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Established 1973 — Last updated: Thursday, September 18, 2014, 12:00 PM
 Important Policy and Practice News
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.]
Obama welcomes study concluding greenhouse gas emissions can be cut while growing economy and improving lives
Reversing the damage is within our grasp, but it will hinge on a strong international climate agreement and policies that make polluters pay
Angel Gurria and Nicholas Stern in The Guardian
Balancing substance and symbolism in the movement toward cleaner energy sources
JAMES FALLOWS in The Atlantic
A new report shows that three of the top preventable risk factors for cancer have to do with what we eat and how often we move.
OLGA KHAZAN in The Atlantic
Possible reasons include sleep deprivation and medication, says a new study.
JOHN METCALFE in CityLab
Contingent being sent to west Africa will train health workers, build treatment centres and deliver resources to tackle epidemic
Associated Press via The Guardian
“We are proposing a way [a set of guidelines] to have the same or even more economic growth, and at the same time have environmental responsibility,” said the chairman of the commission, Felipe Calderón, the former president of Mexico and an economist. “We need to fix this problem of climate change, because it’s affecting all of us.”
JUSTIN GILLIS in The New York Times
Solar power is taking off in villages where connecting to the grid is seen as a bad joke.
Tim McDonnell in Mother Jones
Type 2 diabetes runs in families, largely because its primary risk factor — excess weight — runs in families. But you can keep it at bay by losing weight and becoming more active.
JANE E. BRODY in NYT's Well Blog
Emma Thompson couldn't give a damn about fame, or getting older: she just wants to save the planet, and be a good parent in the meantime
EMMA BROCKES in The Guardian
Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago.

Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans.

JUSTIN GILLIS in The New York Times

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.
SOURCE: The White House | Ref.
SOURCE: Slate Mag. | Ref.
SOURCE: The American Medical Student Association | Ref.
SOURCE: Readers | 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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Control of the Senate is up for grabs in this year’s midterm elections. We at The Upshot created Leo, a statistical model that combines polling, fund-raising data and other variables to forecast win probabilities in each race. But perhaps you can do better.
JOSH KATZ, WILSON ANDREWS and JEREMY BOWERS in The New York Times
As American government seems ever more paralyzed at the national level, cities continue to find ways to grapple with real problems. Two more examples.
JAMES FALLOWS in The Atlantic
On the national level, Democrats and independents — most of whom did not vote in the 2010 midterm Congressional elections — were swamped by Republicans who voted in much larger proportions. The result was a Republican House dominated by the hard right, which over four years became the largest impediment to economic growth and equality. The same thing has happened in many statewide elections.

It’s now seven weeks from the midterms. Will voters realize that decisions made on Nov. 4 will reverberate in laws not passed, roads not built and jobs not created?

EDITORIAL in The New York Times
In 2005, Utah set out to fix a problem that’s often thought of as unfixable: chronic homelessness. The state had almost two thousand chronically homeless people. Most of them had mental-health or substance-abuse issues, or both. At the time, the standard approach was to try to make homeless people “housing ready”: first, you got people into shelters or halfway houses and put them into treatment; only when they made progress could they get a chance at permanent housing. Utah, though, embraced a different strategy, called Housing First: it started by just giving the homeless homes.
JAMES SUROWIECKI in The New Yorker
Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

George Monbiot in The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are critiqued.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
A recent study says yes, but other research is less certain.
ROBINSON MEYER in The Atlantic
James Heckman’s proposals are not particularly radical in terms of major institutional changes in our educational structure. Rather, they are more profoundly social in nature. Enriched parenting, providing children with encouragement, and creating early environments promoting cognitive skills and non-cognitive skills, are the kinds of things that Heckman’s research is designed to promote. But his research also indicates that something as basic as reading to a child on a regular basis, a very simple human activity that many of these disadvantaged kids don’t get, can have significant payoffs in terms of IQ development.



Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

Video purports to be trailer for film entitled Flames of War with strapline 'fighting has just begun'
Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again.
Chelsea E Manning [in Fort Leavenworth] in The Guardian
It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen? [Are we having a singularity moment in history where greater inequality of knowledge and beliefs across religions, regions and people add to the potential for conflict?]
ROGER COHEN in The New York Times
Is there a way to teach young people to seek affirmative consent before (and during) sex? Yes, but it requires a willingness to tackle difficult scenarios head on
Jessica Reed in The Guardian
Obama administration expands campaign against Islamic State with attack south-west of Iraqi capital
Two survivors of sinking said traffickers rammed boat, which left Egypt on 6 September, after passengers refused to transfer vessel
Peter Walker in The Guardian
An increasing number of cases where service personnel are bullied or denied promotion because they refuse to conform to the religious beliefs of their superiors. Very often the "superiors" are dominionist Christians. [A little something extra left by the Bush-Cheney Administration]
Along the frontiers between Spain and Morocco, Greece and Turkey and Hungary and Serbia, the EU is deploying brutal methods to keep out undesired refugees. Many risk everything for a future in Europe and their odysseys too often end in death.
Maximilian Popp in Der Spiegel
The Scottish vision and values are different from those that have become dominant south of the Border. Scotland has free university education for all; England has been moving towards increasing student fees, forcing students with parents of limited means to take out loans. Scotland has repeatedly stressed its commitment to the National Health Service; England has repeatedly made moves towards privatisation. Some of these differences are of long-standing: even 200 years ago, male literacy rates in Scotland were 50 per cent higher than in England, and Scottish universities charged fees that were one tenth of those at Cambridge and Oxford.

Differences in these and other related policies can, over time, lead not only to markedly different growth rates, and thus to markedly different levels of GDP per capita – swamping any slight short run impact – but also, and more importantly, to differences in the distribution of income and wealth. If the UK continues on its current course, imitating the American model, it is likely that the results will be like those of the US – where the typical family has seen its income stagnate for a quarter of a century, even as the rich get richer.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ in The Scotsman
Moshe Ya'alon joins political and military leadership in attack on reservists who refuse to serve in Palestinian territories [Altogether now, let's punish our best and brightest for doing the right thing]
Peter Beaumont in The Guardian
The ostentatious horror of Isis’s actions – the latest of which is the beheading of the British aid worker David Haines – and the way in which it actively solicits disgust, now has to be reconciled with the knowledge that these combatants are educated, tech-savvy and enjoy a popular base. The mainstream press doesn’t offer much help in interpreting this.
Richard Seymour in The Guardian
People around the world view the US as the greatest threat to peace; voted three times more dangerous than any other country. The data confirm this conclusion:
The humble traffic signal is gaining some new responsibilities.
Instead of using humans to monitor and react to traffic flow, the new signals use radar sensors and cameras to detect traffic, and sophisticated algorithms to instantly adjust signals based on real-time conditions. "Each intersection builds a plan that optimizes local traffic flow," says Smith. "Once it does that, it communicates its outflows to its downstream neighbors."
KEITH BARRY in CityLab
Ten men accused of trying to kill teenage education campaigner detained in operation by army, police and intelligence agencies
Agence France-Presse via The Guardian
In the tight-knit communities of the far north, there are no roads, no police officers—and higher rates of sexual assault than anywhere else in the United States.
Sara Bernard in The Atlantic
The letter, also sent to the Baltimore Sun, notes that the Rice incident isn't even the first case of domestic violence in the NFL this year and argued that the league's new policy isn't strict enough. "If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL," the senators wrote.
ARIT JOHN in The Wire
Perhaps the Scots will blaze a trail for economic sovereignty in Europe, just as North Dakotans did in the U.S. A publicly-owned bank could help Scotland take control of its own economic destiny, by avoiding unnecessary debt to a private banking system that has become a burden to the economy rather than a pillar in its support.
ELLEN BROWN in Web of Debt
Elections don’t change things, the rich and the political elites win either way. Legislation doesn’t change things, the Supreme Court stands like a wall against change that might impact the rich and the political elites, just like it did in the 1930s. It’s getting to be more than public relations and war-mongering can hide.

Maybe someone should think about how we can make life better for everyone, even if it means the rich don’t get all the money.

masaccio in Fire Dog Lake
Cameron’s and Ukip’s backing for a treaty that lets corporations devour public services exposes their duplicity
Owen Jones in The Guardian
When the OECD, World Bank, and the International Labor Organization agree on something, it’s a sign something serious is afoot. In this case, the three groups have issued a joint paper, G20 labour markets: outlook, key challenges and policy responses, which despite the anodyne title, gives a grim account of the prospects for workers in major economies.
Yves Smith in Naked Capitalism
Nevada’s Gigafactory deal is just the latest of the roughly $70 billion in incentives governments have given companies since the mid-1970s. [Symptom of dire economic stress]
RICHARD FLORIDA in CityLab
The U.S. is troubled by a growing divide between rich and poor.

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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