Timelines — 9/20

California Based Text Message Scam Put Out of Business

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement last week with Game Theory LLC, a mobile-content corporation based in San Jose, California.

The settlement comes following an investigation that revealed the company was sending spam text messages to New Yorkers, and then tricking them into signing up for text messaging services.

Game Theory has agreed to reform its business practices and pay $500,000 in penalties for deceptive and fraudulent advertising.

“There is no legitimate purpose for scams that deceive New Yorkers, and we will continue the fight to protect people’s privacy and their hard earned money,” said Schneiderman.

The messages would trick the victims into signing up for monthly text messages from the company at a cost of $9.99 per month. The money would appear on the phone bill at the end each month, making the fraud difficult to detect.


Islamists in Mali Destroy Ancient Shrines

Reports on Tuesday out of Mali are claiming that Islamist rebels have destroyed several prominent Muslim Shrines, including the tomb of Muslim saint Cheik El-Kebir.

Sources in the country say that the Islamist Militant Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are responsible for destroying the saint’s mausoleum.  

In March following an attempted coup, Islamist seized on the ensuing chaos, taking over areas in the north of the country. The Islamist takeover has lead to the destruction of several more sacred Muslim sites in the country, including two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu.


Help For New York State’s Unemployed

Soon long term unemployed New Yorkers will have something to celebrate. On Tuesday Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new program that will distribute $6 million in federal grants to companies in New York State that hire workers who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

In a statement Cuomo said that the grant money will be a “shot in the arm” for New York State.

As part of this initiative, the state will create a Mobile Reemployment Response Team. The team will move between areas of high unemployment to help get long-term unemployed New Yorkers ready to work again.

The team will provide courses in resume writing, interviewing, skills matching, and training opportunity matching. Sessions with the team will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at each location.

The first batch of locations in the New York City and Long Island areas will be announced in early October.


Monsey Toddler Drowned

According to the New York City Chief Medial Examiner’s Office, the death of a 14-month-old Monsey boy has been ruled accidental after the boy drowned in a toilet bowl at a second floor Brooklyn apartment early Tuesday morning.

Police said they did not view the boy’s death as criminal, and the body has been returned to the family for burial.

The boy, Mendi Altman, was taken to Brooklyn’s Maimonides Hospital by his family around 12:40 a.m. Doctors pronounced the boy dead on arrival. An autopsy is not being done.

In the Orthodox Jewish communities, autopsies are contentions subjects, where cutting into the body and potential loss of blood are prohibited under Orthodox Jewish law.


New Building for Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps

Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps volunteers can rest easier now, with a 9,350 square foot, state of the art headquarters on Kings Highway in Congers.

The process of getting this new building has been 10 years in the making. After several setbacks, the corps finally has a new building with modern amenities. They hope the new building will help attract new volunteers.

For many years corps officials complained that their old premises, built nearly 50 years ago, was in desperate need of renovations. The old building could not house the large modern ambulance vehicles that are standard today.

Initially the new building was to be financed through a private loan, but the loan fell through. The Town of Clarkstown then stepped in, declared the building a town project, and bonded $3 million for the cost of the project.

Finally in 2011 construction started, but hit a snag when the first builder, Nicco Construction, filed for bankruptcy in early 2012. Hudson Valley Construction of Orange County completed the job, and the corps moved in on August 29.

The Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps will hold an open house for those living in the district on October 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Nyack Businesses Hurt by New Parking Rules

The Nyack Village Trustees voted on Monday to extend a trial-parking program that allows free parking from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the village for another two months.

The initial run of the pilot program began on May 15 and was set to expire lat Saturday. Now the program will remain in place until at least November 15, so the village can collect more data.

At the meeting village trustees expressed their support for the new program, saying that revenues are up. With this extra money the village can afford to put on an extra public works crew in the morning, which has Main Street looking cleaner. And the “negative activity” caused by the late night bar crowd is down.

However not everyone is celebrating. Local restaurateur Marianne Olive complained to the trustees at their meeting saying that because of the new parking rules her business is suffering.

Olive owns the Main Street bar “Olive’s” and the German restaurant next door, “Sour Kraut.” She says her business at Olive’s is down 30 percent. Olive says she is in the process of forming a group of Nyack restaurant and bar owners so they can formally express their concerns.


