TIMELINES 5/29/14

Nanuet man steals bread truck only to give out bread
David Bastar, 29 of Nanuet, was accused of a bizarre act of theft-and charity-after he stole a loaded bread truck and merely gave away its contents on May 21. Bastar hopped into the truck at 95th Street and Second Avenue while it was still running. He then proceeded to distribute almost all of the $8,000 worth of bread in the truck to locations which were not on the delivery route. The bakery later sent another truck out to the intended customers. Port Authority Police finally arrested the suspect after he began tailing a limousine on its way to pick up clients at LaGuardia Airport. According to the limousine’s driver, Bastar was pulled out of the truck in nothing but his briefs. Bastar was sent to Elmhurst Hospital for a mental health evaluation after the incident. He was released on his own recognizance, but stands accused of criminal possession of stolen goods and driving without a license.

Crash in Orangetown seriously injures New Jersey man
A head-on crash on Route 303 between Blauvelt and Orangeburg left the driver of one vehicle seriously injured and closed the roadfor several hours on May 20 while first responders rescued the driver and cleared wreckage. The accident occurred just south of Bradley Parkway when a pickup truck driven by Joseph Guarasci, 52, of Pearl River, struck a Nissan Altima driven by Albert Diana, 76, of Norwood, New Jersey. Police stated they believe the pickup crossed the double yellow line in the road before crashing, going off-road, and striking a utility pole. Police added the crash caused extensive damage to the Altima and it took a good amount of time for first responders to free Diana from the wreckage. Diana was later taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla for treatment of serious injuries. Guarasci was also treated for less severe injuries at Nyack Hospital. Police are still requesting any witnesses of the crash to come forward by calling 845-359-3700.

Rockland rabbi and four others indicted for kidnapping, torture
A Rockland rabbi and four others were indicted by a Federal grand jury on May 22 for charges stemming from a plot to kidnap and torture Orthodox Jewish men into granting their wives religious divorces. Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 56, who runs Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, was indicted along with Mendel Epstein, 68, of Lakewood, New Jersey, Jay “Yaakov” Goldstein, 60, of Brooklyn and Binyamin Stiller, 30, also of Brooklyn. Four others have also pled guilty on related charges. The men were identified after an undercover FBI investigation revealed at least 20 alleged deals where they would kidnap and torture Orthodox Jewish men with beatings and cattle prods, obtaining their promises to divorce their wives in exchange for monetary payments. The wives would pay tens of thousands of dollars for a “get,” a Jewish divorce approval granted by a husband.

Renowned writer and poet Maya Angelou dies at 86
Maya Angelou, a celebrated poet and essayist known for her frank personal writings and portrayals of African American life during the Jim Crow Era, died on May 28 in her North Carolina home. Born Marguerite Annie Johnson in 1928, Angelou was a prolific playwright, poet, actress and novelist who developed a large following for her unique style, which blended gospel rhythms with traditional poetic structure and optimistic themes of overcoming adversity. She is also credited with expanding the definition of autobioraphy, incorporating literary devices of both fiction and nonfiction into her work. Angelou is best known for her work “I Know why the Caged Bird Sings,” which chronicles her childhood with her grandmother in Arkansas and her experiences with segregation. The book has been translated into 17 languages and is now a popular choice for school reading lists. She went on to write another five autobiographical works. As one of the preeminent black female writers in America, Angelou has also received wide recognition from the literary establishment for her work. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and had the opportunity to read a specially written poem at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.

FTC report shows data brokers closely profile Americans’ spending habits
A recently-released Federal Trade Commission report has shed light on techniques used by data brokers and marketing firms to profile consumers based upon billions of data points raked in from the internet. The FTC revealed the data industry uses online habits to quietly assemble profiles of consumers, often without their knowledge. The profiles include information from government records, shopping data, and social media and can also include intimate information such as age, race, income, political and religious affiliations, entertainment preferences, medical conditions and even gun ownership. Consumers are then roughly sorted into broader demographic categories and profiled for marketing according to those determinations. Categories can be as broad as age and geographic confluence or as narrow as particular interests. “The extent of consumer profiling today means that data brokers often know as much-or even more-about us than our family and friends,” FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez said. The data was gathered by the FTC using court-issued subpoenas. Though Ramirez stated no illegal activity was found connected to the profiling, the detailed and largely non-transparent data gathering were troubling and could put consumer data at risk.

Obama argues for new, less-aggressive foreign policy approach
President Barack Obama has outlined what he characterizes as a new approach to foreign policy which balances the need for security with growing American weariness with interventionism. Speaking to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s graduating class of 2014 on May 28, Obama explained “America must always lead on the world stage,” but spoke of the nation’s current role as one of a partner with other nations well, defended a more cautious approach and stated repeated large-scale invasions were “naive and unsustainable.” Still, Obama expressed continued support for aggressive action against terrorist threats abroad. Along these lines, he encouraged Congress to approve a $5 billion Counter-terrorism Partnerships Fund dedicated to building working relationships with allies abroad, particularly South Asia and North Africa. “These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al-Qaeda, supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia, working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya and facilitating French operations in Mali.”