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Established 1973 — Last updated: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 7:48 AM
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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.

A recent study in the Lancet said climate change, fuelled by the burning of coal, presents a ‘potentially catastrophic risk to human health’ through pollution, extreme weather events and the spread of disease. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Decentralised energy systems, such as solar, can be deployed quicker and more cheaply than coal, when its cost to the climate and health are factored in, Oxfam said. Nearly 85% of people without electricity live in remote rural areas, separated from centralised coal-fired grid systems.

Coal exacts an “enormous toll” on people’s health, the report states, citing UK medical journal the Lancet’s recent finding that a global shift to renewable energy will prevent seven million deaths a year from air pollution.

The Lancet study said climate change, fuelled by the burning of coal as well as other fossil fuels, presents a “potentially catastrophic risk to human health” through heat stress, floods, drought, extreme weather events, air pollution and the spread of disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, climate change is due to cause an additional 250,000 extra deaths a year between 2030 and 2050.

Matthew Weaver | The Guardian

Baltimore, MD – On Tuesday, the Baltimore City Council took its first step toward urging a statewide ban on the dangerous practice of fracking in Maryland. After hearing public testimony, the Council’s Judiciary Committee voted 3-0 to advance a resolution calling on the state to place an outright ban on fracking due to its harmful health, environmental and economic impacts. The resolution currently has 13 co-sponsors and is scheduled for a vote by the full Council on August 17.

James Hansen testifying
James Hansen and 16 leading climate experts have written a must-read discussion paper on what humanity risks if it can’t keep total global warming below 2°C (3.6°F). The greatest risk they identify is “that multi-meter sea level rise would become practically unavoidable.”
JOE ROMM | Think Progress
“We have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis; by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent”

I want to explore two aspects of the water discussion here. First, the drought itself — it’s not ending anytime soon. Second, the way to end one of the great squeezes on our remaining water supply — end the death grip of privatizers.

Gaius Publius | Naked Capitalism
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at a campaign event, Sunday, July 26, 2015, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. On Sunday evening, the Democratic candidate released her plan to fight climate change.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at a campaign event, Sunday, July 26, 2015, at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. On Sunday evening, the Democratic candidate released her plan to fight climate change.

On Sunday evening, the Democratic presidential candidate released a fact sheet detailing her plan to fight climate change, and it focuses heavily on promoting clean energy generation across the country.

Among other things, the plan includes a promise to install half a billion solar panels by 2021, or the end of Clinton’s first term. That would represent a 700 percent increase from current installations, she said. Clinton also promised that, if elected, enough renewable energy would be produced to power every home in the country within 10 years.

EMILY ATKIN | Think Progress
A Dutch team spray water to liquefy the polluted soil and ease the pumping of the toxic waste in Abidjan on 21 September 2006. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images
A Dutch team spray water to liquefy the polluted soil and ease the pumping of the toxic waste in Abidjan on 21 September 2006. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

UK authorities have admitted they lack both the expertise and resources to investigate the oil company Trafigura for prosecution over its role in a toxic waste dump in Ivory Coast which left up to 100,000 people with skin rashes, headaches and respiratory problems.

In the past 15 months, the human rights group Amnesty International has contacted UK police forces, agencies and prosecutors with a detailed dossier laying out its case for why authorities should explore a criminal conspiracy prosecution against the company for its role in one of the most controversial corporate incidents of the past decade.

Amnesty’s case was centred around the shipping and subsequent deliberate dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast’s largest city by the Probo Koala, a vessel operated by a subcontractor of Trafigura, in 2006.

James Ball and Harry Davies | The Guardian
For 110 days and across two seas and three oceans, crews stalked a fugitive fishing ship considered the world’s most notorious poacher.

Industrial-scale violators of fishing bans and protected areas are a main reason more than half of the world’s major fishing grounds have been depleted and by some estimates over 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish like marlin, tuna and swordfish have vanished. Interpol had issued a Purple Notice on the Thunder (the equivalent of adding it to a Most Wanted List, a status reserved for only four other ships in the world), but no government had been willing to dedicate the personnel and millions of dollars needed to go after it.

So Sea Shepherd did instead, stalking the fugitive 202-foot steel-sided ship from a desolate patch of ocean at the bottom of the Earth, deep in Antarctic waters, to any ports it neared, where its crews could alert the authorities.

IAN URBINA | The New York Times

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 | 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 & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | Ref.




