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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 12:05 PM
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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.

Runit Dome in the Pacific islands houses 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste. Photograph: Guardian
Runit Dome in the Pacific islands houses 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste. Photograph: Guardian
The Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is a hulking legacy of years of US nuclear testing. Now locals and scientists are warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change could cause 111,000 cubic yards of debris to spill into the ocean
Coleen Jose, Kim Wall and Jan Hendrik Hinzel | The Guardian
An artist’s impression of how the new Hinkley Point C station would look. A law suit against ‘boundless nuclear subsidies’ for the project is to be filed within days. Photograph: HayesDavidson/EDF Energy/PA
An artist’s impression of how the new Hinkley Point C station would look. A law suit against ‘boundless nuclear subsidies’ for the project is to be filed within days. Photograph: HayesDavidson/EDF Energy/PA

Greenpeace and nine German and Austrian utilities selling renewable energy said on Thursday they are launching legal action against state aid for a new British nuclear power plant, which was approved by the European commission.

Reuters | The Guardian
  • BP will pay $18.7bn after the justice department and four states sued
  • Money will be divided among states and earmarked for cleanup projects
Dominic Rushe | The Guardian
Immediate, serious efforts to curb carbon pollution are needed to minimize ocean ecosystem changes
Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian
Former environment minister believes the cult of unfettered economic growth has been ruinous for India’s environment, reports Yale Environment 360
Christian Schwägerl / Yale Environment 360 | The Guardian
The Pope combines science, morality and politics.

Moral questions are not the same as practical questions. But the fate of the earth in the face of global warming is so practical a question that it becomes a moral one. That is the lens through which to read the Pope's Encyclical.

George Lakoff | AlterNet
Water steam rises from the cooling towers of a brown coal power station in Germany. Such plants with a total capacity of 2.7GW will be mothballed. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA
Water steam rises from the cooling towers of a brown coal power station in Germany. Such plants with a total capacity of 2.7GW will be mothballed. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA
Levy on most polluting power stations is scrapped, but largest brown coal-fired plants will be shuttered as Germany moves to cut emissions 40% by 2020
Reuters | The Guardian
Government also urged to sign up to further cuts of 40-60% by 2030 ahead of Paris climate talks, in effort to catch up to other countries
Katharine Murphy | The Guardian
As market forces chip away at the coal industry, many plants are being repurposed as data centers, museums, and mixed-use neighborhoods.
Richard Martin | MIT Technology Review
Studies on mice show two existing medicines could help restore protein production in brain and prevent memory loss, speeding up search for cure
Hannah Devlin | The Guardian
When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die?

In 2010, Godelieva's boyfriend broke up with her, and her mood became 'black' again. She stopped wearing makeup and doing her hair, and she cancelled dates with friends, she said, because she felt ugly and old. She felt that she had lost her levensperspectief, a Dutch word that refers to the sense that there is something to live for.

Jennifer Duggan | The New Yorker

Janet Redman / Foreign Policy in Focus | Informed Comment | Ref.
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 & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | Ref.
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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Rare and wonderful questioning and cross examination of an industry "expert" for obvious lax policies—contrary to 20 State Attorneys General—which allowed dubious and excessive student enrollment and debt the government must repay [A variation of the same scam approved dubious government-backed mortgage loans before the housing bubble burst, and before the S&L bubble burst, and so on... Why aren't such rating agencies held accountable for malfeasance and losses?]
The Caribbean territory, whose residents are US citizens, is groaning under $73bn debt forcing it to ration water, close schools and watch its health system collapse
Alan Yuhas | The Guardian
Democratic presidential hopeful hails ‘little bit of history’ with strong turnout on the turf of Scott Walker, who is seeking Republican nomination
Associated Press | The Guardian
The most popular and least effective governors all want a promotion. Let's examine their records
PAUL ROSENBERG | Salon

The Ku Klux Klan plans to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at South Carolina's capitol, where a statue of a former state governor who championed white supremacy was vandalized on Tuesday amid scrutiny of symbols associated with slavery.

New York City’s struggle with affordable rental housing is part of a nationwide trend that has seen rental housing costs skyrocket in recent years as the housing market has mostly recovered from the 2008 recession, which was in part fueled by real estate speculation and Wall Street aggressively repackaging and reselling risky high-interest mortgages.

According to a new study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, vast stretches of the county are facing a rental housing crisis marked by big rent spikes. “The number of cost-burdened renters [paying more than 30 percent of incomes]... set a new high in 2013 of 20.8 million, totaling just under half of all renter households,” Harvard researchers found. “Although the number of severely burdened renters edged down slightly, the number of moderately burdened renters climbed by a larger amount.”

Most low to moderate income households are feeling a very big pinch. The researchers said that 80 percent of households with annual incomes under $15,000, three-quarters of renters with incomes up between $15,000 and $29,999, and 45 percent of households earning up to $44,999, are all “severely burdened,” with non-whites and single mothers facing the greatest financial stress.

