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Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, April 19, 2014, 8:59 AM
Policy & Practice News –
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Permanent Editorial?
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on inefficient health care spending compared with the 2011 OECD per capita average, which becomes extra overhead on everything U.S. workers make—resulting in offshoring 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 many OECD countries pay half as much.]
Obamacare used to be Democrats’ debacle -- but now it’s time to go on offense. Here’s where Republicans are exposed
The neoliberal turn in American health care is part of a much more fundamental transformation, beyond the borders of both America and of health care, and away from the promise of economic justice itself.
A.W. Gaffney in Jacobin
For the eastern U.S., this winter and spring have been like a brutal revival of the Ice Ages. One strong blast of polar weather after another sent temperatures plummeting deep into the country, and as yesterday's miserable weather attests, this frigid free-for-all has life in it still.
JOHN METCALFE The Atlantic Cities
In America, your race affects everything from your job to your commute to your brush-ups with the police. Why should it be any different with the amount of nasty air pollution you inhale?

Of course it isn't different, as shown by an eye-opening new study from the University of Minnesota.

JOHN METCALFE in The Atlantic Cities
What’s a beleaguered utility to do when forced by the government to close its profitable nuclear power plants?

It turns to lignite, a cheap, soft, muddy-brown colored form of sedimentary rock that spews more greenhouse gases than any other fossil fuel.

Tino Andresen in Bloomberg News
A new study examines the potential hazards of natural gas extraction.
Tim McDonnell in Mother Jones
The solution comes down to organic photovoltaics. Unlike traditional solar panels, made of silicon, OPV cells are made of organic semiconductors, which can be 3D-printed or coated over large areas.
JENNY XIE in The Atlantic Cities
“If we could figure out the trade secrets of photosynthesis (considered as 100 percent efficient) then every other source of energy we depend on today—coal, oil, natural gas—would become obsolete. Photosynthesis is the ultimate green power. It doesn't pollute the air, and is in fact carbon neutral. Artificial photosynthesis, on a big enough scale, could reduce the greenhouse effect that's driving climate change in a dangerous direction.”

Tyson isn't kidding: The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, sponsored by the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is busy at work trying to build "molecular-level energy conversion 'machines' that generate fuels directly from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide."

CHRIS MOONEY in The Atlantic Cities
Juan Cole in Informed Comment
"There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in killings of ordinary people defending rights to their environment and livelihoods from corporate and state abuse. Yet those responsible almost always get away with it, because governments are failing to protect their citizens and the international community is not paying enough attention to their plight."
Nina Lakhani in The Guardian
Dr. Mark Hyman: Advising the Clintons on Their Health
AMY CHOZICK in The New York Times

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.
Why is Healthcare Absurdly Expensive in USA: Graphics (Part 2) (Part 1 is here) Videos of Less Corrupt Health Care Systems
SOURCE: Public Broadcasting System & ABC News | Ref.
Health Care Reform Reality Check
SOURCE: The White House | Ref.
Health Care Reform: An Online Guide
SOURCE: Slate Mag. | Ref.
International Healthcare Systems Primer
SOURCE: The American Medical Student Association | Ref.
Global Warming Links
SOURCE: Readers | Ref.
Whenever we need a perfect example of Americans who have no clue what is in their best interest, we need only look to the south. Yes, there are some great people there–and no, not everyone is ignorant. However, red state voters regularly eschew logic and ignore facts when making decisions, instead turning their focus toward Bible-based voting. Right-wing politicians use this to their advantage whenever it is time to elect leaders.
John Prager in Informed Comment
Online gun sweepstakes have become one of the most useful tools for campaign outreach in the 2014 Republican primaries. Across the country, from a race for sheriff in California to the United States Senate primary in South Carolina, candidates are using high-powered pistols and rifles as a lure to build up their donor lists and expand their base of support. [Just when you think they can't get any sicker...]
JEREMY W. PETERS in The New York Times
Debtors’ prisons in the U.S. were declared unconstitutional, but [Republican] states have re-implemented them anyway. A person locked up can’t earn money to pay the debt. And most significantly, it ends up costing many jurisdictions more money to punish someone for not paying than they would have “spent” just forgetting the debt. So why do states do this?
Peter Van Buren in FDL's Dissenter
Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, show how separate and unequal education is coming back.
Nikole Hannah-Jones/ProPublica via The Atlantic
As a candidate, he touted a proposal to curb the influence of lobbyists and donors. As a senator, he shelved that plan—and accepted contributions from influence peddlers. [What's wrong with government in a nutshell]
DAVID CORN The Mother Jones
That Sean Hannity and other far right wing pundits are supporting the regional militiamen and their mooching hero rather than the US government gives you an idea what side they’d be on if they were in Pakistan...
JUAN COLE in Informed Comment
Federal transportation policies aren't solely about transportation. They address a variety of other goals, from elevating wages to increasing unionization to encouraging alternatives to lowering costs-of-living for the poor. But even those who support such goals must acknowledge that funding them through transportation policy can come at the expense of actually building or properly maintaining infrastructure. [The history of corruption at the state-level was not mentioned...]
SCOTT BEYER in The Atlantic Cities
In Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens [PDF], a paper forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics by Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page, the authors analyzed 1,779 policies over the past 20+ years and concluded that policy makers respond exclusively to the needs of people in the 90th wealth percentile to the exclusion of pretty much every one else.
Cory Doctorow in Boing Boing
The Texas governor is being investigated after he cut funding for the state's watchdog agency.
Patrick Caldwell in Mother Jones
Both "conservative" and "liberal" journalists are held to account for unprofessional work.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

