1st drug CEO faces criminal charges over opioid crisis
Former Rochester Drug Co-Operative CEO Laurence Doud III has become the first drug company executive to be criminally charged in connection with the national opioid epidemic, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday. Prosecutors said Doud, 75, “made the deliberate decision” to ignore pharmacy customers who were distributing opioids for non-medical purposes, seeking to make more money for the company and himself. His pay more than doubled between 2012 and 2016 thanks largely to soaring sales of such drugs as oxycodone and fentanyl. Doud, who faces two conspiracy counts, surrendered in New York City. His lawyer said he would fight the allegations. The company also was charged, and entered a deferred prosecution agreement.
Right-wing militia detaining migrants allegedly ‘trained’ for assassinations
The right-wing militia whose leader was arrested over the weekend came under the scrutiny of federal authorities in 2017 after the FBI received reports its members were “training” to assassinate former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and liberal donor George Soros, according to documents unsealed Monday in federal court. The leader, Larry Hopkins, appeared in federal court on Monday in connection with the charge of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The arrest came days after the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos online showing members detaining hundreds of migrants. Critics said the detentions amounted to kidnapping. Militia members said they were conducting “verbal citizen’s arrests.”
Oil prices jump after report of U.S. ending Iran sanctions waivers
The Trump administration is preparing to announce an end to waivers from sanctions on Iranian oil imports, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly plans to announce Monday morning that, starting May 2, all countries — including U.S. allies — will have to stop buying Iranian crude or face U.S. sanctions. The move comes roughly a year after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. In November, the State Department gave eight countries — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, and Greece — 180-day waivers to give them time to find sources to replace Iranian oil. Crude prices jumped 3 percent following reports of the policy change.
Meet the neighbors who’ve helped a woman who uses a wheelchair get into bed every night — for 10 years.
Doctors in 7 states charged over illegal opioid prescriptions
Sixty people, including 31 doctors, were charged Wednesday with participating in illegal prescriptions of more than 32 million pain pills in seven states. Prosecutors said some of the doctors traded opioids for sex. A dentist allegedly pulled teeth unnecessarily to justify prescribing patients opioids. The people charged also included seven pharmacists and eight nurse practitioners, as well as several other licensed medical professionals. Prosecutors said the defendants wrote more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. “If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers,” said Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Burned Louisiana black churches get donations inspired by Notre Dame
A crowdfunding campaign for three Louisiana black churches recently destroyed by an arsonist received a wave of new donations on Tuesday inspired by the reaction to the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. The nearly week-old campaign started the day with about $92,000, but more than $750,000 in donations poured in after it was shared widely on social media. “These communities need to know that people care about them and what they’re going through,” Jessica Piombo, a California professor, wrote on the campaign’s GoFundMe page. “Every little bit counts.” Holden Matthews, the white 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy charged with setting the Louisiana church fires, was charged earlier this week with hate crimes on top of the arson allegations he already faced.
Measles outbreak nears record with dozens of new cases
The number of measles cases reported across the country reached the highest level in five years, with dozens of new cases bringing the number of confirmed infections to 555, according to updated figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health experts now fear that this year’s outbreak will set a record nearly two decades after measles was declared “eliminated” in the U.S. Ninety new cases of the potentially deadly and highly contagious disease were confirmed in the second week of April. People in 20 states have been infected. A third of the cases this year have been reported in New York City, nearly all of them in a section of Brooklyn where officials have declared an emergency.
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New Zealand lawmakers overwhelmingly approve assault-style weapon ban
New Zealand’s Parliament voted 119 to 1 on Wednesday to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons like those used by a gunman to kill 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, less than a month after the attack. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who declared in the days after the attack that the country’s gun laws would change, told lawmakers they had given “a voice” to the people who were killed in what she called “the darkest of days in New Zealand’s history.” A gun buyback program is planned to make sure the regulations don’t hurt law-abiding citizens. The bill could take effect as soon as Friday, after it is granted royal assent by the country’s governor-general.
New York to require some to get measles vaccinations in health emergency
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday declared a public health emergency in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn after a measles outbreak. Unvaccinated people in the heavily Orthodox Jewish community who might have been exposed will be required to get the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, and anyone who doesn’t comply could face a $1,000 fine. “We don’t take these steps lightly,” de Blasio said. “It’s time to protect your family and your community.” Since the start of the outbreak in October, 285 cases have been confirmed, 246 of them in children under 18. Federal health officials said the rise in U.S. measles cases has been fueled by the anti-vaccination movement. “The measles vaccine works,” de Blasio said. “It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested.”