Five More Defendants Plead Guilty for Their Roles in Multimillion Dollar India-Based Call Center Scam Targeting U.S. Victims

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Five men, including two individuals who formerly worked at scam call centers in India, each pleaded guilty within the past two weeks for their respective roles in a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme perpetrated by India-based call centers.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas, Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Inspector General J. Russell George of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and Inspector General John Roth of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) made the announcement.

From May 26 to June 6, Rajubhai Patel, 32, an Indian national most recently residing in Willowbrook, Illinois; Viraj Patel, 33, an Indian national most recently residing in Anaheim, California; Dilipkumar Ambal Patel, 53, an Indian national most recently residing in Corona, California; and Fahad Ali, 25, a Pakistani national and permanent U.S. resident most recently residing in Dyer, Indiana, each pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy before U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas. Hardik Patel, 31, an Indian national most recently residing in Arlington Heights, Illinois, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy before the same court on June 2. Sentencing dates are pending for all five defendants.

According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreements, the five men and their co-conspirators perpetrated a complex scheme in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad, India, impersonated officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and engaged in other telephone call scams, in a ruse designed to defraud victims in the U.S. Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center operators targeted U.S. victims, who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government. Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the U.S. to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.

Based on the statements in his June 2 guilty plea, beginning in August 2012, Hardik Patel owned and managed the day-to-day operations of an India-based scam call center before later leaving for the U.S. While in India, in his capacity as a manager, Hardik Patel communicated extensively via email, text, and other means with various India-based co-defendants to operate the scheme and exchange scripts used in the scheme, coordinate the processing of payments from scammed victims, obtain and exchange lead lists used by callers to target U.S. victims, and exchange spreadsheets containing the personal identifying information (PII) of U.S. persons misappropriated by the scammers to register reloadable cards used in the scheme. Hardik Patel also managed worker payroll and kept detailed records of profits and expenses for various associated scam call centers. Hardik Patel continued to communicate with India-based co-defendants about the scheme and assist with the conspiracy after he moved to the U.S. 

According to his June 6 guilty plea, Rajubhai Patel operated as a runner and assisted a co-defendant in managing the activities of a crew of other runners, based primarily out of Illinois, who liquidated victim funds in various locales in the U.S. for conspirators from India-based call centers. Rajubhai Patel communicated about the liquidation of scam funds via electronic WhatsApp communications with domestic and India-based co-defendants, purchased reloadable cards registered using the misappropriated PII of U.S. citizens that were later used to receive victims’ funds, and used those cards to purchase money orders and deposit them into various bank accounts of co-defendants and others as directed. Rajubhai Patel also admitted to creating and maintaining spreadsheets that detailed deposits, payments to co-conspirators, expenses and profits from the scheme.

According to admissions made in his June 2 guilty plea, Viraj Patel first became involved in the conspiracy between April and September 2013, prior to entering the U.S., when he worked at and assisted with overseeing the operations of a call center in India engaging in scam activity at the behest of a co-defendant. After entering the U.S., beginning in December 2014 Viraj Patel engaged in additional activities in support of the scheme in exchange for a cut of the profits, including serving as a processor of scam victim payments and as a runner engaging in the purchase and liquidation of cards loaded with victim scam funds. Viraj Patel communicated with various India-and U.S.-based co-defendants in furtherance of the conspiracy, and also obtained and circulated lead lists to his co-conspirators containing the PII of U.S. citizens for use by the call centers in targeting victims of the various fraud schemes and to register reloadable cards used to launder the proceeds of the schemes.  

Based on the admissions made in his May 26 guilty plea, since late 2013, Dilipkumar A. Patel operated as a runner in and around Southern California, along with other co-defendants based in the region. At the direction of India-based co-conspirators, often via electronic WhatsApp communications, Patel admitted to participating in the purchase of reloadable cards registered with the PII of U.S. citizens, and the subsequent liquidation of victim scam funds loaded to those cards by co-conspirators, while keeping a percentage of the victim funds on the cards for himself. 