Steve Steven Rosenfeld | Naked Capitalism
The Alaskan Way Viaduct is coming down, and a vast new park system is coming up.
ERIC JAFFE | CityLab




Witnesses say more than 50 militants descended on Kukawa village, firing on worshippers praying in mosques during Ramadan and moving on to houses
Agence France-Presse | The Guardian
Former US secretary of state’s private correspondence expose the intimacy of relations between the Clintons, the Blairs and Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family

Revelations that Cherie Blair secretly lobbied Hillary Clinton on behalf of a fabulously wealthy royal from an authoritarian Gulf state are likely to be seen, at least by conspiracy theorists, as further evidence that a handful of individuals who wield power behind the scenes through personal connections actually runs the world.

In other words, it is not what you know but who you know that really counts.

Blair’s ingratiating and unctuous entreaties, revealed after the US courts forced Hillary Clinton to divulge private emails sent and received while she was secretary of state, will not surprise those who have seen her in action on London’s diplomatic circuit, where she was a seasoned networker and glad-hander.

The bigger picture the emails illuminate is the intimate and intricate web of relationships between three of the world’s most powerful political families – the Clintons, the Blairs, and the Al-Thanis, who run oil and gas-rich Qatar.

Simon Tisdall | The Guardian
Jihadi group claims to have ‘total control of many sites’ in northern Sinai after wave of attacks in which up to 40 Egyptian soldiers were killed
Patrick Kingsley | The Guardian
Video issued from Isis stronghold in Syria is rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadis who oppose its truces with Israel
Reuters | The Guardian

“It’s like death, this load shedding,” Ms. Ngwenya, 45, said, referring to the blackouts imposed by South Africa’s state utility to prevent a collapse of the national electricity grid.

With winter here in South Africa, the worst blackouts in years are plunging residents into darkness in poor townships and wealthy suburbs alike. The cutoffs have dampened South Africa’s economy, Africa’s second biggest, and are expected to continue for another two to three years.

NORIMITSU ONISHI | The New York Times

Nicholas Winton, a Briton who said nothing for a half-century about his role in organizing the escape of 669 mostly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, a righteous deed like those of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, died on Wednesday.

It was only after Mr. Winton’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic of their home in 1988 — a dusty record of names, pictures and documents detailing a story of redemption from the Holocaust — that he spoke of his all-but-forgotten work in the deliverance of children who, like the parents who gave them up to save their lives, were destined for Nazi concentration camps and extermination.

ROBERT D. McFADDEN | The New York Times
After five years, three elections, two bailouts worth $240bn and one ever deepening crisis, Greece is heading for a crunch point on Sunday with a referendum on accepting the austerity measures proposed by its creditors. We asked Greeks for their view on the troika, the tumult - and whether they want to stay in the eurozone
In a sneering & self-righteous segment earlier this week, an O'Reilly producer accosted homeless people in NYC
BOB CESCA | Salon
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

By joining the eurozone countries put themselves into an economic straitjacket. Finland had a very severe economic crisis at the end of the 1980s — much worse, at the beginning, than what it’s going through now. But it was able to engineer a fairly quick recovery in large part by sharply devaluing its currency, making its exports more competitive. This time, unfortunately, it had no currency to devalue. And the same goes for Europe’s other trouble spots.

Paul Krugman OPED | The New York Times

Rather than promoting political unity, Milton Friedman argued, “the adoption of the Euro would have the opposite effect. It would exacerbate political tensions by converting divergent shocks that could have been readily accommodated by exchange rate changes into divisive political issues.”

Friedman’s predictions look prescient now, though they didn’t at first. When Greece adopted the euro in 2001, it benefited enormously by suddenly being able to borrow far more than it should have ever been allowed to. But this wild, boom-time overborrowing left it destitute when credit and demand dried up during the financial crisis. Thanks to the currency union, Greece no longer had the means — currency devaluation — to inflate away its debts and export its way out of a deepening recession. Instead, its euro-zone family members — particularly Germany, the effective patriarch — insisted on keeping inflation in the shared currency ultra-low, which was precisely the opposite of what Greece needed.

Catherine Rampell | The Washington Post
The euro crisis is all about power and nothing about money, Stiglitz says

It is hard to advise Greeks how to vote on July 5. Neither alternative – approval or rejection of the troika’s terms – will be easy, and both carry huge risks. A yes vote would mean depression almost without end. Perhaps a depleted country – one that has sold off all of its assets, and whose bright young people have emigrated – might finally get debt forgiveness; perhaps, having shriveled into a middle-income economy, Greece might finally be able to get assistance from the World Bank. All of this might happen in the next decade, or perhaps in the decade after that.

By contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands. Greeks might gain the opportunity to shape a future that, though perhaps not as prosperous as the past, is far more hopeful than the unconscionable torture of the present.

I know how I would vote.

Joseph E. Stiglitz | Project Syndicate
The former secretary of labor reflects on the Supreme Court's landmark housing discrimination ruling

In a 5-4 ruling, the Court found that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 requires plaintiffs to show only that the effect of a policy is discriminatory, not that defendants intended to discriminate.

The decision is important in the fight against economic apartheid in America – racial segregation on a much larger geographic scale than ever before.

The decision is likely to affect everything from bank lending practices whose effect is to harm low-income non-white borrowers, to zoning laws that favor higher-income white homebuyers.

ROBERT REICH / ROBERTREICH.ORG | Salon

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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