Last updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 9:10 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
As people flee intense heat in Arizona for gentler climes, rental and property values soar. But what about those left behind?
Oliver Milman | The Guardian
Party committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by middle of the century
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
India and Saudi Arabia are the other two nations set to be hit hardest, new report says

....The Trump administration has been active in scrapping various environmental regulations, including pulling the US out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. The president did so in large part because of claims about the economy, including suggestions that global warming is a hoax created by China to punish the US.

The new study shows that the US economy in fact stands to lose considerably from climate change, despite repeated suggestions from politicians that the opposite is true.

"Our analysis demonstrates that the argument that the primary beneficiaries of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would be other countries is a total myth," said lead author and University of California San Diego assistant professor Kate Ricke. "We consistently find, through hundreds of uncertainty scenarios, that the US always has one of the highest country-level SCCs.

"It makes a lot of sense because the larger your economy is, the more you have to lose. Still, it's surprising just how consistently the US is one of the biggest losers, even when compared to other large economies."

Previous analysis has largely looked at the global cost of carbon emissions. That is more easy to calculate, because carbon dioxide affects the whole world.

But the new study combines results from a series of studies and models to work out how the increase in carbon would affect individual countries. The results should serve as a warning to those countries most affected that they must do more to act together and mitigate climate change, the authors wrote.

Countries in the European Union, for instance, have been among those keenest and most active in addressing climate change, but are relatively unaffected according to the new study. Those that the study found to be most affected by carbon emissions – including India and China alongside the US – have also been less proactive in promoting new regulations to combat them, the authors noted.

Andrew Griffin | UK Independent
Glyphosate – the most used pesticide ever – damages the good bacteria in honeybee guts, making them more prone to deadly infections
Damian Carrington | The Guardian
Human cognitive ability is being damaged not just by CO2 and lead, but the way social media feeds us information, making us shockingly ill-equipped to clean up the air we breathe

In Mike Judge’s 2006 comedy, Idiocracy, the participants in an ill-fated cryogenics experiment awake 500 years in the future to discover that due to dysgenic mutation, anti-intellectualism and corporate capitalism the intelligence of the population has fallen to dangerous levels. The president is sponsored by fast-food chain Carl’s Jr., and crops are failing because the fields are irrigated with energy drinks. The film was abandoned by its studio and largely ignored at the box office, but its subsequent cult status might be in danger once again, this time from the overbearing reality of present events.

Researchers from Beijing University and Yale School of Health published research last month showing that people who live in major cities – which is, today, most of us – are not only suffering from increases in respiratory illnesses and other chronic conditions due to air pollution, but are losing our cognitive functions. The study showed that high pollution levels lead to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the impact on some participants equivalent to losing several years of education. Other studies have shown that high air pollution is linked to premature birth, low birth weight, mental illness in children and dementia in the elderly.

We’re only just beginning to understand how the air we breathe affects not just our physical environment, but our mental capacity as well. And the air we breathe is changing in the long term, as well as the short. Rising carbon dioxide levels – the main driver of climate change – aren’t just a hazard to the earth and other living creatures, they’re also affecting our thinking. At higher levels, CO2 clouds the mind: it makes us slower and less likely to develop new ideas, it degrades our ability to take in new information, change our minds, or formulate complex thoughts.

Global atmospheric CO2 levels passed 400 parts per million in 2016, and despite global agreements to keep runaway climate change under control, little action has been taken. The very worst-case scenario – AKA business as usual, which is the track we’re on – predicts atmospheric CO2 concentration of 1,000ppm by 2100. At 1,000ppm, human cognitive ability drops by 21%. ...

James Bridle | The Guardian
Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]
Increasing demand from airlines will more than offset reductions from electric cars
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
Staff | Reuters TV
Recycling is an easy cop-out for governments and large corporations, but the truth is that we have to take very different action if we want to stop irreversibly poisoning the planet

....Plastic – unlike glass or metal – cannot be recycled infinitely, and after a handful of times it will be discarded, where it will take centuries to degrade. One single water bottle will remain on the planet in some form for a minimum of 450 years. ...

Sirena Bergman | UK Independent
Public lands have been in the news a lot lately, but what exactly are they?

Well, the optimistic answer is the one supplied by Woody Guthrie:

"This land is your land, this land is my land...

But of course, we are a culture that feels a need to own things – so it's not that simple. ...

Melissa Breyer | TreeHugger
Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include migrants from other nations even more affected]
By the end of this century, sea level rises alone could displace 13m people. Many states will have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. But, as one expert says, ‘No state is unaffected by this’

....By the end of this century, sea level rise alone could displace 13 million people, according to one study, including 6 million in Florida. States including Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey will also have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. ...

