Timelines 9/24/15

Route 303 bypass for cyclists planned in Orangeburg
The Town of Orangetown will lay down a new bike path for cyclists in Orangeburg, who have long expressed concern with their current use of Route 303 to access Greenbush Road.
Greenbush is separated into two branches with only 303, a busy state highway, connecting them. To cross from one branch to the other, cyclists must travel along the side of the highway in an area particularly prone to accidents.
To prevent such incidents, state and local officials announced plans for a 10 foot wide path, which would run parallel to 303 and would be accessible to bikers and pedestrians. A total of $100,000 in funding for the project has already been secured by State Sen. David Carlucci, allowing the work to proceed with no need for local tax dollars.
Minor construction, drainage and tree-felling work will likely take place at the site until its projected completion in the summer of 2016.
“Happy Birthday” song copyright struck down in court
The timeless “Happy Birthday” song might soon be in the public domain after a federal court struck down a notorious copyright on the jingle.
The ruling, handed down by Los Angeles District Judge George King on Tuesday, found that Warner/Chappell Music, who held the copyright, could only maintain exclusive use of a few particular arrangements, not the broader use of the song. Warner/Chappell had been enforcing their claim to the tune of about $2 million in royalties per year.
The song, initially written by sisters Mildred J. Hill and Patty Smith Hill, was copyrighted in 1935. Since then, it was passed to Clayton F. Summy Co., sold to the Birch Tree Group and eventually wound up in the hands of Warner/Chappell.
Pharmaceutical CEO rolls back drastic price increase on critical drug
In response to public uproar over a 4,000% price hike on a critical antibiotic, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli announced on Tuesday that he would reverse the broadly unpopular pricing decision.
Shkreli, 32, announced he would reduce the price for Daraprim, a drug designed to treat toxoplasmosis, after he became an object of scorn among health and patients’ rights organizations, public officials and lay commentators. The CEO had previously stated Turing planned to raise the price from about $18.50 per pill to $750, making it unaffordable to even patients with insurance.
Toxoplasmosis is a potentially deadly parasitic infection which largely impacts patients with sensitive immune systems, including those with cancer and HIV. As such, the inaccessibility of Daraprim provoked anger from those who claimed patients would suffer serious harm if the drug was priced out of the range of most customers.
Shkreli initially defended his decision, arguing profits would go toward further research into the drug. The former hedge fund manager turned entrepreneur also defended his decision on Twitter with crass and occasionally bizarre tweets, including calling a critical editor of a biotech industry newsletter a “moron” and quoting lyrics by hip hop artist Eminem.
With the revised decision, Shkreli announced the price of Daraprim would be dropped to the point that it would yield a small profit. The exact price tag on the drug is not yet known.
Scott Walker drops from presidential race
Amid abysmal poll numbers and fundraising woes, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker decided this week to drop from the Republican presidential primaries.
Walker, who has been a conservative darling since his efforts to weaken unions’ collective bargaining power in his home state, ran into financial troubles very early when his sizable campaign could not support its expenses. By September, Walker and his organizers had to scale back operations, cut staff and focus on the Iowa primaries.
At the same time, donors grew wary of the campaign’s direction, with many questioning Walker’s campaign manager Rick Wiley. According to insider reports, donors accused Wiley of organizing a campaign that was too large to sustain. Returns from grassroots-level fundraising similarly fell well below estimates as public support dropped to near rock bottom levels.
Reports from insiders also indicated that Walker, a characteristically frugal man, was disturbed at a mounting debt which reached $700,000 in only a few months and the prospect of about a million in new debt from bare bones activity in Iowa alone.
Migrants posing as Syrians to get to Europe
Migrants arriving from across the Middle East and North Africa are posing as Syrians to get asylum, according to European leaders responsible for controlling the flood of refugees into Europe and journalists documenting the crisis.
The European Union aims to spread about 160,000 settled refugees out over member states, with the largest portions in Germany, France and Spain. European officials agreed to accept refugees from civil wars in Syria and Afghanistan, but made clear that economic migrants posing as Syrians or Afghans would be deported.
Reports by news media indicated that migrants frequently pose as Syrians, ditching their passports at transit hubs in Turkey or the Balkan states before purchasing forged Syrian documents at national borders and heading to countries like Germany that promise sizable public benefits. Reporters and aid workers also related instances when migrants would speak in non-Syrian accents even as they claimed to be Syrian.
Observers have also warned the flood of undocumented migrants has concealed former combatants, criminals and ISIS sympathizers, some of whom have already been detained or identified in photographs of the ongoing conflict.
Middle Eastern Christians facing unique challenges as migrants
As the war on ISIS rages on, some of the most vulnerable Christian populations in Syria and Iraq are struggling to survive both in their homeland and abroad.
Christians in Syria, particularly Christians from the Assyrian ethnic group, have been hard hit by the conflict in the region. Alongside other religious minorities such as Kurds and Yezidi, they are often targets for kidnapping, sexual slavery and ethnic cleansing orchestrated by ISIS.
At the same time, they have found little comfort in refugee camps. Though many found refuge in neighboring states with Christian populations like Lebanon, those who migrated to Europe often encounter persecution at the hands of fellow refugees, most of whom are Muslim and some of whom have ties to radical groups.
The situation has grown so bad that the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met with British PM David Cameron to discuss what steps could be taken to get around the unique obstacles standing in the way of Christian migrants.
Since the war began, 11 of 33 ethnically Assyrian villages in the region have been seized by the Islamic State. About 10 percent of the nation’s population was Syrian prior to the war.

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