WORLD PROBLEM: Greed destroys humanity and life on earth. SOLUTION: Make the greedy HELP life on earth. Allow tax-free income and wealth up to reasonable levels (caps), then tax excess income & wealth (above caps) @ up to a 90% tax-rate to fairly fund life remediation.
Aggregated News & Analyses
Today’s posts in bigger type.
Prior 2-3 days in smaller type.
Health Care & Environment
PROBLEMS: Corporate influence enables life-threatening pollution & highest-profit health care.
Obama's ACA didn't fix this:
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on bloated total health care spending compared with the 2016 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"
Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse
....The problem is political. A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.
The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster. Think of Donald Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires; the influence of the Koch brothers in funding rightwing organisations; the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial; or the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies. ...
Ocasio-Cortez's decision to join the protesters and march on her own House leader sets a tone of urgency and combativeness that is rare on Capitol Hill. Walking into the Cannon House Office Building, she told The Intercept something new had to be tried. "The way things are done has not been getting results. We have to try new methods," she said.
...."We don't need more investigation," declared the Justice Democrats. "We need specific plans matching the urgency and scale mandated by the U.N.'s IPCC report on catastrophic climate change."
"Nancy Pelosi is bringing a squirt gun to a wildfire," concluded the Sunrise Movement. The protest comes as firefighters are battling historic fires in California—the state Pelosi represents....
Let’s eliminate money problems from the admissions equation for qualified students.
Looking across Wyman Quad to Shriver Hall on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.CreditCreditAndrew Mangum for The New York Times
....College is a great leveler. Multiple studies have shown that students who attend selective colleges — no matter what their family’s background — have similar earnings after graduation. But too many qualified kids from low- and middle-income families are being shut out.
As a country, we can tackle this challenge and open doors of opportunity to more students by taking three basic steps:
First, we need to improve college advising so that more students from more diverse backgrounds apply to select colleges. Through a program called CollegePoint, my foundation has counseled nearly 50,000 low- and middle-income students about their options, and helped them navigate the financial aid process.
Second, we need to persuade more colleges to increase their financial aid and accept more low- and middle-income students. Through the American Talent Initiative (which my foundation created several years ago), more than 100 state and private schools have together begun admitting and graduating more of these students.
Third, we need more graduates to direct their alumni giving to financial aid. I’m increasing my personal commitment — the largest donation to a collegiate institution, I’m told. But it’s my hope that others will, too, whether the check is for $5, $50, $50,000 or more.
But these steps alone are not sufficient. Federal grants have not kept pace with rising costs, and states have slashed student aid. Private donations cannot and should not make up for the lack of government support.
Together, the federal and state governments should make a new commitment to improving access to college and reducing the often prohibitive burdens debt places on so many students and families.
There may be no better investment that we can make in the future of the American dream — and the promise of equal opportunity for all.
The coming months may be especially dangerous for America and the world. As US President Donald Trump’s political position weakens and the obstacles facing him grow, his mental instability will pose an ever-greater danger.
....The coming months may be especially dangerous for America and the world. As Trump’s political position weakens and the obstacles facing him grow, his mental instability will pose an ever-greater danger. He could explode in rage, fire Mueller, and perhaps try to launch a war or claim emergency powers in order to restore his authority. We have not yet seen Trump in full fury, but may do so soon, as his room for maneuver continues to narrow. In that case, much will depend on the performance of America’s constitutional order.
"If today's Democratic leaders won't advance policies to create a safe future for all, they should expect a new generation of candidates to stand up and take their places."
U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) watch during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
In a national strategy call with progressives nationwide on Saturday evening, a newly-elected member of Congress—and some of the top organizers who led her successful campaign and others—committed to a strategy of holding the Democratic Party's feet to the fire in order to "save the country" by rejecting the corporate-friendly politics and submission to right-wing talking points that have shackled the ability to forge bold solutions to the most pressing crises.
"I don't think people who are taking money from pharmaceutical companies should be drafting health care legislation. I don't think people who are taking money from oil and gas companies should be drafting climate legislation." —Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
"All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves," said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the representative-elect from New York, on the call organized by Justice Democrats. "I don't think people who are taking money from pharmaceutical companies should be drafting health care legislation. I don't think people who are taking money from oil and gas companies should be drafting climate legislation."
Becky Bond, a political strategist and veteran of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, applauded Justice Democrats as being" founded by some of the best strategists in the progressive movement" and said she believes "the group's young, vibrant leaders are going to recruit and usher in the next generation of diverse working-class leaders into Congress." ...
Host Steve Carell donned a bald cap to play Bezos and snark about the president.
Jeff Bezos (Steve Carell) responds to President Trump's criticisms about the locations of Amazon's new headquarters.
Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos dominated headlines this week after the company announced that it will officially open up shop in Queens, New York and Crystal City, Virginia after several weeks of speculation. Some New Yorkers protested the decision, condemning Bezos at an anti-Amazon rally in Long Island City. But Saturday Night Live took a different approach, using the opportunity to theorize as to why the company has ultimately chosen to split its second headquarters between those two specific locations — and concluding that Bezos simply wanted to troll President Donald Trump.
....Sears filed two different types of bonus plans in bankruptcy court Thursday. The first is for the top 18 "key" executives, who would collectively get as much as $2.1 million per quarter. The bonuses would only be paid in full if Sears reaches its cash-flow targets. Sears Holdings, which includes both Sears and Kmart, has been burning through cash at a rate of about $125 million a month.
