city:boston

  • FYI France: Tom Paine!

    Une lecture critique du livre «Révolution Paine» (C&F éditions) par Jack Kessler depuis San Francisco.

    A new book which can remind us all, again, of what France and the US have in-common... at a good time for remembering all this, on both similarly-beleaguered sides of The Pond right now...

    Révolution Paine: Thomas Paine penseur et défenseur des droits humains, by Thomas Paine, Peter Linebaugh (pref.), Nicolas Taffin (dir.),

    (C&F éditions, 35 C rue des Rosiers, 14000 Caen, t. 02.31.23.39.48, fx. 01.40.09.72.67, cfedtions@cfeditions.com; août 2018) ISBN: 978-2-915825-85-5

    Tom Paine was British, it must be remembered — but then so were we all, back then, in revolutionary “America”, citizens of an empire which spanned the globe until very recently, our “shots heard round the world” the first of many which ultimately would bring that empire and others to heel and create new ways of thinking about government for the modern world.

    In all that mælstrom we very much needed ideas, and cheerleaders, for encouraging and inspiring ourselves and our fellow citizens, and Tom Paine was that. Whatever his opponents and most severe critics — and there were many — thought of him, and even friends and fans worried about him, but he was encouraging and inspiring, and for careful and conservative American “colonists” like the wealthy plantation-owner George Washington and the gentleman-printer Benjamin Franklin and the Boston lawyer John Adams, Paine’s encouragement and inspiration were enough, and at times they were very badly needed in fact.

    And the French were there for us, very different but close in spirit to the Americans, and always needed, for their spirit & their money & their guns & for many other resources and reasons — at the very least they were enemies of our enemies and so our friends, on whom we could rely for insight, breadth of vision, even occasionally at their own ruinous expense...

    France entertained Paine the rebellious Brit after the excitements of the British colonies had hosted him for a long while — in both places his own exciting language and the clarity of his vision helped citizens greatly, in the great troubles of their times — so now a glimpse of Tom Paine may help again, both to see our current troubles more clearly too, and to remember what we and the French share in-common in all this. When things change, for the US and France, neither of us is ever alone.

    https://cfeditions.com/paine

    The book is a “reader” — not a compendium, but a comfortable and thoughtful armchair-piece to browse-through and then keep handy, as headline-events of current troubled-times pour in, descending upon us daily.

    First comes a preface — avant-propos — by Nicolas Taffin, outlining why and how the idea for the book occurred to him: 2018 saw the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he says, and still we face troubles that first were defined for us by events of 1789 — after such a long time the birthday-celebration required a renewal of the effort, he thought, and who better than Tom Paine who first inspired it, in both the US and France, and the “Human Rights” and “Commons” forms in which the ideas were first presented.

    Then comes an elegant introduction to Paine and his works by historian Peter Linebaugh, translated from l’américain...

    It is a useful thing, to know Paine’s history, as he landed somewhat un-announced upon the Americans with his outrageous views and funny accent (?) and stunning phrasings. That he had a tradition, and a context, back home in also-turbulent England, only makes sense — and that early-on England experimented with many of the ideas the colonists were confronting later in their own contests with the Crown, deserves recalling, many of the same conflicts were heard before in early Industrial Revolution England, as workers and owners confronted one another, and governments moved to tax and otherwise control the new techniques.

    Paine and his East Anglia neighbors had rehearsed many of the confrontations he was to witness and comment upon in his sojourns in the American colonies — the issues were similar, new techniques & how to cope with change & the sharing of burdens and benefits & working conditions & and of course taxes... not exactly “taxation without representation”, there at-home in England, but taxation all-the-same...

    Whether Paine was a Che Guevara, as Linebaugh I-hope-playfully suggests, whether the Introduction successfully demonstrates that Americans of that time, “ambitiously risked class warfare on a global scale”, well, other readers will have to read and judge... Linebaugh, described by Wikipedia as a “Marxist historian”, does weave through initial attributions of Paine’s ideas to his having been, “conscious of classes, sensible to differences in power and wealth” — he describes Paine’s concerns for “Agrarian Justice” as involving “class injustice”.

    It matters that Paine’s life in mid-18th c. England greatly preceded the writings of Marx a century later; but also of course there may have been historical connections, workers’ lives a century earlier were very much what the historicist Marx was interested in and wrote about. Linebaugh carefully outlines that Paine, “lived at the time of an industrial revolution, of commercial expansion & urbanization & population increase” — he grants that Paine’s views did not fall cleanly into any contest between “communism and capitalism”, terms which, apparently per Edmund Burke, were, “still cartilaginous, not yet well defined or formed”.

    But Paine had a good sense for “the commons”, he insists, “and of its long presence in English history”, a matter which he says has not been well considered in previous studies of Paine. “A long anti-capitalist tradition in England”, Linebaugh believes he’s found, through Tom Paine, “one which contributes to our understanding about current notions of ‘revolution’ and ‘constitution’ in modern Britain” — for this suggestion alone, Linebaugh’s Introduction makes for some very interesting reading.

    Beyond this Introduction there are excerpts, then, from Paine’s own “Rights of Man” — fascinating, the differences, between one culture’s “emotive” language and another’s — French easily is the equal of English in this regard...

    And finally a fascinating Post-Script by editor Nicolas Taffin: he takes “Tom Paine of Thetford” several significant steps further than the little local American Revolution — several steps further, even, than the nascent Class Warfare of the Levellers and workers’-revolts of East Anglia which maybe-led to the Marxian revolutions of the 19th century — Taffin going-further finds, in Paine, the freeing of the human imagination, from the illusory securities and comforts and oppressions of the previous era’s religion-controlled philosophies, the emergence of the Enlightenment’s idealisms into a modern world of “real” rights and responsibilities and true-freedom, governed by reason alone...

    Paine may have had a glimmer. The American Founders who fought our little revolution here certainly had some glimpse as well... Certainly the young Virginia lawyer who boldly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident” and then chafed as the elders to whom he submitted that draft picked it apart... Jefferson had read much of what the young Paine had read as well — in 1776, when arguably they both were at their most-inspired, Jefferson was age 33, Tom Paine was age 37 — as Wordsworth observed of youth in a slightly-later revolution, “Bliss was it in that Dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven”.

    But the true significance of what they all were doing did not emerge until much, much later... as late as the 1820s the two then very elderly American patriots Jefferson and Adams, both preparing for death and fondly reminiscing in their dotage-correspondance, could recall what they had done for the little United States, and for Britain, but only the more daring Jefferson seriously considered what they may have done ‘way back then to, “free the human spirit in general”...

    Taffin gives Paine the greater credit. Well, history has benefit of hindsight... Whether Paine himself, or truly his contemporaries, really understood what he was accomplishing with his amazing writings, back then, seems questionable. There are crackpots writing this sort of thing about The Future today — just as there were in East Anglia long before Paine’s birth there, which later he read, a few of them, in the Old School at Thetford — so qua-dreamer Paine’s contribution may well have been fortuitous, simply a matter of good timing... The poet appears to have felt this about his own contribution to the French Revolution, and others have suggested Paine contributed little there too...

    But ideas have lives of their own, and History has control of this. Taffin doubtless is correct that if we are “free” today — universally — then some part of that is due to the writings of Tom Paine, almost regardless of how exactly that happened and what agencies promoted it and why, Marxist or Liberal or French, English, American, or other... Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh both are said to have read Tom Paine, I expect Steve Bannon has as well, and Marion (Le Pen) Maréchal (age 29) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (age 29) are reading Paine now...

    So the mystery of origins and influences continues, but so do the ideas. Read Taffin’s fascinating rendition here of Tom Paine’s context and continuing influence, and see what you yourself think... it is what many of us are worrying about in both the US and France, now, & that particular “common-concern” coincidence has made vast historical waves before...

    —oOo—

    And now a Note:

    Tom Paine in epigrams, 1737-1809: & now I understand better why Ben Franklin must have enjoyed his company so much... —

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine

    “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

    “I love the man that can smile in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”

    “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

    “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

    “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

    “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

    “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

    “’Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

    “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

    “Reason obeys itself, and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

    “Moderation in temper is a virtue, but moderation in principle is a vice.”

    “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”

    “The most formidable weapon against errors is reason.”

    — and the following three Tom Paine épigrammes seem of particular relevance to our present Franco & américain mutual Times-of-Troubles —

    “Character is much easier kept than recovered.”

    “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

    “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

    Jack Kessler
    kessler@well.com
    fyifrance.com

    #Révolution_Paine #C&F_éditions #Peter_Linebaugh #Droits_humains


  • Pan Am Flight 103 : Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/robert-muellers-search-for-justice-for-pan-am-103

    Cet article décrit le rôle de Robert Mueller dans l’enquête historique qui a permis de dissimuler ou de justifier la plupart des batailles de la guerre non déclarée des États Unis contre l’OLP et les pays arabes qui soutenaient la lutte pour un état palestinien.

    Aux États-Unis, en Allemagne et en France le grand public ignore les actes de guerre commis par les États Unis dans cette guerre. Vu dans ce contexte on ne peut que classer le récit de cet article dans la catégorie idéologie et propagande même si les intentions et faits qu’on y apprend sont bien documentés et plausibles.

    Cette perspective transforme le contenu de cet article d’une variation sur un thème connu dans un reportage sur l’état d’âme des dirigeants étatsuniens moins fanatiques que l’équipe du président actuel.

    THIRTY YEARS AGO last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack.

    TEN YEARS AGO last Friday, then FBI director Robert Mueller bundled himself in his tan trench coat against the cold December air in Washington, his scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. Sitting on a small stage at Arlington National Cemetery, he scanned the faces arrayed before him—the victims he’d come to know over years, relatives and friends of husbands and wives who would never grow old, college students who would never graduate, business travelers and flight attendants who would never come home.

