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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, January 31, 2015, 11:52 AM
Policy, Practice & Analysis
Today's posts in bigger type––>.
Prior 2/3-days posts in small type.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
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, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

Senators accept global warming is not a hoax but fail to recognise human activity is to blame, nearly 27 years after scientists laid out man’s role
Republican and US senator James Inhofe: ‘Man can’t change climate’. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
Republican and US senator James Inhofe: ‘Man can’t change climate’. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
Move to lease large swaths of ocean along east coast and double down in Gulf of Mexico oddly comes in wake of attacks against right for climate change denial
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian

If we really want to reform health care, in the little time we may have before our health care bubble bursts, we will need to take strong action against health care corruption. Such action will really disturb the insiders within large health care organizations who have gotten rich from their organizations’ misbehavior, and thus taking such action will require some courage. Yet such action cannot begin until we acknowledge and freely discuss the problem. The first step against health care corruption is to be able to say or write the words, health care corruption.

Roy Poses, MD, from Health Care Renewal | Naked Capitalism
Decades in the making, Iter, a huge experimental nuclear fusion reactor in rural France, could be the site of breakthroughs that will provide limitless, clean energy and secure the planet’s future
Alok Jha | The Guardian
Glacier monitoring technology shows the most rapid glacier depletion for at least three centuries. Big glaciers are shrinking, with small ones disappearing altogether
Bernard Francou | The Guardian
Polluting factories and skyrocketing vehicle ownership blamed as report finds tourism to Chinese city falls 10% on year before
Jonathan Kaiman | The Guardian

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 | The 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

Dr. Peter Bach: Medicare has to pay exactly what the drug company charges. Whatever that number is.

Lesley Stahl: Wait a minute, this is a law?

Dr. Peter Bach: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: And there's no negotiating whatsoever with Medicare?

Dr. Peter Bach: No.

[All other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | Ref.
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.
Proposal calls for investment in a full range of infrastructure projects, and he says it would put 13 million people to work

“For too many years, we’ve underfunded our nation’s physical infrastructure. We have to change that and that’s what the Rebuild America Act is all about. We must modernize our infrastructure and create millions of new jobs that will put people back to work and help the economy,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, who introduced the $1 trillion bill.

Ashley Halsey III | The Washington Post
Prominent Republican Dan Patrick accused of reneging on his promises after appearing lukewarm on open carrying of handguns
Tom Dart | The Guardian
Loretta Lynch promised to repair the Justice Department's toxic relationship with the GOP. That might be enough to get her the job.
What's behind the "debate" over issues like climate change and vaccination? Can evidence change people's minds?

On certain hot-button scientific topics of our day, Pew Research Center found wide gaps between what the public believes, and what scientists believe. You can probably guess which ones.

[Another Fox News problem...]
JULIE BECK | The Atlantic
“The sequester is like invading Brazil after Pearl Harbor — it’s a vigorous reaction, but it’s the wrong target.”

“No foe in the field can wreak such havoc on our security that mindless sequestration is achieving today.”
Molly O'Toole | Defense One
Only some of the money, the amount of which is nearly double what the Kochs spent on 2012 elections, would come from the brothers themselves
Amanda Holpuch | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

The poorer parents are, the less they talk with their children—harming their children’s vocabulary and IQ. The mayor of Providence is trying to close the “word gap.”
“Families that talk a lot also talk about more different things. They use more grammatical variety in their sentences and more sophisticated vocabulary, and produce more utterances in connected chains. Such parents don’t just say, ‘That’s a teapot.’ They say, ‘Oh, look, a teapot! Let’s have a tea party! There’s Raggedy Ann—do you think she wants to come to our tea party? Does she like sugar in her tea?’ ”
Catherine Snow,
a professor at Harvard’s
Graduate School of Education
This week Kurdish forces took full control of Kobani, a Syrian town near the Turkish border, after months of bombardment by Islamic State. Mona Mahmood speaks to four Kurdish families about the female fighters who died helping to wrest control of the town from Isis
Mona Mahmood | The Guardian
Students in Kiev release YouTube video for their Moscow equivalents speaking out against ‘rampant Kremlin propaganda’ they say fuels the conflict in eastern Ukraine. RFE/RL reports
Arslan Saidov and Claire Bigg for RFE/RL, part of the New East network | The Guardian
As this year’s World Economic Forum underlined, growth dominates Davos discussions – yet the focus should be on sustainable development
Lawrence Haddad | The Guardian

....Gates went on to highlight a Microsoft project known as the "Personal Agent," which is being designed to help people manage their memory, attention and focus. "The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this," he said. "It will work across all your devices."

