Category: capitalism crimes

VA Decides to Continue Lethal Canine Experiments

The US government has decided to continue controversial experiments on dogs, despite critics in congress and elsewhere attacking the experiments as cruel and unnecessary.
 
The department for veterans affairs (VA) has approved the continuation of the testing, which it says will help doctors find new ways to treat wounded soldiers, according to USA Today
 
Researchers running the experiments will remove sections of the dogs’ brains that control breathing, sever spinal cords to test cough reflexes and implant pacemakers before triggering abnormal heart rhythms. All the dogs involved will ultimately be euthanized. 
 
But controversy is brewing over how exactly the vivisections were approved. When the testing was first exposed by an anti-animal testing group last year – White Coat Waste Project – congress passed a law prohibiting the VA department from conducting them without its secretary’s direct approval.
 
VA spokesman Curt Cashour said that the former VA secretary David Shulkin signed off on continuing the experiments on the day he was fired by Donald Trump in March. 
 
But Shulkin, who lost his job amid allegations he had misspent taxpayer funds on a trip to Europe his wife took in 2017, told the newspaper he had never been asked to restart the dog tests. 
 
Documents are currently showing the VA is currently carrying out nine experiments on dogs at various facilities.  In Cleveland, tests involve using electrodes on dogs’ spinal cords to measure cough reflexes before and after severing the cords.
 
In Richmond, Virginia, experiments include implanting pacemakers in dogs, then inducing abnormal heart rhythms and running the animals on treadmills to test cardiac function before euthanizing them by injection or draining their blood.
 
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is publicly backing the value of canine medical testing at his department, saying the practice could provide potential breakthroughs in treatments for spinal cord injuries and other challenges facing veterans.
 
“We have an opportunity to change the lives of men and women who have been terribly hurt,” Wilkie said in comments at the National Press Club last week. “And until somebody tells me that research does not help in that outcome, then I will continue it.”
 
One of the lawmakers who is trying to pass a bill which would ban the testing, Democrat Dina Titus, said: “It’s not economically sound, they could be looking at new technologies, and morally people just don’t support testing on puppies.”
 
But a review launched by Shulkin before he was fired – on the medical necessity for using canines – has found that dogs are “the only viable model” for the specific experiments, the VA spokesman said. 
 
Nevertheless, the department has also commissioned the National Academy of Sciences to spend $1.3 million to run another study investigating if dogs are really needed for this research.
 
Justin Goodman, the vice president of advocacy and public policy for the White Coat Waste Project, said it was disconcerting that “disconcerting that Secretary Wilkie was brought in to clean up the VA, and yet he is doubling down on a program that has continued to fail veterans, taxpayers and dogs”
 
Veterans’ groups are divided on whether the experiments should continue. The founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organisation said that as long as the research was done “ethically” it could lead to medical breakthroughs.
 
But Paralyzed Veterans of America, which was initially in favor of the VA dog testing, has now changed its mind and said it did not oppose efforts to stop the experiments.
 
The VA, which said that more than 99 per cent of its animal testing involved rats or mice, insisted that dogs remained a necessary part of its research.
 
But when asked what medical progress had come about because of dog testing, the agency’s spokesman could only point to breakthroughs which date back to the 1960s.

Drug Company Raised Price of Opioid Overdose Antidote by 600%

As the nation struggled with the rising number of opioid deaths, a private drug company increased the price of an overdose antidote more than 600 percent, a Senate subcommittee says in a new report.

The increase has cost the federal Medicare and Medicaid health programs more than $142 million since 2014, according the Homeland Security permanent subcommittee on investigations.

Richmond, Virginia-based Kaleo  increased the price of its auto-injectable overdose-reversal drug EVZIO from $575 to $4,100, the subcommittee reported.

The company also changed its sales strategy and encouraged doctors to complete paperwork identifying it as a medically necessary drug, allowing them to bypass potentially cheaper generic versions of naloxone, the subcommittee reported.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who chairs the subcommittee, blasted the price hike.

“The fact that one company dramatically raised the price of its naloxone drug and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in increased drug costs, all during a national opioid crisis, is simply outrageous,” Portman said in a statement.

