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    • Pharma Execs Should Go To Jail and Pharma Should Be Publicly Run
      *One vial of insulin cost $21 in 1996, compared to $320 in 2018. The cost of Big Pharma’s outrageous greed is American lives. If they will not end their greed then we will end it for them.* —Bernie Sanders Corporations are bundles of rights. The most important right is a shield from liability. Corporation rights […]
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Friday Morning at The Confluence: News and Views

Another rainy day in Boston

Another rainy day in Boston

Good morning Conflucians! It’s another cold, rainy day in the Boston area. I’ve gone through the stages of grief, from denial to anger, and so on, and I think I’ve almost reached acceptance. Summer is just not coming to New England this year. It’s 57 degrees on July 3. So what? I should be grateful it’s raining and not snowing, right? The local papers have started publishing snarky little articles like this one about the “bright side” to all this rain and cold.

OK, it’s wet. OK, everyone’s miserable. OK, the sun shines on every other city in the country and Mother Nature is spitting on Boston.

But instead of thinking of this weather front as a personal affront, why not grab onto that silver lining and recognize the rainfall for what it is: a respite from the rat race known as summer.
Yes, summer, the ultimate setup for personal and recreational failure, when every day is supposed to be a mini-vacation….

But now, thanks to unremitting clouds and drizzle, it’s off.

No need to squeeze into the bathing suit. Or do your hair (it’ll frizz up faster than a flash flood). Or sport a tan. Or go for that walk or run or bike ride or show up for bootie boot camp at 6 a.m. It’s pouring!

As for the beach, no wonder everyone’s lying down, exposing themselves to deadly UVB rays. Getting there is exhausting. Lewis and Clark had an easier time looking for the Northwest Passage.

Oh hardy har har. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really happy for all of you Conflucians who don’t live up here in the Northeastern corner of the country. Who knows? Maybe God is punishing us for our sins or something.

The Boston Globe reports that there is one genuine positive to all this ghastly weather.

While the onslaught of miserable June weather played havoc with people’s plans and psyches, it has also provided a quiet benefit to many city neighborhoods. Fatal and nondeadly shootings in Boston have plunged, and police acknowledge the weather has been a key factor.

Well I’m glad there really is one positive effect of the horrible weather…. So let’s see… what’s happening in the rest of the country this morning?

You’ve probably heard the Washington Post did a quick reversal yesterday on its plan to sell access to politicans and Post writers and editors. It was all just a big misunderstanding, according to Howard Kurtz.

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth yesterday canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered corporate underwriters access to Post journalists, Obama administration officials and members of Congress in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

“Absolutely, I’m disappointed,” Weymouth said in an interview. “This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren’t vetted. They didn’t represent at all what we were attempting to do. We’re not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom.”

Sure Katharine, we believe you. Some guy in marketing is taking the fall for the public relations nightmare:

The fliers were approved by a top Post marketing executive, Charles Pelton, who said it was “a big mistake” on his part and that he had done so “without vetting it with the newsroom.”

I’d just love to know if the Post actually had an agreement with the White House to participate in these “salons.” It really does sound like something this administration would do, but we’ll probably never know for sure, since investigative journalism is dead.

It looks like the Washington Post still has at least one real reporter on staff though. R. Jeffrey Smith read some recent court filings and found some interesting background on the Valerie Plame case showing that Dick Cheney was in control of the Bush administration’s revelations about Plame’s status with the CIA in order to minimize the damage caused by her husband Joseph Wilson’s critique of the case for war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise, the Obama administration is trying to keep Cheney’s activities secret.

A list of at least seven related conversations involving Cheney appears in a new court filing approved by Obama appointees at the Justice Department. In the filing, the officials argue that the substance of what Cheney told special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in 2004 must remain secret.

No such agreement was reached between Fitzgerald and Cheney at the time of their chat, according to a 2008 Fitzgerald letter to lawmakers. But the Bush administration rejected requests by Congress and a nonprofit group for access to two FBI accounts of the conversation, saying the material was exempt from disclosure under subpoena or the Freedom of Information Act.

The Obama administration has since agreed that the material should not be disclosed. A Justice Department lawyer at one point last month argued that vice presidents and other White House officials will decline to be interviewed in the future if they know their remarks might “get on ‘The Daily Show’ ” or be used as fodder for political enemies.

Gasp! Heaven forbid! You mean politicians could be laughed at? Or their actions might be used to defeat them in an election? I can certainly see why our Department of Justice would be fighting hard to prevent that. Seriously, do we live in anything event resembling a free country anymore? Continue reading

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U.S. State Department Asked Twitter To Reschedule Down Time

Rally in Tehran, June 16, 2009

Rally in Tehran, June 16, 2009

Yesterday Twitter announced it would have 90 minutes of down time at 9:45 Pacific time while they did some site maintenance. Thousands of Twitterers begged for the site to be left up, since Twitter has become an important source of communication for Iranians who are trying to get news out to the world and to reach out to other people. At first Twitter said they couldn’t change the down time, but then in the evening they announced it would be rescheduled until this afternoon. Now it turns out that it was the State Department that prevailed upon Twitter to keep the lines of communication open during daytime hours in Iran.

From CNN Political Ticker:

U.S. officials say the Internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of Iranian authorities banning western journalists from covering political rallies.

“There are lots of people here watching” at bureaus and offices across the State Department, one senior official said. “There are some interesting messages going up.”

Because the United States has no relations with Iran and does not have an embassy there, it is relying on media reports and the State Department’s Iran Watch Offices in embassies around the world. The largest such offices are in Dubai, Berlin and London, all home to large Iranian expatriate communities.

While officials would not say whether they were communicating with Iranians directly, one senior official noted that the United States is learning about certain people being picked up for questioning by authorities through posts on Twitter.

I’m not really sure how to feel about this. I certainly hope the State Department has other sources of information besides the ones available to the rest of us. Nevertheless, this news provides more reinforcement for the notion that has gone viral lately: that Twitter and Facebook, like blogs, have a valuable role to play in citizen journalism. Continue reading