The Darker Side of the News

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

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plytho
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby plytho » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:46 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
K-R wrote:
ObsessoMom wrote:The Red Cross also fundraises for money "for" a particular crisis, but the money they raise does not go "to" that crisis. All donated money goes into a general fund, and is not earmarked for any particular purpose. (This is why so little of the vast sums of money raised "for" Haiti after the earthquake actually ended up in Haiti. The Red Cross regards every catastrophe as a fundraising opportunity, but feels no obligation to make payouts proportional to the money raised "for" any particular catastrophe.)
And why should they? Putting aside any other issues with the Red Cross, this seems like an entirely sensible way of doing things.

I agree. The part of ObsessoMom's post you quoted read like a ringing endorsement of the Red Cross to me.

As long as the Red Cross uses fair criteria to decide how much money to spend on any particular disaster, at least. If the criterium used is "how many white people are affected" then of course that is a problem. But I don't think we have reason to think they are doing anything like that.

I don't agree. If the Red Cross is clearly stating that they will take your money and use fair criteria to decide when and how to use it then that's fine. If instead they say they're raising money for Texas but it goes to a general fund instead they are being misleading. Donors have their own criteria to decide how much money to spend on any particular disaster and believe they are making that choice when they donate for Harvey victims. The RC is misleading those donors.

I agree that using a general fund for disaster relief is a sensible strategy but misleading donors to get those funds isn't ok.

It's a sensible way to spend the money, not a sensible way to raise it. Unless you want to argue that any method is good to get people to donate more?

A better example:
MSF article wrote:"Following the earthquake, MSF initially developed fundraising activities and the generosity of people around the world in response to the tragedy that befell Haiti has been overwhelming. While the MSF medical relief effort was immediately shaping up to be massive in volume, the total of funds donated to MSF by the public specifically for this emergency threatened to eclipse what MSF could foresee to spend. Striking the right balance so early on was complicated by the fact that it took weeks for the real scale of needs to become clear as well as to gauge what other organizations would bring in terms of practical emergency assistance.
MSF takes the expectations of donors seriously and decided to discontinue active fundraising for the victims of the earthquake in the days following the disaster. While MSF continued to welcome donations, pro-active earmarked fundraising for Haiti was put on hold. Instead, MSF called upon donors to continue to support the organization for its current and future emergency work in general." MSF, “Emergency Response After the Haiti Earthquake: Choices, Obstacles, Activities and Finance,” Pg 25.
MSF spend their money in a sensible way and they raise it transparently, taking into account donor expectations.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Dauric » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:43 am UTC

A problem with fundraising "for" a disaster the funds will never go to is it sets up a policy of "little white lies". Everything goes to a general fund, and if the institution has a policy of being not entirely transparent with how money is going to be used, it at the very least sets up an -appearance- of dishonesty.

senators-report-finds-fundamental-concerns-about-red-cross-finances
"The most important thing [from the report] is an unwillingness to level with the people exactly where the money went," Grassley says. "There's too many questions in regard to how the money was spent in Haiti ... it gives me cause to wonder about other money being donated for other national disasters."
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:47 am UTC

The problem with just using funds for the disaster at hand is that the amount of funds is almost certainly closely linked with the media and overall visibility of the event, rather than the actual magnitude of the event. This is like the breast cancer vs other cancer problem, in terms of where money goes.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby plytho » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:12 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The problem with just using funds for the disaster at hand is that the amount of funds is almost certainly closely linked with the media and overall visibility of the event, rather than the actual magnitude of the event. This is like the breast cancer vs other cancer problem, in terms of where money goes.
I agree that's a problem. I disagree with way the Red Cross handles that problem. Pretending you're not using a general fund in order to increase donations is misleading.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:31 pm UTC

Hearing about the Red Cross doing blood-donation stuff and actually (purportedly) helping out in a first-world country makes me feel odd. Over here, I give blood via the NHS (and even get told via SMS which hospital it is used at!) and one donates to the Red Cross to try to help out in overseas crises1

They do attend internal disasters (floods and bombings, most notably), but I had to actually go and check that they do. I suspect I would appreciate them turning up if I found myself in such need, but I don't think I'd be expecting them, explicitly. As likely as not, rather just hordes of otherwise unaffiliated army of volunteers responding to any perceived/actual gap in the ability for the emergency services, armed forces and local government to cover all the non-overly-specialised functions. Which seems so 'British'. Naturally enough, I suppose.

