Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Business is Business

Global spending on cancer drugs surges to $100bn

cancer cell©Dreamstime
Global annual spending on cancer drugs has hit $100bn for the first time as the pharmaceuticals industry prepares to launch a fresh generation of treatments that promise to push costs even higher.
The record 2014 figure marks a 10 per cent increase from a year earlier, largely due to rising drug prices and increased incidence of cancer.

Hey, if rising prices coincide with rising incidence, more drugs at even higher prices will mean more cancer, more jobs, more profits ..

aint capitalism great?

Not Ferguson, Baltimore, or the Police: It’s the USA

Once again, a black man innocent of any crime is dead, a city torn by outbursts of anger, but the nation hopefully pushed to acting on a reality. America has many serious problems, high among them de-humanized race relations. But none of those problems are removed from the political economics that make us a nation under the control of minority wealth in a system which enables some to do very well, some not very well, a small minority to live in luxury beyond belief and a larger minority to live in miserable poverty.

To believe that such a place is an exceptional democratic nation striving towards equality for all, as our bi-partisan leadership regularly claims, is to believe the tooth fairy created the world. What has been advertised as an American dream of comfort and security for citizens moves closer to becoming an American nightmare of, at best, unpayable debt for consumers, and at worst, being murdered by public servants.

The latest headlined tragedy in Baltimore should help us concentrate less on simply finding guilty individuals and institutional servants, all of whom can act no differently as long as the present system prevails, and more on total transformation of that system.

In the action taken to charge six officers in the death of Freddy Gray it is notable that three were “people of color” – presently acceptable divisive terminology even if implying they were green or blue - and two were women. This alleged gender and racial balance in the police force is a form of what is called affirmative action, but it did absolutely nothing to affirm the life of Freddie Gray. Changing the skin tone or sex of the work force in the military, at the bank, among our clerks, scientists, cab drivers, teachers or pet trainers does nothing to change the foundation of the system. Integrating our workforce so that more members of one or another minority and one majority sex occupy equal roles in dispensing the wonders, joys and benefits of the market place while also seeing to it that people remain homeless, alienated, poor, and too often, dead, only represent progress and equality to the demented.

Whether we murder people here or in far greater numbers in foreign countries, rest assured their loved ones don’t feel better because members of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, gay, straight or neuter minority may have played a role in killing them.

While Baltimore authorities initially reacted in near panic, calling for martial law over a serious situation that warranted thought and not infantile racism, the charges against the officers brought a measure of reason and an attempt at getting to justice. But the city in which a man was killed after being arrested for an imaginary crime having more to do with what he looked like to the police – three of whom looked like him – has suffered particular economic pain during a time in which Baltimore experienced the fate of many former industrial centers in America.

When corporations moved to cheaper, more profitable foreign labor markets and dumped workers and communities in the USA, we were told by economic servants of capital that manufacturing was an outmoded process no longer necessary. Now we had to develop computers, smart phones and apps to do everything for us and didn’t need old mechanical devices. Sure. So the industries went to foreign countries which also, coincidentally, produce the electronics we use to order pizzas, aim drones, open garage doors before we get home and make coffee before we wake up in the morning. The economic blight that was the fate of places like Detroit and Baltimore reduced once reasonably prosperous areas to near degradation, poverty, high unemployment, low social esteem and crime. This is often written off to racism alone but we need a broader view of america than one defined only by one or another minority, especially when that view excludes the most powerful minority which profits most from social destruction: the wealthiest tiny percentile at the top of the economy.

Given our wretched history of slavery and its generational impact still only dealt with by greeting card slogans and divisive programs, “people of color” suffer most. And even minimal affirmation for some has been accompanied by maximum negation for most.

Great improvement in social status and material standards have been gained through Affirmative Action programs, and these mostly to women even more than the blacks they were originally intended for, but there have been great losses and more suffering for those who continue to receive negative action from the system of private profits for a minority and public loss for most.

The professional and upper middle class population among African Americans – what people of color or blacks are called when they reach that state – has grown but at the same time the population of poor, unemployed, and imprisoned black americans has skyrocketed beyond the numbers that existed even under apartheid racism of the past.

Obama in the white house, blacks in positions of authority in government, in law and at the university mean nothing at all to the black men regularly shot dead in the streets, or in the Baltimore case who die while being taken to jail. Our prisons are so crowded we are among the most jailed population in what is called the civilized world. And the number of those prisoners who have darker skin are out of all proportion to their percentage in the population at large. Race looms very large in this ugly picture, but economics looms even larger and concentration on only one to the exclusion of the other means continued injustice, perhaps unequally distributed but universally felt.

