Hello, this is Danielle Jalowiecka with the BBC News.
The United States says it has reached a deal with Germany under which Berlin pledges to respond to any attempt by Russia to use the almost finished Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline as a weapon in eastern Europe. Our North America correspondent David Willis has more. Built at a cost of around 11 billion dollars, it circumvents Ukraine which is at war with Russia to the east, and threatens to deprive Ukraine of around 2 billion dollars in annual transit payments. Mistrust of Russia has led the US to view the pipeline as a potential threat to the European energy supply. But the Biden administration has now agreed to waive sanctions on those building the project in the interest of closer ties with its chief European ally Germany. In return, Germany has agreed to impose sanctions on Russia if it uses Nord Stream 2 to commit further acts of aggression against Ukraine.
Prosecutors from several U.S. states have unveiled a sweeping proposed settlement under which four pharmaceutical companies accused of fueling the country's opioid epidemic would pay compensation of up to 26 billion dollars. The proposals intended to resolve thousands of claims across the U.S. It determines that the drug manufacture Johnson & Johnson and 3 pharma distributors would pay the claim and finance treatment programs. North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein gave more details. "The 26 billion dollar agreement would bring desperately needed resources home to each of our states, an estimated 750 million here in North Carolina, to help people straggling with opioid use disorder, find home, freedom from addiction and happiness. The distributors must prohibit the shipping of suspicious orders, report them to regulators, and terminate offending pharmacies, all subject to the review of an independent monitor."
The disgraced former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to 11 new charges of rape and sexual assault involving 5 women at a preliminary hearing in California. Mr. Weinstein appeared in his wheelchair in the Los Angeles court after being extradited from New York, where he is already serving a 23-year sentence for similar offenses. If found guilty, the 69-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison. Mark Werksman is Mr. Weinstein's lawyer. "We welcome an opportunity to address these charges in court. They are baseless. They are from long long ago. They are uncorroborated. And we do expect that after a trial on this matter, if we have a fair trial in this case, then Mr. Weinstein will be acquitted of these charges."
The most senior U.S. general has acknowledged that the Taliban have strategic momentum in Afghanistan, and now control half of the district in the country. But General Mark Milley insisted that a takeover by the Taliban was not a foregone conclusion.
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