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Sarah Palin (Credit: AP/Cliff Owen)
Sarah Palin (Credit: AP/Cliff Owen)
Palin is the latest conservative to regurgitate a deeply offensive meme about Planned Parenthood "racism"

Anti-choice conservatives are aggressively pushing Alex Jones’s conspiracy theory about how Planned Parenthood wants to exterminate black people. We’re talking about the same faction that’s spent decades complaining about “welfare queens,” insisting that African-Americans are having too many kids just so they can continue to collect government checks. It’s the same faction that’s purging blacks from voter registration rolls, while passing Voter ID laws that prevent minorities from casting ballots. For anyone on the far-right, including Palin, to present themselves as being sympathetic to the Black Americans is laughable on its face.

Below are just a few reasons why the following meme, posted by Palin the other day, is transparently awful.

BOB CESCA | Salon
Fetal Tissue From Abortions for Research Is Traded in a Gray Zone [The Republicans war against science continues]

Scientists at major universities and government labs have quietly been using fetal tissue for decades. They say it is an invaluable tool for certain types of research, including the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Nevertheless, some agree to talk about it only if their names and their universities’ names are withheld, because they have received threats of violence from abortion opponents. Companies that obtain the tissue from clinics and sell it to laboratories exist in a gray zone, legally. Federal law says they cannot profit from the tissue itself, but the law does not specify how much they can charge for processing and shipping.

DENISE GRADY and NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR | The New York Times
Scott Walker (Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Scott Walker (Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Abortion foes are targeting women from all sides, spreading lies. Let's clear up a few of the more popular untruths
KALI HOLLOWAY / ALTERNET | Salon
Check out this mash-up of Amy Schumer's best rape culture takedowns.
JANET UPADHYE | Salon
A New Haven police officer dismantles a Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle after it was turned in during a gun buyback event in 2012. Photograph: Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters

Faced with little appetite in the US Congress to strengthen federal gun laws, Thirteen Democratic senators on Tuesday called on firearm dealers to help reduce the scourge of gun violence in America by performing more robust background checks, even when it’s not required by the law.

Their mantra: “No background check, no gun.”

Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
Charlie Rose interview | CharlieRose.com
On one side: the Congressional GOP, the full slate of Republican presidential candidates, plus Benjamin Netanyahu and allied figures. On the other side: the Obama administration, plus an overwhelming majority of American diplomatic and military figures with experience in the Middle East. Let the arguments begin.
JAMES FALLOWS | The Atlantic
Would-be presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious in New York City last week. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Would-be presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious in New York City last week. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Donald Trump threatens to expose the contradictions at the heart of the Republican party
Editorial | The Guardian
Connecticut, Missouri, and Georgia have dropped the slave-owning presidents from their annual fund-raising dinners, and many more states could follow suit.
RUSSELL BERMAN | The Atlantic

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — President Obama confronted the power structures of Africa on Tuesday and called for long-entrenched leaders to step down, using his stature as the first American president with African roots to try to reshape the continent’s politics.

As he wrapped up what may be his final trip to Africa while in office, Mr. Obama took on one of the region’s most enduring obstacles to democratic progress: its history of one-man rule by presidents and potentates who enrich themselves and hang onto power for years, if not decades, in calcified regimes.

“Nobody should be president for life,” Mr. Obama declared in a speech at the African Union, the continent’s umbrella organization. “Your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas. I’m still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country. It will be good for yours, too, in some cases.”

PETER BAKER | The New York Times

In agreeing to cooperate to clear Islamic State forces out of a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, the United States and Turkey have taken a major step toward increasing pressure on the militant group and easing their differences on the Syrian conflict.

But when it comes to carrying out the agreement, which was reached over the weekend and was described by four senior American officials, significant complications remain.

Not least, the new campaign draws the United States more deeply into the chaotic Syrian conflict, which the Obama administration had been determined to resist. The United States has yet to disclose which Syrian insurgent forces it will enlist in the effort, and the deal shunts aside the Syrian Kurdish Y.P.G. militias that have lately been the United States’ main partners in fighting the Islamic State in Syria, but whom Turkey considers enemies.

