Everyday Erinyes #87

 Posted by at 9:32 am  Politics
Aug 122017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

In a week when “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli was convicted, if not yet sentenced, of 3 (out of 8) securities fraud charges related to overcharging on pharmaceuticals (to wit, the EpiPen), and we were reminded that the chairman of the board of his company literally said (OK, gestured) “F*** you” to America, it may not come as a surprise that Mylan is not the only corporation  – um – doing that to the American people with pharmaceuticals.  But it may not have made your radar that the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is actively engaged in ensuring that large sums of money not only flow to pharmaceutical dealers, but also flow right out of the country.

Knowledge Ecology International may not be the best known watchdog group in the world, but they seem to have been the only one to have caught on that the National Institutes of Health is proposing to grant the exclusive worldwide license for a new liver cancer drug to Salubris Biotherapeutics, Inc.  Now, Salubris wasn’t always a Chinese holding.  But it was acquired last October by Shenzen Salubris, run by the former mayor of Shenzen, billionaire Ye Chenghai, who with his famil controls 66% of the company.

Maryand’s Lieutenant Governor attended the ribbon cutting cermony of the new headquarters in May.  It’s in Gaithersburg.

According to the Huffington Post, the National Institutes of Health, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, developed the treatment and registered the patents, which means this was done with taxpayers’ money.

 The National Institutes of Health defended its decision in a statement to HuffPost on Wednesday, arguing “an exclusive license incentivizes companies to invest in the development of early stage … technologies so they can benefit public health.”

“NIH considers carefully when a technology should have an exclusive or non-exclusive license,” a spokesman said in the statement.

But the only one talking about this seems to be Jamie Love, the director of KEI.

“Is anyone in the White House paying any attention to these NIH patent licenses?” Jamie Love, the director of KEI, asked in an email to HuffPost on Tuesday. “The NIH wants to turn this over, life of patent, with zero agreements on the price, to Ye Chenghai, the former mayor of Shenzhen, in total secrecy as regards every important element of the license.”

Love added: “It’s time to hold hearings on the NIH licensing practices, so people have a better understanding of what is going on.”

Unfortunately, the notice filed with the Federal Register provides for just 15 days of public comments, which will neither be published nor made suject to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Almost simultaneously, Bernie Sanders in the Senate and Pete DeFazio in the House proposed

a new rule that would require federal agencies and federally funded nonprofits, such as research universities, to secure a reasonable pricing agreement from a manufacturer before granting it exclusive rights to drugs, vaccines or other health care products. 

Sanders’ proposal aims to stop the Department of Defense from awarding drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur an exclusive license and $173 million in research funding to produce a Zika vaccine developed over the past year by the U.S. Army. Zika virus, a tropical, mosquito-borne disease also spread through sexual transmission, causes devastating birth defects.

The French pharmaceutical giant demanded a license that would prevent other drugmakers from competing to manufacture the vaccine at a lower cost, then refused to agree to sell the vaccine back to taxpayers at a fair price. The company has a history of charging up to eight times more for its drugs in the U.S. than in France or the United Kingdom.

Senator Angus King and Representative Marcy Kaptur are working on budget amendments aimed at stopping the DOD and NIH respectively from commiting this kind of atrocity.  But these Senators and Representatives need all the help they can get.  Not that I am trying to attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, but Tisiphone, maybe you can halp.


In the Mayfair neighborhood of North Philadelphia, apparently the white supremacists can keep their cool if people of color live around the corner, just not on the same street – and they had better not park on the street that aren’t allowed to live on, either.

So we have Cottman Avenue, which, from what I can see on Google maps, is a fairly major road which has some businesses on it, running roughly from northwest to southeast.  One block northeast of it is Teesdale Street – some of the time.  Teesdale Street only runs two or three blocks and is residential.  But six or eight blocks down, Teesdale Street picks up again and runs for another two or three blocks.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Teesdale Street is where the white folks live.  People of color live on Cottman, and parking is kind of tight.

So sometimes someone who lives on Cottman can’t find parking there.  A few residents have found places on Teesdale at one time or another, but if they do, something happens.  A note is left on their vehicle, signed KKK, telling them not to do that.  Or their tires are spiked.  The flat tires happened to Bernadette Waites (pictured) and to her mother.  Her next-door neighbor, Lima, received the note.

“I was scared, and I was thinking, maybe they followed me or maybe they know where I live, and I don’t want to fear for my life that somebody would do something to me if I was to park around there again,” she said.

“I just want it to stop,” Lima said. “But that we’ve been living around people who have been preying on us the whole time, it’s really sad.”

So grudging, and so petty.  Megaera, please.


In San Diego, there’s a woman who worked for almost ten years at the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA.  She was initially hired as a youth pastor, and later was promoted to Minister of Missions and Serving.  But in March of this year, the church called a new Pastor to lead the congregation.

The new pastor, from Texas, pretty much immediately started sexually harassing her.  I won’t go into detail, you’ve heard it all before; women who read this have experienced it all before.  Except the one comment where he compared his body to a “Lamborghini that couldn’t be kept in the garage.”

OK, the comments on this story are priceless.  They have compared his body to everything from a “beat-up Fiat” to, at best, a “Buick.”  Everyone agrees the comparison to a Lamborghini is outrageous.  However, whatever it is compared to, it is not the job of the Minister of Missions to take it out of the garage and ride with it.

