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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, May 23, 2015, 9:02 AM
We aggregate important news
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.

Scientists used the Medea program to study how global warming could worsen conflict. Now that project has come to an end. [Absence of a published report can be assumed to predict that threat of military conflicts from food and water insecurity will—perhaps dramatically—increase. Scientific discovery and mutual aid/immigration policies could mitigate violence potential.]
Tim McDonnell | Mother Jones
As the drought drags on, not even senior rights holders will be spared any longer

"Air pollution is one of the main avoidable causes of disease and death globally. About 4.3 million deaths each year, most in developing countries, are associated with exposure to household (indoor) air pollution. A further 3.7 million deaths a year are attributed to ambient (outdoor) air pollution," a report by the WHO secretariat, said. The report, titled 'Health and the environment: addressing the health impact of air pollution', is to be presented at the 68th World Health Assembly which opened on Monday in Geneva.

Sushmi Dey / TNN | The Economic Times
As poachers grow bolder, Andrea Turkalo records the behavior of a vanishing species.
PETER CANBY | The New Yorker

Virtually all sewage and wastewater from Tel Aviv is thoroughly treated before being injected into the ground to recharge aquifers and piped to the Negev Desert for use as irrigation water. More than 50 percent of water used in agriculture comes from treated sewage, according to the Israel Water Association, and Israeli farmers are only too happy to use it to make the desert bloom.

In addition to water reuse, Israeli agriculture has replaced its thirstiest crops. Remember when Israel was the orange grove to the world? Not anymore.

“There was a major switch in Israel,” Berkowitz said. “We pulled the orchards up and started growing flowers. The farmers are much happier and doing better growing flowers. Now we’re exporting bulbs to Holland.”

Israel also developed technology to keep tabs on the water it pumps. The task requires state-of-the-art monitoring systems of the sort manufactured by Ayyeka, a Jerusalem-based company.

dan pine, j. staff | J Weekly
White House makes bid to save honeybees but ignores toxic pesticides [UNACCEPTABLE! Are Monsanto's potential political donations ajudged so important that Dems would risk mass death of bee colonies, butterflies and crop pollination.]

Last year, research emerged from Harvard University showing that when colonies of honeybees were exposed to neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticide around the world, half of them died.

A recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology suggested pesticide prevalence, specifically of the neonicotinoid kind, had been grossly underestimated because previous counts (including those undertaken by governmental agencies) failed to include seed treatment – a new prophylactic method introduced at the beginning of last decade that ensures seeds are sprayed before they are even planted.

At least 79% of American maize fields have been planted with preemptively treated [Monsanto] seeds, the study found.

Rose Hackman | The Guardian
Set in an Arctic mountainside, the Svalbard seed bank contains the world’s most prized crops. But a row has erupted over whether this is the best hope of feeding the world after a catastrophe or just an overpriced deep freeze [Good questions given Monsanto's proprietary GMO threat using neonicotinoids]
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian

Inside chicken factories are scenes of cruelty practised on such a scale that they almost lose their ability to shock. Bred to grow at phenomenal speed, many birds collapse under their own weight and lie in the ammoniacal litter, acquiring burns on their feet and legs and lesions on their breasts. After slaughter they are graded. Those classified as grade A can be sold whole. The others must have parts of the body removed, as they are disfigured by bruising, burning and necrosis. The remaining sections are cut up and sold as portions. Hungry yet?

George Monbiot | The Guardian
Anglesey renewable energy project to generate enough electricity to power 8,000 homes
Steven Morris | The Guardian
From small islands to towns and cities, here are the climate trail blazers showing the way to an energy future that does not run on coal, oil and gas

With global demand for energy continuing to rise and fossil fuel production buoyed by $600bn (£380bn) in tax-payer subsidies annually, it is easy to lose hope that cleaner forms of energy will ever catch up. But there are beacons around the world showing the way to an energy future that does not run on coal, oil and gas. Here are nine places that are blazing a trail to a less polluting future.

