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Established 1973 — Last updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016, 12:17 PM
Aggregated news of who we are and might become
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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.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that EVs will capture 35 percent of the global vehicle market by 2040. But because technology is changing fast, the surprise is probably on the upside. Under a more aggressive scenario, BNEF can see a scenario in which 47 percent of all new vehicles sold in 2040 will be electric.

What are the implications of this? There will be winners and losers, BNEF says. The winners: battery manufacturers, lithium miners, and a whole supply chain of technology needed for these new vehicles, such as autonomous driving, cyber-security, and other software tech. The losers: suppliers of parts exclusive to fossil fuel vehicles, such as exhaust systems, fuel management systems, gearboxes, etc. Also, less steel will be used in EVs as companies try to reduce weight. Less maintenance also means less need for mechanics, repair shops, and dealerships. Repairs can often be done remotely using software, just as many computer fixes are conducted today.

Nick Cunningham | OilPrice
Investigation by the Guardian and 38 Degrees reveals NHS faces £20bn funding shortfall by 2020-21 if no action is taken

“These proposed cuts aren’t the fault of local NHS leaders. The health service is struggling to cope with growing black holes in NHS funding. These new revelations will be a test of Theresa May’s commitment to a fully-funded National Health Service.

Heather Stewart and Diane Taylor | The Guardian

Years of number crunching that had seemed to corroborate the climate benefits of American biofuels were starkly challenged in a science journal on Thursday, with a team of scientists using a new approach to conclude that the climate would be better off without them.

JOHN UPTON | CLIMATE CENTRAL
U.S. Judge James Boasberg said he would make a decision by September 9 on whether to halt work on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline
Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
'It is abundantly clear that fracking is harming people, and the only solution is to stop fracking'

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported their findings online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, saying their research adds to "a growing body of evidence linking the fracking industry to health problems."

The study was based on a survey of 7,785 adult primary care patients of the Geisinger Health System, a healthcare provider that covers 40 counties in north and central Pennsylvania. With the Marcellus Shale running below most of Pennsylvania, the northeastern and southwestern parts of the state have become ground zero for drilling. 

According to a press statement from Johns Hopkins, the researchers found that 1,765 respondents (23 percent) suffered from migraines; 1,930 people (25 percent) experienced severe fatigue; and 1,850 (24 percent) had current symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, defined as three or more months of nasal and sinus symptoms.

Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams

Cuomo was facing intensifying pressure to act, after a 2015 International Business Times series documented how GE and its employees had pumped more than $466,000 into groups linked to him. That was on top of the $366,000 worth of GE campaign contributions that flowed to New York’s federal lawmakers in the last three election cycles. Cuomo was offering GE economic development subsidies, yet not demanding the company remove all of the polychlorinate byphenols GE facilities had leaked into New York's largest river during the mid-20th century. Those chemicals — which are a suspected carcinogen — ended up creating one of the largest superfund sites in the United States.


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.
Oliver was targeted by privatizers after criticizing charter schools in a segment of his HBO show
Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
None of Oliver’s critics seriously refuted the crux of his argument that there might be something fundamentally wrong by design, rather than by implementation or intent, with the idea that  a “free market” of privately operated and essentially unregulated schools is a surefire way to improve education opportunities for all students. (Screenshot: YouTube/HBO)
None of Oliver’s critics seriously refuted the crux of his argument that there might be something fundamentally wrong by design, rather than by implementation or intent, with the idea that a “free market” of privately operated and essentially unregulated schools is a surefire way to improve education opportunities for all students. (Screenshot: YouTube/HBO)
Jeff Bryant | Common Dreams
Advertisers are deserting newspapers. Using the impact of television advertising on print media in 1968, this column argues that a reduction in advertising revenues will reduce the quality of newspapers. Ultimately, this may result in a less well-informed public.
Charles Angelucci and Julia Cagé | VoxEU
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY
Paul Wolfowitz says he’ll likely back Hillary Clinton, the latest neoconservative to defect to the Democrat’s camp.

....Here’s a list of some major figures and where they stand on Trump—right now. We’ll keep it updated as other important people take stances, or as these ones change their views about Trump.

DAVID A. GRAHAM | The Atlantic
'Paul LePage is an increasingly menacing figure who does not reflect the values of our state,' says chair of state Democratic Party

Maine's Donald Trump-supporting, race-baiting, Republican Governor Paul LePage has gotten into hot water—again—after leaving a state lawmaker an expletive-laced and threatening voicemail on Thursday.

In the phone message, LePage—who was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014—demands that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine "prove" that he's a racist, calls him a "son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker," and says: "I am after you."

Gattine has denied that he called the governor racist after his latest diatribe on the racial background of drug dealers in the state. LePage on Wednesday said that "90 percent of drug dealers coming into Maine are black or Hispanic."

Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams
Prison populations boost the representation of the towns where they’re located. This decreases the power of prisoners’ home communities, which need it more
Krista Brewer | The Guardian

....So that’s the tour of the alt-right given by Breitbart: Essentially, it’s racist intellectuals, natural racists, people who make racist jokes and Nazis.

