Saturday, May 19, 2018

Once Again, Trump and Big Pharma put Profits Ahead of the Needs of Americans (Video)

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first medication designed to prevent migraine headaches. Currently, migraine medications are taken when headaches occur but do not prevent them.

The medication, generically known as erenumabaooe, will be sold by Amgen in the United States. Amgen’s product name is Aimovig. Aimovig is a once a month injection, on which research began in the 1980s and it will list on the market at $6,900 a year. That’s a cost of $575 a month.

But what good is getting excited over a medication that most migraine suffers will not be able to access because health insurers will not cover its cost and will not be able to afford it otherwise.

Recently, Trump announced his plan to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, but instead, his plan was a big win for the pharmaceutical industry.

If Trump were serious about lowering drug prices like Aimovig, he would take on Big Pharma. But his plan to rein in drug prices is nothing more than window dressing, letting Big Pharma continue its worst practices. Once again, he has put corporate profits ahead of the American people.Professor Robert Reich

Here’s Robert Reich on “How We Can Lower Drug Prices”:

National Review: China Contributing $500 Million to Trump-Linked Project in Indonesia

There are clear indications that Donald Trump’s family business received a large cash bribe from the Chinese government.  

On March 12, 2018, the Trump administration prevented a Singaporean company called Broadcom from buying an American company called Qualcomm. The company makes chips that are used in smartphones.

On May 9, China’s smartphone maker ZTE, one of China's leading telecom equipment manufacturers, shut down its "major operating activities" since it had no viable way to continue operating without Qualcomm chips. It’s complicated

Moreover,Trump imposed a seven-year export ban on the company for violating United States export restrictions.

Not so coincidentally, On May 11, the government of President Xi Jinping made a $500 million loan to build an Indonesian theme park. The park will feature a Trump gulf course and hotels.

Then on May 13, Trump tweeted, "President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!

Berkeley’s Professor Robert Reich writes, “How is this not a clear violation of the Constitution? The Chinese government has approved a $500 million loan to begin construction on sprawling real estate development in Indonesia that will include a Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course. The loan comes at the same time as Trump has escalated tensions with Beijing by unilaterally slapping tariffs on Chinese imports.

The Constitution explicitly forbids these kinds of deals under the Emoluments Clause to prevent foreign powers from gaining influence over our government. But it’s as bad for a president to look as if he’s lining his pockets with foreign cash as for him to actually do so, because the appearance of corruption undermines American leadership in the world just as readily as the real thing. The damage to our credibility in the world is immeasurable. 

“The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved an amendment to a bill that would uphold sanctions against ZTE, rejecting President Donald Trump's defense of the embattled Chinese phone maker.”

We will have to wait and see how the Trump administration proceeds from here.

Here's the story

South China Morning Post

By Jack Crowe

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Fighting to Lower Prescription Drug Prices (Video)

To satisfy a campaign promise rather than declaring to make changes that would benefit the consumer, Donald Trump sought to protect the pharmaceutical industry instead.

Like the capitalist he is, Trump focused on free market competition, openness and transparency as tactics to reduce consumer drug cost.

On Friday, Trump called his plan the “most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people.”

But Trump didn’t propose using the buying power of the Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices or any of the other ways that Senator Bernie Sanders recommends: 

1.Negotiate a Better Deal
2.Import Prescriptions from Canada
3.Restore Discounts for Low-Income Seniors
4.Prohibit Deals that Keep Generic Drugs Off the Market
5.Enact Stronger Penalties for Fraud
6.Require Pricing and Cost Transparency

Professor Robert Reich says, “If Trump were serious about lowering drug prices he’d take on the U.S. drug manufacturers. But his so-called plan to rein in drug prices is nothing more than window dressing, letting Big Pharma continue its worst practices. Once again, he has put corporate profits ahead of the American people. 

The only way to reduce pharmaceutical cost -- all medical cost as well -- is to take the profit out of the equation on how we provide and deliver medical care including prescription drugs.

Here‘s Robert Reich:

Friday, May 11, 2018

Robert Reich: The Financial Hardships of Trump’s Friends

By Jarrett Renshaw

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn a “financial hardship” waiver. The exemption allows the refinery to avoid clean air laws.

Now six Democratic U.S. senators have asked Icahn and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to explain how the refinery secured an EPA exemption from the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program.

The CVR Energy Oklahoma refinery exemption allowed it to avoid tens of millions of dollars of costs related to RFS.

Moreover, Icahn served as special economic adviser on financial regulation to Donald Trump in 2017. He resigned amid concerns of conflicts of interest.

The Senators are troubled a company owned by a billionaire former ‘special adviser’ to the President, who is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors, received the waiver. They are concerned that Icahn may have used his presidential access to benefit his investments.

Professor Robert Reich writes, In reality, Trumponomics is a thin veneer of an excuse for giving America’s rich -- already richer than ever -- whatever they want, while sticking it to everyone else.

