Tag Archives: New York

Reopenings risk more virus outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world

Reopenings bring new cases in S. Korea, virus fears in Italy

A street that is normally swarming with vacationers as the tourism season kicks off stands empty in Cyprus’ popular seaside resort village of Ayia Napa, Saturday, May 9, 2020. With coronavirus restrictions gradually lifting, Cyprus authorities are mulling ways to get holidaymakers back to the tourism-reliant island nation that officials say is conservatively estimated to lose at least 60% of its annual tourist arrivals. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Associated Press, by Nicole Winfield, Vanessa Gera, Amy Forliti, 5/1020

ROME (AP) — South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots Saturday because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses, and Italian authorities worried that people were getting too friendly at cocktail hour during the country’s first weekend of eased restrictions.

The new flareups — and fears of a second wave of contagion — underscored the dilemma authorities face as they try to reopen their economies.

Around the world, the U.S. and other hard-hit countries are wrestling with how to ease curbs on business and public activity without causing the virus to come surging back.

In New York, the deadliest hot spot in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo said three children died from a possible complication of the coronavirus involving swollen blood vessels and heart problems. At least 73 children statewide have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition — and toxic shock syndrome. But there is no proof the mysterious syndrome is caused by the virus.

Two members of the White House coronavirus task force — the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration — placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, a stark reminder that not even one of the nation’s most secure buildings is immune from the virus.

Elsewhere, Belarus, which has not locked down despite sharply rising infections, saw tens of thousands turn out to mark Victory Day, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945. Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed concerns about the virus as a “psychosis.”

That was in contrast to Russia, which skipped the usual grand military parade in Moscow’s Red Square. This year’s observance had been expected to be especially large because it is the 75th anniversary, but instead, President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier and a show of military might was limited to a flyover of 75 warplanes and helicopters.

Worldwide, 4 million people have been confirmed infected by the virus, and more than 279,000 have died, including over 78,000 in the U.S., according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Spain, France, Italy and Britain have reported around 26,000 to 32,000 deaths each.

Germany and South Korea have both carried out extensive testing and contact tracing and have been hailed for avoiding the mass deaths that overwhelmed other countries. But even there, authorities have struggled to find the balance between saving lives and salvaging jobs.

Seoul shut down nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of infections were linked to people who went out last weekend as the country relaxed social distancing. Many of the infections were connected to a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs before testing positive.

Mayor Park Won-soon said health workers were trying to contact some 1,940 people who had been at the three clubs and other places nearby. The mayor said gains made against the virus are now threatened “because of a few careless people.”

Germany faced outbreaks at three slaughterhouses in what was seen as a test of its strategy for dealing with any resurgence as restrictions ease. At one slaughterhouse, in Coesfeld, 180 workers tested positive.

Businesses in the U.S. continue to struggle as more employers reluctantly conclude that their laid-off employees might not return to work anytime soon. Health officials are watching for a second wave of infections, roughly two weeks after states began gradually reopening with Georgia largely leading the way.

Some malls have opened up in Georgia and Texas, while Nevada restaurants, hair salons and other businesses were able to have limited reopenings Saturday or once again allow customers inside after nearly two months of restrictions.

The reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Tennessee-North Carolina border was a bit too tempting a draw as scores of nature lovers crowded parking lots and trails and even trekked into closed areas, park spokeswoman Dana Soehn said. Many did not wear masks.

In Los Angeles, hikes to the iconic hillside Hollywood sign and hitting the golf links were allowed as the California county hit hardest reopened some sites to recreation-starved stay-at-homers.

Mayor Eric Garcetti urged “good judgment” and said the city would rely on education and encouragement rather than heavy-handed enforcement: “Not our vision to make this like a junior high school dance with people standing too close to each other,” he said.

In New York, a Cuomo spokesman said the governor was extending stay-at-home restrictions to June 7, but another top aide later clarified that that was not so; the May 15 expiration date for the restrictions remains in place “until further notice,” Melissa DeRosa said in an evening statement.

The federal government said it was delivering supplies of remdesivir, the first drug shown to speed recovery for COVID-19 patients, to six more states, after seven others were sent cases of the medicine earlier this week.

Italy saw people return to the streets and revel in fine weather.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala warned that “a handful of crazy people” were putting his city’s recovery at risk and threatened to shut down the trendy Navigli district after crowds of young people were seen out at the traditional aperitivo hour ignoring social-distancing rules.

The Campo dei Fiori flower and vegetable market was also bustling in Rome. But confusion created frustrations for the city’s shopkeepers.

Carlo Alberto, owner of TabaCafe, an Argentine empanada bar that was selling cocktails to a few customers, said that since reopening this week, police had threatened to fine him over crowds outside.

“Am I supposed to send them home? They need a guard here to do that,” he said. “The laws aren’t clear, the decree isn’t clear. You don’t know what you can do.”

