West Virginia hops on medical marijuana train
West Virginia became the 29th state to enact legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana, thus jumping onto a train that is hurtling toward a head-on collision with federal law enforcement authorities. The Marijuana Policy Project noted that six states have adopted medical marijuana laws in the past year. Pointedly, three of the states—Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota—voted for Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election; and, the legislatures of the other three states—Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia—are controlled by Republicans.
Georgia voter registration law faces legal challenge
A Georgia voter registration law that could have an impact on the June 20 runoff election to select a successor to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) came under legal challenge from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The suit, filed in a federal district court in Georgia, cites a National Voter Registration Act provision that allows any person to vote if registered at least 30 days prior to a federal election. However, in Georgia, only persons who were registered no later than March 20 to vote in the April 18 special election will be eligible to vote in the June 20 runoff election.
Increased pill consumption linked to Obamacare
A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found evidence that the number of prescriptions filled by adults with Medicaid benefits increased 19% in states that used the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to expand their Medicaid programs. According to the study, the largest increases were for medications used to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, and for birth control.
Recalled: 55 tons of chicken nuggets
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said that Conagra Brands Inc. has recalled 110,817 pounds of frozen chicken nugget meals because the brownie dessert may be contaminated with Salmonella. The product, sold under the Banquet brand name as Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese, was distributed to retail locations nationwide.
FISA court was busy in 2016
Last year, the U.S. intelligence agencies submitted 1,752 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret tribunal that approves or denies permission to conduct surveillance under the USA FREEDOM Act. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the FISA court approved 1,378 applications as submitted, another 339 applications were approved with modifications, 26 applications were partly denied, and 9 applications were denied in their entirety.
Ocwen KO’d by federal and state regulators
Ocwen Financial Corp., of West Palm Beach, Fla., among the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage loan service providers, was hit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the bank regulators of 20 states. CFPB filed a lawsuit that accused Ocwen of “failing borrowers at every stage of the mortgage servicing process” and compiling a record strewn with “errors, shortcuts and runarounds” that caused some borrowers to lose money and others to lose their homes. State regulators, led by the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, issued a cease-and-desist order that hampers Ocwen’s ability to remain in business.
Strike force demolishes Mexican drug gang
A strike force led by the Drug Enforcement Administration ended a year-long investigation by arresting 10 of 17 members of a Mexican drug gang that smuggled cocaine and methamphetamine into California and transported it to a distribution site in Colorado. DEA identified four of the arrestees as naturalized U.S. citizens. DEA said the gang sold narcotics through the El Rancho Market in Aurora, Colo., which has a money transfer station that was used to send money back to Mexico.
Straw donor pleads guilty
Adam H. Victor, 64, of New York City, pleaded guilty to violating the federal election law when he reimbursed family members for contributions made in 2011 to two federal candidates. The Department of Justice didn’t identify the recipients of Victor’s funds, but Federal Election Commission records show he and another family member contributed to West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s re-re-election campaign, and to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Victor is president of Transgas Development Systems LLC which announced plans in 2008 to build a $4 billion coal-to-gasoline plant in Mingo County, W.Va.
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, April 19