Monday, October 24, 2011

Remember the Good Ole Days of Raygun & His Trusty Team? NOW We Live Under the Capitalist Network That Runs the World: Murdoch Pays Off - David Ickes - Agenda of OWS (Bayer Bared!)

Is any of this history starting to make sense yet?

[This blog is hoping for an angel to descend and help to defray expenses. Calling all angels!]

 Sure. We're outta there.

Not. (Lifted gently with great admiration from the dynamic Wonkette.)

From Spencer Ackerman’s excellent report at the Danger Room:

But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security does not have a promising record when it comes to managing its mercenaries. The 2007 Nisour Square shootings by State’s security contractors, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed, marked one of the low points of the war. Now, State will be commanding a much larger security presence, the equivalent of a heavy combat brigade. In July, Danger Room exclusively reported that the Department blocked the Congressionally-appointed watchdog for Iraq from acquiring basic information about contractor security operations, such as the contractors’ rules of engagement.

That means no one outside the State Department knows how its contractors will behave as they ferry over 10,000 U.S. State Department employees throughout Iraq — which, in case anyone has forgotten, is still a war zone. Since Iraq wouldn’t grant legal immunity to U.S. troops, it is unlikely to grant it to U.S. contractors, particularly in the heat and anger of an accident resulting in the loss of Iraqi life.

It’s a situation with the potential for diplomatic disaster. And it’s being managed by an organization with no experience running the tight command structure that makes armies cohesive and effective.

(Did I mention I'm crazy about Simon Johnson?)

Revealed – The Capitalist Network that Runs the World

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue <i>(Image: </i>PLoS One<i>)</i>

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue (Image: PLoS One) 1 more image

AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by  New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo).

But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).

"Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it's conspiracy theories or free-market," says James Glattfelder. "Our analysis is reality-based."

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world's economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy - whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image).

Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms - the "real" economy - representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network.

"In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

John Driffill of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability.

Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core's tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. "If one [company] suffers distress," says Glattfelder, "this propagates."

"It's disconcerting to see how connected things really are," agrees George Sugihara of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, a complex systems expert who has advised Deutsche Bank.

Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), warns that the analysis assumes ownership equates to control, which is not always true. Most company shares are held by fund managers who may or may not control what the companies they part-own actually do. The impact of this on the system's behaviour, he says, requires more analysis.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Bar-Yam says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

One thing won't chime with some of the protesters' claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. "Such structures are common in nature," says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, "is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups". Or as Braha puts it: "The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy."

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

The Top 50 of the 147 Superconnected Companies:

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used.

Graphic: The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy
PLoS One)

The Kids Camping on Wall Street Are The Capitalists, Not the People in the Buildings

Friday, 10/21/2011
Bruce Judson | 4 Comments


Which group is still abiding by the important capitalist principles of accountability, competitiveness, and equal justice?

Today, some of the leading capitalists in the nation are located on Wall Street. Sadly, it is the protesters outside who are literally on the street who embody the ideal rewards and responsibilities of capitalism, not the financiers who occupy the buildings.
This is the first in a short series of articles that explores the nature of a well-functioning capitalist system and how this system is now applied to the occupants of the buildings on Wall Street and those who are, quite literally, on The Street.
Capitalism is not an abstract ideal. It is as real as any market or currency. And it is the organizing principle that has, for over two centuries, powered the strength and resilience of America.
As we think about capitalism, it’s also useful to make an important distinction: It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. You may espouse capitalist ideals, but if you oppose responsibility, dishonor contracts, oppose competition, and embrace government subsidies, you are not a practicing capitalist.
For capitalism to work, there are several fundamental requirements: accountability, equal justice under the law, a clearly articulated purpose (and accompanying cost) for government subsidies of a specialized class of citizens, competition, and a relationship between the creation of profits and the creation of real wealth for the larger society.
Many of the protestors in New York City and around the country are jobless college graduates. The majority in all likelihood financed their education through federally subsidized student loans. A central characteristic of today’s generation of student loans is that, unlike most debts, they cannot automatically be discharged in bankruptcy. As a consequence, they are one of the few expenses in our society for which an individual is likely to be accountable throughout his life.
As a nation, we teach our most promising youth, from the age of 18 on, the importance of accountability. We use the federal government to subsidize an investment in human capital. In return, the beneficiaries enter into a lifetime of responsibility and accountability. It is a sacred contract. It is arguably one of the best, and potentially harshest, lessons of accountability associated with capitalism in our society today.
Now, let’s contrast this high accountability with the behavior that occurred in our financial sector. When our largest financial firms created havoc in the U.S. economy through undisputed greed, mismanagement, and extreme risk, some important things happened.