Jim Naureckas | Common Dreams
Head of Republican nominee’s presidential campaign was accused of being violent with his wife 20 years ago in case that was eventually dismissed
Tom McCarthy | The Guardian
Donald Trump’s naming of a new campaign chief linked to a fiercely outspoken far-right movement is a dangerous step, Hillary Clinton is set to warn in a speech

The appointment of Breitbart Media’s executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, as Donald Trump’s campaign CEO has been greeted as a turning point in that presidential bid, and perhaps in conservative politics in America. We have been told that it “marks the official entree of the so-called ‘alt-right’ into the Republicans’ top campaign”, and that Trump’s election strategy “now resembles the alt-right dream of maximizing the white vote”. Hillary Clinton will address Trump’s alleged turn to the alt-right in a speech in Nevada this Thursday.

But what is the alt-right? It is new, difficult to pin down, and hard to understand. But it’s important to try to get a handle on who is involved, what they believe, and what their possible influence might be on the immediate future of rightwing politics.

The alt- (or alternative) right has surged as a (so far) mainly online movement, occupying positions beyond the pale of many conservatives. It has no centralised organisation or official ideology – it has been described as “scattered and ideologically diffuse”.

Jason Wilson | The Guardian
Oklahoma is one of the most food insecure states in the US, where families struggle to buy enough healthy food. Locals are trying to ease poverty with community farming, but face difficulty in a city with a complex racial history
Amy Lieberman | The Guardian




The Turkish advance into northern Syria marks a turning point in the Syrian conflict. Its nominal target was Islamic State, but with large powers reconsidering their alliances in the region, the Kurds stand to lose the most.
Maximilian Popp and Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel
A year has passed since the dramatic decision by Angela Merkel to take in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. What drove her to make the decision and what price will the country pay for it? A look back at 14 days that changed German history.
SPIEGEL Staff | Der Spiegel
"Brazil has only emerged from dictatorship some 30 years ago and these events could set back the country's progress towards social and economic inclusion by decades"
Nika Knight | Common Dreams
Scheme will look into how race might affect how people are dealt with in areas such as work, education and the NHS
Peter Walker | The Guardian
Gus O’Donnell says both public opinion and the EU itself may change, meaning the UK could be happy to remain part of union

Gus O’Donnell, who was the cabinet secretary from 2005-11, told the Times (subscription) that he anticipated the UK would retain EU laws and rules regardless of its status in the union.

The crossbench peer said: “Lots of people will say, ‘We’ve had the referendum, we’ve decided to go out, so that’s it, it’s all over’. But it very much depends what happens to public opinion and whether the EU changes before then.

“It might be that the broader, more loosely aligned group is something that the UK is happy being a member of.”

Press Association | The Guardian
Civilians are paying the price for the competing interests of parties to the conflict

Syria is racked by multiple wars in which protagonists claiming to share common goals pursue their own distinct priorities. Turkey is part of the anti-IS coalition but wants to fight Kurdish militants in Syria as it does the PKK in its own south-eastern regions. Its role has shrunk from active intervention on multiple fronts to more narrowly defending its border. Even the renewed enthusiasm for Syrian rebels is not about toppling Mr Assad, but ensuring that the Kurds do not prop him up. Russia claims its military involvement is all about combatting Isis but has done much more to ensure the survival of the Assad regime. Syrian Kurdish groups have been “recruited” by the US against Isis, but their ultimate goal is to carve out an autonomous region. Anti-Assad revolutionaries have all along wanted to get rid of a dictatorship but are increasingly associated with radical Islamist groups, largely for a desperate lack of other options. The US has prioritised bombing Isis but at the expense of forging a solution to Syria’s civil war, which has helped Isis grow. With its tanks, Turkey has played one more card in a multi-pronged war that has created immense suffering and has no end in sight.

Editorial | The Guardian
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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  • Birkenfeld's book about the UBS Swiss banking investigation, Lucifer's Banker, is published in October.

....Birkenfeld claims there was a glaring conflict of interest involving then Senator Barack Obama, which essentially placed him on the UBS payroll. He said UBS was an enthusiastic fundraiser for Obama for his 2008 election campaign and senior executives at the bank bundled campaign contributions. Bundlers are expected to raise in excess of $500,000 each for the US president's re-election effort. UBS also advised the president on investments and strategy for the country. Birkenfeld states that when he gave testimony about UBS to the Senate Committee in late 2007, Senator Obama was conspicuously absent.

Birkenfeld said: "When I went to give this information to the US Senate Committee – they provided me a subpoena to testify, as the DOJ refused to do this. At this time Senator Obama was an active member of that committee and he never showed up for any of those hearings. Not one.

"But at the same time he was taking millions of dollars from UBS in campaign contributions. That's the ultimate conflict of interest because he should have been there helping to investigate UBS on behalf of the American taxpayers, but instead he was taking money from UBS. I call it political prostitution. He is taking millions of dollars from a criminally corrupt bank in direct violation to his oath of office."

The Democratic Party is committed to bringing “an end to our broken campaign-finance system.” But until then, Team Blue is gonna smuggle as much big-donor money through the system’s gaping loopholes as it possibly can.

Eric Levitz | New York Mag.
Nobel laureate says Obama's push to get lawmakers to pass deal during lame-duck session of Congress is "absolutely wrong"
Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

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.
Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon is registered voter at vacant Florida home [how many more states is Bannon registered to vote? Absent a national voter registry, who knows?]
Exclusive: Bannon’s enrollment is apparent violation of crucial swing state’s election law requiring voters to be legal residents of county they register in
Heather Stewart and Diane Taylor | The Guardian
Plaintiffs say privately-run, publicly-funded, corporate institutions do not qualify as "free" schools and shouldn't get taxpayer money
Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams
'Gerrymandering pits political power against the people, regardless of which party holds power'
Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams
 
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