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Established 1973 — Last updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 8:44 AM
Policy & Practice News by 10am
Permanent Editorial?
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 and importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

[Sorry I didn't date this, which has been updated over time, my anger unrelenting. It was posted in early 2010. A similar editorial re. triple-play communication services is also much deserved, since all OECD countries pay much less.]
22,000 MW solar power capacity by 2022, a dedicated national-level program for promoting wind energy generation, implementation of the world’s largest solar power projects (with capacity of up to 4,000 MW), covering canals with solar panels, implementing dedicated transmission corridors for distributing electricity from renewable energy projects, and cleaning one of the largest rivers in India. This is just a small list of initiatives that India plans to implement in the renewable energy and the environment protection sector. [Sweet! Like in Germany, India is taxing dirty energy to pay for replacing it with clean, renewable energy]
Smiti Mittal for Informed Comment
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government won final approval from Parliament yesterday to scrap a levy about 300 companies paid for their carbon dioxide emissions. The move leaves Australia, the largest polluter per capita among industrial nations, without a system for reducing greenhouse gases as it prepares to host a meeting of the Group of 20 nations. [Corporate bribes quickly make politicians stupid]
Jason Scott and Mike Anderson for Bloomberg News
Mayor dismisses scientific evidence from King's College London showing street has world's worst nitrogen dioxide levels
NO2 is largely caused by diesel vehicles, can aggravate asthma and has been found to have similar impacts to particulate pollution, which is linked to higher risks of lung cancer.
Adam Vaughan for The Guardian
Germany’s renewable sector (RE) is flexing its muscles. Solar production was up 28% and wind 19% during the first half of 2014. As a result, the renewable sector accounted for 31% of the nation’s electricity. If this trend continues, this may be the third year in a row that Germany sets a record for energy exports. The increase in renewables has also been accompanied by a decrease in fossil fuel usage. Gas-fired power plant production is down 25%, compared to last year. Hard coal production fell 11%. Only Lignite power usage rose. So what does the expanding sector mean to Germany’s utilities?

In the video Birthing a Solar Age, Jerry Rifkin points out that so much renewable energy was fed into the grid one day last month that the price of electricity fell below zero. He predicted there will be more days like this and in the future Germany’s utilities will not want to sell electricity, they lose too much money!

Roy L Hales for The ECO Report
“Germany is a prime example of a nation that has made energy efficiency a top priority,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a press release. “The United States, long formerly considered an innovative and competitive world leader, has progressed slowly and has made limited progress since our last report, even as Germany, Italy, China, and other nations surge ahead.”
Roy L Hales for The ECO Report
“It’s critical to California’s future that we conserve water in the face of the serious drought,” according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking. “If the Governor and the State Water Board are really serious about protecting California’s water supplies, the Governor needs to ban fracking and similar methods which permanently poison and remove millions of gallons of water from the water cycle. If the Governor stops fracking, not only will he save Californians’ water from being wasted during this historic drought, but he’ll also protect their health and climate as well.”
Dan Bacher for The ECO Report
California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state's drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there. [Duh!]
Abrahm Lustgarten for ProPublica
Germany is the world's most energy efficient country with strong codes on buildings while China is quickly stepping up its own efforts, an environmental group said Thursday.

The study of 16 major economies by the Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Mexico last and voiced concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia.

