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00:02: Hawaii Governor Josh Green urges people who still have their homes to open them up.
00:07: We are going to need to house thousands of people.
00:10: How can the state help those fleeing the wildfires?
00:12: I'm Steve Innskeep with Sarah McKemmon, and this is up first from NPR News.
00:21: Should the Sankler family be able to use a bankruptcy settlement to shield themselves
00:26: from liability for oxycontin. The Supreme Court will try to answer.
00:30: It will be the decision that really sways whether these are even bankruptcy
00:35: deals on the first place. Also, Poland sends more troops to its border with
00:40: Belarus. Leaders in Warsaw are keeping an eye on mercenaries from Russia's
00:44: Wagner Group. What are the mercenaries doing there? Stay with us. We've got the
00:48: news you need to start your day.
00:57: The wildfires on the island of Maui are changing many people's lives.
01:00: Hawaii's governor says the fast-moving fires that have killed at least 55 people have also destroyed hundreds of homes.
01:08: We've been reporting this week on the fires that swept through a historic town and far beyond.
01:13: Residents have to go somewhere in both the short and longer term.
01:17: Hawaii Public Radio's Bill Dorman is following the story high bill.
01:21: Hi, Aloha, Sarah.
01:23: So how are authorities helping the people who fled the fires on it?
01:27: Short term, the focus is on sheltering those who need it
01:31: and trying to find the missing and connecting families.
01:34: Also, basic supplies from water to fuel are becoming an issue.
01:39: It's a story as we've been saying all week about the west side of Maui Island.
01:44: that's where people lost lives and where the most destruction is taken place.
01:47: You know, the word devastation is when you keep hearing and there's a profound sadness
01:53: with all of these losses, but especially the loss of life.
01:57: The governor says the burning of all these homes makes housing a priority.
02:02: We are going to need to house thousands of people.
02:05: It's our intent to initially seek 2,000 rooms so that we can get housing for people.
02:11: That will mean reaching out to all of our hotels and those in the community.
02:15: The governor asked people across the state that if you have space in your home,
02:19: if you have the capacity to take someone in from West Maui, please do.
02:23: The governor also spoke about President Biden issuing a federal disaster declaration for Hawaii.
02:28: A lot of that money is going to be targeted at housing. It's a critical need.
02:33: So are some people having to leave the island entirely?
02:36: Yes, those evacuations are continuing. Buses moving people from West Maui to the main
02:41: airport in Kahalui, which is in the more central part of the island. And then the flights from there,
02:47: whether those are tourists heading back to the continental United States or residents,
02:51: many of whom are coming to hold a lulu here on the island of Oahu. As for residents who remain,
02:56: Maui Mayor Richard Dixon talked about that today. I did want to also speak to the folks whose
03:01: homes were not damaged. And I know the question on your mind is when can I get back to my home?
03:07: Just as soon as we can try to provide the certainty that we have recovered those that have perished.
03:14: And that's for goal right now.
03:16: It's a grim goal, but as we move into Friday here in Hawaii, it's another painful day, and very difficult work is continuing.
03:23: Really, Grimm, is it possible that some people are still alive and stuck in the burning areas?
03:29: It's possible they could just be uncounted.
03:32: You know, teams are working on this, but it's very difficult.
03:35: Parts of West Maui are simply burned to the ground, especially in the town of LaHina.
03:39: Maui Police Chief John Pelleteer said we have a scar on the face of Maui that's going last a long time.
03:44: And while it might sound relatively simple, the question of how many people are missing is just inexcrustuating one.
03:52: Honestly, we don't know.
03:53: And here's the challenge.
03:54: There's no power.
03:57: There's no internet.
03:59: There's no radio coverage.
04:01: Our pack sets were having a hard time getting through on that.
04:06: This challenges of communication a big reason.
04:08: It's so difficult to nail down numbers, how many lives lost, how many buildings burned
04:12: to the ground, and clearly that's not the priority.
04:16: There are people to help needs to be met and the people who did not survive need to be treated with respect.
04:23: Bill Dorman with Hawaii Public Radio.
04:24: Thanks so much.
