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Established 1973 — Last updated: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 9:30 AM
 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.]
Up to a third of the population will suffer from an anxiety disorder or panic attacks at some point in their life. But what are we all so afraid of?
Rachel Cooke | The Guardian
Japan edges back towards nuclear power with vote to restart reactors
Greenpeace said Tuesday’s vote “starkly contradicts” the views of most people near the Sendai plant. “There are many significant unanswered or ignored safety questions – these must be addressed publicly and to the satisfaction of the people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by a potential restart of the Sendai reactors,” said Greenpeace Japan nuclear campaigner Ai Kashiwagi.
Justin McCurry | The Guardian
Severe winters are more likely over the next few decades due to climate change melting Arctic ice and sending freezing air south, according to new research
Damian Carrington | The Guardian
Fossil fuel companies’ profits are morally illegitimate. The public has the right to take those profits—to clean up their mess.
The astronomical profits these companies and their cohorts continue to earn from digging up and burning fossil fuels cannot continue to hemorrhage into private coffers. They must, instead, be harnessed to help roll out the clean technologies and infrastructure that will allow us to move beyond these dangerous energy sources, as well as to help us adapt to the heavy weather we have already locked in.
NAOMI KLEIN | In These Times

Though Canada's system is the second most expensive in the world per capita, it would save America $1.3 Trillion/yr and cover everyone
OLGA KHAZAN | The Atlantic | Ref.
The cost of cancer drugs [13:52 60 Minutes' video]
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs

Dr. Peter Bach: Medicare has to pay exactly what the drug company charges. Whatever that number is.

Lesley Stahl: Wait a minute, this is a law?

Dr. Peter Bach: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: And there's no negotiating whatsoever with Medicare?

Dr. Peter Bach: No.

[All other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug costs]
CBS News | Ref.
Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times | Ref.
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.

We’ve been featuring what we consider to be standout segments in an important Real News Network series, an extended discussion between Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on capitalism and democracy. This offering focuses on what Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” or how corporations and government are working together to keep the general public in thrall. Wolin discusses how propaganda and the suppression of critical thinking serve to a promote pro-growth, pro-business ideology which sees democracy as dispensable, and potentially an obstacle to what they consider to be progress. They also discuss how America is governed by two pro-corproate parties and how nay “popular” as in populist, candidate gets stomped on.

—Yves Smith
A history of respectability politics, from the postbellum period to today
TA-NEHISI COATES | The Atlantic
Extremist Republicans turned their government into a lab experiment of tax cuts and privatization. And now they may be losing control of one of the reddest states in the nation
Mark Binelli | RollingStone
A new band of combative conservatives is likely to win House seats next week, posing a fresh challenge for Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team as they seek to govern an expanded GOP majority next year. [Yes, it can get worse]
Ed O'Keefe | The Washington Post
“The water department is determined to solve its financial problems – and change the city’s demographics – by ejecting the poor from the grid.”

We’ve discussed the fracking bubble intermittently, particularly that many of the valuations ascribed to shale gas wells don’t reflect how short their production lives really are. This report by Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog focuses on a related result from the same set of unrealistically high production assumptions: that overall fracking output forecasts are likely to prove to be high.

—Yves Smith
Steve Horn | Naked Capitalism
Chris Christie’s Battle Against Transparency

The open records law was explicitly designed to create incentives for elected leaders to act transparently, and to punish them for violations. But Mr. Christie is using the state attorney general’s office to fight the lawsuits, causing delays and running up costs that are ultimately borne by the taxpayer, not by the governor.

LAURA R. WALKER's OPED | The New York Times
Republicans promise that if they seize the majority, they'll stop Obama—and stop the Washington gridlock. Can they really do both?
...At least in the abstract, however, there are a number of bills a Republican majority could pass that Obama would agree to sign. Obama—the real Obama, not the left-wing warrior of conservative fever dreams—loves the idea of bipartisanship and has been frustrated by a GOP he sees as unwilling to come to the table. He has agreed in principle, in the past, to ideas like the grand bargain, which his base loathes. Liberals also suspect Obama is willing to allow the Keystone pipeline, a decision on which he has delayed in the face of intense pressure from environmentalists. Most liberals contemplating a GOP Senate majority have focused their preemptive ire on the image of a vengeful McConnell threatening more brinksmanship and shutdowns. But perhaps it’s the dealmaking McConnell they should fear more.
MOLLY BALL | The Atlantic



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Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