Black lives do indeed matter, but they won’t if we concentrate on the police departments without noticing who and what the departments work for. War does not happen because armies decide to go to foreign countries to kill people and the police are the local armies of capital, composed of good people and bad, like bus drivers, teachers and the rest of us. They work for a living. At least if they have jobs. We need democratic control of that process to make all life matter.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Bulletin..Not From The Garlic..From Major Media!!!

News Alert Sat., May. 02, 2015 6:18 a.m. Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a girl

The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby girl Saturday morning at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London. The princess is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second child and will be fourth in line to the British throne.

Americans were also advised that three thousand dogs and two thousand cats had just been born and videos of their frolics, adventures and psychological crises would be available ASAP.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015: A Voice, Not An Echo

"We are opinionated, yet we cannot offer our opinions. We have a right to the echo, not to the voice, and those who rule praise our talent to repeat parrot fashion. We refuse to accept this mediocrity as our destiny."

-----Eduardo Galeano, opening speech at "Chile Creates," an international meeting in support of Chilean democracy, July 11, 1988

In school, he hated history and was a lousy history student. He wanted to be a soccer player, a saint, and a painter. He abandoned the first two ambitions, and achieved the third only by learning to use words in place of paint.

He always took the side of the doomed, despised, and damned. Even at the height of the Cold War, with shrieking anti-Communist hysteria the norm, he was not afraid to befriend those Washington denounced as satanic. He praised Che Guevara as a man "who said what he thought and did what he said he was going to do," a rare example of moral and intellectual coherence in a world of near total hypocrisy, which in his view redounded to Guevara's perpetual glory. Galeano summed up just how rare an achievement this was by stating that, "In this world, when words and deeds run into each other in the street, they don't say hello, because they don't recognize each other."

He wrote not from duty but from joy, always waiting until "his hand began to itch." Immune to the obsessions of established literary critics, he casually combined literary styles and ignored the (alleged) border between journalism and literature. His most famous work, Open Veins of Latin America, (1971) only won honorable mention in the House of the Americas literary competition because the judges felt that a history book that wasn't boring couldn't be a serious work. Fat, dry tomes dominated the social sciences at the time (they still do), and Galeano's lush and lyrical prose was anything but boring, so he had to settle for a consolation prize.

The book was going nowhere on sales charts - even Galeano's family wasn't reading it - until Latin America's ubiquitous dictatorships did it the honor of banning it. The Uruguayan dictatorship, relatively unpracticed in the repressive arts, lagged behind its authoritarian brothers, mistakenly classifying the book as an anatomy text at first, before making up for lost time by jailing the author along with the book. Upon his release, Galeano fled to Spain, where almost ten years of intense research led to the publication of his magnificent trilogy on the history of the Americas: Memory of Fire. In these microhistories he found his permanent style - richly textured vignettes portraying historical characters and events in the present tense - as though glimpsed through a keyhole. Galeano's vividly creative prose was too much for the jealous guardians of literary boundaries, who classified the English translation of Memory of Fire as fiction, albeit with a bibliography and index.

Serious but never solemn, he wrote with a gentle, leg-pulling humor that forever had a smile playing at the corners of his readers' lips. In his masterpiece, "Upside Down - A Primer For The Looking Glass World," - he opened with a "message to parents" lamenting the loss of "virtue, honor, and truth" in the modern world. The message was from Al Capone. In a vignette about the death of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and the richest man in the world at the time, he wrote that, "In the autopsy, no scruples were detected." Commenting on the fact that cigarette ads in magazines were required to carry the warning, "Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide," whereas highly polluting automobiles were under no similar obligation, Galeano simply said, "People can't smoke. Cars can."

Even horrible scenes, all too familiar in history and politics, could not deflate his good humor, or cause him to avert his gaze. He once paid tribute to the "skill" of the torturers who worked for former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza by highlighting the precision of their work: "Armed with pincers and spoons, these lads can tear out fingernails without breaking the roots and eyes without injuring the lids." Simple denunciation would not capture the horror nearly as well as Galeano's detached irony.

Detached though he might sound, uncommitted he was not. With relentless application (he once re-wrote the entire manuscript of a book eleven times) he dedicated himself to revealing the most painful realities, drawing on a deeply thoughtful joy that became his trademark. Nevertheless, he shunned the title "thinker," as though he were merely a disembodied head, pointing out that he wrote with his whole being, not just from his neck up. He delighted in the name a Colombian fisherman once gave his work - "senti-pensante" - feeling-thinking, which was much more in line with how Galeano regarded himself and his writing. He recognized that, dualistic conventions notwithstanding, thought and feeling cannot ultimately be divorced, and was astute enough to avoid the twin dangers of sentimentality and frigidity, as all too many other writers do not.

