A MARTINEZ, HOST: A bankruptcy trial is underway in New York for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. Members of the Sackler family, who own the drug company, have testified they bear no responsibility for the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. As part of the bankruptcy deal, the Sacklers are demanding immunity from lawsuits for themselves and for a network of companies and organizations. NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann has been following this. Brian, you've reported before, the Sacklers want a clean slate for themselves - no more opioid lawsuits. But this deal in particular would also shelter a bunch of other people and companies from liability. How would that work?
BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: You know, this has been a major flashpoint in this trial, A. And it was again yesterday. As part of Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy settlement, the Sacklers, who say they've done nothing wrong, have agreed to pay $4.3 billion to fund addiction treatment programs. But the Sacklers want something really big in return. Their attorneys have drawn up this single-spaced list of individuals, organizations and companies. This list runs for 12 full pages. If this deal is finalized, everyone on the list would be sheltered permanently from lawsuits linked to opioids and OxyContin and from a wide range of other lawsuits.
MARTINEZ: And why does that matter?
MANN: So this is interesting. Critics say the Sacklers and their empire are at the center of one of the biggest manmade public health disasters in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in this epidemic. Their company has pleaded guilty to federal crimes linked to the OxyContin business, first in 2007 and again last year. Again, the Sacklers deny wrongdoing and have never been charged. But there are still big unanswered questions about how this prescription opioid crisis happened and who in the Sacklers' network might be liable for some of the harm. And let me give you one example, A. You know, the consulting giant McKinsey, they acknowledged helping Purdue Pharma try to turbo charge OxyContin sales. They apologized and earlier this year paid more than $500 million to settle opioid claims. So we know what role McKinsey played. But if this bankruptcy deal is finalized, all these other companies on the list that worked with Purdue Pharma or the Sacklers, they'd be shielded from liability in the future. And the books would be closed. All questions about their role would likely never be answered.
They are criminals and their friends are criminals. They should all be carted off to jail. They should be fined out of every dollar they have.
Now here is THE CONVO COUCH.
I am happy to say that so far, two weeks in a row, I am doing what I said here: Noting Richard Medhurst, Katie Halper, and THE CONVO COUCH once each every week.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, August 20, 2021. CNN still struggles with the ethical issue of disclosures while Marianne Williamson believes the best person to speak on behalf of Afghan women is a US service member that invaded the country.
I thought CNN had enough ethical problems currently with the Chris Cuomo scandal but apparently they're attempting to court even more. An opinion piece arguing that the US troops must stay in Iraq was just published by the network and it includes this "editor's note:"
Maj. Gen. Sirwan Barzani is a commander of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq. He is also the founder of Korek Telecom, a telecommunications company in that region. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Is that who Sirwan Barzani is?
Because, to me, that's a bit like saying Jenna Bush Hager is the cousin of Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
It's truthful, yes. The two are cousins. But the most obvious way to identify Jenna is as the daughter of War Criminal Bully Boy Bush and the granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush.
Sirwan? His uncle is Massoud Barzani who is the former president of the Kurdistan Region and is the head KDP political party (the KRG's most powerful political party). Sirwan is the cousin of the current president of the KRG Nechirvan Barzani.
Why is CNN trying to fool people? And why are they doing it so poorly?
The two most powerful families in the Kurdistan Region are the Barzanis and the Talabanis. The Barzanis passed the Talabanis after the latter family tricked the country for over a year and a half -- pretending that Jalal Talabani was still fit to serve as president when, in fact, he couldn't speak and was not aware of his surroundings. So great was their thirst for power that they lied to the people to hold on to a political position. They harmed the Kurdistan Region, they harmed the Iraqi government. And the family still struggles to recover from that blow. That's the Talabanis, not the Barzanis.
I also find it cute that pro-war CNN is quick to hear from the Barzanis right now as they argue for US troops to remain in Iraq, but they didn't give a damn about him or an of the Kurds in September of 2017 when the non-binding referendum was held on Kurdistan independence. The referendum passed with approximately 95% of the vote. The Barzani family supported the referendum (it was smart to support it -- politically, it was smart -- so naturally the Talabani family were puppets for the West and opposed it.) But now CNN cares what a Barzani thinks? Now?
I like Marianne Williamson. I know her. She's a thoughtful and kind person. Doesn't mean I always agree with her. I do know she always means well. She's come under negative criticism this week for remarks about Afghanistan. I have no idea what she said (I'm sure we posted it here, we generally post Marianne's videos) and neither care enough nor have the time to go back and find out. But we were asked to post a new video on Afghanistan where she's speaking with someone.
We won't be posting that video.
Due to the criticism of her earlier remarks on Afghanistan, I did make a point to stream the latest video.