    Burned into Mueller’s memory were the small items those victims had left behind, items that he’d seen on the shelves of a small wooden warehouse outside Lockerbie, Scotland, a visit he would never forget: A teenager’s single white sneaker, an unworn Syracuse University sweatshirt, the wrapped Christmas gifts that would never be opened, a lonely teddy bear.

    A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director, and that awoke the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.

    It had taught him the complexity of responding to international terror attacks, how unprepared the government was to respond to the needs of victims’ families, and how on the global stage justice would always be intertwined with geopolitics. In the intervening years, he had never lost sight of the Lockerbie bombing—known to the FBI by the codename Scotbom—and he had watched the orphaned children from the bombing grow up over the years.

    Nearby in the cemetery stood a memorial cairn made of pink sandstone—a single brick representing each of the victims, the stone mined from a Scottish quarry that the doomed flight passed over just seconds before the bomb ripped its baggage hold apart. The crowd that day had gathered near the cairn in the cold to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

    For a man with an affinity for speaking in prose, not poetry, a man whose staff was accustomed to orders given in crisp sentences as if they were Marines on the battlefield or under cross-examination from a prosecutor in a courtroom, Mueller’s remarks that day soared in a way unlike almost any other speech he’d deliver.

    “There are those who say that time heals all wounds. But you know that not to be true. At its best, time may dull the deepest wounds; it cannot make them disappear,” Mueller told the assembled mourners. “Yet out of the darkness of this day comes a ray of light. The light of unity, of friendship, and of comfort from those who once were strangers and who are now bonded together by a terrible moment in time. The light of shared memories that bring smiles instead of sadness. And the light of hope for better days to come.”

    He talked of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and of inspiration drawn from Lockerbie’s town crest, with its simple motto, “Forward.” He spoke of what was then a two-decade-long quest for justice, of how on windswept Scottish mores and frigid lochs a generation of FBI agents, investigators, and prosecutors had redoubled their dedication to fighting terrorism.

    Mueller closed with a promise: “Today, as we stand here together on this, the darkest of days, we renew that bond. We remember the light these individuals brought to each of you here today. We renew our efforts to bring justice down on those who seek to harm us. We renew our efforts to keep our people safe, and to rid the world of terrorism. We will continue to move forward. But we will never forget.”

    Hand bells tolled for each of the victims as their names were read aloud, 270 names, 270 sets of bells.

    The investigation, though, was not yet closed. Mueller, although he didn’t know it then, wasn’t done with Pan Am 103. Just months after that speech, the case would test his innate sense of justice and morality in a way that few other cases in his career ever have.

    ROBERT S. MUELLER III had returned from a combat tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s and eventually headed to law school at the University of Virginia, part of a path that he hoped would lead him to being an FBI agent. Unable after graduation to get a job in government, he entered private practice in San Francisco, where he found he loved being a lawyer—just not a defense attorney.

    Then—as his wife Ann, a teacher, recounted to me years ago—one morning at their small home, while the two of them made the bed, Mueller complained, “Don’t I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy?” He finally landed a job as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco and stood, for the first time, in court and announced, “Good morning your Honor, I am Robert Mueller appearing on behalf of the United States of America.” It is a moment that young prosecutors often practice beforehand, and for Mueller those words carried enormous weight. He had found the thing that made him happy.

    His family remembers that time in San Francisco as some of their happiest years; the Muellers’ two daughters were young, they loved the Bay Area—and have returned there on annual vacations almost every year since relocating to the East Coast—and Mueller found himself at home as a prosecutor.

    On Friday nights, their routine was that Ann and the two girls would pick Mueller up at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, the city’s oldest Irish pub, not far from the Ferry Building in the Financial District, where he hung out each week with a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, cops, and agents. (One Christmas, his daughter Cynthia gave him a model of the bar made out of Popsicle sticks.) He balanced that family time against weekends and trainings with the Marines Corps Reserves, where he served for more than a decade, until 1980, eventually rising to be a captain.

    Over the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks of the San Francisco US attorney’s office—an office he would return to lead during the Clinton administration—and then decamped to Massachusetts to work for US attorney William Weld in the 1980s. There, too, he shined and eventually became acting US attorney when Weld departed at the end of the Reagan administration. “You cannot get the words straight arrow out of your head,” Weld told me, speaking of Mueller a decade ago. “The agencies loved him because he knew his stuff. He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy, he just put the cards on the table.”

    In 1989, an old high school classmate, Robert Ross, who was chief of staff to then attorney general Richard Thornburgh, asked Mueller to come down to Washington to help advise Thornburgh. The offer intrigued Mueller. Ann protested the move—their younger daughter Melissa wanted to finish high school in Massachusetts. Ann told her husband, “We can’t possibly do this.” He replied, his eyes twinkling, “You’re right, it’s a terrible time. Well, why don’t we just go down and look at a few houses?” As she told me, “When he wants to do something, he just revisits it again and again.”

    For his first two years at so-called Main Justice in Washington, working under President George H.W. Bush, the family commuted back and forth from Boston to Washington, alternating weekends in each city, to allow Melissa to finish school.

    Washington gave Mueller his first exposure to national politics and cases with geopolitical implications; in September 1990, President Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s entire criminal division, which at that time handled all the nation’s terrorism cases as well. Mueller would oversee the prosecution of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, mob boss John Gotti, and the controversial investigation into a vast money laundering scheme run through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals

    None of his cases in Washington, though, would affect him as much as the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    THE TIME ON the clocks in Lockerbie, Scotland, read 7:04 pm, on December 21, 1988, when the first emergency call came into the local fire brigade, reporting what sounded like a massive boiler explosion. It was technically early evening, but it had been dark for hours already; that far north, on the shortest day of the year, daylight barely stretched to eight hours.

    Soon it became clear something much worse than a boiler explosion had unfolded: Fiery debris pounded the landscape, plunging from the sky and killing 11 Lockerbie residents. As Mike Carnahan told a local TV reporter, “The whole sky was lit up with flames. It was actually raining, liquid fire. You could see several houses on the skyline with the roofs totally off and all you could see was flaming timbers.”

    At 8:45 pm, a farmer found in his field the cockpit of Pan Am 103, a Boeing 747 known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, lying on its side, 15 of its crew dead inside, just some of the 259 passengers and crew killed when a bomb had exploded inside the plane’s cargo hold. The scheduled London to New York flight never even made it out of the UK.

    It had taken just three seconds for the plane to disintegrate in the air, though the wreckage took three long minutes to fall the five miles from the sky to the earth; court testimony later would examine how passengers had still been alive as they fell. Nearly 200 of the passengers were American, including 35 students from Syracuse University returning home from a semester abroad. The attack horrified America, which until then had seen terror touch its shores only occasionally as a hijacking went awry; while the US had weathered the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, attacks almost never targeted civilians.

    The Pan Am 103 bombing seemed squarely aimed at the US, hitting one of its most iconic brands. Pan Am then represented America’s global reach in a way few companies did; the world’s most powerful airline shuttled 19 million passengers a year to more than 160 countries and had ferried the Beatles to their US tour and James Bond around the globe on his cinematic missions. In a moment of hubris a generation before Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the airline had even opened a “waiting list” for the first tourists to travel to outer space. Its New York headquarters, the Pan Am building, was the world’s largest commercial building and its terminal at JFK Airport the biggest in the world.

    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 began immediately, as police and investigators streamed north from London by the hundreds; chief constable John Boyd, the head of the local police, arrived at the Lockerbie police station by 8:15 pm, and within an hour the first victim had been brought in: A farmer arrived in town with the body of a baby girl who had fallen from the sky. He’d carefully placed her in the front seat of his pickup truck.

    An FBI agent posted in London had raced north too, with the US ambassador, aboard a special US Air Force flight, and at 2 am, when Boyd convened his first senior leadership meeting, he announced, “The FBI is here, and they are fully operational.” By that point, FBI explosives experts were already en route to Scotland aboard an FAA plane; agents would install special secure communications equipment in Lockerbie and remain on site for months.

    Although it quickly became clear that a bomb had targeted Pan Am 103—wreckage showed signs of an explosion and tested positive for PETN and RDX, two key ingredients of the explosive Semtex—the investigation proceeded with frustrating slowness. Pan Am’s records were incomplete, and it took days to even determine the full list of passengers. At the same time, it was the largest crime scene ever investigated—a fact that remains true today.

    Investigators walked 845 square miles, an area 12 times the size of Washington, DC, and searched so thoroughly that they recovered more than 70 packages of airline crackers and ultimately could reconstruct about 85 percent of the fuselage. (Today, the wreckage remains in an English scrapyard.) Constable Boyd, at his first press conference, told the media, “This is a mammoth inquiry.”

    On Christmas Eve, a searcher found a piece of a luggage pallet with signs of obvious scorching, which would indicate the bomb had been in the luggage compartment below the passenger cabin. The evidence was rushed to a special British military lab—one originally created to investigate the Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605.

    When the explosive tests came back a day later, the British government called the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for combating terrorism, L. Paul Bremer III (who would go on to be President George W. Bush’s viceroy in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and officially delivered the news that everyone had anticipated: Pan Am 103 had been downed by a bomb.

    Meanwhile, FBI agents fanned out across the country. In New York, special agent Neil Herman—who would later lead the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York in the run up to 9/11—was tasked with interviewing some of the victims’ families; many of the Syracuse students on board had been from the New York region. One of the mothers he interviewed hadn’t heard from the government in the 10 days since the attack. “It really struck me how ill-equipped we were to deal with this,” Herman told me, years later. “Multiply her by 270 victims and families.” The bombing underscored that the FBI and the US government had a lot to learn in responding and aiding victims in a terror attack.

    INVESTIGATORS MOVED TOWARD piecing together how a bomb could have been placed on board; years before the 9/11 attack, they discounted the idea of a suicide bomber aboard—there had never been a suicide attack on civil aviation at that point—and so focused on one of two theories: The possibility of a “mule,” an innocent passenger duped into carrying a bomb aboard, or an “inside man,” a trusted airport or airline employee who had smuggled the fatal cargo aboard. The initial suspect list stretched to 1,200 names.

