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Thursday, September 30, 2021

I just don't understand this

Some firefighters on front lines, no strangers to risk, push back against Covid vaccine mandates

Jimmy Adams, a Kentucky firefighter and medic, refused to get a covid
vaccine before becoming infected in August. He landed in the hospital,
on oxygen, with double pneumonia. “I was wrong,” Adams says,
now that he’s out of the hospital. 
Kentucky firefighter Jimmy Adams saw the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic when he served as a medic who helped care for the sick on medical calls amid surging covid cases. 

He knew retired firefighters who died of complications from covid-19. But he reasoned that they were older and likely had underlying health issues, making them susceptible to the virus.

“That’s how you make peace with those things,” said Adams, 51, a lieutenant. He believed the precautions his department was taking kept him safe. 

But he refused to get a covid vaccine. The reason wasn’t strictly political, he said. He had grown weary of the debate around masks, mitigation, caseloads and vaccines.

In mid-August, both Adams and his wife, Sara, who was fully vaccinated, tested positive for covid. She experienced mild symptoms; however, he was hospitalized with bilateral interstitial pneumonia. His potassium spiked, causing cardiac arrhythmia. He was on oxygen throughout his hospitalization.

“I was wrong,” Adams said several days after leaving the hospital. “I suffered a lot. I don’t even know at this point in the game if I am going to suffer any long-term effects. Does this change who I am for the rest of my life? I don’t know the answer to that. I will be sad if it does.”

Adams now plans to get vaccinated as soon as his doctor allows it, post-recovery. Still, he, like many other firefighters nationwide, does not support mandates for covid vaccines.

Anti-Vaxxer logic

Important info on boosters


Thanks for the fish

DEM Stocking Local Waters with Trout October 1-8 for Fall Fishing Season

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will begin stocking trout in freshwaters across Rhode Island from Friday, Oct. 1, to Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, for the fall fishing season – a popular time for recreational fishing.

"With crisp clear weather and lighter crowds than in spring, fall is a terrific time to try to reel in a trout," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "DEM's dedicated hatchery staff have been busy raising plentiful trout for anglers. Buy your trout stamp today, put your waders on, and go out and have fun!"

The following locations will be stocked with Rainbow and Brook trout:

A pill a day to keep COVID away?

New anti-viral pills undergoing clinical trials
JoNel Aleccia, Kaiser Health News

Credit: University of Texas at Austin
Within a day of testing positive for covid-19 in June, Miranda Kelly was sick enough to be scared. At 44, with diabetes and high blood pressure, Kelly, a certified nursing assistant, was having trouble breathing, symptoms serious enough to send her to the emergency room.

When her husband, Joe, 46, fell ill with the virus, too, she really got worried, especially about their five teenagers at home: “I thought, ‘I hope to God we don’t wind up on ventilators. We have children. Who’s going to raise these kids?”

But the Kellys, who live in Seattle, had agreed just after their diagnoses to join a clinical trial at the nearby Fred Hutch cancer research center that’s part of an international effort to test an antiviral treatment that could halt covid early in its course.

By the next day, the couple were taking four pills, twice a day. Though they weren’t told whether they had received an active medication or placebo, within a week, they said, their symptoms were better. Within two weeks, they had recovered.

“I don’t know if we got the treatment, but I kind of feel like we did,” Miranda Kelly said. “To have all these underlying conditions, I felt like the recovery was very quick.”

The Kellys have a role in developing what could be the world’s next chance to thwart covid: a short-term regimen of daily pills that can fight the virus early after diagnosis and conceivably prevent symptoms from developing after exposure.

Call their bluff

Half of unvaccinated workers say they’d rather quit than get a shot – but few follow through

Jack J. BarryUniversity of FloridaAnn ChristianoUniversity of Florida, and Annie NeimandUniversity of Florida

Forceful words don’t always result in strong action. 
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
Are workplace vaccine mandates prompting some employees to quit rather than get a shot?

A hospital in Lowville, New York, for example, had to shut down its maternity ward when dozens of staffers left their jobs rather than get vaccinated. At least 125 employees at Indiana University Health resigned after refusing to take the vaccine.

