BIGGEST PROBLEM: IT’S TIME TO SEE CLEARLY AND ACT SO OUR CHILDREN WON'T SEE ALL BEAUTIFUL LIFE DIE. SOLUTION: Make the greedy HELP life on earth. Allow tax-free income (supplemented as necessary) and wealth up to reasonable levels, then tax excess @ up to a 90% tax-rate to 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"
Human activity has created a new era yet climate change can be stopped, says naturalist
....Speaking at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the 92-year-old naturalist and broadcaster warned that human activity has taken the world into a new era, threatening to undermine civilisation.
“I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates. “I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 [year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations.” That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the “globally connected species we are today”.
That stability allowed businesses to grow, nations to co-operate and people to share ideas, Attenborough explained, before warning sombrely: “In the space of my lifetime, all that has changed....
....“We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University. “But now we recognize a second serious problem: increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”
The research provides fresh evidence of the dangers posed to vulnerable coastal places as diverse as Miami, Shanghai, Bangladesh and various Pacific islands as climate change shrinks the world’s land-based ice.
“The only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming – it’s too late for there to be no effect,” Bevis said. “This is going to cause additional sea level rise. We are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point.
“We’re going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future. Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”...
To fully and systematically address the climate/energy crisis, the plan will have to be far broader in scope than what is currently being proposed. And while we need to mobilize society as a whole with a World War II-level of effort, the reality is that there's never been a challenge like this before
Unfortunately, a few of my media colleagues appear to have caught the Warren bug yet again, but this time around she lacks the good sense to refuse to run.
Elizabeth Warren’s politics aren’t impressive, and they never have been; all she has ever leaned on is a rigid obsession with the sort of basic financial regulation that barely mitigates capitalism’s greatest crimes. She’s not charismatic and appears to have absolutely zero understanding of what voters want in a candidate, as indicated by her pre-campaign soft launch on a bit of specious family lore about Native American heritage. Literally, no one cares, and yet she keeps doubling down on it. She chokes, she flinches, she reacts every time Trump insults her, and thus the public is far more familiar with her defensive “Orange Man is Mean to Me” ethnic delusion than they are her “Accountable Capitalism Act” (really inspiring name there, Liz)....
"Improved Medicare for All has support from an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters, so why the sudden proliferation of public option proposals? We should be very skeptical of these sorts of bills."
Medicare for All supporters hold signs during an event on healthcare September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
With Medicare for All polling at an unprecedented 70 percent support among the American public and headed toward its first-ever congressional hearing, Politico on Tuesday reported that there is a growing effort among congressional Democrats—including some 2020 presidential hopefuls—to "water down" the grassroots push for a transformative single-payer program by offering up more incremental approaches to solving America's for-profit healthcare crisis.
The proposals listed above, which Politico encapsulated with the term "Medicare for More," are just a handful of ideas Democratic lawmakers have put forth as ostensibly more "pragmatic" paths to achieving a humane healthcare system.
But grassroots Medicare for All advocates and campaigners—whose voices were absent from Politico's report—strongly objected to any plan that leaves intact central elements of a status quo that has produced enormous profits for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, while leaving millions of Americans with soaring costs or entirely uninsured....
The Supreme Court may decide the fate of the citizenship question that the Trump administration wants to add to the census, and cities are bracing for chaos.
Attorneys leave the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland, after a hearing on the federal government's motion to dismiss the NAACP lawsuit over concerns about the 2020 census. Michael Kunzelman/AP
The first federal court decision about the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census did not leave much room for debate. U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman’s 277-page ruling, described as “crystal clear” and “remarkably restrained” by constitutional scholars and lawyers, outlined what Furman called a “veritable smorgasbord” of administrative law violations by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who misled Congress when he said that the Department of Justice had originally requested the citizenship question.
But this court’s decision won’t be the last word in the matter. On Tuesday, a federal court in Maryland began hearing a suit brought forward by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice that argues that Ross, President Donald Trump, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and former White House advisor Stephen Bannon conspired to deprive minorities of equal representation. That’s just one of eight pending challenges (not counting appeals) over the citizenship question.
....With the federal government stuck in shutdown mode and the central question hanging over the count lost in legal limbo, city leaders have little choice but to brace for chaos....
Students at the Capitol during the National Walkout in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2018. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images
In the middle of the George W. Bush administration, a large and persistent generation gap opened up in the American electorate. The full effects of this chasm have barely yet manifested — in part because young voters show up at the polls less reliably than old voters, and in part because the aging Republican coalition enjoys disproportionate representation in the House, Senate, and electoral college. But one of the ways it will change American politics is that it will eventually render abstract appeals to small-government conservatism obsolete.
The Pew Research Center has a new survey identifying generational changes in the electorate. It finds “post-Millennial” voters, those born after 1996, having views just as liberal as millennials. That is to say, the shift to the left among younger voters is not a bubble or a transient response to formative events (like George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or the financial crisis) but a durable change. And, as Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson has warned her party, the notion that young people normally start out liberal and move to the right is a myth.
What’s more, while the generational shift has often been framed in ethnic terms, increasing diversity is not the GOP’s only problem. Young white voters have more liberal views on social policy and the role of government than older white voters. It is not just that there are too few white voters to sustain the current Republican coalition, but the white voters that there are, aren’t conservative enough.
The UK leads the European Union in giving subsidies to fossil fuels, according to a report from the European commission. It found €12bn (£10.5bn) a year in support for fossil fuels in the UK, significantly more than the €8.3bn spent on renewable energy.
