Tag Archives: Drugs

Inferno and the “Fourth Circle”. The American Empire and the 2020 Pandemic, by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

Are oil, armaments, drugs, and the dollars the cornerstones of the American empire? From Dr. T. P. Wilkinson at globalresearch.ca:

In 1973, the world economy was brought almost to a halt by a supposed shortage of oil. The ostensible trigger for this alleged shortage was the so-called Yom Kippur War in which the armed forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s settler-colonial offshore enterprise in Palestine, also known as the State of Israel, repelled the forces of Egypt and Syria, which had moved to reoccupy the territory stolen from them by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. One response to the Anglo-American Empire’s support of its client state against those states Israel wished to conquer was an oil embargo proclaimed by OPEC, with the largest producer– the autocratic Anglo-American protectorate Saudi Arabia at the lead.

Portrayed in the mainstream Western media as a sign of Arab economic strength– also as anti-Semitism in some quarters– the embargo led to massive economic disruption in all the countries that had to import oil, mainly Europe and its former colonies.

This embargo created the impression of a global oil shortage—which although there was none, could not be overcome without violating the power of the oil cartel. While the OPEC embargo formally restricted the sale of crude oil to Israel’s sponsors, there was no real oil shortage since oil supplies to Europe and the US have always been in the hands of the majors (now super-majors), then known as the “seven sisters”.[1] OPEC’s announcement of an embargo at the well had no impact on the enormous upstream reserves held by the mainly American majors. However it did provide the pretext for massive price increases at the pump– presented as shortage-induced.[2]

Unnoticed except in the aftermath and ignored generally in popular debate or historical literature was the far more insidious deal made secretly while everyone from Bonn to Boston and Lyon to Los Angeles was queuing for petrol or the dole. In 1971 Richard Nixon had announced that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable for gold– at any price. This decision had been largely induced by the enormous debt incurred funding the US war against Vietnam. In the course of this fateful decision, secret negotiations were undertaken with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which led to an agreement that Saudi Arabia and OPEC would not sell oil in any currency except US dollars. The oil crisis pushed the price of oil to such heights that many countries in Europe and especially the newly independent countries, soon exhausted their foreign exchange reserves and were compelled to borrow US dollars to pay for oil imports. The result was a boom for the US regime, e.g. oil and banking– not its ordinary citizens– as the demand for US currency led to an inflow of foreign exchange and an overall improvement in its current accounts. Meanwhile the US Treasury could literally print dollars to buy oil– when the time was right.

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Wealthy Elitists Freak Out As Hordes Of Homeless People Take Over Their Neighborhoods All Over The West Coast, by Michael Snyder

It’s so much easier to be a “humanitarian” with somebody else’s time, money, and property. From Michael Snyder at theeconomicollapseblog.com:

The elite are very “tolerant” of the homeless until they start showing up in their own neighborhoods.  Even though the mainstream media keeps telling us that the U.S. economy is “booming”, the number of Americans living on the streets continues to grow very rapidly, and this is particularly true in our major west coast cities.  More than half a million Americans will sleep on the streets of our cities tonight, and they need help, care and shelter.  Sadly, as economic conditions deteriorate that number is likely to double or even triple.  Of course many among the elite are all in favor of doing something for the homeless, as long as they don’t have to be anywhere around them.

For example, let’s talk about what is going on in Los Angeles.  No city on the west coast has a bigger problem with homelessness than L.A. does, and many in the homeless population enjoy camping out on the beautiful beaches in the L.A. area at night.

But of course many of the elite that paid millions of dollars for beachfront property are not too thrilled about this.  Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten was a key symbol of anti-establishment rebellion in the 1970s, but now he is freaking out because homeless people are making life very difficult for him and his wife in Venice Beach, and what he recently told Newsweek’s Paula Froelich is making headlines all over the nation

He told her the homeless situation in his swanky LA neighborhood is so bad that thieves are tearing the bars from the windows of his multimillion-dollar home, lobbing bricks, setting up unsightly tent cities and littering the beach with syringes.

“A couple of weeks ago I had a problem,” the former punk prince opined. “They came over the gate and put their tent inside, right in front of the front door. It’s like . . . the audacity. And if you complain, what are you? Oh, one of the establishment elite? No, I’m a bloke that’s worked hard for his money and I expect to be able to use my own front door.”

