Last updated: Thursday, October 18, 2018, 9:39 AM
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Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type,
Prior 2 days are 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
Few companies specialize in carbon removal and the tools they produce are currently still expensive

....People have done too much damage to the climate to avoid catastrophe just by halting the burning of fossil fuels. They now will have to re-engineer the world, according to scientists with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The livability of the planet will thus depend largely on tools that are now available only on a small scale and currently still expensive.

....While it’s technically feasible to slow fossil fuel use fast enough and capture enough greenhouse gases to limit warming, the world is not on track to do so.

Scaling up carbon capture technology is possible but will be difficult, said Kurt Waltzer, managing director for the Clean Air Task Force.

“We are absolutely going to have to have a significant amount of carbon removal, there’s no question about it,” Waltzer said. “The level will probably depend on how quickly we can get to a zero-carbon world, but it is going to be enormous.” ...

Emily Holden | The Guardian
  • The Earth is undergoing a mass extinction, which is caused by human activity that destroys habitats and kills off species.
  • In a new study, Danish researchers concluded that so many mammal species will go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet's evolutionary diversity won't recover for at least 3 million years.
  • The scientists said their findings could be used to help determine which endangered species are the biggest priorities for conservation efforts.
Peter Kotecki | Business Insider
US analyst criticises successive governments for defending coal in wake of alarming IPCC report on climate change
Calla Wahlquist | The Guardian
Big six energy firm drops fossil fuels for generation and say cheap green energy is the future
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]
Dunkirk is a month into a project that makes it the biggest European city to offer entirely free public transport to residents and visitors alike. So what do people think?
Kim Willsher | The Guardian
The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.
Plugging in cars and trucks will be critical to averting climate catastrophe, according to the IPCC. How far has the U.S. come?

....To avoid the most dire consequences of climate change, the global transportation sector will need a major overhaul. In the U.S., the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, transportation makes up the largest share of emissions. In cities, passenger vehicles and public transit fleets will have to move from fuel-burning engines to electrification, a “powerful measure to decarbonize short-distance vehicles,” according to the IPCC report. ...

'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]
Climate scientists have political agendas, US president says in interview with 60 Minutes
Emily Holden | The Guardian
The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]
The company has achieved formidable reach by focusing on small markets where its TV stations can have a big influence.

....Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, with a hundred and ninety-two stations in eighty-nine markets. It reaches thirty-nine per cent of American viewers. The company’s executive chairman, David D. Smith, is a conservative whose views combine a suspicion of government, an aversion to political correctness, and strong libertarian leanings.... Sinclair employees say that the company orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and that it feeds interviewers questions intended to favor Republicans.

In some cases, anchors have been compelled to read from scripts prepared by Sinclair. In April, 2018, dozens of newscasters across the country parroted Trump’s invectives about “fake news,” saying, “Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think. This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” In response, Dan Rather, the former anchor of “CBS Evening News,” wrote, on Twitter, “News anchors looking into camera and reading a script handed down by a corporate overlord, words meant to obscure the truth not elucidate it, isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. It’s Orwellian. A slippery slope to how despots wrest power, silence dissent, and oppress the masses.”

....There are regulations that prevent any single company from controlling too large a share of the press, in order to protect competition and the free exchange of ideas. Sinclair has achieved its formidable reach by exploiting loopholes in these regulations. During the past few decades, it has bought small and midsized television-station operators and then circumvented regulations by setting up shell companies that on paper appear to be separate entities but over which Sinclair exerts almost total control. Sinclair’s stations—there are often several in the same broadcast area, branded as local ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox affiliates—enjoy the trust of viewers because they appear independent, even though much of the content is dictated at a national level. A former news director at a Sinclair-owned station told me that Smith “purposely went in and bought a whole bunch of stations in mid-America—i.e., Trump kinds of towns. Places where they could have a big influence.” She added, “I don’t care what your politics are—the bottom line is, they hatched a plan to have an effect on the majority of this country. And, when you look at it, I’m positive the right-wing commentaries, in small markets, had an effect on the election.”...

Sheelah Kolhatkar | The New Yorker
Bad journalists are 'hounded'
BOB SOMERBY in The DailyHowler | EVERY DAY


Journalists grilled GOP politicians on climate change. It didn’t go well

Major climate science reports usually pass by largely unnoticed, but in the wake of the latest IPCC report a number of journalists laudably grilled Republican lawmakers about its findings. While their responses were predictably terrible, it’s nevertheless crucial for journalists to hold GOP politicians accountable for their climate denial and policy inaction. Donald Trump’s answers were particularly ignorant and nonsensical in his 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl. ...

Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian
Americans don’t just disagree on the issues. They disagree on what the issues are.
Dylan Scott | Vox
Republican work rules will do more harm than good.

Republican efforts to make it harder for low-income Americans to qualify for government social programs could jeopardize the food supply of more than 4 million children and seniors, and potentially leave 22 million people without health insurance, according to a report released Monday by the Brookings Institution. ...

Alexia Fernández Campbell | Vox
We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]
A staggering New York Times report on Trump family tax payments proved it: Congress must let the Internal Revenue Service do its job

....Since 1992, the American population has grown 27% but the IRS staff has shrunk by 34%, to less than 78,000 people. At the same time, Congress has added enormous complexity to the tax code. On top of this, the big accounting and law firms have devised all manner of complex new tax shelters. A few years ago, the IRS told Congress it lacks the expertise to thoroughly investigate such shelters and determine which are within the law and which are frauds that should be demolished.

....So if we assume the paper’s report is accurate, can the Trumps now be indicted?

