TIMELINES 10/30/14

Monsey infant killed in East Jerusalem terror attack

A three-month old child from Monsey was killed on October 22 in what has been described by Israeli authorities as an attack by a convicted Palestinian terrorist.

Chaya Zissel Braun was at a train station in East Jerusalem with parents Chana and Shmuel Braun when Abdelrahman Shaludi drove a car into the crowd, injuring seven people, including the Braun family. Chana and Shmuel survived the incident, but Chaya died later of her injuries. Shaludi was shot by Israeli police as he fled the scene and later succumbed to his own injuries.

This is the latest in a string of Jewish American in the troubled nation. Most recently, Aharon Sofer, 23 of Lakewood, New Jersey, died while hiking in a Jerusalem forest, but investigators determined there was no foul play involved.

In August 2003, a New Square woman and her infant son were killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. The mother of another victim in the same attach resides in Monsey. Eight years prior, a Bergen County resident was killed in a terror attack on an Israeli bus.

Researchers claim to have found cause of ALS

A team of researchers with Northwestern University claim to have found the cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a degenerative illness also known as Lou Gherig’s Disease.

According to Dr. Teepu Siddique, a failure in in the brain and spinal cord’s cellular recycling systems was found to cause a gradual breakdown in neural function, resulting in degenerative effects on movement, speech and eventually eating and breathing.

Specifically, a key protein known as ubiquilin2 was discovered to repair or destroy other damaged cellular proteins. If the ubiquilin2 does not work and those damaged proteins are left as they are, they pile up and block neural pathways, slowly paralyzing ALS patients.

With the discovery of the protein, Siddique stated effective treatments might be developed to stop or reverse the progression of the disease. About 30,000 Americans currently suffer from the disease, which gained increased media attention in recent months with the much-publicized “Ice Bucket Challenge” to promote donations for research and treatment.

Oklahoma authorities identify six sets of remains in sunken cars

Forensic examiners have identified six sets of remains in two cars which were submerged at the bottom of an Oklahoma lake last year, linking them to a set of disappearances dating back almost half a century ago.

Using DNA tests, authorities were able to identify the remains of John Alva Porter, 69, Cleburn Hammack, 42, and Nora Marie Duncan, 58, inside a 1952 Chevrolet found at the bottom of Foss Lake, which is about 100 miles west of Oklahoma City. In the same lake, a 1969 Chevrolet Camarro was found containing the remains of Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, Leah Gail Johnson, 18 and Thomas Michael Rios, 18. Williams, Johnson and Rios disappeared in 1970.

The deaths, which were ruled to be due to accidental drowning, were unearthed during sonar training exercises conducted by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in September of 2013.

“Honey Boo Boo” cancelled after child sexual abuse allegations

The hit TLC reality series “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” was canceled on Friday after it was revealed the matriarch of the TV family was dating a convicted child molester who one daughter claimed had abused her as well.

The show, which starred June Shannon and her four daughters-including famed child pageant contestant Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson-was cancelled after it was revealed Shannon was dating Mark McDaniel, 53. McDaniel was convicted of aggravated child molestation for which he served 10 years in prison.

In an interview with People Magazine, Shannon’s eldest daughter Anna Marie “Chickadee” Cardwell accused McDaniel of trying to touch her when she was eight years old. According to Cardwell, she was told by Shannon that the relationship with McDaniel had not been renewed, but refused to let her daughter visit until McDaniel was gone.

U.S. Supreme Court to decide on gun ownership rights of felons

An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision could set new rules for the rights of felons to sell and transfer possession of firearms.

The case hinges on the arguments of Tony Henderson, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent from Florida who was convicted of various drug offenses in 2007 and subsequently stripped of his right to own firearms. Henderson turned over 19 weapons to the FBI after his arrest, but later sought to give them to his wife or find an interested buyer.

Two lower courts ruled against Henderson, whose legal counsel John Elwood argued the case will determine whether or not all or only some ownership rights would be terminated by a conviction. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli countered that the case did not need to be heard, given that Henderson could have simply sold the weapons before his conviction.

The case will likely be decided by the end of June 2015.

Man assaults NYPD officers with hatchet, Muslim extremist leanings suspected

A NYC man with a criminal past attacked four NYPD officers with a hatchet on Thursday, injuring two before he was gunned down.

