Tom Paxton sings “I Am Changing My Name to Fannie Mae”

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Senators Question Deals to Block Generic Lipitor

Corporate Greed Pigs don’t mind gouging the ill to buy their fucking luxuries.  The Drug Companies are the worst.

From The New York Times:

Published: December 1, 2011

Three senators on Wednesday asked the drug maker Pfizer and five other health companies to detail their agreements to block prescriptions of generic versions of the cholesterol drug Lipitorand sell only the Pfizer brand-name version.

The action came as the patent expired on Lipitor, the best-selling drug in history.

Pfizer has taken unprecedented actions to preserve market share during the next six months, while generic competition is limited and prices remain fairly high. Pfizer is offering discounts to companies that will reject generic prescriptions and substitute Lipitor.

While some companies say they will save money, others do not. The senators said they were concerned about longer term impacts on employers, Medicare and health care costs.

“We need to take a close look to ensure we’re protecting both taxpayer dollars and access to the medicine patients need,” Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a statement released with the senators’ letters.

The letters were signed by Senators Baucus, a Montana Democrat; Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican; and Herb Kohl, the Wisconsin Democrat who is chairman of the Special Committee on Aging.

“Consumers and taxpayers foot the bill when drug benefit companies and insurers manipulate the marketplace to prevent access to generic drugs for millions of Americans,” Senator Kohl said in the statement.

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Welcome to the living dead economy

From The Guardian UK:

A eurozone that somehow stays afloat but can’t be reformed, banks awash with cash that don’t lend, and incoherent economic policy. We’ve only found a sticking-plaster solution to our crisis

Posted by: Economics editor
Sunday 4 December

The longer the economic crisis goes on, the less credible sticking plaster solutions become. Four years in, Europe is heading into a nasty recession, China is flirting with a hard landing, the governor of the Bank of England is warning of a systemic banking crisis and George Osborne has announced spending cuts that will continue for the next six years. The United States is the one part of the world where the news has been better recently, with signs of life returning to the housing market and a welcome fall in unemployment.

What’s happening in America – where the Federal Reserve has used two rounds of quantitative easing (QE) to boost the money supply and announced its intention to keep interest rates low – has encouraged the belief that recovery will eventually come, provided the policy response is big enough for long enough.

It remains to be seen whether this is indeed the case, since there have been false dawns galore since the financial system froze in 2007. The real strength of the US economy will be revealed early next year, when tax breaks supporting consumption and investment are removed and when the world’s biggest economy starts to feel the impact of the slowdown on this side of the Atlantic.

Deadly limbo

An alternative way of looking at the crisis goes like this. We now inhabit a world of the living dead: a eurozone that will not collapse but cannot be reformed; banks that are kept alive by gigantic quantities of electronically generated cash but do not lend; homeowners who are sitting in homes worth more than they paid for them but are able to stay put because interest rates are so low and lenders have no desire to crystallise losses, and policy that is neither one thing nor the other.

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The Republicans’ Farcical Candidates: A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses

From Der Spiegel:

A Commentary by Marc Pitzke
December 1, 2011

The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein. The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country’s reputation.

Africa is a country. In Libya, the Taliban reigns. Muslims are terrorists; most immigrants are criminal; all Occupy protesters are dirty. And women who feel sexually harassed — well, they shouldn’t make such a big deal about it.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the US Republicans. Or rather, to the twisted world of what they call their presidential campaigns. For months now, they’ve been traipsing around the country with their traveling circus, from one debate to the next, one scandal to another, putting themselves forward for what’s still the most powerful job in the world.

As it turns out, there are no limits to how far they will stoop.

It’s true that on the road to the White House all sorts of things can happen, and usually do. No campaign can avoid its share of slip-ups, blunders and embarrassments. Yet this time around, it’s just not that funny anymore. In fact, it’s utterly horrifying.

It’s horrifying because these eight so-called, would-be candidates are eagerly ruining not only their own reputations and that of their party, the party of Lincoln lore. Worse: They’re ruining the reputation of the United States.


They lie. They cheat. They exaggerate. They bluster. They say one idiotic, ignorant, outrageous thing after another. They’ve shown such stark lack of knowledge — political, economic, geographic, historical — that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein and even cause their fellow Republicans to cringe.

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Eurozone was flawed from the start, says Jacques Delors

From The Guardian UK:

The former European commission president says errors when the euro was created made the current crisis inevitable

and agencies
, Saturday 3 December 2011

One of the architects of the euro, Jacques Delors, has said the eurozone was flawed from the start and that efforts to tackle its problems have been “too little, too late”.

