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Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Patent monopolies provide the pharmaceutical industry with incentives for innovation and research. However, they can also encourage a range of rent-seeking behaviors that impose significant costs.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research assesses the cost associated with one form of rent-seeking, the mismarketing of drugs. This can occur when a drug company seeks narrow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug then promotes its use for other purposes. In addition, companies may conceal evidence that their drugs are less effective than claimed or possibly even harmful. The authors of the report find that in the case of just five drugs, this form of rent-seeking has resulted in cumulative costs of morbidity and mortality of $382 billion.

Apr 24

Gradual Injustice

By David Swanson, Let's Try Democracy | Op-Ed

Chris Woods' excellent new book is called Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars. The title comes from a claim that then-President George W. Bush made for drone wars. The book actually tells a story of gradual injustice. The path from a U.S. government that condemned as criminal the type of murder that drones are used for to one that treats such killings as perfectly legal and routine has been a very gradual and completely extra-legal process.

Drone murders started in October 2001 and, typically enough, the first strike murdered the wrong people. The blame game involved a struggle for control among the Air Force, CENTCOM, and the CIA.

Apr 23

Primary Season 2015: A Call to Action

By Mathias Quackenbush, Truthout | Op-Ed

With big money shaping our choice of candidate, Hillary Clinton's coronation as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is the measure of her likelihood of defending the interests of the corporatocracy. Now is the time to hold her accountable and shape the terms of debate via grassroots activism.

As readers are likely aware, Hillary Clinton recently announced her presidential candidacy. This may just reflect the viewpoint of a writer who operates in an activist echo chamber, but chances are that for most people reading, of interest was not the candidacy itself, but the fact that this announcement was treated as a somehow surprising or notable development. Hasn't #ReadyforHillary been a thing for years now? As Joseph Mulkerin notes in his recent op-ed, MSNBC started referring to her as the "presumptive nominee" as early as 2013.

Internal records released by the US Bureau of Land Management concerning the armed stand-off with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy give little clue of what led up to the confrontation and even less of what changed as a result. The records were given to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) as a result of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against BLM.

In the year following a failed attempt by BLM to seize Bundy's cattle, which had been illegally grazing on 160,000 BLM and National Park Service acres for more than a decade, the agency has been largely silent and had not responded to a PEER FOIA request for explanatory documents.

Estonia's general elections were held last month. The victory of the neoliberal Reform Party exacerbated a certain longlasting socio-political discrepancy of the country. While Estonia is perceived as a Nordic state by our politicians, Estonian society is distinctly Eastern European. The 2008 economic crises saw Estonia turn to one of the harshest austerity regimes in the EU - which resulted in insecurity and increasing social darwinism. With more public sector reforms to come and the end to austerity nowhere in sight, a Nordic future marked by welfare and cohesion remains as deceptive as ever. One can't escape the feeling that the possibility for even a modest change has been squandered.

Washington, DC - A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examines recent IMF research on gains from multilateraltradeliberalization, as under the WTO. This research shows that gains would be equal only to about 0.014 percent of consumption, or about 43 cents per person, per month, in the United States. The CEPR paper, "The Gains from Trade in a New Model from the IMF: Still Very Small" by David Rosnick, examines modeling by the IMF, which claims to find that WTO agreements to liberalize trade are worth more than previously thought. CEPR's paper shows that in fact the gains are relatively small.

On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury,Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.

The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the "Peace Camp," a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what is now known as the Nevada National Security Site.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty have teamed up to tell the emotional story of Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, in a new video.

Between clips of Sophia singing and playing with her parents in her hometown of Cincinnati, the audience is shown saddening footage of Sophia seizing as a newborn, while her parents describe their discovery of Sophia's epilepsy and their exhaustive struggle to find an effective treatment.

Apr 22

A Day for Our Mother Earth

By Tom H Hastings, Truthout | Op-Ed

How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenger social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones I was raised to hold, the ones that had worked forward from many indigenous leaders to John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Rachel Carson. My Dad taught me the number one value and tactic in life: always leave the campsite a bit nicer than when you found it. We camped across the country and that was our ritual; we broke camp and made sure the site was free of garbage but also had a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we found.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater permits issued recently on Indianlands are illegal and should be rescinded, according to an appeal filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The permits allow mass discharge of waters laced with toxic oil and gas drilling chemicals into a stream, for consumption by wildlife and livestock. The PEER petition to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board highlights EPA's approval of surface disposal of drilling wastewater without even identifying the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fluids, let alone setting effluent limits for the harmful contaminants contained within, contrary to its own regulations.

In mid-March, EPA finalized new water discharge permits for nearly a dozen oil fields on or abutting the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (EPA has Clean Water Act jurisdiction on tribal lands). 

