- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014
Home confinement ordered for ex-pharmacy officials

BOSTON (AP) - A federal judge on Friday ordered home confinement and GPS monitoring for two former officials with a now-defunct Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and sickened more than 750 others across the country.

Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal in Boston set bail and release conditions for Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin while they await trial.

Cadden is a co-founder of the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center; Chin was the Framingham company’s supervisory pharmacist. They have pleaded not guilty to 25 counts each of second-degree murder under federal racketeering law. Twelve others also face charges.

Cadden was released on $500,000 bail; Chin was released on $50,000 bail. Boal also banned both men from working in the pharmaceutical industry while they await trial.

In a ruling Thursday, Boal said the U.S. attorney’s office had “not met its burden” in requesting the detention of Cadden and Chin. Prosecutors had asked that both men be held without bail until trial.

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US agriculture has big appetite for Cuba trade

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - U.S. agriculture has a big appetite for freer trade with Cuba. From wheat to rice to beans, the industry stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s plan to ease economic and travel restrictions imposed against the communist-ruled island.

Agricultural exports have been among the few exceptions to the half-century old U.S. trade embargo, though they’ve been subject to cumbersome rules - requiring cash payments up front before products are shipped, and that the payments go through banks in other countries that charge hefty fees for their services.

As a result, Latin American and Asian countries with fewer restrictions and easier financing have gained market share in recent years.

The removal of such trade barriers will make U.S. agricultural products “far more price competitive” in Cuba, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday as the Obama administration announced plans to restore diplomatic relations and to try to persuade Congress to lift the embargo.

Major U.S. farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, as well as leading agribusinesses such as Cargill Inc., have long advocated normalized trade relations with Cuba, a market of 11 million consumers just 90 miles off U.S. shores.

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Federal ruling means no more killing wolves

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - State officials say Minnesotans can no longer kill wolves unless their lives are in danger.

The change was brought about by a federal judge’s ruling Friday effectively restoring gray wolves to the endangered species list in Great Lakes states.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Niskanen says that means farmers and ranchers concerned about wolves preying on cattle can’t kill the wolves themselves. Instead, they should call conservation officers.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s decision could also halt Minnesota’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons. But Niskanen says the federal government’s stance could change again before the state sets its wolf hunting season next summer.

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Some gray wolves to be returned to endangered list

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list - a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states.

The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the combined population is estimated at around 3,700. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

Unless overturned, her decision will block the states from scheduling additional hunting and trapping seasons for the predators. All three have had at least one hunting season since protections were lifted, while Minnesota and Wisconsin also have allowed trapping. More than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves have been killed, said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, one of several groups whose lawsuit prompted Howell’s ruling.

“We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks,” Lovvorn said.

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