US trade rep threatens Colombia's peace process over legal plan to offer cheap leukemia meds

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Colombia wants to produce Novartis's leukemia drug imatinib under a compulsory license, something it is allowed to do under its trade agreement with the USA, to bring the price down from $15,161/year (double the annual average income) to prices like those charged in India ($803/year). Read the rest

Security researcher discovers glaring problem with patient data system, FBI stages armed dawn raid

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Justin Shafer was roused from his bed this week by thunderous knocking at his North Richland Hills, Texas home, and when he opened the door, found himself staring down the barrel of a 'big green' assault weapon, wielded by one of the 12-15 armed FBI agents on his lawn. Read the rest

Someone just snuck warrantless email access into the Senate's secret intelligence bill

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Every year, the Senate passes a secret bill (that is, a bill whose text is a secret during its debate) that re-authorizes intelligence agencies' surveillance powers; this year, someone (possibly chairman Richard Burr, R-NC and/or Tom Cotton, R-AR) has snuck in an amendment that would give the FBI the power to demand warrantless access to Americans' email and browsing history, using National Security Letters, a controversial, widely used secret police order. Read the rest

Anonymous Analytics: self-proclaimed Anon "faction" that tanks companies through stock reports

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Anonymous Analytics describes itself as "a faction of Anonymous" that uses its "unique skills to expose fraud and corruption among public companies." Read the rest

FBI is investigating copyright trolls Prenda Law for fraud

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For more than four years, we've been writing about Prenda Law, a prolific copyright troll (that is, a company that sends dire legal threats and demands for money to people they accuse of copyright infringement, based on the flimsiest of evidence), whose conduct is so breathtakingly illegal that it feels like satire or performance art (but it's not). Read the rest

How a pharma company made billions off mass murder by faking the science on Oxycontin

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When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest

If Donald Trump ever talks to a real journalist, these are the questions he should answer

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The questions posed by David Cay Johnston include some tough-to-avoid queries about Trump's involvement with the mafia, the regulatory findings against his company for unfair and unsafe employment practices, and times when Trump had admitted to shading the truth or lying outright about his affairs. Read the rest

Philippines' new "dictator" will give a hero's burial to Ferdinand Marcos

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Rodrigo Duterte is the new president of the Philippines: he ran on a promise to be a "dictator" and endorsed execution by vigilante death-squad as a way of combating crime; now he's announced that he will give a hero's burial to the embalmed corpse of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who committed mass-scale human rights abuses and embezzled $10B from the national treasury. Read the rest

Algorithmic risk-assessment: hiding racism behind "empirical" black boxes

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Courts around America and the world increasingly rely on software based risk-assessment software in determining bail and sentencing; the systems require the accused to answer more than a hundred questions which are fed into a secret model that spits out a single-digit "risk score" that courts use to decide who to lock up, and for how long. Read the rest

Lawsuit: Texas's largest jail is full of people who are locked up for being poor

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According the the filings in a lawsuit brought by Equal Justice Under Law against Harris County, Texas, 77% of the inmates in Harris County Jail -- largest in Texas, third largest in America -- are there because they couldn't make a bail payment of $5,000 or less. Read the rest

What the NSA's assault on whistleblowers taught Snowden

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Investigative journalist Mark Hertsgaard's new book Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden tells the story of modern intelligence community whistleblowing; in a fantastic longread excerpted from the book, he recounts how the US military's program of punishing whistleblowers, and the officials charged with protecting them, convinced Snowden that he should take a thumbdrive full of documents directly to the media.

Read the rest

Airbnb stealth-updates terms of service, says it's not an insurer and requires binding arbitration

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The March 29 edition of Airbnb's terms of service requires that people who rent out their homes acknowledge that despite the company's widely advertised Host Protection Insurance program, "you understand and agree that Airbnb does not act as an insurer." Read the rest

Oculus breaks promise, uses DRM to kill app that let you switch VR systems

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As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. Read the rest

Big Vitamin bankrolls naturopaths' attempts to go legit and get public money

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Backed by huge donations from vitamin companies, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is pushing to get naturopathic medicine recognized and regulated in all 50 US states, paving the way to receiving public funds in the form of Medicare reimbursements. Read the rest

FBI Director: viral videos make cops afraid to do their jobs

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FBI Director James Comey told reporters that "viral video effect" (which is his latest term for what used to be called the "Ferguson effect") is responsible for increased violent crime in some US cities, in that police are scared to do their jobs because they might end up on Youtube in an unflattering video. Read the rest

Telcoms companies try to rescue TV by imposing Internet usage caps on cord-cutters

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What do you do if you're a giant corporation devoted to selling people huge, $100/month bundles of TV channels they don't want anymore, but you also have a monopoly on selling high-speed Internet access, which they want very badly? Read the rest

Chinese state-backed corporations beat US lawsuits with sovereign immunity

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Sovereign immunity prevents one government from using its courts to attack another, but Chinese state-backed industries are taking it to new places, arguing that sovereign immunity means that the US courts have no jurisdiction over Chinese companies whose products are harmful or whose conduct is negligent -- and US courts are buying that argument. Read the rest

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