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Widow of Pulse nightclub shooter acquitted on all counts

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, was declared not guilty on all counts Friday morning.She faced charges of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization. She faced life in prison if convicted.“The family is elated,” said Susan Clary, a family spokeswoman, outside of court after the verdict. “Noor can go home now to her son … resume her life and try to pick up the pieces from two years in jail.”Prosecutors and defense attorneys painted radically different pictures of Salman over the course of the trial: on the one hand, helping her husband prepare for the attack and on the other, an abused woman who “married a monster.”“The family always thought that Noor was the first victim of Omar Mateen,” Clary said Friday.Al Salman, Noor’s uncle, who Clary said has acted as her father figure, was overjoyed at the news.He said Friday was a “Good Friday for everybody. It’s Holy Friday for Muslims and Good Friday for Christians.”“We [are] looking forward to taking my niece and hire a therapist for her,” he added. “I don’t know how she’s going to make up for the last two years.”The trial started two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Florida.The court is about two miles away from the site of the nightclub where Mateen killed 49 people and injured 58 others in the June 12, 2016, attack. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.On Thursday, the jury opted not to take an additional hour to deliberate, instead choosing to come back on Friday with the verdict.One of Noor Salman’s attorneys, Fritz Schellar, said that immediately after the verdict was read, “she was overwhelmed, we were all overwhelmed.”“There’s rejoicing but there’s sorrow because she’s been in prison for over a year, separated from her son,” Schellar said.John Mina, the chief of the Orlando Police Department, released a statement following the verdict, saying he believes in the criminal justice system and is thankful for the hard work of the jurors, attorneys and the FBI involved in the case.“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said in the statement.“Our community is strong, and the men and women of the Orlando Police Department stand ready to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our residents and visitors,” he said.However, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he was “disappointed.”“I am disappointed in the outcome of the trial and know that the victims and/or their families are more disappointed,” Demings said in a statement.“This has been an emotional event for our community and many may feel that justice has not prevailed; however, the system of justice has spoken and we should look to the continued healing for the families and our entire community so that this event will not define us,” he said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

BCBSVT offers options for Medicare beneficiaries

first_imgBlue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont,Vermont Business Magazine Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) has announced its competitively priced Medicare Part D prescription drug plan options for the 2016 open enrollment period. BCBSVT, in a joint venture with three other New England Blue plans, contracts with the federal government to offer prescription drug coverage, called Blue MedicareRx (PDP). The 2016 open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7, 2015. Enrollment is effective on January 1, 2016.   In addition, BCBSVT offers Medicare supplement plans that can support Vermonters achieve a worry-free retirement. Medicare supplement plans provide assistance with costs not paid by Medicare, like co-insurance, co-payments and deductibles. Vermonters turning 65 or just retiring may be eligible for Vermont Medigap Blue—supplemental coverage offered through BCBSVT’s Vermont Health Plan. Vermont Blue 65 is another Medigap policy option for Vermonters covered by Medicare Parts A and B. These plans provide members with coverage throughout the U.S., their choice of doctors and hospitals and access to local, personal service. “We have many product options designed to meet the coverage needs of Vermonters eligible for Medicare. Our Vermont-based staff is available by phone or in person at our central Vermont and South Burlington offices to help individuals find the plan that works best for them,” says Catherine Hamilton, vice president of consumer services and planning.BCBSVT representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss BCBSVT’s broad suite of Medicare coverage options. You can get help by phone at (800) 255-4550(option 2) or in person at the BCBSVT Information and Wellness Center (150 Dorset St., South Burlington Blue Mall) or at the BCBSVT headquarters (445 Industrial Lane, Berlin).Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, in a joint venture with three other New England Blue plans, contracts with the Federal Government to provide Part D benefits. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc., Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont are the legal entities which have contracted as a joint enterprise with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and are the risk-bearing entities for Blue MedicareRx plans. The joint enterprise is a Medicare-approved Part D Sponsor. Enrollment in BlueMedicareRx (PDP) depends on contract renewal.About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont:Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, providing coverage for about 250,000 Vermonters. It employs about 400 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and its Information and Wellness Center in South Burlington’s Blue Mall, and offers group and individual health plans to Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.last_img read more

