Experts Say Vaping Bans Not Necessary Outside the U.S.

Vaping Deaths a U.S.-Based Phenomenon - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“It’s a no-brainer – if you stay on cigarettes you will lose a day of life for every four days that you smoke,” said John Britton, a professor and respiratory medicine consultant who’s the director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University. A flat-out ban (on e-cigarettes) will kill people.”

But with vaping bans being considered in legislatures all over the country – and with some bans on particular flavored liquids already in effect – is that really true?

Experts seem to agree that the recent spate of vaping deaths in the United States is a localized problem. It’s not happening elsewhere.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern of illness in the UK or elsewhere, although Indian officials announced a ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes, citing concerns about the U.S. deaths. India has the world’s second-largest population of adult smokers.

“It would be a great shame if people were deterred from using e-cigarettes because of what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Ann McNeill, a professor of tobacco addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology  and Neuroscience at King’s College in London.

Critics say that this is the influence of Big Tobacco – the companies that profit from making cigarette sales.

But there’s no denying that there are upwards of 1,299 Americans with confirmed or probable cases of serious lung injuries and deaths linked to vaping.

What Do You Think?

Do you think there’s something strange going on with vaping bans, or are they a necessity in the U.S. and elsewhere? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Delta Airlines Helps High School Runners

Delta Airlines Helps High School Runners - Attorney Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

A high school cross country team from Ocean City, New Jersey almost missed an important track meet in Orlando when its flight, run by Frontier Airlines, was cancelled – but Delta Airlines stepped up. In a seemingly rare piece of great news, the airline caught wind of the fact that the team would miss the important event and booked all the athletes on a private jet to their destination.

Some of the kids hit social media to ask Delta for help – and it answered the call. One message read, “Super excited to fly down to Disney to run, but our flight got cancelled!!! @Delta can you help?”

Delta spokesman Drake Castaneda confirmed that the company received the messages.

A Frontier spokesman, Zach Kramer, told USA TODAY, “We became aware that a sports group, traveling to a competition, was affected by the cancellation and our team began looking at other options to get them to Orlando as soon as possible. We found the opportunity to book the group on a new flight with another airline and assisted with helping them make new travel arrangements.”

Within hours of learning the flight was cancelled, Delta officials had a plane lined up for the team. The company found a spare aircraft and called in a reserve crew to help the kids, despite the fact that Philadelphia to Orlando isn’t a normal Delta route. Fortunately for the teams, the chartered flight left at 3 a.m. and arrived in Orlando at 5 a.m., with plenty of time to spare before the races began.

It paid off, too – both the junior varsity and varsity teams earned first and second place in a variety of events.

What Do You Think?

Does this affect your opinion of either Frontier Airlines or Delta Airlines? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Drug Distributors May Settle Opioid Legislation

Drug Distributors About to Settle - Attorney Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

Three major drug distributors – McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health, Inc. would collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years under a deal they’re currently negotiating, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Massive lawsuits are creating a domino effect across the drug industry, in which drug makers, distributors and even pharmacies are being sued by nearly every state, as well as thousands of city and county governments. There are currently more than 2,000 lawsuits that all allege the same thing: The industry aggressively marketed prescription painkillers – particularly opioids – and operated under very loose oversight, and those two factors contributed to the opioid crisis that’s sweeping the U.S. like wildfire.

At least 400,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the U.S. in the past 20 years, and the litigants are suing to cover communities’ costs for battling addiction.

A final deal could include other companies, in addition to the three currently in settlement talks. Some experts have suggested that settlement should include the donation of opioid addiction treatment drugs.

Some companies plan to go to war over the suits, while others – like OxyContin manufacturer Perdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy last month to try to implement a settlement. Still others, like Johnson & Johnson, are ready to settle and put a cap on the total liability. Johnson & Johnson released a statement that it would “remain open to viable options to resolve these cases, including through settlement.”

What Do You Think?

Do you believe the big drug companies should settle for billions? Do you think that’s enough? What would you include in the settlement? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Toxic Algae Blooms May Be Worse Than We Thought, Scientists Say

Toxic Algae Blooms May Be Worse Than We Thought, Scientists Say - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Potentially toxic algae blooms in freshwater lakes all over the world – including many in Wisconsin – have become much more intense over the past 30 years. Even worse, rising temperatures make it harder for lakes to bounce back, paving the way for more toxic blooms and creating a cycle that’s going to be difficult to get out of.

The Wisconsin DNR advises people not to swim during a blue-green algae bloom, which can cause illness or death in people and pets. Some of the symptoms of toxicity from these blooms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle weakness and difficulty breathing – and those carry over to pets, as well.

Blue-green algae, a form of Cyanobacteria, is basically what you call “pond scum.” It doesn’t have to be blue-green, either. It’s been recorded as blue, green, reddish-purple and brown, as well. This type of bacteria grows well in lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams, especially when the water is warm. It grows quickly, creating floating mats of algae. Usually, these blooms occur between mid-June and late September in Wisconsin, but as temperatures rise, we’re likely to see them earlier and later in the year.

