Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sesame Street explains the Bernie Madoff scandal

You know the country is in crisis when childrens' shows explain what is going on.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New York Times 1999: "The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation"

Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another's businesses.

The measure, considered by many the most important banking legislation in 66 years, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House tonight by 362 to 57. The bill will now be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it, aides said. It would become one of the most significant achievements this year by the White House and the Republicans leading the 106th Congress.

''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.''

The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.


Spelling really doesn't matter. Here's proof.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the human mnid aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BBC: Saving Africa's witch children.

This may be one of the most shocking videos you have ever watched.

This program was aired in the UK on channel 4 on Nov 12th 2008.

It looks at the superstition and poverty, coupled with false Christian teaching in Africa, and the subsequent effect upon the lives of innocent young children.

To know more about Stepping Stones Nigeria that is helping children in Nigeria Africa please go to

Support Stepping Stones Nigeria by making a single or monthly donation at

Palin's African pastor believed in witches. Why is this bad? Watch these two videos.

Thank you to one of my readers for bringing this story to our attention.

Reports of witches in Kenya resulted in eleven people being burned to death. Eight women and three men were attacked by an angry mob and set on fire. The attacks took place in an area of west Kenya where suspicion of witchcraft runs deep.

Neighbours described how a mob, armed with a list of suspected witches, descended on the village in western Kenya.

Their victims - 8 women and 3 men - were set alight, one by one.

Pastor Enock Obiero's wife was among the victims.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A district sales manager for Pfizer convicted of obstruction of justice.

The evidence demonstrated that Thomas Farina instructed his sales representatives on how to change the clock and date setting on the computer, and then alter and re-save documents with off-label information in order to make the sanitized documents appear to have been last modified at an earlier time.

Sentencing has been scheduled for June 11. Farina faces up to 20 years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $ 250,000 fine.

Story on Bnet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Bilderberg Group and a New World Order: Conspiracy thinking or scary reality?

Just how stupid is the SEC? This stupid. Who do you think benefits?

Here's the amazing 19-page letter that was sent to the SEC in November 2005 explaining why Bernard Madoff was a fraud and proved that he ran a Ponzi scheme.

November 2005.

What did the SEC do?


And you're surprised AIG execs just got $160 million bonuses and there was noooooothing the Treasury could do?

One picture says it all: The big disconnect between Big Pharma and its customers.

Nothing could show the disconnect between Big Pharma and its customers more sharply than the chart from the Pharma Marketing blog to the left.

The #1 reason pharma respondents thought pharma has a bad reputation, according to this data, is because drug companies are "not promoting benefits." As a small coincidence this is the least probable reason, according to health care providers, such as doctors. They probably feel they have plenty enough of sales reps and advertising.

So pharma thinks the solution is to promote even more, and the customers just hate the thought of that . . .

Conclusion: People working in Big Pharma have no idea what they're customers think. In another word, they're pretty stupid.

Times: "US senator Charles Grassley suggests AIG executives commit suicide"

As politicians around the world compete to take the toughest stance against banking excesses, one Republican senator has surely taken an unassailable lead. Last night he suggested that AIG executives should take the “Japanese” approach to responsibility and kill themselves.

Charles Grassley, Senator for Iowa, was speaking after it emerged that AIG, the stricken insurance giant, had awarded its staff $165 million in bonuses despite accepting a multi-billion dollar government bailout.

In an interview with a local radio station, Mr Grassley said: “I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them is if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

“And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

Source TimesOnline

Creepy crawler

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

JAMA editors spew venom over "nobody and a nothing" doctor. Senator Grassley, this story is for you.

By David Armstrong, WSJ Health Blog

Editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association, better known as JAMA, can be a little thin-skinned when it comes to outsiders taking issue with studies published in the prestigious medical journal.

Jonathan Leo, a professor of neuro-anatomy at tiny Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., posted a letter on the Web site of the British Medical Journal this month criticizing a study that appeared in JAMA last spring. The study concerned the use of the anti-depressant Lexapro in stroke patients. In addition to identifying what he said was an important omission in the paper — that behavioral therapy worked just as well as the drug when compared head to head in the study — Leo also pointed out that the lead author had a financial relationship with Forest Laboratories, the maker of Lexapro, that was not disclosed in the study.

