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Established 1973 — Last updated: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 11:23 AM
Policy, Practice & Analysis
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.

US president and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi expected to roll out a raft of clean energy initiatives for India’s polluted cities, with a post-2020 climate deal also high on Obama’s agenda
Pollution is bad in India.
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian

Chinese director Jia Zhangke has a history of making films with a social message and has previously been censored by the Chinese government for his work. He was nominated for a Palme d'Or in 2013 at Cannes and won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2006 for past work. In this film he tackles the air quality crisis which has seen particulate pollution at levels 20 times WHO safety limits in Beijing and other cities. "The one thing that fascinated and shocked me the most was the fact that even on smoggy days, people still lived their lives as usual," he said of the new short, made for Greenpeace

Jia Zhangke | The Guardian
Symbolic clock is now at three minutes to apocalypse, the darkest hour for humanity since the cold war
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
NOAA once again has to rescale its ocean heat chart to capture 2014 ocean warming
John Abraham | The Guardian
Dragonskolan school in Sweden’s far north attempts to raise children’s performance through use of intense electric lights [Full-spectrum CFL bulbs are becoming cheaper and give you vitamin D and a tan too...]
David Crouch | 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.
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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Prompted by an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, Sen. Charles Grassley asks a Missouri nonprofit hospital to explain why it seizes the wages of thousands of its patients.
Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Chris Arnold, NPR | Pro Publica

A couple of little-noticed legislative tweaks to a small, obscure loan repayment program — revisions made under two very different presidents — appear to have created the conditions for far-reaching changes in how a college education is bought and paid for. The result may make it much easier for students to get out from under their debts.

Kevin Carey | The New York Times
Simon says the Republican Party’s clown car has become a clown van.

With nearly two dozen possible presidential candidates, the GOP is having a seriousness deficit. There can’t possibly be that many people who are real candidates. But they can ride in the clown car from event to event, and nobody can stop them.

ROGER SIMON | Politico
Alternative business models such as worker-owned co-ops are gaining ground, proving that a more just and sustainable future is possible

Six years ago, the global economy nearly collapsed. Now big corporations and the wealthy are recovering well. But that’s not the case for the vast majority of Americans: according to calculations by author Les Leopold, the richest 7% gained $5.6tn net assets from 2009 to 2011, while the remaining 93% lost a combined total of $669bn.

Americans are not content with this state of affairs. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center (pdf), 62% believe the dominant economic system favors the powerful, while 78% believe too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few large companies.

Here are six big shifts:

Sarah van Gelder | The Guardian
‘Forcible rape’, ‘legitimate rape’ or ‘reported rape’: anti-abortion politicians remain anti-woman, and no female conservative is going to change that
Jessica Valenti | The Guardian
The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.
James Fallows | The Atlantic
When the president’s annual speech gives you nothing to go on, you have to rely on all the old standards to juice the crowd
Jeb Lund | The Guardian
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Letters to the Editor
Readers | Ongoing

City planners who have made some of the world’s most dangerous urban areas safer must share lessons with those where ‘anarchy rules’, says a leading expert
John Vidal | The Guardian
INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’
Nafeez Ahmed | Medium
Citizen-run health clinics, food centres, kitchens and legal aid hubs have sprung up to fill the gaps left by austerity – and now look set to play a bigger role under a Syriza government
Jon Henley | The Guardian
Boehner’s invitation sparked controversy despite White House growing more confident it can withstand efforts to frustrate its policy of nuclear talks with Iran [Republicans behaving like a government in exile]
Dan Roberts and Amanda Holpuch | The Guardian
The poorer parents are, the less they talk with their children—harming their children’s vocabulary and IQ. The mayor of Providence is trying to close the “word gap.”
“Families that talk a lot also talk about more different things. They use more grammatical variety in their sentences and more sophisticated vocabulary, and produce more utterances in connected chains. Such parents don’t just say, ‘That’s a teapot.’ They say, ‘Oh, look, a teapot! Let’s have a tea party! There’s Raggedy Ann—do you think she wants to come to our tea party? Does she like sugar in her tea?’ ”
Catherine Snow,
a professor at Harvard’s
Graduate School of Education
The Clint Eastwood film suggests Chris Kyle was haunted by his actions in Iraq. The truth is more unsettling
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee writes to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood requesting action as threat complaints triple
Nicky Woolf | The Guardian
The US government’s demands for the private emails of WikiLeaks staffers is outrageous. Disliking Julian Assange is a disgraceful reason anyone to stay silent
Trevor Timm | The Guardian
Obama hailed the benefits of an open Internet in his State of the Union address. Here’s what it is and how he’s trying to make it happen.
Leticia Miranda | Pro Publica
The iconoclast from Vermont plans to use his place as opposition leader on the Senate Budget Committee in a whole new way.

While centrist Democrats have expressed displeasure with progressives' forceful defense of regulations included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Sanders plans on pushing the boundaries of the debate in [that] direction. This potentially puts Sanders, who is seriously considering a run for the White House, in a head-on conflict with Hillary Clinton, Wall Street’s favorite presidential candidate.

ARI RABIN-HAVT | American Prospect
Mitt's not on the guest list for the billionaire brothers' donor confab this weekend. Here's why.

If Romney decides to run, he'll most certainly find himself with what could be called a "Koch problem." Comprised of some 300 well-heeled business leaders and often their spouses, the Koch donor network has become one of the most influential forces in politics today, marshaling hundreds of millions of dollars to advance free-market causes, elect Republicans, and defeat Democrats, chief among them President Obama.

Andy Kroll | Mother Jones
As the business and political elite met at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, there was much talk of rising inequality, and many references to the "wealthiest 1%". The phrase conjures up images of billionaires living on private islands - but is that who the 1% really are?
Keith Moore | BBC News
When we allocate capital to an enterprise, we must also accept a responsibility for its actions

If we want an investing model that provides sustainable returns over the long term, we cannot just think in terms of nominal returns within the context of dry financial models. We also need to think holistically in terms of our future wellbeing.

Saker Nusseibeh | The Guardian
Escalating inequality is the work of a global elite that will resist every challenge to its vested interests

The scale of the crisis has been laid out for them by the charity Oxfam. Just 80 individuals now have the same net wealth as 3.5 billion people – half the entire global population.

Seumas Milne | The Guardian
If the euro does sink toward parity with the dollar, European manufacturers will take advantage of U.S. growth, but American ones will become uncompetitive in Europe.

The phrase "currency war" is now part of the mainstream discourse, not just one of Dr. Doom Nouriel Roubini's stock scares. In Davos, Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn said this week that the world has been in a currency war since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies started pushing down the yen's rate two years ago. After that, Europeans felt the pinch and started devaluing the euro. Now the ball is in Japan's court again, and the U.S. is "just sitting here watching, being the one country whose currency is rallying because everyone else is trying to devalue." Only recently, Switzerland has joined the U.S. "We're happy to have them on that side of the ledger," Cohn said sarcastically.

Leonid Bershidsky | Bloomberg View

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.
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