Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Bits-- Colbert's Sister Going To Congress? Will Nestlé And Wall Street Ever Be Held To Account?


PPP shows Elizabeth Colbert Busch opening a more significant lead (16% as of this afternoon) over disgraced ex-Governor Mark Sanford in the first district congressional special election. Voting is on May 7th in the carefully gerrymandered red district, who's voters gave Obama 40.2% in November, while right next door in the 6th district-- into which the state's racist legislature dumped every African-American voter they could find-- Obama won 70.9%. Although John Boehner endorsed Sanford on April 9, less than a week later the NRCC, which he controls, announced that due to Sanford's on-going behavior issues, it would no longer support him or invest in his race, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured into the district by the DCCC and their House Majority PAC. The new DCCC as:

I don't know if Colbert Busch will wind up voting with Republicans half the time. but it's what I suspect from watching the campaign. Still, that's better than voting with Republicans 100% of the time, which is what we can expect from Sanford. She's already come out in favor of marriage equality and her approach to Chained CPI was pretty good as well: “Not only does President Obama’s plan fail to put our finances back in order, it would cut benefits for our seniors, which is wrong. I believe that our seniors earned their Social Security by putting money away every single paycheck for a lifetime-- knowing that they could count on Social Security when they retired... Simply put, Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit, and politicians should keep their hands off the trust fund."

Our Contest Ended Today

Nick Ruiz (FL) wound up with 50 donors so he won the $1,000 PAC check from Blue America. Daylin Leach (PA) had 40 donors, Carl Sciortino (MA) had 38 donors, Andy Hounshell (OH) 31 donors and Ken Sanders (TX) 29. The average donor contributed approximately $53. And the Saving Social Security page now has $9,140 on it. We randomly selected one contributor to thank with the 311 platinum award disc. And that winner is Joyce Bullock from Glenside, PA, who contributed $12.

Wall Street And It's DC Allies Will Enslave Us All... If We let Them

Jeffrey Sachs isn't a radical. He's a kind of mainstream economics professor at Columbia University. The audio on this video was shot April 17 at a conference, "Fixing the Banking System for Good." It sounds like he's almost come around to a less corporate/establishment point of view about how corrupt and criminal Wall Street is, even to the point of advocating out loud the need for "separating the politicians from the (Wall Street) crooks, but maybe that's so close together that they can't actually be separated; maybe it's just the same community." Maybe?
I meet a lot of these people on Wall Street on a regular basis right now. I’m going to put it very bluntly. I regard the moral environment as pathological. And I’m talking about the human interactions that I have. I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably. These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that They have no responsibility to pay taxes, they have no responsibility to their clients, they have no responsibility to people… counterparties in transactions. They are tough, greedy, aggressive, and feel absolutely out of control, in a quite literal sense. And they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent and they have a docile president, a docile White House and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice. It’s terrified of these companies.

...[T]he financial markets are the number one campaign contributors in the U.S. system now. We have a corrupt politics to the core, I’m afraid to say… and both parties are up to their necks in this. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It really doesn’t have anything to do with right wing or left wing, by the way. The corruption, as far as I can see, [is] everywhere...

And Speaking Of Antisocial, Nihilistic Greed... Nestlé

Nestlé has been claiming for some time that it invented the medical uses of herbs that have been used medicinally for centuries. And they want patents.
The world’s largest food company, Nestlé, is seeking a patent on the use of Nigella sativa to prevent food allergies, claiming the plant seed and extract when they are used as a food ingredient or drug. Commonly known as habbat al-barakah in Arabic, and frequently called “black seed,” “black cumin” or “fennel flower” in English, Nigella sativa is an ancient food and medicinal crop.

The Swiss giant’s claims appear invalid, as traditional uses of Nigella sativa clearly anticipate Nestlé’s patent application, and developing country scholarship has already validated these traditional uses and further described, in contemporary scientific terms, the very medicinal properties of black seed that Nestlé seeks to claim as its own “invention."
It was already being used in King Tut's time, when the Swiss were still sheltering and shivering around open fires in Alpine caves, gnawing on bones.
In claiming use of Nigella sativa against food allergies, Nestlé’s scientists have not innovated beyond what was already known in traditional medicine from Egypt to India and beyond. Moreover, prior to Nestlé’s claim, researchers in those countries used formal scientific methods to demonstrate the efficacy of traditional use of black seed to treat allergy symptoms.

Those simple facts, however, have not deterred Nestlé from advancing its claim. In November 2011, Nestlé’s patent application in Europe was published. Other national (or regional) applications may exist but have yet to be published. Recently, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) released a search of scientific literature related to the application, and found problems with Nestlé’s claim to have made an invention, citing some of the same research that is noted in this report. The PCT opinion, however, is not binding on national patent offices, and Nestlé may submit modified claims. Thus, while the opinion is a blow to Nestlé’s application, it doesn’t mean that the claims are dead.

Like well-known biopiracy cases before it, such as patents on uses of neem, Nestlé’s unashamed attempt to appropriate traditional knowledge reflects an ethical lapse and shows profound problems with the company’s intellectual property practices. It can be hoped that Nestlé’s claim will be turned down by patent authorities, but the fact that patent claims over traditional knowledge that preceded it have result in patents shows that intellectual property offices sometime share industry’s disrespect for traditional knowledge. Indeed the fact that a corporation with the resources of Nestlé would pursue a patent on such an obviously pilfered “invention” at all is indicative of the need to improve patent review standards so that such applications are not worth filing in the first place.
Fighting for people over profits is how the blog SumOfUs introduced Nestlé’s ambitious claims.
In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy."

But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications-- which are currently pending-- around the world.

Prior to Nestlé's outlandish patent claim, researchers in developing nations such as Egypt and Pakistan had already published studies on the same curative powers Nestlé is claiming as its own. And Nestlé has done this before-- in 2011, it tried to claim credit for using cow’s milk as a laxative, despite the fact that such knowledge had been in Indian medical texts for a thousand years.

Don’t let Nestlé turn a traditional cure into a corporate cash cow.

We know Nestlé doesn’t care about ethics. After all, this is the corporation that poisoned its milk with melamine, purchases cocoa from plantations that use child slave labor, and launched a breast milk substitute campaign in the 1970s that contributed to the suffering and deaths of thousands of babies from poor communities.

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