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Daily Reads: Pharma Honcho Arrested for Bribing Docs to Push Opioids; Russia Coverage Is a ‘Huge Media Fail’

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

David Corn: Russia Coverage Is a 'Huge Media Fail'

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Pusher-man –> John Kapoor, the billionaire who stepped down as Insys Therapeutics’ CEO in January, “was arrested on Thursday on US charges he participated in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a fentanyl-based cancer pain drug, marking a step by authorities to fight the opioid epidemic.” Nate Raymond has more details at Reuters.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump delivered a speech declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency yesterday. Alan Pyke writes at ThinkProgress that it “was long on performance and short on substance,” and the president’s “failure to invest new funding in the project and the vague promise that more policy specifics will be revealed in the coming weeks are symptomatic of Trump’s high-flash, low-focus approach to policymaking.”

New Gilded Age –> “The total wealth held by the world’s billionaires rose by 17 percent in 2016 to $6 trillion,” writes Newsweek’s Conor Gaffey, who notes that “the world’s richest people now control the highest concentration of wealth since the period known as the Gilded Age in the United States.” But everything isn’t rosy with this group: according to Gaffey, “the uber-rich are concerned that growing inequality could lead to society turning against them.”

A global crisis” –> Michelle Chen reports for The Nation that over 80 percent of those suffering from mental illness live in emerging economies, where “threadbare health-care systems” often struggle “to stay staffed with general-practice physicians, and mental-health clinicians are seen as a rare commodity.”

A huge media fail” –> David Corn, who first reported on Christopher Steele’s Trump dossier for Mother Jones last year, blasts the media for its coverage of the Trump-Russia story, writing, “[I]f we’re actually arguing over whether this is a true scandal — and not over what should be done in response and who should be held responsible — then Trump and Co. win. They win because that question muddies the picture.”

“Having apparently decided that defending the Trump campaign against charges of collusion with Russian cyberattacks is an impossible task,” writes Jonathan Chait at New York magazine, Republicans are now arguing “that the FBI and Robert Mueller are the real perpetrators of collusion with Russia.” He says the talking-point “is being quickly spread by Republican officeholders and conservative media.”

And we mentioned earlier this week that the Trump administration had missed an October 1 deadline to implement new sanctions against Russia. The White House finally sent Congress a list of proposed sanctions yesterday, but Robbie Gramer and Dan DeLuce report for Foreign Policy that “the State Department shuttered an office that oversees sanctions policy,” and “the role of coordinating US sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies now falls to just one mid-level official.”

And Twitter banned ads from the Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik “following its own investigations and the US intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government.” Dominic Rushe has more at The Guardian.

Wiped –> “A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed,” reports Frank Bajak for the Associated Press. The lawsuit, launched by a coalition of election integrity advocates, sought to force Georgia to replace its “antiquated and heavily criticized election technology.” According to Bajak, “the server in question, which served as a statewide staging location for key election-related data, made national headlines in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn’t fixed six months after he reported it to election authorities.” All of this is overseen by the Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who hopes to be elected governor next year.

Rehabilitation –> New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi profiles former Republican congressman and current congressional candidate Michael Grimm as he attempts “remake” his image after he was convicted for tax evasion. Grimm was also caught on tape threatening to kill a reporter over a story he didn’t like.

Now comes the hard part” –> “House Republicans barely passed their Senate counterparts’ budget blueprint Thursday afternoon in a squeaker, 216 to 212,” writes Jim Newell at Slate. But it was just a broad outline and “now they have to write and reveal a bill that stands to anger every person (human or corporate) who pays a dollar more as a result of those changes.”

Justin Miller reports for The American Prospect that “an obscure provision” in America-firster Donald Trump’s tax plan “would further encourage multinationals to shift profits to low (or no) tax havens.”

Congressional Republicans rebuffed Trump’s call for deep spending cuts, and appear willing to keep spending at current levels while they finance deep tax cuts through rising deficits. Michael Grunwald writes for Politico Magazine that after assailing the government’s “out of control” spending during the Obama years, “they’re reverting to their habits during the George W. Bush era, when Republicans oversaw a major spending spree on the military, homeland security and even prescription drug coverage.”

Chilling” –> In a Facebook post, former Democratic New Jersey General Assembly member Michael Panter wrote about how Fox News and alleged serial sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly “intimidated women,” including Panter’s former girlfriend, “into silence by threatening to ruin their lives.”

O’Reilly told Mediaite’s Colby Hall that he plans to sue Panter over the social media posting.

Speaking of threats –> Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), the legislator who criticised Trump’s demeanor during a phone call with the widow of a soldier killed in Niger “was not in Washington this week due to ongoing threats against her,” according to The Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty.

Forced patriotism –> Nick Roll reports for Inside Higher Education that College of the Ozarks president Jerry Davis “launched a new required course for freshmen — dubbed Patriotic Education and Fitness — to combat what he sees as rising anti-American [and] antipatriotic sentiments in American culture.” According to Roll, “the course includes physical- and military-oriented education components — such as map reading, rifle marksmanship, military organization and protocol regarding the American flag — as well as civics and government aspects.”

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

 


 

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