    Yet even reconstructing what was on board took an eternity: Evidence pointed to a Japanese manufactured Toshiba cassette recorder as the likely delivery device for the bomb, and then, by the end of January, investigators located pieces of the suitcase that had held the bomb. After determining that it was a Samsonite bag, police and the FBI flew to the company’s headquarters in the United States and narrowed the search further: The bag, they found, was a System 4 Silhouette 4000 model, color “antique-copper,” a case and color made for only three years, 1985 to 1988, and sold only in the Middle East. There were a total of 3,500 such suitcases in circulation.

    By late spring, investigators had identified 14 pieces of luggage inside the target cargo container, known as AVE4041; each bore tell-tale signs of the explosion. Through careful retracing of how luggage moved through the London airport, investigators determined that the bags on the container’s bottom row came from passengers transferring in London. The bags on the second and third row of AVE4041 had been the last bags loaded onto the leg of the flight that began in Frankfurt, before the plane took off for London. None of the baggage had been X-rayed or matched with passengers on board.

    The British lab traced clothing fragments from the wreckage that bore signs of the explosion and thus likely originated in the bomb-carrying suitcase. It was an odd mix: Two herring-bone skirts, men’s pajamas, tartan trousers, and so on. The most promising fragment was a blue infant’s onesie that, after fiber analysis, was conclusively determined to have been inside the explosive case, and had a label saying “Malta Trading Company.” In March, two detectives took off for Malta, where the manufacturer told them that 500 such articles of clothing had been made and most sent to Ireland, while the rest went locally to Maltese outlets and others to continental Europe.

    As they dug deeper, they focused on bag B8849, which appeared to have come off Air Malta Flight 180—Malta to Frankfurt—on December 21, even though there was no record of one of that flight’s 47 passengers transferring to Pan Am 103.

    Investigators located the store in Malta where the suspect clothing had been sold; the British inspector later recorded in his statement, “[Store owner] Anthony Gauci interjected and stated that he could recall selling a pair of the checked trousers, size 34, and three pairs of the pajamas to a male person.” The investigators snapped to attention—after nine months did they finally have a suspect in their sights? “[Gauci] informed me that the man had also purchased the following items: one imitation Harris Tweed jacket; one woolen cardigan; one black umbrella; one blue colored ‘Baby Gro’ with a motif described by the witness as a ‘sheep’s face’ on the front; and one pair of gents’ brown herring-bone material trousers, size 36.”

    Game, set, match. Gauci had perfectly described the clothing fragments found by RARDE technicians to contain traces of explosive. The purchase, Gauci went on to explain, stood out in his mind because the customer—whom Gauci tellingly identified as speaking the “Libyan language”—had entered the store on November 23, 1988, and gathered items without seeming to care about the size, gender, or color of any of it.

    As the investigation painstakingly proceeded into 1989 and 1990, Robert Mueller arrived at Main Justice; the final objects of the Lockerbie search wouldn’t be found until the spring of 1990, just months before Mueller took over as assistant attorney general of the criminal division in September.

    The Justice Department that year was undergoing a series of leadership changes; the deputy attorney general, William Barr, became acting attorney general midyear as Richard Thornburgh stepped down to run for Senate back in his native Pennsylvania. President Bush then nominated Barr to take over as attorney general officially. (Earlier this month Barr was nominated by President Trump to become attorney general once again.)

    The bombing soon became one of the top cases on Mueller’s desk. He met regularly with Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent heading Scotbom. For Mueller, the case became personal; he met with victims’ families and toured the Lockerbie crash site and the investigation’s headquarters. He traveled repeatedly to the United Kingdom for meetings and walked the fields of Lockerbie himself. “The Scots just did a phenomenal job with the crime scene,” he told me, years ago.

    Mueller pushed the investigators forward constantly, getting involved in the investigation at a level that a high-ranking Justice Department official almost never does. Marquise turned to him in one meeting, after yet another set of directions, and sighed, “Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you want to be FBI director.”

    The investigation gradually, carefully, zeroed in on Libya. Agents traced a circuit board used in the bomb to a similar device seized in Africa a couple of years earlier used by Libyan intelligence. An FBI-created database of Maltese immigration records even showed that a man using the same alias as one of those Libyan intelligence officers had departed from Malta on October 19, 1988—just two months before the bombing.

    The circuit board also helped makes sense of an important aspect of the bombing: It controlled a timer, meaning that the bomb was not set off by a barometric trigger that registers altitude. This, in turn, explained why the explosive baggage had lain peacefully in the jet’s hold as it took off and landed repeatedly.

    Tiny letters on the suspect timer said “MEBO.” What was MEBO? In the days before Google, searching for something called “Mebo” required going country to country, company to company. There were no shortcuts. The FBI, MI5, and CIA were, after months of work, able to trace MEBO back to a Swiss company, Meister et Bollier, adding a fifth country to the ever-expanding investigative circle.

    From Meister et Bollier, they learned that the company had provided 20 prototype timers to the Libyan government and the company helped ID their contact as a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who looked like the sketch of the Maltese clothing shopper. Then, when the FBI looked at its database of Maltese immigration records, they found that Al Megrahi had been present in Malta the day the clothing was purchased.

    Marquise sat down with Robert Mueller and the rest of the prosecutorial team and laid out the latest evidence. Mueller’s orders were clear—he wanted specific suspects and he wanted to bring charges. As he said, “Proceed toward indictment.” Let’s get this case moving.

    IN NOVEMBER 1990, Marquise was placed in charge of all aspects of the investigation and assigned on special duty to the Washington Field Office and moved to a new Scotbom task force. The field offce was located far from the Hoover building, in a run-down neighborhood known by the thoroughly unromantic moniker of Buzzard Point.

    The Scotbom task force had been allotted three tiny windowless rooms with dark wood paneling, which were soon covered floor-to-ceiling with 747 diagrams, crime scene photographs, maps, and other clues. By the door of the office, the team kept two photographs to remind themselves of the stakes: One, a tiny baby shoe recovered from the fields of Lockerbie; the other, a picture of the American flag on the tail of Pan Am 103. This was the first major attack on the US and its civilians. Whoever was responsible couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    With representatives from a half-dozen countries—the US, Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Malta—now sitting around the table, putting together a case that met everyone’s evidentiary standards was difficult. “We talked through everything, and everything was always done to the higher standard,” Marquise says. In the US, for instance, the legal standard for a photo array was six photos; in Scotland, though, it was 12. So every photo array in the investigation had 12 photos to ensure that the IDs could be used in a British court.

    The trail of evidence so far was pretty clear, and it all pointed toward Libya. Yet there was still much work to do prior to an indictment. A solid hunch was one thing. Having evidence that would stand up in court and under cross-examination was something else entirely.

    As the case neared an indictment, the international investigators and prosecutors found themselves focusing at their gatherings on the fine print of their respective legal code and engaging in deep, philosophical-seeming debates: “What does murder mean in your statute? Huh? I know what murder means: I kill you. Well, then you start going through the details and the standards are just a little different. It may entail five factors in one country, three in another. Was Megrahi guilty of murder? Depends on the country.”

    At every meeting, the international team danced around the question of where a prosecution would ultimately take place. “Jurisdiction was an eggshell problem,” Marquise says. “It was always there, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was always the elephant in the room.”

    Mueller tried to deflect the debate for as long as possible, arguing there was more investigation to do first. Eventually, though, he argued forcefully that the case should be tried in the US. “I recognize that Scotland has significant equities which support trial of the case in your country,” he said in one meeting. “However, the primary target of this act of terrorism was the United States. The majority of the victims were Americans, and the Pan American aircraft was targeted precisely because it was of United States registry.”

    After one meeting, where the Scots and Americans debated jurisdiction for more than two hours, the group migrated over to the Peasant, a restaurant near the Justice Department, where, in an attempt to foster good spirits, it paid for the visiting Scots. Mueller and the other American officials each had to pay for their own meals.

    Mueller was getting ready to move forward; the federal grand jury would begin work in early September. Prosecutors and other investigators were already preparing background, readying evidence, and piecing together information like the names and nationalities of all the Lockerbie victims so that they could be included in the forthcoming indictment.

    There had never been any doubt in the US that the Pan Am 103 bombing would be handled as a criminal matter, but the case was still closely monitored by the White House and the National Security Council.

    The Reagan administration had been surprised in February 1988 by the indictment on drug charges of its close ally Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and a rule of thumb had been developed: Give the White House a heads up anytime you’re going to indict a foreign agent. “If you tag Libya with Pan Am 103, that’s fair to say it’s going to disrupt our relationship with Libya,” Mueller deadpans. So Mueller would head up to the Cabinet Room at the White House, charts and pictures in hand, to explain to President Bush and his team what Justice had in mind.

    To Mueller, the investigation underscored why such complex investigations needed a law enforcement eye. A few months after the attack, he sat through a CIA briefing pointing toward Syria as the culprit behind the attack. “That’s always struck with me as a lesson in the difference between intelligence and evidence. I always try to remember that,” he told me, back when he was FBI director. “It’s a very good object lesson about hasty action based on intelligence. What if we had gone and attacked Syria based on that initial intelligence? Then, after the attack, it came out that Libya had been behind it? What could we have done?”

    Marquise was the last witness for the federal grand jury on Friday, November 8, 1991. Only in the days leading up to that testimony had prosecutors zeroed in on Megrahi and another Libyan officer, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah; as late as the week of the testimony, they had hoped to pursue additional indictments, yet the evidence wasn’t there to get to a conviction.

    Mueller traveled to London to meet with the Peter Fraser, the lord advocate—Scotland’s top prosecutor—and they agreed to announce indictments simultaneously on November 15, 1991. Who got their hands on the suspects first, well, that was a question for later. The joint indictment, Mueller believed, would benefit both countries. “It adds credibility to both our investigations,” he says.

