Shared posts

26 Aug 18:51

Trump’s Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert

by Tim Murphy

Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job—as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona.

The original Biosphere project, completed in 1991 by a company called Space Biosphere Ventures and funded by a Texas billionaire named Edward Bass, was an attempt to turn science fiction into reality. Eight individuals were to live and work entirely within a series of domed and self-contained buildings, where they would grow their own food, recycle their own waste, and demonstrate that humans might be able to survive in space. But when that two-year experiment ended in disarray—it was overrun by ants and cockroaches—the company turned to a group of outsiders for help in turning it around. At the head of that effort was Bannon.

At the time he was hired by Bass to run Space Biospheres Ventures, Bannon was managing his own investment banking firm, Bannon & Co. Some Biosphere-ites were concerned about Bannon, who had previously investigated cost overruns at the site. Two former Biosphere 2 crew members flew back to Arizona to protest the hire and broke into the compound to warn current crew members that Bannon and the new management would jeopardize their safety.

Under his management, the focus of Biosphere 2 shifted from survival—the Survivor-like challenge of enduring two years inside a literal bubble—to planetary research. Specifically, as Bannon explained in a 1995 interview with C-SPAN, Biosphere 2 would be a place that focused on studying societal challenges like air pollution and climate change.

Breitbart News, the media company which Bannon ran for four years before taking a leave of absence to join Trump's campaign, has adopted an antagonistic approach toward the topic of climate change, mocking climate science as "tosh" and "eco-propaganda" and claiming that the Earth is actually cooling. But Bannon sang a much different tune when he was interviewed by C-Span at Biosphere 2 in 1995.

"A lot of the scientists who are studying global change and studying the effects of greenhouse gases, many of them feel that the Earth's atmosphere in 100 years is what Biosphere 2's atmosphere is today," Bannon explained. "We have extraordinarily high CO2, we have very high nitrous oxide, we have high methane. And we have lower oxygen content. So the power of this place is allowing those scientists who are really involved in the study of global change, and which, in the outside world or Biosphere 1, really have to work with just computer simulation, this actually allows them to study and monitor the impact of enhanced CO2 and other greenhouse gases on humans, plants, and animals."

Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University. (It is currently part of the University of Arizona.) But his departure was marred, as the Tucson Citizen reported at the time, by a civil lawsuit filed against Space Biosphere Ventures by the former crew members who had broken in.

During a 1996 trial, Bannon testified that he had called one of the plaintiffs a "self-centered, deluded young woman" and a "bimbo." He also testified that when the woman submitted a five-page complaint outlining safety problems at the site, he promised to shove the complaint "down her fucking throat." At the end of the trial, the jury found for the plaintiffs and ordered Space Biosphere Ventures to pay them $600,000—but also ordered the plaintiffs to pay the company $40,089 for the damage they had caused.

26 Aug 00:08

Do Your Part! Illegally Download Scientific Papers

by Rob Beschizza


Jesse Singal requested this shoop, and I delivered. After all, who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone. (I've uploaded this to Redbubble if you'd like a poster—of course, you can just as well pirate it.)

25 Aug 01:03

Private Prison Giant CCA Accused of "False and Misleading Statements”

by Becca Andrews

A shareholder class action lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that was the subject of a recent Mother Jones investigation. Last week, the Department of Justice announced it would work to end its private prison contracts.

The shareholders allege that CCA and its executive officers made false or misleading statements that put the business in jeopardy, charging that CCA failed to disclose to its investors that "facilities lacked adequate safety and security standards and were less efficient at offering correctional services than the Federal Bureau of Prisons" and that "consequently, the U.S. Department of Justice ('DOJ') was unlikely to renew and/or extend its contracts."

The complaint notes Deputy Attorney Sally Yates's announcement on August 18 that the DOJ would work to stop contracting with private prisons. That decision came a week after the DOJ inspector general released a report showing lacking safety and security in private prisons, and seven weeks after a Mother Jones investigation drew national attention to the Corrections Corporation of America's operation of a facility in Louisiana. On the day of the DOJ announcement, CCA's stock value fell more than 35 percent.