A second retention bonus plan was designed to encourage 322 other unnamed executives to stay put during Sears' reorganization. They would collectively get $16.9 million a quarter, which works out to an average of about $52,000 per quarter per executive. No executive could receive more the $150,000 in bonuses for staying with the company during the bankruptcy process....
Trump on Friday: "I've been fully briefed" but Crown Prince "absolutely" not involved. CIA, via Washington Post, later on Friday: Crown Prince definitely involved. Trump on Saturday: "We haven't been briefed yet."
It's not being mean to reporters, "The biggest freedom-of-the-press issue is that Trump is working with Comcast and AT&T and Verizon to end net neutrality."
If you clicked this story, or have any desire to listen to the interview embedded within, odds are you’re a consumer of independent media. Yet even as you’re reading these words, your ability to do so in a timely manner is in grave jeopardy.
Since the repeal in June of Obama-era rules guaranteeing net neutrality, websites like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Common Dreams and more risk being pushed into an internet slow lane that could severely hamper their readership, if not drive them out of business entirely. For Jeff Cohen, editor and co-founder of the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), it may be the most urgent threat to the First Amendment no one is talking about.
“The biggest issue of freedom of the press is not that Trump is mean to reporters, as he was last week with CNN’s Jim Acosta and Yamiche Alcindor of “PBS NewsHour,” he tells Robert Scheer. “The biggest freedom-of-the-press issue is that Trump is working with Comcast and AT&T and Verizon to end net neutrality. ... Ownership of the media and the ownership of the internet, the fact that these big internet providers are [a] few giant companies that also produce content—it’s very, very dangerous.”
In the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Cohen plumbs a range of topics, including the myriad failures of our political press and the Blue Wave election that wasn’t quite, as well as the future of the progressive movement. No matter how many congressional seats it ends up flipping, he contends, the Democratic Party is unlikely to change course until it replaces its leadership: “It’s too indebted to the donor class. So they talk with mush in their mouths. ‘We should have more accessibility to affordable housing’—no! What’s popular is ‘Medicare for all.’ ”
Cohen also expounds on the larger mission of FAIR and the kind of counterweight it can provide to an increasingly monolithic media industry. “We set up FAIR because progressive points of view were excluded from mainstream media,” he says. “Typically in mainstream media ... the spectrum went from the center to the right. So I spent decades trying to get the progressive view there.”
Between the Federalist Society’s iron grip on the Supreme Court and the ever-encroaching dangers of global warming, the future—both for the country and the planet as a whole—looks impossibly bleak. Yet even in these dark, frenetic times, Cohen maintains we still have reason for optimism. “I study the polls,” he says. “And the polls show that the most progressive demographic, by age, by far, are people under 30, under 35. They’re the most anti-racist demographic, they’re the most tax-the-rich demographic, [and] they’re the most we-better-do-something-about-climate-change demographic.”
Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, Trump’s tantrums, the Times’ revelations about Facebook, and the First Lady’s campaign to get a West Wing staffer fired.
International & Futurism PROBLEMS: Capitalists, Islamists, Fascists and Mafias cause immorality, barbarity & war. SOLUTIONS: UN, InterPol and International Criminal Court must be fully enabled. FYI: All people are mixed-race
Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion[We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Protesters plan to close five main bridges across Thames over extinction crisis
Justice Matters PROBLEMS: Political Judges and States Attorneys, too little enforcement of anti-trust laws and white-collar crimes, over-prosecution of the poor OPED: Commute death sentences and allow assisted suicide.
Economics, Crony Capitalism PROBLEMS: Tariff & tax policies, banking/financial deregulation, monopoly/racketeering & antitrust dis-enforcement all help the Very Rich while harming The Public.
In 2017 the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America gave $2.5 million to America First Policies Inc. — a major dark money group supporting President Donald Trump’s political and economic agenda.
The major dark money group supporting President Donald Trump’s political and economic agenda raked in millions of dollars directly from the pharmaceutical industry’s main lobbying group — at the same time Trump backed off his position on a major drug issue and promoted a tax plan that was a windfall for the industry.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America gave $2.5 million to America First Policies in 2017, according to IRS documents. America First Policies was formed by former Trump advisers in 2017 and proudly touts itself as a pro-Trump organization. The PhRMA money represented more than 10 percent of America First Policies’ revenues in 2017, according to the group’s own IRS filings.
The IRS documents were obtained by MapLight, a nonpartisan group that tracks the influence of money in politics.
While campaigning for president, Trump pledged to take action to generally reduce drug prices and to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription medications. He then appointed a former pharmaceutical executive to run the Department of Health and Human Services, and slammed the Medicare negotiation concept after a meeting with pharmaceutical executives.
“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market,” Trump said. “That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare.”
While Trump has moved to allow limited negotiation in some parts of Medicare, he has rejected the larger policy he campaigned on, leaving it out of his prescription drug proposal released earlier this year.
Trump also passed a tax cut that benefited the pharmaceutical industry, but that has not corresponded with a drop in prescription drug prices. America First Policies launched an ad campaign to promote those tax cuts, and spent the end of the 2018 campaign promoting them. PhRMA also gave $1.5 million to the American Action Network, which aired an ad campaign in support of the tax-cut legislation.