SDB Later Evening News Reads for 082611: Huntsman, Irene and Sanatorium Science

Wow, what a day, most of our readers in the Northeast are getting ready for some rain, wind and storm surge…

I remember someone asked about the flooding, and if having a new moon was going to be a problem…I think it was Branjor. Well, it looks like it could…Hurricane Irene 2011: Flooding could be made worse by arrival of a new moon | Mail Online

The intensity of Hurricane Irene and the extent of the flooding on the East Coast could be made worse by a new moon and high temperature of water in the Atlantic, scientists warn.

During new and full moons, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arranged in a straight line, with the sun and moon intensifying each other’s gravitational pull on Earth.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters, director of the Weather Underground website, said the result is more severe tidal fluctuations.

That means low tides are lower than usual and high tides are higher.

Due to these so-called spring tides, any town that sees the hurricane pass by during one of the two daily high tides is especially in danger of heavy flooding due to storm surges.

The storm is causing big problems in the big city, New York City that is.  NYC orders evacuations; Mass transit to shut down – CBS News

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Irene.

Bloomberg said at a briefing Friday that emergency shelters will be opened at 4 p.m.

The low-lying areas are scattered across the city and are home to about 270,000 residents. They include parts of Battery Park City, Coney Island and the Rockaways.

Officials also ordered an unprecedented shutdown of the city’s mass transit system for Saturday in advance of the hurricane.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has never before halted its entire system in advance of a storm, though the system was seriously hobbled by an August 2007 rainstorm. The last planned shutdown of the entire transit system was during a 2005 strike.

They are expecting flooding in lower Manhattan, which is going to affect the subways.

Voice of America is reporting that an Islamist Militant Group Boko Haram Claims Attack in Nigeria | World | Learning English

A deadly car bombing at the United Nations building in Abuja has brought more attention to an Islamic group. The attack happened Friday morning in the Nigerian capital. Later, a man claiming to represent Boko Haram spoke by telephone with a VOA reporter. He said the group carried out the attack and warned that “this is just the beginning.”

The spokesman said the bombing was in reaction to the Nigerian military’s increased presence in the northeastern state of Borno. Boko Haram is active there. The government sent more troops after an increase in suspected Boko Haram shootings and bombings.

In the Hausa language, the group’s name means “western education is a sin.” Boko Haram wants Islamic law or sharia to be established more widely across Africa’s most populous nation. Western security officials say Boko Haram may have ties to the north African group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

There is an interview at the link with a VOA journalist who works at the UN building in Nigeria. She describes the scene in detail.

This next link is just the kind of thing to put me in a sanatorium, sanitarium…well, y’all get the idea.  First Read – Santorum: GOP not ‘anti-science’

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum railed against former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s statement that the Republican Party risks becoming the “anti-science” party.

Speaking to a group of about 90 people at the Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, SC, a popular stop for presidential candidates, Santorum did not mention Gov. Huntsman by name but brought up his fellow candidate’s assertions, made on TV and via Twitter, that the Republican Party would have a “huge problem” if it became hostile to evolution and climate change.

“We are going through this debate right now by somebody who’s in the Republican field talking about people who believe in certain scientific theories, whether it’s global warming or evolution. And somehow or another if you believe that we are creatures of a loving God, that that is somehow anti-science,” Santorum said.  “It’s not anti-science. It’s an affirmation of what we view in the world. Which is, we see God.”

Somebody, quick…get me a padded cell.

And what about Huntsman, well there is this over at MoJo:

Jon Huntsman: The Democrat’s Republican | Mother Jones

Huntsman’s finance team also boats five people who have donated to Democrats. Of course, as RCP points out, donating to candidates of both parties is nothing new. But in a state with as unbroken a conservative streak as South Carolina’s, Huntsman’s reliance on a donor with such unadulterated haterade for Haley seems a trifle…unwise. Perhaps Huntsman’s staffers think that Haley’s sliding approval ratings mean she’s no longer the potent political kingmaking force she was once thought to be.


Still, given the fact that Huntsman has pegged his presidential fortunes to the South Carolina primary—and foregoing the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary—you have to ask just how far his pro-life, pro-business, anti-tax record can carry him. Especially with quotes like this one, from Dem strategist Tyler Jones, floating around: “This is why liberals in South Carolina love Jon Huntsman…He hates Republicans just as much as we do.”


I don’t know if one could say that Huntsman hates Republicans…that is a bit much in my opinion. However, he did score some liberal points with that tweet of his, supporting evolution and climate change. If only he would support woman’s rights…


Anyway, all you northeastern Sky Dancing readers…please take care of yourselves and let us know you are okay once Irene passes. We will be thinking about you…

Wikileaks on Big Pharma

Wikileaks has been the source of a lot of important whistle blower information which is why there seems to be a crusade against the organization’s most visible representative, Julian Assange. Wikileaks was founded in 2006 as a place where–among others–Chinese dissidents would be allowed to get important information to the public.  Wikileaks’ stated purpose is to give assistance to all peoples that seek to “reveal unethical behaviour in their governments and corporations”.

