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In The News This Week DEMOCRATS WANT JOBLESS BENEFITS IN ` CLIFF' DEAL Hovering in the background of the "fiscal cliff" debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas. Page 1
EGYPT: MILITARY WARNS OF 'DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES' Egypt's military warned on Saturday of "disastrous consequences" if the crisis that sent tens of thousands of protesters Page 2
WASHINGTON COULD BECOME POT SOURCE FOR NEIGHBORS Now that marijuana is legal in neighboring Page 3 Washington state..
FLORIDA ACCIDENT STATISTICS Accident Statistics from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Page 4
FLORIDA ACCIDENT REPORTS This Weeks Accident Reports from Various countys in Florida. Page 5
OBAMA REQUEST FOR SANDY AID COULD FACE HURDLES President Barack Obama's proposal for $60.4 billion in federal aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy adds a huge new item to an end-of-year congressional, agenda. Page 6
GENE-ALTERED MOSQUITOES COULD BE USED VS. DENGUE Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment. . Page 7
TO THE MOON? FIRM HOPES TO SELL $1.5 BILLION TRIPS TAttention wealthy nations and billionaires: A team of former NASA executives will fly you to the moon in an out-of-this-world.. Page 8
AFTER CLIMATE TALKS, EYES ON US FOR NEXT ROUND Other countries are now watching to see if the Obama administration will back up post-election comments about climate change. Page 8
Volume 731 Issue 449
December 10, 2012
D E M O C R AT S WA N T J O B L E S S BENEFITS IN `CLIFF' DEAL WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hovering in the background of the "fiscal cliff" debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas.
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, the lowest in nearly four years. But much of the decline was due to people so discouraged about finding a job that they quit looking for one.
"This is the real cliff," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He's been leading the Democrats effort to include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by from left, Sen. Bernard have tried to keep a another extension of Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., ges- flame burning under benefits for the long- tures during a news conference the possibility of Americans abruptly their job- the issue. Ending the less benefits at the of the year on Capitol Hill in Washington, Hovering in the term unemployed in background of the "fiscal cliff" debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing extended benefits any deal to avert their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas. would "deal a devaslooming tax increastating blow to our es and massive spending cuts in January. economy," 42 Democratic senators wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., this past week. "Many of these people are struggling to pay mortgages, to provide education for their children," Reed said The Congressional Budget Office said in a study this past week as President Barack Obama and House last month that extending the current level of long-term Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected each other's unemployment benefits another year would add opening offers for a deficit deal. 300,000 jobs to the economy. The average benefit of about $300 a week tends to get spent quickly for food, Emergency jobless benefits for about 2.1 million rent and other basic necessities, the report said, stimupeople out of work more than six months will cease Dec. lating the economy. 29, and 1 million more will lose them over the next three months if Congress doesn't extend the assistance The liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute found again. that extended unemployment benefits lifted 2.3 million Americans out of poverty last year, including 600,000 Since the collapse of the economy in 2008, the gov- children. ernment has poured $520 billion - an amount equal to about half its annual deficit in recent years - into unemStates provide the first 20 weeks to 26 weeks of ployment benefit extensions. unemployment benefits for eligible workers who are seeking jobs. When those are exhausted, federal beneWhite House officials have assured Democrats that fits kick in for up to 47 more weeks, depending on the Obama is committed to extending them another year, at state's unemployment rate. a cost of about $30 billion, as part of an agreement for sidestepping the fiscal cliff and reducing the size of annuThe higher a state's unemployment rate, the longer al increases in the federal debt. state residents can qualify for additional weeks of federal unemployment benefits. Only seven states with job"The White House has made it clear that it wants an less rates of 9 percent or more now qualify for all 47 extension," said Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top weeks. Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. Congress already cut back federal jobless benefits Republicans have been relatively quiet on the issue this year. Taken together with what states offer, the benlately. They demanded and won savings elsewhere to efits could last up to 99 weeks. Cutting the maximum to offset the cost of this year's extension, requiring the gov- 73 weeks has already cut off benefits to about 500,000 ernment to sell some of its broadcasting airwaves and people. making newly hired federal workers contribute more toward their pensions. Opponents of benefit extensions argue that they can be a disincentive for taking a job. Boehner did not include jobless benefits in his counteroffer response this past week to Obama's call for $1.6 "Prolonged benefits lead some unemployed worktrillion in new taxes over the next decade, including rais- ers to spend too much time looking for jobs that they ing the top marginal rates for the highest-paid 2 percent. would prefer to find, rather than focusing on jobs that they are more likely to find," said James Sherk, a labor Long-term unemployment remains a persistent policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. problem. About 5 million people have been out of work for six months or more, according to the Bureau of labor But Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, noted that unemStatistics. That's about 40 percent of all unemployed ployment checks add up to about $15,000 a year. workers. "That's poverty level," he said. "This is not something people just want to continue on, they want to get jobs."
