The Vermont Department of Labor is reminding businesses that legislative changes taking affect July 1st could mean immediate closure of businesses found to be without required workers’ compensation insurance.Act 142 takes effect July 1st that requires the Department of Labor to close a business immediately if an employer fails to carry required workers’ compensation insurance. The legislation also stiffens penalties for failure to carry insurance of $150 to $250 per day that a business operates without insurance with stiffer penalties for failure to comply with a stop work order. Fines will be increasing on employers who fail to abide by the law by misclassifying workers’ as independent contractors to avoid costs and obtain an advantage over their competitors. These fines can be up to $5,000 per misclassified employee. Lastly, the legislation creates a fifth position at the Department to investigate misclassification by Vermont employers. Three new investigative positions were created in legislation passed in 2009. These investigators will be out on the streets to persuade employers it is in their best interest to comply with the law by obtaining the required coverage.Over the past year, the Vermont Department of Labor has been stepping up investigation of and enforcement against employers lacking workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Vermont, like other States, is encountering a serious problem that threatens the health and safety of its workforce – the misclassification of workers and the failure of employers to obtain required workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees.A recent sweep of the Church Street area of Burlington revealed several non-complying businesses. The Department ordered them to close if they could not provide evidence of workers’ compensation insurance coverage within five days. Some of the Burlington employers under investigation have admitted that they had deliberately avoided obtaining workers’ compensation insurance altogether to cut business costs; others had previously obtained insurance coverage but their policies had been canceled due to non-payment of premiums.In addition to stepping up coverage investigations, the Department will also be conducting employer seminars to help employers understand misclassification issues. These seminars will be directed towards helping employers understand that, in most cases, an independent contractor who does not have employees of its own is actually an employee of the business as it related to the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs. Dates and locations of the employer seminars will be posted Labor’s website at www.labor.vermont.gov(link is external).Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation system was first established in 1915, providing a ‘no-fault’ insurance program whereby employees may receive medical and disability benefits for a variety of work-related injuries and illnesses. If an employer carries the mandatory insurance, they are not subject to civil suit by an injured worker. If the employer fails to carry insurance and an employee is injured or becomes ill, that employee can sue for damages. Depending on the injury, that could result in the loss of the business, an owner’s home, or other assets. ‘Most often the cost of insurance is far less expensive than the resulting law suit’ commented Stephen Monahan, workers’ compensation and safety director for the Department of Labor. ‘We want employers to know we will be investigating about the higher fines and penalties in hopes they will choose compliance. Our division also has expertise through ProjectWORKSAFE that can identify ways to enhance workplace safety and health’ commented Monahan. Source: Vermont Department of Labor 6.29.2010
Micah True (a.k.a. Caballo Blanco) — made famous by the bestselling book Born to Run — disappeared on a run in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico on Tuesday. He was staying at a wilderness lodge and went out for a 12-mile trail run Tuesday morning. When he did not return by Wednesday morning, resort owners alerted the police. The 60-year-old ultrarunner is an experienced wilderness traveler. He was scheduled to leave for Phoenix yesterday. Rescue teams, state helicopters, and the Civil Air Patrol are currently searching the wilderness.Editor’s Note: Micah is a long-time friend and colleague. For over 15 years, he has lived and run in the Copper Canyons with the Tarahumara people. He has celebrated the Tarahumara’s running prowess and brought much-needed attention to their everyday struggles.I’ve run many miles with Micah. Even at age 60, he is still one of the toughest ultrarunners I know. If anyone can survive this ordeal, it is him. My deepest thoughts are with Micah and the ongoing efforts to locate him.
