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Health Care & Environment

11.18 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

News Media Matters

11.19 The Biggest Threat to Free Speech No One Is Talking About

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]

11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

11.17 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare

11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 Trump Is Starting to Panic

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]

11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]

11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

International & Futurism

11.18 New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Let Them Eat Zoloft
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COMMENTARY:

Let Them Eat Zoloft

US citizens could save $3000 every year if they could outsource to get healthcare from another country.

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation earlier today, 17 November 2009

As the Senate takes up health care reform, we’re sure to be treated to yet more scenes of our elected officials bending over backwards to kiss the gold-plated butts of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. So far, just about every new turn in the health care battle is confirming what many have known for some time: The U.S. health care system is run largely for the benefit of these corporate giants, rather than of the American people, and no piece of legislation is likely to change that fact.

But to fully appreciate the license these industries have been given to run roughshod over the public interest, you have to take a trip to Connecticut. The state is a longtime home base for the insurance industry, with 72 companies and the nation’s highest concentrion of insurance jobs. It also has more than its share of drug and biotech companies. (What luck then, for these industries, that the man who appears to hold a swing vote on health care reform is their own Senator Joe Lieberman, who has enjoyed enormous financial support from the insurance companies and a pretty penny from Big Pharma, as well.)

While Connecticut may be loyal to its health care companies, the opposite is certainly not true. This week the giant drugmaker Pfizer sent shock waves across the state when it announced its decision to shut down its huge research facility in New London. While some workers will be transferred to a facility in a nearby town, the closure represents a devastating loss of industry and tax base for this working-class coastal city. It also marks the disintegration of an elaborate publically financed urban development scheme that began a decade ago.

After the closure of a naval installation in the mid-1990s left New London in desperate straits, Pfizer swept in with promises to revitalize the city with a state-of-the-art R & D headquarters. To serve the company’s interests, the state government decided to use eminent domain to seize private property, uproot residents, and destroy a neighborhood in order to revamp the surrounding area. The state’s won the right to do so in a landmark Supreme Court case. But it built nothing on the vacated land. And now Pfizer, as the Wall Street Journal put it, has decided to “bug out.” One local resident told the New York Times, “They stole our home for economic development. It was all for Pfizer, and now they get up and walk away.”

Here’s how Jeff Benedict, a Connecticut lawyer and author of a book on the land grab, described the situation an op-ed in the Hartford Courant:

Consider the bitter pill that Pfizer Inc. slipped New London this week. Barely a decade after constructing a $300 million research and development headquarters in the city, the pharmaceutical giant announced it was shutting down the facility. Just like that, New London will lose 1,400 jobs and become home to a gigantic, vacant office park that sprawls over a 24-acre campus.

Never mind that an entire residential neighborhood was bulldozed by New London to change the look of a 90-acre landscape around the Pfizer campus. And never mind that along the way the city used eminent domain to drive out homeowners and then fought a costly eight-year legal battle against holdouts Susette Kelo and her neighbors that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Fifth Amendment has always allowed government to take private property for public use. But in its most universally despised decision in decades, the court upheld the takings in New London by equating public benefits — the promise of increased tax revenues and new jobs — with public use.

In other words, the potential of a massive redevelopment scheme anchored by the arrival of Pfizer’s facility justified evicting homeowners who stood in the way of progress. There’s just one stubborn fact: It’s been four years since the infamous Kelo ruling and the city hasn’t gotten a thing built on the 90 acres it now controls.

After all the shouting, the developer ran out of money and the city has zero prospective replacements. Barren weed fields are all that exist where homes once stood.

According to the Times, Pfizer said it was pulling out of New London and consolidating its operations as a “cost-cutting measure.” As the AP reported last month, Pfizer has managed to boost its profits this year despite the recession by ”slashing costs on everything from manufacturing and marketing to research and development” and cutting 6,500 jobs. In the immediate future, AP notes:

Pfizer will keep cutting costs, now that it has completed the biggest drug industry deal of the year. The $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth last Thursday cements Pfizer’s position atop the industry, and the combined company is expected to eliminate nearly 20,000 jobs by the time integration is complete.

Let’s put all this “cost cutting” in further context. Pfizer’s profits in 2008 were $8.1 billion. The drugmaker ranked 11th on the Fortune 500’s list of most profitable companies, and also made Fortune’s list of “biggest winners,” described as “20 firms [that] managed to make money...even as the economy crumbled.” Wyeth’s 2008 profits were over $4 billion, so the acquisition is guaranteed to keep Pfizer in gravy, despite the $2.3 billion in criminal penalties it recently agreed to pay for illegally promiting off-label use of its drugs, in the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the U.S. Justice Department. Residents of New London and other locales abandoned by the company may also be interested to know that Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler’s 2008 compensation came to a cool $14.8 million–up 17 percent from the year before.

In other words, Pfizer’s determination to slash costs and eliminate thousands of jobs in the midst of a recession is motivated by nothing but sheer greed. This is business as usual for the pharmaceutical companies, which exist to serve the interests of their executives and shareholders, not the public–and will be just as ruthless as we allow them to be.

Yet this lesson seems to have bypassed many of our elected officials, who persist in pretending that the drug companies can be their ”partners” in health care reform, rather than their adversaries. In the rest of the industrialized world, they seem to have grasped the notion that it’s the government’s job to make sure the private health care industry doesn’t gouge the public. These governments do their job by imposing stiff regulation on these companies, far beyond anything that we will see in the current health reform.

Here, the drug companies are so used to getting their way that they are indignant when anyone in government finds the gumption to stand up to them at all. This morning, the LA Times reports that Big Pharma is protesting parts of the House reform bill, which it sees as violating the secret deal it made last summer with the White House. The paper reports that “senior administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, are warning members of Congress not to antagonize the deep-pocketed industry at a time when a major victory appears to be within reach, according to Democratic aides.”

Although they will probably get their way in the end, the drug companies are pissed off at the Democrats because they think they’ve been double-crossed. It’s a feeling that that’s no doubt well known to the residents of New London, Connecticut.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on November 17, 2009.
 

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