Elsewhere, Pakistan allowed shops, factories, construction sites and other businesses to reopen, even as more than 1,600 new cases and 24 deaths were reported. Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government was rolling back curbs because it can’t support millions who depend on daily wages. But controls could be reimposed if people fail to practice social distancing.

In Spain certain regions can scale back lockdowns starting Monday, with limited seating at bars, restaurants and other public places. But Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s largest cities, will remain shut down.

“The pandemic is evolving favorably, but there is a risk of another outbreak that could generate a serious catastrophe,” Spanish health official Fernando Simón said. “Personal responsibility is vital.”


Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland, and Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Roundup of Actions Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Vermont and NY (PHOTOS)

Repost from EarthFirst! Newswire

Roundup of Actions Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Vermont and NY (PHOTOS)

July 7th, 2015

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from Rising Tide Vermont

* 150+ w/dozens occupying the tracks in Ticonderoga to ‪#‎StopOilTrains‬.
* Four arrested blockading VT fracked gas pipeline construction.
* TWAC still locked down to CNG truck on way to IP mill.

Disrupting Vermont Gas Systems

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from Burlington Free Press

About 30 protesters disrupted work at a Vermont Gas Systems construction site in Williston on Tuesday morning.

Four protesters were arrested on suspicion that they unlawfully trespassed to stop work at the construction site, said Williston police Chief Todd Shepard. Williston police had given protesters until 7 a.m. to move.

Vermont State Police, Essex police and South Burlington police were also on scene. Shepard said about 14 law enforcement representatives had arrived by the end of the protest.

Thomas Buckley, 34, of Westford and Martha Waterman, 25, of Charlotte chained themselves together across a ditch digging machine. Avery Pittman, 25, of Burlington was later also chained to Waterman.

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Buckley, Waterman and Pittman were taken into custody before 9 a.m. Grayson Flory, 28, of Los Angeles was also arrested after refusing to leave the site at 310 Hurricane Lane.

All protesters arrested were carried from the site by law enforcement, but they did not actively resist arrest otherwise, Shepard said.

Each protester has been released from police custody and issued a citation to appear on Thursday in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington, Shepard said.

Occupation of the Tracks

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Flotilla

from Rising Tide Vermont: More than a hundred people converged in Ticonderoga, NY today for a flotilla and symbolic blockade to ‪#StopOilTrains.

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Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster, in which a train carrying fracked oil exploded and leveled the small Quebec town, killing 47 people.

In the so-called Champlain valley, tens of millions of gallons of fracked oil are transported annually along the lake, and industry is making plans to start bringing tar sands through.

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TWAC Throws Down

from Rising Tide Vermont: “Our friends at the Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp (TWAC) also stopped a truck on its way to deliver compressed fracked natural gas to International Paper. One person has locked their body to the back of the truck preventing it from making a delivery. Fracked gas by truck is just as dirty and dangerous as fracked gas in a pipeline!”

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(TWAC is a group of activists who identify as Trans*, Transgender, Genderqueer, and Gender non-conforming as well as anyone who identifies as a woman regardless of whether they were assigned female at birth)

Released from Jail!!!

The four people who were arrested this morning blocking the construction of the fracked gas pipeline have all been released. Please share and donate to our legal fund to support this fierce escalation of resistance against extreme energy! Donate to our legal fund at: http://bit.ly/J7legal

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Riverkeeper sues U.S. DOT over oil train safety rules

Repost from The Times Union, State College, PA
[Editor: Note that this is a new filing, closely following the filing of May 14 by a coalition of environmental groups.  – RS]

Riverkeeper sues U.S. DOT over oil train safety rules

By Brian Nearing, May 18, 2015

The Hudson River environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper is challenging new U.S. Department of Transportation crude-by-rail standards in federal court, saying that they fail to protect the public and the environment from proven threats, according to a statement issued Monday.

The release states: Riverkeeper filed its lawsuit in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City on May 15, a little more than a week after the DOT issued a final tank car and railroad operation rule which had been the subject of scrutiny and controversy since its proposal in 2014. The suit closely follows another filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by a coalition of conservation and citizen groups that includes Earthjustice, Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club.

The Hudson River and the Greater New York/New Jersey region, a thoroughfare for up to 25 percent of all crude shipments originating in the Bakken shale oil region, faces a daily risk of spills and explosions that could devastate communities, local economies, drinking water security, and the environment.

“These seriously flawed standards all but guarantee that there will be more explosive derailments, leaving people and the environment at grave risk,” Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said. “The shortcomings are numerous, including an inadequate speed limit, unprotective tank car design, and time line that would allow these dangerous tank cars 10 more years on the rails. The DOT completely fails to recognize that we’re in the middle of a crisis – we don’t need bureaucratic half measures that are years away from implementation, we need common-sense protections today.”

Just this month, tank cars laden with crude oil derailed and exploded in Heimdal, North Dakota. Under the new DOT standards, the same type of cars that exploded in that disaster could stay in service hauling volatile crude oil for another five to eight years, or even indefinitely if they are used for tar sands.