She praises a film. It's a film I opposed and did so publicly here. It's a cute little CIA fantasy film posing as a documentary. Marianne notes -- as a compliment of the film -- that it doesn't assign blame. I don't see that as something to compliment. Iraq is destroyed because of the US-led war. If you're not going to assign blame, why make a film. It's one of those propaganda pieces that works overtime to clear the guilty by refocusing attention elsewhere.
I don't say that to attack Marianne. Nor am I suggesting for one moment that she is attempting to mislead. She has a kind heart. But we've have trashed that film forever and a day because of what it stands for. So I'm streaming and thinking, "How long of a note will I have to do regarding that documentary to post the video?"
But then the problems just multiply.
Today's women in Afghanistan, we are told, are somehow better ("better" is no the term used -- it's suggested that they are stronger and smarter). Excuse the f**k out of me, but now you're offending me. Who the hell are you -- or anyone -- to spit on or sneer at the Afghan women of the generation prior? Women who suffered. Women who fought. How dare you.
Afghanistan was never my issue here or in offline life. Meaning mainly that I never used them as a prop unlike, for example, Gloria Steinem. One of the worst non-Iraq issues when I first started speaking out against the Iraq War publicly (February 2003) would be encountering Afghan women at a college campus or elsewhere and hear, over and over, their stories of how Gloria Steinem betrayed them. I am not saying that they used her as a symbol. I am saying that they cited her specifically with specific promises she made to them as individual women.
Most of them would note Gloria -- possibly one or two besides Gloria that they had met -- and they were able to be very clear that it was an individual who broke promises.
But they would talk about the broken promise of help, of publicity, of this or that and they would tie it into what they had struggled against before coming to the US and how hard that had been but then the grave disappointment to realize that their 'friend' here in America really wasn't their friend unless cameras were around.
So that group of women has already been betrayed by some US feminists. I'll be damned if I'll stay silent while we're now presented with the myth that today's Afghan woman is superior to the one of the 90s. How insulting. I'm sure today's Afghan women are wonderful and incredible. But guess what? So were the women who came before. And how dare you imply otherwise on a group of women who suffered so greatly.
I don't care that you had good motives, Marianne. And I'm sure you were short handing to squeeze the topic in and would have chosen more wisely if that had been the main topic of the segment. I care that your words are insulting and hurtful. And they are to a group of women who deserve a lot better.
'Okay,' I told myself, 'I'll just link to the article that the guest wrote.'
But if I do that, am I endorsing the conversation? I'm sorry but this is a very sensitive issue for me.
In 2003 and 2004, these were conversations where the woman or women speaking with me, sharing the way they were betrayed were in tears and so was I.
I never, ever want to do anything that could cause them further disappointment and pain.
And the guest was an idiot who was going along with Marianne's take on Afghan women.
And the woman -- the guest -- is an idiot. (I'm disappointed in Marianne, but Marianne's no idiot.)
She's one of those freaks who did a lot of destruction -- I'm not talking about her military service -- and now -- either because she's 'changed' or because the political tides did -- she's now more left than anyone and she's going to save us all.
Bitch, can't even tell the truth.
I don't need your propaganda, honey. You want to lie, take it somewhere else because I'm not posting it here.
GI Grunt wants you to know how she joined the military and it was because of FOX NEWS and FOX NEWS and FOX NEWS . . .
A non-friend (who seems to think we're friends) made a film out of a book. I hated the film. I've mentioned it here. Offline, I ripped it apart and actively attacked it. And he knew that and he was so upset and how dare I, ''I guess you just pretend to care about Iraq."
Yeah, that's right. That's why I haven't walked away all these years later.
Caring about the Iraqi people means caring about the damn truth. So when you make a movie that includes the press lying about Iraq, that bases a character on Judith Miller and you make this character a reporter for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL?
You're not interested in the Iraqi people. You're interested in partisanship and in rewriting history.
Judith Miller worked for THE NEW YORK TIMES> That paper actively sold the Iraq War. And Judith was wrong for not being skeptical and buying everything she was told by government officials. But there were many more at the paper who knew better and actively worked to sell the lies ahead of the war. Jill Abramson is the first to really go after Judy. And Jill did that so that no one would go after Jill's own failures and mistakes which were huge and, yes, Jill worked overtime at the paper to sell the Iraq War. And it wasn't THE WALL STREET JOURNAL that then President of Vice Dick Cheney was waving on camera on NBC's MEET THE PRESS to back up his points (lies) about Iraq -- it was the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES>
I am not a fan of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. It did its part to sell the Iraq War. But when you are dealing with Judith Miller and you turn her into an employee of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, you're lying. You're going after them because they're right-wing and you're rewriting history and lying to make others -- who were just as guilty or even more guilty -- appear innocent.
The only innocent corporate newspaper was the KNIGHT-RIDDER chain and it no longer exists. Do not give that sewer MCCLATHCY NEWSPAPERS credit for what KNIGHT-RIDDER did. MCCLATHCY lied about Iraq the same way every other newspaper did.
