Report: Marines lead all services in binge drinking, sex partners

SAN DIEGO — A new report from the RAND Corp. analyzed survey data from thousands of active-duty military members and found Marines are more likely to be heavy drinkers, use tobacco and engage in riskier sexual behavior than the sailors, soldiers and airmen of the other branches.

RAND found that incidents of binge drinking and hazardous drinking among Marines were almost double what they were in the Air Force.

The report defines binge drinking as having at least four or five drinks on one occasion. Hazardous drinking is defined as usage that suggests alcohol use disorder, commonly known as alcoholism.

Nearly half of the Marines surveyed reported drinking habits that met the criteria for hazardous.

The survey also revealed Marines were more likely to have had more than one sex partner of the course of one year and were less likely to use condoms with new partners.

The data were gathered as part of the 2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey conducted across all branches of the military and the Coast Guard.

Researchers spent two years combing through and making sense of the data, which included responses to numerous aspects of physical and mental health.

In addition to questions about drug and alcohol use, respondents provided researchers with information on their eating and sleeping habits, sexual behavior as well as their diets and exercise.

Almost 17,000 usable surveys were involved in the study.

— San Diego Union-Tribune

Ramos pleads not guilty in Capital Gazette shooting

BALTIMORE — A Laurel, Md., man accused of blasting his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis and killing five staff members entered a not-guilty plea in court papers filed Monday ahead of his scheduled arraignment, which was then canceled.

Jarrod Ramos, 38, has been indicted on five counts of first-degree murder and other violations. Anne Arundel public defenders William M. Davis and Elizabeth W. Palan entered their appearance as Ramos’ attorneys Monday, eliminating the need to hold the arraignment. Initial appearances tend to be perfunctory meetings in which attorneys enter their appearance and defendants are advised of their rights and the charges against them.

Davis did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Numerous journalists packed into the third-floor courtroom for the scheduled hearing, along with several Capital Gazette staffers who were there to observe but not report on the proceedings. Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams, who will prosecute the case with Aaron Meyers and Jason Knight, spoke briefly to Capital reporters Phil Davis and Rachael Pacella outside the courtroom. Davis and Pacella were among those in the newsroom at the time prosecutors say Ramos fatally shot the five staffers.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Laura S. Kiessling, who was assigned to preside over the case, is to hold a scheduling conference with the parties by the end of August.

Defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who is not involved in the case, said the fact that Ramos has entered a not-guilty plea is a mere procedural step in a criminal case.

“You don’t concede anything until you see the state’s case,” Pettit said.

— The Baltimore Sun

AG seeks jail time for first Penn State defendant to be sentenced in Tim Piazza hazing case

PHILADELPHIA — The first defendant to be sentenced in the fraternity hazing death of Pennsylvania State University student Tim Piazza is scheduled for Tuesday, and the attorney general’s office is asking up to three months of jail time.

Ryan Burke, who pleaded guilty in May to misdemeanor counts of hazing and unlawful acts relative to liquor and one count of consumption of alcohol by a minor, is scheduled to appear in Centre County Court Tuesday morning.

Standard sentencing guidelines for such a misdemeanor conviction normally would not include jail time, especially in the case of a first-time offender, such as Burke. But, in a memo to the judge, prosecutors argued that the circumstances were “aggravated” and require a stiffer penalty.

“The fact that the act of hazing … was a direct link to Mr. Piazza’s death is an aggravating factor that warrants sentencing in the aggravated range of 90 days incarceration,” the attorney general’s office said in court papers filed last week.

Burke, of Scranton, Pa., also could face fines, loss of his driver’s license for 90 days, community service and probation.

Attorney Philip Masorti, who has represented Burke, could not be reached for comment.

Piazza, a sophomore engineering major from New Jersey, died in February 2017 after a booze-fueled hazing ritual that included a drinking gauntlet at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He fell down a flight of stairs and was left to languish for nearly 12 hours before anyone called for help.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

More than 300 passengers taken off plane at Orlando airport after bomb comment, fight, official says

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hundreds of people were taken off a Norwegian Airlines plane on Sunday evening after three people were involved in a fight as it prepared to depart from Orlando International Airport, according to airport officials.

The three people were taken off the plane and questioned by law enforcement officials, authorities said.

The incident began at about 5:52 p.m. as the plane bound for London was about to close its doors and depart from gate 87. A male passenger was upset over the seating arrangement and made a comment regarding a bomb on board that was heard by another passenger, according to the Orlando Police Department.

Security officials then told 333 passengers and 12 crew members to deplane, airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said. Nothing suspicious was found, officials said.

Orlando Police turned the case over to the FBI.

The plane eventually took off at about 8:35 p.m., according to airport officials.

— Orlando Sentinel

Cambodia’s ruling party claims ‘glorious victory’ in one-sided election

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s ruling party led by longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed a landslide victory after national elections that the main opposition panned as a sham and some foreign governments called neither free nor fair.

The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) appears to have swept up all 125 seats in the National Assembly, according to an internal CPP document seen by dpa and an independent analysis of preliminary vote tallies from the National Election Committee (NEC).

NEC vote tallies showed the CPP had won nearly 77 percent of votes, with at least 60 percent in all 24 provinces and in the capital Phnom Penh.

The CPP won a “glorious victory,” gaining “almost all” parliamentary seats, party spokesman Sok Eysan said on Monday. In contrast to the NEC, he said that the party had garnered more than 77 percent of votes nationwide.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said late Sunday that official results would be announced in mid-August.

More than 80 percent of registered voters — about 6.9 million of the nation’s nearly 8.4 million registered voters — cast ballots, the NEC reported.

Hun Sen, 65, who has led Cambodia for 33 years and has promised to remain in office for at least another 10 years, campaigned on promises of continued economic development, peace and stability.

The 65-year-old strongman thanked citizens for choosing “the democratic way,” state media AKP reported.

— dpa