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Norovirus outbreak sickens hundreds of cruise ship passengers, crew members

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One of the world’s biggest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, is returning to a Florida port a day early and giving passengers full refunds of their fare after 277 guests and crew members were hit with an outbreak of norovirus as it sailed to Jamaica.

Cruise line spokesman Owen Torres told The Associated Press, “We think the right thing to do is get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health.”

He says the ship will return to Port Canaveral on Saturday. It sailed from there Sunday on a seven-day Caribbean cruise.

Passengers took to social media on Wednesday, tweeting they were forced to stay onboard after docking in Falmouth, Jamaica, for what was supposed to be a day of excursions.

Torres said returning a day early gives the cruise line “more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship” before it sails again.

What is norovirus?
Norovirus, sometimes called the stomach flu (though it is not related to the flu virus), is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms can include nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches.

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. People of all ages can be affected by norovirus.

How is norovirus spread?
“When you are sick with norovirus, you can shed billions of virus particles in your vomit and poop. It only takes a few of these particles to make someone sick,” the CDC explains.
The illness spreads rapidly if you eat food or drink liquids that are contaminated with the virus, touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch your mouth, or have direct contact with an infected person, such as by caring for them or sharing food or utensils with them.

The CDC notes that while people often associate cruise ships with norovirus, acute gastrointestinal illness is relatively infrequent on cruise ships. However, the close living quarters on the ship increases the risk of transmission.

How is norovirus treated?
Most people will recover from norovirus in a couple of days. Since norovirus is a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics will not treat the infection.

If you are sick from norovirus, drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.

How can you prevent infection?
There is currently no vaccine against norovirus but there are steps you can take to prevent infection. Always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers; when eating, preparing, or handling food; and before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Safe food prep is also important. Be sure to carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Oysters and shellfish need to be thoroughly cooked before they are ready for consumption. Noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat and can survive temperatures as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food that may be contaminated with norovirus should be discarded immediately. Kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces should be routinely cleaned and sanitized before preparing food to avoid foodborne illnesses.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/norovirus-cruise-ship-277-people-sick-on-royal-caribbean-cruise-ship-hit-with-norovirus-outbreak-include-passengers-crew-members/

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Does a Muslim Community Patrol in New York City Enforce ‘Sharia Law’?

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patrullas nypd

The appearance of a new volunteer patrol group in New York City spurred familiar but false accusations.

Vehicles bearing the Muslim Community Patrol Service’s name (MCPS) and emblem were first spotted in parts of Brooklyn in December 2018, prompting media personality Laura Loomer to post a photograph of one of the vehicles above the caption “The job of the people driving the cars is to enforce Sharia law. In case you never thought Sharia would be in America, well, it’s here. I HAVE BEEN WARNING ALL OF YOU!!! Time to wake up people. #NoSharia #911 #Neverforget”:

While Sharia, a faith-based code of conduct, does exist, Loomer’s post was among a cascade of falsehoods claiming that Muslims are intent on staging a takeover of the U.S.
MCPS Vice President Noor Rabah dismissed the accusation that the group’s purpose was to “enforce Sharia law”:

It’s not about “Sharia Law.” It’s about Muslims taking care of people in our community. But it’s not just Muslims. If we’re driving or we’re patrolling and we see a guy attacking a woman we don’t ask “What’s your religion? What do you believe in? Who’s your God?” We’re there for preventative measures and it doesn’t matter who’s going through what — white, black, orange, green, nun, hijabi, we’re there to help our community.

Like other local community patrol groups, MCPS members do not have the authority to arrest people. Rabah said the group had around 30 regular members, with 30 others volunteering services on a more limited basis. The photographs seen online, he maintained, captured the group’s patrol vehicle on what he called a “dry run” before the MCPS program’s formal launch in 2019.

“Most of our patrolling is going to be motor patrol,” Rabah said. “We will be driving. The goal is that with our presence, there will be a preventative measure for people who are inclined toward crime — that seeing the car would stop the average criminal. That’s one thing. Two, if we were to see something we would say something; if we see suspicious activity, if we see someone’s driving drunk [or] causing a disturbance, just by being in these areas we can contact 911 a lot quicker than someone who is in trouble before things get out of proportion.”

Besides acting as “eyes and ears” for police, he added, MCPS members are already connected to their communities enough to defuse situations while avoiding potential cultural misunderstandings.

“We’re not here to arrest people,” he said. “Rather, if we see for example a young man smoking weed — we know him, we can come up to him, greet him and say, ‘You might not care if a cop came to you right now and stopped you but you probably would care if your mom or dad found out that you were smoking weed.’”

While more than 30 members had already received certification in New York City’s Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) program and each member must pass a background check, Rabah said, the MCPS had already won the support of officials in the New York Police Department’s 72nd District and planned to work with them to receive further training.

However a department spokesperson, Sgt. Jessica McRorie, seemingly offered a negative reaction toward MCPS’ vehicles in an interview with the website PJ Media, saying “This is not an NYPD vehicle. The NYPD did not outfit or label this vehicle. This group is not officially sanctioned by the NYPD and they are subject to the law.”

