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Established 1973 — Last updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 10:20 AM
Aggregated news for a better world – we raise awareness of what corporate media suppresses
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Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated health care spending compared with the 2013 OECD per capita average of advanced countries, which becomes extra cost overhead on U.S. exports—resulting in offshoring manufacturing and jobs. Let's end price gouging and adopt efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
In 2015 US total per capita health care spending was $9451, $5044 more per person than in France without better results.

Lastly, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

Fossil fuels to the fore as president signs orders to review clean power plan, lift ban on coal leases and discard expert thinking on true cost of carbon emissions

The 2015 clean power plan has been on hold since 2016 while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly states and more than 100 companies. The attempt to roll it back completely will meet with fierce opposition.

Tomás Carbonell, director of regulatory policy and senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the White House must adhere to the same process of public notice and comment that was followed in adopting the plan, which took almost two years.

“Large majorities of Americans in red and blue states alike support strong action to reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants, and the clean power plan is supported by a broad and diverse coalition of states, municipalities, power companies, leading businesses, consumer advocates, faith organizations and many others,” he said.

“These supporters will turn out in force to oppose the administration’s outrageous attack on the United States’ only nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants – safeguards that are essential to protecting our public health, securing a clean energy economy and yielding a safer climate for our children.”

Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said: “This proposed executive order gives us further proof that Trump isn’t a leader, he’s just a fossil fuel industry stooge with a presidential pen. Thankfully, for all his bluster, the best Trump can do is delay America’s inevitable transition to clean energy, but he can’t stop it.

“The problem, of course, is how much devastation his administration will inflict on the climate, vulnerable communities and the environment in the meantime. With this proposed executive order the Trump administration is simply putting America further behind in the global race towards a renewable future.”

David Smith | The Guardian
New research highlights an emerging migration crisis that’s worsening with global warming

Erosion, rising seas, ferocious storms and other coastal perils have prompted the resettlement of more than 1 million people worldwide, with an exhaustive new analysis highlighting an emerging migration crisis that’s worsening as global warming overwhelms shorelines.

Researchers scoured journal papers, government reports and news articles for examples of what experts call “managed retreat,” analyzing 27 rules, programs and decisions that have led to the abandonment of homes and homelands from Louisiana, New York and Alaska to Thailand, Brazil and Australia.

“For a long time, the instinct has been to protect everything in place,” said Miyuki Hino, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford who led the research, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. “It’s only recently that we’re seeing a significant increase in societies in various forms deciding that isn’t the right choice for them.”

JOHN UPTON / CLIMATE CENTRAL | Salon
New research highlights an emerging migration crisis that’s worsening with global warming

Erosion, rising seas, ferocious storms and other coastal perils have prompted the resettlement of more than 1 million people worldwide, with an exhaustive new analysis highlighting an emerging migration crisis that’s worsening as global warming overwhelms shorelines.

Researchers scoured journal papers, government reports and news articles for examples of what experts call “managed retreat,” analyzing 27 rules, programs and decisions that have led to the abandonment of homes and homelands from Louisiana, New York and Alaska to Thailand, Brazil and Australia.

“For a long time, the instinct has been to protect everything in place,” said Miyuki Hino, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford who led the research, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. “It’s only recently that we’re seeing a significant increase in societies in various forms deciding that isn’t the right choice for them.”

JOHN UPTON / CLIMATE CENTRAL | Salon

By Friday, President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency will have to make a momentous decision: whether to protect kids from a widely used pesticide that's known to harm their brains—or protect the interests of the chemical's maker, Dow AgroSciences.

The pesticide in question, chlorpyrifos, is a nasty piece of work. It's an organophosphate, a class of bug killers that work by "interrupting the electrochemical processes that nerves use to communicate with muscles and other nerves," as the Pesticide Encyclopedia puts it. Chlorpyrifos is also an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can cause "adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects," according to the National Institutes of Health.

Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids' brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples here, here, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.

TOM PHILPOTT | Mother Jones
With the demise of Trumpcare, there’s no better time to fight for single-payer.