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Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Patent monopolies provide the pharmaceutical industry with incentives for innovation and research. However, they can also encourage a range of rent-seeking behaviors that impose significant costs.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research assesses the cost associated with one form of rent-seeking, the mismarketing of drugs. This can occur when a drug company seeks narrow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug then promotes its use for other purposes. In addition, companies may conceal evidence that their drugs are less effective than claimed or possibly even harmful. The authors of the report find that in the case of just five drugs, this form of rent-seeking has resulted in cumulative costs of morbidity and mortality of $382 billion.

Apr 24

Gradual Injustice

By David Swanson, Let's Try Democracy | Op-Ed

Chris Woods' excellent new book is called Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars. The title comes from a claim that then-President George W. Bush made for drone wars. The book actually tells a story of gradual injustice. The path from a U.S. government that condemned as criminal the type of murder that drones are used for to one that treats such killings as perfectly legal and routine has been a very gradual and completely extra-legal process.

Drone murders started in October 2001 and, typically enough, the first strike murdered the wrong people. The blame game involved a struggle for control among the Air Force, CENTCOM, and the CIA.

Apr 23

Primary Season 2015: A Call to Action

By Mathias Quackenbush, Truthout | Op-Ed

With big money shaping our choice of candidate, Hillary Clinton's coronation as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is the measure of her likelihood of defending the interests of the corporatocracy. Now is the time to hold her accountable and shape the terms of debate via grassroots activism.

As readers are likely aware, Hillary Clinton recently announced her presidential candidacy. This may just reflect the viewpoint of a writer who operates in an activist echo chamber, but chances are that for most people reading, of interest was not the candidacy itself, but the fact that this announcement was treated as a somehow surprising or notable development. Hasn't #ReadyforHillary been a thing for years now? As Joseph Mulkerin notes in his recent op-ed, MSNBC started referring to her as the "presumptive nominee" as early as 2013.

Internal records released by the US Bureau of Land Management concerning the armed stand-off with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy give little clue of what led up to the confrontation and even less of what changed as a result. The records were given to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) as a result of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against BLM.

In the year following a failed attempt by BLM to seize Bundy's cattle, which had been illegally grazing on 160,000 BLM and National Park Service acres for more than a decade, the agency has been largely silent and had not responded to a PEER FOIA request for explanatory documents.

Estonia's general elections were held last month. The victory of the neoliberal Reform Party exacerbated a certain longlasting socio-political discrepancy of the country. While Estonia is perceived as a Nordic state by our politicians, Estonian society is distinctly Eastern European. The 2008 economic crises saw Estonia turn to one of the harshest austerity regimes in the EU - which resulted in insecurity and increasing social darwinism. With more public sector reforms to come and the end to austerity nowhere in sight, a Nordic future marked by welfare and cohesion remains as deceptive as ever. One can't escape the feeling that the possibility for even a modest change has been squandered.

Washington, DC - A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examines recent IMF research on gains from multilateraltradeliberalization, as under the WTO. This research shows that gains would be equal only to about 0.014 percent of consumption, or about 43 cents per person, per month, in the United States. The CEPR paper, "The Gains from Trade in a New Model from the IMF: Still Very Small" by David Rosnick, examines modeling by the IMF, which claims to find that WTO agreements to liberalize trade are worth more than previously thought. CEPR's paper shows that in fact the gains are relatively small.

On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury,Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.

The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the "Peace Camp," a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what is now known as the Nevada National Security Site.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty have teamed up to tell the emotional story of Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, in a new video.

Between clips of Sophia singing and playing with her parents in her hometown of Cincinnati, the audience is shown saddening footage of Sophia seizing as a newborn, while her parents describe their discovery of Sophia's epilepsy and their exhaustive struggle to find an effective treatment.

Apr 22

A Day for Our Mother Earth

By Tom H Hastings, Truthout | Op-Ed

How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenger social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones I was raised to hold, the ones that had worked forward from many indigenous leaders to John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Rachel Carson. My Dad taught me the number one value and tactic in life: always leave the campsite a bit nicer than when you found it. We camped across the country and that was our ritual; we broke camp and made sure the site was free of garbage but also had a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we found.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater permits issued recently on Indianlands are illegal and should be rescinded, according to an appeal filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The permits allow mass discharge of waters laced with toxic oil and gas drilling chemicals into a stream, for consumption by wildlife and livestock. The PEER petition to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board highlights EPA's approval of surface disposal of drilling wastewater without even identifying the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fluids, let alone setting effluent limits for the harmful contaminants contained within, contrary to its own regulations.

In mid-March, EPA finalized new water discharge permits for nearly a dozen oil fields on or abutting the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (EPA has Clean Water Act jurisdiction on tribal lands).