Oliver Milman | The Guardian
by Marcia Sousa Translated by Zoë Montano | ARCHitecture DAILY
The $1bn, decade-in-the-making creation can measure height and thickness of ice sheets to within a centimeter
Emily Holden | The Guardian
‘True risks’ of warming played down to placate fossil-fuel nations
Robin McKie | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'
BOB SOMERBY in The DailyHowler | EVERY DAY


Women aren’t just mad – they’re organized and mobilized politically in a way we’ve never quite seen before

....Ever since Donald Trump took the oath of office, the wrath of women has found expression in a remarkable growth of activism and grassroots organizing. When millions of Americans joined the Women’s Marches around the country in January 2017, the outpouring was a harbinger of what was to come: a multi-issue, women-led upsurge of political engagement on an unprecedented scale. Nearly 25,000 protests have taken place since Trump’s inauguration, involving somewhere between 14 and 21 million Americans. These figures greatly exceed levels of protest participation at any prior time in US history, even the height of the Vietnam war. And no matter the issue or focus of the demonstrations, women have consistently been the majority of those taking to the streets. ...

LA Kauffman | The Guardian
"The stories we're hearing from survivors are chilling. They're all too devastating and all too common. They're why we're here today."

Ahead of a 1pm national walkout on Monday to support Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez—who have accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault—and demand that lawmakers oppose him, hundreds of critics flooded Capitol Hill to target specific senators such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose responses to the women's claims have outraged advocates for survivors of sexual violence. ...

Jessica Corbett, staff writer | Common Dreams
Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations will remind many women of men from their past. However, there can be strength in not forgetting
Nesrine Malik | The Guardian
The president of the United States has sent women the worst message: that there is no point telling people about your assault because you won’t be believed
Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian
Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale with Kavanaugh, has described a drunken party during which genitals were thrust in her face
Oliver Laughland and Ben Jacobs | The Guardian
A South Carolina congressman makes a joke about allegations facing Brett Kavanaugh and manages to belittle Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the same time
Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian
Harper’s and New York Review of Books both published problematic essays by men disgraced by #MeToo. Here is what that reveals
Moira Donegan | The Guardian
The news that authorities used a trailer to store 273 corpses offered a symbol for a crisis that affords no dignity to its victims
David Agren | The Guardian

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Frederica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, chaired a special session of foreign ministers on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meeting aimed at outmaneuvering Donald Trump on the Iran Deal.

The meeting was attended by the European Union “Big Three,” i.e. Britain, France and Germany (the E3), plus Russia and China. So four of the five members of the UN Security Council participated. The US was conspicuous by its absence.

In my whole 65 years I have never heard about 4 members of the UN Security Council meeting without the US and with the express purpose of outflanking Washington Policy! This is both weird and ominous. ...

JUAN COLE | Informed Comment
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Spain has become the latest country to voice its readiness to recognize the State of Palestine and that it will promote a European Union (EU) move to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, spoke at a conference of EU leaders in Austria, saying that the Spanish government will promote an EU move to recognize Palestine. ...

Source: MAAN NEWS AGENCY | Informed Comment
Jair Bolsonaro, who has called women idiots and issued taunts about rape, could be the next president. For the 2.5m women who joined a new Facebook group, something had to be done
Tom Phillips | The Guardian

Virtual Nations could replace nation-states, if everyone acts as agents for an ideal world
Marc Cherbonnier | The Baltimore Chronicle | Ref.

At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism
A European Union inquiry into Amazon’s business practices raises the same questions we should be asking in the United States about Amazon’s size and power

....Amazon has far outstripped its role as a digital big-box retailer. It is a digital mall that happens to also be the mall’s biggest tenant. It both sells merchandise and is the landlord of the space other stores use to sell their merchandise. It collects rent from these merchants based on their sales. It also gains knowledge about the customers who use these stores and what they buy. As both mall tenant and mall landlord, it has the power to decide when to aggressively compete against a third-party reseller, taking the whole business for itself rather than just a cut.

That power is magnified by the increasing control that Amazon has over the information people receive about products and sellers as shoppers use that site instead of search engines.

“To talk about Amazon as a retailer really misses the true nature of this company,” Mitchell said. “What Amazon's ambition is, is to really be the underlying infrastructure of the economy. It's ambition is not so much to dominate markets, but to become the market.”

Amazon is a prime symbol of the concentration of economic power across a range of sectors that has in the past two decades led to suppressed wage growth for a majority of workers in America and the narrowing of paths that used to exist to the middle class.

“We think we're this country of entrepreneurs. But, in fact, we're creating new businesses at about one-third the rate that we were in the 1980s; it's really quite dramatic,” Mitchell said. ...

Isaiah J. Poole | Common Dreams

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