....A majority of the country wants single-payer. Both physicians and nurses voice strong support. And now the conservative alternative has been disgraced. Politicians have yet to follow the populace, but, with enough grassroots activism, they can be pressured and flipped, or — if recalcitrant — confronted with primary challenges or defeated at the polls.

The insurance industry will no doubt fight to the death, but it’s enormously unpopular, and surmountable.

A single-payer universal health care system would not, by itself, secure the much larger goal of health justice. To accomplish that, all types of oppressions — along racial, gender, economic, and environmental lines — would need to be undone.

But it would be an enormous first step.

Adam Gaffney | Jacobin
If Trump explodes private markets, socialized medicine will ultimately grow.

....The Medicaid expansion isn’t completely protected from Price. He can give states some flexibility to deny coverage. But Medicaid is mostly protected. On Friday, after the Republican bill failed, Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicaid and Medicare for Obama, was talking on the phone to a former colleague. “Virtually the only words either of us could say,” Slavitt relayed, “were ‘Medicaid is safe.’ ”

The private markets are less safe. They have already had more problems than the Medicaid expansion. Price could try to fix those problems, and I hope he does. Or he could set out to aggravate the problems, which he has taken initial steps to do. Above all, he could make changes that discourage healthy people from signing up, causing prices to rise and insurers to flee.

Now, think about the political message this would send to Democrats: It’s not worth expanding health coverage in a conservative-friendly way, because Republican leaders won’t support it anyway.

Politics aside, private markets in many areas of the economy have substantive advantages over a government program. They create competition, which leads to innovation and lower prices. But private markets in medical care tend to be more complicated and less successful.

And government health care programs turn out to be very popular, among both Democratic and Republican voters. Medicare is a huge success. Medicaid also works well, and some Republicans have defended it in recent weeks.

So if voters like government-provided health care and Republicans are going to undermine private markets, what should Democrats do? When they are next in charge, they should expand government health care.

They should expand Medicaid further into the working class. They should open Medicare to people in their early 60s. They should add a so-called public option to the private markets. They should push the United States closer to single-payer health insurance. It will take time and involve setbacks, but they are likely to succeed in the long run.

Until then, the future of socialized medicine is in the hands of Dr. Tom Price.

David Leonhardt Op-Ed | The New York Times
Global warming makes temperature patterns that cause heatwaves, droughts and floods across Europe, north America and Asia more likely, scientists find

The fingerprint of human-caused climate change has been found on heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world, according to scientists.

The discovery indicates that the impacts of global warming are already being felt by society and adds further urgency to the need to cut carbon emissions. A key factor is the fast-melting Arctic, which is now strongly linked to extreme weather across Europe, Asia and north America.

Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have long been expected to lead to increasing extreme weather events, as they trap extra energy in the atmosphere. But linking global warming to particular events is difficult because the climate is naturally variable.

The new work analysed a type of extreme weather event known to be caused by changes in “planetary waves” – such as California’s ongoing record drought, and recent heatwaves in the US and Russia, as well as severe floods in Pakistan in 2010.

Planetary waves are a pattern of winds, of which the jet stream is a part, that encircle the northern hemisphere in lines that undulate from the tropics to the poles. Normally, the whole wave moves eastwards but, under certain temperature conditions, the wave can halt its movement. This leaves whole regions under the same weather for extended periods, which can turn hot spells into heatwaves and wet weather into floods.

Damian Carrington | The Guardian

....Someone should do something. But that someone clearly isn’t going to be the federal government. Instead, President Trump’s appointees spent the week dismantling 40 years’ worth of environmental laws and regulations. In the past few days, we’ve learned that they plan to ditch Obama-era laws that would increase gas mileage for cars and shut down old coal-fired power plants. A new analysis shows that if such plans are carried out, it will be impossible for the United States to meet the targets it pledged to hit in the Paris climate accords — we’d break our promise by a billion tons of carbon. One way of dealing with those unpleasant truths is to stop paying attention. A spokesman for the White House said last week that the federal government was no longer going to “waste money” on climate research. Money to maintain even existing climate satellites is disappearing. NASA has been told to stop worrying about our home planet and focus on Mars.