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Big Pharma and the Rise of Gangster Capitalism, by Charles Hugh Smith

Big pharma has a sweet deal. Barriers to entry are prohibitively high, and the oligopoly is protected, and often reimbursed, by the government. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

$8 per vial in competing developed-world nations and $38,892 in the U.S. That says it all.
Thanks to decades of gangster films, we all know how gangster capitalism works: the cost of “protection” goes up whenever the gangster wants to increase revenues, any competition is snuffed out, and “customer demand” is jacked up by any means available– addiction, for example.
This perfectly describes the pharmaceutical industry and every other cartel in America. You might have read about the price increase in Acthar gel, a medication to treat Infantile Spasms. (via J.F., M.D., who alerted me to the repricing of this medication from $40 in 2001 to the current price of $38,892.)
The compound first received approval in 1950, and various branded versions have been approved in recent years. Let’s be clear: this medication did not require billions of dollars in research and development, or decades of testing to obtain FDA approval; it’s been approved for use for the past 68 years.
Yes, you read that correctly: a medication that’s been in use for 68 years went from $40 a dose in 2001 to $38,892 today. Don’t you love the pricing? Not a round 38 grand, but $38,892. You gotta love these gangsters!
There’s another related term to describe this form of capitalism: racketeering.That’s what mobsters do–operate rackets.
The Big Pharma racket enriches a number of gangs practicing gangster capitalism: the drug companies themselves, of course, but some doctors are profiting from the racket, and so are pharmaceutical lobbyists:
Study highlights role of doctor conflicts of interest in Medicare spending on Mallinckrodt drug Acthar Study published in JAMA indicates nearly 90 percent of doctors prescribing HP Acthar Gel took payments from drug’s manufacturer.
Here are the money quotes:
In 2014 Mallinckrodt raised the price of Acthar further to $34,000. The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from five states sued Mallinckrodt for anti-competitive behavior with regard to the acquisition of Synacthen Depot and the monopolistic pricing of Acthar, and in January 2017 the company settled, agreeing to pay $100 million and to license Synacthen Depot to a competitor. 
According to Kaiser Health News, Mallinckrodt responded by increasing its Congressional lobbying to $610,000, and its contributions to Congress members to $44,000, in the first quarter of 2017.
As an off-patent pharmaceutical, a similar drug, differing in formulation, available in Europe, made by a different manufacturer, sells for $8 per vial.
So a medication to treat infants costs $8 per vial in Europe and $38,892 in the U.S. Don’t you just love gangster capitalism to death? Because death and suffering is the gangsters’ ultimate threat: pay up or die.

 

How drug lords make billions smuggling gold to Miami for your jewelry and phones, by Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, and Kyra Gurney

Cryptocurrencies haven’t made gold obsolete just yet. From Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, and Kyra Gurney at miamiherald.com:

When Juan Granda ventured into Peru’s Amazon rainforest to score another illicit load of gold, he boasted that he felt like legendary Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

“I’m like Pablo coming … to get the coke,” he told two co-workers in a text message in 2014.

A 36-year-old Florida State University graduate who once sold subprime loans, Granda was no cartel kingpin. But his offhand comparison was apt: Gold has become the secret ingredient in the criminal alchemy of Latin American narco-traffickers who make billions turning cocaine into clean cash by exporting the metal to Miami.

The previous year, Granda’s employer, NTR Metals, a South Florida precious-metals trading company, had bought nearly $1 billion worth of Peruvian gold supplied by narcos — and Granda and NTR needed more.

The United States depends on Latin American gold to feed ravenous demand from its jewelry, bullion and electronics industries. The amount of gold going through Miami every year is equal to roughly 2 percent of the market value of the vast U.S. stockpile in Fort Knox.

But much of that gold comes from outlaw mines deep in the jungle where dangerous chemicals are poisoning rainforests and laborers who toil for scraps of metal, according to human rights watchdogs and industry executives. The environmental damage and human misery mirror the scale of Africa’s “blood diamonds,” experts say.

“A large part of the gold that’s commercialized in the world comes stained by blood and human rights abuses,” said Julian Bernardo Gonzalez, vice president of sustainability for Continental Gold, a Canadian mining company with operations in Colombia that holds legal titles and pays taxes, unlike many smaller mining operations.

Pope Francis is expected to condemn the horrors of illegal mining when he visits the Peruvian Amazon this week.

In Latin America, criminals see mining and trading precious metals as a lucrative growth business, carefully hidden from U.S. consumers who flaunt gold around their necks and fingers but have no idea where it comes from — or who gets hurt. The narcos know their market is strong: America’s addiction to the metal burns as insatiably as its craving for cocaine. NTR, for instance, was the subsidiary of a major U.S. gold refinery that supplied Apple and 67 other Fortune 500 companies, as well as Tiffany & Co., according to a Miami Herald analysis of corporate disclosures.

