TIMELINES 9/25/14

Rockefeller heirs announce plans to divest from use of fossil fuels

In a highly-visible symbolic gesture in support of alternative fuel sources and in opposition to climate damage, heirs to the iconic Rockefeller oil fortune announced plans this Monday to begin divestment of $900 million in assets from the fossil fuel industry.

According to a release by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which is the largest charitable organization overseen by the Rockefeller family, the announcement is the beginning of a two-step process by which the family hopes to rid itself of financial dependence on fossil fuels for the first time in its 140 year history.

The plan will involve reduced investments in fossil fuels to less than one percent of the Fund’s portfolio by the end of 2014. Further plans to limit fossil fuel investments will continue throughout the next few years. The Rockefellers’ announcement is part of the backdrop of much bigger climate change discussions earlier in the week. A United Nations climate summit on Tuesday was conferred to allow world leaders to discuss planning and action on the matter.

The summit was greeted with protests by both environmental critics and climate change skeptics, including a 300,000 person rally in New York City on Sunday, the largest rally in favor of climate change action ever held.

Navy prepares to re-tool four uniforms for sailors

The U.S. Navy is set to approve modifications and replacements for old uniform designs in an effort to further modernize the nation’s Naval personnel.

The Navy plans to adapt warm-up suits from the Marines and cold-weather parkas from the Coast Guard for use by Navy personnel. Uniforms for female chiefs and officers will be modified to more closely resemble men’s “choker” uniforms in an ongoing effort to reduce distinctions between uniforms of the two sexes.

In addition, one of two new lighter, more breathable field uniforms for sailors will be selected once feedback from field tests in tropical climates has been evaluated. Changes to the uniforms are expected to appear as early as next fall. Limited use is expected among individual Naval personnel until larger uniform roll-outs occur.

Afghan soldiers found after going missing from Massachusetts military base

Three Afghan soldiers who had visited Massachusetts for joint military training were found at the U.S.-Canada border on Monday after they were reported missing on Saturday.

The three soldiers, Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Captain Noorullah Aminyar, were quartered at Joint Base Cape Cod for the duration of Exercise Regional Cooperation, an international military event held annually for military personnel from six nations. After being reported missing by base personnel, they were sighted at a Hyannis shopping mall on Saturday before they were identified and taken into custody at the Rainbow Bridge Canadian Border Crossing near Niagra Falls in New York.

Military officials stated the three men were not perceived to be a threat to the public. About a dozen more Afghan soldiers are accounted for at Joint Base Cape Cod, where exercises are continuing as scheduled.

This is the second such incident of Afghan security personnel disappearing while visiting the United States. Earlier this month, two Afghan police officers disappeared while training with the DEA in the Washington D.C. area. According to the Agency, the men wandered away from a sightseeing excursion because they did not want to return to Afghanistan.

General Motors recalls recent Cadillac and Impala models over break defect

General Motors had to navigate another PR storm this week when it was forced to recall Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala models over a defect in the vehicles’ parking brake.

Acording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, parking brakes on model 2013-2015 Cadillacs and 2014-2015 Impalas remain active even when the indicator light is deactivated. Running the car with the brake on could overheat the cars’ rear brakes and cause car fires.

Though 221,558 cars have been recalled due to the defect worldwide, GM stressed the malfunction is not believed to have caused any injuries.

GM is already under investigaton for ignition switch defects which resulted in 15 million recalled vehicles and have been linked to 19 deaths. When asked why his agency failed to detect the problem for more than a decade, NHTSA head David Friedman accused GM of withholding critical information in the case at a Congressional hearing last week.

White House security polices under review after two breaches within 24 hours

After two trespassing incidents on White House grounds over the weekend, the U.S. Secret Service announced it will ramp up existing security and review its procedures.

The Secret Service stated it was considering changes to policy which include more security barriers around the White House perimeter and screening of visitors up to a block away from the White House’s gates. Extra officers have already been added on all shifts working on the North Lawn.

The renewed scrutiny came after an incident on Friday evening when Omar Gonzalez was arrested after jumping the White House fence, sprinting past security and entering an unlocked front entrance. Gonzalez, a homeless veteran who was struggling with PTSD, was found to have a small folding knife on his person. President Barack Obama and his daughters had left the grounds ten minutes before the incident and were in no danger.

Another unrelated incident, which was characterized by the Secret Service as an “everyday occurrence,” occurred on Saturday when a man drove his vehicle to a vehicle gate and refused to leave.

Former boxing champ Mike Tyson rescues crashed motorcyclist

Former world heayweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who was once feared as one of the most powerful punchers on the planet, took the unexpected role of the good Samaritan this weekend after he witnessed a bad motorcycle accident and rushed to assist the victim.

According to motorcyclist Ryan Chelsey, he was riding into Las Vegas on a freeway when a cab cut him off and sent him flying from his bike. Luckily for him, a passing Tyson stopped his car, halted traffic and kept Chelsey calm while paramedics were en route. Photographs obtained by TMZ confirmed the incident, showing both the accident scene and a smiling Tyson by the roadway after the rescue.

Chelsey suffered broken bones, muscle, ligament and nerve damage and will require shoulder surgery. He expressed gratitude for Tyson’s assistance and stated he would send him a fruit basket with a thank you note.

As Obama pushes for nuclear disarmament, U.S. revitalizes existing arsenal

Though President Barack Obama has indicated in the past that he intends to reduce America’s nuclear weapon stockpiles, nuclear arms might be modernized more than they are dismantled, according to a new federal study.

The study found efforts to upgrade existing nuclear weapons could cost up to $1.1 trillion over the next three decades. The plans will employ 40,000 personnel at eight major plants and laboratories, some of which date back to the early years of the Cold War and are in bad need of structural renovations or replacements.

According to the Obama Administration, the updates are meant to make a small part of the current arsenal flexible and reliable enough to permit larger disarmament efforts. However, it is also likely larger geopolitical flare-ups such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine have made larger efforts politically impossible.

NASA’s Maven spacecraft arrives at Mars

NASA’s Maven spacecraft entered Mars’ atmosphere on Sunday in the latest success in an ongoing effort to study Earth’s closest neighboring planet.

After altitude and instrument adjustments, the Maven is expected to begin collecting atmospheric data which might offer clues about why Mars lost its water and carbon dioxide. The Maven is also expected to encounter and gather data on a newly-discovered comet, though the comet’s passage is not expected to damage the satellite itself.

The Maven, which was launched from Cape Canaveral in November, is the 10th U.S. mission to the red planet, the 21st of NASA’s attempts to reach Mars and the fourth satellite successfully launched into the planet’s orbit. Unlike previous Mars rovers, which have explored the planet’s surface and beamed back incredible images of Martian geography, Maven is meant only to remain in orbit while examining the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, on the surface of the planet, the Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity remain active. NASA hopes to place human explorers on Mars by the 2030s.

East Ramapo activists bring grievances to fiscal monitor

Activists for students in the East Ramapo Central School District met with their school district’s newly appointed fiscal monitor last week, expressing their concerns during a two-hour session with the man charged with evaluating the school’s troubled fiscal status.

Hank Greenberg, who was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in June of this year, met with the students to discuss cuts to school programs which are widely seen as detrimental and the product of a school board which is out of touch with those who are most in need. Greenberg has been discussing the matter with parents and students from both public and private schools.

Though Greenberg has not made any public comment on the proceedings, he intends to make recommendations to state education officials and lawmakers. The recommendations could be ready as early as the end of 2014.

Cuomo appointed Greenberg after years of perceived inaction by the state and mounting concerns over the school district’s handling of its finances. East Ramapo’s school board-which is largely composed of Orthodox Jewish men who send their children to private schools-has been criticized by public school parents and students for undercutting public programs and entering sweetheart deals to benefit the religious community.

Spring Valley man charged with arson for apartment fire

A Spring Valley man has been arrested and charged for setting fire to his apartment complex at 2 Dutch Lane, displacing four families.

According to police, Marcos Trujillo, 39, set the fire on the fourth floor of the complex due to undisclosed “personal issues.” Other tenants were able to keep the flames under control with a fire hose at the complex before volunteers with the Spring Valley and Nanuet Fire Departments arrived to bring the fire under control. No injuries were reported.

In addition, fire personnel found the complex had four to five apartments with illegal bedrooms, including one where Trujillo started the fire. Spring Valley Fire Inspector Ray Guarnuccio stated the property’s owner would be cited for illegally converting a living room into a bedroom and for not having smoke detectors.

The blaze caused fire and water damage to one apartment and water damage to three others, forcing out about 25 people. The Red Cross reported only one family required assistance after they were forced from their home.


Pennsylvania police continue search for survivalist who killed cop

Pennsylvania police are in the second week of their search for a survivalist who fired on two cops on September 12, wounding one and killing another.

Police have been expanding their manhunt for Eric Frein, a self-taught survivalist and sharpshooter who ambushed two police officers outside the Blooming Grove police barracks, wounding Trooper Alex Douglass and killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson. According to police, Frein is believed to have planned the attack and his escape months or possibly years in advance.

Since the shooting, police have been combing the surrounding areas and have found Frein’s jeep, an AK-47 rifle and ammunition. Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens stated Frein might have covered 15 to 20 miles, but added on September 22 that he believed police are close to finding the shooter.

Police have narrrowed the search to Monroe County, specifically the northern section close to the border with Pike County. They are working off a theory that he remains in a wooded area close to his neighborhood, where he is highly familiar with the terrain.


Massive California wildfire continues to burn

Firefighters are continuing to combat a large blaze which has already destroyed dozens of buildings and threatens thousands more in Northern California.

2,000 firefighters were added to emergency response efforts on Tuesday, bringing the total up too 7,400 personnel working against the 140 square mile blaze, which investigators believed was ignited by an arsonist in El Dorado County. Though about 35 percent of the fire has been contained, winds up to 35 mph and continued dry conditions have led to concerns that its spread might accelerate.

12 homes and 57 outbuildings have already been destroyed by the fire and about 21,000 more structures are at risk. About 2,700 people are under evacuation orders and dense smoke advisories have been issued for areas as far as Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada.


Clarkstown rated as one of top 10 places to live

A recent list put out by Money Magazine ranked Clarkstown as one of the top ten places to live in the United States, placing the town in a much higher spot than previous years. Clarkstown placed seventh, just below Columbia and Ellicott City, Maryland and just above Ames Iowa. Only cities between 50,000 and 300,000 residents are ranked.

The list, which ranks towns based on an array of criteria including cost of living, employment and income increases, housing affordability, quality of education and health services and other measures, is conducted every two years using data from OnBoard Informatics.

Over the years, Clarkstown has dramatically improved its ranking. The town was ranked 35 on the Money list in 2012, 41 in 2010 and 71 in 2008.