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Established 1973 — Last updated: Friday, February 12, 2016, 11:04 AM
Eclectic news & analysis
Today's posts in bigger type—>
Prior 2/3 days in little type.
Clarity requires effort
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated health care spending compared with the 2013 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"
In 2013 US total per capita health care spending was $8713, $4589 more per person than in France—acclaimed as having the 'best' healthcare—and $5260 above the OECD average without better results. (Ref. 2011, 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.

Edel Rodriguez
Edel Rodriguez

The Supreme Court’s extraordinary decision on Tuesday to temporarily block the Obama administration’s effort to combat global warming by regulating emissions from power plants was deeply disturbing on two fronts.

It raised serious questions about America’s ability to deliver on Mr. Obama’s pledge in Paris in December to sharply reduce carbon emissions, and, inevitably, about its willingness to take a leadership role on the issue.

And with all the Republican-appointed justices lining up in a 5-to-4 vote to halt the regulation before a federal appeals court could rule on it, the court also reinforced the belief among many Americans that the court is knee-deep in the partisan politics it claims to stand above. While the court’s action was not a ruling on the merits of the case, it will delay efforts to comply with the regulation and sends an ominous signal that Mr. Obama’s initiative, known as the Clean Power Plan, could ultimately be overturned.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD |New York Times
By temporarily freezing the rule, the high court’s order raises fears that the centerpiece of the president’s clean power plan could be overturned
The supreme court’s move is a blow to the Obama administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
The supreme court’s move is a blow to the Obama administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The surprising vote by the justices put a temporary freeze on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules cutting carbon emissions from power plants until the Washington DC circuit court of appeals hears challenges from 29, mainly Republican-led states, and dozens of corporations and industry groups. Arguments are scheduled for 2 June.

The 5-4 decision for a stay came as a shock to the EPA and environmental campaign groups, and was widely seen as a sign that opponents of the power-plant rules have made a strong argument against the plan.

“We’re disappointed the rule has been stayed, but you can’t stay climate change and you can’t stay climate action,” said Melissa Harrison, an EPA spokeswoman. “We believe strongly in this rule and we will continue working with our partners to address carbon pollution.”

Suzanne Goldenberg |Guardian
Phytoplankton are the unsung heroes of all that delicious O2 we breathe, and the primary food source for sea life.

Phytoplankton are mostly invisible to the naked eye and live in the ocean's surface. Just like trees and plants, these one-celled creatures soak up energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into nutrients. The byproduct of that process is fresh oxygen, which is released into the water.

Scientists estimate that phytoplankton actually produce about half the world's oxygen.

But a new study has revealed that phytoplankton populations in the Indian Ocean have decreased up to 30% over the last 16 years. Which is a big problem for those of us who enjoy breathing.

According to the researchers, warming of the ocean's surface has led to a decline in ocean mixing — which is the process by which nutrients are carried from the ocean depths up to the surface. Phytoplankton die off when their access to these nutrients is restricted.

Because phytoplankton are a key part of a very complicated oceanic food web, the implications of their demise could be disastrous. Not only do phytoplankton produce the oxygen we breath, they're also a food source for the fish we eat and a key part of the marine ecosystem that keeps our oceans thriving.

Jon Comulada | UPWORTHY
Longest-running study to date analyses long-term mortality risks of Britons exposed to historic particulate pollution

The analysis of 368,000 British people over 38 years also showed that those living in the most polluted places have a 14% higher risk of dying than those in the least polluted areas. Those exposed to particulate air pollution were more likely to die from respiratory problems, like pneumonia, emphysema and bronchitis, and also from cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks.

“What this study shows is that the [health] effects of air pollution persist for a very long time,” said Dr Anna Hansell, at Imperial College London, who led the new study. “There is an imperative that, because the effects are so long-lasting, we really ought to act on it. We have to think about what we are doing to the long-term health of the population.”

Many Britons are currently exposed to illegal levels of air pollution, with 29,000 premature deaths a year - or 5% of all deaths - blamed on air pollution. The UK government lost a supreme court legal battle in 2015 and was forced to produce an action plan.

If successful, this will cut air pollution to legal levels by 2020 in most cities and 2025 in London. The impact on children, whose lungs can be stunted for life, has been of particular concern to experts.

Damian Carrington | Guardian
Air pollution in London on 21 January 2016. Photograph: Gill Allen/REX/Shutterstock
Air pollution in London on 21 January 2016. Photograph: Gill Allen/REX/Shutterstock

In mid-January 2016 a three-day smog covered London, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. January used to be a peak month for pea-souper smogs. Between 1952 and 1962 these killed nearly 15,000 Londoners and many people in other cities including Glasgow and Manchester. These days our winter smogs are full of nitrogen dioxide and particles from diesel exhaust rather than smoke from coal.

