News from our other blogs and around the web on health and the environment.

Next Stop: AHIP has hopped off the healthcare bandwagon.

Let it Linger: Linger wants you to put a sugary mint into your vagina.

Insurance Double-Cross: AHIP report says premiums may go up as much as $4,000.

Come Together: GOP may be closer to agreeing with Senate climate bill than thought.

Granny Blaming: A NYT piece blames lack of insurance on money-sucking olds.

Copen-bloggin: Denmark wants to have 50% green power by 2025.

Foreign Inspiration: Climate conference-hosting Denmark finds inspiration in Obama.

Chamber of Secrets: Chamber of Commerce's climate position is increasingly outlandish.

With the Senate Finance Committee set to vote today on its long-awaited health-care bill, a number of medical experts have criticized the legislation, as well as other committees' bills, for failing to seriously address the country's health delivery system. As I recently wrote, the pitched debate over reforming healthcare has largely focused on the sexier issue of reforming insurance, i.e., creating a public option, co-ops, fine-tuning the system in place, etc. Meanwhile, our broken delivery system—in which costs soar higher, preventive care is marginalized, and doctors get paid on fee-for-service basis—continues to crumble.

Over the past couple days, doctors and policy experts have come out to urge lawmakers to tackle delivery problems before it's too late. "The discussion has gone from health care reform to insurance and payment reform," Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, recently told a reporter for The New York Times's "Prescriptions" blog. Cosgrove added, "We're not really reforming the system. We are reforming how we pay for it. It's certainly all about politics right now." In addition, four former US surgeons general released a statement on Saturday saying our "unsustainable" health-care system is in need of "reform that prioritizes prevention, preventive care and health literacy to encourage healthier lifestyles and we must also lower costs in order to make quality health care affordable for every single person who needs it."

US Soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, pay their respects during a memorial ceremony for Staff Sgt. Alex French IV at Camp Clark, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2009. French was killed in action by an improvised explosive device on Sept. 30, 2009. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez.)

Today's must-reads:

  • The Chamber of Carbon Commerce is really not that big [Mother Jones]
  • Robert Reich's bold idea: Obama should promise a stronger climate bill... and wait until after Copenhagen to push it through the Senate [TAPPED]
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs bills to establish a Harvey Milk day and acknowledge gay marriages performed in other states [SF Chronicle]
  • Goldman CEO, having profited mightily from opacity, now favors financial transparency [FT op ed]
  • Baucus' spokesman describes AHIP's predictably unfavorable audit of the reform bill as "a health insurance company hatchet job, plain and simple" [Kevin Drum]
  • More on the media's phoney "inter-generational war" in health care reform meme [MoJo]
  • The WaPo editorial page comes out in favor of the weak Patriot Act reforms
  • The naked-image security scanner: Coming soon to an airport near you? [Guardian]
  • Five ways you're being secretly monitored [Cracked]
  • People feel "anxious" when they're cut off from the Internet [Telegraph]
  • File under "Things Not Worth +$300": A blade-less fan [Wired Gadget Lab]
  • Finally, Michael Jackson's new song was actually old...and not his [Reuters]

Nick Baumann and I posts pieces like these throughout the day on twitter. You should follow him and me for more must-reads. David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman, Rachel Morris, Kate Sheppard and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

I'm confused.  This is from the LA Times last month:

U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support units and replacing them with "trigger-pullers," Defense officials say....Services performed by troops that are no longer considered crucial could be outsourced to contractors or eliminated, officials said.

And this is from the Washington Post today:

President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials. The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police...."Obama authorized the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000," said another defense official familiar with the troop-approval process.

So the Pentagon is pulling out 14,000 support troops and replacing them with combat troops, and then they're sending over 13,000 new support troops to help out all the combat troops.

That can't possibly be right, can it?  Perhaps Julian Barnes and Ann Scott Tyson could get together and write a joint story clearing this up.

Today we've got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that corporate earnings are up.  The bad news is that it's not because business is improving:

In an ominous sign for the economy, much of the profit is being eked out through cost cuts. Executives say they are hesitant to reinvest such profits into their businesses. With large portions of their factories, fleets and warehouses sitting idle, some say they probably won't see reason to do so for a year or more.

....Already, the economy is being starved of investment it needs to spark growth. Net private investment, which includes spending on everything from machine tools to new houses, minus depreciation, fell to 0.1% of gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2009, according to the latest government data. That's the lowest level since at least 1947.