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo February 06, 2017 Fifty new elite agents will join the Honduran Anti-Extortion Task Force (FNA, per its Spanish acronym) — a special unit made up of military service members, agents from the National Police, members of the Attorney General’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies — in order to reduce extortion. The new agents started an intensive training program on fighting extortion on January 24th. Training will last 45 days and will be followed by a tactical and practical phase in different regions. They will join the FNA beginning the first week of March. The participating officers will be equipped with the best skills for detecting those types of crimes, enabling them to carry out successful investigations against organized criminal gangs and the maras, or transnational gang organizations. “Many of these cases of intimidation — about 80 percent — are committed by the two main gangs in Honduras: the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13, per its Spanish acronym) and Barrio 18. They carry out extortion and other criminal activities such as murder, drug trafficking, small-scale trafficking, and robbery,” Lieutenant Colonel Amílcar Hernández, head of the Honduran FNA, told Diálogo. Criminals often make threats to small- and medium-size companies, transportation workers, bus and taxi drivers, and taxi dispatchers, forcing them to pay large amounts of money. Women and children are used to collect extortion payments. “The best strategies for fighting any type of crime, especially extortion, are reporting it to the police and having the community’s trust. Thanks to the fine results that we have had in recent years using our National Interagency Security Task Force (FUSINA, per its Spanish acronym), many people affected by this scourge have reported it to the police,” Lt. Col. Hernández said. “Extortion is a crime that takes a heavy toll psychologically, and because of that, the victim is often unable to go to the authorities. This type of crime is one of the public safety threats that harms Hondurans the most; a crime that is fueled by fear,” Carlos Flores Paguada, an independent analyst on Honduran security issues, told Diálogo. From the creation of FNA in March 2013 to January 23rd, authorities logged more than 5,000 victim complaints, according to statistics provided by the agency. Between January 1st and 23rd, authorities logged 50 new cases of extortion. In 2016, 1,147 cases were registered, and in 2015, 980 complaints were filed. The arrests of 2,477 extortionists prevented the payment of nearly $8 million. According to the FNA, two or three operations per month are generally carried out across the country, especially in cities with the highest levels of these crimes, such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba. In addition to the filing of complaints, which is done anonymously, the blocking of cell phone calls in the country’s (24) jails has shown to be an effective tactic for protecting the civilian population, according to a January 9th press release issued by the Secretariat for Defense (SEDENA, per its Spanish acronym). SEDENA underscores that “there are citizens who have lost their sense of fear. They found that the Anti-Extortion Unit did not turn its back on them, but instead solved their problem.” In December 2016, FNA teams carried out a series of operations across the length and breadth of the country. These were operations against extortion crimes committed by MS-13 and Barrio 18. During Operation Avalancha (Avalanche)conducted in San Pedro Sula, authorities seized more than $42,000 from MS-13. They also arrested business people who laundered money for both criminal organizations. They seized firearms, computers, and cell phones. In addition to those arrested, circumstantial and material evidence that will be used to prove the involvement of individuals who are serving sentences at penitentiaries was also collected. Some incarcerated crime bosses have other gang members who are not in prison act as extortionists. “In the coming weeks, arrest warrants will be issued for gang members and members of the maras,” Lt. Col. Hernández stated. “This is a systematic coordination effort with other institutions that belong to FUSINA and that are doing their part and helping to bring down the level of this type of crime.” “We cannot deny that the authorities are getting good results from the standpoint of reports to the police and arrests made against extortionist organizations,” Flores said. “These new FNA units will yield better results.” Lt. Col. Hernández indicated that the main challenges faced by FNA in combating this crime are gaining the trust of the community, the campaign to increase the culture of police reporting among citizens, and a new amendment to Article 222 of the Penal Code, through which an individual commits the crime of extortion by the mere fact of demanding money from a person under threat. “Our society at large must take the necessary actions to break the vicious cycle of crime, fear, and impunity,” Flores stated. “We are not going to eliminate these criminal organizations overnight.” According to Lt. Col. Hernández, “Whoever the extortionist may be, sooner or later, he will be trapped.”
July 1, 2005 On the Move July 1, 2005 On the Move On the Move David E. Hudgens and Mark P. Eiland announce the formation of Hudgens & Eiland with offices at 28311 N. Main Street, Daphne, AL 36526. Berman & Berman have relocated to 9560 S.W. 107th Ave., Suite 208, Miami 33176; phone (305) 274-0829; fax (305) 274-7829; e-mail email@example.com; Web site; www.lawyers.com/thetaxman. Bethany Ray Reichard joined Holbrook, Akel, Cold, Steifel & Ray as an associate in Jacksonville. Al Truesdell joined Zimmerman, Kiser & Sutcliffe as of counsel. W. Gray Dunlap, Jr. joined Morrison & Mills as of counsel. Dunlap practices in the areas of insurance coverage litigation and analysis, commercial litigation, and bad faith litigation. Additionally, Kevin G. Brick joined the firm as an associate and practices in the areas of business, finance, and government law. David J. Weissman joined Winder & Haslam in Salt Lake City, UT, as of counsel. Leora Herrmann joined Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin in the firm’s intellectual property protection and commercialization practice. Herrmann focuses her practice on copyright and trademark counterfeiting and infringement litigation, licensing, and U.S. and international trademark registration. Spencer Aronfeld was hired by 1360 WKAT to host a weekly radio show discussing legal topics and with call-in questions. David A. Philips joined the real estate group of Fieldstone Lester Shear & Denberg. Philips concentrates his practice in condominium law and real estate transactional matters. Giselle Leonardo is serving as a mediator for construction, commercial, real estate, engineering, and international matters. Leonardo is the principal with Giselle Leonardo, P.A. with offices at One East Broward Blvd., Suite 700, Ft. Lauderdale 33301; phone (954) 728-9026; fax (954) 252-2100; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert J. Sniffen announces the establishment of Sniffen Law Firm concentrating in labor and employment, representing employers. The firm also concentrates in commercial, civil rights, and administrative litigation, school law, and property taxation issues, and is located at 211 East Call Street, Tallahassee 32301; phone (850) 205-1996; fax (850) 205-3004. Donald L. Palmer joined the Washington D.C. congressional staff of Tom Feeney, R-Fla., who represents Florida’s 24th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, as his legislative assistant. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Luis E. Rojas joined Adorno & Yoss as partners. Diaz de la Portilla serves as chair of the land use, zoning, and government procurement department. Rojas focuses in the areas of land use, zoning, procurement, and government relations. Bill White was elected and took office as public defender in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Robert C. White, Jr., and Kevin M. Levy joined Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart as co-chairs of the firm’s Technology Practice Group and Emerging Growth Company Practice Group. Denise A. Welter announces the formation of the Law Office of Denise A. Welter with offices at 12555 Orange Drive, Suite 271, Davie 33330; phone (954) 862-1482; fax (954) 862-1425; e-mail email@example.com. The firm concentrates in the areas of elder law, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship and real estate. David A. Perrott joined the Kimsey Law Group in Tampa. Perrott practices in the areas of personal injury, disability insurance, workers’ compensation, and employment law. Kelly-Ann Cartwright of Holland & Knight in Miami was selected to complete a three-year term on the firm’s directors’ committee. David I. Spector joined Schwarzberg Spector Duke Schulz & Rogers as a shareholder. Spector focuses his practice on employment, civil rights, and commercial litigation.
View image | gettyimages.com View image | gettyimages.com Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York The first dead body I ever saw was lying on a funeral pyre in Nepal. It wasn’t a high-caste affair at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. There was no tell-tale shroud, so I was surprised when I realized that the oddly shaped stick being licked by the flames was actually an emaciated brown limb. Then I noticed the calloused foot.Now there’s so much death, so much destruction, it’s all you can see. The death toll is rising into the tens of thousands as the international rescue effort struggles to reach the far-flung villages of Nepal. As the days stretch into weeks before help arrives, I hope the living won’t come to envy the dead. I’ve trekked on those steep winding trails, climbing one hill only to descend to a narrow valley, and having to cross swinging rope bridges over raging rivers that would have given Indiana Jones second thoughts.When I spotted the top of a stupa, a Buddhist temple, overlooking a pile of rubble in Kathmandu, I felt some relief to know that some artifacts of the country’s priceless heritage survived the devastation. But so much will be lost forever.Kathmandu had its heyday about 500 years ago, give or take a century or two, when the silk trade between China and India was very lucrative through those Himalayan passes. At one point in the Kathmandu valley there were actually three kingdoms, when the royal family split apart, each son apparently competing with the others to build the most impressive temple complex in Bhaktapur and Patan as well as in the original royal city. Those are the pagoda structures that took the biggest hit from the massive shockwave. An earthquake in 1988 had registered 6.5 on the Richter scale and left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. Saturday’s quake had a magnitude of 7.8. The loss is incalculable.Until 1951, Nepal was known as “the forbidden kingdom,” a Hindu monarchy about the size of Tennessee wedged between India and Tibet, separated on the north by the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world