Indian Point Lawsuit

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and parent company Entergy are the targets of a new billion dollar lawsuit from an employee that alleges Entergy is trying keep him silent over the plant’s consistent record of security failures.

Clifton “Skip” Travis Jr. has criticized the company’s handling of security issues, and says the plant is very vulnerable to attacks.

Travis says that the plant routinely fails yearly security drills. He even contends that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission canceled this year’s drill because of the certainty that the plant would fail it.

Travis also alleges that Entergy rushed the installation of a new security system in early 2011, but never trained plant security personnel on how to properly operate the system. He also says supervisors compelled workers to falsity training paperwork saying that they had received their training.

According to the lawsuit Travis, who returned from a medical leave of absence in March has not been allowed to return to work. He says this is retaliation for bringing attention to the plant’s security shortcomings.

The lawsuit is seeking $20 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 billion in punitive damages.

Spokesman for Entergy, Jim Streets, dismissed the lawsuit’s accusation saying that Indian Point may actually be the most secure nuclear plant in the nation.

In other news at Indian Point, a study by The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, published a study this week saying that if the power plant were to close residents could expect to pay at least $76 more a year for power. This would be in addition to higher taxes to make up for the lost tax revenue from the plant.

Later this week, Indian Point will also begin the process of moving its spent fuel rods from the storage pool at Unit 3 to long-term storage canisters. The process is expected to take several months and will make room for the new fuel expected to arrive next year for reactor number three.


Rockland Woman Crowned Miss Pakistan

Sloatsburg resident Zanib Naveed entered the Pakistani beauty pageant this summer not expecting to win, but she beat out 11 other competitors and took home the title this year.

Naveed, 25, was born in Lahore Pakistan, but grew up in Sloatsburg. This year’s contest was held in Mississauga Canada and Naveed competed against Pakistani women from all over the world.

A panel of judges asked them tough questions about Pakistani culture, history and social issues. Naveed and the other contestants also learned and performed traditional dances.

Naveed is an aspiring actress, dancer, and model with a degree in finance and economics from Pace University. She says she plans to use her new title by working with women’s rights organizations.


Circumcision Ritual Under Fire in Monsey

Rabbi Moshe David Tendler of Monsey, an internationally respected expert of medical ethics and Jewish law, is asking Rockland officials to discourage a controversial part of the circumcision ritual that involves oral suction of the wound after the circumcision.

Last week, the New York City Board of Health voted to ban the practice without parental consent. Parents still wanting the ritual performed must sign a form acknowledging the health risks and that the New York City Health Department advises against it because of the risks of herpes and other infections.

Tendler is calling on local officials to call together the rabbis in Rockland who advocate oral suction and ask them to tell their followers to stop.

While there are no plans to ban the practice in Rockland, the county is planning to provide education booklets to parents of baby boys, according to Rockland Commissioner of Health Dr. Joan Facelle.

Doctors say the ritual of oral suction puts the baby boys at risk for herpes simplex type 1. In adults it is harmless, but can be deadly to newborns. Since 2004 there have been 11 confirmed cases of herpes simplex in baby boys after circumcisions. Two of those infected died.


New Information Task Force for Rockland

Rockland County will be implanting a new task force this week, whose goal is to improve the flow of information between the different branches of county government.

County legislators feel they are not always in the know when it comes to important issues. Often the first time they see a proposal or a piece of legislation is when they are being asked to vote on it.

The goal is to allow the legislators and county executive Scott Vanderhoef to collaborate towards a solution, not be confrontational.

In May, the county legislature voted to approve the creation of the task force, and it will be meeting for the first this Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Allison-Parris County Office Building.


Florida Professor Suspended After Allegedly Telling Students to Vote for Obama

University officials suspended professor Sharon Sweet of Brevard Community College in Florida without pay after she allegedly asked students to sign a pledge to show up on election day and vote for President Obama.

Administrators at the university learned about the incident last week after a concerned parent tipped them off. Sweet was confronted with the allegations and she requested a leave of absence without pay.

Sweet’s actions may have violated an election law in Florida that says no public employee can use his or her authority to influence the vote of another person.


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