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Established 1973 — Last updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 9:15 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.

Britain’s wealthiest green energy businessman, Dale Vince, calls for ban on coal-fired power generation, scrapping VAT on electric vehicles, a ‘cow tax’ and more
Patrick Wintour | The Guardian

A paper, published in Biogeosciences, describes 100-mile-long eddies of swirling water spinning their way across the Atlantic for months at a time.

The group of researchers led by Dr Johannes Karstensen have suggested that: ‘the eddies propagate westward, at about four to five kilometres per day, from their generation region off the west African coast into the open ocean.’

SOPHIE MCINTYRE | The Independent
The Antarctic’s glaciers are in retreat, risking a catastrophic rise in sea levels. Glacier expert Andy Smith is one of the team trying to prevent a meltdown by braving this frozen wasteland
Robin McKie | The Guardian
Tesla launches a stationary battery aimed at companies with variable electricity rates and homes with solar panels.

Seeking to expand its business beyond electric vehicles, Tesla Motors will sell stationary batteries for residential, commercial, and utility use under a new brand, Tesla Energy.

Such a large investment in what is still a niche market is risky, but Tesla claims that the new factory will cut battery costs by 30 percent when it begins operations, as early as 2016. Tesla’s biggest challenge will likely be filling enough orders for the output. By 2020, the plant will be able to produce enough batteries for half a million electric vehicles per year. Last year, Tesla sold around 20,000 cars.

Phil McKenna | MIT Technology Review

With the mortality rate for black Americans about 18 percent higher than it is for white Americans, premature black deaths have affected the results of US elections, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Oxford.

The study, published in Social Science & Medicine and highlighted on Friday by the UK-based New Scientist, shows how the outcomes of elections between 1970 and 2004—including the presidential race between John Kerry and George W. Bush—might have been affected if there hadn't been such a disparity in the death rate.

[Unequal, expensive healthcare isn't a problem, it's a feature!]
Samantha Michaels | Mother Jones

The researchers "weighed" Antarctica's ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year, the researchers report in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. If stacked on the island of Manhattan, that amount of ice would be more than a mile high -- more than five times the height of the Empire State Building.

Since 2008, ice loss from West Antarctica's unstable glaciers doubled from an average annual loss of 121 billion tons of ice to twice that by 2014, the researchers found. The ice sheet on East Antarctica, the continent's much larger and overall more stable region, thickened during that same time, but only accumulated half the amount of ice lost from the west, the researchers reported.

Source: Princeton University | Science Daily

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.
The New York Times columnist believes their poverty stems from a lack of virtue.

For Brooks, the problem with poor people is that they’re immoral. It’s not because they’re structurally disadvantaged, or because their local economies have collapsed, or because jobs have been shipped overseas, or because they attended chaotic schools, or because their parents worked multiple jobs for unlivable wages, or because the material demands of existence occupy the bulk of their time. Nope, it’s because of poor “social psychology.”

That’s the kind of explanation that could only be offered by someone oblivious to his own advantages. And Brooks has been peddling it for years.

[Plutocratic priorities nurture nihilism in the ghetto]
Sean Illing | Slate
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
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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Self-described socialist and 2016 presidential candidate takes aim at influence of big money and criticises Clinton Foundation, Koch brothers and others

“For the last 30 years I’ve been standing up for the working families of this country,” he said, “and I think I’m the only candidate who’s prepared to take on the billionaire class which now controls our economy and increasingly controls the political life of this country.

“We need a political revolution in this country involving millions of people who are prepared to stand up and say enough is enough, and I want to lead that.”

Bernie Sanders    
Martin Pengelly | The Guardian
Pamela Geller is the co-founder and prolific blogger for the American Freedom Defense Initiative which rails at the ‘Islamification’ of America

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed under its other name Stop Islamization of America as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Geller is credited with helping start the Obama birther movement, after she posted a theory from a reader that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X.

Bridie Jabour | The Guardian

The Tampa Bay Times examined the effects of Florida’s 2005 law in more than 200 cases (about half of them fatal) through mid-2012. It reported that the law’s chief beneficiaries were “those with records of crime and violence.” Nearly 60 percent of those making self-defense claims when a person was killed had been arrested at least once before; a third of those had been accused of violent crimes in the past; over a third had illegally carried guns in the past or had threatened others with them.

Stand Your Ground claims succeeded 67 percent of the time, but in 79 percent of the cases, the assailant could have retreated to avoid the confrontation. In 68 percent, the person killed was unarmed.

ROBERT J. SPITZER's Op-Ed | The New York Times
Electing African-American political leaders has done little to alleviate the suffering of Black America.
The recent African-American uprisings aren’t just about police brutality.

In 1925, 18 Baltimore neighborhood associations came together to form the “Allied Civic and Protective Association” for the purpose of urging both new and existing property owners to sign restrictive covenants, which committed owners never to sell to an African American. Where neighbors jointly signed a covenant, any one of them could enforce it by asking a court to evict an African American family who purchased property in violation. Restrictive covenants were not merely private agreements between homeowners; they frequently had government sanction. In Baltimore, the city-sponsored Committee on Segregation organized neighborhood associations throughout the city that could circulate and enforce such covenants.

Metropolitan areas like Denver and New York are shunning competition and focusing on how entire regions can work together to reach economic goals.

Denver's turnaround began with a regional agreement, signed in January 1987, which laid out the region's shared economic principles. The mayors of Denver and surrounding areas still gather once a month to meet on economic plans. And, even though the original regional agreement remains voluntary, people stick to the core ideas. "It's an approach to regionalism that's about creating a culture instead of a legal structure," Clark adds. "People want to behave at the highest level of ethics, provided the guy next door does, too."

