Monthly Archives: October 2017

America’s forever wars

Editorial Board New York Times October 22, 2017

The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere.  An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as “unknown.” The Pentagon provided no further explanation.    Read full story.

Photo caption: Air Force officers walk toward an MQ-9 Reaper at Nigerien Air Base 101 in Niger.  Credit: Staff Sgt. Joshua R. M. Dewberry/Air Force

How vulture funds make money by harming ordinary citizens

Why investors can’t get enough of Tajikistan’s debt

Landon Thomas, Jr. New York Times October 17, 2017

Who owns Puerto Rico’s debt?  We’ve tracked down 10 of the biggest vulture firms.

Joel Cinteron Arbasetti and Carla Minet, Centro de Periodismo Investigativo,
and Alex V. Hernandez and Jessica Stites, In These Times October 17, 2017

The central mosque in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. A former Soviet republic, Tajikistan has rarely interacted with global investors but is offering an interest rate of just over 7 percent for a 10-year bond. Credit: James Hill/The New York Times

A phone in the exhibition “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship” at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. Visitors can pick up the receiver to hear a recreation of a conversation between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security Adviser, Henry Kissinger. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Stories about the United States role in oppression in Indonesia and Chile

Two recently published New York Times stories about the U.S. role in oppression.

U.S stood by as Indonesia killed a half-million people, papers show

Hanna Beech New York Times October 18, 2017

Documenting U.S. role in democracy’s fall and dictator’s rise in Chile

Pascale Bonnefoy New York Times October 14, 2017

Photo caption: A phone in the exhibition “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship” at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. Visitors can pick up the receiver to hear a recreation of a conversation between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security Adviser, Henry Kissinger. (Credit: Tomas Munita for The New York Times)

Photo caption: Greg Asbed, a labor activist in Florida, was awarded a $625,000 MacArthur fellowship last week. 

A MacAuthur ‘genius’ on overcoming modern farm slavery

Noam Scheiber New York Times October 18, 2017

Greg Asbed has spent much of his life fighting horrific labor abuses, including slavery. An organizer and human rights strategist, he co-founded the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that pioneered a system for overcoming brutal conditions in American agriculture. Last week, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded Mr. Asbed one of 24 annual fellowships, known colloquially as a “genius grant,” to support his work in this area.

Mr. Asbed’s group, based in Immokalee, Fla., the state’s tomato capital, has reached agreements with Walmart, McDonald’s and a dozen other major buyers of farm products to take part in its Fair Food Program. The companies pay a small premium for each unit of crop they purchase, sometimes referred to in shorthand as a “penny per pound,” and the growers agree to abide by a code of conduct on issues like worker safety and pay, which the premium funds.  See full story.

Photo caption: Greg Asbed, a labor activist in Florida, was awarded a $625,000 MacArthur fellowship last week. (Credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Cardinal Health Logo

The drug industry’s triumph over the Drug Enforcement Administration

Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein Washington Post October 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. Read full story.

Image caption: Cardinal Health Inc. paid a $34 million fine after the DEA brought a case in 2008 that claimed the company filled “blatantly suspicious” orders from online drugstores. (Image: Cardinal Health, Inc.)

Reducing enforcement in order to sell more prescription narcotics is a classic example of a harmful economic activity where one group uses resources to restructure the alternatives of a second group in such a way that the first group obtains income from the new behavior of the second group.  This restructuring reduces the value of the opportunities available to the second group.