NTSB accuses sister agency of lax enforcement
A sleep-deprived motorcoach driver was directly responsible for a California highway crash that killed four and injured more than a dozen other passengers. But, in a rare departure from bureaucratic deference, the National Transportation Safety Board said its sister-agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, was partially responsible because it has failed to keep unsafe trucks and buses off American highways. The FMCSA’s own records showed that Autobuses Coordinados, the bus operator, failed eight of 29 federal inspections in just two years. NTSB called on the FMCSA to upgrade its motor carrier safety rating system to identify hazardous operators.
Russian TV registers as foreign agent
T&R Productions LLC, the U.S. operating unit of Russia-owned RT (Russia Today) Network, complied with a Department of Justice order to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. T&R disclosed that it has operated studios, hired and paid all U.S.-based RT employees, and has produced English-language programming since mid-2014. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the filing “could set a troubling precedent,” and noted only three other foreign media companies are registered under FARA: the American arm of the South Korean state-funded Korean Broadcasting System, KBS America Inc.; the Chinese state-funded China Daily; and, the Japanese Radio and TV’s NHK Cosmomedia. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said Russian legislators are considering retaliatory action to force registration by media groups such as Voice of America and CNN.
Found on the streets of Laredo: $1 million in marijuana
In three incidents that occurred on two days in Laredo, Tex., Border Patrol agents seized large quantities of marijuana that were abandoned by smugglers. Altogether, 1,266 pounds worth $1 million was seized near the Rio Grande River, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. The largest seizure came in response to a report of suspicious activity, and several men loading bundles into a pick-up truck ran back to Mexico before agents arrived. The pick-up truck was reported stolen from San Antonio, Tex.
Hate crime in U.S.: 2016
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says 7,321 hate crimes were committed in the U.S. during 2016. The tabulation includes 4,720 hate crimes against persons, 2,519 hate crimes against property, and 82 hate crimes against society. Of 5,770 known offenders, 46.3% were white and 26.1% were black, and race was not known for 18.1%.
More truck and bus drivers are buckling up
A survey which observed nearly 40,000 truck and bus drivers at more than 1,000 roadside sites across the nation found that 86% of the drivers used safety belts. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it was a record high level, compared to just 65% usage in 2007.
Obese moms beget fat babies
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health say obesity during pregnancy may account for a higher risk of giving birth to a large baby. A condition known as macrosomia—that is, large body size at birth—is common among babies born to obese women, particularly those who have gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy). The researchers said earlier studies indicate that large babies born of obese women may be predisposed to obesity and cardiovascular disease later in life.
FTC accepting Western Union scam-related claims
Consumers who were bilked by scammers who used Western Union’s money transfer system may be able to get some of their money back. The Federal Trade Commission brought charges against Western Union, alleging the company ignored hundreds of thousands of complaints and failed to take disciplinary action against agents who looked the other way, and accepted $586 million to resolve the allegations. Now, the FTC is accepting claims from consumers about fraud-induced payments they made for phony lotteries and prizes, family emergencies, advance-fee loans, online dating and other scams.
Animal blessings bring a lawsuit
American Atheists asked a federal judge to declare that an animal blessing ritual at a county-run animal shelter violated the First Amendment’s “establishment of religion” clause. The suit claims that a ceremony conducted by a Catholic priest at the Bergen County (N.J.) Animal Shelter violated the constitution and may have been superfluous. “I thought it was well-settled that all dogs already go to heaven,” AA president David Silverman mused.
College crusades against student speech
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education accused administrators of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of violating the privately-run school’s policy of treating students as “citizens of the nation at-large.” Despite its policy, FIRE said administrators have brought disciplinary action against students who participated in a peaceful demonstration at a black-tie fundraiser and spoke to local newspaper and television reporters about their dispute. Because it is a private school, the First Amendment doesn’t apply. However, FIRE noted that the a commitment to freedom of expression is required to maintain the school’s accreditation.
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 Monday, November 13