And that's even with a massive stimulus, interest rates near zero, and trillions of dollars in Fed support.  Count your blessings, such as they are.

San Francisco Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle is getting hot under the collar. The Polanski-supporter published a scathing op-ed just before 10am PST on Sunday, October 11. But by early morning October 12, the article had been taken down. The reason? LaSalle got into a flamewar with his commenters and huffily announced that he was "leaving this post up for exactly five more minutes, and then I'm taking it down because I can't keep up with... the stupidity. Five more minutes, maybe I'll put it back up later..."

To be fair, the commenters were ruthless, and they had a lot of material to work with. I've read a LOT of Polanski apologism, and this was still a jaw-dropper. LaSalle wrote "celebrities get a raw deal from the law and the courts." While admitting Polanski "did a bad thing," LaSalle argues that Polanski's early trauma should "earn him some human sympathy. Just some. So why none? Why no human sympathy?" LaSalle thinks many people hate Polanski because they're jealous of his talent and pretty wife: LaSalle's readers vociferously disagreed. So he unpublished ALL their comments AND the article.

As MoJo's Kevin Drum notes, this year's Nobel Prize winners in economics, Yanks Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson, have done America proud.

But Ostrom's victory is significant in another way too: She is the first female to win the economics prize since its inception 40 years ago.

School kids, take note: Who says economics is for boys?

Update: More reason for women to celebrate—five females won Nobel Prizes this year, the most ever. The other victors were Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, physiology/medicine; Ada Yonath, chemistry; and Herta Muller, literature.

This is particularly impressive when you consider only 40 women total have ever won Nobels. And the victories are largely in the science and math fields, no less (take that, Larry Summers!) 

(H/T Corbin Hiar)

Just in case anyone thought the insurance companies couldn’t sink any lower, they've made yet another sleazy move in the ongoing battle over health care reform. This morning, American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the main industry shill group, announced a new "report" warning  that the proposed reforms would raise a "typical family's" health insurance premiums by as much as $4,000 over the next ten years.

The report is a particular stab in the back to President Obama and Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus. Both have spent recent months assiduously kissing the insurers’ gold-plated butts in exchange for their "co-operation" on health care reform. The Baucus bill is already a giveaway to the health insurance industry. By requiring millions more Americans to buy private health insurance plans, it stands to shovel even more money into their coffers, while imposing little government regulation and no competition from a public plan.

But that still wasn’t enough for the insurance companies. As the Los Angeles Times reports, health insurers have concluded that Baucus bill doesn’t do enough "to draw young, healthy people into the insurance pool. Industry analysts predict that by postponing and reducing penalties on those who fail to buy health insurance, it would attract less-healthy patients who would drive up costs." In other words, some of the new policy-holders might actually require insurance companies to pay for health care in exchange for their bonanza of new premiums. That, of course, might chip away at their profit margin, whch would never do—so their only option is to raise already sky-high insurance premiums even higher. Or so they say.

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon caught heat from her Republican challengers in Connecticut this weekend, a sign that she has emerged as a formidable opponent to take over embattled Sen. Chris Dodd's seat next fall. Her prominent GOP opponents, including former state Rep. Rob Simmons and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri slammed the $35,000 that McMahon and her husband Vince have donated to Democrats in recent years. A recent report by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the McMahons have given large donations to prominent Democrats, including Rahm Emanuel and Mark Warner, since 1989.

"I think it's very unusual [for a Republican to contribute to a Democrat]. These are big numbers. These are big dollars," said Simmons, the race's current front runner. But attacking McMahon's bi-partisan past is a risky move, considering that Connecticut is predominantly Democratic and many state Republicans supported democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman over his Republican opponent in 2006. Moreover, since McMahon is campaigning on an anti-establishment platform, her past contributions could be helpful if she makes it to the general election next fall.

Caligiuri took his attacks on McMahon even further, claiming that the past donations placed "expediency over principle" and indicate that she already represents what is wrong with Washington. "If McMahon is already part of the problem," he said, "it is hard to believe she can ever become part of the solution."

UPDATE: Jodi Latina, the director of new media for the McMahon campaign, posted a response to the GOP attacks on McMahon's blog Tuesday. "As is often the case when a political outsider begins shaking up the system, the career political insiders are fighting for their survival. That's no surprise. Their careers depend on protecting the status quo," she writes. "The career political insiders started going this negative so early because they're obviously terrified of Linda's candidacy."