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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, April 25, 2015, 8:19 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.

Carbon Tracker Initiative provides a roadmap for oil and gas firms to diversify and move away from fossil fuels. But are they even interested in doing so?
Heather Smith | The Guardian
Scientists able to ‘re-write’ errors in mitochondrial DNA in mice, increasing the possibility of a similar treatment to prevent disease in humans
Ian Sample | The Guardian

Reducing methane leaks from oil and gas operations around the world could provide a relatively inexpensive way to fight climate change, according to a new report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund.

....Previous research sponsored by the group suggests that leaks from natural gas facilities could be reduced by 40 percent at a cost of 1 cent per 1,000 cubic feet.

....Without action to combat leaks, Ms. Larsen said, methane emissions will grow 23 percent by 2030. According to the report, if the 30 nations that emit the most methane from oil and gas reduced emissions 50 percent by 2030, the impact on climate change of curtailing that waste would be as great as stopping the combined carbon dioxide emissions of India and the entire European Union in 2012.

JOHN SCHWARTZ | The New York Times
Air pollution data from the Chinese government shows that more than 90 percent of 360 Chinese cities failed to meet national air quality standards in the first three months of this year, according to a report released on Tuesday by Greenpeace East Asia.
EDWARD WONG | The New York Times
Vast economic worth of world’s oceans includes fishing, tourism and shipping but is declining due to pollution, climate change and overfishing
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and director of the Australia-based Global Change Institute, said it was important that the business community understood the value of the oceans so that a strategy could be devised to reverse its decline. “If you don’t look after an asset like the ocean it starts to degrade so it’s important we start to solve these problems now on an international basis,” he said. “The oceans are in a bad state that is rapidly getting worse. Fisheries are starting to collapse, there are record levels of pollution, such as plastic pollution, and there is climate change.” Hoegh-Guldberg said the “shocking” rate of change in the world’s oceans was illustrated in the latest report by the UN’s climate science panel, which stated that changes in the ocean’s chemistry due to an increase in CO2 emissions was faster than at any point in the past 65m years.
Oliver Milman | The Guardian
The vulnerable Asia-Pacific needs broader engagement in disaster planning

According to a 2013 World Bank report, the Asia-Pacific has accounted for 61 percent of global losses from disasters in the past 20 years, with more than 1.6 billion people affected in the region since 2000. Total losses from Asia-Pacific disasters for the years 1980-2011 were an estimated $453 billion.

The UN has estimated that a person living in the Asia-Pacific is 3.2 times more likely to be affected by natural disaster than a person in Africa, 5.5 times more likely than a person in Latin America and the Caribbean, almost 9 times more likely than a person living in North America, and 67 times more likely than a person living in Europe.

Martin Lasater | The Diplomat

Carnegie Wave Energy estimates that using the improved buoys in large wave farms of 100 megawatts would reduce rates to 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt-hour — a price comparable to commercial electricity in the state of Western Australia. But on a small scale, wave energy is still costly. Carnegie’s current design generates electricity at a cost of about 40 cents a kilowatt-hour. This is competitive with electricity from diesel, said Mr. Ottaviano, hence Carnegie’s focus on island nations that rely on diesel.

“What is needed is a well-thought-out wave energy strategy by governments, but which no country has yet formulated. The Scottish government has come closest,” said Tom Thorpe, founder of Oxford Oceanics, a wave energy consulting firm in Britain. “It’s not rocket science. It’s what the Danish government did with wind energy, and that is the bedrock of today’s success for that technology.”

The Waterfront Partnership last spring launched the Water Wheel recognizable by a trash collecting device that resembles a steamboat paddle wheel. The device is turned by the Jones Falls River current as it scoops up trash and debris that is placed onto a conveyor belt and poured into a dumpster-barge.

When filled the barge is hauled away and another dumpster-barge is put in its place. Solar panels provide additional power, officials said.

The Water Wheel has quite a following. A YouTube video on the contraption posted last May has more than one million hits.

Joe Burris | The Baltimore Sun

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.
These mega-donors may determine which Republicans get a real shot at the White House.

It’s down to five candidates: Walker, Jeb Bush, and Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. The billionaire Koch brothers will withhold their backing until one of the five says the most Koch-friendly things.

The Kochs’ political views are like an invasive weed growing in every crack of the country, spreading through think tanks, corrupt academics and talk radio shills.

Timothy Egan's Op-Ed | The New York Times

The increasing scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.

EDITORIAL | The New York Times
A new index takes a holistic look at America's inequalities. Yes, that's plural.

In a report released today, the Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project takes a crack at it with their own metric. Inspired by the UN’s influential Human Development Index for nations, their American Human Development Index develops measures of well-being for America’s 435 congressional districts (plus Washington, D.C.). This allows us to see how patterns of uneven and unequal socio-economic well-being exist not just between but within many of America’s largest metros.

