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Sun, 16 Dec 2018
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Snakes in Suits

Doctor pleads guilty to sharing patients' private data with pharma company to push costly unnecessary drug

pills money
© Chromorange / Global Look Press
A pediatric cardiologist from Marietta, Georgia, has admitted illegally providing confidential patient data to US pharmaceutical company Aegerion. The information was to help the company mismarket a costly drug.

Dr. Eduardo Montana, 55, pleaded guilty in a Boston court hearing to disclosing 280 patients' "individually identifiable health information" to Aegerion. Last September, the company was fined over $35 million to resolve criminal charges linked to the mismarketing of its drug Juxtapid. Montana will be sentenced on June 4 and faces up to a year in prison, Reuters reports.

Aegerion conspired to surreptitiously gather patient data in order to determine their suitability for the product. Juxtapid, which received FDA approval in 2012, is only suitable for use for patients with a rare lipid disorder. However, both defendants willingly targeted patients that did not suffer from the condition. After providing patient data, Montana requested a $236,000 grant from Aegerion, which the company declined.

Snakes in Suits

Shameless: UK MPs to get another pay rise taking the total to £11,000 in just 3 years

The salary for politicians is set to go up by just under £1,400 from April next year to £77,379

The salary for politicians is set to go up by just under £1,400 from April next year to £77,379
MPs have been handed another 1.8 per cent pay rise, the expenses watchdog confirmed today.

The salary for politicians is set to go up by just under £1,400 from April next year to £77,379.

It means their pay will have risen by around £11,000 in three years.

A 1.4 per cent pay rise in 2017 came on top of a 1.3 per cent uplift in 2016, and a big boost from £67,000 to £74,000 in July 2015.

Comment: A pay rise? For what?? MPs are swamped in never ending scandals and the state of politics has revealed corruption to be par for the course. Abroad they've supported an illegal and relentless war on the Middle East, with Syria and Iraq already costing £1.7 billion - not forgetting the countless innocent civilians who have been slaughtered - and that's not including Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen - though UK arms manufacturers are making a profit, of course - and all that when some of their biggest projects demonstrate just how inept (and fraudulent) the system really is.

Meanwhile at home public services are suffering 'austerity' with at least a fifth of workers surviving on below poverty level wages, foodbank use has skyrocketed, as has homelessness, the cost of living has exploded, quality of life deteriorates even further, and the economy is in freefall.

Cell Phone

The Great Russian Bot Panic: Evidence of no evidence may finally be changing minds

twitter on phone
© Regis Duvignau / Reuters
There are just the merest signs that common sense may be making a rare appearance in the debate around the Great Russian Bot Panic. Some unlikely sources have even suggested perhaps Russian interference is not behind everything.

A mixture of healthy skepticism and a lack of evidence looks to be shifting the debate around just how much influence alleged Russian bots on social media have on such political phenomena as Brexit or Trump.

It may have the uncomfortable effect of forcing nations like Britain and America to face up to the realities of their current political situations. The idea of Russian bots and Russian interference has become a convenient crutch to avoid responsibility.

Comment: The Russian bot narrative has been absolutely ludicrous from its outset, so it's nice to see a mainstream shill-outlet like Buzzfeed actually start to question it. Rather than take it as a sign of change, however, it's probably better to assume it's just a minor blip on the radar that will eventually self-correct.



Iran announces ban on dollar in trade imports

© Morteza Nikoubazl / Global Look Press
Tehran has announced that purchase orders by merchants that are based on US currency would no longer be allowed to go through import procedures.

According to local media, the policy is in line with an official request by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and is specifically meant to address fluctuations in market rates of the US dollar.

The CBI's director of Foreign Exchange Rules and Policies Affairs, Mehdi Kasraeipour, was quoted by IRNA news agency as saying the move had become effective from Wednesday by virtue of a letter sent to the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade.

He explained it wouldn't create major trouble for traders because the share of the greenback in Iran's trade activities was not high. "It's been for a long time that Iran's banking sector cannot use the dollar as a result of the sanctions," said Kasraeipour.


Social media censoring dissident voices

CPAC logo
© Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, accused of enabling US President Donald Trump's rise to power through "Russian meddling," are facing pressure to de-platform heretics. This has raised fears for the safety of free speech in the US.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past weekend, media crusader James O'Keefe headlined an hour-long panel on social media censorship, arguing that it targeted mostly conservatives.

