Corporate sponsorship of anti-abortion politicians

This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

In defending his anti-abortion bill, Oklahoma state rep George Faut reveals that he thinks rape and incest all part of God’s will. “The Lord uses all circumstances.”

THESE CORPORATIONS FUNDED CO-SPONSORS OF OHIO’S PROPOSED ABORTION BAN A number of health care companies and major corporations have made campaign contributions to two dozen Ohio state lawmakers who are co-sponsoring new legislation to ban abortion in the state. The list includes health care companies such as Pfizer, Anthem, Molina Healthcare and Merck. [HuffPost]

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN OKLAHOMA ABORTION PROVIDER Since Texas banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a doctor at Planned Parenthood’s Tulsa clinic has been working nonstop to accommodate the influx of Texans. “I worry a lot,” Dr. Joshua Yap said. “What if I get sick or if I become incapacitated? I can’t take a day off knowing that people are driving, sometimes eight to nine hours, to get to our clinic.” [HuffPost]

More COVID-19 spread by Tulsa Trump rally

This 23 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

‘Snowballing’ coronavirus cases in US states as hospitals fill

The rate of COVID-19 infections in the US has surged across southern and southwestern states.

New cases of the virus have spiked where bars restaurants and other businesses reopened early.

There are questions about whether restrictions have been lifted too soon.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports.

By Catherine Garcia in the USA, 22 June 2020:

2 Trump campaign staffers who went to Tulsa rally test positive for COVID-19

Two members of President Trump‘s campaign advance team who attended his rally Saturday night in Tulsa have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director, said on Monday the staffers “were wearing masks during the entire event. Upon the positive tests, the campaign immediately activated established quarantine and contract tracing protocols.” NBC News reports they were tested after the rally as a precaution before flying home.

Six other members of the advance team, including at least two Secret Service agents, tested positive before the rally, and did not attend. The crowd was much lower than expected, with 6,200 people in the audience; the arena is able to hold about 19,000. In order to receive a ticket, attendees had to agree not to hold the campaign liable if they caught coronavirus at the event.

Trump is expected to visit the Dream City Church in Phoenix [Arizona] on Tuesday for an event hosted by Students for Trump. In a video posted on YouTube Monday, the megachurch’s pastor and chief financial officer said that brand new clean-air technology has been installed inside the building that “kills 99.9 percent of COVID-19 within 10 minutes. So you can know when you come here you’ll be safe and protected.”

Pro-Trump preachers claim that COVID-19 ‘is just a little flu‘ and that religious right religion miraculously protects against the coronavirus. Yet, some of these preachers have already died from COVID-19.

Trump campaign employees get COVID-19

This 20 June 2020 video about Oklahoma in the USA says about itself:

Sheila Buck ARRESTED at Trump Tulsa Rally for Wearing I can’t Breathe Shirt

As reported on MSNBC earlier today, Sheila Buck was kicked out of Donald Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma rally because even though she had a ticket, she was wearing a “I can’t Breathe” t-shirt in honour of George Floyd and Eric Garner. This was a bad move by the Tulsa Police Department, and it shows that Donald Trump and his supporters are ones censoring political opponents and creating a safe space for special snowflakes.

From Business Insider today:

6 Trump campaign staffers tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Saturday rally, which experts have warned could be a superspreader event

Six staffers on the president’s re-election campaign tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Trump campaign confirmed to Business Insider.

Health experts have worried that the president’s rally will be a COVID-19 superspreading event. Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx reportedly expressed concerns last week over the safety of the large, in-person rally.

On Saturday, Tulsa County reported 136 new coronavirus cases – the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

Police brutality, Tulsa, USA to Paris, France

This 19 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

US Juneteenth holiday: Celebrations amid anti-racism protests

Across the United States, celebrations are planned this weekend to commemorate Juneteenth.

The unofficial holiday marks the end of slavery in the country.

This year’s celebrations come amid growing calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from New York.

Trump in Tulsa. If Donald Trump had set out to offend black America and send a coded signal to his racist supporters he could not have done a better job by holding his campaign rally at the site of the nation’s worts racist massacre, says PETER FROST.