The US Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world's biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists and a first-strike nuclear arsenal
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph
Christian clergy who dress in ‘priestly garb’ are frequently spat on as they walk through Jerusalem’s Old City; as one priest commented ‘it’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening’. In fact, these anti-Christian attacks have become so frequent that in 2012 the Catholic leadership of Palestine issued a statement entitled, Declaration of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, in which they urged the Israeli authorities to address the ‘teaching of contempt’ in Israeli schools.
QUINN COFFEY in Informed Comment
Many in the West believe that Russia is behind the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. Kiev on Tuesday launched an offensive to retake control of the region, but the biggest question still looms: Will Russia invade?
US and UK urge Russia to choose diplomacy after tense late-night phone call between Putin and Obama
Rowena Mason, Paul Lewis and Alec Luhn in The Guardian
Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi is out with an explosive new book that asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale.
AMY GOODMAN and AARON MATÉ interview MATT TAIBBI on Democracy Now
One of the slogans of the 2011 Occupy protests was 'capitalism isn't working'. Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why they're right: A progressive tax on wealth is the only sane solution.
Andrew Hussey in 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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Inequality is the plague of our times, a divisive epidemic caused by the unjust economic system – ‘Neo-Liberalism’, or market fundamentalism – which saturates the world. A system which, Noam Chomsky says, is “so dysfunctional that it cannot put eager hands to needed work,” as would happen “if the economy were designed to serve human need rather than create wealth beyond avarice for the privileged few.” It’s hard, he says, “to think of a more serious indictment of a socio-economic system.” The ‘dysfunctional’ socially unjust system has facilitated “very high concentrations of wealth, and with it political power, which yields [favourably skewed] legislation, which drives the cycle forward.”
Present and past owners of OAO Bank Rossiya, the only company hit with sanctions for Russia’s takeover of Crimea, include three billionaires, two proteges of a Nobel Laureate and, according to a Spanish prosecutor, one possible mob boss.
Irina Reznik and Evgenia Pismennaya in Bloomberg News

...The country is helmed by a prime minister, Stephen Harper, known for his brazenly right-wing views and executive unilateralism. Both federal and provincial governments have embraced austerity and eroded public services. And Canada’s newly aggressive exploitation of its natural resources has it trampling on civil liberties and reneging on its international obligations like, as Foreign Policy put it, a “rogue, reckless petrostate.”

These are not changes born in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people, but an agenda designed and implemented from above, articulated in an imported conservative ideology, to abet the interests of private industry. Some of that agenda, like the shocking attack on Canada’s environmental research community, has been implemented so swiftly and unilaterally that the public is just now catching up. Other aspects, like the undermining of the country’s universal health care system, have been imposed more gradually, a death by a thousand cuts combined with a relentless propaganda campaign. [Mean-spirited Kochs and their ilk are 'winning' in Canada, too.]

Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks, using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has now joined a chorus of litigants suing over it. According to an SEIU report:
ELLEN BROWN in Web of Debt
Capitalism’s new critics take on an economics run amok.
Timothy Shenk in The Nation

“In the United States of America, billionaires should not be able to buy elections,” declared Sanders, to thunderous applause.

“If we do not get our act together, we are moving towards an oligarchic society,” he continued, arguing that, “We have got to fight to defend American democracy.”

John Nichols in The Nation

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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