But the congregation must have thought otherwise.  She was first placed on administrative leave and then forced to resign.  I think her attorney puts it well:

“Like many of my female clients, Minister Neldon is working in a male-dominated industry that, in many way, is no different than other employers who simply refuse to accept that discrimination is illegal in America,” said Neldon’s attorney Dan Gilleon. “It’s a shame. You’d think a business that claims moral superiority would behave better. Minister Neldon will pay a price for speaking out, as is the case for many women who blow the whistle. But, true to her word, my client is thinking of the other women out there who might benefit once it finally sinks in for employers that civil rights will be enforced in the courtroom.”

I’ve lately been emcouraging as many people as I can to read an article on how, for right wing “Christians,” a hierarchy serves them in lieu of a moral code.  This story fits right in to that.  And it’s, if not as old as time, certainly as old as human history.  Alecto, at the very least perhaps you can give attorney Gilleon some much needed moral support.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 here.


Everyday Erinyes #55

 Posted by at 6:13 am  Politics
Dec 172016

From this week on you may assume that I have cut the stories down; that there are more which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them, but I can't feature all of them, even all of them which are underreported.  Because it's going to continue to be true for the foreseeable future.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

Last week I mentioned the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, and how it made homeless not only whoever may have survived it, but also a lot more people who have been trying to live and create in similar spaces (not only in Oakland, incidentally; other cities elsewhere in the country are cracking down on anyone who is using this kind of housing).  If you thought that was rock bottom, think again.  As of Monday, December 5, 36 had been confirmed dead but only 11 identified.  A chaotic situation for friends and relatives of residents.  On Facebook, a "Memorial Page for Oakland Fire" was set up, and survivors could post requests for information.

One survivor, Anna Mendiola, posted a photo of her sister in law, Jenifer (Mendiola), who also used the name Alana Kane, requesting any information.  Some friends also posted, and they tagged her Facebook page.  So, naturally, an uncounted number of trolls ran right over to Jennifer's page and started trolling like mad.

Mediaite will not post a link to the Facebook page out of respect.  But they posted a couple of examples.  Under a post urging friends to sign a petition that would encourage universities to cooperate less with ICE concerning undocumented students was posted  "sanctuary schools?  fuck no.  rip.  Trump 2029"

Under a call for Oakland residents to protest the election of Donald Trump, there are at least three comments:

"Worst post ever on FB.  You should be ashamed of yourself."
"All these anti-TRUMP anarchists are burning in HELL.  quite
literally I'd say!"

Or, as Mediaite sums it up:  "A woman is missing — and, judging by some of the comments on the page, presumed dead — and trolls have taken to her page to criticize her for not supporting Trump. Her friends and family can see these comments."

I don't think you are going to have any trouble finding them, Ladies.  Like the old saying:  "Fools' names and fools' faces/Are often found in public places."  Apparently FaceBook is one of those places.  You'll track them down.

Nazareth College, in Rochester New York, "despite what the biblical name might evoke, is not a religiously affiliated college; it dropped its Roman Catholic affiliation in the 1970s…. Instead, the college picked up a commitment to religious pluralism: Every undergraduate is required to take a religious studies course, and engage with faith traditions other than their own."

The most obvious way to so engage is to attend the religious services of another fairh, introducing themselves as students, and asking questions like: "What are your core values? How do you see them as the same or different from those of other religions?"  This is what a couple of  Muslim students did, picking the evangelical Browncroft Community Church.  Their first visit was so successful, they returned for a second visit, during which they also went to the coffee hour and talked to members.  They felt that the second visit went at least as well – a rich, positive learning experience.  Some of the church members hugged them as they left.

But, after they left, a "concerned congregant" called the Department of Homeland Security (who went to the state police, who went to campus security, who called the Religious Studies Department Head) because apparently their homework assignment had become a "cause for concern."

You will be happy to know there is going to be no protesting over this.  The college officials, the senior pastor of the church, and the students, as well as the Muslim Student Association, don't want protest, but they do all want dialogue.  The President had a good conversation with the senior pastor, as a result of which a metting was set up between the course teacher and another pastor, and all have hopes that good will come of it.

All, maybe except Concern Troll.  So, Ladies, I think you need to look up Concern Troll.  And – an expression I don't use lightly – put the fear of God into him or her.

But, speaking of the fear of God, maybe Pastor David Grisham in Texas is not the guy to emulate. 

He strolled into a Texas mall, found a bunch of kids and parents waiting in line to take a picture with Santa, and started to YELL.  (He would probably call it "preaching"; most people would call it a "rant"; I would think almost anyone would call it rude and uncalled for.)

Some of what he said: 

"… When you substitute the lie of Santa Claus in the heart of your child for the truth of Jesus Christ, you are bearing false witness against God. Don’t lie to your children and tell them there’s such a thing as Santa, when you know in reality that there are no flying reindeer, there is no workshop at the North Pole, there is no elves making toys, that you buy all the gifts and put ’em under the tree.

That’s all the truth. And there is no real Santa Claus. There is no Santa. It is not your place to lie to your children. Tell them the truth about Jesus Christ."

He then went home and posted a video of the rant to Facebook, claiming he had been "assaulted."  Yeah, right.  Someone coming up to you and asking you to stop yelling is not assault in my book.  (The video is at the link, so you can judge for yourself.)  His teeth looked like that BEFORE he started yelling.  They do look like Trump voters' teeth, though, don't they?  I think he needs to be schooled by you Ladies.  Draw straws or flip a coin for who goes where – these people are all so pathetic that it's hard for me to say.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4027075