Legal Street News Monday December 10, 2012
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E G Y P T: M I L I TA R Y WA R N S O F ' D I S A S T R O U S C O N S E Q U E N C E S ' ing the constitutional drafting process and the transition to d e m o c r a c y.
CAIRO (AP) -Egypt's military warned on Saturday of "disastrous consequences" if the crisis that sent tens of thousands of protesters back into the streets is not resolved, signaling the army's return to an increasingly polarized and violent political s c e n e .
the But move touched off a new wave of opposition and unprecedented clashes the between president's Islamist supporters led by Muslim the Brotherhood and protesters accusing him of becoming a new strongman.
The military said serious dialogue is the "best and only" way to overcome the nation's An Egyptian protester takes a picture with his mobile of another in front of an conflict Egyptian army tank outside the presidential palace, background, in Cairo, Egypt, deepening Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. Egypt's military has warned of 'disastrous consequences' if over a disputed draft the political crisis gripping the country is not resolved through dialogue. constitution hurriedly adopted by Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi, and recent decrees granting himself near-absolute powers. At least six civilians have been killed and several "Anything other than that (dialogue) will force us offices of the president's Muslim Brotherhood torched in into a dark tunnel with disastrous consequences; some- the unrest. The two sides also have staged a number of sitthing which we won't allow," the statement said. It was ins around state institutions, including the presidential read by an unnamed military official on state television. palace where some of the most violent clashes occurred. Morsi had called for a dialogue Saturday to discuss how to resolve the disagreement as his vice president suggested that a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum could be delayed. But the main opposition leaders declined to attend, saying talks can only take place if Morsi rescinds his decrees and cancels the referendum.
With the increasing polarization and the specter of internal fighting looming, the military began reasserting itself, with soldiers sealing off the presidential palace with tanks and barbed wire. Its warning on Saturday marked the first time the military returned to the political fray.
Most of the public figures at the meeting were Islamists, with the exception of liberal opposition politician Ayman Nour.
Failing to reach a consensus, "is in the interest of neither side. The nation as a whole will pay the price," the military said, adding it "realizes its national responsibility in protecting the nation's higher interests" and state institutions.
And at least three members left the talks soon after they started. Ahmed Mahran, a lawyer who was among them, said: "It was a one-way conversation," accusing presidential advisers of refusing to listen.
Images of the military's elite Republican Guards unit surrounding the area around the palace also showed one of the most high-profile troop deployment since the army handed over power to Morsi on June 30.
Egypt's once all-powerful military, which temporarily took over governing the country after the revolution that ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, was largely sidelined weeks after Morsi was elected.
A sit-in by Morsi's opponents around the palace continued Saturday, with protesters setting up roadblocks with tanks behind them amid reports that the president's supporters planned rival protests. By midday Saturday, TV footage showed the military setting up a new wall of cement blocks around the palace.
Weeks after he was sworn in, Morsi ordered the two top generals to retire and gave himself legislative powers that the military had assumed in the absence of a parliament, which had been dissolved by the courts. The current crisis was sparked Nov. 22 when Morsi granted himself authority free of judicial oversight, alleging that judges loyal to the former regime were threaten-
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The president has insisted his decrees were meant to protect the country's transition to democracy from former regime figures trying to derail it. Muslim Brotherhood leaders, meanwhile, made their
Continued on page 3
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Street News Monday, December 10,2012
WA S H I N G TO N C O U L D B E C O M E P O T S O U R C E F O R N E I G H B O R S some medical marijuana pot growers, alleging they shipped pot out of state. There has also been pressure on dispensaries that have sprung up in Oregon that provide medical marijuana for a fee to cover costs of operation.. Law officials in some counties have raided such operations, saying they are selling pot for profit.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Now that marijuana is legal in neighboring Washington state, Portland police are offering some helpful advice to Oregon pot users. Sure, you can go over to Washington state to "smoke some weed," a police advisory states, but you might get arrested for driving under the influence if you're pulled over coming home, even if you're on a bike. And if you are among the 55,000 people with an Oregon medical marijuana card, Portland police say you'll be able to get your allowed amount of medicine in Washington state. Still, even though you now can't get busted for toking in Tacoma or elsewhere in Washington (though you could get a ticket for public use), it will be a year before selling or buying it is legal.
If Washington state sets up a pot supply system, it is likely some Oregon holders of medical marijuana cards will go north for their medicine, advocates say.