David Cay Johnston | The Guardian
Black is white, up is down, and Republicans are defenders of Medicare.
Paul Krugman | The New York Times
Rachel M. Cohen, Ryan Grim | The Intercept
They came to the US seeking a better life. They ended up behind bars. Thousands of documents analyzed by the Guardian provide the most comprehensive picture yet of what happened to immigrants prosecuted under the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy
Olivia Solon, Julia Carrie Wong, Pamela Duncan, Margaret Katcher, Patrick Timmons, and Sam Morris | The Guardian
With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]
"No PACs, no special interests, no corporations," declares Democrat vying to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas. "All people, all the time, everywhere, every single day."
Jessica Corbett, staff writer | Common Dreams
Press reports leaked audio suggesting journalist was drugged, killed and dismembered

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has landed in Ankara for crisis talks with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, over the journalist Jamal Khashoggi as officials leaked gory details of what they claim was his murder in the Saudi consulate.

The dissident journalist was killed minutes after he arrived at the building to pick up marriage paperwork on 2 October, according to US and Turkish press reports of what the officials say are audio recordings that prove he was beaten and drugged, then brutally killed and dismembered.

The US president, Donald Trump, on Tuesday defended Saudi Arabia in the face of mounting allegations that Riyadh was involved in the Saudi journalist’s alleged killing.

The Wall Street Journal, citing Turkish official who had heard the recording, said Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered in the office of the Saudi consul general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, who was in the room at the time. A voice on the recording can be heard inviting him to leave, the report said.

Forensics expert Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy is reportedly heard putting on headphones to listen to music as he begins to dismember the body, and encouraging other people in the room to do the same.

According to Middle East Eye, Khashoggi was dragged from the office to Otaibi’s study next door, where Tubaigy began cutting up his body on a table while he was still alive.

....The US’s defence of its most important Arab ally may become harder to maintain as further damning details into Khashoggi’s alleged murder emerge and its links to the powerful crown prince.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that four of the men identified by Turkish media as part of a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh to silence Khashoggi were members of Bin Salman’s personal security detail. Another, the forensics doctor al-Tubaigy, holds a senior position in the Saudi interior ministry.

The suspects’ direct links to the Saudi establishment weakens the [unfounded exculpatory] suggestion made by Trump that the hit could have been carried out by “rogue killers” in an unauthorised operation.

Investigators believe Khashoggi’s body was then taken to the consul general’s house nearby, where it was disposed of.

Bethan McKernan | The Guardian
US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]
Rivalry escalates amid concerns over trade, as warships nearly collide and an FBI trap angers Beijing
Julian Borger and Lily Kuo | The Guardian
Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded become additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]
OECD says schemes selling either residency or citizenship threaten efforts to combat tax evasion
Juliette Garside | The Guardian
In the face of sustained government stupidity, many feel powerless.

....A politician can destroy our future, a politician can ignore the best evidence and be responsible for decisions that lead to deaths of many and the suffering of all, and still be free until the end of their days to milk the legal corruption that is Australian public life, picking up highly paid sinecures as ambassadors, board directors and lobbyists for the corporations they were once meant to regulate in our interest. ...

Richard Flanagan and Geoff Cousins | The Guardian

Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, if everyone acts as agents for an ideal world
Marc Cherbonnier | The Baltimore Chronicle | Ref.
The fund reports that Britain’s finances are weaker than all other nations except Portugal, and says privatisation is to blame

....Instead, what this IMF research shows is that the Westminster classes have been asset-stripping Britain for decades – and storing up financial trouble for future generations.

Privatisation and austerity have not only weakened the country’s financial position – they have also handed unearned wealth to a select few. Just look at a new report from the University of Greenwich finding that water companies could have funded all their day-to-day running and their long-term investments out of the bills paid by customers. Instead of which, managers have lumbered the firms with £51bn of debt to pay for shareholders’ dividends. Those borrowed billions, and the millions in interest, will be paid by you and me in our water bills. We might as well stuff the cash directly into the pockets of shareholders.

Instead of competitively run utilities, record investment by the private sector and sounder public finances, we have natural monopolies handed over to the wealthy, banks that can dump their liabilities on the public when things get tough, and an outsourcing industry that feasts upon the carcass of the public sector. As if all this weren’t enough, neoliberal voices complain that we need to cut taxes and red tape, and further starve our public services.

This is a genuine scandal, but it requires us to recognise what neoliberalism promised and what it has failed to deliver. Some of the loudest critics of the ideology have completely misidentified it. Academics will daub the term “neoliberal” on any passing phenomenon. Fitbits are apparently neoliberal, as is Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Kanye West. Pundits will say that neoliberalism is about markets and choice – tell that to any commuter wedged on a Southern rail train. And centrist politicians claim that the great failing of neoliberalism is its carelessness about identity and place, which is akin to complaining that the boy on a moped who snatched your smartphone is going too fast.

Let us get it straight. Neoliberalism has ripped you off and robbed you blind. The evidence of that is mounting up – in your bills, in your services and in the finances of your country.

Aditya Chakrabortty | The Guardian
The storm clouds are gathering, but the world’s economies now have far fewer shelters from disaster than they did in 1929

Late last month Indonesia was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami that left thousands of people dead and missing. This week the International Monetary Fund arrived in the country to hold its annual meeting on the island of Bali. On the day when the IMF issued a warning about trouble ahead for the global economy, the latest report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change said the world had only a dozen years left to take the steps necessary to prevent a global warming catastrophe. The message is clear for those willing to hear it: get ready for a time when economic failure combines with ecological breakdown to create the perfect storm. ...

Larry Elliott | The Guardian
Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron & personal profit]
Jonathan Chait | NY Mag. Daily Intelligencer
Source: MAAN NEWS AGENCY | Informed Comment

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