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Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

CNN has a very unnerving report about some crazy loophole, government meets private sector dealings.

First, doctors as PR people:

Internal company documents show that Pfizer and Pharmacia (which Pfizer later bought) used a multimillion-dollar medical education budget to pay hundreds of doctors as speakers and consultants to tout Bextra.

Pfizer said in court that “the company’s intent was pure”: to foster a legal exchange of scientific information among doctors.

But an internal marketing plan called for training physicians “to serve as public relations spokespeople.”

According to Lewis Morris, chief counsel to the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “They pushed the envelope so far past any reasonable interpretation of the law that it’s simply outrageous.”

Pfizer’s chief compliance officer, Doug Lanker, said that “in a large sales force, successful sales techniques spread quickly,” but that top Pfizer executives were not aware of the “significant mis-promotion issue with Bextra” until federal prosecutors began to show them the evidence.

By April 2005, when Bextra was taken off the market, more than half of its $1.7 billion in profits had come from prescriptions written for uses the FDA had rejected.

Second, fake companies to get through legal issues:

“We have to ask whether by excluding the company [from Medicare and Medicaid], are we harming our patients,” said Lewis Morris of the Department of Health and Human Services.

So Pfizer and the feds cut a deal. Instead of charging Pfizer with a crime, prosecutors would charge a Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc.

A couple of thoughts.

If the federal government ever wonders again why the public doesn’t trust them/listen to them the officials need to review this situation.  It’s just crazy that the bailouts of all these financial entities went against major popular opinion and really didn’t end up solving problems (I know, that’s debatable…).   In the aftermath the government came out and said how tough they were going to be with people that abuse taxpayers.   So, now in this case….

“If we prosecute Pfizer, they get excluded,” said Mike Loucks, the federal prosecutor who oversaw the investigation. “A lot of the people who work for the company who haven’t engaged in criminal activity would get hurt.”

Did the punishment fit the crime? Pfizer says yes.

It paid nearly $1.2 billion in a criminal fine for Bextra, the largest fine the federal government has ever collected.

It paid a billion dollars more to settle a batch of civil suits — although it denied wrongdoing — on allegations that it illegally promoted 12 other drugs.

In all, Pfizer lost the equivalent of three months’ profit.

It maintained its ability to do business with the federal government.

The Obama administration should take a stand on this because all the new health care reform is likely to stimulate more of this type of activity – strange dealings with the government.   This situation is exactly why I want either a completely private health care system OR universal one.  This hybrid system is just terrible.  We’ll see more of this as long as their are big government programs that use private companies with profit incentives.   I don’t think it’s bad to profit driven, I just think it’s dangerous when it’s the government handling the relationship, and not the customers.

And maybe the fed prosecutor was right in that a lot of people will get hurt for holding Pfizer accountable… but I just don’t see how that’s a justification for letting them off the hook.   Ends don’t justify the means and all that.

And this is the zinger:

“I worry that the money is so great,” he [Loucks] said, that dealing with the Department of Justice may be “just of a cost of doing business.”

Oh, I’m sure that’s already true.

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It wasn’t real news the other day, but it is now.  Balloon Boy – a series of hoaxes.  First the original hoax, now the authorities “misleading” the media to “keep the trust” of the Heenes.  So now how do you go on to nail someone for lying and then use lies to trap them in their lies?

As I said the other day there are some serious issues with TV news and the real time web.  It’s clear that few folks stepped away from the situation to really consider what was going on.   It’s pretty easy to blame the Heenes.  BUT…. Media (broadcasters and consumers) created the Heenes.   So… how will we all approach these situations in the future?   Instead of news and real time web being a stiff wind to fan the flames, how can it turn into machinery to get at the facts/truth faster? Is it even possible to be REAL TIME and get to the facts?  (I don’t think so)

If new media doesn’t figure this out, which only happens when consumers demand it, we’ll see oddities like this becoming far less odd and it will get harder to decipher what’s a serious situation and what isn’t.

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For fun, let’s see who’s got the most accurate projected path.

CNN

Accuweather

National Hurricane Center

Ok, so the graphics side by side don’t really give you a way to gauge this… dig around.

The infographics and surrounding stories love to promote “worst case” even if that worst case really isn’t likely.  No one will read the stories and visit these sites if the authors don’t keep the hint of major land impact. Duh.  The trouble with this kind of news reporting is that it becomes hard to trust these graphics and stories if they stretch the facts and the worst case scenario doesn’t come to pass.  Methinks this is part of the issue the news media has when the public doesn’t respond when a storm is actually on target for a population center. Then again, if you don’t report worst case scenario, no one pays attention until it’s too late.

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A nice example of how the 24/7 “news” cycle forces the media to generate news to fill in the blog posts and airwaves.

Media personnel far outnumber the David Letterman protestors.

Pretty hilarious picture.  Not so hilarious when this stuff is taking coverage away from actual issues… like health care reform, Iran, North Korea, a couple trillion in government spending….