In Canada, another Washington neighbor, pot is illegal under federal law. Border enforcement of drug laws is stringent, but As the Evergreen state works out the various complications of its new law - David Kosmecki, left, talks to Idaho State Police Trooper Justin Klitch in Fruitland, Idaho. Kosmecki was stopped enforcement for possession for personal use is relaxed. Grass including the fact that marijuana is still and charged with possession of marijuana after leaving Oregon. is smoked openly in parks and illegal under federal law - neighbors of at pot cafes in British Columbia. Distribution of medWashington are watching with curiosity, and perhaps One of them is Moscow, home to the University of ical marijuana to patients with needs deemed legitisome apprehension. Idaho campus and more than 11,000 students - just a mate through pot dispensaries is also allowed 10-minute drive to the Washington State University If the federal government doesn't attempt to intervene campus in Pullman. More than 70 miles to the north is in the new law, and if Washington state sets up a sup- the busy suburban corridor connecting Spokane, A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted ply system whose mechanics are yet to be defined, Wash., and the Idaho cities of Post Falls and Coeur Police, Sgt. Duncan Pound, said it is too early to predict what effects legalization in Washington will have. Washington may well become a greater source of pot d'Alene. for users in Oregon and Idaho. A marijuana advocate in British Columbia, Jodie Idaho police say increased arrests for marijuana Emery, worries Canada might intensify border con"It would be like a place people go to get cheap beer. could intensify stress on county jails and caseloads trols because of Washington's weed legalization. We're not talking about medical marijuana. We're talk- for county prosecutors. ing about people who just want to get high," said Josh Marquis, district attorney for Oregon's Clatsop Idaho State Police Lt. Chris Schenk, says people in Emery also speculates that legalization in Washington could lessen the flow of people traveling to County. north Idaho are joking about so-called "pot tourists" Vancouver, British Columbia to try some "BC Bud." crossing the border to take advantage of Marquis is not totally opposed to marijuana. He thinks Washington's relaxed law. But he says it's going to the federal government should do what Oregon has take time to gauge any increases in arrests for pos- "British Columbia does have a lot of tourism for people who want to experience the marijuana culture but done: decriminalize possession of small amounts, session or driving under the influence. that is shifting," Emery said. and allow people with genuine medical needs to have access for treatment. Oregon has some of the most permissive pot laws in Back in Oregon, the tip sheet to marijuana users the nation. Possession of less than an ounce will get But one of his greatest concerns, echoed by other law you the equivalent of a speeding ticket. And for those issued by Portland police states that possession of enforcement officials, is people going over to who want to go the legal route, they can get a medical less than an ounce has been a "low law enforcement priority for 35 years in Portland and this will not Washington to obtain weed and driving home stoned. marijuana card. change due to the new Washington law." "If I'm going to drive on the Oregon coast at night, in the driving rain, I want the person on the other side of the road to be completely unimpaired," Marquis told The Associated Press. Idaho law officials are also watching what's happening in Washington state. Unlike Oregon, Idaho has no medical marijuana law and possession in any form is against the law. Simple possession of less than three ounces is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Idaho officials already have their hands full with Idahoans obtaining medical marijuana cards out of state. The Gem State borders three medical marijuana states, a reality that has caused medical marijuana arrests to outpace those of traffickers or other users. Although Idaho is a largely conservative state, there are pockets defined by borders and demographics that could create new challenges for law enforcement.
Still, obtaining pot in Oregon is not without its hassles, in the eyes of some who use it. Federal drug agents have been cracking down on
E G Y P T: C O N S E Q U E N C E S ' Continued from page 2 highest profile appearances since the dispute began. The group's top leader Mohammed Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater held press conferences Saturday alleging there was a conspiracy to topple Morsi but presenting little proof. Badie said the opposition has accused his group of violence but is instead responsible for the attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices. He also claimed that most of those killed in last week's violence at the Palace and other governorates were members of the Brotherhood. "These are crimes, not opposition or disagreement in opinion," he said. Meanwhile, with a dialogue largely boycotted by the main opposition players, members of a so-called Alliance of Islamists forces warned it will take all measures to protect "legitimacy" and the president, in comments signaling continued tension. "We will not allow the revolution to be stolen again," el-Shater said. "Our main job is to support legitimacy and
If You Hve It Give Some Back
But the advisory also has this caution: If you go to Washington to "buy some weed," the "Portland Police Bureau cannot predict or control the enforcement activities of federal authorities."
