The Colombian Coast Guard seized 956 kilos of highly pure cocaine valued at about $ 30 million, after intercepting a boat in Caribbean waters, in which four men were traveling with the drug, reported the Colombian Navy on September 11. The boat, Pez Caribe, was intercepted at four nautical miles to the east of the Colombian island of San Andrés, after a chase in which the crewmembers tried to escape and threw some packages of the alkaloid (cocaine) into the sea. The Coast Guard counted on the support of a Navy patrol plane, according to a statement from the Force. The four crew members, along with the cocaine and boat, were handed over to the authorities of San Andrés. By Dialogo September 13, 2012
Interview with Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, Chief of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Staff Shootings between gangs and drug trafficking vendettas in Trinidad and Tobago, home to the most joyous carnival in the Caribbean, forced the government to declare a state of emergency during the summer of 2011. Still, from that unfortunate event came about an unprecedented link between the country’s Police and Defense Forces, both of which worked together to put an end to a crisis that was draining the island nation. A year-and-a-half after the emergency in Trinidad, is the Military still collaborating with the Police to avoid another episode like the one in 2011? During an interview granted to Diálogo during the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), in December 2012, Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, Chief of Defense of Trinidad and Tobago, answered these and other questions about regional cooperation in the security realm. Diálogo: Last year, during CANSEC 2012 in St. Kitts and Nevis, we had the opportunity to speak to you about the security and defense challenges faced by Trinidad and Tobago. What’s new in the security and defense panorama of your country? Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj: What was significant over the last year was the change in the leadership of the Ministry of National Security, and the new minister, the Honorable Jack Warner, brought some new perspectives to the national security landscape in terms of his leadership style and his priorities. We have had to engage some additional rules and responsibilities to further our support to agencies within Trinidad. The new minister has placed to a higher level the importance of social interventions. So, in support of the Police, we have been engaged over the last few months in treating with some of the social issues and some of the high risk communities in Trinidad and Tobago, more so in Trinidad, with our targeted efforts on the youth. It has been interesting to actually have a new engagement that speaks to one aspect of crime prevention. Diálogo: During the state of emergency in Trinidad, in 2011, the Defence and the Police Forces worked together. Have you continued with that model of cooperation? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: I must admit to you, without having to be politically incorrect, that the relationship between the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Defence Force is an excellent one. There is really an open forum for discussions on any issue as opposed to 10 years ago when there was a clash of cultures in the way the Military did business versus the way the Police did business. We understand each other better now than we did previously, which makes for a more amicable relationship not just at the executive level, but at the ground level. There is a greater level of comfort working side by side in joint patrols, mobile patrols or foot patrols. Diálogo: How do you manage to work together without overstepping your boundaries? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: We had to craft very robust rules of engagement coming out from the experience of the state of emergency we had between August and December last year [in 2011]. My legal officer at the Defence Force has been very engaged in crafting rules of engagement and ensuring that there is a level of accountability and transparency in the way in which business is done by the Defence Force in support of the Police. And I want to extend that to include our involvement in social programs, since working with civilians requires a different type of engagement. Notwithstanding the fact that we have put more resources into social programs, the Defence Force has done well maintaining the security posture in the air and maritime environments, so our border security is not compromised in terms of allocation of resources, understanding the nature of the national security environment today and our commitments to the region as well. It is not just about Trinidad & Tobago. Thankfully we are now utilizing all of our air assets; the four Augusta-Westland 139 helicopters that were recently acquired are now all operational. They do maritime surveillance, search and rescue… The land force continues to be engaged within borders and all the other efforts that I already outlined. And our Coast Guard continues to grow. Our Coast Guard is in the process of acquiring long-range patrol vessels and is doing extensive repairs to our interceptors. We are now in the process of acquiring new engines and acquiring long-range patrol vessels so that we can provide support in the region, as well as that deterrence in our exclusive economic zone and in our littoral waters in general. Diálogo: Are you working with other countries in the Caribbean to create that common shield to protect each other against transnational organized crime and other threats? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: While we are a small island-state in general, there are some islands that are smaller than others, and they have limited resources. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the strong economies, and therefore we have greater capabilities. So far collaboration is about getting the best bang for the buck, in regards to the available resources. Trinidad and Tobago has had to take the lead there so our coastal surveillance has been extended up to Saint Lucia. We have radar coverage in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and what is already installed in Trinidad and Tobago. Generally speaking, the CARICOM member states relate very well. It is just that we have a challenge with respect to resource availability. While Trinidad appreciates the assistance it gets from international partners, as well as from regional neighbors and partners, we do have to understand and appreciate the levels of capabilities that exist within the region, and provide the type of assistance that will ensure that generally speaking, the shield that we seek to establish in the region is on the basis of mutual support, and who has the resources to help in that regard. Diálogo: How would you say is the relationship between the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force and the United States Military? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: We have many years of a strong friendship with the United States, with Canada, and the United Kingdom, with international partners. Over the 50 years of our independence that relationship has only strengthened, we have crafted many mechanisms for corporation. During the 2007 Cricket World Cup, which I tend to describe as a precipitating event, a number of legislative instruments were crafted to strengthen regional collaboration and to extend far beyond the regional collaboration between the CARICOM region, and with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, just to name three international partners. I don’t want to remove France and other countries from that discussion because they are all partners, as far as Australia, South Africa… they are all very strong security partners of ours and we intend to continue to move from strength to strength in that regard. Diálogo: During one of your interventions at CANSEC 2013 you mentioned the importance of looking at the model created for the security of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 that took place in venues over several Caribbean countries. Can you please elaborate on that? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: I will preach the gospel of the Cricket World Cup of 2007 until I die. The legacy that came out of the Cricket World Cup, not all of those benefits remain today. At the end of the event those pieces of legislation were shelved. I do hope that sometime in the future we review those pieces of legislation because that is what constituted the success story of the Cricket World Cup of 2007. It was a willingness of the region to come up with some common agreements on how we treat regional security. So, that precipitating event that the Cricket World Cup 2007 was, mobilized regional, unified regional support. I would really like to see the spirit of that commitment return to the table. It must not necessarily be restricted to only an event, it must become part of the landscape, part of a thought that defines who we are in the context of the region. If we need to re-craft legislation to support or strengthen cooperation and collaboration, then so be it. If we have to draft new memorandums of understanding, no problem. So the residual effects of that success story live with me, and will continue to live with me until I die, as a citizen of the region, more so than a citizen of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Diálogo: How do you see the spirit of collaboration among the countries participating at CANSEC? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: As Mr. Francis Forbes [interim Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS] said during the conference, there are idiosyncrasies that reside within the region, but that does not mean that we don’t have the conditions to continue the mutually respectful engagement. Those conditions are there, and the region does have a history of cooperation, so we rely on our very friendly partners, we are communicating to ensure that we can convert that into the success that we can achieve on any issue of regional importance. By Dialogo January 16, 2013
FARC and ELN land mines In 1994, land mines killed or injured a person every 20 minutes in the world. Today, land mines kill or injure 10 people every day, Paul Heslop, the program director of the UN Mine Action Service, said during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on April 3. “The battle against mines is being won,” Heslop said. “However, we must continue working to completely eradicate these weapons.” Colombia and other Latin American countries are not alone in facing threats from land mines. More than 65 million land mines threaten the lives of people in 56 countries around the world, José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) said during the Global Conference on Assisting Landmine Victims in Medellin, Colombia on April 4. The OAS has developed demining activities in Central America, a region where after 19 years of work, the eradication of these devices has been completed, Insulza said. “The task of removing thousands of mines in Central America seemed impossible in 1991. The completion of demining operations in Nicaragua was the pinnacle of our efforts,” Insulza said. “ In 2010, we could declare Central America as a landmine-free territory. This means that it can be done.” The Colombian government has been moving forward with all actions to ensure rights are respected in affected communities, promoting humanitarian demining, comprehensive victim assistance, and mine risk education, the director of the Presidential Program of Comprehensive Action against Anti-personnel Mines, Daniel Ávila Camacho told reporters on April 