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States Provide For Opioid Crises Lawsuits To Be Settled For $26 Billion
Americas

States Provide For Opioid Crises Lawsuits To Be Settled For $26 Billion

States have finally stepped in to sort out thousands of opioid crises lawsuits hanging over the heads of pharma companies in the United States. Companies have been blamed for hiding information from customers over drugs being habit forming dangers and have been slapped over by lawsuits by many American citizens.

The ones to be more in prominence has been McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. All of them have been caught into negotiating deals for over two years. A recent announcement by the states now unveils a historic $26billion for settlements with drug companies. Communities will now be receiving the much-needed help, without money going to their pockets directly, a formal statement confirms.

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It has been made very clear that this money will not be used to fill any general budget gaps or other issues in the states. Majority of this money will be spent on social services that will address the harm that opioid addiction has led to. The funds will also be utilized towards treatment programs, education on how to dispose of pills and needles, and bolstering funds for first responders.

Use of funds would depend on the specific repercussions of opioid addictions community wise. Currently, statistics confirm that opioid crises have already claimed over one million lives in the US and triggered more than 3000 lawsuits. Most were filed by states themselves, local governments, native American tribes, hospital groups, and others even against players in the pharmaceutical industry.

Apparently, drugmakers have pushed their painkillers beyond medically prescribed levels and that distributors and pharmacies have done nothing to stop this from happening either. Within pandemic, drug addiction through opioids was reported at its worst levels. States included in this settlement includes Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Delaware and Connecticut.

Will only concede if the election is held cleanly: Bolsonaro
Americas

Will only concede if the election is held cleanly: Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, on Thursday, said he would hand over his seat to whoever wins next year’s presidential election on the condition that there is no fraud.

Now, since no elections are ever void of allegations of rigging and fraud, Bolsonaro’s critics fear that he won’t concede the result and the country will face a long episode of political crisis.

Bolsonaro has a history of making unfounded claims about fraudulent elections in the country since 2018, which many see as laying the groundwork for the next elections.

In recent months, the Brazilian czar has also been touting printed ballot invoices instead of the latest computer voting. He says that printed ballots are easy to audit in case of allegations of fraud.

He, much like his political idol Donald Trump, is being seen as resorting to a revolt. He also upheld Trump’s allegations of theft in last year’s elections that culminated in a bloody January 6 assault on the Washington Capitol.

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Pre-election polls show that the far-right former army captain is far behind former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the latter has gained popularity amongst the masses lately. 

Bolsonaro has largely mishandled the Covid-19 crises and his steps, as per critics, have put public health in jeopardy.

“I’ll hand over the sash to whoever wins the election cleanly, and not with fraud,” said Bolsonaro, in a weekly address via social media. 

Resorting to hasty and hefty steps of clearing his image, Bolsonaro has fired a health ministry official who asked for a bribe in a vaccine deal. The latest graft accusation has taken the local media by storm.

The country has, so far, seen half-million Covid-19 deaths and anger is mounting in the public about the missed opportunities to buy coronavirus vaccines.

Currently, accusations of corruption in the vaccine deal have poured fuel on the fire, bringing up new calls for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

Biden pitches bipartisan infrastructure proposal in Wisconsin, calls it a “generational investment”
Americas

Biden pitches bipartisan infrastructure proposal in Wisconsin, calls it a “generational investment”

 Last week US President Joe Biden agreed on the bipartisan infrastructure proposal that will benefit middle class and working families across America. During his speech from La Crosse, Wisconsin President Biden stressed on the benefits of proposal saying, “After months of careful negotiation — of listening, compromising together and in good faith moving together, with ups and downs and some blips – a bipartisan group of senators got together and they’ve forged an agreement to move forward on the key priorities of my American Jobs Plan.”

He added, “This is a generational investment, a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure, creating millions of good-paying jobs … and positions America to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century, because China is way outworking us in terms of infrastructure.”

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This was when last week Biden almost derailed the proposal through his remarks saying that he wouldn’t sign the bill unless he successfully has negotiated another sweeping Democratic proposal. While clarifying on his said remarks, Biden argued in Wisconsin that the proposal would lead to much needed upgrades in America’s infrastructure. The proposal will be a total of $1.2 trillion over span of eight years would be used for upgrading public transportation, bridges and roads. This is turn will create millions of American jobs. Biden added calling the crumbling infrastructure “a drain on economy” of US, “You all know that feeling losing time, sitting in traffic or being rerouted because the bridge isn’t wide enough or the road is poorly maintained. This deal is going to put Americans back to fixing all of that, and good paying jobs.”

Biden stressed on importance of upgrade to the safety reasons and lives of people. He noted that investments would also be made to replace lead pipes across US. “This deal contains the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in American history.”

