Talks show opioid settlement challenge

For months, the judge overseeing national litigation over the opioids crisis urged all sides to reach a settlement that could end thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments.

But the chaotic developments this week in the case against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma underscore how difficult that goal is. By Thursday, half of the nation’s state attorneys general said they would reject a tentative deal crafted by the other half, and many criticized the terms as grossly insufficient.

Herring and other attorneys general opposed to the terms say the amount of money involved will be far less than the $10 billion to $12 billion promised by Purdue and the Sacklers. They want the family to pay more from their vast fortune, much of which has been shifted overseas, and say the current settlement terms allow the relatives to walk away without acknowledging their role in a crisis that has killed 400,000 Americans over the past two decades.

Traverse City, Mich.

White House drops water protection rule

The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights.

Environmental groups criticized the administration’s action, the latest in a series of moves to roll back environmental protections put into place under President Barack Obama.

The 2015 Waters of the United States rule defined the waterways subject to federal regulation. Scrapping it “puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations and restores a longstanding and familiar regulatory framework,” Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The agencies plan to adopt a new rule by the end of the year that is expected to define protected waterways more narrowly than the Obama policy.

Tijuana, Mexico

White House puts new asylum rule into effect

A new level of despair spread among tens of thousands of migrants waiting on the Mexican border to seek refuge in the U.S. as the Trump administration began enforcing radical new restrictions Thursday on who qualifies for asylum.

“The United States is the only option,” Dunea Romero, a 31-year-old Honduran, lamented with tears in her eyes at a shelter in Tijuana. She said she packed a bag and fled her homeland with her two boys, ages 7 and 11, after learning that her abusive ex-husband, a powerful gang leader, was going to have her killed.

The new U.S. policy would effectively deny asylum to nearly all migrants arriving at the southern border who aren’t from Mexico. It would disallow anyone who passes through another country without first seeking and failing to obtain asylum there.

The rule will fall most heavily on Central Americans, mainly Hondurans and Guatemalans, because they account for most people arrested or stopped at the border.

But it also represents an enormous setback for other asylum seekers, including large numbers of Africans, Haitians and Cubans who try to enter the United States by way of the Mexican border.

High Rock, Bahamas

Area tackles massive clean-up; 1,300 missing

A preliminary report estimates Dorian caused some $7 billion in damage, but the government has not yet offered any figures. Crews have started to remove some debris on the islands, but they are moving slowly to avoid accidentally disturbing any bodies lying in the rubble. The official death toll stands at 50, and Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said he expects the number to significantly increase.

A cluster of heavy thunderstorms heading to the Bahamas threatened to further drench those trying to salvage belongings or living in tents in hard-hit communities. Late in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the system was expected to become a tropical storm within 36 hours and would hit parts of the northwestern Bahamas with tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains.

— The Associated Press

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