Author

Kurt Niland

5242 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

Tractor-Trailer Driver Arrested In Deadly California Collision

An allegedly intoxicated tractor-trailer driver who caused a deadly six-vehicle pileup in Orcutt, California, will face at least two criminal charges, investigating authorities say. On Feb. 7, Gilbert Pena, 56, was driving a tractor-trailer on Highway 135 southbound in Orcutt when his truck slammed into the back of a Nissan sedan, killing 60-year-old Orcutt resident Rickie Motley and his passenger, 24-year-old Solvang resident Jesse Donald Gluyas. The collision drove the Nissan into four other vehicles causing a pileup that injured two other people. The California Highway Patrol doesn’t know why Mr. Pena drove his tractor-trailer into the cars, but an ... Read More

Whistleblower Lawsuit Leads to $17 Million Recovery from Pentec Health

A whistleblower who filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against her former employer, Pentec Health Inc., has helped the U.S. government recover $17 million for Medicare and other federal health care programs. Jean Brasher filed the whistleblower lawsuit in October 2013 accusing Pennsylvania-based Penter Health Inc. of billing Medicare and other government programs for excessive amounts of its renal drug Proplete. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the whistleblower lawsuit alleged that Pentec also routinely waived patient copayments and deductible obligations to incentivize beneficiaries of the government programs to get Proplete prescriptions, even when more affordable options were available. Additionally, ... Read More

U.S. Traffic Deaths Exceed 40K for Third Consecutive Year

U.S. traffic deaths exceeded 40,000 in 2018, the third year in a row that the number of people killed in traffic accidents surpassed the 40k mark. Additionally, 4.5 million people were seriously injured last year in traffic crashes, a 1-percent rise over 2017’s figures, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Although data shows that traffic deaths have dipped slightly since 2016 (40,327 deaths) and 2017 (40,231 deaths), the estimated 40,000 people killed in 2018 is still 14 percent higher than four years ago. The spikes in traffic deaths were found in Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania ... Read More

Fracking Company Antero Pays $3.15M to Settle West Virginia Water Pollution Allegations

Antero Resources Corporation agreed to pay the U.S. government and state of West Virginia $3.15 million for violations of the Clean Water Act that allegedly polluted the environment in 32 locations across northern West Virginia. The settlement underscores some of the environmental hazards that the fracking industry is unleashing on public lands. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Antero illegally disposed of dredged and fill materials used in the fracking process into U.S. waters or near sites where the company had constructed well pads, compressor stations, impoundments, pipeline crossings, access roads, and other structures associated with its hydraulic fracturing ... Read More

U.S. Government Sues Lockheed Martin, Alleging Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Fraud

The notorious Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Southeastern Washington has been mired in fraud and corruption for decades, ever since the U.S. government started paying contractors billions of dollars to clean up and convert 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge. On Feb. 8, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has lodged a False Claims Act lawsuit against Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, alleging the company and its executives used a $232 million support contract for nuclear waste disposal to enrich themselves. According to federal prosecutors, Lockheed Martin engaged in a fraudulent kickback scheme by paying more than $1 million to ... Read More

Israeli Burn Care Device Treats Wound Without Physical Contact

Any burn injury survivor will tell you that the treatment of serious burns is an excruciating process, especially when it comes to dressing the wound – a procedure that usually must be repeated daily. But an Israeli nanotechnology company aims to provide more burn patients with needed relief with its new breakthrough medical device that treats burns without ever touching the patient. Nanomedic Technologies Ltd, based in the Tel Aviv area, says its SpinCare device spares patients the intense and traumatic pain of dressing changes by covering the burn with an advanced polymer solution that stays on the wound and ... Read More

Regulatory Rollbacks Put Profits Over Public Health, Environment

Coal, oil, gas and other big industrial polluters are poised to make billions of dollars in added profits due to the Trump Administration’s environmental and safety rollbacks, but an Associated Press analysis of government records reveals the price Americans will pay in lives lost and health. The AP looked at 11 major rules on the Trump Administration’s chopping block and calculated the cost those regulatory rollbacks would have in terms of environmental and human health, using the administration’s own estimates. The news agency found an alarming upswing in the number of premature deaths, air-pollution-induced illnesses, climate-warming emissions, and severe train ... Read More

Georgia Hospital Settles False Claims Act Suit, Agrees to Pay $5 Million

A North Georgia hospital will pay $5 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act by engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians. Union General Hospital of Blairsville, Georgia, fell under scrutiny when federal authorities detected suspicious activity surrounding the abnormally high quantities of opioid drugs and Xanax being prescribed in connection with the hospital. Investigations by the FBI and other federal agencies led to the arrest of Union General Hospital CEO John Michael Gowder and two physicians — Dr. David Gowder and Dr. James Heaton. The three men now face federal charges of illegally prescribing thousands ... Read More

Fiat Chrysler Recalling Dodge Ram Pickups for Steering, Brake Defects

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced two separate safety recalls affecting nearly 800,000 Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickup trucks in the U.S. One recall affects an estimated 573,876 Dodge Ram 2500s and Ram 3500s for a “potential steering-linkage issue” that could result in loss of steering control. According to Fiat Chrysler, an investigation of the trucks in the U.S. discovered a problem in the steering-linkage configuration that could cause the assembly to separate over time. The steering-linkage problem affects Dodge Ram 3500s manufactured between 2013 and 2017 and Dodge Ram 2500 pickups and 3500 chassis cabs made between 2014 and 2017. Fiat Chrysler is ... Read More

Chicken Products Recalled in Southern States For Allergy Risks

Federal authorities announced a recall of about 100,000 pounds of prepared chicken products sold in retail stores throughout the Southern states due to misbranding and undeclared allergens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service says that three chicken products made by VICS Acquisition of Harlingen, Texas, and sold under the “happi foodi” or “SE Grocers” brand names contain eggs that are not declared on the product labeling. The products included in the recall were made between Aug. 7 and Oct. 15, 2018, and sold in stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South ... Read More