ETA: The trouble with donations to a specific cause is that it's difficult to delineate. For example, the money donated to the IRA by 'well meaning' Americans, stipulating that their donation would not go to weapons (whether or not they personally believed that) could so easily go to non-lethal administrative functions like paying the wages of the fundraisers, meaning that the monies that would ordinarily have had to come out of less-discriminating donors' donations could now all go towards those weapons. You can't really separate "red money" from "blue money" from "green money", so long as the final balance sheets allow enough flexibility to juggle it and still show that "$X raised for X, $X used for X" is true enough, in the long run… If some outgoing proportion (up to 100%!) of $X has to come from a prior float and thence the same amount of incoming $X goes into refilling and maintaing that float for the next time it is needed, then it's all fair. As is using over-donations for something else, rather than guilding an already dealt with lilly, or ensuring that resources (equipment, trained people, even the ability to generate the future income streams themselves) are maintained or improved to keep the organisation actually relevent.


1 The most visibly public local causes are charities like St Johns Ambulance, various Air Ambulances, the RNLI2, Hospices, Food Banks, etc, all of which show gaps in the welfare state (or lets the 'normal' aspects of it not have to not bother with outlying events as well as commonplace emergency coverage).
2 The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, from what I gather, deliberately stays charitable due to historic issues with being government-funded. And HM Coastguard still acts on a civil basis.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:34 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Hearing about the Red Cross doing blood-donation stuff and actually (purportedly) helping out in a first-world country makes me feel odd.

Me too, except that I was just going to refer to this story which mentions that the Red Cross were/are involved in responding to the Grenfell Tower disaster. I don't have a problem with a general fund, nor with "left-over" money from a specific campaign going into that fund; in fact I'm sometimes worried about the opposite problem: that I might donate to the "wrong" campaign and my donation would end up getting stuck somewhere, unable to be spent.

As I understand it, blood donation in general the US is a commercial thing that donors get paid for. I hadn't thought about the perverse incentives that might give to a charity, but if it turns out that they can sell the blood and do more good work with the money than they could by freighting the blood itself, then I guess it makes sense.

The other thing with the Red Cross is that it has Christianity baked into its name (why else does it rebrand as the Red Crescent in Muslim countries?) Whatever its actual policy (which I'm sure is completely secular), I'm not 100% comfortable about that.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby idonno » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:43 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:so long as the final balance sheets allow enough flexibility to juggle it and still show that "$X raised for X, $X used for X" is true enough, in the long run… If some outgoing proportion (up to 100%!) of $X has to come from a prior float and thence the same amount of incoming $X goes into refilling and maintaing that float for the next time it is needed, then it's all fair.
That is a big issue. Can The Red Cross demonstrate this? I can find lots of articles about the Haiti relief that involve contacting The Red Cross and got nothing more than evasive responses and threats out of them. It is pretty hard for me to tell the difference from raising money for one thing and giving it to something else and outright fraud and the fact that this may have been done with money for a very poor black country (Haiti has around $800 GDP per capita) that was suffering from significant devastation really pisses me off. If they can't provide an accounting for the money (if it had been spent building in Haiti you should be able to see it in their GDP which is only about $8B), they won't get any money from me again.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby pogrmman » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:10 pm UTC

idonno wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:so long as the final balance sheets allow enough flexibility to juggle it and still show that "$X raised for X, $X used for X" is true enough, in the long run… If some outgoing proportion (up to 100%!) of $X has to come from a prior float and thence the same amount of incoming $X goes into refilling and maintaing that float for the next time it is needed, then it's all fair.
That is a big issue. Can The Red Cross demonstrate this? I can find lots of articles about the Haiti relief that involve contacting The Red Cross and got nothing more than evasive responses and threats out of them. It is pretty hard for me to tell the difference from raising money for one thing and giving it to something else and outright fraud and the fact that this may have been done with money for a very poor black country (Haiti has around $800 GDP per capita) that was suffering from significant devastation really pisses me off. If they can't provide an accounting for the money (if it had been spent building in Haiti you should be able to see it in their GDP which is only about $8B), they won't get any money from me again.


