Notes from Dystopia: November 5, The Cracks and Fissures of a Fading Republic, Into An Empire of Doom; Death and Destruction in the Age of Consequences
Notes from Dystopia -- November 5
The Cracks and Fissures of a Fading Republic, Into An Empire of Doom; Death and Destruction in the Age of Consequences.
“Tax Plan Reshapes College Savings, Loans”
After an $80 billion increase in military spending earlier this year ($26 billion more than what President Trump had originally requested, unanimously supported by both the Democrats and Republicans), within Congress’ proposed tax plan is a $65 billion “less in tax benefits for postsecondary students and borrowers over the next decade…” -- according to The Wall Street Journal, the tax plan will:
-remove a student-loan interest deduction
-boost credits/refunds through the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC); remove credits through “the Hope Scholarship Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit”
-"phase out” Coverdell education-savings accounts to “guide savers in ‘529’ college savings plans" (very brief reading: Coverdell plans have age restrictions and caps on contribution amounts; 529 plans have no federal age or contribution restrictions)
-repeal employer-paid tuition assistance (up to $5,250); not restore an expiring provision for a $4,000-per-year deduction “in tuition and related expenses, if they [employees] earned less than $65,000 in adjusted gross income”
-remove a tax on student-loan borrowers who die or become disabled
More interest for loan sharks. Stricter controls for tax credits and refunds -- an economy manipulated by unelected overlords. Breaks for people who don’t really need it. A knife in the back for those who do. And if students want out of paying taxes on their loans for getting an education, they’ll just have to break their necks. Or die.
EPA - “Pruitt to Meet With Chemical Industry” (The Wall Street Journal)
head of the Environmental Protection Agency
meets with the American Chemistry Council
(enemies foreign and domestic?)
“...a group that has lobbied against stricter regulations for chemical manufacturers.”
at a Sanctuary resort on an island off the coast of South Carolina
not open to the public
no news media allowed
“Report Ties Humans to Climate Change” -- (The Wall Street Journal)
“Looking ahead, the report says sea levels are expected to rise by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1 to 4 feet by 2100.”
...backward in time…
“The report was produced by the Global Change Research Program … crafted by 13 federal agencies … The findings are based on scientific, peer-reviewed research … The report’s statement that cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions could mitigate the expected rise in global temperatures comes as the Trump administration has rolled back efforts to limit emissions...
“Among its findings, the report … notes … the global average sea level has risen by about 7 to 8 inches since 1900 … nearly half of that increase has happened in the past 25 years or so … already affecting cities in the U.S. along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts…
“Since entering the Oval Office … Trump has backed steps to reverse policies meant to combat climate change…”
Suicide for a profit? Humans colluding with the earth. Homo sapiens is the only known species of the observable universe that can impact the planet, studying those effects, and ignore them for the detriment of continuing the death-spiral of tens of thousands of years in evolution.
The Vice President of the United States thinks, “educators around America must teach evolution not as fact but as theory…”
From the ‘Executive Summary’ of the Global Change Research Program’s report:
“Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.”
The New Yorker from Oct. 30, 2017-- “Empire of Pain; The Sackler family’s ruthless promotion of opioids generated billions of dollars--and millions of addicts.”
“While the Sacklers are interviewed regularly on the subject of their generosity, they almost never speak publicly about the family business, Purdue Pharma—a privately held company, based in Stamford, Connecticut, that developed the prescription painkiller OxyContin. Upon its release, in 1995, OxyContin was hailed as a medical breakthrough, a long-lasting narcotic that could help patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. The drug became a blockbuster, and has reportedly generated some thirty-five billion dollars in revenue for Purdue.
“But OxyContin is a controversial drug. Its sole active ingredient is oxycodone, a chemical cousin of heroin which is up to twice as powerful as morphine. In the past, doctors had been reluctant to prescribe strong opioids—as synthetic drugs derived from opium are known—except for acute cancer pain and end-of-life palliative care, because of a long-standing, and well-founded, fear about the addictive properties of these drugs.”
“Purdue launched OxyContin with a marketing campaign that attempted to counter this attitude and change the prescribing habits of doctors. The company funded research and paid doctors to make the case that concerns about opioid addiction were overblown, and that OxyContin could safely treat an ever-wider range of maladies. Sales representatives marketed OxyContin as a product ‘to start with and to stay with.’ Millions of patients found the drug to be a vital salve for excruciating pain. But many others grew so hooked on it that, between doses, they experienced debilitating withdrawal.
