June 2, 2018

Crisis: Opioid Epidemic, Wall Street, Facebook´s Corruptions *2,
Starving the USA´s Poor


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 2, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, June 2, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 2, 2018:
1. Origins of the Opioid Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew of OxyContin
     Abuse in 1996 But Covered It Up

2. Why the Only Answer is to Break Up the Biggest Wall Street Banks
3. Facebook’s New Political Advertising Rules Are Hurting Grassroots
     Contenders in Early June’s Primaries

4. Scathing UN Report Condemns Trump and GOP for 'Deliberately' Driving
     Up Already Devastating Inequality

5. Facebook Shareholders Accuse Zuckerberg of Running 'Corporate
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Origins of the Opioid Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew of OxyContin Abuse in 1996 But Covered It Up

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction - and incidentally, if I review something from Democracy Now, that is usually an interview, I copy the introductions because they are good:
An explosive New York Times report has revealed that manufacturers of the drug OxyContin knew it was highly addictive as early as 1996, the first year after the drug hit the market. The Times published a confidential Justice Department report this week showing that Purdue Pharma executives were told OxyContin was being crushed and snorted for its powerful narcotic, but still promoted it as less addictive than other opioid painkillers. This report is especially damning because Purdue executives have testified before Congress that they were unaware of the drug’s growing abuse until years after it was on the market. Today, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under age 50. While President Trump claimed Tuesday that numbers relating to opioid addiction are “way down,” the latest statistics show there was an increase of opioid-related deaths and overdoses during Trump’s first year in office. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths involving opioids rose to about 46,000 for the 12-month period that ended October 2017, up about 15 percent from October 2016. The epidemic has been so widespread that life expectancy is falling in the United States for the first time in 50 years. We speak with Barry Meier, the reporter who broke this story for the Times, headlined “Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused.” Meier was a reporter at The New York Times for nearly three decades and was the first journalist to shed a national spotlight on the abuse of OxyContin. His book “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic” was published this week in an updated and expanded edition.
And this time it was a long introduction to a long interview, of which I will quote and review only two bits. I think these are sufficient, in part also because I treated the same subject yesterday, namely here: “Behave More Sexually:” How Big Pharma Used Strippers, Guns, and
Cash to Push Opioids
. This is strongly recommended.

Here is the first bit from the interview:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We got $6 billion for opioid and getting rid of that scourge that’s taking over our country. And the numbers are way down. We’re getting the word out. Bad, bad stuff. You go to the hospital. You have a broken arm. You come out. You’re a drug addict with this crap. It’s way down. We’re doing a good job with it. But we got $6 billion to help us with opioid.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, the latest statistics show there was an increase of opioid-related deaths and overdoses during Trump’s first year in office. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths involving opioids rose to about 46,000 for the 12-month period that ended October 2017, up about 15 percent from October 2016. The epidemic has been so widespread that life expectancy is falling in the United States for the first time in 50 years.

I say. And here are the outlines of the explanation:

BARRY MEIER: (..) So, the basic outlines are this. As you noted, Purdue Pharma has claimed that it first became aware of OxyContin’s growing abuse in early 2000. That was about four years after its introduction. In fact, what this document showed is that the company had extensive information about OxyContin’s abuse in 1997, 1998, 1999.

AMY GOODMAN: Twenty years ago.

BARRY MEIER: Yes, and concealed that information, didn’t tell the FDA, didn’t tell doctors, didn’t tell patients. And this was a very damning report. I mean, the crimes were so significant that the prosecutors, who spent four years investigating the company, recommended that three top executives of Purdue Pharma be indicted on a—for a series of felony crimes, like conspiracy to defraud the United States, false statements and things of that nature. Unfortunately, their efforts were blocked by top administration officials within the Justice Department.

So - in brief - Purdue is a hard drugs company selling hard drugs under the pretence of selling medicines (that are justified as medicines in just a few cases, namely of breakthrough pain in cancer patients, but not otherwise) and lied against the public since 20 years, frauded the public for 20 years, and made enormous profits hooking all sorts of people with some kind of pain to the hard drugs they sold on the basis of their lies and of lies by many medical persons who all think their own welfare is much more important than the lives of their patients.

But then Purdue is being protected by the Justice Department (just as the Justice Department has been protecting Wall Street banks since 2008) ...

Oh well. This is a strongly recommended article, but it will not make you any happier.

2. Why the Only Answer is to Break Up the Biggest Wall Street Banks

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

On Wednesday, Federal bank regulators proposed to allow Wall Street more freedom to make riskier bets with federally-insured bank deposits – such as the money in your checking and savings accounts.

The proposal waters down the so-called “Volcker Rule” (named after former Fed chair Paul Volcker, who proposed it). The Volcker Rule was part of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 in order to prevent future near meltdowns.