Delors, the former president of the European commission, said errors made when the euro was created had made the current economic crisis inevitable.

European leaders in the 1990s had chosen to turn a blind eye to the economic weaknesses of some member states, and the response now the issues had surfaced had generally been inadequate, he told the Telegraph.

All European countries had to share the blame for excessive borrowing by countries such as Italy and Greece that had brought the system to the brink of disaster, Delors added.

“Everyone must examine their consciences,” he said.

His remarks came as France and Germany edged towards closer fiscal union to avoid a potentially disastrous collapse of the single currency.

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West Coast port shutdown announcement

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The Weight of Walmart (Infographic)

From Frugal Dad:

Published with the permission of Adam Jacob of Frugal Dad

December 1, 2011

After reading your comments about the Amazon Infographic that we released two weeks ago (check it out here if you haven’t seen it), it got me thinking about just how big Walmart could be. So I started researching Walmart and found the information to be unbelievable…but, it makes sense since this Black Friday shoppers turned out to Walmart in record breaking droves. Within hours of Thanksgiving night opening, thousands uploaded videos online of the spectacular struggles over cheap TVs, waffle makers and baby clothes.

In the heat of the holiday shopping season, I’m taking a moment to consider where I spend my hard earned money. You might be familiar with the status: Walmart’s the largest grocery store in the U.S., the largest retailer in the world, the leader in global corporate revenue and the largest employer in existence. Still, these facts don’t do much to demonstrate the reach of this superpower.

Check out our graphic demonstrating the Weight of Walmart, and if you find the statistics as shocking as we do, please share it with everyone you know:

Walmart Infographic


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Farmers, Foodies, Radical Homemakers: Time to Occupy Wall Street

From Yes Magazine:

Shannon Hayes: I’m usually content to live a life of protest, but the time has come to take my protest to the street.

by Shannon Hayes
posted Dec 02, 2011

As a rule, I don’t do protests. I don’t occupy anything, except my home and the farm. I am a country girl, and the key to living a happy agrarian existence lies in having a certain personality type: I’m a recluse at heart. I can stay home for weeks on end and never crave to see a soul. Living in the sticks, that’s a good thing. It is this personality trait that enables farmers to do what they do.

…Which is not to say that I disagree with protests, political uprisings, or the like. But rather than join demonstrations and marches, I usually choose to make my voice heard in a different way. I live my opposition. I don’t like the consumer culture, so I live a life that largely excludes it. I don’t like the rapacious nature of industrial agriculture, so I live and work to steward the land in a way that honors Mother Earth. Rather than protest for a day, a few weeks, or a few months, I protest with my life energy that there is a different and better way.

But I do support protesting. In fact, I support it wholeheartedly, and I am grateful for those who have the courage to do it. But my personality type leaves me utterly petrified at the idea of joining a crowd and adding my physical presence to the masses. I am nervous in cities, skittish in crowds, wary of large organized gatherings. And that’s the reason I haven’t joined Occupy Wall Street. I have other excuses, too. I’ve got little kids at home, food to cook, sausages to make, turkeys to sell, farmers’ markets to attend…I am so busy living my life of protest that I really don’t have time to protest.

I agree with the movement. I am part of the 99% in two ways: First, I don’t share ranks with the wealthiest 1%, and second, I am part of the silent majority that agrees with the protesters but has not made my way to an occupation to show my support for those who are making our voices heard.

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Bleeding Britain

From The New York Times:

Paul Krugman
November 30, 2011

These days, ambulance-chaser economists like yours truly have an embarrassment of riches: so much is going wrong, in so many places, that one hardly knows where to start.

But let’s spare a moment for a disaster that’s being overshadowed by the euro crisis: Britain’s experiment in austerity.

When the Cameron government came in, it was fully invested in the doctrine of expansionary austerity. Officials told everyone to read the Alesina/Ardagna paper (which is succinctly criticized by Christy Romer (pdf)), cited Ireland as a success story, and in general assured everyone that they could call the confidence fairy from the vasty deep.

Now it turns out that contractionary policy is contractionary after all. As a result, despite all the austerity, deficits remain high. So what is to be done? More austerity!

Underlying the drive for even more austerity is the belief that the underlying economic potential of the British economy has fallen sharply, and will grow only slowly from now on. But why? There’s a discussion in the Office for Budget Responsibility report, p. 54, that basically throws up its hands — hey, these things happen after financial crises, it says, and cites an IMF report (pdf).

