National News, Tuesday, Aug. 27 – Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay $572 million in U.S. Opioid Epidemic Trial

News Headlines from across America, from RogueValleyMagazine.com

An Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay in excess of $572 million as part of a lawsuit about the spread of the opioid epidemic in the state.

The settlement order is a landmark decision, coming months after a different pharmaceutical company was ordered to pay $270 million for their role in the crisis.

On Monday, Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman made his judgment in the lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general against the company for what the state alleges it did to fuel the U.S. opioid crisis.

In reading out his settlement decision, Balman said that “the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma.” The nine-figure settlement, while hefty, pales in comparison to what the attorney general’s office originally asked for, as they reportedly asked for in excess of $17 billion in damages.

 From huge rewards to calls for allowing Missouri cities to enact their own gun laws, leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City are grappling with a troubling rise in shooting deaths, especially those involving children.

This past weekend was especially violent. In Kansas City, four men were killed Sunday, including two in a drive-by shooting in a popular entertainment district. In St. Louis, six people were killed in shootings, including 8-year-old and 10-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy.

Many of the victims of violence in the state’s two largest cities are black, and black Missouri lawmakers are asking Republican Gov. Mike Parson to allow the House and Senate to consider during a special session next month legislation that would let cities adopt their own gun control measures. In a letter dated Saturday, state Rep. Steven Roberts Jr. a St. Louis Democrat who chairs the 19-member Missouri Black Caucus, told Parson that local leaders need the autonomy to act as they see fit on “this pressing crisis.”

Kansas City — Missouri’s largest city with 490,000 residents, about 30% of whom are black — has recorded 97 homicides this year, on pace to top last year’s homicide rate of 143. Sixty-eight of this year’s victims were black.

St. Louis has seen about 128 homicides this year, also on pace to top last year’s total of 186. The vast majority those killed this year — 112 victims — were black in a city where about half of the 320,000 residents are black.

At least a dozen children have been shot to death in St. Louis since April, many of them in drive-by shootings, and the city is offering $25,000 rewards for information in five recent fatal shootings of children.

In Southern California, Wyatt Pasek, also known as the “oxygod,” was sentenced Monday to 17 and a half years in prison for making and selling counterfeit opioid pills laced with fentanyl.

Investigators including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service and the Costa Mesa Police Department, had their eye on Pasek and two others, Duc Cao and Isaiah Suarez, since the end of 2017, according to the Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Sagel.


The trio was suspected of building a counterfeit oxycodone enterprise in Orange County to sell the drugs online across the United States.

“They were pressing pills in Newport Beach, but sending them nationwide to almost 20 or more states, that we were able to see through the dark web,” Sagel said. Arrests came in April 2018.

Pasek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, felony in possession of a firearm and money laundering.

A prostitute in New York linked to the suspected overdose deaths of three men in Queens, including the head chef at Cipriani Dolci in Grand Central Terminal, has been arrested on drug charges, according to federal authorities.

Angelina Barini, 41, was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court Monday on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one or more substances containing fentanyl. Her lawyer, Mildred Whalen, declined to comment.

Cipriani Dolci head chef Amdrea Zamperoni went missing earlier this month, and was then found dead last Wednesday in a low-budget Queens guest house.

Barini said she didn’t do it and that her pimp, who hasn’t been identified, would not let her call the police and discussed whether to cut up the body, according to court papers.

After searching the room, court papers said authorities recovered “a purple liquid in a glass with powder at the top of the liquid and around the rim, glass pipes for smoking narcotics, bottles of bleach and bleach-covered towels, electronics, a power saw and an empty suitcase.”

Prosecutors said Barini admitted to providing the chef drugs and later admitted that her pimp gave the chef “liquid ecstasy.”

Aside from the death of Zamperoni, Barini is also linked to the deaths of two other men, sources said: The July 4 death of a man at the Airway Inn near LaGuardia Airport and the July 11 death at the Crown Motor Inn in Woodside.  Zamperoni’s body was found Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on the first floor of Kamway Lodge, located at 40-36 77th Street. It bills itself as a “guest house” with rooms to rent. 

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.

DURING FLIGHT DELAY GATE AGENTS AT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES HELD CONTESTS

For travelers, there are few things more annoying than a delayed flight. That’s what Kristen Dundas of Windermere, Florida, thought until her Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Washington was delayed Thursday — and she actually ended up enjoying the experience. She tweeted: “My flight to Washington DC has been delayed for almost 2 and a half hours and I was getting HEATED until this gate agent started playing games with everyone waiting to pass the time and now I’m like I’ll wait all night if you keep this up.” The tweet included a video showing a gate agent hosting a contest for the “worst driver’s license picture.”

… The agent also hosted a paper airplane contest. Winners were awarded $25 vouchers and Southwest merchandise.

DRIVER IN SELF-DRIVING CAR CAUGHT SLEEPING BEHIND WHEEL 

A driver of a self-driving car was caught sleeping behind the wheel on a freeway near Santa Clarita, California. The incident was filmed by Clint Olivier’s wife while he was driving. Both were shocked. The driver did eventually wake up and resume driving the Tesla. Tesla has not commented on the video but said the autopilot feature is intended for use for fully attentive drivers who have their hands on the wheel.

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES
Eastbank beat Willemstad, Curacao two win the 2019 Little League World Series Sunday in in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Eastbank is a team out of Louisiana. Willemstad is the capital city of Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea.

… Best Things About Being A Little League World Series Winner:

• All the cute fourth graders wanna buy you lunch at Chuck-E-Cheese.

• Product endorsement offers from Starburst, Lego and Lunchables.

• Bed time moved from 9 to 9:30.

WOMAN TWEETS AFTER RECEIVING TEXT FROM BOSS MEANT FOR SOMEONE ELSE 

Mondays generally stink and for a lawyer in Las Vegas, yesterday (August 26) was especially horrible. A woman named Sarah tweeted on Monday: “I just received a text from my boss about how he ‘hopes Sarah has her [breasts] out’” — plus an even lewder comment — that he meant to send to another co-worker. • LINK

… Throughout the day Monday she shared updates:

• “He has realized he sent it to the wrong person and has tried to call four times. The law firm I work for is his law firm. His wife is also a partner. Today at work is going to be fun.”

• “He finally left a voicemail stating that he ‘has an urgent matter to discuss with me’ … He’s a lawyer so he knows not to text again. Evidence and all.”

• “The two other partners (including the intended recipient) have called me and left messages ‘urging me to talk to them before making a mistake’. They left that recorded. It’s like they forgot how to lawyer.”

• “Contacted outside council … Not going in today. Have not answered any of them yet. There is no HR, just  5 lawyers and a receptionist. I’m the only woman working there. I need coffee.”

• “Meeting with attorney went great. Meeting with second attorney at lunch. Heading to my office now to clean out the things in my desk. Entire office knows. His wife knows and is ‘on her way back to town to deal with this’ whatever that means…”

NTSB REPORT REVEALS HOW DALE EARNHARDT JR.’S PLANE CRASHED 

The NTSB has shared how Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plane crashed. The government agency said the plane bounced twice before crashing through a chain-link fence and coming to a rest on a highway in eastern Tennessee on August 15. Pilots had hoped to get the plane airborne again, however.

… The initial report from the NTSB states that the two pilots hoped to attempt a “go-around” after the second bounce, but the aircraft did not respond as they expected, leading to a crash landing and fire. The plane came down from the second bounce just 1,000 feet before the end of the 4,500-foot runway.

… Video revealed that the right main landing gear collapsed and the outboard section of the right wing contacted the runway shortly after the third touchdown.

GLASS-HALF-FULL ATTITUDE MAY HELP YOU LIVE PAST 85 _ Humans have been searching for centuries for the secret to living longer, and the answer may be as simple as maintaining a positive state of mind. A new study (Boston University) found that people who scored higher on an optimism assessment were more likely to live past the age of 85.

FEWER THAN 10 PERCENT OF TEENS MEET EXERCISE AND SCREEN TIME GUIDELINES _ Teens spend too long looking at screens and not enough time exercising or sleeping — with less than 10 percent meeting the recommended guidelines. Research found children aged between five and 17 should spend an hour a day doing moderate to vigorous exercise and no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. More than three-quarters of teens spend more than two hours a day interacting with screens.

COFFEE COMPANY WANTS TO GIVE YOU $30,000 TO QUIT YOUR JOB

Another week, another company wanting to give you a bunch of money to travel and show off on social media. SToK Cold Brew is holding a contest that will give three lucky winners the opportunity to take home $30,000 each to hand in their resignation in order to do whatever they want with the money. The lucky winners will receive $20,000 to be used toward various travel expenses like flights and lodging in addition to a $10,000 stipend that can be used for whatever the heck they want over a two to four week period in the fall.

… In exchange, you’ll be asked to document your adventures on social media. If this piques your interest you can visit this link any time before Labor Day and enter by describing what you’d do with the money in 300 words or less.

40-PERSON BRAWL AT RAGING WATERS STARTED OVER BEACH TOWEL 

A water park in Sacramento, California, was shut down Sunday afternoon after a large fight that started over a beach towel nearly killed a man. The 40-person brawl by the Lazy River picnic area at Raging Waters started after a disagreement between two women over who took whose beach towel. Bystander Christopher Neves tried to break up the fight but was attacked by three other people who jumped in after him. The fight grew to about 40 participants, with a smaller group trading blows and the rest exchanging insults.

… Officers arrived and found Neves without a pulse or heartbeat for an unknown amount of time. CPR was administered on scene, and his heartbeat returned before he was carried out on a gurney and transported to a hospital.

… No arrests were made, but all the people involved in the fight were identified. Alcohol was involved.

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN WILL OFFER PLANT-BASED CHICKEN NUGGET 

As other chicken chains compete for chicken sandwich dominance, KFC is doing its bit for the planet and taking its first baby steps to move beyond the chicken coop with a plant-based chicken nugget. The first nuggets are going on sale for one day — today (August 27) — at a single restaurant in Smyrna, Georgia

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SHORT MEN MARRY LATER, DIVORCE LESS 

Ladies, if you’re in the market to get hitched, find a short guy. A study (out of NYU) found short men marry later, make more money while in the relationship, and divorce less than their taller counterparts.

DOG OWNERS PREFER SPENDING TIME WITH THEIR PETS OVER OTHER PEOPLE 

Monday was National Dog Day and in a statistic unsurprising to most dog lovers, a new survey found that over 70 percent of dog owners prefer spending time with their pets than with other people.

… Forty-nine percent of the dog owners surveyed said their dogs were one of their top concerns, with 62 percent sharing they’ve made changes to their own travel plans in order to accommodate their pooches.

… Almost half of all respondents said they at least somewhat agreed that their dog’s health was more of a priority than their own.

$1 MILLION OR YOUR PET? 

A poll asked 100 men and women: “If you could have $1 million or your pet, which would you take?” 94% of  women said there’s no way they’d trade in their pet for a cool mil, while 66% of men said they’d keep theirs over the million-dollar jackpot.

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