China, India Reaching Climate Goals Early — Trump’s US Will Fall Short

❝ Gradual reductions in coal in China and India put the two countries on track to better their carbon emissions goals.

According to Climate Action Tracker forecasts, greenhouse gas emissions from both countries are growing more slowly than previously predicted. The difference projects roughly 2 to 3 billion tons annually by 2030.

That would be sufficient to offset the expected underperformance of the U.S. — the number two contributor to world carbon emissions, behind China and ahead of India.

❝ American President Donald Trump rolled back the country’s emission controls, putting U.S. on track to miss its Paris Pledge mark. The U.S. is now on track to emit 400 million metric tons more than previously projected by 2030…

❝ …The other two top emitters are ardently fighting climate change by cutting coal use and boosting renewables. “Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping — or even slowing — coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle…

The analysts rated both China and India’s climate plans as “medium,” but said that Trump’s planned policies could downgrade U.S. from “medium” to “inadequate.”

Like most of his projects, you can expect Trump to Fail or Go Bankrupt. Running the US government, he may succeed in doing both in record time.

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Americans Have Grown Liberal on Most Cultural Values

❝ Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date. The percentages of U.S. adults who believe birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried people, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, pornography and polygamy are morally acceptable practices have tied record highs or set new ones this year. At the same time, record lows say the death penalty and medical testing on animals are morally acceptable.

On many of these topics, public acceptance of legality – beyond morality – is even more acceptable. Another giant step. The kicker remains the current power of the gerrymander-kings, the Republican Party, whose viewpoints variously reflect the Confederacy or, say, any Pope before the 20th Century. Tom Price, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and their fellow Trumpkins will continue to try their best to outlaw contraceptives, legal weed and public schools. Along with every progressive step into reality ever accompanied by an elevted official in the last 100 years.

Obamacare Helped Cut Personal Bankruptcies in Half — Think the Republican Congress Cares?

❝ As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…they might want to keep in mind a little-known financial consequence of the ACA: Since its adoption, far fewer Americans have taken the extreme step of filing for personal bankruptcy.

Filings have dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016…Those years also represent the time frame when the ACA took effect. Although courts never ask people to declare why they’re filing, many bankruptcy and legal experts agree that medical bills had been a leading cause of personal bankruptcy before public healthcare coverage expanded under the ACA. Unlike other causes of debt, medical bills are often unexpected, involuntary, and large…


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❝ The many experts we interviewed also pointed to two other contributing factors: an improving economy and changes to bankruptcy laws in 2005 that made it more difficult and costly to file [another present from Congressional Republicans]. However, they almost all agreed that expanded health coverage played a major role in the marked, recent decline…

It’s not enough that the majority of Americans have a continuing, rising opinion of the ACA. It’s not enough that Trump voters stand to lose more than most if Congressional Republicans destroy this advance in healthcare. We already know the Tea Party dragoons and the so-called moderate leadership of Republicans inside the Washington Beltway really don’t give a damn about working class Americans, working class families. Their lifelong allegiance is solely to that fraction of 1% that actually owns our economy and its wealth.

Have a Republican Senator or Congress-critter? Call ’em up and ask what do they think about the effect Obamacare has had on personal bankruptcy? Enjoy the crap you will be fed/emailed/snail-mailed trying to make the data disappear. Fake news exists to protect incompetent politicians. Ignoring basic, solid data is just another part of their religion.

Oh, and RTFA for all the details you can stick in their ear.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Patients with Drug-Resistant Malaria Cured by Simple Plant Therapy

❝ When the standard malaria medications failed to help 18 critically ill patients, the attending physician in a Congo clinic acted under the “compassionate use” doctrine and prescribed a not-yet-approved malaria therapy made only from the dried leaves of the Artemisia annua plant. In just five days, all 18 people fully recovered. This small but stunningly successful trial offers hope to address the growing problem of drug-resistant malaria…

❝ “To our knowledge, this is the first report of dried-leaf Artemisia annua controlling ACT-resistant malaria in humans,” the authors of the Phytomedicine paper note, adding that more comprehensive clinical trials on patients with drug-resistant malaria are warranted. “Successful treatment of all 18 ACT-resistant cases suggests that DLA should be rapidly incorporated into the antimalarial regimen for Africa,” they added, “and possibly wherever else ACT resistance has emerged.”…

❝ Another advantage of DLA over conventional malaria treatments is its low cost and the relative simplicity of its manufacture, Dr, Pamela Weathers said. While the processes for manufacturing ACT is costlier and requires a higher degree of expertise, producing DLA tablets can be accomplished with simpler equipment and a modest amount of training. Growing Artemisia annua and producing and testing the tablets, Weathers noted, are ideal local business that can provide jobs in impoverished areas and greatly expand access to antimalarial therapy.

That last paragraph defines an important bit of research too often left out by the Medical Industrial complex.

Thanks, Honeyman

Happy Nations Don’t Focus on Growth


Roman Gorielov/Istockphoto

❝ The Socialist candidate for the French presidency, Benoit Hamon, says he doesn’t believe in the “myth” and “quasi-religion” of growth — it’s part of the “consumerist, productivist and materialist model” of development, he argues. That’s outside the economic mainstream, and many see those views as a symptom of the meltdown of the global left. But the recently-released Global Happiness Report 2017, produced under the auspices of the United Nations, shows that Hamon just may be ahead of the curve.