And several surveys have shown that as many as half of unvaccinated workers insist they would leave their jobs if forced to get the shot, which has raised alarms among some that more mandates could lead to an exodus of workers in many industries.

But how many will actually follow through?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Starting Oct. 1, postal deliveries will be much slower, thanks to Trump appointee

'Fire DeJoy' Demand Intensifies as 10-Year Plan to Sabotage Postal Service Takes Effect

JAKE JOHNSON for Common Dreams

Defenders of the U.S. Postal Service are urgently renewing their calls for the ouster of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as his 10-year plan to overhaul the cherished government institution is set to take effect Friday, ushering in permanently slower mail delivery while hiking prices for consumers.

"DeJoy calls his plan 'Delivering for America,' but it will do the exact opposite—slowing many First Class Mail deliveries down, taking their standard from three to five days," Porter McConnell of Take on Wall Street, a co-founder of the Save the Post Office Coalition, warns in a video posted online late Tuesday.

"Slower ground transportation will also now be prioritized over air transportation," McConnell added. "These new service standards won't improve the Postal Service—they will make it harder for people all across the country to receive  their medications, their bills, their paychecks, and more."

Appointed in May 2020 by the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, DeJoy—a major donor to former President Donald Trump—sparked a nationwide uproar by dramatically slowing mail delivery in the run-up to that year's pivotal elections, which relied heavily on absentee voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But DeJoy, who can only be fired by a majority of the USPS board, has clung to his job despite incessant demands for his resignation or removal over the past year. In recent months, calls for DeJoy's termination have intensified as his conflicts of interest and past fundraising activities continue to draw scrutiny from watchdogs and the FBI.

Open carry


Do YOU want to be treated by an anti-vaxxer?

Buh-bye and good riddance!

Oct. 5: Experts talk Coasts in Crisis, rising seas and building resilience

Part of 2021 Sustaining Our Shores Honors Colloquium

By Dawn Bergantino

Megan Hall
Experts from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and the Mystic River Watershed Association will come together Tuesday, Oct. 5 to discuss “Coasts in Crisis; Risk and Resilience in New England” as part of the 58th annual Honors Colloquium. 

The 2021 Colloquium, Sustaining Our Shores, celebrates the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Panel experts will discuss the impact of sea level rise on our coastal communities as well as society’s response to prepare and adapt. 

The panel will be moderated by Megan Hall, host and managing producer of Possibly, a weekly podcast and radio segment on The Public’s Radio. Possibly delves deep into the field of sustainability science, reporting out what is known, and what we don’t know, about how the environment is changing and what we can do about it.

The panel will be held in-person at 7 p.m. in Edwards Hall Auditorium, 64 Upper College Road on the Kingston campus. Admission is free and open to the public; however, advance registration is required. Those unable to attend in person may watch online.

The panelists are:

Why social media can be bad for kids

Facebook has known for a year and a half that Instagram is bad for teens despite claiming otherwise 

Christia Spears BrownUniversity of Kentucky

Instagram’s emphasis on filtered photos of bodies harms
 girls’ self-image. 
Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Facebook officials had internal research in March 2020 showing that Instagram – the social media platform most used by adolescents – is harmful to teen girls’ body image and well-being but swept those findings under the rug to continue conducting business as usual, according to a Sept. 14, 2021, Wall Street Journal report.

Facebook’s policy of pursuing profits regardless of documented harm has sparked comparisons to Big Tobacco, which knew in the 1950s that its products were carcinogenic but publicly denied it into the 21st century. 

Those of us who study social media use in teens didn’t need a suppressed internal research study to know that Instagram can harm teens. Plenty of peer-reviewed research papers show the same thing.

Understanding the impact of social media on teens is important because almost all teens go online daily. A Pew Research Center poll shows that 89% of teens report they are online “almost constantly” or “several times a day.”

Teens are more likely to log on to Instagram than any other social media site. It is a ubiquitous part of adolescent life. Yet studies consistently show that the more often teens use Instagram, the worse their overall well-being, self-esteem, life satisfaction, mood and body image. One study found that the more college students used Instagram on any given day, the worse their mood and life satisfaction was that day.

Counting the number of people willing to fight a civil war for Trump

21 million people say Biden is ‘illegitimate’ and Trump should be restored by violence

Robert A. PapeUniversity of Chicago

Some Americans are looking past Joe Biden, seeking the return of
Donald Trump as president. AP Photo/Julio Cortez
A recent Washington demonstration supporting those charged with crimes for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol fizzled, with no more than 200 demonstrators showing up. The organizers had promised 700 people would turn out – or more.

But the threat from far-right insurrectionists is not over.

For months, my colleagues and I at the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats have been tracking insurrectionist sentiments in U.S. adults, most recently in surveys in June. 

We have found that 47 million American adults – nearly 1 in 5 – agree with the statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” Of those, 21 million also agree that “use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency.”

Our survey found that many of these 21 million people with insurrectionist sentiments have the capacity for violent mobilization. At least 7 million of them already own a gun, and at least 3 million have served in the U.S. military and so have lethal skills. 

 Of those 21 million, 6 million said they supported right-wing militias and extremist groups, and 1 million said they are themselves or personally know a member of such a group, including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Only a small percentage of people who hold extremist views ever actually commit acts of violence, but our findings reveal how many Americans hold views that could turn them toward insurrection.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The best way to fund the Jobs Bill

Even Trump voters like the idea of a modest extra tax on multimillionaires.

By Chuck Collins 

As lawmakers scramble to finalize a historic jobs and infrastructure package, huge fights are underway to figure out how to fund it.

The simplest, most effective, and most popular way is to tax the extremely wealthy, like the billionaires who’ve seen their collective wealth grow by $1.8 trillion during the pandemic. Unfortunately, lawmakers have missed several opportunities to do this.

For example, the House Ways and Means Committee has failed to take obvious steps like taxing income from stocks at the same rate as income from work, or closing the loopholes billionaires use to avoid the federal estate tax.

On the other hand, the Committee has also suggested some powerful inequality-fighting reforms that should be in the final legislation. One of these promising proposals is a “Millionaires Surtax.”

The idea is simple: Any income that multimillionaires earn over a certain amount would face a modest additional tax.

The Millionaires Surtax was originally introduced in 2019 and reintroduced in 2021 by Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and Virginia Representative Don Beyer. That bill would institute a 10 percent surtax on the incomes of couples making $2 million or more (the top 0.2 percent). The Tax Policy Center estimated this would raise $635 billion over 10 years.

The Americans for Tax Fairness coalition has coordinated a national campaign that has now put the concept at the center of the federal budget negotiations.

The recently released House Ways and Means plan differs slightly from that original proposal. It would impose a 3 percent surtax on the incomes of ultra-wealthy households making $5 million or more per year, raising an estimated $127 billion over 10 years. It also applies to incomes from investments, including trusts.

That’s a smaller haul to be sure, but worth building on.

Another way to look at trickle-down economics


Goodbye to killers


Even with Charlestown's 15% discount, costs could be high

For Many On Coast, Climate Crisis Means Rising Insurance Rates

By CAITLIN FAULDS/ecoRI News staff

RI Sea Grant program at URI
The country’s largest flood insurer is changing how it analyzes flood risk, and it could signal a reckoning for coastal communities.

On October 1,  the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will switch from flood-map-based risk analysis to Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action. The new pricing methodology will take into account more flood risk variables and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will result in insurance rates that are more equitable and more agile in the face of the climate crisis.

“Risk Rating 2.0 is not just a minor improvement, but a transformational leap forward,” FEMA spokesperson Rosa Norman said. “Risk Rating 2.0 enables FEMA to set rates that are fairer and ensures rate increases and decreases are both equitable.”

NFIP was established in 1968 to fill the gap left by private insurers that would not cover flooding. It is funded by the federal government — though currently $20 billion in debt, with an additional $16 billion canceled in 2017 to meet claims after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Since the 1970s, premiums have largely been based on property elevation according to zones on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). But this method gives “relatively static measurements,” according to Norman, and leaves room for inequities in pricing and coverage.

