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News Briefs 14-04-2014

Part of today’s news briefs were inspired by Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Complete Series (58 hours, 11 DVDs), which has a richly-deserved five-star rating at Amazon US & UK.

A big thanks to Perceval and Greg for loads of links.

Quote of the Day:

We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. It is clear [fossil-fuel energy companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.

Desmond Tutu

  1. End of Big Oil
    I included that story as part of my Red Pills of the Week on Mysterious Universe, precisely due to its implications beyond its intended purpose to free Navy ships from fuel dependency.

    My guess is that the EM rail-gun, also developed by the Navy & also being reported last week, was what made this other story go unnoticed.

  2. Capitalism is broken . . . damn right it is.
    Here’s another perversion of capitalism that I have had the (mis)fortune to observe firsthand in the biotech industry.

    A small group of doctors and medical researchers dreams up a drug or device. They incorporate and a prototype is cooked up for FDA R&D (not final marketing) approval. After approval, the group goes to the capital markets with an IPO/stock offering to raise money to develop and test the product. Money is raised (the markets seem to just love pharma), the founders give themselves generous salaries and perks from the money raised, and some half-baked lab for R&D is set up (generally understaffed with no sense of urgency for product development). Development is always being touted as “promising” but taking longer than expected so, guess what, back to the capital markets to raise more money that again goes mainly to enrich the founders.

    A scenario hoped for by some of these firms is that they can string along like this until a big pharma company eventually swoops in to buy them out with a mountain of cash because it wants to develop a drug or device of its own in that class. That often doesn’t happen, however, because the product’s potential efficacy is somewhat questionable to begin with. Others are content to just keep going back to the capital markets until the stock finally and inevitably tanks. By that time the founders have added substantially to their personal wealth and move on to a new drug scheme with a new company. Nobody cares that the original drug or device will never come to market except for the stockholders left holding the bag.

    The price for this capital market scam falls on all the investors who held onto the stock hoping for a big payoff someday. The smart money played the stock in the very early days when it was still rising, then got out quick with a profit.

    I’ve seen this self-enrichment scenario played out at two firms. I should note that at one, this was aided and abetted by a well-known market analyst who touted the stock (I read the BS he put out about it). Its stock is now under water. At the second firm the FDA got wind of its original approved product being dumped in favor of something more glamorous sounding to the capital markets (but unapproved) and put a stop to everything.

    Please note that in the end, a small handful of people scammed a lot of money from investors for nothing at all ever being produced or ever intended to be produced (no profit whatsoever from sale of an actual product). I wonder what the cabal of free market economists would say to justify this.

    1. fraud
      Just one of many kinds of legalized fraud in our economic system.

      But this has little to do with the ground-breaking economic research being reported in these news-brief articles:

      Occupy was right: Capitalism simply isn’t working and here are the reasons why. More details.

      An immodest proposal: A global tax on the superrich. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is available at Amazon US/Kindle & UK/Kindle.

      Piketty hasn’t come up with a new economic theory. He’s scientifically proven why/how all previous economic theories are wrong.

      Economists of every persuasion, worldwide, are stunned by his discovery.

      This is why this news deserved so many links in today’s news briefs.

  3. Homeless Jesus

    What a fantastic sculpture. How simply it conveys the whole meaning of Christianity –which is probably why it caused such strong, negative reaction from those wealthy people who like to think themselves as Christians.

  4. Speaking of Hubris..
    I do wish that Dr. Plait would hand some of that modesty over to Dr. deGrasse Tyson – who still hasn’t apologised for or corrected his howler of a while back, that the sun always sets in the west as seen from the earth’s equator.

    Terri in Joburg

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