Category: mzdrfpsz

Press release: Water company fined for pollution incidents

first_img The incident at Broomley had a significant impact on the ecology of Smithy Burn. This case demonstrates how important it is that water companies and wider regulated industries understand and comply with the conditions by which they are permitted to operate. Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL) has been ordered to pay over £33,600 in fines and costs for three separate pollution incidents, including pollution of a Tyne Valley burn with untreated sewage effluent, which bypassed the local sewage treatment works.The company was sentenced on Monday 23 July at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court after admitting one charge of causing a discharge of untreated sewage into Smithy Burn at Broomley on 19 August 2016.Two other similar offences were taken into consideration as part of this case following unpermitted discharges of sewage effluent on 26 June 2015 at both Summerhouse & Killerby Sewage Treatment Works (STW), both near Darlington.The pollution at Broomley originated from a storm overflow channel. These allow rainwater and sewage effluent to bypass a sewage treatment works in times of heavy rainfall, to avoid the works’ capacity being exceeded. To be lawful, storm overflows should be incorporated into the works’ environmental permit.According to the Environment Agency, this was not the case at Broomley, since Northumbrian Water’s environmental permit clearly states that discharges to Smithy Burn should consist only of treated sewage effluent.Silt build-upChris Bunting, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that investigations found a build-up of silt had prevented flow from reaching the works, and instead diverted it to the storm overflow. Northumbrian Water’s maintenance inspections hadn’t included a requirement to check a manhole chamber where the blockage would likely have been discovered.Formal samples were taken from the burn and an ecological survey revealed a thick sewage fungus affecting the watercourse for 100m downstream of the outfall, which had starved the water of oxygen and resulted in the death of freshwater shrimp and midge larvae.At Summerhouse & Killerby STW’s, the Environment Agency’s inspections found both to be in a poor state of repair with faulty equipment. Rather than discharging treated sewage effluent, at Killerby sampling showed effluent leaving the works was more polluted than where it arrived.Malcolm Galloway, appearing for NWL told the court that staff were to blame for the faults as they hadn’t followed the company’s inspection procedures, and that NWL has a good compliance record. He also maintained that the storm overflow at Broomley had been permitted because it was included in the permit application made back in 1989.In sentencing, District Judge Roger Elsey ruled that the company’s culpability was low, but that the additional offences meant the fine had to be increased.Environment Agency Area Environment Manager, Fiona Morris said:last_img read more

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Watch Bruce Springsteen Learn And Crush New Cover Mid-Show Like A Boss [Pro-Shot]

first_imgLive music fans are all familiar with the “sign request.” Particularly ambitious fans will write the name of the song at the top of their wish list on a piece of poster board, head to the show, and hold it up for the band to see in the hopes of getting their request granted. While the signs are ever-present at shows, the fact of the matter is that, for the most part, the band is going to play what they want, regardless of what you write on the back of that pizza box you found in the parking lot.Many Phish fans recall the humorous sign incident at the band’s 12/14/95 show in Binghamton, NY (officially released as Live Phish 01). Before the encore, Trey Anastasio remarked that they are going to play a request from one of the signs in the audience, to which a fan holding up a “Brother” sign reacted with visible excitement. However, it turned out Trey was referring to a different sign, for Jimi Hendrix‘s “Bold As Love.” He responded to the fan with a laugh, joking that “you gotta bring a sign, but you also have to bring a sign for something we wanna play.”However, sometimes these wishful suggestions can make for unforgettable performances. Case in point: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Leipzig, Germany in November, 2013. Springsteen sees a sign written on what appears to be the top of someone’s cooler bag, which we can only assume was a casualty of the pre-show tailgate. The request is for “You Can Never Tell” by Chuck Berry–a tune many know as the song John Travolta and Uma Thruman danced to in Pulp Fiction.The sign is passed forward to the stage, and with a wry smile, Springsteen informs the crowd that they “haven’t played that song since they were…I don’t know, 16,” but they’d give it a shot. After going back and forth with guitarist Little Steven trying–with some difficulty–to pick a key, Springsteen confers briefly with the band, gives some directions, and then BAM!–busts out an immaculate, rocking performance of “You Can Never Tell.” Like a boss. The Boss.You can relive the unforgettable moment in its entirety below, via BruceSpringsteenVEVO:[h/t – Newsner]last_img read more

