Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pennsylvanian Governor Tom Corbett attempts to abolish Mumia Abu Jamal's freedom of speech

by Claude Chaney 

   Apparently it's not enough to put an innocent man behind bars for a crime someone else has admittedly committed. The agent of repression in the person of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett wants to add insult to injury in the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, who has become one of the world most popular political prisoners.
   Governor Corbett is proposing a gag order on Mumia Abu Jamal and if he is successful it will just prove that all the hoopla we hear about freedom of speech and freedom of expression that we work so hard to establish in other countries is really a lot of bull excrement. The Pennsylvania Governor like so many of his
right wing brethren do not like Mumia Abu Jamal's world-wide popularity and are attempting to put an end to his radio broadcasts that can be heard world-wide through the internet. Since it is an election year for Corbett he is doing something that he knows will appeal to his greedy racist base.
    Mumia Abu Jamal welcomes Governor Corbett's decision because he feels it exposes the Governor for
what he really is. I emphatically disagree, should Governor Corbett succeed it will be one more alleged freedom abolished, one more step in the dismantling of the Constitution. We have already lost Habeus Corpus. We have lost the right to peacefully assemble and through the surveillance of the NSA we have lost the right to privacy. If Governor Corbett can muzzle Mumia Abu Jamal today, tomorrow it might be the NAACP, or the ACLU or even you or me. I appeal to the African-American community of Pennsylvania as well as all freedom loving people everywhere to vigorously oppose Governor Corbett's proposed act of repression. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why We Let Big Pharma Rip Us Off

by Robert Reich

According to a new federal database put online last week, pharmaceutical companies and device makers paid doctors some $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period in 2013.
Some doctors received over half a million dollars each, and others got millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop.
Doctors claim these payments have no effect on what they prescribe. But why would drug companies shell out all this money if it didn’t provide them a healthy return on their investment?
America spends a fortune on drugs, more per person than any other nation on earth, even though Americans are no healthier than the citizens of other advanced nations.
Of the estimated $2.7 trillion America spends annually on health care, drugs account for 10 percent of the total.
Government pays some of this tab through Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  But we pick up the tab indirectly through our taxes.
We pay the rest of it directly, through higher co-payments, deductibles, and premiums.
Drug company payments to doctors are a small part of a much larger strategy by Big Pharma to clean our pockets.
Another technique is called “product hopping” —making small and insignificant changes in a drug whose patent is about to expire, so it’s technically new.
For example, last February, before its patent expired on Namenda, its widely used drug to treat Alzheimer’s, Forest Laboratories announced it would stop selling the existing tablet form of in favor of new extended-release capsules called Namenda XR.
The capsules were just a reformulated version of the tablet. But even the minor change prevented pharmacists from substituting generic versions of the tablet.
Result: Higher profits for Forest Labs and higher costs for you and me.
Another technique is for drug companies to continue to aggressively advertise prescription brands long after their twenty-year patents have expired, so patients ask their doctors for them. Many doctors will comply.
America is one of few advanced nations that allow direct advertising of prescription drugs.
A fourth tactic is for drug companies to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay their cheaper versions. These so-called “pay-for-delay” agreements generate big profits for both the proprietary manufacturers and the generics. But here again, you and I pay. The tactic costs us an estimated $3.5 billion a year.
Europe doesn’t allow these sorts of payoffs, but they’re legal in the United States because the major drug makers and generics have fought off any legislative attempts to stop them.
Finally, while other nations set wholesale drug prices, the law prohibits the U.S. government from using its considerable bargaining power under Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate lower drug prices. This was part of the deal Big Pharma extracted for its support of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The drug companies say they need the additional profits to pay for researching and developing new drugs.
But the government supplies much of the research Big Pharma relies on, through the National Institutes of Health.
Meanwhile, Big Pharma is spending more on advertising and marketing than on research and development – often tens of millions to promote a single drug.
And it’s spending hundreds of millions more every year lobbying. Last year alone, the lobbying tab came to $225 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
That’s more than the formidable lobbying expenditures of America’s military contractors.
In addition, Big Pharma is spending heavily on political campaigns. In 2012, it shelled out over $36 million, making it the biggest political contributor of all American industries.
Why do we put up with this? It’s too facile to say we have no choice given how much the industry is spending on politics. If the public were sufficiently outraged, politicians and regulatory agencies wouldn’t allow this giant ripoff.
But the public isn’t outraged. That’s partly because much of this strategy is hidden from public view.
But I think it’s also because we’ve bought the ideological claptrap of the “free market” being separate from and superior to government.
And since private property and freedom of contract are the core of the free market, we assume drug companies have every right to charge what they want for the property they sell.
Yet in reality the “free market” can’t be separated from government because government determines the rules of the game.
It determines, for example, what can be patented and for how long, what side payoffs create unlawful conflicts of interest, what basic research should be subsidized, and when government can negotiate low prices.
The critical question is not whether government should play a role in the market. Without such government decisions there would be no market, and no new drugs.
The issue is how government organizes the market. So long as big drug makers have a disproportionate say in these decisions, the rest of us pay through the nose. 
Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

