TIME stocks

Dow Jumps After Fed Pledges Patience in Rate Hikes

Dow Jones Average Follows Foreign Markets And Closes Lower
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of Dec. 9, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The Dow Jones industrial average surged as much as 300 points after the Federal Reserve signaled it was edging closer to raising interest rates because of a strengthening U.S. economy, but promised to be “patient” in its approach.

The Fed says this approach is consistent with what it called its “previous” guidance that it expected to keep the rate near zero for a “considerable time.”

The Dow was up 288 points, or 1.7 percent, to 17,356 when markets closed Thursday. It rose as much as 303 points shortly after the announcement.

The Fed gave no specific guidance on when the first rate hike might occur.

TIME Crime

14 Charged in Deadly Meningitis Outbreak in 2012

(BOSTON) — In the biggest criminal case ever brought in the U.S. over contaminated medicine, 14 former owners or employees of a Massachusetts pharmacy were charged Wednesday in connection with a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people.

The nationwide outbreak was traced to tainted drug injections manufactured by the now-closed New England Compounding Pharmacy of Framingham.

Barry Cadden, a co-founder of the business, and Glenn Adam Chin, a pharmacist who was in charge of the sterile room, were hit with the most serious charges, accused in a federal racketeering indictment of causing the deaths of 25 patients in seven states by “acting in wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood” of death or great bodily harm.

Among other things, Cadden, Chin and others are accused of using expired ingredients, failing to properly sterilize drugs and failing to test them to make sure they were pure. The other defendants were charged with such crimes as fraud and interstate sale of adulterated drugs.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said NECC was “filthy” and failed to comply with even basic health standards, and employees knew it. For example, she said, they falsified logs on when labs were cleaned.

“Production and profit were prioritized over safety,” Ortiz said.

More than 750 people in 20 states were sickened — about half of them with a rare fungal form of meningitis, the rest with joint or spinal infections — and 64 died. The steroids given were for medical purposes, not for bodybuilding; most patients received the injections for back pain.

In reaction to the outbreak, Congress last year increased federal oversight of so-called compounding pharmacies like NECC, which custom-mix medications in bulk and supply them directly to hospitals and doctors.

Linda Nedroscik of Howell, Michigan, said her husband, John, survived the tainted injection. But she said the 64-year-old “still struggles, has nightmares.”

“It’s hard to say it’s a relief because it doesn’t change anything for us in our physical lives,” she said of the indictment, “but it takes a burden off emotionally.”

Chin’s lawyer, Stephen Weymouth, said he was stunned that prosecutors charged his client with second-degree murder under the racketeering law.

“He feels hugely remorseful for everything that’s happened — for the injuries and the deaths — but he never intended to cause harm to anybody,” Weymouth said. “It seems to be a bit of an overreach.”

Messages were left for lawyers for 11 other defendants. Lawyers for two defendants could not immediately be located.

After the outbreak came to light, regulators found a host of potential contaminants at the pharmacy, including standing water, mold and dirty equipment. The business filed for bankruptcy after it was bombarded with hundreds of lawsuits from victims or their.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Delery said the defendants showed “not only a reckless disregard for federal health and safety regulations, but also an extreme and appalling disregard for human life.”

“Every patient should have the peace of mind knowing that their medications are safe,” he said.

Gregory Conigliaro, another co-founder, was among 12 of the 14 arrested at their homes around the state. Chin had been charged with mail fraud in September.

All those charged were expected to make an initial court appearance later Wednesday.

NECC was founded in 1998 by brothers-in-law Cadden and Conigliaro. Cadden earned a pharmacy degree from the University of Rhode Island. Conigliaro is an engineer.

___

Associated Press Writer Jeff Karoub reported from Detroit.

TIME Turkey

Tourist Dies in Hot Air Balloon Accident in Turkey

(ISTANBUL) — A hot air balloon fell in the popular tourist region of Cappadocia on Wednesday, killing a Chinese tourist and injuring six other passengers from China and Malaysia, the region’s governor said.

Gov. Mehmet Ceylan said a sudden change of wind direction appeared to have caused the balloon — which took off from Goreme — to make a rough landing. The exact cause of the accident was under investigation, he added.

The injured tourists were hospitalized but were not in life-threatening condition, he said.

Dozens of hot air balloons carry tourists aloft most mornings in Goreme to watch the sunrise over the world-renowned landscape of geological formations in the area.

Three Brazilian tourists were killed last year when two balloons collided in flight over the Cappadocia region.

