"Johnson & Johnson to pay $417m in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer" by Michael Balsamo Associated Press August 21, 2017
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.
The verdict in the lawsuit brought by the California woman, Eva Echeverria, marks the largest sum awarded in a series of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in courts around the U.S.
Echeverria alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about talcum powder’s potential cancer risks. She used the company’s baby powder on a daily basis beginning in the 1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to court papers.
Echeverria developed ovarian cancer as a ‘‘proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder,’’ she said in her lawsuit.
Echeverria’s attorney, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while hospitalized and told him she hoped the verdict would lead Johnson & Johnson to put additional warnings on its products.
‘‘Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,’’ Robinson said.
‘‘She really didn’t want sympathy,’’ he added. ‘‘She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.’’
Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company will appeal the jury’s decision. She says while the company sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer that scientific evidence supports the safety of Johnson’s baby powder.
The verdict came after a St. Louis, Missouri jury in May awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
She had blamed her illness on her use of the company’s talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years.
Besides that case, three other trials in St. Louis had similar outcomes last year — with juries awarding damages of $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, for a combined total of $307.6 million.
Another St. Louis jury in March rejected the claims of a Tennessee woman with ovarian and uterine cancer who blamed talcum powder for her cancers.
Two similar cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not presented reliable evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.
More than 1,000 other people have filed similar lawsuits. Some who won their lawsuits won much lower amounts, illustrating how juries have wide latitude in awarding monetary damages.
Johnson & Johnson is preparing to defend itself and its baby powder at upcoming trials in the U.S., Goodrich said.
Related: Johnson & Johnson says its drug shouldn’t be used to kill prisoners
They care more about them than the women and the children, and this is no longer working for me, sorry.
The one thing that might keep you up:
"Businesses fret over Congress’ ability to avoid debt default" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff August 21, 2017
WASHINGTON — Despite President Trump’s swirl of controversies, August still has a sleepy feel inside Washington’s beltway, where the business of government has slowed. Bosses, including the 535 members of Congress, are out of town. Lunches are long. To-do lists short.
But there’s a chill creeping down K Street, disturbing the summer doldrums for lobbyists.
Business leaders are warily eyeing an approaching deadline to raise the debt ceiling, a statutory limit controlled by Congress on the amount of money the United States can borrow to pay its outstanding bills.
Congress has flirted with debt defaults in recent years, but this is the first time the issue has cropped up on Trump’s watch. The fall deadline also comes after Congress’s bruising failure to replace the Affordable Care Act, erosion in the president’s relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and the severe fallout over Trump’s response to racial violence in Charlottesville, Va.
"The Senate’s health committee will hold two hearings early next month on how the nation’s individual health insurance marketplaces can be stabilized. GOP and Democratic leaders are exploring whether they can craft a bipartisan but limited bill aimed at curbing rising premiums for people who buy their own insurance. In many markets, consumers are seeing steeply rising premiums and fewer insurers willing to sell policies. A Sept. 6 hearing will feature state insurance commissioners. The next day’s witnesses will be governors. Both groups will be bipartisan. The push for even a modest compromise on Obamacare is expected to be difficult....."
I'm sure the in$urance companies will get their bailout.
McConnell, speaking at an event in Kentucky Monday, insisted that the Republican-led Congress will act. ‘‘There is zero chance — no chance — we will not raise the debt ceiling,’’ McConnell said.
The Treasury Department says the limit must be raised by Sept. 29 or the federal government risks defaulting on its debts, a never-before breach the exact consequences of which are unknown but which experts agree probably would trigger economic calamity, and not just in the United States. Stocks would plunge, interest rates could soar, and a deep recession might result.
This has the feeling of the TARP bailout B$!
“The stakes are incredibly high. We’re monitoring this extremely closely and, along with others in the business community, we’ll mobilize if needed,” said Rob Nichols, CEO of the American Bankers Association, though he said his expectation is that “thoughtful and responsible decisions will be made.”
If the bankers want it, it $hall be achieved!
A second task also lies ahead: Before that Sept. 29 debt deadline, Congress also must renew funding for the government to avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers have 12 workdays scheduled in September once they get back after Labor Day, making for a potential nail-biter in the second half of the month.
“We are very concerned,” said Anthony Cimino, senior vice president and head of government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents financial services companies. While previous rounds of debt-ceiling standoffs have been resolved and disaster avoided right at deadline, “I don’t believe we should be taking anything for granted.’’
“Failure to raise the debt ceiling would be a major unforced error which could have terrible consequences for US financial markets and the economy,” said J.D. Foster, senior vice president of the economic policy division and chief economist of the US Chamber of Commerce, the biggest business lobby in town, which has been among the most active pressing the issue with key lawmakers. “The fact is nobody can say with confidence what would happen, but the risk and danger is such that no one can responsibly suggest a justification for not raising the debt ceiling on a timely basis.”
Yup, keep digging that hole taxpayers will never be able too fill.
Once a routine vote, raising the debt ceiling has become one of Washington’s most politically fraught exercises, a perennial flash point in the ideological government spending and debt wars.
During Barack Obama’s White House tenure, conservatives started using the need to raise the spending cap as leverage to press for spending cuts to rein in the country’s ever-growing debt. In 2011, the standoff led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating from its coveted AAA status.
Didn't they screw up the MBS and CDO ratings?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pushed Congress to pass a so-called “clean” debt-limit increase, free of other policy changes, and unsuccessfully tried to prod lawmakers to do it before the August recess. But the message has been mixed from elsewhere in the White House: Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, made comments supporting a debt ceiling increase with riders designed to spur “spending reforms.” Earlier this month, he reversed course and said he, too, supports Congress passing “the simplest debt ceiling increase we can get.”
But there is reason to worry that the political standoff could be more intense than ever this year, some observers say. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are making noise about demanding various policy priorities as a condition for voting on an increase. Among those demands are making as much as $250 billion in spending cuts and including a complicated set of changes that would require Treasury to prioritize spending on debt payments over everything else as the debt ceiling nears, while authorizing the president to sell assets to keep the debt under that limit.
Yes, the bankers and wealthy bond-holders must get paid first!
Yet those are unlikely to fly with Democrats, who will very likely be needed to raise the ceiling in the Senate since it will require 60 votes, unless GOP leaders decide to use a complex procedure known as reconciliation.
I can see that after the Supreme Court confirmation of Gorsuch.
On top of that, the players are different than in debt ceiling negotiations in the recent past. With a Republican in the White House, Democrats have less incentive to play nice and get this done. Some Democrats have signaled they want their own policy concessions — such as funding payments to insurance companies that provide plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges to cover the costs of deductibles and co-pays for low-income policyholders.
Yeah, screw the country for politics.
And they wonder why they don't win elections?
“You are lacking a lot of the so-called adults in the room this time,” said Chris Krueger, a Washington analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group. And in certain cases, “the actors who are on the same team are throwing haymakers at one another in the press,” he added, nodding to the criticisms exchanged last week between McConnell and Trump.
McConnell sparked the intraparty drama when he chided Trump for having “excessive expectations” about how quickly Congress can move legislation, which he credited to Trump’s status as a political neophyte. Trump did not take the criticism well: He launched days of Twitter insults at McConnell over his failure to move Trump’s agenda, especially repealing the Affordable Care Act.
How odd! I was led to believe that it was Trump who initiated it!
Trump, in particular, injects an added element of uncertainty, lobbyists say. He could prove to be an asset in prodding reluctant conservative Republicans to vote to lift the cap. But he also could just as easily shoot off a tweet or off-the-cuff comment that undermines deal-making on the Hill, as happened during the health care debate.
Given the stakes and Democrats’ past criticism of their GOP colleagues for trying to hold the debt ceiling hostage, Isaac Boltansky, an analyst with Compass Point Research & Trading, figures the debt ceiling will get raised, cleanly, with the help of Democrats in September. But he thinks the odds are pretty good that Congress won’t reach a funding deal in time to keep the government from shutting down.
They know who are their ma$ters.
A shutdown carries its own economic consequences: For instance, the 16-day shutdown in 2013 cost the US economy $24 billion in lost economic output, according to an S&P estimate.
But Boltansky says a shutdown this fall could have an additional “psychological impact” that could, among other things, stall that strong stock market performance Trump enjoys bragging about.
I'll check those later.
“If Congress can’t keep the lights on, how are they going to pass tax reform and infrastructure and all of the other things?” said Boltansky.
On the debt ceiling, some in the business community are more sanguine than others. One financial industry executive said he felt confident that White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, Mnuchin, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and McConnell all understand the stakes and will figure out how to raise the debt ceiling.
“Maybe it gets done later than we would like . . . [but] this gets done,” the executive said.
"McConnell, in private, doubts if Trump can save presidency" by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin New York Times August 22, 2017
The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.
He shall be impeached!
What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Trump’s Cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and McConnell mobilizing to their defense.
The rupture between Trump and McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is little room for legislative error.
Then it will all be done so quickly you won't even see it!
A protracted government shutdown or a default on sovereign debt could be disastrous — for the economy and for the party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.
Yet Trump and McConnell are locked in a political cold war. Neither man would comment for this story. Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, noted that the senator and the president had “shared goals,” and pointed to “tax reform, infrastructure, funding the government, not defaulting on the debt, passing the defense authorization bill.”
Still, the back-and-forth has been dramatic.
Ah, the DRAMA!
In a series of tweets this month, Trump criticized McConnell publicly, then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.
Makes it sound like Trump initiated it!
During the call, which Trump initiated Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.
McConnell has fumed over Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.
In offhand remarks, McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Trump’s presidency might be headed and has mused about whether Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.
That is where my print copy ended it. They practically have Trump out the door.
While maintaining a pose of public reserve, McConnell expressed horror to advisers last week after Trump’s comments equating white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., with protesters who rallied against them. Trump’s most explosive remarks came at a news conference in Manhattan, where he stood beside Chao. (Chao, deflecting a question about the tensions between her husband and the president she serves, told reporters, “I stand by my man — both of them.)
McConnell signaled to business leaders that he was deeply uncomfortable with Trump’s comments: Several who resigned advisory roles in the Trump administration contacted McConnell’s office after the fact, and were told that McConnell fully understood their choices, three people briefed on the conversations said.
Trump has also continued to badger and threaten McConnell’s Senate colleagues, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, whose Republican primary challenger was praised by Trump on Twitter last week.
“Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!”
Trump was set to hold a campaign rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, and Republicans feared he would use the event to savage Flake again.
I don't know if he did or not.
If he does, senior Republican officials said the party’s senators would stand up for their colleague. A Republican “super PAC” aligned with McConnell released a web ad on Tuesday assailing Flake’s Republican rival, Kelli Ward, as a fringe-dwelling conspiracy theorist.
Then they must be on to something to be insulted in such a way.
“When it comes to the Senate, there’s an Article 5 understanding: An attack against one is an attack against all,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who has found himself in Trump’s sights many times, invoking the NATO alliance’s mutual defense doctrine.
The fury among Senate Republicans toward Trump has been building since last month, even before he lashed out at McConnell. Some of them blame the president for not being able to rally the party around any version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, accusing him of not knowing even the basics about the policy. Senate Republicans also say strong-arm tactics from the White House backfired, making it harder to cobble together votes and have left bad feelings in the caucus.
When Trump addressed a Boy Scouts jamboree last month in West Virginia, White House aides told Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from the state whose support was in doubt, that she could only accompany him on Air Force One if she committed to voting for the health care bill. She declined the invitation, noting that she could not commit to voting for a measure she had not seen, according to Republican briefed on the conversation.
The Congre$$ critters vote on things they haven't seen all the time so that is nothing but a cop out, and the Boy Scouts thing was just a fluke.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told colleagues that when Trump’s Interior secretary threatened to pull back federal funding for her state, she felt boxed in and unable to vote for the health care bill.
In a show of solidarity, albeit one planned well before Trump took aim at Flake, McConnell will host a $1,000-per-person dinner Friday in Kentucky for the Arizona senator, as well as for Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is also facing a Trump-inspired primary race next year, and Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska. Flake is expected to attend the event.
How can a guy be so unpopular and yet such a factor?
Unless..... lied to again!?
Former Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, a Republican who is close to McConnell, said frustration with Trump was boiling over in the chamber. Gregg blamed the president for undermining congressional leaders, and said the House and Senate would have to govern on their own if Trump “can’t participate constructively.”
They should have been doing that anyway, but that looks like a COUP!
“Failure to do things like keeping the government open and passing a tax bill is the functional equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded,” Gregg said.
Why bring them into this?
Others in the party divide blame between Trump and McConnell. Al Hoffman, a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee who has been supportive of McConnell, said McConnell was culpable because he has failed to deliver legislative victories. “Ultimately, it’s been Mitch’s responsibility, and I don’t think he’s done much,” Hoffman said.
But Hoffman predicted that McConnell would likely outlast the president.
“I think he’s going to blow up, self-implode,” Hoffman said of Trump. “I wouldn’t be surprised if McConnell pulls back his support of Trump and tries to go it alone.”
So it won't be a heart attack but a sucide bomber that gets to him?
An all-out clash between Trump and McConnell would play out between men whose strengths and weaknesses are very different. Trump is a political amateur, still unschooled in the ways of Washington, but he maintains a viselike grip on the affections of the Republican base. McConnell is a soft-spoken career politician, with virtuoso mastery of political fundraising and tactics, but he had no mass following to speak of.
You know, these people, and Trump learned awfully quick after Charlottesville.
McConnell, while baffled at Trump’s penchant for internecine attacks, is a ruthless pragmatist and has given no overt indication that he plans to seek more drastic conflict. Despite his private battles with Trump, McConnell has sent reassuring signals with his public conduct: On Monday, he appeared in Louisville, Kentucky, with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, for a discussion of tax policy.
McConnell’s Senate colleagues, however, have grown bolder. The combination of the president’s frontal attacks on Senate Republicans and his claim that there were “fine people” marching with white supremacists in Charlottesville has emboldened lawmakers to criticize Trump in withering terms.
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee rebuked Trump last week for failing to “demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” required of presidents. On Monday, Senator Susan Collins of Maine said in a television interview that she was uncertain Trump would be the Republican presidential nominee in 2020.
They are laying the ground for removal from office.
There are few recent precedents for the rift. The last time a president turned on a legislative leader of his own party was in 2002, when allies of George W. Bush helped force Trent Lott to step down as Senate minority leader after racially charged remarks at a birthday party for Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
For the moment, McConnell appears to be far more secure in his position, and perhaps immune to coercion from the White House. Republicans are unlikely to lose control of the Senate in 2018, and Trump has no allies in the Senate who have shown an appetite for combat with McConnell.
Still, some allies of Trump on the right — including Stephen K. Bannon, who stepped down last week as Trump’s chief strategist — welcome more direct conflict with McConnell and congressional Republicans.
Roger J. Stone Jr., a Republican strategist who has advised Trump for decades, said the president needed to “take a scalp” in order to force cooperation from Republican elites who have resisted his agenda. Stone urged Trump to make an example of one or more Republicans, like Flake, who have refused to give full support to his administration.
“The president should start bumping off incumbent Republican members of Congress in primaries,” Stone said. “If he did that, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would wet their pants and the rest of the Republicans would get in line.”
They spent an hour with that creep?
But McConnell’s allies warn that the president should be wary of doing anything that could jeopardize the Senate Republican majority.
“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,” said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.
Well, there are 25 Democrats up for reelection and only 8 Republicans; however, if you could spin the narrative from a Republican supermajority by flipping half the seats and retaining the others to the actual election resulting in only a gain of 3 seats or so, with Democrats holding most and maybe picking off a Republican, that might be enough to do it.
There is no ceiling for elite arrogance:
"Treasury chief’s wife apologizes for boasts about wealth" August 22, 2017
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, apologized Tuesday for boasting about her wealth and then disparaging someone who criticized her during a nasty social media exchange, trying to quell a raft of criticism.
‘‘I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response,’’ she is quoted as saying, according to her publicist. ‘‘It was inappropriate and highly insensitive.’’
Linton, an actress and producer, married Mnuchin two months ago in a lavish ceremony attended by the president and vice president. She often travels with Mnuchin on official business, which is not customary for a Cabinet member’s spouse, but officials say they reimburse the government.
She drew attention Monday for posting a photo of herself disembarking from a government plane with Mnuchin and noting various designers’ clothes she was wearing. That drew comment from someone with the Instagram identity Jennimiller29: ‘‘Glad we could pay for your little getaway.’’
Linton responded with a fiery attack. ‘‘Did you think this was a personal trip?!’’ She added: ‘‘Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.’’
Linton added, ‘‘You’re adorably out of touch. . . . Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute.’’
Stephen Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton often travel together on official business, unlike their predecessors (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via Associated Press/File 2017).
Leave the kid alone!
Yeah, where is Kathy Griffin now?
Time to check those stocks:
"Stocks around the world jumped Tuesday, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 had one of its best days of the year, as markets put a shaky couple of weeks further behind them. It has taken just two days for the index to recoup half the loss it sustained in the two weeks since setting a record on Aug. 7. Those two weeks were a jolt for markets, as worries rose about political strife in Washington, but the Senate’s majority leader said on Monday there is ‘‘zero chance’’ Congress will vote against increasing the country’s borrowing limit, and many analysts are expecting markets to drift sideways in coming weeks, with few market-moving events on the calendar. One highlight could be the symposium for central bankers from around the world in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at the end of this week. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and is preparing to pare back the $4.5 trillion it holds on its balance sheet, and investors are wondering when the European Central Bank will follow suit. The heads of both the Fed and the ECB are expected to speak at the symposium, and if either suggests a more aggressive pace than investors are expecting, it would likely mean another tumble for markets. But investors say the Fed, in particular, has been meticulous in setting expectations so markets aren’t taken by surprise. If markets do end up calming down, it would mark a return to a smooth ride for investors. The S&P 500 is up 9.5 percent for the year, and the climb had been a remarkably placid one until two weeks ago....."
"The European Union’s antitrust watchdog said Tuesday that it has launched a probe into German chemical maker Bayer’s planned acquisition of US seed and weed-killer company Monsanto. The European Commission, which polices competition in Europe, said it has concerns that the merger may reduce competition in areas like pesticides and seeds. Monsanto last year accepted an offer from Bayer to pay $57 billion to its shareholders and assume $9 billion in debt. Were it to go ahead, the buyout would create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company. The commission says it will also look into whether the move would hinder the access of competitors to distributors and farmers."
Yeah, I kind of merged yesterday and today.
"Brazil’s antitrust watchdog said AT&T Inc.’s $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner Inc. poses a high risk to competition, a potential complication that threatens to delay the final approval process. The transaction as originally presented should be rejected unless the companies agree to some changes that may include asset sales, according to a recommendation published Tuesday by the staff of Cade, as the antitrust agency is known. It didn’t specify what properties might need to be divested. The Cade board has until its Nov. 22 session to issue a final ruling, though that deadline can be extended by 90 days under Brazilian law. The merger combines one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers with the owner of media properties like Warner Bros. and HBO. It would also create a TV powerhouse in Brazil that may run afoul of a law that prohibits pay-TV providers from owning programming content."
Don't they know that AT&T will bring new high-speed Internet service at a lower cost?
"McDonald’s India has announced it will close nearly 170 McDonald’s outlets in northern and eastern India after the American fast food giant decided to terminate a franchise agreement with its Indian partner. McDonald’s said its partner Connaught Plaza Restaurants violated the terms of the franchise agreement, including reneging on payment of royalties. Connaught Plaza Restaurants, which runs 169 McDonald’s outlets in northern and eastern India, said Tuesday it is considering legal action in the long-drawn legal battle. In June, it shut 43 McDonald’s outlets in the capital, New Delhi, after it failed to renew their licenses."
Just watch where you step over there.
You know, a hamburger joint in India might not have been the best idea.
"The United States has been starved for inventory, in part because builders slowed production after the last decade’s property crash and many seniors are choosing to remain in their houses rather than downsize....."
Time to hit the ATM, grab a cup of coffee and head home:
Paris tourism rebounds following drop after 2015 terror attacks
Brits can have a sleepover in a department store to test out a mattress
You can fall asleep to Netflix.