there trying to advocate for big change... and that's what we're going to expect out of leadership, as well."
Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams
"Since the first drop of blood, the first chest tube placed, and since the first mother on the floor crying, for us, it has ALWAYS been our lane."
Julia Conley, staff writer | Common Dreams
Republicans’ baseless claims poison the races for governor and senator.
The Editorial Board | The New York Times
Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
Source: Reuters | The Guardian
Turkish president keeps up pressure on Saudi crown prince, as pro-government paper publishes x-rays of hit team’s luggage
Bethan McKernan | The Guardian
Palestinian militants fire 400 rockets—that cannot be effectively aimed—and mortars while Israel planes bomb 100 sites—with pinpoint effectiveness
Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha | The Guardian
  • Exclusive: Jerome Corsi to Guardian – ‘They asked about Nigel’
  • Key Brexit figure Farage has denied involvement with Russia
Jon Swaine and Stephanie Kirchgaessner | The Guardian
In 1922, after fleeing Berlin out of fear for his safety, Einstein wrote to his sister about his new ‘reclusive’ life
Brigit Katz | Smithsonian Magazine
Community First! Village’s model for ending homelessness emphasizes the stabilizing power of social connections.
The migrants appear intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward, with most vowing to continue to the US
Source: Associated Press | The Guardian
At a time of mounting uncertainty in Europe, the country has defied critics who insisted on austerity as the answer to the Continent’s economic and financial crisis.
Liz Alderman | The New York Times

Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
Marc Cherbonnier | The Baltimore Chronicle | Ref.
The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse

....The problem is political. A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.

The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster. Think of Donald Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires; the influence of the Koch brothers in funding rightwing organisations; the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial; or the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies.

It is not just governments that have failed to respond, though they have failed spectacularly. Public sector broadcasters have systematically shut down environmental coverage, while allowing the opaquely funded lobbyists that masquerade as thinktanks to shape public discourse and deny what we face. Academics, afraid to upset their funders and colleagues, have bitten their lips.

....Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet.

Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done.

George Monbiot | The Guardian
Dan Sabbagh, Daniel Boffey and Jessica Elgot | The Guardian
The suffering grows and no end is in sight. This is turning out to be our crime too

The suffering of civilians in Yemen is not only the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It is a crime. Nobel peace laureate Tawakkol Karman says her country is being “systematically destroyed”. Half of the country’s 22 million inhabitants are on the brink of starvation; 1.8 million children are severely malnourished. For many it is already too late. The United Nations predicts this could become the worst famine for a century. There were warnings of famine before the war broke out almost four years ago; even then, Yemen imported almost all of its food. Conditions have since deteriorated unimaginably. ...

Editorial | The Guardian

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