It was after the Haiti thing that I really started questioning the Red Cross (and other charity organizations, for that matter). With the amount of money donated to relief for the earthquake, it recovery has taken far longer than it should've. One of the issues is throwing money at the problem doesn't always work (or food aid, for that matter). Money doesn't fix anything on its own.

orthogon wrote:As I understand it, blood donation in general the US is a commercial thing that donors get paid for.

As far as I know, that's only for plasma donors. I donate whole blood regular(ish)ly in the US (only to my local blood banks [at home and at school] though). I believe the vast majority of blood banks don't pay for whole blood.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:28 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:The other thing with the Red Cross is that it has Christianity baked into its name (why else does it rebrand as the Red Crescent in Muslim countries?) Whatever its actual policy (which I'm sure is completely secular), I'm not 100% comfortable about that.

"The Red Cross is committed to helping people without discrimination, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality, political beliefs or religion" (says the first resource I checked, in discovering how little I knew about the domestic assistance provided by the BRC).

And I always thought that the choice of the parallel Red Crescent branding was a choice to distance the umbrella organisation (European but neutral, Swiss Flag origins aside) from the imagery of the Crusaders of the olden times, although then they inadvertently ended up perpetuating the embedded difference between secularist coordinated subgroups as if actually they were non-secular 'rival' organisations.

But I'm sure I'm at least partly wrong. I really must check…

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:18 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:But I'm sure I'm at least partly wrong. I really must check…

I'm sure you're right. I did no research at all - it was more, as you say, the impression that the name(s) give.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:15 pm UTC

If it's a choice between doing nothing and sending money to the American Red Cross, then by all means, send money to the American Red Cross, with my blessing.

But generally there are other choices available. This New York Times article lists several Hurricane Harvey-related charities in addition to the American Red Cross.

I encourage people to check out the following two articles on problems with the American Red Cross's responses to recent disasters. Things seem to have changed for the worse under CEO Gail McGovern (who came in from the business world after there were complaints about the American Red Cross's response to Hurricane Katrina under the previous CEO). Perhaps the recent outcry will finally take this important organization in a more productive direction.

I've spoilered some highlights from the articles if you're pressed for time.

Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy: The Red Cross' Secret Disaster (ProPublica, October 2014)

Spoiler:
The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. The charity’s shortcomings were detailed in confidential reports and internal emails, as well as accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists.

What’s more, Red Cross officials at national headquarters in Washington, D.C. compounded the charity’s inability to provide relief by “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” as one internal report puts it. Distribution of relief supplies, the report said, was “politically driven.”

During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls.

“We were sent way down on the Gulf with nothing to give,” Dunham says. The Red Cross’ relief effort was “worse than the storm.”

During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.

[...]

Richard Rieckenberg, who oversaw aspects of the Red Cross’ efforts to provide food, shelter and supplies after the 2012 storms, said the organization’s work was repeatedly undercut by its leadership.

Top Red Cross officials were concerned only “about the appearance of aid, not actually delivering it,” Rieckenberg says. “They were not interested in solving the problem — they were interested in looking good. That was incredibly demoralizing.”

[...]

The Red Cross mobilized hundreds of volunteers, equipment, emergency vehicles and supplies. But it couldn’t marshal them promptly enough to help many Isaac victims.

When Rieckenberg arrived in Mississippi to help coordinate victim care, he witnessed the incident that so troubled Dunham, the emergency vehicle driver. An official gave the order to send out 80 trucks and emergency response vehicles — normally full of meals or supplies like diapers, bleach and paper towels — entirely empty or carrying a few snacks.

The volunteers “were told to drive around and look like you’re giving disaster relief,” Rieckenberg says. The official was anticipating a visit by Red Cross brass and wanted to impress them with the level of activity, he says.

The disarray and deception in Mississippi made Rieckenberg “furious,” he recalls.

[...]

The problems with the Red Cross’ response to Isaac began even before the storm hit. About 460 mass care volunteer workers — 90 percent of the workers the organization dispatched to provide food and shelter for the storm overall — were stationed in Tampa ahead of landfall, Rieckenberg’s emails from the time say.