5. People in rural areas of Colombia have been disproportionately killed and injured by land mines placed by terrorist and criminal groups. “We have suffered this scourge for decades with devastating effects on the population, especially the sometimes invisible rural population, where women are the most affected,” Colombia’s newly appointed representative to the United Nations, Maria Emma Mejía, said at the UN on April 4 during the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. In the 1980s, the FARC and the ELN drastically increased their use of land mines. These groups used land mines to terrorize the civilian population. Between 2007 and 2013, Colombian security forces destroyed more than 19,600 domestically-manufactured, according to Lt. Col José Reinel Herrán Villalba, director of the National Humanitarian Demining Center Against IEDs and Mines (CENAM) of the National Army of Colombia. The CENAM director reported the destruction of the mines while participating in an April 3 panel discussion, “Keeping the Momentum of Mine Action” at UN Headquarters. In 2012, the Armed Forces of Colombia reported that two municipalities, San Carlos, Antioquia, and El Dorado, Meta, were mine-free, “which demonstrates the effectiveness of national capacity efforts,” Herrán Villalba said. Peru’s demining efforts Peru’s security forces are striving to remove all land mines from the country by March 2017. The Army of Peru has disabled more than 7,500 so far. Of that number, 6,500 mines were deactivated during the administration of President Ollanta Humala, who was elected in 2011, according to Ahora. A land mine costs three dollars (USD), while disabling a land mine costs the country about $1,000 (USD). About 15,000 land mines remain in Peru, Carlos Manuel Gil Montes Molinari the director of security and defense of the General Directorate for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, told Ahora on March 28. On the border between Chile and Argentina, there are about 10,000 mines, Mendoza Mora said. Chile is also working to eradicate land mines. In 2013, the National Demining Commission and the Ministry of Education launched a campaign to inform the public about explosive devices and how to prevent land mine injuries. In Magallanes, there are about 57,000 anti-tank mines, a cluster munition contaminated area, and an unknown number of unexploded military ordinances, the director of the civil organization Centro Zona Minada, Elir Rojas, told Diario UChile in October 2013. In May, 2011, there were 363,000 land mines throughout the country, according to the National Demining Commission of Chile. Authorities have destroyed at about 192,000 of those mines. The governments of Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina are working hard to remove dangerous land mines. The devices – many were deployed by terrorist and organized crime groups — have killed or injured thousands of people in those countries. Security forces in those countries have destroyed more than 200,000 land mines in recent years. The governments of Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina “are on track” with demining activities, said Carlos Mendoza Mora, director of Strategic Projects Consulting, a private security firm in Mexico City. Colombia has the world’s second highest number of land mines, second only to Afghanistan. From 1990 to 2014, explosive devices in Colombia wounded or killed an estimated 10,657 people, according to the website Accion (Actions Against Mines). About 80 percent of the victims were killed, and about 20 percent were wounded. The victims included more than 6,300 military personnel and more than 4,100 civilians. Land mines are a global problem By Dialogo May 30, 2014 Protecting civilians The high cost of locating and disabling land mines is a challenge for national governments. Because land mines are spread out over large geographic areas, it often takes longer to locate and dismantle them than originally projected, Mendoza Mora said. In addition to destroying land mines, Latin American governments should remain vigilant about educating the civilian population about areas which are dangerous because they contain land mines The Armed Forces of the countries which are engaged in demining efforts are working hard to protect the civilian population, the security analyst said. “The Armed Forces are working for safety in everyday civil society. All soldiers are putting their integrity and life on the line in order to achieve the objectives,” Mendoza Mora said. “Society should recognize the military’s efforts.”
By Dialogo October 28, 2015 Uruguayan Military officials recently taught 30 journalists and social communication students how to prepare for dangerous situations they might encounter while covering overseas peacekeeping missions. “Journalists in Mission Areas,” a program conducted by the National Peace Operations Institute of Uruguay (ENOPU, for its Spanish acronym), included representatives from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and was held in Montevideo and Lavalleja from September 14-17. The journalists – among them reporters, editors, and news camera operators – also learned what Troops experience while serving in overseas peacekeeping missions. “I consider the inclusion of media professionals in the work of the United Nations of particular importance so that they can see the work that the UN does and can draw their own conclusions from personal experience, which is, without a doubt, a crucial way to mold opinions,” said Colonel Carlos Frachelle, ENOPU’s director. “The main goal around which this course is structured is to make sure that civilians are as prepared as military personnel are when it comes to matters of peacekeeping missions.” The course was last offered in 2011, Col. Frachelle said, adding military officials “decided the time was ripe to offer it again. There is still much