We Used to Write Letters
August 29, 2019
“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).” – Cal Newport
Purdue Pays Their Dues
The opioid epidemic has cost the lives of more than 400,000 people across the US. Monday’s landmark ruling in Oklahoma held pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson responsible for aiding in the crisis which claimed the lives of some 6,000 Oklahomans. The judge ordered the company to pay the state $572 million.
Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, maker of the prescription painkiller Oxycontin, had settled out of court last May by agreeing to pay the state $270 million. But Purdue and other companies, as well as a group of eight members of the Sackler family that wholly owns Purdue, still face civil court cases brought by Massachusetts, New York and numerous other states, and a multi-district federal case in Cleveland that joins suits brought by almost 2,000 US cities and counties.
The Cleveland case is set to start in October, and lawyers for Purdue, its owners and other companies have been in talks for months trying to hammer out a settlement. Monday’s judgment against Johnson & Johnson lit a fire under those talks.
Tuesday afternoon NBC news reported that Purdue has potentially struck a deal with 10 state attorneys general and plaintiffs from some of the hundreds of cities and counties. The settlement proposal has Purdue paying between $10 and $12 billion, and would require the Sackler family to give up ownership of the company and pay $3 billion of its own money toward the settlement. The deal would include a bankruptcy filing that would turn Purdue into a “public beneficiary trust,” which would allow profits to go to plaintiffs.
- Opioid addiction rising in India as US drugmakers push painkillers: As the Indian government loosens its prescription opioid laws after decades of lobbying, the cash-fed healthcare system is ripe for misuse. (Guardian)
- The Truth About Painkiller Addiction: Amid an opioid crisis, authorities overestimated the danger of prescription painkillers—while doing too little to identify patients at risk of addiction. (The Atlantic)
- Richard Sackler: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (Heavy)
- Sacklers to Remain Billionaire Family If Purdue Settles Opioid Lawsuits (Bloomberg, $)
- Smithsonian says no to senator’s request to strip Sackler name from museum (WaPo, $)
- Got Pain? A Virtual Swim With Dolphins May Help Melt It Away (NPR)
- From Pain To Purpose: 5 Ways To Cope In The Wake Of Trauma (NPR)
May Exits, Boris Brexits
- Boris Johnson has been Britain’s prime minister barely a month, but he didn’t hesitate to display a ruthless side Wednesday when he asked Queen Elizabeth to suspend Parliament in order to limit lawmakers’ ability to challenge his plan to take the country out of the European Union in nine weeks, with or without a deal.
- A suspension in September would cut the already dwindling number of days lawmakers have to find an alternative path before the October 31 withdrawal deadline. The monarch’s approval is a formality, and hours after the announcement the government said the request had been approved.
- Johnson’s strike against anti-Brexit forces effectively strangleholds opposition and sets the stage for a constitutional crisis. Critics say regardless of the outcome, he has set a dangerously undemocratic precedent. (NYT)
He Shoots, He Scoots
- Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former Chechen separatist who fought against Russia during the second Chechen war in the early 2000s, was living in exile in Germany where he had fled after surviving two assassination attempts. He was living under a pseudonym with his five children in Berlin, and thought he was safe.
- But around midday last Friday Khangoshvili was shot twice in the head at close range in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in central Berlin. Police arrested the suspected assassin, a 49-year-old Russian citizen from Siberia, before he could leave the scene of the crime on an electric scooter he had parked in a nearby bush.
- The Russian government has denied responsibility for the killing. (Guardian)
You Don’t Gotta Go Home But You Can’t Call Port Here
- For the second time in recent weeks Beijing has denied a routine request from a US ship to call at one of its ports.
- On Wednesday, the 7th Fleet public affairs officer said China had “denied the US Navy’s request [to visit its northeastern port of Qingdao].” The rebuff underscores trade tensions with Washington, and accusations that the US is behind the unrest in Hong Kong. (NPR)
Italy Hit With A Flank From The Left
- Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini made a power grab that appears to have fizzled out. Earlier this month the far-right politician withdrew his anti-immigrant League party from its tumultuous alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), hoping to exploit his party’s popularity, force snap elections, and become prime minister.
- If successful, the move would have created a fully far-right government. But Salvini didn’t count on M5S joining up with the centre-left Democratic party (PD) in an attempt to form a new government and avert snap elections.
- Salvini also hadn’t counted on former ally Giuseppe Conte, the outgoing prime minister who ended the ill-fated M5S-League alliance last week, to change stripes and emerge as his rival. (Guardian)
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We’re All Waiting On The Sequel
- Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis handed in his resignation eight months ago. Since leaving the Trump administration the retired four-star general has written his first book, co-authored with former Marine Bing West, entitled: Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.
- The book is full of insights and aphorisms about what it takes to be a good leader. Just don’t expect it to be chock full of all the things Mattis wanted to say and couldn’t during his tense tenure at the helm of the Pentagon with Trump as commander in chief.
- “I’m old fashioned,” Mattis tells us. “I don’t write about sitting presidents.” Mattis mentions Trump by name only four times, all in the prologue’s first two pages — each instance taking place prior to the president’s taking office. That said, he does imply criticism, without directly taking shots. (NPR)
- My Final Break With the Trump State Department: What is there left to defend to foreign audiences, other than a promise that we’re a democracy and that there are future elections to come? (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Greta Thunberg arrives in New York after successful Atlantic crossing: Climate activist, 16, receives cheers as she steps off boat; Thunberg refused to fly to next month’s UN climate summit (Guardian)
- DNC Moves May Slash The 2020 Field, And Spark Plenty Of Controversy (NPR)
- Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us: Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care. (NYT, $) And The Best Probiotics: An apple contains about 100 million bacteria—a more diverse range than any dietary supplement. (The Atlantic)
A Million Saved Is A Million Earned
- If rich people have cut back on spending, is that another indication a recession could be looming? Maybe a trickle-down recession?
- From real estate and retail stores to classic cars and art, the weakest segment of the American economy right now is the very top. While the middle class and broader consumer sections continue to spend, economists say the sudden pullback among the wealthy could cascade down to the rest of the economy and create a further drag on growth.
- Luxury real estate is having its worst year since the financial crisis; unsold mansions and penthouses are piling up across the country, especially in ritzy resort towns like Aspen, Colorado, and the Hamptons in New York. (CNBC)
- Insiders [very rich people] are selling stock like it’s 2007 (CNN)
- Why people should not get too worked up about recession fears (CNN)
- The New Servant Class “Wealth work” is one of America’s fastest-growing industries. That’s not entirely a good thing. (The Atlantic) And Are You Rich? Where Does Your Net Worth Rank in America? (NYT, $)
Is Our Fear of Smartphones Overblown? (Cal Newport) And How to Turn an iPhone Into a Work-Only Tool: To prevent distractions, Conor Dougherty, an economics writer, dumped social media and anything fun — even his browser — from his smartphone. (NYT, $)
“To simply wait and be bored has become a novel experience in modern life, but from the perspective of concentration training, it’s incredibly valuable.” – Cal Newport
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