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Established 1973 — Last updated: Monday, March 30, 2015, 9:30 AM
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Today's posts in bigger type––>.
Prior 2/3-days posts in small type.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
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, importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

While some water technology companies take on solving California’s drought, tech kingpins prefer to follow the money to mobile apps and internet startups
Katie Fehrenbacher | The Guardian
A global investment fund based in the Netherlands is working to limit the environmental impact of fish farming by investing in new technologies
Marc Gunther | The Guardian
In an exclusive interview, Rockefeller Brothers Fund chair, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne and president, Stephen Heintz, talk about the decision to cut ties to fossil fuels, what it meant for the divestment movement and the challenges involved
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
Nonprofits are using the state’s new stormwater requirements to sue plastic manufacturers for polluting waterways — and they’re winning
Amy Westervelt | The Guardian
The biggest fall in emissions since 1990 saw carbon dioxide output drop by almost a tenth while energy from renewable sources rose to a record high of almost 20% of electricity, government figures show
Fiona Harvey | The Guardian

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.
Reading John Bolton's dangerously casual argument for yet another war in the Middle East

Given Bolton’s record on Iraq, this recklessness is not surprising. More surprising is that the Times let him get away with it. I understand that the Times, as a left-leaning op-ed page, needs ideological diversity. But when it comes to war and peace, diversity isn’t the highest value. Honesty is.

PETER BEINART | The Atlantic

The New York Times is beloved by many liberals, but I despise them. Part of my reason is their role in making the Iraq war happen. I was following it in real time and I remember how they pushed administration lies; the headlines of their articles on Iraq were almost always alarmist and the lead paragraphs were as well. Often enough, the truth would be buried in the equivalent of paragraph twelve.

Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
The vote is a sign that the framing of the Social Security debate has changed.

While the amendment by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, did not pass—nor did scores of others proposed by Senate Democrats as the body took up the 2016 federal budget—the roll call vote is a sign that expanding Social Security, whose payments to retirees now average $1,310 a month, is ascendant and will be in play in 2016.

Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet

Midway into a three-and-a-half-hour congressional hearing this week featuring Mary Jo White, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, none of the legislators had bothered to ask if or when her agency would require that corporations disclose their political spending.

The bipartisan silence testified to the growing importance to both parties of anonymous campaign donations. With each passing year since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to secretive political giving, politicians appear to value so-called dark money more and value disclosure of unnamed donors less.

In 2012, a record $6.3 billion was spent on presidential and congressional elections; estimates for spending in the 2016 contest run between $7.5 billion and $8 billion. Much of the spending is disclosed, but the portion that is dark is certain to expand. For example, the network run by the Koch brothers — which is constructed chiefly of groups that are not required to reveal their donors — has set a spending goal of nearly $900 million for the 2016 races, compared with $400 million in 2012.


Now lawmakers have taken the budget gimmickry to a whole new level — no longer even pretending that billions of dollars in additional war spending would go to fight Islamic State militants and the Taliban.

The proposals in the House and Senate to add about $38 billion to the Obama administration’s $58 billion war spending request threatens to create an authorized “slush fund,” according to budget analysts and spending critics.

[We should be fighting the war Republicans ignore, instead.]
The boom and bust in North Dakota has trapped people there, with little hope of work or escape.

Life at the center of the country’s largest hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom has definitely changed. The jobs that brought thousands of recession?-weary employment?-seekers to this once peaceful corner of western North Dakota over the last five years have been drying up, even as the unemployed keep coming.

The men—they are all men—hanging out at the Salvation Army for coffee, bread and whatever donated goods there might be on a given day (from 9am to 3pm) have come from all over, including Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Louisiana, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. They include a number of African immigrants originally from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.

Evelyn Nieves | AlterNet

Aircraft from Saudi-led coalition attack Houthi rebel strongholds in Sana’a and as diplomats are evacuated from southern city of Aden
Agencies | The Guardian
Who’s friends with whom, in one simple diagram
KARL SHARRO | The Atlantic
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service says importing carcass will benefit conservation
  • Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 to shoot endangered species in Namibia
Associated Press | The Guardian
£35 device allows residents to listen to pop music and watch South Korean soaps, Hollywood films and outside news programmes, despite government restrictions
James Pearson | The Guardian
Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers.
Will Knight | MIT Technology Review
Intervention in Yemen, where Houthi rebels were attacked with the backing of Washington, appears at odds with support for pro-Iranian forces in Iraq
Dan Roberts and Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian
Islamic State is pulling out of once-conquered towns and villages in Iraq and dissatisfaction appears to be growing among its followers. Predictions of the jihadists' demise, however, are likely premature.
Susanne Koelbl and Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel

The US military no longer does war. It does assassinations, usually of the wrong people. The main victims of the US assassination policy are women, children, village elders, weddings, funerals, and occasionally US soldiers mistaken for Taliban by US surveillance operating with the visual acuity of the definition of legal blindness.


Agents with the US Drug Enforcement Administration stationed overseas held “sex parties” with prostitutes that were paid for by drug cartels, according to a bombshell internal report issued by the justice department on Thursday. The parties were held in residences leased by the US government, the report said.

Tom McCarthy | The Guardian
After years of being one of Europe's shakiest economies, Spain has managed to institute strict reforms and bring back economic growth. But job numbers and research funding lag behind -- and the country's greatest challenge may be a political one.
Christoph Pauly | Der Spiegel
In a country where conflict has left almost 2 million people displaced, the town of Ganyiel offers relatively safe harbour. But food is scarce and child malnutrition rates at critical levels
Antony Loewenstein | The Guardian

There is more at stake here than you might think. Warren has declared war on the Wall Street wing of the Democratic party, including the powerful network of proteges and fundraisers affiliated with former Treasury secretary, former Goldman partner, and more recently, vice chairman of Citigroup Bob Rubin. One politically-savvy financial analyst calls this cadre “the Rubino crime syndicate”.

Warren fingered Citigroup’s extensive connections to the Executive branch when she fought the addition of a rider to a must-pass spending bill that would eliminate a Dodd Frank provisions to force banks to stop trading certain derivatives in taxpayer-backstopped entities (the so-called swaps pushout rule). As you’ll see below, not only did Warren have the bad taste to point out that the current Treasury secretary is a Citigroup alum, and that Sandy Weill, Citigroup chairman, had offered Timothy Geithner the opportunity to run the bank, she also said that Dodd Frank had come up short by not forcing Citigroup’s breakup. If you’ve not seen this speech, you need to watch it. You’ll understand why Citigroup is desperate to find a way to leash and collar Warren.

....So while these fights individually may not seem consequential, recognize that cumulatively, the banks are finding they are incurring more costs in trying to get their way, and are even sometimes getting their noses bloodied. While this is still a long way from seeing big bank executives prosecuted, that diminishment of bank power isn’t going to happen overnight, but through steady, persistent pressure on their many vulnerable points.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism

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 suppressed news and opinion.
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