left to do when it comes to protecting the security and the lives of professionals who are so valuable to society.” A comprehensive training program The four-day program covered a wide range of topics on what Uruguayan soldiers experience on peacekeeping missions, including the deployment of troops on demining operations; security practices and preventative health measures; and the type of equipment Soldiers use in the field. It culminated with a 36-hour field exercise in Military Camp No. 6, Abra de Castellanos, where journalists, students, and instructors stayed overnight. In compliance with the ENOPU’s requirements, the course included practical training for participants at the camp’s Armory and Mechanical Training Center. Instructors taught journalists and students the best ways to respond to chemical attacks, how to conduct evacuations, and how to use night vision goggles and protective gear. “The permanent use of one’s protective helmet and bulletproof vest also facilitated the immersion of participants into an operation-like environment, since such equipment is required on a daily basis during peacekeeping missions,” Gerardo Carrasco wrote in an article for the newspaper Montevideo Portal . “Those who participate in them must learn to have them on at all times, as if they were a second layer of skin.” The Air Force taught some of the journalists the proper way to board a Military helicopter, before taking them on a ride. “We journalists were afforded the opportunity to face the challenges that those on peacekeeping missions encounter on a small scale,” Carrasco wrote. “We also took note of the numerous details that those on such missions have to make sure they notice since they could make the difference between life and death. An example of this could be knowing how to board a helicopter or armored vehicle in the safest and fastest way possible.” The program is well-known among military officials and journalists throughout Uruguay. Historically, “Uruguayan reporters have been invited to travel alongside the Military and to stay on the mission’s military bases, offering journalists the opportunity to access places and settings which would have otherwise been extremely difficult for them to have visited,” Carrasco wrote. “It gives credibility to the freedom with which we chroniclers work in the field wherever there are Uruguayan Military contingents,” he continued. “It is a testament in support of our work. In fact, the only limits that the Army has put on journalists are those relating to security concerns in conflict zones. They want to avoid having any reporter become a martyr for their profession due to the pure lack of knowledge of the risks that might exist in mission areas.” Uruguay’s history of participating in peacekeeping missions Training troops and journalists for their respective roles in overseas peacekeeping missions is important for a country that is active in such operations, as the country has been sending soldiers to serve as peacekeepers in regional conflicts since the late 1920s – well before the UN was founded in 1945. Uruguay, with a population of about 3.4 million, is considered the world’s leading provider of peace forces per capita, and 90 percent of the service members in the Uruguayan Armed Forces have or will participate in a foreign mission. The country became more active in peacekeeping operations in 1982, when it deployed a contingent of National Army drivers to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Multinational Force and Observers, which was established as part of the Camp David Accords between Egypt, Israel, and the United States. In 1998, Military authorities created the Army’s National Peace Operations School (EOPE), which eventually became the ENOPU, and includes all three branches of the Armed Forces. As of January 31st, there were 1,459 military and police personnel working in UN peacekeeping missions around the world, including the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) –even though the Uruguayan contingent was reduced in January 2015–, the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), and the UN Operation in the Ivory Coast (UNOCI), according to the UN report “Troop and Police Contributors.”
Lawmakers rewrite workers’ comp legislation April 30, 2003 Daniel Staesser Assistant Editor Regular News Lawmakers rewrite workers’ comp legislation Assistant EditorWhen Bar Workers’ Compensation Chair Martin Leibowitz and immediate past Chair Rafael Gonzalez walked into the House Administration Committee on April 14, they along with other interested parties got a shock.House staffers were pulling from boxes and distributing a just-rewritten 377-page workers’ compensation bill, radically revamping a bill that had been approved only a few days earlier by the House Insurance Committee.The new bill, HB 1837, they said, is decidedly more unfriendly to injured workers and the lawyers who represent them. It passed after only brief testimony and limited debate among committee members.The next day, they went to a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meeting and watched as a largely revamped bill was introduced, and 23 amendments proposed. The Senate bill, SB 1132, however, turned out more worker- and lawyer-friendly, they said.And that’s the way it has been for them during this session as special commissions have reported and various committees have held hearings and drafted bills, only to have changes proposed with little or no notice, as at the House Administration Committee.“It’s changing almost by the hour,” said Gonzalez, who has been following developments closely since last summer. Added Leibowitz, “It’s a moving target.”It hasn’t been easy for legislators either. “In the nicest possible way, what redeeming qualities would this bill have to help injured workers?” asked Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, at the Senate meeting after reviewing benefit cuts, particularly for permanent total disability.