Madrid is the latest European capital to introduce emergency measures to control pollution episodes. If Madrid’s new laws applied in London we would have had public health warnings on 19 January, lower speed limits and parking restrictions on 20 January followed by a ban on even-number-plate cars in central areas on 21 January.

So why don’t Londoners get the same protection as the people of Madrid?

The UK focuses on controlling air pollution all of the time; not just during emergencies. This makes sense: the harm from the pollution that we breathe every day is greater than the effects of short smogs. Each year in the UK an estimated 29,000 to 50,000 people die with their life shortened by air pollution; more than died during smogs of the 1950s. But focusing on managing air pollution every day is only justified if the policies work. Most cities and big towns have not met legal limits set for 2010. London will not meet them before 2025.

Gary Fuller | Guardian
Europe and US try to bridge differences to come up with the world’s first carbon dioxide emissions standards for aircraft

Aviation was not included in the global climate deal agreed by a UN conference in Paris in December, but ICAO is trying to nail down the first of its two-part strategy as soon as Monday after six years of talks. It is due to finalize a market-based mechanism for all airlines later this year.

Differences remain on where to place the bar on efficiency, with the United States and Canada pushing for more stringent targets than the European Union, while environmental groups have accused Europe of dragging its feet.

“The CO2 standard will push industry to be as fuel-efficient as possible in all market conditions to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and the impact of aviation on climate change,” stated the Canadian paper presented at ICAO last week.

The proposals could revive pressure on European planemaker Airbus to upgrade the world’s largest passenger jet, the A380 superjumbo, with new engines. Airbus recently examined that proposal to boost sales, but it has dropped down its list of priorities.

Reuters | Guardian
Sailing ships back in vogue as a green alternative to conventional shipping [Cool! New ships to be automated—think motorized sails]
More goods are being shipped under canvas as consumers object to pollution from container vessels

One of the world’s oldest methods of transporting goods is making an unlikely comeback. Sailing ships, which kept the British Empire in tea, sugar and tobacco, are back in vogue as a green alternative to conventional shipping. 

Wine, coffee, cacao beans and rum are among the items filling holds on a growing number of ships that are reviving old trade routes more than a century after the advent of steam engines ended the golden age of sail. 

Susie Mesure | Independent
With contracts worth £5.5bn going to private firms, health sector unions warn of slide to US-style system in which level of care depends on ability to pay

“There is a real danger that if we continue down this road we could end up with a repeat of the American experience where income, rather than need, dictates the level of care a patient can expect,” said the nine leaders of NHS staff, including midwives, nurses and radiographers.

Dave Prentis, from Unison, the biggest health union, said: “There is no evidence to suggest the private sector does health any better than the NHS. Even such monumental failures as Hinchingbrooke have done little to dampen the government’s zeal for the market.”

Prentis said that large amounts of money were being wasted drawing up and scrutinising each bid, money that could be better used to improve patient care. And he added that many commissioning services are being advised by the private sector, “making it even more likely that healthcare firms will win out”.

“The public wants well-run, efficient health services. They are not so keen on private firms putting shareholders and profits before patients. And they are increasingly nervous that ability to pay could soon count for more than someone’s need for help,” he added.

Matthew Taylor | Guardian

Reference:
Tests show compound, similar to that found in energy drinks, clears amyloid beta plaques, which build up in the brain in early stages of Alzheimer’s
Ian Sample | Guardian | Ref.
JOE ROMM | Climate Progress | Ref.
Phys.org | Ref.
Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output
Suzanne Goldenberg | Guardian | Ref.

A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.

Gabrielle Canon | Mother Jones | Ref.
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 | 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
[All the other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in New York Times | Ref.
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Clinton has failed Warren’s ‘money-in-politics’ litmus test — and now the Democratic Party is splitting in two.

The Massachusetts Senator was able to introduce the topic on a national stage, and even though Sanders has spent his entire career championing the same message, she succeeded in publicizing a sense of urgency. Warren paved the way for Bernie, and in doing so, helped the Sanders campaign undermine Hillary Clinton's enormous political machine; a monstrosity that benefits from the status quo. I explain why Bernie Sanders has already made Clinton's political machine implode in the following YouTube segment.

The Atlantic has a provocative piece by Conor Friedersdorf that all Americans should read titled "Hillary Helps a Bank — and Then It Funnels Millions to the Clintons." Let's just say the article gives some insight into why Hillary Clinton is paid millions for speaking engagements. If you haven't read Friedersdorf's article, then you won't know why there's so much desire to read Clinton's speech transcripts.

