McKinsey agrees to pay nearly $600M over opioid crisis
The global business consultant McKinsey & Co. has agreed to pay nearly $600 million for its role in the opioid crisis. In a deal announced Thursday with attorneys general for most states, the company agrees to make public documents showing communications with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and three other companies that have been in the opioid business. The settlement is novel because McKinsey did not make or sell the powerful painkillers but rather advised companies that did on how to boost their business. States say the company encouraged Purdue to focus on selling higher doses and to high-volume prescribers.
Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid
An Associated Press investigation has found that scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the federal government’s small business emergency relief program. The Paycheck Protection Program was intended for employers who were badly battered by coronavirus lock downs. Instead of suffering financially, however, many dioceses are reporting in audited financial statements that these assets ended up growing amid the economic downturn. Overall, Catholic Church recipients were perhaps the paycheck program’s biggest beneficiaries. Church officials say they needed government relief to pay staff because donations from the faithful slowed when churches were ordered to close.
Takeaways: AP investigation of Catholic Church and US aid
When the coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy into freefall, the federal government hastily knit a safety net for small businesses called the Paycheck Protection Program. The idea was to keep Main Street alive — and workers paid — even as the public health emergency shuttered shops and offices. An Associated Press investigation found that the Roman Catholic Church was perhaps the program’s biggest beneficiary. Catholic dioceses, where bishops and cardinals govern, collectively had billions in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $3 billion from the small business emergency relief program. And instead of suffering financially, many Catholic dioceses are reporting that their available assets ended up growing amid the broader economic downturn.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATE LAWMAKER
State Sen. Natasha Marcus tests positive for the coronavirus
DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) — A state senator in North Carolina has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday that Natasha Marcus announced her positive test results in a Facebook post. The Democrat from Davidson said that she hadn’t been to work in person since January 13th and had not attended any social gatherings. She also said that she had made limited trips outside her home. Marcus said she hopes she avoided spreading it to anyone else and that her positive test serves as a reminder for people to be careful. Marcus is the fifth state legislator to publicly announce that he or she has the coronavirus.
USGS reports two tremors near North Carolina town of Sparta
SPARTA, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey reports that earthquakes have shook the town of Sparta. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the tremors struck Wednesday night. Sparta is about 100 miles north of Charlotte near the Virginia state line. The 2.4 magnitude quake began shortly after 11 p.m. Another quake that was a 2.1 magnitude hit around 11:30 p.m. Sparta is the same town that withstood a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in August. That earthquake was felt throughout the state.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-RELIEF BILL
NC Senate OK’s bill distributing federal COVID relief money
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina state senators have approved a bill to give parents more time to apply for $335 checks to help offset childcare expenses and costs associated with having their kids learning remotely. The bill also distributes money the federal government sent to the state as part of its December stimulus package. Additional relief will go to help schools reopen, provide rent relief and help local officials more quickly vaccinate residents. The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives. It will then make its way to the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper.
Biden EPA nominee vows ‘sense of urgency’ on climate change
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency has pledged to act with “a sense of urgency” on climate change and other priorities, while working with lawmakers from both parties to protect the environment. Michael Regan told a Senate committee that under Biden, the EPA “will stand up for environmental justice and equity″ and collaborate with business and community groups, state and local governments and others. Regan, who has served as top environmental regulator in his home states since 2017, testified Wednesday to the Senate environment committee. If confirmed, he would be the first African American to run EPA.
POLICE SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA
Police: Suspect wounded following officer-involved shooting
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say that a person has suffered a gunshot wound following a police-involved shooting in Rocky Mount. WNCT reports that the incident occurred Tuesday night during a traffic stop. Authorities say that Rocky Mount police had responded to help the North Carolina State Highway Patrol with the traffic stop. Authorities said the suspect had fled. Rocky Mount police said that officers arrived and encountered a person matching the suspect’s description. Police said that shots were fired as officers attempted to detain the person. Police said the suspect suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to a nearby hospital. The investigation remains under investigation. No officers were injured during the incident.
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