Thursday, 30 July 2015
The bureau rescued 600 children last year
In the age of Apple's CarPlay, a lot of cars on the road still have tape decks.
The average vehicle in the U.S. is now a record 11.5 years old, according to consulting firm IHS Automotive, a sign of the increased reliability of today's vehicles and the lingering impact of the sharp drop in new car sales during the recession.
Drivers behind the wheel of older cars aren't enjoying some of the latest advanced safety features or infotainment systems that effectively turn cars into cellphones on wheels. Then again, they don't have to worry about hackers finding their way in to the car's computer network through the cassette or CD player.
IHS said U.S. registrations grew to a record 257.9 million cars and trucks this year, up 2 percent from a year earlier.
The average age of vehicles has been climbing steadily since IHS began tracking the number in 2002. As quality and reliability have improved, people have been holding on to their cars and trucks for longer. The average length of ownership for a new vehicle is now almost 6.5 years, IHS said. For a used vehicle, it's five years.
Cars and trucks now have the same average age, says Mark Seng, IHS Automotive's global aftermarket practice leader. For many years, cars had shorter lifespans than trucks, but their quality has now caught up.
Experts say there's no rule for how long to hold on to an old car or truck. A car with good reliability can go for 200,000 miles or more, which can easily last a decade for some motorists, says Doug Love, a spokesman for Consumer Reports.
The magazine doesn't recommend driving older cars without two key safety features introduced more than a decade ago: electronic stability control and side curtain air bags.
The aging car population could mean that Americans will be slow to adapt safety and semi-autonomous features that have car company executives and experts heralding a new age of the automobile. Adaptive cruise control arrived in the U.S. market in 2006, for example, but nine years later only 6 percent of all cars have it, according to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group. It will also take longer for much-hyped advances like CarPlay - which gives drivers access to their apps through the dashboard - to become commonplace.
But Seng says the auto industry should take heart. Even though the average vehicle age shows no sign of reversing, it is starting to plateau, since buyers have returned to the car market in big numbers. Sales of new cars rose from 12.7 million in 2011 to 16.5 million last year and are expected to reach or exceed 17 million this year. IHS thinks the average vehicle age will hit 11.6 years in 2016 but won't climb to 11.7 years until 2018.
Monday, 27 July 2015
As a result, job applicants like Michael Phillips, 26, were bypassed.
Furthermore, during a commission hearing, Police Lieutenant Michael Pappalardo (pictured below) bluntly admitted that “he wouldn’t believe anyone who claimed they would arrest their family and friends.” (H/T Photography Is Not A Crime)
By 2008, there were about 1.1 million Salvadoran immigrants in the United States. Salvadorans are the country’s sixth largest immigrant group after Mexican, Filipino, Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese foreign born.
Friday, 24 July 2015
The CEO of a mental health company in Michigan has been charged with embezzling more than $500,000 of company money to send to a psychic
The criminal case against fired Summit Pointe CEO Erv Brinker rests on what Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette alleged were fraudulent contracts with a Key West, Fla., man associated with a psychic palm reader.
In a press release after Brinker was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of Medicaid fraud conspiracy and one count of embezzlement by a public official, Schuette said his Health Care Fraud Division’s investigation revealed that “Brinker allegedly sent the $510,000 to a Key West psychic palm reader and her husband under the guise of health care consulting.”
The press release said “As CEO, Brinker had the authority to contractually bind Summit Pointe without Board approval and he allegedly signed the fraudulent contracts without the consultation of other employees. Additionally, Brinker did not notify the Board of Directors of the alleged contracts.”
Before Ingham County District Judge Richard Ball on Wednesday, Brinker, 68, of Delton stood calmly as he was formally charged and his attorneys waived a preliminary examination of the charges. The case was bound over to Ingham County Circuit Court for trial. A pre-trial hearing was set for Aug. 12.
The charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in jail and a $5,000 fine on conviction.
Brinker attorney Matthew Vicari said the defense has been working with the attorney general’s office “for some months now.”
Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Schroder told the judge they were close to a plea-bargain agreement with Brinker.
Brinker was released on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond under two conditions named by Schroder and agreed to by the judge:
The first was that he could not have contact with Summit Pointe or its employees.
“Number two,” Schroder said, “That the defendant have no contact with any psychic, fortune-teller or palm reader.”
Tommy Eli of Key West was listed as a Summit Pointe contractor; his name was raised at the Feb. 17 meeting in which Brinker was fired.
At the public hearing, Brinker through his lawyer repeatedly refused to ask questions about Eli, declining to speak unless he was assured the information wouldn’t be used for potential criminal prosecution.
Summit Pointe’s lawyers alleged illusory contract services, saying they were unable to confirm Eli had any professional credentials and that they only found a one-page document as proof of work.
But they did know this: Eli received $510,000 in payments from Summit Pointe. He billed the agency for more than 1,100 hours of work from October 2012 to April 2013, some of which were claimed in invoices to have been conducted in person at Summit Pointe’s offices. The last payment — $265,000 — was sent by overnight courier to a Key West address, marked to the attention of Julie Davis.
The address is a psychic business. Davis is a psychic and tarot card reader, according to a business license filed with the city of Key West.
Eli did not return multiple calls from the Enquirer.
In his press release, Schuette was quoted as saying “Ensuring integrity in our health care system is critical to the safety of all Michigan citizens. Anyone attempting to skirt the law at the expense of patients and taxpayers will be identified and brought to justice. I would like to thank Summit Pointe for bringing this case to our attention and providing assistance and full cooperation to ensure this never happens again.”
After the arraignment, Summit Pointe sent a press release to the Enquirer saying the agency’s leadership and attorneys had worked for months with the Attorney General’s office.
Board President Trae Allman was quoted in the release as saying, “When our board was informed of employee concerns about irregularities in contracting and expenditures, we engaged Fraser Trebilcock as independent counsel to conduct a careful, external investigation. What we found through that process increasingly disappointed and alarmed us as a board, and among a series of other necessary actions, we contacted the appropriate authorities. We are appreciative of the efforts of the Attorney General, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and we are relieved that this difficult chapter is finally over.”
Summit Pointe’s board fired Brinker for cause, alleging he created a defined-benefits pension plan without board approval and for his own personal benefit. Board members also said Brinker had “apparent and actual conflicts of interest” with some of the agency’s vendors, and didn’t competitively bid million-dollar contracts that were granted to vendors with whom he had outside business ties.
Brinker’s termination was the result of a nearly three-month internal investigation by Summit Pointe, which hired Lansing-based law firm Fraser Trebilcock Davis and Dunlap to help conduct the probe. Two other Summit Pointe executives — Chief Operating Officer Bob Lambert and Chief Financial Officer Leon Karnovsky — resigned during the investigation.
After Brinker’s dismissal, Summit Pointe has since worked to replace vacancies and rein in finances. The agency has cut off contracts with many vendors named in the lengthy resolution to fire Brinker, and has made changes to its community partnerships, including the discontinuation of running operations as the Custer Greens golf course.
Summit Pointe’s annual audit that was presented to the board in early June revealed weaknesses in financial reporting. Auditors didn’t issue an opinion because they were unable “to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence.” They also cited the ongoing investigation.