Leo says he received an angry call from JAMA executive deputy editor Phil Fontanarosa last week, shortly after Leo’s article was published on the BMJ Web site. “He said, ‘Who do you think you are,’ ” says Leo. “He then said, ‘You are banned from JAMA for life. You will be sorry. Your school will be sorry. Your students will be sorry.” Fontanarosa referred a call for comment to a JAMA spokeswoman, who said Leo’s retelling of the conversation was “inaccurate.”

“He did talk to the guy, but he said he didn’t threaten him,” the spokeswoman said. “It was something along the lines of not setting a good example for students. He didn’t say he would be banned. He didn’t think Leo was taking a very good approach by taking this confidential process within JAMA out to media and another medical journal. It’s just not the way things are handled here.”

The call from Fontanarosa was followed up by ones from JAMA editor-in-chief Catherine DeAngelis to Leo’s superiors, Leo says. He said she asked his superiors to get him to retract his article in the BMJ. Leo says he decided to call DeAngelis directly to find out what, in particular, she might be objecting to. He said she was “very upset” but didn’t make specific complaints about the article.

In a conversation with us, DeAngelis was none too happy to be questioned about the dust-up with Leo.

“This guy is a nobody and a nothing” she said of Leo. “He is trying to make a name for himself. Please call me about something important.” She added that Leo “should be spending time with his students instead of doing this.”

When asked if she called his superiors and what she said to them, DeAngelis said “it is none of your business.” She added that she did not threaten Leo or anyone at the school.

Leo says he notified JAMA five months ago about the problem of the lead author not disclosing his financial relationship with Forest Labs. In this week’s edition of JAMA, a letter from the author, Robert Robinson, was published in which he acknowledged his financial relationship with Forest and apologized for the lack of disclosure.

“Although Forest Laboratories provided honoraria and expenses through their speakers’ bureau for Robinson, neither the design, analysis, or any of the expenses (including the cost of medications) of our study were supported by monies, materials, or any intellectual input from Forest Laboratories,” wrote Robinson, the head of the psychiatry department at the University of Iowa, and a co-author. “We sincerely regret this lack of transparency in our initial disclosures that resulted from these errors of memory.”

Robinson did not return a telephone message left at his office. Forest Labs said Robinson was a member of the company’s speaker’s bureau from 2004-2005. It would not say how much it paid him. In addition, Forest would not say if it has any research or other financial relationships with Robinson’s medical school.

Friday, March 13, 2009

""It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, . . .

. . . I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

-Henry Ford

This is what Henry Ford knew.

Stewart kills off Cramer and CNBC

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Aimee Mullins

WSJ: Laid off and looking

There is a new blog over at the WSJ. And I discovered this one when I was bitching about the new format of WSJ blogs . . . it is actually a pretty interesting bold attempt to give people what they want to read, and considering that a large part of the WSJ's readers are now unemployed, here it is: Laid off and looking.

I just hate the new format of the WSJ blogs.

In the past the WSJ Health blog was good reading. Unfortunately no more. Every time you want to read a lousy tiny little blog post you have to click on the headline, since only the first few lines show up. Of course, this is a great way to multiply the number of page loads generated by the WSJ blogs, which in turn translates into advertising dollars and makes it look like everyone is doing a great job. But it doesn't make for a great reading experience and leads to me skipping most of the actual reading.

Stewart kicks CNBC's butt and Cramer's forecasting. This is MUST watch TV

Hat tip: PharmaGossip

Monday, March 09, 2009

From March 4, Shearlings got Plowed blog . . . ducks being lined up!

Yet ANOTHER $3.4 million -- for Schering-Plough CEO Hassan, Tonight.

And 2009 proxy-and-pay season is just barely underway, here! Wow!

In a just-filed Form 4, CEO Fred Hassan has received $3.4 million -- at the February 27, 2009 grant valuation date. These phantom units are equivalent to common shares, except that they are payable in cash, as soon as he leaves the company. This is yet another Hans Becherer-engineered golden parachute.

[In passing, I'll note that each of Messrs. Bertolini, Cheeley, Kohan, Saunders, Sabatino (who already received an unscheduled $500,000, in cash in December 2008 -- about three months ago!), and Ms. Cox received between $1 million, and $1.2 million worth of identical phantom units, as well. Over $9 million in the aggregate, just from this one pot. Sheesh!]

