Purdue Pharma, US states agree to new opioid settlement
Purdue Pharma reached a nationwide settlement Thursday over its role in the opioid crisis, with the Sackler family members who own the company boosting their cash contribution to as much as $6 billion in a deal intended to staunch a flood of lawsuits facing the maker of OxyContin.
The deal follows an earlier settlement that had been appealed by eight states and the District of Columbia. They agreed to sign on after the Sacklers kicked in more cash and accepted other terms. In exchange, the family would be protected from civil lawsuits.
In all, the plan could be worth more than $10 billion over time. It calls for members of the Sackler family to give up control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company so it can be turned into a new entity with profits used to fight the crisis. The deal would not shield members of the family from criminal charges, although there’s no indication any are forthcoming.
As vaccine demand falls, states are left with huge stockpile
As demand for COVID-19 vaccines collapses in many areas of the U.S., states are scrambling to use stockpiles of doses before they expire and have to be added to the millions that have already gone to waste.
From some of the least vaccinated states, like Indiana and North Dakota, to some of the most vaccinated states, like New Jersey and Vermont, public health departments are shuffling doses around in the hopes of finding providers that can use them.
State health departments told The Associated Press they have tracked millions of doses that went to waste, including ones that expired, were in a multi-dose vial that couldn’t be used completely or had to be tossed for some other reason like temperature issues or broken vials.
Takeaways as Jan. 6 panel eyes Trump ‘criminal conspiracy’
The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol has previewed some of its findings in a federal court filing, and investigators for the first time said they have enough evidence to suggest then-President Donald Trump committed crimes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump will be charged, or even that the Justice Department will investigate. But the legal document offers an early look at some of the panel’s likely conclusions, which are expected to be submitted in coming months. The committee has interviewed more than 650 witnesses as it investigates the violent siege by Trump supporters, the worst attack on the Capitol in more than two centuries.
CA’s governor wants mental health courts for homeless people
California’s governor unveiled a plan Thursday to create mental health courts in every county, allowing treatment for more homeless people with severe mental health and addiction disorders but also compelling some of them into care, a move that many advocates of homeless people oppose as a violation of civil rights.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference that he has no intention of rounding people up and locking them away. Instead, he said his plan would offer a way for people to get court-ordered psychiatric treatment, medication and housing, preferably before they are arrested.
Under the plan, which requires approval by the Legislature, all counties would have to set up a mental health branch in civil court and provide comprehensive and community-based treatment to those suffering from debilitating psychosis. People need not be homeless to be evaluated by a court.
Fuel in water deepens Native Hawaiians’ distrust of military
A well-known adage in Hawaiian, ola i ka wai, means “water is life.”
Native Hawaiians revere water in all its forms as the embodiment of one of the Hawaiian pantheon’s four principal gods.
The resource is so valuable that to have it in abundance means prosperity. The Hawaiian word for water — wai — is repeated in the word for wealth — waiwai.
So when the Navy confirmed petroleum from one of its fuel tank facilities had leaked into Pearl Harbor’s tap water, many Native Hawaiians were not just concerned, they were hurt and offended.
“This has been the most egregious assault on a public trust resource in the history of Hawaii,” said Kamanamaikalani Beamer, a former trustee of the Commission on Water Resource Management.
Al Jazeera News
One killed as two cargo ships hit by explosions off Ukraine
An Estonian-owned cargo ship has sunk off Ukraine’s major Black Sea port of Odesa, hours after a Bangladeshi vessel was hit by a missile or bomb at another port.
Many shipping firms have suspended sailings to affected Black Sea ports and other terminals in Ukraine as Russia’s invasion of the country enters its second week.
At least three commercial ships have been hit by projectiles since February 24.
Two crew members from the Marshall Islands-flagged and Estonian-owned Helt cargo ship were in a life raft at sea while four others were unaccounted for, Igor Ilves, managing director of Tallinn-based manager Vista Shipping Agency, told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.
US jobless claims fall to lowest since start of year
Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell by more than forecast to the lowest level since the start of the year, as Covid-19 cases decline and restrictions ease.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 18,000 to 215,000 in the week ended Feb. 26, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate called for 225,000 applications in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
France seizes Russian oligarch’s yacht amid EU sanctions
Custom officers in France have seized a yacht belonging to Rosneft boss Igor Sechin as it tried to leave the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat in a breach of European Union sanctions on Russian oligarchs, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
The incident came as Western states are rapidly implementing severe sanctions, including asset freezes, against Russia for invading its neighbour Ukraine.
Climate change: Why it is now or never for India
The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has painted a bleak picture for India, warning that the South Asian country could face multiple climate change-induced disasters in the next two decades.
Unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced by 2030, it will become impossible for Indian authorities to reverse an imminent climate catastrophe, it said.
"The IPCC report clearly delineates that multiple climatic and non-climatic risks will interact with each other, which will result in increased overall risks cascading across sectors and regions. It will pose unique challenges to India," Ritwick Dutta, an India-based lawyer at the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) organization, told DW.
"This should serve as a wake-up call for the Indian government to mainstream climate concerns across all levels of decision making," added Dutta, who received the 2021 Right Livelihood Award for his work with local communities.