College Admissions Scandal, Catholic Official Sentenced to Prison, and Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 – 9 News Stories You Need to Know

College admissions cheating scandal


Federal authorities have charged 50 people, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, in a nationwide college admissions scandal that went on for years. The Justice Department says the multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admission through bribes and deceit is the “largest college admission scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” The scandal allegedly involved two Hollywood actresses, numerous business executives, school officials, and other affluent, well-connected individuals.


Here’s how the scheme worked:


At the center of the plot is William “Rick” Singer, who ran a for-profit college counseling business as a facade to accept bribes from wealthy parents who wanted to get their kids into prestigious colleges. Singer would help the children of his clients by either tampering with their SAT or ACT test scores or by bribing sports coaches to recruit them regardless of their athletic ability. Prosecutors said 33 parents “paid enormous sums,” ranging between $200,000 and $6.5 million for Singer’s services that included “fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials,” according to Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. Parents would pay Singer to arrange for someone to take the SAT or ACT in place of their child or subsequently “fix” their scores by correcting answers. Additionally, Singer would also create a false athletic profile for students, often using Photoshop and stock images, and then bribe college coaches to recruit the student, even if he or she hadn’t even played the sport. In the scheme that was carried out from 2011 through February 2019, Singer raked in a total of $25 million, a portion of which would go to bribe college officials, exam administrators, and athletic coaches to help facilitate the crimes. Over three dozen people in multiple states were taken into custody in connection to the scandal.


The people and schools involved:


Those charged with crimes in the scheme include Lori Loughlin, actress from “Full House,” and Felicity Huffman, who starred in “Desperate Housewives.” Others include CEOs of both public and private companies, investors, college sports coaches, a well-known fashion designer, and a co-chairman of a worldwide law firm, according to Lelling.


Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, UCLA, USC, University of Texas, Boston College, Boston University, and Wake Forest were just some of the schools directly named in the scandal. The universities are not a target of the investigation and it appears they did not know of the scheme being conducted behind the scenes, according to authorities. However, numerous sports coaches and one associate athletic director were fired today from their respective schools after being charged with crimes today.


Vatican official convicted of child sex abuse


Cardinal George Pell, 77, has been sentenced to six years in prison for child sex abuse, becoming the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to ever be convicted of such crimes. The Australian church official who once served as a senior adviser to Pope Francis, was convicted for the assault of two choirboys in the late 1990s.


Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 grounded around the world


Boeing continues to face backlash over its 737 MAX 8 aircraft after the list of countries and airlines grounding the aircraft has grown considerably since Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash. The entire European Union (including the U.K., France, and Germany), Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand have joined the latest list of countries that have banned the plane from its airspace due to safety concerns. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 experienced two fatal crashes in less than 5 months. The FAA has found “no basis” to ground the plane in the United States despite an increasing number of lawmakers calling for the aircraft to be placed out of service. The FAA has also ignored precautionary steps taken by regulators in Europe and Asia to cease flights of the aircraft. President Trump spoke with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and afterward, expressed confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX 8.


  • A Norwegian Airlines 737 MAX 8 plane bound for Israel was forced to divert mid-flight back to Stockholm, Sweden, after Europe banned the plane from its airspace.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who oversees the FAA, was spotted by fellow passengers on a Washington, D.C.-bound Southwest Airlines 737 MAX 8 from Austin, Texas.


US Removes Embassy Personnel from Venezuela


The U.S. is withdrawing all diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, amid turmoil in the country under the regime of President Nicolás Maduro. The move was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter, citing the “deteriorating situation in Venezuela” and that U.S. personnel at the embassy has “become a constraint on U.S. policy.” The announcement will likely increase diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and President Maduro’s government, as the unpopular leader is facing pressure from an American-backed coalition and other countries to step down. As for Venezuela, the poverty-stricken country is entering the sixth day of a wide-spread power outage, where public offices, schools, and businesses remain closed, and no working water pumps in some neighborhoods have forced dozens to seek out sewage drains for water. Venezuela has faced an ever-growing economic and political crisis since 2013, where increasing poverty, a falling GDP, chronic food shortages, and consolidating government power has plagued the nation.


Google paid $135 million in sexual harassment settlements to two employees


Google agreed to pay a whopping $135 million in exit packages to two company executives who left after being accused of sexual harassment. A complaint filed in a lawsuit said former Google executives Andy Rubin, who oversaw Android software development, and Amit Singha, who lead the search department, left in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Among the several accusations against Rubin, he is accused by an employee into pressuring her into oral sex, while Amit Singha allegedly groped another female employee. Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, is said in the lawsuit to have approved the $135 million payment with little disagreement.


Massive cocaine bust


Federal agents have made a record-breaking cocaine bust in New York, in fact, it was the largest seizure in a quarter century. Nearly 3,200 pounds of coke worth $77 million arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey on February 28th, which had been found stashed in a shipping container behind boxes of dried fruit on a cargo ship. The source of the drugs appears to be from Latin America as the ship had arrived in Newark from Buena Ventura, Colombia, and was bound for Antwerp, Belgium. The DEA is currently investigating several organizations who may be responsible for the illicit cargo.


Florida police officer resigns after using databases to find dates


A former Florida police officer resigned after being accused of using law enforcement resources, including access to a federal database, to find women he could date. Officer Leonel Marines of the Bradenton Police Department allegedly used his access to a database to contact about 150 women, finding them on social media, calling them via phone, and even visiting some at their homes while he was on duty. Authorities said Marines, a 12-year veteran of the department, primarily targeted Hispanic women and experienced some success when they first learned of his activity in June 2018. The FBI is conducting an investigation into the matter.


Captain Marvel breaks movie records


Captain Marvel, Marvel’s newest film, has broken records as it becomes the highest-grossing movie with a female lead ever. The film stars Brie Larson and earned $455 million worldwide on its opening weekend, easily surpassing other female-led movies like 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman.


Happy Birthday to the Internet


Today marks the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web. English software engineer Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea in the 1980s while working at a physics lab in Switzerland, where he wanted to create a universal way to access information stored on separate computers. This simple idea forever revolutionized how the world would pretty much do everything.



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