According to his guilty plea, also on May 26, beginning in or around 2013, Fahad Ali worked as a member of a crew of runners operating in the Chicago, Illinois area, the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere throughout the country. Ali admitted that he first served as a driver for an Illinois-based co-defendant engaging in activities in furtherance of the conspiracy. Ali later operated at the direction of that co-defendant and others, via various means of communication, including text messages, to purchase reloadable cards, and then liquidate victim scam proceeds placed on those cards by India-based co-conspirators, in exchange for recurring payments. Ali also admitted to using false identification documents to receive wire transfers from victims of the fraud.

To date, Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A. Patel, Fahad Ali, 51 other individuals and five India-based call centers have been charged for their roles in the fraud and money laundering scheme in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas on Oct. 19, 2016. Including the most recent pleas, a total of nine defendants have pleaded guilty thus far in this case. Co-defendants Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, Harsh Patel and Nilam Parikh previously pleaded guilty on April 13; April 26; May 11; and May 18, respectively.

The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

HSI, DHS-OIG and TIGTA led the investigation of this case. Also providing significant support were: the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; Ft. Bend County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; police departments in Hoffman Estates and Naperville, Illinois, and in Leonia, New Jersey; San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Family Protection and Elder Abuse Unit; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General; IOC-2; INTERPOL Washington; USCIS; U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service; and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Northern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Central District of California, Northern District of California, District of Colorado, Northern District of Florida, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Illinois, Northern District of Indiana, District of Nevada and District of New Jersey. The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau also provided assistance in TIGTA’s investigation.

Senior Trial Attorney Michael Sheckels and Trial Attorney Mona Sahaf of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Robert Stapleton of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Mark McIntyre and Craig M. Feazel of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.

A Department of Justice website has been established to provide information about the case to already identified and potential victims and the public. Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud or identity theft in relation to this investigation or other telefraud scam phone calls may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via this website.

Anyone who wants additional information about telefraud scams generally, or preventing identity theft or fraudulent use of their identity information, may obtain helpful information on the IRS tax scams website, the FTC phone scam website and the FTC identity theft website.

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Michigans University Research Corridor Conducts $1.2 Billion in Life, Medical and Health Science Research, Report Finds

Growing sector employed 533,000 Michiganders in 2015, representing one in eight jobs in the state

Undergraduate research assistant Charles Zhou checks the tubing used to deliver nutrients to the algal biofuel aquariums. Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.LANSING–Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) conducted $1.2 billion in research and development in the health sciences and has proved to be a key source of talent, deliverer of care and economic driver in Michigan, according to a new report released today.

The URC, comprised of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, worked with Lansing, Mich.-based Public Sector Consultants to create, „Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences.” The report discusses the importance of the life, medical and health sciences to Michigan, and the direct impact URC research and discoveries have on people’s lives.

The sciences make up an important and stabilizing part of Michigan’s economy, being one of the only sectors that grew during Michigan’s long economic downturn of the 2000s. The URC universities continue to push the boundaries of possibility in these critically important science sectors, striving to find cures for debilitating diseases; developing new pharmaceuticals; leveraging new technologies to develop innovative treatments; increasing the security of the food supply; and ultimately, improving the health and quality of life for people in Michigan and across the globe.

MSU is recognized for development of Cisplatin, one of the first, widely prescribed and highly effective cancer drugs that has helped lower the rates of death from several cancers; U-M played an important role in the development of the polio vaccine; and, in 1952, WSU had the first doctor to successfully use a mechanical heart pump on a patient during surgery.

„The URC is a national power and an important source of talent when it comes to the life, medical and health sciences,” said URC Executive Director Jeff Mason. „There are few places in the world able to conduct the types of research that occur at our institutions, and we are proud to support the continuation of such groundbreaking and historically important studies.”

The URC has a deep connection with these fields as a leading research cluster, key source of talent, deliverer of care and economic driver. While Michigan’s economy is still recovering from the sharp employment declines that occurred in the 2000s—a decline that the life, medical and health sciences did not experience—employment in the sciences is up 18.9 percent, compared to 2000 levels. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the sector added 21,000 jobs.