Mostafa el-Naggar, a former lawmaker and protest leader during the uprising that led to Mubarak's ouster in February 2011, said the conspiracy alleged by the Brotherhood "doesn't exist." El-Naggar added that the Brotherhood and military statements suggested the crisis was far from over. "The military is saying it is still here and will interfere when necessary. This is believed to be when there is widespread infighting," he said. Meanwhile, he said Morsi and his group are threatening to widen the conflict by portraying the opposition as conspirators against Islam. "As it stands, Egypt is captive to internal decisions of the Brotherhood," he said
4 Legal Street News Monday December 10, 2012
F L O R I D A
A C C I D E N T
S T A T I S T I C S
Data From the Official Website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. www.flhsmv.gov
The information contained in this Traffic Crash Statistics booklet is extracted from law enforcement agency long-form reports of traffic crashes in which a motor vehicle is involved. A law enforcement officer must submit a long form crash report when investigating: • Motor vehicle crashes resulting in death or personal injury, or • Motor vehicle crashes in which one or more of the following conditions occur: • Leaving the scene involving damage to an attended vehicle or property (Section 316.061 (1), F.S.), or • Driving while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances or with an unlawful blood alcohol level (Section 316.193, F.S.). An investigating officer may report other traffic crashes on the long-form
crash report. In particular, applicable statutes specify an officer's discretion to submit a longform report in crashes where a vehicle is rendered inoperable to the degree that a wrecker is required to remove it from traffic. However, only those crashes that meet the critera above are included in this report. January 1, 2011, the Department began using a new and improved long form crash form. The data in this report comes from the previous long form crash report and the new long form crash report. In October of 2010, a few agencies began using the new crash report form. Both forms are attached to the end of this report.
THIS W EEK
______________________________________Legal Street News Monday, December 10, 2012
IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Delray Beach man identified as victim in Saturday crash
PBSO deputy hurt in crash on I-95 through Boynton Beach
Eight-car pile-up shuts down I-95 in Hollywood early Saturday
December 5, 2012
December 7, 2012
The driver who was critically injured in a crash Saturday in suburban Delray Beach has been identified as a 49-year-old Delray Beach man, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said.
BOYNTON BEACHâ€” A Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy was injures Tuesday after his unmarked patrol car was hit by a pick-up truck on Interstate 95, according to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Frith. Trooper Michael John Taylor, 56, was writing a report while sitting in the emergency lane south of Woolbright Road, when the driver of a pick-up truck hit him, Frith said.
Interstate 95 was briefly shutdown early Saturday following an accident involving a semitrailer truck that spun off several crashes involving a total of eight cars in Hollywood, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
The driver was taken to Delray Medical Center after the accident, which happened around 5:30 p.m. The driver was driving his 2006 Lexus southbound on Hagen Ranch Road when he ran a stop sign at Atlantic Avenue. The front end of the Lexus struck a guard rail, the sheriff's office said. The car crashed through the rain and into the canal. Patton was not wearing a seat belt when the car crashed, the sheriff's office said. Neither drugs nor alcohol appear to have been a cause of the crash
4 killed in I-95 crash in
The driver of the 1998 Ford Ranger pick-up truck, identified as Garret Allen Taylor, 42, of West Palm Beach, failed to notice the cars in front of him slowing down in response to flashing lights, Frith said. Taylor veered to the left to avoid hitting the car in front of him, striking the concrete barrier wall at high speed and bouncing across the highway toward the deputy's 2008 Dodge Charger in the emergency lane, authorities said. The truck struck the deputy's cruiser and then flipped over. Both men were taken to Delray Medical Center with serious injuries, Frith said.
The first crash occurred shortly after 6:30 a.m. on the northbound lanes of I-95 at Pembroke Road and included a vehicle that collided against a wall and then hit a tractor-trailer, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky. A driver traveling toward that crash could not slow down and pushed the car involved in the initial crash into the path of two other vehicles, sparking a multivehicle pile-up. Four people were transported to Memorial Regional Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Wysocky said.
Crash snarls northbound I-95 in south Broward
December 5, 2012 PALM CITY -- Four people were killed when a wrong-way driver slammed head-on into a pick-up truck on I-95 in Martin County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
3 dead in passenger van accident December 8, 2012
The crash happened just north of southwest Martin Highway near mile marker 110 in the northbound lanes of the interstate in Palm City.
A Lake Mary doctor was arrested on hit-and-run charges after he hit a motorcyclist in Volusia County and then left the scene, authorities said.
After the collision the vehicles became stuck together and caught fire.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Dr. Kevin Wynne hit 50-year-old Sabra Vocaturo with his SUV in February on State Road 415 and never stopped to help. Vocaturo was thrown from her bike into oncoming traffic.
Troopers say they believe all the victims were sitting side-by-side in the pickup. They say the other vehicle was headed the wrong way, southbound in the northbound lanes. Investigators are trying to determine if they had traveled the wrong way from St. Lucie County into Martin County. A witness pulled the driver from the wreckage. The driver was flown to Lawnwood Medical Center for treatment. FHP is trying to determine exactly who died in the crash.
