Tag Archives | Communism

Western Drug Companies Paid East Germany To Use Its Citizens As Guinea Pigs

At least a handful of the unwitting subjects died as a result of the pharmacological experiments. An instance of capitalist and communist collaboration during the Cold War, via the Independent:

Communist East Germany allowed Western drug companies to use its medical patients as unwitting guinea pigs for tests with untried pharmaceuticals in return for hundreds of thousands in hard currency, a television documentary by Germany’s ARD television channel has revealed.

The disturbing disclosures about the former communist state’s patients-for-cash scheme comes only weeks after an admission by the Swedish furniture giant Ikea that East German political prisoners were used to make its products before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

Using information gleaned from East German Stasi files, the film shows how, in 1983, Communist Party Central Committee members hatched a secret deal with Western drug companies enabling them to test their unlicensed products on unwitting patients by using specially selected doctors and clinics.

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Want Less Inequality? Tax It

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British economist Arthur C. Pigou, friend and contemporary of beloved John Maynard Keynes, eventually not only came around to the Keynesian logic, but also expanded on the common-sense philosophy to promote social balance and checks with the gentle, invisible hand of the Public. By incentivizing what benefits the downtrodden (perhaps with subsidies) and disincentivizing poor practices (by taxing rampant, unregulated profits), a more reasonable parity between the classes could be reached, stimulating economic growth and benefiting everyone.

This doesn’t have to be a ‘redistributive’ scheme that pits neoconservatives against progressives. Indeed, such a rational, gradated, and bracketed system makes sense to anyone who believes in the American traditions of pragmatism, equality, openness, innovation and opportunity.

Via the American Prospect by Liam C. Malloy and John Case

But the conventional strategy for fighting inequality—far higher taxes on the rich—usually rests on a foundation of fairness, and the question of what’s fair and what’s unfair turns out to cut different ways, depending on your point of view.

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Ray Bradbury: Writer, Critic, Communist Sympathizer?

Photo by Alan Light (CC)

It seems that Ray Bradbury, a vocal critic of Joe McCarthy and his ilk, was the subject of two FBI investigations in the 1950s. The Daily Beast has recently obtained the FBI files via a Freedom of Information Act request:

The FBI’s investigation of Bradbury in the late 1950s centers on alleged communist activity, and it reveals more about the author’s talent for holding up a dystopian mirror to reflect society’s flaws than actual communist tendencies. These government documents were first obtained by Bradbury biographer Sam Weller and described in his 2005 book The Bradbury Chronicles.

“I remember distinctly his response when I visited him and presented him with the files,” Weller told The Daily Beast. “He beamed ear to ear and dismissed it with a wave of his hand and laughed and he said, ‘I’ll be damned, I’ve had nothing to hide over the years—what are they going to investigate?

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Karl Marx-Themed Mastercards Are A Hit In Germany

The ultimate indignity for the great critiquer of capitalism? Or a subtle expression of mass dissatisfaction with the current financial paradigm? Via Reuters:

Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some eastern Germans are once again carrying round images of Karl Marx – if only in their pockets. More than a third of customers at Sparkasse bank in Chemnitz opted for the picture of a bronze bust of the bearded 19th century German-born philosopher, bank spokesman Roger Wirtz said. Marx’s stern face is depicted gazing towards the logo of Mastercard.

The east has witnessed a wave of nostalgia in recent years for aspects of the old East Germany, or DDR, where citizens had few freedoms but were guaranteed jobs and social welfare. The trend is not limited to the region. A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

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Stalin’s Flying Tank

AntonovA40What Stalin wanted, Stalin got, gravity be damned. No evidence the thing actually worked, even with the one “photo” taken of it. Via Wikipedia:

The Antonov A-40 Krylya Tanka (Russian: крылья танка, meaning “tank wings”) was a Soviet attempt to allow a tank to glide into a battlefield after being towed aloft by an airplane, to support airborne forces or partisans. A prototype was built and tested in 1942, but was found to be unworkable. This vehicle is sometimes called the A-40T or KT.

Instead of loading light tanks onto gliders, as other nations had done, Soviet airborne forces had strapped T-27 tankettes underneath heavy bombers and landed them on airfields. In the 1930s there were experimental efforts to parachute tanks or simply drop them into water. During the 1940 occupation of Bessarabia, light tanks may have been dropped from a few meters by TB-3 bombers, allowing them to roll to a stop with the gearbox in neutral.

