22-Year-Old New Zealand Man to Appear in Court for Sharing Mosque Attack Video

By Tyler Durden | 17 March 2019

ZERO HEDGE — A 22-year-old man will appear in a New Zealand court today following a Friday arrest for allegedly distributing the live stream of the Christchurch mosque shootings, reports RNZ.

Police said he was arrested during the initial stages of the investigation on Friday.

He has been charged under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act and will appear in Christchurch District Court.

Police said they did not believe he was directly involved in the attacks. –RNZ

As we noted yesterday, New Zealand authorities reminded citizens over the weekend that they face up to 10 years in prison for simply downloading and storing the video, and up to 14 years for distributing it (h/t Nick Monroe).

Meanwhile, the New Zealand police have sent notice to the owner of the Kiwi Farms internet message board demanding the preservation of IP addresses and email addresses associated with posts related to the Christchurch shootings. […]

Multiple Lawsuits Filed for More Than $500B Accusing Yale, USC, More of Letting Students ‘Waste’ Money Applying for Elite Schools When It’s Actually Rigged in Wake of College Admissions Cheating Scandal

  • Two Stanford students, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, filed a $5 million class action suit on Wednesday
  • Parent Jennifer Kay Toy filed a separate $500 billion lawsuit saying her son was not admitted to some colleges because wealthy parents cheated and bribed
  • The Stanford students said they never would have wasted their money applying for Yale or USC if they had known the schools were ‘rigged by fraud’
  • Both students claim their degrees have been devalued by the scandal because potential employers may question whether they were admitted on merit

By Emily Crane | 14 March 2019

DAILY MAIL — Multiple lawsuits have been filed for more than $500 billion against elite universities and those implicated in the college admissions scandal that helped wealthy Americans cheat their children’s way into school.

Two Stanford students filed a $5 million class action suit on Wednesday claiming they were denied opportunities to get admitted to Yale and USC and have now had their degrees devalued in the wake of the recent charges.

Meanwhile, a San Francisco parent has filed a separate $500 billion lawsuit claiming her son was not admitted to some colleges because wealthy parents charged in the scandal thought it was ‘OK to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college’. […]

Little-Known Facts About Big Pharma

The grand debates on healthcare are much like the grand debates on border security. They’re both rife with opportunities for virtue-signaling and moral imperatives, both involve big bucks and bloated bureaucracy, and both are solvable issues that are never truly solved because they provide a polarizing political wedges each election cycle.

Both offer ample evidence of broken systems. The U.S. is home to more illegal aliens than any country in the world. Yet, the U.S. has the most advanced military, security and surveillance in the world. The U.S. routinely boasts some of the world’s greatest advancements in medical science, it’s home to the world’s top medical specialists, and it spends exponentially more on healthcare than any other nation. Yet, even with nearly universal public and private insurance options, one in four Americans say they cannot afford to see a doctor, nearly 30 percent say they cannot afford their prescription medication, and the U.S. ranks 26th in life expectancy.

This post isn’t about border security, however. It’s about health care — or more specifically, big pharma. Have you ever bought prescription medication outside of the United States? If so, you’ve probably noticed dramatically lower prices. I certainly have. Price disparity is something I noticed 20 years ago, and the gap has widened dramatically over time.

I personally know of at least three medications that are significantly cheaper in Europe and Central and South America. A 30-day supply of generic thyroid medication in Mexico, for example, is about $4; in Europe, it’s about $7; and in the U.S., it’s $16. The brand-name migraine medication I use is about $35 for four pills in Europe and $180 in the U.S. The antibiotic Zithromax in the U.S. is about $48 at our local pharmacy; in Brazil, it’s about $8.

It wasn’t until I covered Obamacare as a business reporter that I began to peel back the complex layers of bullshit that comprises the U.S. healthcare system. I still don’t fully understand it, but I can tell you this simple fact: Whenever private sectors receive public funds — unless price controls are implemented — there will be massive inflation in looting.

Obamacare legislation covered matters of insurance, but it didn’t appear to offer a clear prescription policy. So it was with morbid curiosity that I tuned in to CSPAN a couple weeks ago to watch the U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on pharma pricing. In the hot seats providing testimony were big pharma executives from seven domestic and international companies (in order with the image below): AbbVie Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez, Astra Zeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals Vice President and Chair Jennifer Taubert, Merck Chair and CEO Kenneth Frazier, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt.

Panel prepares to testify before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. PHOTO: KTUL/AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

If you like to nerd out from time to time like I do, you can watch the 3-hour hearing here. I recommend skipping past the first hour, which was just a lot of salutations and introductions.

Before hitting on some of the key takeaways from the hearing, here are some key facts to help gauge the scale of the problem.

  • The federal government pays more than 40 percent of all Americans’ prescription costs.
  • Drug prices in the U.S. are, on average, 40 percent higher than the rest of the world.
  • A third of all Americans receive some form of government health insurance, including around 59 million Americans are on Medicare and 75 million on Medicaid.
  • In 2016, Medicare and Medicaid alone spent $174 billion on prescriptions drugs, which represented 23 percent of the entire fiscal year budget.
  • The U.S. government spends more on health care than on any other single segment of the federal budget, including defense or Social Security.
  • The pharmaceutical industry spends around $2.3 billion annually on lobbying Washington, D.C., which is more than any other industry.
  • Congress barred Medicare from negotiating drug prices.

Torchy’s Takeaways from the Hearing

Please not that these takeaways are by no means comprehensive.

  • Taxpayers subsidize pharma companies both domestically and internationally through tax credits — though it’s mainly domestic companies that benefit from the breaks. They received an additional 1.5 percent tax break via Trump’s recently implemented corporate tax holiday. U.S. companies used the tax break for stock buybacks and investment rather than pass savings along to consumers.
  • The average cost per Medicare patient is $25,000 per year (not $11,000). This figure was repeated multiple times by multiple senators.
  • U.S. taxpayers and U.S. pharma consumers are financing pharma research for the world.
  • The seven CEOs confirmed their companies spend more on marketing and advertising their drugs to U.S. consumers than they do on research and development. Pharma companies also receive a tax break for marketing direct to consumers. Countries outside of the U.S. have made it illegal to directly advertise to consumers.
  • Pharma companies license their drug formulas to manufacturers of generics.
  • Senators claimed that when they tried to address price gouging by generic drug manufacturers, the lobbyists for big pharma came after them and blocked their attempts. The CEOs seemed surprised by this and promised the senators that they would “look into it.”
  • There are countless drugs that are not patent-protected but are manufactured by only one company. In such instances, that manufacturer has a monopoly, and they will often price gouge heavily. There may be as many as 300 manufacturers with monopoly price positioning. Often times, they’re firms that are not tied to or run by the medical community. They could be manufacturing widgets and insulin. The FCC/U.S. Justice Department has done nothing to tackle these monopolies.
  • Pharma companies not only patent molecules, they can patent a treatment. (Example not related to the hearing: Bimatoprost is a generic ophthalmic solution that has been used for decades to treat glaucoma. Oddly, it was discovered that the bimatoprost solution caused users’ eyelashes to grow long and thick. So a decade or so ago, pharma company Allergan patented its use as cosmetic treatment to enhance eyelashes and called it Latisse. A decade ago, a 3 ml bottle of bimatoprost for glaucoma would cost about $15. Today, it costs about $45. But that same exact solution in the same exact bottle sold in a fancy box with a Latisse label is $180.)
  • Before watching the hearing, I learned that the primary reason drugs are cheaper abroad is that every country except the U.S. has price controls on medication. So when watching the hearing, it was both comical and disgusting to watch both senators and CEOs deliberately and awkwardly dance around the topic of international pricing disparity without uttering the words “price controls.” It was clear that nearly every argument made in the hearing was intended to steer away from trigger phrase.

Questions Not Asked During the Hearing

  • How much does your company spend each year on lobbying state and federal government?
  • How much does your company spend each year on state and federal political donations?
  • Has your company made political donations to any of the senators on the finance committee?

Feds Arrest California Group for Aiding Chinese Exam and Visa Cheats

By Neil Munro | 14 March 2019

BREITBART — Federal investigators arrested five people for helping Chinese nationals cheat their way into U.S. universities — and then perhaps into U.S. jobs and research laboratories.

“The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to use false passports, using false passports, and aggravated identity theft as part of the scheme to impersonate Chinese nationals who were required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to obtain a student visa,” said the official announcement.

Student visas are the first step into the U.S. jobs market for many Chinese and Indian graduates. […]

Top Execs Flee Facebook: Chief Product Officer, WhatsApp CEO Both Quit; Stock Tumbles

By Tyler Durden | 147 March 2019

ZERO HEDGE — The storm clouds gathering above Facebook are getting darker by the hour.

Less than one day after Facebook suffered an unprecedented outage that lasted for hours and impacted all of the company’s media properties (which was blamed on a “server configuration outage“), and just hours after the NYT reported that Facebook is under criminal investigation over its data deals, and that a New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two smartphones manufacturers which gained access to personal data of hundreds of millions of users, moments ago Facebook announced that two top execs  had unexpectedly quit the company.

In a blog post to employees published on the company’s website, in which he said that he wants “to share some important updates as we organize our company to build out the privacy-focused social platform I discussed in my note last week” adding that “embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us”, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that both Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer, and Chris Daniels, CEO of WhatsApp, had decided to leave the company. […]

Patriots Turning to #YangGang In Response to Trump, Conservatism Inc. Failure

By James Kirkpatrick | 12 March 2019

THE UNZ REVIEW — The dark horse candidate of the 2020 Democratic primary is entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who just qualified for the first round of debates by attracting over 65,000 unique donors. [Andrew Yang qualifies for first DNC debate with 65,000 unique donorsby Orion Rummler, Axios, March 12, 2019] Yang is a businessman who has worked in several fields, but was best known for founding Venture for America, which helps college graduates become entrepreneurs. However, he is now gaining recognition for his signature campaign promise—$1,000 a month for every American.

Yang promises a universal entitlement, not dependent on income, that he calls a “freedom dividend.” To be funded through a value added tax, Yang claims that it would reduce the strain on “health care, incarceration, homeless services, and the like” and actually save billions of dollars. Yang also notes that “current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally.”

As Yang himself notes, this is not a new idea, nor one particularly tied to the Left. Indeed, it’s been proposed by several prominent libertarians because it would replace the far more inefficient welfare system. Charles Murray called for this policy in 2016. [A guaranteed income for every American, AEI, June 3, 2016] Milton Friedman suggested a similar policy in a 1968 interview with William F. Buckley, though Friedman called it a “negative income tax.” […]

This Woman Stole Children from the Poor to Give to the Rich

By Nick Poppy | 17 June 2017

NEW YORK POST — Babies were snatched off the streets by strangers in passing cars. Or taken from day-care centers or church basements where they played. Or stolen from hospitals, right after birth, passed from doctor to nurse to a uniformed “social worker” — before vanishing in an instant.

Some were dropped into dismal orphanages; others were sent to a new family, their identities wiped, no questions asked. Most would never see their birth parents again.

While it sounds like something out of Dickens or the Brothers Grimm, this happened in the United States in the 20th century. Thousands of times.

It was the dark handiwork of the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a supposedly charitable organization, led by a woman named Georgia Tann. […]