❝ Since the project’s inception five years ago, small, rich Western European nations have led the list. In this year’s ranking, compiled using the last three years of data, they make up the top six, with Norway, Denmark and Iceland leading the world. In terms of growth, these nations have long lagged behind the global level…

Meanwhile, China, which has one of the highest sustained growth rates in the world, is not progressing in terms of happiness. The happiness report contains an entire chapter on that, written by Richard Easterlin, Fei Wang and Shun Wang. They pointed out that based on previous studies, China should have seen an increase in well-being of one full point on the ten-point Cantril Scale. Instead, Chinese people are just about as happy as they were in 1990.

❝ The team of respected economists Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Layard and John Helliwell suggests six variables explain the subjective well-being levels: wealth expressed as per capita GDP, the level of social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity (the prevalence of giving to charitable causes), and perceptions of corruption…

❝ …The experience of the small European nations at the top of the table shows that once a certain level of wealth is achieved, growth isn’t as important to happiness levels. As long as per capita GDP is relatively stable, the other factors do their job, and if there’s a problem with them — for example, health care becomes less accessible or deteriorates, the social fabric starts fraying, people grow more selfish or freedom erodes — people tend to feel unhappy despite an unchanged comfort level.

The happiness-related findings are politically important. In 2015, George Ward of the London School of Economics analyzed European election data to show that subjective well-being was a stronger predictor of the vote for the incumbent government than GDP growth or the unemployment level. It’s hard for technocratic elites to acknowledge that the relative electoral success of nativist parties could be dictated by a yearning for social cohesion that they believe is undermined by immigration and globalization; it’s even harder to come up with ways of fixing the problem.

❝ Far left politicians such as Hamon at least give it a try. The French presidential candidate wants to shift the focus from growth to the social support network, primarily health care and education. He also proposes a universal basic income and a shorter workweek, made possible by higher taxes on the rich. It could help or it could backfire…

❝ …Regardless of whether their specific recipes are workable, the left-wing radicals are right in trying to shift the rich world’s policy focus. There’s plenty of wealth, that goal is already achieved. Good policy is a matter of directing it toward the determinants of happiness.

I’ll second that emotion.

A Giant Step Forward in the Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis

From Rhea Suh, President NRDC


Unless you’re a Republican, nowadays

❝ For once, I am excited to report that there is good news on the Flint water crisis front. The pipes at the heart of the disaster are going to be replaced. For the first time in the three years since this Michigan city’s water was turned to poison, Flint’s citizens have a guarantee that the resources are in place to replace its estimated 18,000 lead pipes. And for the first time, they know when the pipes will be gone.

Let’s be clear, Flint is not fixed. But things are going to get better.

❝ This did not happen because of the city, state, or federal governments that failed them. It happened because brave people in Flint stood up for their neighbors. They went to court. One of the genius parts of American environmental protections are the citizen suit provisions in our major environmental laws. When the government fails to protect its citizens, we are all empowered to go to court and force the government to do its job.

❝ That happened in Flint. After the city and state trashed the drinking water infrastructure through a series of mistakes and errors, we joined with the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays to petition the federal government to use its emergency powers to help the beleaguered city. They refused. So, along with ACLU Michigan, we sued the city and state. The Safe Drinking Water Act also has provisions for citizens to enforce drinking water rules. Though there have only been a handful of these kinds of cases filed under the act, we all thought Flint seemed like a textbook situation for this type of case…

And today, that suit comes to the end with a settlement that guarantees that in three years, the lead pipes will be replaced. It guarantees that the state kicks in $67 million to help fix the mistakes, along with tens of millions more from federal sources…

❝ …But for today, let’s just celebrate good news for Flint. A city that deserves far more of it in the years to come.

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for more details, past and present. Rhea Suh is too politely politic to trash-talk the conservatives, mostly in the Republican Party – and some Democrats deserve their share of condemnation for foot-dragging.

Too many folks hold elective office who consider budgets and balance sheets more important than the lives of the human beings they represent.

Why the women of Popular Science Mag are not working today


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❝ You may notice that our website is looking a little light today. We’d like to explain. Today is “A Day Without a Woman,” a general strike for women’s rights and equality—so many of the women of PopSci aren’t working. And that means the website is going to be pretty quiet: While we get an awful lot of emails assuming we’re a bunch of “sirs,” the majority of the staff here is female.

❝ We happen to work with men who support and promote women’s rights, but we recognize that many women aren’t as lucky. So since this is Popular Science, we’d like to leave you some information to consider during our time away from the office:

Women earn more than half of all PhDs in the U.S., but as a 2008 study found, they comprise only 45 percent of all tenure-track faculty, 31 percent of tenured staff, and 24 percent of all full professors.

Women in science and engineering are paid an average of $60,000 a year, which is $24,000 less than their male peers. This is because science is institutionally sexist. It’s built on social structures designed to give men a leg up—or, depending on your perspective, structures designed to push women down.

When gender is the only variable, institutions are more likely to give male scientists a job offer—and they pay them better, too…

Even in science-related fields, such as nursing, where women are the majority, a 2015 study in the Journal for the American Medical Association revealed that men are still paid more—to the tune of around $5,148 a year. And yes, that’s after controlling for differences in experience and education.

RTFA for more solid info on living in a nation governed by the hypocrites we elect. Nationally, statewide and locally. Which is why we never did get round to passing an equal rights amendment.

Americans elect and re-elect footdraggers from both of the parties we’re allowed who spend more time excusing discrimination – than doing anything about it.