Last updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 11:06 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 $1.8 Trillion per year on total for-profit health care spending compared with 2017 per capita average of comparable not for-profit 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"
2017 US total per capita health care spending was $10,224 – $5322 more per person than in France, which is the highest rated system.
People tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and Florida’s coastal real estate may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call
Megan Mayhew Bergman | The Guardian
In a recent campaign Germans of all outlooks stood up against corporate greed and political apathy – and won

Last week, Bavarians forced their state legislature to change farming policies with the most successful petition in the state’s history. And while the law proposed by the petition covers a range of measures, it’s no surprise that campaigners’ rallying cry quickly became “save the bees”. Bees stand for diligence, dedication and orderliness. But they are also a symbol of our relationship with nature – and everything that has been wrong with it for decades. Bees are emblematic of how the fight to save our planet and stop runaway climate change cannot wait. They are our canary in the coalmine....

Christian Bock | The Guardian
EPA to spend at least another year considering whether to restrict toxic chemicals found in drinking water

Environment advocates have condemned Trump administration plans to spend at least another year considering whether to restrict toxic chemicals increasingly found in drinking water across the country.

The chemicals – known as PFOS and PFOA – are found in nonstick pots and pans, food packaging, and firefighting foam sprayed in drills on military bases. They seep into soil and groundwater in areas where they are manufactured and used.

In high levels, the chemicals are linked with kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and problems in pregnancy. The chemicals are so prevalent that they are estimated to be in the bloodstreams of nearly all Americans....

Emily Holden | The Guardian
The South Australian battery pockets $4m as the market looks to unlock multiple potential value streams
Giles Parkinson | The Guardian
What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
A study helps answer a question many of us ask when deciding whether to buy organic food: does it really make a difference?
Kendra Klein and Anna Lappé | The Guardian
Across the country today, children left their classes to protest against climate change. This is my message to them
George Monbiot | The Guardian
Annapolis seeing sea rise at about twice the global rate. Flooding there foreshadows problems other coastal towns can expect
Emily Holden | The Guardian
Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]
Annual energy forecast predicts record surge in wind, solar and other renewables
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.
Study authors | Science Direct
To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]
Readers respond to an article and editorial on the use of agricultural pesticides and the alarming decline in insect numbers
Letters | The Guardian
Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
"This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic," says researcher
Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams
High hopes for Hornsea One as developer says its output could fill the gap left by nuclear
Jonathan Watts | The Guardian
Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems. If policymakers don’t act now, we’re all in trouble

....Since I was a teenager, the Earth has lost half of all its wildlife. To avoid today’s teenagers being left with no wildlife at all by the time they are my age, we need to act fast. Changing the ways in which we produce our food is a key plank to preserving biodiversity and rebelling against mass extinction. We need to reduce pesticide use in farming, banning the most toxic ones immediately. We must use integrated pest management and dedicate more of our farmland to organic production. We also need independent scrutiny around the authorisation procedure for chemicals and so end the grip that corporate lobbying currently holds over our politicians, policymakers and farmers.

Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. Unless we take drastic action, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction within a few decades. And we can be quite sure that we would follow on closely behind.

Molly Scott Cato | The Guardian
For many scientists, the resonant mystery is no longer which animals are conscious, but which are not.
ROSS ANDERSEN | The Atlantic
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS [With bribed-to-be-biased media and government, we all live in a "Truman Show"-style concentration camp]
Over the years, without regular critiques by liberal and progressive groups, both NPR and PBS have bent to the continual right-wing antagonism in Congress that decreased public budgets
Ralph Nader | Common Dreams
We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear that Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]
Late-night hosts are worn out from another round of Fox News panic and Trump’s reaction to the budget bill
Adrian Horton | The Guardian
Bad journalists are howled at
BOB SOMERBY in The DailyHowler | EVERY DAY
Arts & Education Events:
The congresswoman’s foreign policy views are far more in line with voters than the disconnected party establishment

This week Democrats plunged into two controversies that portend danger for the party as the 2020 election season begins. Both centered on freshman representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who, not coincidentally, came to America as a Somali refugee and is now one of the two first Muslim women in Congress. Absent an open debate about the party’s values on foreign policy, Democrats are hurtling toward an election more divisive than the one in 2016.

First, on Monday, Omar criticized the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists on Capitol Hill, tweeting that Congress’s stance was “all about the Benjamins”. She was swiftly rebuked by the party leadership in tandem with Republicans, prompting her to apologize. Then, less than 48 hours later, Omar grilled America’s new envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, over his well-documented material support for multiple Central American governments that committed mass killings and genocide in the 1980s. She also questioned his credibility, noting that Abrams had pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress as part of his participation in the Iran-Contra scandal.

How did Democratic elites respond? Several pounced again – to defend the Trump administration’s backer of death squads against Omar’s pointed questioning. Kelly Magsamen, a senior official at the Center for American Progress, defended Abrams on Twitter as a “fierce advocate for human rights and democracy”. Likewise, Nicholas Burns, a 27-year diplomat who most recently advised former secretary of state John Kerry, praised Abrams as a “devoted public servant”. “It’s time to build bridges in America,” Burns wrote, “and not tear people down.”