The Volcker Rule was itself a watered-down version of the 1930s Glass-Steagall Act, enacted in response to the Great Crash of 1929. Glass-Steagall forced banks to choose between being commercial banks, taking in regular deposits and lending them out, or being investment banks that traded on their own capital.

Glass-Steagall’s key principle was to keep risky assets away from insured deposits. It worked well for more than half century. Then Wall Street saw opportunities to make lots of money by betting on stocks, bonds, and derivatives (bets on bets) – and in 1999 persuaded Bill Clinton and a Republican congress to repeal it.

Nine years later, Wall Street had to be bailed out, and millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, and their homes.

Yes indeed, and this is a good summary. Also, Wall Street was not prosecuted by the Obama government, but protected to the hilt by the criminal Eric Holder, who refused to prosecute any bank.

Here is the explanation why (which Holder of course denies):

The real reason Wall Street has spent huge sums trying to water down the Volcker Rule is that far vaster sums can be made if the Rule is out of the way. If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement.

As a result of consolidations brought on by the Wall Street bailout, the biggest banks today are bigger and have more clout than ever. They and their clients know with certainty they will be bailed out if they get into trouble, which gives them a financial advantage over smaller competitors whose capital doesn’t come with such a guarantee. So they’re becoming even more powerful.

Quite so. Here is Reich´s solution:

The only answer is to break up the giant banks. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was designed not only to improve economic efficiency by reducing the market power of economic giants like the railroads and oil companies but also to prevent companies from becoming so large that their political power would undermine democracy.

Yes indeed - but democracy is dead in the USA, and has been replaced by plutocracy + grossly corrupt politicians like Clinton and Obama + grossly corrupt bureaucrats like Holder.

Also, I quite agree with Reich, but I wonder how he combines breaking up the giant banks with his defending capitalism (he also wrote a book with that title).

I think he can do so (at least, according to his own principles) and I am quite willing to agree that trying to turn the USA into another kind of social system is very risky, quite difficult and not at all certain to reach the intended effects, but I think the only way out of the present plutocracy is through an enormous economical crisis anyway (which will happen, but I don´t know when).

Anyway. Here is Reich´s ending:

So we may have to wait until we have a true progressive populist president. Or until Wall Street nearly implodes again – robbing millions more of their savings, jobs, and homes. And the public once again demands action.

Yes indeed. But I should add as a qualification to the first of these two alternatives, that I do not see a man remotely like Franklin Roosevelt among the present day American politicians, and I also see no way for such a man, if he exists (and he may be a woman but I follow English grammar), to arise to a position of political power.

This is a recommended article.

3. Facebook’s New Political Advertising Rules Are Hurting Grassroots Contenders in Early June’s Primaries

This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet and originally on the Independent Media Institute. It starts as follows:

Facebook’s new political ad-buying rules are sabotaging grassroots candidates in June’s first primaries—and hurting ballot initiatives with upcoming filing deadlines—according to conservatives and progressives who say their campaigns are being suppressed. But Facebook says these campaigns weren’t paying attention or following instructions to verify their identities.

“The irony is their intention—or what they say [is] their intention—was to keep Russians and outsiders from meddling in our federal elections. But that’s in effect what they have done, by basically locking the door on the challengers and allowing the incumbents to continue to run their ads,” said E. Brian Rose, a Republican challenger in Mississippi’s fourth U.S. House district (..)
Well... I am not amazed by any lie that emanates from the utterly a-social Facebook and the super rich thieves and criminals who lead it. And I will be amazed if I ever read any definite and somewhat relevant statement by Zuckerberg or its cronies that is not a combination of lying, deceiving and omitting things.

And you should keep in mind that (1) your emails are private correspondence that are not supposed to be read by others than those it addresses; (2) all the emails of anyone are copied by many secret services and by Facebook; (3) that is a crime, that is probably committed by Zuckerberg many more times than his two billion members; which means that I think that mega-thief Zuckerberg belongs in jail, and for a very long time.

I do not think he will be convicted, but then he is an American plutocrat who earns at least $550,000 an hour (more than I earned in my life) by his crimes, and in a plutocracy the rich can do virtually anything, that is, apart from raping the daughters of other plutocrats.

