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Insulin Prices Killed Josh Wilkerson. Now His Mother Is Taking On Big Pharma.


Insulin Prices Killed Josh Wilkerson. Now His Mother Is Taking On Big Pharma.
“My son died at 27 because his income was insufficient for him to purchase insulin,” says Erin Weaver.
By William Rivers Pitt,
Published August 24, 2019

When Josh Wilkerson was a boy, he would page through his family’s church directory to find people celebrating birthdays that day so he could call and wish them, “Happy Birthday!” He played Little League baseball and loved pro wrestling, often pantomiming the faux violence he saw on TV with his three brothers. One time, he peed on his brother’s bed after they’d fought and blamed it on spilled apple juice.

He was, in other words, a vibrant, lighthearted kid. “He was normally easygoing and liked to laugh,” his mother, Erin Weaver, told Truthout. “I was always able to tell when his blood sugar would go above average because he would become angry and combative. That wasn’t his normal behavior. I’d tell him that I’d like him to test his sugar. He would, and sure enough, his sugar would be high.”

Diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects more than 100 million people in the U.S. The disease is broken down into three main categories: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. In January of 2000, Josh was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, the rarer form of the disease, which affects 5 percent of people with diabetes. He was 8 years old and lived with the illness for the next 19 years.

On June 10 of this year, Josh began vomiting repeatedly. When he failed to answer repeated phone calls, his fiancée Rose went looking for him. She found him unresponsive in the shower and called paramedics immediately. Josh was suffering from severe diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication that arises when there is not sufficient insulin in the body.

His blood sugar, when tested, stood at a lethal 1,700, and his brain was swelling. He was placed in the intensive care unit, where a brain scan revealed he had suffered a series of profoundly damaging strokes. On Friday, June 14, after realizing there was no hope, his family made the excruciating decision to remove him from life support, and he died the next day. He was 27 years old.

Josh Wilkerson had been rationing his insulin because he couldn’t afford the $1,200 per month cost of proper care, and it killed him.


Erin Weaver and the family of Josh Wilkerson remain in deepest mourning. For Erin, life has a new and furious focus: Her son’s death must be made to count for something beyond another insulin-related square on the obituary pages. She will be in Indianapolis next month to call the wealthy pharmaceutical arbiters of life and death to account for the untimely and utterly unnecessary loss of her beloved son.

“It has to be made to mean something,” she tearfully told Truthout. “It just has to.”
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Aug 24, 2019, 10:06 AM (5 replies)

After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dea

Friday, August 23, 2019
After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dead at 79
"Death is an escape hatch for David Koch while the rest of us are left scrambling for the emergency brake before we go over the cliff."
byEoin Higgins, staff writer

Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who spent vast sums of his billions in personal fortune promoting climate denialism and other right wing causes over the last four decades, died Friday at 79.

His legacy in modern American politics was summed up by The New York Times:

Three decades after David Koch's public steps into politics, analysts say, the Koch brothers' money-fueled brand of libertarianism helped give rise to the Tea Party movement and strengthened the far-right wing of a resurgent Republican Party.

Koch was a controversial figure. His vast fortune—made in large part through fossil fuel extraction and manufacturing, though the company has interests in nearly everything—made him and his brother Charles two of the richest people in the world. The brothers spent at least $100 million since the 1970s promoting right-wing causes, and David ran for vice president as a member of the Libertarian Party in 1980.

One of the causes Koch dumped his fortune into promoting was climate crisis denialism.

By making vast sums of money from destroying the planet and then fighting against efforts to stem the flow of the crisis, tweeted Native American activist Tara Houska, Koch was a double damage denialist.

"Let's not forget the massive network of oil pipelines, refineries, and fossil fuel expansion projects that David Koch was directly responsible for," said Houska. "He funded climate deniers while he contributed to climate change, in the range of a 300 million ton carbon footprint annually."


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Aug 24, 2019, 07:56 AM (2 replies)

Trump Clarification Syndrome


Trump Clarification Syndrome
August 23, 2019 at 5:42 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

David Remnick: “As perilous and unnerving as things are, any form of political despair at such a moment remains unforgivable. Despair is a form of self-indulgence, a dodge. Trump’s derangements in policy and character should instead instill a kind of Trump Clarification Syndrome, a reckoning with what confronts us.”