More provocations, threats from Trump ahead of Tulsa rally. By Barry Grey, 20 June 2020. In the run-up to his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma Saturday evening, President Donald Trump is focusing his energies on issuing threats against counter-protesters and incitements to fascistic elements and police officers.

“How can dissent be illegal when that is how the country was started?” Oklahoma teachers oppose Trump and his Tulsa rally. By Phyllis Steele, 20 June 2020. Educators in Oklahoma, who waged a wildcat strike in 2018, are still ranked near the bottom in the US in pay and per-pupil funding.

This video from France says about itself:

LIVE: Protest against police brutality takes place in Paris

A rally against racial violence and police brutality takes place in Paris on Saturday, June 20, in memory of Lamine Dieng, who died in 2007 in police custody.

Similar protests have been held around the world since the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Global outrage over violent police arrest of 50-year-old French nurse Farida. By Will Morrow, 20 June 2020. The response of the French ruling class to healthcare workers’ demands for increased resources to combat the pandemic in decent and safe conditions is naked repression.

Farida C, a 50-year-old nurse, beaten and arrested by French riot police on Tuesday

Trump’s COVID-spreading rally, animated cartoon video

This 19 June 2020 animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:


With Donald Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally right around the corner, MAGAmmunity is on the way. Even though Tulsa’s top health official warned that the Trump rally could become a “superspreader” event, MAGA rallies are in the works for Oklahoma and elsewhere.

The Trump administration and campaign seem to be doing everything they can to pretend all is back to normal and we have nothing to worry about. (Except for that inconvenient little liability waiver when you sign up to attend a rally.) The president keeps using his bully pulpit to tout miracle cures and downplay the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. And let’s not forget how Trump encouraged armed anti-social distancing rebellion in Michigan and other states.

Trump’s message keeps spreading like a deadly virus — from unfounded “antifa” rumors that lead to violent confrontations with peaceful protesters to death threats against local public health officials. The president has been playing with fire since he decided to run for office, he has now spread smoldering embers across the country.

Police brutality in Donald Trump’s USA

This 15 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Distressing Video of Tulsa Police Violently Arresting Black Teen for Jaywalking | NowThis

In US news and current events today, Tulsa, Oklahoma police were filmed recently violently arresting a Black teenager for the mere crime of jaywalking.

As the Black Lives Matter protests, George Floyd protests, and Rayshard Brooks protests continue around the world, the horrors of police brutality, police violence, and police racism has become the most pressing issue of the day.

Amid calls to defund the police, abolish the police, and new laws of sweeping police reform, it’s hard to believe that, even with the eyes of the entire globe on them, police still continue to act violently and escalate situations, especially those involving people of color.

Crimes like sleeping in a Wendy’s drive-through and jaywalking don’t appear to require such a forceful response, yet police continue to assault and attack people wantonly.

Tulsa, as the site of the infamous Black Wall Street massacre, has been in the spotlight as the site of an upcoming President Donald Trump rally, but before President Trump even steps foot in the state, it’s clear that Tulsa has deep systemic problems it needs to address.

It looks as if, even before Trump arrives in Tulsa for one of his speeches inciting racist violence, police intimidates people to discourage protests against Trump in Tulsa.

This 15 June 2020 animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

Defunding Everything But the Police

Amid calls to “defund the police,” Donald Trump and most on the right have come out decidedly against transferring funds from law enforcement to social programs. They’re apparently fine with defunding everything else, though.

Education, environmental regulation and financial policing are just fine to defund of course. Something tells me that if people over at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or scientists at the EPA started wearing tactical gear and brutalizing people once in a while, Trump might become a fan.

Mark Fiore is not 100% right that Trump defunds everything but the police. The Pentagon budget for waging wars all over the world has never been as big as now.

Today, there was a demonstration against police racism in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. On Friday 19 June, there will be a demonstration in Zutphen town in the Netherlands. 16 local girls, 16-20 years of age, have organised it.

‘Big Pharma Johnson & Johnson guilty of opioid deaths’

This 19 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

For decades, Johnson and Johnson knew that their baby powder contained carcinogens like asbestos and didn’t warn the public, pull their product or take action to save the lives of their customers.