TIME Crime

Mom Charged With Murder After Babies’ Bodies Found

Erika Murray
Erika Murray enters a courtroom for her arraignment at Uxbridge District Court in Uxbridge, Mass., on Sept. 12, 2014 Paul Kapteyn—AP

The house was infested with rodents and insects, piled high with dirty diapers and contained dead animals

(WORCESTER, Mass.) — A woman was indicted on two murder charges after the skeletal remains of three babies were found in her squalid home in September, a district attorney announced Tuesday.

Thirty-one-year-old Erika Murray has been held on $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to earlier charges, including fetal death concealment.

“I have never seen anything like the facts in this case,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said at a news conference Tuesday to discuss the indictments against Murray and her live-in boyfriend Raymond Rivera, 38, the children’s father, who was charged with child abuse. “Everyone who went into that house, to a person, said they’d never seen anything like it.”

Murray’s attorney, Keith Halpern, said Tuesday he’s disappointed prosecutors decided to upgrade the charges.

“There’s no evidence that she did anything to cause the death of any of these infants,” Halpern said. “There’s no evidence of how they died.”

The couple’s four children, ranging from 5 months to 13 years old, were removed from the house in Blackstone in late August and placed in state custody after one of the older children went to a neighbor for help with a crying baby. Prosecutors said the 5-month-old and a 3-year-old were found covered in their own feces and had been severely neglected.

Police later searched the house and found the babies’ remains in bedroom closets.

The house was infested with rodents and insects, piled high with dirty diapers and contained dead animals. Workers in hazmat suits spent days cleaning out the house, which was later demolished. It was owned by Rivera’s sister.

Rivera is charged with child abuse and neglect related to the two younger children. Prosecutors said DNA showed he is the father of all seven.

Rivera pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a child, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of animal cruelty and one count of illegally growing marijuana. His bail was set at $100,000.

Rivera had said he lived in the basement and had no idea what was going on in the rest of the house, but a prosecutor said at his arraignment that Rivera slept with Murray every night in a room near where the younger children were.

Murray also was indicted on two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of cruelty to animals and one count of concealing a fetal death. The murder charges relate to the bodies of two infants found wearing diapers and one-piece infant outfits.

Halpern has said Murray has mental health issues and that she told police she found one of the babies dead after she put the child down for a nap.

Murray is to be arraigned Dec. 29. Rivera has a pretrial conference Jan. 14.

TIME Congress

Congress Approves Sweeping Legislation to Help America’s Disabled

(WASHINGTON) — Congress gave final approval Tuesday to the most sweeping legislation to help the disabled in a quarter century, allowing Americans with disabilities to open tax-free bank accounts to pay for needs such as education, housing and health care.

The move paves the way for creation of the accounts beginning next year for as many as 54 million disabled people and their families.

“This is a monumental, landmark bill,” said Sara Hart Weir, interim president of the National Down Syndrome Society. “This bill will change the way that families can save for all their children and adults with Down syndrome and will ease the unnecessary burdens that are placed on families — all while allowing people with Down syndrome to work and save for the future.”

The Democratic-led Senate passed the measure on a 76-16 vote after it was attached to a bill extending dozens of tax breaks for individuals and businesses until the end of the year. Earlier this month, the GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly approved the measure, having garnered 85 percent of Congress as co-sponsors.

The bill, called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Modeled after tax-free college savings accounts, the ABLE bill would amend the federal tax code to allow states to establish the program.

To qualify, a person would have to be diagnosed by age 26 with a disability that results in “marked and severe functional limitations”; those who are already receiving Social Security disability benefits would also qualify. Families would be able to set up tax-free accounts at financial institutions, depositing up to $14,000 annually to pay for long-term needs such as education, transportation and health care.

The contributions would be in after-tax dollars but earnings would grow tax-free.

The ABLE accounts would be able to accrue up to $100,000 in savings without the person losing eligibility for government aid such as Social Security; currently, the asset limit is $2,000. Medicaid coverage would continue no matter how much money is deposited in the accounts.

It would be the first major legislation for the disabled since the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

The measure was sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Many lawmakers had insisted on cuts or revenue increases to offset the measure’s $2 billion price tag over 10 years; the bill’s sponsors found the savings in part by increasing the amount of levies on property for tax-delinquent Medicare providers and suppliers; cutting Medicare funding for “vacuum erection systems”; and making technical adjustments to cap worker’s compensation.

The conservative Heritage Foundation criticized the bill as potentially promoting fraud and abuse, especially when it came to hard-to-diagnose mental disabilities.

TIME Football

Brain-Injury Program Working With NFL Players

(LANSING, Mich.) — A brain-injury treatment program originally designed for military veterans injured on the battlefield has been updated to include professional athletes.

Representatives with the Eisenhower Center announced Tuesday that it will be the primary facility used by the NFL Players Association for treating brain injuries and other neurological issues through the After the Impact program.

