Your Tuesday Briefing


A judge in Oklahoma ruled on Monday that Johnson & Johnson had intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, in the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the damage done by prescription painkillers.

Oklahoma had said it would need $17 billion to repair the damage done by the epidemic. About 6,000 Oklahomans have died from opioid overdoses since 2000, according to officials there.

Background: Oklahoma also sued two other drug manufacturers, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, but both settled without admitting wrongdoing. Johnson & Johnson’s drugs accounted for about 1 percent of opioid sales in the state.

What’s next: With more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending across the country, the ruling, which Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal, was closely watched. Settlement negotiations could quicken with two large groups of plaintiffs — one consolidated in federal court in Cleveland, and the other a coalition of states.

Losing China, the world’s most populous country, as a customer has been a major blow to U.S. agriculture. Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13 percent from 2018, and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau.

The Trump administration has responded with financial aid packages totaling $28 billion. But an increasing number of farmers say they are losing patience with the president’s approach and suggest it will not take much to lose their votes as well.

Quotable: “At some point we have to quit playing games and get back to the table and figure this out,” said Brian Thalmann, the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

Widespread fires in the world’s largest rainforest have drawn international outrage, but some locals are indignant at what they see as outsiders trying to decide how Brazilians should steward their land.

Farmers say they need fire and deforestation to maintain beef and soy exports, and that the damage done to the rainforest is modest.

Yesterday: Group of 7 leaders agreed on a $20 million aid package to help fight the fires. President Jair Bolsonaro said Brazil would not accept demands to “save the Amazon, as though we were a colony or no man’s land.”

Perspective: In an Op-Ed, a former Brazilian official argues that those who live in the Amazon must be given the means to both use and preserve their environment.


The Communist Party doesn’t officially exist in Hong Kong, but local pro-Beijing activists have mobilized for what the party calls a “life and death” struggle against pro-democracy demonstrations that are now in their 12th week.

The Central Liaison Office formally represents the Chinese government in Hong Kong and coordinates the activities of those who have rallied to the Communist Party’s side.

The party’s low profile reflects an effort to maintain the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong, a politically diverse city, returned from British control in 1997.

Another angle: Despite the protests, life in most of Hong Kong has proceeded with little disruption.

In the last U.S. presidential election, the idea of abolishing private health insurance was confined to the far left. Now it’s the central dividing line in the Democratic primary race.

Late-night comedy: Most shows are in reruns, so our column is on hiatus.

What we’re reading: This article from Nautilus. Melina Delkic of the briefings team calls it “a personal and a scientific look at how closely intertwined language is — particularly one’s first language — with the sense of self.”

And this week’s Social Q’s column offers advice on refusing a bribe from a friend’s mother.

The Egyptians used rice, jasmine and lupine; the ancient Greeks used olive oil; and some Native Americans used a type of pine needle.

We’ve had methods of preventing sun damage for thousands of years, but the modern concept of sunscreen began on a Swiss mountaintop.

After getting sunburned while climbing Piz Buin in 1938, a Swiss chemistry student set out to invent an effective sunscreen. Eight years later, Gletscher Crème (Glacier Cream) came to market, with what is thought to have been a Sun Protection Factor of 2.

A World War II airman mixed an early form of petroleum jelly with cocoa butter and coconut oil into a product that would eventually become Coppertone.

Should you leave home without it? The American Academy of Dermatology’s official position is that everyone should wear sunscreen to forestall skin cancer, but, a Times reporter recently wrote, dark-skinned people may have enough protection from melanin.


That’s it for this briefing. Do you love the Morning Briefing and want to help our journalists seek the truth? Support The New York Times for $1 a week.

See you next time.

— Chris


Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Remy Tumin, of the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach us at [email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the U.S.-China trade war.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Back talk (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times, wrote a cautionary note to the staff on Sunday, calling attention to a campaign led by President Trump’s allies intended to discredit journalists.