culminating with Mount Everest, and on the south by the Terai, tropical lowlands where the Buddha was born in Lumbini more than two millennia ago. The country’s sovereignty was protected by a treaty between Great Britain’s East India Company and Nepal’s aristocracy, who guaranteed a supply of troops in exchange for never becoming a colony like India. It was those fierce soldiers, the Gurkhas, who made a name for themselves fighting alongside the Allies against the Japanese in World War II.When they returned home after the war, they brought a different world view that ultimately led to a unique revolution. Instead of overthrowing the raja—the king—it restored him to power because since the 19th century the ruling family were the Ranas, whose progeny became Nepal’s hereditary prime ministers. The status quo came to an abrupt end in 1950 when King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah managed to escape the Ranas’ guards by allegedly going on a hunting trip with his family but instead seeking asylum in India. Tellingly, the Nepalese regard him as the Father of the Nation because he set the country on the path to a constitutional monarchy. He died in 1955.I arrived in Nepal in time for the 1975 coronation of his 29-year-old grandson, Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, which had been delayed for a few years by the royal astrologers until the signs were most auspicious. Thanks to my college program, I’d taken my junior year abroad to live with a Nepalese family and get academic credit for making a 16 mm film and writing an article for The Rising Nepal Newspaper.That’s how I ended up at the home of Rishikesh Shah, Nepal’s first ambassador to the United Nations. On the walls of his study were photos of him shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Krushchev. But I never met him because he was residing out of the country while writing a book about the monarchy. Instead, my official host was his wife, a friendly, rather rotund woman, who greeted me upstairs in her bedroom, where she was seated in the middle of a large bed surrounded by paperback novels written in Newari, one of Nepal’s dozens of dialects. She was entertaining a stately, elderly gentleman who seemed to be most amused by my purpose in coming to Nepal.What caste, he asked me, did I wish to be considered equal to? Being an uppity 22-year-old, I scoffed at the notion and told him brashly that in America we had no castes; everyone was equal in the pursuit of happiness. He turned to Mrs. Shah and they nodded at each other knowingly. And so I found myself eating my meals and hanging out with her servants. My dinners were their nightly entertainment. Sometimes, I’d eat before 10 people, all crowded into a tidy kitchen at the back of Mrs. Shah’s compound, watching me plow through mounds of rice, hot chili curries and lentils, the sweat dripping off my brow. And whenever I managed to utter something in Nepalese, which I was allegedly learning during the day, they burst into laughter and smiled broadly.One of the highlights of my five months’ stay was seeing the raja and rani perched in their red velvet-canopied throne atop a lumbering decorated elephant as the royal procession left the old palace in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square after the coronation ceremony. Rani, also known as Queen Aiswarya, didn’t look too comfortable riding up in their howdah, no doubt preferring to be in the back seat of Rolls-Royce. But that ride was a breeze compared to the turbulence to come. With the vast majority of the country living in extreme poverty, tourist dollars and foreign aid, even before a major catastrophe like the recent earthquake, never trickled down far enough. A Maoist insurgency sprung up to bedevil the government, claiming thousands of lives as the rebels demanded land reforms, no royal family and no close ties to India.By the 1990s, Raja Birendra had his hands full. But the worst was yet to come. In June 2001, he and seven members of his family were murdered by his own son and heir apparent, Crown Prince Dipendra, in the new palace. Apparently, the raja, regarded as the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, was no match for the barrage of bullets fired by his 29-year-old son who may have become unhinged because he’d fallen in love with a woman his mother disapproved of—and the astrologers had advised postponing his marriage until he was 35.The Maoist rebels put their guns down in 2006 but the Nepal government has never gained ground, let alone the upper hand. The average annual income is pegged at $700 a year, and that’s generous. One of the highest-paid gigs is also one of the most dangerous, being a Sherpa guide up Mount Everest where the pay might be up to $5,000. When the recent earthquake struck, it triggered a deadly avalanche that leveled the base camp at 18,000 feet above sea level, killing at least 18 people, injuring and stranding dozens more.The same geological force propelling Mount Everest to become the summit of mountaineers’ aspirations—the tectonic collision slamming the Indian and Eurasian plates—has torn the land asunder. It was only a matter of time. View image | gettyimages.com When I visited Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a redevelopment team led by West Germans was training a cadre of skilled Nepali carpenters to restore the temples to their original glory. The project also involved installing public sewers, improving the drinking water and building a bus depot for tourists because all cars were going to be banned from the temple square. The old buildings were too fragile, the project coordinator told me back then, 40 years ago, adding that “heavy traffic” would shake them apart.Today these irreplaceable structures lie in ruins.The question now is not about replacing the past, but helping the Nepalese survive the present.Read about local relief efforts and how you can help HERE.
continue reading » Greetings Compliance Friends!A few weeks ago, we provided an update on the Marijuana Banking Landscape, including NCUA’s recent Regulatory Alert 19-02 which reaffirms credit unions’ authority to serve lawful industrial hemp businesses and provides a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) framework for hemp banking. Since this time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued an interim final rule establishing a regulatory regime for domestic hemp production. In light of these developments, NAFCU expects NCUA to update its guidance at a future time. Until then, recent joint guidance from financial regulators may help credit unions further develop their BSA/AML compliance program if making the business decision to serve hemp-related businesses.The USDA’s Interim Final RuleAs a refresher, hemp is defined as the plant cannabis sativa and any part or derivative of that plant with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration (THC level) of not more than 0.3 percent. The THC level is what separates hemp from marijuana, and a THC level at or below 0.3 percent does not cause an intoxicating “high” effect. The cultivation of hemp was fully legalized under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) which distinguished hemp from the definition of “marihuana” under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). A few years prior, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) permitted hemp production where authorized through a state or tribe’s research and development pilot program. The 2018 Farm Bill extends this authorization, providing states and tribes the option to regulate hemp production within their borders. The law also requires USDA to establish procedures for approving state or tribal plans and for regulating lawful domestically-produced hemp in states or tribes without a USDA-approved plan. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Today’s Think|Chat session addressed a serious and relevant topic – assessing your business’s network security. Tim Foley conducted a virtual “chat” about the topic with Zachary Hill, CTO at Think|Stack.For those of you who run a business or simply read the news, you know that cyber-crime is on the rise. Most businesses find it hard to track just how vulnerable and unprepared they are at the best of times and have scrambled to set up and secure a remote workforce over the past few weeks.Zach briefed us on why it’s critical for businesses to review their network security right NOW.“A lot of people have been caught off guard by the current pandemic crisis. They have had to rapidly create policy for remote work and on-board technology for remote work. Unfortunately, it’s resulted in some overworked IT folks, and engineers who’ve had to implement new technology as fast as they could to make sure businesses can operate and work remotely. What this ultimately means is that sometimes working so quickly results in mistakes or inhibits companies from putting enough planning or effort into the security of the efficiency of that implementation.”We recommend a security check for any type of business, especially those who recently had to adopt remote work programs. A security check typically takes no more than 3-hours total and will check for any gaps in your security. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County lawmakers Wednesday passed a revised bill regulating the use of drones after County Executive Steve Bellone vetoed a prior version that banned drones with cameras at county beaches during summer.Seventeen legislators voted in favor of the new bill, which requires the county Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation to draft drone-permitting rules by next year. Instead of focusing on camera-equipped drones, the new version instead aims to regulate all drones—dropping the constitutionally problematic provision restricting drone-assisted photography in public.“If you are landing or launching a drone from a county park, you are supposed to get a permit,” George Nolan, the legislative counsel, explained before the vote. “That is the essence of the bill…When you operate in the park, it has to be within your line of sight.”Suffolk isn’t alone in eyeing rules for the increasingly popular radio-controlled unmanned aerial devices. Nassau County lawmakers are discussing a similar proposal, as are the towns of Huntington and Hempstead, plus the Village of Saltaire on Fire Island. The Federal Aviation Administration is also drafting national drone rules, which are expected to be released next year.Civil liberties groups and radio-controlled airplane hobbyists both objected to Suffolk’s first drone bill.