Editor’s Choice: Top Five Legal News Stories To Help You Today

Posted June 29, 2011 in Current Events by David Baarlaer

Here are some news items we thought would interest you.

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  • Toxic Smoke in NM wildfires? As the wild fires in New Mexico continue to rage on and spread, there new concerns over what’s in the smoke. A newer fire near the Los Alamos National Laboratory has federal officials scanning for radiation.

    The Lab, which is located outside Santa Fe, focuses on national security measures, and particularly US nuclear weapons programs. So, stockpiles of nuclear materials, including waste, are on the Lab’s premises. The EPA has set up air monitors, and there’s a special airplane used to measure radiation. The Lab is closed through June 30.

    We can’t stress enough how important it is to plan for disaster survival and recovery. Anyone living near or in the path of one of the wildfires should have an evacuation plan in place. Stay tuned to local news for updates and emergency warnings to keep you and your family safe.

  • Time to hit the beach? Maybe not. Environmentalists warn beach-goers across the US to be careful where and when they go looking for sun and sand. The group studied federal and state data from over 3,000 beaches and found:

    1. Storm water, sewage and the Gulf oil spill caused a spike in beach closings and health warnings in 2010 – a 30 percent increase
    2. There were over 24,000 days of beach closings and health advisories at beaches along oceans and the Great Lakes

    Even though these numbers are from 2010, the danger remains because contaminants can hit the beaches after heavy storms, like the ones seen across the US this spring and summer – not to mention the upcoming hurricane season. Arlene, 2011′s first tropical storm just formed and is expected to hit Mexico Thursday or Friday.

    Do reports like this make a Staycation more appealing? If not, we can help you plan, save money and be safe on your summer trip.

  • Safer sleeping for your baby. New and expectant parents, and baby shower gift-buyers, take note: New crib safety standards went into effect yesterday. The new rules, which apply to cribs of all sizes:

    1. Bar the manufacture or sale of traditional drop-side rail cribs
    2. Require stronger crib slats and mattress supports
    3. Improve the quality of hardware
    4. Require more rigorous testing

    The rules also apply to cribs currently in use at child care centers, as well as hotels and other places of public accommodation.

    Before buying a crib – either new or used – be sure to check:

    1. The manufacturer’s web site or packaging materials to see if the crib meets the new standards
    2. For recalls and other safety warnings

    In fact, it’s a good idea to check these things for anything you buy for your baby. Learn more about keeping your children safe at home.

  • Cyber extortion: Hackers hold Florida city hostage. A group of hackers known as Anonymous declared war on the City of Orlando, Florida, using digital weaponry. Calling it "operation Orlando," the group is systematically attacking and shutting down city web sites, including the mayor’s reelection campaign site. The group vows to continue the attack – shutting down one web site per day – unless its demands are met.

    What demands? Apparently, the hackers want the city to stop enforcing an ordinance restricting where and how often groups like Food Not Bombs may distribute food to the homeless in the city’s public parks. The most recent attacks yesterday were in response to the second arrest of the founder of Food Not Bombs.

    We’ve discussed the rights of the homeless, and there really can’t be much argument over the noble goal of trying to help those in need. Of course, towns and cities like Orlando have the health and aesthetic concerns of the public to worry about. Members of Anonymous, if caught, may face serious state and federal criminal charges for the hacks, and Orlando loses taxpayer money each time a site is shut down and needs to be hack-proofed. There has to be a more constructive (and legal) way to keep both sides happy.

  • BofA settles mortgage fraud lawsuit. The Bank of America, one of the country’s largest mortgage lenders, has agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle claims by investors who bought the bank’s mortgage-backed securities. The investors lost millions when the housing market collapsed. The investors also argued BofA charged and increased service charges on mortgages that should have been foreclosed.

    Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the end of the mortgage fraud and foreclosure fraud scandals that have gripped the housing, banking and investment markets since late 2008. However, it’s a good start. At the very least, schilling out millions of dollars should push BofA – and other lenders – to make sure its mortgage and foreclosure processes are financially and legally sound.

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