Instead they let people suffer and in some cases die of preventable diseases while they made money.

If a person did this they would be facing life in prison if not the death penalty, so why should a corporation get away with it?

Should corporations face the death penalty for the kind of malicious neglect Johnson and Johnson are guilty of?

By Benjamin Mateus in the USA:

Oklahoma judge finds Johnson & Johnson guilty in opioid epidemic

27 August 2019

In the first full-scale trial of an opioid manufacturer, Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court of Oklahoma ordered the giant pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis which has killed more Americans than died in World War II.

The company was found culpable for pushing doctors through “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” to prescribe opioid-based pain killers while downplaying the addictive risks associated with them, the judge wrote. Overprescription “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and other dire health consequences.

Though there was widespread media praise for the ruling as a landmark event, it is far short of the $17 billion that Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter had urged the judge to order Johnson & Johnson to pay. Balkman’s verdict provides the state only a year’s worth of the estimated costs that would be required to treat those addicted and establish long-term prevention programs.

The financial markets took the verdict in stride. In after-hours trading, Johnson & Johnson’s stock price jumped from $127.78 to $133.61. Many investors had anticipated a judgment of over $1 billion.

Earlier this year Oklahoma settled with two other giant pharmaceuticals also embroiled in the opioid crisis: Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of oxycodone, agreed to pay $270 million, and Teva Pharmaceuticals $85 million.

These cases have been closely monitored by some two dozen opioid makers that are facing more than 2,000 lawsuits throughout the country. Over 500 of these have been filed just against Johnson & Johnson, which supplied 60 percent of the ingredients used by pharmaceutical companies, including its own subsidiary Jantzen, to manufacture opioids.

Johnson & Johnson is a US-based multinational corporation that develops medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods with revenues in 2018 at $81.58 billion. It has total assets worth close to $153 billion, ranked 37 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. For a company that size, the Oklahoma penalty is little more than a slap on the wrist, although it would become more than that if replicated in the other 49 states.

So far, despite more than 400,000 deaths and the devastation of entire regions of the country, not one executive linked to the opioid crisis has faced criminal charges, let alone been sent to prison, for their utterly negligent behavior in pursuit of profits.

The Oklahoma Opioid Trial Decision Against Johnson & Johnson notes these facts, among others:

    • From 1994 to 2006, prescription opioid sales in the state increased fourfold.
    • From 2011-2015, more than 2,100 Oklahomans died from unintentional overdoses of prescription opioid.
    • In 2015, over 326 million opioid pills were dispensed to Oklahoma residents, enough for every adult to have 110 pills.
    • Oklahoma dispenses the most prescriptions per capita of fentanyl, an opioid far more powerful than heroin.
    • In 2017, 4.2 percent of babies born covered by SoonerCare were born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (This is a condition when a baby withdraws from certain drugs it is exposed to in the womb before birth.)

Prior to the mid-1990s opioid abuse was confined to relatively small numbers of people. But by 2017, opioids have been responsible for 47,600 of the 70,200 drug overdoses reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Presently, the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50 relates to drug overdose. This has caused life expectancy in the United States to decline.

The opioid epidemic is now becoming a global phenomenon. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 27 million people suffered from opioid use disorder in 2016. Roughly 450,000 people have died with overdose deaths, accounting to nearly half of all drug-related deaths.

Additional information obtained from the trial notes that from 2000 to 2011, Johnson & Johnson’s sales representatives made more than 150,000 visits to Oklahoma physicians known for being high-volume prescribers.

Johnson & Johnson’s opioid drugs originate in Tasmania. The small island south of mainland Australia has emerged as the world’s leading supplier of opioids. In 1994, chemists made adjustments that allowed Tasmanian poppy plants to produce a higher yield of thebaine, a precursor drug for making oxycodone.

The agreements on the flow of powerful and illicit drugs like heroin did not apply to thebaine. This lack of regulatory control was a “necessary precondition for the explosive growth of opioid production and oversupply in the last 25 years,” according to one expert.

