National briefs: DEA paidfor train data

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WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network, The Associated Press has learned.

The employee was not publicly identified except as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” in a report on the incident by Amtrak’s inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who “regularly” sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak’s approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.

On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden declined to comment.

Postal Service’s losses

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service continued to bleed money during its second quarter, despite an increase in package revenues and an emergency price hike that took effect in January.

The agency said Monday that it lost $2 billion from April to June, compared with a net loss of $740 million in the same period last year, and a $1.9 billion loss in its first quarter.

Feds: Beware bitcoin

WASHINGTON — Government regulators issued a consumer advisory Monday on the risks of bitcoin and other digital currencies, warning that the virtual funds expose users to volatile exchange rates, hacking, scams and theft.

Markups and transaction fees for digital funds such as bitcoin, XRP and Dogecoin can cost consumers more than using credit cards or regular cash, and the companies that issue digital currencies aren’t backed or insured by any government, according to the six-page alert from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal watchdog agency.

Ebola quarantining

DURHAM, N.C. — The hus­band of an Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary hos­pi­tal­ized with the deadly Ebola vi­rus is among three mis­sion­ar­ies who were quar­an­tined as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure af­ter ar­riv­ing in Char­lotte, N.C., Sun­day night, the North Car­o­lina-based SIM USA an­nounced Mon­day.

David Write­bol was placed in quar­an­tine on a pri­vate sec­tion of SIM USA’s cam­pus in Char­lotte. He is the hus­band of Nancy Write­bol, one of two Amer­i­cans be­ing treated for Ebola at Emory Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal in At­lanta. David Write­bol ar­rived with two other mis­sion­ar­ies, de­scribed as doc­tors who have treated Ebola pa­tients at SIM USA’s hos­pi­tal in Mon­ro­via, Libe­ria.

New wildfire alert

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dozens of new wildfires could break out across West Coast states Monday and into Tuesday, officials warned, just as crews begin to get a handle on conflagrations that have burned more than 500,000 acres in California, Washington and Oregon.

Several dozen major fires still threaten more than 1,000 homes in the three states, fire officials said.

Nanny bilked family

WASHINGTON — A Maryland nanny who stole $431,542 from her employers to gamble and buy a house in Africa pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges, prosecutors said.

Kadiatu Sahid Kamara, 50, of Gaithersburg had access to checks linked to a married couple's money market account while she was caring for their children, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.


— Compiled from news services


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