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Finding our way

first_imgFrom research showing that adults in an Amazon village had about equal competence to Harvard students at basic geometry, Elizabeth Spelke drew a striking lesson.“Amazonian adults look like Harvard students, not like kids,” Spelke, a professor of psychology, told a packed room at the Barker Center Thursday night. “We learned that knowledge of Euclidian geometry can develop in the absence of schooling.”The surprising results from the study of Brazil’s Munduruku show that formal learning is not needed to develop navigational skills, said Spelke, director of the Laboratory for Developmental Studies.Spelke, whose lab is renowned for research into the development of language and other bedrock cognitive skills, focused in her talk on research into how animals and humans place themselves and navigate. The experiments involve spinning research subjects — whether humans or lab rats — until they lose their bearings, and studying how they reorient themselves in a spartan room.Infants and toddlers are adept at using geometric clues to orient themselves in three-dimensional space to find a hidden toy, but less so if their bearings have been disturbed. Lab rats had the same problem, and were unable to process complex decisions or to integrate more than one element. Somewhere along the development continuum, humans, whether at Harvard or in a village along the Amazon, develop the ability to integrate a second distinguishing characteristic — such as a wall painted a different color — to get their bearings. The function of navigation is innate to humans.The frontier is in understanding how it develops.“How does it become natural to us?” she asked.Spelke found no differences in navigational skills based on gender.“There are no sex differences,” she said. “People are really good at this. It’s something we do without being aware of it.”But with more dependence on computers and robots, our abilities might be at risk, she said, seizing on an audience member’s question about the effects of technology, such as smartphones, on child development.“I am worried we’re all going to be using GPSes all the time,” Spelke said. “The Mundurukus are better than Harvard students because they have to keep navigating all the time.”Drivers in modern societies rely heavily on GPS navigation. Looking at a map is almost old-fashioned.“I’m worried it will cause our systems to atrophy,” Spelke said.“We’re doing this enormous experiment on ourselves and our children and grandchildren,” she said. “Innate systems disappear if you don’t use them. It’s a real question of what’s going to happen with all this.”last_img read more

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Healing hands for an ailing world