The hundreds of volunteers in Tampa weren’t only there for the hurricane: The Republican National Convention was going on there and the Red Cross wanted a large presence, Rieckenberg says.

[...]

The Red Cross disputes the notion that the Republican National Convention influenced their deployment, saying it was responding to early forecasts that Tampa might be in Isaac’s path.

“There was nothing political in our decisions regarding Tampa,” the charity says. “We would have made the same decisions if it had been a convention of chiropractors.”

But according to the National Hurricane Center, at least five days before Isaac made landfall it was clear the storm would not hit Tampa.

[...]

The overall Red Cross operation after Isaac was beset by problems. Rieckenberg emailed his superior at national headquarters on Sept. 12, 2012, to sound the alarm. “In Mississippi we were unable to open a single shelter with proper staff, materials and food resources prior to landfall,” Rieckenberg wrote. “We had trouble getting food to our kitchens.” The Red Cross’ relief efforts were “marked primarily by internal political wrangling, power struggles and ineffectiveness.”

[...]

Rieckenberg [...] planned the Red Cross’ mass care effort from Washington before the storm [Superstorm Sandy] hit and then worked on the ground in New York[.] [...] In early November, the Red Cross had a limited number of emergency response vehicles, or ERVs, active in the New York City area.

But multiple officials complained that the vehicles, a crucial part of the relief efforts, were being tied up at press conferences. On Nov. 2, 2012, at the peak of the post-storm crisis, 15 were assigned to public relations duties, Rieckenberg says. Meanwhile, Sandy victims in neighborhoods along the beaches like the Rockaways couldn’t get food and drinkable water. Rieckenberg documented his concerns in an email on Nov. 18, 2012, to Riggen, the Red Cross executive in charge of disaster operations, and later mentioned it in a December email to other top Red Cross disaster volunteers.

[...]

During the Sandy disaster, some government officials came to resent the Red Cross.

When the storm hit, officials in Bergen County, New Jersey activated their Emergency Operations Center. In keeping with a carefully established plan, representatives from government agencies and charities gather there to coordinate, share information and respond to crises 24 hours a day.

A seat was reserved for the Red Cross, the most important nongovernment responder. But the Red Cross’ seat remained empty for the full duration of the Sandy response.

“They were the only major player not there,” says police lieutenant Matthew Tiedemann, who helped run Bergen County’s response to Sandy. County officials had no easy way to get in touch with Red Cross leadership to tell them about areas of need on the ground, he says.

Haiti: In Search Of The Red Cross' $500 Million In Haiti Relief (NPR, June 2015)

Spoiler:
When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever.

The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went.

NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity's internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.

The Red Cross long has been known for providing emergency disaster relief — food, blankets and shelter to people in need. And after the earthquake, it did that work in Haiti, too. But the Red Cross has very little experience in the difficult work of rebuilding in a developing country.

The organization, which in 2010 had a $100 million deficit, out-raised other charities by hundreds of millions of dollars — and kept raising money well after it had enough for its emergency relief. But where exactly did that money go?

Ask a lot of Haitians — even the country's former prime minister — and they will tell you they don't have any idea.

"Five hundred million in Haiti is a lot of money," says Jean-Max Bellerive, who was prime minister until 2011. "I'm not a big mathematician, but I can make some additions. It doesn't add up for me."

On a recent day, Bellerive was sipping coffee in his living room, high above Port-au-Prince, with Joel Boutroue, who was the United Nations deputy special representative in Haiti before the earthquake and an advisor to the Haitian government afterward. Boutroue says he can't account for where the nearly $500 million went either.

They considered the Red Cross' claim on its website and press releases: That all the money went to help 4.5 million Haitians get "back on their feet."

"No, no, not possible," Bellerive says. "We don't have that population in the area affected by the earthquake."

"You know," Boutroue chimes in, "4.5 million was 100 percent of the urban area in 2010. One hundred percent. It would mean the American Red Cross would have served entire cities of Haiti."