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Two Icons, Two Deaths, Two Worlds: The Media Simplified Them Both

Jong-Il / HavelThe world has said goodbye to two leaders who were worlds apart. One was a widely celebrated anti-communist, the other a widely despised communist. However, both the lives and thoughts of the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel, and North Korea’s Kim Jung-il were given short shrift.

The playwright turned President Havel who parlayed human rights activism into becoming Czechoslovakia‘s post-Communist President was a leader for the pro-democracy Charter 77 Movement, not just a Red-hating politician on a power trip.

Yet, the press praised him more for what he opposed than what he believed. The people who loved him adored him for both.

One report: “Thousands of silent mourners have accompanied the body of Vaclav Havel through central Prague as the Czech Republic began three days of national mourning for the icon of the Velvet Revolution.

About 10,000 mourners mostly in black, some carrying Czech or Slovak flags, joined a solemn procession taking the former president’s coffin from a church through narrow cobbled streets to Prague Castle, the seat of Czech presidents, on Wednesday.”

Havel was an intellectual, a non-violent revolutionary who also presided over the break up of his country into two: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.… Read the rest

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North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Dead

Kim Jong-ilReports David Chance and Jack Kim of Reuters:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. A tearful television announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance" — a reference to advice dispensed by the "Dear Leader" on his trips to factories, farms and military bases. Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's youngest son, was named by North Korea's official news agency KCNA as the "great successor" to his father, which lauded him as "the outstanding leader of our party, army and people."
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Putin Calls U.S. A ‘Parasite’ Over Its Debt

Alien ChestbursterJust over its debt, Mr. Putin…? Richard Boudreux writes in the Wall Street Journal:

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the U.S. “a parasite” because of its huge debt load, evoking a term used by Soviet leaders to demonize people who didn’t work, study or serve the Communist state.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, shown at a youth forum, on Monday labeled the U.S. ‘a parasite’ for its debt load. The term is steeped in Soviet rhetoric: Lenin invoked it after the 1917 revolution, and Stalin, himself denounced as a parasite by Trotsky, used the label against Jews, dissidents and others.

In a speech Monday, Mr. Putin said Russia and other countries should seek new reserve currencies to hedge against “a systemic malfunction” in the U.S. Both Russia and China in the past have questioned the dollar’s pre-eminence as a reserve currency and its role in international trade and investment.

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North Korea’s Most Sought-After Consumer Items: Skinny Jeans, Ramen, Porn, And Human Manure

0-jeans

Wondering what objects people ruled by the world’s most repressive dictatorship would like to get their hands on? A Seoul-based professor who interviewed recent North Korean defectors was told that the hottest consumer goods from the past year include skinny jeans, ramen soup, porn films, and even human feces. The Korea Herald has the story:

Skinny jeans, blue crabs, pig-intestine rolls and even human manure were some of the hottest items among North Korean consumers this year, according to a South Korean professor who has interviewed recent defectors from the communist country.

Kim Young-soo, a political science professor at Seoul’s Sogang University, said in a conference on Tuesday that adult movies, television dramas and instant noodle “ramen” made in South Korea are also selling “like hot cakes” in North Korea.

Skinny jeans refer to slim-fit pants that have gained popularity around the world, said Kim who interviewed about 2,000 defectors this year as part of a research project for the government.

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Cuban Medics in Haiti Put the World to Shame

Cuba In HaitiNina Lakhani writes in the Indepedent:

They are the real heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster, the human catastrophe on America’s doorstep which Barack Obama pledged a monumental US humanitarian mission to alleviate. Except these heroes are from America’s arch-enemy Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.

A medical brigade of 1,200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera-infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro’s international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition.

Observers of the Haiti earthquake could be forgiven for thinking international aid agencies were alone in tackling the devastation that killed 250,000 people and left nearly 1.5 million homeless. In fact, Cuban healthcare workers have been in Haiti since 1998, so when the earthquake struck the 350-strong team jumped into action. And amid the fanfare and publicity surrounding the arrival of help from the US and the UK, hundreds more Cuban doctors, nurses and therapists arrived with barely a mention.

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