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Californias Democrats Are Ready for Political War

The Republicans are about to control Congress and the presidency for the first time in a decade, and they have an ambitious agenda. Theyve promised to undo Obamacare, deport undocumented immigrants, and roll back environmental regulations. The Democrats who run the state government in California arent happy. Immediately after the election, state Senate President Kevin de Len and his Assembly counterpart, Anthony Rendon, both Latinos from Southern California, sent out a scathing statement in English and Spanish assuring all 39 million Californians that they were ready for political war. Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California, they wrote. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

Democrats have dominated all branches of Californias government since 2011, when Jerry Brown succeeded Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. With the largest economy in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world, the state enjoys greater independence from Washington than most. It was the first state to adopt its own vehicle emissions standards, in 2002. In 2012, California created the only state-level cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions after Republicans in Congress rejected a national model. California, which has more undocumented immigrants than any other state, offers them drivers licenses as well as financial aid for college. It has imposed some of the countrys strictest background checks on firearms purchases. Its one of three states to provide paid family and medical leave and one of five that require employers to offer paid sick leave. This is unlike anything weve seen in modern political history, says de Len. Were going to do everything in our power to protect our people and our values as Californians.

Hillary Clinton won more than 61 percent of the states vote, a higher share than President Obama won in 2012. Voters approved ballot measures decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, restricting ammunition purchases, and increasing taxes on the rich. The national election triggered a resurgence of California secession fantasies, this time under the hashtag #Calexita reference to Brexit, Britains vote to leave the European Union.

State Democrats say theres plenty they can do short of leaving the U.S. California has long been a net contributor to Washingtons coffers, receiving an estimated 78 in federal spending in return for every dollar it sends, according to a study by the Washington-based Tax Foundation, a nonprofit think tank that provides analysis of federal and state tax policies. That gives state leaders potential leverage when it comes to complying with policies it doesnt like, starting with the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

From January 2014 to September 2015, California released immigrants considered deportable under federal law in more than 11,000 instances, rather than keeping them in custody for federal agents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained by the Texas Tribune. The next state on the list, New York, released people in fewer than 2,000 cases.

On Nov. 14, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said he wont reverse long-standing department policy blocking officers from doing immigration enforcement, despite Donald Trumps threats to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, which offer residents protection from federal agents. We are not going to work with Homeland Security on deportation efforts, Beck said. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has also publicly affirmed his commitment to remaining a sanctuary city, and his office has begun drawing up contingency plans for dealing with a loss of federal funding, says City Controller Ben Rosenfield.

One of the biggest points of contention between Sacramento and Trumps Washington will be climate change. The incoming president has called global warming a hoax created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive. Hes also pledged to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first legally binding global deal to reduce carbon emissions, and to shred Obamas Clean Power Plan, which sought to control emissions from power plants.

Governor Brown has devoted himself to strengthening Californias carbon pollution rules, already the nations toughest. We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our timedevastating climate change, Brown said in a statement that also referred to finding common ground with Trump and the GOP where possible. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says cities should be willing to uphold the Paris commitments at the local level. You have 70 percent of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions coming from cities, she says. If all mayors agree to take action, we can actually render federal action irrelevant.

Californias Democrats are also exploring ways to ensure continued access to health care. The Affordable Care Act guarantees federal subsidies for 90 percent of the 1.4 million residents insured by Covered California, the statewide health exchange, and about 5.5 million more Californians now have insurance via the Medicaid expansion made possible by the 2010 law. A repeal, as Trump and Republicans have pledged, would cost the state more than $15 billion in federal subsidies a year, according to the nonprofit Urban Institute. In theory, California could implement its own universal health-care program, says Californias insurance commissioner, Dave Jonesthough doing so, he warns, would require significant state tax increases.

One area where Trump may be able to override state objections is his plan for a border wall, although much of Californias border with Mexico is already lined with high fences and motion sensors. Yet there are plenty of policies that Trump wont be able to disrupt. Take abortion rights: If Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, were to be scrapped by a new court majority, the issue would revert to states. California leaders have taken steps to expand access to the procedure, and could make the state a haven for women seeking abortions if Roe were to fall. And some ideas that Trump has endorsed, like stop-and-frisk law enforcement policies, are determined at the local level, not by Congress. Says Mayor Schaaf: I think it is wise to not react too much to things that have not yet occurred, but rather to be prepared and strengthened in the event that they do.

The bottom line: More than 61 percent of Californians voted for Clinton, and state Democrats say theyll block Trumps policies.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-18/california-s-democrats-are-ready-for-political-war

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America Is Not the Greatest Country on Earth. Its No. 28

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Every study ranking nations by health or living standards invariably offers Scandinavian social democracies a chance to show their quiet dominance. A new analysis published this weekperhaps the most comprehensive everis no different. But what it does reveal are the broad shortcomings of sustainable development efforts, the new shorthand for not killing ourselves or the planet, as well as the specific afflictions of a certain North American country. 

Iceland and Sweden share the top slot with Singapore as world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations, according to a report published in the Lancet. Using the UNs sustainable development goals as guideposts, which measure the obvious (poverty, clean water, education) and less obvious (societal inequality, industry innovation), more than 1,870 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health.

The massive study emerged from a decadelong collaboration focused on the worldwide distribution of disease. About a year and a half ago, the researchers involved decided their data might help measure progress on what may be the single most ambitious undertaking humans have ever committed themselves to: survival. In doing so, they came up with some disturbing findings, including that the country with the biggest economy (not to mention, if were talking about health, multibillion-dollar health-food and fitness industries) ranks No. 28 overall, between Japan and Estonia.

Eradicating disease and raising living standards are lofty goals that have attracted some of the biggest names to philanthropy. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, his wife and a pediatrician, on Wednesday pledged $3 billion toward the effort. The new study itself was funded by (but received no input from) the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) themselves are a successor to the Millennium Development Goals, a UN initiative that from 2000 to 2015 lifted a billion people out of extreme poverty, halved the mortality of children younger than five years old, and raised by about 60 percent the number of births attended to by a skilled health worker

The research team scrubbed data obtained on dozens of topics from all over the world. For example, to make sure they had adequate data on vaccine coverage for each region, they looked at public surveys, records of pharmaceutical manufacturers, and administrative records of inoculations. We dont necessarily believe what everybody says, says Christopher Murray, global heath professor at the University of Washington and a lead author of the study. There are so many ways they can miss people or be biased. 

The U.S. scores its highest marks in water, sanitation, and child development. Thats the upside. Unsurprisingly, interpersonal violence (think gun crime) takes a heavy toll on Americas overall ranking. Response to natural disasters, HIV, suicide, obesity, and alcohol abuse all require attention in the U.S. 

QuickTake How Half the World Got So Big

Also noteworthy are basic public health metrics that America. doesnt perform as well on as other developed countries. The U.S. is No. 64 in the rate of mothers dying for every 100,000 births, and No. 40 when it comes to the rate children under age five die.

The U.S. isnt doing as well as it perhaps should compared with some countries in Western Europe, Murray said.

In all regions of the world and across the economic development spectrum, the problem of overweight children has grown worse, the study shows. 

The authors lauded five countries in particular, one from each quintile, for their prominent gains:

  • Timor-Leste rebuilt its health service since 2000 after years of war. 
  • Tajikistan reformed its health system in the late 1990s and is winning a battle against malaria.
  • Colombia’s health insurance program reaches more people than ever and covers more scenarios, including cancer.
  • Taiwan enacted road-safety laws that reduced auto-related deaths there.
  • Iceland, which barely edges out Singapore and Sweden for the No. 1 spot, is credited for aggressive anti-tobacco policies and its publicly funded universal health-care system. 

The research group allowed organizers to harness peoples knowledge and expertise, local data sources, and quirky knowledge that only somebody locally may know, said Murray. But the UN goals were a tough starting point, given their nebulous categories and confusing terminology. The whole system has the intuitive clarity of Britain’s pre-1971 monetary system, with its pound (or quid), shilling (or bob),  pence, half-crown, and farthing. Economist William Easterly of New York University has ridiculed the SDGs as senseless, dreamy, garbled. But making fun of international bureaucratese is as easy as measuring progress toward the UN goals is hard. And thats exactly what the new Lancet enterprise doescombing the world of public-health research to measure where each nation succeeds, or needs work. 

The voluminous work that went into the paper may make measuring the UN goals on health seem even more daunting: The researchers were able so far to evaluate just 70 percent of the health-related indicators called for by the UN.

It may not be pretty, but we have no chance of success if we cant agree on whats critical, said Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

–With assistance from Hayley Warren in London.

Watch Next: Zuckerberg, Chan Pledging $3 Billion to Cure Disease 

Zuckerberg, Chan Pledging $3 Billion to Cure Disease

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-09-22/america-is-not-the-greatest-country-on-earth-it-s-no-28

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Californias Democrats Are Ready for Political War

The Republicans are about to control Congress and the presidency for the first time in a decade, and they have an ambitious agenda. Theyve promised to undo Obamacare, deport undocumented immigrants, and roll back environmental regulations. The Democrats who run the state government in California arent happy. Immediately after the election, state Senate President Kevin de Len and his Assembly counterpart, Anthony Rendon, both Latinos from Southern California, sent out a scathing statement in English and Spanish assuring all 39 million Californians that they were ready for political war. Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California, they wrote. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

Democrats have dominated all branches of Californias government since 2011, when Jerry Brown succeeded Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. With the largest economy in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world, the state enjoys greater independence from Washington than most. It was the first state to adopt its own vehicle emissions standards, in 2002. In 2012, California created the only state-level cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions after Republicans in Congress rejected a national model. California, which has more undocumented immigrants than any other state, offers them drivers licenses as well as financial aid for college. It has imposed some of the countrys strictest background checks on firearms purchases. Its one of three states to provide paid family and medical leave and one of five that require employers to offer paid sick leave. This is unlike anything weve seen in modern political history, says de Len. Were going to do everything in our power to protect our people and our values as Californians.

Hillary Clinton won more than 61 percent of the states vote, a higher share than President Obama won in 2012. Voters approved ballot measures decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, restricting ammunition purchases, and increasing taxes on the rich. The national election triggered a resurgence of California secession fantasies, this time under the hashtag #Calexita reference to Brexit, Britains vote to leave the European Union.

State Democrats say theres plenty they can do short of leaving the U.S. California has long been a net contributor to Washingtons coffers, receiving an estimated 78 in federal spending in return for every dollar it sends, according to a study by the Washington-based Tax Foundation, a nonprofit think tank that provides analysis of federal and state tax policies. That gives state leaders potential leverage when it comes to complying with policies it doesnt like, starting with the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

From January 2014 to September 2015, California released immigrants considered deportable under federal law in more than 11,000 instances, rather than keeping them in custody for federal agents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained by the Texas Tribune. The next state on the list, New York, released people in fewer than 2,000 cases.

On Nov. 14, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said he wont reverse long-standing department policy blocking officers from doing immigration enforcement, despite Donald Trumps threats to cut federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, which offer residents protection from federal agents. We are not going to work with Homeland Security on deportation efforts, Beck said. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has also publicly affirmed his commitment to remaining a sanctuary city, and his office has begun drawing up contingency plans for dealing with a loss of federal funding, says City Controller Ben Rosenfield.

One of the biggest points of contention between Sacramento and Trumps Washington will be climate change. The incoming president has called global warming a hoax created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive. Hes also pledged to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first legally binding global deal to reduce carbon emissions, and to shred Obamas Clean Power Plan, which sought to control emissions from power plants.

Governor Brown has devoted himself to strengthening Californias carbon pollution rules, already the nations toughest. We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our timedevastating climate change, Brown said in a statement that also referred to finding common ground with Trump and the GOP where possible. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says cities should be willing to uphold the Paris commitments at the local level. You have 70 percent of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions coming from cities, she says. If all mayors agree to take action, we can actually render federal action irrelevant.

Californias Democrats are also exploring ways to ensure continued access to health care. The Affordable Care Act guarantees federal subsidies for 90 percent of the 1.4 million residents insured by Covered California, the statewide health exchange, and about 5.5 million more Californians now have insurance via the Medicaid expansion made possible by the 2010 law. A repeal, as Trump and Republicans have pledged, would cost the state more than $15 billion in federal subsidies a year, according to the nonprofit Urban Institute. In theory, California could implement its own universal health-care program, says Californias insurance commissioner, Dave Jonesthough doing so, he warns, would require significant state tax increases.

One area where Trump may be able to override state objections is his plan for a border wall, although much of Californias border with Mexico is already lined with high fences and motion sensors. Yet there are plenty of policies that Trump wont be able to disrupt. Take abortion rights: If Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, were to be scrapped by a new court majority, the issue would revert to states. California leaders have taken steps to expand access to the procedure, and could make the state a haven for women seeking abortions if Roe were to fall. And some ideas that Trump has endorsed, like stop-and-frisk law enforcement policies, are determined at the local level, not by Congress. Says Mayor Schaaf: I think it is wise to not react too much to things that have not yet occurred, but rather to be prepared and strengthened in the event that they do.

The bottom line: More than 61 percent of Californians voted for Clinton, and state Democrats say theyll block Trumps policies.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com//news/articles/2016-11-18/california-s-democrats-are-ready-for-political-war

READ MORE