It's not unheard of for the Red Cross to make such a claim. Not long ago, the charity hired a group of consultants to review one of its projects in the north of the country. They found the charity's math unreliable when it came to counting people it helped. There was double-counting, undercounting, and in one instance the Red Cross claimed to have helped more people than actually lived there.

The charity's own documents, however, give some insight: Much of the money never reached people in need.

[...]

The Red Cross gave much of the money to other groups to do the hands-on work, resulting in additional fees.

First the Red Cross took a customary administrative cut, then the charities that received the money took their own fees. And then, according to the Red Cross' records, the charity took out an additional amount to pay for what it calls the "program costs incurred in managing" these third-party projects.

In one of the programs reviewed by NPR and ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was supposed to help Haitians.

[...]

Simon Julnet opens a filing cabinet and spreads out the booklets that the Red Cross gave them in 2012. Inside is a list of priorities they and the Red Cross agreed to for their area: homes, clinics, water and bathrooms. Asked about each one, the men shake their heads no.

"First, three years ago," Julnet says, "the main plan was to build houses."

The men say they think it's possible that the Red Cross will still build them homes. Flaubert says they have asked the Red Cross repeatedly to tell them what's going on.

"We're fighting now with the Red Cross but we still do not have any answers," he says.

When shown a Red Cross promotional brochure about the project, the men are stunned.

The brochure says the project is scheduled to end next year. Far from new homes and new neighborhoods, it says the Red Cross will do smaller projects such as repairing some homes, walkways and schools. The Red Cross is also building a road. The brochure says the project is costing $24 million.

"I don't understand an organization like the Red Cross acting like that," Julnet says. "If they have received that kind of money, maybe they paid their employees with it? That is OK. But that kind of money spent here in the community? No, that cannot be said."

[...]

Meltzer, the Red Cross lawyer, says that land ownership and government issues often were outside of the charity's control.

"For the American Red Cross and the Red Cross in general, shelter has been a priority," says Meltzer, adding that the Red Cross has "provided homes for more than 130,000 Haitians.

"If you go to [those] people and ask them where they are living today, they will tell you 'I am living in my home,' " he says.

But if you go in search of those tens of thousands of new permanent homes in Haiti, you won't find them.

After several emails, the Red Cross acknowledged that the "130,000 Haitians" figure is made up of people who went to a seminar on how to fix their own homes, people who received temporary rental assistance, and thousands of people who received temporary shelters — which start to disintegrate after three to five years.

Archaic land title and government requirements make building in Haiti very difficult and time-consuming, but other charities have built almost 9,000 homes so far, according to figures from Global Shelter Cluster.

For example, Global Communities and PCI are building multifamily homes with running water after completing more than 300 homes in the neighborhood of Ravine Pintade.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:04 am UTC

Tired of the federal government removing your patent protections on your overpriced drugs? Do you want generics to never exist? Then call your lawyer now and shack up to a desperate indian reservation. TLDR: Sell your patents to Native Americans in exchange for them declaring sovereign immunity.
The drugmaker Allergan announced Friday that it had transferred its patents on a best-selling eye drug to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in upstate New York — an unusual gambit to protect the drug from a patent dispute.

Under the deal, which involves the dry-eye drug Restasis, Allergan will pay the tribe $13.75 million. In exchange, the tribe will claim sovereign immunity as grounds to dismiss a patent challenge through a unit of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The tribe will lease the patents back to Allergan, and will receive $15 million in annual royalties as long as the patents remain valid.
Sigh, and this is one of many reasons why healthcare costs so much. https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/09/al ... reign.html
Last edited by sardia on Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:22 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:48 pm UTC

That is sick. If that becomes a popular tactic, I'd worry about potential legal remedies levied against tribal sovereignty. Always great to see poor folks of different stripes pitted against each other.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Diadem » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:28 pm UTC

Can someone explain how that works? I can see how a sovereignty claim can protect them from all kinds of liabilities. But how can it protect them from competitor's challenging their patent?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:03 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Can someone explain how that works? I can see how a sovereignty claim can protect them from all kinds of liabilities. But how can it protect them from competitor's challenging their patent?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/heal ... ml?mcubz=0
The announcement Friday is perhaps the most novel attempt to avoid a patent-review process that the brand-name drug industry has railed against in recent years. The process was created in 2011 as a way to streamline patent challenges by allowing them to be decided by an administrative panel, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. But many patent holders have argued that the process is unfair and unnecessary because patents are already challenged in the federal courts. The Supreme Court will take up the issue next year in the case Oil States vs. Greene’s Energy Group.