These toxic blooms aren’t confined to Wisconsin. They’re becoming more widespread all over the world, putting hundreds of aquatic species (as well as humans and other animals) in danger. The booms cost the U.S. about $4 billion annually because they damage drinking water, agriculture and the tourism industry.

What Do You Think?

Have you seen a blue-green algae bloom in a lake or pond near your house? Please feel free to share your photos with us on social media so others know what to look for – and share your thoughts about these toxic blooms on my Facebook page or chime in on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Couple Given Accidental Bank Deposit Accused of Massive Spending Spree

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

What would you do if your bank accidentally deposited $120,000 in your account?

According to Montoursville, Penn. police, a couple who received the “lucky” windfall went on a spending spree, burning through the cash by purchasing items like an SUV, all-terrain vehicles and a camper, paying bills and giving money to friends.

BB&T Bank contacted the couple in June to let them know there had been a huge – and costly – mistake. The bank told the pair that they were responsible for repaying it, but the couple didn’t return the bank’s money.

The money, which was supposed to have been deposited to an investment firm, ended up in the Williams’ account after a bank teller made an error. The bank says it made several attempts to contact the couple, and Tiffany Williams allegedly admitted that they’d spent the cash. According to the bank, she said she would talk to her husband and put together a repayment plan, which BB&T also says it was willing to do.

But then the Williams’ stopped responding to the bank.

So BB&T went to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Now, Robert and Tiffany Williams are each facing four counts of felony theft in Pennsylvania. Each is punishable by 10 years in prison, so if they’re convicted, it could cost them much more than restitution.

“All I’m going to say is we took some bad legal advice from some people and it probably wasn’t the best thing in the end,” Robert Williams told WNEP, a local TV station.

“During the investigation, the Williams’ admitted they were aware that the money deposited in their account did not belong to them and that they had made numerous purchases with that money,” according to a statement from state police.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you’d do if the bank accidentally deposited a huge sum of money in your account. Who would you call first – friends and family or the bank? Please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

Celebrity Parents Get Light Sentences After College Admissions Scandal

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

Actress Felicity Huffman, who was caught in a college admissions scandal earlier this year that involved bribing coaches and falsifying test scores, was sentenced to 14 days in prison in mid-September. Huffman was found guilty of inflating her daughter’s SAT score to get her into college, and a federal judge sentenced her to serve her two-week sentence in a federal prison.

Huffman is the first parent to face punishment in the scandal, but she won’t be the last. Nearly three dozen other parents have been accused of lying and bribing officials to get their kids into prestigious universities across the U.S.

Compared to the sentences that other parents convicted of education fraud, Huffman’s might seem light. For example, Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for using her dad’s address to get her kids into a suburban school near Cleveland (although her sentence was later reduced). However, Huffman’s attorney argued that imprisonment wasn’t necessary because she’d already “suffered considerably” by being publicly shamed, losing her acting career and facing her daughter’s anger.

At her sentencing hearing, Huffman cried and said she deeply regretted her part in the scheme; she originally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which is a felony.

Huffman is supposed to report to a federal prison to carry out her sentence in November. The judge also ordered a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service.

What Do You Think?

Did you follow the college admissions scandal as it unfolded? What do you think of Felicity Huffman’s sentence? Is it long enough, or is it just a slap on the wrist for something that would land other parents in serious hot water? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week

U.S. Reeling From 3 Mass Shootings in One Week - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

So far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the United States than there have been days. As of this writing, there were 252 mass shootings – those with more than three deaths in a single incident in a public place – across the country.

Is this the new “normal” in the U.S.?

With some people blaming violent video games rather than racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, despite the fact that there are no connections between video games and mass shootings, it appears that there’s no end in sight – at least until lawmakers come up with a solution that crosses to both sides of the aisle.

Some blame the National Rifle Association for so rigidly defending individuals’ rights to possess and carry military-grade weapons.

But the NRA is quickly falling out of favor after decades of non-response to these types of killings, though, according to a Fox News poll that says 47 percent of Americans hold an “unfavorable view of the NRA,” while only 42 percent view the organization favorably.

The NRA does not support mandatory background checks. The Washington Post reported that Wayne La Pierre, the organization’s chief executive, told the U.S. president that expanding background checks would hurt his support among his base of supporters. However, an overwhelming number of people interviewed in the Fox News survey – 90 percent, in fact – said they support background checks on all gun sales. Perhaps even more surprising is that 67 percent of respondents said they support a ban on automatic weapons and assault rifles.

And now, one-third of Americans avoid certain places and events because they’re afraid of mass shootings. The majority of American adults – 79 percent – experience “some amount of stress” related to mass shootings.