December 9, 2012 The Broward Sheriff's Office advises that three lanes are back open on northbound Interstate 95 at Pembroke Road, but two right lanes still blocked. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, a traffic crash involved a tractor trailer and was reported shortly after 6:30 a.m. The agency reports that traffic is backed up to Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Motorists who want to avoid delays can use Federal Highway to the east or State Road 7 to the west.
Authorities said two drivers ran over Vocaturo. They stopped to help but told officers there was nothing they could do. Wynne was arrested at his Heathrow home on Thursday by the Florida Highway Patrol. His lawyer contacted FHP the day after the crash, telling them where to find Wynne's Infiniti SUV, which had a part missing. Wynne is being held in the Seminole County jail with bail set at $50,000.
"Unfortunately the victims, the people who were going the right way northbound.. we're not exactly sure how many people in the vehicle because they are, it's crushed and they're totally burned up so we're waiting for the Tri-County people to come out and take it apart and determine exactly who is in the vehicle," said a trooper on the scene. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating whether the driver of the vehicle going the wrong way was drinking.
Davie Driver Dies in I-95 Crash: FHP
December 6, 2012
Questions About Your Accident Report
A Davie man was killed on Interstate 95 Saturday morning after he lost control of his car and overturned, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Anthony Frank Madias, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. He was driving northbound on I-95 South around SW 10th Street in a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer, FHP said. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
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6 Legal Street News Monday December 10, 2012________________________________________________________
OBAMA REQUEST FOR SANDY AID COULD FACE HURDLES WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's proposal for $60.4 billion in federal aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy adds a huge new item to an end-of-year congressional agenda already packed with controversy.
surge that left parts of New York City underwater and millions of people in several states without heat or electricity for weeks.
The president's request to Congress on Friday followed weeks of discussions with lawmakers and officials from New York, New Jersey and other affected states who requested significantly more money, but generally praised the president's request as they urged Congress to adopt it without delay. "It's not everything we wanted, but it's close enough," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Pushing the request through Congress in the few weeks left before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year will be no easy task. Washington's attention is focused on the looming fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs set to begin at the end of the year. And tea party House Republicans are likely to press for budget cuts elsewhere to offset some or even all disaster costs. Those complications raised the prospects that the measure will be delayed in whole or in part until next year, although Schumer said the goal is to get it done by Dec. 31. The measure is likely to advance first in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where supporters hope it can be quickly analyzed and brought the floor as early as next week. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has also received the request and is reviewing it, a spokesman said. The massive request blends aid for homeowners, businesses, and state and local governments walloped by Sandy, a disaster whose cost is rivaled only by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005. The aid will help states rebuild public infrastructure like roads and tunnels and help thousands of people displaced from their homes. Most of the money - $47.4 billion - is for immediate help for victims and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. Another $13 billion would be used for mitigation efforts to protect against future storms. "We are committed to ensuring federal resources are used responsibly and that the recovery effort is a shared undertaking," Jeffrey D. Zients, deputy director of Obama's budget office, wrote to congressional leaders. Obama's request was met with praise from two governors who had traveled to Washington last week to press for as much help as possible: New York's Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey's Chris Christie. New York, New Jersey and
A Christmas wreath is displayed on the second floor porch railing of a home adjacent to the fire-damaged zone in the Breezy Point section of New York, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Over 100 homes were burned to the ground during Superstorm Sandy.
Connecticut together are seeking about $83 billion in aid. "We thank President Obama for his steadfast commitment of support and look forward to continuing our partnership in the recovery effort," Cuomo and Christie said in a joint statement. Friday's request was at the top end of what had been expected and came after Obama allies like Schumer had criticized the White House following reports it had settled on a $50 billion figure. As is traditional in natural disasters, the request was not accompanied by offsetting spending cuts to defray its cost. The measure contains $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's chief disaster relief fund and $17 billion for community development block grants, much of which would help homeowners repair or replace their homes. Another $11.7 billion would help repair New York City's subways and other mass transit damage and protect them from future storms. Some $9.7 billion would go toward the government's flood insurance program. The Army Corps of Engineers would receive $5.3 billion to mitigate flood future risks and rebuild damaged projects. Dozens of other smaller items are also included in the 73-page official justification. Praise for the proposal was not universal. "We should not shortchange nor add strings to the support residents, businesses and communities in my district and across the region desperately need," said Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, whose southern New Jersey district includes hard-hit Atlantic City. "I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the federal aid package passed by Congress realistically matches the needs identified by the states on the ground." The late October storm flooded parts of the East Coast when it roared ashore, creating a storm
Superstorm Sandy is blamed for at least 125 deaths, including 60 in New York, 34 in New Jersey and 16 in Pennsylvania. At least seven people died in West Virginia, where the storm dropped heavy snow. Sandy damaged or destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey. In New York, 305,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses affected.