Brennan Center report warns of ‘cash register justice’ in Florida

first_img June 1, 2010 Regular News Brennan Center report warns of ‘cash register justice’ in Florida A new study offers new insight into the role so called “cash register justice” plays in Florida’s court systemThe Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law recently released a 48-page report detailing the findings and recommendations of the study, conducted by the center with funding from a Florida Bar Foundation grant.States are increasingly turning to so-called “user fees” and surcharges to underwrite criminal justice costs and close budget gaps. That’s particularly true in Florida — according to the report — where since 1996 the state has added more than 20 new categories of financial obligations for criminal defendants and, at the same time, eliminated most exemptions for those who cannot pay.Those decisions have produced more fees and resulted in inconsistent collection practices statewide, writes Rebekah Diller, deputy director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center and author of The Hidden Costs of Florida’s Criminal Justice Fee.“At their worst, collection practices can lead to a new variation of ‘debtors’ prison,’ when individuals are arrested and incarcerated for failing to appear in court to explain missed payments,” wrote Diller in her executive summary of the report.According to the report, Florida’s practice of financing its criminal justice system with fees from the indigent creates a cycle of debt for ex-offenders that threatens their successful re-entry into society.The report also raises questions about the efficiency of the practice. Many of the fees are uncollectible, leaving the court system underfunded. In some places, the report says collection costs are borne partly by counties and court clerks, and the adjudication of fee payments incurs even more costs.Among the findings:• The Florida Legislature has eliminated payment exemptions for the indigent, thus demanding revenue from a population unable to pay;• In Leon County, collection practices resulted in more than 800 arrests for failure to appear at debt hearings and more than 20,000 hours of jail time alone in one year.• Florida routinely suspends drivers’ licenses for failure to make payments, a practice that sets the debtor up for a vicious cycle of “driving with a suspended license” convictions;• Florida allows private debt collection firms to add up to a 40 percent surcharge on unpaid debt.The report also offers recommendations and long-term reforms that may boost court budgets and address the hidden costs of fee collection. Some suggestions included:• The Legislature should exempt those unable to pay criminal justice fees from legal financial obligations;• Payment plans should be tailored to an individual’s ability to pay, as state law already requires;• Florida’s Supreme Court should adopt court rules to end the new debtors’ prison;• Counties can save money by eliminating debt-related arrests for failure to appear and resulting incarceration in already crowded jails.The report also offers longer-term reforms:• The Legislature should reconsider levying legal financial obligations in felony cases without a full understanding of how the debt may affect an individual’s attempt to re-enter his/her community.• Reforms must ensure that counties and others do not bear hidden costs of state revenue collection. For a number of counties, the fee system requires expenditures for collections, particularly the arrest and incarceration of nonpayers, and increases the dockets of their already overburdened court systems. These costs are passed on to taxpayers at the local level. While the state gets a revenue enhancement from fee collection, the ledger sheet for other Floridians may well be in the red. A new source of revenue only works if it does not result in hidden costs.While the Foundation didn’t commission the study, it funded the study through an Improvement in the Administration of Justice Grant.center_img Brennan Center report warns of ‘cash register justice’ in Floridalast_img read more