If Democratic leaders were incredulous at Omar’s statements, rank-and-file Democrats were just as incredulous at their party leaders. Why, many asked, is it routine to criticize the influence of NRA money but almost forbidden to question the influence of Aipac money? On top of that, how could Trump’s neocon criminal be lauded as some sort of ally while Omar was treated as a pariah? A Twitter torrent caused Magsamen to delete her tweet and apologize....

Trita Parsi and Stephen Wertheim | The Guardian
What's going to be different this time? "We're going to win," said the Senator from Vermont
Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams
Championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other leading Democrats, the Green New Deal has become the Party’s flagship proposal for climate action.
  • The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution – Funding through the Federal Reserve may be controversial, but establishing a national public infrastructure and development bank should be a no-brainer. The real question is why we don’t already have one, as do China, Germany and other countries that are running circles around us in infrastructure development....
Osita Nwanevu | The New Yorker

....Beyond the direct benefits of immediate climate change mitigation, the cost of doing nothing is exponentially higher than the costs of direct action. Even now the United States is facing enormous costs related to drought, wildfire, hurricane and snowstorm damage increasingly impacted by climate change. Species collapse in the oceans and among insects would be nearly impossible to fix and cost untold trillions to mitigate. And, of course, the cost of coastal cities being swallowed by rising seas is incalculable, likely exceeding global gross domestic product. None of which even touches the unpredictable effects of war, disease, and other human global instability as a secondary result....

David Atkins | Washington Monthly
"Perhaps Trump's current attack on American democracy through his assertion of a fake national emergency is intended as to distract from this larger attack on America. No matter. Both threaten the essence of the nation."
Robert Reich | Common Dreams
"With his #FAKENationalEmergency, Trump is testing what he can get away with. We need to push back HARD."
Julia Conley, staff writer | Common Dreams
Without a strong support base, centrist politicians lack the authority to tackle difficult issues such as climate change

....Even if parliamentarians wanted to address the environmental emergency (and clearly many of them don’t), they no longer possess the kind of support base to deliver radical change.

That’s why, as the school students leading climate strikes have realised, we need to build our own constituency for action, creating the kind of mass movement that makes change impossible – even for politicians – to resist.

Jeff Sparrow | The Guardian
Energy storage and transmission must be rapidly updated to meet emissions targets through uptake of renewables, group says
Katharine Murphy | The Guardian
"Barbed and concertina razor wire have been used to imprison Japanese-American families in World War II-era internment camps...Now, it’s being used to further cut a city in two."
Debbie Weingarten | Common Dreams
While Trump’s people were fulminating in Warsaw against Iranian 'terrorism', it was Iran that was the victim of terrorist attacks.
Eric Margolis | Common Dreams

Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, enabling everyone to be agents for a better world
Marc Cherbonnier | The Baltimore Chronicle | Ref.
  • President declared national emergency to unlock wall funds
  • 16 states argue Trump’s declaration breaches Constitution

....On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to unlock more money to build the barricade along the southern U.S. border after Congress opted to fund construction of only about 55 miles (89 kilometers) of physical barriers. The declaration allows him to reallocate about $8 billion.

The group of 16 states, led by California, allege the president’s declaration violates the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine by ignoring Congress’s decision not to authorize more than $1.35 billion for border security. The Constitution gives Congress the right to allocate or not allocate money for certain discretionary programs.

“Contrary to the will of Congress, the president has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction, and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border,” the states said in the complaint filed Monday in San Francisco federal court....

Kartikay Mehrotra | Bloomberg
The controversial legal bill will allow citizens to sue a polluter on behalf of the lake and for penalties to be imposed
Daniel McGraw | The Guardian
The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
The proposal is incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society

....The Green New Deal demands major structural (governmental and inter-governmental) changes (not just behavioural change) in our approach to the ecosystem. In addition, and as in the 1930s, such change to be driven by radical structural transformation of the finance sector, and the economy. It was developed on the understanding that finance, the economy and the ecosystem are all tightly bound together. Protecting and restoring the ecosystem to balance cannot be tackled effectively without transformation of the other sectors. Financing the transformation of the economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels cannot be achieved without a transformation of the finance sector....

Ann Pettifor | The Guardian
Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
Environmental and social problems could interact in global breakdown, report says

....“Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe,” its annual risk report warns. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The accelerating pace of biodiversity loss is a particular concern.”

Jonathan Watts | The Guardian
Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways
Robert Reich | The Guardian
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution spotlights stealth connections between free trade deals, offshoring and carbon emissions.

Congressional Democrats on Thursday unveiled landmark Green New Deal legislation outlining proposals to combat climate change — and the measure does not stop at the American border. The resolution calls for new trade laws to halt America’s continued export of carbon pollution to countries across the globe.....

David Sirota | CAPITAL & MAIN

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