Johnson & Johnson attorneys have set their sights on appellate courts. According to the New York Times, “Indeed whether Judge Balkman’s verdict will survive scrutiny is uncertain: State and possibly federal appeals judges may take a skeptical view on the state’s legal theory and the extent of the company’s liability.”

As the WSWS has recently written, “there is no doubt that the top drug manufacturers and distributors are guilty a thousand times over for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.” But the complicity of the political establishment has accounted for the paltry settlements and legal inertia that prevents any serious consequences for these criminal activities.

Only the mobilization of the international working class to put an end to the profit system and place the pharmaceutical industry on socialist foundations—producing what is needed for human welfare, not corporate profit—can resolve the crisis which has taken such a devastating toll in impoverished working-class areas.

Wall Street celebrated the real victor, Johnson & Johnson, in after-hours trading on the stock market. The company’s stock price surged more than four percent in response to the ruling. Shares of other drug makers also surged, including Mallinckrodt, Teva Pharmaceutical and Endo International, three of the largest drug makers in the world, all implicated in the opioid epidemic. The toothless ruling follows a well-worn pattern in which giant corporations, after committing horrific social crimes, get off with a relatively small fine: here.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON SETTLES WITH OHIO COUNTIES Johnson & Johnson said it will pay $20.4 million to settle claims by two Ohio counties in a lawsuit that accused the drugmaker of contributing to the U.S. opioid addiction epidemic. [Reuters]

Major distributors and manufacturers of opioids avert trial by reaching $260 million wrist-slap settlement in Ohio: here.

SACKLERS IN MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR SETTLEMENT TALKS State attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments are in active settlement negotiations with the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin that is facing billions of dollars in potential liability for its role in the nation’s opioid crisis. [AP]

PURDUE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy protection Sunday night, succumbing to pressure from more than 2,600 lawsuits alleging the company helped fuel the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic. [Reuters]

Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday. The move is part of an effort to settle litigation with dozens of states and other plaintiffs who charge the company deliberately fueled the opioid crisis while pocketing tens of billions of dollars: here.

An annual report by the Pennington Institute, released in August, revealed that the number of drug overdose deaths in Australia has increased by 28 percent in a decade, while the number of accidental drug overdose deaths rose by nearly 40 percent: here.

MELANIA TRUMP THUNDEROUSLY BOOED AT YOUTH OPIOID AWARENESS EVENT Loud boos greeted first lady Melania Trump as she took the stage at a youth opioid awareness event held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The audience of mostly middle and high school students reportedly booed Trump for about a minute before loudly talking over the first part of her speech. “I cannot recall another event where she was more negatively received,” CNN’s Kate Bennett reported from the event. [HuffPost]

Dogs that are smaller, younger, non-neutered, or live in U.S. counties with high opioid prescription rates are at higher risk of being the subjects of phone calls about accidental opioid poisoning to a poison control center. Mohammad Howard-Azzeh and colleagues at the University of Guelph, Ontario, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on January 29, 2020: here.

Opioid-related deaths in Columbus, Ohio area up 45 percent from last year: here.

Oklahoma, other United States teachers fight for their rights

This video from the USA says about itself:

Oklahoma teachers and students speak out

Students and teachers speak on the impossible financial situation facing Oklahoma teachers, and the effect of budget cuts on the arts.

Kentucky teachers denounce [Republican party] governor for saying students were “sexually assaulted” due to walkout: here.

State Republicans in Oklahoma are preparing to introduce a series of bills on February 4 that would punish teachers for striking, participating in political activities and exercising their freedom of speech. The bills are designed to intimidate teachers who are once again considering strike action to win significant improvements in pay and school funding: here.

THE KENTUCKY GOVERNOR HAS APOLOGIZED After saying Friday’s teacher strikes in the state would result in a child being sexually assaulted or ingesting poison. [HuffPost]

United States teachers fighting for their rights

This video from the USA says about itself:

Oklahoma teacher explains why the strike should continue

“In Oklahoma and all across the nation educators are rising up and saying that we’ve had enough.”

