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Chemical plant concern, deadly punch and more: First News with Podcast

New Jersey’s First News, hosted by Eric Scott, written and produced by Matthew White and Patrick Lavery. Full podcast available below. Digital support, with additional links, by Dan Alexander.

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Aerial view of the remains of a fertilizer plant and an apartment complex to the left, destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas in 2013.
Aerial view of the remains of a fertilizer plant and an apartment complex to the left, destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas in 2013. .(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Chemical Plants at Risk – There is a scary new report this morning about the vulnerability of our nations checmical plants and it involves several sites in New Jersey.  The state  is one of ten states with chemical facilites in close proximity to a large population.  U.S. Senate Homeland Security Commitee investigators say the U.S. is failing to inspect and accurately assess the risk of terrorism at those plants.

Online Sales Tax  - The head of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association is in Washington again today trying to convince the state’s Congressional delegation to pass a bill to require online retailers to collect the state sales tax. The Garden State recently passed a law that applies only to a handful of online stores.

Bug Population Explosion – With all the rain we’ve had this summer, we could soon see a bumper crop of mosquitoes carrying the dangerous and potentially deadly West Nile Virus.

Punch of Death – A 16-year old Hillsborough boy is now facing manslaughter charges after he threw a punch that ultimately killed a 17-year old. The two boys were arguing last weekend when the younger boy punched the older boy in the head. He died two days later.

Admitting Cyber Bullying – A 15-year old girl in Union County is pleading guilty to cyber-bullying. It’s the first case of its kind in Union. The girl sent an expletive laced Facebook message threatening to kill another girl. She will serve a year probation and undergo counseling.

Concern over Illegals – Many Americans are wary of granting refugee status to children crossing illegally into the U.S. 53% in a new AP poll believe the U.S. has no moral obligation to offer asylum to people who escape violence or political persecution, and 52 percent say children fleeing gang violence in Central America should not be treated as refugees. We learned last week at least 1,500 of those kids have been sent to live in New Jersey.

Back on Top - Governor Christie has jumped to the top of the list of Republican presidential hopefuls. A new CNN poll finds his ratings jumped five points since June moving past the lows following Bridgegate. But he would still lose in a head to head with Hillary Clinton.

Special Session - Governor Christie has called a rare special session for Thursday demanding that the legislature come to Trenton and deal with bail reform legislation. Lawmakers have to show up at the State House, but that doesn’t mean they have to vote on anything after Christie addresses them.

Protesters at a Christie town hall
Protesters at a Christie town hall (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Show us the money – Public employee unions are going back to court to try and force the Christie administration to dump more taxpayer money into their pension system. A judge ruled the governor could reduce payments due to last years budget crisis but the unions argue the new fiscal year does not have the same crisis and therefore the governor should give them more money.

 

Fixing the VA System – Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans’ health care. The $17 billion bill is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make it easier to fire senior executives at the VA.

Jersey Seafood Fresh – We’re all familiar with the ‘Jersey Fresh’ labels but how about ‘Jersey Seafood’? Landing fish is big business in the Garden State.

South Jersey Snake – It’s not the Snake in the Lake but a big one is lurking in Lower Township. Animal control has been trying to catch a 12-foot long python spotted by several residents but the snake is still on the loose in the villas this morning.

Stopping Suicides - The Port Authority is trying to speed up building of a fence on the George Washington Bridge as the number of suicides and attempts is reaching record levels. There have been 13 deaths…and 40 rescues so far this year. Fencing the length of the bridge will cost over $40 million and was not due to be completed until 2022.

Spouse vs. Spouse - A Shore area Assemblyman is drafting a bill that would allow communication between married couples to be used against them in criminal cases.


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