News Brief: US Drug Shortage, Israeli Hostage Rescue, and COVID Mandate Case

First, drug shortages have become a serious but solvable problem. The United States helps the Israelis rescue four hostages in Gaza, and House Republicans...
News Brief: US Drug Shortage, Israeli Hostage Rescue, and COVID Mandate Case
A staff member sorts through drugs while filling a prescription at the Clay-Battelle Community Health Center's pharmacy in Blacksville, W.Va., on March 21, 2017. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Thomas

​​​​Good morning, and welcome to The Epoch Times News Brief for Tuesday, June 11, 2024. I’m Bill Thomas—let’s jump right into some really interesting stories. First, drug shortages have become a serious but solvable problem. The United States helps the Israelis rescue four hostages in Gaza, and House Republicans have questions for the Manhattan district attorney who prosecuted former President Donald Trump. Plus, an appeals court says the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t really a vaccine, and the FBI dumps hundreds of pages of evidence from a world-famous trial.

We’ll begin with a serious problem that’s grown over the last 10 years: a shortage of much-needed medications.

US Drug Shortage Reaches a Decade High: US Pharmacopeia Reports

2023 marked a 10-year high, according to the United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) first annual Drug Shortage Report. USP is a nonprofit organization that sets quality standards for medication, dietary supplements, and food ingredients worldwide. It listed 125 active drug shortages that were monitored by the FDA at the end of last year.

The USP says it’s not just a supply and demand issue. The report explains that drug shortages are caused by many reasons, including the complex way some of the medications are manufactured, tightening margins, and quality concerns.

Nearly 25 percent of these drugs have been on the shortlist for more than five years, and six drugs, including epinephrine injections, have been in short supply for the last 10 years. Injectable generic medications have been hit hardest and make up more than 53 percent of new drug shortages. The bottom line is that the lack of these meds affects patient care.

The U.S. Pharmacopeia has partnered with other national health care organizations for long-term solutions. They’re asking policymakers to promote lower-priced drugs and a sustainable, high-quality supply chain by establishing a vulnerable medication list, increased supply chain visibility, and more manufacturing capacity.

Switching gears, the world celebrates the dramatic rescue of four Israeli hostages made possible, in part, by U.S. intelligence.

Top US Official Confirms Role in Israeli Operation: No ‘Forces on the Ground’

A senior White House official confirms that the United States helped Israel rescue four hostages last week without any U.S. boots on the ground. In fact, national security adviser Jake Sullivan says the administration has been providing support to Israel for several months, including mapping the locations in Gaza where hostages were being held by Hamas, and by supporting rescue efforts to free them.

Hamas, which is listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, claims 274 people died in the rescue mission that freed the three men and one woman. The Israeli military, however, says fewer than 100 people died in the rescue effort. You should know that Hamas is known for using civilians as shields and for hiding weapons in schools and hospitals.

Mr. Sullivan goes on to say the best way to get all the hostages home and to protect Palestinian civilians is for Hamas to say “yes” to the cease-fire deal that President Joe Biden laid out and that Israel accepted.

President Biden welcomed the return of the four hostages rescued in Gaza and says his administration won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and the war between Hamas and Israel is over.

Back home here in the United States, Republicans are requesting the Manhattan district attorney, who prosecuted former President Trump, to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Manhattan DA Bragg ‘Available’ to Testify in Congress Under Certain Conditions

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, almost immediately after a Manhattan jury convicted the former president on 34 counts of falsifying business records. The House Judiciary chairman wants Mr. Bragg to answer questions regarding the motivation behind former President Trump’s prosecution. Mr. Jordan suggests withholding federal funding from any attempts to prosecute a former president, describing it as the weaponization of the federal government.

Mr. Bragg’s office says he’s open to testifying, but at a later date due to scheduling conflicts.

Former President Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, has pleaded not guilty to all charges, calling it a form of election interference in the lead-up to the November election, adding it was a political hit job.

In the New York case, Mr. Bragg’s office accused the former president of falsifying records related to a payment made to his former lawyer, allegedly to cover up a payment to adult performer Stormy Daniels. Ms. Daniels claimed she had an affair with Mr. Trump in 2006 and he has denied the affair ever happened. Outside of Manhattan, former President Trump has been charged in Washington, D.C.; Florida; and Fulton County, Georgia with different alleged crimes. Trials in all of these cases have either been delayed or put on pause.

