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July 03, 2012

The amazing story of the Galveston Seawall

At one point, Americans were okay with investing in our infrastructure. With building an America that could be better, even if it meant we had to spend money or raise a temporary tax. It was okay, because the project would make us safer and stronger and more prosperous. Background: In 1900 a terrible hurricane smashed into Galveston, Texas killing over 6,000 people. And the people of Galveston reacted by building a giant seawall and raising their entire city--some parts seventeen feet. Smaller government, smaller dreams, smaller people
More astonishing, and just as moving, was the end of this documentary on the Galveston Hurricane — the account of the city’s audacious plan to rebuild and the execution of that plan. This story is inspiring and depressing. It’s inspiring because they did this — real people really did this. They built a 17-foot-tall seawall along the Gulf side of the island. And then they raised the entire city. More than 500 city blocks. They raised it 17 feet higher nearest the seawall, gradually sloping downward from their all the way to the other side of the island. This involved jacking up every building in the city — mostly by hand. That included a massive stone church, which they lifted with mulepower. Then, with hundreds of buildings raised up to the proper height according to their location in the slope, they pumped in more than 16 million cubic yards of sand and slurry from the shipping channel in the Gulf. This was an amazing feat of engineering and muscle, accomplished more than 100 years ago with hardly any of the technology we would employ if we were ever to attempt such a thing today. And that’s the depressing part. We would never attempt such a thing today. We’re no longer capable of pulling it off. We’re no longer capable of even trying. Consider this account of the rebuilding and re-engineering of Galveston. Consider the scope and audacity of the project — the cost, the labor, the years it took. Does any American city, or America itself, still have the courage, vision or capacity to attempt such a thing? I don’t know. I doubt it.

July 02, 2012

Purdue Pharmaceuticals wants to give the super-addictive opiate Oxycontin to six-year-olds

It's like chewable Flintstone's vitamins plus heroin. What could go wrong? PAINKILLERS FOR KIDS - The Daily
The maker of OxyContin is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to label the controversial painkiller for use by children as young as 6 in a move that could serve to extend the company’s expiring patent on the lucrative drug, The Daily has learned. Purdue Pharma has paid dozens of clinical sites around the country to document what happens when OxyContin, an addictive pharmaceutical widely abused by recreational users, is given to children. The company says that its motivation is to help doctors who currently prescribe the drug off-label to children, a common practice in the treatment of pediatric conditions that involve moderate or severe pain.

GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion settlement for bribing doctors, hiding data from the FDA, and for lying about their products

That is a HUGE settlement. Huge. Wellbutrin, Paxil maker to pay record $3 billion settlement | TPMMuckraker
The mammoth drug maker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay a record $3 billion fraud settlement with the Justice Department in a deal announced Monday about the way the company marketed and sold some of its most popular drugs. The company pleaded guilty to three crimes and agreed to hand over $1 billion for how it marketed the antidepressants Wellbutrin and Paxil and for failing to report some data to the FDA for the diabetes drug Avandia. The Justice Department said the company marketed Wellbutrin as a treatment for a variety of conditions it was never approved for, including sexual problems and drug addiction. It also said the company pushed Paxil as a treatment for people younger than 18 even though it was only approved for adults. GlaxoSmithKline also agreed to pay another $2 billion to settle civil claims about its marketing, including kickbacks that went to doctors who prescribed the company’s drugs.