25 Aug 14:19

White Man Calls In to C-SPAN to Ask How He Can Stop Being Prejudiced. Here's the Moving Response.

by Inae Oh

On Sunday, an ordinary C-SPAN segment quickly transformed into a rare and moving conversation about racial attitudes in America, when a white man called in to admit he is prejudiced and wanted to change to "be a better American."

Gary, an independent voter from North Carolina, told Heather McGhee, the segment's African American guest and president of Demos, an organization working to promote equal opportunities, that his views were the result of certain fears about drugs and the country's crime rate.

"I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs, you have to get money for drugs," he told McGhee. "It is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when—I have these different fears, and I don't want my fears to come true. So I try to avoid that and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don't like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example."

"What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?"

McGhee paused, visibly touched by the powerful display of honesty. She thanked Gary for having the courage to share his concerns, which could spark a much-needed dialogue for all Americans of every race and ethnicity to challenge deeply rooted biases. McGhee then outlined several ways that he and all Americans could try to overcome prejudice, such as considering to get to know black families, attending a diverse church, and turning off the news, which creates an image of African Americans at odds with reality.

"Thank you so much for being honest and for opening up this conversation because it is simply one of the most important ones we have to have in this country," McGhee said.

For more on the science of racism, head to our investigation here.

25 Aug 17:59

Koko the gorilla plays bass with Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea

by Mark Frauenfelder

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea visited Koko at her home in Woodside, CA and let her play his bass. Said Flea,"This is the greatest thing that ever happened. I will never forget."


25 Aug 15:45

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch: 'No One's More Frustrated Than Me' About EpiPen Price Outrage

by Scarce

Ms Bresch, please stop fucking up our industry.

I imagine Heather Bresch is frustrated right now. She's seen their stock price plunge 12% in the past few weeks since this controversy blew up in their faces. Bresch does a woeful job at damage control in this interview, the full length of which was nearly twenty minutes. Bresch could not adequately explain why her EpiPens which retail for $600 per set in the United States only cost about $100 in Canada and the UK, although she blamed the health-care system. That's about a 600% increase since Mylan took over the manufacture and distribution in 2009. And oddly enough, Bresch also stumbled when asked about her own 671% increase in salary over those years, from about $2.4m to $18.6m today.

Source: CNBC

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch struggled Thursday to justify the repeated big price hikes of the company's lifesaving EpiPen devices as criticism continued that Mylan is gouging consumers with a retail cost of more than $600.

"No one's more frustrated than me," Bresch told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday when she was pressed on the question of why Mylan needed to have such a high price for EpiPens, and why she just didn't cut their price.

read more

25 Aug 18:00

CSPAN Caller Asked How Not To Be Prejudiced Anymore 'To Be A Better American'

by John Amato

There are many wackos that call in to C-SPAN's Washington Journal, but every once in a while we get a real gem.

On August 18th, a caller who identified as Gary from North Carolina, called in to talk with Demos' Heather McGee and it was astonishing.

I was hoping your guest could help me change my mind about some things. I’m a white male, and I am prejudiced. And the reason it is is something I wasn’t taught but it’s kind of something that I learned. When I open up the papers, I get very discouraged at what young black males are doing to each other, and the crime rate. I understand that they live in an environment with a lot of drugs — you have to get money for drugs — and it is a deep issue that goes beyond that. But when, I have these different fears, and I don’t want my fears to come true. You know, so I try to avoid that, and I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don’t like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example. What can I do to change? You know, to be a better American?

I was floored. He wasn't angry or unhinged, but appeared really looking for some real advice on a very difficult issue.

Heather calmly replied, “Thank you so much for being honest and for opening up this conversation because it is simply one of the most important ones we have to have in this country.”

read more

25 Aug 15:30

How AP published the biggest lie ever about the Clinton Foundation

by John Aravosis

Let me tell you a little story about how the Associated Press outright lied about the Clinton Foundation in order to smear Hillary Clinton.

