Between 2011 and 2015, the nation’s 10 largest drugmakers carved a new profit center for themselves. A report from Americans for Tax Fairness calls it price-gouging and coughs up evidence that Big Pharma—as the Big Ten are sometimes called—raised prices for their most prescribed medicines over the five-year period by 40% and more—in some cases as much as 71%—a rate that exceeded the national inflation rate by 14 times. One reason for the cash harvest: Drug companies dictate prices paid by Medicare while government is prohibited from negotiating a better deal for taxpayers. Fueled by price hikes, the big drug companies celebrated a 42% jump in profits, from $58.8 billion in 2011 to $83.4 billion in 2016; and, they deferred paying an estimated $133 billion in federal taxes on $500 billion that they parked in foreign tax havens, the ATF report said.
FCC’s Rosenworcel: Russians meddle with net neutrality
In a highly critical statement about the Federal Communications Commission’s refusal to cooperate with a New York law enforcement investigation, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel claimed that “nearly half a million” public comments submitted in the FCC’s net neutrality rulemaking came into the agency’s electronic comment site from Russia. The proposed rule, supported by internet service providers, would allow ISPs to charge higher fees for faster connection speed, sometimes by lowering the speeds now provided to subscribers. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sought the FCC’s help to investigate the theft of identities of a million consumers who submitted comments. (Rosenworcel was nominated to the FCC in 2011 by President Barack Obama, and nominated for a second FCC term in 2016 by President Donald Trump.)
Trade agency slaps duty on Canadian softwood
Imports of softwood lumber from Canada, a long-running contentious dispute between the U.S. and its neighbor, will be subject to antidumping and countervailing duties, the U.S. International Trade Commission said after determining the Canadian commodity was being sold at less-than-fair-value prices in the U.S. Such duties are usually collected retroactively but, citing unspecified “critical circumstances,” the softwood penalty to be set by the Department of Commerce will be applied prospectively. The action arose from a trade complaint submitted to the USITC by the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION), an ad hoc group of 13 U.S. lumber companies and associations.
Delaware court smashes bureaucrats’ gun rule
A gun regulation imposed by two Delaware state agencies to ban firearms in the state’s parks and forests was strongly repudiated by the Delaware Supreme Court. Watched by such groups as the National Rifle Association and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the court easily concluded that unelected bureaucrats lack authority to promulgate a regulation, particularly one that contravenes the state’s own constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.”
Undocumented immigrants rescued in frigid temps
Rare freezing temperatures and snowfall left undocumented immigrants cold and stranded across Southern Texas, leaving some requiring blankets and help from Border Patrol agents to survive their plight, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. Agents from the Eagle Pass Station near Del Rio, Texas. rescued 14 illegal immigrants but arrived too late to save the life of a 15th member of their party who froze to death. At the same time, agents from the Laredo Sector Horse Patrol Unit battled frigid weather to save 20 undocumented immigrants who became lost and disoriented by the cold weather.
FBI probe tightens on U.S. congressman
A political consultant who helped facilitate a fund transfer from 10-term Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Bob Brady’s re-election campaign to Jimmie Moore, a former local judge who agreed to withdraw from the primary election in return for $90,000 to cover his bills, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI. Donald Jones, 62, of Willingboro, N.J., admitted that he lied to conceal his role in making an illegal contribution to Moore’s campaign, the Department of Justice said.
Ex-cop convicted for breaking Walmart shopper’s leg
Trevor King, of Stockbridge, Ga., a former Atlanta Police Department sergeant, was convicted of using unreasonable force that resulted in breaking two bones in the leg of a Walmart shopper. King, the Department of Justice said, used a police-issue baton to beat the shopper’s leg because King erroneously believed the man had stolen a tomato. King was also convicted of writing a false report about the incident in order to conceal his wrongdoing.
November job report: America is on a roll
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 228,000 jobs were created in November, but the national unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% and the number of unemployed persons remained unchanged at 6.6 million. Among major worker groups, the jobless rate for teenagers increased to 15.9% while it remained unchanged for adult men (3.7%), adult women (3.7%), whites (3.6%), blacks (7.3%), Asians (3.0%) and Hispanics (4.7%), the BLS said.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Friday, December 8