When revelers pack Times Square for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration Monday night, police will observe a tradition of their own: giving them lots of company. Each year, the New York Police Department assigns thousands of extra patrols – in ways seen and unseen – to the festivities to control the crowd and watch for signs of trouble. Security in Times Square has become an obsession for the NYPD in the post-9/11 world, especially since the botched attempted car bombing there in the summer of 2010. There will be uniformed officers, bomb-sniffing dogs and heavily armed counterterrorism teams. But there also will be plainclothes officers, assigned to blend into the crowd. Many officers will be wearing palm-size radiation detectors designed to give off a signal if they detect evidence of a dirty bomb, an explosive intended to spread panic by creating a radioactive cloud.
A $100 million claim on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor is the first legal action to come out of the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead two weeks ago. The unidentified client, referred to as Jill Doe, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire, according to the claim filed by New Haven-based attorney Irv Pinsky. Pinsky said he filed a claim on Thursday with state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., whose office must give permission before a lawsuit can be filed against the state. Twenty children and six adults were shot dead on December 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The children were all 6 and 7 years old. Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.”
Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and six other daily papers, emerged from bankruptcy, four years after a doomed leveraged buyout by billionaire Sam Zell led to Chapter 11 proceedings, Bloomberg News reports. Distributions to creditors have been initiated, the Chicago-based company said today in a statement. As part of its exit from bankruptcy, Tribune Co. also closed on a new $1.1 billion term loan and a $300 million revolving credit line. Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy after Zell, a real-estate developer, orchestrated an $8.3 billion leveraged buyout of the company in 2007, just before a global recession and a slump in print advertising devastated the newspaper industry. The buyout loaded Tribune with debt, and Zell failed to pull off a turnaround of the newspapers. He put the company into bankruptcy in December 2008, triggering a court fight between bondholders who held Tribune’s pre-buyout debt and the lenders who funded the takeover. A settlement approved by the bankruptcy court allowed the older creditors to try to recover some of their losses by pursuing lawsuits against shareholders and managers, including Zell.
A divided federal appeals court has temporarily barred the U.S. government from requiring an Illinois company to obtain insurance coverage for contraceptives, as mandated under the 2010 healthcare overhaul, after the owners objected on religious grounds. Reuters reports more than 40 lawsuits are challenging a requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires most for-profit companies to offer workers insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices and other birth control methods. Friday’s 2-1 order by a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in favor of Cyril and Jane Korte was the second by a federal appeals court to temporarily halt enforcement against people who said it violated their faith, said Edward White, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic couple. The order came two days after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to block the provision’s enforcement against companies controlled by the family of Oklahoma City billionaire David Green.
A major animal welfare group has agreed to pay $9.3 million to the owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to settle a lawsuit brought in response to now-dismissed legal claims of mistreated elephants. Reuters reports the settlement, announced by the parties on Friday, removes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, from litigation by Ringling Bros. against the Humane Society, the Animal Welfare Institute and a former elephant handler for the circus. The ASPCA and others originally filed suit in 2000 against Feld Entertainment, producer of the circus, accusing the Virginia-based company of mistreating the Asian elephants that perform in its shows. The case, which cited the Endangered Species Act, was initially dismissed. Courts later found that the animal rights activists had paid a former Ringling employee to bring the lawsuit and that the man did not have the right to sue the circus. Feld then sued the animal rights groups, accusing them of conspiracy to harm its business and other illegal acts.