The man, identified as Zale H. Thompson, 32, hid behind a bus shelter as he seemingly stalked the officers. Thompson waited for police to pose for a photo before he pounced and struck one officer in the arm and another in the head. He was subsequently shot and killed by the other two officers.

The officer who was struck in the head was listed as being in serious but stable condition, while the officer who was struck in the arm was released from the hospital on Friday. Another bystander was reportedly shot in the back by stray gunfire, but her condition was unknown.

Before the attack, Thompson had racked up six criminal arrests in California and a discharge from the Navy for misconduct. Social media posts showed he converted to Islam two years prior, after which he reportedly radicalized and frequently railed against whites and Christians.

Police investigators believe Thompson “self-radicalized” and stated there is no evidence the attack was part of a larger scheme.

Cuomo Administration defends track record on transparency

The Cuomo Administration, which once promised more transparency in government affairs, has become known for its alleged secrecy with public disclosures. According to a former state official, this is largely due to a reactionary procedural change instituted after a New York Times expose.

Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests, a hallmark measure of transparency and press freedom, were once routed through individual state agencies. However, Travis Prolux, who served as communications director for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, claimed last week that they began to go through the governor’s legal team after the New York Times used state records to publish an embarrassing piece on the abuse of patients in state care in 2011.

Prolux went on to refer to his office’s FOIL records officer as a “phone operator” who held no power compared to the governor’s close legal subordinates, allowing them to flag any requests which could lead to a potentially damaging release.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi responded by stating that though state agencies frequently confer with the governor’s staff, they are still responsible for processing the requests.

Spring Valley fire displaces 21 tenants, safety violations under investigation

A fire at a two-family home which housed 21 people was deemed uninhabitable after a fire damaged the building and revealed illegal overcrowding.

The fire, which was reported at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night, was largely contained to a third-floor attic. However, water and smoke damage rendered the building uninhabitable, forcing the residents to seek Red Cross-provided accommodations in a nearby hotel. No injuries were reported.

Though nobody was living in the attic, Spring Valley Building Inspector Walter Booker announced he would investigate the situation to determine if the building was an illegal boarding house. According to Booker, the building’s owner, Simon Zarour, could face a violation charge for such an infraction.

Transportation Safety Chairman: Accidents could have been avoided

The Chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board stated on Tuesday that six recent train accidents on Metro-North tracks could have been avoided by routine adherence to NTSB safety procedures.

According to Christopher Hart, a newly-released report by federal investigators showed Metro-North had eschewed safety procedures which led to six deaths and 126 injuries. The conclusion came after over a year of studies initiated after the derailment of a train in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Other examined cases include the death of MTA track workers in West Haven, Connecticut and Manhattan and the derailment of two trains in the Bronx, including one in Spuyten Duyvil which killed four passengers. Many of the accidents were due to neglect of maintenance duties and errors on the part of both conductors and rail traffic controllers.

Even before the report was released, the MTA’s public image has suffered from accusations of ignoring safety for the sake of expediency. In response, the Authority has taken steps to assure both regulators and riders which include the installation of speed limit signs and increased track inspections.

Nyack College trespasser identified

A previously unidentified trespasser who was caught on tape wandering the hallways of Nyack College has been identified as a former County resident.

Jamel Dean, 38, of the Bronx, was a resident of the county before he moved to his current residence in the Bronx. While in Rockland, he was caught on camera entering unlocked rooms in several of the campus’ buildings, though he did not appear to have stolen anything or committed any criminal acts.

Dean also interacted with several people on campus, though none were able to positively identify him immediately after the incident occurred.

Dean is now being held by the state Division of Parole. A warrant has been issued for his arrest in the Nyack College case.

NASA supply rocket explodes over Virginia

An unmanned supply rocket carrying 5,000 pounds of supplies and experimental materials to the International Space Station exploded during its launch Tuesday evening, causing a massive, costly fireball but no casualties.

The Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft, the launch of which was delayed but subject to no serious technical concerns, went according to plan until the rocket began to tip slightly to the left. Soon thereafter, it exploded and landed on the platform, sending flames out 100 yards from the crash site.