The commission report warned that the total subsidies for coal, oil and gas across the EU remained at the same level as 2008. This is despite both the EU and G20 having long pledged to phase out the subsidies, which hamper the rapid transition to clean energy needed to fight climate change.
Germany provided the biggest energy subsidies, with €27bn for renewable energy, almost three times the €9.5bn given to fossil fuels. Spain and Italy also gave more subsidies to renewable energy than fossil fuels.
But along with the UK, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland all gave more to fossil fuels. The report is based on 2016 Eurostat data, the latest available, and found that across the EU renewable energy received 45% of subsidies and fossil fuels 33%....
Our polluting behaviours are subsidised by taxes and a lowering of quality of life
Why we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground
Taxes and charges paid by transport users cover less than half the true cost. Photograph: Action Press/Rex/Shutterstock
The “polluter pays” principle feels like natural justice. We would all agree factory owners should be responsible for the pollution they cause. But this idea is less supported when we are the polluters and have to pay more.
A European commission study found our polluting behaviours are being heavily subsidised through taxes and by those whose quality of life is most affected. Taxes and charges paid by transport users cover less than half the true cost, when infrastructure and the external costs of accidents, climate change, air pollution and noise are considered.
This is a Europe-wide cost of about €1tn (£680bn) a year – about 7% of the economy. Three-quarters is due to road transport. Motorcyclists have a large impact per kilometre, mainly through accidents and noise, but pay little. Cost per kilometre by rail is high due to infrastructure costs. Despite the greater environmental cost, the lower infrastructure requirements for bus and coach travel make them the least expensive to society. The aviation industry and ship transport pay little towards their costs....
Two weeks ago the Zionist lobby targeted civil rights activist Angela Davis for her support of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS). Following lobby pressure the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama canceled its annual gala at which Davis was to receive a prestigious human rights award. This created a huge backlash. The city council of Birmingham unanimously adopted a resolution "recognizing the life work of Angela Davis". The Institute's chair, vice-chair and secretary had to resign from the board.
Following that scandal the gates of hell opened and, on Sunday, the New York Times published a column that criticized the Apartheid policy of the Zionist entity in the Middle East.
Written by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, author of The New Jim Crow, and now a regular NYT columnist, the piece reaches back to Martin Luther King. It compares MLK's courageous early opposition to the Vietnam War to today's reluctance of people who are 'progressives except for Palestine' to oppose the policies of the so called Jewish State:...
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
While attention focuses on a mafia boss on trial in Brooklyn, the billionaire heads a power elite preserving inequality in Mexico
....López Obrador’s Morena party ... won control of both houses of the Mexican Congress and of many state governorships, giving him enormous power. Yet he faces tremendous opposition as well, especially from the political and economic elite, which he calls “la mafia del poder” – the power mafia – and whose grip, he believes, must be broken if the system is to be reformed.
While every lurid revelation of the Guzmán trial has been breathlessly noted, the power of this mafia has gone largely unremarked. The group is dominated by a dozen or so oligarchs and their families, who have a lock on such key economic sectors as telecommunications, media, mining and banking. Repeated forecasts of rapid development for Mexico have come to naught due to the suffocating hold that this small circle of super-connected individuals continues to have over its economy; by eliminating competition, they can keep prices high and profits surging.
At the center of the power elite is Carlos Slim. His estimated net worth of about $60bn places him seventh on Forbes’s international rich list
At the center of the power elite is Carlos Slim. His estimated net worth of about $60bn places him seventh on Forbes’s international rich list. This one man’s wealth is equivalent to more than 5% of Mexico’s GDP. The core of his empire is América Móvil, Latin America’s largest mobile phone company; its longtime domination of Mexico’s telecommunications industry has kept the nation’s phone rates among the highest in the world, costing the economy an estimated $25bn a year.
Slim also owns nearly 17% of the New York Times, making him its largest shareholder. Like other American news organizations, the Times rarely writes about him and the ways in which he and other Mexican oligarchs have used their power to stymie the tax policies, public investments and income transfers needed to enable more Mexicans to enjoy the type of comfortable middle-class life depicted in Roma, the recent acclaimed film set in Mexico City in the early 1970s.....
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.
With our political system in lockdown and our natural world under global threat, we need to look—as some have argued for decades—"beyond capitalism"
....Neoliberalism—whereby politicians first and foremost serve corporate interests (with crumbs hopefully “trickling down” to the masses)—went into high gear 40 years ago. It was called “Thatcherism” in the UK and “Reaganomics” in the US. And neoliberalism has been the driving economic ideology ever since, with wealth and income flowing unrelentingly upward even after “the opposition” took power. In the US, we had corporate-friendly “New Democrat” Bill Clinton (NAFTA, Wall Street deregulation, welfare “reform,” mass incarceration); in the UK, they had Tony Blair and “New Labour” (so pro-corporate that Rupert Murdoch endorsed him).
Unlike past governing crises, today’s are not mere factional fights among elites, with the masses watching from the sidelines. Nowadays, the governing factions have to answer to voting blocs that are increasingly angry, intransigent and demanding. All this makes gridlock even more stubborn.
Since naked service to corporate elites and “trickle-down” promises don’t sell anymore to an insecure middle class, right-wing leaders like Trump (and Europeans being cultivated by Steve Bannon) are now “populist” and “anti-elites”—openly tapping into racism while scapegoating immigrants for society’s problems. Instead of “the magic of the free market,” they sell the magic of steel slats....