    That coordinated joint, multi-nation statement and indictment would become a model that the US would deploy more regularly in the years to come, as the US and other western nations have tried to coordinate cyber investigations and indictments against hackers from countries like North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

    To make the stunning announcement against Libya, Mueller joined FBI director William Sessions, DC US attorney Jay Stephens, and attorney general William Barr.

    “We charge that two Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan intelligence agency, along with other co-conspirators, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103,” Barr said. “I have just telephoned some of the families of those murdered on Pan Am 103 to inform them and the organizations of the survivors that this indictment has been returned. Their loss has been ever present in our minds.”

    At the same time, in Scotland, investigators there were announcing the same indictments.

    At the press conference, Barr listed a long set of names to thank—the first one he singled out was Mueller’s. Then, he continued, “This investigation is by no means over. It continues unabated. We will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. We have no higher priority.”

    From there, the case would drag on for years. ABC News interviewed the two suspects in Libya later that month; both denied any responsibility for the bombing. Marquise was reassigned within six months; the other investigators moved along too.

    Mueller himself left the administration when Bill Clinton became president, spending an unhappy year in private practice before rejoining the Justice Department to work as a junior homicide prosecutor in DC under then US attorney Eric Holder; Mueller, who had led the nation’s entire criminal division was now working side by side with prosecutors just a few years out of law school, the equivalent of a three-star military general retiring and reenlisting as a second lieutenant. Clinton eventually named Mueller the US attorney in San Francisco, the office where he’d worked as a young attorney in the 1970s.

    THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the bombing came and went without any justice. Then, in April 1999, prolonged international negotiations led to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi turning over the two suspects; the international economic sanctions imposed on Libya in the wake of the bombing were taking a toll on his country, and the leader wanted to put the incident behind him.

    The final negotiated agreement said that the two men would be tried by a Scottish court, under Scottish law, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Distinct from the international court there, the three-judge Scottish court would ensure that the men faced justice under the laws of the country where their accused crime had been committed.

    Allowing the Scots to move forward meant some concessions by the US. The big one was taking the death penalty, prohibited in Scotland, off the table. Mueller badly wanted the death penalty. Mueller, like many prosecutors and law enforcement officials, is a strong proponent of capital punishment, but he believes it should be reserved for only egregious crimes. “It has to be especially heinous, and you have to be 100 percent sure he’s guilty,” he says. This case met that criteria. “There’s never closure. If there can’t be closure, there should be justice—both for the victims as well as the society at large,” he says.

    An old US military facility, Kamp Van Zeist, was converted to an elaborate jail and courtroom in The Hague, and the Dutch formally surrendered the two Libyans to Scottish police. The trial began in May 2000. For nine months, the court heard testimony from around the world. In what many observers saw as a political verdict, Al Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was found not guilty.

    With barely 24 hours notice, Marquise and victim family members raced from the United States to be in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The morning of the verdict in 2001, Mueller was just days into his tenure as acting deputy US attorney general—filling in for the start of the George W. Bush administration in the department’s No. 2 role as attorney general John Ashcroft got himself situated.

    That day, Mueller awoke early and joined with victims’ families and other officials in Washington, who watched the verdict announcement via a satellite hookup. To him, it was a chance for some closure—but the investigation would go on. As he told the media, “The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am Flight 103.”

    The Scotbom case would leave a deep imprint on Mueller; one of his first actions as FBI director was to recruit Kathryn Turman, who had served as the liaison to the Pan Am 103 victim families during the trial, to head the FBI’s Victim Services Division, helping to elevate the role and responsibility of the FBI in dealing with crime victims.

    JUST MONTHS AFTER that 20th anniversary ceremony with Mueller at Arlington National Cemetery, in the summer of 2009, Scotland released a terminally ill Megrahi from prison after a lengthy appeals process, and sent him back to Libya. The decision was made, the Scottish minister of justice reported, on “compassionate grounds.” Few involved on the US side believed the terrorist deserved compassion. Megrahi was greeted as a hero on the tarmac in Libya—rose petals, cheering crowds. The US consensus remained that he should rot in prison.

    The idea that Megrahi could walk out of prison on “compassionate” ground made a mockery of everything that Mueller had dedicated his life to fighting and doing. Amid a series of tepid official condemnations—President Obama labeled it “highly objectionable”—Mueller fired off a letter to Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill that stood out for its raw pain, anger, and deep sorrow.

    “Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision,” Mueller began. “Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of ‘compassion.’”

    That nine months after the 20th anniversary of the bombing, the only person behind bars for the bombing would walk back onto Libyan soil a free man and be greeted with rose petals left Mueller seething.

    “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world,” Mueller wrote. “You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification—the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.”

    For Mueller, walking the fields of Lockerbie had been walking on hallowed ground. The Scottish decision pained him especially deeply, because of the mission and dedication he and his Scottish counterparts had shared 20 years before. “If all civilized nations join together to apply the rules of law to international terrorists, certainly we will be successful in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism,” he had written in a perhaps too hopeful private note to the Scottish Lord Advocate in 1990.

    Some 20 years later, in an era when counterterrorism would be a massive, multibillion dollar industry and a buzzword for politicians everywhere, Mueller—betrayed—concluded his letter with a decidedly un-Mueller-like plea, shouted plaintively and hopelessly across the Atlantic: “Where, I ask, is the justice?”

    #USA #Libye #impérialisme #terrorisme #histoire #CIA #idéologie #propagande


  • Amazon, AI and Medical Records: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks? - Knowledge Wharton
    http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/amazon-medical-records

    Last month, Amazon unveiled a service based on AI and machine-learning technology that could comb through patient medical records and extract valuable insights. It was seen as a game changer that could alleviate the administrative burden of doctors, introduce new treatments, empower patients and potentially lower health care costs. But it also carries risks to patient data privacy that calls for appropriate regulation, according to Wharton and other experts.

    Branded Comprehend Medical, the Amazon Web Services offering aims “to understand and analyze the information that is often trapped in free-form, unstructured medical text, such as hospital admission notes or patient medical histories.” Essentially, it is a natural language processing service that pores through medical text for insights into disease conditions, medications and treatment outcomes from patient notes and other electronic health records.

    The new service is Amazon’s latest foray into the health care sector. In June, the company paid $1 billion to buy online pharmacy PillPack, a Boston-based startup that specializes in packing monthly supplies of medicines to chronically ill patients. In January, Amazon teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form a health care alliance that aims to lower costs and improve the quality of medical care for their employees.

    “Health care, like everything else, is becoming more of an information-based industry, and data is the gold standard — and Amazon knows as well as anyone how to handle and analyze data,” said Robert Field, Wharton lecturer in health care management who is also professor of health management and policy at Drexel University. “It’s a $3.5 trillion industry and 18% of our economy, so who wouldn’t want a piece of that?”

    AI offers “enormous” promise when it comes to bringing in new and improved treatments for patient conditions, such as in the area of radiology, added Hempstead. Machine learning also potentially enables the continual improvement of treatment models, such as identifying people who could participate in clinical trials. Moreover, Amazon’s service could “empower a consumer to be more in charge of their own health and maybe be more active consumer of medical services that might be beneficial to their health,” she said.

    On the flip side, it also could enable insurers to refuse to enroll patients that they might see as too risky, Hempstead said. Insurers are already accessing medical data and using technology in pricing their products for specific markets, and the Amazon service might make it easier for them to have access to such data, she noted.

    #Santé_publique #Données_médicales #Amazon #Intelligence_artificielle


  • How Do You Recover After Millions Have Watched You Overdose? - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/11/us/overdoses-youtube-opioids-drugs.html

    The first time Kelmae Hemphill watched herself overdose, she sobbed. There she was in a shaky video filmed by her own heroin dealer, sprawled out on a New Jersey road while a stranger pounded on her chest. “Come on, girl,” someone pleaded.

    Ms. Hemphill’s 11-year drug addiction, her criminal record, her struggles as a mother — they were now everybody’s business, splashed across the news and social media with a new genre of American horror film: the overdose video.

    As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away.

    But life is never the same for the people whose bleakest, most humiliating moments now live online forever. In interviews with The New York Times, they talked — some for the very first time — about the versions of themselves captured in the videos.

    “Why bother saving her?” asked one YouTube commenter. “I would’ve let her die,” said another. Angry Facebook messages arrived months, even years, later, when strangers stumbled across the videos.

    Addiction experts say the videos are doing little else than publicly shaming drug users, and the blunt horror of the images may actually increase the stigma against them. Users themselves disagree on whether the humiliation helped them clean up their lives.

    “We’re showing you this video of them at the worst, most humiliating moment of their life,” said Daniel Raymond, deputy director of policy and planning at the Harm Reduction Coalition, an advocacy group. “The intent is not to help these people. The intent is to use them as an object lesson by scapegoating them.”

    Mandy McGowan, 38, knows that. She was the mother unconscious in that video, the woman who became known as the “Dollar Store Junkie.” But she said the video showed only a few terrible frames of a complicated life.

    As a child, she said, she was sexually molested. She survived relationships with men who beat her. She barely graduated from high school.

    She said her addiction to opioids began after she had neck surgery in 2006 for a condition that causes spasms and intense pain. Her neurologist prescribed a menu of strong painkillers including OxyContin, Percocet and fentanyl patches.

    As a teenager, Ms. McGowan had smoked marijuana and taken mushrooms and ecstasy. But she always steered clear of heroin, she said, thinking it was for junkies, for people living in alleys. But her friends were using it, and over the last decade, she sometimes joined them.

    She tried to break her habit by buying Suboxone — a medication used to treat addiction — on the street. But the Suboxone often ran out, and she turned to heroin to tide her over.

    On Sept. 18, 2016, a friend came to Ms. McGowan’s house in Salem, N.H., and offered her a hit of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin. They sniffed a line and drove to the Family Dollar across the state line in Lawrence, where Ms. McGowan collapsed with her daughter beside her. At least two people in the store recorded the scene on their cellphones.

    Medics revived her and took her to the hospital, where child welfare officials took custody of her daughter, and the police charged Ms. McGowan with child neglect and endangerment. (She eventually pleaded guilty to both and was sentenced to probation.) Two days later, the video of her overdose was published by The Eagle-Tribune and was also released by the Lawrence police.

    The video played in a loop on the local news, and vaulted onto CNN and Fox News, ricocheting across the web.

    “For someone already dealing with her own demons, she now has to deal with public opinion, too,” said Matt Ganem, the executive director of the Banyan Treatment Center, about 15 miles north of Boston, which gave Ms. McGowan six months of free treatment after being contacted by intermediaries. “You’re a spectacle. Everyone is watching.”

    Ms. McGowan had only seen snippets of the video on the news. But two months later, she watched the whole thing. She felt sick with regret.

    “I see it, and I’m like, I was a piece of freaking [expletive],” she said. “That was me in active use. It’s not who I am today.”

    But she also wondered: Why didn’t anyone help her daughter? She was furious that bystanders seemed to feel they had license to gawk and record instead of comforting her screaming child.

    She writes letters to her two teenage sons, who live with her former husband in New Hampshire. Her daughter, now 4, lives with the girl’s uncle. Ms. McGowan knows she will probably not regain custody, but hopes to develop a relationship with her and supplant the image embedded in her own mind of the sobbing girl in the pink pajamas.

    “I know if I do the right thing, I can be involved in her life,” Ms. McGowan said. “It’s going to be a long road for me. You don’t just get clean and your life is suddenly all put back together.”

    Still, the video lives on, popping up online almost constantly.

    Ms. McGowan is bracing herself for the day when her daughter sees it, when her daughter lashes out at her for it, when she throws it back in her mother’s face when Ms. McGowan tries to warn her not to use drugs.

    “That video is PTSD for my children,” she said. “The questions are going to come as my daughter gets older. And I have to be prepared for it. I did this. And it cost me my children.”

    #Opioides #Vidéos #Médias_sociaux #Addiction #Traitements


  • What the Boston School Bus Schedule Can Teach Us About AI
    https://www.wired.com/story/joi-ito-ai-and-bus-routes

    When the Boston public school system announced new start times last December, some parents found the schedules unacceptable and pushed back. The algorithm used to set these times had been designed by MIT researchers, and about a week later, Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, emailed asking me to cosign an op-ed that would call on policymakers to be more thoughtful and democratic when they consider using algorithms to change policies (...)

    #algorithme #solutionnisme #discrimination #ACLU


  • Domino’s ‘Paving for Pizza’ Stunt Fills Potholes in American Cities - Eater
    https://www.eater.com/2018/9/7/17831586/dominos-potholes-paving-for-pizza-towns


    #privatisation partout : le nid-de-poule Domino, le trottoir Starbuck, les chiottes MacDo ?
    Remarque, on a déjà pas mal de ronds-points qui on été payés par le supermarché qui s’est installé à côté et on a des stades et des salles de concert qui portent le nom de boites.

    But beneath the surface, the willingness for cities to take this money is an indictment on the state of American infrastructure funding. Several mayors suggested that getting the money to keep streets in good condition was a major challenge, in some cases blaming a lack of funding from states, or the general difficulties of raising enough tax money to keep roads from falling apart.

    Mayor Stephen DiNatale of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, says that the state gives his city, which is just outside Boston, around $1.2 million for infrastructure repairs to roads and bridges each year (as well as for the equipment to do that work). That’s enough to pave up to 1.5 miles of road, he says. “The costs are so extraordinary… when you’ve got over 250 miles of road, that [money is] really not going to make it happen,” DiNatale says. “So my motivation is ‘any help we can get’, and certainly, Domino’s has a very helpful and clever approach.”


  • Police drone finds girl, 16, who called 999 to report rape
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/06/police-drone-finds-girl-16-who-called-999-to-report

    Teenager was able to describe her surroundings in Boston to Lincolnshire police A teenage girl who did not know where she was and called 999 to report that a man had raped her was found after police deployed a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera. The 16-year-old called emergency services in the early hours of Saturday to say she was on land somewhere in Boston, Lincolnshire, with her attacker. Lincolnshire police were then able to trace the missing “high risk” girl to the Brown’s (...)

    #drone #aérien #thermique #viol #surveillance #vidéo-surveillance


  • We learned your French, we learned your English, we learned your Spanish, we learned your Dutch, your Portuguese, your German,

    you learned our nothing, you called us stupid...that’s white privilege and I’m sure it probably hurts for you to hear those two words, kind of like gun shots and explosions from those commissioned

    to protect you whisking past your ears.

    What is white privilege? It is the only 5 decades of legal acknowledgment expected to correct 400 years of white transgression It is crack versus cocaine, blacks receiving almost 20 percent

    longer sentences for the same exact offenses.

    Or like, for instance, a black man without a record is less like to get a job than a white felon, well maybe it’s cause we are lazy and we don’t work hard enough, uhhhhhhh

    like WTF, FOUR hundred years in the same field, literally, is an incredible resume builder.

    it is Katrina answering the government’s prayers of eugenics, Dick Cheney going fishing the next day, Condoleeza on a shopping spree Bush, in San Diego, but Kanye is the one you call crazy, cause like it only took the U.S.A. 2 days to get aid to Asia, but five for FEMA

    to get to canal street and esplanade.

    It is the one black kid who beat the shit out of the odds, but only thanks to Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer and the white shadow, so now we all can make it, it is the only time thousands of white people are cheering for the black kid to win is in a stadium,

    it is you looking at me crazy if I told you to go back to Europe even though we didn’t have a say, it is you all of a sudden having a problem with immigration, like this isn’t even your nation!!!!!

    How the hell you discover some shit that wasn’t even missing to begin with, you’ve Columbused

    our traditions, had white girls twerking in high definition, with multi colored hair and purple nails, but it was ghetto when we did it.

    Oh I make you uncomfortable try a cramped slave ship oh wait slavery is over now, it’s just called the prison system cause like you’re not racist cause you don’t use the n word but y’all use niggas everyday what is white privilege, it is the acceptance of bombs over

    Baghdad but not over Boston, it’s European history being taught as a major and African

    as an elective, it is learning about my people only 28 days, like I’m not black every fucking second, It is every white boy who wanted to fuck my brains out, not because I’m pretty, but because I’m pretty for a black girl, it is people thinking that Africa is one nation, it is the waving of confederate flag like you didn’t lose the battle, and

    then telling us to get over slavery, it is people saying that black people destroyed neighborhoods but forgetting that white people have destroyed continents.

    it is every time I bring up my plight some white man has to tell me that I’m crazy, but is kind enough to praise my English, or say that we are all given the same opportunities even though he has a family history of wealth and I don’t even know my family history at all It is the justification of police brutality like what did that person do?

    I’m sure it doesn’t hurt as much when the victim doesn’t look like you.

    it is people thinking that affirmative action is an unfair advantage instead of keeping the qualified from being unfairly disadvantaged or throwing out a qualified applicant because their name sounded to African American.

    It is newports imported into black communities but black boys exported for weed.

    It is big plastic asses, that are called fat when we naturally have them, it is an Australian woman who’s the new classic of rap music,

    it is everyone who hears this that dismisses this poem I just spit as reverse racism, that is white privilege. Thank you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qkz5UmXugzk



  • La projection Equal-Earth
    https://visionscarto.net/la-projection-equal-earth

    Titre : La projection Equal-Earth Auteurs : Bojan Šavrič, Bernhard Jenny et Tom Patterson Date de création : Août 2018 Mots-clés : #projections #d3.js Apparition : International Journal of Geographical Information Science Cette projection est née d’une frustration de cartographes. Fin mars 2017, les écoles publiques de Boston (Massachussetts) annonçaient vouloir sortir des représentations de Mercator pour les cartes du monde ; entreprise plus que louable, mais l’affaire était gâtée par le choix (...)

    #Collection_cartographique

    / #Projections


  • Slip ou boxer ? Les caleçons amples favorisent la production de spermatozoïdes, selon une étude
    https://www.20minutes.fr/sante/2319155-20180809-slip-boxer-calecons-amples-favorisent-production-spermato

    Sur 20 minute on découvre la spermatogenèse selon une « étude » récente !
    Ce qui est consternant c’est que l’article est orienté « si vous voulez devenir père ». La même étude donne tout autant le moyen de ne pas devenir père et ne pas ruiné le corps, la vie, la santé et la carrière des femmes.
    L’article est dans la rubrique « fertilité » alors que ca pouvait aussi bien être dans « contraception », et expliqué le principe du #RCT ou aborder le sujet de la contraception vis à vis du publique masculin qui en a grand grand grand besoin. Mais non, on ne va pas parler contraception aux homme, la seule chose qui interesse les hommes c’est comment pourrir la planete et la vie des femmes avec leur précieux jus de couilles.

    Le mot d’ordre : laisser respirer. Les hommes qui veulent devenir père feraient mieux de porter le caleçon plutôt que des sous-vêtements serrés, pour favoriser la production de spermatozoïdes, ont affirmé des chercheurs jeudi.

    Cette étude publiée par la revue Human Reproduction confirme, avec une plus grande rigueur que d’autres avant elle, ce que l’on soupçonnait déjà : plus les testicules respirent, mieux ils fonctionnent. « Les hommes qui portent des caleçons ont des concentrations en spermatozoïdes plus élevées que ceux qui portent des sous-vêtements plus moulants », a résumé la revue dans un communiqué.
    Les adeptes du caleçon avaient 33% de spermatozoïdes mobiles en plus

    Cette conclusion provient de spermogrammes réalisés par 656 hommes entre 2000 et 2017, dans le service d’assistance à la procréation du Massachusetts General Hospital à Boston (États-Unis).

    L’étude « est la première à dépasser l’accent mis traditionnellement sur la qualité du sperme et à comprendre des données sur une multitude d’indicateurs du fonctionnement testiculaire, tels que les hormones de la reproduction et les dégâts sur l’ADN du sperme », a avancé Human Reproduction.

