Monthly Archives: December 2017

In memoriam 2017: Those who opposed oppression, injustice

(Some of) those who opposed oppression and injustice who died in 2017 (or died earlier, but whose deaths were recognized by sources in 2017).

Record 200 activists murdered globally for defending the environment as numbers grow year-on-year. Nearly four people were killed every week across 24 countries in 2016 Chloe Farand The Independent July 13, 2017

Roy Innis, black activist with a right-wing bent, dies at 82 Robert D. McFadden New York Times January 10, 2017

Former Russian lawmaker is killed in Ukraine Andrew Roth and Natalie Gryvnyak Washington Post March 23, 2017

Dick Gregory, cutting-edge satirist and uncompromising activist, dies at 84 T. Rees Shapiro Washington Post August 20, 2017

Kate Millett, ground-breaking feminist writer, is dead at 82 Parul Sehgal and Neil Genzlinger New York Times September 6, 2017

Syrian activist and journalist daughter ‘murdered’ in Istanbul  BBC News September 22, 2017

Investigative journalist in Malta is killed in car bombing Sewell Chan New York Times October 16, 2017

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Decline of rural lending crimps small town business

An important Wall Street Journal article on how the decline of rural banks and lending is a key factor in the decline of rural communities.  The corporatisation of agriculture and the increase in the size of farms has meant less demand for rural community services and the number of people employed in those communities. Thus large banks don’t feel their rural branches are profitable enough to keep open, nor, now, do they have enough people skilled in small-town banking.  Branches  are closed, people come less to rural communities as the bank is not there, and rural savings flow to urban areas, instead of being used to improve the local economy.

Goodby George Bailey: Decline of rural lending crimps small town business Ruth Simon and Coulter Jones Wall Street Journal December 25, 2017


To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses, a group of free-thinking Economists and students challenged the current dogma in standard economics and investigated the shaky foundations of the neoclassical faith, at a meeting in London at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Credit: IIPP

Standard economics: 50+ years of resisting new ideas

Lane Vanderslice

The Union for Radical Political Economics is 50 this year, and a notice has just been sent out about a 50th anniversary celebration at the University of Massachusetts .  URPE was started in 1968 because of great frustration with standard economics, which  had limited theories (neglecting power, for one thing) and confined to a narrow range of problems which did not include such things as imperialism, the military industrial complex and discrimination. I was one of the group of economics graduate students at the University of Michigan, that, after several years of working for change at the U.M. economics department, sent out a call for a new organization embodying different principles to economics departments across the United States.  The response was great, and URPE was begun.  (See the 1968 URPE Prospectus.)

URPE and the organizations and publications that preceded and came after its establishment, have come to be known as heterodox, for expressing a variety of analyses and analytical frameworks such as Marxism and Institutional Economics not present in standard economics.  This significant group has permitted much useful analysis to be presented, which otherwise would have been stifled by standard economic journals.

Alas,  the divide between standard and heterodox economics continues today. Gary Dimski Continue reading

Number of opioid deaths 1999-2016 Credit: Washington Post Source: CDC

Huge U.S. opioid case ends in a wimper

The opioid crisis has hit the United States hard. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “More than 90 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids.1  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.2  Three new articles bring out important features.  The first article describes how the opioid crisis is reducing the average U.S.   lifespan.   The second tells that, in spite of a strong case against McKesson for failing to report suspicious orders involving millions of addictive painkillers, the Justice Department and DEA attorneys let McKesson off with a minimal punishment. Diverting large quantities of opiates to people who are addicted to them is a clear example of harming people to make money.  Lastly, an op-ed on the issue.

Life expectancy in US down for second year in a row as opioid crisis deepens Jessica Glenza The Guardian December 21, 2017

Life expectancy in the US has declined for the second year in a row as the opioid crisis continues to ravage the nation. It is the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy. Drug overdoses killed 63,600 Americans in 2016, an increase of 21% over the previous year, researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics found.  Read full story.

‘We feel like our system was hijacked’: DEA agents say a huge opioid case ended in a wimper  Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham Washington Post  December 17,  2017

After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in U.S. history. The team, based out of the DEA’s Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation’s largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla. Some of those went to corrupt pharmacies that supplied drug rings. Read full story.

The opioid crisis isn’t just about negligence. It’s about complicity.  Robert Gebelhoff Washington Post December 19, 2017

Number of opioid deaths 1999-2016 Credit: Washington Post Source: CDC


Caption: A bare room in a looted home. The village of Nadungoru became a ghost town after residents fled invading herdsmen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Loss of Fertile Land Fuels ‘Looming Crisis’ Across Africa

Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times July 30, 2017
Africa has a land problem. The continent seems so vast and the land so open. The awesome sense of space is an inextricable part of the beauty here — the unadulterated vistas, the endless land. But in a way, that is an illusion. Population swells, climate change, soil degradation, erosion, poaching, global food prices and even the benefits of affluence are exerting incredible pressure on African land. They are fueling conflicts across the continent. See full story.

Caption: A bare room in a looted home. The village of Nadungoru became a ghost town after residents fled invading herdsmen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times