To continue reading: How drug lords make billions smuggling gold to Miami for your jewelry and phones

U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry Reveals Its Latest Rent-Seeking Swindle, by Michael Krieger

This pharmaceutical dodge is a classic of legal legerdemain. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

For as long as I’ve been writing on this website, I’ve argued that the U.S. economy has become little more than a gigantic rent-seeking swindle where much of the wealth being “created” isn’t being created at all. Rather, money is being shuffled around and extracted from the population at large via increasingly elaborate and preposterous schemes. Indeed, it appears much of the nation’s creative energy is being directed at discovering new corporate scams, versus the invention of new goods and services that benefit everyone.

For the latest scheme we turn, unsurprisingly, to the pharmaceutical industry and Allergan in particular. The ploy was revealed by The New York Times last week, and its pretty grotesque.

What follows are excerpts from the article, How to Protect a Drug Patent? Give it to a Native American Tribe:

The drugmaker Allergan announced Friday that it had transferred its patents on a best-selling eye drug to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in upstate New York — an unusual gambit to protect the drug from a patent dispute.

Under the deal, which involves the dry-eye drug Restasis, Allergan will pay the tribe $13.75 million. In exchange, the tribe will claim sovereign immunity as grounds to dismiss a patent challenge through a unit of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The tribe will lease the patents back to Allergan, and will receive $15 million in annual royalties as long as the patents remain valid.

The surprising legal move rippled quickly through the pharmaceutical world on Friday, setting off speculation about whether other drug companies would soon follow suit in order to protect their patents from challenges through a patent-review process that the industry despises.

If Allergan succeeds in holding onto its patents, “we will probably see multiple branded companies housing their patents with Indian tribes,” Ronny Gal, an analyst for Bernstein, said in a video message to investors on Friday.

Mr. White said the tribe was approached in April by a Dallas law firm, Shore Chan DePumpo, which proposed the idea. The tribe has already taken ownership of patents owned by a technology company that Mr. White declined to name, but said the Allergan arrangement is the tribe’s first pharmaceutical deal.

To continue reading: U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry Reveals Its Latest Rent-Seeking Swindle

Babies On Drugs In America? 1984 Predicted It! by Chris Campbell

This is pharmocological barbarism. From Chris Campbell at lfb.org:

Why “two steps back, one step forward” can be a recipe for success…

Over a million kids in America six years old and under are on psychiatric drugs — mostly to treat anxiety.

Let that sink in.

I have to ask. Is the U.S. really becoming this out of touch? And I mean that literally.

Author Ray Williams, a contributor to Psychology Today, offered an important question back in 2010: “In our desire to have a politically correct and safe social environment, or an environment of instant communication, have we lost sight of the most important aspect of human development and culture  — physical touch?”

The science is in: After food, water and shelter, there’s little more important to kids, especially babies, than human contact. Without simple human contact, in fact, babies can die.

This is the case, actually, to varying degrees, for all mammals.

In many litters of puppies and kittens, for example, there are sometimes one or two animals that come out enfeebled — as the “runts.”

The weakness of the runts, felt by the mother during nursing, is a sign to the mother it likely won’t survive. To make sure her genes have the best chance for survival, she must use her limited resources wisely.

As a result, the mother doesn’t lick or nurture the runt. The mother still allows the runt to feed (other species don’t even go that far), but it refuses to show the runt affection.

It’s hard to understate how catastrophic this is for the runt. A certain amount of maternal licking and nuzzling is necessary. The affection, we now know, turns on the production of a certain growth hormone in the brain. Without it, food cannot be metabolized properly and healthy growth and development is impossible. If the runt continues to be ignored, even if it still gets plenty to eat, it will eventually shrivel up and die.

It’s the same for humans. Without human contact at the earliest of age, the immune system is essentially shot. The affected becomes vulnerable to all sorts of ailments and diseases.

To continue reading: Babies On Drugs In America?

Addiction, Trump’s Budget And Justified Anger, by Karl Denninger

It takes a bit of ranting to get him warmed up, but Karl Denninger makes a good case for legalizing all drugs. From Denninger at theburningplatform.com:

Let’s talk about the screamfest that is already starting, amplified in the media, about Trump’s budget and the cuts to Medicaid that are embodied in it.

Oh, cuts you say?  Yes, cuts.  See, Trump knows as do the other politicians that medical spending growing at 9% a year, which is the pattern over the last three decades, will bankrupt the United States.  Congress pretends this “won’t happen” but I can tell you with utter certainty they are well-aware of it and in fact senate staffers admitted to me, in person, that they both were aware of it and intentionally ignoring it roughly five years ago.