    Les sujets de l’étude ont indiqué ce qu’ils portaient le plus souvent. Pour 53% c’était des caleçons, pour 47% des sous-vêtements plus serrés (boxer court ou boxer long, slip moulant ou autre). En ajustant avec d’autres facteurs pouvant influencer la qualité du sperme (état de santé, niveau d’activité physique, tabagisme, etc.), les adeptes du caleçon avaient 33% de spermatozoïdes mobiles en plus.
    Eviter pantalons moulants et ne pas passer trop de temps assis

    Par ailleurs, ceux qui portent des sous-vêtements serrés secrètent plus d’hormone folliculo-stimulante (FSH), qui stimule la production de spermatozoïdes. D’après les chercheurs, le corps compense ainsi une température trop élevée pour les testicules.

    « La production de sperme nécessite une température de 3 à 4°C inférieure à celle du reste du corps », a rappelé un professeur en médecine de la reproduction de l’université d’Édimbourg (Royaume-Uni), Richard Sharpe, cité par Science Media Centre. Lui et d’autres experts donnent d’autres conseils : éviter de porter des pantalons moulants, de passer trop de temps assis, et de prendre des bains très chauds.

    #natalisme #domination_masculine #contraception_masculine


  • Derrière l’algorithme de Parcoursup, un choix idéologique
    https://www.nouvelobs.com/education/20180713.OBS9643/derriere-l-algorithme-de-parcoursup-un-choix-ideologique.html

    Des cartes récemment publiées montrent un résultat consternant depuis la mise en place de l’algorithme de Parcoursup : la diminution de la mobilité des étudiants issus des périphéries crève les yeux. Des responsables politiques et des citoyens, légitimement heurtés par ce constat, s’en saisissent aujourd’hui pour accuser l’algorithme de Parcoursup d’être un « algorithme discriminant ». En cela, ils rejoignent, sans toujours en avoir conscience, ceux qui souhaitent engager en Europe une réflexion pour attribuer une personnalité juridique aux algorithmes.

    Parcoursup est l’un des plus beaux exemples de la gouvernance algorithmique dans laquelle entre actuellement notre société. Nos existences vont être de plus en plus ceinturées par des algorithmes qui vont prendre des décisions pour nous. C’est pourquoi des voix s’élèvent pour défendre l’idée que des citoyens lambdas doivent désormais être associés à leur écriture. Dans le cas de Parcoursup, des enseignants, des parents, des étudiants. Naturellement, ils n’écriront pas les lignes de code C ou Java, mais ils doivent participer à déterminer les choix concrets dont sera porteur l’algorithme.

    Il s’agit en quelque sorte en appeler à une démocratie 3.0 dans laquelle les algorithmes qui nous gouvernent fassent l’objet de débats et soient issus de la réunion de trois types de développeurs : des informaticiens associés aux experts, des citoyens et des politiques. Cette perspective se trouve notamment chez Elinor Ostrom, prix Nobel d’économie en 2009 pour ses travaux sur la gestion des biens communs, ou dans les travaux récents de Bruno Latour sur les initiatives citoyennes dans la gouvernance collective, ainsi que dans des expériences de démocratie algorithmique participative telle que « Code for America », née à Boston, et dont l’une des applications est justement l’accès aux écoles publiques. C’est la voie pour que les algorithmes qui nous gouvernent soient perçus comme équitables et acceptés par la population.

    Euh...


  • https://mrairplaneman.bandcamp.com/track/slippery

    Margaret Garrett (chant-guitare) et Tara McManus (batterie-claviers) forment leur duo en 1996 à Boston. Un nom mystérieux qui fait référence à un titre de Howlin’ Wolf . Un clin d’œil appuyé à leur obsession pour le #rock’n’roll, obsession entretenue depuis leurs années de collégiennes. Elles commencent à jouer dans la rue et enregistrent leur premier album dès 2001. Vite repérées par John Peel (les fameuses Sessions), elles partagent la scène avec les White Stripes, The Strokes, tournent avec Morphine et travaillent avec Greg « Oblivian » Cartwright. Leur musique est adoptée par de multiples programmes TV (dont « The L World ») mais aussi par le cinéma.

    http://beastrecords.free.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=281&Itemid=47
    https://mrairplaneman.bandcamp.com/track/cmon-dj


    https://mrairplaneman.bandcamp.com
    http://www.mrairplaneman.com
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=191&v=sWH1wKQ2_WQ

    #Mr.Airplane_Man #bandcamp #Beast_rds


  • #Boston weighs giving legal, non-US citizens voting rights | Boston.com
    https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2018/07/08/boston-weighs-giving-legal-non-us-citizens-voting-rights

    The City Council is holding a hearing Tuesday on the idea at the request of Council President Andrea Campbell. The council is considering ways to make city elections more inclusive, including allowing immigrants with legal status in the country the right to vote in municipal races.

    #vote #etats-unis


  • Trump et le refus migratoire en Amérique
    http://www.dedefensa.org/article/trump-et-le-refus-migratoire-en-amerique

    Trump et le refus migratoire en Amérique

    Le refus migratoire incarné par Trump n’a rien de neuf. Les races refusées ont changé mais on a toujours refusé des immigrés en Amérique, même européens, surtout à partir de la fin du XIXème siècle, même si on n’a jamais su les arrêter…

    Les grands hommes s’en sont mêlés, comme Kipling qui se plaint à Boston de la baisse tendancielle du nombre de Wasps. Dans son journal, Henry James s’avère fasciné et effaré par le dynamisme de la jeune population juive fraîchement débarquée. Dans une nouvelle nommée la Rue, Lovecraft diabolise à sa manière géniale l’arrivée de nouveaux venus dans sa rue. Il dénonce leur physique répugnant et leurs idées politiques subversives ! Puis il pleure les temps anciens des pionniers blonds comme l’or.

    Mais rien ne vaut – pour comprendre ce mal du siècle (...)


    • Belle sélection américaine pour une si petite liste, mais ce sont les seuls que je n’arrive pas à écouter :

      Atlanta
      Future Mask Off
      Migos Bad and boujee
      Outkast Elevator (Me & You)
      Russ Do It Myself
      Boston
      Guru Lifesaver
      Breaux Bridge
      Buckshot Lefonque Music Evolution
      Brentwood
      EPMD Da Joint
      Chicago
      Saba LIFE
      Dallas
      #Erykah_Badu The Healer
      Detroit
      Clear Soul Forces Get no better
      Eminem The Real Slim Shady
      La Nouvelle-Orléans
      $uicideboy$ ft. Pouya South Side Suicide
      Mystikal Boucin’ Back Lexington
      CunninLynguists Lynguistics
      Los Angeles
      Cypress Hill Hits from the bong
      Dilated Peoples Trade Money
      Dr. Dre The next episode ft. Snoop Dogg
      Gavlyn We On
      Jonwayne These Words are Everything
      Jurassic 5 Quality Control
      Kendrick Lamar Humble
      N.W.A Straight outta Compton
      Snoop Dogg Who Am I (What’s my name) ?
      The Pharcyde Drop
      Miami
      Pouya Get Buck
      Minneapolis
      Atmosphere Painting
      New-York
      A tribe called quest Jazz (We’ve Got) Buggin’ Out
      Big L Put it on
      Jeru the Damaja Me or the Papes
      Mobb Deep Shook Ones Pt. II
      Notorious B.I.G Juicy
      The Underachievers Gold Soul Theory
      Wu-Tang Clan Da Mistery of Chessboxin’
      Newark
      Lords of the Underground Chief Rocka
      Pacewon Children sing
      Petersburg
      Das EFX They want EFX
      Philadelphie
      Doap Nixon Everything’s Changing
      Jedi Mind Tricks Design in Malice
      Pittsburgh
      Mac Miller Nikes on my feet
      Richmond
      Mad Skilzz Move Ya Body
      Sacramento
      Blackalicious Deception
      San Diego
      Surreal & the Sounds Providers Place to be
      San Francisco
      Kero One Fly Fly Away
      Seattle
      Boom Bap Project Who’s that ?
      Brothers From Another Day Drink
      SOL This Shit
      Stone Mountain
      Childish Gambino Redbone
      Washington DC
      Oddisee Own Appeal

      Limité mais permet des découvertes.

      Mark Mushiva - The Art of Dying (#Namibie)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZZrp4TMAgQ

      Tehn Diamond - Happy (#Zimbabwe)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5tjMAy5ySM

      #rap

    • « Global Hip-Hop » : 23 nouveaux morceaux ajoutés dans la base grâce à vos propositions ! Deux nouveaux pays (Mongolie et Madagascar) et 11 nouvelles villes, de Mississauga à Versailles en passant par Molfetta, Safi, Oulan-Bator ou Tananarive 🌍


  • Hidden portraits: rare photos of African American life get a spotlight | Art and design | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jun/21/metropolitan-museum-art-african-american-portraits-exhibition

    In 1861, African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass took the stage at Boston’s Tremont Temple Baptist church and declared: “To the eye and spirit, pictures are just what poetry and music are to the ear and heart.”

    It was part of his speech Pictures and Progress, one of the most historic lectures on contemporary photography where Douglass talked about how photography could be a powerful force of positive self-representation to overcome racism during the second world war.

    #états-unis #photographie


  • Why Living in a Poor Neighborhood Can Change Your Biology - Issue 61 : Coordinates
    http://nautil.us/issue/61/coordinates/why-living-in-a-poor-neighborhood-can-change-your-biology-rp

    It was the most ambitious social experiment ever conducted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. And one of the most surprising. In 1994, HUD randomly assigned 4,600 poor, mostly African-American families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York to one of three groups. One group received housing vouchers intended to help them move to low-poverty neighborhoods. Another group received vouchers without geographic restrictions. A final control group didn’t receive vouchers at all. Called “Moving to Opportunity,” the study was designed to answer a question that had divided social scientists and policymakers for decades: Did getting people off of welfare and other forms of social assistance depend on changing their social context?TOWN WITHOUT PITY: A (...)


  • Google Emerges as Early Winner From Europe’s New Data Privacy Law
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/eus-strict-new-privacy-law-is-sending-more-ad-money-to-google-1527759001

    Le RGPD est une forme de colbertisme adaptée à l’ère numérique : l’UE définit un nouveau terrain de jeu... mais les euls à apprendre à bien jouer sont les géants du web. Les autres parlent “d’intérêt légitime”, s’appuyant sur l’exception à la règle, alors même que cela ne marchera pas pour la pub. Cette manie de notre vieux continent de miser sur les passe-droit.

    Digital ad giants are gathering individuals’ consent for targeted ads at far higher rates than many competing online-ad services, early data show

    By

    Nick Kostov and

    Sam Schechner

    May 31, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET

    GDPR, the European Union’s new privacy law, is drawing advertising money toward Google’s online-ad services and away from competitors that are straining to show they’re complying with the sweeping regulation.

    The reason: the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL 1.74% ad giant is gathering individuals’ consent for targeted advertising at far higher rates than many competing online-ad services, early data show. That means the new law, the General Data Protection Regulation, is reinforcing—at least initially—the strength of the biggest online-ad players, led by Google and FacebookInc.

    Hundreds of companies along the chain of automated bidding and selling of digital ads—from ad buyers to websites that show ads—have been scrambling to comply with the law while continuing to target people based on the personal information such as web-browsing histories, offline purchases or demographic details.

    Since the law went into effect Friday, Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DBM, a major tool ad buyers use to purchase targeted online ads, has been directing some advertisers’ money toward Google’s own marketplace where digital-ad inventory can be bought and sold, and away from some smaller such ad exchanges and other vendors. That shift has hurt some smaller firms, where Google says it can’t verify whether people who see ads have given consent.

    Google is applying a relatively strict interpretation of how and where the new law requires consent, both on its own platforms and those of other firms. The stringent interpretation helps Google avoid GDPR’s harsh penalties and pushes the company to buy more ad inventory from its own exchange, where it is sure to have user consent for targeted advertising.

    Havas SA, one of the world’s largest buyers of ads, says it observed a low double-digit percentage increase in advertisers’ spending through DBM on Google’s own ad exchange on the first day the law went into effect, according to Hossein Houssaini, Havas’s global head of programmatic solutions.

    On the selling side, companies that help publishers sell ad inventory have seen declines in bids coming through their platforms from Google. Paris-based Smart says it has seen a roughly 50% drop. Amsterdam-based Improve Digital says it has experienced a similar fall-off for ads that rely on third-party vendors.

    “It’s still early, but we’ve seen an increase in volumes on Google’s platform and a decline overall,” said Luc Vignon of Regie 366, which sells advertising space for 12 groups of French regional newspapers and websites.

    A Google spokesman says it has been working on interim solutions to “minimize disruption.” Google says it is showing nonpersonalized ads on websites that can’t prove they have users’ full consent and will deploy other workarounds until it fully joins a third-party system for websites to transmit consent, run by IAB Europe, an online-ad trade group.

    Over the weekend, some bigger companies, including New York-based ad exchange AppNexus Inc. and French video-ad vendor Teads, said they have struck temporary deals assuring Google they have consent, so ad buyers could use DBM to purchase targeted ads from the companies again. The two companies said demand coming through their platforms from Google was almost back to normal this week after an initial disruption.

    Brian O’Kelley, AppNexus chief executive, said he thinks Google’s conservatism on the issue of consent is justified. “If you’re big, you can’t take privacy risks,” Mr. O’Kelley said, citing the potential for enormous fines under GDPR. “I’m terrified because I have a real business to protect. So I’m not going to take privacy risks here.”

    Google has been offering up about 15% fewer ads for bidding via its own ad exchange, but all of those ads have consent of end-users for targeting based on personal information, according to Dataxu Inc., a company that helps advertisers bid for ads.

    By contrast, Dataxu says competing ad exchanges haven’t seen their ad volume fall significantly, but as of Wednesday two-thirds of their spots weren’t transmitting the consent Google says is necessary for targeting, Dataxu says. That means rival exchanges often can’t sell ads targeted with personal information, which often cost four or five times as much as traditional ads.

    “It’s a huge advantage for Google’s ad exchange if they maintain their very high consent rate and the others don’t improve,” said Bill Simmons, co-founder and chief technology officer for Dataxu, based in Boston.

    Arndt Groth, president of mobile ad-exchange Smaato, said that with a smaller supply of targeted ads, their price is going up significantly. “It’s a pure supply-and-demand thing,” he said.

    Facebook, the second-largest player in the digital-ad ecosystem, doesn’t play the same role as Google, which interfaces with many other ad-tech companies to place and measure ads across the internet. Instead Facebook mostly sells ads directly and places them through its own audience network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week indicated that his company has also had success gathering user consent for ad targeting under GDPR.

    “The vast majority of people choose to opt in,” to see targeted ads on Facebook based on their use of other websites and app, Mr. Zuckerberg said at a tech conference in Paris.

    Google and Facebook do face big legal risks from GDPR. Privacy activists filed lawsuitsagainst the companies in recent days, over issues including how freely given users’ consent actually is.

    Some online-ad companies say they have seen marketers shift ad money away from Google ad-buying tools to some smaller competitors that don’t demand explicit consent. That is possible because some publishers and companies, unlike Google, are relying on an alternate justification under GDPR called “legitimate interest,” which lets companies use personal information without asking for consent so long as they take other strict privacy measures.

    Regulators have said, however, that relying on legitimate interest for online tracking for marketing purposes may not pass legal muster—and Google has avoided it.

    “Others haven’t put as many restrictions on their buyers,” said Sebastiaan Moesman, chief executive at Improve Digital.

    Write to Nick Kostov at Nick.Kostov@wsj.com and Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com


  • Des gravures d’Escher numérisées en haute résolution
    http://www.laboiteverte.fr/des-gravures-descher-numerisees-en-haute-resolution

    La Bibliothèque Publique de Boston a décidé d’ouvrir au public ses collections de gravures par M.C. Escher, célèbre pour ses perspectives impossibles, en les faisant numériser dans une excellente qualité.
    On peut ainsi zoomer très fortement et observer les traits, les textures et la précision de l’artiste.
    Plus de 80 images sont disponibles, sur le site Digital Commonwealth.


  • La Bibliothèque Publique de Boston a décidé d’ouvrir au public ses collections de gravures par M.C. Escher, célèbre pour ses perspectives impossibles, en les faisant numériser dans une excellente qualité.

    On peut ainsi zoomer très fortement et observer les traits, les textures et la précision de l’artiste.

    https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search?f%5Bcollection_name_ssim%5D%5B%5D=M.+C.+Escher+(1898-197

    ping @mad_meg & @fil

    via http://www.laboiteverte.fr/des-gravures-descher-numerisees-en-haute-resolution


  • Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to Run Forever | The Oakland Institute
    https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/tanzania-safari-businesses-maasai-losing-serengeti

    Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to Run Forever is based on field research, never publicly-seen-before documents, and an in-depth investigation into Tanzania’s land laws. This report is the first to reveal the complicity between Tanzanian government officials and foreign companies as they use conservation laws to dispossess the Maasai, driving them into smaller and smaller areas and creating a stifling map of confinement.

    The report specifically exposes the devastating impact of two foreign companies on the lives and livelihoods of the Maasai villagers in the Loliondo area of the Ngorongoro District—Tanzania Conservation Ltd (TCL), a safari business operated by the owners of Boston-based high-end safari outfitter Thomson Safaris; and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), which runs hunting excursions for the country’s royal family and their guests.

    According to local villagers, TCL has made their lives impossible by denying them access to water and land and cooperating with local police who have beaten and arrested the Maasai. Meanwhile, for 25 years, the OBC had an exclusive hunting license, during which time there were several violent evictions of the Maasai, many homes were burnt, and thousands of rare animals were killed. Although Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources cancelled OBC’s license last year, the OBC remains active in the area, while the local villagers live in fear.

    #Serengeti #Maasaï #Tanzanie #évictions_forcées #terres #plaisirs_du_prince #safari #chasse


  • The Opioid that Made a Fortune for Its Maker — and for Its Prescribers - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/02/magazine/100000005878055.app.html

    For Insys, Chun was just the right kind of doctor to pursue. In the late 1990s, sales of prescription opioids began a steep climb. But by the time Subsys came to market in 2012, mounting regulatory scrutiny and changing medical opinion were thinning the ranks of prolific opioid prescribers. Chun was one of the holdouts, a true believer in treating pain with narcotics. He operated a busy practice, and 95 percent of the Medicare patients he saw in 2015 had at least one opioid script filled. Chun was also a top prescriber of a small class of painkillers whose active ingredient is fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times as powerful as morphine. Burlakoff’s product was a new entry to that class. On a “target list,” derived from industry data that circulated internally at Insys, Chun was placed at No. 3. The word inside the company for a doctor like Chun was a “whale.”

    In the few months since Subsys was introduced, demand was not meeting expectations. Some of the sales staff had already been fired. If Burlakoff and Krane could persuade Chun to become a Subsys loyalist, it would be a coup for them and for the entire company. The drug was so expensive that a single clinic, led by a motivated doctor, could generate millions of dollars in revenue.

    Speaker programs are a widely used marketing tool in the pharmaceutical business. Drug makers enlist doctors to give paid talks about the benefits of a product to other potential prescribers, at a clinic or over dinner in a private room at a restaurant. But Krane and some fellow rookie reps were already getting a clear message from Burlakoff, she said, that his idea of a speaker program was something else, and they were concerned: It sounded a lot like a bribery scheme.

