Timelines — 10/25

Van in New Square Jumps Curb, Injures Children

A van traveling through the Village of New Square jumped a curb early Monday evening, and injured five children as they were walking on the sidewalk. According to authorities there were no fatalities. The injured children were transported by ambulance to area hospitals for treatment.

In addition, the van also struck an electrical transformer bringing down power lines, which left 450 homes without power. The driver of the van was uninjured.


Feds Arrest Suspected Terrorist

Federal agents arrested a Bangladeshi man last Wednesday for allegedly attempting to detonate a 1,000-pound explosive device outside of the Federal Reserve building in New York City. The FBI was tracking the man, 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, and undercover agents had supplied him with a fake bomb. After the explosive failed to detonate, agents arrested Nafis.

Nafis legally entered the country in January 2012 using a student visa. However according to the criminal complaint filed against him, Nafis’ real goal was to recruit members for Al Qaeda and carry out an attack. Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn last week, and is being held without bail.


Controversial Delegate for Peace Conference Selected

The founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam al-Marayati’s selection by the Obama administration to be part of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe forum, that took place in Poland earlier this month, has sparked outcry from conservative groups.

Al-Marayati has a history of public outreach iniatives with the U.S. government towards the domestic Muslim population. But comments critical of Israel following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have made him a controversial figure in conservative circles.

On the day of the attacks, in a radio interview in Los Angeles al-Marayati said that Israel should be added to the list of suspects responsible for the attacks. Those comments earned al-Marayati the label of “radical” from the private sector counter-terrorism organization “The Investigative Project on Terrorism.”

Al-Marayati denies that he is anti-Israel, but is critical of how the U.S. and Israel cooperate. With regards to Israel al-Marayati says that he supports a two state solution. His speech at the conference focused on the subject of freedom of religion.


Conservative Filmmaker Finds Trouble

Last week, in the wake of scandal involving an extramarital affair, conservative filmmaker and commentator, Dinesh D’Souza has resigned from his position as president of The King’s College, an evangelical college in New York.

The college accepted D’Souza’s resignation, acknowledging that he needed time to attend to his person and family needs. D’Souza is the controversial figure responsible for the wildly panned documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” as well as the 2010 book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.”


Gay Marriage Appeal Denied

The Court of Appeals refused to hear an appeal against New York’s gay marriage law on October 23.

An evangelical group known as New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms attempted to get the law allowing gay marriage repealed. A lower court had already denied their request for appeal in July. Reverend Jason McGuire is the executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and says his group will now focus on a case of two women who were denied the right to wed by owners of Liberty Ridge Farm, near Albany.

A number of people were pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss the appeal. Governor Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and spokeswoman for the Empire State Pride Agenda Erica Pelletreau made statements in support of the present gay marriage law.


More Controversial Remarks by GOP

The Republican Party must once again defend controversial statements made regarding rape, this time by an Indiana Senate candidate.

Richard Mourdock said in a debate Tuesday, when asked about his position on abortion in cases of incest or rape, that rape is “something that God intended.” Mourdock defended his statement, saying God did not intend for the violent crime to have happened, but the pregnancy that resulted from it. He apologized for the way it came across.

Several Republican leaders chose to separate themselves from this statement, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Despite stating he does not agree with him, Romney is still featured in one of Mourdock’s campaign ads. Senator John Cornyn, who cut ties with Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin after his comments about “legitimate rape,” came to Mourdock’s defense and continues to support his campaign.


Ramapo Residents Split Over New Square Land Annex Plan

A public hearing was held on October 17 to discuss the possibility of a land annex by the village of New Square. If the plan is approved, 6.87 acres of land that is now zoned for single-family housing will instead be used to create multifamily residences.

The annexation requires majority votes from both the village and town boards. Those applying for the annexation – Favish Langsam of Monsey, En Dee Realty Corp., the Congregation Zemach David of New Square, Ateres Yosef Inc., and Bush Extension LLC – wish to accommodate the Hasidic population in the village who would prefer multifamily homes.

Residents expressed concern over traffic, public safety, sewer and water infrastructures, and the East Ramapo school district, which is struggling financially. Those opposed to the New Square plan have brought up environmental concerns, including the need for fresh water. Creating homes that would allow for more people would only increase the need for a cleaner water supply. The impact of the annex on taxes must also be taken into account.

Some are approving and defending the plan, saying it will bring positive change. There is an unnamed road on the land that is in need of repair, which would be taken care of by those taking control of the property. This would be of great help to those requiring access to the home for disabled adults, located at the end of the road. Also, there are plans in place to ease traffic troubles, such as a right-hand turning lane at the entrance to Route 45.

Board members will make sure their decision is in the best interest of the people when they take their vote. Written comments on the proposal may be made through October 29, and the boards have 90 days to review the plan.


West Nyack Revitalization Plan Totals $15 Million

The proposed West Nyack Revitalization plan totals $15 million dollars. Presented at Tuesday’s town board workshop, board members questioned the amount, which would go towards multiple projects, including street and park improvements, and flood prevention.

Residents do not want to settle for less than the amount proposed, arguing that other hamlets have received generous amounts to improve their areas and it is time for West Nyack’s problems to be addressed.

Some of the money would be put toward improvements of streets and park facilities. New sidewalks, lighting, crosswalks, curbs, benches, and trees would be installed, as well as expanded parking areas. As for parks, the hamlet would introduce a new playground, picnic spot, walking trail, and kiosk.

Money will also be allocated to drainage improvements. West Nyack Road would be raised six to 12 inches, and two detention basins will be installed. This would help decrease the likelihood of flooding in the area. It was suggested that the proposal be reviewed, and it will be discussed again at a future town board meeting.


Rye Man Enters Guilty Plea to Burglary and Sex Acts With Dog

A former superintendent of a building in Rye pleads guilty to two charges, one for burglary and one for sexual misconduct. Kujtim Nicaj, 43, of Rye is accused of breaking into an apartment and engaging in sexual acts with the owner’s 15-month old Labrador retriever.

Nicaj worked at the Rye Colony Cooperative Apartments, and on February 8, 2012, entered one of the apartments without permission. His abuse of the Lab was caught on a device similar to a “nanny cam” and the Rye City police were notified of the incident. The defendant’s behavior was taken as a potential indicator of future violence towards humans and was remanded after pleading guilty. Sentencing will occur on January 15, 2013. Nicaj must register as a sex offender and faces up to 15 years in state prison.


Strange But True: Smoking Shown to Lower Risk of Skin Cancer

Research in the U.S. has proved that those who have ever smoked a cigarette are less likely to be diagnosed with melanoma. The group used in the study consisted of 145, 709 people, both men and women. It was shown that current smokers have an even lower risk of skin cancer than those who smoked in the past but quit.

However, this trend was only seen in men. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, women smokers do not experience the same health benefits as men.

Two possible explanations were found as to why smoking reduces the chance of melanoma of the head and neck in men. The first is that smoking protects melanocytes from the inflammation UV radiation causes. The second is that it down-regulates gene expression of a pathway that enhances growth of melanoma cells.

Although cigarettes do provide certain benefits, such as lowering the risk of skin cancer, it is still recognized that they cause many other negative health conditions.