Moving along, the federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit challenging the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and here’s why.

Federal Court Revives Lawsuit Against Los Angeles COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The Health Freedom Defense Fund and other challengers to the mandate sued the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), saying the vaccine mandate violated the due process and equal protection rights of district employees, in part because the COVID-19 vaccines, unlike traditional vaccines, are not effective in preventing infection.

U.S. District Judge Fischer disagreed and tossed the case in 2022. He ruled that even if the COVID vaccines don’t prevent infection, mandates can be imposed under a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court ruling because the vaccines reduce symptoms and prevent severe disease and death.

The plaintiffs appealed and a three-member panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed Judge Fischer’s decision by a vote of 2 to 1. The panel found that Judge Fischer incorrectly extended the 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts ruling on vaccine mandates, saying the COVID-19 vaccines are not true vaccines since they don’t prevent either transmission of the virus or a vaccinated person from contracting the virus. The ruling said the vaccines were essentially medical treatment.

Additionally, the majority concluded that the case isn’t moot even after LAUSD in 2023 rescinded the mandate. That happened only after the appeals court heard arguments in the case, and comments from board members that the mandate could be reimposed in the future. The majority cited LAUSD’s pattern of withdrawing and then reinstating its vaccination policies in ruling that the case could continue despite the district withdrawing the mandate for now.

The ruling sends the case back to the original judge so it can be decided under the correct legal standard. Leslie Manookian, president of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, put out a statement saying the Ninth Circuit’s ruling makes it clear that our cherished rights to self-determination, including the sacred right of bodily autonomy in matters of health, are not negotiable. A spokesperson for the school district says they are reviewing the ruling and assessing their options.

Just enough time to bring you this critical piece of information. The FBI releases hundreds of documents in one of the most famous trials of the century, but will it change any minds?

Newly Released FBI Files Delve Into OJ Simpson Murder Investigation

In 1994, OJ Simpson was tried for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Mr. Simpson was found not guilty of all criminal charges, but was later found liable for their deaths in a civil suit brought by the families and was ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution.

The 475 pages of newly released files focus on the collection and testing of forensic evidence from the crime scene. This includes fiber from the infamous white Ford Bronco that the former NFL running back used to flee police, which was seen by millions on TV.

Several pages also focused on a pair of expensive Italian men’s shoes owned by Mr. Simpson. Police say they found bloody shoe prints, which were size 12, that matched a pair of Italian Bruno Magli shoes owned by Mr. Simpson. The documents show the FBI put a lot of time into researching the shoes, including a covert visit to the designer factory in Italy, where investigators obtained shoe molds and soles that were given to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Also included in the files were rambling notes written by someone who claimed to have had premonitions of the murders. The letters were addressed to the FBI and were sent during the month of the crimes. Due to worldwide coverage of the case, the FBI sent out an internal memo at the time, aimed at keeping its investigation under wraps.

Despite being acquitted of the murders, the former football star-turned-actor was arrested for armed robbery in 2008 and served nine years in prison. Mr. Simpson died this past April from prostate cancer at the age of 76.

It was a story that captured the world’s attention.

Time is screaming by, so let’s make that one our last story on the Tuesday edition of The Epoch Times News Brief. At some point today, we hope you’ll tell a friend or two about our program as we’re always trying to grow the News Brief family. Our goal is to become the biggest brief on the block!

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And finally, as we do each and every day on this program, we wrap things up with a very “notable” quote.

It was Ella Fitzgerald who once said: “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

Ella Fitzgerald, known as “The First Lady of Song,” was a revolutionary American jazz singer who performed all over the world. One of the greatest vocalists of all time.

For all of us here at The Epoch Times News Brief, I’m Bill Thomas. We appreciate you starting your day with us, enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, and we’ll see you right back here tomorrow for the Wednesday edition (the midweek edition) of The Epoch Times News Brief! Have an awesome day today. Bye for now.

Bill Thomas is a two-time Golden Mike Award winner who has specialized in breaking news coverage. In his career he has covered floods, forest fires, police pursuits, civil unrest, and freeway collapses. He is a host of EpochCasts News Brief, an audio news show from The Epoch Times. You can reach Bill via email at [email protected]
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