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.In rural Nigeria, the traditional bonesetter applied an herbal cream to the limb she had just set, chanted an incantation, and sent the patient home with instructions to keep the limb immobile for 51 days.Harvard Medical School (HMS) student Benedict Nwachukwu observed the ritual. Instead of snickering at the traditional practices, as some adherents to Western medicine might, Nwachukwu took notes, seeking to understand the good and the bad.After all, Nwachukwu wrote in The Open Orthopaedics Journal earlier this year, between 70 and 90 percent of all broken bones in Nigeria are treated by bonesetters. And, with just three orthopedic hospitals in a nation of 140 million, the need for bonesetters’ services isn’t going away soon.The article, for which Nwachukwu was the first author, suggested integrating the traditional practices into the national health care system, providing training for the bonesetters to help them recognize which cases they should take and which they should refer to a hospital.In many cases, the bonesetter’s care works, Nwachukwu said. For more complicated breaks, however, a delay in getting or failure to get surgery can lead to lifelong disability.The study illustrates Nwachukwu’s three interests as he prepares to graduate from Harvard’s M.D./M.B.A. program with degrees from both HMS and Harvard Business School (HBS): orthopedics, management, and global health.Nwachukwu, who lived in Nigeria until age 7, is graduating in May after five years at Harvard, and wants to apply the managerial insights he gained at HBS to the medical world. He is leaving Boston for a residency at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, where he got his first taste of orthopedics. Nwachukwu interned there as a Columbia University undergraduate, observing the sometimes dramatic change that joint repair or replacement can bring.Though an athlete in college, Nwachukwu said he doesn’t have any special affinity for sports medicine. Instead, he traces his interest in medicine to his mother, a nurse in the London Chest Hospital. Nwachukwu moved to the United States when he was 16 and lived with a host family while completing high school in New Jersey.At Harvard, Nwachukwu worked with Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Jeffrey N. Katz, a physician at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior author on the bonesetter paper. Katz not only guided Nwachukwu through his research in Nigeria, he also included him on a team of 40-50 who traveled to the Dominican Republic to perform joint replacement surgery. While there, Nwachukwu conducted research on the treatment of high blood pressure among surgical patients.Katz described Nwachukwu as highly skilled and dedicated.“He has all the skills and characteristics to be a marvelous doctor,” Katz said. “I think Ben is a very special young man who will affect many people’s lives by putting hands on them as a clinician and also a leader of orthopedics, medicine, and health care.”Nwachukwu has made a habit of fitting things he finds important into a busy schedule; despite the demands of the dual degree program and his research, he still has time for friends and basketball. He’s played on both HMS intramural and Boston city leagues, and, though he enjoys the game’s frenetic action, he also likes the peace of shooting jump shots alone in the gym.Asked if he had any advice for incoming medical students about how to navigate the next four years, he said to not be intimidated, especially if they come from a small town.“If you come in with an open mind and approach people, you’ll find people are very open and very warm. You’ll find people to help you pursue your passion and dreams,” Nwachukwu said.last_img read more

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Odds & Ends: Frozen’s Josh Gad Reunites With Disney & More!

first_img View Comments Bobby Cannavale Tony Nominees Bobby Cannavale and Jude Law Join Forces in Spy Two-time Tony nominees Bobby Cannavale and Jude Law are to star in an international spy comedy imaginatively titled Spy. According to Deadline the movie will be released on Memorial Day 2015. Of course, we’ve got Cannavale in the upcoming movie musical remake of Annie to look forward to before then—the tuner is set to open in a theater near you December 19. Star Files Frozen’s Josh Gad to Reunite With Disney Another Hollywood project for Book of Mormon alum Josh Gad! The Frozen star has once again teamed up with Disney, this time for a family comedy-adventure. Deadline reports that the Tony nominee and his writing partner Ryan Dixon will be working together on the as yet untitled project for the studio. Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Of Mice and Men’s Leighton Meester on Finding Her Stage Voice Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester has opened up about how she’s coped with making the transition from screen to Broadway in Of Mice and Men. The star told Yahoo: ” I had a sense that on stage I’d have to find my voice louder than in a close-up in a movie.” Another difference between the two mediums? “You are always in frame when you are on stage. Everyone can see you. You aren’t waiting for your close-ups.” Josh Gad Leighton Meesterlast_img read more