Its first released documents dealt with government plots to assassinate people.  It also has exposed bizarre documents from the Church of Scientology.  During the financial crisis, Wikileaks released a report about a serious nuclear accident in Iran, problems at banks like the Kaupthing Bank of Iceland and Barclay’s, and a toxic dumping incident in the Ivory Coast.   They have dumped data on corrupt governments and corrupt corporations so there is absolutely no shock that the powers that be all over the world are trying anything they can to discredit Wikileaks and every one associated with it. Wikileaks is bigger than one man and his foibles.

I’ve been finding more and more horrible things about Big Pharma and their experimentation on poor and helpless people in developing nations.  This cover up trail–as with some others associated with horrible drug testing practices–leads to Wikileaks.  Wikileaks has acted as our pharma watch dogs and released documents that provide more information on an ongoing story that exposed fatal drug tests on Nigerian children.  Here is a summary of the situation from Democracy Now. You can watch Amy Goodman’s story in video at the same link.  WAPO actually did a lot of the original investigative journalism back at the time this came to light in the late 1990s.

Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general to pressure him to drop a $6 billion lawsuit over fraudulent drug tests on Nigerian children. Researchers did not obtain signed consent forms, and medical personnel said Pfizer did not tell parents their children were getting the experimental drug. Eleven children died, and others suffered disabling injuries including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech. We speak to Washington Post reporter Joe Stephens, who helped break the story in 2000, and Musikilu Mojeed, a Nigerian journalist who has worked on this story for the NEXT newspaper in Lagos.

The story is 14 years old, but the Wikileaks information is new.  In 1995, Pfzier was trying to get a new antibiotic–Trovan— to market.  You may know this drug as Zithromax. It was supposed to be a big drug breakthrough and they wanted to test the drug on children. This is a complex and difficult undertaking in the US so they headed to Nigeria for their Clinical Trials.  This is Amy Goodman’s explanation from a transcript of the show.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1996, Pfizer’s researchers selected 200 children at an epidemic hospital in Nigeria for an experimental drug trial. About a hundred of the kids were given an untested oral version of the antibiotic Trovan. Researchers did not obtain signed consent forms, and medical personnel said Pfizer did not tell their parents their children were getting the experimental drug. Eleven children died. Others suffered disabling injuries including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech.

The details of the case were first exposed in 2000 in an investigative series in the Washington Post. In 2007, Nigerian officials brought criminal and civil charges against Pfizer in a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit.

Wikileaks has exposed an important link between Pfizer and the Nigerian law suit.

JUAN GONZALEZ: A State Department cable from 2009 details a meeting between Pfizer’s country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and U.S. officials in Abuja. The cable reads, “According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to Federal Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases.” A few months later, Nigeria settled with Pfizer for just $75 million.

Nigerian journalists consider Assange and Wikileaks to be heroes for exposing this connection. Here’s something just written by PMNews Nigeria outlining the importance of this information.  You see an article there written by a Nigerian lawyer that explains the importance of the Wikileaks.  The author has disabled the option to quote his work so I’ll respect this and just give you the link.

Additional information on Pfizer has come to light through the documents released by WikiLeaks.  A lot of this information is being reported by Democracy Now–an advertising free media outlet–that has followed this story extensively. Pfizer extensively lobbied against a New Zealand Free trade agreement because New Zealand has drug buying rules similar to Canada. Big Pharma just hates it when countries negotiate prices.

In other WikiLeaks news, newly released cables have shed more light on the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Last week on Democracy Now! we reported how Pfizer hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general to pressure him to drop legal action over fatal drug tests on Nigerian children. Now Pfizer’s actions in New Zealand have been exposed by WikiLeaks. Newly released cables show the pharmaceutical company lobbied against New Zealand getting a free trade agreement with the United States because it objected to New Zealand’s restrictive drug buying rules. In addition, cables show drug companies tried to get rid of New Zealand’s former health minister.

Democracy NOW also reports that the Big Pharma has become the biggest defrauder of the Federal Government. They are bigger than even the military industrial complex with its giants like GE.

A new study by the watchdog group Public Citizen has found that the pharmaceutical drug industry has become the biggest defrauder of the federal government, surpassing the defense industry. Public Citizen found that the drug industry paid out nearly $20 billion in penalties over the past two decades for violations of the False Claim Act. More than half of the industry’s fines were paid by just four companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Schering-Plough.