And on a shoestring budget, to boot.
Kiera Butler for Mother Jones

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.
SOURCE: The White House | Ref.
SOURCE: Slate Mag. | Ref.
SOURCE: The American Medical Student Association | Ref.
SOURCE: Readers | Ref.
The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them.
Meredith Broussard for The Atlantic
Two historians turn to science fiction to scare the hell out of you about climate change.
Chris Mooney for Mother Jones
The past year has offered an odd object lesson in historical redundancy. The fiftieth anniversaries of major points in the civil-rights movement tick by at the same time that Supreme Court decisions and political maneuvering in state legislatures offer reminders of what, exactly, the movement fought against.
JELANI COBB for The New Yorker
Walgreens and Medtronic are among those renouncing or trying to renounce their U.S. corporate citizenship [Race to ruin: When U.S. crony capitalism isn't good enough...]
Dave Johnson for AlterNet
bill Moyers talks about the politics of reproductive freedom with Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Bill Moyers interview on Moyers and company
Grassroots group Ready for Warren out in full force in Detroit to tout Massachusetts senator's credentials for the White House – but activists' darling insists 'I am not running for president'
Jon Swaine for The Guardian
Crises are unfolding throughout the world—and Republicans are poised to exploit them for maximum political gain.
David Corn for Mother Jones
Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week. Want to receive these by email? Sign up to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.
Amanda Zamora for ProPublica
With such profound structural economic malaise, and a reluctance of the Democratic Party to protect New Deal ideals, Chomsky warns, “If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest, this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger, and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says, 'I have got just the answer, we have an enemy'? There [Germany] it was the Jews. Here it will be illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is a world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful protagonists. I don’t think this is all far away. If the polls are accurate, it is not the Republicans but the right-wing crazed Republicans who will sweep the November election.”
CJ Werleman for AlterNet
There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America, which is at historically high levels. There’s a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women’s growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well. There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. [A great accomplishment given critical-thinking was expressly stricken from curriculum in "conservative" states]
Amanda Marcotte for AlterNet
The coalition boasts that it's reduced inequality, but actually no government policy in the last 30 years has actually come close to bringing it down to average OECD levels.
TIM STACEY for New Statesman
From Hobby Lobby to climate change, journalistic disinformation happens all the time.
Reed Richardson for AlterNet
Unprofessional journalists are critiqued.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

The special relationship between Israel and the United States goes deep...real deep. It's based on security, conflict and most of all money. Most of it for the Israeli military. But with over 200 killed in Gaza just this July and the Israeli military's long list human rights abuses, is this special relationship worth the price?
  • Obama adds to international pressure on Israel
  • Dozens killed in single attack as deathtoll tops 500
  • Kerry's slip: 'it's a hell of a pinpoint operation'
  • 13 Israeli soldiers killed on Sunday
  • How do the events affect you in Israel and Palestine?
Matthew Weaver for The Guardian
Experts fear clues as to why Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down could be lost for ever as chaos at scene persists
Shaun Walker for The Guardian
Human rights attorney Mario Joseph and Tourism Minister Stéphanie Villedrouin are both trying to improve Haiti, but they are following radically different paths. The one wants justice, the other wants tourism.
Samiha Shafy for Der Spiegel
Russia [Putin] is funding, arming, and urging forward a violent insurgency against an elected European government. In Crimea, Russia sent troops across an internationally recognized border, seized territory, and intimidated and abused the conquered population. This is not a bilateral Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the way that, for example, the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008 could be dismissed as a bilateral conflict. It’s a challenge to the stability of the whole continent.
DAVID FRUM for The Atlantic
Five observations about the Gaza conflict, including praise for an ex-president's insight into the particular nature of Hamas' evil [The issue isn't what the Hamas are, it's the bombing in urban Gaza areas to kill them. If Israel's plan is NOT incremental genocide, why not kidnap (or even assassinate) Hamas leaders to avoid civilian casualties?]
Like most wealthy countries, Germany has deep concerns about immigration, fueled by racial and cultural tensions, costs and evolving definitions of national identity. But more than the rest of Europe, its healthy economy needs additional workers, especially for jobs requiring high levels of training and education, a problem likely to be exacerbated in the long run by its low birthrate. Right now Germany is trying to fill 117,000 jobs in science, technology and engineering, a gap that may widen to as many as one million by 2020, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.
ALISON SMALE for The New York Times
Since I moved to New York City from Melbourne almost a year ago, I’ve been shocked by more than just the unliveable wages. For someone who has lived her whole life in a country with a strong welfare system, it seemed unthinkable that many basic entitlements I take for granted are simply not available here.
Estelle Tang for The Guardian
Ever since unaccompanied child migrants became a national news story six weeks ago, many people have started asking: Is this an immigration crisis, or is it a refugee crisis? In response, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said last week it wants to designate many of the Central Americans fleeing regional violence and gang extortion as refugees.
Maddie Oatman for Mother Jones
A South Carolina woman thought it was better than forcing her kid to sit at McDonald's all day. Now the state has taken custody. [On this basis, most of us would have been made orphans!]
A letter to the editor from another single parent who lost her children to state custody—and her account of what it took to get them back.
Will the BlackRock/PIMCO suit help homeowners? Not directly. But it will get some big guns on the scene, with the ability to do all sorts of discovery, and the staff to deal with the results.