The rocket and spacecraft, which cost a combined total of $200 million, also caused significant damage to the launch pad. Though only equipment was lost, Orbital Sciences Corp., which designed the rocket, stated the equipment was “very important.”

Orbital has initiated and will lead an investigation with the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA providing assistance. They expect to spend the coming days recovering debris, examine data from the launch and analyze video of the explosion to pinpoint the malfunction.

County legislator calls on manufacturers to stop production of offensive merchandise

A Rockland County Legislator has initiated a campaign against manufacturers who sell what he argues is merchandise with an anti-Irish message to local stores.

Leg. Patrick Moroney, who represents Pearl River, is aiming to pressure manufacturers from producing shirts, caps and other apparel, which typically go on sale at stores such as Spencer Gifts and Wal-Mart around St. Patrick’s Day. The items, which go into production around the fall, often contain stereotypical depictions of the Irish as problem drinkers.

The items have also prompted condemnation by Irish heritage groups such as Ancient Order of the Hibernians. Legislative resolutions were passed in 2013 and 2014 which condemned their sale, but no legal action has been brought to prevent what supporters of the retailers argue are messages protected by the First Amendment.

New York to join Connecticut and Vermont in challenge to new nuclear waste storage rules

The State of New York is set to join Connecticut and Vermont in a challenge to newly-issued federal rules on the storage of nuclear waste, including on-site storage at Indian Point.

According to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the new rules are inconsistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulations governing storage and safety issues. According to Schneiderman, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new rules also focus on matters which are irrelevant to the intended goals of protecting the environment and public health.

The new rules are the product of a federal case in 2012, also brought by the states in an effort to prompt a revision of the NRC’s rules. In that case, a federal appeals court determined the NRC regulations were not in compliance and ordered revisions to make them consistent with other existing federal laws.

Police search for clues in Washington high school shooting

A teen in Washington state opened fire in a crowded high school cafeteria last week, killing two and injuring four others.

According to police, the shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, was a popular freshman and Homecoming Prince at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which is about 34 miles north of Seattle. He reportedly invited the five victims to sit at the same table, after which he opened fire with a .40 caliber handgun.

Fryberg reportedly had trouble reloading and was confronted by a teacher during the attack before he committed suicide. The teacher, Megan Silberberger, did not reportedly make contact with the student, but has been hailed as a hero by students.

Zoe Galasso, 14, was killed at the scene while Gia Soriano, 14, died later at Providence Regional Medical Center. Two other students were listed in critical condition while one remains in serious condition.

Fryberg did not announce an explicit motive, but police are currently examining social media for a precise cause for the attack. Other students have told police Fryberg might have been involved in a love triangle involving two of the victims.

New City liquor store loses license for sale to a minor

A New City liquor store lost its license last Tuesday after it sold alcohol to a minor, a repeat offense for the establishment.

Nikunj Inc., which conducts business with Little Tor Liquors on Little Tor Road, had its license revoed by the New York State Liquor Authority for selling to a minor on May 2 of this year. The sale was the third strike for the establishment, which has raked in fines from prior SLA infractions in 2012 and 2013.

New poll reveals broad disapproval of all parties in Congress, record low for Dems

A recently-released poll by the Washington Post and ABC revealed a strong antipathy toward Congress and particularly toward Congressional Democrats.

The poll shows a 67 percent disapproval rating for Democrats compared to a 30 percent approval rating. The figure is the highest recorded disapproval rating within the past 20 years and might be due to declining support from African Americans, only 50 percent of whom support the party.

At the same time, Republicans are in even more dire straits. The same poll show only 25 percent of respondents approve of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, as opposed to 72 percent who disapprove.

U.S. money going toward televised sports coverage upgrades in Afghanistan

A letter from Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko to Secretary of State John Kerry was made public last week, revealing $3.6 million in taxpayer-funded contracts had gone toward television production equipment for Afghan TV networks.

The contracts are meant to provide TV production trucks for Afghan sport matches including soccer, cricket, and buzkashi, a polo-like game involving a stuffed goat skin instead of a ball. The contracts were initially valued at $6 million in 2013, but were amended to include less vehicles.

Nonetheless, Sopko balked at the contracts, which he argued were rife with misstatements of costs and potential management errors. Sopko has called for the cancellation of the contracts.

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