Largest RI nurses’ union supports vax mandate

Blames management for long-standing nurse shortages

United Nurses and Allied Professionals

Lynn Blais, R.N., President of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP), the state’s largest healthcare union, representing more than 7,000 nurses and health professionals, issued a statement today in regards to the approaching October 1 mandatory vaccine deadline for Rhode Island’s healthcare workers and the current staffing shortage in the healthcare field. 

“First, we want to reiterate our support for the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in Rhode Island. UNAP members have been on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic since day one, and no one has witnessed the massive toll it has taken on Rhode Islanders more so than we have. We’ve seen the outcomes – loneliness, physical and mental health struggles, death and despair for far too many people, including our members.

“We support this mandate because this is a public health issue and Rhode Islanders who need healthcare services should expect to be safe in health facilities. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective, and getting as many Rhode Islanders vaccinated as possible is the only way we will end this pandemic and get back to some sense of normalcy.

“Our members – the nurses and health professionals who have risked our health and our lives in service of others – are physically and mentally exhausted, and the current path we are on is not sustainable. We have the tools to end this pandemic – and we owe it to all Rhode Islanders to use them.

“We have been asked how we reconcile our position in support of the vaccine mandate with staffing issues that may arise due to the termination of healthcare workers who refuse the vaccine.

“We want to be clear – staffing shortages in the healthcare field, especially among nurses, have been a problem that began long before this pandemic started. As a union, we are the ones who have called attention to this issue time and again, and we will continue to do so.

“The root cause of the staffing shortage is simple – hospital management putting profits before patient care. When hospitals are run to make a profit for shareholders and executives, that means bare-bones staffing levels, with no flexibility for leaves of absence, vacancies, or worker illness.

With $4.9M from the CDC, Brown researchers to study COVID vaccine effectiveness in seniors

Looking at declining immunity especially among nursing home residents

Brown University

To address the pressing issue of diminishing immunity among older adults to COVID-19 as well to vaccines designed to protect against the virus, a $4.9 million award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will fund a two-year project led by Brown University researchers and conducted by a team spanning multiple institutions.

The researchers will examine the duration of protective immunity in the context of emerging strains of COVID-19, releasing interim data to the CDC as it becomes available to inform policy decisions in real time.

“Given rising case counts of the Delta variant, we need to know as soon as possible who needs a vaccine booster shot and when they need it,” said Stefan Gravenstein, co-lead investigator on the project and a professor of geriatric medicine at Brown. “This information on how specific immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection declines with aging, disease and in long-term care residents is critically important for developing a booster strategy based on real-time data in this population.”

Monday, September 27, 2021

Abortion bans will kill women

Study shows an abortion ban may lead to a 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths

Banning abortion can have health consequences for pregnant people.
 Jordan Vonderhaar/Stringer via Getty Images News
A new Texas law bans nearly all abortions, and other states have indicated that they likely will follow suit

But the research is clear that people who want abortions but are unable to get them can suffer a slew of negative consequences for their health and well-being.

As a researcher who measures the effects of contraception and abortion policy on people’s lives, I usually have to wait years for the data to roll in. But sometimes anticipating a policy’s effects before they happen can suggest ways to avoid its worst consequences.

In my forthcoming peer-reviewed paper, currently available as a preprint, I found that if the U.S. ends all abortions nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths will increase substantially because carrying a pregnancy to term can be deadlier than having an abortion.

Burn, Mitch, burn


Elvis spotted getting vaxxed!

 Follow the King

Yeah, it was in 1956 and happened on the "Ed Sullivan Show." He did this with the intent of inspiring public confidence in the polio vaccine. Wonder what he would think of all those folks who STILL think he's The King but won't get vaxxed. Getty Images.

Prevent roadkill in Charlestown

Fall means more deer on the road: 4 ways time of day, month and year raise your risk of crashes

Deer cross roads whenever they wish, but some time periods are
higher risk than others. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Autumn is here, and that means the risk of hitting deer on rural roads and highways is rising, especially around dusk and during a full moon.

