In brief: Early flu season deaths surge in Massachusetts
Boston – Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday as flu season struck in earnest and the state reported 18 flu-related deaths so far.
The city is working with health care centers to offer free flu vaccines and hopes to set up places where people can get vaccinated. The city said there have been four flu-related deaths, all elderly residents, since the unofficial start of the flu season Oct. 1.
“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu shot,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
The city was experiencing its worst flu season since at least 2009, Menino said, with about 700 confirmed cases of the flu, compared with 70 all of last season.
Crane falls on building, injures seven people
New York – With the popping of cables and the snapping of metal, a 200-foot crane collapsed onto a building under construction near the East River waterfront Wednesday, injuring seven people, three of whom needed to be extricated from underneath the fallen machinery.
The red crane toppled around 2:30 p.m., sprawling across the metal scaffolding and wood planking that made up the first floor skeleton of a residential building in the New York City borough of Queens. Construction cranes have been a source of safety worries in the city since two giant rigs collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing a total of nine people.
Pension fund initiates arms divestment
Sacramento, Calif. – The nation’s largest teacher pension fund took the first step Wednesday toward divesting from companies that make guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines that are illegal in California.
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer made a motion to begin the divestment process after pension fund officials determined that the fund invests in the owner of a company that manufactured one of the weapons used in the Connecticut school shooting. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s investment committee unanimously approved the motion.
CalSTRS has investments in private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, which owns the manufacturer of an assault weapon used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The pension fund also owns shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., two publicly traded gun-makers.
The three investments make up a tiny fraction of the pension system’s holdings, about $11.7 million out of the $155 billion fund.
Pension staff will meet with the companies and determine the impact divesting would have on the fund’s performance. They’ll report back to the board at an unspecified date.