Category Archives: Healthcare

Who Needs Washington?

On healthcare and climate change, governors step in where Congress can’t – or won’t.
By Susan Milligan – Congress may be unable or unwilling to pass major legislation.

Governors and states, lauded as laboratories of democracy at best and recalcitrant junior players at worst, are stepping up to fill the power void.

And while governors are more empowered to stop federal policies or legislation than to force their enactment, the state players can have a great deal of influence over how the whole nation – and not just their constituencies – live, experts say.

On climate change, too, governors in both parties are implementing environmental policies Trump has rejected as too onerous on business.

The sheer size and economic influence of states can push national policy and trends as well. Texas, with its big buying power in school textbooks, has an outsized influence on details such as questioning evolution in science textbooks.

And while California’s greenhouse emissions standard might not be much liked by industry, which one would refuse to do business with the Golden State, which has the sixth-biggest economy in the world? And when states can’t stop Washington from passing policies, they can slow-walk their implementation or scream so loudly Washington is forced to regroup. more> https://goo.gl/zU7ruc

David Brooks Is Mistaken: The Economy Is Broken

By Steve Denning – Brooks concludes blithely that “the market is working more or less as it’s supposed to.” It is therefore wrong to conclude that the U.S. economy has “structural flaws.” That is “a story that is fundamentally untrue.”

The difficulty with the argument, as Brooks well knows, is that one or two good years don’t make an era. Two years of income growth don’t undo the trauma flowing from 50 years of wage stagnation, much less lead to the conclusion that there are “no structural flaws” in the economy.

The brute fact remains that median salaries have stagnated for some 50 years. That’s the real problem of the U.S. economy that economists ought to be talking about.

When moderates deny the obvious, the disaffected inevitably turn elsewhere.

If moderates want to be listened to, they will need to take a harder look at what is going on, come up with coherent explanations for what has gone wrong, and offer plausible remedial action. more> https://goo.gl/zuoJbQ

Updates from Georgia Tech

You and Some ‘Cavemen’ Get a Genetic Health Check
By Ben Brumfield – Heart problems were much more common in the genes of our ancient ancestors than in ours today, according to a new study by geneticists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who computationally compared genetic disease factors in modern humans with those of people through the millennia.

Overall, the news from the study is good. Evolution appears, through the ages, to have weeded out genetic influences that promote disease, while promulgating influences that protect from disease.

But for us modern folks, there’s also a hint of bad news. That generally healthy trend might have reversed in the last 500 to 1,000 years, meaning that, with the exception of cardiovascular ailments, disease risks found in our genes may be on the rise. For mental health, our genetic underpinnings look especially worse than those of our ancient forebears. more> https://goo.gl/txQhqU

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The Political Fabric Unravels: Diagnosing The Current Crisis

By Steve Denning – Perhaps not many expected to see the day when an American president would from the Oval Office be issuing a threat of nuclear war, advocating the commission of a war crime, thanking a chief adversary for expelling our diplomats, despising the international fight again climate change, delivering multiple false or misleading statements on a daily basis, systematically vilifying the media and demeaning the freedom of the press, fomenting gender discrimination, picking fights with the leadership of his own party, and defending as ‘fine people’ those who march with neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

What is striking to the mainstream media is that more than 70% of Republicans still support the president—despite everything he has said and done.

The continuing Republican support of the current president—despite everything—reflects a deeper and more pervasive level of personal desperation than the mainstream media generally recognizes. There is a lack of hope that things will ever get any better. Those negatively affected by economic setbacks become willing to go along with almost anything in order to get change.

As previously accepted norms and values are disregarded and undermined, the political fabric of the nation is at risk of unraveling. more> https://goo.gl/hcTZ3H

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

By Robin Wright – The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, St. Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy?

The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse.

Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Keith Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes. more> https://goo.gl/W6awUm

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Why Is Donald Trump Still So Horribly Witless About the World?

By Robin Wright – “The President has little understanding of the context”—of what’s happening in the world—“and even less interest in hearing the people who want to deliver it,” Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general and former director of both the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, told me.

“He’s impatient, decision-oriented, and prone to action. It’s all about the present tense. When he asks, ‘What the hell’s going on in Iraq?’ people around him have learned not to say, ‘Well, in 632 . . . ’ ” (That was the year when the Prophet Muhammad died, prompting the beginning of the Sunni-Shiite split.)

Trump’s policy mistakes, large and small, are taking a toll. “American leadership in the world—how do I phrase this, it’s so obvious, but apparently not to him—is critical to our success, and it depends eighty per cent on the credibility of the President’s word,” John McLaughlin, who worked at the C.I.A. under seven Presidents, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, and ended up as the intelligence agency’s acting director, told me.