The report also found the three universities are responsible for 95 percent of all academic R&D in Michigan within the life, medical and health sciences. Furthermore, the URC research dollars that support much of the state’s cutting-edge research is converting into commercialization success. From 2012 to 2016 within the sciences, the URC had 1,348 inventions reported by researchers; 380 U.S. patents issued; 433 new license agreements; 32 new startup companies, which accounted for 40 percent of all URC institution startups; and $142 million in royalties earned, over 80 percent of all royalty income earned.

Additionally, the URC ranks first in degrees awarded in the life, medical and health sciences’ field—with 44,422 graduates from 2011-2015—against seven other leading university clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. The URC additionally ranks first among these university clusters in the number of bachelor’s, master’s and medical doctor degrees awarded in the sciences.

„The URC is responsible for the state’s competitiveness and talent produced in the sciences and trains the researchers that make Michigan attractive to employers, investors and federal agencies supporting the sector,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. „U-M is proud to be a part of the URC and to have the opportunity to work closely with WSU and MSU to remain at the forefront of discovery, innovation and care in the life, medical and health sciences.”

The diversity of what the URC universities offer in terms of research, medical training and the delivery of care has a profound impact on the state, as well as the world. Researchers at WSU’s Integrative Biosciences Center study environmental sciences, heart disease, obesity and other health ailments that plague Detroiters; MSU College of Human Medicine—one of the nation’s first community-based medical schools—played a crucial role in detecting elevated levels of lead in Flint’s children; and U-M’s C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital provides specialized healthcare not offered elsewhere in the state to newborns, children and pregnant women.

„Wayne State University’s location in the heart of Detroit attracts students from across the nation for a variety of reasons, including a desire to help address health disparities among diverse populations,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. „We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in health disparities research and remain committed to partnering with our fellow URC institutions to improve the human condition.”

URC research has led to cures that have saved countless lives. As science advances, the future for research in the life, medical and health sciences will include tackling challenges related to aging, cancer, genetic disorders, health disparities and food supply safety.

„Every day MSU researchers and health care professionals strive to tackle those big challenges, which require diverse perspectives and expertise, harnessed through partnerships and collaborations,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. „It’s a privilege to collaborate with the URC universities to ensure we are making a significant difference within the sciences locally and globally.”

The full report is available and can be viewed at http://urcmich.org/reports/.

CONTACT:
Sawyer Lipari
Lambert, Edwards & Associates
(o) 313-309-9551
(c) 570-764-5072
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Michigans University Research Corridor Conducts $1.2 Billion in Life, Medical and Health Science Research, Report Finds

Growing sector employed 533,000 Michiganders in 2015, representing one in eight jobs in the state

Undergraduate research assistant Charles Zhou checks the tubing used to deliver nutrients to the algal biofuel aquariums. Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.LANSING–Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) conducted $1.2 billion in research and development in the health sciences and has proved to be a key source of talent, deliverer of care and economic driver in Michigan, according to a new report released today.

The URC, comprised of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, worked with Lansing, Mich.-based Public Sector Consultants to create, „Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences.” The report discusses the importance of the life, medical and health sciences to Michigan, and the direct impact URC research and discoveries have on people’s lives.

The sciences make up an important and stabilizing part of Michigan’s economy, being one of the only sectors that grew during Michigan’s long economic downturn of the 2000s. The URC universities continue to push the boundaries of possibility in these critically important science sectors, striving to find cures for debilitating diseases; developing new pharmaceuticals; leveraging new technologies to develop innovative treatments; increasing the security of the food supply; and ultimately, improving the health and quality of life for people in Michigan and across the globe.

MSU is recognized for development of Cisplatin, one of the first, widely prescribed and highly effective cancer drugs that has helped lower the rates of death from several cancers; U-M played an important role in the development of the polio vaccine; and, in 1952, WSU had the first doctor to successfully use a mechanical heart pump on a patient during surgery.

„The URC is a national power and an important source of talent when it comes to the life, medical and health sciences,” said URC Executive Director Jeff Mason. „There are few places in the world able to conduct the types of research that occur at our institutions, and we are proud to support the continuation of such groundbreaking and historically important studies.”

