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Showing posts from August 23, 2016

Congress scolds pharmaceutical company’s price hike on EpiPens

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[For many people not having access to an EpiPen is a matter of life or death. For many others not having one means enduring excruciating uncertainty about whether or not they are in a life-endangering situation. "There does not appear to be any justification for the continual price increases of EpiPen.… Manufacturing costs for the product have been stable and Mylan does not need to recover the product’s research and development costs because the product was on the market years before Mylan acquired it in 2007." *RON*]

By Ed Silverman, STAT / PBS News, 23 August 2016
Move over, Martin Shkreli. Get in line, Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Congress appears to have found another drug maker to scold over high prices.

Responding to the high cost of the EpiPen auto-injector for reversing life-threatening allergic reactions, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday wrote Mylan Laboratories asking for pricin…

As globe-threatening yellow fever epidemic explodes in Congo, people ask ‘where is the vaccine?’

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[DR Congo has probably the world's largest, certainly the most under-reported, civil and international conflicts in the world at present. The government is pretty well incapable of administering the necessary vaccination program. The vaccine is extremely effective, safe, and affordable. As the article says, yellow fever can be deadly, is 100% preventable and 0% curable, and likely to spread beyond DR Congo's borders. See also: WHO to hold emergency meeting to advise on yellow fever. *RON*]

By Emily J. Baumgaertner, Washington Post, 22 August 2016

KINSHASA, Congo — Here in Kinshasa, they’re using bug spray to repel a pandemic.

At first glance, it looks like a bloody ambush on civilians: Dozens in uniform are storming into a bustling marketplace bearing on their shoulders what look like bazookas.

People are screaming, scrambling in every direction, their noses and mouths covered as they drag their children by their hands. Those in uniform …

Why It Matters

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[Associated Press is doing a series of 36 short backgrounders on issues pertinent to the US Presidential campaign, many of which are global or otherwise equally applicable to Canada. These are the first eight; you may be interested in following them as they appear. *RON*]
Associated Press, 23 August 2016

22 August 2016
WHY IT MATTERS: Income inequality

WASHINGTON (AP) — THE ISSUE: The rich keep getting richer while more Americans are getting left behind financially.


Austerity, media and democracy

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[And a very good letter to the Editor of the Irish Times on austerity and so-called free markets. *RON*]

Donal McGrath, Irish Times, 22 August 2016

Sir, – A Leavy (August 22nd) writes that the alternatives to austerity were default or even more borrowing. This is simply incorrect. No-one seriously suggested that the Irish state should default on sovereign debt but Ireland’s deficit would have been about half the final outcome had we refused to pay the speculative losses of European banks, and the cutbacks which would have been necessary would have been much less severe. The Irish government paid out about €64 billion to these private banks, adding in over €3 billion not covered by the guarantee scheme at all, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has confirmed he will not even apply for retrospective relief under the new ECB guidelines (“Banking Union: Restoring Financial Stability in the Euro Zone”). That plan was hailed at the time of publicat…

What do we do with art from the past deemed offensive today?

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[A good opinion piece on the value, risks and relativity of indignation. *RON*]

Russell Smith, Globe and Mail, 23 August 2016
The news that a former Islamist warrior in northern Mali has pleaded guilty to – and apologized for – the destruction of ancient architecture in Timbuktu is mild vindication for all of us who were outraged by the continuing destruction of valuable art and sculpture across the Middle East by religious fanatics.
It has been easy to denounce the blowing up of precious libraries and temples by ISIS and gorgeous Buddhist statues by the Taliban – that is obviously wrong, Philistinic, uncivilized. Sensitive people of all political stripes are against it. It is officially a war crime now. We are all for the preservation of the past and of the hand-worked artifacts of foreign cultures. Even if those cultures had values antithetical to our own (as the priceless Islamic libraries of Timbuktu, being themselves pretty sexist, surely did…

Cruise ships start to come under scrutiny as massive pollution machines

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[Something to think about next time you see one of these beasts lumbering under Lions Gate Bridge. "At full power the world's largest cruise ship can burn about 66,000 gallons of diesel fuel a day. One cruise ship emits the same amount of air pollutants as five million cars traveling the same distance. That's largely due to the higher-sulfur diesel fuel typically used by cruise ships" *RON*]

By Stephen EdelsteinGreenCarReports / Christian Science Monitor, 21 August 2016

While increased pressure on car makers to improve emissions continues, regulators and environmental groups are also scrutinizing other forms of transportation-related emissions.

Cruise ships regularly depart major ports with thousands of passengers onboard, and they are now being called out as major sources of pollution.

At full power, the massive diesel engines propelling the Harmony of the Seas—the world's largest cruise ship—can burn about 66,000 gallons o…