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Established 1973 — Last updated: Sunday, July 24, 2016, 11:37 AM
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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 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.

With hydrogen tipped to become an important clean energy fuel, a new process may be the solution to powering electric vehicles and heating buildings

An Australian company is using “cheap as dirt” iron ore to convert methane in natural gas into hydrogen. Importantly, their process generates near-zero emissions, as the carbon content of the gas is captured in the form of high-quality graphite.

As a clean-burning fuel, hydrogen could play a key role in future energy markets, but production methods are still too energy-intensive and costly.

Hazer Group is a Perth-based company, spun out of the University of Western Australia, which plans to halve the cost of hydrogen production. It is currently scaling-up its patented process, based on “methane cracking”.

“The chemistry is remarkably simple,” says Geoff Pocock, the managing director of the ASX-listed company, which raised A$5m at its initial public offering in September 2015. “You can think of it as a self-sequestering energy production system.”

As natural gas passes through the heated iron ore catalyst, methane in the gas breaks down into its constituent elements: hydrogen and carbon. But instead of carbon dioxide, would-be emissions are captured in the form of solid graphite.

Some of the hydrogen is used to power the system, and in the surplus “you’ve got a hydrogen source, which hasn’t got a CO2 footprint,” he says.

Myles Gough | The Guardian
As Air Resources Board meets to consider it, proposal lauded as example for EPA & other states

Sacramento, July 21 -- Today the California Air Resources Board first meets to publicly consider its proposed rule to limit methane and associated toxic pollution from oil and gas facilities. While CARB still has the opportunity to strengthen the rule in a few key ways, environmental groups from around the state and the country lauded the rule as an example to follow for other states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

 
The CARB proposal:
  • Applies to new and existing oil and gas facilities. In this way it goes beyond the recently finalized U.S. EPA rules, which only apply to new and modified facilities
  • Applies to a broad suite of on and offshore facilities including well sites, compressor stations, gas processing plants, and natural gas underground storage facilities
  • Applies to many of the leading sources of leaks and venting and requires operators to use modern leak detection and capture equipment to ensure more natural gas is routed to pipelines or used onsite rather than vented, leaked to the atmosphere, or combusted
Earthworks and methane partners | EarthWorks
"To save coral reefs, we need to reduce our overreliance on fossil fuels.... Local management alone won't cut it."
Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
Senator from Massachusetts derides congressional attempt to 'intimidate' state Attorney General Maura Healey

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) turned up the heat on ExxonMobil and its congressional accomplices on Wednesday, publicly and passionately coming to the defense of her state's attorney general, Maura Healey, in her ongoing fight to hold Big Oil accountable for climate crimes.

Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with eight environmental organizations, were issued subpoenas last week by the head of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), seeking information and documents related to their ExxonKnew investigations.

As Inside Climate News reports:

The subpoena to the nongovernmental organizations seeks documents and communications related to dealings with any attorneys general or eight advocacy organizations. It specifically seeks records "relating to the investigation, subpoenas duces tecum, or potential prosecution of companies, nonprofit organizations, scientists, or other individuals related to the issue of climate change."

Smith's subpoena to the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general demands similar information but goes deeper by seeking records related to any interaction with various federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Executive Office of the President.

The move was decried immediately as an oil-soaked "abuse of power," with green groups pointing to campaign contributions from fossil fuel corporations to members of the committee, and Healey explicitly stating she would not comply.

Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams
More than 800,000 volunteers planted saplings in public spaces in the state of Uttar Pradesh hoping to reduce greenhouse gases and reforest the countryside
Jason Daley | Smithsonian Mag.

The frigid plains of northern Siberia are becoming a hotspot for mysterious geological phenomena. Over the past couple of years, sudden craters have been exploding from the permafrost-laden ground. Last month, we reported on a giant chasm in the Sakha Republic that looms so wide and deep, locals refer to it as a “gateway to the underworld.”

Now, the frozen tundra on Siberia’s remote Belyy Island is home to the region’s newest aberration: eerie, rippling, underground bubbles.