Kaleo  defended its pricing Monday. The company said its donated kits have saved thousands of lives. It also said it has never turned a profit.

“We believe patients and physicians should have meaningful choices,” the company said in a statement. “There is no doubt, the complexity of our healthcare system has had unintended negative implications for everyone involved, but most importantly, for patients. To this end, we explored viable paths within the current healthcare system to make EVZIO available to patients in a responsible, meaningful and affordable way.”

Naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversal drug available since the early 1970s, has been in great demand to slow an epidemic that kills more Americans every year than motor vehicle crashes. The U.S. Surgeon General and states across the nation have encouraged policies to widely distribute the drug.

Private drug companies have responded to the crisis with newer, easier-to-use versions of the drug.

EVZIO was launched in 2014 at a wholesale price of $575 per kit.

Adapt Pharma gained approval the following year to sale a nasal version of naloxone called Narcan, and set the wholesale price at $125 per kit.

The subcommittee focused on the price of EVZIO because it increased so sharply and because the sales strategy that relied on reimbursement from private and government insurance plans.

The subcommittee said the company relied on a private consultant to implement the new sales strategy, which included dropping contracts with private Medicare plans and Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income and disabled residents.

That decision freed the company from administrative costs and rebate payments.

The company collected an average payment of $609 per kit in 2015. After raising the price and adapting the new sales strategy, the company collected from Medicare an average of $3,854 per kit.

The company paid $10.2 million to the private consultant who suggested the new approach, the subcommittee said.

Amazon Accused of Asking Spanish Police to Force Workers Back to Warehouse Floor and Monitor Productivity

Amazon asked police in Spain to intervene in a mass strike at a warehouse on the outskirts of Madrid, according to local reports.

Close to 90 percent of the workers — almost 1,600 employees — participated in the walkout at Spain’s largest Amazon warehouse in San Fernando de Henares near Madrid, and will continue to strike, Reuters reported.

Amazon is accused of requesting that local police forces stop the strike and force workers back on to the warehouse floor. According to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, supervisors at Amazon even asked police to stay on site during the day to ensure that worker productivity levels remained high.

A source at Spanish union CCOO, which helped coordinate the strikes, told Business Insider that Amazon “wanted to send the police inside the warehouse to push people to work.”

Amazon’s request “dumbfounded” police, according to El Confidencial. “The request was  rejected by the police, who maintained that controlling labor productivity doesn’t fall within its powers,” a police source said.

Amazon denied that it had asked police to intervene in the strike. A spokeswoman told Business Insider:

“Amazon is a responsible business that puts its customers and associates first. We always work with public authorities, including the police, to ensure the safety of our people and our operations.

“However any suggestion that we have used this relationship in an improper way is categorically wrong. Anyone who understands the way businesses and local authorities work will know that these ludicrous suggestions are the worst kind of misinformation.”

However, this is not the first time Amazon has asked police to intervene in Amazon warehouse protests in Spain, El Confidencial notes. When workers went on strike on Prime Day in July, Amazon asked police to guarantee workers access across the picket line and to trucks carrying merchandise. The strikes in July resulted in clashes with police, including some arrests.

Study Suggests 40 Million People Won’t Have Access to Insulin by 2030

As the number of people living with diabetes continues to rise, the access to insulin needed to meet growing demand will fall short, a new study predicts.

By 2030, 79 million adults with type 2 diabetes are expected to need insulin to manage their condition and if current levels of access remain, only half of them will be able to be able to get an adequate supply, according to a modeling study published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Access to the drug must be significantly improved, the researchers warn, particularly in the African, Asian and Oceania regions, which will be most affected.

“These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge,” said Dr. Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University in the US, who led the research.

“Despite the UN’s commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, across much of the world insulin is scarce and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access.”

Insulin is needed to treat all people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes. The latter form of the disease is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity.

Basu’s team set out to explore how rates of diabetes will change over the next 12 years, namely by how much numbers will rise, in order to predict the amount of insulin that will be needed and whether everyone who needs it will have access.

Using data from the International Diabetes Federation and 14 studies to get a picture of type 2 diabetes numbers across 221 countries, the team modeled the burden of type 2 diabetes from 2018 to 2030.

