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Florida residents urged to ‘kill iguanas’ as population of ‘menace’ lizards explodes

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People in Florida are being encouraged to “kill iguanas on their own property wherever possible” – because they are becoming a “nuisance” for homeowners.

The population of green iguanas in the Sunshine State is said to be exploding and the consistent hot weather is making the problem worse.
They can grow to as big as 5ft (1.52m) in length and weigh 17 pounds (7.7kg) – with females laying as many as 76 eggs a year.

Authorities say they are an “invasive species” due to the damage they can cause to infrastructure by “digging burrows that erode and collapse” – affecting “seawalls, sidewalks, and landscape plants”.

It is also claimed the reptiles can transmit Salmonella to humans through contact with water or surfaces contaminated by their faeces.

Bob Lugari moved from California to Fort Lauderdale in South Florida and claimed he was rather taken when he spotted the bright green lizards on his roof.

He told the Washington Post: “I thought, how adorable, how cute, how Floridian. They looked so tropical.
“I never had iguanas in California, and I thought, this is part of the Florida experience. I should embrace this.”

But he says he soon went off them when they started munching on his plants in the garden and leaving messy brown droppings on his pool deck.

He told the paper: “They aren’t cute anymore. They’re a menace.”

On its website, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said the lizards are not native to the area – and said residents do not need permission to kill them.

It said: “This species is not protected in Florida expect by anti-cruelty law.
“Homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguanas on their own property, and the FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible.

“Iguanas can also be killed year-round and without a permit on 22 public lands.”

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/florida-residents-urged-to-kill-iguanas-as-population-of-menace-lizards-explodes-11755855

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Charge against Kevin Spacey dropped after alleged victim pleads the 5th

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Massachusetts prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a criminal case against actor Kevin Spacey, a week after a man who accused him of assault pleaded the fifth on the witness stand.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said the decision was made “due to the unavailability of the complaining witness,” according to a court filing.
Spacey, 59, had faced criminal charge of indecent assault and battery in connection with a July 2016 incident where he was accused of groping a young man at a Nantucket bar. The former “House of Cards” star had pleaded not guilty and faced up to five years in prison, if convicted.

The alleged victim, who CNN is not naming, exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a July 8 pre-trial hearing focused on the disappearance of a cell phone he used the night of the alleged assault and questions about whether he deleted text messages.

“My client and his family have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances,” Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney who represented the young man, said Wednesday.
Spacey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, did not immediately return a telephone call and email seeking comment Wednesday.

Key piece of evidence missing

The accuser’s missing cell phone was a key piece of evidence.
During the alleged assault, the accuser sent text messages on his phone, including a less-than-one-second-long video, to his girlfriend.
A Nantucket judge had ordered Spacey’s accuser, his mother — Heather Unruh, a former TV news anchor in New England — and their attorney to turn over the phone so defense experts could examine it.

The accuser and Unruh testified the last time they saw the phone was before Unruh delivered it to prosecutors in December 2017.
Spacey’s defense team claimed exculpatory evidence may have been deleted from the phone before it was given to police and prosecutors. Jackson, one of Spacey’s lawyers, told the judge in the July hearing they believed the accuser and Unruh “deleted things off the phone… . They sanitized the phone.”
Spacey’s accuser testified he didn’t delete anything from the phone.
Unruh testified she “deleted a few things,” but she did not say what. There was “no intent on my part,” she testified.

#MeToo allegations

One of Hollywood’s most famous and recognizable actors, Spacey’s career collapsed in November 2017 following several allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
Actor Anthony Rapp, in an interview with BuzzFeed, accused Spacey of making a sexual advance toward him in 1986 when he was 14 years old and Spacey was 26.
In a Twitter statement, Spacey said he did not remember the incident but offered an apology in response to Rapp’s acount. In the same statement, he came out as a gay man, a decision sharply criticized for its seeming attempt to conflate his sexuality with a serious allegation of wrongdoing.
Netflix fired Spacey days later, following a CNN report in November 2017 where several current and former members of the “House of Cards” production staff came forward with allegations of sexual harassment. One former production assistant told CNN that Spacey sexually assaulted him during one of the show’s early seasons.
Spacey has not responded to CNN’s request for comment regarding those allegations.
In December 2018, Spacey posted a video to his Twitter account speaking directly to the camera in the persona of his “House of Cards” character Frank Underwood. The character was killed off in the show after Spacey was fired.
“Of course, some believed everything and have just been waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all,” he said with the character’s Southern accent. “They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved. Wouldn’t that be easy if it was all so simple? Only you and I both know it’s not that simple, not in politics and not in life.”
“But you wouldn’t believe the worst without evidence, would you? You wouldn’t rush to judgment without facts, would you? Did you?” he said.

