Timelines: July 12, 2018

Decapitated Animals Connected to Caribbean Religion

The recently discovered decapitated animals found in Pomona are believed to have been part of a Santeria ritual, professed experts told the Journal News this week.

Santeria is “a pantheistic religion with West African roots that migrated to the Caribbean via the slave trade,” where it combined with Roman Catholicism. According to retired NYPD Detective Marcos Quinones, animal sacrifice plays a major part in this religion, although some adherents strongly deny this.

Twenty-five decapitated animal carcasses were found on June 23. While Santeria is not outlawed, some of the practices are not protected from legal consequences. Human Society President Ann Marie Gaudio claimed the discovery was difficult and emotional, the animals showed signed of struggle, and she will continue to think about the incident throughout her career. The Human Society is still asking for tips to solve the crime.

Democratic Upset Candidate Questioned by Conservatives

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who two weeks ago won the Democratic Party primary against a longtime U.S. rep in a district covering parts of the Bronx and Queens, recently edited her bio after questions came up about where she grew up.

Ocasio-Cortez, 26, ran on a platform very similar to former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Her campaign also focused on a “Bronx girl” narrative, but Ocasio-Cortez’s bio was questioned by conservatives after her win because it stated she attended public school 40 minutes north in Westchester at Yorktown. The wording on her bio has changed to reflect the fact that Ocasio-Cortez attended school in Yorktown but spent time with her family in the Bronx.

Haverstraw Practices TNR on Feral Cat Population

The Town of Haverstraw has taken major steps to combat the village’s feral cat population. The town worked with Community Cats Initiative to run a Trap Neuter Release, or TNR, program in June.

In mid-June, TARA, The Animal Rights Alliance, arrived in Haverstraw for a low cost spay-neuter day. Almost 20 residents signed up for $20 spay/neuter procedure and vaccination. The town covered the cost of the feral cats.

CCI and members from Hi Tor Animal Care Center helped trap 60 cats, including 23 kittens that were taken to the shelter for adoption. CCI is working with Haverstraw residents to control the feral cat population as these cats for the most part cannot be adopted and most do not support euthanizing healthy cats.

New York Wants Banks to Work With Medical Marijuana Industry

New York’s financial regulator is encouraging state banks and credit unions to work with media marijuana and industrial hemp businesses because the state will not impose any regulatory actions against banks partnering with this industry. On July 3 the State Department of Financial Services released a guidance to financial institutions. The medical marijuana industry is cash driven because banks have been worried about working with those businesses since marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government.

Trump Ends Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The Trump Administration is overturning Obama era affirmative action policies in schools where universities have to consider race as a factor in diversifying campuses. The administration will change admissions policies to be race-blind. The Justice and Education Departments announced seven Obama policy guidelines for affirmative action are rescinded.

“The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue,” Education Secretary Betsy Devos wrote in a letter. “Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law,” she continued. Democrats and civil rights organizations are upset with the administration’s decision. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California called this decision, “yet another clear Trump administration attack on communities of color.”

Pruitt Resigns from EPA

On Thursday July 5 Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid scandal and ethics controversies. President Donald Trump tweeted out about Pruitt’s resignation, commenting, “Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.” Pruitt’s resignation comes amid multiple ethics scandals in the EPA including an investigation regarding staffers alter or remove controversial events from his calendar. Lawmakers from both parties, environmental groups and government watchdogs have been raising questions for months about Pruitt’s spending, housing arrangements, security team and raises for appointees.

Nyack to Ban Private Businesses from Public Parks

Nyack’s Memorial Park is a hot spot this summer after the new splash pad was installed. Last week busloads of campers, not from the village, were brought to the park. This caused the mayor and village trustees to consider amending the village code, to prohibit operating private businesses in village parks. Three buses labeled as Yeshiva Viznitz arrived with day-camp girls who took over the park. The village has yet to identify who the campers were as the Kaser-based Yeshiva Viznitz rents its buses to other day camps as well. The town wants to make sure everyone can use the parks, and wants to prevent large groups from preventing others from enjoying the amenities.

Ethiopia and Eritrea Declare End of War

On Monday July 10, Ethiopia and Eritrea, former sworn enemies, signed an agreement to end the war between the two nations. Eritrea’s Prime Minister Yemane Meskel tweeted about this new era of peace and friendship between the two. “Both countries will work to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and security areas,” his tweet continued. A brutal border war was fought from 1998 to 2000, and more than 70,000 people were killed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the first Ethiopian leader to step foot in Eritrea during this millennium. He took office in April, and wanted the governments to solve “years of misunderstanding.” Pope Francis descripted this advancement as, “light of hope for these two countries in the Horn of Africa and for the African continent.”

East Ramapo Superintendent to Receive Raise if Budget Passes

If East Ramapo School District voters pass the current budget plan, Superintendent Deborah Wortham will be receiving a raise. In a July 3 resolution the school board amended her contract, extending it through to June 30, 2021 and provide her with a 1 percent raise every July. Since she became superintendent, voters have rejected two proposed school budgets.

This year’s proposal has been rejected twice at the polls. The school board claims it doesn’t want to give raises while simultaneously making cuts. Since the budget plan was rejected twice by voters, the board had to cut $4 million in spending, some of which came from assistant layoffs. A Journal News/lohud review of 54 superintendent contracts in the Lower Hudson Valley for 2017-18 found none linked a superintendent’s raise to the passage of the district budget.

Thai Boys Rescued from Cave

All 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a cave in Thailand after almost three weeks of being trapped. The group went into the cave on June 23 to celebrate a birthday when heavy rain cut off their escape route. Rescuers initially did not know where to search for them when none of the boys came home. A few days later authorities found evidence that the group went into the cave, but no one knew if they were alive.

The Thai Navy SEALS were brought in to explore the cave but due to difficult conditions brought in international cave diving experts, continued heavy rains suspended the search as water filled the cave. 10 days after the boys went in, British divers round them alive. The boys were taught how to dive to escape parts of the cave still filled with water. The first four boys were brought to safety on July 8, the second group of 4 made it out on the 9th and on July 10, the final four boys and their coach made it out safely.