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Alumni Awards

first_imgFarmers, advocates, entrepreneurs and educators topped this year’s list of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association’s best and brightest alumni.“We are excited about the 2017 honorees,” said Joel McKie, 2017 president of the CAES Alumni Association. “We are proud of their exceptional contributions and representation of our association.”The association presented the 2017 awards at a banquet held on Sept. 22 at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia.In addition to the alumni awards, the association also inducted former Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Wayne Shackelford and pioneering poultry businessman Bill Baisley into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.To find out more about these new inductees, visit tinyurl.com/GAaghalloffame2017.This year’s Alumni Awards of Excellence went to three CAES alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields or in their communities. This year’s winners include:Keith Kelly, owner of Farmview Market in Madison, GeorgiaKelly, who graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, recently launched Farmview Market on U.S. Highway 441, south of Madison, Georgia. He built his career around supplying farmers with the tools they need.His company, Kelly Products, provides farmers with specialty plant protection chemicals and developed chemical registration software for state agricultural and environmental oversight agencies nationwide.In 1998, Kelly purchased the right to manufacture and distribute all Sevin insecticide products nationwide for home and garden uses. In 2005, Kelly purchased the 4,000-acre Rock House Farm in Leesburg, Georgia. The farm produces cattle, hogs, sweet corn and row crops. In 2016, Kelly expanded Rock House Farm to Morgan County, Georgia, where he established a dairy and creamery. Kelly’s latest venture, Farmview Market, is a combination butcher shop, farmers market and local gourmet shop. D.J. Sheppard, recruitment and retention coordinator for Georgia FFA and Georgia Agricultural Education programsD.J. Sheppard, who graduated in 1975 with bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agricultural education, worked in agricultural education classrooms in Georgia for 42 years and has impacted the lives of thousands of young people.During his years in the classroom, he sought to leave each student with a well-developed sense of responsibility and a better understanding of how farmers work in concert with nature to feed the world.Sheppard now serves as the recruitment and retention coordinator for Georgia FFA and Georgia Agricultural Education programs and helps new agriculture teachers settle into their positions.Jimmy Hill, retired Georgia Power engineerJimmy Hill, who received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from CAES in 1971, worked for Georgia Power for 30 years. He focused on promoting the energy efficiency of heat pump systems to Georgians. He also worked with Vidalia onion farmers to develop controlled-atmosphere storage systems and served as the first chairman of the Georgia Food Processing Advisory Council.Hill is known by his friends and colleagues as an innovative problem solver and a passionate advocate for Georgia agriculture and farmers.Today, Hill works with faculty in CAES and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences on the AgrAbility program, which enables farmers with disabilities to continue to farm. The alumni association also honored three young alumni with its CAES Young Alumni Achievement Awards. These awards recognize CAES alumni under 35 who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields or in their communities. The 2017 award winners include:Matt Coley, co-owner and manager of Coley FarmsColey, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 2003 and his master’s degree in agricultural economics in 2005, works with his father to run Coley Farms, the family’s Vienna, Georgia-based agribusiness.In addition to farming 3,400 acres of cotton and 300 acres of peanuts, the family operates Coley Gin and Fertilizer. Georgia Trend magazine recognized Matt Coley as one of 25 “movers and shakers” in Georgia agribusiness.Trey Cutts III, assistant professor and Cooperative Extension System specialist at Auburn UniversityTrey Cutts, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in turfgrass management in 2007 and his master’s degree in crop and soil sciences in 2010, provides agronomic solutions to regional Extension agents through research and programming.After receiving his doctoral degree in plant breeding from Texas A&M University, Cutts worked with several international plant breeding institutions before returning to the Southeast U.S. to work for Auburn University.Farrah Hegwood Newberry, executive director for Georgia Milk ProducersFarrah Newberry, who graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication, is the executive director for Georgia Milk Producers, an organization that educates dairy farmers and governing officials on issues affecting Georgia’s dairy industry.In her 17 years with Georgia Milk Producers, Newberry has guided the organization through monumental industry shifts and provided direct help to the state’s dairy farmers. She considers these to be her greatest professional accomplishments to date.Tracey Troutman, outreach and recruitment branch chief for the Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Tracey D. Troutman, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in avian biology in 2007 and her master’s degree in agricultural leadership in 2008, serves as outreach and recruitment branch chief for the Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).Troutman leads ARS’s outreach and recruitment initiatives, which include student employment and partnerships to recruit and retain the most talented students. She makes a point to be mindfully inclusive of traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations. Troutman made strides toward meeting USDA’s recruitment goals by establishing the department’s student intern workshop, tripling the size of student programs under her direction.For more information about how CAES alumni shape the world, visit alumni.caes.uga.edu.last_img read more