Because lawmakers have failed to take any action other than sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, companies are starting to capitalize on the very real fears that many American parents have when they kiss their kids goodbye before school: They’re making bulletproof backpacks. In fact, 62 percent of parents said they “live in fear” of their children becoming victims of a mass shooting. Many people believe that someone they know will be the victim of such violence, tallying up to 60 percent of black Americans, 50 percent of Hispanic Americans and 41 percent of white Americans.

What Do You Think?

Do you support mandatory background checks on firearms purchases? Would you back the president if he supported them as well? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Child Body-Slammed for “Disrespecting” National Anthem

Child Body-Slammed for Leaving Hat On During National Anthem - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

A Montana Army veteran body-slammed a 13-year-old boy for not removing his hat during the National Anthem, causing serious injury to the child.

Police arrested and charged Curt Brockway, a 39-year-old man at the Mineral County Rodeo, with felony assault on a minor.

Brockway told police that the boy had a hat on when the anthem began, and that he asked the boy to remove it. He alleged that the boy responded with profanity, and then admits to grabbing the boy by the throat, lifting him into the air, and slamming him on the ground head-first.

The child suffered a concussion and a fractured skull, and his ears were bleeding at the scene. He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane.

Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, says the man has problems with impulse control as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Jasper says that Brockway takes the president’s comments, such as those saying athletes should be fired for kneeling during the anthem and that people who burn the U.S. flag should be punished.

Jasper also claims that Brockway didn’t know it was a crime to attack a child, and that he believes he was acting on the president’s orders.

“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear,” Jasper said. “I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president. … Everyone should learn to dial it down a little bit, from the president to Mineral County.”

Brockway’s alleged traumatic brain injury is from a vehicle crash in 2000, not the result of his time in the Army. He’s currently a registered violent offender as a result of a 2010 conviction for assault with a weapon.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

The Hong Kong Protests: What You Need to Know

Hong Kong Protests - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Pro-democracy protestors and demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Hong Kong all summer, leading to repeated clashes with the city’s police and security forces. Activity was so dangerous that officials closed the Hong Kong Airport, one of the busiest in the world, for two days in mid-August when protestors blocked access to the main terminal.

So why are activists protesting? It’s a bit more complicated than it seems on the surface.

Hong Kong is officially part of China, which recognizes its right to govern itself under the “one country, two systems” principle. Hong Kong regulates its own financial system, legal system and economy, but it agrees that it’s part of “one, reunified China,” and it’s been that way since 1997, when the U.K. relinquished control over the territory.

The Beijing-backed Hong Kong government proposed an extradition law that would’ve allowed it to deport residents and foreigners from Hong Kong. Protestors fear that Beijing could use the law to apprehend people in Hong Kong and transfer them to mainland China, where due process isn’t always followed – and the criminal justice system often lacks transparency.

Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the bill “dead” on July 9, after several marches and violent protests, critics say that the bill can be brought back to life because it hasn’t been officially withdrawn.

Protests have grown in an attempt to garner international attention – and it’s working. Black-clad protestors caused the airport to cancel hundreds of flights, making news all over the world – but at the same time, protestors accused some people of being Chinese spies and tied them up, all on the international stage. That gave China new ammunition in the so-called “battle for public opinion,” and now everyone’s wondering if China will send in its massive army to stop the protests.

China has moved military vehicles to Shenzen, the city closest to Hong Kong, and soldiers are conducting training drills there that involve simulated protestors and police.

What Do You Think?

Have you been following the protests in Hong Kong? What do you think will happen next? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino

Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Raises Questions

Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Raises Questions - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed suicide as he awaited trial in federal prison in mid-August – but conspiracy theorists are scratching their heads… and they’re not alone. It’s tough to find someone in America (or elsewhere) that doesn’t have an opinion on whether Epstein actually killed himself or he was murdered.

So what really happened?

New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, is “confident” that Epstein committed suicide. His family hired a private pathologist, who was also present during the autopsy.

Epstein was being held without bail on new charges related to sex trafficking (he’d been convicted in 2007 for other sex offenses, when he served 13 months in a county jail). If he’d been convicted of the sex trafficking charges, Epstein faced up to 45 years in prison.

Since his death, details about his lifestyle have emerged – and some, such as his painting of Bill Clinton in a blue dress wearing red heels and his taxidermied poodle atop a piano – are more than a bit eccentric.

Despite Sampson’s confidence that Epstein died by suicide, conspiracy theorists (and people who claim not to buy into conspiracy theories) are speculating – with some high-profile Americans even going so far as to retweet QAnon theories about the “deep state” orchestrating his death. Some are blaming the Clintons, some are blaming the current president of the U.S., and others are blaming everyone ever remotely connected to Epstein, including Courtney Love, Alan Dershowitz, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and David Koch.

What Do You Think?

Do you think Epstein really killed himself, or do you believe that there was foul play involved? I’d love to hear what you think about this, so please share your thoughts on either of my social media pages:

Carlos Gamino