21st Century Cures Act Weakens Healthcare Safety in the Name of ‘Innovation’

The U.S. Senate passed a controversial bill yesterday that will increase government funding for medical research while lowering the standards of safety for medical devices and drugs. The legislation, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, was hailed by its supporters for promoting innovation in healthcare. But consumer watchdog Public Citizen is decring what it calls an early Christmas gift to Big Pharma and the medical device industry. Last year, Health Expert Vijat Das spoke to the Real News about the law [SOT]

Kurdish Regional Government Rejects Claims of Obstructing Yezidi’s From Their Homes

The Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is rejecting claims that it is preventing Yezidis from returning to their homes in Sinjar.  The district is the home to Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority. Human Rights Watch has criticized for the KRG on multiple occasions for imposing restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the area. The KRG says it is doing everything possible to facilitate the return of the Yazidi’s to their homes, but that security precautions were necessary due to the presence of armed Kurdish groups in Sinjar. The PKK, a the Kurdish liberation organisation engaged in a decades long struggle against the Turkish State, has recruited heavily from the Yazidi population to fill their ranks.

Trump to Appoint Fast-Food CEO for Labor Secretary 

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to announce his choice of Andrew F. Puzder for Labor Secretary. Puzder is the CEO of fast food companies Hardee’s and Carl’s Junior and has often spoken out against labor regulations and raising the minimum wage. He is also an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which Donald Trump has promised to repeal.

Brazil’s Supreme Court Allows Indicted Head of Senate to Remain in Post

Brazil’s Supreme Court voted to allow the Senate president Renan Calheiros to keep his post while he facing trial. On Monday Calheiros indicted for corruption and was legally required to abandon the Senate presidency. However, he refused to resign and the Supreme Court then voted in favor of him retaining his position. This latest conflict comes just as the Senate is considering changes to Brazil’s anti-corruption legislation that would allow lawsuits against prosecutors for overreach and increased immunity for legislators from prosecution. The changes were postponed after thousands of demonstrators protested in front of the Senate in the capital of Brasilia last Sunday.

Federal Judge Allows Cancellation of Michigan Recount

Recount vote efforts in Michigan are facing a potential cancellation at any moment following a new ruling by a federal judge. The ruling sided with the Republican party challengers who said that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is not an aggrieved party in the Michigan vote because she did not come close to winning. Stein and her supporters to vowed to continue their pursuit of the recount and to defend their efforts against further court challenges.

OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Hamburg on Securitization of Europe

European foreign ministers are attending a meeting in the Germany city of Hamburg to discuss collective security policy. The two-day session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will discuss the EU’s response to the crisis in Ukraine and in Syria. The meeting comes after the European Commission issued a paper calling for increasing defense spending and bolstering the European arms industry. Many critics of defense budgets say they come at the expense of social spending.

Russia privatizes 20% of Rosneft to Glencore and Qatar

Russia announced today it will sell off 20% of its largest state-owned oil company. Rosnet will be sold for 11.3 billion dollars to the state of Qatar, and to Glencore, a British-Swiss corporation with large stakes in the mining and commodity sectors. Rosneft was subjected to harsh U.S sanctions following the civil war in Ukraine, and the sale indicates that its profits have suffered. The sale will strengthen Qatar’s monopoly over the energy sector in the Middle East, and Glencore’s control over the energy sector in the Mediterranean.