Here are some of the things I briefly explained above, this time by an American lawyer:
(..) Facebook, facing criticism in Congress and abroad for the way propagandists had used its platform, said it would regulate all political ads by requiring advertising buyers be identified and verified before posting the ad. It could do this, unlike federal regulators, because it is a private company and its private user agreements—its terms of service—do not have to be constitutional. It—like other social media platforms—can censor or postpone posting whatever content it wants, when it wants, and for how long it wants.“The terms of service and the community guidelines that Twitter, Facebook, and Google have all would violate the First Amendment if they were legislated by Congress, right?” explained Stanford Law School’s Nate Persily earlier this year when briefing the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, a high-powered effort to analyze how cyberspace was changing American elections. “These are private firms. Their rules on hate speech, their rules on obscenity, incitement, intellectual property violation, and the like... All of those are not the constitutional standards (..)
Yes, I agree. But as I said: The USA is a plutocracy, and plutocrats like Zuckerberg can do what they please; lie as they please; deceive as they please; and will not be attacked by law because they are plutocrats, just like the Wall Street bankers. And this is a recommended article, in which there is much more.

4. Scathing UN Report Condemns Trump and GOP for 'Deliberately' Driving Up Already Devastating Inequality

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
It is no secret that the United States has among the worst levels of inequality, poverty, and infant mortality of all wealthy nations, but a scathing new United Nations report (pdf) concludes that President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress are "deliberately" working to make these already devastating crises worse by waging war on the poor while lavishing the rich with massive tax cuts.

Highlighting the Trump administration's push to dismantle the last vestiges of the American social safety net, Philip Alston—U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and author of the new report—told the Guardian on Friday: "This is a systematic attack on America's welfare program that is undermining the social safety net for those who can't cope on their own. Once you start removing any sense of government commitment, you quickly move into cruelty."

"If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic," Alston added, pointing to just three of the many programs Trump is aiming to slash or restrict with cruel work requirements.

With millions of Americans already on the brink of deep poverty, Alston warned that Trump's tax law, deregulatory agenda, and welfare cuts are driving the poor closer to complete "ruination," which the U.N. official defines as "severe deprivation of food and almost no access to healthcare."

I say, for I did not know this. And I quite agree with Alston, except that I go one step further:

I think the likely end of Trump´s insanity and Trump´s neofascism is the destruction of millions of the poorest Americans (especially if black, indeed, for Trump also is a racist).

But I agree with Alston on the means chosen: Starvation. Here is more on exteme poverty in the USA:

While the U.S. is home to "over 25 percent of the world's 2,208 billionaires," such wealth stands in "shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live," the report observes. "About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in  extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world's highest incarceration rate."

Acknowledging that inequality in the U.S. has been rising rapidly for around five decades, the report argues that the Trump administration's policies—particularly its $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the rich and large corporations—"seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic healthcare into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship."

I completely agree with the last paragraph. And here is the ending of this article:

"At the end of the day... particularly in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power," the report observes. "With political will, it could readily be eliminated."

Quite so. But with the plutocrats in power in the USA, there is no political will whatsoever to eliminate poverty. And there is a strong political will among the plutocrats to solve the problem of the poor by starving them.

5. Facebook Shareholders Accuse Zuckerberg of Running 'Corporate Dictatorship' and Condemn Data Privacy Scandal as 'Human Rights Violation'

This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

At a tense annual meeting, Facebook shareholders added their voices to the outcry that's been directed at the social media giant over its recent user privacy scandal and what some suggested has been CEO Mark Zuckerberg's outsized control over the company.

"If privacy is a human right, as stated by Microsoft's CEO, then we contend that Facebook's poor stewardship of customer data is tantamount to a human rights violation," said shareholder Christine Jantz.

Jantz was among the attendees who were incensed by the company's voting structure, which grants Zuckerberg's Facebook shares 10 times the voting power that investors have.

I say! This is another example of Zuckerberg´s major criminality: He has granted his own shares to have ten times the voting power of his investors (presumamly they are to Zuckerberg what his Facebook members are: ¨Dumb fucks who trusted me¨).

To be sure: I do not have the least sympathy for any investor in Facebook, for I think they ought to be prosecuted like Zuckerberg, though indeed I also think this will not happen in the USA´s neofascist plutocracy, which is what I think the USA has become under Trump (though indeed also thanks to Obama, Bush Jr. and Bill Clinton).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The data of at least 87 million Facebook users ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm which was connected to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. The information was reportedly used to create profiles of American voters in order to target them with personalized political ads.

The security breach and ensuing questions about Facebook's effects on election integrity led to Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, during which senators argued that Facebook could not be trusted with users' data.

In fact, I think the corruptions of Facebook + Cambridge Analytica is - in principle -
a very good explanation for Trump´s becoming president of the USA - but it seems Mueller is not at all investigating this, because it is not connected to ¨Russia-gate¨ (?!?!).

As to the second quoted paragraph: Facebook can not be trusted with users´ data because it steals their private mails (as do many secret services). This is quite illegal and Facebook ought to be prosecuted for stealing these. (In fact, it seems Facebook collects 600 MB of all manner of data on each of his clients, generalizing from a few reports by users - for Facebook again keeps nearly everything it does secret.)

Anyway. This is a recommended article.


[1]I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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