McConnell Trails in latest poll

UPDATE: Young voters may swing Senate race
An internal Grimes survey last week by pollster Mark Mellman also showed Grimes with a two-point lead.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said the Bluegrass Poll results either are an anomaly or the first sign of a Grimes trend.
"You've got a lot of Kentuckians who say, 'I don't want a Democrat who's going to back Obama but I'm sick and tired of McConnell,' " he said. "The question is: How does it balance out on Election Day?"
University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss cautioned that the 6-point swing to Grimes may not be real.
"I would take these results with a grain of salt, given that they deviate from everything we've seen recently," Voss said, referring to a number of other polls showing McConnell leading Grimes.
The Bluegrass Poll asked the opinions of 730 registered Kentucky voters, 632 of whom it determined to be likely voters in the Nov. 4 election. The latter group's responses were used to break down the Senate race, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

New poll shows Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell trailing Alison Grimes

After two polls in his favor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has slipped behind Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in his re-election bid, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll.
Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, now leads the five-term senator 46 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, the survey found. Libertarian candidate David Patterson had 3 percent support in the poll, while 7 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.
While Grimes' advantage is within the poll's margin of error, it represents a 6-point swing to the Democrat since the survey was last conducted in late August.
The latest poll — conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, Louisville's WHAS-TV, The Lexington Herald Leader and Lexington's WKYT-TV — was dismissed by McConnell's campaign.
"After fourteen straight public polls all showing Sen. McConnell with a clear lead, this Bluegrass Poll is obviously an outlier," spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. "We're very comfortable with where this race stands and are confident Sen. McConnell will be re-elected in November."
But Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said the survey "reflects the overwhelming grassroots enthusiasm Alison and our campaign see everyday across the commonwealth."

Monday, October 06, 2014

Mike Brown Demonstration delays St. Louis Symphony Ochestra.

 by Claude Chaney

     Demonstrators disrupted a performance of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in remembrance of African-American teenager who was unarmed when shot by a white Ferguson police officer. Since this incident there have been at least three other assaults of whites on blacks in Ohio, Utah and South Carolina, of the three only the South Carolina incident didn't result in death.
     In Staten Island a policeman used an illegal choke hold killing a black man whose alleged crime was selling illegal cigarettes. I don't know if these types of crimes have been going on repeatedly under the
radar of media scrutiny, or if the situation is even worse, but is getting exposure since the advent of the camera cell phone. The 22 year old African-American man was just looking at a gun in an Ohio Wal-mart, when a white employee called police and told them that a black man was waving a gun around the store threatening customers.Other witnesses claim this was not the case. A Michael Moore movie showed how easy it busy to buy a gun in Texas Wal-Marts with minimal background checks or no background check at all. Whites enter and leave that particular Texas Wal-Mart with REAL loaded guns and they have no problem at all. In this case the police entered and immediately killed the young man. Similar cases in Florida and Michigan have resulted in convictions, but these may just be aberrations.  Guns should be federal, and uniform in all fifty states. ALEC, the NRA and like minded organizations are at the root of this crisis and unless we, the American people take action this problem will get worse before it gets better.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

ALEC Must go

     The blatantly partisan right-wing organization is being exposed by Color Of Change, as a result many multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit etc. have abandoned what is basically a racist, lunatic operation that writes legislation and gives it to congresspersons to pass. This subverts the legitimate political process. ALEC advocates the destruction of public education and kill at will laws such as "Stand Your Ground" which indirectly resulted in the death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.
     Most recently Facebook, Google and Windows have disassociated themselves from ALEC, which is a good thing but The Koch Brothers and Walmart state that they will continue to support ALEC irregardless to what other multi-national companies do. These two giants alone can keep ALEC afloat for some time as long as the general public is kept in the dark about their operations.
      A successful right wing campaign destroyed what could be considered an ALEC counterpart ACORN, whose primary goal was to register black, brown and poor people of any ethnicity to vote. Million of US citizens are now ready willing and able to return the favor, but in order to do so the people must be aware of ALEC and it's racist right wing agenda.
     In spite of the fact that many large corporations have abandoned ALEC there are still those who continue to stay on board. I for one am not so naive to think that the companies who left ALEC did so out of a concern for the environment of the kindness of their hearts. They left because they feared they would lose money. 
     ALEC has considerable support from major media (although it is covert for obvious reasons). This blog has declared itself a sworn enemy of ALEC and will do anything reasonable to hasten it's demise, working in conjunction with Color Of Change, People For The American Way, Emily's List and like minded organizations.