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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,634

Journal Archives

The New Face of US Health Care: $1,000 per Pill


The New Face of US Health Care: $1,000 per Pill

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 10:06
By Peter S. Arno and Michael H. Davis, Truthout | Op-Ed


For all of the outrage about the $1,000 a day cost for Sovaldi, the new hepatitis C pill marketed by Gilead Sciences, why hasn't anyone been arguing that federal law mandates that it be made available to the public at a reasonable price? If it is not, according to the 1980 revision of US patent law known as the Bayh-Dole Act, the government can use its "march-in" rights and insist that the drug be licensed to other manufacturers that will make the drug more widely available.

More than 3.2 million people in the United States and as many as 150 million worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. The staggering cost of providing new treatments to even a fraction of this population raises well-justified concerns in public and private insurance markets. But, because these drugs were most likely invented with federal funding, government rights under US patent law may offer a solution to skyrocketing costs.

For all the talk of bending the cost curve under the Affordable Care Act, there has been a resounding silence when it comes to constraining pharmaceutical prices. But now, the implications of financing these drugs in the Medicaid and Medicare programs, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and federal and state prisons can no longer be ignored. Needless to say, the private insurance industry is also scrambling.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that if only 30 percent of hepatitis C-infected Medicare enrollees were treated with Sovaldi over the next two years, program costs would increase by $6.5 billion, and premiums and outlays for all Part D (prescription drug plan) enrollees would rise by 8 percent. A view from prison looks even worse. An estimated 1.8 million people behind bars have hepatitis C, and treating even a fraction of them would cost billions of taxpayer dollars. On the Medicaid side, where hundreds of thousands of enrollees may have hepatitis C, things look equally dire. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/28171-the-new-face-of-us-health-care-1-000-per-pill



Chicago CTA Ride the Rails: Brown Line in Real Time




Do You Know What Banks Are Actually Doing With Your Money?





Russell Brand sits down with RT’s Max Keiser to ask him to explain some of the things a lot of us don’t understand about banks. Keiser’s answers may both surprise and disgust you.


http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/do_you_know_what_banks_are_actually_doing_with_your_money_20141223



"What you need is sustained outrage..............

.....there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority."

-- Molly Ivins


Despite Cheaper Gas, Public Transit Ridership Is Up, Trade Group Reports



(NYT) David Needham thought he would need to buy a car when he moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul from San Francisco in February 2013, but was pleasantly surprised to find that his adopted city has an extended transit system that meets all of his business and social needs, allowing him and his family to remain car-free.

Mr. Needham, 29, a website developer for nonprofits and small businesses, lives a five-minute walk from a new light-rail system that runs every 10 minutes and takes him into downtown Minneapolis in about 30 minutes for a fare of about $2.

“When we moved here to St. Paul, we realized that we lived on the route of a new light-rail system and a major bus thoroughfare, and we really didn’t need a vehicle,” Mr. Needham said. He said he, his wife Alyscia, and their 18-month-old daughter have been without a car for about a year.

Mr. Needham rides the 11-mile Green Line, which since opening in June has attracted around 36,000 riders on a typical weekday, a number that is already approaching the 41,000 projected for the line by 2030, said Drew Kerr, a spokesman for Metro Transit, the city’s transportation agency. The line cost $957 million to build, half of which was funded by the federal government, Mr. Kerr said. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/us/despite-cheaper-gas-public-transit-ridership-is-up-trade-group-reports.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0



Despite Cheaper Gas, Public Transit Ridership Is Up, Trade Group Reports


(NYT) David Needham thought he would need to buy a car when he moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul from San Francisco in February 2013, but was pleasantly surprised to find that his adopted city has an extended transit system that meets all of his business and social needs, allowing him and his family to remain car-free.

Mr. Needham, 29, a website developer for nonprofits and small businesses, lives a five-minute walk from a new light-rail system that runs every 10 minutes and takes him into downtown Minneapolis in about 30 minutes for a fare of about $2.

“When we moved here to St. Paul, we realized that we lived on the route of a new light-rail system and a major bus thoroughfare, and we really didn’t need a vehicle,” Mr. Needham said. He said he, his wife Alyscia, and their 18-month-old daughter have been without a car for about a year.

Mr. Needham rides the 11-mile Green Line, which since opening in June has attracted around 36,000 riders on a typical weekday, a number that is already approaching the 41,000 projected for the line by 2030, said Drew Kerr, a spokesman for Metro Transit, the city’s transportation agency. The line cost $957 million to build, half of which was funded by the federal government, Mr. Kerr said. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/us/despite-cheaper-gas-public-transit-ridership-is-up-trade-group-reports.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0



Texas won’t turn blue from the top down, but it may already be doing so from the ground up.


from In These Times:


Texas: The Blue Frontier
Texas won’t turn blue from the top down, but it may already be doing so from the ground up.

