Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Amid a targeted lobbying effort, Congress weakened the DEA’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise, a Washington Post and ‘60 Minutes’ investigation finds.

By Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein
Oct. 15, 2017

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino,
 a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch
 (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.

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TV Ratings Continue to Plummet for Sport That Once Epitomized Middle American Values

By Ben Mathis-Lilley

Well, it's Sunday again—another Sunday on which we'll likely see further erosion of audience interest in the sport that once symbolized what it meant to be a blue-collar heartland American.

Ratings for last Sunday were down 14 percent over last year.
Ratings for the previous Sunday were down 13 percent over last year.
And ratings for the Sunday before that were down 18 percent over last year.
I'm talking, of course, about NASCAR, the sport that's been hemorrhaging viewers from its predominately white audience for years amid the trend toward cord-cutting and complaints about constant commercial breaks.

NASCAR's ratings decline in recent years has been steeper even than that suffered by the NFL—another sports league that prides itself on its connection to red-state America, whose ratings are off a relatively modest seven percent this season.

Several recent press reports have noted for some reason that no NASCAR drivers or crew members are known to engage in political protests during the playing of the national anthem. Even if the opposite were true, though, it seems unlikely that such activities would explain the type of long-term, industry-wide sports broadcasting ratings trouble that NASCAR epitomizes.


Free market

Robert Reich

In the midst of the chaos that has enveloped the White House, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is charging ahead with plans to deregulate Wall Street. The Treasury Department recently released a 220-page report calling for the elimination of reforms designed to prevent another financial collapse. The recommendations include:
1) Easing oversight of financial markets by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
2) Limiting the ability of regulators to impose new rules.
3) Reducing the information companies must provide before they go public.
4) Repealing disclosure requirements for mining and other natural resources companies.
Adding insult to injury, the report also calls for the elimination of a rule that requires companies to release how much executives make compared to their employees. Naturally, lobbyists and trade associations for the financial industry immediately hailed the recommendations.
Do Trump and his team of banksters think we've forgotten about the last time Wall Street greed destroyed the economy? We need strong rules and regulators who will enforce them to protect public. If left to their own devices, the big banks and hedge funds will gamble away the economy again. Your thoughts?


Religiously speaking