Miller to lead Young Lawyers Division

first_img February 15, 2015 Rawan Bitar Associate Editor Regular News Miller to lead Young Lawyers Division Associate EditorKatherine Hurst Miller of Daytona Beach has become president-elect designate of The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. Miller was selected without opposition by the YLD Board of Governors at its January meeting in St. Petersburg. She will be sworn in as YLD president-elect at the Bar’s Annual Convention in June when current President-elect Gordon Glover takes over as 2015-2016 president. Miller will begin her presidential term in June 2016.After five years of service on the YLD Board of Governors, Miller said she was excited to lead the young lawyers and credited her fellow peers for inspiring her to do so.“This board has been the best thing I have ever done,” she said. “I’ve served on amazing committees. The senior members of this board have mentored me, and the newer members of this board have inspired me.”Miller’s main goal as president will be encouraging pro bono work in light of challenges in the state with access to justice for people who cannot afford to pay for legal services.“The solution I propose is promoting pro bono, much more that anything we have ever done before, because if young lawyers engage where they are uniquely qualified, where they are needed, and where they feel passionate, then we will have a better legal system overall.”Miller also expressed concern about what attorneys will have to contend with in the future.“I sit on the Vision 2016 commission and I’m hearing about the future of the practice of law. I want to make sure that young lawyers are represented, and protected, and able to succeed in the future.“Technology and nonlawyers are creeping into the practice of law and wanting a share of our business, and I want to make sure young lawyers are getting cases and training,” she said.Miller is a partner with the firm of Cobb Cole, P.A., in Daytona Beach, where she focuses on commercial contract and tort disputes, insurance agent defense, and condo and homeowners’ association practice.She graduated cum laude from the Stetson University College of Law in 2006. As a student, Miller traveled to Austria where she and her team were the first Americans in more than a decade to win the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot competition. She also edited the Stetson Law Review, and was honored with the 2006 Outstanding Editor Award.A native of West Texas, Miller’s father was in the military. Her need for adult independence led her to venture out of the Lone Star State to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she earned a B.A. in art history, summa cum laude. Miller moved to Florida in 2003 and has resided in the Sunshine State ever since; her husband, Arthur “Chris” Miller, is an assistant state attorney. They have a two-year old daughter named Elizabeth.Miller said her husband’s government work educates her continuously, and that they’ve grown up together as professionals.“There are issues that young lawyers deal with. We have dealt with them ‘times two,’ whether it’s student loans, or finding jobs, or changing jobs, or whatever those issues are, I feel like I live them times two.”Miller’s goals center around improving the experiences of attorneys new to the practice of law.“You hear that there will always be a place for the lawyer as counselor who knows their client’s business, and who knows the law, and who’s a sophisticated and helpful business advisor,” she said. “There’s always going to be a place for that lawyer, but how does a young lawyer become that lawyer? You have to have that experience somehow. I want to make sure that young lawyers get that experience.“I’d also like the YLD to continue to offer preeminent CLEs that are timely and relevant to young lawyers. I’d like us to work even closer with our affiliates and our law student leaders to make sure that our mission is accomplished every day, and not just when our board is meeting. I’d like us to work closely with the big board and the Bar to make sure that the voices of young lawyers are heard and that our opinions matter.“Part of it is for the good of the public of Florida, which is very important, but my basis for it is helping lawyers develop their skills.” Miller to lead Young Lawyers Divisionlast_img read more

NEWS SCAN: Pertussis in Utah, fungal meningitis outbreak, novel coronavirus probe, cantaloupe farm problems, Pakistan polio funds

