Friday, October 27, 2017

Immigration, the Drug War and Big Pharma: Where’s the Outrage?

Here are three stories that have been in the news recently. The corporate media have presented them as unrelated; nothing could be further from the truth .

An article in the New Yorker details how the Sackler family’s privately owned Purdue Pharma was a major force in creating the current opioid epidemic, thanks to deceptive marketing and a suspiciously cozy relation with the FDA. The multibillionaire family also played a role in promoting the overuse of Valium and Librium starting in the 1960s. Purdue has had to pay some fines and a few of its officers have been punished with brief probation periods, but these are slaps on the wrist considering the billions the Sacklers have raked in over the years. Until recently the family’s members have been best known for their philanthropic work.

While looking the other way as de facto drug cartels like the Sackler family operate freely here, the US government continues to spend billions of dollars on a decades-long “drug war” that has created chaos and caused tens of thousands of deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean. One example is an operation in Honduras five years ago that killed four civilians. Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration were involved, and the agency dishonestly and typically blamed the victims—including two pregnant women and a 14-year-old boy. A video obtained by the New York Times reveals the absurdity of the DEA’s claim.
Juana Jackson, right, a victim of the DEA's operation in Ahuas. Foto: dickemahonduras
Inevitably, thousands of people, including large numbers of children, try to flee here from the crime and violence the US government has created in their own countries. Many of the children have been incarcerated in detention centers and then shipped back home to face more drug-induced violence. This was the policy under the Obama administration, but it’s not good enough for the Trump regime. In September Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the kids are “wolves in sheep's clothing” who “prey upon our communities” and “decapitate individuals with machetes, baseball bats and chains.” In response to the supposed problem, the White House wants to make the asylum system even more difficult than it is currently.

What is the result of waging a “drug war” in other countries and tolerating drug pushing here by Big Pharma? A Times graph gives us a good idea: the US had less than 10,000 deaths from drug overdoses in 1980; in 2016 the number was more than 59,000.

We have to wonder how outraged the US population would be if the media explained the links between these stories. But if the media won’t do it, it’s up to activists to get out to the public and connect the dots.—TPOI editor

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain
The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts.

By Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker
October 30, 2017
The north wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a vast, airy enclosure featuring a banked wall of glass and the Temple of Dendur, a sandstone monument that was constructed beside the Nile two millennia ago and transported to the Met, brick by brick, as a gift from the Egyptian government. The space, which opened in 1978 and is known as the Sackler Wing, is also itself a monument, to one of America’s great philanthropic dynasties. The Brooklyn-born brothers Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler, all physicians, donated lavishly during their lifetimes to an astounding range of institutions, many of which today bear the family name: the Sackler Gallery, in Washington; the Sackler Museum, at Harvard; the Sackler Center for Arts Education, at the Guggenheim; the Sackler Wing at the Louvre; and Sackler institutes and facilities at Columbia, Oxford, and a dozen other universities.[...]

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D.E.A. Says Hondurans Opened Fire During a Drug Raid. A Video Suggests Otherwise.
“The D.E.A. convinced themselves of a false version of events due to arrogance, false assumptions, and ignorance,” said Tim Rieser, an aide to Senator Patrick J. Leahy.

By Mattathias Schwartz, New York Times
October 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration has for five years steadfastly defended the behavior of its agents in a late-night drug seizure carried out with Honduran forces on the remote Mosquito Coast, a mission that resulted in the deaths of four Honduran civilians.

In the D.E.A.’s view, the dead — one man, two women and a 14-year-old boy — were among those on a boat that shot at a canoe carrying a joint D.E.A.-Honduran antidrug team. The D.E.A. said it had evidence in the form of night-vision video taken from a surveillance plane showing an “exchange of gunfire” between the two vessels after the larger boat collided with the canoe carrying the agents.[...]

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Sessions: Many unaccompanied minors are 'wolves in sheep's clothing'

By Lauren Dezenski, Politico
September 21, 2017
BOSTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is warning that many unaccompanied minors trying to enter the U.S. across its southern border are gang members whom the country should view as “wolves in sheep's clothing.”

In a speech to local and national law enforcement this afternoon in Boston, Sessions said transnational gangs like Central America-based MS-13, use what’s known as the ‘unaccompanied refugee minors’ program to “as a means by which to recruit new members.”[...]

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