On Tuesday, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, said the government's disaster relief fund still has $4.8 billion, enough to pay for recovery efforts into early spring. So far, the government has spent about $2 billion in the 11 states struck by the storm.
R U S S I A N P R E M I E R JOKES ABOUT SECRET FILES ON ALIENS MOSCOW (AP) -- "Men in Black" agents K and J may be about to recruit a new Russian assistant: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev has spoken about top secret files on aliens that may have landed in Russia. In footage recorded Friday after a television interview, the former president joked that each Russian leader gets two folders with information about extraterrestrials that visited our planet - and stayed here. Unseen on camera footage, he is heard telling a Ren TV journalist he could not tell "how many of them are among us, because it may cause panic." He said more details could be found in Barry Sonnenfeld's "Men in Black" films. During his 2008-2012 presidency, Medvedev showed a sense of humor slightly more subtle than Putin's sometimes brutal jokes.
http://www.network.directrelief.org Healthcare Providers: If you are a healthcare provider located in the United States, contact us by calling 1-877-30-DR-USA (1-877-303-7872).
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_____________________________________________________Legal Street News Monday, December 10, 2012
GENE-ALTERED MOSQUITOES COULD BE USED VS. DENGUE KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) -- Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first such experiment in the U.S. Some Key West residents worry, though, that not enough research has been done to determine the risks that releasing genetically modified mosquitoes might pose to the Keys' fragile ecosystem. Officials are targeting the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes because they can spread dengue fever, a disease health officials thought had been eradicated in the U.S. until 93 cases originated in the Keys in 2009 and 2010. The trial planned by mosquito control officials and the British company Oxitec would release non-biting male mosquitoes that have been genetically modified to pass along a birth defect that kill their progeny before reaching maturity. The idea is that they will mate with wild females and their children will die before reproducing. After a few generations, Key West's Aedes aegypti population would die off, reducing the dengue fever risk without using pesticides and at relatively a low cost, the proponents say. There is no vaccine for dengue fever. "The science of it, I think, looks fine. It's straight from setting up experiments and collecting data," said Michael Doyle, pointing to research Oxitec has had published in peerreviewed scientific journals. He inherited the project when he took the lead at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District in mid-2011. The district's website says the modified genes will disappear from the environment after the mosquitoes carrying it die, resulting in no permanent change to the wild mosquito population. The district also says that the mosquito species isn't native to the Keys, nor is it an integral food source for other animals. Dengue fever is a viral disease that inflicts severe flu-like symptoms - the joint pain is so severe its nickname is "breakbone fever." It isn't fatal but victims are then susceptible at subsequent exposures to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be. "It's very uncomfortable. You ache all over, you have a terrible fever," said Joel Biddle, a Key West resident whose dengue fever symptoms lasted more than a week in 2009. Biddle is among those concerned about the Key West trial. He worries the modified genetic material will somehow be passed to humans or the ecosystem, and he wants more research done. He and other Key West residents also chafe at the fact that the project
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quito control district's research director. In the trial, thousands of male mosquitoes bred by Oxitec would be released in a handful of Key West blocks where the Aedes aegypti is known to breed; the number of mosquitoes in those neighborhoods would be measured against the numbers from similar blocks where no modified mosquitoes were released.
In this Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 photo, Jason Garcia, a field inspector with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, tests a sprayer that could be used in the future to spray pesticides to control mosquitos in Key West, Fla. The British company Oxitec and mosquito control officials hope to release genetically modified mosquitoes to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, that can transmit dengue fever, without using pesticides and at relatively a low cost. But some Key West residents and environmental groups think the genetically modified mosquitoes pose a bigger threat than regular dengue or even dengue hemorrhagic fever. They worry the modified genetic material will somehow be passed to humans and the Keys ecosystem and they want more research into the potential risks.