The response from Reddit users was mixed, with some making light of Gates's revelation ("Clippy 2.0?," wrote one user) -- and others sounding the alarm.

"This technology you are developing sounds at its essence like the centralization of knowledge intake," a Redditor wrote. "Ergo, whomever controls this will control what information people make their own. Even today, we see the daily consequences of people who live in an environment that essentially tunnel-visions their knowledge."

[(Like Fox News...) The main issue is focusing on AI development for the good and avoiding the bad, and who does that?]
Peter Holley | The Washington Post
Turkey has become a hub for human traffickers, with freighters picking up Syrians in the port city and smuggling them on to Europe. It's a lucrative business built on the hardships of others.

The terrorists’ goal is to spread irrational fear and cause costly overreactions that divide society along the lines they choose. Our intelligence officials shouldn’t be helping them. There will always be those that use violence to make political points. Recognizing this is a sign of weakness rather than strength will help us build a stronger and more resilient society that fear could never defeat.

Michael German | Defense One

“Systems need to be built in a way that is difficult to attack. You need to have a holistic view of cybersecurity....

Linda Kinstler | Defense One

The assumption in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's entourage before Sunday's Greek election was that Tsipras, the charismatic leader of the far-left Syriza party, would eke out a narrow victory, struggle to form a coalition, and if he managed to do so, shift quickly from confrontation to compromise mode.

Instead, after cruising to victory and clinching a fast-track coalition deal with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, he has signalled in his first days in office that he has no intention of backing down, unsettling officials in Berlin, some of whom admit to shock at the 40-year-old's fiery start.

NOAH BARKIN, REUTERS | Business Insider
Ordnance left by parting international troops kills or injures about 40 people a month – the vast majority children
Sune Engel Rasmussen | The Guardian
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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How the rise of the Swiss franc could destabilize Europe

Altogether about 566,000 Polish households, 150,000 Romanian households, and 60,000 Croatian households bought lower-interest Swiss-franc denominated mortgages. Most astonishing of all was the Hungarian case: half of all households in Hungary contracted foreign-currency debt, almost always in the form of Swiss francs....

Everywhere in Europe, traditional modes of leadership and established institutions are unraveling. Last weekend, Greece elected a government that rejects EU-imposed austerity (a neo-Nazi party finished third). Marine Le Pen of the far-right, anti-EU National Front leads the polls in French presidential matchups. If the polls are accurate, almost half of all Italian voters support parties that are skeptical of or outright opposed to the European Union.

The last thing Europe needs is one more shove toward the ideological extremes. But thanks to its mortgage bankers, and the unintended consequences of Swiss monetary policy, it may have just received another.

DAVID FRUM | The Atlantic
The recent decision by the European Central Bank to open the monetary floodgates has weakened the euro and is boosting the German economy. But the move increases the threat of turbulence on the financial markets and could trigger a currency war.
Wal-Mart says it wants to be part of the solution of rebuilding our manufacturing sector. But to walk the walk, Wal-Mart needs to sell a much higher percentage of goods in its stores that are actually manufactured in the U.S.
Damon Silvers | The Hill

The effective corporate income tax rate is almost exactly the same in the United States as in other OECD countries. (While the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate is well above the OECD average, the many loopholes in the U.S. corporate tax bring the effective rate down substantially.) Then how is it that corporate taxes account for a much smaller share of GDP in the United States than in other high-income countries? The answer lies in forms of incorporation that allow U.S. corporate profits to be taxed at the lower individual income tax rate.

John Miller from Triple Crisis | Naked Capitalism

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.
Recent events involving a controversial drug, cruel mistakes and arbitrary, last-minute decisions have exposed the United States' system of capital punishment for exactly what it is: a human rights violation unworthy of a democracy.
Markus Feldenkirchen | Der Spiegel
In the hearing to confirm her as attorney general, Loretta Lynch confirmed that waterboarding is torture. She should prosecute those who did it
Trevor Timm | The Guardian
The US government’s demands for the private emails of WikiLeaks staffers is outrageous. Disliking Julian Assange is a disgraceful reason anyone to stay silent
Trevor Timm | The Guardian
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