Hillary Clinton's political machine, which runs on a peculiar form of "honest graft," as stated by Walter Russel Mead, has been undermined by a political revolution within the Democratic Party, and within American politics.

Nobody has been able to highlight why Bernie Sanders is needed by African Americans, Latinos, and all Democratic voters better than Tim Black in this powerful segment of Tim Black TV. Only Bernie Sanders has harnessed the full power of an electorate disgusted with politicians yet to disclose the transcripts of million dollar speeches. Nothing defines establishment politics better than a Democrat who takes money from the same interest that harm core constituencies of the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton has accepted campaign contributions from two major prison lobbyists, Wall Street, and the oil and gas industry, yet promises progressive stances against all these interests.

H. A. Goodman / Huffington Post | AlterNet
Obama Celebrates Nine Years of Doing Nothing About Money in Politics [inaction proves his allegiance to the 'super-rich & corporate democrat party']

President Barack Obama is president and could actually do something about it. There are many actions he could take on his own, without approval from Congress or the courts. In particular, he could issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically active nonprofits.

Activists have delivered over 1 million signatures to the White House demanding that Obama sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website’s system passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring the Obama administration to respond.

The White House recently posted a desultory answer to the petition that quotes Obama as saying that “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics” — but doesn’t acknowledge the petition’s demand that Obama, not “we,” take specific action.

Jon Schwarz | Intercept
With budget negotiations on the horizon, the Republicans' right flank is digging in its heels yet again

Remember last fall, when pundits and politicians were trying to talk themselves into Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House because he would lay down the law with the hard-right wing of the Republican caucus? When he was the man who could bring some much-needed order to the ranks? Who could maybe end this habit of careening from crisis to crisis that Congress has fallen into because the two parties are unable to agree on anything, down to whether toilet paper should be rolled over or under in Capitol Hill bathrooms, let alone a budget to fund the basic functions of government?

As the kids like to say, LOL:

“The release of President Obama’s eighth and final budget on Tuesday has forced into the open the seething tensions that never really went away after a spending agreement was reached last year, in part to ease Mr. Ryan’s transition into the speaker’s suite.

That deal set spending until the end of October of this year, at levels that the president adhered to and Senate Republicans hope to make stick. But a core group of House Republicans who gave Mr. Ryan a pass back then now say they want to toss those numbers out like so much flotsam and pass their own budget with far tighter spending restrictions.”

That “core group of House Republicans” is the House Freedom Caucus, the band of 40 or so feral meerkats who did much of the heavy lifting in driving John Boehner into retirement. But they aren’t the only Republicans who look like infants here. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, last week announced they will not even let the director of the Office of Management and Budget present the proposed budget to the Congress. This practice is a common courtesy extended to presidential administrations for the last 40 years or so.

No one would expect any Congress to rubber-stamp a president’s budget proposal, of course. Not even if the same party controlled both chambers and the White House. But what’s notable here is this quote from one member of the Freedom Caucus:

If we are going to pass a Republican budget, it should reflect Republican ideals,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a member of the Freedom Caucus that is leading this charge. “That means lower spending.”

Right, except you’re not passing a Republican budget any more than President Obama expects you to pass a Democratic budget. The president’s proposal is the opening to a negotiation, to be hashed out between two parties. Is anyone available who can explain the job of legislating to these legislators?

GARY LEGUM | Salon
A New York Times columnist sees the light of Obama's decency and humanity. It's late, but nevertheless welcome

By abetting an image of a bifurcated political world, Brooks has helped further the vilification of Obama and the Republican descent into the politics of hatred. The us-versus-them, good-guy-versus-bad-guy simplistic vision of the political world that continues to dominate in the United States has long been augmented by the need for people who never step out of character on television—and Brooks has willingly been one of those characters. That he is now trying to change is good. What’s bad is that he seems completely unwilling to accept his own culpability in creation of the contemporary toxic political environment.

Imagine if, eight years ago, Brooks had admitted Obama’s essential integrity—had, in fact, trumpeted it. What if he had convinced others of his political stripe that it was better to lose with dignity to a dignified opponent than to continue slash-and-burn politics?

AARON BARLOW | Salon
They didn’t just win. They trounced their opponents.

The breadth of Sanders victory in New Hampshire was impressive. According to the network exit poll, he won the male vote by sixty-five per cent to thirty-four per cent, and the female vote by fifty-three per cent to forty-six per cent. Among women under the age of thirty, despite (or perhaps partly because of) the best efforts of Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, he got eighty-two per cent of the vote.