“A reckoning, as the Amazon rain forest burns, with climate change. A reckoning, as Trump threatens to revoke the barest protections for immigrant children and the guarantee of birthright citizenship, with the history and persistence of bigotry in all forms. With the structural persistence of inequality of income and opportunity. With matters of truth and falsehood.”

“Trump’s presence in the White House is depressing, there is no doubt, but to wallow in that gloom, or even to imagine that public life will ‘return to normal’ on its own after his departure, is insufficient, even inexcusable. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who cannot countenance Trumpist politics ought to welcome the most urgent kind of political debate on matters of policy and on who we are as a country. Perhaps it is a form of derangement to say it, but it’s entirely possible that Donald Trump, who has been such a ruinous figure on the public scene, has at least done the country an unintended service by clarifying some of our deepest flaws and looming dangers in his uniquely lurid light.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 09:55 PM (2 replies)

The surprisingly great idea in Bernie Sanders's Green New Deal: electric school buses


The surprisingly great idea in Bernie Sanders’s Green New Deal: electric school buses
A small idea in Sanders’s Green New Deal could reap big benefits for kids.
By Kelsey Piper Updated Aug 23, 2019, 2:21pm EDT

Bernie Sanders’s just-released Green New Deal plan is huge — $16 trillion, dozens of different clean energy and climate adaptation programs. But one of its more modest proposals stands out as a spectacularly good idea.

That’s his proposal to make school buses stop poisoning our children.


In short, we can stop pumping health- and grade-affecting pollutants into our children’s lungs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save school districts money.

And an investment like this is likely to help electric buses transition into the mainstream. Replacing our school buses with electric buses might give the industry, with all its innovations, the chance to prove itself — and then win over municipalities and private bus markets as well.

Lots of the proposals in Sanders’s Green New Deal proposal are exciting, and some of them have much greater potential than the bus proposal to fight climate change. But the bus proposal is worth paying attention to. It’ll give 24 million kids cleaner air to breathe and support the development of an emerging green technology — electric buses — that are needed the world over. The net costs to the government might be zero (thanks to the lower long-term costs of electric buses), and the net benefits to society look enormous.

Sometimes, a serious look at policy turns up some clear wins. This is one of them — and whoever becomes president, I hope it becomes policy.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 06:51 PM (18 replies)

Pierce: The Koch Money Was a Primary Vector for the Prion Disease That's Infected the Republican Pa


The Koch Money Was a Primary Vector for the Prion Disease That's Infected the Republican Party
David Koch's worst legacy, however, will be on climate.
By Charles P. Pierce
Aug 23, 2019

Fair warning. I am about to speak very ill of the dead. David Koch went to his eternal barbecue spit on Friday. Except for his surviving brother, Charles, no man had a worse effect on American politics since the death of John C. Calhoun. Every malignancy currently afflicting us can be traced in one way or another into their wallets, and that's not even to mention the lasting damage they've done to the planet as a whole. Sorry, Morning Joe gang, I wouldn't care if they opened branches of the National Museum of Puppies and Rainbows in every congressional district in the United States. The Koch brothers financed the wrecking ball that is still doing damage, and now one of them is dead, and, if I am not rejoicing, I am breathing deep sighs of relief and praying deep prayers of thanksgiving.

Jane Mayer, of course, has written the fundamental text on how the Kochs financed the destruction of American democracy and the ruination of planet Earth. (Here's a shorter version that was published in The New Yorker.) There's no need to dive deep into how they sabotaged campaign finance, bankrolled the Tea Party idiocy, dropped Scott Walker on Wisconsin and, worst of all, lavishly financed the climate denial movement until now it may be too late to undo the damage they've done. Other people will handle all of that better elsewhere. (One hopes.)

I'd like to talk about the one thing that always symbolized how effectively the Koch money acted as a vector for the prion disease that has now consumed the higher functions of conservatism. From Mayer's New Yorker piece:

Only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics. Public tax records show that between 1998 and 2008 the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than forty-eight million dollars. The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by Charles Koch and his wife, along with two company employees and an accountant, spent more than twenty-eight million. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than a hundred and twenty million. Meanwhile, since 1998 Koch Industries has spent more than fifty million dollars on lobbying. Separately, the company’s political-action committee, Kochpac, has donated some eight million dollars to political campaigns, more than eighty per cent of it to Republicans. So far in 2010, Koch campaigns Industries leads all other energy companies in political contributions, as it has since 2006, more than eighty per cent of it to Republicans. In addition, during the past dozen years the Kochs and other family members have personally spent more than two million dollars on political contributions. In the second quarter of 2010, David Koch was the biggest individual contributor to the Republican Governors Association, with a million-dollar donation. Other gifts by the Kochs may be untraceable; federal tax law permits anonymous personal donations to politically active nonprofit groups.

Let's look at one particular project. In 2018, the city of Nashville proposed to build a $5.4 billion rapid-transit project involving high-speed rail. To pay for it, the city proposed to raise four taxes, including the sales tax. Which is about when someone lit up the Koch Signal. The Kochs hate rapid transit. It keeps people from buying cars, which run on the fuels that make the Koch family rich. They also produce the asphalt for the roads on which those cars run. Acting through a Koch-funded astroturfing operation, Americans For Prosperity, the Kochs lavishly funded the opposition and killed the plan. This kind of eye-on-the-sparrow bludgeoning is a measure of how thoroughly the Koch money has infected our politics all the way down to the local level.

Of course, the most lasting damage done by the Kochs is in the area of the climate crisis, in which their money and influence may have paralyzed the response to it until, now, things have gone past the point of control. It is in that spirit that I make the following proposal: If David Koch is to be cremated, I suggest we dispense with all the fuss and bother and just drop his corpse from a helicopter into the fires now consuming the Amazon rainforest. Let him be one with his legacy.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 06:10 PM (29 replies)

New Study Finds Over 2000 Ethical Conflicts For Trump Since 2017


New Study Finds Over 2000 Ethical Conflicts For Trump Since 2017
Alex Henderson August 22, 2019

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vehemently railed against crony capitalism and conflicts of interest in Washington, D.C. — promising to “drain the swamp” if elected. But according to a newly released in-depth study by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Trump has done just the opposite as president.

The number of conflicts of interest during Trump’s presidency, according to CREW, is at least 2,310 “resulting from President Trump’s decision to retain his business interests.”

Trump, CREW reports, has “visited his properties 362 times at taxpayer expense” as president and has “used the presidency to provide free publicity for his properties.” And the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., according to CREW, has “raked in $2.4 million in traceable political spending” during his presidency.


Libowitz noted that previous presidents “from both parties” went out of their way to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. For example, Libowitz told Yahoo Finance, President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush put all of their assets in blind trusts so that “there was no way they could be influenced by what they owned business-wise.”

Trump, however, created a “revocable and non-blind trust,” Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers notes, and can remove money from it with the permission of the person he has chosen as trustee: his son, Donald Trump, Jr. The president’s son now serves as executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

In the past, Libowitz asserted, it was the “norm” for presidents to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. However, “Now you have a president who doesn’t,” Libowitz told Yahoo Finance. “And it has become a major problem.”
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 04:24 PM (0 replies)

Al Franken Seeks Return to Public Eye


Al Franken Seeks Return to Public Eye
August 23, 2019 at 3:43 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

After resigning from the U.S. Senate at the beginning of 2018 due to sexual-harassment allegations, Al Franken is working with a Hollywood firm to make paid public speeches, Bloomberg reports.

The agency sent an email this week pitching Franken to potential bookers and promoters, touting his “unique voice,” Emmy awards, best-selling books and career in the Senate.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 04:08 PM (74 replies)

Trump Orders 'a Lot' of Ketamine for Depressed Veterans

Now he's a flippin' doctor? Follow the money because this is not being done/ordered due to the kindness in his heart. I don't think he has one.

Trump Orders ‘a Lot’ of Ketamine for Depressed Veterans
The president told the VA to purchase a large amount of a controversial new nasal spray. The agency says it will consider incorporating the drug after it has more data.
James Hamblin
11:29 AM ET

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the government will purchase “a lot” of the drug esketamine, a derivative of ketamine.

Though ketamine is known as a recreational hallucinogen, Trump asserted that a new nasal-spray derivative would be of great benefit to veterans with depression. As he left the White House for a veterans’ conference in Kentucky, he told reporters that he had instructed the Department of Veterans Affairs to make a large purchase—overriding a recent decision by the doctors who manage the hospitals’ formulary of which drugs are to be prescribed.

“There’s a product that’s made right now that just came out by Johnson & Johnson which has a tremendously positive—pretty short term, but nevertheless positive—effect,” Trump said. But that statement is contrary to the evidence. A review by the Food and Drug Administration of what limited studies have been done with esketamine found mixed results, leaving many scientists unsure if the drug is indeed effective and safe. Just last week, the agency published a report that said the drug was not reliably better than placebo.

Rates of suicide among veterans have perennially been around 50 percent higher than those among people who were never in the military. Then, last year, the VA reported that rates increased 10 percent among younger veterans in particular. Despite pressure to better address and treat suicidal depression, the VA’s medical advisory board voted in June against including esketamine in the list of drugs that the hospital system offers in its formulary. The VA declined to comment on its decision, but current guidelines, a VA spokesperson told me by email, allow for esketamine’s occasional use in “veterans who have not previously responded to adequate trials of other available treatments for major depression.”


This is a far cry from the promises the president made to veterans. “Hopefully we are getting it at a very good cost,” Trump said. “I guess it’s a form of a stimulant where if somebody is really in trouble from the standpoint of suicide it can do something.” The drug is, in fact, a sedative; ketamine has long been used as an anesthetic. And its daily cost is $737.50.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 03:59 PM (15 replies)

WH Has No Explanation For Why Trump Thinks He Can "Hereby Order" US Companies To Do Anything


Posted on Fri, Aug 23rd, 2019 by Jason Easley
White House Has No Explanation For Why Trump Thinks He Can “Hereby Order” US Companies To Do Anything

The White House has no public explanation for why Trump thinks that he can order US private companies to stop doing business in and with China.

Reporters are trying to get an explanation, but here is what they’ve gotten out of the White House so far:

Eamon Javers
White House aides right now offering no explanation for why President Trump believes he can “hereby order” American companies to do anything. Also, officials have no information about what the president may or may not be announcing this afternoon, per his Tweet.

Translation: They have no clue what is going on in Donald Trump’s head.

No president has the power to order US companies to do anything. It was decided by the Supreme Court in 1952 that the president does not have this kind of power. Trump has tanked the stock market with his tweets and shown that he is incapable of being responsible with presidential power.

Trump can’t order companies to do anything. The White House has no idea what he is talking about, and the country is left totally confused by an unhinged president who can’t handle the power of the office responsibly and needs to be replaced in November 2020.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 03:37 PM (12 replies)

The Rude Pundit: Focusing on the Amazon in a Time of Maximum Distraction


The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
Focusing on the Amazon in a Time of Maximum Distraction


While the world is burning and accelerating the effects of climate change so that we're just in a destructive loop, the United States, the biggest economy in the world, isn't doing jackshit about it. We're all caught in the mesmeric gaze of the madman at the center of our government, with most of us wondering how the fuck we're going to survive another 16 months, and that's if Trump loses,. And there's a not insignificant number of Americans hoping he goes even more batshit insane because they're already batshit insane.

We are beyond anxiety and into something akin to slow-rolling panic, heading into existential exhaustion.


So I choose to focus, today, at least, on the burning Amazon. I choose the environmental apocalypse because, ultimately, there are things we can reverse down the road. We can clean up a shitload of messes. We've done it before. But once the planet is fucked, it's fucked, and there is no unfucking it.

If we had a real president, one who believed in reality and science, she'd be calling on the nations of the world to intervene to stop the destruction of the Amazon. Fuckin' bribe Bolsonaro out of office. Do something. Jesus, how about Jeff Bezos just fucking buying the Amazon as a branding exercise.

The worst part here is that, until things change with our government, we know we're only witnesses of our ongoing demise.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 01:42 PM (0 replies)
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