The enemy of verbosity and inflated speech, Galeano was aghast at the ever increasing torrents of empty words, and rated "word inflation" even more dangerous than monetary inflation. Brevity became his natural style and irony his habitual tone. This preference for the concise he picked up from his mentor and friend, Uruguayan novelist Juan Carlos Onetti, who helped Galeano early in his career. To lend authority to his literary advice, Onetti used to disguise it as proverbial wisdom: "There is a Chinese proverb that says" . . . or, "according to the Persians" . . . But in reality the sayings were all his. One of his favorites, which Galeano took to heart, was: "The only words that deserve to exist, are those that improve upon the silence."

Onetti taught Galeano to boil his writing down to pure "meat and bone." The immense struggle involved in learning to say more with less is nowhere better illustrated than in Galeano's effort to describe the 19th century love affair between a young woman of Buenos Aires high society (Camila O'Gorman) and her priest (Ladislao Gutierrez), a story he related to sociologist and philosopher Aurelio Alonso in a Havana interview some years ago. The young woman and her priest had fallen madly in love and fled the scandalized capital, only to be captured and executed for "the crime of love."

At the time Galeano was trying to describe the love that had impelled them to their deaths, he had a friend and literary critic living with him, a founder of the Tupamaros who had lost one lung to tuberculosis and most of the second one to the beatings he received after being taken prisoner. The man had a remote rural upbringing and knew nothing of formal literary training, but possessed a fine aesthetic intuition that Galeano greatly appreciated. When he showed him his description of the love affair between the young high society woman and the priest, his friend abruptly dismissed the effort with a gesture of contempt: "There are a lot of pebbles in the lentils. You've got to get those pebbles out of there." So Galeano wrote draft after draft, trying with mounting frustration to capture the scene in words, only to have his friend reject them all: "I still see pebbles in the lentils." Finally, Galeano reached the limit of his patience, and told his friend that the latest version would be the last: "If you don't like this one I won't ask you again, because this is abuse. I wrote six pages and all I've got left is a single sentence." His friend responded, "But what a sentence. You have me to thank for it, because without me you wouldn't have made it." And the sentence that described the love of the young high-society woman and the priest who fled with her to certain death was vintage Galeano:

"They are two by an error that the night corrects."

Now we mourn the man that gave voice to those moving words, a superb writer finally indeed reduced to an echo, though not that of a lickspittle parroting official cliches, but of a free man who spent his life telling the truth.

Let that echo sound long, and loud, and often.


Most of the Galeano quotes are from an interview (in Spanish) with Cuban sociologist Aurelio Alonso on "Countercurrent," published on You Tube 1/7/13

On Somoza's torturers, see Galeano's "Memory of Fire" Vol. 3 (Pantheon, 1988) p. 249

On Galeano's quote regarding the right to a voice instead of an echo, see "We Say No," (Norton, 1992) p. 243

On the love affair between Camila O'Gorman and her priest, see Galeano's "Memory of Fire," Vol. 2, (Pantheon, 1987) pps. 163-4

"Senti-pensante" and "my hand begins to itch," see "Democracy Now," May 19, 2006

Monday, April 6, 2015

Israel Suggests Ways to Make Iran Nuclear Deal ‘More Reasonable’

JERUSALEM — Clearly unsatisfied with assurances from Washington, Israel on Monday listed specific requirements that it said it wanted in any final deal with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.

"We would feel much better if Tehran were bombed , along with Iranian oil fields, nuclear laboratories, food markets, prenatal clinics, schools and other places where future attempts to annihilate the total population of Jewish people on earth might take shape" said spokesperson and American political fundraiser Meyer Lansky Potemkin.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

G.O.P.’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift

Jew hating moronic right wing conservatives suffer panic attacks while Jew loving parasitic liberals freak out over losing financial base.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Millennials More Accepting of Homosexuality Than of Abortion

In a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 42 percent of millennial respondents said sex between two adults of the same gender was morally acceptable, while 37 percent said the same of casual sex. Twenty-four percent said sex between minors was acceptable, and 21 percent said so of abortion.

When asked if they supported abortion for homosexuals, 58% said yes, but only if they were pregnant as a result of having sex with a heterosexual. 

42% favored aborting all millenials.