Over the past several years, a series of fiery derailments, toxic spills, and explosions involving volatile crude and ethanol rail transport has caused billions in damages across North America. Crude-by-rail accidents threaten irreversible damage to waterways, many of which, like the Hudson River, serve as the source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people. This year alone,six oil-by-rail shipments have caught fire and exploded in North America. In July 2013, a derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killed 47 people. The total liabilities for that rail disaster could easily reach $2.7 billion over the next decade.

Here are some of the ways the new safety standards fail to protect people and the environment:

• Hazardous cars carrying volatile crude oil can remain in service for up to 10 years.

• The rule rolls back public notification requirements, leaving communities and first responders in the dark about explosive crude oil tank cars rumbling through their towns.

• While new tank cars will require thicker shells to mitigate punctures and leaks, retrofit tank cars will be allowed to stay in use with a less protective design standard.

• Speed limits have been restricted only for “high threat urban areas,” but only two areas in New York have received that designation, Buffalo and New York City.

• The “high threat” category relates to cities seen as vulnerable to terrorist attacks by the Department of Homeland Security. It is unrelated to actual risks posed by crude-by-rail.

All-Republican NY county unanimous in opposing Bakken oil trains and barges along Hudson River

Repost from the Philipstown.info, Cold Spring & Philipstown NY

Putnam Legislature Opposes Oil Trains, MTA Tax

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong, April 14, 2015

With little ado, the Putnam County Legislature last Wednesday (April 8) opposed two train-transit practices, one involving freight traffic — the unsafe shipping of incendiary crude oil along the Hudson River; and the other involving commuter lines — the levying of taxes to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, whose trains carry numerous county residents to work every day.

By 8-0 votes (with one member absent), the legislature urged New York State to revoke permits that allow volatile oil to travel on the Hudson and to reverse its finding that expanding an Albany oil transportation terminal raises no “significant” concerns. It likewise sought the repeal of the MTA taxes on payrolls and vehicles.

In other business at its formal monthly meeting, the legislature unanimously opted to legalize limited use of sparklers, popular Fourth of July “pyrotechnic” devices.

Barges and ‘bomb’ trains

In addressing the so-called “bomb” train question, the all-Republican legislature added its voice to a growing, bipartisan chorus of local governments in the Hudson Valley opposing the use of rail lines along the river, as well as barges, to move highly explosive oil without adequate safeguards. The legislature devoted much of a committee meeting in February to a background discussion of the issue. (See County Committee to Draft Call for Action on Bomb Trains.)

Its resolution, to be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative officials, refers to use of “unacceptably dangerous” rail cars to move Bakken shale oil and heavy tar-sands oil, which originate in North Dakota and Alberta, Canada, and are more hazardous than other forms of fuel. The resolution says that daily two to three oil trains, each with 3 million gallons, travel down the western side of the Hudson, opposite Putnam. It points out that recent oil-train derailments in the United States and Canada caused “loss of property and significant environmental and economic damage” as well as, in one case, 47 deaths.

The resolution notes that one oil company, Global Partners LP, proposes to expand its oil terminals in Newburgh and New Windsor, across the Hudson from Putnam County, which could “double the number of trains and marine vessels” carrying such dangerous fuel along the Hudson, despite the presence of designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats in the Hudson Highlands, Fishkill Creek and elsewhere. A similar expansion is proposed for an Albany facility, the legislature stated.

The resolution also declares that:

  • Under present laws, “no collaboration must take place between the railroads and the towns through which these rail cars [go].”
  • “There have been no spill-response drills in Putnam County waters.”
  • “Putnam County’s shorelines include private residences and businesses, public parks, and critical public infrastructure at significant risk in the case of a crude-oil spill” and that “tourism based on a clean environment is an important part of Putnam County’s economy.”

The legislature asked the state “to immediately revoke permits … allowing for the transport of up to 2.8 billion gallons per year of crude oil on the Hudson River [and] order full environmental impact studies, including the potential impacts of a crude oil spill in the Hudson River affecting Putnam County shoreline property, environmental resources, and drinking water.”

It similarly urged the state to rescind a “negative declaration of significance” on expansion of Albany oil operations and “order a full, integrated environmental impact study of the proposed expansion” of oil terminals in New Windsor and Newburgh, as well as Albany. Under present laws, “no collaboration must take place between the railroads and the towns through which these rail cars [go].”

“It’s not understood” how much risk the transport of volatile oil brings, said Carl Albano, the legislature’s chairman. “It’s a major, major issue in our backyard.”

Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown, observed that the “bomb” trains run along the Hudson “over crumbling bridges and through towns and villages,” compounding the potential for devastation.

“There are really no safeguards in place and it’s scary. If we were to have an explosion, it would be catastrophic,” Legislator Dini LoBue added.

…(the article continues on other local business)…