was in the works long before it was made public late last year. Only female mosquitoes bite, so the modified genetic material wouldn't be passed on to humans, Mosquito control and Oxitec officials said. They also say they're being transparent about their data and the trial. Real estate agent Mila de Mier has collected more than 117,700 signatures on a petition she posted on Change.org against the trial. Most come from outside the Keys, which de Mier says shows that tourists don't support the mosquito control district. "We are dependent here on our tourists, and people from all over the country have been sending the message," de Mier said. A University of Florida professor who studies mosquito control said Oxitec's technology works and evidence from the company's experiments elsewhere show it can control mosquito populations, but it's not clear whether its methods are as effective at controlling the risk of disease transmission. Phil Lounibos of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory also said it would take repeated releases of modified mosquitoes for the program to work, and the public outcry against genetically modified organisms, even when it's irrational, may be insurmountable. "The public resistance and the need to reach some agreement between mosquito control and the public, I see that as a very significant issue, outside of the (operating) costs, since this is not just a one-time thing," Lounibos said. The Aedes aegypti has shown resistance to pesticides used to control other species, and is the most difficult for the district to manage. Common in the Southeast and the Caribbean, it lurks in standing water around homes and businesses and can breed in containers as small as bottle caps. District inspectors go door-to-door to remove the standing water where they breed, a timeconsuming task. The district spends roughly $1 million a year to suppress Aedes aegypti, 10 to 15 percent of the agency's budget, Doyle said. "Unfortunately, control of Aedes aegypti is a never-ending job," said Larry Hriber, the mos-
The state's agriculture department oversees the mosquito control district, and Doyle said he would not expect any challenge from the state if the FDA signed off on the trial. The mosquito control district wouldn't need any local permit for the trial, either, but officials held a public meeting earlier this year and have posted information on the agency's website. That trial may be years away. FDA spokeswoman Morgan Liscinsky said no genetically modified species can be released without approval. There hasn't been a case of dengue fever in Key West since November 2010, but two other cases were reported elsewhere in South Florida this fall. The mosquito trial proposed for Key West wouldn't be the first release of genetically modified insects in the U.S. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service concluded that integrating genetically modified pink bollworms, bred by Oxitec to be sterile but more competitive in mating than regular bollworms, into the agency's plant pest control program was "the environmentally preferable alternative" to combat the cotton pest. The program was discontinued, however, after officials found that the genetically modified insects were not as hardy as pink bollworms sterilized through irradiation, and that their use in organic cotton fields would cause farmers to lose their certification. Oxitec said the USDA's environmental assessment is one of several examples of proof that the trial's risks and methods are being independently evaluated. The company has trials in Brazil, the Cayman Islands and Malaysia, and it says it's gotten positive reviews from the latter two governments. It also cites its published research in peer-reviewed journals. But Biddle, the onetime dengue patient, wants Oxitec to continue testing the modified mosquitoes outside the U.S. "Why the rush here?" the Key West man said. "We already have test cases in the world where we can watch what is happening and make the best studies, because wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find out how it can be fail-safe - which it is not right now. It's an open Pandora's box."
Legal Street News Monday, December 10, 2012
T O T H E M O O N ? F I R M H O P E S T O S E L L $ 1 . 5 B I L L I O N T R I P S WASHINGTON (AP) -Attention wealthy nations and billionaires: A team of former NASA executives will fly you to the moon in an out-of-this-world commercial venture combining the wizardry of Apollo and the marketing of Apple.
Getting to the moon would involve several steps: Two astronauts would launch to Earth orbit, connect with another engine that would send them to lunar orbit. Around the moon, the crew would link up with a lunar orbiter and take a moon landing ship down to the surface.
For a mere $1.5 billion, the business is offering countries the chance to send two people to the moon and back, either for research or national prestige. And if you are an individual with that kind of money to spare, you too can go the moon for a couple days.
The company will buy existing rockets and capsules for the launches, Stern said, only needing to develop new spacesuits and a lunar lander. Stern said he's aiming for a first launch before the end of the decade and then up 15 or 20 launches total. Just getting to the first launch will cost the company between $7 billion and $8 billion, he said.
Some space experts, though, are skeptical of the firm's financial ability to get to the moon. The venture called Golden Spike Co. was announced Thursday. Dozens of private space companies have started up recently, but few if any will make it - just like in other fields - said Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks launches worldwide.
This undated image made available by NASA and photographed by the Expedition 28 crew aboard the International Space Station, shows the moon, at center with the limb of Earth near the bottom transitioning into the orange-colored troposphere, the lowest and most dense portion of the Earth's atmosphere. A team of former NASA executives are launching a private venture to send people to the moon for $1.5 billion. The newly formed business is offering countries a two-person trip to the moon, either for research or national prestige. The venture was announced Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2012.
"This is unlikely to be the one that will pan out," McDowell said. NASA's last trip to the moon launched 40 years ago Friday. The United States is the only country that has landed people there, beating the Soviet Union in a space race to the moon that transfixed the world. But once the race ended, there has been only sporadic interest in the moon. President Barack Obama cancelled NASA's planned return to the moon, saying America had already been there. On Wednesday, a National Academy of Sciences said the nation's space agency has no clear goal or direction for future human exploration. But the ex-NASA officials behind Golden Spike do. It's that old moon again. The firm has talked to other countries, which are showing interest, said former NASA associate administrator Alan Stern,
Golden Spike's president. Stern said he's looking at countries like South Africa, South Korea, and Japan. One very rich individual - he won't give a name - has also been talking with them, but the company's main market is foreign nations, he said. "It's not about being first. It's about joining the club," Stern said. "We're kind of cleaning up what NASA did in the 1960s. We're going to make a commodity of it in the 2020s." The selling point: "the sex appeal of flying your own astronauts," Stern said. Many countries did pony up millions of dollars to fly their astronauts on the Russian space station Mir and American space shuttles in the 1990s, but a billion dollar price tag seems a bit steep, Harvard's McDowell said. NASA chief spokesman David Weaver said the new company "is further evidence of the timeliness and wisdom of the Obama administration's overall space policy" which tries to foster commercial space companies.
Besides the ticket price, Stern said there are other revenue sources, such as NASCAR-like advertising, football stadium-like naming rights, and Olympic style
video rights. It may be technically feasible, but it's harder to see how it is financially doable, said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, space policy director at George Washington University. Just dealing with the issue of risk and the required test launches is inordinately expensive, he said. Company board chairman Gerry Griffin, an Apollo flight director who once headed the Johnson Space Center, said that's a correct assessment: "I don't think there's any technological stumble here. It's going to be financial." The company is full of space veterans; American University space policy professor Howard McCurdy called them "heavy hitters" in the field. Advisers include space shuttle veterans, Hollywood directors, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and engineer-author Homer Hickam.
AFTER CLIMATE TALKS, EYES O N U S F O R N E X T R O U N D DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- Even as international climate talks ended this weekend with no new commitments on carbon emissions or climate aid from the United States, some were relieved America didn't make a weak deal even weaker. Other countries are now watching to see if the Obama administration will back up post-election comments about climate change with renewed efforts to cut emissions at home, and pave the way for more ambitious targets as work proceeds to adopt a new global climate pact in 2015. The two-week talks in Doha ended with an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which was to expire this year, but which now will only cover 15 percent of global emissions since several developed countries, including Japan and Canada, have opted out. The U.S. never ratified the accord. European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Sunday that the U.S. negotiators were "careful not to block" the negotiations, adding that it's "still difficult to know whether they will actually invest political capital in committing to a new international deal." In an emailed comment to The Associated Press, Hedegaard said she hopes Obama "will present not only an enhanced domestic climate policy but also an enhanced U.S. engagement and willingness to commit more in an international climate context." Both rich and poor countries have long accused the U.S. of hampering the global effort to fight climate change, which scientists say is raising sea levels, threatening low-lying areas and island nations, and shifting weather patterns with impacts on droughts, floods and the frequency of devastating storms. Alone among industrialized nations, the U.S. rejected the
1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only binding treaty to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The Bush administration said it would hurt the U.S. economy and that it was unfair because it didn't include emerging economies including China and India. Hopes for stronger U.S. leadership in the U.N. talks under Obama were dashed when emissions-capping legislation stalled in Congress. But expectations rose anew this year after Hurricane Sandy pushed climate change back in the domestic political debate. After his re-election, Obama talked about "the destructive power of a warming planet," and said he hoped to open a national conversation on the issue. "I think what we saw from the U.S. in Doha was a mixed performance," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said the U.S. was a "major impediment" in negotiations to ramp up climate aid to help poor countries shift to clean energy and adapt to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change. On the other hand, the U.S. acknowledged that it has more work to do at home to meet its voluntary pledge of reducing emissions by 17 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. "Also, the lead U.S. negotiator, Todd Stern, expressed a newfound willingness to discuss how to equitably share responsibility amongst countries for making the substantial post-2020 emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change," Meyer said. "These were both positive signals in Doha." Some were relieved that U.S. negotiators didn't block a proposal by small island nations to discuss "loss and
damage," which relates to damages from climate-related disasters. Small island nations under threat from rising sea levels have been pushing for some mechanism to help them cope with such natural catastrophes, but the U.S. had pushed back over concerns it might be held liable for the cleanup bill since it is the world's second-biggest emitter behind China. The Doha deal doesn't establish that kind of mechanism, but says that countries agree to talk about it. "It is a significant change in (the U.S.) stance and big unexpected outcome for Doha," said Iain Keith, senior campaigner with activist group Avaaz. He said overall there was "subtle yet significant shift" in the U.S. position in the talks. "Many parties will be disappointed that the U.S. didn't come here and offer more on finance," he said. "But with the fiscal cliff discussion in Washington, their hands are tied," he added, referring to the looming combination of automatic tax increases and U.S. government spending cuts early next year. The Doha deal included vague language on how rich countries would scale up climate aid to $100 billion annually by 2020 - a goal agreed to three years ago. With budgets under stress from financial turmoil, developed countries resisted calls by developing countries to make firm commitments. "I think in general donor countries with some exceptions were not in a position to put hard numbers on table for all sorts of reasons among them fiscal challenges that we are facing in the U.S. and Europe is facing," said Stern, the U.S. climate envoy.