So who’s going to stand up? The answer, for the moment, is states and cities. On Wednesday, the governors of the West Coast states and the mayors of most of its big cities put out a stirring joint message: “We speak as a region of over 50 million people with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion. There is no question that to act on climate is to act in our best economic interests. Through expanded climate policies, we have grown jobs and expanded our economies while cleaning our air.” They would, the officials promised, keep at it. They added that they hoped other local and regional leaders would “join us in leading and re-affirming our commitment to cut carbon emissions and reverse the damaging impacts to our communities of unfettered pollution.”

This is not just a national effort — California Governor Jerry Brown has been helping spearhead the Under2 coalition, joining together “subnational units” from around the planet working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. (Massachusetts is a signatory.) And state officials are doing their best to keep the fossil fuel industry honest, even as Washington effectively ends any real oversight. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, for instance, has bravely joined her New York counterpart, Eric Schneiderman, to investigate Exxon’s outsize role in fostering the climate denial now in power in Washington. States and cities may be able to keep some of the clean energy momentum rolling. But they can’t do it by themselves, at least, not for long. Reuters recently reported on the growing number of national governments trying to rein in mayors and governors who push “too fast” on climate pollution — from Norway to Australia, conservative governments are now trying to rein in progressive big-city mayors.

Which means that the rest of us need to add our weight to the political balance. Upset by EPA chief Scott Pruitt and his assertion that carbon dioxide isn’t driving global warming? Scared by Trump’s insistence that climate change is a Chinese hoax? Inspired by the plucky local officials determined to try and keep the fight alive? Then show up in Washington on April 29, for the next great mobilization of the cresting resistance. More than 100,000 people have already RSVP’d for the People’s Climate March — it’s our chance to say we won’t stand silently by as the planet melts.

Bill McKibben | Common Dreams
Natural gas is meant to be a far lower carbon fuel than coal. But a new study shows that methane leaks from gas power plants and oil refineries are 20-120 times higher than thought. And with methane a greenhouse gas almost 100 times stronger than CO2 over 20 years, the leaks are equivalent to about a tenth of the US's CO2 emissions.

Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded in a recent study that natural gas power plants release 21-120 times more methane than earlier estimates.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11-90 times more than initial estimates.

Steve Horn / DeSmogBlog | The Ecologist
A Louisiana Town Plagued by Pollution Shows Why Cuts to the EPA Will Be Measured in Illnesses and Deaths
Sharon Lerner | The Intercept
Keystone XL: Trump issues permit to begin construction of pipeline ["Stupid is as stupid does." –Forrest Gump]
President ushers in ‘new era of American energy policy’ Friday as environmental activists denounce revived oil pipeline as a ‘disaster for the planet’
Amber Jamieson and Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
Three-judge appeals court panel ruled that state law requires that human health and environment take precedence over industry interests
Lauren McCauley, staff writer | Common Dreams
Positive outcome of trials in Niger fuels hope that vaccine can protect children in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond from infection that causes often fatal diarrhoea
Kate Hodal | The Guardian

Reference:
dryriver | SlashDot

....Researchers, Eicke Latz at the University of Bonn and colleagues, followed up on the parents’ hypothesis and found that in mice, cyclodextrin indeed blocked plaque formation, melted away plaques that had already formed in arteries, reduced atherosclerosis-associated inflammation, and revved up cholesterol metabolism—even in rodents fed cholesterol-rich diets.

Beth Mole | ars technica | Ref.
Though it won't 'cure' Alzheimer's, tests show compound, similar to that found in energy drinks, clears amyloid beta plaques, which build up in the brain in early stages of Alzheimer’s
Ian Sample | Guardian | Ref.
JOE ROMM | Climate Progress | Ref.
Phys.org | Ref.
Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output
Suzanne Goldenberg | Guardian | Ref.

A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.

