Faulkner faces fraud charges
‘Frack Master’ Chris Faulkner, the CEO of Breitling Energy Corp. and a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN, Fox Business News and the BBC, was accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of orchestrating an $80 million oil and gas fraud. Among other things, the SEC claimed Faulkner created investment materials that contained false statements and omissions about his experience, and that he diverted at least $30 million of investor funds to personal use, including lavish meals and entertainment, international travel, cars, jewelry, and personal escorts.
Court asked to nullify Idaho ‘ag-gag’ law
A pair of consumer and animal advocacy organizations asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down an Idaho law that makes it illegal for a journalist to surreptitiously film or write about inhumane and unhealthy conditions on a livestock farm. Food & Water Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity said the law was struck down by a trial judge who determined it was an infringement of First Amendment speech and press rights. The State of Idaho is appealing the decision, seeking to uphold a law that the legislature approved as an accommodation to the state’s dairy farm industry.
Tourist drive closing was greased with money
A portion of the popular Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive was shut down during the height of last year’s autumn leaf display to allow Subaru to film a tv commercial. A permit was issued to the Tokyo-based automaker the day after it made a financial commitment to the National Park Service’s Centennial, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility claimed. Besides halting tourist traffic at 13 locations along the iconic drive, the NPS waived its ban on the use of drones to allow filming of scenic park vistas. Coincidentally, the Department of Interior included the Skyline Drive on its list of America’s best drives.
A breath of dead air for campaign reform
Federal campaign finance laws are front and center among candidates in the 2016 election, and much of their criticism is aimed at the Citizens United v. FEC and SpeechNow.org v. FEC decisions of the Supreme Court that gave birth to Super PACs. But the political talk just pays lip-service to the issue. In reality, the Congressional Research Service reveals, there is little or no interest in reforming campaign laws in the current Congress. Only a few inconsequential measures have advanced beyond introduction: one to terminate the presidential funding program; another to allow replacement of a campaign treasurer if a candidate dies; and, to prohibit the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring political disclosure from public corporations.
Detained children get a lawyer
A federal judge in Seattle ruled that children held in immigrant detention facilities have a right to legal representation at their deportation hearings. The ruling also elevates an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to class action status, sweeping all children under the age of 18 who are in immigration proceedings within its ambit. ACLU project director Ahilan Arulanantham said the ruling would apply to several thousand children, and “The Obama administration should stop defending its draconian practice of conducting deportation hearings against unrepresented children.”
Telemarketers warned on payment methods
The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to telemarketing businesses regarding three types of payment methods used by con artists and scammers are prohibited by a new amendment to the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The amendment makes it illegal for telemarketers to ask consumers to pay for goods or services using cash-to-cash money transfers such as MoneyGram or Western Union; or asking consumers to provide PIN numbers to access cash reload cards such as MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload or Reloadit; or to use unsigned checks to withdraw money directly from consumers’ bank accounts.
Trade dispute pits one Japanese company against another
The U.S. International Trade Commission opened a patent infringement investigation of magnetic data storage tapes and cartridges that are imported into the U.S. market. The FTC said its investigation was instigated by a complaint filed by Tokyo-based Fujifilm Corp. that accused Tokyo-based Sony Corp. of unlawful trade practices.
Cracking the egg slave trade
Aroldo Castillo-Serrano, 33, and Ana Pedro-Juan, 22, were sentenced to 15-year and 10-year prison sentences, respectively, for luring eight minors and two adults from Guatemala and forcing them to work on an egg farm in Ohio, the Department of Justice said. The victims, as young as 14 years of age, were promised they would have good jobs and a chance to attend school in the U.S. However, they were smuggled and transported to a dilapidated trailer park in Marion, Ohio, and forced to work at Trillium Farms for 12 hours a day for wages that were paid to their captors.
Court urged to let ex-criminals vote in Virginia
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law urged Virginia’s highest court to validate Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order that restores voting rights to more than 200,000 ex-felons. Since McAuliffe’s order was announced two months ago, an estimated 5,800 ex-felons have registered to cast votes in the 2016 general election, the Lawyers Committee said in a friend-of-the-court brief. McAuliffe’s detractors claim the order is intended to create support for Democratic candidates, but the Lawyers Committee said the order will “facilitate their successful reintegration back into our nation’s civil life.”
Illegal alien owes life to surveillance
A 48-year-old Mexican man was rescued from drowning while attempting to swim across the All-American Canal which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border near Calexico, Calif. Border agents were able to reach him in time and pull him from the water because his ill-fated attempt to enter the U.S. unfolded beneath the watchful eye of the Remote Video Surveillance System. Agents observed the man struggle and splash wildly, and they responded quickly and arrived in time to pull the man to safety, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
Down on the farm: Hogs and pigs are busy makin’ bacon
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that the country’s population of hogs and pigs grew to 68.4 million by June 1, up 1% from March 1. Of the total, 62.4 million were market-bound hogs and 5.98 million were being kept for breeding purposes. Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states with 20.6 million head, followed by North Carolina (8.9 million) and Minnesota (8.0 million).
Rip ‘N’ Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and other national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.