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Sun, 01 Aug 2021
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UK watchdog slaps Advanz pharma company with massive fine over 6,000% price hike on essential thyroid drug

liothyronine tablets
© AFP / Loic Venance
The competition watchdog has fined a pharmaceutical company and its private equity backers more than £100m for inflating the price of crucial NHS medication, marking the second crackdown on a drug maker in less than a month.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it wanted to send a "clear message to the pharma sector that breaking the law will not be tolerated" as it fined Advanz for increasing the price of tablets used to treat thyroid hormone deficiency by 1,110pc over eight years.

Packs of generic liothryonine pills increased from £20 in 2009 to £248 in 2017. The CMA said the prices were "excessive and unfair".

Liothyronine tablets are off patent and should, in theory, be cheaper than branded drugs. Advanz was able to increase the price of the pills because there was no competition from rival suppliers in the UK market.


Black Lives Matter-backing mayor of Washington, DC now wants to FUND the police, citing spike in murders

capitol police
© Reuters / Mike Theiler
Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had 'Black Lives Matter' painted on the street that leads to the White House, now wants to hire more police officers and reopen the courts, citing an increase in homicides in the US capital.

Slashing the police budget for 2021 by $15 million hurt recruitment, resulting in only 42 new hires as opposed to 250 in a normal year, Bowser said on Wednesday. She called for another $11 million to hire and train 20 more officers in the current fiscal year, and 150 in 2022. The proposal is unlikely to be approved by the city council, however.

Bowser and Chief Robert Contee of the Metropolitan Police Department also complained that federal prosecutors - who have jurisdiction in the capital - still haven't pressed charges in more than 2,000 cases, and the courts, closed due to the pandemic, still haven't fully reopened.

"No matter how you look at it, the system is not working at full capacity, and that means justice is delayed," she said.

Snakes in Suits

Threat of domestic vaccine passports will help 'cajole' young people into getting jabbed, UK Foreign Secretary Raab admits

nhs app covid
The plan to require digital vaccine certificates for entry to clubs and other venues will help pressure young people into getting the shot, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has acknowledged.

With more than 70% of adults in the country fully vaccinated, uptake among the young is still lacking, Raab said on Thursday, hinting that the health pass rollout could be abandoned if enthusiasm for the jab increases.

Reversing its position on the use of domestic vaccine IDs, the government announced last week that, starting from the end of September, proof of vaccination will be needed in order to go to nightclubs and attend events with large groups of people.

The foreign secretary told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme that the yet-to-be-implemented policy is designed to keep large venues in operation.


Charles Murray's 'Facing Reality' — A Review

charles murray bell curve facing reality
© American Enterprise Institute
Charles Murray also authored "The Bell Curve"
A review of Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America by Charles Murray. Encounter Books, 168 pages. (June, 2021)

I've known about Charles Murray since 1994, when I was a voracious and unsupervised teen reader in rural Oregon grabbing the library's latest issue of the New Republic the instant it was shelved. It was here that I stumbled upon the shocking views Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein expressed in The Bell Curve about race, class, and inequality in America. I didn't give those views much deep thought at the time, and so my perception of Murray and his ideas hewed more or less to the dismissive conventional wisdom. It wasn't until I read a 1998 essay in Commentary magazine by Christopher Chabris that I began to reconsider. Chabris argued that the media furor around The Bell Curve obscured more than it illuminated, and that the consensus among psychologists on the importance of intelligence to life outcomes was indeed close to what Murray and Herrnstein had asserted. To my surprise, in the 21st century, my relationship with Murray and his ideas took a different turn, as I had the pleasure and honor of becoming his friend. And rather like Murray, I am now the sort of public figure that certain types of people feel they have to publicly denounce in order to establish their own group bona fides.

Star of David

Ben & Jerry's co-founders say nothing 'anti-Semitic' about ice cream embargo of illegal Israeli settlements: 'We're proud Jews

Ben & Jerry's Ben Cohen Jerry Greenfield
© REUTERS/Lou Dematteis
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream co-founders Ben Cohen (C) and Jerry Greenfield serve the first scoop of the resurrected Ben & Jerry's flavor "Wavy Gravy" at an event in downtown San Francisco August 24, 2005.
Ben & Jerry's co-founders have pushed back against claims of anti-Semitism following the company's decision to stop offering its ice cream products in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, noting that they themselves are Jews.

Writing in the New York Times, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield said they were "proud Jews" who view Israel's occupation of the West Bank as a barrier to peace.

"It's possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we've opposed policies of the US government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation," they argued, in an op-ed published on Wednesday. The move to pull Ben & Jerry's from shelves in Israeli-occupied territories was in keeping with the firm's "progressive values."