The residential neuro-rehabilitation facility is based in Ann Arbor.

The program provides intense treatment for soldiers and athletes recovering from concussions, mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems. It evolved from the Eisenhower Center’s transitional treatment program to help military members deal with brain injuries.

The NFL expects 6,000 of nearly 20,000 retired players — or 28 percent — to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or at least moderate dementia someday. Former players have sued.

Current Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria and former quarterback Eric Hipple attended Tuesday’s announcement.

“Nearly one-third of all retired NFL players will suffer from a long-term cognitive problem,” Hipple said. “The players and veterans who have gone through the After the Impact program have learned a lot from each other and helped each other on the path to recovery.”

The NFL last month urged a judge to approve an estimated $1 billion settlement of concussion lawsuits despite concerns raised by former players or survivors who felt left out. The 65-year fund would resolve thousands of lawsuits that accuse the NFL of long hiding what it knew about concussions and brain injuries to keep players on the field.

The issue is a significant one in hockey too. In October, a consolidated class-action lawsuit by former NHL players against the league over concussion-related injuries was filed in federal court.

TIME celebrities

Bill Cosby Won’t Be Charged Over L.A. Molestation Claim

(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file any charges against Bill Cosby after a woman recently claimed the comedian molested her around 1974.

The rejection of a child sexual abuse charge by prosecutors came roughly 10 days after the woman, Judy Huth, met with Los Angeles police detectives for 90 minutes.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office rejected filing a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18 because the statute of limitations had passed.

Days before Huth spoke to police, she accused Cosby in a civil lawsuit of forcing her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom of the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old. Cosby’s attorney said that Huth attempted to extort $250,000 from the comedian before she sued and that she’d attempted to sell her story to a tabloid a decade ago.

Cosby is seeking a dismissal of Huth’s lawsuit, arguing it is blocked by the statute of limitations.

Huth told police that Cosby molested her and that she had no further contact with him after the incident, according to a summary of her allegations included with the prosecutor’s decision.

In rejecting the case, prosecutors evaluated the charge Cosby would have faced in 1974. Prosecutors took into account legislative changes that extend the statute of limitations for certain crimes, but found no way that Cosby could be legally prosecuted.

The statute of limitations for filing a misdemeanor case is one year; the statute of limitations for a felony sex crime committed in 1974 was three years, according to the prosecutors’ analysis.

An email message sent to Huth’s attorney, Gloria Allred, was not immediately returned. Cosby’s attorney, Marty Singer, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Huth is one of at least 15 women who have come forward since early November with claims that Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago. Most of the women say they were drugged before they were assaulted. She is one of two women suing Cosby; a second woman is suing for defamation.

Cosby has never been charged in connection with any of the allegations. A 2005 lawsuit by a Pennsylvania woman was settled before it went to trial.

Since the allegations emerged, Cosby’s career has unraveled, with nearly a dozen performances canceled in his ongoing standup comedy tour. NBC has said it will not move forward with a Cosby sitcom that was under development, and Netflix indefinitely postponed a special that was set to premiere last month.

Cosby’s attorneys have denied some of the allegations and dismissed others as decades old and “discredited.”

___

Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

TIME Boston

Gay Vets Can March in Boston St. Patrick’s Parade for 1st Time Ever

(BOSTON) — For the first time in its history, the sponsors of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will allow a group representing the gay community to participate, drawing cheers from Mayor Martin Walsh, who boycotted the event last year over the exclusion.

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which has long resisted the inclusion of gay groups and won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1995 upholding their right to ban them from the annual parade that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, voted 5-4 on Monday night to allow the group OutVets to march in the parade scheduled for March 15.

They will be allowed to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military and six vertical rainbow stripes. The group represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and participated in the city’s Veterans Day parade last month.

“Mayor Walsh has been advocating for an inclusive parade for quite some time,” spokeswoman Kate Norton said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re thrilled to hear that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council has decided to make the 2015 parade an inclusive event.”

OutVets is being allowed to participate because of their members’ military service, and sexual orientation was irrelevant in the vote, said Brian Mahoney, commander of the veterans council. The parade is meant to honor veterans and Irish-American heritage, and OutVets met the criteria, he said.

“It was a group of vets who wanted to march and we said ‘Yeah,’ ” he said Tuesday.

Bryan Bishop, OutVets founder and a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, said he was “ecstatic” with the vote and agreed that the decision was based primarily on veteran status.

“We’re marching as veterans who happen to be gay,” said Bishop, who works as chief of staff in Boston’s Veterans Services agency. “We honor the sacrifices of LGBT veterans and their families and the sacrifices all veterans.”

Parade organizers have long resisted the inclusion of gay groups, and some members of the council continue to hold out.

Lead organizer Philip Wuschke Jr. said the vote was illegal because there was no quorum.

“I’m sending a letter to the commander saying he held an illegal meeting and an illegal vote,” Wuschke said. “He did not follow the bylaws of the council.”

Mahoney disputed that. “I feel safe in saying that last night’s vote was legal,” he said.

Gov.-elect Charlie Baker said Tuesday that the decision was in the spirit of a parade that began as a celebration by veterans.

“Giving a veterans group like that an opportunity to march in the parade is a good thing,” Baker said.

State courts forced parade sponsors to allow the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston to march in the parade in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, the sponsors canceled the parade rather than allow the group to participate.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1995 that Massachusetts courts had previously violated the parade sponsors’ First Amendment rights when they forced them to allow the group to participate.

The parade, which organizers say has been held since 1901, was in negotiations last year to allow the LGBT group MassEquality to march, but things fell apart at the last moment, and Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, boycotted the parade. Other top Massachusetts politicians have for decades refused to participate in the parade because the exclusion of gay groups.

TIME ebola

Massachusetts Doctor Cured of Ebola Will Return to Liberia

Richard Sacra
Former Ebola patient Dr. Richard Sacra participates in a news conference at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 25, 2014. Nati Harnik—AP

Sacra plans to return to the same clinic where he contracted Ebola in August

(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts doctor cured of Ebola said Tuesday that he’s returning to Liberia, the West African country where he contracted the virus, in January to resume working at a medical mission.

Dr. Richard Sacra said that he plans to spend four weeks at ELWA Hospital, a clinic outside Monrovia where he had contracted the deadly virus in August.

Sacra spent weeks in treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital before returning home on Sept. 25. The University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty member has worked in medical missions in Liberia for more than 20 years, including the North Carolina-based charity SIM, which founded ELWA Hospital.

Sacra, who was one of at least 10 people so far treated for Ebola in the U.S., says he “feels great” and that doctors have said he’s now effectively immune to Ebola, which has no vaccine.

“I’m not hearing a lot of pushback from home,” Sacra said. “I’ve been working there for years, and my risk at this point is no different than it was before because I’m immune to Ebola.”

Sacra has said he’s not sure exactly when he became infected. He had been caring for pregnant women not suspected to have Ebola and delivering babies, including performing several cesarean sections.

He said ELWA Hospital, which stands for Eternal Love Winning Africa, has changed its protocols following his illness.

“Even if we haven’t suspected Ebola in that patient, we’re now wearing full protective gear at our facility for deliveries,” he said. “When we’re doing surgeries, we’re now getting bleached down at the end, which we weren’t doing before.”

Sacra, who expressed a desire to return to Liberia almost as soon as he recovered, made the comments following a Tuesday news conference at the Statehouse announcing a $1 million state grant to help develop a faster, more accurate test for diagnosing Ebola.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the investment, made through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public state agency, will assure the state and its major research institutions will play a central role in saving many lives from Ebola, which has killed 6,400 people during the most recent outbreak in West Africa.

TIME Crime

Family of John Crawford Files Lawsuit Over Fatal Walmart Shooting

John Crawford III, Tressa Sherrod
This undated photo provided by the family of John Crawford III shows Crawford, right, with his mother, Tressa Sherrod. Family of John Crawford III—AP

He was shot Aug. 5 inside the store in the Dayton suburb

(CINCINNATI) — The family of a black man fatally shot by a white police officer as he held an air rifle inside a Wal-Mart filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday charging negligence and violation of the man’s civil rights.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton against the city of Beavercreek in suburban Dayton, the two Beavercreek officers involved, the police chief and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

John Crawford III was shot Aug. 5 inside the store in the Dayton suburb. Police responded after a 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a firearm.

A grand jury concluded the shooting was justified.

“All we want is justice for John Crawford,” the family’s attorney, Michael Wright said at a news conference Tuesday.

Crawford’s family has said previously that it was “incomprehensible” that police weren’t indicted.

Wright said the criminal justice system has so far refused to hold the officers accountable and it is necessary for the civil justice system to do so.

Messages left seeking comment from Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart and Beavercreek city attorney Steve McHugh, who has served as a spokesman for the city and police, were not immediately returned.

The lawsuit charges that all the parties were guilty of negligence and that the officers were guilty of recklessness and depriving Crawford of his constitutional rights, including the right to be free of unreasonable seizures and excessive use of force. The lawsuit also alleges that Wal-Mart was negligent in the placement of guns at its store and for failing to secure the air rifle.

The lawsuit seeks at damages of at least $75,000, but that amount could change as the case proceeds, the attorneys said.

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