“We have essentially taken a system where we encourage people to stay out of work, where we encourage people not to get better, because the only way they can get benefits is if they stay on permanent total disability,” said Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac.“I equate workers’ comp with a rubber tube, that over the years everybody has been messing with it, putting little patches over it to fix problems, and now we have just a big gusher that doesn’t make any sense to anybody,” he added.While the issue was in flux as this Bar News went to press, Leibowitz and Gonzalez reported on trends they have seen emerging in the bills:• Cutting fees for attorneys representing injured workers. Proposals include cutting the current percentages attorneys get on recoveries, and either limiting hourly compensation or eliminating it entirely. One amendment to the Senate bill, however, raised the maximum hourly payment to $5,000 in medical benefit disputes, and as much as $20,000 if the carrier tries to deny coverage. It also raised the percentage on benefits won that would be paid in attorneys’ fees. The House has no hourly rates. Gonzalez and Leibowitz said that would make it impossible for lawyers to take many, if not most, small cases because they might only earn $150 to $200 for 15, 20, or more hours of work.• Establishing a peer review panel of out-of-state licensed physicians to handle the medical review process, a system likened to what some call “Fair Care.” While lawmakers say that would be a way to resolve medical disputes without trial, Gonzalez and Leibowitz said that it would be expensive to involve out-of-state doctors and create a system with different procedures for handling different parts of a case. They also said that Minnesota tried a similar system with in-state peer review panels in the late 1980s that proved expensive and unworkable.• Enhancing some benefits for temporarily injured workers, while at the same time limiting benefits for those permanently totally disabled (PTD). The House and Senate both discussed cutting off PTD benefits between the ages of 65 and 75. Annual cost-of-living increases could be cut.• The Senate proposed dropping rates by 15 percent, while the House had no rollback provision.• Creation of a new appellate division, where appeals from judges of compensation claims go to a workers’ compensation appellate tribunal, appointed by the governor, before they would go to a district court of appeal. Instead of having all appeals going to the First DCA, the House would split them among the five DCAs.Leibowitz said that lawyers who want to follow the daily changes on the issue may visit the Workers’ Compensation Section Web site at www.flworkerscomp.org. Also on the site is a list of the section’s authorized positions, which include supporting legislation aimed at ensuring the right of the injured workers to have their cases reviewed, while opposing that which would restrict or restructure attorneys’ fees.Gonzalez said the section is working on a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills and the recommendations from a blue ribbon task force appointed by the governor.Against a backdrop of budget problems and medical malpractice issues, Leibowitz said the issue is unlikely to be resolved during the regular session, and will be taken up in special session.
Proposed Probate Rules amendments March 1, 2005 Regular News Proposed Probate Rules amendments The Florida Bar’s Probate Rules Committee has filed with the Florida Supreme Court its regular-cycle report of proposed amendments to the Florida Probate Rules. The committee proposes amendments to rules 5.040 (Notice); 5.041 (Service of Pleadings and Papers); 5.042 (Time); 5.240 (Notice of Administration); 5.241 (Notice to Creditors); 5.270 (Revocation of Probate); 5.345 (Accountings Other Than Personal Representatives’ Final Accountings); 5.346 (Fiduciary Accounting); 5.360 (Elective Share); 5.400 (Distribution and Discharge); 5.404 (Notice of Taking Possession of Protected Homestead); 5.475 (Ancillary Administration, Short Form); 5.496 (Form and Manner of Objecting to Claim); 5.530 (Summary Administration); and 5.620 (Inventory). The committee also proposes new rules 5.402 (Notice of Lien on Protected Homestead); 5.403 (Proceedings to Determine Amount of Lien on Protected Homestead); 5.498 (Personal Representatives’ Proof of Claim); 5.499 (Form and Manner of Objecting to Personal Representatives’ Proof of Claim); and 5.625 (Notice of Completion of Guardian Education Requirements). The court invites all interested persons to comment on the committee’s proposed amendments, which are summarized below. The proposals also are reproduced in full online at www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/proposed.shtml. An original and nine paper copies of all comments must be filed with the court on or before April 1, with a certificate of service verifying that a copy has been served on the committee chair, Tami Foley Conetta, Florida Rules of Probate Committee, Post Office Box 49017, Sarasota 34230-6017, as well as a separate request for oral argument if the person filing the comment wishes to participate in oral argument, which may be scheduled in this case for June. The chair has until April 15 to file a response to any comments filed with the court. Electronic copies of all comments and the chair’s response also must be filed in accordance with the court’s Administrative Order In Re: Mandatory Submission of Electronic Copies of Documents, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC04-84 (Sept. 13, 2004). Label envelope to avoid erasure. IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA PROBATE RULES (TWO YEAR CYCLE), CASE NO. SC05-147