We are rapidly becoming a nation of just two groups. The first are those without any voice, vulnerable to real financial hardship, who are losing whatever meager assistance they had. This includes many white working-class Trump supporters.

The second are those like Carl Icahn -- powerful enough to extract benefits from Trump and the GOP by claiming they need such incentives in order to invest. But their neediness is a hoax, and the only significant investments they’re making are pay-offs to politicians.

Here’s Reich’s essay:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trump's Iran Nuclear Accord Withdrawal is a "Mistake of Historic Proportions" (Video)
Donald J Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear accord it made with the Islamic Republic of Iran, four members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany, and the European Union.

The Iranian government, under the Obama-era deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, had so far complied with the terms of the agreement. And even members of Trump's cabinet, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, defended the deal.

So why is Trump abandoning it? Because the agreement with Iran is Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.

Senator Dick Durbin appropriately called the Trump's withdrawal a "mistake of historic proportions."

He said, "The last thing America and the world need right now is a new nuclear threat. Breaking this deal increases the danger that Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program, which threatens our ally, Israel, and destabilizes the entire Middle East. It isolates the United States from the world at a time when we need our allies to come together to address nuclear threats elsewhere, particularly in Korea.”

And, less than 48 hours after Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran Deal, Israel and Iranian forces in Syria are firing missiles at each other.

Prior to 2015, Republicans had an opportunity to take meaningful action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But, all they accomplished was to make threats of bombings and war.

During the Bush years, Iran built a new enrichment facility at Qom.

When Bush took office in 2001, the number of Iranian centrifuges was less than 12.

In 2003 Iran offered to negotiate a deal with the United States. At the time, it may have been possible to convince Iran to dismantle all of its centrifuges, since they had so few. It was turned down.

In 2005, Iran had a few hundred centrifuges and was negotiating a nuclear deal with the European Union because the United States refused to deal directly with Tehran.  “We don’t negotiate with evil,” said Vice President Dick Cheney, “We defeat it.” So, without support from the United States, the E.U. negotiations and proposals failed.

Americans should be wise enough to know that the Republican Party lied and took us into a war with Iraq and that Trump and they are up to the same shenanigans now with their rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.

Except for Israel and Saudi Arabia, there is only one country that has a problem with the Iran deal and that’s the United States.
Here’s Senator Bernie Sanders:

Monday, May 7, 2018

Trump team hired spy firm for ‘dirty ops’ on Iran arms deal

Israeli agency told to find incriminating material on Obama diplomats 
who negotiated deal with Tehran

It is alleged that Donald Trump hired an Israeli private intelligence firm to dig up dirt on two former Obama administration officials in an attempt to discredit Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievement: the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The revelation shows just how far Trump is willing to go to destroy anything with Obama’s name on it. It shows Trump’s pure hatred for the Iran deal because of its association with Obama. And it shows Trump’s complete disregard for the prospect of a new conflict in the Middle East.

For a long time, Trump has threatened to scrap the nuclear deal. He says the Obama administration negotiated a bad deal for the United States.

And in a tweet on Monday, Trump indicated that he will announce his decision on whether the United States will remain in the Iran nuclear agreement on Tuesday  

But the Iran nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the result of a 2015 agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the group P5+1: the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China -- plus Germany and the European Union. 

Regardless if Trump backs out of the agreement, France, Britain, and Germany have indicated they are still committed to the deal with Iran.

No one knows what will happen if Trump pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal. Here’s an explanation. How might Iran react?

Here’s the “dirty ops” story:

By Mark Townsend and Julian Borger

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Reason: It's Not a Lie If the President Believes It (Video)

Most Americans take it for granted that deception is entrenched in the highest levels of government. But there are disastrous practical consequences of presidential duplicity since World War II. From FDR at Yalta to Reagan in Central America, and from JFK’s cover-up of the deal that ended the Cuban missile crisis to Lyndon Johnson’s misrepresentations of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, attempts to mislead the American people paved the way for the Cold War, the deaths of thousands of Americans in Vietnam and the”post-truth” presidency of George W. Bush.” When Presidents Lie” by Eric Alterman.

But, without a doubt, Donald Trump has to be the most lying President in the history of the United States.

In his book, “Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump wrote, “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

“I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration -- and a very effective form of promotion.”

Trump’s “truthful hyperbole” does include“bravado,” he does play to people’s fantasies,” but more than anything else he intends to mislead by telling untruths. The fact is Trump lies big time.

According to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, Trump has told more than 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office. Yet he continues to sit in the Oval Office without reprimand from the Republican Party or from those who voted for him.

That’s because the Republican Party, and those who voted for this despicable man, don’t care. In response to a question asked by Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes regarding then president-elect Donald Trump’s circulation of false information on social media, House speaker Paul Ryan essentially said that it’s not a concern to him. 