What Trump is trying to do with his budget, and what the Republicans and Democrats eventually will do is toss the grenade to the States.  Medicaid is the vehicle to do so; it is a federal and state joint program, so tossing off “block grants” to the states which are an effectively-fixed chunk of cash throws half the ticking bomb at them and thus blows up both federal and state budgets instead of just the federal side.

Isn’t that special?

You, for your part, will not and have not bombarded and demanded, under penalty of whatever action is necessary to enforce the demand, that both federal and state law enforcement go after the medical industry for practices that in any other business would land people in prison immediately.  Specifically, refusal to quote a price, discriminating in price between like kind and quantity of purchase by a factor of 10, 100 or even 1,000% or more based on “what sort of insurance” someone has (or whether they have it at all), billing people for things they never consented to, billing people for events that didn’t happen or products that weren’t even used, allowing a doctor to call sticking his head into a room and saying “hi” as a “consultation” and billing that at several hundred dollars and more.  You allow drug companies to take a drug that costs $500 for a year’s supply in other developed, first-world nations and charge $70,000 for it here instead of such an action being deemed an unlawful restraint of trade made illegal in laws that are over 100 years old resulting in indictments.

To continue reading: Addiction, Trump’s Budget And Justified Anger

Doug Casey on the Opioid Crisis

Justin’s note: “Enjoy looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering if today’s the day we come for you. Enjoy trying to sleep tonight, wondering if tonight’s the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges. We are coming for you.”

This sounds like something from an ‘80s action movie. But that’s an actual quote from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Tavares, Florida.

Sheriff Grinnell delivered this message last month while flanked by four combat-ready officers wearing ski masks. It looks like someone from ISIS directed it. You can watch the bizarre video here.

Grinnell’s message was aimed at local drug dealers. You see, Lake County has a serious opioid problem. And like many other places in the US, it’s fighting its drug problem as if it were a war.

After I watched it, I called up Casey Research founder Doug Casey to get his take on the opioid crisis. Below is a transcript of our conversation. We hope you enjoy it.


Justin: Doug, what do you make of the opioid crisis?

Doug: The news cycle seems to be emphasizing the use of opioids at the moment. Now, these are almost all legal prescription drugs, not illegally smuggled heroin and morphine, as was the case in The French Connection. People get their doctors to prescribe opioids for pain. Of course, pain is not something that you can prove. So it’s legitimate for doctors to prescribe these things. After a while the patient may develop a chemical dependency.

This gets into why people become addicted. I’m of the opinion that all kinds of addictions, not just the opioids in question, but addictions to cocaine, meth, other kinds of narcotics, alcohol, or anything else are basically because of pain.

But it’s not necessarily physical pain. It’s psychological pain, which may be even more important. And psychological pain means that people want to check out of reality. So as the economy gets worse—and I think it will get much, much worse in the near future—you can expect levels of addiction to skyrocket, not to go down.

Addiction is a bad habit, but it’s nobody else’s business. From an ethical point of view, your primary possession is your own body. If you don’t own it, and have a right to do whatever you want with it, then you in fact have no rights at all. That’s why the drug war itself is criminal, and morally insane.

The efforts of dangerous idiots like Sheriff Grinnell are counterproductive. If they confiscate a ton of drugs, that just drives up the market price for those that remain. And increases the profits of dealers, drawing more dealers into the business. And encouraging addicts who can’t afford the higher prices to turn to crime in order to support their habit. That’s entirely apart from increasing the level of violence in society, corrupting the police, and lots of other negative fallout.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on the Opioid Crisis

Still Supporting Sanders? You’re Gonna Die (Broke), by Karl Denninger

From Karl Denninger, on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

It just never ends.

There are a lot of innumerate people in this nation, or worse, those who are just lazy. Maybe they’re drunk, whether on booze or the “Obama’s gonna pay my gas and mortgage!” nonsense that political charisma gins up, or perhaps they’ve had a few too many tokes on a pipe. Doesn’t matter, really.

What matters is that elections have consequences. In the case of Sanders, his plan for “medical reform” will go nowhere, mostly because he won’t be able to pass it if elected. And, frankly, I don’t think he’s electable.

If you want to know how well socialized medicine works in the United States, go ask a veteran about the VA. Make sure you’re well out of range of thrown missiles first.

The “dream” of Medicare for everyone is just that — a dream. Government interference in the health system, to the tune of one trillion dollars a year, is why we have the problems we have today. It is that willful and intentional blindness to the acts of the entire industry, acts that are illegal virtually everywhere and, I suspect, could be prosecuted here as well if anyone in the government gave a damn, that leads to the majority of bankruptcies in this country — a majority that are caused by medical debt.

