Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Greed & Incompetence Up, Scientific Discovery Down, Torture Steady

Good old Merck. In Japan, disgraced executives commit harakiri. In the US, they get hugs and kisses, and big piles of other people's money:
"Yesterday, Merck said in a federal securities filing that its board had decided to give its top 230 managers the opportunity for a one-time payment of up to three years of salary and bonus if another company bought Merck - or merely bought over 20 percent of its shares. Any executive who was fired or resigned for good cause would receive the payment.
Merck has structured the compensation plan so that executives can receive the payments as soon as another company buys 20 percent of Merck's stock, even if it does not complete a takeover. That provision creates the possibility that executives could receive a windfall by leaving even if Merck remained independent, said Nell Minow, editor of the Corporate Library, an independent research firm specializing in corporate governance.
Under the plan, the 230 senior executives will have the chance to receive a cash payment from 1.5 to 3 times their annual salary and expected annual bonus if Merck is taken over and they quit or are fired within two years of a takeover. In many cases, the executives could fully exercise their stock options and restricted stock grants, without waiting to become fully vested."

Meanwhile, science itself (as opposed to the business of science), received a blow from the recently-passed appropriations bill, that saw fit to fund the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, but took $105 million away from the National Science Foundation, which supports research into cancer, as well as

"...research on an artificial retina, to restore sight to blind people, and on silicon chips that could be implanted in the brain to replace neurons damaged by disease or injury."

After Bush made typically lying promises to increase funding.

Finally, as you knew it would, our good deeds at Guantanamo have come back to haunt us. We do the Red Cross the favor of finally letting them in down there, and what do they do? Turn around and release a report that we've been torturing prisoners! Why those...

"The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo.
The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."
Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said. "

Well, at least our scientists can find work doing the Mengele thing for the government after their NSF grants run out.


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