Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Opioids crisis - Rudy Giuliani won deal for OxyContin maker to continue sales of drug behind opioid deaths
By Chris McGreal
The US government secured a criminal conviction against Purdue Pharma in the mid-2000s but failed to curb sales of the drug after Giuliani reached a deal to avoid a bar on Purdue doing business.
The US government missed the opportunity to curb sales of the drug that kickstarted the opioid epidemic when it secured the only criminal conviction against the maker of OxyContin a decade ago.
Purdue Pharma hired Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and now Donald Trump’s lawyer, to head off a federal investigation in the mid-2000s into the company’s marketing of the powerful prescription painkiller at the centre of an epidemic estimated to have claimed at least 300,000 lives.
While Giuliani was not able to prevent the criminal conviction over Purdue’s fraudulent claims for OxyContin’s safety and effectiveness, he was able to reach a deal to avoid a bar on Purdue doing business with the federal government which would have killed a large part of the multibillion-dollar market for the drug.
The former New York mayor also secured an agreement that greatly restricted further prosecution of the pharmaceutical company and kept its senior executives out of prison.
The US attorney who led the investigation, John Brownlee, has defended the compromise but also expressed surprise that Purdue did not face stronger action from federal regulators and further criminal investigation given its central role in the rise of the epidemic.
Connecticut-based Purdue is now facing a wave of civil lawsuits as New York, Texas and five other states have joined a growing number actions against the company. But Brownlee was the first, and so far only, prosecutor to secure a criminal conviction against the drug maker.
Brownlee launched his investigation shortly after being appointed US attorney for the western district of Virginia as the region struggled with escalating overdoses and deaths from opioids in the early 2000s. When he looked at the source of the epidemic he found OxyContin, a drug several times more powerful than any other prescription painkiller on the market at the time.
Shoot the messenger: Pakistan authorities disrupt newspaper distribution after report on Sharif's 26/11 comments
The action led by Pakistan's military began after the newspaper published the interview of Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan’s oldest newspaper, Dawn, is facing the heat after publishing an interview of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif in which he all but accepted that Pakistani ‘non-state actors’ were involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international body keeping track of the state of independent journalism, claimed that distribution of Dawn was being disrupted in much of the country since the publication of the interview.
The interview which appeared on May 12 has reportedly displeased Pakistan military. RSF says that the blocking began on May 15. The distribution of the English daily is “disrupted in most of Baluchistan province, in many cities in Sindh province and in all military cantonments,” it said.
Apparently, the Press Council of Pakistan has also notified Dawn’s editor that the newspaper breached the ethical code of practice by publishing content that "may bring into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its sovereignty or integrity as an independent country".
RSF, in a statement, said, “The unwarranted blocking of the distribution of one of the main independent newspapers has yet again shown that the military is determined to maintain their grip on access to news and information in Pakistan.”
“It is clear that the military high command does not want to allow a democratic debate in the months preceding a general election. We call on the authorities to stop interfering in the dissemination of independent media and to restore distribution of Dawn throughout Pakistan.”
Nawaz Sharif, in the interview, had questioned Pakistan’s inability to complete the trial against 26/11 attack mastermind. “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” he had said.
The comment was lapped up by Indian media as an acceptance of Pakistani role in the terrorist attack. In Pakistan, his comment was criticised by all quarters. PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accused the Indian media of giving the issue “a different hue”.
Dawn was founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1941 in New Delhi. Though it started as the mouthpiece of Muslim League, after the division of British India, it became the leading voice in English Language journalism in Pakistan.
This is Pakistan’s Me Too moment.
A handful of Pakistani women recently went public to accuse famous actor and musician Ali Zafar of sexually harassing and abusing them. Their announcement grabbed headlines, prompted outrage and sparked the Me Too movement in conservative Pakistan.