first_imgOct 3, 2012Utah having its worst pertussis year since 1946With 851 pertussis cases so far this year, Utah is facing its worst pertussis outbreak since 1946, in the pre-vaccine era, a state health official told the Salt Lake Tribune. The Utah Department of Health (UDH) said the 851 cases reported through Sep 29 compare with 618 cases in all of 2011 and are close to double the 440 recorded by this time last year. Utah’s pertussis incidence rate so far this year is 40 cases per 100,000 person-years, well above the national incidence rate of 9.3 per 100,000 person-years. There have been 86 cases in babies under 1 year old, with a “handful” of hospitalizations but no deaths this year, the Tribune reported. The story said the high case count may be due in part to better testing and greater awareness of pertussis. It noted that the national pertussis case count stood at about 29,000 as of Sep 20.Oct 2 Tribune storyOct 2 UDH pertussis summarySteroid drug suspected in fungal meningitis outbreakHealth officials are investigating a fungal meningitis outbreak that has suspected links to contaminated steroids and has so far sickened 26 people in five states, with 4 deaths, NBC News reported today. The story said 18 patients are from Tennessee, which first announced the outbreak on Oct 1, noting that it and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were investigating 11 meningitis patients who were treated at an outpatient surgical and pain management clinic in Nashville and one at a facility in another state. Today the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) said illnesses were also linked to a center in Crossville, Tenn. The agency said biopsy samples have revealed fungal infections consistent with Aspergillus in two patients, raising the number of confirmed cases to three. TDH director John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, said the state’s healthcare providers have been notified that the suspected source of the infections is methylprednisolone acetate produced by a compounding pharmacy. Other affected states are North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Maryland, according to the NBC report, which said the pain drug intended for spinal injections was made without a preservative. The story said the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are testing pain medications and other materials used in the injections, and so far Aspergillus hasn’t been found in the drug.Oct 3 NBC News reportOct 3 TDH media telebriefing transcriptOct 1 TDH press releaseResearch teams poised to investigate new coronavirus sourceSaudi Arabia’s health ministry has asked research teams from two US-based centers to help identify the source of the novel coronavirus that has sickened two patients, one fatally, who were in the country, according to a Twitter post yesterday from one of the groups, the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University. The EcoHealth Alliance, an international organization based in New York City that specializes on the relationships among wildlife, ecosystems, and human health, was also asked to assist. CII also said that its mobile team is en route to Riyadh and that scientists from the US CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are headed to the area as well. The identification of the new coronavirus has reestablished research and public health networks that assembled after the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus emerged in 2003, Nature reported today. Dr Christian Drosten, who directs the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn Medical Centre in Germany, told Nature that the SARS efforts put scientists in a better position to understand the virus and develop countermeasures, if needed. For example, he said animal models developed for SARS will help scientists explore the pathogenicity and spread of the new virus.CII Twitter feedOct 3 Nature storyFDA lists problems at cantaloupe farm tied to Salmonella outbreakUS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors found widespread contamination at Chamberlain Farms Inc., the Indiana farm implicated in the recent outbreak of Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Typhimurium from contaminated cantaloupe, according to an FDA report. The report, covering inspections from Aug 14 through Aug 31, states that Salmonella was found in cataloupes collected in fields and in a cardboard bin and in environmental swabs collected from various locations and surfaces in the farm’s packing shed. The inspector described “a buildup of black, green, and brown buildup” on rollers and belts of the conveyor system used during processing as well as debris and standing water with what appeared to be algae beneath the conveyer belt. In addition, the water used for washing the fruit was coming from nozzles that looked rusty, and there was no monitoring of levels of chlorine in the sanitizer tank. Finally, garbage receptacles were overflowing, potentially providing a setting for pests to congregate and breed. The inspection form states that the findings were observations and do not constitute a final agency determination regarding compliance with food safety regulations. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update on the outbreak, issued Sep 13, shows 270 cases from 26 states, with 101 hospitalizations and three deaths.FDA inspection reportSep 13 CDC outbreak reportMore money for polio vaccination in PakistanPakistan, one of only three countries where polio is still endemic, will receive credits of $24 million from the World Bank to support efforts to immunize every child in the country against the disease, the bank announced yesterday. The funds, the third allocation in a series of loans through the Third Partnership for Polio Eradication Project (TPPEP), have lenient payback requirements. The Pakistani government, through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), intends to immunize 34.8 million children under age 5. Recent floods in the country have forced large numbers of people into temporary housing, often without adequate water and sanitation, which means many people could be newly exposed to polio. In addition, security concerns related to political unrest and military conflicts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have seriously affected immunization coverage there; the majority of reported cases are coming from those areas, where 90% of children have not been adequately immunized.Oct 2 World Bank press releaselast_img read more