Gabrielle Canon | Mother Jones | Ref.
Janet Redman / Foreign Policy in Focus | Informed Comment | Ref.
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 | Atlantic | Ref.
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs
[All the other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug & medical procedure costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in New York Times | Ref.
UNICEF rated Dutch children the happiest in the world, and American kids aren't even in the top 25. Here's why
RINA MAE ACOSTA AND MICHELE HUTCHISON | Salon




During a record-breaking hot presidential election year, American news networks failed to report on climate change
Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s findings on mortality rates have made waves. A new paper looks deeper at a divided America – and its crisis of suicide, overdoses, and drug- and alcohol-fueled diseases
Michael Bible | The Guardian
Trump’s refusal to condemn the attack against a black man – believed to be ‘practice’ for a killing spree – allows hate and violence to breed

....James Jackson’s gruesome crime bears all the hallmarks of the violence of our age. His was a politically motivated act performed to advertise an ideology, through both the media and a manifesto, and to send a message of terror, this time through the black community.

Imagine how different the reaction would be if James Jackson had been a Muslim killing other Americans. All we need to do is compare the coverage and reaction of last week’s Westminster attack to Jackson’s to see the difference.

Few people have heard of James Jackson, but the global news media have endlessly replayed every second of Khalid Masood’s movements. World leaders were quick to condemn Masood’s act, and Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to the family of Kurt Cochran, an American who was tragically killed in the Westminster attack.

Why he wouldn’t also send condolences to the families of Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, and Leslie Rhodes, the non-American victims of the attack, speaks volumes about Trump. Don’t hold your breath for Trump’s condolence tweet to the friends and family of African American Timothy Caughman.

Opinion: Moustafa Bayoumi | The Guardian
Mr. Trump’s inaugural budget blueprint is a narrow-minded document that sacrifices American innovation to small-bore politics.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD | The New York Times

Previous bills have reversed Obama regulations banning Social Security recipients with a mental impairment from buying a firearm, restricting the dumping of mining waste in streams and rivers, and requiring energy companies to disclose how much they're paying foreign governments.

In fact, now half of all bills Trump has signed so far have been these regulation-killing resolutions. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday many of the bills "cancel federal power grabs that took decision-making away from the states and local governments."

The rules canceled yesterday by Trump's pen include:

Gregory Korte | USA Today

....Political language has been replaced by the obscenities of reality television, professional wrestling and the daytime shows in which couples find out if they cheated on each other. This is the language used by Trump, who views reality and himself through the degraded lens of television and the sickness of celebrity culture. He, like much of the public, lives in the fantasy world of electronic hallucinations.

kleptocrat: a ruler who uses political power to steal his or her country's resources.

The battle over health care was all about the most effective way to hand money to corporations. Do we stick with Obamacare, already a gift to the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries, or do we turn to a sham bill of pretend care that gives even more tax cuts to the rich? This is what passes for nuanced political debate now. The courtiers in the media give the various sides in this argument ample airtime and space in print, but they lock out critics of corporate power, especially those who promote the rational system of Medicare for all. Health care costs in the United States, where 40 cents of every health care dollar goes to corporations, are double what they are in industrial countries that have a national health service. This censorship on behalf of corporations is the press’ steadfast lie of omission. And it is this lie that leaves the media at once distrusted by the public and complicit in Trump’s fleecing of America. When we are not being amused by these debates among corporate lackeys we listen to retired generals, all making six-figure incomes from the weapons industry, selling the public on the imperative of endless war and endless arms purchases.

Trump understands the effectiveness of illusions, false promises and lies, an understanding that eludes those in the Freedom Caucus, many of whom want to do away with health care systems that involve government. If the ruling kleptocrats strip everything away at once, it could provoke an angry backlash among the population. Better to use the more subtle mechanisms of theft that worked in Trump’s casinos and his fake university. Better to steal with finesse. Better to strip the government on behalf of corporations while promising to make America great again.

The kleptocrats, whatever their differences, are united by one overriding fear. They fear large numbers of people will become wise to their kleptocracy and revolt. They fear the mob. They fear revolution, the only mechanism left that can rid us of these parasites.

They are perverting the legal system and building mechanisms and paramilitary groups that will protect the kleptocrats and oligarchs when the last bits of the country and the citizens are being “harvested” for corporate profit.

Chris Hedges | Common Dreams
Boarded-up shops are a common sight in cities across the country as Macy’s, Sears and JCPenney struggle and Credit Suisse downgrades the retail sector
Edward Helmore | The Guardian
Progressives and Democrats not working with Republicans is not why Trumpcare effort failed, explains independent senator from Vermont

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," Sanders told CNN's Dana Bash during an interview when she asked if he would reach across the aisle to Republicans and tell Democrats to "stop being intransigent" with Trump and the Republicans on healthcare.

Cutting off Bash with a smile, Sanders said, "Look, what rational people would say is, 'What are the problems? And how do we fix it?' Are deductibles too high? Of course they are. Are there some parts of the country where people don't have a choice? Yes, that's true. Let us do, among other things, a public option. Let us give people in every state of this country a public option from which they can choose. Let's talk about lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Let's deal with the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Those are areas that we can work together on."

Jon Queally, staff writer | Common Dreams
Even Trump has said Greenwich’s hedge fund guys ‘get away with murder’ – but can this debt-ridden state afford to close the loophole known as carried interest?
Dominic Rushe | The Guardian
Even Trump has said Greenwich’s hedge fund guys ‘get away with murder’ – but can this debt-ridden state afford to close the loophole known as carried interest?

....The DLC, which supported the Iraq War and received money from the likes of the Koch Brothers, soon became a tainted brand. Long before 2011, when the organization dissolved, the DLC label stuck to politicians like a scarlet letter. Even President Obama publicly distanced himself from the organization in 2004 as he ascended as a national figure.

So, eager to maintain power and influence, the DLC did what Stringer Bell ended up doing. They changed their name to New Democrats.

"I don't think the people who ran the DLC ever really left," said Norman Solomon, a coordinator for RootsAction, in an interview with Truthout. "It is the same product, different name." Indeed, the DLC agenda is carried out today by think tanks like the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and Third Way, which push the same regressive agenda but under different labels, and with less public scrutiny. As the Boston Globe described in 2014, Third Way usually works "behind the scenes -- in the White House, the corridors of Congress, and the office suites of lobbying firms in downtown Washington."

Now, as Democrats face an existential crisis in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, these fundamentally conservative organizations, armed with millions in corporate donations, are working with a renewed aggressiveness in the public sphere. They are attempting to convince the party to shun its base and further embrace the so-called "vital center," and the corporatism that has long defined these groups.

If Third Way succeeds, the Democrats will leave an opening for right-wing "populism" to thrive long after the Trump presidency. If this happens, Americans will increasingly (and correctly) see Democrats as a party run by the establishment, and serving the interests of its donors, rather than the working class. This is why progressive activists are fighting hard to rid the party of Democrats who embrace this agenda.

Michael Corcoran | TruthOut
How the Disappearing Middle Class Threatens Our Democracy [Citizen's United ruling is ruining America]
The framers envisioned a strong middle class to ground our republic. If it disappears, does our democracy go with it?
The problem today is that the basic foundation upon which our middle-class constitution was built — the prerequisite of relative economic equality — is crumbling. More than eight years after the financial crash, disparities in economic power are at the forefront of popular debate.

....The problem today is that the basic foundation upon which our middle-class constitution was built — the prerequisite of relative economic equality — is crumbling. More than eight years after the financial crash, disparities in economic power are at the forefront of popular debate. There is widespread concern about rising inequality and the increasing share of wealth going to the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent of people. In the past generation, the average worker hasn’t seen his income rise; adjusted for inflation, it’s been stagnant. People are working harder and harder, with gains in productivity and rising GDP but without an increase in wealth or economic security. Economic inequality is also turning into political inequality. Political leaders increasingly express a growing popular sentiment that “the system is rigged” to work for wealthy and corporate interests, who have the means to buy influence through campaign funding and then sustain their influence with “armies of lobbyists” in Washington. This outrage also isn’t partisan: it comes from both [corporate Republicans] and [corporate Democrats].

KRISTIN MILLER | Moyers and Company
The Time interview provides unusual insight into the principles and deep structure of Trumpspeak, the political discourse distorting our democracy
Opinion: Lawrence Douglas | The Guardian
At least 113 countries meet at UN to discuss ban, but US ambassador says the world is too unsafe for the US not to have nuclear weapons

Nikki Haley, appointed as the United States’ ambassador to the UN by Donald Trump in January, spoke outside the meeting saying the world was too unsafe for the US not to have nuclear weapons.

“I’m a mum. I’m a wife. I’m a daughter. I always think of my family first. Our job is to protect our people and our country. To keep them safe. To keep the peace.”

“We would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons but in this day and time we cannot honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us who are good trying to keep the peace and safety not to have them.”

France and the UK, fellow nuclear weapons states, also spoke against the ban treaty negotiations, saying they would not assist in disarming nuclear states.

Ben Doherty | The Guardian
Although it is a business powerhouse, Germany's economy is dominated by pre-internet companies. Now the country is realizing that if it wants to remain strong, it needs to create the next Google -- and reinvent the way its entrepreneurs work.
Martin Hesse, Armin Mahler and Ann-Kathrin Nezik | Spiegel International
London is the epicenter of globalization, a glut of money and creativity -- and the antithesis of Brexit parochialism. It is also the best city in the world.
Christoph Scheuermann | Spiegel International
The official divorce proceedings between Britain and the European Union are expected to begin on Wednesday, when Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50. So far, the UK and the EU haven't even agreed on the first issues they intend to negotiate.

Michael Barnier is Europe's divorce lawyer, the man charged with negotiating Britain's departure from the EU. It's a divorce unlike any seen before -- it will be expensive, protracted and closely watched by the entire world. Everyone wants to talk to him these days -- national leaders, politicians, members of parliament -- and when they get the opportunity, the Frenchman pulls out a presentation. It is, if you will, the secret strategy for the divorce proceedings.

SPIEGEL Staff | Spiegel International
A South Korean firm is just the latest to be lured by Britain’s atomic amibitions as safety concerns and cost stalk the industry
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian
The ambush took place in Kasai Central where the UN is searching for missing US and Swedish investigators
Associated Press | The Guardian
In a territory on the edge of the desert, bounded by Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, where watercourses are reduced to mainly dry gulches, the water table is overexploited. The level drops and seawater seeps in, raising salinity.

More and more Gazans are falling ill from their drinking water, highlighting the humanitarian issues facing the Palestinian enclave that the UN says could become uninhabitable by 2020.

The situation has already reached crisis point in the war-scarred, underdeveloped and blockaded territory, says Monther Shoblak, general manager of the strip's water utility.

"More than 97 percent of the water table is unfit for domestic use because of salinisation never before seen," he said.

The United Nations puts scarcity and pollution of water resources at the forefront of Gaza's scourges.

"If the catastrophe does not arrive this year, it will surely be here within three years," said Zidane Abu Zuhri who is in charge of water issues at UNICEF, the world body's children's fund.

Almost all of the narrow coastal strip's two million people depend upon its water table for their private or commercial needs, reaching their taps through a dilapidated public system or pumped privately from the ground.

The health of Gazans is suffering as a result.

"Each year we see a 13-14 percent increase in the number of patients admitted with kidney problems," said Dr Abdallah al-Kishawi, head of nephrology at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Sakher Abou El Oun | PHYS.ORG
The two frontrunners in the French presidential election are poles apart: one stands for identity and culture; the other for globalism and free movement

....With sudden clarity the leaders of two insurgent movements face each other across a political landscape littered with the corpses of the old order: one offers a France that closes its borders and puts “les Français de souche” (core French) first; the other hopes to save centre-ground politics by reforming it from within.

“It would be chemically pure if it came down to a runoff between Macron and Le Pen,” says Christophe Guilluy, the author of Peripheral France, a study of the effects of globalisation on the country’s smaller towns and communities. “It would be perfect! It would be a battle between ‘la France en-haut and la France en-bas’ [high France and low France]; between the prosperous in the cities and the provincials who know that this economic model doesn’t need them and feel the pain of that.

“In France, ‘la classe populaire’ used to live and spend their lives creating the wealth. Now the working classes live far from the zone where prosperity is generated. They voted for globalisation over the past 30 years, but it didn’t work for them. The FN is capturing these workers who are at the sharp end of global competition, as well as the young who find that the labour market has shut up shop.”

Julian Coman | The Guardian
Despite the president’s ‘zero poverty’ pledge, a third of the country lives below the line – spurring action from a team who grew up in the towns themselves
Uki Goñi | The Guardian
In Gorakhpur, the power base of a firebrand monk, religious tension grows with Uttar Pradesh’s 40 million Muslims

....“It is an important and disturbing moment,” agrees Ramachandra Guha, an author and historian. “It is the fringe moving to the mainstream.”

The boyish face of Adityanath, 44, beamed down on Gorakhpur last week from thousands of green-and-saffron banners plastered along its main road. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people are expected to line the road for his triumphant return to Gorakhpur, the electorate he has represented for almost two decades in the Uttar Pradesh parliament.

Another addition to the city streets last week were squads of police officers hunting so-called “Romeos”. Along with a ban on buffalo slaughter, cracking down on amorous young men was a key campaign promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party. Officially, the police are targeting “Eve-teasing”, the endemic sexual harassment that blights some Indian streets. But critics instead see a crackdown on mixed-religion couples, in line with Adityanath’s fevered, baseless warnings that Muslim men are trying to seduce Hindu women as part of “love jihad”.

The surprise appointment of Adityanath to run the state has deeply rattled Manoj Singh, a Gorakhpur journalist who has spent the last two decades tracking the new chief minister and the HYV men he labels a “private army”. He recalls, 10 years ago, when the city boiled with religious tension after the murder of a Hindu man, and Adityanath rose to address a crowd of HYV supporters outside the Gorakhpur railway station.

Michael Safi | The Guardian
Fed-up with ineffective leaders who aren’t dealing with the crises on the continent, people are coming together to launch a pan-African solidarity movement

The expression “Africa rising” was popularised by the Economist and focuses on GDP growth. The growing middle class and major increases in foreign direct investment all pointed to Africa being a prime investment destination and the promised return-on-investment levels that City bankers could only dream of since the collapse of the Asian tigers.

But while GDP has been rising across Africa, Africans themselves have been sinking – into deepening inequality, increasing corruption, shrinking civic space and in low lying areas, literally due to climate change.

This is why 272 people from 44 African countries (and the diaspora) founded Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity, in August last year, out of a deep desire to rewrite the rising narrative. The vision is a decentralised, citizen-owned future. Social inclusion, peace and shared prosperity are the key touch points of this new pan-African movement.

Africa is a rich continent. It has been impoverished by colonialism, slavery and now by new forms of economic injustice. We can’t undo history and the mess that we find ourselves in but we refuse to allow our political and business leaders to blame everything on colonialism.

History is not to blame for the human rights violations happening right now, for the gender inequality, for using fossil fuels when we have some of the best conditions for renewable energy. These wrongs are current and Africans Rising is about calling out our leaders on these failures and building a better, more just, more peaceful and sustainable Africa.

On 25 May – commonly know as Africa Day and officially as African Liberation Day – there will be a series of actions and events across the continent to mark the launch of the movement. We chose that day so that we can remind ourselves, our leaders and the world that we are tired of waiting for that liberation to be delivered. And to show them that we are prepared to take action and hold political and business leaders accountable and reinvigorate the journey to that better life for all.

Kumi Naidoo | The Guardian
Trump is Obama’s Legacy. Will this Break up the Democratic Party?

....The Democratic Party has lost its ability to pose as the party of labor and the middle class. Firmly controlled by Wall Street and California billionaires, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) strategy of identity politics encourages any identity except that of wage earners. The candidates backed by the Donor Class have been Blue Dogs who pledged to promote Wall Street alongside neocons urging a New Cold War with Russia.

They preferred to lose with Hillary than to win behind Bernie Sanders. So Trump’s electoral victory is their legacy as well as Obama’s. Instead of Trump’s victory dispelling that strategy, the Democrats are doubling down. It is as if identity politics is all they have.