The women’s remarkable statements — followed by similar claims in politics and business sectors — are a sea change in this highly traditional Islamic country where female honor killings, child brides and polygamy are commonplace. In Pakistan, women receive only a portion of an inheritance that males get.
"I think in any society it is difficult for women to come forward,” said Nighat Dad, director of the Digital Rights Foundation and an activist for women's rights. “The Me Too movement has organically come with women coming forward against powerful men, be it Ali Zafar or a CEO of a tech start-up, to finally hold men accountable for their behavior.”
Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have long suffered in silence in Pakistan, where shame is placed on the woman and not the perpetrator. Most women never report the incidents, but those who do come forward often face shame or questions about their morality.
Pakistani pop singer Meesha Shafi, who accused Zafar of sexually harassing her on multiple occasions, is challenging that tradition.
“Today I am breaking this culture of silence and I hope that by doing that I am setting an example for young women in my country to do the same,” Shafi wrote on Twitter last month. “We only have our voices and the time has come to use them.”
Zafar denied the claims and demanded that Shafi delete the allegation online and issue an apology, or he would file a $9 million defamation suit against her.
“I am deeply aware and in support of the global Me Too movement and what it stands for,” Zafar said in a statement. “I am the father of a young girl and a young boy, a husband to a wife and a son to a mother. I have nothing to hide. Silence is absolutely not an option.”
Shafi has refused to take down her tweets. Her attorney denied she defamed Zafar. Days after the public dispute erupted, more women came forward against Zafar, who has been compared to Hollywood producer and accused abuser Harvey Weinstein in the Pakistani news media. Leena Ghani, a makeup artist based in London, said Zafar had repeatedly “crossed boundaries” with her. “His behavior displays a clear lack of respect for women,” Ghani said on Twitter. “Inappropriate contact, groping, sexual comments should not fall in the gray area between humor and indecency.” Humna Raza, a blogger from Lahore, accused Zafar of groping her when she asked to take a selfie with him. Another woman, Noor Sehar, a Karachi marketing executive, accused Zafar of sexual misconduct at a party. Such allegations are not isolated. Khalid Bajwa, chief executive of local music streaming company Patari, stepped down from his post last month following sexual harassment allegations. While many have supported the Pakistani singer for bravely speaking out, others questioned Shafi's accusations.
“I just don’t see any truth in these allegations,” said film actress Resham, who uses a single name for her career. “Ali cannot do such a thing. How can he harass a woman and she doesn’t slap him back, hit him with a shoe, push him away or complain to his wife?”
Shafi also has been shamed on social media after she went public. "The backlash that Meesha has faced, the misogynistic attitudes that she has had to confront also sends women a message that there is still a cost to coming forward,” said Dad, the women's rights activist. Others defended her.
“Meesha is a superstar who is really successful and earns as much as the male stars in this country,” said actor and model Iffat Omar in an Instagram post. “So why would she do this if she was not hurt? Many people are claiming that she is doing this for fame or money. She already has more than enough of both.”
Still, many women are afraid to come forward because of possible repercussions.
For example, lawmaker Ayesha Gulali of the mainstream Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insafpolitical party, recently accused her party’s leader, Imran Khan, of sending her lewd text messages. She was hit with backlash both online and from her party. Party leaders tried but failed to kick her out of the party and expel her from Parliament.
Also, broadcast journalists Tanzeela Mazhar and Yashfeen Jamal pursued a sexual harassment case against the director of current affairs at Pakistan Television, Agha Masood Shorish, they stirred up a storm of criticism before he was eventually fired. “When I raised my voice, people responded with (degrading) comments about women, our character and personal lives,” Mazhar said.
Still, Shafi encouraged other women to come forward with this answer on Twitter: “It’s only scary till you say it!”
Scores of citizens, including men and their children, staged several protest demonstrations against no supply of power (electricity) from a long of previous two week even during from starts of holy month Ramzan till filling this report, prolonged and unscheduled load-shedding in various parts of the city of Badin.