By comparison, the website reported, the department endorsed another civilian patrol group, the Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol (BASP), going so far as to allow it to use an official logo. PJ Media offered nothing that demonstrated the MCPS could, or planned to, “enforce Sharia law,” beyond engaging in the speculative hypothetical that the MCPS might somehow “apply … Sharia in its community monitoring”:

Given this background, the NYPD’s full-throated insistence that there is no link between the Big Apple’s police and the MCP suggests that the Islamic group does not enjoy the same status and training as [the Jewish patrol group] Shomrim or BASP.

If the Muslim Community Patrol is off-book and does not coordinate with the NYPD, it may apply specific readings of Sharia (Islamic law) in its community monitoring. Since some forms of Sharia advocate honor killings, child brides, and other abuses, they may directly violate some American or New York City laws.

Rabah asserted that his group’s vehicles were approved by the 72nd Precinct before the test run. “We’re not looking for someone to ‘outfit’ our car,” he said. “We’re looking for equal respect.”

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said McRorie’s remark “deserves further clarification by the NYPD.” We asked the NYPD whether they shared the site’s concern regarding “Sharia Law” and whether any officials had met with members of the Muslim patrol, but the department did not respond prior to publication.

Both MCPS and BASP, along with Shomrim, were honored by Brooklyn Borough President Erik Adams and Kings County District Attorney Eric Sanchez at a ceremony on 2 January 2019.

During the ceremony, Adams called for additional funding to be offered to community patrol groups.

Source: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/muslim-community-patrol-nyc/

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Roads and bridges to get help in Cuomo budget proposal

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The state will see an investment of $150 billion in critical infrastructure improvements, most of it on transportation and environmental projects, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed Tuesday afternoon.

With New York City’s subway system continuing to decay and upstate roads and bridges facing sour conditions that hurt the region’s economy, the transportation funding fight will be one of the more intense as Cuomo and lawmakers try to put together a new state budget by the March 31 deadline.

Over the coming five years, Cuomo proposed to dedicate $66 billion of the $150 billion pot to mass transit, railroads, highways, bridges and tunnels. Precisely how the money would be spent has not been detailed.

After last year’s Buffalo Billion corruption trial, Cuomo is also proposing to make certain changes to how some state contracts are awarded, including a certification form to be submitted for approval by the state comptroller and Cuomo’s Office of the Inspector General.

The budget plan, however, does not restore the full pre-audit powers of the comptroller, an authority many lawmakers say they will push to include in the final budget.
Cuomo is also proposing continuing – at another cost of $750 million annually – his economic development funding approach that has 10 regions of the state compete against each other for state money.

Source: https://buffalonews.com/2019/01/15/roads-and-bridges-to-get-help-in-cuomo-budget-proposal/

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Man who took 2 women hostage at UPS facility is dead

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An armed man who entered a UPS processing facility Monday morning and held two women hostage for several hours was shot and killed by police as he left the building with the women, authorities said.

Several officers fired at William Owens, 39, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a news release that did not detail the situation or explain why the suspect was shot.

Owens had entered the business at about 8:45 a.m. and fired shots, which did not strike anyone, before taking the women to a room and barricading himself inside with them, authorities said. Officials believe that Owens had a prior relationship with one of the hostages, Gloucester County Prosecutor Charles Fiore said.

The women escaped without serious injuries after the standoff in Logan Township, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Philadelphia, Fiore said.

“Multiple members of law enforcement fired at the man, who was armed with a handgun. He was pronounced dead at the scene,” the news release said.

Earlier in the day, Fiore said the suspect had been taken to a hospital after being shot but that his condition was not known.

“I heard one of my fellow employees say, ‘Run, he’s got a gun,’ then I heard the little pop of the gun, I guess, and we all ran and law enforcement took over,” employee Allen Anthony Dowling said.

Police evacuated the building and blocked access to the busy industrial park, and nearby schools were put on a modified lockdown.

Hostage negotiators talked to the suspect by phone as he held the women captive. Television news footage showed officers crouched behind a vehicle behind the building’s loading dock at the time.
Shortly before noon, as Fiore held a news conference at a township building about 8 miles (12 kilometers) away, a short burst of gunfire was heard at the scene. Fiore later said he didn’t know how many shots police fired or whether the gunman fired any shots.

“There was an intervention,” FIore said. “He did not surrender.”

Police trained in hostage situations, he said, “would make a determination as to whether or not it’s appropriate to intervene, using force at any point in time.”

Gail Wright, a woman at the scene who described herself as the suspect’s cousin, described him as “a good guy.”

“He must have felt forced, otherwise, he wouldn’t have done this,” she said.

In addition to UPS, other major companies including Amazon and U.S. Foods have operations in the area, Mayor Frank Minor said. The township has about 6,500 residents, but some 18,000 people are in the area each workday, he said.

Source: https://tucson.com/news/national/man-who-took-women-hostage-at-ups-facility-is-dead/article_1ed8526a-4fa3-5e6c-b1bb-4345d9decc30.html

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