newspaper logo
Established 1973 — Last updated: Saturday, October 22, 2016, 8:33 AM
Aggregated news for a better world
Today's posts in bigger type—>
Prior 2/3 days in little type.
Clarity requires effort
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 2013 US total per capita health care spending was $8713, $4589 more per person than in France—acclaimed as having the 'best' healthcare—and $5260 above the OECD average without better results. (Ref. 2011, 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.

From all-in on renewables to all-in on denial of evidence, contrasts abound.

"I believe in science."

With that comment, said during her acceptance speech with a bit of a bemused smile, Hillary Clinton sought to differentiate herself from Donald Trump. The Democratic presidential nominee next noted a consequence of that belief: climate change is real, and we can do something about it.

Thus far, climate science is playing an unexpectedly large role in this campaign. Three of the four candidates from significant parties—Democratic, Green, Libertarian—have indicated they accept the scientific community's conclusions on the topic. Inevitably, that acceptance leads to consequences for energy policy, so it's difficult to separate the two.

But science is playing a role in other ways, as well. Issues such as vaccines and the space program have been mentioned by the candidates. And all four candidates have felt compelled to answer 20 science policy questions posed by the Science Debate organization.

We have invited all four of these campaigns to discuss science and energy issues with Ars. As of this writing, only an advisor from the Trump campaign responded. Still, it's possible to learn a lot about the candidates' positions based on public statements and campaign material regarding a handful of high-profile scientific issues.

....When it comes to climate science and the energy policies that result, the suite of candidates offers a position for everyone. Jill Stein would have a massive and expensive effort that would see the US become the world's leader in renewable energy. Clinton would take Obama's incremental steps and keep pushing them further, leaving us in much better shape but short of a comprehensive solution. Johnson might consider pushing the market along (or he might not), hoping that industry would get the hint and solve things for us. And Trump would pretend there's nothing to see, and we should all just move along to drilling more.

JOHN TIMMER | Ars Technica
Websites pushing climate science denial are growing their audience in an era where populist rhetoric and the rejection of expertise is gaining traction

In the Trumpocene, the epoch-defining impacts of climate change are nothing more than a conspiracy. Even if these impacts are real, then they’re probably good for us.

The era is named, of course, for the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, the Republican pick for US president whose candidacy has been defined by a loose grasp of facts, jingoistic posturing, populist rhetoric, his amazing hair and his treatment of women.

So what are the things that might define the Trumpocene?

Is it the point at which large numbers of people started to reject the views of large groups of actual experts – people with university qualifications and things – in exchange for the views of anyone who agrees with them? (Brexit, anyone?)

How about that point when a critical mass of people have become convinced that they can Google their way out of the laws of physics?

Let’s go and dig for evidence of the Trumpocene...

Comment: Graham Readfearn | The Guardian

It’s possible the debate moderators don’t understand what’s at stake. It’s possible they don’t care. Or it’s possible they’re afraid that any question on the topic might seem too partisan. After all, Clinton thinks the issue is pretty serious and has a bunch of proposals around it, whereas Trump says it’s all a hoax invented by the Chinese. Under the circumstances, even a halfway intelligent question about climate policy would sound “biased.”

The national debt is a safer topic — it’s something members of both parties have been chattering about for years. And if it’s bipartisan, it must be serious. Whereas with global warming, the entire GOP has nuttily convinced itself that all the world’s climate scientists must be making things up. So, for the sake of objectivity and balance, the moderators decided to ignore the issue altogether. Nice work.

Brad Plumer | Vox
We will soon see a three-peat of record hot annual global temperatures
John Abraham | The Guardian
The European Union’s push away from fossil fuels toward renewables, along with falling costs, has seen offshore wind thrive with turbines being installed from the Irish to the Baltic Seas, reports Environment 360
Christian Schwägerl / Environment 360 | The Guardian
Some 73% of the British public polled by ComRes support onshore windfarms in contrast with government decisions to block them
Damian Carrington | The Guardian
What’s your daily plastic habit doing to the planet? Take this quiz and find out.
That's 2 seconds more than in all of 2012.
The shrinking of the country’s ice sheet is triggering feedback loops that accelerate the global crisis. The floodgates may already be open.

....The ice sheet is so big—at its center, it’s two miles high—that it creates its own weather. Its mass is so great that it deforms the earth, pushing the bedrock several thousand feet into the mantle. Its gravitational tug affects the distribution of the oceans.

In recent years, as global temperatures have risen, the ice sheet has awoken from its postglacial slumber. Melt streams like the Rio Behar have always formed on the ice; they now appear at higher and higher elevations, earlier and earlier in the spring. This year’s melt season began so freakishly early, in April, that when the data started to come in, many scientists couldn’t believe it. “I had to go check my instruments,” one told me. In 2012, melt was recorded at the very top of the ice sheet. The pace of change has surprised even the modellers. Just in the past four years, more than a trillion tons of ice have been lost. This is four hundred million Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water, or enough to fill a single pool the size of New York State to a depth of twenty-three feet.

Elizabeth Kolbert | The Guardian
Annual human and economic cost of tainted air runs to 712,000 lost lives and £364bn, finds Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Africa’s air pollution is causing more premature deaths than unsafe water or childhood malnutrition, and could develop into a health and climate crisis reminiscent of those seen in China and India, a study by a global policy forum has found.

The first major attempt to calculate both the human and financial cost of the continent’s pollution suggests dirty air could be killing 712,000 people a year prematurely, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation.

While most major environmental hazards have been improving with development gains and industrialisation, outdoor (or “ambient particulate”) air pollution from traffic, power generation and industries is increasing rapidly, especially in fast-developing countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

John Vidal | The Guardian
Chemicals found in plastic bottles, flame retardants, food cans, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides cost the US twice as much as in the EU where the toxins are regulated.

....In matters of chemical policy, the EU operates by means of the precautionary principle, in which ingredients likely to be hazardous can be removed from the market, even if full scientific evaluation hasn’t been completed. When it comes to our health, why isn’t the norm?

“Adults and children in the U.S. carry more industrial chemicals in their bodies than their European counterparts simply due to differences in chemical policies,” Joseph Allen, a public health researcher at Harvard University told Reuters.

“In the U.S. our chemical policy largely follows the approach of our legal system – ‘innocent until proven guilty,’” Allen added. “This is appropriate for criminal justice policy but has disastrous consequences for health when used for chemical policy.”

The chemicals in the study are endocrine disruptors. Found in a wide array of consumer products – think plastic bottles, flame-retardants, food cans, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides. They can interfere with the body’s hormone system and cause all kinds of deleterious developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects.

The researchers looked at blood and urine levels of endocrine disruptors in samples from participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); and then compared the American data to results from European research. In determining the dollar impact, the direct cost of treatment was considered, as well as indirect costs from of lost productivity or earnings.

Melissa Breyer | TreeHugger


....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. | 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.
Seeking oversight, civil rights protections and transparency.
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet

An outsider’s perspective can often prove to be an invaluable catalyst for self-reflection. This election season has certainly shown that we Americans need it.

Staffers from several international news organizations aimed to provide such a catalyst with a discussion of global views on the 2016 presidential race at an event Monday at the Columbia Journalism School. The journalists, whose news organizations hail from Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East, shared public opinions from their home countries and the difficulty of explaining this campaign—and Donald Trump in particular—for global audiences. The group was rounded out by an opinion writer for The New York Times, which has recently announced ambitious plans for international expansion.

Video of the full panel can be found here. CJR drew out some of the participants’ most interesting points below, edited for clarity and length.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year’s presidential and vice-presidential debates.

Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue.

But members of Washington’s media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan.

The CRFB is part of a circus of vanity projects run by former Nixon cabinet official and private equity billionaire Pete Peterson, who has been demanding cuts to programs he’s too rich to rely upon since the early 1980s.

The scaremongering about the debt masks an ideological agenda to stop any federal programs that commit the mortal sin of helping people, because the country sits on the precipice of becoming a Weimar Germany hyperinflation failed state. If rolling back those programs means preventing tax increases on rich people like Pete Peterson and his progeny, all the better.

Back on planet Earth, inflation hasn’t hit the Federal Reserve’s skinny 2 percent target in four years, and the real scandal is that America is blowing a huge opportunity to borrow at historically low interest rates and fulfill public needs. Experts across the political spectrum agree that the deficit is not a problem right now.

David Dayen | The Intercept
'There's debate, even among people who believe in radical transparency, over the proper way to handle information like this'
Nika Knight | Common Dreams
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Will 2016 Mark the Return of the Blue Dog Democrat? [Dems willing to do anything but look left for support]
Jason Kander's Senate campaign in Missouri hearkens back to the Democratic Party's recent past.
Paul Lewis, Ben Jacobs and Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
These critical contests will decide the Senate: Who are the candidates — and how do they feel about Donald Trump?
Rival candidates for the presidency, both beset by controversy, will square off in Las Vegas – their final clash before election day
Ben Jacobs and Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
'We are putting all politicians on notice: Get ready to be held accountable to our priorities and demands'
Nika Knight | Common Dreams
The day after the election, the climate movement will 'need to press harder than ever for real progress on the biggest crisis the world has ever faced.'
Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams
The U.S. has not figured out how to help people whose jobs were outsourced overseas. Can the problem be solved?

....As my colleague Derek Thompson has written, Americans are moving less than they did in the past. This coincides with the rise of an American populace discontent with the opportunities that exist where they are. Perhaps finding a way to help those who’ve lost out during the age of globalization relies less on factors outside America’s borders, and more on policies within them.

ALANA SEMUELS | The Atlantic
"Colorado can send a shot that will be heard all over the country and all over the world."
Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams
People's Action endorses candidates who "represent families in America, not America's corporate elite"
Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams
The house speaker knows that if the GOP loses seats in Congress, Bernie Sanders could become the Senate Budget Committee Chairperson.
John Nichols | Common Dreams
Bernie Sanders is the most-liked politician in the United States. What does that mean for the future of left politics here?
Matt Karp | Jacobin

Nvidia Titan processor, eight cameras and faster radar to be switched on once software catches up, allowing a trip across US ‘without touching the wheel’

The company has said its Model S and Model X electric cars are already being produced with the new system, which includes eight cameras, 12 updated sensors and radar with faster processing.

The software to go with the new hardware package was still being tested and would be installed once ready, Musk said.

Staff and agencies | The Guardian
A beginner’s guide to what will take place at the United Nations conference, and why it matters for the future of cities.

At the center of the conference is the New Urban Agenda, a 23-page document that lays the groundwork for policies and initiatives that will shape cities over the next 20 years. It lists 175 commitments and principles that reflect an ambitious vision in which cities drive sustainable development around the world and where “all persons are able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities.”


Campaigning this summer and into the fall, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that crime is plaguing American cities and what the country needs is a return to law and order — more cops, and consequently, more prosecutions. Aside from the fact that crime in most American cities remains at historic lows, voters in jurisdictions across the country seem to have something different in mind — a shift toward more progressive leadership within the criminal justice system, judging from recent district attorney elections.

In Chicago, a city Trump has repeatedly pointed to in his speeches, two-term incumbent Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez lost her March primary battle to Democratic challenger Kim Foxx. Alvarez was excoriated for her inaction in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting and has been criticized for her defiance and foot-dragging in wrongful conviction cases. “Our criminal justice system is profoundly broken,” Foxx said during a debate. And Alvarez “doesn’t even realize that it’s broken.”

In August, notorious Florida prosecutor Angela Corey — known for unsuccessfully prosecuting George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin; pursuing criminal charges against Marissa Alexander, who fired a gunshot into a wall as a warning to an abusive husband who had threatened to kill her; and prosecuting a 12-year-old as an adult, among other career lows — was toppled by an “unknown corporate lawyer” named Melissa Nelson.

These elections are part of a small but growing trend in district attorney races across the country in which voters are eschewing the traditional tough-on-crime narrative that has dominated prosecutor elections for decades in favor of more reform-minded candidates whose platforms include holding police more accountable and taking more seriously cases of wrongful conviction.

Jordan Smith | The Intercept
America is number one — in incarceration. Over the past several decades, the country has built the largest prison population in the entire world, with the second-highest prison population per capita behind the tiny African country of Seychelles. But how did it get this way? Although it may be easy to blame one specific event, the US's path to mass incarceration was decades in the making.
German Lopez | Vox
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.
The kindness of your donation would be appreciated
Subscribe for only $2.00/mo. Set low on purpose—we know we're not your main news source.

....The future is necessarily disobedient; it rarely conforms to even the most meticulous theoretical anticipations, to say nothing of our deepest desires or fears.

But one thing is clear: The future of capitalism and the future of the planet are intertwined. The health of the latter depends on our ability to dismantle the former, and on our ability to construct an alternative that radically alters our course, which is at present leading us toward catastrophe.

"One thing is clear: The future of capitalism and the future of the planet are intertwined."

Whether the path to which we are ultimately confined is one that leads to a utopian dream or a dystopian nightmare is contingent upon our ability to connect the struggles that currently occupy the left — those fighting for the right to organize are confronting, at bottom, the same forces as those working to prevent the plunder of sacred land.

There are reasons to be both hopeful and pessimistic about the prospects of these struggles.

The campaign of Bernie Sanders, and the movements that emerged before it and alongside it, revealed that there is a large base of support for social democratic changes that, if enacted, would move us in the right direction.

The obstacles, however, are immense, as is the arithmetic: As Bill McKibben has noted, "The future of humanity depends on math," and the climate math we face is "ominous."

But, as Noam Chomsky has argued, the debate over the choice between pessimism and optimism is really no debate at all.

"We have two choices," he concludes. "We can be pessimistic, give up and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice."

Jake Johnson | Common Dreams
Hint: It doesn’t involve building walls.

....So what can be done? First, we need a progressive vision of what trade deals should look like in the future. Here’s one: At this point in globalization’s spread, these deals are less about direct trading between countries and far more about the regulations that govern multinational corporations as they expand across the globe. We should be sure that trade deals don’t interfere with any country’s ability to regulate corporate behavior. So-called “investor-state dispute settlements” do just that, by allowing companies to sue countries over their domestic regulations in opaque international tribunals. We also shouldn’t use trade deals to allow sectors like the pharmaceutical industry to push regulations friendly to them into developing nations. The labor movement must be strong internationally to avoid a global race to the bottom, so any progressive trade deal should boost workers’ power in other countries. And within these deals, we need mechanisms to prevent other countries from manipulating their currency, which China did to its great benefit during the 2000s.

Second, we will likely have a trade deficit no matter what we do, because US debt is valuable to many countries as a means of payment and as a protection against financial collapse. If we were to resist that exchange, as Trump suggests, we would destabilize foreign economies and disrupt our own as well. As the economist J.W. Mason notes, we should be focused on channeling this foreign capital into productive investment at home, including job-creating infrastructure that can boost growth. A Green Keynesianism could use the trade deficit to combat global warming while creating good jobs for workers — a win for everyone across the globe.

MIKE KONCZAL / The Nation. | Moyers & company

School districts are notoriously short of funding – so short that some California districts have succumbed to Capital Appreciation Bonds that will cost taxpayers as much is 10 to 15 times principal by the time they are paid off. By comparison, California’s Prop. 51, the school bond proposal currently on the ballot, looks like a good deal. It would allow the state to borrow an additional $9 billion for educational purposes by selling general obligation bonds to investors at an assumed interest rate of 5%, with the bonds issued over a five-year period and repaid over 30 years. $9 billion x 5% x 35 equals $15.75 billion in interest – nearly twice principal, but not too bad compared to the Capital Appreciation Bond figures.

However, there is a much cheaper way to fund this $9 billion school debt. By borrowing from its own state-chartered, state-owned bank, the state could save over $10 billion – on a $9 billion loan. Here is how.



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.
We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.
Copyright © 2016 The Baltimore Chronicle and the SENTINEL. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.