All of the Schering-Plough team members who were severed in 2008 should take a very close look at these figures -- how many of your salaries would have been covered by a renunciation of just this portion of the "Top Six's" 2008 pay package? And for how many YEARS? [Where is the Annual Shareholders' Meeting, this year? Show up! -- Speak out! -- Act up!]:

195,610 Phantom Stock Units. . . . Price: $17.39. . . .

. . . .Each unit of phantom stock is the economic equivalent of one share of common stock. The units of phantom stock will be held in the Issuer's Phantom Stock Fund under the Issuer's non-qualified deferred compensation plan, and will become payable, in cash, following the reporting person's termination of service. . . .

So -- no performance-based pay is present in any of these phantom shares -- and thus they are simply [another] $3.4 million "golden parachute" -- to Hassan, and the top six.

What possible motivational engine is served here, on top of the more than $30 million Mr. Hassan has already been granted by the Board's Compensation Committee? Really -- what purpose do these latest phantom stock units serve? Cue Mr. Becherer (the chair of that committee). [Crickets chirping. . . .]

Comments on Merck's Schering-Plough acquisition BEFORE it took place.

Schering purchase?

-This would be horrid! I have had the "pleasure" of working at this shithole of a company. The people at Schering are trash, the management is worse...(especially the rejects from Bayer) we would be acquiring a bunch of egotistical, unethical, lazy asses who don't do their jobs and find someone else to blame it on. SAY IT ISN'T SO!

-I am certain that Merck employees are no better. Pharma is shit period.

-oh they are trust me, I have worked for both companies. Schering is the Toilet of pharma. No morals, no ethics, no integrity, it's the worst and there is a ton od dead weight there. With the NCM their people would be lost because they would actually have to talk to customers and follow rules... most of them cannot tell their ass from a hole in the ground!

-SP HQ guy here. I am a analyst and can see the writing on the wall. JnJ, or Merck is unknown. Take over by one of them is certain with announcement by spring. You read it here first. If you want my guess then probably will be broken up where both companies get something. This is not good for SP and I hope it does not happen.

And some people think CafePharma isn't good for getting the news ahead of the stock market.

These are the guys buying Schering-Plough.

Merck Executive Pay: $36 million, Use of Private Jet, Cash Bonuses Despite Failures
By Jim Edwards | March 6th, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

The top five executives at Merck took home $36 million in compensation last year. All received cash bonuses of between $563,767 and $2.2 million even though two of them had “below-target performance,” according to a Merck filing with the SEC. They also got to use the corporate jet, and so did their wives.

The largesse came despite the fact that Merck’s sales declined 3 percent from $6.2 billion to $6 billion, and the company’s stock fell by 50 percent, from $60.55 to $30.40. Net income was “up,” but only on paper. If you take out the $4.5 billion Vioxx settlement from 2007, then net income declined 49 percent for the year, to $1.9 million. The company also laid off 8,400 people.

Nonetheless, all four of Merck’s top execs received cash bonuses. Here’s a table of their total compensation:

CEO Richard Clark got $19.9 million, up from $19.6 million
CFO Peter Kellogg got $3.8 million, up from $1.2 million
R&D President Peter Kim got $4.2 million, down from $6.2 million
Global Health President Kenneth Frazier got $5.5 million, down from $5.6 million
General Counsel Bruce Kuhlik got $2.6 million (he was not a “named” exec last year)
Kim and Frazier’s compensation declined, but they still received cash bonuses of $875,023 and $986,155, respectively, despite what the company described as “below-target performance” from both of them.

The proxy also gives the execs the following:

Limited personal use of Company aircraft if approved by the Chief Executive Officer…An executive’s spouse may accompany the executive…

There’s an explanation for why Merck executive pay continues to go up even though the company goes down: It’s because Merck’s board uses a flawed compensation model.

Merck employs a compensation consultant, Towers Perrin HR Services, to help the company calculate executive base pay and total cash compensation. The company’s policy is to set executive pay at “the 50th percentile (median)” of comparable executive pay at “peer” companies. Those companies surveyed by Towers Perrin are: Merck, Abbott Laboratories, Amgen, Astra Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman-LaRoche, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Schering-Plough, and Wyeth.

You’ll notice that list contains 14 companies — an even number. This means that there is no “median” on the list; it would fall between the seventh and eighth company. The way to resolve a median in an even-numbered list is to take the mid-point between the two middle items.