Sanders won in every age group except people over sixty-five, and he came out ahead in every income group except those earning more than two hundred thousand dollars a year. The fact that he won by roughly two to one among voters earning less than fifty thousand dollars a year was especially notable. In 2008, low- and middle-income workers were at the core of Clinton’s campaign, and something similar was true in 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected President. On seeing the numbers, Larry Sabato, a veteran election watcher at the University of Virginia, tweeted, “No way Hillary can declare herself the comeback kid. The Clinton coalition from 1992 and 2008 has collapsed.”

JOHN CASSIDY |New Yorker
Trump delivers, Clinton's in real trouble and Sanders had better brace for scrutiny.
GLENN THRUSH |Politico




Jed McGowan
Jed McGowan

The Obama administration’s goal is to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons, with no specific timetable. But President Obama does not need a treaty with the Russians to take this action. He can just follow the lead of President George H. W. Bush, who unilaterally reduced America’s nuclear arsenal as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.

With less than a year left in office, President Obama could add to his legacy by sending a similar signal to the Russians today. We could reduce our arsenal from roughly 7,000 weapons to 1,000, eliminating land-based missiles and outlining plans to further reduce air- and submarine-based missiles.

ALAN ROBOCK and OWEN BRIAN TOON OPED |New York Times
Thomas Colligan
Thomas Colligan

SIXTY years ago, the last trolley jangled down the streets of Brooklyn, the end of an era for what was once the most common mode of transportation for urban Americans. Now streetcars are making a comeback nationwide. In the past decade, new lines have started running in eight cities; nearly a dozen more will be under construction this year.

New York needs a different kind of streetcar. The current plan does not include dedicated lanes, which are needed to keep trams going. The Paris region’s roughly 65-mile streetcar system, mostly completed over the past decade, shows how appealing quick-moving streetcars can be. Carefully chosen routes with very frequent arrivals and reliable service connect areas that previously had poor transit service. The trams save time, so riders make over 900,000 trips each day — far more than on the 117-mile Washington Metro train network, for example.

Other practices can also effectively reduce travel times for streetcar users. At intersections, stoplights should automatically turn green (or be prevented from turning red) when trams approach.

YONAH FREEMARK OPED |New York Times

Tom Friedman of the New York Times has completely given up on a two-state solution, forthrightly abandoning the polite fiction that there will ever be a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and ridiculing American presidential candidates for speaking as though it were still a possibility. In fact, he proclaims, with an eye for the glaringly obvious, the peace process is dead:

“The next U.S. president will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live.”

What is remarkable is that he puts Israeli and/or pro-Israeli actors first in his rogues gallery and pulls no punches. The villains of this piece include:

  1. Fanatical Jewish settlers on Palestinian land.
  2. Right-wing Jewish billionaires, such as Sheldon Adelson, who shielded expansionist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from criticism by influencing the US Congress. (Friedman has long since implicitly acknowledged the argument of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their The Israel Lobby, but this statement of it took even me aback; I think focusing only on the rightwing billionaires is a little unfair, since there are lots of Israel lobbies and many supporters of the Israeli squatters are neither rich nor right wing.)
  3. Netanyahu himself, characterized as power-hungry and unimaginative: “Bibi won: He’s now a historic figure — the founding father of the one-state solution.”
Juan Cole |Informed Comment
Migrant crisis: Nato deploys Aegean people-smuggling patrols [why not provide ferry service to avoid the many drownings? Why not pay Greecedesperate for economic help—to provide camps?]
Nato ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg says.

The announcement followed a request from Turkey, Germany and Greece at a defence ministers' meeting in Brussels.

Mr Stoltenberg said the mission would not be about "stopping or pushing back refugee boats".

Nato, he said, will contribute "critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking".

US defence secretary Ashton Carter earlier said that targeting the "criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people" would have the greatest humanitarian impact.

The decision was made to help Turkey and Greece "manage a human tragedy in a better way than we have managed to do so far," Mr Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary General, said.

Israeli PM says proposed barrier would also solve problem of Hamas tunnels from Gaza, but plan already has critics in his own cabinet
Binyamin Netanyahu inspects the new fence at the border between Jordan and Israel near Eilat, saying: ‘In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.’ Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/EPA
Binyamin Netanyahu inspects the new fence at the border between Jordan and Israel near Eilat, saying: ‘In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.’ Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/EPA
Peter Beaumont |Guardian
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Justice Department is suing the Missouri municipality after an agreement on reform broke down.

