An analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 30% of U.S. military veterans used some form of tobacco product between 2010 and 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The statistic implies that 70%–a solid majority—of U.S. veterans are not smokers. Among tobacco-using veterans, the CDC said, usage was higher among those without health insurance, and among those living in poverty. The data also revealed that during 2010, the Veterans Health Administration spent $2.7 billion on smoking-related ambulatory care, prescription drugs, hospitalization, and home health care.
FCC sets FOIA research fees
The Federal Communications Commission said its fee for copying a document will remain at 10¢ per page in 2018—the amount charged by most government agencies since the 1970s—and $5 for a computer disk. The fees can add up, though, depending on the number of hours needed to conduct research, and on who is doing the research. Research fees are scaled from $15.70 per hour if done by a GS-1 level employee, to $87.84 per hour if done by a GS-15 level employee.
Civil rights panel decries inequitable school funds
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said in a report—Public Education Funding Inequity in an Era of Increasing Concentration of Poverty and Resegregation—that inequities in public school funding are “pervasive,” “vast,” and “profoundly unequal.” “Vast funding inequities are a significant factor in rendering education available to public school students profoundly unequal,” the report said, adding “This reality of American schooling is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideal of public education as a means to equalize life opportunity, regardless of resident, race, economic status, or life circumstance.”
Gotham mobsters nabbed on racketeering charges
Five members of New York City’s Genovese crime family—Vincent Esposito, 50, Steven Arena, 60, Frank Giovinco, 50, Frank Cognetta, 42, and Vincent D’Acunto Jr., 49—were arrested on racketeering charges, including extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery, the Department of Justice said. According to the indictment, the mobsters extorted cash payments from an officer of a labor union by using threats of violence. Cognetta, also a labor union officer, was also charged with soliciting bribes and steering union benefit plans into investments in exchange for kickbacks.
Court upholds licensing of African-style hair braiders
In Missouri, a person who provides African-style hair braiding in return for payment of a fee must be licensed as a barber or cosmetologist. The state licensing requirement was upheld as constitutionally valid by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two hair braiders challenged the requirement on various grounds, but the Court held that Missouri had a right to impose educational and licensing requirements to protect consumers and ensure public health and safety.
Border agent sentenced for human smuggling
Sabas Salinas, 55, of Weslaco, Tex., was given a two-year prison sentence for using his position as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent to help a human smuggler transport an illegal alien into the U.S. Salinas agreed to perform a perfunctory inspection at the Progreso Port of Entry, and allow the alien’s entry. However, CBP said, other agents recognized the alien, Asiano Uresti-Segundo, 46, of Reynosa, Mexico, as a previously deported Mexican national.
Sinaloa drug cartel leader pleads guilty
Damaso Lopez-Serrano, 29, of Culiacan, Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal court to drug distribution and importation charges. Last July, Lopez-Serrano surrendered to law enforcement authorities at the Calexico West Port of Entry. The Department of Justice said that Lopez-Serrano’s plea concludes an investigation of a small-scale drug operation that began in San Diego County and spread into “a massive multi-national, multi-state probe” that resulted in scores of arrests and the seizures of 1,397 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2,214 kilograms of cocaine, 17.2 tons of marijuana, and $27.8 million in currency.