BY THEO ANDERSON


Have you heard the one about turning Texas blue?

It may seem like a joke after the midterm elections. Wendy Davis, the Democrats’ once-promising candidate for governor, got only 39 percent, and Republicans increased their majority in the state legislature.

Still, it’s easy to see why 33,000 volunteers gave their time last fall to Battleground Texas, a get-out-the-vote effort to deliver the Lone Star State to the Democrats. Though Texas ranks second to California in Electoral College votes, 55 to 38, no state looms as large on the U.S. political horizon. For conservatives, Texas embodies everything that makes America great. For progressives, it delivers one outsized and calamitous politician after another.

The idea that Democrats might “flip” the crown jewel of American conservatism has been great entertainment for pundits, whose speculation smacks of Christian end-times prophesying. Will it happen by 2024? Sooner? Ever? The New Republic published a classic of the genre in 2013, offering “eight charts explain(ing) why ‘blue Texas’ won’t happen.” Jon Stewart’s Daily Show piled on last fall, comparing Democrats who think they can win Texas to a guy who believes he can “flip” a lesbian: “I just need time!”

Talk of flipping Texas generally centers on its role in presidential elections, because adding it to the list of safely blue states would guarantee Democrats a lock on the executive branch. The discussion hinges on the state’s demographics. In 2013, the population was about 44 percent white, 38 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent African-American. By 2020, the white and Hispanic share of the population will be roughly equal, at 41 percent. Democrats typically get at least 90 percent of the African-American vote and about two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in residential elections, which means that Texas should turn blue in 2020—all things being equal. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17443/texas_the_blue_frontier



Interesting how the NY PBA head's initial public reaction to the officer shootings .......

....... wasn't to appeal for peace and unity in the city, or to call for calm, or to comfort the families, but to declare some sort of jihad against protestors.
Dissent is the enemy!!!! ...... Sadly, I think it speaks volumes about the times we live in.


Why is No One Fighting the New Robber Barons?


from Naked Capitalism:


Why is No One Fighting the New Robber Barons?
Posted on December 22, 2014 by Yves Smith


Last week, Bill Moyers interviewed historian Steve Fraser on what he calls our Second Gilded Age. Despite the anodyne title of the segment, The New Robber Barons, it was really about why the American public has been so quiescent in the face of rapidly rising income inequality, while during the first Gilded Age, a wide range of groups rebelled against the wealth extraction operation. I encourage you to watch the segment in full or read the transcript.



The constraints of the show meant that Fraser could only sketch out some of his ideas. Here are some that stood out:

STEVE FRASER: I think we underestimate the degree to which the politics of fear operates in our society and in our economy. If you’re living– look at us now. The dominant form of employment, or what is becoming the dominant form of employment in our economy today is contingent, casual, precarious labor, without any protections. No security at the job. No fringe benefits. You’re at the mercy of your employer and an economy that’s in chronic flux. Pensions have been stripped away. The social safety net has been shredded to a very significant degree. When you’re faced with that kind of situation naturally you have to think twice about whether you’re going to fight back.

BILL MOYERS: What about this notion of, you know, I’m an individual. I’m standing against the wave of history. I can, I may have hard luck, I may be oppressed, but I can reinvent myself. And that fable of American life is very powerful.

STEVE FRASER: It’s very powerful.

BILL MOYERS: The business press in particular. Infatuated with these people.

STEVE FRASER: Yeah, and every man was going to be a speculator and make it rich. And do it on his own. Do it on his own is the key thing. How are you going to get collective resistance if everybody dreams instead of their own individual ascent into the imperium, you know, realm of wealth and power? And so that it’s kind of like a fable of democratic capitalism. That is capitalism as a democracy of the audacious who will make it on their own, while in fact most of the people are headed in the opposite direction.

And it allows people whose real life is tied to this highly impermanent, unstable economy think of that as a good thing. As a form of freedom. I’m going to reinvent myself. Okay, I can’t count on my employer to hire me on any permanent basis. I can’t count on that kind of envelope of fringe benefits that’s going to protect me and my family. Good. I’m going to reinvent myself as a kind of freelancing, free agent, you know, mini Jamie Dimon. And this became persuasive to a certain segment of our population. And so it’s also part of the fables of freedom that I think have conduced to acquiescence.

BILL MOYERS: Fables?

STEVE FRASER: Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: Of freedom?

STEVE FRASER: Yes. One of them is this notion of the free agent. That he’s out there and he’s going to reinvent himself. Another fable of freedom is an old one but it’s taken on new and very telling life in our time. And that is the fable that you can escape and be free privately through consumer culture. That that is the pathway to liberation. And that has always offered itself up all through the 20th century as a way of escape.

I don’t mean to minimize the importance of material wellbeing for people and the need to live a civilized life. To have what you need to live a civilized life. The material things you need. But we have advanced way beyond that. And we deal in fantasy to an extreme degree. And it’s very hard to resist this because the media in all of its various forms presents an image of the country which we’re all supposed to respect, admire and strive for which is at variance with the underlying social and economic reality that millions upon millions of people live.


Yves here. I suspect the idea that Americans are addled by fear will resonate with a lot of readers. I don’t see it simply as a function of how precarious jobs and businesses have become, but more as an established feature of American culture that is becoming more and more evident as social stresses rise. For an advanced economy (as in one with a lot of specialized work roles and internal mobility), this country has a deep seated conformist streak. One is expected to be upbeat, pleasant, and uncontroversial. Strong personalities and eccentricities are not well tolerated unless you are in an alpha position. The US does not have much of a working class intellectual culture and bohemianism is similarly frowned upon (if you doubt that idea, think of how many of your peers would be happy if their kids’ career plans consisted of, say, working in a bike repair shop so they could make rent money while they toiled away on their paintings or great novel). In other words, for large swathes of the public, even before American society became openly Hobbesian, status competition was important. That creates pressure to adhere to adhere to models that are advantageous, or at least don’t work to your detriment.

The second is his discussion of how the free agent model is celebrated. I contend that the real issue is atomization. People no longer have much involvement in their communities due to increasing workplace demands and two-earner families. And with job tenures short, the workplace isn’t much of a community either. When citizens have little or no connection with a community, and even less with community organizations, they are less likely to think about or know how to create new organizations to redress social wrongs. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/12/no-one-fighting-new-robber-barons.html


Chris Hedges: Banning Dissent in the Name of Civility


from truthdig:



by Chris Hedges


I had been invited to talk next April 3 at the University of Pennsylvania at a peace conference sponsored by the International Affairs Association, but last week after Truthdig published my column “ISIS—the New Israel” the lecture agency that set up the event received this email from Zachary Michael Belnavis, who is part of the student group:

"We’re sorry to inform you that we don’t think that Chris Hedges would be a suitable fit for our upcoming peace conference. We’re saying this in light of a recent article he’s written in which he compares the organization ISIS to Israel (here’s the article in question). In light of this comparison we don’t believe he would be suitable to a co-existence speaker based on this stance he’s taken."


Being banned from speaking about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, especially at universities, is familiar to anyone who attempts to challenge the narrative of the Israel lobby. This is not the first time one of my speaking offers has been revoked and it will not be the last. However, the charge of Belnavis and the International Affairs Association that I do not believe in coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel is false. I oppose violence by either party. I have condemned Hamas rocket attacks as war crimes. And I support Israel’s right to exist within the pre-1967 borders. The charge that I oppose coexistence cannot be substantiated by anything I have said or written. And those of us who call on Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders are, after all, only demanding what is required by international law and numerous U.N. resolutions.


But truth, along with an open and fair debate, is the last thing the Israel lobby and its lackeys seek. The goal is to silence students, faculty members and outside speakers who do not read from the approved script. The decades-long persecution of the courageous scholar Norman Finkelstein, which has included repeatedly successful campaigns by the Israel lobby to get him removed from university teaching positions, is accompanied by efforts to discredit fearless writers on Israel such as Max Blumenthal, the author of “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.” Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, and Blumenthal are Jews. And Jews who demand justice for the Palestinians—Jews often make up sizable parts of college groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine—are attacked with a particular vindictiveness by propagandists for Israel.

Our universities, like our corporate-controlled airwaves, are little more than echo chambers for the elites and the powerful. The bigger and more prestigious the university the more it seems determined to get its students and faculty to chant in unison to please its Zionist donors. Student groups that resist are often banned, as has happened to numerous chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, including one at Northeastern University. Some are denied meeting spaces, and at times student activists are prohibited from participating in any campus student organizations—even those that have nothing to do with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Many students have been made to attend re-education seminars run by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Criticism of Israel is equated with anti-Semitism. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/banning_dissent_in_the_name_of_civility_20141221



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