Big tobacco lures kids with flavors
A report from five anti-smoking organizations accuses the tobacco industry of using candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products to expose a new generation of smokers to the risk of nicotine addiction. The report—co-authored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association—said e-cigarettes are now available in more than 7,700 flavors, and that sales of flavored cigars have increased by nearly 50% since 2008.
New Mexico rescinds convention call
The New Mexico Legislature rescinded its 1979 call for a constitutional convention to draft a balanced budget amendment. Common Cause said lawmakers realized a convention might be seized by special interest groups bent on rewriting the Constitution for their own political or economic advantage. A constitutional convention was held in 1789 to revise the Articles of Confederation, but it instead scrapped the document and replaced it with the U.S. Constitution.
FOIA suit seeks Clinton-Lynch meeting documents
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that asks a federal judge to order the Department of Justice to release any documents that might be related to last summer’s meeting at the Phoenix airport between ex-President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Clinton and Lynch described the meeting as a random encounter and that the two talked about their grandchildren and golf. JW President Tom Fitton said the meeting “is a vivid example of why many Americans believe the Obama administration’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton was rigged.”
Navy fraud and bribery scandal expands
A Navy admiral and eight other officers were added to the expanding list of defendants in an expanding scandal that has thus far enveloped 25 participants who allegedly colluded with Glenn Defense Marine Asia to steer ship maintenance business in exchange for cash, travel, prostitutes and lavish meals, the Department of Justice said. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, 48, of San Diego, Calif., and eight high-ranking officers were accused of taking bribes and providing information that enabled the Singapore-based contractor to enrich itself.
Special visa window opens April 3
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it will begin accepting petitions for H-1B visas on April 3, and laid down some strict rules for companies that apply to secure the visas for foreign workers with highly specialized knowledge. Congress set a 65,000 limit on the number of H-1B visas that can be approved during a fiscal year, and an extra 20,000 visas are available for workers holding advanced degrees in science and engineering from a U.S. university. USCIS said any application received prior to April 3 will be rejected. In past years, the H-1B quota has been filled in a matter of a few days.
Judge shutters adulterated milk powder plant
A federal judge in Virginia ordered the condemnation and closing of Valley Milk Products LLC, of Strasburg, Va., for manufacturing milk powder products that were adulterated by Salmonella, the Department of Justice said. The action followed inspections by the Food and Drug Administration. A DOJ press release referred to “dripping brown fluids” and “old product residue” that might have been reminiscent of muckraker Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the book that led Congress to approve the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act which today reposes in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Russian spies and their cybercrime game
A federal grand jury in California indicted two Russian spies and two of their collaborators for hacking into Yahoo’s computer network and stealing information from at least 500 million email accounts. The Department of Justice said the spies used the information to hack into the email accounts of Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials, employees of a Russian cybersecurity company, and employees of financial, transportation and other companies. In a statement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said Yahoo and Google cooperated with DOJ’s investigation.
Trump’s “skinny” budget: $10 a copy
A year ago, President Obama’s proposed 2017 budget went on sale at the Government Printing Office for $38 a copy, but the details were contained in a companion volume that sold separately for $79. Today (March 16), the Government Publishing Office and the Office of Management and Budget will distribute President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget. The complete document can be downloaded at no cost from GPO’s website (www.govinfo.gov), or it can be purchased for $10 per copy. It has been described as a “skinny” budget because it will be thin on details.
BLM lease expands Utah coal extraction industry
The Bureau of Land Management announced that a $22.8 million bid from Canyon Fuel Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Bowie Resource Partners LLC, won the January 4 auction for the right to extract coal from an underground coal seam in central Utah’s Greens Hollow tract. The 6,175 acre tract is estimated to contain 55 million tons of recoverable, high-energy-producing coal.
Consumer prices held steady in February
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the Consumer Price Index edged up just 0.1% in February, capping off a 2.7% increase over the last 12 months. BLS said a small decline in gasoline prices was offset by increases in food costs and other segments of the energy category. The energy index increased 15.2% over the last year, while the food index was unchanged.
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 national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Wednesday, March 15