Fraud is grounds for rescission, restitution and punitive damages. The homeowners may not have been parties to the pooling and servicing agreements governing the investor trusts, but if the whole business model is proven to be fraudulent, they could still make a case for damages.

In the end, however, it may be the titans themselves who take each other down, clearing the way for a new phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Ellen Brown for Web Of Debt
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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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- a pro-establishment, rock-ribbed bastion of pro-market thinking -- has released a report predicting a collapse in global economic growth rates, a rise in feudal wealth disparity, collapsing tax revenue and huge, migrating bands of migrant laborers roaming from country to country, seeking crumbs of work. They prescribe "flexible" workforces, austerity, and mass privatization.

The report, Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years , makes a number of assumptions about the impact of automation on skilled jobs in the workforce, the end the recent growth in the developing world (especially the BRIC nations), and a series of worsening environmental catastrophes.

Cory Doctorow for boingboing
Across the country, the majority of Internet users are stuck with one or two choices at most for high-speed, reliable access. These companies charge exorbitant fees and are currently in midst of urging the FCC to allow them (ISPs) to speed up connections to websites that pay for premium access for users.

Projects like community mesh networks and mayors’ attempts to bring fiber to their cities should never be illegal or stifled by misguided state laws. On the contrary, they should be encouraged. [Coin-operated, immoral government empowers monopolies and cartels. Contact your Senators and Representaives]

Media mogul tells B20 meeting in Sydney that companies must be allowed to help shape public policy
Australian Associated Press in The Guardian
The Colorado filing (embedded below) is a thing of beauty in its specificity, even as it describes brazen misconduct. As the case explains, Fannie and Freddie set caps on the fees that law firms can charge, which is $1225 or $1250. But in addition to that, the firms can also pass on costs to be reimbursed. Those costs are required by contract to be both reasonable and market rate. So the firms systematically inflated costs and colluded with other firms so that everyone would put in more or less the same exaggerated charges to avoid detection.
YVES SMITH for Naked Capitalism
Howard Glaser was brought on to help then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on his mortgage industry investigation. Glaser was working for the industry at the same time.
Justin Elliott for ProPublica
There's a clear connection between economic inequality and low-tax, pro-business policies.

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.
The idea that Israel is defending itself from unprovoked attacks is absurd. Occupied people have the right to resist
Seumas Milne for The Guardian
Gaza has been described as the world's largest open air prison. Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has had catastrophic results for average Palestinians living there. We look at the the unforgiving realities they face everyday.
Dark Satire: Irony alert
Prosecutor: “Justices of the International Criminal Court, I shall demonstrate to you that this man (points at detained Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu in orange jump suit and manacles at accused table) is guilty of serious breaches of international law and not just of war crimes but of a pattern of systematic war crimes over time. As you know, such a pattern amounts to crimes against humanity. He is also guilty of the crime of Apartheid, which is itself a crime against humanity according to the United Nations.”

Lead Justice leans over his elevated desk. “Proceed, counselor.”

Juan Cole for Informed Comment
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