The URC has a deep connection with these fields as a leading research cluster, key source of talent, deliverer of care and economic driver. While Michigan’s economy is still recovering from the sharp employment declines that occurred in the 2000s—a decline that the life, medical and health sciences did not experience—employment in the sciences is up 18.9 percent, compared to 2000 levels. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the sector added 21,000 jobs.

The report also found the three universities are responsible for 95 percent of all academic R&D in Michigan within the life, medical and health sciences. Furthermore, the URC research dollars that support much of the state’s cutting-edge research is converting into commercialization success. From 2012 to 2016 within the sciences, the URC had 1,348 inventions reported by researchers; 380 U.S. patents issued; 433 new license agreements; 32 new startup companies, which accounted for 40 percent of all URC institution startups; and $142 million in royalties earned, over 80 percent of all royalty income earned.

Additionally, the URC ranks first in degrees awarded in the life, medical and health sciences’ field—with 44,422 graduates from 2011-2015—against seven other leading university clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. The URC additionally ranks first among these university clusters in the number of bachelor’s, master’s and medical doctor degrees awarded in the sciences.

„The URC is responsible for the state’s competitiveness and talent produced in the sciences and trains the researchers that make Michigan attractive to employers, investors and federal agencies supporting the sector,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. „U-M is proud to be a part of the URC and to have the opportunity to work closely with WSU and MSU to remain at the forefront of discovery, innovation and care in the life, medical and health sciences.”

The diversity of what the URC universities offer in terms of research, medical training and the delivery of care has a profound impact on the state, as well as the world. Researchers at WSU’s Integrative Biosciences Center study environmental sciences, heart disease, obesity and other health ailments that plague Detroiters; MSU College of Human Medicine—one of the nation’s first community-based medical schools—played a crucial role in detecting elevated levels of lead in Flint’s children; and U-M’s C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital provides specialized healthcare not offered elsewhere in the state to newborns, children and pregnant women.

„Wayne State University’s location in the heart of Detroit attracts students from across the nation for a variety of reasons, including a desire to help address health disparities among diverse populations,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. „We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in health disparities research and remain committed to partnering with our fellow URC institutions to improve the human condition.”

URC research has led to cures that have saved countless lives. As science advances, the future for research in the life, medical and health sciences will include tackling challenges related to aging, cancer, genetic disorders, health disparities and food supply safety.

„Every day MSU researchers and health care professionals strive to tackle those big challenges, which require diverse perspectives and expertise, harnessed through partnerships and collaborations,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. „It’s a privilege to collaborate with the URC universities to ensure we are making a significant difference within the sciences locally and globally.”

The full report is available and can be viewed at http://urcmich.org/reports/.

CONTACT:
Sawyer Lipari
Lambert, Edwards & Associates
(o) 313-309-9551
(c) 570-764-5072
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In search of the fundamental laws of microecology

Model microorganisms grown in pure cultures have been the basis of biological research for many decades — open a cell biology textbook and almost everything you will find has been discovered in yeast or E. coli lab cultures. While this speaks to the power of research on individual species, ecologists would be quick to remind us that pure cultures rarely exist in nature. Organisms live in an ecological context, and are often cogs in a well-oiled ecological machine with multiple species.

Microbial communities are one prime example of ecological systems that are far from being pure cultures, and these communities play fundamental roles in earth’s ecosystems. Despite their critical contributions to our world, our understanding of these collective systems lags decades behind our knowledge of pure cultures. The rules that govern their dynamics and function also remain largely unknown.

Now, a new Simons Foundation collaboration called Theory of Microbial Ecosystems (THE-ME, pronounced „theme”) is attempting to fill this gap by discovering the principles of how microbial communities form and function.

Simons Collaborations like THE-ME are large-scale projects that bring together funded investigators from difference disciplines to find solutions to major scientific problems, such as the origin of life or the coding of information in the brain. THE-ME is being launched by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from across the United States and Europe, coordinated by MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Otto X. Cordero and Professor Roman Stocker of ETH Zurich. They hope the effort will result in the development of fundamental quantitative theories that can help us understand and predict the behavior of microbial ecosystems.