“In attempting to create a zone of privacy where none ever existed, this legislation unconstitutionally infringes on one of our most cherished civil liberties—our right to free press and speech,” Bellone wrote in his veto message last month.RELATED STORY: Long Island Drone Sightings Rise as Regulations Debate Takes Off“We’re pleased that the county executive took steps to protect constitutional rights in Suffolk County,” Amol Sinha, director of the Suffolk County Chapter of New York Civil Liberties Union, said after urging Bellone to veto the prior version.Sinha noted that the prior version was problematic not only because it failed to recognize that there is no expectation of privacy in public places such as county parks, it also was vague about what constitutes a county facility that it attempted to ban photo-drones from flying over without authorization, and improperly granted exceptions to credentialed members of the media.The first version of the bill, titled A Local Law to Protect Privacy in Suffolk County, was replaced with A Local Law to Protect Public Safety in Suffolk County Parks. Suffolk County Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) said the new version will protect the public from errant drones, such as one that recently crashed at the U.S. Open in Queens.“More and more issues are happening day in and day out,” Muratore said. “Those things can do some serious harm, especially to young children. I don’t want to say it, but down the road, we might say, ‘I told you so.’”Bellone, who proposed the revised version of the bill as a certificate of necessity—expedited legislation that skips the usual committee and public hearing process—is expected to sign it into law. The parks department will schedule two public hearings on the new drone rules before February. Permit fees are to be determined, but violators would still face fines of $250 to $500.The only lawmaker who didn’t vote for the bill was Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mt. Sinai), who missed the vote. She was one of only two Suffolk legislators to vote against the prior version of the bill.The Press recently reported that authorities have received calls about at least 20 drones spotted in Long Island skies in recent years, half of them in Suffolk, including one over a U.S. Coast Guard Station in June and another that scared a small plane pilot headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport last summer.Since that story last month, Suffolk County police have received another report of a drone, this time in Ocean Bay Park on FI on Aug. 27. Officers told that operator to stop flying the device over homes, according to the police report.
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NZ Herald 9 December 2015A group opposed to euthanasia is encouraging more doctors to sign a new open letter objecting to assisted suicide.But the MP backing a bid to legalise euthanasia says his bill is solid, and claimed the loud objections of some doctors were hypocritical and detached from public opinion.The Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia, said one its trustees, Dr Sinead Donelly, launched the online letter to send a message to lawmakers.The letter claimed to have attracted the support of 40 doctors by mid-afternoon.“We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship, which is based on trust and respect,” the letter stated.“We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.”The letter invoked the position statements of the World Medical Association and New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA).NZMA chairman Stephen Child said the association was not aware of the letter being published. However, the NZMA’s position statement on euthanasia was recently reviewed and was consistent with the tenor of the open letter.In its position statement, the NZMA opposed euthanasia but supported the concept of “death with dignity and comfort”.“Euthanasia, that is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical.”Yet the NZMA supported the right of patients to decline treatment, or request pain relief. It also supported the right of access to appropriate palliative care.Doctors want no part in assisted suicide We endorse the views of the World Medical Association and the New Zealand Medical Association that physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are unethical, even if they were made legal. We are committed to the concept of death with dignity and comfort, including the provision of effective pain relief and excellence in palliative care.We uphold the right of patients to decline treatment, as set out in the NZ Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.We know that the proper provision of pain relief, even if it may unintentionally hasten the death of the patient, is ethical and legal. Equally the withdrawal or withholding of futile treatment in favour of palliative care is ethical and legal.We believe that crossing the line to intentionally assist a person to die would fundamentally weaken the doctor-patient relationship which is based on trust and respect.We are especially concerned with protecting vulnerable people who can feel they have become a burden to others, and we are committed to supporting those who find their own life situations a heavy burden.Doctors are not necessary in the regulation or practice of assisted suicide. They are included only to provide a cloak of medical legitimacy. Leave doctors to focus on saving lives and providing real care to the dying.TO SIGN THIS LETTTER, GO TO http://doctorssayno.nz/ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11558573