So now we have GI Grunt or GI Grunta? -- on a video repeatedly invoking FOX NEWS, FOX NEWS, FOX NEWS . . .
Some people were not alive when the Iraq War was being sold. And they will hear her garbage and think it's true. They will think, "Why couldn't we all stand up to FOX NEWS?"
Because it wasn't just FOX NEWS. It was ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE LOS ANGELS TIMES, THE NEW REPUBLIC, . . . .
I don't have time for G.I. Grunta's garbage. I don't trust her and she clearly has issues she needs to work through. I made that call on David BROCK** long before others were realizing, "Lefties, we have a problem." Long before his drug problems and his racism and all the rest were known of.
The right rejected him -- in part because he was gay, in part because he was a nasty party boy (by nasty, I mean he couldn't hold his substances well) -- and he had nowhere to go. So based on an ESQUIRE article we had to embrace him?
All he did was destroy the left. He brought all the garbage he used against Anita Hill over to the left to use against the right. We did not become better by adopting his practice of lying.
G.I. Gurnta needs help. I'm sure some 'woke' warriors will applaud her. I won't. I see a damaged person who needs help and who will, if she doesn't get help, take others down with her.
In the video for Marianne's podcast, Marianne wants us to also know that we're all in tears and . . .
I'm not in tears over what's going on right now in Afghanistan.
I was in tears over the war (which is ongoing). I was in tears -- same is true of Iraq -- over grasping that this was a failure that would turn out exactly as it has.
I don't know what you were doing since 2001 but I would hope many adults, like me, were preparing themselves for the reality.
This is what happens when you try to build a nation via a foreign military.
The government wasn't home grown.
At least with Afghanistan, the US installed leaders like Hamid Karzai. A crook, yes. But unlike in Iraq, he was a crook already in the country. In Iraq, the US installs cowards as prime ministers over and over. One after another, each man fled Iraq years ago and only returned after the start of the US-led invasion. Cowards who fled the country are then put in charge by the US as 'leaders'?
People who are crying need to wipe away the tears and stop the sobbing and grasp that this is the natural outcome. Grow up and face it. I'm always shocked by the experts' getting it wrong. Because they self-present as informed. And yet basic political science theory lets you know these outcomes.
What's going on in Afghanistan right now is horrible.
But that was the outcome. It was always going to happen.
Of Poppy Bush, some insist he betrayed the Kurds or the ones who were told to rise up against Saddam or whatever.
He may have but what he really did was grasp that he better call a victory quickly on the Gulf War because if he tried to make the US an occupying force, he'd quickly see how there was nothing there that he could even pretend to brag about.
Beat the clock appears to be the plan in Iraq, as we've long noted.
The US government seems to believe that they will exhaust the Iraqi people into submission.
The US-installed government has not taken hold, is not taking hold, but maybe if we just keep US forces on the ground for another ten years or so, the government will be so entrenched that it will survive.
The Iraqi people are not idiots. They have rejected the system the US has imposed on them. They know what they want as witnessed by The October Revolution which finds them making demands for a responsive government.
If you're crying today for Afghanistan, you need to grasp that this is a logical outcome when a people have a government imposed upon them. The imposed government has no legitimacy.
When US troops truly leave Iraq, it will probably be very messy. Very violent. It will also provide the closest thing to real self-determination for the Iraqi people. Keeping US troops on the ground in Iraq does not help the Iraqi people.
I'm not going to link to the right-wing garbage FOREIGN POLICY published explaining that "Iraqis'' fear that they will be like Afghanistan. Which Iraqis? The majority of the people who have long favored all US troops go home? The Parliament which saw a huge number of members vote to expell US troops?
It's cute who the US media chooses to portray.
Marianne, for example, could have interviewed an Afghan woman, get her to talk about her own country. Some might argue that Marianne bringing on a US woman to talk about Afghan women was deeply insulting. They might also argue that bringing on a US woman who invaded Afghanistan to talk about Afghan women was the height of stupidity and so far beyond insulting that we don't have a word for it.
First, G.I. Grunta invades the country and now she gets to speak for its women? If that isn't empire at its most vile, what is it?
There are real lessons to be learned right now. We're not getting that from our media. Our corporate media is full of deceptive whores and our left media can't grasp that the invader is not the one who needs to be speaking on behalf of the invaded.
Randi Rhodes used to make a great point about how the US didn't know about the countries they invaded. She would talk about life there and the types of jobs and this or that to give you a feeling for the country so you had something other than 'the other' in your head.
20 years ago, the US invaded Afghanistan and we weren't allowed to hear from the Afghan people. All this time later, everyone seems to think they have a right to speak for the Afghan people. It's sad and telling.
[** David Brock. Dictated snapshot originally -- and wrongly -- read David Sirota. I may have said "Sirota" because I was attempting all week to work a Tweet of his in. If I did say it, I was mistaken. Regardless, apologies, I was referring to David Brock and not David Sirota.**]
The following sites updated: