Princess Cruise Lines fined $40 million for oil dumping
A newly hired engineer on the Caribbean Princess, part of the 18-vessel fleet of cruise ships operated by Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. of Santa Clarita, Calif., watched an oily waste pour from the boat into ocean waters while off the coast of England. The employee reported it to British maritime authorities who forwarded the information to the U.S. Coast Guard where investigators found the same practice on four other Princess vessels. The Department of Justice said the cruise operator was fined $40 million, with $1 million to be rewarded to the whistleblower employee.
Drug overdose deaths in the U.S.
A statistical table from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the 50 states by their total number of drug overdose deaths, and the rate of drug deaths based on each states’ population. Nebraska had the lowest drug overdose death rate, 6.9 per 100,000 residents, while West Virginia, with 41.5 deaths per 100,000, had the highest. West Virginia was followed by New Hampshire (34.3), Kentucky and Ohio (both 29.9), and Rhode Island (28.2). Following Nebraska at the low end were South Dakota (8.4), North Dakota (8.6), Texas (9.4) and Iowa (10.3).
Government deals $485 million to combat drug addiction
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services distributed grants totaling $485 million to help all 50 states and the U.S. territories wage combat against opioid addiction. In 2015, opioids were blamed for more than 33,000 deaths nationwide. HHS Secretary Tom Price said the funds will be used by the states to support “a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.” The grants were based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment in each of the states.
Bankruptcy filings remain on decline
The total number of businesses and individuals who have filed petitions seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors has declined in each of the last five years, going from 1,174,324 in 2013 to 794,492 in the 12-month period that ended on March 31, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said. A press release from the Administrative Office did not attempt to explain why bankruptcies have been on the decline, but an improving economy and the law of diminishing returns may have played a role.
Iraq’s excellent shopping adventure
The Republic of Iraq is seeking approval to buy $295.6 million worth of military equipment—everything from rifles and helmets to radio systems and binoculars—to fully outfit two Peshmerga infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions for its war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. All of the equipment is manufactured in the U.S. by defense contractors such as AM General, Oshkosh Defense, Navistar Defense, Harris Radio and Colt Corp.
Court halts phony telemarketing scheme
A federal judge in Sacramento, Calif., ordered an asset freeze for a telemarketing company that sold worthless English language teaching materials to Spanish-speaking consumers throughout the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission said. The firm, with offices in Moreno Valley, Calif., and Miami, Fla., used a telemarketing call center in Peru for making calls that promoted sales of materials worth much less than the $199 to $799 that was charged. Also, the FTC said the telemarketers at ABC Hispana Inc. pretended they were affiliated with the government.
The changing nature of young adulthood
A report from the U.S. Census Bureau enumerates key differences among young adults in 1976 and their modern counterparts, and notes significant changes that have occurred over the last four decades. For example, most of today’s young adults believe educational and economic accomplishments are extremely important; but that marriage and parenthood is not very important in order to become an adult. The proof? In the 1970s, 80% married by age 30; today, 80% marry by age 45.
Failed chimney implosion leads to guilty plea
Timothy Phifer, 54, of Pell City, Ala., pleaded guilty to violating record-keeping and storage requirements for explosives, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said. Phifer was hired to destroy a 100-year-old brick smokestack at a local factory, but the structure remained standing when an implosion failed to ignite properly. ATF said Phifer then used an excavator to tip over the smokestack; but, instead of collapsing harmlessly, it landed on the excavator, leaving a stunned but uninjured Phifer to emerge from the rubble to face an ATF investigation of the incident.
Koreans dump ferrovanadium in U.S.
The U.S. International Trade Commission determined that Korea has unlawfully subsidized shipments of ferrovanadium, an additive that increases the strength and durability of steel, sold in the U.S.; and, that the less-than-fair-value sales have been injurious to U.S. vanadium producers. The USITC’s action was spurred by a complaint filed last year by vanadium suppliers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Arkansas. The USITC said foreign suppliers sold $50.7 million worth of vanadium in the U.S. in 2015, and $15.6 million—almost 31%–came from Korea.
Identity thieves invade DHS hotline
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General warned that identity thieves are using “spoofing” tactics to trick consumers into believing they are receiving telephone calls from a Hotline operated by the DHS OIG. Scam perpetrators alter their caller ID information and represent themselves as U.S. immigration officers, and use various tactics to demand personal information from their victims. DHS OIG said the agency never uses its Hotline for outgoing calls.
ISIS terror supporter pleads guilty in Ohio
Terrence McNeil, 24, of Akron, Ohio, pleaded guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison for soliciting murderous attacks against U.S. military members by reposting a list of their names and addresses which originated on an ISIS-supported webpage, the Department of Justice said. According to DOJ, McNeil expressed support on social media for the radical Islamic terrorism cult known as ISIS, and reposted ISIS “kill lists” several times in late 2015 that urged others to seek out and kill U.S. servicemen and women.
National parks make contribution to U.S. economy
While the nation’s 417 National Park Service attractions enjoyed a record-setting 331 million visitors last year, they also made a $34.9 billion contribution to the U.S. economy, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said during a tour of California parks. Visitor spending at the parks supported 318,000 jobs and provided $12.0 billion in labor income, $19.9 billion in value-added, and $34.9 billion in economic output. Lodging at national parks generated $5.7 billion and 56,000 jobs, and restaurants and bars generated $3.7 billion and 71,000 jobs.
Police found guilty of misconduct at Mormon sect’s towns
A federal judge found that local police in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, which are adjacent to each other where they straddle the Arizona-Utah stateline, engaged in a decades-long pattern of police misconduct, the Department of Justice said. The towns are primarily populated by members of a faction of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints whose prophet, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for aggravated sexual assault of a minor. Many LDS members living in Colorado City and Hildale practice polygamy.
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 Tuesday, April 18