First, the government bailed the companies out without demanding any substantial change in behavior, and then the individuals responsible were not held accountable through civil or criminal law. As a result, the people who brought the nation close to the brink of economic collapse and caused untold pain and suffering — which continues to this day — returned after a brief hiatus to record levels of compensation.
Individuals who earned tens of millions of dollars continue to earn these extraordinary sums. They have never been called to account for their deeds.

Can this be right? What about the many civil settlements negotiated by the federal government and the SEC? I would argue that, in light of the extraordinary profits these firms and individuals generate, such settlements are now viewed as a “cost of doing business.” They appear to have almost no impact on the behavior or attitude of the nation’s financiers.
Now let’s contrast the kids on the street with the employees of The Street. The kids are accountable for their debts. They know it, and they simply want jobs so they can fulfill their civic responsibilities. In contrast, the occupants of the building on Wall Street act as if the rules of accountability — which are central to a viable system of capitalism — apply to everyone except them. Instead, many of the Wall Street elite have developed a dangerous sense of entitlement.
I would argue that in a true, competitive capitalist society, the idea of entitlement is anathema to all participants. It suggests that rewards are disbursed because of who people are, as opposed to the tangible wealth they create for the nation.
It’s worth noting that old timers on Wall Street may still remember that until 1970 the New York Stock exchange mandated that investment banks be organized as some of the most accountable businesses in existence. Prior to going public, in the late 20th century Wall Street firms were organized as old-fashioned partnerships.
The central idea of these partnerships was that every partner was fully liable for all of the debts incurred by the firm. If the partnership could not meet its obligations, the partners were required to meet these obligations with their own funds until they were personally bankrupt as well.
It was a self-policing system that provided high incentives for investment banks to manage the risks they undertook. When every partner is liable, each has the highest possible incentive to ensure that the firm is not exposed to potential default. If they fail in this responsibility, both the firm and the individual partners can be wiped out. This rule was meant to avoid precisely what happened in the financial crisis.
Now these same publicly held financial institutions have been bailed out by the government and the high-paid executives are apparently immune — both with respect to their pay, their sources of employment, and their personal funds — from any day of reckoning.
The philosopher John Rawls is widely recognized for his theories of justice. In one exercise, his “veil of ignorance,” he suggests that if you are faced with a decision you should pretend you don’t know what kind of participant in the process you will be, so that “everyone is impartially situated as equals.” Since you are blind to your own interests, you are likely to develop the fairest answer. (I have found this to be the perfect exercise for sharing desserts. I cut the cake and then let each individual choose a piece. Since I don’t know what piece I will end up with, my cutting is far more likely to divide the pieces equally.)
Now let’s apply a variant of Rawls’s ideas to the situation on Wall Street today. You are a visitor from a foreign country or an alien world with no knowledge of Wall Street or capitalism. Then the principles of capitalism are explained to you and you are asked to identify the capitalists in this confrontation: the people in the buildings or the people congregating on the street. Which would you choose?

(Bruce Judson is Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and a former Senior Faculty Fellow at the Yale School of Management.)

It's hard to believe that a person as deeply corrupt and exposed as Murdoch (heck, all of them) is still in business isn't it? Shame isn't exactly a business virtue these days.