High-path H7 avian flu detected on Tennessee farm

first_imgUS officials said today that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected on a commercial poultry farm in Tennessee after birds began dying last week. This is the first HPAI outbreak in the United States this year.Seven hundred birds died from avian flu and another 72,800 were destroyed, according to a report from US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak began on Mar 1, involves an H7 strain, and is listed as continuing.The birds were part of a commercial chicken broiler-breeder flock, and according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), the farm is under quarantine, as are six other poultry farms within a 30-mile radius. The outbreak occurred in Lincoln County, in the south central part of the state.”Animal health is our top priority,” said state veterinarian, Charles Hatcher, DVM, in a press release from the TDA. “With this HPAI detection, we are moving quickly and aggressively to prevent the virus from spreading.” ‘Wait and see’ modeAccording to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today, results of further virus testing, which will identify the exact strain of HPAI, will be available in the next 48 hours.”Right now we’re in ‘wait and see’ mode,” Andrew Bowman, DVM, PhD, told CIDRAP News. He is from the Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Program at The Ohio State University. “The regulatory agencies are responding swiftly, and it’s justified.”No other flocks near the farm have shown signs of HPAI, which is not likely to cause human illness. HPAI can devastate flocks of poultry, however, prompting severe economic losses for the agricultural industry.This year, Europe has had one of the most active avian flu seasons in history, with hundreds of poultry farms and wild birds dying from highly pathogenic strains that migrated with waterfowl from Siberia to the Middle East and Europe.  So far this season, the United States has reported only isolated HPAI in wild birds in Montana and Alaska.”It’s always concerning when we have HPAI in commercial flocks,” said Bowman. “But right now it’s too early to know much.”This is the first time HPAI has been detected in Tennessee, according to the TDA, but low-pathogenic avian flu has been detected before.”Although this is a situation no state wants to face, Tennessee has been actively preparing to respond to HPAI since it was first identified as a threat,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton in the TDA release.The USDA warned poultry farm owners and operators to practice good hygiene and report any illnesses in birds to state officials immediately.Two years ago HPAI H5N2 caused almost 50 million poultry deaths in 15 US states and billions of dollars in economic damage.See also:Mar 6 OIE reportMar 6 TDA press releaseMar 6 USDA press releaselast_img read more

UK seeing outbreak of highly azithromycin-resistant gonorrhea

first_imgResearchers with Public Health England (PHE) are reporting sustained transmission of high-level azithromycin-resistant (HL-AziR) Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections across England, and a separate paper notes ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhea in Australia.In a study yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the PHE researchers report that 37 of 60 HL-AziR N gonorrhoeae isolates collected in England from November 2014 through February 2017 belonged to a single multi-antigen sequence type (ST9768). This is the same sequence type that was initially identified in seven N gonorrhoeae isolates tested when the outbreak was first identified in Leeds in 2015.When compared with 110 N gonorrhoeae isolates from the United Kingdom and Ireland with ranges of azithromycin resistance, the isolates from ST9768 clustered into three phylogenetic clades and were all found to be genetically similar, with a mean distance of 4.3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). All of the ST9768 isolates shared a recent common ancestor indicative of recent transmission.Further analysis detected mutation 2059A→G in the 3-4 allelles of the 23S rRNA gene in almost all the HL-AziR isolates, a mutation known to be responsible for high-level azithromycin resistance. But it also detected this mutation in six of the comparator isolates from Scotland, one with low-level resistance to azithromycin and five that were susceptible. The phylogeny provides evidence that the HL-AziR isolates were descendants of the low-level azithromycin-resistant isolates, which were in turn descendants of the susceptible isolates.The authors of the study report that there was no confirmed gonorrhea treatment failure in any of these cases, most likely because the isolates were still susceptible to ceftriaxone. But the findings are a concern because azithromycin, in combination with ceftriaxone, forms the last-line of therapy for treating gonorrhea, which has become resistant to all other drugs that have been used against it. Dual therapy is recommended in England and other countries to prevent further development of resistance. Currently, the prevalence of low-level azithromycin resistant in England is 5%. But the finding that high-level azithromycin resistance can emerge from low-level resistance, the authors argue, raises the possibility that azithromycin exposure may be providing selection pressure for the emergence of high-level resistance. “Dual therapy for gonorrhea using azithromycin with ceftriaxone is clearly under threat, and we might not be able to rely on azithromycin to protect ceftriaxone,” the authors write. An additional concern is that HL-AziR N gonorrhoeae has previously been observed only sporadically in England and other parts of the world, possibly because high-level azithromycin resistance might lead to fitness costs, the authors suggest. Why sustained transmission of ST9768 exists in England remains unclear.Ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhea in AustraliaMeanwhile, in a paper yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, an international team of investigators report two more instances of a clone of a ceftriaxone-resistant N gonorrhoeae strain that appears to be spreading internationally.The strain, FC428, was first identified in Japan in 2015 in a heterosexual man in his 20s. Two years later, gonococcal isolates with FC428-like susceptibility profiles (including ceftriaxone resistance) were reported in a Canadian woman and a heterosexual man from Denmark. The two newly reported cases, identified in Australia in two heterosexual men from the Philippines and China, also had a similar susceptibility profile to FC428.Phylogenetic analysis of isolates from the Japanese, Canadian, and Australian cases showed close genetic relatedness, and molecular typing demonstrated that all the strains, as well as the strain from Denmark, belonged to the same sequence type (ST1903).All cases were successfully treated, but the investigators say the findings provide new evidence that there is sustained international transmission of a ceftriaxone-resistant N gonorrhoeae strain that appears to have been circulating for more than 2 years, and that it’s highly likely the strain is prevalent elsewhere but has yet to be detected.”These findings warrant the intensification of surveillance strategies and establishment of collaborations with other countries to monitor spread and inform national and global policies and actions,” the authors write.See also:Mar 6 Lancet Infect Dis abstractMar 6 Emerg Infect Dis paperlast_img read more

