Contact Me By Email

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Fate of Billions for Opioid Victims From Sacklers Rests With Supreme Court

Fate of Billions for Opioid Victims From Sacklers Rests With Supreme Court

“The court will decide whether Purdue’s owners can gain permanent immunity from future opioid lawsuits in exchange for payments up to $6 billion.

Tiffinee Scott, Dede Yoder and Cheryl Juaire.
From left: Tiffinee Scott, Dede Yoder and Cheryl Juaire, whose children became addicted to the Purdue painkiller OxyContin and later died, wrote to the Supreme Court.Hilary Swift for The New York Times

By Jan Hoffman

Jan Hoffman has covered the Purdue litigation since 2018.

In 2014, when the first opioid lawsuits were filed against Purdue Pharma, Tiffinee Scott’s daughter was still years away from her fatal overdose from addictive prescription painkillers, including Purdue’s OxyContin, which she was taking to manage sickle cell pain.

That year, Dede Yoder’s teenage son was struggling with an addiction that began with an OxyContin prescription for a sports injury. He would die from an overdose in 2017, after attempting rehab eight times.

It would be years before Gary Carter’s son, who had been filching his grandparents’ OxyContin, would die from an overdose of fentanyl, an illicit opioid that many people who became addicted to prescription painkillers eventually turned to over the past decade.

The three families and others who have ended up suing Purdue shared their stories in letters to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral argument Monday on the remaining sticking point in the yearslong effort to settle litigation that has ballooned into nearly 3,000 cases. A multi-billion-dollar agreement is at stake.

A ruling upholding the disputed provision would finally start the flow of payments from the company and its owners — members of the billionaire Sackler family — to cities, states, tribes and individuals to help them cope with the costs of the ongoing opioid crisis. It would also allow Purdue to emerge from bankruptcy restructuring as a public benefit company.

A ruling against the measure could blow up the painstakingly negotiated settlement, leaving the fate of the company and the urgently sought payments up in the air.

The court will consider the legality of a condition demanded by the Sacklers and approved by a bankruptcy judge: In exchange for paying up to $6 billion, the Sacklers insist on being shielded from civil lawsuits that anyone else might want to bring against them involving Purdue and opioids.

That liability shield is standard for businesses that file for bankruptcy, as Purdue has done. But the Sacklers have not filed for bankruptcy. Still, they argue that because the Purdue settlement relies on their personal contributions, Purdue’s liability protection should also extend to them.

The situation has created an agonizing irony for many who have lost loved ones to opioids. Desperate for funds to pay off their debts and address the addiction crisis, many support giving the Sacklers the sweeping legal pass.

“NO ONE wants to see the Sacklers pay the full price more than me,” Cheryl Juaire, who organized grieving parents, wrote to the court. “I lost TWO SONS as a result of their actions. But the only thing that will make my personal tragedy worse is to know that others will suffer the way I do every day.”

An overwhelming majority of claimants reached that conclusion more than two years ago, voting in favor of the settlement plan, including liability immunity for the Sacklers. They said they feared that protracted litigation would devour money that they have long needed.

But an arm of the Justice Department that monitors bankruptcy proceedings objected, along with a handful of other parties, arguing that precluding people from having their day in court was both unconstitutional and outside the power of a bankruptcy court.

Last summer, after a federal appeals court upheld the Sackler shields, the Justice Department division, the U.S. Trustee Program, petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the matter.

The speed with which the court scheduled the case may reflect its awareness of the opioid problem. But legal experts said its ruling would be unlikely to dwell on the public health crisis. The court, they said, will focus narrowly on the liability shield, an increasingly popular, though contentious, bankruptcy tactic.

“I’m sure, though, that even if the opioid crisis doesn’t show up anywhere in the opinion, the court has to be bearing in mind that cities, states and individuals have been desperately waiting for these funds. They need to know the answer to this question so they can figure out what to do next,” said Adam Zimmerman, who teaches mass tort law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

Though numerous pharmaceutical companies have been sued for their roles in the opioid epidemic, the Sacklers and Purdue loom large in the story of the complex, decades-old crisis. Their signature drug, OxyContin, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 1995, became a game changer in a new market hungry for prescription painkillers. To the medical establishment that was then beginning to recognize pain as a “fifth vital sign,” long-acting OxyContin looked like a wondrous medication.