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“Alternative” cancer clinic threatens to sue high school blogger

From Discover:

Phil Plait

Everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another. If you haven’t had it yourself, the odds are extremely high you know someone who has, and who has died from it. I’ve lost loved ones to cancer, and it’s awful; it can take years filled with tests, hope, lack of hope, expensive therapy… and in the end the odds are what they are. It all makes for desperate times for those involved, with an emotional distress level that is beyond my ability to describe.

There are people out there who claim they can cure cancer, or have therapies that can mediate it. Some of these people are simply con artists, ready to swoop in as soon as they smell blood in the water, vermin that they are. Others are honest but wrong, thinking they have stumbled on some therapy that no one else has found. However, time and again, when these alternative methods are tested rigorously using controlled, properly done studies, they are shown not to work. In general this does not stop people from making the claims, however.

In Houston, Texas, is a man named Stanislaw Burzynski. He claims he has a method for treating cancer. He calls it antineoplaston therapy. However, according to the National Cancer Institute, “No randomized, controlled trials showing the effectiveness of antineoplastons have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.” That’s a bad sign. Furthermore, the FDA has not approved of antineoplaston therapy for use. Also telling is that “… other investigators have not been able to obtain the same results reported by Dr. Burzynski and his team”. Yet, despite this, Burzynski charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for people to get his therapy — though he has to say they’re participating in research trials, since the FDA won’t allow him to use his ideas as an actual treatment.

Those are red flags, to be sure.

However, I am not an expert on cancer, so I rely on the advice and expertise of others. Dr. Steve Novella, who certainly is an expert both in medicine and the misuses thereof, has some choice words about Burzynski and his ideas. So does David Calquhoun, a British pharmacologist. So does — at great length and detail — Dr. David Gorski, and so does the website Quackometer (and again here as well) and so does the Cancer Research UK Science blog.

Most importantly, so does Rhys Morgan. Who’s that? He’s a 17-year-old high school student who has blogged about Burzynski, in a factually stated but highly critical manner. So what did Burzynski’s clinic do?

They threatened to sue.

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Christo-Fascist Linda Harvey Dismisses Reaction To Brutal Assault As “Pitching A Fit” Over “So-Called Homophobia”

From Right Wing Watch:

Linda Harvey of Mission America today accused gays and lesbians of “pitching a fit” and “constantly complaining” in order to promote “radical social change” and “destroy traditional values.” “Even if your cause is unworthy and your complaints have little merit, the way the media works today, you’ll still get publicity and it will seem as though you will need to be taken seriously,” Harvey said, who went on to argue that “homosexual activists” are using “baseless” cases of discrimination in order to squash the “constitutional religious or free speech liberties of other people.”

The first case Harvey cited were the demonstrations that took place near a private Christian school in Delaware, Ohio, after the school removed a Columbus radio talk show host from their prominent alumni page because he is openly gay, with the principal saying, “I cannot approve of the lifestyle he has chosen to endorse.”

Harvey’s second example of gays and lesbians “making a fuss” and “pitching a fit” was the recent brutal attack of an openly gay fifteen year-old student at a high school in Chillicothe, Ohio. The ABC affiliate WSYX posted video of the attack, which was captured on another student’s cellphone, and interviewed the victim and his mom who detailed the history of anti-gay bullying at the school. Just two days before he the assault, the perpetrator posted on his Facebook, “check out the definition of a faggot.”

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Jew-Hatred Appears in Conspiracy Theories, Anti-Americanism, Lesser-Evilism, and Single-Issue Thinking

From The Marxist Humanist Initiative:

September 19, 2011

We are compelled to denounce the ancient practice of blaming Jewish people for the world’s ills, because anti-Semitism (as prejudice and discrimination against Jews is commonly called) has been rearing its ugly head—within the U.S. Left. The incident we just experienced began August 29, when the administrator of a feminist email list sent around a virulently anti-Semitic video which, in the process of supporting ousted Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, blamed global poverty and injustice on the Rothschild banking family. Only a few of the 100 people on the email list responded, even after we immediately pointed out and denounced the content of the video. Then we were shocked again by the tepid nature of some of the responses.

For centuries, racism against Jews has been integral to the cultures of Europe, many Muslim-majority countries, and the Americas. It waxes and wanes, but is especially strong in times of economic woes, for which Jews are always a convenient scapegoat. They are “outsiders” to the dominant religions, nationalities, and ethnic groups; Jewish merchants make visible targets; and Jewish “cosmopolitans” are portrayed as the agents of capitalism and modernity. For the same reasons, anti-Semitism has been a mainstay of conspiracy theories for centuries––conspiracies in which Jews secretly run the world.

