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.

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Jul 072016
 

I have a bit of time before my brother and his wife and friends arrive for a very short visit and then a cruise up the Alaska coast.  They fly in today and I will take my brother and SIL to see my mother who they have not seen in almost 3 years tomorrow.  And speaking of mum, I had her out to the specialist for another botox treatment.  I left my house at 10:30 and did not return until 17:00 so I was very tired.  For me, it is more an emotional tired.  On Saturday, which is my brother's 39th wedding anniversary, all 5 of us (not mum) will travel up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the Britannia Mine Museum for a tour.  The mine buildings were used a lot in movie and television filming over the years, a second life so to speak, but have now been restored to being a museum.  If you want to see a bit more, check out THIS.  Thanks for your rain Napster!  We have had quite a bit the past few days which has helped with the Burns Bog fire (see below) but has made kids house bound and a bit crazy.  As luck would have it, my physio therapist told me that my walking is much better, almost normal.  I told him to be ready on Monday after my museum visit as I'll likely be very sore.  

Short Takes

1130news.com — Eliza Olson, president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, is expecting impacts to the wildlife living in one of North America’s largest peat bogs. “I hope most of the birds have fledged and left their nests. If they haven’t, they’re going to be burned. The deer and mammals can move,” she says.

As for the fire retardant being dropped by water bombers, Olson says “one of the ironies is some of the stuff they use actually encourages vegetation to grow.”

“In a peat bog, you want things to grow slowly. Any nutrients added to the bog encourages invasive plants because a bog is naturally nutrient-poor and acidic,” she explains.

The fire has also caused “legacy carbon” stored deep within the ground and peat for more than a thousand years to burn and release into the atmosphere, according to McMaster University earth sciences professor Mike Waddington.

“We see over 200 tons of carbon per hectare is lost in a fire of these sizes,” he says.

Olson said a bog can store carbon 10 times more efficiently than a tropical rainforest and will also release methane if disturbed.

This from Wikipedia about Burns Bog

The major characteristics of Burns Bog is that it is wet, acidic, and peat-forming.[4] It is a wetland ecosystem with a diverse array of plant, animal, and insect species. A major component of Burns Bog is sphagnum moss, which is able to hold about 30 times its weight in water. Sphagnum moss can grow under wet and acidic conditions and it is the major building block of peat in Burns Bog.

Breakdown of organic matter in the bog progresses slowly due to low oxygen content and high acidity of the water.[4]

Burns Bog plays a major role in climate regulation. It helps to maintain the health of nearby creeks, which are critical salmon-bearing sites. The peat in the bog does this by cooling and filtering rainwater that comes in. This water then leeches into these salmon-bearing creeks. Burns Bog is also a major carbon sink. Since organic matter decomposes at a very slow rate in the bog, carbon stays in the bog. High acidity and the waterlogged conditions of peatlands such as Burns Bog prevent complete decomposition of fixed carbon.[4] This prevents the carbon from escaping into the atmosphere.  …

Dry peat can catch and spread fire rapidly. Thus, fires in Burns Bog can burn underground for months in methane-rich peat. Large fires occurred in Burns Bog in 1977, twice in 1990, 1994, 1996, 2005, 2007, and 2016.  …

Another fire broke out on September 11, 2005 in Burns Bog. The fire broke out near the south eastern edge of the bog. Smoke and ash covered the entire Lower Mainland and spread all the way to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The fire expanded to 200 hectares (490 acres) hectares after three days. Large-scale fighting methods were used to combat the blaze. This included firebreaks being bulldozed and dikes to raise the water level in the hopes of extinguishing any of the fire burning underground. BC Fire Service's Air Tanker Centre dispatched a fleet of air tankers to assist in putting out the blaze. This included four Firecats, two Convair 580s and the Martin Mars water bombers, which are the world's largest air tankers. Eight days after the fire first set blaze, Delta municipality announced that the fire was in "mop-up" stages.

Although this is a local Greater Vancouver story, the effects of bog fires has global ramifications for the environment.  As humans drain bogs to get at the peat or make them ultimately more "useful",  ancient carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming.  Even though Burns Bog is on the other side of Metro Vancouver from where I live (about 40 – 50 km away) and the prevailing wind was south-east, I could still see and smell the smoke in the north-east.  Last night, the city of Delta announced that the Burns Bog fire was contained but it is still not out.  The rain and cooler temperatures have helped.

Media Matters — New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes could give 21st Century Fox executives, Lachlan and James Murdoch (sons of Rupert Murdoch)  a way to oust Ailes.

Sherman quotes executives who believe 21st Century Fox’s hiring of outside counsel to investigate the allegations made against Ailes indicate “a coup” inside the network and that “this could be curtains for Ailes.” Sherman reports that “there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired”:  …

Executives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hiring of an outside lawyer is also an indication that Murdoch’s sons may be capitalizing on the Carlson scandal to achieve a long-held goal: forcing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one person close to the company told me. If the investigation into Ailes’s management confirms Carlson’s account, or turns up additional episodes of harassment with other Fox women, it stands to reason the Murdoch children would have the leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be curtains for Ailes,” another person close to the company said. Indeed, several months after NBC hired an outside counsel in 1995 to investigate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semitic slur, he left NBC.