The allegations in Massachusetts

The criminal charge in Nantucket against Spacey stemmed from an incident at the Club Car, a restaurant and bar. According to the criminal complaint, an 18-year-old busboy at Club Car told Spacey that he was 23 and befriended the actor.
The busboy told police Spacey bought him a number of alcoholic drinks, bragged to him about the size of his penis, and tried to get him to go back to the actor’s house afterward, the complaint said.
Later, as the two stood near the piano player in the bar, Spacey reached over and began to rub the busboy’s thigh, the complaint states. Spacey then unzipped the accuser’s pants and rubbed his penis, both in and out of his pants, for about three minutes, he told police.
After several minutes, Spacey got up to go to the bathroom and the young man left the bar and went home, the complaint said.
The complaint was filed more than a year after Unruh, held a news conference in November of 2017 saying her son her son had been sexually assaulted by Spacey.

Allegations in the UK

Spacey has been questioned in the US by officers from London’s Metropolitan Police Service over alleged sexual assault offenses in the UK, Variety reported this month.
The report, without citing unnamed sources, said six allegations of sexual assault have been lodged with Scotland Yard, London’s police force, by six different men between 1996 and 2013.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/17/us/kevin-spacey-charge-dropped/index.html

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Cars significantly more dangerous than guns in New York, new data shows

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New York is the safest big city in the country — unless you’re near a car..

Motor vehicles are significantly deadlier than guns in New York, new NYPD data shows.

Crashes involving cars, vans, trucks and buses killed 111 people on city streets during the first six months of 2019, public data shows.

During the same period, 61 people died in shootings, the NYPD says. Those shootings account for 45% of the city’s 135 homicides during 2019′s first half. Police say the city is on a path to have the lowest number of murders since 1950, and that gun deaths over the full year will be 25% down from 2018.

Motor vehicles are also deadlier than guns in car-loving major metros like Los Angeles, Houston and San Diego, data shows.
But in New York, where only one in four residents commute via motor vehicle, data shows that the city has done a much better job of curbing gun violence in recent years than traffic deaths.

For decades, bullets killed more New Yorkers than traffic crashes. Just a decadea go — in 2009 — bullets killed 367 New Yorkers, and motor vehicle crashes killed 324.

But that dynamic flipped in 2012 when the city saw a 22% drop in gun-related homicides. That year, 241 people were killed by bullets, and 278 in traffic crashes.
Since then, 2015 was the only year in which more New Yorkers killed each other with guns than motor vehicles — but it was close: 236 people were killed by guns, and 234 by traffic crashes.

Mayor de Blasio’s administration has presided over historic lows for both homicides and traffic deaths.
Still, as fatal crashes have risen this year — including 15 cyclist deaths to date — street safety advocates have pressured de Blasio to treat car-related deaths as a public health crisis.

Some argue that the mayor’s Vision Zero program, which aims to curb traffic fatalities, is falling flat.

“The safety improvements we’ve seen during the first five years of Vision Zero, while impressive, were achieved without disrupting the car-dominant status quo on our streets,” said Joe Cutrufo, spokesman for street safety group Transportation Alternatives.

“Decades of bad decisions have left us with a stubborn and unfortunate car culture that yields four traffic deaths every single week,” Cutrufo said. “Enough is enough. We can have safer streets if we want them, but it’s going to require bold leadership and the resolve to put the automobile in its proper place.”

De Blasio has repeatedly defended his record on improving traffic safety and curbing crime, but many critics have chided him for kowtowing to community groups who do not want to give up parking spots for street redesigns.

“One death – no matter the cause – is always one too many,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein. “As the mayor has said repeatedly, we won’t stop until we have reached Vision Zero on our streets.”

Source: https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-car-deaths-gun-homicides-20190714-qeszmkdpanbkvclf7fsfpv7bmi-story.html

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ConEd Faces Heat After Times Square Goes Dark

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It lasted all of five hours — and hit just the spot on New York’s power system to take out the lights in Times Square, force the evacuation of Madison Square Garden in the middle of a Jennifer Lopez concert and bring parts of the city’s subway system to a screeching halt.

The Saturday evening blackout on Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid — extending from about Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River and from the 40s to 72nd Street — was so widespread that it took out much of Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Rockefeller Center and the lower reaches of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Now ConEd, already under fire because of other mechanical breakdowns in recent years, is facing renewed calls to overhaul its network.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cut short a presidential campaign trip to Iowa and Governor Andrew Cuomo went on television to demand answers from “Mr. ConEd” himself.

Cuomo, expressing frustration over what he described as repeated failures on ConEd’s system, said in an interview with ABC News that he was sending his “top power team” to investigate the incident. He noted that Saturday’s outage took hours to resolve when the utility had said it would take one to two. It struck at 6.47 p.m. Saturday, lasted until about midnight and affected almost 73,000 customers.

“If they don’t give me an answer quickly, I’m going to go to ConEd headquarters,” he said. “If I don’t get a firm answer forthwith, I’ll go speak to Mr. ConEd myself.”
De Blasio, meanwhile, called on city agencies to “get to the bottom” of the incident.

“We’re going to look at this very carefully, not only depend on Con Edison, but we’re going to make sure there’s a very careful review of what happened,” the mayor said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday from Chicago. “We don’t ever want to see it happen again.”

The power failure struck on the anniversary of the historic 1977 blackout that led to widespread looting and other crimes across New York City. And it peeled back disparities between old technology and new: halted subways meant a $2.75 fare ballooned to a $57 Uber primed to surge pricing.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-14/after-times-square-goes-dark-new-york-s-coned-faces-more-heat

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