“Some of the biggest open questions in biology remain at the level of collectives,” Cordero says. “Cells have evolved internal regulatory programs that allow them to sense their environment and adjust their behavior. By contrast, ecological communities lack any form of centralized control, they are distributed and decentralized systems. How such systems self-organize in a reproducible fashion in the absence of a central conductor is one of the most important questions in biology.

THE-ME seeks to answer three central questions about microbial communities: how microbes in communities organize and distribute roles, how communities utilize resources for energy and growth, and how they respond to environmental disturbances and changes.

Cordero and Stocker, both environmental scientists, assembled a research team that will take a multidisciplinary approach to answering these questions. Their strategy is to develop model systems to study the interaction between cellular processes and community-level processes. The researchers hope to use these findings to discover quantitative laws that dictate the behavior of such microbial ecosystems.

To develop these model systems, the team of researchers will draw inspiration from the ocean, where communities of bacteria self-organize at micrometer scales to degrade particles of organic matter. One of the major benefits of studying oceanic microbes is their ecological relevance — by recycling organic matter these organisms drive the cycling of carbon in the planet. Moreover, new technology now allows scientists to recreate their microenvironments at microscales in the laboratory, allowing researchers to study their dynamics and function in synthetic ecosystems.

“Many of the major discoveries in microbial ecology took place in the context of marine microbes and, incidentally, in the Parsons Lab at MIT, which has a great tradition of pioneering microbial ecology research. We hope to continue and build from that tradition,” Cordero says.

In addition to Cordero and Stocker, the THE-ME research team includes Jeff Gore, a biophysicist and associate professor of physics at MIT; Mick Follows, professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at MIT; Martin Ackermann, a professor of molecular microbial ecology at ETH Zurich; and Sebastian Bonhoeffer, a theoretical biologist and professor at ETH Zurich. Also working with the team are Victoria Orphan, a molecular microbial ecologist and professor at Caltech; Mary Ann Moran, a marine microbiology and professor at University of Georgia; Terence Hwa PhD ’90, a theoretical physicist and professor at University of California at San Diego; and Naomi Levine PhD ’10, an ocean modeling theoretical ecologist and assistant professor at University of Southern California.

“Roman and I were looking for researchers that are at the top of their fields and had a strong quantitative background,” Cordero says. “Most importantly, we had to find people that could work well together. I think we have assembled an amazing team of scientists and we are looking forward to getting this project underway. I’m confident this cross-continental, cross-institutional project will prove extremely valuable.” 

“The Simons Foundation truly makes large-scale research possible,” he adds. “We are extremely grateful for the foundation for funding THE-ME. The projects and experiments we are planning are foundational to microbiology and we appreciate the support of the Simons Foundation for our research endeavors.” 

Senate Hearing to Focus on Delaying Lifesaving Pollution Standards

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Ozone Standards Would Prevent 1,400 Premature Deaths Yearly

WASHINGTON— The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on S. 452, legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), to impose a 10-year delay on lifesaving ground-level ozone standards set in 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that achieving the 2015 70 parts-per-million ozone standard would prevent more than 1,400 premature deaths annually. Parts of Arizona and California would be the hardest hit if the changes are delayed.

“If Sen. Flake’s deadly legislation becomes law, thousands of Americans will die prematurely, and tens of thousands of children will continue having debilitating asthma attacks that could be avoided,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Poor and disadvantaged communities in urban areas will be hit the hardest by this giveaway to dirty fossil fuel companies.

Ground-level ozone pollution is a significant source of respiratory problems and leads to more asthma attacks, missed school days, missed work days and premature deaths. The 2015 ozone standard was set at 70 parts per million, replacing the Bush administration standard of 75 ppm from 2008. 

Ozone pollution is caused by emissions from power plants, factories, solvent use and motor vehicles. Ozone is the principle component of smog. Under the EPA’s analysis, impacts of ozone pollution would hit areas of Arizona, the Central Valley of California and Southern California the hardest. The agency estimates that under the Bush era standard of 75 ppm, dozens of people died prematurely every year in Arizona’s most populous counties.

