Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Put the Sacklers in prison

The Sacklers profited from the opioid epidemic, yes.  But they also created the epidemic.  Now that they're facing lawsuits -- huge lawsuits -- they suddenly want to sell of Purdue Pharma.  From this morning's MORNING EDITION:

We reported yesterday that state officials are demanding compensation from Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, for the company's role in the deadly opioid epidemic. Well, it appears that states attorneys general could be getting what they want from Purdue Pharma after all. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann has some exclusive reporting on this. He covers opioid litigation for NPR and joins me. Hi there, Brian.


GREENE: So this is all about an email that you got last night from the company, right? What exactly did it say?

MANN: Yeah. So we've been, obviously, pursuing Purdue Pharma for a long time here at NPR to try to understand where they're at in these high-stakes talks. Abruptly, the company sent an email to NPR yesterday. And for the first time, they and their owners, the Sackler family, outlined publicly what they're offering to essentially cap their liability and resolve all these lawsuits in one big deal. And here's what they're saying - the Sacklers are offering to give up the entire value of their main company, Purdue Pharma. This is a company with annual revenues around $3 billion. They've also offered another $3 billion in cash, and they say they would forfeit income from the sale of an overseas subsidiary called Mundipharma, which they claim is worth another $1.5 billion.

GREENE: So they're suddenly going into all this detail. I mean, hadn't the Sacklers and the company declined to say anything or confirm anything? What - why are they suddenly forthcoming?

MANN: Yeah. Well, they're pretty clear about why. They're offering these details in order to dispute an account of these really contentious settlement talks given by state attorneys general over the weekend. Those government officials who are suing Purdue Pharma told NPR that they demanded guarantees from the Sacklers, that at least $4.5 billion would come from their personal wealth. In other words, they wanted any settlement to drain some of the huge, private fortune that this family amassed by selling opioids. The attorneys general said the Sacklers declined to make that commitment. 

They shouldn't be able to sell their way out of their responsibilities.  Regardless of whether they sell the company or not, they need to make restitution to their victims. 

They didn't care about the people they harmed.  They only cared about the money that they could make.  They went out of their way to cause and create addiction.  They should be in prison.  And someone selling that crap on a street corner would be in prison.

Here's North Carolina's attorney general, Josh Stein. He spoke yesterday here on MORNING EDITION.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019.  Will Joe Biden implode?

Starting in the US where the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination continues and all eyes are on Joe Biden as we wait for the implosion of his latest campaign.

“It’s like the corpse is already rotting.” Dang that is brutal.

Krystal's linking to David Siders and Elana Schneider's POLITICO article about how "many people expect his campaign to implode any day."  From the article:

“There’s a clear worry among Biden supporters that he can’t be the front-runner from June of 2019 through July of 2020 … that eventually, the gaffes will pile up and he’ll come down,” said Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and one of Biden’s most vocal supporters.
Many of Biden’s supporters, said Rendell, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, are “nervous as hell.”

Last week, Joe Biden lied on NPR.  As we noted at THIRD:

 Asher Stockler (NEWSWEEK) countered, "Although during the time preceding and following the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Biden, in fact, did not oppose the broader war effort.  In many instances, he openly supported it."  Paul Blest (SPLINTER) covered the lie as well and offered, "Here’s a fun game to play at home with your friends and loved ones: Is Joe Biden lying, senile, or both?"  Eoin Higgins (SALON) went with, "As Khalid pointed out in her report from the interview, that's not backed up by the historical record."  Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski (CNN) observed, "In recent speeches and interviews defending his past foreign policy decisions, former Vice President Joe Biden has misrepresented his past position on the Iraq War."   

The lie was so embarrassing that Joe's campaign has offered a new lie.  He "misspoke."

This is new. Joe Biden told us on the that he oppposed the Iraq War “Immediately, the moment it started.” Now, a senior campaign advisor says Biden “misspoke.”

She's linking to Glenn Kesller's nonsense that we covered yesterday.  For those who missed it, Asma is the reporter who interviewed Joe last Tuesday.  Glenn waited until yesterday to 'fact check' Joe's claim that he had immediately opposed the Iraq War.  He 'fact checked' it by including a statement from his friend Anthony Blinken -- no mention was made of the off-the-page relationship, long relationship, Glenn has had with Tony.  Tony insists that Joe mispoke.  Glenn lies for his friend.

This?  This is misspeaking.

Another beauty from Joe Biden.

Joe is yet again confusing any living European female politician with the long dead Margaret Thatcher.  He does that over and over.  Getting the name wrong is misspeaking -- possible sign of senility as well.

Saying that you opposed the Iraq War "immediately, the moment that it started" when you did not?  That's not, "Oops I confused two people."  That's "Oops, I lied."  And he did lie.

And it sure is nice to know that disclosure of relationships is no longer required at Jeff Bezos' WASHINGTON POST.  It will allow for many more favors to be called in and many more truths to be kept out of the paper.

Glenn, who fact checks you?  And who fact checks how you allow your friends to shape your fact checks?

Meanwhile Joe continues to fail in his attempts to connect with young voters.  At THE MICHIGAN DAILY, student Sam Fogel offers his take on Joe:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is unfit to be the Democratic nominee, let alone president. He is a geriatric relic of a bygone era, a candidate that represents stagnancy in an age of political revolutions and upsets. Out of the many candidates on the Democratic stage, he is the second oldest only behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt., and only by a single year. The ripe age of 76. Not even former President Barack Obama seemed to be keen on Biden running, reportedly telling his VP, “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t.” His opinions are antiquated, conflating the poor with Black people and the privileged with white people. He represents an old guard of Democrats, even older than the neoliberal Clinton-era troupe. My blathering about this particular baby boomer isn’t going to change minds, but maybe a look through his history will.
Biden started his career in the ʼ70s dealing with the long-contentious issue of forced integration in student busing, in which he backed the wrong side and adamantly stood against the Department of Education’s efforts to integrate segregated school districts. Fellow 2020 candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. (who has had plenty of problematic positions dealing with racial inequality in the past herself), criticized Biden about this in the first presidential debate on June 27. Of course, he tried to defend himself with convoluted excuses, but the issue still stands. When it came to the fight for civil rights, Biden couldn’t sacrifice his constituents in Delaware to fight for what was right. In a 1975 interview with the People Paper, he said “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation. And I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,” seemingly ignorant of the concept of generational wealth. 

People seem to forget Biden was an architect of the war on drugs. His voting record concerning minimum sentencing and bills relating to drug related crimes has been horrendous. He was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, helping write many laws that led to a more punitive justice system. Said laws have laid waste to many already marginalized communities, putting people in prison unjustly and ruining lives as a consequence. In response to former President George H.W. Bush’s plan for decreasing drug use in 1989, Biden said that it “doesn’t include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time” — a statement that has aged like milk. The laws Biden helped write include the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included (by his own admission) over 70 new enhanced penalties and 125,000 new prison cells.

That is consistent with the view we see expressed at the various colleges we spoke to before Joe announced his bid for the nomination and at the various colleges since.

I've noted before that the college students form the on-the-ground backbone of any campaign and it's very hard to see how no-enthusiasm Joe gets them energized.

For more on Joe Biden, you can listen to yesterday's FLASHPOINTS (KPFA) where Dennis Bernstein speaks with Norman Solomon -- Norman is the last third of the program.  "I think it's crucial to make sure that he is not the nominee," Norman says at one point.

Meanwhile in Iraq?  Lizzie Porter (THE NEW HUMANITARIAN) reports:

Last summer, Iraq’s oil-rich southern city of Basra was rocked by violent protests over a number of grievances, including unemployment and the lack of safe drinking water – anger and unrest that came as hospitals treated some 118,000 people for water-borne diseases.
More than a year later, Iraq has a new government, but residents say little has been done to fix chronic problems with the water management system, and some fear a repeat of the 2018 troubles could be on the horizon for the city and wider province’s four million residents. Hundreds took to the streets again in June, protesting the lack of basic services.
With the academic year starting this month, more than 250,000 children are returning to hundreds of schools that lack clean running water or fit-for-purpose tanks and pipes, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an aid organisation that works in Basra.

Up to 40 percent of Basra province remains unconnected to the sewage network, and most people are forced to buy water from privately-run trucks, or purchase bottled water. Those bottles end up littering thoroughfares, and many waterways are clogged with rubbish.

Nothing has changed.  And protests have already started in Iraq by graduating college students who cannot find jobs.  Iraq is a failed state that's failing more now than ever.

Turning to the issue of veterans issues, the suicide rate among veterans remains alarmingly high.   The Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee have their own Twitter feed and here are two Tweets from that feed on the topic of suicides.

Women veterans often experience a loss of community after their service. As we recognize September as National Awareness Month, now is the time to for women veterans and support the important work of the .
"We have actually now had more Afghanistan and Iraq veterans die of suicide than in combat." - on veteran suicide.

The following sites updated: