This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – Oct. 21, 2020

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • SARS ban: Nigeria abolishes loathed federal special police unit
  • Sackler family’s plan to keep its Oxycontin billions
  • Texas Republicans paved the way for their own demise

• Mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to pledge to disband the hated “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” (SARS) accused of beatings, intimidation and extrajudicial killings. Activists are calling for an overhaul of the Nigerian police. But days of protests have prompted the powerful Nigerian military to call for an end the widespread protests that have spread to ex-patriate communities in England and Canada.

(“SARS Ban: Nigeria Abolished Loathed Federal Police Unit,” BBC News, Oct. 11, 2020; “‘Enough Is Enough’: Nigerians Demand SARS Police Unit Scrapped,” Al-Jazeera, Oct. 10, 2020)

• For the second time, Purdue Pharma and its owner the Sackler family may receive a special deal in a settlement of claims against the company’s highly addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin. In the midst of its bankruptcy trial in New York, lawyers for the Sackler family are negotiating with the Trump Justice Department for a deal that would impose a $2 billion federal penalty but no criminal charges against the Sackler family, who’ve made billions in profits from selling the opioid drug since the 1990s. OxyContin is blamed for fueling the nationwide prescription painkiller epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 people since 1999.

Update Oct. 21, 2020: Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges for Opioid Sales
The Justice Department announced an $8 billion settlement with the company. Members of the Sackler family will pay $225 million in civil penalties but criminal investigations continue.

(“The Sackler Family’s Plan to Keep Its Billions,” New Yorker, Oct. 4 2020; “U.S. States Oppose Settlement Being Negotiated by OxyContin Maker Purdue and Justice Department: Letter,” Reuters, Oct 14, 2020)

• In the final days of the 2020 election campaign, Democrats are suddenly optimistic they may be able to flip Texas blue, in spite of decades of voter suppression by Republicans. Democrats flush with cash and favorable polls are making a final push for Texas’ 38 electoral votes. In recent months, nearly a million Texans have registered to vote, mostly in the state’s largest cities, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Austin.

(How Texas Republicans Paved the Way for Their Own Demise, The Intercept, Oct. 13, 2020)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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