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I wonder if I can break from the flow in this blog to posit a response on the CNN article

When any argument used results in the personification of the brain as an entity that ‘does’ things, the value of your verbal behavior to others gets minimalized. Brains are cellular matter that behave according to cellular chemistry and physics without any agency toward purpose, function, or order.”

Please don’t follow the crowd and use words as if they don’t matter. Furthermore, avoid the crowd’s focus on monocausality, absolutes and Newtonian cause and effect chain-link logic. You are involved with an organ that has roughly 100 billion neural cells with 10 million attachments to each one. Noodle that if you will! The number of permutations for what is going on in the brain as a billion fibers fire in and out of synchrony with other patterns is difficult to deal with. Using simplistic metaphors is what the crowd does. Metaphors may sound succinct but they reduce the reader’s ability to grasp the enormity of the problems involved in every aspect. Behavior::neural activity::genetics::the environment and their reciprocities are complex. The subject matter has a “wow” factor but it also has a history littered with charlatans, elixir salesman and worse. Don’t follow the crowd but instead, select the empirical path rather than the path of myth, magic and dualism.

No, these observations reported by CNN don’t abstract well.  They don’t do much but imply that a correlation is as good as a ‘cause.’ Pity. Correlations are the basis of fMRIs.

The brain doesn’t show that people fear being different. The brain shows patterns of firings that people with letters and research project numbers after their name interpret one way or another. You still have to listen and read and evaluate what they say, write and interpret.

  • How did the brain come to fire the way it did (in that area, at that amplitude, and pattern)?
  • What impact did neural plasticity have on the firings?
  • What do the fMRI readings represent?
  • Is the same firing pattern seen in Budapest or Pogo to that stimuli?
  • Is it true of Paraná tribe members and Malaysian sea nomads?

We are like others in groups or organizations because we are both reinforced and punished over time for our behavior in relation to their behavior. We recognize similarities (selectively) and as long as they don’t conflict with our other (selected) valued belief systems, we “relate” to that group. We diverge from social group convention for the same reasons. What is constant are the changes in the flow of what we value or what we relate to in those and other groups we attend to…which is also conditioned.

To show the degree that things are controlled by consequences, invite a Shiite to speak at your church mission group or invite a goyim to participate in the next Hasidic  law review. Watch the group behavior.  Of course these are extremes to show an effect.  But there are subtle abstractions as well… Bring your close friends, the ones who love you for who you are… to a Monster Truck Rally.   Social contingencies are powerful!  

That is one way to explain why some people are Green Bay Packer fans and some are Oakland Raider fans. Each sees things they value in their group and don’t value in the other’s group. Those ‘things’ are also conditioned by the contingencies the different fans were exposed to in the past.

How else does one explain being a Raider fan?

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Alexandra Penney is featured on CNN today.

Public reaction to her reaction to having her “life savings” wiped by the Madoff situation surprised her.

This is a great example of how the rules we all play by are specific to our own contexts/situations in life.

In reading the CNN piece and Penney’s writing you might say:

  • God, she still has a lot of money
  • Why would anyone fall for Madoff
  • Madoff isn’t in jail?!
  • Why do ponzi schemes work?
  • What a whiner
  • Madoff should rot in hell

Penney seems to be really offended. The justice seems to be really light on Madoff.  Madoff seems to have really had a lot of people who trusted him.

Our perceptions of that reality are 100% dependent on our own history.  We will almost always be surprised by others reactions in such conflicting contexts.

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Here are all the compilations from the major news sources for your viewing, reading, commenting pleasure.

What is your favorite moment from 2008?

What was left out of these reviews?

TechCrunch Gadgets of the Year

Time’s Person of the Year

CNN’s year in review

Time’s inventions of the year

Time’s best websites of the year

Time’s Top 10 Everything in 2008

Time’s Top 10 Viral Videos

Yahoo’s Year in Review

Google’s 2008 Zeitgeist

Scientific American Top 10 Science Stories

MSN Entertainment Year in Review

People’s Best of 2008

National Geographics Top 10 News Stories of 2008

VH1’s Best Year Ever

New York Times Best Books of 2008

Rolling Stone’s Albums of The Year

Intel Corps Press Release of 2008 Highlights

NPR Music Year in Review

NPR Best Books of 2008

SI’s Sports Photos of the Year

[I need to find the various sports year in review as well as more music and entertainment.  Ok, fine more politics too…]

More to come as I comb through them.

They are heavily weighted towards the end of the year and they don’t all include the SHOE THROWING?!  Goodness.

I also notice that Hurricane IKE and the like 19 storms that blew through Cuba couldn’t compete with Obama, Mumbai, Earthquakes, Britney Spears and LHC.  Now that’s what helluva a news year when Houston gets blown off the map and we can’t even remember if that was this year or last year.

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