TIME global health

Man Dies of Rare Lassa Fever in New Jersey

He had recently returned from traveling in Liberia

A man died of a rare African virus in New Jersey Monday after recently returning from Liberia, officials confirmed.

The man died of Lassa fever, a virus that causes hemorrhagic symptoms but is very different from Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Lassa fever is only fatal for 1% of those who are infected, while Ebola can be fatal for 70% of those infected without treatment. Lassa fever is also much harder to spread from person to person (it’s usually picked up from rodent droppings). About 100,000 to 300,000 Lassa fever cases are reported in West Africa every year, resulting in about 5,000 deaths.

The man with Lassa fever had arrived at JFK airport from Liberia on May 17, and went to a hospital the following day complaining of fever, sore throat and tiredness, officials said. At that time, he did not say he had been traveling in West Africa, and he was sent home the same day. On May 21 his symptoms worsened and he returned to the hospital, at which point he was transferred to a facility equipped to deal with viral hemorrhagic fevers. The patient was in “appropriate isolation” when he died Monday evening. The CDC is working to compile a list of people who may have encountered the patient while he was sick, and they are monitoring close contacts for 21 days to see if they develop the virus.

TIME People

A Beautiful Mind Mathematician Killed in New Jersey Taxi Crash

John Nash and his wife, Alicia Nash, died Saturday

John Forbes Nash Jr., the subject of the 2001 Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, and his wife were killed Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police said.

Nash, 86, and Alicia Nash, 82, were in the taxi when the driver lost control and crashed into a guardrail, NJ.com reported. No charges were expected to be filed in the crash, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office.

Nash, a longtime resident of Princeton Junction, N.J., won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on game theory. His genius in economics and mathematics, in addition to his struggle with schizophrenia, became the subject of his 1998 biography, which years later inspired the film A Beautiful Mind.

The actor Russell Crowe, who played Nash in the movie, posted his condolences on Twitter, calling them “beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”

Princeton University, where Nash worked as a mathematician, said in a statement the community was “stunned and saddened” by the news of the deaths of Nash and his wife.

[NJ.com]

TIME legal

Why New Jersey Doesn’t Let You Pump Your Own Gas

California Gas Prices Fall 9.6 Cents In One Week
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A gasoline pump rests in the tank of a car on June 12, 2012 in San Anselmo, California.

The ban dates back to 1949

Lawmakers in New Jersey and Oregon are considering bills that would finally give drivers in those states the option to pump their own gas. But why was that practice banned in the first place?

Let’s start with the case in New Jersey. The Garden State’s ban on self-service gas stations, which are allowed in 48 states, began in 1949 when the New Jersey Legislature passed the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act. That law, enacted over concerns about the safety of consumers pumping petroleum themselves, was later followed by many other states. However, almost every state has since overturned their self-serve bans.

Some contend the New Jersey law was rooted in corruption, not safety concerns. There are also worries that young, inexperienced drivers run into trouble when visiting neighboring states and forced to pump their own gas for the first time (that was an issue for the author of this story when he drove in Pennsylvania as a teenager).

In both states, advocates say gasoline could be several cents cheaper if stations weren’t required to pay staff to pump gas. But thousands of jobs are also at stake if the practice ends.

That could all change now that lawmakers in New Jersey said Monday they intend to introduce legislation that would give drivers the option of self or full service at gasoline stations. That proposal comes about a month after a measure would allow drivers in rural parts of Oregon to serve themselves.

In some ways, these potential law changes could be a sign of the times. Roughly a year ago, a survey found that while Oregonians are almost evenly divided on self-service gas, voters under the age of 45 are strongly in favor of controlling the pump.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME portfolio

On the Fringe of Society with Christopher Occhicone

Christopher Occhicone was the recipient of the TIME award at the 2014 Eddie Adams Workshop

Photographer Christopher Occhicone spent months following a group of addicts who live on the outskirts of Lakewood, N.J., in a tent city in the forest. The result is his long-term project titled Fringe. “They live outside the boundaries of social norms,” he writes in his introduction to the series. “Their food and clothing needs are satisfied through donations. Their drug and alcohol needs are met by cash gotten from odd jobs, petty crime, sympathetic relatives, and social security and disability payments.”

Today, the camp is gone. Promoters acquired the land it used to sit on, buying out its former occupants. But, in 2013, when a group of 15 to 20 people still lived in tents and makeshift home, Occhicone documented their everyday lives.

“It took time to get the access,” he says. “In the eight months I spent there, I really shot a lot for four months. The first two months, I was just hanging around, talking to people and not taking any pictures. I wanted to get to know the guys.” That also meant eating and drinking with them. “They invite you to eat, you eat. They offer you a beer, you have a beer,” he says. “Obviously, there are certain lines you don’t cross, certain things you get offered that you don’t accept.”