SFNF: Bad Behavior On The Santa Fe National Forest – Too Many Visitors Ignore Campfire Ban, Locked Toilets

first_imgSFNF News:SANTA FE — Despite the campfire ban that went into effect April 15 for all five national forests in New Mexico, patrols on the Santa Fe ­­National Forest (SFNF) last weekend found illegal campfires from the Jemez Mountains to Pecos Canyon. Too many of those campfires were not properly extinguished, and an abandoned campfire jumped the fire ring and started a wildfire that required firefighter response.Law enforcement and recreation patrols reported additional examples of visitor misuse, including garbage left behind and piles of human waste outside locked toilet facilities.“The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Forest Supervisor James Melonas said. “That priority is severely compromised when members of the public ignore the campfire ban, when the irresponsible few leave trash and ignore the basics of public hygiene.”Managers on the SFNF understand that many people are seeking solace in the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with recreation opportunities come responsibilities. While most visitors follow current health guidelines and recreate responsibly, the few who don’t endanger themselves and others.In addition to the campfire ban, the Forest Service has implemented closure orders in alignment with federal guidance and state public health orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although the forest remains open to the public, social distancing and restrictions on group size still apply. As a reminder, at this time:All developed campgrounds on the SFNF are closed to overnight camping.All toilet facilities on the forest are locked.Campfires, charcoal grills, and coal and wood burning stoves are prohibited.Some picnic/day use sites are closed to the public.Trash collection is suspended. Please take your garbage home.If you plan to visit the national forest, please be considerate of others, including the residents of gateway communities like Jemez Springs, Cuba and Pecos. Avoid unnecessary exposure and follow the rules and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.Stay up to date on closures and other news by checking the SFNF website and following us on Facebook and Twitter.last_img read more

Settlement Announced for Passaic River

first_imgActing Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced yesterday that Occidental Chemical Corp. has agreed to pay the State $190 million to resolve its liability for past cleanup and removal costs, natural resource damages and other costs and damages related to contamination of the Passaic River.The Occidental agreement represents a proposed settlement, and is subject to a public comment period and review by a Superior Court Judge. Should the settlement be approved, it will bring to $355.4 million the total amount recovered by New Jersey as a result of the Passaic River litigation. Among other terms, the proposed Occidental settlement calls for $50 million of the company’s payment to be used for natural resource restoration projects in and around the Newark Bay Complex.“If approved, this is an important legal outcome for the residents of New Jersey, and for our environment,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “The citizens of our state should not be forced to shoulder the cost of repairing damage to one of our most precious natural resources – the Passaic River – by industrial polluters. Our objective throughout the Passaic River litigation has been to hold accountable those legally responsible for contaminating the river, and we have done so.”“The cleanup of the lower Passaic River is vital to the health and safety of people who live and work along the river, and is one of the State’s top environmental priorities,” Commissioner Martin said. “The parties responsible for the pollution should be accountable for the expense of the remediation, and not the taxpayers of our state. We have stood firm in that commitment and strongly support the settlement being announced yesterday.”Occidental is the legal successor to Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company, and the lone remaining defendant sued by the State over contamination of the Passaic River that had yet to settle.[mappress]Press Release, September 16, 2014last_img read more