Well, isn't this just the cat's pajamas!  Why didn't arlson do this long ago instead of putting up with it?  I suspect she would say she was worried about her career.  Here is a petition from Ultra Violet which reads in part:

But Ailes, a serial sexual harasser who has offered promotions for sex and requires female news anchors to display their legs, has yet to face any consequences.

If Fox News does not suspend Ailes, they're sending a message that sexual harassment and the abuse of women is OK in their workplace. All people, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, deserve to work in a safe and harassment free workplace and Carlson needs our support.

Public pressure, starting with your signature, will push the network to get rid of Ailes–sending a powerful message that sexism anywhere won't be tolerated.

I was amused by the speculation that this might give the Murdoch's the "leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief."  That might mean (heavy on the 'might') a lot of firings at the network.  I guess we wait and see.  There is also an excellent Alternet piece on this story which TC has covered in his Open ThreadThat piece is more about Carlson and the length of time it has taken her to take action.

CBC — Bassel Mcleash's long journey from Syria to Toronto and finally to Sunday's Pride parade was anything but smooth.

It was a road filled with war, hatred and hardship, which is why the chance to participate in his first Pride parade was so special.  

"To be honest, I'm totally speechless," he said as he moved towards the start of the parade. "The excitement and the emotion that's happening, it's overwhelming. It's too much to handle."

Moments later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped in front of the large group of politicians and supporters that Mcleash had joined. At most, Mcleash had hoped to capture a glimpse of Canada's celebrity prime minister.

Standing 5-foot-1, it was easy for the 29-year-old Syrian refugee to work his way to the front of the group and next to the leader of his new country — a spot he didn't surrender for the entire parade route.

bassel6

Bassel McLeash with the broad smile and the big Canada/Pride flag walking next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about having a day like this, marching next to the prime minister or marching in a Pride," he said.

Read more in the article about Bassel McLeash's journey out of Syria and the additional challenges he has faced as a member of the LGBTQ global community.  Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian organisation helping LGBTQ refugees from around the world.  Read more about Rainbow Railroad at the link provided.  I am repeating the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 01/07/2016: "This is who we are.  This is what we believe in.  This is Canada!"

Think Progress — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is in a bit of hot water.

The trouble started in June, when the Associated Press reported that Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” in 2013 — right around the time she was deciding whether or not to investigate alleged fraud at Trump University. Trump University, of course, is the controversial for-profit school owned by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It was only four days after Bondi announced she might join an investigation into Trump University when a Trump family foundation gave $25,000 to a political group supporting Bondi’s re-election. After that money came in, Bondi said she would not pursue a lawsuit against Trump University. Two years later — one day before Florida’s crucial primary election — Bondi endorsed Trump for president.

Bondi has so far denied impropriety, calling the AP’s story “false and misleading.” But the situation is not going away, and calls to investigate Bondi over the donation are piling up.

Oh my!  As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth "Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn, and caldron bubble."  I wonder when Republicans are going to take Trump's firey, bubbling caldron — his business acumen, his lying, his xenophobia etc — seriously.  It is already bubbling over and threatening to infect US politics so deeply that the Republican Party is at risk of death.  IMO, as Republicans stand today, no great loss at all.

My Universe

There is something about watching kittens play infront of mirrors that makes one giggle and yes, feel good!

 

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May 032016
 

Faux Noise never disappoints when it comes to the asinine, whether O'Lielly, Hannity or a host of others including Tantaros.  Read on!

         BARF BAG ALERT!!!!    BARF BAG ALERT!!!!     BARF BAG ALERT!!!!    BARF BAG ALERT!!!!

Frequent viewers of Fox News, and those who mock it for a living, have noticed a familiar face has gone missing this past week. Rumors abound as to what pushed "Outnumbered" co-host Andrea Tantaros off-air a day after the launch of her new anti-feminism book, Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable. 

Whatever the reason, Fox News is certainly missing an element of entertainment in the form of daily doses of Tanta-rants, so to pacify your need for an IQ drop, we’ve compiled a list of some of the dumbest things Andrea Tantaros has ever said (which was only difficult because there was a ton of material to choose from). 

1. Tantaros says she would look "fabulous" on the food stamp diet.

During a discussion about food stamps on Fox Business, Tantaros suggested she would look amazing if she tried the food stamp challenge: eating on $133 a month.

“I should try it, because do you know how fabulous I’d look?” Tantaros said. “I’d be so skinny. I mean, the camera adds 10 pounds, it really does. I’d be looking great.”

Posted from Alternet

Click through for the other seven moments.  Tantaros is an insult to real women and the human race.

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