Most “evil” family in America? Sacklers refuse to apologize for role in opioid crisis – National & International News – FRI 18Dec2020

David Sackler, owner and former board member of Purdue Pharma, refused to take any responsibility for his family's role in driving the opioid crisis.
December 18th, 2020     Today's News Summary

Sacklers refuse to apologize for role in opioid crisis. Another deadline likely to pass without COVID relief; government may shut down. Nigeria recovers 344 kidnapped boys.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Sacklers refuse to apologize for role in opioid crisis

“I’m not sure I know of any family in America that is more evil than yours”. This was the reaction from House Democrat Jim Cooper (TN) following Congressional testimony on the opioid crisis from two members of the Sackler family. The billionaire Sackler family owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma. David and Kathe Sackler, both former board members of Purdue, refused to accept any responsibility for their role in driving the opioid crisis, which claimed the lives of over 500,000 Americans.

Internal documents show that David Sackler, in particular, continually pushed Purdue to fulfill sales quotas by any means necessary. Often, those means included illegal kickbacks to doctors who over-prescribed their addictive pain medication, and downplaying the dangers of addiction. Sackler continued to push quotas even after a 2007 judgment against the company for their shady business practices.

Last month, Purdue accepted a plea deal from the Justice Department. Under the terms of the deal, Purdue agreed to pay $8 billion in fines the Sacklers agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. No one from Purdue or the Sackler family will spend a day in jail.

In her testimony, Kathe Sackler said her “heart breaks” for the millions who have suffered from the opioid crisis. But apparently she is not “heart-broken” enough to return the estimated $12 billion her family raked in off that pain, suffering, and death.

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Another deadline likely to pass without COVID relief; government may shut down

Despite progress made this week, a number of relatively minor hang-ups may mean that COVID relief negotiations may run into the weekend. So far, lawmakers have agreed several key points. The bill will include: $300 billion in aid to businesses; a $300/week unemployment bonus; $600 stimulus checks; and funds  for vaccine distribution, renters, schools, and food aid. The remaining obstacles involve GOP efforts to block emergency lending programs by the Fed and Treasury, and Democratic demands to eliminate a matching-funds clause for state and local governments.

Republicans also say they may block a temporary funding measure for the federal government, forcing a weekend government shutdown.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria recovers 344 kidnapped boys

The governor of the northern Nigerian state of Katsina announced the rescue of 344 boys kidnapped from a government school last week. It remains uncertain exactly how many of the boys were taken in the kidnapping, claimed by Boko Haram. There were 800 boys at the school when it was attacked. Some were marched into nearby forests by the attackers and others fled own their own into the forests out of fear. The governor believes that most if not all the missing boys have been found. However, reports indicate that several dozen may still be missing.

The government is now looking at ways to make its schools more secure, either by hiring more police or engaging private security firms. In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, of whom 112 remain missing to this day.

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“Hours left” to negotiate post-Brexit trade deal with EU

Leading EU negotiator Michel Barnier says that a dispute over fishing rights is one of the last hurdles to resolve in post-Brexit trade negotiations. British and European negotiators are currently wrangling over whether the EU could place tariffs on UK goods if Britain closes its waters to EU fisheries in the future. An agreement must be signed by midnight on Sunday in order to be in force on January 1. Negotiators on both sides remain hopeful of reaching an agreement by then but say the “path is very narrow”. If the talks fail, trade between the UK and EU will devolve to World Trade Organization terms. This would make imports and exports subject to tariffs and quotas which could cause prices to rise both in Britain and on the Continent.

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