Quickly, two main characters appeared in Occhicone’s work: Chris and Eve. The married couple, featured in many of the New Jersey-based photographer’s work, had a turbulent relationship. “She was a 30-year-old alcoholic, and he was only 19,” he says. “And it felt like he thought he was in a summer camp. I don’t think he realized what he was doing. They would call the cops on each other all the time.”

Now, with the camp dismantled, Occhicone’s work is done. “I think I said what I wanted to say,” he tells TIME.

Christopher Occhicone is a New Jersey-based freelance photographer.

TIME Chris Christie

Christie Ally Pleads Guilty in Bridge Scandal, 2 Aides Indicted

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses VA Consumer Electronics Association during a Leadership Series discussion at the Ritz-Carlton on May 1, 2015 in McLean, Virginia.
Olivier Douliery—Getty Images New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses VA Consumer Electronics Association during a Leadership Series discussion at the Ritz-Carlt`on on May 1, 2015 in McLean, Virginia.

An ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responsible for closing approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge before his 2013 reelection pleaded guilty Friday, with indictments unveiled against a pair of former top Christie aides.

David Wildstein, the former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official who supervised the lane closures, entered a guilty plea at the Newark, N.J., federal courthouse on a pair of conspiracy charges after an 18-month investigation. Nine-count indictments against Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority, were unsealed after the plea.

Wildstein, who is cooperating with prosecutors, was charged with conspiracy to knowingly misapplying property that receives federal funds and conspiracy to violate civil rights. The lane closures were allegedly in retribution for Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s refusal to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. Kelly and Baroni were charged with similar conspiracy charges, as well as multiple counts of wire fraud as part of the scheme.

Christie has denied knowledge of the lane closures, and for months afterward mocked the notion that the lanes closures were anything but a traffic study. But a legislative investigation revealed emails and text messages from Wildstein and Kelly—then one of Christie’s top aides—about the lane closures, including the now infamous note from Kelly, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The scandal sent Christie’s presidential ambitions into a tailspin that he is only just emerging from. Christie began a series of town halls in New Hampshire just weeks ago in an attempt to revitalize his prospects. The indictments threaten to set his hopes back yet again.

Wildstein, David Information by Zeke Miller

TIME New Jersey

Court Hearing Set in Bridge Scandal Looming Over Chris Christie

Chris Christie
Mel Evans—AP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering during a town hall meeting, in Cedar Grove, N.J. on April 23, 2015.

(NEWARK, N.J.) — An investigation into the 2013 George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal, which has loomed over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as he considers a presidential run, is headed to a courtroom Friday.

Federal prosecutors announced an 11 a.m. court hearing in Newark and an early afternoon news conference. The office, which Christie led before stepping down in 2008 to run for governor, has not said who will appear in court and didn’t release any other details on the investigation.

Two of the three access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee were shut down for four mornings in September 2013, causing massive delays.

The simmering scandal erupted a year ago when an email from Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, to David Wildstein, a port authority official and Christie loyalist, was revealed. It read, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wildstein’s reply was, “Got it.”

By the time that email was made public, Wildstein had already resigned, as had Bill Baroni, Christie’s top appointee to the Port Authority. The governor fired Kelly and cut ties with Bill Stepien, his two-time campaign manager, amid the scandal.

Questions over whether the lanes were closed for political retribution have been dogging Christie for more than a year. Christie has been gearing up for a 2016 presidential campaign but has not announced he is running.

Asked about the impending action during a press conference Wednesday, Christie brushed off the potential impact.

“I don’t think that has anything much to do with me,” he said, adding that the ongoing developments wouldn’t influence his decision timeline or his campaign if he chooses to run.

Christie has long maintained that he knew nothing about the closures until he was confronted with media reports, and said he doesn’t expect the facts to change from what he said during a marathon press conference last January.

“I know what the truth is, so I’m not the least bit concerned about it,” he said.

Christie has launched a political action committee that allows him to pay for travel and a staff, but he has not formally declared himself a candidate for president.

Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the powerful agency that runs the bridge — one of the busiest in the world — ordered lanes reopened on what would have been the fifth morning of closures.

Lawmakers began holding hearings on the closures and Christie laughed off suggestions that his administration had anything to do with them after the mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, suggested that the lanes were blocked to get revenge against him, perhaps because he did not endorse Christie’s re-election.

A law firm his office hired — and the state paid for — produced a report clearing Christie and his remaining staff of any wrongdoing. Democrats derided the report as a whitewash.

In December, a special legislative committee looking into the matter released its interim report. It did not link Christie to the lane closures, but said that Christie aides acted with “perceived impunity.” The report noted, though, that several of the people it considered key witnesses either invoked their rights not to incriminate themselves and refused to answer questions or were put off-limits by federal criminal investigators.

Christie and his supporters have denounced the legislative effort as politically motivated.