ANNE BARNARD and MICHAEL R. GORDON | The New York Times
China’s startling attempt to assert control over vast waters has alarmed nearby countries and escalated tensions with the US. Howard W French reports from Hainan, the island at the heart of Xi Jinping’s expansionist ambitions
Howard W French | The Guardian
James Hansen testifying
New restrictions on ivory trade in the United States make selling the material across state lines largely illegal.
NATASHA GEILING | Think Progress

Turkey and the US have agreed on the outlines of a plan to drive Islamic State out of a strip of land along the Turkey-Syria border, according to reports, in a landmark deal that will draw Turkey further into Syria’s civil war and looks likely to increase the intensity of the US air war against Isis.

The agreement to create an “Islamic State-free zone”, as officials are calling it, comes days after a wave of violence linked to the Syrian war prompted Turkey, a Nato member, to launch air strikes for the first time against Isis and to allow a coalition led by the US to use its air bases to bomb militant targets in Syria.

Kareem Shaheen and Constanze Letsch | The Guardian
The crisis has hit Greece hard, but none harder than its young people. With nearly 60% unemployed, many are living in limbo, waiting for life to restart
Daniel Howden, Yiannis Baboulias | The Guardian
DPA/ Polizei Sachsen-Anhalt
DPA/ Polizei Sachsen-Anhalt
During the first six months of this year, right-wing extremists in Germany committed attacks against places housing asylum-seekers on an almost daily basis. Many refugees living in the country fear for their lives.
Mike Huckabee speaks at an Iowa campaign event. Photograph: Nati Harnik/AP
Mike Huckabee speaks at an Iowa campaign event. Photograph: Nati Harnik/AP
  • Republican presidential hopeful joins chorus of hostility to nuclear accord
  • Jewish Democratic body asks other GOP candidates to denounce remarks
Martin Pengelly | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Under the expected settlement, Fiat Chrysler is expected to agree to certain actions to improve its continuing recall of 1.59 million Jeeps equipped with rear-mounted gas tanks that can catch fire in high-speed collisions.

The company is installing trailer hitches on the affected Jeeps to mitigate the impact of rear-end collisions, which have been linked to more than 50 deaths. But the rate of repairs on that recall has been slow and sporadic, according to government investigators.

BILL VLASIC | The New York Times
More than 40 women have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, now 35 alleged victims have spoken out against the former icon and the culture who ignored them.
JUSTIN CARISSIMO | The Independent
Opposition demands answers after covert proposals attributed to Yanis Varoufakis and fellow ex-minister highlight deep split in Syriza party
Staff and agencies | The Guardian
How the Euro Turned Into a Trap [If loans are denominated in euros and dollars how would using and devaluing the drachma help?]

Given all the immediate losers in the Grexit scenario, the creditors would be foolish to make it inevitable — as the latest bailout terms appear to do. What the EU should be doing is changing the economic policies that have turned the currency union into a debilitating trap that countries cannot escape without suffering [chronic] pain.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD | The New York Times
Puerto Rico debt crisis: austerity for residents, but tax breaks for hedge funds [another government by and for the rich, paid for by the poor]
A for sale sign hangs next to a Puerto Rican flag on a balcony in Old San Juan. Tax breaks have created two parallel real estate markets: one for locals and one for expats. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A for sale sign hangs next to a Puerto Rican flag on a balcony in Old San Juan. Tax breaks have created two parallel real estate markets: one for locals and one for expats. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The Caribbean territory has courted some of Wall Street’s richest citizens, selling its debt and offering inducements while local people face high taxes and cuts
Alan Yuhas | The Guardian

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.
Dr Walter Palmer (left), pictured here with another of his kills, is accused of paying #32,000 to shoot Cecil the lion. Photograph: facebook
Dr Walter Palmer (left), pictured here with another of his kills, is accused of paying £32,000 to shoot Cecil the lion. Photograph: facebook

There are mounting calls for the prosecution of an American dentist who shot dead one of Africa’s most famous lions, as two other men involved in the hunt were due in court in Zimbabwe to face poaching charges.

Walter Palmer, who runs a dental practice in Minnesota and hunts big game in his spare time, is accused of illegally killing Cecil, a protected lion, in Zimbabwe on a $50,000 (£32,000) hunt.

Matthew Weaver | The Guardian
Security forces and rescue workers watching as bodies of trafficked refugees are retrieved from a mass grave in Thailand’s southern Songkhla province. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters
Security forces and rescue workers watching as bodies of trafficked refugees are retrieved from a mass grave in Thailand’s southern Songkhla province. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters
Bangkok dismayed as report maintains lowest tier 3 status, with US pointing to lack of progress in tackling modern-day slavery and corruption
Oliver Holmes | The Guardian
 
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