How a “blue slip” sinks a judicial nominee
The Congressional Research Service issued a “frequently asked questions” paper about a Senate practice that is not supported by law or resolution, and only rarely receives public attention. It is the “blue slip” that senators use to veto or accept a president’s choice for a federal court position. The custom dates back to the late 1910s, CRS said, when a nominee’s homestate senators were asked to complete a form (printed on blue paper) to indicate their approval or disapproval to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. The practice is still followed to this day and gives homestate senators veto power over a president’s nominees for the federal bench.
Road deaths climbed in 2016
Last year, 37,461 persons were killed in road crashes, a 5.6% increase over the previous year’s death toll of 32,539, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. In 2016, NHTSA said, nationwide seat belt use rose to 90.1%, its highest compliance level ever. Yet, 10,428 of last year’s fatal crash victims—or nearly 28.0% of the total—died without wearing seat belts, an increase of 4.6% from 2015.
Post office seeks mail increase
The U.S. Postal Service will begin collecting 50¢ for a first-class postage stamp starting on January 21, pending approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. Also, the 1¢ per stamp increase will also apply to metered letters (now 46¢) and postcards (now 34¢). The rate request also seeks a 5¢ increase for flat rate boxes (now $7.15 for small, $13.60 for medium, and $18.85 for large) and regular flat rate envelopes (now $6.65 for regular, $6.95 for legal, and $7.20 for padded).
FDA approves implantable device for sleep apnea
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an implantable device for treating patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. The device, called The Remedē System and manufactured by Respicardia Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn., monitors a patient’s breathing while asleep and stimulates a breathing-related nerve breathing slows or stops. The device, which operates much like a heart pacemaker that monitors a patient’s heartbeat and sends a stimulating impulse when a heartbeat slows or stops, is surgically implanted in the patient’s upper chest area.
HUD sues landlord for denying tenant’s service dog
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges that accuse the owner of the Westview Park Apartments in West St. Paul, Minn., of violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow an Army veteran to keep an emotional support animal. Reportedly, the apartment owner responded to the veteran’s request by suggesting he trade his dog for a cat that would presumably be allowed under a policy that allows pets weighing less than 12 pounds.
Hurricanes blamed for September job loss
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 33,000 jobs were lost in September. They were literally swept out to sea in the backwash of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Despite the poor showing, BLS said the national unemployment rate declined to 4.2%, down from the previous month’s 4.4% jobless rate. Among major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.9%) and blacks (7.0%) declined while the rate was little changed for adult women (3.9%), teenagers (12.9%), whites (3.7%), Asians (3.7%) and Hispanics (5.1%).
California endangers itself with “sanctuary state” law
Gov. Jerry Brown’s enactment of a “sanctuary state” statute puts California at risk by hindering the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. “ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests … ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California,” ICE acting director Tom Homan said.
DOJ unseals complaints against three terrorists
The Department of Justice unsealed complaints related to last year’s arrests of three ISIS supporters who plotted a multi-pronged terrorist attack in New York City, including bombings of Times Square and the New York City subway system, and shooting civilians at concerts. One of the terrorists, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 19, a Canadian citizen, was arrested by FBI agents and is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to the charges. His co-conspirators—Talha Haroon, 19, a U.S. citizen who resides in Pakistan, and Russell Salic, 37, a Philippine citizen—have been arrested overseas and are awaiting extradition to the U.S.
New York Democrat boss faces federal charges
A federal grand jury indicted New York Democratic boss Steven Pigeon, who formerly was chairman of the Erie County (Buffalo) party, on charges that he bribed New York Supreme Court Judge John Michalek with box seats at sports events and tickets to expensive political fundraising dinners in exchange for appointing Pigeon’s clients to receiverships, the Department of Justice said. The charges are similar to indictments brought last year against Pigeon and Michalek by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
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, October 6