The Justice Department filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, in federal court Wednesday, accusing the municipality of “a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the Constitution and federal civil rights laws,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced.

MATT FORD | Atlantic
The Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan's veto.

The Maryland General Assembly restored Tuesday the right to vote for more than 40,000 released felons, overriding a veto by Governor Larry Hogan. Maryland’s Senate approved the bill on a narrow 29-18 vote, while the state House of Delegates voted 85-56 in favor of it on January 20.

About 44,000 Marylanders will regain their vote under the new law, according to the Washington Post. The law goes into effect in 30 days, just over one month before the state’s primary elections on April 26.

Legislators in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly have overridden all six vetoes issued by Hogan, a Republican, in the latest legislative session.

MATT FORD | Atlantic
Board of disciplinary appeals upholds decision against Charles Sebesta, who presented false testimony and withheld information in case of Anthony Graves
Amanda Holpuch |Guardian
China, emerging markets, the eurozone, oil and commodities all pose a threat to the banking sector this year

Oil, mining and commodity-related debts ballooned in part because they borrowed heavily to fund investment when commodity prices were high. Now that prices have tumbled, those debts look increasingly unsustainable. America’s second-biggest natural gas firm, Chesapeake Energy, threatens to provide the first significant example of a big company driven under by debt. It was forced to deny this week that it was on the verge of bankruptcy, with debts of $10bn and a market value of just $1.2bn.

It is not just in the US where such disasters could arise. Firms that operate in regions where it costs a lot to extract oil, such as the UK North Sea, are seeing their profits wiped out.

Prolonged rock-bottom oil prices raise the prospect that some of these oil and gas companies will default on their debts, sending shockwaves through lenders such as banks and bond investors.

Phillip Inman and Rob Davies |Guardian
Japanese shares have fallen 2.3% on Wednesday as the Bank of Japan’s recent decision to force interest rates below zero is seen as having little impact

One analyst said markets could be seeing the start of the “final capitulation” as the attempt by central banks to stimulate growth with cheap money since the global financial crisis in 2008 had run its course.

“The artificial support from central banks is at a crossroads,” said Evan Lucas, of IG in Melbourne. “Central bank intervention will no longer create the holding pattern of the past year; markets now believe banks are out of ammunition.”

Martin Farrer and agencies |Guardian
If we want to live in a country with single-payer healthcare and a $15 minimum wage, our only choice is to fight
ROBERT REICH / ROBERTREICH.ORG | Salon
QE and low interest rates have disproportionately created wealth in the financial sector and inflated asset bubbles. It has done little for the real economy. The rules of the market need to be rewritten

Neither monetary policy nor the financial sector is doing what it’s supposed to do. It appears that the flood of liquidity has disproportionately gone towards creating financial wealth and inflating asset bubbles, rather than strengthening the real economy. Despite sharp declines in equity prices worldwide, market capitalization as a share of world GDP remains high. The risk of another financial crisis cannot be ignored.

There are other policies that hold out the promise of restoring sustainable and inclusive growth. These begin with rewriting the rules of the market economy to ensure greater equality, more long-term thinking, and reining in the financial market with effective regulation and appropriate incentive structures.

But large increases in public investment in infrastructure, education, and technology will also be needed. These will have to be financed, at least in part, by the imposition of environmental taxes, including carbon taxes, and taxes on the monopoly and other rents that have become pervasive in the market economy – and contribute enormously to inequality and slow growth.

Joseph Stiglitz / Project Syndicate | Guardian

LONDON – Price movements as large and rapid as those that have upended oil markets since June 2014 are sure to cause pain to some and benefit others. Though the pain tends to capture the most attention, the benefit is just as important – if not more so. The 70% drop in the price of a barrel of crude represents a colossal transfer of $3 trillion in annual income from oil producers to oil consumers.

As a result, while sliding equity markets and a further decline in oil (and other commodity) prices have sparked much talk of another global recession, dire predictions are likely to prove overly gloomy and misdirected. To be sure, the dramatic drop in the price of oil will produce winners and losers. But the biggest dangers will be political, not economic.

Bill Emmott / Project Syndicate | Informed Comment
Japan’s Nikkei index falls more than 5% in trading with Australian and some other Asian markets following suit
Justin McCurry and agencies | Guardian

Reference:

The Financial Times headline is uncharacteristically dramatic: America’s Middle Class Meltdown: core shrinks to half of US homes.

1971 household income in 2014 dollars  (% of adults)
Click to enlarge
Household income in 2014 dollars (% of adults)
Click to enlarge
YVES SMITH | Naked Capitalism | Ref.
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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