SARAH EMERSON | Motherboard
Partnership for Responsible Growth and other groups launch campaigns to urge Republicans and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to accept climate change
Oliver Milman | The Guardian
US agencies Nasa and Noaa say last month was 0.9C hotter than the 20th century average and the hottest June since records began in 1880
Michael Slezak | The Guardian
The $650m, 96-turnbine Dundonnell project is expected to save 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year
Australian Associated Press | The Guardian

Reference:

....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.
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.
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Former Virginia governor, a moderate Democrat representing key battleground state, announced as Clinton’s VP pick ahead of party convention next week

The senator has been lieutenant governor and governor of Virginia. Since his arrival in the Senate in 2013, he has developed his résumé in foreign policy, sitting on the foreign relations and armed services committees, and repeatedly called for a formal war authorization against Isis.

Trump chose as his running mate Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and a popular figure among social conservatives. Democrats pounced on Pence as the most conservative vice-presidential pick in modern history, citing in particular his hardline stance against abortion and approval of a controversial religious freedom law last year that protected businesses from denying services to LGBT individuals.

Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
Donald Trump’s acceptance speech in Cleveland played upon the nation’s fears, leading some Republican to call it the death of the party
Dan Roberts and Ben Jacobs | The Guardian

20,000 new emails released by WikiLeaks on Friday show multiple examples of the Democratic National Committee coordinating with the Clinton campaign and major media figures to both build up Hillary Clinton and trash Bernie Sanders, all while claiming neutrality to the public. But the astonishingly deep level of collaboration and coordination has still gone unreported.

As of right now, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders have all ignored the growing controversy surrounding the leaked emails. But the contents of the emails are likely to stir up tension between rivaling factions of delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Here are nine of the most egregious examples of the DNC actively working with the media and the Clinton campaign to smear Sanders:

Tom Cahill | U.S. Uncut
"If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes."

Reporting in recent days increasingly signaled that Kaine was Clinton's top choice, but the official announcement confirmed the worst fears of progressives who warned such a pick would be taken as "a pronounced middle finger" to the millions who voted for Sanders during the primary season. At stake, many critics of the choice indicate, are pressing issues—including reproductive rights, climate change, financial regulation, and corporate-friendly trade agreements—where Kaine holds positions far to the right of where they think the party, and the country, should be headed.

Instead of courting the energized progressive base activated and inspired by Sanders, Clinton's choice was interpreted as a calculated affront to those potential voters.

Jon Queally | Common Dreams
"Is this guy running for president or dictator?" asks Bernie Sanders

A complete draft of the speech, obtained and published by Politico ahead of its delivery, follows:

By the time Trump took the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena, at about 10:20 P.M., there was little mystery about what he would say. The speech had been leaked to Politico and other news organizations hours earlier, and it made for grim reading. “Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” Trump was slated to say in his opening. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.” As a cure-all for these ills, and the many others he detailed in the draft, he was to present a simple and straightforward solution: his election to the Oval Office. “I have a message for all of you,” the text read. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

John Cassidy | The New Yorker
The Republican National Convention was a parade of fear and loathing.
DAVID CORN | Mother Jones
Several delegates to the platform drafting committee have deep financial ties to conservative industries.
BRANKO MARCETIC | Moyers & company




Police say motive of German-Iranian teenager, who is believed to have acted alone and also shot himself, is ‘completely unclear’
Police guard the Olympic Park shopping centre after the attack. Photograph: Imago / Barcroft Images
Police guard the Olympic Park shopping centre after the attack. Photograph: Imago / Barcroft Images

A teenager with German-Iranian citizenship has shot and killed nine people and wounded more than 15 at a shopping centre in Munich, in the third attack on civilians in Europe in eight days.

The 18-year-old man, who police believe acted alone, is understood to have lived in Munich for up to two years. He reportedly shouted “I am German” during the prolonged attack on Friday evening, at the end of which he killed himself.

Germany’s third largest city was forced into lockdown after the gunman opened fire on diners in a McDonald’s restaurant before moving to a nearby shopping mall.

His motive was “completely unclear”, said Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae. There was no immediate evidence of an Islamist or other terrorist motive.

Emma Graham-Harrison, Janek Schmidt, Kate Connolly, Nicky Woolf and agencies | The Guardian
To break the cycle of violence and insecurity, all Arab countries will ultimately have to step up to improve water management and protect ecosystems. Otherwise, their water woes – along with internal unrest – will only worsen.