Trying to ride on Barack Obama’s coattails didn’t work. Promising “hope and change,” he won by posing as a transformational president, leading the Democrats to control of the White House, Senate and Congress in 2008. Swept into office by a national reaction against the George Bush’s Iraq Oil War and the junk-mortgage crisis that left the economy debt-ridden, they had free rein to pass whatever new laws they chose – even a Public Option in health care if they had wanted, or make Wall Street banks absorb the losses from their bad and often fraudulent loans.

But it turned out that Obama’s role was to prevent the changes that voters hoped to see, and indeed that the economy needed to recover: financial reform, debt writedowns to bring junk mortgages in line with fair market prices, and throwing crooked bankers in jail. Obama rescued the banks, not the economy, and turned over the Justice Department and regulatory agencies to his Wall Street campaign contributors. He did not even pull back from war in the Near East, but extended it to Libya and Syria, blundering into the Ukrainian coup as well.

Having dashed the hopes of his followers, Obama then praised his chosen successor Hillary Clinton as his “Third Term.” Enjoying this kiss of death, Hillary promised to keep up Obama’s policies.

The straw that pushed voters over the edge was when she asked voters, “Aren’t you better off today than you were eight years ago?” Who were they going to believe: their eyes, or Hillary’s? National income statistics showed that only the top 5 percent of the population were better off. All the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during Obama’s tenure went to them – the Donor Class that had gained control of the Democratic Party leadership.

....What a truly transformative president would do/would have done

No administration can create a sound U.S. recovery without dealing with the problem that caused the 2008 crisis in the first place: over-indebtedness. The only one way to restore growth, raise living standards and make the economy competitive again is a debt writedown. But that is not yet on the political horizon. Obama’s doublecross of his voters in 2009 prevented the needed policy from occurring. Having missed this chance in the last financial crisis, a progressive policy must await yet another crisis. But so far, no political party is preparing a program to juxtapose the Republican-Democratic austerity and scale-back of Social Security, Medicare and social spending programs.

Also no longer on the horizon is a more progressive income tax, or a public option for health care – or for banking, or consumer protection against financial fraud, or for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or for a revived protection of labor’s right to unionize. Or environmental regulations.

It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.

I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector.

If this slow but inexorable crash does lead to a political crisis, it looks like the Republicans may succeed in convening a new Constitutional Convention (many states already have approved this) to lock the United States into a corporatist neoliberal world. Its slogan will be that of Margaret Thatcher: TINA – There Is No Alternative.

And who is to disagree? As Trotsky said, fascism is the result of the failure of the left to provide an alternative.

Michael Hudson | his blog

Reference:
How to Hide $400 Million [("Ideal," thinks Trump.) Tax-shelters have evolved into a distributed, international system of deregulation loopholes that enable vast worldwide corruption]
When a wealthy businessman set out to divorce his wife, their fortune vanished. The quest to find it would reveal the depths of an offshore financial system bigger than the U.S. economy.
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE | The New York Times Magazine | Ref.

The Financial Times headline is uncharacteristically dramatic: America’s Middle Class Meltdown: core shrinks to half of US homes.

YVES SMITH | Naked Capitalism | Ref.
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.
Move comes as international outrage grows over airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in Mosul Jadida neighbourhood

Iraqi military leaders have halted their push to recapture west Mosul from Islamic State as international outrage grew over the civilian toll from airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in a single district of the city.

The attack on the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood is thought to have been one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Saturday, more than a week after the bombs landed, when the US-led coalition confirmed that its aircraft had targeted Isis fighters in the area.

They carried out the attack on 17 March “at the request of the Iraqi security forces”, and have now launched a formal investigation into reports of civilian casualties, the coalition said.

Martin Chulov and Emma Graham-Harrison | The Guardian
Coalition bombs buried more than a hundred people in the ruins of three houses and raised fresh questions about US rules of engagement
Martin Chulov | The Guardian
The sheer number of US Coalition airstrikes is diverting civilian casualty counters away from investigating Russian bombings.
BEN SULLIVAN | MOTHERBOARD
John Cassidy | The New Yorker
In recognition of the dangers inherent in the consolidation of mainstream corporate media The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel (formerly a newspaper) advances awareness of important ignored news and opinion.
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