Throughout the racist history of the U.S., Jews have been associated with Afro-Americans and gays for attack. Today, common misconceptions persist that all Jews are rich and that they control the U.S. media and Hollywood. However, overt anti-Semitism is seen infrequently outside the racist Right, at least as compared to the number of physical attacks on Jews and synagogues that occur regularly in France, Germany, Argentina, and elsewhere. And we do not expect the Left to find it acceptable. (For information about Left anti-Semitism today, see and the sources listed there, including

We are well aware that the Left can turn into the Right, as happened in Nazi Germany, and that racism, including anti-Semitism, flourishes in times like these. We urge the Left to expose and oppose anti-Semitism, along with all forms of racism and xenophobia, and to root them out of Left thought, along with the theories that support them.

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A Secret Scandal

From Slate:

The government and the big banks deceived the public about their $7 trillion secret loan program. They should be punished.

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Imagine you walked into a bank, applied for a personal line of credit, and filled out all the paperwork claiming to have no debts and an income of $200,000 per year. The bank, based on these representations, extended you the line of credit. Then, three years later, after fighting disclosure all the way, you were forced by a court to tell the truth: At the time you made the statements to the bank, you actually were unemployed, you had a $1 million mortgage on your house on which you had failed to make payments for six months, and you hadn’t paid even the minimum on your credit-card bills for three months. Do you think the bank would just say: Never mind, don’t worry about it? Of course not. Whether or not you had paid back the personal line of credit, three FBI agents would be at your door within hours.

Yet this is exactly what the major American banks have done to the public. During the deepest, darkest period of the financial cataclysm, the CEOs of major banks maintained in statements to the public, to the market at large, and to their own shareholders that the banks were in good financial shape, didn’t want to take TARP funds, and that the regulatory framework governing our banking system should not be altered. Trust us, they said. Yet, unknown to the public and the Congress, these same banks had been borrowing massive amounts from the government to remain afloat. The total numbers are staggering: $7.7 trillion of credit—one-half of the GDP of the entire nation. $460 billion was lent to J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley alone—without anybody other than a few select officials at the Fed and the Treasury knowing. This was perhaps the single most massive allocation of capital from public to private hands in our history, and nobody was told. This was not TARP: This was secret Fed lending. And although it has since been repaid, it is clear why the banks didn’t want us to know about it: They didn’t want to admit the magnitude of their financial distress.

The banks’ claims of financial stability and solvency appear at a minimum to have been misleading—and may have been worse. Misleading statements and deception of this sort would ordinarily put a small-market player or borrower on the wrong end of a criminal investigation.

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Are freeways doomed?

From Salon:

Several cities are tearing down highways, creating bold new public spaces — and building a future without cars

By Will Doig
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011

Everyone freak out: Carmageddon is back. Right now, several U.S. cities are scheming to shut down major freeways — permanently. In the push to take back cities from cars, this is what you’d call throwing down the gauntlet.

The drive to tear down the huge freeways that many blame for the inner-city blight of the ’60s and ’70s is one of the most dramatic signs of the new urban order. Proponents of such efforts have data to show that freeway removal is not at all bizarre, that we can return to human-size streets without causing a gridlock apocalypse. And that may be true. But pulling down these shrines to the automobile also feels like a bold rewriting of America’s 20th-century urban script: Revenge of the Pedestrian. This time it’s personal.

Ready or not, decision time is upon us. Many of these highways were built to last between 40 and 50 years — they’ll soon need to be either repaired or reinvented. “What’s going to happen in the next 10 years when we need to make a big investment to prevent them from collapsing like the one in Minneapolis?” asks John Renne, professor of urban studies at the University of New Orleans.

For some cities, this means a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reclaim a vast amount of downtown land and turn it into the public space of their dreams. A group in St. Louis is agitating for the removal of a one-and-a-half mile stretch of Interstate 70, which would reunite the city center with the Mississippi River and Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch. Advocates there hope that by opening the city’s “front door,” as they call it, for the first time since 1964, they’ll set the stage for a renaissance of St. Louis’ depopulated downtown. Trenton, N.J., has a similar goal, and is looking at converting the four-lane highway that runs along the Delaware River into a vibrant waterfront of parks and buildings. And as New Orleans implements a new master plan for the city following Hurricane Katrina, anything seems possible — including a pitch to tear down the Claiborne Expressway, the freeway that divided several of the city’s historically black neighborhoods when it was erected decades ago. It would be replaced with a vibrant boulevard that reunites those neighborhoods in an infrastructural act of poetic justice.

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