Some Drivers Have Been Railroaded by Faulty DUI Testing With Unreliable or Poorly Maintained Devices

Fallible tests: The machines used to test drivers at roadsides for blood alcohol content are often miscalibrated, poorly maintained, and generally unreliable, according to an extensive investigation by The New York Times’ Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. More than 30,000 breath tests have been thrown out by judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey over the past 12 months. Other machines have been found to be programmed with faulty and error-prone code, with some returning inaccurate results on nearly every test. The fallibility of the technology risks unfairly punishing safe drivers, and in the case of the breath tests that have been thrown out, letting truly dangerous drivers off the hook.

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Camping with Amazon: An advisory group to the Interior Department wants to open national parks to food trucks and allow Amazon deliveries to campgrounds to make the parks more appealing to young Americans, Louis Sahagun writes for the Los Angeles Times. The “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee must have missed the memo that visitor numbers to national parks exceeded 300 million in 2018 for the fourth consecutive year, and that overcrowding is the pressing problem in the most popular parks. The committee’s proposals call for “categorical permissions” to skip environmental impact reviews for campground expansion and development, Sahagun reports. “The corporate interests on this committee stand to financially benefit from the privatization and corporate giveaways they are empowered to make,” Nicole Gentile, deputy director of public lands at the Center for American Progress, told the Times. “And they are strategically inflating the Park Service’s maintenance backlog to use it as a talking point to scare the public into accepting privatization as necessary in our national parks.”

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Guns in schools: The group Friends of the NRA has been holding gun auctions in schools to raise money for the NRA Foundation, Beth Reinhard and Neena Satija report for The Washington Post. The decision to hold some of these fundraisers in schools, when there have been at least 180 school shootings in the U.S. over the past decade, is insensitive at best, “obscene” at worst, said one mother whose son attends a school that has hosted one of the NRA auctions. What’s more, in Kentucky, where that school is located, it’s a felony to take firearms on to school property, but exceptions can be granted for “gun and knife shows.”

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Sleeping hazards: A new Consumer Reports investigation found at least 12 infant deaths linked to in-bed sleepers between 2012 and 2018, including the DockATot and Snuggle Nest. In-bed sleepers are used by many new parents who want to keep their babies close to them at night. These deaths are in addition to the dozens that have been connected to inclined sleepers, like the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper, as Consumer Reports first reported in April. More than 73 deaths have been linked to the dangerous devices, and Consumer Reports CEO Marta Tellado has urged the immediate recall of all inclined sleepers still on the market. Although in-bed sleepers do not have the same design flaw as inclined sleepers–which put sleeping babies on a slope and can cause their heads to slump, leading to suffocation–they are not regulated by federal safety standards and can put babies at risk. Padding on in-bed sleepers can cause suffocation if a baby’s face comes into contact with it, Rachel Rabkin Peachman writes.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned parents against using inclined sleepers, and said babies should sleep on firm, flat surfaces. The agency has proposed a new rule that would outlaw inclined sleepers with angles greater than 10 degrees, but it’s expected to take at least several months to finalize, Todd C. Frankel reports for The Washington Post.  The American Academy of Pediatrics had warned for several years that inclined sleepers were dangerous.

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Everyone’s wrong but us: The Trump administration, which had long signaled its intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change, has formally told the United Nations that will do so, leaving representatives of nearly 200 counties to decide how to move forward without the world’s biggest economy, The New York Times reports. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 election, the move could be reversed.  Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times, more than 400 leaders of U.S. cities have pledged to meet the Paris climate goals.

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Damning docs: Last week Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, appeared for back-to-back congressional hearings to address concerns that the company knew that there were safety risks associated with a new automated system in the 737 Max and pressed forward with production anyway, The New York Times reports. Lawmakers confronted the businessman with newly released emails and other documents that show employees expressed concerns that the new plane could be “vulnerable” and that system failures could be “catastrophic.” Important takeaways from the hearings, according to NPR’s David Schaper, included that the design relied on a single sensor, with no backup, in case a sensor failure caused a nosedive; and that the company persuaded the FAA to omit the new system from training and flight manuals even though pilots might not know how to respond if it malfunctioned. Following the hearings, the union that represents 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants released a letter to Muilenburg that expressed their concerns over “serious breakdowns in the supervision of the 737 Max.” and stated: “Our workforce should not and will not come to work afraid for their safety.”

  • Also: Qantas and Southwest Airlines are grounding some older Boeing jets after structural cracks were found on the “pickle fork,” which connects the wings to the fuselage, Reuters reports. United, American and Delta have checked their planes for cracks. Representatives told CNBC that they haven’t found any problems.

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Serious shortage: A severe shortage of immune globulin is forcing doctors, hospitals, and treatment centers to ration and cut dosages, Holly Rosenkrantz reports for The Washington Post. The “miraculous” medicine helps shore up patients’ immune systems and is used to treat a number of medical conditions, including seizures, leukemia, auto­immune diseases, organ transplants, acute muscle illnesses and nerve disorders. Now, some patients are arguing that there should be a hierarchy on who gets access to the drug, based on greatest need.

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An industry divided: Several major automakers, including General Motors, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, have publicly sided with the Trump administration in the legal and  political showdown with California over emission standards, splitting the industry, according to The Washington Post. Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times report that top aides in the Trump administration and Justice Department officials had been pressuring car companies to support the administration’s position that California cannot set its own auto emission standards, and that companies might be complying out of fear of retaliation in the form of tariffs or other penalties against the industry.  Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America have sided with California.

  • Also: Without admitting liability, Toyota since 2014 has quietly settled 537 lawsuits that blamed “sudden acceleration” on crashes that caused injuries or deaths, Amy Martyn reports for FairWarning.
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