Several members of Christie’s staff testified before the lawmakers. They have not shared any bombshells that have offered proof that there was a broader plot to close the lanes or to cover up what happened. Some lawmakers have seized on the fact that one staffer, Jennifer Egea, said she sent Christie a text message about earlier testimony before the committee but later deleted it. The lawmakers’ report said there was a volley of texts between the aide and Christie. They said that Christie’s failure to supply them indicates that he must have deleted them, too.

The scandal also raised questions about how Christie’s administration handled the rough and tumble world of New Jersey politics.

TIME energy

How $8.9 Billion Became $250 Million in the Exxon Lawsuit

An Exxon Mobil Corp. gas station in Nashville, Tennessee on Jan. 16, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An Exxon Mobil Corp. gas station on Jan. 16, 2015.

New Jersey's suit against Exxon says it damaged more than 1,500 acres of land

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration’s assertion that it worked “aggressively” to ensure that Exxon Mobil Corp. reimbursed the state for environmental contamination isn’t changing any minds among the critics of the deal.

For more than a decade the state has been fighting for a court order that would have required Exxon to pay $8.9 billion for environmental repair and other damages related to the company’s oil refining and other activities in northern New Jersey. Instead, the Christie administration has agreed to settle on $225 million to resolve the state’s lawsuit.

Word of the settlement emerged on Feb. 27 as a New Jersey judge apparently was considering how much Exxon should have to pay. The deal generated a chorus of criticism and vows by state legislators to block the deal.

On March 5, the state’s acting attorney general, John Hoffman, and its environmental commissioner, Bob Martin, issued a statement saying their two offices had worked hard together to reach a settlement with Exxon, which they called “the single largest environmental settlement with a corporate defendant in New Jersey history.”

Read more: This Is Why Warren Buffet Dumped His Exxon Holding

“[T]his administration aggressively pushed the case to trial [and] is the result of long-fought settlement negotiations that predated and postdated the trial,” the statement by Hoffman and Martin said.

Exxon said it would have no comment on the matter.

Despite the explanation from the state’s Republican administration, two prominent Democrats in the state legislature, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Raymond Lesniak, are preparing to file a motion in the Exxon suit to block the settlement. Lesniak has also filed a formal request with the court for all documents related to the settlement.

“We have to and we will get to the bottom of this case to determine how $8.9 billion shrunk down to $250 million,” Lesniak said in a statement. “We are going to dig deep and then we will dig deeper to find the truth.”

Sweeney and Lesniak are among Christie’s critics who say he the governor acted quickly to take advantage of a budget law allowing the governor to divert revenue from environmental settlements that exceed $50 million away from intended clean-ups to the state’s general fund.

Read more: Judge Dismisses Suit Against Energy Companies Over Louisiana Erosion

The law expires June 30, and the critics say it forced Christie to act quickly by reducing the fines to the satisfaction of Exxon and use the proceeds to fill gaps in the state’s budget or even to finance subsidies meant to attract businesses to the state.

“Christie was trying to get this settlement in before [June 30] because [the state Legislature] won’t repeat it in the new budget,” Lesniak said.

Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which has been the beneficiary of more than $1.9 billion in donations from Exxon since Christie first ran for governor in 2009. Asked if the generous settlement amounts to a gift from Christie to Exxon, Lesniak told the International Business Times, “One can certainly see it that way.”

The state’s suit says Exxon damaged more than 1,500 acres of meadows, wetlands and marshes in the northern New Jersey communities of Bayonne and Linden, where Exxon operated multiple oil refineries for decades. Just two of these facilities, the Bayway and Bayonne sites, would cost $8.9 billion to restore, according to an expert hired by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME Accident

This Pickup Was Ditched on an Icy River With a Dog Trapped Inside

U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic A helicopter crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City located a truck that fell through the ice on Toms River, New Jersey, March 1, 2015.

Driver and passenger were reportedly doing stunts on the ice

Two people in New Jersey abandoned their pickup truck in a frozen river with a dog inside, after an attempt at some winter daredevilry went awry.

Authorities were alerted by a call just after midnight on Saturday, reporting that a pickup truck had driven onto the frozen Toms River near Pine Beach, N.J. and was doing “donuts” on the ice.

“The headlight and brake lights could be seen from the shoreline as the vehicle headed South and West towards the other side of the river,” the Toms River Police Department said in a statement. “After a period of time went by the lights suddenly were no longer visible.”

Sergeant First Class Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police Dive team told the New York Daily News that police found the submerged vehicle around 3 p.m. on Sunday with a frozen dog inside.

Toms River Police said that two individuals have turned themselves in for questioning in connection with the incident.

TIME republicans

Real TIME: Chris Christie Jabs at the Media at CPAC

New Jersey Governor and likely presidential hopeful Chris Christie addressed his critics in the media and spoke out on his pro-life stance and passion for his job during his Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington at the weekend.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say.

