New law blocking business deals with Iranian energy industry
Recently passed was the Iran Divestment Act of 2012 out of the New York State Senate. The bill (S.5917A) will bar entities that invest in Iran’s energy industry from receiving state contracts here in New York. The bill would also require local government contractors to certify that they are not investing in the Iranian energy sector in order to receive local government contracts. Furthermore, the bill requires individuals or entities to certify they are not on the list when they submit bids to state and local agencies. Individuals or companies on the list that are the sole source of certain commodities or services can renew or enter into contracts on a case-by-case basis. “This legislation will allow New Yorkers to speak with their wallets and say that we will not tolerate the extremist actions by the Iranian regime,” said New York Senator David Carlucci who recently voted for the bill. “Through the power of the purse, we can starve this hostile regime which abuses its own citizens and threatens the United States and its allies in the Middle East.” In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the federal Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, which allows state and local governments to divest assets and prohibit the investment of state or local assets in certain companies that either invests or provide credit to the Iranian energy sector. The divestment would apply to companies engaged in oil or natural gas development in Iran, as well any company found to be directly involved in nuclear power.
Police nab Nanuet gunman
Back on New Year’s Day, police were dispatched to an apparent hostage situation in Nanuet. When police arrived, the gunman, who had been apparently trying to rob partygoers, had fled. Last week, police arrested Duvar Ayers, 30, from the Bronx at a Ramada Inn. This was the result of a joint investigation between Clarkstown, Yonkers and the New York City police department. Police are still looking for a second gunman. Just after 6:40 a.m. on January 1, police surrounded the Nanuet home. Police say they received a 911 call at approximately 6:40 a.m. stating there was a man armed with a handgun that had broken into 3 Albacon Road and stolen cell phones from several party guests. Police rushed to the scene and surrounded the home for hours, but the gunman had apparently left before the police arrived and the only person inside the home, the homeowner, was unresponsive to officers. Police eventually entered the home, only to find the owner passed out, unharmed. Now, Ayers will be charged with felony counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree assault and second-degree kidnapping.
Rash of hate crimes against Jewish people in the area
In neighboring Bergen County, New Jersey, vandalism of synagogues as well as the firebombing of a rabbi’s house have Rockland authorities uneasy. They have been in contact with the Bergen County task force which was formed to investigate the crimes. Some members of Rockland’s Jewish communities are frightened. Police are reminding people to be extra vigilant and to call 911 if they see anything. This coincides with a recent Anti-Semitic crime spree in Manhattan. David Haddad of Manhattan was arrested for making Anti-Semitic calls to his mother and other women. Police also surmise it was he who drew swastikas all over a heavily Orthodox Jewish area in Brooklyn. Haddad was raised Jewish but is not practicing. Haddad is charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime for the Manhattan crimes but police are still gathering evidence for the Brooklyn crimes.
Shipwreck leaves vacationers injured, missing and dead
The death toll continues to rise as bodies are pulled from the wreckage of the luxury cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian coast. On Tuesday, a disturbing audio clip surfaced of the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, making excuses to the Italian coast guard as the repeatedly told him to oversee the ship’s evacuation. He is under arrest at this time. Twenty-five passengers are listed as missing, including a couple from the United States. The Costa Cordia, which was carrying over 4,200 people, veered off course and hit a reef just off the Tuscan island of Giglio last Friday. Schettino abandoned the ship long before the evacuation was complete, which will likely get him at least a 12-year jail sentence in addition to man slaughter charges he is facing. As authorities continue to search for survivors, a Dutch shipwreck salvage firm will spend the next month extracting 500,000 gallons of fuel from the ship, as the wreckage site is a maritime sanctuary for dolphins and whales.
Rise in Coyote sightings in Northern Rockland County
There have been increased sightings of coyotes in North Rockland area. Though the animals are small, timid, and not a huge threat to humans, many authorities have been taking precautions in these sightings such as the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Haverstraw and Stony Point Police Departments, and the North Rockland School District. Coyotes have been most recently seen gallivanting on North Rockland fields and roaming through Marian Shrine in Stony Point. The precautions came from coyote attacks that happened in past years including the slaying of a dog, the injuries of a six and three-year-old, and the attack on an adult man. Coyotes will generally eat anything they can find including garbage, compost, plants, fruits, vegetables, and other small animals. Authorities advise residents to feed and keep pets inside, put away bird feeders, and tightly secure garbage. These actions will likely made coyotes uncomfortable in the area and push them back into their natural habitats. Residents are also advised to contact the police if they see or feel threatened by a coyote.
Websites blackout in protest of SOPA and PIPA
To protest SOPA, Wikipedia blacked out its English version of the site yesterday at noon, and it will return at noon today. The blackout is to protest the proposed legislation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). It is the belief of many in the country that this law will severely impact free speech as well as threaten the entire structure of the Internet. It would also set a bad precedent for other countries who may be looking to pass similar legislation. The law specifically states that any website that links to, or hosts copyrighted material can be blocked, and criminal action can be taken against them. Political figures such as Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, have voiced their concern over the new bill. Websites also joining in on the blackout are Reddit, Mozilla, the Cheezburger Network, MineCraft, WordPress, MoveO.org, and many more.
Buyout to amend damages for Suffern residents
Suffern villagers hope to apply for a federal buyout program that would transfer properties damaged by tropical storm Irene to municipalities. The areas that the village anticipates for the buyout include houses on Lonergan Drive in the Squire’s Gate development as well as homes on Memorial Drive. A meeting was held at the Village Hall on Tuesday providing information to residents about the intentions of the buyout and tax relief options to anyone affected by the flood. The issue of devalued property by the tropical storm and property taxes were also discussed at the meeting. Residents whose property was devalued by 50 percent and up have the option of applying for reduced or refunded property tax for 2011. If successful, the villagers will receive 75 percent of the appraised value of their homes and will have to pay for the rest. Though the program will relieve the six to 12 residents that are expected to apply for a buyout, the process is expected to take at least six months to pass because of the competitive nature. Many residents in other counties affected by Irene are expected to apply as well, including residents in Orange, Broome, and Ulster. To provide emotional support to storm victims, representatives from Project Hope through the Mental Health Association of Rockland were in attendance.
Incident between Rockland Psych patients ends in death
52-year-old Curtis Wilson has been charged with beating a fellow patient of the Rockland County Psychiatric Center to death on Monday around 5:30 pm. The incident occurred on the grounds of the facility. Wilson continually beat the unidentified man with a piece of metal in the head, causing blunt force trauma. The severely injured victim was later pronounced dead at Nyack Hospital. It is unknown what caused the attack, but both men were outpatients at the psychiatric center, which currently houses 450 patients. Wilson, who was taken to the Haverstraw police headquarters, was charged with the felony of second-degree murder. He is being held without bail in the Rockland County Jail.
Major cuts expected for East Ramapo school district
East Ramapo School District is expected to make some major layoffs and budget cuts next school year. The cuts are being implemented to comply with New York States 2012 two percent tax-levy cap. Superintendent Joel Klein has expressed the district’s tight budget and the efforts in preserving the basic education program. District officials face the challenge of coming up with a long–term budget and battling the issue of overspending. The Board of Education for Ramapo voted on many budget transfers. The transfers, which mostly involve staff salaries, totaled around $7.8 million and were made between June and December. Although they were made earlier, the board did not approve them as quickly as they should have. The district will determine the full budget as soon as state and government funding is applied for the 2012-2013 school year. Programs and staff salaries will be directly impacted by these cuts.
Big Trucks banned from 35-year-old West Haverstraw Bridge
Rockland Highway Superintendent Charles “Skip” Vezzetti has made the decision to reduce the weight limit of the Samsondale Avenue Bridge in West Haverstraw. The weight limit, originally 40 tons, has been reduced to 15 tons. The bridge is not in danger of collapsing but an inspection of the bridge by the Department of Transportation revealed exposed reinforced steel on one of the concrete columns. Because of this, the bridge was red flagged on December 14th and the span was given a 4.75 rating in a scale of 1 to 9. The 35-year-old bridge has undergone much use and is already scheduled for repair in 2013.