Category Archives: 9. Corporate Power is Protected

Harvard Psychiatrists Who Advocated Antipsychotics for Kids Took $4.2M From Big Pharma

“Three US psychiatrists, responsible for trailblazing the use of antipsychotic drugs in children, are facing sanctions for their failure to declare their acceptance of millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies between 2000 and 2007. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, child psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, were first identified three years ago in an investigation led by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley as failing to disclose potential conflicts of interests that could have arisen due to payments from pharmaceutical companies. Biederman had pioneered the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents, a disorder previously thought to affect only adults. One of the world’s most influential child psychiatrists, Biederman’s work led to a 40-fold increase in paediatric bipolar disorder diagnoses and an accompanying expansion in the use of antipsychotic drugs – developed to treat schizophrenia and not originally approved for use in children – to treat the condition. … Grassley revealed the trio’s misconduct in 2008, following his high-profile investigation of the psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, and the three eventually admitted to receiving a combined total of $4.2 million from drug companies. The large number of psychiatrists investigated by Grassley’s probe poses the question of whether this field is more susceptible to competing interests or, as some suggest, suffers from higher scrutiny due to prejudices against psychiatry.”

Nature News Blog: Harvard scientists disciplined for not declaring ties to drug companies.

Aerosolized Pork Brain and Why You’ll Never Eat SPAM Again


“The symptoms were inconsistent with any known infections, and workers’ families were unaffected, so the disorder didn’t seem to be transmissible by human-to-human contact. Like Lachance, DeVries concluded that the illness had to be an autoimmune response, most likely triggered by something inside the plant. DeVries arranged a site visit for November 28. Accompanied by QPP officials, the MDH team, led by state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield, progressed down the head table and eventually reached the brain machine. They stood silently for a moment, watching the bursts of air rising into a red cloud, a small amount each time but enough, as it drifted and accumulated, to gradually coat workers at the head table. Lynfield pointed out that nearly all the affected workers were stationed near the brain machine and asked CEO Kelly Wadding, “What do you think is going on?” Wadding reportedly replied, “Let’s stop harvesting brains.”

The Spam Factory’s Dirty Secret, Mother Jones via Metafilter

Very Simple Puzzle Pieces

“There’s something a lot more sinister in this trend. It goes something like this:

  • It’s too expensive to hire Americans locally to do grunt work, because they’re all too proud, and want to improve their lot, so they all get college degrees. And, hiring people with college degrees still comes at a premium.
  • We can outsource, or import uneducated immigrants, but those options have downsides.
  • Hey, why don’t we wage a campaign to start convincing Americans that they shouldn’t go to college at all? Then, we can get even closer to our ideal of a permanent underclass, who we can hire cheaply and locally, by taking people who would have been expensive to hire, and making them cheaper in the long run. It’ll take a while to get there, but we’re good at playing the long game.

Anyone notice how it’s all rich captains of industry who are poo-pooing higher education? You know, the same ones who imploded the economy and are blocking all manner of job recovery by insisting that the deficit is the biggest problem, rather than unemployment? It all fits together like very simple puzzle pieces.”

Commenter on MetaFilter

Hedge Funds Prep the Farmland Bubble

“Three years later, the purchase of farmland both in America and abroad by outside investors has increased-so much so that in February, Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, warned against the violent possibilities of a farmland bubble, telling the Senate Agriculture Committee that “distortions in financial markets” will catch the U.S. by surprise again. He would know, because he’s seeing it in his backyard: Kansas and Nebraska reported farmland prices 20 percent above the previous year’s levels and are on pace to double values in four years. A study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and released in January estimated the amount of private capital currently committed to farmland and agricultural infrastructure at $14 billion. It also estimated that future investments will “dwarf” what’s currently being thrown into land, by two to three times. Further down, the study makes a conservative projection that the amount of capital potentially entering the sector over the next decade will fly past $150 billion.”

Hedge Farm! The Doomsday Food Price Scenario Turning Hedgies into Survivalists | The New York Observer.

At a Guess

“At a guess, it will make a subset of random minutiae of everyday life more like Facebook while we continue to change the climate, burn up all our energy without developing any sort of sustainable replacement, turn dwindling supplies of rare earth metals into bullshit lifestyle gadgets that basically serve only to functionally make people be on call at their jobs all the time while socially engaging them in a hollow shared experience of morally and intellectually bankrupt media while isolating them from actual human contact, which will shortly be thrown into a landfill along with an undifferentiated torrent of unsorted solid waste, while we steadily push our population towards a peak of nearly 10 billion, and a tiny population of unimaginably wealthy oligarchs continue to further transform the global economic and political systems to their overwhelming benefit, whilst the majority of those 10 billion slip further into poverty, amongst endemic war, increasingly unreliable access to usable water, and the continued, heedless creation of pesticide resistant pests, herbicide resistant weeds, antibiotic resistant germs? Et fucking cetera?”

Commenter on Metafilter, Internet of Things: how it will change the world.

David Brooks is an Elitist Asshole

“Here’s the crux of what makes their system so admirable in [David Brooks’s] eyes:

‘Britain is also blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous. But the plusses outweigh the minuses.’

It has long been the supreme fantasy of establishment guardians in general, and David Brooks in particular, that American politics would be dominated by an incestuous, culturally homogeneous, superior elite “who live in [Washington] and who have often known each other since prep school.” And while these establishment guardians love to endlessly masquerade as spokespeople for the Ordinary American, what they most loathe is the interference by the dirty rabble in what should be their exclusive, harmonious club of political stewardship, where conflicts are amicably resolved by ladies and gentlemen of the highest breeding without any messy public conflict. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Brooks fondly recollected that “once, there was a financial elite in this country” — “middle-aged men with names like Mellon and McCloy led Wall Street firms, corporate boards and white-shoe law firms and occasionally emerged to serve in government” — but that glorious “cohesive financial elite began to fall apart” in the 1960s.”

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com.