TIME 2016 Election

Chris Christie Looks to Get His Groove Back With Union Talks

Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.

A long overdue reset for the governor of New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to get his mojo back.

The can-do, tough-as-nails, straight-talking governor has spent the last several months tossed around in the shifting seas of presidential politics. Jeb Bush raided his prospective campaign piggy bank. Scott Walker claimed his old crown—the conservative fighter willing to put taxpayers ahead of government workers. And an imprecise vaccine comment in London left Christie fleeing reporters has he sped to his plane back home.

Just last week, during a speech in Washington, a deflated Christie seemed to distance himself from his own state’s economic record, blaming the state legislature for the status quo. “I don’t know exactly whose economic plan has been implemented or not,” he said of the state he runs. It was a far cry from the victorious Christie, who declared upon winning reelection in 2013, “I did not seek a second term to do small things. I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it.”

“Now” will finally arrive on Tuesday, his advisers promise, when he reveals a new plan to address New Jersey’s struggling finances, a new schedule for another statewide tour and a well-kept secret: For months, he has been breaking bread with his one-time union foes, the New Jersey Education Association, discussing further reforms to the state’s underwater state pension system Christie began to reform with controversial legislation during his first term.

“I did not come here just to identify the problem, shrug my shoulders and return to business as usual,” he plans to say later today, returning to his old rhetorical style. “And that is why I am here today to ask you to do what may be politically difficult, but what is morally and physically the right thing to do. This is what it is about. Coming together. Thinking differently. Serving the people. Addressing the long term. This is how we get things done.”

The shift in tone is long overdue for a governor who has never played defense as well as offense. Just a year ago, he was a formidable force in the Republican Party, with a mainline connection to the establishment looking for someone to take on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But an uneven message, a distracting criminal investigation over his staff’s involvement in a politically motivated road closure and deteriorating economic conditions in his state have tarnished his reputation.

“There’s an opportunity here for a comeback, because the press will love that,” says John Weaver, a former presidential strategist for Republicans John McCain and Jon Huntsman. “But they have to act fast or he will go down in history having squandered a great opportunity.”

The state’s fiscal situation, which will be the focus on Tuesday’s address, may prove the problem least fixable by a quick shift in strategy. On Monday, just a day before the planned pivot, a state judge ruled that Christie had failed to live up to his own signature legislative accomplishment by failing to fully fund the state’s share of recalculated public employee pensions. In her ruling, state judge Mary Jocobson took a shot at Christie’s public claims to have achieved a historic reforms during his first term, since he had since decided not to fund the state’s share of his own plan. “The governor now takes the unusual position in this court of claiming that this legislative contractual guarantee, which embodied significant reforms for which he took substantial credit with great national fanfare, violates the New Jersey Constitution,” she wrote.

Christie has promised to appeal the ruling which requires him to spend $1.57 billion more on pensions this year, arguing that other state governors have also failed to fully fund the program in the past. But such explanations won’t make good campaign slogans. In part because of the standoff, credit-ratings agencies have repeatedly cut New Jersey’s standing, a fact that could be easily used against the governor in 2016 campaign ads.

Christie’s pre-campaign messaging will also need some attention, as the early state voting map provides him with few credible paths to the nomination. “Christie’s path has narrowed considerably,” said one veteran GOP operative, who is not yet working for a 2016 presidential contender. “Lesser-known candidates have thicker skin with the media and even Rand Paul exhibits more discipline.”

On the road in Iowa or New Hampshire, Christie’s message has thus far boiled down largely to his personality, a move that worked well through two elections in New Jersey. He tells audiences of his family upbringing in an attempt to turn his legendarily brash persona into an asset. “You’ll always know what I believe and you’ll always know where I stand,” he said in Iowa last month.

But the personality pitch depends on a state record to back it up, and may need to be refined for voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. That’s where a potential truce with the unions could come in handy. Just a few years ago, union leaders were circulating an email joking about Christie’s death, and the governor was regularly lobbing words like “greed and self-interest” in the direction of the union. Now Christie has another talking point to add to his claim that he can bring conservative ideas to a blue state and make divided government work.

The New Jersey teacher’s union was a party to the lawsuit that resulted in Monday’s decision, but in a statement to reporters, Christie aides said the new negotiations represented a new chapter in the relationship. “The issue has come full circle – back in 2010 and 2011 when Governor Christie first took on pension and health benefits reform, the NJEA was opposed to any changes,” reads the guidance from the governor’s office. “But today, just five years later, the Governor has reached out to a political adversary and offered them partnership in working toward a solution and they have accepted.”

Any new chapter is a welcome one for Christie at this point. But this won’t be enough. In the coming months, he will need several more to win the nomination of his party.

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