Warning: The moment Wall Street has been waiting for: The retail investor is all in

bull of wall street
The ideal bagholder is one who adds more on every downturn (buy the dip) and who refuses to sell (diamond hands), holding on for the inevitable Fed-fueled rally to new highs.

Old hands on Wall Street have been wary of being bearish for one reason, and no, it's not the Federal Reserve: the old hands have been waiting for retail--the individual investor-- to go all-in stocks. After 13 long years, this moment has finally arrived: retail is all in.

If you doubt this, just look at record highs in investor sentiment, margin debt and the Buffett Indicator (see chart below). Current valuations are so extreme that the previous extreme in the 2000 dot-com bubble now looks modest in comparison.

I have my own sure-fire indicators for when retail is all-in. One is my Mom's financial advisor recommends shifting her modest nest-egg out of safe bonds into the go-go stocks that are topping out. Back in late 1999, it was Cisco Systems and the other dot-com leaders, today it's the FANGMAN stocks. Sure enough, my Mom just informed me her advisor recommended moving money from bonds into a FANG-dominated stock fund. Bingo, we have a winner.

Second indicator: average people who have never traded stocks are all-in and supremely confident they can't lose. When 20-year college students are trading based on a "genius" 22-year old friend's advice, retail is all-in. When a worker cleaning a wooden deck pauses to put $100,000 in a company he knows nothing about (yes, true story), retail is all-in.


Politically motivated 'experts' predicting catastrophe have done far more harm than good during the pandemic

Neil Ferguson
© @SkyNews/twitter
Boffin Neil Ferguson said 100,000 cases a day was inevitable but now believes the pandemic is in retreat and will be over by October.
Nothing has worsened the panic, misery and loss of public confidence more over the past 18 months than freelancing scientists and other politically motivated "experts" baselessly predicting catastrophe.

Or suddenly changing their minds.

They have loved their 15 lucrative minutes of fame and snapped up every invitation to pontificate before a TV camera.

Comment: The old adage, 'never trust the experts' seems more applicable with each new day (or, at the very least, the experts who are paraded on mainstream media outlets spouting fear porn and propaganda). Maybe the new adage should be 'choose your experts carefully!'

See also:

Eye 1

The French intelligence service's warning that pro-freedom, anti-health pass protesters pose a new terror threat is risible

protests france covid
A protestor (L) holds a placard reading "We are not QR codes" during a demonstration against the new coronavirus safety measures including a compulsory health pass called for by the French government, in Marseille on July 17, 2021.
The security agency fears citizens opposed to the government's liberticidal Covid rules might turn to extremism. But it is the Macron government's own draconian actions that are fomenting radical dissent.

A new law christening the Covid-19 health pass and QR code tracking system in the daily lives of French citizens has cleared hurdles in the Senate, with only the Constitutional Council standing between freedom and a new world in which French citizens are required to present proof of an anti-Covid double-jab, or a nose swab test within the previous 48 hours, to access restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, swimming pools, bars, hospitals, and some shopping centers.

The pass would also become a condition of continued paid employment for those working in these venues, along with non-negotiable mandatory jabs for health care workers.

The law effectively creates a two-tier society that defines citizens by a specific medical act. The precedent is jarring. Until now, a person's medical history was considered taboo and part of their private life. So it's hardly surprising that a pro-freedom movement has emerged, spilling into the streets of Paris and other French cities every Saturday for the past two weeks, with no end in sight, to protest the government's segregation efforts.

Comment: See also:

Microscope 1

2 of 3 Indians have Covid-19 antibodies: ICMR serosurvey findings explained

indian market
© Express Photo/File
At a market in New Delhi.
Two-third of Indians above the age of 6 had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, show findings of the fourth nationwide serological survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in June-July. The survey results also suggest that about 400 million people or one-third of the country's population is still vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

The survey was conducted across the country in June and July. Its findings are significant because this is for the first time children aged 6-17 years were included in the national serosurvey. The results of the survey were released by DG, ICMR, Dr Balram Bhargava.

Comment: This effectively means India has reached SARS-CoV-2 herd immunity... naturally! And they said it couldn't be done.

See also:

Wine n Glass

'Respect': French back restauranteur's rebellion against Macron's mandatory passes after he declares his eatery a 'free zone'

french restauranteur
© Twitter / @besse_pascale
People in France have shown their support for a restaurateur who declared his eatery a 'free zone' in response to the government's vaccine passports mandate for restaurant and bar entry amid widespread protests.

With the government set to require all people to show their Covid-19 health passport when entering bars and restaurants from the beginning of August, some in France have started their own campaign to rebel against what they described as the state's "health dictatorship."

The Twitter account 'Zone Libre' or 'Free Zone' is encouraging restaurateurs to display a sign rejecting the health pass mandate by President Emmanuel Macron's government.

Comment: Nice to see a revival of the French Resistance!

See also: