Author

Kurt Niland

4453 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.

Vehicles With Soy-Based Wiring May Attract Hungry Rodents

As the weather turns cooler, some car owners are finding that their Honda and Toyota vehicles have become a bed and breakfast for mice and other rodents, thanks to the use of soy-based wiring. Rodent damage in the electrical systems of Honda and Toyota vehicles containing soy-based wiring – wires with an environmentally friendly soy-based outer coating, that is – is not a new problem, but it is a persistent one. Some owners of vehicles with the specially coated wiring say it attracts rodents to nest in their vehicles and feed on the soy wiring. Lisa Barrett told Raleigh-Durham’s WRAL ... Read More

Lithium Batteries Blamed For Two Michigan House Fires

Lithium batteries are blamed for two devastating house fires in Macomb Township, Michigan in recent days. Authorities investigating an Oct. 21 fire that destroyed a 100-year-old farmhouse in Macomb Township and killed two dogs believe that a lithium battery charging a weed trimmer may have caused the tragic fire. According to The Macomb Daily, Steve and Doniece Langdon and their three sons were not at home at the time the fire broke out, but their two dogs were inside the home. Both pets reportedly died of smoke inhalation. “The fire department was trying so hard to give CPR to Rusty, ... Read More

Keystone Pipeline Spills 210,000 Gallons of Oil in South Dakota

TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline spilled about 210,000 gallons of oil Thursday, Nov. 16 in northeastern South Dakota, just days before regulators decide whether to allow another extension of the pipeline – the Keystone XL – to move forward. Brian Walsh, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told CNN that Thursday’s oil spill was the largest to date in the state. The oil spill occurred about three miles northeast of Amherst, South Dakota. “It is a below-ground pipeline but some oil has surfaced above ground to the grass,” Mr. Walsh told CNN. “It will be a few ... Read More

Whistleblowers Help U.S Recover $75 Million From Hospice Chain

Three whistleblower lawsuits have led to a recovery of $75 million from Vitas Hospice Services LLC, the nation’s largest for-profit hospice chain, and its parent company Chemed Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio. An agreement announced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Oct. 30 resolves three lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on behalf of the U.S. in cases of suspected fraud targeting federal agencies and programs. The whistleblower lawsuits alleged that Vitas and Chemed knowingly submitted claims to Medicare and caused the submission of claims to Medicare for hospice ... Read More

CPSC Issues Another LayZ Board Hoverboard Warning, Multiple Recalls

A second house fire caused by a LayZ Board hoverboard has triggered another warning from federal authorities urging consumers to stop using that brand of self-balancing mobile device immediately. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued its latest warning about LayZ Board hoverboards Tuesday, Nov. 14, along with seven safety recalls for other hoverboards, all of which contain rechargeable lithium batteries that pose the threat of overheating, exploding, and starting fires. The CPSC issued its first warning about fire and explosion risks posed by LayZ Board hoverboards on May 1, after one of the hoverboards started a fire in ... Read More

Whistleblower Contract Fraud Allegations Return $3 Million To U.S.

Two New York contractors and their owners agreed to pay more than $3 million to settle whistleblower allegations that they violated the wrongfully acquired government contracts reserved for service-disabled veterans for which they were not qualified. The settlement resolves allegations brought by an individual under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA), which authorizes private parties to file suit on behalf of the federal government in cases of suspected fraud. According to the whistleblower complaint, Zoladz Construction Company Inc, Alliance Contracting LLC, and owners John Zoladz and David Lyons obtained the veteran-reserved contracts by creating a sham company ... Read More

Wells Fargo Pays Additional $5.4 Million For Illegally Repossessing Servicemembers’ Vehicles

Servicemembers who had their vehicles unlawfully repossessed by Wells Fargo Bank now have access to an additional $5.4 million in relief, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The funds come as part of a 2016 settlement that resolved a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Wells Fargo, alleging the bank violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The initial settlement provided about $4.7 million to about 410 servicemembers. The additional compensation provides an additional $5.4 million to be paid to about 450 servicemembers. The U.S. sued Wells Fargo, doing business as Wells Fargo Dealer Services, in Sept. 2016, accusing the ... Read More

Floor Collapse at UNT Area Apartment Injures Party-goers

Structural engineers are looking at the design and construction of a student housing apartment complex near the University of North Texas (UNT) after the floor of a third-story apartment collapsed under the weight of a party early Sunday morning. Police in Denton, Texas, home of UNT, said the collapse occurred about 2 a.m. Sunday at The Ridges, an off-campus, student-only apartment complex. Authorities said there were at least 30 people in the third-story apartment for a party following a UNT victory at its homecoming game against University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Firefighters called to the scene were prepared for ... Read More

Jury Finds New Orleans Woman Guilty of Medicare Fraud

A federal jury found a New Orleans woman guilty of cheating Medicare out of millions of dollars through a scheme of paying and receiving illegal kickbacks and billing the health care program for power wheelchairs and other medical equipment. After a three-day trial, Sandra Parkman, 61, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, two counts of health care fraud, and five counts of accepting kickbacks, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Federal prosecutors alleged that Ms. Parkman and her boss Tracy Richardson Brown, who is also ... Read More

Exploding Lithium Battery Triggers Evacuation of Orlando Airport

An exploding lithium battery inside a camera bag sent people at Orlando International Airport into a panic Friday and prompted the evacuation of the main terminal building. The noises the lithium battery made as it overheated and exploded were mistaken by many in the airport for a bomb or other terrorist incident, according to various reports. News of a shootout at the airport circulated on social media immediately following the blast. No injuries were reported. According to WKMG ClickOrlando, the lithium battery explosion occurred around 5 p.m. at the security checkpoint at the entrance to gates 1-59. “As a result ... Read More