04:25: Thank you. [♪ INTRO MUSIC PLAYING [♪
04:42: That's the question at the center of a case involving
04:44: oxy-contin and its maker Perdue Farma and members of the
04:48: Sackler family who own that company.
04:51: The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked the
04:53: corporations, $6 billion bankruptcy agreement with its creditors.
04:59: The deal would have shielded the sackeders from lawsuits related to the opioid crisis.
05:04: Now the US Supreme Court agreed late yesterday to review that controversial agreement.
05:09: NPR's Addiction Correspondent Brian Mann has been following the story and joins us hype, Ryan.
05:13: Morning, Sarah.
05:15: This bankruptcy deal has been fought over in the courts for years now.
05:18: A lot of people fought it was settled.
05:20: Why is the Supreme Court intervening now?
05:22: Yeah, this bankruptcy deal was approved by a federal judge back in 2021, but it allowed
05:27: members of the Sackler family, even though they're not bankrupt, to pay a big chunk of
05:31: money in exchange for immunity from lawsuits.
05:34: The Justice Department appealed, and so now the Supreme Court's agreed to look at one really specific legal question.
05:40: Here's Lindsey Simon.
05:41: She's a bankruptcy law expert at Emory University.
05:44: It's not getting into the merits of whether the Sackler's deserve releases.
05:48: strictly this idea of does the bankruptcy code give the court, the bankruptcy court, the power
05:54: to confirm a plan like Purdue Farmers Plan that gives the saccharge releases?
06:00: Justices are going to hear arguments on this in December and until then Sarah, none of the
06:04: six billion dollars in this proposed settlement will be paid out to opioid victims or communities.
06:09: Right, so no victims will get settlements until then. How are people harmed by these drugs
06:13: responding to that? You know, the overwhelming majority of opioid victims, people who
06:17: suffered addiction or lost loved ones to oxycontin overdoses. They've backed this deal. If it's upheld,
06:24: they'll get $750 million in compensation, communities that sued Purdue Pharma also support it. They're
06:30: in line to receive billions. So really, the Justice Department is the last hold out here appealing
06:36: this. And in legal briefs, the DOJ argued that if the Sackler's get away with this, it will serve.
06:41: And I'm quoting here, it will serve as a roadmap for wealthy corporations and individuals to misuse the bankruptcy system.
06:48: And that's an important point.
06:49: I mean, we do know that this Supreme Court, of course, sets precedent.
06:52: What might this mean for other types of big bankruptcy cases?
06:56: Well, it could be huge.
06:57: What's happened over the last decade
06:58: is all kinds of wealthy companies and individuals accused of wrongdoing have done this.
07:03: They've used the power of bankruptcy court
07:05: to block lawsuits, to limit their liability
07:08: without ever having to actually file for bankruptcy.
07:11: Critics, including the DOJ and many legal experts say that's an effort to skirt accountability.
07:16: And Brian, other examples of this,
07:18: have other big companies done this before?
07:20: Yeah, absolutely.
07:21: We've been talking about the Sacklers and Prudu Farma,
07:23: but the Koch brothers who are also billionaires
07:26: used a bankruptcy maneuver in his bestest case,
07:29: Johnson and Johnson, one of the richest corporations in the US,
07:32: drew a lot of attention when they used bankruptcy
07:34: to try to block tens of thousands of lawsuits linked
07:37: to claims that it's Tauk baby powder caused ovarian cancer.
07:41: Lindsey Simon at Emory University says the Supreme Court is now going to settle once and
07:46: for all whether bankruptcy courts were meant to wield this kind of power.
07:50: It will be the decision that really sues whether these are even bankruptcy deals in the first place.
07:57: So this case is going to bring the sacculars and the opioid crisis before the Supreme
08:00: Court at a time when tens of thousands of people are still dying from overdoses every year,
08:05: but the outcome could affect a whole lot of bankruptcy cases ranging from product safety
08:09: lawsuits to environmental claims and even sexual assault cases.
08:13: Lots at stake there.
08:15: That's NPR's Brian Mann.
08:16: Thanks much, Brian.
08:17: Thank you, Sarah.
08:29: Tensions are rising between Poland and a Russian ally on its border, Belarus.
