March 14, 2013

New England Dispatches

From news service reports

BOSTON

Officials seize equipment of unlicensed radio stations

Federal officials say they have seized the transmission equipment of an unlicensed radio station in Brockton that was interfering with air traffic communications in the Boston area.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Boston announced Tuesday that the equipment was seized from a Brockton home on March 1 after several verbal and written warnings to stop were ignored.

The station, playing largely Haitian music, was called a "pirate station" because it used a frequency without a license from the Federal Communications Commission.

Officials said the station interfered with a frequency used by pilots to communicate with FAA controllers when flying in the Boston area, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

There have been no arrests because authorities are still trying to figure out who is responsible for the station's operation. 

Cab companies challenge smartphone-based service

The operators of one of Boston's largest taxi companies have sued the developer of a smartphone app that allows users to request a cab or livery service, saying it is essentially an unlicensed car service.

A lawyer for Boston Cab Dispatch Inc. and EJT Management, which combined have about 500 taxi licenses under the Boston Cab brand, says the Uber Technologies Inc. app ignores virtually all rules in place for cab companies.

The suit asserts that the private cars available through Uber are allowed to choose among their customers and destinations, unlike cabbies, prohibited from refusing to take fares based on age, disability, and location.

Uber had no comment on the lawsuit, but a manager tells The Boston Globe the company operates legally in Massachusetts. 

Ruling on restraint order clarifies abuse law's scope

Massachusetts' highest court says that substantive dating relationships developed and maintained using instant messaging, Skype, emails and other electronic communications are subject to the state's domestic abuse laws.

The Supreme Judicial Court made the broader ruling Wednesday even as it overturned a restraining order against a British man who was 24 when he developed a relationship with a 16-year-old Massachusetts girl after she visited London in 2011.

The girl's father had gotten the restraining order against the man but the court found that he was not a threat to the girl.

But the court also said Massachusetts courts can determine whether a couple is in a substantive dating relationship by considering the nature, frequency and length of their communications and if either one has ended the relationship. 

Ruling prevents total ban on pot treatment centers

Attorney General Martha Coakley has ruled that Massachusetts towns cannot issue total bans on medical marijuana treatment centers within their communities.

But Coakley also ruled on Wednesday that towns can adopt zoning bylaws that would regulate the treatment centers and possibly limit where they could be located.

Massachusetts voters in November approved the use of medicinal marijuana. The law allows for up to 35 marijuana dispensaries around the state.

The attorney general struck down a bylaw approved by the town of Wakefield that called for an outright ban on dispensaries.

But Coakley signed off on a bylaw passed in Burlington that imposed a temporary moratorium on the treatment centers until the town completes a further study of zoning issues.

The attorney general's office must approve all town bylaws, but does not have oversight of city ordinances.

CONCORD, N.H.

Speed limit raised to 70 on stretch of Interstate 93

Drivers would be able to go 70 miles per hour on a stretch of Interstate 93 north of Concord, N.H., under a bill headed to the Senate.

The House voted 292-65 Wednesday to raise the limit from 65 mph to 70 mph from Exit 18 to the Vermont border. The current speed limit would remain the same through Franconia Notch.

(Continued on page 2)

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