They predicted that, worldwide, the number of adults with type 2 diabetes will rise from 406 million in 2018 to 511 million in 2030. The United States will have the third highest numbers globally, with 32 million people predicted to be living with the condition in 2030.

“The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to aging, urbanization and associated changes in diet and physical activity,” said Basu.

However, not all people with diabetes require insulin. Of that global total of 511 million, 79 million were predicted to be in need of insulin to manage their diabetes — a 20% rise in the demand for insulin — and only 38 million are likely to have access to it based on current resources.

Insulin treatment is expensive and the market is currently dominated by three manufacturers, according to the study.

“Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal,” said Basu.

Welcome To Our Black, Leftist News And Comment Podcast #RoseTwitter

Hey gang.

We didn’t focus so hard on any particular story or topic to make it the core of the show. So we’re titling this one as a good introductory episode to our program in general.

Fisherman Sue Fossil Fuel Companies Over Climate Change

On Wednesday, West Coast crab fishermen filed a lawsuit alleging that 30 fossil fuel companies are to blame for the past several years of delayed seasons and disastrous economic losses due to ocean warming. Specific complaints include strict liability, failure to warn and negligence.

“The scientific linkage between the combustion of fossil fuels and ocean warming, which leads to domoic acid impacts in our fisheries, is clear,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which filed the suit in California State Superior Court in San Francisco on behalf of California and Oregon crab fishermen. “We know it, and it’s time to hold that industry accountable for the damage they’ve caused.”

West Coast crab fishermen have experienced significant losses during the past three years, starting in the 2015-16 season when massive algal blooms caused by warm ocean temperatures resulted in a domoic acid outbreak that caused a months-long delay. The season was partially delayed again during the 2016-17 season for the same reason.

In California, Dungeness crab brought in over $47 million in 2017 and $83 million in 2016; the amount was down to $17 million in 2015, during the industry’s first major problem with domoic acid. Oppenheim said that that the 2015-16 closure cost the industry $110 million in lost revenue. There are nearly 1,000 Dungeness crab permit holders in California and Oregon.

This year, the commercial season is opening on time — Nov. 15 — but only south of Bodega Bay to the Mexican border. It will remain closed north of Bodega Head because domoic acid is showing up in crabs tested by the California Department of Public Health in certain parts of the north coast.

“Even though this year we’ve dodged a bullet, we still have a closed area, we’re still seeing hot tests,” said Oppenheim. “It could be that this year there could be a financial impact as well.”

In Oregon, the area of the coast that borders California has been closed to commercial and sports fishing since October because of domoic acid.

The lawsuit filed by the firm Sher Edling claims that the defendants, which include Chevron and Exxon Mobil, have known about the harm caused by climate change, including warming oceans, for 50 years.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions. Lawsuits like this — filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life — simply do not do that,” said Scott J. Silvestri, corporate media relations manager of Exxon Mobil Corp., in an email.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland also filed lawsuits against five oil companies earlier this year, seeking to recover the cost of paying for seawalls to fend off sea-level rise. Those lawsuits were thrown out by a federal judge in June, who said that courts couldn’t decide who should be held accountable for as an issue as big as climate change.

In October, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations successfully sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Association to protect salmon and steelhead trout populations in the Columbia River basin from warm water temperatures caused by dams and climate change.

Aetna Forced to Pay 25 Million After Refusing Treatment for Cancer Patient

An Oklahoma jury has awarded $25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient denied coverage by Aetna, with jurors saying that the insurer acted “recklessly” and Aetna doctors didn’t spend enough time reviewing Orrana Cunningham’s case, The Oklahoman reported.

The jury ruled that Aetna recklessly disregarded its duty to deal fairly and in good faith with Cunningham, who had nasopharyngeal cancer. The award is believed to be the largest verdict in an individual “bad faith” insurance case in Oklahoma history, one court observer said, and could have major ramifications across the country for a form of cancer treatment called proton beam therapy.


The case revolved around the 2014 denial of coverage for Orrana Cunningham, who had stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer near her brain stem. Her doctors wanted her to receive proton beam therapy, a targeted form of radiation that could pinpoint her tumor without the potential for blindness or other side effects of standard radiation, but an Aetna doctor denied coverage deeming the treatment to be too experimental.