08:33: Leaders in Warsaw plan to send another 10,000 Polish troops to that border.
08:38: Poland is a NATO ally and a vital friend of neighboring Ukraine.
08:43: Supplies and weapons pass through Poland to support Ukraine's defense against Russia.
08:47: Now Polish officials think Russia could be sending trouble their way.
08:52: Fighters from Russia's Wagner Group are stationed in Belarus and Poland is worried they could destabilize NATO's eastern flank.
08:59: NPR's Rob Schmitz joins us now from Berlin to talk about it, Hyrob.
09:04: Morning, sir.
09:05: This seems like a dangerous military escalation in a region very close, of course, to Russia's war in Ukraine.
09:10: What's going on here?
09:11: Yeah, this latest flare-up began last month when Wagner's soldiers were relocated to Belarus.
09:17: Poland's government said Wagner might send its soldiers into Poland and neighboring Lithuania.
09:22: Then, a little over a week ago, Poland accused Belarus of violating its airspace by sending military helicopters across the border.
09:29: And now we've got this.
09:31: Poland has been deploying troops to the border for some time, hasn't it?
09:34: Yeah, that's right. This 250 mile border between Belarus and Poland has been tense for a couple of years.
09:40: In 2021, the government of Belarus began handing out visas to migrants from mostly the Middle East and Africa.
09:47: And soldiers and Belarus were assisting these migrants across the border into Poland,
09:52: as well as into neighboring Latvia and Lithuania. All of these are EU member states.
09:56: And that prompted Poland to mobilize troops and build a steel border fence.
10:01: This was all part of an effort by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to destabilize Europe.
10:06: It appears his efforts are ongoing.
10:09: Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said this week that he has had to quote,
10:15: �restrain vognor fighters who want to attack Poland.�
10:19: So the big question, Rob, I mean, based on your reporting, what can you say about the
10:22: likelihood of an escalation between Poland and Belarus?
10:26: Well, more troops certainly makes it likely.
10:29: I mean, when he announced this true build-up Polish defense minister, Marius Blacheck said Poland is preparing for different scenarios.
10:36: Here's what he said.
10:41: And Sarah, he's saying here that this true build-up is meant to scare away what he calls the aggressor or Belarus,
10:47: and to ensure that Belarus does not attack Poland.
10:50: It's worth noting here that the military of Belarus issued a warning to Poland this week telling Polish citizens
10:55: that they should stop their government from starting a new war.
10:59: So there's a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the border.
11:01: Is there any truth to that claim?
11:04: You know, well, this troop buildup comes two days after Poland's president kicked off the official election campaign for the ruling party,
11:11: which is up for re-election in mid-October.
11:14: And critics point out that while the threat from Belarus and Russia is very real,
11:18: the ruling right-wing party of Poland is going into an election here,
11:22: and it needs all the votes it can get.
11:24: and many observers say this party is not above pumping up threats like this border escalation to accomplish that.
11:31: So between the election season and Poland and efforts from Belarus and Russia to South
11:36: chaos in Poland, what's real and what's bluster has sort of become difficult to parse out.
11:41: But what is clear is that with more troops along this already fraud border, the potential for danger is going up.
11:48: That's NPR's Rob Schmitz joining us from Berlin.
11:50: Thank you Rob.
11:57: And that's up first for Friday, August 11th.
11:59: I'm Sarah McCammon.
12:00: And I'm Steve Innskipe.
12:01: Up first is produced by Monsey Karana, Claire Marashima and Lily Kiros.
12:05: Our editors are Kevin Drew, Amra Posich, Denise Rios, Allie Schweitzer, and Michael Sullivan.
12:11: Our director is Keiti Klein, who may be pointing at me any second now to tell me something to do.
12:16: Our technical director is Zach Coleman with engineering support from Stacey Abbott and our executive producer is Erica Aguilata.
12:22: Can I just say such an impressive team every time I come over here and hang out, I'm impressed
12:26: with what it takes to get this show on me.
12:28: And you're welcome anytime, by the way, come by, come by, come by, and stay.
12:32: And don't forget up first, airs on Saturday, two, Ayesha Roscoe and Scott Simon have the
12:36: news, so look for it wherever you get your podcasts.