Of poison, wealth, banks & academic corruption

Poisoning for profit

Hey, who cares if the drug that literally beefs up our diet also happens to be banned in most nations around the world. And who cares if it’s a suspected culprit in myriad health problems. The bottom line is that it boosts the bottom line, so it’s cool right?

By Martha Rosenberg, from Counterpunch [via Alternet]

While researchers and scientists investigate the cause of our diabetes, obesity, asthma and ADHD epidemics, they should ask why the FDA approved a livestock drug banned in 160 nations and responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and 10 percent mortality in pigs, according to angry farmers who phoned the manufacturer.

The beta agonist ractopamine, a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, was recruited for livestock use when researchers found the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular says Beef magazine.

But unlike the growth promoting antibiotics and hormones used in livestock which are withdrawn as the animal nears slaughter, ractopamine is started as the animal nears slaughter.

As much as twenty percent of Paylean, given to pigs for their last 28 days, Optaflexx, given to cattle their last 28 to 42 days

and Tomax, given to turkeys their last 7 to 14 days, remains in consumer meat says author and well known veterinarian Michael W. Fox.

Though banned in Europe, Taiwan and China—more than 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs since 1998 says the Sichuan Pork Trade Chamber of Commerce—ractopamine is used in 45 percent of US pigs and 30 percent of ration-fed cattle says Elanco Animal Health which manufactures all three products.

How does a drug marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask” become “safe” in human food?

And the rich get richer

While unemployment has been hitting record levels, there’s one bright spot in the economic news. The ranks of America’s millionaires are growing, says Bloomberg reporter Alexis Leondis:

March 9 (Bloomberg) — The millionaires’ club in the U.S. grew by 16 percent in 2009, following a 27 percent decline in 2008.

Families with a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding primary residences, rose to 7.8 million in 2009, an increase from 6.7 million a year earlier, according to a survey of high- net-worth U.S. households conducted by Spectrem Group.

“With the markets trending upwards, we expected an increase,” George H. Walper Jr., president of Spectrem Group, said in a telephone interview. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 24 percent in 2009 and has risen 68 percent over the past 12 months.

Affluent households, which the survey defined as those with net assets of $500,000 or more, increased 12 percent to 12.7 million, the Chicago-based consulting firm said in a statement today. The number of households with a net worth of more than $5 million rose 17 percent to 980,000, Spectrem said.

Pity the poor banksters

Even the European Union seems to be getting fed up with the antics of the Wall Street loot-and-scooters, reports the estimable Michael Collins at Daily Censored.

Wall Streets is headed toward international pariah status thanks to two recent actions by the European Union (EU).

On Tuesday, the EU announced that it was banning Wall Street banks from the lucrative government bond business in Europe.   They didn’t express official concern or fire off a warning shot.  They simply banned Wall Street from financing government bond deals like the one Goldman Sachs sold to Greece.  The Guardian pointed out that Wall Street bond business from European governments has gone down over the last two years.  Now the business is gone period. In effect, the EU has labeled Wall Streets business tactics as too dangerous for their governments to handle.

Then on Wednesday, the President of the European Commission said that the EU was considering a ban on government debt speculation through Credit Default Swaps (CDS)  President José Manuel Barroso announced that, “the Commission will examine closely the relevance of banning purely speculative naked sales on Credit Default Swaps of sovereign debt.”   While not an outright ban, the threat of banning CDS on national debt would be a major loss for the world’s financial speculators, particularly those in the United States and Great Britain.

These two hostile moves toward Wall Street by Europe were discussed by officials in the context of the current Greek debt crisis.  Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs has been implicated in helping the Greek government hide the true nature and size of the debt.  Discovery of this sleight-of-hand action exacerbated an already challenging crisis.

Quote of the day

From Justin Frewen, the Irish Left Review:

Approximately 80% of global citizens live in states with rising income differentials against a mere 4% where they are contracting. This trend holds true for states experiencing significant or negligible economic growth both in the North (Northern Hemisphere) and South (Southern Hemisphere). Perhaps the most striking example of increasing inequality in the North is the US, where between 1973 and 2005 the richest 0.01% saw their incomes rise by 250% at the same time as the bottom 90% experienced a real average income fall of 11%.

But never fear. If recent actions by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are any indication, she’ll set those Euro-trashers back on course, just like she’s now engaged in telling Venezuela to abandon all that egalitarian shit, and get back to worshiping the at the altar of the market, just like good ol’ Uncle Sam.

Banksters engage in lobbying frenzy

From Andy Kroll at the Mother Jones Mojo blog:

Bailed-out automakers like General Motors and Chrysler and their banking brethren who the government rescued in 2008 and 2009 are on a K Street shopping spree. As The Hill reports today, those companies that pleaded for billions in government funding to stay afloat are now hiring the top lobbying firepower that Washington has to offer, making sure their voices are heard as Congress tackles a spate of new bills like comprehensive financial-reform and health-care legislation.

General Motors, for instance, has hired three big lobbying outfits—Public Strategies, Navigators, and Dutko Worldwide—to press lawmakers on issues such as tax reform and auto safety, the latter a hot-button issue given the recent hearings in Congress on Toyota’s safety woes. And two big-name players in the banking world—Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—have ramped up their lobbying arsenal as well in the past two or three months. In December and January, Goldman hired the Harold Ford Group and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher to lobby on financial-reform legislation, and Morgan Stanley retained the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in January to work on financial-reform—an issue that could have seismic effects on how the two firms and the rest of Wall Street do business.

Anthropologists join the military/industrial complex

From Open Anthropology, a critical article on the role of anthropologists in the GWOT as profitable enlistees in the “Human Terrain System.” And explore the blog for lots more on the HTS.

Any suggestion that HTS is not about supporting war, and separate from the military-industrial complex and corporate war-profiteering, is at the very least naïve or disingenuous. As soon as corporations become such a significant part of the picture, arguments about “saving lives,” “peace keeping,” and “cultural sensitivity” become, at the very best, secondary concerns. The main concern for any corporation is the accumulation of capital. The main concern for any war corporatist is the accumulation of capital derived from engagement in warfare – the main drive is to maintain the war that produces the contracts that generate revenue and growth. HTS is thus very much part of the neoliberal economy of warfare, and academics are recruited – regardless of whatever they believe were the reasons for their recruitment – in order to support imperial warfare and to expand the profits of empire. Indeed, it would seem that several of the more outspoken HTS recruits from academia have been extremely naïve in their representations of the nature and purpose of their work – either naïve, or consciously duplicitous and cynical.

It should also be noted that several of these corporations (Lincoln) have been found to have roles in planting propaganda in foreign newspapers, which later fed back into U.S. domestic media coverage of foreign wars, and have performed roles in domestic spying (BAE Systems, Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC], MZM Inc.) and building domestic “counterterrorism” and “homeland security” capabilities (ManTech, and others). What is thus also being constructed, with the aid of HTS as pretext and justification, is the further development of repressive technologies aimed at the U.S. public. This is part of the blowback of empire against democracy at home.

A reminder, from Ike’s farewell address

As cited here before, after his famous words deploring the impacts of the military/industrial complex, Dwight David Eisenhower had a few words to offer about academic corruption as well:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.


One response to “Of poison, wealth, banks & academic corruption

  1. uncommonscolds

    Good articles.

    Unfortunately they are more reminders that America is well on its way to being the first high-tech, corporate-owned Third World country. Or are we already there?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s