In the case of Restasis, the validity of the drug’s six patents — which the company says expire in 2024 — are being heard by the review panel, even as a similar battle is also moving through the federal courts. A trial over the issue recently concluded in U.S. District Court in Texas and a decision in that case has not yet been reached. The deal announced with the Mohawk tribe will not have any bearing on the federal court case. If the company loses that case, its patents would be invalidated regardless of the deal with the tribe.
TLDR This indian giving deal will delay any patent losses to generics until a slow moving court case winds it's way through all the court systems. Currently, it's on a 2 track issue. A patent board which can nullify their patents soon, and a federal court case which MAY nullify their patents later. Sovereign immunity protects from the former, not the latter. It's based on a precedent set by
"Mr. Bailey and others said the legal theory behind the Mohawk deal stemmed from a decision by the patent-review panel earlier this year involving the University of Florida, which owned a patent being challenged by the medical-device maker Covidien. The university, which was also represented by the Shore Chan DePumpo firm, successfully argued that the challenges should be dismissed because, as an arm of the state of Florida, the university should be granted sovereign immunity."

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:06 am UTC

You want to talk screwed up? Look at Humira. Basically, Rhuemetoid Arthritis represents 1/4 of the Specialty Rx costs (the ones that keep going up each year), and Humira represents 1/4 of that. It's critical because it lets the sufferers live like real people, but it costs $4k/month, so if you have RA you will get the best health plan you can and you will be hitting your MOOP each year on top of your high premiums, so even insured you are hemorrhaging money.

Now the funny thing is Humira has not been patent protected for a year now. Why aren't there generic alternatives ("biosimilars" in this case) in the US? Well, the drug itself isn't protected, but the delivery system is. Why, when the tech has been around since the Victorian era? Because it's still in the courts and they've basically placed a hold until the case is determined. That doesn't get into generics having been around in India for just $200/month for several years now.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:56 pm UTC

Welp, shit's going down in Catalunya in the run-up to the leave referendum scheduled for the 1st of October (but declared illegal by the Spanish Federal Government).

Unsurprisingly, Spain's blaming the whole thing on the Catalans despite the fact that they're simply trying to exercise their human rights to self-determination (as almost universally accepted when it comes to other countries).

Anyway, I can't imagine this will stop things. The polls were putting the leave vote on path for a convincing but not enormous victory and this seems like it'll swing things further that way. Hopefully the EU (and others) will come down on Spain like a ton of bricks for this brutal suppression but, well, I'm sceptical.

I had thought about going to Madrid or Barcelona for postgrad soon, but that's looking less sensible (particularly the latter) now
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:55 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Unsurprisingly, Spain's blaming the whole thing on the Catalans despite the fact that they're simply trying to exercise their human rights to self-determination (as almost universally accepted when it comes to other countries).


The biggest problem I have with secession votes (I'm from Quebec FYI) is the impact of a very close vote. What do you do with all the people who are citizens of the country you are leaving? If they want to remain citizens of that country you're basically forcing them to relocate. It just seems too drastic compared to almost any other legislative decision.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:21 pm UTC

In the short term at least a sitch similar to that that still exists in Ireland seems best. There, anyone born on the island of Ireland (whether in the republic or the north) is eligible for Irish citizenship (and possibly UK citizenship, I'm less sure there) with an open border and automatic bilateral indefinite right to remain and work. As Catalunya would definitely want to be part of the EU, the open border and right to work and remain would be taken for granted in any arrangement.

