Financial
Toyota case shows it's hard to prosecute execs PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 06:27

WASHINGTON (AP) — Efforts to conceal the extent of dangerous car defects at Toyota Motor Corp. were so pervasive, prosecutors say, that an exasperated employee at one point warned that "someone will go to jail if lies are repeatedly told."

Yet no one has gone to jail, nor is likely to.

The Justice Department last week socked the car company with a $1.2 billion penalty but brought no criminal charges against individual executives, an unsatisfying resolution for consumer activists who say prison is the best deterrence for corporate malfeasance.

But prosecutors say they had little choice, in part because of constraints with evidence and the challenge of gathering testimony and information from witnesses outside the United States.

The same internal memos and public statements that buttressed the case against the corporation might well have been inadmissible as evidence against specific individuals. And it can be hard to prove that the person whose name is on a certain damning document was directly responsible for the misstatements or knew that they were wrong, legal experts say.

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Fracking activist wants back on driller's land PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 06:12

A high-profile anti-fracking activist who often gives tours of natural gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region asked a judge Monday for relief from an order barring her from stepping foot on more than 300 square miles of land owned or leased by one of the state's leading natural gas drillers.

Vera Scroggins said the injunction, in place since October, has effectively prevented her from traveling to her favorite grocery store, eye doctor, hospital, restaurants, businesses and friends' homes because all of them have leased land to Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.

Her attorneys asked Susquehanna County Judge Kenneth Seamans to lift or modify his order. A ruling could come this week.

"It's tough to try to figure out, where can I stand? Where can I walk?" Scroggins said after the hearing in Montrose. "I never used to have to think about that. It's not a pleasant thing to endure."

A company spokesman said Cabot is only interested in preventing the activist from trespassing on its active drilling sites and contended that Scroggins, who's used to attracting media attention, is simply out for more publicity.

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Legal definition of Tennessee whiskey before lawmakers PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 06:25

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — House and Senate committees are scheduled to take up bills seeking to undo the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey enacted last year.

The current law requires spirits to be charcoal mellowed and stored in unused oak barrels in order to print "Tennessee whiskey" on their labels.

The law was passed at the behest of Jack Daniel's, which distills its whiskey about 65 miles south of the state Capitol, in Lynchburg. Some smaller distillers including George Dickel, Pritchard's and startups like Full Throttle oppose the law as too restrictive.

But other new distillers agree with Jack Daniel's that dialing back the law could lead to quality problems like artificial colors and flavoring.

Jack Daniel's is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman Corp., while Dickel is owned by global rival Diageo PLC.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
FCC: Thousands of hotels don't offer direct 911 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 06:07

DALLAS (AP) — Tens of thousands of hotels don't allow guests to directly reach emergency services when they dial 911, according to a national survey taken after a 9-year-old girl couldn't call for help while her mother was being stabbed to death in a Texas motel.

The killing of Kari Hunt Dunn in an East Texas hotel room spurred a petition that has garnered more than 440,000 signatures demanding hotels and motels be required to enable the direct dialing of 911. Many hotels require callers to dial "9'' before 911 or have some other system, such as calling first to the front desk, which advocates say can lead to panic and confusion in an emergency.

The petition got the attention of Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai, whose office on Monday announced the results of a survey done after Dunn's death by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The industry group found that about 45 percent of franchised hotels and motels and 32 percent of independent hotels have direct 911 dialing.

Independent owners and franchisees comprise the "vast majority" of the estimated 53,000 such properties in the U.S., including hotels using a brand name, Pai said.

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