    But the new reps were right to be worried. The Insys speaker program was central to Insys’ rapid rise as a Wall Street darling, and it was also central to the onslaught of legal troubles that now surround the company. Most notable, seven former top executives, including Burlakoff and the billionaire founder of Insys, John Kapoor, now await trial on racketeering charges in federal court in Boston. The company itself, remarkably, is still operating.

    The reporting for this article involved interviews with, among other sources, seven former Insys employees, among them sales managers, sales reps and an insurance-authorization employee, some of whom have testified before a grand jury about what they witnessed. This account also draws on filings from a galaxy of Insys-related litigation: civil suits filed by state attorneys general, whistle-blower and shareholder suits and federal criminal cases. Some are pending, while others have led to settlements, plea deals and guilty verdicts.

    The opioid crisis, now the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, has evolved significantly over the course of the last two decades. What began as a sharp rise in prescription-drug overdoses has been eclipsed by a terrifying spike in deaths driven primarily by illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids and heroin, with overall opioid deaths climbing to 42,249 in 2016 from 33,091 in 2015. But prescription drugs and the marketing programs that fuel their sales remain an important contributor to the larger crisis. Heroin accounted for roughly 15,000 of the opioid deaths in 2016, for instance, but as many as four out of five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioids.

    By the time Subsys arrived in 2012, the pharmaceutical industry had been battling authorities for years over its role in promoting the spread of addictive painkillers. The authorities were trying to confine opioids to a select population of pain patients who desperately needed them, but manufacturers were pushing legal boundaries — sometimes to the breaking point — to get their products out to a wider market.

    Even as legal penalties accrued, the industry thrived. In 2007, three senior executives of Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in connection with a marketing effort that relied on misrepresenting the dangers of OxyContin, and the company agreed to pay a $600 million settlement. But Purdue continued booking more than $1 billion in annual sales on the drug. In 2008, Cephalon likewise entered a criminal plea and agreed to pay $425 million for promoting an opioid called Actiq and two other drugs “off-label” — that is, for unapproved uses. That did not stop Cephalon from being acquired three years later, for $6.8 billion.

    Subsys and Actiq belong to a class of fentanyl products called TIRF drugs. They are approved exclusively for the treatment of “breakthrough” cancer pain — flares of pain that break through the effects of the longer-acting opioids the cancer patient is already taking around the clock. TIRFs are niche products, but the niche can be lucrative because the drugs command such a high price. A single patient can produce six figures of revenue.

    Fentanyl is extremely powerful — illicitly manufactured variations, often spiked into heroin or pressed into counterfeit pills, have become the leading killers in the opioid crisis — and regulators have made special efforts to restrict prescription fentanyl products. In 2008, for instance, the F.D.A. rebuffed Cephalon’s application to expand the approved use for a TIRF called Fentora; in the company’s clinical trials, the subjects who did not have cancer demonstrated much more addictive behavior and propensity to substance abuse, which are “rarely seen in clinical trials,” F.D.A. officials concluded. An F.D.A. advisory committee reported that, during the trials, some of the Fentora was stolen. The agency later developed a special protocol for all TIRF drugs that required practitioners to undergo online training and certify that they understood the narrow approved use and the risks.

    Despite these government efforts, TIRF drugs were being widely prescribed to patients without cancer. Pain doctors, not oncologists, were the dominant players. This was common knowledge in the industry. Although it is illegal for a manufacturer to promote drugs for off-label use, it is perfectly legal for doctors to prescribe any drug off-label, on their own judgment. This allows drug makers like Insys to use a narrow F.D.A. approval as a “crowbar,” as a former employee put it, to reach a much broader group of people.

    That points to a major vulnerability in policing the opioid crisis: Doctors have a great deal of power. The F.D.A. regulates drug makers but not practitioners, who enjoy a wide latitude in prescribing that pharmaceutical companies can easily exploit. A respected doctor who advocates eloquently for wider prescribing can quickly become a “key opinion leader”; invited out on the lucrative lecture circuit. And any doctor who exercises a free hand with opioids can attract a flood of pain patients and income. Fellow doctors rarely blow the whistle, and some state medical boards exercise timid oversight, allowing unethical doctors to continue to operate. An assistant district attorney coping with opioids in upstate New York told me that it’s easy to identify a pill-mill doctor, but “it can take five years to get to that guy.” In the meantime, drug manufacturers are still seeing revenue, and that doctor is still seeing patients, one after another, day after day.

    Kapoor believed that he had the best product in its class. All the TIRF drugs — for transmucosal immediate-release fentanyl — deliver fentanyl through the mucous membranes lining the mouth or nose, but the specific method differs from product to product. Actiq, the first TIRF drug, is a lozenge on a stick. Cephalon’s follow-up, Fentora — the branded market leader when Subsys arrived — is a tablet meant to be held in the cheek as it dissolves. Subsys is a spray that the patient applies under the tongue. Spraying a fine mist at the permeable mouth floor makes for a rapid onset of action, trials showed.

    Once the F.D.A. gave final approval to Subsys in early 2012, the fate of Insys Therapeutics rested on selling it in the field. The industry still relies heavily on the old-fashioned way of making sales; drug manufacturers blanket the country with representatives who call on prescribers face to face, often coming to develop personal relationships with them over time.

    The speaker events themselves were often a sham, as top prescribers and reps have admitted in court. Frequently, they consisted of a nice dinner with the sales rep and perhaps the doctor’s support staff and friends, but no other licensed prescriber in attendance to learn about the drug. One doctor did cocaine in the bathroom of a New York City restaurant at his own event, according to a federal indictment. Some prescribers were paid four figures to “speak” to an audience of zero.

    One star rep in Florida, later promoted to upper management, told another rep that when she went in search of potential speakers, she didn’t restrict herself to the top names, because, after all, any doctor can write scripts, and “the company does not give a [expletive] where they come from.” (Some dentists and podiatrists prescribed Subsys.) She looked for people, she said, “that are just going through divorce, or doctors opening up a new clinic, doctors who are procedure-heavy. All those guys are money hungry.” If you float the idea of becoming a paid speaker “and there is a light in their eyes that goes off, you know that’s your guy,” she said. (These remarks, recorded by the rep on the other end of the line, emerged in a later investigation.)

    As a result of Insys’s approach to targeting doctors, its potent opioid was prescribed to patients it was never approved to treat — not occasionally, but tens of thousands of times. It is impossible to determine how many Subsys patients, under Kapoor, actually suffered from breakthrough cancer pain, but most estimates in court filings have put the number at roughly 20 percent. According to Iqvia data through September 2016, only 4 percent of all Subsys prescriptions were written by oncologists.

    Insys became the year’s best-performing initial public offering, on a gain of over 400 percent. That December, the company disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the Office of the Inspector General at Health and Human Services, an ominous sign. But a CNBC interviewer made no mention of it when he interviewed Babich a few weeks later. Instead he said, “Tell us what it is about Insys that has investors so excited.”

    In 2014, the doctors each averaged one prescription for a controlled substance roughly every four minutes, figuring on a 40-hour week. A typical pill mill makes its money from patients paying in cash for their appointments, but Ruan and Couch had a different model: A majority of their scripts were filled at a pharmacy adjacent to their clinic called C&R — for Couch and Ruan — where they took home most of the profits. The pharmacy sold more than $570,000 of Subsys in a single month, according to Perhacs’s criminal plea. Together the two men amassed a collection of 23 luxury cars.

    Over dinner, according to the Boston indictment, Kapoor and Babich struck a remarkable agreement with the pharmacists and the doctors, who were operating a clinic rife with opioid addiction among the staff: Insys would ship Subsys directly to C&R Pharmacy. An arrangement like this is “highly unusual” and a “red flag,” according to testimony from a D.E.A. investigator in a related trial. As part of the terms of the deal, the pharmacy would make more money on selling the drug, with no distributor in the loop. And there would be another anticipated benefit for all involved: Everyone could sell more Subsys without triggering an alert to the D.E.A.

    The local medical community felt the impact of the raid. Because refills are generally not allowed on controlled substances, patients typically visited the clinic every month. For days, dozens of them lined up outside in the morning, fruitlessly trying to get prescriptions from the remaining staff or at least retrieve their medical records to take elsewhere. But other providers were either booked up or would not take these patients. “Nobody was willing to give the amount of drugs they were on,” a nurse in the city said. Melissa Costello, who heads the emergency room at Mobile Infirmary, said her staff saw a surge of patients from the clinic in the ensuing weeks, at least a hundred, who were going through agonizing withdrawal.

    Two months after the raid in Mobile, Insys’ stock reached an all-time high.

    Insys itself is still producing Subsys, though sales have fallen considerably. (Overall demand for TIRFs has declined industrywide.) The company is now marketing what it calls the “first and only F.D.A.-approved liquid dronabinol,” a synthetic cannabinoid, and is developing several other new drugs. Some analysts like the look of the company’s pipeline of new drugs and rate the stock a “buy.” In a statement, the company said its new management team consists of “responsible and ethical business leaders” committed to effective compliance. Most of its more than 300 employees are new to the company since 2015, and its sales force is focused on physicians “whose prescribing patterns support our products’ approved indications,” the company said. Insys has ended its speaker program for Subsys.

    #Opioides #Pharmacie #Bande_de_salopards


  • Your Brain’s Music Circuit Has Been Discovered - Facts So Romantic
    http://nautil.us/blog/-your-brains-music-circuit-has-been-discovered

    The discovery that certain neurons have “music selectivity” stirs questions about the role of music in human life. Illustration by Len SmallBefore Josh McDermott was a neuroscientist, he was a club DJ in Boston and Minneapolis. He saw first-hand how music could unite people in sound, rhythm, and emotion. “One of the reasons it was so fun to DJ is that, by playing different pieces of music, you can transform the vibe in a roomful of people,” he says. With his club days behind him, McDermott now ventures into the effects of sound and music in his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is an assistant professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. In 2015, he and a post-doctoral colleague, Sam Norman-Haignere, and Nancy Kanwisher, a professor of cognitive (...)