If you read the show’s transcript, you’ll see further evidence and concerns about clinical trials happening on poor people in poor countries.  The person I will quote is guest  “Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and co-author of the new report, Rapidly Increasing Criminal and Civil Monetary Penalties Against the Pharmaceutical Industry: 1991 to 2010.”

I’d just like to add something to what James Steele said, which is, we call this industry the human experimentation corporations. The biggest human experimentation corporation is right here in the United States. It’s called Quintiles. They do experiments for drug companies as quickly as they possibly can all over the world. We found an ad from Quintiles that sells to the drug industry: “We help you recruit drug-naive subjects in many developing countries.” So this industry, in terms of exporting human experiments—and it really is a business—in terms of criminal violations—off-label marketing, illegal—in terms of False Claims Act, is really at the forefront. They parade themselves—and they do some good things; they do develop some good drugs. Is it really necessary for them to engage in criminal behavior, in civil violations and in very unethical human experimentations around the world? We think the answer is no.

A top lawyer at the FDA has recently said, “The only way we’re going to stop this industry from violating these laws, endangering people, is to start putting people in jail.” No one has ever gone to jail from one of these drug companies for these criminal violations. The size of the penalties is miniscule compared with the profits. Two companies, as mentioned—Glaxo and Pfizer alone—have paid $7 billion or $8 billion in the last 20 years. In one year, those two companies make about $15 billion or $16 billion in profits. So, until they are adequately assessed penalties that compare with the amount of money they’ve made off of these various drugs, until people are put in jail, if appropriate, this industry is going to keep running away.

And one other thing that was alluded to by James Steele is, this industry directly finances the FDA through cash payments. This year, between $700 million and $800 million in cash goes directly from the drug industry to the FDA. It pays for about two-thirds of all the review of drugs. So, in addition to the lobbying, the $200 million that James Steele talked about, there are direct cash payments, under a 1992 law that the Congress unwisely passed. So we have lots of problems with this industry. It does a lot of good things, but it is increasingly a menace in this country and abroad. As part of globalization, we’ve globalized human experimentation, and it’s a pretty nasty business.

There are several things that are becoming abundantly clear to me as I continue my search for Big Pharma’s role in the deathes of many people–babies and children included–through reckless experimentation and profit-seeking.  The first is the importance of Wikileaks and the realization that the sideshow going on right now over Assange’s behavior in Sweden detracts from the essential role that Wikleaks plays in releasing important information.  The second is how the majority of real data that I find comes from either sources not aligned with advertising interests or over seas media.

Democracy NOW and public interest groups like WikiLeaks rely on small donations and are not held hostage by government bullies and corporate revenues.  Without media and free press outlets like Wikileaks and Democracy NOW and these investigative reports done by Public Interest Groups, we would NEVER get this information.   We should be actively funding their ventures and supporting their right to expose the corruption and immoral behaviors of all governments and huge corporations.

The rich and powerful are banding together to prevent this information from coming to the surface.  JUST a few minutes ago, this came to my attention: Apple Explains Why They Banned The Wikileaks App.  MasterCard, Bank of America, and Pay Pal have moved to stop the flow of money to Wikileaks. BOA is said to be one of the next data drops from Wikileaks so I hardly find that move surprising.  As corporate and western European/American government interests move to strangle this outlet of free speech, we’re beginning to see more people–people with questionable intellect and morals–distracted by the Assange Rape Accusation Side Show. Isn’t a little bit odd that all this is taking place in light of more and more whistle blowing documents showing up  in places where there is only accountability to free speech and not to the profit motive and geopolitical power?

Against this backdrop, Julian Assange, the 39-year-old globetrotting Australian who is the driving force behind WikiLeaks, is battling extradition from England to Sweden for questioning about rape allegations. He was released on bail in London on Thursday.

Speaking Saturday outside a supporter’s mansion in eastern England, Assange called the case in Sweden a “travesty.” He also claimed he and others working for WikiLeaks face significant risks.

“There is a threat to my life. There is a threat to my staff. There are significant risks facing us,” he said, without offering details of the purported threats.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Assange said his organization plans to soon release information about banks, and he told Forbes magazine last month that the data would show “unethical practices.”

Assange told Computerworld magazine in 2009 that his organization had a trove of files on Bank of America. “At the moment, for example, we are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives. Now how do we present that? It’s a difficult problem,” he was quoted as telling the magazine.

Stay tuned.  There will be more. The more you dig into stuff, the more twisted it gets.   My guess is that Karl Rove is over on a mission there in Sweden to stop something that must either endanger Cheney, Bush, or himself.  Why is Karl Rove helping to persecute Julian Assange?  But, my friends, that is another story.

update The BBC News has a Transcript of The Assange interview on its site.