Nation & World Briefs

Friday, March 09, 2018
‘Pharma Bro’ gets 7 years in prison for securities fraud

NEW YORK — The smirk wiped off his face, a crying Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison for securities fraud Friday in a hard fall for the pharmaceutical-industry bad boy vilified for jacking up the price of a lifesaving drug.

Shkreli, the boyish-looking, 34-year-old entrepreneur dubbed the “Pharma Bro” for his loutish behavior, was handed his punishment after a hearing in which he and his attorney struggled with limited success to make him a sympathetic figure. His own lawyer confessed to wanting to punch him in the face sometimes.

The defendant hung his head and choked up as he admitted to many mistakes and apologized to the investors he was convicted of defrauding.

At one point, a clerk handed him a box of tissues.

“I’m not the same person I was,” Shkreli said. “I know right from wrong. I know what it means to tell the truth and what it means to lie.”

He also said: “The only person to blame for me being here today is me. There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli.”

AP finds the NRA gave $7 million to hundreds of schools

The National Rifle Association has dramatically increased its funding to schools in recent years amid a national debate over guns and school violence, an Associated Press analysis of tax records has found.

But few say they plan to give up the money in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting.

The AP analysis of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records finds that about 500 schools received more than $7.3 million from 2010 through 2016, mostly through competitive grants meant to promote shooting sports.

In some ways, the grant distribution reflects the nation’s deep political divide over guns. Nearly three-quarters of the schools that received grants are in counties that voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, while a quarter are in counties that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to the AP analysis. Most are in medium-sized counties or rural areas, with few near major cities.

Florida’s Broward County school district is believed to be the first to stop accepting NRA money after a gunman killed 17 people at one of its schools Feb. 14. The teen charged in the shooting had been on a school rifle team that received NRA funding. School officials announced the change Tuesday but declined to comment further.

US hiring surge last month pulls in flood of new workers

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers went on a hiring binge in February, adding 313,000 jobs, amid rising business confidence lifted by the Trump administration’s tax cuts and a resilient global economy.

The surprisingly robust hiring, reported by the Labor Department on Friday, was the strongest in 1½ years.

It was accompanied by the biggest surge in 15 years in the number of people either working or looking for work. The nation’s unemployment rate unchanged for a 5th straight month at 4.1 percent.

At the same time, average wage growth slowed to 2.6 percent in February from a year earlier. That was down from January’s revised pace of 2.8 percent, which had spooked investors because it raised fears of inflation.

The hiring boom caught many economists off guard, because they expected a smaller — though still healthy — increase.

ACLU sues Trump admin. to stop family separation

HOUSTON — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit Friday accusing the U.S. government of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum.

The lawsuit follows action the ACLU took in the case of a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old daughter, who the group said was taken from her mother “screaming and crying” and placed in a Chicago facility. While the woman was released Tuesday from a San Diego center, the girl remains in the facility 2,000 miles away.

Immigrant advocates say the mother and daughter’s case is emblematic of the approach taken by President Donald Trump’s administration. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Diego, asks a judge to declare family separation unlawful and says hundreds of families have been split by immigration authorities.

The lawsuit also raises the case of a Brazilian woman who the ACLU says was separated from her 14-year-old son after they sought asylum in August. The ACLU says the woman was given a roughly 25-day sentence jail sentence for illegally entering the country and then placed in immigration detention facilities in West Texas, while her son was taken to a Chicago facility.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not announced a formal policy to hold adult asylum seekers separately from their children. But administration officials have said they are considering separating parents and children to deter others from trying to enter the U.S.

From Associated Press