Deer cause over 1 million motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year, resulting in more than US$1 billion in property damage, about 200 human deaths and 29,000 serious injuries. 

Property damage insurance claims average around $2,600 per accident, and the overall average cost, including severe injuries or death, is over $6,000.

While avoiding deer – as well as moose, elk and other hoofed animals, known as ungulates – can seem impossible if you’re driving in rural areas, there are certain times and places that are most hazardous, and so warrant extra caution.

Transportation agencies, working with scientists, have been developing ways to predict where deer and other ungulates enter roads so they can post warning signs or install fencing or wildlife passages under or over the roadway. Just as important is knowing when these accidents occur.

My former students Victor Colino-Rabanal, Nimanthi Abeyrathna and I have analyzed over 86,000 deer-vehicle collisions involving white-tailed deer in New York state using police records over a three-year period. Here’s what our research and other studies show about timing and risk:

What can possibly go wrong?

Now we’re cooking with lasers

Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

Imagine having your own digital personal chef; ready to cook up whatever you want; able to tailor the shape, texture, and flavor just for you; and it's all at the push of a button. Columbia engineers have been working on doing just that, using lasers for cooking and 3D printing technology for assembling foods.

Under the guidance of Mechanical Engineering Professor Hod Lipson, the "Digital Food" team of his Creative Machines Lab has been building a fully autonomous digital personal chef. Lipson's group has been developing 3D-printed foods since 2007. Since then, food printing has progressed to multi-ingredient prints and has been explored by researchers and a few commercial companies.

The official word on booster shots

You can (and should get the Pfizer booster if your last Pfizer shot was 6+ months ago and you are 65 and older

Also if you are younger but are immuno-comprised or have illnesses (e.g. diabetes) that put you at higher risk or you are a front-line worker (e.g. health care, grocery store)

Matthew WoodruffEmory University

The FDA and CDC are recommending use of a third shot, or “booster dose”
for certain groups of people in the U.S. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
Following the recommendations of its vaccine advisory committee, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for certain populations. 

The single shot is to be administered six months following completion of the original two-dose course.

The FDA’s Sept. 22, 2021, decision to not extend boosters to the general population – at least not yet – was a direct rebuke to the Biden administration’s announcement in August that booster shots would be rolled out to all eligible Americans beginning in late September. Biden’s pledge had been widely criticized for getting out in front of the science and the regulatory process.

The FDA instead limited its authorization of the third Pfizer dose to people 65 and older, people ages 18-64 at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions, and individuals with frequent risk of exposure to the coronavirus through their work, such as health care workers and teachers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices then issued its own booster recommendations on Sept. 23, 2021. Its guidance aligned with the FDA’s authorization of boosters for use in ages 65 and up and people at high risk of severe COVID-19, but stopped short of endorsing booster shots for people with frequent occupational exposure. 

However, in an effort to realign the two agencies’ recommendations, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overrode the CDC advisory committee, providing the go-ahead for all groups listed under the FDA’s emergency use authorizations – including those with increased job-site risk.

Despite the mixed messaging between the agencies, the immediate effect is that millions of Americans will be in line for added protection amid concerns over waning vaccine immunity. An ongoing evaluation of whether COVID-19 boosters should be administered more broadly among vaccine-eligible people is likely to take place in the coming months, as more data becomes available to inform questions of safety, need and efficacy of boosters.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In Rhode Island, you should probably make an appointment. Pharmacies (e.g. CVS) can give your flu shot at the same time. Flu could make a comeback this winter with fewer people wearing masks than last year.  - Will Collette

Sunday, September 26, 2021

There WILL be a next time

How Congress Can Prevent the Next Pandemic

By Gabe Bankman-Fried for the Independent Media Institute

The House of Representatives just took a much-needed first step in preparing for the next pandemic. The Energy and Commerce Committee announced that the Build Back Better Act will include  $15 billion for pandemic preparedness. 

This modest investment -- less than .5% of the Build Back Better package -- will massively pay off in helping us avoid another calamity like COVID-19.  

$15 billion isn’t enough, but it is an important starting point. We must come to terms with the grim certainty that another pandemic will devastate our country in our lifetimes. Our government cannot afford another scramble for vaccine technology and personal protective equipment.

We must prepare for the next pandemic today. 

Eleven times

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post


In case you forgot


Will we control it or will it control us?

New report assesses progress and risks of artificial intelligence

Brown University

Artificial intelligence has reached a critical turning point in its evolution, according to a new report by an international panel of experts assessing the state of the field. 

Substantial advances in language processing, computer vision and pattern recognition mean that AI is touching people’s lives on a daily basis — from helping people to choose a movie to aiding in medical diagnoses.

With that success, however, comes a renewed urgency to understand and mitigate the risks and downsides of AI-driven systems, such as algorithmic discrimination or use of AI for deliberate deception. Computer scientists must work with experts in the social sciences and law to assure that the pitfalls of AI are minimized.

Those conclusions are from a report titled “Gathering Strength, Gathering Storms: The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) 2021 Study Panel Report,” which was compiled by a panel of experts from computer science, public policy, psychology, sociology and other disciplines. 

AI100 is an ongoing project hosted by the Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence that aims to monitor the progress of AI and guide its future development. This new report, the second to be released by the AI100 project, assesses developments in AI between 2016 and 2021.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

We Asked Five Experts


Do I have to drink eight glasses of water per day?

Everyone knows humans need water and we can’t survive without it. We’ve all heard we should be aiming for eight glasses, or two liters of water per day.

This target seems pretty steep when you think about how much water that actually is, and don’t we also get some water from the food we eat?

We asked five medical and sports science experts if we really need to drink eight glasses of water per day.

All five experts said no

Here are their detailed responses:

Top 11 Reasons for COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Could “stupid” be one of them?


By Walt Handelsman, The Advocate
People’s trust in the government’s approval of a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is the biggest driver of vaccine uptake, an Australian study has found.

Second on the list of motivations identified in the study is the perceived effectiveness of the vaccine to protect others in the community.

The next two most common drivers of vaccine hesitancy were found to be “free-riding,” where individuals believe they can benefit from others taking up the vaccine without being immunized themselves, and conspiracy beliefs about vaccination, capturing the attitudes of “anti-vaxxers.”

The study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Business Intelligence & Data Analytics at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), sampled more than 4300 respondents in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and found 11 factors were enablers or barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. 

“This study offers strong insights for improving vaccination coverage, with the challenge of implementing one of the most important vaccination programs in human history,” said Associate Professor Paul Burke, Deputy Director, Centre for Business Intelligence & Data Analytics at UTS Business School.

“While the development of effective vaccine offerings is essential, unless people are going to be vaccinated such programs will not be successful. This study tells us the who and the why to encourage more significant uptake.” 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

States vs. Big Business

Rhode Island has been an active litigant

By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Twenty twenty-one is turning out to be a banner year for state government prosecution of corporate crime and misconduct. 

The biggest events are, of course, the settlements with pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson along with the three big drug distributors—Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson—for their role in creating and prolonging the opioid epidemic.

While some argue that the amounts are not sufficient, those cases will result in billions of dollars in payments to state governments from the corporations and the family, the Sacklers, who controlled the now bankrupt Purdue and grew enormously wealthy from its operations.

In all, the states will rack up more than $30 billion in 2021, which would be the largest amount since 2008, when the states received about $53 billion in payments, largely as the result of a series of billion-dollar-plus settlements with the likes of Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to resolve allegations that the Wall Street banks misled investors in the marketing of auction-rate securities.

This year’s total is not entirely the result of the opioid litigation. There have also been numerous other cases resolved by state attorneys general that may not involve billions but are still quite significant. Here are some examples.

In July, the New York AG announced that TIAA-CREF, a subsidiary of retirement-services giant TIAA, had agreed to pay $97 million to resolve allegations that it fraudulently misled tens of thousands of customers into moving their retirement investments into higher-fee accounts offered by the company.

History lesson

By Matt DaviesNewsday


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