"They really make sure you don't see any differing views," O'Keefe said at the panel.

Comment: Partisan social media is indeed a huge problem, as anyone who doesn't toe the liberal party line on any given issue is under threat of censorship. Eventually, it may come to pass that the truth will simply not be accessible on existing social media, at which point other options may become more desirable.

See also:


South Africa's govt plans to seize land from white farmers

farmer south africa
© Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A farmer inspects his cows in Eastern Free State, South Africa.
South Africa's new President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to redistribute land by taking it from white farmers and giving it to black people. But why is the millionaire pursuing such a drastic course of action and how will it work?

How did white farmers get the land in the first place?

Dutch Calvinist settlers first landed on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and soon began setting up farms in the arable regions around Cape Town. Over the following decades the number of Dutch (and some German and French) settlers grew. They continuously claimed land from the local Khoikhoi until the entire cape was colonized.

The British seized the region in 1795, sparking a long running conflict with the original Dutch settlers, now known as the Boers. To escape British rule the Boers pushed deeper north and northeast, claiming land in the present-day provinces of Free State and Natal. Eventually they established independent Boer republics.

Comment: Good luck with that. As Zimbabwe found, merely redistributing land is not the answer. When they kicked the white farmers out, they also lost all the knowledge and skills of those people. Zimbabwe was on the verge of famine for years. Ramaphosa will need the wisdom of Solomon to avoid South Africa replicating that situation.


YouTube shuts down conservative channels, says it was an 'accident'

YouTube Logo
© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
YouTube has said its removals of right-wing video channels were a mistake, something conservative users are finding hard to believe. YouTube blamed the blunder on the inexperience of its newly hired force of moderators.

"As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals," a YouTube spokesperson told Bloomberg. "We're continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. We'll reinstate any videos that were removed in error."

However, many did not see it this way. Several outspoken conservative personalities voiced their disdain for the snafu, accusing YouTube of bias in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school shooting.

Comment: As Jack Posobiec tweets above, it's awfully strange that liberal commentators never seem to be the targets of these "accidents".

See also:

Red Pill

National Review: David Hogg is fair game for critics

David Hogg
© CNN via YouTube
David Hogg
The Parkland survivor has chosen to insert himself into an important national policy debate. We who disagree with his views on guns have a duty to speak up against them.

David Hogg, the telegenic 17-year-old who survived the shooting in Parkland, is not a crisis actor, an FBI plant, or the secret brainchild of a Soros-backed CNN plot. He's a political advocate engaged in a political debate, and he should be treated as such.

Since the multiple murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Hogg has emerged as a sort of Schrödinger's Pundit, whose status within the debate sits contingent upon his critics' willingness to push back. The game being played with his testimony - by adults, not by Hogg - is as transparent as it is cynical. For ten days now, Hogg has been as permanent a fixture on the nation's TV screens as anyone bar the president. In each appearance, he has been invited without reply to share his ideas on our public policy. This he has done, emphatically.

Comment: Further reading:

Cell Phone

Australian defense depart to phase out Chinese smartphones after US warning

© AP Photo/ Mark Schiefelbein, File
The Australian Department of Defense has announced that they will no longer be using any phones from a pair of Chinese phone manufacturers that have both been accused of allowing the Chinese government to conduct espionage through their products.

The companies in question are Huawei, the third-largest phone manufacturer in the world after Samsung and Apple, and ZTE. Australia's DoD announced Wednesday that they've stopped using Huawei phones and are phasing out the ZTEs as they fail.

Magic Wand

The manufacturing of trans reality

Jennifer Finney Boylan
© Screengrab from TEDxMet
Jennifer Finney Boylan

Yesterday, The New York Times op-ed page published what is, for the Times, an evergreen column:

NYT trans article
Here's a link to the column, by the transgendered Jennifer Finney Boylan. Excerpt:
Meanwhile, on Feb. 20, Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, released a book that suggests that transgender people are crazy, and that what we deserve at every turn is scorn, contempt and belittlement. The book (with a particularly insulting title that I'm not going to put in print here) is abundant in junk science; its most frequently quoted source is one Dr. Paul McHugh, the right-wing doctor who succeeded in shutting down Johns Hopkins's gender-research clinic almost 40 years ago.

Comment: Ryan Anderson: Having Genital Preferences Is Now 'Transphobic'