Movement Spins Off OccupyMARINES and OccupyPolice 

Goldman Sachs Withdraws from Sponsoring
Credit Union Honoring Occupy Wall St.

Mitch McConnell: Police, Firefighter Layoffs Not My Problem
 The part I always looked forward to in any drama about economic transgressions was when the innocent character (child or just naive adult) would ask, "Why won't the wealthy help us? They have so much already." Just hearing the next lines was always worth the price of the ticket.

Rupert Delivers the Profits, Analysts Dodge the Hard Issues

Stephen Mayne

When Rupert and James Murdoch walked in to face more than two hours of questions from a group of British politicians last month, it turned into an unprecedented grilling which unearthed significant information and context on the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The whole exercise demonstrated the benefit of unscripted, open-ended, independent public questioning of powerful figures. It was a fine example of democracy in action.
The same can't be said for this morning's conference call with analysts and journalists to discuss the better-than-expected $US2.74 billion net profit which News Corp revealed for the 2010-11 financial year.
The financial analysts are a supine bunch. They trade on their access to management and an ability to crunch the numbers, advising clients whether to buy or sell News Corp. Governance, accountability and transparency doesn't easily translate into numbers on a spreadsheet.
News Corp promotes the names and telephone numbers of 28 analysts which follow the company on its website.
I emailed them all yesterday with a list of suggested questions and arguments, but none of them managed to rise to the challenge of raising any challenging issues during 31 minutes of questioning this morning. Have a listen to how their 12 questions unfolded.
Maybe this is because most analysts are employed by global investment banks such as Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, which have collectively pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars of fees from News Corp over the years. The conflicts of interest are many and varied, which explains why it is a rare analyst who asks Rupert Murdoch a pointed question on a conference call.
The journalists on the quarterly News Corp conference calls are normally treated as second-class citizens, given a brief window to ask questions once the analysts are done.
Representatives from Reuters, the Financial Times, the Hollywood Reporter and National Public Radio quickly cut to the chase this morning on the myriad of legal and governance issues besetting the company.
Unsurprisingly, the call was shut down after six questions from six journalists over six minutes as the 80-year-old News Corp founder struggled to answer questions about whether he still wanted James Murdoch to succeed him, how US regulatory probes were going and whether he would refresh the board with new independent directors.
While the Murdoch management team clearly had a strategy to allow chief operating officer Chase Carey do much of the talking on the business, it was striking that Rupert Murdoch was doing all the talking on behalf of the directors that are supposed to represent non-Murdoch shareholders.
It was Rupert who declared during his three-minute opening address that the board supports him remaining as the world's longest-serving CEO of a public company and Rupert who declared that Chase Carey supports James Murdoch staying in his current role.
Despite meeting over two days this week in Los Angeles this week, no independent director fronted today's call to give a board perspective on behalf of the 87 per cent of News Corp which is owned by non-Murdoch investors.
Melbourne-based Sir Rod Eddington, who is supposed to be the lead independent director and chairman of the board audit and risk committee, hasn't said boo publicly since the hacking scandal exploded on July 4.
When challenged about the board not being independent, Rupert cut one journalist off to declare that lawyer and Georgetown University professor Viet Dinh is completely independent.

The conference call was then shut down before the obvious follow up question: "how can Viet Dinh be the independent chair of the governance committee when he is godfather to one of Lachlan Murdoch's sons?"
As for the profit numbers, this is how the various News Corp divisions performed in 2011-12:

  • Global cable TV: profit up from $US2.27 billion to $US2.76 billion with Fox News a key driver
  • 20th Century Fox film division: profit down from $US1.35 billion to $US927 million as Avatar earnings run down
  • Newspapers, magazines, books and inserts: profit up from $US467 million to $US864 million but numbers distorted by one-offs and projected future earnings under pressure
  • Free-to-air US television: profit up from $US230 million to $681 million on strong ratings and healthy advertising growth
  • BSkyB: 39 per cent profit share dipped from $US537 million to $US498 million
  • Sky Italia: profit steady at $US232 million
  • Other: losses blew out from $US575 million to $614 million largely thanks to Myspace loss of $US230 million but this has now been sold for $US35 million
The market seemed impressed with the overall message from News Corp, especially the emphasis on moving aggressively to implement a $US5 billion share buyback over the next 12 months.
When trading opened in Australia, News Corp shares gained up to 2 per cent in a falling market.
However, Rupert was very reluctant to give ground on any key issues, besides once again apologising for the "appalling" News of the World scandal and promising to do whatever it takes to clean up the mess and ensure it never happens again.
Excluding News of the World, he declared "everything else is fine" in the troubled publishing operations, although there were promises to cut costs and he said the headcount in the Australian division had already been significantly reduced in all divisions.
Whilst The Wall Street Journal was the only US paper to increase advertising revenue in 2010-11, the real encouragement for investors came from the booming global cable television business, led by Fox News.
You know a company is really making money when it pays a lot of tax, and News Corp's tax charge soared from $US679 million to a record $US1.03 billion in 2010-11.
Investors were also heartened that profits are forecast to rise by more than 12 per cent this year, although there was no detail provided on the one-off costs from the News of the World closure. The foregone profits and associated litigation will ultimately end up costing shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars, especially if it is never considered viable to launch a Sunday Sun to replace the highly profitable News of the World.
As for any future attempt to revisit the aborted BSkyB takeover, the message today was to forget about it, hence the strong support to spend the cash designated for this move on a $US5 billion share buyback.
With the final conference call of the year now concluded, Rupert Murdoch won't have to front up publicly again until the October annual meeting in New York.
. . . Rupert groups every resolution into one limited debate.
Things will certainly be different this year when the 13 non-Murdoch directors on the News Corp board will all be up for re-election. After arguably the biggest governance scandal ever to hit a listed multi-national company, expect substantial protest votes from investors and some very sharp questioning.

(Stephen Mayne is a former News Ltd journalist and a director of the Australian Shareholders' Association who will be travelling to New York for the News Corp AGM in October. Follow him on Twitter @maynereport.)

And on nowhere near a lighter note, we learn (or relearn) the history of Bayer. (You'll need an aspirin after this, at least.)

Right Wing Paradise - A World With No Regulations... Take Yaz And Bayer 

Saturday, Oct. 22

Would Bayer put your life at risk? Well... that depends on how much profit they could make. The company was founded in Germany in 1863 and later became a key component of IG Farben, the biggest of the Nazi conglomerates that bankrolled Hitler, made mega profits off slave labor in concentration camps and manufactured all the chemicals needed to exterminate the Jews and anyone else the Nazis decided were untermeschen.

Bayer also invented heroin. Bayer, like all the big pharmaceutical companies calculates the value of new drugs by including the inevitable wrongful death suits and fines, fines that more often than not result in their having hidden evidence from the FDA in the process of getting approval.

Bayer spends immense amounts of money on legalistic bribes - overwhelmingly to Republicans (80%) and some conservative Democrats willing to vote against consumer interests with the Republicans. In he 2010 cycle Bayer spent $334,018 to help the Republicans take control of Congress, understanding full well the GOP attitude towards regulations that protect the public from predatory drug companies like itself.

Big Pharma has spent $121,637,009 on direct "contributions" to federal candidates, again, most of it to Republicans and most of the rest to corrupt conservative Democrats. Big Pharma's biggest friend in the House are all well-known for protecting drug manufacturers interests over the interests of the public, particularly 5 of Congress' sleaziest and most corrupt Members:

Joe Barton (R-TX)- $849,738
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $631,241
Dave Camp (R-MI)- $586,897
John Boehner (R-OH)- $582,280
Charlie Rangel (D-NY)- $570,402
I heard Mike Papantonio discussing the Yaz case with Sam Seder on the radio this evening. That's how I came to find the video above.

Lawsuits have been filed against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical for the birth control drug Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella. Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella birth control pills all contain drospirenone, a synthetic form of progestin which works in combination with ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) to prevent pregnancy. Drospirenone is not contained in other forms of birth control and is believed to be the major cause of side effects from Ocella, Yasmin and Yaz. Two recent case-control studies published in the British Medical Journal show that patients on the birth control pills containing drospirenone have a 200% higher risk of serious injury than those patients using first or second generation oral contraception.

The New York Times major news story recently published a on the growing safety concerns with Yaz. Bayer manufactures and markets Yaz and Yasmin. Ocella, meanwhile, is a generic form of Yasmin. Bayer manufactures Ocella which is then packaged and sold by Barr Laboratories, which has recently been acquired by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Side effects of Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella may include:
• heart attacks
• strokes
• deep vein thrombosis
• pulmonary embolism
• blood clots in the legs and lungs
• cardiac arrhythmia
• gallbladder disease
• kidney failure
• sudden death

From the 2009 NY Times story by Natasha Singer:

The oral contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin are the top-selling pharmaceutical line for Bayer HealthCare, largely as a result of marketing that presents them as much more than mere pregnancy prevention.

Yaz, in particular, the top-selling birth control pill in the United States, owes much of its popularity to multimillion-dollar ad campaigns that have promoted the drug as a quality-of-life treatment to combat acne and severe premenstrual depression.

Yaz, a newer sister drug to Yasmin, contains less estrogen. The franchise had worldwide sales of about $1.8 billion last year, based on Bayer’s successful positioning of Yasmin and Yaz as the go-to drug brands for women under 35.

But recently, the Yaz line’s image has been clouded by concerns from some researchers, health advocates and plaintiffs’ lawyers. They say that the drugs put women at higher risk for blood clots, strokes and other health problems than some other birth control pills do.

Those critics, though, are up against a large European health study, sponsored by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant, that reported the opposite conclusion. The Bayer-financed study said that cardiovascular risks in women taking Bayer products were comparable to those taking an older formula of birth control pills.

But regulators are finding other faults with the Yaz franchise. The Food and Drug Administration early this year asked Bayer to correct misleading television commercials. Last month, the agency cited the company for not following proper quality control procedures at a plant that makes hormone ingredients.

In e-mail responses to a reporter’s queries, the American unit of the company said that its birth-control drugs had been and continued to be extensively studied and that the company stood behind their safety. The company also said it had responded to the F.D.A.’s questions about manufacturing practices, which it said it took very seriously.

But even if Bayer can adequately respond to the safety and other concerns, some industry analysts say that the avalanche of criticism could tarnish the Yaz line’s image. Other products by Bayer, like the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra and the intrauterine birth-control system Mirena, generate far less income than the Yaz product family.

“For Bayer, it is by far the highest margin and the fastest-growing brand,” Martin Brunninger, an analyst with the European investment bank Bryan, Garnier & Company, said in a phone interview from London on Wednesday. “Whether this turns out to be a serious issue or not, when a drug is stigmatized in public, people just withdraw from taking it.”

Bayer said that the company had been served with 74 lawsuits brought by women who charge that they developed health problems after taking Yaz or Yasmin. The company says it intends to defend itself vigorously against the suits.

...Lawyers suing Bayer on behalf of plaintiffs who claim that they developed blood clots, heart attacks and other health problems because they took the drugs said they intended to argue that the company knew or should have known that the pills entailed a higher risk.

One such plaintiff is Anne Marie Eakins, a history teacher in Grafton, Ohio, who developed blood clots in both lungs in 2007 and, as a result, she said, lost partial use of her right lung. She had used a variety of different birth control pills over more than a decade before starting Yaz in 2007, she said.
“To be perfectly honest, I asked my doctor about Yaz because I had seen the commercial and it mentioned helping control your period symptoms and acne, which was very attractive to me,” said Ms. Eakins, 34. “I didn’t think it was going to be worse than any other pill.”