“Since 1999, two hundred thousand Americans have died from overdoses related to OxyContin and other prescription opioids. Many addicts, finding prescription painkillers too expensive or too difficult to obtain, have turned to heroin. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four out of five people who try heroin today started with prescription painkillers. The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that a hundred and forty-five Americans now die every day from opioid overdoses.”
“Although the Sackler name can be found on dozens of buildings, Purdue’s Web site scarcely mentions the family, and a list of the company’s board of directors fails to include eight family members, from three generations, who serve in that capacity. ‘I don’t know how many rooms in different parts of the world I’ve given talks in that were named after the Sacklers,’ Allen Frances, the former chair of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, told me. ‘Their name has been pushed forward as the epitome of good works and of the fruits of the capitalist system. But, when it comes down to it, they’ve earned this fortune at the expense of millions of people who are addicted. It’s shocking how they have gotten away with it.’”
Arthur Sackler used deceptive tactics to promote a Pfizer antibiotic in the 1950s; during the sixties, he marketed tranquilizers, including Roche’s Valium -- (“Mother’s Little Helper”).
“By 1973, American doctors were writing more than a hundred million tranquillizer [sic] prescriptions a year, and countless patients became hooked.”
A biweekly newspaper started by Sackler went on to acquire a readership of six hundred thousand physicians (conflict of interest?); in 1959, it came out that he had also paid off the head of the F.D.A., “nearly three hundred thousand dollars in exchange for … [the promotion of] certain drugs.”
“In 1997, the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society published a statement regarding the use of opioids to treat chronic pain. The statement was written by a committee chaired by Dr. J. David Haddox, a paid speaker for Purdue.
“Richard Sackler worked tirelessly to make OxyContin a blockbuster, telling colleagues how devoted he was to the drug’s success. The F.D.A. approved OxyContin in 1995, for use in treating moderate to severe pain. Purdue had conducted no clinical studies on how addictive or prone to abuse the drug might be. But the F.D.A., in an unusual step, approved a package insert for OxyContin which announced that the drug was safer than rival painkillers, because the patented delayed-absorption mechanism ‘is believed to reduce the abuse liability.’ David Kessler, who ran the F.D.A. at the time, told me that he was ‘not involved in the approval.’ The F.D.A. examiner who oversaw the process, Dr. Curtis Wright, left the agency shortly afterward. Within two years, he had taken a job at Purdue.
“Mortimer, Raymond, and Richard Sackler launched OxyContin with one of the biggest pharmaceutical marketing campaigns in history, deploying many persuasive techniques pioneered by Arthur. … The company assembled a sales force of as many as a thousand representatives and armed them with charts showing OxyContin’s benefits.”
“A major thrust of the sales campaign was that OxyContin should be prescribed not merely for the kind of severe short-term pain associated with surgery or cancer but also for less acute, longer-lasting pain: arthritis, back pain, sports injuries, fibromyalgia. The number of conditions that OxyContin could treat seemed almost unlimited. According to internal documents, Purdue officials discovered that many doctors wrongly assumed that oxycodone was less potent than morphine—a misconception that the company exploited."
“Purdue had a speakers’ bureau, and it paid several thousand clinicians to attend medical conferences and deliver presentations about the merits of the drug. Doctors were offered all-expenses-paid trips to pain-management seminars in places like Boca Raton. Such spending was worth the investment: internal Purdue records indicate that doctors who attended these seminars in 1996 wrote OxyContin prescriptions more than twice as often as those who didn’t. The company advertised in medical journals, sponsored Web sites about chronic pain, and distributed a dizzying variety of OxyContin swag: fishing hats, plush toys, luggage tags. Purdue also produced promotional videos featuring satisfied patients—like a construction worker who talked about how OxyContin had eased his chronic back pain, allowing him to return to work. The videos, which also included testimonials from pain specialists, were sent to tens of thousands of doctors. The marketing of OxyContin relied on an empirical circularity: the company convinced doctors of the drug’s safety with literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid, or funded, by the company.
“Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, who served as a drug-policy adviser to the Obama Administration, said, ‘That’s the real Greek tragedy of this—that so many well-meaning doctors got co-opted. The level of influence is just mind-boggling. Purdue gave money to continuing medical education, to state medical boards, to faux grassroots organizations.’ According to training materials, Purdue instructed sales representatives to assure doctors—repeatedly and without evidence—that ‘fewer than one per cent’ of patients who took OxyContin became addicted. (In 1999, a Purdue-funded study of patients who used OxyContin for headaches found that the addiction rate was thirteen per cent.)
“Within five years of its introduction, OxyContin was generating a billion dollars a year. ‘There is no sign of it slowing down,’ Richard Sackler told a team of company representatives in 2000. The sales force was heavily incentivized to push the drug. In a memo, a sales manager in Tennessee wrote, ‘$$$$$$$$$$$$$ It’s Bonus Time in the Neighborhood!’ May [a former pharmaceutical representative for Purdue Pharma], who was assigned to the Virginia area, was astonished to learn that especially skillful colleagues were earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions. One year, May’s own sales were so brisk that Purdue rewarded him with a trip to Hawaii. As prescriptions multiplied, Purdue executives—and the Sackler family members on the company’s board—appeared happy to fund such blandishments. Internal budget plans described the company’s sales force as its ‘most valuable resource.’ In 2001, Purdue Pharma paid forty million dollars in bonuses.
“One day, May drove with a colleague to Lewisburg, a small city in West Virginia. They were there to visit a doctor who had been one of May’s top prescribers. When they arrived, the doctor was ashen. A relative had just died, she explained. The girl had overdosed on OxyContin.”
Why go on?
Er. I mean, “Moderate Rebels”.
Why talk about continued billions in arms sales to countries that “fund terrorism”? Those are the words of a sitting U.S. President.
A day after a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. From Reuters:
“The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $1.1 billion sale of support services and facilities to Qatar for its F-15QA fighter aircraft program, a Pentagon agency said on Wednesday.
“The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it notified Congress of the possible sale, which includes design, construction and other services and facilities. The F-15 is made by Boeing Co.”
Here’s a Vice headline from back in June:
"TRUMP PUNISHES 'FUNDER OF TERRORISM' QATAR WITH $12 BILLION WEAPONS DEAL"
From Harvard University Press:
“In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, an English Catholic who had served with the Spanish army in Flanders, was discovered in a storeroom under the Palace of Westminster—and with him, thirty-six barrels of gunpowder earmarked to obliterate England’s royal family, top officials, and members of Parliament gathered for Parliament’s opening day. Had it succeeded, this Gunpowder Plot—a Catholic conspiracy against the recently crowned Protestant King James I and his government—English history would have been shaped by a terrorist act of unprecedented proportions.
"Today Guy Fawkes—whose name has long stood for the conspiracy—is among the most notorious figures in English history; and Bonfire Night, observed every November 5th to memorialize the narrowly foiled Gunpowder Plot, is one of the country’s most festive occasions. Why has the memory of this act of treason and terrorism persisted for 400 years?”
“John Milton once penned a famous poem that begins:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
“The poem of course refers to Guy Fawkes and his now infamous plot to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament on November 5th 1605. Fawkes’s aim was to remove King James I from the throne, and restore Britain’s Catholic monarchy. Had he succeeded Guy Fawkes would have not only killed the entirety of London’s governing body, but also taken much of London and its citizens down with them. However, the plot was discovered by authorities and Guy Fawkes was arrested, tortured, tried, and executed. After that Guy Fawkes should have become a forgotten martyr or terrorist of history. And yet November 5th has become a recognized British holiday: Guy Fawkes Day.”
“Today Guy Fawkes is remembered by even more than just a November 5th holiday. The figure of Guy Fawkes has inspired Alan Moore’s novel V for Vendetta, a 2006 film with Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, and the film’s distinct Guy Fawkes mask created by David Lloyd. In fact Guy Fawkes and his November 5th holiday, once only celebrated in England, has become an increasingly universal emblem used by anti-establishment protest groups throughout the international community.”
“More recently the mask of Guy Fawkes has been worn by supporters of the international ‘Occupy Movement’ against politicians, banks, and financial institutions. From New York, Sydney, to Bucharest protestors wear the mask of Guy Fawkes as they stand outside their national financial centers protesting greed, corruption, and an increasing lack of accountability within financial and political sectors.
“While use of the mask has increased, so have people’s opinions about what it truly represents. For some the mask has become a unifying ‘symbol of the movement against corporate and political greed’ while for others it has become an abused symbol of ‘active terrorism.’ Indeed, the memory of Guy Fawkes has inspired a holiday and a mask that, for some, have become international symbols against political and financial tyranny. But, like all symbols Guy Fawkes Day has grown to acquire a meaning far greater, and perhaps far different, than what Guy Fawkes could have ever imagined.”