AP claimed, falsely, that half the people Hillary met as Secretary of State were donors to the Clinton Foundation. An incredible number! Except it’s not true.

And AP continues to refuse to correct the story.

Please sign our petition telling the AP to correct the story now.

Now, I’m actually a fan of AP. They have a reputation for having the highest standards of journalism. So their ongoing defense of this egregiously wrong story is distressing.

I tweeted about this yesterday, and my tweets caused quite a (good) uproar, so I thought I’d immortalize them here, so that it’s easier for everyone to refer to them in the future.

Before posting the Twitter storm below, I want to make a quick plug for the YUGE fundraising drive I launched yesterday to support my work between now and the election. Ad revenues for the blog cover at best 20% of my monthly expenses, so I rely on your donations to keep my work doing. My recent twitter storm about Hillary and the Clinton Foundation is a good example of the work I do, and what I excel at. I take stories and find the perfect angle to defuse them (if they’re negative stories), and then make them go viral. It’s been an incredibly effective apporach to progressive advocacy, particularly LGBT rights work.

You can read more about my work, my history, and what I plan to do over the next few months to ensure that Trump loses BADLY, Hillary wins, and that a progressive majority takes back the Congress here.

Now back to the Clinton Foundation. First my tweets, then I have a Facebook Live broadcast I did last night that walks you through the issue, if you’re someone who prefers videos. Thanks so much for your support, and please do share this story.

Here’s a few other points about the Clinton Foundation, and then my Facebook Live discussion of the Clinton Foundation and the AP story.

Charity Watch gives the Clinton Foundation an A-rating.

And confirms that 88%-89% of the Clinton Foundation’s money is spent on “programs,” aka charity.

Now you know the rest of the story.

Please sign our petition telling the AP to correct the story.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook:

Follow @aravosis

And please donate to our fundraising drive -- more background on the fundraising drive here. Thanks so much! JOHN

24 Aug 16:39

Take this test to find out if you are a "super recognizer" of faces

by Mark Frauenfelder

Image: Paulo Philippidis/Flickr

Josh P. Davis, a psychology professor at the University of Greenwich estimates the 1% of the population are "super-recognizers" of faces.

From Science Alert:

In 2009, a team of neuroscientists from Harvard did one of the first studies of super-recognisers. In it, they looked at just four people who claimed to have an unusually good ability to recognise faces.

All four subjects told the researchers about instances when they'd recognised practical strangers: family members they hadn't seen for decades or actors they'd glimpsed once in an ad and then seen again in a movie. They felt like there was something wrong with them.

One of the people in the study told the researchers that she tried to hide her ability and "pretend that I don't remember [people] ... because it seems like I stalk them, or that they mean more to me than they d.".

I've always felt that I'm sometimes a super-recognizer and sometimes nearly face blind. I just took the five-minute online test. I scored 11 out of 14. My results said, "If you scored above 10 you may be a super recogniser, but you would need to do more tests to find this out."

24 Aug 16:47

Florida prosecutor who bumbled George Zimmerman trial is really good at putting children in adult prisons for life

by Cory Doctorow

Angela Corey is state attorney for Florida's 4th Circuit, where she's put children as young as 12 on trial as adults, facing life in prison -- in solitary, because children can't be mixed with adult populations -- without counseling, education, or any access to family. (more…)

24 Aug 13:56

Brigadier General: TPP is a threat to America's national security

by Cory Doctorow

Retired Brigadier General John Adams served for 30 years, including a stint as a military intelligence officer: in an op-ed in The Hill, he says that while he supports trade deals, the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership has almost nothing to do with trade, and will hasten America's de-industrialization, making it harder for the US military to source the materiel it needs, and making it vulnerable to price gouging by foreign powers, who might even go so far as to block America's ability to source certain vital items altogether. (more…)

24 Aug 15:32

Upset at being honked at Cop declares horn use "road rage"

by Jason Weisberger

Police have to stop thinking we serve them.


I am impressed with this motorcyclist's ability to remain calm, and attempt to reason with this angry police officer!

A motorcyclist was frustrated by having to wait behind a non-moving car at a round-about, so he honked! The driver of the car turned out to be a police officer who claimed his texting-while-driving was in the name of public safety. The cop then proceeded to educate the motorcyclist, evidently honking is "road rage."

Anyone here from Colorado, where the video took place? Is using a horn illegal in Denver?

22 Aug 22:29

Wisconsin's GOP Tried to Make It Harder to Vote. Their Plans Just Got Shot Down.

by AJ Vicens

A panel of three federal judges on Monday denied Wisconsin's request to block an earlier court ruling that struck down several voting rights restrictions in the state including cuts for early voting hours, a requirement that cities have only one location for early voting, residency requirements aimed at limiting college students' votes, and a number of restrictive voter ID requirements.

This decision means many more people in Wisconsin will be able to cast a ballot in November, and the state will be forced to provide state-issued IDs for those who might have had problems assembling paperwork in order to get identification.

Only one way remains for the restrictive laws to stay in place, Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California-Irvine, wrote on his blog Monday. Wisconsin would have to immediately file an emergency stay request with the US Supreme Court. "Even then, getting over the 4-4 ideological split seems iffy," Hasen wrote, saying that it is unlikely the state would attempt to appeal to the entire 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after Monday's decision by three of the circuit's judges.

This ruling follows the July 29 decision by Judge James Peterson in which he described the state Legislature's attempts to limit voting rights as demonstrating that "a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities." Wisconsin officials asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Peterson's ruling on August 12, a request the three judges denied on Monday.

22 Aug 22:35

Here’s How Ferguson Has Kept Blacks off the Local School Board

by Edwin Rios

Black students make up more than 75 percent of students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri, but only three of the seven school board members are black. On Monday, a federal district judge in the state ruled that the at-large election system used to choose the school board representatives violated the Voting Rights Act.

"It is my finding that the cumulative effects of historical discrimination, current political practices, and the socioeconomic conditions present in the District impact the ability of African Americans in [Ferguson-Florissant School District] to participate equally in Board elections," District Judge Rodney Sippel wrote in an opinion. He added that the process "deprives African American voters of an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice" and that no elections could be conducted until a new system was put in place.

Voters in Ferguson had elected school board representatives every year in two or three at-large races, instead of voting for candidates representing specific subdistricts. The case, filed in December 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Missouri chapter of the NAACP, alleged that this practice diluted black voter strength, leaving them "all but locked out of the political process."

ACLU attorney Julie Ebenstein explained in April 2015 that since black voters in the district as a whole made up less than half the voting-age population, they were "systematically unable to elect" board members of their choice when casting ballots across all board seats. In 12 elections that took place between 2000 and 2015, five black candidates won school board seats out of 24 potential candidates, the judge noted in his opinion. Over that period, 22 white candidates won seats out of 37 potential contenders.

Cindy Ormsby, the school district's attorney, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the district was "very disappointed in the court's decision."

You can read the opinion below:

22 Aug 07:35

Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds

by Mihai Andrei
YSA08phThe US lags behind all the developed world, and the situation in Texas is unmatched.
22 Aug 17:26

The New Yorker

21 Aug 21:00

Trump turned over a big rock

by (digby)
Trump turned over a big rock

by digby

... And what's crawling out from underneath it is pretty scary:
The non-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center sounded the alarm this week about white supremacist groups, on- and offline, citing Trump’s words and actions as signals of support.

The SPLC’s Heidi Beirich, who tracks the rhetoric and actions of hate groups, pointed to the Trump campaign’s pattern of following and retweeting influential white supremacists, giving interviews to explicitly racist media outlets, and repeatedly emphasizing the criminality of people of color and immigrants. She told reporters this treatment “reinforces the core beliefs of the white nationalist movement.”