There are those who say that a free market doesn’t work. Really? Then why is it that in a free market medical system, right here in the United States, I can have a cardiac pacemaker implanted, with the device, for $11,400. That’s not a guess, it’s a quote, just like it would be to change the brakes on your car. Now try to get that price from your local “non-profit” or “for-profit” hospital. Best of luck; you won’t be able to do it.

$11,000 sounds like a lot of money, but is it really? Not compared against the $50,000+ that your local hospital charges for the same surgery. Or, you have an inguinal hernia repaired for $3,000 — in the same place, for cash, all-in, including the mesh. Again, try getting that price in your local hospital. Good luck.

The real ball-buster is that even these prices are massively inflated, as are drugs. The latest outrage that is being trotted out is Martin Shkreli, who had the termerity to smirk at Congress this week. Dr Manny is “outraged” that he did so, and that he hiked the price of a drug by 5,000% to make money.

Why is Martin smirking? Probably because Gilead does the same thing every day, but nobody is proposing to throw their executives in prison. Sovaldi, sold in the US for Hepatitis C and an actual cure, costs $90,000 for a course of treatment. The very same drug is under $5 a pill in India; a course of treatment is 90 days, approximately, meaning that the very same drug is $450 there.

Shkreli did indeed hike the price of a drug by 5,000%, or 50x. But Gilead sells their drug here for two hundred times what it sells for in India, not 50.

There are 330 million of us and about seven and a half billion souls on the planet right now. We literally pay the check for all of the drug and device development in the world. Everyone else uses it for free. This “system”, really a racket, only works because these companies have managed to get the US Federal Government involved in pointing guns at you and threatening to throw you in prison if you fly to India and fill a suitcase full of Sovaldi, then bring it back here to the United States to sell it.

But for those laws the math on this is simple.

If there are 7.4 billion people on the planet (latest estimate), and we’re 330 million of them, then we’re about 5% of the earth’s population. If a huge proportion of the planet (e.g. Pakistan, India, etc) gets the drug for under $2,000 (and it does) then were we to simply remove said special protections and instead prosecute anyone trying to restrain free trade in said drug the price would rise materially in places such as Pakistan (e.g. it might double) but in the United States it would plummet like a stone to some 5% of what it costs now, or approximately that same $4-5,000.

To continue reading: Still Supporting Sanders? You’re Gonna Die (Broke)

Cops Around the Country Quietly Begin Rebelling Against the Drug War, by Carey Wedler

It is a close race for which US government “war” has been the biggest failure: the war on drugs, the war on poverty, or the war on terrorism. The one constant is that continuous failure never seems to prompt any kind of new approach. However, Police Chief Leonard Campanello of Gloucester, Massachusetts, is trying something different, and its working! From Carey Wedler at theantimedia.org:

It is a rare occurrence when police officers in America organize to undermine the very Drug War they vociferously fight for politicians. Police Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department, however, did just that earlier this year when he decided to treat — not arrest — heroin addicts who came to his department seeking help. His revolutionary “ANGEL” program has proven successful for addicts and their families in Gloucester, but it has also inspired other departments across the country to adopt similar programs amid growing officer fatigue over the ineffectual arrest and incarceration of addicts.

In May, Campanello announced via Facebook that his department would adopt the new policy of treatment over arrest (note: it does not apply to individuals caught in possession of drugs who do not turn themselves in). The move was met with widespread praise and the new policy was officially enacted in June. Treatment centers and pharmacies have partnered with the police department to ensure addicts receive the care they need.

As the police department’s website explains:

“If an addict comes into the Gloucester Police Department and asks for help, an officer will take them to the Addison Gilbert Hospital, where they will be paired with a volunteer ‘ANGEL’ who will help guide them through the process. We have partnered with more than a dozen additional treatment centers to ensure that our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve — not in days or weeks, but immediately.
“If you have drugs or drug paraphernalia on you, we will dispose of it for you. You will not be arrested. You will not be charged with a crime. You will not be jailed.
“All you have to do is come to the police station and ask for help. We are here to do just that.”

Five months since the program launched, Campanello reports positive results: over 260 addicts have been placed in treatment. This summer, shoplifting, breaking and entering, and larceny dropped 23% from the same period last year. “We are seeing real people get the lives back,” he said. “And if we see a reduction in crime and cost savings that is a great bonus.”

To continue reading: Cops Rebelling Against the Drug War