Amtrak’s fiscal 2017 performance was stellar with record revenues, ridership

Amtrak’s fiscal 2017 performance was stellar with record revenues, ridership

Illinois Central "City of New Orleans" pulls into station at Kankakee, Ill., before traveling a route that "passes towns that have no names, and the graveyards of rusted automobiles."--Steve Goodman.

Amtrak ended 2017 with record-smashing results
By all performance metrics and revenue tabulations, fiscal year 2017 was a record-smashing year for Amtrak. The quasi-government passenger railroad corporation posted $3.2 billion in total revenues, a 1.1% increase over the previous year; carried 31.7 million passengers, 1.5% more than the previous year; and earned $194 million in operating profits, 15.7% more than fiscal 2016. The railroad’s Northeast Corridor, which runs trains from Washington, D.C., to Boston, carried 12 million riders, its highest ridership year ever.

EPA buys time for “waters of the U.S.” rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed an amendment to the 2015 “Waters of the United States” regulation that would delay its effective date by two years to give the government time to reconsider the rule’s definition. WOTUS has been a target of derision by critics who claim the rule is so broadly defined that it could be applicable to rainwater puddles.

115th Congress is among grayest in recent history
A Congressional Research Service statistical profile of the 115th Congress reveals the average age of its 435 Representatives is 57.8 years and its 100 Senators is 61.8 years. For House members, it is the oldest average age in recent memory. Its oldest member is 87-year-old Michigan Democrat John Conyers and its youngest is 32-year-old New York Republican Elise Stefanik. The oldest senator is 83-year-old California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and the youngest is 39-year-old Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton.

U.S. population of single fathers grew last year
The percentage of children living with a single father grew from 12.5% to 16.1% between 2016 and 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau said. In 2017, the bureau added, 83.9% of children living with one parent lived with mothers, compared to 86.0% in 2012 and 87.5% in 2007. In 2017, nearly 20 million children under age 18 lived in single-parent households, while 53.8 million lived in two-parent households. The bureau said 49% of single mothers have never been married and 43% of single fathers are divorced.

Child sex traffickers charged with witness tampering
Bruce Davis, 25, of Shreveport, La., and Brandon Austin, 31, of Fort Worth, Tex., are facing charges stemming from their attempts to threaten witnesses who provided information to prosecutors, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. Davis and Austin were among eight members of a child sex trafficking ring who were arrested after Fort Worth police found a website ad containing photographs of a minor female and advertising commercial sex acts.

Gang leader sentenced for murders
Michael Hopson, 39, of Newport News, Va., was sentenced to serve two concurrent life sentences plus 25 years in prison for crimes that included murder, robbery, witness tampering, and narcotics distribution. Hopson, in addition to being a member of a violent street gang known as Black P-Stones, was employed as a security guard at a high school where he met and recruited students for the gang. According to the Department of Justice, Hopson also sold narcotics to high school students while on duty as the school’s resource officer.

Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables
In an announcement that was obviously celebrated by fruit and vegetable industry lobbyists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an overwhelming majority of Americans aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. Federal guidelines recommend that adults eat 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. But, in 2015, just 9% of adults met the vegetable guideline and 12% met the fruit guideline.

CMS proposes rule to reduce drug costs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed a rule that will ensure more affordable prescription drugs for senior citizens as well as expanded drug coverage at their preferred pharmacies. CMS, barred by federal law from negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, proposed to lower drug costs by allowing quicker changes to drug formularies when new generic drugs become available.

Tracking the elusive non-addictive opioid
Researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have discovered a method for separating the pain relief and disruptive breathing effects of opioid drugs, thus creating a potential pathway for pain medications that do not carry a risk of respiratory failure. The laboratory mice studies suggest that opioids affect pain and breathing in fundamentally different ways; and, it led researchers to develop drugs that can provide pain relief without affecting breathing.

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 Thursday, November 16

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