Corporate Personhood Case Forces Supreme Court To Hack New Path

Stephan:  The evolution of corporate personhood continues. Through the activism of the Supreme Court -- talk about legislating from the bench -- we continue down the path of reinventing America as a corporatist oligarchy, run by a small group of corporate 'persons.'

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on whether corporations, like real people, can be held liable in American courts for international human rights violations.

The issue has divided four appeals courts over the past year and a half, as all but one Democrat-appointed judge has voted for corporate liability while all but one Republican-appointed judge has come down for corporate immunity.

If that pattern holds in the Supreme Court, then the five justices appointed by Republican presidents will surely be hit with more accusations of pro-business bias: Having all voted in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to extend to corporations the First Amendment right of actual people to independently spend unlimited sums in this country’s elections, they will in the current case have refused to hold corporations responsible, as real people are, for their roles in atrocities abroad.

That kind of application of corporate personhood would be enough to make a casual observer’s head explode.

Legally, however, Tuesday’s case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, is totally unrelated to the Citizens United decision. What the Court decides, at least in theory, should have everything to do with how the justices approach international law.

In Kiobel, about a dozen Nigerians […]

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FDA Adds Diabetes, Memory Loss Warnings to Statins

Stephan:  If you take a drug in this class of pharmaceuticals, I would discuss it with your physician. The risk reward ratio requires a careful calculation for your case.

Health regulators are adding warnings to the labels of widely used cholesterol lowering drugs, such as Lipitor, to say they may raise levels of blood sugar and could cause memory loss.

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday the changes to the safety information on the labels of statins such as Pfizer Inc’s Lipitor, AstraZeneca’s Crestor and Merck & Co’s Zocor that are taken by tens of millions of people.

Statins have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease, and the FDA said the new information should not scare people into stopping taking the drugs.

‘The value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established,’ Amy Egan, deputy director for safety in FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products, said in a statement. ‘Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.’

Lipitor, which became available late last year in generic form as atorvastatin, is the world’s all-time biggest selling prescription medicine with cumulative sales in excess of $130 billion. As a class, statins have helped enrich the world’s largest drugmakers, but most of the major brands are now prescribed as far cheaper generic medicines.

Last year, […]

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Greed Drives the Rich to Bend Ethics, Study Concludes

Stephan:  Here is a rather painful insight about us, and our culture.

LOS ANGELES — The rich really are different from the rest of us, scientists have found – they are more likely to commit unethical acts because they are more motivated by greed.

People driving expensive cars were more likely than other motorists to cut off drivers and pedestrians at a four-way-stop intersection in the San Francisco Bay Area, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, observed. Those findings led to a series of experiments that revealed that people of higher socioeconomic status were also more likely to cheat to win a prize, take candy from children and say they would pocket extra change handed to them in error rather than give it back.

Because rich people have more financial resources, they’re less dependent on social bonds for survival, the researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As a result, their self-interest reigns and they have fewer qualms about breaking the rules.

‘If you occupy a more insular world, you’re less likely to be sensitive to the needs of others,’ said study lead author Paul Piff, who is studying for a doctorate in psychology.

But before those in the so-called 99 percent start feeling ethically superior, consider this: Piff and […]

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Infant Mortality: An Alarming Problem in the U.S.

Stephan:  Overall the U.S. statistics concerning infant mortality are awful. The worst in the developed world, even though we spend more than any other nation. But, buried within these numbers, is a second insight, one that shows us that the Theocratic Rightist world view is unhealthy, and degrades national wellness. Once again the data shows that Red states have inferior outcomes to Blue states.

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OH — If asked to name the nations with the highest infant mortality rates, would you think of Third World nations or industrialized nations? When you think of all the industrialized nations in the world, how would you expect infant mortality rates in the U.S. to compare?

As hard as it is to imagine, the U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all the industrialized nations in the world. With all the advancements in medicine and technology taking place within our borders, we still have a problem preventing infants from dying.

According to statistics gathered in 2007, nearly seven out of 1,000 births in the U.S. are infant mortalities. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found 30 developed nations with infant mortality rates lower than the United States. Additionally, all of those 30 nations with lower infant mortality rates spend much less on health care than the U.S.

Different Rates Among Ethnic Groups and Geographical Regions

Just as the rate of infant deaths varies from region to region, it also varies between ethnic groups. There is an alarming difference in the rate of infant deaths between white women and non-Hispanic black women. Statistics reveal that non-Hispanic black women […]

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Tsunami Debris Reaches Halfway Across Pacific

Stephan:  Here is the latest on the debris from the Fukushima disaster.

HONOLULU — Lumber, boats and other debris ripped from Japanese coastal towns by tsunamis last year have spread across some 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) to areas halfway across the North Pacific.

Some could wash ashore on remote islands north of Hawaii any day now.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates the first bits of tsunami debris will land at small atolls northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands this winter.

NOAA’s tsunami marine debris coordinator, Ruth Yender, told an online news conference Tuesday that agency workers looking for the debris are boarding Coast Guard flights that regularly patrol the archipelago.

NOAA is also asking scientists stationed at Midway and other atolls to look for it.

Yender says so far no debris confirmed to be from the tsunamis has landed on U.S. shores.

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