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Maine Department of Health and Human Services Settles Whistleblower Suit with Former Employee

Maine Dept of HHS Settles Suit with Former Employee

Maine Dept of HHS Settles Suit with Former Employee


A former employee of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will receive $142,500 from the department to settle a federal whistleblower suit.

The former division director for the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) sued DHHS and her bosses at the CDC, alleging that she was harassed and retaliated against for refusing to shred public documents. The DHHS released the settlement agreement last Friday, according to the Sun Journal (SJ). More Maine Department of Health and Human Services Settles Whistleblower Suit with Former Employee

Train Derails, Erupts into Fireball in West Virginia

Train Derails, Erupts into Fireball in West Virginia


Train Derails, Erupts into Fireball in West Virginia


A fireball erupted from a derailed CSX Corp train hauling North Dakota crude in West Virginia on Monday, lighting train cars on fire, destroying a house, and forcing the evacuation of two towns.

Initial reports claimed that at least one of the tank cars had fallen into the river, but CSX said Tuesday that that was not the case. Amazingly, no deaths were reported; however, one person was treated for potential fume inhalation. As of Tuesday, the train was still on fire and leaking oil, according to Reuters. More Train Derails, Erupts into Fireball in West Virginia

Southwest Airlines to pay Mechanic $35,000 to Settle Whistleblower Lawsuit

Southwest Air to pay Mechanic $35,000 to Settle Lawsuit

Southwest Air to pay Mechanic $35,000 to Settle Lawsuit


Southwest Airlines has settled a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a mechanic who alleged that he was disciplined for finding and reporting two cracks in the fuselage of a Boeing 737-700.

The mechanic alleged he faced disciplinary action after he found the cracks during a routine inspection of the aircraft. The whistleblower alleges he was called into a meeting with his supervisors to “discuss the issue of working outside the scope of his assigned task.” He claims the airline issued him a “Letter of Instruction” saying he had acted outside the scope of work in his task card. In the letter, the mechanic was warned that he could face disciplinary actions if he violated his job tasks again, according to Forbes.com. More Southwest Airlines to pay Mechanic $35,000 to Settle Whistleblower Lawsuit

Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey Pushes for a ban on Powdered Caffeine

A Pennsylvania senator said Monday that he wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban powdered caffeine, a strong and potentially dangerous stimulant.

Senator Robert Casey said he has written a letter to the head of the FDA about his concerns over the powerful stimulant. Teens and young adults are increasingly using the supplement to work out, lose weight, and stay up late to study. At least two deaths have been linked to powdered caffeine, which is easy to purchase. One teaspoon of the substance is the equivalent to 25 cups of coffee, according to CBS Philly. More Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey Pushes for a ban on Powdered Caffeine

DeflateGate’s Effects Impact Legal Gambling and the Economy

The National Football League (NFL) has initiated a probe into the New England Patriots following allegations that the team intentionally used overly deflated footballs in their recent drubbing against the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game, according to an NFL spokesman. The Patriots 45-7 win is bringing them to this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR in Indianapolis, Indiana broke the “DeflateGate” story noting that the referee removed a ball from play, weighing the ball during an oddly placed mid-game delay during New England’s first drive of the second half. Ultimately, the referee swapped the ball out.

Should the probe confirm the allegations that the balls were intentionally deflated to gain an advantage, the Patriots stand a chance of losing draft picks, Kravitz noted. This is not the first time the Patriots have been involved in game scandals. In 2008, the Patriots received a large fine and were docked a first-round draft pick for their involvement in so-called “SpyGate.” Other allegations of ball deflating have been made in the past. In 2012, at the college level, a student manager with the University of Southern California (USC) was dismissed following allegations he deflated balls during a contest.

Under the NFL’s rules, footballs must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Both teams provide 12 primary balls each for testing prior to play. The referee tests the 24 balls two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff.

The intentional deflation of footballs is not unknown and when a football is overly deflated, the player’s grip on the ball is greatly improved and the ball becomes easier to hold, catch, and throw, all of which assist the offense. This is noteworthy given that teams use their own balls on offense.

At issue with DeflateGate is the scandal’s effect on legal sports betting, such as on the Internet and in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clearly, the scandal extends well beyond the game, potentially impacting legal, sanctioned betting operations as well as on the economy in the form of lost jobs, revenue, and taxes.

According to LegalBettingOnline, sports betting is the predicting of “sports results while placing a wager on the outcome according to an agreed upon set of rules or laws.” Wagers may be made against another bettor, a “house,” a “bookie,” or another entity. Legal forms of online sports betting may vary from state to state and by country, with Internet betting having become a multi-million-dollar industry. Sports betting is the most popular form of legalized online betting. In the United States, sports gambling is not permitted on the federal level, with Nevada among the few states that permit such betting. In fact, the American Gaming Association (AGA) notes that only Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana permit any form of sports betting. Most of the legal sports betting, however, occurs in Las Vegas. Although Nevada only permits bets verifiable in the box score, online and offshore betting does not have the same restrictions.

The Department of Justice indicates that individual states may “determine their own destiny regarding online gambling”; however, “sports betting seems to be the exception to this rule.” In the U.S., the only legal option for online sportsbook wagering is through legally licensed and regulated online sportsbooks, which are located offshore and “operated under the regulatory oversight of a governing jurisdiction which has already legalized online sports betting for their territory, legally allowing them to offer their services to bettors around the world, including those in the United States.”

In 2014, legal bettors spent $119.4 million on wagers, according to The Week, as well as so-called “prop bets.” This year, gamblers will likely pick from more than 500 various “prop bets,” such as what the opening coin toss will be or which team will score first. Props may involve statistical research, historical analysis, and expectations of market behavior. One may expect that these prop bets might now involve Deflate-Gate. For example, how many times during a broadcast will deflated footballs be mentioned?

The first-ever estimates released by the AGA in January 2015 revealed that, while Americans make $100 million in legal bets on the Super Bowl annually, $3.8 billion in illegal bets are made. CitizenLink notes that about 86 percent of Americans have gambled at least once during their lives.

Montana Oil Spill Raises Concerns About the Age and Safety of the Nation’s Pipelines

A large oil spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River has experts worried about the infrequency of inspections on the nation’s aging pipelines.

The 40,000-gallon spill is the second large spill along the river in four years.  Downstream water supplies to the city of Glendive have been contaminated, and residents rushed to stock up on bottled water after elevated levels of benzene were found in water samples taken from a treatment plant that serves about 6,000 in the agricultural community, according to the Associated Press (AP). More Montana Oil Spill Raises Concerns About the Age and Safety of the Nation’s Pipelines

Researchers Definitively Link Fracking to Spate of Earthquakes in Ohio

Researchers Definitively Link Fracking to Ohio Earthquakes

Researchers Definitively Link Fracking to Ohio Earthquakes


Scientists have proven that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the cause of a spate of earthquakes in Ohio in 2014.

A new study published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America has confirmed the worst fears of many Ohio residents: fracking in Poland Township is at the root of 77 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 1.0 to 3.0 between March 4 and March 12 in 2014. According to the study, viewed by EcoWatch.com, the earthquakes “coincided temporally and spatially with hydraulic fracturing at specific stages of the stimulation. The seismic activity outlined a roughly vertical, east-west oriented fault within one kilometer of the well.” The scientists reached their conclusions by comparing the Ohio earthquakes to well stimulation reports. More Researchers Definitively Link Fracking to Spate of Earthquakes in Ohio

Mother of Inmate who Died After 21-Hour Restraint Settles Lawsuit Against Southwest Missouri Jail Employees

Mother of Inmate who Died After 21-Hr Restraint Settles

Mother of Inmate who Died After 21-Hr Restraint Settles

The mother of a man who died in a southwest Missouri jail after spending several hours in a restraint chair has settled her lawsuit against Jasper County and other defendants.

Jane Brown of Joplin, Missouri, alleged in the lawsuit that her son, 43-year-old Richard Watson, was strapped into a restraint chair for at least 21 hours without proper food, water or medication. Watson died eight days after he was arrested for an alleged violation of a protection order taken out against him by his stepfather. Jail officials were unable to resuscitate Watson, who had mental and physical health issues, after he was found unresponsive and not breathing. Brown’s lawsuit alleged the chair’s manufacturer advises that no one be left in the restraints for more than two hours, according to the Associated Press (AP). More Mother of Inmate who Died After 21-Hour Restraint Settles Lawsuit Against Southwest Missouri Jail Employees

Reauthorizing the James Zadroga Act Would Allow Treatment and Research to Continue for 9/11 Survivors

The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 but Ground Zero volunteers and first responders will struggle with injuries and health problems for many years to come.

That is why a bipartisan group of lawmakers from across the United States banded together in September to insist that the WTC Health Program and September 11th VCF be expanded for another 25 years by introducing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate by senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen and Jeff Merkley and in the House of Representatives by representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King. More Reauthorizing the James Zadroga Act Would Allow Treatment and Research to Continue for 9/11 Survivors

Most U.S. Supreme Court Justices Side with Fired Air Marshall who says he is Protected Under Whistleblower Law

The fate of an ex-air marshal who claims he was trying to protect the public from a potential terrorist attack is in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

Robert J. MacLean says he received a briefing in 2003 concerning a terrorist threat affecting long-distance flights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) contacted MacLean two days later informing him that the agency was canceling assignments requiring an overnight stay in an effort to cut costs. Fearing the move could put public safety at risk, MacLean complained to his superiors. When his concerns went ignored, he contacted a reporter for MSNBC. The resulting media attention quickly led to a reversal of the travel policy, according to The New York Times (Times.) More Most U.S. Supreme Court Justices Side with Fired Air Marshall who says he is Protected Under Whistleblower Law