A ‘Superbug’ Resistant To All Our Antibiotics

The issue of antibiotic resistance has been getting worse for quite some time. Today, well over five thousand Americans will acquire serious infections that are resistant to first-line antibiotics — think staph infection or tuberculosis. Second-line drugs will cost these patients between 50 and 200 times more than first-line drugs, not to mention the added cost of a hospital stay at about $2,000 per night. 63 Americans will die today from these infections. By year’s end, drug-resistant bacteria will have killed 23,000 — double the yearly number of firearm homicides.

In perhaps the most comprehensive report on the subject to date, economist Jim O’Neill predicted last month that by 2050, a staggering ten million people around the world will die of such infections every year — one person every three seconds.

— source thinkprogress.org | 2016

Let commons take over health care. health care is not for profit.

Nullius in verba

Private donors: the pied pipers of ‘modern slavery’?

As the director of an anti-slavery charity in London at the turn of the century, I would have welcomed a substantial injection of cash to supplement the income we received from our members, from a few private foundations and from several European governments. However, in the year that the UN Trafficking Protocol was adopted (2000), I felt we did not have enough technical expertise (despite being 160 years old) on how to tackle all the patterns of extreme exploitation that we knew to be occurring around the world. Nor did anyone else.

During the first decade of the 21st century, I saw the international community groping along a learning curve. Governments allocated more substantial amounts of money than before to their police in order to enable them to catch traffickers and bring them to trial. Industrialised countries, notably the USA and the European Union bloc, provided substantial amounts to international organisations for what were nominally anti-trafficking activities. They and smaller donors,

— source opendemocracy.net | Mike Dottridge | 29 Mar 2021

Nullius in verba

America’s Neoliberal Financialization Policy vs. China’s Industrial Socialism

Nearly half a millennium ago Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Princedescribed three options for how a conquering power might treat states that it defeated in war but that “have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom: … the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you.”[1]

Machiavelli preferred the first option, citing Rome’s destruction of Carthage. That is what the United States did to Iraq and Libya after 2001. But in today’s New Cold War the mode of destruction is largely economic, via trade and financial sanctions such as the United States has imposed on China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other designated adversaries. The idea is to deny them key inputs, above all in essential technology and information processing, raw materials, and access to bank and financial connections, such as U.S. threats to expel Russia from the SWIFT bank-clearing system.

The second option is to occupy rivals. This is done only partially by the troops in America’s 800 military bases abroad. But the usual, more efficient

— source nakedcapitalism.com | Michael Hudson | Apr 15, 2021

Nullius in verba

Hospitals Sued Patients over Medical Debt

We look at pandemic profiteering in the medical system as a new report by Kaiser Health News reveals some of the nation’s richest hospitals recorded hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus over the past year after accepting federal healthcare bailout grants. This comes as hospitals in New York have sued thousands of patients during the pandemic, and Northwell — which is run by a close ally of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — has faced intense criticism for practices like billing patients at its Lenox Hill Hospital over $3,000 for COVID tests — more than 30 times the typical cost. “There’s a lot of talk in our healthcare system about putting patients first, … but this is not doing that,” says Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York and co-founder of the Health Care for All New York campaign. “Suing patients ruins their lives.” We also discuss how Biden’s CARES Act made 3.7 million more people eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies.

Here in New York, the state’s largest nonprofit health system, Northwell, received $1.2 billion in federal funds from the CARES Act. But Northwell, which is run by a close ally of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has faced intense criticism for suing over 2,500 patients last year for failing to pay their medical bills. It only stopped suing for medical debt after a report by the Community Service Society exposed the practice. Meanwhile, The New York Times recently revealed one of Northwell’s facilities, the Lenox Hill Hospital, billed over $3,000 for COVID tests — more than 30 times the typical cost.

— source democracynow.org | 2021/4/6

Nullius in verba

Public Health and Big Pharma Monopoly Protections

With growing momentum behind the global campaign for a temporary, emergency waiver of some of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) intellectual property (IP) to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, the pharmaceutical industry is arguing the initiative is not necessary or helpful. These claims, while not original, are still worth debunking, given they distract from the mission at hand: removing legal and political obstacles to scale up manufacturing of the critical goods we need to combat a raging pandemic.

There are several accounts that thoroughly explain why waiving certain provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is critical and how it could contribute, along with other efforts, to ramping up production of vaccines, treatments, diagnostic tests and equipment so that we can end the pandemic as quickly as possible. (You can see our contribution here.)

The IP-maximalists — the usual Pharma CEOs and various associations and spokespeople — started from the old hymnal: (i) IP is not really an obstacle, (ii)

— source citizen.typepad.com | Daniel Rangel | Mar 16, 2021

Nullius in verba

Our Biggest Tax Evaders have been Living High on the Hog

Cheating on your taxes — if you happen to be filthy rich — has never been easier. Or more lucrative.

So we’re learning from a new surge of scholarship and research from academics, activists, and veteran tax attorneys. Our richest aren’t just paying a smaller share of their income and wealth in taxes than average Americans. Many of our rich, the data show, are barely paying any tax at all.

How could this be? The simplest reason: Budget and staffing cuts, report researchers at the Syracuse University TRAC project, have left the IRS “incapable of fairly and effectively auditing” the over 637,000 Americans who last year

— source counterpunch.org | Sam Pizzigati | Mar 29, 2021

Nullius in verba

Argentina Pays Paul Singer’s “Vulture Fund” $2.4 Billion

new details have emerged about this week’s settlement between Argentina and billionaire Republican Party donor Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management. Elliott Management was one of many U.S. hedge funds to buy up Argentine debt at pennies on the dollar amid the country’s economic crisis in 2001. Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had long demanded the hedge funds, which she called “vulture funds,” renegotiate the debt, arguing they were unfairly profiting off Argentina’s economic crisis. But this week, President Mauricio Macri’s right-wing government agreed to pay Singer’s fund and three others $4.65 billion. Singer’s fund itself netted $2.4 billion—10 to 15 times its original investment.


Nullius in verba