Compared to weeks previous, this one was relatively peaceful. Bar that tragic plane crash, Martin Shkreli counter bullying school kids and the Greens’ awkward one night stand. But hey, could be worse. Win!
Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. This week has seen the most hated man in America outdone by a group of Aussie schoolboys, an air tragedy unfolded in South America that has left the futebol community in shock, and the Libs and the Greens became unlikely bedfellows.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Martin Shkreli. Just in case you haven’t, let me give you the cliff notes. He is the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Whilst under his control, Turing obtained the manufacturing license for an antiparasitic drug called Daraprim. Daraprim has a variety of applications, some life saving, including the treatment of Malaria and AIDS. Once the exclusive license was locked down, Turing increased the price of the vital medication from US$13.50 to US$750 per pill. Needless to say, his new nickname, “The most hated man in America” was quickly adopted and well deserved.
This week, a group of students from Sydney Grammar managed to synthesise the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, in their school science lab. The group of 17-year olds managed to provide 3.7 grams of pyrimethamine for $20 – slightly less than the $110,000 it would cost you in the US to buy the pills.
The lads deliberately started the experiment to draw attention to the drug’s exorbitant cost in the US, with one of the students, James Wood, saying “It seems totally unjustified and ethically wrong…It’s a life-saving drug and so many people can’t afford it”.
The story has gained global attention, with Shkreli himself taking to YouTube to congratulate the boys, saying they should be recognised as “proof that the 21st century economy will solve problems of human suffering through science and technology.” Before we jump to any “turned over a new leaf” conclusions, it’s important to remember that due to how the US Pharma system is set up, it’s effectively impossible for the boys to sell their creation in the US. Something that Shkreli was likely aware of when asked on Twitter whether the schoolboys were competition.
“No”, was the simple and telling response.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 1, 2016
A plane carrying Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team crashed in Colombia this week, resulting in the death of 75 people.
The team had chartered the plane to travel to Medellin to face Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the first leg of Wednesday’s Sudamericana final; an important occasion as it was the first time that the small club from the southern Brazilian town of Chapeco had reached the final of a major South American club competition.
There were only six survivors of the crash: three members of the team, one of the 21 journalists on board and two members of the flight crew. Tragically, goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha survived the crash but died not long after calling his wife on the phone.
Investigations are still underway but reports have suggested that the plane had electrical issues and may have run out of fuel; other sources suggest that the lack of fuel was due to the pilot dumping it just prior to impact to reduce the chances of an explosion that would have killed any survivors.
Tributes have poured in from all over the globe, including 40,000 people filling the stadium where the game would have been played.
There was an horrific attack this week in the Northern Territory outback which saw a French tourist stabbed to death in front of his wife at the Connors Well rest stop.
The police have reported that the couple were at the rest stop, located around 100km north of Alice Springs, on Wednesday afternoon when they were approached by a man who proceeded to stab the French man in the neck in an “unprovoked attack”.
The victim’s wife managed to flag down a local nurse and her husband; the nurse stayed with the couple at the scene while her husband drove 40km north to the closest telephone, all the while tailing the alleged attacker’s car.
Following a police manhunt, the alleged perpetrator was arrested and has since been identified as 35-year-old Melbourne Man, Pande Veleski.
Veleski’s brother, Tony, spoke to the media and indicated that he and the family weren’t aware that Pande had even left the state. His understanding was that he had travelled to the family’s holiday house in Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and was expecting to meet him there on Friday. Tony also suggested that Veleski had previously been treated for a mental health condition.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: House of Brady silent, Pauline in a wetsuit and eagle drops in for lunch
- Current Affairs Wrap: Russia move forward into past, Dutton’s rant and the corpse in power
- Current Affairs Wrap: Farewell US democracy, goodbye Leonard, and everyone on social media
The highly debated “Backpackers Tax” has been passed in the Senate this week, preventing a hike to 32.5 percent from January 1st, 2017. The Libs had initially proposed 19% to which Labor countered with 10.5%. Following the normal argy-bargy and back and forth, the Libs agreed to drop to 15% but Labor wouldn’t push any higher than 13%; a stalemate that looked unbreakable before the most unlikely of allies stepped in to help the Government get it through – the Greens.
The Greens’ surprising support appears to have been a masterful act of horse trading with the party securing a $100 million deal for Landcare as well as a change to the Backpacker Tax amendment which results in backpackers getting more of their superannuation back.
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale made it very clear that the Greens had stepped in to stop the debate from being drawn out any further, saying “We have seen the Greens really clean up the mess that is of the Government’s own making… This is an issue that has been going on for far too long”.
Most telling was a Tweet from Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce, which read “Credit where credit is due. Thanks to the Greens for doing what Labor should have done”.
So Donald Trump is President-elect of the US and Barnaby Joyce is publicly praising the Greens. How many signs of the apocalypse are there supposed to be before we start panicking?
Wacky and wonderful
It’s fair to say that parking inspectors aren’t the most loved creatures on earth. It’s not personal, they are just doing a job after all, but a lot of us have been on the receiving end of a perceivably unfair penalty and a refusal to show a little heart.
Unlike most of us, Carolyn White has never had a parking ticket, so when she noticed a pile of tickets attached to an SUV in Fort Lauderdale, her curiosity got the better of her. In her own words: “I was being nosy. I never let the meter man catch me. I never got a parking ticket and I wanted to know why somebody else got caught. And that’s what made me look inside.”
Unfortunately, when Ms White looked inside she noticed the driver, Jacob Morpeau, deceased in the driver’s seat. Whilst the exact time of death cannot be pinpointed, the car had four days’ worth of tickets on the windshield – including two within three minutes of each other just six hours before Mr Morpeau’s body was discovered.
Apparently, even death isn’t a good enough excuse…
Although officials generously waived the fees after the discovery due to “extenuating circumstances”.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Backpacker tax will see me pack my bags
- While you were asleep: OPEC hikes fuel price, Christensen breaks Internet, seagull beats Cahill
- #AusPol winners and losers: Who put their tongue in the socket this week?
- Confessions of a 457 visa addict: Should you fear us?
- While you were asleep: Xenophon enables ABCC, Trump saves flags, Chernobyl’s fancy new dress
Being a cop is a tough job. You put your life in danger on a daily basis, more often than not with few accolades from the public. At least you can rely on your fellow officer to have your back…most of the time.
Police were called to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant in Houston this week where Brandon Ortez was allegedly robbing the store. As a standoff ensued, the police set up a perimeter around the scene and called in the trusty K-9 units to assist.
As two of the officers were getting into position, they accidentally bumped into each other which resulted in one of their weapons falling to the ground and discharging. Thankfully the bullet missed everyone, however, one of the officers was injured by shrapnel from the “misfire”.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, one of the K-9 units, apparently startled by the gunfire, proceeded to bite the officers. Now I have to assume that these dogs are highly trained, particularly around gunfire, and unlikely to be too jumpy around it. My guess is the bite was just a dressing down from the pooch who was less than impressed with the job performance of his keystone cop colleagues.
Have a cracking week, TBSers!