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Overwhelming Approval in ILA Master Contract Ratification Vote:  88% Said "Yes" and Every ILA Local Approved ILA Six-Year Agreement

International Longshoremen's Association /

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Chocolate Eggs Hatch Dangerous Surprise Toy for Children
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would like to remind the public that popular treats known as Kinder Chocolate Eggs are banned from importation into the United States because the unassembled small toy “surprise” inside poses a choking hazard for young children. Since 2010, CBP has made more than 3,176 seizures of Kinder Chocolate Eggs at international mail and express delivery facilities, in incoming commercial shipments, and from individual travelers entering the United States at airports and border ports.

“This is an excellent example of our efforts to protect children from dangerous and potentially life-threatening toys,” said CBP Chief Operating Officer Thomas S. Winkowski. “As the agency charged with protecting the nation’s borders, CBP collaborates with other agencies to ensure the public health and safety of the American people so children can enjoy holidays such as Easter.”

Kinder Chocolate Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs that are usually packaged in a colorful foil wrapper. Inside each egg is an oval plastic capsule that contains a different unassembled small toy. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that Kinder Chocolate Eggs violate small parts regulations for children under three. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously issued an import alert for Kinder Chocolate Eggs, since they are a non-nutritive confectionery product with an object imbedded in it.

Additional information regarding unsafe toys and product recall announcements can be found at CPSC’s website. Travelers are also encouraged to visit the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP website for more information regarding what items travelers can legally bring into the United States. ( Know Before You Go )

The CTAC combines resources and personnel from various government agencies to protect the American public from harm caused by unsafe imported products. For additional information on the CTAC, please visit their webisite. ( Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center

CBP Seizes Thousands of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Jamaica, N.Y. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized approximately 150,000 counterfeit and prohibited pharmaceuticals in a three-day operation at the international mail facility at John F. Kennedy Airport in early March.

“The men and women of CBP protect our nation’s economy, the safety of its people, and our national security against the harm of counterfeit goods,” said Robert E. Perez, Director of Field Operations in New York. “These interceptions are indicative of the benefit of combining the industry expertise of the CEEs with the experience of our CBP officers.”

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized pharmaceuticals was $1.9 million. The seizures reflect CBP’s ongoing efforts to enhance enforcement efforts against the importation of pharmaceuticals that pose health and safety risks to American consumers.

Staff from CBP’s Pharmaceutical, Health and Chemicals Center of Excellence and Expertise in New York worked side-by side with CBP officers at the mail facility and agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations to target and examine these potentially dangerous products. The CEEs are a central point of contact for inquiries to CBP and resolution of issues regarding pharmaceutical, health and chemical imports.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the Pharmaceutical, Health and Chemicals CEE coordinated enforcement activities resulting in the seizure of approximately 119,000 counterfeit pills, 1,000 vials of anabolic steroids, and 8.6 pounds of prohibited controlled substances.

Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Port Amber Snail

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Baltimore — A U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist confirmed Tuesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists recorded a first discovery of a Succinea costaricana in the Port of Baltimore.

Succinea costaricana is a quarantine pest known to occur in Central America. It damages ornamental plants, and poses a potential threat to ornamental plant industry. Succinea costaricana is a species of air-breathing land snail in the family Succineidae, the amber snails. Some species are agricultural pests, causing damage to cucumber, tomato, lettuce, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses and tulips.

CBP agriculture specialists discovered the Succinea costaricana snail March 27 on the exterior of a shipping container loaded with bags of cardamom seasoning from Guatemala. CBP submitted the specimen Thursday to the local USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Plant Protection and Quarantine entomologist for identification.

“CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously,” said Ricardo Scheller Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. “This is another example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry.”

It was the first recorded discovery of a Succinea Costaricana in the Port of Baltimore.
Baltimore CBP agriculture specialists discovered a snail, identified by U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologists as a Succinea Costaricana, in a shipment of cardamom from Guatemala.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer. The cardamom will be stripped from the container and cargo and container will be thoroughly inspected. The cargo may be released to the importer if no further pests are found mixed in with the cargo. 

CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s APHIS-PPQ to protect our nation’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.

Visit the USDA’s APHIS-PPQ program online for more information. 

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States, and seize 4,919 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 476 insect pests.

Learn more about CBP agriculture specialists online.  ( CBP Agriculture Specialists

Federal Trade Commission Posts New Video to Help Identity Theft Victims

Federal Trade Commission /

If you’re a victim of identity theft or know someone who is, the Federal Trade Commission has a new video designed to help facilitators who assist consumers in repairing their identity.  Helping Victims of Identity Theft is the latest addition to the FTC’s library of resources that explain not only how to recognize identity theft, but also how to report it and repair the damage it can cause.  The FTC gets more complaints about identity theft each year than any other consumer issue, and estimates that nine million consumers become identity theft victims each year.

The video promotes the Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims, a tool for advocates, social workers, attorneys, and others who work to help resolve the issues identity theft causes.  The Guide is a complement to the do-it-yourself instructions in Taking Charge:  What To Do if Your Identity is Stolen.

The agency distributed more than two million publications just about identity theft in 2012 alone.  Check out the video, and fight back against identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

PHMSA Urges Americans to Spread the Word About Calling 811 Before You Dig
U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration /

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is asking the public to call 811 before digging into any projects this spring and to share the safe digging message with friends and family. 

“Calling 811 is simple, free and it can save your life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.   “We’re spreading the word with our message today, but we can’t do it alone.   Everyone who receives this message should tell their friends and neighbors to ‘know what’s below’ before they dig this spring.”

Striking buried pipeline is a leading cause of pipeline-related death and injury and can lead to service outages in entire neighborhoods.  Over the last 20 years, property damage costs equal more than $530 million nationwide.

All of that can be avoided, by calling 811 a few days before digging. Once the call is made, a representative will come to your property and mark nearby underground utilities so that you’ll know what’s below and be able to dig safely.

DOT urges the general public to share the safe digging message throughout April by taking the following actions:

“We want 811 to become as well-known as 911, because digging without getting your utilities marked is not only dangerous, it can also cut off services to an entire neighborhood and cost you money,” warns PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “The good news is that digging-related incidents can be prevented with a single call.”

Since the debut of the universal 811 hotline six years ago, the number of serious pipeline incidents from unsafe digging has decreased by more than 45 percent. PHMSA is working to continue the decline of digging-related incidents by providing additional safety tips this month.

The Common Ground Alliance, a pipeline safety partner, reports that approximately three in 10 homeowners plan to dig on their property this year for an outdoor home or property improvement project.  

Visit PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Guide for more information on safe digging practices and what to do if you detect a gas pipeline leak.  

As the safety regulator for America’s 2.6 million-mile pipeline transportation system, PHMSA is stepping up other efforts under the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011, which was signed into law in January 2012. The Act provides the regulatory-certainty necessary for pipeline operators to plan infrastructure investments and create jobs, and strengthens PHMSA’s authority to hold operators more accountable. For more information on PHMSA’s progress,

FTC Video Helps Funeral Providers Comply with the Funeral Rule

Federal Trade Commission /

The Federal Trade Commission has released a new video to help businesses that sell funeral goods and services comply with the Funeral Rule.

The Rule applies to licensed funeral directors and funeral homes, as well as to cemeteries, crematories, and other businesses that sell both funeral goods and services.  It does not apply to third-party sellers, like casket or monument dealers, or cemeteries that do not have a funeral home on-site. The Funeral Rule establishes some basic requirements that help to ensure that people have the information they need to compare prices and buy only the
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