April 24, 2018
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New Jersey law toughens penalties for fatal distracted driving

From wire reports

TRENTON, N.J. — Drivers who kill someone while using a handheld cellphone can now be charged with vehicular homicide under a measure New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno signed into law Wednesday.

The law allows prosecutors to charge distracted drivers with vehicular homicide if they kill someone with an automobile.

The legislation is called the “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis Law” in recognition of the victims of three distracted-driving crashes in New Jersey.

This was the third bill Guadagno has signed in recent weeks as acting governor while Gov. Chris Christie is out of the state campaigning for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Helen Kulesh, whose name appears first in the law’s title, was an 89-year-old killed as she walked to an Elizabeth grocery store by a distracted driver who was using a cellphone in 2006.

Woman cut twice from voter rolls for being dead is alive

ORLANDO, Fla. — Connie Smith is not dead, and she has a signed-and-sealed state certificate to prove it.

But that’s not always enough. Florida state and Orange County elections officials keep bumping her off voter rolls, because they think she is dead.

The latest “To Whom It May Concern” certified letter arrived last Friday from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office. “This letter is to inform you that the person named above has been removed from the Orange County vote rolls after we received notification of their death.”

“I opened it up, I cried,” Smith said.

Florida has been in the news recently for seeking to purge voter rolls of noncitizens and for limiting early voting and third-party registration — with voting rights groups screaming “intimidation.”

Constance S. Smith, 61, of College Park received a similar letter in 2008.

She said it took her six months to clear that up, even as other government agencies picked up on word of her demise. The Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles invalidated her driver license. Then the Social Security Administration asked her family about reports of her death.

She had to get the Florida Department of Health to send her a “non-death” certificate she could show other agencies. It states there is no record of her death.

Midwest drought will persist through summer

BOSTON — The drought across the Midwest will persist through the rest of the summer and may spread into the upper Great Plains, Michigan and Pennsylvania with little relief in sight.

Drought conditions of moderate severity or worse exist in 53.2 percent of the United States, Kelly Helm Smith, of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb., said on a conference call Thursday organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Drought now affects 78 percent of the U.S. corn crop, the world’s largest. Both soybean and corn fields are in their worst shape since 1988, sending prices both crops soaring.

In addition to its agricultural impacts, the drought has contributed to wildfires in Colorado that claimed 650 homes and to heat waves that have set or tied 6,639 daily high temperature records since June 1.

Dad of 4-year-old cancer patient denies Disney trip

TOLEDO, Ohio — A 4-year-old girl who went through two years of cancer treatments isn’t being allowed to go on a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World because her father said she’s in remission and the trips should go to children who are sicker than his daughter.

The young girl, McKenna May of Haskins, had the trip postponed twice while she was undergoing treatment for leukemia and finally was set to go in August when the father refused to sign off on the trip, the girl’s mother and grandmother said Thursday.

The family said Make-A-Wish requires signatures from both parents if either have visitation rights or is listed on the birth certificate. McKenna’s parents never married or lived together. Her grandmother said the father only recently received visitation privileges.

McKenna’s mother and grandmother are now collecting donations at local businesses to pay for the trip to Disney on their own. They haven’t told McKenna why the Make-A-Wish trip was canceled.

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