Edit: so the situation I'd hope for is both countries to be part of Schengen (so open borders and right to work and remain); all current Spanish citizens in Catalunya to retain Spanish citizenship (unless they choose to renounce it) and to be offered Catalan citizenship for free; going on, anyone born in Catalunya to have the right to Spanish citizenship with whatever other requirements there may be as if they'd been born on Spanish territory; Catalunya to offer Catalan citizenship to Spanish citizens (although possibly only those who can prove Catalan heritage or who are resideny in the neighbouring autonomous communities of Aragon, Valencia, and the Balearics
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:18 pm UTC

I'm not really even talking about the legal details of citizenship or the like. I'm talking about the people in Catalonia who consider themselves Spanish citizens living in Spain. This referendum passes and suddenly sorry you are no longer living in Spain. You're in Catalonia. You want to keep living in Spain? Well then move to Spain. Realistically this is a problem with any border change, but allowing it to happen with only a tiny majority (50%+1) seems ridiculous.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:04 pm UTC

Yeah, that is tricky. This looked like it was going to be a bit more convincing than that, albeit with a substantial unhappy minority.

I guess the only cases where that hasn't really been very much the case are things like when Czechoslovakia split up or when Montenegro and Serbia split up (oh, and I guess South Sudan but that's had other problems since and is an even worse comparison to Spain statistically).
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:29 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Yeah, that is tricky. This looked like it was going to be a bit more convincing than that, albeit with a substantial unhappy minority.

I guess the only cases where that hasn't really been very much the case are things like when Czechoslovakia split up or when Montenegro and Serbia split up (oh, and I guess South Sudan but that's had other problems since and is an even worse comparison to Spain statistically).


Yeah the South Sudan case was something like 90+% of the people voted for independence. At that point I certainly have less of an issue with it. The other two were already somewhat independent states that were joined together for whatever reason. It seems those didn't even need referendums and it was more just a legislative separation that both sides wanted. That's probably the sticking point here. In the cases where both sides want to separate it's pretty straight forward. When one actually wants to secede it's different.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Grop » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:50 am UTC

There was a similar debate right after the Brexit vote. It would make sense for such a dramatic decision as leaving a country, to demand a larger majority thant 50% (maybe 60% for instance or whatever). That would just have to be stated beforehand, so that people can't complain after the vote that results aren't good enough. Which is just a matter of organisation.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:12 am UTC

Noting that it wasn't just a vote for Leave that some thought should only be valid if it were overwhelming. This guy was among those preparing to argue that a vote to Remain was invalid unless far more qualified than it ended up.

And why has nobody mentioned Scotland, yet?

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:01 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Noting that it wasn't just a vote for Leave that some thought should only be valid if it were overwhelming. This guy was among those preparing to argue that a vote to Remain was invalid unless far more qualified than it ended up.

And why has nobody mentioned Scotland, yet?

They have, in the thread for this topic.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:36 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:And why has nobody mentioned Scotland, yet?

They have, in the thread for this topic.


In the exact context of this, that is. If Brexit is mentioned outwith the Brexit thread, Indref (being closer still to the circumstances of the Catalans) seems like the better comparison, is all.

(I see that's the Catalonia thread you mention, that I haven't read at all, but the argument still stands for the local treatment. We now return you to other Darker news, though. There's plenty to discuss.)

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:31 pm UTC

Water, Water Everywhere.
But; Not a drop to drink.

As the world's media trains its sights on the tragic events in U.S., another water-driven catastrophe is unfolding in Bangladesh and parts of Nepal and India.
From a CNN Report Dated September 1st.
http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/01/asia/bang ... index.html
1,500 people were known to have died in the first day of flooding.
A weeks worth of Monsoon Rain fell in, just, hours.

The sheer number of displaced people would be a monumental challenge for any government, but in Bangladesh, where as many as 27,000 Rohingya refugees have this week arrived across the border from Myanmar -- joining an estimated 85,000 currently housed in camps -- the situation becomes additionally perilous.
Does anyone think we, humans, can return to that rich delta farmland?
That is now swamp. The sea has taken it; It is not going to give it back.

"Providing clean water and sanitation are our major priorities right now. The floodwaters will soon become a breeding ground for deadly diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis,"
Good Grief!
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:42 pm UTC

Bangladesh has been increasingly fucked for a while now. It's pretty much all the silt deposited by meltwater running into the ocean, so it's flat and permeable. Rising sea level has been turning the ground water salty, making crops harder and harder to grow and effectively making areas useless to humanity. The shifting climate has made those meltwater rivers unreliable, so they can dry up and come back with a vengeance, shifting course and destroying whatever's in the way along with whatever depended on them along the old course. Short of a massive international effort to build polders from Balasore to Chittagong, line the tops with solar panels and pump the saltwater out, Bangladesh is going the way of Tuvalu and the homes of 147 to 650 million people this century.