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A man and a woman were charged with burglary Friday after it was discovered that they allegedly forged lease documents and lived in a vacant Uniondale house illegally, Nassau County police said.The discovery came when the 53-year-old owner of the vacant Barry Place home arrived and found the pair—Dwayne Williams of Hempstead and Pamela Council of North Carolina, both 40 years old—living there, police said.Investigators discovered that the pair had allegedly forged the lease documents and moved into the house without the owner’s permission, police said. Police also noted that a lock box was removed from the front door and the locks were changed.They were arrested just before 10 a.m., police said.Both Williams and Council were charged with burglary. Williams was also charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument. Council is also facing forgery charges.The pair will be arraigned Saturday at First District Court in Hempstead.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County Police investigate a shooting in East Garden City Wednesday near the Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall. (Long Island Press/Timothy Bolger)Nassau County Police confirmed Wednesday morning that two people had been shot by an unknown assailant about a mile south of the Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall.The shooting took place around 10:10 a.m. at a commercial building located at 645 South Street in East Garden City, according to police.Authorities describe the potential shooter as Asian, between 6 and 6-foot-2, wearing a red shirt and possibly a brown jacket. He fled the scene in a white SUV, possibly a Honda Pilot, say police, toward the shopping mall.Police and news helicopters circled the area Wednesday morning and several police vehicles were parked on Ring Road.Mall workers and the shopping center’s Facebook page confirmed it was in lockdown.A briefing by Nassau police is expected shortly.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Fire Island National Seashore visitors who missed the sign at Robert Moses Field 5 walked more than a mile to find this sign at the locked entrance of the Fire Island Lighthouse museum.The federal government shutdown closed Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and the Fire Island National Seashore, which some Long Islanders have been frustrated to learn upon arrival at the Island’s two national parks.Visitors had similarly disgusted reactions at both Sagamore Hill, where renovations continue on Theodore Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay home despite the shutdown, and the historic lighthouse built in 1858 just east of Robert Moses State Park. National Parks Service employees that run both facilities have been furloughed under the shutdown.“The fact that this hit us here is ironic because we go to museums and parks almost every day,” said one woman from Washington, D.C. and Oak Beach who declined to give her name after groaning with anger when she arrived Saturday at the lighthouse with her daughter to find it closed. “I hope they get themselves together and fix this fast.”Republican leaders in the House of Representatives shut down the government Tuesday, the day the Affordable Care Act went into effect, when the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leaders rebuffed the GOP’s demands that Congress defund the law known as Obamacare.Aside from leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work and effecting countless Americans who rely on agencies deemed nonessential aside from federal courts, investigators and military, the shutdown also closed the Elizabeth Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyac and the Historic William Floyd Estate Grounds in Mastic, which is run by the Fire Island National Seashore, same as the FI lighthouse, Sailor’s Haven beach and Watch Hill beach.“It’s unfortunate, what’s going on in Washington shouldn’t affect everyone’s daily life, it’s terrible,” said Walter Pawliw, a salesman who walks his dog at Sagamore Hill once a week. “This is one of the few parks that allow me to walk my dog. This is his favorite spot.”Lori Arnel, an Oyster Bay resident who also came to the house of the 26th president—who greatly expanded the national parks system—to walk her dog on Friday, found the often lively park deserted. She halted at the Do Not Enter sign and barricade blocking the entrance.“My first reaction when I saw that it is closed is that I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I live right around the corner so it never really hit me that they would shut this down.”Others, such as Ed Mulle, a director from South Nassau Communities Hospital, just went around the barricade. “I usually come here to bicycle from up and down the hill and although the park is closed I can still bicycle up and down the hill so it really doesn’t affect me personally,” Mulle said, adding: “I think politically this is a mess.”The shut down did not effect previously contracted renovations at the lighthouse, where scaffolding was recently removed, and Sagamore Hill that is in the middle of renovations, which had closed much of the home to public tours until 2015.“Although the government shut down this park I’m still doing work here because I work for a contractor, I’m not too affected,” Mike McLaughlin, a Cooper Power & Lighting construction worker said while on his break. “I’m disappointed because people come here to walk dogs; it messes up the daily routine.While most went on about their day, some tried to predict how long this shutdown would last.“As much as you would like to think it will be over soon, my gut feeling is that it will be awhile before this park opens again,” said Arnel, the dog walker. Pawliw, the salesman, predicted it would last at least another week, saying: “The presidential camp and the House of Representatives seem to be weakening, so hopefully it will only be for about another two weeks.”