Lynch mobs served as de jure law enforcement for decades in a South defined by its lack of due process for African Americans. The term speaks volumes about the current dynamic between police and a distrustful public.

In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died on April 19 from a spinal-cord injury he apparently sustained while in police custody after his arrest a week earlier, the president of the Baltimore police union has expressed his sympathies for Gray's family.

But Gene Ryan reserved his strongest emotional language for protesters.

A transit wish list for wealthier times.

Mayor Bill de Blasio finally upped his transportation rhetoric and proposed an expansion to the New York City subway system—or, at least, a study of one—as part of his ambitious OneNYC plan. At the moment there's no word on how de Blasio can pay for the new project (may we suggest congestion fares?). But in honor of hizzoner's bold move, we've compiled a short list of subway lines we'd love to see in New York, drawing largely from the phenomenal future-transit maps by Andrew Lynch (aka Vanshnookenraggen).

As the Russian atomic energy agency gradually took charge of a company that controls one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States, a stream of cash made its way to former President Bill Clinton’s charitable organization.

A person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence: “Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?” But whether it actually does is another question. And in this case, there were broader geopolitical pressures that likely came into play as the United States considered whether to approve the Rosatom-Uranium One deal.

JO BECKER and MIKE McINTIRE | The New York Times

Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, is a long shot as a potential presidential candidate, but he may have the right message:

“The American dream will never die on our watch, because we choose to fight, and we intend to win. That means raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay and respecting the rights of all workers to organize. To make the dream true again, we must expand — and not reduce — Social Security benefits.”

The problem for the Democratic Party and its nominee is how to capture the rewards of an inclusive progressive agenda while minimizing losses among the party’s affluent, centrist supporters. Is Hillary Clinton the person who can manage that?

Thomas B. Edsall's OPED | The New York Times

Security experts express fears for region’s stability amid record weapons sales from west and Russia’s missile deal with Iran
Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
Officially, discussion of the Armenian genocide is taboo in Turkey, even 100 years after the crimes. But the issue is becoming harder for the country to suppress and many Turks are rediscovering their long-lost Armenian identities.
Ralf Hoppe | Der Spiegel
UN special rapporteur says inaction on refugees is creating a market for people smugglers, and says world needs to take in a million Syrians over next five years
Gabrielle Jackson | The Guardian
[Since the civil war continues unabated after so many years without a clear side to support—and reponsibility for this war crime is not known with certainty—the UN needs to facilitate a mass evacuation effort to get civilians out of harms way, and to embargo oil export and arms import to starve the war effort.]
Matt Vespa | Town Hall
The mass deaths of refugees like those seen this weekend on the European Union's external borders is not a consequence of politicians looking away. We are in fact causing the problem with our Fortress Europe policies.
Maximilian Popp | Der Spiegel
Three weeks from a general election which could pave the way for a UK exit from the European Union the absence of debate in the campaign is baffling
Natalie Nougayrède | The Guardian
An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State's takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating.
Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel
Many consumers are intimidated by calls to buy smartly and sustainably. Now a handful of activists and big companies are trying to make ethical purchasing go mainstream -- but they'll have to change the way we think. [Let's ban more of the worst unethical products!]
Markus Brauck, Dietmar Hawranek, Simone Salden and Bernhard Zand | Der Spiegel
Jane Arraf travels to the Iraqi capital to meet the artists hoping to reinstate this historic nation’s place in the contemporary art world
Jane Arraf | The Guardian

Japan's new magnetic-levitation ('maglev') passenger train broke a world speed record on its test run on Tuesday. The magnetically levitating train hit a top speed of 375mph (603km/h) and managed nearly 11 seconds over 373mph (600km/h). The head of the research centre run by Central Japan Railways, Yasukazu Endo, says the train would typically operate at 310mph (500km/h). The train will run between the cities of Tokyo and Nagoya, a distance of 177 miles (286km) in just 40 minutes

Jane Arraf | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
After the military victory, Vietnam’s socialist model began to collapse. Cut off by US-led trade embargos and denied reconstruction aid, it plunged into poverty. Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption
Nick Davies | The Guardian
Icelandic government suggests removing the power of commercial banks to create money and handing it to the central bank

The proposal, which would be a turnaround in the history of modern finance, was part of a report written by a lawmaker from the ruling centrist Progress Party, Frosti Sigurjonsson, entitled "A better monetary system for Iceland".

"The findings will be an important contribution to the upcoming discussion, here and elsewhere, on money creation and monetary policy," Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said.

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.
Debbie Milke, born in Berlin, was placed in solitary confinement Arizona for 22 years after being falsely convicted of conspiring to kill her son. Following her acquittal, she discusses her experience in prison and a life destroyed by a miscarriage of justice.
Clemens Höges and Antje Windmann | Der Spiegel
To mark the centenary of the massacre, we asked readers to tell us how a legacy of mass killings and deportations has affected the way Armenians live now
Maeve Shearlaw | 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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