Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli, 32, had to be dragged before Congress under subpoena because representatives of both parties had questions about why a drug to treat a parasitic infection that could be a matter of life or death went from $1 a pill to $750 a pill upon Shkreli’s firm buying the rights to it.
According to Reuters, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked Shkreli what he would tell a single, pregnant woman with AIDS who needed the drug to survive?
Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and did not answer, but during the hearing he found time to tweet, "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government."
Shkreli had a point in one sense. Didn’t Congress agree to submit health care to the profit motive when it voted to make the U.S. the only nation except Switzerland to keep private insurance companies in charge of the national health care system?
My Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller reminded me that before Obamacare there was no national health care system. Oops.
Still, I wonder who Shkreli thinks Congress should be representing as between him and that pregnant woman with AIDS? I guess it is imbecilic to think she can pony up as much campaign cash as he can.
Over on the socialist side of health care, there was an item from the Associated Press that fell out of my series on the Department of Veterans Affairs but is too weird to bury. The VA admitted that it declared more than 100 veterans dead and suspended their benefit payments. One “dead” veteran said that in the middle of a long conversation trying to persuade a VA bureaucrat he was alive, it dawned on him that it might take a while to get his benefits back, so he “started looking around the house for things to sell.”
The VA will now send a letter to the “dead” veteran and request confirmation. The dead guy will have 30 days to prove he’s not dead.
Cousin Ray wondered if sending the VA a mirror with a spot of fog on it would do for proof?
The Times of Australia and New Zealand reported that Sevdet Besim, 19, has been arrested and accused of a terror plot that involved packing a kangaroo’s pouch with explosives, painting an Islamic State symbol on the roo, and releasing it near a police station on ANZAC Day, the official day of remembrance for Australians and New Zealanders killed in wars and international peacekeeping missions.
After discussions with a co-conspirator in Britain, the plan was dialed back to something less complicated. Besim would run over a police officer with a car and then behead the officer. This simpler method of killing would have been identical to the 2013 murder of Lee Rigby in London.
The co-conspirator in Manchester, England, was 15 years old. Upon conviction, he became the youngest person ever sentenced to life in prison for plotting terrorism.
Besim has pled not guilty.
Cousin Ray observed that if Besim had not backed off the bombing for beheading an officer there might have been….a kangaroo court.
Speaking of courts, the Texas Bar Journal reported that God Gazarov, 27, successfully sued Equifax for failing to process his name and therefore erroneously reporting that he had no credit history. Cousin Ray wanted to know if the item reprinted God’s credit report. It didn’t. “Shucks,” Ray said. “I know I don’t have more money than God but I thought I might have borrowed more….”
Ted Cruz was on video accusing Donald Trump of pitching a fit over Cruz’s win in Iowa.
For once, I understand where The Donald is coming from. He’s surprised that Cruz supporters announced on caucus night that Ben Carson had quit and Carson supporters should caucus for Cruz. He’s shocked, shocked at an election night lie.
“Welcome,” Cousin Ray chuckled, “to Texas politics.”
The BBC reported that the Iraqi government is “modernizing” the defense of Baghdad by building a wall around the entire city some 186 miles in length, rendered further state-of-the-art with a moat two meters deep.
Cousin Ray said there’s no truth to the rumor that Mexico is going to pay for it.
Western media have been alarmed at the number of young women from Europe and the U.S. joining ISIS. Leaving aside being assigned to Daesh fighters for “marriage,” there is the roach motel problem. You can check in but you can’t check out.
The BBC was kind enough to translate from Arabic a billboard ISIS erected in Sirte, Libya, with instructions on how to wear the hijab so as to avoid public lashing:
1. It must be thick and not revealing
2. It must be loose (not tight)
3. It must cover all the body
4. It must not be attractive
5. It must not resemble the clothes of unbelievers or men
6. It must not be decorative and eye-catching
7. It must not be perfumed.
They have also taken to crucifying alleged spies on the major roads coming into Sirte, which I suppose could be taken as reassurance, as in, “what’s a little whipping compared to what happens to males?’
They play for keeps in ISIS territory. Here we make criminal justice arguments in beer commercials.
I confess to being a fan of Budweiser commercials even though I don’t like the product. Bud, unlike many U.S. beers, has a very distinctive taste—and it’s a distinctive taste that does nothing for me. Still, their ads are sometimes the most entertaining part of the Super Bowl.
This year, Budweiser has put out an anti-drunk driving spot featuring the British actress Helen Mirren saying what she really thinks:
If you drive drunk, you, simply put, are a shortsighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution. A Darwin Award deserving, selfish coward. If your brain was donated to science, science would return it.
Cousin Ray said there is some truth to the rumor that several reservations have expressed interest in building walls to keep drunk drivers out “if they can figure out a way to make Mexico pay for it.”
Of course, if you are going to string up criminals, you need to know criminals when you see them. The National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School reported that 149 people were exonerated of crimes for which they were punished in 2015, up from 139 in 2014. Those persons exonerated in 2015 had served an average of 14.5 years in prison.
CNN reported that a griffon vulture from Gamla Nature Reserve in Israel flew across the Lebanese border and got arrested on suspicion of spying. The bird had a metal ring on its leg from Tel Aviv University, tags on its wings, and a GPS transmitter attached to its tail. It was released after questioning.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia arrested a similarly equipped bird and accused it of working for the Mossad. That was the same year Egypt accused the Mossad of being behind a series of shark attacks near Egyptian Red Sea resorts.
Last year, the Palestinian daily al-Quds reported that Hamas arrested “an Israeli dolphin” for spying. Police in India took a pigeon into custody near the Pakistani border on suspicion of the same offense.
Pasco County, Florida Sheriff’s deputies answered a “cow down” call and spent an hour extracting a pregnant cow from about a foot of water. A Good Samaritan had held her head out of the water or she would have drowned before the deputies arrived.
The rescue was supervised by Cpl. Scott Kenner of the Sheriff’s “agricultural unit.” KXAN quoted Kenner, “It’s what we do….You could be saving a cow one day. You could be chasing a cow right after.”
The New York Times reported that Tata Motors of India has decided to re-brand its new hatchback, the Zica, to avoid confusion with the virus causing birth defects in Latin America, Zika.
The latest news on the Zika virus is that public health authorities in Dallas County, Texas have announced that it can be spread by sex as well as by mosquitoes. The Times reported that Public Health England was at least a week ahead of the U.S. Center for Disease Control in figuring out that sex with infected persons is a problem.
Cousin Ray claimed it had to be a fluke. “How could socialized medicine possibly figure it out first?”
This column is scheduled to come out the day of the Retromobile 2016 classic car auction in Paris. The star of the auction is a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scagleitti, expected to sell for $34 million.
Cousin Ray dumped all the change out of his sofa cushions because the car was red in color and he’s always wanted a Ferrari. He soon returned to planet earth, though, and squandered the sofa money on his granddaughter’s Girl Scout cookie sale.
“If I can’t have a red Ferrari,” he smiled, “those Thin Mints are a pretty good consolation.”