May 19, 2015
Maryland part of FTC complaint against charity fraud
Maryland is joining a Federal Trade Commission complaint against four cancer charities that are accused of misusing $187 million nationwide raised by deceptive fundraising practices. Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh made the announcement Tuesday. The FTC is investigating Cancer Fund of America Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc., The Breast Cancer Society Inc. and Cancer Support Services. The four charities allegedly spent about 86 percent of contributions on paying professional fundraisers and their own salaries. They also allegedly spent the money on lavish cars, trips, cruises and sporting events. Hogan is calling the case “one of the most heinous charity scams in Maryland history.” The money was raised between 2008 and 2012.
Maryland Reports 21 Percent Increase in Fatal Overdoses
Maryland’s health department says the state had a 21 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses in 2014, compared to the previous year. The report released Tuesday says 1,039 people died from overdoses in 2014. That’s a 60 percent increase since 2010. About 86 percent of the deaths involved opioids, which include heroin and prescription drugs. The health department says large increases in deaths involving heroin and fentanyl were responsible for the overall increase in opioid-related deaths. The number of fentanyl-related deaths more than tripled between 2013 and 2014, from 58 in 2013 to 185 in 2014. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic that can kill by inhibiting breathing.
Virginia State Police: Plane wreckage found; at least two dead
Police say at least two people died when a small airplane crashed into a mountain in southwest Virginia State Police Lt. Ed Murphy said Tuesday that there are conflicting reports on whether there were two or three people on the plane. Nobody survived.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Beechcraft BE-55 was flying about seven miles northeast of Tazewell County Airport in Richlands when air traffic controllers lost contact with it Monday. Murphy said it appears the pilot was trying to avoid an isolated storm when the plane crashed. It took rescuers 2½ hours to reach the heavily wooded crash site on Flat Top Mountain by foot Tuesday.
Appeals court in Va. Rules against NAACP in trademark case
A federal appeals court says an advocacy group did not violate the NAACP’s trademark by calling it the “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.” The unanimous ruling Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for the Radiance Foundation, which addresses social issues of interest to the black community from a Christian perspective. The court ruled that the organization’s satirical headline on a website article criticizing the NAACP is protected by the First Amendment. The decision reverses U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson’s ruling in favor of the nation’s leading civil rights organization. The NAACP is officially neutral on abortion, but the Radiance Foundation claimed that the civil rights organization is aligned with Planned Parenthood and its position on the issue.
D.C. region remains fittest in the nation
A new report names the D.C. region the fittest of the 50 biggest metropolitan areas in the country, based on a combination of health and lifestyle factors, for the second year in a row. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation released the 2015 American Fitness Index data Tuesday. It’s an annual ranking of the fifty largest metropolitan areas of the country, using data from a wide range of sources — from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to the Trust for Public Land. The Washington area is followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Diego. Indianapolis, Indiana, sits at the bottom of the list. “It’s a very comprehensive index,” says Walter Thompson, the Georgia State University professor who was the lead author of the annual fitness survey, which is sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation. “The Washington, D.C. area ranks No. 1 on our list for community and economic indicators,” he says.
Design competition to open for World War I Memorial in DC
A federal commission working to build a World War I Memorial in Washington plans to open a design competition for the project this week. The World War I Centennial Commission is planning an international, two-stage competition open to any professional, university student or interested participant. The group will open its competition Thursday, with submissions due July 21. Finalists will be named in August, and a winning design will be named in January. In December, Congress passed a law rededicating Washington’s Pershing Park along Pennsylvania Avenue as a World War I Memorial. The law calls for enhancing the site to honor U.S. service members. That could include sculptural elements and a landscape design. The National Park Service is opening an environmental assessment to begin planning for the memorial.
Chris Harrison says sex is safe on ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelorette’
Fans of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are always curious about whether sex actually occurs in the fantasy suite. Well, we know now that if it does, the room is equipped for safe sex. So says the host of the popular reality franchise, Chris Harrison, who told HuffPo live that the show makes sure that contestants have everything they need to protect themselves. “Believe me, there’s sex going on in the fantasy suite,” he said. “(It’s) always safe, yes. Anything you need to have safe sex, we definitely promote that.” The latest season of “The Bachelorette” started Monday night on ABC, with a new twist: Kaitlyn and Britt are the ladies in question, and the men competing for love will vote on which woman will continue the season.
GI Film Festival: Cinematic salute to the troops
Call it “Sundance for the Troops” or the “Full Metal Film Fest.” But there’s only one G.I. Film Festival, which returns this week for its ninth year.The event runs May 18-24 with the majority of events at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Last year, the headlining film, “Fort Bliss,” brought Michelle Monaghan to the red carpet and launched director Claudia Myers as one of the Top 10 Filmmakers to Watch by Independent Magazine. “That film has gone on to receive distribution, it’s available on Video On Demand, downloads, just a lot of great things have been happening with that film,” Festival Director Laura Law-Millett says. “So we’re excited to have been part of its launch.” “That was actually the first film at the festival ever to receive a perfect score from our film critics and jury for a feature film,” Festival President Brandon Millett adds.