The Rise of ISIS [53:41 video]
FRONTLINE investigates the miscalculations and mistakes behind the brutal rise of ISIS.
Pope Francis cautions against portraying God as magician, and says it is possible to believe in evolution and creation
Lizzy Davies | The Guardian
US relations with Israel have plunged to new depths of bitterness and hostility as senior officials in the Obama administration decried Binyamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit prime minister”, “coward” and a man more interested in his own political survival than peace.
Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
The Obama administration's anger is "red-hot" over Israel's settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama's understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.
U.S. officials had described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, pompous, and “Aspergery.” But this was the first time I'd heard him called “chickenshit.”
JEFFREY GOLDBERG | The Atlantic
Unicef report finds number of children entering poverty during global recession is 2.6 million greater than number lifted out of it
Harriet Sherwood | The Guardian
In an interview, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet discusses her effort to remove the last vestiges of the Pinochet dictatorship and her desire to create a better social system and import German-style vocational training to South America.
Admittedly, Stein can’t attack the “no one goes to jail” problem, since the SEC lacks prosecutorial powers. But she’s pushing the agency to use tools that it has refused to pick up that can increase the pain level at banks that have misbehaved.
Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism
Why do you never hear the most basic facts about American kids’ rising test scores? Why do you hear so little about the mammoth costs of American health care, as opposed to the cost of health care in other developed nations?

Why do you never hear about that corporate looting on MSNBC?

In our view, the liberal world is being dumbed down in ways which are likely to do it harm.

Bob Somerby | The Daily Howler
Unprofessional journalists are roasted.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Do teachers really know what students go through? To find out, one teacher followed two students for two days and was amazed at what she found. Her report is in following post.
Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post
A basic element of the American dream is equal access to education as the lubricant of social and economic mobility. But the American dream seems to have emigrated because many countries do better than the United States in educational mobility, according to the O.E.C.D. study.

As recently as 2000, the United States still ranked second in the share of the population with a college degree. Now we have dropped to fifth. Among 25-to-34-year-olds — a glimpse of how we will rank in the future — we rank 12th, while once-impoverished South Korea tops the list.

Nicholas Kristof | The New York Times

In the months after the disaster, the Red Cross touted its success in delivering food, clothes and shelter to tens of thousands of people left homeless by the storm. Gail McGovern, the Red Cross president and CEO, told NBC News two weeks after the storm: "I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation."

The truth, however, is different.

Attorneys general have become the object of pursuit by lobbyists who use campaign contributions, personal appeals and other means to sway investigations or negotiate favorable deals, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
ERIC LIPTON | The New York Times

This is a particularly important post on the state of inequality since Emanuel Saez, working with Thomas Piketty, was for over a decade tracking the rise in inequality in the US, particularly the way that the top 1% and 0.1% were pulling away from the rest of the population. Gabriel Zucman has made a recent important contribution to the analysis of wealth disparity by sizing the impact on global figures of the funds stashed in tax havens. A full 6% goes unrecorded, which by his estimates is enough to make the US less of a net debtor, Europe a net creditor, and of course, the rich in those regions even richer.

Saez and Zucman are particularly concerned that this level of wealth inequality is on its way to becoming entrenched.

—Yves Smith
Emmanuel Saez | Naked Capitalism
Erika Rawes | USA Today
In response to the 2008 credit crisis, the Bank for International Settlements (Basel III), the Dodd-Frank Act, and the Federal Reserve have limited the amount of wholesale deposits banks can borrow.

The theory is that retail deposits are less likely to flee the bank, since they come from the bank’s own loyal customers. But as observed by Warren Mosler (founder of Modern Monetary Theory and the owner of a bank himself), the premise is not only unfounded but is quite harmful as applied to smaller community banks.

Mosler’s solution is for the Fed to lend unsecured and in unlimited quantities to all member banks at its target interest rate, and for regulators to drop all requirements that a percentage of bank funding be retail deposits....

If the Fed won’t act, however, there is another possible solution – one that state and local governments can embark upon themselves. They can open their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND). These banks would have no shortage of retail deposits, since they would be the depository for the local government’s own revenues.

ELLEN BROWN | Web of Debt
It tells us what unregulated capitalism does to a society.
We seem helpless, both in the U.S. and around the world, to stop the incessant flow of wealth to an elitist group of people who are simply building on their existing riches. The increasing rate of their takeaway is the message derived from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD).
Paul Bucheit | AlterNet

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.
At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich.
ERIC LICHTBLAU | The New York Times
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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