Trade deal: Chinese chicken for U.S. beef?
U.S. trade and agriculture officials celebrated China’s decision to lift its 13-year ban on the importation of American beef products, but their pronouncements did not mention whether the action required a quid pro quo. A press release from Food & Water Watch revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised a regulation so that processed poultry products can be shipped from China into the U.S. market. In the past, U.S. officials said the ban on Chinese chicken importation was due to substandard food inspection systems in China.
Disability scammer exposed U.S. to $550 million payout
David Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., pleaded guilty to charges that, while working as an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration, he participated in a scheme that fraudulently approved a lifetime of disability benefits to more than 3,000 claimants. The Department of Justice said the U.S. government would have paid out more than $550 million during the lifetime of the beneficiaries. DOJ said a disability lawyer paid Daugherty for decisions that favored the lawyer’s clients.
Shrimper caught cashing in on oil spill fund
Victor Tran, 50, of Port Arthur, Tex., was ordered by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to return $1,034,228 that he collected from the BP Deepwater Horizon claims fund. Tran claimed his business, Crystal Seafood Inc., a shrimp harvesting and distribution company, was damaged by the 2010 oil spill. But Tran’s shrimp operation went out of business in 2009 and thus couldn’t have been affected by the oil spill. According to news reports, Trans filed the claim while in prison for defrauding the Small Business Administration by submitting phony damage claims caused by 2005’s Hurricane Rita.
FTC slams brakes on bogus tech support
The Federal Trade Commission took action against a half dozen companies and their affiliates for selling bogus computer diagnostic services by misleading consumers about the condition of their computers. The six accused companies, which followed the same pattern of misconduct, caused pop-up screens to appear on consumers’ computers that warned about virus attacks, and gave a phone number for a series of “diagnostic tests” which led them to a sales agent.
FCC escalates dispute with television station
The Federal Communications Commission imposed a $144,344 fine against the operators of a low-power television station in Morehead, Ky., that has operated without a license since 1998. According to reports, station owners Vearl Pennington and Michael Williamson believe a 1952 law that waives license renewal filing requirements “during war or emergency periods” has been in effect since President George W. Bush signed a proclamation several days after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
USDA’s next top scientist might not be a scientist
The Union of Concerned Scientists launched a pre-emptive strike against Sam Clovis, expected to become President Trump’s nominee to become the USDA’s top scientist. Clovis, of Hinton, Iowa, is a conservative radio talk host who unsuccessfully opposed Sen. Joni Ernst in the 2014 Republican primary election. USC program director Ricardo Salvador said “the chief scientist position should be held by someone who understands and respects the role of science at the USDA.”
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 Friday, May 12