Campus speech patrol draws an outcry
A University of Arizona plan to create “social justice advocate” jobs on its campus has been decried as a veiled attempt to punish students and faculty who views don’t coincide with the school’s speech policies, and the Goldwater Institute fired off a public records request for documents related to the position’s creation. Earlier this year, the Institute proposed legislation to nullify existing speech codes at all of the state’s universities.
“Non-partisan” group takes party boss on board
The Economic Policy Institute, a tax-exempt organization that is forbidden by tax law from engaging in substantial lobbying activity or intervening in an election, added former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to its board of directors. An EPI press release failed to acknowledge that Perez is the current chairman of the Democratic National Committee. EPI, whose board is peppered with labor union and Democratic party officials, describes itself as a “non-partisan think tank.”
Reverse mortgage lender hit with $89 million fine
Financial Freedom, a “reverse mortgage” lender headquartered in Austin, Tex., was fined $89 million for violations of the False Claims Act and the 1989 Financial Institution Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), the Department of Justice said. According to charges brought by a whistleblower, the company failed to meet Federal Housing Administration deadlines that prevent the unnecessary loss of government funds and resources.
Airline passenger “bumping” is commonplace
A quarterly report of commercial airline performance from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reveals that “bumping,” the practice of denying seats to confirmed passengers when a flight’s seats are oversold, is more common than thought. The practice drew an outcry last month when a passenger was dragged off of a United Airlines plane because he refused to vacate his seat. During the first quarter of 2017, a total of 111,851 passengers were “bumped” from their seats on a dozen airlines. Most of the bumped passengers voluntarily stepped aside for compensation, the report said. (See Page 33).
Baltimore firm faces religious discrimination charges
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit that accuses XPO Last Mile Inc., a Baltimore company that delivers furniture and equipment, of violating federal law when it fired an employee who refused to work on a religious holiday. The suit was filed on behalf of Tzvi McCloud who was employed by the firm until he refused to work last October 3 because it was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday. EEOC said in the suit that McCloud’s firing was prohibited by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
Mexican drug smuggler uses makeshift ramp to enter U.S.
Border patrol agents at El Centro, Calif., seized nearly 980 pounds of marijuana found stuffed inside a vehicle that entered the U.S. by using a makeshift ramp to drive over a vehicle barricade. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said agents assigned to a remote video surveillance system observed the vehicle enter the U.S.
Student borrowers fall deeper in debt
Despite federal programs that give student borrowers a chance to get out of debt, an analysis of the student loan industry shows that about 90% of the highest-risk borrowers were not enrolled in a federal affordable repayment plan, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a report. CFPB laid blame on the student loan industry which is responsible for informing borrowers about their repayment options.
Annual “click it or ticket” campaign set to start
Law enforcement agencies across the nation are making preparations for the annual two-week campaign, called “Click It or Ticket,” to increase compliance with mandatory seat belt use laws. While this year’s campaign is targeted to all drivers, it focuses extra attention to males aged 18 to 34 who are far less likely to wear seat belts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
Home equity, IRAs are key assets for most families
Research from the non-partisan Employee Benefit Research Institute indicates that home equity and savings accounts such as 401(k) and IRA plans account for nearly all assets—along with Social Security and pension plans—that most families will use when they retire. According to EBRI, 50.4% of families with a working head aged 25 to 34 have a retirement account, and 71.4% with a head aged 55 to 64 have a retirement account.
Advocacy groups seek to nullify Trump’s 2-for-1 rule
Three advocacy groups led by Public Citizen urged a federal judge in the District of Columbia to strike down President Trump’s executive order that requires federal agencies to repeal two existing regulations as a condition for approving a new regulation. “The order will block, weaken or delay regulations authorized by Congress to protect health, safety and the environment, across a broad range of topics—from automobile safety, to occupational health, to air pollution, to endangered species,” the groups told the court.
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, May 16