Nowhere is freshwater scarcer than in the Arab world. The region is home to most of the world’s poorest states or territories in terms of water resources, including Bahrain, Djibouti, Gaza, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This shortage – exacerbated by exploding populations, depletion and degradation of natural ecosystems, and popular discontent – is casting a shadow over these countries’ future.

The Arab world is increasingly trapped in a vicious cycle. Environmental, demographic, and economic pressures aggravate water scarcity, and the resulting unemployment and insecurity fuels social unrest, political turmoil, and extremism. Governments respond with increased subsidies on water and other resources, deepening the environmental challenges that exacerbate scarcity and lead to unrest.

Urgent action is needed to break the cycle. For starters, countries should phase out the production of water-intensive crops. Grains, oilseeds, and beef should be imported from water-rich countries, where they can be produced more efficiently and sustainably.

For the crops that Arab countries continue to produce, the introduction of more advanced technologies and best practices from around the world could help to reduce water use. Membrane and distillation technologies can be used to purify degraded or contaminated water, reclaim wastewater, and desalinate brackish or ocean water. Highly efficient drip irrigation can boost the region’s fruit and vegetable production, without excessive water use.

Another important step would be to expand and strengthen water infrastructure to address seasonal imbalances in water availability, make distribution more efficient, and harvest rainwater, thereby opening up an additional source of supply. Jordan, with Israeli collaboration and European Union aid, is creating a Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline, a conduit that would desalinate Red Sea water, in order to provide potable water to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, and then funnel the brine to the dying Dead Sea.

Improved water management is also crucial. One way to achieve this is to price water more appropriately, which would create an incentive to prevent wastage and conserve supplies. While subsidies need not be eliminated completely, they should be targeted at smaller-scale farmers or other high-need workers and redesigned so that they, too, provide incentives for water conservation and efficiency.

Of course, wealthier, more stable countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE are better placed than conflict-torn countries like Yemen, Libya, and Iraq to address the rapidly intensifying water crisis they face.

BRAHMA CHELLANEY | Project Syndicate
In a plebiscite this year, Colombians will accept or reject a peace deal between the government and Farc guerrillas to end more than half a century of war

Like the EU referendum in Britain, it’s a risky proposition: a simple yes/no vote over a complicated deal which is broadly supported by the international community, but which provokes visceral rancour among many ordinary voters.

Most Colombians who plan to vote say they would approve the accords, but some analysts warn that widespread hostility to the Farc could lead to a surprise outcome.

In the latest Gallup poll, of the 40% of respondents who said they would definitely vote in the plebiscite, 70% said they would support the agreements between the Farc and government.

But in a separate poll by Ipsos, 84% said they believed Farc leaders should pay for their crimes in prison, although the accords reached in Havana specify that guerrillas who confess would be eligible to alternative sentences and do no jail time at all. More than 70% say the leaders should not be allowed to participate in politics, which the accords would allow.

Sibylla Brodzinsky | The Guardian
Mark Johnson and a colleague allegedly defrauded clients and ‘manipulated the foreign exchange market to benefit themselves and their bank’
“The defendants allegedly betrayed their client’s confidence, and corruptly manipulated the foreign exchange market to benefit themselves and their bank,” said the US assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell. “This case demonstrates the [US Department of Justice’s] criminal division’s commitment to hold corporate executives, including at the world’s largest and most sophisticated institutions, responsible for their crimes.”
Rupert Neate and Jill Treanor | The Guardian
It’s time to pour our creative energies into imagining a new global economy. Infinite growth is a dangerous illusion
Jason Hickel OPED | The Guardian

Listen up, because you are about to get another object lesson in how brazen the private equity industry is in defending its dubious looting, um, fee extraction practices. We will also see captured public pension funds, in this case CalSTRS, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the private equity industry and against the interests of its beneficiaries and California taxpayers.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism

As the letter below shows, eight prominent Senators cleared their throats and asked the SEC why it has yet to produce an investor bulletin on private equity, which they observe is puzzling given that the agency has uncovered plenty of gambling in Casablanca.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism

Reference:

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.
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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