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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, February 28, 2015, 8:33 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.

Withdrawal from the Pierre River project is the latest in a series of blows to industry reliant on high cost production struggling with oil prices at six-year lows
Damian Carrington | The Guardian

The writer Lester Brown has gained a reputation for anticipating global trends. Now as Brown, 80, enters retirement, he fears the world may be on the verge of a greater hunger than he has ever seen in his professional lifetime.

For the first time, he said tens of millions of poor people in countries like Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Peru could afford to eat only five days a week. Most of the world was exhausting its ground water because of overpumping. Yields were flatlining in Japan. And in northern and western China, and the Sahel region of Africa – an area already wracked by insurgency and conflict – people were running out of land to grow food. Millions of acres of were turning into wasteland because of over-farming and over-grazing.

Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
Republicans vow to continue fight after president rejects legislation to approve pipeline from Canadian tar sands to refineries along Gulf coast

“Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems. Our job now is to aggressively transform our energy system away from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” senator Bernie Sanders said.

The veto is likely to prove a sign of things to come. The new Republican-controlled Senate is seeking to embarrass Democrats by sending the president further legislation to which they know he is implacably opposed, such as measures to block his immigration reforms or repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Dan Roberts | The Guardian
Could more automated driving – and driver training – shrink greenhouse-gas emissions, fuel costs and even highway fatalities?

The Obama administration's first ever fuel-efficiency rules for Class 8 trucks, the heaviest vehicles on the road, are driving a market for new technologies, such as driverless trucks, speed-limiting engines and what’s called “automated manual” transmission, that could help make trucking more fuel-efficient.

Greg Harman | 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.
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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World leaders decided in Copenhagen that global warming should be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Achieving that target, though, would take nothing less than a miracle. With another round of climate negotiations approaching, it is becoming increasingly clear that mankind has failed to address its most daunting problem.
Alexander Jung, Horand Knaup, Samiha Shafy and Bernhard Zand | Der Spiegel
Can we still stop global warming? Only if we radically change our capitalist system, argues author Naomi Klein. In an interview with SPIEGEL, she explains why the time has come to abandon small steps for a radical new approach.
Interview Conducted by Klaus Brinkbäumer | Der Spiegel
  • DC mayor: ‘Bullying the District of Columbia’ will not stop initiative
  • Two Republican representatives sought to stop legalisation at midnight
Associated Press | The Guardian
Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings discuss their new Middle Class Prosperity Project.

When he took office in January of 2011, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit and a 7 percent unemployment rate from his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty

During his first four years in office, Gov. Dayton raised the state income tax from 7.85 to 9.85 percent on individuals earning over $150,000, and on couples earning over $250,000 when filing jointly -- a tax increase of $2.1 billion. He's also agreed to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2018, and passed a state law guaranteeing equal pay for women.

....The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota's economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay.

It's official -- trickle-down economics is bunk. Minnesota has proven it once and for all. If you believe otherwise, you are wrong.

Carl Gibson | Huffington Post
Under spending deal struck in December, DHS funding is set to run out on Friday, leaving the majority of agency employees at risk of not receiving paychecks
Tom McCarthy and Dan Roberts | The Guardian
The two GOP leaders got together Wednesday, but unity remains elusive.

Some Muslim leaders don't view the Islamic State quite like Obama does.

Whether ISIS’s deeds are labeled “violent extremism” or “Islamized terrorism,” the conversations in Washington and Mecca had at least one thing in common: They deepened the debate over whether ISIS and its fellow travelers are “Islamic,” and whether the answer matters in the first place. That debate is not just academic. It has real consequences for how the Islamic State’s opponents mount their counteroffensive.

EDWARD DELMAN | The Atlantic

At a time when Saudi Arabia is flogging dissidents, Egypt is sentencing them to death, and Syria is bombing them, Israel should stand as a model. Unfortunately, it squanders political capital and antagonizes even its friends with its naked land grab in the West Bank. That’s something that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might discuss in his address to Congress.

Nicholas Kristof's OP-ED | The New York Times
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tells US senators there is a worrying trend of conflict between China’s neighbours over expansion
Associated Press | The Guardian
Exclusive: As the Obama administration is rushing to complete a nuclear agreement with Iran and reduce regional tensions, the Israeli media is reporting on a deal with Saudi Arabia to let Israeli warplanes transit Saudi airspace en route to bombing Iran
Robert Parry | Consortium News
Hailed as a housing solution for slums and a rapid response to disaster-stricken communities, 3D-printed architecture holds a lot of promise. But what problems lie behind its production, and can we realistically expect our cities to be printed?

Until recently such talk was largely theoretical. Then in March 2014, the little-known Chinese company Winsun announced it had 3D-printed 10 £3,200 concrete houses in a day. When, in January of this year, it unveiled that 3D-printed 1,100-square-metre villa – and a five-storey apartment building – it raised the question of whether the technology was about to become commercially viable.

Nicola Davison | The Guardian
Actor says he and his wife refuse to pay ‘a penny more’ until tax evaders found among Swiss banking arm’s clients go to prison

“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”

Mark Tran | The Guardian
In 2003, Congress passed legislation to eliminate sexual assaults against inmates. One young man’s story shows how elusive that goal remains.

....It was around this time that the letters started sliding under his cell door. John would get a lot of letters from other prisoners over the next few months, and while they weren’t always explicit, some certainly were. “You are one sexy nigger,” one read. “You need a white man to show you how to act ... When the opportunity comes I want to sneak in your house and hit that.” Another letter said he had a “fan club.”

Maurice Chammah | The Atlantic
A major shift in criminal justice is coming, but will it be enough?

The Coalition for Public Safety, a new alliance of political groups and think tanks, is the latest signal that opposition to mass incarceration has gone mainstream. The organization unites left-leaning organizations like the ACLU and Center for American Progress with conservative and libertarian organizations like FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, and Right on Crime. Koch Industries is opening its checkbook for the venture; the ACLU received a $50 million grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation in December to cut national incarceration rates.

MATT FORD | The Atlantic
On Thursday, the FCC votes on whether to accept tough new rules to regulate the internet. Republicans aren’t happy – and they’re aiming to win back the debate [As with healthcare, they support monopoly and price-fixing]
Dominic Rushe | 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.

Human Rights Watch said it used satellite imagery, witness statements and video and photographic evidence to identify at least 450 locations in rebel-held towns and villages in Daraa, and more than 1,000 in Aleppo, where the regime used large air-dropped munitions including the so-called barrel bombs and other conventional explosives.

“For a year, the security council has done nothing to stop Bashar al-Assad’s murderous air bombing campaign on rebel-held areas, which has terrorised, killed, and displaced civilians,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for HRW. “Amid talk of a possible temporary cessation of strikes on Aleppo, the question is whether Russia and China will finally allow the UN security council to impose sanctions to stop barrel bombs.

Kareem Shaheen | The Guardian

The soaring cost of college — a 1,225 percent increase since 1978, nearly twice the rate of the rise in health care costs — is such a problem for most families that politicians across the ideological spectrum are actually taking notice.

STEVE COHEN's OP-ED | The New York Times
The Fox News host says he was in a "war zone" where police gunned down civilians. The video doesn't show that.
David Corn and Daniel Schulman | Mother Jones
When TV anchors are as lionised as Bill O’Reilly, it’s no surprise they fabricate their own creation myths

Whereas in Britain journalists are generally viewed as occupying a place on the food chain somewhere between bottom-feeders and cockroaches, in America there remains, still, a certain idealisation of journalists, protected by a gilded halo hammered out by sentimental memories of Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Hadley Freeman | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
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