Karl Mathiesen | 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 & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | 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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Sam Brownback, Art Laffer and the Kansas GOP have turned the state into a trash fire of economic policy

You can't separate fiscal issues from social issues. They're deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That's true even for the mildest, most generous version of "fiscal conservatism" -- low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don't intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called "social policies" that are supposedly separate from economic ones.

Greta Christina | AlterNet
Police sergeant tells the Guardian that guns were found ‘stuffed in toilets and hidden under seats’ in Twin Peaks restaurant where mass shooting took place [Texas has much bigger problems than immigration.]
Tom Dart | The Guardian
Sunday’s deadly melée in Texas hasn’t seemed to hurt the prospects for a bill loosening handgun restrictions in the state.

...As it happens, the gun fight coincides with the likely passage of a legislative initiative to loosen gun laws in Texas.

ADAM CHANDLER | The Atlantic

The biker gang shootout this weekend in Waco, Texas, that left nine people dead, 18 wounded, and as many as 192 facing organized crime charges has sparked a lot of scrutiny over how police and media are treating this incident compared with how they approached the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.

The relatively relaxed-looking police presence in Waco was a big topic of discussion. Photos taken by news organizations in the aftermath of the incident showed arrested bikers — who were mostly white — sitting without handcuffs and able to use their phones, while law enforcement officers looked casual and minimally attentive.

In testy exchange, Clinton urges State Department to ‘expedite’ release of her personal emails, and defends controversial donations to her family foundation
Dan Roberts | The Guardian
Survey commissioned by ACLU shows “how disconnected members of Congress are from the feelings of a lot of the public.”
City follows Seattle and San Francisco in raising minimum wage to $15 by July 2020, with city council members voting overwhelmingly in favour of legislation
Jana Kasperkevic | The Guardian

Public Service Notices
Physicians for Social Responsibility's ‘Nuke Busters Short Film Contest’:
  • Entries must inspire Millennials to SAVE THE WORLD, be 1 - 4 minutes duration, be in English, and must be submitted by July 31, 2015
  • A $5,000 cash prize for the best short film by a student filmmaker (may not have graduated college/university before August 2014)
  • A $5,000 cash prize for the best short film by a professional filmmaker
  • A $1,000 cash prize for the best short film to articulate the economic argument (budget) for the abolition of nuclear weapons
  • A $1,000 cash prize for the best short film to articulate the health argument for the abolition of nuclear weapons
  • A $1,000 cash prize for the best short film to articulate a faith-based message for the abolition of nuclear weapons

Israel's new deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, delivers her inaugural speech to Israeli diplomats on Thursday. Hotovely says Israel has tried too hard to appease the world and must stand up for itself, adding that 'the international community should recognise Israel's right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere' [Seen through the lens of an increasingly unhinged Judaic theocratic government, the beliefs and actions of indigenous muslim people are frightening. WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER]
Jason Burke | The Guardian
Library-sized cache of declassified material seized at the former al-Qaida leader’s compound paints a portrait of a man past his prime who obsessed over security, micromanaged staff and enjoyed an eclectic mix of literature [Seen through the lens of his barbaric fundamentalist Islamic religion and Sharia law, the beliefs and actions of the West look crazy and confusing. WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER]
Jason Burke | The Guardian
As sexual attacks on women continue unabated, revered doctor Denis Mukwege talks to Warscapes about his ongoing fight for gender equality in the country [Is violence Muslim/Sharia-related?]
Preethi Nallu / Warscapes | The Guardian
He and other Republican presidential contenders have a new and bogus spin on how the Iraq War began.

But here's the truth Jeb Bush and the others are hiding or eliding: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, & Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they used [manufactured] lousy intelligence to mislead the public.

DAVID CORN | Mother Jones
Defence minister had approved programme to stop Palestinians working in Israel returning to West Bank on Israeli buses
Peter Beaumont | The Guardian

The Senate majority leader agreed on Tuesday to hold a vote that could deliver the first rollback of US government surveillance on its own citizens in at least a generation, avoiding what appeared to be a looming war in the conservative congressional leadership over landmark – if still limited – reform as a result of the Edward Snowden disclosures.

Tom McCarthy, Spencer Ackerman and Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

The former secretary of labor on the importance of making public colleges and universities tuition-free

With the help of friends, Emma Sulkowicz carried the 50 pound mattress as she accepted her diploma. The German student she says raped her, Paul Nungesser, was also at the cermony. He was cleared of wrongdoing after the district attorney's office found there was a 'lack of reasonable suspicion,' according to the Daily Mail. He is now suing the university for failing to protect him from harassment and backlash.

Sulkowicz claims Nungesser is a 'serial rapist' who also assaulted two other women. She says Nungesser choked, slapped and raped her in her dorm room in August 2012.

Samantha Jordan | Statesman
LEE FANG | The Intercept
Gaza has received only a quarter of the funds pledged by the international community for its reconstruction following last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
Gaza has received only a quarter of the funds pledged by the international community for its reconstruction following last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
World Bank report says Israeli blockades, war and poor governance have left 43% of people out of work and the strip facing dangerous health & financial crises [WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER]
Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
This is about as serious a financial crime as you can possibly get, says the Rolling Stone journalist.
Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh / Democracy Now! | AlterNet

Fast-track isn’t the only part of the president’s trade initiative that threatens American laws. A provision in past trade treaties, and which reportedly is also included in TPP, cedes enormous power to secret, corporate-backed extrajudicial “courts.” It’s called Investor-State Dispute Resolution (ISDS).

Warren explained how ISDS works: “... highly paid corporate lawyers ... go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next.” She told Greg Sargent of The Washington Post that ISDS “doesn’t directly tell countries to repeal regulations. It imposes a financial penalty, which has caused countries to change their regulations...”

The president claims he has improved ISDS, but he won’t release the text of the treaty to prove it. Warren’s response: “I’ve sat with many legal scholars to talk about this issue, and I have not seen a draft that would do what the president says he has already accomplished.”

Warren has provided some excellent examples of the ISDS in action: a French company that sued Egypt after Egypt raised its minimum wage; a Swedish company that filed a complaint against Germany because it wanted to phase out nuclear power; a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic for not bailing out a bank it partially owned; and Philip Morris suing countries for attempting to reduce smoking rates.

Only corporations can use ISDS. Unions can’t sue for labor abuses, for example, and NGOs can’t sue for actions that damage the health or well-being of the public.

After one of the largest surveys ever done on the financial-services industry, it's clear that ethical breaches abound—and more than a few people know about them.

It’s been said many times, in many places, even well before the Great Recession: The culture on Wall Street is terrible. It encourages bad behavior. More recently, there are concerns that the Wall Street that caused the financial crisis is back.

A new report by The University of Notre Dame, commissioned by the law firm Labaton Sucharow, which represents whistleblowers, has some alarming numbers to add to this well-trodden narrative. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people in the financial-services industry—account executives, wealth advisors, financial analysts, investment bankers, operations managers, and portfolio managers—in both the U.S. and the U.K. to look at whether increased regulations, along with calls for a cultural change, have had any demonstrable effects.

BOURREE LAM | The Atlantic
The dangerous underfunding of US infrastructure was underscored by a fatal train derailment on May 12th. The tragedy did not deter the House Appropriations Committee from voting to slash Amtrak funding the very next day. There are ways Congress could fund its massive infrastructure bill without raising taxes. But the conservative-controlled Congress seems to have other plans for the nation’s profitable public assets. [Advanced countries subsidize and control large public service systems to assure safety, to keep prices fair, and to help their economies generally. But in the U.S., Republicans want to cut public service subsidies at every opportunity to cripple and eventually force privatizing them, thus enabling more profits for the investor class. Which of these objectives is moral? Which countries have better rail & health systems? US infrastructure in its entirety is similarly crippled.]

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.
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