India knows Bangladesh is fucked. India knows the people of Bangladesh are going to need to go elsewhere to find any sort of future for their descendants. India knows also that north of Bangladesh is mountains, east are Myanmar and Thailand where coastal flooding is a threat to even larger percentages of the population this century than it is in Bangladesh and west is India. India has deduced that Bangladeshis are likely to try to escape 3m of sea-level rise this century and at the rate we've been ignoring warnings 13m by 2200 by crossing the border into India. India has responded to this by building a wall. They started back in the '80s, and kept burning coal.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby addams » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:59 pm UTC

oh, sigh...
I read, "By the year 2100..." and I think, "No. Now."
It is Dark News, indeed.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:51 am UTC

Deadliest mass shooting in US history. Wonderful way to wake up in the morning, that </snark>.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ivnja » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:44 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Deadliest mass shooting in US history. Wonderful way to wake up in the morning, that </snark>.

I woke up to 20+ dead / 100+ wounded, and Now I go on break at work to see 50+/400+. Having some trouble wrapping my mind around it.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Mutex » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:04 pm UTC

BBC article says witnesses say people were being trampled. I wonder how many people died from being shot, and how many died in the stampede to get away.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby ObsessoMom » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:02 am UTC

From the Guardian:

America's gun violence in one chart: 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days

Scroll down. And keep scrolling.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:37 am UTC

Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: [in the US] there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average.

Wow. Just wow.

Incredible that there is such a panic when foreigners kill Americans but such apathy when it's self-inflicted.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Coyne » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:20 am UTC

elasto wrote:
Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: [in the US] there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average.

Wow. Just wow.

Incredible that there is such a panic when foreigners kill Americans but such apathy when it's self-inflicted.

Usually, self inflicted murder gets reported only locally, maybe for a day . OTOH, all mass murders by foreigners get reported broadly, often for weeks. Easy to panic wheñ every station is blaring about the foreign murderer 24/7.
In all fairness...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:32 am UTC

There's also the problem of the absolute number being so shocking because there's a ridiculous amount of people in the US (or really almost any country). Things are rare in percentages but are still huge absolute numbers. Looking at Wikipedia there were over 5 million car crashes, 30k of which were fatal in 2010. That's like 13k crashes per day ~80 of which killed at least one person.

That's not to say there's not an issue with gun violence in the US compared to elsewhere, because even when you normalize things the US numbers are awful. But when you look at absolute numbers it makes you feel like things are much worse because people are inherently bad at comprehending very large numbers (like the populations of countries).

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:14 pm UTC

Interesting you should mention that comparison, as I was just reading this paper : Deaths from international terrorism compared with road
crash deaths in OECD countries
.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:32 pm UTC

Jumble wrote:Interesting you should mention that comparison, as I was just reading this paper : Deaths from international terrorism compared with road
crash deaths in OECD countries
.

My mother is a highway traffic safety researcher, specializing in ped/bike incidents. It was a grim household to grow up in (my dad is a conservation biologist). One of the things her center does is contracting with various states and cities (Seattle and Cambridge were recent ones) to design safety improvement plans.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:40 pm UTC

Coyne wrote:
elasto wrote:
Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: [in the US] there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average.

Wow. Just wow.

Incredible that there is such a panic when foreigners kill Americans but such apathy when it's self-inflicted.

Usually, self inflicted murder gets reported only locally, maybe for a day . OTOH, all mass murders by foreigners get reported broadly, often for weeks. Easy to panic wheñ every station is blaring about the foreign murderer 24/7.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/ma ... -violence/
Mass shootings aren't the reason we lose so many to guns. The research on gun deaths is so stale, we hardly know anything about how to solve it. That said, most gun deaths are due to suicide. The rest is due to homicide. A tiny fraction is accidents and terrorism.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:36 pm UTC

Apparently Trump has just arrived in Las Vegas, presumably bored of insulting disaster victims in Puerto Rico.

I'm sure he'll say something helpful, subtle and supportive.
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