“Sen. Flake is advocating for legislation that will directly result in more ozone-caused deaths in Arizona and more children in the hospital with asthma attacks,” said Hartl.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must revise National Ambient Air Quality Standards, like those set for ground-level ozone, every five years. The Act requires that the EPA set these standards at a level that will protect human health with an adequate margin of safety.

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CBP Officers Seize Over 370 Pounds of Narcotics, Valued at $2.5 Million

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry yesterday intercepted over 370 pounds of narcotics, with an estimated street value of $2.5 million.

On May 17, CBP officers intercepted, in three separate incidents 316 pounds of methamphetamine and 55 pounds of cocaine. CBP officers discovered the narcotics hidden inside vehicles in various places, such as the spare tire, rear seats and gas tank.

“CBP has many responsibilities protecting America’s borders and combating drug trafficking is one of them,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego. “These seizures showcase our commitment to the security of the nation and zero tolerance for the smuggling of narcotics.

All drivers were arrested and turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, awaiting arraignment.

CBP seized the vehicle and narcotics.

CBP officers at the border crossings in Southern California routinely stop illegal activity, while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States. Those statistics can be found here: CBP-enforcement-statistics

Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Publication of Azusa Pacific Universitys Dead Sea Scrolls to Enhance Biblical Scholarship

Azusa Pacific University announces the long-awaited formal publication of rare Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) manuscripts from its Special Collections library. In 2009, the university acquired five ancient biblical manuscripts for scholarly study and preservation for posterity. A faculty team from APU’s School of Theology has completed its systematic examination, transcription, and analysis of the 2000-year-old manuscripts. The highly anticipated official publication of these rare and fragile antiquities will appear as a volume in the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project series in 2017.

The publication was prepared in collaboration with an editorial team at Princeton Theological Seminary headed by James H. Charlesworth, Ph.D., George Collord Professor of New Testament. This volume will join other recently published volumes of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the Schøyen and Museum of the Bible collections.

“The first volume in the Supplement Volumes of the Princeton’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project is the editio princeps of manuscripts of biblical compositions found among the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Charlesworth. “These manuscripts were unknown and thus not included in earlier publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are extremely important because they contain some different readings from those found in our Bibles. Some of these readings help us correct the texts of the Bible. Along with Professor Rietz, my associate editor, and the scholars at APU, I am excited to share these Dead Sea Scrolls with all who are devoted to our Bible and an international, multicultural audience.”

“We look forward to bringing complete information about APU’s ancient biblical manuscripts to the scholarly world,” said lead researcher William Yarchin, Ph.D., the Dean’s Endowed Professor of Biblical Studies in APU’s School of Theology. “Some of these manuscripts contain wording found in no other Hebrew manuscript, and scholars are keen to integrate that information into the existing body of biblical scholarship. It is also important to provide this material to the scholarly world in light of concerns over possible forgeries among scroll fragments that have recently come to light. One of our fragments has been carbon dated as truly ancient. So we are confident, and we fully support all future scientific studies that can help advance research in ancient manuscripts.”

Among the five ancient fragments are portions from the book of Leviticus, the book of Deuteronomy, and the book of Daniel, inscribed at about the time of Christ or within a century earlier. It is possible that the Daniel fragment owned by APU is the world’s oldest existing manuscript of Daniel 5:13-16.

Of the significant findings, „The university’s Deuteronomy 27 fragment features a unique reading in verse 4 that agrees with the Samaritan Torah. This will give scholars new insights into the relationship between Judaism and Samaritanism in antiquity,” said Karen Winslow, Ph.D., professor and chair, biblical and theological studies in the Azusa Pacific Seminary.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been described as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever. They include the oldest biblical manuscripts in existence. Scholars credit the scrolls for increasing knowledge of the origins of Christianity and revolutionizing their understanding of Judaism. Azusa Pacific University’s five Dead Sea Scroll fragments include: 1) portions of Leviticus 10:4-7; 2) portions of Deuteronomy 8:2-5; 3) portions of Deuteronomy 27:4-6; 4) portions of Daniel 5:13-16; and 5) an unidentified fragment. All five fragments are from Qumran Cave 4. In 2010, APU held a public exhibition of these manuscripts along with other biblical artifacts from its Special Collections. Along with its Dead Sea Scroll holdings, APU oversees an archaeological excavation of the biblical site Abel Beth Maacah, a 35-acre tel in the northernmost border of present day Israel. Dig findings include a 3,000-year-old seal depicting ritualistic dance and a silver hoard likely from the late Bronze Age.

Publication of Azusa Pacific Universitys Dead Sea Scrolls to Enhance Biblical Scholarship

Azusa Pacific University announces the long-awaited formal publication of rare Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) manuscripts from its Special Collections library. In 2009, the university acquired five ancient biblical manuscripts for scholarly study and preservation for posterity. A faculty team from APU’s School of Theology has completed its systematic examination, transcription, and analysis of the 2000-year-old manuscripts. The highly anticipated official publication of these rare and fragile antiquities will appear as a volume in the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project series in 2017.

The publication was prepared in collaboration with an editorial team at Princeton Theological Seminary headed by James H. Charlesworth, Ph.D., George Collord Professor of New Testament. This volume will join other recently published volumes of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the Schøyen and Museum of the Bible collections.

“The first volume in the Supplement Volumes of the Princeton’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project is the editio princeps of manuscripts of biblical compositions found among the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Charlesworth. “These manuscripts were unknown and thus not included in earlier publications of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are extremely important because they contain some different readings from those found in our Bibles. Some of these readings help us correct the texts of the Bible. Along with Professor Rietz, my associate editor, and the scholars at APU, I am excited to share these Dead Sea Scrolls with all who are devoted to our Bible and an international, multicultural audience.”

“We look forward to bringing complete information about APU’s ancient biblical manuscripts to the scholarly world,” said lead researcher William Yarchin, Ph.D., the Dean’s Endowed Professor of Biblical Studies in APU’s School of Theology. “Some of these manuscripts contain wording found in no other Hebrew manuscript, and scholars are keen to integrate that information into the existing body of biblical scholarship. It is also important to provide this material to the scholarly world in light of concerns over possible forgeries among scroll fragments that have recently come to light. One of our fragments has been carbon dated as truly ancient. So we are confident, and we fully support all future scientific studies that can help advance research in ancient manuscripts.”

Among the five ancient fragments are portions from the book of Leviticus, the book of Deuteronomy, and the book of Daniel, inscribed at about the time of Christ or within a century earlier. It is possible that the Daniel fragment owned by APU is the world’s oldest existing manuscript of Daniel 5:13-16.

Of the significant findings, „The university’s Deuteronomy 27 fragment features a unique reading in verse 4 that agrees with the Samaritan Torah. This will give scholars new insights into the relationship between Judaism and Samaritanism in antiquity,” said Karen Winslow, Ph.D., professor and chair, biblical and theological studies in the Azusa Pacific Seminary.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been described as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever. They include the oldest biblical manuscripts in existence. Scholars credit the scrolls for increasing knowledge of the origins of Christianity and revolutionizing their understanding of Judaism. Azusa Pacific University’s five Dead Sea Scroll fragments include: 1) portions of Leviticus 10:4-7; 2) portions of Deuteronomy 8:2-5; 3) portions of Deuteronomy 27:4-6; 4) portions of Daniel 5:13-16; and 5) an unidentified fragment. All five fragments are from Qumran Cave 4. In 2010, APU held a public exhibition of these manuscripts along with other biblical artifacts from its Special Collections. Along with its Dead Sea Scroll holdings, APU oversees an archaeological excavation of the biblical site Abel Beth Maacah, a 35-acre tel in the northernmost border of present day Israel. Dig findings include a 3,000-year-old seal depicting ritualistic dance and a silver hoard likely from the late Bronze Age.

CBP Officers Seize $12M of Drugs over Mothers Day Weekend

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the ports of entry along the California border with Mexico over the Mother’s Day weekend intercepted more than a half of ton of narcotics valued at around $12 million.

From Friday, May 12, through Sunday, May 14, CBP officers intercepted 627 pounds of methamphetamine, 382 pounds of cocaine, nine pounds of heroin and 78 pounds of marijuana. CBP officers discovered the narcotics hidden inside vehicles in various places, such as the intake manifold, quarter panels, dashboards, seats and gas tanks.

One enforcement action is highlighted below:

On Friday about 5 p.m., a 20-year-old female U.S. citizen entered the Calexico downtown port of entry driving a white 2014 Honda Civic. A CBP officer referred the Civic for an examination and officers discovered anomalies within the engine area. Both vehicle and driver were escorted to the secondary inspection area for further examination.

One meth drug seizure of several
over the Mother’s Day weekend.

During the intensive inspection, officers utilized the port’s imaging system that led to the discovery of 22 wrapped packages of methamphetamine and one wrapped package of cocaine concealed inside a non-factory compartment within the dashboard area.

The methamphetamine yielded a total weight of about 34 pounds with an estimated street value of approximately $47,600 and the cocaine yielded a weight of two pounds with an estimated street value of approximately $30,000.

The driver, a resident of Desert Hot Springs, California, was arrested for the alleged smuggling attempt and turned over to the custody of ICE agents for further processing.

“CBP officers constantly combat the flow of drugs from entering the U.S. at our ports of entry and $12 million worth of it is evident of our officers’ effectiveness,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego.

CBP officers at the border crossings in Southern California routinely stop illegal activity, while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States. Those statistics can be found here: CBP-enforcement-statistics

Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement With Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

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California Nurses Association Press Release, 5/10/17

Registered nurses at Keck Hospital of the University of Southern California (USC) and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that secures important patient protections, helps recruit and retain experienced nurses, and provides critical educational opportunities for nurses, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) announced today.

RNs will vote on the contract, which would cover around 1,110 nurses at the USC facilities, Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.

I have been an RN for 40 years and at USC Keck for 26 years, and it feels great to celebrate Nurses Week with a contract that lifts the standards for our profession,” said Operating Room RN Maria Salazar—referring to the timing of the agreement aligning with the May 6-12 national week honoring nurses.

“Our contract is a testament to the importance of having a strong union,” said Intensive Care Unit RN Allysha Shin. “In light of today’s political climate, it is more crucial now to have strong worker protections.”

Contract highlights include:

Support for nurses, leading to enhanced patient care. The new contract includes additional “resource nurses,” who are scheduled as backup/assistance for RNs in the event of an influx of severely injured or ill patients. Meal and break language also ensures that nurses have adequate rest, critical to reducing the threat of fatigue, which can lead to accidents and other harm for patients. Additionally, the agreement states that lead nurses will not have a patient assignment, so they can perform their duties in support of their fellow RNs.

Economic gains to help with recruitment and retention. With across the board wage increases of at least 15 percent, with more based on years of experience, Keck and Norris will now have some of the most competitive wages in the region, helping to attract the most experienced nurses to care for patients and the community served by the hospitals.

Critical educational opportunities. The agreement includes continuing education opportunities for nurses and reimbursement for conferences and seminars.

Important union protections. With the ongoing growth of Keck Hospital and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, nurses say they are pleased that even if RNs are shifted to new buildings within the larger campus, the new contract will protect their union and contract rights—allowing them to continue advocating for their patients.

Workplace violence protections. Nurses laud the current contract’s compliance with a nation-leading CNA-sponsored workplace violence law and new regulations stating that all hospitals must adopt a workplace violence prevention plan, with staff training and other steps to reduce the danger of violence for employees, patients, patient families, and visitors.

No takeaways to health benefits, expanded life insurance. Nurses will be able to keep their health benefits and will also receive expanded life insurance.

“With the current attempts to roll back healthcare, I’m proud that our contract ensures that we will retain our medical coverage for the next four years,” said Shin.

“I’m extremely happy for our USC nurses, as this is a testament of our unity, especially during times of political change and uncertainty,” said ICU RN Rudy Cuellar. “This contract will improve the overall nursing care satisfaction and will enhance RN retention and recruiting.”

California Nurses Association represents nearly 100,000 nurses statewide and is part of National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country.

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