President Biden praised the bipartisan nature of bill calling it a signal that all leaders are channeled to work for the country and deliver to people. “We can’t give up on what we keep finding ways to come together because every time we negotiate in good faith and come together and get something big done, we break a little more of the ice that too often keeps us frozen in place and prevents us from solving the real problems people are facing,” Biden said.

Future of the bill, however, remains uncertain as Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that House won’t pass the bill until Senate through budget reconciliation passes the Families Plan. 11 Republicans have signed to pass the infrastructure framework bill in Senate but their constant support isn’t certain.

22.5 years of prison sentence to Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder
Americas

22.5 years of prison sentence to Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder

 Former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin has been sentenced for 22 years six months for second degree murder of George Floyd last year. The sentence was given on Friday two months after jury had found him guilty for Floyd’s death on three charges. And with this one chapter of racial discrimination and American policing that had caught global attention has come to closure.

The sentence given by Hennepin county judge Peter Cahill is a 10 year extension of original recommended sentence period suggested by the state for second degree murder charge. Prosecutors were successful in arguing that due to many aggravating factors in the unfolding of Floyd’s murder, Chauvin must face stricter sentence. Judge Cahill remarked before issuing the sentence that his judgement was not driven by any emotion or sympathy, but added, “I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family.”

Court has released a 22 page memorandum in which Cahill has explained the reasoning behind harsher sentence to Chauvin. He wrote, “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis police department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect’. Here, Mr Chauvin rather than pursuing the MPD mission, treated Mr Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”

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Prosecutors had sought 30 years of sentence for Chauvin which was reiterated by Floyd’s family members. After the announcement by judge, court witnessed statements by Floyd’s family members, including the video recoding message by his seven year old daughter Gianna. Floyd’s brother Philonise told court, “Every day I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George, while others begged, they pleaded for officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath. I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again.”

Chauvin, who was wearing a grey suit in court, sat with little visible emotion. Terrence Floyd, another brother of George Floyd, directly addressed Chauvin, “I wanted to know from the man himself, why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck. When you knew that he posed no threat any more, he was handcuffed, why you didn’t at least get up, why you stayed there?”

Chauvin spoke briefly to court, “Very briefly though, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family, there’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest, and I hope some things would give you some peace of mind.”

Derek Chauvin, on May 25, 2020 kneeled on George Floyd’s neck as he visibly was in distress and eventually died of asphyxiation, His last repeated words “I can’t breathe” ignited nationwide protests against police brutality on people of color and iconic Black Lives Matter movement across USA urging for police accountability.

Why Kamala Harris Has Not Visited The US Mexico Border?
Americas

Why Kamala Harris Has Not Visited The US Mexico Border?

Vice President Kamala Harris’ first international trip into Central America seems to have not gone well. There are some strange embarrassments of her fumbling over border questions which the White House administration will have some explaining to do over.

Her news conference was clumsy as she reiterated that “we have been to the border, we have been there”, to which a news reporter was quick on his feet to say, “you still have not been to the border actually.” She might not have meant it literally, but then it has enough ammunition to be twisted otherwise. White House administration is hopeful that these statements might go into the shadows, provided the rest of her trip goes well.

Ms. Harris held the stand that we should look at the immigration problem as a whole. Obviously, she has a critics club which will repeatedly bring back these questions to the forefront.  The Biden administration is going to take time to undo the damage that has been done by Trump in his presidential tenure.

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There has been surge of movement at the US-Mexico border. Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that President Biden is inviting them to cross the border.

This has also meant thousands of unescorted children reaching the border. The situation has been a little offhand, but the administration has been doing its best to contain the situation. Meanwhile, PM Joe Biden had asked Harris to address the root cause in March. In her movement through Central America, she was bogged down with questions as to why she wasn’t visiting the border herself. She commented she would not want to make this a ‘grand gesture’.  “I’ve been to the border before. I will go again,” Harris insisted. “But when I’m in Guatemala dealing with root causes, I think we should have a conversation about what’s going on in Guatemala.” There might be good reason in what she is doing. In fact, everything in Biden’s leadership doesn’t come without good reasoning.

Zahid Quraishi Becomes Symbol Religious Freedom As New Jersey Federal Judge
Americas

Zahid Quraishi Becomes Symbol Religious Freedom As New Jersey Federal Judge

Zahid Quraishi has become the first Muslim American federal judge that won through an impressive vote of 81to16. His nomination makes him the first US District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

He got a majority vote from the senate, breaking the long 244-year history for the US. Quraishi is the son of Pakistani immigrants. His parents came to the US where he was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. He is lawyer by profession and joined a law firm in 2001 but enlisted in the military after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Quraishi will serve as an Article III judge. Everyone took the fact to heart that he has shown exemplary patriotism in his role and responsibilities as a federal servant in various capacities.