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Champlain scholarship aimed at new magnet school students

first_imgA celebration of two new elementary schools focusing on sustainability and the arts in Burlington was highlighted today with the announcement of dual Champlain College scholarships aimed at helping graduates of the magnet schools attend college.The Holly and Bob Miller Magnet School Scholarship for the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes and The Lois McClure Magnet School Scholarship for the Integrated Arts Academy  at H.O. Wheeler were established earlier this year by Champlain College to honor the Millers and Mrs. McClure for their community support of continuing education. The need-based scholarships will provide up to $20,000 a year in tuition expenses for two students who attend Champlain College. The main requirement is attendance at one of the magnet schools for four years, followed by continued education in Burlington School District schools and graduation from Burlington High School (BHS). The first scholarships will be awarded to members of the BHS Class of 2018.“These scholarships, established as part of honoring these three community leaders with honorary degrees from Champlain College in May, reflect their ongoing support for continuing education for Burlington’s young people,” said Champlain College President David Finney. “The magnet school concept for Burlington will help focus students on their interests, improve student and parent engagement in education and ultimately bring socio-economic integration at the two schools.” “We are so appreciative of the incredible community partners that play an integral part of our new magnet programs, and enhance all of our schools.  We are honored that Champlain College has created this new scholarship program that provides a tremendous opportunity for our students,” noted Burlington School Superintendent Jeanne Collins.A magnet school, according to Victor Prussack, coordinator of the Burlington program, is a public school that offers a specialized program and is open to school children from around the city of Burlington. While there are more than 4,000 elementary magnet schools across the country, these are the first such schools in Vermont. “These dynamic alternative schools were created by the Burlington School District to offer options for children and families who seek a unique learning environment.”Students from all over Burlington as enrolled in the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler and the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes. Students study the same things as all elementary school children, including literacy, math, science, social studies, art, music, Spanish and physical education. Special programs at both schools integrate community studies outside the classroom and in partnership with organizations such as Shelburne Farms, Flynn Center, Very Merry Theatre Company.The celebration included a parade of students and teachers from both schools down Church Street Marketplace, led by Sambatucada, to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Vermont. Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca and Burlington School Superintendent Collins welcomed the students, parents and community partners to the event and thanked supporters, partners and funders of the new schools. More information about the magnet school program is available at www.bsdvt.org(link is external) or by contacting Victor Prussak at [email protected](link sends e-mail).Champlain College, founded in 1878, offers “Education in Three Dimensions” – a distinctive educational approach to professionally focused majors, developing life skills and leadership based on critical and creative thinking. It has nearly 2,000 campus-based undergraduate students on campus and is ranked in the top tier of Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the North by 2009 America’s Best Colleges, published by U.S. News & World Report. To learn more about Champlain College, visit www.champlain.edu(link is external). Source: Champlain College. BURLINGTON, Vt., (Sept. 24, 2009) —last_img read more

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Strong U.S. demand pushes Vestas wind turbine orders well above 2018 levels

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Windpower Monthly:Following its routine end-of-quarter order intake flurry, Vestas reached over 4.6GW of new turbine orders during the second quarter of 2019. On top of the 3GW it won in Q1, Vestas is flying ahead of its 2018 total.In total, Vestas has won a little over 7.61GW of new turbine orders so far in 2019. This total is 40% more than the same period of 2018, when Vestas won 5.44GW on its way to securing 14.2GW across all of 2018.This means Vestas is already over halfway to last year’s total, in a market where many deals are agreed in the final six months of the year. In 2018, 62% of Vestas’ orders were awarded in the second half of the year.As with 2018, the U.S. remained the dominant market for Vestas. It secured 11 deals across the first six months of the year totaling 3,072MW ranging from 143MW to a 459MW deal with PacifiCorp.More: Vestas orders up 40% in first half of 2019 Strong U.S. demand pushes Vestas wind turbine orders well above 2018 levelslast_img read more

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Bolivia Seizes Cocaine Impregnated into Paper

first_imgBy Dialogo February 13, 2012 The Bolivian anti-narcotics police seized 400 kg of liquid cocaine ingeniously hidden in a shipment of charcoal that had Europe as its final destination, with intermediate stops in Chile and Panama. The “highly pure cocaine” was contained in 6,400 bags that were going to be transported to the Chilean port of Arica in two containers, Colonel Gonzalo Quezada, director of the Special Force for the Fight against Drug Trafficking (Felcn), announced in Santa Cruz, the region where the seizure was made. The drug traffickers, “in a very sophisticated chemical process, impregnated the cocaine into kraft paper; the kraft paper (of each of the 6,400 bags) was contaminated with approximately 60 grams” of liquid cocaine, the police chief noted. Another source with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that “the investor is believed to be a Colombian; that person has not yet been identified; investigations are underway; work is being done in coordination with the special forces for the fight against drug trafficking in our neighboring countries, such as Chile, basically, and Brazil.” Two executives of the firm, which operated legally in Bolivia, are under arrest. Congratulations on the excellent cocaine bust, and may this battle against organized crime will end successfully. Latin American governments routinely fail to manage the Cocaine problem because they focus on the short-term seizure strategies. These strategies are good PR, but not for long-term success in the war on drugs. Demand remains constant. The more Cocain seized triggers an increase in supply, and profits. Cocaine mules detained with small shipments predominantly traffic on credit and cancel the debt with the trafficker once they sell the product in the market. If they lose the product, they generally go back to the trafficker and ask for more credit (more Cocaine) and traffic double quantities to cancel the initial debt. Its a snow ball effect. In Uruguay for example, the banking, financial and legal systems provide the perfect vehicle to invest drug money and guarantee anonymity of investor. Uruguayan shell companies buy goods from Europe with the proceeds of Cocaine trafficking; goods arrive in the free trade zone in Montevideo, are placed in new containers and are sent back and sold to Europe to launder the money through shell companies. Usually all owned by the same fund. How do they get away with it? The US lawyer that regularly sets up shell companies for Uruguayan financial advisors, Marcos Rojas, was a key note speaker at the 2011 Anti Money Laundering Compliance Conference sponsored by Florida. His lecture was titled ¨what is the difference betwen money laundering and a good financial plan¨ Talk about a gamekeeper turned poacher. Bolivia is an even bigger disaster. The tone and policies at the very top encourage the popularity and permanence of the Cocaine industry. So- called businessmen in Bolivia are also deeply involved in the narcotics industry. Ismael Maldonado of Tarija, for example, is widely known in Bolivia and Argentina for his Cocaine trafficking activity. Through Cocaine trafficking, Maldonado has become so strong financially that he has bought significant high level patronage and support/protection. He has a team of lawyers constantly fighting investigations and warding off convictions with technical objections. For example, the Bolivian public prosecutor and the police anti drugs unit conducted investigations against Maldonado for illicit earnings. The investigation was suspended only when Maldonado´s lawyers heard and fought to identify technicalities to suspend the investigation. Prior to the Bolivian government expelling the DEA in 2009, Maldonado was the subject of a Cocaine trafficking and money laundering investigation and he was also the subject of cross border trafficking investigations with Argentina and other known traffickers Kim Yong Soon and Miguel Busanich. There are many others. BUt each and every time, he escapes conviction. Maldonado launders the proceeds of this activity through his 26 stores called Fair Play where he sells athletic equiment and clothing. In Santa Cruz alone there are 4 identical stores within a 200m square box. Two of the stores are next door to each other. This configuration creates the volume of businesses to launder the proceeds of Cocaine trafficking activity. It is called a smurf approach, where by large amounts of money is broken down into small unnoticeable amounts and washed through bank and corporate structures. This way, the magnitude of the issue goes unnoticed. But this is not an isolated example of Uruguay or Bolivia. It is sadly common practice and sucess will only be achieved once a paradign shift is seen in the strategies targeting those responsible. *submitted by a former Intelligence community official that spent 8 years targeting Cocaine networks in Latin America trying desperately to convince Latin Governments to adopt longer-term disciplined strategies to target the real issue – the high value individuals behind the industry.last_img read more

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Family section takes new tack to support gay adoptions

first_img March 1, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News Family section takes new tack to support gay adoptions Family section takes new tack to support gay adoptions The bill would not strike the ban, but would skirt the law for gay foster parents Jan Pudlow Senior Editor The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section Executive Council has unanimously voted to support a bill that would allow gay foster parents to adopt if it is in the best interest of the child.Family Law Section Chair Evan Marks said it is his “hope and prayer that the Board of Governors will recognize the insanity of not allowing people who are already fostering these children” to give them permanent homes. Marks said he believes this issue is much less potentially divisive than his original failed request to lobby for the repeal of the gay adoption ban.“What inspired it is the sheer injustice of these good people who have given so much to these children and cannot adopt,” Marks said of the bill.There is no mention of sexual orientation in HB 633, with bi-partisan support among its co-sponsors: Rep. Sheri McInvale, D-Orlando, and Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa.But the first line of the bill says “notwithstanding §63.042″ — referring to Florida’s law banning gay adoption. Marks worked with McInvale in his personal capacity as an individual lawyer to help craft the bill.In December, with a 31-13 vote, Marks lost an impassioned request before the Board of Governors to allow the Family Law, Equal Opportunities Law, and Public Interest Law sections to lobby for the repeal of the state law banning homosexuals from adopting. The majority of governors were persuaded to reject Marks’ plea because of a Bar rule that says if an issue “carries the potential for deep philosophical or emotional division among a substantial segment of the membership,” the section cannot be allowed to lobby for it.But Marks stresses HB 633 does not seek to repeal Florida’s ban on gay adoptions, and he is only asking the board for permission for the section to support a bill that has already been filed.“Everyone agrees that the prejudicial, bigoted language of the statute (gay adoption ban) written as the result of the Anita Bryant days should not and could not stand. However, because of our political climate, there is a very small likelihood of success,” Marks said. “Nobody wants to touch it. Everybody recognizes the problem, and the first thing we can do is allow foster parents to adopt. While it doesn’t solve the problem, it is certainly a step in the right direction.”Of 42,000 foster children in Florida, many are currently cared for by gay and lesbian couples who are doing a great job and are paid by the state, according to Marks.“A lot of these children are not adoptable. They are too old. They have illnesses. Many are HIV positive. As a result, they are fortunate to be in foster care with foster parents who are good, qualified, and loving,” Marks said.“However, these same foster parents can’t adopt, and that’s wrong.”HB 633 says a foster parent who has cared for a child for 36 months or more is eligible to adopt, and should be given first consideration by the court, if the foster parent has developed a bond with the child, has an excellent record of foster parenting with the child, and it is in the best interest of the child, among other factors.McInvale told the Tallahassee Democrat: “Our law says you’re a good enough foster parent to take a kid in state custody, but you’re not a good enough parent for an adoption. This is a wrong that needs to be righted, after the [U.S.] Supreme Court refused to hear the Florida case in a challenge to the state law, because all of the plaintiffs in that case were foster parents.”Culp said she agreed to co-sponsor the bill because, “It’s still going to be up to a judge.”In the Senate, Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, filed a bill that is similar — SB 1534 — but will not require foster children to live 36 months with the foster parent because bonding can occur sooner. Her bill, she said, provides a two-prong test for judges: Determining by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioning adults are the child’s “parental figures” and if adoption is better for the child than continuing in foster care.Marks said he sees “a great, great potential for this law to pass and be signed into law.”As chair of the Family Law Section, he wants permission from the Bar to lobby legislators.“I truly believe that the Board of Governors is made up of well-meaning people who are hardworking, volunteering their time in an effort to make The Florida Bar a great place to be,” Marks said.“I believe, on this issue, the lack of information and education allowed good people to fall back on the way they were raised and their emotional beliefs, which have prevented some of them from looking at the big picture. I do believe, in reflecting on this issue, that many of the people of the Board of Governors have had a change of heart.. . . This gives me a good feeling of hope. I feel inspired. I feel my efforts should be redoubled. I have to tell you that, on behalf of the section, I want to work within the Bar to use the prestige and honor of the Bar, to be bold enough and courageous enough to take a difficult position for the right thing.”last_img read more

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