Because drug labels for Yasmin and Yaz contain warnings about the risk of side effects like blood clots and strokes, plaintiffs may have a difficult time winning cases with the argument that the company should have issued stronger alerts. But, armed with F.D.A. warning letters to Bayer, lawyers may find more success with the argument that misleading Yaz commercials enticed women to take the drug, thereby exposing them to health risks they might not otherwise have incurred.

Last October, the agency sent Bayer a warning letter, citing the company for running two false and misleading television ads about Yaz. According to the letter, the ads overstated the drug’s efficacy, promoted it for conditions like premenstrual syndrome for which the drug is not approved, and minimized serious risks associated with the drug. In February, Bayer agreed to spend $20 million on a corrective advertising campaign to counteract misimpressions created by the original television spots.

Last month, the agency sent Bayer a warning letter about another problem-- deviations from quality control standards at a manufacturing plant in Germany that makes drospirenone and other hormone ingredients used in Bayer’s birth control pills sold in the United States. The letter said that the way in which the facility calculated variability in ingredients did not meet American standards.

Bayer said it was taking the matter seriously. Maintaining good manufacturing practices and patient safety continue to be top priorities at Bayer, the company said in a statement.

But Mr. Santoro of the Rutgers Business School said that drug companies should set higher standards for themselves than those set by the F.D.A.

“It tells me,” Mr. Santoro said of Bayer, “that it is not understanding the business that it is in, that it is not understanding the health risks that it is posing to the public or the financial risk that it is creating for its shareholders.”
From Bryan at Why Now:

Over at Naked Capitalism they put up this action request – NYC Residents: Please Attend 6:00 PM Meeting Today to Bar Real Estate Board Plan to Block #OccupyWallStreet Protests. [Update: via Steve Bates, Cynthia Kouril blogged it. Looks like a goal for the Board.]
The problem for the 1% is that the Occupy Wall Street group keeps abiding by the rules and the laws. That’s why the Казаки have to keep attacking them and setting up traps – these DFH keeps ‘coloring within the lines’. So now they are attempting to change the rules to force them out.
Graeber, an anthropologist and one of the earliest members of the OWS movement, discovered that the central cadre of the movement is made up of university educated 20-somethings who have always ‘played by the rules’, and now want to know why they haven’t achieved any success, and can’t find jobs.
These aren’t DFH radicals, these are ‘American Dreamers’, i.e. they worked hard and went to school as their parents and guidance counselors advised them to do. Now they are worse off than high school dropouts, because they have huge student loans in addition to being unemployed. You can imagine how they react to politicians talking about ‘job training’ to solve the unemployment problem.
Bryce Covert of New Deal 2.0 looks at The Economics Behind Occupy Wall Street: Shameful Income Inequality. While the 1% are making money hand-over-fist, everyone else is going backwards. We have corporate profits and poverty going up at almost the same rate. The system is broken.
From White Noise Insanity:

Bank of America Hopes You Don’t Notice Their Big Head Behind the Curtain Valued at $75 TRILLION….


Bank of America, Wall Street, the insiders, day traders, the hedge fund managers, AIG and others are so glad you’re here. They need you, you American Schmuck.

They love their privatized profits so much so that they don’t mind creating a $1.5 QUADRILLION DOLLAR DERIVATIVES BUBBLE out of thin air and sheer greed, because they know they have you, The American Schmuck, to focus on the $14 trillion dollar debt our nation has instead of focusing on the Big Head Behind the Curtain of $75 TRILLION that Bank of America is moving $75 TRILLION in DERIVATIVES to insure these risky bets in the Wall Street High Stakes Casino they made, but want you, The Schmuck, to bail them out when needed!


They love “socialism” when it’s time for the payout. Don’t let them fool you. They’re totally fine in you paying for their bad behavior.

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