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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,807

Journal Archives

Big Pharma's Enforcers

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration and members of Congress are pressing India to curb its generic medication industry. The move comes at the behest of U.S. pharmaceutical companies, which have drowned out warnings from public health experts that inexpensive drugs from India are essential to providing life-saving treatments around the world.

Low-cost generics from India have dramatically lowered medical costs in developing countries and proved critical to global AIDS relief programs; about 98 percent of the drugs purchased by President George W. Bush's landmark PEPFAR AIDS relief program are generics from India. Before Indian companies rolled out generic versions priced at $1 a day, AIDS medication cost about $10,000 per person per year.

But India's generic industry has also cut into profits for Pfizer and other U.S. and European drug companies. In response, these companies have sought to impose aggressive patenting and intellectual property standards in India, measures that would grant the firms monopoly pricing power over new drugs and lock out generics producers.

On Thursday, a House subcommittee held a hearing on international trade disputes with India that included testimony from American manufacturing and solar energy groups. Most of the event, however, was devoted to U.S. drug company Pfizer's complaints about Indian policies that have fostered the country's billion-dollar generics industry. The hearing followed Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to India earlier this week for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, a major diplomatic mission. ................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/28/obama-generic-drugs_n_3513011.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

Paul Krugman: The Evolution of Human Capital

The Evolution of Human Capital

Thursday, 27 June 2013 14:16
By Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co. | Op-Ed

Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, suggested in recent commentary for The New York Times that the golden age of human capital — roughly speaking, the era in which the economy strongly demanded the kinds of skills we teach in liberal-arts colleges and universities — is already behind us.

She may well be right: after a long stretch when both technology and trade seemed to be undermining only manual labor, it does look as if many skilled occupations are now under threat by Big Data, Bangalore, or both.

I'd just like to add a sort of footnote, inspired by a conversation I had the other day with a Congressional aide. Has there ever before, he asked, been a time when technology undermined skilled labor, instead of making it more necessary than ever?

The answer is, of course, yes, once you realize that there are many kinds of skills, and that book learning hasn't always been the kind that mattered. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17253-the-evolution-of-human-capital

Taking a Stand: Protesters block petcoke dumping

from the Detroit Metro Times:

Taking a Stand
Protesters block petcoke dumping

By Curt Guyette
Published: June 26, 2013

DETROIT — A HUMAN BLOCKADE by protestors on Monday morning successfully kept trucks from dumping loads of petroleum coke at a site adjacent to the Detroit River.

The material — a byproduct of refining bitumen from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands — has been a source of growing controversy in the city since March, when public attention began to focus on the fact it was being stored at two locations adjacent to the Ambassador Bridge.

As we reported online last week, one of those two mounds of the coal-like material, often called petcoke, has been removed from a site near the intersection of West Jefferson Avenue and Clark Street in southwest Detroit.

“We re-evaluated the situation … and decided to concentrate on our core business,” Patrick J. Stutka, an official with Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co., told council members. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/news/news-hits/taking-a-stand-1.1510951

The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed

The Expendables: How the Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Are Getting Crushed
Hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers are stuck in low-wage temp jobs, despite working for America’s largest companies.

BY Michael Grabell, ProPublica

It’s 4:18 a.m. and the strip mall is deserted. But tucked in back, next to a closed-down video store, an employment agency is already filling up. Rosa Ramirez walks in, as she has done nearly every morning for the past six months. She signs in and sits down in one of the 100 or so blue plastic chairs that fill the office. Over the next three hours, dispatchers will bark out the names of who will work today. Rosa waits, wondering if she will make her rent.

In cities all across the country, workers stand on street corners, line up in alleys or wait in a neon-lit beauty salon for rickety vans to whisk them off to warehouses miles away. Some vans are so packed that to get to work, people must squat on milk crates, sit on the laps of passengers they do not know or sometimes lie on the floor, the other workers’ feet on top of them.

This is not Mexico. It is not Guatemala or Honduras. This is Chicago, New Jersey, Boston.

The people here are not day laborers looking for an odd job from a passing contractor. They are regular employees of temp agencies working in the supply chain of many of America’s largest companies – Walmart, Macy’s, Nike, Frito-Lay. They make our frozen pizzas, sort the recycling from our trash, cut our vegetables and clean our imported fish. They unload clothing and toys made overseas and pack them to fill our store shelves. They are as important to the global economy as shipping containers and Asian garment workers. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15204/the_expendables_how_the_temps_who_power_corporate_giants_are_getting_crushe/

Supreme Court voting rights (cartoon)


The Painful Truths Told by Phil Agee

from Consortium News:

The Painful Truths Told by Phil Agee
June 27, 2013

Truly objective journalism would value facts and accuracy above all else, but the mainstream U.S. press – while pretending to be “objective” – treasures faux patriotism much more, as is evident with recent whistleblowers as it was with the hostility toward the late Phil Agee who exposed CIA crimes, as William Blum recalls.