Purdue became known for lavish sales conferences, at which pain medicine physicians, trained and hired by the company, would falsely claim that the risk of addiction to OxyContin was extremely low. By 2007, Purdue and three of its top executives had paid fines of $634.5 million and pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for misleading regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s potential for abuse.

The steep fines did little to deter Purdue from continuing to aggressively market OxyContin.

Eventually, attention became focused on the Sacklers themselves, some of whom served as Purdue board members and made large charitable donations to medical schools and museums. In exchange, the institutions renamed buildings after the Sacklers. But as the family saga became featured in books, television series and documentaries and their notoriety grew, most institutions stripped the Sackler name from their properties and dissociated themselves from Purdue’s owners.

The size of the Sacklers’ fortune from OxyContin has long been a mystery. An independent audit commissioned by Purdue for the bankruptcy court found that the Sacklers withdrew about $10.5 billion from Purdue between 2008 and 2017, of which they paid more than 40 percent in taxes. The $6 billion settlement offer, the Sacklers say, represents most of the profit from the drug during that period.

As lawsuits against Purdue and the Sacklers rapidly accrued, in 2019 Purdue sought restructuring in bankruptcy court, a move that automatically suspended all lawsuits against the company. The tactic was the first step on the path leading toward the Supreme Court.

Most other companies that have been sued over their role in the opioid crisis — drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers — have reached settlements and are starting to make payments. But the opioid tragedy has not receded. Though production of prescription painkillers slowed, cheap heroin and then fentanyl rushed in to fuel an ever-growing demand. During a 12-month period ending in June, overdose fatalities from opioids and other drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, were predicted to surpass 111,000, according to provisional federal data.

Whether the billions of dollars in the Purdue settlement and others will have a meaningful impact on addiction and overdose fatality rates remains to be seen. In January 2018, Dan A. Polster, a federal judge in Cleveland assigned to oversee nationwide opioid settlements, asked whether a court was, in fact, the proper place to grapple with a public health crisis that had passed through the hands of federal and state regulators, physicians, hospitals and insurers as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

“The federal court is probably the least likely branch of government to try and tackle this, but candidly, the other branches of government, federal and state, have punted,” he said.

Now, nearly six years after his remarks, with the Supreme Court about to wade in, the national opioid litigation may be edging toward conclusion. But many health and legal experts believe it will not resolve the addiction crisis that it was intended to address.

“It’s easy for people to think, ‘Hey, we’ll go to court, and we’ll solve the problem,’ but that also assumes that the way you solve a public health crisis is just by handing out money,” said Abbe R. Gluck, a Yale Law School professor and an author of a forthcoming article on unorthodox uses of bankruptcy.

Congress and oversight agencies need to step up, Ms. Gluck said. “When it comes to opioids,” she added, “there’s a lot more that has to happen that litigation can’t touch.”

Jan Hoffman writes about behavioral health and health law. Her wide-ranging subjects include opioids, tribes, reproductive rights, adolescent mental health and vaccine hesitancy. More about Jan Hoffman

A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 4, 2023, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Supreme Court to Rule on Deal Worth Billions to Opioid VictimsOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

A Gaza hospital evacuated, four fragile lives and a grim discovery

A Gaza hospital evacuated, four fragile lives and a grim discovery

“A nurse at al-Nasr hospital was caring for premature babies. Then he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

Medical staff evacuate premature babies from Gaza's al-Shifa hospital on Nov. 20. Staff were unable to evacuate four babies from al-Nasr Children’s Hospital nearby. (Loay Ayyoub for The Washington Post)

“JERUSALEM — The nurse in the besieged hospital was caring for five fragile babies. Infants, born premature, their parents’ whereabouts after a month of war unknown. Now he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

It was the height of Israel’s assault on northern Gaza last month, and al-Nasr Children’s Hospital was a war zone. The day before, airstrikes had cut off the Gaza City facility’s oxygen supplies. Israeli tanks had surrounded the hospital complex, and the Israel Defense Forces were calling and texting the doctors, urging them to leave.

But ambulances couldn’t safely reach al-Nasr to transport the wounded, and doctors refused to leave the facility without their patients.

The five premature babies were particularly vulnerable. They needed oxygen, and medication administered at regular intervals. There were no portable respirators or incubators to transport them. Without life support, the nurse feared, they wouldn’t survive an evacuation.

Then the IDF delivered an ultimatum, al-Nasr director Bakr Qaoud told The Washington Post: Get out or be bombarded. An Israeli official, meanwhile, provided an assurance that ambulances would be arranged to retrieve the patients.

The nurse, a Palestinian man who works with Paris-based Doctors Without Borders, saw no choice. He assessed his charges and picked up the strongest one — the baby he thought likeliest to bear a temporary cut to his oxygen supply. He left the other four on their breathing machines, reluctantly, and with his wife, their children and the one baby, headed south.

“I felt like I was leaving my own children behind,” said the nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy. “If we had the ability to take them, we would have, [but] if we took them off the oxygen they would have died.”

Two weeks later, the pause in hostilities allowed a Gazan journalist to venture into the hospital. In the neonatal intensive care unit, Mohammed Balousha made the awful discovery.

The decomposing bodies of the four babies. Eaten by worms. Blackened by mold. Mauled, Balousha said, by stray dogs.

“A terrible and horrific scene,” he told The Post. He took video.

The grim discovery was a reminder of the harrowing civilian toll of Israel’s war to eradicate Hamas, a campaign that has spared neither hospitals nor children. Thousands have been killed.

The current hostilities erupted on Oct. 7, when Hamas and allied fighters streamed out of Gaza to attack Israeli communities near the enclave, killed around 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240 more. Israel responded with a full siege, airstrikes and ground operations that have killed more than 15,200 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry, including thousands of children.

Israel has long accused Hamas of hiding command-and-control centers in hospitals; the Biden administration has backed the claim. Hamas and Gaza medical staff deny it.

Still, Israeli commanders have made the territory’s health care infrastructure a focus of the military campaign. A month into the war, that included al-Nasr.

It was Nov. 10 when Israeli forces told al-Nasr’s staff they had to leave, according to Qaoud, the hospital director. “They sent us a map for a safe route,” he told The Post in a WhatsApp message. “They gave us half an hour to go out. Otherwise, they will bombard the hospital.”

An official at the adjacent al-Rantisi pediatric cancer center seemed to receive an assurance that ambulances would retrieve patients from both al-Rantisi and al-Nasr. In a telephone conversation with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, an arm of Israel’s defense ministry, the al-Rantisi official requested ambulances. In a recording of that call released by the Israel Defense Forces, a senior COGAT officer responds in Arabic: “No problem.”

The senior COGAT officer tells the al-Rantisi official that he will “arrange coordination” for ambulances. He gives the precise route that medical staff should take out of the complex.

The al-Rantisi official reminds COGAT that staff will also be evacuating al-Nasr. The COGAT officer acknowledges the reminder.

Qaoud, too, said there was “coordination with the Red Cross and Israeli army that we will go out and then these cases will be later evacuated to another hospital that was safe.”

COGAT spokeswoman Shani Sasson told The Post that Israeli forces neither directed al-Nasr’s staff to evacuate nor operated inside the facility. She declined to answer whether COGAT or the Israeli military had been told about the babies or taken any action to care for them.

On Saturday, IDF Spokeswoman Doron Spielman appeared to cast doubt on the story during a live conversation on X, formerly Twitter: “There were no premature babies that decomposed because of the IDF; there were probably no babies that decomposed whatsoever,” he said.

Sarah Davies, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem, said the agency made no guarantees and could not safely reach the hospital.

The evacuation was painful. There was no way to reach the babies’ families, the nurse said. He had no contact information, and communications in much of Gaza were down. Their parents had been “displaced people,” he surmised, “who knew their children were in the hospital and didn’t think the hospital would be hit or raided by the occupation.

“They thought they left them in safety.”

It was time to leave. The nurse gathered up the strongest baby, made sure the others’ respirators were working, and, still wearing his scrubs, walked with his family out of the hospital to begin the 18-mile journey, much of it on foot, south to Khan Younis.

On the road, the nurse found an ambulance to take the baby in his arms to al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest. Israeli forces would raid that facility days later. The World Health Organization eventually evacuated 31 premature babies from al-Shifa. By then, several others had died.

On Nov. 24, after nearly seven weeks of fighting, Israel and Hamas began a week-long pause to exchange captives and allow more aid into Gaza.

Balousha, a journalist with the Dubai-based Al-Mashhad channel, took advantage of the relative calm to venture into Gaza City and report on corpses left out. On Nabil Tammos Street, he found two bodies, a man and a woman. Someone had covered them in a blanket.

“People [were] telling me that the strongest story is found in al-Nasr Hospital,” Balousha said. “They told me that premature babies were left in intensive care and that they were supposed to be rescued,” but with the fighting, “no one took them out.”

During the pause, Israeli forces remained near the hospital, cutting off civilian access. Balousha, undeterred, “jumped from wall to wall” through broken buildings to reach the medical complex.

As he approached the neonatal intensive care unit, he said, he “started to smell a foul odor.” He turned his camera on.

When Al-Mashhad aired the report, it blurred the remains. The channel gave an unaltered copy of the video to The Post, which verified that it was recorded inside al-Nasr’s neonatal intensive care unit by comparing it with images of the facility from before the war.

The remains, still hooked up to respirators, bear little resemblance to bodies. They appear as piles of rotting flesh, bones protruding, body parts difficult to make out. Soiled-looking diapers remain wrapped around their middles.

Balousha described the scene on camera and hurried out of the unit.

The nurse, who reviewed the video, said the corpses were found where he had left the babies. No one had come for them.

Qaoud, the al-Nasr director, said the Israeli military “was informed there were cases” left inside the hospital, but “was determined to evacuate.”

Davies, the Red Cross spokeswoman, said the organization “received several requests to evacuate hospitals in the north of Gaza, but due to this security situation, we were not involved in any operations of evacuations, nor did teams commit to doing so.”

No one has emerged to claim the bodies. There has been no indication, the nurse said, that the parents know their children are dead.

He remains haunted by the event. He believes he needs psychiatric treatment.

Of what, he asks, were the babies guilty?

“Were they fighters?” he asked. “Were they holding weapons? Were they firing rockets?

“Why does the army hit the oxygen and electricity? Why did the army target them?”

Heba Farouk Mahfouz in Cairo contributed to this report.“

Trump Coup bombshell: Secret texts tie indicted plotter to Congress, as March trial looms

Saturday, December 02, 2023

What the Displacement in Gaza Looks Like in Maps, Charts and Photos - The New York Times

What the Scale of Displacement in Gaza Looks Like

Thousands of people

waiting south of Gaza City to evacuate

on Nov. 17

Area of initial evacuation order

Source: Satellite image by Maxar Technologies

"Up to 1.8 million Gazans — around 80 percent of the population — have been forced to leave their homes since Israel began its bombardment in response to Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7. That number is expected to rise after Israel issued a new evacuation order on Saturday for areas in the south.

Total number of people displaced in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs via HDX

Note: Estimates for the number of displaced people staying outside the shelter system are difficult to obtain and corrected periodically.

Gaza has never experienced so much internal displacement in such a short time. Earlier conflicts forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, but refugee experts said the current war was unprecedented for the number of people displaced within the enclave’s 140 square miles.

With Israel barring most Gazans from leaving and shelters swelling to many times over their capacity, humanitarian aid workers say there is no safe place to go as the fighting continues.

Where displaced people are staying at United Nations and government shelters

Each circle represents the total number of displaced people in shelters within one square kilometer.



Area of initial

evacuation order


of people

Area of Dec. 2

evacuation order

Sources: ReliefWeb Response (shelter populations); Israeli military (evacuation zone boundaries)

Note: Shelter locations shown are primarily schools; data for medical facilities and other buildings serving as shelters was not available. Data is as of Nov. 28.

There are at least 14 government and United Nations shelters within the new evacuation zone that Israeli forces announced on Saturday. These shelters had registered more than 68,000 displaced people as of Nov. 28.

“People are sleeping on the streets and sidewalks without any means of protection,” said Yousef Hammash, an advocacy officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who fled from his home in northern Gaza in mid-October to stay with more than 40 relatives in a two-room home in Khan Younis. “And people in the shelters are trying to convince themselves that it’s a bit more safe than being in the street.”

“The situation before was unimaginable, and now they want to move people again,” he added.

Two Palestinian citizens pulling wheeled suitcases and carrying backpacks, walk away from damaged high-rise buildings in Gaza City.

Palestinians evacuated their homes damaged by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City.

Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Dozens of men, women and children sit on benches in the courtyard of a United Nations school, where displaced people have taken refuge. Others look down at the courtyard from three levels of balconies where clothing hangs to dry.

A school in Khan Younis where displaced people have found refuge.

Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

About 1.4 million Palestinans have found shelter in or outside of Gaza’s schools, medical centers, mosques and churches. The rest — as many as a half a million people — are thought to be staying with relatives and even strangers, often sleeping outside in courtyards or crammed into small apartments.

A majority of the displaced have moved south, as intense air- and ground strikes by Israeli forces have destroyed much of the north, making it unlivable. But tens of thousands are estimated to remain in the north, including many who are unable to travel, such as the sick and disabled.

Humanitarian organizations warn that shelters, even in the south, are not protected from fighting. The U.N. reported on Nov. 23 that since the start of the conflict, an estimated 191 people in shelters had been killed and 798 had been injured.

Many schools housing displaced people have been damaged since the war began, according to a UNICEF tracker, which relies on reports from other organizations on the ground.

Schools that have sheltered displaced people and have been damaged

Area of initial

evacuation order



Area of Dec. 2

evacuation order

Sources: UNICEF (shelter damage); Israeli military (evacuation zone boundaries)

Note: Major damage means the building exists but is not usable; moderate damage means the building is usable but damage occurred to the building’s infrastructure; minor damage means damage occurred to windows, doors and other parts of the building. Map includes government schools only. Data is as of Dec. 1.

At least 28 government schools functioning as shelters have sustained major damage in the North Gaza and Gaza regions, making them no longer usable, and 122 others across the territory have sustained moderate or minor damage.

The U.N. has estimated that most of its shelters are at four times their capacity, at minimum, and unable to accommodate more people.

“You have to wait in line for two hours, just to use the bathroom,” Mr. Hammash said. “To have a shower is kind of a dream.”

Number of people staying in shelters in each region since Oct. 7

Many Gazans have moved south, but tens of thousands remain in shelters in the north.

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs via HDX

The shelter population has soared in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war, especially in the central and southern regions of Deir al Balah, Khan Younis and Rafah, areas to which Israeli forces have told Palestinians to evacuate.

Close quarters and limited access to safe water and bathrooms is contributing to the spread of disease, along with the onset of winter, according to the World Health Organization. The agency has reported thousands of cases of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin rashes in Gaza on average each day.

An aerial view of people walking among dozens of closely packed white tents at a shelter site in Khan Younis.

A tent camp in Khan Younis.

Mohammed Salem/Reuters

A man crouches in front of a cooking pot over a fire in a hallway of a U.N. school being used as a shelter in Gaza City. A woman and child stand beside him.

A man prepares a fire for cooking at a U.N. school being used as a shelter in Gaza City.

Omar El-Qattaa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

During the seven-day cease-fire that ended on Friday, some people temporarily left shelters to return to their homes to investigate any damage. Some people displaced in the south even tried to go back to the north, according to the U.N.

The safety of displaced people is uncertain as the fighting continues into its ninth week, and people are once again forced to move to new locations.

“We are going to a new level of madness and bombardment,” Mr. Hammash said. “Now it’s the turn of the south."

What the Displacement in Gaza Looks Like in Maps, Charts and Photos - The New York Times