The shooting is being investigated by the FBI as well as local law enforcement. (Representational)Los Angeles: A girl opened fire at a school in the northwestern US state of Idaho on Thursday, injuring three people before being disarmed by a teacher, police said.The unnamed student at Rigby Middle School near Idaho Falls was in the sixth grade, meaning she would likely be aged 11 or 12.She “retrieved a handgun from her backpack, fired multiple rounds inside of the school and out,” said Jefferson County sheriff Steve Anderson.Injuries suffered by two students and one staff member are not thought to be life-threatening, he said.”During the shooting a teacher disarmed the student, and detained her until law enforcement took her into custody,” added Anderson at a press conference.The shooting is being investigated by the FBI as well as local law enforcement.The US has suffered a spate of mass shootings in recent weeks, including at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, an office building in California, a grocery store in Colorado and at several spas in Atlanta.President Joe Biden last month branded US gun violence an “epidemic” and an “international embarrassment”There were more than 43,000 gun-related deaths in the United States last year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Adults of all ages in Germany can now receive AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, and recipients of that jab can get their second dose as soon as four weeks after their first, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said.
In March, Germany was among the first countries to limit its rollout of the Anglo-Swedish jab to those aged 60 and above amid concerns of a link to blood clots in younger vaccine recipients.On Thursday, Spahn announced the government and the health ministers of Germany’s federal states had reached an agreement on expanding the vaccine’s rollout to adults of all ages.
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Spahn said that lower-priority groups of the population who are waiting to be vaccinated would be happy to receive a shot of AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria jab.He said that doctors can now vaccinate people with Vaxzevria regardless of their prioritization status, and that they are free to shorten the interval between doses from 12 weeks to as little as four weeks.“We want to leave this decision flexibly in the hands of doctors,” Spahn said in a statement.The minister also announced that by the end of August all 12-18 year-olds in Germany should have received an offer to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, pending its approval for that age cohort next month.Following a number of reports of unusual blood clots among a small number of AstraZeneca vaccine recipients earlier this year, the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency, conducted a review of the cases.
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Published last month, the review found that the jab was safe, but that unusual blood clots are a “very rare side effect”, and had mostly occurred in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of their vaccination.As of Wednesday, 8.6% of Germany’s population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 30% have received one dose of a vaccine, according to Health Ministry figures.Like this story? Share it with a friend!
West Virginia lawsuit accuses drug distributors of fuelling opioid epidemic with excessive shipments of painkillers.Drug companies accused of fomenting opioid addiction in the United States are facing millions of dollars in damages in a trial that opened on Monday in the state of West Virginia, which has been hit hard by the epidemic of addiction and overdoses.
The city of Huntington filed a federal lawsuit against three big drug distributors -AmerisourceBergen Drug Co, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp – alleging they pumped addictive painkillers into the state.
“It is fitting that the trial will proceed in West Virginia, which has been ground zero of the opioid epidemic,” the plaintiff’s lawyers, Paul Farrell and Anne McGinness Kearse, said in a statement.
More than 400,000 people have died in the US of overdoses since the early 2000s, when producers of prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone ramped up sales through pharmacies and doctors with few controls.
West Virginia has the nation’s highest fatal opioid overdose rate.
A US judge last month rejected the companies’ attempt to dismiss the West Virginia case.
Hundreds of similar lawsuits have been filed across the country, but the Huntington case has become the focus of national efforts to make drug companies pay for the social and medical costs of the addiction epidemic.
“Between 2006 and 2014, manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids have showered the state of West Virginia with 1.1 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The massive over-shipment amounts to 611 pain pills for every man, woman and child in the state.”
Leading pharmaceutical makers and distributors, including bankrupt Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma and top US pharmacy chain CVS, are also named in the lawsuit.
The drugmakers and pharmacy chain have blamed the epidemic on doctors who overprescribed the drugs, fuelling a massive black market for some 15 years that was only brought under control beginning in 2015.
But the federal government has prosecuted and jailed or fined hundreds of doctors, pharmacies and drug producers for everything from trafficking to poor controls on opioid distribution.
The US Justice Department sued Walmart Inc in December, accusing the retailer of fuelling the opioid crisis and ignoring warning signs from its pharmacists.
US prosecutors reached an $8.3bn settlement with Purdue Pharma in October, when the company admitted criminal conduct in the distribution of its painkillers and agreed to asset forfeiture while in bankruptcy reorganisation.
Major US consultancy McKinsey & Co agreed to pay $573m to settle a lawsuit by US states, which accused the firm of helping fuel the opioid crisis by providing marketing and sales advice to Purdue Pharma and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.
Since controls on legal opioids were tightened, many people whose addiction began with prescription drugs have turned to illegal heroin and fentanyl, prolonging the epidemic.
About 90,000 total overdose deaths were reported last year across the country, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of which nearly three-quarters involved opioids.
Investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro comes as Brazil is set to surpass 400,000 coronavirus deaths this week.Brazil’s Senate has opened its inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro‘s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the South American country rapidly approaches the sombre milestone of 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
The government of Bolsonaro, a far-right COVID-19 sceptic who has downplayed the virus and rebuffed efforts to enact public health restrictions, is facing widespread criticism for Brazil’s high coronavirus death toll and infection rates.
More than 391,000 people have died in Brazil – the second highest death toll after the United States – while at least 14.3 million cases have been recorded to date, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The parliamentary commission – known by its Portuguese acronym CPI – will investigate whether federal or state officials were criminally negligent or corrupt in their handling of the pandemic, as well as whether Bolsonaro sabotaged public health measures.
A catastrophe that struck the Amazonian city of Manaus, where hospitals ran out of oxygen and other much-needed supplies during a surge of infections earlier this year, will also be investigated.
“The performance of the government in tackling the pandemic was the worst it could have been,” Humberto Costa, a former health minister and senator with the left-wing Worker’s Party, told Al Jazeera earlier this month about the probe.
Political analyst Andre Rehbein Sathler, of news site Congresso em Foco’s research unit, told the AFP news agency that the investigation “is going to create a lot of problems for the president”.
“They don’t even really need an investigation. The government’s actions on the pandemic are there for all to see,” he said.
“Not just omissions, but actions. The administration went to the Supreme Court to try to block states’ social distancing measures, it refused to purchase vaccines, it minimised the pandemic.”
Bolsonaro has defended his government’s handling of the pandemic, saying public health curbs, such as lockdowns, would harm the economy.
“We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” he told a crowd of supporters earlier this month, again refusing to impose a national lockdown.
On Friday, Bolsonaro suggested he could send the army out onto the streets if lockdown measures aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 lead to chaos.
“That lockdown policy, of quarantine, is absurd. If we have problems … we have a plan of how to act. I am the supreme head of the armed forces,” he said in an interview with TV Critica.
Observers have said the Senate inquiry could hurt Bolsonaro’s chances of re-election in polls scheduled for next year.
The former army captain is widely expected to be challenged by left-wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has slammed Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and said: “Brazil will not withstand it if this man continues to govern in this way.”
The 11 Senate commissioners have the power to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify, and they can submit their findings to police or other authorities with the power to prosecute wrongdoing.
The news website UOL reported on Sunday that an internal administration document anticipated 23 possible lines of investigation, including politicising the pandemic and negligence in purchasing vaccines.
Brazil’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been plagued by delays.
Brazil is expected to surpass 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths later this week [File: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]The country’s regulator gave the green light to two COVID-19 vaccines – AstraZeneca and CoronaVac – in January and has also approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson shots, which have yet to arrive in the country.
While daily coronavirus infections and deaths have slowed slightly this month, Brazil is on track to surpass the 400,000-deaths mark later this week. The pandemic’s heavy toll is also creating widespread food insecurity and leaving millions of Brazilians hungry.
Hamilton, a Canadian port city on Lake Ontario, has responded to a jump in Covid-19 cases by making vaccines available to all adults in “hot spot” neighborhoods, but only to residents whose skin isn’t white.
The city expanded vaccine eligibility to “black and other racialized” people 18 and older who live in five zip codes where the current outbreak is most acute. A special clinic set up to vaccinate only non-white residents filled out its appointment book in just a few hours last week.COVID-19 vaccine appointments are now available for Black and other racialized populations/people of colour ages 18+ who live in postal codes L9C, L8W, L8L, L8N and L9K at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at FIRSTONTARIO CENTRE, Friday to Sunday this coming week.— City of Hamilton (@cityofhamilton) April 24, 2021The move comes amid a Covid-19 case surge so severe that Ontario Premier Doug Ford earlier this month set up checkpoints at the province’s borders with Manitoba and Quebec and tightened already severe lockdown restrictions. With the province unable to secure enough vaccine doses as new strains cause the virus to spread more quickly, “we’re losing the battle between the variants and the vaccines,” Ford said.
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But social media users argued that choosing who gets the vaccines based on skin color, without regard to such risk factors as age and pre-existing medical conditions, is racist. “Woke racism is a Canadian virtue – clearly illegal, but government-sanctioned and police-enforced,” one Twitter commenter said.Woke racism is a Canadian virtue.Clearly illegal, but government-sanctioned, and police-enforced.— King George V (@metebelis_3) April 26, 2021“Too bad I’m white and poor and in bad health, but whatever,” another observer said. “Give a 30-year-old, healthy black lawyer a vaccine just because he’s black.”The US state of Vermont adopted a similar policy earlier this month, making Covid-19 jabs available to non-white residents who are at least 16 years old but limiting the shots to those age 50 and up for whites. And like Hamilton, Vermont set up dedicated clinics for non-whites.