By William Blum

Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about U.S. foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.

Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.

Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phony documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.

Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/06/27/the-painful-truths-told-by-phil-agee/

Scientists Warn: Largest Ocean 'Dead Zone' in History

(Common Dreams) The largest 'dead zone' ever recorded is headed for the Gulf of Mexico this summer, as high levels of pollution runoff, elevated by Midwestern floods, seep into the ocean.

The dead area could grow to as much as 8,500 square miles of toxic deep ocean water—killing all marine life in its path—warn National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

The findings signal a warning not only about the Gulf of Mexico, but about the many dead zones that develop each year across the world's oceans.

Dead zones emerge deep beneath the marine surface when pollution runoff from farms seeps into the ocean, releasing nitrogen that feeds large algae growths. ...........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/27-8

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, mondo asshole

Seems like not much has changed in the world of Chick-fil-A. After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, the restaurant chain's president and chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, apparently tweeted an anti-gay response to the ruling.

The court ruled Wednesday morning that DOMA, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in states where the union has already been legalized, is unconstitutional. Following the decision, the Supreme Court also dropped the case for Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban.

Upon hearing the news, some celebrated for equality while others complained about how society has changed for the worse. Cathy, who made headlines last summer for saying his company supports the "biblical definition" of marriage, stood with the latter camp.

The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy reporter Charles Passy was the first to report that Cathy reportedly tweeted an anti-gay marriage statement following the DOMA verdict. A reader sent Passy the tweet, which said it was a "sad day" for the nation and that the "founding fathers would be ashamed." The post has been deleted. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a-doma_n_3510449.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037&ir=Politics

Nancy Pelosi On Michele Bachmann DOMA Remarks: 'Who Cares?'

It took Nancy Pelosi just two words on Wednesday to take Michele Bachmann down a notch.

The House minority leader was asked during a press conference what she thought of Bachmann's intense denunciation earlier in the day of the Supreme Court's historic rulings in favor of gay marriage. She replied with a shrug:

"Who cares?"

Bachmann, whose staunch opposition to gay marriage is long and storied, had insisted in a written statement Wednesday morning that, "Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted." She would resume that line of attack later during a press conference, calling the Court's decisions an affront to the Constitution, and to "the foundational unit of our society, which is marriage." ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/nancy-pelosi-michele-bachmann-doma_n_3505535.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1005642b=facebook

Livestock Industry Bullying on Meatless Mondays Campaign Doesn’t Change Facts–Or Consumer Trends

from Civil Eats:

Livestock Industry Bullying on Meatless Mondays Campaign Doesn’t Change Facts–Or Consumer Trends
By Sasha Lyutse on June 24, 2013

The Meatless Mondays campaign encourages consumers to skip meat one day a week in favor of plant-based foods, and highlights how this simple action can help improve their health and reduce the environmental impacts of their diets. Seems small, but the collective impacts are potentially anything but. According to estimates by the Humane Society of the United States, if every American embraced Meatless Mondays, we would need to raise 1.4 billion fewer farm animals. That translates into a lot fewer toxic chemicals, reduced climate pollution, healthier soils and waterways, and a lot less animal cruelty.

But when a food company decided to implement the initiative in House of Representative cafeterias this month, the conventional livestock industry was quick to pounce—in highly hyperbolic fashion.

In a letter to the House Administration Committee, the euphemistically named “Farm Animal Welfare Coalition” called Meatless Mondays “an acknowledged tool of animal rights and environmental organizations who seek to publicly denigrate U.S. livestock and poultry production.” The group asked the Committee to inform the company that “it must cease immediately” any activity promoting Meatless Mondays. Unfortunately, the effort now appears dead in its tracks.

Last year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was similarly pressured into removing language promoting Meatless Mondays from a sustainability newsletter to employees after facing pressure from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, which I discussed here. That’s right. Not a press release or any kind of policy document. An internal employee newsletter suggesting that one way to reduce their environmental impact while dining at their office cafeteria is to skip meat once a week. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2013/06/24/livestock-industry-bullying-on-meatless-mondays-campaign-doesnt-change-facts-or-consumer-trends/#sthash.oOOhfpIw.dpuf

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