Aetna is considering whether to appeal. Company attorney John Shely said the insurer tries to do the right thing.

“If it’s in our control to change, that’s what we’re going to do,” Shely said. “Aetna has learned something here.”

An Aetna doctor denied Cunningham coverage for proton beam therapy in 2014, deeming it experimental, and two other in-house doctors reviewed and upheld the decision.

Aetna attorney John Shely said in closing arguments that the insurance giant was proud of the three medical directors who denied coverage, even turning to thank them as they sat in the front row of the courtroom.
Ron Cunningham, Orrana’s husband, said this week’s verdict was vindication for the suffering his wife went through. She had filed the initial paperwork to sue Aetna, saying that if her case helped save the life of one person, it would be worth it.

“My wife started the case, and I’m just finishing the fight,” he said. “We did her proud. My wife wanted to make sure that it got out. Her comment was ‘if we could just save one person.’

Cunningham said he had another encounter in court. He said John Shely, Aetna’s lead attorney, walked up to him and congratulated him after the verdict before telling him he’d lose on appeal.

U.N. Calls Homeless Crisis in San Francisco and Oakland ‘inhumane’

– A United Nations expert on housing explicitly singled out San Francisco and Oakland as the only two U.S. cities that are part of a “global scandal,” describing homeless encampments there as “cruel and inhumane.”

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Canadian attorney Lelani Farha, presented her 23-page report on Oct. 18 in New York at the U.N. General Assembly after touring the world and visiting the Bay Area in January.

She also visited Berkeley and Los Angeles, but did not mention those cities in her report. On Tuesday, Bay Area housing activists held a rally at Oakland City Hall to discuss the findings.

Farha issued 31 recommendations, namely earmarking enough money for the homeless, making sure building materials are affordable, prohibiting discrimination and stopping the eviction of homeless people and the criminalization of their behavior.

“I visited California and saw firsthand the human rights’ violations being experienced by people who are homeless,” Farha wrote. “They are the victims of failed policies—not the perpetrators of crime.”

Farha said she learned a great deal touring encampments and drop-in facilities serving homeless people.

“The community repeatedly expressed that they simply wanted to be treated as human beings. It is dehumanizing, demoralizing, and unjust to criminalize hundreds of thousands of people due to their housing status,” she wrote in her report.

Farha noted that there was major rat infestation in Mumbai, India due to a lack of waste removal. In Belgrade, Ireland she saw children playing on garbage piles as if they were trampolines. In Lisbon, Africa, people had no electricity. And in California, she wrote, people had no access to toilets or showers and lived in fear of being “cleared off the streets.”

“In North American countries, I’ve visited encampments under highway overpasses deliberately deprived of portable toilets that are subject to having their tents and belongings swept away at any time,” she said in a statement.

Oakland has between 1,900 to nearly 3,000 homeless people in a city of about 425,000 and San Francisco has at least 7,500 in a city of about one million.

City leaders in San Francisco, Oakland and agencies including Caltrans and BART, who own property where homeless people live, have said that they have no choice but to periodically make camps move so that areas can be cleaned and sanitized. Officials worry about hepatitis outbreaks or other dangers, in addition to mountains of garbage that build up near the camps.

In Oakland on Wednesday, a small group of homeless people were ordered to pack up their belongings and tents and vacate the pathway at Lake Merritt near the estuary channel. A man told KTVU that the group was told to relocate to a shelter by the Kaiser Convention Center but that the center was already full.

Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that crews went to Lake Merritt to clean up overflowing garbage from the homeless residents living in the 20 Tuff Sheds the city put recently, but the situation got “confrontational” and the work wasn’t able to be completed. But, she added, that the city needs to remove the other, non-sanctioned camps. She said that the city is providing other “shelter options” in the Tuff Sheds, which are now called the “Lake Merritt Community Cabins,”, where there are 14 spaces available, or beds at St. Vincent de Paul.

Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd said that crews went to Lake Merritt to clean up overflowing garbage from the homeless residents living in the 20 Tuff Sheds the city put recently, but the situation got “confrontational” and the work wasn’t able to be completed. But, she added, that the city needs to remove the other, non-sanctioned camps. She said that the city is providing other “shelter options” in the Tuff Sheds, which are now called the “Lake Merritt Community Cabins,”, where there are 14 spaces available, or beds at St. Vincent de Paul.

Farha is the executive director of the NGO, Canada without Poverty, based in Ottawa. For the last 20 years, she has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. She is part of the U.N. Human Rights fact-finding team.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the U.N. on Dec. 10, 1948 and rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Farha gave a deadline of 2030 so that the world will stop “accepting the unacceptable.”

Alexandria Broke-Asio Cortez And The Cameroon Kidnapping Update

Morning Wine Cellar.

Hey Gang.
We open up with a brief riff on folks voting in their interests.
From there, we jump over to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez being Melinnial AF.
And we close out in Cameroon.

Hey gang.
We need to get our YouTube up to 4,000 subscribers before we can apply to monetize.
Help if you can.
Thank you.
https://www.youtube.com/user/WilliamAllikzander/videos

PODCAST AUDIO LINK

Pupils put under ‘school arrest’ by government after release from kidnapping allowed to go home

Schoolchildren in Cameroon pictured after being released from kidnapping
 The schoolchildren at the governor’s office in Bamenda after being released from their kidnappers. Photograph: Reuters

Dozens of students who were freed from kidnappers only to be put under effective “school arrest” by the Cameroonian government have been reunited with their parents.

The governor of the north-west region had insisted lessons go on after their capture, and security personnel were deployed to Nkwen Presbyterian secondary school in Bamenda, stopping parents from removing their children on Thursday.

After lobbying from angry and upset parents, and a gun battle that broke out outside their classrooms, the children were allowed home.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Can’t Afford to Rent a DC Apartment Until Her Congressional Salary Starts

Would you be able to rent a D.C. apartment if you didn’t get paid for three months? Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she can’t.

The New York millennial told The New York Times in a story published Wednesdaythat she needs to wait until her congressional salary kicks in to get an apartment in D.C., which ranks among the most expensive cities in the country for renters.

Tariq Nasheed Rewrites Martin Luther King’s History To Lay Out His Policy Agenda

PODCAST AUDIO LINK

Motel 6 to Pay Up to $7.6 Million After Reporting Guests to Immigration Authorities

Motel 6 to Pay Up to $7.6 Million After Reporting Guests to Immigration Authorities
AP, File
A Motel 6 motel is seen Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. Washington’s attorney general is suing Motel 6, saying the budget hotel disclosed the personal information of thousands of guests to federal immigration authorities in violation of state law. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said at a news conference Wednesday that the motel divulged to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement the names, dates of birth, license plate numbers and room numbers of more than 9,000 guests at six locations throughout the state.

Analysis in BMJ Global Health suggests dramatic decline in number of girls undergoing the practice, yet experts advise caution over the figures

 

Health.

Students in Hargeisa, SomalilandThe study, which looked at rates of FGM among girls aged 14 and under, suggests that prevalence in east Africa has dropped from 71.4% in 1995, to 8% in 2016.

The reported falls in the rates of FGM are far greater than prev

ious studies have suggested, though some in the development community have advised caution over the figures.

 

Justice Ginsburg hospitalized after fracturing ribs in fall

 

The making of a judicial phenomenon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg marks 25 years on the bench Washington (CNN)Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs after falling in her Supreme Court office Wednesday night, the Supreme Court said in a statement.

According to the court, Ginsburg, 85, experienced discomfort after going home following the fall and was admitted to George Washington University Thursday morning for observation and treatment.
How RBG became an equal rights icon 01:00
Ginsburg, who became the second woman to serve on the high court following her appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has become a progressive and pop culture icon.

Why a Poor People’s Campaign?

Just a year before his assassination, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat in May 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights…[W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement…That after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution…In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.

The night before his assassination in April 1968, Martin Luther King told a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee: “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through” (King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” 217). King believed the struggle in Memphis exposed the need for economic equality and social justice that he hoped his Poor People’s Campaign would highlight nationally.

SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR ADULTS
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