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Others questioned how racial eligibility will be determined, such as the percentage of non-white blood a person would need to qualify, and likened the policy to disastrous ethnicity-based marginalization of people in past eras.How do we tell who is “racialized enough” to be eligible? Perhaps a bureau of racial purity? Racial passports? Maybe just stitch symbols onto people’s sleeves to make identifying them easier. Wonder if this has ever been tried before. Surely it can’t go wrong.— Corpse Retrieval Man (@DECAFxMETCALF) April 26, 2021Hamilton officials cited the fact that 47% of the residents who have been infected with Covid-19 identify as “racialized,” although they make up only 19% of the city’s population. Proponents of such policies prioritizing non-white people for vaccines have argued that “systemic conditions” have rendered them more vulnerable to Covid-19.But some black observers said race-based prioritization is divisive and causes more distrust in the vaccines. One commenter said she “would never go near somewhere targeting only black people for vaccines.” Others noted that white people in the targeted neighborhoods live in the same socioeconomic conditions.Clearly no ‘racialized’ person was consulted about this. This just feeds into the hesitancy and distrust plus creates unnecessary division. I am neither vaccine hesitant nor a big conspiracy theorist but would never go near somewhere targeting only black people for vaccines.— Keisha (@keishawd10) April 26, 2021Still other Twitter commenters saw the move as a bad precedent. “Will they be triaging ventilators the same way at the ICU?” entrepreneur Mina Bashta asked. “This is not a move in the right direction; rather, a very dangerous path to take. And I say that as immigrant myself.”Since when does our healthcare system increase or decrease our patients priority based on their skin color? Will they be triaging ventilators the same way at the ICU?This is not a move in the right direction,rather a very dangerous path to take & I say this as immigrant myself.— Mina Bashta (@Bashtanol) April 26, 2021Like this story? Share it with a friend!
The US Department of Justice is opening a sweeping investigation into policing in Louisville, Kentucky, over the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police during a raid at her home.The attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced the investigation on Monday. It was the second such announcement by the Biden administration in a week.Garland last week announced an investigation of the tactics of police in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd.Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, said: “America is at a crossroads with policing.”He portrayed the federal investigation as “an outstanding opportunity for us” to “get it right”.The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Derrick Johnson, also welcomed the announcement of the Louisville investigation.“The relationship between law enforcement and our community has been deeply fractured and shattered by the lack of trust and the little-to-no accountability enforced when police commit a crime,” he said.“For far too long, killings at the hands of police have only led to one hashtag after another. But true justice comes with accountability and action … No police officer or police department is above the law.”Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came through the door using a battering ram. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.The investigation announced on Monday is into the Louisville-Jefferson county metro government and the Louisville metro police department (LMPD). It is known as a “pattern or practice” investigation – examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington on Monday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/APIt will focus on whether the Louisville metro police department engages in a pattern of unreasonable force, including against people engaging in peaceful activities. It will also examine whether the police department conducts unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, Garland said.The investigation will look at the training officers receive, the system to hold officers accountable and “assess whether LMPD engages in discriminatory conduct on the basis of race”, among other things, he said.The attorney general has said there is not yet equal justice under the law and promised to bring a critical eye to racism and legal issues when he took the job. Few such investigations were opened during the Trump administration.The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in Floyd’s killing but no one has been charged in relation directly to Taylor’s, though her case also fueled protests against police brutality and systemic racism that last summer became part of the biggest civil rights uprising in the US since the 1960s.In Louisville on Monday afternoon, the mayor and a group of leaders held a press conference where they made strenuous efforts to paint a DoJ investigation as good news, with Fischer even going so far as to call it “exciting”.Erika Shields, the chief of the Louisville metro police department, admitted that recruitment of officers was suffering because of “self-inflicted wounds that have made our product unappealing”.She said that the city would be “pushing for more resources, more training, more tools other than lethal force to help our officers navigate the numerous situations they encounter day in and day out”.David James, the Louisville metro council president, indicated that there had to be some fundamental changes to police culture in the LMPD.“Our citizens want to have the best police department in the country, but I think there has to be some cultural change for that to happen,” he said.Taylor’s death prompted a national debate about the use of “no-knock” search warrants, which allow officers to enter a home without waiting and announcing their presence. The warrants are generally used in drug cases and other investigations where police believe a suspect might be likely to destroy evidence.Prosecutors will speak with community leaders, residents and police officials and will release a public report if a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct is discovered, Garland said. He noted that the department had implemented some changes after a settlement with Taylor’s family and said the investigation would take those into account.“It is clear that the public officials in Minneapolis and Louisville, including those in law enforcement, recognize the importance and urgency of our efforts,” Garland said.Kentucky lawmakers passed a partial ban on no-knock warrants last month. The measure would only allow them to be issued if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the “crime alleged is a crime that would qualify a person, if convicted, as a violent offender”. Warrants also would have to be executed between 6am and 10pm.