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Established 1973 — Last updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 9:28 AM
 Important Policy and Practice News
Permanent Editorial?
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 and importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

[Sorry I didn't date this, which has been updated over time, my anger unrelenting. It was posted in early 2010. A similar editorial re. triple-play communication services is also much deserved, since all OECD countries pay much less.]
Emma Thompson couldn't give a damn about fame, or getting older: she just wants to save the planet, and be a good parent in the meantime
EMMA BROCKES in The Guardian
Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago.

Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans.

JUSTIN GILLIS in The New York Times
In the face of those who use religion to deny the worldwide crisis of climate change, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, believes that her faith is compatible with science. This week she speaks to Bill about ending the gridlock between politics, science and faith in order to find solutions to the widespread threats associated with global warming.
Bill Moyers interview on Moyers and company
Soon after reporting on the 2010 BP oil spill, Naomi Klein found she was pregnant – and miscarried. Was there a connection? She looks at the 'greenwashing' of big business and its effects
Naomi Klein in The Guardian
One reason the United States has not made more progress against poverty is that our interventions come too late. If there’s one overarching lesson from the past few decades of research about how to break the cycles of poverty in the United States, it’s the power of parenting — and of intervening early, ideally in the first year or two of life or even before a child is born.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF and SHERYL WuDUNN in The New York Times
The statements are the league’s most unvarnished admission yet that the sport’s professional participants sustain severe brain injuries at far higher rates than the general population. [Do symptoms include quick temper and violence?]
KEN BELSON in The New York Times

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.
SOURCE: The White House | Ref.
SOURCE: Slate Mag. | Ref.
SOURCE: The American Medical Student Association | Ref.
SOURCE: Readers | 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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On the national level, Democrats and independents — most of whom did not vote in the 2010 midterm Congressional elections — were swamped by Republicans who voted in much larger proportions. The result was a Republican House dominated by the hard right, which over four years became the largest impediment to economic growth and equality. The same thing has happened in many statewide elections.

It’s now seven weeks from the midterms. Will voters realize that decisions made on Nov. 4 will reverberate in laws not passed, roads not built and jobs not created?

EDITORIAL in The New York Times
In 2005, Utah set out to fix a problem that’s often thought of as unfixable: chronic homelessness. The state had almost two thousand chronically homeless people. Most of them had mental-health or substance-abuse issues, or both. At the time, the standard approach was to try to make homeless people “housing ready”: first, you got people into shelters or halfway houses and put them into treatment; only when they made progress could they get a chance at permanent housing. Utah, though, embraced a different strategy, called Housing First: it started by just giving the homeless homes.
JAMES SUROWIECKI in The New Yorker
Congregations have reported an increase in spontaneous hand-waving, jumping, shouting, singing, and other "spiritual behavior" over the last decade and a half. Why? [Are believers mentally unable to use facts and logic? Let's get serious about understanding and stopping the belief-sickness of fundamentalism]
EMMA GREEN in The Atlantic
Unprofessional journalists are critiqued.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
James Heckman’s proposals are not particularly radical in terms of major institutional changes in our educational structure. Rather, they are more profoundly social in nature. Enriched parenting, providing children with encouragement, and creating early environments promoting cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills, are the kinds of things that Heckman’s research is designed to promote. But his research also indicates that something as basic as reading to a child on a regular basis, a very simple human activity that many of these disadvantaged kids don’t get, can have significant payoffs in terms of IQ development.
But younger Americans value library services less than more senior cohorts, study finds.
ADRIENNE LAFRANCE in The Atlantic



Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

Moshe Ya'alon joins political and military leadership in attack on reservists who refuse to serve in Palestinian territories [Altogether now, let's punish our best and brightest for doing the right thing]
Peter Beaumont in The Guardian
The ostentatious horror of Isis’s actions – the latest of which is the beheading of the British aid worker David Haines – and the way in which it actively solicits disgust, now has to be reconciled with the knowledge that these combatants are educated, tech-savvy and enjoy a popular base. The mainstream press doesn’t offer much help in interpreting this.
Richard Seymour in The Guardian
People around the world view the US as the greatest threat to peace; voted three times more dangerous than any other country. The data confirm this conclusion:
The humble traffic signal is gaining some new responsibilities.
Instead of using humans to monitor and react to traffic flow, the new signals use radar sensors and cameras to detect traffic, and sophisticated algorithms to instantly adjust signals based on real-time conditions. "Each intersection builds a plan that optimizes local traffic flow," says Smith. "Once it does that, it communicates its outflows to its downstream neighbors."
KEITH BARRY in CityLab
Secretary of State John Kerry received broad assurances but no public commitments from Egypt on Saturday as he continued his tour of the Middle East to try to assemble a coalition behind an American campaign against the extremist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ["What problem?" Muslims ask]
MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK in The New York Times
Obama’s Strategy for Fighting ISIS Isn’t All About Us
ISIS loses if our moderate Arab-Muslim partners can unite and make this a civil war within Islam — a civil war in which America is the air force for the Sunnis and Shiites of decency versus those of barbarism. ISIS wins if it can make this America’s war with Sunni Islam — a war where America is the Shiite/Alawite air force against Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. ISIS will use every bit of its Twitter/Facebook network to try to depict it as the latter, and draw more recruits.
Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times
In recent months, there has also been a proliferation of amateur violent propaganda from ISIS and its supporters, ranging from photographs of bodily mutilation to grainy videos of executions filmed on cell phones. This visual and sickeningly macabre material is made and distributed by ISIS fighters themselves and represents a purer kind of gonzo. A few weeks ago, for example, Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old British rapper from London whom British intelligence officials suspect may be the masked killer in the Foley and Sotloff beheading videos, uploaded to Twitter a picture of himself holding up a severed head. The caption read: “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.” Other jihadists have similarly made use of social media to publicize their atrocities.
SIMON COTTEE in The Atlantic
The Scottish bid for independence could set a new precedent for separatist movements around the world.
In an age where revolutions spread rapidly, nationalism can at times be pernicious and even dangerous. But the Scottish example sends a different message: separatism need not be incompatible with liberal and democratic values. Could that idea catch on, too?
MATT FORD in The Atlantic
In a letter sent Thursday night to their commanders as well as Israel’s prime minister and army chief, 43 veterans of the clandestine Unit 8200 complained that Israel made “no distinction between Palestinians who are and are not involved in violence” and that information collected “harms innocent people.” Intelligence “is used for political persecution,” they wrote, which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”
JODI RUDOREN in The New York Times
Ten men accused of trying to kill teenage education campaigner detained in operation by army, police and intelligence agencies
Agence France-Presse via The Guardian
In the tight-knit communities of the far north, there are no roads, no police officers—and higher rates of sexual assault than anywhere else in the United States.
Sara Bernard in The Atlantic
The letter, also sent to the Baltimore Sun, notes that the Rice incident isn't even the first case of domestic violence in the NFL this year and argued that the league's new policy isn't strict enough. "If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL," the senators wrote.
ARIT JOHN in The Wire
Elections don’t change things, the rich and the political elites win either way. Legislation doesn’t change things, the Supreme Court stands like a wall against change that might impact the rich and the political elites, just like it did in the 1930s. It’s getting to be more than public relations and war-mongering can hide.

Maybe someone should think about how we can make life better for everyone, even if it means the rich don’t get all the money.

masaccio in Fire Dog Lake
Cameron’s and Ukip’s backing for a treaty that lets corporations devour public services exposes their duplicity
Owen Jones in The Guardian
When the OECD, World Bank, and the International Labor Organization agree on something, it’s a sign something serious is afoot. In this case, the three groups have issued a joint paper, G20 labour markets: outlook, key challenges and policy responses, which despite the anodyne title, gives a grim account of the prospects for workers in major economies.
Yves Smith in Naked Capitalism
Nevada’s Gigafactory deal is just the latest of the roughly $70 billion in incentives governments have given companies since the mid-1970s. [Symptom of dire economic stress]
RICHARD FLORIDA in CityLab
The U.S. is troubled by a growing divide between rich and poor.

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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