“Trump thinks having a piece of chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago bought him a relationship with Xi Jinping. He came in as the least prepared President we’ve had on foreign policy,” McLaughlin added. “Our leadership in the world is slipping away. It’s slipping through our hands.” more> https://goo.gl/Nza7eC

Five Things to Know About the Latest Gene Editing Breakthrough

By Ben Panko – In this study, scientists worked with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system, which is kind of like cut and paste on for genes. It’s based on a naturally occurring immune system found in many bacteria species in which the microbes keep a “hit list” of virus DNA in their genomes so they can recognize future dangerous intruders.

If any of that DNA is present, the bacteria deploys enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which precisely and efficiently snip out that DNA.

This research was notable for its use of viable embryos, or embryos that could likely develop into a baby if allowed to grow, reports Dina Fine Moran for Scientific American.

This is the first time this has ever happened on U.S. soil, but scientists in China have already been pushing the envelope for years. more> https://goo.gl/oxtpXQ

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Updates from GE

Three Reasons Why You Should Invest In Smart Cities Now
By Gary Shapiro – Smart cities are the urban landscapes of the future. Powered by the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities collect data on a variety of factors – from pollution to traffic – and employ that data to make cities safer and more sustainable.

By 2050, the majority of the world will be living in cities – now is the time to lay the groundwork for smart building and infrastructure.

City rules shape how energy is used and how buildings are designed. As digital infrastructure evolves, the rules that govern it will become only more complex.

It’s no secret that drawing the best and brightest to a company isn’t just a matter of compensation. The workers who will add the most value over the longer term want to live and work in places that offer them affordable, sustainable housing, timely and safe transportation and a clean and pleasant atmosphere. more> https://goo.gl/AkbCZE

The Battle for the Judiciary

By Joseph P. Williams – Besides depriving the president Obama of an opportunity to shape the lower courts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s gambit denied Obama his right to create, among other things, a left-leaning feeder system for future Supreme Court nominees. The blockade seemed to pay big dividends: When President Donald Trump won the White House, he inherited more than 100 judicial vacancies McConnell forced Obama to leave behind.

The GOP’s well-laid plans to move the federal courts to the right, however, has been ambushed by the Democrats’ counterattack.

Using the political equivalent of guerrilla warfare – insisting on following arcane legislative rules, withholding approval of home-state nominees and generally throwing sand in the Senate machinery – the minority party has ground Republicans’ judicial agenda to a halt.

Those tactics have kept Trump and his Senate allies from addressing a judicial system with so many vacancies that legal experts on both sides have called it a crisis.

Nan Aron says she believes the debate over healthcare – and the fact that some Republican senators allied with Democrats to fight off the GOP’s attempts to repeal a popular government program – could become a watershed moment in the fight over Trump’s nominees.

“It’s important to note that the political winds are shifting,” Caroline Fredrickson says. “That, with Trump’s poll numbers continuing to decline, greater numbers of individuals will want the courts to stand as a check on his excesses. The more people come to understand what courts and judges do, we believe, the more they will begin to weigh in on judgeships” and pressure Republicans. more> https://goo.gl/JTRoqY

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Updates from GE

CEO Transition: How Jeff Immelt Reinvented GE
By Dorothy Pomerantz & Matthew Van Dusen – It started with a simple conversation in 2009. GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt was at the company’s Global Research headquarters in Niskayuna, New York, chatting with scientists about embedding sensors in jet engines. When jet engines run, they don’t only power planes — they generate trillions of bytes of data that can provide an enormously valuable window into their inner workings. The insights could allow GE to optimize the machines’ operations and even lead to better engines in the future. But what was the company doing with that data?

Soon after that fateful conversation, Immelt set GE on a path to becoming a new kind of enterprise: a digital industrial company that could unlock productivity from connected machines.

The company Immelt is handing over to his successor, John Flannery, is greatly changed from the one he inherited. Immelt transformed the company by spinning off its real estate, financial services and media divisions, including its stake in NBCUniversal, for tens of billions of dollars.

The moves stabilized GE after the 2008 financial crisis. Immelt then strengthened the core of GE by focusing on power infrastructure, buying the energy assets of the leading power company Alstom in 2015 and merging GE Oil & Gas with Baker Hughes in 2016 to create the world’s largest energy services business. “His enduring legacy is the portfolio transformation,” John Rice says.

Under Immelt, GE also took stands on issues that were important to customers. The company’s Ecomagination initiative helped moved the environment to the top of the corporate agenda. more> https://goo.gl/kdzfHM