The problem is that the next time you look for the median among the 14 companies, it now lies at the slightly higher mid-point between the seventh company which moved itself up to the median/mid-point and the eighth company, above it. That’s exactly what happened in 2007 when Clark’s pay was below the 50th percentile, and it was moved up to compensate.

This problem is exacerbated because every company on the list is performing a similar operation: Some will have a policy of wanting to pay a premium for the “best” execs, above the 50th percentile, and some will simply want to match their peers. But with everyone either matching or beating their peers, the median compensation number — the mid-point between companies seven and eight on the ranking, only ever moves higher, no matter how badly they perform.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

When your family is fighting, do the Myers Briggs test with them and you'll learn why they are all nuts.

For those of you who are familiar with Myers Briggs personality test, (you missed out on understanding humanity if you don't), here's a prayer:

ISTJ: Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.
ISTP: God help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.
ESTP: God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually NOT my fault.
ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.
ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.
ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don't mind my asking).
ESFP: God help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.
ESFJ: God give me patience, and I mean right NOW.
INFJ: Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)
INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta
ENFP: God,help me to keep my mind on one th-Look a bird-ing at a time.
ENFJ: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?
INTJ: Lord keep me open to others' ideas, WRONG though they may be.
INTP: Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
ENTP: Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes.
ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwatIdo.

When will we hit financial bottom? Probably not for a long time . . .

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Big Pharma loses key Supreme Court case

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority in Wednesday’s decision, Wyeth v. Levine, No. 06-1249, said Congress could have required pre-emption in the case but had not. “Evidently,” he said, “it determined that widely available state rights of action provided appropriate relief for injured consumers.”

NY Times

Follow Peter Rost on Twitter

"What we need to do is make examples of a couple of doctors so that their colleagues see that this isn’t worth it."

-Department of Justice, New York Times.

Tennis, antisemitism, trains and drunks in Sweden.

So I'm spending a week in Sweden doing talks about the drug industry but that's not what I'm going to write about.

Today on the front page of the Swedish newspaper I read for breakfast a Jewish woman declared that she no longer felt safe living in Sweden. I understood what she was talking about because I just spent two nights at the hotel which hosts the Israeli Davis Cup tennis players in Malmö.

The hotel was filled with young males in civilian clothes and backpacks carrying red cards around their necks and they all looked at me supiciously as I entered or left the hotel. Apparently they were part of SÄPO, the Swedish Secret Service.

Another bunch of musculous men carried yellow cards, some of whom looked like US secret service but spoke British English.

It could all have been part of a John le Carré novel.

My cab driver who had an accent and didn't look Swedish had a hard time parking in front of the hotel and was almost not allowed to wait for me in the lobby until I pleaded on his behalf and got my coat.

The entire place reeked of testosterone.

Apparently about 10,000 demonstrators against Israel are expected and also some significant violence.

The politicians have not made things much better by directing that, based on security concerns, the players will play without an audience.

And a local union boss today said that security can't be guaranteed so he will close down the entire event unless someone removes all the lose cobble stones and debris from roadwork outside the stadium.

Unfortunately none of this is a reflection of what most Swedes think, but this will obviously color the perception foreigners have of Sweden.

Malmo, however, was beautiful and the audience I spoke to great; the only thing I missed during my stay was an Internet connection at the Radisson SAS hotel. I actually have a better connection on the train writing this, than I ever had at the hotel.

The trains in Sweden are a joy compared to the US ones, clean, quiet and inexpensive. The hotels, not so much joy,, at least not when it comes to Internet.

The only downside with the cheap fare as far as the train goes is that this means that even if you buy a first class ticket there may be surprises you'd only encounter in Russia. Right now a gentleman to the right has placed two large bottles of beer in front of himself and to ensure enough impact he is mixing them with a bottle of vodka.

He's already finished half the vodka bottle, which he hides inside his jacket when the conductor passes by.

The Swedish drunks . . . I'd almost forgotten about them.

Another memorable week.

Hopefully the Internet works in my next hotel. Otherwise I guess I'll have to go back on a train.

Still it is great to be back in beautiful Sweden and the drunk was just escorted off the train.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pfizer monitoring Harvard medical students?

An October 2008 photograph of a Pfizer sales representative taking a picture of students on the Harvard Medical School campus demonstrating against pharmaceutical company influence.

Story in New York Times today.