No Water Down Under

Australia runs dry, and we're not far behind Last week at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic pulled out of his quarterfinal match, something a defending champ had never before done. His reason-the heat. The same day, Serena Williams described playing on the sweltering Melbourne hard courts, before..

Australia runs dry, and we're not far behind

Last week at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic pulled out of his quarterfinal match, something a defending champ had never before done. His reason-the heat. The same day, Serena Williams described playing on the sweltering Melbourne hard courts, before officials closed the stadium's roof, as an "out of body" experience. "Like I felt I was watching someone play in a blue dress, and it wasn't me, because it was so hot out there." As Australia, which is acutely vulnerable to climate change, continues to heat up, the days of this Grand Slam tournament as an outdoor event seem to be numbered.The city of Melbourne stood as ground zero of a brutal, unprecedented heat wave-the worst three days all topping 44 degrees Celsius (or 110 Fahrenheit)-that shut down the city's trains, blacked out half a million homes and businesses, buckled rail tracks, and killed at least 20 people. And while we know better than to blindly confuse weather with climate, according to Penny Wong, the country's climate change minister (hey, why don't we have one of those?), "Eleven of the hottest years in history have been in the last twelve…all of this is consistent with climate change, and with what scientists told us would happen." David Karoly, a meteorology professor at the University of Melbourne, IPCC scientist, and one of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winners, said that the heat was "unusual but it will become much more like the normal experience, in the range of normal heatwaves, in 10-20 years."Southern Australia is 12 years into a massive, crippling drought that has no historical precedent. Joe Romm at Climate Progress has called the country "the canary in the coal mine for climate-driven desertification." As the island nation warms, it's getting sucked dry. The Australian Alps have endured their driest three years ever. Water from the country's most vital river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, responsible for a quarter of the country's food production, now doesn't even reach the sea 150 days a year. Scientists and government officials are-to be blunt-freaking out.Back in February of 2007, a report on climate change by the New South Wales government suggested that southern Australia could be virtually uninhabitable within a lifetime. The country's Water Services Association urged that "drought" had become a redundant term. "The inflows of the past will never return," warned Ross Young, WSA's executive director. "We are trying to avoid the term ‘drought' and saying this is the new reality." Headlines have sounded like copy for Hollywood disaster flick trailers: "Sydney: 50 years to live," "Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in."This isn't only Australia's problem. I've been in California for the past week, and here drought is the hot topic. Last Thursday, Governor Schwarzenegger warned that the state "is headed toward one of the worst water crises in its history." Department of Water Resources director Lester Snow echoed: "We may be at the start of the worst California drought in modern history."Even worse-there's plenty of research to suggest that the American Southwest, like Australia, is headed more towards permanent desertification than passing drought. A 2007 study published in Science anticipated a not-too-distant future with Dust Bowl-like conditions stretching from Kansas to Southern California by 2050. Since then, the predictions have only gotten more and more dire: the tropics are expanding; climate effects are "largely irreversible for 1,000 years," and the American Southwest is screwed.The Scripps Institution of Oceanography summed it up last year in a report that attributed the drying trend to human-induced climate change, one that concluded with a startlingly blunt warning: "Our results are not good news for those living in the western United States." We'd do well to pay close attention to Australia's plight.Photos for illustration from flickr users johnny jet and brettmarlow1, licensed under Creative Commons.

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.