Big Oil’s earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA

This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Over the past six years, earthquakes in Oklahoma have skyrocketed – from less than a handful of 3.0 earthquakes before 2009 to well over 900 last year. The likely culprit: salty wastewater that bubbles up during oil and gas drilling. The rash of quakes has led to tough questions for the energy industry that provides one in five jobs in the state and comprises nearly a third of Oklahoma’s economy.

Big Oil is not only causing earthquakes in Groningen province in the Netherlands.

From the University of Bristol in England:

Oklahoma’s earthquakes strongly linked to wastewater injection depth

February 1, 2018

Human-made earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA, are strongly linked to the depth at which wastewater from the oil and gas industry are injected into the ground, according to a new study led by the University of Bristol.

Oklahoma has been a seismic hotspot for the past decade, with the number of damaging earthquakes — including the magnitude 5.8 Pawnee earthquake in 2016 — regularly impacting on the lives of residents, leading to litigation against well operators.

The human-made, or induced, earthquakes pose an increased risk to critical infrastructure such as a major commercial oil storage facility at Cushing, making them a national security threat.

The connection between ‘seismicity’ — the frequency of earthquakes — and deep fluid injection into underground rock formations is well established, but scientists, policymakers, and the oil and gas industry have been bewildered by the unprecedented surge in earthquake activity. At its peak, there has been an approximately 800-fold increase in the annual number of earthquakes in Oklahoma since 2011.

Oklahoma’s well operators have injected on average 2.3 billion barrels of fluids per year into the ground since 2011. Wastewater is routinely disposed of typically at depths one to two km below the ground surface, well below the level of fresh ground water supplies. Also, saltwater is injected deep underground to enable recovery of oil and gas.

Now a major study by the University of Bristol and involving the University of Southampton, Delft University of Technology and Resources for the Future, published today in the journal Science, shows conclusively that Oklahoma’s seismicity is strongly linked to fluid injection depth.

Lead author of the study, Dr Thea Hincks, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “Our new modelling framework provides a targeted, evidential basis for managing a substantial reduction in induced seismicity in Oklahoma, with extensive possibilities for application elsewhere in the world. This marks a step forward in understanding the evolution of seismicity in the Oklahoma region.”

Using a powerful computer model incorporating injection well records and earthquake data from the US Geological Survey, the team examined the connections between injection volume, depth, and location, as well as geological features, over a six-year period.

The study used innovative new software, Uninet, which was developed by co-author Professor Roger Cooke’s group at Delft University of Technology and is freely available for academic users from LightTwist Software. Uninet has previously been used to develop causal risk models for the aviation industry.

The team found that the joint effects of depth and volume are critical, and that injection volume becomes more influential — and more likely to cause earthquakes — at depths where layered sedimentary rocks meet crystalline basement rocks. This is because deeper wells allow easier access for fluids into fractured basement rocks that are much more prone to earthquakes.

Dr Tom Gernon, Associate Professor in Earth Science at the University of Southampton, and co-author on the study, said: “The underlying causes of Oklahoma’s induced earthquakes are an open and complex issue, not least because there are over 10,000 injection wells, with many different operators and operating characteristics, all in an area of complex geology.

“Thanks to an innovative model capable of analysing large and complex data sets, our study establishes for the first time a clear link between seismicity and fluid injection depth.”

The study also shows how raising injection well depths to above the basement rocks in key areas could significantly reduce the annual energy released by earthquakes — thereby reducing the relative likelihoods of larger, damaging earthquakes. Current regulatory interventions include requiring operators to either reduce injection or raise wells above the basement, often by an unspecified amount.

Professor Willy Aspinall, of the University of Bristol and Aspinall & Associates, who conceived the study, added: “This new diagnostic finding has potential implications for scientists, regulators and civil authorities concerned about induced seismicity, both in the US and internationally. The research addresses a growing need for a broader understanding of how operational, spatial and geologic parameters combine to influence induced seismic risk.

“Our analysis allows regulatory actions to be evaluated on a rational, quantitative basis in terms of seismic effects.”

Thea Hincks and Willy Aspinall were supported in part by the CREDIBLE consortium (NERC Grant NE/J017299/1).