“For the first time, they feel they have someone running for the highest office saying things they believe and want to see,” she said. “White nationalists desperately fear the demographic changes the country is going through, and they see Trump as their last stand and last best hope for controlling the country.”
Just one example of the creepy creatures now scurrying all over the place:
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) says he has received a torrent of racist emails and phone calls since a hacker leaked contact information for House Democrats.

“When somebody puts your address on the internet, there are people who aren’t as mentally healthy as we hope they should be and they could do something,” he said Thursday, according to McClatchy.

“It was a lot of cowardly comments. These are probably people who wouldn’t have done it sitting in front of me. They may have been thinking it, but they wouldn’t have said it.”
Cleaver said dozens of callers harassed him with profanity and “the N word” starting on Aug. 12.

The former Kansas City, Mo., mayor said some offenders also called him “a baby killer” or insulted his Methodist faith.

Cleaver added other attacks came via email, with one even appearing to originate from a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) representative.

“Whenever I’m talking about how horrible the phone calls were, I have to remind myself that the first phone call was a classy gentleman who was very nice and helpful,” he said, referencing a man from Raytown, Mo., who warned him his information was compromised.

“He said, ‘Look, I need to let you know your phone number has been put on the internet along with your email, along with your address and along with your wife’s name.' I said, ‘How did that happen?' He said, ‘Whoever hacked your information put it online.’”
Of course this isn't entirely new
Cleaver said he is particularly cautious about threats after an attempted firebombing of his office in September 2014.
McClatchy said Eric King was sentenced last June to 10 years in federal prison for breaking a window at Cleaver’s district office and throwing Molotov cocktails inside. No one was occupying the office during the incident.
King calls himself an anti-government anarchist, FWIW.

Thank Drudge for helping to get the Democratic congresspeople's information out there --- but at least some of his GOP readers are decent:
Amid the nastiness, Cleaver said, his faith in humanity has been buoyed by the first caller from Raytown, who gave the congressman a heads-up that his information had been compromised.

“Not only did he call to warn me about what was going on, sent me another text to say, ‘Hang in there,’ and ‘I’m willing to talk to law enforcement’ . . . He was a very nice guy,” Cleaver said.

“Whenever I’m talking about how horrible the phone calls were, I have to remind myself that the first phone call was a classy gentleman who was very nice and helpful,” he said.

That tipster, as it turns out, was Sam Dawson, a 57-year-old Republican who first read about the hack that exposed the congressman’s information on the conservative Drudge Report website.

“I didn’t do it expecting anything out of it, just common courtesy,” said Dawson, a stay-at-home dad of three kids. “People’s politics are politics,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean you have to do that kind of thing to people.”
No kidding.

This is ugly but something we should expect when a white nationalist runs for president and wins the nomination of one of the two major American parties.

20 Aug 13:53

Candid Republican operators admit that voter ID laws are about disenfranchisement

by Cory Doctorow

Party before country, m'i'right?


The Brennan Center has rounded up a rogues' gallery of candid, on-the-record admissions from Republican politicians, officials, and operators about the true nature of the unconstitutional voter restriction laws that were cookie-cuttered across the Tea Party state governments: they don't fight voter fraud (because that's not a thing), but they do disenfranchise traditional democratic voters: people of color and students. (more…)

19 Aug 14:00

DOJ To Allow Private Prison Contracts To Expire After Scathing Findings Released

by Sarah P
DOJ To Allow Private Prison Contracts To Expire After Scathing Findings Released

The private prison industry, by profiting off a socially skewed-criminal justice system, has been a real thorn in the side of many of us who actually think and vote with some empathy. Prisons by nature are prone to fostering abuse, misconduct and neglect. When you add the for-profit factor without the 'job-crushing regulations,' you have a frightening potential for horror stories, for people likely disadvantaged from the start.

Democrats often complained loudly during those midterm election years that President Obama isn't doing enough to help those most in need. Too bad, in 2010 when so many people were so disappointed that the Democratic President didn't move Heaven and Earth during those 24 total days where Congress was actually filibuster-proof Democratic.

Here we get to private prisons and the slippery slope they have provided in our country. Just a brief history: Private Prisons became a booming business in the mid 1980's in direct response to a massive influx of prisoners due to the 'War on Drugs.' Simply put, we didn't have enough space for all the low level drug offenders. Hence, for-profit prisons.

The first major company to start accepting inmates was Corrections Corporation of America, which took over a facility in Tennessee. This was not well received by the public. In the decades that followed, the growth for this industry has exploded.

read more

19 Aug 03:30

Open Thread - Fund Our Schools

by Frances Langum
Open Thread - Fund Our Schools

I also recommend Donors Choose for finding a local school to support.

Open thread below...

19 Aug 07:08


18 Aug 16:06

Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons

by Pema Levy

No society that values freedom should give people an economic incentive to lock up their fellow citizens.

The Department of Justice will stop contracting with private prisons, the department announced Thursday morning. The decision comes a week after the DOJ inspector general released a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates.

The announcement comes on the heels of a Mother Jones investigation of a private prison in Louisiana that found serious deficiencies in staffing and security. It also documented a higher rate of violence than the prison reported. Last week's DOJ report found that private prisons are more violent than federal prisons.

As of December 2015, private prisons incarcerated about 22,600 federal inmates. The news of the DOJ's decision prompted a quick downturn in stock prices for the two largest private prison companies.

The decision was announced in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to the Washington Post. The memo directs department officials not to renew existing contracts or to "substantially reduce" their scope, with the goal of "reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons."

Read Mother Jones' editor-in-chief and CEO on what it took to pull off our investigation.

18 Aug 03:30

Open Thread - Translate This!

by Frances Langum
Open Thread - Translate This!

According to different sources at Tumblr and Reddit, the tote bag, photographed on Berlin public transit, reads, roughly:

"This text has no other purpose than to terrify those who are afraid of the Arabic language."

Open thread below...

18 Aug 12:54

Flood destroys home of man who believes floods sent to punish gays

by Rob Beschizza


Amid the horror of floods that have covered southern Louisiana in recent days, a grim note of irony: Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-queer Family Research Council, is among those whose homes are underwater. Perkins believes natural disasters are sent to punish gays. (more…)

18 Aug 13:00

Predictive policing predicts police harassment, not crime

by Cory Doctorow

The Blues Brothers 3

In Chicago, the "Heat List" system is used to direct policing resources, based on data-mining of social media to identify potential gang-members; the model tells the cops where to go and who to arrest, and is supposed to reduce both violent crime and the likelihood that suspects themselves will be killed -- but peer-reviewed analysis (Scihub mirror) of the program shows that while being on the Heat List increases your chances of being harassed and arrested by Chicago PD, it does not improve crime rates. (more…)

17 Aug 19:05

Trump has never met or called his only Ph.D. economic advisor

by Andrea James


UC Irvine economist Peter Navarro, a hand-picked Trump economic advisor: "Navarro has never met Trump in person. And as for speaking with him by phone, he acknowledges, 'I have never had the pleasure.'" (more…)

17 Aug 19:03

Why Hillary Clinton is right to take on high prescription drug prices

by John Aravosis

I just did an impromptu Facebook Live talk about a speech Hillary Clinton just gave, in which she talked about tackling the high price of prescription drugs. (You can watch the broadcast on Facebook, here.)

To Hillary’s credit, she made specific mention of the fact that we pay more in America — significantly more — for the same drugs that are sold in Europe at a much lower price.

I’d written extensively about how US drug companies fleece American consumers by charging us 5 time or more what they charge Europeans for the same drug. But Hillary noted another reason why this is unfair: American taxpayers are subsidizing these drugs companies. We subsidize through tax breaks, and we subsidize it through the FDA. As Hillary notes, our FDA, paid for by American tax dollars, makes sure these drugs are safe, and then the drug companies make money all over the world based on that seal of approval that US taxpayers paid for.

Now, let me walk you through just how badly Americans are fleeced by these drug companies. Let’s look at a few top asthma drugs, and what they go for in France vs. the US. These are prices from a few years back, when I did the comparison from Paris.

Advair — 5.3x more expensive in the US
US: $391
France: $73

Symbicort — 4.5x more expensive in the US
US: $272
France: $60

Asmanex — 7.9x more expensive in the US
US: $197
France: $25

Also obscene is the whopping increase in the price of these drugs in the US over the past 5 years, while at the same time these companies actually dropped the price in Europe.

Advair (GlaxSmithKline)
US: ↑43%
France: ↓13%

Symbicort (AstraZeneca)

So not only have these drug companies overcharged Americans by an obscene amount, and increased the prices of these drugs by an obscene amount, they actually dropped the price significantly in Europe over the past five years.

Why, you might ask are prices so much cheaper in Europe? Because over in Europe, the governments negotiate with Big Pharma to get a lower price. Our government doesn’t — and in fact, the federal government is banned by law from negotiating cheaper drugs prices for Medicare recipients. As the NYT notes, the drug companies get around all of this by simply charging more to Americans to make up the difference for the lesser profit in Europe:

Many other countries control drug prices in some manner, so drug companies have become dependent on increasing prices in the United States to grow.

Economist Steve Kyle did a nice write-up for us a while back, explaining how drug pricing works, and how the drug companies simply charge Americans more to make-up for lower prices in Europe.

One final point: Drugs aren’t cheaper in France because they’re subsidized. No one subsidizes anything. They’re cheaper because the French government simply negotiated a cheaper price. And mind you, that $25 or $73 you may pay in France for a high-end asthma drug isn’t what Frenchmen actually pay. That’s the price without insurance. If you have insurance, and everyone there does, the prices is significantly less.

So, by virtue of our American citizenship, we’re paying a massive drug tax in order to subsidize cheap drugs for Europeans. And most of our politicians are okay with this.

Hillary isn’t. November can’t come quickly enough.

17 Aug 12:36

Here's One of the Best Deals We've Seen on Philips' Life-Changing Wake-Up Light

by Shep McAllister on Deals, shared by Shep McAllister to Lifehacker

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a good deal on Philips’ life-changing wake-up lights, so if you’re not among the 20,000+ Gawker media readers who have already pulled the trigger, the entry level model just dropped to $46, or within a few cents of the best price we’ve ever seen.


17 Aug 16:58

Michael Moore "knows for a fact" that Trump never wanted to be President

by Mark Frauenfelder

Donald Trump Vector Clipart by GDJ CC0 / Public Domain License.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore posted an essay on his blog titled, "Is Trump Purposely Sabotaging His Campaign?" He says he knows for a fact that Trump only ran for President as a way to get a higher paycheck for his NBC "Apprentice" shows. When he actually got the nomination, he started to have second thoughts.

And then… you can see the moment it finally dawned on him… that “Oh shit!” revelation: “I’m actually going to be the Republican nominee — and my rich beautiful life is f#*@ing over!” It was the night he won the New Jersey primary. The headline on was, “Donald Trump’s Subdued Victory Speech After Winning New Jersey.” Instead of it being one of his loud, brash speeches, it was downright depressing. No energy, no happiness, just the realization that now he was going to have to go through with this stunt that he started. It was no longer going to be performance art. He was going to have to go to work.

Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans “rapists” should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn’t born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — “I hate this! I want my show back!” But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.

17 Aug 12:27

Europe's banks want to store billions in cash to fight back against negative interest

by Cory Doctorow


The economic orthodoxy of austerity means that governments facing recession can't just spend their way out of it by creating New Deal-like stimulus that gets the economy moving again: instead, they handed trillions to banks and then watched in dismay as the banks failed to lend any of that out to small businesses and entrepreneurs. (more…)