NANCY COOK | The Atlantic

Almost 6,800 people rescued off the coast of Libya on Saturday and Sunday in more than a dozen separate operations led by the Italian navy
Rosie Scammell and Alessandra Bonomolo | The Guardian
Hundreds of women and children rescued by army from Islamist fighters given sanctuary in refugee camp

Boko Haram fighters killed older boys and men in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest where many died of hunger and disease, freed captives have revealed.

Reuters | The Guardian
Danish women explain why ageing in a country that looks after its citizens is ‘like one long really fun holiday’

Sky-high taxes that make capitalists choke on their Chablis may also have the happy side effect of making Danes more content. Denmark has the lowest income inequality among all the OECD countries and studies show that living in neighbourhoods where most people earn about the same can make you happier. “You pay taxes all your life and then you get a pension that’s enough to live on – though you need savings for some of the extras,” explains Kerner, “so it’s a pretty good deal.”

Helen Russell | The Guardian
Around three-quarters of all deaths in earthquakes are due to building collapse – and poor people bear the brunt. As rescue efforts continue in Nepal, Robin Cross argues for safer, more resilient reconstruction
Robin Cross | The Guardian
Another chance to catch the most interesting, and important, articles from the previous week on MIT Technology Review.
  1. Rethinking the Manufacturing Robot
    A company that makes robots designed to work closely with humans has a new version that addresses the limitations of its first effort.
  2. Smartphone Secrets May Be Better Than a Password
    Researchers are investigating whether recalling text messages, calls, and Facebook likes could be a useful log-in strategy.
  3. The Hackers’ New Weapons: Routers and Printers
    Criminals are hijacking home and office routers and printers to help them overwhelm websites with traffic.
  4. IBM Shows Off a Quantum Computing Chip
    A new superconducting chip made by IBM demonstrates a technique crucial to the development of quantum computers.
  5. Small Display Bedevils Some Apple Watch Apps
    The 3,500 apps available for the Apple Watch show the device’s promise and pitfalls.
  6. Online Fact-Checking Tool Gets a Big Test with Nepal Earthquake
    An organization crowdsources the verification of rumors on social media in the Nepal disaster zone.
  7. A Warehouse Worker’s Best Friend—or Replacement?
    Robots that work alongside warehouse workers could make online shopping even more efficient and eventually replace human employees altogether.
Only Ed Miliband offers a vision for a fairer Britain. His party deserves to form the next government

His stand on Murdoch, his promise to freeze energy prices, his interest in small business supported by a state investment bank, his belief in a progressive capitalism that encourages long termism, invests in education and skills and reforms the financial markets is not “anti-business”. It stands for fair regulation, just taxation, strong redistribution, partnership in the EU and a vital role for a more efficient accountable state.

From the outset, Ed Miliband has staked his leadership on the bet that the crash of 2008 sounded the death-knell for the market fundamentalism that characterised the last three decades.

Progress in outlining a new capitalism has been fitful, piecemeal and cautious. But Labour’s direction of travel under Miliband is clear. Government, local and national, has a vital role in delivering the fair society.

Observer editorial | The Guardian
Malaria and other preventable diseases rife as ongoing insecurity hampers aid delivery in a country where humanitarian plight has been largely ignored
Clár Ní Chonghaile | The Guardian

A major standard-setter in the private equity industry, CEM Benchmrking, has thrown down a gauntlet to investors. It said in a recent report that it is impossible for private equity investors to know how much they are paying in private equity fees and costs. Moreover, CEM also points out that most public pension funds are not complying with government accounting standards in how they report private equity fees and costs, and that based on their benchmaring efforts with the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission and foreign investors, most public pension funds are missing at least half of the total costs.

Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism

I’ll focus this post only on governance impacts and try to make the case, that this so-called trade agreement, if passed and implemented would create profound governance changes in the United States without benefit of the constitutional amendments that would normally be required to accomplish such changes. I’ll also make the case that the governance impacts destroy national sovereignty, state sovereignty, separation of powers, and democracy.

Joe Firestone / Corrente | 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.
Testimonies of Israeli combatants about last year’s war show apparent disregard for safety of civilians

...Israeli ground troops were briefed to regard everything inside Gaza as a “threat” and they should “not spare ammo”, and that tanks fired randomly or for revenge on buildings without knowing whether they were legitimate military targets or contained civilians.

Peter Beaumont | The Guardian
“What we have seen and heard only strengthens our determination to work for peace. The situation in Gaza is intolerable. Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Jimmy Carter    
Associated Press | The Guardian
Desolation and destiny in a land in limbo

Bright blue sky spreads over buildings with big bites taken out of them. Half-eaten bedrooms and kitchens yawn open to reveal tangled wires, broken rock, and household goods: a slipper, a pack of sanitary pads, a ripped-up schoolbook. People peek over mounds of rubble from tents behind their former homes, like aliens come to settle an abandoned planet.

“Gaza is hell,” 20-year-old Ahmad told me in Shejaiya, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in Gaza City. He and his 19-year-old brother were picking over the leftovers of their home. Sometimes they sell salvaged iron and rubble for recycling; other days they search for their old photos, papers, and clothes. “Gazans have Israel on one side, Hamas on the other, and here we are just eating shit,” he said. “People are only living because they are not dying. If death was nicer, we’d go for it.”

ALICE SU | The Atlantic
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