News Roundup 01/30/19

1.Death Toll Rises to 8 in Midwest and East Due to Arctic Cold

A deadly and historic cold snap has taken a hold of Chicago, and other parts of the East and Midwest, because of a cold snap that was caused by the polar vortex. On Wednesday, Chicago’s temperature dipped to 21 degrees below zero, with a wind chill that made it feel like 51 below. The temperature on Thursday has a chance to beat the city’s record set on this date back in 1985. According to the weather service, frostbite can set in within 5 minutes with temperatures this low. There were 2 crashes in Pennsylvania and 1 in New York on Wednesday due to the blinding snow falling in the East, which caused multiple injuries. Eight deaths are linked to the weather, one of which was a man freezing to death in a garage. The Governor of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, begged citizens to stay inside of their homes if it is possible.

Source: USA Today

2. Joshua Tree National Park Could Take Hundreds of Years to Recover From Vandalism

Mounds of human excrement and what park rangers call “toilet paper flowers” were found in Death Valley and strewn around the desert. Officials found around 24 miles of unsanctioned trails carved into the landscape by off-roading vehicles and some of Joshua Tree’s famous trees were trampled. When the government partially reopened, officials were finally able to take note of how much damage had been done to some of the nation’s National Parks while rangers. Park officials stated that the damage they found was not widespread, and clean up has already commenced. This clean up consists of getting rid of vandalism and taking care of facilities that were trashed. During the shutdown, Joshua Tree lost around $1.03 million in entrance fees. Joshua Trees only grow an inch to an inch and a half per year, which means it could take hundreds of years for the park to recover from all of the damage that was done.

Source: LA Times

3. Trump Blocked Pay Raises for 2 Million Workers, but the House Voted to Restore Them

The House passed a bill on Wednesday that would guarantee 2.6% cost of living increase for civilian workers in 2019. The workers should have gotten an automatic 2.1% increase in January, but President Trump decided to cancel it in December, only days after he shut down the government and put 800,000 workers on furlough. The furloughed employees are now at work again, and are still waiting for their 1st paycheck of the year. The decision to reopen the government for three weeks- without funding for the border wall did not include the raise. Because of this exclusion, around 2 million workers will not get their annual pay raise, including Border Patrol and Customs Enforcement agents. However, some members of Congress still believe that the government is able to get the raise to those employees. At this point, the bill has no Republican support, but GOP leaders in the Senate would be willing to give a 1.9% raise. The discussion about the raise might end up in the negotiations for the next government spending bill.

Source: Vox

4. OxyContin Maker Explored Expansion Into “Attractive” Anti-Addiction Market

Purdue Pharma executives spoke about how the connection between the sale and treatment of opioids are linked to addiction. Moreover, they discussed its horizons to include all of the pain and addiction spectrum. These discussions occurred in internal correspondence’s beginning in 2014. This information is included in a lawsuit brought against the company by the Massachusetts attorney general. The 274 page civil complaint makes allegations that 8 people within the Sackler family, directors of Purdue, and current and former executives caused the opioid epidemic because of illegal deceit. Parts of the redacted documents that have been released to the public stated that they impelled doctors to give higher doses of OxyContin, led attempts to misinform doctors about how addictive the product could be, and then said that misuse of the drug was the patient’s fault.

Source: Pro Publica

5. Mueller Claims Russians are Using His Discovery Materials in Disinformation Efforts

Federal prosecutors made a statement on Wednesday saying that Russians are using documents from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in an effort to bring doubt into the case investigating election interference from Moscow. Multiple people related to the special counsel’s case against Russian hackers stated they had stolen documents that Mueller gave to Concord Management. That evidence seemed to have been changed and dispersed in order to try and cast a shadow on the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the political system in America. Concord Management is a company owned by an oligarch known as President Putin’s “chef”, and is one of the three companies that the special counsel accused of being involved in helping the 2016 presidential campaign turn out a certain way. Thirteen additional Russian citizens were indicted and accused of being a part of the concerted effort.

Source: NBC News