After leaving the Army, Quraishi went onto work for the Department of Homeland Security and then the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey before he returned to private practice. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S. magistrate judge in New Jersey — making him the first Asian American to serve on the federal bench in the state.

Joe Biden has done remarkably different things in his tenure as a President. His endeavor has been to bring in diversity and comradery in the United States. In March, Quraishi became the first Muslim American to be a part of the first judicial nominations that President Biden announced. The diverse slate also  included three African American women tapped for Circuit Court vacancies; the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C.; and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland. Ahead of Quraishi’s confirmation, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said voting him in would be a reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.

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Massive bipartisan bill passed in US Senate to counter China’s growing presence in tech & economy
Americas

Massive bipartisan bill passed in US Senate to counter China’s growing presence in tech & economy

 On Tuesday, the Senate passed massive bipartisan bill of investing over $200 billion in American technology, science and research in order to tackle growing Chinese influence in this sector. Nineteen Republicans joined Democrats to vote for the bill bringing the final vote count to 68-32. Senator of Vermont, Bernie Sanders was the only member of Democratic caucus to have voted against the bill. The voting was a rare sight of unification of both parties.

Centre of bill is emergency allotment of $50bn to United States Department of Commerce in order to boost development and manufacturing of semiconductors through previously authorized research and incentive programs. The bill would eventually expand to about $250bn with spending spread out across five years period.

Bill would now go to House of Representatives for approval which has already approved a version of the said bill. The two bills would then be fused into a single bill before sending to White House for signature of President Joe Biden. Passing of the United States Innovation and Competition Act by Senate has been lauded by President Biden who said, “We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off.”

He added, “As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on Earth.”

The bill is seen as a big achievement in investment into scientific research by the US at a time when country’s global share of semiconductor manufacturing has gradually fell from 37% in 1990 to current 12%. Furthermore, computer chip manufacturing shortage has exposed vulnerable supply chain in US.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has largely backed this bill said, “The premise is simple, if we want American workers and American companies to keep leading the world, the federal government must invest in science, basic research and innovation, just as we did decades after the second world war.” He added, “Whoever wins the race to the technologies of the future is going to be the global economic leader, with profound consequences for foreign policy and national security as well. If we do nothing, our days as the dominant superpower may be ending. We don’t mean to let those days end on our watch. We don’t mean to see America become a middling nation in this century.”

Bill also includes several China-centered provisions like prohibiting download of social media app TikTok on government devices, and banning purchase of drones manufactured or sold by China-backed companies. It will also allow Taiwanese military and diplomats to display their flag and wear their uniforms in the US when on official businesses. New sanctions are also provisioned in the bill against Chinese officials who are engaged in cyberattacks or intellectual property theft against US.

Peru votes for its future tomorrow
Americas

Peru votes for its future tomorrow

With promises of political and economic change to “save” Peru from “communism” and Covid-19, presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Castillo capped their campaigns ahead of the second round of elections on Sunday.

The candidates are neck-to-neck in opinion polls with just one week ahead of the country’s most polarized presidential election. The ballot could take the country towards being a relatively safe haven for investors and sharply swing it to the left or see the somewhat controversial Fujimori family return to power.

Keiko Fujimori, the 46-year-old heir of the Fujimori dynasty, pledged to maintain stability in Peru amid a race with socialist rival Pedro Castillo, who is very popular among the poor, by pledging to quash the status quo.

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Fujimori has been active in politics since her youth as she appeared as a 19-year-old ‘first lady’ with her father in the 1990s, during his divisive administration, and as a lawmaker twice before running for the top office.

On Sunday, Fujimori brought up a proposal to seek more contributions from the country’s mining companies. Castillo, who is an elementary school teacher, has proposed raising taxes on miners.

Mining is a major source of revenue and economic stability for Peru. Its public finances remain strong but have been struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, with rising fiscal deficits and public debt.

Right-wing Fujimori and leftist Castillo have staged massive rallies despite gatherings being banned due to the health emergency. The authorities did not intervene to stop the campaigns.

The country, faced with proposals for political and economic on one hand, and a defense of the neoliberal model on the other, votes for either of them on the 6th of June.

Forecasts indicate that the election will be fought “vote by vote”. The winner will take over from the interim president Francisco Sagasti on July 28.

Bloody weekend in the United States: several mass shootings from New Jersey to Ohio
Americas

Bloody weekend in the United States: several mass shootings from New Jersey to Ohio

Yet another bloody week-end in the United States. The country witnessed a new wave of violence between Friday and Saturday, bringing the country’s death toll to over 7,500 since the beginning of the year. According to CNN, according to which there have been over 200 mass shootings in the country since the beginning of this year, with an increase of 23% compared to 2020.