According to an NBC News/SurveyMoney poll, 94% of Democrats and 76% of Independents believe he lies most of the time, while 76% of Republicans believe Trump tells the truth.

And according to Reason’s Jacob Sullum, “Journalists covering Trump undermine their credibility by ignoring the distinction between dishonesty and delusion.

With Trump’s job approval rating at 45%, I would say the American people have a significant problem with discerning the truth and understanding the difference between negative reporting and “fake news.” Otherwise, Trump’s approval rating would be significantly lower.

Eric Alterman ends his book by saying,”In a better world, future U. S. Presidents would learn the obvious lessons from the experiences of their predecessors: Protect genuine secrets by refusing to answer certain questions, certainly. Put the best face on your own actions and those of the politicians you support, of course. Create a zone of privacy for yourself and your family that is declared off-limits to all public inquiry.
But do not, under any circumstances, lie”

Here’s Professor Robert Reich’s “How Trump Turns Lies into Truth”:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Donald Trump and the Press (Video)

On Saturday, at a rally in Michigan, as comedian Michelle Wolf roasted Donald Trump at the white house correspondents’ Association dinner, Trump again bad-mouthed the news media, saying to the audience the media “hates your guts” -- in other words, the press are "enemies of the people."

Trump also scolded Democrats and threatened to shut down the government in September if he did not get funding for his wall.

And, as usual, he lied: Even though anonymous sources have always existed, he said, "In the old days, when the newspapers used to write, they would [put] names down. Today they say, sources have said that President Trump -- sources. They never say who the source is."; Although mainstream media organizations have a process to ensure that their sources exist, that they are in a position to know of what they speak, Trump went on to say, "They don't have sources. The sources don't exist in many cases. The sources in many cases don't exist."

Trump told supporters he'll face impeachment if the Republican Party loses in November.

Many ranking Republicans say that Trump doesn't grasp the significance of the situation. They say, the House is probably lost, and that the Senate could be next.

Professor Robert Reich says, “this is what tyrants throughout history have done. We must not let it stand.”

We must not let the Republicans win in November.

Here’s Reich’s presentation of Trump and the Press:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and the Making of a Charismatic, Unorthodox Democrat

There is a rising star in the Democratic Party and a possible contender for U.S. President in 2020. Her name is Tulsi Gabbard. Since 2012, she has represented Hawaii's 2nd congressional district in the House of Representatives.

Gabbard is the first Samoan American and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress. In the House of Representatives, she serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. She is also a military police officer with the Hawaii Army National Guard and served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq, and later was deployed to Kuwait.

Gabbard supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential elections. She is pro-choice. She has called for a restoration of the Glass–Steagall Act. And she denounces government policy in wars like in Iraq and Syria.

She also has “demonstrated willingness to speak out in ways her party would rather she not. Gabbard is a wildcard who has given Democrats as many headaches . . . in Congress as she has blessings.The Washington Post

W.J. Astore writes, “Let’s face it: America needs a new leader, a fresh start, an unapologetic progressive, someone who’s smart but who also possesses empathy.  Someone on the side of workers; someone like Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand.

 “Perhaps Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will emerge as America’s Jacinda in 2020; aligned with Bernie Sanders, Gabbard has moxie as well as military experience. But I wouldn’t bank on it. The DNC, still with its collective head up its ass, isn’t seeing the future too clearly.”

Kelefa Sanneh suggests, “If Gabbard joins the field she will almost certainly be the most interesting candidate in it. But one question is whether her life story will turn out to be too interesting -- too unusual -- for her own good.

Here’s The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh outstanding in-depth piece on Tulsi Gabbard and “The making of a charismatic, unorthodox Democrat”:

By Kelefa Sanneh

Saturday, April 28, 2018

China Claims North Korea’s Nuclear Site Collapsed

Chinese geologists say that the mountain above North Korea’s main nuclear test site collapsed, rendering the area unsafe for further testing because of possible radiation leaks.

“The new study is peer-reviewed and has been accepted for publication by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“The Chinese study made sense and was based on well-understood research, said Rowena Lohman, a seismologist at Cornell University who wasn’t part of the work.” The Guardian.

The study was carried out by scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China. The Chinese conclude that the mountain caved in due to the stress of multiple explosions following North Korea’s nuclear test on September 3 that triggered four earthquakes.

On Friday, at a meeting between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un declared it would halt all missile tests and shut down its main nuclear test site.

So, if true, the report may indicate the reason why Kim Jong Un announced that his country was ceasing its nuclear testing program.

Of course, Donald Trump believes Kim Jong Un’s announcement is because of his demand that North Korea denuclearize.  

However, Kim stopped short of promising to give up his nuclear weapons, and the missile test ban does not include shorter-range weapons capable of reaching Japan and South Korea.The Guardian

Here’s the story: