Cuomo vetoes veterans’ pension bill
Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill on Friday which would have allowed veterans to buy back up to three years’ worth of service credit in the state retirement system.
The legislation would have expanded the program to all veterans rather than just those who served in specific conflicts. According to Cuomo, the legislation, which passed almost unanimously in the State Legislature, would function as an unfunded mandate for localities and burden them with $57 million in additions to already onerous pension and retirement costs.
“If enacted, this bill would run rough-shod over systematic reforms carefully negotiated with the Legislature to avoid saddling local property taxpayers with additional, unmanageable burdens,” Cuomo stated.
The bill was largely supported by veterans’ groups and unions but opposed by municipalities which still feel pressure from rising retirement costs.
Spring Valley woman arrested for shoplifting over $1,000 in clothing
A Spring Valley woman was arrested on Saturday for trying to swipe over $1,000 worth of merchandise from the Palisades mall.
Navidad Giron, 40, was arrested at Lord & Taylor at about 3 p.m. According to police, loss prevention personnel observed Giron taking clothing valued at a total of $1058.49 from the store.
Giron was charged with fourth degree grand larceny and fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property, both felonies. She was released on an appearance ticket and is expected to return to court on December 8.
Stephen Baldwin reaches plea agreement in suspended license case
Actor and Rockland County resident Stephen Baldwin pled guilty on October 31 to driving without a license after successfully getting the misdemeanor charge downgraded to a $500 infraction and successfully preserving his oft discussed back tax settlement.
Baldwin was pulled over in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Manhattan on May 2 with expired Texas registration. Though Baldwin’s license had been suspended due to his tax case, he claimed he did not know it was invalid.
The decision came a few months after Baldwin ended his repayment of $400,000 in state tax debt owed from 2008 to 2010. Baldwin agreed to that deal in exchange for staying out of prison.
If he was convicted of a misdemeanor, that deal might have been revoked.
Federal appeals court examines NSA surveillance
A federal appeals court on November 4 considered both sides in the argument over NSA surveillance of data, but appeared uncertain of its ultimate decision on the matter.
The case, which hinges on the constitutionality of the NSA’s collection of telephone metadata-phone records without call data-from phone companies, was heard in an hour-and-a-half long meeting where attorneys representing privacy advocates and the intelligence organization were grilled on their positions. The NSA, represented by Justice Department attorney H. Thomas Byron, has maintained that the metadata does not contain call content and is thus an allowable exercise of government oversight.
The plaintiffs, who are represented and joined by attorney Larry Klayman, have argued the mere collection of metadata is an invasion of privacy. According to Klayman, himself a Verizon customer who might have been subject to surveillance, the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have already had a chilling effect by impacting professional relationships with clients.
Klayman has already seen some success, arguing and winning his case before a U.S. District Judge Richard Leon prior to the Justice Department’s appeal.
Suicide bomber kills 48 students in Nigeria
A suicide bomber struck the Nigerian city of Potiskum on Monday, killing 48 high school students in an apparent attack by Islamist militants with the terror group Boko Haram.
Witnesses stated the bomber hid the explosives in a rucksack and detonated them at a 7:30 a.m. assembly of about 2,000 students. Among the 48 dead were children and young adults who ranged from 11 to 20 years old. About 79 individuals were brought to a nearby hospital to be treated for injuries.
The attack is the most recent instance of religiously-motivated violence in the region, where Boko Haram has deliberately targeted secular and Christian schools. Last week, the suicide bombing of a Shia Muslim religious procession in Potiskum killed 30 people. Continued violence has forced Yobo state governor Ibrahim Gaidam to close all public schools in the region.
The continued prevalence of violence runs contrary to claims by the Nigerian government that a ceasefire had been negotiated with Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on schools and abductions, including the widely-publicized kidnappings of 276 schoolgirls in April. The terror group insists no ceasefire is in place.
Stony Point woman hospitalized after car crash in Airmont
A Stony Point woman, 21, was hospitalized on Saturday after she crashed her car into a utility pole on Route 59.
The accident occurred shortly before 4:48 a.m., when an off-duty State Police officer reported the woman had become trapped in her Kia Sorrento after it had collided with and severed the pole. She remained conscious and alert as she received medical attention from first responders and was extracted by Tallman Fire Department volunteers.
After her removal from the car, the woman was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for further treatment. Ramapo Police are investigating the crash but have not filed charges at this time.
Gay marriage cleared in South Carolina, blocked in Kansas
In an eventful week for the same-sex marriage debate, appeals by opponents of gay marriage in four states met with success while another state court ruled against an existing state ban.
A divided Sixth District U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled on Thursday that the bans were legal in the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court did not rule on the question of gay marriage itself but on its implementation by states and argued the question was not within the purview of the U.S. constitution and was hence a matter for the states rather than federal courts.
The ruling, which will likely force the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the question of gay marriage after years spent avoiding the issue, was also cited in a request for a temporary block on same sex marriages by gay marriage opponents in Kansas. There, a separate U.S. District court ruling overturned laws against another state ban, but Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted opponents’ request for a stay on Monday.
At the same time, same-sex marriage supporters netted a victory in South Carolina on Wednesday, where a U.S. District judge ruled the state’s ban on the practice unconstitutional. A temporary stay on the issuance of marriage licenses until November 20 was also put into effect.
Clarkstown PD save another life with anti-overdose drug
Clarkstown PD successfully used the anti-overdose drug naloxone-commonly known as Narcan-to revive a woman who had overdosed on a powerful prescription medication on Wednnesday.
Police were called to the victim’s home on Inverness Drive, where they found her non-responsive and in severe respiratory distress after she applied a doctor-prescribed Fentanyl patch for a recent back injury. Fentanyl is a prescription opiate many times more powerful than morphine or heroin.
One of the responding officers was certified in the administration of naloxone and used two doses to revive the patient and restore normal breathing before emergency medical personnel with RPS Paramedics and the New City Volunteer Ambulance Corps brought her to the hospital for further treatment.
This is the second incident in three weeks when naloxone was used to save an individual’s life. On October 30, a man in Nyack was revived by Orangetown Police after a near-fatal overdose.
Upstate sheriff’s deputy resigns after slapping, threatening two men on video
A Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputy resigned this week and faces criminal charges after a video showing him verbally threatening and physically attacking two young men went viral online.
The video, which was posted online last week, shows former Deputy Shawn R. Glans threatening physical violence to Colin A. Fitch and Adam M. Roberts and audibly slapping Fitch in the head just off camera after asking for his car keys. Glans had noticed a rifle in Fitch’s parked car and wanted to conduct a search, but Fitch refused to give consent, prompting the officer’s outburst.
According to Glans, he was responding to a suspicious vehicle report and handled the incident in the manner that he did because he felt it was unsafe and did not know he was being recorded.
Since the video was posted online, it surged in popularity on YouTube and prompted an investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. Since it became aware of the incident, the Sheriff’s Office suspended Glans without pay and Glans announced his resignation from his position.
Fitch and Roberts have announced plans to sue Glans for a violation of civil liberties.
Autopsy report: Robin Williams was not intoxicated at time of death
An autopsy report released on Friday by the Marin County Sheriff’s Department revealed that late comedian Robin Williams had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he hung himself in August.
The report concluded his death was due to asphyxia related to hanging with a belt and that the only drugs in his system were prescription medications in doctor-prescribed doses. Williams was also found to have superficial cuts on his wrists which seemed to have been made with a pocket knife, but those wounds appeared to be non-fatal.
Williams, who died in his bedroom on August 11 at his Northern California home, had struggled with depression for years and was diagnosed Parkinson’s disease shortly before his death. He also had a history of substance abuse, but had been clean for some time prior to his suicide.
China suspected of hacking U.S. Postal Service computers
China is suspected of breaching the the U.S. Postal Service’s online security in an intrusion which might have compromised the information of more than 800,000 employees, virtually all of the Service.
The intrusion occurred in mid-September, when the crime was discovered. Though Postal Service officials declined to state who they believed to be at fault, it is known the hacker who attempted the breach was relatively sophisticated and seemingly uninterested in identity theft or credit card fraud. Instead, personal information such as names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers and employment information were accessed.
At the same time, it is believed by some that China is a suspect. The Chinese might assume that as a public entity which handles a trove of personal information on U.S. citizens, the USPS might be ripe for non-aggressive intelligence-gathering operations.
Window washers rescued after dangling from One World Trade Center
Two window washers were safely returned to solid ground on Wednesday after a harrowing 90 minutes trapped on a malfunctioned scaffold at One World Trade Center.
The incident began at about 12:45 p.m. when Juan Lopez and Juan Lizama discovered their lift was not working properly while raised to the 68th floor of the building, tipping steeply to one side. At the same time, the two were tethered to the building and were never in immediate danger of falling from the height.
Rescuers managed to maintain contact with the men and rescued them after breaking a nearby window at about 2:15 p.m. Neither appeared to have been injured.
Mexico explodes into riots as students protest disappearances
Students and teachers rioted in Mexico on Monday after flippant commentary from the nation’s attorney general sparked rage amid continued frustration over the disappearance of 43 young people.
Following weeks of protests over the disappearance of the 43 teaching students and anger over alleged collusion between police and drug gangs in the case, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced a set of trash bags had been found which might contain the charred remains of the missing students. At the end of the press conference, he declined to take further questions, saying, “Enough, I’m tired.”
The phrase became a rallying cry for activists frustrated with continued political corruption and drug-related violence. On Monday, they exploded in anger, clashing with riot police, smashing windows and setting fire inside a state capitol building in the state of Guerrero.
The bone fragments recovered by police are currently undergoing testing in Austria. Police have also arrested 26 members of local law enforcement in Guerrero who are thought to have kidnapped the students from a bus and handed them off to a local drug gang.