A six-year-old boy died after being hit by a bullet in a dispute between his mother and another driver on a California highway, Freeway 55, local media said. The boy’s mother, Aiden Leos, was taking her son to school in Orange County 50 kilometers from Los Angeles when one car cut off the other. Someone in the car behind fired a single shot at the car the child was traveling in. The bullet passed the trunk and hit little Aiden in the back. “Mom, my stomach hurts!” Aiden shouted as his mother, in full panic, immediately stopped. An off-duty police officer stopped and gave the boy a heart massage and forced breathing, and the ambulance urgently transported him to the hospital where Aiden was pronounced dead.

Police officer Florentino Olivera told the Los Angeles Times it was “an isolated case of road rage.” Police closed the busy Freeway 55 for hours during the investigation. A white sedan with a man and a woman on board is actively sought. It is the latest in a growing number of shoot-outs in the US. In an equally senseless road ‘accident’ earlier this week, a group of family members were talking on the sidewalk when a man on an electric scooter passed through the group. When a woman shouted at him to go slower, the man stopped, put on a mask, and shot, seriously injuring the woman and a 5-year-old child, according to the police reconstruction. Officers are looking for a 26-year-old homeless man, Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said.

Minneapolis remembers George Floyd

May 25 marks the first anniversary of the African American’s death and the city remains split: racial tensions have remained unresolved; the police department is in crisis and under investigation by the Justice Department.And above all, the crime rate and violence are on the rise. In recent weeks, a six-year-old girl was killed and two other children were seriously injured in a shooting. Three other people were killed in two separate shootings on the night between Friday and Saturday.

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For the anniversary of the death of the ‘good giant’, who has become the face of the Black Lives Matter movement, President Joe Biden receives in the White House the family of Floyd killed by former agent-executioner Derek Chauvin, convicted by the jury and waiting to know its final sentence. For Biden, this is an important appointment to ‘reunite’ the United States and the Americans after four years of divisions with Donald Trump and to try to turn the page and show the tolerant and open face of America.

At the meeting, however, the president presents himself with ‘empty hands’: the awaited police reform is at a standstill in Congress where negotiations have been stalled for days now. The goal of approving it for today, as Biden wished, is difficult and almost impossible despite the pressure and forward flight of the individual states. Pending federal rules, New York prosecutor Letitia James has indeed proposed a tightening on the use of force by law enforcement: there can only be a “last resort” after all other alternatives have been tried.

Biden flaunts Israel-Gaza ceasefire surviving his Presidency’s first foreign crisis
Americas

Biden flaunts Israel-Gaza ceasefire surviving his Presidency’s first foreign crisis

Just an hour before official declaration and coming into effect of truce between Israel and Gaza, US President Joe Biden touted the ceasefire that would bring an end to 11 day long violence and bloodshed in the region. Biden credited his Presidency’s relentless, quiet and successful diplomacy, along with ceasefire efforts by Egypt to bring truce between Israel and Hamas controlled Gaza Strip. The positive development will hopefully bring an end to conflict that was a testing fire as first major foreign crisis of Biden’s presidency. It also checked waters and tested decades long friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister.

“We’ve held intensive high-level discussions, hour-by-hour, literally, (with) Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and other Middle Eastern countries with an aim of avoiding the sort of prolonged conflict we’ve seen in previous years when the hostilities have broken out,” Biden said from White House in a hastily arranged speech delivered an hour before ceasefire was to take effect.

What the Israel and Gaza conflict and then subsequent ceasefire transcribed about Joe Biden’s presidency and his experience in foreign policy is something noteworthy. Just under five months into his presidency Joe Biden showcased how well versed, polished and experienced his foreign policy is as compared to his predecessors and that he can handle trickiest of foreign crises rapidly and efficiently. The prime approach highlighted during past ten days was that Biden believed in ‘quit and private’ diplomacy rather than issuing random public statements. He held his stand and policy in this matter even after being criticized by fellow Democrats over not condemning Israel’s offensive and the conflict more forcefully and publicly.

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Biden now has expressed his confidence that his approach of behind the scenes talks with Netanyahu have been successful in bringing an end to violence faster. Biden’s modus operandi was simple – engage in talks privately and effectively rather than issuing a face-off with close ally Netanyahu publicly and possibly accelerating the situation. He reportedly felt that private talks along with public condemnation would have delayed truce chances. He did in past couple of days took a hard and firm road to Israel telling Netanyahu bluntly that violence needs to stop, but it was done privately.

Biden is known to be Israel’s firm supporter since his days as young senator. But carefully balancing his statements Biden treaded on a neutral road by supporting Palestinians right to better living conditions as he also supported Israel’s right to defend their territory after Hamas triggered the conflict by launching rocket attacks last Monday. “I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end.”

On Thursday, Israel and Hamas announced independently of accepting mutual ceasefire agreeing to initiative by Egypt. Hamas leader told that ceasefire would go into effect on Thursday 7pm ET.

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