His doping confession could mean more legal trouble for Lance Armstrong, who already faces several civil lawsuits, including a federal whistle-blower case filed in 2010 by his former teammate Floyd Landis. The New York Times reports Landis said Armstrong and several team officials from Armstrong’s United States Postal Service cycling team defrauded the government by allowing doping on the squad when the team’s contract with the Postal Service explicitly forbade it. Armstrong and his lawyers have been negotiating with the government to settle the case, with Armstrong offering a payment of $5 million, while the government is asking for much more than that, said one person with knowledge of the discussions. That person did not want to be identified because the case is under seal. Tim Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday. The government asked a judge for an extension Thursday to decide whether to join the case as a plaintiff and was granted it, the person said.
Genetic information stored anonymously in databases doesn’t always stay that way, a new study revealed, raising concern about how much privacy participants in research projects can expect in the Internet era. Tension has long existed between the need to share data to drive medical discoveries and the fact many people don’t want personal health information disclosed. The Wall Street Journal reports the growing use of genetic sequencing makes this even more challenging because genetic data reveals information not only about an individual, but also about his or her relatives. In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers were able to determine the identities of nearly 50 people who had submitted genetic information as part of scientific studies. The people were told that no identifying information would be included in the studies but were warned of the remote possibility that at some point in the future, their identities might become known. The public and scientific community are concerned about DNA privacy since they worry that genetic information—which can show susceptibility to certain diseases and other ailments—might be used by insurers, employers or others to discriminate against people.
Two members of a ring that sold fake Cuban birth certificates to undocumented immigrants, who then posed as Cuban refugees and applied for green cards, were sentenced to prison Thursday in Miami federal court. Under the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans who arrive in the United States without visas can stay in the country and apply for residency after a year and one day. To get a green card, Cuban migrants must show proof of Cuban citizenship.The ring’s clients were of various nationalities, including Argentines, Colombians, Costa Ricans, Mexicans, Peruvians, Salvadorans and Venezuelans. The scam has been happening in Florida for years but appears to be on the rise, immigration attorney Wilfredo Allen said. There are consequences beyond this particular case, according to Maite Hoyos, an immigration attorney in Miami. More and more, she said, authorities are asking her Cuban clients to prove the validity of their birth certificates — something, she says, that suggests that this type of fraud is on investigators’ radar.
Toyota Motor Corp. has settled what was to be the first in a group of hundreds of pending wrongful death and injury lawsuits involving sudden, unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles. Toyota reached the agreement in the case brought by the family of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd, spokeswoman Celeste Migliore said. They were killed when their Toyota Camry slammed into a wall in Utah in 2010. Toyota settled a previous wrongful death lawsuit for $10 million in 2010 before the current cases were consolidated in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. In the earlier case, a California Highway Patrol officer and three of his family members were killed in suburban San Diego in 2009 after their car, a Toyota-built Lexus, reached speeds of more than 120 mph, hit an SUV, launched off an embankment, rolled several times and burst into flames. Investigators determined that a wrong-size floor mat trapped the accelerator and caused the crash. That discovery spurred a series of recalls involving more than 14 million vehicles and a flood of lawsuits soon followed, with numerous complaints of accelerations in several models, and brake defects with the Prius hybrid. Toyota has blamed driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.
Since reopening the death investigation of Natalie Wood more 13 months ago, detectives have interviewed more than 100 witnesses and gathered new evidence. But the one person detectives are most interested in talking to has so far refused several requests for interviews, they said: Wood’s husband, actor Robert Wagner. Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said Wagner is the only person on the boat at the time Wood drowned off Catalina Island in 1981 not to speak to detectives assigned to the new examination.Wagner gave three interviews to detectives during the original investigation three decades ago. But Corina said the actor “changed his story over the years, as has the caretaker of the vessel.” Wood’s death was originally listed as an accident. But earlier this week, the L.A. County coroner’s office announced it had changed the cause of death to “undetermined.” A coroner’s report released Monday cited unexplained fresh bruising on the actress’ right forearm, left wrist and right knee, along with a scratch on her neck and a superficial scrape on her forehead. Officials said the wounds open the possibility that she was assaulted before drowning.